Spring Home Improvement 2021

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2 Spring Home Improvement | March 2021

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No mudroom? No problem. How to make your home’s entryway both functional and stylish by Mari-Jane Williams


earch #mudroom on Instagram and you’ll get more than 100,000 hits showing perfectly organized and styled spaces with cabinets, cubbies and hooks to house everyone’s backpacks, coats and shoes. Those pictures are dreamy, but what if you don’t have the space for a dedicated mudroom, where all the clutter of everyday comings and goings can be neatly stowed out of sight? The entry spaces in apartments, rowhouses and other smaller homes get a real workout—and often look the part. Having designated places for everything is the key to avoiding a mess, said Shawna Underwood of Shawna Underwood Interior Design in Washington, D.C. “If you have a place to put your keys, your purse, your hat, and you train yourself to put things where they’re supposed to go, they can always stay kind of neat.” Here are her suggestions for a beautiful but functional home entry. A dedicated coat closet is nice, but not everyone has the space for that, and even if you do, what are the odds that everyone’s coats make it there every day? Hooks, such as the Eames Hang-It-All ($195-$295) from Design Within Reach, are a good entryway solution for those stray jackets and backpacks. This steel, wall-mounted rack with solid wood balls comes in several colors, including a fun multicolor option. Underwood also likes the Barker vertical wall-mounted coatrack ($29.95) from CB2. Made of iron, it comes in either a matte black or warm gold finish. The vertical design is particularly well-suited to small spaces, she said, and to family homes because the lower hooks are easier for kids to reach. Clutter can accumulate quickly near the home entry, so consider adding a catchall tray or


ABOVE: The Tatum entryway shoe storage cabinet ($999) from Crate&Barrel has a bottom shelf for shoes, removable side hooks and doors concealing additional shelves. LEFT: The Barker vertical wall-mounted coat rack from CB2, made of iron, is well-suited to small spaces.


dish to corral keys, wallets and mail. The square quartz stone catchall ($69) from Pottery Barn is 8 inches wide and would add an elegant, modern touch on a console table in the entry. CB2’s Trek oval horn bowl ($19.95) is a less expensive alternative, made of water buffalo horn that has been heated and molded into a glossy brown 8-by-3-by-1 1/2-inch oval.

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Underwood is a fan of closed storage in an entryway to conceal clutter. To keep shoes and other everyday items organized, she suggested the Tatum entryway shoe storage cabinet ($999) from Crate&Barrel. The cabinet is made of acacia wood and metal in a brown-and-black finish. It has a shelf at the bottom for shoes, removable hooks on the sides, as well as drawers, open cubbies and doors that conceal additional shelves. Underwood suggested using baskets to add storage and texture. For storing hats, gloves, scarves and other miscellaneous items, she rec-

ommended the Baba Tree Pakurigo basket ($200) from Goodee. The 17-by-17-by-12-inch baskets made of vetiver grass come in natural, black and white, red and multicolor, and they’re made by Ghanaian artisans. You could also try Goodee’s Makaua’s oval floor basket ($85). Handcrafted in Mexico with palm fibers, the 20-by-12-by-10-inch baskets come in two colors, agave and piedra, and have handles that make them easy to move from room to room. Prices are subject to change. – The Washington Post

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Hooks, such as the Eames Hang-It-All from Design Within Reach, are a good entryway solution for those stray jackets and backpacks. This steel, wall-mounted rack with solid wood balls comes in several colors, including this multicolored option. Herman Miller


The Baba Tree Pakurigo basket from Goodee made of vetiver grass is crafted by Ghanaian artisans. A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

Pottery Barn

The square quartz stone catchall from Pottery Barn adds a modern touch on a console table in the entry.

March 2021 | Spring Home Improvement 5


5 Kitchen Design Choices Classics to help a home’s most popular space stand the test of time by Lindsey M. Roberts


f any room in our homes got a workout last year, it was the kitchen. Cooking and baking were popular for both practical and relaxing reasons. All that time in the heart of the home got some of us wondering whether we should deep clean, organize, upgrade or even remodel our kitchens. But a kitchen renovation is a huge investment. Earlier this year, HomeAdvisor reported the average new kitchen costs between roughly $13,000 and $37,000. And when you do take the leap on that kind of remodel, either for part of the space or the whole room, you want to make choices that will last for years.

1 Use marble counters

Whether you’re doing a wholekitchen remodel or just refreshing the space, Wendy Blackband of Blackband Home & Design in California, recommends marble counters. “It’s been around for a long time, and you see it whenever you’re traveling through Europe,” she said. Blackband suggested Calacatta, a whiter marble with veining. At $40 to $100 per square foot, marble is an investment, but Leanne Ford, a Pittsburgh-based interior designer and HGTV star, said it’s worth it. “Being that the kitchen is the mostused room in the house, anything you love is worth the investment,” she said. “Scrimp somewhere else.” Marble requires sealing every six to 12 months to prevent stains and acid etching. If you want a similar look with less expense and upkeep, Blackband suggested the engineered Neolith countertop material. Quartz countertops from companies like Caesarstone and PentalQuartz are another good option. Blackband recommended sticking with white or a neutral color like tan, beige or ivory. Go with a subtle pattern and low veining for a longer-lasting look.

Photo by Joe Fletcher

Changing out cabinet fronts is an investment, but it’s a worthy one. Choose classic wood finishes, such as walnut, and stay away from yellow or pink-red stained wood, which can look dated.

2 Mind your lighting

Everything looks better and more upscale in the right light. “We believe kitchens should have sufficient and flexible lighting, as if there was never any natural daylight in the space,” said Kelly Emerson, a designer with Aidan Design in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Natural light is a bonus.) If this isn’t already the case in your kitchen, upgrade to recessed downlights in the ceiling that are on dimmer switches so you can control the light levels, and add task lighting under cabinets. A layer of recessed

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wall-washer ceiling lighting, pendants or sconces add both decorative flair and directional lighting, especially if under-cabinet lighting isn’t possible. To replace dated pendants, designer Sarah Zames, principal and founder of the Brooklyn, New York, design firm General Assembly, looks for fixtures with warm materials, such as brass in a natural or black finish. Go bigger rather than smaller with these lighting fixtures. “Globes of any size are forever— frosted or clear,” said Ford, co-star

of HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords.” For more information on sizing and placement, look to Circa Lighting’s online guide to lighting at circalighting.com/tips.

3 Choose the right cabinets

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On the Bright Side Choose the right lighting for your home’s interior spaces


ighting in a home serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. It’s easy to maneuver around a well-lit home, reducing the risk of slips and falls, and the right lighting can help homeowners create their desired ambiance, which typically changes from room to room. When choosing lighting, homeowners must walk a fine line between appearance and functionality. A fixture in the foyer that instantly impresses visitors likely won’t prove as awe-inspiring if it’s installed in the living room. When choosing lighting for a home, some general rules about what works in each room can help homeowners make the most informed decision. Kitchen Kitchens are often the busiest room in a home, so lighting here can be especially important. A kitchen often benefits, both practically and aesthetically, from different types of lighting. For example, pendant lighting above kitchen islands can make meal preparation easier and safer, but such lighting likely won’t work in breakfast nooks and informal dining areas here. Recessed lighting works best in those areas. In kitchens with no island, under-cabinet lighting can illuminate countertops and simplify meal preparation. Formal dining room Many people enjoy the look of chandeliers in formal dining rooms, and such fixtures can be installed directly above the dinner table. The interior design experts at Better Homes & Gardens advised hanging chandeliers roughly 33 inches above the table in dining rooms with 8-foot ceilings, adding 3 inches for each additional foot above 8 feet. Darkened dining areas may be ideal in restaurants, but homeowners may want to split the difference and choose dimmable chandeliers. That way, they can dim the lights for romantic dinners but turn them up for large gatherings.


A kitchen often benefits, both practically and aesthetically, from different types of lighting.

Living room Adaptability also is important in the living room, where homeowners may host anything from movie nights to book clubs to parties for the big game. It can be a tall order to accommodate such a wide range of activities. Recessed lighting and track lighting are popular options. If the living room currently has neither, homeowners should recognize that it will cost considerably less to install track lighting than recessed lighting. Better Homes & Gardens noted that flexible track lighting provides ambient, task or accent light, and can even be moved to change lighting schemes at any time, making them a budget-friendly option. Recessed lighting also works

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Bedroom lighting should provide enough light for getting dressed, but also be able to be toned down at bedtime. well in living rooms, especially those with low ceilings. That’s because it’s installed into the ceiling, meaning it does not take up any visual space in the room, which can help it appear larger. Bedroom The home improvement experts at BobVila.com noted that bedroom

lighting should provide enough light for getting dressed, but also be able to be toned down at bedtime. Both portable and installed lighting can be used in bedrooms to serve these various functions. Recessed fixtures that dim can ensure there’s ample light to get dressed in the morning, but they can also be dimmed at night. Portable nightstand lights can make it easier for couples sharing a bedroom, allowing one person to stay up and read while the other goes to sleep. A consultation with a lighting expert or interior decorator can help homeowners find lights that provide both practical and aesthetic appeal. –Metro

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Time to Go Knowing when to replace these household items can keep you safer by Daniel Bortz


avvy homeowners replace common household items in a timely fashion. But staying on top of such duties is no small feat. “It’s often easy to overlook when items should be replaced in our homes,” said Beth McGee, author of “Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master.” “Some items should be replaced because germs collect and make them unhealthy to use or keep around,” she said, while “other items we rely on simply wear out and should be replaced on a more regular schedule to ensure safety or continuity of use.” Knowing when the following items need to be replaced can help you keep your house in working order and eliminate germs.

Furnace and air filters Dirty furnace and air-conditioning filters can put stress on your HVAC system and drive up your heating and cooling bills. It’s important to change filters several times throughout the year, said Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor, a home services marketplace. Requirements may vary depending on your location and environment. Homeowners who live in extreme climates, whether very hot or very cold, might need to change their HVAC filters every other month. But “in an average four-season climate, changing the filter a couple of times during the heating season and once during the cooling season should do the job,” DiClerico said. “This will prevent airborne pollutants from entering your home’s living space, while also extending the life of your heating and cooling equipment and helping it run at maximum efficiency.” The exception? Fiberglass filters should be changed monthly to prevent dust and dirt from building up and circulating throughout your home, according to Rebecca Edwards, lead safety and technology reporter at SafeWise, an online safety resource company. Fire extinguishers First, determine whether you have a rechargeable or disposable fire extinguisher, as “drastically different rules apply,” said Mélanie Berliet, general manager for the home-improvement website The Spruce. She suggested investing in a rechargeable extinguisher, which usually lasts up to six years; most disposable extinguishers have a 12-year shelf life. For either product, “be sure to check the pres10 Spring Home Improvement | March 2021


batteries once a month and replace them as needed. (The National Fire Protection Association says smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside every bedroom and on every level of the home.) Regardless of the detector’s expiration date, DiClerico strongly recommended replacing smoke detectors at least once every 10 years, because “their sensors start to lose sensitivity after that,” he said.

sure gauges every month to ensure the extinguishers are still good or are fully charged,” she said. “If [the gauge] is in the green area, you should be good to go,” Edwards said. “If you have any question about whether or not your extinguisher will work, get it checked out by a professional. Most fire departments will inspect an extinguisher for you.” Smoke detectors All smoke detectors come with an expiration date, Edwards said, but it’s still important to test the

Carbon monoxide detectors More than 400 Americans die every year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most carbon monoxide detectors last five to seven years from their manufacturing date, Edwards said, but she recommended replacing them every five years “to be on the safe side.” She suggested checking the detectors’ batteries at least every six months. “Always respond to any sound from your [carbon monoxide] detector,” she said. “Like smoke alarms, they chirp and beep to let you know about low batteries or unsafe conditions.” –The Washington Post A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

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How to Choose a Landscaper... …and determine what plants are right for your yard By Hannah Himes News-Post Staff


ver the last year, many people have been at home more than ever. For some, that’s meant the start of lawn and landscaping projects they might have been putting off, and for some landscaping companies, that’s meant good business. In Frederick County, Hudson Landscaping in New Market, Frederick Landscaping and Shade Tree Landscaping serve residents for a variety of needs, from drainage problems to planting. Frederick Landscaping is a familyowned and operated business that’s main office is located on McKinstry Mill Road in New Windsor. It was founded in 1989 by Scot Morrow and serves Frederick County and the surrounding area, providing services like landscaping and planting, drainage, hardscaping, water features, commercial snow removal and lawn care. “A lot of people, the money that they didn’t need to go on vacation this year or last year—everyone stayed at home, so they’re investing [that] money into their backyard or front yard to spruce up their house,” said Pete Morrow, co-owner of the company. As far as reoccurring problems he sees in the area, Morrow said that in a lot of the newer developments access can be an issue because the lots are smaller. “It’s all about access for us ... getting our machinery in and out of the backyard.” Some solutions to this problem include looking into getting smaller equipment and working with homeowners associations to get access from the back of the house. For a common problem like drainage issues in the yard, Morrow said they could start by checking to make sure the grade has positive drainage away from the house and that there’s no settling or puddling around the foundation.

Courtesy Shade Tree Landscaping

Shade Tree Landscaping in Frederick provides a variety of services, including tree trimming and removal.

Courtesy Hudson Landscaping

Hudson Landscaping’s mulch pattern in this local home’s front yard added interest to its landscaping.

They would then look at downspouts to make sure they’re getting water away from the house in the most cost-effective way. As for plants and trees that people might want to enhance their property, Morrow recommended visiting

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nurseries that sell native plants, and to consider the yard’s environment. “Look to see if there’s a lot of deer around your house, … what direction your house faces, and then also remember in the wintertime if you’re up on a hill it’s very windy, it can be

hard on some evergreens,” he said. Shade Tree Landscaping owner Charlie Carter concurs that a lot of people want projects done now that they’re home all the time, and he is seeing more requests than ever. Located in Frederick, his business, in operation since 1991, offers commercial and residential landscaping installation and renovations in the county and surrounding areas. “You get people that typically don’t pay someone to do their stuff, or some people try it. They’re home, they want to do it themselves, but they can’t physically do it, so it’s been an opportunity for us to grow,” he said, noting that the company has added employees and is bringing in more revenue. One problem Carter said his company faces is coming in behind other companies because they didn’t do good quality work. He said he tries to be detailed as possible about the work he will provide so people know exactly what they’re getting. When adding new plants, Carter said it’s important to take notes about the areas where they’ll go. “Do they get [full] shade or partial shade? Do they get sun? You want to investigate thoroughly to make sure the plant that you’re getting is going to survive in that area,” he said. For flowerbed borders, Carter likes liriope, a stemless groundcover with grass-like leaves. Within the liriope, he likes golden cypress and foundation shrubs, such as a holly shrub. For pizazz, Carter’s favorite is the Japanese Laceleaf weeping maple tree. Make sure the landscaping company you work with is legitimate, licensed and insured. “References are always nice,” Carter said. “Make sure you get a thorough estimate … The details are important. Ask questions. Research online a little bit about what questions to ask.” Jeff Hudson of Hudson Landscaping, a family-owned business in New Market, offered similar advice.

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Courtesy Frederick Landscaping

Frederick Landscaping installed a flagstone walk, boulders, river rock and plants on this property that it also maintains.

“I’ve seen a huge increase in that when the pandemic hit, and a lot of people were laid off … you got some people out here trying to do landscaping,” he said. There’s plenty of work in the area to share, but not everyone is licensed, insured and knows what they’re doing. “[People] need to do their research,” he said. “They need to make sure that they’re a legit company, they pay their taxes, they have the certifications to do things.” And contracts are important, too. If you’re having a person or business doing the work for you, it’s crucial to have one in place so expectations are clearly defined. Hudson also added that one problem in the industry itself is that everyone is trying to be “the cheap guy,” meaning that rates widely vary. As far as business goes, Hudson said in some ways it’s slowed down, but in other ways they have been busier. “Half and half,” he said. “You don’t know everybody’s situation, but I felt like there was an increase because of the stimulus because some people had

some extra money to get some things done or some stuff repaired or do some stuff outside and around the house.” Hudson Landscaping offers mowing and turf care, planting and pruning and small tree trimming. It serves Frederick County and the surrounding area. Going into the spring, Hudson said the business will work on repairing damage from the winter in general and from snow removal. “We’ll fix ruts and grass and stuff like that, and then we’ll go into doing spring cleanups and mulching and pruning, aeration, seeding—just starting to get everything together for the springtime from any type of damages.” And when it comes to plants, Hudson said it’s all about personal preference, and his is boxwoods, which are small bushes or trees that can be used to make hedges or boundaries in gardens. “I think they’re very low maintenance and very hearty,” he said, adding that it’s important that people know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to different soil conditions required for certain plants.

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Courtesy Hudson LandscapinG

Hudson Landscaping planted boxwoods—shrubs that can be used in a variety of ways, including to create borders or boundaries—to enhance this backyard.

March 2021 | Spring Home Improvement 13


Style & Shelter

Exterior Protection


How Long Do Sidings Last? Siding protects your home from the elements, but inevitably takes a beating in the process. Your choice of material, however, will determine how long this part of your house endures. • Vinyl typically lasts 20 to 40 years and is easy GETTY

Pergolas tend to be larger and offer more privacy and shade than arbors.

Structures can take your backyard to the next level


esigning an ideal backyard space requires forethought and an eye for style. Knowing which features to include in a yard often boils down to what homeowners want to achieve in the space. Will it be a relaxing oasis or a focal point for entertaining? People often look to various structures to add height and visual interest to outdoor spaces. Homeowners will likely come across structures like arbors, gazebos, pergolas and even trellises as they wade through the variety of features they can incorporate into backyard plans. Each of these structures can add appeal, but they also can offer shelter from the sun and privacy when enjoying the yard. There are significant differences among each structure. Here’s a look at what sets them apart. • Arbor: An arbor is one of the simpler garden structures. It is usually a frame that is arched or square-cornered. Most homeowners use it as an entryway to a garden or even to the front of the home. Those with green thumbs may cover it with climbing and trailing plants. According to The Spruce, a website with tips to “help you make your best home,” arbors date to early Egyptian and Roman gardens and were used throughout Europe by the late 16th century. • Pergola: The words arbor and pergola are 14 Spring Home Improvement | March 2021

often used interchangeably, but to suggest the two structures are the same would not be accurate. Pergola comes from the Italian word “pergola,” which means “projection.” Pergolas were once projected from exterior walls and supported on one side by pillars or columns. Today, arbors are usually freestanding units with two or four posts. Pergolas may be connected on one side to a home or another structure. Some are freestanding units supported by four posts. Pergolas tend to be larger and offer more privacy and shade than arbors. • Gazebo: Gazebos are more defined garden buildings, according to the contractor referral site Network. They are freestanding units that can be built in various shapes; some are octagonal, others are square. Like a pergola, a gazebo is supported by columns and may have low railings or built-in benches. Gazebos also may have a more solid roof than arbors or pergolas, providing protection from the sun and inclement weather. The roof may have added architectural appeal, like a cupola. • Trellis: A trellis is a simple, geometricallyshaped structure that provides a surface for climbing plants, and may also support fruit-bearing trees. Trellis work may be used in conjunction with an arbor or pergola, and may be installed on fencing. –Metro

to maintain. The grade and thickness of the panels will impact their durability. If damaged, vinyl panels are easy to repair or replace. • Wood siding (usually cedar) can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. It offers unrivaled beauty, but also requires much more maintenance than other types of siding. The wood should be resealed every five years and inspected annually to detect potential rot and pest infestations. • Aluminum has a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years. However, expect the paint to peel after about 15 years. Fortunately, aluminum siding can be repainted. Though it’s possible for its panels to be scratched, dented or pitted, they can usually be fixed or replaced. • Fiber cement planks have a lifespan of

about 25 to 40 years. Their color may eventually fade, but the planks can be repainted. Fiber cement can resemble wood, but is resistant to termites and rot. This type of siding requires little maintenance. Siding should always be replaced when it can no longer protect the internal structure of your home. However, it may deteriorate long before this and should be replaced once it becomes shabby, brittle or discolored. –Newspaper Toolbox A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

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Get Your Lawn Back Techniques for revitalizing your yard after a snowy winter


ristine, snow-covered landscapes can be wonders to behold. While that blanket of white is idyllic, a lawn’s delicate blades may be paying a hefty price beneath those cold, heavy piles of snow. Snowplows push salt and sand up on the grass, while subterranean animals like mice and moles dig burrows beneath piles of snow as they try to find food and stay warm. Such conditions are not favorable for a thriving landscape. The following techniques can mitigate winter-related lawn damage. • Clear out debris. Remove any scattered leaves, branches and other debris that has been strewn across the property from storms or snow-laden trees. This will give you a clean canvas to begin your work. • Dry out snow mold. The Family Handyman, a home-improvement magazine, said snow mold is a cold-season fungus that causes gray-colored circles or patches on the lawn where there has been snow. To address snow mold, rake the lawn to loosen matted grass and facilitate the drying-out process. • De-thatch the lawn. Heavy snow can compress the grass and cause some of it to die off. De-thatching helps to remove dead grass blades and separate any matting. This enables water, nutrients and air to reach the lawn’s roots more efficiently. Thinning out old organic matter also helps encourage new growth.


Consider getting your soil tested at a horticultural center before deciding which nutrients to use for fertilizing.

• Aerate the soil. Coupled with de-thatching, aeration by loosening the soil or poking holes in it, allows nutrients to move freely to the roots. • Kill weeds before they spread. Weeds may be the first thing to start growing when the weather begins to warm. Address them promptly by manually pulling them or applying an herbicide.

• Overseed the lawn. Chances are there are some bare spots that have formed over the winter. Overseeding can help to fill in the lawn. Make sure that frosts have passed and soil temperature is around 50 F to 60 F before seeding. Water daily until grass fills in. • Apply nutrients. Fertilizer and compost can restore nutrients that may have been depleted over winter.

A soil test at a nearby horticultural center can tell you which nutrients are needed, according to the Chemistry Cachet, a guide to using chemistry secrets for healthy living, beauty, cleaning and gardening. Lawns can be restored to their prewinter glory after five to six weeks of consistent sunshine and warm weather. –Metro

Why Should You Disinfect Your Gardening Tools? Disinfecting garden tools can help ensure the long-term health of plants and vegetables. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, plant pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, cause diseases that can damage and even kill plants. These pathogens can be transferred to plants and infect them through bits of soil and plant debris that get stuck on common garden-

ing tools, like shovels and pruners. Pathogens are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye, which is why even tools that appear clean may still contain harmful substances on their surfaces that can prove life-threatening to plants. Disinfecting tools at the appropriate time, like before storing them in fall, before using them in spring or after using them to remove infected plants, can prevent the damage caused

16 Spring Home Improvement | March 2021

by invisible pathogens. Avoid using strictly bleach to disinfect garden tools, as the UME noted bleach corrodes metal and can therefore render tools that require sharp edges ineffective. A homemade solution that’s nine parts water and one part bleach can be used to effectively clean shovels, spades and rakes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that isopropyl alcohol

(rubbing alcohol) in concentrations of 70 percent or more can effectively disinfect surfaces for bacteria, fungi and viruses. Such a solution can be used to disinfect small hand tools. Store-bought cleaners with an active ingredient that is 0.1 percent alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharinate also can be effective for disinfecting small hand tools, as well as small pots and saucers. –Metro

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Zap the Sap Tips for cleaning your sap-tainted walkways, driveway and even your car By Jeanne Huber Q: Our walkway is asphalt, and we sealed it about

three years ago with the standard sealing material. This autumn, sap from a nearby pine tree dripped onto the walkway, leaving many white spots. How can we remove the spots without damaging the surface? We have tried using mineral spirits, with no success. Is there a product that can remove the dried sap spots? A: The alcohol-based hand sanitizer that you may have stocked up on works wonders for removing pine pitch from almost any surface, and it won’t hurt asphalt or asphalt sealer. Sanitizing hand wipes with alcohol as their key ingredient should also work. Alcohol should not damage asphalt, especially if it has been in place for a while, or asphalt sealer, said Chad Hopkins, lead estimator for AC Paving, a company in Millersville, Maryland. Carol Chapin, vice president of research and development for Simple Green, which makes cleaning solutions, suggested wetting a cotton ball with acetone nail polish remover and dabbing that on the pitch to soften and remove it. Or, she said, you could use a petroleum-based hand cleaner, such as Goop ($9.99 for a 14-ounce tub on Amazon). After you apply either of these, wash the surface with a solution of 10 parts water to one part Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner ($4.97 for a 32-ounce bottle at Home Depot), she said. It’s also possible to use undiluted Simple Green to dissolve the pitch. This approach might save you from having to spot-treat every place where the pitch dripped. However, it’s important to test first to ensure you won’t damage the surface. Simple Green is a degreaser, and asphalt is a petroleum product. Depending on how the surface is sealed, the cleaner could break down the oil in the pavement. “Changes in air-quality regulations have caused changes to the formulas of coatings, such as asphalt sealers,” Chapin said via email. “Some are not as impervious to cleaners as they used to be.” To test whether you can safely use Simple Green, soak a cotton ball or a sponge with the cleaner, and place it on the pavement in an inconspicuous area. After five minutes, remove the swab and rinse the area thoroughly with water. Once it dries, check to see whether the spot has turned brown, and press with your finger to determine whether the pavement is softer or pitted. If no change is evident, it’s safe to proceed. The Simple Green website, simplegreen.com, details how to use undiluted Simple Green to remove A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post


It’s possible to use undiluted Simple Green to dissolve the pitch. This approach might save you from having to spot-treat every place where it dripped. tree sap from cars: Wash the surface. Apply the full-strength cleaner to a clean washcloth or terry cloth. Let the cloth sit on each spot for at least 30 seconds. Gently scrub with a soft-bristle brush or a nonabrasive scrubbing pad. Rinse. The website also gives instructions for cleaning an asphalt driveway: Dampen the surface. Pretreat heavily soiled areas with the full-strength cleaner, and wait 10 minutes. Mix about 1 1/2 cups of cleaner per gallon of water, then spray or mop on. Scrub and let it soak for a few minutes. Rinse so the runoff goes into gravel, soil or landscaping. If your test comes out okay, you can apply these instructions to removing sap from your walkway. Instead of pouring undiluted cleaner on the path, you might want to adapt the idea of leaving a

saturated washcloth on the pitch spots; you could substitute an old hand towel or other thick rag that’s bigger than a washcloth. There is one huge caveat about cleaning asphalt, Hopkins said: “Do not—do not!—power-wash with high pressure. If it’s too high, it could blast some of the sand out. Asphalt is not like concrete, where you can really get in there and blast it.” The warning applies even to asphalt topped by sealer, he said, because a high-pressure washer can blast off the coating. If you do resort to using a pressure washer— and many homeowners do, especially for large expanses such as driveways—it’s critical to use a wide, fan-type tip at a distance. “Go for the biggest spread, and keep the tip far away” from the surface, Hopkins said. The website pressurewasherwiz.com recommends keeping the tip 3 to 4 feet from the surface, which, for many people, is around waist height. Alternatively, you can outfit the pressure washer with a flat-surface cleaner, a circular head that cleans a wide swath in a single pass. Sticking with a hose is safe, and it’s probably all you need for cleaning a path. –The Washington Post

March 2021 | Spring Home Improvement 17

KITCHEN, continued from 6

wood species,” Emerson said. “Rich variations of light- to medium-warm gray stains on maple, cherry, hickory or walnut” are also good, as are “natural stains on cherry and walnut.” Whatever you do, she said, “Stay away from yellow and pink-red coloration to wood stains.” Although white cabinets are a popular choice, Emerson warned they’re on their way out of style. If you still

like the lighter look, try linen colors versus stark whites, as they can help “achieve more layered tone-on-tone palettes,” she said. As for style, Blackband said to look at slab-panel cabinetry, which features a flat door over the cabinet box and lends a modern but classic look. Installing panels over appliances is a luxurious extra touch if you can afford it, making the room seem less like a kitchen full of machines and more like a living space with furniture.

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Like counters, cabinets are a place to spend your money wisely. They are expensive, but investing in the highest quality you can afford will pay off with longer-lasting materials.

ware is trendy right now, if that brass is well-made, has been worn in and has an aged patina, it can still have lasting value.

4 Select quality hardware

Subway tile is the most enduring choice for a backsplash. Avoid bold, trendy colors, and instead look for white or neutrals. Keep it simple, and bring in color elsewhere in the kitchen with more easily replaced items like dish towels, art, rugs and bowls of fruit. If, as Zames said, white subway tile feels too much like “playing it safe,” there are ways to make it look more interesting. Blackband suggested choosing a larger tile than the standard 3-by-6inch size, or changing the orientation; try stacking the tile vertically or in a chevron pattern. Another way to make this classic feel more personal is to choose subway tile that’s handmade, Blackband said, or to get creative with your grout color.

Updating hardware is one of the easiest kitchen upgrades, but what if you’re choosing for the first time and for the long haul? “Our office tends to like things that have a natural, warm feeling,” Zames said. She specifically looks to oil-rubbed bronze knobs and pulls, because the patina can change over time, giving them a classic, well-worn look. Knobs don’t have to match plumbing hardware, Blackband said, as long as they’re complementary, such as black knobs with a polished chrome faucet. Emerson recommended keeping all the hardware warm or cool, like satin and nickel finishes that go with stainless steel appliances. What matters more than the type of metal, though, is the quality of the hardware, according to Zames. For example, even though brass hard-


5 Choose a classic backsplash

–The Washington Post

Thinking about Solar? Have you been thinking about solar for your home? Don’t know where to start? Questions about financial incentives? You don’t have to do this alone!

A solar co-op can help! Solar Co-ops make installing a solar system easy. Solar co-ops bring neighbors together, answer questions, and use bulk-purchasing power to get discounted pricing and a quality installation. Each homeowner gets a personalized proposal. Solar United Neighbors is forming a new co-op now! For more info and schedule of virtual info sessions: www.solarunitedneighbors.org/co-ops/maryland/

For More Information:


Contact Dawn Ashbacher, at 301-600-6864 or email dashbacher@frederickcountymd.gov. Frederick County Government, Office of the County Executive Sustainability and Environmental Resources SustainableFrederickCounty.org

www.DreamHouseStyle.com 301.360.0680 18 Spring Home Improvement | March 2021

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March 2021 | Spring Home Improvement 19




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