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Home Improvement

  • Two of the top 10 items that define a civilized culture are access to clean water and effective sanitation. While few of us drink out of the toilet, the wonderful commode that we take for granted places us in the top 1 percent of the civilized world. Not only do 99.99 percent of the homes in America have a toilet, we have at least three or more. Not only do we have three or more, but our toilets are the smartest, most sophisticated toilets in the world. They come with lids (an important factor if you live with flies that spread dysentery) that open and close themselves, seats that are heated, bidets that take care of the dirty work, and they can even come with stereo surround sound for our added enjoyment. Our commodes on these lists will also use water as efficiently as possible, give us options about how much water to use, and some toilets can even recycle, sterilize and re-use the water depending on how efficient we want to be.
    February 05, 2016
  • When small or intricate objects need to be painted, there’s nothing that works better than a can of spray paint. Spray allows you to apply an even coat of paint to an object, without leaving tell-tale brush strokes. Available in a wide range of colors, spray paints make it easy to match decorative items to home decor, repair scratches and nicks in car finishes and provide quick and easy protection from the weather for items intended to be left outdoors. With spray paint, cleanup is minimal. There are no brushes or rollers to clean and no spray gun to take apart. The only actual cleaning needed is to turn the can upside-down for a moment and spray, allowing the propellant to clear out the nozzle, so that it doesn't clog. If that little step is forgotten, the can may not work the next time. One does need to watch out for overspray when using spray paint, just as they would with a large spray gun. The process of atomizing the paint tends to cause droplets to float around in the air, landing in places you may not want. For that reason, one needs to be careful about where they are spray painting, selecting a location where the overspray can’t damage anything. For small objects, a makeshift “spray booth” can be made out of a cardboard box. Due to the small nozzle size, spray paint is thinned considerably, making each coat extremely thin. If a thicker finish is needed, it is recommended to apply several coats. Most spray paints can be recoated within 30 minutes, making it easy to apply several coats. There are also a few high solids spray paints on the market, which build a thicker film per coat. For the best possible finish, spray in a back and forth pattern which starts and ends past the ends of the object. This will help prevent runs caused by excessive paint buildup at the ends of the object. You should also try and always keep the surface “wetted” so that the new paint is being laid down overlapping existing wet paint. This will help to eliminate the striped effect that is typical of poorly applied spray paint. Spray paint can also be buffed once dry, to help eliminate any sheen striping. Only buff it if several coats of paint have been applied, as buffing does remove some paint from the surface. Hand buffing is better, as you are less likely to buff though the paint film. One nice thing that is being done with some of the newer spray paints is multi-colored and textured paints. Both Krylon and Rust-Oleum, the two largest producers of spray paints, offer several different types of multi-colored and textured spray paints. These are excellent for use on surfaces that are not perfectly smooth or that have imperfections, as they hide those imperfections quite well. Paints of this type are not high gloss, which also helps to hide imperfections. When selecting spray paints, look at the price. Low cost spray paints are just that; low cost. They typically have lower solids, so will provide less coverage. This can be dealt with by applying more coats. A higher cost spray paint will generally be higher solids, providing a thicker film and better coverage. A few spray paints will actually cover in one coat.
    February 03, 2016
  • Everyone needs to paint their house from time to time, giving their home a fresh, clean look and protecting the home's materials from weather damage. A proper paint job is not only aesthetically pleasing, but an important part of a home's maintenance. Therefore, it's worth taking the time to do it right. The right paint can make a huge difference. Not all paints are created equal, either in quality or in purpose. When picking paint, you need to make sure it is not only of a high quality, but that it will work well with the substrate you've chosen. A poor choice in this regard will mean paint will peel off the home, long before you should be expecting any problems. However, picking the right paint can be tricky at best. Most people depend on the guy in the paint department to tell them what they need; however, you're better off having a good idea of what will work best for your situation, long before talking to him. Check out our buyer's guide for paints and learn the things you need to know in order to pick out the right paint for your paint job.
    February 03, 2016
  • The world of adhesive is vast and sprawling, but the king of the hill in has to be epoxy. There is a special kind of epoxy for every application from simple, wooden joinery to plugging leaks in boat hulls. Choose the right one and the end result will be a joint or repair that is both strong and astoundingly long lived.We've narrowed down our selections to the most commonly-encountered types of epoxy, though this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every type of epoxy that exists. Our recommendations take into consideration the overall effectiveness of each epoxy, value for money, availability both off- and online, user reviews, and personal experiences with each.The following categories are represented below:Best All-Purpose EpoxyBest Wood EpoxyBest Metal EpoxyBest Plastic EpoxyBest Putty EpoxyBest Waterproof EpoxyWhere applicable, we've included multiple recommendations for your convenience. All of the epoxies selected here are great products, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
    February 03, 2016
  • Glue is one of the essentials of any toolbox. When something minor breaks in your home or on the job site, the majority of the time a good adhesive is what you’ll need to repair it. Perhaps you’ll primarily use glue to work in your personal wood shop. What if you want a bottle of adhesive suited to fix your children’s toys? Then again, maybe you just need an all-purpose glue to work on a wide variety of different materials because who knows what you’re going to have to fix next. Read through our glue buyer’s guide below to help you make right purchasing decision.
    February 03, 2016
  • Of all the methods which have been devised for applying paint, nothing has approached the efficiency and finish quality of spraying. That’s why spraying paint is used throughout manufacturing industries, as well as being the number one means for applying paint to new residential and commercial construction. Granted, there are places where spraying isn’t always appropriate, such as the inside of a furnished house. In that case, the overspray from using the spray equipment would cause unacceptable damage to the furnishings. Another such case is for doing fine detail work. In those cases, a brush often can give better results, with less time invested, that what would be required to mask everything in order to paint those details with a sprayer. However, not all paint sprayers are appropriate for all uses. You must pick the right type of paint sprayer for the paint you are going to use, as well as the category of item that you are painting. Check out our buyer's guide below for more information on what type of paint sprayer to use for your job.
    February 03, 2016
  • Caulk is a sealant that's used to create weather and water tight seals in gaps around your home, like doors and windows or around bathroom fixtures. It's sometimes used like an adhesive as well for things like affixing a ceramic tile backsplash in your kitchen. The main thing you have to remember when looking to purchase caulk is to keep in mind what you want to use it for and where you want to use it. There are many different kinds of caulks and each are formulated for different uses. For instance, perhaps you need a caulk to use with the plumbing in your bathroom. In that case, you'd want to take a look at our tub & tile caulk list. Or maybe you need a good painter's caulk. In that event, you'd want to check out our best paintable caulk list. No matter what you need it for, we have a list for you to help you decide what product is best to buy.
    February 02, 2016
  • Selecting the right paint brush goes a long way towards ensuring a good paint job. Many people try to use cheap brushes and wonder why they have trouble keeping the paint application looking neat. Others try to use the same type of brush for every type of paint and find the finish doesn't come out smooth. Picking the right brush means taking a number of different aspects of the brush's design into consideration, the type of paint you are using, and what you are going to paint with it. If properly cared for, good paint brushes will last for years; I myself have some paint brushes I've used for well over 20 years. While I don't use every brush every day or even every week, they all get plenty of use. The trick to making brushes last is to buy good brushes and take proper care of them. The biggest thing is to avoid allowing the paint to settle into the ferrule as this is what usually ruins brushes. When you dip the brush, only dip about 1/2" to 1" of the tip of the bristles; this way you’re much less likely to get the paint into the ferrule. When you’re done, be sure to clean it thoroughly before storing. We've prepared a paintbrush buyer's guide below that will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of brush suited for the paint project you’re preparing for.
    February 02, 2016
  • If you are looking for a new kitchen faucet, then you are sure to find one here. These models were chosen because of their reputable national brand, their strong brass construction, and the unique features that they each have. You won’t have to scour the internet any further; these are the top of the line for residential kitchen pull down faucets. Easy to install, and easy to use, each one has their own unique capabilities including spray, shower, and even pause in one case.
    February 02, 2016
  • The shower head has been a stable fixture in the U.S. for more than 100 years. The origins date back to the pioneer days, when travelers would pour their precious water supplies through a metal tub that had small holes punched in it. The shower head is a good way to bathe, without using fountains of water at any one time. Over the years, the shower head has become very practical, featuring anti-clogging features, a variety of spray modes, and of course; hand held features. Below are just a few variations of shower heads, and will give you a little better idea of what is available on the market.
    February 02, 2016
  • The ache of a worn out knee is something that I would never wish upon anyone. If you talk to any old carpenter, there is a good chance that they will mention their aching knees before long and much of that pain is the result of floor work. The best way to prevent long term damage as well as offer some short term relief is to wear the right knee pads for the job. Knee pads come in many varieties and it is important to understand which one to use in each situation. If you are going to do a lot of work on gravel, concrete and other rough surfaces then I would suggest a set of hard capped knee pads that can stand up to the abuse and keep it off your knees. On the other hand, working on tile, soft stone or hardwood will call for a set with soft faces to prevent damaging the floor. Lastly, the actual shape of the cap can make a big difference in the performance and function of the knee pads so know your job before you go shopping and read these lists to get a good feel for what you're going to need.
    February 02, 2016
  • There are poems written about the texture of a tradesman's hands. After years of toil and work, they can become like leather gloves; able to endure a beating that would send the rest of us running for a bandage. For some it is a badge of honor. But, most of us would like to protect our hands from these ravages and the right set of work gloves will do that and more. What was once just a protective barrier between your fingers and the work has now expanded into a whole family of specialized gear with functions including electrical insulation, grip improvement, cut resistance, waterproofing, heat protection and many more. Whether you are working in the garden, welding a shelf together or hand carving the finishing touches on a cabinet, slipping on a pair of gloves designed for the job will make everything easier and safer. I've torn through my fair share of gloves and now I’m putting my beaten hands to good work writing these lists and reviews to help get your hands in the right pair.
    February 02, 2016
  • One of the things that define a civilized society is its supply of clean, potable water. In the United States, we use more water than any other nation, and we use it in more ways than any other nation. Heating water for bathing is almost unheard of in most countries, so remember not to take this for granted the next time you bathe. The energy used to heat enough water for a typical family of four accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home's energy budget. Deciding what type of energy used to heat your water, and what mode of heating you chose, is very important as it will play a very large role in your day to day life. There are only a few sources of energy used here, namely electric, gas, oil, and solar. Depending on where you live and how much hot water you consume, these things will dictate how to store your hot water, and what style of hot water heater you should use. You can have the traditional hot water tank that holds 30 to 80 gallons of water, maintained at a constant temperature, ready to use when you need it. Or you may opt for the newer tankless hot water heater that runs water through a heating element it as you need it. This is far more energy efficient than traditional tanks as it only uses energy when you make a draw on the water. Since the tankless hot water heaters don’t have to maintain a hot water tank, when not in use, tankless hot water heaters will consume no energy at all. If you live in a very sunny area of the country, you might opt for a solar hot water heating system that is a combination of both. Insulated tubing sits on the roof of your home, being heated by the sun. Once it reaches a certain temperature, it is then pumped down to a tank that will store this hot water ready for use. Because these solar panels sit in the sun all day, they are also generating enough electrical energy to circulate the water, and run the pumps that allow it all to function. If your conditions are right, these can be a very good source of hot water all year long. Learning all you can about hot water heaters, and discovering all the choices you have is a great way to help make this decision. Please consider, whatever you purchase, you will probably live with it for the next 30 years, or more.
    February 02, 2016
  • Although there are many different species of mice, the ones primarily targeted by mouse traps, are the common house mouse and both the deer mouse and white footed mouse. House mice are most often found in city dwellings, while the deer and white footed are generally found in suburban areas. If given the opportunity, all of these species of mice will invade a home and can potentially become a serious problem.While mouse traps may be effective over the short run, if a mouse population has become established in your house or home, the chances are that trapping alone may not cure the problem. But they’re a start, and if kept baited and active at all times, they’ll take care of the overly curious mouse looking for a new place to live before it can settle in. Modern mouse traps are designed to be effective and user friendly. There are several types which work effectively, including live traps, automatic types, and even newer electronic options. You can get a better idea of these different trap types and which might be best suited for your situation by reading through our mouse trap buyer’s guide provided below.
    June 01, 2015
  • The words "rat infestation" conjures up thoughts of the middle ages, the black plague, vermin and the Pied Piper. Rats are no laughing matter, spreading disease as they go, as they have colonized virtually every part of the earth by hitching a ride on the vehicles that humans have used to explore the earth, particularly seafaring vessels.    Rat traps have been around as long as there have been rats, and no trap is ever going to be 100% effective at eliminating a rat problem. Unless rats are trapped out early before they colonize an area, you'll never catch every rat because they will eventually figure out what a trap means, and they will avoid it at all costs. You can check out the rat trap buyer's guide listed below for more information on the traps themselves to determine which type is best for you.  
    May 29, 2015
  • Most fire extinguishers simply sit around gathering dust for years on end, resulting in people forgetting to check them and sometimes even dismissing the importance of having them in the home. However, in the moments when you do actually need one, it will be essential to have on hand. Fire extinguishers suitable for home and office use are rarely anywhere close to being as durable as those used by professionals, but nonetheless it’s important to stay away from cheap models.We've chosen to focus on fire extinguishers best for multipurpose home use, with a minimum of Class A, B, and C certifications. Class A fire extinguishers are rated for ordinary combustibles such as trash, wood, paper, and clothes, B are for liquids and gases (including paints), while C is for electrical fires. They also all have a pressure gauge for quick status checks ensuring the fire extinguisher is always ready for use.ABC fire extinguishers are the most common for residential use with other types available for more heavy duty or specific needs. Although the smaller and cheaper models are useful to have around, it's always a good idea to also have a large fire extinguisher as well. Please note, none of our picks are for fighting large fires, and you should never attempt to fight a large fire by yourself. However, for putting out small fires that have just started, all of the following fire extinguishers will perform reliably.
    April 27, 2015
  • A wood sealant/finisher is a coating that's used on wood to seal it. They're used to provide a level of protection from scratches, minor dents, water, etc. In my experience, sealants are most popular for outdoor application on decks, fences, playground equipment and the like. However, some sealers are also used on woods found indoors, like floors or furniture. For the purposes of this article, I will include some of both. As mentioned above, sealants are designed to offer protection. So, every sealant I have included below offers protection against at least water (most offer protection against other things as well), which can be quite damaging to wood. Additionally, over application of finisher is not good for wood. It can absorb too much and mess up the wood you're working on. To help combat this problem, each of the sealants below are applied in very few coats (most take two). This makes your job a lot easier. Finally, every one of the sealants I put on this list are in liquid form, as opposed to those that come in an aerosol can. That's not because aerosol sealants are necessarily bad (I have used them on occasion), but to keep uniformity among the sealants listed below.
    March 19, 2015
  • Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas which is colorless and odorless. In most fatal home fires, it’s carbon monoxide which kills victims long before they succumb to smoke inhalation or are burned by the fire. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, making it difficult to detect by symptoms alone. These symptoms can include a dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and chest pain. Since most people are more familiar with the flu than with CO2 poisoning, they assume their symptoms are flu-related, prolonging their exposure to the gas making them sick; this can be a fatal error. Unlike smoke, which is fatal if the concentration in the air is high enough, carbon monoxide usually builds up in the system over time. One can get carbon monoxide poisoning from either a low concentration of carbon monoxide over a long period of time or a high concentration over a short period of time. Therefore, carbon monoxide detectors need to determine the average level of carbon monoxide in the environment over time, determining if it is high enough to cause problems. Smoke detectors don't detect carbon monoxide. If you have a smokeless fire going or a contained fire, it’s possible for carbon monoxide levels to reach fatal levels without a smoke detector going off. This could also occur with vehicle exhaust, a leaky furnace or an improperly vented hot water heater for example. Ideally, you should have both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your home. A minimum of one per floor is recommended, with additional detectors installed in bedrooms. Although this make for a lot of detectors, it provides the best protection for your family. Having a detector go off in the basement, when everyone is asleep on the second floor of the house doesn't help anyone. Carbon monoxide detectors can run off of your house current, battery or a combination of the two. In the cases where a detector uses both, the battery serves as a power backup for the AC house current. That way, you’re always guaranteed a working detector, even in a power outage nor worry about the battery dying at the wrong time. The best carbon monoxide detectors are now using Lithium-Ion batteries for prolonged battery life and they’ll also have a test button-like a smoke detector. Some models are now made so several units can be interconnected with one another; if one alarm goes off, it will alert and activate the others in your home.
    January 08, 2015
  • Ever since mankind started building structures to live in, there’s been a need for some way for visitors to announce their arrival. In early times, they would stand outside the gate and yell at the house, letting the occupants know they were there. Later, someone came up with the idea of hanging a rock by a cord, creating the first door knocker. While crude, it was somewhat effective. This eventually gave way to a small brass bell, which could be rung by pulling on a cord. Once electricity became commonly available, more and more things around the home became powered by electricity, including the doorbell. It was easier for the people inside to hear a bell or buzzer inside the home, than it was for them to hear one that was outside. As electronics advanced, so did doorbells, with manufacturers adding innovations such as multi-note chimes that could play a popular tune and the ability to have different chimes for front and back doors, to identify which door the visitor is at. The latest step in the evolution of the doorbell has been the development of wireless doorbells. With everything else going wireless these days, the idea of having a doorbell that is wireless makes sense. One nice thing about wireless doorbells is they’re much easier to install than their wired cousins. While running the wiring for a doorbell isn't all that bad when you're building a house, once you've got the drywall on the walls, it becomes all but impossible. The wireless doorbell solves this problem, as it doesn't need wiring for anything, allowing it to be hung wherever it will provide the best service. Another nice thing about wireless doorbells, which most people don't realize, is that you can use multiple receivers (the bell part) with one transmitter (the button part). That's a great advantage for people who have larger homes or some sort of workshop out back. You can add as many receivers as necessary to make sure that you will hear the doorbell wherever you are. While all of these doorbells are wireless and they all perform the same function, there are some differences between them. Their effective range, number of tones you can choose between and the quality of the tone varies a lot between different models. You will also find that some actually allow you to load ringtones, just like you can for your cell phone.
    September 05, 2014
  • Not all that many years ago, garage door openers were something just for the affluent, people who could afford to have someone wash their cars and clean their houses for them. That's all changed because these days a new home isn't considered complete if it doesn't have an automatic garage door opener installed in it. I'll have to say, garage door openers are a great convenience,  at least for those who keep a car in their garage. My garage is my workshop, so about the only way my cars see the inside of it, is looking through the door. But if you can actually park your car inside your garage, then you'll appreciate being able to open the door at the push of a button, especially if it’s raining or snowing out. Garage door openers are actually fairly simple devices. A geared motor is connected to a drive, which is in turn connected to the garage door. When the button is pushed, power is applied, the motor turns, lifting the garage door. Once the door is lifted all the way, a sensor tells the motor that it's time to turn off. Closing the door is just the opposite. Older garage door openers used a chain, similar to a bicycle chain, as the drive. This made for noisy garage door openers. While these still exist, many of todays "quiet" garage door openers use a rubber belt instead. There are even a few that use a screw thread to transmit the motor's power to the door. When selecting a garage door opener, the first thing to look at is the motor's size. Consumer garage door openers come with motors ranging from 1/2 HP to 1-1/4 HP. A 1/2 HP garage door opener will manage to open a single garage door just fine, but really doesn't have enough power for a double door. For that, you'll need a 3/4 HP unit. If that double door is made of wood or the design is heavier than the typical aluminum garage door, a 1 HP unit should probably be used. Most garage door openers come with three controllers; two for use in the car and a simple push-button switch to mount inside the garage. Some have a little more complex controller for inside the garage, as well as a keypad to allow you to open the door from the outside. This addition makes it possible for the kids to put their bikes in the garage; right in your way for when you want to park the car. The latest control they are starting to make for these is one where you can control it from your smart phone. A few models are now coming out with battery backup systems installed in the unit allowing you to open the garage door, even if there is a power outage. It’s a much better option than the old emergency system of a rope disconnect for the drive. Speaking of that disconnect, make sure that you take the plastic handle off of it. Thieves have learned that they can use that disconnect to open the garage door. All they have to do is put a wire with a hook on it (like a clothes hanger) through the crack at the top of the door and snag the release, opening it. If the handle is removed, they can't snag the cable and open the door, but you can still use the disconnect, if you need to open the door manually.
    September 04, 2014
  • The slowest part of any woodworking project is finishing it. You might be able to put something together quickly, but once it's all put together you've got to slow down in order to make it come out good. Sanding, painting, staining and varnishing all take time and care if you want your project to come out good. There are two basic ways of finishing any woodworking project meaning how you paint or varnish it. Typically, when varnish is used the piece is stained before varnishing. This allows you to adjust the final color as well as bringing out the natural beauty of the wood's grain. Across the myriad of different types of wood we find grains of all types and colors. Some are bold and obvious, while others are so subtle as to seem almost hidden, yet all woodworkers agree the grain of the wood is what makes it beautiful. Enhancing that grain and making it stand out can add a lot to any woodworking project. While varnish will make wood grains stand out to some extent, they can't do so to the extent that wood stain can. The stain will darken the dark parts of the grain more than the light parts, increasing the contrast between the two adding a lot to the woods character. Additionally, stains are used to change the color of the wood, making less expensive woods take on the appearance of pricier ones. Pine can be made to imitate oak, cherry or walnut, just by applying a little bit of stain. A test piece should always be done before staining a project as the porosity and dryness of the wood will have a huge impact on how much stain it absorbs. Since absorbing more stain makes the piece darker, you'll want to know how much stain to apply in order to get the results you are looking for. Remember, the varnish will darken it a little more, over and above what the stain does. Wood stains are available as both oil-based and water-based finishes. Traditionally, they have always been oil-based. However, with the EPA pressuring paint companies to lower the VOCs of their products, more and more companies are experimenting with water-based stains. It's hard to tell a stain's quality by looking at the label or even by using it once. Typically, it takes quite a bit of experience working with a particular brand of stain to know exactly how to work with it and how good it is. When shopping, it's a good idea to pay a lot of attention to the reputation of the products you are looking at. Higher quality products will usually provide a richer, more even finish than cheaper ones will.
    September 04, 2014
  • Good paint brushes will provide excellent service for years, that is, if they’re properly taken care of. Proper cleaning and wrapping of a brush is an essential part of making sure that it will be usable for the next several years; but not everyone cleans their brushes properly. Granted, having to stop basking in the joy of just having finished an interior decorating project, to clean your brushes isn't exactly something to bring joy to the heart. Many people put off cleaning their brushes but unfortunately, the longer you put it off, the harder those brushes are to clean. Leave them sitting long enough and they hard as a rock. Modern acrylic/latex paints are much easier to clean out of paint brushes than oil-based paints are. All that's required most of the time is some warm water and a little bit of dish soap. But if the brush has been dipped too far into the paint, allowed to sit with paint in it or used in a hot environment  where paint hardens quickly, they can be extremely hard to clean. In those cases, a brush cleaner may be needed. The problem isn't usually the paint that's on the ends of the bristles or even the paint which hardens on the outside of them. Rather, it's the paint that works its way up into the center of the bristles, close to the ferrule that holds the bristles and handle together. When this paint hardens, it eliminates the bristles' flexibility making it very easy for them to break. Even brushes with paint hardened up close to the ferrule can be salvaged, if one has the patience to work with them. Brush cleaners will soften that paint, allowing it to be cleaned out. Since the bristles are packed so close together, cleaning out that softened paint takes time, working them with a brush comb. As the brush comb pulls out the softened paint, the bristles will become more pliable. Once all the paint is pulled out (which takes quite a bit of work) the bristles can be cleaned with soap and warm water to remove the chemical cleaner. Not all chemical cleaners are created equal. Some clearly work better than others and some are limited in the types of paint they will work with. It's important to know what type of paint the brush has in it, before selecting a cleaner. Professional painters use different types of brushes for different types of paint, so this identification is easy for them. Most homeowners attempt to use the same type of brush for everything, so you'll have to look at the paint can labels to find out what type of paint you used. After cleaning any paint brush, it should be wrapped in the original wrapper, so that it can maintain a good shape. High quality brushes come with wrappers which are designed to be reusable for this very reason. If you don't have the original wrapper, you can wrap them instead in newspapers, being careful to shape the bristles correctly to form a nice wedge.
    August 28, 2014
  • Duct tape is the number one repair material for a wide variety of situations. The combination of strength, adhesion and ease of use duct tape offers has made it literally the tape of 1,000 uses. It has been used for everything including patching clothes, patching wounds, building a cardboard fort for kids to play in and even building suspension bridges. This product has literally become an American icon in the century it has existed. The very first thing that could be called duck tape was strips of duck cloth which were wrapped around the steel suspension cables for the Brooklyn Bridge. By 1910, those strips of duck cloth were coming with adhesive on one side, making it into what we know as duct tape. During World War II, a number of uses were discovered for this “miracle material”. Tape was still a relatively new invention, so people were experimenting with it all over. Johnson & Johnson made an adhesive version of duct tape for use in sealing ammo cans against moisture. One requirement of the tape was that it could be ripped by hand, rather than needing to be cut. Soon thereafter, soldiers in the field started finding a number of ways of using this great tape, including for binding up the wounded. The duck tape name, prompted by the material that it was made from, stuck around until the 1950s, when it started being used for wrapping air ducts in HVAC systems. The silver-grey color of the tape blended ideally with the ductwork and soon heat and cold resistant versions were on the market. Since the workers who make the ductwork were known as tin knockers, the tape became known as tin knocker tape. Later this was changed to duct tape. Duct tape is  a cloth tape coated on one side to make it waterproof with the opposite side coated with a heavy layer of strong adhesive which will stick to just about anything. Besides this, the tape can be ripped straight by hand, either longitudinally or crosswise, making it easy to use without scissors or a knife. Today's duct tape comes in a wide variety of colors and printed patterns. The colors allow you to blend it in with the surface to which it is attached, making the repair job less visible. Not only is it used for repairing just about anything, but it is decorative as well. You can find it printed in your favorite team logo and colors as well as a number of other whimsical patterns. When choosing a duct tape, the two most important characteristics are the adhesion and the physical strength. Most duct tape backing fabric is still very similar to the original duck cloth, so you don't really see a lot of difference in that regard. The adhesive, on the other hand, can vary greatly; with high quality tapes having much more adhesion than the lesser expensive ones, a major factor I've used in selecting the tapes on this list. Keep in mind that regardless of the color shown, most of these brands produce a variety of colors. That's especially true of the "Duck" brand of tape, which has more colors and patterns than anyone. Several of these manufacturers also produce a duct tape that's 2.88 inches wide, for those applications where you need extra width.
    August 21, 2014
  • Smoke detectors are an essential part of any household and frequently mandated by law to be included in rental properties. Although many people associate smoke alarms with cheap units that go off way too often (especially if things go awry in the kitchen) modern alarms are generally sophisticated enough to tell when there's a real threat, reducing the amount of nuisance alarms.Alarms can vary quite widely in their performance and price, with higher-priced models often including detection for both smoke and carbon monoxide, as well as the ability to network alarms together for a more comprehensive household alarm system. These best smoke detectors incorporate both audio and visual alarms, as well as the ability to detect smoldering fires, full flames, and carbon monoxide. They are also easy to install and test, while including a mute button to quickly handle any false alarms. Not all of our picks detect multiple types of threats due but all offer the reliable ability to detect a fire threat.
    August 01, 2014
  • Toilet seats come in all shapes and sizes, but when you get down to it, they are either elongated bowls, or round bowls. All the accessories that come with them can be purchased at your discretion. As in the case of automatically opening seats, found on medicinal toilet seats, you will need a dedicated line of power to get them to perform correctly, but any licensed electrician will be able to help you here. Apart from your budget, and what kind of features you like in the bathroom, there are plenty of choices out here for you. This list is just a broad introduction.
    July 16, 2014
  • The way you use your thermostat directly effects the amount of money you spend on energy, so choosing the right thermostat to control your heating and cooling system can save you up to 33 percent on your heating and cooling cost, placing that money right back into your wallet. A thermostat you can manually program to fit your family’s schedule saves energy, and you no longer have to remember to adjust the temperature before you leave home, and should you chose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can make those adjustments on the go. Whether you choose a WI-Fi or manually programmable thermostat, these lists give you all the information you need to make the best decision for your home and lifestyle.
    July 09, 2014
  • We all need to take extra care to ensure proper eye safety while working because it only takes a single speck of dust scratched across the cornea for a free trip to the emergency room. Unfortunately, many people seem to believe wearing regular glasses/sunglasses will be enough to protect them while in the shop but this is far from the truth.The first factor to consider when buying safety glasses is the strength of the lenses. All of the best safety glasses we’ve included below utilize ANSI rated lenses so you can wear them confidently knowing they’ll offer real protection when needed. Next, we considered area of coverage with the safety glasses presented here wrapping around your eyes to protect them from stray particles and not just those coming straight at your face. Lastly, we’ve listed pairs which are durable and will stand up to repeated use and wear. If lenses on a pair of safety glasses are easy to scratch then you aren't going to be able to see your work clearly, which is very unsafe. Similarly, it doesn't matter if the lens can take a beating if the frames fall apart, so buying quality safety glasses like these from the start makes a big difference.
    June 16, 2014
  • A flea fogger is essentially another name for a fumigation device. It releases a massive amount of insecticide into a room that saturates the air completely. By this action, virtually every nook, cranny and crevice becomes inundated with pesticide particles, turning the entire fogged area into a toxic unlivable space.In general terms, using a flea fogger should really only be applied as a last ditch method when flea infestation is so severe that other methods of control don't work. Extreme caution must be used when fogging, such as, all pilot lights and open flames must be extinguished, the entire room and/or household must be evacuated for up to 4 hours, and the entire premises must be aired out after returning.All flea foggers on this list will be effective, when used according to their label directions. Price will be no object, since effectiveness is the prime reason for using one, and the best flea fogger will work be effective immediately and have strong residual results to keep on killing long after the fogger has been employed.
    March 24, 2014
  • In many cases, spiders are beneficial insects that will help control other insect problems like flies, mosquitoes, roaches and other pests. But spiders can become pests too, especially black widows and brown recluse spiders that can give a painful bite when disturbed. When spiders become a problem, you'll need a good spider killing spray to deal with them. Although catch and release is the best way to deal with spiders, it isn't practical in all cases, so using a spider killer may be the best solution.Every spider killer on this list will be effective, but the best one will be the safest to use, be readily biodegradable, made with natural ingredients and it will also be the best bang for the buck deal here. As always, wear a face mask and rubber gloves when using any of these products.
    March 21, 2014
  • Moths are not the problem they used to be, but they can still be a nuisance under the right circumstances. The types that is targeted with moth traps are both clothing moths or pantry meal worm moths. Clothing moths are attracted to natural clothing fibers, like cotton, fur, hair, silk and felt, to name a few, where they will lay their eggs. Pantry moths are attracted to wheat and flour sources. In both cases, it is the larvae that do the damage, since they feast on the natural fibers that clothing is made of, or the raw flour particles from grains and wheats.The advent of synthetic fibers have been one of the largest deterrents to moth infestation in closets and storage trunks, since there is no nutritional value for the larvae. Likewise, sealable containers have replaced paper and burlap storage for flour, so moths cannot get at a food source and lay their eggs. But in any closet or pantry, there may be an opening for moth infestation, and that is where moth traps become valuable for eradication.The top rated trap will be the most effective, safest and easiest to use, and price will be no object. All of these traps will be effective in controlling moths, with safety and ease of use in every situation, from pantries to closets.
    March 20, 2014