It’s getting close to time to start putting up those Christmas decorations and what a better way to decorate an old house than with salvage! My shop has a lot of leftover parting beads from the thousands of windows we restore each year and rather than throw them away we decided to make something for our readers.
So, with a few minutes at the end of the day we thought we’d grab some old parting bead from windows dating anywhere from the 1870s to the 1940s and make a couple Christmas trees out of them. Each one is unique and has all the beautiful old patina you’d expect. They’ve been sealed with polyurethane to seal in any lead paint, but these are from old houses so don’t chew on the paint.
Hang them on the wall or put them on the mantle and you’ll have a great piece of historic decor perfect for your old house. There is a limited supply of these so if you want yours in time make sure you order before they are gone!
Check out the product page to get your today!
I’ve talked about the Different Types of Glass before and their relative energy efficiency but I wanted to dig into Low-E glass a little today so you can see if it is right for you. I get a lot of questions about making old windows energy efficient and when the temperatures start to dip the questions ratchet up.
Low-E stands for “low emissivity” and has become a standard material for windows and doors since it first arrived on the scene in earnest in the 1980s. Emissivity refers to the amount of heat that the glass is able to emit. So, a low emissivity glass will emit less heat than one with high emissivity. It works by blocking certain wavelengths of light but allowing others through. The sun’s light comes in a few forms and they each have a unique range of wavelengths.
Low-E glass attempts to block high amounts of UV and IR light while allowing as much Visible Light in as possible. I could get very science geeky here but Low-E glass is basically good at preventing heat from passing through it. In the summer it keeps the heat from getting in and in the winter it keeps the heat from getting out.
The Low-E coating is a micro-thin layer of reflective materials like tin or silver that is applied to the surface of the glass. So knowing which side is coated is imperative to good performance. In single-paned applications you always want the Low-E coating toward the interior of the building to protect it from hazing and premature wear.
In double-paned windows, the Low-E coating is typically applied to the sides of the glass that face each other in the air space so that it is protected from any exposure at all.
You may hear your glass supplier talk about soft-coat and hard-coat Low-E and be wondering which one you need. Soft-coat is usually more effective at blocking heat than hard-coat but it can only be used in double-paned applications. Hard-coat Low-E can be used in single-paned applications and is still very effective for all but the most southern climates. Even if you use a hard-coat Low-E in south Florida or Phoenix you will still enjoy the benefits of decreased heat transfer.
Is Low-E Glass Right For You?
Low-E has some definite benefits whether you live in a hot climate or a cold climate. It is used heavily in double-paned glass applications which if you’ve been a reader for long you know I am not a fan of due to their short lifespan and high failure rate. However, it can be used very effectively in single-paned form as well so that’s what I’ll be focusing on here today.
Low-E Storm Windows
I believe that in historic buildings there are two ways for Low-E glass to be used effectively. The most effective way to use Low-E glass in a historic window is by adding an exterior storm window with Low-E glass. You’ll need the hard-coat Low-E glass for this application and it can be very effective at upping the efficiency of your windows, often even beyond that of new replacement windows with double-paned Low-E!
You don’t necessarily need to build new storm windows. It is often just a matter of swapping out the existing glass with a Low-E substitute and for a very minor cost you have a big gain in efficiency. Easy improvement!
Low-E in Sash
If you don’t have storm windows or your windows won’t accommodate them like with historic steel windows then the next best option is to replace the glass in the windows themselves. I will preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of saving and preserving historic wavy glass. I don’t want it broken out or even swapped if possible, but if it’s a matter or trashing your windows or swapping the glass I see this option as a win because it saves historic windows.
You’ll want a hard-coat Low-E glass for this just like the storm windows and installing it is just a matter of digging out the old putty and glazing points and swapping the glass then re-glazing the window. Here’s a tutorial focused on replacing glass in steel windows.
The last option is probably the cheapest and easiest. Applying a tinted film to your window requires very little work and can be very effective (especially for the cost!). Finding a tint that blocks the heat and doesn’t block too much of the visible light is really the key. Gila makes a good and DIY friendly window film I have use before you can find here.
Make sure you apply your window film on the inside of the glass otherwise your tint will have a very short lifespan.
Remember, Low-E is not just for the summer, it is extremely effective at keeping heat in in the winter too so this is really an anytime of year project. Protect you furnishing from the fading effects of UV light and keep your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, just keep those original historic windows and do it the smart way!
If you’ve got cedar shakes or shingles on your old house you need to know how to care for them to make them last. Learning how to care for cedar shingles, whether they are installed as siding or roofing, is not particularly difficult.
Before you give in and paint your shingles, realize that cedar shingles can last decades with virtually no maintenance. But a little maintenance can keep them looking great and extend their life even further.
Step 1 Clean Shingles
Whether they’re on your roof or wall your shingles may develop mildew or algae and will most certainly weather to a silver/grey appearance after years of exposure. Cleaning away the age is the first step in caring for cedar shingles.
The Cedar Bureau recommends using a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Apply it with a pump sprayer let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with with a garden hose. Be sure to keep the hose pointed downward to avoid forcing water up behind the shingles.
You should find that this removes the mildew and algae and returns the shingles to a nice tan color rather than the weathered grey they were. If you find that there is still some remaining dirt or growth that remains you can use a nylon bristle brush to scrub the surface.
You want to avoid pressure washing shingles at all costs. Pressure washing can remove wood fibers thinning the wood and shortening the life of the shingles. Not only that, but it forces water into the places where it doesn’t belong possibly causing rot and mold. Read 4 Reasons You Should Never Pressure Wash Your House.
Step 2 Refinish Shingles
After the wood has dried (normally 2–4 days), you can let the wood age naturally or apply an oil-based semitransparent stain. Staining the shingles on a regular basis will help them maintain their color and last longer. Oil-based stains are my preference for wood products in general because the oil penetrates deeper and rejuvenates the wood better compared to water-based stains.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application, which usually includes recommendations for the proper wood moisture content and ambient temperature at the time of application. In general, finishes should not be applied to wood having a moisture content above 15%. You can use an inexpensive moisture meter to test the content.
The temperature during application and for 24 hours following application should be above 50° F, depending on the manufacturer. That applies not just to the air temperature but to the surface temperature of the shingles themselves.
Using a pump sprayer and a 4″ or 5″ paint brush you can cover a wide area by spraying and then back brushing the surface to work the stain into the wood. Give it at least 24 hrs drying time before further handling.
Step 3 Repeat
While shingles can be left bare to age gracefully, regular cleaning and refinishing is key to keeping wood shingles looking great and lasting for decades. Depending on the exposure and your climate a good cleaning every few years is usually called for since semitransparent stains require regular renewal.
In the end, it’s up to you whether you’re happy with silver weathered shingles or you want to maintain the original color of your shingle siding or roof. Maintaining the color takes some work, but it will extend their life over shingles left alone. The question is, “how do you like your shingles?”
'Smart Homes' are constantly being talked about nowadays; with the advance of technology, people are beginning to find their homes and the tech within it somewhat outdated. From the start of Smart TVs to the Smartphones, the Smart Technology group has grown rapidly over the last few years and who knows where it's going to go next. Smart Homes technology isn't just gadget-y, it's often energy saving, and makes how we use technology more efficient, convenient and user-friendly. So if you're looking to make some simple tech updates to make your home more up to date, then here's 5 basic home upgrades that can make your home just a little more smarter.
What is a 'Smart Home'?
Smart Home Technology generally relates to anything in the home that can be controlled or accessed wirelessly away from the actual device, whether this is a smartphone, tablet, PC or even just via your voice. It's basically technology made for the future and making everything more convenient and easier to use.
1. Smart Heating
Starting with THE most obvious - yep everyone's opting for these nowadays, smart thermostats connected to your heating. This allows you to manage your heating, even when you're not at home. What's the point in that, you ask? Well if you finish up early at the office, you can switch the heating on early ready for your arrival home. If you have teens who are likely to increase the temperature on the thermostat whilst you're away, you can see this and control it. If you accidentally leave the heating on, well you can now switch it straight off from your phone. It's seriously great for energy saving and just the convenience of it! Many thermostats also monitor usage and even tell you to the penny, how much energy you're using. The most common Smart Thermostats out there at the moment for central heating systems are the Nest and the Hive, but there are many more on the market and I'm sure even more to come! If you're looking to compare different Smart-Home thermostats, PlumbNation offer an extensive range right here for pretty much all budgets.
What about Electric Heating?
Fear not, Smart Technology has now moved into the electric heating world too. These ecoSave Smart Wifi-Ready Electric Radiators from the Electric Heating Company allow you to control your heating, just as the Nest or the Hive. BUT, electric heating goes one up on these and allows you to control the heating by each individual radiator, which makes it even more efficient and energy saving! If you're planning an evening in front of the TV, you can heat up the living room without heating up the home office, the pantry or the conservatory. It's brilliant and I think, much more logical! You do need the additional gateway kit for the Wi-Fi part to work, but you can read all about that and my review of this radiator on the blog here.
2. Smart Security & Alarms
Another pretty popular choice is in the security and alarm group. Back in the day, when Alarm systems were first brought out, they were pretty awesome. But nowadays if you hear an alarm bellowing out at 4am, well you just ignore it don't you? Very few neighbours are dropping by the house checking everything's OK. It makes the old alarm systems totally outdated and completely pointless. But what if you could check the house and alarm yourself, even when miles from home? Genuis! With smart home security systems and the added aid of cameras, you can see what's happening inside (or outside!) the home when you're not there. Each alarm package is slightly different, but with the Yale Smart Home System, you'll get a phone notification of any suspicious activity and if you see an intruder on the camera system, you can raise the appropriate call yourself. And if nothing's going on, well at least there's no alarm going off for weeks on end unbeknown to yourself whilst on the yearly vacation. It's instant and real-time security!
As well as Alarms and CCTV, there are also Smart Fire Alarms as well (like this one), which work in the same kind of way. Smart home security is the best, most efficient kind of security you can have within the home.
3. Smart Lighting & Smart Sockets
Yep, you can now control your lighting and your sockets from your wirelessly as well, which is pretty bonkers! Left the lights on? You can turn them right off. Late home but want the house to appear occupied? You can turn them back on. So how does this work, you ask? You just need to buy Wi-Fi Ready bulbs and the hub which connects them all to your Wi-Fi network. There's many brands out there now and even IKEA have their own Wi-Fi range!
It's pretty much the same deal for sockets too, and this works via a plug adapter (like these!) which you simply plug the device into. So if you've forgotten to turn the washing machine on in a rush leaving for work, well now you can turn it on straight from your phone. You'll even never have to worry about whether you've left the straighteners on again! Brilliant!
4. Smart Home HubsThis is probably the most popular one for this year; Smart Home Hubs. These are basically a device that can control almost all of the above in one place, through voice alone. There's a few different models and brands out there, but the most common one on the market is probably the Amazon Echo. This is a standalone 'pod' which you can talk to and control different things within the home. If you want to switch on those lights - you can just ask the hub to do it for you. Need to turn the thermostat down? You don't even need to pick up your phone. Smart Home hubs are also great for use a speaker and you can even request a song of your choice, yep you guessed it - just through voice. You can ask the hub to send text messages, make calls, what the weather forecast is, the square route of 64, it can even write you a shopping list. It's pretty much your own personal assistant, controlled entirely wirelessly through voice. Madness!
5. Smart Pets
No, I don't mean Pets can now be controlled from your phone - but there are crazy awesome Pet devices out there that help you to keep a track of your pets even when you're not there. My favourite of the bunch is the Smart Cat-Flap (like this one) that only allows your cat into the home. Just by using your cats microchip ID, it keeps neighbours and stray cats out and whatsmore, the cat flap also alerts you as to when he/she goes out and when they return. If your working late, it takes the worry out of not being there to let them in and if your cat likes to go out at night - well they now can! You can monitor their in/out patterns and see any unusual changes and you can also introduce a curfew to lock the flap wirelessly if you need to keep the cat in/out.
Another fave is also the PetCube which allows you to watch, interact and even feed pets, wirelessly straight from your phone. Say what? The PetCube is basically a camera which keeps a watch over your pets and you can access wirelessly on the phone. But this goes one step further as you can talk to your pet with its built-in speaker and you can release treats from the camera (yep - really!). So even when you're not there for them, well you now can be!
So that's my five favourite Smart Home Tech gadgets out there right now. Who knows what will be next - Smart Ovens perhaps? I'd love to know what Smart Home gadgets you have within your home or any weird ones you think are also worth a mention!
*This Post Is In Collaboration with PlumbNation & The Electric Heating Company. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
Fall is by far the best time to paint a house in most locations. The cooler, drier weather allows the paint to cure properly and also makes the work more enjoyable rather than suffering through the summer heat or spring showers.
Keeping your house painted is the best way to keep issues like rot or termites at bay and should be a regularly scheduled part of your maintenance every 10-20 years depending on your climate and the condition of your paint.
If you let a paint job go too long you run the risk of damage to the underlying structure AND increased costs for more involved surface prep. Heavy sanding, scraping and carpentry repairs can be budget busters so keeping your house painted regularly is a time and money saver.
Picking a Color Scheme
Before you do anything you need to start shopping for colors. Today there is an almost endless choice of colors for house paints. I have put together a listing of dozens of historic paint palettes and manufacturers on my free resource page Historic Paint Colors to help you find the right colors for your house.
While you should start with color swatches nothing beats seeing the color actually on the house. Once you have some ideas of the colors I would have your house virtually painted. Virtually? That’s right, it’s a pretty cool process you should definitely try!
My friend Ken over at OldHouseGuy.com offers Virtual House Painting where you send him a picture of your house and he photoshops your color choices on the house so you can see exactly what your colors will look like. The cost for the service ranges from $375-$425 usually and only takes a couple days. Bonus: Get $50 OFF any Virtual House Painting if you my mention my name when you book!
That is a sound investment to make sure you or your painter have a perfect template to work with. Virtual painting helps avoid mistakes when the painter is wondering where one color stops and another color starts and makes the painting process go off without a hitch!
Prepping Like a Pro
My grandfather was a painter and he always told me “the paint job is in the prep.” Anyone can slap some paint on a wall but only a meticulous person can make it last a couple decades. The secret to a lasting paint job is the proper prep. I’ll go through the steps we use for the best preparation and therefore best looking, longest lasting paint job you can get.
If your house was built before 1978 you’ll first need to test for lead paint. If the test comes out positive then you’ll either need to hire an EPA certified professional who has been properly trained in dealing with lead paint or you’ll need to follow the precautions listed in my post Working Safely With Lead Paint in an Old House.
Applying The Paint
You’re almost there! If you’ve done all the extensive prep we’ve talked about, your house probably looks like a mottled mess, but that’s all about to change. Here’s just a few tips for the main attraction.
There you have it! The right way to paint your house. Don’t settle for a bargain basement paint job because the short term savings inevitably ends with greater long term costs. As with anything, doing work the right way is expensive and time consuming, but in the end very satisfying.
Paint brushes up!
So you want to learn how to cut glass? Good! It’s an easy thing to do for any DIYer and it doesn’t require a lot of complex tools. In fact, learning how to cut glass in almost any shape or size should take no more than a couple minutes to learn. Curved shapes are just as easy as simple squares and rectangles.
Cutting glass is actually similar to cutting drywall in the sense that it is just a matter of scoring the materials properly and then breaking it along the score line. You don’t actually cut through the glass. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you though it in the steps below and in the video as well.
To get started you’ll need just one tool and there are three versions of the tool depending on how much glass you plan to cut.
What Kind of Glass Can I Cut?
This technique works for most annealed glass 1/4″ thick or under. The thicker the glass the harder it is to cut so unless you have experience, cutting thicker than 1/4″ can be problematic without professional tools.
Also, if you try to cut tempered glass you’re in for a shock. Once cut, the entire sheet of tempered glass will shatter into a million pieces. Watch the video here!
You also cannot cut laminated glass or insulated glass units. Only singe paned glass can be cut like this.
How to Cut Glass
You’ve got your glass cutter ready and you’ve cleared some space on a flat, smooth work table so you’re ready to go. I prefer laying a moving blanket on the table to keep from scratching the glass as well.
One last tip before you get started: you can’t cut a piece of glass out of the center of the glass. You always have to be cutting from an edge. The video below clears this up in case that doesn’t quite make sense yet.
1. Mark Your Cut
Using a sharpie or wax pencil, measure the dimensions of your desired glass size on the glass. Using a straight edge, or T-square if you have one, connect the tick marks. If you are cutting a curve simply trace the shape you need onto one corner of the glass.
2. Score First Side
It doesn’t matter which side you choose first, but score only one side at a time with the cutter. Apply consistent pressure and only go over the glass with one clean pass. Multiple passes will wear out your cutter and cause the cut to be inconsistent.
You can leave the straight edge in place to use as a guide or freehand the cut. Both work fine and it’s just personal preference as to what is easiest for you to get a nice straight cut.
3. Snap the Score
Carefully slide the cut portion of the glass off the edge of the table and with a quick downward pressure, snap the piece off.
Repeat steps 1-3 for each cut you need to make until you are left with a piece of glass in the proper dimensions you wanted. Watch the video below to see the whole process in action.
Glass Cutting Hacks
If after cutting your glass you discover it is just barely too large for the opening you do have some options. If it’s too small, well, I’m sorry but there is no glass stretcher on the market yet so you’ll have to start over.
You can cut off rogue corners using the same glass cutter and even cut a slim line off one edge by scoring it as above and using a pair of running pliers to slowly nibble the excess away.
Another hack if you find you are long by a 1/16″ or so is to use a belt sander with 80-grit paper to ease the edge down just enough to make things fit.
There you have it, how to cut glass! Have fun, but be careful. Glass is sharp and can easily cut you back if you aren’t careful.
Fixing up an old house requires a lot of different tools. Some of them are easy to find at the corner hardware store and some are more specialty items that are a lot harder to find. Just like picking the right wood filler or choosing the right primer can make or break your project the right tool can be a life saver.
You can probably do everything you need with a hammer, screw driver, and a saw, but it will take forever and make the process miserable! Especially if you have dozens of windows to restore or hundreds of SF of flooring to repair having the right tool can be a Godsend.
In this guide I’ll walk you through the best tools to get for any job broken out into each of the big categories of restoration work like windows, flooring, plaster, and painting so you can start simple and scale up as you need.
In each category I’ll start with a basic set of tools you absolutely need to have then we’ll talk about some next step upgrades before getting into the high end tools that will really up your production times if you are thinking about going pro. You can click on any of the tool links below to see my recommendation of style and brand I prefer.
Window Restoration Tools
Window restoration has a lot of very specific tools that you won’t use in other trades so if you are planning to do more than just a couple small repairs to your windows you’ll need some version of all of these.
Next Step Tools
Pro Level Tools
Flooring Restoration Tools
We’re talking wood floors. If you are doing repairs, installs or refinishing here is the list of tools you are gonna need. I will say that floor refinishing is one job I don’t really recommend homeowners try because it requires a lot of very specific skills and working with some very big expensive tools.
Next Step Tools
Pro Level Tools
Plaster Restoration Tools
Plaster repair fortunately has a smaller list of tools than most trades and they tend to be a little cheaper which is a welcome change from the big sanders above.
Next Step Tools
Pro Level Tools
Painting Restoration Tools
The tools for painting are pretty simple but I wanted to cover some of them in case you need it.
Next Step Tools
Pro Level Tools
'Karndean'; the word I've heard a lot around the internet lately - everyone's talking about it. I'd heard of Karndean before I even knew what the hell it was (flooring!), what it looked like, or what it felt like. So when I was offered the chance to give a test, well obviously I was like YES, I need to see what the hell all this fuss is about and what makes it so special.
What is Karndean?
Karndean is a type of floor covering. It's basically a vinyl floor - but no, not the tacky peel-and-stick kind you might find in PoundStretcher. It's a luxury vinyl floor - a kind of mid-way product, almost in-between Laminate and Lino. It's flexible, but comes in a 'plank' form, it's sound reducing, unlike the hardness of solid floors and it's also warmer underfoot. It's a great imitation product to both wood and stone and has its own additional benefits that can also make it a more favourable and smarter choice to the real stuff - Easy to clean, waterproof and maintenance-free, just to name a few!
How 'Loose Lay' Works
Karndean have a few different types of flooring, but the one I'm trying out is their loose lay floor. And loose lay - is exactly as the name suggests. You lay it loose. No need for glue, no nails, no special adhesive, no ugly trim around the perimeter of the room, nope - you just lay it on the floor and it stays there. By the power of friction and gravity! There's not even any interlocking connections between the boards. It means you spend less on materials, it takes less time to fit and you don't even need to removing skirting boards. AND, even better - you don't have to take up the whole floor just to get one plank out, if boards ever get damaged (although you do need a window sucker to actually get the board OUT). The idea is pretty genius and all made possible by its super friction anti-slip backing (shown below). It really has zero movement and it's fuss-fee easy installation is one of the reasons it's a much loved product.
How to Fit
So I'm going to write a quick little tutorial on how we've fitted our new Karndean floor, DIY style. The idea, is that in order for Karndean to work, you need a nice tight fit throughout every edge of the perimeter of the room. You don't need to remove skirting boards and if you do, you'll actually create more work for yourself as you'll have to ensure a tight fit against uneven plaster/bricks. Being able to get a tight fit means you need to be able to scribe cuts pretty well. Scribing a floor is one of the easiest types of scribing, so even if you've never done it before - it's a pretty good place to start!
For an EXCELLENT video tutorial on laying Loose Lay Karndean, as well as scribing, I thoroughly recommend watching this one from SkillBuilder on YouTube.
Things You Will Need:
Step 1 - Base Preparation
So Karndean Loose Lay flooring only works if the base beneath it is completely level and flat. That means no protruding nails, no dodgy patched concrete, no lumps, bumps, floorboard ridges, dust, dirt - you're getting the picture?
If you have a solid floor (concrete, tiles etc) and it's not very even, you'll want to lay some self-levelling compound over the top. If like us, you have floorboards you'll probably want to lay a sheet of hardboard over the top. We very luckily already had hardboard in the area where we're laying, but we made sure to properly check all the nails had been sunken into the board and we also added some cloth tape over the joins to make it seamless.
We also added a new threshold bar between the inner-porch and rest of the hallway. This will give the Karndean floor something to butt up to where the floor coverings change and it will also allow for a nice floor transition between the rooms too. This is just a slither of wood (same thickness of the Karndean floor) which we've cut to size and nailed into place. Oh and don't worry - that carpet is set for the bin one day!!
Step 2 - Laying Karndean
As shown by the 'tools required' - there really isn't that much involved when it comes to laying Karndean flooring. For the most part, you just lay the planks butted up against once another by hand, no tools, no major bashing or hammering involved to get the boards together (staring at you, laminate!) - just lay one, lay another, lay another - you can get 95% of the room done in literally minutes! The only thing you need just to make sure of, is that each plank is properly butted up against the next. This creates the watertight seal and also ensures the boards aren't going to move.
In order to scribe a cut, you need to translate the angles of the wall onto the board you need to cut. The best way to do this is to lay a board on-top of the closest board to the skirting and then push a second board up against the skirting. Using that as a guide you can then mark-up that cut onto the first board, which will be the board you'll cut. I feel like this is suuuuper awkward to explain, so again I recommend this video to see it in action.
Step 3 - Cutting Karndean
Karndean is cut with just a knife, however you don't slice all the way through the board in one cut, the process is very similar to how you would cut plasterboard. The idea is that you score a nice crisp line along the top of the board and then you snap the board along the scored line - just like you would with plasterboard - and then you finish the cut off by cutting the rest along the back of the board.
It's super easy to do, although you do need to have fairly good knife skills to give an evenly scored line. When cutting our boards, we also made sure to cut up to the line, rather than taking the line off. The snugger the fit, the better!
So the one tricky bit we have to deal with, was cutting around the door frame/architrave. This is obviously a very intricate area and trying to cut a curved sharp and well scribed cut into a material that was quite leathery was just not working for us. We really wanted it to look perfect and not sloppy, so we ended up cutting a little bit of the architrave out with the worx so we could slot the karndean underneath instead. Corner cuts were generally fine - just any odd shapes are a little iffy, so we took the short cut.
For large rooms, Karndean do suggest using a tackifier around the perimeter and every so-many cm into the room as well - this just adds a bit of extra stickiness, but it doesn't permanently hold the planks in place. You can read their official installation guide here.
So this is the final result and what our little inner hallway porch now looks like. You can see I've given the room a VERY quick coat of white paint over that grotty wallpaper. But don't worry - we will be giving it a proper makeover eventually! I think the new Karndean floor is absolutely fab - and needless to say, so so much better than what was here before. It's completely waterproof, so great for use in a mucky hallway and will be MUCH easier to clean over wood. And despite it not being real wood, it does looks and feel really very realistic too. I should also mention this is the 'Providence' Style (LLP108) floor, which is based on North American White Oak - fancy!
Grant actually laid this whole floor himself (yes, I'm the blogger but y'know, small spaces and that ?) but he was super impressed with how easy it was to do. Other than re-doing the cuts around the architrave, the floor took no more than a few hours to lay. And that involved the prep-work and a few tea breaks as well! So it was super quick to fit; no sawdust, mess, no noise(!) and as a product to DIY yourselves, it definitely gets the thumbs up from us! It's literally just a no-nonsense product.
As an actual floor covering, we also really like it too. We never wanted to have floorboards in this little space as keeping them clean in a high traffic (dirty shoes!) area is a definite losing battle! Karndean is much more practical, being fully waterproof and maintenance free. It also doesn't have any creaking sound, which is fab for us considering we both work nightshifts and often creep into the house at weird times in the night! And it's also far more durable - definitely need this one when we're still renovating!
Where to Buy & Costs
We received this Karndean from AA flooring, who stock all types and styles of Karndean and they're also the cheapest online stockist for Karndean as well. In terms of price, I definitely wouldn't be putting Karndean into the category of 'cheap' - it is, after all a luxury floor covering. However comparative to real wood, it is a little cheaper and it has many more benefits that often make it a more favourable choice. There are many different flooring designs for Karndean, but you can expect to pay between £28-£42 per m2, dependant on style.
If we were looking to buy this product, it would probably be out of our budgets for a large sized room - however if you do have the budget to buy, then I would definitely recommend checking Karndean out as a worthwhile contender!
I'd love to know what you think to our new floor. Have you given Karndean a try? Are you looking to DIY-install?
*I received Karndean for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
If you're a long-time reader around here, you'll know our house doesn't have any form of central heating. The property used to have an old back boiler in the chimney, which we've since removed and replaced with a log burner - which is absolutely FAB - but other than the room the log burner is in (kitchen-diner), the rest of the house is heat-less during the winter.
Living in a house without central heating can be freaking cold at times, it really can. Our old house also didn't have central heating and it didn't have double glazed windows either. Heating the house was a constant battle. Six years on, two heat-less homes and we've now pretty much bossed living without gas central heating - how to retain heat better, how to make heat (affordably), how to dry clothes in rooms without heat. I basically have a whole "how to live without heating" degree ?
I've done a few posts on how we live without central heating (this one is probably the best) but one thing we used in our last house and have been looking to add within this house too, is electric heating. And by that, I do not mean outdated old fashioned storage heaters that cost a bomb to run. Nope - I mean, electric heating that's energy efficient, affordable and one that actually heats rooms without taking several hours to do so. And yes - they do exist!
Why Electric Heating?First things first - why the hell would you want electric heating? Doesn't everyone have gas boilers nowadays? Simple answer: no. For us, we just couldn't afford the crazy installation costs of a gas boiler without forfeiting the opportunity of being able to renovate the rest of the house. But aside from not being able to afford a gas boiler, electric heating does have it's own benefits that made it the right choice for us anyway.
One of the things that I like about electric heating, is the fact that electric is a renewable energy source - which not only makes it greener and more eco-friendly but that also allows you to benefit from free heating if you already have solar panels on the home. Gas prices are rising far more rapidly than electric too - so even if you don't make your own electric, the stats on the current energy price-rises make electric look far more favourable in years to come too.
On top of that, electric heating also allows you room-by-room control. And by that I mean you can just switch on the radiators you actually need - unlike gas heating when it's all powered at once (not that great if you have a large house and barely use any of it - AHEM, that's us!). And with electric radiators, you can install one by one, over time rather than one giant installation cost. Adding radiators to a gas central heating circuit is far less simple, involves a lot of floorboard upheaval, mess, and cost. All of these reasons combined are why we're opting for electric heating and why I definitely don't consider electric heating as a outdated form of heating. It really really isn't. Not all houses are on the gas grid either - and whilst gas may be mainstream, it certainly isn't the be all or end all when it comes to heating.
So, as a long-standing owner of non-gas-heated homes, I've trialled a few different electric heating options over the years; some good, some bad, some 'meh'. So naturally when The Electric Heating Company and PlumbNation offered me a chance to review one of their ecoSave radiators, I was pretty excited to do so. We've never settled on a definitive "this is the one" radiator, and I was really keen to trial their ecoSave radiators specifically, as they're WiFi control-ready and being a bit of a tech geek, that is a huuuuuuuge attraction for myself and something I've never come across with electric radiators before.
Modern Sleek DesignSo this is what it looks like. It's modern, sleek in design and fits really well within our home and it's style. You can see we're actually using this in the conservatory - partly because this is the next 'finished' room that needs heating in the house and partly because I wanted to review the radiator in a conservatory setting, knowing lots of people with conservatories opt for electric heating in there anyway.
From first appearances, it doesn't look too much different from a normal radiator - unlike many electric radiators (which are ugly as hell) - this one is inoffensive, simple and can work in literally any space. Whether you're rocking quirky patterned floors like us, or have a much more traditional country home - it's neither 'too modern' or 'too old-fashioned', it's just simple in style and it works. And in total truth, appearances matter a lot to me. This could be an amazing radiator, but if it had been super ugly, I probably wouldn't have given it the time of day. Yes - I'm that house vain!
If you're wondering about those pipes showing underneath the radiator - they're actually our water pipes; they go through the wall and feed the tap in the kitchen, completely irrelevant to the radiator, as much as they kinda look connected from these shots.
Installation Costs - There Aren't Any!We've had a few electric radiators in the past and one of the greatest things about this particular radiator is that it requires absolutely no electrical installation and it just simply plugs in. Which of course means zero installation costs - no need for hardwiring, no "must be installed by a professional" guarantee issues, just a simple plug and two DIY wall brackets to fit. The radiator is also reaaalllly light, so it can be installed on drywall as well, unlike a different water-filled one we've used in the past, which weighed an actual TON.
Digital DisplayThe ecoSave radiators also have an actual digital display, showing you it's exact temperature the radiator is running at. This may sound silly, but previous electric radiators we've used just had settings of "1" "2" and "3" which does not translate very well into knowing what temperature your radiator is actually running at. It also means you can directly control the temperature by actual degrees and you're not limited by just a few different unknown heat levels. And separate to that, I also think the digital display makes it look much more quality as well. Plastic knobs, just don't do it for me.
Even Heat DistributionDespite being electric, it works in pretty much the exact same way as a regular convection radiator. The heat is pushed out the top of the radiator and is designed to give even heat distribution circulating around the room. And it certainly seems to be working - even in a not-so-great insulated conservatory, we noticed a big difference to the temperature of this room compared to adjoining rooms without an electric radiator! So it does actually work as well as it looks pretty ? I should also mention how quiet this is whilst running, it's almost silent - there's no 'boiling' noise or weird buzzing - it just runs without you even noticing!
24/7 ProgrammableA simple and yet brilliant bit of technology - you can pre-set a timetable for the radiator so that it automatically comes on throughout different times of the day. If you work 9-5, you can get it turn on at 4pm and be ready heated for your arrival home, or if it's in a bedroom, you get it to heat up an hour or two before bedtime. If you're forgetful (like me!) this is actually awesome. I can't tell you the amount of times we've come home and been standing in front of (other) electric heaters, waiting for the room to warm up in winter. Well, not anymore! There's also some really handy YouTube tutorials to take you through a step-by-step to set this up. Which I much prefer over length manuals.
WiFi Smart-Home TechnologyMy personal faaaaaavourite thing about this radiator is that it can be controlled right from your phone, in a very similar way to the 'Nest' or the 'Hive' with gas heating. You do need to buy a separate WiFi pack for this to work, but you only need one WiFi pack regardless to how many radiators you have. It turns any ecoSave radiator into a Smart-Home ready radiator that can be controlled from literally anywhere, right from your phone. So, if you're running late getting home, you can delay the start up of the radiator so you're not heating the house unnecessarily; you can check the temperature on-the-go if you have rebellious teens romping up those bills whilst you're away (that was totally me as a teen!); and whatsmore, you can wirelessly control each radiator individually - unlike gas heating where you'd just have a basic one-time thermostat throughout the property. So, if you want your kitchen to be 20 degrees and your living room to be 17 degrees, that is totally do-able and the app allows you to see how all your radiators are running at once. It's freaking brilliant!
The additional WiFi pack isn't the cheapest at £250, but as I said - you only need one regardless of how many radiators you have. It's basically a little box that plugs into your router via an ethernet cable and then connects all your radiators to the network. It's really easy to set up and can really help to save money in the long run.
Easy to Use AppSo with the WiFi pack, you also get an app and this is what it looks like from the home page - you can see we just have the one radiator called 'Conservatory' but if you have more than one radiator, these will also appear here. From this page, you can select each radiator individually to change their temperatures. (I've blocked out our address on this photo, for security reasons.)
There are two main settings to the app - 'Manual' which allows you to control the heating in real-time and you can change the temperature at any point, and 'Auto' which enables you to pre-set the radiator to a 24/7 timetable - just like you can on the digital display, but in a MUCH easier to see/change format. You can also switch between the two settings whenever you like - so if you want to manually control the radiator for an hour, but then revert back to the pre-set timetable, you can totally do that and no settings will be lost.
This photo below shows the radiator on Manual Mode. You can see both the 'current temperature' as well as the 'desired temperature' and this can be changed by simply pressing the + and - buttons. The little symbol above that (the kinda wavy one) pulsates when the radiator is powered and heating, which is when it's using electric. When it's not pulsating - you know the thermostat has kicked in, it's already at its desired temperature and the power will only come back on when the temperature drops by 0.1 of a degree. So you can literally keep tabs on how often it's being powered versus it being in "sleep mode" so to speak. And whatsmore, the app keeps a record of this, so you can visually see how much electric you are using over days, weeks, months and even the year.
The second setting is 'Auto' - which allows you to programme the radiator to a weekly timetable, just the same as on the digital display but in a much much easier to see way. There are 3 different temperatures selections; "frost" "economy" and "comfort" which you select for every hour of the day. These 3 settings each have a different temperature, but you can tailor them to your own requirements. So "economy" for us is 17 degrees, but if you want that to be 20 degrees, you can change it. You can then use these three different temperatures to programme it to a daily timetable, according to whether you want the radiator to be off (frost-protection mode) or at a comfort desired heat. I personally prefer to use this setting over Manual, as it's basically fuss-free and you don't have to think about it. If your working schedule (or when you're away from the home) isn't very predictable then the Manual setting is probably better for you.
100% Energy Efficient
As well as being more eco-friendly than gas heating, these ecoSave radiators are also 100% energy efficient, which means every inch of energy that is used is converted into heat. There is no energy 'lost' so to speak. In very simple terms, that means every single penny spent on powering this radiator is actually turned into heat. (Not like our old back boiler, where 40% of the cost went straight up the flue - true story)
Running CostsOK, so let's get to the nitty gritty - how much does it cost to run? Well, of course this depends on a lot of factors - how much your electric costs per unit - how well insulated the room is, how much heat loss you have within the room (dodgy ill-fitted windows etc) - you get the drift. BUT, I can tell you how much it cost when running per hour, based on our own specific energy prices of 11.4p/kw. At that price, this radiator cost 6p per hour to run. We have a 'background' energy usage of 2p/hr (which is mainly from the fridge) so this 8p showing below accounts for that as well.
HOWEVER, it actually doesn't cost that much - because once the radiator has heated up to the desired temperature, the thermostat kicks in and shuts off the power. So in the reality of one whole single hour, for us in a conservatory setting, it actually cost around 3-4p each hour. Which in even simpler terms, is equivalent in our house to 3/4 lights being left on for the full hour. Cheap as chips.. Literally!
By comparison of other electrical running costs, our electric underfloor heating costs 9p/hr and another comparable electric radiator we've used previously cost 10p/hr - so this is by FAR the cheapest of the lot when it comes to electric heating and I was actually really pleasantly surprised with that. It's genuinely affordable and if you are going to have more than one radiator running at a time, the last thing you want is to be racking up massive bills because they're all costing 10p an hour.
In terms of how long the radiator takes to heat up, we found on average it took between 17-30minutes to raise 2degrees in temperature. Yes, I went all science-geek on this stuff and literally sat there taking readings over the course of a few days! Obviously though, this is just for our conservatory - if you have a more insulated room, it may well take less time, with less heat loss etc. So only take this as a very rough guide!