Fool-Proof Tips for Cleaning Wood Surfaces

To keep the wood surfaces in your home clean and beautiful without damage, you need to consider the kind of wood and the treatment it receives.

General Cleaning for Wood Furniture and Paneling

One of the first rules of cleaning wood is this: never soak it with water.

Wood is porous, and applying water will swell the pores. Water can also damage many types of finishes – the proof is that most of us have a table or desk with tell-tale rings on them left by wet cups.

While dusting with a barely-damp cloth shouldn’t harm painted wood surfaces, any application of water to oiled, lacquered, or unfinished wood is likely to leave permanent, disfiguring marks.

Opt instead for a dry dusting cloth, or use the dusting attachment on your vacuum cleaner to keep wood furniture and paneling clean.

Dry or Damp Wood Dusting Cloth
Use A Dusting Cloth Like This

Can You Clean Wood With Vinegar?

It isn’t a good idea to clean wood with pure, undiluted vinegar. In addition to leaving water marks, the acid in the vinegar could “eat” certain kinds of finishes.

However, for polishing wood, a homemade treatment of half olive oil and half white vinegar can buff up stained and oiled wood finishes nicely. Simply apply with a soft clean cloth and rub in well. Blot off any excess with a second cloth.

How To Clean Wood Floors With Vinegar

  • Add a cup of white vinegar to your mop bucket for extra grease-cutting power. Don’t let pools of water stand on the wood afterwards, or you may wind up with water marks, especially on darker woods.
  • Stand on a towel and “walk” it around the room to wipe up any excess water.

While vinegar can be safe, DON’T use other solvents like alcohol, ammonia, or acetone-these will damage your furniture or even strip off the paint.

How To Clean Wood Floors (without vinegar)

Don’t want to use vinegar? Follow these steps to clean your hardwood floors like a pro:

  1. Clear The Space. First, clear the room of any furniture that is easily moveable. Chairs get in the way and are easy to move.
  2. Dust The Floor. Begin by sweeping or dusting your floor with a microfiber mop. Use a microfiber mop instead of a broom. This will trap dust and allergens instead of pushing it around the room. Be sure to keep the mop on the floor so you don’t release any dirt. You won’t use water in this first step.wet and dry microfiber mop
  3. Apply Hardwood Cleaner. Next, you’ll lightly spray the floor with hardwood floor cleaner.hardwood floor cleaner
  4. Mop The Floor. Use a dampened wet microfiber mop pad (included in this kit) and walk it back and forth in direction of the grain. Be sure the mop isn’t dripping wet and clean up any standing water right away. It only needs to be slightly damp.

How To Polish Your Wood Floors

Want your floor to really shine? You’ll need to polish it. This doesn’t have to be done every time you clean the floor. Once every 3 months is the recommended schedule. It will really make your floor look great and protects it at the same time!

  1. Follow the steps above for cleaning your floors.
  2. Shake the hardwood polish well and spray on the floor in an “S” pattern.hardwood floor polish
  3. Use a clean microfiber pad to massage the polish into the wood against the grain.
  4. Smooth the surface with the grain.

It helps to polish your floors in small sections and be sure to start in one corner and end in a spot where you won’t have to walk over the floor for an hour. Avoid heavy traffic for 24 hours if possible. If your hardwood is heavily worn or old, you may need to think about refinishing it. Enjoy your great looking floor!

Types Of Waxes For Wood Surfaces

Adding a shine to wood furniture, especially antiques or exotic woods, is as easy as applying some wax. Waxes made specifically for wood furniture are designed to provide extra protection from moisture, dust, and stains as well as a pleasing soft sheen. Even better, if you want to refinish your furniture at any point, wax will not cause problems.

Liquid waxes are the easiest to apply, and often dry quickly, but you may need to apply more than one coat to really see results in terms of both looks and protection. The results from liquid wax usually last up to four months, depending on how much wear your furniture gets.

Paste waxes offer superior, long-lasting protection to fine wood furniture. It isn’t necessary to apply more than one coat to most woods, but the extra effort can take your wood from looking good to looking great. The hard, shiny finish given by paste wax is well worth your time for treating lacquered and oiled woods.

How To Remove Water Stains On Wood

As with stains on carpet, it’s best to treat water stains on wood as soon as possible after they happen. Blot up any excess moisture and try one of the following home remedies, depending on what you have lying around the house:

  • Apply shaving cream. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe up.
  • Apply real mayonnaise on a cloth. Let rest on the stain for up to 10 minutes and wipe off.
  • Gently apply metal cleaner. Leave for 5 minutes and wipe away excess.

All-In-One Wood Cleaners

Finally, many products are available that treat wood while cleaning it. These products, while effective for painted, sealed, and laminated wood surfaces, should be tested in an inconspicuous place on unsealed or oiled woods before trying. These cleaners can be a convenient and effective solution for wood surfaces in areas that are frequently soiled, such as kitchens or bathrooms. Try products from Bona, specially designed to clean sealed woods. Check out our recommended wood cleaning kit below.

Bona-Kemi-4-Piece-Hardwood-Floor-Care-System-WM710013358
This Kit Has Everything You Need!

Best of the Internet – Entryways

The entryway serves an important purpose in every home.  It’s akin to a waiting room, the limbo between being fully invited into a home, and standing on the porch.  It’s also probably the first thing that gets cleaned when unanticipated company is driving up the block.  What is the importance behind this room?  The entryway is your home’s first impression.  If all your guest sees is the first 50 ft. of your home, what conclusions will they draw?

Handyman Matters believes in opening up your entryways to positive interpretations.  We believe in taking this home element and transforming it into its once elegant standing as, the foyer.

But to transform an entryway to a foyer, you must consider a few key elements…

  • Space

Clear a wide doorway radius.  The more initial space, the less disorienting it will be for newcomers to step into your home.  You should try to have enough space to accommodate the special makeup of around 4 or so people.  Give your guests a second to chat and to acclimate in this open area before moving onto the rest of your home.

   

  • Organization

Like most rooms in your home, the foyer serves a specific purpose.  It is the first and last stop in and out of your home.  This means it should carry your necessary outdoor items, such as a spot for shoes, keys, jackets, umbrellas, etc.  Having a cubby system, a bench, or wall hangers will be key to getting your home organized, and at its most efficient.

   

  • Design

Similar to having extra space, it is important to not initially overwhelm your guests with design.  However, the foyer provides a unique opportunity to highlight paintings, vases, and flooring.  The key is to keep your foyer design minimal and then pick one aspect of it to highlight.

And don’t forget about lighting!  Organization is nothing without a well-lit room.  We love pendant lamps and chandeliers when it comes to lighting in your entryway.

   
Thinking about transforming your entryway into its best self? Handyman Matters is here to help.  Our craftsmen are skilled at large overhauls, and even small installations.  Give us a call today at 866-FIX-MY-HOME to begin enhancing your home’s foyer.

 

Prepare your Home for Halloween!

Will your home be a trick or treating favorite?  Halloween is a great excuse to catch up on exterior repairs, and add a little spooky ambiance while you’re at it.  And, we’re here to help.

  • Hanging Lights

A haunted house without the aura of red, green, or strobe lights is not a haunted house.  String some lights across your porch or front lawn, it will add light to walkways, as well as a festive feel.

  • Exterior Maintenance

The holiday season is a great reminder to jump on those home safety repairs.  When you’re expecting trick or treaters, it’s essential that you’ve done your necessary exterior maintenance to keep all your visitors safe. Walkway Repairs – Replace broken steps and stones, repair cracked concrete, trim back unruly branches, add walkway lights… Repair Porch – Your porch is going to experience a lot of foot traffic this Halloween.  Make sure rails, steps, and panels are all in place and functioning properly. Lighting – It’s safe to say, trick or treaters will avoid your home if your porch light is out.  Install new fixtures, maybe even go that extra mile and purchase a green, solar light.

  • Tree Décor

Are those bats in the trees?  Is that a gigantic spider web?  Trees are great for housing extra spooky details.  Harness their potential this year and hang some creative additions.

  • Other Halloween Decorations…

Christmas isn’t the only season with large home decorations.  Is there an inflatable Jabba the Hut you would like to display in your front yard? Are you looking to build a small haunted house?  The sky’s the limit.

Handyman Matters knows the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year.  Instead of spending your weekends making safety, exterior repairs and hanging decorations, give us a call.  Our craftsmen are skilled at both large and small projects, so you can save your free time for the things you enjoy most.  Just call 866-FIX-MY-HOME to schedule your next home improvement appointment.

Keep your Wood Floors Looking their Best!

Wood flooring is far and away the more popular flooring option among homeowners these days.  It is attractive, versatile, and with a bit of care, easy to maintain.  For current (and future) wood floor homeowners out there, these are a few regular tasks to help you preserve their value.

1.  It’s important to sweep wood floors regularly, as dust and other particles will cause surface scratching.  You should make sure to place furniture slides under the legs of tables, chairs and other heavy objects.  Also put mats in front of every entrance to catch dirt that gets tracked in from outdoors.

2.  Don’t use any wax containing polyurethane on a wood floor, as it will make it impossible to re-surface the floor should you need to do so in the future.  It is easy to buff out minor scratches on a polyurethane floor.

3.  Remove minor scratches by using a scouring pad dipped in mineral turpentine, and buffing only in line with the wood grain.  You can also check with your local hardware or home improvement stores for recommendations on scratch-removing sprays.  Wood repair sticks are another option for filling deeper scratches.  Remember, though, when using these, to be careful to match the color to that of your floors.

Wood Floors vs Carpet?

Like any flooring, some care must be taken to keep wood looking its best.  Many people feel that the steps necessary to maintain wooden flooring outweigh any drawbacks.  They are easier to clean than carpeting.  Furthermore, carpeting tends to retain allergins, dust, hair and other debris that can more easily be removed from wooden surfaces.  Finally, real estate agents will be quick to tell you that homes with wood floors sell more quickly than those with wall-to-wall carpeting.

If you are having  bigger repair issues with your wooden flooring  than the problems mentioned above, or if you are contemplating installing wood floors in your home for the first time, call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code at www.handymanmatters.com to locate the office nearest you.  Their bonded and insured craftsmen can assist with either your floor’s repair or remodeling  challenges.

 

Ready for a Change? It can be as Easy as Switching up your Floor Plan.

Are you a recent empty-nester?  Have you just finished decluttering the house?  Or maybe you’ve simply been contemplating the current floor plan of your living space and you wonder if there could be a more efficient—or a more attractive—way of arranging your belongings.

You could, of course, put your home on the market and find an entirely new place to live, but if you’re looking for something a little less disruptive and involved, here are a handful of smaller suggestions to consider.

Open Living Room Layout

    • Expand an existing room – Is there a room in your home that’s rarely used these days?  Consider the idea of knocking down the wall between it and an adjoining room to make a more open and welcoming space between the two. Think about creating an open living room connected to your kitchen.  Interestingly, a larger expanse can give a stronger sense of intimacy!

 

 

 

 

 

Walk-In Closet

 

    • Add a closet or increase the size of your current one – Maybe it’s time to consider turning that small, cramped space into a walk-in closet where your clothes, shoes and other paraphernalia aren’t competing for visibility.  Walk in closets are one of the best ways to treat your room to a little luxury. Examine your options:  is there some adjoining space that could be better served by making it part of a larger closet?

Installing Cabinets

 

 

 

 

    • Adding or moving cabinets – Every home seems to have that catch-all cabinet and/or that junk drawer, the place where everything that has nowhere else to be winds up.  Even those storage spots that have an assigned purpose tend to accumulate items that don’t belong there, because they don’t quite seem to fit anyplace else.  Conduct a walk-through of your home for the specific purpose of inventorying cabinet/cupboard locations and their contents.  It’s probably been awhile since you actively considered whether things are stored in their most convenient spot.  You’ve simply become accustomed to retrieving them as needed without much thought about how far you have to walk, or how deeply you have to dig.  Consider these areas of interest when considering moving or installing cabinets: laundry room, garage, mudroom, kitchen, or billiards area.

Storage Platforms

 

    • Floor storage platforms – In homes with higher ceilings, a recent and popular option is to install platform floors which allows for additional storage space.   These can be stylish, as well as unobtrusive, adding to a room’s appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Baseboard drawers – A particularly innovative recent practice has been the installation of drawers along baseboards.  This might be a good option for storing things you don’t need on a regular basis, or that you don’t mind bending all the way down to the floor to retrieve.  Otherwise, this may not be the most convenient choice for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Built-in Shelving

 

 

  • Wall storage – Rather than adding shelving that extends out from a room’s wall (thereby robbing the room itself of space), built-in shelving creates additional storage capacity that allows you to display knickknacks or to keep items like books, games and DVDs at the ready. Built-in shelving can also add more architectural character to your home’s layout.  Think offices, libraries, bathrooms, and living rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

These are just a few of the options worth considering if you are looking to upgrade your home with an eye towards space reconfiguration.  Our many Handyman Matters offices have qualified craftsmen who can help you decide what the best option for your home may be, and to help you complete the job to your satisfaction.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the phone number of the Handyman Matters location nearest you.

 

Home Modifications for Aging in the Comfort of your Own Home

Aging in Place

In this day and age, independent living as a senior is an achievable goal.  Similar to updating appliances as a kitchen grows older – walkways, bathrooms, and steps should also adjust to fit your age. If your current environment doesn’t match your needs, update it!  Here are some of the home modification essentials to begin aging in place.

  • Grab Bars – Secure railing isn’t just for steps, it’s for senior living.  Add a grab bar to your areas of need to stabilize a slope, help you maneuver in a cramped space, position you to be able to stand up, or provide balance in a slippery scenario.
  • Raise/Lower – Things like kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be a challenge to reach, especially when they can be lowered.  Same thing goes for seating.  Rise easily from a seating position with raised chairs and appliances.
  • Lift Chairs – Experience the first floor, the basement, the second floor and beyond by installing a lift chair in your stairway.  These motorized chairs can securely transport you to all areas of your home so that you don’t have to sacrifice space for mobility.
  • Standing Tub – The idea of a bath to someone with limited mobility may seem impossible – but it’s not!  Standing tubs are a wonderful addition to any bathroom as they allow you to stay upright while still being able to be submerged in water.
  • Widening Doorways – Senior living can often mean living with a walking aid.  Maybe it’s not you but instead your friend who travels by wheels.  Entertain with ease by making sure everyone can navigate through the doorway by wheelchair, walker, or otherwise.
  • Installing Ramps – Steps into and out of your home can be the scariest part of independent living.  Give yourself some relief by replacing steps with a gradual ramp.

Let your home remain your home by adjusting it to fit your age.  Handyman Matters has craftsmen skilled in the area of aging in place, and who can update your home in a tasteful, effective manner. Senior home modifications can improve safety, quality of life, and even increase the value of your home.  Call us today for a free estimate at 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

 

Considering the (Hidden) Costs of Finishing a Basement…


The popular concept is that refinishing your basement is a good way to obtain additional living space, as well as increasing your home’s resale value, and this is certainly true.  But before you plunge full-tilt into a remodeling project, it’s important to check carefully for all the possible—and expensive—stumbling blocks that you might not unearth until you are midway through the renovations.  When it comes to home improvement, research is key.  Consider these hidden costs before you begin finishing a basement…

  • How many support pillars are present in your basement?  What kind of remodeling do you have in mind, and will the current structure support the changes you want to make?
  • Window egress.  If your remodel plans include adding a guest or bedroom, ample egress is legally required.  There must be easy escape from these rooms, so if the basement doesn’t already have these, add the cost of installing additional windows to your bottom line.
  • Are the floors level and the walls straight?  How much reconfiguration will be needed to install flooring, paneling, etc. so that it doesn’t warp or shift with time?
  • What potential drainage and ventilation issues might you encounter?  Particularly humid climates may require the addition of a dehumidifier to keep the location dry and usable.
  • How much of the pre-existing materials can be used in the remodel?  How much new materials will be required?

Know what you’re up against before you begin finishing a basement.  When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much you need to budget for the home improvement project, and whether the ultimate cost can support your plans.

And remember that Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with this and with any other remodeling or repair projects around your home.  Contact us at 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website to start your home improvement project’s free estimate!

Home Installations for a Warm Holiday

Holidayhouse

Heated Floors

Heating your home from the floor up is a wonderful way to trick your holidays guests into think they’re at a spa.  Walk around barefoot without getting cold! Best suited underneath stone, concrete or ceramic tile.  Wood floors can work as heated floors as long as you find a carpenter who can measure them so that they can expand. However, in order to add these to your home, you will need to tear up and install new floors.  While hot air does rise, if you start it at the floor, you will cover heat key areas before the warmth begins to dissipate.  These can run a little pricey.  The most affordable option when it comes to heated floors is Hydronic floors.  They run off a boiler or a water heater.  Consequently, hydronic floors are difficult to install.  In the long run though, their cost effective nature will out-weigh the negatives.

Carpet

If you’re not yet ready for headed floors, a cozy carpet will be your next best option.  Before shopping, consider the needs of the area you’re looking to cover.  Is this a high-traffic hallway?  Is it going to be a cozy addition to a living room?  With it be at risk for food & drink stains?

Here’s a carpet breakdown.  You have Plush and Saxony carpets, which are high pile, soft, but they easily show footprints.  These are for your living rooms, bedrooms, and libraries.  Then there’s Berber and Textured carpets.  These are low pile, and they’re good at masking dirt and footprints.  Ideal for hallways, foyers, and dining rooms.  The one type of carpet that can hide dirt and is also plush is the Friezes.  It’s for those of you willing to pay for an all-in-one kind of carpet.

Rugs

For those of you who currently have wonderful wood floors, don’t worry.  You don’t have to get wall to wall carpeting or heating floors to stay warm this winter.  Just add a rug!  They can also double a way to keep larger furniture items from sliding around on the wood.  Try a Persian inspired rug for your dining room, or a shaggy carpet for your living room, or a bamboo mat for your kitchen.

Nest

nest thermostat

For the technology obsessed, there’s a little gadget called the Nest.  Some would say it’s better than adding cozier flooring as the Nest self-regulates, learning your homes preferred temperatures, and sensing when to lower heating if inhabitants are out of town.  You can also control this from an app on a smartphone.  So, if you find yourself watching a snowstorm from work, you can set your temperatures a little higher so it’s extra nice when you get home.  The comfort formerly know as heating up your car in the drive way.

Keeping your home warm is especially important for the holidays.  While pillows and throws can sometimes do the job, flooring is a more comprehensive solution.  Just pick out your desired material and give Handyman Matters a call: we will install it for you! 866-FIX-MY-HOME

Tile Installation Tips

Ceramic tile is easy for even someone who is not a regular do-it-yourselfer to install, whether on the floor, the walls, or a tub surround.  Its popularity stems from the fact that tile is very hard, water-resistant and easy to clean.  It does take a bit of patience and diligence and a fair amount of measuring.  So, keep in mind the traditional credo of carpenters:  Measure twice, cut once.

Here are some other tips for tile installation:

  • There’s a difference between floor and wall tiles.  Wall tiles are thinner and smoother than floor tiles.
  • An installation job will need two types of tile. One is filler tile, which will take up most of the surface, and the other is trim tile which goes around the edges of the room and around the corners.
  • Shower stall walls or a tub surround should be prepared with a cement backboard or a waterproofed drywall before the tiling begins.  Make sure to take out any old material at the point where the tile will touch the top of the tub or the base of the shower.  Leave a quarter-inch space for caulking.
  • Be sure to lay out the job precisely.  Ideally, tiling should start in the center of the wall or in the center of the floor.
  • Must-have tools for a tiling job include a tile cutter, a notched trowel, a notched spreader, a level, a rubber float, nippers, roofing felt and roof cement, a stapler and staples, silicone caulk, soap dishes or other accessories, painter’s tape, mastic, grout and grout float, grout saw, hammer and cold chisel, shims, drop cloths, a rod cutter, a sponge and a glass cutter.  A rented wet saw is optional.   You should use some of the tools to experiment on some old tiles, perhaps the ones taken off the wall to make way for the new ones, before the real job begins.
  • Apply adhesive in sections of small squares until you feel comfortable setting the tile.  Keep the room as well-ventilated while you work, to prevent over-exposure to the fumes of the adhesive.
  • If a tub surround or shower stall has been freshly tiled, neither the tub nor the shower should be used for at least two weeks.  If the tiles have been put on the floor, they shouldn’t be stepped on until the mortar is hardened.  If you decide you need to adjust a floor tile that’s too far to reach, find a sturdy piece of plywood to step on.

And, of course, if any of this just seems too overwhelming to tackle, you can always contact Handyman Matters to have a professional complete the work for you, call 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find the location nearest you!

Expert Advice: Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is becoming increasingly popular as more and more homeowners are using green materials in their homes to reduce their carbon footprint. Cork flooring is made from the bark of cork oak trees that grow mostly in southern Europe, and strict guidelines ensure that the trees are unharmed during the harvesting process.

Cork flooring is becoming increasingly popular as more and more homeowners are using green materials in their homes to reduce their carbon footprint.  Cork flooring is made from the bark of cork oak trees that grow mostly in southern Europe, and strict guidelines ensure that the trees are unharmed during the harvesting process.

Benefits of Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is a good option for high traffic areas of your home because it is resilient and provides more cushioning than other flooring options.  Another benefit is that cork is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to mildew and mold growth, as well as invasive organisms, making it a good choice for people who have environmental allergies.  It’s available in many colors, some occurring naturally in the bark and others man-made.

It requires minimal maintenance and can help with sound proofing.  Cork stores heat, making it warmer than most flooring options.  Also, it naturally absorbs shock which makes it a superior flooring option for individuals who have issues with their joints.

Drawbacks of Cork Flooring

Cork is more expensive than some other flooring types and should be installed by a professional.   It can be damaged by heavy furniture, so you should use pads to lessen the impact.  Cork is not a good flooring choice for people with pets, because animals’ toenails can damage the floor. It is sensitive to light, so shouldn’t be installed in rooms where the floor is regularly exposed to direct sunlight.  It is water-resistant, but will soak up spills if they aren’t cleaned up quickly.

The Bottom Line

Cork is an excellent choice for environmentally-conscious families, and can serve you well for years to come.  But it’s prudent to consider your lifestyle and the type of use to which it will be exposed.   Under the right conditions, cork is a comfortable flooring choice that excels in insulation and warmth.  Exposed to pets or frequent spillage, it may not be your best choice.

For assistance in installing cork flooring—and for other remodeling and repair needs—contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.