The kitchen counter is easily the busiest and most used fixture of a home. From winning you over when you first stepped into your brand new home to being used for food prep, unpacking groceries, and for holding the mail, the kitchen counter takes a whole lot of wear and tear over the years, and takes constant attention to maintain clean countertops.
Sadly, there’s also a good chance that this dedicated and diligent workhorse isn’t getting nearly enough TLC because you don’t have the time or the knowledge to properly clean and maintain it.
Here’s the good news: there are a lot of stylish countertops available at a range of price points (the national average for installing countertops is sitting at around $3,000 per 30 square feet, that is $100 per sq. ft.) that are super easy to clean and care for. Below is our list of the five best looking low maintenance countertops on the market today:1. Laminate: Budget-Friendly and Diverse
Laminate countertops have a lot going for them in addition to being non-porous and easy to clean.These countertops come in an array of colors and patterns, making them a suitable and stylish choice for any home.
Unlike other countertops on this list, they aren’t heat resistant so take care not to set hot plates or pots on its surface. However, they are also the easiest and cheapest to replace in case burning.
How to Clean Laminate Countertops
Daily cleans can be tackled using a soft cloth and mild liquid detergent. A soft toothbrush can be used to scrub along metal edging or along the seams.
Cost: $5-$30 per square foot.2. Recycled Glass: Unique and Eco-Friendly
Recycled glass, which is found in a myriad of colors and patterns, is a newcomer to the kitchen countertop world, especially because it is one of the most popular environmentally-friendly options available in the market. Crafted from crushed glass which is embedded in a clear resin, this smooth and non-porous countertop is stain and heat resistant.
How to Clean Recycled Glass Countertops
Cleaning a recycled glass countertop requires only a soft cloth and some warm, soapy water.
Also, a multi-purpose or glass cleaner sprayed onto a sponge and then applied to the surface will work well. For sticky messes, use dishwashing detergent and hot water.
Cost: $55-$200 per square foot.3. Quartz: Stylish and Durable
Like the look of marble or granite in the kitchen but don’t want to deal with chasing after stains and resealing its surface? Feel free to give quartz a try. Though a bit more expensive than granite, this non-porous countertop never needs to be sealed. Keep in mind, however, that quartz can yellow if it’s exposed to direct sunlight.
How to Clean Quartz Countertops
A soft cloth and a mild detergent in warm, soapy water is the best way to keep these countertops clean and sparkling.
Cost: $55-$200 per square foot.4. Lava Stone: Rare and Expensive
If what you seek is a kitchen countertop that is heat resistant, stain resistant and requires virtually no maintenance, then lava stone is the countertop for you. Lava stone comes in an array of colors and rarely needs to be refinished and can easily last 50 years or longer, just needing a regular wipe down to clean, making it one of the easiest to clean countertops.
This kind of freedom does come with a hefty price tag, being one of the more expensive of the current range of easy to maintain countertops on the market. The demand has also recently skyrocketed, which has led to many homeowners being put on waiting lists for this uniquely beautiful countertop.
How to Clean Lava Stone Countertops
A mild detergent and a soft cloth is all you’ll need to wipe down these countertops.
Cost: $225 to $350 per square foot5. Soapstone: Timeless and Affordable
For hundreds of years, people have been installing soapstone countertops in their home, and for a good reason. This incredibly dense material is not only stain and heat resistant, but it also won’t harbor bacteria like some other countertop types.
A word of caution: soapstone will develop a darker patina as the years go on, and of these countertop options, is more likely to scratch and chip, which is why it’s found itself on the bottom of our list for the easiest to clean countertops.
How to Clean Soapstone Countertops
Avoid using any harsh cleaners and opt for mild dish soap, a soft cloth, and warm water instead.
Cost: $75-$150 per square foot.Striking a Balance Between Ease of Maintenance and Value
Smooth, non-porous materials undoubtedly reign supreme when it comes to ease of having clean countertops. But strongly consider taking other factors into account before making your choice, like longevity and home resale value, so that you can get the most value from your kitchen countertop.
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From Source Article: moneypit.com
A tree in your landscape can be a thing of beauty. But after it’s gone, the stump left behind is not so beautiful. It’s a tripping hazard, can damage your lawn mower as you try to mow around it, attract insects, and let’s face it — sawn-off trunks just don’t look great! Stump removal is your only option.
But unfortunately, removing that stub of a tree that’s left is more difficult than you might think. It’s connected to a root system that once anchored a tree, keeping it upright in all kinds of wind and weather. In fact, the root system of most trees roughly mirrors the size and height of the tree itself, spreading as far out and down as the branches reached out and up.
After the tree is gone, those roots are still attached to the stump, clamping it firmly in place in the ground. The roots will eventually decay, returning nutrients to the soil, but the stump itself can take as long as 10 years to break down. Do you really want to work around that eyesore for the next decade?
Unless you lead with your checkbook, there’s nothing “easy” about stump removal. But if your willing to trade-off waiting time for expense, there’s a number of ways to eliminate the stumps for very little cost. Here are a few different methods to choose from.
The most common method of stump removal is grinding, but that job is about as far from DIY as you can get. You’ll need to hire a tree service who’ll use a specialized stump grinder, a machine resembling a torture machine from the scariest horror movie you can imagine. The toll features a spinning circular grinding blade that is plunged into the ground again and again to chew up the stump and reduce it to sawdust.
It happens fast, but the average cost for having a stump ground is $300, and prices can go as high as $900. If you have several stumps to deal with, you can pay an hourly rate, but at $150 or more an hour that can add up quickly.
Manual Tree Stump Removal
For the hearty do-it-yourselfer, digging out a medium-to-small sized stump can be done in an afternoon. Here are the steps.Dig around the stump with a pointed shovel to expose the roots. Extend the hole a few feet out from the stump to give yourself room to maneuver. Cut through the exposed roots. It helps to have a variety of tools on hand, to get through compacted soil and different sizes of roots. Good tools for this part of the project include a lopper, pruning saw, ax, and digging bar. Continue to work your way through roots and soil until you can rock the stump back and forth. Push the trunk to one side with a pry bar and cut through the exposed roots. Repeat, making your way around the trunk to get at the roots on all sides. Continue until the root ball is cut free. Remove and fill the hole with soil.
Chemical Tree Stump Removal
Stump removal chemicals are sold online and in home improvement stores. They generally contain potassium nitrate, which speeds up the microbial process of decomposition. They may be in liquid form or a powder, to which you add water. You will want to keep kids and pets away while the chemical is doing its work.Purchase stump removal product. With a chainsaw, cut off the stump as close to the ground as possible. Drill multiple 1′ holes 10′ deep in the top of the stump. Drill a few more holes slanting inward from the side of the trunk. These will provide air to help fuel decomposition. Pour the chemical in the top holes, according to directions. Cover the stump with a tarp and wait 4-6 weeks. The wood will become spongy. Chop out the softened wood with an ax and fill the hole with soil. Depending on the size of the stump, you may need to repeat the steps. Burning Tree Stump Removal
This is particularly effective when used as a second step after the chemical removal method. Instead of chopping out the remaining wood, burn it! If you’re starting your removal with fire, you’ll find that it works best on older, drier stumps. If yours was cut very recently or it is still putting out shoots then it’s still fairly green and won’t burn as well. For obvious reasons, follow all safety precautions, have a properly rate fire extinguisher handy, and keep kids and pets away from the stump as it smolders. The process is as follows:Check with local authorities for fire burn restrictions. With a chainsaw, cut off the stump as close to the ground as possible. Drill multiple 1′ holes 10′ deep in the top of the stump. Drill a few more holes slanting inward from the side of the trunk to intersect with the holes drilled down from the top. Pour kerosene or fuel oil into the holes. Do NOT use gasoline! Wait 2 weeks to let it soak through the wood. For a large trunk, repeat and wait another 2 weeks. Clear away debris from around the trunk and lay down bricks or rock to create a fire ring. Have a hose at the ready, as wel as a large fire extinguisher rated to work on fuel oil and wood. (An ABC rated extinguisher covers all types of fires). Using sticks and kindling, build a fire on top of the trunk. Once lit, the fire will burn out as the sticks are consumed, but the trunk will ignite and start to smolder. The trunk will continue to smolder for days. Check on it a couple of times a day, and stir up the embers if needed. Once the fire is completely burned out and the area is cool, rake out the ashes and fill the hole with soil.
There’s no reason you have to trip over an ugly stump in your yard for the next decade. Just pick your plan of attack and evict that memory of a tree gone by.
From Source Article: moneypit.com
If you’ve considered keeping freshwater fish – or your kids are bugging you to add a few Goldfish to the family, you’re in good company. In fact, 10% of households throughout the US own freshwater fish; they rank as the third most popular pet that people keep. There’s no doubt fishkeeping brings a lot of joy to their owners, but at what cost?
At first glance, fishkeeping looks like a very cheap hobby however you only need to speak to a group of advanced aquarists to see that this hobby can become very addictive and end up costing quite a lot!
Fortunately, the average person to costs can be quite reasonable. This guide will outline the basic expenses and is split into two broad categories; the initial set up and the ongoing cost.
The Initial Set-Up
The initial set up is usually the most expensive part of keeping fish. A lot of beginners choose to buy a starter kit which includes a tank, filter, heater and sometimes some gravel and decorations. A starter kit costs around $100.
Alternatively, you might want to buy individual items which allows you to research each product and ensure they are what you’re looking for.
The size of the tank that you’ll need is dependent on the species of fish that you want to keep and how many. An ideal beginner tank size is 20 gallons, so we’ll focus these prices around a tank of that size.
According to the American Pet Products Association Survey 2017-2018, people spend an average of $80 on an aquarium.
Other costs you’ll have to consider for the initial set up include:A Stand – $100 Lights – $25 A Filter – $20 A Heater – $25 Gravel /Sand- $15 Rocks/Driftwood/Stones – $50 Fish – $80 Plants – $60 Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates Testing Kit – $10 Net – $5 Thermometer – $8 Algae magnet – $7 Siphon – $15 10L Bucket – $10 Dechlorinator – $10
This brings the initial set up to $520. This cost can obviously be more or less depending on how large you want the aquarium to be, how many fish you want to keep, and whether you buy a new or used tank. A 50 gallon tank will cost you more, and a 10 gallon set up will cost you less.
Used tanks are a lot cheaper and you can easily pick one up on eBay or Craigslist.
The ongoing costs of keeping fish are often not as much as the costs of keeping other pets such as cats and dogs. Most people choose not to take out insurance on their fish, but again this depends on the species of fish you’re keeping and how rare and expensive they are.Food
Like most of the other categories here, the cost of food really depends on what you want to feed your fish and how much you want to treat them.
You fish will be fine on a simple pellet or flake food, which can cost as little as $20 per year.
If you want to treat your fish to live on frozen foods such as shrimp, daphnia and bloodworms you can expect to spend in excess of $50 per year.Medication
Freshwater fish are at risk of a few different common diseases such as Ich, fin rot and fungal infections. Most of these diseases are caused by poor tank conditions and the chances of them getting these diseases can be reduced by carrying out regular water changes and not overfeeding.
However, if your fish do get an illness, you’ll likely need to buy medication to help cure them, as well as get to the root of the problem and sort the tank conditions out.
Medication can cost around $15 per year depending on how many fish you need to treat and the severity of their disease.Tank Maintenance
Other ongoing costs are related to any tank maintenance which needs to be carried out.
This includes taking care of the plants; they also require food which can cost around $15 per year.
The bulbs of the lights will also need to be replaced and will cost another $15 per year.
The cartridges in the filter will also need to be replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions this is usually around every 2 months and will cost $30 per year.
This brings the total ongoing annual cost to roughly $100 per year. These costs are just a guideline, and if you take your hobby of keeping fish to the next level and start breeding fish, or keeping expensive species then these costs will obviously increase.
Fishkeeping can be a very rewarding hobby, but it’s important to make sure that you are fully aware of the time it takes to care for them, and the costs that you’ll incur.
You can expect to pay an initial outlay of around $500 when you first set your tank up, this can easily be doubled if you choose a larger tank or more expensive species of fish.
The ongoing costs are not extortionate, and can easily be reduced if you keep on top of the maintenance and ensure the fish stay stress and disease free.
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From Source Article: moneypit.com