Archive for December, 2010

Tips for Eco-Friendly Furniture Refinishing

This is a guest post by Eric Munoz

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at

Refinishing can be great way to give old pieces of furniture a new life and maybe save yourself a couple of bucks in the process. However, in order to make this a safe, enjoyable, and eco-friendly process, there are certain things of which you should be aware. Here are four areas of the eco-friendly furniture refinishing process that you should consider before getting into a project.

Beware of Toxins and Pests

Refinishing can be a lengthy process, and you might not be sure of exactly what you are stripping or sanding off of some pieces of furniture. There could be dangerous toxins in the dust that comes off while sanding wood furniture or in the fumes that accompany stripping paint or varnish off a piece. It can therefore be important to wear items such as gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear.

It is also important to note that while picking up old furniture from unknown sources such as a garage sale, someone’s trash, or wherever, might be an eco-friendly way to reuse these items, there may be unexpected and dangerous surprises involved. With the sudden re-emergence of bed-bugs, you’ll need to be on the lookout for these tiny pests, and keep an eye open for hornets’ nests, other bugs, rodent droppings, and even the rodents themselves. While you might have the best of intentions at heart with your eco-friendly purposes, at times there can be some unintended and unexpected consequences — so be prepared!

A Proper Location

Finding the proper location to work on refinishing your furniture can be important to a safe and eco-friendly process. A well-vented place like a garage, outbuilding or other typically uninhabited space can make for a better spot to work than inside the home. This way, you can give your furniture time to sit and ensure it is devoid of pests, and have a safe place to remove dirt, debris and possibly dangerous and eco-unfriendly material.

Excess Materials

When removing what might be hazardous or toxic material from furniture, whether it is dust, old paint, stain or similar material, using a tarp or clean, hard surface on which to collect this material can keep it from escaping out into the environment. A vacuum may also be handy to sweep up dust.

To dispose of such material, it’s important to remember not to just throw it in the garbage where it will end up in a landfill. Instead, check the phone book or Internet for a local drop off facility for hazardous material. And remember, when working with furniture that might be padded such as chairs or sofas, there may be metal springs that could be recycled, fabric that could be reused or turned into rags, and foam or other padding that might be reused either as packing material or in the refinishing of the furniture itself.

Go Natural

When you have your piece of furniture prepped and ready to be refinished, look for natural finishes that could work for your purposes. Consider leaving the wood in its natural state. Maybe an all natural wood wax or oil would work, or an organic, cotton cover for a cushioned chair or sofa.

If you decide that a finish of some type is needed such as a lacquer, stain, or paint, look for products that are non-toxic and eco-friendly in nature. A quick search of the Internet should provide you with numerous options in this area as well as where such items might be found.

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at

Adding Value to Your Home

This is a guest post by, Kevin Fortmyer

Kevin was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives with his wife and 2 kids, and enjoys spending his free time camping and fishing. He works for various online schools as a freelance writer.

In the current economic climate, every penny counts more than it has since the Great Depression. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of home improvement. Hit hardest in the current recession, the present real estate market is slowly on the rebound, but is growing at a much slower pace than the rest of the economy is. Many home owners have seen their greatest investment, their house, lose up to 40% of its value in the past 3 years. Many are enacting various home improvement projects in an attempt to shore up or increase the value of their home as a result. Some are even attending interior design schools to become experts in home improvement and design. This begs the question: what are the best home improvement options to consider in the current economic climate?

1. Paint

Painting is a cheap, easy way to remodel any room of your house or revamp the exterior. With many space-enhancing color schemes to choose from, it’s hard not to find a room that could do with a splash of new color and personality. Speaking of personality, stenciling is making a comeback during the recession, allowing for an expensive look with minimal overhead cost.

2. Extend

Adding an extension to your house can add between 10 and 50% to its value, depending on where you put it and how well it’s built and finished. The key here is to find a need your home has and consider the addition to accommodate that need, such as expanding a tiny kitchen or adding a necessary bedroom for your growing family. Another idea is to add an outdoor room extension, giving you extra space for a playroom, home office, or whatever your heart desires.

3. Kitchen Remodel
Though it can be expensive, remodeling your kitchen can add 10% to your home’s value, essentially paying for itself. It is the first room potential buyers will look at that will make or break their interest in your home. It is also a room you’re likely to spend a lot of time in, and should be as comfortable, modern, and spacious as possible. Some easy and relatively inexpensive ways to improve your kitchen are:

• Add new lighting fixtures.
• Add an island.
• Paint and revamp the cabinets.
• Install new counters.
• Replace the kitchen sink.
• Make a backsplash.

4. Re-insulate
Improving the insulation in your home is a basic cost cutting home improvement you can do in a weekend that can cut your utility bill by as much as one-quarter! And while rolling out the pink fiberglass in attics and basements is a great start, there are other areas where insulation is needed that many homeowners do not consider:

• Weather-strip doors and windows to prevent both heat loss and cold air invasion.
• A water heater insulation jacket prevents heat loss through the walls of your water heater.

• Insulating your connected garage will form an extra protective barrier between your home and the elements.
• Some homes have room for blown in insulation in between the siding and the frame of the house.

5. Where you go
Although it may not seem an obvious choice, improving your bathroom is a great way to add value to your house in a room everybody will be visiting sooner or later. Adding new tile and a splash of light color to the walls can be enough to give the bathroom a completely different ambiance. Changing the lighting and the counter space can also change it into a completely new room.

As with anything in life, do not embark upon home improvement ideas without having a good plan and the proper tools and materials to execute them. Attending some classes at interior design schools is another great way to prepare yourself for the home improvement tasks that are placed before you.