7 Ladder Safety Tips To Help Avoid Injury

You may not think of cleaning out the gutters as a high-risk task, but the fact is that any job around the house that involves climbing a ladder has the potential for injury. Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show that each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the United States relating to ladders.

In the fall season, many homeowners are getting outside to clean leaves and needles as summer comes to a close. This commonly involves breaking out the ladder (or getting a new ladder that excels at gutter cleaning) and climbing on the roof. We want you to be safe this fall season so that you can enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful fall colors.

“There is a potential for injury any time someone climbs a ladder,” says Jeffrey Smith, MD, of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA). “While setting up and using a ladder may seem like a simple, everyday task, there are definitely safe and unsafe ways to do it.”

To help avoid injuries due to falls from ladders, the AAOS has developed the following tips for staying safe on a ladder:

  1. Make sure your ladder is sturdy and in good shape. Before using it, inspect it for any loose screws, hinges or rungs that you might not have fixed before you put it away last time. Clean off any mud or other liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
  2. Be sure to place the ladder on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven or on spongy, soft or muddy ground. Likewise, during colder weather, never set your ladder on slippery, frozen spots.
  3. Take reasonable safety precautions. Make sure to engage the ladder locks or braces before you climb. If you’re working outside, make sure the ladder will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions when it is extended.
  4. Remember the 1-to-4 rule: The bottom of the ladder should be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the feet of the ladder should be 4 feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least 3 feet higher than the roof. If you’re using an extension ladder, the upper and lower sections should overlap to provide stability.
  5. Always reposition the ladder closer to the work. Over reaching or leaning far to one side when you’re on the ladder could make you lose your balance and fall. Your belly button should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
  6. Wear proper footwear. Ditch the leather-soled shoes when using a ladder – they’re too slippery. And make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any greasy, oily or wet substances. Pant legs shouldn’t be too wide or too long.
  7. Get help if you need it. Ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb, stay in the center of the ladder as you climb and always hold the side rails with both hands.

Kitchen Remodel – Go Big or Go Small?


The National Kitchen and Bath Association tells us that the average kitchen remodel comes in at about $57,000.  That’s a lot of money, no matter how you look at it.  Here are two things to consider:  (1)  How do you make sure you’ll get the most out of an expensive redo, and (2)  What are some ways to give your kitchen a face-lift without spending a fortune?

Any big kitchen remodel should stand the test of time. Avoid fads. Certain fixtures and colors are popular in the short-term, but they’re this year’s trend, and may be out of fashion in a matter of several months. Design experts agree that white is the one color that endures, because it creates an open and airy environment and because it pairs well with everything. It regularly tops the list of most popular kitchen colors. White appliances, in fact, outsell all others. It’s a standard color for manufacturers of all products, making it easy—and affordable—to find things like cupboards, counters, and tile to match the room’s decor.

When you consider a remodel, whether to sell your home is probably the last thing on your mind, but nevertheless, every redo should be undertaken with an eye towards just how long you plan to remain in your home. Because white remains popular as a decorative element, it has inherent marketability, and will give your house added appeal at re-sale, when you do decide to sell your home.

Are you contemplating giving your kitchen a face-lift, but don’t have the budget for a complete remodel? There are a number of economical “tricks” you can employ to give the appearance that you’ve completed a much bigger redo than you actually did.

  • Change out your cabinets or just the cabinet doors.
  • Add crown molding or decorative trim along the walls.
  • Installing new light fixtures or task lighting is a great way to give your room an updated appearance while remaining within a budget.
  • Replace old hardware with a new sink or fixtures, drawer handles or pulls.
  • How about new window treatments?
  • And quartz-type counter tops or ones made from white concrete are distinctive, versatile and eye-catching.
  • Other, more cost-effective options, include sanding and re-staining cabinets, adding new tile back-splashes or applying a simple coat of paint to the walls.

Any of these choices will give your kitchen a distinctive new look.

Need help with your redo, either large or small?  Call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code at www.handymanmatters.com to find the office nearest you.

5 Affordable Kitchen Renovations We Love

Thinking about updating your kitchen but don’t want to spend the money on a total overhaul?  Handyman Matters believes even the smallest addition to your home can have a large impact.  Here are our favorite affordable renovations, that will update the look and feel of your kitchen…

Add A Built-in Bench

No space for a full dining room in your kitchen? Or, is there a small corner with a lot of light?  Breakfast is what starts your day.  Get a positive start by having a cozy spot to enjoy coffee and the paper with your favorite loved ones.  A casual and affordable addition to your home, and you can even build one DIY!

Remove Your Blinds

Natural light, especially in your dining room, is a housing luxury.  Take advantage of the long summer days by allowing in as much daylight as possible.  Removing your window coverings will instantly light up any room.

DIY Kitchen Island

You can never have enough counter space in the kitchen.  Islands in the kitchen provide extra space and also extra storage.  Create one on a budget by modifying a small table.  A bright coat of paint, and added hangers are the perfect additions.

Inner Cabinet Additions

It’s easy to lose things like measuring cups and other smaller utensils in drawers.  Modify your cabinets to have easy-access hanging areas for your regularly used cooking materials.  A coat of chalkboard paint on the interior is also a fun way to keep track of measurement conversions, grocery lists, or cooking notes.

Install New Lights

Nothing can instantly face-lift a room quite like adding new lighting fixtures.  Adding a sleek, mid century inspired light, in a contrasting color to the rest of your kitchen will create a great point of interest.

Not all kitchen remodels need to be expensive, or even a full overhaul.  Adjusting the details of your kitchen can do a lot to bring your space into this century.  For assistance in your next home improvement project – give Handyman Matters a call 866-FIX-MY-HOME!

5 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

small bathroom

Whether your bathroom is small and cramped, or it just feels like it, there are ways that you can increase its size, at least perceptually. Here are five tips to steer you in the right direction.

Walls and flooring – keep them soft and light

The color of its walls and flooring can have a big impact on how you perceive your bathroom. Colors will not only affect the ‘mood’ that your bathroom conveys, but they will also affect how you see your bathroom size-wise. Lose the contrasting colors and crazy wallpaper and replace them with a simple, light-colored theme and a soft wall pattern, if any. If your bathroom is too ‘busy’ or has starkly contrasting colors, this tends to make it look smaller.

Bring in the lights

Lighting isn’t just good for the eyes; illumination can also help to make your bathroom seem larger than it really is. If you can, incorporate natural lighting, such as through a skylight or through generous use of windows. If those options are not available to you because of budget, space, or privacy reasons, adding more light to your bathroom, specifically in low-light areas, can really open things up, especially when used with lighter colors in your bathroom.

Use mirrors to your advantage

Just like the mirror in Snow White had magical properties, mirrors can work their ‘magic’ to make your bathroom seem more expansive. If possible, place a mirror opposite an outside window, or place mirrors opposite each other to improve your bathroom’s perceptual space. If you’re an abstract thinker type with a penchant for the scientific side of life, you can even use your mirrors creatively to bounce light off from each other to further brighten the space.

Replace your low-setting, wide cabinets with tall, skinny cabinets

Just like vertical lines on your clothing will make you look taller and slimmer, opting for tall, skinny cabinets vs. clunky, wide-based cabinets will give your bathroom the perception of being taller than it really is.

Remove the knick-knacks and doodads

small-spaces-bathroom-idea
While decorating your bathroom to make it feel more ‘homey’ may appeal to you, too many decorations, ornaments, floor mats, wall-hung candles, and pictures will actually clutter your room, making it feel more restricted. Allow the room to “breathe” by removing some of the bric-a-brac.

Regardless of budget, these small and simple remodeling project ideas can make a big impact on how you—and your guests—perceive your bathroom’s available space.

Common Painting Mistakes To Avoid

Common painting mistakes

Avoid some of the most common painting mistakes! Here’s what you will need to know…

Too Much Tape

While painters tape can be a huge help in keeping the paint inside the lines, when used in excess, it can also have the opposite effect.  Lining every edge of the wall can cause paint to seep under the tape, leading to erratic smudges when it’s peeled off.  Avoid this by taping only what’s necessary and using an angled brush for the rest.

Outlets

We’ve all been in the home where the outlets look fused into the walls.  This is the result of not properly prepping for paint.  Before you begin, it’s important to remove all covers and tape the remaining outlet to keep paint from staining it.

Holes

Don’t paint over problems.  Before painting, you want to make sure you fill in any dents or holes in the wall.  Caulk the edge of the wall where it meets molding, spackle smaller holes, and repair larger holes.  After everything is dry, sand off the excess filler, and then with a damp cloth or sponge, wipe off the dust.

Sand & Primer

Get the most vibrant color possible! Both sanding and priming your wall will prepare it to take in more color.  Sanding helps open the pores of the wall so the paint is absorbed as much as possible.  This will especially help improve the pigment of the color you chose and potentially limit the number of coats you will need to apply.

Similar to sanding, primer makes it so you get the most out of your chosen wall color.  These steps are especially essential if you plan on going from a light color to a dark color or vice versa.

Painting large areas or textured walls can be a large undertaking.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Handyman Matters is here to assist in the process of any home improvement or repair project.  Give us a call 866-FIX-MY-HOME or check out our half-day room upgrade package.

Prioritize Your Home Improvement To Do List

hand-written home improvement to-do list

Last night, after work and dinner, I sat down to realize that I still haven’t even begun to scratch my home improvement list.  Perhaps I was overly enthusiastic when I wrote it, because what originally was a mere 3 or 4 projects has now become a total overhaul.  So for those of us who have taken to hiding our to-do list in a drawer, I have made a strategy to get the list back out.  Let’s get to the bottom of all of our whizzing needs, dreams, wants!

  • First things first – Prioritize.  Read through your home improvement list and rank the tasks.
    •  Needs.  These are time-pressing repairs, overly noticeable damages, seasonal needs, or anything that impedes your day-to-day life.  For example: broken faucets, large holes in drywall, adding insulation for winter, or a broken front step.
    • Wants.  They are not unreachable goals, but they aren’t pressing.  Things like updating the paint in a room, re-caulking the bathroom, creating more storage in a laundry room, removing old wallpaper, etc.
    • Dreams. Looking through Pinterest, or Better Homes & Gardens, typically these kinds of magazines breed extensive projects.  New kitchens, or appliances, knocking down a wall, building an extra bedroom, finishing a basement… These projects are the remodels.
  • Now, once you have divided your list, things will become a lot easier to plan and strategize. Each month pick 2-3 items from your list of Needs, and 1 item from your list of Wants.  Then set aside a couple of days throughout the month to accomplish these tasks.

As far as your list of Dreams go – these will be your most time consuming and costly tasks.  Plan these out by year, save up for the expense and then set aside a fairly large chunk of time to complete them.  You can also use them to help shape your Want list, to create a more gradual build-out of the plan.

For Example, do you want to redo the kitchen? Consider breaking up the tasks into gradual repairs that you can occasionally check off of the want list.

Paint the kitchen walls one month, replace the sink the next, install a fridge after that… Adding small tasks to your want task that are geared toward a dream will make it ultimately more attainable.

Busy schedules can make home improvement tasks tough.

If you need help, call a company you can trust – Handyman Matters, 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

We have a new half-day package that is perfect to help you shrink that newly organized to-do list.

Six Simple Steps For A Clean And Organized Garage

organized garage
Image Courtesy: Rubbermaid

Your garage’s main function is usually to safeguard and store your car, truck or motorcycles. That can’t take place if your garage has turned into a glorified storage unit, stuffed to the rafters with boxes, toys, tools, bikes, strollers and everything else you either don’t have room for or just don’t want in the house.

Here are six easy to follow steps that will help you clean and organize your garage and seize control once again:

Step 1 – Categorize

Get everything out of the garage and sort it all into groups. Categorize it all and put everything into groups with like items.

For example: toys with toys, carpentry tools with carpentry tools, yard tools with yard tools, etc.

Make a pile for trash: anything you don’t want that you can sell in a garage sale and items to give away.

Step 2 – Get Supplies

Get the appropriate organizational tools and supplies.

After you’ve grouped everything, decide on exactly what tools and resources will help you organize these items better.

For example:

Do you need shelves? If so, what kind? A free standing shelving system or shelves mounted to the wall?

Do you need:

Get what you need now so it’s ready to go for step 5.

Step 3 – Clean

Clean the garage. As soon as you empty your garage, it’s important to take time to sweep out all the loose debris and remove cobwebs.

You’ll appreciate your garage much more if it’s clean, so make sure to sweep and dust routinely.

Step 4 – Freshen Up

Décor. This does not mean you need to remodel your garage into pseudo-living room; however you could think about a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Lots of people prefer to paint and seal the floor of their garage to protect it from stains and also makes cleaning easy.

Transforming your wall and floor surfaces will have an enormous effect on the appearance of your garage.

Step 5 – Arrange

steps for a clean, organized garageArrange Items For Storage. As soon as you’ve cleaned the garage (floor and walls) it’s time to put everything back. Place those items that you use on regularly within easy reach.

Put items less frequently used further back in the garage or higher up on shelves or in cabinets.

Putting labels on shelves, bins and boxes will make it a lot easier for you to find what you’re looking for.

Step 6 – Rules

Lastly, make some rules for yourself and family members and implement them. Rules along the lines of, “Always return the items you used back to where you got them,” need to be enforced at all times; it’s simply too easy to slip back into previous sloppy, relaxed habits.

If you follow these six simple steps, you will have a clean and well organized garage. Not only will you be able to park your car in it, but you’ll also be able to find anything want without a lot of time wasted in the search.

And one more thing:  Don’t forget to have a garage sale to help get rid of all those unwanted items and put some cash in your pockets!

De-Clutter Your Home With These Organizing Tricks!

De-Clutter your Home

When clutter gains a foothold, it turns into an unstoppable force that resists all challenges to tame it.  It’s an energy-drain and if left unchecked, becomes a self-sustaining monster.  But all is not lost!  Here are a few tips for tackling the beast and beginning to de-clutter (or tame) it a little at a time.

First off, don’t think big.  That’s the stumbling block that has felled any number of people in their well-meaning efforts to de-clutter.  The accumulation didn’t happen in a day, and it isn’t going to go away that quickly, either.

If you attempt to tackle the entire project as a whole, frustration will quickly cripple your efforts.  Instead, allow yourself a specific amount of time to tackle a single cleaning task.

Focus on one area of one room—a desk, a cupboard, a bookcase.  There’s great satisfaction in taking back control of even just a small space.  Break all of the tasks into small, manageable chunks you can finish in an hour or two:

  • Organize first, buy second.  There’s little point in buying storage containers or any supplies intended to assist with the cleaning-out process before you know what will remain after the purging.  Purchasing containers is just giving yourself the temptation to store even more things you don’t need.  For the same reason, this is certainly not the time to contemplate building new shelving or adding more storage space—it only enables you to hold on to items that should be departing now.
  • Complete cleaning tasks entirely.  Experts advise approaching cleaning with three goals in mind.  As you begin to de-clutter your home, everything should be designated for one of three destinations:  Trash, donate, or keep.  Once everything has been classified, act on it immediately.  Trash goes directly to the curb.  Keepsakes go back onto the shelves or into the drawers.  Donated items must leave your house ASAP.  The longer you allow the boxes or bags of things destined for a charity or thrift shop to sit around, the less likely they are going to leave at all.  Make a firm agreement with yourself that once separated, no items remain in limbo for more than a day.  Haul those things to be donated out to your car right away, and don’t leave them in the trunk!  Place them in the back seat where they are a constant reminder—and an inconvenience—until you’ve dropped them off at your local thrift store.
  • Leave sentimentality out of it.  Don’t de-clutter your home when you’re feeling nostalgic.  The “if you haven’t used it—or even seen it—in eighteen months, then out it goes” rule is harder to enforce when emotions are ruling your decision-making process.  If something is merely going to go back into a box or a drawer or cupboard and not be seen again for another five years, then ask yourself how much you really need it.  You probably don’t.
  • Keep an eye on the new clutter.  Once you’ve winnowed down your stuff to a manageable level, you need to stay disciplined so that it doesn’t begin to take over your life once more.  One tip for keeping “the paper monster” in check is to place all mail and assorted paperwork in a tray or shelf in plain view—neatly stacked, of course—on a desk or an entryway table.  Never allow the stack to grow higher than half an inch.  When it approaches that mark, promptly set aside the time to tackle what’s there and then send it on to its permanent destination.

Only after you’ve made a good, solid sweep of organizing and eliminating clutter, will you realistically understand your present and future storage needs.  This is the time to determine whether additional closet space or extra shelving is appropriate.  Consult with your local Handyman Matters office to see what tips and assistance they can provide to expand your home’s storage capabilities.  But above all, stay on your guard!  Clutter has a way of creeping back in when you least expect it.

Locate your local Handyman Matters by calling 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME.

4 Benefits To Installing Low-Flow Appliances In Your Home

It’s never a bad time to make your home a little bit greener. The benefits are overwhelming, and most common upgrades will pay for themselves within a year or two, and then again when it comes time to sell your house. One easy way to make your home more efficient is to install low-flow fixtures and appliances.

Low-flow fixtures come in many different shapes. Some, like aerators for showers and faucets, are either screwed right on to the opening or installed somewhere in the plumbing near the actual faucet or shower head itself. Others take the shape of full appliances that can be replaced wholesale. No matter the shape, though, low-flow upgrades offer many benefits for your home.

1 – They Save You Money

This is doubly Low-flow water fixtures help to save on energy coststrue for appliances and fixtures that are used all the time. Showers and faucets, for example, which are used multiple times per day, will pay off the cost of upgrading in less than a year. The EPA estimates that if everyone in the country switched to water-efficient appliances, the country would save $8 billion annually.

2 – They Save Energy

When most people think of conserving with low-flow appliances, they generally think only of the savings on the water bill. That’s not the whole story. In fact, switching to water-efficient appliances and fixtures will also save money on energy costs, as you end up using significantly less hot water. You also extend the life of your water heater.

3 – They Save the Planet

Few people realize that one of the biggest quality of life issues facing the world today is a severe shortage of fresh water in many regions. Switching to low-flow appliances and faucets lets you do your part to help out. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make sure that we leave the planet a little better off than when we found it.

4 – Many Communities Offer Incentives

If all of these reasons weren’t enough, many communities, municipalities, counties, and even states offer incentives for installing low-flow and water-efficient appliances and fixtures. And since the EPA claims that ultra-high-efficiency WaterSense products perform better than traditional counterparts, a tax incentive is basically free money to upgrade to higher quality fixtures and appliances.

The expert craftsmen at Handyman Matters can help you save energy and money by installing low flow fixtures and appliances. Enter your zip code above to find a Handyman Matters in your area or call us today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME to schedule your appointment.

How To Install Weather Stripping To Your Doors

handyman installing weatherstrippingIf air is escaping through your door, you’re not just losing heat in winter and cool air in summer, you’re wasting money on your energy bill and letting sound through.  Stopping the problem may be as simple as weather-stripping the offending area.  This is a fairly easy task to perform yourself.

Items You’ll Need

Measure Top Of Door Frame

Begin by first measuring the top of your door frame.

This is done by closing your door and measuring the top from one side to the other.

Mark this length on the new piece of weather-strip that you have purchased.

Cut Weather-Stripping

Next you will cut the weather-strip to the length that you have marked.

It is often best to first cut the foam piece with a pair of sharp scissors and then use a small toothed saw to cut through the wood piece.

Nail Into Place

Once you have the weather-strip cut, you will need to use 1.5 inch nails in order to hold it in place. When you put the cut weather-strip piece into place, you will want to ensure that the foam is positioned towards the door and is pushed up tight against it.   This ensures a good seal.

After you have the weather-strip in the right spot, use the nails to tack it into place. The nails should begin about two inches from the end to keep it from splitting the wood. All other nails should have about 12 inches of space between them.

Do not hammer the nails in all the way yet, just enough to ensure the piece remains secure.

Measure Side Of Door Frame

Then you will need to measure the sides of the door frame.

When cutting the side pieces, you will want to ensure that you also cut out a piece of one end of each side of the weather-strip in order to fit in the top weather-strip piece.

The best way to ensure that you have the tightest possible fit is to file down the end that you sawed. The weather-strip should be put in with the foam piece pressed firmly against the door. You should again tack the piece into place, but not all the way.

Check The Seal

In order to ensure that you have the weather-strip in the right place and that you will have the best possible seal, open and close the door a few times.  Watch to ensure that the seal is tight against the door and that the door closes all the way and latches. You can then complete your installation by driving all of the nails completely into the wood.

Completing this task can be challenging.  If you would prefer to have some help with this job, Handyman Matters is there for you. Contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.