Restore and Renovate

Get Your Outdoor Furniture Ready for Summer Entertaining

Get Your Outdoor Furniture Ready for Summer EntertainingGetting your deck or patio ready for summer entertaining is a chore most people are looking forward to. If you stored your furniture and cushions over the winter, you are ahead of the game. If you didn’t, we have some simple tips to help get your outdoor furniture ready to go.

Energize Your Old Stuff

The first step is to clean and inspect your furniture. See what needs to be re-painted or repaired. Don’t toss your old furniture. Energize it with a splash of color or vibrant new fabrics on the cushions. You’d be surprised what a thorough cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can do!

5 Tips for Cleaning Your Outdoor Furniture

  1. Sweep or vacuum off dust and dirt – Covering your furniture while in storage will cut down on some cleaning but it does not eliminate it. Dust can build up. There may also be a few unwanted guests tucked inside.
  2. Give it a gentle cleaning – Don’t power wash them. The harsh spray can wear down any protective coating on the furniture or fabric.
  3. Avoid harsh cleaners – Start with mild dish soap and warm water. Some cushion fabrics are machine washable but use the gentle cycle. Never put them in the dryer.
  4. Fight mold – Sometimes mild soap alone will not remove stains. Use oxygen bleach and a soft scrub brush first. If you use chlorine bleach, test a small hidden section. Chlorine will kill the mold but it can break down your fabrics. Wear protective glasses and mask when working around mold.
  5. Dry in the sun – Allow your furniture to air dry completely. If you clean your umbrellas or hammocks, stretch them out to help retain their shape.

A Gentler Approach to Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

The material your outdoor furniture is made of will determine how you clean it. As tempting as it may be to power wash everything and be done with it, a gentler approach keeps your décor looking better longer.

How Do I Clean This? 

  • Wood: Use mild soap and a soft scrub brush to wash the dirt off. If the furniture is badly stained, try an oxygen bleach cleaner. You can also lightly sand it and clean with a wood brightener. After your furniture is completely dry, apply a clear sealant to protect the wood from UV rays, dirt and mildew. Do this every 1-3 years.
  • Metal: Most metals except aluminum rust. Catching it early is key. Clean with mild soap and water and allow to dry completely. Sand rust spots and touch up with paint. Apply a clear sealant when dry to protect from sun and moisture. A good coat of car wax helps repel dirt. Spray silicone lubricant on any hinges, joints or springs. Inspect your umbrella pole and stand for rust damage, too.
  • Fabric: Outdoor fabric resists moisture but it can get dirty and develop mold. Use a mild soap and let them air dry. Re-treat the cushion covers with fabric protector every year to keep them looking like new. Checked the foam inserts for mold. If badly soiled, freshen things up with new ones!

Did I Miss Something?

When getting your deck or patio ready, don’t focus only on your furniture. There are plenty of items that get overlooked and can use a good scrubbing. Here is a list of things to check out:

  • The grill – Even if you used it all winter, give it a clean start for the summer. Use a wire brush to scrub the grill and the inside elements.
  • Umbrellas – Remove the fabric and wash on the gentle cycle. Dry it outside. (Don’t fold them up wet! Mold will grow.) If the fabric gets wrinkled, iron on a low setting.
  • Storage bins – No one wants to pull a pool float out with spiders on it. Take everything out and vacuum the interior. Rinse down the pool floats, too.
  • Plastic deck chairs – Use mild soap and a scrub brush to clean them. For aging, discolored chairs, consider spray painting them in a bold new color.
  • Outdoor ceiling fans – If your outdoor dining area or porch has an overhead fan, wash the blades and oil the motor.

Save Money by Maintaining Your Outdoor Furniture

Why buy new tables and chairs every year? By taking the time to clean and inspect your outdoor furniture, you extend its life. Spend a weekend whipping your outdoor space into shape. Summer is right around the corner and you’ll be entertaining family and friends before you know it.

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and grinders to paint sprayers and pressure washers, our expert staff is ready to help you find the right tool to clean and repair your outdoor furniture. Planning ahead? Want to make sure you stow your outdoor furniture the right way at summer’s end? Check out our blog, Outdoor Entertaining Storage Made Easy in 8 Steps, for tips on the best way to pack things away. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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Get a Jump on New Year Cleaning with These Tips

Get a Jump on New Year Cleaning with These TipsThe company has gone and your home is settling back into its regular routine. While straightening up after your guests, get a jump start on your New Year cleaning. This is the perfect time to deal with the things you noticed during the holidays but had no time to address. If the snow and cold weather is keeping you inside, put your time to good use and tackle some.

Basic Cleaning After the Holidays:

  • Carpet – Spot shampoo the heaviest soiled areas in your home. Save a full room cleaning for the Spring when floors can dry out completely.
  • Oven – Now that the cooking is done, give the oven and stove top a thorough scrubbing.
  • Kitchen – Steam clean your tile floors in kitchens to get up ground in food from grout.
  • Refrigerator– Take out leftovers and wipe down shelves and drawers.
  • Bathrooms – Scrub showers, tubs and sinks. Use a brush to clean tile grout. Clean the drains of hair and soap scum.
  • Front door – Replace your holiday wreath with one that’s appropriate until Spring. Colorful berries, foliage or chrysanthemums are favorite choices.

Declutter by Donating

Like many of us, collecting more things than we actually use is a stifling habit. The New Year is the perfect time to rectify that. Declutter your home by donating things that have overstayed their welcome. Many charities can put them to good use.

Items to Purge Following the Holidays:

  • Clothing – Go through your closets and get rid of clothes you seldom wear.
  • Bed linens and blankets – Inspect your sheets, blankets and towels for wear and donate.
  • Throw rugs – Local branches of the Humane Society appreciate old rugs for their rescue animals.
  • Plastic containers – Recycle the ones with no lids or that are stained. Once a year, purge your total collection by half.
  • Christmas decorations – Before you pack them back up, donate the ones you rarely use.
  • Kitchen appliances – If you received newer versions for Christmas, give away the old ones.
  • Old Christmas cards – Add the names and addresses to your contacts and recycle the cards. Keep only those with special meaning.

Time to Map Out Your 2017 Plans

While your mind is focused on cleaning, decide what your next DIY projects will be. Add them to your calendar as a reminder of the things you wish to accomplish in the New Year. Give yourself time to research how to do the projects and the best materials to use. Then keep an eye out for sales long before you need them.

Here’s to Bigger and Bolder DIY Projects in the New Year!

The New Year brings lots of promise for great things ahead. By cleaning out the old and welcoming in the new, we continue to grow and enrich our lives. Challenge yourself in 2017 to attempt bigger and bolder DIY projects around your home. You’ll be glad you did.

Expert Advice

From vacuums and carpet cleaners to steam cleaners and floor polishers, our expert staff is always on hand to help find the right cleaning equipment to make your New Year bright and shiny. Want more tips on how to declutter your home? Our blog, Post Holiday Clean Up – 7 Ways to Bring It On, is full of information to help tackle all your unwanted stuff. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday Gathering

Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday GatheringChristmas is getting awfully close and panic has set in. If you are wondering how you’ll feed all your guests coming for Christmas dinner, worry not. With a little pre-planning, this holiday gathering promises to be a total success.

Schedule Your To-do List

Use your calendar to determine when to schedule items on your to-do list. Map out when to grocery shop, set the table and when to start cooking. Avoid burn-out by accomplishing several items each day. If you did a thorough cleaning of your kitchen prior to Thanksgiving, you are ahead of the game and only need to spot clean now. Do last minute touch ups like vacuuming and bathroom cleanups on the day before the event.

Be a Stress-Free Chef

Pre-planning is key to pulling off a less stressful holiday meal. Don’t leave cooking until the last minute. Here are some suggestions of things to do ahead of time:

  • Plan your menu – Keep it simple. Don’t try to cook everyone’s favorites. Have the main course and a few sides. If guests insist on helping invite them to bring their favorite dishes. Extra ice is always needed.
  • Generate a shopping list – By planning the meal, appetizers and beverages ahead, you know exactly what to get from the grocery store, which minimizes overspending.
  • Keep a stocked pantry – Having staples on hand during the holiday season keeps you from constantly running to the store. Many of these items go on sale for the holidays, so stock up.
  • Cook ahead – By mixing, chopping or cooking portions of a recipe a few days ahead, you can quickly combine them to finish the dish. Try to leave only a few dishes to prepare the day of the event.
  • Set the table – Table cloths, napkins and silverware can be put out days earlier but keep the plates and glasses until closer to the date. Have your serving pieces washed and ready for use.
  • Rearrange furniture – Open space for people to mingle and have conversations.
  • Rent extra tables and chairs – Give your guests ample seating for the big event.
  • Fire up the heaters – Don’t let outdoor spaces go unused. Rent propane heaters to increase overflow space.

Prepare for Controlled Christmas Chaos

If you don’t leave too many things to finish last minute, you can enjoy the joyful chaos of Christmas Day. Go over your checklist the day before to see if anything has been left undone. Let your Christmas helpers attend to these often-overlooked items:

  • Parking – Make sure you let your guests know where to park. Clear your driveways and sidewalks of snow. Salt or put sand down to avoid falls. If raining, have extra umbrellas handy.
  • Lighting – If your festivities are at night, put out additional outdoor lighting to help guide your guests.
  • Pets – Depending on how your animal responds to strangers, you may want to put them in a quiet room to celebrate in peace. Don’t forget to treat them to some holiday cheer with treats or a new toy.

Get Organized Early – There’s Still Time

By planning ahead, you can make your holiday gathering enjoyable for family and guests (while less stressful for you). There’s still time to get organized. This holiday have a smile on your face and a beverage in your hand as you greet your company. Your family may not recognize this relaxed version of you!

Expert Advice

From banquet tables and folding chairs to portable heaters and generators, our expert staff is always on hand to help you throw the best holiday gathering ever. Need to thoroughly clean your kitchen for the holidays? Our blog, Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips for the Kitchen, will get you ready for the big day. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pre-Holiday Cleaning Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore

Cleaning for the Holidays Doesn't Have to be a ChoreGetting ready for the holidays can be chaotic but we’re here to help you hold onto your sanity. Don’t get overwhelmed, get prepared. Pre-holiday cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore if you develop a game plan and stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you will check things off your list.

Divide and Conquer Your Tasks

Your first order of business is to stop procrastinating. By spreading the tasks out over a week, you won’t wear yourself out before the guests arrive. Do a walk-through of your home, find everything you’d like to get accomplished and list them in the order of importance. Be realistic with the time you have or you may not get through the entire list.

Round Up Your Elves to Help

Some items can be done several weeks ahead like cleaning carpets, washing windows or having your air vents and ducts vacuumed out. Recruit helpers for these larger jobs. Round up the elves in your family to help move furniture and vacuum or hang decorations.

Start with the Kitchen

Everyone congregates in the kitchen during the holidays, so start your cleaning there. Remove and store unused small appliances (waffle irons, toaster ovens, blenders) so you will have room for serving trays and platters. Give larger appliances a thorough cleaning and wipe down your cabinets. Don’t forget to clean out the refrigerator to make room for the food you are preparing.

Clean, Don’t Stress

Hit the basics first and then move on to smaller jobs if you have time. The point of a pre-holiday cleaning is to get your house ready for company but not to stress you out. Here is a short list of some of the essential items to focus on.

Pre-Holiday Cleaning Checklist:

  • Dust from the top down – Vacuum the cob webs from ceiling fans and light fixtures first and then dust from the tops of book shelves and cabinets, working your way down. Finish one room before moving onto the next.
  • Deep clean bathrooms – Give it a good scrubbing so you only need to touch it up before the big day. Put out fresh guest towels and soap. A basket of toiletries (toothbrushes, mouthwash and hand cream) is also a nice touch.
  • Straighten bedrooms – De-clutter the room and add fresh linens to beds. Give guests room in the closet to hang up clothes.
  • Clean or polish the dining room table – Have clean dinnerware, glassware and table linens ready and waiting. Set the table when you are closer to the event.
  • Stage your entryway – Make your front doorway welcoming by cleaning your door and stoop, adding holiday decorations and replacing worn out a welcome mat with a new one.

Plan to Touch Up

Focus on the rooms that will be used the most. Once you clean a room, don’t fence it off from use. Come back and touch it up if needed. (Elves have a way of keeping it clean if they know they must help re-clean it). Make a rundown sheet to help you remember.

Last Minute Items to Cover:

  • Vacuum high traffic areas.
  • Mop kitchen floor.
  • Clean toilets and sinks.
  • Take out trash and add fresh liners.
  • Put out fresh throw rugs.
  • Add fresh flowers or burn holiday scented candles.

Your Company Will Appreciate Your Efforts

Remember, even though you want your house to be in tip top shape, the holidays are a time to get together and have fun. Formulate a pre-holiday cleaning plan and stick to it. Your company will appreciate your efforts but they are coming to see you, not inspect the baseboards. As the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff.

Expert Advice

From banquet tables and folding chairs to portable heaters and generators, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your holiday party plans. Looking for ways to make your home more festive this season? Our blog, 9 DIY Projects That Inspire Holiday Decorating & Entertaining, is sure to fire up your creative juices. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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DIY Garage Door Makeover? Yes, Please!

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

Why Change the Look of Your Garage Door?

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

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

First Step? Pressure Washing

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

How to Create Faux Carriage Windows on Your Garage Door

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

Tape First, Then Paint

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

Don’t Forget the Hinges

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

Just Stick It

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

Simple DIY Project with Big Results

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

Expert Advice

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

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Keep Popcorn in the Bowl & Off the Ceiling

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

What You’ll Need for Popcorn Ceiling Removal & Repair

Beware – Asbestos Often Lurks in 70’s Ceilings

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

6 Steps to Removing Popcorn Ceilings

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

This is a Messy Job If You Aren’t Careful

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

Don’t Over Saturate Your Ceilings with Water

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

A Putty Knife Comes in Handy in Tight Spots

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

Are You Ready for Some Mud in Your Life?

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

Ceilings Are Tough on the Back and Neck

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

Expert Advice

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

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Team Up with a Landscape Professional for Amazing Results

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

Do You Call a Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect?

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

The Benefits of Working with a Landscape Designer or Architect

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

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

Tips for a Productive Landscape Consultation

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

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

Why Go Through a Major Landscaping Project Alone?

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

Expert Advice

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

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10 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Now

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

Good First Impression

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

The Right Curb Appeal Can:

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

Curb Appeal’s Immediate Benefits

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

10 Boosts for Curb Appeal

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

Killer Curb Appeal Improves the Neighborhood

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

Preparation and Product Selection Are Key

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

3 Steps to Preparing Tile for Painting:

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

Repair Tile and Grout Before Starting

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

Tips for Painting Your Tile

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

Painted Tiles Can Last 5 Years

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

Expert Advice

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

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Consider Options Before Diving into a DIY Pool Project

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

Plan for Extra Costs

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

Let the Professionals Handle the Paperwork

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

3 Types of In-Ground Pools

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

Choose the Right Pool for Your Location

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

How Will You Use Your Pool?

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

The Best DIY Pool Related Projects

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

A New Pool Provides Plenty of Quality Family Time

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

How Professionals Show You the Way

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

Focus Your Efforts on these 7 Areas:

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

Small Fixes Bring Big Returns

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

Expert Advice

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

Categories: Featured Products, How-To's, Industry Trends, Restore and Renovate | Leave a 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

4 Steps to Renew an Aging Concrete Driveway

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

Age Matters When It Comes to Concrete

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

Take a Real Look at Your Driveway

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

What You Need to Repair Your Concrete Surfaces

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

Power Wash Your Driveway

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

Repair Your Concrete Driveway in 4 Steps

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

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

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

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

Renew by Resurfacing

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

So Many Choices

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

Improve Your Curb Appeal

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

Keep Your Driveway Looking Good for Years

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

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

dandelionsStop Weeds Before They Start

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

Weed Worries Got You Down?

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

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

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

Weeds are Everywhere!

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

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

Stop and Smell the Roses for a Change

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

Expert Advice

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

 

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Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

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Bring New Life to Your Garden with a Chandelier Bird feeder

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

Add Whimsy and Fun to Your Garden with Yard Art

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

Express Your Artistic Side

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

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

A Stripped Down Chandelier Finds New Life

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

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

Branch Out with Your Paint Choices

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

Bling Out Your Birdfeeder

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

Re-inventing Old Items is Addicting

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

Some other easy DIY garden art projects:

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

Turn Trash to Garden Treasures

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

Expert Advice

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

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Easy Ideas to Use Stepping Stones in the Garden

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

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

Secret Gardens, Hidden Treasures

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

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

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

Choosing Materials

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

Peaceful Retreat for Guests

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

Stepping Stones in the Garden

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

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

Discover the Wonders of Nature

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

Expert Advice

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

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DIY Outdoor Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long

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

Why Didn’t I Do This Sooner?

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

Here’s what you need:6cdbbc793a01f2b017be8fa2d0ce6a1e

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

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

(1) Tube Concrete Adhesive

 Find the Right Design for You

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

6 Steps for Building a Concrete Block Bench:

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

Concrete Adhesive Locks Blocks in Place

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

Have Fun Decorating Your Couch9c62cc497eb49cf932099fbfa00726d9

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

Endless Design Possibilities with Concrete Blocks

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

Great Looking and Weather-proof

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

Expert Advice

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

 

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Boost Outdoor Entertaining Potential with New Design Elements

extraordinary outdoor

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

Start with a Redesign Plan

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

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

Expand Entertaining Spaces

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

Easy Maintenance Depends on Choice of Materials

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

Add Drama to Delightpatio

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

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

Make Your Yard into an Inviting Oasis

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

Expert Advice

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

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Reorganize Your Home Office and Make Tax Time a Breeze

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

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

Shred, File or Review

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

Establish Work Zones

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

Improve Your Work Flow with DIY Projects

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

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

Go Green with Electronic Bill Pay and Storage

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

Designate a Tax Area in Your Office

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

No Stress Tax Time

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

Expert Advice

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

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Reorganize Your Attic and Reclaim Needed Space

custom installed closet 3

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

Sort Your Stuff

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

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

Divide and Conquer with a Little Help

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

Keep Only What You Need or Use

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

Six tips to help get your attic organization underway:

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

Keep Your Newly Organized Attic Neat

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

Be Careful What You Store Up There

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

Reclaim Needed Storage Space by Organizing the Attic

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

Expert Advice

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

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

Bouquet colorful tulips at home

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

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

10 Clicks for Your Spring Cleaning Checklist:

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

Inspect Your Yard for Damaged Trees and Shrubs

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

Plan Your Storm Window Removal

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

Assess Your Home’s Condition with Spring Cleaning

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

Express Kitchen Personality

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

Why Not Upgrade Your Faucet, Too?

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

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

9 Easy Steps to Faucet Replacement

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

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

Match Fixtures

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

Hard Work Pays Off

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

Expert Advice

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

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Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizazz – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #3

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

Make it Take the Heat and the Mess

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

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

Subway Tiles: An Elegant, Affordable Choice

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

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

Personalize Your Kitchen Backsplash

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

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

Spice Up Your Kitchen with A New Backsplash

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

Don’t Let So Many Choices Floor You

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

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

Hardwoods Add Warmth to a Room

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

Easy Hardwood Installation

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

Laminates Install in a Snap

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

Tile Floors – A Great High Traffic Solution

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

Think Outside the Box for Your Floor Update

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

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

Your DIY Project Will Be a Snap

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

Create a Remodeling Plan

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

Decide What You Want Done the Most

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

Popular Materials for Countertops

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

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

Money-Saving Countertop Ideas

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

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

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

Dream Kitchens for Less

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

What Room Needs a Paint Lift?

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

6 Paint Finishes for Interior Walls:

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

Ceiling First, Walls Next

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

Paint Loves Loose Fuzz

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

8 Proper Techniques for Painting Ceilings & Walls

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

Is a Paint Sprayer More Your Speed?

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

Fresh Paint Can Brighten the Spirits

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

What you will need:

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

Do you have fiberboard cabinets?

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

10 Steps to Reinvigorate Kitchen Cabinets with Stain

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

You are on a roll!

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

Expert Advice

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

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Give Old Chairs New Life with Fresh Paint & Upholstery

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

Good Bones Are Good Bones

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

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

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

Tips for Successfully Painting Wood Chairs 

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

7 Steps for Reupholstering

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

Granny Would Be So Proud!

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

Expert Advice

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

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8 Essential Best Practices for Efficient Heating This Winter

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

  1. Do an Energy Audit

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

  1. Determine Best R-Value for Your Home

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

  1. Blanket or Blown Insulation?

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

  1. Eliminate Drafts with Window Insulation

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

  1. Keep Heat in with Weather Seal

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

  1. Check for Air Leaks and Seal Them

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

  1. Blanket Hot Water Heater

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

  1. Wrap Hot Water Pipes for Additional Savings

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

You Can Never Have Enough Insulation

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

Expert Advice

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

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

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

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

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

Expert Advice

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

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