Fun with Pressure Washers

Remember, you must adjust the nozzle and the distance you hold it from the surface depending on your particular power washer and what you’re washing. You don’t want your power washer to turn into a wood or paint chipper.

  • Garage floor
  • Driveway
  • Vinyl or brick house exterior
  • Fencing
  • Cars and trucks
  • Concrete or tile patios
  • Wood decks
  • Walkways
  • Patio furniture
  • Grills
  • Swimming pools
  • Lawn mowers
  • Mountain Bikes/ATVs
  • Chainsaws
  • Tillers
  • Gutter/Downspouts
  • Scraping Paint
  • High Windows

And finally, maybe a power washer is just the thing to get that ball out of the tree it’s been stuck in since last summer!

4 Ways to Cut Down on Stress During a Home Remodel

Maybe you’ve grown just sick enough of that 1970s avocado-green kitchen to update it to something more sleek and modern. Or perhaps it’s as simple as remodeling a bathroom. Whatever the room, home renovations can test even the most patient personality through the sheer chaos and mess that are inevitable.

To get through your renovation, organizing the clutter is key. The following tips should help you stay on top of the disorder.

  • Have files for everything. Paperwork should be kept in one place because it will pile up. Inexpensive file folders that are portable can help you stay structured. Create a file for all receipts, and as you post them to a budget, move them to another file labeled “posted.” Permits and papers from the city or homeowner’s association should be kept together in another folder in order to easily put your fingers on them. Just for fun, make a folder of design ideas and pictures from magazines to keep you inspired.
  • Cover it up. One word: plastic. No, not credit cards. Use it to cover all heavy furniture that must stay in the room. This will prevent dust and debris from getting into the nooks and crannies and keep the finish on the furniture looking shiny.
  • Keep a list. Supplies are going to run low, and no matter how good your memory, things are going to fall through the cracks if you don’t write them down. Hanging an easily accessible clipboard will help you to stay on point about people you need to call, or things you need to do for the next day.
  • Have a place for everything. Whether you’re doing the remodel yourself or contracting it, there is going to be a certain amount of upheaval. One thing that will help reduce your stress level is keeping things you use daily in one place. Create a space such as a table, where all small items are kept The larger items can sit on the floor underneath. Also, every time you are finished with an item, put it back in the appropriate spot.

Easy and cost Effective Fixes

painter-1137334_640There are lots of ways to improve the livability and esthetics of your home without going broke in the process. Try one of these quick fixes if you just can stand your house anymore. These are also great wen you have just purchased a new home that has a few problems. Here are a few suggestions…

 

  1. Give your interior or exterior walls a new coat of paint. This is especially effective if the old paint job is marked up, dirty or just a horrible color.
  2. Reface or repaint your kitchen or bath cabinets. If your cabinet shells are solid but the drawer and cabinet fronts are worn or chipped, consider refacing them. Replacing the cabinet fronts can give you a whole new updated look without the expense of replacing the whole cabinet. Repainting can also bring new life too old, worn looking cabinets.
  3. Install new carpeting or vinyl flooring. Old, worn, and stained carpeting is a real downer. It’s relatively fast, easy and cost effective to replace.
  4. Replacing dated and worn light fixtures is another quick and painless fix.
  5. Adding interesting architectural details like moldings, railings, and built-in bookcases can dramatically change the look and feel of a room.

If you’re not quite ready for a major renovation, think about having one of these alternatives done instead. They will increase your enjoyment of your home while saving your money.

Playing With Color On-line

Paint ColorsAre you thinking about refreshing your living space with a new coat of paint? The color combinations you use can help induce moods. Are you looking for something light and invigorating? Or maybe you’re wanting a subdued calming atmosphere.
Outdoor paint choices can make a welcoming ambiance, a standout statement, or let you literally melt into the background.
Make your desired outcome more certain with these sites that allow you to match and play with color.

Glidden – Room visualizer

Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer

Sherwin Williams Visualizer

McCormick Exterior Visualizer

Valspar Virtual Painter

Summer’s Coming – It’s time to get all decked out!

chair-1218344_1280Wouldn’t it be nice to walk out onto a brand new or updated deck to sit in the sun and enjoy quality time with family and friends? Here’s some info to help you get started.

Decking material

There used to be really only one choice for decks, namely wood. You could choose from a few wood varieties but other than that, it was pretty much cut and dried (so to speak). Today there are many more choices, some of which increase lifetime and reduce maintenance. Even if you are a traditionalist who prefers wood, it’s good to know all your choices.

Pressure treated wood – The most widely used decking material (about 75%), pressure treated wood can be a maintenance chore as it is usually made from low grad pine or fir and is susceptible to splitting, warping and cracking. It is, however, the low cost solution of the lot.

Cedar/Redwood – Natural tannin in these woods help protect against rot and insects. It should be protected with a sealer to help ward off splits and cracks. If unsealed both woods will turn a light grey color with age.

Composite wood – These are a range of products made from some combination of wood and recycled plastics. They are virtually maintenance free and won’t crack, split or rot.

PVC and polyethylene – These plastic alternatives are lightweight and maintenance free but they tend to sag more them other choices and require more support. Make sure you choose ones with non-slip surfaces as many can be slippery.

 

Deck Railing

Railings come in all the materials listed above and others. Metal railings, for instance, can look great on a wood deck.  You can also choose clear glass like inserts to further protect access to and from the edges of your deck. There are so many variations for railings that the best thing to do is search the web for images as inspiration. Many configurations are possible.

 

Additional thoughts

Multilevel decks add interest and style. Rounded corners or flowing edges can also make your deck unique and more enjoyable. Flower boxes and planters integrated with your deck can help create an outdoor oasis you can be proud of.

Tacoma Home Rehabilitation Loans

I thought I would pass along the link to this program for anyone who may be interested. It is a loan available to single family home owners where meet certain income guidelines.

Examples of Eligible Repair and Rehabilitation Work

 

  • Roof replacement
  • Exterior and interior painting
  • Window replacement
  • Carpet and flooring replacement
  • Heating and air system replacement
  • Electrical work
  • Sewer repair or installation
  • Termite and pest repair
  • Onsite exterior concrete flat work such as sidewalks, driveways, curbs, gutters, hand rails, or ramps
  • Door and window screen repair or replacement
  • Foundation or structural repairs
  • Fencing and retaining walls

You can find out more at:

City of Tacoma Home Rehabilitation Loan

Kitchen Remodel Trends

Soft-close on drawers and doors. This will cost a bit more ($250-600 for the entire kitchen) but is definitely worth it. In addition to making your kitchen quieter and easier to use it saves wear and tear on the cabinets. There are also no-touch cabinets now which open/close without touching making them great for trash areas.

Utilize corner space and make it accessible. Use pie corner base cabinets and lazy Susan so you can get to stuff easily.

Add a brightly colored sink. Popular sink colors are moving away from white and stainless to bright colors that become a focal point in the kitchen, especially if your cabinets and counter tops are neutral in shade.

Maximize storage. Many options are now available such as multi-tiered drawers and specific use cabinets that will help you store odd shaped and sized items such as pots and pans and small appliances in the least amount of space possible.

Add some automation. Today’s technology allows hands free faucets, thermometers that notify your phone when dinner is ready, sensor lights that come on only when the kitchen is in use. The list goes on.

Built in coffee center. A great convenience that provides a place to make coffee and store all the coffee related tools and supplies in one small area. This will free up valuable counter space for food prep.

Point of use refrigeration. People are adding smaller refrigeration units where they need them. For instance, what if you could store fresh vegetables right under your vegetable prep area and milk, eggs, butter right next to the food prep area of your counter top.

kitchen countertop

The 10 Best Kitchen & Bath Counter Choices

Your counter surfaces should last a long time and provide functional space where you can actually work. I’m sure you have your favorites but take a few minutes to review what’s currently available and each choice’s features and price before you commit. These are ordered in no particular order because their value and suitability depend on your unique needs. The prices listed are estimates and depend on your particular installation needs and many other factors. They are meant to give you a reference for comparison of all the surface options available.

Quartz

This engineered material is maintenance free and is resistant to heat, scratching and chipping, and stains. Its cost is $95-$105 per square foot. It’s also available is a multitude of colors and patterns. A long lasting, durable and beautiful choice.

Granite

This perennial favorite requires sealing about once per year and you should wipe up stains quickly. Granite costs start at about $50 per square foot and go up from there depending on the particular slab you choose and its rarity and current availability. Many hues and pattern are available and each slab is unique, adding to granite’s popularity. Sometimes semi-precious stones are embedded in a slab and this can also raise the price. Finally, some granite is more difficult to work with and cut. Fabrication expense can vary greatly.

Laminate

The great appeal of laminate countertops is there maintenance free nature and their low price. The most affordable choice in the list, laminates have almost unlimited range in color and pattern making them super flexible and adaptable to all décors. They are not particularly durable. You cannot set hot pans on them and don’t even think about using a knife. Cost is $8-$20 per square foot.

Wood

Wood is warm and beautiful but requires a good quality sealer. The durability is dependent on the wood used and the quality of the sealer. It will nick and cuts can show. Hot pots can produce burn rings. However, many people feel this natural wear and tear is aesthetically pleasing and some people even start with already distressed wood. It is fairly easy to repair surface marks such as burn and water marks and they often don’t extend below the surface sealer. Cost is $30-$85 per square foot.

Marble

Marble is the luxury choice. It’s price is not prohibitive and comparable to other durable choices. As with Granite, each slab of marble is unique and many colors and patterns are available. Cost will vary greatly depending on the rarity and availability of your particular choice. Generally the cost is $70-$100 per square foot. If you are into baking or pastry then at least a partial marble inset is a great option and marble works well with almost every other countertop material. Marble required regular sealing and care in use. Anything acidic in nature should be wiped up quickly as it will cause etching and you must be careful of cleaning chemicals. Use only those made for marble or plain soap and water. Marble also stains easily. Many people love a well-used patina though, and it’s up to you how much work you put in to keep it pristine.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel, as the name implies, won’t stain. It is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant. You can get shinny and matte finished. It even comes in various patterns produced by combining matte and shiny finishes. You won’t want to cut on it as it scratches. And fingerprints are ever present. The matte finished minimize fingerprints and water marks. It’s the choice of most professional chefs and serious home cooks. Cost is $125-$150 per square foot.

Soapstone

Its resistant to stains, heat, bacteria and chemicals. This is the reason it’s used in many school labs. Soapstone is non-porous and does not require sealing. Acidic foods won’t faze it and you can set that hot pot right down on it. Nicks, scratches and rounded edges are a certainty over time. But as with many other surfaces, these may not be a bad thing if you love a natural patina. Scratches and such can be sanded out fairly easily if you want. Cleanup is easy usually with just soap and water. Cost is $80-$100 per square foot.

Tile

A huge array of style, pattern and color choices mean tile is very appealing to many people. Stone tile takes on the pros and cons of the stone it’s made of. Ceramic tile is what we’ll talk about here. Tile is one of the most economical surfaces at $10-$70 per square foot. Glazed tile provides a non-porous surface that resists stains, heat and knives. They can chip or crack so extras should be kept for repairs, if necessary. Tiles are easy to keep clean but all that grout can be a pain. Choosing darker grout colors and smaller grout openings help reduce this problem. Check out the various grout types available today. Some are anti-microbial and stain resistant.

Copper

Copper provides a warm inviting feeling and is hard to beat. It is durable as long as you don’t mind a good bit of patina. It dents and scratches easily and chemicals and spills will probably cause discoloration. Applying a good sealer regularly will help minimize this. You should apply wax once in a while to keep it in the best condition. It tarnishes and oxidizes over time which provides a rich deep patina with a mix of deep colors. Cost is $100-$175 per square foot.

Solid Surface

Colors and Patterns are endless. Solid surfacing is non-porous making it resistant to stains. You can easily buff out scratches but you really can’t use it to cut on as the scratches will get out of hand. You also cannot set hot pans directly on it as it’s sensitive to heat. Cleaning is fast and easy. It has very low maintenance requirements. Another advantage is that it can be formed seamlessly into odd shapes and configurations. Cost is $50-$100 per square foot.

Conclusion

In addition to the above choices, there a many options using recycled materials of all kinds; paper, plastic, glass, and more. Spend some time choosing you perfect counter material. It can be a lifetime investment.

paying for your dream remodel

Paying for Your Dream Remodel

Time to get down to business. The major questions here are should you borrow money to put in that new deck or remodel that dated kitchen. If so, should you use home equity to do so. There are many options open to you today to help you accomplish your goal.

Banks, Saving & Loans, Mortgage brokers, 0% credit cards, and personal loans to name a few.  Many programs are available to you even if you have little equity or a less then perfect credit record.

The method of payment you choose should be influenced by several different factors. You decision depends on your current funds, ability to repay, interest rates, closing costs, risk tolerance, and the necessity or urgency of the needed work.

Cash

If your home upgrade doesn’t involve urgent repairs such as replacement of water heater, furnace, etc. then consider a saving plan with regular deposits. For less expensive remodel projects, this may be just the ticket. You’ll pay no interest and eliminate the risk inherent in using your home, vehicles or other assets as collateral. You’ll also tend to be more frugal and down to earth in your decisions on materials and scope. This frugality will tend to result in a higher return on your remodeling investment when you sell your home or refinance in the future.

0% Interest Credit Cards

These unsecured credit cards are often offered to those with decent credit. This may be a very viable option for smaller projects less the $10-$15,000 in cost.  Check the amount of time the 0% interest is valid for and insure you will be able to repay the amount within this time. A common 0% interest offer is 12-18 months. Be sure to check the terms. Cards not payed off within the specified time period may charge very high interest and it may be retroactive to the time the card was first used.

Personal Loans

A personal loan is another option for small to mid-sized projects generally less than $40,000. An unsecured personal loan will provide a longer payback time then credit cards and probably a higher loan amount also. Interest rates will tend to be higher then on loans secured against your home and there are no tax benefits as with home mortgage loans. Watch for “fly-by-night” lenders here and make certain you read and understand all terms.

Home Secured Loans

Cash out refinances involve refinancing your home with a brand new mortgage while taking the equity your have built up out to use for your home remodel. There may be high closing costs and watch the interest rate. This can be a great option if interest rates are now lower then your current mortgage.

Getting a second mortgage on your home is another option which gives you fixed amount right now with a set repayment schedule over 15 years or so. Again, watch interest rates and early repayment penalties.

A third option is a home equity line of credit. This operated much like a credit card. You use your line of credit as needed over a period of time and then pay back over another set period of time (10-15 years). Interest rates for this type of loan may vary.

Which should I choose

What you choose is personal with many factors coming into play. Also there are literally hundreds of different terms available at any given time from hundreds of lenders. Offers vary by credit history, geographic location, current financial picture and much more. A mortgage broker may be a good first stop if you want to go the mortgage route. He can find and offer you a lot of options from a lot of lenders at one time and advice you on what is available.