Welcome To GN Builders Home Improvement Blog

Looking for answers to your remodeling project, Home improvement or Tips for DIY projects?

Feel free to post your question and get the tips on how-to proceed.

Join our Blog today and learn many Useful tips.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trex Deck Construction

Just finished a small deck. Trex decking is the most used material on the market today. Here is a few pictures of completed Deck project.

Home Owner Nightmare

Improper made opening created a structural disaster for a Home Owner. After the heavy snow,  concentrated point load cracked the header on the first floor,creating a dip in the floor.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things and Myth's About Granite

A few things to know about common myths and misconceptions about granite countertops. Some of these myths are spread by people trying to sell granite, and some by people trying to sell competing products and trying to put down things about granite.

The following are some of the most common myths about granite:

“Granite is heat resistant, so it is perfectly okay to place hot pots on a granite countertop.” While this is true that granite is pretty much resistant to hot temperatures you would have in the kitchen, excessive heat can damage or discolor some types of granite sealers. Constant heating can also generate internal stresses that could cause a crack at a weak spot, such as a natural flaw or calcium in the stone. An easy way to eliminate problems is by using a trivet with feet.

“Granite countertops should be resealed once or twice a year.”
This is a generalization. Many different types of stone sold commercially as “granite.” Some are inherently resistant to staining without applying any sealer, and applying sealers to these stones can actually cause other problems i.e high-quality black stones usually do not need sealers. On the other hand, some stones sold as “granite” are so porous that their shortcomings can’t be solved by even the best sealers. There is no single recommendation that can be made about use of sealers on granite. The answer is specific to each individual type of stone.

“Granite countertops won’t chip, crack or stain.”
High-quality types of granite are very resistant to such damage, but any stone will chip if a hard, heavy object hits a square outside corner. Cracking may result from natural flaws in the stone or errors in fabrication or installation. Some stones sold as “granite” will absorb cooking oils, which darkens those areas significantly. These stains can be very difficult to remove as the only way to do so is by using a poultice. Other stones containing calcium can be etched and whitened by acidic liquids such as citrus juices or vinegar, and these stones are sometimes marketed as “granite,” although true granites are not subject to acid etching. Some sealers themselves can also be damaged by exposure to acidic liquids.

“Granite is second only to diamonds in hardness, so nothing but a diamond can scratch granite.” Granite is very scratch resistant, but it’s not scratch proof. There are many substances harder than granite. Mineral hardness is rated by the Mohs scale, with soft minerals like talc rated as 1 and diamond rated at 10. Due to their high quartz content, most commercial granites are rated about 7 on the Mohs scale. Abrasive substances sometimes found in cleaning products can cause dull spots or tiny scratches on granite if misused. Some stones sold as granite are significantly softer than true granites and are therefore more prone to scratching. Natural stone should be cleaned only with pH neutral, non-abrasive stone cleaning products.

“Granite countertops emit cancer-causing radon and therefore are dangerous” and “Granite countertops are not radioactive, and therefore are perfectly safe.” Both statements are exaggerated. Much of the information found online about radon and granite is not neutral, and has been put out by companies that profit either from selling granite or from selling products that compete with granite.
Radon exposure is a genuine public health problem, as it is considered the second most common cause of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes.
Here is what the EPA says about radon and granite countertops: “Some types of granite may emit gamma radiation above typical background levels. However, at this time, EPA believes that the existing data is insufficient to conclude that the types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels. While radiation levels are not typically high, measurement of specific samples may reveal higher than expected levels on a case-by-case basis.”

There are many other potential sources of radon gas within the home. By far the most significant source of radon is the soil beneath the home itself. Foundations and basements can be properly ventilated to disperse excessive levels of radon gas, and this would be preferable in most cases to removing granite countertops. No one should be concerned unless radon testing identifies a problem in a specific home. Despite the relatively low risk from granite, it’s our opinion that the granite industry should screen for high radon emitting stones, and eliminate them from the marketplace.

“Absolute Black granite is the best countertop money can buy.”
Better quality stones sold as Absolute Black granite are outstanding performers. But caution is in order. Stones sold as Absolute Black are quarried in many countries. Originally, the label was applied to a very high quality diabase quarried in Sweden, and later to stones from South Africa. Now stones from many other countries are sold as Absolute Black, including Zimbabwe, Angola, Canada, India and China. Many of the Indian and Chinese stones are of excellent quality, but some unscrupulous companies sell lower-quality stones that may be dyed from grey to black, have excessive flaws, or not be able to be polished to a consistently glossy finish. Knowing that a stone is marketed under the trade name Absolute Black granite is not enough to make an informed decision.

Testing the Granite before you buy.

It would be nice if everyone who sold granite was ethical, truthful and fully informed about types of stone they sell. Unfortunately, thousands of different types of stones are on the market today, and obtaining reliable information about each is difficult.
There is a simple test procedure that can give an accurate picture of a stone’s performance as a countertop. Take a sample of the stone home and before applying any sealer, put teaspoon of water on the stone and observe for darkening and absorption. If the stone starts to darken immediately, it’s very porous, and not a good candidate for a kitchen countertop. If it takes several minutes to darken, the stone will be an adequate performer if properly sealed. If the stone does not darken after 30 minutes, it’s an excellent performer and may not need sealing at all.

Next, take half a lemon, squeeze out some juice and leave the cut lemon and juice on the stone for 30 minutes. Drip vegetable oil onto the stone as well, and let it sit for half an hour. Any signs of acidic etching or oil staining will indicate that this particular stone is not an outstanding performer as a kitchen countertop.

The final test is specially for black granites. Pour a puddle of acetone onto the stone, and wipe the surface thoroughly with a clean rag. If the rag shows black or grey coloration, then the stone has been doctored with an applied dye or wax, and should not be used for a kitchen countertop.

Good luck

Monday, March 15, 2010

To All My Readers

I hope everyone recovered from this weekend's nightmare weather without any damages and hopefully our Mother Nature will keep quiet for sometime.

Prevent Concrete from Cracking

Common question always being asked is " Why concrete cracks"

Here is some information and a few common reasons to explain why concrete cracks.
One of the reasons is, in residential concrete application to much water is added to the concrete on the job site. This water is added to make the concrete easier to install.Concrete does not require much water to get its strength, but when to much water is added, it reduces the strength of the concrete.
In addition, shrinkage is the main reason for cracking. When concrete dries it shrinks, because all the water is evaporate. The wetter the concrete,the more shrinkage will be. When concrete shrinks it pulls the slab apart and you see the cracks as a result of it.
Another reason for cracks, is fast drying. There is a chemical reaction, that makes concrete to go from mix form to solid form and this chemical reaction, continues to occur for days and weeks after the placement of concrete, so watering and keeping the concrete wet after it becomes hard will help make concrete stronger and prevent cracking.
Few more important factors, is having the proper concrete strength mix. Sometimes, some people like to cut corners and they order improper mix and it will crack.

Very important factor is having a proper placement of expansion joints. They help concrete crack where you want it to crack. The joints should be of the depth of the slab and no more than 2 or 3 times in feet of the thickness of the concrete in inches. Let's use a sidewalk as an example. The sidewalk is usually 4" thick so expansion joint placement should be around 8/12' apart.

There is other factors that are being neglected during installation i,e. ground should be hard and compacted,grade must be done to meet to soil conditions. Sometimes you need 6"of stone base and rebar,etc.

I hope you find this helpful and use some of the information for when you hire a Contractor to replace your sidewalks, patio or a driveway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Credit Card Law

Credit card holders can circle February 22 on their calendar as the day when new consumer protections laid out in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 kick in.
Following are just a few of the new credit card regulations and consumer protections as a result of the Credit CARD Act:
More Notice for New Interest Rate Changes. Card issuers must give card holders 45-days advance notice in the event of an interest rate change. Additionally, promotional rates must apply for at least six months and, unless disclosed up front, card holders cannot have their rate increased in the first year.

Cardholder Opt-Out. If there are significant changes made to the terms of the account, card holders can choose to reject those changes and will have five years to pay off the balance under the original terms.

Older Age Restrictions Added. Card issuers are no longer allowed to issue a credit card to anyone under 21 unless they can prove they have the means to repay debt or if an adult over 21 co-signs on the account. Credit card companies also face new restrictions on how they can promote cards to college students and can no longer offer free gifts as enticements on campuses.

New Rules for Monthly Statements. In response to complaints that bill due dates were being moved up—and leading to increased late fees—monthly statements must now be mailed or delivered 21 days prior to the due date. Additionally, card issuers can no longer set a payment deadline before 5 p.m. and cannot charge card holders if they pay online, over the phone or by mail—unless the payment is made over the phone either on the due date or the previous day.

Overpayments Go Toward Highest Interest Balances. If the card holder has varied interest rates for different services or accounts, any overpayments must be applied to the account that is incurring the highest interest rate.

Over the Limit Opt-In. Card holders must opt-in to be able to exceed their credit limit—and subsequently be charged an over-limit fee by the issuer. If a card holder chooses not to opt-in, then he or she will not be able to exceed their credit limit and incur any resultant fees.

Increased Disclosure on Minimum Payments. Card issuers must disclose how long it will take the card holder to pay off their bill if they only pay the minimum monthly payment as well as how much the card hold would need to pay every month to pay off the balance in 36 months.

Say Goodbye to Double-Billing Cycles. When calculating finance charges, card issuers can no longer employ two-cycle or double billing—a method that causes cardholders to pay interest on previously paid balances.

To learn more about the new consumer protections, Creditcards.com has a comprehensive breakdown of the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Leak Under Tiled Shower Pan

A few people asked me about fixing leaks under the tiled shower pans.Detecting such leaks is a task in itself, because they are very hard to detect, and there are many reasons why they could  leak. When opening the ceiling bellow, you will not see the waterproofing membrane. The waterproofing membrane located between the mud-pan under the tiled floor and the plywood sub-floor.
Leak could be caused by a rubber membrane or in some cases, instead of rubber... Fiberglass coating is used, which cracks over time due to a constant expansion and contraction of the building during seasonal changes. Another reason could be a shower floor has a hole in it someplace, or rubber membrane has separated from the drain, etc. In some instances the tiled pan is old, so wear and tear took its toll and more investigation need to be done.
To pin point the leak, you must open the ceiling bellow and try to pinpoint the location where water penetrating the sub-floor from bellow by running a few tests. When the ceiling is open and you can see a large area of water staining, you could have a serious problem. Best thing to do is to call a licensed plumber or a professional contractor to find the problem.
If you like to attempt finding the leak yourself, the best way to do it is to run a few tests yourself. You will need an inflation device (HRDWR store might have it, if not try a plumbing store) you insert the device in to the drain and fill it with air to block the water from being drained. Fill the pan with water 2” inches below the shower pan-curb and check bellow if you see any signs of water, if not, leave it over night and check in the morning.( make sure you know what you doing, because if the device falls in to the drain, you will have another problem). If you see water, the problem is in the drain, or the tile is lose or cracked along perimeter of the drain or the pan itself, or membrane separated from the pipe on the drain. If there is no water, hold the device by the chain and let the water out.
Next test is to run the water on the side walls of the shower but not the wall where the diverter is or shower fixtures, and check for water. If there is no signs of water, run the water on the shower wall where diverter is and check again. Many leaks occur due to the fixture covers become lose or have not been caulked properly or maintained and they allow the water enter the wall cavity, causing the leak. Other place to look for damage is along the threshold itself. With constant activity, there could be bad door trim or deteriorated tile grout, or caulk which can cause a leak. Check the area real good, because the minute water enters this area of the shower, it will cause the damage real quick.
Other signs to look for are small horizontal cracks or grout breaks/voids in the tile across the wall, the pan, and the corners which are very common and they need to be maintained.
If you cannot find a leak and the problem is not the tiles, call a licensed contractor.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New EPA RRP Rule Takes Effect April 2010

Starting April 2010 any work done on Homes built prior to 1978,where work involves disturbance to painted/varnished surfaces. i.e. scraping, sanding,removing,etc... any Contractors doing work on your project, will have to be CERTIFIED in the new lead based paint regulation.

Artisan Kitchen Sinks

Artisan Sinks...

Thinking to remodel your kitchen, or change existing counter-top to Granite? Or just upgrade your sink, worth to take a look at Artisan Sinks Manufacturer. Since the sink area is the busiest spot in a kitchen or a bathroom, these are heavy gage sinks will add style and durability just where it's needed.

Artisan's Premium 16 gauger stainless steel sinks offer quality features like extra thickness for dimensional stability, V-Therm insulation to keep water hot and 304 stainless steel for exceptional durability and stain resistance. Thicker Is Better.

They also have the 18 gauger Manhattan Series, a full line of Faucets, Handcrafted Copper and Brass Vessels, Copper Kitchen Sinks and NEW Vitreous China Bathroom Sinks.
For more information, visit ArtisanSinks.com


I'm not sure how this works yet, but I will give it a try. First, let me say I appreciate you taking the time viewing my blog. I hope you find it helpful and educating. Over the many years that I have been in the construction industry, I have learned more about the value of quality work and good workmanship. I hope you post your questions, and I will answer them as promptly as I can, and I will post new tips and useful information about home improvement projects.
Take care and have a great day.