5 DIY Fall Yard Cleanup Tips

100_3041(BPT) – Fall is the perfect time to give your lawn the extra attention and care it needs – especially after an action-packed summer. Inclement weather, extreme temperatures and heavy foot traffic can take a toll on your yard, and inhibit the overall health and growth of your lawn. It’s important to let your lawn recover during the fall and make sure it has the nutrients and strength it needs for the coming months.

Consider these fall yard cleanup tips to help get your lawn back in shape and ready for winter.

Rake – Raking is one of the most common yet effective ways to clear leaves and other small debris like twigs from your yard. Easily remove leaves by raking onto a tarp, which allows you to drag and dump the leaves. If you experience backaches while raking, it’s best to use an ergonomic rake to help reduce pain often caused by repetitive motion.

Split logs – Neglecting large tree branches or limbs left in your yard from harsh winds and severe storms can compact soil and weaken grass. Clear your yard by using a log splitter, like the Yard Machines 21-Ton Log Splitter, to quickly and efficiently spilt wood instead of using an axe. For safety purposes, always place the log splitter on a flat, dry and solid surface, and then secure the wheels to prevent the splitter from moving during operation.

Clean gutters – Downspouts and gutters can fill up with leaves, dirt and other debris over time, keeping water from properly draining. This can cause gutters to overflow, which may lead to a flooded landscape and slick walkways, so be sure to thoroughly clean your gutters and remove objects that could disrupt or block water flow.

Fertilize – Applying fertilizer to your lawn helps grass rejuvenate from the summer heat and gives it the strength it needs to survive the winter. This will also help grass establish strong roots and improve soil richness for the coming spring.

Weed – Since weeds start to store food in their roots during the fall to prepare for the winter, it’s best to remove as many as possible – including the roots – to prevent regrowth. After you’ve finished weeding, cover landscape areas with mulch or rock to block sunlight and deter growth.

For more yard cleanup tips and information about equipment to help you achieve a better lawn, visit mtdproducts.com.

4 Benefits of Choosing Fiberglass Windows

fiberglass windowsThere are a lot of things to consider when installing new windows in your home. Of course, you want them to become an integral decorative addition to the exterior of your home and look (and stay!) beautiful for years. However, another aspect of your windows you might not have thought about is whether or not they’re made with the environment in mind. More often than not, materials that are built with the environment in mind can also positively impact your energy costs. Here are four reasons why fiberglass is the ultimate material for windows:

1) Easily Customized Exterior

One of the most beloved things about fiberglass is how it can be customized to achieve just the right look and feel for your home. Many fiberglass windows come finished with a coat of exterior acrylic and can be complemented by a number of different colors. Colors may include white, sierra, bronze, brown and more. Additionally, fiberglass finishes are incredibly durable and won’t corrode, blister, or peel over time, nor will you ever have to re-paint. Just wipe down with a little warm water or a nonabrasive household cleaner from time to time, and your windows will sparkle just like they did when they were first installed.

2) Interior

Along with the beautiful easily customized exterior finishes, with fiberglass windows, you can also play around with the interior. When adding or replacing your current windows, you’ll want to make sure that not only are they right for your home and your wallet, but right for the style of your home as well. Consider something like Everwood, for instance. This unique composite looks just like real wood, but it’s a whole lot cheaper and more durable. Not only does it stain just like real wood, you’ll find that the color will always stay true and requires no further maintenance. Plus, you can choose whatever color paint or stain you’d like, so you can be sure that your windows match your interior perfectly.

3) 100% Recyclable

If you truly are eco-friendly or environmentally conscious, then fiberglass would be the way to go. In fact, fiberglass is one of the most sustainable window materials available. While superior looks and durability are certainly important, many different variations of fiberglass are recyclable. That means there’s no waste in production, and any excess material can be turned into something new.

4) Expends Less Energy to Produce

Fiberglass takes remarkably less energy to create than vinyl, and 80% less energy than aluminum. Why is this important? The less fuel and electricity used in production means there’s less pollution being put into the environment and less emission of greenhouse gases. Combined with our other efforts to recycle scrap materials, ship efficiently and conserve water in our plants, you can be glad that your fiberglass windows will help ensure you’ll always have a beautiful view.

Bio: Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Marvin Windows NJ blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as fiberglass windows. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

DIY Projects to Help You Whip Winter

dIY1(BPT) – The leaves are starting to fall off the trees, the birds are flying south, and you can feel the temperature dropping. Winter is on its way, and while squirrels pack away food before the first snow fall, you’ll be relieved to know that you still have time to finish some projects listed below to get your home ready for winter.

* Tackle the yard. Your yard will fall into dormancy during the winter, but a little prep now can help your green space bounce back in the spring. Fertilize your lawn using a lawn spreader from your local rental store to turn this all-day chore into a task that takes just a couple of hours. And don’t waste the rest of your day raking the yard; instead, rent a leaf blower to finish this task in a fraction of the time.

* Seal the gaps. Find the places where cold air sneaks into your home, and you will drastically reduce your heating bills throughout winter. Feel along your windows and doors for any drafts. Seal larger cracks with caulk and cover your windows in plastic wrap for comprehensive protection. If you have a real chimney, don’t forget to close the damper to prevent cold air from billowing down the chimney.

* Clean the carpets. The winter season can be hard on your carpets as snow, salt and dirt get tracked in from outside. Cleaning them before winter begins puts them in the best possible shape for the colder months ahead. You may think you need to hire professional carpet cleaners, but you can actually handle this project yourself by renting a carpet cleaner to conquer the task. You can visit RentalHQ.com to find your local rental store and for tips on renting a carpet cleaner.

* Protect pipes from freezing. A ruptured pipe can ruin your home and everything in it. Ruptured pipes occur during winter when the pipes freeze and the frozen water inside expands.DIY2 You can protect against this by never letting your home’s temperature fall below 65 degrees. Wrap pipes running along the exterior walls in heat tape, and be sure to check on your pipes on those bitterly cold nights.

* Empty the gutters. If left unchecked, falling leaves and other debris will clog your gutters and downspouts, which can cause ice dams in the winter. Start by trimming or removing trees and hedges near the gutters. If you lack the tools to complete this project, you can rent a brush cutter, tree trimmer or ladder to do the job. Once obstructions have been removed, clear the gutters to prevent a future home disaster.

These simple steps will help you winterize your home so you can enjoy a happy, hazard-free holiday season. To learn more winterizing tips and to find rental stores in your area, visit RentalHQ.com.

Summer Projects to Make Your Home Sensational

summer(BPT) – Summer is here, and this is the time when you want to be outside as much as possible, soak up the sun, eat amazing food and enjoy the company of family and friends. You’ll also see more of your home’s exterior on days like this than any other time of the year, so this is also a great time to complete those outdoor projects. In fact, 60 percent of homeowners will accomplish a summer home improvement project this year according to survey data from the Zillow Digs Summer Home Improvement Trend and Spending Survey.

Follow these tips to make your home’s exterior shine all summer long.

* Smooth over concrete surfaces. In order to prevent any trips or falls, now is a good time to fix and patch those cracks in the driveway or garage. Be sure to fix them now before they get larger and incur larger repair costs. It will also help to prevent any future accidents. Small cracks can be fixed with concrete caulk while large cracks require a patch. Make sure to clean out the crack before applying either of these substances.

* Repaint the deck. Improving your deck, patio or porch is the seventh most popular home improvement project according to RE/MAX, and it’s easy to see why. When you picture yourself outside on a beautiful summer day, you probably picture yourself sitting on the deck. So, make your deck stand out with a fresh coat of paint. “Decorating outside of your home is now all the rage,” says Matthew Mead, author of Backyard Style. “Your deck needn’t be brown and sullen. Infuse your backyard space by selecting whatever color you want, and spray the floor of your deck with the Wagner Flexio 890. Your deck will be the toast of the neighborhood.”

* Give your old patio furniture a new look. If you’re going to reinvent your deck, why stop there? Why not refresh your patio furniture to complement your deck’s new color, too? “Revive any outdoor furniture with an easy spray using the Wagner Flexio 890,” says Mead. “With a simple coat of paint you can transform tables, chairs and anything wicker in any hue or shade you desire. In my new book Backyard Style, I show how to take simple flea-market finds, and with some paint and very little effort, transform them into show-stopping decorative accessories.”

* Caulk around the windows. This annual project won’t help you enjoy those beautiful summer days, but it will help you survive those sweltering days from the safety of your air-conditioned home. Make sure to caulk around windows and any exterior joints, including doors. Many people think of this as a preventative project for winter, but a fresh application of caulk will protect cool air conditioning from escaping when you need it most.

* Make your home’s exterior sparkle. If your home suffered any damage during the winter, summer is the perfect time for repairs that will make it look great again. Walk around your home and look for damaged or missing siding. Replace these pieces and then use a pressure washer to clean and wash away excess dirt and grime. Using a special detergent appropriate for cleaning your home will give you better results. Once you’re done with the siding, don’t forget to grab the window cleaner and make those windows sparkle.

Each of these projects can return between 67 and 112 percent of their value to your home, according to DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding, not to mention the added joy you’ll receive from these home improvements. So get out there and get to work. The sooner you finish your project, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of summer in style!

How to Give Your House an Annual Checkup

annual home checkups(BPT) – There’s no better time than now to give your home the attention it deserves. Give it an annual checkup before cold weather arrives to help add comfort, save energy and cut home maintenance in the long-run.

When inspecting your home’s windows and doors, here’s what to check:

Inspect interior and exterior finishes: Over time, paint and stain can weather away. Flaking or peeling may mean that it’s time to refinish or replace the unit. When replacing windows or doors, consider factory prefinished wood or fiberglass options from Pella, or vinyl options that don’t need painting or staining, to save time and money.

Look for damaged exterior surfaces or signs of leaks: Check your sprinkler system to make sure it’s watering your lawn and landscape, not soaking your windows or doors. Cracked or deteriorated wood may be a sign of water penetration. Leaks can linger and affect interior walls, floors or ceilings, so look closely for discoloration or other moisture signs.

If you spot a problem, track its trail. For example, discolored trim around a window might actually be caused by moisture entering a ways away. With a leaky roof, water may run down inside the wall and appear at the window. Contact a professional for help in making home repairs.

Clear windowsills and tracks of dirt and debris: Sand, leaves, insects or pine needles stuck in weather-stripping can affect the performance of your windows and doors. Open the windows and clean the opening with a soft brush, like a dry paint brush or vacuum attachment. Do the same for sliding patio doors.

Try opening and closing: Open your windows and doors to make sure moving parts work, and units close properly. Replace worn or broken parts.

Inspect weather-stripping: Re-attach loose weather-stripping around windows or doors, and replace material that’s ripped or torn.

columnsReplace or repair broken locks: If locks feel loose or don’t work smoothly, replace them. Keep windows and doors locked when not in use. Locks help hold doors and windows tightly, to lock out rain, wind, snow and insects.

Inspect weep and breather holes: Weep holes in the exterior of windows, allow excess moisture to escape, while breather holes allow air exchange within certain components. Clear blocked holes of dirt or debris with a wire or toothpick.

Check exterior sealants and caulk on and around windows and doors. Pay attention to areas susceptible to rain, water and extreme sunlight. Remove damaged material and reapply sealant.

In coastal locations, rinse exterior metal like exterior aluminum trim or cladding: Rinsing exterior metal parts three or four times a year can help extend the life of your windows and doors by minimizing corrosion from salt spray or fog.

Feel for signs of air leakage around the window or door: Improperly installed windows or doors can be drafty, decrease energy efficiency, and allow unwanted moisture into your home. To help save on utility bills and keep your home more comfortable year-round, replace drafty old, leaky windows with new, ENERGY STAR-qualified Pella windows installed properly.

Visit Pella Windows and Doors on Pinterest for design inspiration or Pella.com/news to connect with a Pella representative for tips on caring for your windows and doors, or choosing new replacements.

 

Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Trim

curb appeal(BPT) – Curb appeal relies not just on the color of a home’s siding or the beauty of its landscaping, but on often-overlooked, underplayed details. Whether it’s charming intricate gingerbread scrolls on the porch, or fluted door casing that imparts an elegant, upscale look, trim can have a strong impact on a home’s curb appeal.

“Trim adds that final touch to a home. For historical or traditional designs, trim can be machined into ornate profiles. For a contemporary look, thicker trim, such as 1-inch thick trim, can add depth to a home with the reveal’s shadow,” says Peggie Bolan, vice president, building products, for JELD-WEN, Inc.

While wood has long been a popular material for trim applications, it’s no longer the only option. Wood composite trim, such as MiraTEC Treated Exterior Composite Trim, delivers flexibility and durability. Designed for outdoor use, MiraTEC trim offers a wood grain texture on one side and is smooth on the other. It resists moisture, rot and termites. Made in the USA from renewable materials, MiraTEC has been on the market since 1999 and offers a 50-year warranty.

If you’re looking to boost your home’s curb appeal, here are a handful of trim projects that can create a whole new look the exterior of your home.

Add architectural detail to your porch – One of the most eye-catching ways to dress up a home’s facade is to incorporate architectural detail into a porch, such as the intricate gingerbread scrolls often seen on the porches of Victorian-style homes. Trim can also be used to create column wraps that transform a utilitarian porch post into a design statement.

Make your windows stand out – While windows bring light into your home, window trim brings character to the outside of your home. Adding wider trim to a window creates a reveal that adds depth. Trim can be also machined into moldings, medallion and other architectural details to add a sophisticated look.

Update the look of your front door – The front door is a significant design element of your home’s facade and the one that helps visitors visually transition from the exterior design to the interior decor. Door casing can be simple and traditional, or you can create a bolder, more dramatic look by adding fluted vertical trim and decorative molding on top of the doorway.

To learn more about trim, how it impacts your home’s curb appeal and MiraTEC products, visit www.miratectrim.com.

 

Budget Kitchen Makeover

counter(BPT) – Kitchen makeover: 3 simple tips for beauty on a budget

If you’re tired of looking at your outdated kitchen, but feel replacement would be impractical, you’re not alone. In 2014, consumers will be trying to find solutions they can afford to do themselves. Check out these three DIY remodeling trends for simple and unique ways to refresh the most used rooms in the home.

1. Mini-makeover kits

You may be the type who prefers to opt out when it comes to getting your hands dirty. If so, you will be pleased to know that as the DIY or the “do-it-yourself” movement grows, so are the increasingly easy product/project solutions.

Many larger retailers have caught on to this home DIY trend and have begun stocking mini-makeover kits. Each kit is designed for a specific project with simple application tools.

Among the hottest right now: kits that include everything you need for countertop, cabinet or appliance refinishing. The new Giani Granite countertop kit covers all typical existing counter surfaces and transforms your laminate or composite material into the look of natural granite. These kits stress the ease of application as “being easy enough for anyone.”

Nuvo Cabinet refinishing kits are designed for the DIYer who is looking for an easy makeover project. They do not require pre-priming, sanding or even removing the cabinet doors. So before you hire a contractor, check out the mini-makeover movement because remodeling may now be simple enough for even the most DIY challenged.

2. Upcycling

Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. For example: using slices of used corks to create a cork mosaic backsplash. Home decor artist Nicole Fleming agrees, “There seems to be something more genuine about the story and pride each repurposing project provides compared to owning something that has been mass manufactured.”

Upcycling also makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage print. Some avid upcyclers even argue thatkit repurposing instead of recycling can actually be more beneficial because recycling requires energy or water to break down materials, while upcycling only requires your own resourceful creativity. So instead of throwing out your junk try the smart alternative of upcycling by turning your throw aways into something genuinely sensational.

3. Pin-spiration

Many homeowners wanting to spruce up their kitchen, struggle with knowing where to begin. When looking for kitchen design inspiration, start your project online. Turn to popular social networking sites that focus on sharing innovative ideas. Among the hottest right now is Pinterest, whose focus provides tips on everything from small decor crafts to full room renovations. Pinterest also allows you to engage with other users and discuss projects, helping to work out any remodeling hurdles.

Large hardware companies like Home Depot and Lowes – as well as the remodeling HGTV Network have caught on to this useful online plethora of tips. They understand why one single place to get millions of ideas and tutorials on home projects holds such importance.

Before you decide a kitchen refresh is too difficult or impractical, check out these three popular trends and begin making what you have, look like a million bucks.

Energy Efficient Home Upgrades

energy saverSave green indoors and out with energy-efficient home upgrades

(BPT) – Spring is the perfect time to think green. For some it’s spurred by the coming of Earth Day, others the renewed greening of our lawns. And many are motivated by the desire to save a little green in their wallets with a fresh new season of home repairs. If you’re one of these people, you can help save some green for the planet, as well as your hard-earned cash, by making energy efficient upgrades throughout your home.

Helping the world stay green gained traction with the first Earth Day held March 22, 1970, as declared by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. As a nation, much has been accomplished with the environmental movement, yet there are also easy things you can do at home to “go green” and save money at the same time. Here are some tips for home energy efficiency upgrades indoors and out.

* Cool efficiently: When it comes to home energy bills, heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of the average home’s utility costs, according to energy.gov. Get ready for the hottest days of summer by tuning up your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system so it’s operating efficiently. Change your HVAC filters regularly. In addition, if your cooling system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with one that has a Seasonal Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 20.00 for better savings. Trane’s XL20i, for example, can mean a savings of up to 60 percent on your annual cooling costs – that’s cool cash in your pocket.

* Programmable temperature controls: A programmable HVAC control can reduce energy consumption by up to 15 percent compared to traditional nonprogrammable thermostats. Today’s HVAC control systems, like the Trane ComfortLink II Control, now monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures, plus home energy use over time, to help you manage energy and comfort even further.

* Conserve water: Remember, water isn’t free. Indoors, lower water bills by installing low-flow water fixtures including toilets, showerheads and faucets. Outdoors, add a water-saving spigot for the garden hose. To avoid water evaporation, water your plants early or late in the day, and when your green lawn starts to grow, don’t mow too low. If you have lawn sprinklers, double check that they are set to water grass and shrubbery instead of the driveway or sidewalk. Rather than hose down your deck to clean it, save water by sweeping instead.

* Lighting: About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs, according to energy.gov – in fact, by just replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared with traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six times longer. You can save even more energy and wasted heat by switching to LEDs. Outdoor lights using CFLs or LEDS save energy, too, so look for ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures designed for outdoor use.

By taking these steps, you can help make the world a little greener, keep your home a little greener, and save even more green where it really hits home – in your wallet.

 

Invest in Your Home with a Wood Deck

deck(BPT) – A wood deck is one of the best investments a homeowner can make.

As the seasons turn, more homeowners look for projects that not only make their homes more livable, but also offer great return on investment. With demand high across the country for outdoor spaces that bring the comforts of the indoors outside, there’s no surprise that decks are one of the top remodeling projects for 2014.

In fact, a residential wood deck addition has a recouped cost of 87.4 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the second highest ROI midrange project only behind an entry door replacement. That means adding a deck to your property will increase your livable space so you can enjoy the outdoors more, and you can rest easy knowing you’re boosting the value of your home investment.

If you think you’d like to add a wood deck to your home, you might wonder about the different material options. “Although composite and PVC decking have gained popularity in recent years, pressure-treated wood decking still carries the lion’s share of the market because it’s inexpensive, easy to work with and can be found at any lumberyard,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products, a leading supplier of lumber and decking materials.

Today’s pressure-treated lumber comes with advancements that weren’t available to homeowners just a few years ago. For example, with more homeowners seeking eco-friendly building materials, wood suppliers are exploring environmentally preferred treatment methods. For example, ProWood’s micronized copper azole (MCA) treated lumber decking is eco-friendly, cost effective and easy to install.

MCA is a method for treating the wood (typically pine) using an EPA-registered waterborne wood preservative system to protect against termite attack and rot. MCA-treated lumber provides a light, natural look, unlike other pressurized wood treatments that result in the greenish hue with which most people are familiar.

You can leave MCA treated lumber in its natural state for a more organic appearance in your outdoor spaces, or you can choose ProWood Dura Color decking that is color-infused with pigment driven deep into the wood fibers. This process creates beautiful treated wood grain that will stand up to the elements for many years, with no need for staining.

“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they quickly fade to gray,” says Fox. “ProWood Dura Color lumber not only looks like natural cedar or redwood, but the color lasts much longer and is backed by a two-year color assurance warranty”

When researching treated wood materials for outdoor home improvement projects, such as a deck addition, Fox suggests discussing the project with the local lumber dealer and to be sure to understand and check the end tag for:

1. The description of use (above ground or ground contact)
2. Warranty statement
3. The quality standards it meets
4. Third-party quality inspection (which assures product has passed retention and penetration tests).

To learn more about the MCA process and get ideas about outdoor home improvement projects, visit www.prowoodlumber.com. Research proves a wood deck is a sound investment, and now with new eco-friendly decking materials, homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to improving their home’s exterior spaces.

 

How To Choose the Right Windows for Your Home

 

JroppoWhether you’re getting ready for a window replacement project for your property or building a new home, choosing the right windows can seem like a major task. You’ll need to decide whether you want fiberglass, vinyl or wood-clad, but the decisions don’t end there. Homeowners also need to choose the right style window and grille. Learn more about the specific styles that work for each property type so you can keep it looking great.

 

What Type Of Window For A Tudor Home?

 

If you have a Tudor style, your windows will likely be double hung styles with a pattern near the top of the glass or casement styles with six to eight panes or simulated-divided -lights separated by muntins. Muntins are small strips of metal or wood that hold each individual pane of glass in place or mimic the look of individual panes of glass, however they can also be called glazing bars, grilles, grids or muntin bars. A casement window will open from the side to provide a large vertical opening, while double hung styles can open from either the top or the bottom, allowing homeowners to customize the breeze that comes into their house.

 

Do You Have A Modern Property? 

 

Modern windows use single, large panes of glass without any grilles or other adornments. The look is clean, sleek and modern and provides an unobstructed view of the outdoors, which is great if you’re trying to keep an eye on your kids playing outside.

 

What Type For A Farmhouse?

 

If you have a farmhouse, your property is built for function and simplicity. Windows in a farmhouse are typically two panes of glass divided by a muntin in the middle. It’s not uncommon for a farmhouse to feature double hung styles to create a breeze through the house from both the top and the bottom.

 

What Style Works In A Craftsman House?

 

Many styles work in a Craftsman home — from large picture windows that don’t actually open to functional ones that use a combination of full panes on the bottom and divided panes at the top. It’s not uncommon for a working window to be a double hung style so homeowners can choose to open them from the top or the bottom.

 

Do You Have a Prairie House?

 

If you have a prairie style home, the casement style is right for your house. They’re typically simple and plain, but may have a grid pattern along the sides to add some visual interest.

 

What Type Of Windows For A Cape Cod Or Colonial?

 

Double hung styles are common for a Cape Cod or Colonial home, and these are typically made of six individual panes of glass separated by muntins. Some of these houses may even have a non-functional picture window at the front of the house to add a bit of visual interest.

 

What Style For A Victorian?

 

If you have a true Victorian or just a Victorian style home, a window may include special touches to add visual interest, including colored glass accents, fanlights and diamond-patterned grids. The beauty and light shines through easily, creating a one of a kind look for your home.

 

No matter what style of home you have, it’s important to choose the right windows. If you’re still not sure which type is right for your house, work with a window replacement company. They’ll be knowledgeable about which style will maximize the return on your investment when it’s time to sell your home.

 

About the Author:

Opal Enterprises is a professional window replacement company that loves sharing knowledge with homeowners. For over 10 years, they have been providing windows, siding, and roofing to the Naperville, IL are and western suburbs of Chicago.