The lowdown on hardwood floors

This weekend The Flooring Warehouse in Hamilton will be running clinics on how to install your own hardwood flooring.

As overwhelming as that kind of project sounds, Shane Taplay, a flooring consultant at the store, says today’s products have simplified the work involved. There’s no sanding, staining or sealing required.

According to Taplay, pre-finished wood flooring, which comes in a rainbow of colors, is made with a baked-on coating that is more durable than the urethane coatings available for unfinished hardwood.

At The Hardwood Flooring Stores in Burlington, sales representative Zane Kushnirak tells his clients that the hardest thing about laying their own floor is getting started.

He points out that consumer demand for hardwood floors is being influenced by the availability of product options, unheard of five years ago, and the fact that hardwood flooring isn’t as expensive as it once was.

“Most people are spending between $3.50 and $5 a square foot,” he says. “If they’re doing the installation themselves, we tell them that for every 200 square feet of flooring they should add on an additional $40 for materials they’ll require to lay the floor.”

When it comes to choosing pre-finished hardwood there are three categories to choose from — solid 3/4-inch, laminate or parquet.

According to Taplay, the first is the most difficult to lay because it has to be nailed down, get more information.

Concrete floors

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, was designed to go over concrete sub-floors and isn’t nailed down. Taplay explains that a foam underlay is glued or tacked down. Carpenter’s glue is applied along the outside groove of each plank of wood and the boards are then tapped together.

“They interlock much like Lego to create a floor. All you need for installation is a hammer and saw,” he says.

Taplay notes that consumers are often under the impression that laminate hardwood isn’t real wood and that it can’t be sanded and refinished.

In fact, just the opposite is true.

“If you can get four sands out of solid planking, you can get three sands out of laminate,” he says.

He also points out that laminate hardwood is ideal for basement applications because it isn’t affected by dampness. It can also be laid over vinyl flooring, ceramic tiles and hardwood.

As for parquet flooring, Kushnirak says it is the easiest to install. All that’s required is the proper adhesive and a saw.

At approximately $2 a square foot, he says it is also the best value for your money. The one drawback — parquet isn’t popular in Ontario.

Three grades

According to both men, pre-finished plank hardwood comes in three grades: select, mid-grade and rustic. Those divisions are based on such characteristics as grain, number of knots and mineral streaks and color continuity.

Kushnirak adds that parquet flooring comes in two grades: select and rustic.

The following are some tips about laying your own hardwood floors, courtesy of Taplay and Kushnirak:

There are a large number of hardwood-flooring manufacturers, 50 per cent of them Canadian. Keep in mind that sometimes you pay extra for the name not the quality of the product. Shop around and compare apples for apples.

Buy the proper product for the proper application. For example, waxed wood floors aren’t suitable for kitchens where they will be subject to water damage.

Consider which grade of hardwood will best suit your budget and your taste. Try to look at the products separately rather than putting select against mid-grade or rustic.

Fashion colors may be attractive, but they are also trendy. Natural wood grain colors never go out of style.

If you prefer waxed floors, some companies do produce pre-stained hardwood with a wax finish.

When you buy your wood flooring let it acclimatize before you lay it. Leave it in the room where it is to be installed for at least three days.

If you are going to rent equipment, such as a nailer, reserve ahead of time.

When you measure your room to find out how much flooring you’ll need, allow for an extra 5-7 per cent for cutting waste. Since wood flooring is sold by the box, the experts recommend buying an extra box just in case you need it. If you don’t, you can always return it.

Save left-over wood for future repair jobs.

Flooring stores that cater to do-it-yourselfers also lend tapes, and in some cases have instruction brochures.Staff will also provide you with all the assistance you need.

Technology gives homeowners an extra eye to help keep their children and property safe

Keeping an eye on your children, your property and your valuables around the home can be a lot easier today if you have another set of eyes.

The eyes of security cameras.

Mention the words “security camera” and most people think of banks, stores and office buildings. And until the last few years, only estate-size homes tended to be outfitted with cameras.

But a number of factors societal, financial and technological have changed that.

Home security cameras don’t just check on intruders anymore. They’re used as much to keep an eye on children. That’s where the “secure” in security comes in. Busy parents who have to do something around the house while the kids are in another room can feel secure if they can check in through a camera. New parents could use a security camera to keep an eye on a sleeping baby.

Cameras often are used at the front door or a front gate.

Residential security cameras have become increasingly popular in two states California and Florida because of an increasing number of gate entries.
Price is one of the most important factors in the growing popularity of security cameras. A basic system, with one camera near the front door and a monitor, costs from $900 to $1,000. A more complex system can run from $2,000 to $5,000 and up.

Those prices might seem high, but in a survey by Builder magazine  the official publication of the National Association of Home Builders trade group  more than half the shoppers queried said they would pay $1,500 or more for a home-security system.

Technological improvements in residential security cameras also have made them more popular.

They’ve gotten smaller. They don’t have to be the big, old clunky things you used to see. They can be very subtle, blending in with a home.

Picture clarity has certainly been improved, and what makes that much better sometimes is the ability of some cameras to move. It’s now possible with some systems to sit in front of a monitor and operate a control which moves the camera. Instead of having someone or something on the edge of the picture  perhaps out of focus  you can move the camera to have what you want to see in the middle of the picture.

The video systems are most easily installed when a home is being built. Problems can arise if the camera and monitor wiring is too close to a home’s electrical wiring. In existing homes, that problem is compounded by existing walls.

In homes under construction, it’s a lot easier to cope with problems such as these. But even the installer has to know what he’s doing.

About satellite TV and cable television

One TV per system: A dish services only one TV. To get the service on other TVs requires a converter that can cost as much as another dish. Some companies that produce DSS gear are designing new dishes and second tuners for multiple-room applications; these are likely to run about $225 when they go on the market.

Satellite dishes provide only one signal, so you can’t feed a signal to your VCR or another TV without buying a second system. Moreover, the common practice of recording a TV program with a VCR timer (called time-shift recording) is not possible if satellite TV is your source, unless you buy new-model VCRs (Toshiba and RCA, for example) that are designed to do it.

The situation with cable is not entirely dissimilar.

Most cable TV signals can accommodate splitting the signal two ways to serve a couple of TVs or a TV and a VCR. Split it more than that and picture quality drops.

So, if you have four TVs and want a good picture, you’ll need to pay for a second cable line. Worse, if you need a third cable line to feed six components, you have to pay the cable company $40 or so for an amplifier to strengthen the signal that comes to you.

No local TV: Digital satellite systems do not receive local TV stations. So consumers who want to join the digital-satellite revolution and still check out the local news and weather can either go back to rabbit-ear reception, use an outdoor TV antenna or pay a local cable company about $13 a month for bare-bones service that includes the local channels. Surveys show that about 30 percent of dish owners retain basic cable TV service anyway.

Those problems aside, digital satellite’s advantage over cable is twofold:

Superior picture and sound quality: Cable’s mediocre analog signal can’t compete with the stunning resolution of a digital signal source. Cable companies will continue to lose customers who are moving to big-screen TVs and adopting the home-theater concept until all cable signals are converted to digital, which may take three years.

Programming: Satellite vendors owning space on high-powered satellites can offer consumers more channels and better values than cable companies can provide. DISH Network Coupons will save your money significantly.

Casters are insignificant only when they work

Maintaining margins on casters is a process that is directly related to how educated the customer is, how aware he is of where his dollar is going. Someone making a carpet dolly is going to look upon a caster as a commodity item. For more sophisticated products, like x-ray machines or other medical equipment, chances are that buyers might be more receptive to quality, he continues.

Some of the better paid people in the factory work in maintenance, and these people most likely understand that true economy in an MRO environment is a true quality caster that is the right one for the job. It gets back to who you’re selling to. Some buyers shop in the basement, others are looking for a quality product. We have customers who put more caster than is necessary into their products and they know it; but they haven’t had a caster problem, and they don’t want one.

Overcoming objections, of course, requires that your salespeople fully understand what those objections truly entail. If a customer has done a thorough cost analysis of what he’s making or maintaining, and his informed conclusion is that a caster comprises an insignificant part of the total cost of the product or process involved, he’ll probably focus primarily on price and delivery issues.

Conversely, when a customer has historically maintained a low regard for a caster – or any other component – because, after all, it’s just a caster, then your salespeople have an opportunity to upgrade that customer’s awareness by developing a cost analysis that shows where the money goes. Whether it’s OEM or MRO, the need is there because, you can hardly go into a plant without seeing casters.

Beyond selling smartly, one way to enhance the probability of your making money on stainless steel casters is to buy smartly, as well. Partner with manufacturers who are willing to develop reasonable stocking requirements, for example. Some suppliers may be willing to maintain stock on their own shelves, and have it available to ship in one to three days. Others might drop ship at no charge to you. Given the competitive nature of the business, there are a number of innovative ways to work together for mutual profit.

Casters are pervasive – they get used just about everywhere. And it’s also equally true that they get abused just about everywhere that they get used. From shopping carts in grocery store parking lots to materials handling carts and dollies in mass merchant mega-stores and poultry slaughtering plants, casters are necessary but overlooked, especially when they do what they’re designed to do.

Caster failure can result in anything from mild irritation to production interruptions to safety hazards. The challenge for distributor salespeople is to ensure that buyers have all the information they need to make an intelligent choice. After all, casters are insignificant only when they work.

Web Hosting Services for Home Owner

Hosting your public Web servers on a service provider’s site makes sense for a lot of reasons. Access to your data will be faster, traffic will not affect or be affected by your own internal Internet usage, and it may be easier to implement a security policy that does not mix external and internal traffic.

Carrier best hosting can be much more economical than buying, building and caring for your own system. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to take a hands-off approach to your Web servers.

All of the ISPs we examined provide simple cheap web hosting services. The hardware and system software may vary – UUNET, for example, is exclusively using Intel Pentiums running BSD/OS and a modified Apache HTTP server.

Others use large SGI machines or Digital Alphas. One vendor uses Sun SPARCs running Microsoft Commerce server. For basic Web services, it doesn’t really matter which OS and HTTPD server you are using. But if you want additional services, such as Electronic Commerce, Real Audio and database access, it does matter.

Vendors use a variety of billing strategies, making broad cost comparisons difficult.

Charges may be based on host computer type, number of customers per blog host, the amount of raw disk storage used, number of page hits and number of megabytes transferred.

In the typical configuration, you’ll be sharing a physical server with multiple companies. Usually, you will have your own IP address and domain name (except PSINet, which still does not allow for customer domain names–a major drawback to its services). For a higher fee, you can restrict the number of sites co-located on your server, or have exclusive ownership. Providing your own server doesn’t significantly reduce the price, and in fact may actually increase it.

What type of services do you get? All of the providers we talked to have at least one T3 connection to the Internet in facilities that house the Web server farm. Hosts are kept in a clean data center environment and managed on a 24×7 basis. Many of the Web providers do nightly incremental backups of all hosts, executing total backups once a week. At least one provider was vague on this point. You cannot be lax about backups. Get a service level agreement that specifies daily backups and indicates the maximum amount of time your server would be down in the event of an outage.

All the vendors reviewed had a stated plan for server fallback, mostly using hot spare hosts. What, then, if the whole site goes out? It’s not inconceivable. Only BBN, IBM and HLC offered redundant hosting facilities. Most claimed this would more than double the customer’s cost. HLC, however, offers the service for a mere 25 percent extra.

Beyond cost, redundant hosting has other flaws – Domain Name System (DNS) updates. It may take many hours for local DNS caches to clear themselves and allow your fallback server to be resolved to a new IP address. In that time, the original server may be back up again.

What is the downside of offsite hosting? It’s, well, offsite. Once you get your Web pages online you will soon find out that you need to make the site more interactive with HTML forms, e-mail via forms and other CGI applications. Many of the vendors listed allow you to create your own CGI applications and place them on the server, but you can’t install any program that has access to ROOT – a good security measure. Some providers don’t allow CGI applications that they haven’t written or certified.

How to hire your plumber

If you can’t replace the toilet yourself – do-it-yourselfers swear it’s not that difficult – call plumbers minnesota. The Plumbers Association recommends several steps for choosing a plumber:

1. Ask friends and neighbors for a recommendation. You might join with several neighbors to have all your toilets retrofitted at once by the same plumber, so negotiate a special group rate.

2. Look in the telephone Yellow Pages under “Plumbing Contractors.” All licensed contractors are supposed to list their license numbers, but the directory does not verify this information. Call the Contractors’ State Licensing Board to verify if the licensee is still active and in good standing.

3. Ask if the contractor is a member of the local association. About 60 companies are members, and they handle about 75 percent of the residential plumbing work in the county.

4. Ask the plumber how a toilet replacement will be billed. Many contractors have switched from a time-and-materials basis to a flat, fixed charge.

5. Ask for a bid over the phone. Many plumbers will decline to estimate the cost until they see if there are any complications. They normally charge a trip fee to make a bid.

6. Ask if you can buy your own toilet and have the plumber install it.

7. Insist on a written contract before authorizing the work. And read it. Be present when the work is done or ask a knowledgeable friend to watch the plumber work.

8. The plumbers doing the work are not necessarily licensed contractors themselves. Members of Plumbers & Steamfitters are experienced plumbers but most of them are employed in new construction and commercial work.

9. If additional plumbing work is recommended, it is cheaper to have it done while the plumber is on site. You may want a second opinion.

10. If you have a complaint, call the plumber’s employer, then the local association, and finally, the state contractors board, which processes complaints. Be sure to retain all receipts and copies of correspondence.

Air conditioning and heating systems

Before making a final decision, the design of air conditioning and heating systems should be calculated accurately. Homeowners should insist upon a correct system sizing before signing a contract. This service is often offered at little or no cost to homeowners by gas and electric utilities, major heating equipment manufacturers, and conscientious heating and air conditioning contractors.

Many factors affect a home’s design heating or cooling load. A good heating technician will measure walls, ceilings, floor space, and windows for the accurate determination of room volumes. Also, a good estimate takes into account the R-value of the home’s insulation, windows, and building materials. An estimate of the building’s air leakage is necessary. A blower door test is the best measurement. The duct sizes and insulation, as well as the location of the registers and returns, should be appropriate for the system type and size.

There are several simple methods to incorporate central air-conditioning with hot water heat. Since the air ducts are used for cooling only, you can locate them for maximum efficiency. Mini-split ductless air conditioners are also efficient and provide cooling in typically hard-to-cool rooms.

In addition to efficient heating, hot water heating systems provide comfort. Room temperatures remain constant without the repeated initial gusts of cold air followed by hot air as with a forced air system. Without blowers and ducts, hot water systems are quiet and dust free.

The small baseboard radiators heat your house in two ways. First, heat is radiated directly from the radiators to objects and people in the rooms. This feels warm like standing in the sun in the winter.

Room air also naturally circulates up through the radiators and gently heats the air in the room. The combination of radiant and warm air heat provides comfort without the “dry feel,” typical of forced air heat. A boiler also provides a virtually limitless supply of hot water for morning showers.

One efficient hot water heating technique uses pipes in the floor. The entire floor gets warm and radiates heat upward. This makes you feel very comfortable (warm feet), even in a cool room. By keeping the air temperature lower, your total heating bills are significantly lower.

The most energy-efficient boiler uses gas and a pulse technology. When your system calls for heat, a spark plug starts the highly efficient combustion in the boiler heat exchanger. Each “pulse” ignites the next pulse of gas.

Oilfield equipment – Cyber sales

Surplus oilfield equipment represents a hidden asset. Inventory managers are using the Internet to buy and sell equipment.

Oilfield equipment is stored and stacked in as many parts of the world as there are oilfield sites, and there are as many dealers of new and used inventory. Cyberspace is offering an expedient means of disposal.

Oil and gas companies increasingly are looking to the Internet as the venue to buy or sell new and Used Oilfield Equipment, while various third parties are playing the role of a petroleum business-to-business version of EBay Inc. by acting as auction houses, brokers or transaction clearinghouses. Meanwhile, many oil service companies are in the process of developing their own World Wide Web commerce strategies.

Virtually everybody that we know is talking about the need to put together an e-commerce or e-business strategy. I think that folks are still scratching their heads and trying to figure out what that means.

So much of the attention has been focused on the buy side, which is everything from electronic data interchange (EDI) links to electronic catalogs. I can’t point to a single example yet where a company in the industry has a comprehensive e-business strategy.

In the true spirit of entrepreneurialism, various third-party web sites are emerging that link equipment buyers and sellers. Some sites serve various industries while others are oil and gas specific. All the sites provide centralized databases enabling customers to buy or sell equipment without leaving their desks.

You have to spend time getting your machine polished and together. The Internet seems to be like riding a wave. It’s a very volatile thing. You have your ups and downs, and you’re continually adapting your marketing strategies to respond to the customer.

Everybody, especially in the oil industry, is looking to be more efficient, and this is the perfect tool. Our primary goal is to get the end user, the distributor and the manufacturer in a better line

There are many perceptions that someone is going to see something on the Internet and immediately draw out the cash, It’s not that easy. To sell anything in any culture, you have to sell confidence first, before you sell your material.

That confidence-building criterion implies that a local presence is necessary to ensure the customer that the item is going to work.

When a manufacturer sells an item overseas, he has service facilities to enhance the end-users’ confidence-when he buys a `once-off item such as surplus on the Internet, he doesn’t know what he is getting into.

We’re talking about reallocating assets. That could be casing, it could be tubing, it could even be a refinery, production facility or multimillion-dollar block of equipment.

Most people prefer to just pick up the phone. We think it’s going to change to more online sales in the next three to five years, but right now personal contact is still the most popular method for potential buyers to make first contact with sellers.

Sellers can choose between auction or fixed price formats to sell their surplus goods.

Petroleum companies typically spend a lot of time and money managing excess inventory and idle assets but are unable to maximize the sales revenue on these goods because they work with a limited group of liquidators, jobbers and auctioneers.

Third-party web sites expand the pool of potential buyers, resulting in competitive, market prices and faster transactions.

Cuckoo Clocks for your home

There’s something about a cuckoo clock that piques a person’s imagination. People either think they’re gaudy or they love ’em. But they all stop and look at them. In our modern mass-produced world, cuckoo clocks stand out as impressive displays of skilled labor. Unfortunately, you don’t find that much anymore. Just look at the site clockshoppes.com

The price from 1-26-2011 depends on the amount of hand carving, music and animation. A clock embellished with a chalet that has individually carved shutters will cost more than one without that feature. Anyone willing to work into a busy schedule the chore of winding a clock by hand – every day on 30-hour models and about once a week on those with an eight-day mechanism – probably is thinking more about the nostalgic aspect of a cuckoo clock than practical considerations.

Many people initially are drawn to cuckoo clocks for the way they sound, that happy Old- World bird’s call achieved through a series of weights and counterbalances triggered most often when a clock strikes the hour. Customers who purchase cuckoos are all across the board, from younger couples to their grandparents. But they all seem to have in common that, first, they can appreciate something unusual. Sometimes half-forgotten memories surface, perhaps of a parent having one in the house when they were growing up or at least having heard one as a child.

Children seem to be drawn to cuckoos. But watch out: In order for a cuckoo clock to run properly, the weight chains have to hang down almost to the floor, presenting a pretty tempting invitation to a child as something to play with or yank on.

Of course, the value of antique or vintage cuckoos handed down as family heirlooms needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. As with many collectibles, it can vary widely depending on how well a timepiece has been cared for.

Security Tapes

Manufacturers, specifiers and installers of windows and conservatories could benefit from the product innovation and high level of technical expertise available on the stand.

Double Sided Foam Security Tape is launching a double sided PVCu foam security tape used for securing insulated glass units into PVCu or aluminum window frames.

Developed with leading window manufacturers, the tape provides excellent adhesion and offers increased security against burglary.

Security Tape offers improved security performance because it has the adhesive applied directly to the foam during manufacture. This makes it extremely difficult to remove the glass unit once it has been positioned.

Almost as quick and easy to apply as a wedge gasket, the double sided tape is a cost effective alternative to conventional methods of glass installation.

It was also introduced a new anti-dust tape to seal multi- wall polycarbonate sheets in conservatory roofs. Anti-dust tape eliminates the possibility of dust particles and insects collecting in the otherwise hollow structure.

Constructed with slots down the centre of the tape and covered by a non-woven filter membrane, the tape allows moisture to pass through the structure but helps prevent algae forming.

The filter membrane has a pore size no larger than 45 microns and tiny welded reinforcements in the mesh prevent the pores opening up if the tape is stretched during application.

Originally introduced five years ago, the system has proved very successful and is now considered a standard part of any multi-wall polycarbonate roof construction.

The tape is used in conjunction with a non-perforated blanking tape along the top edge of the sheet providing a complete and effective sealing system.

Manufactured from a plastic material, it contracts and expands with the polycarbonate sheets. This in-turn minimizes stress on the bond promoting the life of the product up to 20 years.