Mattress buying guide: how to choose a mattress

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to staying happy and healthy. But buying a cheap full size mattress without doing your research first can lead to sleepless nights and achy mornings, if you aren’t sleeping on a supportive base. And mattresses can cost anything from a few hundred pounds to thousands, so you’ll want to make sure your chosen mattress is worth the investment, before you buy.

Here, we’ve put together everything you need to know before you hit the high street (or browse the web – online only mattress companies are on the rise). So whether you’re a side sleeper or suffer from chronic back pain, read on to find out what option is best for you.

Types of mattress

Open spring mattress: also known as open coil or continuous coil mattresses. These contain one long piece of metal wire coiled into numerous springs. There’s also an additional border rod or wire to maintain shape and provide structure. It’s a great value for money option, although sides are machine-stitched rather than hand-stitched, but they are lighter than other models, making them easy to turn. They tend to be less supportive than other cheap queen mattress too, so are most suited to guest bedrooms or as children’s beds, where they are used occasionally or will need replacing regularly anyway.

Pocket spring mattress: this type of mattress is more luxurious, as it’s made from individual, small springs housed in their own pocket of fabric. This means each spring moves independently, providing more support than open spring mattresses. You can buy soft, medium or firm versions, depending on your preference, and they are more breathable than memory foam or latex mattresses (so ideal if you’re always getting too hot during the night). These are heavy to turn though and can be filled with natural materials such as lambswool which may agitate allergies. This is a good option if you’re looking for a bed for two people, as the separate springs will cater for your different needs and weights, while they will also minimize the risk of you rolling towards your partner in the middle of the night.

Memory foam mattress: these more modern mattresses are made from memory foam, which is a mountable material that also responds to temperature and weight, and has hypo-allergenic properties. This means it will mold to the shape of your body, absorb your weight and relieve pressure on your joints. Not everyone likes the sinking motion of this type of cheap king size mattresses, and it can get rather warm, but it’s ideal for those who need support or suffer from a bad back, as it will maintain posture and align your spine horizontally when sleeping on your side.

Latex mattress: as the name suggests, these mattresses are filled with latex foam, which is an especially breathable material, so you won’t overheat in the middle of the night. It’s also extremely durable and should last for many years. And it’s a good option for those with allergies or asthma. They can feel rather solid at first though, so they’re better suited to those who prefer a firmer bed. Usually heavy, latex mattresses can be difficult to turn and cheaper versions can develop lumps and dents over time. Mattress firmness

How firm your mattress is will affect how well you sleep. The type of firmness you need will depend on your sleeping position, height and weight. Here we explain what level of firmness and bed outlets are best for what type of sleeper.

Soft: side sleepers or those who change positions during the night are best suited to soft mattresses. This is because the way you sleep already relieves pressure from your spine so you want your mattress to mould to your body’s natural position.

Medium soft: this is ideal for those who change their sleeping position during the night, as it will still mold to your body position but provide a little more support.

Medium firm: this is best for people who sleep on their back as you require extra lower back support, which this type of firmness offers.

Firm: This type of mattress is ideal for those who sleep on their front, are over 15 stone or suffer from back pain. This is because it will keep your back in a relatively comfortable and stable position without allowing you to sink into it as you sleep, which can cause lower back pain.

How should you sleep when pregnant?

During your first trimester, you’ll often feel sleepy and want to nap. It’s important you get the rest you need so sleep in whatever position feels most comfortable, including on your front or back.

In your second trimester, you’ll feel the baby’s weight more, which can feel uncomfortable and put extra pressure on certain areas of your body. This is when a soft mattress will help, while your bigger bump means the recommended position to sleep in is on your left side, as sleeping on your back will cause your bump to press against a main blood vessel, which may cause you to feel faint. You can also check the online mattress outlets for your comfort.

During your third trimester, your lower back may be a source of pain as it supports your baby’s increasing weight. To ease this, continue to sleep on your left side and with a pillow under your head, between your knees and under and around your bump to ease discomfort and take pressure off your muscles and hips.

What mattress do you need if you suffer from joint or back pain?

A good mattress needs to give both support and comfort and that includes ones for those who suffer from back problems.

Although a firm mattress is recommended by some retailers, you should always look for a mattress that keeps your back aligned while sleeping and relieves pressure points along your spine and joints. This has a lot to do with your weight (the heavier you are, the firmer your mattress should be), so it’s best to try a mattress before you buy – many online retailers now offer a trial period where you can return the mattress and get your money back if you don’t think it’s right for you.

The pillow you use will also affect your sleeping position and back alignment so make sure you pick one that suits your needs. Take a look at our pillow reviews to find out more.

Mattress care

Once your mattress is delivered, make sure you let it air for at least four hours. This will remove any storage smells of damp or cold. Ideally, the mattress should then be aired weekly by removing the bed linen. Remember to turn your mattress regularly too. This will stop dips forming and your weight altering part of the mattress, causing uneven sleeping.

Having a mattress protector will also help keep your mattress clean, prolonging its life. This is a sheet that goes on before your bed linen (and mattress topper) to protect your mattress from any stains or dirt.

You should aim to replace your mattresses every 8 to 10 years though. This is not only for hygiene reasons but because it will soften over time, reducing the support it gives you. If you feel sore when you wake up or you find you sleep better in other beds, it’s time for a change.

Mattress toppers

A mattress topper is an extra layer of cushioning that goes over your mattress before you put your bed sheets on. They provide additional support and comfort, while also make your bed feel more luxurious and cosy. You can pick from a variety of materials: goose feathers, polyester, cotton, wool to name a few. If you’re looking for one to complete your bed, take a look at our mattress topper reviews.

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How to Find the Right Sectional Sofa

Craving a cozy night in? sectionals sofas is the perfect way to cuddle up—with your feet up. Sectionals were invented when an unknown furniture designer decided to attach the ottoman to the sofa and make it one piece. They’ve increased in popularity in the past decade or so, as more and more family time is being spent in the great room viewing television shows and movies at home. A sectional’s design allows you to completely relax and recline in a horizontal position—as opposed to an upright arm chair or more classic, formal sofa style.

Choosing a Sectional Sofa

Choosing the right sectional is actually pretty simple. There are three sectional shapes: The U-shape, the L-shape and the Semi-circular shape. So the first step is deciding which configuration is right for your lifestyle. The best way to figure this out is to draw a floor plan. Draw your room to scale, then cut out some squares at the correct scale and experiment with different combinations. Maybe one side of the cheapest sectional sofas needs to be longer because you have the wall space and want the extra seating. If you’re working with a small space, you might only be able to do a chaise and apartment sofa combo as opposed to a sofa and additional armchairs. Larger spaces allow for a complete pit set, which is a great option to accommodate your family when figuring out seating for your family room or finished basement.

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Things to Consider

Consider the traffic pattern of your room. A chaise sounds great, but if it’s on the wrong side, it may be more of an annoyance if you have to always walk around it. A good rule of thumb is to place the chaise on the side with the least amount of traffic. Note: When a piece is labeled as right arm facing (RAF), it means the arm is on your right as you are looking at it. If a piece is labeled as left arm facing (LAF), the arm is on your left as you are looking at it.

Once you’ve decided on your configuration, make sure the dimensions are correct. Most cheap sectional couch have a pretty substantial depth, so measure the width of your current sofa and ask yourself whether or not you’d like a bit more space to really stretch out. Also, measure the length of the chaise. If you’re taller, you don’t want your feet hanging off.

Final Tips

Lastly, make sure the pieces of the sectional sofa fit in the pathway of delivery, and that they will fit in doorways, down a set of stairs (especially if there’s a landing with a 90-degree turn) and hallways. The good news is, sectionals can be made of two or more pieces, which allows for easier transporting, and offers a lot of versatility to create a configuration that works for your needs and for your space.

For even more options, consider designing your own unique cheap sectional couches with a custom furniture service.

Hot Tub and its Perfect Cover

A well-made cover is an essential part of your hot tub. It quietly fulfills two simple yet important functions: It keeps in heat, and it keeps out anything that shouldn’t be in your water. By making sure your spa is securely covered whenever it’s not in use, you can help ensure your water is kept heated, free of contaminants, and ready for you at all times.

With a bit of care and consideration, a well-made hot tub cover can remain in peak condition for several years. Nothing lasts forever, though, and eventually your cover will likely need to be replaced. Here, we’ll show you how to take good care of your hot tub cover to extend its longevity and, once it has outlived its usefulness, how to find the perfect replacement.

HOW TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR HOT TUB COVER

Cheapest Hot Tubs covers are designed to be durable and require relatively little maintenance. However, to keep your cover in prime condition for as long as possible, make sure you treat it well and follow a few good practices:

  • Handle your cover gently. Your hot tub’s cover is made from an outer layer of water-resistant vinyl surrounding a reinforced foam core, which is wrapped in plastic or laminate to form a vapor barrier. If the cover is ripped, punctured, or otherwise damaged, water may permeate the vapor barrier and saturate the interior foam, which will limit your cover’s ability to do its job. So take care: Keep it away from sharp edges and rough surfaces, and never drag it across the ground.
  • Strongly consider adding a cover lifter to your spa.In addition to eliminating the need to struggle with a bulky, heavy cover, cover lifters also keep the cover safely raised and stored off of the ground while your spa is in use, thus keeping it clean and reducing the risk of damage.
  • Keep your cover clear. Your cover helps insulate your hot tub by creating a tight seal: Warm air can’t escape, and cooler air can’t enter. In inclement weather, don’t let snow or ice accumulate on top of your hot tub cover—the weight of the snow can cause it to bend and sag in the center, breaking the seal and letting heat seep out.
  • Your cheap hot tub cover is not a piece of furniture. For safety reasons, never let children or pets climb on top of a covered hot tub. Even if your cover is resting on solid ground, though, it’s not a good idea to let anyone stand or sit on it; in a similar vein, avoid the temptation to use your covered tub as a makeshift table. Using your hot tub cover in ways in which it was not designed to be used can damage the vinyl or cause the foam interior to sag.
  • After adding chemicals to your water, leave your hot tub uncovered for half an hour to give them time to purify and freshen the water. Some chemicals commonly used in water care systems, including chlorine, need to interact with air in order to work properly. Covering up your hot tub immediately after treating your water can trap chemical vapors against the cover, which can damage it. Similarly, always monitor the pH balance of your water. A solution that’s either too acidic or too basic isn’t just ineffective at keeping your water clean—it also might weaken the materials in your hot tub cover.
  • Clean your hot tub cover occasionally with mild soap and water. Surface grime or mildew can easily transfer from your cover to your water—or can even cause lasting damage.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A REPLACEMENT HOT TUB COVER

Even if you take meticulous care of your hot tub cover, at some point it’ll probably need to be replaced. Take a close look at it: Does it lie flat over your spa, or does it sag in the center? Is the vinyl torn, punctured, or cracked? Has your cover grown noticeably heavier over time? That’s water weight: A heavier cover means spa water has permeated the vapor barrier protecting the foam core. Does your cover smell like must or mold? Mold and bacteria thrive in warm, damp environments, and while your swim hot tubs water care system will eradicate any contaminants inside your spa, your cover could be vulnerable. A bad smell might indicate that mold is growing inside your cover’s foam core. If your hot tub cover is showing any of these signs of age or overuse, it’s time to replace it.

When you’re looking for a replacement hot tub cover, keep these tips in mind for the best results:

  • Look for durable manufacturing details, such as heavy-duty stitching and the use of marine-grade vinyl. As the name implies, “marine-grade” is a classification of products specifically designed or treated to withstand heavy use in water.
  • Fit is the key consideration. If your hot tub cover doesn’t fit over the top of your hot tub snugly enough to create a tight seal, it doesn’t matter how well-made that cover might be—heat will escape, and your swim hot tub cover won’t be able to do its job. A custom cover designed to fit your particular hot tub brand and model is by far your best choice.
  • In heavy winds, your hot tub cover could be blown away. Look for a replacement cover with sturdy, adjustable straps to keep your cover securely fastened to your hot tub, even when the weather turns wild.
  • If you have children, or if your backyard or patio where your hot tub is located may be accessed by children, you’ll want to make sure your cover has child safety locks, which prevent kids from entering your spa without your knowledge and supervision.

If you’re looking to save money, you may be tempted to order an inexpensive hot tub cover from an online retailer. While you might be able to snag a bargain, there are risks attached: If your cover is sent through the mail, it could be crushed, punctured, or otherwise damaged in transit, rendering it unusable. More importantly, though, you might end up compromising on two vital considerations in the pursuit of a deal: fit and quality. When you order online—particularly when you order from a site that doesn’t specialize in hot tubs—you run the risk of ending up with a poorly-made, ill-fitting cover that will do little to insulate or protect your spa. Instead of saving money, you could end up throwing your cash away.

When you need to replace your hot tub cover, your trusted local dealer will be able to steer you in the right direction. You can also use this cheap hot tubs for sale option to buy new and sale your old one. They’re the established experts on your particular hot tub brand and model. If aesthetics are important to you, your dealer will also be able to show you hot tub replacement covers in colors and styles that perfectly match your decor. While your hot tub cover won’t last forever, your dealer’s guidance and knowledge will help ensure that finding a replacement isn’t a chore.

Affordable Ways to Upgrade an Outdated Kitchen

It’s officially that time of year: the festive season has ended, family and friends have gone, and your home looks likes a war zone. If your house is anything like ours, the kitchen cheap cabinets seems to have sustained the bulk of the collateral damage. The worst part of the whole situation? The holidays have left a major dent in your wallet. But now is not the time for despair, because I’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest and most affordable ways to upgrade your kitchen.

  1. When remodeling your kitchen in true Fixer Upper style isn’t always financially possible, there are a few simple tricks you can use to make the most of your cabinets direct space.
  2. One of the easiest, and cleverest, ways to make your kitchen look like new is to reorganize your drawer, cupboard, and counter space. You’ll be amazed at what a little bit of de-cluttering and stacking can do. The best part? It costs you nothing.
  3. Once you’ve organized your drawers, take your de-cluttering to the next level by tidying away small appliances and thoroughly cleaning work and storage surfaces.
  4. Update your kitchen’s tired walls with inexpensive but bold modern art prints or family photos. Just choose your favorite, add a frame, and hang on the wall for an instant lift.
  5. Next, stage your kitchen with a fresh cut bouquet of flowers, a bowl of fruit, or some homemade cakes or cookies and you’re all set.

Cosmetic changes

  1. For kitchens that need more than a basic face lift, here are a few money saving projects that won’t cost an arm and a leg but will make your cheap kitchen cabinet look brand-new.
  2. A coat of paint can do wonders for any room in your house, but this is particularly true in the kitchen. Choose a neutral color that will go well with appliances and cupboards, and make sure your paint is of the highest quality so it will last longer.
  3. Give your range a fresh new look with a shiny new oven hood; we particularly love stainless steel at Modernize. If you shop smart, you don’t have to spend tons here.
  4. Change out your rusty old kitchen faucets and taps for a shiny new model. Bonus points if you choose one with an extendable hose!
  5. It really is amazing what new lighting can do for a room. Switch out your old, outdated lighting fixtures and install something new and exciting over your worktops and dining table — and while you’re at it, make sure to use energy-saving LED bulbs.
  6. If your kitchen cabinets wholesale and drawers are looking worse for wear but you can’t afford to replace them entirely, just change out the knobs and handles. These can be purchased at any home improvement store, so choose any style you like.

DIY/ remodeling projects

  1. Sometimes home improvement projects are about more than simply updating tired surfaces and fixtures. If you want to really get stuck in to your discount kitchens cabinets, choose a DIY project where you can purchase your own materials and save on labor costs.
  2. If you have time and a little bit of cash, you can replace your old cabinet doors with newer models without completely gutting your kitchen. If you don’t have the time, try re-staining the existing doors to give them new life.
  3. Add a moveable island to larger kitchens to increase worktop and storage space as well as completely change the feel of a room. Either buy one from the Scandinavian superstore of your choice or make your own, if you’re itching for a hands-on project.
  4. Give your backslashes a new lease on life with new adhesive tiles. Much cheaper than their stone, marble, and glass counterparts, adhesive tiles are inexpensive and simple to install. Just make sure you’ve got your level handy.

Splurges

If for some strange reason you find yourself with a sudden windfall of spending money, your kitchen upgrade would definitely benefit from a few splurges such as new appliances and flooring from NorthEast Factory Direct. While this is not an affordable renovation solution, if you shop around during post holiday sales, you can find reasonable deals on these large but important purchases.

Ten Worst-Rated Mattress Types to Avoid

Looking over the worst-rated mattress models and brands on Sleep Like The Dead’s website and other consumer mattress review websites, we also noticed a few trends. Without naming names, the following traits are most commonly linked with dissatisfied customers and lower overall satisfaction. Watch out for these trends in order to separate the best mattresses from the inferior ones.

1. Promotional Mattresses

Promotional mattresses are those sold for a limited time only, often as door buster deals during major holiday sales. Their primary place is to catch eyes during sales. Since the models tend to be limited to a specific store and time, it can be difficult to research reviews or accurately compare them to other offers. These cheap mattress are typically priced very cheaply, but have significantly lower quality than average and may also have limited or no warranties. If you really want the cheap full size mattress so do not compromise on the quality and chose the furniture store which is also giving warranties.

2. Very Cheap Beds

With the exception of temporary use/guest mattresses and children’s beds, very cheap mattresses (under $500 or so for a queen) generally tend to have worse overall ratings compared to mid-priced beds (in the $800-$2000 range). It is important to carefully weigh quality, reviews, and expected lifespan against the price.

Cheaper mattresses can provide good comfort initially, but where satisfaction tends to suffer is in the longer term, as the lower-quality materials tend to break down faster and lose comfort sooner. These types of beds also tend to have less warranty coverage, meaning they will likely need to be replaced sooner. So the choice of cheap queen mattress is good but it requires warranty and quality for your comfort for long time.

3. Too-Thin Mattresses

Thinner mattresses tend to have lower comfort ratings in most lines, especially among side sleepers and larger individuals. This is because the comfort layers in the bed need to be able to adequately cushion the sleeper against the coils or support foam to prevent pressure points.

People over 250 lbs prefer beds of at least 10”, while those over 300 pounds tend to prefer mattresses at least 14” thick. If you are side sleeper, your ideal mattress will likely have at least 3” of cushioning material.

4. Hot or Constrictive Memory Foam

Memory foam can vary considerably by density and formula. Though as a whole memory foam mattresses tend to earn the highest ratings, the people that dislike their beds tend to either have an issue with the heat or difficulty moving on the mattress.

Both issues are most closely linked with bed outlets that use thick layers of high density (over 5 lb) memory foam and foams that are highly temperature sensitive.5. Mattresses with Low-Density Foam

Low density foams, whether regular polyurethane or memory foam, tend to be associated with lower satisfaction over time when it comes to pain relief and durability. For memory foams, low density would be considered under 3.5 lbs. For poly foams, low density is under 1.4 lbs.

Because low density foams have a “less dense” structure, they are more prone to compression and provide a less buoyant feel than higher densities. However, these foams are typically cheaper so can be budget-friendly for infrequently used or temporary mattresses (beds you expect to use less than 3-5 years). Heavier people should consider a foam that is more dense, as it will likely wear less under their weight.

6. Innerspring Beds with Poor Motion Isolation

In cheapest mattress, one issue that can receive considerable complaints is a lack of motion isolation. This is an issue for couples particularly, as one person’s movements can disturb the other’s sleep.

Mattress types most associated with poor motion isolation are those with bonnell and continuous coils. Pocketed coils and beds with memory foam or latex layers tend to have fewer issues with motion disturbances.

7. Beds with Little or No Warranty

The other complaint seen often in the worst-rated mattress outlets is related to warranty issues. It is hard to judge how a bed will perform over time even if you are diligent in your research, which is where the warranty comes in. A mattress typically is only useful for a fraction of it’s warranty length, as the table indicates.

For a mid-range and higher bed, a good mattress should have at least 10 years of full coverage during which the retailer will repair or replace defective beds at their expense. Many will also have extended prorated periods during which a portion of costs are covered.

The important thing to look for in a warranty is how deep sagging must be before the warranty kicks in – sagging over 1” can dramatically affect comfort and support. Sagging not covered by warranties is a frequent complaint in many of the worst-rated beds.

8. Too Soft or Firm for Your Needs

Mattress shopping is confusing for many, many people. It can be difficult to know which type of bed to choose or to decode different manufacturers’ terminology. Many mattress complaints stem from beds feeling either too firm or too soft. It’s also important to note that most beds with foams will soften slightly over time, so showroom models may not always feel like the bed you receive.

There is no 100% accurate formula, but generally back sleepers should opt for medium-firm to medium beds, side sleepers medium to plush, and stomach sleepers medium-firm to firm. Side and stomach sleepers put pressure on the bed in different areas than back sleepers. Softer mattresses allow them to sink into the bed for better spine alignment.

Sleep studies find that people with back pain generally feel best on medium to medium firm beds. Since manufacturer of descriptions of firmness may be arbitrary, it can be helpful to look for IFD/ILD ratings or read cheap king size mattresses reviews to see if there are any trends in comments regarding firmness. These measurements are meticulous and accurate and refer to the amount of weight needed to compress the foam a certain distance.

9. Overpriced Mattresses

Another complaint often seen in reviews stems from owners feeling they overpaid for their mattress. Even when they find the bed comfortable, this can be enough to affect satisfaction and ratings.

Several mattress brands price beds high, but use only average materials. Retailers can also use sales tactics to exaggerate prices, such as making comparisons difficult or using high-pressure tactics.

The best way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to carefully compare beds and read reviews. Be sure to get information on all layers and be leery when retailers and manufacturers won’t tell you what is in the mattress they are selling – chances are it’s because the bed is not competitively priced compared to peers. Make sure you stay within your budget constraints, also.

10. Beds with No Return/Exchange Policy

A lack of a return or exchange policy can dramatically affect your satisfaction if the mattress you buy is not quite right. Many dissatisfied reviewers complain about being stuck with a bed they don’t like or having to pay high charges for returns.

Especially when buying online, make sure you can return or at least exchange the bed if you don’t like it with reasonable fees. It can take a few weeks to get used to a bed, so you should have at least 30 days to make up your mind. Some retailers will require you to try the bed for a certain number of days prior to returning, so be mindful.

Ultimately, taking the time to research a little and compare different beds makes it easier to find the best cheap queen mattresses for your situation and avoid surprises. Armed with basics and with a little work, you’ll be sure to come away with sweet dreams rather than a nightmare when you buy your next bed.

Always ask about what the mattress is made of, see how prices compare to similar offers, and don’t forget to check in to retailer policies. Looking online for reviews can also help provide with more information on factors such as comfort, durability, and performance that can be difficult to judge as well. You can do your research without leaving the house.

Don’t get pressured into making a purchase. If a salesperson won’t let up, walk away and come back after doing some careful consideration. Some retailers thrive on customers they can push into a hasty decision. By shopping online you can avoid this for the most part.

How to Compare Leather Sofa Quality

Leather sofas are often considered the highest-quality piece of furniture available. However, as with anything, quality levels do vary between each piece, whether it’s the leather itself or the frame underneath. Understanding how to compare the quality between sofas will help you purchase the best product for your money.

Learn the difference between the three methods used to dye leather furniture. Pigmented is typically the cheapest option, and is only dyed directly on the surface with a protective coating mixed with dye. Although a good budget-friendly option and very durable, it often does not have that buttery feel that people want from their leather furniture stores and can look unnatural. The two best options are aniline; dyed in a drum, the color permeates the entire piece of leather, providing a lasting finish. Protected aniline is finished with a protective sealant to prevent staining, but this top coat can make the leather stiff. Untreated aniline leather is considered the best of the best and has that soft, pliable texture many love about leather.

Go to a high-end furniture store that either specializes in leather furniture or has a large inventory and either has new or used leather sofas. This will give you the most options to compare when looking for the best quality for your budget.

Ask to see sofas in the leather style of your choice: aniline, aniline protected or pigmented. Avoid any sofas that are a combination of leather and vinyl. While this can suit many people’s tastes aesthetically, over the long term, the leather will outlive the vinyl and you’ll have to reupholster parts of the couch or purchase a new one.

Ask questions about each piece, including the type of wood used for the frame of the sofa — softwood is less durable and will often warp over time. Ask about the types of coils used for support as well — tempered steel is best, and any other option should be researched to determine the pros and cons.

Sit on each sofa and rock side to side, press backward into the frame, and fall naturally from standing to sitting on the couch (imagine plopping down after a long day for some much needed reading or television time). If there is any movement or squeaking, the frame underneath the furniture is likely of poor quality or construction. This can occur with even high-end leather sofa prices and pieces, so it’s important that you not skip this step.

Check the stitching on each sofa. A high-quality leather piece will not have any fraying in the stitches, and each one will look extremely tight, almost as if it’s glued to the leather.

Inspect the padding. You should not be able to feel the frame of the sofa at any spot where there is padding. It can also be helpful to look for pieces in which the padded portions have removable covers so that they can be redone over time. With high-quality leathers sofas, the leather will outlast any padding by a long shot and, without removable covers, you’ll have to cut through the leather to replace any padding or purchase a new couch. Any sofa that can easily be repaired over time to extend its life span is of higher quality, ultimately, than those that aren’t.

Look around at other stores. Now that you understand all of the basic components that make up a high-quality leather sofa, you’ll be able to compare specific styles and brands to find one that’s perfect for you.

10 Reasons to Love Big, Comfy Sectionals

They’re big, comfy and totally nap worthy. If something’s been holding you back from indulging in the pure comfort of a Sectional Sofa, here are 10 reasons to just go for it. Whether your space is large or small, family friendly or slick and modern, see if there is a sectional that will work with your style and space.
1. Sectionals add definition to a room where the sofa must “float.” Living rooms with lots of doors and other features (fireplace, bookshelves, radiators) that take up wall space can be difficult to furnish. In these situations a traditional sofa usually needs a sofa table behind it to lend some support if you plan to float it (place it away from the wall), but the cheapest sectional sofas heft lets it stand alone.

How to winterize Your Swimming Pool, Spa or Hot Tub

Part of maintaining a swimming pool, spa or hot tub includes preparing it for those months when you won’t be using it. Also referred to as “closing your pool,” or “pool closing,” the time to tackle this task varies, depending on the climate or region in which you live. Most experts believe that pools should be closed for the season when nighttime temperatures are in the 40s and daytime highs are in the mid 60s to low 70s.

If you close it too soon, you risk the possibility of algae overgrowth. If you wait until trees really start to shed their leaves, obviously you’ve got a big mess to contend with.

Why Do You Need to Close Up Your Pool?

According to the Association of Pool & swim hot tubs Professionals, it’s necessary to winterize the plumbing, equipment and pool structure before any or all of these components freeze. The NEFD advises pool owners to thoroughly inspect the pool or spa structure and all equipment to ensure everything is in working order. If something needs to be repaired, ideally you should do it (or have it done) before closing your pool for the season, if there’s enough time before the first freeze

Supplies and Materials

  • Air compressor
  • Vacuum: tank-style, aka shop vac
  • Brushes: wall and floor, tile, algae, etc.
  • Pool test kit
  • Chemicals: sanitizer, stabilizer, algaecide or winterizing kit
  • Nontoxic antifreeze from a pool supply store
  • Toolkit
  • White grease, a heavy lubricant to prevent rusting and corrosion
  • Sand cleaner
  • Plastic to wrap lights

How to Winterize Your Pool and Hot Tub

1- Clean Water: Thoroughly vacuum your pool or spa and vacuum waste water to the appropriate location. If your pool filter doesn’t have a “waste” indicator, vacuum on the “filter” position only. When applicable, use a portable pump to vacuum directly to waste.

2- Water Treatment: Balance the water’s pH, calcium hardness and total alkalinity. Chemically treat the water with a sanitizer, stabilizer and algaecide or treat with the recommended amount of winterizing chemicals. Why do you need winterizing treatment? So that the water doesn’t become corrosive when the temperature drops to the freezing point or below. Winterizing chemicals will be added either before draining or prior to placing the pool cover. Again, check the instructions that come with your chemicals or cover and also the hot tubs price.

3- Lower Water Level: After closing the valve on the skimmer line, you should lower the water level to about 18 inches below the pool’s coping. How far you lower the level depends on your type of pool. Step 5 suggests water levels according to different types of pool covers. To be certain, check the instructions or website of your pool cover manufacturer.

4- Covers and Water Levels:

  • Vinyl-Lined: Lower 1 inch / 2 cm below the skimmer mouth, but more in regions that get heavy rain or snow.
  • Plaster Finish with Solid Material Cover: Lower 1 – 6 inches / 2.5 – 15 cm below the mouth or tile line, whichever is lower.
  • Painted or Natural-Finish with Solid Material Cover: Lower 6 inches / 15 cm below skimmer mouth.
  • Mesh Cover or No Cover: Lower 18 -24 inches / 45 -61 cm below skimmer mouth.
  • Automatic Cover: The water level should not be lower than the bottom of the skimmer mouth.
  • Hydro static Pressure: This can destroy a drained, in ground concrete pool if the right precautions aren’t taken (i.e., leaving the bottom drain valves open). If uncertain, it’s better for your swim hot tub or pool if you leave it almost full of water rather than draining it.

5- Piping: Drain the water and blow water out of all piping, per the manufacturer’s instructions. To blow water out of circulation lines, use a tank vacuum cleaner on reverse flow or an air compressor. Also try to drain as much water as possible from the heater and filter. Add nontoxic antifreeze – which is different than automotive antifreeze – and is available at most pool supply stores. This solution should protect water from freezing to 10° F / -12° C.

6- Valves: Thoroughly drain valves, making sure that any valves below water level are sealed securely. Use an electric heat tape for lines below water level that could be exposed to freezing but can’t be drained or filled with antifreeze.

7- Accessories and Equipment: Remove and clean all handrails, ladders and diving boards. Try to store in a cool, dry place and store diving boards flat, if possible.

8- Lighting: Remove lights if they have less than 18 inches / 45 cm of water above them. Wrap them in plastic and store them in a dry place. If you absolutely have no storage room, put weights on the plastic-wrapped lights and place them at the bottom of the pool. To be on the safe side, remove the fuse or turn off the circuit breaker so lights can’t be turned on accidentally.

9- Pump: Now it’s time to drain the pump by removing the plugs. Another popular method is to get out your handy wet/dry shop vac to remove all water from the pump housing and strainer compartment. Add ½ to 1 cup / .12 to .24 liters of the pool antifreeze solution to the pump housing without removing the drain plugs. Don’t forget to put on the strainer / pump lid. For cast-iron pumps, coat all drain-hole threads with a suitable lubricant (ask your pool dealer) to prevent winter corrosion. You can buy the hot tub cheap but do not compromise on the quality.

10- Motor: If you live in a cold, northern climate, you’ll want to remove the motor from the pump housing and store it in a warm, dry place. Don’t forget to disconnect the power that leads to the motor before removal.

11- Timer and Circuit Breaker: If you have one, remove the timer lugs and set to “off.” Also turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuses from the pool circuit.

12- Filters: Using a sand cleaner as the pool water is lowered, backwash the sand filters 3 to 5 times longer than usual, but not while vacuuming. Remove the drain plug and open drain cocks along with the air relief on top of the filter. Position the multi-port valve to “winter.” The air-relief valve should be left open. For other types of filters – like cartridge or DE units – check the manufacturer’s instructions. After winterizing the lines and pump and also verify the hot tubs prices, all filters should be completely drained. Drain plugs should be left out, but apply a strong lubricant to the threads to prevent rusting or corrosion.

13- Cover: Last but not least is the all-important cover, which should be secured tightly to keep out debris and protect what lies beneath – that would be your pool – until spring.

5 Things to Know Before You Renovate Your Kitchen

If you sometimes have trouble deciding what to make for dinner, a kitchen renovation can feel paralyzing. But take heart: It doesn’t really matter much which backslash tiles or faucet you choose. As long as you get the big stuff right, you’ll be thrilled with your new kitchen. These five rules will help you get the best result at the right price.

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1. Keep your outlay in sync with your home.

To avoid over improving, cap your kitchen cheap cabinets budget at 15% of your home’s value, suggests John Remembered, president of Real corp, a national appraisal firm based in Omaha. (Check your town assessor’s site or a real estate site). For budgeting purposes, figure about 30% on cabinets; 14% on appliances; 10% on counter tops; 5% on lighting; 4% on plumbing fixtures; 2% to 3% on paint; 1% to 2% on tiles, and 35% on construction costs, such as windows, flooring, and labor.

2. It pays to pay for your design.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch—or a free plan for renovating the place where you prepare lunch. While the designers at home centers, kitchen stores, and cabinet shops won’t charge you a fee, they aren’t working for free. Their paychecks come from the retailer or manufacturers of the products they’re selling, which limits your choices. What’s more, in-store designers, especially those working at home centers, tend to be relatively inexperienced with actual renovation work, says Northeast Factory Direct on kitchen designing.

Since your project will only be as good as its design, skip the freebies and hire a veteran designer without any conflicts of interest. Expect to pay 3 to 10 % of your project costs for design—a fair price for a design that really works.

3. You can expand the kitchen without busting the budget.

Unless your house was built within the last few decades, your kitchen is almost certainly undersized. If you’re doing a major renovation (in other words, tearing things out and starting over), now is the time to expand the kitchen; here’s how to do it affordably.

  • Steal space. By re purposing square footage from an adjacent hallway or a no-longer-needed chimney, closet, or porch, you can expand your cabinets direct at perhaps half the per-square-foot costs of an addition. Exactly how much you’ll pay depends on the project and location, but you might pay $100 to $300 per square foot for recapturing space vs. $200 to $400 for building new.
  • Open the floorplan. Even if you don’t expand the kitchen at all, you can make it feel much bigger by taking down a wall and creating an open floorplan between the kitchen and adjacent dining, family, or living room. In the context of a renovation project, this may cost $1,000 to $6,000, depending on whether the wall is load-bearing or contains major plumbing or electrical lines.
  • Bump out. If you need to expand, you may be able to add a two-foot extension along one whole side of the kitchen by hanging it off the house like a bay window rather than putting it on a foundation. That could save you several thousand bucks compared with a full-fledged addition.

4. To cut costs, hold on to what works.

You can slash the price tag for any discount kitchens cabinets by limiting how much of the old kitchen you replace. Keeping original windows can save you $500 to $1,000 per window; keeping the original wood floor hiding underneath all of those layers of linoleum and vinyl could save you $2,000. And simply keeping the plumbing fixtures and appliances in the same locations likely means you can reuse existing plumbing, saving you perhaps $200 to $500.

5. Stay skin deep if you’re moving anytime soon.

If you expect to put your house on the market within a decade, skip the $60,000 renovation and go for a cosmetic upgrade instead. You can have old cabinets painted for $1,000 to $5,000 or refaced with a new wood veneer and new doors and drawer fronts for some $5,000 to $7,000. A new faucet and fresh cabinet hardware can be yours for under $500, new lighting for $500 to $2,000, depending on how far you take it; even replacing Formica counter-tops with granite might cost less than $4,000.

 

5 ways to buy furniture on the cheap

1. Buy used

We all know Craigslist and eBay as old standbys for finding used furniture, but those aren’t your only options. AptDeco, for example, handles pick up and delivery of buying and selling used furniture, and Krrb helps locals find gently used items near them, while Chairish offers pieces that design-lovers will go crazy for. (Note that the hard-to-find goods at Chairish are a bit more expensive than what you’d find on some of the other places mentioned, but they’re definitely cheaper than you’d find in an actual antique store.) Also consider yard and estate sales for pieces.

2. Shop at the right time

If you have enough stuff to hold you over for a short time, consider holding off on buying new furniture until you can time it with spectacular sales. The holidays obviously offer savings opportunities (think of outside-the-box holidays, as well, like Memorial and Independence Day), but since northeast factory direct is the best place for the new furniture designs tend to debut in the spring, experts recommend February as a good time to go furniture shopping, as store owners try to clear out their showrooms to make room for the new products.

3. Be smart about using cards

While we’d never advocate for frivolous spending on credit cards (in fact, check out this piece about why store credit cards tend to be the worst), if you’re smart about it, opening a store card to purchase all of your furniture at once and receiving a big ole’ discount is actually a great idea, as long as you can pay off your card immediately and not use it again. (Bonus points if you can combine using a store credit card discount with a big sale.)

4. Think simple

If you can stand it, consider going for smaller, more neutral large items (like chairs and couches), since these tend to cost less, and use additional accessories (like artwork, throw pillows and lamps) to spice up the overall look with accent colors visit your local furniture warehouses.

5. Never purchase without haggling

Even if asking for a discount isn’t your favorite thing, consider the fact that brushing up on your haggling skills could save you tons of cash, depending on how much furniture you’ll be buying from the furniture factory outlet. If you’re buying multiple items, ask if there’s a discount for that. Ask if there’s wiggle room with the delivery fee or if the price that’s listed is the absolute lowest they can go. Even if you love the piece and will buy it no matter what, at least you’ll have done your due diligence in trying to get the piece for less.