How to transform your kitchen with quartz countertop overlays

A New Worktop Will Do Wonders for Your Kitchen!

Your kitchen worktops are subjected to a great deal. From spills and stains, to scratches and dents. After a number of years, your kitchen countertop is most probably looking worse for wear, and it is negatively affecting the look of your kitchen. Some stains may be impossible to remove, and there may be various faults with the countertop that cannot be hidden. Chances are that your kitchen carcass, drawers and cupboard doors, are still in a good condition, but you have ended up hating your kitchen because you cannot use your cheap laminate countertops anymore. So, why don’t you opt for countertop overlays? It is virtually mess free, and it is definitely much easier and more affordable to opt for this method rather than replacing your kitchen. Besides, you can give your kitchen a completely new look by installing countertop overlays. You will be amazed at the huge difference it would make.

A Team Manufactures & Checks a Sheet of Quartz. Image credit: Hanwha

Quartz countertop overlays are among the best options. Quartz is basically a high quality and very durable type of man-made fabricated stone which is constructed from quartz minerals, resins, polymers and pigments. It is the kind of material that will last a long time, and despite being very aesthetically pleasing it is actually very practical for a kitchen worktop. This is because it is really easy to care for it. Simply giving it a quick wipe with a neutral cleaner will have it look its best. It is also very hygienic since it has a practically perfectly smooth surface. So you will not have any germs hiding away on it. Quartz is also very scratch resistant and so it will be able to maintain its original look for years to come. There are lots of colours to choose from, and so you will be able to complement your kitchen countertop overlays with your kitchen cupboards and any other decor. Besides, it has a timeless look, which goes well with both traditional as well as modern kitchen styles.

Another great advantage with installing quartz countertop overlays is that since it is easy to install, you will be able to get a speedy kitchen refurbishment. The quartz countertop overlays will be installed directly over your current countertop. Overlays are thus quick and easy, as long as the job is done by a professional person. The quartz overlays will basically be pre-cast slabs cut in the required size to fit properly onto your kitchen countertop, while trying to minimise seams as much as possible. The trickiest parts are generally around the sink and hob, and at any corners, but a professional installer will be able to see to this. The only requirement for this method of giving your kitchen a facelift is that you will need to make sure that the current countertop is strong and stable enough to sustain the weight of the countertop overlays.

Quartz Overlays Fit Snuggly Over the Existing Surface. Image credit: Quartz Lite

Quartz countertop overlays are by far one of the most economical ways to achieving stunning kitchen makeovers and is easy, affordable and environmentally friendly. So it is definitely a practical solution if you would like to give your kitchen a new look without going through considerable expenses and effort.

What’s a Conveyancing Solicitor & What They Do

The process of transferring a property from the seller to the buyer is referred to as the conveyancing process. There are various factors that come into play during this phase, as well as certain tasks that will need to be seen to. This is after all a legal process, and you need to make sure that everything is being done according to the law so as to avoid any problems later on. Therefore the service of a conveyancing solicitor is of the essence.

Many Home Owners Now Sell Their Properties Themselves. Image credit: FreeImages.com

In the UK, a conveyancer is a qualified solicitor who has specialised in the field of real estate transfers in his or her practice. The conveyancing solicitor will be handling the conveyancing process on your behalf, and so thanks to their expertise you would not need to worry about any of the technicalities and intricacies related to this legal process. The conveyancing solicitor will be handling the legal as well as the financial matters that revolve around this phase. For instance, there will be the title transfer to see to, as well as the settlement of obligations relating to the transactions. The conveyancing solicitor will also be overseeing that throughout this process the client’s rights are being duly safeguarded. Needless to say there are going to be instances where one of the parties does not keep their original promise, or there could be certain negotiations. Therefore having a conveyancing solicitor to assist you is of great help to avoid any problems or complications.

It is important to point out that, unlike what most people think, conveyancing is not just a single and straightforward transaction so that the property passes from the seller to the buyer. There are several parties involved in reality, including the banks who could be lending to both the seller and the buyer, the insurers, any agents, tenants, and the local authorities who may come into play. So, with all of these individuals or entities to handle, the transaction becomes more complicated and complex, and a conveyancing solicitor will be basically overseeing all of this and make your life much simpler. Therefore getting the right conveyancing solicitor’s service is very important, and one should seek such assistance as soon as the decision to buy a property, or to sell has been made.

Your Estate Agent Will Give You The Keys Once The Property Has Exchanged. Image credit: Huffington Post

The conveyancing solicitor will be ensuring that the ownership of the property is seen to properly from start to finish, and this includes the registration of the said property into the buyer’s name via a title document. This is a critical legal process which guarantees that the lawful ownership of the property in question is being obtained, and there will need to be a deed of transfer drawn up, as well as registered, every time a property is sold. Thus the role of a conveyancing solicitor is not only of importance, but also of peace of mind to a client, who may rest assured that everything is being handled well, and as much as possible, without delays and complications. The conveyancing solicitor will be dealing with the various parties involved in the sale of the property, see to the documentation, signatures and any other aspects which will be central in the completion of this important transaction to execute it fully and lawfully.

Sky HD Box Stuck on Standby? Here’s How to Fix It

Has your Sky TV box got stuck on standby? Is it displaying a red light that keeps flickering? Here is what you should do to fix this problem.

The Sky HD Set-Top Box is Prone to Freezing Up. Image credit: T3

If you have a Sky TV HD box you will need to follow these steps:

You will first need to check if the problem is a result of your remote or the box itself. So, first press the ‘Sky’ button on your remote control. A green light should display on the Sky HD box. Check the menus so as to see of there are usual TV channels. If you are not able to do so as the standby light remained red, then it is evident that the Sky HD box is not responding to the remote’s commands. You should also press the Standby button on the box, and in case it remains red, then the issue is clearly with the box itself. On the other hand, if the standby light of the box turned green, then the issue is with the remote control.

You need to restart the Sky HD box. First switch it off at the mains. It is also best to disconnect any other devices. Check the power light on the front panel of the box and that of your TV and any other devices to make sure everything is powered off, and then switch everything back on at the mains. Wait three minutes and then press the Sky’ button on the remote control. If the light on the front panel is green you are done. If it is red, then you will need to proceed to the next step.

You need to download the Sky HD box software at this point. Make sure to allow it to take its time and during this process you should neither watch Sky TV nor turn off the box. It takes about 5-10 minutes to download it. and this is how to do it.

The Sky HD Remote Has Many Functions. Image credit: Astra 2 Sat

First switch off the box and all devices at the mains. Then, press the backup button which is on the front panel of the Sky HD box. Keep holding it and simultaneously switch on the box at the mains. It is important to do this at the same time and keep holding the backup button pressed for up to 30 seconds until all the four lights located on the front panel of the box light up. At this point you may release it as your box is now in download mode. You may reconnect the other devices and on your TV you may see an Updating System Software message displayed.

Once the download is completed, the box will switch off by itself and display a single red light. Allow at least three minutes to pass, and then press the Sky button on the remote control. If everything went well then a green light should illuminate on the front of your Sky HD box.  In case the four lights do not appear there could be a fault in the box and in that case you should call to schedule a visit by a qualified engineer or worse case scenario, you could decide to replace the box and buy a Sky HD box from a reputable supplier instead.

How to choose the right interior designer for your home

Choosing an interior designer is a very important decision as this will ultimately have a lasting effect on how your home looks. Be it a new home, or a remodeling project, you need to make sure that the interior designer that you hire really understands what your preferences are. He or she will need to come up with ideas that will match your needs and preferences, and at the same time, stick to your budget. So let’s go over some key points that should make your choice easier and ideal.

Getting the Foundations Right Will Make for a Successful Refurbishment. Image credit: Homebuilding & Renovating

1. First of all you need to have at least some idea of what you are expecting. Some people leave it all in the hands of the interior designer, and in such a case there is a good chance that they will not be totally happy with the result. You should identify your preferred style and based on that you can then start to research interior designers who seem to specialize more in that particular style.

2. Do not call the first interior designer you find. Spend some time looking over reviews of the best interior designers so as to see what people had to say about different interior designers. Also, go over their portfolios so as to get a good idea of what they are capable of. When looking at portfolios do not evaluate them on the basis of their aesthetic value only. Try to imagine your own room or home in that style, and consider living there yourself. For good results aesthetics need to be combined with practicality, especially if you have kids. Also, past customer reviews will probably shed some light as to whether that interior designer stuck to the set deadline or not. Time keeping is very important in such a project, especially if you live in the house or have a date when you will be moving in.

3. Make sure you prepare a budget for your interior design project. You want the best for your home but you cannot go overboards either. Based on this, ask prospective interior designers about their rates. Some designers will charge a fixed fee whereas others have an hourly rate.

4. Meet different interior designers so as to get a better idea of what they could come up with when they see your home and prepare you for your home refurbishment project. By setting up a consultation you will be able to see if you like that interior designer or not, as after all you will be working closely together so good communication skills, patience and friendliness matter. A consultation is also a good way of getting information about the designer’s experience, qualifications, and the cost and duration of the project according to each one of them.

5. After you have been through some consultations, you will have each designer’s quote and ideas available. Compare them to each other so as to choose the one that best fits your preferences and budget.

Get Your Interior Designer to Help Choose Your Colour Palette. Image credit. Good Housekeping

6. Contact the interior designer of your choice and make sure you sign up a contract so as to list the designer’s responsibilities and timeline in writing, along with the cost of the project.

Sports & Fitness: Common Injuries Caused by High Arches

High foot arches, also known as cavus foot, are among the most common foot conditions, and unfortunately, they cannot be prevented as in most cases high arches are hereditary. High foot arches can also result due to certain medical conditions and neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy, polio, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.

Besides being quite easily noticed visually, high arches can be identified from certain symptoms that they cause. Many people noticed that they had high arches when they began to lose balance or experience ankle instability. Other common symptoms include calluses on the heel, ball or a side of the foot, and considerable pain on the ball or the heel.

Identify Your Type of Foot Arch. Image credit: ePain Assist

High arch symptoms tend to appear from an early age. In some cases, one may not experience any complications, but in others, high foot arches require treatment and intervention due to the emergence of one or more injuries which are caused as a result of this condition.

One of the most common problems people with high arches face are ankle sprains. This results due to the fact that when one has high arches, one will tend to roll the ankle. As a result, the weight is not getting evenly distributed and the ball and the heel of the feet will end up shouldering a bigger load. Instability could in turn lead to a higher probability of accidents such as tripping.

Foot pain is also quite common when one has high arches, and as a result one may experience pain when running, or even when walking. Some people also experience considerable discomfort and pain when standing.

The main problem with people with high arches is they experience improper weight distribution, which in turn leads to poor shock absorption. Consequently arch pain is experienced.

At times arch pain could be a symptom of other foot problems such as excessive pronation and plantar fasciitis. This highlights the importance of seeking specialist advice so as to try to see what can be done in order to reduce the pain and discomfort one may be experiencing, and also to discuss any possible treatments.

The Asics Gel Nimbus 19 running shoe offers great arch support. Image credit: Asics

Arch pain is a progressive condition, and proper care is needed. Make sure to wear suitable and comfortable running shoes with supportive insoles. A good example being Asics running shoes. Arch supports vary according to one’s arch type. The shape and height of the arch supports will be according to the type and height of your arches. If you experience a lot of arch pain you may find it helpful to use massagers and wraps to alleviate the pain.

Pain and instability are the main problems arising from hig arches. Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for either of them, other than avoiding certain activities and exercises which might increase stress and pain on the foot. One should also avoid standing for prolonged periods, try to lose weight, and wear suitable shoes. Most foot care specialists will focus on taking off the weight from the stressed part of the foot, while keeping the feet as comfortable as possible. Over the counter pain relief medicine may help, and in very serious cases one may wish to discuss the possibility of shoe modification and bracing, or opt for surgery.

Homes & DIY: 6 Practical Uses for Plywood

Plywood is a popular sheet material, which consists of two or more layers of wood veneers which have been glued and pressed together. During this manufacturing process high temperatures and pressure are used to form the plywood sheets and make them stronger and thicker.

Plywood is used in various kinds of projects because of its advantageous properties and its low cost. Even though some lower quality plywood may warp or crack over time, there are high quality plywood sheets which are very strong and reliable. Plywood is very versatile and one can find it in various thicknesses and grades of finish. The choice will depend on the type of project it will be used for. Here are 6 of the most popular uses for plywood:

Furniture

Plywood is a good enough material for various types of furniture. It is both affordable and practical to build bookcases and shelves, console tables, dressers and even wardrobes. Many DIY lovers make use of plywood for their projects, especially for cases where most of the structure does not require a high grade finish.

A kitchen made entirely from plywood. Image credit: Trendir

Cabinets

When it comes to building cabinet carcasses for a kitchen or a bedroom set, plywood is a very good material. It can be used for the back as well as the sides of cabinets, and it proves to be a better option than MDF or traditional chipboard as it is more durable.

Walls

Some types of plywood are ideal for framing interior walls, or for wood paneling. Plywood used for such projects can be painted or stained, giving it a very nice finish.

Plywood panels can be used for exterior wall sheating. Plywood panels can be fastened to each other so as to be stronger as well as reduce shifting. In this way structures can be kept more intact, and be ideal when exposed to winds and earthquakes, particularly thanks to its flexibility.

Flooring & Roofing

Quite often plywood is used for the construction of subfloors for various flooring projects. There are plywood panels which include tongue-and-groove edges, allowing one to slot panels together easily. Plywood is also considered to be ideal to sheet roofs. For both of these uses, plywood provides a durable option so as to lay tiles, or a fibreglass membrane afterwards.

Fascias, Eaves & Soffits

Contractors often use plywood for other types of construction projects, such as to make temporary floors, construct detached sheds or garages, make eaves and soffits, or as a practical material for timber fascias.

A Folding Plywood Sawhorse. Image credit: Woodworking Trip

General Projects

Since plywood is really versatile and practical, it is often used for a myriad of projects. Many DIY lovers find plywood cut to size ideal to build useful items such as workbenches, storage bins and sawhorses. Others build loose furniture, or practical creations for their pets such as rabbit hutches and kennels.

All in all plywood is really great as it is versatile and yet very cost effective when compared to other materials. There are also several thicknesses and finishes one can choose from for added convenience and suitability.

Which is Best: Proactive Maintenance or Reactive Maintenance?

Choose the Most Appropriate Maintenance Schedule for Your Premises

Any business tries to ensure that it is running at its maximum efficiency. In most cases, this calls for the use of machines and equipment, and whenever one of such assets breaks down or requires repairs or maintenance, research shows staff productivity reduces when equipment is faulty. The bigger a business or commercial establishment is, the more machines and equipment there will be. Consequently, breakdowns and repairs end up being quite common. This highlights the need to carry out maintenance. However, there are two approaches to do this in reality. There is Reactive Maintenance which is carried out once a failure or breakdown occurs. And then there is Preventive, Predictive or Proactive Maintenance, which basically involves carrying out maintenance according to a plan, so as to reduce the probability of machines and equipment developing faults or failures. Needless to say both of these approaches have their respective pros and cons. One method may be suitable for one business, but it may not be feasible for another. So, it all depends on the type of business, the size of the building, the number of machines and pieces of equipment, the staff requirements and the budget. Let us elaborate a bit further on these two types of maintenance.

Reactive Maintenance

With reactive maintenance the technician or handyman will be called in to solve a problem once it occurs. So, be it a computer problem, a machine that is not working properly, or a piece of equipment which has developed some sort of fault; you will be waiting for the problem to arise to take action, thus the name, reactive, which means that you are reacting to the problem. In this scenario there could well be a significant negative impact on productivity, especially if there is no backup available. Imagine there is a machine which forms an integral part of the production process, and it is not working properly. Once you call in a technician to diagnose the problem and fix it, you will also be ending up with the production process halted. As a result, until the machine is fixed or replaced there is going to be a loss of efficiency, limited or no productivity, idle workers, and less sales and profits. Considering this scenario it is important to be aware of the importance of certain machines or equipment, and so reactive maintenance may not be a reasonable option in this case. Also, if the commercial establishment is a large one it is going to be quite difficult to keep up with various faults that arise on the many machines. Generally larger companies opt for preventive maintenance so as to be able to keep up with the demands of the various machines and equipment. In order to decide whether reactive maintenance is the best option for your business, you need to consider three main factors, namely:

  • Can you afford to have unpredictable downtime?
  • Can you afford to have a technician to see to the maintenance periodically?
  • Consider the costs involved in either case, and try to establish which one is the most cost effective option.
Typical Reactive Maintenance Performance. Image credit: Bjarni Ellert Ísleifsson

Planned Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is often considered to be more feasible, particularly because in most cases it tends to increase the lifespan of assets, and thus also reduce the costs associated with replacements or costly repairs. When maintenance is carried out on a regular basis, machines or equipment are more likely to function efficiently, and this results in cost savings as well. Thanks to a preventive maintenance plan you are more likely to retain efficient productivity, reduce unplanned downtime or idle time, and so there are savings in that aspect too. However, it is important to note that preventive maintenance also has some drawbacks. For instance, some machines may have become outdated and despite the fact that they are running well you might still be better off replacing them with more cost effective and technologically advanced ones. Excessive maintenance may turn out to be a problem too, not to mention the time required to schedule maintenance. If you were to add up all the time spent on maintenance jobs over a span of years it might end up amounting far more than the repairs which might have been needed in reality. So there is both time as well as the cost factor involved. It is important to focus on these aspects to make the decision of whether to stick to preventive maintenance or not;

  • How many machines do you have, and how much time and money is it going to take to see to their maintenance?
  • Is it worthwhile to increase their lifetime, considering their cost, and possible replacement?
  • Can you afford preventive maintenance?
Planned Preventative Maintenance vs Support Requirements. Image credit: ICU

Answering these questions may put you in a better position to make a good choice.