Make the Most of Weekend Do-It-Yourself Projects

CaptureDo-it-yourself weekend warrior survival guide

(BPT) – It’s the do-it-yourself dream: deciding on the perfect DIY project just as the weekend finally arrives. All the supplies have been purchased and you’re ready to dive right in. However, the enthusiastic start of the project doesn’t always end in completion.

“Knocking out a big home improvement or do-it-yourself project in one weekend can be a rewarding task, but it is also challenging and can be taxing on your knees, feet and back when standing in the same position for several hours,” says Mark Clement, home improvement expert and co-host of the national radio show MyFixitUpLife.

Whether you are woodworking at your workbench or staining a piece of furniture in the garage, Clement offers these tips to make the most of your DIY weekend projects while also feeling comfortable enough to successfully finish them:

Focus on form and technique. When learning a new technique, go slowly, step by step, until you’ve mastered it. Allow your body to become accustomed to the various motions required. Moving efficiently is one of the best ways to avoid injury.

Stay hydrated. Make it a priority to drink at least 125 ounces of cold water each day. Staying hydrated is important when exerting DIY energy, especially in the summer heat. So whether you’re digging up the garden, roofing the shed, or wrenching in a no-AC garage, keep a water bottle or sports drink close by.

Create a comfortable workspace. Be conscious of how long you are standing in the same spot working on your project and how your back feels. To relieve pressure and soreness on feet, knees and back, use a durable mat like the Stanley Utility Mat that is engineered with an optimal balance of cushion and support.

Dress appropriately. Flip-flops and sandals do not offer the balance, protection and support that a sturdy closed-toe shoe or work boot does while tackling home improvement projects. Even if you have the grace of a ballerina in the workshop or yard, it is remarkably easy to drop things on your feet and it only takes a small distraction to create a big problem.

Know your limits. When you only have a weekend to finish a big project, you might be feeling the pressure. Before the project even starts, accept that it may not all go according to plan. Plan for a few different scenarios and remember that you can always ask for help.

Have a first aid kit. Even if you are being extremely cautious, accidents can happen and it’s best to be prepared. Keep a first aid kit with all the essentials (antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn cream, etc.) near you at all times and seek professional medical help if necessary.

For more information about the Stanley Utility Mat, visit stanleyutilitymat.com/ and to tune into MyFixitUpLife visit http://myfixituplife.com/DIY/.

 

Hillside Vacation House Plan

elevHillside Vacation House Plan chp-31659 is presented with beautiful artwork and landscaping to represent the front elevation. Positioned on a sloping lot, the plan offers a cheerful daylight basement which will add square footage to the house if it’s finished. Highlighted in cherry red, the roof is saltbox in style- short on one side and pitched dramatically down the right side of the house, like a hat cocked to the side. Style is open to interpretation, but this design may be classified as contemporary. Architectural elements have been borrowed from many different styles, but the result is a an attractive mixture. Windows mimic the tall and straight composure of the framing. Despite a “buttoned-up” appearance, the house would be clean and inviting on a beach, lake shore or in a mountain forest.altfl1

The family car, or “getaway vehicle,” may be parked under the expansive deck in lieu of a garage. Pile out onto this deck to enjoy meals or soak up the sun (while slathered in sunscreen of course). You have now officially escaped the rat race! We recommend getting a set of comfortable cedar chairs or maybe a hammock for this generous 375 square feet of outdoor living space.

The designer of chp-31659 offers a bonus with 3D images of the floor plans, which give us a bird’s eye view of the interior. Wood flooring and tile was chosen in light colors to echo the exterior of the home. Instead of a traditional bay window for the living room, we see this modern angled window. Double glass doors open up to the deck and allow plenty of light inside. A stacked staircase altfl2separates the room from the dining area, and they lead down to the basement or up to the second floor bedrooms. The main floor bedroom measures 11’2″ x 9’8″ and shares the guest bathroom. A shower in place of a tub saves a little space. The angled entryway to each room and unconventional walls underline a modern layout.

Upstairs is really a 1/2 story, consisting of two bedrooms (each with closet storage), and a full bathroom between them. All in all, the perfect amount of space to allow for comfort and privacy during your time off. Click here to learn more.

Maintenance-Free Trim for the House

What’s the finishing touch on a low maintenance home? The trim

trim(BPT) – These days, free time is an increasingly endangered phenomenon. That’s why today’s homeowners are all in favor of spending less weekend time maintaining their homes. Vinyl siding and windows have long been common home features for just that reason. Today, the latest trend is maintenance-free trim.

Now consumers can enhance the architectural beauty of their homes with superior-quality cellular PVC trimboard from Kleer Lumber, a division of The Tapco Group. Kleer Trimboard provides versatile solutions with wood’s aesthetic appeal without wood’s extensive maintenance. Not only is Kleer Trimboard easily installed everywhere wood trim is traditionally used, it has more applications. It’s impervious to moisture, insect infestation and other threats to wood, giving homeowners the freedom to pursue more creative trim applications and peace of mind to enjoy their enhanced home for decades.

“Kleer Trimboard delivers the authentic, rich appearance of wood coupled with the long-term durability and very low-maintenance homeowners want,” says Jack Delaney, national sales manager of The Tapco Group’s Kleer Lumber division. “With Kleer, people don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics to avoid wood’s problems. Kleer’s cellular PVC trimboard outperforms wood in every application, in every climate. Kleer Trimboard is appropriate on virtually every house, whether it’s a coastal mansion or modest neighborhood home.”

Kleer Trimboard works where roofing meets the house, around windows and doors, in contact with the ground and concrete where wood often fails, and anywhere the imagination leads, including soffits and fascia, columns and cornices. With unmatched versatility, Kleer can be machined to create intricate gingerbread and fluted pilasters and other custom applications, including heat-bending for elegant curves. Kleer trim is also a breeze to glue, route and mold using wood trim tools. Boards and other components come in multiple sizes.

Because it’s completely synthetic, Kleer isn’t susceptible to the challenges that plague wood and composite trim, including mold, mildew, swelling and rot from moisture or insect damage. Wood’s form and function inevitably fails over time despite repeated sanding and repainting. Kleer trim is easily maintained with soap and water, keeping it beautiful long-term.

Kleer’s proprietary TruEDGE technology keeps board edges cleaner through installation and beyond. And, if the edges do get dirty, they are much easier to clean than edges without TruEDGE technology. Unlike some PVC trim brands that are textured, Kleer Trimboard has a natural wood grain finish that closely resembles genuine cedar; it’s also available with a smooth finish on both sides. Available in pure white, Kleer Trimboard keeps its fresh bright appearance for decades or can be painted to match other decor. Its Limited Lifetime Warranty, which includes labor for the first two years, offers the industry’s strongest protection.

Kleer’s complete system includes trimboards, sheets, mouldings, adhesives, and concealed fasteners to finish any job. Ideal for home exteriors, Kleer Trimboard is also used for interior wainscot applications in moist spaces, including bath and laundry rooms. Kleer’s Beaded Boards and Sheets enhance and protect these areas, including ceilings.

“We’re continuously innovating and expanding the Kleer Trimboard product line, so customers have the best choices for enhancing the architecture, curb appeal, and value of their homes,” says Delaney. “The decorative possibilities are endless. Kleer Trimboard also perfectly complements Kleer Decking and the Kleer Rail PVC Railing System. No other trimboard offers Kleer’s combination of benefits – it’s the right finishing touch for every home.”

The Tapco Group, a U.S. Green Building Council member, is the building industry’s leading provider of easy-to-install, premium, innovative interior and exterior products. Serving the building industry since 1961, Tapco specializes in the manufacturing of roofing, siding, decking, railing, trim, tool systems, egress systems and siding components. The products combine versatile application, durability, vast color palettes and uncommon authenticity to exceed the expectations of contractors and homeowners.

For more information, visit www.kleerlumber.com or www.TheTapcoGroup.com or call (800) 521-7567.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Photo courtesy of Kleer Lumber of The Tapco Group.

 

Coastal Vacation Cabin Plan

53597Load up that kayak with a weekend’s worth of food and drinks, dip the oars into the gray-blue brackish water, and watch the ripples disperse- just like all that stress from a long week. Look forward to a Saturday and Sunday without distractions like cell phones and tablets. Maybe there’s a special someone sitting opposite you… Coastal house plan chp-53597 is the ultimate romantic getaway. Being completely surrounded by water is a novelty, offering peace, relaxation and solitude. Waves lap at the wood pilings and seagulls call as they fly overhead. It’s high tide, and the only way back home is by boat.

This plan is designed with wood floor framing- inside and out is like being on a dock. For protection against the elements, the exterior walls are 2×6 wood framing with r19 spray foam insulation, and the roof is conventional framing with waterproofing and thatching. The exterior is finished with wood siding and wood moldings. Watercraft can be secured to the plywood deck. Dimensions of the home are 33′ wide by 29′ deep and a total of 477 square feet of living space.53597 bedroom

Enjoy 180 square feet of porch which is attached to the landing. Screen it in and add some comfortable furniture- the outdoor living space is perfect for evening breezes and looking over the water. During the day, you will see schools of fish and porpoises as they pass from the shadow of the house. Depending on the depth of the tide, you may have opportunities to swim, but be mindful of the current!

53597 bathEnter through the double doors into the bedroom which is central to the floor plan. The his and hers closets measure 4′ by 2′, just large enough to store 2 days worth of clothing and accessories. (Of course, if the home is used as bachelor’s fishing cabin, these closets will accommodate plenty of tackle and other supplies!). Across from the closets are built-in shelves which function as nightstands by the headboard of the bed. The ceilings are 9′ and vaulted in the bedroom.

To the left is a luxury bathroom featuring a steam shower and claw-foot tub. A stackable washer and dryer can be placed in the corner niche, so everything you are accustomed to on the mainland is included and sized to fit. Sink, under counter refrigerator, 2-burner gas range and sitting area are arranged around the kitchen table on the right side of this simple, well-equipped layout. Click here to see more interior images.

Saltwater Swimming Pools

poolSaltwater is the fastest growing trend in swimming pools

(BPT) – Pools are great fun for kids and adults and when it is hot in the summer time or you’re on vacation, there is no better way to cool off. Most pools do require a lot of work to keep clean however and there is always that chlorine smell and the burning sensation that affects the eyes and skin. For many people it is the memory of the chlorine that is inescapably associated with all pools.

But for kids today this memory is quickly becoming a non-event thanks to the increasing popularity of saltwater pools.

Saltwater pools work by converting salt to chlorine using an electrolytic converter. This produces the same type of bacteria-killing chlorine found in a traditional pool, but in a radically different fashion. Since the salt generator is adding chlorine to the water at a constant rate, it is capable of displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount at all times.

As the water exits the converter and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine eventually reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. However new salt does need to be added occasionally as salt levels can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine and monthly for other water balance factors.

Saltwater pools require far less maintenance than traditional pools and are much less expensive to maintain as pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United State have already made the switch. Plus when it comes to initial construction and installation, the additional cost of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater can be paid off quickly.

Saltwater pools are certainly not new. The technology started in Australia in the 1960s and today over 80 percent of all pools there use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and today have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.

Some may be concerned about the effect of salt on pool equipment, construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. However the actual amount of salt used is very low, less than .01 as salty as sea water. You may be able to taste the salt in the pool, but much less so than you can taste and feel the chlorine in a standard pool. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, salt water has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks.

Since the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Mich., converted its 65,000-gallon pool to salt water, members have been pleased with the results. “The minute you walk into the pool area you notice a big difference,” says Jodi Owczarski, the center’s community relations director. “There is no longer that chemical smell. People also tell us that the water is much softer. In the old pool, people said they sometimes had to wash twice to get all those chemicals off, but in this pool, they only have to wash once. All in all, people have been thrilled with this new system.”

To learn more about salt water pools and other uses for salt, visit saltinstitute.org.

 

Country Cabin Home Plan chp-30592

30592This quaint little country cabin is delightful throughout the year. A total of 1451 square feet of living space, plus an 8′ covered porch in the front and a 17’8″ x 6′ grilling porch in the back invites you out for a summer vacation. Most days are hot and humid at this time of year, feeling like a sauna outside- but that’s not enough to deter dad from preparing steaks on the grill. After all, what would summer be without cookouts…or barbecues depending on your place of origin? And how do you like your steak? Well done? Medium rare? In July, thunderstorms do their worst, but the rain cascades harmlessly down the pitched metal roof. Upstairs, the kids switch off the lights and fall asleep to the sound of the rain.

Two good-sized bedrooms and a full bathroom occupy the second level. Bedroom 2 measures 13’4″ x 14’6″, and bedroom 3 measures 11’4″ x 14’5″. Each room has a dormer window for a view of the front yard and a side window to aid the “lookouts” when they are tasked by the “general” to guard the “fort.”30592 fireplace

For three weeks in April, bright pink azaleas bloom around this quaint cottage, and a bright red hummingbird feeder hangs from the eave of the front porch, rocking in the breeze. The boys can impress mom with a bouquet of dandelions, and dad can thrill her with his landscaping capabilities. More than any other time of year, living
and playing and entertaining take place in the outdoors. The air conditioner is given respite, the windows are opened wide, and the roof yellows with pollen.

30592 kitchenThough you love the outdoors, moving back inside in the fall and winter is not at all disappointing with a beautiful stone fireplace casting dancing light into the den on a chilly night. The den space is open to the dining area and separated from the kitchen by a breakfast bar, and the French doors have 12 glass panes on each side to admit plenty of light. Handsome hardwood floors seamlessly tie the living space together and match the kitchen cabinets. Marble counter tops add a a rich touch to country-style living.

The downstairs bedroom measures 11’4″ x 11′ and features a walk-in closet. The full bath doubles as a guest bathroom, and a stacked washer and dryer fits into a niche in the hallway. Additional closet space is located off the dining room, and equipment can be kept in the storage room off the back porch.

Home Security Tips

Capture(BPT) – School is out and summer vacations are in full swing. But while many of us are relaxing, thieves are working overtime. Summer is theft season, at least according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics that show more home thefts occur in June, July and August than any other month of the year. What families might not realize is that their everyday habits could be making their home more vulnerable to theft.

Nationwide Insurance recently asked home and condo insurance homeowners a series questions surrounding the protection of household personal property to determine how, or if, families are protecting their home from thieves.

“The survey revealed some risky, interesting consumer behaviors,” said Pete Lore, associate vice president of property technical claims for Nationwide. “For example, most of us know locking our doors will make our home safer, yet a quarter (25 percent) of homeowners surveyed admit to leaving the front door of their house unlocked when leaving home at least once in the past year.”

If these common mistakes turn into habits, then it could increase their chances of becoming the next theft victim.

Don’t help a burglar get in:

* Thirty-nine percent of homeowners admit they leave their doors unlocked more often or about the same as their parents did when they were growing up, despite a more than 200 percent increase in theft over the last 40 years

* Homeowners make themselves more vulnerable to theft by leaving windows unlocked on either the ground floor (35 percent) or second story and above (34 percent) at least once in the past year

* About one-third (30 percent) of those surveyed hide a spare key outside their home

* Forty-one percent of homeowners aged 18-34 post social media updates while they are on vacation

Turn on prevention measures:

* Although many (79 percent) homeowners report having at least one common theft prevention measure (e.g., alarm system), three in ten homeowners (30 percent) do not use any, putting their home at unnecessary risk

* Twenty percent of homeowners with an alarm system don’t activate it during the day, even though that’s when most thefts occur

Thieves know where your valuable items are:

* About three in 10 homeowners (29 percent) say the bedroom – the room that thieves visit first – contains the most valuables

* Many homeowners admit they do not document or keep track of their belongings (44 percent)

Home theft takes little time, but can be costly for homeowners. Burglars usually spend no more than 60 seconds breaking into a home, but the average cost to replace stolen belongings among victims of home theft is $3,584, according to the Nationwide survey. That’s why it’s important to implement even the simplest preventative measures, such as:

* Locking your doors and closing your windows before leaving the house

Luxury Mediterranean House Plan chp-24514

elevLuxury house plan chp-24514 boasts 3831 total square feet of living space, 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. Very popular in American states like Florida, Texas and California, a stucco exterior and low-pitched clay tile roof give this design a decidedly Mediterranean flair. Arched windows echo the stately appearance of the front doors, and the covered entryway is supported by spiral columns and topped with a decorative balcony. The formal dining room opens to the front courtyard, reminding you of a cafe where you once enjoyed the best picks from a delicious Grecian menu. From the guest suite upstairs, you may walk out to the wrapping balcony, lean against the gently curved iron rail and call out to your host to wait a few minutes- you have to apply some sunscreen before laying out by that luxurious pool. A covered lanai shelters the back of the house, shading the abundant windows of the master suite, parlor, dinette and gathering room.

A host is well-prepared to entertain with this spacious layout, and thankfully so- because guests may not feel the need tophoto4 go home. In addition to the balcony, the 2nd level guest suite includes a full bathroom and walk-in closet. The smaller bedroom downstairs includes a full bath that opens to the back patio for access to the pool. No need for wet footprints making their way into other parts of the house. Inside, this bedroom opens to the gathering room with built-in entertainment center. Occupants will be drawn from their slumber by the wafting aroma of bacon and eggs from the kitchen around the corner. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the dinette by the elegant bowed windows.

photo3The right wing of the home is taken by the master suite with its coffered ceiling, bed niche and built-in t.v. cabinet in the corner. Pass between two walk-in closets and notice that one is decidedly bigger. The person with the larger shoe collection will have to delegate the smaller closet to the less aggressive shopper. The bathroom features a private toilet room and two vanities, but the ultimate luxury is to pass through a columned and arched entryway to a whirlpool tub set in a tile base. It’s like a Greek portico leading to an ancient bath!

Arches are repeated throughout the house, and other rooms include the laundry, study and powder room. The garage is separated by a covered portico, and enough space is available for three or more vehicles. Click here to see the floor plans and additional photos for chp-24514.

Country House Plan chp-29895

24245-B600Country house plan chp-29895 is embellished with a fanlight window on the dormer, decorative sidelights to match the window in the front door and delicate white balusters for the porch railing. Attractive white lattice skirting allows air to circulate under the house and keeps the critters away. Planters filled with bright yellow flowers really pop with the pale exterior paint that was chosen for this completed design.

The total living area, which is heated and air conditioned space, is 2083 square feet, but we can bet that you will take24245-P4 advantage of the covered porch during good weather. It measures 8 feet deep and 52 feet across the font of the house. Wrapping half way around both sides, 588 square feet gives you more than enough room for an outdoor sitting area with a porch swing or two. The romantic will imagine a first kiss at the door as seen in old movies, and the loving father might enjoy the humor of polishing his rifle while his daughter leaves on her first date.

From the foyer, you may enter the living room to your right under an arched passageway that is lined with columns. Across the room is a stone fireplace stretching all the way to the ceiling.

Family members might use a more casual entrance from the garage or side porch- both lead to a mud room. The powder room doubles as a utility room with convenient laundry closet.

24245-P5The family room, kitchen and breakfast nook share an informal space at the back of the house. Glossy wide-plank pine floors and a denim couch invite you to sprawl in front of the flat screen after a long day or head out to the optional back deck to grill a family dinner. A lovely view of the back yard can be enjoyed through the bay window, and this space is perfect for a small breakfast table. Simple cabinetry of the kitchen is dressed up with marble counters and a solid rustic island. Display antiques or collectibles over the eating bar in the glass front cabinets.

All three bedrooms are located upstairs, and family members are greeted by a window seat and built-in bookshelves at the top of the staircase. Click here to see the floor plans and additional interior photographs.

Cool Your Home & Save Money: Air Conditioning Tips

air conditioning(BPT) – Home cooling costs rise with the temperature, making many homeowners dread the arrival of their monthly electric bill during the good ol’ summertime. Fortunately, with a few simple strategies, it’s easy to cut down on cooling costs so you can enjoy summer, even through record-high temperatures.

“Air conditioning is the main way homeowners cool their home, but it’s far from a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Laura Johnson, home economist for LG Electronics USA. “How you choose to cool your home can make a big difference in comfort levels and energy costs.”

She suggests starting by asking yourself a few simple questions:

* How hot is it likely to get in the region where you live?
* What is the square footage you want cooled?
* Do you have one room that just doesn’t cool effectively while others are fine?
* Do you have an existing duct system?
* Do you want to install a whole home system, but don’t have months to work with a contractor?

If you have an existing system that doesn’t seem to be cooling your home as well as it should, it’s time to explore other options. If your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system is more than 12 years old, it’s likely not working as efficiently as it could. Have a professional HVAC contractor evaluate the system. A tune-up may help the system work better, or reveal that it’s time to consider a replacement.

Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year – nearly half the home’s total energy bill, according to EnergyStar.gov. When researching new air conditioners, always look for the Energy Star label. If your air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star qualified model could reduce cooling costs by 30 percent.

A variety of air conditioning systems are available. If you have an existing duct system, installing a central air conditioning system is a good option. Those without ducts aren’t stuck choosing between inefficient window units or extensive construction – newer duct-free systems provide efficient cooling with high energy-efficiency ratings.

For example, duct-free systems like ArtCool models from LG, allow you to cool your entire home or just a single room without the need for invasive ductwork. There’s no tearing down walls or altering your home’s appearance. In most cases, a professional contractor gets the job done in less than a day. The contractor will help you determine if you need a single- or multiple-room system. Be sure to research your contractor carefully, because proper installation is key to achieving maximum energy efficiency. Plus, some duct-free systems qualify for a tax credit of $300 if you install your system before Dec. 31.

No matter what air conditioning system you choose, be sure to check the “SEER rating.” SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and is the industry-wide performance rating. The higher the number, the more efficiently a product will perform. The average air conditioner rating for an Energy Star-qualified window unit is a 9 to 11, while duct-free systems like the Art Cool Premier have SEER ratings up to 28, which can translate to bigger energy savings.

You can also take steps to conserve energy in other areas. During sunny, hot periods of the day, use appropriate window coverings to block heat and conserve the cool air. Avoid using the oven or excessive electronic devices – like TVs or computers – which can put off a lot of heat.