Useful Tips Before Buying Antique Furniture

If you are not sure what you are about to buy, better defer your shopping plans until you get complete education about the product than going ahead with the gamble of making an uninformed choice! This article precisely aims at educating you about all you need to make sure before you buy antique furniture. These tips will help you make a better choice on your requirements pertaining to antique furniture as well as provide you with some useful insights to avert a possible scam. Since antiques are high in demand. They also command a higher price. And due to lack of proper understanding about antique furniture, many Smart Alecs find it easy to dupe people by selling cheap fakes in the name of antiques.

To save yourself from embarrassment, the first obvious step is to make sure that the furniture article on offer is actually ‘antique’. A true antique item is at least 100 years old. Now, how to make sure that what you are buying is actually, in fact, an antique?

Take a good look at the furniture by taking it outside the closed interiors. The first sign to observe in true antique furniture is the non-uniformity in its dimensions. This is so due to the fact that wood shrinks as it ages by up to 1/8 inch per foot. The finer aspects in wooden antique furniture may seem missing. If every nook and corner, length, breadth and width of the furniture seems perfect, this is the first sign that something is not right with the antique.

If you are told that a particular antique furniture item is of Amish made furniture, make sure it is genuine. Typically, Amish furniture is made of 3-pieces. These are joined together by different techniques but the number of sub-pieces is always small. If it is genuine Amish handcrafted furniture, it will show its class by the bulkier weight and fine craftsmanship.

Before buying the antique furniture, make sure that it has not lost its sturdiness in the years gone by. If the furniture item is not too light and delicate, you can easily test the sturdiness by sitting on it or shaking it lightly. You can also check out for cracks and cuts by running your hand smoothly all over the furniture surface.

A typically old piece of furniture item will appear discolored from certain places. Some kinds of natural wear and tear at the corners will be evident by a close look at it. This is due to the exposure, over the years, to environmental and other hazards. But the damage should look natural. For instance, the corner blocks should be the same color as surrounding wood. Any variation is a sign that the nature of woods used in a single furniture item is different.

Any kind of hardware used on the antique furniture must be original. The knobs, sliders, screws and bolts can be easily checked by careful assessment of the wood behind these attachments. Any sign of plugged holes means that the hardware has been tampered with.

The next thing is to ask the dealer for necessary warranties and guaranties. Ask all other relevant questions you may have in mind before buying any piece of furniture. For instance, the nature and periodicity of repairs undertaken on the article, the best price for the furniture etc.

Bathroom Hardware on a Budget

In this down economy a number of people are taking advantage of the affordability of homes to become a new homeowner. With houses at rock-bottom prices right now, those who never thought they’d be able to become homeowners before are finally getting that chance. But once they’ve closed on the home and started to really assess it, they realize there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Since all of their money’s gone into buying a house, closing costs, etc., they are now on a tight budget to try and make a few improvements here and there to turn that house into a home.

In this article were going to focus specifically on the bathroom and the bath hardware that can help address a whole lot without breaking the bank.

Before you even think of doing any purchasing, you really need to assess the bathroom and what you’re going to need. If you know anything about home renovation, you know that quite often nothing more than a fresh coat of paint and some new bathroom hardware can completely change the look of this room. So this might be the best way to go. First decide what color of paint you’re going to put on the walls. Second, you need to know what color your going to make the shower curtain and other large accents. Once you’ve figured these two things out, it’s time to move to the bathroom hardware.

You first need to count the number of knobs, pulls and handles that you’re going to need to replace all the ones currently in the bathroom. This is the reason that hardware becomes expensive, because there are so many pieces. Usually, the individual pieces are quite affordable but when you multiply it by the number of pieces you need, suddenly you have a bigger number than you were hoping for. But there are still some ways to shave a few dollars off of the overall price.

Economy Packs

When you’re shopping around, look for economy packs of hardware. Usually, these are the type of things that contractors buy, who do a number of houses. But, if your bathroom happens to need a lot of pieces of bathroom hardware, you might be able to get a great deal by purchasing an economy pack of hardware pieces.

Do It Yourself

Another way to save a couple bucks is by looking for hardware that’s not completely finished. Usually when you walk down the aisle of bathroom hardware you’ll see lots of pieces that are polished, painted or otherwise completely finished and ready to go on the cabinets. Well, you’re paying for all this finishing work. Instead, don’t look at the pretty display of hardware, look down below. There are quite often going to be unfinished pieces of hardware. These could be wood pieces that are waiting for you to decide how to paint or stain them so they’ll work for your bathroom. It doesn’t take that long to finish these pieces on your own and you can rack up the savings by doing some of the work yourself.

Shopping for Stone Cabinet Hardware

Stone cabinet hardware is quickly becoming a popular solution for cabinet and drawer handles and pulls. Traditionally, cabinet hardware has been made of metal, plastic, or glass, but stone creates a very unique and long-lasting look. Stone lasts as long as and is as durable as metal, plus it offers the unique characteristics and colors that glass and plastic do. Stone cabinet hardware matches perfectly with granite countertops or just about any modern décor you are looking to complete. With all of the choices involved in selecting stone cabinet hardware, sometimes it can be difficult deciding which pieces will look the best in your kitchen. Here are some stylistic reminders to think about as you make your selections.


One of the main reasons people choose stone cabinet hardware is because of the style it invokes. While stone itself is very natural, it is also possible to be more or less natural with the style of the stone cabinet hardware. For example, knobs that are a simple polished stone are more natural than highly stylized marble or granite handles. On the other hand, people who really want a polished and formal look will appreciate chiseled marble or granite rather than a natural stone knob. It all boils down to personal preference and the style you are trying to show off.

The style of your stone cabinet hardware should match your personality as well as the rest of the room it is in. Rustic cabinets will pair better with a natural stone knob, while highly contemporary cabinets with smooth finishes and sleek lines will pair better with granite or stone handles, especially if the countertops are also granite.


The size of the stone cabinet hardware is also very important. While most stone pieces are rather small, when you start looking at stone knobs, you will see that some of the stones may be rather large. Also they are all different shapes, so the natural look continues. Just be careful that you do not get too carried away with that natural look. This can cause you to choose stone knobs that are just too large for the cabinets that they will go on. Remember to think about the size of the cabinets and the drawers and try to keep the size of the knob within the size of the trim around the outside of the door’s face.

Quality and Price

Stone cabinet hardware is typically more expensive than other types of hardware because the stone is rarer. The price goes up as the rarity of the type of stone increases. Granite stone cabinet hardware will cost more than polished river stones, and cut pieces of marble will cost quite a bit more than many other types of stone. Just remember to look at the stone very carefully before purchasing. True stone cabinet hardware will be rather heavy, so beware of elegant-looking fakes that are not real stone. They are typically made of plastic or acrylic, which is a lot lighter than true stone.

Another thing to check out in terms of quality is how the stone attaches to the rest of the hardware. For example, a stone piece that is all one piece and made completely out of stone may be of a higher quality than a piece of stone that is attached to a piece of metal. However, if you are looking at stone attached to metal, then make sure to feel the metal part of the hardware. If it is heavy also, then it is definitely a very high quality piece. Also look at how the metal attaches to the stone. If it looks or feels like it will come loose soon, then just avoid it.

Hardware and Building Supplies

Hardware and building supplies are required to make a complete building. Building supplies includes cement, insulation, bricks, etc. Construction companies have all the building supplies they will need and you don’t have to provide them with anything. But when you are planning a home project you need such supplies for, there are many hardware and supplies stores that can help you out. Let’s discuss some various hardware pieces you will need for a typical building project:

o Furniture: Some hardware you will need for your furniture are the ones that are used for support and to enhance the look, design and durability of the piece. You might require furniture legs, furniture arms, frames, screws, etc.

o Bathroom Hardware: A bathroom requires many fixtures and fittings, which also need other hardware to support them and improve the whole look of the area. Bathroom hardware includes taps, tubs, shelves, mirrors, showers, holders, etc.

o Plumbing hardware: Plumbing material is very important, as there is a constant demand for water and also even if the usage is over, the water remains in these products. Thus it is imperative that the hardware used for plumbing is corrosion resistant and highly durable. Also, you need to make sure that the hardware can withstand extreme temperatures. Materials commonly used are aluminium, copper and steel.

o Doors: One of the first things someone notices about your house is the door. So, why not make sure that while they are standing on your doorstep they have something attractive to look at? Door hardware, like knockers, number plates, door handles, hinges, screws, fasteners and hooks, helps create that attractive effect.

o Cupboards and Cabinets: They sometimes are filled with very heavy things, so you need to make sure they are sturdy and also the hardware used for support is equally, if not more, sturdy and attractive as well. Hardware for cabinets is usually made from plastic, metal or even glass. Hinges, locks, handles, fasteners and brackets are all examples of cabinet hardware.

o Safety and Security: Safety and security are things everyone is interested in and the hardware makes this is an easier task. You will need window guards, burglar alarms, smoke detectors and locks, amongst others, to make your home safe.

o Window Hardware: A window is not only a piece of glass in the wall to look through. It needs many small components to make it a complete window, like fasteners, hinges, handles, locks, window extrusions, etc.

o Curtains: Curtain hardware is made generally from metal, plastic or other materials. Rings, rods, hooks and poles are usually made from aluminium or iron. You will also need curtain finials and curtain poles to hang and move the curtains. These products can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Building Supplies are used in the construction, so it would be advisable that you get professional advice and only then go ahead with the building. Some building supplies you might require:

o Cement: Cement today is available in bags of 20kg for easy handling. Also, make sure you get the correct method and ingredients to mix it up well.

o Insulation: You can get acoustic and thermal insulation for your home with batts that are durable and also fire resistant.

o Pergolas: This is a contraption that is used as a permanent awning in your outside areas. There are different kinds of pergolas, so please check with the company.

Buying Outdoor Wood Furniture – 5 Things to Know

Before you purchase any outdoor wooden furniture, learn what to look for and how to make sure it will last. Nothing matches the quality of a finely crafted wooden chair or lounger. If you are a homeowner looking to make an investment in your backyard, or maybe turn it into a country getaway, remember these 5 essential points when buying your wood furniture set. Properly constructed wood furniture can last a lifetime and provide seasons of enjoyment with very little maintenance BUT – it all starts with choosing a quality set.

1. Type of wood. When selecting wood furniture, first ask what type of wood is used and if the wood is solid stock or laminate. Each species of wood has different characteristics and reactions to the environment. Consider your weather, temperatures and sun exposure when selecting outdoor furniture. No matter which wood you choose, ask about its characteristics so you know what is required to maintain it before you buy. Cedar has been rated as the ‘best’ wood for outdoor furniture. Its natural oils make Cedar the most resistant to weather, water and insect infestation. Cedar is also naturally more stable and lighter in weight than other woods. It can be stained or simply left natural. Untreated Cedar has the same qualities as stained Cedar. Just note that untreated or natural Cedar will “silver out” or grey in a season or two.

2. Wood Thickness. Consider the thickness of the pieces of wood used. Stock lumber is most often milled to ¾” making this the industry minimum standard to maintain integrity and overall strength in wood for furniture building. This ¾” minimum has a tendency to become “wobbly” over time. Yes, all wood swells, shrinks and loosens, however, chairs made of ¾” stock seem to have a more significant “wobble effect.” Try looking for furniture made from 1″ stock.

3. Wood Appearance. To be or KNOT to be. Each species of wood has its own characteristics. Wood grains vary in appearance based upon the species and cut of the wood. Consider how knots are used in the construction of your furniture. While they can be attractive in giving wood a “rustic” or “woodsy” feel, knots weaken the strength and integrity of wood. Notice where the knots are in the planks; in the center of boards they generally do not pose a problem. If they’re at the end grain or edges of a plank, it is likely the board will crack or split at the knot or worse.

4. Choice of Hardware. Also consider the nuts, bolts and screws of outdoor furniture. Hopefully the appropriate hardware has been used but remember buying furniture that’s “assembly required,” means it’s pre-drilled, with inexpensive hardware. To save time and money factories usually use punch threaded receivers and cheap bolts to maximize profit and ease assembly with a hex wrench. Make sure to ask how the furniture is put together. The best way to join two pieces of wood is through a combination of glue and screws. Glue offers the strongest unbreakable bond because it fuses the wood on a molecular level and screws hold wood together by force and pressure. With this heavy-duty combination, basic and inexpensive galvanized or plated screws and bolts are perfectly effective. Shop for “assembled” pieces but ask how they are put together. Make sure it’s using the “glue and screw method.”

5. Comfortableness of Design. Perhaps the most important consideration is comfort. We’ve all sat in chairs that look great but were extremely uncomfortable. Like an Adirondack chair that feels okay but after 5 minutes our legs fall asleep or we can’t get out of the darn thing. Comfortable furniture is ergonomically designed, meaning it is curved in all the right places. Test each piece of furniture before you buy. Are the armrests high or low enough for you? Can you get in and out of the chair easily? If it’s a chair, sit in it. If it’s a lounger, lounge in it. If it has adjustable features, adjust them. This is the only way to tell whether the furniture is right for you.

Now remember the 5 Things to Know, Before You Buy Your Outdoor Wood Furniture and make sure to put this information to good use. You’ll be glad you did.

Stop Writing Press Releases – Start Writing News Releases

Recommending that you stop writing press releases and start writing news releases is not a play on words. It is sound advice.

In common parlance, “press release” and “news release” mean the same thing. However, the terminology people use often betrays a fundamental difference in how they put this information together and how well it is accepted by the media.

Early in my career, I was editor of a daily newspaper and later a writer with The Wall Street Journal. One of my jobs was to screen submissions to decide which ones we would print and which ones we would print and we would throw away.

Approximately 80 – 85% of submissions failed the first screening, a life or death decision usually made within 60 seconds or less. On the other hand, the vast majority of those that survived this first screening also survived the second one and were ultimately published.

What made the difference? Basically, it was in how the author of the document viewed the material being submitted.

o Losers. Information a company or organisation wanted to see printed for its own benefit.

o Winners. Information a company or organisation wanted to see printed for its own benefit and the benefit of our readers.

In both cases, the submitter had something to gain if we published the release, i.e. positive publicity. However, in the first case, the focus was on only how the submitter would benefit from publication. In the second, it was on both how the submitter and our readers would benefit.

A Concrete Example

If all this sounds a bit theoretical, here is an example to make it more concrete.

After leaving The Wall Street Journal, I was an account executive with a major international press relations agency. One of my subordinates presented me with a typically self-serving press release he wanted to distribute on behalf of his client.

The headline was something like: Egotistical Industries gains major new contract. The first paragraph said something like:

Tom Bighead today announced that Egotistical Industries has won a $350,000 contract to supply window sealants for the new sports centre currently under construction in Baden-Baden, Germany. Egotistical Industries was founded in 1989 by Mr. Bighead and his brother George, and is now considered to be the leading company in its field. Last year the company’s sales were . . . .”

In the fifth paragraph, if anyone would read that far, we learned that the sealant the company would supply had the property of not freezing in cold weather, so work on the sports centre could be carried out in December, rather than waiting for warmer weather in March or April.

This of course was the true story. If you are a reader of a professional construction magazine, you couldn’t care less that Egotistical Industries has a new contract. By contrast, you could be vitally interested in knowing that you could possibly gain three months on your construction schedule by using Egotistical’s product.

More importantly, editors of professional construction magazines would view the release this way.

Remember: Editors are vitally concerned about what their readers want to read, because if they lose readership, they lose their jobs. The real target of your release must be the editors. They are the gatekeepers. If they value the release, it gets published; if they don’t, it doesn’t.

We therefore rewrote the information into a news release with the headline: Windows in Baden-Baden Sports Centre will be sealed in the dead of winter, saving the contractor approximately $30,000 in labour costs. The first paragraph, and as many additional paragraphs as necessary, elaborated on this very attractive theme. The background information about the company came at the end of the release where it justifiably belonged.

The Short Road to Nowhere

Here’s another example. As a marketing communication consultant, I was asked by a client to write a release announcing an important new service. I was told to limit the release to 400 words. “Why 400 words?” I asked. “Well, it’s our policy to keep our releases short. Journalists like that.”

The problem was, I couldn’t find a way of saying everything that needed to be said in only 400 words. The client was insistent. I finally produced something at 400 words which the client felt was exactly what was wanted. But when the release was issued, no one published it.

The client called a few newspapers and magazines to find out why. The answer was, they just didn’t see anything that would be of interest to their readers. I then called a couple of these newspapers and magazines and asked, “Do you think you readers would be interested in X.” “Yes, why didn’t you put that in the release?”

Well, I had. But under the stricture of the 400-word limit, it had become so severely condensed as to be cryptic. It was there-if you knew what to look for. The function of an effective release is to give information, not challenge journalists to find it.

I rewrote the release. This time it came out to 650 words and was widely published. Why? Because it had been transformed from a press release, i.e. what the client wanted to say, into a news release-what journalists believed their readers wanted and needed to know.

Each time you start tapping at the keyboard, keep uppermost in mind the aspects that make a release a “news release”.

o First, a release gets published only if editors feel that it offers something their readers want and need to know. So make certain that it does.

o Second, there is no “correct” length for a news release. To paraphrase a sexist joke (I apologise, but it is just too pertinent), a news release should be like a miniskirt: short enough to be interesting, and long enough to cover the subject.

New Challenges Presented by Construction Cost Estimates

The last couple of years have been known as a time when the world economy went through a terrible time; the subsequent effects on the construction industry were not good. This resulted in this period being one of the most volatile on record when it comes to pricing of construction supplies, materials and services.

However, there is still some good news. Contractors in the construction industry will be glad to hear that the general demand for new commercial and residential buildings has been on the increase recently. This is especially the case in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, as of August 2005 construction spending was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,108.5 billion, 6.1 percent above August 2004. During the first eight months of 2005, construction spending amounted to $723.7 billion, 9.0 percent above the same period in 2004. From July to August 2005, the fastest growing segments of the construction industry were highways and nonresidential private construction. This means that it outpaced the rate of growth in residential and all other facets of public construction.

The demand towards new construction is steadily growing. One would thus think that this is good news for stable construction costs. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all. External forces have resulted in exceptional rate increases for a wide range of integral construction supplies, raw materials and services. This fact has made the process for long term cost projections more difficult now than it’s ever been.

At times when some of the most used raw materials such as petroleum, concrete and steel experience double-digit inflation rates, the amount of time for which material suppliers, subcontractors, general contractors and cost estimators can commit to pricing becomes shorter. Commercial construction companies that have an established name in the industry usually have good relationships with major subcontractors and suppliers, as well as the expertise to provide as much pricing information and commitment as possible. However, fact of the matter is that the global economy and the effects of natural disasters influenced all role players in the building process when it comes to projecting construction costs on the long term. Seeing as prices for the core raw materials are increasing at eight to ten times the economy’s inflation rate, it is thus no surprise that it is extremely difficult to commit to pricing several months in the future that is still cost-competitive.

Because the volatility of raw materials and supplies will continue for some time into the future, developers must find some other ways to compress the construction schedule and work with leading industry partners to increase the legitimacy of their project budget. Examples include:

Making contact with a general contractor or construction manager early in the process is a good way to control time in the initial planning phases. This is because these experts understand permitting and other legal requirements and can ensure all documentation is filed thoroughly and in a timely manner, reducing schedule delays early on.
Tilt-up construction and Fast Track are construction approaches that have definitely reduced the timetable for delivering a construction project.
Certain building owners are beginning to take a more active role in the building and design processes and are functioning as a team member to streamline communications and also strive towards completing projects faster

Both developers and business owners should carefully control these approaches and only work with general contractors who have a relationship with quality suppliers. This will maximize their ability to project and budget construction costs accurately right through to the end of the building’s construction process.

New Home Construction Down Sharply in May

New housing starts and applications for permits both fell sharply in May as the government’s tax credits for homebuyers expired. The news overshadows positive news on manufacturing and wholesale inflation fronts. A lull in new home construction generally translates to a spike in joblessness, as construction fuels growth in a variety of industries. From manufacturers of appliances to lumber yards to the makers of paint and stucco, the effects of a slowdown in construction are felt across the economy. The irony is that while slow construction cuts jobs, many are citing the unemployment rate as a chief reason for not buying a new home.

New home and apartment construction dropped ten percent in May, down to a seasonally adjusted rate of 592,000. April’s figures were revised downward to 660,000. Applications for new building permits, a barometer of future construction activity, fell nearly 6 percent to a 575,000 annual rate. This is the lowest the number has been in a year. Builders are scaling down now that the federal tax credits for homebuyers have expired. Key proof of this is the number of new single-family homes, which fell by 18 percent, the largest monthly drop since January 1991.

Some builders are seeing opportunity in the struggling market, buying up discounted land with the intent of developing it when a recovery is well underway. The bleak housing news was mixed with positive news from other sectors of the economy. Industrial production climbed for the third consecutive month, and wholesale inflation remains relatively small. US factories, mines, and utility companies all reported growth.

Wholesale prices dipped for a second month in a row, fueled by a 7 percent drop in gas prices and home heating oil prices. Core inflation, which does not count energy or food prices, rose slightly as well.

Inflation is expected to be held in check into June, as well, due mostly to falling energy costs, especially gasoline. Food costs in May saw the biggest decline since last July, led by an 18 percent drop in the cost of fresh vegetables, which had been driven upward by freezes in Florida at the beginning of the year.

The fact that inflation remains relatively in check translates to the Federal Reserve being able to keep interest rates down, which will aid in the recovery of the economy. Wall Street was relatively unaffected by the bad news from the housing sector as the Dow Jones climbed nearly 20 points in afternoon trading after the figures were released. The pace of new home construction, while up 40 percent from April 2009, when it reached bottom, is still down 70 percent from the peak of the housing boom in January 2006.

Typically, after a recession, construction fuels the recovery of the overall economy. This time around, however, that will not be the case. Developers are still saddled with a huge inventory of homes built during the boom, and competition is stiff with all the foreclosed and otherwise distressed properties on the market. Consequently, new home sales, which made up about 15 percent of the market in the years before the recession, now account for only about 7 percent.

Construction Tips For New Contractors

It’s been almost 25 years, since I’ve received a general contractors building license. I received my contractor’s license in 1986 and have been working in the construction business for over 30 years. It hasn’t been easy, but the lessons I’ve learned can save future contractors a lot of headaches… Ah, if only I had some of this advice.

If you’re thinking about getting your contractors license, make sure that you read as much information as you can about contracting and the type of construction business you’re going to enter. Information is the key to your success and the more information you have, the greater your chances will be for succeeding in the construction business.

1. You’ve got to make it through the first five years to beat the statistics. Don’t quote me on this, but the last statistic I heard on businesses that fail within the first five years is over 80%. That’s the bad news, the good news is that you already have this information. If you don’t want to become part of these business statistics, start gathering information on why businesses fail or succeed.

2. Your life as a contractor will require you to make sacrifices. I spent at least one year of my life as a contractor working seven days a week. I did take five days off that year and by the time the next year rolled around, I doubled my days off.

That’s the bad news, the good news is that I saved up enough money to take off three years to work on writing books and building some of the best construction information websites in the world.

These two contractor tips can make a big difference to new contractors, just starting out. Plan on making sacrifices and spending the necessary time it takes to create a successful construction company. It’s not always going to be as easy as you think and don’t allow yourself to become one of the business failures statistics.