How To's Interior Design

DIY Butcher Block Counter Tops

Who doesn’t love a classic butcher block countertop.  I am not talking about the 1980’s Formica version, but a classic, 1″ – 2″  thick butcher block counter top.

You could probably figure out how to build this one yourself, but a plan is always helpful.  If you are going to build your own butcher block, please take a look at the plan link below.  Once reviewed, you will be in a much better place to build your own version.

This is the inexpensive (cough: cheap) way to go.  The material is common lumber and does not require a lot of gluing and sanding (a little).  The real trick to making this look like a traditional butcher block is in the finish (stain).

cheap butcher block counter top how to

One note: Please be sure to use a “food safe” finish on your own butcher block.

Free Plan: Breakfast For Dinner: Counter Tops.

How To's Interior Design

How to Detect a Leak in a Concrete Slab

leak in pipe within slab

A slab leak is a water leak within the foundation of a home, which can often result in water damage, flooding, and structural damage. For homeowners, it’s a complicated and expensive repair, and like many plumbing problems, it’s best to catch the issue early on. Slab leaks occur for a number of reasons including inept craftsmanship, aged pipes and foundation, high water pressure, tree roots and uneven soil. While the causes of slab leaks are often out of a homeowner’s control, they can always be aware of the signs of a slab leak to prevent further damage. If you notice a sharp increase in your water bill or experience irregular low water pressure, there may be a leak. Leak detection is a difficult process especially in larger homes, and you may need the assistance of a professional plumber. Before you call a plumbing company, however, there are some steps you can take to narrow down the leak’s source.

  1. Searching for cold or hot spots
    After sensing that there is a leak in your home, your first action would be to look for cold or warm spots on the floor. In case hot water pipes are leaking, you are likely to find a hot spot on the floor. On the other hand, you will feel cool spots on the floor when the leakage is being caused by cold water pipes. Also, you should be on the lookout for any wet spots on the floor as this could be indicative of slab leakage.
  2. Checking the pipe layout
    The next task would be to check the pipe layout under the leaking spot beneath the slab. If possible, you should employ the use of a metal detector to detect metallic pipes such as copper. In case the pipes are PVC, then you would need a special device to detect them.
  3. Look for cracks or mold
    While looking for a foundation leak, it is also important to look for any molds or cracks on the floor. In the former’s case, any detection of moisture is always an indicator of a leakage underneath. Cracks could also be an indication that water is leaking underneath the slab.
  4. Taking pictures of the slab
    Take pictures of all the slabs in the home. Thereafter, the pictures should be processed or opened on a monitor. You can then analyze each of these pictures carefully for any changes in the shades of paint. Also, these pictures could alert you to minor damages caused by a leakage. It is amazing how much detail will show in a photo compared to the naked eye.  Take a photo with the flash on and with the flash off.   You can modify the brightness when viewing by using a program like Picasa to enhance.
  5. Use listening device
    A listening device would also be a necessary accessory when detecting a leakage under your slab. In this case, the listening occurs along the piping lines where you try to hear running water for any changes. Leakage occurs when there are changes in the sounds emanating along the pipes. Thereafter, you should turn off the main source of water to the home.
  6. Jackhammering
    After ascertaining the point of leakage, the nest step would be to jackhammer as close to the leak’s source as possible. Granted, this may not be the exact point of leakage, however, being that it is in close proximity to the leakage point. You can avoid creating a lot of damage to the concrete by scoring the area with a concrete saw, or circular saw with a concrete blade, and jackhammering inside the scored area.  This will give you a clean line to repair.  FYI: cutting concrete is perhaps the messiest (dustiest) home improvement job you will do.

If you’re uncomfortable taking further action after locating the source of the leak, consult a professional plumber. They’ll be able to use special tools and equipment to determine if you correctly found the leak and fix it from there.

Interior Design

5 Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them

Maintaining your home comes in all forms, but none are more important than maintaining the quality and efficiency of your plumbing system. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common plumbing issues homeowners face and have provided some quick fixes and easy repairs so you don’t have to call a professional plumber. Implementing some of these fixes will save you time, money, and a lot of frustration.

Clogged drain


Clogged Drains

Hair is the most common debris that clog drains, especially in your bath tub. When the drain is blocked due to clumps of hair stuck in the drain, you’ll be standing in a large puddle of water, which could lead to flooding. An excellent method to unclog your drain is utilizing a “snake” — a flexible and long steel cord — to grab ahold of the stubborn debris to pull it out, or simply push it through the clogged drain. You can also bend a wire hanger to substitute a snake if you’re not able to purchase one. It also helps to pour boiling water down the drain once a month to loosen up any buildup and soap scum.

Leaking Faucet

One of the common ways to raise your water bill is a pesky, leaking faucet. As water drips from the leaky faucet, water is wasted down the drain, and you’ll be charged more money than necessary. Before beginning to fix your faucet by yourself, you should determine what type of faucet you have. Generally, to fix a leaky faucet that has two handles, you would need to turn off your faucet, and remove the components of the faucet to release pressure. Next, check the O-rings, or washers, to see if they are dry, cracked, or split. If they are, replace them with new O-rings from a hardware store. With one handle faucets, you can simply replace the valve stem if it is damaged.

Frozen Pipes

Once the cold season rolls around, your pipes are susceptible to freezing temperatures. When water freezes inside a pipe, it can cause the pipe to swell and expand, often resulting in a crack or burst water pipe. To prevent freezing pipes, there are a number of preventative steps you can take.

  • Disconnect garden hoses.
  • Empty the water lines of your sprinkler system by shutting off your water valve and turning on the system until not more water appears.
  • Allow your faucets to release a slow drip throughout the night.
  • Insulate your pipes.
  • Open you cabinets to let warm air in.
  • Shut off water valve when on vacation.

If your pipes still freeze, you can thaw frozen pipes by wrapping electric tape around them. Electric tape slowly thaws the pipes to ensure eroding is limited. Another great method is to wrap pipes with hot towels to melt away the frozen condition. You may also want to invest in a portable hair dryer to thaw out pipes.

Running Toilet

When you have a running commode, or toilet, it can cause leaks, floods, and raised water bills. With an average of 2.6 gallons down the drain on each flush, you wouldn’t want to waste water or money on running toilets! If you hear your toilet running, check to see if the float inside the toilet tank is loose or too tight. The float controls the level of water that flows into the tank, so you can either tighten or loosen the screw on top of the unit. If the float is not working properly, you can simply replace it. After you have checked the float, you should now examine the stopper to see if it is seated on the valve properly. In some cases, you are able to adjust the valve’s hinge to make the stopper sit properly; however, if you can’t get the stopper to seal completely over the valve, replacing it is the only option.

Clogged Shower Heads

As you’re taking a nice, hot shower, you notice that your shower head isn’t depositing as much water as you want. Most likely, your shower head is clogged with mineral buildup. Clearing out your shower head from mineral deposits is a simple task that only requires pure vinegar or CLR, which is a well known cleaning agent. Twist off your shower head, and you can either place it in a bowl of pure vinegar or a CLR mixture to break down the mineral buildup in your shower head. Usually, CLR dissolves the mineral deposits in a maximum of four hours. Vinegar, which is the cheapest of the two methods, cleanses the shower head completely by soaking overnight. Depending on your finances and preferences, you can use either of these products to clean your shower head.

With these plumbing repair solutions, you’ll be prepared for those common plumbing problems that can be easily fixed yourself.

Aramendia Plumbing, Heating & Air is a plumbing company in San Antonio, TX specializing in residential and commercial plumbing repair.




Interior Design

Cool Ways to Decorate Old Cabinets and Drawers Sans the Paint

Outdated cabinets and drawers can easily make a room look less than pleasing, not to mention that they can attract and make clutter. Unfortunately, when it is time for remodeling, these components can take a huge chunk of your budget, especially if you are planning to replace them with new ones. Yet, why waste money on purchasing new cabinets and drawers when you can actually breathe new life to your old ones with minimal effort and cash? Below are some decorating suggestions you can try to bring the zing back to your old cabinets and drawers without the need to repaint them.

Spruce up cabinet backing and inside of drawers

Drawer liners

One of the least expensive ways to update old cabinets and drawers is to decorate their backings and insides with liners or wallpaper. You can create the background you prefer by using wallpaper or liners with unique patterns or colors. Old documents, music sheets, fabrics and drawings are also great alternatives you can apply. If you want to add texture to the back and inside of your cabinets and drawers, tin panels, bamboo table runners and tiles are great options that will make your cabinets and drawers pop out against the wall.

If you have open faced cabinets (no doors), or glass cabinet doors, this change will really pop.  If you have a closed cabinet, the enjoyment from this modification will be purely your own.

Dress up the doors

Aside from the backs and insides of your cabinets and drawers, their doors also offer numerous opportunities for you to get creative. For instance, wooden appliques and decorative trims are widely available at lumber yards and home centers in different designs, colors and widths. You can easily cut and glue them along the edges of the doors of your cabinets and drawers, which, in turn, can lend a cottage style to your space. Applying stencil or monogram stickers on the surfaces of the doors is also a great means to style up your cabinets and drawers. These decorative accents allow you to add a personal touch to your cabinets and drawers.

To further boost the function of your cabinets and drawers, you can add cork boards or chalk boards on the door faces. Not only will these additions help hide the major flaws of cabinets and drawers, they also come in handy when you need to stick or write notes, recipes, and grocery lists.

Opt for new hardware

Discount Knobs and Pulls

Fitting your cabinets and drawers with new handles and knobs is another surefire way to jazz up these furniture. Home improvement centers carry a wide range of handles and knobs at different price points. Hence, it will not be difficult to find pieces that will complement the existing look of your space and will also befit the distressed appearance of your storage units. With careful measuring and leveling, you can easily apply the new hardware on the cabinets and drawers and instantly rev up their look.

As you can see, there are numerous ways how you can update your old cabinets and drawers without necessarily replacing or repainting them. With just a little creativity an resourcefulness on your part and as long as your cabinets and drawers are in great condition, it is possible to give them a fresh new look for less than the cost of purchasing new replacements.

Interior Design

How mixing up materials makes your living room more distinctive

Living rooms are meant to be warm and vibrant places to sit, or entertain. When picking the furniture for your living room, you’ll be dumbfounded by the sheer number of materials on offer that could make influence the feel of your living room for better (warm, vibrant) or for worse (cold, uninviting and uninspiring).

The key to getting the right feel is to mix up the materials in your living room into ones that bounce off one another; those which don’t contrast with each other so much that your living room ends up being a confused space. However, saying this, it doesn’t mean that you need to keep things so uniform that it ends up being a dull space. Too much wood can make a space look old fashioned. Too much vinyl-coated MDF can make things look too show-roomy.

These in mind, consider the following when piecing together your ideal living space.


Color plays a huge part in creating your ideal living space and knowing how to mix colors is key. If you keep the walls bright, for example, you can add darker elements through your furniture choices. Conversely, it’s difficult to brighten up an already dark room with lighter furniture.

Many of your furniture choices will come with colors inherently mixed in, like dark oak furniture for example, and can never be washed, sanded or dyed out. For this reason, think about the wider picture, or take samples into your living space to check they complement one another. Color wheels are great tools for jobs like this too.

Do remember that some things can be colored. Cushion covers – and even entire sofa spreads – can be dyed for example. Some furniture can be painted too. Woods, if stripped down bare, can take up varnishes or paints but if you buy pre-fabricated build-it-yourself furniture, then the chances are you’re stuck with the color the way it is.


Mixing up textures and grains is a fantastic way of giving your living space character. Woods contrasting with plastics could give your living room a modern look, albeit inspired by vintage or retro tastes. Ornate stone mantels on the fireplace meanwhile could provide a rustic look, if that’s what you’re going for.

It’s important not to lean too far in either direction, with too much grain, or too much gloss. In some ways, both could start to look like a sales room, or something that isn’t quite “real”. Most normal living rooms will take inspiration from a number of places, or styles, and incorporate them into what is your own personal space.