Tips For Cleaning Your Vinyl Flooring With Care

Vinyl Flooring Pros & Cons

Vinyl floors are a popular option among homeowners, particularly in kitchen and bathroom applications. A synthetic cousin of linoleum, vinyl flooring is water-and stain-resistant, versatile, and provides good durability for the cost. Thanks to a number of advances over the years, today’s vinyl floors are attractive and economical.

Types of Vinyl Flooring

There are two types of vinyl flooring: sheet flooring, in which the flooring material is laid down in sheets 6 or 12 feet wide, and tile flooring, which uses tiles of 9″x9″ or 12″x12″. While sheet flooring is more water resistant and is easier to install, many homeowners prefer vinyl tile, which replicates the look of a ceramic tile floor at a more affordable cost.

 

Types of Resilient Vinyl Flooring

There are several categories of vinyl flooring, and while all are grouped under the label “resilient,” they have very different methods of installation and some different merits.

  • Resilient sheet vinyl: This is the most common form, consisting of a thin flexible sheets of vinyl bonded with a printed design and transparent wear layer. Sheet vinyl comes in 6- or 12-foot wide rolls, which means that the flooring can be laid with very few seams. This makes it the best (and cheapest) form of vinyl for wet locations, such as bathrooms. Sheet vinyl is normally installed with a glue-down bond, although there are some forms that are installed with just a perimeter bond.
  • Resilient vinyl tiles: This product is largely the same as sheet vinyl, except it is sold in boxes of square pieces, which are either glued down with troweled-on adhesive or by a pre-applied adhesive exposed when a peel-off backing is removed.
  • Luxury vinyl: This is quite a different material, a thicker, semi-rigid form of flooring that is manufactured in either long planks (known as LVP, or luxury vinyl planks) or tiles (known as LVT, or luxury vinyl tiles). Marketed as rigid-core vinyl by some manufacturers, these products are made with relatively thick layers that give the flooring some rigidity. Either way, luxury vinyl tiles or planks are usually floating floors that snap together at the edges and rest over an underlayment with no glue-down bond. Of all the forms of vinyl flooring, this is the most prestigious, and in the right application, it can actually add real estate value to a home. The plank forms generally are manufactured to resemble wood, while the tile forms are made to resemble ceramic or stone tile.

 

The Pros of Vinyl Flooring

The biggest advantage of vinyl plank flooring is the fact that it is 100% water resistant. This means surface water and spills won’t affect the flooring. This makes it the ideal flooring solution for spaces such as basements, kitchens, bathrooms, restaurants and cafes. It is a great option for those with pets that worry about accidents.

In addition, vinyl plank flooring is very durable with commercial grade wear layers that can withstand heavy traffic. Larger commercial spaces can benefit from a glue down vinyl installation.

Many businesses and households love that vinyl is durable and easy to maintain. Regular sweeping and weekly mopping is all you need to keep your floors looking great.

With advances in vinyl plank flooring, you can find vinyl floors with rigid core construction, making them more dimensionally stable and sturdy. In today’s market, you have many options when it comes to vinyl flooring. You can find vinyl plank flooring with attached underlayment, thicknesses up to 8mm or more and hand scraped textures.

Vinyl flooring can be installed on nearly any subfloor, with the thicker floors being forgiving to imperfect subfloors. Luxury vinyl plank flooring has a DIY installation with either a click lock, glue down or loose lay installation method.

The affordability, durability and appearance makes vinyl plank flooring a great option for busy spaces without the price tag of real wood or tile!

 

Vinyl Flooring Cons

  • Surface vulnerability. The spongy soft feel of vinyl can also make the material more susceptible to cuts and gouges from sharp objects like heavy knives, meat cleavers and so forth. Obviously, this is mostly a concern in a kitchen environment and mainly where single-sheet vinyl is installed—damaged individual tiles can usually be removed and replaced individually. Where heavy furniture is placed on vinyl, it’s also good preventive medicine to place furniture pads under the feet.
  • Sub-floor issues. It’s a good news/bad news situation: The good news is that vinyl can be installed over an intact, clean sub-floor without modifications or demolition. The bad news is, if the subfloor is less than optimal then repairs or improvements will be required to accommodate the adhesive needed to install vinyl. Also, the floor must be scrupulously free of any loose particles. Vinyl is thinner and more flexible than other types flooring. Even small particles beneath vinyl will result in noticeable bumps on the surface.
  • Indoor environmental concerns. Vinyl is a byproduct of petrochemicals and may emit vapors called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the indoor air, particularly when new. It should also be noted that VOCs are and always have been released by many building materials, including other flooring such as laminated wood and carpeting. Since 2010, the vinyl flooring industry has been actively working to reduce the content of volatile organic compounds. In addition, an industry certification process called FloorScore is now in effect to rate the potential VOC content of flooring products including vinyl. Consumers can look for the FloorScore certification to comparison shop among vinyl flooring manufacturers for the lowest VOC and other chemical content.
  • Marginal effect on home value. While upgrading a home with certain types of high-end flooring such as exotic hardwood or imported ceramic tile may boost the resale price of the home, most types of vinyl flooring aren’t a major contributor to higher home value. The exception might be today’s more pricey luxury vinyl tile (LVT) that provides striking enhancement to indoor decor and may ratchet up the market value of a residence.

 

To clean vinyl

steer clear of abrasive scrubs, scouring pads, detergents, waxes, solvents, and ammonia—all agents that can dull and damage the surface. Instead, dry mop or vacuum to remove surface dust and dirt (avoid the “beater bar” vacuum attachment). Deep clean with a homemade solution of one cup of white vinegar mixed with a gallon of hot water, adding a few drops of mineral oil to amp shine, if desired. If using a commercial cleaner, be sure it’s designed for vinyl floors.

Vinly Flooring Types And Materials

Things You Need to Know Before Buying Vinyl Flooring

While vinyl records have gone the way of disco and VCRs, vinyl flooring is in. Experiencing record highs in sales, vinyl flooring is growing increasingly popular with homeowners. This is likely due to the unique benefits that vinyl flooring provides. It’s easy to install and maintain, long lasting, and provides a comfortable surface to walk on.

Types of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring comes in 2 types—sheet flooring and tile flooring. Sheet flooring—which is laid down in sheets that are 6 or 12 feet wide—is water resistant and easy to install. Vinyl tile flooring comes in tile sizes of 9 or 12 square inches; it replicates the look of ceramic tile but is more economical. Luxury Vinyl Tile—which simulates stone or wood—comes in plank shapes, often 7″ wide by 48″ long

Vinyl Finishes

There are 3 types of finishes for vinyl flooring, all of which provide a beautiful end result.

Vinyl no-wax finish: This is the lightest type and is great for areas with light foot traffic and minimal exposure to dirt and moisture

Urethane finish: More durable, this finish is heavier and can stand up to moderate foot traffic and is also resistant to scuffing and easy to clean

Enhanced urethane finish: This is the toughest available and can accommodate the heaviest foot traffic, is highly resistant to scratches and stains, and enjoys a lasting luster without constant care

Cost

Per square foot, vinyl flooring is one of the most economic options of flooring that you can choose. On average, you can expect to spend $2-$12 per square foot to have it installed. Luxury Vinyl Tile—or LVT to those of us in the biz—is similarly inexpensive, costing on average, $3-$14 per square foot for installation. When you compare the cost to wood, stone, or ceramic flooring, vinyl offers a significant cost savings. And if you’re handy, you can cut costs even further by installing vinyl flooring yourself. Depending on the complexity of the project, you can expect to spend $1-$2 less per square foot if you perform the installation, but of course we are always happy to install your new flooring

Ease of Installation

Installation of vinyl flooring is typically easier than installation of other flooring materials. A floating vinyl sheet, for example, doesn’t require glue or staples. Instead, peel and stick vinyl can simply be adhered to a prepared subfloor. Vinyl flooring can also be installed over concrete, hardwood, or plywood. It can even be installed over existing vinyl; however, it isn’t recommended if you have 2 or more preexisting layers.

 

How to Choose Vinyl Flooring

You learned about the benefits of vinyl and you’re thinking this may be a good option for you. Now, you’re ready to buy, but where do you start? Knowing how to choose vinyl flooring for your home isn’t always easy. With so many options available, it’s hard to narrow down your choices and make the right decision for your next project

Type of Room

This is an important first step to figuring out which floor is best for your needs. Are you installing in a basement or moisture prone area, such as a kitchen or bathroom? Are you planning to use this in a business, such as a cafe, boutique or restaurant?

Traffic

Second, you will need to consider how much foot traffic the room or area will see on a regular basis. If you’re installing your vinyl in an area that will see heavy foot traffic, such as the foyer or in a cafe, you’ll want to go with a vinyl that has a higher wear layer, such as a 12 or 20 mil.. If your vinyl will be housed in a guest room or other space with minimal traffic, the wear layer and thickness are not as big of a concern.

What is your style and decor goals?

Vinyl flooring can be found in many versatile decors. Depending on your style, you can find vinyl floors in wood, stone, cement and shabby chic looks. With advances in surface technology, vinyl can be found with beautiful textures to mimic real tile and hardwoods. Vinyl plank flooring can be found with wide planks, multi-plank designs and more traditional plank widths. Adding to the style, beveled edges or square edges are also available.

Subfloor

Your subfloor will be a big factor in how your flooring feels under your foot. If you are installing a vinyl on top of a concrete subfloor, you will have a very hard surface beneath your floor. With a thin vinyl, this will feel like you are stepping on a hard surface. If you install  a vinyl on a wood subfloor or an existing surface, you will have a softer start to your installation. This will still be a solid surface and feel hard, but it will not feel as blunt as a concrete subfloor will

 

How to Choose Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring is an engineered floor covering designed to mimic the look of real wood. When you’re choosing your flooring, you’ll need to consider the thickness of the vinyl, the wear layer, and the installation method. Armed with this information, you should be able to find the perfect vinyl plank flooring for your home!

Opt for a thickness of 2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) for low-traffic areas. If you’re covering a small area with low traffic, you can choose planks in a thickness of 2 mm (0.079 in), 2.5 mm (0.098 in), or 3 mm (0.12 in)

Select planks between 3.2–4.0 mm (0.13–0.16 in) for high-traffic areas. Most of the common areas in your home, including the living room and the kitchen, will be best suited by a high-quality plank that is either 3.2 mm (0.13 in) or 4 mm (0.16 in) thick

Choose a thickness of 5 mm (0.20 in) or more for the highest quality. The thickest vinyl planks can be anywhere from 5 mm (0.20 in) to over 8 mm (0.31 in) thick. These planks cost the most, but they are also the most durable and usually look the most like real wood.

Select a vinyl no-wax top coat for the most affordable wear layer. The top layer of your vinyl flooring, or the wear layer, is what determines how durable the flooring is. A no-wax coating is made from urethane or vinyl. It’s the most affordable option, but it is the least durable

 

How to choose and lay vinyl flooring

Advances in technology and printing mean that vinyl flooring can now compete with other kinds of flooring, including natural materials, such as solid wood, real stone and ceramic and porcelain tiles, in terms of appearance and texture. But what makes  vinyl flooring most popular is its long lasting durability, scratch resistance and easiness to clean.

HOW MUCH DOES VINYL FLOORING COST?

On average, vinyl flooring costs between £10 per m² and £25 per m². It is possible to spend more on vinyl flooring if you go for a bespoke option, but this depends on your own specifications, the quality of the material and the detail you require.

HOW MUCH VINYL FLOORING DO YOU NEED?

How much vinyl you need depends on the size of the room you are flooring, and the format of the tiles you are choosing. Measure the length and width of the room and then multiply them

HOW TO FIT VINYL FLOORING

Fitting vinyl flooring depends on the type of vinyl and the skill required: if you are laying a single sheet in a large room, then one wrong cut can be an expensive mistake. Some products require adhesives for installation, while others come with a peel-off sticky backing or click together like laminate boards.

WHERE TO LAY VINYL FLOORING?

Due to vinyl’s durability and water resistance, it can be laid in virtually any room of the house, including kitchens and bathrooms, although it is not suitable for wet rooms. In its sheet form, vinyl is particularly good for busy family bathrooms as it can be fitted seamlessly, but make sure that the design you choose is slip resistant.

 

VINYL PLANK FLOORING BUYING GUIDE

Okay, so obviously vinyl planks are the hottest flooring on the market right now. No really, they are. Many people are ripping up their carpet and putting down luxury vinyl planks for a lovely wood look in their home. Nowadays you can get a wood-look flooring without the expense and maintenance of actual hardwood. Let’s be honest, if you have a family, kids, and a pet, you don’t want hardwood. It’ll be roughed up in no time under all that stress. That’s where vinyl planks come in

What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

There are so many types of vinyl plank flooring, that this question becomes a little difficult to answer. After all, you have peel and stick vinyl planks, rigid core, luxury vinyl planks, and waterproof vinyl planks.

Vinyl Plank Flooring Thickness

Why does plank thickness matter? Well, because the thicker the plank, the sturdier it is. Thicker planks are denser and more substantial beneath your feet. A thicker plank can also cover up a less-than-stellar subfloor

Vinyl Plank Flooring Wear Layer

Why is the wear layer important? Well, it’s what protects your vinyl flooring from surface scratches and stains. It’s the second half of the durability equation: thick vinyl + thick wear layer = higher quality.

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Here I want to cover three big categories of vinyl plank flooring. Yes, there are three. Your choices are indeed vast and scary. Hopefully not too scary after I narrow this down for you. But probably still vast, which is okay because choices are a good thing! Anyway, there are three main types of vinyl plank flooring: luxury vinyl planks, waterproof vinyl planks, and rigid core vinyl planks.

Electrical Home Inspections Find Problems

Tips for Passing an Electrical Inspection

If you are considering attempting your own electrical work on your next project, I implore you to apply for electrical permits from your local government.

Applying to do my own work was a simple process.  In this case, all I did was fill out a couple of simple forms where I stated my name, address, the scope of the work being performed (adding 4 recessed lights) and the estimated cost of the work related to the permit.  After about two weeks, the township called me and let me know my permit was approved and ready for pickup.  I paid a $61 fee to the township and got started on the rough-in work.  Once I complete the rough-in work, I schedule the inspector and he pays me a visit.

The most anxiety inducing part of this process is the rough-in inspection, but if you follow these general guidelines, you’ll be much more likely to pass the first time.

  1. Ask the Inspector First. When you schedule the inspector, try to actually have a conversation with him or her about what they expect to see and what pitfalls you can avoid.  All inspectors should be looking for the same checks, but some have additional requirements or pet-peeves that can fail you.  Checking with them first is a great way to establish a name to a face and get a sense of their general requirements.
  2. Don’t Add Any Devices. During the rough-in inspection, there can’t be any devices on the circuits you are adding. No outlets, no lights, no switches, nada, nunca.  If you are adding an outlet to an existing circuit, then the NEW outlet should also not be installed either.  The rest of the outlets on that circuit that were originally there are probably fine, but if you disturbed the wiring in any outlet, it shouldn’t have a device for the inspection.
  3. Tie Your Grounds Together. In each outlet or electrical box location, the ground wires should be tied together.  This is something my inspector noted today.  Don’t tie anything else together though.  The hot and neutral leads should remain separate.
  4. Fire Block. Any holes or penetrations from one floor to the next or from one wiring passage to the next needs to be blocked so as to prevent a fire using the hole as a breathing hole or chimney.  Typically, you can use fire block expanding foam (which is bright orange in color) or regular fiberglass insulation to fill or plug these kind of holes.
  5. Plug Holes in Boxes. This one was new to me and I’ll have to fix it.  The electrical box I used have these bendable tabs where the cable enters.  Well one of these tabs snapped off.  The inspector told me I need to plug it.  I’ll probably use insulation and jam it in the hole here.
  6. Use Correct Breaker. Another correction I’ll have to make is the circuit breaker I installed.  The breaker in this application needs to be an 15 amp Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and I had installed a regular 15 amp breaker.  The AFCI’s prevent arcs and are required on all circuits that feed living spaces (I think).  You can buy AFCI’s in any hardware store and they are several times more expensive than regular breakers.
  7. Don’t Power the Circuit. Although the wires for the new circuit can be tied into the new breaker, the breaker needs to remain off or unpowered.  It shouldn’t be powered up until all the devices are installed.
  8. Cover the Wires with Wire Nuts. All the wire ends need to have wire nuts on them even if they don’t have any exposed conductor.  Same goes for the ground wires.
  9. Secure Cables with Staples. Cable runs need to be secured to framing every so many feet with cable staples.

 

Checking the Wiring and Connections

Whereas it is impractical to rewire an entire house, an electrician can replace outlets and wall switches with newer, safer models that will work better with aluminum wiring.

Once you have determined what type of wire is used, check the wires coming into the circuits. Each circuit should have only one wire connected to it. If any circuits have more than one wire connected to them, it could cause the breaker to overheat and should be noted.

Also, check the wires connected to the busboard. Multiple grounding wires can be under each bonding screw, but you cannot have more than one neutral wire under a bonding screw. If you find multiple neutral wires under a bonding screw, you must note this because it is unsafe.

 

What does a home electrical system inspection involve?

Inspection Certification Associates (ICA) of Chicago, Illinois, which provides national online training and certification of home inspectors, says electrical inspectors must examine several segments of your home’s electrical system, including:

  • Service panels and subpanels (what some people may call a circuit breaker or fuse box):
  • They’ll typically remove the cover, noting that nothing inside the panel is humming or hot—and that there are no fuses instead of circuit breakers. They’ll also check for loose wires, that wires are the right gauge for the breakers, and that the main breaker is the right size. (Smaller than 100 amps is not enough for the electrical needs of a modern family, ICA says.)
  • Outlets (or receptacles): They’ll use a handheld device, a multimeter, to probe the outlet and check the voltage and ground wire.
  • Light switches and fixtures: They’ll take a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, receptacles, and switches.
  • ​GFCI circuits and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs): The absence of GFCIs, AFCIs (which interrupt the circuit when it detects an electric arc), or other “overcurrent protection devices.”
  • The type of wiring: such as aluminum, knob-and-tube, or copper, and whether any of it is exposed or loose.

 

Electrical Pre-Inspection

An electrical pre-inspection can be done  by the homeowner on switches, receptacles, and GFCI’s. A homeowner should not inspect the electrical panel, leave that to a certified home inspector.

Receptacles can be tested with a receptacle tester that has a GFCI test button. This tester shows if the receptacle has power and if it is wired correctly. If plugs fits loosely in a receptacle, it should be replaced.

  1. Homeowners usually knows if the switches are working, any switches that are normally not used should be tested.
  2. Test all GFCI receptacles by pushing the button on the tester to see if power shuts off (an audible click can be heard). Press the reset button to restore power. If the  test or reset button does not work, and there is power at the GFCI, the GFCI has failed and needs to be replaced.
  3. While testing GFCIs, see if you lose power to other GFCIs. If another GFCI loses power, it should be replaced with a standard receptacle. See GFCI Connected to the Load of Another GFCI.
  4. In kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors, etc, test all standard receptacles with a receptacle tester to determine if they are GFCI protected. Insert the tester into the receptacle and verify it has power, then press the GFCI test button on the tester. If power shuts off, the standard receptacle is GFCI protected. If the power does not shut off, it should be replaced with a GFCI receptacle.
  5. Test all other standard receptacles with the tester to see if they are wired correctly.

 

Two Rounds of Electrical Inspection

The most comprehensive inspections occur when electrical work requiring building permits is being done, such as during construction of a new home or major room addition. Major remodeling work to a kitchen or bathroom also requires permits and electrical inspections. The goal of the inspections process is to make sure that the applicable electrical codes are being followed, to ensure that the installation is safe. In these instances, an electrical inspector will need to visit you on at least two occasions.

The first is called the rough-in inspection. This takes place when you have installed all of the electrical boxes, cables, conduit, and wires to the point that you are ready for the walls to be closed up by surfaces. This inspection needs to be done before the insulation is installed, so that the inspector has a clear view of all of the wire runs from service panel to fixtures and appliances.

The second inspection takes place when the house is complete, but before you are allowed to begin using the space. This inspection is called the final inspection. At this point, all of the walls are closed in, painting is finished, floors are complete and you are ready to install the furniture. Be sure that all of the circuits are functioning and every light fixture has been hung and is connected. If the inspector approves your work now, it means that it meets professional standards and that it is up to code.

Choosing Interior Painting Colors

Tips for Choosing Interior Paint Colors

Choosing Interior Paint Colors Is Easier Than You Think

The easiest way to choose the best interior paint colors is to start with the colors you love. When you start with the colors you love, you are not bound by the traditional color schemes for a particular decorating style. Using your favorite color as your base color, you can use it to create a color scheme around it. Your favorite colors can be the perfect inspiration for your new color palette for the whole room. Here’s how to find out what your favorite color means, and how you can decorate with it.

Find Paint Color Inspiration

Magazines and catalogs have always been the staple of decorating inspiration. You have access to thousands of pages of inspiration on the internet. Retailer sites can be inspiring with their room vignettes, and paint company sites can also show you ways to use color in your home. Social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram offer color inspiration that is refreshed in real-time. Pinterest is great for creating inspiration boards for your favorite ideas, so you can keep all your ideas in one spot.

Use Color Theory to Create a Color Scheme

You don’t have to study color theory to get great ideas from a little color wheel. These inexpensive color tools can generate color scheme ideas quickly. With a turn of the wheel, you can see how colors might relate to each other and learn the basics of color theory. While you probably won’t be painting your home in the exact colors you see on the wheel, you can choose shades of those colors at your favorite paint store.

Get Creative With Neutral Paint Colors

Just because you choose neutral paint colors doesn’t mean they have to be laid-back. You can rev up your neutral color palette by being creative with how the colors are used. A striped wall in neutral colors adds tons of style but still keeps the room looking relaxed. Neutral wall color with a pastel ceiling is a sneaky way to add color without losing the soothing vibe of the space

Pull Your Paint Color From a Print

One of the easiest ways to choose interior paint colors is to start with a print fabric. Throw pillows, bedding, and even table linens can provide you with paint color ideas. If you’re creating an accent wall, look to the boldest colors in the print. If you would like to choose a paint color that is more subtle or for a larger space, look at the color in the small details of your print fabric. Take a fabric swatch to the paint store so you can choose paint strips to view at home.

 

Interior Painting

Choosing paint colors

Just as with exterior painting, picking the right color scheme for interior spaces requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. Simply thinking about what color would look best on a wall isn’t enough to ensure a positive paint job. Virtually any color will look good on a surface as long as it is applied correctly, but choosing the right color involves looking at an interior space with a very critical eye

The floor and ceiling surfaces cannot be ignored, as they are crucial elements of color combination. Most ceilings are traditionally painted white for a number of reasons — particularly for their ability to keep rooms looking bright and to avoid taking attention away from the walls. Lighter ceiling colors can also help to make a room appear larger and more open.

Deviating from white ceilings is a great way to change the overall appearance of a house, but since darkening a ceiling can steal some of the light and visually shorten the height of the room. Ceiling colors should offset and complement the walls and the floor instead of calling attention above.

Black and gray

While black is usually associated with somberness and malignity, it can also represent sophistication, reverence and physical attraction. Interior designers have traditionally shunned black paint, but homeowners increasingly choose it for trim and accents that are meant to be dramatic and striking. Black is the perfect match and contrast for white, and the amount used can range from trim areas to an accent wall. With the right furniture and décor, black is ideal for living rooms, bedrooms and ultra-modern kitchens.

Brown

Brown denotes a personality that is earthy, realistic and trustworthy. This classic earth tone can be applied to living and work areas alike, as it evokes a feeling of being well-rounded and connected with nature. Terracotta and dark mustard brown combinations are perfect for Latin American and Santa Fe-style décor. Brown hues are great for interior spaces that get a lot of sunlight. Lighter shades of brown, such as beige and taupe, are neutral colors that particularly work well in homes that are being shown to potential buyers.

 

Painting & Decorating KNOW-HOW: The Novice Guide to Paint like a PRO

If the walls in your living room are coloured in the incredibly dull hues of white or beige, then you have a problem that affects millions of people worldwide. But before you grab the nearest brush and give it your best shot, ask yourself this – do you really know what you’re doing?

If your answer is anywhere between “No” and “Maybe”, then we strongly encourage you to check out our detailed list of painting and decorating tips. Who knows, when you’re done reading this, you might actually enjoy the whole process as much as you would enjoy the final result!

Foreword: There’s More to Painting Than You May Think!

It’s tempting to approach a painting job as if it is child’s play. Unfortunately this is not the case, otherwise, the countless professional painters and decorators across the globe would not be there in the first place, would they? Truth is, there are one too many things that can go awry with your interior redecoration, especially if hastily put together

Set aside a prep day. Let’s begin by stating the obvious – you cannot do everything all at once, so arm yourself with a bit of patience and devote an entire day or so to various painting preparation tasks before moving on to the project itself.

Free up some space. All those wall shelves, paintings, drawers, wardrobes, and lamps will only slow you down. If you cannot move everything into an adjacent room, then consider placing your furnishings in the middle of the room and hiding them under a generous amount of drop cloth. Don’t forget to also tape the cloth in place and add an extra cover on top to protect your belongings from splashes.

 

How to Paint a Room: Steps to Painting Walls Like a DIY Pro

Painting a room is a popular project for beginning DIYers and veteran renovators alike. After all, it’s pretty painless, relatively inexpensive, and should something go horribly wrong, easy to fix. But before you grab your roller and get started, it’s important to have a plan of attack. Read on to learn how to paint a room and see the steps you’ll need to follow to make sure your project is a success

Plan your approach

Start by thinking about how you want the finished project to look and remember that you’re not limited to four walls in the same color. Consider painting an accent wall in a bold hue or highlighting moldings in a contrasting shade or finish. And don’t forget to look up and see whether the ceiling could use a refresh as well.

Choose your color

Browsing through fan decks and paint chips can be overwhelming. Start by figuring out the general color characteristics: Do you want a warm or cool shade? A neutral or a saturated shade? If you have existing furniture or art, you’ll also want to consider how the shade will compliment them. Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, pick a few shades and get samples. Test the shades to see how they look in the room at different times of day.

Pick out your tools and materials

Every project is unique and you may need different tools depending on the paint you choose and the condition of your walls, but there are a few must-haves.

Determine how much paint you’ll need

Whether you’re painting a powder room or the exterior of your house, the general rule of thumb is one gallon per 400 square feet, says Carl Minchew, vice president of color innovation and design at Benjamin Moore. But that’s just a rough guideline: To get a more precise number, which you’ll definitely want for large projects, use a paint calculator like the ones provided by Benjamin Moore or Pratt & Lambert; they take into account window and door measurements. (And both assume two coats of paint per project.)

 

How To Paint A Room: Tips & Tricks for Beginners

A Beginners Guide

It’s the summer holidays, and we all know what that means – time to redecorate while it’s warm, breezy and dry, and get started on that painting job that’s been looming all year. To help you in completing this feat, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to show all you painting beginners how to paint a room.

But we’re here to show you that interior painting doesn’t have to be so much of a pain, it can be quite simple if you’ve got the right tools and know how – no really!

How to Paint a Room: Picking Paint

Now, this is an essential step in interior painting – as you could probably have worked out. It’s not exactly how to paint a room, but the equipment is just as important as the actual painting.  The most important thing to do is to carefully choose a colour, and it may seem like an arduous process, but it’s worth it and very important.

Gather Paint Testers

Gather as many paint testers that take your fancy, and take them home. It’s important to remember how many factors change the appearance of a colour that could affect your decision – from lighting to finishes to even the colour when dried!

Try the Testers in the Light

You should place the testers against each wall, in natural light, to see how the paint colour changes in differing daylight in the room you’re painting. Paint colours will react differently when in sunlight against artificial light, so factor this in when painting a north facing room versus a more sunlit one

Well Water Testing Reveals The Truth

Well Water Testing Guide

Why should I consider well water testing?

There are certain contaminants which may be present in your well which can be harmful to your health, damaging to your home, increase your energy costs, and/or create a nuisance. By knowing what is in your well water you may then address those issues, protecting your health and/or pocketbook. As a private well owner it is your burden to test and treat the water flowing from your well.

How do I determine my well water composition?

Your county water department will often test your water for free but those tests are typically limited to bacteriological contaminants. They will not tell you if you have other potentially life threatening elements or chemicals in your well. The most thorough way to determine your well water’s composition is to have a sample analyzed by a certified laboratory for a broad range of contaminants – a full laboratory water test. Do-it-yourself test kits are good non-life threatening applications like swimming pool maintenance, but should be considered with caution when contemplating their use on your drinking water supply.

How frequently should I test the water from my well?

After the initial test is performed on a newly dug well, the EPA recommends you test it annually for microorganisms and once every two to three years for harmful chemicals and elemental contaminants. Also, be sure to test your well water if there has been flooding, earthquakes or other land disturbances in your area, if there are known problems with well water in your area, or if you have replaced or repaired any part of your well water system.

How do microorganisms, chemicals and other contaminants get into my well water?

Germs and chemicals can get into your well water and contaminate it in different ways. Some germs and chemicals occur naturally. For example, heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and selenium are naturally found in rocks and soil and sometimes seep into ground water. Other contaminants come from human and animal waste resulting from polluted storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, flooded sewers, or individual septic systems that are not working properly. Ground water and aquifers can also become polluted from industrial activity.

Total Coliform

Coliform bacteria are microbes found in warm-blooded animals’ digestive systems, in soil, on plants, and in surface water. These microbes typically do not make you sick, but because microbes that do cause disease are hard to test for in water, “total coliforms” are tested for instead. If the total coliform count is high, then it is much more likely that harmful germs like viruses, bacteria, and parasites might also be found in the water

 

Is your drinking water safe? Here’s how you can find out

America’s drinking water infrastructure is aging and in serious need of modernization. Pipes are overdue for replacement, and water and wastewater treatment systems need upgrades to deal with new classes of pollutants. Changing a drinking water standard or adding a new substance to the list of contaminants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency is time-consuming. Some water systems are having problems meeting current standards, much less upgrading to meet new requirements.

A 2017 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Americans worry a great deal about drinking water pollution. And a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Threats on Tap, suggests that they have good reason. According to the report, community water systems – public systems that serve cities and towns year-round – registered more than 80,000 reported violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.

As water resource educators with Penn State University’s Extension service, our role is to educate the public using research-based information. Most of our work is focused on private water systems – mainly wells and springs, which are used by over 15 million U.S. households. These private systems share many of the critical concerns about public systems addressed in NRDC’s national report

Clean water and proper sanitation have greatly improved life expectancy in the United States over the past 150 years. Now, however, we see an urgent need to upgrade water infrastructure, and to update regulations, enforcement and public education about drinking water safety. With many public and private water systems across the nation aging and under stress, it is important for everyone to understand the risks associated with drinking water contamination, and to know how to take simple steps such as having their water tested if they suspect there may be a problem

Land use and source water protection

Delivering clean drinking water starts with protecting sources, including groundwater and surface rivers and lakes. Many water quality problems that we see in Pennsylvania are based on local land uses. Nitrates from agriculture and development are a particular problem in water wells in the southeast and south-central parts of the state. Exposure to nitrates in drinking water can cause health effects, especially in infants, inhibiting their blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

 

Testing farm drinking water

Is my water safe to drink?

If you do not monitor your water quality by having it tested at an accredited laboratory, you cannot tell whether your drinking water is safe or not. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water that looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink. These microbes can exist in both ground and surface water supplies, and can cause immediate health effects if not properly treated for.

Tests for drinking water

There are many useful tests available to help determine the health, safety and performance of your water supply depending upon its type and location. Your local health department can assist you in selecting tests important for assessing your drinking water.

Basic tests

Coliform bacteria tests are used as an indicator test for the presence of microorganisms in the water that are potentially harmful to human health. Nitrate is a common contaminant found mainly in groundwater. High nitrate concentrations can be particularly dangerous for babies under six months, since it can interfere with ability of blood to carry oxygen. Ions such as sodium, chloride, sulphate, iron and manganese can impart objectionable taste or odour to water. Excessive amounts of sulfate can cause a laxative effect or gastrointestinal irritation, along with a noticeable taste. Excessive amounts of fluoride can cause dental problems. Total dissolved solids represent the amount of inorganic substances (for example: iron, salts) that are dissolved in the water. High total dissolved solids (TDS) can reduce the palatability of water or cause health problems if specific constituent elements are at high levels.

Microbiological Indicators

Laboratory results may provide information on levels of Total Coliforms, Escherichia coli (E-Coli), and Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) which are used as microbiological indicators of the microbiological quality of the water. This section will briefly outline the rationale for including these indicators and their significance.

Total Coliform (TC)

The presence of Total Coliform bacteria may indicate contamination in a water supply. The presence of Total Coliforms alone is not necessarily a health risk, but it does require a further investigation of the water system. The presence of any coliform bacteria indicates that the sampled water is potentially unsafe and unsatisfactory.

 

Well Testing

Overview

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to individual water systems, such as privately owned wells. As an individual water system owner, it is up to you to make sure that your water is safe to drink

What to test for

Several water quality indicators (WQIs) and contaminants that should be tested for in your water are listed below. A WQI test is a test that measures the presence and amount of certain germs in water. In most cases, the presence of WQIs is not the cause of sickness; however, they are easy to test for and their presence may indicate the presence of sewage and other disease-causing germs from human and/or animal feces. (Please see Water-related Diseases and Contaminants in Private Wells for a list of additional germs and chemicals in drinking water wells and the illnesses they cause.)

Total Coliforms

Coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive systems of warm-blooded animals, in soil, on plants, and in surface water. These microbes typically do not make you sick; however, because microbes that do cause disease are hard to test for in the water, “total coliforms” are tested instead. If the total coliform count is high, then it is very possible that harmful germs like viruses, bacteria, and parasites might also be found in the water

Fecal Coliforms / Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Fecal coliform bacteria are a specific kind of total coliform. The feces (or stool) and digestive systems of humans and warm-blooded animals contain millions of fecal coliforms. E. coli is part of the fecal coliform group and may be tested for by itself. Fecal coliforms and E. coli are usually harmless. However, a positive test may mean that feces and harmful germs have found their way into your water system. These harmful germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis. It is important not to confuse the test for the common and usually harmless WQI E. coli with a test for the more dangerous germ E. coli O157:H7.

pH

The pH level tells you how acidic or basic your water is. The pH level of the water can change how your water looks and tastes. If the pH of your water is too low or too high, it could damage your pipes, cause heavy metals like lead to leak out of the pipes into the water, and eventually make you sick.

 

Well Water Testing

Is my well water safe to drink?

If your drinking water comes from a private well, it should be tested by a lab to see if it is safe for you and your family to drink. Unsafe drinking water can make you sick. Even if you are not sick right now, your well water may not be safe. Some contaminants found in well water can cause long-term health problems. All water suppliers in B.C. are required to test their water regularly. This includes including small private systems, such as restaurants or trailer parks, cooperatively owned systems, such as strata properties, and larger municipal systems owned by local govern ents. Water samples are sent to qualified labs for testing.

Why might my well water be unsafe?

Your well water may taste and look fine, however, there can be many harmful substances that you cannot taste, see or smell, such as bacteria and chemicals that could affect your health. These can enter well water both from the surface and ground, and can be from natural sources or human activities. For example, nearby farming and agricultural activities or septic systems, if built or maintained improperly, could lead to increased nitrates and fertilizers seeping into soil and contaminating your well water. Poor well maintenance may also cause contamination of your well water.

Bacteriological Testing

Bacteriological testing should be done 2 or 3 times a year. Two common types of bacteria found in water are: Total Coliforms and E.coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli)

  1. coli originates in the intestinal tracts of animals. The presence of E. coli in your well water may mean fecal matter has entered the well. Fecal organisms cause stomach and intestinal illnesses, including diarrhea and nausea, and may even lead to death. Babies, children, elderly or people with immune deficiencies or other illnesses may be affected more severely

Chemical Testing

Chemical testing should be done on a routine basis, typically at a minimum every 5 years. Chemicals commonly of concern in B.C. groundwater are: nitrates, fluoride and metals such as arsenic, lead, copper and manganese.

Is There A Boom Or Bust Coming For Natural Pest Control?

Selecting a Pest Control Company

Pest problems arise from time to time that may require you to seek help controlling the pest from a professional. It can be daunting to choose a pest control company. Don’t rush into a decision. Consider talking with several companies before deciding on one. Even if your pest problem is urgent, take time to look for a reputable and knowledgeable company that meets your standards

Successful pest control will require communication and cooperation between you and the company. Ask questions and make sure you understand the treatment and your responsibilities in making the treatment a success. Contact the company or your state pesticide regulatory agency promptly to report any problems.

Qualifications

Do technicians have current licenses? Is the license the correct classification for the job? You can verify licensing by calling your state pesticide regulatory office.

How does the company keep their staff informed of changes in regulations, products, techniques and safety?

Do they use Integrated Pest Management techniques?

Do they have a certified entomologist on staff?

Experience

How many years has the company been in business?

Do newly hired applicators train with more experienced employees?

How much experience does the company have with treating pest problems like yours?

Reputation

Ask family members, friends, coworkers, or neighbors for a recommendation.

Avoid relying on advertising for information about the company’s reputation.

Consider contacting the Better Business Bureau or the state pesticide regulatory office for information on recent violations, complaints, or unresolved issues.

Ask the company for customer references.

 

tips for choosing a good pest control company?

Controlling pest presence in your spaces have become a difficult task even after trying a lot of DIY pest control methods. But have you ever heard of pest control services in Mumbai? If not, then it is the right time to hire A Sai Pest Control company. With our Mumbai pest control, you can easily fight cockroaches, termite, bed bugs, rats, and bird netting.

If you are Boulder resident, Buy the services of a wildlife removal company in Boulder CO, the way you buy any other thing -Look for Excellence and Worth. When selecting best pest removal companies in Boulder CO, cost should not be the only factor that determines the company you pick; the pesticide can damage the property if used with negligence.

Don’t hire a company which doesn’t have a listed or working telephone number. You will have to call them quite a few times during or after service to get the condition of your house checked

Don’t hire the servicemen who sell door-to-door services or come unexpectedly and show you insects they have found in your neighbor’s house as a possibility of the presence of the pest in your house. It is not necessary that you will have termites if your neighbor’s have it, but, in some cases neighborhood matters like the presence of rats and roaches.

Look out for the servicemen who try to push you into signing a contract by suggesting your house is structurally unsound and may collapse if not treated, it never works like this. Pests can seriously harm the house but a house doesn’t fall because of that.

 

Tips for Choosing a Good Pest Control Expert

Pest management has never been a walk in the park. There are instances when you have pest infestations and you try to eliminate them on your own but in vain. Sometimes you also hire a pest exterminator and still the problem persists. That is an indication that you are not keen on the process of hiring a pest exterminator. This is why it is crucial that anytime that you think of hiring a pest extermination specialist, you make sure that you choose the best one. The following are important points to note anytime you are looking for a good pest control company. You can also check out exterminator Tampa Bay for more information

License

You need to work within the constraints of the law to avoid problems with the government. That, however, cannot happen if you are going to hire a company that is not licensed. It essential to understand that a license is only given to those companies that prove to be capable of offering quality services and still be able to protect the environment. Therefore, if you meet a pest extermination specialist who is not licensed, then that is an indication that you are looking for a shoddy job

Consider the Experience

The pest management company is another critical consideration to make when looking for a pest control company that you can rely on. This is important because treating some pests is hard because of the mutation process. A pest control specialists who have been in the business for many years is likely to have a clear understanding of how to deal with the stubborn pests

Chemicals

Before hiring a pest specialist, it is good to find out the type of chemicals that they use to treat the pest infestations. This is essential because some insecticides used can be very catastrophic to humans and that is why you should pay special attention to this particular matter. Ensure that the insecticides used are certified with the relevant body.

Online Reviews

Always take time to read the online reviews before hiring a pest exterminator. The online reviews will always tell you more about what to expect if you hire those particular companies. A company that has many online reviews is better placed to give you the quality services that you seek

 

Choosing a Pest Control Company

Is the company licensed?

Most state or local agencies issue state pest control licenses. Contact your State Pesticide Regulatory Agency to make sure the pest control operator’s license is current if one is required in your state. Also, ask if the company’s employees are bonded, meaning that the company reimburses you for any loss or damage caused by the employee

Is the company willing and able to discuss the treatment proposed for your home?

Selecting a pest control service is just as important as selecting other professional services. Look for the same high degree of competence you would expect from a doctor or lawyer. Any company, including those advertising themselves as “green,” should inspect your premises and outline a recommended control program, including the: Pests to be controlled. Extent of the problem. Active ingredient(s) in the pesticide chosen. Potential adverse health effects of the active ingredient. Form of the pesticide and application techniques. Special instructions to reduce your exposure to the pesticide (such as vacating the house, emptying the cupboards, and removing pets). Steps to take to minimize your pest problems in the future.

Does the company have a good track record?

Don’t rely on the company salesperson to answer this question. Research the answer yourself. Call your State Pesticide Regulatory Agency and find out if they have received complaints about the company. Ask neighbors and friends if they have ever dealt with the company. Were they satisfied with the service they received?

Does the company have appropriate insurance? Can the salesperson show proof on paper that the company is insured?

Most contractors carry general liability insurance, including insurance for sudden and accidental pollution. Their insurance gives you a certain degree of protection should an accident occur while pesticides are being applied in your home. Contractors may also carry workmen’s compensation insurance, which can help protect you should one of their employees be injured while working in or around your apartment or house. Although most states do not require pest control companies to buy insurance, you should think twice before hiring a company that is not insured.

Does the company guarantee its work?

You should be skeptical about a company that does not guarantee its work. In addition, be sure to find out what you must do to keep your part of the bargain. For example, in the case of termite control treatments, the company’s guarantee may become invalid if you make structural alterations to your home without giving prior notice to the pest control company. The company may require that you pay for annual inspections subsequent to the initial treatment to keep the guarantee valid.

 

Tips on Selecting Pest Control Services

People vary in their tolerance for pests that periodically invade our homes and cause us some level of discomfort. The need for monthly, quarterly or yearly pest control services is a matter of your personal preference and your perception of what is (and is not) a problem. Ultimately, the decision on whether you need a routine pest control service is a matter of what you feel is needed to make your home a comfortable and relatively “pest-free” environment

Although you may prefer a “do-it-yourself” approach to pest control, there are situations where the job is best left in the hands of a pest management professional (PMP). This is particularly true with wood-destroying insects such as termites, carpenter ants, and wood-boring beetles. Treatments for these pests can be complex and expensive, depending upon the size of the home, the type of construction, and the extent of the problem. We cannot endorse specific pest control companies, but we can offer some tips to help you reach an informed decision on the type of service you need or want. The emphasis here is on solving specific problems, particularly for wood-destroying pests, but the same general principles apply to regular service contracts for other common household pests, such as cockroaches and ants. Becoming an informed educated consumer is the best way to protect yourself and to make sure you get the kind of service you need and want. Here are some issues to consider when deciding what type of service you need or want.

P-phase – covers household pest control (cockroaches, ants, spiders, etc.) both indoors and outside. P-phase also includes vertebrates such as mice and rats.

W-phase – covers wood-destroying pests (such as termites, powderpost beetles, etc.) Individuals with W-phase licenses also perform WDIRs (the so-called “termite inspections” for residences being sold).

F-phase – covers pests in both the P and W phases, but it specifically involves the use of a fumigant. Please note that a fumigant is not the same thing as a fogger (“bug bomb”) that you can buy in many retail stores. Fumigation involves the use of special (and highly toxic) gasses that are released into structures that have been completely sealed or enclosed under a tarpaulin.

Reduce The Cost Thru Proper Tax Planning

How to Find a Good Tax Adviser

Many unlicensed tax preparers with questionable credentials set up shop during income-tax season. Some disappear after the April 15 filing date, leaving you to deal with the IRS if there’s a problem with your return. The IRS recently cracked down on such rogue tax preparers by, among other things, contacting those whose returns have frequently shown to have errors. Plus, it is instituting stricter rules for anyone who charges a fee to prepare a tax return. See the IRS’s fact sheets about the new requirements for tax-return preparers. Most of the new rules do not take effect until the 2011 tax season, so taxpayers still need to be vigilant when hiring a tax preparer or adviser this year

One good approach is to look for an enrolled agent. Enrolled agents are tax experts who must pass a rigorous test, meet annual continuing-education requirements, and who are licensed to represent clients in front of the IRS. Enrolled agents can prepare your income-tax return, and some provide tax-planning advice. You can also contact an enrolled agent if you need help after receiving a penalty letter from the IRS.

Enrolled agents work in a variety of settings: Some have their own firms, some work for tax-preparation chains, and some are also certified public accountants or certified financial planners. You can find an enrolled agent through the National Association of Enrolled Agents, at www.naea.org. They usually charge by the tax form to prepare a return (so the more complicated your return, the more you’ll pay) and by the hour for tax planning.

If you’re looking for help with financial planning as well as taxes, CPAs who are also personal financial specialists (CPA/PFS) can help integrate tax planning with investing, retirement-planning and estate issues

 

MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TAX FILING AND TAX PLANNING

Just like there’s a really, really big difference between tax avoidance (lessening tax liability and legal) and tax evasion (the deliberate under- or nonpayment of taxes and criminal), there’s a big distinction between tax planning and tax filing. Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, it’s a distinction you’re not all that familiar with

It’s a popular myth that there are over 70,000 pages in the tax code, but the true number is still well over 4,000 pages. Is it any wonder no business person has the time to read it? Luckily, tax pros like CPAs, accountants, and bookkeepers do stay current with new and updated tax codes, making them well prepared to help you understand these three major differences between planning and filing

Each of these taxes is based on different criteria and has distinct filing requirements. With income taxes, for example, partnerships, sole proprietorships, S-corps, and LLCs show their next profit on personal income tax forms. C-Corps, on the other hand, pay corporate taxes. And don’t forget about state, city, and county taxes!

Tax planning is more long-term.

Good tax planning looks far into the future and helps you better plan and benefit from existing tax rules. It’s a time-consuming process that requires a high level of knowledge and engagement. You may find it tedious work, but a good tax planner will always be excited about helping you save money on your next return

HOW A BOOKKEEPER HELPS WITH BOTH TAX PLANNING AND FILING

An experienced, qualified bookkeeper is your perfect year-round partner in tax planning and filing. Tasks like paying bills, invoicing customers, and entering transactions are done on a consistent basis. Employee payroll, bank reconciliations, and entry adjustments keep your business operating smoothly. And monthly Profit & Loss reports, Accounts Receivable (AR) and Accounts Payable (AP) aging schedules, and balance sheets get you geared up for tax time. Come tax time, all that information can be used to quickly and easily file your various federal, state, and local tax returns, including payroll, sales, and income tax. You’ll also get all the W2s and 1099s you’re required to issue.

 

Now that tax season has ended, it’s time to start thinking about your taxes

Think retirement

Some of the most generous tax-sheltering opportunities involve retirement plans. Workers with earnings usually can opt for a choice of programs, including 401(k)-style plans and Individual Retirement Accounts, of either the traditional or Roth varieties. What these accounts have in common is their ability to allow investment earnings to grow tax-sheltered until money is withdrawn

Think charities

It’s also natural to delay thinking about charitable contributions until the waning weeks of the calendar year, when a large amount of donations are made. But there are good reasons to spread your giving throughout the year.

Think bunching

Charity donations, like many other expenses, can be deducted on federal returns only by people who itemize. Yet tax reform increased the standard deduction, thereby reducing the number of taxpayers who would gain from itemizing

Think organization

Now that you have all your tax-related receipts and statements handy, make an effort to file them in a way that makes sense for you, then keep the process going as more paperwork comes in.

Think clutter

Now that you have your tax returns and other paperwork within reach, it’s time to decide what to keep.

 

Tax Planning For Small Business Owners

Many small business owners ignore tax planning. They don’t even think about their taxes until it’s time to meet with their accountants, but tax planning is an ongoing process and good tax advice is a valuable commodity.

Tax planning:

Tax Planning is the process of looking at various tax options in order to determine when, whether, and how to conduct business and personal transactions to reduce or eliminate tax liability. Many small business owners ignore tax planning. They don’t even think about their taxes until it’s time to meet with their accountants, but tax planning is an ongoing process and good tax advice is a valuable commodity. It is to your benefit to review your income and expenses monthly and meet with your CPA or tax advisor quarterly to analyze how you can take full advantage of the provisions, credits, and deductions that are legally available to you.

Tax Planning Strategies

Countless tax planning strategies are available to small business owners. Some are aimed at the owner’s individual tax situation and some at the business itself, but regardless of how simple or how complex a tax strategy is, it will be based on structuring the strategy to accomplish one or more of these often overlapping goals

Maximizing Business Entertainment Expenses

Entertainment expenses are legitimate deductions that can lower your tax bill and save you money, provided you follow certain guidelines. In order to qualify as a deduction, a business must be discussed before, during, or after the meal and the surroundings must be conducive to a business discussion. For instance, a small, quiet restaurant would be an ideal location for a business dinner. A nightclub would not. Be careful of locations that include ongoing floor shows or other distracting events that inhibit business discussions. Prime distractions are theater locations, ski trips, golf courses, sports events, and hunting trips

Important Business Automobile Deductions

If you use your car for business such as visiting clients or going to business meetings away from your regular workplace you may be able to take certain deductions for the cost of operating and maintaining your vehicle. You can deduct car expenses by taking either the standard mileage rate or using actual expenses.

 

Tax Tips for People Who Are Self-Employed

Estimate your business income

It’s absolutely essential that you find out where you stand tax-wise – before you start taking other tax planning steps. You don’t want to make expenditures, for example, in a year when you don’t need the deduction. If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket this year or next, you’ll want to take as many deductions as possible in the year you are subject to the highest tax rate

Time your income

You can’t postpone income simply by not cashing checks that come to you, or by telling customers not to pay you until after the end of the year. Income is generally taxable when it is available to you. However, you can time billing near the end of the year to your advantage. You certainly can sell assets at a gain before or after the end of the year, depending on your tax situation.

Time your expenditures

There’s always a surge in business equipment sales at the end of the year – and it’s not entirely because computers and printers are a popular holiday gift. If you buy business assets by December 31, you can start depreciating them this tax year. You may even be able to take a Section 179 deduction and expense the entire cost of the asset in one year.

Make the most of medical insurance deductions

You can deduct health insurance premiums for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents as an adjustment to income. This includes premiums for long-term care insurance. The policy does not need to be in the business name – it’s deductible even if it’s in your name.

Keep the form of your company simple

Unless you need to form a partnership or a corporation for some reason, stick with a Schedule C, Sole Proprietorship. It’s the simplest way to file, and there’s nothing you have to disband if you move on to something else. If you’re looking for legal protection, get liability insurance (and consult your lawyer).

Tips To Find The Best Roof Inspection

Tips for a Roof Inspection

Look for Algae, Moss, or Piles of Leaves

If you have binoculars, you can begin your DIY roof inspection from the ground. Start by walking around your house and checking your roof for moss, piles or leaves, algae, or other growths or debris. Algae, moss, lichen and piles of leaves can cause serious damage to a roof. That’s because they can trap moisture, which can seep into the sheathing below your shingles, and even into the structural elements of the roof itself

Look for Buckled or Curled Shingles

Hot air in your attic can cause your shingles to warp, buckle or curl. Misshapen shingles can compromise the integrity of your roof, letting in water and causing poor ventilation. Curling asphalt shingles should be replaced. If more than one-third of your shingles are curling, it’s time to re-shingle the entire roof

Check for Damaged, Missing or Old Shingles

Missing or damaged shingles can also let water seep through your roof. If you have wooden shingles or shake, inspect them for signs of dry rot, either from the ground or from a ladder (don’t walk on a wooden shingle or shake roof. Asbestos, slate, or clay tile roofs can suffer from breakage, so look for cracked, chipped, broken or altogether missing shingles. Check a metal roof for signs of corrosion, metal seams, pitting, rusting, or other wear.

Inspect the Roof Up Close

If you can, get up on a ladder and inspect your roof up close. While you’re up there, look for damage to the flashings around the chimney, dormers and vent pipes. Damaged or corroded flashings can let water into the interior structure of your roof, and could contribute to rot in the structure of your roof and the walls of your home.

Investigate Your Attic

If your home has an attic, it’s important to go into it and look for signs that water has leaked through your roof. Inspect your rafters and the wooden interior of your roof for signs of moisture, mold and rot. Checking your attic for signs of water leakage can help you spot damage that may not have been visible from the ground or from your ladder. If possible, inspect your attic for leaks during a heavy rain; this will show you whether your roof has any active leaks.

 

EASY STEPS TO INSPECTING YOUR ROOF

Walk around your home’s exterior, inspecting the roof from the ground for signs of damage, sagging, and aging. Take notes of any possible problem areas or areas in need of closer inspection.

Identify areas with moss, algae, and piles of leaves – these areas are notorious for causing costly leaks and water damage

Keep your eye out for buckled and curled shingles! Hot air from attics often causes shingles to buckle and curl away from the home, putting your roof and home at great risk for weather damage and poor roof ventilation.

Look for missing, damaged, and aged shingles – this is the leading cause of roof damage. When you take the time to inspect your roof, you can catch minor issues like these before they turn into major issues followed by serious damage. Missing shingles = direct exposure to inclement weather, plus, they are an eyesore!

It is so important to clean your gutters and roof overhangs and maintain your downspouts! As you’re performing these essential tasks, make note of open joins and signs of rot, as those are typical indicators of larger issues

 

Tips to Ensure Roof Reliability

Make annual inspections of the roof to evaluate its general condition and detect any potential leakage problems before they develop. The best time for an inspection is the spring after severe weather conditions (and the damage they may have inflicted) have passed. In addition, the weather is ideal for repairs if they are necessary

Make the initial inspections from the ground or through upstairs windows where the roof surface can be observed. Binoculars are a good tool to use for the inspection.

Keep gutters and roof surfaces clear of fallen leaves, pine needles, twigs and other litter so that water will drain freely

Keep trees trimmed to prevent branches from scuffing the roof surface. This will also keep the roof surface drier helping to inhibit growths such as algae, mold, fungus or lichen. Keep climbing roses, vines and ivy trimmed back from the roof

Never paint or coat asphalt roofing materials to change the color or give the roof a “new” look. The use of paint or coatings may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Consult the individual manufacturer, as this type of treatment may be detrimental to your investment. However roof surfaces may be cleaned if they are showing signs of staining from algae

 

Inspection Tips for Your Home’s Roof

Whether it’s keeping you dry on a rainy day or warm and cozy on a cold winter night, your roof is a vital part of your home. To help make sure it’s protecting you and your family from the elements, regular maintenance and inspections are key. Here are some roof inspection tips to consider

Why Should You Inspect Your Roof?

Regular roof inspections can help identify issues prior to them becoming potentially major problems. It may be easier to fix these smaller issues now, which may save you time and money in the long run

How Often Should You Inspect Your Roof?

Typically, your roof should be inspected at least once a year, according to Zillow. However, you should also check your roof after any extreme weather event, like hail, snow or wind, and look for any interior leaks, says Zillow. Because all roofs are different, it’s important to consult a professional to know what to inspect and how often.

Check the flashings. Flashings are metal pieces that cover curves and edges of your roof, and water can easily leak in and around them if they are damaged. Openings around the flashing may need to be resealed with roofing cement.

Look in the gutters. If your roof is composed of asphalt shingles, a professional should look in the gutters for pieces or grains of the shingles. This can be a sign that your shingles may need to be replaced.

 

HOW TO INSPECT YOUR ROOF

Too many of us take our roofs for granted — it’s not something we think about unless there’s a problem. But as your home’s first line of defense against the elements, your roof goes through a lot of wear and tear, so it’s important to do a yearly visual inspection as part of your home maintenance routine. By giving your roof a brief inspection, small problems won’t lead to giant catastrophes.

Look for shingles that are missing or loose, or show signs of heavy wear or degradation (bald spots, granule loss, or severe curling), as these are considered weak points where water can penetrate and cause leaks. While it is normal for asphalt shingles to experience some curling, significant or abnormal curling are indicators that your shingles are reaching the end of their useful life.

GETTING A CLOSER LOOK

After a preliminary inspection from the ground a closer look may be necessary. Safely climb a ladder to get a closer look at your roof. But stay off the roof itself — not only is it dangerous to walk on the roof, you can potentially do more damage to the shingles.

INSIDE-OUT

After examining the roof from the outside, it’s time to check things from inside. Armed with a flashlight, inspect the attic and crawl spaces after heavy rains. Do you notice any signs of water damage? Are any of the rafters or decking wet? Has any of the insulation gotten wet? These are all indications that your roof may have a leak

GET THE RIGHT HELP

If you notice any damage, don’t waste time and energy trying to fix the problem yourself. Hire a credentialed contractor to properly inspect your roof and repair the problem correctly. Some will do so at no cost to you. You can find a CertainTeed credentialed roofing contractor by using CertainTeed’s Find A Pro locator tool.

Must Know A Little About Led Electrical Lighting

tips for choosing the right light bulb

The light bulb market has gone through enormous change since traditional incandescent bulbs were removed from the market and replaced with energy-saving bulbs. Below, we walk you through what you need to know to buy the best bulb for your needs

Choose a light bulb with the right fitting

Many a shopping trip has been thwarted by the lack of this critical piece of information. There are an awful lot of fittings to choose from so, if you can, take the old bulb you are replacing to the store with you. But if you can’t do that, then use the graphic above, which shows some of the most common fittings. You will need to write down the fitting reference number and take it along to match with the packaging on the box of your new bulb.

Don’t be put off by the upfront cost of LED lights

They could save you hundreds in the long run. There are three main types of regular light bulb – CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp – the standard type of energy-saving light bulb), halogens or LEDs.

CFL annual running

CFLs are cheap and widely available in a range of sizes and outputs. Some older CFLs were slow to brighten, but this has improved considerably in recent years. They are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and quickly pay for themselves in energy savings – but not everyone likes the light they emit.

Halogen annual running

Light from a halogen bulb is similar to an incandescent in colour and quality, as both use a tungsten filament. There’s little difference between the two in the amount of energy used and halogens are significantly more expensive to run than other energy savers. With an expected life span of less than two years, a halogen bulb is unlikely to pay for itself before it fails.

 

Guide to Buying LED Lighting

LED lighting. You know what it is. And you know that it’s the way of the future—if not the present—when it comes to illuminating everything from our homes to public spaces to indicator lights on our electronics. But with the technology advancing more and more each year, LED lighting has allowed for more flexibility in design, greater efficiency in use and a host of other benefits that affect our daily living

Efficiency

Compared to conventional incandescent lamps, LED lighting lasts longer, is more durable, and is over five times more efficient. LED bulbs typically use only 2 to 10 watts of electricity

Brightness

LED lighting is measured in lumens, not watts

Cost

LED lighting fixtures have a higher upfront cost, but will have a greater lifespan in the long run

Design

The compact size of LEDs make them an ultra-flexible design element, which has allowed designers and manufactures to create shapes, silhouettes and technologies that simply weren’t possible before.

 

LEDs are dramatically more cost-efficient over the long run.

For instance, a single 10-watt LED that puts out 800 lumens of light (lumens are units of brightness for a light source — more on that in just a bit) will add about $1.20 per year to your power bill if used for 3 hours a day at an average energy rate of 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Under those same parameters, a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb that puts out the same 800 lumens will cost about $7.20 per year. That’s more than the cost of replacing it with a basic LED like the one described above. Multiply that by the total number of bulbs in your home, and you’re looking at the potential for some pretty significant long-term savings, especially if you live in area with above-average energy rates

LEDs are also rated to last for tens of thousands of hours, which can translate to decades of use. Compare that with the year or so you typically get out of an incandescent, and you can begin to see why so many people find these bulbs appealing. With some options now as cheap as $3 per bulb, that 10W LED would pay for itself in energy savings within a few months, then keep on saving you money for years if not decades to come

First, it’s important to understand that LED lights typically don’t “burn out,” the way that incandescents do. Instead, they undergo “lumen depreciation,” which just means that they gradually grow dimmer and dimmer over a very long period of time. The test that the IES uses to determine a bulb’s longevity is known as the LM80, and it calculates how long it will take for an LED to fade enough for you to notice it

In the LM80 test, engineers run the bulb for 9 months straight in order to get an accurate read of the light’s rate of decay. Using those figures, they can calculate the point at which the light will have faded to 70 percent of its original brightness — the point where you’ll start to notice that things aren’t quite as bright as they used to be. This point, known as “L70,” is the current standard in LED longevity. If an LED says it’ll last 25,000 hours, it’s really saying that it will take the bulb 25,000 hours to fade down to 70 percent brightness

This isn’t to say that LEDs don’t fail. They definitely do. As with any device relying on tiny, delicate electrical components, things can go wrong. Fortunately, more and more LED bulbs come with multiyear warranties for cases of mechanical failure. Some manufacturers, like GE and Cree, offer affordable LED bulbs with 10-year warranties. Consumers with a healthy dose of skepticism regarding LED longevity claims should look for bulbs like these, made by manufacturers willing to put their money where their mouth is

 

FACT SHEET: A CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO BUYING QUALITY LEDS

Light-emitting diode light bulbs and lighting fixtures are known as LEDs. LEDs can have varied designs with a range of looks for many different uses. From the outside, many look like old-fashioned light bulbs and are available to replace a wide range of inefficient halogen and incandescent lighting.

Quality LEDs are now in most cases the ‘best buy’ in terms of electricity costs to run, frequency of replacement and overall lifetime costs. LEDs are quickly gaining popularity as they become more available at lower prices, however, evaluation of LED products currently available in the marketplace indicates a wide variation in quality and efficiency. This guide provides some practical tips to purchasing a quality LED product.

Not all LEDs are the same

Unlike Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), LEDs are currently not regulated for energy efficiency – or characteristics such as colour. This means you may experience greater variation in their performance

Quality LEDs – cheaper in the long run

Quality LED light bulbs last 5 to 10 times longer than halogen light bulbs and consume a quarter of the energy to produce the same light output

Figure 1 A 10W LED bulb would cost $39 in total to buy and run over 10 years. Over this time, five 42W halogen bulbs would need to be used at a total cost of $148, or two 12W CFL bulbs would be used, at a total cost of $48. These figures are based on lifetimes of 6000 hours for CFL and 2000 hours for halogen; an LED price of $10, CFL price of $6, and halogen price of $3. The electricity rate is 28.55¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh

 

things to consider when buying LED

As your incandescent fittings or light globes burn out, it’s a good time to consider switching to LED fixtures. LEDs have an impressive lifespan (20-something years!) and are very cost-effective in the long term. Now’s the right time to switch to LEDs. These bulbs have made significant advances over the last few years, finally delivering the warm light incandescent have comforted us with for decades. Because there are so many LED varieties, choosing an LED is entirely different from picking up an incandescent. Before you head to the store, find out what you need to know about choosing the right LED light or fitting to suit you requirements and the benefits it will provide

Lumens, not watts

When shopping for bulbs and lights, you’re probably accustomed to looking for watts, an indication of how bright the bulb will be. The brightness of LEDs, however, is determined a little differently.

Contrary to common belief, wattage isn’t an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren’t a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. (The point, after all, is that they draw less energy.)

But don’t bother doing the math — there isn’t a uniform way to covert incandescent watts to LED watts. Instead, a different form of measurement should be used: lumens.

The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb, and is the number you should look for when shopping for LEDs. For reference, here’s a chart that shows the watt-lumen conversion for incandescents, halogen, fluorescent and LEDs

Must Know How To Take Care Possums In Your Garden

Tips for attracting a possum/opossum to your property

Despite their reputation as being pests, opossums are in fact useful little animals in your garden. They eat real pests such as slugs and small rodents and rarely cause problems themselves* (see below) . Opossums are also entertaining to watch because of their agility and intelligence. As with other wildlife, much of the natural habitat of possums has been lost to development and agriculture.

Opossums inhabit a wide variety of habitats and are not at all territorial.  They naturally prefer deciduous wooded areas near water sources, but can also be found in farmlands or marshes. They have become very common in urban, suburban and farming areas. They are wanderers, highly nomadic, and do not staying in one specific territory. Even mothers with young will spend only a few nights in any given place. They reside in a variety of homes including abandoned burrows, tree cavities, hollow logs, attics, garages or building foundations. They are not adept at digging, so they often utilize burrows that another animal, usually a skunk or woodchuck, may have excavated. They may even share dens with other species, including rabbits, skunks, raccoons, other opossums, and small mammals.

It’s best not to attract wild animals, including opossums, into an area with food. That is a good way to create a nuisance animal that ends up being killed.  Food left outside may also attract mice, skunks and raccoons, which can quickly become pests.  If you do decide to leave food for opossums, it can be as simple as a couple of bowls on the ground. Omnivorous opossums appreciate meaty treats such as cat kibble as well as fruits and vegetables. DO NOT LEAVE HUMAN FOOD, especially junk food. Opossums may well love such food, but it is not good for them. Ideally, put the food out in the evening, watch the possums feeding, then remove the food bowls so you don’t wind up feeding rodents

Providing shelter material or habitat is the best thing to do to attract opossums, but due to their nomadic nature this may not be successful.  In many states it is not legal to transport/relocate wild animals.  If this is to be done, the animal should be trapped humanely in a havahart trap and taken several miles away to a forested area near a water source (stream or pond). If the animal was a nuisance, near a barn or chicken coop, cleaning up all food that would attract opossums, will solve the problem. Opossums do not need to be lethally trapped in order to discourage them.

Install a possum nest box to mimic the tree holes that possums use for nesting. A possum nest box is essentially like a large bird box with a 5-inch diameter hole near the top. The Australian government provides detailed instructions for making possum boxes, which are the right size for North American opossums as well. Attach the nest box 6 to 10 feet up in a tree.

 

Tips for Attracting Opossums to Your Property

Although some people think opossums are pests, they are in fact useful little animals in your garden. They eat real pests such as slugs and small rodents and rarely cause problems themselves* (see bottom of page). Opossums are also entertaining to watch because of their agility and intelligence. As with other wildlife, much of the natural habitat of opossums has been lost to development and agriculture.

Opossums inhabit a wide variety of habitats and are not at all territorial. They naturally prefer deciduous wooded areas near water sources, but can also be found in farmlands or marshes. They have become very common in urban, suburban and farming areas. They are wanderers, highly nomadic, and do not staying in one specific territory. Even mothers with young will spend only a few nights in any given place. They reside in a variety of homes including abandoned burrows, tree cavities, hollow logs, attics, garages or building foundations. They are not adept at digging, so they often utilize burrows that another animal, usually a skunk or woodchuck, may have excavated. They may even share dens with other species, including rabbits, skunks, raccoons, other opossums, and small mammals

Encourage other wildlife to provide opossum prey by gardening organically and planting a dense variety of plants. Opossums need to obtain most of their food from natural sources.

It’s best not to attract wild animals, including opossums, into an area with food. That is a good way to create a nuisance animal that ends up being killed. Food left outside may also attract mice, skunks and raccoons, which can quickly become pests. If you do decide to leave food for opossums, it can be as simple as a couple of bowls on the ground. Omnivorous opossums appreciate meaty treats such as cat kibble as well as fruits and vegetables. DO NOT LEAVE HUMAN FOOD, especially junk food. Opossums may well love such food, but it is not good for them. Ideally, put the food out in the evening, watch the opossums feeding, then remove the food bowls so you don’t wind up feeding rodents.

Providing shelter material or habitat is the best thing to do to attract opossums, but due to their nomadic nature this may not be successful. In many states it is not legal to transport/relocate wild animals. If this is to be done, the animal should be trapped humanely in a havahart trap and taken several miles away to a forested area near a water source (stream or pond). If the animal was a nuisance, near a barn or chicken coop, cleaning up all food that would attract opossums, will solve the problem. Opossums do not need to be lethally trapped in order to discourage them.

 

What to do about opossums

Opossums get a bum rap. Often seen as a pest and accused of everything from knocking over garbage cans to killing chickens, these quiet marsupials are rarely a threat and easily sent on their way

Common problems and solutions

Opossums are often accused, but rarely responsible for getting into garbage cans or gardens. They are certainly game to stop by and clean up the mess left by other wayward critters, though! They are often accused of killing chickens, something that happens very rarely. Most people complain about opossums just being there, rather than for any problems they cause

Tolerance

Opossum are not aggressive: their open-mouth, defensive hissing is merely a bluff to look vicious. And if that doesn’t work they play dead when really scared!

How to keep opossums out

The best way to keep opossums from denning under a deck or patio is to make sure they cannot get there in the first place by keeping any holes filled

Rabies

People often mistake the open-mouth hissing and drooling behavior of opossums as a sign of rabies. However, this is just a bluffing behavior that opossums use as a defense mechanism. In fact, rabies is extremely rare in opossums, perhaps because they have a much lower body temperature compared to other warm-blooded animals

 

How to Attract a Possum to My Yard

Despite their reputation as being pests, possums (or opossums) are in fact useful little animals in your garden. They eat real pests such as slugs and small rodents and rarely cause problems themselves. Possums are also entertaining to watch because of their agility and intelligence. As with other wildlife, much of the natural habitat of possums has been lost to development and agriculture. This means you can encourage them to visit your yard by providing food and places to nest.

Provide a possum feeding station, which can be as simple as a couple of bowls on the ground. Omnivorous possums appreciate meaty treats such as cat kibble as well as fruits and vegetables. Don’t put out human food, especially junk food. Possums may well love such food, but it is not good for them. Ideally, put the food out in the evening, watch the possums feeding, then remove the food bowls so you don’t wind up feeding rodents.

Encourage other wildlife to provide possum prey by gardening organically and planting a dense variety of plants. Possums need to obtain most of their food from natural sources

Keep pets inside at night and supervise them outside during the day. Cats and possums are rarely a threat to each other, but a large cat may attack possums and could discourage them from visiting. A dog is a threat and may kill possums if unsupervised.

Install a possum nest box to mimic the tree holes that possums use for nesting. A possum nest box is essentially like a large bird box with a 5-inch diameter hole near the top. The Australian government provides detailed instructions for making possum boxes, which are the right size for North American opossums as well. Attach the nest box 6 to 10 feet up in a tree.

 

Opossum Society of the United States

As the development of once rural areas increases, the opossum continues to be pushed out of its natural habitat and forced to live in a more urban environment. Opossums are extremely adaptable and have successfully made the transition to accept people as their neighbors. With a little tolerance and understanding you can do the same for the opossum, and we can all happily co-exist.

Considered rodents by many, this is a common misconception. Opossums are marsupials, or pouched mammals, and are related to the kangaroo and the koala. The opossum holds the distinction of being North America’s only marsupial. We should not consider them as pests, but beneficial to the environment, as they eat all kinds of bugs and insects including cockroaches, beetles, cricket and spiders. Snails and slugs are considered a delicacy. They also help keep the rat and mouse population in check. Opossums have well earned the title of “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineers.”

LEAVE THE OPOSSUMS ALONE

Opossums should be allowed to live in their natural habitat. They are opportunistic animals and will often move into an area that has been damaged and then vacated by another animal. Unfortunately, the opossum is usually blamed for the damage.

DO NOT TRAP

If you find an opossum continues to return to your area, try eliminating the things that are attracting it. Clear away bushes, woodpiles and other hiding places, pick up fallen fruit from trees, and do not leave pet food out over night. Try leaving an outdoor light on at night.

OPOSSUM PROOF YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Make the area where you live less desirable. At night, keep doors and garages closed, and close windows that are located next to tree limbs and fences.