How To Repair Drywall Cracks In Your Home

Getting rid of drywall cracksLike a squeaky floor or a loose lockset, even the smallest drywall crack or nail pop can be cause for concern for new homeowners or prospective buyers, triggering service callbacks or resulting in lost sales.

Sure, you can try to explain those blemishes away with talk of “normal settling,” which may in fact be true, but folks on the fence about buying a home at all look at those figures and dimples as red flags of poor construction quality and perhaps something more problematic and costly, and not worth the risk.

Drywall cracks and nail pops occur at framing joints, primarily around openings and corners.

What Causes Drywall Cracks?

Causes range from foundation or soil settling to lumber components reacting to seasonal climate changes and misaligned or improperly installed framing members, supports, fasteners or connectors.

Deep-seated reasons, often indicated by diagonal cracks (as opposed to straight along a framing joint) may indicate a failing (or failed) foundation, improperly engineered framing loads or truss uplift.

How To Fix Drywall Cracks

  • Use a utility knife to cut a narrow, V-shaped groove along the length of the crack.
  • Blow out debris and drywall dust to create a clean cavity.
  • If the crack is along a framing member, drill screws on either side of the crack into the solid wood behind it, about 6 inches along the crack, with the heads countersunk.
  • Bridge the entire groove with fiber-mesh joint tape and apply a hot-mud compound with a taping knife on either side of the tape, covering it and leaving a 20-inch “patch.”
  • Feather and sand/texture to match the surrounding finish.

How To Prevent Drywall Cracks

Cosmetic cracks and pops are almost inevitable, but you can go a long way toward reducing or even preventing them by using high-quality, straight-framing lumber that is allowed to acclimate before being installed.

This helps ensure that framing and drywall joints are aligned, tight and properly secured.

Redefine The Interior Of Your Home With Wall Lighting

wall-lightingDo you currently have wall lights in your home? If not, you may want to consider making a switch. Wall lights not only look great but they come in a whole range of styles, too. That means whatever your own taste and décor, you will be able to find fixtures that complement your home’s design.

Classic Wall Lights

If you have a classic style then you will want to choose wall lights that fit in with this scheme. What about antique brass lights? Maybe a ceramic uplighter is more the style you are looking for? Either way, wall lights add a great deal of warmth and style to a room that is classically designed. There are wall lights available in a range of materials and colors, too. If you really want to make your lights stand out, select multi-colored glass lights. These offer an antique or vintage feel that really makes a statement.

Contemporary Wall Lights

If you prefer the more contemporary look, there are plenty of wall lights to choose from. The minimalist look can easily be applied to wall lights with stylish designs made from metal and glass. Stainless steel is another popular type of contemporary fixture. These look good and function well in offices, too. If your house has a home office then you may well want to consider this arrangement there. All budgets can be catered to in the contemporary wall light range.

Crystal and Glass Wall Lights

Crystal and glass wall lights are currently very popular. They can bring a great deal of elegance and style into a room. There are chandelier type wall lights that are as effective at creating a look that is both elegant and decadent. There are also vintage varieties available that can do a lot to enhance the look of the room.

Picture and Mirror Lights

When you have beautiful pictures or mirrors that adorn the walls of your home, you want them to stand out. The best way of doing this is by choosing some picture and mirror lights. These sit on the top of the pictures and the mirrors and shine down onto them. It is a great way of bringing some accent lighting into the room. Having a light shining on a mirror will also create an illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is.

Whatever your style or budget, there are wall lights available to transform your home. You can do some online research or check with your local home improvement store to help you decide what kind of fixtures will best complement your home and vision.

(with information from Kathryn Dawson, interior lighting design expert)

Cozy Up To Winter With These Tips From Handyman Matters

cozy-up-to-winterWith summer in full swing, it’s difficult to imagine that colder months are just around the corner. But the bitter truth is that now is a good time to turn your attention to some decorating tips designed to give your house a cozy, comfortable feel, far from winter’s chill.

Furniture Layout. If you’re lucky enough to gather around your living room or family room fireplace this winter you may want to consider a quick change to the furniture layout or floor plan – cozying things up a bit. If your fireplace is centrally located within a wall and is flanked by windows or bookcases that are the same dimensions on each side, then you’re dealing with a more traditional space and personality – which speaks to a more traditional furniture layout. Pairs are important here. To take advantage of the roaring fire flank a pair of comfortable and inviting chairs on either side of the fireplace which will keep you and your guests warm and cozy. Place your sofa directly facing the fireplace for a comfortable conversation area and a great view of that crackling fire. After all it’s the focal point of the room.

Flooring. Whether your home has carpeting, hardwood, stone or tiled flooring there are some quick and easy solutions to cozy up your space. Add more layers for warmth, right on top of your existing flooring material. Don’t be afraid to layer one or even two area rugs for texture and color. Relax the formality and potential stiffness with some colorful patterns and textures.

Draperies. Again it’s all about layering and adding weight to the walls.. If your window coverings are sheer or simple blinds, add heavier fabrics over those thinner ones for an entirely new treatment. Find some ready made panels to attach over top your windows in a velvet or brocade fabric. If you love the look of winter white, install some off-white or cream velvet panels for the ultimate in winter chic.

Accessories. This is a simple quick fix. Remove all your existing accessories, store them and re-visit them again for another season. Look for vintage blankets, throws and pillows and blend textures. Mix and match your blankets from plaids to knits, and even faux fur, and drape them over sofas, chairs and ottomans throughout your home. They will keep you all warm and cozy during those frigid nights. Replace your old sofa pillows with knit sweater pillows, tea towels and even printed burlaps for added interesting patterns and texture. Natural elements are all around us. Bring the outdoors in – even now by incorporating, birch trunks, light green foliage, pine cones and candles and sprinkle these elements in with family photos, framed in metals or whites for that monochromatic sophistication.

So light that fire, grab some hot chocolate and enjoy cozying up in your winter chic home.

Troubleshooting Your Garage Door

garage-doorInstalling a garage door system can cost a lot of money, and so does replacing them. That’s why it can be a headache if your current unit is not working as smoothly as it was and you cannot point a finger to the cause. But before making any major decisions, check out this garage door repair and troubleshooting checklist.

1. Look around

The first thing you need to do is to look around for external causes. You would be surprised at how many problems can be caused by small tools or equipment becoming lodged somewhere in the assembly.

2. Clean up

A thick gooey substance can accumulate on the rollers and the tracks of the garage door. This is the result of exposure to dust and the lubricants used for maintenance. The resulting friction may cause the equipment to become stuck. You can remove the substance by using ordinary household cleaning agents or mild soap. When you use a cleaning agent for the rollers, make sure you dry everything thoroughly.

3. Lubricate

Sometimes, the mechanism does not work properly because the moving parts aren’t lubricated enough. Lubrication should be done twice a month; just avoid getting anything on the plastic idler bearings. Powdered graphite can be used on the tracks and household oil is good for the rollers. Take care as you do this process to avoid any issues described in step 2.

4. Check Springs

You should also check the cables and extension springs. Extension springs are those that can be found on either side of the door, running from a pulley. Make sure that the cables and springs aren’t rusty. If they are, you may need to make a phone call to a local professional to determine if they just need cleaning or need to be replaced. Make sure you replace the springs in pairs so there won’t be imbalance. There is, however, another spring system in use for most garage systems, and that is the torsion spring. This is a high-tension spring that is; unless you are very well-versed in this type of repair, you should definitely consult with or engage a professional technician.

5. Tighten Down

Garage doors, just like anything, is subject to wear and tear. Bolts, hinges, and screws are no exception, especially since your garage doors are used very often. Check all the screws and bolts involved in the opening mechanism for your garage door. There are times when tightening those might solve the problem. If they cannot be tightened anymore because of loose holes, you can use pieces of wood as a filler. Check to see if the hinges are sagging. Adjust or replace them if they need attention. For side-hinge garage doors, make sure the timber where the hinges are connected is in excellent condition also.

6. Look at The Tracks

Search for dents and dings in the metal tracks. Tracks direct the roller assembly, so they are extremely important. Examine the alignment as well and fix damaged locations back into position when feasible.

Garage systems tend to be 7 feet of wood, metal, or plastic, often a mixture of all three. So it might take some detective work to discover what’s faulty. This checklist can simplify the process.

The Importance Of Proper Tree Care

The importance of proper tree careYour property’s biggest natural asset may be its trees. By using professional tree trimming services, you can keep their value and maintain good neighbor relations. Neglected trees, especially those near property lines or streets can be a major source of neighbor conflicts. You can steer clear of such conflicts by maintaining healthy and well-trimmed trees.

Although trees can provide much sought after shade in the summer months, they can also be especially damaging to roofs. Your neighbor may hold you responsible for any damage caused by your tree. Although your neighbor has a right to trim the tree from her side of the property, it is in your best interest to hire a professional to do the tree trimming for you. The last thing you need is for your neighbor or you to fall attempting to trim back the branches of your tree.

Privacy is great, but trees overhanging the fence are not. This is one of the most common neighbor complaints. As most fences are a shared cost, neighbors are quick to be concerned about the effect of an overgrown tree branches resting near or on the fence. When the tree is trimmed, it is important not to have more weight on one side of the tree than the other.

Overgrown trees can also block sunlight that your lawn and gardens need to be healthy. Make sure the trimming is done correctly because over time, such an off-kilter tree may fall over or even uproot itself. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to hire a professional and get permission from your neighbor to access their yard. If you have been diligent in maintaining your trees along the fence line, when it comes time to replace the fence you are likely to have a very cooperative neighbor.

Professional tree trimmers not only keep you safe but advise you on how to keep your trees healthy. Before the storm season, it is also a good idea to have your trees assessed for potential risks. Tree trimmers have been trained to recognize which limbs pose a risk of breaking. Fallen tree limbs can cause major damage to cars, roofs, windows and even injury to people or pets.

Although no one likes to sacrifice a tree, there are times that tree removal is required. An older tree with deep and invasive roots may be causing damage to your or your neighbor’s plumbing or foundation. Or perhaps you have a diseased tree. Whatever the case, you may be faced with the decision of tree removal.

In extreme cases, you may need emergency service, so be sure to discuss the reasons and process for the removal of the tree with your neighbor. This will help ensure smooth relations and make the tree removal process easier. Removing a tree, especially a large tree, is no easy feat and a small miscalculation can result in property damage or injury and even death. This job is definitely best left to the professionals.

Outdoor Rug Buying Guide

outdoor-rugsRugs can do for outdoors spaces what they’ve been doing for indoor spaces for years—define an area and add color, style and texture. Today’s outdoor rugs are so good-looking, durable and affordable that many of them look great as indoor rugs, too.

Here’s a handful of tips to keep in mind when buying or replacing an outdoor rug:

  • Some are more durable than others, but you can expect to replace an outdoor rug every couple of years if you leave it exposed to the elements year round. They will last longer if you put them in a covered area.
  • Sometimes a good shake and spot clean is all an outdoor rug needs. You can also vacuum it. But for a good cleaning, hang it up, hose it off, and let it dry completely before putting it back.
  • When buying, look for a label that says 100 percent polypropylene. The tag should also say that the rug is UV-stabilized to resist fading, mold and mildew.
  • Because outdoor rugs are made of synthetic, durable, all-weather materials, they’re a good option for indoors, too, especially in high-traffic areas and mudrooms.
  • If you are trying to decide between a hand-made or a machine-made rug, consider this: Machine-made rugs are lighter, they dry faster, and they are better for exposed areas. Handmade may have a higher pile and feel softer, but they hold water and will stay soggy longer.
  • Add a mesh pad under the rug if it’s slipping. A pad will also make it look thicker.
  • When picking an outdoor rug, determine the size. In a seating area, at least all front legs of furniture should be on the rug. In a dining area, all legs should be on the rug even when chairs are scooted out.
  • Current popular designs include bold colors and patterns, particularly florals, botanicals, and geometrics.

Keep Your Hard Floors Looking as Good as New

Oak-Hardwood-FlooringIf you are one of the many American homeowners who recently have replaced the carpeting in your home with hard flooring, you’re probably already looking for ways to keep it as beautiful and fresh as it was the day it was installed.

One of the reasons people are drawn to hard flooring is that it opens up the look of rooms and brings an air of polish and order to the home environment. Whether your floors are wood, marble, tile, or linoleum, you want them to stay clean – especially when those unexpected visitors arrive at your front door.

Many people can surely remember watching mom scrubbing and mopping the kitchen floor with a bucket full of cleaning solution, but those days are long gone. Now, there are plenty of effective and affordable solutions for keeping hard floors clean and fresh.”

Handyman Matters suggests following  these tips for caring for hard floors:

* Clean your bare floors frequently, especially wood floors. Grit tracked into your house from outside can easily grind into the flooring as your family walks around. With frequent cleaning, your floors should keep their shine much longer.

* When spills occur, clean them up immediately. This prevents substances from staining the floor or grout in between the tiles.

* Don’t clean wood or laminate wood floors with a wet mop, because it can cause swelling of the wood. If your wood floors are sealed, steam cleaners are a better option. Cut floor cleaning time in half with an all-in-one tool like the a steam and sweep which picks up dry debris and cleans hard floors in one pass, using the natural power of steam which can kill many germs and bacteria lingering on your floors as well.

* When vacuuming wood floors, use a vacuum with straight suction or turn off the carpet-beater brush if possible. Find a vacuum that uses straight suction and a unique V-shaped foot to capture dirt along the edges and baseboards of your floor without the help of brooms or attachments. And if you have pets in your home, find a vacuum that has special rubber wipers to attract pet hair along edges of the flooring and under cabinets.

* To restore shine to wood floors with a wax finish, try buffing the floor instead of immediately applying another coat of wax. But if that doesn’t bring back the shine, you may need to apply a liquid wax made specifically for wood floors. Let it dry after applying and buff the area again. Contact your local Handyman Matters Franchise to request a craftsman to assist you for a beautiful, professional wax finish.

With the help the Handyman Matters craftsman and these modern cleaning solutions, homeowners can kick that old-fashioned broom, mop and bucket routine to the curb, and tackle even the trickiest hard floor messes with efficiency and ease. The professionals at Handyman Matters can help take care of all of your interior projects – no matter how small! Click here to find a location near you or call 866-FIX MY HOME, today.

The Story of Our American Dream, Part 19: Value & Listen

american-flagAnother lesson in the dogged pursuit of My American Dream has been learning to value, listen—really listen—to the opinions of those I’ve asked to accompany me on the journey.

If I’ve asked somebody to have faith in my goals, then I need to demonstrate a willingness to listen to their ideas and suggestions, as well. Every one of us has experienced those occasions when a “disconnect” in communication over something relatively small and simple can quickly escalate into something large and damaging. It happens in our personal lives and it happens in our professional ones just as readily.

And it’s more than simply listening to the words. It’s listening to the intent BEHIND the words. This can be a hard-won lesson, and here’s a personal example.

Some time back, when working with a not-for-profit organization, I was disappointed to learn that one of the participants, a top performer in the system, would not be attending an upcoming event. This was unprecedented in the history of the group, and I was immediately concerned about the message this noticeable absence would send.

This individual was up for a prestigious award, and as a member of the board of directors, we had to uphold the established policy that no award would be given to non-attendees of the annual convention.

Word of this rule got back to this person after the convention. The reaction was immediate and incendiary. There were hurt feelings and real loss to the team that worked so hard and lost the recognition.

I was adamant in my stance, and it took the intervention of a third party, someone who was communicating with this individual on a more direct, personal level to make me stop and consider things from a different perspective.

Whereas I saw somebody who I thought was simply being stubborn or even “difficult,” this third party was listening to some very real, legitimate concerns from the non-attendee.

I was overlooking the fact that this individual had become a top performer by following the blueprint of our nonprofit organization and taking to heart its principles. He had declined to attend the convention for a very legitimate reason: In a tough economy, rather than opting to lay off any staff members, he had asked everyone in his department to work reduced hours until the organization’s financial picture was healthier. Under those circumstances, this individual was concerned that it would seem frivolous and counterproductive if his staff, having tightened their own belts in the face of economic hardship, were to see him spend money to fly off to a convention held in a location that is viewed by many as a vacation destination.

It was so simple. And so obvious. Yet it took a third party, someone with no emotional stake in the scenario, to take the time to talk directly to this person and get the full story. Once this had been brought to my attention, I did what I should have done at the start: I picked up the phone and talked directly to this individual who had chosen to miss the convention, and listened to all he had to say.

The experience has taught me that LISTENING is an active, not a passive process. It’s not enough to hear the words when someone talks to me; to get the full intent, I have to set aside any pre-conceived notions of what is being said and get to the heart of what is actually being communicated. It’s a policy I have transferred wholeheartedly into my Handyman Matters business.

And I need to remind myself of this goal on a regular basis. If I’m asking others to accompany on this path, then I must be prepared to listen to them every step of the way.

The Story of Our American Dream, Part 18: The Double-Edged Sword

double-edged-swordI’ve mentioned before that my Handyman Matters business started in the basement of the home my wife and I owned.  This was, to say the least, an inauspicious beginning, but we made it work.

Our “high tech” office furniture was a pool table and desks we created from sawhorses with old doors laid across them.  And within those confines, we were able to post over a million dollars in gross sales.  It was a nice start, requiring very little overhead.

I had come from a job in a high-pressure industry—the food and beverage service business—a career that is not conducive to a family life—or any kind of a personal life for that matter.  That experience was still very fresh in my mind, and I was in search of something that wasn’t quite so likely to consume my every waking moment.

So as I entered this new phase of my life, one of my goals was to learn to balance work and family, making a success of each without negatively impacting the other.

Success can quickly turn this into a double-edged sword.  We outgrew the basement office space.  The phone constantly ringing just a short distance from where we would be having dinner, or trying to spend time playing with our kids, was more and more a reminder that it was time to take the business to a different location.

We needed the sort of legitimacy that comes with a retail space, with real office furniture, and with employees who need to upgrade their workspace to something beyond a little red school chair and a desk that also doubles as a billiard table.

The trick, in establishing the move, was to make a shift that could take me physically, but not mentally or emotionally, away from my family and a personal life.  One of the fundamental philosophies of Handyman Matters was—and is—to create business opportunities for people dedicated to both business and personal success, and I needed to keep that uppermost in my mind if I—and those who would work with me—intended to achieve all of this.

I was looking to engage employees—and later, owners of Handyman Matters franchises who could manage, market and build their businesses while still retaining the opportunity and freedom to have a lifestyle at the end of the day where they can be good parents to their children and good representatives of their community.

To settle for anything less would have meant compromising My American Dream.

Five Savvy Bathroom Updates for Added Safety and Style

savvy-bathroom-remodelWhile everyone loves to have a new look to refresh their homes, design experts report that traditional styling remains the most popular home decor choice in the U.S. — often featuring detailed, Old World accents and deep, rich colors and finishes.

However, in today’s challenging economy, most homeowners don’t have the necessary funds to completely renovate their homes. Instead, they are looking to “remodel lite” by adding simple and inexpensive updates to refresh the most frequently used rooms, like the bathroom.

Luckily, you can easily create a new look for your bath with Old World charm and on a budget. With just a few new items – and a bit of help from Handyman Matters professional craftsmen – your bathroom will be more stylish (and safer) in no time.

Subtle Safety

One of the most important (but least thought of) updates you can make in your bathroom is to add bathroom safety accessories. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sense of style. In fact, home decor and improvement stores offer a variety of products, such as Grab Bars and Hand Grips in attractive designs and popular finishes, such as Old World Bronze and Brushed Nickel, to coordinate with the rest of your bathroom. And, to help with installation, secure mount anchors allow you to install the decorative bars anywhere on the wall – no stud needed – so they can be placed in the most ideal and aesthetically pleasing locations. If you need help hanging any of these items around your bathroom, Handyman Matters can help!

Fast Fix With Fixtures.

To get the most enjoyment out of your bathroom, update the parts you touch every day – like your faucets. Retailers offer a wealth of reasonably priced, high-quality and attractive faucets in deep, Old World-inspired finishes, like Oil Rubbed Bronze, to coordinate with the rest of your newly updated bath. Look for WaterSense-labeled faucets, so your bath will not only be fashionable – but will save water, too.

Sensational Showers

Nothing starts or ends your day better than an enjoyable shower, and it’s easy to make your experience stellar. Start with a curved shower rod to add additional elbow room and swap your current showerhead for one with a more powerful and enjoyable stream. Be sure to coordinate the finish of both to ensure you keep with the rest of your bath styling. And, for added elements of safety, add tread strips for more secure footing; or a quality shower chair.

Storage and Space Savers

In addition to creating a style statement for your Old World bath, bathroom accessories are ideal for creating storage and organization and adding useful space to your bathroom. To pull all your finishes together, add towel bars, towel rings, decorative shelves and robe hooks in an oil rubbed bronze finish to create an easy place to keep towels and robes. Installation of these items is quick and easy with the pros at Handyman Matters. No job is too small when it comes to updating your bathroom. And, for a unique new accessory, add new towel bar hooks or shower rod hooks. These ingenious, S-shaped hooks snap right on to virtually any towel bar or any shower rod to help keep everyday items close at hand – yet off the vanity or floor.

Amazing accents.

Finally, once you’ve updated the many “hard” surfaces of your bath, it’s time to add the soft elements. Soft, fluffy towels and rugs, along with a beautiful fabric shower curtain create a warm and inviting atmosphere. And, for an added tranquil feel, try placing live – or artificial – plants and flowers throughout the room. Remember, when choosing colors for these accents; feature a mix of both deep shades and neutrals for the perfect balance.

Soon, with minimal budget and effort, your bathroom will be safer and more enjoyable, featuring a new look with beautiful Old World-style your guests will envy.

Whatever your personal style, and whether you’re aiming to improve your home’s resale value or enhance your enjoyment of your house, upgrading your bathrooms is an investment that makes sense. VisitHandymanMatters.com for more guidance on making your bathroom sensational. To find a location near you, call 866-FIX-MY-HOME (866-349-6946).

Courtesy of ARAcontent