DIYConfidential: Submit your DIY/home improvement stories and photos here!

DIY-Confidential

Each month, we'll feature the true, personal story of someone's Do-It-Yourself and/or home improvement project experience. Please tell us your story in 500 words or less. You can include up to three photos: one "before" photo, one "in progress" photo and one "completed" photo. If chosen, we'll feature your story on our blog and on our Facebook and Twitter updates.

Your story should try to answer three questions: 1) What was wrong with the part of your home that you wanted to improve? 2) How did you do it, i.e. with what materials, tools, budget and professional help, if used? and 3) What is the finished result, and how do you feel about the improvement?
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Best Countertop Materials for Your Home: What You Get from Different Surfaces

concrete countertops

Concrete Countertops

When it comes to buying new counters, it’s really a matter of getting the best countertop materials for your needs.

Whether you’re putting together fixtures for your kitchen or your bathroom, the material you use can make all the difference in the world.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the more popular materials when it comes to counters and show you how you benefit from each type.

So keep reading to learn more about the best countertop materials out there, and you’ll see just what a world of difference it makes when you need to pick something to complete your kitchen remodeling project.

 

A Breakdown of Surface Materials

When it comes to materials that can make up your counters, the following six materials are among the most popular:

  1. Natural Stone – This includes materials like granite, soapstone, and slate, and can bring a natural beauty to the room in a way few other materials can match. When it comes to natural stone materials, the beauty that they bring is often matched by durability that can save you money over time, thanks to little need to apply anything more than common soap and water when it comes to maintaining the look of the counters. It should be noted, however, that these materials are prone to scratching, so you should avoid using sharp objects directly on the surface material. Natural stone is a strong choice for the homeowner who wants a material that that can turn heads, and may be ideal for someone who makes only light use of the kitchen.
  1. Solid Surface – This is a surface material that can either be part acrylic, part polyester or 100 percent of either. The great thing about these kinds of counters is that, even though they are extremely durable, scratches and other blemishes can be fixed fairly easily. You can also pick from hundreds of different color schemes, making it easy to match the look of the counters up with the rest of the kitchen’s design. This is also considered to be among the best countertop materials because the material can be customized to include things like pinstripes and matching backsplashes. If you are someone who wants a custom kitchen down to the smallest detail, this is one way to approach it.

    Laminate Countertops

    Laminate Countertops

  1. Laminate – This is a material for homeowners who use their kitchen a lot and want and affordable material that will easily stand the test of time. With this material, there’s no shortage of textures, colors, and patterns that you can put together for a truly unique look. Not only that, but the material can be used for a number of matching fixtures like backsplashes.
  1. Ceramic – This is another low maintenance option available to homeowners and can be put in place in order to have easily cleaned surfaces that can serve to complement backsplashes, kitchen islands, and other fixtures throughout the room. You can also get ceramic in a seamless look, making it even more low maintenance.
  1. Wood – Natural beauty is the main reason many people consider this to be among the best countertop materials, but what many people don’t realize is that wood can also protect against bacteria and other contaminates better than many other types of surfaces. If you’re a homeowner who is considering wood as your material, then you should know that these counters require a fair bit of maintenance in order to keep up their attractive appearances. This means that you will regularly need to dedicate time to making sure your counters looks are up to par, but the end result will be well worth it.
  1. Concrete – These flat, smooth surfaces make it easy to cook without having to worry about cracks, heat damage, and other issues that even the best countertop materials face. Even with its resilience, however, concrete is a material that you want to wax every 3 months and reseal once per year in order to keep the material strong and in its best possible shape.

 

Countertop Comparison Chart

If you want an easy comparison for some of the best countertop materials out there, then take a look at this chart of pros and cons.

 

Material Name Pros Cons
Natural Stone Durability and Beauty Can be expensive
Solid Surface Scratches and Blemishes are easily fixed Poor heat resistance, finish may need rebuffing
Laminate Affordable, diverse Easily scratched and damaged by heat
Ceramic Low maintenance, easily fixed Grout can be hard to clean, easily chipped
Wood Protects against bacteria, naturally beautiful Needs regular cleaning and sealing
Concrete Extremely durable, smooth to the touch High maintenance, can chip with time

 

When it comes to the best countertop materials, these are the six options that simply can’t be beat.

Once you’ve picked out your countertop material, it’s time to select the countertop edge style you want.  If you still have questions about countertop materials or anything else after reading this article, be sure to take a look at these countertop frequently asked questions.

Once you do, you can be sure that you’ll be able to get exactly what you want so that your home’s counters can turn heads for years to come!

 

 

Waterproof Your Basement: The Tips You Can Follow to Protect Your Home Today!

Are you curious about what you can do to waterproof your basement?

When it comes to protecting your home, providing the right kind of waterproofing is one of the most important things you can do in order to keep your property safe, but there are a lot of different areas that cover the practice of waterproofing?Basement Waterproofing

But what are they and how do they help?

That’s something we’ll explore in this post, so keep reading to learn more about what you can do to waterproof your basement. The information you find here will help keep your home safe no matter what.

Stopping Leaks

Leaks are just one of the ways that water gets into your home and causes problems, but they are one of the most common.

In order to put a stop to them and keep them from damaging your property, here is what you need to do:

Repairing the Holes and Cracks Before You Waterproof

Before you can do anything, you need to make sure you can find the holes that need to be filled.

Because all leaks are caused by cracks or holes in the wall, you want to look as closely as possible and find the imperfections responsible.

Once you do, follow these steps to begin the process.

  • Fill any hairline cracks with a regular waterproofing mix but make sure you clean them out before applying the waterproofing mix.
  • If you have a small repair job, you can purchase premade mix but larger jobs will require you to make your own mix. Either way, the mix needs to be forced into the crack with a trowel or putty knife. Be warned that this only works with cracks where water isn’t being forced in through outside pressure. If that’s the cause of the leak, then the problem requires a different method to address.
  • Use a chisel and hammer to make a dovetail groove along the length of the cracked area. When you waterproof your basement, it’s important to carry out this part of the job correctly, because failure to do so will cause the mortar to fall out when it dries.
  • After the mortar is set into place, smooth it out with your trowel so that you don’t leave any air pockets.

This is the basic process behind repairing cracks and patching holes in order to make sure your home’s foundation is waterproof, but there may be other necessary steps depending on your circumstances.

In some cases, for instance, you might need to install a weep pipe as part of your waterproofing efforts.

This pipe makes it possible for water that’s trapped against the wall under pressure to get out so that it won’t eventually leak into the home’s foundation.

If you find that the weep pipe eventually helps the water slow to a trickle, then it can be removed and replaced with a cement plug that you can make out of mortar and put in place yourself.

Waterproofing After Patches and Repairs

Once patches and wholes have been fixed, you’re ready to waterproof your basement. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Dampen the wall with water and let dry before you start.
  • Purchase latex or epoxy waterproof mixes
  • You may have to remove old paint. Do so by sanding or wire brushing any existing paint.
  • Apply with a stiff brush and make sure all pores are filled
  • Apply several layers of the mixture from bottom to top
  • Let it dry overnight and apply a second coat in the morning.

By following this process, you can make sure that you waterproof your basement so that you can protect it from the harmful effects of water damage what can come from heavy rainstorms and other such events.

If this sort of project seems too daunting, then you shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with a basement waterproofing professional to make sure your home is protected.

Making sure your basement is waterproof is one of the most important things you can do as a homeowner, so you don’t want anything to get overlooked.

How to Stain Your Deck: The Steps You Need to Take

Are you a do-it-yourselfer who wants to know all about how to stain your deck?

With a project as large and involved as deck staining, you want to be extremely careful. Because the work involves taking a lot of steps and making sure that nothing is overlooked, you want to be 100 percent certain that you follow every step down to the smallest detail.

In this post, we’ll look at how to stain your deck so that your surface gets the look you want and draws all the right kind of attention.

So keep reading to learn more. The information you find here will help you save money and help you avoid common mistakes that often occur with a project like this.

The Step by Step Process

  1. Prepare the Area – Just like any other process, staining wood needs to be preceded by the right process. In this case, you want to make sure you clean the surface first. This will get rid of things like dirt, mildew, stains, and other blemishes
    A Deck Before Staining

    Before Staining

    that could cause trouble. In order to do this, you want to use sodium percarbonate wood cleaners that will clean wooden surfaces without posing any danger to you. If that doesn’t lift the stains, then consider using stain stripper instead. This will lift stubborn stains that have set into the wood and light sanding will get rid of any especially small spots.

  1. Apply Wood Brightener – This easy-to-apply solution will make it so that the stain strippers are neutralized after they’ve done their job and help restore the wood’s fresh look. It’s a simple step, but one that many people overlook.
  1. Rinse – After you’ve used the brightener and everything else that came before it, there will likely be chemical residue on your deck, so you need to rinse it thoroughly. Not doing so could potentially threaten the staining job.
  1. Pick Your Staining and Get Ready to Begin – Now that the deck has been fully prepared, you want pick what you’ll be using to stain it. When figuring out how to stain your deck you might want to consider water-based stain over oil-based, because it will not be as susceptible to issues like mold and algae growth. Whichever you choose, make sure you read the instructions carefully before you apply it. The container will tell you how many coats you need to apply and how long you need to wait in between each coat. The temptation to over apply the stain might be there, but don’t do it. You want your deck to have a semi-transparent finish that allows the grain to show.
  1. Brush It In – The spray bottle starts the job, but brushing it in will finish it. Use a paint brush while the stain is wet so that it really gets in the pores that dot the deck’s wooden surface. Through that, you can be sure the stain penetrates as deeply as possible.
  1. Let it Dry – Before you can put furniture down or let people walk on the deck, give the staining time to set in. It’s advisable that you leave it alone for at least 24 hours so that it has plenty of time to dry out.

After that, you’ll be able to enjoy your deck’s beautiful new look!

Deck After Staining

After Staining

When answering the question of how to stain your deck, remember to maintain it after the job is done.

Make sure you wash things like leaves and dirt off of the deck to keep them from damaging the finish. Additionally, use the brightener every now and then to clean the surface and ensure that it doesn’t lose its luster.

The question of how to stain your deck is a simple one to answer. Follow the steps outlined above and you’ll transform your deck’s look from “well-worn” to “rejuvenated” before you know it! And if you need help along the way, feel free to contact a professional deck staining company.

 

 

 

What You Should Expect with a Kitchen Remodeling

When it comes to kitchen remodeling, a lot of work goes into making sure you get exactly what you want.

Because remodeling a home’s kitchen is such an involved task, it makes sense that the contractor doing the work has a large task ahead of him.

As a homeowner, you want to do everything you can to make sure your contractors have as easy a time as possible and can be done with the work as soon as possible.

So how do you do that?

Let’s take a look at some of the following tips and you’ll see just what a remodeling involves and how you can help make sure the process moves along smoothly.

Make Sure You Have Extra Space

Contractors bring equipment with them and, in order to be efficient, that equipment needs to be close.

Before Remodeling

Before Remodeling

If possible, have some sort of storage area set up near the kitchen so that access to tools will be quick and easy. Depending on how much space you have, you might also be able to store everything that will need to be moved out of the kitchen so that work can be done freely.

Beyond having a storage space for the essentials, you also want to make sure that pets and small children are kept from the work area so that the job can be done without distraction.

Moving on to the Remodeling Process

Remodeling a kitchen is something that typically takes a few days to do, so it helps to know just what you’re getting into before work begins.

When you’re getting your home’s kitchens remodeled, the outline can looking something like this:

  • Days 1 and 2 – This is when material is torn up and infrastructure like electrical and plumbing is disconnected. Noise and dust will be common during this phase, so covering furniture and sealing doorways will need to be done before hand. It’s also important to note that trash will be removed several times over the course of a workday, so you need to make sure you tell your contractor if you plan on keeping any material.
  • The Next Few Days – This is the time period when mechanical roughs-ins are made and installed for all plumbing and electrical units in the kitchen. This means that main lines will be installed and protrude through the walls of the kitchen. During this phase, there may be periods of the day when your home will be without water or electricity, so you will need to plan accordingly.
  • The Remodeling Process – This is when new fixtures are put into place and the kitchen starts to take on a familiar form.

From the countertops to the floors, everything is installed before any final electrical and plumbing related connections are made. Once that’s finished, you’ll have your new kitchen.

This is a basic outline for what you can expect when your kitchen is being remodeled, but you may be wondering what you should do since one of your home’s most used rooms will be out of commission.

Follow these tips to get through your kitchen remodeling and you’ll have an easier time of it than you think.

After Remodeling

After Remodeling

  • Set up your microwave and refrigerator in another area, that way you can still prepare certain foods and nothing will go bad while the kitchen is being remodeled.
  • Keep utensils, plates, bowls, and cups free but box everything else up to keep them dust free.
  • Keep restaurant coupons handy for when you want to go out for a meal.
  • Have another sink set aside for washing dishes, as you will be able to use the one in the kitchen.

When it comes to kitchen remodeling, these basic tips will ensure that you are able to get the room you want with little disruption to your daily routine. You can also click here for more tips on preparing for kitchen remodeling.

By following these tips and working with a kitchen remodeling contractor that you truly trust, you’ll be able to enjoy your new kitchen in no time at all.