Home Improvement Selling

Get the Most Bang For Your Buck When You Sell Your Home

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What renovations offer the biggest impact on a home’s value?

Let’s see…

1. An Addition

Any type of home expansion, whether it’s a new bedroom, a new den or a larger living room, will have a huge impact.

2. Master Bath

The master bath should be as bright and large as possible. Potential buyers want lots of space in their master bath. A separate water closet and a spacious shower with multiple shower-heads are must haves. In the most luxurious homes, there is the new trend of a separate sink and water closet for each person and only sharing the shower.

3. Kitchen

Updating a kitchen with new appliances and plumbing fixtures is a must! The most popular kitchen features that are wine refrigerators, drawer-style microwave and dishwashers, commercial style ranges, and hidden electrical outlets.

4.Outdoor Living Space

Tap the outdoors for additional living space. A screened-in porch or a paved backyard patio- especially one that includes an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill and small fridge- makes a great additional entertaining area. These features are in demand.

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Home Improvement

The Energy Upgrade Every Room Needs

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Ceiling fans cool down rooms in warm weather and maintain comfortable temperatures during the winter. But besides offering powerful environmental effects for every room, the right fan often helps complete the look of a room.

The American Lighting Association (ALA) offers the following reasons to consider a new ceiling fan.

1. Ceiling fans help you stay comfortable. Rooms with ceiling fans enjoy a breeze that makes the ambient temperature feel eight degrees cooler than reality because of the increased airflow (otherwise known as CFM or cubic feet per minute). That bit of airflow can save homeowners as much as 40 percent on energy bills, specifically air conditioning. CFM, which ranges from 2,000 to 10,000, may be more important than motor size. Choose a 48- to 52-inch-wide fan with about 4,500 CFM.

2. Ceiling fans add beauty. Modern ceiling fan varieties have expanded by the hundreds, including a huge span of color palettes and personalized designs. The decorating choices are practically limitless.

3. Ceiling fans can be sized to every space. For general guidance, use these measurements:

a. Small Room (0-75 square feet) means a 36 inch diameter fan.
b. Small/Medium Room (76-144 square feet) means a 42-50 inch diameter fan.
c. Medium Room (144-225 square feet) means a 52-54 inch diameter fan.
d. Large Room (225-400 square feet) means a 54-72 inch diameter fan.
e. Great Room (400-plus square feet) requires more than one fan installation, each being 52-72 inches.

4. Ceiling fans work year-round. During the winter months, you can increase energy efficiency by running your ceiling fan in reverse on low speed. Hot air rises, and the fan’s winter flow circulates warm air downward.

5. Ceiling fans have the latest technology in place. Brushless Direct Current ceiling fan motors only consume 18-33 watts of energy. Using standard electric costs, that’s less than $.01 per hour. Some fans have circuit boards and optic sensors that adjust speeds to run faster or slower, depending on the weight of the blade installed, and most come with wall or hand-held controls.

See the latest fan designs at your local ALA-member retailer. You can also talk to an expert about the ceiling fans that are most appropriate and energy efficient for your space, needs and budget.

To find your closest ALA-member lighting showroom, visit

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Home Improvement Homeownership

10 Super Simple Steps To Remove and Replace Grout

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Want to update the look of your tile? Use these 10 steps to give your tile a fresh, new look.

1) Use a grout saw to remove as much grout from the joint as you can. Work the area using a North/South or East/West motion. Be very carefully to avoid scratching the tile or stone.

2) Clean the area using a heavy duty grout and tile cleaner for acid resistant surfaces. Or, a stone deep cleaner for acid sensitive surfaces. Rinse with clean water.

3) Using a margin trowel and pail, mix the new grout to a toothpaste consistency with a grout additive.

4) Using a grout float, spread the grout diagonally across the tile with the float held at a 45- degree angle. Press firmly and go over the surface several times to pack the joints. Finish by striking off any excess with the float held at a 90-degree angle. Be careful not to remove the grout from the joint.

5) Before you wet-clean the tile, allow the grout to set up for a few minutes. As soon as you can wipe grout off the surface using a damp (not wet) grout sponge without pulling grout out of the joint, clean until only a light haze of grout remains. Use light, diagonal strokes, and rinse and wring out the sponge often.

6) Clean and shape the joints by wiping parallel to them. Remove the grout until its level is just below the tile’s rounded edges. If any voids appear in the process, press in a dab of grout with the float, the sponge or a fingertip and wait about 10 minutes.

7) Final Rinse. For acid resistant surfaces (Ceramic and Porcelain) use a grout haze and film remover. Using a sponge, wipe down the area until all grout and admix residue disappears. Let dry.

8) Buff down the area with a towel. (Like removing wax from a car.)

9) After 72 hours, apply a grout sealer. Let the sealer penetrate in the grout, then wipe off all excess sealer (Much like cleaning a window with glass cleaner.)

10) Maintain your grout and tile surfaces weekly by using your a grout and tile cleaner.

All done!

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Home Improvement Homeownership

Home Is Where the Hardwoods Are

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When it comes to updating your home, it can be difficult to decide what to do, where to start and, most importantly, what will last over the long haul. Granite countertops that have been the trend? Passe. Faux painted walls? So yesterday (by the way, wallpaper is making a comeback). You get it.

Yet hardwood floors continue to withstand the test of time. They provide warmth and add classic beauty to even the most simple home.

“Hardwoods are just easier, especially for people who have pets and kids,” Kevin Aycock, president of Kevin Aycock Homes in Atlanta, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview.

These days homeowners have a cornucopia of choices when it comes to installing hardwoods. With so many choices, however, it can be daunting trying to decide which hardwoods are right for your home.

However, most industry experts agree: Pre-finished beats unfinished, hands down.

“Factory finishes can furnish up to 10 UV- and scratch-resistant layers, and offer a 20-year guarantee that on-site finishers can’t get close to,” Gary Mills of Fullerton Wholesale Flooring in Anaheim, California, told the Washington Post in an interview.

To that point, engineered wood (also called veneers), which are made of three to five layers of wood laminated together, can be an affordable option that has all the comfort, warmth and classic feel of solid plank flooring. And because of cross-lamination, engineered floors are more stable and don’t expand and contract as much as solid wood. They can also be installed at any grade level, are typically less expensive than solid planks (engineered wood costs anywhere $3-$18 per square foot) and will last from 20 to 100 years depending on the thickness of the top veneer.

While hardwoods aren’t indestructible, Mohawk Flooring is making it its mission to have its hardwood floors last as long as possible.

According to Tammy Perez, Mohawk Flooring’s director of hard surface marketing, its new ArmorMax top coating, which is added to its premium laminate collection, enhances an already heavy-duty wear layer to all hardwood flooring.

“Mohawk ArmorMax floors have all of the design options we love about hardwood—a variety of colors, widths and textures,” Perez said. “But ArmorMax finish is not a topical finish. It penetrates deep into the wood fiber, making it up to five times more resistant to wear than other extended finishes.”

For more information, visit
For any questions on selling or buying a home, contact us

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Home Improvement Homeownership

4 Ways to Decrease Stress During a Home Remodel

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Maybe you’ve grown just sick enough of that 1970s avocado-green kitchen to update it to something more sleek and modern. Or perhaps it’s as simple as remodeling a bathroom. Whatever the room, home renovations can test even the most patient personality through the sheer chaos and mess that are inevitable.

To get through your renovation, organizing the clutter is key. The following tips should help you stay on top of the disorder.

• Have files for everything. Paperwork should be kept in one place because it will pile up. Inexpensive file folders that are portable can help you stay structured. Create a file for all receipts, and as you post them to a budget, move them to another file labeled “posted.” Permits and papers from the city or homeowner’s association should be kept together in another folder in order to easily put your fingers on them. Just for fun, make a folder of design ideas and pictures from magazines to keep you inspired.

• Cover it up. One word: plastic. No, not credit cards. Use it to cover all heavy furniture that must stay in the room. This will prevent dust and debris from getting into the nooks and crannies and keep the finish on the furniture looking shiny.

• Keep a list. Supplies are going to run low, and no matter how good your memory, things are going to fall through the cracks if you don’t write them down. Hanging a clipboard on a nail in the area where you are working will help you to stay on point about people you need to call, or things you need to do or buy for the next day.

• Have a place for everything. If you’re doing the remodel yourself, there is going to be a certain amount of upheaval. One thing that will help reduce your stress level is keeping your tools in one place. Create a space such as a table, where all small tools are kept The larger tools can sit on the floor underneath. Also, every time you are finished with a tool, put it back in the appropriate spot.

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Architect Home Improvement

Video: 11 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Architect

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Home Improvement Homeownership

Lighting Your Landscape Like the Pros

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The deck is swept and ready for summer barbecues, the lawn is freshly mowed, and the outdoor furniture is dusted off. In short, the stage is set for cookouts, family gatherings and entertaining late-night porch hangouts. But don’t get left in the dark.

According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), proper outdoor lighting is just as important for a beautiful landscape as a lush lawn, bright flowerbeds, green plants and manicured shrubs.

Jeff Dross, corporate director of lighting education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting, recently explained that homeowners are opening up to new ideas with landscape lighting.

Use Indirect Light

Dross says the current trend is for homeowners to highlight their landscaping with indirect lighting, which essentially uses a source to reflect the light emitted by the light fixture. This creates more of an atmospheric tone, allowing the light to spread across a wall off the side of a house more effectively. Indirect light will illuminate flower beds, gardens, bushes or other decorative landscaping art. Additionally, the light will bounce off the ground and create a nicely lit walkway around flowerbeds.

The Shift to LEDs

LED light bulbs are beginning to dominate the landscape lighting industry. For the majority of homeowners, outdoor lights and landscape lighting are typically left on longer than other home lighting, which makes LEDs the more affordable and logical option.

Additionally, LEDs can be manufactured in much smaller sizes, which give homeowners more options to use them in unique spaces. Dross explains that LEDs are so small, they can be used as application lighting, as well as for aesthetic purposes. Hardscape designs are easy to mesh with LEDs, because the style creates both a passageway lighting source and indirect lighting for stone or brick landscapes.

Keep It Simple

Two significant trends in landscape lighting is simplicity and cleanliness. What this means is that more homeowners are choosing to go with fewer ground fixtures to illuminate their entire home. According to Dross, residents who simply align their light fixtures along a walkway in a very orderly and organized fashion are providing a lot of unnecessary light and wasting energy.

Going for a more simplistic design can still highlight plants and flower beds while giving just enough light to illuminate a backyard or around a patio. Also, homeowners are moving toward fewer lumens in light fixtures. This allows the light beam to spread more efficiently and even out the overall light sources.

To learn more about landscape lighting, visit a nearby ALA showroom, or go to

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