DIY Projects

They’re Coming! Take Steps Now to Battle the Bugs

They’re Coming! Take Steps Now to Battle the BugsMany bugs are dormant over the Winter months. Once Spring arrives, they are back in full force. While you are working on Spring yard projects, remember to practice some preventative pest control. Head pests off at the pass before they can invade your home and garden.

Boost Pest Control Effectiveness

Taking steps now will keep you bug-free in the Summer months ahead. Whether you choose chemical or natural pest control, you can take steps to boost their effectiveness around your home. Here are a few suggestions on where to begin.

7 Proactive Steps for Battling Bugs

  1. Remove standing water and fix leaks – Don’t give mosquitos a place to breed. If you have a water fountain, treat it with drop-in mosquito pellets. Keep your pump working because moving water does not allow them to lay eggs.
  2. Clean gutters – Avoid letting leaves block downspouts by cleaning them twice a year.
  3. Remove yard debris – Fallen piles of leaves and tree branches are prime hiding places for mosquitos and other pests. They also spread mold and fungus throughout your garden.
  4. Seal your home – Look for cracks in your foundation, around windows and exterior pipes. Bugs can use these to enter the home. Replace old door seals as well.
  5. Deny access to food – Hang bird feeders away from the house, keep pet food in airtight containers and make sure garbage cans have properly fitting lids.
  6. Fence your garden – Install a wire fence around your vegetable garden.
  7. Cover large openings – Use wire mesh or hardwire cloth to cover openings like attic fans and roof vents. This will keep squirrels out. Check chimney caps to see if they need to be replaced.

Leaks and Moisture Encourage Pest Problems

Pests are attracted to moisture. By eliminating leaks or other moisture issues you can solve the majority your insect problems. Start by inspecting your crawlspace and foundation for moisture seepage. Seal any cracks with caulk or compound cement. If you have a drainage problem around your foundation, consider re-grading the landscaping to drain water away. Channel downspouts in a new direction.

Be Careful Using Insecticides Around Pets and Children

Treating around the perimeter of your home with insecticide is one way to stop bugs from entering your home. Though many products claim to be safe for humans and pets, use caution when applying. Keep children and pets inside while spraying and then for a couple hours afterward to allow the chemicals to dry.

Go Natural with Your Pest Protection

If you are worried about harmful toxins in chemical pesticides, try some natural alternatives. Insecticide soaps are made from organic products and are quite effective. If you want to avoid spraying chemicals of any sort, here are a few ideas:

  • Plant Lavender or Rosemary near your patio or deck to ward off mosquitos.
  • Sprinkle Cinnamon in a child’s sandbox to keep ants out.
  • Mix white vinegar and water to spray on spiders and their webs.
  • Carry dryer sheets in your pocket to keep mosquitos and gnats away.
  • Sprinkle citrus peels around plants infested with mites or spiders.
  • Grapefruit rinds attract slugs; once they take hold you can throw them in trash.
  • Crushed Basil in your cabinets will deter cockroaches.
  • Use Ladybugs to get rid of aphids on your roses.

Welcome Natural Insect Predators to Your Garden

If you want to up the ante, invite natural predators like swallows, finches or even bats to share your garden. Install a bat house in a tree away from your home. Bats sleep during the day and hunt for insects at night. You will probably never see them, although you may notice a decrease in the number of mosquito bites you endure.

Don’t Let Insects Ruin Your Day

Be proactive in fighting pests this year. A few changes around the house can make all the difference. Take the time to treat for bugs now and keep them in check. Enjoy this Summer pest-free. This is your home, show those bugs who’s boss.

Expert Advice

From sprayer tanks and insect foggers to ladders and bobcats, our expert staff is ready to help you protect your home from pests. Looking for a natural way to battle bugs? Our blog, Keeping Critters at Bay Part 3 – No Poison Pest Control, has plenty of helpful, non-toxic suggestions for preventing bugs. 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, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Get Those Trimmers Out! Get Your Yard Back in Shape!

Get Those Trimmers Out! Get Your Yard Back in Shape!Now that Spring is here, many of you are diligently working time to reclaim your yard. Getting out those trimmers to cut back early flowering trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses will go a long way to improving the look of your garden.

To Prune or Not to Prune

Pruning isn’t just done in the fall. Some plants benefit from having their dead foliage left attached over the winter. This protects their tender roots. Still, pruning stresses plants. Wait until they have flowered and gone dormant before attempting it. Pruning a plant while it is actively growing invites pests, diseases and fungus to enter through the wound.

Plants to Trim Back Now:

  • Woody perennials – Plants like Artemisia, Buddleia and Lavender bloom on new growth. Pruning now encourages them to send out new foliage.
  • Evergreens – Some species don’t go dormant but do turn brown. Trim off these wilted leaves and apply some fertilizer.
  • Flowering trees – Most early blooming trees set their buds last fall so you are safe to prune now. Avoid taking more than a third off the branches.
  • Roses – Prune after flowering. Even species like repeat bloomers can benefit from tidying up. Remove dead or weak growth.

Ornamental Grasses – Adding Interest All Year Long

Ornamental grasses add beauty to the landscape year-round. If you left yours up over the winter (the birds thank you for that!), now may be the time to cut it back. It depends on the type of grass you have. Cutting your grasses back exposes the crown or base to sunlight and rain.

Two types of grasses:

  • Cool season – Varieties like Fescue, Ribbon grass, Feather grass and Tufted Hair-grass produce new shoots in the early Spring and flower by early Summer. Cut the dead growth back before new sprouts get too high. Avoid damaging the crown or base. This can kill the plant.
  • Warm season – Species like Japanese Blood grass, Maiden grass, Fountain grass and Pampas grass produce new growth in late Spring/early Summer and flower in late Fall. Since these grasses send up new stalks later, you have more time to cut them back. Rake out dead foliage from the base to allow the sun to penetrate.

Prepare for Battle When Cutting Ornamental Grasses

Cutting ornamental grasses can be a bit of a challenge, as these plants like to fight back. Many species have sharp-edged leaves, so be sure to wear heavy gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear when tackling them. Bind the stalks with rope in a couple of places to make for easier clean-up. With a hedge trimmer, cut the grass back by a third. Now is also the time to divide your plantings. Use a sharp-edged shovel to portion off root sections to transplant.

Give Your Garden a Little TLC

Pruning and freshening up your landscape will get your garden back in shape. Take the opportunity to inspect your plants and determine the ones that need a little extra TLC or fertilizer. Spring clean-up is a daunting job. Never fear, soon your hard work will pay off and the garden you missed all winter long will be a reality.

Expert Advice

Not sure what tool to use for a tough gardening job? Whether it is hedge trimmers and weed eaters or tree pruners and wheelbarrows, our expert staff is ready to recommend the best tool for the job. If you still need help organizing your gardening to-do list, Tackle Spring Clean Up in Your Yard With this Handy Checklist gives 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, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Give Your Yard a Greener Lawn

Give Your Yard a Greener LawnDo you love to mow grass? Do you take the appearance of weeds as a personal insult? Then you are suffering from Lawn Addictive Disorder (LAD). As a part of an ever-growing (but silent) community of lawn obsessed homeowners, you are chomping at the bit to fire up your lawn mower. We are here to help you manage these impulses and get ready for your favorite pastime. Forget baseball season, it’s mowing season!

Don’t Stress Over Your Grass

If you are a lifelong LAD sufferer, you spend a great deal of time stressing over the condition of your lawn. Grass doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety. If managed correctly, you will be cutting patterns across your lush sod soon enough.

Prepare for Mowing Season

  • Let the soil dry out – If your area receives a lot of rain and snow, let the soil dry completely before working it to avoid further compaction.
  • Test the soil – This helps determine the best fertilizer to add to soil. For more on the different supplements available, Get a Head Start on Spring Gardening with Fertilizer gives helpful suggestions.
  • Find the right time – Avoid rushing out to mow your grass right away. Allow it to grow to at least two inches before cutting it back by a third of the desired height.
  • Use a mulching mower – Adding grass clipping back to your lawn provides it with 25% of the nitrogen it needs. Don’t leave large clumps of clippings in your yard. It will kill the grass underneath and invite pests.
  • Sharpen mower blade – A dull blade will stress the grass and encourage disease.

Give Your Grass What It Needs – Nitrogen

Nitrogen helps grass build strong roots and lush leaves. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in early Spring to encourage growth and then again later to help sustain it through the Summer heat. Water at least one or two days following an application to make sure it gets to the roots.

Practice Good Lawn Maintenance

If obtaining a beautiful-looking lawn is keeping you up at nights, stop stressing. Practice good lawn management and you, too, can have a gorgeous green yard. Here are a few things you should do yearly to keep your turf true to form:

  • Remove thatch – This layer of dead grass and weeds can choke the root system. Rent a dethatching machine to remove it and rake up the debris. If your grass shows signs of disease, don’t add the clippings to your compost pile to avoid spreading them.
  • Aerate or plug Aeration machines pull plugs of grass and soil up allowing air, moisture and fertilizer to get to the roots. This helps soil that has been compacted during Winter.
  • Evaluate your soil – What your grass is planted in matters. Enhance your soil’s health by feeding it a layer of compost after you aerate. Work the organic matter into the plug holes with the back of a rake or stiff broom.
  • Water regularly – Allow your grass to dry out (almost wilt) between each watering. It will encourage the roots to grow deeper and tolerate drought better. Give grass at least one inch of water weekly.

The Best Weed Control is a Healthy Lawn

Face it, weeds happen. The best defense is keeping your grass healthy. A strong root system crowds out weeds. This is the best time to tackle weed issues, before they take over. Different weeds require different products. Ask your garden center for advice. Some herbicides like Round-up will kill everything (grass, flowers, even pets) so be careful when using.

Tackle Those Pesky Weeds

  • Spot treatments – Apply herbicide to broadleaf weeds. Spray dead spots with a fungicide early before it spreads. Thatching will help prevent this.
  • Dial sprayer – When the weed problem is widespread, add a dial sprayer to your hose to administer the herbicide over a wide area. Protect flowers and shrubs with plastic when you apply.
  • Broadcast spreader – Prevent crabgrass by applying a granular weed killer early in the Spring.
  • Dig them out – Sometimes the old ways are best! Use a garden knife to dig dandelions and creeping buttercups up by the roots. 

Obsess Less and Enjoy Your Lawn More

Living with your lawn obsession is possible, if you practice good grass maintenance. Make it your objective to enjoy your yard, not stress over it. Set your sights on loftier goals like cutting the pattern of your favorite baseball team into your front lawn. Your homeowner’s association will love it!

Expert Advice

From rakes and Honda mowers to dethatchers and aerator/pluggers, our expert staff is ready to help you with your lawn obsession. Do you need to re-seed your grass but are not sure how? Our blog, 3 Options for How to Replant Grass in Your Yard, has helpful DIY tips on the best method for 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Springtime Fertilizer for a Hungry Lawn and Garden

Springtime Fertilizer for a Hungry Lawn and GardenIs your garden calling you? If so, it is probably saying “Feed me, feed me”. In Spring, when everything is coming back to life, feed your lawn and garden. Finding the right time is the tricky part. Apply fertilizers after the last frost but not too early. Spring rains cause nutrients to leech away into the soil before your plants can see any benefit. Wait until you see the green popping through!

Why Fertilize?

If you have supplemented your soil with compost and organic matter over the Fall, you are ahead of the game. If not, no worries. Test your soil’s Ph level to determine what nutrients are needed. Don’t guess, it is easy to over-fertilize when using commercial chemical products.

When Do I Fertilize?

Are you giving your garden a good start or are you trying to increase the number of blooms and fruit you produce? Giving your garden what it needs depends on what stage of growth it is in. Established plants need less attention.

The two approaches to fertilizing:

  • Long-term – To replenish nutrients to the soil throughout the year.
  • Short-term – To feed plants now to promote growth.

Give Your Lawn a Nitrogen Rich Supplement

If you are wanting your grass to put on a show for you this summer, make sure the soil is rich in nitrogen. Winter weather can compact your soil and strangle your grass. Aeration allows for better drainage, improved oxygen levels and easier absorption of fertilizers. If you are laying new sod, give the soil a good dose of organic matter first.

Fertilizers Can Be a Mixed Bag

Choosing the right fertilizer is a chore all by itself. There are so many to pick from at the garden center. A good rule of thumb – organic fertilizers won’t contaminate the ground water and are less likely to cause damage if overused.

Types of Fertilizers

  • Compost – Use an aged mix to avoid plant burn. Work it into the top six inches of soil.
  • Manure – Avoid using fresh manure. It gives off heat and ammonia as it breaks down that can harm tender plants.
  • Chemical fertilizers – Use the right NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) blend depending on your needs. Add before planting to allow it to dissipate into the soil and not burn the roots.
  • Organic fertilizers – Consider trying bio-stimulants like liquid seaweed or kelp that you can spray directly on plants or soil and use monthly.

Show Your Garden Some Love

Supplement your garden’s soil before planting with bone, blood or fish meal. These are good options beyond the usual compost and manure. Vegetables will also need a slow-release fertilizer throughout the growing season. Start adding it after your plants have established and re-apply it every few weeks. You can also plant green fertilizers like clover, which will deter weeds and enrich the soil when it dies back.

Your Garden Will Thank You

Help your garden and lawn get off to a great start with fertilizer. Like you, it is ready for Winter to be behind it. Feed your lawn and plants the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Now, when you hear garden calling, it is probably saying thank you!

Expert Advice

From shovels and wheelbarrows to aerator/pluggers and Honda tillers, our expert staff is ready to help get your Spring yard projects started. Want more tips on growing the perfect lawn? Our blog, Planning for a Green Spring – Feed Your Lawn, will get you off to a great start. 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, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Gardening Season is Here! Time to Play in the Dirt

spring gardening checklistIf you are chomping at the bit to get outside and play in the dirt, your chance is almost here. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, our last Spring frost should be around April 18. After that, you should be good to go to get plants in the ground. Getting your Spring garden and yard checklist done means rolling up your sleeves and cleaning out those flower beds. Get busy, you have a lot to do!

Find Your Hardiness Zone

If you need reminding which hardiness zone you live in, you are not alone. Our state seems to be laid out like a jigsaw puzzle. Still, they say we are looking at 182 days of great gardening weather ahead, so bring it on!

Here are the hardiness zones for Indiana:

  • Zone 5B – Northern Indiana
  • Zone 6A – Central Indiana (and pockets of N. Indiana) including Indianapolis
  • Zone 6B – Southern Indiana

Top 10 Tasks for Your Spring Gardening Checklist

Get your Spring gardening checklist in order. Tackling some of the list now will give you more time to focus on planting new varieties once the last frost has passed. 

  1. Remove dead plants – If you didn’t do this during the Fall/early Winter, do it now.
  2. Test the soil – Harsh winters can deplete nutrients. Testing will let you know how to amend it before planting.
  3. Weeding and composting – Pull early weeds now before they take hold. Amend your soil with compost, manure or new top soil.
  4. Prune perennials – Many die back to the ground in the Winter. If you have dead growth stalks, don’t cut them until you see green at the base.
  5. Cut back ornamental grasses – Get rid of old growth.
  6. Roses – Inspect them for diseases and remove dead limbs.
  7. Trees and shrubs – Prune spring flowering plants after they have lost their blooms.
  8. Evergreens – Fertilize them with specially formulated food.
  9. Divide and transplant – Separate perennials to prevent overcrowding. Start a new bed or share the extra plants with friends.
  10. Mulching and edging – Give seedlings an opportunity to peek through before covering them up. Let the soil warm up and dry out slightly before adding mulch to avoid encouraging mildew. Edge your beds to keep grass at bay.

Outdoor To-do List Includes Repairs and Cleaning

Spring gardening projects are not limited to planting and mulching. Inspect your landscape for any basic repairs that are needed like dead tree removal or broken branches. Retaining walls may need shoring up or replacing. Bird feeders and chicken coops need cleaning. If you don’t have a compost bin, now is a great time to build one.

If you are as excited about the warm weather as we are, you won’t mind having a list of things to do. Are you ready to play in the dirt?

Expert Advice

Need a few more outdoor projects? This handy list, 11 Lawn and Gardening Tips for Spring, will round out your DIY to-do list. From Honda tillers and trimmers to edgers and wheelbarrows, we have what you need to tackle all of your Springtime gardening checklist. Let our expert staff help you find the right equipment for your DIY 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, spring checklist | Leave a comment

From Plain to Polished – Molding and Faux Beams Add Interest

DIY Project: How to Install Crown MoldingLooking for a weekend project that can quickly transform a room? Consider adding molding or faux ceiling beams. These decorative touches add architectural interest while giving any area a polished look. If you have a plain Jane room screaming for something more, decorative moldings and beams are just the ticket.

An Extra Set of Hands Always Helps

Decorative molding adds detail while making a room appear larger or taller. It can help you creatively transition from one material to another. With accurate measurements, precise cutting and an extra set of hands, installation is easy. Some molding materials like plaster require a skilled technique, which is why leaving it to the professional is the best option.

10 Types of Decorative Molding

  1. Casing – Covers the gap where a door frame or window meets the wall.
  2. Baseboard – This molding is used in addition to quarter-round to blend where the floor meets the wall.
  3. Crown – Also called cornice molding, it is used to blend where the walls meet the ceiling. Can give the illusion of height to a room.
  4. Chair rail – Originally meant to protect walls from furniture bumping them, the chair rail is often used to transition between two different wall coverings (for example, paint and wallpaper).
  5. Picture rail – If you don’t want to damage your walls with nails or hanging brackets, install a picture rail to display your artwork.
  6. Cove – This concave shaped molding is used like crown molding and is less ornate.
  7. Dentil – A style of crown molding with a pattern of evenly spaced blocks resembling teeth. Used in historical homes.
  8. Egg and dart – A pattern of crown molding that has oval egg shapes alternating with V-like darts. Styled after the facades of Greek temples.
  9. Batten – Also known as Board & Batten, this is used to hide the joints between wall panels.
  10. Bead and pearl – This crown molding style has a row of symmetrical spheres or pearls running along it. Often combined with other crown molding design elements like leaves, darts or spindles to form elaborate combinations.

New Materials Make Installation a Breeze

Molding is no longer just made from wood. In the past, trimming a curved wall would have been tricky. With today’s bendable substances, like flexible polyurethane, installation is a breeze. It cuts and mounts like wood molding yet conforms easily to whatever angle you need.

Most Common Materials Used for Molding:

  • Wood – The most popular material used, wood is affected by humidity, which will cause it to expand and contract. Use a flexible caulk on the joints to avoid gaps later.
  • Plaster – Beautiful, elegant and tricky to install. Leave this job for the professionals. Can run $25-50 per foot installed.
  • Flexible polyurethane – This lightweight, limber material cuts and installs like wood. It can also be painted or stained.
  • Lightweight polyurethane – Unlike wood, this product will not split or crack during installation.
  • Metal – Used with a metal tile ceiling, this crown molding comes pre-finished but can be painted. Pre-formed corners make installation easier.
  • Hollow PVC – Great for running cables or wires around a room so you don’t have to cut into your walls. Comes in 8 foot sections.

Faux Beams Create Visual Interest on Your Ceiling

Things are literally looking up for decorative molding. Designers are adding intricate molding designs on ceilings to give rooms a visual flare the way artwork does. Need more of a statement? Add drama with faux beams on your ceiling. Fashioned from wood or plaster, these beams can create a grid-like pattern or separate different spaces in an open floor plan.

Show Buyers You Have an Eye for Detail

Consider installing decorative molding or faux beams as your next DIY project. Finishing a room with these design features lets potential buyers know you have an eye for detail. Boost your home’s value by adding these decorative items today and reap the rewards at closing.

Expert Advice

From nail guns and miter saws to ladders and paint sprayers, our expert staff is ready to help you decide on your next DIY project. Need some additional design ideas for your home? Our blog, Tried and True Interior Decorating Tips, has great suggestions to get you fired up for your next project. 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, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Leave a comment

Select the Right Material for Your DIY Flooring Project

How to Start Your DIY Flooring ProjectNothing sends a household into a tizzy like hearing the phrase, “let’s redo the floors”. No doubt about it, flooring is a big-ticket item, one that can add value and appeal to your home. If you are looking for a transformative DIY project this year, consider replacing your floors.

What is Your Floor Telling You?

How do you choose the best flooring material for your home? By listening to what your floor is telling you. Take the time to look at your floor. Where are the problem areas? Are you replacing it for aesthetic reasons or because it wears in certain places? There are pros and cons for each flooring product, so assess your needs and make the right selection.

Considerations When Selecting Flooring

  • Foot traffic – Find the wear patterns on your floor, then decide on a durable material for the entire house or different materials in rooms with less traffic.
  • Insulation – You may hate carpet but it does keep the floor warm in the wintertime. Hardwoods are less insulating and will amplify sound throughout your home.
  • Sunlight – Direct sunlight can discolor and break down flooring like carpet fibers. Look for products with UV protective coatings or materials.
  • Overall use – If you have kids and pets, your floors get cleaned a lot. Select materials that don’t require special care and can tolerate spills.
  • Moisture resistance – A kitchen, bathroom or laundry room need flooring that will not warp when exposed to moisture. (Leaks happen!)
  • Allergy protection – Carpets trap dust, mold and pet dander, so avoid them if someone in your house has breathing sensitivities.

Don’t Let the Options Overwhelm You

If it has been a while since you shopped for flooring, the options available will surprise you. From exotic hardwoods and laminates to vinyl that looks like tile and tile that looks like wood, your choices can be overwhelming.

7 Basic Categories of Flooring

  1. Solid wood – Still one of the most popular choices, hardwood flooring is durable and can be re-finished. Buy pre-stained boards to make installation easier.
  2. Engineered wood – A veneer of real wood is applied to a plywood center. While cheaper than hardwoods, they still dent easily and scratch. Depending on the thickness and quality of the top veneer, the boards can be re-finished a few times before needing to be replaced.
  3. Laminate – It has a photographic applique over a plywood center. Laminate is easy to install, resists stains and is now available in waterproof versions. Unlike engineered wood, its veneer cannot be refinished.
  4. Vinyl – Durable and easy to install, vinyl is one of the least expensive materials to use. It comes in sheets, tiles and planks and is great for high traffic areas.
  5. Linoleum – This eco-friendly alternative to vinyl can take a beating and is pet-friendly. Made from solidified linseed oil, it contains no harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Available in sheets or rolls, linoleum has a life span of 20-40 years.
  6. Carpet – Stain-resistant, insulating and durable, it is still an economic option for homeowners. Not a good choice for allergy sufferers, though.
  7. Ceramic Tile – Great for areas that take a lot of abuse. While a very durable material, installation requires accurate measurements, cutting and grout protection.

Happy Feet, Happy Home

Selecting one material to use throughout your home may not be feasible. That’s OK! Designers are mixing flooring from room to room and even in the same room. Find what works for your family’s lifestyle and go for it. Your feet and your home will thank you.

Expert Advice

From flooring nail guns and sanders to linoleum floor rollers and tile cutters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your flooring projects. Just want to re-finish the wood floors you have? Our blog, What to Remember When Refinishing Your Hardwoods, has great tips to help keep you on track. 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, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Leave a comment

Give Your Deck a Facelift and Boost Your Home’s Value

how to build a backyard deckReady to tackle a DIY project that will increase the value of your home? Consider giving your plain looking deck a dramatic new facelift. By adding a few extra touches, you can give your family’s outdoor living space the wow factor they (not to mention prospective buyers) will love.

Does Your Deck Add to Your Home’s Appeal?

Adding a deck or renovating an existing one is one of the top five ways you can improve the value of your home. It even ranks higher than adding an additional bathroom! Ask yourself – does my deck add to the appeal of my home? A lackluster outdoor space does nothing to increase your family’s enjoyment or to catch a buyer’s eye. Take the next step and improve the look of your exterior by renovating your deck.

Before Renovating Your Old Deck:

  1. Pressure wash – A clean deck makes it easier to determine its condition.
  2. Inspect the structure – Are there cracked or rotten deck boards? Are the supports in good condition? If your deck is old and in bad shape, you may want to rebuild rather than trying to fix it.
  3. Re-finish – If your deck boards are in good shape, weather-proof it with a sealant. You should do this every couple of years.
  4. Determine your design/budget – Know how much you want to spend, then come up with a game plan and design ideas.
  5. Production – Decide if you want to do all of the work yourself or hire professionals like electricians or landscapers to do certain parts.

Improve How Your Deck Works for You

Think of ways to improve how your deck functions. Are there things you can add that will make dining outside easier? Do you want to create a mood (Zen and relaxing) or a feeling (romantic or rustic) in your outdoor area? Your deck project can run the gamut from adding design elements like cushions and pillows to constructing adjacent levels for seating.

Items That Dress Up Your Deck:

  • Lighting – If you like to cook outside, increase the lighting near your grill area. Add pod lights to the steps for added safety.
  • Railings –Use different materials like steel cables, glass panels, composite or vinyl to contrast the deck boards and add interest.
  • Additional entryways – To improve the flow and functionality, add another door onto the deck or a second set of steps to the yard.
  • Builtin seating – Add them around the perimeter to provide extra entertaining space.
  • Pergola or canopy – A shady place to sit and relax is always a winner.
  • Decorative planters – Build them onto the railing or as freestanding units that fill awkward or vacant corners.

A Wide Range of Materials are Available for Your Deck

If you do have to re-build all or sections of your deck, check out some of the new building materials available. While pressure-treated lumber is still the most commonly used material, composite and vinyl are gaining in popularity. They are durable, maintenance-free and often come with warranties but cost more than wood. Cedar, redwood and hardwoods like Ipe and Jarrah are fast becoming favorites due to the natural weathered patina they develop over time.

DIY Deck Spectacular

Give your deck a facelift and boost your home’s value. Add a few of our DIY projects to your Spring to-do list and transform a bland looking space into a spectacular entertainment area. Reap the rewards of your hard work well into the Fall and beyond. Party at your house!

Expert Advice

From pressure washers and post hole diggers to drills and band saws, our staff can help you choose the right tools to renovate or build your deck. Need advice on how to re-finish your space? Our blog, Seal and Stain Your Deck in 3 Easy Steps, has great tips on what you need for the final step of this DIY project. Don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by our store if you have questions about pricing or how to’s — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Leave a comment

Make Your Home a Smart Home with These Electrical Updates

If you’ve always envisioned living in a house where a computerized voice fulfills your every want or whim, then the future is here. Today’s technology is finally making life a little easier in the one place we need it, our homes. We’ve put together a list of easy DIY updates you can do around your abode to bring it into the 21st century.

Smart Home Electrical Updates

10 Wireless Devices for Your Smart Home

  • Smart Thermostat – They are as easy to install as the old thermostats and the control screens walk you through the set up.
  • Doorbell with Motion Sensor – Automatically know when a person is at your door and respond to them with your phone.
  • Accent Lighting – Some systems work with existing lamps and allow you to program them to shut on and off via your smartphone. You can also adjust brightness and color.
  • Irrigation Controller – You are no longer at the mercy of an old-fashioned timer, you can now use an app to control when the system runs and change it with weather conditions.
  • Garage Door Opener – Motion sensors automatically turn on lights and a timer will put the door down if you forget.
  • Security System – Most offer cameras and motion sensors. Decide if you want to monitor the system on your phone or have professional monitoring.
  • Home Electricity Monitor – This wireless device attaches to your breaker box and gives real time stats on your home’s energy usage.
  • Smoke & CO2 Detectors – They look like the old versions but these notify you on your phone if there is a problem.
  • Outdoor Lighting – Individual light fixtures now come with wireless features and an app to set timers from any device.
  • Electrical Outlets – These wireless plug-in devices allow you to control everything from the coffee maker to the TV from your phone. Some come with UPS outlets for charging that very busy smart phone of yours.

Consider a Controller Hub

Wireless devices can make life easier and save money but too many can be chaotic. Consider buying devices that work off a computerized voice controlled hub like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. These systems allow you to add on individual gadgets instead of buying single devices that you must control through multiple apps.

Upgrades Aren’t Just High Tech

Though it may not be high tech, consider upgrading your home’s basic electrical system. Every year over 51,000 residential fires are caused by electrical malfunctions. Install Arc Fault Circuit Interruption Outlets (AFCI), which shut off when an electrical arc or discharge is detected.

If you aren’t prepared to tackle electrical DIY jobs, do the prep work like running cables and installing wall boxes. Bring in a professional electrician to do the final power hook-ups and to make sure you are up to code.

Come Out of the Dark – Make Your Home a Smart Home

Modernizing your house is always a wise move. Advancements in technology can help make your home safer and more efficient. One last gizmo to mention may end many arguments around your house – it’s the motion-sensor toilet seat light. It lets you know the status of the seat with different colored night lights. Now that’s a device we can all get behind. Isn’t technology great?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right equipment for your next DIY home update. Looking to address some outdoor lighting issues? You can find plenty of handy DIY tips in our blog, 9 Easy Steps to Keep Outdoor Lighting Bright. 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.

Photo Credit: Hardware Journal
Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Leave a comment

Plumbing Upgrades Can Save Water and Money

Plumbing Upgrades Save Money & WaterWith several states experiencing years of severe drought, most notably California, water conservation is fresh on the minds of homeowners and elected officials. In 2016, stiffer Federal regulations on the flow rate for residential water usage went into effect. To reduce your water usage and save money, consider making some quick DIY upgrades to your home’s plumbing.

Stop Running the Water

Before getting into what to fix first, think about the gallons of water flowing down the drain while you run the water as you brush your teeth, wash your hands or do the dishes. The average person in the U.S uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Consider turning facets off while the tooth brush is working in your mouth or you’re lathering up your hands or scrubbing grease from pots and pans. We also lose 10 gallons of water a day to just to plumbing leaks.

What to Fix

  • Change out kitchen and bathroom faucets with newer, aerated models
  • replace older shower-heads
  • replace an older toilet with a new, low flow model
  • add a water displacement element to your old toilet’s tank
  • check the seals on your dishwasher for leaks

New Faucets are More Efficient

If your bathroom or kitchen faucets are looking old, why not replace them? Newer, more efficient models have built-in filters called aerators that reduce the flow rate. To add a separate aerator to an old fixture, unscrew the existing nozzle filter and screw in the new one. Many will come with new housing in case the old one is damaged when removing it.

New Shower-Heads for Even the Pickiest Bather

By simply changing your shower-head you can lower your water usage 25-60%. Older, low flow shower-heads have a flow rate of 5.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Today’s fixtures have a 2.5 GPM and provide a steady stream of water that will please even the pickiest bather.

2 Types of Shower-Heads:

  1. Laminar flow – emits individual streams of water
  2. Aerator – mixes air into the water stream for a softer spray

The Lowdown on Low Flow Toilets

Discussing low flow toilets used to be a dirty topic with homeowners due to the toilet’s lack of follow through. Today’s toilets aren’t your grandmother’s loo. They now use as little as 1.6 GPF (gallons per flush) compared to the old ones, which used 7 gallons.

4 Varieties of Toilets:

  1. Gravity assisted – based on the original design but are more efficient
  2. Pressure assisted – pressurized air in the tank forces water out through bowl
  3. Motor assisted – small 0.2 horsepower motor helps flush the system
  4. Dual-flush – 2 GPF selections; one low (0.8 GPF) and one high (1.6 GPF)

All these different toilets come in standard styles and require the same mounting materials as the old-fashioned ones, with one exception: motor assisted toilets require electrical power for the small motor.

Add a Water Displacement Element to Your Old Toilet

Not ready to replace your old toilet just yet? Consider adding a water displacement element to your tank. Before you go out and buy something, try putting a small half gallon plastic bottle filled with sand into the tank instead. The theory is to use less water in the tank but to keep enough for it to flush.

Save on Your Water Bill with Plumbing Upgrade

Sometimes, the littlest changes bring about the biggest results. You can save water around your home by upgrading your plumbing to more efficient fixtures. These quick, easy DIY projects will help cut your water bill and reduce your overall consumption. Happy flushing.

Expert Advice

From cordless flashlights and wet/dry vacuums to caulk cutting saws and right-angle wrenches, our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right equipment for your next DIY plumbing project. Need to know how to replace a faucet? Our blog, Two Quick and Easy In-Home Plumbing Repairs, has helpful tips that will make the installation a breeze. 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, How-To's, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Leave a comment

Tried and True Interior Decorating Tips

Tried and True Interior Decorating TipsAre you envious of the interior designers on television and how easily they take a room from dull to dazzling? Never fear, by following a few tried and true design rules, you too can make your home décor stand out. Now roll up your sleeves, we have work to do.

5 Ways to Decorate Like a Pro

  1. Choose a color palette – Decide on the colors you want to feature throughout your house. Next, review each room to see how to best utilize your chosen color scheme in that space and formulate a plan.
  2. Create a focal point – When you walk into a room what catches your eye? It could be anything – a fireplace, artwork or an area rug. Use this item as your centerpiece and create your design around it.
  3. Assess your room’s lighting – Install different fixtures around a room like recessed ceiling lights, spotlights and under cabinet puck lights, which add warmth and showcase your décor.
  4. Add interest to a room – Not everything needs to be matchy matchy. Use a variety of different textures and shades from your color scheme to paint the walls and furnish the room. Look for interesting ways to arrange your furniture.
  5. Use paint to stage a room – Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to help display artwork or photographs on an accent wall. Painting the inside of a bookcase will help it stand out and not blend in. Paint the ceiling, crown molding, even floors a variation of wall color or a complimentary color.

Reinvigorate Your Kitchen with a New Backsplash

If you want to reinvigorate your kitchen without totally remodeling, consider installing a new backsplash. Use inexpensive tin ceiling tiles, wooden bead board, wallpaper, stainless steel, chalkboard or magnetic paint to give the busiest room in the house a new look.

Ready to get those tools out?

Here are some easy decorating ideas for you to try:

  • Install a new bathroom faucet
  • Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets
  • Add a chair rail or wainscoting to a room
  • Hang a chandelier in your laundry room
  • Install crown molding
  • Use wallpaper on an accent wall
  • Turn a closet into a home office or craft space

Before Buying, Repurpose Old Stuff

Unless you just prefer to start from scratch with new furnishings, find creative ways to repurpose items you already have. An old armoire can double as a china cabinet once you remove the doors and add glass shelves. A dresser can be turned into a bathroom vanity by mounting a sink on top. Build a new headboard using old doors, shutters or wooden fencing to create a one-of-a-kind bed.

Stay Focused and Express Your Style

Interior decorating is about expressing your style. As a DIYer, you have the added advantage of cutting out the middle man (the contractor) and doing the work yourself, thus saving money. Come up with a plan of attack and work on one room at a time. Write down your design goals to help you stay focused. Forget those TV experts, you have the best designer working on your house already – you.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to nail guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. Still wondering if painting will make a difference? Our blog, Give New Life to Your Walls with a Quick and Easy Paint Job, will convince you to get the roller and brushes out. 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.

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

Seasons Change and So Should Your Filters

Seasons Change and So Should Your FiltersBefore settling in for a long winter, consider improving your home’s air and water quality by changing the filters throughout the house. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the average person spends nearly 87% of their life indoors and that the air inside our homes is often worse than the air outside. We are exposed to higher concentrations of airborne pollutants including cold and flu viruses in our home than anywhere else.

Harmful Allergens Lurk in Your Household Dust

Household dust can contain everything from lead and formaldehyde to allergens like dust mites, pollen, mold and pet dander. Children and the elderly are especially sensitive to poor indoor air quality, which is why keeping filters clean is so important.

Here are 9 filters you should check and/or change before cold weather arrives: 

  • Furnace – Proper filter replacement can help keep it working properly. When removing a filter on an old system, note the direction it was installed. Some only work when placed with the airflow going one way.
  • HVAC – Central air and heat systems need to have the filters changed every 3 months and if you have pets, every 2 months.
  • Dryer – Clean the filter after every load. Once a year have the hose running from the dryer to the exterior wall vacuumed to prevent buildup and fire hazards.
  • Humidifier – Some heating systems have them attached so you may want a professional to service them. For free-standing humidifiers, frequently clean the unit and replace the filter to avoid mold and bacteria growing. A healthy humidity level in a home is between 30-50%.
  • HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) – Newer, energy efficient homes have air exchange systems that use warm indoor air to heat fresh colder air. Since contaminants can be recirculated back into the home keeping the filter changed is key.
  • AC Housing – The grill on an outdoor unit serves to keep air flowing inward and heat dissipating. Keeping it free of leaves and debris allows your system to run smoothly.
  • Water Filters – Water purifying systems have a sensor to tell you when the filter needs to be changed but we often ignore it. Change this twice a year to keep mold and bacteria from building up.
  • Refrigerator Water/Ice Maker – Just like the purifying system on the kitchen sink, the water filter on the refrigerator gets overlooked until the ice or water develops an odor or tastes bad. Letting your filter go too long can result in costly repairs or replacement.
  • Range Hood – Made of stainless steel, these filters collect grease and food particles from cooking. Scrubbing with warm soapy water and baking soda routinely will keep grime from building up on your fan motor.

Clogged filters can cause:

  • appliances to operate inefficiently.
  • AC cooling coils to freeze from lack of airflow.
  • heating and cooling costs to rise.
  • unhealthy air to be re-circulated throughout home.
  • HVAC systems to fail resulting in costly repairs.

Breathe Easier by Replacing Your Filters

By replacing your air and water filters, your home will be healthier and operating at maximum efficiency. Set a reminder on your phone to help you keep track of when to change them out. Remember to date the new filters before installing. Don’t let replacing an inexpensive filter cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Change is a good thing.

Expert Advice

From dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to ladders and vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help you keep your home comfortable and safe. Want to stay warm this Winter? Our blog, Need Hot Water/ Heat – Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems, has tips for helping you stay toasty when cold weather arrives. 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.

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

Change Up Décor for Winter in 5 Simple Steps

Change Up Décor for Winter in 5 Simple StepsAre you ready to change the interior design in your home? If you want to mix things up (and don’t want to break the bank) consider doing small tweaks to your existing style. Many people like to change their décor with the seasons or the holidays so if you want to try something different, we’re here to help.

1. Let Your Fireplace be the Focus

Switching out your décor is simple. Decide which rooms you want to change and focus on how you want to convey the Winter season. One way to change the design is through the furniture layout. Grouping your chairs and sofa around a fireplace communicates a cozy relaxed feeling. Before you start moving furniture, remember to save your back and use a dolly for the heavy items.

2. Introduce Seasonal Colors into Your Design

Bring the colors of the season into your design. Fall colors of golden yellow, burnt orange and rich forest green are all great options. Want more of a change? Work Winter hues of white, gray and steel blue into your existing décor by adding pillows, throws and rugs. If your original couch color is not working with your new design direction, buy a slipcover.

3. Bring on the Warm and Fuzzy

Creating a cozy atmosphere is the main decorating theme for Winter. Colder temperatures make you want to curl up in bed with a good book. Think layers and textured for you new additions. Here are a few suggestions for how to make your bedroom more warm and fuzzy:

  • Switch out linens – go for soft cottons or flannel
  • Layer your blankets and quilts – plush, fur lined throws are perfect for keeping the chill away.
  • Add some colorful pillows – Pops of color keep things interesting.
  • Place new rugs around – Try layering rugs over your hardwood floors to provide warmth and interest.
  • Hang new drapes – Choose thicker fabric to help insulate the windows. You can hang them over the existing shades or sheers.
  • Include seasonal scents – Cinnamon, evergreen, or apple spice are all smells we associate with the Fall and Winter months. Burn candles or use essential oils in a humidifier.

4. Don’t Leave Out the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the easiest to redecorate. Change out the towels, rugs and shower curtain and voilà, you have a whole new look. Lay out scented soaps and body washes for guests to use. A new soap dish, trash can and laundry hamper can help tie the look together. If you don’t want to buy new ones, try spray painting your existing ones to coordinate.

5. Cozy Up to Your Winter Décor

Soon the chilly temperatures will have us staying inside more and more. Why not freshen up your living space by changing your décor. It is an easy, inexpensive way to breathe life into a tired design and it’s fun, too. Break out of your rut and get cozy with your Winter décor.

Expert Advice

From drills and air nailers to ladders and dollies, our expert staff is always on hand to help you accomplish your home decorating ideas. Want to focus on sprucing up the house for the holidays? There are some great ideas in our blog, 9 DIY Projects That Inspire Holiday Decorating and Entertaining, to help get you into the spirit of the season. 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.

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

Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and BatteriesMany of us don’t remember to replace light bulbs or batteries until we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark or waking to the mysterious beeps of a smoke alarm at 3 am. Getting into the practice of checking and replacing them at certain times of the year will help you avoid these unfortunate surprises. Lots of people use daylight saving time as a reminder. “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward” also signal a check of batteries and light bulbs around the house. Others use the change of seasons as a prompt for a light and battery check four times a year.

Light Bulb 101

Picking the right light bulb is a science these days. Incandescent bulbs (like the one Edison introduced) used to be the only choice. Now, we have CDLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes). Which one should you buy? Don’t focus on the type of bulb (they are all energy efficient) but rather the lumens it emits. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb. Here’s a handy chart to use when selecting a light bulb:

  • 40 watts – 450 lumens
  • 60 watts – 800 lumens
  • 75 watts – 1100 lumens
  • 100 watts – 1600 lumens

Well Lit Means Well Protected

Keep your house properly lit inside and out to provide a high level of security. Look around your home for the light bulbs that need to be replaced. This list will get you started on your search:

  • Appliances – Check the refrigerator, oven and microwave.
  • Front door – Add a dawn to dusk fixture to keep the bulb from burning out so often.
  • Flood lights – Inspect areas around the perimeter of the house where you don’t frequent.
  • Driveway and walkways – If you have individual lights lining the walkways or driveway, check for ones that have burned out.
  • Garage light – If you get home before dark, you may not know it is out. 

Be Sure to Check Your Smoke and CO2 Detectors

Batteries, like light bulbs, are usually forgotten until needed. With winter weather approaching it is a good time to check your home’s batteries to make sure everything is in working order. Some important items like lifesaving smoke and CO2 detectors often go unnoticed so check them twice a year.

Check and replace these batteries:

  • Flashlights
  • Smoke and CO2 detectors
  • Security systems
  • Car battery
  • Storm weather radios

Check Your Security System’s Battery

You may not realize that your security system has a back-up battery. Because these batteries are built to last, you may never have replaced it. Consult your owner’s manual to see how to check its power status, what type of battery your system uses and how to install it. Storm outages can drain them so make sure to check them to stay secure this winter.

Keep Those Flashlights Ready

While we are on the topic of storms, it is always a good idea for flashlights and storm radios to be charged. A battery-operated alarm clock comes in handy when overnight storms knock out the power. If power is out for a while your cell phone battery may give out, too. Consider keeping a charged battery pack or solar powered charger available.

Tired of Being in the Dark? Get a Portable Generator

If being without of power is something you experience every Winter, consider buying a portable generator. They come in a variety of sizes so decide what appliances you want to keep running (refrigerator, stove, heater) to help you pick. There are UPS (uninterrupted power supplies) for your electronics that will help you stay connected and protect them from power surges when electricity comes back on.

Stay Safe – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t get left in the dark. Take the time to check and replace light bulbs and batteries around your home. These little tasks can help keep you safe and protected all year long.

Expert Advice

From drills and ladders to portable generators and floor jacks, our expert staff is always on hand to help you secure your home and car for whatever Winter throws at them. Want more tips on getting ready for cold weather? Our blog, 4 Cold Weather Basics: Winter Storm Emergencies Pt. 4, has helpful information on what to do during severe weather. 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.

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

Outdoor Winter Preparations – Don’t Let Old Man Winter Catch You Napping

Outdoor Winter Preparations – Don’t Let Old Man Winter Catch You NappingIt seems like Fall is getting shorter and shorter every year, so take advantage of the weather while you can and get a few items checked off your Winter prep list. Making sure your home and yard are properly prepared for cold temperatures will give you peace of mind later.

Goodbye Garden

It’s sad when we say goodbye to our gardens but prudent preparations now will make things a lot easier come Spring. Winter can wreak havoc on your outdoor space so store items now that can be affected by freezing temperatures. Here are a few things to add to your to-do list:

  • Trim trees and shrubs
  • Aerate your grass
  • Till garden beds
  • Compost leaves
  • Clean soil out of flower pots and store them
  • Dig up bulbs, place in dry place
  • Divide your perennials
  • Winterize garden power tools
  • Store clean rakes, hoes, trimmers

Think Compost Bin This Year

Make this year the one where you start a compost bin. They are easy to build and you will reap lots of rewards from the black gold it generates. If you want to learn more about composting, check out our blog, 10 Good Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin, and find out how it can help your garden and the environment.

Prepare Outside Your Home for Dropping Temperatures

Cold weather likes to remind us of the little things we forget to address before the needle drops – like water spigots and hot tubs. List all the small stuff outside that needs to be readied before Old Man Winter arrives – and get ‘re done. We’ve listed a few items to get you started.

  • Pressure wash and store lawn furniture
  • Cover outside water faucets
  • Inspect and clean your gutters
  • Winterize outdoor sprinkler systems, pools and hot tubs
  • Cover or remove window A/C units
  • Put up storm doors and windows
  • Have HVAC system serviced
  • Drain and store garden hoses
  • Inspect driveway for crack and seal
  • Remove wind chimes, yard art and flags that can be damaged in storms
  • Winterize hot tub

Start Winterizing Your Garden and Home Now

Avoid the problems cold temperatures bring by preparing for harsh Winter weather now. A list of DIY projects to do this Fall is an easy way to make sure things get accomplished. By winterizing your garden and the outside of your home, you are protecting them and saving yourself from costly repairs. It’s a win-win for a DIYer like you.

Expert Advice

From rakes and ladders to pressure washers and tillers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for the cold weather. Not sure what else you need to do to close out your garden?

Our blog, Fall Checklist Pt. 1: Garden Clean Up – Winterization, has tips on making sure your perennials survive until Spring. 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips for the Kitchen

Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips for the KitchenIn the coming weeks, your kitchen is going to get a real workout. Before your holiday cooking marathon begins, take time to give it a thorough cleaning so you can focus on what’s important – family and friends.

The Big Chill Gets a Big Purge

First thing on the agenda is cleaning out the refrigerator. Make room for your holiday dishes by purging expired containers and leftovers. Wipe the shelves with soapy water and add a new box of baking soda. Clean the condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator to help it run more efficiently. First, turn the power off before pulling it out (be careful not to disconnect the water line from the ice maker). Vacuum the dust off the coils, then slide it back and turn the power back on. Wipe down the front, sides and top of your refrigerator to finish.

A Clean Oven is a Happy Oven

You are about to use your oven non-stop. Starting with a clean one will make final clean-up easier – plus it will likely run more efficiently, too. Clean the inside of the oven by using the self-cleaning feature or by using a little elbow grease. Wipe down the wire racks as well as the outside. Depending on the kind of stovetop you have, clean out the burners or polish the cooking surface.

Stuff to Help Your Kitchen Clean-up Shine 

  • Donate mismatched dishes and glassware – A beautifully set table will impress your guests.
  • Get rid of old appliances – If your toaster oven has seen better days, now is the time get a new one.
  • Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures – Clean the ceiling fan blades by using an old pillow case. Put the blade inside the case to catch the dirt. Use a ladder when vacuuming light fixtures.
  • Clean the microwave – Put a bowl of water with lemon slices inside to heat for 3 minutes. The steam will loosen food particles and the lemons get rid of odors.
  • Restock the pantry – Don’t wait until you start cooking to find you are missing something. Take an inventory to see what you need. Replace anything that looks old or has an expired freshness date.
  • Sharpen your knives – Have a professional do this or purchase a whetstone and learn how.
  • Round up serving utensils – Do you have what you need? Purchase any ladles, slotted spoons, tongs or cake servers you might need. Don’t forget a wine opener.
  • Check the fire extinguisher – Accidents do happen so be prepared. Make sure you have a first aid kit handy. Are your smoke and CO2 detectors working properly?
  • Polish the silver – If you are planning to use Grandma’s silverware, wash and polish the pieces ahead of time.
  • Childproof your home – Are you expecting small children to be at your house over the holidays? Look for any potential trouble spots in the kitchen and your home. Safety plugs and bumpers for sharp corners are always helpful.
  • Clean trash cans – A big dinner creates a lot of garbage so disinfect your cans ahead of time and have a stash of extra bags ready for the event.

Check the Dishwasher Drain and Door Seals

There is no good time to discover that the dishwasher leaks but with a little preventative maintenance you can keep your holidays dry. Check the drain for any food that might clog it. Clean the door gasket and check to see if the seals have deteriorated. Fill the detergent cup with white vinegar and run a cycle to clean the inside.

Create a Bright, Shiny Work Space for the Holidays

Giving your kitchen a massive cleaning before the holidays might seem counterproductive since it is going to get messed up anyway. There is a method to our madness. Going into this busy time with a bright and shiny work space allows you to focus on your recipes and your company. A spotless, fully stocked kitchen is less stressful for you and makes cleaning up after guests leave a lot easier. So, scrub now, relax later. Happy Holidays!

Expert Advice

From ladders and vacuums to banquet tables and folding chairs, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your holiday preparations. Worried about how to put your house back together after everyone leaves? Our blog, Turn Post Holiday Clean-up into a Fresh Start for Your Home, is the perfect game plan for the New Year. 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.

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

Let a Lighting Makeover Bring Your Décor into Focus

how to make over an antique light fixtureHow many times have you finished painting a room only to look up and see an outdated light fixture staring back at you? Often overlooked, lighting can make or break a room’s décor. Rather than buying a new chandelier (at a premium cost) challenge yourself to refurbish an antique fixture and install it! It’s easier than you think.

A Thrift Store Treasure Lights the Way

Scour your local thrift or reclaimed hardware stores for the perfect lighting fixture. Once you find the size, shape and material you want, fire up those creative juices and get started. Decide whether you want it to blend with the colors of the room or serve as a focal point by giving it a pop of color.

What You Need for an Antique Light Makeover:

  • Mask and safety goggles – Protect yourself from spray paint mist.
  • Drop clothes –Paint mist gets on everything, so cover furniture, built-ins, etc. left in the room. Cardboard boxes make great paint booths.
  • Spray paint/primer – Apply in a well-ventilated area where there is no dust or moisture. Fans directed away from the spray zone can help dissipate fumes.
  • Painter’s tape
  • Screw driver
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Pliers
  • New electrical lighting elements (if needed) – Replace old wiring if worn.

Add Some Bling to Your Refreshed Chandelier

Decide on how you want your light fixture to look. Do you want to add crystals or other decorative items? Do you only want to use some of the elements of the chandelier? Do you want a high gloss or matte finish paint? Let your creativity shine and experiment with the look of your room.

5 Steps for Transforming an Antique Light Fixture

  • Clean the chandelier – The surface needs to be free of dirt, grime and oil for the paint to adhere.
  • Take it apart – Remove the wiring and anything else that isn’t getting painted. Hint – as you take the fixture apart, keep the pieces in the proper order, so you can re-assemble it easily.
  • Tape it – Anything that is not being painted like the light bulb sockets, glass panes or crystals should be covered.
  • Paint – Spray paints are the easiest. Apply 3-5 light coats. Heavier coats will run. Sand lightly between coats, especially if you have drips.
  • Allow time to dry – Humidity and temperature will affect drying time so don’t rush it.

Installation Time!

Turn the power off at the electrical box and remove the old light. If the current receptacle is old, you may need to add a coupler to lengthen the mounting screw enough to accept the new light. Connect the wires. Screw the new fixture into the coupler flush to the ceiling. Be bold and add some industrial style light bulbs to add a new twist.

Get Inspired by Repurposing Old Items

Repurposing old items is about using your imagination in ways that save you money and beautify your home. Look around for inspiration and challenge yourself to take on more creative DIY home projects. Remember, there are no mistakes in artistic repurposing endeavors, only new opportunities.

Expert Advice

From ladders and fans to precision rotary tools and detail sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next home decorating idea. Ready to tackle more DIY projects? Find new ways to spruce up your abode with our blog, Use Your Home as a Canvas to Express Yourself. 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.

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

The Versatile Wooden Pallet – Who Knew You Could Make That?!

how to diy a pallet wine rackAh, the versatile wooden pallet! If you love to re-purpose found items, then you know about these multi-talented platforms. The internet is filled with how-tos on making everything from lawn furniture to dog houses. However, our favorite project is a wine rack with a glass holder on the bottom. It has our DIY name written all over it!

Wooden Pallets Easy to Find

Why buy lumber for your projects when you can repurpose wooden pallets? If you don’t have them on hand, check with your local stores. These shipping platforms are everywhere; you just have to look for them.

Wine Anyone?

Creating a wine rack out of a wooden pallet is easy and inexpensive. The toughest decision is what size to make it. For a small rack that will hold two to three bottles and four average sized stemmed wine glasses, you will only need to use half of a pallet.

8 Easy Steps for Building a Wooden Pallet Wine Rack

  • Cut the pallet – Use the end section for the base and cut it to the height you want. The standard width of a pallet is 40 inches so adjust it to the width you need.
  • Remove extra boards – Take two boards from the discarded portion of the pallet to use at the bottom of the rack. One board will be the bottom of the shelf where the bottles go and the other will separate the shelves.
  • Create spacers – Cut three 1 x 1 pieces to go between the bottom board for the glasses and the bottom of the wine bottle shelf. You need room to slide the glasses on and off the shelf.
  • Sand the boards – Pallet wood is notoriously rough and splintered, so use a 120 grit sandpaper for smoothing and a 220 grit paper to finish.
  • Openings for glasses – Use a jigsaw to make cuts in the bottom board for the glassware stems. Space them about 4 inches apart.
  • Assemble – Make sure your rack is sturdy by reinforcing the wine bottle shelf with an extra board. Use 2-inch nails and 3-inch wood screws to hold the board together.
  • Finishing – Stain the wood or paint it. If you choose to stain, keep in mind that sanding softens the wood and will cause it to soak up a lot of stain. Due to the rough wood, you will need to work the stain into the cracks and crevices with a cloth or brush.
  • Hanging the rack – Mount it directly into your wall studs to support the weight of the bottles and glasses. Add felt bumper pads to the backside to keep it from scuffing your wall if bumped.

Other Projects to Make with Wooden Pallets

  • Outdoor furniture like sofas and chairs
  • Patio dining table
  • Garden potting table
  • Headboard for a bed
  • Vertical wall garden
  • Dog house

Save Money and the Environment by Repurposing

Repurposing old wood from pallets helps keep them out of our landfills and saves you money. They add rustic charm to the home and garden. Stop wishing for new patio furniture or flower containers and start building what you need with wooden pallets. There are so many DIY projects to use these wooden wonders on – your Winter to-do list may stretch into Spring.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to jigsaws and orbital sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Still wondering what you can do with the wooden pallets around your house? Check out our previous blog, Summer Garden Update 2 – Garden Boxes Add Pizzazz to Planting, to help get those creative DIY juices flowing. 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.

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

Go Green – Plant a Living Privacy Fence

how and why to plant a privacy hedgeWe’ve all experienced it. The horrible view from our kitchen window staring straight at a neighbor’s hot tub. While they may be nice people, do you really want to intrude on their private time? Go green! Plant your privacy fence rather than building one. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you make it happen.

Hedges Add Interest and Privacy

If you want more privacy or to add interest to your landscape, a privacy hedge is the ticket. A living fence does much more than just shelter you from prying eyes.

A Privacy Hedge:

  • blocks noise coming from the street and neighborhood.
  • acts as a natural windbreak.
  • can be a snow fence, reducing snow build up around your house.
  • turns your garden into a secluded retreat.

Location Dictates Plants to Use

Starting a privacy hedge will take patience. While there are fast growing varieties of trees, shrubs and vines, none will reach the height or thickness you desire quickly. The location of your fence dictates the size and type of trees and shrubs to use.

Avoid Excessive Maintenance

An important consideration is how much time you want to devote to maintaining your hedge. In formal gardens boxwoods and other shrubs need to be regularly groomed to maintain their precise shapes. If this is not for you then select plants that give you the natural shapes you desire.

How to Plant a Privacy Hedge

  • Select the type of tree or shrub that works best for the location – Do you want it to provide a screen all year long (go with an evergreen)? Or do you want it to flower and give you privacy during certain times of the year?
  • Decide on the height – Set up a ladder to help visualize the approximate height of the plants needed. If you want a 6-foot tall fence, then planting a tree that grows 10-15 feet is only going mean more maintenance.
  • Determine the width – If you have limited space, select trees and shrubs that can be planted closer together. Some species need more room for roots to spread in order to thrive.
  • Density – If you want a thick hedge, plant several staggered rows, which will allow them to fill in.
  • Map it out – Don’t eyeball your planting. Mark off a row with paint or wooden stakes and string to keep your hedge straight.
  • Train your plants – Trim the tops and sides a few times a year after they establish. Keep the shape wider at the bottom than the top to allow sunlight to reach lower leaves.

Fast Growing Plants Can Often Be Invasive

There are many popular plants to use in making a privacy hedge. Most will take one or two seasons to fully establish. Be careful when selecting fast growing plants like bamboo and Japanese Barberry. Some varieties are considered invasive and may not be approved for use in your community.

Best Trees and Shrubs for Hedges 

  • Arborvitae
  • Boxwood
  • Flowering Quince
  • Sawara False Cypress
  • Japanese Euonymus
  • Holly
  • Juniper
  • Privet
  • Oleander
  • Variegated False Holly
  • Korean Lilac
  • Hybrid Yew
  • Canadian Hemlock
  • Rose of Sharon

Vines Good Option for Privacy Screens

Use wire fences or screens that serve as supports for vines like Ivy, Clematis or Hops. Privacy hedges can also be used to hide compost bins or those large green power boxes.

Skip the Bland Privacy Fence and Go Green!

A living privacy hedge is a great way to add color and texture to your garden while providing the privacy you crave. Before you get out the post hole digger and invest in a bland white fence, think about the eco-friendlier option. Soon the sight of your Speedo clad neighbor stepping into his hot tub will be a distant memory.

Expert Advice

From wheelbarrows and shovels to trimmers and tillers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Looking for other Fall gardening projects? Our blog, Landscaping Ideas to Create a Fabulous Fall Yard, has some great suggestions for ways to spruce things up around your home. 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Use the Ombré Technique on Accent Walls

How to Paint an Ombre Accent WallThinking of painting an accent wall? Consider trying the ombré painting technique. This easy method of blending similar colors from light to dark adds interest to any room. Get your paint brush ready. It’s time to channel your inner artist!

Keep Your Paint Choices Simple – But Have Fun

Selecting the colors to use is always a tough decision. Keep your choices simple. Pick a main color and two other shades from the same paint sample strip. If you want to be adventurous, try an analogous color scheme where each hue is similar but slightly different. Pick up an artist’s color wheel to help you select the best companion colors (those side by side on the wheel). Select at least three colors – one light, medium and dark.

Supplies You Need

  • 3-inch or 4-inch paint brushes: have several on hand to blend the different sections
  • Paint sprayer: to use for the primer base color
  • Rollers: for the three major segments
  • Paint trays: one for each main color and the colors you mix for blending
  • Bucket of water
  • Sea sponge (optional)
  • Painters tape, drop cloth, paper towels

Make it Easy – Use a Base Paint with Primer

Prep work is key so tape or cover all molding, fixtures and floor. Make sure the wall is clean. Cut down on your workload by selecting a paint that contains primer. Paint the entire wall with the lightest color. You can use a paint sprayer for this step but switch to a roller to paint the different bands. Once dry, mark off three sections leaving a six-inch space in between each area.

5 Steps for Painting an Ombré Accent Wall

  1. Paint each section. The darkest color is on the bottom, the medium shade in the middle and the lightest on top. Blend the colors into the buffer areas but do not completely paint inside the six-inch spaces.
  2. Mix transitional colors. Mix the dark color with the medium color until you get the shade you want. Mix a second color from the medium and light colors.
  3. Add a slow-drying agent. It will give you more time to blend the paint.
  4. Apply mixed colors. Paint the six-inch segment with the dark/medium shade and blend into the other colors. With a clean brush, do the same with the light/medium mix.
  5. Blend. Using a clean, dry brush, continue to blend the different shades on the wall until you get the look you want.

No Mistakes in Art, So Go for It!

There really isn’t a way to mess up this technique. Release your inner artist and play around with your wall. The colors should bleed into each other. If you want, use a damp sponge to thin out and blend the paint further or mix a darker shade to add small dabs of contrast throughout. Remember, this is your masterpiece. Once you’ve mastered the ombré technique, murals and portraits can’t be too far behind.

Expert Advice

From painter sprayers and fans to ladders and nail guns, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY painting project. Want to know more about how to paint your home?

Our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceiling and Walls, will help you get 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.

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

What to Remember When Refinishing Your Hardwoods

Refinishing Your Hardwood FloorsRefinishing your hardwoods is a DIY project you need to understand fully before undertaking.

The most important things to remember:

  • It takes time
  • It takes patience
  • It takes elbow grease

Prepare to Succeed

Refinishing your floors isn’t a quick DIY project. It usually takes longer than a weekend, so be prepared to live with dust and fumes for a few days longer. As with any home renovation, patience is key. Doing the right preparations beforehand will help things go smoothly. Using a floor sander (orbital or drum) is tough on the body, so tag team on the sanding.

Know Your Floors

Before sanding your floors, determine if they can be sanded. Because true hardwoods are solid wood, they withstand the loss of the top layer through sanding. Laminates will be ruined if sanded. It is better to just re-seal and buff engineered flooring.

The 4-Step Process

  1. Prepare. Make sure the floors are clean of all dirt and wax. Remove all furniture, seal off doors, vents, outlets and light switches. The object is to control dust from getting out of the room (and there will be a lot of it!).
  2. Sand. Start with 60 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 120 grit for the final sanding. Work in a straight path along a wall in a semi-circular motion. Always keep the sander moving to avoid creating uneven grooves.
  3. Clean Up. Learn to love the vacuum because your diligence in cleaning after each sanding determines if your finish is blemish free. Frequently check the vacuum filter for clogs. Damp mop floor thoroughly when done.
  4. Finish. Work with a brush when applying sealant around the perimeter and a lamb’s wool applicator for the rest of the floor. Overlap the application with the area worked with the brush. Allow 24 hours to dry. Buff and vacuum before applying second coat. Apply stain in the same manner as sealant. Finish with a couple of coats of polyurethane.

Choosing a Floor Sander – Orbital or Drum

One of the biggest decisions you have to make for this project is which type of sander to choose – orbital or drum. Orbital sanders take longer to do the job but are easier to use. Drum sanders are harder on the floors but they get the job done quickly. Both have a mind of their own, so know your skill level when attempting to operate them.

Tips for Successful Refinishing Projects

  • If working on other renovation projects, save refinishing the floors until last.
  • The finish takes longer to dry in humid and rainy weather. Wait for dry weather.
  • Remove adhesive from a previous flooring with glue remover, rather than sanding. It is tough to sand off and can stain wood.
  • Practice with your sander on a sheet of plywood to get consistent with your strokes.
  • Use an edging sander to smooth out sanding swirls around the walls. Hand sand tight spots like corners.
  • Use a hardwood floor attachment on your vacuum to avoid scratching.
  • Allow dust to settle in room before removing plastic sheeting and doing your final cleanup.
  • When using oil based sealant or stain, use a respirator.
  • Odors from polyurethane can linger for a couple of days so leave plastic up over doors if the fumes bother you.

Keep Off My New Hardwood Floors!

Let the floor dry completely before moving furniture back into the room. It’s a good idea to avoid shoes, bare feet and pets getting on them for the first 48 hours. Until then, don a pair of sunglasses, wear your socks and slide around your refinished floor like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Clothing is entirely up to you!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and floor edgers to fans and shop vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your DIY hardwood refinishing. For even more helpful info to get you started, check out our blog, How to Re-Finish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection. 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.

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

Use Your Home as a Canvas to Express Yourself

Ways to Personalize Your HomeIf your home is your castle, shouldn’t it look like yours? When working on home improvement projects, put your personality into the equation. Getting inspired by DIY designers is fine, but in the end, your domain should be a reflection of your tastes. Time to get creative and express yourself!

Reveal Your Personality

Personalizing doesn’t mean putting your monogram on everything. It is a way of communicating your style and interests through design. From the paint colors you choose to the flowers you plant, a home is simply a blank canvas on which to reveal your personality.

5 Ways to Personalize Your Home

Little personal touches inside and out are the best way to make a big statement. Here are just five quick and easy DIY projects to help you do just that.

  1. Display Your Interests: From family photos and vacation souvenirs to hobbies and sports memorabilia, use these items in different and unusual ways. Add them to furniture with upcycling or exhibit them in unexpected places like a garden bench or a flower pot.
  2. Show Your True Colors: Add your favorite shades throughout the house – on pillows, as accent walls or on the front door.
  3. Be Inventive: Why just put up wallpaper when you can stencil a design on your wall. If you love English manor décor a la Downton Abbey, add crown molding and ornamental flourishes to your ceiling for that Victorian feel.
  4. Stage Scenes: Just the way a set designer stages scenery for a movie or a play, you can do the same with your home. Whether it is painting the front door or using colorful plants as accents, create a look for your entrance that gives a warm and inviting feeling.
  5. Re-use, Re-Invent & Re-organize: While personalizing your home, don’t forget to re-purpose old furniture, re-use items and organize spaces in new or more efficient ways. If your family drops everything on their way into the house, look for ways to create a place for coats, book bags and muddy shoes right inside the front door.

Where Do You Start?

No need to feel overwhelmed; consider personalizing your space a work in progress. Start with one area and then move to the next. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint Your Front Door: Make a great first impression (and express your style) by reinvigorating the front of your house. Our blog, 10 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Now, has other ways to make your residence stand out.
  • Landscape: Create a peaceful oasis for you and your family to enjoy. Want to add a water feature to your garden? Read How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps.
  • Decorate with Color: Start small. Try adding an accent wall in your living room or dining room. Learn how to achieve the look you want here: Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls.
  • Stencil Artwork and Peel n’ Stick Graphics: These are great alternatives to having paintings or photographs on a wall. Experiment and combine some of each for a one-of-a-kind display.
  • Personalize Your Home Address: Create a display for your house numbers that reflects your favorite pastime like fishing or skiing. Put your wood working skills to the test and customize one just for your house.

Let Your DIY Projects Reflect You

Don’t worry about whether your home looks like those on your favorite home improvement shows or some fancy website. Home is where your heart is, so let your DIY projects reflect what you are passionate about. It’s time to let “you” shine through.

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 decorating 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Industry Trends, Restore and Renovate | 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: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Renovate, Restore and Renovate, spring checklist | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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:

7051908b3d2beb44d4e8f489322c4069

  • 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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

 

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: