Stained Glass Windows for the Home: Three Easy Decorating Uses for Colored Glass

Since its earliest uses in first century AD Roman villas, colored glass has created some of the most intricate and attractive windows throughout history.

Colored or stained glass is again enjoying popularity in homes, but with more contemporary flare in its uses. As true today as thousands of years ago, stained glass offers privacy without the elimination of natural light, making it a perfect choice in creating a highly stylized look in the home.

Stained glass infuses a space with both color and texture, and can create a stunning art dynamic within the spaces of your home as well as installed as one of your home’s windows as a unique architectural accent.

For a relatively inexpensive home improvement project, here are three ideas for creating big impact in a small space: 

  1. Transom window: Replace a plain transom window or one with divided panes with one of stained glass to bring an artful and colorful accent to your entryway.

2. Skylight panel: Add drama to a skylight by replacing old or dulling glass with a stained glass panel. For a bigger impact (and a bit more money and work) you can install decorative molding around the skylight opening and bring in wiring through the ceiling near the window shaft. Lay rope lighting in the molding to hide it; the roping will provide “up lighting” at night to show off the stained glass.

3. Room divider: Hang a panel of stained glass from eye hooks bolted into studs in the ceiling to create a decorative room divider; a horizontal window panel works great in small spaces where you need privacy, like a home office or to create separate spaces in adjoining rooms.

The addition of stained glass can enhance any space, but a great kaleidoscope of color is brought to the bathroom when stained glass is used to replace a standard window or existing shower doors. You’ll bring greater dimension to your bath if the room gets natural light from a window or skylight. Find a color or pattern that is prevalent in your decorating and explore stained glass styles that play off those features.

Stained glass can be a good choice for small windows facing neighboring yards or close-by homes, when curtains aren’t an option or space is limited.

For a quick and easy decor accent, mount a small stained glass panel in an easel that will hold its weight and light it from behind with a small light or candle.

Notable dealers of vintage stained glass can be found online. Here are a few: www.auroamills.com, the Architectural Salvage Warehouse at www.greatsalvage.com, www.amighini.net, and Historic York, Inc. & Architectural Warehouse at www.historicyork.org

wood deck

Thinking About Building an Outdoor Deck?

Don’t Start Decking Without Reading This Decking Materials Guide

Building a deck is more complex than simply pouring a bit of concrete and nailing a few boards together. The options available for deck construction are constantly on the rise. Wood or plastic? If wood, what kind? What shape will the deck be? Should pressure treated wood be used? This article will help answer those questions and more.

deck construction

Build a Wood Deck or Plastic Deck?

The resistance to decay exhibited by plastic and metal decks has always been weighed against the aesthetic superiority of wood. This balance has traditionally tipped in wood’s favor, but new advancements in polymer design are quickly leveling the scale. Wood-plastic composites combine the best of both worlds and are constructed of recycled plastics and wood waste products (sawdust, bamboo, etc.). Common trade names for these composites are:

  • TimberTech®
  • Trex®
  • Ultradeck®
  • Weatherbest®
  • Practiwood®

These plastic polymers have several advantages over wood. They include:

  • Ability to be shaped using conventional woodworking tools
  • Resistance to rot and decay
  • Ease of molding to any desired spatial conditions
  • Ease of bending to form strong curves
  • No need for painting, they’re manufacture in a variety of colors

The disadvantages of wood metal composites include the tendency to deform in hot weather and, due to the porosity of the material, their susceptibility to staining by environmental elements.

Types of Wood Commonly Used in Decking

The most commonly used decking woods are pressure treated pines. However, even after chemical treatment, pine is not as durable as other hardwoods. If the deck being built is of any considerable size, it is recommended that pine be used since some hardwoods can cost more than $50 per square foot. These more expensive woods include:

  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Teak

These woods are harder to shape than softwoods because of their density. Teak is incredibly expensive because it only grows in tropical climates and must be imported. That extra cost, though, comes with an increased durability and beauty rarely found in pressure treated pines. A summary of the costs of several dozen hardwoods can be found at Segmented Turning.

Is a Metal Deck an Option?

A metal deck constructed of aluminum will last far longer than either a plastic or wooden deck, but that durability comes at a steep price. When compared to wood, metal is cold and uninviting and can dampen the mood of any social or business gathering.

It is also incredibly reflective of sunlight and should be avoided if the deck is being built in a congested neighborhood, lest the neighbors be temporarily blinded after catching a glimpse of the afternoon sunlight glaring off the deck and crash through their garage door. However, if the deck is being built for purely utilitarian purposes (and none of those come to mind) metal may be the best choice.

Do not choose a decking material without considering the fact that it will form a large and conspicuous part of a property for a decade or more. It is a large investment that deserves dutiful research into the available materials and options.

How to Inspect your Gutters

The function of the roofing system is to drain rainwater through gutters put in place to make sure that the water from rooftops does not damage the foundation and the basement. Gutters and downspouts are fixed along the edges to serve this purpose. When the gutter system is clogged or damaged, water will not drain away and can lead to paddling leaks and structural damage. Gutters are to be cleaned and inspected at least twice a year.

 

Besides, you should also trim or cut down nearby trees for they can potentially clog the gutters. You have to be extra careful when using a ladder while trimming the trees. Make sure that the ladder is firmly positioned on an even ground to avoid falling off the ladder.

Begin the inspection by checking for loose gutters and downspouts. Ensure that all the gutter joints are firmly fixed. You may also need to check the spikes where you have attached your gutters to make sure that they are strong. Besides, you can check the downspouts for materials that can clog them and eliminate the dirt if any.

 

Checking for small animals that might reside on your gutters is also a great idea. Some creatures such as squirrels and termites might destroy your gutters. If you find such animals, you may need to get rid of them together with any leaves, twigs and debris in the gutters.

 

You can start by scooping leaves and debris from the gutters. Put the removed materials in a bucket securely placed to the ladder or drop them onto the ground. Flush smaller debris using a hose pipe since the fine material will be moved by pressured water.

Look for cracks beneath the gutters that could lead to leakages. If the water is not moving freely unclog the downspout and it is connected to the underground pipe, remove it from the pipe. Using a strong pressured hose to loosen the debris and it it fails to remove the debris you can use a plumber’s snake to break up the clog.

Look for standing watering the gutter. If the water is moving very slowly the problem might be that the slopes inadequate. Hangers require relocation up or down to create a slight slope towards the downspout.

Starting Your Home Renovation

Learn How to Develop Ideas, Work with Contractors and Save Money.

New homeowners may want to paint the walls, upgrade the floors, or add more rooms to match their style. But they may not know how to get started. As a new homeowner, 25-year-old Anthony Ward explained during an in-person interview how he developed ideas, worked with contractors and saved money to create a home that fits his needs.

Developing Ideas

After purchasing his California home, Ward realized he needed to make several changes:

  • Put up a wall in a bedroom to create two smaller rooms
  • Gut and expand the kitchen
  • Replace the flooring with tile, carpet, and hardwood floors
  • Add new dry wall and insulation
  • Upgrade plumbing to copper
  • Upgrade electric

Additionally, he said he found some decorating ideas from various sources.

“I got ideas from looking at model homes, watching “House Hunters” on HGTV, and reading magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens,” Ward said.

home renovation contractor

Searching for a Contractor

He said he hired three contractors to complete the job¬–a general contractor who renovated the interiors such as the kitchen, dry wall, and electric; a plumber; and a separate contractor who laid the flooring.

Finding a contractor was not a difficult task. “I looked through the PennySaver and received references from family members,” Ward said. He chose contractors based on the following criteria:

  • Experience
  • License
  • Reasonable time work can be completed
  • Clean up and haul-away option
  • Price

Once the contractors were chosen, he said he sat down with them and drafted a written contract which contained the following information:

  • Price
  • Time frame work should be completed
  • Description of the work
  • Deposit information
  • Payment information and dates

Paying Contractors

Ward noted that some homeowners may pay contractors half of the payment at the start and pay the other half when the work is completed, but he warned if contractors leave suddenly without finishing the work, they would have half of the homeowner’s money.

“I pay everybody in three payments–a starting payment, a middle payment, and then a completion payment,” Ward said.

To Buy or Not to Buy Materials

home renovation materials

He said the contracts state whether the materials are included. In his case, the general contractor, plumber, and electrician included the materials in their prices, whereas the contractor laying the tile did not.

For Ward, buying the materials saved him money.

“It was cheaper to buy the materials myself and to pay for the labor,” he said. That way, he said he could keep any unused materials.

However, when contractors include materials in the contract, the homeowner may lose money. Ward explained that if $300, for instance, is budgeted to complete the work and the contractor only spends $260, the homeowner is out $40. But he added that many contractors go over the spending limit, which would be the contractor’s responsibility.

Last-Minute Tips

  • “Don’t hire family members”: He said it would be hard to fire family members if the work is not done properly. He advised to hire someone you do not know.
  • “See the contractor’s work beforehand”: Ward suggested checking out his or her projects and asking for references to see if previous customers were satisfied with his or her work.
  • “Get a written contract”: Even if the contractor does not have a license, he strongly advised to get it in writing to avoid any legal issues.

Every homeowner’s renovating experience will be different. However, if they determine the necessary fixes, find the right contractor, and fully understand the terms of the renovation, homeowners will feel more confident and be a step closer to living in their dream home.

Building a Green Home with Sustainable Materials

Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency is Environment-Friendly

There are three situations where a homeowner can move in the lower carbon footprint direction. The first is when a new home is in the design phase and the second is when a remodeling project is in the works.

The third situation is when a more economical “eco-creep” strategy is being implemented. Eco-creep is when the homeowner makes smaller incremental changes, such as changing incandescent bulbs out to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs).

The Benefits of Sustainable Building

It’s all good when environment-friendly construction policy is followed. Here are a few key benefits:

  • Costs are lowered when space configurations are changed during the life of the building.
  • Energy conservation from day one. Less energy consumed is not only earth-friendly, it’s kinder to the the pocketbook by lowering electricity and natural gas bills.
  • The health of the home’s occupants is improved. The use of low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and green flooring makes a big impact. The average carpeting will trap things that trigger allergies.
  • Flexibility in design is enhanced.
  • Home maintenance costs may be lowered in the long run. For example, installing reclaimed hardwood floors rather than installing carpet eliminates frequent floor covering shampooing.

Green Building Products

Criteria for Residential Green Building Products

There are four basic categories of consideration when choosing sustainable construction materials. These are indoor air quality, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, and water conservation. Is it possible to satisfy every point 100%? Probably not. The important thing is to make the best compromise possible when the need arises.

Indoor Air Quality

  • Air handling equipment should be efficient at filtering indoor air pollutants in an energy-efficient manner.
  • Material should be moisture resistant. Moisture is mold and mildew’s best friend.
  • Non-toxic components are a big issue. There is a reason for government regulation. And why provide work for future litigators?
  • Choose low or no-VOC paint, flooring, and other applicable materials.

Energy Efficiency

  • Appliances and building practices that are energy efficient is a core concept.
  • Energy Star refrigerators, central air conditioners, and other appliances will minimize the home’s carbon footprint right from the start.
  • The proper type and recommended amount of insulation should be installed for the home’s geographical location. Give soy spray foam insulation a try. It’s a bit more expensive than conventional, but it makes an incredibly tight envelope, and is as sustainable as it gets.

Resource Efficiency

  • Use salvaged and re-purposed building material when possible. Previously used hardwood flooring, doors, and staircase material have style. It may save money because the price of newly-harvested hardwood is so high, and re-purposing will keep the landfill a bit less crowded.
  • Use locally available material. Transportation is expensive, wastes fuel, and creates greenhouse gases.
  • Use durable goods. The longer-lasting it is, the longer the time period before replacement.
  • Use renewable and plentiful material. Soy spray foam insulation is a good example. It’s easy and inexpensive to farm.

Water Conservation

There are two key points to consider here. The first is implementing systems that conserve water to begin with. Low-flow shower heads are a good example. Low-flow toilets are a good idea and mandated in the USA. The current standard in the USA is 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF).

The second point is to conserve water by using existing water wisely. Reclaim rain water by routing the flow from the rain gutter downspout to the landscaping.