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Fall Home Improvement 2010

Page 12 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

An emerging trends in kitchens: ceramic tiles

Kitchens cry out for a perfect balance between beauty and practicality. Nowhere is the marriage of form and function more important than in the room where most American families spend the majority of their at-home time together. Ceramic tile is the natural choice for kitchens. Homeowners appreciate its durability and designers admire the flexibility it gives them in creating beautiful, yet practical spaces. Now, advances in tile manufacturing, such as digital printing technology, and the endless creativity of homeowners and designers alike, are driving new trends in kitchen design.

European influence

Gone are the days when homeowners were willing to trade the spare, clean and peaceful look of an open wall for the storage convenience afforded by walls full of cabinets. Drawing on European influences, designers are now limiting the use of upper cabinets. Instead, they devote an entire wall of the kitchen to a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, similar to a wall unit, which easily replaces

the storage space lost by eliminating upper cabinets. The remaining three walls are either cabinet-free, or boast open shelving units. The open wall space above the countertop becomes a blank canvas for a design focal point. Ceramic tile is at the top of the list of preferred finish materials for these walls, often taking center stage as a stunning floor-toceiling backdrop to the sculptural stainless-steel range hoods currently in vogue. It’s also finding its way beyond the backsplash to the remaining kitchen walls.

Woods of wonder

A trend toward open floor plans, with the kitchen as a focal point of an

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entire living space, has led to some homeowners installing hardwood floors in the kitchen. While the appeal of an uninterrupted expanse of hardwood is undeniable, the material is rarely practical in a kitchen setting, where it may be exposed to moisture, food stains, heavy traffic and water spills. Homeowners and designers have discovered a better alternative. Ceramic tile, available in a variety of plank-like widths and lengths, uses

advanced digital printing technology to deliver the beauty and variability of pattern and grain that makes hardwood so enticing, but maintains the durability of ceramic tile. Woodlook ceramic tile can be installed with minimal joint lines, making it look even more like a real hardwood floor. And when it comes to cost, ceramic versions of popular hardwoods such as oak, beech or pine are cost-competitive with the authentic woods.

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Page 2 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

A new roof can put money back in homeowners’ pockets A 2010 survey by American Express indicates that homeowners will spend more than $6,000 on average on home improvements this year. For one lucky homeowner this money may come back not only in the form of enhancements to their home, but also thousands of dollars right back in their pocket. For others, installing a new roof could mean getting a little money back in their bank account. It’s as simple as installing a roof and sharing the picture for all to admire. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of Americans say owning a house is the best long-term investment a person can make. The study adds that about 48 percent of all homeowners state that the value of their home has declined during the recession. A smart way to dramatically enhance the look and value of a home is with a roof makeover. Traditional plain black and

brown roofs are losing popularity to more colorful shingles, which reflect the personality and style of the homeowner and can increase the home’s curb appeal. Homeowners are confidently choosing beautiful color palates such as Summer Harvest, Sand Dune or Merlot shingles for the top of their abode. Some leading manufacturers of insulation and roofing products offer shingles in different vibrant colors and even come with wind resistance up to 130 mph. Some companies also offer online color personality quizzes to help homeowners select the best shade of shingles for their home. For homeowners, updating their roof with designer shingles offers more than wind and weather protection and overall value to the home. The increase in color choices helps enable homeowners to add a splash of personality to exterior and fall more in love with a home that is reflective of his or her style.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 11

Tips for weatherizing your home before winter By Kelli Lageson staff writer When the weather outside starts turning frigid, homeowners remember they should start weatherizing their homes to save heat and energy. The average annual energy bill for a typical single family home is about $2,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Performing some energy-saving and heat-saving tasks can save on home energy costs. Also, until Dec. 31 there is a tax credit for home improvement projects that save energy. Some improvement projects that qualify are adding insulation, replacing or installing air-source heat pumps, hot-water boilers and windows and doors. Steve Field, president and general manager of Home Solutions Midwest of Albert Lea, said insulation and window replacement are popular in the fall. “The main things are going to be wall and attic insulation and window replacement,” Field said. Popular kinds of insulation are fiberglass or blown-in cellulose, according to Field. Also, updating from single-pane windows to double-pane windows will help when weatherizing a home. Other simple and inexpensive improvements to your home include putting foam outlet covers on exterior walls to prevent cold air from coming into the home. “If you have an older home you can put clear plastic on windows,” Matt Raleigh, owner of Raleigh’s Ace Hardware in Albert Lea said. “That’s probably the most popular thing people do.” Other ideas Raleigh had include putting foam covers on outdoor

faucets to prevent freezing. He said there are quite a few simple, inexpensive solutions to saving heat and money in the winter, and they can all be found at Ace Hardware. “Our staff is very knowledgeable about these things,” Raleigh said. One way to find out where your home may be losing heat is to perform a simple audit. First, make a list of potential problem areas, including windows and doors, as well as places where pipes, electrical outlets, vents and mail slots are located. To do the audit make sure all doors, windows and fireplace chutes are closed, shut off all combustion appliances and turn on exhaust fans if you have them. Then, take a lit incense stick or candle and hold it in front of the areas you listed as possible problem areas. Leaks and drafts will cause the smoke or flame to flow in the direction of the air leak. Be sure to keep track of any areas in need of sealing. You can also shine a flashlight around doors and windows to look for gaps and cracks — if you see light shining through, you’ve likely found an area in need of fixing. For leaks around pipes, electrical outlets or vents consider caulk or other products like foam seals to block the draft. Drafts around windows can be fixed with a window insulation kit, typically a clear, plastic film that can be placed on the inside or outside of the window to create a draft-proof seal that can be easily removed when spring arrives. For leaks under doors and windows, look for a solution that will surround the bottom to create an airtight barrier. Many of these solutions can be completed in a weekend and then forgotten about all winter.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

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Big and small energy saving tips for each room of the home

Saving the environment can be an overwhelming task. With everything in the news about how to make your home more energy efficient, it’s easy to become bewildered when thinking about all the improvements you could make. But there’s no need to worry, as you don’t have to make your home into a model for green living all at once. In fact, if everyone did just a few little things, the earth would see a gigantic benefit, so you can still do your part even if it doesn’t mean retrofitting your entire home. There are a variety of steps you can take, big ones and smaller ones, to make each room in your home more energy efficient.

Follow these steps to make your home more eco-friendly:

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Bedroom

Big: Buy all-natural bedding that is made from earth-friendly materials. Small: Unplug gadgets like cell phone chargers and unused appliances before going to bed, since they can use energy even when they are plugged in and not in use.

Laundry room

Big: Buy an energy-efficient

Bathroom

Big: Install a low-flow aerating showerhead. Most models allow you to save around 30 percent on water usage without compromising on your shower experience. Small: Avoid using toxic cleaning products, as chemicals find their way into the atmosphere and waterways. As you run out of old cleansers, replace with nontoxic cleaning products.

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Star levels. A fridge that achieves efficiency through linear compressor technology that alters output based on demand from the refrigerator means fewer temperature swings, ultimately using less energy and saving you money. Small: Plant a garden, as the food out of your garden will be fresher and won’t need to be transported to the store or to your home.

Big: Replace your old refrigerator or dishwasher with an energyefficient model. Look for models that either meet or go beyond Energy

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Use short wash cycles when using your dishwasher for everything but the dirtiest dishes — they save energy which in turn saves money.

washer and dryer. Consider a highefficiency, front-load machine. They use more than 50 percent less water per load and are roughly 86 percent more energy-efficient than conventional top-load machines. Small: Clean your dryer vent after each load, because even a partially clogged vent will hurt your dryer’s efficiency.

Energy center

Big: Invest in a programmable thermostat, which can save you money by setting temperatures lower when you plan to be away or while you sleep. Some even can be controlled remotely while you are away. Small: Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.

Garage

Big: If you’re in the market for a new car, buy a gas-sipping hybrid. Small: Take public transportation. Better yet, where possible, bike or walk on one trip each week where you would usually drive.

Living room

Big: Buy an Energy Star-rated TV that will save you money when it’s both on and off. With very low standby and on-mode power consumption, some new LED HDTVs from LG use only about 7 cents of electricity a day for average viewing of six hours daily. Small: Unplug your DVD player or other accessories when they are not in use, especially when leaving for an extended time like a vacation.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Inexpensive bathroom additions for your home As more households make room for multiple generations, how will Americans respond to the homeimprovement challenge? According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of older Americans want to remain in their homes as they age. But unresolved barriers to convenience and safety at home can force them to relocate. And while extended families were common until World War II, the practice waned with more prosperous times. Now the multi-generational family homestead is making a comeback. In 2008 a record 49 million Americans lived in a household with at least two adult generations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data. If your home is reaching capacity, as family members band together, you are likely faced with a homeimprovement challenge. How can you inexpensively accommodate additional family members under a single roof, especially their need for added bathrooms?

plumbing system, is installed directly atop any finished floor or on basement concrete. The macerating pump uses a fast-rotating blade to reduce waste and paper from the toilet bowl, sending it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. Unlike sewage ejectors, up flush toilets involve no storage of waste.

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Costly, messy and time-consuming conventional plumbing can leave families stuck with a single shared bathroom. Fortunately, there is a smart and inexpensive way to increase bathroom privacy and convenience in any home, on any level including the basement, even in smaller homes. Saniflo macerating toilet and plumbing technology lets you add a complete bathroom with an up flush toilet; and there’s no need for expensive digging through the floor to install new drainage where none already exists. If space is a problem, these bathrooms can easily be installed in a closet or the area beneath a stairway. The up flush, or above-floor

One easy option is to use bright LED lighting, which is longerlasting, so there is less need to climb ladders and step stools to replace them. Keep floor surfaces in good repair, remove tripping and slipping hazards and provide easy access to phones and other essential equipment. For homes with young children, the nonprofit Home Safety Council recommends constant supervision. Other selected safety advice includes: ♦♦ Lock up medicines and other poisons. ♦♦ Keep water heaters set at 120 degrees Farenheit to prevent scalds. ♦♦ Use toilet lid locks to prevent drowning.

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 3

When your home’s windows chip, crack or begin to fog up and take on a grey, cloudy appearance, the seal between the panes of glass have broken down allowing moisture in.

The sandwich generation Baby boomers can get sandwiched in the middle of multi-generational living. Have a Gen X-er moving in with you? Why not add a basement bathroom? Need to help grandma, so she can stay at home longer? Create a ground-floor master suite with a full bathroom, so she won’t have to climb stairs. Whatever is motivating your modern multi-generational household, with up flush technology, you can have a convenient extra bathroom anywhere, even in smaller homes.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

Page 4 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Steps that make building onto your home simpler and safer

It’s the time of year to finish all the projects around the house that you put off all summer to go to the lake. Regardless if it is finishing a new deck, renovating the kitchen or building a new garage, it needs to be finished before winter hits. You will need to take a few easy steps in order to start — and finish — the job. Rules and regulations: Check with your city building inspector to find out whether your project needs a permit within city limits. In most cases, if it is something minor, such as renovating the kitchen or build-

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ing a deck, you might not need a permit. But if you are putting an addition on the house or adding a new garage, a permit is usually required. In general, the law states that you do not need a permit unless you are changing your old foundation or pouring a new one. So before you start building, make sure you contact city officials to ensure that what you are doing is allowed or that you have a permit for the project. Otherwise you could be in big trouble with the law.

Have a plan When you start to build, make sure you have a plan and blueprints. Have a checklist of what needs to be done before you start your task. It is an easy reminder and helps you keep track of what you need and what is going on. Blueprints are also needed if you are planning on renovating. The blueprints are your step-by-step guide for building your project. Without good blueprints, the work may not be up to code, could be unsafe or will be a huge hassle to build because everything won’t fit together properly.

Proper equipment When you are working on a project, you need to make sure that you are using the proper equipment. You can’t use a waffle-headed hammer on trim work and you can’t use pin

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nails on frame work. You even need the proper equipment for transporting your lumber and ladders home from your local hardware store. For example, you will not be able to fit 16-foot boards into the bed of your pickup. But don’t worry — there are tools for that too.

Safety Safety is key when you are doing any kind of handiwork. Make sure you go through all precautions and safety issues before you start. Even when you are just digging in the ground, make sure you know where your gas lines and any buried electrical wires are located. Always be mindful when other people are around you to ensure that you do not harm anyone. Make sure you know how the tool you are using works and what you need to do to be alert when using that particular tool. Make sure you tie yourself off when you are higher than 6 feet off the ground to prevent a fall.

Enjoy You will get a great sense of accomplishment when you build something with your own hands. After you are finished with your project, and you know everyone is safe and the project is built to code, sit back and enjoy what you have created.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 9

Check garage doors before winter begins By Michelle Haacke staff writer

A garage door is generally the largest moving component on a house. It’s also the most overlooked when getting your home prepared for winter, according to Ron Nelson, vice president at Overhead Door Company of Albert Lea. “Nobody usually thinks about their garage door until it’s broken,” he said. That’s why he’s encouraging everyone with overhead doors, residential and commercial, to get doors

checked before the snow begins to fly. He also said that routine maintenance will extend the life of a door. Nelson said to make sure garage doors are ready for winter, technicians from Overhead Door check the operations, components and the opener. They also make adjustments and repairs that could save hardearned dollars down the road. “Preventative maintenance on a door can also catch potential problems before they become major problems,” he said. Nelson gave some simple doit-yourself tips on overhead door maintenance, as well. He said prob-

ably most important is lubricating hinges, rollers and springs with a high-quality spray lubricant. He said to make sure the lubricant is high quality, because otherwise it will just dissolve and do no good. His number one piece of advice? Do not grease components — hinges, rollers and springs — with automotive grease. He also said that lubricating the track does not help in making the rollers glide more smoothly. Nelson said business has picked up in recent weeks as people are shifting from summer projects to

winter prep projects. “A lot of people are taking advantage of the tax stimulus credit, which expires at the end of the year,” he added. He said the purchase of a qualifying garage door may qualify homeowners for the residential energy efficient tax credit that the U.S. government is offering homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. He said the tax credit is equal to 30 percent of the cost of the door, not including installation labor or associated equipment, such as door operators. The maximum credit according to Nelson is $1500.

Qualifications for tax credits

Items to check for garage door maintenance: ♦♦Adjust spring tension ♦♦Cables and safety cables ♦♦Adjust lock and lock rod ♦♦Rollers ♦♦Hinge wear ♦♦Lubricate moving parts ♦♦Weatherstrip, seal

♦♦Safety reverse checked ♦♦Operator cable, chain ♦♦Operator belt condition ♦♦Wall button function ♦♦Transmitter check ♦♦Limit switch check ♦♦Photo cell alignment ♦♦Keypad, keyswitch check

The following are necessary in order for a new garage door to qualify for the government’s tax incentives: ♦♦Must be installed in an insulated residential garage ♦♦Must have a U factor equal to or less than .30 ♦♦Perimeter must have a means to control air infiltration (weatherstripping) ♦♦Must be expected to remain in service for at least five years ♦♦Garage must be part of the taxpayer’s principle U.S. residence ♦♦Homeowner has a manufacturer’s certification statement and breakdown of material cost ♦♦The above information is intended as information only and is not provided as tax advice. Please consult a tax adviser for any additional information or questions you may have in regards to your particular tax situation.

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Page 8 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Paw friendly tips for a fresh, clean home and a healthy, happy pet After a few months of oscillating between indoor and outdoor living, it’s time to prepare pets for cold weather and residing in closed quarters. To make sure your home is fresh and clean through the seasonal transition and that pets stay healthy and odor-free, consider these tips.

Prevent unpleasant odors. Pet odors are a downside to sharing your home with a furry friend. These smells can become even more prominent during the cooler months when you cannot open the windows to let in fresh air. When guests are coming over it’s not uncommon for homeowners to worry about pet odors in the house. In fact, according to AcuPOLL research in January of 2010, 86 percent of cat owners believe that sometimes they cannot smell cat odors in their own home but others can. To combat this, use an advanced odor eliminating product to destroy both urine and feces odors on contact.

Stay healthy, remain healthy. Healthy pets’ owners keep their

areas clean and odor free. Just as we would not use a filthy bathroom, cats’ natural desire for cleanliness extends to their litter box. Keep the litter box clean by removing waste daily and changing the litter frequently. Be sure to keep regular vet appointments and monitor your pet’s behavior. Changes to litter box use habits may be a sign of a potential health problem.

Wash, tag, repeat. Though flea and tick season is over, it is essential to keep pets clean. Put an appointment on the calendar for regular bathing which helps minimize shedding and odors. If the air is dry, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to discourage excess dander. Also, make sure that you or the groomer puts your pet’s collar and ID tags back on afterwards. Even indoor cats may slip through an open door or window, so it’s important to tag as well.

Keep furniture fur free. Since pets may not have the option of lying in a sunny spot in the yard, they will need a cozy place to curl up in the house. To discourage pets from sitting on the furniture and getting pet hair all over you and your guests it is best to make sure they have their own beds. Just be sure to wash pet beds regularly to keep them clean and smelling fresh.

Maintain a scratchfree home. Whether you have cats or dogs, you know what a toll their nails can take on furniture and floors. To keep damage at a minimum, it’s important to trim pets nails regularly. If you’re wary of using traditional guillotine-type clippers, you have a few new options to consider, like nail grinders or nail covers. By taking these paw friendly indoor tips, you will have a happy, safe and odor-free winter season with your pets.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 5

10 tips for a cleaner and more efficient wood fire Heating your home with a wood stove this winter? Now is a good time to ensure your wood stove will generate as much heat as possible while protecting your family’s health. Wood smoke is a mixture of gases and particles, also called particle pollution, that isn’t healthy to breathe indoors or out — especially for children, older adults and people with heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases. Particle pollution can irritate your respiratory system and is linked to health problems such as bronchitis and asthma attacks. Replacing your wood stove with a model certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can make a big difference. About 75 percent of the 12 million wood stoves used in the U.S. were built before 1990. These stoves put out about 70 percent more wood smoke than the EPA-certified stoves on the market today. These older stoves are also about half as efficient as today’s models, meaning you have to burn a lot more wood in your old stove to get the same amount of heat. Several financial incentives are

available for purchasing cleaner, more efficient wood-burning appliances. The federal government and several states may offer tax credits for buying a more efficient biomass stove. If you’re not able to replace your older stove this year, there are still ways that you can reduce pollution, according to the EPA. The manner in which you operate a wood stove is important to help reduce pollution and maximize energy efficiency.

Follow these tips for a cleaner, safer fire: 1. Age all firewood at least six months to help it dry out. Dried wood burns hotter, cuts fuel consumption and reduces smoke. 2. Burn the right firewood. Split, stack, cover the top and store your wood for quicker drying. Never burn trash or treated wood which can release toxic chemicals into the air. 3. Keep your chimney clean. A clean chimney provides good draft for your stove and reduces the risk of a chimney fire. Have a certified profes-

sional inspect your wood-burning appliance and chimney once a year. 4. Follow instructions. Operate your wood stove according to the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all maintenance procedures. 5. Upgrade to cleaner equipment. EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts burn cleaner and more efficiently, emitting less pollution than older models. Stoves with solid doors (with no glass panes) generally are older and should be replaced and disposed of properly. 6. Start it right. Use only clean newspaper or dry kindling to start a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or a propane torch. 7. Check your local air quality forecast. Make sure your area has not issued a No Burn Day. 8. Clean ashes. Excess ashes can clog the air intake vents. Be sure to dispose of ashes in a metal container away from the house or any flammable material to reduce the risk of fire. 9. Be a good neighbor. Follow good wood-burning practices and always remember to comply with state and local codes.

10. If you see smoke, there may be a problem. A properly installed and used wood-burning appliance should be smoke-free inside and out. If you notice a lot of smoke coming from your chimney or stove, your wood may be too wet or you may need a more efficient appliance. Smoke from a chimney can mean wasted energy. Go to www.epa.gov/burnwise for more burn-wise tips and information about tax credit options for replacing wood-burning appliances. Go to www.airnow.gov for your daily air quality forecast.

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Page 6 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Tips for organizing sports equipment

By Andrew Dyrdal sports editor

Organizing a garage is tough, and finding space to store lawn furniture, golf clubs and a trampoline for the winter can make that job a nightmare. But Mike and Vicki Larson, of Albert Lea, have found ways to use their existing unfinished garage to inexpensively get sports equipment organized and off the ground. The space between wooden studs in walls can be the best place to find space for storing the little things, like skateboards, hockey sticks and baseball bats. The Larsons lean them between the studs and against the wall and then fasten bungie cords between the studs on nails so that they won’t fall down. The equipment is off the garage floor but low so the kids can

get access to them. J-hooks on the inside of the studs are a great way to help store bicycles temporarily. While most people hang their bikes high on the wall or ceiling, they are hard and dangerous to get down, especially for children. The Larson’s son, Cully, a thirdgrader, had his bike leaned up against an unfinished wall where he could easily store and access it himself. He lifts the front wheel off the ground by the handlebars and slides the wheel’s spokes onto the J-hook. It stays fastened against the wall until he needs it next. Golf bags and fishing equipment are best hung high in the air and off the ground on a wooden wall. For fishing poles, nail two nails close to each other and stick the handle of the pole between them. Tackle boxes and golf bags can be hung on

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 7

one nail by their handles or straps. For big equipment that the Larsons need to store only during the winter, like lawn furniture and a trampoline, they built a loft in the back of their garage nine-feet off the ground. A two-pully system was installed on the ceiling in front of the loft so that large items could be drawn up easily. Mike Larson said he used a two-pulley system because it makes for half the weight and that his son Cully can lift objects up to him. The Larsons store cool weather items like lawn equipment last because that’s the first to come out during the spring. Using space off the ground and between studs is an inexpensive way to organize your garage for the winter. It also eliminates the need for costly storage cabinets.

Mike and Vicki Larson’s garage has nails to hang golf bags, bungee cords attached to studs to organize hockey sticks and a loft with a two pulley system to lift larger items like a trampoline and chairs.

Fishing poles and tackle boxes are stored away for the winter on a wall with nails to hold them up. This is an inexpensive way to get fishing equipment off the floor and organized.

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A two-pulley rope system hangs in front of the loft in the Larson’s garage. Two pulleys create half the weight of one so that Cully Larson, a thirdgrader, can lift objects up to his dad.

Along with spots to store golf bags and hockey sticks, Mike Larson screwed a J-hook into a stud for a place to store a bicycle. It’s low to the ground so his young son or daughter can easily store and access their bike.

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Page 6 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Tips for organizing sports equipment

By Andrew Dyrdal sports editor

Organizing a garage is tough, and finding space to store lawn furniture, golf clubs and a trampoline for the winter can make that job a nightmare. But Mike and Vicki Larson, of Albert Lea, have found ways to use their existing unfinished garage to inexpensively get sports equipment organized and off the ground. The space between wooden studs in walls can be the best place to find space for storing the little things, like skateboards, hockey sticks and baseball bats. The Larsons lean them between the studs and against the wall and then fasten bungie cords between the studs on nails so that they won’t fall down. The equipment is off the garage floor but low so the kids can

get access to them. J-hooks on the inside of the studs are a great way to help store bicycles temporarily. While most people hang their bikes high on the wall or ceiling, they are hard and dangerous to get down, especially for children. The Larson’s son, Cully, a thirdgrader, had his bike leaned up against an unfinished wall where he could easily store and access it himself. He lifts the front wheel off the ground by the handlebars and slides the wheel’s spokes onto the J-hook. It stays fastened against the wall until he needs it next. Golf bags and fishing equipment are best hung high in the air and off the ground on a wooden wall. For fishing poles, nail two nails close to each other and stick the handle of the pole between them. Tackle boxes and golf bags can be hung on

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 7

one nail by their handles or straps. For big equipment that the Larsons need to store only during the winter, like lawn furniture and a trampoline, they built a loft in the back of their garage nine-feet off the ground. A two-pully system was installed on the ceiling in front of the loft so that large items could be drawn up easily. Mike Larson said he used a two-pulley system because it makes for half the weight and that his son Cully can lift objects up to him. The Larsons store cool weather items like lawn equipment last because that’s the first to come out during the spring. Using space off the ground and between studs is an inexpensive way to organize your garage for the winter. It also eliminates the need for costly storage cabinets.

Mike and Vicki Larson’s garage has nails to hang golf bags, bungee cords attached to studs to organize hockey sticks and a loft with a two pulley system to lift larger items like a trampoline and chairs.

Fishing poles and tackle boxes are stored away for the winter on a wall with nails to hold them up. This is an inexpensive way to get fishing equipment off the floor and organized.

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A two-pulley rope system hangs in front of the loft in the Larson’s garage. Two pulleys create half the weight of one so that Cully Larson, a thirdgrader, can lift objects up to his dad.

Along with spots to store golf bags and hockey sticks, Mike Larson screwed a J-hook into a stud for a place to store a bicycle. It’s low to the ground so his young son or daughter can easily store and access their bike.

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Page 8 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Paw friendly tips for a fresh, clean home and a healthy, happy pet After a few months of oscillating between indoor and outdoor living, it’s time to prepare pets for cold weather and residing in closed quarters. To make sure your home is fresh and clean through the seasonal transition and that pets stay healthy and odor-free, consider these tips.

Prevent unpleasant odors. Pet odors are a downside to sharing your home with a furry friend. These smells can become even more prominent during the cooler months when you cannot open the windows to let in fresh air. When guests are coming over it’s not uncommon for homeowners to worry about pet odors in the house. In fact, according to AcuPOLL research in January of 2010, 86 percent of cat owners believe that sometimes they cannot smell cat odors in their own home but others can. To combat this, use an advanced odor eliminating product to destroy both urine and feces odors on contact.

Stay healthy, remain healthy. Healthy pets’ owners keep their

areas clean and odor free. Just as we would not use a filthy bathroom, cats’ natural desire for cleanliness extends to their litter box. Keep the litter box clean by removing waste daily and changing the litter frequently. Be sure to keep regular vet appointments and monitor your pet’s behavior. Changes to litter box use habits may be a sign of a potential health problem.

Wash, tag, repeat. Though flea and tick season is over, it is essential to keep pets clean. Put an appointment on the calendar for regular bathing which helps minimize shedding and odors. If the air is dry, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to discourage excess dander. Also, make sure that you or the groomer puts your pet’s collar and ID tags back on afterwards. Even indoor cats may slip through an open door or window, so it’s important to tag as well.

Keep furniture fur free. Since pets may not have the option of lying in a sunny spot in the yard, they will need a cozy place to curl up in the house. To discourage pets from sitting on the furniture and getting pet hair all over you and your guests it is best to make sure they have their own beds. Just be sure to wash pet beds regularly to keep them clean and smelling fresh.

Maintain a scratchfree home. Whether you have cats or dogs, you know what a toll their nails can take on furniture and floors. To keep damage at a minimum, it’s important to trim pets nails regularly. If you’re wary of using traditional guillotine-type clippers, you have a few new options to consider, like nail grinders or nail covers. By taking these paw friendly indoor tips, you will have a happy, safe and odor-free winter season with your pets.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 5

10 tips for a cleaner and more efficient wood fire Heating your home with a wood stove this winter? Now is a good time to ensure your wood stove will generate as much heat as possible while protecting your family’s health. Wood smoke is a mixture of gases and particles, also called particle pollution, that isn’t healthy to breathe indoors or out — especially for children, older adults and people with heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases. Particle pollution can irritate your respiratory system and is linked to health problems such as bronchitis and asthma attacks. Replacing your wood stove with a model certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can make a big difference. About 75 percent of the 12 million wood stoves used in the U.S. were built before 1990. These stoves put out about 70 percent more wood smoke than the EPA-certified stoves on the market today. These older stoves are also about half as efficient as today’s models, meaning you have to burn a lot more wood in your old stove to get the same amount of heat. Several financial incentives are

available for purchasing cleaner, more efficient wood-burning appliances. The federal government and several states may offer tax credits for buying a more efficient biomass stove. If you’re not able to replace your older stove this year, there are still ways that you can reduce pollution, according to the EPA. The manner in which you operate a wood stove is important to help reduce pollution and maximize energy efficiency.

Follow these tips for a cleaner, safer fire: 1. Age all firewood at least six months to help it dry out. Dried wood burns hotter, cuts fuel consumption and reduces smoke. 2. Burn the right firewood. Split, stack, cover the top and store your wood for quicker drying. Never burn trash or treated wood which can release toxic chemicals into the air. 3. Keep your chimney clean. A clean chimney provides good draft for your stove and reduces the risk of a chimney fire. Have a certified profes-

sional inspect your wood-burning appliance and chimney once a year. 4. Follow instructions. Operate your wood stove according to the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all maintenance procedures. 5. Upgrade to cleaner equipment. EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts burn cleaner and more efficiently, emitting less pollution than older models. Stoves with solid doors (with no glass panes) generally are older and should be replaced and disposed of properly. 6. Start it right. Use only clean newspaper or dry kindling to start a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or a propane torch. 7. Check your local air quality forecast. Make sure your area has not issued a No Burn Day. 8. Clean ashes. Excess ashes can clog the air intake vents. Be sure to dispose of ashes in a metal container away from the house or any flammable material to reduce the risk of fire. 9. Be a good neighbor. Follow good wood-burning practices and always remember to comply with state and local codes.

10. If you see smoke, there may be a problem. A properly installed and used wood-burning appliance should be smoke-free inside and out. If you notice a lot of smoke coming from your chimney or stove, your wood may be too wet or you may need a more efficient appliance. Smoke from a chimney can mean wasted energy. Go to www.epa.gov/burnwise for more burn-wise tips and information about tax credit options for replacing wood-burning appliances. Go to www.airnow.gov for your daily air quality forecast.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

Page 4 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

Steps that make building onto your home simpler and safer

It’s the time of year to finish all the projects around the house that you put off all summer to go to the lake. Regardless if it is finishing a new deck, renovating the kitchen or building a new garage, it needs to be finished before winter hits. You will need to take a few easy steps in order to start — and finish — the job. Rules and regulations: Check with your city building inspector to find out whether your project needs a permit within city limits. In most cases, if it is something minor, such as renovating the kitchen or build-

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ing a deck, you might not need a permit. But if you are putting an addition on the house or adding a new garage, a permit is usually required. In general, the law states that you do not need a permit unless you are changing your old foundation or pouring a new one. So before you start building, make sure you contact city officials to ensure that what you are doing is allowed or that you have a permit for the project. Otherwise you could be in big trouble with the law.

Have a plan When you start to build, make sure you have a plan and blueprints. Have a checklist of what needs to be done before you start your task. It is an easy reminder and helps you keep track of what you need and what is going on. Blueprints are also needed if you are planning on renovating. The blueprints are your step-by-step guide for building your project. Without good blueprints, the work may not be up to code, could be unsafe or will be a huge hassle to build because everything won’t fit together properly.

Proper equipment When you are working on a project, you need to make sure that you are using the proper equipment. You can’t use a waffle-headed hammer on trim work and you can’t use pin

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nails on frame work. You even need the proper equipment for transporting your lumber and ladders home from your local hardware store. For example, you will not be able to fit 16-foot boards into the bed of your pickup. But don’t worry — there are tools for that too.

Safety Safety is key when you are doing any kind of handiwork. Make sure you go through all precautions and safety issues before you start. Even when you are just digging in the ground, make sure you know where your gas lines and any buried electrical wires are located. Always be mindful when other people are around you to ensure that you do not harm anyone. Make sure you know how the tool you are using works and what you need to do to be alert when using that particular tool. Make sure you tie yourself off when you are higher than 6 feet off the ground to prevent a fall.

Enjoy You will get a great sense of accomplishment when you build something with your own hands. After you are finished with your project, and you know everyone is safe and the project is built to code, sit back and enjoy what you have created.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 9

Check garage doors before winter begins By Michelle Haacke staff writer

A garage door is generally the largest moving component on a house. It’s also the most overlooked when getting your home prepared for winter, according to Ron Nelson, vice president at Overhead Door Company of Albert Lea. “Nobody usually thinks about their garage door until it’s broken,” he said. That’s why he’s encouraging everyone with overhead doors, residential and commercial, to get doors

checked before the snow begins to fly. He also said that routine maintenance will extend the life of a door. Nelson said to make sure garage doors are ready for winter, technicians from Overhead Door check the operations, components and the opener. They also make adjustments and repairs that could save hardearned dollars down the road. “Preventative maintenance on a door can also catch potential problems before they become major problems,” he said. Nelson gave some simple doit-yourself tips on overhead door maintenance, as well. He said prob-

ably most important is lubricating hinges, rollers and springs with a high-quality spray lubricant. He said to make sure the lubricant is high quality, because otherwise it will just dissolve and do no good. His number one piece of advice? Do not grease components — hinges, rollers and springs — with automotive grease. He also said that lubricating the track does not help in making the rollers glide more smoothly. Nelson said business has picked up in recent weeks as people are shifting from summer projects to

winter prep projects. “A lot of people are taking advantage of the tax stimulus credit, which expires at the end of the year,” he added. He said the purchase of a qualifying garage door may qualify homeowners for the residential energy efficient tax credit that the U.S. government is offering homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. He said the tax credit is equal to 30 percent of the cost of the door, not including installation labor or associated equipment, such as door operators. The maximum credit according to Nelson is $1500.

Qualifications for tax credits

Items to check for garage door maintenance: ♦♦Adjust spring tension ♦♦Cables and safety cables ♦♦Adjust lock and lock rod ♦♦Rollers ♦♦Hinge wear ♦♦Lubricate moving parts ♦♦Weatherstrip, seal

♦♦Safety reverse checked ♦♦Operator cable, chain ♦♦Operator belt condition ♦♦Wall button function ♦♦Transmitter check ♦♦Limit switch check ♦♦Photo cell alignment ♦♦Keypad, keyswitch check

The following are necessary in order for a new garage door to qualify for the government’s tax incentives: ♦♦Must be installed in an insulated residential garage ♦♦Must have a U factor equal to or less than .30 ♦♦Perimeter must have a means to control air infiltration (weatherstripping) ♦♦Must be expected to remain in service for at least five years ♦♦Garage must be part of the taxpayer’s principle U.S. residence ♦♦Homeowner has a manufacturer’s certification statement and breakdown of material cost ♦♦The above information is intended as information only and is not provided as tax advice. Please consult a tax adviser for any additional information or questions you may have in regards to your particular tax situation.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

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Big and small energy saving tips for each room of the home

Saving the environment can be an overwhelming task. With everything in the news about how to make your home more energy efficient, it’s easy to become bewildered when thinking about all the improvements you could make. But there’s no need to worry, as you don’t have to make your home into a model for green living all at once. In fact, if everyone did just a few little things, the earth would see a gigantic benefit, so you can still do your part even if it doesn’t mean retrofitting your entire home. There are a variety of steps you can take, big ones and smaller ones, to make each room in your home more energy efficient.

Follow these steps to make your home more eco-friendly:

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Big: Install a low-flow aerating showerhead. Most models allow you to save around 30 percent on water usage without compromising on your shower experience. Small: Avoid using toxic cleaning products, as chemicals find their way into the atmosphere and waterways. As you run out of old cleansers, replace with nontoxic cleaning products.

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Star levels. A fridge that achieves efficiency through linear compressor technology that alters output based on demand from the refrigerator means fewer temperature swings, ultimately using less energy and saving you money. Small: Plant a garden, as the food out of your garden will be fresher and won’t need to be transported to the store or to your home.

Big: Replace your old refrigerator or dishwasher with an energyefficient model. Look for models that either meet or go beyond Energy

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Use short wash cycles when using your dishwasher for everything but the dirtiest dishes — they save energy which in turn saves money.

washer and dryer. Consider a highefficiency, front-load machine. They use more than 50 percent less water per load and are roughly 86 percent more energy-efficient than conventional top-load machines. Small: Clean your dryer vent after each load, because even a partially clogged vent will hurt your dryer’s efficiency.

Energy center

Big: Invest in a programmable thermostat, which can save you money by setting temperatures lower when you plan to be away or while you sleep. Some even can be controlled remotely while you are away. Small: Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.

Garage

Big: If you’re in the market for a new car, buy a gas-sipping hybrid. Small: Take public transportation. Better yet, where possible, bike or walk on one trip each week where you would usually drive.

Living room

Big: Buy an Energy Star-rated TV that will save you money when it’s both on and off. With very low standby and on-mode power consumption, some new LED HDTVs from LG use only about 7 cents of electricity a day for average viewing of six hours daily. Small: Unplug your DVD player or other accessories when they are not in use, especially when leaving for an extended time like a vacation.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Inexpensive bathroom additions for your home As more households make room for multiple generations, how will Americans respond to the homeimprovement challenge? According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of older Americans want to remain in their homes as they age. But unresolved barriers to convenience and safety at home can force them to relocate. And while extended families were common until World War II, the practice waned with more prosperous times. Now the multi-generational family homestead is making a comeback. In 2008 a record 49 million Americans lived in a household with at least two adult generations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data. If your home is reaching capacity, as family members band together, you are likely faced with a homeimprovement challenge. How can you inexpensively accommodate additional family members under a single roof, especially their need for added bathrooms?

plumbing system, is installed directly atop any finished floor or on basement concrete. The macerating pump uses a fast-rotating blade to reduce waste and paper from the toilet bowl, sending it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. Unlike sewage ejectors, up flush toilets involve no storage of waste.

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Costly, messy and time-consuming conventional plumbing can leave families stuck with a single shared bathroom. Fortunately, there is a smart and inexpensive way to increase bathroom privacy and convenience in any home, on any level including the basement, even in smaller homes. Saniflo macerating toilet and plumbing technology lets you add a complete bathroom with an up flush toilet; and there’s no need for expensive digging through the floor to install new drainage where none already exists. If space is a problem, these bathrooms can easily be installed in a closet or the area beneath a stairway. The up flush, or above-floor

One easy option is to use bright LED lighting, which is longerlasting, so there is less need to climb ladders and step stools to replace them. Keep floor surfaces in good repair, remove tripping and slipping hazards and provide easy access to phones and other essential equipment. For homes with young children, the nonprofit Home Safety Council recommends constant supervision. Other selected safety advice includes: ♦♦ Lock up medicines and other poisons. ♦♦ Keep water heaters set at 120 degrees Farenheit to prevent scalds. ♦♦ Use toilet lid locks to prevent drowning.

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 3

When your home’s windows chip, crack or begin to fog up and take on a grey, cloudy appearance, the seal between the panes of glass have broken down allowing moisture in.

The sandwich generation Baby boomers can get sandwiched in the middle of multi-generational living. Have a Gen X-er moving in with you? Why not add a basement bathroom? Need to help grandma, so she can stay at home longer? Create a ground-floor master suite with a full bathroom, so she won’t have to climb stairs. Whatever is motivating your modern multi-generational household, with up flush technology, you can have a convenient extra bathroom anywhere, even in smaller homes.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

A new roof can put money back in homeowners’ pockets A 2010 survey by American Express indicates that homeowners will spend more than $6,000 on average on home improvements this year. For one lucky homeowner this money may come back not only in the form of enhancements to their home, but also thousands of dollars right back in their pocket. For others, installing a new roof could mean getting a little money back in their bank account. It’s as simple as installing a roof and sharing the picture for all to admire. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of Americans say owning a house is the best long-term investment a person can make. The study adds that about 48 percent of all homeowners state that the value of their home has declined during the recession. A smart way to dramatically enhance the look and value of a home is with a roof makeover. Traditional plain black and

brown roofs are losing popularity to more colorful shingles, which reflect the personality and style of the homeowner and can increase the home’s curb appeal. Homeowners are confidently choosing beautiful color palates such as Summer Harvest, Sand Dune or Merlot shingles for the top of their abode. Some leading manufacturers of insulation and roofing products offer shingles in different vibrant colors and even come with wind resistance up to 130 mph. Some companies also offer online color personality quizzes to help homeowners select the best shade of shingles for their home. For homeowners, updating their roof with designer shingles offers more than wind and weather protection and overall value to the home. The increase in color choices helps enable homeowners to add a splash of personality to exterior and fall more in love with a home that is reflective of his or her style.

Fall Home Improvement 2010

Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010 — Page 11

Tips for weatherizing your home before winter By Kelli Lageson staff writer When the weather outside starts turning frigid, homeowners remember they should start weatherizing their homes to save heat and energy. The average annual energy bill for a typical single family home is about $2,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Performing some energy-saving and heat-saving tasks can save on home energy costs. Also, until Dec. 31 there is a tax credit for home improvement projects that save energy. Some improvement projects that qualify are adding insulation, replacing or installing air-source heat pumps, hot-water boilers and windows and doors. Steve Field, president and general manager of Home Solutions Midwest of Albert Lea, said insulation and window replacement are popular in the fall. “The main things are going to be wall and attic insulation and window replacement,” Field said. Popular kinds of insulation are fiberglass or blown-in cellulose, according to Field. Also, updating from single-pane windows to double-pane windows will help when weatherizing a home. Other simple and inexpensive improvements to your home include putting foam outlet covers on exterior walls to prevent cold air from coming into the home. “If you have an older home you can put clear plastic on windows,” Matt Raleigh, owner of Raleigh’s Ace Hardware in Albert Lea said. “That’s probably the most popular thing people do.” Other ideas Raleigh had include putting foam covers on outdoor

faucets to prevent freezing. He said there are quite a few simple, inexpensive solutions to saving heat and money in the winter, and they can all be found at Ace Hardware. “Our staff is very knowledgeable about these things,” Raleigh said. One way to find out where your home may be losing heat is to perform a simple audit. First, make a list of potential problem areas, including windows and doors, as well as places where pipes, electrical outlets, vents and mail slots are located. To do the audit make sure all doors, windows and fireplace chutes are closed, shut off all combustion appliances and turn on exhaust fans if you have them. Then, take a lit incense stick or candle and hold it in front of the areas you listed as possible problem areas. Leaks and drafts will cause the smoke or flame to flow in the direction of the air leak. Be sure to keep track of any areas in need of sealing. You can also shine a flashlight around doors and windows to look for gaps and cracks — if you see light shining through, you’ve likely found an area in need of fixing. For leaks around pipes, electrical outlets or vents consider caulk or other products like foam seals to block the draft. Drafts around windows can be fixed with a window insulation kit, typically a clear, plastic film that can be placed on the inside or outside of the window to create a draft-proof seal that can be easily removed when spring arrives. For leaks under doors and windows, look for a solution that will surround the bottom to create an airtight barrier. Many of these solutions can be completed in a weekend and then forgotten about all winter.

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Fall Home Improvement 2010

Page 12 — Albert Lea Tribune, Thursday, October 21, 2010

An emerging trends in kitchens: ceramic tiles

Kitchens cry out for a perfect balance between beauty and practicality. Nowhere is the marriage of form and function more important than in the room where most American families spend the majority of their at-home time together. Ceramic tile is the natural choice for kitchens. Homeowners appreciate its durability and designers admire the flexibility it gives them in creating beautiful, yet practical spaces. Now, advances in tile manufacturing, such as digital printing technology, and the endless creativity of homeowners and designers alike, are driving new trends in kitchen design.

European influence

Gone are the days when homeowners were willing to trade the spare, clean and peaceful look of an open wall for the storage convenience afforded by walls full of cabinets. Drawing on European influences, designers are now limiting the use of upper cabinets. Instead, they devote an entire wall of the kitchen to a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, similar to a wall unit, which easily replaces

the storage space lost by eliminating upper cabinets. The remaining three walls are either cabinet-free, or boast open shelving units. The open wall space above the countertop becomes a blank canvas for a design focal point. Ceramic tile is at the top of the list of preferred finish materials for these walls, often taking center stage as a stunning floor-toceiling backdrop to the sculptural stainless-steel range hoods currently in vogue. It’s also finding its way beyond the backsplash to the remaining kitchen walls.

Woods of wonder

A trend toward open floor plans, with the kitchen as a focal point of an

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entire living space, has led to some homeowners installing hardwood floors in the kitchen. While the appeal of an uninterrupted expanse of hardwood is undeniable, the material is rarely practical in a kitchen setting, where it may be exposed to moisture, food stains, heavy traffic and water spills. Homeowners and designers have discovered a better alternative. Ceramic tile, available in a variety of plank-like widths and lengths, uses

advanced digital printing technology to deliver the beauty and variability of pattern and grain that makes hardwood so enticing, but maintains the durability of ceramic tile. Woodlook ceramic tile can be installed with minimal joint lines, making it look even more like a real hardwood floor. And when it comes to cost, ceramic versions of popular hardwoods such as oak, beech or pine are cost-competitive with the authentic woods.

Top to bottom, your home’s exterior will be in good hands with the expert Home Solution’s staff! From the first phone call for your free estimate to the installers’ final cleanup, we will make your home improvement experience a wonderful one! See our website, Facebook page or stop in! Call for a FREE CATALOG.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

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Fall Home Improvement 2010