Analysing Kitchen Worktops

A worktop provides a platform not only for cooking but for socializing too. Kitchen worktop is certainly the most frequented place in a kitchen. So, aesthetic, durability and functionality are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right material for a worktop. A countertop ought to match and enhance the ambiance and style of a given room. Here are some of the kitchen worktops along with their pros and cons.

Granite Countertops
These countertops offer an elegant and charming look to your kitchen. Cleaning them is easy and it is possible to regularly wash them. Stones make the countertops have some classic look. Moreover, these countertops are long lasting. There are different colours of the granite countertops requiring little maintenance and will never be damaged as a result of heat. Putting hot utensils on the granite never affects it. When it comes to their drawbacks, the granite countertops are always expensive and will develop cracks if not properly installed. They are also prone to scratches.

Engineered Stone

Engineered stones, which are artificially made with quartz, are used in making kitchen countertops. They are highly resistant to acid, scratches or stains. Whenever you settle for a large kitchen countertop, the lines or furrows that join the stones will be visible since the stones are artificially made. They are heavier as compared to granite countertops and require professional installation.

Ceramic Countertops
These countertops are heat-resistant and require easy installation. Ceramic tiles usually scratch and could chip or crack. There are ceramic tile counterparts of different prices and colours. Custom ceramic tiles and hand-painted ceramic tiles are expensive. Normal ceramic tiles are on the other hand inexpensive and offer an elegant look to your kitchen.

Laminate Countertops
They are the cheapest among all countertops. They are of different shades and colours are artificially made. They are easy to install and durable. One major drawback of these types of countertops is their less resistance to heat and the colour of laminates could fade with time. The furrows or seams are easily seen in laminate countertops. It is not possible to repair the scratches, chips and cuts found on laminates. The laminate seals need to be properly sealed.
Glass Countertops

They form part of the modern worktop trend. Glass countertops are in translucent colours. The opaque countertops feature an opaque coating on a single glass side. It is difficult to clean and keep the glass countertops spotless. They are robust and durable since they carry much weight. It is not possible to repair the scratches and cracks and the glass could permanently break when a skillet or pan drops on it.

Concrete countertops

These countertops require professional installation and are expensive. They have seams and need proper sealing due to the porous nature of concrete. However, they last longer if properly handled. They may get discoloured upon exposure to heat.
Considering the kitchen worktop options given above, granite worktop stands out as the best one. The high cost of granite worktops will certainly payoff after decades with regard to cleanliness, aesthetics, durability and low maintenance.

How to Choose the Perfect Lighting

LED Lighting - for HomesWhen it comes to the interior design of any building one thing often left until last is the lighting. Whether you are redesigning the décor of your existing home, decorating a new home, or even redesigning the interior of your office or workplace lighting is vitally important. The use of light can transform any space, set the scene and create the perfect ambience so it must be chosen wisely.

The first thing to think about when it comes to choosing the perfect lighting is the room you are choosing it for and the purpose. Is it to create a soft ambience, say in a bedroom, or is to really refresh the space for example in an office?

If you are looking to create a relaxed setting then table lamps and floor lamps are a great idea. They can light up dark corners and bring a sense of warmth to any room, and are also ideal for reading by. In the kitchen spotlights are one of the most popular choices. Allowing an attractive aesthetic look as well as being hugely practical, spotlights will ensure that you have a creative space to prepare food and do other household work.

Being environmentally aware is also a big concern when choosing lighting for any room. Energy efficient bulbs are really a must have in today’s society and are now available in a good range of wattages, suitable for most settings.

The home office or workplace office needs a much more practical yet still stylish design than any other place. This is because the light not only ensures that you can see and work clearly on a multitude of tasks it also boosts mood and productivity levels. If your workspace is dark and dingy then creativity and productivity levels will be low; transform your office into a bright and light space and the change will be hugely noticeable.

By far the most practical, attractive and cost efficient lighting option for home offices and workspaces are LED lights. A brilliant replacement for more traditional fluorescent strip lighting, which is used in many work places today, LED light panels provide high performance and substantial savings on energy consumption, which of course is hugely beneficial especially in a large business or office.

Easy to install, LED light panels are designed to fit directly into the existing walls of your property, ideal for suspended ceilings they can also be surface mounted to walls. A great option for meeting rooms, corridors, or and domestic space this modern lighting option makes the best possible use of LED lighting technology. One of the most important advances within the industry since the invention of the light bulb, LED’s are becoming more and more popular and the technology is constantly progressing.

Contributed by Reuben Hayes from LED LightSense offering LED light solutions.

Is Your Home As Secure As You Thought It Was?

It is easy to sit inside a warm, comfortable house and believe that all is well with the world. If you have taken a lot of time and care in furnishing your home then you no doubt feel better there than anywhere else.

However, this feeling of comfort can lead to a false sense of security. Even if your home is attractive inside this is no guarantee that it is as secure as you hope. Let’s see what you can do to make it a tougher prospect for thieves.

Increase the Security

There are quite a few things you can do now to increase your levels of home security. This includes adding better locks; fitting a modern burglar alarm and making sure that you never leave doors unlocked. Your first step should be to assess the standard of the protection your property currently has. If the locks, for example, are of a low standard than this is something which burglars will be able to exploit easily.  As regards a burglar alarm; a big name, reputable firm such as ADT will give you an extensive selection to choose from.

Cut Out the Weak Points

Most homes have vulnerable spots but in the majority of cases the homeowner isn’t even aware of them. The starting point is therefore to identify these weak areas. The simplest way to do this is by viewing your home as a burglar might do. This means walking around it at night and seeing what possible points of entry are on offer. You might be shocked at what you find but that it far better than being shocked by an intruder entering your home. You should be able to solve most issues reasonably simple, either by fixing something, adding more lights or choosing better security such as that mentioned in the previous point.

Be Aware

No matter how good your home’s security is, you will still need to be aware of potential dangers. This doesn’t mean that you need to live behind a twitching curtain but it does mean being vigilant and knowing when there is suspicious activity in the neighbourhood. Setting up a neighbourhood watch scheme is a great idea, and you might find that there are plenty of other people in the street who have been thinking about the same thing. Another great idea is to look at fitting a CCTV system. These let you monitor goings on in your property without any hassle and are now easy to install and reasonably priced.

How Green Is Your House?

With more homeowners than ever looking to go green it is perhaps time to consider whether your own property is as environmentally friendly as it could be. The following are a few simple questions to get you thinking along the right lines.

What Light Bulbs Do You Use?

An incredibly simple way of cutting down on the amount of energy you consume is to switch over to energy efficient light bulbs. This won’t cost you much and will only take a few minutes of your time. You will then spend less on lighting your home and the bulbs should last a lot longer as well.  If you haven’t done this already then it is something you should think about doing as a matter of urgency.

Are Your Appliances Energy Efficient?

If you can’t remember the distant day on which you bought your current fridge or dishwasher then there is a good chance that they aren’t very energy efficient. Huge advances have been made in this area in recent years and you should be able to find a machine which gives you a better, cleaner performance and uses up fewer resources as well. It might be a reasonably big investment but you are unlikely to regret it.

Do You Waste Water?

Any fairly easy way in which to make an improvement is concerning your water usage. Many people have got bad habits which involve using a lot more of wet stuff than they really need to. There are some green products you can buy to help you with this but it is just as important that you use common sense when taking a shower, washing your car or flushing the toilet. If you really want to improve in this respect then you could buy a rainwater storage tank to give you water for the plants and look at the options for environmentally friendly shower head and toilets among other things.

Do Your Windows and Doors Let the Heat Escape?

A popular complaint in many home is that the heating needs to be turned up full when the cold months come around. This means using a lot of energy and it is hard to be green when you do this. In many cases the simple reason for this is that the property’s windows are not double glazing and let too much heat escape. By making the change to double glazed uPVC windows and well fitted doors you can ensure that you are heating up your home effectively instead of wasting energy and money. If you aren’t sure how to make a start on doing this then you only have to check out the website of a nig name company like Anglian Home Improvements to find out more details and work out what suits you best.

Accentuating the Beauty of Your Home With Bare Wood.

Whilst there are plenty of different materials to consider in the world of home improvement, natural wood has always remained right at the top of the list in terms of popularity.  For hundreds of years homeowners have favoured solid timber for their furniture, doors or fittings and it is not at all difficult to see why.  Not only is wood incredibly strong, hardwearing and simple to work with, but it is also very pleasing to the eye.  And because this organic material is available in so many gorgeous varieties, it will fit in beautifully with any type of property, be it old or modern.

Another great thing about using natural wood in your home environment is that it need not cost you the earth.  There are of course plenty of exotic timbers to consider, but ‘standard’ types of timber have just as much to offer and they can often be found for a far lower price than you would expect.  Oak and other hardwood front doors will always give the exterior of your home a jolly handsome look, whilst bare pine flooring, skirting or architrave are guaranteed to create a wonderfully cosy effect.

Since wood can be stained, waxed or varnished, you can also opt to change the entire colour scheme in and around your home from time to time.  However, if you are planning on this, then it is advisable to start off with a lighter shade to begin with as this could save you having a whole lot of stripping or sanding to do in the years ahead!

Solid wood furniture will also look great in your home and this can be picked up relatively cheaply if you are prepared to put in a little work.  There are plenty of second-hand shops out there with all kinds of items that merely require a touch of TLC.  A quick scrub with some sugar soap, a light sand and a dab of wood wax can have some genuinely magical results.  Undertaking this type of project is also extremely rewarding as giving an old piece of furniture a new lease of life will provide you with a real sense of satisfaction!

Those are just a few good reasons why solid natural wood remains so sought after.  And there are certainly no signs of this changing anytime soon.

This feature is researched and presented by UK based doors supplier Doordeals.

The Difficulties Of Stain Removal

DIY CleaningRemoving stains is perhaps one of the lesser regarded aspects of keeping a good home, but it is no less important when it comes to pride in your appearance!  Vanish, with a refitted site, host many tips all to do with removing stains. In this blog we’ll go over some of the daily spills of a home environment. Whether it is carpet stains, or any other nuisances, here are some quick tips that will help to clean up those spills.


Removing Grease and Oil

Grease and motor oil stain clothes and carpets all the time. Many people will throw away clothing affected by these stains after tinkering with a car or another type of small appliance. However, don’t throw away your belongings just yet. As soon as oil or greasy stains appear on clothing or carpeting, you should treat the area with very hot water. Then, scrape off the excess oil with a spoon, or blot the grease with a paper towel (in  an upward motion). These types of stains can be tricky, since they’re dark in colour and tend to be thick.


Removing Mud, Soil and Grass

With mud, our main tip is to avoid rubbing the stain, or trying to wipe it, whilst mud is wet, as this will lead to smearing. Let the mud dry and treat it at home. Do not try to wipe off the mud; it will only smear the stain onto more of the clothing. Once the mud or dirt stain has dried, try shaking or vacuuming the area to remove dried clumps of mud, then rinse under water when complete. Grass stains can be particularly difficult to remove, due to the dye from the chlorophyll of the plants. We recommend working from the inside out, as this will help push the stain away from the fabric.


Removing Sweat

Possibly the most annoying stain of all, particularly because it comes on slowly and is very difficult to get rid of. Underarm sweat stains occur due to anti-perspirant ingredients mixing with natural salts in sweat. Deodorants contain aluminium compounds that help to reduce moisture. This aluminium creates a stain build-up and yellowing of fabrics. Our main tip is prevention before a cure, so avoid putting your shirt on for around 30 seconds after you have applied deodorant; this will give your deodorant time to dry and should reduce the chances of a stain occurring. When trying to wash away the marks, soak the garment for an hour in warm water, then wash as usual. We also recommend adding 60mls of Vanish gel to your normal detergent.


There are many more helpful tips on the website. They range tips on how to remove blood stains, to coffee spills, and so on, and there’s all sorts of detailed information on almost every mark or little accident possible.

How to identify hazards in the workplace

Forklift Training CoursesIn any working environment, it is essential to identify all the hazards that could cause harm to your employees, visitors, customers and members of the public, and protect against them to keep everyone safe from harm. Of course not all accidents are avoidable, and it is the nature of some work that it is inherently dangerous, so no one expects you to completely negate every hazard – but as an employer you are responsible for the occupational health in the workplace and under a legal duty to do everything ‘reasonably practical.’

As such the first and most important thing you must do is to identify all the dangers present by carrying out a thorough risk assessment. Follow our simple checklist below to make sure you don’t miss anything out…

1 – Identify the hazards

You need to understand exactly what is presenting a risk and how it could cause harm.

Start by having a walk around your premises and ask yourself what could cause a risk or harm to people working there or passing through. Ask your employees what they think poses a risk to them; they may see things differently or have concerns about equipment that you don’t really come into contact with.

Look out for guidance and advice wherever you can get it – a good place to start is the HSE website, but your trade union may be able to offer an insight into identifying risks, and even the manufacturers of the equipment or chemicals you use can help.

Remember to think of things that could pose a long-term risk, such as excessively loud noises from machinery or regular exposure to cleaning substances.

Your accident book and record of ill-health may offer an insight into previous accidents or harm that you should address. You may not notice a one-off incident, but repeated accidents in the same place, for example, could reveal a particularly risky area.

2 – Identify those at risk

Ensuring you understand who is at risk from each hazard and why will help you form a strategy to manage or eliminate the danger. So don’t just consider the risk to an average worker, consider everyone individually.

For example, young workers, pregnant women, disabled people and even migrant workers have additional needs that could put them more at risk or make the consequences of an accident more severe.

Don’t forget infrequent workers or those employed sporadically or out of usual working hours. For example, cleaners and contractors may not appreciate the risks of the environment as well as trained workers so you must remember to take steps to keep them informed and safe.

Similarly, if members of the public have access to your premises, even if they have no reason to be there, or you have a shared workspace, you must consider how your work could affect others.

And again, always remember to ask your employees. They may have a better understanding of the day-to-day tasks and concerns that you could easily be overlooked by others.

3 – Assess the risk

According to law you are under an obligation to take all reasonably practical steps to protect your employees, visitors and any members of the public that may enter your premises. To do this you need to assess the severity of the risk and find a suitable solution.

The best way to assess this is to ask yourself two questions:

Can you eliminate the hazard altogether?

If the problem is something like a bumpy carpet that could cause trips, it is reasonable to expect that you would have it re-laid or replaced to completely get rid of the hazard it presents.

How can you control and reduce the risk?

If the hazard cannot be eliminated because, for example, it forms an integral part of the job, such as dangerous machinery, tools or equipment, you must take reasonable steps to reduce the risks presented and the chances that an accident would occur.

4 – Implement your risk strategies

If you are taking steps to reduce or remove the risk posed by certain hazards, you need to communicate your solutions to all members of staff and ensure they have the required information to keep themselves safe, for example:

  • A less risky alternative, such as a less harmful or abrasive cleaning product
  • Provide your employees with Personal protective Equipment, such as hard hats
  • Prevent unauthorised access to hazardous areas, using signage and security devices
  • Provide access to welfare facilities for washing to prevent the spread of disease

5 – Review regularly

Every working environment is subject to change, and even subtle changes such as an additional member of staff could alter and increase the risks present at your property. As such, it is essential that you regularly review your policies and strategies to ensure they are still adequate to provide protection.

Carrying out a full risk assessment will ensure that your business is running legally, and you can relax safe in the knowledge that you are doing everything you should to protect your employees, customers and visitors from harm. For more information on risk assessments and training to enable you to carry them out properly, contact the dedicated team at Health and Safety Training Ltd.