DIY Project: Brick Wall Restoration

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

DIY-brick-wallHow to create an exposed brick wall

Firstly, what you’ll need:

Brick chisel and a Small crow bar

Plastic sheets and a Scrubbing brush

Brick sealer

Dust mask & eye protection

Step 1

Protective sheets. As you can imagine removing the plaster from your brick wall is messy work! This is particularly important if you have an old house with the original plaster. Whilst it may seem like a bit of work it is definitely worth using plastic sheets (painting drop sheets are perfect) and taping them to your walls and ceiling to completely seal off the area you’re working in. It is also highly recommended to wear a mask to protect your lungs from the plaster dust, and even eye protection as the dust can easily irritate your eyes.

Step 2

Pretty easy to see what’s next. Simply make a hole the plaster using your brick chisel. This is a good chance to expose a small area of the brick, perhaps somewhere hidden, to see if the quality of the brick underneath is good. Once you’ve created a hole, you can either use the chisel or a small crowbar to remove the plaster. Just tap it lightly to get behind the plaster and level it off. Be careful not to damage the bricks with the chisel or crow bar by tapping too hard. When you get to the ceiling and side walls ensure you neatly remove the plaster without damaging adjacent plaster.

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Garden Composting Basics

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

compost-gardeningUnderstanding How To Incorporate Garden Compost Into Your Garden

Just like people gardens need nutrients to grow and flourish. Incorporating garden compost into your garden allows you to feed your plants and vegetables and improve overall soil quality.

You can obtain ready prepared bags of garden compost from most garden nurseries or garden supply stores.

Many garden supply companies and gardening websites offer an online service and will deliver. It is important that you choose the right garden compost for your soil and particular needs.

natures-care-compostSome plants and garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas require special compost to make the soil more acid. While other garden compost is suitable for general use for vegetable and flower gardening.

The main advantage of using compost on your garden is to improve the soil structure. Good garden soil needs to be loose and be able to hold water but with adequate drainage.

Clay soil can be very heavy, so adding garden compost will improve the structure and drainage. For soils that are sandy, garden compost will absorb water and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil.

As well as improving the structure and water retaining properties of soil, the decomposing compost will gradually release nutrients vital for healthy plant growth.

Nitrogen is a vital nutrient in plant growth which can be obtained from garden compost. The use of adding manure as well as compost will ensure a good supply of nitrogen if growing highly productive crops.

homemade-compost-binsFor those who do not want to buy their garden compost, making your own compost in your garden has several advantages.

Firstly, it allows the gardener to recycle garden wastes. This means less waste to have to dispose of. Secondly, you will know what has gone into your garden compost.

So if you want to be an organic gardener, you will have control over what has gone into your compost.

When deciding on your home garden compost bin it is best to design it into your garden. Making a home compost can be made from ready made plastic drums which turn, to wooden enclosures made yourself or from kits ready to assemble.

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You Need the Right Tool for the Job

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

power-tools-drill-bitsChoosing the Right Tool for the Right Job

You would not try to split a 10 inch diameter log with a hatchet instead of an ax.

By the same token you would not want to try to drill a 3/4 inch hole in cement with a standard 1/4 drill.

You hear people all the time bad mouthing a particular tool because it did not work well when the real problem was the user. They did not choose the right tool for the job at hand.

Most tools, if not all, were made for a specific range of jobs to perform. When you try to use it beyond the range it was made and designed for, you start having problems. Then it is human nature to blame the tool or the manufacturer when the fault really lies with the person using it.

electric-drillThere are always exceptions in tool usage as well as in all other walks of life.

For example, I have a 1/4 inch standard electric drill that I have owned for twenty plus years. I have used it for everything from drilling a one inch hole in cement and metal to driving a # twelve four inch screw into hard wood and it still works fine. It was and still is an exceptional tool. With the beating I gave it, it should have failed long ago but it is one of the exceptions we come across in life. There is no answer for it.

All manufacturers of tools will have specifications on their tools such as amperage, RPM, size, weight, capacity and etc., etc. They are there for a purpose, to help us choose the tool we need. In a lot of cases price is the determining factor when we buy and not what the item was designed for.

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Add Curb Appeal with a Simple DIY Project

Monday, June 5th, 2017

walkwayDIY Patio Projects That Will Add Major Curb Appeal

If you’ve seen the albums on decorating and landscaping sites, you know how much a walkway or a canopy can bring together your backyard. Luckily, many of these home and gardening staples are easy to do yourself.

If you have a shovel, a hammer, a saw, and an afternoon, you can finish one of these projects.

Walkway

Having a paved walkway from your back door to your patio brings a certain elegance to your backyard. With the advent of pavers, you don’t have to ruin your back placing and leveling hundreds of bricks in order to make this dream a reality. Depending on how long you want the walkway, you might only need a few pavers to complete the project. You can choose from several different interesting stone varieties to bring visual interest to your space.

Canopy

A canopy is a great way to bring some shade, keeping your family or guests cool during the summer months. Canopies can range from intricate architectural pieces to simple canvas-and-pole designs.

For the latter example, four poles or beams driven into the ground and a piece of thick, water-resistant canvas are all you need. You can attach the canvas to the poles using a hammer and nails, or you can peruse your local hardware store for rings, tacks, or ties to create a unique hanger.

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How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

vegetable-gardenStart a Vegetable Garden Today

Spring Fever!

Kick up your heels, the sun is finally shining! Get out and smell the flowers and dig in the earth and grow your dinner and your breakfast too!

It’s easy to grow your own organic food and beat the high prices, for free. You can also grow beautiful flowers. Spring is the time to start.

The first step to growing your garden is to find a good spot with at least 6 hours of direct sun. Next, visualize your dream garden and imagine all your favorite vegetables. Then make a garden plan. Finally prepare your garden beds and plant your garden!

garden-vegetablesGarden Plan:

So what goes into a garden plan? What do you like to eat most and what will grow well in your location? Every good plan will consist of:

* A list of your favorite garden vegetables and flowers

* Garden bed layout: type, shape and placement of your garden beds and perennial plants

* First and last frost dates

* Compost Area

* Water system

* Optional – green house or cold frame

raised-garden-bedsAll these elements will interrelate and enhance each other, creating a fine-looking garden. Draw out a plan and order your seeds! Although gardening is flexible and always growing, having a solid plan in place first will help you avoid frustration and give you a good start.

You can draw out your plans by hand or use some of the new on-line garden planning programs. I have been having fun working with an on-line planner this season for the first time. I have always done my garden planning on paper and there was always lots of erasing, changes and rough drafts.

Making garden plans used to be an unpleasant and messy chore for me. Now I am having fun using an on-line gardening tool for making my garden plan, and changing it and playing around as much as I want in just seconds. Once you have a good plan and a list of all your favorite veggies’ it is time to order your seeds or buy some from your local nursery or feed store.

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Great Tips for Spring Cleaning

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Best Spring Cleaning Tips For A Clean House Year Round

The time of year you either love, or hate. Spring cleaning has always been the same since the idea started: the time to do the things you are too lazy to do more than once a year. But, some actually love doing spring cleaning and the things it entails. Some may even not have a spring cleaning because they just do these things as they see it needing to be done.

I commend those people, for I absolutely, without a doubt, hate deep cleaning. But over the years I have had to learn that it isn’t about loving it or hating it – its about standard of living. I refuse to live in a dirty house, so it must be done.

If you haven’t thought of any, here are some ultimate spring cleaning tips to consider.

pressure-washing-deckPressure wash

Nobody gives pressuring washing enough credit anymore. Plus, nobody thinks that the outside of the house needs to stay clean. I mean, that is why they call it the outside for a reason. Let nature do its thing. But nature also brings bacteria, mold, and bugs when you don’t want it. This amazing machine can do so much you wouldn’t think of to sanitize and clean the outside of your house.

Pressure wash the outside surface of your house to remove mold/mildew build up, cob webs, bee/wasp hives, and pollen/allergens. Pressure wash your driveway for curb appeal, the back patio and pool deck, the fence or even the outside of your car for a quick clean.

And these babies aren’t that expensive either, so easy to use with a hose hookup, and is actually fun to use if you like the satisfaction of watching dirty surfaces just melt away (I know I do!) It just depends on how powerful of one you want, and whether gas or electric. I have just a mid grade, light duty electric one that you can find here.

Move and clean under all large furniture

Like your bedroom furniture, couch, etc. So many allergens, hair and dust that has traveled from vacuuming around them and from the air vents throughout your house has them settle in these areas. Plus, bugs find their resting places here, and that’s the last thing you want to think you’re sleeping over at night.

Plus, you never know what junk, food and missing things is hiding under large, heavy pieces of furniture. Cleaning under small, trapped areas can relieve bacterial causing odors as well.

Microfiber/Old Tees instead of sponges

Throughout the year you will go out and buy more sponges than you can count. You probably use them for dishes, scrubbing the shower, tub, and counter tops. Sponges aren’t cheap, if you think about the number of uses you get out of one, and how many come in a pack. They hold so much bacteria, as their job is to that rightfully so, but then they eventually pile up and stay there after time and then you just spread them around your house.

I throw my sponges out after two weeks, clean in the dishwasher in between, and still depending on the duty it was used for I might just throw them out after one use.

microfiber-cleaning-clothsBut then I learned about the Microfiber cloths. Now, I know what you’re thinking: what is the difference if either one gets the job done? I’m not going to change my habit of sponges for a piece of fabric. This is all true, but in fact, microfiber is great for cleaning because they are more absorbent and have a positive charge, which attracts negatively charged dirt, germs, grime and grease – and this is without any cleaner used! The only downfall to these is that you will need to wash them separately or with lighter loads since they do attract dirt and hair very easily.

So you can use these for just about everything you do around the house: washing and drying dishes, wiping down counter tops, dusting surfaces, cleaning the windows, wiping down the shower, tub or toilet, or spot treating the floors. Ultimately, they’re long lasting and inexpensive – keeping your house bacteria and germ free as you use them without spreading them.

Another thing you could do – if you have unwanted, stained or old T-shirts – is to cut up pieces to use for dusting, polishing wood furniture, cleaning windows and for light clean ups. They’re as easy as throwing in the wash and can be reused several times for tasks such as those.

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Importance of Home Gutter Maintenance

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

home-guttersHow To Prevent Your House Gutters From Getting Damaged

Repairing works are too boring, time-consuming and tiring. You will not prefer to get in the middle of gutter repairing tasks. Gutter repairing is a costly work, but you don’t have any option of not getting them repaired. An important role is played by gutters to keep your home functioning well.

They prevent water from entering your home’s foundations, which avoids water damage inside and on the exterior side of your property. It’s essential to avert harm to the gutters to ensure they’re fit as a fiddle. Gutter cleaning isn’t a fun job to do. However, wherever you’re, it’s necessary to ensure your home’s prosperity. To check how your own gutters are performing, let’s take a look at a few signs that may state the functioning of your gutters coming down from the roof:

Water Leaks – Whenever it downpours, go out for an inspection around your home and check to ensure that water isn’t spilling from your gutters. If you prefer not to go outside in the rain, then you could choose a sunny day, get on your roof, take some water and pour it into the gutters to check the areas where leaks are present.

gutterBroken Gutters – While doing an inspection from the outside, check the drains for holes and cracks from where rain water can escape. Check the joints and the holders that connect the drains to your house. If your gutters look like they’re about to fall off from the roof or walls, then it’s the right time to do the repairing work. It’s better to do this repairing before the rainy season begins.

Ensure you investigate all the territories where you have electrical wires. You need to ensure that there are no breaks or splits in these particular spots in your home.

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Outdoor Christmas Lighting Tips

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

holiday-lightsWhat You Should Know About Outdoor Christmas Lights

Fun, food, family, gifts and tangled Christmas lights are all things associated with the Christmas season.

The Christmas tree is always fun to put up and decorate and as a rule it is simple, however the outside of your office or home is not always so easy and can often be dangerous. You need to know which lights are approved as outdoor Christmas lights or you may face power issues, injury or destruction of property.

There are specific strands that are designated as Outdoor Christmas lights and these are the safest choice for decorating your home or office. These lights are manufactured to be water resistant and put off a lot more light. You should know though that hanging your outdoor Christmas lights will be a bit more complicated than you inside lights will.

led-holiday-lightsThere are many things to keep in mind when hanging your Christmas lighting, and safety is one of the most important.

Many people make a grave mistake when hanging outdoor Christmas lights by using a staple gun to secure them. There are several reasons this is a bad idea!

The first problem is of course your metal staple may cut through the wiring, and if you are hanging them while they are on you could be shocked.

Another problem is causing a short in the wiring, which can cause the lights to quit or even catch fire! It is better to use the special hangers designed for holding outdoor Christmas lights, you can find these most places that lights are sold.

Of course do not forget that you will likely need to use a ladder while putting up your lights, make sure your ladder is secure and someone is watching out for you, remember the only thing that will break your fall is frozen ground!

You will need to measure the distance between your available outlet and your Christmas lights. Some outdoor Christmas lighting require a lot of power and your indoor outlet may not be enough to support them. You will be much better served to have an outdoor outlet installed by a professional.

Once you have an outlet in place make sure your lights will reach. With a little planning, you can actually have fun hanging your lights this year.

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Ten Tips for Outdoor Holiday Lighting

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

outdoor-holiday-lighting-ledOutdoor Holiday Lighting Tips

Outdoor holiday lighting is truly exciting. Getting those holiday lights on your outdoor property can really help you get deeper into the Christmas spirit.

Installing and using outdoor lights however are far different than with indoor ones. Here are some important tips to take note of to keep your holiday lighting installation and use both safe and enjoyable.

* Never use plain staples or nails for installing your decorative lights. These could cut through the wire and cause fraying. This in turn could endanger you and your property. As much as possible, settle for plastic clips that you can easily use on eaves, gutters and railings. If you really must use staples, make sure that they are the insulated type and that you do not cut through the wire.

led-outdoor-lights-snowflakes* Never use indoor lights outdoors. Use only holiday lights that are specifically meant to be used for the outdoors. You should also strictly stick to manufacturer instructions on how to use your Christmas lights.

* Carefully check your outdoor holiday lighting even if newly bought. You shouldn’t just keep an eye out for busted bulbs. You should also check for frayed wires, exposed wires or broken connecting sockets.

* All lighting sockets should be wrapped with electrical tape. This will ensure that there is no gap in between connections. The electrical tape can also ensure that water cannot get into the connecting points.

* You cannot just connect as many lights as you want. You also have to be careful with using limited extension wires for too many lights. You could cause a circuit overload that could lead to power failure. Light makers usually have safety guidelines on the number of lights that can be connected.

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Do it Yourself Garage Door Repair

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

garage-door-repairQuick Garage Door Fixes for Do-It-Yourselfers

Some garage door issues should be left to professionals, but in many cases you may resolve the problem on your own.

Oil the moving parts

If the door is noisy or the rollers are sticky, try lubricating all the moving parts. You will need a can of silicone spray and a rag. Pay attention to the roller shaft and hinges first, then move to the torsion springs (you may have to slip a piece of cardboard behind them before you start). Grease the track.

Check for loose bolts and worn parts

Loose hardware results in all sorts of garage door problems, yet this issue can be resolved comparatively quickly and easily. Check for loose screws and bolts along the sides of the track. If you notice any, snug up all the nuts and bolts as needed. If you have a swing-up door, pay attention to the screws located at the plates where the spring is mounted.

If you have a roll-up garage door, scrutinize the hinges. Hinges issue often result in sagging at one side of the garage door. You may have to loosen the screws or replace the hinges. If you notice cracks in the wood at the hinges, try filling the cracks and the screw holes with wood filler. Take out the hinge before you start working and do not return it to its place until the filler is dry.

garage-door-remoteThe door won’t open

If you are stuck and do not have the time to fix the problem straight away, disconnect the door from the power using the cord hanging down from the motor (typically this cord has a red handle). Now you can operate the door manually. This method also works when the power is out.

If your garage door is not opening and you have the time to fix it, the first thing you need to do is to replace the battery inside the remote. Typically such batteries are alive for less than 12 month. If this does not help, try reprogramming the remote. You will find the instructions in the user manual or online.

Look at the safety sensors. Are they aligned? Can you see indicator lights (they should not be blinking)?

Also, check for the opener issues. If the motor is no more alive, you will have to buy a new one and replace it.

garage-door-fixesThe door is frozen

Frost can make the door freeze to the garage floor. If you hit the opener button, but the icy connection is still not broken, try to turn the ice into water with a heat gun, a hair dryer or ice melting products. You may also try working with something like a flat shovel, but in this case you need to be very careful so as not to damage the seal. Once you manage to open the door, remove any snow and ice, wipe the water.

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How to Repair and Seal Your Driveway

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

How to Seal Your Driveway

Tips for repairing your driveway by True Value Hardware

Not only is repairing your driveway easy to do, it will last longer and look better.

Here’s what you’ll need: water-based acrylic filler/sealer, a chisel, a caulking gun, asphalt sealant, a brush applicator with squeegee, crack filler, foam backer rods if necessary, cold patch blacktop, knee pads, gloves and safety goggles.

Start by chiseling along the cracks. Do this at an angle so they’re wider underneath than they are on the surface.

Then clean the driveway with a garden hose, a bit of laundry detergent, and a scrub brush, removing all weeds, grass, and other debris. Make sure it’s completely dry before continuing with your repairs.

Fill cracks with the acrylic filler and a caulking gun. For wider cracks, fill with foam backer rods before applying. Smooth away excess with a putty knife.

For larger potholes, you’ll need to shovel packaged cold-patch blacktop into the well-cleaned hole, until it is slightly overfilled. Then place a piece of scrap plywood over the patch and drive your car back and forth across it to further compact it.

Let patches cure for at least one day. Mist the driveway with water, then spread the sealant with the squeegee, several square feet at a time. Allow the first coat to dry between 4 to 12 hours before applying the second.

Keep off the driveway until it is completely dry — at least 24 to 36 hours.

Need more expert advice or driveway repair and sealer supplies? Stop by Martens True Value hardware store in Reedsburg and ask one of our Hardwarians.

True Value. Start Right. Start Here.

Outdoor Deck Maintenance and Cleaning

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

wood-deck-maintenanceOutdoor Deck Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

By Anne Del Rio

The outdoor deck is vulnerable to the elements of nature. For this reason, it needs frequent upkeep.

Here are some tips that can help you maintain your porch.

Sweep the floor thoroughly. Remove the fragments wedged between wooden planks with a putty tool. This special knife has a wide and flat blade made of metal for scraping and applying cement.

deck-cleanerMold can cause the deck to deteriorate quickly. Wash on a regular basis. Use the right cleanser. The typical deck cleaner is appropriate for wood. Just make sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines. A specific formula is needed if your deck is made of composite material. Standard de-greasing substances can eliminate oil stains. The vinyl deck can be cleaned easily using mild soap and warm water.

The best time to wash your deck us when the day is cool. Sunlight can dissolve cleansing chemicals. Thus, avoid cleaning during hot days. For wooden verandas, apply the cleaner using a brush with stiff bristles, paint roller or garden spray device. Scrub the flooring before the deck dries up. Douse the floor with the cleaner for at least 10 minutes before rinsing.

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