Getting rid of your old office furniture

Nowadays it is getting more and more difficult to get rid of your old or unwanted office furniture.  Transport, storage and labour costs means that second hand office furniture dealers are less likely to want your old furniture.

Charities have the same problem as well as being restricted by the ever tightening Health and Safety regulations.

Even taking the furniture to the local dump is more difficult nowadays. The charge for commercial waste  seems to escalate geometrically and the limitations on what can be accepted as non hazardous waste makes this method of disposal a very expensive option.

Also the furniture has to completely stripped down into its component parts so that the relevant materials are dumped in the correct places at the refuse site. As you are fully aware , as much material as possible is recycled, which in theory is a good idea, except when the cost of this recycling is so excessive.

Whilst we do not agree with the old practice of just dumping everything in landfill sites and then covering it all up, recycling has to be cost effective.

Even if you had the space we would never advise burning your old furniture, especially not office chairs. Apart from the  “non- green” effect of having a large open bonfire, there could be some very unpleasant chemicals in the furniture which should definitely not be released into the atmosphere

You could try to sell it yourself, as there seems to be a second hand market for just about everything, but you have to face the fact that it is going to take a lot of time and effort for a very small amount of money.

Usually we find that the old stuff needs to be got rid of quickly to make way for the new so spending a few weeks selling of the furniture item by item, is  not an ideal option..

It is obviously easier to get rid of just a few old desks and office chairs, than a whole office full of furniture. When a complete office needs to be cleared the only cost effective way is to ask the supplier of the new furniture to take the old stuff away. There will usually be a charge for this, depending on how much furniture you are buying from them, but the office furniture dealer will be the most cost effective solution to your furniture disposal problem.

They will have the economies of scale and the contacts to get rid of the furniture in an ecological and cost effective way.

But as it is your old furniture just check that they are not just dumping it into the local canal

Continue Reading

Flashing the ledger board is critical to the integrity of a deck

Flashing the ledger board is critical to the integrity of a deck The correct flashing with the proper profile is seen overlaying the inferior deck flashing that was installed by a non-professional.

Q. I need to install a deck ledger board against a house with wood lap siding. Soon Ill be doing the same on a brick home. What is the proper way to install flashing so I dont get any leaks where the ledger board connects to the house? My online research indicates this could be a serious problem. Something tells me that its very important to get this right.

A. Your research is spot on. Leaks at or around deck ledger boards are a serious issue. A couple of years ago, a new home was being built next door to me. I was stunned when I saw the builder nail a deck ledger board directly to the side of the house. Not only did the builder nail the board directly to the oriented strand board sheathing instead of through-bolting it, as he should have done he also failed to install water membrane behind the ledger board and to install flashing. Its a shame that many young carpenters, builders and homeowners dont connect the dots about how the exterior finishing material on a home be it wood, brick, stone, vinyl or what have you needs to act just like shingles on a roof. Traditional asphalt shingles keep you dry inside because one shingle overlaps another as they march up the roof.


A deck ledger board needs to do the same thing. It needs to be just one more component in a waterproof assembly on the side of a home. The trouble is that it takes some skill to make this happen. In the case of your wood siding, its not too tough. Stop and think about how wood lap siding works to keep your walls dry. Each horizontal siding piece overlaps the one below it so that water, as it falls, cant get behind the outer skin of your home. You need to use flashings to achieve the same overlapping effect where the deck ledger board connects to the house. Before we continue, lets discuss materials. There are new flexible membrane flashings that may make the job easier for you. I prefer metal flashing, because I know it will work and is much tougher than the membranes. Some of the membranes are sensitive to ultraviolet light, and may break down if they are exposed to sunlight. Be sure you read the product label about exposure to direct sunlight.


Once youve cut away the siding at the deck ledger location, you install a metal or membrane flashing that overlaps the siding below the ledger board. The flashing needs to overlap the siding at least as much as the wood siding did before you cut it away. Whats more, the metal flashing needs to be bent so the bottom 3/8 inch of the flashing kicks away from the house at a 30-degree angle so it doesnt touch the siding. This little kick out allows water flowing over the flashing to turn to droplets that fall to the ground. If you dont do this and the bottom of the flashing is in direct contact with the siding, capillary attraction can pull the water up so it leaks behind the siding. This first piece of flashing needs to extend up at least 2 inches behind the deck ledger board. You then attach the ledger board to the wall using approved through bolts, not lag bolts. Drill the holes through the ledger board the exact same diameter as the shank of the bolt so that its a tight fit. Use a heavy rubber flat washer that will get sandwiched between the ledger board and the metal washer thats under the head of the bolt. Once the bolt is tightened, the rubber washer will produce a waterproof connection at each hole. A second flashing now needs to be installed over the top of the ledger board. This flashing needs to extend up at least 2 or 3 inches up under the siding above the deck. Keep in mind the bottom of the upper siding should be at least two inches above the flashing or the decking thats near the house. Never put horizontal siding in direct contact with any horizontal material. This upper flashing must extend over the top of the ledger board, down the face of the ledger perhaps -inch and then kick away from the front face of the ledger board. Bend the metal so it has the 30-degree angle so water turns to drops on the edge of the metal and is not pulled up by capillary attraction. The top of the deck joists that connect to the ledger board have to have a minor fire cut put into the top corner of the joist where it connects to the ledger. This 45-degree cut does not weaken the joist at all and it prevents the joist from crushing the metal where you have bent it so it doesnt touch the ledger board. This fire cut is mission critical.

This flashing method works for brick or stone homes as well. The only problem is that the upper flashing needs to be inserted into a mortar joint up on the brick above the ledger board. Youll have to use a chisel or a grinder to remove the mortar at least -inch deep. I prefer to use 40-pound tin flashing for this work because its easy to solder it when you need to install long lengths. You cant just overlap the metal and hope it wont leak. Where two pieces of flashing connect or overlap, you need to solder that joint to make one continuous piece of flashing.

Continue Reading

How to Paint Home Siding

Hello Gail, although painting your home is often considered a basic home improvement project, completing the job successfully does require some technique and product research. In fact, choosing the right paint, or the best paint/primer combination, can be the difference between having a adequate looking paint job that lasts for a few years and having a professional looking paint job that lasts 5-8 years.

In general, I like to work with a premium quality acrylic latex paint, because these types of paint don’t usually require underlying primer and they clean up easily with soap and water. Depending on the type and color of paint that is currently on your home’s exterior, you may need to prime the siding before applying the final coat of paint . If possible bring a painted siding sample to your local paint store and ask them to recommend the best type of paint for your specific situation. Most premium brands of paint cost between $40-$60 per gallon, which is about double the cost of some economy brands, but I have always found the increase cost well worth it when viewing the finished results.

As for technique, if you are a novice house painter, I would avoid using a paint sprayer, instead opt for a high quality brush or roller (they are easier to work with and easier to clean). No matter your abilities, take the time to protect the parts of your home that you want to keep paint free. This should include covering decks and walk ways with plastic tarps and using masking tape around windows and detailed trim work. This prep time before you begin painting can allow you to paint faster and cleaner, plus you don’t have to worry about any drips, drops, or spills. Good luck!

Continue Reading

Zolton Cohen: Insulated shades have drawbacks that may offset benefits

Q: Im looking into the cost and energy effectiveness of installing interior insulated window shades in my home. In the solarium, the second-floor windows face south and east, and there is an extensive overhang, so summer sun is not an issue. The windows are double-paned and filled with argon gas, and total about 200 square feet.

Since it is a second story, I would need a remote mechanical device to raise and lower the shades, which increases the price significantly. I know a tax credit or write-off is available.

We heat primarily with propane, augmented with forced air solar in the fall and spring.

After looking at the websites of a couple of manufacturers, I found it difficult to determine what type of shade would insulate the best and whether the payback over time would make the investment worthwhile. (My husband doesnt think it would.) What do you suggest?

L.S., Kalamazoo

A: Unquestionably, adding insulating shades to your solarium windows would help prevent heat loss during the winter. Because heat moves to cold, any material that retards heat flow between the warmth inside and those cold windows will slow down heat loss.

However, how much you could save is utterly unknowable. So many variables make it impossible to put any firm number on the potential reduction in propane consumption.

One thing is certain, though: The added expense of a motorized activation system would add years, if not decades, to any return on investment. You would spend a lot of money for relatively little gain. If thats the only way to control the shades on the second-story windows, you might have no other choice. But, obviously, the more you spend on the installation, the less sense it makes from a cost/benefit standpoint.

Insulated shades, as youve discovered in your research, come in many types. All are effective, some more so than others. Generally, the thicker and bulkier the shade, the more effective the thermal barrier. In that way, shades are similar to attic insulation.

If you do put shades on the windows, youll need to be cognizant of the potential for condensation to form. Adding shades would cool the glass to the point that water could condense on the pane surfaces out of any warm, humid air getting behind the shade. Then you would have to deal with puddles on the windowsill, water possibly dripping down the wall and the risk of mildew and mold forming.

Window Quilt makes a roll-up insulating shade designed to prevent condensation. The companys products are made with seals along the edges and bottom that block air from getting behind the shades. The seals also make the shade more energy-efficient. So, if youre still thinking of going forward with this project, that might be one option to explore.

If you dont install shades, consider indoor storm windows that stay in place. Permanently-affixed storms avoid the need to raise and lower shades. Plus, they seal well enough that condensation wont crop up. The insulation value likely wont be quite as high as with a good insulated shade, but theyre worth looking into.

Continue Reading

The Best Places In Your Home For Fluorescent Lighting

Sometimes in life, a good thing comes with an unfortunate side effect. Such is the case with compact fluorescent lightbulbs. When it comes to choosing a more energy-efficient source of light, CFLs are at the top of their game. But the drawback? The light they produce isn’t so flattering.

Before you ban all CFLs from your home, check out these strategic location tips from our friends at The Nest. It’s possible to have energy-efficient lighting in your home and still enjoy a flattering, warm glow. When it comes to CFLs, it’s all about location, location, location — and blending them with other light sources to create a layered effect.

A tip? Don’t use fluorescent lighting in your bathroom. The harsh light will accent bumps, blemishes and everything else you’d rather not think about.

Do, however, use CFLs in your kitchen. The bright light makes these bulbs ideal for illuminating task areas. They’d also be great in a work space, too.

We love this sneaky trick from The Nest. Install fluorescent bulbs on top of a tall cabinet or bookshelf. This will create indirect lighting, as opposed to a direct source, and the light will bounce off the ceiling to create a softer glow that will permeate the room.

And when in doubt, consider LED instead of CFL. LEDs can last more than 10 years and produce a warmer glow than their fluorescent counterparts. And if you can afford the investment, dimmable LED bulbs are available for $40-$50. Of course, if you factor in the cost of incandescent lightbulbs over a 10-year period, you’re still likely to come out ahead with an LED option.

What’s your take on CFLs? Do you think they emit a harsher light than other bulbs? And if so, do you have any additional tips to create a more enticing glow?

Continue Reading

Create your own miniature fairy garden with whimsical figurines and settings

1. Decide what type of fairy garden youd like, says It could be a woodland garden under a shade tree or a flower fairy garden with a cottage and flowers.

2. Decide whether you want an outdoor garden or a container garden. A container garden can be moved indoors during the winter, so it will last longer. Earl advises starting small with a container garden.

The beauty here is that this approach allows even condo and apartment dwellers who lack a backyard to have one, she says.

3. Design your garden, being sure to include plenty of fairy-friendly details.

Fairies are said to favor gardens with wildflowers and a slight unkempt look, moss or thyme as a soft meadow to sleep in and space for celebrations and festivals, Earl says.

4. Choose the fairy house, which you can buy or make yourself. Also select miniature garden furniture and accessories.

5. Choose flowers designed for small spaces, says , which has a flower list on its website.

6. Add seasonal details to keep it interesting for you and the fairies. Since it is a work in progress, add new details as the fairy spirits move you.

7. According to, youre now ready to sit back, put your feet up and keep an eye out for fairies. Dont forget. Fairies tend to be very shy, so you may need to spend a lot of time relaxing near your garden in order to see one.

Continue Reading

Advantages of a metal roof

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

traditional exterior design by burlington architect Smith & Vansant Architects PC

As I’ve been learning more about trying to one day build my dream green home I’ve come across metal roofs.  I like the way they look and they can offer some nice advantages for clean energy and energy conservation, including:

Another advantage is that they hold up very well in storms as you don’t have to worry about losing shingles. had a great article on the advantages of metal roofing (it was the inspiration for this post).

Home energy expert and another Atlanta based blogger, Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard had this to say about metal roofs:

I like metal roofs and installed one on the house I built. The can help with cooling in hot climates and probably have a lower lifetime embodied energy cost than shingles because they don’t need to be replaced as frequently.

The biggest disadvantage is a higher initial cost compared to an asphalt shingle roof. also has a great list of advantages and disadvantages of a metal roof.  One of those disadvantages I really didn’t think of is the roof getting dented during a hail storm, although I guess this happens to shingle roofs as well.

There is a federal tax credit for metal roof (with appropriate pigmented coatings) and even asphalt roof (with cooling granules) is available that covers 10% of the cost of the roof (up to $500).

Do any of you have experience with metal roofs?  Other than liking the way they look (and writing a blog post), I don’t know much about them.

Continue Reading