Interior Projects

Determining Your Home Security Needs

Home Security: How to Determine Your Needs

No matter you are the owner or living in as tenant, your house reflects your personality. Everyone wants a beautiful, comfortable and secured place to live. With escalating rate of crime, security perhaps has become the first priority. People these days may compromise on the looks and comfort, but when it comes to security the answer is a clear NO.    Security Camera

How to make your home secure. It’s an unsolved question for many people around. If you just Google or pick up today’s newspaper, you’ll find lots of options available. There are countless firms in almost every area that offer different solutions to home security problems. Some offer security equipment, such as, security cameras, alarm systems and related products. Others may even offer you a full-fledged security plan backed-up by the services like remote surveillance, private guards and etc. But before proceeding ahead, you must know what kind of home-security you actually need.

How to Determine Your Needs

Determining the actual security needs is very important. If you know exactly what you need, you’ll not only cut the overall cost but you’ll surely end-up with the safest and appropriate system for home security. It is quite easy to determine, just ask yourself these questions: –

  • How many entrances do you have?
  • What may be the potential access points for intruders?
  • How is your neighborhood?
  • What is the current rate of crime in your area?

How many entrances you have: Starting with the basics, thoroughly check all entrances that you have to the house. Check all the doors and windows as far as their locks, strength, and durability are concern. If you doubt anything, never let it go, fix the problem ASAP.

What may be the potential access points for intruders? This is very important yet interesting question. To answer it you have to think like a burglar. Think about the possible ways that you can break into your house despite all closed entrances. If you find any, get rid of them immediately.

How is your neighborhood?  Locality and community in which you are living has lot to do with your home security. This question has two factors to consider. The first is linked with the structure or design of your house and neighborhood. If your house is adjoined with your neighbor and they are attached to their neighbor, it causes real security threats. The second factor is linked with the behavior for your neighbors, are they friendly and supportive? Consider both factors seriously.

What is the current rate of crime in your area? This question will lead you to choose the level of the home security you need. If the rate is high, you may consider a well-equipped security plan using cameras, alarms, sensors and even surveillance services. If the crime rate is low, you can stick with the basic self-precaution methods for your home security.

If you know exactly what your home security needs are it will be easier for you to choose the right plan or products. This not only saves huge security costs, but it also protects your assets and loved ones against any potential danger.

Interior Projects

Cleaning Your Dryer Vents

Have you ever cleaned your dryer vents?  Have you ever considered that as something you might need?

Dryer vent fire

Interestingly enough, a clogged dryer vent accounts for more than 15,000 reported fires each year, however, it is something that most of us would never consider doing.  If you have a flexible vent line, you should simply replace that line when it shows signs of becoming clogged.  A rigid line is ideal and in most areas, a rigid line is now code.  There are flexible aluminum line options, but those have many ridges for the lint to cling to.

Dryer vents clogged with lint can cause dryers to work longer to dry that results in excess energy costs that could exceed $100 annually. Newer, more efficient, dryers push more of the lint into the vent line as the front screen trap causing more lint accumulation and clogging.

If you are not comfortable with running a little bit of 4″ aluminum dryer vent line on your own, you might want to consider a handyman for the service.  It is a simple job and you can probably book a handyman for an hour and get a couple of other everyday maintenance items looked at at the same time.

There are even services out there that specialize in cleaning of dryer vents.  One is named “Dryer Vent Wizard”.   They have quite a bit of helpful information on their web site at

If you are a handyman (I know that some of you read this site), you might want to consider a Dryer Vent Wizard Franchise as an add on to your business.


Interior Projects

Basement Musty? That’s not Healthy!


Building science research has shown that the quality of indoor air is more often than not worse than that the air outside your home. The air inside the living spaces in your home can be contaminated several ways: pet dander, insect infestations, unwanted mammalian pests, excessive moisture, poor ventilation, radon gas, and toxic chemicals like smoke and cleaning agents. The basement usually has the worst air quality of any other space in your home thanks to what’s going on down there: wet and damp foundation surfaces and poor ventilation.

Basement with mold issues due to water infiltration - Buffalo NY

If your basement, cellar or crawlspace smells musty, this is a strong signal that you have a dampness issue. On the other hand, if you have noticeable areas of wetness on the ground, foundation walls or even on the ceiling, you actually have a water seepage problem. In a situation like this, if you want healthier basement air quality, than you absolutely have to remove the source of the water seepage by calling in a basement systems and waterproofing specialist.

How Basement Moisture Management can improve the Air Quality in Your Basement.

Actually, with diligent maintenance it’s simple to stop the harm that water damage will cause to a home and the air quality inside it – really easy, in fact. If more homeowners would consider moisture management a routine home maintenance task, moisture & water issues would disappear. It’s as easy as that.

A basement moisture management checklist is pretty simple to manage. Here a number of pointers for raising the level of basement air quality by managing moisture levels:

• Identify and fix damp or leaky pipes, faucets and valves.
• Consider methods to improve air flow and ventilation.
• Examine your basement for dampness and odors frequently
• Use commercial products that absorb moisture and dehumidifiers to dry the air especially in problem zones like laundry rooms, crawl areas, and attics— all locations that a major contributors to poor air quality.

If you want healthier air in your basement or cellars and you’re not inclined to “do-it-yourself” then the best way to create a maintenance-free, moisture free environment down under is to call a Basement System or Basement Waterproofing specialist. It’s worth the small investment.

Cottage Project Interior Projects

Dual Flush Toilet Options – Easy to Not so Much

Dual Flush Toilets

When I decided to get a dual flush toilet for our cottage project, I mentioned it to a couple of friends and they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.  These are people would would consider themselves “green” or “conservationists” at heart.  I was surprised that they weren’t aware of the existence.  A dual flush toilet is just what it sounds like. It is a toilet that has 2 flushing modes. The aptly named “number 1” will flush with about 1-1.1 gallons of water. Flush “number 2” will use the full 1.6 gallons of water. Picture that savings over thousands of flushes per month for an average family and the water savings is enormous.  You will also see the “dual flush” option in commercial settings.  Pull the lever up for 1x the water and press it down for 3x the water.

Dual flush toilet

Our cottage project has a septic system and anything that can be done to reduce the volume headed into that system will help.

I did some quick research on the lower priced dual flush toilets and noticed that the stock unit carried by Home Depot is only $99. The stock unit carried by Lowe’s is $169. I will go with the Home Depot brand since the reviews on each unit (Lowe’s v. Home Depot) run about the same. They are both very good.

Dual Flush Converter Kits

There are retro-fit dual flush kits if you don’t want to replace an existing toilet.  However, I would caution you from certain types.  There is a type drop-in dual flush converter that doesn’t require any removal of hardware and the upper tank on your toilet.  That sounds great, but I would be willing to bet that 80% of these installations will slowly leak.  If your flapper doesn’t seat properly, your toilet will lead and completely defeat the purpose of the dual flush “water savings”.  The sinister part of this is that you won’t even know that it is leaking.  The trickle is generally so slight, you won’t know it exists.  You can drop food coloring into your tank to spot the leak.  If the food coloring trickles from your tank to your bowl without a flush, you are wasting a LOT of water.

The higher rated dual flush converter kits will not cost much more (literally a few dollars) but will require some plumbing work.  The upper tank will have to come off to be fitted.  Don’t worry, just about anyone can do it if you follow the instructions.  And don’t worry, there is no nasty water involved, just the clean stuff.  The kit below received very good reviews from Amazon and seems like it is a nice product to retrofit your toilet for dual flush.

Cottage Project Interior Projects Tools and Reviews

A Tiny Sink for a Tiny Bathroom

I know that this is an issue that arises for many people when you try to renovate a space, or try to squeeze in an extra bathroom or powder room.  Often, we find ourselves constrained by the space and a typical bathroom vanity is too large for the space.  Some will go with the small corner sink which is not ideal in terms of function.  Most, like me, want a full sized sink that doesn’t feel like a small sink.  My bathroom project will allow for a 24″ wide sink / vanity, but the depth (from the wall to to the front of the sink) needs to be very small.  I was able to locate a sink from IKEA that worked perfectly for my space. Maybe this will work for your small bath renovation as well.

The sink is their LILLÅNGEN sink.  The link below (click on the image) shows you the wall mount version, but if you want some storage, they even have an inexpensive vanity cabinet that can be used with or without legs.  This cabinet is made to provide a little storage an allow for the plumbing to run behind.

Ikea Lillangen sink

Sink with brackets:
Sink without brackets:
9 7/8″ deep vanity cabinet:

I would strongly recommend that you purchase your faucet directly from IKEA as well.  We purchased the Krakskar, along with our sink, at a price of $39.99. For that price, I expected a run-of-the-mill, marginal quality, lightweight faucet.  Boy, was I surprised.  This was a quality faucet that included the unique drain plug setup (not even needed since the sink ships with one) and even came with braided supply lines pre-installed.  In addition to that, the single hole faucets are not common and are a bit pricey.  Click the image (below) for a direct link to the Krakskar faucet.

Krakskar single hole faucet, IKEA

Here is a photo of our Lillangen Sink.  This is located in a cottage with a 5′ x 5′ bathroom.  We choose to wall mount the cabinet without legs.

Lillangen Sink from Ikea. with Krakskar faucet


How To's Interior Projects

Installing VCT Tile – Six Things They Don’t Tell You

VCT Tile Installation Tips – Six things they don’t tell you on the instructions.

Our prior post was an overview of encapsulating “cutback” adhesive which was leading toward installing a VCT tile floor. For those who don’t know, VCT stands for Vinyl composite tile.  You will see me write about “VCT tile” and I know that it is redundant, but I am going to write it that way so that the many people searching on VCT Tile can find our useful installation tips.  As mentioned in the prior post ( I did lay down a second coat of the “Ardex Feather Finish” and it came out nice and smooth with a simple 10″ drywall knife.

The following are not so much instructions, but a nice guide from someone who is laying down VCT for the first time.  There are many flooring options out there (Vinyl Plank Flooring) but I decided on the VCT since it is very durable and comes in many colors (Actually, my wife wanted these tiles. End of story).

  1. Prep your area.
    If you want a professional looking job, you should take the time to pull up and molding that you can reapply and then use to cover your exposed edges. Generally, I will pull up the shoe molding when installing any flooring product.  This 1/2″ to 3/4″ fudge factor can be nice.    You should also take the time to undercut your door jambs so that you can slip your tile underneath.  If you know someone who did their own vinyl or laminate floor, take a look at the areas around the door jamb.  This will tell you if they took the time (or put in the effort) to prep the area and do a good job.
  2. Work on your layout.
    The layout of your floor is one of the most important aspects of your project.  A bad layout is a sure sign of an amateur.  Having a full tile at one end and a 1″ piece at the other end is not the mark of a pro.  Many will suggest that you split the difference between walls. However, sometimes an obstacle can get in the way that might alter that plan. A shower pan, for example, might fall in the middle of the floor and you won’t want that item to have the 1″ sliver alongside.
    Take your time and do a dry run.  You don’t have to do the entire floor. In most cases, you can just do a cross on the floor. This will show your layout along each wall and will allow you to run up to any obstacles (see photos above).
  3. Cutting of tile (TIP)
    When cutting VCT, I found suggestions that helped.  A straight cut is simple. Score the piece, turn over and snap the tile. Piece of cake.  When cutting a curve, or an inset shape on the tile, it wasn’t as simple. Some will suggest that you heat the tile with a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the material and then cut through with your razor knife. I found this to be trouble since it burned through blades and allowed for error.  Rather than using the razor knife for these cuts, I used a jigsaw with a fine blade. This was a simple solution and worked incredibly well (No thrust on the saw, high speed, and slow through the material for best results).
  4. Clean the surface thoroughly.
    Many will vacuum up a floor and call things good.  If you prepped the area by pulling the shoe molding and then undercut your jambs, reach down and sweep your hand across the surface.  It is probably covered with some loose grit.  Take the time to do a quick sweep with a slightly damp cloth to get a clean surface.  This can make a difference in the long run.
  5. Apply adhesive with u-notch trowel.
    We are living in a funny time.  I purchased my VCT adhesive at Home Depot. Naturally I assumed that the instructions were on the tub.  Not the case. They refer you to the web site to locate the application instructions and the recommended notched trowel.  Not only that, but they don’t give the specific page. They just say “go to”.  My grandfather would have been ticked at that!
    If you are using the same product that I did (Henry 430 Vinyl Adhesive), you can locate the complete application instructions on the following page:
    Henry 430 Installation InstructionsTo save you some time here is the recommended notch for the Henry 430 adhesive for VCT

    For extended coverage:
    1/32” D x 1/16” W x 5/64” A
    250-300 sq. ft./gal.
    (28-33 sq. yd./gal.)
    For longer working time over concrete and wood:
    1/16” D x 1/16” W x 3/32” A
    150-250 sq. ft./gal.
    (17-28 sq. yd./gal.)
  6. Let set for at least 90 minutes, perhaps more. (TIP)
    The set time will vary based on humidity.  The key thing to remember here is that it should be tacky to the touch and the material should not stick to your finger.  I made 2 rookie mistakes with my first VCT job.  Too little set in room 1 and too much set in room 2.In my case, I set the timer for 90 minutes and went to town when it rang.  It was 90% humidity out so the glue was not ready for the application. Because of this, it was very loose and my tile moved a LOT when standing on.  This was messy, and required quite a bit of adjustment to get a decent looking job.  It was messy since the tile would take up the adhesive  with movement and then that adhesive would squeeze up through when the next tile was placed alongside.

    In my second room, I let the adhesive set for too long.  I was not going to make the same mistake twice.  Even though the tile was nice and tacky (this adhesive is workable for many hours) it would not allow for movement once a tile was set.  Your first tile set would need to be very near perfect… sort of.  Read on>

  7. Place tile carefully and don’t apply pressure until you are certain it is in place. (TIP)
    When I placed the first tile in room 2, I naturally applied pressure to set it up.  After my loose tile experience in room 1, I was going to be sure to set it as well as I could and then make my slight adjustments.  My excessive setting time did NOT allow for this. Luckily my setup was close enough to be good.
  8. Have warm soapy water nearby for clean up. (TIP)
    If you do have some glue squeeze up through, clean up immediately with warm soapy water.
  9. Have mineral spirits nearby for the clean up that you missed. (TIP)
    If you miss some spots on the floor, you might want to sweep a slightly dirty rag over the surface to reveal any leftover adhesive. If it is not coming up with the soapy water, use a bit of mineral spirits.  You should be able to get it up with mineral spirits for at least the first 24 hours.
  10. Get over it! (TIP)
    We all make mistakes when completing a project.  They can be major or minor and you will probably treat them about the same.  This is simple human nature for most people who care about doing a good job.  You are reading this, so I know that you care about doing a good job.  I am sure you have heard this before “no one else will notice it”.  What’s done is done.  Move on to your next handyman project.
VCT Flooring Tile Project - After

Good luck with your own VCT flooring job!

Video Demonstration of VCT Tile Installation: