Savin’ Space with Pocket Doors

Pocket doors are doors that slide into a wall instead of opening on a hinge like most conventional doors. They have been used for over a century in order to save space, both in cramped areas and in the central areas of Victorian style homes in order to close off large areas such as sitting rooms and dens. If you’re looking for a space saving solution in closets, bathrooms or in larger homes with interior French doors, these innovative door solutions are the answer you’ve been looking for.

Where Did it Go?

The benefit of this type of door is obvious. Traditional swinging doors hung on a hinge can take up as much as 10 square feet of your living space just to accommodate the space they need to swing open and closed. A pocket door, on the other hand, simply slides into a frame installed within the wall, freeing up the space that a conventional door occupies. They are particularly suited to cramped, small areas, such as half-baths and small closets, where a swinging door takes up valuable space and often is an inconvenience to those using them. And in more wide open homes where French doors are often installed between living areas, they free up valuable space for furniture and foot traffic.

Quiet as a Mouse

One of the major complaints of this style of door in the past has been that older versions ran on steel runners and rollers and were noticeably noisy in comparison to their hinged counterparts. Not the case anymore. The runners are still made of solid steel, but the most common rollers are now made of a hard nylon material, reducing the noise they make when the door is opened or shut. Deluxe ball bearing rollers are also available that reduce the noise to almost nothing.

The innovations in runner technology have also alleviated one of the other drawbacks of these types of doors that arose mid-century, when poor products often resulted in doors that jumped the tracks inside the wall. Modern doors rarely have this problem because of the high quality products currently available on the market.

Not for Everywhere

The one drawback of these doors is that they can’t be used just anywhere. Because they necessitate a special frame to house them, several factors must be taken into account before they are installed.

Obviously they will only work where there is enough interior wall space to house the door, but you also need to take into account things such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and ductwork, as the space needed for the door and frame won’t be able to accommodate these features of your home.

Finally, while the frame is plenty strong to be installed in most interior walls, it is not as strong as regular framing. That being the case, you can’t install a pocket door in areas where extra strength is needed, such as load bearing walls or walls where heavier home features such as cabinets are already installed.

A Few Extra Thoughts

While these innovative doors are convenient as a space saving alternative, they also have other benefits. They are handicapped accessible and make it easier for those in wheelchairs to maneuver around a home, and some of the more novel designs include multiple panel glass doors for luxury homes that allow the homeowner to open up an entire wall to the outdoors when the weather permits. Regardless of your need, a cramped bathroom or a sprawling great room, pocket doors are a convenient, attractive and space saving alternative door option.

Brighten Your Home with Sliding Glass Doors

Is your living room or kitchen a bit gloomy? Or do you have a beautiful backyard landscape that remains hidden from inside the house? These problems are probably due to the lack of windows in your home. Additional light in any room can make it look bigger, more open, and bright. Plus, you are then able to have a better view of your backyard, garden, or patio. Though creating a window space in a wall is certainly possible, another more affordable option is to replace you entryways and exits with sliding glass doors. These doors not only provide windows, they also make for easy entrances onto decks, porches, or patios.

Different Designs
Sliding glass doors have come a long way in the past few years. They no longer use clunky plastic panes and trim. Today, these units come in many different design options. Maybe you want multiple doors joined together; or maybe you want them small and subtle. Would you like them to come in aluminum, vinyl, woods, metal, or fiberglass? Do you want them top-hung from your entryway in order to avoid any dirt, leaves, or debris in the glide track? As you can see, the options are limitless in terms of style and design, so the difficult part about investing in sliding glass doors is actually choosing the best fit due to their wide selection.

Just because these doors are made of glass doesn’t mean they are fragile. In fact, they offer quite a bit of protection to you and your home. If you live in an area with a lot of insects you may want to select a door with screens that open and shut so you can let in fresh air yet still create a barrier from unwanted pests. You can also install double pane doors in order to soundproof your home from outdoor disturbances.

If you choose to layer your doors (installing two doors with a small gap of air between them) for additional security, you can also create a natural form of insulation, thereby driving down your utility bills. Though people often think that these doors leak heat in the winter and increase the temperature during summer months, if you buy appropriate weather stripping and insulated glass, you can in fact generate more efficiency in your energy costs, especially if you invest in glazed glass with a low-E coating.

Accessory Options
There used to be limitations to these doors, but now with modern-day innovations, they can serve the same functions as any other doorway. You can still install pet-doors with specialized systems. And if you’re afraid that they are too convenient in that there is too much easy access, there are now even security options for parents who want to apply setting restrictions for kids. These systems only allow the door to slide open to a certain degree, making them exceptionally childproof.

Plus, if you don’t want your home exposed to nosy neighbors all the time but don’t want to cover up with curtains and shades either, there several alternatives: etched glass, stained glass, and even adhesive-free vinyl film designs that stick right to the door are ways to let the light in but keep wandering eyes out.

If you have the opposite problem in that you wish more light could enter the room, then folding doors are maybe your best option: doors which can open up the entire wall to a sunroom, an enclosed porch, or a patio, yet can also close at your convenience. And as always, there a many traditional window treatments to choose from: horizontal and vertical blinds, sashes and curtains, or maybe decorative screens that can cover the window whenever desired.

What Material to Choose for Effective Kitchen Bathroom Remodeling

When it comes to remodel or make a new bathroom and kitchen in the home, Countertops materials and colors really set the tone for your overall bathroom and kitchen designs. Countertops come in number of colors, styles, pattern and materials each with its own special qualities. In addition to making a statement bathroom and kitchen countertops can still be practical, providing additional workspace.

By customizing your bathroom countertop, you will be able to address all of your bathroom needs and add your own personal sense of style. You will need to choose for your bathroom design project a countertop that can accept your major fixtures like your shower, toilet, vanity, etc. Bathroom vanities countertops are made from materials that are durable and, and are also quite easy to maintain. Most countertops are constructed by combining a base of plywood or particleboard that then spans across the top of a cabinet and the finish surface material.

Kitchen, The Heart of Home needs some more attention while being designed for its appearance and hardness. While functionality is important in the kitchen since the kitchen countertops take more of a beating that bathroom countertops do, when it comes to bathroom countertops you are more able to consider appearance above all else. Since bathroom countertops are generally custom-made, you will find that the style and design options are wide open.

Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling can be done using countertops that come in many types of surfaces and materials. These include: laminate, marble, and granite.

Laminate: Laminate represents the lowest installed cost and a wide choice of colors, patterns and textures. While laminate is stain and scuff resistant is can still be susceptible to burns and nicks.

Marble: It is known for its beauty, but is soft and porous and can stain easily. Nevertheless marble still remains a top choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops and bathroom vanities countertops. Marble is available in slab or tile forms and in a variety of thicknesses.

Granite: Granite comes in numerous designs and colors with different finishes ranging from high polish to matte and rough- texture. Due to its beauty and durability granite is a more high-end choice for countertops. It is less susceptible to scratching and absorption than marble. Granite Kitchen and bathroom countertops withstand heat and the high usage that a bathroom counter would be exposed to.

Solid Surface: Man made and exceptionally tough this manufactured made of acrylic or polyester is effectively maintained. It comes in different colors and surfaces. Solid surfacing material is utilized to manufacture ledges, shower walled in areas and even floors. It is not modest, indeed it can cost just about as much as marble or stone. It is impenetrable to scraped spots, water and gouges that could happen after some time. Furthermore, it is anything but difficult to repair if vital. Strong surface materials have an enduring sturdiness requiring insignificant upkeep.

Don’t Ignore the Foundation of Your Home Repairs

The condition of every single home relies on the strength of the foundation beneath it and the shield of the roof above it. When a roofing system fails, often the first sign of trouble is a wet spot on your ceiling. So it is with your home’s foundation. When your concrete slab is no longer holding your home perfectly steady, walls and floors can begin to move, causing doors and windows from properly opening and closing, drywall to crack, or your siding to crumble and peel away from your home. More than visible markers, these problems are often the first sign that something is wrong with your home’s foundation.

One, if by Land: Unstable Soil and Shifting Foundations
Your home may seem immovable, but in fact, it’s vulnerable to the immense forces of the Earth beneath it. Geological events can make even sturdy, well-built homes seem like sand castles or cardboard cutouts. Soil erosion, shifting land masses, and sinkholes underneath your home are not things that can be easily prevented, but it is something to carefully watch out for. Quickly identifying problems with your home and having them checked out can reduce the cost of these surface repairs and the cost to fix the foundation itself.

ServiceMagic compiles data on homeowner service requests for each major U.S. city, including foundation repair. Some of the cities known for their loose soil, landslides, and damage to residential foundations include Atlanta, Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. That said, just because you don’t live in one of these cities doesn’t mean your home is safe from “slow landslides” and eroding topsoil. Likewise, just because you do live in one of these cities don’t necessarily mean your home’s foundation is under eminent threat of damage. If your house showing signs of movement, such as windows, doors, drywall, or siding damage, you should probably have someone look at your foundation for signs of trouble.

Two, if by Sea: Water Damage and Lawn Drainage
A perfect catch-22, while homes on severely sloped lots tend to be susceptible to landslides, homes on relatively flat lots tend to be susceptible to sitting water and inadequate lawn drainage. Gutter damage, poorly designed downspouts, and/or the inability of your lawn to divert water, can cause water to surround your foundation. This can, in turn, lead to basement flooding, soil erosion, and freeze/thaw cycles that can actually cause cracks in your concrete slab. Water damaged foundations tend to create even larger headaches than those of slow landslides, but water damage is also more easily preventable. So long as you keep up on your guttering system in good working condition, get semi-annual roof inspections, and watch out for the build up of water on your lawn after a heavy rain, chances are you’ll be able to identify and fix problem areas before they fester into costly damage.

If your home is on uncommonly flat terrain, you may some trouble keeping the water off your lawn and away from your foundation. Installing a drainage system isn’t difficult but finding out where this water can be diverted is often a bigger issue. You can’t simply point a trench drain at your neighbor’s lawn. Local governments also tend to be reluctant about letting you divert your rainwater runoff into a municipal sewer system. As a final resort, you may need to dig and install a dry well that will send your runoff into the groundwater. Installing a dry well requires securing a building permit from state of federal environmental agencies.

Fighting Back: Mudslinging
Actually, the professionals call it mudjacking. Regardless of what initially caused problems with your home’s foundation, the ensuing expansion, contraction, or compaction must be dealt with. The foundation should be raised or altered to its original specifications, but mudjacking is what helps keep it there. This process involves pumping soil-cement using low-pressure hydraulics to ensure the soil-cement will properly fill the voids beneath your foundation. Another method of foundation repair is called piping or piering, a technique that uses steel pipe reinforcements to salvage failed home foundations.

Ways to Hire the Right Home Improvement Contractor

Every now and then, we need a contractor for small home improvement jobs. Whether it is house painting or wallpaper hanging, these little jobs can dramatically change the look of your house. Hiring a professional is very important to get the desired results. But, this may not be an easy task.

Here are five points that you should take care to find the right assistance when improving your home.

  1. Make a list of all the improvements that you need to carry out. Discuss with your wallpaper hanging contractor how you want everything to appear after it is all finished.
  2. Research is one of the most important steps in deciding the right home improvement contractor. You can save a lot of time, money and energy if you find a service provider with accreditation from the licensing boards.
  3. Ask people from the immediate circle who have used the services of the home improvement industry and are happy with the end results. You can also ask for references of former clients during your research.
  4. Most contractors today provide free estimates. Contact different home improvement contractors for free estimate and full price quote.
  5. If the contractor has proof of some kind of insurance, then it is safe. Most reputable contactors provide insurance provision to their customers to avoid any unforeseen expenses.

With so many home improvement contractors making a beeline, it is important that you narrow down your options and decide whom you want to work with. You can find out the best professional service provider keeping in mind their availability, price and client testimonials.

These simple tips can provide insight into what you will receive from your chosen wallpaper hanging contractor or house painting contractor. These tips are helpful to choose literally any kind of home improvement service you choose. Every reputed and professional company understands very well the power of referrals. Therefore, they will make sure that their clients are always happy and satisfied. By assigning your home improvement project to such a company you can enjoy peace of mind. You can assure yourself that your project went to the right hands and that you will receive the worth of every penny spent.

Going Green: Foundations, Retaining Walls, and Waterproofing

When it comes to green remodeling, high profile items like low e, multiple paned windows, photovoltaic solar panels, and ENERGY STAR rated appliances get all the press. But some of the greenest things you can do for your home are a lot less visible— like greening your foundation, retaining walls, or taking on a basement waterproofing project. Whether you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly form of foundation construction, or are more interested in green basement and foundation waterproofing solutions for a healthier home, here’s a handful of suggestions from HomeAdvisor that should help you get off on the right foot.

Going Green with David Johnston
HomeAdvisor understands that it can be tough for homeowners to wade through all the “green” remodeling information out there, which is why we’re happy to announce that we’ve teamed up with green remodeling expert David Johnston to provide you with the best, most accurate, green remodeling advice in the business. David Johnston is the founder of the green consulting firm What’s Working, Inc., the author of multiple books on green remodeling (including the Nautilus Award winner Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time), and he happens to know a thing or two about going green when it comes to building foundations, waterproofing below grade, and even how to add a green touch to things like retaining walls and backfill. Here’s a green project guide from the man himself to help ensure your home is built green from the bottom up.

The Cost of Green Remodeling
Before we get to specific suggestions, let’s take a moment to look at the cost of going green. After all, budget is a big concern on any remodeling project, and rumor has it that going green can add to your bottom line. The truth of the matter is that greening a foundation or waterproofing project is very cost-competitive compared to conventional means, and it can even save you money. And if going green does end up costing you a little bit more at the outset, don’t forget that green foundations are generally stronger, better insulated (which means lower energy costs), and more waterproof, which can save you some major headaches, repairs, and ultimately a lot of money, as the years roll by.

Cost vs. Value: Assigning Worth the Green Way
Despite all that, Johnston is also quick to stress that homeowners should be careful about getting too wrapped up in dollar figures when deciding whether to go green. Why? Because the true value of going green is far higher than any bottom line. Going green with foundations and waterproofing leads to healthier homes, higher quality builds, low maintenance foundations and basements, and most importantly, it means you’re supporting a more sustainable way of doing things and contributing to a better world to pass on to future generations. When you put it that way, it’s easy to see what Johnston is getting at when he says that the true value of going green is impossible to put a price tag on.

Green Suggestions for an Environmentally Friendly & Energy-Efficient Foundation
So, just what are your options when it comes to going green with foundations, retaining walls, and waterproofing? Here’s a list of suggestions on going green, drawn from the wisdom, experience, and writings of Johnston himself, that will help you to increase energy efficiency, reduce your environmental impact, and create a healthier home.

  • Use Concrete that Contains Recycled Waste—The bad news is that cement production is a major source of world carbon dioxide emissions. The good news is that as much as 50 percent of the Portland cement added to concrete can be replaced by recycled waste materials, including fly ash from coal fired power plants, rice hull ash, and ground blast furnace slag. Even better, these additives can increase the strength, water resistance, and durability of the concrete (though they will slow drying times).
  • Insulate Your Foundation Using Rigid Insulated Concrete Forms or Rigid Foam Insulation—Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are innovative interlocking rigid foam blocks and panels that hold concrete in place during the curing process, and serve as an extra layer of insulation for your foundation once things have dried. If you don’t use ICFs, consider adding a 2-inch layer of rigid closed cell foam insulation to the exterior of your foundation before you backfill.
  • Use Environmentally Friendly Building Products—Many products associated with foundation construction, such as petroleum based form-release agents and damp proofing materials, can release harmful VOCs into the air and lead to soil and groundwater contamination. Use environmentally friendly, biodegradable options instead.
  • Reuse Form Boards or Use Metal Forms—Form boards often consist of larger, solid lumber harvested from old growth trees that are discarded after a single use. Use reusable metal forms instead, or save old form boards for use on future projects.
  • Use Recycled Concrete for Backfill and Retaining Walls—There is a lot of old concrete out there that can be broken into blocks and used to build retaining walls or crushed to provide backfill and facilitate good drainage. You’ll save money over buying more expensive materials, and save some useful “waste” from ending up in the landfill.
  • Install Non-vented Crawlspaces & Insulate Crawlspace Areas—Since crawlspaces are uninhabited, outdoor ventilation isn’t really necessary. Unventilated crawlspaces will stay cooler in the summer, and drier in the winter when moisture buildup can be a problem. Furthermore, consider insulating your crawlspace walls and applying a layer of polyethylene sheeting to the floor and walls to keep moisture levels down.

Green Suggestions for a Healthier Home from the Bottom Up
While energy efficiency and environmental stewardship are both at the top of the green remodeling priority list, creating healthier homes is just as important. When it comes to creating healthier foundations and basements, addressing radon mitigation and waterproofing should be center stage. High radon levels are closely linked to lung cancer, while moisture issues can lead to a host of indoor air quality issues, including the development of toxic mold that is associated with everything from immune and nervous system disorders to cancer and respiratory issues. Here’s what you can do to green your new foundation or basement in the health department.

  • Test for High Radon Levels—Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, invisible radioactive gas that leaches into your indoor environment from the surrounding soil, making it particularly dangerous for below grade living areas. How dangerous is it? It’s been identified by the EPA as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., behind smoking cigarettes. Professional and self-administered tests are available to determine if radon levels in your home are at dangerous levels.
  • Install Radon Mitigation—Radon mitigation is a must if radon levels in your home are high enough. There are many measures you can take, including installing sub-slab ventilation systems, airtight membranes over sub-floors in main living areas, and polyethylene air barriers over exposed dirt in crawlspaces. You can also seal cracks and joints in your foundation with caulking or foam, and install a gas trap in floor drains and sump pumps. If radon levels continue to be a problem, a fan powered radon mitigation system is the weapon of last resort.
  • Extend Gutter Spouts Away From the Home—Sounds almost too easy, but this is one of the most efficient ways to divert moisture away from your foundation, helping to eliminate the health and structural issues that excess moisture can cause.
  • Add Gravel Filled Drains (Dutch Drains) at the Bottom of Drainage Pipes—If you have moisture problems in your basement or crawlspace, consider installing gravel filled drainage pipes beneath ground level at the bottom of drainage pipes or in other areas where water collects close to your home.
  • Install a Rooftop Water Catchment System—Rooftop catchment systems collect runoff in cisterns, wells, or drums. They help to reduce the moisture that reaches your foundation, while at the same time collecting runoff that can be reused for landscaping purposes.
  • Properly Slope Landscaping Away from the House—Sometimes the most obvious solution is the most effective one. Making sure that landscaping slopes away from your home is the best way to prevent moisture from infiltrating your foundation or basement in the first place.
  • Install Basement Waterproofing—If these simple drainage solutions don’t solve your moisture issues, you should consider more extensive waterproofing measures, including sub-slab drainage systems, sump pumps, or a more comprehensive moisture mitigation system if necessary.

Which Shade of Green is Right for You?
While thinking green when it comes to foundations, retaining walls, and below grade waterproofing is a smart choice for your pocketbook, your home, your health, and the environment, it’s not unusual for homeowners to feel a little overwhelmed when presented with the full scope of green remodeling options. If you’re feeling unsure about how green you’re willing to go with your upcoming project, there’s no need to worry. Going green is not an all-or-nothing proposition, whether you decide to test for radon and extend your rain gutters, or go all out with recycled content concrete, full basement waterproofing, and a radon mitigation system.