Thursday, 26 April 2018

RENOS - WHERE TO START #2 What was I trying to accomplish?

If you have not already checked out RENOS-WHERE TO START #1 THE HORROR STORIES OF INSPIRATION, pause and have a look and come right back.

I LOVE doing renovations. The entire process is very cleansing, creative and rewarding. We bought a 100 year old home several years ago knowing that the previous owner was unable to do any sort of updating for many years and we would have the pleasure of bringing this beauty up to the date.

The house was, and still is, in a desperate need of several...many...an entire gut job to be honest. I don't have a spare $100 000 laying in a forgotten bank account somewhere in the Grand Caymon's, so we needed to figure out an approach to tackling this lath & plaster, wonky floors, 70's wood paneling show piece.

We always start with this question: What are we trying to accomplish with this renovation?
We first started in the master bedroom. There was an "odd" smell…that wonderful moldy/mildew smell that brings thoughts of BLACK MOLD to mind. The remainder of the house was solid. Everything worked and was functional. Not the most up to date, but certainly livable for however long needed.

What had been happening is the radiant hot water heating system had been leaking from one of the corner joints in the master bedroom. SO, up came the carpet, and sure enough it had been leaking for quite some time. This is something that needed be to be fixed and addressed. We had already been looking at a basic paint job but with the water damaged flooring, we decided to do a full renovation, find what else needed at be fixed and do it right.

This renovation was driven by a need to correct something that would eventually cause bigger issues down the road (massive water leak, most likely while we are out of town, and mold). We could have simply repaired the defective pipe, but since we were new homeowners and we had no idea how long the leak was present, we couldn't imagine sleeping in a room with potential mold issues.

Any scale of renovations must be entered with thought, planning and foresight to ensure the end result is a success and done without wasting time and money.

What are YOU trying to accomplish with this renovation?


  1. Increase the Resale Value
    • You have no immediate desire to sell but you are wanting to keep this in consideration. You see your property as an investment in the short term not something you are going to retire in. The changes you make (big or small) keep the market, trends in mind.
    • Many ideas WE prefer are not always great for resale. You might love pink wall paper, but your realtor does NOT. That’s fine if you’re going to be in that house for the next 20 yrs. 
  2. Selling/Listing the house in the Near Future
    • You are very focused on what is selling and what is not selling in a competitive market. Keeping colors and d├ęcor simple and neutral. 
    • You are NOT looking to spend a boat load of money. What is the biggest bang for the smallest buck? 
    • Fresh coat of paint, decluttering, some wall art or staging, a new light fixture in the dining room, maybe adding a tiled back splash and at the extreme end perhaps ripping out some really old/warn out carpet with a low coast vinyl or laminate flooring. 
  3. Flipping 
    • 100% investment. You are looking to sell quickly and make a profit. 
    • If this is you, this is no small project. Anything from new paint, fixtures, doors and trim, to full kitchen and bathroom renos. No small task. 
  4. Face lift: Modernization/Aesthetics 
    • Most people. You have a property, love it but want to make it yours. You want to make it feel like it’s your home. 
    • Other than the big two reno rooms (kitchens and bathrooms) these are usually about putting your creative style and identity on the house. A mixture of renovation and styling. 
    • Updating the look for current color trends or design ideas. Remember, that classic 70/80’s wall paneling was the hottest trend at one point. Mustard colored shag carpeting? Why? 
    • Fresh paint, new lighting, perhaps flooring, crown molding, new furniture and the token throw pillows. We have soooo many pillows. My dog just loves them. 
  5. Full GUT 
    • The classic 70’s style home in the year 2018. This may be you but also will involve some contractors to some extent, $$$$ and time. 
  6. Upgrade/Replace Damage 
    • “Well, since we are doing this we might as well…” It’s amazing how many other things get an upgrade when a water pipe burst. 
    • It’s just easier and more cost effective to take care of certain issues all at once. 
    • For me, any older home, electrical sockets and switches are often an immediate upgrade while the painting is being done. 1) Modernize 2) the contacts in electrical outlets wear out and electrical cords actually fall out in some cases. Updates the look and functionality since you will roll paint across at least one socket you didn’t cover in tape;)
TIP OF THE DAY: Try to think long term. If you know your going to have to open up a wall or upgrade this or that, is the time and money worth spending now on a face lift? Maybe, maybe not. A little planning goes a long way.

Once you have determine the scale of what your goals are, we will look into the atmosphere or feel that you are hoping to create with this new renovation so that you can move onto the planning phase and the fun stuff!

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @  facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

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Thanks for stopping by. Visit us at www.stridelighting.com.

Monday, 23 April 2018

No Love for Tungsten

“Why is the Incandescent Light Bulb getting the BIG old boot in the modern era?”

Well it's really, really bad at doing what it was told to do, make light!

Imagine you hired a new employee to stock shelves at your local store but they only did their assigned job less than 10% of the time and more often than not it was more like less than 5%(I blame FaceBook). That's an incandescent light bulb. They are anywhere between 2-10% efficient depending on the type/quality. The remaining energy is released as heat, which is simply radiated off into the surrounding area.

“Why are they so inefficient?”

Well the design has not changed in over 100 yrs, dating back to Thomas Edison.  An incandescent light bulb is simply a piece of coiled metal, tungsten, which is placed into a glass tube under a vacuum (no oxygen gas present). Electricity is passed through the tungsten filament. As the electricity passes through the metal, this causes the filament to heat up and eventually glows white hot, roughly 2500° C/4600°F! In comparison, iron melts at around 1500° C/2700°F, now that’s warm to say the least. That’s why tungsten is used, or at least was. It has the highest melting point and tensile strength of all pure metals giving it longevity.

“So, why so bloody HOT?”

A tungsten filaments main job is to create resistance, to make it difficult for the electrons in the electrical current to flow through itself. As a result heat is generated as the electrons “flow” through the material. Now it’s not actually a flow, more like the most amazing examples of dominoes, but tungsten doesn’t make it easy. So heat is generated as particles try to move past one another. This is why it has to be in the glass bulb. 1) so you don’t touch the pretty glowing 2500° C/4600°F metal thingy, and 2) at those temperatures the tungsten will combust if any oxygen gas is present.

“So where does the light come from?”

As the heat builds and builds, the atoms inside the filament begin to vibrate more and more and more in their seats. It’s like feeding a toddler candy every 10 minutes on an 8 hour car trip if your goal was to get them to vibrate so fast they might burst right out of their seat belts! That’s like our goal in tungsten. It’s referred to as a Black Body Object. I know, sounds awesome, doesn’t it? (What’s even cooler is that Black Body objects exhibit what is known as the ultraviolet catastrophe, which could have destroyed the universe until we realized it won’t). Basically when an object gets SOOO hot, the particles are moving so fast back and forth, they will begin to emit radiation as heat, and eventually higher levels of radiation, light! And there lies the problem.

The amount of heat needed to get the particles to this sweet spot is extremely high, 2500° C/4600°F. It would be like feeding that toddler sugar again, as a means to get them to sing a song. After enough sugar they’ll be singing American Idol audition ballets. Not the easiest way to get the job done, but that’s essentially how we have been lighting our world for over 100 yrs. It’s like taking the long way to work, driving an extra 100 km when it’s only 5 km from your home. Not the most efficient means of getting there.

“So why are LED’s so much more efficient?”

Well let’s just say we have learnt better parenting techniques. More to come…

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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Renos-Where to Start #1 The Horror Stories of Inspiration.

You're sitting on the couch, staring at your significant other and you start that infamous conversation,

"So, I was thinking. What if we..."

That's how I started that infamous conversation at least, actually a couple of times. Mine was, 

"So, I was thinking. What if we checked what the flooring looks like underneath the laminate flooring?"

Big, BIG mistake...

We knew we had hardwood flooring, you know, the old kind, that everyone dreams of pulling back the carpet to this wooden oasis of increased property value. Original HARDWOOD flooring! Our new house was old (~100 yrs), so, ya know, there MUST be a gem laying beneath our feet. 

Ohhhhh, NOOOOO! **GASP**

There was a clear reason why they put that oak laminate down. The first 5-10 pieces came up and the flooring underneath looked AMAZING! Character damage I would call it in spots. 

I looked into my wife's eyes,

 "Lets do it!"

I started moving furniture, pulling off base boards, pulling more and more laminate back. 3/4 of the flooring is pulled up, last section remaining. I will never forget that moment. That moment I pulled up that last board to see BLACK! (I actually curled up in a small ball and whimpered)

The floor had heaved and shifted over, you know, the last 100 yrs, and they had pulled up all the boards in this one area and laid down black cement based floor levelling compound. 

Well, UP came the entire FLOOR. 

One layer of laminate, plus floor padding.

One layer of hardwood.

A SECOND layer of hardwood! 3/4" Fir! nope, even worse then the top layer.

Down to the the original sub floor. 





You can see the starting of the black blob of doom in the left hand photo. You can also see my distinct "I'm so glad I..." look. Don't worry, we also updated the drapery during this little project, and the wood panelling, and the door, and...I'll show you later.

I thought to myself,

"We are gaining some serious head room. Vaulted ceilings?"

That was the beginning of our 2016 summer renovation project.

Renovations can begin with a significant amount of planning and preparation, or sometimes they begin somewhat unpredictably due to either your choices or sometimes mother natures. A backed up sewer is always a great initiator of a renovation. Just ask my parents. No matter the spark, an important aspect to consider when diving into renovations is what is the FLAME that will drive you to commit to this project? Sit down, either after that infamous question, but before you see the severely damaged flooring, and go through the following questions:
  1. What are you trying to accomplish with this renovation?
    • Replace damage, structural or code issues, a simple face lift, modernization, preparation for a property sale, a complete gut to up date everything (electrical, plumbing, insulation)? 
    • The reason will substantially effect your timeline, expertise involved, materials and ultimately COST. 
  2. What is the atmosphere or feel you are hoping to create with this new room? 
    • Is this a place to rest and relax, to get work done, to be a family space, warm, cozy, modern, clean? 
    • This is often where I put most of my time when planning a new room or home.  
    • THE FEEL
    • This directs the choice of materials, textures, colours, functionality. 
  3. So, what is the functional purpose of the room? 
    • When trying to figure out what type of vehicle to purchase, my dad always says "Consider what you will be doing with the vehicle 90% of the time? Buy that vehicle." 
    • I'd like a truck, but do I need a truck? Not if I drive to work, get groceries, commute to the city but do a renovation once every two to three years. I can borrow or rent a truck. Heck, buy a utility trailer (better mileage). 
    • The same applies to a room. Do I need to plan on entertaining large groups, cuddling up watching movies, reading, doing work/homework, sleeping etc, some or all of the above
  4. How do all the above then factor into each other? 
    • This then begins to give you guidance into your  materials and budget. You don't necessarily want to lay down $8.00/sq ft dark hardwood if you have a couple of toddlers and a dog. 
    • Tip of the Day: If you want to keep that floor looking as good as new, save the investment to when they no longer drop EVERYTHING!!!  PS: My wife thinks I need to let go of that one...
In the coming weeks we will dive into each of these topics further. What are your renovation horror stories? Share in the comments section.

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Visit us at www.stridelighting.com.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Lighting Jargon :(

Ugh, I feel like I'm back in school! Vocabulary! Let's us make things easier on you. Follow our Blog Topic, Lighting Jargon :(, and we will chip away at all the jargon used in the lighting industry that are used when describing products. Having a better understanding of what these terms mean will allow you to compare one product to the next and allow you to make a more educated decision. If there is a particular term or aspect that you would like us to address, please, let us know and we will do our best to clarify your concerns. Subscribe and never miss a post.

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Renos - Where to Start?

With the lighting of course! No seriously. Over the next several weeks follow along as we work through the various aspects of what to consider when starting a renovation and how to ensure you will be pleased with the outcome. Lighting can be used to define the unique features of your room, create the atmosphere that you looking for, allow a room to be multi-functional (a place to entertain, rest and relax, do functional work, or all of above). Everything from the type of flooring, the furniture within the room, wall and ceiling colors, size of the room/space etc all have a factor in influencing your choice of the various lighting options in a space. If your going to spend a significant amount of money on a renovation, ensure it is highlighted in the best possible light. Remember, it is the Sun that makes mother nature come alive. Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out.

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 Photo: Stride Lighting

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Old becomes the New

Needing to do a renovation but on a tight budget? Looking to simply replace an old, dated light fixture? Perhaps what is already hanging in the room can be given a chance on a second life. As we had just moved into an older home we had two of these 1970's chandeliers in our main living room/dining room. They where an interesting mix of an aged brass finish, naturally finished wood and frosted chimney glass shades with a vine/grape pattern. Very fitting in 2017. We had begun a renovation of our living room and these were in dire need of an update. Both chandeliers where missing one of the glass shades and replacement pieces cost more than what the fixture was worth. So let's see what would happen if we fixed these up a bit before spending the money on new fixtures. Note: My wife thought I was nuts for even attempting to fix up these old fixtures. She was more than willing to introduce them to our trash can;)


Most chandeliers, and light fixtures in general, can be dismantled down into easier sections to work with to some degree. In doing so you can repaint the entire fixture and give it a brand new look. I started by dismantling each fixture as much as possible (take pictures along the way so you can reassemble the fixture EXACTLY the same) and discarded any pieces I didn't want to retain. I discarded the little wooded bulbs from the bottom and the glass shades.

There will be electrical wiring running to each light base. Be careful not to damage or disconnect any of the connections. For example, I was able to remove all of the wood sections and the metal covers. I then gave a light sanding with 220 grit sand paper to the entire lamp making sure to get into all the little crevasse. The wood sections I started with 150 grit then finished with 220 grit. You will want to remove the sheen from the surface so the paint will adhere properly. Lastly each piece that was to be painted was given a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol on a rage to remove any oils and dust that may effect the paint adhering. Oh, and don't for get about the chain! Tape of any areas you don't want painted. You don't want paint inside of the light bulb sockets for example. 





In a well-ventilated area, paint each part of the light fixture with a high quality spray paint. I used glossy black Tremclad spray paint. In order to get a nice smooth finish make several light coats to slowly build up the coverage. Follow the paint can manufactures recommendations for drying and re-coating times. I applied four coats in total to get a nice uniform finish. 

I must say, it certainly is an updated look to these old fixtures. They clearly still have a hint of the 70's lingering under neither the surface but it was an interesting little project that turned out very nicely. Have you had any successful little projects rejuvenating similar light fixtures? 

Questions or comments below. 

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Friday, 6 April 2018

The Value of Dimmer Switches

As a father of two young daughters and in this day and age of energy conservation, dimmer switches offer a high degree of flexibility when it comes to the lighting of your home. Considers a 5-bulb chandelier with each bulb running the equivalent of 40 Watts in your living room or dinning room. Depending on the time of day or perhaps the mood of the moment, having 200 Watts may or may not be necessary. When your little ones are getting read for bed, having the ability lower the lighting can help them settle down as they prepare for bed. Dimmer switches allow you to create a softer, warmer light in any living room or bedroom. Ultimately creating multiple lighting options from one lighting fixture. 


As an example, in our master bedroom, we have an iron chandelier in the center of the room, as well as small 2” pot lights directly over the headboard. Both sets of lights are on their own dimmer switch. This allows for my wife and I to create softer light as to not disrupt one another early in the morning depending on who is first out of bed or to create excellent reading lighting using the pot lights with no need for any other lights on. This creates flexibility in terms of how a room can be utilized in addition to minimizing electrical costs by using the appropriate wattage for the specific need at the time. 

Now buying a dimmer switch is no longer that straight forward. With the move away from incandescent bulbs to either LED or florescent bulbs you need to ensure you purchase the correct dimmer switch for your appropriate circumstances. A miss match between the LED driver voltage and the output voltage of the dimmer switch can either damage the LED bulb or create annoying flickering. Check out this informative article from LUX about what you should know about dimming LED lamps/bulbs. As always, when in doubt consult a certified local electrician or stop by your local electrical store for guidance and advice.

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Renos Where to Start #8 Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY Renovations

Join us on Facebook @  facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/  to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighti...