Cool Summer Renovation Ideas Keep Homes Comfortable When the Heat is On

23546249_original(BPT) – Once spring cleanup is done, you may feel ready to tackle some renovation projects this summer. If so, you’re not alone: 62 percent of homeowners plan to undertake a home improvement project this year, according to a Harris poll. Homeowners will renovate to improve their home’s appearance, livability and energy efficiency, the survey found.

It’s possible to make renovations that are stylish and also reduce your energy bill. With temperatures heating up this summer, take on renovations that not only make your home more beautiful, but make it cool and comfortable as well.

Here are a handful of projects that can accomplish those goals:

Replacement Windows

You’re probably aware quality new windows can help your home retain heat in the winter, but did you know they can also keep your home cooler in the summer? By tightening your home’s envelope and reflecting heat, energy-efficient windows can help maintain more even temperatures inside your home. What’s more, because they’re energy-efficient, new windows can help your heating-ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems operate more efficiently.

Air Conditioning

If you live in an older home, you may not have the space you need to install a traditional central HVAC unit with ductwork. Adding ductwork can be costly and troublesome, yet you probably don’t love the look of window air conditioners, either. Duct-free split systems like LG’s Art Cool Line provide plenty of cooling power from wall-mounted units that can be subtle or splashy, depending on your design vision. An outdoor unit works in tandem with up to eight interior units for individual room-by-room temperature control. LG offers three interior Art Cool unit styles, including a customizable picture frame, a flat panel with a modern charcoal mirror finish and a traditional unit in sleek white. All feature a hand-held remote control operation, varying fan speeds, quiet operation and auto operation modes for the utmost in comfort this summer.

Window Treatments

Limiting the amount of sunlight that enters and warms a room is an important way to supplement your home’s cooling units. Summer d├ęcor cries out for light, airy window treatments, but you don’t have to give up that bright look to better control sunlight. Window blinds or shades in a slightly darker hue can work well with a lighter looking window treatment while still allowing you to limit sun exposure when you draw them shut. What’s more, cellular shades also have an insulating effect to enhance your windows’ ability to reflect heat in the summer.

Cooler Lighting and Appliances

Electrical appliances and incandescent light bulbs all contribute to the amount of ambient heat in your home. As you’re renovating, replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient options that give off far less heat, such as LEDs or CFLs. Most light fixtures are now able to use these cooler bulbs, so replacing them is easy – and can also help reduce your electricity bill since they use about 80 percent less energy than incandescents, according to the Energy Star program. You can also reduce heat output from appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers by upgrading to more energy-efficient models.

Outdoor Improvements

You can also make outdoor renovation choices that will enhance your home’s beauty and help keep the interior cooler. Strategically plant shade trees to shield windows from the hot sun in summer time. Or, consider adding awnings that will shade windows and doors. For patios and decks, choose materials that reflect heat away from your home and outdoor spaces. Finally, paint siding in a lighter color to help minimize heat absorption.

Summer home renovation projects can be exciting, beautiful and energy efficient when you keep a cool head about your design choices.

4 Ways to Make Your Home Comfortable and Safe for Your Pet

23683274_original(BPT) – For millions of Americans, pets are a member of the family. They provide companionship and countless memories that last a lifetime. Having a pet-friendly home increases the likelihood that these memories will be positive.

These tips can make pet ownership simpler, and create a safer, healthier environment for your four-legged companion.

Pet-friendly flooring

Carpeted flooring can be a challenge for pet owners. Carpet traps unpleasant odors and is difficult to clean. Hardwood, bamboo, laminate and other alternatives – when properly maintained – offer a surface that’s easier to clean, doesn’t trap allergens and doesn’t hide fur or other debris.

Experts like Lumber Liquidators offer a wide selection of flooring options, so you’re sure to find a style and look that will complement your home and is perfect for your pet.

A Space to Call Their Own

Many pets seek shelter when startled by loud noises. Whether it’s the clap of thunder or a boisterous guest, an unexpected noise can send your animal fleeing (or peeing). Having a dedicated space for your pet, be it a mudroom, doorless closet or comfy bed, provides a safe place for your animal during times of stress.

Also, pets need a little down time every once in a while. A cozy nook away from direct sunlight provides a perfect place for them to relax and recharge.

Picking the Best Paint

Even the cleanest of pets can leave marks on your walls. Choosing the right paint can make the difference between a permanent stain and one that’s easily removed. Lower sheens can be difficult to clean, so opt for semi-gloss or satin.

Also, depending on your climate, you may prefer a light or dark paint color. Light colors can help keep your pet cool by reflecting the sun, while darker colors absorb the sun’s heat and can warm the home environment.

Protect Your Curious Pet

Pets are inherently curious. If it’s within reach, chances are it will be investigated with a detective’s attention. Even if the food is safe for pets, the packaging may be harmful. Medications, cleaners and cosmetics should also be kept on high shelves or behind a latched cabinet.

Most pet owners know to keep food and toxins off accessible surfaces, but it’s easy to forget something on a bedside table or the edge of a counter.

Pets require time, attention and love. They will return the favor more naturally in an environment that’s comfortable and safe. Consider these tips for creating a pet-friendly home.

5 Dream Projects for DIYers and the Tools You Need to Get Them Done

22755216_original(BPT) – For many Americans, the longer, warmer days mean an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get to work on a number of home projects. You may plan to plant some new trees, make a new dining room table or just keep up with the usual list of repairs and maintenance items that come with the change of seasons. But if you’re like many DIYers, you have your heart set on some larger projects.

We’re talking about the projects you spend a lot of time gathering ideas and drawing up plans for. The ones you block off weekends for and plan to take a few days off work in order to complete. If someone asks if you’re being overly ambitious, you may say, “Probably.”

Often, one of the logistical challenges with these dream projects is that they tend to require specialized equipment and tools even the most diehard DIYer doesn’t own. The upside is that it’s easy to rent this equipment at your local rental store.

If you’ve had one of the following dream projects on your radar, here’s a look at some of the specialized equipment that will have you building like a pro.

Be a grill-master on a brick barbecue. There are those who enjoy grilling out and those whose life revolves around grilling. For these grill-masters, nothing expresses their passion like a brick grill or oven. And just as satisfying as cooking on one, is building one. To lay the foundation, a concrete mixer is essential. To lay the bricks, you’ll also want to look for a mortar mixer.

Add value to your property with a fence. Cutting the posts and shaping the tops of the fence boards is fun, but the truly backbreaking part of putting in a fence is digging and driving the posts in. Using a pneumatic post hole digger or a power auger to dig those holes will not only save you time, but will save your back as well.

A deck: The essential DIY project. Many of these dream projects require careful site preparation before any hammer or nail makes an appearance. Building a deck requires lots of space, which means you need to clear a good-sized area and maybe remove a tree or two. Even small-sized shrubs can leave behind an unsightly stump that requires a stump grinder to fully remove.

Nothing says summer like hot days and cold drinks in a gazebo. Even if you pride yourself on being able to drive in a nail with one hammer swing, if you’re building a gazebo, you might want to look into renting a nail gun. Not only does a nail gun offer precise placements and strong holds, it also saves an incredible amount of time, especially when it comes to putting the shingles on the roof.

Luxuriate under a pergola. Dating back to courtyards in renaissance Italy, the pergola has become a stylized source of shade in yards and patios across America. Because they tend to be more decorative than gazebos, they require specialized saws such as a miter saw to create snug joints and a router saw for round edges.

While you would need a few extra garages to store all the tools and machines needed to complete every project you want to do, RentalHQ.com can help you find a nearby place to rent the equipment. You’ll save money, storage space and never have to worry about not having the right tool for the job.

5 Innovations in Homebuilding Everyone is Talking About

23240434_original(BPT) – In the last 10 years, televisions have become flatter, video rental stores have nearly disappeared, and phones have become devices that are more like a computer than a phone.

There’s good reason that when most people think about changes in technology, they tend to think about the digital world. After all, with the news full of reports of driverless cars, it’s easy to forget that some of the most important technological advancements are happening around us in ways we may not be aware of – namely – in our homes.

From drywall to windows to insulation, home building materials have developed in a way that might seem like something from a science fiction movie. But as more homeowners are getting accustomed to living with these comforts, they wonder how they ever did without them. Here are five of the most exciting innovations.

Sound-dampening drywall – Everyone wants to go home to some peace and quiet, but in a busy household with televisions, video games and music playing out of surround-sound systems, it can be hard to find quiet. Some look to noise canceling headphones or sound-muffling curtains, but engineers at CertainTeed Gypsum have discovered that something as simple as the right drywall can do wonders in canceling out noise. Their SilentFX(R) QuickCut noise-reducing drywall puts a blanket over sound energy and significantly blocks the amount of sound carried through walls and ceilings.

A new lease on lumber – Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a material made by gluing together smaller pieces of timber to create large slabs that serve as an alternative to steel and concrete. As strong as steel, and in many ways even more fireproof, CLT allows for contractors to put up incredibly durable buildings incredibly fast. With computer-aided design programs, architects can design a building and send the exact specifications to robotic routers that cut the exact dimensions for each piece so that the entire building can be assembled like a big piece of furniture.

Quartz, an engineering miracle – While granite countertops and marble bathtubs may be at the top of everyone’s list, the cost can be prohibitive. Quartz, which is a name for stone that has been engineered by grinding quartz with resins, polymers and coloring, has emerged as a substitute that outperforms granite and marble, for a fraction of a price. Extremely durable and virtually maintenance free, modern engineered quartz comes in a variety of colors and patterns that mimic the erratic design prized in natural stone.

Air-quality control – People spend a lot of time and money ensuring their home has good air flow. However, most people aren’t aware of the role the right drywall can play in ensuring clean, breathable air. Common household products such as carpet, perfume, hairspray, candles, flooring and more actually give off formaldehyde that affects the quality of the air. As part of the new “smart” generation of drywall, AirRenew(R) with M2Tech(R) technology is a drywall that is not only moisture and mold resistant, but actively removes formaldehyde from the air and converts it into safe inert compounds, contributing to a healthier home environment.

Bio concrete – Though it’s the world’s most common building material, concrete ages quickly. Changes in temperature, the shifting of the earth, weather and chemicals all contribute to the inevitable cracks and deterioration. Several years ago, scientists in the Netherlands developed a kind of concrete that can repair itself by integrating limestone-creating bacteria that “heal” cracks. This process is similar to the way bones heal themselves when broken. The result for home builders is stronger foundations, less seasonal repair and more overall value.

While people may not line up outside a store to get these materials the way they do with the newest phone release, these technologies will have positive effects on people’s daily lives. So if you’re curious about what innovative drywall solutions are available today, visit CertainTeed.com/Silent-FX and CertainTeed.com/CleanTheAir.