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2 l SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2016



Starting seeds inside extends growing season By RICHARD JENKINS

As the snow blanketing the Gogebic Range emphasizes, the arrival of warm weather to the Northwoods can be an uncertain proposition, making planting a garden sometimes difficult. One way to extend the growing season in colder climates is to start seeds inside and then transplant them once warm weather arrives. “Essentially what you are doing is you’re trying to get a jump on a long-season crop in a short-season environment,” said Darrin Kimbler, the horticulture assistant with the Iron County University of Wisconsin Extension office. Kimbler said while containers for starting seeds can be purchased, most containers are suitable for the purpose. By a seed’s germination inside, Kimbler said it is possible to add a month or two to the growing season. Germination is “when you start to see the new plant poking

out from the soil, emerging from the soil,” Kimbler explained. Seeds require moisture and a critical temperature to germinate, Kimbler explained, both of which are easier to provide — and control — inside. “Some crops, like peas, they only need a 45 degree soil temperature to germinate,” he said. “Whereas, something like a chili pepper needs 80 degree soil temperature to germinate. But they all need moisture.” If the seeds are stored in a cooler area, Kimbler said the temperature can be further raised by putting an electrical blanket over the seeds, although he cautioned it is important to ensure the blankets don’t come in contact with the water given to the plants. Area stores also sell germination mats, which heat the seeds from the bottom. Kimbler warned people tend to plant their seeds too deep indoors, explaining it causes them to expend unnecessary energy.

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

THESE EGGPLANT seedlings were started in containers inside Darrin Kimbler’s house to ensure the eggplants would be ripe by the time fall’s arrival ended the area’s growing season. “(People) are used to planting outdoors where you need that extra depth to get the soil moisture. You really only need to plant the seed the depth of the size of the seed,” Kimbler said. “So if you’ve got a millimetersized seed, you only want to bury it a millimeter under the soil.” Kimbler advises the soil

should be damp, but not wet enough that water can be wrung from it, adding to ensure the containers have drainage holes is also important. While sunlight isn’t always necessary, some smaller seeds, such as basil seeds, respond to sunlight — another reason to avoid planting the seeds too deep. “You’ve got to remember, the vast majority of seeds in the wild are never buried,” Kimbler said. “They fall on the ground, they germinate.” Access to sunlight also helps produce stronger plants, as toowarm temperatures without corresponding amounts of sunlight cause spindly plants, according to Kimbler. Much of the information regarding things such as the amount of moisture, sunlight and planting depth a seed needs can be found on the seed packets. When to begin to start a seed also depends on the plant, Kimbler said. “Like peppers, eggplant and celery, you want to start eight to 10 weeks before the last frost. Tomatoes are about six weeks before the last frost,” he said. “The brassicas — which are the kale and the cabbages — are four to eight weeks before the last frost, but you put them in the ground before the last frost because they are cold tolerant.”

Hardening off

Once a seed germinates and becomes a seedling, Kimbler said it is crucial to harden it off before transplanting into a garden completely. “(Hardening off) is increasing their time outdoors on warmer days and exposing them to cooler

conditions, drier conditions and breezier conditions, because all of those things are going to contribute to transplant shock if you just put them in the ground right away,” Kimbler said. “Each day you just take them out, you increase their time exposure out there a little more each time.” The amount to harden-off a seedling depends on how hardy the plant is and how well it can resist transplant shock. Those plants native to warmer environments more likely to experience transplant shock. Kimbler said he usually starts hardening off a couple weeks ahead of time, warning gardeners don’t want to transplant too early, in case there is an unexpected snowfall or heavy frost. Greenhouses and cold frames can also be used to harden off plants and get them in the ground sooner.


Once a plant has become accustomed to the colder, outdoor temperatures and the risk of a frost has decreased, Kimbler said it can be transplanted to a garden. He recommends breaking up the root ball a bit when taking a plant out of a plastic container. Even if a biodegradable pot is used, Kimbler said to make slits in side to help the pot break down. Watering well also helps ensure a plant is successfully transplanted. Some plants can be planted before the final frost of the season, Kimbler said, citing root vegetables and peas as vegetables that can be exposed to some frost. The U.S. Department of Agri-

culture and various state agriculture department websites have maps showing when the average last frost for a region is, although Kimbler warned the nature of averages means frosts are possible after the last frost date. “If you’ve got a very cold-sensitive plant, you want to err on the side of caution,” he said, referring when to completely move a plant outside. The average last frost for the area is May 31, with the first frost arriving on Sept. 17, Kimbler said, giving the area an approximate 109-day growing season. He also said this was a general number and could vary significantly if a person lived in a frost pocket or micro-climate. Common things to start indoors are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, some herbs, and cold crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale, Kimbler said. Squash and melons can also be started inside but shouldn’t be left too long, according to Kimbler, who recommended transplanting just as they are forming their first leaves. Not everything has to be started as seeds inside, he said. Some things, like radishes, have a short enough growing season they don’t need to be started. Beans also don’t need to start, according to Kimbler. He recommended planters also check their seed packets to determine whether the growing times listed on the packet are the date from maturity or from seed, as one can potentially be considerably longer than the other. For more information, contact Kimbler and the Extension office at 715-561-2695, or

Survey project before breaking do-it-yourself barrier comes time to choose a tool. A veteran DIYer might not need some tools someone performing a project for the first time might. And to fit these needs, purchasing specialized tools like the Ironton Rotary Hammer Drill allows you to do a specific task — like drilling through concrete — while avoiding the cost of hiring a contractor.

(BPT) — Whether inspired by countless cable shows or the desire to have the perfect kitchen, more Americans are doing their own home improvement projects. Laying hardwood floors, installing plumbing and replacing windows has become another DIY task like changing your oil. Consider these following tips in determining how to tackle your next job.

Consider return on investment

Assess the job

Look in depth at the tool you need to buy and at the different brands on the market that fit for your budget. Private label brands often offer value. And instead of bouncing from one hardware store to the next, utilize product comparison tools online to compare and contrast product life, value, capabilities and quality to determine the best ROI. While DIY projects often save money, they also provide an enhanced pride in ownership associated with seeing your handiwork. With the right tools, you can tackle any home improvement project. Ultimately it’s the person who makes the tool, not vice versa. So grab your tool belt, slide on your work gloves and get it done.

Define what you want to accomplish. Determine your timetable, budget and the project scale and scope. Match your tools from there.

Research the project and tools

Many people turn to professionals for jobs they could do themselves because they don’t know what tools they need. To avoid the high cost of hiring a professional, research tool reviews, equipment magazines and even retailer websites like Northern Tool + Equipment to help guide you with your tool selection. One’s skill level also plays a factor when it

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Metal or asphalt? Key decision for choosing new roof

n Cost, durability, color, style all important components By TOM STANKARD

HURLEY — As snow melts and spring-like weather arrives, now is the time for homeowners to consider installing a new roof. If a homeowner does decide to replace the roof, Bob Zell, owner of Bob Zell Siding and Construction in Hurley, said to have it inspected and to get estimates of the cost to replace the roof. Knowing the life expectancy of the roof is a good indication of whether or not it’s time to replace the roof, he said. There are several certified inspectors and licensed contractors in the area who can do this. Homeowners have a variety of roofing materials to choose from, including asphalt shingles and metal roofing. He said metal roofing or asphalt shingles are ideal for pitched-roof homes. If a homeowner has a flat roof, he said the ideal roofing materials to use are a built-up tar roof or a membrane roof. Built-up tar roofs consist of several layers of bitumen surfaces, finished up with an aggregate layer or coating. Membrane roofs are common-

ly made from synthetic rubber, thermoplastic (PVC or similar material), which prevents leaks and moves water off the roof. On a pitched roof, Zell said metal roofing and asphalt shingles have their pros and cons. On metal roofs, snow tends to slide right off. Additionally, metal roofing typically lasts longer than asphalt shingle roofs normally do. But metal roofing can cost three times more than asphalt shingles and can be noisy. Asphalt shingles are generally flat and rectangular and are applied from the base or bottom of the roof upwards. As they are applied, Zell said the previous sheet or section of shingles is overlapped. For metal roofing, he said there are precautionary measures homeowners can install to prevent accidents caused by falling snow. He said people can install ice guards or snow rails, which are designed to catch and prevent snow from falling. If a homeowner has a problem with ice collecting on the roof, Zell said he or she should consider adding insulation to prevent heat loss or should consider adding a vented roof system, which vents air from the bottom edge out to the peak at the top of the roof. Zell said proper ventilation within roofs is important. He

Color matching

Roberson recommends paying attention to two key design elements in your home’s exterior: colors and shapes. Start with the colors of your home. Since garage doors are now available in hundreds of colors, you are likely to find a great door color that matches your home. “Color can feel overwhelming, particularly when you think about making a good curb appeal impression,” says Roberson. “An easy trick is to turn to the accent colors already on your home’s façade. Pick one and use it in your garage doors for overall balance and beauty.” Your home’s accent colors are often found on your shutters, your front door, or the trim on your home or window. If your home includes a multi-colored brick, look for a dominant or attractive color inside the brick. The color of the roof can also be a strong design element for the front view of the home. It’s often a neutral color that presents a good choice for classic garage door colors. Note that you might be searching for two colors, not just one. Many new carriage house garage doors come in two tones

that provide additional colormatching opportunities. “Most homes use three colors a dominant color and two subcolors that are used to a lesser degree,” says Roberson. “For your garage doors, try flopping that color scheme so that one of the sub-colors becomes the door’s dominant hue.”

Shape matching

After considering the right color, look at the shapes on your home, particularly those of your windows and the smaller windowpanes inside the windows. Garage doors typically contain two dominant shapes: one on the panels themselves and one in the windows. The challenge is to match the shapes on the home with the shapes on the door. “In the same way that accent colors provide color guidance, accent shapes - small windows, peaks on roofs - can give you inspiration for shapes to repeat in your garage door,” says Roberson. Consider any arch shapes on your home, such as arched windows or arched entryways. Several garage door window designs include arched options that can closely match the arch shapes on your home. Some home exteriors contain dominant angles such as 45degree angles from dormers or

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Tom Stankard/Daily Globe

BOB ZELL, of Bob Zell Siding and Construction in Hurley, inspects a sheet of metal roofing Monday morning. said it allows proper air flow in the attic, reducing moisture and heat build-up, while increasing the lifespan of the shingles and energy efficiency of the home. Zell said homeowners should not replace their roof during

the winter. During the winter, he said flashing, sealants, and water-ice barriers don’t stick as well when being applied, which can cause the end result to not be as good as it could be if was replaced during warmer months.

Tips for selecting best garage door (BPT) — Today’s garage doors come in so many different and attractive designs that the biggest challenge for homeowners is to find the right door that looks best with their home’s unique features. While it’s great to have options, sometimes too many options can be overwhelming. And a garage door purchase is an important one. In fact, an upscale garage door replacement ranked first out of 11 popular upscale projects in delivering the best value for the buck, according to the new 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. One reason for a garage door’s top value is its curb appeal. Since most garage doors face the front of the home, they have enormous impact on the home’s exterior appeal and its perceived value. This greatly increases the importance of choosing the right garage door design for your home. Here are a few tips from Kelly Roberson, a writer and project manager who has written about home design for a variety of publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Before & After, Kitchen Makeovers and many more. “The key to finding the right door design is found on the façade of your home,” she says. “Pick up on your home’s design elements and use them in your garage doors to create a really impactful sense of design cohesiveness.”


rakes. Since many garage door designs now include crossbucks, you might find success with a garage door that features crossbucks at the same angle. When browsing for door designs, try It’s a non-commercial site that contains photos of dozens of garage door designs from many manufacturers, along with a Dealer Locator to help you find a

professional door dealer near you. “The key to choosing beautiful garage doors is to let your home be your guide. Build on the features you love the best, and choose a new garage door that integrates seamlessly,” says Roberson. “When you find the right match, you’ll smile with satisfaction every time you come home.”

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Make sure plumbing operates smoothly

(StatePoint) — Proper seasonal maintenance can keep your plumbing running smoothly. Experts say that even those with no experience can inspect for issues and perform simple tasks to prevent costly repairs. “You don’t have to be a crackerjack plumber to handle basics and protect your home,” says Jeff Devlin, host on HGTV and DIY Networks. Devlin offers homeowners some key plumbing tips:

Kitchens and bathrooms

Ensure drains have strainers to prevent debris from clogging drain lines. Check faucets for drips and leaks. Inspect the toilet tank and bowl for visible cracks. Check for hidden leaks by adding six drops of food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes.

Ensure toilets flush properly. If the handle must be held down to flush, or jiggled to stop water from running, you may need to replace parts. Clean mineral deposits from the shower head. Unscrew it and soak in vinegar overnight. Then gently scrub with an old toothbrush.

Water heater

Carefully drain several gallons from the tank to flush out corrosion-causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater. Consider replacing those older than 15 years with a new, energy-efficient model.


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Pour water into infrequently used drains to fill traps and prevent odors. Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they’ll carry water away during flooding. Take a reading on your water meter before bedtime. The next morning, without using any water overnight, take another reading. If it’s changed, you have a leak that should be repaired.


Free yard drains, gutters and

downspouts of debris. Check for bird nests in plumbing vent pipes. Check faucets and hose bibs to ensure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips, or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.

Be equipped

Look for commercial-quality products designed with average consumers in mind. For example, Roto-Rooter, the number one brand in plumbing, with 80 years of experience, now offers a complete line of consumer products that contain 25 percent more active ingredients and clear clogs 50 percent faster than the competition. “It’s stronger and faster which means you can get the job done right the first time,” says Devlin.

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(StatePoint) — Whether you share your home with dogs, cats, birds, turtles or anything in between, you are probably aware of the challenges of protecting and cleaning your floors. To make this chore as easy for you as it is for your non-pet parent peers, consider the following tips:

Pets in boots

Outfitting pets with boots before going outside will protect their paws from pollutants, hot and cold surfaces, and potentially sharp items on the ground. It will also keep their feet and your floors cleaner. There are many brands and styles available, so shop around for a design that your pets will enjoy wearing.

Post-walk clean-up

After walks or other trips outdoors, check your pet’s fur and feet. Keep a cloth by the door for a quick clean-up before animals settle in and get cozy on carpets. This will make maintaining floors easier as you go.

Prevent accidents

Prevent pooch accidents by getting your dog on a regular walk schedule. The knowledge that the next trip outdoors is on the horizon will make pets less likely to use the living room carpet as a toilet. If need be, you may want to consider employing a day-time dog walker to make trips outdoors a more regular occurrence. If you have litter box issues, keep the box clean to encourage

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Tips to help keep pet owners’ floors in tip-top shape


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dedicated use. Regular visits to the veterinarian can help ensure there are no health issues at play.

Choose flooring wisely

Until now, even the best prevention of stains and accidents has offered no guarantees. And shedding of fur, feathers and dander is hard to avoid. However, innovations in flooring are making it easier on those who love their pets but are not interested in forfeiting a clean, stainfree and odor-free home. Give yourself an advantage with a pet proof carpet, such as Mohawk’s SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet, which is designed to resist the challenges pets present. Compared to nylon carpet which absorbs up to five percent

of its weight in liquid, this alternative has zero percent moisture absorption to resist stains and eliminate any residue that can be left in the fiber which can lead to a musty, dingy odor. (These features will also benefit those with kids.) It also offers a permanent spill and soil shield that makes cleanup of hair, soil and dander three times easier than with conventional carpeting.

Protect floors financially

Consider a pet-specific warranty for carpeting to better protect your investment. Pet owners need not forgo a clean and great-smelling home. There are many smart ways to limit stains, prevent accidents and make clean-up easier when incidents occur.

Maintenance tips, tricks every renter should know (StatePoint) — One of the biggest benefits of renting versus buying a place of your own is that you usually don’t have to worry about stressful maintenance tasks, like replacing a roof or hot water heater. While most rental agreements include a landlord who takes care of major maintenance worries, there are a few things you can do to keep service calls to a minimum, and protect your security deposit in the long run.

Avoid a Deep Freeze

If you have a manual freezer, defrost it at least once a year or when more than a quarter inch of frost has formed. When defrosting, remember to warm it up slowly. Empty the contents of the freezer, place towels underneath, and let the ice melt at room temperature. Use a blow dryer if you’re pressed for time. Once melted, wipe your freezer clean, bring it back to the appropriate temperature and restock.

Rout Grout Problems

Gaps and chips in your shower grout are worth calling your landlord about, because they could lead to significant water damage. Luckily, a regular cleaning routine can ensure you do your part to ward off unhealthy mold and mildew and help ensure there are no cracks that could lead to problems in walls and floors. A good scrub made up of baking soda, vinegar and a little warm water should do the trick.

Dodge a Dust Up

tioning units are easily accessible, vacuum the vents before using them for the first time each year, or ask your landlord to do so. Regular cleaning and filter changes ensure proper air flow. Check that furniture and curtains don’t cover vents to avoid potential maintenance issues and fire hazards.

Keep Clogs at Bay

It’s common knowledge to not pour oil and grease down the sink, but avoiding other solids like coffee grounds will also keep your pipes flowing. If you have a sink with a garbage disposal, avoid dumping chemicals in the drain to clean it. In the bathroom, remove hair from drains right away rather than washing them down.

Insure Your Peace of Mind

Starting around $10 a month, renters insurance, a must for any savvy renter, will not only cover your belongings (since your landlord’s policy usually doesn’t), but will also cover temporary living expenses and personal liability if you have to relocate during major repairs. Some insurers offer a generous multi-policy discount for those who want to purchase both renter’s insurance and an auto policy. In some cases, the discount actually pays for the renter’s policy. While tenants should definitely reap the benefits of being a renter, performing small tasks around your home or apartment can mean more comfortable dayto-day living, and fewer visits from the landlord.

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Material witness: Not all decks created equal By JUSTIN LIBERTOSKI

BESSEMER — With spring weather coming to the Upper Peninsula, many people are planning their summer vacations, cookouts and family reunions. One thing that may benefit those people as the weather gets warmer and the desire to be outdoors grows is thinking about their deck. A deck is a versatile addition to any home, as it can be used to entertain guests at a cookout or just to relax on at the end of the day. There are many things to consider when thinking about a deck. If you are planning to build a new deck, the first thing to consider is what type of material is needed. Choosing the right material can depend on the climate, as well as how much maintenance the person is willing to do. The basic material used to build decks would be wood. There are many types of different wood available to use in building a deck. The most common wood used in deck building is cedar, however some opt for the much more hard to find redwood. According to Bill Steiger of Steiger’s Ace Hardware, cedar is a great choice for decks because

it is rot resistant and it doesn’t readily absorb moisture, which can cause twisting and splitting so cedar will typically lie flat and straight. A possible downside to the use of cedar is that because it is a soft material, it is subject to wear and tear, especially if it is used for stairs on decks, and if there is a lot of furniture being moved across it. The maintenance required for cedar decks involves cleaning it as well as sealing it and resealing it every year or two, said Steiger. Another option for deck materials is pressure-treated wood. Treated wood can be can be ideal because it is less expensive than cedar and can resist abuse. A downside to this material is that, “Inexpensive treated wood is often full of moisture and will shrink unevenly and twist when it dries,” Steiger said. It is important to look for higher grade treated wood that will have fewer knots which will have less tendency to warp. To build a deck that requires the least amount of maintenance, composite decking material is the way to go. Most composite decking is made from recycled plastic and wood particle. It is more

expensive than treated and cedar wood but it is not going to rot, splinter or twist. The only maintenance required for composite decking is spraying it down with a hose. “If you want to relax on your deck instead of work on it, composite is the way to go,” said Steiger. With cedar decking, a stain can be applied right away, however with treated wood, Rob Coleman, also of Steiger’s, recommends waiting a year before applying a stain to let the preservatives leech out of the wood to hold the stain better. When it comes to maintaining or repairing a deck, several things need to be done. The first step will be to clean the deck off before applying the stain. Over time the deck will accumulate dirt and mold and a special cleaner should be applied before power-washing the deck. If the wood is in really bad shape, sanding can be an option, but it isn’t always necessary. According to Coleman, determining what type of stain to apply will depend on how the deck looks. If the color is in good shape, a semi-solid or semitransparent deck stain can be used. If the wood is in bad shape, however, there is the option of a

Research deck design options (BPT) — A backyard should be enjoyed to its fullest extent. But all too often, homes lack enticing outdoor living areas. One way to give your outdoor space a retreat is to add a new deck. A welldesigned deck can extend your living space, make your yard more functional and, best of all, provide a comfortable space for family and friends to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re ready to build a new deck and turn your backyard into your favorite “room” in the house, here are five must-ask questions to help you design the perfect addition.

What do you want it to do?

A deck can boost the value of your yard, but only if it fits the way you live. So, before tackling a deck project, set aside time to think about how you plan to use your new space. Whether you’re designing a multi-level deck for entertaining or a small, peaceful getaway, a little forethought can go a long way to ensuring your deck suits your family’s lifestyle. For example, if outdoor entertaining is what your deck is all about, an expansive deck with multiple level changes, handrails and furniture can streamline traffic flow and define areas for eating, socializing and relaxing. If a peaceful deck-escape is more your style, a free-standing deck tucked into some foliage in your backyard with a screening trellis and a water feature can create a perfectly restful retreat.

How will you access it?

As you evaluate your deck’s function, keep transitions in mind. The easier your deck is to access, the more you’ll get out of

it. Decks positioned near frequently used openings, such as the kitchen door, make it simple to travel from one area to the other and are perfect for entertaining. Additional pathway features, like decorative stones and ground lighting, can help guests transition smoothly between your deck and yard. If you have a raised or multilevel deck, be sure to think about stairs and railings. While these features make it safe to move between your house and backyard, they can also add visual distinction to your deck. Curved stairs, decked out walkways, backlit risers and decorative glass panels can all showcase your creativity while guiding visitors through outdoor living spaces.

Is your deck near water?

If you envision lounging waterside, now is the time to think about moisture-resistant decking. Decks near pools, hot tubs and lakes need to withstand frequent exposure to waves, splashing and, in some instances, full water submersion to stay beautiful for years to come. While there are many decking materials from which to select, advanced pcomposite decking is a great choice for decks with water contact as they protect against moisture intrusion all the way to each board’s core. “The boards are so durable they can be installed on the ground, in the ground or underwater without voiding their 25-year warranty. They keep moisture at bay so homeowners don’t have to worry about their deck’s long-term beauty,” said Randy Gottleib, president of ChoiceDek compos-

ite decking.

How do you want it to look?

To make sure your new addition is as big on looks as it is on function, spend time dreaming about how you want your deck to look. Whether you favor sleek, clean lines or more adventurous deck patterns, the secret to a beautiful backyard deck is to make sure it ties-in with your home’s architecture. You can select from a wide array of decking color combinations that complement indoor flooring options, including popular greys and rich dark browns. Or, use contrasting colors to balance your home’s exterior color scheme. If you love the look of wood but don’t want to deal with all the upkeep, look for modern composites that mimic the appearance of traditional wood decking. Their realistic wood grains blend beautifully into the landscape, and complement many of today’s exterior siding options.

Using a curved design?

If you’re still looking for a way to set your yard apart, consider incorporating curves into your deck design. Curves can add architectural interest by following the contours of your landscape, encircling hot tubs and pools, or contrasting the straight lines of your house. Get creative, but don’t let materials limit your design. By following manufacturer instructions, you can shape contemporary materials like composite decking into stunning curves that will have neighbors commenting on your deck for years to come.



Justin Libertoski/Daily Globe

ROB COLEMAN, of Steiger’s Ace Hardware in Bessemer, reaches for a box of deck screws from the shelf at the home center located on U.S. 2. nance is used on the deck, it will be an addition to the home that can last awhile, even in the harsh winter climate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

shoveling or snowblowing, said Coleman. Once the material and the use of a stain has been determined, the last thing to do would be building the deck. With the right material and proper mainte-

solid deck stain. There are also products that are a thicker deck coating but the problem with these is that because of the climate in the Upper Peninsula, they do not hold up real well to any kind of


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Windows, skylights let needed light in

(BPT) — Is your home chilly and dark in winter, or stuffy and dark in the summer? If your home has too small or too few windows, it can be difficult to get the natural light and ventilation you crave, and need for good health. You may look around your digs and think, “this place could stand some more windows,” but have no clue if it’s feasible to add them or how to get started. Cutting a hole in a wall or roof can be a scary prospect for homeowners, but adding windows, roof windows or skylights isn’t as hard as you might think. What’s more, properly installed windows, roof windows or skylights can be a highly rewarding way to improve a home’s air quality, energy efficiency, healthfulness and visual appeal while making it a more pleasant place to be every day. If you’re unsure what type of window or skylight might be right for you, here’s a rundown of the basics:

Vertical windows

Unless you live in a bunker,

your home already has vertical windows (in the walls) and the support structure for them was incorporated into the wall when the home was built. Replacing an existing under-sized vertical window with a larger one should be an easy task for a professional. Installing a new window where none existed before is slightly more complex. The installers may need to add support to ensure the new opening doesn’t compromise the wall’s ability to support the weight of the roof and/or story above it. Vertical windows fall into several types, including: —Double-hung/single hung: Double-hung windows can open from the top or bottom, while single hung open only from the bottom. These are the most common types of wall windows used in modern homes. —Casement: Often, but not always, narrow and vertical, casement windows open outward using a crank handle. —Fixed: These windows don’t open. Typically, picture or bay windows are fixed. —Awning: Often used above

or below fixed windows, awning windows flip outward from the top or bottom. —Sliders: These windows open by sliding either to the left or right, and they’re common in contemporary or modern designs.

Roof windows

Most traditional windows admit light at the wall level, while skylights bring light into the home from above. Roof windows are somewhat of a hybrid in that they combine some of the best qualities of both vertical windows and skylights. They are located within reach and are operated by hand, and they can provide a great view of both the landscape and sky. Roof windows are large enough and quickly open wide enough to allow a person to easily exit a room for roof maintenance or in an emergency. This makes them a logical choice for locations where building codes require a method of egress. Roof windows can be fitted with a variety of blinds and insect screens and are very often the choice for attic conversions and

other applications where sloped walls or rooflines are within reach.


Skylights are often the daylighting solution of choice for rooms with limited wall space or where privacy is paramount (such as bathrooms and bedrooms), but they can be a practical, attractive and cost-effective way to increase natural light and passive ventilation in any room or space in the home. New or replacement skylights are available in fixed or venting, fresh air models. Energy Starqualified, no-leak, solar-powered fresh-air skylights from Velux America operate by remote control to provide passive ventilation as well as natural light. You can add solar-powered blinds in designer colors and patterns to either fixed or fresh-air skylights, further enhancing their energy efficiency while allowing you complete control over the amount of light and air that enters the room through the units. Installing new skylights or replacing older glass or plastic


bubble skylights with solar-powered fresh air models, plus solar blinds, can qualify you for a 30 percent federal tax credit on the products as well as the installation costs. Skylights are also available for rooms with no direct roof access. These tubular skylights are an inexpensive way to brighten up smaller half baths, closets, hallways and other interior areas of the home. Light kits are available for 24/7 illumination.

Better light from above

A study by the Danish Building Research Institute shows

that roof windows and skylights provide both more light and better quality light — twice as much as vertical windows and three times as much as dormers. Skylights deliver balanced light to the core of a room and brighten the space with less glare while requiring a smaller square footage of glass. Whether you’re planning replacement work or a new installation, professionally installed vertical windows, roof windows and skylights can help brighten your home, provide better air quality and make any space more enjoyable.

Five smart-minded upgrades for most-used rooms in the home (BPT) — Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms are typically the rooms in any home that get the most use, which could also be why homeowners, when surveyed, consistently cite those rooms as the ones they most want to renovate. It makes perfect sense to upgrade the rooms where you spend the most time, but in high-traffic areas, you can’t afford to make changes just for the sake of cosmetics. You want improvements that can enhance your enjoyment of a room and its functionality.

Here are five smart improvements to make in the rooms users of voted as the most popular ones in their homes: kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and game rooms.

Add natural light

Most rooms in the home look better and are more functional in natural light, and more daylight can help reduce the need for artificial light. What’s more, there’s no arguing the positive mental and physical health effects of natural light. Daylight stimu-

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lates the body to produce Vitamin D and boosts brain levels of serotonin, which is thought to be associated with positive moods. Adding skylights is a practical, cost-effective and attractive way to bring more natural light into virtually any room. Remotecontrolled, solar-powered freshair skylights provide not just natural light, but passive ventilation, a real plus in kitchens and baths. Adding solar powered blinds, in designer colors and patterns, increases energy efficiency while giving you total control over the amount of sunlight entering a room through the skylight. In kitchens, Energy Star-qualified fresh air skylights increase natural light and ventilation without requiring any loss of wall space you could better use for cabinetry. In bathrooms, they provide the perfect combination of privacy and healthful natural light and ventilation. If you already have older glass or plastic bubble skylights, you can upgrade to the latest solar

powered models, plus solar blinds, and receive a 30 percent federal tax credit on the products as well as installation costs. You can even bring more natural light into rooms or areas without direct roof access, like half-baths, closets and hallways, with Sun Tunnel tubular skylights.

Add organization/storage

Clutter and chaos not only make a room function less efficiently, it can impact your mood as well. Adding organization and storage to rooms where clutter typically collects - such as bedrooms, living rooms and game rooms - is an easy, cost-effective way to improve the function of the room and how you feel about spending time in it. In bedrooms, maximize closet space by installing organization units. A variety of manufacturers offer ready-made units you can install yourself. Or, for a bit more investment, you can have a professional closet organizer custom-make a unit to fit your space and needs. In living rooms and

(BPT) — In holistic living, all things are interconnected, which means home design has a big influence on health and wellness. One room where every household member can benefit from the art of holistic living is the bathroom. With some strategic upgrades to the decor, fixtures and appli-

ances, it's easy to transform a bland space into a grand oasis of relaxation within the home.

The power of color

Studies show certain colors can enhance energy and mood, while others are known for their calming qualities. For example,

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Air flow is critical to the health of your home and everyone who lives in it. Ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms carries away excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew, and creates a fresher, more healthful environment by exhausting stale indoor air. Bathrooms should be equipped with exhaust fans, and kitchen hoods should vent to the exterior of your home whenever possible. You can further improve ventilation by installing Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights.

Replace old appliances

Fixtures and appliances are key elements of kitchens and bathrooms. Older ones not only look dated and shabby, they can cost you money because they use more electricity and water than

Freshen the foundations

Every room benefits from a good foundation, and that doesn’t just mean sturdy flooring. Wall color, flooring materials and trim are fundamental elements in any room. Simply repainting walls and woodwork can completely change the way any room looks. Or, if you like the colors you have, a fresh coat in the same color will make the room look brighter and newer. Replacing worn carpeting or dated tiles, or refinishing a hardwood floor are also great ways to improve the foundations of any room.

people go to a spa for rest and relaxation, and you'll notice many are colored in blues, browns, greens or deep reds. You won't traditionally find bright colors, which would be too energetic for a place of respite. So for your bathroom remodel, select colors that soothe to begin your healthy home transformation.

Comfort you can feel

In the bathroom, quality towels, bath rugs and flooring are must-have components of a wellrounded holistic space. You'll know you are giving yourself and your family the best when you upgrade these items to highquality organic or natural fabrics and materials. Some in-demand upgrades to make your bathroom an upscale indulgence include heated flooring and towel warmers so you never need to experience a chill after a deep soak.

Customized relaxation

Take "me time" to a whole new level when you install the DTV+ advanced showering system developed by Kohler. It has preprogrammed spa experiences that target well-being, relaxation and energy developed by Kohler's

Waters Spa, so you know you're getting a true spa experience right at home. The DTV+ has a touch screen interface allowing you to control and customize every feature. Plus, this shower is so digitally advanced, it can control two different water temperatures simultaneously, allowing you to treat a sore muscle with cold water while keeping the rest of you warm with another valve of hot water.

Soothing sounds

Complete the holistic bathroom experience by adding relaxing music. Pre-program your sound system with classical, Eastern, meditation or naturestyle music to help you escape the grind. As you're planning your bathroom redesign, install speakers to create a surroundsound experience, especially in the shower area. Set it up for wireless control, in case you decide you need to change what's playing in the middle of your shower. The DTV+ is intuitive and consistent with today's popular digital devices, allowing you to interface with up to three devices, funneling your music through your shower.

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HOME IMPROVEMENT Three ways to maximize space in a smaller kitchen


(StatePoint) — Too often, the kitchen is the first room of a home to suffer the consequences of tight living quarters. But there’s no need to forfeit big-scale cooking in a small-scale kitchen. Ditch the compromises and maximize the space you do have to make your kitchen work for you, and all your culinary aspirations.

Cut the fat

Do a top-to-bottom inventory of your kitchen implements to assess what you need and what you can discard or donate. Sleek newer designs of certain appliances tend to take up less space than their clunky, older counterparts. They also offer more multi-functionality. For example, ovens that contain a warming drawer that can be used for slow cooking, potentially eliminates the need for a standalone slow cooker. Blenders

that come with food processor attachments can help you declutter your countertop. A periodic audit of your kitchen can keep things running smoothly and efficiently.

Space efficient appliances

New appliance options designed for compact kitchens can help ensure that limited space is not a deterrent for those passionate about cooking. For example, Verona Appliances offer upscale, space efficient ranges at 24 and 30 inches with both gas and electric options. These ranges include features like space-saving drawers for pots and pans, multi-function ovens featuring a closed-door broil, European convection fan, heavy-duty racks and a broiler pan, and multi-functional warming drawers with settings suitable for proofing dough and slow cooking. For a stylish, sophisticated




option, consider the 24-inch Nostalgie Gas Range from ILVE, which comes fully equipped with the benefits of the brand’s larger ranges, but is small enough to fit into virtually any kitchen with a gas connection.

Creative storage

Your conventional storage options will only get you so far in a compact kitchen. Stretch your concept of storage to open up a world of new possibilities. Wall-mounted magnetic units can be a great place to store knives, pots and pans, freeing up limited cabinet space. Corkboard added to the backs of pantry and cupboard doors is ideal for hanging light utensils, recipes and notes. Shelving can be built under kitchen tables and kitchen islands. The possibilities are endless. For happier cooking, give your compact kitchen a functional makeover.


Reduce home’s carbon footprint by choosing environmentally friendly products (StatePoint) — Going “green” has increasingly moved from a trend to a global initiative. But the best place for individuals to start minimizing their impact on the environment is in spaces where they spend the most time. Here are some ways people are reducing their carbon footprints at home and work.


For homeowners, there are many different types of green or eco-friendly flooring options today. For example engineered wood

floors have a wood veneer, which uses far less material than solid hardwood floors. They’re also more dimensionally stable. Today’s modern laminate floor options are made from recycled wood fiber. There are many more eco-friendly options — ranging from bamboo and cork to natural linoleum, sisal fiber area rugs, seagrass and coir mats (made from coconut husks) — along with stones and tiles, carpeting and natural wood. These modern trends are offered by brands like Floor Coverings International. Its “Epic”

option uses 50 percent less newly harvested wood than conventional flooring and is sourced from domestic forests. Epic (shorthand for Environmentally preferred, Peak performance, Installation advantages, Complete product offering) is certified at Cradle-toCradle Silver, eligible for LEED credits and meets GREENGUARD indoor air quality requirements.


The lighting industry is going green. GE recently announced that it will stop selling tradition-

al lightbulbs by the end of 2016. Residential LEDs — especially ENERGY STAR rated products — use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save us more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices. Luckily, pioneering companies like LED Source are actively retrofitting major chains and

other businesses with LED lighting. As North America’s first franchisor of LED lighting, they are helping businesses go green and save money in the commercial, entertainment, and residential markets.

Shop green

A new green retail revolution is giving homeowners more earth-friendly choices. At the forefront of this movement are brands like SuperGreen Solutions, a franchised chain that offers a one-stop-shop for a range of energy efficient

solutions for commercial and residential customers, as well as expert advice and guidance through in-home consultations on the best products for each customer. They also offer rebate advice, tax credit guidance, sales, installation and after-sales service. More information can be found at SuperGreenSolutionsFranchise.c om. There are many ways to get on board this important trend and go green. Start by making smart swaps and upgrades to improve efficiency and lower bills.

Spring tips to attract beautiful birds to yard (StatePoint) — When hosting neighbors and friends for spring gatherings, your thoughts may dwell on accommodating guests. But how often do you consider your animal visitors? “During spring, flocks of birds migrate and are looking for places to refuel and rest,” says Spencer Schock, Founder of WindowAlert, makers of bird-friendly products for homes. “A few small tweaks to your yard, is like placing out a welcome mat.” Unfortunately, migration is not without peril or hardship, but Schock says turning your home into a refuge for birds can be fun and add beauty to your yard. He offers these tips to keep feathered travelers safe during their migratory journey.

Protect flight

Millions of birds die annually by striking glass, making windows a hazard to birds in flight. Try applying special decals that reflect ultraviolet sunlight to your home’s windows, particularly those windows that are highly reflective of open sky. The decals won’t affect your view because they’re virtually invisible to humans, but will help keep birds safe. For example, those from WindowAlert have patterns that give the appearance of slightly frosted translucent glass, but glow like a stoplight for birds. The brand also makes a high-tech liquid called WindowAlert UV Liquid, which can be applied between decals. Such ultraviolet decals have

been scientifically proven to keep birds safer. A 2015 American Bird Conservancy Study found that the more WindowAlert decals that were applied to a piece of glass covering the departure point of a flight tunnel, the more birds avoided it (a net protected all the birds in the study from actually getting hurt, no matter where they chose to fly).

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Birdfeeders come in all shapes, sizes and styles, and simply adding one to your yard can help beautify it and give birds the energy needed to continue their flight. Remember though, bird strikes are often a problem near bird feeders, as feeding birds are easily frightened and are apt to take wild, evasive flight; position feeders closer than three feet or farther than 30 feet from windows. If your feeder is close to the window, birds fly away from the house. Believe it or not, the safest type of feeder is the kind that attach to the window itself. You can also make your home’s outdoor spaces more birdfriendly filling your garden with the right plants and flowers for pollinating bird species.

Watch and record

Grab a pair of binoculars and a field guide book and take note of the types of birds you see and when. This will help you become better prepared for next season. In addition, consider becoming a

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“citizen scientist” by submitting your observations to The Audubon Society and Cornell University’s database at For more tips on making your

home and garden a bird haven, visit”By making a few simple modifications to your yard and home, you can assist birds on their long journey,” says Schock.

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Selling your home? Let the bidding war begin

(BPT) — No wonder you’re thinking of selling your home it’s a “seller’s market� right now. The housing supply has dwindled, creating more demand for fewer homes. At the same time, according to Realtor Tammy Reinke, buyers’ expectations are higher than ever. They’ve become accustomed to model-perfect homes. What’s the upshot? “Sellers have a choice,� says Reinke. “You can win the price war - or win the beauty contest.� By winning the beauty contest, you’ll gain pricing leverage. And if your home shows well, it can even spark a bidding war - generating offers that exceed your asking price. Here are three top “beauty�

tips to set your home apart from other contestants, and set yourself up for a fatter settlement check.

Dirt’s a deal-breaker: Make a clean sweep

“Buyers want to see a clean home,� says Reinke. “And the first thing to deal with is stained carpets and ceilings.� Stained carpets should be cleaned or replaced. Stained ceilings deserve your attention, too. They can scare off prospective buyers who fear that ceiling imperfections might be a sign of bigger problems. “If you’ve got a stained popcorn ceiling, don’t bother trying to spot paint over it, it doesn’t work,� Reinke says. Even profes-

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sionals find it difficult to match the original finish and color. In addition, flocked or heavily textured ceilings are best replaced because they look so outdated. Instead, consider installing ceiling tiles or panels directly over the offending ceiling, using a simple DIY track-and-clip system. To weigh all your ceiling replacement options, pop some real popcorn and settle back with the Armstrong Ceiling video guide to ceilings for lots of ideas and inspiration.

Declutter de house

Buyers can’t picture themselves in your home if they can’t see past your piles of stuff. “There’s a difference between clutter and an intentional collection,� says Tiffany Little, a senior interior design at Albion Associates. Pull together different items like pottery or framed photography - using a common design element like color, similar patterns, texture or materials. “It’s OK to leave some surfaces empty, and to create a display of personal mementos in a stylish, organized manner in other areas,� says Little. “This makes the personal items even more special.�

Spark design interest

So you’ve cleaned and decluttered, but now your rooms seem blah and uninviting. Nothing enlivens a space like a splash of

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(BPT) — Tossing, turning and constantly waking — it can be maddening when you don’t get the sleep your mind and body so desperately needs. If you constantly struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, you’re in good (albeit tired) company. Millions of Americans across the country are chronically sleep deprived. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that insufficient sleep is a serious and growing public health concern. What most people don’t realize is their lack of quality rest is often connected to bad sleep habits. Are you guilty of any of these top five mistakes that reduce your body’s ability to sleep all night? Learn what they are and how to make simple corrections for a more rejuvenating rest.

Sleeping on an old mattress

An old, unsupportive mattress inhibits quality sleep, yet the cost and time it takes to purchase a new mattress deters people from upgrading.

Using electronics at bedtime

Tablets, cell phones, smartphones and other digital devices make it easy to stay connected, but they mess with the brain’s ability to fall asleep. Light omitting devices disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms. That means when you’re checking your phone right before bed, you’re causing your brain to think it’s time to wake. The best solution is to avoid digital devices for at least an hour before bed. Instead of TV or tech, take a bath, read or do some

(BPT) — Spring is in the air, and that means tackling home improvement projects you’ve been putting off all winter long. As you plan for these projects over the warmer months, include steps to improve your family’s home environment, both inside and outside. Your house will be a better, more comfortable place to live.

Conserve water

Help preserve this precious resource by replacing any leaky indoor faucets in your kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Also, think about replacing your showerhead with a low-flow model.

Outdoors, check the watering hose faucet for leaks and replace it if needed. And when mowing the lawn, recommends setting the blades 2 to 3 inches high because the longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention and helping the grass survive drought and tolerate insect damage.

Reduce indoor pollutants

Improve your home’s indoor air quality. EPA studies indicate indoor air may be 25 times, and occasionally more than 100 times, more polluted than outdoor air. A whole-house air cleaner,

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gentle yoga to get your body into sleep mode.

Ignoring noise pollution

Ticking clocks, beeping phones and buzzing electronics may not seem loud, but this phantom noise pollution is secretly robbing you of a good night’s rest. To encourage your body to get into REM sleep, try to eliminate as much noise as possible from the bedroom. If you’re left with other disruptive noises, such as a snoring partner or outside traffic, invest in a white noise machine or earplugs to block it out.

Bedroom too warm

If you crank up the heat and grab an extra blanket at bedtime, you might be disrupting your sleep patterns.


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Seal air leaks

Keep cool air in and hot air out by sealing leaks and adding insulation. Areas to check for repairs include the attic, garage and unfinished basement. Throughout the house, ensure that all cooling and heating vents and registers meet the floors, walls and ceilings and are well sealed.

Keep cool more efficiently

Upgrading your cooling system to a more efficient one can save home energy consumption, helping to save you money.

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vivid or deeper colors as accents with accessories and artwork throughout the home. Finally, don’t forget to add texture, whether with a woven area rug or sculptural wire baskets. “Texture adds great dimension and depth to a room,� says Little. “I especially love the look of Armstrong Ceilings decorative metal ceiling panels in textured tin or copper as accents above a

kitchen island. This turns the ordinary, smooth sheetrock ceiling into a wow factor. By adding this textured ceiling color in with a few of the dishes, or countertop items, it unifies the room’s palette,� she added. With a bit of primping, your home can win the ultimate beauty contest and attract a buyer who’s willing to meet your price, or even pay a premium to call it their own.

The National Sleep Foundation identifies temperature as a key factor to sleep, recommending a cooler sleeping environment. So turn down the thermostat, reduce blankets and rethink your mattress.

Allowing inconspicuous light

You flip off the light switch when it’s time for shuteye, but your room is probably not completely dark. Even subtle glow from a nightlight, phone or muted TV disrupts those crucial circadian rhythms, causing your body to think dawn is near, which in return triggers you to get up. Try to remove or block all light in your room, and if there’s some you just can’t eliminate, an eye mask is a helpful alternative.

Make home a more comfortable place to live


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color. Toss some bright new pillows on the sofa or add tasteful artwork or accessories to complement your color scheme. Paint adds personality, too, but choose your colors carefully so your wall palette flows naturally from room to room. “I like using a neutral color palette for larger rooms - from ivory tones to values of grey,� says Little. She adds mid-tone colors to smaller rooms, while selectively using

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Shield windows from hot sun

Seasonal heat comes indoors from windows, too, so close draperies and shades, or install them in rooms that don’t already have them. Outside, create some natural shade near the windows by planting a tree, tall bushes or adding awnings on the sunniest side of the house.

Control indoor temperatures

Ensure a more comfortable home environment by adding a programmable HVAC control. Trane’s programmable smart controls are easy to use and, when paired with the Nexia smart home system, let you remotely monitor and control indoor temperatures, so you can adjust your system to be more efficient based on your family’s schedule.


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(715) 561-2288

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Sell or stay, these home improvements pay off in long run (BPT) — Homeowners undertake home improvements for two basic reasons: to please themselves or to please others who may one day buy their home. Some types of improvements are for the sake of a speedier sale, such as planting a row of shrubs between your backyard and a busy street behind your home. Others are for your own enjoyment, like painting your rec room your favorite shade of neon pink. The best home improvements, however, pay off in the long run whether you’re staying or selling. Here are a handful of projects that are worth the investment whether you’re hoping to please potential buyers or make your home more enjoyable for yourself:

Add skylights

Any real estate professional will agree: buyers love balanced natural light. You probably do as well! Adding Energy Star-qualified no leak skylights is a costeffective improvement that enhances a home’s appeal to potential buyers, as well as its livability for the people currently occupying it. They’re particularly popular in bathrooms (where fresh air and privacy is a concern) and kitchens (where they also provide passive ventilation of cooking odors and excessive heat), but skylights can go in any room where you want more natural light, an open, airy feeling and a brightened appearance. Solar powered fresh-air skylights, like those from VELUX America, can help improve indoor air quality while brightening things up and cutting down on the need for artificial light. Add solar powered blinds to boost the energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent

and you’ll love your skylights even more. Solar-powered skylights and blinds are operated by a touchpad programmable remote control and are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as is the cost of installation. And skylight blinds can help you decorate while boosting energy efficiency. They are available in a variety of designer colors and patterns to coordinate with your décor while giving you complete control of the light that enters your rooms. The choices include light diffusing, light blocking, and light controlling Venetian blinds, all of which can be operated manually or by remote control. To further differentiate home spaces such as hallways and closets, which never seem to have enough light, consider Sun Tunnel tubular skylights which are inexpensive and easily installed in a matter of hours. They also offer light kits for 24/7 functionality.

Add or upgrade a deck

When the weather warms, your family will want to spend more time outdoors and a deck is the perfect platform for outdoor enjoyment. Potential buyers also perceive it as a benefit, and adding or upgrading a deck can boost your home’s value. In fact, a wooden deck will recoup 75 percent of its installation costs at time of resale, and a composite deck recoups 64 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Bigger is better right now in the world of deck building, with more homeowners looking to increase the size of their decks. Multi-level decks are also on trend, with many people dedicating different deck levels for different functions, such as an out-


door kitchen, spa area with hot tub, and entertainment seating.

Exterior paint

Repainting the exterior of your home is a big job, but one that’s well worth the investment, whether you’re trying to impress potential buyers with great curb appeal, or simply make your house a more enjoyable place to return to each day. Exterior paint greatly affects the overall

look of a home, plus quality paint helps protect siding from the elements. Your color choice could also affect your utility bills; if you live in a hot environment, lighter colors will help reflect heat away from your home. If you’re selling, a fresh, attractive paint job could increase your home’s purchase price.

Kitchen cosmetics

Great kitchens sell homes,

Millennials looking for special amenities in a home (BPT) — For years, consumer buying power and purchasing trends have focused around baby boomers. However, within the past several years, the spotlight has shifted to the 80-plus million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 known as millennials. Now the largest demographic group in history, this generation is undoubtedly the most studied. Significant research findings, speculations and predictions about shopping habits and motivators are driving the world to cater to this influential group. Home ownership is one example. Many speculate millennials aren’t interested in, or in a position to buy a home because they’re strapped with student loans and a tightened job mar-

ket. While much of that is true, research paints a different overall picture. In fact, in many U.S. cities, millennials make up half or more of home purchasers (many of them first-time home buyers), according to a recent study by and reported by Bloomberg. So what are millennials looking for in their home? According to the recent Responsive Home initiative conducted by Builder Magazine, TRI Pointe Group (Pardee Homes) and partners such as Danze, Inc., several priorities rose to the top of their “must have” list when purchasing or building a home: —Ability to maximize all spaces within the home (efficient, creative storage)

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—Urban conveniences in suburban settings (able to walk to parks and schools) —Plentiful outdoor space, including an outdoor kitchen when possible —Customizable floor plans (i.e., ability to have a nanny or mother-in-law suite with kitchenette and more) —Elements with high design that offer functionality and value “There’s no doubt this generation is very design savvy and has outstanding taste,” says Sharon Overby, vice president of Danze, Inc. “We were excited to be part of the Responsive Home project. Our kitchen and bath faucets, shower systems, bath accessories and others play well with the design-functionality-value ratio.”

Among the unique design aspects was the use of satin black as a finish throughout many of the bathrooms. Showerheads, faucets and accessories were often mounted on white subway tile (grouted in black) for a fun, impactful style. In one of the kitchens, Responsive Home Creative Director Bobby Berk paired a white farmhouse sink with a Danze pulldown faucet in a tumbled bronze finish. The juxtaposition of mixing and matching elements such as these are at the heart of millennial style. Outdoor living has proven to be a hot button for many buyers, including these 25-34-year-olds. They like sitting areas, beautiful gardens and water features.

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Even a minor kitchen remodel can recoup more than 83 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine. Whether you plan to put your home on the market this spring or summer, or intend to stay put for years to come, it pays to invest in home improvements that enhance both resale value and your enjoyment of your home.

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and the kitchen is also the room where many families spend the greatest amount of time, so anything you do to improve a kitchen is well worth the investment. Taking care of basic items like replacing old cabinet hardware, upgrading faucets and lighting, and investing in quality countertops can be cost-effective ways to elevate your home’s value and boost the usability of the kitchen.

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E5299 West Pioneer Road, Ironwood, MI 49938 Phone: Office (906) 932-3502 Cell 906-364-3502 Email:

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Patio perfection just seven steps away

(BPT) — Daffodils bloom brightly by the back door, temperatures are balmy, cookout season is on the horizon and you’re ready to give your outdoor living space a breath of fresh air. Great patios and decks enhance your enjoyment of spring and summer, and boost home value, so it’s well worth the investment to update and upgrade your home’s exterior living space. Patio (or deck) perfection can be within your reach this season. Simply follow these seven steps to create an outdoor environment where you’ll be proud to entertain all summer long.

Update your patio furniture

Whether your current patio set is worn out, you need more seating or are just in the mood for a whole new look, new patio furniture can change the way you feel about your outdoor environment and how much time you spend there. Whether you want traditional wicker, durable metals or exotic woods like Eucalyptus, there are many design options for the perfect dining set, settee, chaise lounge, glider, ottoman, coffee

table, rocker or swing.

Replace cushions on your current set

If your current patio furniture is in good shape but just in need of some freshening, it’s easy enough to give it new life with small tweaks like updated patio cushions. Cushions are the crowning touch to catch the eye on patio furniture and there are hundreds of patterns, shapes and styles of patio pillows and cushions available.

Add a water feature

One of the best ways to create your own oasis can be with a water feature. Easy to find and simple to set up accessories like a fountain can bring the harmony of water to your outdoor environment. For example, those with a waterfall feature immediately create a feeling of Zen and help drown out the noise of everyday life.

Make some shade.

When you need a break from the sun, but aren’t ready to head indoors, shade

can help you stay outside so you can enjoy the fresh air longer. You can add shade in many ways, from installing a retractable awning over the deck or patio to strategically planting trees or climbing vines on a trellis. And of course, the simplest way to add shade is to use patio umbrellas, which are available in a wide range of hues, patterns and styles.

Heat up your grilling station

What outdoor environment would be complete without a great grill? Accessories make grilling fun and easy, and ensure you’ll look and operate like a pro when whipping up summer fare. From grilling mitts to barbecue tool sets, burger and kabob grilling baskets, grill toppers and even taco shell baskets, you can outfit your grill station with everything you need for a great grilling experience.

Lighten up

When you’re having a great time outdoors, who wants to go inside just because it’s dark? Add some lighting to


your outdoor living space to create ambiance and allow you to enjoy your patio long after the sun goes down. You can invest in hard-wired patio or deck lights, go eco-friendly and easy with solar lights, or choose from an array of battery-powered or candle-fired lanterns.

Use decor to create a theme

Just as your home’s interior has a design theme, choosing a theme for your

patio or deck can pull the look together. Whether your taste is Boho Chic, Tribal or Weekend Getaway, you can find decor items that underscore the theme. Wall decorations, outdoor rugs, decorative planters and flower pots, wind chimes and statuary all work together to create a look you’ll love throughout the spring and summer. The perfect patio — and hours of outdoor enjoyment — is within reach this spring and summer.

Know what’s below ground before beginning to dig this spring (BPT) — With the snow gone and the ground thawed, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country are rolling up their sleeves and reaching for their shovels to start projects that require digging this spring.

During the transition into season,” Common “digging Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is

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the first step towards protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one call utility notification center. According to data collected by CGA in a phone survey in late February, more than half (46 percent) of American homeowners said they plan to do DIY projects involving digging this year, but 40 percent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 before digging. Extrapolated to the full population of U.S. homeowners, approximately 51.8 million people will dig this year without first calling 811. A utility line is damaged every six minutes in America because someone decided to dig without making a call to 811 to learn the approximate location of buried utilities in their area. Unintentionally striking one of these

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lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or your neighbors and repair costs. As a result, CGA offers the following tips to make sure you complete your project safely and without any utility service interruptions, so you don’t become a statistic.

Here’s how the 811 process works: 1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be

marked with flags or paint. 2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project. 3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines. 4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas. There are nearly 19 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States that your family depends on for everyday needs including electric, gas, water and sewer, cable TV, highspeed Internet and landline telephone. That equals more than a football field’s length of utilities for every person in the United States. With that much critical infrastructure underground, it’s important to know what’s below and call 811 before digging. To find out more information about 811 or the one call utility notification center in your area, visit

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Much to ponder before painting house By ISABELLE KLEINSCHMIDT

IRONWOOD — When painting a home, outdoor fence, porch, steps, or other exterior surface this spring, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Forslund paint specialist Karen Pertile offers some insight for outdoor spring painting projects. Scraping tools will be the first thing that a customer needs to choose when starting the job. When choosing products, keep in mind the surface being coated. Hand-held scraping tools come in a variety of widths and lengths, with different style handles according to the job. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection as the paint chips may fly off unexpectedly. After completing this step, the surface should be washed to remove any remaining debris. Once the surface has been washed and is dry, a good primer should be considered. When using primer, “white is very hard to cover,� said Pertile. For that reason, it is good to add a tint of color to the primer before it is applied; even just a light grey will make a difference. The process for applying primer and paint is top down and siding before trim, according to

Pertile. Windows and doors can be done at the end of the project. If necessary, purchase painting tape in order to avoid getting paint in unwanted areas. If paint gets on windows, it can usually be scraped off once it has dried. If painting a porous surface such as concrete or brick, more paint will likely be necessary. A rough surface brush or a nap roller may be more suitable for the job. Metal surfaces will typically require a metal primer. A dry brush and frequent checks for runs or sags are a good idea. The most common types of outdoor paint are oil and latex. Latex dries more rapidly and is easier to clean. A 3-inch flat brush should handle the job well, however a smaller brush may be helpful in reaching the more tight areas. An angled sash brush will often be more appropriate in painting the finer details. When applying the paint, Pertile said to apply an even layer throughout the process. It can be easier to do so with a paint roller, and then to go back to any grooves with a paint brush to complete the job. “Don’t go too thin,� said Pertile. A second coat is almost

Your savings

With bright sun comes warmth, which can be very welcome during the cold winter months. But in the summer it can wreak havoc on your AC. Do you feel like you want to cry a little (or a lot) every time your energy bill comes? Surely you have better ideas for spending that money. This solution can help you lower those pesky bills and fill that piggy bank.

Your privacy

Unless your house is naturally private, say perched on a hill or with no neighbors for miles; you probably crave some privacy. This mystery improvement can help right away. Similarly, when you want to take in the view, it will quietly and quickly disappear.

Your Sunday football viewing

Who doesn’t love big windows that bring in tons of light? This is until sun glare makes you miss the winning touchdown. Sunshine makes us happy - it is a scientific fact - but too much sun isn’t good, neither for your skin nor your possessions. If you want to prevent the glare and the damaging UV rays from entering

your home, there is one easy answer.

Your spooky shadows

Big, bare windows are wonderful during the day with light streaming in, but what about at night? Bid goodbye to big, black windows in the evening and don’t be scared of who or what may be lurking in the darkness.

Isabelle Kleinschmidt/Daily Globe

perature both play a major role in how well the paint will adhere and dry to any given surface. Review the labels on paint cans to determine appropriate temperatures for the paint to dry in. Check the weather before painting in order to avoid periods of high humidity or precipitation. When the paint job is complete, care for brushes by cleaning and storing them properly. Soak the brush in water or paint thinner. A wire brush is useful in removing the excess paint from the bristles. When the brush is clean, wrap it in plastic or newspaper before putting it away.

always a good idea, as it will ensure a more even coat, and less frequent repainting. “One is good,� said Karen, “but it has a tendency not to hold its color.� Sun, wind, and weather can cause it to fade a lot faster. Paint comes in a variety of finishes, including gloss, semi-gloss, satin and flat finish. The flat often appears as a “truer� color said Pertile, but is really hard to wash. For outdoor painting, the most commonly used finish is satin. The weather is another important factor to keep in mind while doing an outdoor project, according to Pertile. Humidity and tem-

Finally, the answer

The one home improvement to take care of many of the dilemmas in your home is an automatic rolling shutter! They are also known as European shutters, as they are widely popular in Europe. Somfy motorized rolling shutters can be inte-

Your security

This improvement can not only hurricane-proof your home, but can also help make it burglar proof. Did you know 22 percent of all residential break-ins happen via back doors — The same beloved French patio doors you just had to have and enjoy every day? If you think we want to push “prison style� security bars, think twice. This solution is just as stylish as it is functional.

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grated into walls and soffits in new construction, or can be easily attached to existing structures. They are easily controlled from the inside via switches, remotes, automatic sensors, timers or by an app via your smartphone, whether you are home or away.

Your safety

Do you live in an area where the weather can be tricky? Or on a golf course, where the golf balls are flying dangerously? With this mystery improvement you can protect your home from the weather and your window glass from flying objects. Have you guessed what improvement are we talking about yet? Either way keep reading, as it gets even better.

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8 homeowner dilemmas solved with 1 simple fix (BPT) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Unless you are the latest lottery winner or Queen of England (thank you for reading, your Majesty), you try to make your home improvements really count, and sometimes have to choose one upgrade over another. What if there is a rather quick improvement that will take care of eight issues around the house, all at once? Sit back, read along and see how many of these common problems apply to you. If there are some you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t considered before â&#x20AC;&#x201D; rejoice â&#x20AC;&#x201D; there is your bonus. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll then reveal the one simple fix.


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12 l SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2016

Tips offered for mowing season By RALPH ANSAMI

HURLEY â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The transition from snowblowers to lawnmowers will hopefully arrive soon on the Gogebic Range and that will mean a busy season for Rich Wick and Jake Tilton at Giovanoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s True Value Hardware in Hurley. Giovanoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sells and repairs riding and push mowers and Tilton said there was already a brief early demand for the mowers in March, during a spell of unseasonably mild weather, before winter returned to the area. The store also sells and repairs chainsaws, snowblowers, weed trimmers and other garden and lawn supplies under brand names such as Club Cadet, Ariens and Stihl. Wick handles the mower repairs and Tilton is in charge of parts and sales. All brands of lawnmowers are repaired at the store. Preparing for spring mowing season for the homeowner should begin in the fall, when the lawnmowers and weed whackers are stored away for the winter.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;We canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t push using Sta-bil enough,â&#x20AC;? Wick said Tuesday. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It can save you $60 in a repair bill,â&#x20AC;? he said. For $5 to $10 a bottle, using the Sta-bil fuel treatment prolongs the life of the mower, making the motor run cleaner and smoother and protecting the gas tank against the ravages of winter. As soon as the snow melts and the grass turns green, area residentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; thoughts will return to that first mowing job of the season. Wick said they shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait until the grass gets too long, as it can be tough on the lawnmower. Most of the early season problems with mowers are fuel-related or pertain to worn belts that need replacement, Tilton said. Running the new four-stroke lawnmowers is easier than years past because the new machines donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t require mixing oil and gas. For the two-stroke machines, an improper mixture of gas and oil, or no mix at all, can lead to an unwanted repair trip. Tilton said there are no gears in most of the new mowers, which run on a hydrostatic sys-


Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

JAKE TILTON, left, and Rich Wick, employees at Giovanoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s True Value Hardware on Silver Street in Hurley, are ready for the arrival of lawnmowing season. tem. The operators use pedals or levers to change speeds on a hydrostatic lawnmower. The transmissions allow mowing through a wide range of speeds, instead of operating with pre-set gear speeds.

The hydrostatic transmissions combine a hydraulic pump with a hydraulic motor to power the machine, according to Turner Anderson, of SF Gate. At Giovanoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, the Cub Cadets are big sellers in the sum-

mer, while Ariens products dominate the winter months. The 42- or 46-inch riding mowers start at around $1,500 at the hardware store on Silver Street. The store has ordered a new line of push mowers that cost from

$189 on up. Some of the push mowers are self-propelled. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You get what you pay for,â&#x20AC;? Tilton advised. For the most part, Wick and Tilton said the new machines carry a three-year warranty.

6 tips to consider while preparing to buy a home this season (StatePoint) â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Buyer-friendly 30-year fixed mortgage rates and an improving job market are good news for spring homebuyers this season. Yet, even with these favorable conditions, many home purchase contracts will get held up at closing by financial issues. This doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to be the case. There are several things you can do before and after submitting a contract to help make sure you walk away from the closing table with the keys to your new home in hand.

Freddie Mac Senior Vice President Christina Boyle recommends doing the following before seriously hunting for a home this spring: â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Learn your current credit history and score. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want any surprises down the road. If you have no credit history, or have had credit problems in the past, you can take steps to build, improve, and maintain strong credit. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor for free advice. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Talk to your lender about

applying for a mortgage and getting a pre-approval letter. This letter gives an estimate of how much you might be able to borrow, and demonstrates to home sellers that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a serious buyer. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Understand your options. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t assume you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have enough for a down payment or wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t qualify for a mortgage without 20 percent down. In fact, about 40 percent of today`s homebuyers are making down payments of less than 10 percent,

according to research from Zelman & Associates. And new products, like the Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage mortgage, offer down payment options as low as three percent for qualified borrowers. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Gather your documentation. Expect your lender to request documentation verifying your income (W-2 forms, tax returns, and employment records), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).

After signing a purchase contract but before closing, Boyle recommends doing the following: â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take on more debt or make large cash purchases. Resist the temptation to take out new loans or open new credit cards. This could affect your credit profile and may require the lender to resubmit your mortgage application to verify you still qualify. Also, substantial cash purchases may make your mortgage company question whether you can really afford

monthly payments. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Meet your lenderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deadlines. Heed deadlines for providing documentation or information. A missed deadline could delay the closing, which may require you either to pay more to extend the mortgage terms you locked in when you submitted the application or, in the worst case, reapply for the mortgage. For more tips and resources on buying a home, visit the consumer education site


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Spring Home Improvement 2016