Anil Bharwani

Re/Max LifeStyles Realty - Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Mission - Residential & Commercial

Personal Real Estate Corporation

  • Direct: (604) 476-1111
  • Office: (604) 466-2838
  • Fax: (604) 466-2868
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In many living and family room designs, it might seem like the best place to install the flat screen television is above the fireplace. But before you do that, the Chimney Safety Institute of America advises you to take a few precautions.

  • Review the fireplace and chimney venting system. Some natural gas log units are designed to be vent-free, which means high levels of heat can be radiating out from the appliance. Heat and TVs don’t mix.
  • Check the fireplace opening for discoloration. Discoloration means that some potentially hazardous by-products of combustion are entering the home and are rising above the fireplace opening, putting them in direct contact with the homeowners and the TV.
  • Consider industry safety standards when hiding cables. National building codes recommend a minimum 2-inch clearance between combustible electrical wires and a fireplace or chimney appliance. Carefully review mounting instructions when hanging the flat screen to reduce risk. If needed, consult a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.

Consider the Options

Rob Sabin, editor-in-chief of Home Theater Magazine/HomeTheater.com, suggests using an electronic thermometer with an outdoor probe and taping the probe to the wall above the fireplace, then setting the fireplace at its highest setting and checking the temperature. “Anything over 85 to 90 degrees or so should be considered less than ideal for electronics, whether it’s inside a cabinet or on a wall,” Sabin says. “Over time, a TV that is repeatedly exposed to rising hot air over 100 degrees could see its life unexpectedly shortened and possibly even experience some misshaping of its plastic cabinetry. If you’re using the television and have the display panel and circuitry active while the fire is going in that type of installation, you’re asking for extra trouble, particularly so with plasma TVs that tend to run hotter than the LED LCD models.”

Credit: Courtesy Design Build Pros

Sabin offers some tips and suggestions:

  • If you can’t find a suitable alternative location for the TV, try altering the mantel or hearth to allow for a different heat flow pattern. He recommends consulting a fireplace professional.
  • Another issue with fireplace installs is that the height of the TV can create uncomfortable neck-craning in situations where the viewers’ seating isn’t far enough back from that wall. Explore an alternative room design that allows the TV to be mounted away from heat at a more reasonable height.
  • If the room has space on either side of the fireplace, consider setting the TV back into custom wall cabinetry or shelving to the right or left of the fireplace and then mounting the TV on an arm mount that allows it to be pulled out from the cabinet and swiveled toward the seating area. Consider installing doors to hide the TV when it’s not in use and add matching shelves or cabinetry to the other side of the fireplace to balance the look.
  • If installing the TV above the fireplace is the only option, Sabin recommends using a motorized mount, such as the ComfortVu, that pulls the TV both out and down from its resting place. This type of mount will pull the TV out about 24 inches from the wall and can lower it by as much as 38 inches from its above-the-fireplace height, and it will clear a 12-inch-deep mantel with the TV mounted just 3 inches above it. The mount costs about $1,995. However, Sabin adds, keep in mind that this might place the TV even more directly in the heat of a working fireplace, which is not recommended. 

  • —Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or@RemodelingMag.
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Summer's gone and autumn's knocking at the door. The month of October brings colorful leaves, cool breezes, and Halloween trick-or-treaters. It's also the perfect time to finish outdoor maintenance projects, brush up on your fire safety knowledge, and winterize your lawn before the cold temperatures really set in. Click through to take a look at my ten must do projects for this month. 

 

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Four deck builders share their favorite site-built railing designs

Many deck builders have told me that they rarely build wood rails anymore. Their customers are opting for low-maintenance finishes, and they're installing manufactured rail kits and components made from vinyl or composites. As Matt Breyer ofBreyer Construction and Landscape, in Reading, Pa., explains, "Of the 100+ decks we build each year, we might do five that have wood railings." Breyer says that even when installing a standard PT deck with a wood railing, he prefers to use Deckorators metal balusters, simply for ease of maintenance.

But plenty of customers and deck builders still prefer site-built wood railings. They may take longer to build and require a little extra maintenance, but in return they offer more design options and a chance to stamp your projects with a signature look. Take a look at the railings featured here and see if you don't agree that it's a fair exchange.



California Style


This railing was built with redwood and has a paint finish, though the same design could be built with reinforced composite balusters.

 

This railing was built with redwood and has a paint finish, though the same design could be built with reinforced composite balusters.

 

Credit: Gary Cherene

While I think it would be expensive to build and maintain and wouldn't be a good choice in a freeze/thaw climate, like in New England or the Midwest, one of my favorite designs is this elegant painted rail byGary Cherene of Redondo Beach, Calif. Cherene says he can assemble the balustrade using hollow Trex composite balusters reinforced with wood, though the one shown here was built with redwood. He cuts the vertical balusters and horizontal crosspieces from S4S 1 3/8-inch by 1 3/8-inch stock, and uses standard 2x4 and 2x6 stock for the rails. He profiles the edges of the 2x6 cap rail using either an ogee or a classical bit.

According to Cherene, the trickiest part is installing the crosspieces so that they're perfectly aligned. He does this by first fastening the vertical balusters to the top and bottom 2x4 rails, then snapping a pair of chalklines to mark the locations for the crosspieces. As he fastens them along his marks to the balusters with 3-inch-long stainless steel toe screws, he continually checks their alignment by eye.

Cherene typically contracts with a professional painter to spray the completed rails in place with a primer coat and three finish coats of high-quality exterior latex paint.



Built for Lighting


Even though these posts and rails are wood, they're designed to accommodate the electrical wiring needed for deck lighting.

 

Even though these posts and rails are wood, they're designed to accommodate the electrical wiring needed for deck lighting.

 

Credit: John Paulin

John Paulin's railing system is designed to accommodate deck lighting and various types of balusters as well as cable infill. The key is his two-part upper rail assembly, which he has custom-fabricated from clear, vertical-grain pressure-treated southern yellow pine.

The lower, 2x4 subrail has a 1/2-inch-deep by 1-inch-wide wiring chase routed into its upper surface. A corresponding 1/4-inch-deep chase is routed into the underside of a 2x6 cap rail that fits on top of the subrail, allowing the wiring to run unseen over the rail posts. The underside of the cap rail also has a 1/8-inch-deep by 3 1/2-inch-wide channel that creates a keyway for the subrail. To accommodate wiring that leads below deck or to a post-mounted fixture, he rips his posts into two pieces and routs 1/4-inch-deep channels into the center of each cut edge.

Most of Paulin's customers prefer his double top-rail design, in which a 4-inch gap separates the lower balustrade from the upper handrail. He typically builds the rail sections using standard 26-inch-high metal or wood balusters and 36 1/2-inch-high railing posts. Once the 2x6 cap rails are added to the assembly, the top of the railing is about 38 inches above the decking.

Post spacing is typically no more than 4 feet on-center, though Paulin says he'll increase that to 4 feet 6 inches when using stronger, vertical-grain PT pine material. To prevent sagging, he supports the middle of the longer rail section with a block.



Tile Rail


  • The tile inlay in this cedar rail was installed using offcuts from the deck's travertine tile sitting area (shown in the background), mixed in with pieces from other tile projects.

    Credit: Bruce Zaretsky

    The tile inlay in this cedar rail was installed using offcuts from the deck's travertine tile sitting area (shown in the background), mixed in with pieces from other tile projects.

Credit: Bruce Zaretsky

The tile inlay in this cedar rail was installed using offcuts from the deck's travertine tile sitting area (shown in the background), mixed in with pieces from other tile projects.

According to landscape designerBruce Zaretsky, the tile inlay shown here was a spontaneous design by his crew, and a surprise for his client. Following the installation of a travertine inlay "carpet" in a deck project, his carpentry foreman had some leftover blue floor tile on hand, and his crew decided to combine it with leftover travertine offcuts to create the inlay in the deck's 2x6 cedar cap rail.

Later, the client sealed the cedar and tile with a coat of polyurethane to keep it waterproof. This proved to be a mistake, as the sealer eventually yellowed and flaked off. Now, sealer is applied just to the wood and not to the tile, which has a silicone bead run over the grout lines to help keep water out.



Classic Hybrid


In this railing design, the upper and lower rails were milled to match the mahogany decking. The balusters are painted fir, and attached with screws and nails to PVC subrails.

 

In this railing design, the upper and lower rails were milled to match the mahogany decking. The balusters are painted fir, and attached with screws and nails to PVC subrails.

 

Credit: Emanuel Silva

Emanuel Silva of Silva Lightning Builders in North Andover, Mass., has been tweaking his classic rail design for years to continually improve its ability to stand up to the Boston area's harsh climate. It can be built with either wood or composite materials; in the version shown here, the upper and lower rails were made of 2x4 mahogany to match the decking, while the 1 3/8-inch by 1 3/8-inch balusters were painted fir. Silva cut the 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch subrails from PVC sheet goods, along with the column and post wraps and porch trim.

First to be installed were the upper and lower mahogany rails, which Silva had dressed up with a beaded profile and prefinished with a couple of coats of Penofin. He fastened the rails to the posts with pairs of 2 1/2-inch-long Kreg HD heavy-duty coated pocket screws, locating the holes so they would be hidden by the subrails once the railing inserts were installed. Silva notes that the screws must be long enough to penetrate both the PVC trim and the structural PT posts. He likes to wrap the posts with Grace Ice & Watershield SAF membrane, because it self-seals around the screws and helps keep moisture out of the posts.

Silva primed the balusters—including the ends—and cut the PVC subrails to length, then assembled the railing inserts on a flat work table. To speed assembly, he used a spacer block to position the balusters and pinned them to the subrails, using pairs of 16-gauge galvanized finish nails driven through the subrails and into the ends of each baluster. Then he drove coated 1 1/4-inch deck screws through the subrails and into the ends of the balusters.

When he installed the rail inserts, he fastened them to the top and bottom rails with stainless steel screws about 8 inches on-center. Silva says he occasionally predrills holes for the screws and plugs the holes, but usually he just overdrives the screws a little and uses filler to conceal the holes. One thing he doesn't do is the finish painting; he subs that out.



Copper Top


This rail design features a double top rail made of cedar and short upper balusters made from 3/4-inch diameter copper plumbing pipe.

 

This rail design features a double top rail made of cedar and short upper balusters made from 3/4-inch diameter copper plumbing pipe.

 

Credit: John MacDonald

One way to dress up a standard PT rail system is to add copper. Oregon deck builder Mac MacDonald cut Type M 3/4-inch diameter copper tubing (typically used for domestic water systems and widely available at hardware and building supply stores) into 4 1/2-inch lengths and inserted them into holes bored into the upper surface of a 32-inch-high guardrail. He then installed the upper caprail, which has corresponding 1/4-inch-deep holes cut into its underside. Unlike the posts, subrails, and balusters, the lower, intermediate, and upper rails were made of red cedar, and were prefinished with an exterior polyurethane varnish. A horizontal blocking detail let into the balustrade adds an interesting visual element to the rail. Carefully cut lap joints were required to avoid weakening the balusters.


Andrew Wormer is the editor of PDB.

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Anil Bharwani
Direct:(604) 476-1111
Office:(604) 466-2838
Fax:(604) 466-2868
Re/Max LifeStyles Realty
22308 Dewdney Trunk Road
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
V2X 3J2 Canada