5 Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling Your Bathroom

When experts express caution about the kinds of mistakes you can make when remodeling your bathroom, you get a lot of warnings that could apply to any renovation project: don’t do it yourself if you don’t have the expertise; hire a reputable contractor or a bathroom specialist; avoid under-budgeting. However, there are some mistakes you can make that are specific to remodeling a bathroom. Below are some of the big ones you should avoid.

Leaving Everyone in the Dark: Lots of older bathrooms were built with inadequate lighting. They might have a single overhead fixture or a couple of bulbs over the mirror, but regardless the lighting is barely adequate to apply make-up or shave. When you’re showering it’s so dim you can’t find the soap. If you want to avoid these frustrations, it’s important that you plan your renovation with lighting in mind. Think of ambient light – from recessed lights or an overhead fixture – as well as task lighting provided by pendant lights or a fixture over the sink (and maybe the shower or toilet if they’re in separate rooms). Remember that proper lighting is also a safety precaution. Your bathroom should be well illuminated so that a guest can maneuver around safely.

Photo courtesy of Case Design Birmingham

Forgetting the Little Things: It’s important to think about the little details, like outlets. A lot of older bathrooms don’t have enough outlets for the volume of hair dryers, straightening irons, electric razors, and other gadgets we use today. When renovating, be sure to include conveniently located outlets. How about storage? If you have a pedestal sink, where will you put all the toiletries people usually store under the sink? Think about towels as well. You need a convenient place in or near the bathroom to store towels and other toiletries. Another little thing to consider is the placement of the toilet paper holder. You want it where it’s a convenient reach from the toilet, but not so close to the shower or sink that it will get wet. And there is nothing worse than using damp toilet paper!

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Yes, your friends may have neon lights or waterfall faucets in their bathrooms, but think about how dated some of these trends will be in 10-20 years – around the time you might be trying to sell the house. Think of all the bathroom trends that seemed to be a good idea at the time, but now make most homeowners cringe: bathrooms tiled all in pink, avocado green or bright yellow fixtures, and Jacuzzi tubs that no one wants. Instead of choosing the latest thing in triangular sinks or red toilets, consider making your bathroom “neutral” in terms of décor. Choose neutral colors that aren’t likely to go out of fashion and classic fixtures in white or off-white. If you want a trendy look, see if you can get it with extras such as towel bars, drawer pulls, or even lighting fixtures. These things are easier for your home’s next owner to replace and aren’t likely to make them cringe.

Photo courtesy of Case Design Birmingham

Bad Space Planning: We’ve all had experience with knocking our knees on the bathtub while using the toilet. Or showering in a stall that even a supermodel would feel was too narrow. Or how about the tubs that look great in the room, but are too short for you to stretch out your legs. The clearance around certain fixtures is in the code, and it’s important to conform to these requirements. However – if you can – you should consider giving yourself more space than the bare minimum. You never know when you might have an extra large guest or someone who has trouble walking or standing. Besides, a feeling of extra space creates a sense of luxury in the room. It’s actually relaxing to have extra space and not feel cramped. When you’re planning out your bathroom remodel, think through where you need the space and where you don’t – and plan accordingly.

Choosing the Wrong Products: The bathroom isn’t like other rooms in your home. The fact that parts of it get wet every day means that you need products that are specifically designed for a damp environment. Bathrooms need a different kind of paint. They require tiles that are properly sealed to keep moisture out. Even some contractors use the wrong kind of underlayment or backer board so that over time moisture will get inside the wall, causing a whole host of problems. Similarly, you might not be particularly interested in exhaust fans, but it’s important to have one that is the right size for your bathroom (or two in a big bathroom). That could be all that’s standing between you and a major mold problem. So make sure you have the right materials before you start your renovation; it can save you plenty of headaches later on.

About the Author: Brianna Perkle is a freelance writer and guest contributor to Handyman Matters. She enjoys home decorating and remodeling.

Handyman Matters Home Away From Home Program Provides Year Round Maintenance of your Property

Does business take you away from your home for extended periods of time? Are you a “snowbird,” dividing your time between summer homes in the US and winter residences in Canada? Or do you have aging parents who don’t live close, and who aren’t able to properly care for their homes any longer?

If circumstances have you leaving your property for any reason, you can often engage a house sitter to water your plants and look after your pets. But oftentimes there are issues that require attention beyond the scope of what a traditional housesitting service is able to provide.

Does business take you away from your home for extended periods of time?

Are you a “snowbird,” dividing your time between summer homes in the US and winter residences in Canada?  Or do you have aging parents who don’t live close, and who aren’t able to properly care for their homes any longer?

If circumstances have you leaving your property for any reason, you can often engage a house sitter to water your plants and look after your pets.  But oftentimes there are issues that require attention beyond the scope of what a traditional housesitting service is able to provide.

If you live in Canada or Minnesota half the year and in Arizona or Florida the other half, your property needs more maintenance than a pal or even a bonded house sitter can undertake.  Or if your aging parents or other relatives live halfway across the country and depend on you to look after them, it’s unlikely you have the ability to check in to make sure everything in their house is operating with total efficiency as often as you’d like.

Handyman Matters’ Home Away From Home Program can handle the more maintenance-intense tasks to keep your home well maintained year-round. Here are just some of the services we provide:

  • Remove all junk flyers, business cards, newspapers, garbage and miscellaneous items off of your property
  • Sweep and clean entryway of debris
  • Check outside perimeter of fences, windows, gates and doors to ensure security around the premise
  • Visual roof inspection for possible weather damage during extreme seasons and bird nesting
  • Ensure all landscaping is receiving the necessary irrigation and confirm that landscaper is showing up and doing the work you are paying for
  • Take a monthly photo of the weather meter (upon request)
  • Check breaker box for tripped breakers and make sure there has not been any tampering
  • Inspect hot tub, spa or pool to make certain your pool company is making consistent visits
  • Check interior for any unusual odors and hot/cold temperatures
  • Turn on and run all water facilities
  • Check timers for proper scheduling
  • Refrigerator temperatures are noted and food that is expired, tossed
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Look for pests inside the property in all rooms
  • Start car and run for a few minutes
  • Turn on A/C or heat and ensure it is blowing cold or hot air

If you are responsible for looking after your parents or other loved ones and you do not live in close proximity to them, consider calling Handyman Matters to help you with the following aging in place projects which will allow your relatives to continue to live safely in their homes and give you peace of mind when you are not able to be with them:

Seniors

  • Install handrails and grab bars
  • Non-skid flooring
  • Wheelchair ramps and widen doors
  • Kitchen and bathroom hazards
  • Railings
  • Lighting
  • Exterior evaluation
  • Overall accessibility

 

Handyman Matters Home Away From Home Program is designed to give traveling homeowners, snowbirds or individuals worried about the safety of distant relatives, peace of mind knowing that their properties are being well maintained while they are away. For further information, call 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code and find Handyman Matters locations across the US and in Canada.

DIY Home Repair Tips for May

May – the tail end of spring and the precursor of summer – is the time when homeowners really need to kick their home DIY projects into high gear. With mild weather and sunny days, it’s the perfect time to take care of smaller outdoor tasks that aren’t ideal to handle in winter.

May – the tail end of spring and the precursor of summer – is the time when homeowners really need to kick their home DIY projects into high gear. With mild weather and sunny days, it’s the perfect time to take care of smaller outdoor tasks that aren’t ideal to handle in winter.

Follow these handy tips to keep your home up-to-date with repairs and maintenance during the month of May.

1.  Inspect and Tighten Screws and Nails on Decks and Patios.

Wood changes from season to season, warping and contracting with the changes in weather and temperature. Boards have a tendency to loosen if they aren’t maintained, which can cause accidents if they aren’t taken care of. To keep your deck or patio in top shape, tighten screws and hammer in protruding nails carefully to ensure that you don’t cause the boards to crack by over tightening.

2.  Clean and Seal Decks and Railings.

Decks and railings should be cleaned and sealed every year to extend their life. Usually it’s the top horizontal parts of the railing that need the most attention. It is also important to keep in mind that whatever product you start using should be used continually year over year to prevent any incompatibility issues.

3.  Inspect Concrete for Cracks.

Cracks, chips and shifting can occur in concrete. Make sure that you thoroughly inspect for all of these things. For cracks, you can grind with an angle grinder to a minimum of 1/8” and fill with a DOT spec “Bridge Grade Self-Leveling Caulk”. Only fill halfway, since it will expand as it dries. This will take care of filling cracks.

For any separation between the concrete and a wall over ½”, add a backer rod (a foam, flexible rod) to fill the gap and give the caulk something to sit on top of and stick to. If chipping and/ or missing chunks are the problem, scrape off any loose material and fill it in with “rockite”. Afterwards, texture it to match the surrounding finish for a perfect final appearance.

4.  Test Smoke Detectors.

Always test smoke detectors and CO2 detectors to make sure they’re still in working order. Replace batteries to prevent the possibility of them losing power. Also, push the button to test if the device is working.

5.  Double Check for Carpet Damages.

Stains, popped seams, and rumples are typical issues that homeowners face with carpet damage. Small stains can be removed easily with WD-40 or other household cleaners (test a small area first for discoloration). Popping seams in small areas can typically be fixed with a glue gun and frayed pieces need to be cut and covered with glue to prevent further unraveling. “Rumples” are areas where the carpet has a wavy look. These can be fixed with a “knee knicker” – a tool with a pad and teeth that grabs carpet and tightens it by pulling it further over the tack strip at the outside edge.

6.  Check for Rips, Tears and Curling in Linoleum.

For common rips in linoleum, re-glue with the manufacturer’s recommended glue. For tears that might happen, re-glue with a clear vinyl-seaming adhesive. Curling means that nothing is holding down the outside edge. These edges need to be covered and held down by molding, transition strips, adhesive caulk or other materials to prevent curling and allowing water and dirt under the flooring.

If any of these DIY projects are too much for you to take on or you just simply don’t have enough time in your day, call the experienced professionals at Handyman Matters today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

How To Choose A Hardwood Floor

One of the most popular flooring types today is hardwood. It’s available in a wide range of types and finishes, and can last over a century (if taken care of properly). Hardwood flooring can add significant value to a home, making it an attractive consideration for many homeowners. But choosing a wood floor can be difficult since there are many options to consider before installing.

Advantages Of Wood Flooring

One of the most popular flooring types today is hardwood. It’s available in a wide range of how to choose a new hardwood floortypes and finishes, and can last over a century (if taken care of properly).

There are many reasons to choose hardwood:

Installing hardwood flooring should be considered a long-term investment that will hold its worth for a long period of time, and will increase the home’s resale value, well surpassing any installation cost.  Wood planks have very little chemical processing.  For the healthy-minded there are also much lower levels of chemical emissions from natural wood products and wood is certainly more readily renewable and recyclable than other flooring materials.

Your new flooring may need some refinishing, sanding and finish coats over the years, but consider that carpeting and vinyl flooring need to be replaced about three or four times in the same time period that wooden flooring will last.

But choosing a wood floor can be difficult since there are many options to consider before installing:

Types of Wood

There are many types of wood, but the most popular used for hardwood floors are:

  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Douglas Fir

Once you choose the type of wood you want to install, you’ll need to select a finish. Finishes are important because they seal in the wood and help protect it from moisture and everyday wear and tear. It also provides a sleek, finished look to the surface.

The most common types of finishes are:

  • Oil-based Urethane
  • Water-based Urethane
  • Moisture-cured Urethane
  • Conversion Varnish

Understanding the Cost

Flooring is priced by the square foot, and hardwood floors can range from the relatively inexpensive ($2 per square foot) to far more expensive for exotic woods (up to $13-$14 per square foot), with the average wood floor ranging around $8 per square foot.

Now that you know what type of floor and finish you’d like, and you have an idea of what it will cost, let’s take a look at some other factors that will determine the best type of wood flooring for your home.

1. The room’s usage – Depending on what room in which the flooring is being installed, different types of hardwood may be more appropriate. For instance, a living room might take more traffic and general wear than a spare bedroom or a home office.

2. The room’s decor – Keep in mind how the room is going to be decorated (colors, themes, furniture). These elements will also dictate which type of flooring will look best, since hardwoods vary in color.

3. The wood’s grade – The grade of the wood should always be considered, since this tells how durable and prone to defects, scratches and dents a wood will be. Higher grades are more durable, while lower grades will retain more dents and scratches.

Whichever type of wood you decided to purchase for your floors, call the experts at Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME to take care of the installation from start to finish. You can also enter your zip code above to find a location near you.

Central and South American Hardwood: Preserving Your Wallet and Your Planet

In the clutches of winter, most of us count down the days to the first spring thaw and undertaking exciting new home projects. Whether it’s building a new deck, working on the bathroom or putting in new hardwood floors, something always needs doing.

If you’re thinking of doing anything with hardwood when planning for this year’s home improvement season, it would behoove your wallet, your planet and your sanity to install wood with a longer shelf life. “Of course,” you say to yourself. “That’s why I prefer cedar.”

But what if there was another type of wood that lasted twice as long as the toughest wood grown in North America? What if there was a type of wood that withstood the elements better, was more resistant to bugs and termites, and was more reluctant to bend and warp over time?

We may have to get our passports for this one.

Key Benefits of Central and South American Hardwood

Ipe. Cumaru. Garapa. Jatoba. Tigerwood.

These are just a few of the more well-known varieties of natural hardwood grown in Central and South America that have the potential to save you money and time in your next home improvement project.

 Here are the top 6 reasons these types of wood are better for you than their North American counterparts:

1. More Resilient

Central and South American hardwoods are more resilient in the face of adverse conditions and less prone to rot and decay – Central and South America are much harsher climates where the trees have to endure standing water for months at a time in addition to ravenous attacks by insects that put termites to shame. Let this hardwood turn the laws of Darwin in your favor.

2. No Annual Maintenance Required

Conventional hardwood requires annual pressure treatments with toxic chemicals to ensure long-lasting effectiveness. Central and South American hardwoods are much more durable and naturally last twice as long as North American hardwood without chemicals.

3. Better for the Environment

In the same vein, they are better for the environment due to this lack of chemicals. These toxic chemicals are harmful to the health of your family as well as the environment in the form of run-off – when it rains, the chemicals get into the groundwater and, ultimately, into rivers and lakes, poisoning natural wildlife in addition to our own water supply.

4. Last More Than Twice as Long as Conventional Hardwood

They are also better for the environment because they last more than twice as long – some for 40-75 years. The use of natural, longer-lasting materials helps to reduce waste accumulation, easily trumping woods like pine, cedar and redwood.

5. Fire Resistant

Some types of Central and South American hardwood, like Ipe, have a “Class A” fire rating – the same fire rating as concrete.

6. More Custom Color Options

A larger variety of shades and colors, like those offered by Brazilian hardwood, allow homeowners more choices to get the most custom look possible. Hardwoods like tiger wood have a unique texture with striking black and brown streaks – hence the name.

Composite wood substitutes, and what marketers have for years tried to pass off as the equivalent of natural wood, have largely been successful because they have only been compared to North American hardwood, so they tended to last longer and were less expensive.

But now it’s time to up the ante on your home improvement and go green with a more durable, longer-lasting and more attractive look. This can only be achieved via the preferential use of  Central and South American hardwood.

Jeff Hirz is a guest contributor to Handyman Matters and part-time DIYer. He contributed this article on behalf of www.bwdepot.com to promote healthy wallets and a healthy planet.

5 Tips For Preparing Your Home For Aging In Place

While most people notice the change in themselves as they age, many neglect to notice the changes that are needed in their home to keep their homes age appropriate. There are many things that you can do to increase safety and make sure that your home fits the ever-increasing needs in your life. Handyman Matters has put together these 5 benefits for aging in your home.

While most people notice the change in themselves as they age, many neglect to notice the changes that are needed in their home to keep it age appropriate. There are many things that you can do to increase safety and make sure that your home fits the ever-increasing needs in your life. Handyman Matters has put together these 5 tips for preparing your home for aging in place.

1. Reduces the Number of Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are the biggest problem that aging adults face in their home. Whether it’s a slippery hallway or poorly lighted rooms, adding handrails can drastically decrease falls in the home, grab bars and re-arranging furniture in the bedroom, bathroom, hallways and kitchen.

2. Navigation is Simplified

Oftentimes our homes aren’t laid out in a manner that’s easy for walking and navigating. There may be pieces of furniture that jut out into the hallway and make it hard to maneuver around. In addition, a slippery rug in a hallway can create a dangerous surface. By modifying the layout of furniture and different rooms, it’s easy to create an environment that’s easier to negotiate – especially if assistance with a cane, walker or wheelchair is necessary.

3. Cooking Becomes Safer and More Accessible

As we age, we become more susceptible to arthritis, and our grip becomes less effective. This can be overcome by switching door and cabinet handles with models that are easier to grasp, as well as replacing utensils, pots and pans with ones that have larger and more ergonomic shaped handles.

4. Drastically Increases Independence

Installing handrails and bars in bathrooms, installing automatic lights and other home modifications can increase a person’s independence for a longer amount of time. These types of modifications help keep seniors safe and independent while giving them the ability to go about their daily activities.

5. Maintains a Current Standard of Living

One of the biggest fears of most people as they age is a fear of having to leave their home. However, this can be delayed if a home is properly set up and modified to make it easier for aging adults to continue to live their lives.

Handyman Matters offers aging in place services to help you remain independent and safe in your home. By implementing universal design elements in bathrooms, kitchens and through the house, we can help you transform your home into a living space that functions efficiently for all ages and conditions. Let us perform our free 50-point assessment on your home to uncover risks you might be facing. Call us today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

 

Handyman Matters Awards Grand Prize Bathroom Remodel To Aurora, Colorado Air Force Reservist

 

In the summer of 2012 Handyman Matters locations all across the county launched The Handyman Matters Great American Home Makeover. Now, the grand prize winner, Samuel Alexander, of Aurora, Colorado is enjoying his new updated bathroom.

The Denver Post went to The Alexander home to check in on them and see how they are enjoying their new bathroom and what they thought of the experience. Full story below or click here.

To read more information about the winners of this contest click here to see full post.

Stay tuned for more information regarding The Handyman Matters Great American Home Makeover coming summer of 2013!