Planning Your New Staircase – 8 Great Tips

Although we tend to take them for granted, stairs can have a surprisingly big impact on the look and feel of our homes. An attractive, well-designed staircase can give the whole property a lift, adding instant appeal and even increasing its resale value. Shabby stairs, on the other hand, are likely to have the opposite effect.

But how do you go about planning for a new staircase? Follow these simple steps:

1. Measure the height

Before ordering your stairs, you need to determine how much space is available. Start by finding out the floor-to-floor height. This involves measuring from the top of the finished lower floor to the top of the finished upper floor. The term ‘finished floor’, by the way, refers to the surface you walk on and includes any floor covering such as carpet or laminate. Once the staircase manufacturer has this information, they can work out how many steps are needed to create well-proportioned stairs that comply with UK building regulations.

2. Measure the width

Having established the height, you now have to find out the width. This comprises the total measurement across the strings and steps combined. (Strings, also called stringers, are structural supporting boards running along each side of the staircase.) Unless you’re designing a house from scratch, the width of the stairs will be determined by the current space available.

If you have any choice, go for the widest steps that will fit. A broad staircase is safer, easier to use and more practical, particularly in large family homes. While there is no legal minimum width in the UK, the standard figure is 860mm, so try not to make your stairs narrower than that.

3. Straight or winding?

As for the layout of the staircase, a single straight flight of stairs is the easiest and most economical option, as long as you have enough floor space. L-shaped and U-shaped stairs that twist back on themselves are widely considered to look more attractive. However, they tend to be more complicated, and therefore more costly.

To create a turn in the staircase so it can change direction, you will need winder treads or a landing – or a combination of both. A winder is a kite-shaped or triangular tread which is used to create a turn in an otherwise straight staircase.

A landing is an intermediate platform set between floor levels to join flights of stairs together. It might consist of a quarter landing (the width of a single flight of stairs) which makes a 90 degree turn in the staircase, or a half landing (the width of two flights of stairs) which creates a turn of 180 degrees, giving a U shape.

4. Treads and risers – open or closed?

The steps are made up of treads – the part that you walk on – and risers – vertical boards that form the face of each step. Risers can be open (with gaps between the treads) or closed (encased with solid boards). Open risers are particularly popular in modern homes as they increase the flow of light. However, young children and elderly residents may find them a little challenging.

Many people like to add one or two feature steps at the foot of the stairs for extra impact. Various combinations are available, including single or double D end shapes and more softly rounded bullnose steps.

5. String style

The strings, or stringers, can be closed or open. A closed – also called solid – string runs up both sides of the staircase and completely envelops the treads and risers, concealing the edge of the stairs from view. An open, or cut, string has the upper edge machined away so that the outline of the steps is visible from the side. This style is more complex to make, and therefore more expensive, than a closed string design, but is widely considered more desirable.

6. New newels?

Newel posts are upright supports that anchor the handrails, treads and strings of the staircase, forming an essential part of its structure – so don’t rip them out unless absolutely necessary. They come in a variety of designs and may consist of a single post, known as a plain newel, or a shaped piece of timber (a newel turning) attached to a separate base. If you are only revamping your stairs rather than installing new ones, you would be wise to retain the existing posts and just change the newel caps for a fresh look.

7. How many spindles?

Spindles, or balusters, are the vertical supports that connect the handrail to the rest of the balustrade. As they are such a conspicuous feature they can have a huge influence over the look and feel of a staircase, so give your selection plenty of thought. You don’t necessarily have to stick to just one style of spindle – try mixing and matching two designs for something a bit different. Glass panels are also a great way of creating a light and airy feel.

As a general rule of thumb, you need two spindles per tread, or one where there is a newel post on a landing. Most stair manufacturers will be able to help you work out how many spindles or panels are required.

8. Handrail hints

Under UK rules your staircase needs a handrail on at least one side if it is narrower than 1m, and on both sides if it is wider than this. Many people prefer to fit one anyway, for ease of use. Most handrails run between the newel posts (known as a post-to-post system), but on some stairs you can choose to have them flowing over the tops of the posts (an over-the-post system). You may also want a wall-mounted handrail, particularly if you have children.

Staircase Design – Five Top Trends

Home interiors, like clothes, shoes and even cars, tend to evolve with the times as particular styles fall in and out of favour according to the fashion of the day. The same can be said, up to a point, of staircase design. Obviously, you can’t change your stairs as easily as your decor, so it’s important to pick the right style first time.

So what’s hot and what’s not in stair design at the moment? Here are five trends to look out for:

1. Glass

More than any other, this feature has seen a huge surge in popularity lately. Glazed stair balustrades are becoming increasingly sought-after as people look to maximise the feeling of light and space that they can bring to their surroundings. Although glass stair panels used to be mainly the preserve of modern homes, nowadays they are often used in traditional interiors to give a contemporary twist and boost the flow of natural light around the property.

Of course, you don’t have to stop at the balustrade. If you really want to make your neighbours jealous, you can have the treads and risers made from glass for a stunning 21st century effect.

2. Clean lines

The general consensus in the field of interior design at the moment seems to be that less is more. In my line of work I have noticed a recent shift away from decorative stair balustrades to simpler, cleaner shapes. While ornate turned spindles, newels and caps are still selling well, there has been greater interest in sleek, minimalistic designs such as square and stop-chamfered styles.

3. Curves

As manufacturing techniques have improved over the years, the demand for curved stairs has been gradually rising. These staircases need quite a bit of space but can provide a wonderful focal point. With their classic flowing lines, they are suitable for modern and traditional homes alike. Spiral stairs, too, are proving popular – especially with owners of smaller properties, and those looking for a secondary staircase. They can still look stunning, but don’t take up as much floor area.

4. Mix of materials

Another rising trend is blending different types of material together for an individual look, known as fusion (also popular with foodies!). When choosing a handrail you are probably best off sticking with timber, as this is the most comfortable material to grip. However, when it comes to the balustrade infill there is much more choice. As well as glass panels, you can experiment with spindles made from metal, wood or a combination of the two – and mix and match with glass if you want.

Metal spindles have become particularly popular lately, thanks to the wide variety of designs now available. Most are made from mild steel shaped to resemble wrought iron, which helps to keep both production costs and spindle weight to a minimum. You don’t have to stick to just one style of metal spindle, either. Alternating two different designs can be a great way to give your stairs an individual touch.

5. Storage

As the square footage in new homes has generally shrunk over recent years, storage space has become an important issue. It’s no surprise, then, that more home owners are asking for integral storage to help keep clutter out of sight. This can be achieved by fitting shelves or cupboards underneath the staircase, or even by incorporating drawers into the actual steps.

Building the Best Home Office for Freelancers

Freelancing is the new definition of grind in today’s modern workplace. Gone are the days when all the person can do is work in an office to make a living – today they can offer their services right at the comfort of their own home. However, there is more to working at home than meets the eye. As a designer, there is a need to really create the area to ensure that they are able to meet their business objectives and deliverables on a timely basis.

Here are some pitch ideas to win freelancer clients:

1. Create the overall look from the get go

The thing about freelancers is that they are more into getting the job done as usually, they are paid by the hour by a client from a different time zone. To maximize their time, always be ready with your visual pegs and plans. Using 3D rendering software can quickly make this happen and make the edits easier as well. For example, if they choose to go for another shade for the walls, you can both edit it on the spot to speed up the decision process. Remember, these people do not have time on their side.

2. Be clear when it comes to the budget

No matter how great the overall look is, there will still be a problem if the client cannot afford it. Discuss the design and the amount of money to help in getting there. From there, you can set expectations and already focus properly on the items that will really add value to the freelancer as far as the project is concerned.

3. Make it really conducive to working

Once the design and budget are out of the way, it’s time to talk productivity. Ask the client as to the nature of his business. Is the person a virtual assistant? Then it is important to make sure the person has easy access to calling implements. The internet connection should also be kept strong so there should never be barriers that should get in the way.

Is the person a writer? If so, the table and chair combination is important as well as the source of light. More so is the case if the freelancer is an artist since he or she will be spending a lot of time seated and the level of comfort or discomfort will have a big impact on their productivity. The lighting can also help the freelancer save on energy costs. Is there a way for air to come in naturally too? All these will play a big role in the ability of the freelancer to do his or her duties.

4. Think of the little things

When it comes to working at home, the little things really count. For example, putting a fridge or water dispenser nearby lessens the need for the person to go up to the kitchen just to be able to eat a few bites. Placing a lock too on the doors can ensure privacy or having sound proofing can help in keeping the atmosphere professional during calls.

Always think of the ways to make the design work for the client and it will be a sure win.

Quick Home Maintenance Tips

If you have been looking for some home improvement tips that won’t take more than a few minutes from your precious time, you are on the right page. This article is for you, especially if you are a busy homeowner. Read on.

Fixing a chair

Are you trying to fix an old chair? If so, we suggest drilling pilot holes and driving screws via the rungs bottom and into the chair legs.

Vinyl Door or Window

If your vinyl doors or windows don’t open properly, the channels may have accumulated gunk. At times, even clean doors and windows may bind. You may spray dry spray lubricant on the target areas and then use a rag to wipe it off. Using oil lubricants is not a good idea as they can catch dirt damaging the vinyl.

Repairing a Shutoff Valve

If the shutoff value is faulty, you can get it replaced. But if you can’t, you should go to the nearby hardware store to buy a good replacement washer. Remove the grit from the valve and fit the new washer. This will fix the problem.

Loose Showerhead

If you want to fix a problematic showerhead or a wobbly pipe, you can use some expanding foam. With the foam, you can encase the pipe and fix it. This will remove the wobble.

Use a Smoke Detector

If you don’t have enough time or money, you may want to cover the ceiling hole with a smoke detector. You don’t need to patch the hole.

Cabinet doors

If your cabinet doors don’t stay shut, all you have to do is use a magnetic door catch. You can also go for a roller-style one.

Squeaky Floors

If you want to repair a squeaky floor, use a stud finder to find the floor joists. Next, you can drive in a screw via a pad, carpet and the subfloor to reach the floor joist. Just make sure that the upper part of the screw has no threads. Ideally, you may want to use trim screws since they have bigger heads. If this is the case, you may want to pull up the screw and then tighten it again.

Remove Water Stains

Before repainting the ceiling, you may want to try out this trick. You can use a mixture of water and bleach and then wait for a few days. If the stain is old, you can try a mold and mildew product. The stain will be gone within 24 hours. This trick may work both on textured and flat ceilings.

Wallpaper Seams

To fix a wallpaper seam, you can soak a rag in lukewarm water and then apply the paste around the seam. You may want to hold the rag for a couple of minutes and then open the seam a bit for more space for the seam sealer. Put the liquid into the gap and then push the paper against the wall using a roller. Then you can use a sponge to remove the sealer.

So, these are some quick and easy home improvement tips.

8 Tips to Consider Before You Buy Plantation Shutters

If you want to buy plantation shutters, you may want to consult an experienced professional. They will help you buy the best plantation shutters to help you meet your needs. However, if you are going to purchase plantation shutters for the first time, you may want to consider the following tips.

1. The type of wood

Since poplar wood is light, straight, and smooth, it’s a great choice for plantation shutters. The average height of a poplar tree is 160 feet and the trunk can be as much as 80 feet in diameter. So, it’s a good idea to opt for this type of wood.

2. Poly or Wood

Most of clients go for wood shutters because of their advantages over the artificial material known as poly.

As far as strength goes, wood is stronger and lighter. So, wooden shutters can be up to 37 inches in width. So, you won’t need more than a few panels for the window openings. Aside from this, wood gives you a lot of other benefits as well.

3. Louver Size

The size of most of shutters is 3.5 louvers. But there is a rise in demand for louvers that measure 4.5 louvers due to sliding glass doors and bigger windows. Actually, people want modern interior design as well as openness.

4. Midrail

If you don’t know, midrail is a horizontal plank. Over the midrail, the louvers open and close without relying on the louvers that are under the midrail. Many buyers like midrails since they leave the upper section open to let more light in and leave the lower section shut for privacy reasons. Moreover, a midrail is an ideal choice should you have metal casings.

5. Vertical Tilt Bar

You will find shutters that feature “hidden tilt”. In this type of shutters, the frontal wooden tilt bar is missing. In its place, you can see a metal tilt bar, which is almost invisible. So, you can have more visibility and open space.

6. Sliding Glass Doors

As far as sliding glass doors is concerned, plantation shutters are an ideal choice. For a consistent feel and look, your house should have shutters. Actually, plantation shutters are fixed on a track to let the panels open without any hindrance.

7. Cost Of The Shutters

Usually, plantation shutters are sold by the square foot. However, by paying a bit more, you can benefit from other options, such as hidden tilt, stain finishes, and specialty shapes. You should be ready to spend a good deal of money to get the required shutters.

8. Procedure

Plantation shutters are also made to order. First of all, the sales representative will visit your house to measure the doors and windows to give you a proposal. Then the installers will do a detailed measurement. Once the product is made, it is handed over to the finishing department. In this department, the product is sanded, primed and painted. Finally, they are installed.

If you are going to buy plantation shutters, consider the tips given above.

The Important Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding

If you are on the market for new home siding, it is no surprise that you are considering vinyl. Vinyl plastic exterior has been a long-time favorite for both residential and commercial properties, and for many reasons. Although there are a few drawbacks you need to think about, this material is almost always a safe investment. Continue reading to review some of the common pros and cons of vinyl siding.

Pros

Vinyl siding is mostly admired for its extreme versatility. It comes in a wide range of colors, styles, textures, and more, which makes customizing the look of your home an easy task. Aside from versatility, vinyl is very low maintenance. Caring for it is simple, and there is very little you need to do to make it last a long time. Furthermore, installation is quick and easy, and the cost comparison to other options on the market is very low. It is one of the most affordable choices for residential siding you can buy.

Here are some more pros to this versatile material:

  • Very durable;
  • Lasts between 30 and 40 years with good care;
  • Endless color options and schemes;
  • Very low maintenance;
  • Easy to clean and care for;
  • Insulated options increase energy efficiency;
  • Cheapest siding option on the market;

ConsThere are not many drawbacks to vinyl siding, however, there are a few attributes that are important for you to know in order to make an educated decision. For instance, it is not waterproof. Although it is water-resistant, poor installation can let water leak behind the panels and cause rot, mold, and mildew. Also, many homeowners have complained that the color option is too permanent with vinyl siding. Whatever color you choose, it will always be that color. That is because plastic exterior siding cannot be repainted like other siding materials.

Another common con to this material is the potential for the boards to warp, bend, or dent. This can happen from a string impact or extreme summer heat. Homeowners also complain that whole panels must be replaced because there is no patchwork in vinyl siding. Some additional common complaints about vinyl siding include:

  • 90% of homes have vinyl siding, so it’s not always the most unique;
  • Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, and even high winds can rip panels off;
  • Faulty installation can lead to water leaks, rot, mold, and decay;
  • It can crack in extreme cold weather, and warp in hot weather;