Category Archives: Home Improvement

Granite Countertops Not The Best Material

After spending a little time watching a couple of design shows, and a couple of home makeover shows, and a couple of those real estate and home buying shows, I have become convinced of one thing:
Most modern Americans would buy a house with cardboard boxes as cabinets as long as the cardboard boxes had a granite countertop on top of them!

Granite countertops

It seems a bit unfortunate that the material used on the top of cabinetry has become the tipping point for homeowners who are deciding between a great home with a tile countertop, and an obviously poorer quality home with granite countertops, as though this was the single most important criteria!

I am going to step out on a limb here and say that granite is not the best material for kitchen countertops, and has become a status symbol like wearing a Mercedes Benz hood ornament on a chain once was for hip hop and rap artists. It is just symbol of affluence.

Tile countertops

Granite counter top or not?

The numbers and types of tile available today, offer an amazing array colors and textures, impervious to bacteria, attractive, and far more durable than granite. Heck, they are even available in granite if you so choose!

Quartz countertops

The new kid on the block for countertops is quartz. The material is made from ground quartz and resin, and the completed product is hard, resilient, impervious to bacteria, and comes in a wide variety of colors.

Other materials

Even the plastic laminates, and other synthetic materials common a couple of decades ago still have a place and a purpose. There is nothing wrong with them, and the types, styles and colors available, and the fact that they are impervious to bacteria, and relatively low in cost, still make them a good choice.

There is nothing wrong with granite countertops, but they are probably not the best material on the market, and definitely not the best criteria for choosing a home!

Comments: Feel free to disagree and let us know why in the comment section.

Preventative Maintenance Wood Structures

Preventative Maintenance Wood Structures

The number of wooden or composite surfaced homes built in the United states is much smaller than fifty years ago, but there are still some being built. Outbuildings, like garden sheds, utility buildings, cabanas, and storage buildings are often built with wood or wood composite materials, which require a little extra attention to keep them looking good and functioning properly. A planned maintenance schedule for preventative maintenance can increase the life and functionality of any structure, and this is nowhere more of a truth than with wood or composite structures.

Even if your building is covered mostly with brick, there are still wooden areas that need your attention. The most likely spots are the upper portions of the gable ends, the soffit, and facia boards.

Preventing moisture is the key

Moisture is the enemy of wood. To preserve your wooden structure, you need to prevent moisture from getting into the wood. This is accomplished with paint, stain, or some other type of wood preservative, to seal the moisture out. The edges and ends are most susceptible. The will need extra protection where they are exposed, or joined. This is the job of caulking and trim.

Build a planned maintenance schedule

Tools for maintenance

The best way to go about this is to have a schedule for cleaning, painting and sealing your wooden building. Professional contractors like F&B Painting suggest that this is best done once a year, or at least every 18 months. This may seem like a lot, but you are dealing with the life of your structure, so it is important.

Wood structure preventative maintenance checklist and tips

Please follow the order listed below. If you caulk the building, and then realize you need to level it, your caulking may separate when the building is being leveled.

  • Check the building for levelness. Do this first.
  • Check for wood to ground contact and correct this.
  • Check for termite trails on the sides of any concrete blocks.
  • Scrape off any loose paint. Completely clean the entire building exterior. This is important for finding potential problems, and for assuring a clean surface that your coating will adhere to.
  • Check for missing or damaged shingles.
  • Remove any brush, limbs, or other debris.
  • Check the edges of the eves and overhangs to make sure that there is nothing rotting there. If there is any potential damage from moisture in this area, you should consider adding, or extending metal flashing.
  • Check directly under the roof, where it contacts the outside of the building, caulk any places where there are gaps.
  • Check the corners of the building, look for gaps, and caulk accordingly.
  • Check around doors, and windows.
  • Check the door and window weather stripping.
  • Check the siding, and caulk any exposed nail or screw holes.
  • Apply your paint, stain, or wood preservative only when these other steps have been taken, and the building is clean and dry.

If you have a planned maintenance schedule, and practice preventative maintenance, it will increase the longevity of your building, and the building will stay in good condition as long as you continue your planned maintenance schedule.

Home Improvement Rules Of Thumb

Home Improvement Rules Of Thumb

There are several competing ideas about how the term “rule of thumb” came into being.

One has it that there was a time that a man was allowed to beat his wife, as long as he used a stick no larger than his thumb. Another, that it was the distance on a map that a ship would be safe from the shore, others having to do with a variety human measurements. However the term originated, it has come to mean a general rule that is specific enough to serve as guidance in most situations. That is what we are presenting here.

Angle cuts

When you cut the top of a post for a fence that will not be capped, always cut it at an angle. This will allow water to run off, avoiding potential problems with rot.


When fastening lumber, there will almost always be a crown, or an upward bend, this should always be on top, or pointed upward. Gravity will always try to force everything downward, and placing the crown up will counter this tendency.

Radial curl

Rule of thumb

When looking at a board for a deck or other outdoor structure that will be exposed to the weather, look at the end of the board. There will be a section of the radius of the log that it was cut from. There will be a slight curl toward what was once the outside of the log. This will become more pronounced with exposure to weather, causing a cupping effect which, if placed on top, will allow the board to hold water, and cause premature degradation.

This is a growing list

We will be adding more as we have opportunity. We also want to invite you to comment, and let us know of any rules of thumb you might want to suggest.