Buyers guide to brick and stone

Aside from wood and vinyl, brick and stone is the next common construction material in line. Having been used for hundreds of years, brick and stone are very durable and long lasting compared to other construction materials. They also look far more elegant than their vinyl and wood counterparts. Another great benefit that one receives when using brick and stone is a much higher level of fire resistance, especially when compared to wood. On top of that, there are literally hundreds of different styles and designs of both brick and stone, which will soon be mentioned. The specific type that one chooses to use for their project depends on the type of style they desire.

1. Brick

Featured in a variety of colors and textures, brick is one of the most sturdy and long lasting options that one can choose. Another alternative to real brick is brick veneer, which is essentially a thinner variety of brick. In fact, brick veneer is more commonly used because of the fact that it uses less material, therefore being much more inexpensive. However, it will offer much of the same benefits that come with standard brick, including durability and a long life span. Another thing to consider about brick veneer is that it’s much easier to work with, being much lighter in weight.

2. Cobblestone

Cobblestone can be found in many European-style houses and buildings. These cobblestones are usually installed with a bit of a gap, usually a half inch filled with grout or cement. More often than not, cobblestone walls have pieces which vary in size, color and sometimes texture, giving it a unique appearance. It’s therefore important for the mason to evenly mix or distribute these different sized pieces throughout the wall. Unlike brick veneer, cobblestone has a much more solid feel and structure, enabling it to last much longer. One of the best upsides to cobblestone is that it’s relatively inexpensive.

3. Hand Cut Stone

Hand cut stone is simply stone that’s cut into different sized rectangular shapes. One has a variety of options while using this method, as they can use different combinations of sizes, colors and even patterns. Although not really labor intensive, cutting each stone into various shapes requires time, skill and the right tools. The initial cost for cutting tools may cost a few dollars, but the material itself is really not that expensive, depending on the material purchased. The overall appearance of hand cut stone is both elegant and modern.

4. Field Stone and Tuscan Field Stone

This particular type of stone theme is commonly used in many desert areas. Field stone walls are filled with mosaic shaped stones which slightly vary in size, much like a puzzle of some sort. They can be bought in different shades of brown, tan or grey. Tuscan field stone, on the other hand, is far more jagged and texture compared to regular field stone. Some of the pieces may even vary greatly in size and shape. This type of stone design will give any building or house a very sturdy, bold appearance. Installment is much like putting pieces of a puzzle together.

5. Manor Stone and River Stone

Being a variant of field stone, both manor and river stone are a bit more uniform and casual in appearance. In fact, one can easily mistake manor stone for cobblestone designs, as they both use various sizes and colors of stone within the same wall, except a bit more uniform. The river stone variety is a bit more random on the other hand, except that they resemble large pebbles rather than jagged edges used in field stone walls. Using either variety will result in a structure that resembles the typical castle-like theme. Unlike cobblestone, where both light and dark colors are used, manor stone designs usually use different shades of grey.

6. Stack

One of the most notable features about stack is that it has a very modern, dynamic appearance. Stack consists of stones which are cut into thin, long rectangular pieces, much like hand cut stone but far more narrow and long. Each stone slightly varies in width and height. However, unlike hand cut stone, grout or cement cannot be seen in between each stone. In fact, a stack wall will look as if someone simply stacked each stone on top of one another, hence the name.

7. Ledgestone

Ledgestone is strikingly similar to stack in both appearance and structure. The main difference lies in the fact that ledgestone has much rougher edges curves. Basically, ledgestone looks as if someone slightly bent and warped each brick. Just like stack, one cannot see grout or cement between the gaps.

Quick and Easy Guide to Insulating Your Loft

That loft you can see from your living area was something you were once proud of, but you now find yourself in need of a little change. If you are planning to do a remodeling project yourself, you might as well start from the bottom and work up.

Safety first

Before getting started, remember to take the necessary safety precautions working with tools and products while taking steps to make your home better for you and your budget. Be sure to wear long-sleeves, pants, safety glasses, and a paper respirator mask to reduce sensitivity to air-born microfibers. For bare skin, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or baby powder to deflect microfibers.

Getting started

If the joists are covered with flooring that will interfere with installing the insulation, it will need to be taken up. Before choosing insulation, you need to determine the common layout between your floor joists. Measure the amount of inches between three or more bays to find the common measurement. This is the width your insulation must be when you by it. Figure walls, floors, and ceilings separate.
After that, determine how many square feet of insulation you will need by measuring the length and width of the area in feet. Estimate the two figures of each area to the highest foot and multiply them. The number you get will be the amount of square feet needed to complete that area.

For proper effectiveness in warm climate regions, the minimum R-value required in your attic needs to be R-19. The colder the climate, the higher the R (resistance to heat) value must be. To simplify matters, you can take your list of figures to your hardware associate for assistance.
The next step is deciding what type of insulation you should use for your particular set of needs. There is a wide variety of insulation available at any large hardware store. The local hardware store will likely have the basics, although, usually tend to be more expensive away from bigger areas where the leading competitors are. If you want to cut down on the itchy mess of removing the old insulation, you might consider laying the new over the old as long as it is in good shape.

Types of most commonly used insulation

Glass mineral wool, also known as fiberglass insulation, is the most common type used in America. It is comprised mainly of recycled glass and looks like the puffed, itchy material they used forty-years ago. The glass mineral wool of today has been technologically influenced by added compounds to make it softer and less irritating to the skin. It comes in pre-cut lengths or a roll, is light-weight, and easily compresses for packing. It will expand once opened.

It is easy to measure, cut, and install. This product has proven to have superior fire resistance. Also, glass is made from sand natural to the earth and may be recycled, again and again, making it beneficial for all. Furthermore, a single fiberglass product can save hundreds of times the energy it needs to produce it. Simple to install, just fit snuggly in the length of each bay and do not over-stuff. For best results, face the paper side toward the air-controlled area. If you are laying new insulation over old a paperless version is recommended. If you have already purchased your paper-backed insulation, you may peel the paper right off.
Foam board insulation can be used to insulate most anywhere in your home. Polyurethane and polystyrene are the most common petroleum-based components used to produce foam board. It is very light-weight, easy to handle, and comes in standard sizes to be used with less waste. Another great quality of foam board insulation is that polystyrene will never decompose. It’s the ideal alternative, especially if you are installing it over existing insulation.
Loose-fill/blow-in insulation usually consists of fiberglass or cellulose (recycled paper fiber), or a mixture of both. This is a pneumatic application that is blown into place by air compression. It is natural and environmentally friendly with an added fire-retardant chemical which also helps prevent mold, fungus, and pests. Often a ratio of adhesive is added to harden the insulation and mold it to place. It can be sprayed in hard to reach areas and over existing insulation. This is hands down the fastest, simplest way to insulate your loft. An insulation blower may be rented at many hardware stores.

Average costs per square foot

According to the average cost to bring your attic to modern standards is between $1.00 and $1.50 a square foot.
The cost of blow-in insulation per square foot is about twice that.

  • Basic safety precautions
  • Preparation, determining your common layout, and introduction to the R value
  • The three common types of insulation, their qualities, functions, and costs

Buyers Guide to dehumidifiers

Buyer’s Guide to Dehumidifiers

Vector illustration of a humidifier for children's room. Lne vector humidifier icon. Air purifier.
Vector illustration of a humidifier for children’s room. Lne vector humidifier icon. Air purifier.

Excess humidity in the air creates a discomforting atmosphere, especially in the heat. It also worsens conditions such as asthma and many allergies. Worse yet, it creates the perfect environment for mold and other types of fungus. Electronics such as computers and TVs also suffer from a high humidity atmosphere. Wall paper, furniture and wood degrade far quicker in such an environment as well. In such a case, having the right dehumidifier is an absolute must have. A dehumidifier is simply a device which absorbs moisture from the air. However, one should know a few things about dehumidifiers before buying one.

When Is a Dehumidifier Needed?

Just because one has an air conditioning unit, doesn’t mean that they don’t need a dehumidifier. The best way to decide if whether or not a dehumidifier is needed would be to check the relative humidity levels. As a general rule of thumb, a 50 percent RH is recommended during summer months, while a 30 percent RH level is acceptable during winter. Areas in the house that tend to get really humid include laundry rooms and basements, so check these areas foremost. Other signs of a needed dehumidifier include wall paper peeling, mold, condensation and musty odors.

How a Dehumidifier Works

A dehumidifier works by having a fan force air over coolant-filled coils, which then draw humidity from the air in the form on condensation, leaving only dry air to leave the system. This excess condensation is usually collected in a bucket of some type. Some models dry out the air more than others, depending on what is required for the given situation. Knowing the basic inner workings of a dehumidifier will aid one in troubleshooting the device in the case that something goes wrong with it.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dehumidifier

Before one goes out and buys a dehumidifier, they’ll need to measure the square footage of the area they intend to dehumidify in square feet. One should also consider how they’re going to dispose of the water that’s collected by the dehumidifier, which includes a few different methods. The total energy output of the desired dehumidifier is also something to take into consideration, especially if one needs to dehumidify an area in a hurry, such as in the case of a mold or health emergency. Make sure that the particular make or model has decent reviews and ratings as well, as nobody wants to deal with the hassle of having to return a dehumidifier.

Operating a Dehumidifier

First and foremost, follow the instruction manual thoroughly. The last thing one wants to do is to void their warranty. Inspect the bucket to make sure that the float switch is not blocked. Upon turning on the unit for the first time, set the humidity level to the driest, or highest, setting to ensure stabilization. Once the dehumidifier completes a couple cycles, one can then select their desired humidity level setting. Most level settings range anywhere from 30 to 90 percent RH.

Also, be sure that nothing is restricting air flow throughout the unit. If the vent happens to be on top, one is safe to place the unit directly against a wall. Other than that, vents will need to be at least six inches away from any obstructions. Ensuring proper airflow includes keeping the air filters clean. Eliminate all counterproductive sources of humidity within the area, such as gutters and leaky pipes.

Dehumidifying and Total Area

Dehumidifiers, for the most part, are rated by how many pints of water they can remove within a 24-hour period. Moderately damp areas with a square footage of around 2,000 square feet require a rating of 25 pints, moderately damp areas that are 3,500 square feet will require a 40 rating, extremely damp areas of 2,000 square feet require a 40 rating as well and an extremely damp 3,500-square-foot area will require a whooping rating of 70.

Dehumidifier Features

Here are some features that one can expect from a dehumidifier, depending on the model:

Internal Pump: pumps water vertically to ensure function.

Direct Drain: uses gravity rather than a pump to continue operation.

Filter Indicator: indicates a dirty or clogged filter.

Auto-Humidistat: automatically shuts off unit when humidity reaches a certain level in order to conserve energy.

Low Temp Setting: enables unit to operate in very cold conditions.

Auto-Reset: resets unit back to default settings in the case of a power outage.


These basics will aid one in choosing the best dehumidifier for their particular situation. More expensive units typically come with more convenient features, along with longer, better warranties, so spending a few extra bucks may pay off. Most importantly, thoroughly read and practice the instruction manual before operating the unit.