Raising the bar on bath safety
(BPT) - The bathroom is your daily sanctuary to retreat to and enjoy a few moments alone. For that reason, it should be serene, stylish and of course, safe. Think that words “safety” and “style” can never go together? Think again. Fortunately, it’s easy to incorporate essential bath safety elements that will leave your room feeling more like a resort instead of rehab.
A twist on towel bars
When entering or exiting the bath, many homeowners reach for a towel located on a towel bar just outside the bathtub or shower. While this is a convenient location, unfortunately bathers instinctively grab onto the towel bar to ease in and out of the shower or tub. This can be a serious fall risk, since towel bars are not designed to support a person’s weight. Fortunately, Moen has combined the functionality and beauty of a decorative towel bar with the safety benefits of a grab bar with the Moen Home Care Grab Bar with Towel Bar. Available in the most popular finishes to seamlessly integrate with the style of your bath, this unique product is easy to install to ensure a safe - and stylish - addition to the bath.
Safety with shelves
From shampoo to shaving cream, razors to rubber duckies, the bathtub or shower is an area where we store a multitude of items. With this in mind, homeowners are always looking for ways to conquer the clutter. Shelves are an excellent answer - especially when you can combine them with safety and peace of mind. Look for shelves that combine the functionality and style of a shelf with the safety of a grab bar. Some are featured in both corner and straight designs and will help solve your storage woes, while providing extra stability in the shower or bath.
“Grab bars are an important safety element for all ages - in fact, we could all use a little extra assistance in the shower,” says Adam Ference, Moen Home Care brand manager. “By incorporating grab bars into common bathroom accessories, we hope to encourage homeowners to make every bath a safe - and stylish - bath.”
Serenity with showerheads
When you think of resorts, you may recall the spectacular spa showers. You can dramatically enhance your daily shower experience by simply updating your current showerhead. There are many types, but a combination showerhead, such as the Moen Caldwell Brushed Nickel Slide Bar showerhead, can offer a relaxing retreat while also adding safety features. Combination showerheads feature both a standard showerhead and a handheld showerhead attached to a slide bar, providing users multiple spray options. And, with the added benefit of a handheld shower, users who choose to bathe in a seated position can also easily and safely enjoy the sensational experience.
For the final step to your safety-upgraded bathroom, increase the amount of lighting. Add higher-wattage bulbs in your current lights, nightlights or additional lamps to the room for improved illumination. Another option is adding skylights. Not only will it help reduce bumps and falls, but a well-lit bathroom will also make the space feel more open and spa-like.
Increasing your safety does not mean decreasing the style in your bath. In fact, with these easy, inexpensive and attractive updates, you can quickly raise your level of bath safety, while creating a more enjoyable and stylish bathroom retreat.
For more information on Moen products, visit www.moen.com.
Serve up an ideal space for summer outdoor entertaining
(BPT) - The arrival of milder temperatures means dining al fresco, hosting neighborhood cookouts and enjoying intimate cocktail parties under the stars. When creating a backyard oasis to entertain family and friends this summer, it’s important that it be both inviting and able to withstand the wear and tear that goes hand-in-hand with warm weather fun.
The outdoor living experts at Trex suggest the following tips:
Maximize your space. Think about your deck in terms of different activities - and dedicate separate areas for relaxing, grilling, dining and socializing. Consider creating a simple seating nook or an elegant outdoor bar. Structures like trellises, or even tall potted plants, can help establish settings for cozy conversations between guests - while a pergola may offer much-needed relief from the summer sun.
“When you take a situation where you can entertain and move it outside, it immediately feels special,” says Tyler Florence, culinary artist and one of the faces of Trex’s new Engineered Artistry campaign. “First and foremost, think about how your space interacts with the environment and use that as inspiration to create a deck that suits your personal interests and preferences.”
Create a “full service” outdoor kitchen. If you’re planning to spend most weekends entertaining on your deck or patio, consider adding an exterior kitchen to your home. Incorporate elements like a grilling station, cooking range, sink, compact refrigerator - or even a built-in rotisserie or pizza oven. You’ll be able to prepare and serve food while outside conversing with guests - rather than being stuck inside behind the stove. Just remember to build your outdoor kitchen in an area protected from the elements and make sure that its style - whether modern stainless steel or rustic country - complements the look of your home’s exterior.
Choose low-maintenance materials. Spills, splashes and other mishaps are inevitable when entertaining outdoors. If you want to spend more time enjoying - rather than maintaining - your deck, choose materials that need only a soap and water cleaning to retain their enduring good looks.
“Because I have so much going on, I try to keep things as simple as possible and avoid situations that require an enormous amount of upkeep,” says Florence. “If you’re going to make the investment in a gorgeous outdoor living space, use decking and railing that will look amazing for decades to come.”
High-performance, wood-alternative decking like Trex resists fading, staining, scratching and mold growth thanks to an exclusive protective shell and high-traffic formulation - even after several summers of dropping grill tools, spilling barbecue sauce and moving around heavy outdoor furniture. And while these materials offer the natural look of wood, you never need to worry about sanding, staining or painting.
Design with distinction. Select a style and color scheme for your deck that best complements your home’s exterior and reflects the natural environment. Today’s wood-alternative decking offers high-definition wood grain patterns and rich, saturated colors inspired by the outdoors - with a vibrancy that remains unchanged for years. When combined with a modular railing system that provides similar high performance and long-lasting beauty, composite decking offers endless mix-and-match options for incredible design flexibility to suit the style of any home.
“Go online and experiment with different resources and tools to figure out how your outdoor living elements can be integrated,” says Florence. “With Trex, for instance, the ideas are endless because you have so many more opportunities to create a really luxurious space.”
Don’t forget the finishing touches. Customize your outdoor living space to make family and friends feel truly welcome. Add ambience for evening cookouts with dimmable LED deck lighting, and create an inviting lounge area with comfortable, durable furnishings - or even outdoor speakers. You can choose to truly “deck out” a space with luxuries ranging from flat screen televisions to stone fire pits, but if the budget is tight, adding vibrant pillows or tropical flowers and plants serves as a quick and colorful pick-me-up.
For more inspiration to create an amazing outdoor entertaining space - or for favorite outdoor living recipes from Tyler Florence - visit www.trex.com.
Staging your Home: Advice for Sellers
Financing: Advice for Homebuyers
First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Things to Know when Buying your First Home
Five tips for creating a stadium-style lawn in your own backyard
Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.
* Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It’s also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.
* Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed, a coalition of grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.
* Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It’s important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.
* Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don’t jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.
* Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It’s equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you’ve noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you’d like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.
Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn’t have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.
Low-maintenance exterior upgrades that add value and style to your home
Consider these top exterior projects that will increase your home’s value and curb appeal. And, because they’re low-maintenance, you’ll get more time to enjoy the beauty of the season.
Fence, railing or deck upgrades: no painting or staining required
If you’re updating or replacing your fencing, patio or deck railing or an entire deck, you’ll want to select the right wood for the job. If you like pressure-treated lumber, but don’t want to have to paint or stain the wood, then ProWood Dura Color is for you. Each piece is color-infused through and through, and has the natural color characteristics and appearance of cedar or redwood, but won’t fade to silver or gray over time, like untreated lumber.
“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they fade to gray,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products. “ProWood Dura Color products not only look like natural cedar or redwood, their color lasts much longer and they’re backed with a lifetime limited warranty against termites and rot.” What’s more, all ProWood Dura Color lumber boasts a two-year color assurance warranty.
How is ProWood Dura Color different? Colorant is infused deep into the wood’s fibers during the treating process, eliminating the need to paint or stain. You’ll get natural-looking lumber with color that’s guaranteed to last. Visit www.ProWoodLumber.com for more information.
Use ProWood Dura Color for your deck addition. A wood deck addition has great return on investment - 77.3 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, you’re sure to enjoy the expanded outdoor living space.
Exterior door updates are functional and fashionable
If you look at your home from the street, do you like its curb appeal? If not, maybe it’s the doors. The doors that mostly affect the style and function of your home’s exterior are the entryway and garage doors. If yours are dated, drafty and always need painting, it’s time for new, modern options, and they may cost less than you think.
The average cost to replace a steel entry door is $1,137, according to the Cost vs. Value Report, and the cost recouped when you sell the house is 85.6 percent. Your new door will look great and help keep your home energy efficient too.
Garage door replacements come with a similar price tag, averaging $1,496, according to the report, but you’ll recoup 75.7 percent when it’s time to sell. A garage door upgrade is functional as well as beautiful - because it takes up so much visual space on your home’s exterior, a new garage door can set the tone for your home’s personality. Plus, most of today’s options are low-maintenance and don’t require annual painting.
Cut energy bills and seasonal drafts with new windows
If you ignore or delay window maintenance, you’re not alone, but doing so could be costing you more money than you think. Windows - particularly old ones - can be a lot of work. Wood windows need annual maintenance to avoid deterioration and rot, single pane windows need to be insulated and sealed during cold seasons, and screens need repair when warm weather approaches.
Take a look at your windows and determine which can be repaired and which need to be replaced. New windows have so many technological advancements that they’re virtually maintenance-free and often come with a lifetime warranty.
New windows with multiple panes, low-emissivity coatings, gas treatments between the panes and other advancements make new windows a worry-free addition. New vinyl windows have a return on investment of 71.2 percent, according to the Cost vs. Value report.
Whether your next home improvement project is big or small, researching low-maintenance options today will help ensure your home looks good for many years to come. Plus, you’ll have more time to enjoy the long sunny days with a refreshing drink in hand rather than a hammer and drill.
What lies beneath your dream home? New homeowners skip sewer line inspections
A sewer line inspection is not included in the standard home inspection and is regularly waived in the purchasing process. Additionally, many buyers do not know that responsibility for the condition of the lateral sewer line leading from the street to the home lies with the homeowner, not a municipality. Buyers should reconsider including this important step before they sign a deal.
If a problem occurs, a sewer line replacement costs at least $4,500, but prices vary widely and costs increase dramatically by region, depending on depth and length of the underground pipes and if street repairs become part of the issue.
Experts at Roto-Rooter, North America’s largest provider of plumbing repair and drain cleaning services, encounter this scenario far too often. Consumers, who just signed the dotted line on their dream home, soon find that they’re trapped in an expensive plumbing nightmare.
"Just a couple of years after purchasing our home, we had a $15,000 sewer line disaster in our lap," says Jennifer Schappacher of Cincinnati. "The sewer line clogs began not long after we moved in, but as they became more frequent we had Roto-Rooter inspect the line with a video camera and only then did we realize the pipe had offset sections and a partial collapse that was causing sewage to back up into our house."
The Schappachers looked at only a few houses before deciding on one in a quiet shady neighborhood. It was charming with large, mature trees that shaded the entire street. But since the house was built in 1959, its concrete and clay underground sewer pipes were vulnerable to heavy root intrusion from the big trees. As those roots entered the pipe joints in search of water, they pushed the pipes apart and allowed surrounding soil to spill into the pipe, narrowing a 6 inch diameter pipe to just 1 inch in some sections.
Generally, a plumber can complete a sewer line camera inspection for $250 to $550, depending on the region. While not cheap, it’s a relatively small price to pay when buying a home, especially if it helps a buyer avoid thousands of dollars in unforeseen repair bills.
To avoid unexpected and costly plumbing problems, the experts at Roto-Rooter recommend having a plumber conduct a video camera sewer line inspection, in addition to a standard home inspection, before buyers purchase a home. The process involves passing a waterproof fiber optic video camera through the pipe. The specialized cameras are equipped with bright LED lights so the inspection will reveal any cracks, breaks, offset or collapsed sections of pipe. The plumber will often provide a DVD copy of the inspection as part of the service.
"Sewer inspection camera equipment is expensive and often is only utilized by well-equipped plumbing companies, but the video inspection service itself is easy to complete and well worth the extra step," says Roto-Rooter master plumber Larry Rothman.
Root growth is the most common cause of sewer line damage and is often responsible for blockages and separated pipe sections. Outdated and eroding pipe materials are also a common culprit in sewer line deterioration. Older pipes are much more susceptible to root intrusion than new plastic pipe.
Inspections are especially important if:
* The home is 20 years or older.
* There are mature trees around the property.
* The home has been vacant for a period of time.
* The concrete surrounding the home is cracked or raised.
* There is considerable visible root growth in the yard.
Many homeowners, especially new homeowners, do not know or think about their home plumbing. For seasonal maintenance tips and general information, visit Roto-Rooter’s plumbing basics section online at www.rotorooter.com/plumbing-basics.
Cost of home fire sprinklers at all-time lows; benefits still high
A new study reveals that the price of residential fire sprinkler systems has dropped significantly, creating an opportunity for safety-minded homeowners to tap the many benefits of sprinklers.
The average per-foot cost of a residential fire sprinkler system was $1.61; the average per-foot cost has plunged to $1.35, according to a report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Multipurpose systems that use a home’s cold-water supply, rather than a separate piping system, are even more affordable - just $1.23 per square foot, the report found.
And costs are likely to drop even lower, one expert says.
“More communities are considering, or have already implemented, fire sprinkler requirements for new, single-family homes,” says Eric Skare, a volunteer firefighter and fire safety systems product manager for Uponor North America (www.uponor-usa.com
), an Apple Valley, Minn.-based sprinkler system manufacturer. “Growing demand has resulted in increased competition and lower installed costs for these systems. Manufacturers competing for market share continue to develop lower-cost products to ensure the cost-effectiveness of residential fire sprinkler systems.”
The lower cost is good news for anyone interested in protecting their home with a fire sprinkler system, Skare says. The benefits of such systems are many:
* Eighty percent of all fire deaths occur in residential fires. While functioning smoke alarms reduce the risk of home fire fatalities by 50 percent, sprinklers slash the risks by 80 percent, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
* Multipurpose systems - like those provided by Uponor - reduce the amount of piping needed to supply sprinkler systems because they tie into a home’s existing cold-water plumbing system. Instead of two piping systems - plumbing and fire-sprinkler - the builder need install only one, reducing material, labor costs and jobsite-scheduling hassles, saving 35 percent to 65 percent in installation time over standalone, rigid CPVC systems. That, in turn, should result in a lower cost to the home buyer.
* Homeowners insurance companies provide an average premium discount of 7 percent to homes with fire sprinkler systems, according to the Fire Protection Research Foundation.
* Home fire sprinkler systems act quickly to reduce heat, flames and smoke from fire, giving families valuable time to safely get out of a burning home. “Sprinklers extinguish most home fires in seconds, before the fire department arrives and before major damage can occur,” Skare notes. In fact, sprinklers are far less damaging than fire hoses used by firefighting teams. One study in Scottsdale, Ariz., found the average fire damage loss for a home without sprinklers was more than $45,000; with sprinklers, losses shrink to slightly more than $2,100.
* Sprinklers enhance home value. Forty-five percent of homeowners prefer a home with fire sprinklers and nearly 75 percent say the presence of sprinklers increases a home’s value, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition reports.
Perhaps the most compelling argument in favor of sprinklers is the cost-to-value ratio. The average total cost for installing a multipurpose fire sprinkler system is around $6,000, according to the Fire Protection Research Foundation report.
“That investment could buy your family the extra time they need to escape a home fire,” Skare says.