Infographic: Home Improvement Costs

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Best Home Improvements For Every Month Of The Year

The best time of year to buy a refrigerator is right around the corner.

Does it feel as if your home improvement to-do list never ends? Try organizing your projects by month. Then knock these 12 items off your list.

Once you become a homeowner, the number of things you need (or want) to improve increases exponentially. There’s always something to be done. But certain times of year are better to tackle specific projects, whether your goal is to save money or sanity. Not sure where to begin? We’ve laid out a schedule below.

January: Clean your carpets and rugs

It may seem counterintuitive to do this when it’s cold out, but according to Jonathan Barnett, founder of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning in Lakewood, CO, your flooring gets really dirty during the winter. Waiting until spring to remove all that grime can make it harder to get stains out. “Plus, the lack of humidity during the winter months allows moisture to evaporate quickly so wet carpets dry faster,” Barnett says. “And a clean carpet provides a healthier and better-smelling home, which is especially important during the winter, when most people spend the majority of their time indoors.”

February: Paint a room or two

Now is the perfect time to tackle an indoor project that you can enjoy year-round. “Indoor projects aren’t weather-dependent; it’s more of a supply and demand thing,” says Shaun McCarthy, president and owner of Handyman Connection in Colorado Springs, CO. If you’re hiring someone to paint for you, winter is a good time to do it. You’re likely to get a much better price than you’d get during the spring and summer, when many people book exterior painting jobs. But even if you’re planning to do it yourself, there are still benefits. Brisk winter air is good for curing paint, so cracking that window for ventilation serves a double purpose. (Unlike humid summer air, it won’t make your paint take longer to dry.) While you’re at it, if you haven’t weather-stripped or caulked your windows and doors, do it in February before the winds of March set in, says McCarthy

March: Clean your gutters

“The most common problem I see in my home inspections is a wet basement or crawl space,” says Marc Shanley, a certified master inspector at Trinity Inspection, which services homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One common culprit? Clogged gutters, which do an ineffective job of directing runoff away from your home’s foundation. All that moisture can cause major foundation problems. Depending on your gutters (and whether you have overhanging trees), you may need to tackle this task more than once a year. Even so, it’s best to do this before the April rains hit.

April: Refinish your hardwood floors

If you’ve discovered hardwoods beneath your new home’s carpeting, wait until spring to complete this labor-intensive but transformative task. “If you wait until it’s really hot out, the finish can cure too quickly and the sheen might not dry properly, which leads to a glossy, uneven finish,” says Arne Johansson, owner of Arne’s Floor Sanding in Minneapolis, MN.

May: Buy a new refrigerator

Although most large appliances go on sale later in the year, refrigerators have their moment in May, in preparation for the summer. To make room for that new inventory, the older versions usually go on sale, which can mean big discounts for consumers. Want even more savings? Consider energy efficiency (look for the Energy Star certification) and ask if you can buy the floor model. Don’t forget to haggle!

June: Freshen up your exterior

Now’s the time to wash your windows (or pay someone to do it), power-wash your siding, and install screens in your windows. Before you power-wash, be sure that all your weatherstripping and caulking is secure (and your windows are closed). Otherwise, you risk shooting the cleaning liquid into your house, says McCarthy. He also advises testing the washer’s power on an inconspicuous area of your exterior beforehand. “You want to clean your house, not take the paint off of it,” he says.

July: Fertilize your lawn

“Your lawn needs a solid four to six fertilization applications throughout the year to keep it healthy and growing,” says Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, an app that matches customers with landscapers. “Fertilizing in July will give your lawn the vitamins and nutrients it needs to get through the rest of the hot summer months. Also, this midsummer application helps to prevent weeds from germinating — setting you up for less weed pulling in the fall.”

August: Paint your home’s exterior

The best time to paint your home’s exterior is when temperatures remain consistent from day to day and don’t drastically dip overnight. “The real key,” says McCarthy, is “to work your way around the house so that you’re always painting in the shade.” First, map out what time of day the sun hits each side of your home, then paint accordingly. Of course, you could always hire a pro for this task. You might want to get some estimates, especially for a multistory house. Investing in the equipment (including a tall ladder or two) might not be worth the cost or the hassle.

September: Replace your windows

Caulk adheres better when the temperature is between 40 and 80 degrees, so those glorious days of late summer and early fall are an ideal time to replace your windows. Plus, when the cold weather does hit, new windows will keep the heat where it belongs — inside your house.

October: Buy new appliances

Big-ticket appliances such as stoves, washing machines, and dishwashers debut their newest models around this time of year. That frequently means deep discounts on the old ones. Some retailers will even start their holiday sales early. Double savings!

November: Remodel your bathroom

Contractors are entering their slow season this month, so they’re more willing to jump on a small project and get it done quickly, says McCarthy. “A powder room is a good way to test a contractor out, especially if you’re in the market for a larger renovation like a kitchen,” he says. “If you like the way it turns out, great; if you don’t, it’s low risk.”

December: Build a deck

You’ll probably get a good deal, because deck builders will be winding down for the winter. But adding a deck onto your house when it’s cold out makes sense from a building perspective too. December is less humid, so if you’re using pressure-treated wood, it’ll dry more consistently and evenly. Also, the hot sun won’t beat down on it, which can cause warping and cracking.

 

Posted by Michelle Hainer on Trulia

 

How to Put New Life Into Old Furniture

Whether you buy it at a garage sale or it’s already gathering dust in your home, old furniture can become new again — or, at least, look like it.

How to Put New Life Into Old Furniture

You can customize things to reflect your individual taste for a fraction of what you might spend buying entirely new décor. And what you save in cash could more than make up for the time you spend restoring the furniture, depending on your creativity and tastes.

As with any type of interior design, the more you plan, the better your results will be. Knowing the possibilities and limitations of different decorating tactics will help manage your expectations about redesigning.

With that in mind, here are some of the things you can do to make older furnishings look newer:

Drapery and Pillows

How: Housewares stores sell a wide variety of pillows, curtains, tablecloths, and even sheets that could cover up worn-out seating or — in the case of curtains and sheets — serve as makeshift doors. You could also buy fabric by the yard and make your own.
Pros: This is one of the simplest options you have for dressing up old furniture.
Cons: There’s only so much you can achieve with this type of outer layer. Overdo it and the result can look cluttered.

Slipcovers

How: Most slipcover retailing happens via mail-order and websites, which makes comparison shopping a snap.
Pros: It doesn’t get much quicker and easier than this, especially if your furniture conforms to the exact dimensions of the slipcover.
Cons: Sizes and colors are limited, and catalog photos can only go so far in showing how something will look once it’s on your piece of furniture. One-size-fits-most can result in a loose fit that will look like you bought a slipcover instead of completely new décor.

Professional Upholstery

How: An upholsterer may pay you a house call to provide an estimate and save you from having to transport the furniture down to the repair shop.
Pros: The results might turn out better than anything you do yourself. The scope of services provided can include structural repairs, such as refilling stuffing, replacing springs, or strengthening frames.
Cons: It can easily cost as much as new furniture. If your item has sentimental value or qualifies as an heirloom, then hiring a professional upholsterer makes the most sense.

Do Your Own Upholstery

How: Take good measurements of your furniture, including the surfaces that are normally hidden from view — they are where you will be applying the staple gun. Buy upholstery-grade fabric with at least half a yard of excess to give yourself room for some trial and error.
Pro: You really can have a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture for a relatively modest investment of money. How much time it takes is up to you.
Con: This is the most challenging and time consuming of all the options mentioned here. Consult a good how-to guide (a number of them are linked throughout this article) or consider taking an upholstery class. Approach the effort as a learning exercise until you get the hang of it.

Painting or Refinishing

How: Invest in a good drop cloth, mask, gloves, solvent, and sandpaper when embarking on any kind of painting or refinishing job.
Pros: As long as you sand down the object first, and then apply the paint, stain or finish carefully, the end result can look just like new. This will be even more so if you follow it with new fixtures, as described below.
Cons: The odor is substantial, and so is the potential for kids or pets to get in the way or ruin the project if it’s not done in the right location. Plan accordingly.

Knobs and Handles

How: Handles or knobs on armoires, dressers, and entertainment units can wiggle loose or become tarnished. Instead of just replacing one that has fallen off or into disrepair, you could buy a new set in a completely different style and the result could look like a whole new piece of furniture.
Pros: New hardware can dramatically prolong the life of storage furnishings.
Cons: If you don’t measure the original hardware and the corresponding hole before going to the store, you may need to make another trip.

Headboards

How: Jazz up a plain bedframe by adding a headboard, or make an old one look newer with a fresh coat of paint or new fabric covering. If you’re really ambitious, you could make a footboard too, although that’s a little trickier. Any piece of wood or metal that is about the width of your mattress and at least a foot higher could pass for a headboard.
Pros: This gets you away from looking like you’re sleeping on a futon.
Cons: Beware of headboards that lean against the wall rather than attach to the frame (and good luck trying to make a footboard stay in place without using some tools).

As with any crafts project, go easy on yourself when trying your hand at the more creative tactics mentioned here. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses if the end result isn’t what you had envisioned. That’s one of the benefits of refurbishing something old instead of buying completely new: You can always sell, trade, or give away anything that doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped.

By Jackie Cohen of realtor.com. To see the original article, click here

3 Tips For Easy DIY Painting

Adding a fresh coat of paint to your walls and doors is one of the best and easiest ways to spruce up your house or apartment. Painting can make a big change in the look and feel of your home, and it can also be a lot of fun to experiment with new colors and trims. Once you’ve prepared your walls by scraping away any old layers of paint, removing wallpaper, sanding imperfections and applying primer — you’re ready to go!

DIY

Things you’ll need:

  • Stepladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Angled sash brush
  • Wide paintbrush or paint roller and tray
  • Extension pole for paint roller
  • Paint
  • Painter’s masking tape
  • Cleanup rags

1) Protect area. To protect furniture, flooring, and fixtures, you need to cover with drop cloths. Remove hardware and knobs, curtain rods, and cover plates. Cover trim with masking tape.

2) Start with edges. Paint a two- to three-inch strip of paint around the top and bottom trim using an angled brush.  You won’t be able to reach these area with a roller.

3) Paint. The most efficient way to paint large expanses of wall or ceiling is to use a roller. The finished project will also be smoother. Attach an extension pole to reach high areas. Fill paint tray with paint. Dip roller in the deep end and roll over the ribbed section of the tray to cover the roller evenly.

A good method to apply paint is to roll up and down on the wall, making thick, vertical stripes. Once you’ve done your vertical stripes, move the roller left and right on the diagonal across the stripes to spread evenly for an even finish.

Howard Stier contributed to this post. This article was originally published by Scott Garner on realtor.com.