Differences Between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Differences Between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring looks great - in fact it's my favorite flooring surface. To my way of thinking wood floors look and feel warmer than tiles (although they have their place in the bathroom and kitchen) and wood is certainly easier to maintain than carpet.

But when it comes to choosing a genuine wood flooring material (note that I'm not including laminate which is a synthetic product), you have two choices - you can go with Solid Hardwood or Engineered Hardwood. In this article I'll outline the differences between these two types of wood flooring.

Environmental Impact

I'm starting with environmental considerations because they are all-too-often overlooked when discussing wood products. There are two main ways in which your choice of flooring will have different levels on impact on the environment:

1. The production process

Solid hardwood is entirely comprised of hardwood while the engineered variety uses less hardwood by utilizing softwoods for the inner layers with a layer of hardwood only on the outside layers. Hardwoods take a lot longer to grow than softwoods so using engineered wood is better for the environment.

Another important difference in the production...

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Is Rent to Own a Good Idea for Buying a House?

Rent to buy a house

I recently published an article by Nicholas Brown who works for JustRentToOwn.com and it got me thinking, why do buyers enter into rent to own arrangements, and are they a good idea?

Before we delve into the question it would probably help to ensure you know what I'm talking about so I'll briefly explain what Renting to Own actually is...

Rent to Own - How it Works

As a home buyer who doesn't have the ability to put down a full deposit or access a mortgage right now, you can enter into a contract to rent the home you want to buy for a specified amount of time, usually 1 to 5 years, at the end of which you will have the option to buy the house.

Although regulations vary from state to state, here are some of the typical elements of a rent to own contract:

  • You begin by putting down a deposit typically between 2.5% to 7% of the agreed purchase price (this is called 'option money') which is held in escrow and will become your part of your deposit if you exercise your option to buy the house at the end of the lease, otherwise it is typically non-refundable.
  • You pay regular monthly rent plus an additional amount which goes toward your deposit/purchase if you take the option to...

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6 Summertime Home Improvements on a Shoestring

Getting ready for Summer

The weather is finally warming up and if you live in Britain, you’ll be ready for it! But is your house ready? Getting your home summer-ready can help you make the most of the season - and it doesn’t have to break the bank. We've put together a handy list of tips to help you improve your home on a shoestring budget.

1. Let there be light

After months of turning up the radiators and hiding under blankets, it’s finally warm enough to leave the house without a jacket - so celebrate by letting in the light. While the curtains might have spent the majority of 2015 firmly drawn, they can now be opened wide to let in the springtime sunshine. Pulling back the blinds and opening the windows will allow natural light to burst through and instantly brighten up your home with all the scents of summer.

2. Defrost your freezer

If ever there was a time to dig deep and defrost your freezer, this is it. Clean out your ice trays and make space for all the delicious icy treats that come with the season. Stocking your freezer with plenty of snacks will help cool you down on those hot days and instantly get you in the summertime spirit. If you’re feeling extra productive, you can give your fridge...

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Outdoor Radiant Heaters

Outdoor Radiant Heaters

Last month I wrote a piece called Outdoor Entertaining During Winter in which I mentioned outdoor radiant heaters as being a good option for keeping your guests warm. The article featured a picture of Heatstrip heaters on the patio ceiling, so I thought I'd go into a little more detail to explain what these types of heaters are.

With indoor HVAC systems you will often have convection heaters such as radiators, or systems which work by forcing warm air throughout the home, however these techniques don't work in an outdoor setting because the warm air quickly dissipates, and this is where outdoor radiant heaters come into play.

Radiant heaters work by radiating large amounts of heat directly on to all objects and people nearby, heating them up without too much warmth being lost by air currents carrying the heat away. This is what makes radiant heaters the best choice for outdoor use.

Gas vs Electric Radiant Heaters

portable patio heater

The first choice you have to make is whether you want to use gas or electric powered heaters.

Portable patio heaters, like the one pictured right from Home Depot, are usually powered by bottled gas. This makes them highly portable and easy to position anywhere...

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Hitachi NR38AK: Pneumatic 1-1/2” Strap-Tite Fastening System Strip Nailer

Hitachi NR38AK

Hitachi recently sent me the following information about the latest addition to their Strap-Tite range...

Hitachi Power Tools have announced the newest addition to its extensive pneumatic lineup; a 1-1/2” Strap-Tite Fastening System Strip Nailer, model NR38AK. This nailer is designed specifically for fastening various types of pre-drilled metal connectors to wood by using the nail tip as a guide for exact placement with a sequential drive mechanism. This nailer rounds out Hitachi’s Strap-Tite family and offers superior precision and control for metal connector to wood applications.

The NR38AK accepts commonly used 1-1/2” paper collated fasteners ranging from .131” - .148” at 36 degrees. The positive safety exposes the nail tip so that the user can guide the nail into the pre-drilled metal connector hole without damaging the collation, ensuring each nail is precisely driven. Dry-fire lockout prevents accidental dry-fire and assures the nail is lodged securely for added safety.

Hitachi NR38AK box

The NR38AK’s performance is only enhanced by its convenience. This tool is lightweight and well-balanced at just 4.6 lbs, for minimum fatigue during extended use or overhead applications....

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Make More of Natural Light in Your Home & Be Happier

Make More of Natural Light in Your Home

In general I would say that having more light in your home makes for a happier home, particularly if you work from home like I do.

It is known that sunlight plays a role in moderating melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D which again plays a role in maintaining serotonin levels - all this is connected to mood.

One simple solution for dark rooms or hallways is to go out and get more electric lighting, but that should be a last resort because it leads to more energy consumption and puts more pressure on the environment unless you have solar panels and are electrically self-sufficient which isn't the case for most people.

So in light of that (pun intended), here are a few tips for brightening up your home broken down into two sections:

  • More Light With Renovating
  • More Light Without Renovating

More Light With Renovating

In this section I'm going to talk about a range of projects from the very simple, such as a coat of paint, to the more complex such as installing skylights, and a few other ideas in between.

Making surfaces more reflective

Although mirrors are the obvious tool for increasing the amount of light in a space, they're not the only reflective surfaces you can have....

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Outdoor Entertaining During Winter

radiant heaters for the patio

So you might be wondering why I'm writing about outdoor entertaining in winter when it's nearly May. It's because I'm currently on the Sunshine Coast in Australia where it's just over 5 weeks away from the beginning of Winter.

This is a sub-tropical region so although it does get a little cooler here the temperature on the coast never drops below freezing even on the coldest days and evenings. In fact I like the climate so much that I'm currently looking to find a new place to live here.

I have a lot of family in this part of the world, so I expect I'll be doing quite a bit of entertaining, and due to the local customs a lot of that will be done outside.

Actually it's rather reminiscent of Southern California here - the temperature averages around 20°C (68°F) during the day and about 9°C (48°F) at night here during the winter, so a little bit of outdoor heating is still needed at night.

Keeping the Guests Warm

The most important thing when you're entertaining outside is to make sure everyone is warm and comfortable, and you can do that with heating, lighting and with the kinds of food you serve.

Over the last two weekends I've been to evening outdoor dinner parties held...

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Glow in the Dark Paving

Pavers that glow in the dark

I was recently sent an email about Bonita Stone so I took a look at their website and I was immediately captivated by their Glowpave pavers.

As you can see from the picture on the left and in more detail below, these pavers glow in the dark like something out of the movie Avatar.

I wanted to know more about Glowpave, so I sent them some questions and company Director Scott Petricevich was kind enough to send back the answers below.

But first, take a look at this image which shows how the look when installed during both the day time and in the evening to get a complete picture of how they look:

Glowpave pavers

Here are the questions I put to Scott along with his answers:

Your Glowpave range of pavers are quite striking, how did your company come up with the idea?

As a company we are always trying to evolve and thought having a pavers that light up at night would be a good safety idea.

How do you achieve the 'glow in the dark effect', are you using a phosphor additive or is it achieved in some other way?

We use a luminous stone.

What is the expected life of the glow in the dark effect?

We have been manufacturing the glow stone now for 6 years and all is still good with the glow. The...

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Thank you for a great time

A few weeks back I announced that in 2014 I would no longer be helping Becca host Healthy Tuesdays Blog Hops.  I have loved working with Becca- she is an awesome person and blogger.  I have not had the opportunity to meet her in person, I definitely have enjoyed chatting with her about all kinds of topics.  I definitely count her as a friend and I promise to continue stopping in A Humble Bumble to say "Hi!"

I have learned so much from all of you.  I have so enjoyed reading everyone's ideas, struggles, suggestions, what worked for them, etc.  Often my own struggles are similar and I can completely relate.  While I cannot promise to stop in super often, I will definitely try to stop in occasionally on Tuesdays to read a few great posts.  

While this chapter of my life is closing, I have a very exciting one opening here in just a couple of weeks.  I attended orientation for school on December 6th where I was able to meet some amazing people.  I cannot wait to work with them as we all work towards our masters in library and information science.

I wish each and every one of you the very best in 2014.

I tried it Orange Vinegar for cleaning

A few years ago I decided to make some changes in my life in an attempt to help my fibromyalgia.  One of the changes I decided to make was to stop using most of the harsh chemicals I was using to clean my house.  Even with the windows open and fans blowing, the odor that these cleaning products gave off was enough to send me gagging from the room.  Not to mention the burning nose, burning throat, burning eyes that I suffered each time I cleaned.  Searching for alternatives (this was pre-Pinterestdays :-))  I came upon vinegar and baking soda for cleaning.  While it does take a little more elbow grease to get things clean, it is so worth it.  No more nasty, harsh chemicals.  No more chemical residue.  No more nasty smells!

So while purusing Pinterest, I came upon the orange scented vinegar pin.  Now I have been making lavender vinegar for past couple of summers (cause sometimes I want something that smells better than just plain old vinegar!) and absolutely love that.  I usually run out of this wonderful lavender vinegar sometime in November or December so this orange vinegar looked like a great winter option.  Here is the pin I originally found for this:

Source: littlebrickranch.com via Designerd on Pinterest

If you go out to Pinterest and search orange vinegar you will now find a LOT of different pictures for this pin.  So this past winter, I gave this a try in the hopes that it would be a great scented vinegar.

Think About It Thursday

This week I thought I would try linking up with Mumfection, Homemaid Simple, and Tim and Angi's blog for Think About It Thursday.  They provide a topic question for everyone (which is great when you are having one of those days).  It's fun to read different prospectives on the same question too!
So this week's question is: Who would you choose to be shipwrecked on a desert island with? 

For me, this is quite easy to answer-- my hubby!  He is my best friend, has seen me at my very worst (and still is with me), plus he could help build us shelter and protect me!   Add in that I would have someone to snuggle with and what else do you need in life?  We could laugh, cry, be crazy together and we would still love each other in the end. 

Birthday Giveaway advice

This year I turn the big 4-0 (I am cringing and hiding at the thought)!  Since there is nothing I can do about it, I have decided to make my big birthday into an event here on the hill.  I want to organize my first giveaway to coincide with the big event.    Basically a scenario where I have to have the birthday but I would like others to benefit from my crazy day!  :-D

But I need your help with several things- please!  It doesn't matter if you have never had a give away on your blog but if you have then I have even more questions for you.

First, I have to fund the entire giveaway on my own.  While I would love to give away say an Ipad, well I cannot afford to buy one at the moment.  I have a few ideas for the giveaway and I am wondering if everyone could tell me what they think (which ideas do you like and why and which ideas do you not like as well and why).  Here they are:

1. A pamper yourself giveaway: handmade soaps, bubble bath or bath bombs, maybe a bath pillow, thick lotions, etc.

2. A Reading and relaxing giveaway: A gift card to a book store, some chocolates, nice bookmarks, etc.

3. A gardening basket: some gardening hand tools, some seeds for flowers, maybe a gardening book, gloves, hand soap and lotion for gardening.

4. Movie Night: a gift card for a movie rental or maybe an actual movie, popcorn, some theater box candy, etc

5. Something else-- what other suggestions do you have?  What great giveaways have you entered for or given away?

If you have had a giveaway on your blog before, where are the best places to advertise it?  From where did you get the most traffic?  What program did you use for the giveaway- please simple to use is high priority here!  Any other piece of advice that you wished someone else had shared with you about giveaways? 

I hope that we can all learn from this so please share your advice!

Thank you for visiting me here on the hill and come back soon.

Healthy Tuesdays Blog Hop

It's that time again... Time to link up your healthy posts and visit the posts other bloggers have linked-up! I for one look forward to seeing what you all link-up this week.

DIY popsicle soaps- another taste of summer!

I first made these cute soaps when I was a Girl Scout Leader with my junior troop.  They had a lot of fun making them and I think they are cute reminders of summer!  So in keeping with my summery theme this week here is how to make popsicle soap.

Aren't they cute??  They definitely give me a summery feeling in the shower.

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Why Should Your Home's Windows Be Tinted?

Tinted vs Not Tinted Windows

Owning a home is expensive enough as it is; upkeep can be difficult and people's priorities can feel scrambled when they are faced with several necessary improvements or upgrades that cost tons of hard-earned money. Even beautiful, new homes could always benefit from certain improvements. Commercials, magazines, and the amazing house down the block constantly push people to improve their homes with similar dedication to optimistic self-improvement. New paint jobs, new furniture, better shrubbery, crown molding, de-rusting fixtures, upgrading lighting--the list of home improvements never ends.

So why tint windows, then? What makes this upgrade to a home important? Why should it take priority over other home improvement needs? Most homeowners cannot simply flick their wrists and, within a single month, improve just about every aspect of a home at once.

However, a single upgrade can in fact improve multiple aspects of a home at once. These are 5 ways that tinting, above any other home improvement project, causes a cascade of important and beautiful effects on a home.

1. Tinting Protects Inhabitants

Part of the UV rays that make extended exposure to direct sunlight highly...

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