Springtime is finally here. All winter long you’ve been thinking about doing your own home improvement projects once the weather changes. Now’s your big chance. These projects will improve your home’s appearance and for some, make it more energy efficient. These projects are great for beginners or proficient handymen. So don’t delay any longer, get improving!
How to Caulk Windows and Doors
Leaky windows and doors can waste a lot of the energy your home uses. Especially during the hottest part of the summer when air conditioning units are cranking on high. Caulking and weatherstripping your windows and doors is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to reduce unwanted air flow. Caulking should be used on window and door parts that are non-moving. There are four main types of caulk:
- Acrylic latex caulk – This is the least expensive and easiest to work with. It can be painted over. However, it is also the least resilient and does not last as long, therefore it is not recommended for outdoor use. Consider acrylic latex caulk for the insides of doors and windows.
- Silicone latex caulks – These adhere better than acrylic latex, and work great in bathrooms due to their water resistance levels.
- Silicone caulk – This is one of the most durable caulks available. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to work with, especially to a novice. Clean-up is harder, it is very difficult to remove after it has been applied and cannot be painted over.
- Polyurethane caulk – These are high-quality outdoor caulks. They are easier to work with than silicone. The main drawback is they must be painted over to protect the caulk from UV sunlight which will break down the polyurethane over time.
Apply caulk evenly taking care to avoid leak causing gaps
- Before caulking, remove all old caulk with a putty knife, clean the area of any dirt, debris and paint chips, let the area dry thoroughly before caulking. Install a tube of calk in a half-barrel caulking gun. Cut the tip of the tube off ¼ inch from the end at a 45 degree angle and use a thin nail to break the seal inside the tip.
- Press the tip against one corner of the window and draw along the window seam while squeezing the trigger to get a continuous bead. You want to apply just enough to fill the gap. This may take some practice to get the feel for how quickly the caulk will flow. Smooth over the caulk with an object and remove excess caulk, this is called “tooling”. Some people use a rag over their finger or even a Popsicle stick. Let the calk dry for at least 24 hours.
How to Clean Your Home Gutters and Do Downspout Maintenance
Keeping your gutter and downspout system clean and functioning is important for your home. Not only will ineffective gutters allow the build-up of mold and mildew, you can have significant damage to your roof and siding. Once water finds a way into your exterior walls or roof it can cause rotting to progress fairly quickly.
- The first step is to actually clean out the gutters. Even gutters that seem to be functioning will have some build-up in them. Climb a ladder and manually scoop out all the detritus in the gutter. The gunk inside is mostly decomposing leaves and small sticks. This gunk actually makes great compost for your garden.
- Once the gutters are clean, do a visual inspection. Look for cracked caulking in the seams and any holes. Remove old caulking and re-caulk with silicone calking. Inspect the spikes that attach the gutter to your home. These spikes should go through the fascia board and into the home’s rafters. At times a gutter can be installed badly and the spikes miss the rafters, or they can work loose. Replace any spikes that are improperly installed. Check the downspouts where pieces are riveted together. These rivets do fall out over time. An inexpensive rivet gun will allow you to secure the downspouts pieces again.
Decomposing leaves and other organic matter from your gutters make great compost!
How to Resurrect a Weatherworn Deck
Wood decks can be a beautiful outdoor space for your family to enjoy in the warmer months. Over time however, they can become gray and much less attractive. Yearly maintenance on a wood deck is critical to the longevity and appearance of the deck. With a little elbow grease, even old decks can be rejuvenated to look new again. Depending on the condition of your deck, you can completely refinish it in one weekend, but spreading it out over two weekends will give the wood plenty of time to dry after it has been cleaned.
- Begin your deck revival by doing a physical inspection of the whole deck. Start with any part of the deck that actually has contact with the ground. These areas are the first that will rot. Check the wood by pushing a flat head screwdriver into the wood. If the head sinks into the wood you have some rot and you may need a major rebuild of your deck.
- Next, check the deck where it attaches to the house. The screws and bolts used for this can loosen over time or even rust away. Replace and re-secure any that need it. Next check for any boards that have worked loose. Nail heads can be tapped back down, or replaced with screws. Use galvanized or stainless steel screws with a wood deck.
- This step is the most labor intensive. Your deck will need a thorough cleaning. This should be done every year. If you’ve been putting it off for a few years your job will be even harder. Wear protective clothing and eye protection while using deck cleaning chemicals. You may have to cover any plants. Follow protection instructions on the chemicals closely. There are a lot of options for deck cleaners, ask your local store for help in choosing the right one. Keep the deck moist while you are working on it, don’t let any area dry out until you are finished. If scrubbing doesn’t get out all the stains, you may need to rent a power washer for the day.
- Allow the deck to dry completely before resealing the wood. Overnight may not be enough time for the moisture to completely wick out and damp wood will resist any stain. If your deck is new, a clear stain or finish will work well. However, if your deck is a few years old you might want to consider using a semi-transparent stain. These have a slight tint to them that will even out the color of the wood and help hide any problem areas. The grain of the wood will still show through. Semi-transparent stains will last longer and give better protection from the sun.
- Stains are best applied with a sprayer, then use a brush or roller on any puddles. As opposed to paint, the stain should settle into the wood and be absorbed fairly quickly. Allowing puddles to stay on the wood can create a blotchy finish.
After applying wood stain with a sprayer use a paint pad to smoothen things out.
There you have it. Three great spring home improvement projects from Kuna. With winter over it is also a great time to check on your home security hardware
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