DIY Garage Door Makeover? Yes, Please!

DIY Faux Garage DoorsWhen you look at your home from the street, do you see any big blank spaces in the curb appeal? If you say the garage door, then you are correct. Our focus is often limited to the front door while the garage door goes unnoticed. Faux garage door windows are easy to do and will complete the overall look of your home.

Why Change the Look of Your Garage Door?

Is your garage door (or doors) solid, white and boring? No need to replace a perfectly good garage door when you can spruce it up with windows that look real from a distance. Here’s what it can do for your home:

  • Boost curb appeal – By adding faux windows and giving it a little charisma, you are toning down that blank space glare from the front of your home.
  • Unify the style of your house – Select window styles that blend well with your type of home – traditional, contemporary or cottage.
  • Get a new view – Pulling into the same old non-descript garage door every day is boring. Adding touches like windows helps you enjoy the curb appeal of your own home.

First Step? Pressure Washing

If you are a fan of carriage door style windows and hinges, there are several ways to create them. One thing they all have in common is that your garage door needs to be clean first. Pressure wash the door to remove any dirt and allow it to dry completely.

How to Create Faux Carriage Windows on Your Garage Door

  1. Paint – This is the most common approach and the least expensive. It is pretty much permanent, so you need to be sure.
  2. Decals – You can order these online for around $100 and many come with hinge details.
  3. Resin – High impact plastic resin can be ordered online and runs between $300-$500. This hard material is screwed onto the garage door.
  4. Professional Repaint – Hiring a professional to paint the windows will cost about $500.

Tape First, Then Paint

If you choose to paint, tape off the sections of the door for the windows. Press the tape firmly to make sure it sticks. Cover the rest of the door with plastic. Use an all-surface enamel and spray or apply the paint to taped sections.

Don’t Forget the Hinges

For the hinges you can either buy real ones and screw them in or paint them on. When painting, use a stencil to keep their look consistent. Go back over the windows and hinges (if painted) with a clear sealant to help them last longer. 

Just Stick It

Decals are easy to find online and easy to use, just peel and stick. A set for a two-car garage will cost around $100. Use outdoor adhesive vinyl if you want to permanently apply them and to have them hold up under the blistering sun. A coat of sealant keeps the color from fading.

Simple DIY Project with Big Results

From the street, it is very hard to discern if the windows are real or not. You will be amazed at how something so simple ties the look of your house together and boosts your curb appeal even higher. Check another project off your to-do list!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to pressure washers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home improvement project. Looking for suggestions on other ways to boost your home’s curb appeal? Our blog, DIY Projects That Boost the Value of Your Home, has great tips on what to tackle next. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Get Creative with DIY Home Address Displays

First impressions are lasting, so make your home’s appearance stand out from all the rest by creating a unique DIY address display. It’s an opportunity to add a little personality and color to the front of your house while marking it with important information. Time to get creative!

House Numbers That Express Personality

Even in this time of the GPS, having your house number prominently displayed is how everyone from the post office and fire department to the kid who delivers the newspaper (you remember those) finds you. Traditionally located on or near the front door, today house numbers are displayed everywhere from planters to flag poles. They’ve evolved into personal expressions.

Why Display House Numbers?

  • Identification – They make it easy for the people to find your home (especially police and fire/rescue).
  • Requirement – Some homeowner’s associations require house numbers be displayed on a certain area of the property (but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring!)
  • Self-Expression – Show off your family’s interests or tastes with house numbers done in your team’s colors or favorite activities.
  • Creative Statement – Many of us enjoy working on crafts so use your talents to make a unique display.
  • Finishing Touches – House numbers that match the style of your home (contemporary, craftsman, cottage) are small finishing touches that complete the look.

Sketch Out Ideas First

Think of the front of your home as a blank canvas, what do you want to show the world? Take a photo of your front entrance and use your computer’s drawing program to sketch out your ideas. Maybe you want to add colorful accents or try out different locations for your house numbers, this will help you experiment.

8 Ideas for Creative House Number Displays

  1. Rustic wooden display – Use recycled boards from wood pallets as the backdrop for your numbers.
  2. Flower pots – Create a row of colorful flower pots with one house number stenciled on each. You can add live or silk flowers to them.
  3. Upcycled doors or windows – An antique door or a small window can be painted and propped up against the front of your house or in the yard.
  4. Picture frames – Stencil the numbers on a board and frame it. Hang it from a ribbon on the door.
  5. Light fixtures – Paint house numbers on the side of a large lantern and mount it. Your guests will be able to see the address, even at night.
  6. Monograms – Large scale monogram letters (sold at most craft stores) with painted numbers can be attached to your house.
  7. Planters – Paint numbers on large containers with colorful plants and place them at your entrance.
  8. Seasonal creations – Design an address plaque that allows you to change out the decorations with the season. A metal plate made from roof flashing will allow you to place seasonal magnets on your display.

Replace Old Mailboxes

Many people have house numbers on their mailboxes at the street. Liven yours up by repainting the box and adding stylized numbers in a bright color. If your mailbox has seen better days, replace it. Read our blog, Replace Your Old, Damaged Mailbox in 5 Easy Steps for helpful tips on getting it done right.

Envy of the Neighborhood

If impressions are lasting, be sure the one you make is a good one. Your home’s curb appeal could be the envy of the neighborhood – and functional at the same time. Make sure your address display is easy to read, placed where it can be seen and shows your unique style (you want to show off your handy work).

Expert Advice

From miter saws and circular saws to drills and orbital sanders our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home improvement project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Keep Popcorn in the Bowl & Off the Ceiling

How to Remove Your Popcorn CeilingIs looking at your ceiling giving you the inspiration for your next DIY project? If you want to remove that ugly popcorn texture immediately, then it is! If you’ve also heard this is an easy thing to do, then you’ve heard right. The process does create a mess; however, with a little preparation (and our help) you can tackle that popcorn ceiling – no problem. Ready to get started?

What You’ll Need for Popcorn Ceiling Removal & Repair

Beware – Asbestos Often Lurks in 70’s Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings and acoustical panels were all the rage in the 60’s and 70’s, but today they are a turn-off to potential home buyers. They can be used to hide flaws in the drywall but they collect dust, which may aggravate allergies. The biggest drawback is popcorn ceilings installed prior to 1979 often contain asbestos and will need to be tested. These ceilings are only dangerous if disturbed, which is why professionals need to remove them.

6 Steps to Removing Popcorn Ceilings

  • Prepare the room – Remove furniture and light fixtures; lay plastic over walls, floors and doors to contain dust and debris.
  • Wet the ceiling – Spray water lightly over small sections of the ceiling to soften it up and make it easier to remove.
  • Scrap it off – Use a texture scraper for larger areas and a putty knife for corners and trim.
  • Sand the area – To remove any remaining lumps, sand the ceiling and then run a damp sponge over it to remove dust and debris. Allow to dry.
  • Make repairs – Redo any failed joints and edging tape with drywall mud. Fill in cracks with spackle. Lightly sand again.
  • Prime and paint – Use a bright white ceiling paint to help reflect light in your room.

This is a Messy Job If You Aren’t Careful

This stuff is like wet oatmeal that dries into annoying drywall dust, so unless you want it to get into everything, hang and lay plastic drop cloths. Overlap and tape all the seams. It may seem like overkill but when done all you do is remove the tape, roll the plastic up and stuff it in a trash bag.

Don’t Over Saturate Your Ceilings with Water

If you have moistened the ceiling enough, the popcorn material will scrape off easily. You may have to spray it a couple of times because the texture is dry and porous. Don’t overdo it or the drywall can be damaged when you scrap. Go slowly and work in small sections.

A Putty Knife Comes in Handy in Tight Spots

A ceiling texture scraper is good on large spaces and often comes with a refuse bag to collect popcorn debris. To remove popcorn from tight corners and around molding you may want to use a putty knife. Once the ceiling has dried lightly, sand it and vacuum up the dust.

Are You Ready for Some Mud in Your Life?

Prepare to do a little drywall work when removing a popcorn ceiling. Many installers will do a basic/rough taping of the drywall if they know it is to be covered with popcorn texture. For a smooth surface, put a skim coat of drywall mud on the joints and sand lightly.

Ceilings Are Tough on the Back and Neck

A large room can be a tough workout for someone with a bad back or neck, so consider rounding up some helpers or hire a professional. Yes, this is an easy DIY project but only if you prepare your room first. Take your time, do it right and save the popcorn for a bowl in front of the TV.

Expert Advice

Once you finish removing the popcorn ceiling, do you need some advice on painting? Our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls, will help you achieve beautiful results. From tank sprayers and wet/dry vacuums to paint sprayers and drywall tools our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home renovation project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Team Up with a Landscape Professional for Amazing Results

Sometimes getting your landscape exactly how you want it takes a team effort. Asking for help is not going against the DIYer’s code, it just makes sense. When in doubt on how to deal with a problem area of your yard or how to execute a specific design, call in a landscaping professional to help get you back on track.

Do You Call a Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect?

Say you want to create a backyard Zen garden, who would you call? A landscape designer has a horticulture background and can blend the right plants and materials together for your dream garden. A professionally trained landscape architect can also design your oasis but they know how to alter the lay of the land to appropriately deal with issues like bad drainage problems and soil erosion.

The Benefits of Working with a Landscape Designer or Architect

  • Ideas – They may see options you haven’t considered.
  • Wealth of knowledge – They know the best types of plants, hardscapes or water features that will work well for your landscape.
  • Resources –They have the business contacts and inside knowledge on the different materials and companies you may want to use.

The scope of work you want to undertake will determine which of these professionals you use. (Architects tend to work on larger scale projects.) Decide on your budget and how far you want to take your partnership. Whether you want a design plan or someone to handle the bigger tasks, let these professionals supplement your landscaping needs in whatever way you desire.

Tips for a Productive Landscape Consultation

Your consultation appointment is a meet and greet when the designer or architect assesses the landscape. It is handy to have a site or plat map of your property – a map drawn to scale, that shows the land divisions in your neighborhood – so you can clearly define the area to be renovated.

  1. Give a brief overview of your landscaping plans – You will meet again to go over details. Focus on the desired look and feel you want in your garden.
  2. Tell them your budget – They will be able to tell you if your budget is feasible. You may need to do the work in stages as you can afford it.
  3. Discuss what you want from them – Do you just want a design plan or do you intend for them to build elements? Define your role and where you want to use your DIY skills.
  4. Find out how do they charge for services – This could be hourly or a lump sum quote. The standard request is to pay the cost of permits and some materials upfront. You should get an itemized quote within a reasonable time after your consultation.
  5. Ask for references and to see a portfolio – Most professionals will have a list available and their website should have photos of finished work. Ask them if you can contact their other clients.
  6. Discuss whether they are licensed and bonded – If they are doing some of the work then they should have insurance to cover their employees.

Why Go Through a Major Landscaping Project Alone?

A landscape designer or architect can resolve issues you have in your yard or help you formulate a game plan for that total makeover. Seek out the expertise you need and you may find it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Here’s looking at you, DIYer.

Expert Advice

From bobcats and backhoes to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. Does your landscaping design include a retaining wall? You’ll find lots of helpful tips in our blog, Summer Garden Update #1: Building a Retaining Wall. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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10 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Now

10 Wasy to Improve Curb AppealIf you watch home improvement shows, you’ve heard about the importance of curb appeal for your home. Is it really that vital? We are here to tell you that working on your curb appeal should be on your to-do list, even if you aren’t listing your home in the immediate future.

Good First Impression

“First impressions are lasting” is something your mom drilled into your head about your appearance, so why wouldn’t the same apply to your home? Buyers judge a house first from the outside – whether in person or online. Most realtors will tell you that your home’s curb appeal can make or break a sale.

The Right Curb Appeal Can:

  • Increase the sale price of a home
  • Attract more potential buyers
  • Boost the overall value of your home

Curb Appeal’s Immediate Benefits

If you think of your house as a work in progress, you will recognize that working on DIY projects now will not only let you take your time and spread the cost of home improvements out, but you and your family will have a chance to enjoy your home’s new look before you’re ready to sell.

10 Boosts for Curb Appeal

  • Pressure wash everything – Clean the exterior of the house, the driveway and the garage door. Wash your lawn furniture as well.
  • Paint the front door and trim – Freshening up the entry way gives the home an inviting feeling.
  • Invigorate your landscaping – If your grass is thinning out, install sod. If your shrubs are overgrown, trim them. Plant flowers to give a pop of color to the front.
  • Check the roof – If your roof has seen better days, then replace it. Realtors say that a recently replaced roof can boost the sale price and you should be able to recoup your cost.
  • Clean gutters – Nothing ages a home more than overgrown gutters, so get out the ladder.
  • Fix driveway cracks – Like the roof, this is an immediate turn off for buyers who don’t want to deal with big repairs right off the bat. Seal cracks or consider resurfacing.
  • De-clutter the exterior – Walk around your house and look for ways to clean up. Stash lawn equipment, hoses, extra lawn furniture and toys.
  • Clean and fix windows – Wash them inside and out to let the light in. Buyers are attracted to homes with bright interiors. Fix any windows that may be cracked or do not open.
  • Organize the garage – Clean in and around it, and install an organizational system. If your garage doors do not open properly then repair or replace them.
  • Stage your home – Just as you do on the inside, plan how to make your home shine on the outside. Ask a realtor or friend to come and give you their opinion.

Killer Curb Appeal Improves the Neighborhood

Whether you are listing your home now or not, getting a jump on boosting your home’s curb appeal is just prudent planning. Walk around the exterior and take notes on what you need to do. Figure out your plan of attack and go for it. Give the outside of your home the same attention to detail you do on the inside. Everyone will soon know where you live – it’s the house with the killer curb appeal.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and ladders to pressure washers and paint sprayers our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Worried about how to improve your cracked driveway? Our blog – 4 Steps to Renew an Aging Concrete Driveway – has helpful tips to get you started. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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8 Ways to Kick Your Backyard Up a Notch

create your perfect backyard entertaining areaWith summer in full swing, you want to entertain outdoors in a backyard that is something special. We’ve put together a list of what we think makes for a perfect outdoor entertaining area, including links to some of our past articles – see if you can’t find your next DIY project!

Big or Small, Utilize It

Whether your backyard is big or small really doesn’t matter, it’s how you utilize your space that counts. Your first task is to determine how you’ll use the entertainment area and what kind of budget you have to work with. Do you want to use your entertainment space:

  • for the kid’s pool parties?
  • for grilling with friends?
  • for relaxing with your family?
  • all of the above? 

Create Entertainment Zones

Just like rooms in your house, divide your yard up into zones – dining, entertainment, and conversation areas. See where they best fit in your landscape and tie them together into a cohesive design. Your backyard may just need tweaking in order to have it just the way you want it.

8 Elements for a Perfect Outdoor Entertaining Area

  • Water – This could be in the form of an in ground pool or maybe a backyard pond but a water feature will boost the value of your home and provide plenty of enjoyable days outside with friends and family.
  • Covered dining area – Consider installing an awning or roof to protect your mealtime from bad weather. It would extend the usability of your backyard. A covering like a pergola or fabric curtains will give the space a romantic feeling.
  • Grill – Whether it is charcoal or gas, summertime is grilling time so incorporate one into your entertainment area. Remember to give yourself storage space nearby to stash all your grilling accoutrement. Treat it like an outdoor kitchen, add a small refrigerator.
  • Deck – It moves you out of the house and into the yard. Your deck can be where your grill is located and where your dining area is. You can have different levels of a deck to include space for dining and conversation.
  • Outdoor lighting and sound system – Trying to dine by the light of an outdoor flood light can kill the mood in a hurry. Consider lights for your deck, grilling area and walkways. Add speakers to your space so everyone can enjoy the music or the big game.
  • Poolside Bar – If pool parties are your thing then having a convenient snack area close to the pool is a perfect way to extend the outdoor fun and keep wet feet out of your house.
  • Lawn and garden – Having a section of lush grass for kids to play on or a beautifully scented garden to stroll through extends your entertaining possibilities into the far reaches of your yard. Scatter conversation areas throughout your garden by adding benches and lawn furniture.
  • Outdoor fire pit – Summer always goes by so fast and installing an outdoor fire pit or fireplace can help extend your outdoor entertaining season into the fall.

Personalize Your Space with Decorations

Use decorative design elements like colorful cushions, pillows, planters and garden art to help tie your entertainment zones together. Come up with an outdoor theme that reflects you and your family’s interests – favorite sports teams, places, travel dreams or heritage, for instance.

Create the Perfect Entertainment Area for You!

Your backyard is a blank canvas for you to create the perfect entertainment area. Hopefully we have given you some ideas on how to kick your space up a notch. So get busy! Summer is calling and that grill isn’t going to light itself.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and nail guns to orbital sanders and drills our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY backyard project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond

how to make a backyard pondBackyard ponds filled with exotic fish and tranquil waterfalls are a beautiful addition to any landscape. In our previous blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps, we outline how to begin building a pond. Before you starting digging though, we have some tips to make this DIY project a success.

Pond Kits Give You Everything You’ll Need

The popularity of water gardening and fish ponds has grown so the supplies and the equipment you need are easy to find. Not sure what you will need? Pond kits come with all the required parts – pump, pipes and liner – and are readily available.

Bigger Ponds Are Better

If you use your own design, go bigger! The more fish and plants you have, the healthier the pond, so larger ponds actually require less maintenance. Keeping the water clean is key. Making sure you have the right size pump for your pond is important. Too small and the pump will be overworked and break down.

Pond Maintenance is a Must

A pond is very much like a swimming pool when it comes to maintenance. You will need to clean the filter frequently and remove any debris. Knowing how to service your own equipment will keep your costs down.

9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond:

  • Buy a good liner – A good butyl rubber liner can last up to 20 years. Use carpet padding or landscape fabric underneath it for protection.
  • Avoid sharp rocks – Use smooth stones to line the pond to avoid tearing the liner. You need flat ones to line the edge.
  • Build a pond shelf – This is a partially submerged ledge where you can place plants.
  • Include rock overhangs – Give your fish places to hide and escape the hot sun.
  • Have a GFCI outlet – Plug the pump into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet. It needs to be at least five feet away from any outdoor water.
  • Bury your electrical wires – Use PVC pipe to bury them safely in the ground and avoid having someone trip over them or an animal chew through them.
  • Consider your yard’s rain runoff – Locate the pond where it will not fill up with runoff water from your yard or a neighbor’s. Factor in an overflow stream or waterfall where the pond water can go if it does flood.
  • Add an eduction jet and skimmer – The eduction jet creates underwater currents to avoid stagnation and the skimmer will help clean of fallen leaves and debris.
  • Include a bead filter and UV Water clarifier – A bead filter traps sand and debris and a clarifier keeps algae blooms from occurring.

Landscape With A Purpose

Landscaping in and around the pond is your next big step. Select plants that will help keep the water clean and algae free. When installing your plants, use aquatic potting soil. Regular potting soil contains nutrients that will encourage algae growth. Mulch the plants with pea gravel. Start the plants on the pond ledge to acclimate them to the water. Once you have them in the right spot, then submerge them. Plants that add to your waterscape include:

  • Water moss
  • Hornwort
  • Curled pondweed
  • Lotus
  • Canna – Use in the pond or outside
  • Pitcher plant
  • Taro or Elephant’s Ear – Use in the pond or outside
  • Papyrus
  • Water Lily

Protect Your Fish

Feed your fish at least once a day during warm weather. Cut back to two or three times a week during colder weather. If you have a small pond, make sure it does not freeze solid during winter. Decaying plants release gases that get trapped under the ice and kill the fish. Install a floating deicer to keep the surface open.

Your Hard Work Pays Off

When you look back on the hard work that goes into this DIY protect and how great it turns out, you’ll be convinced that a backyard pond is a great investment for your home and a wonderfully relaxing place for your family to unwind.

Expert Advice

From backhoes and trenchers to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How-To Transform Your Walls with Texture

how to give your walls textureWant to try something different to upgrade the look of your walls? Express your creative side with textured paints and techniques, and transform your space into a Tuscan villa with stucco walls or a rich marbled hall. Let the walls be your canvas and add some texture to your life.

Be Adventurous with Brushes, Sponges and Paper

Decide on the look you want and start experimenting. Ready-made products are always easy to use, but be adventurous and try brushes, sponges or tissue paper to create unique looks. Good results depend on good preparation so clean, patch and sand your walls before painting. If your walls already have texture on them, remove it before adding a new one.

4 Products That Add Texture to Walls:

  • Textured paint – Comes in grades ranging from very fine to coarse. Easy to use but may be limited in color selection.
  • Texture additives – Mix it with regular paint and adjust the amount of grit for your desired look.
  • Joint compound – Apply to a wall and then use a texturing tool to make the pattern you want. Allow it to dry completely before sanding or painting.
  • Textured wallpaper – Add this to your wall with strong adhesive, prime and paint.

A Paint Sprayer Makes Texturing a Breeze

If you decide to use a textured paint but can’t find the color you want, use it as a base coat. Apply a top coat in the color of your choice with a paint sprayer to finish off your look. Textured paint can be thick (to give you time to work with it) so allow plenty of drying time.

Spackle Your Way to a Beautiful Design

Joint compound or spackle is easy to use and slow drying, which gives you plenty of time to craft your design. Practice your texturing method first and perfect your technique. Once dry, use fine grit sandpaper to smooth out mistakes or to allow more of your base coat to come through.

Methods to Texture Walls:

  • Combing – Pull a whisk broom, thick bristled brush or a comb through the paint or compound to create ridges or patterns. Use vertical and horizontal strokes to create a woven look similar to rice paper.
  • Rag Rolling – An old rag, dipped in paint and rolled over a wall, creates a dappled effect. Add multiple layers and shades of paint for visual depth.
  • Smooshing – Apply a coat of paint, press a piece of plastic into it and then gently remove it to achieve a marbled look.
  • Sponging – Create irregular patterns by dipping a sponge (natural or synthetic) in paint and smudging walls.
  • Patterned roller – Pre-cut rollers make tackling larger areas easier and help keep patterns uniform. Try dipping one end in one color and the other in a second color for a unique look.
  • Wood grain tool – Pull through wet paint to simulate the layered look of wood.
  • Venetian plaster paint – A two-toned paint process that gives the look of marble or stone and lets your underlying color show through.

The Sky’s The Limit with Textured Paint

Be inventive, use different materials like cheese cloth, lace and or wadded up tissue paper to achieve interesting patterns and textures. Stencil a pattern using textured paint to give a 3D effect. There is no wrong way of texturing, so go for it! This is one DIY project where the sky is the limit, so let your creative flag fly.

Expert Advice

From ladders and paint sprayers to orbital sanders and wet/dry vacuums our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY painting project. Worried about using a paint sprayer for the first time? Learn the Proper Techniques for Painting with a Paint Sprayer by reading our blog. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Paint It, Don’t Replace It! Tips for Painting Tile

how to paint tileUgly, outdated tile is something many DIY homeowners want to fix. Replacing it is always an option, although this may be the costlier expense. You won’t have to live with it any longer, however. Paint it, don’t replace it! While not a permanent fix, painting your tile can freshen the look of a room and give you more time to make future renovations.

Preparation and Product Selection Are Key

The keys to successfully painting tile are preparing the surface properly and using the right type of paint. Preparing tile is a little more involved than painting drywall but the time you spend doing it right will help the paint look better and last longer.

3 Steps to Preparing Tile for Painting:

  • Clean it – Remove all the soap scum, dirt and mildew from the tiles and grout. Use an abrasive bathroom cleaner and rinse well.
  • Sand it – Rough up the surface using a 180/220 grit sandpaper (synthetic grit paper like silicon carbide or aluminum oxide work well) to remove the gloss off of the glazed surface. An orbital sander will do this quicker and more evenly than hand sanding.
  • Dust it – Wipe the tiles down with a damp cloth to remove any loose debris or grit. It can show through the paint.

Repair Tile and Grout Before Starting

Your tile and grout need to be in good shape. Paint amplifies any imperfection so make any repairs to cracked, chipped or broken tiles before starting. Re-do your grout if it is too dry and cracking. Remove all caulk from around tubs and counters. It is best to re-apply a fresh bead when your painting is finished. Tape off all fixtures, faucets and mirrors to avoid getting paint on them.

Tips for Painting Your Tile

  • Use an epoxy bonding primer to help the paint adhere properly.
  • For the best color selection use a latex paint (semi-gloss or high gloss) and apply 2 coats.
  • A paint sprayer will give you the smoothest results.
  • If you use a sponge brush, work in one direction to minimize streaks.
  • Lightly sand in between coats to help the paint stick.
  • Finish with several coats of sealant and allow 2-3 days to dry completely.

Painted Tiles Can Last 5 Years

This easy DIY project is a great way to freshen up outdated tile until you’re ready to redecorate or renovate. Painted tiles can last up to five years if you avoid harsh cleaners or scrub brushes. Stop living with ugly tile and get out the paint sprayer. That icky avocado green is going down!

Expert Advice

Wanting to try your hand at installing tile? Our blog, How to Install a Kitchen Tile Backsplash, has some great tips to get you started. From ladders and paint sprayers to grout cutting saws and orbital sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next home DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Hummingbird Feeders Liven Up Your Garden

bird feeders liven up a gardenYour garden is not just a random combination of plants and flowers, but an environment for the wildlife that lives there. One of the most entertaining creatures to watch is the Hummingbird as it flits, flies and hovers in search of nectar. Adding a feeder (or two) will attract these tiny birds, providing hours of delight for you and your family.

Fascinating Facts About Hummingbirds

  • According to The Hummingbird Society, 34 of the 342 known Hummingbird species are at risk of extinction.
  • They can hover and fly backwards.
  • They lap up their food with a long thin tongue.
  • Bugs are their primary food source and sugar (that comes from natural or manmade nectar) is the fuel that energizes them.
  • They are voracious eaters, starting to feed as early as 45 minutes before sunrise and continue throughout the day.
  • They are attracted to the color red, although they have no need for red food (forget food dyes!)
  • Leaving a feeder out all year will not entice them to stay. Some birds migrate up to 3,000 miles annually. Bring your feeder in when you haven’t seen a Hummer in three to four weeks.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are territorial so place feeders in different locations so other varieties such as Rufous, Black-chinned and Calliope will feed.

Flowers First, Feeder Next

Placing your feeder near flowering plants is the best way to attract Hummingbirds. Some of their favorite garden plants are Azaleas, Butterfly Bush, Cardinal Flower and Coral-bells; Flowering Crabtree, Fuchsias, Honeysuckle, Impatiens, Lantana and Weigela. Don’t worry if you don’t see birds while your garden is in bloom, they are too distracted by your gorgeous flowers and will return to the feeder soon.

Hummingbirds Like It Clean

As long as they are kept clean, Hummingbirds have no preference on plastic, glass or homemade feeders. Look for one with feeding ports above the liquid (dripless), that have perches and are easy to clean. Start small until you attract a steady number of birds, then add more feeders.

Fresh Food is Good

Hummingbirds actively avoid a spoiled food source, so changing your feeder every four to five days is essential. Spoiled liquid will look cloudy and may have black mold spots floating in it. Throw away old nectar rather than topping it off.

The Best Nectar Recipe

Because Hummers get their nutrients primarily from flower nectar and insects, skip buying supplemented commercial nectar. Also, avoid using honey, Jell-O, raw (turbinado) or brown sugar, fruit or red dye. Here’s the best nectar recipe:

  • Mix 1-part sugar to 4-parts water
  • Boil for 1-2 minutes
  • Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks

Prevent Feeder Mold

Use a mild detergent, bottle brush and hot water to clean your feeder before changing the food. Once a month, use a mixture of ¼ cup of bleach to a gallon of water to prevent mold. Full strength vinegar instead of bleach is also a good option, just rinse well.

Bees and Wasps Can Ruin Your Feeder

When Hummingbirds feed they often spill nectar onto surrounding surfaces, which attracts bees and wasps. To discourage them, wipe the feeder ports or dilute the sugar mixture in the nectar recipe. Moving the food source to a new location can help, too – the birds will follow it, but the bees won’t.

Sticky Situation for Ants

Nectar also attracts ants, which is why many feeders come with an ant barrier or water moat. Still, ants can be determined creatures, so try applying a very sticky goo called Tanglefoot to the bottom of the moat tray. Flip the tray upside down on the feeder to keep it out of contact with the birds.

Become a Dedicated Hummingbird Caretaker Today

These delicate aerial acrobats bring zip to your garden and are fun to watch. Become a dedicated caretaker of a Hummingbird feeder today and help save these beautiful creatures for another generation to enjoy.

Expert Advice

Our companion blog, How to Attract Birds and Butterflies for a Livelier Yard, is filled with helpful tips on how to bring more wildlife into your garden. From ladders and drills to shovels and wheel barrows, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next gardening DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Consider Options Before Diving into a DIY Pool Project

diy fiberglass in-ground poolIf you’ve been thinking about challenging your DIY skills and installing an in-ground pool this summer, consider first whether or not your time, effort (and talent) might be better served on different parts of this kind of project.

Plan for Extra Costs

Every year, 175,000 to 200,000 new pools are built. The average cost of a professionally installed pool runs from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size, shape and type of pool you choose. Customers typically spend another $10,000 – $20,000 on all the pool related items; additional landscaping, decking, furniture, lighting and fencing – the kind of projects you can really sink your teeth into.

Let the Professionals Handle the Paperwork

While working with a backhoe might be your idea of a great weekend, leave that part to the pros (as well as dealing with on-site soil and rock issues). Let the pool company determine county, local and neighborhood restrictions as well as HOA (Homeowners Association) rules, which leaves you to focus on the fun stuff that comes along with a pool.

3 Types of In-Ground Pools

  • Concrete lined – While the most expensive, they are durable and can be updated if you want to expand. Can take from 3-12 weeks to install.
  • Vinyl lined – A preformed flexible liner that comes in a variety of colors and textures and takes 1-3 weeks to install. Sharp objects can puncture them so be sure to choose one at least 1-inch thick.
  • Fiberglass – One-piece units that have a super smooth finish and are stain resistant. They are trucked to the site so delivery will affect installation time. A crane needs to lift the pool into place so make sure the equipment has access.

Choose the Right Pool for Your Location

A professional pool installer will know what type of pool works best in your area. Freezing and thawing causes pool materials to expand and contract. Fiberglass and vinyl pool liners can handle the cold weather better than concrete pools. The professionals will make sure the pool is level and the bottom is smooth, not sitting on rocks that can puncture it.

How Will You Use Your Pool?

If family fun is your goal, skip the deep end and the diving board. Most pool activities take place in the shallow end so why not use a third of your pool? Want to swim laps? Cut down on the overall size and install swim jets for resistance. Knowing how you’ll use the pool will determine the right one for you.

The Best DIY Pool Related Projects

  • Fencing – Safety laws require owners to install a fence at least 4 feet high with self-closing/latching gates around a pool.
  • A deck or patio – You will need a place for everyone to gather.
  • Outdoor lighting and outlets – Consider adding a sound system.
  • Landscaping – Add new pathways, sod and plants when construction is finished.
  • Storage for pool equipment and accessories – You need somewhere to store pool supplies and toys, especially in the off season.
  • A whirlpool or sauna – A smaller undertaking than installing a pool but still something your family would enjoy.
  • Add shade – Install an awning over your patio or deck.
  • Maintenance – Rather than sign on for monthly service, you can adjust the chemicals yourself.

A New Pool Provides Plenty of Quality Family Time

Pools may be a big investment and require regular upkeep, but they can also add plenty of quality time with your family and friends. Do your research and decide what kind of pool works for you. Let a professional handle the hard stuff, while you take care of everything else. Before you know it, you will be chillin’ poolside!

Expert Advice

Is your new pool lacking in the entertainment area? Learn How to Construct a Poolside Bar for a DIY project that is sure to get the party started. From bobcats and backhoes to trenchers and plate compactors, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next summertime project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Stones, Wood & Wire Make 1 Indestructible Outdoor Table

gabion wire mesh outdoor tableWant a durable outdoor table and bench set that can stand up to all kinds of punishment, from family to the weather? Consider building one with a gabion wire mesh kit. They are easy to assemble, virtually indestructible and add a touch of “industrial chic” to any outdoor décor.

Versatility and Ease Earn Wire Cages a Big Thumbs Up!

“Gabion” comes from the Italian word “gabbione” meaning ‘big cage’ and that is exactly what these wire containers are. Used in construction and landscaping, it is a box made from wire mesh that acts as a support or building block, which is filled with stones, concrete or dirt. DIYers are building patio benches, planters and even water features out of these versatile containers.

Pre-Cut Kits Make Building a Breeze

You can use rolled wire mesh to build a Gabion cage, although using ready-cut kits is so much easier. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are generally constructed out of 3/16th-inch gauge wire. Some are available with a PVC coating so you won’t need to seal them.

Fab Re-Purpose for Old Lumber

Determine the size of your table and where you want to place it. Once your stones are added, moving it will be difficult. Decide on the materials to use for the table top and bench seats. Used lumber, railway ties, pallets and even stone are all options.

Materials & Tools Needed

  • (4) small rectangular Gabion wire kits for bench supports
  • (2) large rectangular Gabion wire kits for table supports
  • reclaimed wood for table top and bench seats
  • (6) small 1” x 2” boards to fasten table and bench tops onto
  • filler material – pebbles, stones or recycled glass
  • angle grinder and safety goggles
  • circular saw
  • pliers

Right Size Supports Make a Sturdy Table or Bench

Select the size kits that will best fit your design and will support the maximum weight expected.

The pre-cut sides of the kit are assembled using the wire spirals provided. After wrapping the wire through the corners bend the ends back with pliers. Use an angled grinder to cut the cage down to the height you want and to trim off any unwanted sharp edges.

Construct a Gabion Table & Benches in 6 Easy Steps

  • Cut wood – Use a circular saw to cut reclaimed wood for table top and benches to the length you desire. Cut 1” x 2” cross supports with 45-degree on ends.
  • Assemble – Join table and bench tops to the cross supports.
  • Brace box – Attach a wire from one side to the other (6” down from top) to help the box retain its shape when rocks are added.
  • Fill cage – Adding a lightweight object or cheaper fill material in the center of the container will cut down on the amount of high grade stones you will need.
  • Add tops to the support pillars – The cross supports should fit snuggly inside bin. Adjust rocks to create a level surface.
  • Paint or stain table top and benches – Depending on the materials used you may want to coat the boards in polyurethane to protect it from the weather.

Endless Choices for Fill Material

If you want a densely packed cage, combine smaller pebbles with larger stones to fill in gaps. Another option is to use logs to line the visible sides and fill the center with cheaper gravel. A chic choice is adding a clear plastic or Plexiglas container inside the cage, lining the outside with sea glass, then filling the rest with sand. The choices are endless.

See What Gabion Cages Can Do for Your Yard

Once you see what you can do with Gabion wire cages, you’ll be ready to tackle bigger and better DIY projects. Why stop with a table? Why not terrace the back yard? Move over Caesar, today you conquered the patio, tomorrow you party!

Expert Advice

Looking for a companion piece to go along with your new table? Our blog, A DIY Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long, has easy tips on building a seating area out of concrete blocks.

From circular saws and angled grinders to paint sprayers and wheel barrows, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Build Your Own American Flag Cornhole Set in 10 Steps

DIY American Flag Cornhole SetAlready making plans for the 4th of July? Well, we’ve got the perfect DIY project that is sure to get your family and guests in the patriotic spirit. Build a stars and stripes cornhole game set! The fun will last long past Independence Day.

This is No Bean Bag Toss!

The dimensions of a cornhole board, according to the American Cornhole Association, should be a 48-inch by 24-inch rectangular shape that is inclined 12 inches off the ground at one end. All you need are the following materials:

  • (4) 2” x 4” x 8’ boards
  • (2) 2’ x 4’ plywood panels (1/2” thickness)
  • (4) 3/8” carriage bolts
  • (4) 3/8” washers
  • (4) 3/8” wing nuts
  • 5” wood screws
  • 5” wood screws

Find Your Favorite Design

Decide on the patriotic decoration for the front. Stripes can be done with painter’s tape and you paint the stars freehand. Research designs on the internet and print your favorite onto stencil plastic or check with your local sign company to see if they can make the stencils for you.

10 Easy Steps to Building an American Flag Cornhole Set

  1. Cut the wood – use a circular saw to cut the pieces for the frame, face and legs.
  2. Construct the frame – join the sides and end segments together with 2.5-inch wood screws. Pre-drill holes to avoid splitting.
  3. Attach face to frame – apply wood glue to the frame, then add the face. Screw the board to the frame. When dry, fill screw holes with wood filler.
  4. Drill hole for opening – measure 9 inches from top and 12 inches from sides to find center. Cut out a 6-inch diameter hole with a jig saw or a 6-inch hole drill bit.
  5. Round one end of legs – mark 1.75 inches from end of each leg and draw a circle across the end of the board. Use jig saw to round it off.
  6. Drill holes /Attach legs – create holes for carriage bolts to secure legs to inside of frame. The rounded end goes at top and bottom of the frame. Legs should fold up underneath. Sand rounded end if they do not move freely.
  7. Sand – use an orbital sander to smooth the top, sides and inside of hole to prevent splintering and cracking.
  8. Paint – prime the board white on the top and sides. Two coats will give you a good solid white for the stripes (paint the legs if you wish).
  9. Tape or stencil flag pattern – use painter’s tape to mark the stripes and a stencil for the stars. Fill in using a high gloss latex paint.
  10. Seal it – after the design dries, add a polyurethane coating to protect it.

Use the Right Tools

You can use a paint sprayer to apply the primer and the sealant. Depending on your design, you may need to use a brush to complete your flag. The board face should be smooth but not slick. Use fine sand paper to smooth in-between the polyurethane coatings to get rid of rough patches. Allow 24 hours to dry.

Show Your True Colors This Fourth!

The materials listed above will produce a complete game set with two boards. You can make your own bags to toss or buy them online. Show your true colors this Fourth of July with a very patriotic cornhole game. Easy to build and fun to play, it is a great summer time distraction. Just don’t forget to mind the burgers on the grill!

Expert Advice

Want to throw a spectacular Fourth of July BBQ but don’t know where to start? Check out our blog, 3 Things to Help Pull Off Your First Outdoor Barbecue of the Season to get your home ready to entertain guests. From circular saws and drills to paint sprayers and sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you tackle your next fun backyard project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Not Sure What DIY Project to Do Next? Ask a Professional

realtor tips for home improvementsTrying to decide which home improvement project to tackle next? When in doubt, ask people in the know. A professional realtor, interior designer or home inspector can steer you in the right direction on DIY projects that will add more value to your home.

How Professionals Show You the Way

Want to know how much money to spend on renovating your house? A realtor can help you decide on projects that will bring in buyers. An interior designer can advise you on the latest trends and colors to use while a home inspector will flag potential problems for you, like leaks, electrical issues, termite damage and building code violations. These professionals can help you separate what is an important improvement from a personal preference.

Focus Your Efforts on these 7 Areas:

  • Curb appeal – Sprucing up the landscape and front entry boosts the value of your home. Some of the ways you can do this are to:
    • clean up the grounds, edge and prune bushes
    • plant new flowers and shrubs for color
    • update lawn furniture, especially on porches
    • replace an old doormat
    • paint or re-stain the front door
  • Floors – Dirty old carpets are a turn off to buyers and are bothersome for allergy sufferers. Consider replacing it with engineered hardwoods or laminate. At the very least, have your carpets cleaned professionally.
  • Windows and Doors – Energy efficient windows and doors will help cut your power bills and provide a big selling point when you do decide to sell.
  • Paint – This is a great way to freshen up your entire house. Realtors will encourage you to use neutral colors to help buyers envision how their furniture and artwork will fit in the space.
  • Clean up – If you aren’t going to paint them, then scrub your walls. Make sure there are no dings or scuff marks. Don’t forget to clean the window blinds, baseboards and trim.
  • Cabinets – Even if you aren’t selling right now, declutter. It will save you time and effort, especially when it comes time to pack and move:
    • Add drawer and cabinet organizers
    • Fix loose drawers and hardware
    • Dust and clean out drawers and cabinets, especially in bathroom
    • Wipe down the outside of kitchen cabinets to remove grease from cooking
    • Paint or re-stain
  • Lighting – Like fashion, lighting fixtures go out of style. Update them and use new energy efficient bulbs. Natural light sells a house so consider installing a skylight or sun tube in dark, small rooms.

Small Fixes Bring Big Returns

You don’t have to take on a big renovation. Small do-it-yourself projects can make a big impact on the value of your home so don’t discount them. Just changing out an old vanity and the sink fixtures can revive the look of a bathroom. Focus your efforts on projects that will boost your home’s selling potential while adding to your family’s enjoyment. So ask a professional for their opinion, you’ll be glad you did.

Expert Advice

A fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive way to liven up any home – inside or out. Check out our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls for the helpful hints you need to get started. From floor sanders and drills to paint sprayers and carpet cleaners, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next home improvement job. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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8 DIY Projects That Boost the Value of Your Home

diy home improvement projectsThinking of selling your home or just wanting to update your surroundings? Before you start an expensive kitchen remodel, consider how a few DIY projects could not only add value to your home, they can make your house more appealing to potential buyers.

Home Improvements Increase Real Estate Value

First, make a list of all the improvements you would like to accomplish. Talk with or a realtor or an interior designer for ideas on how to enhance your home’s appeal. Keep renovations in line with the sales value of your home and neighborhood. Your goal is to get a good return on your investment.

Fix Essentials First

Buyers typically look for existing houses where the basics like the roof, foundation and plumbing are in good shape. A remodeled kitchen cannot make up for a leaky roof; however, replacing a worn out roof can return as much as 80 percent of its cost at resale.

8 DIY Projects That Boost the Value of Your Home

  • First impressions – The front entryway is your first an opportunity to make a good impression. A freshly painted door, an awning and a working doorbell go a long way.
  • Address the basics – Add insulation, repair leaks, clean windows, rugs and wood floors. In addition, have the furnace and septic tank (if applicable) inspected.
  • Let in the light – Dark rooms are uninviting. Add new light fixtures and consider a sun tube or skylight to bring in natural light.
  • Improve the landscape – Curb appeal gets buyers in the door. Unkempt bushes and trees obstruct views. Mow the lawn, prune and plant shade trees and drought tolerant plants.
  • Go green – Use energy efficient appliances if replacements are needed.
  • Don’t forget your floors – Repair cracked tiles and squeaky floor boards. If you do replace the floors, consider engineered hardwoods or tile as an allergy free alternatives.
  • Paint – Neutral wall colors help buyers visualize their belongings in a room.
  • Declutter – Purge and organize clutter to help rooms look larger.

Add More Space for a Future Pay Off

If you’re simply looking to make improvements that will pay off down the road, consider building an addition. Every 1,000 feet increase of space can boost the sales price as much as 30 percent, especially when you keep the total square footage in line with the houses available in your neighborhood.

Quick and Easy Bathroom Fixes

Renovations don’t have to be overwhelming. Tackle one room at a time. If you can’t afford a major bathroom redesign, try some of these easy repairs:

  • Clean the grout
  • Apply fresh caulk
  • Replace the faucets
  • Add a new toilet seat
  • Update the vanity
  • Install a low flush toilet

Your DIY Efforts Will Show Big Results

Home improvements can help sell your home faster as well as make your life more enjoyable. Come up with a game plan, do your research and go for it. Take things one step at a time and soon your efforts will show big results.

Expert Advice

Still not sure what DIY project to start first? Our blog, Check These 10 Indoor and Outdoor Improvements Off Your Spring Checklist has helpful tips to get your house in awesome shape.

From circular saws and drills to paint sprayers and pressure washers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next home improvement job. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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10 Steps to Cool Savings on Energy Costs

cut energy costs this summerWhat’s worse, the scorching summer heat or the burn you feel when you open the power bill? This year, don’t let high temperatures get you hot under the collar. A few simple DIY changes around your home will help you beat the heat and save some cool cash.

Take Steps to Lower Your Power Bill

Besides hanging a huge beach umbrella over your house all summer, what can you do to lower energy costs? By taking some of these simple steps, you will not only lower your power bill during the summer but all year long.

10 Steps to Cut Energy Costs During the Summer

  • Unplug your devices – Don’t just turn TVs and other appliances off, unplug them. They continue to drain power even when off. Invest in a smart strip which shuts off the electricity directed to each item.
  • Use ceiling fans – Fans circulate the air in a room and keep you cool. Set the thermostat at a higher temp and turn the fans on in the room you are occupying.
  • Close doors and vents – When rooms are not in use (like your guest rooms), shut them off and close off air vents to reduce the square footage your AC has to cool.
  • Add insulation – Sealing air leaks in walls, the attic and around pipes will cut down on energy loss. Blow more insulation into your attic.
  • Turn off lights – Don’t leave lights on in rooms you are no longer in.
  • Have the A/C inspected – Keep your system running efficiently and have your duct work checked for leaks. Dirty air filters make your unit work harder so change them regularly.
  • Install a programmable thermostat – These turn your AC down or off while you aren’t home.
  • Dry clothes outside – Take advantage of the summer heat and hang your clothes on a line or rack to dry. Dryers (along with refrigerators) are the biggest drain on your home’s energy.
  • Plant some shade – Trees and shrubs can help lower the heat on the outside of your home. Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves in fall) can offer shade during the summer but allow light to warm the house in the winter.
  • Turn off the oven – Plan meals that don’t involve heating the oven. Try using a toaster oven for warming and browning or a microwave … or grill outside!

Raise the Temperature and Start Saving

If you’re looking for even more cost savings, start setting your thermostat at a higher temperature. For every three degrees you raise it you can save 20% on your power bill. A good rule of thumb is to keep your thermostat set at 75 degrees or higher and use ceiling fans. A programmable thermostat will allow you to keep the A/C set at a higher temperature during the day and a lower one during the evenings when you are home.

Protect Your Home from UV Heat and Damage

Install UV film on windows that get substantial amounts of direct sun. It will reflect the heat back from the glass while allowing the light to come in. It is also good for keeping the sun from damaging expensive wooden doors and entry ways.

Roof Color Can Affect Its Temperature

If you are considering replacing your roof, look into a “cool roof”. The material these roofs are made of help reflect the heat and will keep the attic cooler. Roof color is also important. In warmer climates a lighter roof will help deflect heat while darker ones will hold heat.

Stay Cool with Big Savings

Making a few DIY changes around your home will lower your energy costs and your blood pressure. Stay cool this summer and use the money you saved on your power bill toward your next home project.

Expert Advice

Trying to get that power bill under control? Our blog, Find Air Leaks in Your House and Plug ‘Em Up Fast, will help you determine where they are in your home and how to tackle them.

From a ladder and a drill to an insulation vacuum and a blower, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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4 Steps to Renew an Aging Concrete Driveway

diy concrete driveway repairYou’ve been working really hard on your home’s curb appeal and there’s one thing that has you stumped – the driveway. Do you repair the cracks or bite the bullet and replace the whole driveway? It’s a quandary facing many homeowners today. Let’s look at your options.

Age Matters When It Comes to Concrete

A driveway puts up with a lot, from the weight of the family cars to harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, age does matter when it comes to driveways. Concrete surfaces have a life span of 20-25 years before the materials just give out.

Take a Real Look at Your Driveway

Take a close look at the condition of your concrete. Cracks less than a quarter of an inch wide are usually signs of expansion and contraction due to weather. Cracks larger than a quarter inch may be due to tree roots or water erosion underneath. Potholes are normally a sign that the concrete is deteriorating to the point where it needs to be replaced.

What You Need to Repair Your Concrete Surfaces

  • Cement resurfacing mixture – A fast drying polymer based coating that covers cracks.
  • Long-handle squeegee – To apply resurfacing material and work into cracks.
  • Duct tape – Tape off expansion joints to avoid filling them in with resurfacing solution.
  • Chisel – To cut debris from cracks.
  • Wire brush – Helps dislodge broken concrete.
  • Concrete sealer – Fills and expands in small cracks.
  • Trowel – Works sealants into cracks and smooths surface.
  • Sand – To fill in deep cracks first before applying sealant.
  • Water sealer – Helps waterproof your concrete.

Power Wash Your Driveway

Once you determine the condition of the concrete, power wash your driveway. Use cleaners and scrub brushes to remove motor oil, dirt and stains. A clean surface allows sealants to adhere and fill in cracks fully. Let the concrete dry full before using sealants.

Repair Your Concrete Driveway in 4 Steps

Step 1 – Fill cracks and potholes. Use a trowel to compress concrete caulk or sealer into cracks.

Step 2 – Protect yourself. Many products have harsh chemicals and fumes, so wear gloves and a mask.

Step 3 – Let it cure. It may be 48 hours before you can park cars on it. Read your product instructions for recommendations.

Step 4 – Seal it. After your repairs have dried, protect your concrete with water sealant.

Renew by Resurfacing

Resurfacing is an economical way to renew your concrete at a fraction of the cost of replacing it. The liquid compound dries quickly (in about 30 minutes) so work fast with a squeegee to smooth it across the concrete. Tape off your expansion joints so they aren’t filled. For a non-skid surface, use an old broom to brush across the mixture, giving it texture.

So Many Choices

Resurfacing allows you to choose different finishes (glossy or dull), colors and patterns. Due to the quick drying time, test a small area until you get the look you want. This process is not a permanent fix and will need to be re-done every two to three years.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

If you are trying to sell your home, a cracked driveway is going to raise a red flag for buyers. Consider resurfacing prior to putting your house on the market. It is amazing what a fresh, new driveway can do for your curb appeal.

Keep Your Driveway Looking Good for Years

Replacing a driveway can be a big expense but thankfully one that you only have to do once every 20 years, give or take. Repairing cracks as you find them will help keep your drive looking good for years to come.

Expert Advice

From concrete mixers and trowel machines to pressure washers and grout pumps, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY home improvement project. Want more information on repairing a driveway? Our blog, The 7 Step Process to Restore Your Cracked and Eroded Driveways will help. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Featured Products, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | 1 Comment

DIY Pergola – Just What Your Patio has been Missing

outdoor backyard pergolaWant to add some architectural interest to your deck or yard? Add a pergola. Often called an arbor or trellis, these canopy-like structures will provide shade to an otherwise fully exposed area, among other advantages. Building one is an easy DIY project that requires an extra set of hands. Ready to raise the roof on your new pergola?

A Structure with a Purpose

What is the function of your pergola? Is it to provide a quiet secluded oasis for you in the garden or to act as a privacy screen for your outdoor dining area? Will it be free-standing or attached to the house? These are some of the considerations that will affect your design.

5 Things to Consider When Designing Your Pergola

  1. Style of your home – Whether French country or contemporary, Tuscan villa or mid-century modern, keeping your pergola design in the same style as your home gives you cohesive curb appeal.
  2. Ambiance – What kind of experience are you trying to create? Romantic, rustic, relaxing?
  3. Play up your property’s best features – Use the view you’ll see from under your canopy (river, stream, skyline, garden, etc.) to locate the pergola accordingly.
  4. Privacy – Adding additional lattice screens will offer seclusion.
  5. Think outside the box – Pergolas are often square or rectangle, although they can be round, octagonal or multi-leveled. Get creative.

Protect Your Pergola from the Elements

A pergola, like a deck, will need to be protected from the elements. Decide on the amount of maintenance you want to do on a yearly basis when selecting your materials. If you want to add lights or a ceiling fan, be sure to account for the added weight your structure will have to support. Electrical wiring will also need to be installed and hidden from view.

Materials to Use for a Pergola

  • Pressure treated wood – The least expensive option and can last a long time with weatherproofing.
  • Cedar – Can be costly but its naturally beauty is hard to beat.
  • Brick – Build the support pillars with brick and attach beams across the top for a sturdy structure.
  • Natural stones – Creates a rustic feel, especially when including a fireplace.
  • Wrought iron – Classic arched metal offers superior support for large plant coverings like roses or material such as canvas.

A Solid Foundation is Key

Whether you are adding a pergola canopy to a concrete patio or building a stand-alone structure, make sure your foundation isn’t going to shift. Use 6×6 posts to give you solid support. Always use stainless steel nuts, bolts and brackets that won’t corrode and give way.

To Build a Free-standing Pergola:

  1. Bury the support poles – Dig down at least 24-48 inches.
  2. Pack the dirt – Tamp it down firmly or pour concrete to stabilize the supports. Check posts to see if they are plumb.
  3. Cut pillars to same height.
  4. Place crossbeams on top – You’ll need help from those two extra hands for this stage.
  5. Cut lap joints – These interlocking notches connect posts and crossbeams. (Use stainless steel brackets if you prefer).
  6. Add optional lattice panels – Put these down the sides of the structure for privacy.
  7. Stain or paint – Protecting the wood will help it last longer.

Time to Decorate

After your pergola is built, decorate with climbing plants that may look delicate at first, but they can become heavy over time. Clematis, Passion flower, Wisteria, grape vines and of course, climbing roses are all good choices. Other decorations include a canvas ribbon awning or flowing outdoor curtains, which add sun protection and a bit of color, too.

Wow Factor

A pergola can add drama to a blah patio or create a quiet retreat in your garden. It is simple to build and will give your landscape the added “wow” factor it may have been missing. Beware, pergolas are like peanuts, you can’t stop at just one. Happy building!

Expert Advice

From jigsaws and hammer drills to post hole diggers and chop saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY building project. Want more ideas on how to spice up your patio or deck? Learn how to Boost Outdoor Entertaining Potential with New Design Elements in our recent blog. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | 1 Comment

A Message to the Beginner of Herb Gardening

Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington, USADear, Runyon Equipment Rental: Well, well, well! I am not a gardener! My husband has had a vegetable garden for years and does the flower garden for us. I want to try my hand with an herb garden. I stumbled across your website and liked what I saw. I have rosemary in the front of my house and mint on the side. You gave some great ideas on the fragrances and colors. Any suggestion that you can give to get this beginner started would be great! Thank you! – Darlene, Hatfield, PA

Dear, Darlene: First of all, since you are a beginner, I recommend you purchase herbs at Lowe’s and keep your receipt! If the plant dies, you are able to receive a new one as long as you bring in your receipt with the dead plant. This policy was a lifesaver when I first began growing my own herbs. Bonnie plants come in a pot that you can plant in the ground. I think they are the best to buy, but I always cut the plant out of the pot prior to planting.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Avoid planting mint or lemongrass in the ground since these plants are known to be invasive and will literally overtake your garden. Plant these in containers!
  • Sage is lovely and grows into a beautiful bush, after about 10 years, though it starts to get leggy. Oregano is another perennial that tends to grow large and will need to be trimmed. I have mine in my English Garden surrounding the bird bath.
  • I love lavender too. I love to cook and make my own herbes de provence which is great on pork and chicken. There are many varieties of lavender, which is in the mint family. If you are using for culinary, buy lavandula augustifolia. Use the purple flower for cooking. I plant rosemary and thyme around lavender since they contrast so nicely.
  • Chives, which are a cross between garlic and onion in taste, add beautiful contrast because of their long green stems. They flower pinkish purple on top. Make sure the stem is not used when adding this herb to food. The texture is tough, and it would be like chewing on a stick. Chives also tend to be spreaders, so I have mine cornered with the patio and paver blocks.

All the above come back year after year and grow with great scent and with vibrant color. All herbs need a lot of sunlight, so  ensure these are planted in areas that receive sufficient sun. I always plant around Mother’s Day, which is right around the corner! Some words of advice – make your hole twice the size of your pot, remove the plant from the pot gently, and rub around the bottom and the sides so the roots are loosened, and then plant in such a position that their little heads poke out of the ground. I use top soil to fill in the hole surrounding the plant.

herbsThe next herbs are annuals. Unfortunately, they wither away at the end of the summer into fall. I always buy dill, basil, and Italian parsley. For eating basil, you will want to pinch off the tops so they won’t flower and make the leaf bitter.  In the summer, you have to pinch daily.

When picking them, grab from the top since it encourages growth. Pick after the dew has dried. I use juice size glasses, filled with water and put them in the fridge in separate glasses. They last about a week or two as readily available ingredients to flavor your cooking.

When drying herbs for winter’s use, I grab my colander and cut what I want, rinse from the hose and rubber band the stems together and hang upside down.  It takes about a week for them to dry out, remove the leaves from the stem over wax paper and dryingherbsthrow into the coffee mill.  I use little box tins from Michael’s and give as gifts too.

Plant citronella and lavender near your patio or seating areas since they are a known mosquito repellent. Herbs are super easy to grow – just water in the morning with a watering can or pump and be sure to water the dirt, not the plant. Feel the dirt, and if it’s not moist – the plant needs water. You’ll want pots that have a hole in the bottom and water until a small stream comes through. When your herbs are in the ground, again, just water the dirt.

Hopefully, you will have a wonderful herb garden that makes you happy like mine does for me. The food tastes so much better with fresh herbs!

From aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers , our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on gardening? Check out our infographic on growing vegetables for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Light It Up – Add a DIY Bonfire to Your Backyard

fireThere is nothing better than a roaring fire on a cool spring evening. By adding a fire pit or heater you will extend the time you use your outdoor space for entertaining. Stop waiting for warmer weather! Building a fire pit is a simple, inexpensive project and one hot idea to add value to your home.

Let There Be Fire!

First, ask yourself a few questions about how you plan to use your fire pit or heater?

  • Do I want a heat source or ambience? – To heat a deck, a propane heater works well. If you want to roast marshmallows, nothing beats an open flame.
  • Do I want to burn wood or gas? – Consider the cost of logs and propane tanks when trying to decide. Electric heaters are also an option.
  • How much maintenance do I want? You will have to clean out ash and debris from a wood burning fire pit. Gas heaters will just need tanks replaced.

Watch Out for Flying Embersbonfire snacks

Got your heart set on an open flame fire pit? Constructing one is an easy weekend project. You can make yours as simple or elaborate as you wish.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check local ordinances – Do they allow open fire pits in your area?
  • Locate your pit away from trees and buildings – Flying embers can ignite roofs and mulch.
  • Use fireproof materials – If you decide to use mortar make sure it is for use on fireplaces.
  • Scout out the desired location – Is it level and dry? Determine if wind direction will blow smoke back toward house. Too much wind will make it hard to keep your fire going.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy – A bucket of water will work too.
  • Keep the area around pit clear – If building the pit on bare ground, lay gravel around it and make sure there is no vegetation or roots to burn.

Easy to Build, Easy to Enjoy

Above ground fire pits are easy to build. First determine the materials you want to use (concrete pavers, fire bricks, stones). You can dry fit the blocks or use mortar. Consider buying a removable metal fire pit bowl for easy clean-ups of ash. Also a wire cover will help catch flying embers.

Steps for Building a Fire Pit:

  • Use the diameter of the wire cover to determine the outline of your pit.
  • Lay the first layer of blocks around the outside edge of the cover.
  • Remove the cover and continue building layers up to desired height – Stagger blocks.
  • Use a level as you go.
  • Install a fire pit bowl – It can lift out and make clean-ups easier.
  • Install grate – To allow air to get to the logs.
  • Place your logs inside, light, and enjoy

Fire Bowls – Keep it Moving

Want something a little less permanent? Portable fire bowls are an inexpensive way to dress up your patio and can be moved into storage over the winter months. Be sure to cover them when not in use to help prevent rust.

Relax with a Blazing Fire

Watching a blazing fire under the stars is a great way to relax. Don’t let the crisp evenings of spring and fall keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Move the party outside with a new fire pit, fire bowl or heater. Now it’s time to add another log to the fire and get ready for the S’mores. As the caveman once said – “Fire good!”.

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to tampers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want more information on how to build your own fire pit? Check out our previous blog “How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Trash to Treasure – Making a Bucket Table with Storage

What do you do if you need a patio table and it’s just not in the budget to buy one? No problem for a DIY-er like yourself: make one! Repurpose an old metal wash tub into a fabulous outdoor coffee table. We’ll show you how.

Build the Perfect Patio Table

If you don’t have an old metal tub laying around, you can find them at farm supply stores and hardware stores. Round or oblong, these tubs are usually low enough to make the perfect table or even a foot stool. Smaller buckets make great side tables or ottomans.

What You’ll Needdiy-patio-coffee-table-from-a-bucket.jpg

  • 1/2 – 3/4-inch plywood
  • 2 x 6 inch boards
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander
  • Liquid nails glue
  • Outdoor silicone caulk
  • Stain and polyurethane protectant

Need Extra Storage? This Table Has It

Decide how large you want the table top to be. A good size is three inches wider than the diameter of the bucket. The inside of the tub makes great storage space, so consider whether you want to permanently attach the table top to the bucket or build it so you can lift it off for easy access.

diy-metal-bucket-patio-table.jpg

Make a Bucket Storage Table in 9 Steps

  • Trace the outside diameter of bucket onto the plywood – Mark 3-inches outside of that line for where you will cut.
  • (Optional) Make the top a lid – Draw a second circle and cut 1-inch inside the diameter of the circle.
  • Cut the circles with the jigsaw.
  • Glue the smaller circle onto the larger one – The smaller one will fit inside the bucket and hold the lid in place.
  • Add liquid nails glue to the larger circle – Add the boards to plywood. Allow 24 hours to dry.
  • Cut the boards in the shape of the larger circle.
  • (Optional) Screw the boards to the larger circle – This will keep them from shifting if glue fails.
  • Sand the top and edges of the table top.
  • Stain or paint and coat with a polyurethane protectant.

Keep Your Table from Blowing Around

If you don’t want to use the inside for storage, consider adding sand or a concrete block to give the table weight so it won’t blow around. You can permanently add the table top onto the bucket by flipping the bucket over and applying liquid nails to the edge. Place the plywood on top and allow to dry. Caulk between the plywood and the bucket to protect against moisture.

Extra Seating Optionsbuckset seats

Create an ottoman with a smaller bucket. Glue 2-inch foam padding to a small plywood circle and cover with outdoor fabric. Keep the fabric taunt and staple it on the underside. The covered circle fits inside the opening of the bucket. If you want the ottoman as additional seating, then be sure to place a concrete block inside the bucket to support the covered seat.

Save Money with Repurposed Furniture

Repurposing old items into useful patio furniture is a fun weekend project. It is a great way to save money, while unleashing your inner creative side. So next time the wind blows your patio furniture off the deck, leaving it in tatters, don’t sweat it. Just laugh and head to the garage, surely you have a few extra buckets laying around. Take that wind!

Expert Advice

From jigsaws and drills to sanders and staplers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Want to create more repurposed outdoor furniture? Check out our blog on building a DIY Outdoor Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Refinishing – How to Breathe New Life into an Old Deck

Is your deck looking a little shabby? Is it in need of a makeover? Battling the elements can take a toll on your decking which is why regular maintenance is a must. Refinishing is an easy DIY project that will help extend the life of your outdoor space. After a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of stain, your deck will look like new.

Go Beyond Clean with a Pressure Washer

Remember, you aren’t just cleaning your deck but prepping it for a new coat of stain and protectant. You need to remove as much dirt, grime and old stains as possible. A pressure washer
with a fan nozzle works great for this. Use caution when trying to remove tough stains, the force of the water can gouge wood if focused in one spot too long. So keep it moving!

portland-pressure-washing.jpg

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Deck:

  • Cover your plants with plastic – This will help prevent chemicals from getting on them. Rinse the foliage off afterwards as an added measure.
  • Pressure wash – Use a cleanser that is specially formulated to clean decking materials. This keeps the wood from drying out. The most commonly used cleaners have TSP (Trisodium phosphate) in them but may be too harsh to use around plants.
  • Apply some elbow grease – Instead of trying to get tough stains up with the pressure washer, use a scrub brush.
  • Clean between boards – Use an old broom or brush to loosen debris from cracks and crevices.
  • Scrub railings and overhangs – All decking surfaces should be cleaned and refinished to protect them too.

Look for Needed Repairs

Now that you’ve finished washing the deck, allow it to dry for 24 hours. Use this time to inspect and replace any damaged boards. Look for popped nail heads and hammer them back in place.

Once your deck is completely dry, you can sand down rough spots and get ready for the stain.

There are four basic types of stain finishes:

  •  Clear – No tint or color but serves as a protectant for the wood.
  • Tinted – Wood colored tints allow for a uniform, natural appearance.
  • Semi-transparent – Gives some color but still allows for wood grain to show through.
  • Solid colors – Opaque paints hide the wood grain and provide ample color.

deck_refinish.jpg

Protect Your Deck from the Elements

Some new exterior paints/ stains can actually fill in small cracks and splits. Due to the thickness of these products, you will need a larger amount to cover your deck but multiple coats won’t be necessary. You can also find stains that contain skid resistant materials (like fine grit/sand) for added safety and still remain comfortable on bare feet.

Advice on applying stain to a deck:

  • Use a roller for larger areas – Paint brushes are great for railings and recesses.
  • Keep your color uniform – For a large area, mix all of your stain together to keep it consistent. Color may vary slightly from can to can.
  • Paint sprayers can clog – Read the label on the product you are using. Some stains are too thick for sprayers.
  • Avoid overlap marks – Work on a few deck boards at a time and paint lengthwise.
  • Let dry at least 24 hours – Test the surface before putting furniture back out. If it is tacky to the touch, give it more time to dry.

Give Your Deck a Makeover

If you’ve been thinking you need a new deck but can’t afford it, try refinishing first. A perfectly good entertainment space may be hidden beneath all that dirt and grime. All it needs is a little do-it-yourself TLC. Let’s face it, we can all use a little makeover from time to time.

refinished deck.jpeg

Expert Advice

From pressure washers and paint sprayers to sanders and nail guns, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next outdoor DIY project. Looking for additional information on maintaining your deck? Check out our previous blog “Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps” for more helpful tips. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Featured Products, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New Deck!

Get Decked Out for Entertaining with a New DeckDetatched

 Do you never have enough room to entertain family and friends? Consider adding a new deck. Having the extra space to cook out or enjoy a quiet summer evening is one reason why building a deck is such a popular DIY project. It adds to the beauty of your home and increases the overall value of your property.

Deck Materials – Maintenance Free versus Natural Beauty

With so many materials to choose from, the decision really comes down to what is important to you – maintenance free, natural beauty, or cost? Budget and personal preference are what usually determines the materials used. Do your research though. Some wood materials are beautiful but dense and difficult to drill. You will need special equipment.

Here are five of the most commonly used decking materials:

  • Pressured treated lumber – The most popular, this material is inexpensive, pest resistant, and easy to install. It can split and crack if not treated every 1-2 years. Yearly power washing is recommended.
  • Redwood and cedar – More expensive than pressure treated lumber, they resist decay and pests. To keep their natural color, a preservative will need to be applied every 2-3 years. Left untreated, the wood turns a soft shade of gray.
  • Tropical woods – These exotic materials (massaranduba, ipe, and tigerwood) are durable and beautiful but pricey. They are dense hardwoods which makes them difficult to cut and drill so special installation is required. They also do not accept stains well.
  • Composite – This material is made from wood fibers and recycled plastics. Though more expensive than pressure treated lumber, it comes in a variety of colors, is weather and stain resistant, and very low maintenance. Prone to mold and mildew, a yearly power wash is a must.
  • Plastic – Since it contains no wood, this material is virtually maintenance free. It does not have the look of real wood but it also doesn’t have the upkeep.

Who Says a Deck Has to be Square?

Think outside the box, don’t limit your design. No one said you had to build a square deck. Opt for a multi-leveled deck that flow out from your home and into your garden. Consider wrapping the deck around your house to allow other rooms to open out onto your new space.

Plan Wisely and Keep Your Guests Safe

Whatever your design, remember to check local building codes. Depending on the size of your deck, you may need to apply for a building permit. If you plan to entertain a large number of people on your deck, invest in additional supports and make sure the substructure can handle the excess weight. Keep your guests safe.

Don’t Skimp on Materials That Matter

Will your deck be attached to the house or freestanding? To build the safest, most durable structure possible, avoid the temptation to skimp on fasteners, nails or screws. Buy a high quality, non-corrosive material like stainless steel. Inferior screws and nails will corrode, discolor and shorten the life of your deck.

Things to remember when building your deck:

  • Wood materials have imperfections – Sort through your lumber, choosing the best boards for highly visible areas. Keep pieces with defects for out of the way sections.
  • Create a solid base for your deck – Set your foundation posts in concrete and allow them to set before continuing your construction.
  • Make sure your deck is level – If attaching a deck to your house, make sure the ledger or board you secure to the outside wall is securely fastened and level.
  • Space your boards – Lay boards 1/8” apart to allow for expansion and contraction.
  • Protect it – Applying a weather-proofing finish will guard your wood against the elements and keep it looking great.

Company’s Coming – Time to Get Decked Out

Once you have your deck completed, go wild and decorate! Don’t be afraid of adding color. Deck stains now come in a wide assortment of colors. Add a pergola for some additional shade, install outdoor speakers or hang flower boxes from the railings. The sky is the limit so get out there and fire up that grill. Your company is coming.

deck

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to augers and concrete mixers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY building project. A new deck needs some pizzazz! Learn how to add decorative outdoor lighting in our previous blog “Outdoor Refreshers – Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting”. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

glossy deck

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We’ve Got the 4-1-1 on the War Against Weeds

dandelionsStop Weeds Before They Start

It’s springtime and those pesky weeds have been lying dormant all winter just waiting to burst forth. Never fear, we have the 4-1-1 on how to cut them off at the start; saving you time and money. Effective weed control is easier than you think.

Weed Worries Got You Down?

Weeds are sneaky little buggers. They sleep all winter long and pop their heads above ground at the first sign of warm weather. Weed seeds are in virtually everything from potting soil to grass seed. In fact, the more you disturb the soil the more seeds you are exposing to moisture and sunlight needed for germination. So what are you to do?

Efficiently controlling weed growth is possible when you follow these 8 simple rules:

  • Minimize disturbing the soil – When maintaining your garden avoid digging or hoeing below the top 1-2 inches of dirt to limit the amount of seeds exposed. When planting be sure to cover the freshly turned soil with thick layer of mulch.
  • Mulch – Keep the seeds in the dark! Cover areas around plants with at least 2 inches of mulch. Organic mulches contain weed eating crickets and beetles that devour seeds.
  • Make weeding easy – The old saying “pull when wet, hoe when dry” still applies. Pulling weeds in the early morning when the ground is damp will make the job go faster.
  • Deadhead – This practice isn’t just for flowering plants. By pulling the tops off weeds you are eliminating the seed pods that could drop and germinate.
  • Limit gaps between plantings – Too much space encourages weeds to grow. Consider mass plantings or tightly spaced beds to leave no room for weeds to appear.
  • Keep your tools sharp – Dull hoes can spread weed seeds instead of eliminating them. You want to slice through the weed’s root to kill it.
  • Water plants, not weeds – Burying your soaker hose beneath mulch can reduce seed germination by 50 -70 percent because your plant is building strong roots and crowding out the weeds.
  • Maintain a healthy soil – Fresh infusions of organic matter or compost into the soil will help keep it healthy and keep seeds from sprouting.

Weeds are Everywhere!

Isn’t it amazing just how invasive weeds can be? These annoying sprouts are everywhere. They even find their way up through the cracks in driveways, walks and patios. Yes, you can walk around repeatedly spraying them with a toxic weed killer or try one of these simple methods:

  • Self-leveling sealant – Fill cracks in concrete with this expanding filler to block weeds. Sealing cracks will extend the life of your surface.weeds.jpg
  • White vinegar, salt and dish soap – Combine these with water and spray it on weeds shooting up through cracks. It will cause them to wilt.
  • Salt – Spread left-over rock salt on weeds and watch them dry up. Avoid runoff into your grass and garden because salt will totally kill vegetation.
  • Polymeric sand – Used to fill between bricks and pavers, you can also use this to fill concrete cracks. It has a cement-like quality once wet so work it into the cracks and sweep excess away.
  • Burn weeds away – Use a propane powered weed scorcher or handheld blow torch to run the flame over the weeds to shrivel them up. You are not setting them on fire but depriving them of moisture. Be careful in drought stricken areas.

Stop and Smell the Roses for a Change

Weeds are a fact of life but they don’t have to ruin your gardening experience. By taking these simple steps you will cut your weeding workload down to a manageable level and finally have more time to actually stop and smell the roses. pinkroses.jpg

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to weed eaters and bark blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Learn how to improve your garden and flowers with organic compost in our previous blog “10 Good Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin”. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

 

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

[INFOGRAPHIC] Guide to Growing a Vegetable and Fruit Garden in Indiana

Finally, the long-awaited spring season is here, along with its warmer weather, sunshine, and rainy days! With that said, now is the time to start designing and planning for the garden of your dreams. Liven up your outdoor space by creating a garden of beautiful, fragranced flowers. Or perhaps you would like to take that extra step toward self-sufficiency this year and home-grow your produce. Well, if so, you are in luck! We have put together an easy-to-follow beginner’s guide for growing a productive vegetable and fruit garden, and best of all, we have tailored it for the Indiana harvesters. Enjoy local, healthier, home-grown food straight from your backyard by following this simple guide! Please remember that we have a variety of gardening tools for rent and purchase here to help you accomplish any gardening task headed your way– from aerators and lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and tillers – we got you covered!

Infographic_complete

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Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

chandelier bird feederff

Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

Ever wondered what to do with an outdated old chandelier? Renovations often leave us with items we have no clue what to do with. Do you donate them or throw them away? Many times they lay forgotten and unused in the attic, just waiting on a second chance. Give your old chandelier a new lease on life by turning it into an elegant bird feeder.

Add Whimsy and Fun to Your Garden with Yard Art

Yard art can add interest and fill in blank areas of your garden where plants have a tough time growing. Repurposed items like chandeliers add a sense of whimsy and fun to formal gardens and are great conversation pieces.

Express Your Artistic Side

This DIY project is quick, easy and gives you an opportunity to express your artistic side. Here is what you’ll need:chandelier bird feeder

  • An old chandelier
  • Saucers, bowls or cups (one for each arm)
  • Outdoor spray paint
  • Wire cutters
  • Plyers
  • Waterproof glue
  • Plumber’s epoxy putty
  • Ladder
  • “S” hook and chain for hanging

A Stripped Down Chandelier Finds New Life

Start by taking the electrical elements out of the chandelier. Remove the light fixtures and wires.

Next apply waterproof glue to the bottom of a bowl and place one on each arm. Allow the glue to dry overnight before attempting to paint.

Branch Out with Your Paint Choices

Break out of your comfort zone and use bright, fun paint colors (the birds won’t mind). Hang the chandelier from a low tree branch so you can easily cover all sides at once. If you prefer, paint one side, allow time to dry and then flip it over to paint the other side. Paint hides imperfections like excess glue or rough spots. Once dry it is ready to hang from your favorite tree with the “S” hook and chain.

Bling Out Your Birdfeeder

You don’t have to hang your bird feeder from a tree, instead mount it on a painted wooden spindle to create a candelabra feeder or place it on a fence post. Add some “bling” to your chandelier by hanging colored crystals from the arms. Mismatched forks and spoons can act as wind chimes. Set your imagination free and decorate your feeder to reflect your personality.

Re-inventing Old Items is Addicting

Repurposing old items is addicting. Don’t stop with just your birdfeeder. A chandelier can also make a beautiful planter. Substitute terra cotta pots for the bowls and you are ready for planting.

Some other easy DIY garden art projects:

  • Old lamp bases with china platters added on top make unique bird baths.
  • Wheelbarrows make great planters or bird baths.
  • An old sink or bath tub can make convenient raised garden beds.
  • Add bird houses to your chandelier instead of seed bowls.

Turn Trash to Garden Treasures

Reusing old items keeps them out of our landfills and gives you an inexpensive way to add color and creativity to your garden. Get busy and convert some of your would-be trash into outdoor treasures. Your guests will be impressed by the clever, artistic touches in your yard.

Expert Advice

From drills and saws to ladders and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next garden DIY project. Want to make your garden an inviting habitat for wildlife? Find inspiration and helpful tips in our previous blog, “How to Attract Birds and Butterflies for a Livelier Yard”. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Easy Ideas to Use Stepping Stones in the Garden

Amazing-garden-designAre you excited about Spring? We sure are! Like you, we can’t wait to start working on our gardens. Time to get a game plan together and decide which DIY project to start on first.

Why not create a captivating garden path using stepping stones? Simply trail them throughout your landscape and lead visitors on a magical tour.

Secret Gardens, Hidden Treasures

Garden paths are used to draw interest to out-of-the-way sections of a landscape or to highlight features like ponds, trellises, or gazebos. The style of your home and grounds should dictate the location type of path to create – formal or informal.

Keep a few things in mind when installing a new path:

  • Use – Heavy foot traffic will need sturdy materials like stone that won’t break easily.
  • Cost – Come up with a budget and then shop for materials. A lengthy path will require a lot of materials.
  • Shape – Consider curving paths as well as straight-lined walkways, which can reveal your garden as you walk.
  • Mix it up – Combine materials (pavers/concrete or stones/mulch) to add interest. Create contrasting borders or patterns.
  • Sun or Shade – Dark stones absorb heat, which could make them too hot for bare feet. Smooth stones often remain slippery if in damp areas. Lighter colors and textures are neutral and may be your best option.
  • Hard work – Moving pavers, gravel, or stones around is exhausting so recruit volunteers to help or spread the job out of time.

Choosing Materials

Once you’ve decided where you want your path, pick your materials. For formal paths, many choose brick pavers or flagstone. Informal trails will give you more options, from gravel and stepping stones to turf, decomposed granite, or mulch. With budget in mind, make your selection and set your creativity free.

Peaceful Retreat for Guests

Give visitors a secluded niche along your path where they can relax and unwind. Install a decorative garden fence, gazebo, or bench, creating a peaceful retreat. Fragrant flowers planted along the path will add to their enjoyment. Don’t forget to hang some twinkling lights for those moonlit strolls.

Stepping Stones in the Garden

A great way to create a meandering trail through your flower beds is with stepping stones. An informal design works with a wide variety of materials. No matter what type of stones you choose or filler you opt for, the process is generally the same:

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  • Boundaries – Determine the width and length of your path and mark it off.
  • Clear– Remove all grass and debris. Put down landscape material.
  • Level – Put down a layer of sand and level it out.
  • Position – Decide if you want the stones in a random placement or a checkerboard pattern.
  • Press – Stones should be pushed into the sand and leveled.
  • Fill – Add gravel, mulch, or planting soil to grow ground covers like Scotch moss.

Discover the Wonders of Nature

Your wonderful landscape reflects all your hard work and love of gardening. Help others enjoy the fruits of your labor by tying it all together with a relaxing stepping stone path. Lead them on a relaxing journey around your property to discover the wonders Nature has to offer. You’ll surely have a number of repeat guests.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to saws and drills, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY landscape project. Now that you have your garden path planned out, are you ready for Spring planting? Our blog, Get Started on Your Spring Gardening To-do List, may have the ideas you need. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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DIY Outdoor Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long

Everybody’s thinking about how they’re going to furnish their outdoor rooms right now. The sales are everywhere! Why buy expensive furniture when you can create a stylish custom outdoor couch out of concrete blocks and treated lumber? It’s an easy and inexpensive DIY project you can do in an afternoon and enjoy all summer long!

Why Didn’t I Do This Sooner?

If you constantly worry what harsh weather is doing to your new lawn furniture, maybe you should look into more sturdy options. A super cute couch made from concrete blocks and pressure treated boards is virtually maintenance free. This project is so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Here’s what you need:6cdbbc793a01f2b017be8fa2d0ce6a1e

(4) 4 x 4 x 12 pieces of pressure treated wood

(12) Concrete blocks (Pre-painted or natural)

(1) Tube Concrete Adhesive

 Find the Right Design for You

Lay out how you want your couch to look. Move your blocks around until you find a design you like. Build it with or without a back or arms. Consider pre-painting the blocks and the ends of the wood if you want a finished look. Painting before construction is quicker.

6 Steps for Building a Concrete Block Bench:

  • Create two stacks of blocks – Decide how high you want your couch; you may need to bury your first row of blocks into the dirt to lower it to the right height.
  • Row 1 – Stand three blocks on their end, holes to the center.
  • Row 2 – Lay two blocks on their sides, holes to the center.
  • Row 3 – Stand one block on end, holes to the center, to form back.
  • Slide (3) wood poles through the blocks on the second row to form the seat.
  • Slide (1) wood pole through the blocks on the third row to create the back.

Concrete Adhesive Locks Blocks in Place

Once you have found the design you want, disassemble your practice layout and start again. This time apply concrete adhesive in between the layers of blocks to hold them in place. Allow the couch to dry overnight before attempting to sit on it. You can also bond the wood to the concrete if you want to restrict them from moving.

Have Fun Decorating Your Couch9c62cc497eb49cf932099fbfa00726d9

With your concrete couch complete, it’s time to decorate. Add long cushions to the seat and back. Keep them in place by attaching a strip of Velcro to the poles and the pillows. Tying the pads to the wood poles also works. You can decorate as little or as much as you’d like. Apply decorative tiles to the seat and back to give the couch a Mediterranean feel.

Endless Design Possibilities with Concrete Blocks

Place the couch up against a wall or use them as stand-alone pieces. The possibilities are endless. Concrete blocks can be used to build chairs, picnic tables or potting benches. You only have to cut the wood down to size and away you go.

Great Looking and Weather-proof

These inexpensive creations are perfect for any garden. They stand up to harsh weather and look great. No need to worry about expensive furniture any longer. Focus on important things like finding the perfect pillows for your new couch!

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to saws and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY deck or patio project. Want to make something else for your yard? Try building this easy poolside bar featured in our blog, How to Construct a Poolside Bar. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

 

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Boost Outdoor Entertaining Potential with New Design Elements

extraordinary outdoor

Want to improve your home’s outdoor entertaining potential? Consider re-designing your porch or patio. Take advantage of the additional space right outside your door with a few inexpensive DIY touches. Friends and family will clamor for an invite.

Start with a Redesign Plan

Revving up a lackluster porch or patio doesn’t need to be a budget buster. Simple changes can create cozy dining and lounging spaces or much needed privacy. Once you make three basic decisions, you’re well on your way to creating a kick butt game plan for your re-design:

  • Purpose – How do you want your space to function? An outdoor dining area, a relaxing retreat, or a place for kids to play?
  • Budget – How much do you want to spend? There are plenty of DIY projects to help stretch money well spent.
  • Design – Do you want a Mediterranean terrace or a rustic retreat? Your personal design style will determine this.

Expand Entertaining Spaces

If your porch or patio is small, “expand” the space. Start by creating a sitting area on your existing porch and expand outward onto a brick patio or additional deck to form a separate dining space. Have your outdoor living spaces flow into each other like they do inside your home. Incorporate your garden into the design to provide additional conversation areas for your guests.

Easy Maintenance Depends on Choice of Materials

Upkeep should be factored into your design. Keep maintenance needs to a minimum with your choice of materials (composite decking, pressure treated lumber). Clean up and repairs should be the least of your worries. You want a relaxing space where you can enjoy family and friends.

Add Drama to Delightpatio

Sprucing up your existing porch or patio doesn’t require much in the way of expensive construction. You can add new elements in only a weekend. These design ideas will get you thinking of ways to spice things up:

  • Install a snow cone machine – that plugs into an outdoor wall socket and ramps up your kids’ playtime
  • Add a pergola – for a hint of shade and visual interest.
  • Use privacy screens – such as trellises, lattice fences or Asian inspired panels that will keep looky-loos at bay.
  • Hang curtains – to give a luxurious feel to the space and to divide areas.
  • Paint the porch floor – using bright stain colors or paint a pattern for interest.
  • Bring in a vertical garden – with flower boxes mounted on bare outside walls.
  • Add unusual lighting – such as work lighting for the grill, a candle-filled chandelier for a romantic touch or tiki torches for a tropical touch.
  • Install a built-in bench – and add seating plus storage, all in one.
  • Use a two-in-one table – that converts into a fire pit when dining is done.
  • Decorate with bright pillows and cushions – use mildew resistant fabric for easy cleaning and durability.

Make Your Yard into an Inviting Oasis

Your outdoor space is an extension of your home. Envision how you would like your style to flow from the inside all the way to the outside. Avoid blocking inside views by looking out a window or sliding glass door at the porch or patio. With a fresh facelift, your porch or patio can become an inviting oasis for your guests and possibly your favorite room of your home!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to shovels and ladders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next home DIY project. Adding a new patio but not sure how to go about it? Read How to Build a Patio for helpful tips on what tools and materials you will need. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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6 Easy Steps for Installing a Hammock

hammock

Dreaming of tropical vacations? Those lazy warm weather days don’t have to be a figment of your imagination any longer. Install a hammock in your backyard and get ready to relax.

Tropical Splendor in Your Own Backyard

Custom hammocks like the ones made at Pawleys Island Hammock Shop on Pawleys Island, South Carolina conjure images of white sandy beaches and fruity drinks sporting umbrellas. Capture the feel of the tropics right in your own backyard by installing one of these lazy day body slings. No matter which hammock you choose, it’s a simple weekend project with big benefits.

Hammocks Like Peace and Quiet

If you don’t have two trees close enough to hang a hammock, then you will need to install a couple of support posts. To help select a good spot, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What type soil do I have? – The firmer the better to properly install the posts. (You don’t want the leaning tower of Pisa experience when you get in the hammock)
  • How deep of a hole can I dig? – If the ground is full of tree roots or rocks, you might collapse from exhaustion before you dig deep enough to properly plant the posts. Or, you’ll need special equipment.
  • Do I really need that shade? – Some trees drop lots of leaves so you may not want your spot directly under a tree.
  • Where is the most relaxing location? – Avoid the tendency to put the hammock next to a pool or other gathering spots. Look for a secluded area.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, here is what you will need:

  • (2) pressure treated 4×4 posts
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger or an auger attachment
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Screw driver
  • Bag of quick set concrete
  • Gravel

Place Post Holes Properly

Measure the hammock lying flat from ring to ring, then add an additional 24 inches. This will tell you how far apart to position the posts. Dig the holes 8-12 inches in diameter and at least 24 inches deep (30 inches if your soil is sandy or loose).

Hammock Hardware First

Putting the hardware on first before planting the posts in the ground is much easier. Decide how high off the ground you’d like your hammock. Installation instructions should have precise measurements on where to place the hardware. Measuring down from the top of the posts, drill holes and install the hook screws by hand (tighten with a screw driver inserted through the eye to give a better grip).

Now you are ready to install the posts:

  1. Pour 6 inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole.
  2. Mix up your bag of quick set concrete.
  3. Place a post in each hole with hardware facing the opposite pole.
  4. Use a level to make sure the posts are plumb.
  5. Pour the concrete around each post and allow 24 hours to dry.
  6. Attach the hammock to hook screws.

A New Hammock Adds to the Perfect Backyard Oasis

Warmer weather is almost here, and now you are ready for it. Clip in your hammock, close your eyes, picture a peaceful island oasis, and let the rocking lull you to sleep. Sometimes the simplest breaks are the best vacations. Yard work can wait another day!

Expert Advice

From augers and shovels to concrete mixers and drills, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next DIY backyard project. Want to create an even more elaborate backyard retreat? Find your Zen by adding a soothing water feature. Our blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps may inspire you. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Reorganize Your Home Office and Make Tax Time a Breeze

Every year at tax time you promise to be better organized. We’re here to help you make that resolution a reality. Getting ready for the tax deadline (April 18 this year) isn’t about rounding up receipts and files. It’s about embracing a different way to approach the piles of paperwork we all have. Creating a well-organized home office is the first step in eliminating the clutter from our lives.office area

Think about how your office or work space is laid out. Do you have enough room to work on your desk? Can you easily find documents and files? Decluttering your office is the best way to get organized. Purge your papers by dividing them into three categories:

Shred, File or Review

  • Items to Shred – Junk mail or papers containing personal info.
  • Items to File – Papers to keep for taxes or that relate to your house or car.
  • Items to Review – Papers that need a response like bills to be paid.

Establish Work Zones

Once you get your papers under control, think about how you use your office. Often the layout can promote clutter build-up as soon as it is cleared. Establish work zones – desk, files, supplies, and electronics. Give items a specific place where they are kept.

Improve Your Work Flow with DIY Projects

Being the handy DIYer that you are, here are a few ideas that might improve your work flow and free up space:

  • Clear your desk – Keep only what you use regularly on it.
  • Box it up – Storage boxes and stackable trays keep supplies and files out of sight until needed.
  • Build shelves – Organize materials up and away from desk with containers that are clearly labeled.
  • Think peg board – Mount it on the wall to hold pockets and containers for supplies and papers.
  • Invest in a label maker – Keep files and bins clearly marked for easy retrieval.
  • Use a fold down desk – If your office is in an open area, a fold down desk will allow you to shut it away from sight.
  • Closet it away – Convert a small closet into a supply/ storage area. Hide printers and other electronics in there.
  • Build a mail center – Stop clutter as soon as it arrives. Hang files as you enter the room to sort mail into. Place a trash can, shredder, and recycle bin close by. Go through each hanging file weekly.
  • Paint – Brightly colored walls energize an office and help stimulate your creative juices. Coordinate your filing cabinets with a new fun color.

Go Green with Electronic Bill Pay and Storage

Think about revising your filing system. By going green and keeping copies of your bills and important papers electronically, you eliminate the hassle of filing papers. You will still need to back up your computer files monthly, to a separate hard drive for security or possibly to a cloud storage.

Designate a Tax Area in Your Office

Get in the habit of putting all tax papers in an ongoing file bin as they come in. You will only have to sort through them when you are ready to begin tax preparation. Designate an area in your office for tax file storage, either in its own filing drawer or a hanging file box.

No Stress Tax Time

Say goodbye to those endless searches for lost tax forms! A fully functioning office saves you time and money. Reorganizing your home office will keep you prepared for tax time and make April another glorious spring month on the calendar.

Expert Advice

From drills and circular saws to nail guns and belt sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to reorganize and redesign your home office. Want to build some unique shelves for your office? Here is a project from our blog, How to Make a DIY Wood Palette Shelf in 5 Easy Steps,that you may want to try. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Reorganize Your Attic and Reclaim Needed Space

custom installed closet 3

Afraid to look in your attic these days? Spring is the perfect time to purge items that are just taking up space and collecting dust. Organizing your attic will boost your storage capacity and make finding items you use once a year (like holiday decorations) much easier.

Sort Your Stuff

Tackle the attic using the same principles you apply to reorganizing your closets. Sort everything into these three categories:

  1. Keep it – stuff to put back into the attic in its own section
  2. Donate it – items to give to charity
  3. Toss it – things that will be trashed or recycled

Divide and Conquer with a Little Help

Organizing the attic doesn’t have to be a dreary job. Work always goes faster if you divide and conquer; round up family and friends to help go through stuff. Set up a table and chair (if space allows) to make sorting through boxes and papers easier. Make sure you have good lighting, access to additional garbage bags or boxes, permanent markers and labels.

Keep Only What You Need or Use

Edit your “Keep” pile further by labeling items into subcategories like “tax papers”, “holiday decorations”, or “sports equipment”. This will also give you another chance to whittle down these items so you keep only what you really need or use.

Six tips to help get your attic organization underway:

  1. Use clear plastic bins rather than cardboard boxes – They make seeing what’s inside easier and protect contents better.
  2. Label each bin clearly – You want to be able to determine what it is at first glance.
  3. Install shelves or cubicles – Sectioning off parts of the attic for each category will help you find items faster.
  4. Don’t forget to go up! – Use hooks or pegs to hang items from the walls or ceiling.
  5. Keep a large trash can available – Instead of dragging one in and out of attic, leave one up there and just remove the bag.
  6. Be safe – If working alone, have your cell phone with you. Accidents can happen and you may need to call for help.

Keep Your Newly Organized Attic Neat

Once you have your attic set up the way you want it, keep it neat by putting things back into their sections. Dust and vacuum regularly to keep the cobwebs at bay. Leave an old clock radio up in the attic so you can enjoy music while you work and keep track of time. (Why waste your cell battery!). Post a map of the different sections in the attic as you enter to let others know where things are kept.

Be Careful What You Store Up There

When storing items in the attic remember that the temperature can get 40 degrees hotter than the rest of your home in the summer and a lot colder in the winter. Electronics, delicate fabrics, photos, or other temperature-sensitive items will not fare well in the attic.

Reclaim Needed Storage Space by Organizing the Attic

Don’t just see the attic as a black hole, sucking up all unwanted items from your house. This is unclaimed space that you have now put to good use. Organizing an attic is an easy weekend project that can free up space and eliminate clutter. You may even discover a few “attic finds” hiding up there once you do!

Expert Advice

From drills and miter saws to staplers and wet/dry vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your attic reorganization. Didn’t organize your holiday decorations before stashing them in the attic? No worries, our blog, Post-Holiday Cleanup – 7 Ways to Bring It On! will help with that. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week

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Winter’s Almost Over! Get That Spring Cleaning Checklist Ready

Bouquet colorful tulips at home

No matter what the groundhog may have predicted on Groundhog Day, spring is almost here!

That means getting things in order. A checklist is the perfect first step because it helps you organize what you want to accomplish and allows you to plan projects to be done over several days (avoiding the inevitable “spring cleaning burnout”).

10 Clicks for Your Spring Cleaning Checklist:

  • Check for loose or leaky gutters – These can cause damage during spring rains.
  • Fill in low areas in your yard – Look for ground that may have washed away from the house foundation or other structures on your property by a winter storm and snow runoff.
  • Inspect the wood trim on windows and doors – Replace any rotted wood and prevent further damage.
  • Visually check roof shingles – Missing shingles due to storms can be easily replaced.
  • Examine the chimney – Do you notice any excess smoke stains? You might want to get a professional chimney sweep out to inspect.
  • Walk your driveway and look for cracks – Fill any cracks with concrete filler. You can winter it later in the spring and apply a sealant.
  • Remove firewood stored near the house – Be careful of unwanted house guests taking up residence in the wood over the winter.
  • Give your house a good dusting – Don’t overlook the ceiling fans, tops of cabinets, air returns and vents. A shop vacuum will help this process.
  • Get your AC system professionally serviced – Doing it early allows you to avoid the rush later when warm weather arrives.
  • Inspect your lawn equipment – If you winterized it, then you are ahead of the game. If not, now is a good time to get oil changed and mower blades sharpened.

Inspect Your Yard for Damaged Trees and Shrubs

Walk around and inspect your landscape. If you have lost trees or shrubs due to the cold weather, cut them down. Note how many plants you need to replace them. (You may be able to catch them on sale!). Always use caution when cutting down large limbs; it is best to have a second pair of hands available for safety.

Plan Your Storm Window Removal

We may have a few more weeks of winter weather ahead, so plan when you want to take your storm windows down. Give your windows a thorough cleaning inside and out, once you do. (You may want to use a pressure washer outside). Don’t forget to clean the blinds or curtains, too.

Assess Your Home’s Condition with Spring Cleaning

Winter can be rough on our homes. A good spring cleaning is one way to assess the condition of your property and to welcome the return of warmer weather. Showing your house a little TLC now may save you from costly repairs down the road. That’s got to warm your heart (and your pocketbook).

Expert Advice

From ladders and pressure washers to nail guns and chain saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your spring cleaning checklist. Looking for a few more indoor spring projects? Another one of our blogs, DIY Projects – Spring Cleaning Ideas and Inspiration, will help get those organizational ideas going. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Finish a Kitchen Update with New Hardware – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #4

Your Guide to Installing New Kitchen HardwareFirst you paint the cabinets, then you update the floors and install a new backsplash. Everything looks great – with finishing final touch: complete your picture perfect kitchen update with new cabinet knobs, pulls or a sink faucet.

Express Kitchen Personality

Not sure what type of kitchen hardware would work with your design style? Decide if you want your knobs and pulls to coordinate with your appliances (like stainless steel), to add touches of color, or to reflect your personality. Most hardware comes in polished, brushed and satin finishes and are readily available. This is an inexpensive way to set your creativity free.

Why Not Upgrade Your Faucet, Too?

Retire your old sink faucet when making hardware upgrades. Replace it with a new high-neck style. Just as with cabinet fixtures, faucets come in a variety of metals. We’ve listed a few options:

  • Polished Brass – Easy to clean, durable, expensive.
  • Satin Brass – Matte, brushed gold look, doesn’t show fingerprints. Can be hard to find.
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze – Gives a traditional feel, colors vary from light bronze to almost black.
  • Satin Bronze – A lighter option than oil rubbed bronze, expensive.
  • Copper – Gives a rich feel and has antibacterial properties, not as durable as nickel or chrome.
  • Polished Nickel – Smooth, shiny and works well with many styles
  • Brushed Nickel – One of the most durable finishes. Doesn’t show wear, fingerprints or water spots.
  • Chrome – Works with multiple styles, does show water spots and fingerprints, inexpensive.
  • Stainless Steel – Often a logical choice for a stainless steel sink.
  • Non-metallic options – Enamel or epoxy coated faucet in matte black, white or tan have a modern look, prone to chipping.

9 Easy Steps to Faucet Replacement

DIY installation of a faucet is fairly straightforward. You will need an adjustable basin wrench, slip joint pliers, safety glasses and a bucket. The toughest part may be cleaning out the area under the sink to give you room to work.

  • Turn off both hot and cold water supplies – place hoses in bucket to collect excess water.
  • Unscrew mounting nuts – these hold the faucet to sink.
  • Remove the old faucet – clean the area around sink hole before installing the new one.
  • Place rubber gasket around hole – if your faucet did not come with one apply a sealant before installing.
  • Slip faucet supply lines through hole.
  • Secure new faucet to sink – avoid tightening screws too much on porcelain faucets because they will chip.
  • Reattach water lines – test the lines to check the water pressure. Make adjustment if necessary.
  • Cap all unused holes with covers – If you are switching to a single handle then cover up the old holes for the water knobs with universal caps that match your sink.
  • Think accessories – Add a soap dispenser or water filter to the leftover holes where water handles were.

Match Fixtures

Consider buying any additional accessories (soap dispenser, water filter, sprayer) from the same manufacturer. Many finishes vary from company to company so keep your look consistent.

Hard Work Pays Off

Putting the finishing touches on your kitchen upgrade is easy and exhilarating. All your hard work definitely pays off. DIY projects are fun, save money and give you a sense of accomplishment that hiring outside help doesn’t provide. Try not to rest on those laurels for long; plenty of other home improvement projects need your attention!

Expert Advice

From a right angle drill and battery powered work light to a basin wrench, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next kitchen DIY project. Looking to upgrade your own kitchen? Review our blogs in this series for helpful tips on where to begin – How to Reinvigorate Your Kitchen for Less, Show Off Your DIY Skills with Flooring, and Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizzazz. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizazz – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #3

Remodeling Project #3 - Update Your BacksplashYou want to add a little pizazz to your kitchen – how about starting with that often overlooked area called the backsplash? It’s a design opportunity just waiting for an inspired DIY’er like yourself. Get those creative juices flowing, we’ve got work to do.

Make it Take the Heat and the Mess

There is a wide range of materials available for your backsplash. Choose a material that will complement countertops or add overall warmth to the kitchen. Keep in mind the product you choose needs to be able to withstand heat, greasy splatters and frequent cleanings. A few popular options are:

  • Ceramic tile – Widely available and affordable
  • Metals – Stainless steel, copper, tin
  • Glass – Tiles or solid panels
  • Stone – Granite, marble, soapstone, quartz
  • Metallic penny tiles
  • Wood
  • Laminate

Subway Tiles: An Elegant, Affordable Choice

One of the most popular (and affordable) options is subway tiles. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are easy to install. Give your backsplash additional interest by laying the tile at an angle or in a pattern. Here are a few tips on installing tile:

  • Prepare your work area – remove outlet covers and any fixtures, cover your countertops and tape off around cabinets.
  • Use cement backer board – this is actually a thin layer of concrete with fiberglass weave on both sides, which gives the tile something firm to sit on.
  • Apply tile mastic to small section of wall – this is a ready-to-use adhesive that has better adhesive properties on vertical surfaces than thin set.
  • Cut and place tiles – work in small areas so the mastic does not dry. Use spacers.
  • Apply grout – allow tiles to set overnight before applying grout. You can use tinted grout if you don’t want white.
  • Clean and caulk – wait at least 30-40 minutes for the grout to set before wiping the tiles clean with damp sponge. Caulk where the tiles meet the countertop.

Personalize Your Kitchen Backsplash

If tile and traditional materials aren’t what you are looking for, then consider non-traditional DIY options that add personality:

  • Customized wallpaper – Photographs, quotes or textured fabrics applied to the walls with adhesive and covered with glass.
  • Install a mirror – A reflective surface can open up a small space and show off countertops.
  • Paint – If you already have a tile backsplash, give it a pop of color with paint.
  • Ceiling tiles – Laminated thermoplastic panels can be glued to walls to give an old world feel.
  • Repurposed wood – Reuse old wood flooring, apply varnish and seal to make for easy clean-up.
  • Cork – Glue squares of this on the walls for a handy recipe/reminder board for the whole family. Seal it for easy wipe downs.

Spice Up Your Kitchen with A New Backsplash

Whatever material you choose, updating your backsplash is an easy, economical way to breathe life back into your kitchen. Get creative and spice up your galley this weekend. It’s a little change that reaps big results.

Expert Advice

From masonry saws to tile nippers and cutters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next kitchen update. Is this your first time installing tile? Learn helpful tips from our blogs, How to Install a Kitchen Tile Backsplash and How to Cut Tile for Do-it-Yourself Tiling Jobs. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Show Off Your DIY Skills with Flooring – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #2

Remodeling Project #2 - Update Your FlooringOne of the best places to show off your DIY skills is in the kitchen where the floor takes a daily beating. No room gets more spills, splatters and stains. Finding an inexpensive flooring option is very doable and we’re here to help you find the perfect one.

Don’t Let So Many Choices Floor You

If you’re getting overwhelmed by the vast array of flooring choices and are not sure which material is right for you, let your budget and the style of your kitchen narrow down your options. Here are a few possibilities to consider:

  • Hardwoods
  • Tiles – Terra Cotta, ceramic
  • Concrete
  • Marble
  • Travertine tiles
  • Cork
  • Bamboo
  • Vinyl
  • Laminated hardwood

Hardwoods Add Warmth to a Room

Hardwoods are very popular in kitchen design right now. Wood adds warmth to a room and comes in a multitude of widths, colors and textures. Today’s pre-finished hardwoods have an average of eight coats of finish baked on, so it can take wear and tear.

Easy Hardwood Installation

Tongue and groove hardwood flooring is easy to install using the right equipment. Rent a flooring nail gun so the nails go in at the proper angle. Hardwoods like Teak require special nails due to their hardness. The wrong nails can bounce off and damage the flooring.

Laminates Install in a Snap

Laminates also come in a tongue and groove system that snaps together. These floating floor installations can go in over your existing flooring or subfloor. A vapor barrier or underlay put down first will help protect against moisture.

Tile Floors – A Great High Traffic Solution

Tiles are easy to clean, scratch resistant and great for high traffic areas. To install make sure your subfloor is level by using a self-leveling compound. Tiles will crack if the subfloor moves or is un-level, so choose a tile size that can help you avoid this. Depending on your choice of tiles, you will need to seal it once a year to avoid staining.

Think Outside the Box for Your Floor Update

Hardwoods, laminates or tiles not what you’re looking for? Try thinking outside the box and consider one of these ideas:

  • Rubber Flooring – If you do a lot of cooking you’ll love these pliable floors. They are durable and are available in custom colors.
  • Painted Laminate Floors – Use painter’s tape to block off a chevron pattern or stripes and apply your favorite colors. Seal with polyurethane when dry.
  • Concrete – Rehab your concrete subfloor with a thin layer of concrete. Treat it with an acid stain to get a permanent, non-fading color.
  • Epoxy Coating – Coat your concrete subfloor with epoxy resin and add color flakes to match your décor. It’s hard as nails and easy to clean.
  • Brick Pavers – Add an old-world ambiance to your kitchen with pavers. Practically indestructible, you will need to seal them once a year to keep them from staining and to protect the grout.

Your DIY Project Will Be a Snap

Today’s flooring options are tough, beautiful and easy to install, which makes your DIY project a snap. The toughest thing you’ll have to do is decide what type of flooring you want. But that will be our little secret.

Expert Advice

From flooring nail guns and rollers to concrete mixers and tile cutters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your flooring projects. If you’re considering a floor refinishing, learn helpful tips from our blog, How to Re-Finish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Invigorate Your Kitchen for Less – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #1

Remodeling Project #1 - Update Your CountertopsOne of the most popular remodeling projects is renovating the kitchen, a project that can also easily become the most expensive. Forbes magazine lists the average kitchen makeover budget at close to $54,000. Wow, good thing we’re into home DIY projects! Let’s look at ways to invigorate your kitchen for less.

Create a Remodeling Plan

Think about why you are remodeling. Are you updating the kitchen to resell your home? Or are you looking for a change? Answering these questions can help you establish a realistic plan and avoid the expensive pitfalls of kitchen renovations. Determine which projects you want to do yourself and which ones you want to leave to the professionals.

Decide What You Want Done the Most

If you just want to freshen up the look of the most popular room in the house, what in your kitchen stays – the cabinets, the countertops or the appliances? If you want all new stainless steel appliances, then start your budget there and build on that. Decide what you want done the most and what you can exclude.

Popular Materials for Countertops

Determined to have granite installed in your kitchen? Expect to spend 10-15% of your overall kitchen remodel budget just on the countertops. Granite, marble and engineered stones are popular. They do come at a price.

  • Granite – Scratch and heat resistant; can stain if not sealed properly
  • Marble – Carrara is popular, can stain and scratch
  • Soapstone – Bacteria, acid and stain resistant; can chip on edges
  • Natural and Engineered Quartz (Silestone, CaesarStone) – Heat and stain resistant
  • Wood – Popular with many chefs; inexpensive
  • Glass – Recycled or mosaic; can chip and show scratches
  • Concrete – Can be tinted and textured for aesthetics
  • Laminate – Inexpensive; wide range of colors available
  • Solid Surfaces (Corian, Wilsonart, Avonart) – Stain and bacteria resistant; not heat tolerant.
  • Stainless Steel – Durable; heat resistant and easy to clean

Money-Saving Countertop Ideas

Save money by getting creative with your countertops. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint laminate surfaces – Be sure to cover your paint choice with several protective coatings of polyurethane (matte or high gloss finish).
  • Tile – Mix it up. Select different types of tile for the countertop and the backsplash.
  • Wood – Re-purpose old wood doors. Use old countertops as a template to cut out the wood. Sand, stain and coat them with polyurethane.
  • Concrete – Apply it right over your old surfaces or buy it in slabs built to your exact measurements.
  • Stainless Steel – To get a seamless countertop, order materials cut to specific measurements.

Many of these countertop options require 24 hrs. drying time between coats, so be patient. Good things come to those who wait (and do it themselves).

Dream Kitchens for Less

You can have the dream kitchen you want by rolling up your sleeves and creatively re-inventing an old space. By saving money and redoing the countertops yourself, you can use the extra cash to buy new appliances or redo the cabinets and floors. Even grilled cheese sandwiches will taste better made in your newly remodeled kitchen! As Emeril Lagasse says, “Bam!” – what a kitchen.

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to concrete mixers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for kitchen remodels and more. Learn more tips from our blog, Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls

DIY Project - How to Paint Your WallsOne way to re-invigorate a room without breaking the budget is with a fresh coat of paint. With so many great paint choices out there, painting is a weekend DIY project that creates immediate results. Go ahead, let your imagination run wild and choose a bold new color to breathe life back into your home. We’ve got the painting 4-1-1 to help you paint like a pro.

What Room Needs a Paint Lift?

Before starting your project, think about how your room is used. Is it a high traffic area like a kitchen? You may want to be able to scrub stains and scuff marks off walls. Or is the room a little quieter like a bedroom? The type room you are painting will determine what type finish you select.

6 Paint Finishes for Interior Walls:

  1. Matte or Flat – Has no shine. Covers imperfections well but it scuffs easily. Good for ceilings.
  2. Matte Enamel – More durable, can be cleaned easily. Good for kitchens and kid’s rooms.
  3. Satin – Low sheen, can be cleaned often, shows imperfections. Works well on hallways and other high traffic areas.
  4. Eggshell – Subtle shine, cleans easy and can cover more surface area with less paint.
  5. Semi-gloss – Used mainly on trim, easy to clean.
  6. Gloss – High shine, shows imperfections but easy to clean. Takes longer to dry.

Ceiling First, Walls Next

Give yourself room to work by clearing as much furniture out as possible. Cover remaining items as well as the floor with drop clothes. Clean the surface of the walls and ceiling to remove any dirt or dust. If you spackle holes, paint them with primer to help them blend in when painted. Paint the ceiling first then the walls.

Paint Loves Loose Fuzz

Use a 2-inch angle brush and 9-inch roller and shallow roller pan. If you have a smooth ceiling use a roller with a smooth or medium nap. For rough ceilings use one with a thicker nap. Wrap new rollers in masking tape then remove to eliminate any loose fuzz.

8 Proper Techniques for Painting Ceilings & Walls

  1. Cut in  Paint a 3-inch strip around the perimeter where the walls meet the ceiling.
  2. Work in small sections  Lap marks result if you allow the strip to dry before the roller can go over it.
  3. Use primer paint – It will help cover up stains and imperfections.
  4. Roll paint on in “W” pattern  Work across the body from left to right to avoid neck and shoulder strain.
  5. Fill in the pattern  Apply paint in even vertical strokes, overlapping the 3-inch strips to blend in paint.
  6. Outline corners, windows, outlets and finally baseboards – Don’t get too far ahead so the outline remains wet for the roller.
  7. Paint from top to bottom – Roll paint on from the ceiling to the floor to cover any drips that may happen.
  8. Paint molding last – After the walls and ceiling have dried, apply painter’s tape to the wall or ceiling and paint the molding.

Is a Paint Sprayer More Your Speed?

If a roller and brush are slow for you, try using a paint sprayer. Just make sure to completely cover anything you don’t want to get paint mist on (including yourself). For more helpful hints check out our past blog on how to properly use a paint sprayer.

Fresh Paint Can Brighten the Spirits

After the paint has dried and the furniture is re-arranged, take a step back and look at your new creation. Fresh paint can brighten the spirits as well as a room. You’ll be able to brag about this until your next DIY project. Take a load off, you deserve a break.

Expert Advice

Whether you need ladders, vacuums or paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home painting projects. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Give Kitchen Cabinets a Face-lift in 10 Steps with New Stain

How to Restain Your Kitchen CabinetsWhile pondering your next home DIY project over a morning cup of coffee, you suddenly realize that it is staring you right in the face. Your kitchen cabinets could use a face-lift! Re-staining wood cabinets is an easy and economical way to perk up the busiest room in the house. If yours are looking a little lackluster, all you need is some wood stain and a little sweat equity.

What you will need:

  • Drill
  • Orbital sander
  • 220 grit sand paper and sanding block
  • Mineral spirits
  • Gel or spray stripping solvent
  • Putty knife
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint sprayer
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane coating

Do you have fiberboard cabinets?

Determine if your cabinets are hardwood or fiberboard. Test an out-of-the-way spot by sanding off the finish or paint. Fiberboard will not stain so you may have to re-paint them. If you have hardwood cabinets, then you’re ready to start.

10 Steps to Reinvigorate Kitchen Cabinets with Stain

  1. Remove the doors from the cabinets – Clean out all cabinets and drawers. Label the doors and cabinets so that you can re-assemble them in the correct order at the end of project.
  2. Unscrew all hardware and hinges – If you are keeping existing hardware, label them to match where they came from.
  3. Clean the surfaces – Use mineral spirits to clean dirt and grease from the wood. It may take several passes.
  4. Apply gel stripper – Spread the solvent onto your cabinets and allow it to bubble up old finishes or paint. Scrape it off with a putty knife. These chemicals are very corrosive and toxic so wear a mask, gloves and safety googles.
  5. Use wood putty to fill holes and gouges – To install new hardware, cover the old holes with wood filler and let dry 24 hours.
  6. Sand all surfaces – An orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper will smooth the wood and remove any old paint or finish. For any trim or hard to reach places, it is best to sand by hand. Wipe with tack cloth to remove dust and debris.
  7. Apply stain – Work with the wood grain and apply light, even coats. Wipe excess off with a cloth. To get a deeper color, apply several coats not thicker ones. Allow wood to dry completely between each pass.
  8. Add a polyurethane coating – This will help protect the wood and allow for easier cleaning. A paint sprayer will make it easier to do a large number of cabinets and will help prevent streaks.
  9. Re-assemble the cabinets – Match the numbered doors to corresponding cabinets.
  10. Install new hardware – Drill new holes to add new knobs, pulls and hinges.

You are on a roll!

Staining the existing wood cabinets is not only a great way to freshen up the look of your kitchen without spending a lot of money, recycling the cabinets is also eco-friendly. Now that you’ve done such a great job on the cabinets maybe it’s time to tackle the backsplash. Looks like you’ve found your next DIY project without even trying. You are on a roll!

Expert Advice

Whether orbital sanders, drills or paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. If re-staining the cabinets isn’t enough of a change for your kitchen, check out our blog, How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets to Perfection for some excellent tips on doing it like a pro. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Give Old Chairs New Life with Fresh Paint & Upholstery

How to Reupholster ChairsWhile cleaning out the attic (a New Year’s resolution, perhaps?) you come across a pair of your grandmother’s old chairs. You realize that with a fresh coat of paint and new fabric, you can breathe life back into them – and they would be perfect for your home. Congratulations, you have just found your next DIY project!

Good Bones Are Good Bones

Furniture left languishing in attics and storage closets just needs a little TLC to bring out its beautiful essence, not to mention, to make it functional once more. Repurposing well-made old chairs with new paint and upholstery is an easy, inexpensive weekend project. Let’s get started.

To repaint a wood chair, you will need the following:

  • Drop cloth – to keep your floors drip free
  • Tack cloths – to wipe off dust and debris (paper towels/rags leave lint!)
  • Mineral spirits or dish soap – the wood needs a good cleaning
  • Sandpaper – 120 and 220 grit
  • Sanding block – to work in those hard to reach areas
  • Orbital sander – makes easy work of large areas
  • Paint – buy one that can take frequent cleanings
  • Foam roller and brush – these will give you a smoother finish
  • Water based polyurethane – protects your paint and make clean ups easier
  • Wood blocks – to position chair off floor

Tips for Successfully Painting Wood Chairs 

  1. Prep work is key – Start by removing the seat cover. Inspect the chair’s paint condition, if it is chipped or cracked, strip it off to give the paint a smooth surface to stick to. Use a chemical stripper to bubble up the old paint and a putty knife to remove it. A heat gun can also help remove old paint. Be careful not to scrape too hard or you can damage the wood.
  1. Give wood a good cleaning – Clean the surface of the chair using dish soap or mineral spirits to remove any dirt or grease. Why? Contaminants cause paint not to adhere to the wood. Fill cracks and gouges with wood filler, which comes in a variety of color tints so they blend in. Let filler dry 24 hours before painting.
  1. When painting, go with the grain – Use 120 grit sandpaper to smooth off excess filler and to rough up the wood surface. Place the chair on the wood blocks to get it up off floor. Apply your first coat of paint, working from the top down. Paint with the grain of the wood. Allow it to dry, then use the 220 grit fine sandpaper to smooth any remaining rough spots or paint drips. Wipe the chair down completely to remove dust or debris before applying a second coat.
  1. Seal and protect with polyurethane – Seal the chair’s paint with polyurethane. Apply slowly and carefully, using a mini foam roller, to avoid forming air bubbles in the coating. If using a paint sprayer, hold it at least 8-12 inches away from the wood surface. Aim for multiple thin layers instead of doing one or two thick layers. When finished allow 72 hours for the chair to dry completely before using.

7 Steps for Reupholstering

  1. What you’ll need – cotton material for a liner and fabric for the cover.
  2. Remove old material and inspect the foam cushion. This may need to be replaced if too old.
  3. Iron out creases in both the new liner and fabric.
  4. Put the seat frame on the liner and trace 3 inches from the edge. Cut along this line.
  5. Cover the frame and cushion with the liner. Attach on the bottom at the center of each side, pulling the material tightly as you go. Work your way around, going from center to corner on each side. Fold excess material on corners, avoiding creases on the cushion top. Think hospital corners and use that staple gun!
  6. Once the liner is in place, repeat the same procedure with your fabric. If your material contains a pattern, place it the way you want it to be seen on top first, then flip it over to mark your lines. Pull the material tightly. Remember, staples can be removed and fabric re-adjusted.
  7. Once complete, you can attach the cushion back onto the chair frame.

Granny Would Be So Proud!

Now, your chair looks like a million bucks but you know the truth. Over a weekend you have managed to repurpose clutter from your attic into a serviceable piece of furniture. Feel free to take a load off and sit on your new designer chair. Granny would be SO proud!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to heat guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. Looking for more ideas on how to freshen up old furniture? Check out our previous blog. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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8 Essential Best Practices for Efficient Heating This Winter

Attic Insulation InstallationHow many times have you looked at the heating bill and almost fell out of your chair from shock? Energy prices are nothing to sneeze at, which is why improving your home’s insulation will go a long way in keeping your family and your wallet comfortable this winter.

  1. Do an Energy Audit

The power company will conduct an energy audit on your home to detect the areas with the most heat loss. Generally, a home loses half of its heating and cooling through the walls, windows, floors and roof. Determining where to insulate is the first step. You’ll likely find that insulating the attic is one of the simplest and smartest ways to lower your heating bill.

  1. Determine Best R-Value for Your Home

Each area of your home requires a different R-value of insulation. The R-Value determines a material’s resistance to heat flow. The higher the number, the better it is at stopping loss. A typical Indiana attic needs insulation with an R-value of R49. Exterior walls require R13-21 and floors between R25-30.

  1. Blanket or Blown Insulation?

Two popular types of insulation are the rolled blanket insulation and the loose cellulose variety that is blown into place. Insulation comes in a variety of materials like fiberglass, cellulose and mineral wool. Fiberglass tends to settle so thicker layers have to be put down. Insect and fire resistant cellulose is the most common. Mineral wool is made from molten slag, which is spun into fiber. It is more expensive but totally fire resistant. Whichever you choose, remove old insulation and make sure to seal any possible air leaks before installing the new material. Apply a thick enough layer that covers floor joists. For blown insulation, a sprayer makes easy work of distributing cellulose around beams and other obstructions.

  1. Eliminate Drafts with Window Insulation

If you live in an older home and don’t have double pane windows, you may want to look into installing storm windows. These can be added externally or internally and will help keep cold at bay. Window insulation kits are another option. They contain large sheets of plastic that is taped around windows to eliminate drafts.

  1. Keep Heat in with Weather Seal

Foam weather-stripping can help seal around windows and doors, keeping weather out and heat in. Even if you have double pane windows, check the trim around them to make sure it’s sealed tight. Blinds, shades and window treatments such as insulated curtains can also provide an additional buffer against the cold.

  1. Check for Air Leaks and Seal Them

Check for air leaks around pipes, exhaust fans, ducts and chimneys. You’d be surprised how much heat is lost around the dryer vent. Seal them tight with spray foam. Purchase insulating foam plates for electrical outlets on exterior walls. They install behind the plastic outlet cover and block air flow.

  1. Blanket Hot Water Heater

Another source of heat loss occurs around the hot water heater, which accounts for 19% of your total home energy bill. Today’s models are well-insulated; however, if you place your hand on the side and it feels warm, then there’s heat loss. For $30, wrap the hot water heater with a blanket and save 10% on your yearly power usage.

  1. Wrap Hot Water Pipes for Additional Savings

Wrap all hot water pipes within three feet of the water heater. Polyethylene and neoprene wraps help keep the water hot longer and you can turn down the temperature setting. Be sure to keep the insulation at least six inches away from a gas hot water heater’s flue.

You Can Never Have Enough Insulation

This winter, don’t let your home’s warmth go out the window. Whether you roll it out or blow it in, you can never have enough insulation! Wrap your humble abode in a nice thick layer of warmth and you’ll never have to fear those energy bills again.

Expert Advice

From insulation vacuums and blowers to caulk cutting saws and electric heaters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your DIY home improvement projects. To learn how to install attic insulation, read How to Efficiently and Easily Insulate Your Attic. Another post, 4 Cold Weather Basics – Insulating Your Home, offers additional info on improving your home’s energy efficiency. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Post-Holiday Clean Up? 7 Ways to Bring It On!

Post-Holiday Clean-UpAs the New Year begins, it’s an exciting time, packing away the old to make room for the new. Rather than being overwhelmed with post-holiday clean up, think of it as a new start for you and your home.

  1. The Big Clean – The Japanese New Year tradition called Oosouji means, “The Big Clean” and everyone in Japan takes it to heart. During the final week of the year, they spend time cleaning, decluttering and organizing their homes, offices and schools in order to start the new year with a fresh outlook. This approach seems to work far better than rarely kept resolutions, so give it a try.
  1. Re-Organize Decorations Before Storing – Start your big clean by re-organizing Christmas decorations before packing them away. Look at everything and eliminate the items you didn’t use. Roll up strings of lights onto wrapping paper tubes to keep them from tangling. Organize decorations in see-through plastic bins and label them according to where they are used.
  1. Organize Storage Areas – Now that you’ve packed away decorations, why not organize the storage space in the attic? Building shelves that fit into the rafters is an easy DIY project. A variety of plans are available online and all you need is some lumber, a circular saw, a drill, maybe a hammer and nails, too. Soon those storage bins will be neatly tucked away until next year.
  1. Mulch Christmas Trees – Recycle the Christmas tree into mulch rather than contributing to landfill overload. Many cities offer curbside tree pick-up or rent a chipper/ shredder and do it yourself. If the tree left a trail of needles on its way out the door, vacuum them up so they won’t burrow deep down into rugs and carpets. Tape lint rollers are great for picking up stubborn needles off of furniture and rugs.
  1. Freshen the Carpet – During the holidays your carpet can take a beating from muddy foot traffic and other unfortunate messes. For wine stains, sprinkle a few drops of white vinegar onto the stain and blot with a damp cloth. If your rugs are really dirty, consider renting a carpet cleaner and freshen them up.
  1. Clear Out the Clutter – Is your house filled with piles of new gifts and toys? Now is the perfect time to clear out the clutter. Make it a new motto – for every new item, get rid of two old items. Other clutter-reducing ideas include:
    • The holiday mailing box challenge – fill old mailing boxes with items like clothing, books and toys to donate to charity. See how many you can fill!
    • Sort through holiday cards, make a note of who sent them (for next year’s list) and cut gift tags out of the cards you like.
    • Swap already read books online at sites like Paperback Swap and Book Mooch.
    • The White Elephant Super Bowl exchange party – re-gift those “special” presents while getting your football face on.
  1. Get Tax Paperwork in Order – The end of the year is also a great time to organize what you need for filing taxes. Set up a special file to deposit all incoming tax forms. Be sure to add receipts from charitable donations. Sort through and shred papers that are no longer needed. Go paperless whenever possible to help reduce the paper clutter.

The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy our friends and family and to usher in the new year. You’d be surprised how decluttering your surroundings will lighten your mood and lift your spirit – start the New Year with a fresh outlook and an organized house!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to carpet cleaners and wood chippers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. Looking for more ideas on how to make a fresh start in your home after the holidays? Check out our previous blog. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Easy Advice for Installing Storm Windows = Big Energy Savings This Winter

How to Install Storm WindowsWorried about winter heating bills? Or just wishing your home wasn’t so drafty? We’ve already covered the perfect DIY solution #1: installing storm doors. What’s the perfect DIY solution #2? Installing storm windows. They alone can save you between 12 and 33 percent on your heating costs and are much cheaper than replacement windows. Plus, installing storm windows is easy, with our expert how-to advice.

Make Your Choice – Interior or Exterior Storm Windows

Determine what type of storm windows you’d like – interior or exterior. Exterior models come with solid windows and screens in frames that attach directly to an existing window. Interior storm windows are usually seasonal products that you install every winter. They snap or clip into your interior windowsill but do not have adjustable glass panes or screens.

Exterior storm windows are the most common. Frames are made from wood, aluminum or vinyl and offer extra protection to your existing windows. They help them last longer and require less maintenance to the paint and caulk. Most have low emissivity glass (Low-E), which keeps thermal heat in during the winter and infrared heat out during the summer.

Installation is a simple DIY home project that you can tackle in a weekend (depending on the number of windows you have). To start, you will need the following:

Measure, Measure, Measure

Take a series of measurements of the inside of your existing window, at the bottom, top and middle of the frame. Why? The window frame may not be straight. Use the smallest measurement to order your storm windows. Measure the height of the frame from the outside of your window.

Consider ordering your windows with some of the following features:

  • Multiple positioning stops so you can raise or lower the panes to where you want.
  • Quality weather stripping to help stop heating/cooling loss.
  • Pre-drilled holes for quicker installation.
  • Easy-to-clean removable half pane glass and screens to make spring cleaning easier.

Drill Weep Holes then Paint

Storm windows come with weep holes installed at the bottom. Drill matching holes in the bottom exterior windowsill. This will allow condensation to escape. Next, scrap and paint the exterior frame before installing the new window.

Seal Your Storm Windows

Manufacturers recommend applying Butyl caulk, a rubber-based sealant that is good for outdoor installations like siding and gutters. It is a little uncooperative to work with, but it seals better than a silicone caulk. Apply it to the back of the storm window before installing to the exterior frame.

An Extra Set of Hands Comes in – Handy

You may need an extra set of hands to help hold the storm window while you mount it. First center the window then screw it in at top. Close the bottom sash and then screw the sides to the exterior frame. There will be an adjustable expander at the bottom of your storm windows. Tap it down tight against the windowsill and you are done.

Look for Condensation and Fix Air Leaks

Be sure to check your storm windows for condensation during the next cold snap. Leaks from your interior windows can cause moisture build up. This is no problem since the storm window has weep holes, but you may want to follow up with new weather stripping on your interior sill to plug possible air leaks.

Take a Bite Out of Your Next Power Bill

Cutting down on heating bills is always a challenge. Improving your home’s insulation, plugging air leaks and installing storm windows will go a long way to take a bite out of that next bill. Next time the cold wind blows and you sit warm inside, remember to thank your storm windows. Everyone likes a nice pat on the back from time to time.

Expert Advice

From ladders and drills to caulking saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your next DIY project. For more helpful tips on how to keep things warm at your house check out our blog, 3 Easy Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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8 Ways to Get Ready for Winter Snow Removal

Winter Snow RemovalBring on the snow! The official start of winter is almost upon us (the season starts in our area on Monday, December 21, 2015 at 11:49 PM EST). Do you have the proper snow removal equipment? Are you stocked up with de-icer and sand? Can your power equipment handle what winter storms deliver? We have some answers right here.

  1. Have a variety of tools to help remove snow: Keep shovels, scoops, scrapers and roof rakes on hand to help you tackle the white stuff and ice build-up. Every storm brings different conditions to your neighborhood, so having a variety of tools handy allows you to roll with the punches. You’ll want something to help melt the ice, like rock salt or de-icer, and something to provide traction on those slippery driveways and sidewalks.
  1. Find the right shovel for you: Looking for a new shovel this season? Find one that fits you. You don’t want one that causes you to bend down to use it. Steel shovels are the most durable and the heaviest. Plastic is lightweight and will likely make it through just one winter. Aluminum shovels are lightweight, somewhat durable and have a tendency to bend if they hit a hard chunk of ice. Pay attention to the handle. Look for one made of wood, aluminum or fiberglass and that fits your hand size.
  1. Try pushing the snow, not lifting it: When shoveling, think push not lift. “Bulldozing” the snow off is easier on your back. When you do have to toss snow, lift with your legs. Don’t try to pick up a large amount of snow in the spade. Walk over and deposit the snow where it needs to go rather than tossing it. Repetitive movements like throwing snow in one direction can cause injuries to the shoulders, arms and back. Mix up your techniques – push, deposit, toss.
  1. Prepare for outdoor chores: Dress in layers, hydrate and take frequent breaks while doing outdoor winter chores. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually easier on your body to tackle light layers of snow a couple of times rather than one deep layer after all the snow has fallen. Stretch your muscles prior to and after shoveling. Most importantly, know your limit. It’s driveway snow not Mount Everest.
  1. Take stock of your equipment: Prefer a snow blower to shoveling? Just remember your power equipment has been sitting dormant for a while so crank it up prior to a big snowfall. Give it a good cleaning and tune up. If last winter was too much for old faithful, consider an upgrade. Keep in mind what kind of surfaces (driveways, walkways) you will be cleaning and how much snow your area typically gets. There are two types of snow blowers:
    1. Single stage: lightweight and easy to use, handles up to a foot of snow
    2. Two stage: can handle up to 18 inches of snow, many come with power driven wheels to help with steep inclines
  1. Use de-icer to help with icy surfaces – Keep a good de-icer on hand to help loosen up ice build-up on your surfaces. A de-icer is not meant to totally melt your driveway clean but it will make it easier for you to shovel off. Rock salt is a cheaper option but it can be harmful to pets and the runoff can change the PH balance of your landscape.
  1. Sand helps you get a grip: Once you have cleared the driveway, spread sand or birdseed, which provides better traction for foot traffic. Clay kitty litter is also an option but it can damage floors and carpets if tracked into the house.
  1. Humidifiers help with dry indoor air: After a long day of shoveling outside in the cold, wet snow, it’s great to come inside where it is warm and dry. Furnaces and fireplaces make interior air perhaps too dry, causing everything from sinus issues to cracked skin. Running a humidifier will add moisture to the air and help family members stay healthier and more comfortable.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Don’t be left out in the cold this year. Preparing for winter weather now will help you manage whatever Mother Nature throws at you. So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Expert Advice

From snow blowers and shovels to de-icers and humidifiers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to manage the winter weather. Runyon Equipment Rental is a proud dealer of Honda snow blowers. To learn what to look for in a snow blower, read How to Choose a Snow Blower That’s Right for You. Another post, Cold Weather Basics – Your Guide to Snow Removal, offers additional info on how to safely remove snow.As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 Methods for Inspecting & Cleaning a Fireplace

cleaning your fireplace and chimney in 3 simple stepsSitting in front of a blazing fire during the winter is one of life’s joys. A fireplace that offers warmth and comfort must be properly maintained, so it doesn’t pose a hazard to your family. Give yourself peace of mind by having your both your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned.

4 Types of Chimney Soot

  • A light, dull dusting of gray, brown or black soot
  • Black granular accumulation
  • A black, gummy, road-tar-like coating
  • A shiny, glaze-like coating, which is very combustible

Creosote Buildup Causes Fires

Chimney fires are caused by a buildup of creosote, which is the byproduct of unburnt wood. It adheres to the inside of the chimney or flue and can ignite with a spark. An inspection will determine the amount of soot and creosote coating the interior of the chimney. If the layer is over 1/8-inch thick, then avoid using the fireplace until it can be cleaned.

3 Basic Methods for Cleaning a Chimney & Fireplace

  • From the top down – You would use the chimney brush and extenders down into the chimney from the roof, scrubbing the sides to loosen debris.
  • From the bottom up – You extend the brush up into the chimney and flue to remove the soot and creosote.
  • Tag team method – With a rope pulley system, one person is on the roof and the other is at the base of the fireplace. Together they pull the chimney brush back and forth on the pulley, cleaning the sides.

Successful cleaning is all in the preparation – Inspecting and cleaning a chimney and fireplace will take preparation and some tools you may or may not have on hand, such as:

  • Chimney brush and extension pipes
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Drop cloth and tarps to cover floor and furniture
  • Flash light
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ladder
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Shop Vac (optional)

If you are not sure, call a professional chimney sweep  Determining the type and thickness of the soot is important. Simply scrape some off the side of the chimney to ascertain what kind of cleaning is needed. If you are unsure about tackling the job yourself then call in a professional. A reputable chimney sweep is licensed by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the cost is estimated at $150-$200.

Soot can get everywhere, so cover up  This DIY project can be messy so be sure to cover your floors and furniture with drop cloths. Wear old clothes, a dust mask and safety goggles. Place a drop cloth in the bottom of the fireplace. You may even want to create a “tent” around the fireplace if you worry about covering your house in soot.

Your chimney may have houseguests  Lay on your back and look up into the chimney and flue with a flash light. Don’t be surprised to find animals like birds and squirrels nesting in there. If you do you will need to remove them before continuing.

Glazed, hardened creosote may need a professional touch to remove  Whichever method appeals to you, be sure to get as much soot and creosote off the walls as possible. Use a shop vacuum to gather the falling debris as you work. If the creosote on the walls has hardened into a glaze you may need to seek professional help in getting it off. Scrubbing will not remove this type layer.

Don’t forget to trim back tree limbs  Inspect the outside of your chimney. Look for any loose or cracked bricks and deteriorating mortar. If you have tree limbs that are covering your chimney now is the time to trim them back.

Make sure the damper is working properly – From the fireplace, shine your flashlight upward to make sure the damper is working properly. Be sure to wear your safety goggles since debris will often float back down and land on the damper ledge. Use your chimney brush to clean this area.

Get out the shop vac for clean-up  After getting as much soot and creosote off the walls, vacuum the fireplace and drop cloths. Be careful to clean up any debris that may have escaped the hearth before removing the tarps on your furniture.

Keep Safe and Warm this Winter

By inspecting and cleaning your chimney and fireplace once a year in addition to burning well-seasoned wood, you can greatly reduce the chances of having an accidental fire in your home. Keeping your family safe and warm this winter only takes a little elbow grease and a good chimney brush. You can even whistle tunes from Mary Poppins while you work … if this helps!

Expert Advice

From ladders and chain saws to shop vacs, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your home projects. For more helpful tips on how to get your home ready for the cold temps, check our blog, 3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Improve Your Home’s Heating This Winter with Storm Doors & Ceiling Fans

Installing Winter Storm Doors & WindowsThis winter, with the high cost of heating on everyone’s mind, improve your home’s heating efficiency by finding ways to stop heat loss and to better distribute the warm air coming out of your furnace and fireplace. Some of these solutions are right in front of you.

Shut the Front Door

Even though today’s fiberglass and steel front doors are more energy efficient, switching a screen door to a storm door could help cut down on energy bills, just not the way they used to. However, storm doors can help:

  • Protect the Front Door – Entryway doors can be costly and storm doors keep rain and snow off of them, extending their life.
  • Add Security – A locked storm door can add protection when you open your front door to a stranger.
  • Protect Visitors – There’s nothing worse than opening the front door and getting a face full of rain or snow. It’s nice to have a buffer before venturing out.

Avoid Trapped Heat

Some front door manufacturers will recommend not using a storm door, especially if it will be receiving several hours of daily direct sunlight. Heat can build up between the two doors. Install a storm door with vents to allow the heat to escape. Add UV protective tinting to all glass storm doors.

Swap Panels for Different Seasons

During the spring and summer, storm door screens keep pests out and cool breezes coming in. In the fall and winter, swap out the screen for the glass panel. Just remove the plastic clips on the top, bottom and sides of the screen and gently pop it out. The glass insert slides in and you finish by replacing the clips around all sides. Clean the screen and store it to await the swap out in the spring.

Ceiling Fans Help Keep Rooms Warmer

Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor assembly that you flip to change the turning direction. In the summer, blades that turn counter-clockwise produce a cool breeze that blows directly down. In the winter, blades that turn clockwise draw air up and out, helping to recirculate the warmer air sitting at the ceiling.

  • Spread Warm Air Around – Hot air rises and often leaves pockets of cold air throughout rooms. Ceiling fans redistribute the warm air from a central source, such as a fireplace or wood stove, to reach other areas of the house.
  • It’s Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs – If you own a two story home with a central open staircase, you know how warm it can get upstairs while the rooms downstairs remain cold. Install a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs. It can help redirect some of the heat rising upstairs back to the ground floors.

Try Insulated Drapes

Check for air drafts around windows and doors. Caulk around windows to help seal them. Weather stripping can help eliminate leaks as well. For drafty patio and French doors – and also for windows – try installing insulated drapes that you close at night to keep the heat from escaping.

Stay Warm and Toasty This Winter

The goal is to stay warm and toasty this winter. Look for anything around your home that can eat into your energy efficiency. Every little bit helps. These simple DIY repairs will help you focus on more important things like how many marshmallows are going to go into your hot chocolate.

Expert Advice

From ladders to insulation blowers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tools and equipment for your home improvements. For more helpful tips on how to keep the cold out, check our blog, Cold Weather Basics: Winterizing Window, Doors and Vents. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Winterizing Checklist for Garden Tools & Equipment

Winterizing Garden ToolsIf you’ve been working hard to get all your lawn equipment stored away for winter, have you been checking all those DIY to-do’s off the list, too? Just in case you’ve overlooked a step or something else, let’s review what’s recommended you do.

When Winterizing Lawn Equipment:

  • Remove fuel – Gas breaks down after 30 days and will clog fuel lines if you leave gas in your lawn mower, weed eater, leaf blower or any other gardening equipment.
  • Use a fuel stabilizer – If you’re not going to remove the gas, then add a fuel stabilizer. It will keep the gas usable for up to 12 months.
  • Change the oil – Removing old oil and replacing it will keep the engine components lubricated and corrosion free.
  • Do an overall inspection – Make sure that spark plugs, seals and filters are clean and ready for use next spring.
  • Clean – Don’t store your lawn mower with grass clippings still in the undercarriage. Use a pressure washer to remove debris and then wipe the metal down with oil or lubricating product.
  • Store properly – Keep your equipment inside out of the elements, if possible. If not, then make sure to cover them with a heavy-duty tarp to keep them dry and rust free.

Service Equipment Now

Winter is a good time to have your equipment serviced by a professional. Why wait for spring when there is likely a long line of people waiting to get their lawn mower blades sharpened? Replace any part that may be starting to crack or dry out. A professional will help you keep your equipment in top shape for next summer.

Garden Hand Tools Need TLC, Too

We often forget about our small garden hand tools. These need to be winterized as well. Clean and treat them with an oil or lubricant to keep them from rusting. If your tools are already showing signs of rust, create an abrasive paste from table salt and lemon juice to remove the corrosion. Rinse the paste off thoroughly and dry. Coat tools with oil before storing.

Keep Sharp Tools Sharp

Sharpening your tools is easy. All you need is a small file or whetstone. Run the file along the edge of blades at a 45-degree angle to remove any nicks or rough spots, so they will be ready for the next growing season. Remember, sharp tools need to be properly stored away from curious hands.

Disinfect Pruners Before Storing

Because you use your pruners to remove diseased growth from plants, they may be harboring bacteria. Wiping the blades down with alcohol or similar disinfectant will help avoid cross contaminating other plants come springtime. Do this before treating them with oil before storing.

Improve Storage Space

Now that it’s time to get your lawn equipment taken care of, we also see a DIY garage organizational project on your horizon. Install some peg boards along garage walls to hang your weed eater, blower and garden tools. Unused space in the rafters is great to store lawn furniture. With storage space at a premium (especially in a garage), think outside the box – literally. You’ll be surprised how storage-efficient your garage can be.

Expert Advice

From pressure washers to lubricating products like Lube-a-Boom Clear Spray, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tools and equipment for your home projects. For more helpful tips on how to get ready for the cold weather, check our blog post – Winterize and Maintain Your Outdoor Power Equipment. We also service a wide variety of Honda Power Equipment including mowers and tillers. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Need Hot Water & Heat? Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems

winterize hot water heater and furnaceIt is easy to forget about your hot water heater and heating system until they stop working. With a little preventative maintenance you can avoid impromptu cold showers and costly repair bills. Make sure to add draining your hot water heater and servicing your HVAC system to you winter preparations.

Flush your hot water heater once a year

Draining your hot water heater once a year will help keep that blessed hot water flowing. Sediment from minerals in the water, or sand and grit coming in through the municipal water lines, can settle at the bottom of the tank and hinder its efficiency. It will cause cracking and popping noises during the heating process. Flushing the tank will help extend its life.

How to drain your hot water heater:

  • Read the manufacturer recommended instructions on the side of the tank for your specific model
  • Turn water supply off
  • Turn off power – if you have a gas water heater, put it on the “pilot” setting, and if you have an electric tank make sure to turn it off at the circuit breaker
  • Let water cool overnight or use extreme caution when removing scalding water
  • Attach hose to drain valve at base of unit, extend hose outside house or into a bucket (use a good quality hose since hot water can cause worn hoses to leak)
  • Open a hot water tap in the house (preferably one on the floor above)
  • Open drain valve and drain some water into a bucket to determine the amount of sediment to be flushed out
  • Turn water supply on briefly to stir up remaining sediment, repeat until water draining out hose is clear
  • Close drain valve, refill tank, and turn on power/ gas to hot water heater (be sure to close the hot water tap you left open)
  • Check the valve opening at bottom of tank to make sure it is closed and there are no leaks

Extend the life of your furnace

The HVAC system in a home accounts for over 50% of total energy costs. Having your unit serviced before winter sets in will help to extend the furnace life, reduce energy bills and improve indoor air quality. The cost of a professionally done system tune-up will run between $70 -$100. Included in this service should be:

  • A check of all electrical connections
  • An examination the unit for fire hazards
  • A test for carbon monoxide leakage
  • An inspection and calibration of the thermostat
  • Lubrication of any moving parts
  • Inspection of the condensation drain to make sure it isn’t blocked

Beware of carbon monoxide leaks

Carbon monoxide leaks from a faulty furnace is dangerous. An estimated 500 people die and 15,000 are taken to the emergency room each year from exposure to this invisible gas. Symptoms are headaches, dizziness and nausea. Installing carbon monoxide and fire detectors in your home could help keep you and your family safe.

Change air filter every month

You can keep your HVAC running efficiently by changing the air filters once a month. It will keep the unit from overheating. Dirty filters worsen air quality and exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms. Pet dander can also accumulate in dirty filters and spread allergens throughout your home.

Programmable thermostats really save

One way you can help extend the life of your unit (and lower heating bills) is to install a programmable thermostat. It can help save you up to 10% on your energy bills. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer, you can see a noticeable difference in your bills. Check with your power company to see if there are any rebates available for upgrading your thermostat.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way

Waking up to a cold house or stepping into a cold shower is no one’s idea of a great way to start to the day. Draining your hot water heater, getting your HVAC serviced, and changing that dirty air filter can help you avoid unwanted repair bills. The goal is to stay warm this winter and with a little preventative maintenance you can do just that. For more helpful DIY tips check out our blog on preparing your home for winter.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From wet/dry vacuums and garden hoses to heaters, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Winterize Your Pool and Sprinkler System in 10 Steps

winterize your pool and sprinkler systemWith the weather getting cooler, the first fall frost won’t be far behind. Your lawn is slowing its growth and your pool is likely doing nothing but collecting leaves. Winterizing your pool and sprinkler system should be at the top of your to-do list.

1. Drain Irrigation Lines

Shutting off the water to your sprinkler system is the first step. Your main shut-off valve should be located in your basement or crawlspace. There are three different methods for draining the lines:

  • Manual drain
  • Auto drain
  • Blowout

2. Blowing Out is Best

To insure that you have removed all the water from your pipes, blowing out the lines is the most effective. Determine what type of lines you have – black polyethylene pipes or white PVC piping. The type line you have will determine how much pressure you can use to remove the water.

3. Too Much Pressure = Damage

Polyethylene pipes can withstand up to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch) while PVC can take up to 80 PSI. You will need to check your air compressor’s rating before you start. Too much pressure in your lines and you can seriously damage your pipes and valves.

4. Watch for Flying Debris

Connect the air compressor to the mainline just after the backflow device. Always keep at least one control valve open to avoid damaging the system. Start with the furthest sprinkler location and blow-out each line. Be careful of flying debris coming out of your lines. Wear safety goggles and keep clear of the valve during a blowout.

5. Insulate Exposed Equipment

Besides blowing out the lines, make sure you protect any equipment that may be exposed to the elements. The backflow prevention device is usually located outside near the foundation. The “bonnet” and “poppet assembly” inside this device can freeze and burst, causing costly damage. Wrap it with insulation and cover with a plastic bag. Duct tape the bag shut to keep out moisture.

6. Remember the Controller

Don’t forget to address your automated controller. Put it into “rain” mode, which will allow the timer to continue to run (saving your programmed settings) but shut off all the valves. If your controller connects to a pump, you may want to disconnect the power to it. You will lose your settings but the pump motor will not burn out from continuous use.

7. Preparing Your Pool for Winter

Winterizing your pool is a definite must-do. Clean all the debris from around and out of the pool. It’s important to leave water in your pool. Without the weight of the water, frozen ground can expand and cause a pool to rise up, cracking it. Lower the water level just below the mouth of your skimmer.

8. Cover Pool for Safety

Make sure the water chemistry is balanced to protect against staining and etching. Add a winterizing chemical kit to the water to keep it clear of algae. Cover the pool to keep out debris, inspecting the cover for any tears. To keep water off of the cover (and children safe), you may want to invest in an automated pump. Store all of your pool equipment (ladders and slides) to protect them from harmful weather damage.

9. Winterization Plugs Keep Water Out

As with your irrigation system, you need to drain all plumbing lines associated with your pool. After blowing the water out of the pipes, seal the line on the pool end to keep water from getting back into it. Many pools come with plugs specifically for winterization.

10. Winterize Filter, Too

Don’t forget about your filter. There is a plug at the bottom that will allow water to drain out. Open the air relief valve if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the “closed” position and remove the pressure gauge. Cover any exposed equipment with insulation and a plastic bag to keep moisture out.

Winterizing your pool and irrigation system keeps you from experiencing the headaches of ruptured water pipes and costly repairs. While ice sculptures created by a burst pipe might appear beautiful, your wallet will not think it is so spectacular. Save your money for more important things like suntan lotion and a new pair of shades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From leaf blowers and wet/dry vacuums to air compressors, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Fall Yard Clean-Up: Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses Fall Clean-UpOrnamental grasses add texture, form and movement to any garden design. Easy to grow, these versatile plants can be found everywhere from flower beds to borders. With just a little maintenance you can keep them adding interest to you garden for years to come.

3 Types of Ornamental Grasses

  1. Cool Season Grasses – Varieties like Fescue, Purple Moor and Blue Oak like the cooler temps of spring and fall. They go dormant during the summer heat. Plant them in the early spring.
  2. Warm Season Grasses – These plants prosper in summer and early fall. Hardy Pampas and Fountain Grasses can grow all the way until the first snow. Plant these in the late spring or early summer.
  3. Evergreen Grasses – These “grasses” actually have many grass-like traits. Sedges and Rushes are in this class. Because these varieties are never dormant, your best bet is to plant them in the spring to allow for stronger root development.

Which Grass Do You Have?

Ornamental grasses are either clumping or running (rhizome forming). Clumping grasses keep to themselves in nice mounds but do need to be divided to stay healthy. Running or rhizome grasses send out growth below the soil surface. They, too benefit from dividing. Some varieties can be very aggressive and will take over a flower bed if left unchecked.

Ornamental Grasses Add Interest to Winter Gardens

Depending on how neat you like your winter garden, ornamental grasses can offer interest to your yard, so consider leaving the foliage. Birds are attracted to the seeds, and frost can turn stalks into icy sculptures. The dead foliage helps to insulate the crown of the plant. Cut the plant back to about 4-6” in the early spring to encourage and speed up new growth. Avoid drastically cutting back the plants to avoid wounding them.

Watch Out for Sharp-Edged Leaves

Still wanting to trim your grasses back in the fall and winter? Be warned – maintaining ornamental grasses can be both easy and treacherous. Many species have very sharp foliage, so we recommend wearing a pair of sturdy leather gloves when attempting to cut them back. If the grass mound is large and established, then bundle the stalks together before cutting them. You will need a hedge trimmer or even a chain saw depending on the size of the plant. Deposit the handy dandy bundle of debris in your compost pile.

Divide and Conquer Your Ornamental Grass

When your grass has outgrown its current home, then it is time to divide your plant. Prepare yourself, this can be a workout depending on the size of your plant. The best time to do this is when you’ve just cut the stalks back. It will allow access to the crown. Here are some tips for successfully dividing your grass:

  • Lift and separate – For large clumps take a small ax or a sharp shovel and partition the crown of the plant into sections. You may need a crow bar to pry apart the pieces you have cut. Leave roots on each of the pieces, but plant them before roots dry out.
  • Shape it up – If you just want to rein in a mound from getting too large, trim around the outside of the plant. You can insert a sharp spade or shovel along the edges and separate sections of the grass away from the parent plant. Be sure to cover up the exposed edges with fresh dirt and mulch.
  • When the center dies – Older plants tend to die off in the center. One method is to break up the entire mound and re-plant some of the divided sections back in the original spot. Another is to “core out” the center of the plant and allow the surrounding healthy growth to fill in the bald spot.

A Little TLC Goes a Long Way

Ornamental grasses can break up the monotony in any garden. Just remember when tackling your fall yard cleanup, a little TLC can go a long way in helping your plants stay healthy and ready to put on a show next spring. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and garden projects. From hedgers and chain saws to shovels and wheelbarrows, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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