Getting the Best Value When Buying a New Roof

A leaky roof is no laughing matter. If you have cracked or missing shingles, they should be addressed immediately to avoid expensive water damage to your home. A professional roofing contractor can help you assess the damage and can make recommendations on materials, but it always pays to know what you’re getting into. This guide will help equip you with what you need to know in order to make the most cost-effective decision for your new roof.

Roofing 101

There are five basic elements to any roofing system. The roof covering itself consists of what you would think of as the roofing material—shingles, tiles, slate, or metal—and the underlayment, or layer of roofing felt that keeps the sheathing from getting wet. The sheathing covers the top of the home and consists of boards or sheet materials. Under the sheathing, the roof structure—rafters or trusses—supports the roof. Flashing, typically made of sheet metal, is installed in the joints and valleys of the roof and keeps water from seeping under the roof. The “drainage” of the roof consists of the design features of the roof that allow it to shed water.

Roofing materials are sold by the “square,” which is a 100-square-foot area. Consumer Reports recommends three main types of roofing: asphalt shingles, fake slate shingles, and metal roofing. Asphalt shingles are the most popular and come in laminated and three-tab varieties. Laminated asphalt shingles are preferable over three-tab shingles because they are more durable. Fake slate shingles are a bit more expensive—though not as expensive as actual slate—and weigh about as much as asphalt shingles, though they tend to be much more slippery. Metal roofing, though expensive, is ultra-lightweight and has the added benefit of keeping your home cooler in the summer.

Remember that if you already have two layers of shingles in place, building codes dictate that they must be removed before a new roof is installed. In addition to shingles, you will also need a new underlayment, or waterproof barrier, installed beneath them to keep your home dry.

Choosing a Contractor

The number one way to save money on a roof is to select a quality roofing contractor who will do the job right the first time. But choosing a roofing contractor can be an intimidating task. Here are a few guidelines to make selecting a qualified professional much easier:

  • Make sure the contractor is insured and licensed.
  • Look for a permanent place of business.
  • Ask for client references in order to verify that the contractor has a good track record.
  • Get a written proposal of the work to be done, including complete, detailed descriptions of tasks to be done, specifications, approximate start and end dates, and procedures for payment.
  • Have the contractor explain their system of supervision and quality control, including what types of training they provide for their workers.
  • Check to see if the contractor is a member of any industry associations.
  • Make sure you thoroughly read and understand all warranties offered in conjunction with the work and roofing materials.

Energy Efficiency

One of the best ways to save money in the long run is to invest in a roof that makes your home more energy efficient. The most obvious way to do this is to go solar, but that can be extremely expensive. It is also worth mentioning, however, that using light-coloured tiles or shingles can help you save money on heating and cooling costs for your home. Studies show that the surface temperature of a white roof can differ from those of a black roof by as much as 23.7 degrees Celsius. There is not much cost difference between lighter roofing materials versus the more traditional darker ones, so it can be worth it in the long run to invest in a high-quality, light-colored roof in order to make your home more energy efficient.

Replacing a roof can be a costly procedure, but by choosing the right roofing contractor and materials, you can still save a great deal of money. Armed with the knowledge in this guide, you can rest easy knowing that you are making the best possible selection for your situation.


Increasing appeal of kitchen knives and its addition in modern kitchen set ups

There has been an increasing appeal in the field of kitchen knives in modern times. Earlier in traditional kitchens, there wasn’t much need of knives due to the availability of other gears and equipments. Modern kitchens with its several benefits and effective technologies have also included the use of such knives and tools as a necessary kitchen ware.

Since then there has been many innovations in the sphere of knives. Due to its wide appeal and popularity, kitchen knives are being developed with many advanced features for the convenience of the customers. Kitchen knives nowadays aren’t just used for cutting and slicing vegetables. Their functions extend in a lot of ways. From mincing meat to filleting fish and carving out structures from vegetables, knives have proven their worth in a lot of ways. Knives are used for dicing and smashing small herbs and veggies as well.

Among the popular kitchen knives like boning and carving knives, the Chef’s knife is very popular among the people. With excellent cutting prowess and sharp blades, the chef’s knife is claimed to be the biggest investment in the kitchen. Despite of its high cost, people still opt to buy this tool. Hence the damascus knife set fulfils most functions that other individual knives fail to specialize in. The polished and smoothened polymer is said to increase the support and grip of the knife and ensures the least scope of harm that can be caused.

The best chef knife as the most basic kitchen tool

The best chef knife is regarded as the most basic kitchen knife in modern kitchens. Also referred to as the cook’s knife it continues to remain the favorite of most chefs young and old. Due to its multiple benefits, it is known as the multipurpose kitchen tool and it promises to be a durable and efficient tool in the kitchen. The high performance of the knife is because of its razor sharp blades and holding capacity of the cutting edges. These features not only helps the users to generate more control over their tool but also makes them able to finish up their work at a greater pace with elegance.

Superb surface and quality

Due to such benefits, the chef’s knife is considered to be a necessary kitchen tool for a young learner in order to improve their cooking skills and get learn the expertise behind smart and quick knife skills. Among the other kitchen knives, the Chef’s knife is said to be the preferred choice among most celebrity chefs as well. Its excellent edge holding capacity provides for a safer and effective working. Its ability to cut through the most tough and hardy texture, makes it more demanding. Chef’s knife is such kitchen equipment that is available in most household as well as industrial kitchens. Its fine surface gives us fine evidence of its superb quality.

Yet in order to get the maximum advantage provide by the chef’s knife, it is also essential to take care of the kitchen knife and maintain it properly. There should be no scope of rusting and combustion since this eventually decays the sharp blades and makes it useless. Though a bit pricey, the kitchen tool delivers what the others knives fail to.

Check out the custom damascus knives offered by Gladiators Guild.


Brick or Stone: Walkway and Pathway Materials to Use

We use walkways and pathways as paths or passageways to walk on. They usually connect different parts of our house and yard. It is important to make sure that walkways and pathways are safe and made with materials that are durable. However, beauty and creativity are also top concerns when building walkways and pathways. Pathways complement your backyard and can draw people to your garden. Your budget and the size are also important considerations. There are many types of materials you can use for your pathways. Familiarize yourself with the materials and see which type fits your backyard and garden.

Materials Used in Pathways and Walkways

  1. Stone

Stone is a sturdy material that can be used in pathways and walkways. They are easy to install and not too expensive. As a natural material, a stone pathway evokes an earthy and rugged atmosphere. You can use even or irregularly shaped stones depending on what design you want to create. However, make sure that the surface of your stones are not too smooth. Stones that do not have texture will be slippery especially when wet. Examples of stones used in pathways are limestone and granite.

  1. Brick

Brick is usually made rectangular units of natural clay.  When laid in patterns and courses, bricks are quite durable and charming to look at. Brick was a popular material used in 19th century pavements. Using brick for your pathways will create an antique and elegant feel to your garden. Although bricks chip and crack over time, brick structures are still very durable.

  1. Concrete

A durable material made of a mixture of aggregates of stone, sand and cement. Depending on the different proportions of these materials, you can produce concrete of varying strengths. Concrete is a cost-efficient material to work with when building pathways because you can be sure that they will last for a long time. Using concrete gives you more flexibility in shaping your pathway. It is low maintenance and easy to clean.

  1. Gravel

Gravel is a mixture of pebbles, sand and small stones. Some roadways use gravel as material. Gravel is inexpensive and has been extensively used in gardens and pathways. A gravel pathway is easy to install and less time consuming. Available in different colors and sizes, gravel can be designed to look formal with a stone border or when lined with plants.

  1. Mulch

Mulch is composed of organic material like leaves, wood chips, sawdust and tree barks, and are typically used as covering for soil. A mulch pathway is also inexpensive and easy to make. Comfortable and soft to walk on, a mulch pathway is also environment -friendly.

Written by Clark Jones, owner of Tree Frog Complete Grounds Maintenance. Tree Frog is the best company for landscaping in Columbia, MO.


How to Install Tile Kitchen Backsplash

Adding tiles to your backsplash is both a great and easy way to liven up your kitchen. Whether you are using glass tiles, ceramic tiles, or porcelain tiles, these instructions will help you turn a free weekend into a beautiful new look for your kitchen.

Step 1: Get Your Supplies

Take a trip to your local tile supplier and pick out your tiles (wholesale tile is a great way to save money). Next, go on down to your local hardware store and pick up the following items (you may already have some of these at home). If you are unsure what type of item you need, ask the salesperson for a recommendation based on your tile:

  • Screwdriver
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Level
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Bucket
  • Mastic
  • V-notched trowel
  • Score-and-snap tile cutter
  • Motorized wetsaw (you can rent this)
  • Grout
  • Rubber grout float
  • Tub-and-tile caulk

Step 2: Prepare the Area

In the area you plan to put the tiles, remove switchplates and outlet covers, sand the wall to roughen the surface, and wipe away dust with a wet rag. Measure the area to find the exact centre, and using a pencil, draw a vertical line that is perpendicular to the counter.

Step 3: Apply the Mastic

Using the trowel, apply the mastic to your starting area, which will be to one side of your centre line along what will be the bottom row. It is okay to overlap the centre line with the mastic a bit. Your starting area should be big enough to cover about eight tiles. While applying, hold the trowel diagonally and use a sweeping motion to spread the mastic evenly. Make sure you fill in any bare places.

Step 4: Set the First Row

Take your first tile and place the edge right on the centre line. Leave a few millimeters of space between the tile and the counter, and make sure that the tile is exactly level with the counter. It is encouraged to use the plastic spacers to ensure that the spacing between the tile and the counter are consistent. Using the same process, set several more tiles until the mastic is covered. Then, moving along the wall, apply more mastic and continue placing tiles until you have set the entire bottom row of tiles. Work quickly and carefully to ensure that the mastic does not dry. If a thin skin of dryness does begin to form over the top of the mastic, you must scrape the wall clean and apply fresh mastic.

Step 5: Set the Rest of the Tiles

Above the first row, continue setting tiles in the desired pattern. Before applying, it is important to make a note of any areas along the edges where tiles will need to be cut in order to fit. To make a measurement, place a full tile in the space needed, and mark the line where the cut will need to be made. Use the score-and-snap tile cutter for straight cuts and the motorized wetsaw for shaped cuts (like corners or notches).

If you are placing a complicated design—and even if you aren’t—dry-fitting the tiles before placement is highly encouraged. This ensures that you have made all necessary cuts to the tiles before you place your mastic. Having to stop and make cuts during the tile-laying process will increase the chances that your mastic will start to dry on you and you will have to reapply it—not a fun process.

When you are finally ready to place tiles, work from the bottom up. As with the first row, apply enough mastic for a few tiles at a time, going one row at a time. Use spacers liberally to make the work easier.

Step 6: Let the Mastic Dry

After placing all the tiles, let the mastic sit overnight in order to dry completely.

Step 7: Apply the Grout

Following the directions on the carton of grout, mix it in a clean bucket. Use the grout float to apply the grout. As with the mastic, you want to apply the grout diagonally. Press it deeply into the joints as you go, but don’t get any along the edges.

Step 8: Clean the Grout from the Surface

Once you’ve applied grout to the whole backsplash, clean the surface with a wet sponge or rag. Wipe in a sweeping motion diagonally to the grout lines and be careful not to pull any grout from between the tiles. After 30–45 minutes the grout will have started to set (a film will begin to appear); at this point, buff the tiles with a dry cloth until they are shiny again.

Step 9: Apply the Caulk

Along the edges of the backsplash, including the area between the counter and the tiles, apply a row of caulk. Using a wet finger, smooth the surface of the caulk. Allow to dry.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Sit back and enjoy your beautiful new backsplash!


Renovating Your House? Here’s How to Add Value Where It Matters

There’s probably only two reasons why you would want to renovate your home – you’re tired of the way it looks and need a change or you simply want to get a better price for it when you sell.

If you’re renovating for personal reasons, it makes sense to focus on the aesthetics and make the house look the way you want it to. But if your intention is to get a better price, simply making the house prettier won’t help. You need to focus on the parts that matter the most to buyers.

So, here’s how you can renovate to add value to your house :

Remodel the Kitchen

There’s a list of things buyers would most like to see in a house they intend to buy and a great kitchen is top priority. It doesn’t need to be an expensive remodelling, but you need to make the kitchen a lot more appealing if you want to fetch a better price. Add more lighting where you can, repaint the walls and repair all the appliances before you let the buyers through the door.

Add to the Bathroom

Next in line on the buyer priority list is the bathroom. Add some better lighting and some of the new fixtures that are now available. The key to getting a value out of the home is to add space and you can never go wrong with more space in either the kitchen or bathroom. In fact, HGTV estimates that seller can fetch double the amount they invest in adding another bathroom to the house, so try that if possible.

Remodel the Bedroom

Versatile rooms always add to the value of the house. In fact, if you spend money remodelling the attic or the basement to become a spare bedroom, you’ll recoup 50% to 80% of the investment when selling. However, it’s easy to get a bit carried away with these remodelings. Always plan ahead and keep a fixed budget that doesn’t exceed 10% of the value of the house.

Add Energy-efficient Windows

This really works if your house is somewhere cold. Sharp drops in temperature can send energy bills through the roof and most buyers are aware of this. So, invest in some energy-efficient windows that can make living at home more comfortable. Even if you don’t intend to sell, these windows could save you money.Energy Star claims you can save up to $500 a year just by adding these windows.

Add A Deck

Outdoor living spaces are really trending right now and for good reason. Adding a deck adds space and lets people enjoy the outdoors while staying close to home. This is one of those projects where you should hire an expert instead of doing it yourself. Get the best contractor you can for the right price and get the deck set up before you start taking pictures for selling the house online.

All these tips are sure to add value to your home.


Should You Buy Your Own Carpet Cleaning Equipment or Just Hire a Pro to Clean Your Carpet?


It may be tempting for many to forgo professional carpet cleaning services, since it may seem like a very simple job. However, to do so it is essential to buy professional-grade carpet cleaning equipment and learn how to use them.

However, this may not be the solution for everyone and for manyhiring a professional cleaning company may be right for their particular needs. Whichever option is chosen it is important to get carpets cleaned at least once a year. In fact, some warranties may be voided if you don’t get a pro to clean your carpet on a regular basis.

Here are some reasons to hire a professional cleaning company:

  1. It saves you the effort. Cleaning your carpets can be laborious. Part of the job involves moving all the furniture out of the room, and then putting them all back in. If it’s not something you’re accustomed to doing it can be hard on the legs and back.
  2. It saves you a lot of time. Professionals are generally experienced, so they already have a well-practiced set of procedures to clean your carpet efficiently. They can get in and out very quickly, as the already know what to do.

But if you insist on doing this yourself take your precautions and perhaps have someone assist you with moving furniture or carrying heavy equipment. Drying your carpets may take much longer, which can add to your inconvenience and frustration.

  1. The pros have a much better chance of succeeding. They already know the best solutions and tools to use for various types of stains in different types of carpets. They may use expensive equipment thatremoves stubborn stains and dirt that are embedded in your carpet. What may take you hours to clean with no guarantee of success may take a pro only a few minutes instead.
  2. Use of the right products. When you’re removing stains from your carpets by spot cleaning, often you’re advised to test your cleaning solution. This is to make sure that your cleaning solution won’t end up damaging your carpet. You also have to be very careful with delicate carpet parts such as fringes.

Experienced professional cleaners already know what cleaning solutions to use so that your carpet won’t be damaged. They also know just how to use their professional-grade equipment properly. They may even put in some cleaning solutions that can help protect your carpets from wear and tear and future stains.

Do it yourself or hire professionals, but consider all the reasons above before making your decision.



Buying a Condo: Views are Essential


Do you want to find the best condos in Montreal? You probably already know the importance of picking a location that’s near your workplace as well as various entertainment spots you will want to frequent. The right realtor can also guide you towards condos that are right for your needs and budget. But did you know that by just paying attention to the condo’s views, you may be able to tell if a condo is right for you?

So visit a condo and take a good look outside. How’s the view? If you like what you see, consider some of these questions:

  1. Which floor is the unit you want to buy? For some folks, the view from up high is always better. What you have to understand is that the floor number may determine what you end up seeing everyday out your condo window. A higher floor will allow you to enjoy the magnificent views of Montreal, and may also be worth more because of the view.
  2. Are there any developments in the pipeline? To avoid any nasty surprises, you may want to schedule a meeting with the city planner. You can ask questions to find out what the plans are for the land surrounding the building. This can help you pick which side and what floor of the condo building you wan to live on.

Such a meeting can really give you a clearer idea of what’s going to happen near your condo building. A broker can also provide you with some info on the matter.

  1. Pick a fixed view. You may want to pick a view that’s already fixed and won’t change. A street view can be nice, or a view northwards that gives you a great view of the mountains. A view south towards the river is also great.

A great option is when your window faces the street, and right in front of you is a park. That means you won’t have anything blocking your view for the foreseeable future.

With the numerous housing options in Montreal, it’s not just about finding a condo that is close to your workplace and your favorite shops. It’s also about having a great view that you can see every day. Get a condo that offers a view thatwill help you unwind and relax in your brand new home.


Top 4 Ways an Energy Consultant Can Help You


An energy consultant is an expert on energy. They check how you use energy and then offer various alternatives that could cost you less and/or be more environmentally friendly. These experts are vital for many businesses, and many home residents can benefit from their services as well.

Here are some ways an energy consultant can help you out:

  1. They check for billing errors made by your energy provider. These errors can be caused by faulty meters, a wrong data entry by the meter reader, a coding error in the customer billing system, or a billing system that doesn’t yet reflect the most recent tariff changes. It’s not worth getting into a fight with your energy supplier without facts to back up your claims. But with your energy consultant’s data you may get your billing corrected.
  2. They can install efficient lighting. If you’re not yet using LED lighting, your energy pro can help you change to an LED system and offer proof of how much you’ll save when you switch. LED bulbs may consume up to 80% less energy, and they can last for 10 to 20 years; cutting maintenance costs significantly. The consultant can assess how much you’ll need to spend initially, and research financing options and government subsidies.
  3. They can upgrade your Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Most people only deal with their HVAC system when there’s a problem. But a consultant can look over the entire system and offer a comprehensive plan of upgrades and improvements. Great HVAC upgrades are terrific for your budget, as you can slash up to 30% of your energy bill with a more efficient heating and cooling system.

A consultant can get you reputable appliances that you can depend on, and they may have warranties of at least 10 years for parts and labor. The consultant can make sure that these appliances are certified for their energy-efficiency and durability.

The consultant can set up an HVAC system that offers you a lot of customized control over your heating and cooling system, so that you’re more comfortable for lower costs. The consultant can even set up local support for your system so that you can quickly get the assistance you need for any sort of problem.

  1. A consultant can explore alternative energy. What if you’re not utterly dependent on your electricity provider? Your energy pro may be able to set up a system that uses solar energy or wind power. Not only are these alternative energy systems very friendly for the environment, but also these can really reduce your energy bills. You can use the energy they produce during times when the electricity rate is higher than average.

Of course, you only get these benefits when you pick the right energy consultant. Find the right expert, and the cost of hiring them may be much less than the savings you generate.



Shopping Safely on the Best Online Shopping Sites


Shopping online can be very convenient but the Internet can be a dangerous if you’re not careful. You may be giving your credit card information to scammers who’ve created a fake site, or the shopping site may be full of malware that could compromise your privacy.

Fortunately, there are effective measures you can take so that you can stay safe when you’re browsing through the best online shopping sites.

  1. Pick secure sites. The best e-commerce sites offer several advantages. They may offer free delivery, a wide range of product categories, discounted prices, a return policy, and a 24-hour dispatch. But the first thing you have to check is that the site uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. This is usually denoted by a green padlock icon and “https” in the browser address bar.
  2. Provide only the necessary information. No proper online store will need your birthday or your Social Security number for a transaction. But when scammers get this info along with your credit card number, they may be able to steal your identity.
  3. Use antimalware tools. At the very least, you can use Ad-Aware Free Internet Security, which is free.
  4. Don’t use public computers. That’s always a bad idea. And if you ever find yourself using one, just make sure you always log out. And try not to use your own laptop so publicly. Someone may be looking over your shoulder trying to snoop.
  5. Download apps only from reputable app stores. You may want to limit it to just the Apple Store or Google Play. Otherwise, you may end up downloading malware instead.

Often these malware apps pretend they’re free fun apps. In 2010, 4.6 million Android smartphone users downloaded a wallpaper app that actually collected and transmitted user info to a Chinese site.

  1. Be careful with email attachments and links. One formerly common scam is a fake UPS notice, telling you that you have an incoming package but you have to fill out a form with personal details before it can be delivered. You can also get an SMS text message about a supposedly compromised bank account, and you may be directed to call a number or go to a website so you can divulge your personal info.
  2. Fake online coupons. Lots of people use online coupons for better shopping deals. But the coupon may just be a come-on for you to reveal your personal info to scammers.
  3. “Wrong” transactions. A scammer email message may pretend to be from a shop or hotel with a “wrong transaction” on your credit card. You’re then directed to fill out a seemingly innocuous refund form attached to the message. But the attachment may actually download malware to your computer or smartphone.

It’s great to shop online for home improvement tools and furniture. Make sure you do your research and take all precautions when it comes to protecting yourself online.



The Top 3 Tips for Home Buyers

You may have a growing family or you are ready to move out on your own for the first time and would like your own space or a bigger place. Whatever the case may be buying a home costs a lot of money that you may or may not have. Since you may be buying a home for the first time, you might not know what to expect. There are several tips to buying a home, but there are three important tips that should be in front of your list.


Calculating your Money

It is important to know the amount of money you have in your bank account. Be sure to add the amount of money you make with your job as well as other expenses. The money that goes towards your bills, groceries, and food should also be included in your total amount. Once you know how much you are spending, you will know whether or not you can afford the type of house you want.

Applying for Loans

One of the things that Flagship Financial can do for you is help you apply for a loan including a VA home loan. They will check your credit to make sure that you will qualify for the loan. You may be in a situation where you have better credit than your partner. If that is the case, then you can have the house under your name so you can still get it.

Signing the Papers

Before you purchase a home, you need to make sure that you understand the paperwork. You need to understand why you are receiving the amount you are if you have been approved for a loan. It is also important to understand your mortgage payment and be sure to read any fine print. If their is something you do not understand, then you need to ask before signing the papers.

Things can be very confusing when purchasing your first home because their is so much going on. By following these three important tips, you will be well on your way to buying the house you want.