Fall Home Improvement 2020

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n Change your outdoor dining space. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 n Clean the gutters? Yes. Replace them? Maybe. . . . . . . . . 4 n A new fitness room can build healthy habits at home. . 8 n A better pantry can transform your whole kitchen . . . . 9 A supplement to East Bay Newspapers • October 7-8, 2020

Page 2 Fall Home Improvement 2020

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Improve comfort when dining outdoors Warm weather entices people to enjoy long hours outside basking in the sun or relaxing on balmy evenings. Many of the activities people once reserved for indoors when temperatures were chilly, including dining, are moved outside as the weather warms. Even though outdoor dining can be quite enjoyable, certain factors need to be considered to ensure that each experience is as pleasurable as possible. This means focusing on comfort whenever meals are taken out-of-doors.

Address insects Insects are equal opportunity invaders. Once they smell sweet or savory food items, they quickly descend for an easy bite. This means extra steps are necessary to dissuade insects from coming by. Invest in citronella candles, which can be placed around the patio to repel flying bugs. Clean up crumbs and spills promptly. Bees and wasps can be lured away with sweet traps placed around the perimeter of the property.

Offer shade Too much sun can make outdoor meals less enjoyable. A patio umbrella, pergola or canopy can cut down on glare and make the dining area more comfortable. Check to see that the shade source can be adjusted to guard against the sun as it moves across the sky.

ABOVE: At some point, New England weather makes outdoor dining impossible, but for as long as you’re able, there are things you can do to create a nice outdoor dining space. LEFT: Investments in furniture and accents can transform your outdoor dining space.

Dress up seating Just because furniture is made for outside doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable. Many companies now produce very durable and attractive outdoor furniture. Weather-resistant fabrics mean rain or sunlight will not age items too quickly.

Reusable place settings If you frequently dine outdoors, you may want to dine in style. Instead of disposable paper or plastic place settings, invest in colorful, durable, reusable plastic dishes, glasses and flatware, which will not break if dropped and can hold up to a dishwasher when it is time to clean up.

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Invest in outdoor lighting, candles and hidden speakers to pipe in music and create ambiance. Install privacy screens and foliage to establish a nice nook for outdoor dining. Outdoor dining areas can be improved with some easy modifications to existing spaces.

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Page 4 Fall Home Improvement 2020

Signs your gutters are in need of repair Fall is a great time to tackle projects around the house. The weather each fall allows homeowners to make improvements to their homes’ exteriors without worrying about extreme heat or cold, while interior projects like painting are made easier because homeowners can open the windows to allow for proper ventilation. Fall also marks a great time to prepare for upcoming projects that can make winter work that much easier. For example, fall is a great time to take stock of your gutters so you can address any issues before leaves begin to fall or the first snowstorm touches down. Compromised gutters can contribute to water issues in basements and adversely affect a home’s foundation if not addressed immediately, so it behooves homeowners to learn the signs that gutters are in need of repair or replacement.

Gutters hanging off the home Gutters were once installed predominantly with spikes. However, many industry professionals now

install gutters with hanger brackets. Why the change? Spikes loosen over time, leading to the gutters hanging off the home. That can contribute to serious issues if left untreated. Gutters hanging off the home need not necessarily be replaced, but rather secured to the home, ideally with hanger brackets instead of spikes. Brackets hook into the front of the gutter and are then screwed into the fascia of a home. A professional who specializes in gutter repair can perform this task relatively quickly, and it’s an inexpensive yet highly effective solution.

relatively simple and inexpensive fix.

Peeling exterior paint Paint that appears to be peeling off of your home may indicate that water is seeping over the edge of the gutter closest to your home. When that happens, water is coming down the side of the house, causing the paint to peel. In such instances, replacing the gutters is often necessary.

Basement flooding

Gutter separation Gutters that are no longer fastened together can leak and contribute to issues that affect the home’s foundation, siding and appearance. Clogs and the accumulation of debris can cause gutters to separate because they are not designed to hold too much weight. Replacement of separated gutters may or may not be necessary depending on how big the problem is and the condition of the existing

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Fall is a the ideal time to clean the gutters of leaves and debris, but some gutters may just need to be replaced before they cause damage to other parts of the home. gutters. If replacement is not necessary, separated gutters may be remedied by securing the joints, another

Not all signs of deteriorating gutters are outside a home. Many a homeowner has been flummoxed by flooding in their basements, and such flooding can be caused by aging, ineffective gutters. That’s because deteriorating gutters sometimes allow water to leak near the foundation of a home, contributing to basement flooding. Fall is an ideal time to inspect gutters and have any issues fixed before leaves begin to fall or harsh winter weather arrives.


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Options abound when shopping for home siding Home improvement projects run the gamut from minor repairs to complete overhauls. Replacing exterior siding is one of the most significant home improvement projects homeowners can undertake. Such a project can give homes a completely new look, which is why choice of siding is such an important decision. Homeowners have many siding options to choose from, and the following guide can help them make the best choice for their homes.

Vinyl siding Vinyl siding is easily maintained and among the more budget-friendly siding options. According to the home improvement resource HomeAdvisor, vinyl siding is made from a PVC plastic that does not rot or flake. Siding professionals note that the technology used to create vinyl siding has changed considerably in recent years, making this option more diverse than traditional vinyl siding. So homeowners turned off by the potentially plastic look of vinyl siding might be surprised at how different modern vinyl siding looks compared to

the vinyl siding of yesteryear.

professional, as many factors, including the choice of wood, must be considered before making a final decision.

Fiber-cement siding The home improvement television network HGTV notes that fiber-cement siding has grown in popularity among homeowners in recent years. This material does not require much maintenance and it’s non-flammable and resistant to termites. HomeAdvisor notes that fiber-cement siding can create the look of wood, stucco or masonry, making it a versatile option capable of creating various looks. In addition, fiber-cement siding is known for its durability, with some products coming with warranties lasting as long as 50 years.

Wood siding Homeowners have many choices if they prefer wood siding on their homes. Cedar, cypress, fir, pine, and spruce are just a handful of the many wood siding options homeowners can choose from. HomeAdvisor notes that cedar shingle siding offers a natural look that blends well in wooded and waterfront landscapes. Wood clapboard siding is another

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Stone and stone-veneer siding

Vinyl siding is often the cheapest option, and modern advancements have improved the look from the siding of yesteryear. popular option, though it tends to require more maintenance than cedar shingle siding. Homeowners who want wood siding should discuss their options with an experienced siding

Many homeowners fall in love with the natural appeal of stone, but the price tag, which tends to be costly, may not be as awe-inspiring. HGTV notes that stone can be difficult to add to an existing home, and doing so may drive the price up even further. Stone siding is durable, and there are many options, including solid stone and natural stone cladding, that make this an option capable of providing an array of looks. Stone-veneer siding is less expensive than natural stone and also comes in an array of styles. As is the case with wood, stone siding options are so extensive that homeowners are urged to discuss each one with a siding professional before making their decisions. These are just a handful of the many siding options homeowners can choose from. Siding can give homes a completely new look, making choice of siding a significant decision worthy of careful consideration.

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Page 8 Fall Home Improvement 2020

How to design a fitness room at home People exercise for many different reasons. Exercise can improve one’s appearance, reduce the risk for illness, alleviate stress or anxiety, and even help pass some time. Exercise is often a social activity, but in the wake of social distancing guidelines issue in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many people have found themselves looking for ways to exercise at home. Building a home fitness room has never been a more timely project, and such a project can continue to provide rewards even when life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Here’s how to successfully stock a home gym.

Find a dedicated space A home gym will be limited by the amount of space that can be devoted to workouts. Possible fitness room locations include a spare bedroom, a garage, a basement, or an enclosed patio. Measure the space so you can pick and choose equipment that will fit. Leave some floor space empty for movement exercises or mat activi-


Keep the space bright Darkness can sap energy levels, so invest in mirrors and adequate overhead lighting to make the space inviting. Natural light can make the exercise area more enjoyable.

Consider the flooring New flooring can protect against damage and make an area more conductive to working out. Rubber mats can offset echoes and reduce the noise of running on a treadmill or setting down heavy weights.

Use space-saving equipment A home gym space will likely not be as expansive as the space inside a traditional fitness center. Thankfully, many activities do not require a lot of space or equipment. Classic exercises like squats, lunges, push ups, and sit ups require little gear but still produce results. Figure out which equipment you like the most and invest in two or three key pieces. Dumbells of various weights, a med-

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Simple ways to improve a kitchen pantry People have been spending more time at home in 2020 than in years past, and certain projects around the house have become a priority. One home improvement idea that serves the double benefit of creating organization and making cooking at home more efficient is to reimagine the kitchen pantry. A pantry is a room or closet where food, beverages and linens or dishes are stored. Pantries can be highly useful spaces that provide ancillary storage in kitchens. Many modern homes are equipped with pantries, but older homes may require some modification to create more useful pantries. Whether starting from scratch or modifying an existing pantry, these tips can help projects go more smoothly.

Maximize vertical storage Utilizing vertical areas can help increase storage capacity. Build in extra nooks by investing in undershelf storage baskets. These baskets can instantly create designated areas for different types of ingredients. Homeowners also can look for ways

to use the inside of cabinet doors or add extra shelves on walls or in eaves.

Consider your needs Figure out which items you would like to store in the pantry and then shop for corresponding storage systems. For example, storage solutions may feature wine bottle racks, baskets for potatoes and other produce, shelving for small appliances, and even pull out racks for baking pans or cutting boards.

Use clear storage Put ingredients in clear, airtight containers of similar dimensions so that you can easily find items you need. Transfer bulky items, like cereals and baking supplies, to storage containers for uniformity.

Store bulk items elsewhere Bulk shopping can be cost-efficient, but bulk items can quickly eat up real estate in the pantry. Designate another area for non-perishable bulk products, like paper goods or canned items, such as in a garage or utility room.


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Pull-out drawers can reduce the need to seek and reach for items. These drawers conveniently roll out so items in the back can be accessed without disturbing foods in the front. Drawers can be custom built for any pantry space.

Think about who will be taking items from the pantry. Put children’s snacks on the bottom pantry shelf where they can reach them, and then organize other shelves for adults in the home. A pantry remodel can add valuable storage space and make one of the busiest rooms in the house operate more efficiently.




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5 tips to prepare for window replacement Winter is coming, and for millions of people who reside in areas of the country that see the mercury drop considerably between December and March, that means prioritizing staying warm. Inefficient or aging housing materials may compromise your ability to do just that. Drafts from doors, poorly protected attics and basements and aging windows may force heating systems to work extra hard to maintain interior temperatures. Replacing old windows can make a home quieter by blocking out exterior noises. Consumer Reports also notes that new windows are often easier to clean and maintain than older varieties. Many homeowners are interested in replacing their windows, but may not know where to start. These guidelines can help the process along.

1. Get several estimates Ask for recommendations from neighbors or other people in your area on which companies they used to install their replacement windows.

about choosing a different style or frame color of the window, or a different type of window to improve efficiency and function. New windows are often easier to clean and maintain than older varieties.

When you interview the prospects, ask several questions about how they go about installing the windows. Questions can include: • How long will the project take? • Will I need to remain home during the process? • Do you discard of old debris? • What is the protocol for installation during inclement weather?

2. Research permits Most home renovation projects need to be approved by the local municipal-

ity. Go to the permit office and find out the requirements. Some window contractors will include securing permits in the cost of the project. After the project is completed, an inspector will come by and ensure the work was done according to code.

3. Change up the appearance Look at the type of hardware you have around the home and other fixtures. Choose windows that have locks or latches that can match those features for continuity of style. Think

4. Research top window manufacturers It’s tempting to purchase windows based on price alone, but replacement windows are often a decision that only has to be made once or twice for the life of the home. Invest in durable windows that will have staying power. Consumer Reports offers unbiased reviews on various window brands and can help homeowners make sound decisions.

5. Prepare for installation Clear pathways, remove window treatments and disconnect window alarm systems. Plan for one to two days of installation, advises Andersen Windows and Doors. Keep pets and children away from work areas. Replacement windows can be a smart investment. New windows can improve the look of a home, reduce heating costs and can keep interior spaces comfortable.

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Fall Home Improvement 2020 Page 11

Types of home insulation and where to install them When thinking about renovating their homes, homeowners may imagine changing wall colors, expanding room sizes or upgrading appliances and fixtures. However, unless people take inventory of the less glamourous components of the home, such as structure, plumbing, heating and cooling, and insulation, other improvements may be for naught. A home insulation project certainly doesn’t offer the wow factor of a kitchen remodel, but insulation serves a vital function in the house that helps keep people comfortable and reduces energy consumption. Insulation is typically placed in areas where air escapes, such as between the stud cavities inside the walls and in the attic, and serves to slow and reduce heat transfer. The U.S. Department of Energy says between 50 and 70 percent of the energy used in homes is for heating and cooling. By improving home insulation, homeowners can make their homes more comfortable, consistent and efficient. In fact, the ENERGY STAR program overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says homeowners stand to save an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling costs by adding proper insulation. To do so, homeowners can take a crash course in home insulation and find the products that fit their needs.

Blanket batts and rolls Blanket batts and rolls typically are constructed with fiberglass, so proper safety gear, such as a mask and gloves, is needed when handling them. Installing this type of insulation is relatively easy since the materials are designed to fit the standard width between studs, rafters and floor joists.

Loose fill Loose fill is usually made of fiberglass or cellulose (recycled paper fiber). It is blown or sprayed into place with pneumatic equipment, according to The Home Depot. Loose fill can be ideal for hard-toreach areas in attics or inside wall cavities. It’s good for adding insulation to irregularly shaped areas.

These batts of insulation are the most common type, but there are numerous variations for use in different situations. Since it requires special equipment, this is a job best left to professionals.

Sprayed foam Sprayed foam is just as the name implies, a foam made from polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, cementitious, or other materials that are applied by a spray container. DIYers who need only small applications can use canned products. Large quantities are pressure-sprayed by professionals.

Foam board/rigid foam panels Ideal for unfinished walls, such as basement or foundation walls, floors and ceilings, these are boards of polyurethane or polystyrene. Foam boards tend to reduce energy consumption more effectively than other types of insulation. Homeowners considering upgrading their insulation or amending existing insulation should do their homework on the type of insulation that will be most effective for their homes.

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