June 22, 2009

How To Give Your Home a Reworking in Just One Weekend

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In the world of do-it-yourself home improvements, there is a prevailing—and mistaken—notion that any task that has the potential to add a little value and charm to your home has to take more than a week, or a month! Resulting from a mix of factors, such as the general trepidation people experience when planning a new home improvement project and the general unawareness of certain technologies, tools, or chemicals that can make tasks infinitely easier, people that have the courage to tackle home improvement jobs on their own at home tend to exaggerate the amount of time they will take (and how much money will need to be invested, too). The reality is, however, that there are plenty of truly impactful home improvement jobs that will add real value and elegance to your home that need not take more than just one short weekend. Between getting off work on a Friday evening and a regular Sunday evening bedtime hour, lots of things can be accomplished!

The art of the weekend home improvement project is one of knowing how much to tackle: measurement and prudence is what it’s all about here. Though many people think that the only projects that have the potential to add value to their home are the ones that end up taking an eternity and buckets of cash, the truth is that there are lots of smaller, more superficial jobs that can fit the bill—and that are not as time-consuming or wallet-draining. From refinishing wood surfaces to adding a new coat of paint, to cleaning off old stain marks from driveways and sidewalks, to giving rooms a touch of style and definition with crown moldings, there’s plenty to be done in a relatively limited timeframe.

Getting rid of built up grit, grime, grout, and all the other nasty stuff that gathers in crevices throughout and around one’s home is a great weekend home improvement job—and one which will give your home renewed appeal (if you’re thinking of selling, do not let any prospects come visit till you’ve done so!). All you will need to do is rent (or buy, if you’re a serious do-it-yourselfer) a power washer and perhaps some chemical detergents (though many cleaning jobs can be done without such agents) and prepare for a few hours of trigger-happiness. For truly problematic areas where stains have built up over years and are the product of highly water-resistant materials (like car oils, grease, etc.) you might want to consider scrubbing with a powerful chemical agent first, letting this sit for several hours, and then going over the area with the power cleaner. One good chemical agent for such jobs is oxalic acid, which can be found at most hardware stores under the name “Wood bleach,” though if you ask a store clerk for oxalic acid they should be able to help you out. This stuff is good for getting rid of most stains that can be found on all sorts of surfaces, from concrete to wood and metal surfaces; it will remove stains from organic sources as well as rust, weathering and general exposure fade.

Simply giving an interior or exterior wall or two a new coat of paint can be a great weekend job. Any valuable home ought to have impeccable paint jobs, and to bring your home’s value up a notch you should make sure this is the case. Of course, a paint job implies more than just opening a can of paint and applying with a brush—there are preliminary procedures that need to be tended to in order for the paint job to come out right. First of all, if there are fungal or mold spots growing on your walls or ceilings, you will need to wipe these down with a cloth dampened with diluted bleach water: scrub away until the surface is free of these spots. Scraping and sanding (one or the other, depending on the surface, and oftentimes both) are key, and without them any paint job will chip and flake away in no time at all. Fill any cracks in the wall with plaster and then sand again. Don’t forget to lay down an application of primer, which, once dry, receives the paint directly on top of it. Remember to use painter’s tape where necessary to keep the definitions crisp and exact—an absolute must if you want these jobs to increase the value of your home, not depreciate it.

Finally, people can do a variety of crown molding installations with relatively little work, features that will give rooms a new flare and touch of elegance. Though not necessary in every room in a house, putting crown moldings in the living room, dining room, parlor, and bedrooms really helps to imbue a house with a higher degree of class and distinction, and this can translate into cold hard cash when estimating the value of your home. Today’s crown moldings are vastly easier to put in place than those of yesteryear: whereas previously this was a task only for the sagest and most talented do-it-yourselfers, today’s crown moldings are very easy to manipulate and just about anybody with half a brain can use them! This is because the materials many crown moldings are made out of today are much easier to manage, such as Styrofoam-based products. All you will need for the easiest (though by no means ugly) crown moldings is a caulk gun, and presto, it’s done! The definitions of the corners are already set, so you won’t have to do any fine detail work or sand anything down. There are even incredibly utile crown moldings that can conceal low voltage cables—a cosmetic feature that kills two birds with one stone.

Whatever you choose to do with your weekend home improvement project, just make sure you are not being too ambitious and that you have prepared well for it. Buy materials ahead of time so that you can use your time as efficiently and productively as possible.

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