Fall Home Improvement 2020

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HOME IMPROVEMENT Many things to consider with painting project






With fall and winter approaching and indoor activities becoming more popular once again, some turn to home renovation to give them a new sense of control. A task that may seem daunting to some – taking on a painting job – may not be a simple task, but with the proper planning, the rewards can be great and long lasting as a new coat of paint can quickly update the vibe of a room for years to come. No matter the size of the painting project, the process and type of paint are equally important, according to Mike Palkovitz of Steigler’s Home Center in Bessemer. Palkovitz has been working at Steigler’s as a sales associate, and more specifically in the paint department, for two years. Preparation key “Nothing makes me sad-

der than seeing people repainting (or restaining) their deck every two years,” Palkovitz said. “Preparing the surface should take almost as much time as painting itself.” Preparing the surface you plan to paint is important in getting the most longevity out of the product you use, regardless of finish or type of paint purchased, said Palkovitz. He recommends people who plan to paint a surface, spend a good amount of time sanding, washing and priming (if necessary) the surface prior to picking up the paintbrush. Some paints may not want to adhere to the preprinted surface, especially if the surface to be painted has a coat of semigloss or gloss paint on it. There are many types of paint and stain projects – large and small. Paint a house, stain a fence. Paint chair, stain a deck. Paint a wall, stain a desk.

As for decks and other outside projects, Palkovitz said it’s important to make sure the surface is totally dry. “For people who plan to redo their decks or other outdoor surfaces, I recommend that they not only dry the deck for several sunny days, but that they also cover the surface at night, because the dew can settle into the wood.” He explained that any moisture in the wood that was not allowed to dry out, runs the risk of the paint and stain bubbling and not properly adhering to the surface.

Choosing colors When choosing colors for your walls, Palkovitz has several recommendations of things to do before you settle on that color that you absolutely loved at the store. “Take the color samples home and hang them on your wall so you can see how the lighting of your

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MIKE PALKOVITZ stands in the paint department of Steiger’s Home Center in Bessemer. room changes, how it looks throughout the day,” Palkovitz said. Making sure the color you choose goes well with your furniture and lighting is key to getting a good result. He said purchasing a small cans of paint colors

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you were curious about and painting small portions of the wall to get a similar effect may be an important step in making the right choice. “Spend time with your colors,” Palkovitz said. “That is something I always tell people.” Consider location The part of the house you plan to paint or stain plays a role in what type of paint one should use. “Exterior paint is made to be resistant to the weather, including additives to help with fading, the wearability, the durability of it,” he said. “So whatever you are doing, whether it is a deck, siding, a shed, or whatever, it’s important to get an exterior paint.” He explained that every manufacturer has their own combination of additives in their paints, some of which help the paint stick to surfaces, and others contain additives that allow the paint to stand up to heavy foot traffic, such as those used for decks. “We really try to stick to exterior for exterior and interior to interior,” Palkovitz said.

Different finishes Paints have a variety of finishes to fit a variety of lifestyles. Texture of the finish ranges from matte to high gloss. According to Palkovitz, some finishes are better than others for hiding blemishes in walls, and ease of cleaning. Semi-gloss

paints do well in areas where there is high chance of spills, such as kitchens and bathrooms, as they are more easily cleaned; whereas matte finishes are better at hiding blemishes in walls. “If you choose a high gloss, they have a tendency to show every little blemish on the wall,” he said. “So, it is particularly important to clean and prep these sort of walls.” Other tips Palkovitz shared a few more tips for those looking to tackle a painting project: –If you are running out of paint and believe that your other cans may not perfectly match the original color, end the can on a corner, so that the lighting won’t show the two different colors on the wall. Start the adjoining wall with the new can. –Matching a color with a spectrometer only requires a small sample of color (roughly the size of a dime) to discern a formula for that color of paint. Preserve the labels of the paint cans so they can be scanned to help mix a new batch. –Consider your lifestyle, that may help to decide on what kind of finish or color would suit your needs best. –Talk to your paint store clerk, as they may be able to help you find the color and look you want, and help with any other questions about painting supplies and the project in general.


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3 projects that will improve your home’s value

(BRANDPOINT) – Buying a home is exciting. Once you purchase a property, you want to make it your own. Whether it’s a 100-year-old beauty or a fresh new build, there are improvements you can make that not only personalize the space, but add instant value to your real estate investment.

Update garage door Garage doors take up a lot of visual real estate on the exterior of a home, meaning they dramatically boost curb appeal. Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression, bland designs, old styles and damaged doors detract from a home’s appearance and overall value. Updating a garage door has a midrange cost but an impressive ROI. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report, the average national job cost of a garage door

replacement is $3,695, with an impressive 94.5% cost recouped at resale. When choosing a garage door, select one you like that matches the home’s design. For example, carriage-house garage doors have a rustic look that work well with American Craftsman style homes. Contemporary garage doors with clean lines work well with mid-century modern homes. Raised panel garage doors are popular and work with many types of homes.

Add a bathroom Wish you could add a bathroom where no conventional plumbing exists in your home? Basements, attics, garages and unfinished spaces are tricky, but there is one way to add a bathroom without busting through concrete or sacrificing the structural integrity of a home: abovefloor plumbing such as macerating toilets and

drain pumps from Saniflo. This was the case for David Pirain of NextHome PPM Realty, who wanted to add a half bath to a home he was flipping in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The primary challenge: Sewage access was above grade and 40 feet away from the basement, which is situated about six feet below the sewer line. Installing conventional plumbing was impossible without installing a large sewage ejector system that would require breaking concrete to dig a pit to hold the system, which he estimated would cost $9,000. He decided above-floor plumbing options would be an effective alternative at a much lower cost. He spent $1,100 and now estimates that adding a basement bathroom increased the value of the home by $20,000. Learn more about adding a bathroom anywhere you want without the traditional cost at


Revitalize ceilings Dingy, cracked ceilings are eyesores that date a property and can make it look older than it is. By updating your ceiling, you not only improve the appearance, but you also increase the home’s overall value. If there are chips and cracks, it’s important to repair these issues before applying any paint. Once repaired, vacuum cobwebs and remove dust to ensure that fresh coat of ceiling paint adheres properly. Don’t like the style of ceiling you have? Many homeowners are opting to replace popcorn texture ceilings with flat or knockdown styles. While a ceiling is a personal preference, updating it to a more modern option may command a higher price at resale. If the ceiling has never been painted, you may be able to remove the popcorn texture yourself;

otherwise, hiring a professional should get the job done quickly. Keep in mind, popcorn textures and other ceilings applied before 1979 may have asbestos, so you’ll want to get it tested before removal.

Enhanced value As you look at different

properties, you imagine yourself in each house, enjoying the space and making memories. Even when you find “the one,” there are things you want to update. By making these improvements, you will personalize the space, instantly enhance the value and have a property you enjoy.


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Simple solutions to create modern home oasis without starting all over

(BRANDPOINT) – When people think of modern homes, many picture classic floor-to-ceiling glass windows, white rooms and contemporary furniture. The reality is, adding modern touches to your home does not require a rebuild, a huge investment or a blank space. A few design tips and simple swaps can transform your existing space into an updated, modern oasis. Embrace clutter-free living areas According to the minimalist mantra, less is truly more. Bring this mantra to life by decluttering countertops, mantels, walls and other visible areas in the home. Renowned designer and Delta Design Trust Member Justina Blakeney advises, “Have a designated spot where items go. If you are a collector like I am, it’s important to have a flow of ‘stuff’ so as you invite more objects into your home, make sure you usher other pieces out.” One way to achieve minimalism is to opt for spacesaving furniture. Add nesting tables or benches that double as stylish seating and storage. Use baskets and bins to hide inevitable items like shoes, blankets and board games when not in use. Implement hidden filing systems and pledge to digitize documents moving forward, freeing up the office while practicing sustainability.

Swap old fixtures, statement pieces Substituting fixtures and statement pieces can bring dramatic change to your home. To create clean, intentional design, incorporate objects with sleek bold lines. In the bathroom, opt for the Delta Trillian Bath Collection, which commands attention and provides a striking prismatic design fit for the modern bathroom. This fixture choice represents a bold evolution of modern style, making a substantial impact while not requiring a full-fledged remodel. In the bath space or elsewhere, the addition of a head-turning mirror will emphasize focal points of a space and open up the room to create the illusion of larger floor plans. For a larger investment, consider a floor upgrade. The addition of a large, geometric rug, fresh tile or restored hardwood floors can make a space feel entirely new. Embrace greenery, natural light Invite the outside in by embracing foliage and natural sunlight, no matter the season. Consciously incor-



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porate florals to add depth and life to your living space. Consider an oversized planter to serve as a main feature of the room, hanging florals as artwork or succulents as tabletop decor. Do you lack a green thumb? Not to worry; textured faux plants can do the trick, with little maintenance beyond a light dusting. When it comes to natural light, play up your win-

dows with simple drapes that emphasize the outdoors. When additional light is needed, exposed bulbs and bold pendants are easy, modern swaps to illuminate the home and its decor without feeling jarring. With these simple design tricks, your current space will be transformed into a modern haven in no time.



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Lumber prices key to many projects By TOM LAVENTURE


IRONWOOD – The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be an ideal time for isolated homeowners to tackle the long-delayed projects but lumber yard owners say the commodities are getting more costly. Wood prices are probably up more than 50% and in scarce supply, said Gus Forslund, president and owner of Forslund Building Supply, a three-generation family business since 1950 with locations in Ironwood, Caspian and Norway. For someone building a home they might realize a 20% cost increase with the price of softwood, treated lumber, and oriented strand board (OSB), a type of engineered wood similar to particle board that is glued, heated and cut into sheets, he said. “There’s a shortage of it,” Forslund said. “So, that

drove prices as high as they’ve been, ever, and a lot of lumber yards are out of that stuff.” The COVID-19 pandemic is one reason that demand is high with so many people out of work and using government relief checks to accomplish projects at home, he said. But there are other factors including the closing of several mills following the 2008 economic crash that has slowed the response to the growing demand. “They thought it would be slower with this COVID19 and so whatever production was there they slowed that down,” Forslund said. “The demand actually was higher than normal because of COVID-19. People were sitting at home with nothing to do, so ‘let’s start fixing up our house.’” The harder to find products include framing lumber, decking, 2x4 and 2x6

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KEITH JOHNSON, left, manager of Forslund Building Supply in Ironwood, talks about lumber, treated lumber and plywood availability in the warehouse yard with Gus Forslund, president and third-generation owner of the local business.

boards, OSB and anything treated, said Keith Johnson, manager of Forslund Building Supply. “The 24-foot is completely out and the 16-foot treated decking we can’t get right now,” he said. “That’s where the shortages are and that’s where the prices have skyrocketed.” Replacement costs are changing as fast as they are checked, Johnson said. Wood is a commodity. “When somebody calls for a price right now we basically tell them the price is good until we hang up the phone, because it’s that bad right now,” Johnson said. Most other lumber sizes are in stock, he said. But with wood expensive and in short supply, the alternative are specialty composite products such as Trex decking in lieu of treated decking. “It’s not plastic decking but composite decking,” Johnson said. “It looks beautiful and lasts a lifetime. It looks very nice and there are a lot of colors and

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styles.” Trex decking works well in this environment, he said. There are some considerations with the material such as avoiding metal shovels using a chipper to remove ice in the winter. But composites, at least some brands, styles and colors, are in demand with waiting times through October, he said. Forslund said contractors and home builders are aware of the lumber shortage and price increases. It may come as a surprise to people just starting home improvements. Lumber prices have doubled but as a smaller component of home building it will increase the overall cost about 20%, he said. It will seem more costly for smaller projects but it’s all relative. “It will be a while before it levels off,” Forslund said. Planning ahead during shortages is as important for the small projects as it is for the homebuilders, he said. If someone is half-way through a project and forgot to order or replace a crucial item the current two-week wait time may be four-to-six weeks, he said. That isn’t just for wood.

It is also for hardware items, especially if they are imported, he said. “Hinges, nails, screws, sometimes you order them and it might be two or three weeks before we get it in,” Johnson said. “It depends on what is coming in. One week it will be this thing and next week it will be that thing and it all depends on when the containers are coming.” Metal prices are up from 8% to 10% depending on the quantity, he said. The lead time is also double the wait so for someone planning sheet metal work or metal roofing it might be a factor. For standard roofing projects there isn’t a shortage or price hike on shingles, Forslund said. But the fall is a popular time for roofing projects and so people should expect an increase in demand. Masonry products are also stable and haven’t gone up in price, he said. Since the pandemic started the store hasn’t been able to keep popular paint brands on the shelf. “It was just amazing how many people were painting the interiors of their homes when this

Pallet projects can be a handy hobby for all sorts of home needs

(METRO) – In recent years, the trend of upcycling, or transforming unneeded or unwanted materials into new items or products, has become more popular. Unlike recycling, which is taking consumer materials like plastic, paper, metal, and glass and breaking them down so base materials can be remade into new, lower-quality consumer products, upcycling produces items of a higher quality than the original materials. Wood pallet projects are an excellent example of upcycling. Such projects involve taking wood pallets, which tend to be used to stack, move and store stock, and turning them into amazing wood products. Often free for the tak-

ing, pallet wood has become a popular building material for do-it-yourselfers. This rustic wood already has an aged look and decorative appeal. Pallets are often made from leftover wood, and using them anew is an eco-friendly endeavor that can add flair to any project. The following are just a handful of pallet project ideas. –Christmas trees: Start thinking ahead to the holiday season. Cut pallet planks into sizes that incrementally get larger and attach to form a triangular Christmas tree shape. Decorate with paint or other accents, and don’t forget to place a star on top. –Pallet planter: Make a planter box as big or as small as you like to grow flowers, vegetables or herbs. A narrow planter

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thing started back in March,” Johnson said. Equipment rentals are also strong for people doing home and landscaping projects. Forslund has a genie boom, a scissor lift, a mini excavator and a skid-steer for a lot of do-ityourselfers who are doing projects, he said. “Construction and home building is as strong now as it’s ever been, and so the prices haven’t deterred anybody yet,” Forslund said. “Contractors are booked for the rest of the year.” But contractors are finding that scheduling can be a challenge when manufacturers can meet order deadlines because of raw product shortages, Johnson said. Loggers are laid off and wood is getting to the mills, who in turn have nothing to process to fill the orders. “It’s a trickle down effect,” Johnson said. The factories that produce other wood products and hardware are slow due to the pandemic, Johnson said. Every time a worker tests positive for COVID-19 the site is shut down while everyone goes into quarantine.

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also can be hung on a wall to add flair to spaces indoors or outside. –Swing chair: A pallet, a supportive back and some cushions can be used to make a swing that is fastened to the ceiling of a porch or even a tree. –Wine rack: Turn pallet wood into a wine rack that also has a space to store wine glasses below it. –Outdoor table: Top a disused table with pallet boards nailed or screwed to the top. Stain or clear coat them, and the result is a brand new table for gardening use or outdoor entertaining. –Platform bed: Pallets can be sanded, painted and placed to form the base of a platform bed. Utilize more pallets to serve as a headboard attached to the wall or bed frame. –Bench: Make a pallet bench that can be crafted child- or adult-sized. Use it inside the house or outdoors on a patio. –Garbage container: Instead of generic plastic garbage pails, make a pallet kitchen garbage container that has rustic appeal. –Backsplash: Give a kitchen some rustic appeal with a pallet backsplash. Cut boards into desired lengths and stagger on the wall. Leave the wood raw or seal it for protection against moisture. Pallet wood can be transformed into many different projects, helping doit-yourselfers stay busy at minimal cost. Go online to search for plans for building an array of pallet projects.






Signs your gutters are in need of repair


(METRO) – 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. –Gutter separation: Gutters that are no longer fastened together can leak

Protect home from winter’s freeze

Freezing temperatures may be good for ice skating or building snowmen, but sub-freezing temperatures can be dangerous for the average person and his or her home. Cold weather often leaves people scurrying to do whatever is necessary to safeguard themselves from the big chill. But it’s important homeowners also protect their homes in cold weather. Plumbing Plumbing and pipes may be vulnerable to cold weather. Frozen pipes may burst and cause substantial damage to a home, potentially causing flooding and structural damage. Homeowners should disconnect and drain garden hoses before winter arrives. Water to outdoor hose bibs should be turned off, though the valves on these outdoor faucets should be left open to drain. Also, outdoor faucets can be covered with insulating foam covers. The Red Cross says pipes that freeze most frequently include pipes in unheated areas, such as basements, attics, garages, and crawl spaces. Close vents to the outside in areas like attics and basements to limit the amount of cold air that gets indoors. Think about insulating unheated areas, as

Get your supplies To begin a paver project, homeowners will need to stock up on some supplies they may not already have at home. Marking paint, mason line, wooden stakes, leveling sand, paver base, and more will be required. A manual tamper can be used. However, for larger areas, it can be worth the cost to rent a plate compactor. Measure the area The number of bags of sand, paver base and paving stones needed for the project depends on the size of the area. For example, according to the Home Depot, for 60 square feet, homeowners will need about 30 12 x 12-inch paver stones, 40 bags of paver base and 12 bags of

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: 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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well as using pipe sleeves, heat tape or wraps on exposed pipes. By opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors, homeowners can allow warm air from a home to reach pipes under the sink. During extreme freezes, keep cold water dripping from a sink to prevent pipes from freezing. Service HVAC systems It’s important to ensure that heating systems are working properly prior to the cold-weather season. It may only take hours for the interior of a home to reach dangerously low temperatures without adequate heat. Homeowners should schedule annual checkups

of furnaces and hot water heaters. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter and make sure all thermostats are working properly.

Have fuel ready Homeowners who heat their homes with oil, wood or coal should make sure they have plenty of fuel on hand in advance of winter. Shortages can occur, and it may take some time for new fuel to arrive in the midst of a cold snap. As a precaution, homeowners can rely on portable space heaters to fill in the heating gaps during freezing temperatures. Exercise extreme caution with these devices, turning

Protect outside Drain birdbaths, clean out downspouts and remove water from other items where water can freeze and cause damage. Inspect roofing prior to the snowy season, but stay off roofs during freezing weather. Remove snow shovels and other winter gear from storage and make sure the items are easily accessible during snowstorms. Winter’s bite can be severe. Homeowners can protect themselves and their properties when the freeze sets in.

pavers together. Plastic lining will not be practical.

paver leveling sand. Spray or mark the area where the paving stones will be laid. Measure carefully so you can order exactly how many stones you will need. Have the materials delivered to reduce heavy lifting and trips to the store. Be sure to have all utility lines marked prior to excavation to avoid damage.

Prepare base carefully One of the most important aspects of paver installation involves preparing the base. If you cut corners in this process, the finished results can be sloppy, weeds can grow through and/or stones may loosen. It’s essential to grade the area away from the house. That means that the highest point of the patio or walkway should be closest to the house and then the incline gradually flattens out as it moves away from the home. This allows proper water runoff. Mark the height on the stakes and adjust the mason line. Remember to slope the area away from your home with a drop-off of about


one inch for every 8 feet. The base of many DIY applications should be between four and six inches deep. Work incrementally, raking and tamping until the base is firm. Lightly wetting the material can help it solidify. Sand helps inhibit weed growth and anchor the



them off when leaving the room and remembering to avoid overloading outlets.

Simplify paving stone installation

(METRO) – Paving stones can add beauty to walkways, driveways and backyard patios, providing that eye-catching finishing touch to a property while enhancing its curb appeal. Even though the installation of pavers can be a labor-intensive process, with the right tools and tips, this can be a do-ityourself project for homeowners with renovation experience. Consider these tricks and how-to tips courtesy of The Home Depot, DIY Network and Unilock.

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 gutters. If replacement is not necessary, separated gutters may be remedied by securing the joints, another 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

Installation Use edge restraints and a string line to keep the design straight. Do not hammer the pavers together. Paver sand will need to be swept over and settled between the stones to help set them in place. It helps to read tutorials and watch videos on paving stone installation prior to beginning the project. With practice, the installation will go more smoothly.

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5 tips for making your bathroom a relaxation station

(BRANDPOINT) – As Americans are spending more time at home in response to the pandemic, many are looking for ways to turn their living spaces into retreats of calm, comfort and well-being. For some people, that’s meant major renovations. For others, it’s meant making select improvements designed to add more tranquility and/or enjoyment to their lives in what has become a somewhat uncertain world. It’s not so surprising then that homeimprovement contractors listing their services on Houzz saw a 58% boost in homeowner requests in June 2020, relative to June

2019. “In terms of design, I think people are seeing their living spaces as their refuges - sanctuaries where they’re safe and comforted,” notes architect Ryan Leidner on Dwell.com. “As the outside world becomes less touchable, I can see a great desire for the materials, textures and objects within our homes to have more of a tactile quality that invites us to use them. And I can see people getting more creative and interested in ways to bring the outside in, possibly reimagining their living spaces as indoor gardens and landscapes.” A prime area of focus for

many homeowners has been their bathrooms, which are now being converted into spa-like havens of self-care, instead of just functional spaces. At the same time, many are adding features that aim for better cleanliness, sustainability and multi-generational living. If “your own private spa” sounds like the perfect place for your family to re-energize and rejuvenate from the cares of each day, here are ideas for creating such a space in your home. –Add an extra-deep soaking tub. Gone are the days when a bath meant scrunching your limbs into a cramped basin of water and trying to stay warm. Today’s roomy bathtubs are designed to let you stretch out and relax, fully immersed, in a soothing surround of hydrotherapeutic luxury. –Install a curbless shower and linear drain. The most progressive shower configurations are ergonomically constructed with sleek, curb-free, ADAcompliant entries, so family members need not step in and out, but merely walk in. –Invest in voice-activated smart features. With a

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few technology and equipment upgrades, Alexa, Siri or Google Home can now run your bath at your temperature of choice, power up your shower, light up your mirror, warm your toilet seat, diffuse your favorite fragrance, play all your top tunes and perform a number of other functions aimed at customizing your home spa experience and boosting its luxury level. –Incorporate a steam shower. Equipment added right into your shower stall can pipe in fresh steam customized by temperature and duration. “Bathing” in the vapor can feel wonderfully soothing and hydrating, and it’s said to produce health benefits ranging from better circulation and


sinus drainage to clearer skin and rejuvenation of tired muscles. –Treat yourself to a towel warmer. Those living in cold climates may especially appreciate the luxury of having a warm, cozy towel in which to snuggle up after a relaxing bath or shower. These handy pieces of hardware are relatively easy to install and can be well worth the investment in terms of comfort. When it comes to coping with the extra stress of COVID, your home can become a sanctuary that helps you relax and recharge. Consider making upgrades that will make time at home more peaceful and enjoyable for you and your family.

3 ways to boost home’s curb appeal

(BRANDPOINT) – Homeowners only get one chance to make a first impression. That’s one chance to impress potential buyers, family, friends and neighbors with the first thing they see: your home’s exterior. From simple upgrades to meticulous landscaping projects and replacing an outdated roof, there are dozens of options to enhance the appearance of your home’s exterior. Improvements don’t need to break the bank or take a year to complete. By focusing on three simple areas, you can change the entire look of your home that you’ll appreciate every time you pull into your driveway.

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Paint Whether you’re updating your color scheme or applying a fresh coat, painting is an easy way to update your home’s look from the street in a big way. Depending on your budget, this project can be big or small. To make the most significant impact, consid-

er painting the entire house. This will bring new life to paint that has lost its luster or possibly a new palette of color to incorporate into your yard. Although this project can call for a larger investment, the result will pay off in the end. If your budget is more limited, focus on the areas that catch the eye. Give shutters and trim a fresh coat of paint, or paint the front door a bright shade of red or blue. Landscaping The key to curb appeal is balancing what makes you happy with what works in your community. Take a moment to observe the types of trees, plants and flowers in your surroundings and look for ways to incorporate them into your yard. Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most costeffective ways to make an impact. Flowers along the sidewalk, in front of the house, inside flower boxes, pouring out of hanging baskets, or even in berms

and raised garden beds, provide a boost to your curb appeal. Exercise your creativity by combining plants of different height, texture and color in the same container. By sticking to perennial plants native to your environment, you will not have to worry about replanting every year. Roofing Redesigning the style and color of your roof is a dramatic and effective strategy for improving curb appeal. Updating the shingles on your roof is going to make a huge impact on the overall appearance of your home. Start by evaluating roofing choices for compatibility with your existing siding as well as the style of your home. If your home has a busy exterior with more than one contrasting color, try adding a classic, rustic color. If your home’s exterior is a more neutral shade, try adding a vibrant colored shingle to stand out in your neighborhood.

6 ways to prevent falls around house

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(METRO) – Despite all of the potential hazards around a house – from electrical issues to fire hazards to carbon monoxide – the National Home Security Alliance says that falls are the leading cause of death due to home accidents. Falls are responsible for one-third of all homerelated fatalities. Although seniors are the group most affected by falls, these types of accidents can affect anyone. A broken bone may be a minor inconvenience for

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young people, but fractures are more serious for the elderly. As a result, seniors must take measures to protect themselves against falls. These steps can minimize risk at home. 1. Remove tripping hazards. Examine rooms and hallways for potential hazards, such as slippery throw rugs, floorboards that stick up, loose carpeting, or furniture that blocks walking paths. Remedy these hazards as soon as possible. Address loose floorboards and/or place

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nonslip materials beneath rugs. 2. Install grab bars or railings. Install grab bars in certain locations for extra stability or where someone may need leverage getting up from a seated position. They are particularly helpful near toilets and bathtubs and in stairways and hallways. 3. Stick to sensible shoes. Sensible shoes fit properly and have sturdy, nonskid soles. Avoid walking around in slippers or even in stocking feet, which are much more slippery. 4. Store items within reach. Store items that are used frequently, such as dishes, in easily accessible cabinets and other locations. This prevents having to climb or reach for them. 5. Install more lighting. Poor visibility can contribute to falls. Lighting in hallways, stairways, bathrooms, and bedrooms – even if it is a small night light – can be enough to light the way. 6. Reinforce your home’s exterior. Falls do not only occur inside. Inspect the perimeter of a property for uneven turf, holes or cracked or uneven patches of walkways. Make sure lighting is working at entryways, and check that exterior handrails are secure.

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP – As fall arrives and locals harvest their fruit trees, now is also the time they can begin to take steps to prepare for the impending winter. There are several simple things people can do to help their trees make it through winter, according to Darrin Kimbler, Iron County’s agriculture educator with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. It’s important to rake up any dead leaves or fallen fruit from around the trees, according to Kimbler, and either compost them or dispose of them properly. “Those can harbor disease and insects, so you want to have good sanitation so that you don’t perpetuate disease and insect cycles,” Kimbler said. He also advised that anyone who mulches should avoid having the mulch right up against the trunk of the tree, instead leaving a foot of space around the tree “(The mulch) invites rodents to have a place to live and they’ll be right next to something they can snack on,” Kimbler said, adding this was something people should do yearround. He advised residents to also make sure their trees are well-watered as they begin to go dormant in preparation for winter. “Especially young trees or transplanted trees, make sure they are well watered starting relatively soon so they go into dormancy properly,” Kimbler said, advising people to water out to the tree’s dripline, or the outermost circumference of the tree branches. This is especially important in years with dry summers and trees that have been transplanted in the last three or four years. Although it’s important to make sure trees have plenty of water going into the winter, Kimbler said people should avoid fertilizing the trees as they become dormant as this can cause the trees to not harden off and lead to winter kill. As the temperatures drop and the leaves fall, residents can also take advantage of the changing seasons to complete any pruning once the trees have gone dormant. “You can prune the tree in the fall, or you can prune the tree in the ... in the early spring before they come out of dormancy,” Kimbler said. “You get a chance -when the trees are dormant -- to shape them, to maximize fruit production, maximize openings in the canopy to allow for good airflow,” he continued. Younger or thinskinned trees can also be wrapped in hardware cloth up to a couple feet above the expected snow line as a way to help protect them against rodent damage during the winter. Rodent damage can kill smaller trees or create wounds that introduce disease into larger trees, according to Kimbler, who said people could also purchase plastic spiral wraps instead of hardware cloth to help protect their trees. These wraps also protect against sunscald, which can damage trees in the late winter. More information on preparing trees for winter can be found through the University of WisconsinExtension Iron County office at 715-561-2695.






Regular septic system pumping important maintenance step By CHARITY SMITH


Proper maintenance of a septic tank is a necessary part of home ownership for many, but is often overlooked according to Cole Harju of Harju Septic. Septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years and it is best to have them repaired during the warmer months, but definitely before mid-October when the rain sea-

son comes, said Harju, who has been in the septic business since 1998. If you don’t do it before winter it can cause sewer line backups, frozen lines and “costly repairs,” said Harju. Needed repairs performed during the winter months can be much more difficult. “You don’t want to have the problems in the winter,” Harju said. Harju said that he receives at

least one call a week during the winter months for a repair that could have been prevented by simply having the tank pumped at appropriate intervals. He said many people forget about having it done, as it its “out of sight out of mind,” and go 10, 15 and even 30 years without having their septic tank pumped. Some people don’t have it done because they believe that if

it is working right you never have to pump it, which Harju said is a falsehood, adding still others are simply unaware that they are supposed to have it pumped. Avoiding the septic tank can end up causing costly problems with other parts of disposal system. If your solids take up a third of your tank capacity, then it becomes a problem, Harju said.

According to Harju the solids could actually go into your drain field and ruin that as well, which would cost “tens of thousands of dollars.” He also said some tanks have pumps in them and that if the pumps get clogged with solids it can be a costly repair, too. “If you can’t remember the last time you had it pumped, it’s probably time to get it pumped,” Harju said.

5 affordable DIY projects homeowners can finish now

(BRANDPOINT) – We are all spending more time at home now and are increasingly finding that DIY home improvement projects can be fun, rewarding and cost-effective. Especially today when it’s so important to have a comfortable, stylish home to enjoy more time with friends and family, DIY projects are a simple way to make our living spaces even better. Perhaps best of all, they empower you to personalize your home to reflect your tastes, preferences and individual needs. Thanks in part to trends in green building that encourage homeowners to invest in improving the efficiency of their homes, studies have estimated the global market for home improvement goods and services is expected to grow by 4.5% annually to exceed $1.1 trillion by 2025. And, the DIY market is expected to account for more than half of that figure. That’s all good news to homeowners with great ideas for home improvement that are looking for easy DIY projects or custom materials they can purchase affordably. Even better news: many projects can be completed for less than $500, potentially adding value to your home

and, in many cases, adding years of enjoyment. Are you finding yourself with the time and motivation to move forward on a DIY project that can add more personal flair to your home? This season, consider tackling one of the following home improvement ideas slated to take less than $500 from your budget. –A kitchen backsplash with flash: Adding an eyecatching new backsplash to your existing wall – or replacing the one you have with a fresh, updated design – can make your kitchen feel like an entirely new space. You’re only limited by your creativity since your choice of backsplash materials is now nearly endless, with a vast variety of ceramic, metal, wood, concrete, glass, composite or stone designs to choose from in a number of shapes, sizes and configurations. Research suggests reports that 16 square feet of DIY backsplash materials should run you about $400 to $600, and you could have a finished product in as little as two to three days if you study up on techniques ahead of time. –Beautiful and appealing yard space: Grooming and beautifying your yard can be an excellent way to boost your home’s overall

appearance, increase its value and express your personal taste. To get started, talk with a local nursery about the best options for your yard and climate. The fun part will be choosing and installing a mix of new trees, shrubs, container plants, flowers and/or other outside plants that can turn your outdoor space into eye candy. –Pleasingly personalized paint: There’s nothing like a new coat of smooth, clean paint to make a room feel transformed. Aiming to energize an entry space? Cover the walls with a bright, welcoming color that pops. Want to make a bedroom more restful?

Exchange that overly dramatic yellow with a soothing cream, taupe or seafoam. Best of all, paint is easy to change out again whenever your current color choices start to lose their luster. Expect to spend close to $200 for enough paint and supplies to paint a 10-by-12-foot room. –Your “personal best” bathroom: While a complete renovation may be beyond your skill level, most homeowners can capably complete less-difficult replacements involving showerheads, faucets, light fixtures and hardware. You might also paint or wallpaper walls, replace

Home fire safety should be top priority

(BRANDPOINT) – While the office, school and home now share one roof, keeping your house and family safe has never been more important. Thanks to enhanced safety technology, you can better protect against the threats of smoke, fire and carbon monoxide (CO), allowing you to go about your busy lifestyle without skipping a beat. When upgrading your protection, make sure to install alarms with the latest safety enhancements. Alarms should be installed on every level of the home, including in each bedroom and outside every sleeping area. 10-year battery: According to the National Fire Protection Association, 60% of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms and dead batteries cause 25% of smoke alarm failures, making it crucial to regularly check your alarms and replace the batteries. Helping to address this issue, one of the greatest

advancements in alarm technology in recent years has been the development of 10-year sealed battery alarms. Offering convenient protection, this enhanced technology eliminates the risk of having an alarm deactivate due to battery removal, making battery replacements and lowbattery chirps a thing of the past. Upgrading to 10year alarms will give you one less thing to worry about. Combination smoke and CO alarm: For ultimate home safety, select a combination smoke and CO alarm for protection from the threats of smoke, fire and CO. Known as the silent killer, CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, making it impossible to detect without an alarm. A variety of smoke and CO alarms, including hardwired, combination and 10-year battery-powered models, are available to meet specific needs and local requirements. With the convenience and sim-


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plicity of one device, the combination alarm helps to protect you from three potentially deadly threats. Voice and location: Alarms with voice and location technology use a loud, pre-recorded human voice that lets you know the type

and location of danger when fire or CO is detected. Studies show that children aged 6 to 10 are awakened more readily by voice rather than a beeping alarm, making this technology ideal for homes with young kids.

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Get ahead of chimney repair this season

(METRO) – Woodburning fireplaces or fuel stoves can add warmth and ambiance to a home. These appliances are particularly coveted in the cooler months when people spend more time indoors. Maintenance is necessary in order for fireplaces and stoves to function safely, and that upkeep must include paying close attention to the functionality of the chimney. Chimneys are designed to last for decades. Cracks and spalling in brick chimneys are common concerns that can cause significant damage if left unchecked. Chimney maintenance involves more than clean-

ing the flue. Rather than running the risk of costly repairs, which can cost several thousand dollars, homeowners can take some simple steps to keep their chimneys in tip-top shape. Certain components of chimney maintenance are do-it-yourself tasks, while others may be better left to the professionals. –Start from the inside and ensure that dampers are working properly. When using fireplaces and other appliances, dampers need to be open to allow smoke to vent outside; otherwise, smoke will be trapped in the home and could lead to carbon

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monoxide buildup. Dampers need to be fixed or replaced if they are not operational. Replacement fireplace dampers should be snug and not have any gaps, states Vertical Chimney Care. –Conduct a visual inspection of the chimney to check for any cracks or spalling. Spalling is the wearing away of masonry due to water, weather and time. If enough of the material erodes, that erosion can adversely affect the structural integrity of the chimney. Some repairs can be made by patching up cracks or replacing missing bricks. Chimney tuckpointing is the process of repairing mortar. –Think about waterproofing the chimney to prevent damage. A water sealant applied to the outside of the chimney can prevent moisture from breaking down the mason-


–Inspect and replace the chimney cap if it is worn out. A chimney cap is a contraption that sits atop the chimney to allow the smoke to vent while also preventing critters and water from going inside the flue, helping to extend the flue life. The chimney cap attaches to the flue liner, so outside dimensions should be taken to ensure the cap is the right size for the chimney. –Have the chimney swept. Sweeping helps remove the soot and debris that clings to the inside of the flue, known as creosote. The amount of time the fireplace is used will determine how often the chimney must be cleaned. Generally speaking, the chimney liner needs to be cleaned if it has 1 8-inch or more of soot. Regular inspection and maintenance can help keep

a chimney working safely for decades. For those who do not like working at such


an elevation, leave exterior chimney repair to a certified professional.

Tips for successfully staining wood

(METRO) – Staining wood can transform the look of everything from fencing to decking. While wood can be beautiful in its natural state, staining can protect the wood and complement landscaping and other home design elements. Staining can seem like a simple project, and that is often true. However, certain woods, such as pine, cherry, maple, and birch, can be difficult to stain. Boards with attractive grain patterns also can absorb stain differently, resulting in blotching and uneven tone. Before beginning a staining project, it is important for homeowners to test the stain chosen on a sample piece of wood to see how the color and absorption turn out. This gives homeowners the chance to understand what they’re dealing with and time to make any necessary accommodations to achieve a more even look. Begin by gathering the necessary supplies. A pair of latex or vinyl gloves will protect your hands. Drop cloths will catch any drips or spills. Safety goggles and a dust mask provide protection if sanding is required prior to staining. If sanding is necessary, homeowners will need an


orbital sander, hand sander and sandpaper. Start with the coarsest grit sandpaper and move to a higher grit for a smooth finish. Wood that is covered in paint may need to be stripped prior to sanding. Follow the directions carefully when using

chemical strippers. Natural bristle paint brushes are handy for oil-based stain applications. Synthetic paint brushes can apply water-based finishes. Many doit-yourselfers find that foam brushes or paint pads are the most handy because they provide a smooth finish and there’s no need to clean up the brushes afterward. Many professionals recommend using wood conditioners or pretreaters so that the stain will not leave blotches on the wood. This is especially important for homeowners who determined their wood is prone to uneven color absorption. Allow the conditioner to dry according to product directions. Stain should be applied so that it is evenly coated. Wipe off the excess to get the preferred color. Apply more stain as necessary to get the desired color. Many stains only offer color, so you’ll need to apply a finishing coat to protect the wood. Otherwise, look for a product that combines stain color and a finish to save time. Remember to remove knobs, hinges, and handles from a piece before staining, as the stain may affect the color of any metal hardware and damage it.

Options abound with home siding

(METRO) – 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.

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Vinyl 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.

Fiber-cement 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 nonflammable 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, fibercement siding is known for its durability, with some products coming with war-



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Wood 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 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. Stone Many homeowners fall in love with the natural


appeal of stone, but the price tag, which tends to be costly, may not be as aweinspiring. 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 competely new look, making choice of siding a significant decision worthy of careful consideration.

9 HOME IMPROVEMENT Local painter gives advice for jobs inside and out




BESSEMER – Cooler air is starting to creep in as fall follows summer, but a local painting expert said there’s no reason why you can’t still tackle even those exterior painting jobs. “You can paint outside when it’s 50 degrees – even mid-40s,” said Tony Gheller of Bessemer in an interview last week. He added, however, that you should be mindful of weather reports to avoid any serious issues. Gheller said indoor work should be done at room temperature. For do-it-yourselfers, the seasoned pro said preparation of surfaces is “the most important” part of any painting job. “I like to pressure wash the home, scrape it,” he said. “You can’t take short cuts on that work cause you’re going to pay for it two years later.” He also advises two coats of paint. Regarding inside jobs, he said to address any underlying problems first. “If you have a leak, fix it,”

he said, adding that you also should scrape, repair and sand as needed. One fact is certain, in his opinion: “You have to prime it.” Regarding the type of paint to use, Gheller said, “Everybody has their own opinion of favorite brands.” His advice is to buy quality products, and the same goes for brushes, rollers and sprayers. “Don’t buy cheap stuff,” he said. “Buy the good stuff. Otherwise, it’s not going to last long.” One mistake that Gheller said homeowners sometimes make is taking on more than they can handle. “I’ve seen it happen where people try, and then they call, and then I’ve got to go over their work,” he said, chuckling. In addition to painting residential homes, Gheller also does commercial work such as barns and other high buildings. In referring to a 50-foot Genie lift, he said, “Since I bought my lift, I can do a lot of things by myself. I


don’t need scaffolding or ladders.” Instead, he just drives the lift around the structure as he progresses with each section. Gheller said he moved here from Italy with his family in 1970 when he was still young. “We came here to work for my Uncle Louie – he owned the ski resort (Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Bessemer).” As a result, Gheller and his brother, Carlo, painted chair lifts on the ski hills every summer. Then, in the late ‘70s, Gheller had a summer job as a painter while he was attending Northern Michigan University. “I just fell in love with painting,” he said, adding that he knows he in unusual. “Most people hate it,” he conceded, but notes what a great feeling it is to see an old building “brand new” again. As a result of his passion for paint, Gheller said, “About 14 years ago, I went on my own.” Now, he runs Tony’s


P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

BESSEMER PAINTER Tony Gheller poses next to his work truck Sunday before heading out to play golf after a busy week of home improvement projects. Painting Service, which keeps him busy most days, along with his nephew, Gage Delich of Wakefield. Gheller said he likes to stay in the local area, but also has done jobs in nearby towns such as Ashland,

Manitowish Waters and Minocqua. His final advice is that “a good coat of paint will enhance your value.” He warned that letting your house go can cause other deterioration to the

structure. Moreover, he said it doesn’t cost that much to make a genuine difference. “For a couple thousand dollars, sometimes less, you can bring a building back to life,” he concluded.

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Sophisticated soak: 3 stylish ways to add a freestanding bathroom tub

(BRANDPOINT) – Whether it’s a new build, remodel or update, freestanding tubs are a top trend in bathroom spaces. These showstopping centerpieces elevate the visual aesthetic of the room while adding to the overall value of the property. While in high demand, many homeowners have questions about the complexities of adding one to their home. The good news is that new options are making it easier than ever to have a freestanding tub installed in bathrooms of various shapes and sizes. Consider the Unwind collection of freestanding baths from Sterling, for example. Designed with easy installation in mind, the collection features versatile bathtubs in freestanding or back-to-wall freestanding styles that fit any bathroom space and design aesthetic.

Traditional positioning When most people think of freestanding bathtubs, they envision a bathroom with a luxurious tub as the focal point centered in the space. A freestanding placement leaves room around the entire tub and is a beautiful option for bathrooms with ample space. This stand-alone statement piece provides spa-like appeal in the bathroom. Wall-facing placement A freestanding tub can be positioned along a wall as well, which is a good option for bathrooms with unique designs or moderate space restrictions. This

could include an ovalshaped tub or a rectangle style that flanks more closely to the wall, helping to open up space while still providing the luxe experience of a deep soaking tub.

Corner positioning Some homeowners prefer a corner placement for a freestanding bath because of the visual appeal and space-saving qualities. The Unwind Bath Collection has options for all three bathroom placements and consists of a sculptural oval bath, a crisp-edged rectangle bath, and a back-to-wall bath that is ideal for smaller spaces and offers a faucet deck and an open back, which allows for easy faucet installation. All three styles come in a 59by-30-inch model. The oval bath and back-to-wall bath also come in 67-by-32-inch models. The rectangle bath is also available in a slightly smaller 67-by-30-inch size. Easier installations All of the Unwind baths offer a single-piece, seamless design with a built-in integral overflow. The concealed legs can be adjusted for the ideal height for the homeowner and space. An above-floor rough-in and white toe-tap drain are included on all models. Freestanding baths are on trend and in demand by homeowners of all ages. Providing a stylish focal point for the bathroom, they offer a luxurious way to reduce stress and soothe muscles.


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HOME IMPROVEMENT How to prepare your lawn and garden for winter




(METRO) – Winter weather can be harsh. Homeowners who spend much of the year tending to their lawns and gardens may worry that winter will undo all of their hard work. Though homeowners cannot do anything to prevent snow, wind and ice from affecting their properties, they can take various steps to prepare their lawns and gardens for whatever winter has in store. –Mulch leaves. Falling leaves are a telltale sign that winter is coming. In lieu of raking leaves as they begin to fall, homeowners can mulch them into their lawns. Scotts®, an industry leader in lawn care, notes that mulching leaves is a great way for homeowners to recycle a natural resource and enrich the soil of their lawns. While it

might not be possible to mulch fallen leaves in late autumn when they begin to fall en masse, doing so in the early stages of fall should be possible so long as the lawn is not being suffocated. Scotts® recommends mulching the leaves to dime-size pieces to a point where half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. –Rake leaves as they start to fall more heavily. Once leaves begin to fall more heavily, rake them up and add them to compost piles. The resource GardeningKnowHow.com notes composting leaves creates a dark, rich and organic matter that can add nutrients to garden soil and loosen compacted earth. Leaving leaves on the lawn once they start to fall in great numbers makes it hard for

grass blades to breathe, and the leaves can block moisture from reaching the soil, which needs water to maintain strong roots. In addition, potentially harmful pathogens can breed on damp leaves left on a lawn, and such bacteria can cause significant damage to the turf over time. –Apply a winterizing fertilizer. Winterizing fertilizers can help lawns store food they need to survive through winter and also can help them bounce back strong in spring. Such fertilizers are typically formulated for cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass and are often best applied after the final cut of fall. Warm-season grasses go dormant in winter, so homeowners whose lawns contain these types of grasses won’t want to apply

a winterizing fertilizer. Homeowners who don’t know which type of grass they have or are concerned about when to apply a winterizing fertilizer should consult with a lawncare professional before fertilizing. –Remove annuals from


the garden. Annuals won’t be coming back in spring, so it’s best to remove ones that are no longer producing from the garden before the arrival of winter. Doing so can prevent the onset of fungal diseases that may adversely affect the garden


in spring. Fall is the perfect time for homeowners who spend months making their lawns and gardens as lush as possible to take steps to prepare such areas for potentially harsh winter weather.

Solar panels add value to home

(BRANDPOINT) – As people have been spending more time at home and watching their utility bills increase, solar energy is becoming a topic of interest. In fact, even with more constrained purchasing practices in many households in the current environment, a recent Harris Poll research study revealed a 13% increase in consumer interest in solar energy since mid-March. That’s not surprising, given that the installation of solar panels can save homeowners hundreds of dollars in monthly utility bills, boost the value of their homes and provide peace of mind about helping the environment. Thankfully, making solar energy part of your daily life has never been easier. If you are among the millions of American homeowners considering making the logical step to solar energy, here are some facts from renewable energy experts. Your solar energy system gathers the most energy from full sun, but it can still work at 10% to 25% capacity on overcast days. What about snowy days? Your system will still gather some energy even if it’s partially covered, and high-quality solar panels are designed both to withstand significant amounts of accumulated snow and to help melt it away. There are new tools to walk you through the technology and financing you would need to get started with a solar installation or conversion. One such personal solar advisor is called “Solar Concierge.” This program from LG Solar takes a consultative approach, without high-pressure sales tactics, helping you determine whether solar meets your objectives and sets you up with an installer if you’re interested. By offsetting what you pay for electrici-

ty, solar panels can pay for themselves. The payoff date depends on the size and cost of your system, the amount of energy you use and the rebates and incentives you employ. Generally, for the first eight years or so, your annual investment in solar power will likely equal the amount you would otherwise pay to power your home in other ways. After that time, your solar power will essentially be free and should continue to work efficiently for many more years. Because solar panels can vary so much, you’ll want to conduct research before finalizing your purchase. Check reputable buyer’s guides and seek a company that has a long history of high-quality design innovation, testing and manufacturing, looking for evidence of both cutting-edge solar technologies and global sustainability. Find a brand you can trust with a 25year warranty. When choosing products, note that some of today’s high-efficiency panels generate nearly 20% more energy than conventional panels of the same size. With higher-efficiency panels, you may even have surplus green energy to sell back to your local utility provider. These days, a number of options are available for securely connecting your panels regardless of the limited space your roof might have or what it’s made of. A solar installer can assess your roof’s maximum weight load and your city’s building code before designing a solar system that works for your home. Homeowners can choose from a range of designs, including sleek and premium panels that deliver a modern aesthetic. To find more information about the solar system that’s ideal for your home, please visit lg.com.

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