Tag Archives: Home Improvement-The Nuts and Bolts Advice

Quick and easy makeover for your front entryway for under $100

First impressions are lasting impressions.    At first glance, it may not seem like there is anything wrong with this entrance.  Upon closer inspection however, I found a rusting hollow metal door, chipped paint, brick covered with vines, mismatched door hardware and a tired light fixture.

Still have a little painting to do, but this should give you an idea of the changes you can achieve with a few simple items and a free weekend:

1)  Remove the vines-Cost $0  (time to complete: 2 days)

The vines are no doubt very attractive and give a formal look, but they are also very damaging to your mortar and are  haven for bugs. Once removed, I pressure washed the brick so the brick’s rich colors would shine through the dust and grime that had accumulated over the years.

2)  Fresh paint- Cost $15  (time to complete 1 1/2 hours)

In this instance, I decided on a color change.  I went from a forest green to a deep red rose color in a quart of Behr’s paint and primer in one.  I added some colorful plants in the pots that flank the entrance that compliment the new red.

3)  New door hardware, door knocker and kickplate-Cost $55  (time to complete: 1 hour)

Because I am trying to maintain a historical feel for this property, I decided on the oil rubbed bronze.  The kick plate concealed the rusting blemish at the bottom of the door while also adding a sense of sophistication to the entrance.

4)  New entry light-Cost $25 (time to complete: 30 minutes)

Same as the door hardware, I found a carriage style light fixture on oil rubbed bronze to place above the front door.

Welcome in!


4 Quick and Inexpensive Bathroom Repairs-No Plumber Required

Ahh, the throne of your home for the king or queen of the castle is located here.  A place to relax and wash the troubles of the day away.   For a room that arguably gets heavy daily use in your home, you can expect that there are many small repairs that can creep up on you in a bathroom.  The good news is that most of the fix-its are very quick and easy and don’t require an expensive plumber bill.

Here’s a quick run down of common problems that can be remedied quickly and inexpensively:

1) Clogged Shower head: Hard water causes calcium buildup over time and clogged holes will cause uneven and reduced water flow.  Before resorting to removal or replacement of the head, you can try using a toothpick to remove the mineral deposits from the holes.  You can also try to soak the head in vinegar by filling a ziploc baggie full of vinegar and attaching it the head with a rubber band or tape and letting it soak for a few hours.  If this doesn’t work, you might consider replacement.

To remove the head, put a piece of masking tape around the arm (flange) for protection of the surface and using a wrench, loosen the shower head by turning to the left. The (flange) arm will stay in place.   Simply discard the old head and screw on the new one.  There are some pretty nice water saving heads available for less than $20.   Make sure you ensure a new watertight seal with white plumber’s tape.  The tape spool is usually blue with white vinyl tape and costs around $1 but well worth peace of mind to be leak free.

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A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 3: Natural Materials from Wood, Metals, Concrete)

Closing out the breakdown of the endless possibilities for kitchen counter materials, we take a closer look at some interesting alternatives that may have some drooling for that unique and custom look.  Having seen some of these options like stainless steel and concrete myself, I know my wish list is growing!

Butcher’s block
A chef’s dream, a butcher block looks and acts like a wood cutting board.

Upside:  Easy to cut on but leaves scratches

Downside:  water and heat damage is an issue so a smaller area for butcher block may be considered; scratches and cuts will be noticeable but can be reduced by treating with mineral or linseed oil periodically and can possibly be sanded out depending on thickness.

Cost:  Expect $40-150 psf

Stainless steel
Ideal for a clean, industrial look and blends well with most any color given its neutrality.  This surface is alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood decking to provide strength and deaden its sound.

Upside:  heat and water resistant; easy to maintain.

Downside: Scratches and cuts are not repairable so you shouldn’t cut on them. Plus, they can be noisy and dent if banged with a pot if they are not supported properly.

Copper
Like stainless steel, copper can give a polished look to your kitchen. Copper is much softer than stainless steel and can warp or dent.  Scratches are considered part of the patina, so you don’t need to worry about them. Over time, copper will change color so you’ll need to polish it or embrace the new shade.

Cost: $85-200 psf

New Trends to watch:

Glass
Tempered glass counter tops mix function and fashion and give kitchens a modern look. Consider a bar top or as a back-splash to minimize maintenance but retain the fashionable look.

Upside:  Available textured, sandblasted, etched or grooved, glass is sanitary since it’s non-porous

Downside:  Though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of scratches. Glass is heat resistant and water resistant but can crack if something is dropped.

Cost: $60-300 psf

Concrete

It may sound like something out of Bedrock, but concrete is practical and versatile.  It is easy to shape to any custom layout since it is cast on site. Made entirely of natural materials, this hardened mixture of water, cement, sand, stone and pigment and gaining popularity.

Upside: Heat, scratch and crack-proof;  can be finished in any color, texture or style.

Downside:  Some types may be expensive and requires regular sealing to resist water and staining.  Newly poured counters are more sensitive to heat damage so curing time is important.

Cost: $80-150 psf

If you missed the first parts:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/15/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-1-natural-stone/

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/17/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-2-solid-surface-tile-and-laminate/

A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 2: Solid Surface, Tile and Laminate)

Continuing our review of the vast options available for kitchen counter top materials, let’s take a closer look at solid surface, tile and laminate.

Solid Surface:

Corian: A trademarked brand of solid surface material, this type of counter is made of solid synthetic sheets formed by mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins and is color consistent

Upside:  custom-made to fit your space; any nicks and scratches can be sanded out and is stain-resistant. Available in a wide range of colors, textures and patterns

Downside:  Can be expensive; doesn’t have the same look and feel as natural stone.  May crack when exposed to hot pots, will stain or scratch  but can be scrubbed or sanded out

Cost:  About $40-$90 per square foot.

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A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 1: Natural Stone and Natural Stone Blends)

The choices are endless it seems for materials that can be used for kitchen counter tops.  Before making that big decision, there are some important questions that you should consider as discussed earlier here:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/01/kitchen-countertop-surface-questions/

Keeping these questions in mind, lets take a closer look at the characteristics of the different materials to choose from, starting with what nature has to offer in natural stones and natural stone blends.

Natural Stone:

Granite Still a very popular choice in natural stone

Upside:  durable, easy to keep clean and looks beautiful.  You can cut on it, roll dough on it, and place a hot pot in it

Downside: Can be expensive and prices will vary based upon stone choice and size of slab.  Some varieties are more prone to staining or etching and will require routine sealing.

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9 questions you should ask when picking your ideal kitchen countertop surface

Itching to update your kitchen with new counter tops?  The choices are plentiful with many new exciting trends to watch.  To help make the process less intimidating and more rewarding later, I believe it is important to first ask yourself some questions  about the types of surface choices and how they may suit your needs.

9 Questions you should ask yourself to ensure a perfect match for your new kitchen counter top surface:

1) Feel: Do you want your counter to be smooth vs textured?

2) Appearance:  Do you desire a solid or consistent color vs  more natural that has granules, veining or that’s patterned?

3) Material: Do you want a natural vs manmade material?

4) Durability:  Can I chop, slice, and dice directly on my counter tops?

5) Water resistance:  Will I want to roll dough directly on them?

6) Heat Resistance:  Can I set hot pots directly on them?

7)  Stain Resistance:  Can I spill lemon,  orange juice or red wine on them?

8)  Maintenance:  Do I have the time and diligence to reseal them routinely?

9)  Do I want an integral sink that matches the countertop?

Over the next few days, I’ll be discussing the various choices in surface types, along with the pros and cons of each including projected costs.  In the meantime, please feel free to ask a question or provide feedback.

4 Tips for how to choose the right grout

So, you’ve navigated your way through the maze of 1000′s of tile selections and have narrowed your choice.  Now it’s time to choose the right grout, a choice that can be equally intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 4 basic tips for how to choose the right grout:

1)  Determine Tile Spacing

Most home improvement and flooring stores have packages of tile spacers that will help you ensure a nice square fit and even spacing between tiles.

Larger floor tiles  are usually spaced 1/8″ or wider and smaller tiles usually are better suited for grout lines 1/8″ or less.  Smaller grout lines minimize the tile pattern that is laid out and tend to be easier to clean; consider smaller grout lines for back-splashes, shower walls and countertops.

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A Home Remodel Series (Part 5-Retile a Shower)

At last, today is moving day for my friend!  Her mini-home remodel is complete and the construction dust is gone.    My friend went from vanilla everything to “wow” by making subtle changes with color and a few finishes.  Concluding our home remodel series we started last week, her master bath shower and tub, like the rest of her home,  were white on white.

To see where we started and what we’ve done, click here:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/

For such a large and bright space, it lacked a lot of personality.  With some paint and new tile, see the room take on a new life below.

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A Home Remodel Series (Part 4-How to install wood flooring)

The finished project

Continuing our series on following the progress at my friend’s home remodel, part of their wood flooring in the dining room had been damaged by a water leak from the adjacent kitchen.

See what all we are covering in this series by clicking the link below:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/

Wood floors add a lot of warmth and character to any room.  They are exceptionally durable and a good quality wood floor is meant to last for years and years.  Unfortunately, in the case of my friend’s home,  wood and water do not agree and the resulting buckled wood flooring was not salvageable.

Wood floors damaged by water leak

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Bathroom remodel inspiration

A Girl Can Do It!!!

One project truly does lead to another when you are able to start small and gain confidence in yourself along the way.  My friend and neighbor, Marian Takushi,  recently completed one bathroom remodel when she decided to take on another.

Check out her before and after for a little inspiration:

Before

What the project included:

Existing counter top and cabinets were replaced with standard order black cabinets (available in a variety of finishes and sizes from Lowes and Home Depot and these are very reasonably priced from around $200-500); granite top was done at a steal from scrap pieces for around $350.

Existing builders grade mirror was removed to reveal about 3 layers of wall paper. Ordinarily, this could have been a nightmare.  But instead of removal, Marian repeated the stucco finish on her wall by troweling stucco patch in the same stroke pattern as the rest of her bathroom and painted over it.  New framed mirror is now in place.

Smartly, she re-used the existing light fixtures but repainted with  Krylon’s hammered metal finish paint to give them a new look.

And this is a neat idea….instead of replacing her medicine cabinet which would have cost $200, she found a picture frame for around $20, placed hinges on it and mounted it to the existing recessed medicine cabinet box.  Now she has a framed art medicine cabinet.  Very cute and practical.

Now Marian has a chic and updated bath that took less than a week to finish!  You can do it too!