9 Ways to Amp Up Your Bathroom

Take your bathroom to the next level with these great ideas:

1. Shower Faucets

Arguably one of the most important features of the bathroom, the shower faucet(s) plays a big role in your day-to-day life, whether you realize it or not. 

As evidenced in the photo above, multiple shower heads, facing multiple directions, is become more and more popular, bringing that luxurious hotel spa feeling home with you. If you're not ready to go full on with your shower heads, a great way to slowly work your way there is switching your shower head out for a rainfall one.

This is the Delta Metal Raincan Shower Head (shown in their signature stainless finish), available at The Home Depot for $304.90. It's considered a low-flow shower head, saving you up to 60% the water usage of a non-low-flow shower head. Just because it's low-flow doesn't mean you should worry about the water pressure - capable of up to 80 psi, you're still getting enough pressure to make sure your shampoo actually rinses out and doesn't take forever to do so.

Delta also offers the HydroRain® 5-Setting Two-in-One Shower Head as well as the H2Okinetic® Pendant Raincan Shower Head, two more rainfall-style shower heads to help you relax and rejuvinate. 

 

2. Multiple Tiles

Tile is a staple in the bathroom, especially in the shower itself. But tile can get boring. So why not change things up a bit by throwing in a second (or even third) kind of tile. Just look at this gorgeous update featured on Decoholic.

There are infinitely more things to love about this bathroom than just the tile, but it is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile in one space and have it really work. Using tiles that are all in the same color palette (black and white) and in geometric styles is what makes these tiles fit so well together.

 

3. Recessed Caddies

Recessed caddies are the perfect way to create in-shower storage space and not actually take away any of your valuable shower space. They are also a great way to incorporate multiple tiles (per suggestion #2).

This one, featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website, is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile and complementary colors to really make the space pop. For more great recessed caddy inspiration, check out our Pinterest board. The best part? They aren't limited to the shower - you can put them anywhere.

 

4. A Clean Toilet

This is the American Standard Clean ActiVate Touchless Flush Right Height Elongated Toilet, a part of the Clean Collection that features easy-to-clean sides, unlike normal toilets that show you outlines of the piping.

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We've talked about some of the benefits of this particular toilet before, but we didn't even cover how great the "Clean" style is. Look at the sides of the toilet - no outlines of pipes, making it infinitely easier to clean! Plus, this model has a motion-activated flush, so you don't have to worry about spreading germs.

 

5. Clever Storage

Smart use of space when it comes to bathroom storage is what keeps your bathroom looking in tip-top shape rather than cluttered and ignored. Consider creative cabinetry your new best friend. 

These pull outs are both excellent ideas, and a quick search of "bathroom storage solutions" on Pinterest yields endless more. Stop neglecting your bathroom's organizational needs and start enjoying your space again.

 

6. Lighting Through Windows

Properly lighting your bathroom is vital for ensuring ease of use at any time of day. No one wants to do their hair and makeup in the dark. One great way to get that extra lighting is with windows, and not just any windows - skylight windows in the shower. 

Placing the windows in the ceiling is a great way to get the light you want while still keeping the privacy important to a bathroom. You can opt for obscured glass for extra privacy without losing any great natural light.

 

7. Heated Flooring

Something I've long thought of as the ultimate in bathroom luxury, heating flooring is more affordable and accessible than ever before. Installing electric radiant heated flooring does require a bit more forethought, as is doesn't work as well with some kinds of flooring as others. It works best with tile flooring, and less great with coverings like hardwood and carpet. Just think about how wonderful it will feel to step out of a hot shower on a cold winter's day onto heated flooring. Mmmmm. Yes, please.

 

8. The Curb-less Shower

Besides being a fantastic idea for anyone who plans to age-in-place, curb-less showers offer a lot of great benefits, not to mention the their design aesthetics.

Curb-less showers are super easy to clean, and they actually make your bathroom space look larger because, by eliminating the curb, the shower becomes less of a fixture placed into the space and more a bonafide part of the space. And surprisingly, curb-less showers keep water from going everywhere more than a standard shower or tub/shower because the floor underneath the curb-less shower gets sloped toward the drain to prevent water spillage and run-off. Plus, they're just so darn visually appealing - just look at all these beautiful designs!

 

9. Statement WallS

I'm a fan of the statement wall no matter the room (of course, you wouldn't want one in every room), so when I saw that statement walls in bathrooms were starting to become popular, I latched on right away!

You can put it in the shower with some gorgeous tile or behind the toilet with some fabulous wallpaper, and the best part is, they look fantastic in bathrooms big and small. Whether you are using wallpaper or tile, or even a dramatic paint color, you can't go wrong with a statement wall. Or, you could really get ahead of the curve and go for a statement floor.

 

The average person will spend over 2 years of their life in the bathroom, so why not make it an enjoyable two years? For more bathroom inspiration, click here.


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Roofing 101 with CertainTeed

As anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, it is important to have a good roof on your home to protect it from the constant downpour that occurs nine months out of the year. But how many of us really know what's going on under our shingles?

In this post, we're going to peel back the layers to help you understand the different parts of a roof and their functions in keeping your home safe from leaks and ice dams.

First, check out this helpful graphic from CertainTeed:

There are six main elements to a roof, as you saw above. But before any of that goes on, there is a plywood deck that acts as the base for the roof. This needs to be carefully inspected when your roof is being replaced to make sure there are no deficiencies and that none of it is rotting.

1. Waterproof Underlayment

     What is it? A sticky underlayment that goes on the edges of the roof: the valleys, the hips and ridges, the rakes, and the eaves, as well as around any roof penetrations. 

     Why do you need it? It acts as a barrier to prevent water and ice from building up in the eaves and creating an ice dam.

     Why WinterGuard? CertainTeed's WinterGuard® underlayment features a standard adhesive bottom but can be repositioned before deck adhesion. It is available in three finishes: sand, granular, and high tack/high temperature (for keeping shingle, metal, slate, and tile roofs from getting too hot in warmer temperatures). WinterGuard is a "composite material of asphalt polymers, formed into a rolled sheet. The asphalt makes it vapor-tight, and the polymers make the asphalt elastic and sticky", meaning it seals around nails that are driven through it. Check out this video to see WinterGuard in action.

2. Water-resistant Underlayment

     What is it? This is the underlayment that covers and protects the bulk of your roof.

     Why do you need it? Having a water-resistant, but not waterproof, barrier allows moisture to pass through but not water itself. This is what protects your home from anything that gets past the shingles themselves.

     Why DiamondDeck? CertainTeed's DiamondDeck® underlayment is synthetic, made of felt that's been saturated with a asphalt and fiberglass blend. It is scrim-reinforced to improve the protective surface and fully-adhering, meaning less wrinkles for a cleaner, flatter roof surface. An excellent choice for Northern climates, DiamondDeck withstands high winds, so if shingles get blown off, you don't actually need to replace them for up to six months. DiamondDeck holds up better and longer, giving it great value for the cost. You can watch this video to see DiamondDeck as it's applied to a roof.

3. Starter Shingles

     What is it? These are the first shingles to be laid down, hence the name "starter," and they line the edges of the roof.

     Why do you need it? Starter shingles are laid differently than normal shingles, defending the rest of the shingles from wind uplifts along the edge of the roof.

 

Here's another way of looking at the layers:

4. Roof Shingles 

     What is it? These are what most laymen think of when they think of a roof. They are made with a base material, a coating asphalt, a mineral filler, and finally a surfacing material like mineral granules.

     Why do you need it? Shingles are the first line of defence for your roof and home.

     Why CertainTeed? CertainTeed makes architectural shingles, meaning they are significantly sturdier than the 3-tab shingles of the past. They also offer more color options than their competitors and most people prefer their aesthetics to other shingles. In 2005, CertainTeed won the Professional Remodelers Best in Class award for their superior quality roofing system. You can watch CertainTeed shingles being made here. CertainTeed also offers shingles made with their StreakFighter® Algae-Resistant Technology, which you can read about here and here.

5. Hip & Ridge Caps

     What is it? Hips and ridges, as you can see in the diagram above, are the peaks of a roof. They get capped, and the caps then get covered with special shingles to match the roofing shingles and give a nice, finished look to the roof.

     Why do you need it? In order to ensure proper attic ventilation, which we'll explain more in a moment, there should be a 1" gap in the roof at the hips and ridges down to the plywood deck. This then gets covered by a ridge vent to allow proper circulation for warm air coming up from out of the attic. They also add another layer of protection to keep water from getting under the shingles and to keep the wind from blowing your roof off.

6. Roof Ventilation

     What is it? This should really be the number one thing because a lot of it happens before any shingles get laid down. Heat rises, so having proper ventilation is critical to protection your home. This is often in the form of ridge vents (see above) that allow warm air to leave the attic without allowing the outside to get inside.

     Why do you need it? Roofs need to be properly ventilated for a number of reasons: it keeps the framing, insulation, and plywood from being damaged or rotting, and it helps combat potential mold and mildew problems. A properly vented roof will give the shingles a longer life expectancy as well. You can learn more about ventilation herehere, and here.

It is also vital to make sure your roof is properly flashed with drip edge and step flashing to protect the home in the seams of the roofing materials and around the roof's edges. 

 

You can watch a full CertainTeed Integrity Roof System® Installation here

We are a Shingle Master Certified company partnering with CertainTeed Roofing Products to bring the you quality roofing products and installation you deserve. Our Shingle Master Certification allows us to offer a Sure Start Plus 4 Star 50-year warranty


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Beyond Subway Tile

Subway tile is one of the most popular backsplashes for kitchens and bathrooms right now. And why shouldn't it be? It's cool and chic and lends itself to practically every style of decor. But with its radical rise in popularity, perhaps it's time to look beyond subway tile - afterall, you don't want your kitchen or bathroom to look like everyone else's.

Maybe you still love subway tile and aren't quite ready to move on yet. One way to ever-so-slightly change things up is by changing up the orientation of your tile. Check out this wall where the tile runs top to bottom rather than side to side:

This simple difference completely changes the style and makes it much more unique, even though all they did was lay it in a different direction.

An important step to leaving subway tile behind is to add a bit of color. Subway tile is nice a white, so while it looks beautiful when it's clean, it can get kind of boring. This Dove Gray piece by MS International is just the ticket:

Next, it's time to think about size. The standard subway tile sizing is 3" x 6". This beautiful Marazzi tile is a long and skinny 6" x 24", with great color variation to it:

Or you could go for shorter and taller, like this 12" X 24" MS International Carrara:

Instead of going bigger, go smaller. Sheets like these are great options for a mini-subway tile look:

Another beautiful look  is mirrored subway tile, and it can go around fireplaces (like below), as well as in kitchens and bathrooms, adding just that extra bit of sparkle and glamour to a room.

Branching really far from the classic rectangular-look of subway tile is the arabesque shape. You can opt for a basic white, a colorful look, or even a tile with intricately carved details.

Arabesque tile has those lovely curves that keep the eye moving, and it lends a bit of a old world feminine flair to a room.

A style that's becoming more and more popular is octagonal tile. You can get it in big individual tiles like these:

Or in smaller sizes on sheets, like these:

And of course, there's a sparkly option for that extra glitz:

If you kind of like the look of octagon tile, but you aren't completely sold, you could try a rhombus mosaic tile that is laid in a hexagonal-looking pattern but has three-times the grout lines.

There's also the slightly simpler hexagon style:

To really vary it up, consider having an area of tile that's different from the rest as an accent piece:

Penny tile is a classic look, and you can also get it in varying sizes.

One of my personal favorites is the Moroccan fish scale tile, like this eclectic boho beauty:

Tile comes in so many different patterns. Here's just a few more options:

For a really natural, textured look, something like this is a great option:

And there's always the classically seamless look of matching the countertop to the backsplash, which ends up looking something like this:

Whether I've been able to change your mind about subway tile or not, hopefully you're now more aware of the hundreds of styles of tile out there. (And hopefully you're not too overwhelmed by it.) 

Besides your typical home improvement store, a great place to find fun tile is Wayfair. And you can always get inspiration on Pinterest.


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Choosing the Right Countertop Material for Your Lifestyle

There is an abundance of countertop materials to choose from when renovating your kitchen - marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, butcher block, concrete, granite, limestone, laminate, recycled glass, stainless steel, terrazzo, ceramic tile, and even paper composite. But which material is right for you and your lifestyle?

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular materials:

MARBLE

Pros: The look (obviously); marble is as classy as it gets; it's mostly heat durable; and it's timeless so you maintenance aside, you won't want to change it.

Cons: Marble is a porous surface so it will absorb liquids and stain and etch, meaning it needs to be resealed every year or two. It gets nicked, cut, and scratched easily. Plus it's the one of the most expensive materials you can pick for your countertops.

If you watch home improvement shows at all, you've probably heard the phrase "carrara marble" thrown around a lot. Carrara marble is a variety of marble that is one of the highest qualities of marble, and it comes in the typical white and blue-gray color people picture when they think of marble. Marble is absolutely beautiful, but it is also extremely expensive. If you are going for a kitchen that is luxurious, timeless, and more show-than-tell, marble might be the right countertop for you.

QUARTZ

Pros: Quartz is the man-made version of marble, so you get the beauty of the real stuff, combined with great engineering that has gotten rid of the flaws, making quartz stain, scratch, head, acid, and impact resistant. It's also a non-porous surface, so you don't ever have to reseal it - you gotta love low maintenance.

Cons: Like the real thing, quartz can get chipped, particularly on the corners and edges, and the repair work requires a professional.

We here at Square Deal Construction Company love quartz. We always include it as an option in our kitchen remodel estimates because we think it's so great! If you like the look of marble, but you have a budget and you actually use your kitchen on a daily basis, quartz is probably the countertop for you. To see what your kitchen would look like with quartz, check out Cambria's online app DragonVision, or if you have iOS, you can use the Cambria AR app.

GRANITE

Pros: Granite comes in a huge variety of color options and variations, and it can be polished (shiny) or honed (matte). Once it's been sealed, granite is non-porous so it's easy to clean. It's also mostly resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches.

Cons: Needs to be sealed! Seriously, granite absorbs absolutely everything if it's not professionally and properly sealed, and periodically resealed. Another con is how easy it is for the corners to get chipped.

Because they are anything but man-made, granite countertops are one-of-a-kind. If you don't mind a little more maintenance for your counters, and you are possibly interested in more rare colors, granite just might be what you're looking for. You can see what different granite colors look like in a kitchen with the Keystone Kitchen Visualizer.

CONCRETE

Pros: Because concrete is so sturdy, it's almost completely stain, heat, and water resistant, as long as it's been properly sealed. It's also super easy to customize - everything from the thickness to the edges to the color to the finish can be customized.

Cons: Concrete will patina (darken in color) over time and it does require periodic maintenance such as resealing to keep it in tip top shape.

If you're going for a more unique, very stylized aesthetic in your kitchen, concrete might be just the countertop you need.

RECYCLED GLASS

Curava  Recycled Glass Surfaces from  Keystone Granite

Curava Recycled Glass Surfaces from Keystone Granite

Pros: Recycled glass countertops are super unique and fun. They have large pieces of glass to significantly more finely ground pieces. It's also mostly resistant to cuts, scratches, and heat, although that varies by manufacturer.

Cons: The two biggest cons for recycled glass surfaces is that they can stain and how wide a cost range there is.

If you want a more colorful, eco-friendly kitchen, recycled glass is a good way to go, although you should definitely do more research into which manufacturers are better.

BUTCHER BLOCK

Pros: Butcher block brings some often much-needed warmth and character to a kitchen, and it is a great way to have multi-use surfaces. They are also extremely sanitary when they've been properly sealed. 

Cons: Butcher block needs to be sealed and oiled regularly to stay in good condition. It's not a great material to put around a sink because of how wet the sink area usually is, but it's a good option for a counter space near the oven or as an island top. The wood is also susceptible to scratches and dents, just like a regular cutting board.

If you like a more natural look, and you need multi-functional space, you should consider adding some butcher block to your kitchen.

 

You can find more information on countertop materials at these locations: Studio McGee's rundown of countertop surfaces pros and cons; Consumer Reports "Best Countertops for Busy Kitchens" report; Stock Cabinet Express's comparison of granite versus quartz; the Countertop Preview consumer toolbox Countertop Comparison Chart; Jenna Burger's helpful rundown of materials; Zillow's guide; and Lindsay Stephenson's revisit of quartz countertops.


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Thriving in Place: A How-To

Aging is become more and more of a concern for the population as baby boomers continue to retire in masses. A topic quickly gaining in popularity for home renovations is making a home safe for "aging in place." Beyond just aging in place, we want you to be able to thrive in place. Your home is just that, your home, and you probably want it to stay that way. Here are our remodeling tips to help you thrive in place. We call them the 7 R's:

1. Re-view the Laundry

If you're washer and dryer are front load, (as most are these days), you'll definitely want to put in a stand (approximately 6" tall) to raise them up and limit back pain from constantly bending over while doing laundry. Another thing to consider is the location of your laundry - the less stairs the better, and so much better if you can move it straight into the master closet.

2. Remove the Bathtub

The bathtub definitely presents an issue when it comes to stepping over the side. Remove the bathtub in favor of a low-profile shower. (We work with a great company called Onyx to install low-profile and ADA compliant shower stalls. Onyx makes a great in-shower seat, too.) Or, if you can't bear to part with your tub, get a walk-in bathtub.

3. Raise the Bar

The grab bar, that is. Install at least one grab bar in your shower and consider adding one next to your toilet as well. We recommend this one from Moen; it comes in three sizes.

4. Ramp It Up

Remove front entry and backyard stairs in lieu of wheelchair-accessible ramps. Add rails for extra safety.

5. Re-think the little things

Door handles and faucets should all be changed to lever-styles to make them easier for your hands to grab and maneuver. Change cabinet knobs to bars that won't get clothing caught on them, like these Delta ones.

6. Radiate light

Bring in all the exterior light you can get by making windows taller where possible, adding new exterior doors with glass panes inside, and adding recessed canned lights to the ceiling anywhere that needs more light for safety (like over the staircase or in the kitchen).

7. Rid the trips

Smooth, potentially slippery surfaces are just trips waiting to happen. Save yourself the trouble and install grip tape in places that could become a hazard such as the steps of a staircase or the tiled entryway. 

 

Whether you plan to stay in your home as long as you can, or you are looking to downsize, we hope that our 7 R's help you thrive in place.


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A Deck for All Seasons

We love capped composite decking materials, and with the ridiculous rise in cedar prices over this last summer, composite decks have become quite competitive in their pricing. But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the many reasons composite decking is better than wood:

Maintenance

Of course, one of the most important things to consider, second only to how well the deck is actually built, is maintenance. Wood decks require a lot of maintenance. They have to be thoroughly cleaned and re-stained every year to protect against rot and fading. Plus, it needs to be sanded down and re-finished every couple of years. Then you have to check and spray for bugs, and pray that the beetle you just saw running across your deck is in fact a beetle and not a termite. That’s a lot of time you could be doing something more relaxing, like enjoying sitting on your deck. Composite decks do not require more than an hour of maintenance every year – they just need a good soap and water washing once a year.

Eco-friendliness

Composite decking helps the environment. Wood decking means cutting down trees that protect us from carbon dioxide and replenish our oxygen, using more trees to create the energy needed to power the machines that refine the wood and make it construction ready, and having to replant more trees to start the process all over again. Trees are what makes our home here in the Pacific Northwest so stinking beautiful. (Especially like right now at the end of October when the leaves are turning the most brilliant shades of red and orange and yellow and the whole area is just glowing.) Composite decking is mostly made out of recycled plastic materials, keeping them out of dumps. TimberTech advertises that their decking is made from 73% recycled materials, and Trex’s is 95% recycled materials. You can learn more about turning plastic into composite decking in this Trex video and this Fiberon video.

Sturdiness

Wood decks splinter and twist and rot and warp. Composite decks do not. Plus, composite decking is more weather-resistant. Wood decking materials last at most 10-15 years. Composite decking materials last at least 25 years and longer if you take good care of them. That’s almost twice as long! And considering cedar and composite materials are running about the same price-wise right now, you end up getting so much more for your money’s worth with composite decking – a longer lifetime with significantly less maintenance time.

The Look

If the only thing holding you back from going with composite rather than wood is that you are afraid it won’t look like real wood, please come into our office and let us show you the 30+ samples of composite decking we have from four different companies that are designed with a wood grain finish. (Or just look at these samples on Trex’s website.) Composite decking has the look of real wood, without the hazards and dangers of real wood. And you don’t have to stain it to get it the color you want. Plus, most composite decking materials have color all throughout the material, rather than slathering on a coating at the end, so you don’t have to worry about fading or staining.

Let us know your thoughts on capped composite decking in the comments below.


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The Perks of Metal Roofing

We are currently building a new home out in Carlton and putting a standing seam metal roof on it. Here are some of the benefits of a metal roof:

  • Look - the metal roof is a classic look, lending itself to many different architectural styles. Plus, it comes in dozens of colors, styles, and patterns!
  • Durability - metal roofing won't rot, curl, split, flake, peel, break, burn, or blow off. It's also more resistant to hail, wind, fire, and freezing/thawing problems than composite and asphalt roofing materials. Not to mention it's so much lower in maintenance than those other materials and lasts much longer.
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  • Lightweight - most styles are less than one-third the weight of asphalt shingles.
  • Energy Efficient - metal roofs in general are more energy efficient than asphalt shingles, and you can upgrade to "cool metal roofing" that is even more efficient because of the pigments in it and the way they are designed to reflect sunlight and heat. This guide talks more about the importance of a 1-150 NFA balance in your attic.
  • Value - besides the fact that metal roofs last significantly longer than other roofing materials, they can also add resale value to your home, and, in some cases, even reduce the cost of your homeowners' insurance.
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You can learn more about our roofing services here. And in the meantime, you can follow along with the progress of the Carlton Quaker House on our Facebook page.

Cleaner Windows, Less Effort

Take a moment and look at the window nearest you - not through it, at it. Notice how it looks, if there are water spots, dirt, etc. on it. Unless you are a glass expert or a window cleaner, you probably hadn't ever noticed before just how dirty your windows get. Or maybe you have noticed, but going through the effort of cleaning them, or finding someone you trust to clean them for you, is too much of a hassle. What if I told you that needing to clean your windows could become a thing of the past?

Yes, that's right. With a simple switch to new windows, you could forgo ever cleaning your windows again. But not just any old windows - you need windows with Neat Glass.

The glass geniuses at Cardinal Glass Industries have come up with a new kind of glass called Neat Glass. Glass used in normal windows appears smooth to the naked eye, but when you look a little closer, you can see it actually has a slight indentation pattern to it. Unlike ordinary glass, Neat Glass is completely smooth. This has some incredible implications.

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When water hits normal glass, it bubbles up and holds itself intact, either drying in place or slowly moving down the glass to the bottom of the pane and dripping off. When water hits Neat Glass, the ultra smoothness of the glass means that the water does not form any sort of bubble, but rather falls straight down the pane and off the glass, leaving no annoying droplets or dried water marks.

Watch this video to learn more:

There is a layer of titanium dioxide in Neat Glass that causes dirt/bird poop/etc. to decompose because of the way the it chemically reacts to the sun. Then, when it rains (or you spray it down with a hose) the dirt/etc. instantly washes away, making Neat Glass is super easy to clean - you can literally just shoot it with a hose and call it good.

The best part? Cardinal Glass has a manufacturing plant here in Oregon, in the southern part of Hood River. We love locally made products! Cardinal Glass is used to make Prime Windows. You can learn more about Cardinal's Neat Glass and check out their interactive guide here.

Ready to switch out your windows? Contact us about our window services and take advantage of rebates on energy efficient windows while they're still available.


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