In the market for a pressure washer? Take a look at our Pressure Washer Buying Guide. This detailed, well-researched outline includes helpful information about different types of pressure washers, which model is best for your needs, what to look for when you’re shopping for one and our top picks.
Need help finding the right air compressor? Check out our newly updated Air Compressor Buying Guide. This detailed, well-researched outline includes helpful information about different types of air compressors, which model is best for your needs, what to look for when you’re shopping for one and our top picks.
Organizing your garage is one of those jobs that you know needs to be done, but you never seem to get around to it. Or you peek inside, see the endless clutter and start picturing the hours that will be spent cleaning the garage and then you put off the project for yet another weekend. Typically, the garage is an area of the home that is a dumping ground for many items, but if you can take the time to organize the garage area, you will find it is time well spent. Once it is cleaned out, try to stay organized by always returning all items to their proper areas in the garage (totes, containers, shelves) to keep your garage organized at all times.
- Organize the rest of the house first as the garage is usually a a dumping ground. Then decide what types of items you would like to assign a permanent home in your garage. Can some items be moved to an indoor closet or attic, like luggage for example? How about chemicals? Would they better suited to a life in a garden shed?
- Once you decide what will live where, use a lot of boxes to pull things out of the garage and group them into their separate categories. Make sure you have boxes of all sizes on hand. (The local liquor store is a great place to get free, very sturdy ones and egg cartons from the supermarket are very durable as well.)
- Don’t forget to label boxes with their contents as you are grouping them. Otherwise, you are giving yourself extra unnecessary work.
- Don’t tackle the garage alone. Make it a family affair and set a date aside on the calendar. Involve your children and make up a game with prizes for the one who can find the oldest, dirtiest throwaway, etc. This is essential to success as everyone in the home has some level of attachment to the items that are living there (rent-free, I might add).
- Set aside enough time for this project by picking back-to-back days like a weekend so that sorted items do not have to sit in piles for too long. Although there is no way to predict the weather too far in advance, a dry weekend is best.
- Be prepared with needed supplies. You will need plastic storage bins, wire baskets, permanent markers for labeling and many, many large garbage bags. Place one in the middle of your working space so that everyone can reach it.
- Start with a general purging of everything in your path. Consider yourself a nasty dictator having a bad hair day, determined to eliminate all his enemies (everyone he knows). Decide what you want to keep and specify an area in the yard for those items. Create a separate area for things that still work but you no longer need (those can be sold). Put those things that cannot be sold into a big trash bin.
- Once you have consolidated items by like type, get rid of any broken or unnecessary things. If you come across a random item that doesn’t quite fit into anywhere specific, store it in the most similar category available.
- Organize a garage sale and pay to advertise for it in a local paper. This way, you will carry though. Plan ahead enough so that you can go through all the things that have lived there peacefully until now.
- Now that everything is sorted, go through that “for sale” pile and place stickers on them. (Put a sticker on anyone that tries to get in your way as well.) Whatever does not sell during the sale should then be donated to local charities in need.
- Sort all items that you plan to keep by their use. Create piles of like things (garden tools, etc.) as this will help you determine their importance and ultimate home in the garage.
- Now is the time for all organized men and women to go out and buy the tools they need. Often, this is done beforehand which leads to a waste of effort, products and time. Buy lots of hooks for the walls of the garage and use them to hang things like bikes, garden tools, sporting equipment, and even crazy Uncle Harry when he is not behaving as he should.
- On one wall, install some shelving. You can use actual bookcases or recycle old kitchen cabinets. You do want to have some type of storage unit with doors so that certain items can be kept out of reach. (Uncle Harry again.) Remember to use the lower shelves for those heavier items and put anything dangerous to children as high and far away from their curious reach as possible.
- Consider investing in a small shed for those larger and more valuable garage items like lawn mowers, snow blowers, yard equipment, power tools and the like. A shed is not only a secure structure, moving those bulky items into one will free up a lot more room for your car! (Not more clutter: your car!)
- Thoroughly sweep and clean the floor before putting things back inside the garage. Get rid of grease stains with some heavy-duty cleaners and a lot of elbow grease. Consider finishing the concrete with either an epoxy coating or flooring like tile or rubber matting.
- Organize items in order of their use and fill up that new shelving and/or cabinetry. Place toys within easy reach of children and adults still having trouble letting go. Keep your hand tools on a pegboard above a work surface.
- Sort seasonal items so that they are handy when needed; for example, skis within reach in winter and the rake in fall. Your goal is to set things up so that you are not constantly moving things around.
- Remember to store all flammable items, like painting supplies, in a flameproof cabinet. When storing paint, make sure you develop a labeling system. If you need to dry out paint in a can, fill it with kitty litter, which will absorb the extra paint and make it safe for disposal.
- Maintain what you have done by scheduling at least one weekend a year to keep up your hard work.
Whether you’re working on a home improvement project or a minor repair, sometimes knowing a few tips can save you time money and aggravation. Here are 33 different tips to help you get the job done:
Painting & Sanding
- To reduce dust while sanding joint compound and plaster, use a drywall wet sander. This tool is a sponge with two sides. You can use the coarse side to level ridges and the high spots. The fine side is perfect for smoothing.
- To open a window that is sealed with dry paint, use a sash knife. A hacksaw blade or a utility knife will also work.
- When sponging corners and along trim, cut off a small piece of a sponge to reach those tight spots. A small artist brush can then be used for touch up as needed.
- If considering a spray gun look for one that is comfortable to hold, doesn’t clog and puts out enough paint for the job you need done. It is also important to see what shape the gun’s mist comes out. This is called a pattern. Try to use a gun that is adjustable. A good spray gun may be expensive but can really speed up a job.
- To put a roll of sandpaper in a sander drum, tighten the nut squeezing the sides of the drum together. This will increase the diameter and keep the sandpaper from slipping off. To remove the paper, loosen the nut.
- You find copper pipe in the walls and you can not remove it since you want to run CPVC for the hot and cold water supply to your sink. There are special transition fittings available that can join CPVC to copper or brass. You can find them at a hardware store or your local home center.
- When plumbing use MAPP gas cylinders. They are a combination of propane and methylacetylenepropadiene. They come in a yellow cylinder and burn hotter and solders better than pure propane does.
- When you shut off the water, banging is caused by water pounding against a valve. This is called water hammer. To stop it you can get a water hammer arrester, which is a small pipe-like device that absorbs the shock.
- If a plunger is not available, try a plastic drain tool. It has barbs at one end which grab the clog and pull it out.
- After you use an auger, rinse it in warm water and spray with a lubricant. This will keep rust from forming.
Drywall & Spackling
- When cutting holes in drywall or cutting out a counter top, try high-speed cutting tools. They work quickly and are an alternative to the saber saw.
- Screws should be used when hanging a sheet of drywall. Drive the screw deep enough to create a dimple. Do not break the face paper or you will weaken the screws holding power. The dimple can then be filled with joint compound. A drywall gun is used by professional drywall installers to drive drywall screws. It is similar to a drill with a screwdriver but also has a clutch with an adjustable depth gauge. If you a drywalling an entire house consider a drywall gun.
- When dry walling a ceiling, rent a cradle. It will help you raise sheets of drywall into place quickly and safely. The cradle can lift as high as 11 feet. It is on casters and it can be rolled into position. Most lifts can hold a full 4×16 sheet of drywall and can even install drywall on slopped ceilings since it has a titling platform feature.
- Three different drywall knives are needed since you will put joint compound on in three coats. A 6-inch is used for the first coat, an 8-inch for the second and a 10 or 12 inch for the final coat. Before you begin, round the corners of the knives with a file so they will not dig into the drywall. There are specialty knives for inside and outside corners.
- To cut panels with a straight cut, guide a saw against a jig made from plywood. A 3 or 4 inch wide piece of plywood that is 3/4 inch thick is screwed to a wider piece. Before you trim the panel, trim the jig. Guide the saw against the narrow piece of plywood to cut off the wider piece. Align the cut edge of the jig with your layout line, clamp the jig to the panel and then make the cut.
- If you purchase a power miter saw, you must check the saw before you begin using it. Unplug it and remove the guards so you can get to the blades. The saw may have been misaligned during shipping. Put a speed square between the fence and the body of the saw blade. Push the saw down slightly so the square is not resting on any teeth. If you see a gap between the saw fence and the square the saw is out of alignment and must be adjusted. The owner’s manual will give directions on how to do this but it usually involves adjusting some screws.
Wood Working & Finish Carpentry
- To keep wood from splitting and stop the nail from bending over on floors, drill a pilot hole in the visible surface. For #6 finishing nails use a 3/32- inch drill bit. You can also use an extra nail by clipping off the head, popping it in your drill and then using it as you so a standard drill bit.
- Use a two bit drill when drilling holes and driving screws with the same drill. A magnetic socket that fits in your drill holds the screwdriver. The drill that comes with the multi-bit also has an end that fits the socket. You can change from screwdriver to drill by just popping one in and the other out.
- When installing door trim, rub lipstick against the point of the miter. The lipstick will make a mark where you need to cut when you put the leg against the miter.
- When using levels to take a reading make sure you are precise. Make sure the bubble is centered between the lines on the vial. Use a level which allows you to adjust the vials that hold the bubbles so you can keep the level true. Always use the longest level that will fit in your work space to get the most accurate reading.
- To simplify installing trim around cabinets use a pneumatic brad gun which shoots small nails. It does not slip or slide. To use, hold the trim in one hand and pull the trigger with the other. It uses large nails and is more powerful than a nail gun.
- When installing cabinets, countersink the screws used. There heads should be below the surface of the wood. You should also drill a pilot hole the same diameter as the screw so the screw will not split the mounting rail. You can use a combination bit, which will make both holes.
- When installing drywall, to lay out the hole for a switch or outlet, rub lipstick on the junction box. Then put the drywall in place and gently push in the general area of the junction box. On the back of the drywall you will find a bright mark showing the location of the box.
- When running cable in existing walls, flexible wire fish tape is essential. It comes on a reel and you feed the tape through the wall from the junction box to the receptacle box. You then attach the wire to the tape and pull the wire through.
- For small jobs, a simple continuity tester is good. But for larger jobs, a non-contact voltage detector or professional grade tool may be needed.
- A cable ripper can be used to strip cable that is already installed in a box. Practice using the tool on scrap cable first. You do not want the ripper to cut too deep or you will damage wire insulation.
Ladders & Ladder Safety
- If you need to rent a ladder, rent one that will reach where you need to reach. Use ladder stabilizers for extra stability and to prevent damage to the gutter system.
- If you are using two or more extension ladders, you can use ladder jacks instead of scaffolding. They allow you to work from wooden or aluminum planks.
- If you need scaffolding for a bigger project, you may want to use aluminum planking. This provides a less bouncy work platform. Scaffolding takes longer to set up but makes a very secure and stable work platform.
- If you are working around power lines or performing electrical repairs make sure you are using a fiberglass or wooden ladder.
- Be careful when working with ladders. The feet of the ladder should be placed away from the building at a distance equal to one-fourth the height of the ladder. The legs should always be on a level surface. Use wood shims to level out uneven surfaces.
- Use ladder boots or wrap cloth around the top of a ladder. This prevents damage to the siding and keeps the legs from slipping.
- To secure the base of a ladder when the surface slopes, place a 2×4 across the base and drive two 2×4 stakes into the ground.
Making home improvements not only beautifies your house but also adds to it’s value. However as homeowners become more environmentally conscious they look for ways to improve their homes and make them as “green” as possible. Here is a list of 21 home improvement tips for your home.
1. Consider installing solar panels. Although solar heating has been used to warm homes for thousands of years, solar panels are totally modern and very green. They have no moving parts; you sit them out in the sun, perhaps on your rooftop, hook up the wires and collect power without adding any fuel or replacing worn-out parts. (Too bad we can’t do that for our body parts when they get older and worn out!) If you decide to buy some, consider used ones as they are quite a bargain and even after as long as twenty years have been known to produce a good percentage of the power that was generated when they were brand new.
2. Replace all the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent ones. These energy-smart bulbs use 70-75% less energy than the incandescent kind and last up to ten times longer! For example, by using a 26-watt, compact fluorescent light bulb (equivalent to 100 watt incandescent), consumers can save up to $59 dollars on energy costs over the life of the bulb, which can be anywhere from five to seven years.
3. Roof improvements. Believe it or not, research indicates that roof color and the type of material used can help to lower attic temperatures. Light coloredtileroofsout perform the shingle ones when it comes to decreasing temperatures. If you are thinking about re-roofing your home, consider white tile, which has properties that will help reduce heat gain to your attic.
4. Install a motion detector outside home to replace your outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights left on all night waste energy and disturb wildlife. Light fixtures activated by motion sensors or a timer will keep area well lit and save energy and money to boot.
5. Don’t waste water. Check your home carefully for leaky faucets and get them repaired as quickly as possible. Use cold water when laundering clothes and adjust your clean threshold if you possibly can. Those jeans of yours can probably be worn a few more times than usual before washing them, and can’t that towel be dried off at least one more time before throwing it in the hamper? Make saving water a family affair. Set a good example by teaching your children how to turn off the water while they brush their teeth or take a quick shower.
6. Install low flow showerheads. They are a worthwhile investment (especially if you live in a rented space because you can take them with you). They cut down on water usage and save energy costs.
7. Create a compost pile in your backyard. Find a private spot in your yard to make a compost pile. Mix food wastes with dirt and use a shovel to turn the pile over every week or so to give it some air. Turn throwaways like eggshells, coffee grounds and spoiled vegetables into soil and garbage into something useful. Avoid the temptation to plant rude neighbors and passersby in your compost pile. (This will ruin everything and turn it bitter. Besides, that is homicide and does little for the environment, save to reduce it by one person!)
8. Install an aluminum-clad storm door. This type of door is energy-efficient and will help to insulate the entryway of your home.
9. Some considerations when heating and cooling our homes: Invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system that is Energy Star certified and install it in your home. This will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. It will also shave your utility bill enough to make you smile reasonably broadly. Look for a product with a higher SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio). This means that the product in question meets strict government criteria necessary to be deemed “energy efficient.” The standard is 13 SEER, but many heating and air conditioning products have a rating as high as 18 SEER.
10. Clean out your air conditioner filters or replace them regularly. A dirty filter will hamper the airflow, costing you more to run your system. When not at home, adjust the thermostat to accommodate the changing temperatures outside.
11. Consider investing in and installing an automated thermostat. High tech thermostats are well worth the cost, and what you spend, you will get back over time in lower energy bills. It is estimated that you can save about 3% of your heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat during the winter and up to 6% for every degree you raise it during the summer.
12. Install glass doors for your fireplace. Glass doors are safer than fireplace screens. They also reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the chimney from your home. Use your fireplace for special occasions only as it sends precious heated air right up the chimney (or out the door, if you prefer that phrasing).
13. Use power strips for your home computers. Even after you turn off your computer, power continues to flow to peripherals like printers and scanners. Power strips prevent the energy from being wasted and only cost about thirty dollars.
14. Install more fans in your home. Exhaust fans serve a very specific purpose. They can pull unwanted heat and humidity from bathroom and kitchen spaces during the summer months. Ceiling fans can help reduce your family’s dependence on air conditioning during the summer and they are also helpful in the winter as they can push heat down from the ceiling.
15. Do an “energy audit” in your home and make a list of what needs to be done to get things up to “green par.” Take that list to your online supplier or local hardware store and enlist their help in buying needed supplies. Plan the project as a family affair.
16.Insulate your home. Doors and windows are two of the most obvious areas of concern when it comes to home energy conservation. Use weather-stripping. Once air leaks have been detected, doors and windows are usually the first areas that need attention.
17. Seal off unexpected trouble spots. Sometimes the less obvious spots in your home can be a source of energy loss and you will need to be thorough in order to seek out and destroy them! Check out the areas around light switches and electrical outlets.
18. Live by the code of the 3 Rs: Refuse, Reuse and Recycle. Keep these three things in mind whenever you buy, use or discard anything. (If relatives and in-laws don’t live up this standard, the next course of action can only be up to you.)
19. Stop a leak. Organize a “stop a leak day” on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks or does whatever else is necessary to make your home as “watertight” as possible.
20. Add insulation to your hot water heater. Don’t forget that the standard water heater found in most homes is on all the time. Adding some extra insulation will save more energy than you would think and knock up to 15% off the costs of heating water.
21. Consider window tinting to reduce the glare of the sun. This has several beneficial and energy-saving effects. First of all, it will reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Tinting will also eliminate up to 99% of damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce the fading of your fine fabrics and furnishings. So what are you waiting for? Let the sunshine in!
It’s that time of year again! Gear up for yard work this season with some great new tools. If you’re sick of dealing with gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, check out our selection of gas-free cordless lawn and garden supplies. Whether you’re searching for a cordless mower or hedge trimmer, we have just what you need to get the job done this season. We carry supplies from Worx, Black & Decker, Hitachi and much more!
In need of quality saw blades at a fantastic price? Check out our Ox® Blades sale: buy three Ox® blades and get a fourth one free! These quality, high-performing and affordable diamond saw blades are designed with American, German and other European technology. Capable of lasting longer than competing blades, Ox® offers multiple blade types to easily cut a variety of materials. Slicing metal, glass tile, granite, concrete, stone and more is a cinch with these blades. So get in on the savings and check out our Ox® blade selection.
March marks workplace eye health and safety month, making this the perfect opportunity to assess how well you are protecting your eyes each time you work. Admittedly, it can be a hassle to make sure you’re always being safe, especially if you are busy or are always on the go. But it’s crucial to be careful and take the proper precautions. Many injuries are preventable if you just pay attention to what you are doing and wear the appropriate safety gear. What should you do specifically to maximize safety on the job?
Never underestimate just how effective being careful can be. If you consistently pay attention to your surroundings, equipment, tools and the task you are performing, you will avoid injury. This doesn’t mean you have to work painstakingly slow. It just means you should take the time to watch what you are doing. Instead of zipping through a task quickly, take a few extra seconds to complete it. Watch what you are doing and where your hands are, make sure you are standing away from any potentially dangerous spots, etc. The extra couple of seconds you take to do this is totally worth it if it means avoiding a serious injury. Sure, it can take a bit longer to finish a task, but it’s only several seconds. And no task is worth completing quickly if it means injuring your eyes or harming your sight.
Wear Safety Glasses or Goggles
Even if you don’t perform heavy duty projects, safety glasses and goggles are still necessary to protect your eyes from the debris that often flies around your face as you work. According to Prevent Blindness America, the most common causes of eye injuries include flying objects, tools and particles, all of which you can encounter either on the job site or at home. Whether you are completing a woodworking project or operating a power saw, you should have a pair on at all times. If you work around flying particles and objects, safety glasses are the way to go. They are comfortable to wear, and easy to put on and remove, and a similar feeling to wearing eye glasses. If you are working with chemicals, goggles are a good option. They have a band that fits snugly around your head, preventing chemicals from irritating your eyes.
Make it a point to always be careful and wear eye protection. It can be a hassle, especially if you are busy, but it’s worth it. It only takes a few seconds–sometimes even less–for an eye injury to occur.