When it Comes to Windows and Doors, Play it Safe!

Window and Door SafetyBelieve it or not, windows and doors can present potential hazards in your home. According to the National Centers for Disease Control, up to one-third of home accidents can be prevented with modifications and repairs. The following are recommendations for window and door universal design elements to help ensure safety in your home:

  • Doorways and hallways should be a minimum of 36 inches wide.
  • Place doors to allow for 18 to 24 inches clearance on the door handle side to easily open and close doors.
  • Door thresholds should be no more than 1/2 inch high above the adjacent floor. If you prefer, install mini-ramps or transition wedges.
  • Door locks should be sturdy yet easy to operate. Consider keyless locking systems for maximum convenience.
  • Install a pocket door if you don’t have the floor space necessary for a hinged door.
  • Select front doors with a view panel to make it easy to see who’s arrived at your door.
  • For added privacy on sidelights and patio doors, consider options like the cordless between-the-glass blinds and shades on Pella’s Designer Series sidelight collection so that you can enjoy a view and still conveniently cover the opening at desired times.
  • Make sure windows are easy to unlock, open, close and lock, and require minimal maintenance.
  • For greater safety and convenience, select double-hung windows that tilt in for easy cleaning, or casement units that open with the maximum clearance to allow easy access to both the exterior and interior glass surfaces from inside the building.

Your home houses what is most important – your family! Keep them safe by following these helpful tips, and don’t forget, if you need assistance making these modifications and updates to your house, your local Handyman Matters is just a phone call away. 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Replacing Window Treatments

Changing window treatments isn’t something you do all the time. It’s one of those rare home remodeling events like getting new floors or upgrading the kitchen, which usually only happens because you are either moving somewhere new or something broke apart. Maybe you have even been responsibly saving to make changes for a while and finally gathered enough funds to get it all done now. In any case, you should take some time to plan this project and make the most of your investments.

How you go about adding new window treatments will depend largely on your own situation and whether you’re moving into a new place that has bare windows or if you’re redecorating those found in your current home. Either way, and especially if you want to keep the same look that your old windows had, be sure to take photos before and after you take down the window coverings, even if they aren’t in the best shape. If you’re working with the same windows, it’s also a good idea to take the measurements of your drapes or blinds along with the actual window measurements for reference. Take the photos and measurements with you to a local window treatment or home furnishings store to find replacements more easily. You might also want to bring a sample of the fabric you’re intending to match or a cutout from a magazine that you like for inspiration.

Aside from the design and appearance there are a few other important things to consider when selecting your replacement window treatments.

Lighting

The main purpose of any window covering is to block light, but also to allow light through, and depending on the fabric or style of window treatment you choose you’ll be able to adjust the amount of natural light that comes in through the window. You also have different options depending on which part of the house you’re working on. If the room is on a side where windows are naturally covered on the outside by trees or another building or if they face away from direct sunlight, you should be able to simply use thin semi-translucent sheer drapery to cut back the glare. On the other hand, if the windows are receiving direct sunlight at any point of the day, it will be much better to use a thicker and darker colored drape instead for better room darkening and energy efficiency. This is also generally what you’ll want in your bedroom to ensure a comfortable and private sleep environment. Living rooms and kitchens tend to benefit from lighter window treatments that help illuminate the spaces, but still provide privacy. If you can afford it, the best practice is always to pair a dark heavier drape with a light sheer one behind it to have better light control.

Operation

Window shades and blinds are commonly operated by a cord and clutch, and often a continuous cord loop system, to raise and lower a shade or open blinds. However, there are other options that might be better for operating your new window treatments.

  • Cordless Control One thing you should consider very carefully regarding window treatment operation is the safety of children. Whether you have a family or are planning to have children in your home at some point, you need to be aware of the risks involved with window cords. There have been numerous accidents involving babies and young children who have become entangled in window cords and tragically strangled to death. There is a documented history of these incidents over the past 20 years and subsequent industry recalls and modifications, but the safest solution remains to use cordless window treatments. Simple curtains, sliding panels and shutters are good alternatives that don’t require any cords to operate. However, if you’re intent on having blinds or shades, these are also available with manual or wand options instead of cords.

 

  • Motorization A motorized shade system is also cordless and allows you to wirelessly control any number of shades, blinds or curtains by wall panel switch or remote. This can be a more expensive option, but the benefits of ease and convenience are great, especially when controlling multiple or large hard to reach windows. Motorized shades like any home automation component may also help add value to your property if you ever plan to sell or rent it.

 

Evaluate what will benefit each of your rooms and consider all the options available for lighting control and window covering operation. Preparing and planning for your home renovations like this will save time in the long run and ensure they will be a long lasting part of your home.

Four Fast, Fashionable And Fabulous Home Fixes Anyone Can Do

When it comes to home improvement, there are many simple projects that can dramatically update your home and stay within a tight budget. The bathroom is one area of the home that most wish was more of an oasis – it’s time to get the space you’ve always wanted with the professional help of Handyman Matters.

Vamp up your vanity

Just by its name, the bathroom vanity should exude beauty to make a style statement in your bath. However, if your current vanity features chipped paint or a dated color – it’s time for an update. Rather than buying new, you can easily make your current vanity look clean and fresh with a coat of paint. You pick out the paint that you want and the professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters will paint it for you and have it looking like new in no time. This is one fast update that will give dramatic results!

Don’t fear your faucet

We use it all the time in our bathrooms so why shouldn’t it be in style like the rest of the bathroom? It is very easy to replace and will give you that look you’ve been wanting. There are many designs and color finishes to choose from so pick one that suits your style and compliments the colors. Handyman Matters will take care of the rest!

Swap out your showerhead

Changing out the showerhead will not only increase the look of your bathroom, but will make a big difference when showering. Having the right showerhead can make your bathroom feel like a true oasis!

All about the accessories

One of the easiest ways to add a decorative touch and functionality to the bath is with accessories, such as towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks, tank levers, shelves, soap and toothbrush holders and even curved shower rods. Luckily, accessories are simple to install and there are many lines available to perfectly match or complement your new faucet style and finish. If you’re having trouble getting those towel rods mounted – call the pros at Handyman Matters to help you out.

Conserve Water In Your Home With Minimal Effort


Summer is just around the corner, and water conservation will undoubtedly be brought to the forefront for those who are impacted by seasonal droughts and water usage restrictions in their towns. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at least 36 states anticipate local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.

Simply by making small changes around the house and to our daily routines, we can make a significant impact on our water supplies without feeling as though we’re sacrificing our comforts or experience.

A good place to start is with the home bathroom, where the water-saving potential is great. The EPA estimates that Americans use roughly 3.3 billion gallons of water each day just for showering. Handyman Matters believes it’s easy to bring that number down by taking a slightly shorter shower or using a water-saving showerhead.

It seems to be abundant, but water is a relatively scarce resource. Less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water is readily accessible for direct human use. Here are a few tips that Handyman Matters professionals have put together for you to follow in order to help reduce your water consumption in the bathroom:

  • Install a water-efficient showerhead. By installing a water-efficient showerhead, the average four-person household can potentially save an estimated 11,000 gallons of water per year. Here’s an example:
    • 8-minute shower x 2.5 gallons per minute (standard showerhead) = 20 gallons used per shower.
    • 8-minute shower x 1.5 gpm (water-efficient showerhead) = 12 gallons used per shower.
    • 8-gallon savings x 4 people per day x 365 days yields approximately 11,680 gallons of water savings per four-person household, per year
  • Fix a leaky faucet. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
  • Learn to reuse and recycle. Don’t pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it, such as watering plants or cleaning.
  • Turn off the water. According to the EPA, a bathroom faucet usually runs at 2 gallons of water per minute. By turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save more than 200 gallons of water per month.
  • Take showers instead of baths. The average bathtub can hold up to 70 gallons of water when full. By taking an 8-minute shower instead of a bath, each person can save approximately 50 gallons of water per day.
  • Switch to a high-efficiency toilet. A high-efficiency toilet uses less than 1.3 gallons per flush, leading to an average of 20 percent less water per flush when compared to the industry standard of 1.6 gallons.

In March 2010, the EPA established its WaterSense specifications for showerheads to promote water efficiency in the shower, and product performance and quality. To earn the WaterSense designation, a showerhead or handshower must flow at a rate of no more than 2.0 gpm, tested at a flowing pressure of 80 psi, and is tested against the following attributes to ensure performance and user satisfaction:

  • A consistent flow rate across a range of pressures
  • Spray force
  • Spray coverage

As the world’s population increases, the conservation of water has moved from being more than just a good idea; now it is an imperative. Handyman Matters professional craftsmen can help you take some of these water conserving tips and apply them to your home. Click here to find a location near you and information on kitchen and bathroom updates and remodels that include water-sensible features and fixtures.

How To Keep Your Yard and Garden Primed Throughout The Growing Season


spring flower gardenEven though spring is upon us, there are still a variety of things you can do to keep your garden and yard primed for the growing season and into the summer. Your house isn’t the only place that needs a good spring cleaning; the exterior of your home could use it as well. Grab a notepad and take a walk through the vicinity, making notes here and there. Not only is this a great way to organize your “attack” on the ground, but it’s an opportunity to get out in the fresh air, get a little exercise, and anticipate the summer days ahead.

Here are some things you can tackle right now:

Shrubs and Trees

Prune off broken or cracked branches damaged in winter. You can tackle damaged twigs with pruners, but those branches that are 2 inches in diameter or larger need to be removed in sections so that the weight doesn’t tear the bark as they fall.

Perennials

Dig up and divide perennials that were getting too large last year. Signs that these had “outgrown” their livings space include reduced flowering, pale, off-color leaves, or smaller, puny stems. Break apart root-clumps using a knife or shovel blade and then replant smaller, healthy sections. If these are spring bloomers (tulips, iris, etc.), wait until they’ve finished flowering. Late summer bloomers can be divided and replanted by April.

Seed Heads

Snip the stalks and dried seed heads from plants left from last autumn. Remove these and dead leaves so that overwintering insects and disease aren’t a problem. Clip the stalks about two inches above the sleeping foliage.

Roses

Rose bushes are a class unto themselves, and they aren’t “one size fits all.”  All need pruning, but know your rose-types. Keep in mind that the timing is crucial, because trimming will stimulate new growth, leaving the plants vulnerable to subsequent frosts. If your rose flowers just once a year, then it’s best to wait until the blooming is done to do your pruning. Clip the branches at a 30- to 45-degree angle, and do so a quarter of an inch above a live bud.

Ornamental Grasses

Use caution when cutting these down. Wear eye protection, long sleeves and gloves. Most ornamental grass leaves are finely toothed and readily able to cut unprotected hands and fingers. A good technique for trimming is to wrap a bungee cords tightly around the grass so that it lifts the leaves up high, resembling a sheaf of wheat. Then prune by lopping the grasses about six inches from the ground. Hand pruners or a small saw will work well for this.

Lawn

Corn gluten can be an effective pre-emergent weed killer and also serves as a nitrogen fertilizer for your grass. Apply this two to four weeks ahead of  the typical weed-emergent dates in your area. Use a core aerator to punch 3-inch deep holes in the lawn to fill in bare spots in the grass and reduce thatch, then use a drop spreader to spread grass seed immeidately after the aerating. Sprinkle your lawn with water every day for several weeks until the seeds sprout.

These are a few handy tips for “pre-preparing” your yard and garden for the spading, tilling and planting that will follow, and will make those steps of the process easier for having paved the way with some organized spring cleaning first. And of course, if yardwork and gardening isn’t exactly your thing, keep in mind your local Handyman Matters location. We’re happy to help out.

Bring Spring Into Your Home – Inexpensively!


Bring Spring IndoorsSpring is a time of new beginnings. Flowers and plants are blooming, the sun is shining and the weather is finally getting warmer after winter’s chill. So why not bring some of spring’s beauty into your home so you can enjoy it day after day?

Some homeowners may think they have to purchase new accessories to refresh their home for spring. Handyman Matters knows of some easy, affordable ways to bring spring into your home by ‘upcycling’ the things you already have. These simple projects are fun ways to give a new beginning to the things you have sitting in the garage or basement, while keeping them out of the land fill. It’s a win-win for both you and Mother Nature.

Here are some tips from the professionals at Handyman Matters on how to bring the freshness of spring into your home:

Bring your flower garden indoors

A great way to perk up a home for spring is by decorating rooms where you spend the most time – like the living or family room or kitchen – with flowers. By spray painting flower pots you already own bright yellow, purple or green and grouping them into indoor “gardens,” you will give them new life, while bringing the great outdoors inside. Or, place your “new” pottery on wrought iron plant stands or pedestal tables painted in coordinating colors to add a burst of color to any room.

Winds of change

Adding color to a ceiling or oscillating fan is a great way to add a pop of color in an unexpected way. Rediscover a fan you have stored in the attic. Or find a good deal on a fan that compliments your personality at a flea market or discount store and bring it home for a facelift. Covering the fan in just one coat of inexpensive spray paint in a fresh spring color will create a conversation piece that will last throughout the year. If you’re having trouble with this project, not to worry, Handyman Matters professionals are here to help. No job is too small and they are experienced in over 1,162 different projects around your home.

Bring the outdoor patio furniture inside

Remember the old wicker chair and loveseat you picked up at Aunt Ida’s garage sale? They’re not just for outside. Throw a coat of paint on them in a bright spring color like Aqua or Green Apple and suddenly you have new seating that is perfect for your sunroom, front porch or foyer.

Restore and renew flea market finds

Flea markets are full of treasures that sometimes just need a little TLC to give them new life. Save that dingy chandelier, tarnished lamp or outdated bookcase from the trash by restoring it with a fresh coat of paint, which is sometimes all that is needed to turn garage sale or flea market finds into treasures.

Following these simple and inexpensive tips for bringing spring into your home and before you know it you’ll have splashes of sunshine, spring color and great conversation pieces throughout your home. Say goodbye to the winter blues and hello to some springtime cheer and let Handyman Matters take care of all of your home repair and improvement projects. Find a location near you!