Turn Kitchen Time into Quality Time: Three Upgrades

kitchen(BPT) – The average American spends an hour a day in the kitchen preparing food and cleaning up afterward, according to the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Add in the time it takes to put groceries away, load and unload dishwashers, organize cabinets and pantries or just hang out, and you spend a whole lot of time in your kitchen.

But do you really enjoy that time? Whether cooking is your favorite activity or you would rather clean the bathroom, the livability and usability of your kitchen can directly affect how you feel about the time you spend there.

If you’re considering a kitchen renovation – among the most popular and profitable of all home improvements – keep in mind the value of upgrades that will enhance the efficiency, practicality and beauty of the space. This type of improvement will not only pay off at the time of resale, but can improve the time you spend in your kitchen.

Here are three key kitchen upgrades that can elevate the appeal and usability of your kitchen:

Improved Natural Lighting and Ventilation

The positive effects of natural lighting on mood are well documented. If your kitchen is small and dark, it can feel dingy and tired, no matter how new your appliances or shiny your granite countertops. Consider adding natural light sources such as skylights and roof windows. Not only can these natural light sources improve the feel of your kitchen, they can decrease the need for artificial lighting.

What’s more, if you opt for an Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh air skylight, like those made by Velux, you can improve your kitchen’sbath ventilation as well. These skylights create a chimney effect that passively vents fumes, odor, humidity and cooking smoke from the kitchen without the need for a noisy, less efficient exhaust fan. Adding energy efficient solar blinds can allow you to control the amount of sunlight that enters your kitchen, closing the blinds to keep the room cooler in summer and opening them to admit more warming light in winter. Operated by remote control, solar skylights and blinds, as well as the installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.

Upgraded Fixtures

Sinks and faucets are functional essentials for a kitchen, but they can – and should – also make a design statement. Replacing a basic, dated faucet and swapping out an older sink can have a significant impact on the overall look and utility of a kitchen – for a fraction of the cost of grander renovations.

It’s possible to find new sinks that fit virtually any design taste. Stainless steel provides a sleek, modern look while delivering outstanding durability. Apron sinks, which come in a variety of materials, blend well with a rustic design theme. Undermount and integrated sinks eliminate unsightly edges on countertops. You can also find a variety of basin styles in virtually every material, from single to double basins and prep sinks.

Whatever sink you choose, be sure to accent it with a high-tech faucet. Pull-down faucets make cleaning and filling pots a breeze, while touch-free faucets allow you to turn the flow of water off and on without ever touching the faucet itself – thereby avoiding the spread of germs. A vast array of colors, styles and handle types ensure you can find an upscale faucet that improves usability and looks great in your kitchen.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Appliances are a kitchen element well worth a little extra investment. Considering how much the average American family uses their refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and stove, improving the usability and efficiency of these appliances can both elevate your enjoyment of the kitchen and save you some money in the long run.

In the typical American home, appliances represent 13 percent of the household’s total energy consumption, according to the Department of Energy. Replacing older appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models can reduce your energy costs. For example, replacing an older refrigerator with an Energy Star certified appliance could reduce your energy costs as much as $300 over the lifetime of the refrigerator, according to the Department of Energy.

What’s more, newer appliances offer many of the high-tech features that make life in the kitchen easier, from touchscreen interfaces and temperature controls on dishwashers to Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators. For more kitchen ideas visit www.houzz.com.

Simple Steps Can Keep You and Your Family Healthy

20811762(BPT) – Pay attention to the news headlines and you may be wondering if you and your loved ones are safe from unseen perils like germs, bacteria and viruses – even in your home. There are things you can do to protect your health but it’s also good to know where germs linger. Some of their hangouts may surprise you.

According to WebMD, there are likely more germs in your kitchen sink than in your toilet. You’re probably using a bowl cleaner to disinfect your toilets, but is the kitchen sink getting equal treatment?

Your salt and pepper shakers dispense salt and pepper, but they also dispense cold viruses and other nastiness. A University of Virginia study tested the salt and pepper shakers of 30 adults who were showing signs of a cold, and every one of those shakers tested positive for the cold virus.

Now add your TV remote (also the dirtiest thing in your hotel room), your toothbrush, your computer keyboard and mouse, and your bathtub, and you have a good list of the dirtiest places in your home. And your floors? According to University of Arizona researcher Charles P. Gerba, PhD, they can have up to 4,000 times more germs than a toilet seat.

So, what can you do to reduce your risk of exposure to germs? Here are a few ideas to help reduce the risks and keep everyone healthy.

* Wash your hands. Your hands come into contact with each of the surfaces mentioned above and they can move viruses and bacteria to your nose, eyes and mouth. This means it’s important to keep them clean. It may seem like a long time to be washing them, but the 20-second rule is for real. Hand sanitizers are useful but not a substitute for good hand washing.

* Sanitize commonly used items. Remember the germs on that salt and pepper shaker? Wiping them off is very beneficial, as is more frequent cleaning of the kitchen sink. And for a deeper clean, consider using products that use UV-C light to kill germs, bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Verilux offers several sanitization tools that use UV-C light to kill up to 99.9 percent of these undesirables – quickly and easily – without chemicals. The 21-inch CleanWave Sanitizing Wand, for example, can be passed an inch above the area you wish to sanitize, be it the keyboard, the remote or those salt and pepper shakers.

“UV-C is a type of ultra-violet light with a shorter wavelength than visible light,” says Verilux President Nicholas Harmon. “The light penetrates a microorganism’s cell membrane and damages its DNA. This prevents growth and kills the organism. These products are the ideal chemical-free cleaning solutions for people who are concerned about their environment, particularly in light of recent headlines.”

* Cough smart. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is just a good habit. But doing so with your hands is a bad health habit. Next time you feel the urge to cough or sneeze, use the bend of your elbow instead. This will keep germs from transferring to your hands.

* Keep the carpets clean. Millions of allergens and germs camp in the carpets and floors of your home. Evict them with the CleanWave Bagless Vacuum and its portable version, the CleanWave Portable Vacuum. These devices use UV-C light to kill germs, viruses and bacteria, as well as microscopic pests like dust mites and flea eggs. You can use the portable vacuum to kill bed bugs before they hatch on mattresses.

* Avoid close contact. You don’t want to be anti-social but a little separation this time of year can be beneficial to your health. Avoid sharing items such as water bottles, glasses or food with others, and don’t be afraid to sit a seat apart whenever you can. You’ll be healthier in the long run for doing so.

Germs and allergens are part of everyday life, but that doesn’t mean they should be able to dominate yours. Keeping your home clean and practicing good health habits can reduce your risk of getting ill and keep you and your family healthy and happy. To learn more about the products available from Verilux, visit www.Verilux.com.

The Beauty of Wood Turns Homes into Architectural Masterpieces

 

fire(BPT) – Ever since humans stopped dwelling in caves and started living in huts made of tree branches, wood has been an indispensible structural and decorative residential material. Man’s house-building relationship with wood – historically, culturally and experientially – is deep, long and universal. In part that’s because wood is abundant, economical, durable and flexible. But our enduring love affair with wood is also due to the fact that, like us, each piece of timber is unique – its color, texture and grain are as individual as a human personality, so we keep discovering new aspects of its beauty and versatility to delight in.

Architects, designers and homeowners are creatively using wood’s inimitable qualities to bring character, warmth and distinction to different parts of the modern home. In Denver, Colorado, Sun Mountain, Inc., a manufacturer of custom doors and flooring, used select-grade alder – a hardwood with a tight grain and few knotholes – for a traditional-style double front door. The elegantly rustic design, which combines solid alder with glass panels and metal hardware, is set off by the house’s dry-stacked limestone walls.

“The double-pane glass doorlites are hermetically sealed for insulation against the Colorado winters,” says Ed Wright, Sun Mountain’s vice president of marketing. “And the door handles are bronze with a rubbed oil finish.”

The total effect is at once substantial and low-key – country style that’s sophisticated but with a sense of welcome that is so essential for a front entrance.

An entry hall is an equally suitable space for the beguiling charms of hardwood. Behind the custom poplar front door of a new residence in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania – a collaboration between Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd., and E.B. Mahoney Builders, Inc. – the hall is a fine example of traditional, millwork-intensive style. Featuring a beautifully proportioned staircase, painted poplar paneling and wide-plank flooring, it was inspired by the work of architect, R. Brognard Okie, who designed many fine Colonial Revival houses in Philadelphia area between 1900 and 1945. The hall’s sense of Old World graciousness is further enhanced by the use of locally sourced red oak for the floors and stair treads.

“The 24-inches to 32-inches wide planks come from a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, mill run by two brothers in their seventies,” says builder Edfront door Mahoney. “The workshop was surrounded by huge old-growth oak trees from which the planks were cut – they had to be ordered months in advance. The boards are plain – not tongue and groove – and stained with a satin finish. We left them in the house for a month to stabilize before installing them.”

Wood can be used to create a sense of intimacy and ease and is demonstrated in the library of a very large retreat in Lake Keowee, South Carolina. Not only is the fireplace surrounded by quarter-sawn oak mantle and trim, the whole room is paneled in the same hardwood, which is also used for the coffered ceiling and floors. The library’s intimate scale and traditional detailing were inspired by a ship captain’s quarters – a subtle reference to both the home’s lakeside location and the style in which the house is built.

Designed by Atlanta-based architect Stephen Fuller and constructed by Gabriel Builders, Inc., the imposing house is a playful take on the grand Shingle Style made famous by New England’s “summer cottages.” But Fuller made sure to include a number of smaller, cozier rooms where the family would feel snug and comfortable, and he often used wood to achieve this. Such is the case in the library, where the wonderful familiarity of the oak makes the room a tranquil, reassuring haven.

5 Simple Steps for Protecting Your Home During the Holidays

Home Protection(BPT) – When you think of the holidays, celebrations, presents and friends likely come to mind – not crime. Unfortunately, burglaries increase at this time of year, and your home could be a target. With a few simple safety precautions, you can protect your property, your family and your valuables now and well into the new year.

“Taking steps to protect your home during the holidays isn’t radically different from what most people should be doing the rest of the year,” says Thomas Leman, a retired 27-year veteran of the police force and criminal justice professor at Argosy University Online. “The problem is that most people get lured into a false sense of security and tend to let their guard down, thinking that crime won’t happen to them.”

Take precautions today to protect your home and deter criminals. Consider these five simple steps:

Step 1: Decorate with care
When it comes to holiday decorations, modesty is definitely the best policy, says Leman. “While you may love the look of a Christmas tree in your front window, expensive decorations on display can be a signal that there are valuables inside your home worth a criminal’s time. Gifts under the tree are the most blatant of these displays and are a welcome invitation for thieves.” Leaving gifts tucked away until the last possible minute is a quick and easy safety precaution. If you must display presents, make sure they are out of sight from any windows or doorways.

Step 2: Lock it up
Whether you are home, running errands or away on vacation, take care to close and lock all doors and windows. Remember to set alarms, too. “Given that most people have extra valuables and gifts in their homes during this time, it’s a good idea to practice home safety whether you’re there or not,” says Leman. Leman adds that a simple dowel placed in a sliding glass door or window can be an inexpensive way to secure vulnerable entrance points. “Alarms or closed circuit video surveillance systems are a great and inexpensive way to protect your home,” he adds.

Step 3: Light the night
A well-lit and well-groomed home provides an important measure of safety. “The better the lighting in your home and yard, the fewer places there are for criminals to lurk,” says Leman. USAA, a leading provider of banking, insurance and investment services to the military community, recommends the 3 foot/6 foot rule: trim branches to 6 feet off the ground and shrubs down to 3 feet to minimize hiding places for burglars.

Step 4: Dispose smartly
It’s best not to alert strangers to the new 70-inch flat screen in your home by leaving the box on the curb for refuse pickup. “When it comes to big-ticket items and valuables, boxes on the curb can be an advertisement for the new valuables in your home,” cautions Leman. “Take the time to break down boxes and recycle them or put them on the curb over time and inconspicuously,” he says.

Step 5: Be a tricky traveler
Be proactive about home safety if you have holiday travel plans. Never let mail or newspapers pile up at your home, as it is an instant indicator you are not there. Have a neighbor collect mail and newspapers or have your service stopped by calling the post office and newspaper provider. “Set your lights and television on timers,” suggests Leman, who also advises homeowners to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance that someone is coming and going.
For more information about Argosy University, visit argosy.edu. For more information about The Art Institutes, visit artinstitutes.edu.

The Art Institutes is a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. Administrative office: 210 Sixth Avenue, 33rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 ©2014 The Art Institutes International LLC. Our email address is csprogramadmin@edmc.edu.

Argosy University (www.argosy.edu), with 28 campus locations in 13 states and online, is a private, accredited academic institution dedicated to providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. ©2014 Argosy University. Our email address is csprogramadmin@edmc.edu.

6 Design Trends to Heighten Your Home’s Style in 2015

21007363(BPT) – As the new year kicks off, it’s the premier time to refresh and refocus on certain aspects of your life… and the home is no exception. Say goodbye to lackluster interiors as renowned interior designer and DIY television personality, Taniya Nayak, has forecasted the top trends for 2015 that will be sure to enhance and revive any home.

Deep, Rich Hues

Be bold with shadowy and opulent tones; there are many ways to infuse a rich color scheme into your space. “Don’t be intimidated by dark hues,” says Nayak. “Incorporate shades from the same color family throughout a room with a coordinating accent wall, rug and decorative pieces – such as pillows and blankets. This creates a bold, yet harmonizing visual.”

“The concept of a ‘pop’ of color is blown up in 2015,” adds Nayak. “We’re seeing deep, rich hues adorning walls, lavishly upholstered furniture pieces, window treatments and area rugs. This year, we like to say ‘go bold or go home.'”

When painting with deep colors, imperfections are more visible than with lighter shades. To ensure your painting project is flawless, use FrogTape brand painter’s tape to achieve sharp paint lines. The tape is treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, which prevents paint bleed, leaving you with an impressive, crisp edge.

Gallery Walls

Create a room that’s uniquely yours by making a gallery wall with items of your choice. Display an array of mirrors, framed family photos, sketches or even postcards – the key is to be creative and be yourself!

“2015 is all about you,” Nayak explains. “Hanging a variety of frames or objects in a well thought-out cluster on the wall provides the perfect place to showcase pieces that are important21007397 and meaningful. When people walk into your home, they’ll know exactly what you love.”

Bold Patterns in Neutral Colors

Although neutrals provide a calm palette, it’s possible to infuse bold statements into these rooms, as well, with the use of patterns. Revitalize your room with a geometric rug in an earth tone, and also add window treatments with a daring floral design in a complementary, yet understated, color. When mixing prints, pair structured, linear patterns with organic ones for a look that’s polished, and not too “matchy.”

“This is a beautiful way to add drama and what appears to be ‘texture’ to a space,” adds Nayak.

60’s Mod

The retro panache of mid-century modern decor will perk up rooms with its soft, sculptural lines, woven upholstery and bright accessories in geometric shapes. Search for vintage furniture pieces like rounded chairs and button-cushion couches with short, tapered legs to add a sense of authenticity.

“We are going retro mod – way back to the 60s where design was about curvy forms, vibrant colors and eccentric patterns,” Nayak says. “Be prepared to leave your design fears at the door and go full throttle with the bright and loud elements found in the mod movement. ”

Organic Elements

This year, mount antlers above your mantel; or create centerpieces with shells, metallic leaves or branches for a rustic vibe. With these earthy components juxtaposed against woodsy furniture and ivory tones, you’ll create an impressive, outdoorsy aesthetic.

“It’s easy to bring nature and organic structures into your home,” Nayak assures. “Leave linear styles out of the equation. Instead, think of free flowing shapes, colors found in nature and the peaceful serenity associated with the outdoors. The goal is to evoke the same emotional responses throughout your home.”

Copper

“Each year we see a particular metal rise to the top of every designer’s list; and this year, it’s all about copper,” Nayak says.

Copper is a captivating metallic that adds a modern edge to even the simplest scheme. Small pieces make a big statement, so subtly pepper in copper pieces to your decor, like light fixtures, planters or table settings. Display copper cookware in your kitchen – it’s a great way to add a touch of glamour without being gaudy.

2015 is full of impressive design trends. Use Nayak’s expertise, and this year, your home will serve as a canvas for self-expression, creativity and style.

Make a Grand Entrance: Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Entryway

door(BPT) – Most people enter their home through the garage or backdoor, forgetting how the front entrance looks to neighbors and guests. Your front door is often the first thing others notice about your home. That’s why it’s key for making a positive first impression.

How to create an inviting entrance:

Transform your home’s curb appeal with a new front door. With so many new entry door systems to choose from, ranging from single doors, to double-door options, to those accented with decorative glass, or transoms and sidelights, it’s easy to find one that fits your budget and your style. Pella offers stylish wood, fiberglass or steel options. Choose from ENERGY STAR-qualified design options to create a distinctive look, whether you’re building a new home, remodeling, or simply replacing an old door.

Pick a standout color for your front door

Sticking with your door? A fresh coat of paint will do wonders. Try a bold color to brighten a neutral color scheme. Pick a color that coordinates with your home’s exterior, but dare to be bold with color contrast to add eye appeal.

Update your hardware

Why stop with a fresh coat of paint? Refresh old doors with new hardware. Choose handles and door knockers that complement your home’s exterior design. Pella offers hardware in a variety of finishes, to instantly upgrade exterior doors.

Replace broken or damaged items

Replace broken light fixtures, burned out bulbs and worn-out weather stripping on exterior doors. Pitch that faded wreath, worn out mat and dead plants, and instead, add a bright new welcome mat and eye-catching seasonal decorations.

Clean up, accent with contrast

Use a little elbow grease and ammonia-free, vinegar-based glass cleaner to wash the windows. Wipe down window and door frames and sweep sills with a dry paint brush or vacuum to remove dirt. See pella.com/news for tips on cleaning windows and doors.

Fill flower boxes or containers with boldly-colored plants to accent your front door. If you’ve painted your door red, plant red and white or red and purple flowers to create a designer look. Or if you’re keen on green doors, try purple or orange flowers for contrast.

Illuminate your walkway

Make it easy for others to see the way to your front door at night. Transform and illuminate walkways with easy-to-install solar lights. Stake them in the ground positioned so solar cells get enough southern exposure for sunlight to recharge nightlights during the day.

Trim bushes, create great container gardens

Landscaping should accent your home, not dominate it. Keep bushes below the bottom sill of your windows to improve your view. Trim or replace overgrown shrubs and trees. Keep plant material trimmed several feet away from your home to minimize damage from wind or insects, and help eliminate a place for prowlers to lurk. Keep your porch and steps clear of clutter and create container gardens to accent your entry. Fill decorative containers with plants that accent your home’s color scheme, front door and landscape design.

Visit Pella Windows and Doors on Pinterest and Houzz for more design inspiration and Pella.com/news to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

Keep Your Family Secure at Home with These Tips

pool 1(BPT) – When it comes to protecting your family, your home is your fortress. It’s the place where your children fall asleep at night, tucked safely in their beds. It has the backyard where your pets roam freely without any danger of running into traffic. And it’s the place where you can relax, knowing your family is secure.

There are some actions you’ll need to take to secure your fortress, but with a few adjustments to your landscaping, you can help keep your family and pets protected at home.

* Shrubbery – Landscaping directly next to the house can provide a hiding place for potential intruders of the human, insect and animal varieties. To discourage intruders of any kind, keep bushes smaller, spaced out and neatly trimmed if they are directly next to the house. This is a project to do both in the beginning of the summer and again in the fall before the frost hits.

* Lighting – In addition to keeping your trees and bushes trimmed, install lights – both on the house and around the landscaping of the yard. These lights will help illuminate any shadows that could hide potential intruders. Also, remember to keep the lights you shine inside your house to yourself. Prevent people outside the home from seeing what you have inside by closing the drapes at night.

* Fencing – Fences are great for keeping your children and pets away from traffic and other possible danger. If you have a pool, it will also keep them safe around the water. Fences require premium-grade, adjustable hinges and latches to ensure your gate closes properly, stays latched, and doesn’t sag or drag over time. MagnaLatch magnetic pool latches are specifically designed for child and pool safety. They have a patented latching system that prevents mechanical jamming that could cause gate failure. Combined with TruClose self-closing hinges, your gate will close smoothly and securely every time. If you prefer a standard gate lock, LokkLatch latches are designed with stainless steel components that won’t rust or stain.gate

These gate hardware options from D&D feature a lifetime limited warranty, are easy to install and are available through fencing contractors and numerous retail outlets, including Lowe’s, Home Depot and Amazon. Visit www.ddtechglobal.com for a full range of gate hardware products and to find a retailer near you.

* Security systems – As a final touch to keep an eye on your house at all times, install a security system. You can find models that range from contacting a security company when the alarm is triggered to having video cameras that allow online monitoring from a smartphone.

With these home and yard safety tips, your fortress will be as secure as you can make it. So enjoy your home and relax knowing you’ve kept your family safe.

Prevent Frozen Water Pipes From Flooding Your Home This Winter

overflow(BPT) – If you think water damage isn’t a real threat for millions of Americans, consider this: water damage caused $9.1 billion in annual homeowner property losses over a three-year period, according to a 2011 ACE Insurance Underwriters study. Despite that, many people don’t worry about protecting their home against water damage because they believe their home is safe so long as it isn’t located on a flood plain.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, flooding grabs the headlines, but the majority of water damage home insurance claims actually come from leaky or burst pipes.

The primary cause for concern is your water heater. Approximately 10 million water heaters were sold in 2009 according to The US Department of Energy. Appliance Magazine estimates that 69 percent of those will develop a slow water leak or a sudden water burst when they reach their life expectancy – anywhere from five to 25 years, depending on the model. An estimated 5 to 7 million water heaters fail ever year, and all failures carry with them the possibility of causing water damage. Experts estimate the average cost for repairs after a water heater fails can exceed $20,000 according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Another common household appliance that has the potential to create significant water damage when it fails is the washing machine. A washing machine’s potential for water spillage does not always come from the machine itself but from the hot and cold-water hoses connected to it. As the machine ages, so too does the risk that a rupture of one of the hoses will cause a major flooding event.

The average cost to repair water damage related to a washing-machine hose rupture is $5,308, according the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Finally, homeowners face threats from winter temperatures that can cause water lines to freeze and rupture, spilling water. In fact, frozen and broken water pipes rank No. 2 behind hurricanes in terms of both the number of homes damaged and the amount of claim costs. According to the Insurance Information Network of California, repair costs of around $50,000 due to flooding from frozen and broken water pipes are common.

So what you can do to minimize these potential risks and avoid these catastrophes?

Early detection of flooding or leakage can mean the difference between a simple do-it-yourself clean-up project and an insurance claim amounting to thousands of dollars. Uncontrolled flooding can cause catastrophic damage within minutes or hours; in just the time that you’re away at work an undetected flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of a dwelling.

Modern technology, like the ValveSentry Device, can interrupt the source of flooding or water when a rupture occurs. Inexpensive water sensors placed near the water heater, washing machine or other appliances – like a sink and toilet – alert the system when they sense water. The system then shuts off the water at its source, mitigating any damage.

The ValveSentry Device can be installed in minutes by simply bolting it in place, which makes it much simpler to use than other devices that require the services of a licensed plumber or electrician. To learn more about the ValveSentry Device, visit Batticdoor.com.

Deck support: It’s what’s beneath the surface that counts

deckThe benefits of steel vs. wood substructures

(BPT) – The substructure of your deck is the heart of its durability and the foundation for its aesthetics. Until recently, wood was the go-to material for builders and contractors, but many professionals are now switching to steel for its superior structural integrity and design flexibility. Steel won’t rot, crack or warp, and its inherent strength allows for longer spans between beams and posts making it possible for architects and homeowners to integrate curves and other design elements into their decks, while achieving more usable space underneath.

“The substructure of a deck is something that homeowners rarely consider but one that can make all the difference in the life and performance of a deck,” says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance wood-alternative decking and railing.” As a manufacturer of deck boards designed to last for at least 25 years, we recommend using steel framing to ensure that the substructure lasts as long as the deck surface. Dimensionally, stable steel is the only material that can deliver on the refined look and feel of what you’d expect from a high-performance deck board.”

Offering superior durability and aesthetics, steel outperforms wood on a variety of levels:

Performance – Traditional wood framing can split, warp and shift over time, leading to an uneven surface in the deck boards above. Steel deck frames are precision engineered to ensure a refined, flat surface for the life of the deck. They also are significantly more resilient to weather, moisture, time and pest deterioration.

Design flexibility – Have you ever tried to bend wood? Steel framing components have the ability to be bent and shaped allowing for curves and angled corners to create more intricate and dramatic deck designs. Additionally, they are more lightweight than wood and can span up to six feet (vs. four feet for wood), resulting in the need for fewer posts and greater flexibility in post placement. This creates less obstructed views and more open space below the deck for storage or even additional outdoor living area.

Safety – A substructure is the platform that will support your deck – not to mention your friends, family and loved ones – for decades of outdoor living activities. In addition to offering superior strength and longevity, steel is non-combustible, termite-proof and free of pressure-treating chemicals. For maximum safety, Trex offers the only code-listed deck substructure rated for exterior use in its Elevations Steel Deck Framing System.

Eco-friendly – In addition to lasting longer than wood, steel deck frames are made from recycled materials, can be recycled themselves and, unlike pressure-treated lumber, are chemical free.

“With its ability to prolong the life of a deck and improve its overall appearance, steel deck framing delivers performance and design benefits that wood simply can’t,” says Zambanini. “It’s a smart investment for any homeowner looking to maximize the life of their deck and keep it looking great for years to come.”

For more information about Trex Elevations Steel Deck Framing System, visit trex.com.

IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Your deck is the perfect place for entertaining, dining or just relaxing with friends and family.

Healthier, Safer Bathroom

bathroomMust-have technology is making bathrooms healthier, safer, more enjoyable

(BPT) – Think home technology begins with your wireless, programmable thermostat and ends with the high-definition, 3-D, web-enabled flat-screen TV with surround sound? Think again – whole home technology means using leading-edge devices to improve life in every room of the house, including the bathroom.

From toilets that flush without being touched to waterproof TVs for the shower, the latest bathroom technology can make the room safer, cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable for everyone. Here is a handful of high-tech home improvements for one of the most-used rooms in any house:

Safer, healthier toilets

You don’t have to be a scientist to know the toilet is one of the most germ-filled locations in any house – even if you’re meticulous about keeping it clean. Touching spreads those germs from surface to surface. Just as touch-free faucets have improved hygiene in the kitchen, a touchless flush toilet can help make the bathroom a healthier and more hygienic place.

“The toilet trip lever is an obvious area of hygienic concern,” says Brian Hedlund, marketing manager of Kohler toilets and bidets. “Touchless takes that concern out of the equation, using new technology to provide a touchless way to control the flush.”

Kohler’s touchless sensor creates a precise electromagnetic field that accurately and reliably detects when users hold their hands above the toilet to trigger the flush. The company’s Cimarron toilet comes with touchless technology already installed, and virtually any single-flush toilet with a canister or flapper-type flush can be retrofitted to work with the Kohler Touchless Flush Kit. The sensor runs on four AA alkaline batteries, which power the sensor for six to 12 months, depending on the volume of use.

Also from Kohler, the Nightlight Toilet Seat illuminates the seat with two gentle, blue LED lights, one to help you see the toilet area and the other to light the bowl once the lid is opened.bathroom2 The seat provides enough light to enhance nighttime safety and eliminates the need to turn on brighter, overhead lights that could disrupt your ability to go back to sleep. Available on Kohler’s Cachet Q3 and Reveal Q3 toilet seats, the nightlight operates on a timer and powered by replaceable batteries.

The extras

Americans do much more in bathrooms than simply “take care of business.” The bath is also a hub for personal health, where we weigh ourselves and care for our mental health with relaxation. Extras like towel warmers, TVs and high-tech scales add a touch of luxury to the bathroom.

Towel warmers have been around for centuries; wealthy 19th century and early 20th century homes were often outfitted with warmers that used a home’s steam heat system. Today, towel warmers feature several improvements such as high-tech warming bars, detailed temperature controls with multiple settings, timers and energy-efficient features.

Most people weigh themselves in the bathroom, and technology has also touched the traditional bathroom scale. It’s easy to find visually appealing scales that serve multiple functions besides simply displaying your weight. From scales that also measure body mass index (BMI) to wireless-enabled models that allow you to track your weight loss, BMI and other health indicators with a smartphone app, bathroom scales are more user-friendly than ever.

Finally, technology has made it possible to shave, shower or relax in the tub while never missing your favorite TV show. You can opt for a waterproof television that you can watch while showering, or choose a medicine cabinet that features an LCD TV screen in a mirrored door.