Bathroom renovations even the pickiest in-laws will love

November 30th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – While the approach of the holidays has many people focused on gift lists and celebrations, you’re thinking about the guest bathroom. More specifically, you’re thinking about your mother-in-law’s commentary on the dripping showerhead, your brother-in-law’s judgment of the archaic toilet that uses gallons of water per flush, and your sister-in-law’s reaction to the total lack of natural light.

Renovating a bathroom is almost always a good investment. Making bathroom upgrades that will not only improve the value of your home and your enjoyment of it, but also satisfy the most discerning guests, is a win-win for everyone. While bathroom refurbishment makes sense at any time of year, you may be inspired to get the work done now, before holiday guests arrive.

Here are tips for where to focus your efforts to ensure you’ll get the best return on your investment – and your in-laws will love what you’ve done with the room:

Make necessity meet luxury

Sinks and toilets are bathroom necessities, but they can also be eco-friendly luxurious design statements, too. Replacing an ordinary, older, gallon-guzzling commode with an option that combines toilet and personal cleansing functions can conserve water while elevating the comfort, beauty and luxury experience of the fixture.

Options like the Washlet G400 from TOTO integrate a low-flush, high-performance toilet with the convenience and personal care of a Washlet. Its 3D Tornado Flushing system uses an ultra-efficient 1.28 or 0.9 gallons per flush, while a special ion barrier glaze minimizes debris and mold to keep the toilet cleaner, longer. Auto open/close, auto flush, remote control operation, front and rear warm water cleansing with adjustable temperature and pressure control, air deodorizer and dryer functions and user memory ensure the Washlet offers the kind of luxurious touches every guest will remember and adore.

The sink can also be a design statement steeped in luxury, when you replace older, ordinary models with sleek modern options like the Arvina Round Vessel Lavatory. Its round design not only gives the lavatory a clean, uncomplicated look that works with modern and traditional styles, it also saves space, making it perfect for guest baths or powder rooms where space is at a premium. Or, use it to maximize vanity space in a master bathroom.

Turn the shower into an oasis

Regardless of your budget for upgrading a shower, a few luxurious touches can go a long way toward turning an everyday bathroom element into an exceptional experience. Once you’ve taken care of basics, such as replacing or improving tired tile or an outdated surround, incorporate luxurious elements like a rainfall shower head or multi-spray hand shower. With multiple style options available to mount overhead or on the wall, it’s possible to create a unique shower configuration that complements any aesthetic.

Simple, thoughtful touches can elevate the shower’s luxury, too. For example, incorporating storage for shower necessities like shampoo, body wash, soap and razors is both practical and luxurious. It’s easy to have a built-in storage recess added to the shower during re-tiling, or you can add ceramic tile shelving in the corner of the shower. A curved shower rod is a must – and a super-easy DIY project – for bathrooms with a tub and shower combination. The curved rod ensures no guest will every wrestle with a shower curtain mid-spray.

Light! Sound! Luxury!

A dearth of natural light is a common problem in powder rooms and guest baths, and many master bathrooms could benefit from more light. Adding a skylight is a cost-effective way to incorporate more invigorating, healthful natural light in a bathroom, while protecting privacy, boosting energy efficiency and improving air quality. Even if a bathroom doesn’t have direct roof access, it’s possible to install a skylight; tubular models use reflective tubes to direct light from the roof down into the room.

Adding sound and entertainment options to bathrooms is also a growing trend. Whether you opt to add a mirror with an integrated TV or sound speakers above the shower, incorporating entertainment options into a bathroom is the perfect blend of luxury and practicality.

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4 tips to help keep your home warm, comfortable and energy efficient this winter

November 29th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – With winter comes the holiday season, a time that’s supposed to be associated with “comfort and joy.” But how joyful will it be if pests invade your house, or if your home is cold and drafty? Help stay warm all winter long by addressing factors like air leaks from gaps and cracks that can make your home feel uncomfortable.

“Drafts and heat loss are common problems in the winter, and they affect homes of every age, size and construction,” says Gary Parsons, fellow at The Dow Chemical Company. “Those factors can seriously affect your home’s energy efficiency and how comfortable it feels. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to deal with issues like air leaks and insulation, and doing so can significantly improve your home’s function and livability.”

Parsons suggests these steps to help ensure a draft-free, pest-free and comfy home this winter season:

Seal cracks and gaps

Gaps and cracks throughout the home allow hot air to escape and cold air and pests to enter. Energy Star estimates that homes can have a half mile or more of cracks around doors, windows and sill plates alone, and those aren’t the only places in a home where gaps can exist. Air duct joints, points where piping enters a home, and anywhere wood meets concrete (such as around the foundation) are locations where cracks and gaps can occur.

Sealing cracks can help prevent air leakage, improve a home’s overall energy efficiency and block out pests and insects. In fact, homeowners can save an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling by air sealing their homes and adding insulation, according to Energy Star.

Even do-it-yourself novices can easily and quickly seal cracks and gaps in their homes. Products like GREAT STUFF(R) Gaps & Cracks and GREAT STUFF(R) Pestblock Insulating Foam Sealants are specially formulated to seal gaps and cracks, blocking out air, moisture and even pests. The ready-to-use insulating foam sealants can fill gaps up to 1 inch. When using the product, be sure to follow safety guidelines, including covering all skin, using gloves and safety goggles, and keeping the work area well ventilated.

Check insulation

Insulation is like a blanket that your home wears to help keep everyone inside warm and cozy. If your home doesn’t have the right amount or type of insulation for your climate, it can lose heat, energy efficiency and comfort. About 90 percent of existing homes don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Follow Energy Star’s guidelines for more information on how to check your insulation to see if your home could benefit from adding more.

Take care of the HVAC system

If your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system isn’t working as well as it could, you’re sacrificing comfort and increasing your energy bills. Make sure to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall to ensure they are operating efficiently.

Have the ducts inspected and seal any leaks. Be sure to change air filters regularly, per the system manufacturer’s recommendation for filter type and frequency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dirty air filters restrict airflow, making HVAC systems work harder and consume more energy to heat your home.

Don’t overlook little things

Things as simple as a forgotten window left cracked in summer months or neglecting to close the flue in your wood-burning fireplace can all affect the amount of heat and comfort that escape your home in the winter.

Before the weather turns very cold, make a sweep through your home and check for these minor but important points:

* Windows – Are all your windows closed? If you’ve recently sealed around windows, you probably opened them for ventilation. Double check to be sure you remembered to close them.

* Thermostat – Is yours properly programmed to optimize energy use by adjusting the temperature when you’re out of the house? Proper use of a programmable thermostat can cut energy bills by nearly $200 per year, according to Energy Star.

* Ceiling fans – you can use ceiling fans to supplement your furnace during the winter, but you have to remember to reverse the air flow. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the fan blades to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air down from the ceiling during winter.

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5 home-building secrets you should know

November 27th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Thousands of Americans who are in the process of building their own home, or simply looking into it, are faced with hundreds of different questions. Granite or quartz countertops? Neutral or bold colors? Tile or hardwood flooring? And those questions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Being able to make these detailed choices is a big part of why you decided to build and design a custom home that will show off your unique style.

But as any professional builder will tell you, the secret to building a truly great house isn’t what fixtures you choose or the type of crown molding you install. Rather, the most important components of a house are hidden behind the build.

The following five points represent some of the most important hidden aspects of any new home construction that will ensure your house retains its beauty for decades.

1. Proper insulation. No matter where you are in the country, it’s likely that the temperature outside will get too hot or too cold. In such situations you’ll rely on heating or air conditioning. Good insulation not only saves money, but keeps your furnace and AC units working longer and more effectively. In cold areas, proper insulation is key to preventing destructive ice dams from forming.

2. Subflooring. Whether you use hickory, maple or bamboo, everyone has their preference when it comes to flooring, but something that all flooring materials need is a solid subfloor. Like a box-spring for your mattress, AdvanTech(R) subflooring from Huber Engineered Woods provides a solid foundation that prevents sagging and squeaking, keeping your finished floor looking better, for longer.

3. A smart house. Just like our phones, cars and televisions have been radically changed by the digital revolution, so have our homes. Today’s modern smart homes are designed to fit our digital lives. Some features to consider are a consul to place your WiFi router so you can set up the appliances and thermostat for wireless. That way you’ll be able to access them from a tablet or phone. You might even want to install some USB outlets.

4. Modern kitchen solutions. Today it’s all about expansive, open-concept kitchens. With stone countertops and larger refrigerators, engineers have noticed the combination of heavy appliances and a larger floor surface area puts more stress on the finished floors. Installing AdvanTech subflooring creates a solid base for floorboards and heavy modern appliances to rest on, thus helping to prevent squeaky or uneven floors in your kitchen.

5. Choose the right exterior walls. The exterior “shells” of homes are being built tighter. In other words, new products and practices are being used to help reduce air leakage as part of the overall energy efficiency design. Next-generation exterior sheathing systems like ZIP System(R) sheathing and ZIP System(TM) tape have built-in water barriers and taped panel seams to create one continuous protective barrier underneath your finished exterior to help lock-out water and air.

If you haven’t already, talk with your builder about the hidden elements of your home, like AdvanTech subflooring, that will help your home stand up to the tests of everyday life. After all, this is the house you always envisioned, and behind the beautiful layout, you want to make sure you have a solid foundation and good bones to ensure lasting beauty and life.

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DIY projects to increase the resale value of your home.

November 16th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Whatever you’re passionate about, you know hobbies cost money. People who haven’t shaken the travel bug need to negotiate time off work, pay for lodging, airfare and more. If you’re a big football fan, the amount you spend on food, snacks, game tickets and clothing adds up during the course of a season. Even simple hobbies like fishing can require a seemingly endless number of gadgets and electronics.

Fortunately, for anyone who likes to roll up their sleeves and isn’t afraid of taking on a new house project, their DIY hobby can actually save them money. In particular, homeowners who are getting ready to make a move and want to get top dollar for their property can take on a number of home renovation projects that will increase the value of their home.

With today’s powerful, easy-to-use tools, it’s never been easier to fix up your house in a way buyers will notice and you can cash-in on. Even veteran DIYers are amazed at the quality of workmanship they’re able to do thanks to a new generation of drills, saws, sanders and other tools. One versatile saw that’s perfect for home renovations is the RotoZip RotoSaw+, which can plunge and cut through tile, stone and drywall, providing precision control that is equal to its power.

If you love the satisfaction of fixing things and are hoping to get a high offer on your house, here are five DIY projects that may increase the resale value of your home.

Install lighting fixtures. Lighting has a tremendous effect on how potential buyers perceive your house. While it’s important to keep the rooms and hallways well lit, you’ll want to make sure the source that produces the light is also stunning. Using a RotoSaw+ to make precise plunges and cuts in the wall or ceiling, you can easily install glorious new fixtures.

Cap it off with crown molding. It’s odd how many people look up when deciding if the house is right for them. That’s why so many realtors suggest adding crown molding. It’s a simple addition that adds a touch of charm and makes a big statement about the value of the home.

Add a backsplash. Buyers pay a lot of attention to the kitchen and the bathroom. One of the most eye-catching effects you can add is a backsplash around the sink and the counter space. To get the full effect, use high-quality tile and a RotoSaw+ to get the precise cuts needed for a perfect fit.

Front yard. Backyards are great but when you’re selling your home, the front yard is where buyers make their first impression. Go beyond well-trimmed hedges and green lawns by building decorative fixtures such as a bench, flower crates made of reclaimed wood or other such projects that combine craftsmanship and taste.

Get rid of carpet. Carpet is fast going the way of wallpaper, and there are few home buyers out there who prefer carpet to wood floors. Rip that carpet up! Depending on your skill level, you can choose to cut, sand, stain and install the floorboards yourself, or invest in interlocking boards that snap in place.

Your DIY remodeling project doesn’t have to be complicated. RotoZip offers two models of RotoSaws able to cut multiple materials. Call 1-877-ROTOZIP or visit www.rotozip.com for more info.

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How to get the most out of your lawn and snow tools

November 14th, 2016 by Emil No comments »

(BPT) – Remember when you actually had to leave the house to do things?

Today, you could use your smartphone to do all your holiday shopping, order groceries and have them delivered, and then watch all the Oscar nominated films without ever getting off the couch.

It’s pretty amazing, but for all the convenience we enjoy with our digital lifestyle, sometimes you need a hands-on, personalized approach. And no one knows this better than those who have taken up the DIY lifestyle, or the millions of Americans who obsess over their lawn.

There might be an app for everything, but when it comes to the tools you use to keep your lawn in shape, your best bet is to find an outdoor power equipment dealer who can share their expertise with you. Here are five reasons why.

1. Get personalized service. Everyone cares for their lawn differently. One size doesn’t fit all, and this kind of personalized care needs personalized options. Working with a dealer can help you learn what’s best for you and best for your lawn.

2. Make the best decisions. With so much lawn equipment out there, making up your mind can sometimes be overwhelming. Dealers can help you sort through all the products and explain the different options available to you, such as choosing between gas-powered and battery-powered outdoor power equipment.

3. Learn about service and maintenance. Dealers offer invaluable advice that even yardwork veterans can benefit from. They can tell you the best way to winterize and care for the next generation of lawn care products. In addition, they work closely with top manufacturers so they can give you valuable information about sales, promotions and warranty offers. Dealers also have service shops that can fix broken equipment or give tools a tune-up to prepare for spring lawn care work.

4. Learn about equipment accessories. Dealers have been working in the lawn care industry for years. With this level of expertise, they can point you towards the equipment accessories that will help you get the most out of your outdoor power equipment. Dealers stock and sell the largest variety of accessories for your outdoor power equipment needs.

5. Try before you buy. There’s a reason you don’t buy a car without driving it. The same should apply to lawn equipment. You want something that feels comfortable in your hands, that isn’t too heavy and has the power you need. Most of the time, you really have to use something before you know if it’s right or not, and some dealers will allow you to try out products at the store before making a decision.

To see what a difference personalized service makes, check out www.husqvarna.com/us/dealer-locator/ to find an outdoor power equipment dealer near you.

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