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JOURNAL GAZETTE & TIMES-COURIER


2 — OCTOBER 2011

2011 Fall Home

JG-TC

FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

Dress up a home with an interior door remodel.....................................................3 Things to consider when budgeting your home improvement project ..................4 Keep your exterior in top shape ..............................................................................5 Saving green by going green ...................................................................................6 Hidden cost of convenience......................................................................................6 12 green home improvements .................................................................................7 On your side .............................................................................................................7 Follow the 3 “P”s of home renovation......................................................................8 How to maintain your whirlpool tub.......................................................................9 Fall lawn care .........................................................................................................10 Is DIY a recipe for saving money?.........................................................................11 Fall Lawn Care.......................................................................................................12 Color my home .......................................................................................................12 Think “FRESH” when selecting roof colors ..........................................................13 Customize your home to suit your lifestyle ..........................................................14 Free deck plans offer inspiration and beauty.......................................................15 Not all painter’s tape are created equal ...............................................................15 Fire extinguisher know-how..................................................................................16 Undermount sinks growing in popularity ............................................................16 Did you know? ........................................................................................................16 Bib box not necessarily best bet ............................................................................17 Home improvement tips ........................................................................................18 Eci Builder Tips: Net -zero is here ........................................................................19 Renovation quick tips ............................................................................................19 How going green can help you save dollars and sen$e ........................................20 Lawn care tips for first-time homeowners............................................................21 Strike a pose for better sleep.................................................................................22 Did you know..........................................................................................................22 Easy ways to winterize your home........................................................................23 Invest in your roof..................................................................................................23

Fall Home Improvement 2011 Produced by JG-TC

700 Broadway Ave East Suite 9A Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 235-5656

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 3

Dress up a home with an interior door remodel

With minimum remodeling savvy and a modest budget, it's possible to change some items in the home to be more in tune with personal style. Although many homeowners gravitate toward new paint colors or furnishings to revamp the look of different rooms in the home, replacing tired-looking doors is another affordable option. The switching out of doors can be a high-impact project for little cost. Think about the room in the house where the door(s) add little appeal. Perhaps a bathroom door has been marred with holes from a former towel rack. A bedroom with simple, flat doors may lack panache. Some doors have been warped by moisture or have been damaged. These eyesores can be replaced. A trip to the hardware or home improvement store can yield a number of options in new doors. Hollow core doors are typically more affordable than solid wood doors. If cost is a factor, select among the various styles in hollow designs. Switching out a door can be a challenging endeavor and is often easiest as a two-person job. Some people simply use the old door as a template for the new door. Remember, not all doors are the same size (width and height) as the existing door opening. Therefore, some cutting and fitting will be necessary. Here are some steps to follow. 1. Measure the width and height of the old door. Many doors are a standard width of 13/8 inches, though older doors may be 213 N. 33rd Mattoon, IL

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different in width. 2. Doors are sold as pre-hung doors or door blanks. Pre-hung ones are surrounded by a jamb. When using these doors, measure accordingly taking the jamb under consideration. Blanks are simply the door with no holes for hinges or locksets already included. 3. Remove the old door by taking out the hinge pins, starting from the bottom and working up. You may need a screwdriver and

Hanging a new door can add significant aesthetic appeal with minimal investment.

a hammer to tap out stubborn pins. Keep the pins in a safe spot. 4. Lay the old door on top of the new door and trace the dimensions for cutting. Be sure to line up the lockset edge so things

will line up. There should be 1/8 inch clearance on the sides of the door and 5/8 inch clearance on the bottom. 5. Use a circular saw to cut the door accurately. If only a little needs to be removed from the door, consider using a hand plane instead. If you need to remove more than 1 inch, take half off the bottom and top of the door so it will be even. 6. Place the old door back on top of the new. Mark the location of the hinge mortices (the recessed area and holes where the hinges will fit) with a utility knife and straight edge. 7. Lightly chisel out the hinge mortices so that they are the right thickness to house the hinge hardware. Test the hinge in the mortice. 8. Test the door's fit within the opening to ensure all cuts are accurate. Plane areas if there is anything that is off or if the door rubs. 9. Mark and drill the space for the lockset and doorknob. Test the fit. 10. Attach the new door and interlace the hinges. Have a helper put in the hinge pins. 11. Put in the knob and be sure the entire set up works correctly. 12. Enjoy the new door.

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

4 — OCTOBER 2011

JG-TC

Things to consider when budgeting your home improvement project

Home improvement projects have become de rigueur for today's homeowners. Be it a kitchen remodel or the ever popular man cave project, home improvement projects remain a goal for many homeowners. As enticing as a home improvement project might be, no project can be successful until a budget has been established. The right budget will keep homeowners from going deep into debt when improving their homes, ensuring that, upon the project's completion, they can fully enjoy their revamped castles without the specter of significant debt

penses include everything from groceries to mortgage payments. When the comparison between monthly expenses and monthly income has been made, homeowners can get a grasp of just what they can and cannot afford. * Credit score: Many homeowners finance home improvement projects with loans from the bank. Particularly in the current economy when banks are being forced to tighten lending requirements, securing such loans isn't easy. Homeowners with significant credit card debt should eliminate such debt before beginning a project. Doing so serves multiple purposes. First and fore- A curved countertop serves as extra seating around the prep area, while a large table most, eliminating is perfect for serving big meals. outstanding debt cate toward the project. Eliminat- serving of immediate attention will free up more money to allo- ing debt will also make loan ap- and funds than vanity projects.

hanging ominously over their heads. Before beginning a home improvement project, homeowners can take the following things into consideration. * Personal finances: It sounds simple, but homeowners must examine their finances before starting a home improvement project. Just because a bank will loan out money for a project doesn't mean the project is affordable. Homeowners should compare their monthly expenses with their incomes, and then determine what's left that might be able to go toward a project. Monthly ex-

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plicants more attractive to prospective creditors, increasing their chances of securing a loan and a lower interest rate. * The project's priority: Budgeting a home improvement project also involves being honest as to just how necessary the project is. For example, a man cave might be a dream project, but should it be a priority over other things around the house? If wear and tear is taking its toll on the roof, for instance, the money going toward the man cave should probably be allocated to replacing the roof instead. If a project is low on the priority list but high on the want list, re-examine those projects higher up on the priority list to determine if they are more de-

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* Overrun costs: Not every home improvement project will come in at or under budget. Many, in fact, go over budget due to a host of factors. Homeowners should not be caught off guard when a project goes over budget. Instead, plan for the project to go over budget and expect such frustration. Allocate extra money in the original budget for overrun costs. This will reduce stress and frustration, and if the project comes in under budget, then there's extra money when the project is completed.

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 5

Keep your home exterior in top shape to research and hire a professional roofer. Check to make sure your roofer is insured, licensed and certified. Ask for a written job estimate and references along with warranty information for both the roof you select and his installation services.

Recycled glass tiles and water-saving faucets are just a couple of ways to make kitchens and baths more green. Feel like cheating? Forget what the inside of your home looks like for just a bit and focus on your home's exterior. "The exterior of your home makes a lasting and daily impression on your friends and family, along with your neighbors," says Mark Clement, professional contractor and host of MyFixItUpLife home improvement radio show. "While the weather is good, my advice is to get outside and fix up problem areas, work on the landscaping and invest in products that make your home's exterior not only look great, but work great." Clement, who is in the middle of an ongoing renovation of his 100-year-old home in Pennsylvania, recommends assessing your needs and then diving in on projects. "On the exterior of the home there are three big, critical areas I recommend people evaluate every year -- the roof, the windows and the entry door. Those are key areas because, along with being visual focal points of the home, they help protect a house from severe weather. And, if you have problems with older windows, doors or roofing tiles, you're looking at higher energy bills and growing problems that can affect your wallet long-term." Clement offers these recommendations for keeping your home exterior in top shape:

Roofing Tips: 1. Check your roof yearly (from a ladder or from a neighbor's home with binoculars) to determine the condition of your roof. Look for problem areas, such as missing or broken shingles, along with roofing tiles that may be "flapping" in the wind. These are all indications that a new roof may be in your future. 2. Don't forget to check the sides of your roof. The southern exposure weathers significantly faster than the other sides of the roof, so make sure to carefully examine this one. Also, shallower pitches weather faster than steeper pitches. So again, if your roof has a shallow pitch -- like

a shed dormer -- make certain you can clearly see it to get a true indication of the condition of your roof. 3. If you're in the market for a new roof, investigate polymer roofing tiles as a good option. These impact-resistant slate and shake tiles are man-made in a wide variety of colors. Some tiles, like those from DaVinci Roofscapes(R) that Clement chose for his home, have a 50-year limited warranty and are ideal for all types of weather conditions, including hurricanes and hail. 4. Since the installation of a new roof exceeds the capabilities of most homeowners, make sure

Entry Door Tips: 1. If you can see light around your main entry door from the inside, the door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it's time to consider a new door. 2. Even if you can't see light, air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping at a surprising rate. On a very cold or hot day, hold the back of your hand an inch or so away from the bottom and perimeter of your door. If you can feel air moving or a significant cold spot, that's a signal your existing door could benefit from better sealing. 3. Determine what role you would like an entry door to play on your home's exterior. Do you want it to be a focal point with a splash of color? Is it important that you have decorative glass in the door system? Will you need vented sidelites to allow more light and air into your home? Search the web for "Door Designer" and "My Saved Door" online tools to help visualize how a new door will look on your home. 4. Think about the weather conditions your home's door faces along with your energy bills. If either run to the extreme, consider replacing your entryway with a high-performance fiberglass door

(which has four times more insulation than wood doors). You can also request features such as the Tru-Defense(R) Door System from Therma-Tru Doors that features enhanced weatherstripping, corner seal pad, door bottom sweep and profiled sill that all work together to provide strength and stability in your entry door. Window Tips: 1. Evaluate the functionality and decorative appeal of your current windows. If you have condensation between glass panes, the windows are hard to open or close, your energy bills are soaring or if there are drafts coming in around the window units, then it's time to seriously consider replacement windows. 2. Vinyl framed windows are the category of windows with the highest growth rate in the country. Why? These frames are extremely energy-efficient and some of the best have fusionwelded corners and multi-chambered construction. Plus, maintenance hassles are so low you'll forget the horrors of rotting frames, scraping and repainting that come with wood windows. 3. Investigate your window options and stick with a national manufacturer that can stand behind a long-term warranty. For his renovation project, Clement selected Simonton vinyl windows. The award-winning company impressed him with its 65-year history and return-on-investment with their ENERGY STAR(R) qualified windows.

4. Remember that a thermally-efficient window is sealed tightest when it's locked. So, to keep your energy bills lowers, don't just close your windows, make sure to lock them.

Trim Tips: 1. If you have the opportunity to replace your entry door or windows, make sure to finish off the job with stylish window and door trim. Lightweight and easy to install, weather-resistant synthetic mouldings, shutters and entryway surrounds from Fypon(R) are a definite do-it-yourself project for any homeowner. 2. Take an eagle's eye look at your home. Most houses have louvers placed high above the attic or garage space to allow ventilation in those areas. And, most houses have wooden louvers that can rot with time. Replacing louvers with insect-resistant and rot-resistant synthetic louvers can improve the home's appearance and functionality. 3. Wrap it up. Clement recommends that if you have unsightly porch posts you can easily transform them into showpiece parts of your home by using Column Wrap Kits. The decorative synthetic pieces can be installed in less than 15 minutes around existing structural posts and columns to give an upgraded look to any home. For more home improvement tips, visit www.myfixituplife.com.


6 — OCTOBER 2011

JG-TC

FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

Saving green by being green Three simple fixes to help save money and winterize around the house

There are numerous, simple projects at homeowners' fingertips that can conserve energy in a home and keep money in the bank. Although windows, doors and siding are the biggest opportunities to conserve energy and reduce costs, not every project has to be a major one. When it comes to improving energy efficiency, every little bit helps. Using the right products helps to ensure that projects are done correctly and withstand the test of time. Below are a few easy weekend projects to get any house ready for the winter. Garage doors are usually the single largest entry point into a home and are rarely insulated, leaving a large area where air can seep in. Rubber thresholds, found at any hardware store, can be easily and quickly installed underneath the garage door to help keep the cold at bay. Since most garage doors are aluminum, it is best to use a two-part epoxy like Gorilla

Epoxy to secure these two different materials together. Epoxy fills any surface gaps, creating a lasting, water-resistant bond. The pressure and weight of the door then helps seal the garage when the door is closed. A similar type of seal can be made with a rubber gasket on exterior doors as well. By creating a tighter seal on this entry door, cold air is prevented from getting in and the warm air from getting out. When the weather dips below freezing, there is a good chance that copper pipes will freeze. This is a potentially messy and costly issue that can be easily prevented. While it might be harder to get to the pipes behind the walls, exposed pipes in the basement can be wrapped without difficulty. Flexible foam with a split-sleeve, purchased from any hardware store, will slip right over the pipes and can be easily secured with Gorilla Tape. This heavy duty tape contains twice

the adhesive as most duct tapes and outperforms standard duct tape in these tough situations. Either wrap tape around the insulating foam or run the entire length to seal the seam. Even areas where freezing does not pose a threat can benefit by keeping the pipes a more consistent temperature, and preventing costly drywall leaks caused by pipe condensation. Attics, even when insulated, are a major source of lost heat. However, most homeowners forget to complete their insulation project by insulating the access door to the attic. For this project, it is best to use rigid foam insulation with a radiant barrier. Cut the insulation board to the door's dimensions. (It is best to cut the piece a tad smaller than the door's exact size to ensure that it does not interfere with hinges or where the door seats into place.) Once cut, affix the insulation board using polyurethane glue.

The hidden cost of convenience

With so many different devices deemed necessary these days, people often are unaware of the amount of energy used and the costs associated with keeping these devices running. While there has been a lot of discussion on "vampire" devices, electronics that continue to consumer power even when in the stand-by position, it seems that many other everyday hidden costs are overlooked.

Take a refrigerator that was purchased ten or more years ago. It may still be running today just

as strong, and appear that is does not need replacing. But did you know that the refrigerator technology has improved energy efficiency features and offer better performing motors to help save electricity? According to the California Energy Commission (www.consumerenergycenter.org ), older refrigerators could be costing you up to $280 a year in electricity. A newer, more efficient model could pay for itself in a year or two.

Similarly, if you have an older television with the classic cath-

ode-ray tube in it, even if just as a secondary TV in the bedroom, it still may be consuming more energy than you think. A study done by Cornell University found that a similar size LCD monitor compared to a CRT monitor used nearly 69 percent less energy (25 watts (LCD) vs. 80 watts (CRT)), including 40 percent less when in stand-by mode. With the energy difference in mind, it might be the last evidence you need to justify buying a new TV for the bedroom.

A more everyday example that might not be considered as often is batteries. Batteries power all of our portable devices, and without them, we are powerless to use them -- quite literally. Standard alkaline batteries may last a long time, but we constantly need a supply of them on hand and they can be expensive. When you stop to add up how many AA or AAA batteries a standard home uses (all those remote controls, wireless keyboards, mice and game controllers, not to mention the loud toys for the little ones), the hidden cost of replacement batteries can surprise you. Luckily, there's a solution that's more efficient and costs less over time. Rechargeable battery technology has improved in

Gorilla Glue is one of the only adhesives that can glue foam to a wood or metal attic door without melting the foam. Also, remember to wet one surface prior to gluing and clamp the project by weighting it down with some heavy items. This polyurethane glue expands into the surface of the insulation and creates a tight bond ensuring the insulation will stay in place for the life of the home.

All of these winterizing projects are easy, quick, and can be completed within a weekend. Armed with a few supplies from the local hardware store, energy and heat savings are just a few moments away. More information is available at www.gorillatough.com.

the last five years that gets rid of many of the questions of using rechargeables.

of awareness of the new technology that could save us money in the long run and lower the total cost of ownership of our favorite portable devices. We know rechargeable batteries are convenient for our cell phones, music players and readers, but we don't usually stop to think about them for other everyday items.

One example of these batteries is the 'eneloop,' a pre-charged rechargeable battery that you can use out of the package and recharge up to 1,500 times, made by SANYO. It also keeps its charge, up to 85 percent after two years of non-use. Because the eneloop is ready to use and has low self-discharge (meaning that it holds its charge for a long period of time), they are more appealing and more cost-effective than ever before. If they are able to meet the demands of our remotes and alarm clocks, the only thing that holds us back is either not acknowledging the hidden costs associated with our portable power needs or our lack

When we become aware of hidden costs and how they affect our pocketbooks over time, we become smarter consumers and realize that a little up front investment can often mean less money paid out over time, saving us more money to buy the things we want.

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12 green home improvements

Making home improvements doesn't have to mean compromising environmental ideals in the -process. There are numerous ejobs that a person can do that fit .with a green lifestyle. While these improvements help protect the planet, they'll also help keep wa few extra dollars in your wallet. e 1. Conserve water. Turn off the tap between brushing teeth or rinsing off dishes. Better yet, install low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets that reduce the consumption of water in the household. 2. Motion detection: Motiondetector lights can be installed in different rooms of the home and outdoors. Lights will automatically turn on and off depending on the activity in the area, reducing the chances of a light

being left on inadvertently and wasting money and energy. 3. Solar panels: You may have been toying with the idea of solar panels for years. They can be installed on the roof or in the yard to power various components of the household, like lights during a traditional power outage or the swimming pool filter. Today it is possible to buy used solar panels, many of which still have a lot of life left to them and are considerably cheaper than new ones. 4. Aluminum-clad storm door: Insulate the entryway of your home with a storm door that will buffer against harsh weather conditions. While you're creating a more air-tight space, caulk around windows and doors. 5. Replace air filters. Your HVAC system likely has filters inside that trap dirt and contam-

On your side Understanding different siding options

Seemingly from the moment a home is purchased, its new owners start envisioning ways to transform their new pad into their dream home. Once they turn their key for the first time, homeowners enter an empty home and see a blank slate on which they can improve. But even before homeowners enter their new home, chances are the home's exterior has inspired a few improvement ideas as well. One of the more common home improvements is changing a home's exterior siding. Many new homeowners want to change their home's appearance with siding but might not be sure which option is the best fit for them. The following guide to siding options might help make this decision that much easier for homeowners still on the fence. * Vinyl: Vinyl siding is a popular choice among homeowners who don't want to break the bank to change their home's exterior look. Vinyl siding is one of the

OCTOBER 2011 — 7

inants. Replacing the filters leads to cleaner indoor air and helps the unit run more efficiently. 6. Power strips: Stock up on power strips and plug all of your peripherals and computer equipment into these strips. This way when you want to power down everything completely, you simply turn off the power button on the strip. This ensures no devices are drawing power even in the off position, which many do. 7. Install fans. Fans aren't just useful in the summer. In the winter, the blades can be set to rotate in the opposite direction and help draw warm air into the room, heating more efficiently. 8. Rainwater barrels: Set up rainwater barrels at the downspouts of your home's gutter system. These barrels collect water

that can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants, or even wash the car. Some feature a spigot to which you can directly connect a garden hose. 9. Plant trees.Trees are good for the environment in many ways, producing necessary oxygen for life and offering food and living areas for wildlife. Trees can also shade a home during the warm weather, helping reduce energy consumption. 10. Glass fireplace doors: Install glass fireplace doors, which are safer than fireplace screens. They'll also help protect against heat loss up the chimney when there isn't a fire lit. 11. Buy a solar cover. Warm up your spa all season long with a solar cover, which helps keep debris out of the water, too. Solar covers reduce the need to fire up

wood siding is prone to cracking or splitting, and especially humid climates might foster mildew in wood siding. Wood siding typically requires restaining or repainting every few years, and such maintenance is necessary throughout the siding's lifespan. Proper and routine maintenance of wood siding can also help reduce the risk of termites or mold. * Aluminum: Durable and af-

into play when making that decision. Aluminum siding is considered by many to be the more eco-friendly option, as some feel vinyl siding is bad for the environment and might even negatively affect human health. Aluminum siding is generally wind-resistant and homeowners enjoy its status as a relatively low maintenance siding option. * Stucco: Many homeowners prefer stucco siding because of its unique makeup that allows them to choose a design and color uniquely their own. A manufactured product made up of cement, lime, sand, and water, stucco is easy to maintain and can last a very long time. Stucco installation, however, is an intricate process and homeowners can expect to pay more for stucco's installation than they would with other options, even though the installation can be finished very quickly, particularly when compared to wood siding.

more affordable siding options, and many homeowners are attracted to its durability and reputation as a very low-maintenance siding option. Seamless vinyl attracts homeowners because of its aesthetic appeal. In general, vinyl siding is windresistant and unlikely to rot, scratch or blister, and vinyl siding does not attract insects nor is it susceptible to mold or mildew. However, some vinyl siding cannot withstand extremely cold weather. * Solid wood: Wood Stucco remains a popular siding option siding can last for among homeowners who want to change decades and many home- their home's aesthetic appeal. owners love its old-fashfordable, aluminum siding is easioned appeal. However, ier to maintain than wood, homeowners who don't want the though many homeowners still hassle of worrying about their choose wood over aluminum on home's exterior might be better the basis of aesthetic appeal. suited to other options, as wood Many homeowners often come siding can be difficult to main- down to deciding between alutain. Because wood will expand or minum and vinyl siding, and encontract depending on the season, vironmental concerns might come

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the heater to warm the water. 12. Dog waste composter: Create a method to safely dispose of dog waste without having to toss it in plastic bags in the trash. There are devices that can be buried into the ground to serve as a dog waste receptacle. Or you can make one of your own by placing a container with a lid that seals on top but has an open bottom. Sprinkle a natural bacteria septic tank product, such as Rid-X(R), down the hole routinely and it will break down the waste and turn it into soil fertilizer. There are a variety of ways to go green with home improvements, whether extensive projects or small fixes.

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8 — OCTOBER 2011

Follow the 3 'P's of home renovation Every home project begins with an idea and ends with the culmination of the job. In between, there are three main components of an improvement project that can mean the difference

between success and frustration: Planning, permits and protection. Planning The initial stage of a renovation is

the planning stage. Planning is when a homeowner works through the concept of the project and determines what is necessary to complete the task. Many people find it helpful to write out plans and draw up the concept on paper. This doesn't require expensive architectural software. A simple piece of graph paper plotted with measurements and a sketch is often sufficient for small projects. If the job will be expansive and require an architect or engineer, he or she will often provide a technical drawing. If the project focuses more on decorating than building, some find it helpful to create a design board. This is where fabric swatches, paint color samples, pictures of furniture and accessories, and any other components of the room are put together. Having a design board enables the homeowner to go to the store with board in tow and match up items to things in the store. Another part of the planning stage is establishing a budget and determining the project's financing. It can be helpful to make a list of all income and expenses and find out how much funding is left over for a project. When getting estimates on the work, whether it will be done by a contractor or a DIY project, the homeowner should then make a list of approximate costs (rounding up) and then compare it against the available funds. Permits Many projects, especially those involving building, demolition, electrical work, or mold remediation, require permits issued by the town, province or city in which the work will be taking place. The purpose of permits and subsequent inspections is often questioned by homeowners looking to circumvent the system. However, building permits are required to ensure public safety, health and welfare as they are affected by building construction, structural strength, zoning, and code requirements. In essence, building permits are how the government regulates safety and protects both current and future residents of the property.

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In many cases, homeowners will need to visit the municipal building in their respective towns and apply for a permit. The permit may not immediately be issued. Oftentimes, there is a waiting period during which the project's legality and safety is examined. Once the project is approved, the applicant will be able to file for the actual permit(s). There is usually a fee or fees for permit application, which covers any clerical work. Work should not begin until a permit is received, and then the permit generally has to be placed in plain sight, such as in a window of the building. Depending on building codes, inspections of the work may need to take place after all of the project is completed or during certain phases. For example, the building of a deck may require inspections after footings are installed and secured, and before the upper portions of the decking materials are attached. If an inspection takes place afterward, the inspector will be looking for key code issues to determine whether the work was completed successfully. If a contractor was used, he or she may have to be present at the time of the inspection. If the work passes, an approval will be given and put on record. If the work fails, applicable repairs will have to be made and a re-inspection will be scheduled. Should a home be put on the market, all permits may need to be on file or in the homeowners' possession in order for a certificate of occupancy to be issued to the new buyer. Failure to have permits can hold up the process or result in fines.

Protection Homeowners about to begin a project also need to emphasize safety. There are a number of things that can be on hand to make a work environment safer. These include: * Eye protection: This is especially important when working with flying debris, cutting items, mixing caustic chemicals, etc. * Respirator or face mask: Cover the nose or mouth when there is dust or debris in the air that can enter the lungs. When working with toxic fumes, such as when using spray paints or chemical lubricants, a respirator can offer clean air. * Boots: Proper footwear ensures protection should an item fall on the foot or when walking where nails or other sharp items are located. * Fire extinguisher: A fire extinguisher should be nearby in the event of a mishap. * First aid kit: An abrasion or cut may occur, requiring prompt care. * Gloves: When the hands need to be protected or extra traction on surfaces is required, gloves can be a necessity. * Headphones: Safety headphones can protect the ears against loud, consistent noises from power equipment and tools. * Locks: A locked cabinet can store tools, paints, chemicals, and other improvement supplies so that young children or pets won't have access. When homeowners take the time to plan, obtain permits, and secure the needed protection for a job, they help ensure a safer job that is done correctly

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 9

How to maintain your whirlpool tub

When remodeling bathrooms, some homeowners prefer to add special features that give the room a spa-like feel. A whirlpool tub is one such feature that can help transform an ordinary bathroom into a relaxing oasis. Whirlpool tubs have many benefits, which have helped the industry become a billiondollar business. Massage and water therapy can be instrumental in reducing stress and easing tired muscles. Some people depend on a soaking bath with rejuvenating water jet propulsion as part of a sports rehab regiment or to alleviate pain associated with arthritis. Whirlpool baths come in different dimensions and shapes to fit just about every bathroom. The common shapes include corner size, recessed, platform, or freestanding. Whirlpools can also be sized to fit two people or just one person. Many people prefer a corner style or a platform bath because they are easier to fit than most. Although the installation of an all-in-one whirlpool tub

may be similar to a standard bathtub, with the addition of electrical hookup, the maintenance of the tub is somewhat different. There are certain products that should be avoided when cleaning or using the whirlpool bath to prolong its life. * One of the plagues of any appliance that houses water is hard water. This can form scaling that may damage the internal components of the motor and water jets. Testing to see the hardness level of water may be a wise decision. This way a water softening system can be added to the home, which will also benefit when doing laundry or running the dishwasher. * Many whirlpool tubs list items that should not be used in the water while bathing. These may include sudsing bubble bath powders or scented oil additions, each of which may form a film inside of the system, causing it to malfunction. Be sure to read the users' manual prior to first use or before introducing anything foreign to the tub.

* Tubs will require routine cleaning as well. Use a dampened sponge to rub off any grime and other deposits that can form an unsightly ring around the tub. Some whirlpool manufacturers will list recommended products for cleaning.

Continued On Page 10

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

10 — OCTOBER 2011

In general, a mild, lowsuds formula or a diluted bleach-and-water solution will be effective for routine cleaning. * For tough grime, fill the tub just above the jets with water. Place about a capful of bleach into the water. Let the tub run for at least five minutes to agitate the solution. Let the water drain and then rinse out the whirlpool bath afterward. Bleach can also

kill bacteria and pathogens that may have been left behind in jet plumbing that did not completely drain out. Whirlpool baths can be a prized addition to a bathroom and add resale value to the home. However, a whirlpool can quickly become ineffective if not properly maintained and used.

Fall lawn care Painting is a job that requires preparation and the right equipment. Oftentimes homeowners are unsure about whether they need to use primer before painting or if just paint will do the trick. Although there are no firm rules, there are certain cases where one or the other will be

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adequate. Consider a room where the walls have been heavily stained, either by moisture infiltration, rust or another factor. Deep-set stains may bleed through regular paint, therefore a primer should be applied to help block and lockin the stain. When a room had previously been painted in a very dark color, like red or purple, a primer can help cover the color quickly without the need for multiple applications of regular paint. There also are specialized primers that can be used in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms that often contain a lot of moisture. These primers inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on painted surfaces. Primers also may be used on materials, such as metal or plastic, to help the colored paint stick to the surface of the item. If a room is only to be painted white or tinted slightly with color, then a primer alone can be used. Certain primers seal porous wall surfaces so they do not absorb paint, requiring more coats for coverage.

Rooms that are being painted that are already white and free of stains or other surface abnormalities may be painted sufficiently with just a coat of regular paint. If skipping primer, look for a high-quality, thick paint that boasts good coverage in one or two coats. There are new products today that offer primer and paint all in one combination. The jury is still out on the efficacy of these new items, but homeowners can experiment with these paints to see if they work for them. Keep in mind that the cost of a combination product may be more than traditional paint and primer.


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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 11

Is DIY a recipe for saving money? Many homeowners or renters wrestle with the question of whether to tackle a project as a do-it-yourself venture to save some money or simply leave it to a professional. Each situation is unique, but there are certain factors that must be considered regardless of a homeowner's particular situation. On the surface, a DIY task can seem a very good way to save some money. After all, a large percentage, sometimes as much as 50 percent, of the cost of hiring a contractor goes toward labor. For a DIY job with no such costs, the final financial tally can be substantially less. Although labor can be expensive, that cost is often justified. People who hire carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and the like are paying for the workers' experience. They're also paying with the expectation that the job will be done correctly. With jobs that require a building permit or must be done to specific code, the contractor often puts his reputation on the line and will be held accountable if the work doesn't meet requirements. That isn't to say an untrained individual can't tackle a specific job around the house. There are some guidelines that may make such projects go more smoothly and, as a result, more affordable. * Read up and learn as much as you can about the particular work to be done. It's easier to make mistakes if you do not know where to start.

* Talk to others who have also done the work. They may have some tips or advice that can save you time and money. You may also want to ask if they can help and show you the ropes. * Be sure to obtain all necessary permits before starting any work. Don't risk a fine for doing work without permits or having

work inspected. * When applying for permits, find out if there is a list of codespecific requirements that you can follow -- a cheat-sheet of sorts. It may list rated materials required and any techniques. See if you can speak to an inspector who will be visiting your property later on to find out what he or she looks for specifically. * You must feel confident with the endeavor. If you are unsure about anything, you may risk injury or make a significant mistake and be forced to hire someone to clean up your mess. * Consider reputable sources for information. While it's easy to go online and scour message boards for pointers on certain tasks, not all of the information is accurate. Trust only content from sources that are licensed or

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backed by certification in a certain area. These things being said, there are a number of DIY projects that regular people can try. Starting off small and building up as skills are developed are good ways to begin. For example: * Tile a small kitchen backsplash before tackling an entire bathroom shower enclosure or floor. * Build an outdoor potting stand before attempting furniture or cabinetry work in a main room of the house. * Change out a ceiling fan or lighting fixture before re-running electrical lines through the home. * Succeed in repairing a leaky drain pipe before taking on a more advanced plumbing issue. * Use regular painting techniques first before experimenting with a trendy faux finish or plaster application. There are many different things individuals can do themselves that stretch beyond routine

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

12 — OCTOBER 2011

Fall lawn care Warm-weather days will soon be a thing of the past and that means prepping the home and landscape for the arrival of winter weather. Even though it may be blanketed first by leaves and snow, lawns need treatment now to be sure they overwinter successfully. In fact, lawn experts say

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there is significant root growth that takes place during the winter -- growth homeowners won't necessarily see. People should continue to water their lawns throughout the autumn if there isn't significant rain and to aerate it as well. Applying a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen can help foster strong root growth. Also, keep up on removing leaves that have fallen. Not only will they stifle the lawn, but they may cause excessive moisture and mold to grow while inhibiting sunlight from reaching the grass as well. Before winter arrives, take the time to sow some grass seeds into the bald patches, if any. By late fall the lawn will stop taking up nutrients in preparation for winter.

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Color my home (MS) -- Show me the color! That's become one of the most common requests for homeowners in today's marketplace as people look to add more colorful features to their homes as part of remodeling and new construction projects. "A well-chosen color scheme for a home's exterior can bring out architectural details, downplay flaws and enhance the overall look of the home," says Kate Smith, president of Sensational Color. "I always recommend starting from the top down when considering the colors for a home. Start with the roof, work down to the siding, then consider the windows, entry door and trim." When offering color consultations on home exteriors, Smith begins with the roof. "Depending on the style of a home, as much as 40 percent or more of the visual you get when looking at a house is the roof," says Smith, a color consultant for DaVinci Roofscapes. "The more roof that is shown, the more important it is to allow the roof color to help define the home's style. "I'm a great fan of color blends for roofs, which you can easily find in polymer roofing products. When you select blends with different shades of a color or two in it, the entire roof seems to merge and unify the home exterior. This softens the roof visually and provides you with more longterm options for accent colors to 'pull out' from the roofing blend color." After determining a roof color, Smith will then look at the siding of the home to determine how the texture plays into the overall home's appeal. Fixed features like stone, brick and stucco need to be considered, along with

paint colors for some exteriors. Moving to the windows, Smith believes a growing trend for homeowners is to select energy-efficient vinyl framed windows with color exteriors to complement the overall look of a home's exterior. "There are product lines from Simonton Windows for both replacement and new construction windows and patio doors that offer unique color options such as Brick, Pine, Chocolate, Bronze, Cream and Driftwood," says Smith. "These frame colors, when matched with trim pieces such as crossheads, shutters and mouldings, create stunning accents. I've seen that urethane pieces from Fypon accept paint colors extremely well and can help to make the windows and doors more focal features of the home." Both garage and entry doors are also primary products that beg for color on a home's exterior. According to Smith, having a door that is painted in a bright, warm color can focus attention on the welcoming aspect of a home. "Generally, if a garage door is clearly visible from the street, it's best to blend its color to the siding and trim," says Smith. "When the garage is in line with

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the front door or behind the home, you can potentially add more color. But, keep in mind that you want the main entry door to 'pop' more than the garage, so reserve your key color push for that area of the home." One of the easiest ways to add color to the front door is to select an entryway especially designed for painting. The Classic-Craft Canvas Collection from ThermaTru features smooth, paintable surfaces on fiberglass doors with embossment details so that homeowners can select the paint color they wish to accent their energy-efficient entryway. "Color fascinates all of us, but some people are afraid to make a mistake by using the wrong colors," says Smith. "If you have a Colonial-style home with a blend of grays on a roof and white or cream siding, you can easily make the house details pop out with red window frames and a red front door. Or, you can have an Arts-and-Crafts style house with an Aberdeen blend of five neutral colors on the roof that flows down to a rustic wood siding. Deep green accents around the windows, trim and entry door would perfectly accent that type of home." Visit www.sensationalcolor.com for more insights into exterior colors for the home and to download the free "How to Pick the Perfect Colors for Your Home's Exterior" guide.


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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 13

Think "FRESH" when selecting roof colors

(MS) -- Thinking about a new roof for your home? Then think "FRESH." That's the advice national color expert Kate Smith recommends for homeowners considering a new roof. "The acronym FRESH stands for fixed features, regional colors, environment, style of home and historic colors," says Smith, president of Sensational Color. "Considering these five elements can help you select the perfect roof color." FRESH Approach * Fixed Features -- These are the permanent design elements of the home that need to be considered a constant feature of the house, such as the foundation, partial stone or brick facades, pathways and retaining walls. Each feature may be of a different material, but they usually will have a common color or color cast. Once you identify that common color, you can find a roof tile with a similar color or undertone that will work well for the overall home. For a home with slate tile walkway in shades of gray, Smith recommends a DaVinci Slate Castle Gray combination of three tones of gray in a slate blend. A predominantly white brick house may look best with a solid slate black Bellaforte roof ... or with a Milano blend of grays with a tinge of purple. * Regional Colors -- Each region of the country has prevalent colors based on the housing styles, available materials, natural surroundings and the quality of light. Determine the colors in your area (mostly those you see a great deal of on other homes) to stick with regional

colors. According to Smith, a southwestern style home in the desert may look best with a slate roof comprised of a Sonora blend of medium and dark terracotta colors gently mixed in with light and dark clay colors. Or, West Coast homeowners seeking the feel of real wooden shakes, but the advantages of fire-resistant polymer shakes, can benefit from an Abruzzo color blend of light, medium and

dark mountain tones. * Environment and Surroundings -- Is your home in a rural setting or a downtown? Are you near the waterfront, a desert or a mountain? Temper the colors to complement your surroundings and the natural colors around you. The goal is to stand out while still fitting in. Consider a Mountain blend of multi-width shake tiles that complement wooded settings or a Chesapeake blend of oceanfront grays for coastal area homes. * Style of the Home -- Remember that colors support the home's style and architecture, not the other way around. So, determine your home's style (are you a Ranch? Tudor? Art Deco? Greek Revival?) and then research to determine what col-

ors are most associated with your style of home. For a Craftsman style home, Smith recommends considering a natural looking shake roof in a New Cedar or Weathered Gray color. And, while you can't go wrong with an elegant solid black roof, she recommends softening the appeal of the roof by considering a combination of neutral tones, such as medium tan, dark gray and light stone to create a warmer roof appearance. * Historic Colors -- If you live in a historic district, check for local guidelines and/or restrictions on adding colors to your home. More traditional colors, such as whites, browns, and shades of blue and green, work well on historical homes. Match

them up with a Tahoe blend of shake roofing tiles with five varying shades of brown and you have a stunning house decor. Smith suggests "playing" online with the free DaVinci Color Design Program to determine the color roof that works best for your home. There are roofing colors and 28 standard color blends available at www.davinciroofscapes.com to make the roof color decision easy for everyone.

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

14 — OCTOBER 2011

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Customize your home to suit your lifestyle

(MS) -- Homeowners who opt to stay in their homes rather than buy new ones or those who need to real-

locate space to accommodate an extended family can create a "new" living environment tailored to their

tastes and needs with some wellplanned changes. Check out the following Woodcraft tips and tools to help you. Envision A New Look Give your entrance a fresh appearance by installing a new front door or painting the existing door. Update your home's interior with crown molding, chair rails and trim that reflect your tastes and give your living space a unique architectural look. Bring new life to your kitchen by replacing countertops and installing new cabinet hardware -or buying or building new cabinets.

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Explore Space Management Look for creative ways to make maximum use of space. Use shelving and modular storage units in closets, bathrooms and garages, and incorporate bookcases or decorative shelving -- builtin or free-standing -for more storage and a custom look in other rooms. If space is really cramped, consider removing a wall to create a larger, multiuse area or, if you live in a yearround warm climate, build an enclosed porch or deck to gain more living space. Listen To An Expert Veteran remodeling contractor Danny Lipford, host of Today's Homeowner (television) and Homefront with Danny Lipford (radio), offers the following advice: "If you are a beginner DIYer, start with modest

projects, and then move on to more ambitious tasks once you have the confidence and a little more experience. Also, do your research to choose the right tools for the job; it will minimize the frustrations." Then Round Up Some Tools & Supplies To Help!

Several user-friendly tools will make these projects easier. * The Rockwell BladeRunner is a portable, multipurpose precision cutter that utilizes any T-Shank jigsaw blades. The variable speed motor control and simple blade changing mechanism allow you to cut wood, metal, plastic, aluminum and ceramic tile. The 18-lb. tool can be operated on any benchtop surface or mounted to the wall (bracket included). * For quick and easy joinery, choose the Kreg Jig K4 Master Sys-

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tem that includes what you need to create strong pocket-hole joints with only a saw and drill. * The new Rockwell 3Rill 12V Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill -- a three-in-one cordless tool that functions as a drill driver, screwdriver or impact driver -- is another handy helper. Use it to drill holes in wood and metal, drive small screws with controlled torque, or fasten bolts or screws with high speed. * Kreg Crown-Pro Mitersaw Guide gives trim carpenters and DIY enthusiasts alike a fast and easy way to add beautiful crown molding to any room. The Crown-Pro works with molding up to 51/2" wide and is easy to use for inside and outside corners. * Tackle nearly any sanding task with a 5" or 6" lightweight (2 lbs.) Mirka Ceros Random-Orbital Sander, powered by a brushless DC motor that delivers controlled variable speeds from 4,000 to 10,000 RPMs for an ideal finish in a variety of applications. * Titebond Molding Glue is specially formulated for finish trim and carpentry, including crown molding, baseboards, and window casings. * For indoor projects, Waterlox Original and General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Clear Finishes are nearly goof-proof, provide superior results and age well. * General Finishes Milk Paint is a tough, durable premixed waterbased acrylic for both indoor and outdoor applications. Traditional milk paint colors produce a flat finish, but an overcoat can be applied to change the sheen. * OneTIME Wood, an exterior finish available in five colors, works for new wood or wood that has had a previous coating removed. * System Three Spar Varnish and Waterlox Marine Finish are exterior coatings suitable for extended duty. For more information about Woodcraft, contact the store nearest you, visit www.woodcraft.com or call (800) 535-4482.


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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

Free deck plans offer inspiration and beauty

(MS) -- Ever researched deck plans, only to find nothing fits your home just right? The design isn't right, it's too big for your home, it's too small for your home, it's too high off the ground, it's too low to the ground, you don't like the grill bump-out, the stairs are in the wrong place ... isn't there a deck out there that's perfect for YOUR home? Now there is. A brand-new series of free, inspirational deck plans entitled Destination: DECK is available online at www.realoutdoorliving.com. Featuring five deck plans ranging in side from a townhome to a two-story deck on a traditional home to a gorgeous standalone gazebo, there's a style and size to fit everyone's taste. Each of the five plans -- The Townhouse, The Stratford, The Colonial, The Islander and The Tranquility -- have their own informational page that includes free downloadable plans and a complete materials list. Additional deck plans will be added to the site in the coming months.

Customizable Deck Plans Love the decks -- but your backyard has a different layout than in the pictures? Not a problem! While the deck plans, as pictured, are free downloads, each plan can be customized for a very small fee. Simply choose a plan you like, then click through from the deck plan page to the designer, give them your home dimensions, and the designer will return deck plans perfect for your home at a fraction of the cost. Designed by Shawn Miller of Classic Designs Inc., in Denver, Colorado, and Bobby Parks of Peachtree Decks & Porches in Atlanta, Georgia, all of the deck designs offer interesting angles, bump-outs and unexpected features intended to inspire. Far from being typical rectangle decks on the back of a house, the Destination: DECK series of deck plans

offer style, elegance, creativity and personal touches. Build green? Choose real wood. Each of the decks in the Destination: DECK series was constructed using real, natural, authentic pressure-treated wood. The number-one decking material in the market and a long-time favorite of DIYers, builders and remodelers everywhere, wood is strong, durable, beautiful and environmentally friendly. Worried about trees, forests and the environment? A recent study concluded that pressure-treated wood is a better decking material choice for the environment than alternative decking materials. Why? * Wood decking production uses 8.5 times less energy than alternative decking production. * Wood decking production uses 14 times less fossil fuel than alternative decking production. * Wood decking emits 3 times less greenhouse gas during production than alternative decking. * Wood decking production creates 2 times less smog than alternative decking production. Additionally, wood from sustainably managed forests means that trees and wood will be around for generations to come -- after all, wood is a natural, renewable resource. The forest industry plants more trees than are harvested each year and our forests are in better shape than they were a century ago. Now is the time! Go online to www.realoutdoorliving.com and find your perfect deck. Then enjoy your beautiful, natural outdoor living space with your family and friends. For more information on real wood or to read the environmental impact study comparing wood to alternative decking, please visit www.realoutdoorliving.com.

OCTOBER 2011 — 15


16 — OCTOBER 2011

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

Fire extinguisher know-how Fire extinguishers are an important safety component in any home or building. They can mean the difference between a devastating fire or a minor incident. Although a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can be a life- and property-saving tool, many people are not properly skilled in the use of fire extinguishers. A large portion of the public has not received training on fire extinguisher use and when to use them. Sometimes the use of the wrong extinguisher can exacerbate a fire, as there are different fire extinguishers for different types of fires. Learning when and where to use an extinguisher can be a matter of life and death.

flammable liquids, such as oilbased paints or gasoline. Class C: These extinguishers are used on electrical equipment, such as tools or appliances that are plugged in. Class D: Commonly found in specific factories, these extinguishers are used on flammable metals. Class K: Combustible cooking materials, like animal oils and fats, can be extinguished with this agent. They are commonly found in commercial kitchens, but are now infiltrating residential markets as well. Multipurpose: Some extinguishers combine different agents so they are applicable for a range of fires.

Type of Extinguisher Not all fires are alike, and fires started from different materials require the use of different extinguishing agents to safely and quickly put the fire out. There are five different types of extinguishers, and generally each will feature a symbol to show the applicable fire on which they can be used. Class A: These are used on ordinary substances, like cloth, wood, paper, and plastics. Class B: These extinguishers are used on fires that feature

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher Small fires may be smothered with an extinguisher. If the fire has spread or is already large in size, it's likely only a trained firefighter can handle the blaze. Only use a fire extinguisher in these circumstances. 1. The fire is small and contained. 2. You have already called the fire department. 3. There is little chance of being consumed by toxic smoke. 4. You can escape safely if nec-

essary. 5. The fire is not between you and the escape route. 6. You are physically able to carry its weight and exert the necessary pressure to operate it. Fire extinguishers should be routinely inspected and maintained to ensure they will be effective. Some need to be shaken to keep the dry chemicals from settling. Others need to have the pressure at the correct level. An extinguisher may need to be recharged or replaced if it is damaged. Individuals can talk with firefighters about possible training courses in the use of fire extinguishers. This will help a person know the correct way to handle and activate an extinguisher should it need to be used.

Undermount sinks growing in popularity Undermount sinks are quickly becoming the most popular type of sink in today's kitchens, likely because undermount sinks usually go hand-inhand with solid-surface countertops. Since homeowners are choosing solid-surface materials, such as granite, quartz and even manufacturered stone for their kitchen counters, the need for an undermount sink becomes evident. Here's why: Undermount sinks create a seamless surface that works well with solid-surface countertops while maintaining the counter's aesthetic appeal. They are installed so the top of the sink is flush with the edge of the counter.

When solid-surface counters are cut to accommodate the sink, exact measurements are needed so that the hole is essentially custom made for the particular sink so it fits like a glove. Cutting hard materials is not easily done by a do-it-yourselfer. As a result, the project is often handled by the countertop manufacturer. Unlike undermount sinks, the alternative is a drop-in sink. These are traditional sinks that do not require an exact cut of the countertop material. That's because the sink has a lip that overhangs the counter and can cover up inexact holes.

Did You Know? Though ceiling fans are most associated with warm-weather seasons, most can be effective throughout the winter months as well, helping circulate warm air throughout a room in much the

same way they circulate cool air during the warmer weather. Most of today's fans have a switch near the motor housing that alters the direction in which the fan's blades turn. When a ceiling fan is used in the summer, its blades push the air downward, moving cool air around the room. The air blowing around the room is what cools people within the room. When the blades' direction is altered, the blades then push the air upward toward the ceiling. This drives the hot air, which typically rises to the top, down toward the edges of the room. This helps circulate warm air throughout a room, making for more even heating. What's more, this improved heat circulation helps combat window sweating that results from condensation on the glass when hot air is not effectively circulated throughout a home.


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Big box not necessarily best bet (MS) -- When buying anything from furniture to electronics, consumers are often inclined to turn to their nearby big box store as a first stop in comparison shopping. Although big box retailers do offer competitive prices, they may not be the best option for consumers trying to stay on budget or close to it. Boutique shops, local merchants and independent online retailers, such as StudentMarket.com, an established retailer of budget-approved furniture and home goods, often offer competitive prices and better overall service than bigger chains. Good Things Come in Smaller Packages Price is a major factor in where people shop. Millions of people turn to big box retailers thinking they will get the best prices, but a little research can yield other findings. While some bigger chains may offer doorbuster sales luring customers in with the "item du jour," in general, prices on most everyday items are the same or higher than other retailers. All it takes is an online comparison of a certain product to show the similarity in pricing. According to University of Utah assistant marketing professors Arul and Himanshu Mishra, it's common to find similar pricing on most items in many big box stores. Therefore, these retailers use big-ticket items to attract customers, who then just stay in the store to get the remaining highermargin items and accessories on their lists. Shopping in smaller stores or independent online retailers also may be preferable to many consumers. The trend is to revitalize "Main Street America" by shopping smaller retailers and Mom & Pop establishments. Some compa-

nies actually offer incentives to do so. During the 2010 holiday season, American Express credited a portion of customers' accounts on items purchased at small businesses on the Saturday after Black Friday. There is a new initiative to rename that day "Small Business Saturday" in an effort to encourage more consumers to shop small businesses, specialty and boutique retailers. Better Service, Low Prices Many shoppers, particularly younger shoppers with less disposable income, are under the mistaken impression that big box retailers are the best way to shop due to widespread advertising by these retail giants. This type of shopping, however, could come at the expense of poor customer service or limited selection. Many independent retailers, including StudentMarket.com, offer price matching to remain competitive with the larger merchants in the area, and it's hard to beat independent retailers on customer service or the availability of a wide selection of distinct items. StudentMarket.com offers many of the features and online influences shoppers desire when looking for furniture to outfit dorms, apartments and homes. The company understands that younger shoppers have different needs from older consumers, therefore pricing and selection remains competitive with many other retailers. What's more, the company caters to shoppers at all stages in their lives. It offers everything from a college student's first desk to a homeowner's formal dining room set. To save consumers time and money, the company scours several competing retailers to make sure their prices offer extra value

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above and beyond low prices. If a shopper sees an item for less, StudentMarket.com can get them a better deal almost every time. Plus, the site has helpful tools that allow shoppers to customize product results by size, material, theme, and many other desires. "Consumers are extremely focused on getting the best value, as well as having access to informative product reviews," said Oren Milgram, President of StudentMarket.com. "Multiple online images, the ability to zoom in to see detail, a variety of flexible payment options, and a consumerfriendly return policy are just a few of the many other benefits of shopping this site." What sets StudentMarket.com and other smaller retailers apart from big box retailers is their dedication to service and providing customers with extensive product information, including customer product reviews, to help them make an informed decision. The company offers knowledgeable product specialists based in the U.S. that can help shoppers find just what they're looking for. The site offers a diversity of merchandise that generally surpasses big box retailers. Continued On Page 18

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Smaller Crowds and Fewer Hassles Another advantage to shopping smaller retailers or even online is that shoppers don't have to drive long distances, fight crowds, en-

dure long lines, or hunt for parking spots, making for a stress-free shopping experience that's also smart from an environmental standpoint. Because of a more specialized

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selection, dedicated product specialists also may be more knowledgeable about the stock and functionality of certain items. Local Gives More Back A September 2009 study in Civic Economics titled "Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the Local Economy," reviewed financial data from 15 locally owned businesses in New Orleans and compared these stores' impact on the local economy to that of an average SuperTarget(R) store. The study found that only 16 percent of the money spent at a SuperTarget stays in the local economy. In contrast, the local retailers returned more than 32 percent of their revenue to the local economy. In many cases, local businesses also shop local, equipping their stores and building their Web sites with resources from other local companies. For example, through various affiliations, StudentMarket.com supports many U.S.-based furniture businesses, including several North Carolina furniture manufacturers. This means more money is being kept in the neighborhood and in the country. Customers who normally lean toward bigger retailers may want to experience the benefits of shopping outside the box. To learn more about finding furniture that offers comfort and style, visit www.StudentMarket.com.

Home improvement tips:

Air-tight insulation delivers big returns (MS) -- Household energy-efficiency is now more important than ever when selling a home. Purchasers are able to rate one residence against another, so if you want top dollar for your house some day, it's worth investing along these lines with upgrades and renovations. "If adding rooms or finishing the basement, for example, take a look at the most energy efficient materials and methods," says Todd Blyth at Nudura, a company that has spearheaded an advanced version of the insulated concrete form (ICF), as well as do-it-yourself materials. "The newest renovation method, called Nudura Insulation Technology, is ideal to insulate foundation walls, inner and outer walls, plus flat, or cathedral ceilings. "For both interior and exterior walls, you use a shiplap system of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which allows large 4 X 8 foot sheets of this foam to be installed without any gaps for air leakage. It's easy to cut,

easy to install, and the performance value is up to R-14. Drywall can then be attached directly to the embedded fastening strip allowing the electrical wiring to be easily run." Occupant comfort

Residential enjoyment is also top-of-mind in our choice of renovation fixtures, features and materials. Superior insulation will reduce home heating costs and it will also prevent excessive noise, drafts, and unexpected cold spots from room to room. In response to energy conservation, environmental responsibility and consumer demand, construction practises have advanced significantly in North America over the past few years. Today, for example, people are building their homes with insulated concrete forms, not wood, and very recently, similar eco-efficiency possible (www.nudura.com) for home renovations.

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 19

Eco-building tips: Net-zero is here Renovation quick tip:

(MS) -- Expect to hear 'net zero' more often in energy convern sations. It is now possible to build d a facility -- even a home -- that is l so energy efficient it produces zero demand on the public electricity supply. Earlier in the year, a construction team dedicated to this kind of breakthrough opened the netzero, Richardsville Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky. "All combined, the energy performance of this school is expected to surpass all expectations," says Todd Blyth, marketing manager at Nudura, the manufacturers of an advanced version of the insulated concrete form (ICF) used in the plan. "In addition to replacing wood with our rock-solid walls, the rooftop solar panels cover 38,700 square feet and provide all h of the school's electricity needs." Blyth expects more and more buildings and houses of the future to aim at net-zero. It starts with the initial materials and a "building envelope" that provides maximum insulation. "Richardsville Elementary sets a standard that can be applied to homebuilding, too," Blyth continued. "If, at the outset, decisions are made carefully regarding the walls, windows, roofing, water management, ventilation and indoor climate control, you

are well on your way to completely offsetting the family energy consumption." If you'd like your own house building to aim for net-zero, take a look at some of the most important components: * Solar panels on the roof with an electricity grid. * Geothermal heating and cooling. * Walls of concrete, not wood. The Nudura system is comprised of stay-in-place, pre-assembled blocks, steel reinforced, and then filled with concrete. It replaces traditional building methods. The durability and energy efficiency of concrete has shown to reduce energy costs up to 70 percent. Better still, the entire structure (www.nudura.com) is reported to be stronger, provide greater fire protection and with far more sound insulation. * CO2 monitoring system for ventilation. It keeps good air quality indoors and allows no more outdoor air than necessary. * North-south positioning delivers prolonged day lighting, without glare. All artificial lighting is off during 70 percent of school hours. * Wireless computers. The lab utilizes five carts, each loaded with 30 laptops saving energy, wiring and construction. Laptops use a fraction of the energy used to run a typical desktop computer. * Food preparation is energy-efficient. School kitchens typically use as much as 25 percent of a school's electricity.

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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

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How going green can help you save dollars and sen$e (MS) -- By Mary Carson Do you actually know what a "green product" means? Everywhere you look the advertising is catering to environmentally conscious consumers. I think most will agree that the word "Green," when used to describe a product on the market, has taken on the connotation of an environmental political marketing adjective. In other words, the manufacturers and distributors of these products are appealing to the environmentally astute

consumer. Consequently, this is causing much confusion in the market place and may be hurting products that are not advertised as being green. Today, media advertising is quick to call a product "green." But what does the manufacturer mean when labeling a product "green"? Some folks believe that the materials used in the product are rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, cork, woods, grasses, etc. Others believe that the products may be biodegradable and that their substance

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should break down into carbon dioxide, water and natural materials that do not harm the ecosystem. Still others believe that any energy efficient product is a green product. Less energy usage in a home or business seems to be high on the list of green products. Since there is no governing body that polices the green marketing arena, the Consumer's Union is starting to evaluate environmental labels and looking at the certification organizations that may be developing these labels. I asked my daughter to describe a green product and she said that the word implies that a product is doing something good to, or for, the environment and it uses less energy by being energy efficient, thus saving money on monthly utility bills. She also said that the factory where the product is manufactured may be a site that is certified as being green or LEED rated. If all consumers were so knowledgeable that about being green, this article would not be necessary. However, since most consumers are left to their best judgment when trying to decide which product or appliance is green, this article will try to explain why heating your home with a hydronic heating system is as green as it gets! * First, lets looks at the

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medium used in moving the heat throughout the home; it is water, and not moving air. The water is heated in a high efficiency boiler (many of which have efficiencies up to 98 percent) and a pump pushes the hot water throughout the home or business to the various delivery systems. This system may consist of radiant heat (pipes in the floor, ceiling, walls, driveways), radiators, and/or baseboard units. * ENERGYSTAR(R) is recognized by most Americans and signifies that the product is one of 35 categories and has been given the ENERGYSTAR(R) product label. * The pumps and valves that are used throughout the home to carry the hot water to all zones use energy, which also adds to the efficiency ratio. The hot water delivery system is hygienic and does not distribute particulates, dust and mites. * The fuel that is being used by the systems can be oil, natural gas, propane or electricity. If natural gas is used, there is only one carbon footprint. This is because only one burner is necessary to heat the home and to heat the potable water. Across the United States, most homes have two burners: one for the hot water heater and another for the furnace. Hydronic heating systems only require one and with the new technology today, some are using modulating burners that modulate smoothly instead of simply turning on and off. During the heating season they stay on and modulate from low to high when the heat is called for, thus saving money. * Now let's look at the manufacturing plants where the heating systems are made. Some of the companies are now LEED certified, indicating this system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for rating the environmental advantages in

commercial structures. Some of the corporate employees are also certified as an LEED rater. * With the introduction of LEED, Green Homes and Green Buildings, there is an up-front premium to pay for the home. Because of the various levels of each rating system, it is difficult to compare a typical home built to today's building codes and a "totally green home." Some estimates range between $2,000 and $10,000 but can go higher because of the volatility of the costs of materials. However, the savings from the energy efficiency of the home shell, windows, insulation and appliances will more than recoup that cost over the life of the home. In their Naturally Green -- Green Builder Program, the American Gas Association recognizes the high efficiencies of hydronic heating systems and credits the builder and homeowner with higher points for certification as a Natural Gas Green Home. The environmental movement has taken hold in the U.S. and consumers have the opportunity to buy products that are truly green by the standards that exist today. They now have the educational resources to assist them in determining what level of green is best for their pocketbook and lifestyle. Mary Carson is program director of the Hydronics Industry Alliance and retired from the American Gas Association and can be reached at myhomeheating@verizon.net. References: NAHB Green Builder Guidelines; AGA Naturally GreenGreen Builder Program: Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition); University of Louisville web Site http://louisville.edu/purchasing/s ustainability/keygreendefinitions.html.


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Lawn care tips for first-time homeowners

First-time homeowners can be overwhelmed at the responsibility that comes with home ownership. While some of those responsibilities can be stressful, others can prove therapeutic. Many homeowners find caring for their lawns to be an enjoyable hobby that helps relieve stress. Time spent outdoors in the warm sun helps improve mood, and a lush lawn and garden can instill a sense of pride in homeowners. First-time homeowners with no history of caring for a lawn can still turn their lawn into a lush oasis to be proud of.

Start With the Soil Soil is the foundation for any good lawn or garden. Healthy soil will result in healthy plants and vegetables. Unfortunately, not all homeowners are lawncare enthusiasts, and first-time homeowners might discover their lawn sand gardens need lots of work. That work should begin with a soil test. Do-ityourself soil kits are available at most major home improvement and lawn and garden centers. For those who prefer to trust a professional, the United States Department of Agriculture has Cooperative Extension

System offices in every state and U.S. territory. Such offices provide valuable information to homeowners, and many even provide free or low-cost soil tests. These tests can help homeowners learn more about their soil and what, if anything, they need to do improve its health. Find the Right Grass Some lawns might be an eyesore because the grass is not the right type of grass for that particular region. If a grass is not a good fit for the region and local climate, it likely won't thrive or will require considerable and often costly maintenance to stay lush. Bermuda and tall fescue grasses are popular options in many areas of North America, but it's still best to consult a lawncare professional to determine which grass is best for a given region. Learn the ins and outs of caring for the grass, including which types of seed and fertilizer are the best fit, as well as the recommended watering guidelines. Plant Properly Planting new grass might seem like a big undertaking, but

it's actually quite easy, even for first-time homeowners. Once a person has determined the correct type of grass to install, planting is much more simple that one might think. * Aerate the soil. Soil compaction is a problem for many homeowners. Heavy usage often compacts the soil, making it very difficult for the lawn to hold oxygen and water that roots need to grow and absorb valuable nutrients. Aerating increases nutrient, oxygen and water movement into the soil, improving rooting and controlling thatch buildup. Hand aerators might prove effective on smaller lawns, but most lawns would benefit from a core aeration machine. For first-time homeowners, it might be best to enlist the services of a professional the first time aeration is done to learn the process. * Spread seed evenly. Grass seed should be spread evenly over all tilled areas. Spreading can be done by hand or by using a seed spreader. * Add a light layer of soil over the seed. Once the seed has been spread, cover the seeded areas with a light layer of soil. Some soils are treated, and these treated soils provide

nutrients that encourage growth. * Water well but don't overdo it. The soil around the seed should be moist until the grass has grown in to its desired height. However, avoid overwatering, which can drown the seed and make new grass growth impossible. Fertilize Fertilizer is a friend to lawns, providing the nutrients a lawn needs to grow in thick. When fertilizing, use a spreader. The type of spreader is up to the homeowners, but know that drop spreaders, which drop the fertilizer directly below the spreader, tend to be more accurate but take more time, while broadcast spreaders, which drop fertilizer in a pattern away from the spreader, are less accurate but cover large areas in a much shorter period of time. Avoid fertilizing the same area twice, and be patient. Fertilizing might seem like a tedious process, but if done correctly, it should lead to a lush lawn. When fertilizing, it's best to do so during the fall and spring. The exact time to fertilize depends on the region, but it's generally best to fertilize be-

tween April and early June, and then in the fall between late September and early November. When it comes to lawn care, first- time homeowners should not be intimidated by this sudden responsibility. Caring for a lawn can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby.


FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

22 — OCTOBER 2011

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Strike a pose for better sleep

Health experts have long been professing the "back is best"mantra to new parents. As it turns out, the back also may be best for adults. Placing an infant to sleep on his or her back is essential to reducing the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and has been part of the advice given to new parents for decades. Sleeping on one's back can also be ideal for improving the health of older children and adults, offer sleep experts. Misalignment of the body during sleep can put strain on different areas of the body, most especially the spine, neck, shoulder, hips and jaw. Stressing these areas can affect how you feel the next day. People who cannot find a comfortable sleeping position also may have trouble drifting off to sleep in the first place. Although mattress and pillow comfort, room temperature, noise levels, and the level of darkness play a large role in getting a good night's sleep, sleep position can also help or hinder the quality of sleep. Sleeping on the back is the preferred position if a person wants to improve personal health. The advantages to resting on the back are numerous. Sleeping on your back enables the spine, head and neck to remain in a neutral position, alleviating or preventing strain on these areas of the body. Those with acid reflux may find sleeping on their backs helps reduce symptoms, especially if the head

tions cause the body to be curved in unnatural shapes that can strain the spine and neck. Arthritic people may be in agony the next day. Although people spend significant portions of their lives asleep, few give sleep much thought until it becomes a problem in their lives. The Better Sleep Council says sleep is essential to health, and people should strive to get 7.5 hours of sleep every day. There are tips for promoting better sleep, which include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding eating or exercising close to bedtime, and reducing factors that diminish one's ability to fall asleep. Choosing a more healthy sleep position can be one of the things people do to get a better night's sleep.

is slightly elevated with a fluffy pillow. Back sleeping is also good for preventing premature wrinkling. That's because nothing -- like a pillow or mattress -- is pressing up against the face for a long period of time. Some medical experts also say that sleeping on the back supports a woman's breasts. Sleeping on the back is not good for everyone, however. Heavy snorers or people who suffer from sleep apnea should avoid this position because the tongue can fall inwards and block the breathing passage. It isn't adviseable for pregnant women to sleep on their backs, either. This is because the weight of the uterus when lying on the back is placed on a large blood vessel called the inferior vena cava, reducing the flow of blood back to the heart. This in turn may staunch blood flow to the fetus. It is best for pregnant women to sleep on their left sides, or at least place a pillow under the right hip to slightly angle the body toward

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Though ceiling fans are most associated with warm-weather seasons, most can be effective throughout the winter months as well, helping circulate warm air throughout a room in much the same way they circulate cool air during the warmer weather. Most of today's fans have a switch near the motor housing that alters the direction in which the fan's blades turn. When a ceiling fan is used in the summer, its blades push the air downward, moving cool air around the room. The air blowing around the room is what cools people within the room. When the blades' direction is altered, the blades then push the air upward toward the ceiling. This drives the hot air, which typically rises to the top, down toward the edges of the room. This helps circulate warm air throughout a room, making for more even heating. What's more, this improved heat circulation helps combat window sweating that results from condensation on the glass when hot air is not effectively circulated throughout a home.


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FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT

OCTOBER 2011 — 23

Easy ways to winterize your home Invest in your roof

When summer draws to a close and autumn arrives, homeowners must place a precedent on readying their homes for the winter months. Often referred to as "winterizing," the process is meant to ensure a home can withstand harsh winter weather while proving a safe haven from the elements. As autumn arrives, homeowners can take several steps to get their homes ready for whatever winter has to offer with the following tasks. * Fix the leaks. A leaky home will prove an expensive home during the winter months. A home with many leaks will be much colder to inhabit, and homeowners typically turn up the heat to counter drafts that can make a home feel like a meat locker. But turning up the thermostat isn't the answer. Instead, fix leaks in the fall before the cold weather arrives. Leaks should not be very hard to find. On the first breezy autumn afternoon, walk around the house in search of any drafty areas. These drafts will be noticeable and often occur around doors and window frames, electrical outlets and even recessed lighting. Homeowners have a host of options at their disposal to plug leaks, be it door sweeps that block air from entering under exterior doors to caulk applied around leaky windows. When using caulk outdoors, be sure to use a weather-resistant caulk or, if sealing brick, use masonry sealer. * Add insulation upstairs. Homeowners who have an attic in their homes might want to consider adding some insulation up there. Experts recommend a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in the attic. That might prove costly, but a poorly insulated attic is akin to opening the front door and letting the heat out. It might be

best for less-than-handy homeowners to hire a professional to insulate the attic. But do-ityourselfers might find it good to know that if the ceiling joists, which are often 11 inches or less, are visible, then the attic is in need of additional insulation. Such joists won't be visible in an adequately insulated attic. * Put up the storm windows. It's nice to open the windows in the spring and summer and let the warm air waft in through the screens. But when summer is over, it's time to put up the storm windows once again. Storm windows add an extra layer of protection from the elements and are especially valuable in homes with single-pane glass windows. Homeowners who don't have storm windows should consider upgrading their existing windows. Such a project isn't cheap, but newer windows will almost certainly lead to lower heating costs, meaning the project will essentially pay for itself over time. Homeowners who can't afford to replace all of their windows don't have to replace them all at once. Instead, replace them a few at a

time and make the rooms where you spend the most time each winter the first on the list to receive new windows. * Be diligent with the gutters. Leaves falling from trees is an idyllic image associated primarily with autumn. Unfortunately, when leaves fall they often fall into the gutters. Routinely clean the gutters once the leaves start to fall. Clean gutters will allow snow and rain to effectively drain through the gutters. If the gutters are clogged, snow might have nowhere to go when it begins to melt, and roof damage might result. Such damage is costly but preventable in most instances. One of the easier preventive measures to take is to routinely clean the gutters of leaves and other debris that accumulate during the fall. When cleaning the gutters, make sure they are properly aligned. Poorly aligned gutters can lead to a host of problems. One such problem is flooding. If downspouts are not properly aligned with the rest of the gutters, then water might not be directed away from the home as it's intended. Instead, water might be directed toward the home, resulting in flooding or additional water damage. * Have the furnace cleaned. Experts recommend annual furnace cleanings. Before cold weather arrives, turn the furnace on to make sure it's still working. An unpleasant odor should appear when first turning on the furnace, but it shouldn't last very long. If the odor sticks around, turn the furnace off and call a professional. Once winter arrives, routinely replace the filters. This makes the furnace operate more efficiently and can also reduce the risk of fire.

(MS) -- If your asphalt shingles are curling or your wooden cedar shake shingles have rotted out, it's time to look for a new roof. This major home improvement investment requires research and an understanding of roofing material options to make the best selection for your home. "There's only one type of roof I know of that is backed by a 50-year warranty and helps you save on homeowner's insurance, and that's synthetic slate and shake roofing tiles," says Mark Clement, host of MyFixItUpLife.com radio show and website. "My own home is 100+ years old, so when it was time to replace our shingles, I researched every option available. "The DaVinci slate roofing tiles I installed look better than natural slate tiles. The look is so realistic that people pass by and can't tell the difference between them and real slate. They always bet me that these are real slate shingles. I come up a winner every time with these eco-friendly roofing tiles." As Clement discovered, synthetic roofing tiles have many advantages over asphalt shingles, cement tiles and even real slate. "I appreciate the thickness and realistic look of the synthetic classic slate for our home's style, but I could just have easily chosen the Bellaforte snap-fit synthetic slate," says

Clement. "Both are made from 100 percent pure resins and have colors and pigments infused throughout each tile. The idea that I could get a custom color to match my exterior really got my attention." While the professional contractor chose to install synthetic slate tiles, the cedar shake style also caught his attention. "Testing shows that DaVinci shake roofing tiles last two to four times longer than real cedar shakes," says Clement. "They offer superior impact performance and maintain fire resistance over the entire product life cycle as opposed to their wood counterparts. Given that type of protection for the home, I can't see why anyone would select a real wood product that is subject to damaging weather conditions, insects and rot." The recyclable synthetic roofing tiles are environmentally-friendly and can be requested in EcoBlend colors that actually help make the home more energy efficient. The award-winning EcoBlend products have been rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) to reflect sunlight and heat away from the home. For more information, visit www.davinciroofscapes.com or www.myfixituplife.com.

ELIMINATE HIGH HEATING BILLS! 3200

Outdoor WoodGasificationFurnace

• Heat entire home, multiple buildings, water and more with safe, comfortable heat.* • Adapts easily to new or existing heating systems. • E-Classic 3200 is 97% efficient and EPA Phase 2 Qualified. About 90% less emissions than unqualified models. *Furnace and system must be properly sized and installed.

Find the

2011E-01

3200 and more at:

West Prairie Hearths @ Yoder

Gazebos

1 Mile South of Arthur, IL

217-543-3624



Fall Home Improvement 2011