15 December 2017
Wrap it Up—Organizing & Storing Your Holiday Decor
Holiday Organization

 

We all enjoy the lights, ornaments and merry decorations that brighten up our homes during the holidays...until it's time to take it all down and store it for next year.  Let's help you store those items with ease so next year you won't be wrestling with a ball of lights. 

Before you begin, examine your storage materials that you currently have on hand.  Make sure boxes still have secure bottoms and handles that are strong. Ensure that you have enough containers in case you have purchased new lights or have received ornaments as gifts.  The end of the year is a great time to pick up new containers and bins, but you can easily store your treasures with items you already have on hand.

The key to storing lights is all in the wrapping.  Start with a heavy piece of cardboard and slowly wrap each strand around it.  Each piece can be then slid into a box for storage.  Another idea is to wrap them around a heavy duty hanger.  When finished, they can be hung in a spare closet or rack in the attic.  If you have extension cords that need to be stored, inserting them into a paper towel tube is a great organizing trick.  If you have an extensive outdoor light collection, investing in a storage spool is an option.  Spools can hold up to 200 feet of lights and are easy to carry and unwind.  

 

A clever alternative to wrapping each ornament in tissue paper is found by nestling them in a cardboard divider.  If you don't want to invest in a pre-made container, you can easily make one by using larger plastic cups with cardboard dividers in a storage bin.  Smaller trinkets can be stored in egg cartons or clear shoe boxes.  As you put away your ornaments, examine them to make sure they are not broken and make repairs if necessary.   Now is also a good time to assess your collection and pare down or donate items you have not used in a while. 

 

                                 

Wreathes and garland present an interesting challenge in that there is never a box quite big enough to store them nicely.  Think vertically on this one and utilize a garment bag.  Attach the wreath or garland to a sturdy hanger and slip it into the bag.  DIY with a hanger poked through a garbage bag and cinch it tight at the bottom. 

 

                             

Although they come out of the box with ease, getting your artificial tree back in the box is often a wrestling match. Pinterest user Time with Thea used an old bed-sheet as a way to wrap it up neatly. Once in the sheet, it is secured by tying the ends together. For larger trees a pillow case can come in handy to hold the top portion.

Before you stash all your trimmings away, take a look at your storage area.   Make sure it is clean, free from any potential water damage and not in an area that heat may damage any of your decorations. Stack heavy boxes on the bottom and allow some room to maneuver items with ease.  If you have the space, storing items on the floor they are used on can save time and avoid injuries from carrying boxes up and down stairs. 
 

 

Congrats!   You are all set for next year.  Reward yourself with a hot chocolate and don't skimp on the marshmallows.  

04 December 2017
An Individualized Touch That Can’t Be Purchased Online!
An Individualized Touch That Can’t Be Purchased Online!

The hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holiday season is upon us—the endless lists of things to do and limited amount of time to complete them.  Many of us seek the internet to solve our problems by saving time and money, but what you aren’t purchasing is an individualized touch.   

Throughout my experiences as the office manager, I have seen too many times a customer walk through our door needing assistance with a garage door or operator part.  They had purchased the part online that was listed on Amazon or Ebay to name a few common sites.  This seemed to be their “jackpot.”  Pay for the part online and have it shipped directly to them within 24 hours.  SOLD!    Only to receive the part and deal with the disappointment and frustration that it does not work.  Now what?  It’s not like you can call the internet and talk to a person to help you.

 

This is where we have an advantage over an online store.  The office staff can help you diagnose the problem and supply you with the correct part.  Garage door operator technology has changed so much in the past twenty years.  Manufacturers discontinue parts or replace them with universal models that accommodate many products.  The next time that you need help with a part, instead of reaching out to Google, call me directly at 610-398-2430, extension 115 or stop by the showroom location.  The staff is always available to offer you the “Gift of Giving.”

 

Happy Holidays, 

 

Shannon Seng

Office Manager 

 

15 November 2017
Chilly Air, We Don't Care: Tips to keep your home warm this winter.
Chilly Air, We Don't Care: Tips to keep your home warm this winter.

Bundle up!  Right now, many of us are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the colder weather ahead.   Winter clothes are coming out of storage, heavier blankets are on our beds and hot cocoa packets are at the ready to warm us up.  Besides keeping ourselves warm, now is the time to make sure our homes are ready for those blasts of cold air.  Let's take a look at your doors and windows and help you make practical fixes to areas that may be letting old man winter in.

Begin by working from the outside in to address areas that may be letting cold air through. 

Check the caulk around windows and doors.   Over time, caulk can wear and peel away leaving small gaps.  As a part of your Fall maintenance, inspect the caulk and replace it or add a new line to repair it. 

The North face of your home could benefit from wind blocking features.  A decorative fence panel or tall dense shrubs are excellent at deflecting colder air gusts.  If changing some landscaping is on the docket for next spring, perhaps consider planting a tree in that area.

 

 Functional shutters for your windows can benefit you all year round.  Consider the hardworking Bermuda style, which can protect against the rain and wind in winter and provide shade and allow a cool breeze in summer. The addition of an awning can also assist in deflecting winter gusts.

 

Moving on to your entryway, let's inspect the following areas of your door for problem spots. 

 

Examine your weather stripping, door sweep and threshold for signs of wear or damage.  Your local hardware store can provide new materials, such as foam adhesive strips, that are easily installed and cost effective.  Door snakes are another functional, decorative way to block drafts from doors that may not see much use, but still allow a bit of cold air to enter the home, like the basement door.

 

Most drafts are seen around your windows, but preventing them is easy by trying these simple solutions. 

Layering your windows with blinds or shades and then a heavier drape is an effective way to keep rooms warmer.  Velvet fabric is a smart choice to use in the winter months.  Cotton or linen fabrics with the addition of a lining can also provide an efficient barrier against the wind.  

Products like weather stripping and caulk can help create a tight seal between the window and frame. Always inspect and clean the areas to insure a smooth, effective application.  

Film insulation kits are easy to use and only require a few additional tools.  Kits come with special two- sided tape and a plastic film that covers the window frame creating an airtight seal.  This method works well on all shapes and sizes.  When winter is over, the plastic film and tape are easy to remove so you can start to enjoy those spring breezes.

 

 

If the above solutions have not stopped the drafty areas, then perhaps it's time to consider replacement.  Our staff is on hand to discuss door and window options that fit into your budget. We want to help you and your home stay warm this winter season.

20 September 2017
Window Woes and DIY Solutions
DIY projects to fix your windows

 As a home owner we can all appreciate a repair that we can tackle ourselves.  Besides saving a bit of money, there is a personal satisfaction in looking back at the repair and saying “I did it myself”.  This guide aims to address several common window woes and arm you with clear instructions plus a materials list so you go in prepared.  With any repair, know your own DIY comfort level.  When in doubt, seek a professional's advice.  


Removing Residue

Materials: Single edge razor blade, Goo Gone/Lift Off, Rags, Work Gloves

Step 1: Wearing work gloves, use your razor blade to gently loosen as much of the residue as possible.  Keep the blade clean by wiping occasionally with a rag, if necessary change the blade if it becomes dull.

Step 2: Apply a thin layer of residue remover like Goo Gone or Lift Off with a rag. These mixtures are often citrus based and are non-abrasive.  Allow the remover to soak a few minutes and then gently wipe off with a clean rag.  A more stubborn residue may need a solvent such as rubbing alcohol to be completely removed. 

Step 3: A quick spritz of window cleaner wiped with a paper towel completes the job.

 

Freeing a Stuck Wooden Window

Materials: Plain candle wax/Vaseline, 2'' putty knife, finishing hammer, small wooden block

For swelling due to damp weather:  Open the window as high as you can.  Working gently from one side to the other, place a small block under the window and tap with your hammer. This method avoids harming your window and  breaking any glass.  Once the window is raised apply a thin layer of Vaseline or rub candle wax on the track.  Lower and raise the window until the lubricant works in and you feel the window opens smoothly.

For painted shut windows: Using your putty knife, gently work the knife between the window joint until the window is free from the dried paint.  If the paint is really thick applying a solvent may help in prepping the area first.  Always test a small area to ensure no damage will occur to various surfaces.  When the window is moving again, gently scrap away any paint residue you can.

 

Removing a Broken Window Pane

Materials: Gloves, goggles, small pliers, masking tape, utility knife, vacuum, old towel

Step 1:   Safety first!  Before you begin, place a towel underneath to catch debris.  Wear goggles, gloves and footwear to protect yourself.

Step 2:  Crisscross the area with masking tape.   As you remove the broken shards this will help keep smaller pieces from dropping or flying in the air.

Step 3: Remove the larger pieces first.  Line your trash bag with some leftover newspaper so glass does not poke through.  As you begin to remove smaller pieces you may need to loosen them from the putty with your utility knife.  Grasp these smaller bits with a pliers using gentle force to avoid shattering.

Step 4: When all the glass has been removed, use your vacuum to suck up the remaining pieces.

 

Replacing a Torn Window Screen

This video from ACE hardware store shows you how to repair both small and large tears. 

 https://youtu.be/t7emMleueHg 

 

Now that you have tackled your windows, let's keep the momentum going with this excellent piece on ailing doors from Paul Bianchina of the Morning Call.  He will have your doors back in swing in no time. Read Paul's article below.

Easy fixes for ailing doors

By Paul Bianchina

 
If you have some doors around your house that aren’t working quite right, don’t despair. There are a number of quick and easy fixes that will take care of whatever’s sticking, squeaking, swinging or otherwise ailing your doors.
 
The door binds in the upper corner of the jamb: This is a common complaint, since the weight of the door wants to pull it down at an angle from the top corner, opposite the upper hinge, causing the door to bind against the jamb in that corner.
To fix it, remove one or two of the screws that hold the hinge to the jamb. Replace these screws with new ones that are long enough to reach all the way through the jamb and into the stud behind the jamb; you’ll want to predrill new pilot holes through the existing holes in the jamb to make it easier to drive the screws. These new, longer screws will pull the jamb back up against the stud and take the angle out of the door frame, relieving that pinch point in the corner.
 
The door binds against other parts of the jamb: First of all, ask yourself when this started happening. Is it only in the winter? If so, it’s probably due to seasonal swelling, which happens when the wood absorbs moisture from the air. Check to see if the door is being directly exposed to moisture, such as a drip from a leaky gutter, or perhaps it’s constantly shaded by overhanging trees and rarely dries. If you can identify the cause of the seasonal moisture, correct it. Be careful about planing a door during the winter — when it dries out again, it’ll be undersized for the opening.
If the binding isn’t seasonal, look for stress cracks in the drywall or moldings around the door. This can indicate settling issues, which may be caused by shifts in the home’s foundation, or simple drying of the wood framing, especially in newer homes. If the settling doesn’t continue and the binding doesn’t worsen, you can relieve the bound area by tapping against the door frame with a hammer and a block of wood, or by removing the door from its hinges and sanding or planing it a little. If the settling is worsening, consult with a contractor or structural engineer.
 
The door won’t stay latched: If the door won’t stay latched or needs to be pushed hard to get it to latch into the strike plate, first look at the way the door is fitting in the jamb. If you see that it appears to be leaning down at the upper corner, try installing longer screws as described above. Otherwise, it’s a matter of readjusting the strike plate. Site the latch to see where it’s hitting the strike plate, to determine if the plate needs to move up or down. If necessary, coat the latch with lipstick or crayon and then close the door — the resulting marks on the strike plate will help indicate where it’s hitting.
If only a small adjustment is needed, use a small file or a rotary tool with a metal grinding bit and enlarge the strike plate opening as needed. If a larger adjustment is necessary, unscrew and remove the strike plate, then reposition it on the jamb and reinstall it. You may need to chisel the jamb slightly to accept the plate in its new position.
 
Screws are coming out: If the screws that hold the hinges are coming out of the jamb, or you’ve had to reposition the strike plate and the screws want to go back into the old holes, you need to create new wood for the screws to grab into. This is easily done by drilling out the old screw holes to the size of a standard hardwood dowel, typically 3/8 inch. Apply glue to the dowel, insert it into the hole, allow it to dry, then cut it off flush with the surrounding surface. Drill a new pilot hole into the dowel, and re-insert the screws.
 
The door swings and won’t stay open: This is caused by a door that’s out of plumb in its opening. To correct it, you need to insert a small amount of shim between the back of the hinge and the door jamb — usually the bottom hinge. Loosen the hinge screws almost all the way, so that you have some play between the hinge and the jamb. Insert a piece of wooden shim or other material, such as small pieces of plastic laminate, behind the hinge, then retighten the screws.
 
The door latch hits the strike plate: This is caused by a strike cylinder that’s worked loose, or by a loose doorknob. If the strike cylinder that goes into the edge of the door is held in place with a small rectangular plate and two screws, first try tightening the screws. If they’ll tighten and hold okay, that will pull the cylinder back into the door and hold it. If the screws won’t hold, then you’ll need to install dowels as described above.
First, loosen the screws holding the doorknob, so that you have a little play in the knob. Set a block of wood against the strike cylinder, and tap it with a hammer to drive it back into the door until it’s flush with the door’s edge. Finally, securely tighten the doorknob’s screws to hold the knob and cylinder in place.
 
The door hits the wall: You need to install a door stop. The simplest type is a solid or flexible stop with a screw on one end and a rubber cap on the other, which is screwed into a pilot hole that’s drilled into the door or into the baseboard. Another style is a hinge stop, which is used when you want to stop the door before it can open far enough to contact a stop on a wall. To install this type of stop, remove the top or center hinge pin, slip it through the hinge stop, then reinstall the pin in the hinge. The hinge stop has an adjustable rod that screws in and out to contact the door at different points.
 
Have a home repair or remodeling question for Paul? He can be reached by email at [email protected].
 
 
22 August 2017
Hang in there…Curtain Solutions for every Room

 Carol Burnett immortalized  the humble curtain when she wore it, rod and all, during her infamous “Gone with the Wind” parody sketch.  With so many styles, colors and lengths to choose from it can become a daunting task.  Let's help simplify that process so your windows are the best dressed in town!

 

Begin by assessing the rooms function.  If privacy is the main goal, then choosing a heavier fabric will ensure no one is peeking in.  These denser fabrics are also great options for blocking sunlight.  If sleeping in on a Saturday morning is your weekly treat, you may want to consider a lined curtain to really block out those early morning rays. 

Cotton or linen allow natural light to filter through while letting you to enjoy the view from your window.   These fabrics are also easy to maintain, which is a plus if the room sees many an active child or furry pet.  If you are concerned with fading, a neutral hue will hold its color longer.  

Now that you've chosen your fabric let's move on to length.  You may see terms like brushing, breaking and pooling.  Brushing means the curtain is slightly touching the window sill or floor.  Breaking is when the curtain goes an inch or two on the floor.  A curtain that drapes over the floor by more than two inches is pooling.  Again, looking at the rooms function will help you decide on length.   A well-used room may not benefit from large pools of fabric on the floor. 

 

When measuring, start from the rod to the floor to get an accurate length.  Don't forget to account for rings or hardware that may be used to hang the curtain. Many designers hang curtains close to the ceiling for the illusion of added height. 

 Generally speaking, you want a curtain to be a few inches wider than the window for a nice full effect. In the room’s you are seeking privacy or darkness you may want to choose a curtain that is 3X the width of the window to create a bigger barrier.   

 

Now the fun part...choosing a material or pattern to complement your décor.  If your furniture already has a pattern, going with a solid, complimentary hue is a good choice.  Patterns and bright colors mix well in a room with classic elements.   Make sure your material matches the other fabrics in the room.  A light and airy room will not mesh well with wool or velvet.  If you find a fabric you love, bring a swatch home and hold it up against the window to see how it looks in the light.  


 Pull the look together with fun hardware.  Curtain rods that have a brushed silver or wrought iron finish can be charming. The addition of finials or using clip rings to hang the curtain add interesting details.  A child's room gets an amusing pop when you use something out of the ordinary as a tie back, like a chunky necklace or pretty ribbon.

     

 

 A great window treatment should provide a balance of function and beauty.   We hope this guide will help you choose a curtain with confidence. 

 

 

16 March 2017
Ways to Re-purpose Your Old Doors and Windows

 You've heard the phrase, “When one door closes, another one opens”.  What if we tweaked it a bit to: 'When one door or window closes....it's time to re-purpose!”  There is so much charm in the patina of an old door or window.  Keep your eye out at yard-sales, flea markets and thrift stores to score a great find.  Look for wood that is still solid, don't worry too much about peeling paint, that can lend some character to the piece or be repainted. We recommend asking the age of the door or window, items before 1978 may contain lead paint, which can be hazardous. If you proceed, wear goggles and gloves if sanding and consider using the item more as artwork that won't be handled.   We choose several DIY projects.....a few simple ones and several that might take an afternoon to complete.  Be inspired by looking at things in a new light. 

1.     Just a few modifications will give you a sweet little seat to put on your boots and store away your kids gloves and hats.  Choose a solid, not hollow, door for this project.  Sand and paint the door a cheery color or allow the older paint to stay.  You can take measurements to add a bench or small shelf.  Some decorative hooks for purses, coats and scarfs complete the look.

  

Entryway Bench

2.     Look for a slender door or even an old cabinet door for this project.  Sand, stain and paint as you choose to match your décor.  A trip to the hardware store can provide you with legs that can be simply attached with mounting hardware and a few tools.  If the door has a key hole or interesting knob, leave it on for some pizzazz.  

Coffee Table

3.     A paneled door works best for this design.  The panels are cut out and attached to the back of the door to make the shelves.  Hinges and hardware can be left on for added appeal.  When sanded and painted this idea would work well in a child's room or library.  

Shelf Unit

4.     An older window frame can be used in lots of clever ways throughout the house.  If you can find an old 6 paned window simply paint with chalkboard paint and utilize it as a weekly memo board or menu.  A large four pane window can show off family pictures or beautiful prints from an antique book.  In this example, sheet music and birds combine for a lovely look.  Even finding a window frame with no glass can be used as a unique frame for artwork. 

             

Many of these projects and other DIY inspiration can be found on Pinterest and the internet.  We hope you can always look at something in a new light and transform it into something functional. 

 

 

 

16 December 2016
How to Hang that Beautiful Wreath on your Front Door

We all have the urge to hang that big holiday wreath on the front door at this time of the year. However, how do we properly hang it in order to prevent damage to our door?

There is no reason to hammer a nail into your wooden door. You do not want to end up with split wood. Purchase an Over-the-Door Hanger. They have come along way over the years; you can find them in all types of finishes. Be sure to choose a strong metal hook that has a curve, so that it hangs clear of decorative door panels. To prevent the hanger from scratching the door, here are some simple suggestions:

·        Use felt behind the hanger. Cut the felt to the size of the hanger and be sure to use a color similar to the hanger.

·        Attach little bumpers, those like the ones that are on the inside of your kitchen cabinet doors. Line these up and down the hanger.

If you have a metal or steel front door, you can purchase a Magnetic Wreath Hanger. Hang it where you want to display your wreath and then hang the wreath from a small hook. Most magnetic hangers hold up to 10 lbs.  That is quit a big wreath!

The easiest solution is if you have a storm door. You don’t want to hide your wreath between the two doors, all this does is flatten the beauty of the wreath. Instead, hang it on the outside of the storm door. If you do not want to use an Over-the-Door Hanger, there are other simple solutions:

·        Use a suction cup hook on the door that can be removed when the wreath is ready to come down.

·        3M command adhesive strips also serve the purpose in this case. They attach nicely to glass and can be removed easily. Just make sure to purchase the proper strips for the weight of your wreath.

These handy tips can be used all year round for your seasonal wreaths.

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