Spring is coming…

23 Feb

Spring is coming (ideas for outdoor hardscapes and decks)

They weather has been quite awful this season but it won’t be long now until spring is officially in full swing and homeowners everywhere could benefit from preparing to make
the great outdoors even greater with hardscaping designs. Having a beautiful home doesn’t have to start and stop on the interior of a building. A living space can be transformed with the right inspiration for jaw-dropping patios, stunning decks, and beautiful walkways.

Hardscaping concepts give you the means to enjoy the weather as it starts to get a little warmer, while enjoying the blossom of new flowers, and taking in the wonders of nature around you. With the right outdoor space, you can invite friends and family to come and relax alongside you, and with so many different options available, you may be surprised to learn just how much you can do, with even the most space-conscious of gardens.

Different Types of Hardscaping

Hardscaping is an essential part of your residential outdoor living space. As a term, it refers to the hard, non-living features that make up your landscape, such as bricks, concrete, wood and more. The hardscape of your property can include anything from walkways and decks, to ornamental features and edging.

Hardscapes can be formal or informal, depending on the atmosphere you want to create, and the surrounding landscape. Often, textural variety is an important factor, as using a single texture may cause your space to appear dull and lifeless, whereas too many textures can cause an area to seem cluttered and unattractive. Find a balance, and try to choose between no more than two or three different hardscape materials. You should ensure that the textures you do choose are both visually appealing, and complimentary to the exterior of your home. After all, hardscaping should add to the overall appearance of your home, not detract from it.

Common Features of Hardscaping
In addition to decks, patios, driveways, outside structures and the like, there are a number of hardscaping features for homeowners to choose from. Paths and walkways are common elements within a landscape, which are often designed using materials like bricks, flagstone, pavers and woodchips. Retaining walls consisting of concrete blocks and rocks are also a kind of hardscape feature. You may even find that features such as stone and wooden steps are included within a complete hardscape design.

Hardscaping Ideas

Whenever you are selecting the hardscape features for your home, consider what their overall purpose will be in relation to the current theme or style of the building. Different areas of your landscape may need different hardscaping elements according to their purpose. For instance, play areas may use softer materials, whereas entertainment or dining areas may need a deck or patio to be added, that is level enough to house chairs and tables.

Other features to consider include backdrops and accessories, both of which can be important to your overall design. For instance, a sitting garden may be enhanced by a comfortable seating space or bench. Water features can be added as a way of drawing the eye to a focal point within your garden, and fences can be used to home attractive climbing plants, or hide unsightly spaces.

Hardscaping doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require planning, so if you want to be ready for the spring, it’s time to start considering your needs now. Make sure that all of your hardscaping efforts complement their surroundings.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

Ice dams: the Dangers and Remedies

10 Feb

Ice dams: the Dangers and Remedies

In simple terms, an ice dam is a ridge of ice that develops at the edge of a roof and prevents snow from adequately draining once it begins to melt. As moisture begins to build up behind the dam, it can put increased pressure on roof shingles, and start to leak through into a home, causing damage to ceilings, walls, insulation and other areas. Although ice dams do not cause the problem by themselves, without a properly installed ice and water shield membrane in your roof, you could find that your house suffers significant damage.

Often, these dams are formed when an interaction takes place between outside temperatures, snow cover, and heat that is lost through the roof. When snow accumulates on your roof, the warmer portions begin to melt the snow, allowing water to drain down to the colder portions below. This water usually gathers at the roof edge, known as the eave, and re-freezes into an ice formation which keeps liquid from draining into the gutter, as it should be.

The Dangers of Ice Dams

Ice dams present a significant problem to home owners, because they force water to leak from the roof into the envelope of the building (the ceiling and walls). This could lead to issues such as:

  • Rotted rafters, roof decking, and interior or exterior wall framing and sheathing.
  • Respiratory illnesses such as asthma, allergies, and so on for people in your household, generally caused by the growth of dangerous mold.
  • Icicles which grow to ridiculous sizes, which can then break off and cause massive roof, gutter and siding damage. In some cases, these icicles can severely injure the people who are unluckily standing beneath them when they choose to fall.
  • Reduced insulation effectiveness. Insulation that is wet does not work well, and chronically wet insulation will fail to decompress even after it has dried out. Without proper insulation, more heat can escape to the roof, melting more snow, and causing further ice dams, which in turn lead to leaks, and so on.
  • Peeling paint. Water from your roof leak can infiltrate the cavities of the wall and cause paint to blister and peel. This can happen sometime after the ice dam has dissipated, which means it is often written off as something else.

The Remedies

One of the best ways to prevent ice dams is to keep your entire roof cold, or at an equal temperature. This can be accomplished by a number of measures, including the installation of a metal roof, as the design will not allow any melting water to penetrate the surface.

Ensure that all air leaks are sealed within an attic floor, such as those surrounding hatches, wire and plumbing penetrations. This will help to guard against heat loss, and stop humidity from entering the attic.

Some older houses have insulation installed on the floor of the attic. However, modern techniques insulate the underside of the roof, extending the envelope of the building to include the attic area. Because of this, the space is sealed, rather than ventilated.

Try to remove snow from the roof when possible. Be careful that you do not harm any roofing materials or accidentally dislodge dangerous icicles in the process. Instead, create channels for the ice by hosing it with warm water. Remember, this should only be done in emergencies, as adding extra water to your roof is not typically a good idea.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

Picking Tiles That Best Suits You.

8 Feb

Picking Tiles that will withstand the Test of Time

Techniques and personal preferences aside, tile flooring simply refers to durable material that can be placed in consecutive rows over a sturdy surface. Though some eccentric characters have taken this definition as far as using solid gold blocks, or broken seashells, the most conventional options for bathrooms, kitchens and other areas of the home are stone, porcelain, concrete or glass.

As most tiles are praised for the ability to be strong, functional and practical as a form of flooring, it can be difficult to determine which option is right for you when you are searching for a material capable of withstanding the test of time. Fortunately, the decision can be made easier with a few simple considerations.

Assessing Durability

Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles

The industry of ceramic tiles makes it easy for consumers to select a tile that is appropriate for their specific application with the use of a valuable rating system, referred to as the PEI scale. This system is used to rate the surface of any given tile with a number between one and five, one representing the material least resistant to abrasion, and five representing the material that is most resistant. Though just about any tile can be utilized on a wall, flooring tiles have to withstand a lot more traffic. For floors that only see light amounts of foot traffic, a rating of class 2 could be an adequate choice.  However, for kitchens and entryways, class 3 or greater is likely to hold up the best.

Stone Tiles

Because natural stone tiles have not been constructed by man, it is incapable of following a rating system similar to ceramic tile. Stone has been utilized throughout construction for thousands of years, and some areas paved with stone flooring are still holding strong today.

Other Options (Glass and Concrete)

Every day, industries are developing new materials that expand consumers’ options when it comes to selecting tile products. Today, it is possible to access options that range anywhere from glass, to cork and concrete, made specifically to endure the test of time. However, it’s worth recognizing that decorative materials such as glass are likely to be less durable, and more prone to damage than classic options like porcelain or stone.

Selecting Style

Often, stone-effect or rustic tiles are the most popular option for homeowners, because they are capable of fitting well with just about any style of décor. What’s more, these options are ideal for hiding evidence of dirt, which makes maintenance less of a problem. Tumbled marble can be a great and timeless look that fits in many rooms, and white tiles remain popular, although they require extra upkeep. Newer options such as metal and glass tiles are sometimes being incorporated into new designs for a striking appearance, however, when you choose newer concepts for your home, you run the risk of having to change as styles continue to evolve.

Consider Color

Only you will be able to decide which color is the right one for your design purposes, but there are a few basic rules that you should remember if you want your tiles to withstand time. Darker colors are ideal for adding warmth to a space, and are good for hiding dirt in areas that see a great deal of traffic. Lighter colored tiles, on the other hand, can be utilized to make a space appear larger. Neutral colors are usually the best option if you think that your style of decorating may change over the following years, and in this case it is a good idea to stay away from bright and trendy colors, as tiles can be with you for a long time.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

Energy Efficient Windows

30 Jan

Difference (pros and cons) in Windows: Vinyl vs Wood

When you decide that the time has come to replace your windows, you will typically find that any kind of replacement will create a dramatic difference within your home. Whether you are simply updating the décor, adding value to your property, or improving the energy efficiency of a structure, window replacements can be an ideal solution. However, that doesn’t make the choice of which material to use any less important.

Fortunately, replacing your windows doesn’t have to be stressful. Understanding the differences between the vinyl and wood options will help you to prioritize your needs, and create a foundation for you to make the right decision. Here is how to identify the type of window that you home wants, and needs.

1.     Consider the Energy Saving Benefits

Now more than ever, it has become increasingly important for homeowners to focus on their property’s ability to reduce temperature management costs and conserve energy.

Vinyl is a tried and tested insulator, which can define it as a wonderful choice for windows. Through dual weather-stripping, you can maintain your windows’ efficiency, eliminating drafts and ensuring your home is as comfortable as possible.

On the other hand, wood is also an insulating material, and wooden frames can be ideal for preventing the outside atmosphere from seeping into your home. A number of modern wooden windows can also be accessed with weather stripping services that provide a great defense against condensation and excess noise. However, if you fail to maintain your windows properly, you may find that wood struggles to withstand weathering, leaving your home more accessible to the elements.

2.     Consider your Budgetary Confinements

It’s fair to say that vinyl windows are often much less expensive to purchase than wood, and can offer years of valuable service. According to professionals, energy-efficient, high-quality vinyl windows can be an excellent investment, as the material does not swell or shrink when exposed to alterations in humidity. Combine that with strong manufacturers’ warranties, short turnaround times, and consistency, and you’ll find that vinyl windows are a very attractive option.

Comparatively, wooden windows are more costly. Because they utilize a natural resource, wooden windows are affected by the impact of supply and demand. Unfortunately, the price of natural and unique beauty is not only higher during installation, but also throughout the life of your window as well, due to the requirement of continuous upkeep.

3.     Consider How much time You Have for Maintenance

Vinyl windows require the absolute minimum in maintenance efforts. One of the reasons why this material is so popular with window replacements is that it doesn’t need to be stained, scraped or painted to look good. Generally, vinyl is unaffected by moisture, and can be insulated at its core to provide sound resistance and good thermal quality. What’s more, a vinyl window only needs to be cleaned occasionally.

Wooden windows, on the other hand, require a degree of ongoing maintenance. If wood is left exposed to the elements, it can easily crack, fade or rot. However, wood can also be stained or painted to match other areas within your home. If you are drawn largely to the architectural appeal of your windows, and are willing to put time into the upkeep, wood replacement windows can be stunning.

In Conclusion

Wood and vinyl windows both have distinct positive and negative qualities when it comes to considering design and durability. Choosing the effect that is right for you will depend on which factors are the most important to you.  

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

Discovering the Newest Fad

23 Jan

Discovering the Newest Fad: Vinyl Plank Faux Wood Flooring

Many people believe that wooden flooring is a perfect way to create an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication within their home. However, hardwood flooring is not the only option available for homeowners who want to achieve the wooden flooring look. There are actually a number of carefully manufactured materials.  One such as vinyl plank faux wood flooring, which can be used to simulate the look of hardwood without the potential negatives associated with buying the authentic article.

Vinyl Plank Faux wood Flooring Defined

Hardwood flooring is constructed using natural materials, produced when trees are harvested and cut into carefully measured planks. Vinyl, on the other hand, is a man-made material, generally manufactured using petroleum. Vinyl plank faux wood flooring mimics hardwood flooring in appearance, as well as the way that it lays. Usually, this type of flooring will be elegantly printed to match the markings and colors that can be found within the natural knots and swirls of hardwood.

The Comparative Costs of Flooring

There are a number of important factors that you may take into account before you decide to jump on board with the latest fad in flooring trends. Today, most of us are living on a budget, which means that if we are going to spend money on improving or enhancing our homes in some way, we need to feel as though that cost is justified.

Authentic hardwood flooring can cost anywhere between $8 and $12 per square foot installed, although this price can vary according to the species of wood that you choose. In some cases, woods that are regarded as softer materials, such as pine and plywood, can be purchased for lower costs, however these are far less desirable, and less durable options.

Analogously, vinyl faux wood flooring generally costs between $3 and $7 per square foot installed, for materials that are fairly decent in quality. If you so choose, you may decide to purchase high-end or luxury quality vinyl planks, and you will still not pay as much as you would on an average hardwood flooring.

Life Cycle and Durability

There are two primary types of vinyl flooring to choose from: solid and printed. If you want to get the faux wood look in your flooring, then you will need to select the “printed” option. Printed materials are protected with an invisible layer which defends the surface of your floor. Generally, most manufacturers are happy to guarantee the material for as long as ten to twenty years.

Furthermore, it is difficult to beat vinyl flooring in areas of your home that would benefit from moisture resistance. Consider, for example, that you want to get that fresh wooden look within your bathroom, kitchen or even basement. Moisture can have a harmful effect on authentic wood, even if your planks have been treated, and over time, you may find that the surface begins to warp. Vinyl faux wood flooring, on the other hand, is completely impervious to moisture, even if the water is left to stand. Because of this reason, vinyl is more versatile, and generally can be installed within any room of the home.


Some people argue that you can only achieve the true elegance of wood with authentic wooden flooring. However, the surface of vinyl faux wood flooring provides an exact representation of what the material it is mimicking should look like. Because of the reason, it is possible to accurately achieve a stunning example of just about any species of wood. Unlike with real wood, though demand on the market will impact prices to a certain extent, consumers will regularly find that the price gap between rare, exotic wood species, and common woods is not particularly high.

Vinyl also provides homeowners with the opportunity to install padding under their flooring, which gives you the beauty and appearance of hardwood, mixed with the comfort and support of a more yielding, pliant material.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

Blue Board and Plastering vs Sheetrock and Joint Compound

4 Mar


Blue board and Plastering vs Sheetrock and Joint Compound

Many homes throughout the Northeast, typically built before the 1950s, have walls that are constructed of horsehair plaster. Once, this was a cheap, easy and long-lasting way to obtain smooth walls in the USA. However, if you fast-forward to the present time, it’s clear to see that the trade has since perfected the techniques and materials used to construct and plaster walls. Today, we can choose between blue board and plaster or drywall and joint compound.

Deciding between the two options can be complex. The two main materials – drywall and blue board, are very similar in terms of appearance and texture. It seems that the only true difference may be the basics of the product. Drywall is gray, and blue board is blue. However, there is much more to these materials then may originally meet the eye. Below, I will discuss the properties of both options, to help you make a more informed decision.

The Basics of Blue Board

Typically, blue board will be treated to ensure that plaster sets and dries in a uniform manner. The face of the blue board needs to be completely plastered in order to provide a suitable surface for painting. Plaster itself is a durable material that is fantastic for areas that experience a large amount of traffic. Furthermore, as a substance, it is effective at eliminating irregularities in the surface of a wall, such as nail dimples, and board seams.

The Basics of Drywall (Sheetrock)

Similarly to blue board, drywall is also carefully treated to ensure that joint compound adheres well to the surface. However, the entire board does not need to be covered to provide an adequate surface texture. Drywall that has been mixed with joint compound can be carefully sanded without causing a great deal of damage to the board itself, after which the surface can be painted. When it comes to using joint compound, you may need to utilize several coats, and seams or nail dimples can begin to show after a certain period of time. One of the major downfalls of joint compound is that, unlike plaster, it creates a large amount of dust.

What’s right for you?

In the end, most people regard blue board and plaster to be the superior product for home renovation and design, however it is more costly to obtain. The best thing that you can do is approach your next project with the appropriate research and caution. Weigh both options accordingly, and take the time to decide which method is right for your home.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com

False Fire Alarms At Your Home

27 Jun

False Fire Alarms


I personally get a number of calls throughout the year from people asking about home fire alarms. Most of the time, these alarms are the combination carbon monoxide and fire detectors, and the units are relatively easy to install, providing essential protection in the event of carbon monoxide build-up or a sudden fire.

The issue that most people experience with the “kidde” combination units, is that they regularly go off in the middle of the night for no reason, whether you’re watching television or trying to get to sleep. After experiencing the same problem myself, I decided to perform a close analysis of the instructions – something that most people fail to do.

Every fire alarm is different. Aside from simply having different features, some fire alarms also come with different methods for testing the unit itself. With a “kidde” combination fire and carbon monoxide detector, it is possible to test the unit by simply pressing and holding the “test” button. However, you can also test the system using your television remote.

If your Alarm Goes off in the Middle of the Night


The instructions suggest that if your alarm is spontaneously going off without any apparent cause, there are a number of things you should consider. First of all, find out if any garages in your area use remote-control, or if people in your neighborhood use automatic starters for their vehicle. If you disable the infrared (IR) control feature on your alarm, you may be able to experience a much sounder sleep, without worrying about your alarm waking the whole household.

False Fire Alarm

  • Instructions on how to disable your IR remote control on your fire alarm.

If disabling the infrared doesn’t work, the problem may be that your unit has started to age. Typically, a fire alarm will last for between five and seven years unless otherwise stated on the packaging. Some units will provide a signal which informs you when you should replace your product.

Usually, the biggest favor that you can do for yourself when maintaining any important device is reading the instructions that come with it. Knowing exactly how a product works can be essential, especially if that product has an impact on the safety of your home, and family.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at info@aureliconstruction.com or visit www.aureliconstruction.com