Home Safety: Best Places to Put Security Cameras

low angle shot on security camera with office building background, monitor the whole city from a height,shanghai china.


If you’ve decided to put up security cameras for your home for the first time or are considering widening your safety net, knowing the proper way to place and angle your cameras is vital to keeping your home as safe as it can be. Not only can proper camera placement catch important details of possible crimes in your area, simply placing them properly can deter a crime from happening in the first place.


The most important factor in judging where to place a camera is simple: Your home is your home. You know what the layout is, you know where the most important rooms are, and you may be in the unfortunate position of knowing how someone entered your home without your permission in the past. Before you begin placing any equipment, consider some basic questions about your home’s surveillance needs. Some questions to consider include:

  • What parts of your home are you most concerned about?
  • If someone has broken into your home before, even before you owned it, where did that occur?
  • Are there any spots on my property that aren’t plainly visible to the street or my neighbors?
  • Do you need to keep any local camera placement laws in mind?


Though you may come to a variety of conclusions and potential diagrams for your home security systems and their needs, consider the usual entry points for potential burglars when casing a home. Knowing the most common routes of entry can take a large portion of the workload off of you simply by observing recorded statistics. With over 80 percent of burglars entering a home through the first floor, whether through door or window, it’s especially important to keep the entirety of your property’s entryways covered. At the same time, trying to cover low locales such as your doors and windows may leave cameras in easy reach of criminals, thus completely negating their usefulness.


If you find you have a lack of safe places to place a camera, consider looking into protective caging for your equipment to protect it from being knocked out of order while you aren’t looking. This is also a good time to contemplate what special tools you may need to complete your installation, so ensure you check your camera system to see it’s recommended outfitting requirements that might need special preparations.


While losing a camera can mean losing important evidence to help identify vandals or thieves, there are clever ways to keep yourself safe that might goad a criminal into making a misstep. Placing a dummy camera in obvious sight not only deters crime by showing you keep your home under tight watch, it also gives an easy target to a potential burglar that can distract them from hidden cameras that catch them in the act. As an added bonus, dummy cameras are far cheaper to replace than expensive professional models.


Most importantly, you must consider the needs of each camera when placing it. Cameras cannot focus on multiple ranges and angles at once, so if you want to catch a trespasser’s facial features, mounting your camera up too high can blur distinctive features, but a raised camera may have a better time picking up a car’s license plate when placed overlooking your driveway.


In the end, even poorly-placed cameras will offer better home security than not having any at all, but there’s no reason to leave proper home security to chance. Knowing how to place your first line of defense can keep you safe before and after any crime, and knowledge is always your best weapon.



By Cary Teller  –  RISMedia Housecall,  July 31, 2017  

Posted on August 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

5 Ways to Create an Energy Efficient Home for Under $500

Smart Home Concept Linear


Summer is a time filled with good times and warm weather. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for many homeowners when energy costs skyrocket as they attempt to keep their homes cool and comfortable. Thankfully, there are many things that can be done to help keep homes cool, while saving energy and money at the same time. These five tips will help make the most of energy efficient home situations this summer, and all cost less than $500.

Find and Fix Air Leaks
According to Energy.gov, air leaks are responsible for as much as 20 percent of the energy used to heat and cool the home. Stopping air leaks around doors and windows through weatherstripping is a fast and inexpensive way to help lower energy bills year round, while stopping drafts, and making the home more comfortable at the same time.

How Much Does It Save?
It’s common to see a drop in energy bills of about 20 percent after sealing up air leaks. The average cost of this project is around $168, and it will pay for itself over time with lower energy bills.

Thermostat Upgrade
Another way to lower energy bills is to invest in a programmable thermostat. Thermostats are responsible for controlling when the air conditioner goes on and off. However, many people forget to turn them off when they leave for the day, resulting in higher than necessary bills. A programmable version that can learn the habits of the residents in house will let the system use energy more efficiently, keeping bills down.

How Much Does It Save?
Programmable thermostats cost around $200 – $250 to have installed, and can often save roughly $180 a year on heating and cooling costs. Over time, this will help pay for the upgrade.

Update Light Fixtures
If the house still features incandescent light bulbs in the fixtures, then it’s likely using much more energy than it needs to be. Energy efficient LED and CFL bulbs use just 1/3 to 1/30 of the energy that a traditional bulb does. These bulbs also work in any traditional light fixture, although it is possible to install new lights made just for these types of bulbs to save even more if desired.

How Much Does It Save?
CFL bulbs cost around $10 to $12 while LED Bulbs cost around $15 to $25. While this may sound pricey, consider this; incandescent bulbs use about $15 worth of electricity a year per bulb, while LED and CFL use less than $5.  Added up, this can be a tremendous savings over time.

Change the Air Filters
HVAC systems need to be clean and free of dust and dirt in order to work properly. For that reason, it has a filter installed at its intake to keep out contaminates. Over time, that filter will become clogged with dust, dirt, and hair, causing the system to work harder to pull air through. Most filters should be changed once a season, but many people overlook this simple task, which in turn results in higher energy bills, and expensive HVAC and AC maintenance.

How Much Does It Save?
Replacement air filters typically cost around $15 to $60. Choose from reusable filters that only need regular cleaning. Changing the filter every 3 months will save roughly 15 percent on energy bills.

Air Vents
AC and HVAC units will also work harder if their air vents are dirty. The more debris and dirt inside the system, the harder it needs to work to pull air through, raising energy costs by as much as 5 – 15 percent over time, and causing the system to age faster, requiring more maintenance and repairs over time.

How Much Does It Save?
Having dirty vents cleaned costs between $300 and $500. However, this can save up to 15 percent on your energy bills, and save on expensive HVAC repairs as well.

Lower Energy Bills
Remember, most of the things done to lower energy bills this summer will be effective year round, keeping energy bills down in the winter months as well, and increasing the amount that is ultimately saved. The home will also be more comfortable, and current and future homeowners will be able to avoid unexpected maintenance and repair costs in some cases as well.


Yuka Kato –  RISmedia Housecall,  July 27, 2017  

Posted on August 1, 2017 at 4:36 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

Home Safety: How to Protect Your Family at Every Stage of Life


cute baby girl sleeping


We all want to keep our families as safe as possible, but home safety requirements change as your family grows and evolves. From newborns to pets, a variety of different strategies can ensure your home is as safe and accommodating as possible for your family. Here are some simple tips to help keep your family safe through every stage of life.


Getting your home ready for a new baby

Baby-proofing a home is largely about protecting them from their own curiosity. Once a baby learns to crawl, anything in reach is fair game to be grabbed, touched, or chewed on.

  1. Install baby gates to keep certain rooms off-limits. This is especially important near stairs.
  2. Fill unused electrical outlets with plastic plugs. Outlets are like magnets for babies.
  3. Store breakable items out of reach.
  4. Keep small items out of reach as well. Small objects that could be put into mouths are a major choking hazard. A good rule of thumb is if it can fit in an empty toilet paper roll, it is small enough for a baby to choke on.

Home safety for toddlers and elementary-age children

Toddler-proofing is a little different from baby-proofing in that a toddler is usually more resourceful about getting into things they shouldn’t be. Toddlers will climb, open doors and drawers, and generally get themselves into trouble.

  1. Move anything small or breakable up higher now that your child is walking and climbing. You’d be surprised at what they can reach.
  2. If you have a pool, build a fence around it. You’ll want a barrier at least a few feet high to make it harder for your toddler to climb over.
  3. Secure drawers and cabinets with childproof latches.
  4. Place safety locks on windows and doors to prevent them from being opened.
  5. If you don’t have a home security system, install one for added safety. Choosing a system with the right features, like motion sensors and security cameras, can help you know if your curious toddler runs out the door or it can help you keep tabs on things while the babysitter is over.

Safety during the teenage years

As your child grows into their teens, the focus moves further from physical safety and more towards online safety and general home security. Online safety is extremely important with teenagers in the house.

  1. Set clear boundaries and expectations with your teen regarding potentially dangerous situations. These could involve simple subjects like safe driving or complex topics like drinking and drugs.
  2. Keep alcohol, firearms, and any prescription or over-the-counter drugs locked up in a safe place.
  3. Educate your teen about safe internet usage. This includes avoiding malware, being smart on social media, and using privacy settings.

Pet-proofing your home

Pets make great additions to the family, but they come with their own safety needs. In many ways, pet-proofing is similar to baby-proofing. Pet-proofing involves keeping harmful items out of their reach and making sure that they can’t escape the house or yard and run off.

  1. Keep cleaning products, chemicals, and medications in high places or locked where pets can’t stumble upon them.
  2. If your pet likes to chew on (or eat!) household items, make sure that you don’t leave anything lying around. It can be helpful to do a quick walk-through of your home a couple times a day, such as when you leave and return from work.
  3. If you have a home security system, make sure the motion sensors are capable of detecting and ignoring your pets.
  4. If you have a fenced yard, check it for weaknesses or small gaps that a pet could squeeze through.

Getting your home ready for your parents to move in

As our parents get older, it’s not uncommon for them to move in with us. This can help ensure their safety and prevent the loneliness that often comes with old age. It can also present some unique challenges when it comes to home safety.

Depending on your parent’s age and their physical and mental well-being, you may need to make small home improvements for their convenience or physical safety. In general, you’ll want to try to minimize the potential for falls and make sure that help is always within reach.

  1. Install grab bars in the bathrooms near the toilet and shower. These bars can help support a person as they move in and out of the shower or tub, both making this task easier and helping prevent falls. Make sure they can support the weight of the person who’ll be using them.
  2. Walk through your home and check for objects that might make tripping hazards. Throw rugs, children’s toys, and pet toys can all be dangerous for people lacking the eyesight or reflexes to maneuver around them easily.
  3. Set up a medical alert system. This is a wearable device that essentially functions as a panic button—if a person falls or has a medical emergency, they can push the button to get instant access to help.
  4. Learn which foods are hazardous for senior health. As your parents age, their immune system weakens—making them more susceptible to food poisoning and health risks. Prepare meals at home that won’t threaten the health of your aging parents.

Your family grows and changes as time goes by, and so should your home safety plans. If you want to keep up with each of your family members, continually assess their needs. These tips should give you a great starting point towards building a safer home for your family.



Sage Singleton – RISmedia Housecall,  Jul 18 2017

Posted on July 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

6 Things Professional Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

Even though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself without installing top-dollar security features.

Home burglary generally has a pattern; criminals are looking for an easy target they can rob fast.  Learn from the pros. Here are six tips from career burglars you can use to defend your home and prevent break-ins.


  1.   Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time

Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours—the last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Weekdays are ideal for thieves, since weekend schedules are too unpredictable. Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. are the most popular times because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school.


  1. They Know When You’re Not Home—Thanks to Social Media

While it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos and exotic location check-ins until you’re back home. Criminals scout public social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare to find victims.

Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. The same survey found one burglar stole over $250,000 in electronics and jewelry from 33 women he saw in public—he used GPS data embedded in photos they posted online to find their homes.

Even if all your accounts are private, that old friend from high school or new neighbor down the street could be a potential criminal. Never post what times you’re not home or how long you’ll be out.


  1. They Don’t Like Your Security Practices

Burglars want nothing to do with alarm systems (whether they’re from the best home security companies or not). Homes without a security system are almost 300 percent more likely to be targeted for a break-in.  If you do install an alarm system, make sure you guard it with a strong code. Don’t use your house number or birthday, and clean any dirt or grease off your keypad so a burglar won’t guess your code based off the numbers you’ve hit the most. Unlocked windows, unused deadbolts, poorly lit homes, and residences without security systems are prime targets for burglars, so make sure you are using the security features you already have.

Also, tricks that make it look like you’re home really work, professional burglars reveal. Burglars run from properties that look like people are inside. Motion sensor lights, bright flood lights, and timed lights are inexpensive security features for a home’s exterior that scare criminals away. TVs or radios left on, as well as cars parked in the driveway, make burglars nervous that someone is home.


  1. Great Targets Advertise Their Weapon Supply

If you’re a proud gun owner, that won’t scare away burglars—it entices them. A gun is stolen roughly every two minutes in the U.S., so homeowners should be sure to always lock up their guns. NRA bumper stickers on a car, or Smith & Wesson signs on a house, advertises that there are lots of guns to steal.


  1. Shrubs and Architecture Make Great Hiding Spots

Tall bushes are favorites of burglars since they offer an obstructed view from the street and an easy way to hide from neighbors. Keep shrubs and large landscaping features trimmed. If you want big plants by your windows, choose something thorny that will detract a burglar, like roses or cacti.

Think twice about large architecture features, too, like fences, half walls, and big fountains. Thieves are searching for crimes of opportunity, and such decor elements give a burglar more time to hide and plot their method of entry. The best defense is a clear view of your front porch.


  1. Valuables in the Open Help Them Decide on a Target

Keep your expensive items out of sight. You’re making it too easy for a burglar by advertising the type of valuables they can steal. Don’t leave a new MacBook in front of your first-floor kitchen window, iPads on your living room ottoman, or even a nice car in a garage window with a clear sight line to the street. Key hooks—especially with labels for each key—need to be concealed out of view from windows, too.

“A burglar appreciates such kindness, but you will find it expensive when you have to replace all the locks after a break-in,” says Mike Fraser, former professional burglar and host of the BBC show Beat the Burglar.

Fraser also advises to leave large family calendars out of view. You’re inviting a break-in by detailing when you’ll be away, Fraser says. This advice goes for any ID documents, too. Mail or other personal information left in plain view is a gold mine for a criminal looking to easily steal your details for identity theft.

Using these tips can help you protect your home from break-ins. Also, be sure to research crime rates and trends in your neighborhood and state.

Krystal Rogers-Nelson,  Apr 21 2017 –  Housecall


Posted on May 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

green shuttersIf you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.


Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold.  It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool.  Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare.  Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money.  A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price.  Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.


Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater.  The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in 7.5 years.  After that, panels are a big money-saving asset.  A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable.  New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer.  Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent.  Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring.  Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind.  Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

Brooke Nally  –  Housecall  Feb 23, 2017

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS, Sellers

How to Protect Your Trees When You’re Remodeling or Building

Will your home be undergoing construction this winter? Be sure to safeguard your landscape’s valuable trees

Building a new home or planning a major renovation is a big undertaking. Between coordinating everything with the builders and having your space turned inside out, you may have forgotten about one of your landscape’s most valuable assets: existing trees. Construction vehicles and machinery can easily damage them, and that’s why trees should be protected. An injured tree can become prone to disease or experience other health problems that lead to its demise. Learn the steps to protect your trees during construction, so they’ll stay healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Contemporary Landscape by Kara Mosher

1. Identify mature trees that are vulnerable to construction. This includes trees that are near the renovation area and ones within the path of construction vehicles. It’s wise to plan a route through the property in consultation with your builder. This puts everyone on the same page and lets your lead contractor know that the trees are important to you and that you want them preserved. A specific route for vehicle access also helps plan a coordinated construction site.

Your builder or lead contractor will be responsible for staging this route as part of the construction process. Speak up early about the need to protect mature trees on your property. In sites with limited access or tight spaces, there are technologies and methods that can limit disturbance around protected trees.

Traditional Exterior by Cynthia Karegeannes, Registered Architect

Cynthia Karegeannes, Architect

2. Review local ordinances designed to protect trees during construction. Some municipalities have strict requirements for the type of fence and identifying signage that can be used. Others have no regulations, leaving it up to the homeowner to protect existing trees.

Also note if there are trees that must be protected in your property’s adjacent public right of way. A local ordinance often will protect street trees and trees within public easements. Know the locations of mature trees that may fall under your purview and know what regulations apply to them.

Shown: The orange plastic netting fence clearly marks a “do not disturb” zone around a mature tree.

Tree Protection Fence

3. Understand that trees can be harmed in a variety of ways but that injury is avoidable with proper planning. 

There are three main tree components to protect:

  • Roots: The roots can be damaged by soil compaction, a change in grade, trenching or other activity that cuts away significant portions of the roots. Know your tree’s critical root zone, an imaginary circle drawn on the ground in line with where the tree’s branches extend, based on the diameter of the trunk, and place your protective fence to surround it.
  • Trunk and bark: Mechanical damage can occur if a vehicle or machinery impacts the trunk and strips away bark. This creates a wound that invites disease. At a minimum, protect the trunk by wrapping it with burlap or boards.
  • Branches: Low branches can catch on vehicles and machinery too. This presents the same problem as the trunk getting hit: It creates a rough break in the branch, leaving the tree open to disease. Cut back any low branches that are in the path of construction vehicles.

Shown: A temporary chain-link fence provides a visual and physical barrier to limit disturbance around trees.


by Falon Land Studio LLC

Falon Land Studio LLC

4. Make a clear barrier. This prevents heavy trucks and big machinery from driving close to the tree. A fence should clearly mark that it is protecting a tree so that the fence and the tree don’t get disturbed during construction. A general rule of thumb for correct placement of a tree protection fence or barrier is 1 foot away from the trunk for every inch of trunk diameter. For example, a tree with an 8-inch diameter — measured at chest height — would need a protection fence that circles around the tree with at least an 8-foot radius. The center of the circle is the trunk.

Shown: A required chain-link fence with clear signage safeguards a young oak tree planted in a public right of way between the sidewalk and street.

Mediterranean Exterior by Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc.

Griffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc.

You should consult a professional if you need help with preserving and protecting mature trees. A certified arborist or a landscape architect can assist with surveying tree health, measuring trunk sizes and creating a tree protection plan for your trees during construction. A professional consultant is especially helpful if you have an expansive property, a mix of many tree species or a large number of mature trees. With the right planning, your trees will make it through the construction and continue to thrive.

Falon Mihalic – Houzz contributor  January 22, 2016


Posted on November 21, 2016 at 11:24 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

New Looks With Classic Subway Styles

Six 6 Eye-popping Takes on This Traditional Tile

We’ve seen subway tiles hung in herringbone and chevron patterns, stacked with straight grout lines and in fetching colors. But wait, there’s more. How about a tetris-like layout or a coursing pattern that mimics a textile weave? Those are just some of the emerging ways of working with the classic shape. Subway tiles are easy to find and versatile, which makes them a go-to choice, architect Zuzanna Krykorka says. Here are a few of the interesting ways to use them.
Posted on October 19, 2016 at 5:18 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

Fire-Wise Landscapes Keep Your Home and Property Beautiful and Safe

Firescaping incorporates the design of the landscape and property surrounding a home to lessen its susceptibility to fire. This can be achieved through a well-thought-out landscape design plan that specifies less combustible plants, incorporates fire-resistant materials and follows the advice and guidelines determined by fire-safe organizations.

In this article I’ve identified several landscape design strategies as well as some of the guidelines I’ve gathered from various professionals and fire-safe organizations in California. These methods will help keep your property and home safe without having to sacrifice having a beautiful and thriving landscape. For specific guidelines in your area, please refer to your state, county or local fire safety organizations.

Eileen Kelly, Houzz contributor   October 7, 2016
Posted on October 9, 2016 at 5:16 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

6 Questions to Answer Before You Install Tile Flooring


Considering these things BEFORE tackling your floors can get you a better result:


Gearing up for tile floors? Don’t hammer away just yet. It’s important to plan for every little detail, including what you’re going to do with your baseboards and whether the tile you selected is suitable for children and pets. Make sure you answer these six questions before you get started on your tile installation.

Modern Hall by Martha Angus Inc.

Martha Angus, Inc. 

1. Are you keeping your baseboards?

Yes: Consider whether or not you want to remove your baseboards before installing your tile. Most, if not all, flooring types require a small gap between the edge of the floor and the wall to allow room for movement. If you don’t remove your baseboards, that gap must be covered with quarter round (a convex molding whose cross section is a quarterof a circle), which will affect the trim’s aesthetics.

No: You won’t need any quarter round if you install new baseboards after your tile has been installed. This ensures a clean aesthetic and is the preferred method of many professionals.


Traditional Exterior by David Edrington, Architect

David Edrington, Architect

2. Do you have foundation problems?

Yes: Think twice before you install tile. If your foundation is shifting, your tile will too. This can lead to cracks and breaks that cost money to repair and aren’t a pleasant sight. Softer, more flexible floors like vinyl or laminate will handle foundation movement better than a hard surface like tile. You won’t have to reinvest in new floors years down the road. 

No: You’re in the clear. You shouldn’t have any issues with tile breaking or cracking, at least none that are due to foundation problems.


Midcentury Entry by Ikaria Living

Ikaria Living

3. Are you installing tile on a second floor or in a home with a pier-and-beam construction?

Yes: Tile requires a waterproof subfloor when it’s installed on top of wood surfaces. Why? When wood gets wet, it swells. If it swells and has tile installed directly on top of its surface, your tile will break or crack. You’ll need to install cement board to ensure that this doesn’t happen. If you’re tiling a large area, installation costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re paying a pro. 

No: You probably won’t need a subfloor. Added expenses to your tile installation will include grout, thinset, baseboards, quarter round and so on.


Traditional Dining Room by Oak Hill Architects

Oak Hill Architects

4. Are you planning to paint?

Yes: This one’s up for debate. On the one hand, you may want to roll out the new flooring before you paint. Some pros say it’s a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about splattering paint all over new floors. On the other hand, it’s possible that your walls will have a few nicks after the flooring is installed, and they’ll definitely get a little dirty. Some pros prefer to paint over any blemishes that happen during installation. 

No: Keep in mind that things get dusty when you demolish old floors. You may want to have a plan for touch-ups should something happen to your walls.


Modern Staircase by BANUCHASTUDIO

Banucha Studio

5. Are you planning to refinish your staircase with your new flooring?

Yes: The most important thing about tiling a staircase is figuring out how you’re going to finish the edges of your steps. Tile rarely, if ever, has a matching stairnose piece available, so that leaves bullnose (a piece of tile with a small rounded edge), an unfinished edge or a metal finishing piece such as Schluterstrip as your main options. 

Metal finishing pieces can add an industrial, rustic or modern feel to your home depending on the finish, but they can stand out and may feel too commercial. Bullnose and unfinished edges will blend better with the rest of your tile. Unfinished edges can be sharp, however. Bullnose is a more traditional way to finish tile edges; some homeowners will want something more modern for their household. 

No: You’re not necessarily off the hook yet. Keep an eye out for step-downs into mudrooms or living rooms. You’ll still need to decide how you want to finish these edges.

Victorian Entry by LDa Architecture & Interiors

LDa Architecture & Interiors

If you’re set on tile but want something more elegant for your staircase, there are a couple of options. One is to find a wood or vinyl that coordinates with your tile. These flooring types often have matching stair treads and stairnose pieces, which will give your staircase a more polished look.

Victorian Hall by Herbeau - Winckelmans Tiles - Line Art Vanities

Herbeau-Winckelmans Tiles

You can also carpet your staircase. Although it won’t have the durability of tile, vinyl and hardwood, it’s softer on your feet and can be more affordable depending on the style you select.


Transitional Kids by Lucy Interior Design

Lucy Interior Design

6. Do you have kids or pets?

Yes: Take a look at color-body and through-body porcelain tile. Although they’re slightly different (through-body porcelain is unglazed, while color-body has a glaze), each ensures a little extra scratch resistance by having a color or glaze that runs throughout the tile’s body. In other words, if it scratches, you’re not going to see a noticeable mark. These tiles are well-equipped to survive foot and paw prints. 

No: Whether your tile is color-body or through-body is less important. You’re in good hands with a porcelain or ceramic tile. Both are hard surfaces that offer better scratch resistance than hardwood and laminate floors.


Sam Ferris – Houzz contributor   September 10, 2016


Posted on September 12, 2016 at 6:54 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS

Honey, I Shrunk the Lawn!

With the American house growing — by some 50 percent over the last four decades — and lot sizes shrinking (by 13 percent over the comparable period), something has had to give. According to CityLab.com, that would be the lawn. It's 26 percent smaller than it used to be. 

tiny lawnCityLab reports a variety of reasons for the receding green. First and foremost, predictably, Americans faced with a choice of a bigger house or a bigger lawn will choose the bigger house. Writer Andrew McGill also points to "a mix of drought-conscious environmentalism and shift in social mores" putting pressure on the space.

"Americans are voluntarily buying houses with smaller yards," McGill says. Reasons he considered but found not to pan out in his research included an increase in attached homes, but he found 90 percent of new homes sold in 2015 were detached, and regional availability of cramped lots, but most new houses are being built where there's plenty of room, across the South and the Great Plains.

The shrinking lawn becomes an "economic compromise," McGill explains, taking the size hit so buyers can have larger houses by making the difference up with lower land costs for smaller lots.



Posted on July 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home TIPS