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I figure it’s high time for me to create my own “top 10” home improvement ideas, but since it’s 2011 now, I thought I’d do a “top 11” list :-). There are some things that will always be at the top of any list, but I’ve thrown in a couple of home improvement ideas that probably won’t show up on any traditional “top 10” list and may be relevant for this year… So let’s jump in:
Fix the cracks in your walls and paint them! Okay, this one probably makes every DIY ideas list, but it really is the best way to get the most for your home improvement dollar. Keeping good paint on both the exterior and interior walls actually saves money in the long run as well. If you want to do it yourself and don’t think you have the time, try a room at a time. Check out this blog post for more ideas.
Caulk and Weatherstrip. Make sure your windows and doors are sealed against the weather. A good trick you can try is to hold a candle or lighter near the edges of your exterior doors and along the edges of your windows to find drafts. A sensitive hand works well too. With the soaring cost of energy, this is an often over-looked home improvement idea that doesn’t take a lot of money or time to address.
Insulate your attic! Most homes are inadequately insulated. Insulating your attic will pay for itself in the long run and reduce the energy you’ll burn heating and cooling the inside. While you’re at it, attic heat exhaust fans or wind turbines will keep hot and cold air from remaining trapped in your attic. If you live in the south, this rates at the top my home improvement ideas for 2011.
Update your fixtures! Walk through your house and see what fixtures need updating or repair. When I say fixtures, I mean faucets, ceiling fans, flush-mount and hanging lights, drain assemblies, toilet tanks and tank kits. (Make sure your toilet works properly and there are no leaks under any sinks). That covers what I mean by “fixtures”….
Check the functionality of all those gadgets! Like garage doors and openers, windows and sashes, doors and doorknobs (oil that squeaky door hinge already), fence gates, plugs and switches.
Landscaping! Mowing and trimming is fine, but putting in some flower beds or a rock garden can really spruce up the curb appeal of any house and possibly set your home apart from the rest of the neighborhood. Especially a good idea if you’re getting ready to sell.
Update your kitchen! A new counter top and cabinets may be great, but if you can’t afford that kind of renovation you might look into refacing your cabinets. There are some really awesome new products on the market that are surprisingly inexpensive.
Add an alternative energy source to your home! Heating, cooling and lighting your home is not getting cheaper. There is a trend beginning to add solar panels to help defer the cost of electricity. Some systems are very expensive, but if you are considering making such a move, a little research might prove that it’s not too bad of an investment. Keeping a backup gas-powered generator comes in handy too, when the power goes out.
Increase storage! There are three places that are often over-looked when it comes to optimizing storage area in a home; garages, sheds and closets. You can add shelves to a garage, build a shed, and usually add a shelf or two to at least one or two closets.
Programmable thermostat! Most people leave the house for a large portion of the day. You can switch out that old mercury thermostat for a quality digital and programmable thermostat. The most common are daily, 5-2, and 7-day programmable. I prefer the 7-day programmable thermostat, and you can choose what suits your needs best.
Add an electrical outlet! This may seem like a silly idea, but take a look around your house and see if you are using extension cords or if you need to unplug one thing to use another. It’s a purely convenience oriented tip, but one of my pet favorites. Adding an outlet isn’t too hard, but if you are unsure how to accomplish it, an electrician can do the work for you.
Well, that’s my list for the new year. I’m betting there is at the very least a couple of good home improvement ideas you probably hadn’t thought of in there yet.
*free image courtesy of digitalart
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Painting Tips That Will Help Every Homeowner
To give your house a maintained, clean appearance, promote friendly neighbor relations and gain instant curb appeal, exterior paint is the first thing you may want to consider. Painting the exterior of your house gives it a fresh and clean look and can add value to your home when you plan to sell. Here are some painting tips to consider before tackling the exterior of your home:
- Power wash your bricks or siding. You want to be sure your surface starts out clean. Old, peeling paint won’t suddenly be cured because there is fresh paint on top of it. Preparation is always key to a good paint job. You’ll have to do some scraping, but a good power wash is the best way to begin. You can rent a power washer, or hire someone to do the job for you. Be careful when you spray vinyl siding though. A direct hit of pressurized water can dislodge and even remove a well applied siding.
- Remove staples, nails, hooks and other excess hardware. As a painter, I am still amazed at how much I’ve seen accumulate on a house. Staples from last Christmas’ lights, nails, hooks for hanging planters and so on can accumulate over the years if not attended to regularly. Spend an hour or so and get it all cleaned up!
- Trim brush, bushes and other growth away from the house. A well manicured yard goes a long way for both the looks of your property and the ease of painting the exterior of your home.
- Make sure you have all the tools you need for painting. Ladders, brushes, drop cloths, rollers, sandpaper, scrapers, are just the beginning of the things you’ll need. There is also a painters tools checklist on this blog you can check out.
- Make sure you are physically able to paint your house. This painting tip sounds obvious, but just know that you will be climbing ladders, carrying 5 gallon paint buckets and doing a myriad of physical activity every day of the job. At the end of each day, there is clean up as well which takes time. You can eliminate a great deal of the labor if you hire a handyman or a day laborer to assist you. You can save hundreds of dollars in the long run just by hiring out at least some of the work.
- Write out your cost for painting materials and time before you begin. There is a lot more cost than just the price of paint. Spackling, sand paper, primer, power washing, caulk and other minor home exterior repair items add up. Painting the exterior of your home is a large undertaking. If you’re going to do the job yourself, it may take several weekends to get the job done.
- Hire out what you don’t want to or can’t do. Hiring a good and reliable handyman can make the difference between being able to, and not being able to paint your house on your own.
The list above does not necessarily reflect a complete list of considerations, it is simply intended to be helpful.
I’ve listed below the elements of a typical exterior painting job here in Dallas, but most homes in the US have similar construction. You can also navigate my blog to find other useful tips and lists as well.
- Trim around windows and doors
- Paneled siding
- Decorative iron
I hope you found this article useful. Please comment! If you have questions or want to share some painting tips of your own, please do!~ Phil