Monthly Home Improvement Projects- AUGUST
​                     EXTERIOR HOUSE PAINTING

August's warmer weather  brings dry days for exterior painting. An average exterior paint job will last between 8-10 years  if you do it right!

The important thing is the preparation.  If prepped and painted with good quality paints it will withstand the elements.

Tips for a lasting paint job.
1.  Make sure you hose or power wash the outside to remove loose paint, dirt and dust.
2.  Remove peeling paint with a wire brush, scraper, or a putty knife- * homes built before 1978 required paint chips to be tested for LEAD. 
3.  Look for any rotting wood, around eaves, sills and soffits. Replace if necessary to eliminate additional deterioration. * prime all bare wood prior to painting.
4.  Use a high quality, exterior paintable caulk to fill cracks and seal around windows and doors.* Be sure to allow caulk to dry before painting or the weight of the paint will 'drag' the caulk out of the cracks.
5.  Next, use a high-quality, exterior latex paint.  You should apply the finish paint in two coats, allowing time between them to dry.

If your home is under a canopy of trees where it remains wet or damp, you will often see mildew on the siding. ​You can remove this by using a homemade solution of Bleach, Water and Detergent.  Use one part bleach to 4 parts of water a a couple drops of liquid dish detergent. Small areas can be applied with a spray bottle or use a pump sprayer for larger areas.
Be sure to wear safety glasses when spraying over head.  Because it contains bleach- make sure to cover, move or wet plants in the area, so it does not damage them.  
Leave the solution on for 10-15 minutes, no longer than 20 minutes and then rise the area thoroughly.

More Helpful Tips-
Scroll down to see each months Home Improvement tips
Monthly Home Improvements- September
Getting Ready for Winter- It needs to happen at the right time of year.

After the high summer heat, and before the harsh winter cold, there are several home maintenance projects that need to be completed.

Furnace: inspect filters, registers/ grills or other heat sources and replace all soiled filters.  Cleaning duct work is a plus.

Gutters: Cleaning out gutters and downspouts can stop water and ice that will eventually push up shingles and cause ice dams.

Chimney:  Before utilizing the chimney for the first time of the season, make sure the chimney and vents are in proper working order.​

Water Heater/ pipes: Insulation blankets and heat tapes can save frustration in the cold months.  Make sure to keep heat sources away from flammable objects.

Monthly Home Improvements- October
Install a Tile Backsplash
Installing a tile backsplash will give a modern, stylish focal point to your kitchen. You will need to plan ahead so your kitchen is not in the middle of a remodel as Thanksgiving approaches.  

You will need to determine how much tile you will need, and remember to take the measurements with you while shopping, so you can be sure to have the correct amounts.

The most common tile sizes are a 4 by 4 inch tile, rectangle Subway tile, and Mosaic tiles.  You should be able to visit any home center or Tile and Floor covering showroom to see samples.

A word of caution is to choose your color pallet based on your cabinets or flooring rather than on the color of your window treatments or access colors in the kitchen.  As these things are easily changed and you may not continue to be happy with the mix of colors.

When installing a pattern or design- make sure your dimensions are perfect. Being off, even by a quarter of an inch will show when the pattern is complete.  Grout lines will stand out if uneven or crooked.

Now you must decide if this is a project you wan to handle yourself or hire a professional to install, the more elaborate and complex the design the more difficulty in installation.

Always buy a little more tile than the dimensions call for, that way you have enough to cover mistakes, wrong cuts and waste. 

Monthly Home Improvement- November
Old World charm, character or modern sleek lines
No matter what style home you have, you can add charm and character to it with just a few extra boards.  Yes, I am talking about trim or crown or molding as it is often called.

If you already have crown molding, a chair rail, shadow boxes or wainscoting a new coat of paint in a different color will really make it stand out and people will ask you if it is new. It is less expensive and much faster than a new install.

You can paint all trim throughout the house (or level) the same color to give a smooth unified look to the floor.

If you have a focal point in a room such as built-ins, fireplace mantel or something you would like to stand out, paint that with a different color trim paint to make it pop. 

Like most design elements, new home construction offers a range of trim packages to fit most budgets.  If you have a lower grade package and want to make a room more elegant (formal dining room), try replacing the molding with a taller or wider base trim or crown.  It will give the look of an expensive element that is affordable.

Add crown molding to a living room or bedroom to add a high end look and feeling of luxury. 

By installing wainscoting or chair rail in a dining room, formal living room or a foyer/entryway you can add dimension to the space.  By painting the upper half a lighter color than the bottom half, you give the appearance that the space has higher ceilings. 

              Monthly Home Improvements- December
   Time to Clean out your Closets- Donate, recycle, reuse.   
Decluttering in time for the holidays.  What better way to clean out and help others at the same time then donating to a local organization.  There are several in our area to choose from. Community Aide, Salvation Army, Good Will, Volunteers of America, GreenDrop Centers are all local and most have pick up services. Not to mention the year-end tax deductions.

So as not to get overwhelmed- work in only one closet or area at a time.  As anyone with a child knows, the more the mess, the longer the process.

I would recommend making four piles. One for each KEEP,  DONATE, TRASH and RECYCLE.

KEEP: Only keep the items IF it still fits, if you have used it recently (within a year) and it is either in style or vintage and has value.

DONATE: Items that have been packed away in a box for more than a year and that have much life left in it and has all the parts/pieces with it. 

TRASH: Anything that you would not purchase for yourself or a family member.  Broken, missing parts, rusted, incomplete items should be thrown away.

RECYCLE: Metal or plastic items, flower pots into yard art, old lamp shades into hanging lights, colored wine bottles into glasses or planters, etc. 

         Monthly Home Improvement- January

      Organize and restock your Kitchen Pantry

With the start of a new year, why not stock your pantry with healthier foods.  You can accomplish this by cleaning out older, outdated staples and replace them with healthier versions. Read on for examples of swaps that might be an option for your family. 

Replace- Vegetable Oil with Extra- Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Replace- Mayonnaise and sour cream with Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Replace- White granulated Sugar with All Natural Honey
Replace- Oatmeal with Quinoa (stir in almond milk, dried fruits or nuts and drizzle with the honey for a substitute for plain old oatmeal.

* Designate and label each area with the most common food group it will belong to.

Baking Supplies-store dry items in air tight containers along with canned filings.
Easy M thru F meals- use folding bins to group each nights fixings in a bin, with a note as to which healthy fridge options  go along with it.
Everyday food storage- group by can or box items by sides, veggies, sauces, etc.
Lunches- makes it fun for children to pack their own healthy lunch, store pudding or fruit cups, crackers or trail mix and allow them to pick a cold option like apple slices.
Breakfast items- breads, muffins, fruit ,peanut butter and jelly, Quinoa, etc.

By cleaning out the pantry, you will be able to make sure that nothing has expired or needs to be replaced. When replacing items look for the healthy alternatives.​ Keep healthy snacks in arms reach of the little ones to encourage healthy eating habits.

Garage Clutter, we all have it. It seems to be the place that everything without a 'home' ends up, cramped in a corner. 

• Decide what you want to accomplish- have room for a work shop, park a car or two, or just organize the stuff you do have. Your end goal determines what you need to do.
• Sort through your stuff. Just as you would do with a closet, decide what you want to keep, what you can give away, and what should be recycled or discarded.
• Store items in areas/ shelves/ cabinets based on what it is used for, (e.g., gardening tools and supplies, lawn care, decorations). Cabinets, shelves, pegboard, hooks, and labels will help you find items easier.
• Get rid of the junk. Make sure that items that should not go in the landfill (e.g., chemicals, tires) are disposed of in an appropriate manner. Have a Garage Sale and earn a little extra cash while gaining a lot more room.
Organize the Garage- July
Spring is a great time to paint inside because you can leave windows and doors open for ventilation. 
If you're painting to put your house on the market, use neutral colors so that the potential buyer can see their furniture and window treatments in the space without the fear of added time & expenses for repainting. It is worthy to note that paint often dries darker or brighter than the swatches. It may also look different once dried on the surface in natural sun light than it does under a lamp light. 
It is important to remember that preparation is key, that  can be the difference between a flawless finish or flaws in the finish.

Here are some preparation tips:

• If painting woodwork, lightly sand it to create a better surface for holding paint.
• Repair any cracks or holes. Sand the repairs smooth and then prime.
• Use a stain-blocking primer to hide water stains or marks on old drywall or plaster.
• Remove any door and window hardware you can; tape off any hardware that remains. REmove light switch and receptacle covers. 
• Move furniture and small breakables out of the room if you can;  using caution with breakables.
• Cover remaining furniture and the floor with tarps or plastic.
Repaint and Refresh a Room- June
Ah, May...the unofficial beginning of Grilling season!
Time to prep your deck for all those summer parties. 
*Start now to be ready for the summer by cleaning, repairing, staining your deck.
* Use furniture to create intimate seating areas near a fire pit or lounge area. Add to the grilling station with pub style seating for dining. 
* To help with background highway noises, consider a water feature to help drown it out. 
* retractable awnings add a nice shade element to the space, but a pergola can create a soothing area to relax in.
* for night entertaining, consider fairy lights, hanging lanterns or candles for a warm glow.
* create living walls, gardens or arrange colorful pots of fragerant blooms for your guests to enjoy.  
Deck Entertaining- May
 Do you want crystal clear, streak free Windows?

 Wash your windows on a cool, overcast day for best results. ( the cool temperatures won't allow for the water to dry  and streak before wiping them. You should wash the windows twice a year; once in April to wash away the harsh winter grime and then again in the fall for the pollen and insects left behind by summer. 

It is best to spray/hose the windows before starting, then use a sponge and dish washing liquid  in warm water. 
Once washed, use a lint-free clean towel, newspaper or even coffee filters to wipe the panes. Take care of the edges and sills with a clean towel. Don't forget to clean the screens and storm windows too.
Window Washing- April 
Don't get Floored!- Install Laminate Flooring- March
Tired of that old scared vinyl flooring, outdated and mismatched?  Now you have a better solution. Laminate flooring is economical, durable, easy to install by 'clicking' the pieces together and come in many different color choices. 

They look like real hardwood but are actually a product called MDF, Medium-density Fiberboard pressed in between plastic laminate. Many are seamlessly put together by a tongue and groove system which can often be installed by two people in a single day, depending on the size of the room.

These are especially good for older floors because they are laid on top of a thin foam membrane to lock out moisture and are glue at the edges which allows for easy install. Even though it lays on the pad it is not recommended for a bathroom where water can seep below it and cause warping or mold. Recommend to check the manufacturers product details. 

Most of the product available today is scratch and stain resistant making them a budget-friendly choice for many home owners looking to update their homes. 

The bathroom and kitchen are two rooms that, if updated, will increase your homes value. Because of the cost and time involved, many potential home buyers look for these areas to be recently updated, and as such are willing to pay more for the home.

By replacing old, worn out fixtures with more modern, efficient hardware you can change the look of the room. Satin Nickle is a popular finish, but remember if replacing your faucets with a new finish color to also replace the towel bar, toilet paper holder and light fixtures to match.  

A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling will brighten the room. Use a mold and mildew proof primer and finish paint.  Again, go for neutrals if putting your home on the market, potential buyers don't want the added expense of having to paint over deep purple walls. 

If you cannot afford to replace cabinets, have them refinished or painted and add new handles and hinges for a instant visual impact.

Add a pop of color with your accessories, like hand towels, candles, artwork or soaps.