A Look at Solid Hardwood Floors

Solid hardwood floors should neither be installed over a concrete slab nor below ground level because of high moisture sensitivity. Unsightly gaps appear when moisture dries and the floors contract in the winter heating months. The floors expand and gaps disappear during summers. The wood planks may buckle or cup because of excessive moisture. In view of these facts, enough space should be left for expansion and wood should be acclimated. Nail-down installations are most appropriate for these floors. The possibility of re-coating and refinishing increases the life and appearance of solid hardwood floors. Generally solid hardwood floors are made up of ash, maple, red oak and white oak.

Solid wood floorings are divided into three sub categories: strip flooring, plank flooring and parquet flooring. Thickness of strip flooring varies between 5/16 inch and ¾ inch. Available widths are 1 ½ inch, 2 inch and 2 ¼ inch. Though plank flooring is sold in two thicknesses, width can range between 3 inches and 8 inches. Parquet flooring has geometrical patterns that are created with wood slats.

Hand-scraped hardwood floors are hand crafted. Character markings on handscraped hardwood floors (hand sculptured floors) are a unique feature. These floors offer the best finishes for either the modern world look or the old reclaimed wood floor look. Both engineered and solid hand sculpted floors are sold. Beautiful handscraped hardwood floors are very expensive. Engineered handscraped hardwood floors are best suited for a structure erected on a concrete slab and in high humidity conditions. A few companies also market distressed hardwood flooring that has machine made markings unlike hand made markings in handscraped hardwood floor. Handscraped floor is costlier than distressed version, but both floorings offer a rich look.

Hardwood floors should be cleaned with products recommended by the manufacturer. Regular use of a vacuum cleaner will clean dirt, mud, grit and small stones that may spoil the finish. Welcome mats at the entrance for wiping feet before walking on the floor are of great help in protecting the finish. When choosing furniture for you home, do not buy products with sharp metal or wooden legs to prevent denting and scratching. Use of furniture coasters or felt protectors for all legs will prevent scratching. Non-staining and wide rubber cups are a must for heavy items like piano. The use of a paste wax on the hardwood floor with a polyurethane finish damages the finish. Spills on hardwood floors need immediate attention. Clean them with a paper towel or damp white cloth and dry the area.

A Look at Shiatsu Massage Chairs

The term “shiatsu” refers to a form of Asian massage. This traditional massage uses techniques of digging deep into the muscle tissue to ease out knots and relieve tension. The shiatsu technique can involve patting, rotating, sweeping and vibrating the affected areas. Another popular technique is the “barefoot shiatsu” in which the therapist walks on the back of the patient to remove tension.

Many of today’s shiatsu massage chairs are designed to imitate human touch. These chairs are often useful in the treatment of headaches, digestive problems, back pain and more. The benefits of shiatsu massage chairs can be likened to an actual massage. The difference is that with a massage chair, you can reap the benefits of this popular massage from your home at any time you wish.

New shiatsu massage chairs have buttons the consumer can choose from for different options. These options include kneading, pulsing and tapping. The key to getting the most from your massage session is to relax. If you are more tense than usual, you may be uncomfortable, and in some cases bruising may occur. To get a relaxing massage, relax and start out slow; limit your session to no more than fifteen minutes.

Shiatsu massage chairs are certainly at the head-of-the-class when it comes to massage chair therapy. These are probably among the most popular designs and those who have purchased them often say that they would never give it up.

If you are reluctant to the idea that a chair can provide a soothing deep massage, you should go try one out. Chances are that a store near you carries several lines of massage chairs and the salesperson will be happy to let you take a test massage. Although many people comment that the chairs are far from attractive, the massaging benefits are well worth lack of stylish appearance.

A Look at Portable Dishwashers

Portable dishwashers are just the ticket for those with less than enough space for a more permanent and heavier dishwasher. They range in widths from a slim 18 inches to a maximum of about 24 inches for the “larger” portables. In general, they are also less expensive. They usually run anywhere from $200 to $500, rather than to $600 or more as with permanent units.

Portable dishwashers have wheels on them. You can roll your portable dishwasher to the storeroom if you don’t plan on using it for a while (and would rather opt for hand-washing). It’s also much easier to maneuver, for those who plan on moving to a new home in the near future.

They usually contain two rolling baskets for placing dishes into. They don’t usually boast the usual whistles and bells of large units, but they do have enough settings to choose from. For example, many units have a super-powerful cycle for pots and pans. Some also offer an option for boosting the water temperature when the house’s hot water supply is low.

To operate a portable dishwasher, you must roll it over to the sink and connect it to a hose. That part is easy. Just screw the hose to the sink’s plumbing. Make sure you won’t be using the sink during the machine’s cycles, and also be sure to unclog the sink first, if necessary. Drano or Liquid Plumr should do the trick. Also, be sure to rinse dishes before putting them in the machine. This will prevent the number of cases of clogging and grime buildup. If it ever does get plugged up, emitting a black gunk that ends up on your dishes, try scrubbing the walls down with vinegar and running the machine with a cup of vinegar.

Almost all manufacturers of standard, full-size dishwashers also offer a portable model. This includes Bosch, KitchenAid, Maytag, Whirlpool, GE, and Kenmore.

A portable dishwasher’s top acts as a countertop in many households, a godsend when space is at a premium. Alternatively, some portable dishwashers are made to sit atop an existing countertop in your kitchen. These have smaller capacities, as one might guess. But their performance is every bit as good as a floor-bound unit.

Perhaps the best part about portable dishwashers is that they are simpler machines than standard dishwashers. This means less repair work is needed, and less often.

You can purchase your new portable dishwasher at Sears, Menards, Target, ABC Warehouse, or any other large appliance retailer. They usually offer 1-year parts and labor warranties. But with care and attention, your new dishwasher can last for years.

A Look at Picnic Gift Baskets

Picnic gift baskets are a great gift for just about anybody who likes the outdoors and who likes to eat. Most people enjoy the idea of picnicking, but haven’t invested in the supplies to be able to do so. You can personally add some extra enjoyment to their spring, summer, or fall by giving them the necessary supplies to enjoy a picnic outdoors.

Virtually all picnic baskets are picnic gift baskets. The style that comes to mind when people think of picnic baskets is either wicker or rattan. These classic weave-type baskets are egg-shaped, bowl-shaped, or bundle-shaped. You can buy them built for two, four, six, eight or more people, depending on how many you are looking to impress.

If you want to buy a picnic gift basket for the new neighbors in town, try giving them a non-traditional basket. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and your hipness for choosing something so different. Some picnic baskets come with a backpack full of supplies, allowing you to hike and then picnic with ease.

These non-traditional picnic basket backpacks often come with quality, solid, nylon shoulder straps, and contain everything required for a fine picnic for two, including plates, salt and pepper shakers, a bottle stopper for wine bottles, silverware, napkins, a corkscrew, picnic blanket, and a cutting board.

A Look at Marble Chess Sets

Marble is considered to be one of the great building materials in existence. For many centuries it has been used in the construction of buildings ranging from monuments, to temples, to palaces. Marble is sturdy as well as beautiful and can be carved into nearly any shape. The artist’s imagination provides the only limitation when using marble as a medium for a chess set.

Marble chess sets are also among the most beautiful. They are expertly crafted because the pieces are carved individually and often with extremely fine detail. Marble chess sets can come in a variety of colors but the most common combination is black and white. Black and tan, green and white, and red and white are just three of the unique color combinations also available. The marble itself looks stunning with its rich color, fine grain, and beautiful natural swirls. Marble chess sets often look like miniature monuments.

Many people purchase marble chess sets as decoration. They buy the set in colors that compliment the rest of the room and leave the set displayed on a table or pedestal. This is a good option for people looking for a unique way to show their appreciation for chess while adding character and class to a room.

However, marble chess sets are not just for decoration. The pieces are sturdy and heavy enough that they will not break except under extreme conditions. Marble chess sets are weighted to insure that the pieces are well balanced and will not fall over. The marble chessboards are also heavy enough so they can be used outside.

Marble chess sets are beautiful as well as functional. They look like miniature sculptures and are designed for play as well as for their appearance. A fine marble chess set is perfect for both decoration and regular use.

A Look at Luxury Down Comforters

For those striving to create a bedroom retreat, a haven from the rest of the world, luxury is a necessity. Along with good color choices and fine furniture, a lavishly dressed bed is top priority. One of the most important ingredients for an extravagant bed is a luxury down comforter, and price is no object.

Down comforters are made from a variety of materials. They can be made from the down of ducks or geese. The most luxurious, though, are those made from goose down. Goose down is heavier and produces warmer, fluffier, and more luxurious down comforters.

Different geese produce different qualities of down. Eiderdown comes from the Eider duck of Iceland. As you can imagine in such a cold climate, the Eider duck has a very full and luxurious down, resulting in a warm and fine comforter. Eiderdown has to be hand harvested from Eider duck nests, making it difficult to acquire. At around $7000, its price reflects that quality and rarity.

Siberian goose down is considered the best, and is available for around $1000. Siberian goose down is known to have superior warming power, and is fluffier than all other varieties.

In shopping for luxury down comforters, one of the most important things to consider is the fill power rating. Fill power refers to the comforter’s fluffiness, the higher the rating, the better. While any fill rating over 550 is considered good, the more luxurious down comforters often have ratings of over 800.

Thread count is another important consideration. The thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch. Again, the higher the number, the better the quality of the comforter. A high thread count means the comforter will be softer, lighter, and less likely to leak filling.

The comforter cover material is less important because the comforter itself should be covered with a duvet. However, some truly luxurious cover materials exist. Some comforters are covered in silk or Egyptian cotton for optimum softness.

A Look at Ivory Chess Sets

Ivory chess sets have a long and distinguished history, going back nearly to the advent of the game itself. Ivory has been used for many centuries in the construction of chess sets. Some of the earliest chess pieces still in existence are made of ivory.

The British Museum displays a few ivory chess pieces from the 7th and

8th centuries found in modern day Uzbekistan. These ancient chess pieces are in a different form than modern day chess pieces because they come from a time when chess was primarily an Islamic game. The pieces had a much different appearance because they reflected a different society. In the 19th century, Nathaniel Cook and John Jaques created the first set of Staunton chess pieces out of ivory. The Staunton style of chess pieces became the standard that is still in use today.

Ivory is not nearly as common today as it was hundreds of years ago when historical ivory chess sets were made. Now, ivory chess sets are usually only for collectors. Vintage ivory chess sets can sell for many thousands of dollars, while new ivory chess sets rarely sell for under $900. New Ivory chess sets are extremely rare because ivory is much harder to come by. Though ivory was once commonly used in the construction of many objects, it is now rarely used due to animal rights issues and the advent of plastic.

One main reason why ivory is rare now is because many people object to animals such as elephants and mammoths being killed in order to cultivate the ivory from their teeth and tusks. Imitation ivory is a good modern alternative because it is much less expensive and does not use any animal parts.

A Look at Gel Candle Making Supplies

Candles made of gel are often more unique and beautiful than traditional wax candles. There are several properties of gel candles that give them a unique and artistic appearance.

Unlike traditional wax candles, gel candles can be clear or multi-colored, they do not have to be a solid color. Candle makers can embed items in gel candles. Gel candles last twice as long as traditional wax candles. It is important to note that gel candles do burn at higher temperatures than wax candles, so it is vital that people follow all safety precautions when making and burning gel candles.

Gel candle making supply stores have become much more common in recent years. People can buy gel candle-making supplies at many of the same stores that sell traditional waxes.

One reason that gel candle-making supplies are so common is that they provide for more creativity than normal waxes. Gel can be clear or it can have swirls of multiple colors. There are a limitless number of ways that gel candles can be colored.

It is common for gel candle-making supply kits to include small items that can be embedded within the gel of the candle. The designs and figures are viewable through the translucent gel and can look quite stunning. Seashells, beads, and small figurines are just three types of things that can be suspended in the gel.

The gel used to make these candles can last up to twice as long as wax. This means that the candle will burn for twice as long and often provide twice as much fragrance and beauty.

It is vital to note that gel burns at a much higher temperature than other candle making materials, so it is imperative that people protect their skin when making a gel candle. People should be sure to make the candle in an appropriate container, which can handle the heat generated, and will not expand and break. People should not move a lit or recently extinguished gel candle. Instead, they should wait until it has cooled down to pick it up.

Making gel candles is a perfect creative outlet. Gel candles are unique and beautiful. As long as people follow the proper precautions, gel candles can last a long time and provide great room decoration.

A Look at Finnish Saunas

Finland is known for its saunas. A Finnish sauna is a room or small hut with temperature over 80 degrees C. When water is poured over the hot furnace stones, a steam cloud fills the sauna taking the temperatures to an even higher level. Sauna bathing in Finland typically lasts between half an hour and two hours. The sauna is often followed by a shower or swim in a lake. In winter, many of the Finnish rub snow on their skin after their sauna. Some beat their skin with birch twigs soaked in warm water to exfoliate and clean.

Using saunas is the most popular leisure activity in Finland. A visit to Finland sans sauna would be incomplete. The Finnish admire saunas for their healing properties. Millions of people in Finland use saunas and on average, each household has one sauna.

Saunas can be used to gather socially and relax with family and friends. In private settings, men and women often share saunas, while single sex saunas are norm in the public places.

In the past, saunas used to be wooden compartments near lakes. Wood was burnt under flat stones and arranged in rows, to produce heat. Steam was generated by pouring cold water on these stones. Usually temperatures in these steam huts ranged between 70 degrees C and 90 degrees C. It could go up to 120 degrees C.

A Look at Faux Wood Blinds

For those who want the warmth of wood, but are concerned with wood damage, faux-wood blinds may b e the answer. They are made of artificial materials but are designed to look just like real wood blinds. They are much less expensive than wood blinds. Faux-wood blinds are designed to be used in rooms with high levels of humidity like bathrooms and kitchens. They don’t tend to warp unlike blinds made of real wood and are stain resistant.

Faux-wood blinds can be made of either PVC or composite wood. PVC faux blinds are made of a vinyl polymer, whereas composite wood blinds contain both hardwood and a polymer base. They are lighter than PVC blinds. The composite wood blinds cost slightly higher than the PVC but they offer more value with their special 3-inch valances and the special trapezoid bottom rails that allow the slats to close tightly. Faux-wood blinds come in a wide range of colors and shades, some looking exactly like real wood. They can be custom designed as per different requirements like light control, sleek look, and the viewable area between the slats.

The polyvinyl material used to make faux-wood blinds is very durable and strong. It is simple to clean and does not warp, crack, or fade easily. The blinds made from this material can be covered with UV inhibitors to protect them from excessive exposure to the sun. This covering makes the blinds last longer–even for a lifetime. Faux-wood blinds can also resist extreme temperatures like heat and cold and are suitable for any room in the house.

Faux-wood blinds are also available in different forms and in different sizes. They can be mini or micro, vertical or horizontal, 2-inch valance or 3-inch valance. They can also be provided with other attachments and options like tilt wants, locking pull rods, fabric tapes, cord-want tilt and motorization, and light-blocking properties. Faux-wood blinds are thus replacing all the traditional kinds of blinds but are still providing the same kind of look that traditional wood blinds offer.