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Premier Care In Bathing

Expert home-remodel tips help baby boomers live in comfort

“When looking at the safety of a home, the bathroom is top of mind, especially for baby boomers” says Iain Whyte, CEO of Premier Bathrooms. “It’s a highly used area where many accidents can occur. Start with this room when considering safety.

Here are some easy tips from Premier Bathrooms and The Carey Bros. for creating a safe and secure house for aging adults:

1. Safer flooring

Hard floors like linoleum, hardwood and concrete become a hazard for slipping and injury as we age. Many people choose to install carpet because it does not lift and move, reducing the chance of tripping. Plus it is warmer on feet and softer if there is a fall. If you do choose to keep your hard floors, make sure they are free of clutter and clean up any wet areas right away. In bathrooms, use a non-slip flooring option and rugs that have a sticky backing.

2. Walk-in tubs

Walk-in tubs like the ones from Premier Bathrooms are great for seniors that want to take baths but don’t want to climb over a big ledge and risk slipping and falling. The walk-in door is the main reason people choose these types of tubs, but the benefits don’t stop there. With a contoured seat and a hydrotherapy spa system, walk-in tubs are a must for someone who wants to remain independent in their home and stay healthy. Different models are available with unique features like temperature control and automatic seat lifts so you can find one that is right for you.

3. Higher Toilet

They are called handicapped toilets, senior toilets and tall toilets, but whatever the name they are a great idea for aging people. These types of toilets sit higher off the floor so that the user doesn’t have to bend their knees as much to get up and down. Ease of use becomes key as we age.

4. Wider doorways

Whether we like it or not, most baby boomers will eventually use a walker, cane or wheel chair. Door openings are rather small, especially in older houses. Wider doorways make walking around the home easy, no matter what your life situation. Plus it’s great when the grandkids come over in a stroller.

5. Good lighting

Low lighting can be disastrous for aging adults whose vision isn’t as good as it used to be. It’s important to have well-lit rooms and walkways so that it’s easy to get around all areas of the house. Make sure you are using lights that are easy to reach and use so that you can walk around in confidence.

“These steps are a great start to help people live comfortably in their homes”; says Morris. And Whyte agrees, “Life changes mean changes in our homes too. Living your golden years in a safe and secure house is very important for both health and comfort.”

What surprises many people about bathroom bathing safety and comfort upgrades is the wide variety of choices that are available in walk-in bathtubs. These walk-in bathtubs are specifically designed to make the elderly or disabled comfortable and safe when bathing.

Premier Bathrooms is the leader in the marketplace for walk-in bathtubs, disabled bathrooms and assisted bathing products. They have transformed many thousands of bathrooms to enable people to regain and retain their independence.

Premier Bathrooms offer a range of powered bath seats and a choice of shower options including disabled showers. Their fully trained fitters will carry out the necessary work of installing your newly chosen walk-in bathtub or disabled shower with a minimum of fuss and disruption.

For information on walk-in bathtubs and to view the many choices available and get a free information pack go to www.premiercareinbathing.com

Working With Pressure-treated Wood

. During our tenure as home-improvement guys on television, the producer wanted a stage built in the backyard - something that could be used as a backdrop for guest entertainers. We decided to build a covered deck overlooking the rest of the backlot at Universal Studios. The deck overlooked the Jurassic Park set - dinosaurs and all.

Our strategy was to build the deck as a show-and-tell project, and then to use the finished product as a stage. We knew that we would be able to use the deck later for segments on maintenance and upkeep.

The material we chose for the project was redwood. We later felt that we had been remiss in not using a combination of wood species instead (pine, fir, cedar and others). We chose redwood because it is a magnificent deck building material. It contains natural resins that resist attack from insects and rot. But redwood isn't available countrywide. Whoops. By the time we realized that we were building with a material that wasn't available to all of our viewers, the deck was done. So we decided to use this week's offering to make things right. We also could have used cedar. Like redwood, cedar is a weather-resistant material that is well-suited for deck and fence construction. Unfortunately, like redwood, cedar isn't available nationwide. And, both cedar and redwood can be expensive.

An inexpensive alternative to them that is available everywhere is pressure-treated lumber. That's because it can be made from practically any type of wood: pine, fir, birch and others. Pressure-treated lumber is created by forcing wood preservatives deep into the fibers of wood, creating a protective barrier that makes otherwise susceptible timber pest and rot-resistant. In fact, pressure-treated material is stronger and more resistant to pests and rot than are cedar or redwood. But, pressure-treated materials do have drawbacks and require special handling.

The preservative used in the creation of pressure-treated lumber is a pesticide, and therefore poisonous. Special handling is in order when using it as a building material. The Treated Products Communications Council (TPCC) suggests that you take the following precautions when handling pressure-treated lumber:

When sawing or machining pressure-treated wood, use eye protection and an appropriate dust mask. This is true for any kind of woodworking, but especially important when the inhaled dust contains a poisonous chemical.

Use galvanized or stainless nails, screws or bolts. These types of fasteners are corrosion-resistant and will prevent rust stains on the material.

Drill pilot holes first, especially when nailing near the end of a board. Pressure-treated wood is dried before it is treated with the pesticide. This makes it hard and prone to splitting when nailed.

Even though the material is dried during the pressure-treating process, there is the chance that it will shrink. Butt ends together tightly to prevent gaps later.

Even pressure-treated wood should be coated with a wood preservative. As with redwood and cedar, this task should be performed every year or two. Pressure-treated lumber is relatively dry (absent of most of its natural moisture) by the time you get it. Therefore, a wood preservative can be immediately applied. Other types of wood (that contain natural moisture) should air-dry before being coated with preservative.

Never burn treated lumber. The resultant gasses could be deadly.

And, whatever you do, don't use treated lumber to make a cutting board.

The fact that just about any type of timber can be pressure-treated has another advantage. Stronger lumber, such as Douglas fir and southern yellow pine, can be used. This is important because redwood and cedar aren't really sturdy enough for most structural applications. Wood strength becomes important when constructing any support structure (retaining-wall posts, floor beams, etc.). On the other hand, redwood, cedar and mahogany, in our opinion, are far more beautiful than bumpy, green pressure-treated wood. Our compromise, save money and gain strength by building substructures out of pressure-treated material, and use the beautiful woods for decking, rails, trim and other finishes.

Sealing and Patching an Asphalt Driveway

. Morris' son Morris III helps to run our remodeling company, along with Morris' wife, Carol. Recently they asked about the most cost-effective surface for a driveway for a bid they were making. They wanted to know if asphaltic concrete (asphalt) would be less expensive and as durable as concrete for a really large driveway. The answer: Asphalt (also known as blacktop) is definitely more flexible than concrete, but its surface is not as durable as concrete. Therefore, we feel the best use for asphalt is where the ground is expansive (soil that expands and contracts as its moisture content changes). Concrete is stronger and has a more resilient surface than asphalt, but it cracks plenty when poured in place over expansive soil.

Large, heavy pieces of equipment are often used to install asphalt. Therefore it is easier and more cost-effective to install when it is laid in large open areas (parking lots, large driveways, roads, etc.) On the other hand, concrete easily can be installed in small, enclosed places. Both asphalt and concrete are easily patched by hand.

Actually, asphalt is similar in makeup to concrete. Both contain an aggregate (gravel or rock) mixed into a binder. With asphalt, the binder is a crude tar-like petroleum product. In concrete the binder is portland cement. The petroleum binder in asphalt softens considerably in warm weather increasing its exposure to damage. Don't poke at asphalt on a hot day. You'll end up with a hole because asphalt is porous water and freezing conditions can take their toll. That's why it is important to know how to care for it.

Maintaining asphalt can be done professionally, but it really is easy to do and makes a great do-it-yourself project for a weekend. There are four areas of maintenance: small crack repairs, large crack repairs, pothole repairs and sealing.

Although sealing doesn't have to be done each time a crack or pothole is repaired, it is a good idea to combine all of the tasks into a single project.

Before beginning the process, you must completely clean the entire area to be sealed. A garden hose, a bristle brush and a bucket of soapy water will be needed. Mix a cup of powdered laundry detergent in a gallon of hot water and spread it over the area to be cleaned. Make sure the surface has been wet down with the hose first. Use the bristle broom to scrub the surface clean. Use a pressure washer instead of a broom for less work. Our formula works really well on preparing grease stains too.

Small cracks (up to about a half-inch wide) can be filled with asphalt sealer. If the crack is deeper than a quarter inch it should be filled with sand first. For cracks over a half inch, mix fine sand with the sealer. Be prepared to go back, in both instances, to apply a second coat where the crack patch settled.

The most enjoyable repair is fixing a pothole. This is something that can be done quickly and will really change the overall appearance of the surface. For the longest-lasting repair you should call a professional who will make a "hot patch." This is where the asphalt is superheated. When applied it "melt-bonds" with the existing asphalt. Hot asphalt also dries harder and is therefore a more durable repair. However, if the cost of a hot patch isn't in your budget, you can follow these easy steps:

-Dig the area of the pothole to a depth of approximately six inches.

-Clean all loose material out of the hole.

-Use a tamping tool to compact the subsurface.

-Add crushed rock to the hole and tamp it, leaving at least four inches from the top.

-Use cold asphalt in a bag to make the rest of the repair, tamping in one-inch-thick layers.

-A final layer (about a half-inch thick) should be applied to the patch and covered with a layer of sand. Use the wheel of a car driven back and forth over the area until the repair is smooth.

-Brush away excess.

-With cracks and potholes repaired, the final step is to seal the asphalt. This should be done every 3 to 4 years. Use emulsified asphalt or coal-tar sealer. Pour it onto the surface and spread it out to an even finish using a rubber squeegee. Some manufacturers recommend a second coat, but you want to be careful here. Applying too much sealer can result in a slick, slippery surface.

-Asphalt maintenance and repairs should be done when the temperature is above 60F. Repairs made in warm weather render materials that are more pliable and that set more rapidly, ensuring a better bond.

Maintaining a Healthy Back while Maintaining Your Home

First, remember that anything you do that requires you to bend over and twist at the same time will most likely tweak your back. This is especially true for people who are carrying more weight than they should — particularly around the stomach region.

The good news is that your spine is an amazing mechanism. Due to its curvaceous composition, the spine is nineteen times stronger than it would be if it were a straight line. Your disks (internal shock absorbers) will withstand up to 2000 pounds of force. But there are limitations. You cannot repeatedly bend or flex the spine and twist at the same time, without a paying a price. Sooner or later – like more than over 80% of Americans – you’re likely to have back problems.

The ‘core’ to preventing a back injury is to strengthen your core or ‘torso’ by training the 29 muscles around your pelvic region. This need not be painful nor time consuming. All you need is fifteen minutes a day and a soft padded mat for the floor. Then, just lie on your back and, while keeping your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, raise your hips and hold them for a count of ten. Repeat this five to ten times. This is only one example of the many ways to strengthen your core.

Once these muscles are strong, you’ll be ready to tackle all those projects without fear of injury and you’ll gain more energy to boot! Thanks, and live with vigor!

Karel Nunnink

Tips About Fences

. About two years ago we had a storm in our area that took down half the fences in our yard. In fact, fences were blown over throughout our entire county. Shrubs were damaged, plants were crushed and our privacy disappeared. It didn't take us long to make the needed repairs. You might not have windstorms in your area, but if you have a fence, here are a few good things to know:

First, all fences have pretty much the same basic components... vertical posts set in the ground with concrete, horizontal rails that traverse between the posts that hold fence boards or pickets. (Fence boards usually are installed together to produce a solid barrier. Pickets are smaller boards that are spaced apart for an open look.) Both are good at keeping out pesky critters, but the solid fence works better.

A couple of rules:
Generally speaking you won't need to get a building permit to build a fence. However, you should check with your local building department to find out more about local fence-building rules. They do exist. In our area for example, fences cannot exceed 6 feet in height and must not protrude into a side or front yard setback. Front yard fences must not exceed 3-feet or so and must look a certain way. In some areas community approval is required before a fence can be altered or built. Rule of thumb: don't spend your money on fencing material until you find out what the rules are.

Certain types of wood are better for use outdoors than others. Pressure-treated wood is best, but cedar and redwood also are quite good. Practically any kind of wood can be used for a painted fence. Keep in mind that painted fences must be regularly recoated to maintain a waterproof surface and to ensure lasting quality of non-weather-resistant woods such as fir and pine. A good alternative to painting is heavy body stain. With stain there is no worry about chipping and splitting. However, recoating is required every several years. Even the best outdoor woods will last longer and look better if protected with a wood preservative. We have always used an oil-base product. Water-base products just don't last. It also is important to know that water doesn't bead on a properly treated wood surface. The television commercials you see are deceiving. Wax makes water bead on wood. That's because wax seals the surface causing it to be smooth... and the water beads. What you really want is an oil-base product that gets down into the pores of the wood. A wax job will last for about three months to six months whereas oil will last for a year or two. Wax evaporates into the air over four times faster than does oil. In other words, the wax will disappear in no time.

Fasteners should be weather-resistant too. We suggest stainless steel or hot dipped galvanized (not electro galvanized) nails or construction screws. Construction screws are the ones with the really wide threads that go most of the way up the shaft of the screw.

The person selling it to you might refer to it as a new polymer or PVC or by some other exotic name, but it's all still plastic. Don't get us wrong; plastic is becoming very popular for fencing. We don't feel that plastic will last as long as wood, but we are pretty sure that it will be far less difficult to maintain for the time that it does last. No paint or preservatives required, no nail pops and no splitting.

Prefabbed Sections:
Some home centers and hardware stores offer pre-assembled sections of fencing. Lots of work can be saved here, but there are a few things you need to be aware of. Many of these neat little assemblies are destined to fall apart almost immediately after they are installed. Here's why. The connectors are not truly weather-resistant. They might look galvanized, but could be the cheap kind. Also, the wood used might be especially sensitive to attack by sun and water. Be careful. You can end up with planned obsolescence at your front gate. Again, all you have to do is be certain that the sections are made out of redwood, cedar or pressure-treated wood, and that the connectors are guaranteed to be water-resistant.

Regardless of the type of fence you build, you will need fence posts and they will need to be installed in concrete. Here are a few tips:

  • The hole should be about 10 to 12-inches in diameter and about 2-and-one-half feet deep.
  • Fill the bottom of the hole with about 6 inches of drain rock.
  • Set the post on top of the rock (not in it) and pour the concrete around it.
  • The concrete should be at grade - yes, it should show - and it should be crowned so that water will shed away from the post. Water must not puddle around a fence post.

We like our fence posts 6 to 8-feet apart. Six-foot centers render a stronger fence, but cost more. For gates 4 feet wide or larger use 4x6 or 6x6 posts in 4-foot deep holes. Make sure that the holes are at least 16 inches in diameter. The better you build your fence, the longer it will last.