Save Time, Save Money, Save the Environment

Recycled tires offer an alternative to wood mulch

You might think the only way to recycle old tires is to fasten a rope or chain to them and hang them from a tree. In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to breaking down and re-using tires in a variety of products.

Ironically, one of the most popular uses for recycled tires is as an alternative to traditional, organic mulch. Liberty Tire Recycling, responsible for recycling approximately one third of America’s discarded tires — turning 130 million tires a year into 1.5 billion pounds of rubber to be used for “innovative, eco-friendly products.”

Rubber mulch from discarded tires has several advantages over traditional mulch:

  • Longer lasting— regular organic mulch generally needs to be refreshed and/or replaced once a year or more.
  • More cost-effective— although per cubic foot more expensive, because rubber mulch lasts so much longer (some products claim to last more than a decade), it works out to be easier on the wallet.
  • Less labor-intensive— rather than re-mulching and over-mulching every season or every year, rubber mulch requires much less maintenance.
  • More green— store-bought mulch is made from trees cut down just for that purpose; using rubber mulch not only keeps tons of scrap tires out of landfills, it also conserves the environment by offering an alternative to tree-based mulch.

For more information on rubber mulch, try these resources:

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Garage Floor Solutions

3 Ideas for Updating Your Garage Floor

For many homeowners, the garage is not just for cars anymore. Garages are being repurposed to function as workshops, dens, home offices, supplemental storage space and more.

For most any purpose, however, the original garage floor is most likely not going to suffice.

Check out these three options for transforming you ordinary garage floor.

  • Epoxy Coating — One of the most popular choices is an epoxy finish. It is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project, requiring only a dry, clean surface with no cracks. Just like paint, you can roll the epoxy finish onto the floor. DoItYourself.com has more information on epoxy finishes, preparation (also see this article from the Washington Post) and installation.
  • Interlocking Garage Mats — Even easier to install than epoxy covering, interlocking plastic mats are placed on top of your current floor — cracks and unevenness are not an issue. Depending on the mats you select, these can provide fatigue cushioning, as well as insulation from cold concrete in winter temperatures. For more, visit DoItYourself.com.
  • Concrete Stain or Dye— While upgrading the look of an existing concrete floor with stain or dye is not a project for the average handyman (though DIYNetwork.com offers these instructions), the results can be stunning. Staining generally allows for a more narrow color choice than dying your concrete floor. ConcreteIdeas.com has more information.

Whether you are looking to make your floor less slippery, more comfortable, easier to clean, or simply more attractive, any of these garage flooring solutions will make a noticeable difference in your garage.

Photo from Garage Floor Covering.

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Too Small, Too Big, Too Windy, Too Sunny, Too Shady?

Solutions to Common Landscaping Challenges

Whether you’re a glass half-empty or a glass half-full homeowner, chances are your outdoor space is not exactly what you wish it were. Landscape experts, however, know how to turn challenges into triumphs.

LandscapingNetwork.com has resources for almost every landscaping challenge out there.

In this featured garden from LandscapingNetwork, a California landscaper plants not only horizontally, but vertically as well, to expand the visual impact of the plantings.

To maximize small landscape spaces:

  • Plan for multiple focal points— in a small space, there are often no sweeping vistas, nor is there space to make one grand statement. Turn that to your advantage by planning a variety of small “surprises” in your garden, creating multiple places for the eye to stop and savor.
  • Go luxe. — Another advantage to small spaces? Not a lot of materials required, which makes it much easier to splurge on high-quality items. Tile the small patio with gorgeous marble. Place a single beautiful wrought iron bench in a nook. Line the short winding path with sea glass pebbles. In a small space, large gestures are more affordable — and they have a greater impact.

 To make the most of your shady yard:

  • The illusion of sun dappled plantings— plant perennials with natural green and yellow coloring. Landscape pros rely on this sleight of hand (or color) to make areas of the yard appear to be catching bits of sunlight.
  • Know your perennials — there are plenty of eye-catching flowers and shrubs that thrive in shady rather than sunny conditions. Use them lavishly to bring color and variety to your shaded yard.

For more tips, ideas and designs, see Expert Solutions for Solving Typical Yard and Landscape Challenges on LandscapingNetwork.com.

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Unusual Solutions to Simple Problems

6 Creative Ways to Address Common Home Challenges

From insufficient table space to insufficient shelf space, from ugly floor gouges to slamming windows, from mildly annoying to incredibly irritating, every homeowner complaint has a solution, and often more than one. Try these five ideas from Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and House Beautiful to resolve or even anticipate issues in your home.

From Martha Stewart Living

  • Window Prop Stick— an easy DIY project to create a “stepped window prop stick” that will keep your window securely open at various heights; especially useful during the summer months.
  •  Make Your Own Outdoor Furniture — learn how to convert a cot into an outdoor daybed or create super easy bases for tiki or solar torches to light up your yard. For more ways to make your own outdoor furniture, click here.

From House Beautiful

  • Protect your floors — easier to manage and more secure than felt pads, “Plasti Dip” from the hardware stores is perfect to coat the bottom of your furniture’s legs and bases. For more creative uses for common hardware store items, click here.
  • Add surface space — whether for one night of entertaining, or for the long haul, you can never have enough occasional tables; try placing a tray on a footstool, or topping a sturdy vase with a large paver stone or tile. For more ways to transform your room with accessories, click here.

From Real Simple

  • Easy Kitchen Shelving — out of space for all your cookbooks? Looking for a spot for your summer picnic supplies? Need a shelf for your potted herb garden? With a few plank shelves from the local lumber store and a ladder, you can add shelving in less than an hour.
  • Clever Wall Shelves — bringing a new meaning to “bookshelf,” follow these steps to make your own shelves out of old hard backs.

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Kid-Friendly, Handyman Approved

3 Tips on Including Children in This Summer’s Home Improvement Projects

Summer’s here, school’s out and the kids need something to do.

As you contemplate your summer to-do list, from re-organizing the garage to finally fixing that hanging cabinet door, consider inviting your kids to help you. Few things are as satisfying as working with your child (or parent) and seeing the fruits of your labor.

Erika Riggs, from Zillow.com Blog, offers a few tips on how to include your children and keep them interested and safe:

  • Ask for their opinion(such as paint color or flower type) and really listen to it
  •  Stock up on kid-sized toolsthat will fit their hands
  • Create side projects— if your child is too young to actually wield a hammer, let them work with a kid hammer and some wood next to you as you tackle your project

Check out local kids’ programs for building and crafts — The Home Depot offers a series of kids’ workshops. This August, participating stores are running a workshop on “Making Pencil Box Holders.” For more information, visit The Home Depot’s Home Improver Club site.

Home Owner Net breaks down, into four steps, how you can involve your child:

  1. Design and planning — take advantage of your child’s unfettered imagination.
  2. Painting — what kid doesn’t love to paint? Put down enough protection so you don’t have to worry about making a mess.
  3. Installing — a great opportunity to show your child the answer to “why does it do that?”
  4. Building — nothing feels better than making something out of nothing. Share the joy with your child.

For more kid-friendly summer projects, visit Squidoo’s Summer Projects To Keep Your Kids From Being Bored.

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Home Improvement Small Screen Style

TV Shows Are A Great Resource for Ideas, Tips, Tricks and How-To’s

 

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by too many ideas for improving your home or at a loss for what to do next, there’s a TV show to help you out.

 

From painting techniques to outdoor design, home improvement TV shows have it covered. Korina Rossi, the “Top 10 Guru” for Catalogs.com lists these shows among her Top 10 Home Improvement Shows:

 

Holmes on Homes

What happens when a professional contractor uncovers sloppy, dangerous and even illegal home renovations? Watch Mike Holmes tear it down and Make it Right® in this gritty award-winning television series.

 

The Woodwright’s Shop

Using only vintage, muscle-powered tools, Roy shows how to make wonderful woodcraft while making a healthier planet and a healthier you! It’s historic, it’s green and it’s steampunk too!

 

 

 

Disaster DIY

A show about Do-It-Yourself-ers who have failed at their own home renovations, and are in desperate need of some on the job training. Host and contractor Bryan Baeumler arrives to save them from a reno disaster and teach them how to fix it.

 

For more home improvement show suggestions, see the full list here.

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Easy Seasonal Updates for Your Home

Simple Solutions for Stunning Winter to Summer Transition

 

The décor that makes your home cozy and warm in the winter can make it seem hot and stuffy in the summer. Spending thousands of dollars on new furniture and figuring out something to do with your current furniture is not your only option.

Paint

      the decorator’s favorite, fastest and easiest way to change the mood of a room. Transform your cozy den to an airy retreat by painting your brown walls apple green.

      If painting a whole room seems daunting, try this trick from the experts: paint the room a neutral cream or white and choose one wall – a “feature wall” that will bring spring, summer or any season indoors with color.

 

Slip covers

      if your couches and chairs are covered in a sturdy, comfy dark fabric, tossing a white or bright duck-cloth slip cover on top will instantly lighten and brighten your room. There are many brands of “instant” slip-covers available on shopping sites such as Amazon.com, Target.com and Overstock.com.

      Depending on the piece, sometimes a plain white sheet can be imaginatively tucked and draped to serve as a slip-cover for a few months before being retired to its place in the linen closet.

 

For more seasonal transition decorating tips, check out these resources:

      Real Simple’s Guide to Low-Cost Home Upgrades

      House Beautiful’s Simple Summer Decorating Ideas

      CasaSugar’s Summer Decorating Ideas

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