Portal:Home improvement/Selected article

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A fireplace is an architectural element consisting of a space designed to contain a fire, generally for heating but sometimes also for cooking. The space where the fire is contained is called a firebox or firepit; a chimney or other flue allows gas and particulate exhaust to escape the building. While most fireplaces are constructed in building interiors, sometimes outdoor fireplaces are created for evening warmth, outdoor cooking or decorative purposes.

In colder climates throughout the world, the fireplace or hearth has traditionally been a central feature of the household, as it gives warmth to aid survival through an extended winter. The sensation of direct heat, and the mesmerizing leaps and flickers of a wood fire, make its use enjoyable in cold conditions even today. Fireplace mantels are the focus of custom interior decoration. A mantel traditionally offers a unique opportunity for the architect/designer to create a personal statement unique to the room they are creating.

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Glass brick, or glass block, is often used as an architectural element in underground parking garages, washrooms, municipal swimming baths, and other areas where privacy or visual obscuration is desired, while admitting light. Glass brick is often used to create visual privacy barriers that allow light to pass, unrestricted, but distorts visual coherent light to such a degree as to provide reasonable privacy. Additionally, glass brick provides light without compromising security. A typical size of glass brick is 8 by 8 inches, such that it falls within the lattice of standard 8 by 16 inch cinderblock walls. In terms of ease of decontamination, glass brick is as good as ceramic tile, so it is ideal for washdown/decon areas, as well as for wet areas such as changerooms, washrooms, and municipal swimming baths.

The latest trend in public washrooms is to have all the fixtures outside the room, located in backworld service entrances behind the walls. Some washrooms have glassbrick windows that run all the way around the washroom, to create an illusion light from all directions.

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A smoke detector (or smoke alarm) is a device that detects smoke and issues an alarm to alert nearby people that there is a potential fire. They are an active fire protection device. Because smoke rises, most detectors are mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall. To avoid the nuisance of false alarms, most smoke detectors are mounted away from kitchens. To increase the chances of waking sleeping occupants, most homes have at least one smoke detector near any bedrooms.

Most smoke detectors work either by optical detection or by ionization, but some of them use both detection methods to increase sensitivity. Smoke detectors may operate alone, be interconnected to cause all detectors in an area to sound an alarm if one is triggered, or be integrated into a fire alarm or security system. Smoke detectors with flashing lights are available for the deaf or hearing impaired. A smoke detector cannot detect carbon monoxide to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning unless it has an integrated carbon monoxide detector. They are usually powered by one or more batteries but some can be connected directly to household wiring.

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A carpet is any loom-woven, felted textile or grass floor covering. The term was also used for table and wall coverings, as carpets were not commonly used on the floor in European interiors until the 18th century. The hand-knotted pile carpet probably originated in central asia between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. The Crusades brought Turkish carpets to all of Europe. Only with the opening of trade routes in the 17th century were significant numbers of Persian rugs introduced to Western Europe.

Some use the words carpet and rug interchangeably. Historically, however, some have distinguished between carpet and rug based on size (the former being larger) or use (carpets on floors, rugs on beds or on the hearth). In the real estate and home improvement industries a distinction is made between carpet (or carpeting) and a rug. The former indicates a covering that is affixed to a floor and the latter a floor covering that is loose-laid, most often for decorative purposes.

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A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage (though the definitions overlap somewhat).

Fences are constructed for several purposes, including: Agricultural fencing, Privacy fencing, Security fencing, and Decorative fencing. Some of the technologies developed for fencing include: Barbed wire fence, Cactus fence, Chain link fencing, Dry-stone wall or rock fence, Electric fence, Ha-ha (or sunken fence), Hedgerows of intertwined, living shrubs, Palisade, Pet fence, Picket fences, Post-and-rail fencing, Split-rail fences made of timber, Snow fence, Stake-and-wire fencing, Turf mounds, Wire netting or wire gauze between posts, Wood-panel fencing, and Wrought iron fencing.

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The roof, the top covering of a building, is one of the universal structures found on all buildings. Its purpose is primarily to shed water off the building and to prevent it from accumulating on top. To achieve this goal, roofs may be highly pitched (sloped) or low sloped in form. Low sloped roofs are commonly found on industrial/commercial type structures. Pitched roofs are the primary design found on residential homes. Metal standing seam roofs are becoming increasingly common on low sloped roof assemblies. Cool roofs and green roofs are becoming increasingly popular, and in some cases are mandated by local codes.

Residential roof designs in mild climates or where there is little precipitation tend to exhibit lower pitched roofs and drainage at the exterior wall; an example of residential flat roof is that of the adobe construction in the American Southwest. In northern climates, where temperatures drop below freezing, or in southern climates with high temperatures, the need for greater thermal resistance will dictate the type of roof design as well as the waterproofing membrane specification.

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Water gardens, also known as aquatic gardens, backyard ponds and garden ponds, have become popular in recent years. Usually referring to a man-made feature, these gardens typically combine a pool with aquatic plants and often ornamental fish. Fixed items such as rocks, fountains, statuary, waterfalls and watercourses can be combined with the pool to add visual interest and integration with the local landscape and environment.

Often the reason for having a pond in your garden is to keep fish, often koi, though many people keep goldfish. Both are hardy, colorful fish which require no special heating, provided you live in an area which does not have extremes of temperature that would affect the fish. If fish are kept, pumps and filtration devices usually need to be added in order to keep enough oxygen in the water to support them. In winter, a small heater may need to be used in cold climates to keep the water from freezing solid.

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A window is an opening in the wall of a building that allows light and air to enter a room and people to see out. At previous times in history they were merely small oval or square holes in the walls. They are usually glass or a strong, transparent plastic. The word was first recorded in the early 13th century, and originally referred to an unglazed hole in a roof. Evidence of glass window panes in Italy dates back nearly 3000 years.

Various types of windows were invented that allowed light but not weather to pass into a building: mullioned glass windows, paper windows, and plates of thinly sliced marble. In England, glass became common in the windows of ordinary homes only in the early 17th century. Modern-style floor-to-ceiling windows became possible only after the industrial glass making process was perfected. Modern windows are customarily large rectangles or squares with glass surfaces. Churches traditionally have stained glass windows.

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Gardening is the art of growing plants with the goal of crafting a purposeful landscape. Residential gardening most often takes place in or about a residence, in a space referred to as the garden. Although a garden typically is located on the land near a residence, it may also be located in a roof, in an atrium, on a balcony, in a windowbox, or on a patio or vivarium.

Gardening also takes place in non-residential green areas, such as parks, public or semi-public gardens (botanical gardens or zoological gardens), amusement and theme parks, along transportation corridors, and around tourist attractions and hotels. In these situations, a staff of gardeners or groundskeepers maintains the gardens.

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