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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Remodeling the Home of My Childhood Dreams

The first few days of home remodeling look like so fun when you watch those home makeover shows on television.  I love the way the wife usually shows up for demo day, ready to tear out the outdated cabinets and shelves with her little hard hat on.  When she starts out with a timid swing, I know that by the end of the segment, she’ll be a beast at it and end up being the first to tear through the wall.  When my turn came to walk into my own home for the first time, I was thrilled.  I also had the worse cramps, in part because of stress associated with being a new home owner.  Waiting through a prolonged closing is not easy, but once those keys hit my hand, I couldn’t get over to my new address fast enough.

I spent hours walking through the halls and rooms of my late 19th century Victorian era house with the Queen Anne cupola on top.  I’d loved it ever since I was a kid and passed it on the way to school each day.  The old couple who lived there used to show me pictures of how the neighborhood looked when their parents first moved in.  It was odd to see just one or two houses standing along the street, which wasn’t much more than a wide graveled road.  There was even a cow in the yard in one photo.  I took piano lessons from their daughter, so I was well acquainted with the first floor, but had never been invited upstairs, not until many decades later when the house was empty, and the original occupants were long gone to Glory.

I had so much fun swinging that hammer in the outdated kitchen, that it didn’t dawn on me until a few hours later, that I was tired, and my muscles were sore, but the cramping was not as intense as when I first arrived.  It’s true that exercise brings relief from cramps.  As my children scampered about claiming their bedrooms, play areas and exploring the old outbuildings on the premises, I claimed my spot by plunking down my package of U by Kotex in the master bathroom.  Saving for a purchase like this taught me how to scrimp on every item I buy and I was glad to find a u by kotexcoupon on the Groupon site this month.  I’ve been a loyal user of Kotex products since the first time my mother sat me down and explained the incredible story of life, and why I’d need my own package one day.  In a few years, it will be my turn to have that talk with my daughter.

Window Replacement Project

When the inevitable time comes that your windows need replacing, the first thing to do is to decide whether to purchase a wood or vinyl DIY window replacement. Typically, window replacements can be matched to fit the current look of your home and, best of all, many current products are expected to last for up to 20 years and often are accompanied by a warranty.

When it comes to DIY window replacement installation, it is pertinent that special attention be paid to any small cracks around the window that may be present. If they are there, energy costs may be higher as a result. The reason is because the outside air will be able to enter the home through these cracks, which will cause the heating or air conditioning unit to work harder in order to maintain the home’s temperature. In order to prevent this from occurring, homeowners must carefully inspect each DIY window replacement carefully. The best way to remedy a crack is through the use of caulking and weather stripping, which will help to eliminate the problem.

The best place to find all of your weather protective products is through the local home improvement store at which you purchased the window replacement. If you are not comfortable undertaking a DIY window replacement project, there are contractors in every area that are experienced in everyday installation and can often help your project get completed with minimal inconvenience to you. At the very least, you can hire a contractor or window installation professional who can help to supervise your work. Their fee may be considerably less if they are simply onsite and supervising someone else’s work, but this is something that each individual DIY window replacement scenario will determine.

When selecting a professional, whether it be for installation or supervision, make sure that they are experienced in window replacement and have completed similar projects with success. In addition, try to hire someone who has been in business for several years and has a positive reputation with the local Better Business Bureau. Even with a DIY window replacement project, it never hurts to have professional supervision.

Garage Floor Epoxy System

The most probable reason for failure is improper surface preparation. The floor must be completely clean and stripped of all other coatings. Any stains or foreign substances (oil, grease, paint, etc.) will prevent adequate bonding between the concrete and epoxy, resulting in chipping and flaking. Most contractors will apply a coat of sealer to a garage floor after installation. It can take several years for the sealer to wear off completely. This sealer must be removed for epoxy to last. Although acid etching is an important step, it will not remove sealer and most stains. Etching will only open up the pores of bare concrete, therefore you must do all cleaning and stripping before etching with acid.

Before purchasing a garage floor epoxy system, you need to first decide if your floor is right for it. If it sweats often or there are areas that are constantly wet, then forget about it. Be sure that you are willing to take the time to prep the floor properly, as this is the most critical part. It also helps to put one or two coats of clear concrete sealer on top to serve as a wear coat. Water based acrylic sealers are ideal for indoor residential use. Despite any bad reviews you’ve heard about the do-it-yourself garage floor epoxy system, it can be a successful project if it’s done correctly.

Kitchen With Better Lighting

Overhead Lighting

Many kitchens, and especially older ones, only have one type of lighting or even worse, perhaps only one light! You may be thinking that a big light centered in the middle of the ceiling will serve your need effectively, but it is rarely enough. If you do go with one overhead light, make sure that you plan to incorporate enough reflection to let the light bounce into every part of the room so that it is lit properly..

One thing to consider if you only have room or resources for lighting on the ceiling is track lighting. This type of lighting will allow you to direct the light to specific areas of the kitchen. You can install a light or point a light to each work area as well as your stove and kitchen table. Or, try using track kitchen lighting for the work area and then install additional lighting over the table or island areas.

Counters And Work Areas

Typically, one big light in the middle of the room will be inadequate for proper task lighting. It is problematic since when you are standing at the counter with your back to the light you will be casting a shadow right on the area you want to illuminate. Task lighting is important for proper food prep and will make your kitchen chores much easier.

For great task lighting consider kitchen lights that are installed on the bottoms of the cabinets that overhang your kitchen countertops. You’ll be able to easily see while you are chopping vegetables and preparing meals. This lighting is soft enough to provide the right amount of light and can be easily turned off as needed or leave just one light on at night as a “night light” of sorts.

Island And Table Lighting

You’ll also want to consider how you light the island and table areas. Here is where you will want to insure that lighting is adequate, and looks great with the style of your kitchen.

Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

A pattern is usually visible on most utensils and appliances. These are the lines that can be seen easily on the surface. While doing the cleaning work, make sure you constantly clean in the same direction parallel to these lines.

To expel stains & marks you need to utilise warm water, a small amount of gentle cleaner and a delicate fabric to wash the surface. Wash the surface properly with clean water, and then dry well with a towel so water spots won’t show on the utensil.

While cleaning stainless steel to expel fingerprints, you should utilise a glass cleaning solution. Have a look at this homemade solution that can prove to be quite helpful.

Take a 500ml spray bottle, and then add 50mls white vinegar and water in it. Then, use this mixture and spray on the utensils and appliances and wipe off with clean fabric to expel fingerprints.

In case, the above mentioned tips aren’t effective on your utensils and appliances, then you need to use a stainless steel cleaner. Keep in mind to rub in the same direction as the pattern lines. Before utilizing any cleaning solution or product on your stainless items, first try it on a portion that is not visible easily. This should be done to guarantee that you get the outcome that you need and it functions properly on your stainless items.

DIY Kitchen Makeovers

Having trouble removing old wallpaper in your kitchen? Get a tool called a Paper Tiger that scores the paper, making tiny holes all over. Don’t press too hard with it, though, or you’ll score the wallboard underneath, too. Then spray on a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part fabric softener on the walls. Let it soak for a few minutes then just peel the paper off. Repeat as required.

When picking a colour for your Corian or Granite countertops, avoid darker solid colours. Dust, food crumbs fingerprints, grease stains, water stains, will all show up more prominently and make frequent cleaning mandatory. Lighter colours, while less dramatic, are more practical.

A good flooring material for the kitchen is porcelain tile with non-slip texturing. You’ll want to use a darker grout colour, which will show less dirt build-up. Porcelain tile holds up well over the years and cleans up easy.

For lighting, you should locate the brightest lights directly over the main countertop area and/or kitchen island. The reason for this is to prevent any shadows on you kitchen work surfaces. Show off those countertops to highlight their beauty. Accent lights can be located under cabinets, against walls, or other areas. Additional lighting can be added in larger kitchen spaces with wall sconces.

Remove Ceramic Tiles

Before starting a removal job, decide whether you have anything there worth salvaging. It could be that while you want to redecorate the shower stall, that tile would like great on the wall in the laundry room. And it can be used over again, as long as you are careful in removing it. Ceramic tile has lots of compression strength, but very little tensile strength. That means you can put weight on it, but to twist or bend the piece, will likely break it.

First, you’ll need to remove any trim that covers the edges of the tiles. Next, remove all the grout you can between the tiles. They’re glued to your wall or floor, so nothing is going to fall off when you do this. But the grout must be removed, because in attaching them all together, it’s like creating one giant sheet of ceramic, and it will be just as brittle as a single tile. So forcing one tile, can end up breaking a number of them.

Once the grout is cleaned away, take a very thin putty knife and start by working a corner under the edge of one tile. Work along the top, gradually inserting more of the blade as you go. You can use a hammer to gently tap the handle of the knife to help insert it. When the blade is about halfway down the back of the tile, you can exert slow, upward pressure, which should pop the tile off.

If you plan to re-use the tile, the backs will need to be cleaned, either with an adhesive remover, or by grinding, if they were applied with thinset.

Painting Wall Murals

Properly Prepare Your Site for Painting

The first step is to properly prepare your site. Painting wall murals is just like any other painting project. To do it right, pull out the masking tape and drop cloths. Many people also apply a fresh coat of paint to the room before painting wall murals. Use a satin finish or eggshell finish latex wall paint for the best sheen and chose a color that will look great with your mural. If you are not putting on a fresh coat of paint, make sure the wall surface is completely clean to ensure the best adhesion. Use a product specially formulated for cleaning walls for best results.

Choose the Right Paint

You may read elsewhere that oil-based paints are the way to go when painting wall murals. If you are a professional muralist, that statement is probably true. However, if you’re just an average homeowner that wants to do something creative and original with your home, acrylic paints are actually your best option. Acrylic paints are quick drying and water soluble. They are very similar to latex wall paints, but can be purchased in smaller sizes. You can find acrylic paints at your local hobby store or even the craft section of your local Wal-Mart.

Do you have some latex wall paint left over from another project? If you want to use it, go ahead! Latex wall paints and acrylic craft paints are compatible products and can by used interchangeably when painting murals.

Choose the Right Brushes

As tempting as it may be, now is not the time to raid your son’s crayon box for the paintbrush that came with his watercolor set. However, a quick trip to the craft store may leave you scratching your head. There are so many options when it comes to paintbrushes. How do you pick the right one for your project?

Paintbrushes are made with natural animal hair, synthetic fibers, or a combination of both. The best brushes for use with acrylic paints are high quality synthetic brushes. The heads on brushes also come in many different shapes and sizes. For painting wall murals, you will need more than one type of brush. At a minimum, you should purchase a wide, flat brush for painting the large areas of your mural and a round paintbrush for adding details and outlining images.

Applying Varnish

When painting wall murals, the last step is to protect your finished masterpiece. After all, you want it to look great for many years to come, right? If your mural is located in a high traffic area, such as an entryway or busy hallway, it is especially important that you seal it with a water-based varnish.

Guide to Fence Building

There are a lot of reasons one might have to build the fence, and these considerations control the decision as to what type of fence to build and the materials that will be used in its construction. Privacy is a prime consideration, and usually leads to a desire for a high and forbidding type of material selection. It is important to control this a bit. You do not want to spoil any possible views by making the fence too high.

It is also true that thieves are not very fond of fences and the presence of a fence can protect you from unwanted access to your property, but when a fence is too high it provides a sanctuary for them. Once they are inside the fence, they are shielded from view.

When the major purpose for the fence is to provide a pen for a pet, and privacy is not a major concern, this would suggest a smaller and more open type of fencing. Chain link would get the nod here. It might also be possible that the fence has a limited purpose beyond the closing in of the entire property. A fence around a garden is an example of this. When this is the case, a good choice might be vinyl fencing. This is a newer and very versatile fencing material.

Once the decision is made as to the type of fence, and the material is selected, it is a good idea to take a good look at the code requirements for the area where you reside. Codes vary widely from locale to locale, and you need to make sure you have this area covered before you begin. It is also a good idea to have a survey of the property done prior to getting started. Nothing ruins a day more than finding out your new vinyl fence is two feet onto your neighbor’s property.

When the preliminary matters are all tended to, it is time to begin the actual construction process. It is pretty much accepted that you are going to have to dig some holes. In fact, the digging of the holes, and the placing of poles constitutes the major labor output of this project. A good post hole digger, an item that can be easily rented, is a necessity here. The placement and distance between poles is going to depend on the type of fence and the building material selected. When the fence is going to be wood, and you are planning on doing the carpentry yourself, you have a little more leeway in the hole placements. The use of chain link, or the very popular and versatile vinyl fencing material, or the use of precut and prepared lumber dictates the placement, and you should be sure to follow the recommendations of the supplier.

Once the holes are dug, and the poles firmly planted, it is a simple matter of attaching the rails, nailing together the posts, or installing the chain link. Then you can sit back and enjoy your privacy, and perhaps your security, and certainly your new and improved relations with your neighbors.

Tuscan Kitchen Decorating

The walls in a Tuscan kitchen have a unique, old-world look. You can achieve this using a faux painting technique. First, you paint the walls a bright base color such as butterscotch or butter yellow. Then, sponge on a deeper shade so that the walls look as though they have faded in some spots. There are many books and Internet sites that can give you step-by-step directions on this method of applying paint, as well as product suggestions. If you want to go the extra mile, you can texturize your walls using joint compound mixed with paint. “Pouncing” the mixture onto the walls creates a colored, rustic roughness characteristic of an authentic country kitchen in Tuscany.

The next places to paint are cabinet doors. Use a strong, contrasting color to really give your Tuscan county kitchen character. Deep reds and bright forest greens are especially popular on cupboard doors. While you’re out looking for just the right shade of paint, spend some time in the hardware section of your home improvement store. This is where you’ll find the pulls and handles to add the finishing touch to your Tuscan cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Heavy, burnished metal or ceramic knobs will both look great in your kitchen.

Now that you have the background set, it’s time for the focus pieces. A Tuscan country kitchen harkens thoughts of family and friends. A large table with simple chairs is a sure invitation to your own family to spend quality time in the kitchen. Brightly colored seat cushions make the chairs even more inviting, and a wooden bowl of fruit and nuts encourages a long visit.

Browse through kitchen supply stores and you’ll find a dazzling array of decanters for oils and spices. In a Tuscan county kitchen, cooking ingredients are often stored in plain sight. Glass jars filled with dried beans and pasta should line your counters, along with terra cotta planters and cooking utensil holders. Pewter and copper vessels are also a good choice you’re your Tuscan kitchen. If you have the floor space, freestanding metal or wooden racks can be used to hold commonly used pots and pans, as well as sunflower-print table linens. Pots of herbs on a windowsill and trailing houseplants on top of the refrigerator add even more of an Old World feel to your new kitchen look.