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Newsletter #233

Kitchen Walk in Pantry

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

James Todd
Happy Valentine’s Day

All past newsletters are archived online at:



  1. Eave troughs ( Gutters) - plastic vs aluminium vs galvanized
  2. Suspended ceilings vs drywall in the basement
  3. Kitchen walk-in-pantry
  4. Thought for the Day
  5. Subscription Information
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1. Eave troughs - Plastic vs Aluminium vs Galvanized

Ever wondered which type of Eaves trough or Gutter is right for your home? Should you purchase Plastic and install it yourself, or aluminium and have it installed by a professional? What about Galvanized gutters? Are there any health concerns you should be aware of? We will explore each of these areas in this short newsletter. If you would like more information, the web sites listed at the end of this article can provide you with additional detail.

Regardless of the type of gutter or eave trough you use, always ensure that it is installed properly so that the water drains and you are not left with standing water in the gutter. Not only can standing water cause problems for your gutter such as rust in a galvanized gutter and extra weight which can cause unsightly sagging over time, it is also an excellent breading ground for mosquitoes. In many areas there is a significant concern about mosquito born diseases, such as the West Nile Virus, being transferred to humans and animals, so everything we can do to avoid providing them with an environment to lay eggs should be done.

Aluminium gutters or eave troughs are the most common type of gutter used today, they can be painted, do not rust and when installed properly, they will generally last the life time of your home. One disadvantage of aluminium gutters is that they are relatively soft and may deform when you place a ladder against them or if a branch were to fall on the aluminium gutter. You can easily avoid this minor issue by first of all being careful and secondly placing some sort of cushion between the ladder and the gutter, usually a towel or rages wrapped around the ladder.

Plastic or vinyl gutters are sold in many do it yourself stores and are easier to install. Generally all you will need is a hack saw to cut the vinyl to the proper length and the usual materials such as a ladder, hammer, glue etc. Vinyl gutters are susceptible to ultra violet radiation over time and may discolour slightly. Heavy ladders may damage the plastic gutters and vinyl or plastic gutters may be more susceptible to cracking in cold climates. They come in several colours so matching to your home should be no problem.

Galvanized steel gutters are generally the most sturdy of all gutter products and will stand up to ladders and fallen branches. They of course will not crack in cold climates however over time will begin to rust. Stainless steel gutters are available and will last for years with out rust or deterioration, however they are generally the most expensive of all types of gutters.

We mentioned that proper installation is very important to ensure proper drainage and avoid standing water in your gutter which can cause sagging over time and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. A companion product that you may want to consider, especially if there are many trees near your home is a gutter protector. Gutter protectors will prevent or reduce the amount of leaves that will eventually settle in your gutter and clog the drainage. There are a variety of different types, so we suggest you consider one that fits with your house and the gutter you have chosen. If you decide to forgo a gutter protector they we strongly recommend that you arrange to have all of your gutters cleaned every fall to prevent sagging, premature rusting of steel gutters and overflow from plugged gutters. If you are in an area prone to mosquitoes, you may also want to clean your gutters in the spring as well and ensure that they are draining properly to avoid providing a breeding ground for them.

Some Useful Links

Continuous Eave Troughs & Rain Handling

Online Resource For Gutters

2. Suspended ceilings vs drywall in the basement

What are the advantages of suspended ceilings vas drywall? Which would be easier to install, maintain and what are some of the issues with each, especially health concerns and future repairs? We will explore each of these areas in this short newsletter. If you would like more information, the web sites listed at the end of this article can provide you with additional detail.

Regardless of which type of ceiling you select, planning is a very high priority. If your entire basement will be finished, then electrical wiring for the lights in the ceiling, and also for the rest of the basement must be planned carefully. Cable runs for cable-tv, telephone, speaker systems and alarms systems must be given careful attention. If you are planning to install a central vacuum or run a water pipe to your ice making refrigerator on the floor above, now is the time to install all of these items. Obviously, if you install a suspended ceiling, you will have the flexibility to remove some of the panels in the future to accommodate some of the above considerations, however with a drywall ceiling, you have much more work involved to install these types of appliances and cabling onc ethe ceiling has been installed.
Drywall ceilings can be textured, stippled or painted. Although most people seem to apply a stippled finish, you have many more choices regarding the finish that you apply to your drywall ceiling. Suspended ceilings come in a number of varieties of finish and colours, however you generally do not have the same flexibility with suspended ceilings that you have with drywall.

If dust is a concern you may have already decided to use wood paneled walls and suspended ceilings in your basement. Dust from drywall finishing can be an issue for some people, either from an allergy impact or just from the amount of dust that tends to be spread throughout the home during construction. If you are concerned about the gas emissions from panelled walls, glues etc, then drywall may be the answer even with the dust, which only lasts for a short time.

Installation time and difficulty are about the same, although they each will need different tools and skill sets. Both can be installed by the consumer or by a professional. Suspended ceilings are easier to repair, just flip out a panel and place a new one in its place, while drywall needs to be taped, plastered, dried, sanded and painted over several days.

Obviously the decision will be a very individual choice for each person and their family. The final finish, health issues, choice of colours, flexibility with regards to installing missed cables etc are all issues that each consumer will need to consider. Just the other day my neighbour was talking about buying a new fridge with an icemaker. I asked him if his basement was finished, to which he answer yes with a chagrined look. Although we could find a way to get the water pipe to his fridge, he did not want any part of messing up his new-finished basement and his drywall ceiling!

So to wrap up, if flexibility to add something in the future is important for you then maybe you want to consider a suspended ceiling. On the other hand if you prefer a more finished look and are not concerned about future modifications, then drywall is probably the best for you.

Some useful links to check out

Armstrong Ceilings

Suspended Ceilings: What You Need and What to Avoid

Installing Suspended Ceilings

Installing Plaster Ceilings

Installing Drywall

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3. Kitchen walk-in-pantry

There are many practical issues to consider for your pantry design, as well as how you will clean and maintain a healthy environment within your pantry. We will explore a few of these issues in this article. We have also, as usual, provided a number of web sites that we thought you might find interesting and useful.

As with many design projects there is a process that everyone should go through to ensure that the final solution meets their needs. Pantry design is no different. Since space is limited, we will focus on the basics and refer you to some of the web sites listed below for more detail.

The two basic questions everyone must address is “What will the pantry be used for? “ and “How much space do you have to work with?” Pantries in smaller homes may be limited to wall cabinets or pull out drawers, while in larger homes they will be large enough to walk into and may be also multi purpose. Kitchen pantries storing items traditionally used in the kitchen will be designed differently than a closet pantry located in the basement or perhaps closer to the laundry facilities. Once you have decided how much space you have to work with, you must also decide what it will be used for. This is important for a number of reasons.

Pantries used to store food goods should never have household items such as cleansers and soap stored in them as well. Although everything is sealed, there still can be a transfer of smells to your food goods. It is always a good idea to separate food storage from cleaning supplies. If you have a large pantry, wall closet or walk in, consider either shallow shelves or roll out shelves so that all items are accessible and easily found.

Health issues are also a consideration. If your pantry is not easy to clean, then it probably will not be and you will find that over time you will have a build up of dust and small particles of food. These food particles can be attractive to ants and other insects that may enter your home. One suggestion is to leave room under the bottom shelf so it is easy to clean and vacuum. In addition as we mentioned previously do not store dry food goods with cleansers and soaps.
While recycling and pantries do not always go hand in hand, you might consider a bottom drawer combination for a recycling unit. If it is convenient to the kitchen and easily accessed you will be more likely to make use of it.

Design questions that you should consider are as follows:

  • What space do you have available
  • Wall pantry or walk in pantry
  • What will you put in the pantry
  • Will it be a special purpose pantry
  • How will the pantry blend in with the kitchen
  • Will you have shallow shelves or deep shelves
  • Will the shelves rollout for access
  • Can you clean the pantry easily
  • Do you want to incorporate re-cycling
  • Do you need additional lighting, wall outlets, counter space
  • Is it convenient to use

Finally, your pantry should be a source of convenience and not an irritation. A well designed pantry that meets the needs of the family, that is easily accessible, can be cleaned easily and most of all you can find what you are looking for, will provide you with a source of satisfaction and comfort.

Some useful links to check out

Home Storage Solutions

Plan a Space

Design Online

Organize Your Pantry

Re-energizing Pantry Design

4. Thought For The Day - Freedom

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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