7 Home Hacks That Make Maintenance Easier

These tricks make tackling prickly household chores easier.

 

1. Tuck Chalk in Your Toolbox to Stop Rust

You can keep the metal tools and hardware in your toolbox rust-free with blackboard chalk. How so? Chalk is a moisture-sucking material that traps dampness. When you place several pieces throughout your toolbox, its porous nature will protect items prone to rusting.

Bonus tip: Got a musty closet? Fill up a small muslin or cheesecloth bag with chalk and then hang it inside. It will absorb the dampness and stinky odor.

Chalk kept in a toolbox to keep metal tools from rusting

2. Spray Your Mower’s Blades to Keep Clippings From Sticking

If you have a lawn, mowing is one of those must-do drudgeries. Fortunately, cooking spray can make the chore problem-free. When applied to a mower’s undercarriage and blades, it can help prevent grass clippings from sticking.

Bonus tip: You can prevent ice from building up in your freezer with cooking spray. Just spray a thick layer over spots prone to icing, and let it sit for five minutes. Afterward, use a towel to wipe up the oil.

3. Toss in a Tennis Ball to Clean Your Pool Water

Tennis ball in a pool to help keep water clean

Suntan lotions, moisturizers, and body oils will leave a greasy slick on pool water. To clean, toss in a fresh tennis ball. Its fuzzy surface will soak up the oils your guests left behind.

Bonus tip: A tennis ball will buff scuff marks off floors. To avoid stooping while cleaning, cut an X into the ball and place on the end of a mop or broom handle.

4. Use Painter’s Tape for a Perfect Caulk Job

Use painters tape when caulking for straight lines

To many DIYers (myself included), applying caulk in clean, straight lines seems like an impossible task. But it’s actually very easy if you use painter’s tape. You’ll need to thoroughly clean the area you’re caulking first. When it’s dry, apply medium adhesion painter’s tape, such as Frog Tape, above and below the area you’ll be caulking and then caulk. Be sure to peel off the tape while the caulk is still wet.

Related: How to Remove Old Caulk

5. Grab a Makeup Sponge to Repair Drywall Holes

Supplies for DIY repair of a hole in a wall

Typically mesh or paper tape is used to fill small holes in drywall. But a cosmetic sponge will get the job done, too. Just stuff it into the hole (you may need to cut it down to size) and spackle. You’ll find the entire tutorial here.

Bonus tip: A little baking soda added to a dollop of strong, fast-acting glue, such as Krazy Glue, will fix a small wall crack. When the mixture is dry, it forms a hard plastic that can easily be sanded down to a smooth surface.

Related: How to Patch a Drywall Hole

6. Use Your Drill to Clean a Grimy Tub

Cleaning a bathtub with a loofah attached to a drill

It takes a lot of elbow grease to deep clean a dirty bathtub — unless you use a cordless drill with a foam ball polishing attachment (found in the automotive section of most big box stores). Attachments like these were designed to be tough on grime without scratching surfaces.

Bonus tip: Another automotive store item that saves cleaning time is rain repellent windshield sealant. Apply it to clean glass shower doors to reduce soap scum buildup.

7. Apply Nail Polish to Fill a Hole in Your Window

Found a tiny hole in your glass window? Repair it with clear nail polish. Apply a coat then wait for it dry. Repeat those steps until the layers of clear nail polish are flush with the glass surface.

Here’s what to avoid, what to choose for your kitchen remodel.

 

About to remodel that old kitchen? Unless you’re cool with treating the hardest working room in your house like a museum exhibit, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest or shiniest materials available and go for durable options that can stand up to regular abuse. Trust us: Although it may be tough to leave that raised, tempered glass bar top in the showroom, repairing its first (and second, and third) chip will get old. Very fast.

Picking the right materials is easy if you do your homework. “There are amazing products out there,” says Jeffrey Holloway, a certified kitchen designer and owner of Holloway Home Improvement Center in Marmora, N.J. “You’re looking at price point, sanitation, how easy it is to clean the product, its durability and maintenance.”

Keeping those all-important features in mind, here are some materials toavoidduring your next kitchen project.

1. Plastic Laminate Counters

First off, there’s plenty of great laminate out there. It’s the entry-level,plastic laminate to stay away from, Holloway says. These are the ones that look thin and dull, as opposed to richly textured. They scratch easily, and if the product underneath the laminate gets wet (say, from steam rising from your dishwasher), it can delaminate the countertop, which means the edges will chip pretty easily. Also, one misplaced hot pan on the plastic will result in a melted disaster zone you’ll remember forever.

But if you’re watching your budget, plastic laminate at the next level up is a good choice. “It’s got good color consistency, and there are a lot of retro and trendy patterns available,” says Dani Polidor, an interior designer and owner of Suite Artistry, and a REALTOR® in Pittsford, N.Y.

New laminate counter technology offers scratch resistance, textured surfaces, and patterns that mimic real wood and stone. “There are even self-repairing nano-technologies embedded in some laminates,” says Polidor, “and others have antimicrobial properties.”

For an average 10-by-20-foot kitchen, the next-level-up laminate will cost about $3,000, Polidor estimates, and those super cool technology options add another $200 to $300. For durability and longer life, the investment is well worth it.

2. Inexpensive Sheet Vinyl Flooring

You spend all day stepping on your floor, so quality really matters. At the lower price point, about $2.50 per square foot, the cheapest sheet vinyl floorings tend to be thin. “If your vinyl floor is glued down and the underlayment gets delaminated, say, by water seeping from your dishwasher or refrigerator, you’ll get bubbles in your floor,” Holloway warns.

Compare that with luxury vinyl tile (LVT) that costs about $5 per square foot. It’s still usually glued down, but it’s a little more forgiving than its less classy cousin — and it can come in tiles, which you can grout so they mimic the look of higher-end stone, Polidor says.

3. Some Laminated Cabinet Fronts

Holloway suggests staying away from lower-end thermofoil cabinet fronts. What is thermofoil? Contrary to its name, there’s no foil or any metal-type material in it. It’s actually vinyl, which is heated and molded around fiberboard. If the cabinet is white and the price is waaaaay affordable compared with other cabinets, think twice. Cheaper thermofoil has three critical issues:

1. It’s not heat resistant. If near a dishwasher or oven, it could delaminate.

2. It can warp and yellow with age, revealing its cheapness.

3. The “wood” underneath the thermofoil is also poor quality and won’t hold up over time.

But just like with plastic laminate, science has made great strides, and now there are a host of new cabinets that are remaking thermofoil’s reputation. “New European laminates have become all the rage for the clean-lined, flat-panel look,” Polidor says. “It’s budget-friendly and can look like wood or high gloss. It’s not your grandmother’s thermofoil.”

And it doesn’t come at grandma’s prices, either. But still, the new thermofoil is much more affordable than custom cabinets, and still satisfies with its rich look and durability.

4. High-Gloss Lacquered Cabinets

A nice shine can be eye-catching. And spendy. About 20 layers of lacquer go on a cabinet for the high-gloss look. Ding it or scratch it, and it’s costly to repair.

“It’s a multi-step process for repairing them,” Polidor says. A better option for the same look is high-end thermofoil (see? We said there were good thermofoil options!). Thermofoil has a finish that’s fused to the cabinet and baked on for a more durable exterior. And it’s way more budget-friendly, too. High-gloss can be in the thousands of dollars, whereas thermofoil can be in the hundreds or dollars.

5. Flat Paint

Flat paint has that sophisticated, velvety, rich look we all love. But keep it in the bedroom. It’s not KF (kitchen-friendly). Flat paint, also known as matte paint, has durability issues. It’s unstable. Try to wipe off one splatter of chili sauce, and you’ve ruined the paint job. About the only place to use flat paint in your kitchen is on the ceiling (unless, of course, you have a reputation for blender or pressure-cooker accidents that reach to the ceiling, then we suggest takeout).

Instead, you want to use high-gloss or semi-gloss paint on your walls. They can stand up to multiple scrubbings before breaking down.

 

6. Trendy Backsplash Materials

Tastes change. So avoid super trendy colors and materials when it comes to permanently adhering something to your kitchen walls. Backsplashes come in glass, metal, iridescent, and high-relief decor tiles, which are undoubtedly fun and tempting. They can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to $220 a square foot, and difficult to install. And after all that work and expense, if (er … when) your tastes change in a few years, it’ll be mighty tough to justify a re-do.

Stick with a classic subway tile at $2 to $3 square foot. Or, even more budget friendly, choose an integrated backsplash that matches your countertop material. “If you want pops of color, do it with accessories,” Polidor suggests.

 

Egging, Toilet Papering: How to Clean Up After Halloween Pranks

Halloween cleanup can be the scariest thing about the holiday. Here’s a tip sheet on how to remove eggs, toilet paper, wax, and other messes that go bump in the night.

Halloween can be a messy holiday. With pranksters about, you may end up with egg yolks dripping down your siding and toilet paper hanging from your trees. Inside, you might drip candle wax on your carpet, and your little ones could leave makeup stains on your furniture. Hey — it’s the price of having fun.

But when the fun is over, the cleanup begins. Here are some tips from the American Cleaning Institute and others on removing the Halloween mayhem that little tricksters leave behind.

Egg Splatters on Your House

Time is your enemy when your house has been egged, because sunbaked yolks can stain your siding. Also, micro-shards of shell can become embedded in paint or act as an abrasive when you clean off the gunk.

Instead of scrubbing, spray away the egg with your garden hose. But don’t aim the hose full blast at the yolk, which will splatter the mess. Instead, Popular Mechanics magazine suggests first wetting the siding below the egg, then gently spraying the siding above the egg; the water will fall in sheets and flush away the mess.

If you need more cleaning oomph, dip a brush into a bucket of warm water (never hot, which will bake on yolks) and dish soap, and then scrub away the mess.

Toilet Paper in Your Trees

Wet toilet paper is a beast to remove from trees. So wait until the sun evaporates dew; or, if rain is predicted, start removal right away.

Use a rake to grab and pull the TP down, a leaf blower to blast it, or a telescoping reacher/grabber to pluck it.

Start at the top and work your way down. Immediately throw paper away: Leaving it on your lawn can smother grass.

Candle Wax on the Carpets

Never try to remove hot wax from carpeting. Not only can you burn yourself, but you’ll likely spread the wax, making a bigger mess.

When the wax has cooled, break it with a dull knife or Popsicle stick. Throw away the pieces.

Cover remaining bits with a paper towel or rag, and press a warm iron to the area. Replace the towel frequently to avoid spreading the wax.

Halloween Makeup on Upholstery and Carpet

Many commercial carpet and upholstery cleaners remove makeup from unwanted places. The only tricky part is applying these cleaners.

Always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous spot. Apply a dab of cleaner on a white cloth, then hold it to the test area for about a minute. If no color is transferred to the white cloth, the cleaner is safe.

Never rub cleaner on a stain. Rather, blot the stain starting from its outer edge and work to the center.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Why Buying a New Home Grows Your Wealth Faster Than Renting

 

There can be many downsides to both renting and buying, depending on what side of the coin you are on, but if you’re leaning towards purchasing a home it can have added benefits for your bank account that renting does not. While renting can certainly alleviate many of the costs that go along with property ownership, here’s why purchasing a home can have positive monetary affects in the long run.

 

The Good Impacts of Inflation

 

While inflation is often seen as a dirty word, a real estate purchase can see the positive side of inflation with how your home purchase investment will grow over the years. Putting money into rent will mean that money is gone and out the window once you’ve paid for the month, but investing into a property will come back to you in future gains that are made in the real estate market. While buying a home will be more expensive in the short term, it can also provide you with greater financial flexibility and equity in the future.

 

Renovations Will Increase Home Value

 

While changing up the bathroom or the paint on the wall in your apartment isn’t going to add any extra lining to your wallet when you move out, making upgrades to a home that you own will have the very opposite effect! Renovations can certainly be unpopular while they’re taking place, but no matter how small or large, they can mean an easier sell and a higher profit when the home finally goes on the market.

 

The Opportunity For Rental Property

 

An apartment you rent won’t offer opportunity for investment if you’re away from your home for an extended period of time, but a home you own may serve as an ideal investment property at some point in the future. With the success of Airbnb and unique modern housing needs that may only require a home rental for a short period of time, being able to use your house as a rental property can be a significant boon for earning money you would have otherwise been without.

 

Buying a home can require a lot of number crunching in the beginning that rent does not, but it can also provide significant financial benefits down the road that might not exist without such a purchase. If you’re considering purchasing a home in the near future, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best Investment

 

When delving into the world of real estate and investment property, there are many terms that will come up that require further explanation. Whether you’ve never heard the phrase ‘home equity’ before or you have a little familiarity, here are the ins and out of what it means and how this asset can help your financial outlook.

 

All About Home Equity

 

Essentially, home equity refers to your portion of the value of your home, and the amount of this figure is important because it is included among your assets when determining your net worth. If this sounds confusing, think of it this way: if you have completely paid off the cost of your home, the value of your home equity is this total amount. Of course, because most people seek a lender to borrow money from when they purchase a home, their home equity would consist of their down payment and whatever amount they’ve paid down on the mortgage since purchase.

 

An Example Of Home Equity

 

To provide further clarification, let’s use the example of a house that has been purchased for $300,000. In the case that a down payment of 20% has been provided at the time of purchase, the equity in the home would be $60,000. Since this amount is the percentage and cost of the house that’s been paid down, this is the amount of the house that is actually owned and this will be figured among an individual’s assets.

 

How Home Equity Works

 

As you pay the amount that you owe on your home each month, you are paying off your total debt and thereby increasing your equity. Since this amount of money is considered an asset that belongs to you, it can be used down the road to buy another home or invest in other important things like education or retirement. While paying off the amount owed on a home is a considerable investment, if the value of your home increases, this means that you’ll still owe the same on it but your home equity will have automatically increased.

 

As an asset that is part of your financial net worth and can be used down the road to fund other investments, home equity is a very useful term to know when it comes to purchasing a home. If you’re on the market for a home and are considering your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.