Month: August 2012

3 Ways To Make Your Floor Pop

How Shape, Texture and Color Can Make A Difference

 1. It’s not your granddaddy’s hardwood

The Jamie Beckwith Collection of innovative wood flooring plays with pattern, texture and color in wood flooring to create interesting and gorgeous floors.

2. Put a cork in it

Especially well-suited to rooms that see a lot of activity, cork is a natural noise-reducer as well as being more cushioned than most flooring, which is a nice feature in rooms where you may stand much of the time, like your kitchen. Cork comes in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing you to play with pattern — like the dark tile accents in the floor below. Read more about the pros and cons of cork flooring here.

Photo from Better Homes & Gardens

3. Paint the floor red… or blue or checkered or…

From a classic diamond pattern to a blinding white to a pretty pattern, paint can be the easiest way to transform your floor. Check out these photos from Houzz:

A simple diamond pattern by Cameo Homes Inc. as seen on Houzz:

 A prettygingham by The Gaines Group

 as seen on Houzz:

 A pretty white floor from a Houzz user:












3 Problems Paint Primer Can Solve

Most home DIY-ers know that if you want to turn your ivory walls red, you’d be best served priming the walls first. Paint primer has other uses in your home, too — things you should consider the next time you get an itch to change up the colors in your home.

1. Mildew

It’s true. The very paint on your walls can help you reduce bacteria and the chances of mildew and mold in bathrooms and kitchens, where moisture, steam and evaporation are common. Because paint is porous, moisture can seep through to the walls beneath and not only cause the paint to peel and bubble, which is unattractive, it can lead to mold and mildew.

Vapor-barrier primers are formulated specifically to minimize moisture seeping through the paint to the walls — and to prevent mold and mildew before it grows with a combination of mildewcide and anti-microbial additives.

Bonus hint: if mold and mildew are already a concern, make sure you eliminate it at its source before painting over it.

2. Stains

If you’ve ever had a leak, you’ve seen that cloudy rust-colored ring that water damage can leave on your walls. Stain-blocking primers will not only cover the stain, they will seal it and prevent it from bleeding through to your brand new paint. Smoke and grease can also create stains that may ghost themselves through your new paint job if not properly sealed.

3. Shiny Surfaces

Special primers called “bonding primers” mean that you can paint just about anything, even surfaces on which, in the past, paint was unlikely to stick or stay. Glass, formica and tile are just some of the surfaces you can paint if you first use bonding primer. Generally speaking, bonding primer is not well suited for exterior surfaces, as they are particularly vulnerable to the elements.

Keep your eye out for “self-priming” paints, which have come a long way since their introduction. Dutch Boy, Ace’s Royal, Benjamin Moore’s Aura and PPG’s Pure Performance have all received good reviews for coverage and quality — as well as being low VOC paints. For reviews on more paint brands, check out Interior Paints That Perform from Good Housekeeping.

For more on priming and painting, check out these resources:

Reviews and Product Guides

Tips and Tricks

5 Apps Every Homeowner or Renter Should Have

1. What’s in your house?

Knowing what you have in your house can be invaluable when disaster strikes — with modern technology, it’s easy to do.

Both MyHome, a smartphone app available for iPhone and Android, and WYO Home Inventory, a free program (Windows) help you inventory the contents of your home.

2. How’s your project going?

Whether you’re re-painting a room, building a new patio or upgrading your kitchen, chances are you are not near your computer — but you might have your phone handy. If you’re an iPhone user, NestPix is for you. This app lets you track, photograph, organize and share all your home DIY, renovation and craft projects.

3. Where are you going to live?

If you’re thinking of moving, check out Realtor and PadMapper for your phone. Realtor (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone) brings you more than 4 million listings and lets you rate and annotate listings that catch your eye. PadMapper (Android, iPhone) brings together apartment listings from multiple free resources, including CraigsList and, and lets you see them on a map of the area you select.

4. Did you remember to…?

Check out HomeSmarts (from the contractor review site ServiceMagic), an app for iPhone and Android that will remind what you need to do and when. You tell the app about your home and it will alert you about round-the-house tasks you might otherwise forget, like changing your HVAC filters or winterizing your sprinklers.

5. What couch should you get?

The site that CNN has called the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design” has come to your phone: Houzz Interior Design Ideas is now available for the iPhone and iPad. There are more than half a million photos of rooms, products, landscapes, and styles, along with extensive tips, resources and ideas to inspire you.

3 Ways To Tell If Your Appliances Have Reached Their Expiration Date

1. Take the Kiplinger quiz

Kiplinger surveyed industry experts, trade associations and retailers to find out just how long you should expect home appliances to last — take their quiz and see how well you do when judging the lifespan of the things in your home. Check out their slideshow “Save $50 A Day: Utilities + Home Improvement” for more ideas.

2. Watch the video

iVillage posted a video from The Green Guide earlier this year to walk you through evaluating whether you should repair or replace your appliances.

3. CARE: Compare, Ask, Read, Evaluate offers a ton of tips on how to get the most from your appliances including a series of articles on extending the lifespan of your dishwasher, your range, your refrigerator and more. The very first step is to CARE:

  • compare the cost of repair to the cost of a new appliance — take into consideration energy savings a more modern appliance might offer
  • ask an expert about the problem you’re having to make sure you know the extent of the issue and the repairs entailed
  • read the manual to see if the issue is a common one, and also to check what is covered by the warranty and for how long
  • evaluate the problem to see how much time and money a repair would cost you.

For more on whether to replace or repair, check out Consumer Reports’ repair-or-replace timelines.