Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Winter

January 7, 2015

Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Winter

When you spend too much time in your home, you are bound to find a home improvement project or two that can keep you busy. And that’s usually what happens during the winter, when long hours inside give you time to wonder why you decided to paint the walls avocado green.

Digital Thermostat Monitor, wall, home, interior, finger, air conditioning, 72 degreesGetty Images/Fuse

For Heydi Cribben and her boyfriend, Jesse (pictured left), who bought a fixer-upper in Minneapolis a little more than a year ago, there is always something that can be improved upon. Last winter’s home improvement projects were new floors in the entryway and living room. This winter, Cribben says, “we have a lot of interior doors that need to be hung, and pocket doors that need to be replaced. It’s those finishing touches that we’re thinking about.”Spike Carlsen, former executive editor of Family Handyman magazine and the author of “Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual” and, most recently, “A Splintered History of Wood,” said it makes sense that people focus on interior home improvements during the winter.

“Especially right before the holidays, people want their houses to look their best,” he said. “And any indoor project that doesn’t require windows to be open or walls to be taken down are good ones to think about.”

And while doors and floors fit that category, Carlsen does warn that “any door that’s hung in the winter might be a bit of a tight fit in the summer,” when humidity can expand the wood. “So you need to take some care with wood projects.”

There are plenty of other home improvement projects that can keep you busy during the winter months. Here are Carlsen’s top five suggestions for home improvement projects in winter:

1. Install a programmable thermostat

It’s always a bit of a shock when you get that first utility bill in the colder months. And if you haven’t already taken steps to save energy, an easy project, according to Carlsen, is installing a thermostat that allows you to automatically set the temperature for different times of the day. By having the heat programmed to go on when you get up in the morning, then off when you leave for the day, then back on when you arrive home, you can keep the temperature of your home constant. Carlsen says this type of project is an easy do-it-yourself project. “It’s just a couple of low-voltage wires, so it’s really something anyone can handle,” he said. “And some of them cost as low as $25. It can pay for itself in a month or two.”

2. Insulate the water heater

Another way to save energy is to lower the temperature of your water heater, and insulate it. “The ideal temperature is 120 degrees. It doesn’t cost you anything to turn it down,” said Carlsen. And by wrapping it in insulation, you can ensure that the water stays hot when it is not being used. You can buy insulation kits at your local hardware store.

3. Paint a room

“This is the greatest winter project,” says Carlsen. “It’s a great cure for the midwinter blues. And a $50 investment in paint can dramatically transform a room. When you are spending more time inside, you have more time to look at what needs to be refreshed. This is a quick, do-it-yourself project and a small investment can make a big difference.

4. Refinish the basement

Need a contractor for a project? Do it in the winter, advises Carlsen. “Contractors are slower in the winter, and one project that’s especially popular is refinishing the basement — you can often find someone to take this on,” he says. Of course, the ever-popular bathroom and kitchen remodels, which Carlsen calls “seasonless, and sometimes endless,” can also be started in winter (as long as a wall doesn’t need to be knocked out).

5. Get organized

So many people resolve to get organized at the New Year and winter is a great time to actually take action on that resolution. “There are so many great modular closet-organizing systems,” said Carlsen, who said a project like this is a great antidote to cabin fever. “You can clear up the clutter in a room or a closet, and make it look like you have twice the space you did to begin with.”

Cribben said that she expects the next few winters will be filled with projects. “We still have our whole kitchen to gut and redo; and we want to redo the bathroom. We’ll be busy for a while.”

Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Winter.

6 DIY Projects to Get You Off the Couch

January 6, 2015

6 DIY Projects to Get You Off the Couch

How did you spend the first day of the year? January 1, 2013, was not one of the most productive days I’ve ever had. In fact, I spent most of it reading on my brand spankin’ new Kindle Fire. It was glorious, but also extremely lazy. So much for my “work out more” New Year’s resolution!

6 Winter Home Improvement Project to Get You Off the Couch - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Having a lazy day once in a while isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re stuck indoors because of the cold, why not turn your snow day into a “go day”? The weather outside may be frightful, but home improvement can be oh so delightful. If you’re feeling the post-holiday blues, here are some simple home improvement projects to get you moving.

Do some painting

Did you know that cold weather is ideal for drying paint? The dryness of the winter months actually makes winter the perfect time to paint the interior, so crack a window, grab your favorite brush and make the cold work for you! Select a bold color and paint an accent wall in your living room. Or add dimension to your bedroom by painting the ceiling. If you’ve really got the DIY bug, use painter’s tape to create stripes or patterns on a wall. Whatever you choose, new colors are a sure way to add visual interest to your walls and bring a splash of sunshine into a drab winter home.

Change out your light bulbs

This one’s a bit of an investment, but you won’t regret replacing your bulbs with energy-efficient ones. It’s a great way to go green and save money. On average, an Energy Star qualified light bulb will save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime, so don’t let the upfront cost of these bulbs scare you away from making the purchase.

Install a backsplash

Backsplashes are to kitchens, as spices are to spaghetti sauce; they’re essential for completing the flavor. If you’d like to kick your kitchen up a notch, a backsplash will help accessorize and emphasize your countertops, cabinets and appliances. For a kitchen that needs color and life, a flashy or textured tile can wake up a plain scheme. For a kitchen that already has personality, sleek, neutral tile can add elegance and unity to the room’s look. If you’re daring in your design, check out Krissy’s post for unique backsplash ideas. And when you’re ready to go, this guide from HGTV can help you figure out how to install your very own tile backsplash.

Refurbish your doors

Interior doors can have a lot of visual impact on your home. The good news is you can virtually “replace” all of your doors without spending excessively. Here are some ways to make over your interior doors.

  • Paint them. Dark doors can make your home look more expensive. Colored doors can look much more modern and whimsical than traditional wood.
  • Change the doorknobs. Updated hardware is an instant fix for outdated doors.
  • Add molding to flat doors. Molding can create dimension and give an elegant, expensive feel to any run-of-the-mill doorway.

Give your closet a makeover

Is organization on your list of resolutions for 2013? Kick off your most-organized year by tackling your closet. If you create a place for everything, you’ll be a lot more likely to put things away. There are so many things you can do to customize a closet for your needs. To start, install shelving, purchase an over-the-door shoe rack and donate all the items that you no longer need, wear or fit into. Check out this post for more ideas to help you get your closet in order.

Organize your mudroom

Make messy mudrooms a thing of the past. If your family’s coats and boots are out of control, use the mess as motivation to rein in the chaos once and for all. Check out my suggestions for organizing your mudroom here, and by the time next winter rolls around, entrance way disarray will be a distant memory.

By focusing on the inside of your home while the weather is cold, you’ll have a lot more time to tackle the warm-weather stuff when spring rolls around. What kind of home improvement tasks are you tackling this winter? Let us know in the comments!

6 DIY Projects to Get You Off the Couch.

How to Re-Caulk a Bathtub

January 4, 2015

How to Re-Caulk a Bathtub

Re-caulking the bathtub or shower is an easy way to fix any seals that are broken or cracked, and it will help prevent mildew build-up.

Step 1: Remove the Old Caulk

Apply caulk softener to the existing caulk. Let it stand for at least two hours.


Remove the old caulk with a putty knife or 5-in-1 tool (Image 1). Clean the area with a cleanser that contains bleach or rubbing alcohol to ensure against mildew (Image 2). Get rid of all soap residues and let dry. Fill the bathtub with water before applying new caulk to ensure the strongest seal (Image 3). Optional: Lay painter’s tape an 1/8″ on either side of the seam to keep the application neat.

Step 2: Apply the New Caulk

Load white silicon caulk in the caulk gun and cut the tip to a 45-degree angle (Image 1).


Start on one of the short walls. When squeezing the trigger keep moving the trigger along. Always pull the gun in the opposite of which way the gun is pointing. Keep constant pressure on the trigger and don’t lift the gun until you reach the corner. Clean the tip with a paper towel between applications. Push a fresh bead of caulk around the seams. Release pressure as you reach a corner to avoid pooling.


When finished applying caulk, run a wet finger along the silicone line to smooth it and remove excess caulk (Image 2).

Step 3: Let Dry

Let the caulk dry according to directions on the canister and then remove the tape carefully.


Tip: While in the bathroom, check the door hinges for rust. Also check for rust on the shower rod. Rust could be a sign that the air vent or fan needs a cleaning. Also, check around the toilet for leaks.








How to Re-Caulk a Bathtub.

DIY Winter Home Improvement Projects

December 30, 2014

DIY Winter Home Improvement Projects

DIY Winter Home Improvement Projects

Don’t let being stuck inside from the cold keep you from enjoying some DIY winter home improvement projects this season.

Here is how to ring in the new year and save a few bucks with some simple changes and upgrades.

Winter Home Improvement Projects You Can Do Yourself

1. Put Insulation On Your Water Heater

One way to save energy during the winter months and throughout the year is insulating your hot water heater. Adding a thick blanket or insulation around your water heater will ensure that the water stays hot even when it’s not in use. Insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores. You can also turn down the temperature a few degrees to save energy and money.

2. Put In A Programmable Thermostat

The first utility bills you receive after the weather has gotten colder is usually shocking. You can lessen the shock and still keep your home warm by installing a thermostat that you can set to change the temperature throughout the day. Keeping your home warm while everyone is out is a waste of energy and money. Installing the thermostat is a simple project that most homeowners can complete on their own. It involves hooking up a couple of low-voltage wires, and most programmable thermostats come with detailed instructions to help you through the process of setting it up. These thermostats are available at most hardware stores for as little as $25, so they pay for themselves very quickly.

3. Refinish Your Basement

The winter is a great time for tackling a large indoor project such as refinishing your basement. You are likely to find a contractor that can help you with the parts of the project you can’t complete on your own during the winter. You should be able to do the demolition work on your own and will probably also be able to paint and install flooring without the help of a contractor. You can also remodel your kitchen or bathroom during the winter as you can do most of the work by yourself and find a contractor that isn’t busy to call for help if you need it.

4. Paint The Walls

Painting the walls in your home is a great way to liven up the space during the dreary winter months. Paint is inexpensive and makes a big difference in any room in your home. Try to time your painting project during a time when there is no rain or snow in the forecast so that you’ll be able to ventilate the room without the fear of damage from the weather.

5. Organize Drawers And Closets

You’re probably already spending most of your time indoors during the winter months, making it an excellent time to get organized. Start by clearing everything out of the space you want to organize. Wipe everything down so that you’re starting with a clean slate. You may need to make a trip to the store for new hangers, bins or other organizing supplies. Try to avoid putting anything back into the space you have organized that doesn’t belong there. Your home will look much bigger when it is organized, even if you haven’t actually increased the square footage at all.


via DIY Winter Home Improvement Projects.

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