November 22, 2019

Easy Fixes for 4 Household Problems

Problems like squeaky stairs and oil stains on the garage floor are common household troubles and they’re relatively easy for a do-it-yourselfer to fix.

Lynda Lyday—carpenter, professional contractor, and a featured expert on the DIY cable network—provides dozens of simple fixes for common household problems in The Homeowner’s Manual (Que Publishing, 2006).

 While it’s always best to bring in an expert to correct big problems, Lyday provides these tips for capable home owners who want to try their own hand at a solution.

PROBLEM: Oil Stains on Garage Floor
Lyday’s solution: “You can remove most of a stubborn stain with a bit of elbow grease and scrubbing. First, remove the surface oil by sprinkling some cat litter on it to soak it up. Then clear away the cat litter and focus on the stain.

Make a paste of hot water and dry dish or laundry detergent. Use a stiff bristle scrub brush to scrub the area with the paste. Hose the area and let it dry. Another method is to use a product such as Spray ’n Wash on the stain for 10 minutes, along with a dry detergent.

Your last option is to spray on some oven cleaner. Use this sparingly, wash it down thoroughly, and keep children and pets away from it.”

PROBLEM: Leaky Faucets
Lyday’s solution: “Most faucet leaks can easily be fixed with a rubber washer, an O-ring, or seals—depending on what type of faucet it is. By fixing the problem yourself, you can save a good bit of money since plumbers can be expensive and will charge you a standard fee even if it takes only 10 minutes to fix the problem.”

PROBLEM: Nail Pops
Lyday’s solution: “Nail pops are a problem across the country. The term comes from the nails that hold the drywall to the studs actually popping out through the face of the drywall. This is from either a house settling or the wood studs drying out over time, squeezing the nail out of the wood and pushing it through the drywall.

The fix for this isn’t terribly hard, but it’s tedious because there are up to 32 nails in a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of drywall. My suggestion is to pound the nail through the drywall to the stud. Then, just above it, place a drywall screw to hold the drywall to the stud, and finish it off with a few coats of spackle or joint compound. Finally, seal and paint it.

Most home-improvement stores also sell nail pop kits that can make this job easier.”

PROBLEM: Squeaky Stairs
Lyday’s solution: “The most common problems that occur in a staircase are the treads (horizontal surface of the steps) coming loose, which causes squeaking. Also common are the spindles or balusters coming loose. If you can get underneath the staircase, fixing the treads is easy.

You will need to attach an L bracket from the underside of the tread to the stringer (the long piece of wood that connects the treads and runs diagonally up the wall). If you can’t get underneath the staircase, you’ll have to make the repair from above.

Squeaky stair kits are available that allow you to make this fix even through carpet. Otherwise, you can secure the tread to the stringer with a trim screw.”

READY FOR PRODUCTIVE EXERCISE?

Care on the ladder required!

HOT HOME IDEAS . . . #12 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#12 Relaxation retreats
Why trendworthy: Increased need to unwind.

Who cares about a home being a castle when most just want a place to unwind? Atlanta architect Johnna Barrett (www.barrettdesigninc.com) has designed several relaxation rooms, where creature comforts include natural materials, color kinetics, programmable LED lighting, candlelight, aromatherapy, a sound-blocking machine, flat-panel TV with DVD player, refrigerator with purified water, and a door. Depending on room size and amenities included, a retreat room could cost from $3,000 to $10,000.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #11 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#11 3-D HDTV
Why trendworthy: Images are becoming more lifelike.

HDTVs display a beautiful picture, but they can’t offer a 3-D presentation like your local IMAX movie theater does. The reason: True high-definition 3-D in the home currently lacks a standard and is still too expensive for most consumers. That should change, in part because electronics manufacturers are developing a standard format. When that happens, prices should drop, says Dave Pedigo, senior director of technology for CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association), a national trade association.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #10 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#10 Dual-flush, environmentally efficient toilets, plus more healthful designs
Why trendworthy: Greater recognition that liquid and solid waste have different flush requirements.

Though widely available abroad, dual-flush toilets—with separate mechanisms to handle liquid or solid waste—are gaining attention here, says Lenora Campos with Toto USA, a leading toilet manufacturer (www.totousa.com). The main challenge isn’t convincing home owners to buy the models, she says, but getting them to remember to use the right button. More companies may follow Toto’s lead to construct toilets with glazed concave rims and water nozzles that repel bacteria and wall-mounted models that make cleaning underneath easier. Toto’s Aquia II dual-flush models run from $457 to $686, while the company’s conventional single-flush models range from $350 to $525.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #9 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#9 Outdoor curtains
Why trendworthy:
Even backyard “rooms” require some privacy.

As more people construct “rooms” in their backyards for purposes such as swimming, cooking and eating, and relaxing under a pergola, the need for curtains has arisen. New fabrics stand up better to outdoor conditions and visually soften hardscape surfaces. They also screen out nosy neighbors, says designer Flynn. Fabric runs $12 to $80 per square foot, plus installation.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #8 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#8 Do-it-yourself projects
Why trendworthy:
Less costly, more personal.

The DIY trend keeps growing as home owners look to cut costs and return to basics. Instruction is readily available in classes, on the Web, and in books. Example: Designer Fu-Tung Cheng (www.chengdesign.com), who helped make concrete a chic, green material for interior surfaces, is now helping even nonhandy home owners construct concrete countertops with his book and DVD, Concrete Countertops Made Simple (Taunton Press, 2008). “The DIY movement represents a trend away from overly complex projects that require professional expertise. The simpler designs are also more timeless and individualistic and more likely to touch the heart,” Cheng says.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #7 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#7 Interior wall treatments besides paint
Why trendworthy: Easier to install; more personalized patterns, colors, textures.

Less popular in recent years, wall treatments other than paint are making a comeback, says Atlanta-based interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn, who cites several reasons: new bolder graphic wallpaper patterns, some in shiny metallics and textured leathers, and easier and less costly application due to new primers. Wallpaper is cropping up on a single focal wall, which saves money. Flynn predicts more home owners will cover an entire wall with an enlarged photo printed in sections.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #6 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#6 Condo home offices
Why trendworthy:
To help home owners maximize small spaces—and obtain a tax deduction.

Owners of single-family homes have long been able to convert a bedroom, den, or basement to an office, but down the road more condo buyers and apartment renters will find homes with small, dedicated spaces for business use, says Robert Kaliner, president of the Ascend Group, developer of the luxury Georgica condominiums in New York, where each glass-wrapped unit will have a home office (www.georgicany.com). Steve Kliegerman, executive director at Halstead Development, which is marketing units with home offices in another New York building, The Fitzgerald (www.thefitzgeraldcondos.com) in Harlem, sees a couple of factors behind the trend: Older, retrofitted office buildings tend to come with nooks that lend themselves to becoming small offices, and the home office tax deduction gives these spaces special appeal.

HOT HOME IDEAS — #5 OF 12

People today seek to personalize, economize, and make the most of their space—inside and out.

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.

#5 White and beige color palettes, some grays and pinks, bold accents
Why trendworthy:
Less intense colors to calm jittery nerves.

Color seers may disagree about which palette will dominate, but they note that softer backdrops are everywhere—offering serenity to soothe frayed nerves as the economy remains turbulent. Mary Lawlor, color stylist with Kelly-Moore Paints (www.kellymoore.com), thinks whites and beiges will remain most popular and that bright colors will provide accents. Anne McGuire and Sue Kim, affiliated with Valspar Manufacturing Co. (www.valspar.com), see the most popular colors as water-inspired blues and greens, along with underwater corals. And Sylvia O’Brien, founder of Colour Theory (www.colourtheory.net), notes that earth tones provide tranquil reactions to the technical coldness in our midst and pink, especially with a pearlized finish, is popular as an accent because of its perceived healing power

Today’s home owners seek style and comfort, but they’re ever mindful of the toll that our choices can take on the environment. These home-furnishings trends reflect current priorities and aspirations. Some of these phenomena will inevitably fizzle, while others will become mainstays of the home, but for now they are attracting lots of industry and consumer buzz.