Painting – The Tools of the Trade, Make the Trade

Last time we talked about the importance of purchasing good tools for your painting project. So you’ve gone out and spent $20 on a good brush, and $8 on a good roller. The other tools don’t matter as much, but I still wouldn’t go to your local dollar store to get them. These other tools include a roller cage, a roller tray, and, here it is, a 6 in 1 tool. This last tool is the secret sauce for painting efficiently and keeping your tools clean for the next coat and for months, even years to come. So, like promised, we’ll talk about this amazing tool.

The 6 in 1 tool, made by Richard (there are others, that one is just my favorite), is not a tool that looks like it could make that much of a difference, but trust me on this one – it does. The tool is sort of hard to describe, but it’s got a flat surface on the top, with a point on the right side (I guess it depends which way you hold it though) and another flat spot on the left side. It then has a large round inside curve that comes down to meet the handle. At the bottom of the handle, is a solid piece of metal. Nothing special, that’s all there is to it. But instead of calling it the 6 in 1 tool, I recommend they rename it the 100 in 1 tool. Here’s why.

There doesn’t seem like a job that I don’t use this tool for, though right now we’re going to talk about its uses in painting. The top flat surface is for scraping debris off the wall. The point on the right side is for gouging those hard to reach areas, or to help clean your paint brush if there’s crusted paint on it, (this is probably the least used part of the tool). The other flat part on the left side is used to pry open things, namely paint can lids. The curve part is for cleaning the paint from the roller sleeve when you are finished painting or want to switch to a new color. By scraping down the roller sleeve you can put a lot of paint back into the paint can that would otherwise be washed down the drain.

That part is one of the things that got me the most excited about the tool. I don’t have to waste all of that paint when I’m finished painting! This also serves to make cleanup far faster and can, in the end, help the environment by not putting more chemicals down the drain. This tool is looking pretty good so far, isn’t it. The last part of the tool is the steel at the bottom of the handle. What do you do when you’re ready to close the paint can lid, and you don’t have a rubber mallet handy? Hit it with the bottom of the handle, it really is … Read More

Checking Off Major Home Improvement Projects for Holiday Times

You never want any distractions during the holiday season, so tackling any and all home improvement projects on the agenda beforehand is recommended. Take a major sweep of your home and think of what could go very wrong in those yuletide moments. Would you be able to survive an HVAC breakdown or a faulty refrigerator? It is unlikely, so you could have your work cut out for you. Make sure you have the following five home improvement checks out of the way so the holidays will play out in style.

1. HVAC gut checks. If you don’t know the status of your heating and cooling center by the time Santa is warming up his crew, you are playing with fire. Make sure there aren’t any surprises when you settle in for the winter. Can you imagine what it would be like dealing with a broken system while everyone is gathering around the tree? Needless to say, it would not be a big hit with the in-laws or any other guests you might have.

2. Kitchen renovation. You should also head down to the center of cooking and cleaning to see where you stand as the holidays approach. A problem with your stove could very well spell disaster when you are about to cook one of the big feasts with which we associate the holidays. Pull out a thermometer and see how your oven is performing, while seeing just how cold your refrigerator is as well. These things don’t fix their own problems, so you should know where you stand.

3. Insulation cleanup. The type and quality of insulation you have is directly related to the amount of comfort you are feeling when you sit down to your holiday dinners. Is it going to fly if you have a draft coming from the front or back door? Absolutely not: you don’t want to tempt fate on any level, so have an expert clean up the insulation in all of your main rooms. In fact, have him or her head to the attic, one of the big problem spots.

4. Fireplace setup. Is there anything that says ‘holiday tranquility’ quite like everyone gathering around the fireplace? It’s tough to top. Forget about the marshmallows; make sure you have your pokers ready and the logs ready to be burned in style. Don’t opt for those creepy chemical logs. Go for the real thing only. The aromas are natural and have a far different nose than the artificial options.

5. Window replacement. Going hand in hand with items like insulation are the actual windows in your home. If they no longer can keep out the cold, with or without insulation, they have to be replaced. Check out the different options from window companies, as you might be able to get the same exact model, whether or not your windows are antique or much newer. In only rare cases are exact matches impossible.… Read More