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2011

Spring HOME IMPROVEMENT

Morning Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011 Star Publications Inc. Š2011 1


Spring

HOME IMPROVEMENT 4 6 8 10 2

Smartest Improvement? A Safety Renovation

Construction Quick Tip: Future homes will create an entire energy supply Time-saving tools for household chores Growing citrus indoors

12 14 16 17 19

Top home-repair blunders to avoid Planning an outdoor oasis Great enhancer paint projects

Decorative options for driveways Wood Staining 101

Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011


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Smartest Improvement? A Safety Renovation Installing a new roof, updating a kitchen, adding another room to a home -- these are the things that come to mind when one thinks of a home-improvement project. However, what good are these improvements if you don't also renovate the way you think about safety in the home? A safety hazard can quickly escalate and ruin all of your hard work. According to recent accident statistics from the National Safety Council, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and other advocacy groups, approximately 45 percent of unintentional injury deaths occurred in and around the home. Unintentional home injury deaths to children are caused primarily by fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, firearms, falls, choking, and poisoning. It is important to keep safety in mind with everything you do as a homeowner. Therefore, take the time to assess these areas of potential concern as part of any homeimprovement plans:

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u Periodically check your hot water tank, washing machine, dishwasher, and refrigerator icemaker to see if they are secure and leak-free. u Keep supplemental heating sources, such as woodburning stoves, or kerosene, propane or electrical heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable items including draperies and clothing. u Don't store flammable items, or just about anything too close to furnaces or hot water tanks. u Carefully monitor the electrical system for shorts and sparks. Do not run cords under rugs or heavy furniture, and do not overload electrical outlets. u Keep chemical cleaning products, home-repair items, like paint and mineral spirits, and tools under lock and key or out of reach of children. u Do not store combustible materials like newspapers and rags in the basement or garage. u Burn only dry, seasoned hardwood in your fireplace,

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Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011


and regularly have the chimney inspected and cleaned. u Install a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on every floor of the home. u Inspect surrounding trees and cut down any dead limbs. If a tree doesn't seem sound to you, bring in an expert tree service to remove it. You don't want a tree crashing down during a powerful storm. u Make sure steps, both indoors and outdoors, are level and intact. Install better lighting at entryways to improve safety. u Install a safety fence around a pool with a locked gate.

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Construction Quick Tip: Future homes will create an entire energy supply Housing and energy experts call the goal 'net zero'. It represents the amount of energy that future homes will tap from public utilities. That amount is none. “Due to premium construction efficiency and generating abilities, experiments are already proving it can be done,” says Todd Blyth at Nudura, a leading manufacturer of advanced concrete wall forms. “Even now, the individual materials you choose can make a big difference to the overall efficiency,” Blyth continued. “If you want the highest performance, be sure to pay close attention to decisions for the walls, windows, roofing, ventilation and indoor climate control. Those features in particular assist in the goal to com-

pletely offset energy consumption.” The top-tier Nudura walls are a case in point, where interlocking concrete forms are replacing the traditional wood frame method. “The system,” explains Blyth, “consists of pre-assembled panels, each one stacked, reinforced, and then filled with concrete. Once locked together the system creates a solid, monolithic wall reported to be up to nine times stronger, with far more fire protection and with far more sound insulation.” This feature - alongside solar generation, geothermal heating, cooling plus the use of natural light - are just a few of the net-zero features on a very close horizon.

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Time-saving tools for household chores Family Features

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rom yard work and pest control to cleaning and taking care of home systems, there’s a lot that goes into maintaining a house. Everything Home offers practical tips and expert know-how to help anyone take good care of their home.

Having a clean and tidy home is a high priority for many people, but so is having time for fun and relaxation. Cleaning can take a lot of time, but there are some handy tools that can cut down on how long it takes to get that satisfying clean. “If you have a plan of attack, and then equip yourself with a few time-saving tools, you really can get your house clean in a lot less time,” said Debra Johnson, training manager at Merry Maids, a nationwide cleaning company. Here are Johnson’s five house cleaning “must-have” tools for saving time while getting the job done right:

u A 50-foot heavy-duty extension cord. This lets you plug in the vacuum cleaner once, instead of having to lug it around to different outlets. u A sturdy step ladder. Having a two- or three-foot step ladder lets you get to those hard to reach areas, like air vents near the ceiling, light fixtures and the highest shelves. u A cleaning caddy. A portable tool caddy lets you keep most of what you need right at hand. Stock it with a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner, oil soap for wood surfaces, nonabrasive cleanser, microfiber cloths for dusting, paper towels, sponges, latex gloves to protect your hands, and a squeegee for windows, mirrors and tub and shower doors. You may want to get a caddy for each floor of your home and stock them with appropriate cleaning supplies.

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u A sturdy carpenter’s apron. These handy canvas aprons have multiple pockets that can hold additional items, such as old toothbrushes for cleaning grout and hard-to-reach areas, a widget (a small tool with a blade for removing stubborn dirt), and dryer sheets for cleaning mini blinds and computer and TV monitors. u A steamer. Cleaning with steam lets you clean and deodorize multiple surfaces around the house. Johnson says that steam is quick and powerful, and since you’re only using water, you eliminate the need for using products. You can get a handheld steamer for smaller jobs, or an upright version for tackling floors. If you have hardwood floors, make sure the model you have is made for cleaning sealed floors.

Before you put your cleaning tools away after each clean, Johnson says it’s a good idea to make sure they’re ready for the next cleaning session. “Make sure your spray bottles have enough cleaner in them, and that your brushes, sponges and wipes are clean, dry and ready to go. That way, when it comes time to clean again, you can just grab your tools and get started. And the quicker you can start, the quicker you can get done.”

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Growing citrus indoors Family Features

good size, Walk into a greenhouse in winter and and your nose will likely pick up a plastic sweet scent, and if you follow your and nose you're likely to come upon a faux plant with miniature orange or yelclay pots low fruit and delicate white flowers in the 30- to - a citrus tree. With edible fruit and 36-inch-diameter fragrant flowers for months on end, Keep range work well, an indoor potted citrus tree is a dethe soil moist too. Whatever you light. Here are some tips for keeping by soaking the choose, make sure one healthy and productive. rootball thoroughly it has good drainage; If you hope to harvest fruit, until water drains out the choose a naturally acidic citrus, not a drill extra holes if you're in bottom into the saucer beneath. sweet orange or grapefruit. Examples doubt. To prevent soil from washWater again when the top 2 to 3 inching out, cover drain holes with small of acidic varieties include 'Improved es of soil are dry. In some situations, Meyer' and 'Ponderosa' lemons, cala- sections of window screen, but don't water will drain out the bottom of the cover the holes with stones. Use a mondins, and kumquats. These are pot without soaking the rootball. This premixed sterile potting soil designed happens when the rootball dries and most likely to produce fruit indoors for container plants. in winter. Other citrus varieties will shrinks slightly, pulling away from grow and flower but they are less likely to produce fruit. Our homes in winter are darker and warmer, 302-398-8858 and have much drier air Visit our Showroom! Drive a little ~ Save a lot! than outdoors. So anything Since 1947 15152 S. Dupont Hwy. Year Round you can do to provide Harrington, DE 19952 “We’ve Got You Covered!” additional light and extra humidity is beneficial. Patio Covers We Come Keep your citrus near a To You! sunny window and use a These aluminum Patio Covers complete your deck or patio while room humidifier, if poskeeping you sible. Cool, bright rooms, out of the sun! ON-SITE such as a partially heated ESTIMATES sunroom, are best. With coupon. Choose a pot about the Awnings Offering versatility while keeping Expires 5/15/11 size of a 15-gallon nursery Custom the sun at bay when you need to! Door Hood & container. The ubiquitous Window Awning Aluminum or Fabric - Add this finishing touch to your home or office. half whiskey barrel is a Choose from various colors and styles.

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Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011


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the edges of the container. The water moves down the gap without rewetting the roots. To help rewet the dried rootball, place three or four drops of a mild dish soap on it. The soap will help the water soak in so the rootball can expand to fill the container again. Citrus need regular fertilization to promote flowering and fruiting. You can use a controlled-release fertilizer or a soluble liquid fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers generally provide more exacting control but also require more frequent applications, every other week or so. In either case, follow the directions on the label. More than most plants, citrus are prone to deficiencies of the micronutrients iron, manganese, and zinc. Inadequate amounts of any one of them will cause leaves to yellow while veins remain green. Look for them in the chelated form, which makes the micronutrients more accessible to citrus roots. The best time is in early spring just as new leaves are beginning to emerge.

It’s the season for sortin g and reducing items in your ho me or office that have turned into clu tter. Instead of making a bee line for the garbage pail, sort items that are stil l useful and in good condition int o piles that you can sell. Take advant age of the first warm weekend to ho ld a yard sale and make some mo ney. If you don’t want to spend a day manning a yard sale table, you can place advertisements for your belongings in the Seaford and Laurel Star classified section.

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Top home-repair blunders to avoid

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ome improvement projects seem to drum up images of shyster contractors or bumbling do-it-yourselfers. However, home repairs don't have to turn into an unorganized mess. By avoiding some common mistakes and taking common-sense precautions, you can end up with renovations that wow.

1. Accepting the lowest bid. Smart homeowners shop around for everything --including work done on their home. But accepting the lowest bid right off the bat to save money may cost you more in the long run. A low bid certainly may be a great deal. But generally it could be a sign of an inexperienced contractor, or one who plans to use subpar materials or skimp on the job. Contractors will have similar prices. Shop based on experience and recommendations, not

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price alone. 2. Choosing friends and family. There certainly are skilled professionals that also may be a close friend or family member. But mixing business and pleasure could be a recipe for trouble, especially when workmanship and an exchange of money are involved. "We had a friend replace our home's furnace," says Beth in Pennsylvania. "While we got a great price, we found out later on when there was a glitch in the system that certain things weren't done up to code. We had to spend more money to have it repaired, and the friendship has since suffered." Some relatives are adamant about doing repairs but they may not be skilled or know the correct laws governing remodeling. Stick with a third party contractor with whom you'll feel comfortable talking if you feel repairs need to be done a certain way. 3. Thinking you can handle it. Many do-it-your-

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selfers (generally in an attempt to save money) believe they can learn every DIY task from a book or magazine. There are some jobs, however, that should be left to the professionals, including major plumbing work or electrical repairs. There's no need to risk a fire, injury or death by doing inexperienced electrical modifications. 4. Letting maintenance slide. Many homeowners think once the repair is made that they're all set --failing to keep up with routine maintenance. But complications can arise by not maintaining a new appliance or keeping up with an improvement. "Our homeowner's association required proof that the dryer venting for our clothes dryer was replaced on an annual basis," offers Bill in California. "I'd simply go out and buy a new box of the venting material and submit the receipt as 'proof' so I could save the money on a professional installation. But one day the lint trapped in the venting, which Ihadn't bothered to change, caught on fire. It not only damaged the venting, it damaged the entire dryer --resulting in the purchase of a new dryer. Luckily no one was hurt. I've since learned my lesson."

5. Following every trend. Anyone who has a harvest gold or avocado green appliance collecting dust in the garage or basement knows how interior style choices come and go. Instead of jumping on every trend (granite countertops and stainless steel refrigerator, for example), think about what will work for your home and be timeless. Otherwise you may end up having to update every few years. 6. Asking questions later. Make a list of every question you can think of and ask it before the work gets started. This way you're left with few surprises and can do changes without costing yourself time and money. Don't wait for the finished product before you start to question the hows and whys. 7. Expecting things to be perfect. If you go into a project with the idea that there will be no mishaps, even minor ones, you may end up stressed out when one arises. Everyone makes mistakes --even professionals. If you think something is not being done correctly, speak up or get a second opinion.

Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011

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Planning an outdoor oasis Family Features

I

f it's time to think about making some improvements or additions to your home, outside may be the best place to get started. Exterior additions and improvements are high on homeowner's lists, according to the Better Homes and Gardens 2011 Consumer Preference Survey. Among the top ranking features people want in their next homes are decks or patios, and low-maintenance exteriors. When it comes to the top ranking living spaces people want, outdoor grilling or living areas came in at 67 percent. So whether you want to make some improvements for selling your home, or just to enjoy for yourself here are some tips to help you plan the perfect outdoor oasis. Define the Space An outdoor room could be the entire yard, or just a small part of it. Think about it having walls, a ceiling and flooring, just like an indoor room. u Walls are vertical elements that help define a space, such as hedges, trees, lattice screens, raised garden beds, railings, a gazebo or fence to frame your space.

Ceilings provide shelter and shade. Think of awnings, umbrellas and pergolas. Or use what's naturally u

there, like the branches of a shade tree. u Flooring could be the existing lawn, a mulched pathway or a created floor such as a concrete or flagstone patio, or deck. Decide the Elements. Once you know where your oasis is, it's time to figure out what needs to go in it. Here are some elements to consider: Decking A low-maintenance composite deck adds versatility and beauty that you can customize to meet just about any need. And it can pay, off, too. Composite deck additions are among the projects that recoup the most of their cost upon home resale. u When planning a deck, don't make the mistake of building one that's too small. Mark the area you want to use, then put your outdoor furniture in it to see if you have the space you need. u Use an online planning tool to explore designs, materials, colors and accessories.

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Fire and Food Use your outdoor room any time of day by planning a place to cook and eat. u An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a portable grill or as elaborate as your budget will allow. A DIY pizza oven can also be a fun way to enjoy cooking outside. u Fireplaces, fire pits and chimineas bring coziness along with great function - and they help extend the outdoor enjoyment in cooler weather.

Accessories Just like indoor room, outdoor rooms benefit from appropriate accessories. Make sure you plan for them in your budget as well as in your designs. u Lighting - Landscape lighting, lanterns, candles or strings of white outdoor lights can all add beautiful ambience. u Sound - Add pleasing audio with outdoor stereo sound systems, trickling water features or even just simple wind chimes. u Color - Garden art, tablescapes, container plantings and fabric can put colorful finishing touches on your outdoor room.

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Great enhancer paint projects Whether you do it yourself or you hire a contractor, even small paint projects can greatly enhance the appearance of your home. Here are some quick ways to get a lot of mileage out of a little painting project. Paint just an interior accent wall. Don't have the time or energy to paint an entire room? Give the space an exciting new look by painting just one wall in a different color. A so-called accent wall can add visual interest to a room and introduce another hue into your color scheme. Paint the area above (or below) a chair rail. If your home is blessed with chair rails, you don't have to paint the entire wall. Paint the interior windows and trim. Love your wall color, but still yearn for a new look? Give the room a makeover by painting your windows, molding, and trim. You'll be surprised how different a room can look when

you change the intensity of color there. Paint a room's standout feature. Play up what's special about a room by painting it a different color. This could be a fireplace surround, a curved archway, the backs of built-in bookshelves or cabinets, or something else. Using a strong “punch” color will draw immediate attention to your standout feature. Paint the front door. Studies have shown that visitors get their first impression about a home from the condition of the front entrance, according to Zimmer. A freshly painted door helps ensure that first impression will be favorable. Paint just a few exterior architectural details. Even if you don't have to paint your home exterior for maintenance reasons, consider changing the appearance of your home by painting a few architectural details. Shutters are good candidates.

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Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011


Decorative options for driveways

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any homeowners overlook the design impact that a driveway can have on their home. An unsightly driveway can impact curb appeal, but a decorative one can enhance the look of the property and home. For homeowners looking to either lay a new driveway in their brand-new home or replace an old driveway to give the exterior of their house a new look, the following materials are among the many that can now be used for the purpose of driveways.

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u Asphalt: Asphalt driveways are the most common, thanks in large part to their cost effectiveness and minimal maintenance requirements. Due to that popularity, contractors can easily install an asphalt driveway. A mixture of tar, gravel and concrete, asphalt attracts heat, making it very hot in warmer months, something parents of young children who frequently play outdoors might want to think about. Another disadvantage to asphalt driveways is that they're oil-based and as a result flexible, making them vulnerable to cracking. u Concrete. Concrete is another very popular choice for driveways, and one that allows for more creativity than asphalt. Whereas asphalt driveways are limited to a blue or black hue, concrete driveways can be customized to almost any color you prefer. In addition, concrete driveways can feature stenciled designs, essentially making your driveway similar to an artist's canvas, albeit one that will require frequent sealing. Though concrete driveways are tough and weatherresistant, they can stain rather easily and have traditionally proven difficult to clean. Such problems, however, might be worth it for those who prefer a more individual driveway. u Gravel or pebble. For those who enjoy driveways that remind them of historical times when horses pulled carriages up the driveways of estates, gravel or pebble is the choice for you. Among the more understated and

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elegant options, gravel or pebble driveways are also cost-effective and durable, in addition to requiring little maintenance. One of the chief concerns when going with a gravel driveway is washout, where a heavy rainstorm could wash away all of a driveway's stones. This concern can be easily quelled, however, by edging in the driveway with scoria rock, bluestone or a hard timber that will keep the gravel or pebbles from washing away. A more legitimate concern is the potential for driveways to turn muddy, a common problem for gravel driveways containing clay. u Cobblestone or bluestone. Though these materials are eco-friendly, they're not wallet-friendly. Along with that, they can be a handful to maintain, as they're prone to weeds and often require resealing. Another common problem is loose stones, which need to be replaced. While they can be problematic, they're among the more aesthetically appealing options, often looking exceptionally beautiful when set alongside a yard's natural landscape. Smaller driveways are good for these materials, as you'll spend less and you won't expend so much energy with maintenance. u Brick. Brick driveways can be a sight for sore eyes. Those who have opted for brick driveways have traditionally found that their driveways have become a feature of their home. The downside, however, is cost, as brick driveways can be pricey to install, a large part of which is thanks to labor costs.

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Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011


Wood Staining Few things add style and elegance to a room like the rich look of wood furniture. But, has the wood furniture in your home lost its luster? What about the flea market find that doesn't quite match the other wood pieces in your home? It's easy to give wood surfaces a new, long-lasting finish with stain and a protective finish. u Preparation is the key to a beautiful staining project. Start your project by sanding. Sanding allows stain to adhere and penetrate the wood, providing a better looking, more even appearance. Then clean the wood surface thoroughly and wipe away any sanding residue with a damp sponge. Before applying stain to the entire project, test it out on an inconspicuous area of the project. For example, if you are staining a chair, turn it over and stain the bottom of the seat to test the color.

u Bring out wood's natural beauty with a colored stain. Stains add a luxurious, warm finish that'll enhance its appearance and add classic style to any room. Try deeper stains for a rich, traditional feel. Or, use lighter colors for a more natural look. u The best way to make your stain look better and last longer is by protecting your project from spills, stains, scratches, and normal wear-and-tear with a clear finish. A water-based polyurethane goes on clear and stays crystal clear - unlike some oil-based finishes, it won't change the appearance of the stain. Plus, it’s low odor and great for interior use! The durable topcoat is a great way to enhance the beauty of your wood staining project, and keep it looking great for years to come.

Spring Home Improvement | Morning Star Publications 2011

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Spring Home Improvement 2011