Category Archives: DIY

Top 5 DIY Home Improvement Tips

DIY Home Improvement TipsDid you buy a brand new home or condo? The first thing most homeowners think about after they purchase a home is how they might be able to improve it. This means having to think about all the needed maintenance tasks and necessary repairs. Lucky for homeowners, though, a good number of the things you need to do can be done with DIY home improvement. This post highlights the top 5 DIY home improvement tips that every homeowner can use to make their dwelling a better place.

Start with Quick and Timely

Always start with those quick projects that need to be taken care of in a timely manner. Whether December is closing in and you have to host some visitors, or winter is coming, some home improvements are more urgent than others. You want to solve those problems right now before they graduate into devastating damage. You might only need to invest 10 minutes of your time to effect simple changes around your house.

DIY Home Improvement Tips

Regardless the size or nature of the project, you can benefit a lot by learning some decent repair and other home improvement tips. Invest a bit of your time to scour the web and increase your bag of tricks on DIY plumbing, DIY home repairs and other DIY home improvement skills. There are scores of resources out there just dedicated to helping home owners get some practical skills.

Got the Right Tools?

DIY home improvement or not, you need the right tools to get the job done. You aren’t going to be able to accomplish those important projects with your bare hands. Get a home toolbox and equip it with the essential tools for both major projects and minor repairs. You might want to start with some basic plumbing tools and duct tape!

Save Money Where Possible

Have it in mind that the more money you can save on a single home improvement project, the more you’ll have for any other that’s needed. Invest your time to learn what remodeling projects offer the most for your dollars. If you have to spend money, do it on elements that are hard to replace, such as the bathtub. Get your smartphone and learn how to do those little things before you call a professional plumber or contractor.

Not Everything Can be DIY Home Improvement

Even if you have a fully packed toolkit and a well-stocked workshop, not all home improvements are DIY. That means there will be things that won’t be suitable for yourself, in which case you need the help of a professional. Start small, and know your limits. If you can do it yourself, keep calm and get on it. Otherwise, put some money aside and get a pro to improve it for you.

How to Keep Your House Clean for This New Year

So the decorations are down, presents exchanged have now found a home in various spaces around the house, and the children are back at school. It’s expected over such a hectic period for cleanliness around the house to possible slip, but never fear, January is the month to grab a hold and ready your house for the coming months ahead. Here we look at cleaning tips to ensure your house is spruced up to it’s maximum potential.

The Oven No more than over the festive season does the oven come into its own. Cooking numerous Christmas dinners and new years feasts, it’s no surprise that the oven is left behind with some nasty baked residues. So how to solve such a problem? Clean it after every use? Hardly likely. Cleaning an oven does require good old fashioned elbow grease with a few little helpers. Mixing bicarbonate of soda with water, gently smear around the oven and leave to stand overnight. On return with scouring pad in hand its time to put some effort in. If you repeat this method up to once a month, the oven will become much easier to clean and won’t require such an intensive scrub.

The Floors Chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, wine and paint are just one of many items which can cause foreseeable damage to your floor surfaces over the festive period. Depending on what floor is currently installed within the property will depend on how you clean the floor. For instance when it comes to vinyl flooring usually associated with kitchens, the best way to remove any unwanted stains is with household cleaners such as washing up liquid or white spirit. Stains or unwanted marks on a carpet can be slightly harder to remove. Many have reported to great success using such household products as washing detergent to help remove small stains.

Many though, opt for a carpet cleaner hire to ensure a clean through the whole property. The Bathroom Again, another well visited amenity over the festive period which probably needs the most amount of attention paying to is the bathroom. One of the biggest problems seen in a bathroom is mildew building up and around sealant. Obviously if left, can look slightly disgusting and may lead to further problems with bathroom functions.

The best way to stop mildew build up? Simply wipe around the bathroom sealant once a day, it will only take a minute or so and will ensure no expensive plumbing bills later on in the year. By choosing to stick to these tips you are ensuring that your property stay as clean as possible whilst keeping away any harmful germs that may cause your families problems. A little elbow grease will ensure money is saved on expensive repairs and replacements in the years to come. Ashley is a home cleaning, giving advice on how to make your home look as nice as possible.

Eco Friendly Tips for Washing Dishes

Eco Friendly Tips for Washing Dishes. There is nothing better than a hearty meal and a full belly. Your mind drifts to images of decadent desserts, or to the couch in the living room that seems to be beckoning you with plush pillows and a comfortable throw. You push yourself from the table, stretch your arms in contentment, and look over your shoulder to find piles and piles of spattered and sauce-caked dirty dishes.Ah, the joy of cleaning dishes.

Many families dine from paper or foam plates in order to avoid the pain and agony of scrubbing dirty dishes. Sure, it is more convenient, but considering that an average American family of four dines three times a day from foam or paper plates (and let’s not forget that paper plates often have to be doubled in order to uphold the weight of the food), that is a minimum of twelve plates hitting the trash a day. And that is assuming no additional plates are used to serve dessert, as serving plates, or as snack holders throughout the rest of the day. Now, multiply that times thirty days, and you have an average family of four going through at least 360 plates a month. That equals 4,320 disposable plates a year.

Why not give your real dishes another try? Rather than wast­ing money and resources on disposable dishes, consider using your reusable, sturdy, never-leak-food plates and washing them with a small amount of water and soap. You will be saving money and going green at the same time. Some may say that washing dishes leads to wasting water. You do have to use water to wash, there is no way around that, but according to the American Water Works Associa­tion using your dishwasher may be the easiest and greenest way out of washing dishes:

  • Depending on your brand of dishwasher, you use between 9 and 12 gallons of water a load.
    • There are newer dishwashers available that can lower that number to 7 gallons of water a load. These dishwashers usu­ally come with an ENERGY STAR label stating that they have been approved, through the U.S. EPA guidelines, to save energy.
    • Hand washing often uses as much as 20 gallons of water.

Considering that many of us only use our dishwasher once a day or every other day whereas you may hand wash dishes three times a day, it is more efficient and wastes less water to use your dish­washer. With newer dishwashers falling under the ENERGY STAR program, we can expect a surge of new environmentally friendly dishwashers. If you are not in the market for a new dishwasher, there are ways to conserve energy and go green with your old one:

1. Don’t pre-rinse.

One of the water traps when using a dish­washer is rinsing your dishes before you put them in. The easy way to avoid using excess water to rinse as well as elbow grease is to try a load without rinsing. Yes, you may have to scrape and wash some dishes again. But you will know the full capability of your dishwasher. And once you know whether the dishwasher can or cannot get that caked food off your dishes, then you will be able to adequately judge how much water is needed to pre-rinse. There is no need to use excess water without first finding out if it is even necessary. In many cases, especially with newer dishwashers, very little rinsing is required before running a load of dishes. Why waste more water when your dishwasher will do the dirty work?

2. Fill ‘er up!’

Another way to save water and energy is to only run the dishwasher when it is completely full. Washing a few dishes uses the same amount of energy and water as running a full load. So, load up and squeeze in every dish possible. Get creative and find room for that last glass!

3. Turn off the heat.

Although many dishwashers offer the option to heat-dry your dishes, if it is possible, turn off that option. It is nice to open a newly run dishwasher and find little to no water on your dishes. However, if you just let them sit a little longer, they will air dry, and you will save energy in the process. Look at it this way, the longer they take to dry, the more time you have to do other things. Like lie on the couch and sleep off your meal. It is the same as letting your dishes dry in a rack, so give it a try.

4. Go green with detergent.

If you want your dish washing expe­rience to be extra green, try using an eco-friendly dish­ washing detergent. They are competitively priced, and they lack phosphates that often tend to journey to our oceans and waterways. According to the NRDC website, phosphates can cause oxygen depletion and excess algae growth in our wa­terways. Without sufficient oxygen, fish and other aquatic an­imals can die.If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can still save water by wash­ing with a conservative hand.

You can always hand wash by filling the sink, but it isn’t necessary, and it can lead to excess waste through rinsing and refilling the sink. When you think about it, if you fill your sink or one side if you have a double sink to wash your dishes, by the time you reach that tenth plate, how clean is that water?Washing your dishes with this next method saves more water than filling a sink and rinsing after each dish:

  • Scrape any excess food off the plates and into the trash. Don’t allow water pressure to do what a little elbow grease can.
    • Rinse the dishes with water.
    • Turn off the water and scrub with soap and a wet cloth. Or you can use one of those handy soap filled scrubbers.
    • Try to clean as many dishes as possible before rinsing them again.
    • Turn on the water long enough to rinse again. And try to rinse them all at the same time.

If you have a double sink, place all dishes on one side in a drying rack and rinse them together. This will avoid using water to rinse each individ­ual dish.The easiest and greenest way to clean your dishes just happens to be the laziest. So, go ahead and lounge on the couch. Relax, di­gest, and sleep while the dishwasher does all the dirty work!Great Green Tip Try dining by candlelight with your spouse, partner, roommate, significant other, alone, or with your kids. Take the time to relax and unwind. Or curl up with your favorite book, and allow the ambiance and the soft, flickering candles to do their thing. If you want to go that extra green mile, use soy candles to create that glow.

6 Ways To Add Personality To Your Walls

Are you simply tired of the same four walls in your home? Want to do something different or try something new? Here are 6 ways to add personality to your walls today that won’t cost you and arm and a leg!

Without adding accessories to your home, it is essentially just four walls (usually unappealing at that). Your walls determine the mood and personality of your rooms and add a backdrop for everything you choose to display. The techniques described in the article below will help you reinvent your home and add some personality to those boring walls!

Go Stencil-rific
You don’t have to be an artist to get savvy with a paintbrush. With so many arts and crafts stores carrying stencils, you can just about stencil any design on your walls that your heart desires. Consider painting your wall one color and using stencils of your choice to create a border, accent picture frames or mimic a wallpaper design.

Cover the whole wall with wallpaper
Wallpaper is a form of decorating that goes back to the Middle Ages, though not so defined at the time. You may feel that adding wallpaper to your home may give it an outdated or aging look. That is only true if you use a floral design, or a design that would appeal to someone who loves the Victorian era. Wallpapers come in many exciting prints that can help you create a border for your wall. Choose a theme you like! If you are working on a child’s room for example, consider boy or girl cartoons for a wall border. You can find some exceptionally brilliant designs to use to cover the whole wall without taking away from focal points or giving your rooms a dated appearance.

Spice it up with ceramic tiles
Ceramic tiles are a great way to spice up your kitchen or bathroom. Bathrooms can look spa-like and relaxing with tiled designs. Don’t just buy white ceramic tiles, buy different colors and create an interesting geometric pattern for a focal point. Many companies sell printed tiles ranging anywhere from cartoons to country themed roosters. Kitchens look great with a themed tile backsplash. This not only makes mistakes easy to clean, but gives your kitchen a fresh up to date look that many will envy.

Add personality with a vinyl decal
Vinyl decals are becoming more and more popular to add a drop of personality to a room. This is especially a great option to choose if you live in a rental. Most landlords don’t allow you to repaint your walls any color other than white, so adding a focal point to your walls is not easy. Vinyl decals however feature thousands of high quality printed designs that you can safely apply to your walls and remove with no residue left behind. These decals serve as a life-sized wall mural, but don’t require the effort of painting.

Paint your own mural
If you know an artist or you feel confident with a paintbrush, you can paint your own free hand mural. A mural can really draw a space together and this is especially true for children’s rooms or nurseries. Painting a mural from a favorite fairy tale or movie scene can make a room feel like you are there. This also eliminates the need to display too many things on the walls.

Add class with crown molding
Crown moldings are widely available at your local home hardware store and you can easily install these yourself. These strips of plaster or polyurethane create a luxurious look to any room and give your ceilings a sense of height. If your room suffers from a low ceiling and you just feel that the walls and the ceiling blend, adding strips of crown molding can be the cure!

Designing the perfect wall is a little more than choosing a bucket of paint. As this article helped point out, there are a myriad of options you can consider to decorate your walls. You can easily tackle any of these projects in a weekend’s worth of time!

7 Ways That You Can Fix Up Your Bathroom On A Small Budget

There’s really no need to think you’ve got to take out a loan to redecorate your bathroom. Sometimes, to get a really big return all it takes is some small, simple changes like replacing some faucets or hanging a new shower curtain to really give your bathroom some visual appeal. There’s really a lot of different things that you can do to refresh your bathroom, but here’s 7 ways that you can fix up your bathroom on a small budget, say less than $500.

A bathroom remodel gives you really good return on your investment. Home buyers frequently consider the quality of the bathrooms when they make buying decisions. However, a total remodel can be quite expensive. Here are some ideas on how you can upgrade your bathroom without spending a huge sum of money.

A new coat of paint can always freshen up any room. Paint can hide minor wall imperfections. For your bathroom, experiment with different painting techniques to give you the effect that you want. The good thing is that the wall space is small, so you can repaint the walls fairly quickly.

If your cabinets look old and tired, you can refinish them. Old hardware can be replaced to make the cabinets look interesting. You can go with something modern-looking or something classic.

Replace an old toilet seat with a new one. If the base is still structurally sound, there is no need to replace it. A new seat is not expensive, and you can choose from many styles. It is the next best thing to replacing the entire toilet.

You can add life to a boring mirror by adding a frame around it. You can custom make a frame by using molding that is cut at a 45 degree angle. Measure your mirror carefully. You can browse the selection of molding at your local home center to pick the one that suits your bathroom decor the best.

You can use old drapery to make a nice, stylish shower curtain. All you need is a shower liner for the inside. The outer, decorative side can be anything that you wish. Using your old drapery is one way to extend the use of something that you have. The look of a bathroom can be enhanced by a nice bathroom rug. A plush rug adds a bit of luxury to the bathroom. You can also use decorative towels to finish the look. Lovely bathroom ensembles and towel sets are available at many discount merchants, so you do not have to spend a lot of money.

Bathroom fixtures can be easily replaced, and can really change the way your bathroom looks and feels. Old and stained fixtures make the bathroom look run-down. Shiny, new fixtures can add beauty to the bathroom. Your bathroom light fixtures can also be replaced for a new look. If you still have the old fluorescent lights that emits harsh, white light, replace it with a softer light. Finish off the decor with scented candles and potpourri.

Many people cannot afford a complete bathroom renovation. However, as you can see, there are ways to upgrade your bathroom without breaking the bank. If the tub, sink, and toilet are structurally sound, there is really no need to replace them. Focus on the visual improvement of the area. Make your enhancements little by little, one step at a time. Before long, you will have a beautiful bathroom with an upgraded look that you and your whole family can enjoy.

All it takes really is just a few relatively inexpensive but key updates to make a drastic difference in a bathroom. You can easily make a good thing even better by simply updating the lighting and splashing on a fresh coat of paint. It’s been said time and time again in the decorating/remodeling world that if you are on a budget, paint is your friend. Good words to remember anytime. If you shop around, there’s no reason why you couldn’t add new counter tops to complete the overhaul totaling less than $500. Take these 7 ways that you can fix up your bathroom on a small budget and combine them with your own ideas and see what you come up with today. If you’ve got a good idea, be sure to share it with us in the comments below.

Simple Steps To Follow on Basement Remodeling

If you’ve got a full house and looking to make better use of your basement, you should really think about doing some basement remodeling. Take a little time, invest a little money, and extend a little bit of effort towards remodeling your basement and you can reap the rewards as your family expands and grows. A well-built and designed basement can serve a multitude of purposes for not only your immediate family but for anyone that may visit you as well. And if you are strapped for a little cash, you could even rent it out to someone looking for a place to stay. If you are in the market to redo your basement, you might want to keep reading as there are some things that you should take notice of.

One of the biggest steps in giving your basement a new look is finishing the ceilings, walls and floor. If it’s already framed out and ready, then don’t forget about the color. A good coat of paint can really improve the overall look of your basement. One thing to keep in mind is that basements are naturally dark, so try to stick to lighter or brighter colors.

If you are looking to make your basement a warm and inviting place, there’s a couple things to think about here. Although wood doesn’t do that well in a basement, a wood finish on your walls can really make the place feel like home. Avoid simply painting the floor as that doesn’t do much to warm the place up. Instead, think about using some laminate or carpet tiles, it’ll make not only the place feel a little more live able, but it’ll keep your feet warmer as well instead of walking on a cold and bare concrete floor.

Waterproofing Is A Necessity

To really add an extra layer of protection, since most all basements are underground, you should apply a waterproofing compound to the walls. If you have any cracks in your walls or floor you need to make sure to fill them and seal them. Never nail your frame directly to the basement wall, this will ensure that you have proper distance and ventilation to keep the basement clean and dry. You do this with furring strips, just make sure that you keep them evenly spaced at about 16 inches apart as most panels come in 4 foot width increments (48 inches). This will allow for proper fastening.

Speaking of furring strips and fastening, you should always use concrete nails if attaching them directly to the wall. If you are attaching them to the frame, you might instead go with some type of adhesive. Some people will use a wood glue when attaching the panels to the frames or strips, but I’d suggest using nails. Just make sure to countersink them in and then fill the tops with a wood putty.

Basements Are Stuffy So Let Them Breathe

If you are installing the basement walls yourself, make sure to leave enough room for ventilation. Make sure to use a couple ventilators between the concrete wall and the panels. Also, be sure to measure for electrical outlets and cut them in correctly. You don’t want a big mouse hole looking thing sticking out either above or below your actual outlet plate attached on the walls.

Don’t Be Afraid

The basement is one area, if you are looking for just some more room to stretch out, where you can let your creative juices flow. Come up with your own theme. Use paints and colors to match it. If you are a big baseball fan, think about what your favorite stadium or team is and go with it. Decorate and colorize it to your liking. Take note of how much lighting you have in the room overall and see where you could put some accent lights to really catch someones eye.

But most of all, just remember that your overall objective of your basement remodeling project is to make your basement a place where you’d want to be. It should fit your style, your comfort zone, and be a place where you can come and kick off your shoes for a while and relax the way you want to and how you want to.

Do Outdoor Lights Really Work At Keeping Burglars Away

Using outdoor lighting is one thing that homeowners do in order to discourage thieves from trying to break into their homes. And one of the things that we can do to keep our homes safe from burglary is to understand the different factors that would not make our home a target to thieves in the first place. Studies done back in 2008 reveal that 65% of the million and a half cases of burglary that happened in the same year was during daylight hours.

This happens because most houses stand empty during the day; nobody’s home. So, if 65% of all reported burglaries happened during the time of the day when there is sunlight, is there really a relationship between the absence or presence of outdoor lighting and the possibility of a burglary being committed? So darkness then, is not a huge factor causing burglary.

If this is the case then why not just put up a lot of outdoor lights and keep them running all night? There are actually a number of reasons why using outdoor lighting indiscriminately; flooding your property in artificial light during the nighttime is not a very good idea. You would be wasting energy, for one thing and then there are the possible health hazards of using too much artificial light around your home and of cause, the fact that you would have very cranky neighbors the following day. There are in fact cases when the use of too much artificial light has even encouraged burglars from stealing rather than deter them.

In any situation, artificial lights installed and used incorrectly reduces the safety and security in any property. The glare coming off the many artificial lights you use around your home actually prevents your neighbors and even police officers from clearly seeing trespassers in your property. In addition, using too much artificial light casts shadows in areas around your house that burglars could use as camouflage.

There is no denying that the correct use of outdoor lights can effectively deter or discourage burglars. This is why taking the time to learn more about outdoor lighting is important as well as how and where you should install them around your property. You could discuss the details with the dealers you are going to buy outdoor lights from so they can give you advice about installation and proper use considering that you are going to spend a lot of money on them anyway.

Gas Furnace Electric Furnace Or Heat Pump What Is The Best Choice

Weather changes with the seasons, and most of us spend at least some time each year looking at ways to control our temperature. In most cases, people start to look for a furnace in order to do this. Generally speaking, we will do some research into the two main kinds of furnaces, being the gas and the electric version.

However, a furnace may not be the right choice at all. Of course, whether or not it is the right decision for you to move away from furnaces depends on your own situation. Some of the things to consider include how much you care about the environment, what you class as comfortable and where you live. Choosing a heat pump is a really good alternative. These are more environmentally sound, and often also much more efficient in terms of how much they cost to operate.

Heat pumps are by far the best option when it comes to carbon footprints. This is because they only use minimal electricity and then use heat from the air or earth to generate energy. However, the emissions created by an electric furnace are pretty much the same. Gas furnaces are the worst when it comes to their carbon footprint.

However, for many, it isn’t just about the green deal. There are also people who feel that operating costs are the most important factor, because they want to have some money to spend as well. If you are one of these people, the heat pump may just be the best solution out there for you too. The reality is that heat pumps are up to twice more economical compared to all of the other options that are out there.

On the other hand, it must be said that the heat pump is more expensive to purchase. Of course, the return on investment is a lot quicker. Technically, natural gas furnaces produce heat more efficiently than other options. However, only those that live in areas where there is plenty of natural gas will find this an affordable option.

As such, heat pumps will continue to be the best option out there until a new source of gas has been found. These are but a few of the many factors that will influence which of the options is the right one for you. You may want to try all the different options to see which one works best in terms of making you feel comfortable as well. After all, it also depends on how much heat you need in order to feel comfortable and how quickly you need your space to have warmed up or otherwise come to temperature.