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A12 July 22, 2020

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Improvement How to protect wood floors from inclement weather Wo o d f l o o r s a r e a worthwhile investment that can improve the beaut y and function of just about any room in a home. Even though wood floors are durable, and new protective treatments help seal out many of the things that may have damaged floors in the past, homeowners still need to prioritize protecting their hardwood floors. Certain seasons of the year can be more harsh on wood floors than others. For example, seasons characterized by moisture and precipitation, particularly the early spring, winter and fall, can be hard on wood floors.Cold, snowy days can damage wood floors, and winter weather can be harsh on flooring.

Homeowners need not give up on hardwood if they live in an area that sees all four seasons. They just need to take a few steps to keep floors looking beautiful. • Clean up the salt. Salt that keeps sidewalks and streets clear of snow and ice inadvertently gets tracked inside a home. Hard chunks of salt can scratch wood floors, and, if left to sit, that salt can eventually cause white marks and other stains. Routinely vacuuming and sweeping up salt is necessary to protect wood floors. • Invest in shoe storage. Wet or snowy boots can create puddles around the house. Have a special mat or tray by the front door where wet shoes can be kept. A nice bench in the entryway

makes it easy for residents and guests to remove their shoes until it’s time to go back outside. • Use water-wicking mats. Homeowners will probably need a few extra mats around to tame errant drips and wipe shoes. Any entrance that might be used by people or pets should be protected. Try to avoid petroleum-based, rubberbacked mats, as they could discolor the wood floor. • Control humidity indoors. Cold, dry air in a home can be problematic because the moisture in the wood can eventually evaporate into the air. The heat will suck that moisture from the flooring, causing it to shrink, creak and splinter and become more brittle.

Think about investing in an in-line humidifier for the home’s HVAC system that can keep a moderate amount of humidity in the home. Hardwood floorboards are installed to accommodate minor temperature and humidity fluctuations. This is typically a range of between 60 and 80 degrees F with a relative humidity range of 35 to 55 percent. • Use the right cleaning products. Avoid excessive water to clean wood floors, and select soaps that are specially designed for wood flooring. Consult with the flooring manufacturer for a list of detergents that are safe to use. With proper care, hardwood flooring can survive rain, snow and cold weather.

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 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.

in wooded and waterfront landscapes. Wood clapboard siding is another 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 professional, as many factors, including the choice of wood, must be considered before making a final decision.

Options abound when shopping for home siding Vinyl siding Vinyl siding is easily maintained and among the more budget-friendly siding options. Vinyl siding is made from a PVC plastic that does not rot or flake. Siding professionals note that the technology used to create

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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. 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. Cedar shingle siding offers a natural look that blends well

homeowners can choose from. Siding can give homes a competely new look, mak-

ing choice of siding a significant decision worthy of careful consideration.

Stone and stone-veneer 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. 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

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July 22, 2020 A13

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Improvement Small kitchen improvements that maximize functionality Many homeowners wish for expansive kitchens. Modernized kitchens that include sought after features and showcase the latest trends go a long way to improving the overall value of a home. As desirable as such kitchens may be, some homes simply don’t have enough space for a centerfold-worthy kitchen featuring an island, wine refrigerator and walk-in pantry. However, homeowners with small kitchens can still improve the form and function of their existing spaces. Reconfigure and revamp cabinetry Homeowners whose kitchens are small often lament their lack of storage. Redesigning the layout of cabinets, and possibly adding some more cabinetry, may take care of certain storage issues. Utilizing corner space with LeMans units, lazy susans and

other gadgets to make access to these areas easier. Going vertical with wall cabinets that extend to the ceiling also can add more storage, as can roll-in work carts. Work with the walls Small kitchens require clever usage of vertical space. Vertical storage units, hooks, shelving, and more can move items out of drawers and off of counters. Consider an underthe-cabinet toaster oven and microwave to create more counter space. Use scaled-down appliances Shop with size in mind when looking at new appliances if you have a small kitchen. Compact versions won’t take up as much space as larger alternatives. Homeowners should consider the ultimate function of the kitchen and then think about which appliances will serve them

well. Homeowners with small kitchens may not need a large stand mixer or an oversized commercial stove. Add some glass Incorporate glass to improve the perception of space in small kitchens. Glass lets you see through the objects, thereby enhancing the feeling of spaciousness or what designers call “negative space.” Glass also can be reflective, visually expanding the space. Embrace high-end materials It costs less to renovate small spaces than bigger areas, so homeowners may be able to afford high-end materials that really add personality to a kitchen. Flooring, counter materials and quality fixtures can really set small kitchens apart. Small kitchens can be culinary havens with the right improvements to maximize the space.

No homeowner wants to look at the exterior of his or her home and see roof damage. Such damage may lead homeowners to think they need a new roof, a potentially costly expense that

can quickly throw household budgets into a state of disarray. The average homeowner spends a little more than $7,600 installing a new roof. Various factors, including the

size of a home and the type of roof homeowners prefer, will affect the cost of a roof replacement. In addition, homeowners who see roof damage can rest assured that not all roof problems will necessarily require a replacement roof to be installed. Curled shingles are a problem many homeowners have encountered. This particular problem is not always indicative that a roof is on its way out. In fact, the home improvement resource As asphalt shingles age, their corners often begin to curl downward or upward. Homeowners who notice this early enough can glue down the curled section of each shingle that’s beginning to curl. Some shingles may be curling because they’re defective. Homeowners should contact a local roofing pro-

What causes curled shingles? fessional to diagnose the cause of the curling. Doing so quickly can prevent curled shingles from contributing to more widespread damage. Moisture and poor ventilation may be contributing to curled shingles as well. Homeowners with attics in their home may see curled shingles on their roofs because moisture is building up in their poorly ventilated attics. In addition to causing damage such as curled

shingles, a poorly ventilated attic allows moisture to build up, potentially contributing to mold growth. Mold presents a host of additional problems, including some that can adversely affect the health of a home’s inhabitants. Improper roof installation also may be the culprit behind curled shingles. When a roof is not installed correctly, shingles may not be aligned or nailed down

in the right way. This might be what’s causing shingles to curl on recently installed roofs. Cur led shingles are unsightly and can pose a significant threat to a home if not addressed promptly. Homeowners can protect themselves and their roofs by working with skilled roofing professionals, who can diagnose issues like curled shingles and offer the right solutions.

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