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Tackle your DIY projects with these 3...

(BPT) - DIY projects are surging in popularity right now and it’s easy to see why. A successful DIY project can fix a problem or make a much-needed improvement to your home, while also providing you with the satisfaction of a job well done. Best of all, it allows you to save money over hiring a professional contractor to do the work.

But is it possible to conquer several DIY projects in a short period of time? Sure, you just need the right multipurpose tools for the job. Below are three tools you can pick up at any hardware store, and each will allow you to tackle a slew of projects with just one purchase, making each tool the perfect project time saver.

Add these three multipurpose tools to your lineup today:

Multipurpose tool 1: Stain

A staining project is an easy, cost-effective way to completely recreate a look in your home. You may purchase one color of stain or several, depending on how many staining projects you plan to do and the proximity of your projects in your home. When you purchase your stain, you can use it to:

* Stain your front door. Your front door is a focal point in your home and staining it gives the face of your home a completely new look.

* Stain your wood floors. Darker floors are growing in popularity and a fresh coat of stain can give your home that look without an expensive replacement.

* Stain a table or other piece of furniture. Whether you want it to be an accent piece in your room or you'd like it to match your new décor, a fresh coat of stain saves you from having to replace a cherished piece.

Multipurpose tool 2: GREAT STUFF(TM) Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant

Sealing the gaps and cracks around your home will save you money by making your home more energy efficient, while also increasing your home’s comfort. In fact, one can of GREAT STUFF(TM) has a multitude of uses in and around the home, including:

* Seal gaps and cracks around attic doors. This will prevent your home’s heat from escaping during the winter and will better control the temperature in your home.

* Seal areas around vents and duct work. In addition to helping better regulate the temperature in your home, these projects can also ward off pests and vermin that are looking for warmer temperatures inside.

* Tackle other jobs as well. The capabilities of GREAT STUFF™ Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant apply to projects outside the home as well, so whether you have a project in mind or one arises along your journey, it’s always handy to have a can on hand.

Multipurpose tool 3: Degreaser

If you have a heavy duty cleaning project to tackle in your home, a good degreaser can help. Degreasers dissolve water-insoluble substances and they can help you:

* Clean stainless steel and appliances. Grease and oil collect naturally in any kitchen and their particles can linger on kitchen equipment. Applying degreaser can remove them quickly and cleanly.

* Remove adhesives. Whether the sticker was supposed to go there, it was an accident or the subject of child’s whim, applying degreaser can clean the spot good as new.

* Eliminate heavy buildup around bike chains and engine parts. Buildup is a natural product of use, but it also jeopardizes efficiency. Apply degreaser to these areas to have your favorite objects running like new.

Your mind is already full of DIY projects you’d love to tackle, you just need to find the time to do them. Efficiency is key and the more projects you can tackle with one tool the better. Add these tools to your next home goods trip and you’ll have your DIY project start off on the right foot. To find more projects you can tackle with GREAT STUFF(TM) Multipurpose Black Insulating Foam Sealant, visit greatstuff.dow.com.



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Security in an insecure world

(BPT) - The year 2016 was devastating for some safe deposit box holders. In New York, thieves cut holes in the roofs of three banks and brazenly emptied hundreds of safe deposit boxes, leaving the victims' pillaged boxes on the roof and strewn around the vault.

A stealthier thief in Florida picked safe deposit boxes in several banks, emptying the contents without damaging the box or leaving any visible sign of the theft.

These are not isolated incidents. On average, there are between 15-18 robberies or burglaries involving bank vaults every year according to the FBI. Millions of dollars of jewelry, cash, gold and family heirlooms are stolen, leaving devastated box holders dealing with unrecoverable losses.

Still the safest

Despite these occurrences, law enforcement agencies, FEMA, the American Red Cross and AARP all recommend safe deposit boxes to store valuable items, heirlooms and documents. A safe deposit box in a vault is superior to home storage even with a safe. Why? Because a residence is almost 20 times more likely to be robbed than a safe deposit box in a bank. And with rental costs starting at around $30 a year, safe deposit boxes remain one of the best values offered by a financial institution.

Required step

Today, most people who rent a safe deposit box assume the bank or a federal agency insures the contents. This is not true, and unfortunately, too many people learn this the hard way.

A standard homeowners policy provides limited coverage for some items in a box, but excludes losses from flood and other risks. They may also have a high deductible.

Specialty insurance designed to cover and protect everything inside of a safe deposit box - including cash, gold and important papers such as wills, titles, deeds, photos and digital backups, is now available. There is no deductible, and risks such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and earthquakes are covered.

And because you do not need to identify what is stored inside the box to obtain coverage, you can maintain your privacy.

Protect yourself

Clearly, there are events that no vault or safe deposit box can protect against. However, there are steps you should take. Safe Deposit Box Insurance, LLC (SDBIC), the leader in protecting valuable assets in secure boxes, has developed a secure storage quiz on secure storage options.

So, despite there being some high-profile break-ins, a safe deposit box is still the best place to store your documents, family heirlooms and other valuables. But because nothing is 100 percent foolproof, it's important to do your research, select the right bank and insure the contents of your box through SDBIC.



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What you should know about rising interest rates

(BPT) - Homeowners planning to refinance and buyers searching for a home may have an idea of what’s in store for them with regards to interest rates, but they never really know until they lock in a rate. This is in part because rates can change direction fast, and when they rise—as they have been recently—it can cost borrowers a great deal of money and time.

The effect of rising interest rates on your home purchase

Today, the median existing home price in the United States is around $235,000, and the average mortgage interest rate is near 4 percent. If you were to buy a home at that price, an interest rate increase of half a percent would cost you an additional $70 per month on your loan payment. And that assumes you’ll put the standard 20 percent down in advance. A more dramatic rate increase—say from 4 percent to 6 percent, even over time, would increase your monthly payment by almost $300.

Home price gains

For homebuyers, it’s not just rising interest rates that can increase your payment, but so can home price appreciation. In fact, in most markets, housing prices have increased past highs previously set before the financial crisis in 2007/2008. For example, in citing this recovery, the Federal Housing Finance Agency recently increased the maximum loan amount for mortgages that meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines for the first time in more than a decade.

The new conforming loan limits increased only slightly, to $424,100 in most parts of the country. This will enable home buyers in higher-cost areas to access larger home loan amounts and more affordable loan products, in line with local housing prices.

The home buying season may start early this year

Spring/summer is traditionally the busiest home buying time of the year as many sellers wait to list their homes after the cold winter weather is over and to coincide with the summer school break. However, with both home prices and interest rates on the rise, more buyers are expected to enter the home buying market earlier this year, making for a more competitive home buying season. Potential buyers will need to be aggressive to find the home they want at a rate they can afford.

Starting your loan search today

If you're in the market but haven't found the home of your dreams yet, there are tools available to guard against increasing mortgage rates. Lenders like loanDepot help customers save by giving them the opportunity to lock a quoted rate and hold (lock in) that rate for 45 to 60 days, protecting them from potential fluctuations in the market. And with rates rising, now is a great time to lock your loan at a more favorable interest rate.

If you do choose to lock your loan, you'll need to provide an appraisal deposit which can range from $450 to $750. This is not a fee, and is returned when working with loanDepot if there is no appraisal performed on a home.

Navigating your options can seem confusing at first, but a loanDepot licensed lending officer can help. You can learn more by visiting loandepot.com or by calling (888) 983-3240 today for more information.



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The home design trend you need to know about

(BPT) - With the new year underway, the housing world is buzzing about the next transformative trend in home design and remodeling. This year it seems certain the growing trend of mixing and layering materials, something many designers and architects noticed was growing in popularity over the past few years, will dominate the remodeling and design scene.

When it comes to mixing materials, there’s no rule book; all you should do is find a combination to match your personality. This might be one of the biggest reasons why people have taken to mixing materials, as it truly allows you to create a home that is uniquely yours.

Bold and innovative

The most immediate effect of mixing materials is that it opens new possibilities and new ways of expression. An example of this can be likened to how hard stone surfaces in a room can be complemented by soft carpet and furniture, or how the highly textured wood on a ceiling can stand in stark contrast to polished stone. Some of the hottest looks today, such as the blending of unfinished industrial materials with modern floors and cabinets, would have been considered outlandish only a few years ago. Mixing materials gives you greater freedom to create a space that represents your style.

Style on a budget

Of all the rooms in a home, kitchens and bathrooms still get the most attention. Unfortunately, getting that dream kitchen or perfect bathroom isn’t always inexpensive.

For those who have uncompromising taste, but are on a budget, mixing materials is the ideal solution. For instance, say you had your heart set on a marble island and surrounding countertops, but just can’t afford marble. Instead, you can choose from a variety of Wilsonart(R) Quartz for the island. Engineered to showcase the erratic veins and patterns prized in marble, quartz also has the advantage of being non-porous, so it won’t stain and requires virtually no maintenance. A timeless look that continues to win the popularity contest are nature's neutrals in white, grey and black, offering flexibility to play with bold or demure colorful accents.

You can complement the quartz island by mixing in an even more affordable material like Wilsonart(R) Laminate for the perimeter countertops and vertical applications such as backsplashes and walls. With numerous styles to choose from, you’ll be able to create a stunning contrast and dimensionality that will make your room pop. With today's innovation in laminate manufacturing and fabrication, adding affordable luxury to your kitchen or bath has never been easier.

Utility meets style

Parents, in particular, face a constant dilemma: They want a home with rooms that can stand up to all the abuse toddlers and teenagers can throw at it, but still have it look good. The answer lies in Wilsonart(R) Solid Surface. This material is tough, non-porous, seamless and repairable without sacrificing beauty. With a wide variety of styles replicating stone, you can easily mix it with other material looks to make an intriguing statement.

To explore hundreds of options, visit www.wilsonart.com and start mixing materials to see what’s possible in your home.



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4 statement pieces to elevate your bathroom to...

(BPT) - Investing in a bathroom upgrade is in the cards for nearly a quarter of homeowners planning to renovate within the next 12 months, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com. Improving a bathroom is rewarding on multiple levels; if you’re selling, buyers love great bathrooms. If you’re staying, a luxurious bathroom can be a relaxing oasis where you’ll be happy to begin or end a busy day.

Your bathroom is also an expression of who you are, and it should reflect not only your needs but your unique artistic flare as well. What could be more satisfying than making an artistic statement in one of the most-used rooms in your home? If you’re planning a bathroom renovation, here are four ways to make a statement in the space — and elevate your bathroom to a work of art:

Choose a showpiece sink

Few design elements afford such a perfect opportunity for utility and artistry to blend beautifully as does the bathroom sink. A striking statement vessel in patterned porcelain or smoky glass can be a focal point for your vanity while still providing ample space for essential functioning.

It’s not difficult to find statement-style sinks, but to truly elevate the basin to a form of art, look for options that evoke the look and feel of the era when luxury items were handcrafted by learned artisans. Kohler, a trusted name in bathroom fixtures for more than 100 years, offers Kohler Artists Editions collections that turn everyday fixtures into striking statement pieces. Whether you choose the subtle, carved texture and the complex color transitions of the Derring collection, the organic beauty of the Nature’s Chemistry glass lavatories or the old-world stylings of the Sartorial Line, each piece is a unique statement of your personal artistry.

Stun with a standout shower

Most Americans spend six to 10 minutes or more in the shower each day, according to multiple surveys. But a shower is so much more than just a place to get clean. A shower can soothe at the end of a trying day, or invigorate your senses in preparation for a busy day ahead. Statement showers incorporate luxury features such as multiple shower heads, wall jets, hand showers, rainfall showerheads, seating, customized lighting and even sound and video.

While bigger may be better in a statement shower, it may not always be possible. Start with a glass enclosure that makes the shower feel open to the room. If your space is small, choose lighter-colored tile. Bigger showers can withstand darker tile work.

Create luxury with countertops

Options like granite, marble, concrete, limestone and other natural stones might be too costly for a kitchen, where you have a lot of counter space, but they’re a cost-effective way to make a statement in a bathroom where you have less square footage to cover. These high-end materials pair perfectly with statement sinks to create a unique, one-of-a-kind look. Upgrade bathroom countertops to your dream material and then add luxury touches like a matching backsplash or under-counter LED lighting.

Transformations with tubs

Tub options are virtually limitless these days, and you can find statement tubs in every size and style imaginable. The tub is often the essential element homeowners and designers first fall in love with, and the one that establishes the direction for their overall bathroom redesign.

Soaking tubs continue to be popular installations for bathroom renovations, according to the 2016 National Kitchen & Bath Association trend report. Whether you choose a traditional claw-foot design that evokes a bygone era, a concrete tub that creates a more modern or industrial look, or a porcelain confection with sweeping, graceful lines, you can find a statement tub to match your personal sense of artistry.

Renovating a bathroom is an investment well worth the time, money and passion — and it’s an opportunity to put your artistic mark on one of the most important rooms in any home.



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Buying your first home? Follow this New...

(BPT) - So buying a new home tops your list of New Year's resolutions. As you picture the big moment - the one where you pull up to your dream home in your moving truck, sprint up and unlock your front door - you probably understand there's something you need to do first. You need to get your finances in shape.

Just like those who make resolutions to run a marathon, making this big investment starts with a plan. Runners know that if they run a certain distance each day, it gets them closer to accomplishing their goal.

"The same is true, in many ways, when it comes to buying a home," says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. "Before taking on a loan, many home buyers find they need to build their 'financial muscles' and establish 'healthy' money habits."

By following a few tips to reach financial fitness goals, you, too can achieve the goal of home ownership.

Do those daily sprints

People who reach their fitness goals begin with a look at their current habits and then make a plan to replace them with better ones. The same is true for homebuyers. First, look at the spending choices you've been making, and review three to six months' worth of bank statements. Consider what is necessary and what needs to cut back. The goal is to trim the fat in your budget so you can use the extra money to reduce your debt and increase your savings.

Crunch your debt

Take a look at your debts and consider the monthly payments you make. Are there any debts standing in the way of making a house payment affordable? Those are the ones you want to knock out with an accelerated payment plan, using the money you freed up by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Try focusing on one debt at a time, paying close attention to the ones with the highest interest rates to pay off first.

Beef up your credit score

The good habits you exercise today will make all the difference on your interest rate later. Put in the extra work to raise your credit score. Your credit score pulls together many details from your past and current debts as well as other financial factors, and helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. Making the effort to raise your score is worthwhile because shaving off even one-quarter of a percentage point from a mortgage loan can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a 30-year mortgage. A credit score factors your history of on-time payments, the amount you owe on your debts, the type of credit you have, the age of that debt and any recently opened new credit lines as well as other factors. You may be able to improve your score and get the lowest possible interest rate on a home loan if you follow these "reps" every month: pay all your bills on time, don't close old credit card accounts and don't open new lines of credit.

Increase your intake of savings

Even when paying down debt, it's still a good idea to start a small savings plan so you have some cash to fall back on if, say, you need to go to the doctor or get new tires for your car. Start by opening a savings account and set up automatic transfers each month. Even with $50 a month, you'll have $600 in one year, which could bail you out of a number of small emergencies. Eventually, once your debts are paid off, you can divert those payments right into savings, which also can build your down payment for that new dream home

Prepare for the big event

All these steps lead to one main event: buying a home. Once you meet those smaller goals - following a budget, eliminating debt, raising your credit score, and saving for your down payment - you're ready for the final push toward home ownership.

First, figure out how much home you can afford: look at home prices in your area, use an online loan calculator to estimate your payments, and go through your budget. Then gather up the financial documents you'll need, including proof of employment, bank statements and tax statements. Finally, choose a lender that is right for you. Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. has many programs that can fit many kinds of buyers. Perhaps you're getting your first mortgage, have perfect credit, and in some cases, less-than-perfect credit. All loan programs are subject to credit approval and restrictions apply. Contact Vanderbilt for details. If you are interested in learning more about Vanderbilt, visit, http://www.vmfhomeloan.com. Vanderbilt is a Berkshire Hathaway national housing lender that has been in business for more than 40 years and has helped families just like yours find the right financing program.

"Following these habits can be challenging from a motivation standpoint," Hamilton says. "It takes patience, but once you've followed the steps to get financially healthy, it is a very rewarding experience."

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, ( http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/), AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.



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New neutrals dominate the color trends of 2017

(BPT) - From furniture to walls, new homes to remodels, cool grays have dominated home design palettes for the last five years. Look to 2017 to gently shake things up with a focus on fresh neutrals that bring warm and cool tones together to create versatile color with timeless appeal.

One of the most notable trends of the year is the transition of neutrals from monochrome gray to warmer hues, including complex taupe, beige, khaki and brown colors. These warmer tones create an inviting feeling, and while grays will continue to be popular, look for hybrid hues that blend the best of gray with warmer undertones for colors that are unique, yet familiar.

The perfect example of this trend is Poised Taupe (SW 6039), the Sherwin-Williams 2017 Color of the Year. Earthen brown combines with conservative gray resulting in a weathered, woodsy and complex neutral that fits well in virtually any room.

“Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of brown, taking a color to an entirely new level," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "Not cool or warm, nor gray or brown, Poised Taupe brings a sense of coziness and harmony that people are seeking.”

If you're looking to refresh your space with this new color trend, there are countless opportunities. Here are four stunning home decor themes using this up-and-coming color:

Cornflower hues

With its cool-yet-warm vibe, Poised Taupe is an ideal complement to cornflower hues. For example, when paired with the faded indigo of Stardew (SW 9138), it creates a charming palette ideal for French countryside aesthetics. This fun twist on a classic is sure to produce timeless results in the kitchen or living spaces.

Organic re-imagined

Create an updated nature-inspired palette in your home with citrus green, weathered bronze, mustard yellow and light, cool-toned blue paired with earthy neutrals like Poised Taupe. This contemporary organic look is perfectly re-imagined for the modern world with just the right amount of visual appeal.

Wine and taupe

Saturated color pairings that evoke deep moods are gaining popularity. Taking cues from baroque and romanticism designs, the Sherwin-Williams Noir palette is rich with colors that are reminiscent of vine-ripe fruits, dramatic wine colors and deep blues. Balance this mysterious palette with a neutral like Poised Taupe and you'll have a look that is unexpected and gorgeous.

Yellow pop

Gray tones always provide a clean, modern base, but contrasting these hues with vivid colors allows you to transform any room into a contemporary paradise. Try using the deep teal of Marea Baja (SW 9185) and sunny hued Bee (SW 6683) alongside Poised Taupe to create a graphic look perfect for the office or kids rooms.

Ready to make this the year you update your house with fresh designs and stunning colors? To learn more about top trends for 2017, visit www.sherwin-williams.com.



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Bathroom renovations even the pickiest in-laws...

(BPT) - While the approach of the holidays has many people focused on gift lists and celebrations, you’re thinking about the guest bathroom. More specifically, you’re thinking about your mother-in-law’s commentary on the dripping showerhead, your brother-in-law’s judgment of the archaic toilet that uses gallons of water per flush, and your sister-in-law’s reaction to the total lack of natural light.

Renovating a bathroom is almost always a good investment. Making bathroom upgrades that will not only improve the value of your home and your enjoyment of it, but also satisfy the most discerning guests, is a win-win for everyone. While bathroom refurbishment makes sense at any time of year, you may be inspired to get the work done now, before holiday guests arrive.

Here are tips for where to focus your efforts to ensure you’ll get the best return on your investment — and your in-laws will love what you’ve done with the room:

Make necessity meet luxury

Sinks and toilets are bathroom necessities, but they can also be eco-friendly luxurious design statements, too. Replacing an ordinary, older, gallon-guzzling commode with an option that combines toilet and personal cleansing functions can conserve water while elevating the comfort, beauty and luxury experience of the fixture.

Options like the Washlet G400 from TOTO integrate a low-flush, high-performance toilet with the convenience and personal care of a Washlet. Its 3D Tornado Flushing system uses an ultra-efficient 1.28 or 0.9 gallons per flush, while a special ion barrier glaze minimizes debris and mold to keep the toilet cleaner, longer. Auto open/close, auto flush, remote control operation, front and rear warm water cleansing with adjustable temperature and pressure control, air deodorizer and dryer functions and user memory ensure the Washlet offers the kind of luxurious touches every guest will remember and adore.

The sink can also be a design statement steeped in luxury, when you replace older, ordinary models with sleek modern options like the Arvina Round Vessel Lavatory. Its round design not only gives the lavatory a clean, uncomplicated look that works with modern and traditional styles, it also saves space, making it perfect for guest baths or powder rooms where space is at a premium. Or, use it to maximize vanity space in a master bathroom.

Turn the shower into an oasis

Regardless of your budget for upgrading a shower, a few luxurious touches can go a long way toward turning an everyday bathroom element into an exceptional experience. Once you’ve taken care of basics, such as replacing or improving tired tile or an outdated surround, incorporate luxurious elements like a rainfall shower head or multi-spray hand shower. With multiple style options available to mount overhead or on the wall, it’s possible to create a unique shower configuration that complements any aesthetic.

Simple, thoughtful touches can elevate the shower’s luxury, too. For example, incorporating storage for shower necessities like shampoo, body wash, soap and razors is both practical and luxurious. It’s easy to have a built-in storage recess added to the shower during re-tiling, or you can add ceramic tile shelving in the corner of the shower. A curved shower rod is a must — and a super-easy DIY project — for bathrooms with a tub and shower combination. The curved rod ensures no guest will every wrestle with a shower curtain mid-spray.

Light! Sound! Luxury!

A dearth of natural light is a common problem in powder rooms and guest baths, and many master bathrooms could benefit from more light. Adding a skylight is a cost-effective way to incorporate more invigorating, healthful natural light in a bathroom, while protecting privacy, boosting energy efficiency and improving air quality. Even if a bathroom doesn’t have direct roof access, it’s possible to install a skylight; tubular models use reflective tubes to direct light from the roof down into the room.

Adding sound and entertainment options to bathrooms is also a growing trend. Whether you opt to add a mirror with an integrated TV or sound speakers above the shower, incorporating entertainment options into a bathroom is the perfect blend of luxury and practicality.



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3 ways to turn discarded wood into beautiful...

(BPT) - The saying, “what’s old is new again” has been around for years, but most recently represents a popular trend in interior design — upcycling old items with a new purpose. Everyone from high-end designers to DIYers are enjoying and incorporating this trend into their everyday life. From five-star restaurants to suburban living rooms, people are seeking out weathered pieces of wood, discarded metal and unlikely antiques to create a unique, down to earth, and comfortable design aesthetic in their living spaces.

An unusual hero of this new design trend is the wooden pallet, which can easily be purchased at any hardware store. With some creativity and know how, these inexpensive items can be re-purposed to create a personalized statement in your home that you'll love.

Re-imagine your wall

Today, walls are for paint and pictures, but even if you’ve fallen in love with a certain color for your living room, don’t you think your walls can have more personality? They absolutely can, and one way people are adding new life to their walls is by paneling them with reclaimed wood. To achieve this look, purchase a number of pallets, cut them into various sizes and arrange them on your wall.

To enhance the natural beauty of the wood and to show off your own personal style, pick a few of your favorite stain colors and apply them to the wood. If you are looking for bright and bold colors or subtle cottage inspired tones, check out Minwax(R) Water Based Wood Stains. For traditional, rich wood tones, try Minwax(R) Wood Finish(TM). It’s a deep penetrating stain that offers an array of colors, so you can create a display of contrast and patterns on your walls that can be truly stunning. After staining your wood pallet, don’t forget to protect it with a clear protective finish.

Create a fun and functional piece

If you’re someone who is always looking to free up cabinet or counter space, use a wooden pallet to create a rustic mug holder. For this project, all you need to do is add hooks to a few of the wood slats for the mugs to hang from. Get creative with this pallet by painting a design or phrase such as “But First, Coffee” on the top wooden slat.

You can add some dimension to wood by staining it with Minwax(R) Wood Finishing Cloths(TM). These convenient one-step cloths are pre-moistened with stain and finish allowing for easy application and clean up. They’re available in five beautiful colors from Natural Oak to Dark Mahogany, allowing you to achieve that rustic feel.

Update your headboard

If you are looking to give your bedroom a makeover, consider building a headboard for your bed out of pallet wood.

The idea here isn’t to make an even, straight-edged piece; rather it's to embrace a more rustic style.

Start by gathering your wood pallets and applying Minwax(R) Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to prepare the bare wood surface for staining. It will help to prevent streaks and blotches by allowing for even stain absorption. Once the wood has been prepared, apply your favorite stain color. With over 100 colors to choose from, you are sure to find a color that will showcase your personal style.

Using different lengths and widths, arrange the boards so they span the width of your bed. Attach a few long pieces across the back to serve as crossbeams that hold it together. The variation in sizes will create a jagged top and make a big statement.

These are just a few of the many possibilities you can create with pallet wood. From wall décor to nightstands and tables, all you need is some wooden pallets, stain, clear protective finish and a little creativity, and you'll be able to integrate this design trend into your home!



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4 tips to help keep your home warm, comfortable...

(BPT) - With winter comes the holiday season, a time that’s supposed to be associated with “comfort and joy.” But how joyful will it be if pests invade your house, or if your home is cold and drafty? Help stay warm all winter long by addressing factors like air leaks from gaps and cracks that can make your home feel uncomfortable.

“Drafts and heat loss are common problems in the winter, and they affect homes of every age, size and construction,” says Gary Parsons, fellow at The Dow Chemical Company. “Those factors can seriously affect your home’s energy efficiency and how comfortable it feels. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to deal with issues like air leaks and insulation, and doing so can significantly improve your home’s function and livability.”

Parsons suggests these steps to help ensure a draft-free, pest-free and comfy home this winter season:

Seal cracks and gaps

Gaps and cracks throughout the home allow hot air to escape and cold air and pests to enter. Energy Star estimates that homes can have a half mile or more of cracks around doors, windows and sill plates alone, and those aren’t the only places in a home where gaps can exist. Air duct joints, points where piping enters a home, and anywhere wood meets concrete (such as around the foundation) are locations where cracks and gaps can occur.

Sealing cracks can help prevent air leakage, improve a home’s overall energy efficiency and block out pests and insects. In fact, homeowners can save an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling by air sealing their homes and adding insulation, according to Energy Star.

Even do-it-yourself novices can easily and quickly seal cracks and gaps in their homes. Products like GREAT STUFF(R) Gaps & Cracks and GREAT STUFF(R) Pestblock Insulating Foam Sealants are specially formulated to seal gaps and cracks, blocking out air, moisture and even pests. The ready-to-use insulating foam sealants can fill gaps up to 1 inch. When using the product, be sure to follow safety guidelines, including covering all skin, using gloves and safety goggles, and keeping the work area well ventilated.

Check insulation

Insulation is like a blanket that your home wears to help keep everyone inside warm and cozy. If your home doesn’t have the right amount or type of insulation for your climate, it can lose heat, energy efficiency and comfort. About 90 percent of existing homes don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Follow Energy Star’s guidelines for more information on how to check your insulation to see if your home could benefit from adding more.

Take care of the HVAC system

If your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system isn’t working as well as it could, you’re sacrificing comfort and increasing your energy bills. Make sure to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall to ensure they are operating efficiently.

Have the ducts inspected and seal any leaks. Be sure to change air filters regularly, per the system manufacturer’s recommendation for filter type and frequency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dirty air filters restrict airflow, making HVAC systems work harder and consume more energy to heat your home.

Don’t overlook little things

Things as simple as a forgotten window left cracked in summer months or neglecting to close the flue in your wood-burning fireplace can all affect the amount of heat and comfort that escape your home in the winter.

Before the weather turns very cold, make a sweep through your home and check for these minor but important points:

* Windows — Are all your windows closed? If you’ve recently sealed around windows, you probably opened them for ventilation. Double check to be sure you remembered to close them.

* Thermostat — Is yours properly programmed to optimize energy use by adjusting the temperature when you’re out of the house? Proper use of a programmable thermostat can cut energy bills by nearly $200 per year, according to Energy Star.

* Ceiling fans — you can use ceiling fans to supplement your furnace during the winter, but you have to remember to reverse the air flow. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the fan blades to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air down from the ceiling during winter.



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5 home-building secrets you should know

(BPT) - Thousands of Americans who are in the process of building their own home, or simply looking into it, are faced with hundreds of different questions. Granite or quartz countertops? Neutral or bold colors? Tile or hardwood flooring? And those questions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Being able to make these detailed choices is a big part of why you decided to build and design a custom home that will show off your unique style.

But as any professional builder will tell you, the secret to building a truly great house isn't what fixtures you choose or the type of crown molding you install. Rather, the most important components of a house are hidden behind the build.

The following five points represent some of the most important hidden aspects of any new home construction that will ensure your house retains its beauty for decades.

1. Proper insulation. No matter where you are in the country, it’s likely that the temperature outside will get too hot or too cold. In such situations you’ll rely on heating or air conditioning. Good insulation not only saves money, but keeps your furnace and AC units working longer and more effectively. In cold areas, proper insulation is key to preventing destructive ice dams from forming.

2. Subflooring. Whether you use hickory, maple or bamboo, everyone has their preference when it comes to flooring, but something that all flooring materials need is a solid subfloor. Like a box-spring for your mattress, AdvanTech(R) subflooring from Huber Engineered Woods provides a solid foundation that prevents sagging and squeaking, keeping your finished floor looking better, for longer.

3. A smart house. Just like our phones, cars and televisions have been radically changed by the digital revolution, so have our homes. Today's modern smart homes are designed to fit our digital lives. Some features to consider are a consul to place your WiFi router so you can set up the appliances and thermostat for wireless. That way you'll be able to access them from a tablet or phone. You might even want to install some USB outlets.

4. Modern kitchen solutions. Today it’s all about expansive, open-concept kitchens. With stone countertops and larger refrigerators, engineers have noticed the combination of heavy appliances and a larger floor surface area puts more stress on the finished floors. Installing AdvanTech subflooring creates a solid base for floorboards and heavy modern appliances to rest on, thus helping to prevent squeaky or uneven floors in your kitchen.

5. Choose the right exterior walls. The exterior “shells” of homes are being built tighter. In other words, new products and practices are being used to help reduce air leakage as part of the overall energy efficiency design. Next-generation exterior sheathing systems like ZIP System(R) sheathing and ZIP System(TM) tape have built-in water barriers and taped panel seams to create one continuous protective barrier underneath your finished exterior to help lock-out water and air.

If you haven’t already, talk with your builder about the hidden elements of your home, like AdvanTech subflooring, that will help your home stand up to the tests of everyday life. After all, this is the house you always envisioned, and behind the beautiful layout, you want to make sure you have a solid foundation and good bones to ensure lasting beauty and life.



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Articles last updated at Mar 22, 2017 18:20:10pm.
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