spring home improvement 2014

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    Setting the Stage forOutdoor FunThe arrival of warmer weather renews

    homeowners vigor for various homeimprovement projects, and many havegrand plans for interior and exterior ren-ovations as they prep their living spacesfor comfort, beauty and entertainingopportunities. While there are many wor-thy projects to pursue, adding outdoorlighting to a home can help increase itsvalue and make the home safer and moreattractive in the evening hours.According to the American Lighting

    Association (ALA), with a few updates tooutside lighting, families can make evenbetter use of their homes at night. Addingoutdoor lighting is easier and less expen-sive than many homeowners may know,allowing them to transform an existingpatio, deck or pool area into an enjoyablenighttime retreat. Pool parties, dinners onthe patio or barbecues with neighborsbecome even more memorable when out-door lighting is added or improved. Buthomeowners who want to install orupgrade their outdoor lighting shouldconsider the following tips, courtesy ofALA. Improve navigation. Lighting is

    typically layered into a room or outdoorspace in three waysoverhead, task and

    ambient. Even outdoors, where there areno typical boundaries and borders, thosethree layers are necessary. Outdoor over-head lighting should improve visibility onsteps, paths and walking surfaces, espe-cially where theres a bend or an intersec-tion. Task lighting can be used aroundcooking or gardening areas. Ambient lightwill cast a comforting glow around anyoutdoor space.

    Enhance security. To improve visi-bility and security, combine a motiondetector with a sconce to illuminate darkcorners or entryways. Be sure to aimlights away from the door to improve visi-bility. Lanterns on either side of the doorcan give a home a warm, welcomingappearance and improve the safety ofentryways. Create outdoor rooms. Outdoor

    lighting at the borders of a space is agreat way to create barriers, both vertical-ly and horizontally. Lights in a tree createsomething akin to a chandelier hung inthe middle of the sky, and even accentlights in the general area of the edge of apatio, deck or porch will shine across the

    space and provide enough of a comfortlevel for people to understand wherethings are. Reduce glare. Outdoor lighting that

    casts a glare can be blinding, as can lightthats too bright. Lighting along pathsshould be cast downward, with fixturesthat are hooded. A variety of lightingoptions will create layers, allowing you toadd or subtract as necessary. Exterior-

    safe dimmers also can provide flexiblecontrol over the level of light, as can mov-able fixtures added to a patio or porch. Add decorative elements. Just as

    arbors, pergolas, patios and other outdoorelements help to enhance the style of anoutdoor space, so, too, can lighting con-tribute to a well-designed landscape.Lighting should play up decorative fea-tures of a yard and add the ambience thathomeowners desire. Step lights make pas-sage safe while also highlighting moldingor trim details. An outdoor chandelier canmake for a wonderful accent during din-nertime on the deck or under a pergola.Patio lights provide atmosphere as well asillumination for cooking outside. Enhance views from inside.

    Outdoor lighting can make the view frominside pleasant and enjoyable. Use a vari-ety of lights, including spotlights on trees,lights dotted along pathways and accentlights on unique landscape features, tocreate an idyllic landscape visible frominside the home.Outdoor lighting enhances functionali-

    ty of yards and landscapes while makingsuch areas safer for homeowners andtheir guests once the sun has gone down.

    Before You Get Started:Garage and WorkshopSmartsCompleting home improvement proj-

    ects on your own can be both rewardingand financially responsible. A growingnumber of homeowners are dabbling indo-it-yourself projects, recognizing boththe personal and financial rewards ofsuch undertakings. As more and morehomeowners perform their own renova-tions and other improvement projects,many are outfitting their homes withstate-of-the-art workshops and trans-forming garages into a do-it-yourselfersparadise.Safety is vital in any workshop. During

    a typical home renovation, homeowners

    Outdoor lighting can play up the more decorative features of a yard, including flowerbeds and decks or stone patios.

    SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE

    Continued on next page

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    SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE

    Grapevine H1-16 04914-de:Layout 1 4/7/14 7:42 PM Page 21

  • will use all sorts of dangerous tools andchemicals, and even the simplest mishapcan result in a serious injury. Followingsafety rules can reduce the risk of injury.

    Know your tools: Before novice do-it-yourselfers begin working with powertools, they should familiarize themselveswith their owners manuals and the oper-ating instructions. Some home-improve-ment retailers offer classes in varioushome renovation projects and may beable to teach tool usage. Do-it-yourselfersshould consult professionals with regardto proper tool use and safety. Do not use

    tools for purposes other than what thetool was intended to do. If machineguards are provided, they should be usedand never removed.

    Wear safety gear: Eye, ear andbreathing protection are key in any work-shop environment. Dust and chemicalgases may be present when working withcertain products, and debris can bekicked up and enter the eyes, causing irri-tation or even blindness. Loud powertools can damage sensitive ears, especiallywhen used in a contained room. Alwayswear goggles, sound-muffling earphonesand dust masks when working.

    Assess physical well-being: Do-it-yourselfers should never work withmachinery if they are feeling sick orfatigued or while taking medication thatcan affect concentration or alertness. Allit takes is a moment of distraction tocause an injury.Never surprise anyone who is working

    with power tools and keep unnecessarypeople out of the workshop, where they

    might chat and distract others from thetasks at hand.

    Factor in ergonomics: Failure towork in comfortable conditions can resultin repetition injuries or muscle strain.Make the workshop as comfortable aspossible. Ensure the work table is at theright height. Use a rubber mat on thefloor to reduce standing fatigue. Have astool or chair available for taking breaks.

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    9,2014

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    SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDESPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE

    Home is where your heart is, and spring is a good time to start checking off all thoseupdates and renovations youve been dreaming about.

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  • Keep a clean shop: Power cordsstrewn around the workshop present atripping hazard. They also make it possi-ble to drag sharp or heavy tools off oftables and workbenches if the cords arepulled or tripped over. A neat workshop isa safer workshop. Pay attention to wheretools are kept and keep cords manageable.

    Dress appropriately: Loose clothingand hair can become tangled or lodged inequipment. Do not wear jewelry. Dress

    comfortably but appropriately for theworkshop, being sure to wear sturdyshoes.

    Lock it up: Children and pets are curi-ous and may wander into a workshop toexplore. They can become seriously ill orinjured by the bevy of chemicals and toolsused for common projects. Some itemsare flammable and sharp and shouldalways be out of reach. Locking cabinetsand drawers can keep tools inaccessible.

    Also warn youngsters against entering theworkshop unattended.As more people engage in do-it-your-

    self projects, homeowners should reac-quaint themselves with safety procedures.

    Pool Chemistry Basics

    Pool water chemistry is something thatbaffles many homeowners caring for theirbackyard pools. It is vital to keep an ade-

    quate level of certain chemicals to createpristine, safe swimming water.One of the most important tools to have

    is a pool/spa test kit. Sometimes pool pack-ages will come with a basic test kit thatmeasures for chlorine and pH only. Thisisnt really adequate for most peoplesneeds. Understanding the different facetsof pool water chemistry will help illustratewhy.There are roughly six factors that come

    into play with pool water chemistry.1. Free chlorine (FC): Swimmer protec-

    tion is provided by a sanitizer, generally achlorine-based product. Free chlorineresidual is the measure of the active, avail-able chlorine sanitizer in the pool that isstill able to clean the pool. Without FC, thepool will harbor bacteria and algae andturn swampy.2. Combined chlorine (CC): When chlo-

    rine combines with contaminants in thepool, like ammonia and organic materials,it essentially gets used up and becomesinactive. This is called combined chlorine.This type of chlorine is useless at thispoint and can contribute to that chlorinesmell many people associate with toomuch chlorine in the pool. Rather, theopposite is the case. There is too muchused-up chlorine and not enough FC. IfCCis too high, it will be necessary to

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