Month: July 2020

10 Home Projects to Help Keep Cool Without AC

Summer is in full swing around the country, which means we’re in for good beach days but also some sweltering heat. Here are ten home projects to get you out of the sun and help you keep cool without AC.

How to Keep Cool Without AC this Summer

#1. Wipe down your baseboards and trim. – A quick wipe down goes a long way because we all know it’s the little things that make a house feel fresh.

#2. Install new electrical outlets. – It always seems like there are never enough outlets—especially in a home office. In just an hour or two, you can add in new outlets to the zones in your home where you find yourself always hunting for (and never finding) a plug-in.

#3. Create a seed-starting station. – Turn the empty space in your laundry room into the perfect place for starting this year’s garden. Set up a wire shelf rack, hang some fluorescent full-spectrum lights, and you’re all set to start growing!

#4. Clean the grout between your tiles.

After a while, grout gets gross—there’s no way around it. However, some simple pantry basics like baking soda, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide and a stiff bristled brush will refresh your grout in no time. Plus, being on the cool tile is sure to help you keep cool without AC. Pro-tip: do not use chlorine bleach on grout!

#5. Set up a home coffee bar. – If you’re a coffee enthusiast, this one’s for you. Using a small bookcase, cabinet, or floating shelves, it’s easy to create a space for your coffee maker, French press, coffee grinder, mugs, filters, and teas.

#6. Refurbish your coffee table or end tables. – Make an old coffee table look new (or old) with some paint and stylish hardware!

#7. Invest in vertical storage for your home. – Shelves help make the most of any space, especially storage spaces like your laundry room, closets, and garage.

#8. Replace all the batteries in your smoke detectors. – Just grab some batteries and a ladder, and you’re well on your way to oft-forgotten but much-needed basic home maintenance.  

#9. Install under-cabinet lighting. – Brighten up your kitchen—literally! This helpful, simple project makes a big impact on one of the home’s most important rooms.

#10. Update your walls. – Whether it be repairing holes and repainting, simply hanging new pictures, or designing a gallery wall, this is the perfect time to bring a new look to your living space.

Need a craftsman to take a look? Contact us!

As you work through your home to-do list and try to keep cool without AC, call or text your local Handyman Connection for a free estimate on any of your summer projects!

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7 Smart Ways to Secure Your Home From Burglars

Your home is a safe haven for the people you love and your precious belongings. Failure to secure your home means you put your possessions and your loved ones in danger because criminals are inclined to infiltrate your house to make a quick buck. It is your job to make it tough for them by eliminating the opportunity to break-in. 

Do remember that studies show that more burglaries occur in the summer. However, this doesn’t mean you can be complacent during the colder season. You must be vigilant about crime prevention all the time by taking the necessary precautions inside and outside your home. Consider the following tips so your home won’t fall prey into the hands of thieves:

Lock Your Windows

One of the most favorite entry points of robbers is your windows. People love to leave them open to let the breeze come in for the air to circulate. Sadly, this is seen as an invitation for thieves to come in. Instead, place locks on your windows, especially in the ground floor and basement areas, to make it harder for nasty thieves to gain access into your house. Lock them during the day and night. Most people fear that burglaries occur at night, but in reality, they happen during the day when most people are busy at work, school, or out running errands. As such, you must take preventive measures round the clock to ensure your home remains secure.  

Get a Dog

A dog is dubbed as a man’s best friend for a good reason! Keeping a canine companion lowers the risk of having burglars infiltrate your home. Dogs have keener senses of hearing and smell, so they begin barking when they feel a stranger is approaching. Having a pet dog is like possessing an early warning device. Best of all, when a stranger manages to come in, your dog will protect you with its sharp teeth.  

Get to Know Your Neighbors

Remember the good, old neighborhood watch? There is definitely merit to that program. Being neighborly means, you have a trusted person close by who can help you when you’re in a bind. When you leave on vacation, you can keep an eye out for each other’s houses. More burglaries occur in the summer when people are out taking their breaks. However, if you have a friendly neighbor supervising your property, you diminish the chances of a break-in. The crime rate is proven to be lower in tightly knit communities where people care about each other. With many eyes on the lookout, it is easy to spot a lurking stranger. 

Light Up the Landscape

Put a spotlight on potential intruders before they can even touch your doors. One thing that thieves hate is getting caught. If your perimeter is well-lit, this is a deterrent for them because no one wants to be seen. Place high powered LED lights in key points of your exterior fence. You can also put extra lighting with motion detectors. Any vulnerable access points must have illumination to dissuade criminals from breaking in. 

Lock Down Your Wi-Fi Network

You must be vigilant about locking your Wi-Fi network if you are truly concerned about security. In today’s modern world, hackers and cybercriminals abound. They use specialized software to access your wireless network. Locking it means you prevent unauthorized access, keeping your data and personal information safe. If you’ve chosen a smart door lock, you can keep your password safe. 

Put an Alarm System 

One of the best burglar deterrents is an alarm system. Though it may sound inconvenient to arm the alarm each time you leave your house, it will protect you against home invasion, especially when you are not around. Tripping will alert the neighbors and security organization your installer is affiliated with. Couple this with tiny warning sticker signs in your windows and yard signs that your home is manned with an alarm system. Since thieves hate getting caught, they don’t waste their precious time and resources in properties that are difficult to access. 

Fortify Your Fence

If you don’t have one already, building a fence is an excellent way to ward off unwanted people off your property. Some people opt for a simple open chain-link fence or an ornamental one with shrubbery. In contrast, some people prefer solid walls and fancier gates with pointed tops. To beef up your fence protection, add security cameras in key points. When thieves see cameras surrounding your property, they think twice about going near your home. 

Final Word

Making your home burglar-proof doesn’t have to break that bank. You can fortify your residential protection with a few affordable updates. The main objective to keep in mind is never to overlook simple steps that are the cornerstone of home security. Keep your doors and windows well-locked, hide your valuables, and be friendly with your neighbors. Most of all, never advertise your vacations which is the primary reason more burglaries occur in summer. Implementing these theft-proof measures means you can truly enjoy your home with peace of mind. 

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4 Tips on Handling In-Home Repairs During the Pandemic

The world may be faced with the challenges brought by COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that home repairs are no longer a thing. Pandemic or not, home issues can still happen when you least expect them. It can be damage to your roof after an overflow on your gutter caused by a severe thunderstorm, or your home’s structural integrity getting compromised due to an earthquake. 

You may be inclined to bring out your toolbox and do the repair yourself. Indeed, there are some minor issues that you can fix easily. However, not all home issues can be done DIY style. You may not have the right equipment or the proper training to do the work safely and properly. It is highly advised that you hire a home repair professional to ensure a well-done job. 

Getting your home repaired during this pandemic? Here are some ways to handle home repairs during COVID-19.

1. Keep at-risk family members away from the site if possible

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that people who have underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, serious heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease, as well as those that are immunocompromised, have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. 

If any of your family members belong to this group, minimize the risk of exposure by having them avoid contact with other people. As COVID-19 does not have a vaccine or cure yet, the best way to prevent it is through social distancing. Don’t let family members enter the part of your home being repaired unnecessarily. For bigger home repair projects, you may have to let them stay in a separate place for the project duration.

2.  Be proactive in screening home repair contractors

During this challenging time, it is better to be safe than sorry. Do your due diligence in looking for good home repair contractors and be proactive in screening them with regard to their medical condition.

3. Request contractors to wear masks and gloves

As part of the safety measures on the worksite, the CDC recommends that workers perform work while wearing masks and gloves. Masks prevent you from getting the virus and at the same time stops you from transmitting it. N95 masks are the best type of mask to prevent transmission. But since these are usually reserved for medical front liners, you and your home repair contractors may use surgical masks and cloth masks. 

4. Clean frequently used surfaces often

One of COVID-19’s most common modes of transmission is person-to-person contact. However, people can still get the virus from surfaces. Scientists have found that the virus can last up to 5 days on metallic surfaces and up to 4 days on wood. Reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 by disinfecting frequently touched surfaces on the worksite like doorknobs and repair tools. 

We are a few months in the COVID-19 crisis but the situation is still continually changing. Always stay updated on the COVID-19 situation and get information only from reliable sources.  As for home repairs, call a professional immediately if it is an emergency. If it is less urgent, weigh the risks and proceed only when you have the necessary safety precautions in place. 

About the Author:

Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments and filing preliminary notices in California and most US states. also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.

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What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint has been making trends in the painting and DIY world over the past few years and for a good reason. If you’ve only recently heard about it and wonder what makes it so special, this article will give you the information you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an easy to use, beautiful finish, and no prep needed paint solution, then chalk paint is the answer.

DIY origins 

Chalk paint gets its name by the chalky, matte, and often distressed appearance it creates when used on furniture. It isn’t your average, store-bought paint, but was invented in 1990 by British artist Annie Sloan. Unlike typical paints, which either require lots of prep work or have flat finishes, Sloan wanted something different. She wanted a paint that was easy to apply, clean up afterward, and looked good. That led to the creation of chalk paint, which does precisely all that. Essentially, chalk paint is an all-in-one paint. Everything from furniture, wood, metal, plastic, walls, and even brick will take to chalk paint with ease.

What is chalk paint made of? 

The paint itself is made up of a latex base with a powder added to help create its trademark matte finish. It also makes the paint very forgiving, so visible brush strokes or thin patches add to the appeal instead of standing out. It’ll also feel like chalk, so it both looks and feels antique.

How is chalk paint different than other paints? 

Before getting into the many benefits of chalk paint, it’s also important to understand what it is not. Chalk paint itself is much thicker than regular paint, so there is less risk of drips or uneven paint lines. Even if you apply too much in one brush, it doesn’t dry quickly, so you can even out the layer. Aside from a simple wash, any furniture or wood doesn’t need to be sanded or intensively prepared first. Also if there is an old layer of paint underneath, chalk paint will still go on smooth and even.

Chalkboard paint vs. chalk paint 

People often confuse chalk paint with chalkboard paint. While just as popular, chalkboard paint is used to turn any walled surface into a chalkboard. Chalk can then be used on it and just as easily removed just like a chalkboard. This makes it popular for kids rooms or convenient kitchen backsplash that can be used to make grocery and to-do lists. Using chalk on chalk paint, though, will ruin or damage the paint. Chalk paint is only meant to create a vintage, distressed style for walls or furniture.

Milk paint vs. chalk paint 

Milk paint, which really does have a milk base, is made up of entirely natural ingredients. Typically, that includes milk protein, lime, pigment, and clay. It’s also a completely green paint option, similar to chalk paint. Both are water-based, have no VOC, and are completely odourless. The differences, in addition to how it’s made, are in their application. Depending on the surface, milk paint may need a bit of sanding to help the paint stick. Any surfaces that aren’t porous won’t accept milk paint. It also comes as a powder, which must be mixed before it is used.

Once mixed, be careful to use it all, since the paint will spoil after a few days due to its milk base. Chalk paint, though, is ready to use immediately and won’t expire so quickly. Milk paint finishes also vary, depending on what surface they are applied to, but they tend to look more chipped than scuffed vintage.

Latex paint vs. chalk paint 

While chalk paint does have latex in its mixture, the two paints are still different. First of all, latex paint must be sanded and primed before the paint can be applied. If not, the paint won’t adhere to the surface properly and will end up peeling off. Chalk paint, however, can be applied without any sanding or priming. Latex also isn’t meant for distressing furniture, as any sanding will result in the paint coming off and not wearing down to an antique style. Chalk paint is more durable against various temperatures, so hotter or colder changes won’t affect the paint. Once dried, the chalk paint will just as easily expand and contract and not flake or peel. Latex, however, is temperature-dependent, which is important to check before it is applied.

What is chalk paint used for? 

One of the main benefits of chalk paint is that you can use it for almost everything in your home. Whether for walls, cabinets, wood, or even fabric, chalk paint will work on it all. The most popular choice is to use chalk paint on furniture to give it a matte appearance.

Dressers are an easy go-to with chalk paint, especially to create a new vintage style. Kitchen cabinets are another of the more popular areas to use chalk paint, and it’s a unique option for renovation updates. Without any of the prep work and sanding, you can have new-looking cabinets in no time at all and without any mess. To turn a wall into a feature, matte, chalk décor is also a perfect way to add a “wow” factor into any room.

If you don’t want the distressed look, just skip the sanding and apply two coats of chalk paint. Rocking chairs, a feature wall, or even brick will all look just as stunning with a simple matte, chalk appearance. You can also combine chalk paint with other designs, such as leaving a stained wood section or using it as decorative trim. If you need some ideas, just take a look online at some of the inspirational chalk paint ideas.

Benefits of chalk paint 

The simplicity and near-endless uses are the two main benefits of chalk paint. Any DIYer or those new to painting can use chalk paint without worry or hassle. Even surfaces that have already been painted or have a stain will still work with chalk paint. Without the need to prepare any surfaces as well, it’ll completely speed up any renovations. The latex base of chalk paint means that cleaning up is as easy as washing your paintbrushes with soap and then drying them.

Colour-wise, it is not just limited to chalk white. Annie Sloan has 42 different shades available, and similar store-bought versions also have their own available colours. To create a completely new colour, just mix and match chalk paints and see what you can create.

Chalk paint can also be applied in a few different ways, depending on different detailing or the size of the work. Paintbrushes are the traditional choice, but rollers and even spray guns are also possible methods. If you use a spray gun, thin the paint with a little bit of water first so that it sprays evenly and easily.

How to use chalk paint 

A few steps are involved when applying chalk paint, but it is still an easy DIY process. The first step is to choose a piece of furniture, a wall, bookshelf, or anything else that you want to paint. When selecting a space to work, make sure you have some ventilation, such as a fan or an open window. Chalk paint is VOC free, so this just helps prevent any dust or debris settling on the wet paint. Make sure to carefully clean your project’s surface and remove any hardware that you don’t want to paint.

Chalk paint is thick, so don’t apply too much in one go, but keep in mind the paint is also easy to fix. It doesn’t dry as quickly as latex, so any mistakes can easily be fixed right away. Make sure if you are painting wood that you paint in the direction of the wood grain. After the first coat has dried, you can apply the second and let that dry.

Distress the look 

At this point, you can choose to add a distressed look or move on to applying a protective wax layer. Distressing will give the furniture an aged, vintage style, that some homeowners enjoy. Use a grit sandpaper or sanding block and rub areas that would naturally see wear and tear. That typically means chair legs, corners, or specific detailing. Then use a cloth to remove any excess dust and prepare the surface to wax. Chalk paint can also be left un-distressed to create a more modern finish.

Wax layer 

The final clear wax layer is an important part of finishing chalk paint, as it helps protect the look. Either use a wax brush or a lint-free rag to apply the wax. Simply dip or paint the wax onto the finished paint and then massage and buff it. The wax will help enhance the paint’s look, while dark wax can add a more vintage look. Walls won’t need a wax finish, but furniture could use a wax or lacquer finish to protect them.

How much does it cost?

Depending on where you choose to buy your chalk paint, the prices and available sizes will vary. You can buy sizes in either 120 ml for samples or one-litre tins on the official Annie Sloan website. You can also find stocks of chalk paint wax or floor lacquer and different brushes and tools. The paint itself costs about $35 per quart, but that cost will vary for different stores and brands. The sizes sold are typically enough for one project, such as finishing a dresser. As with any paint, chalk paint also has a shelf life and should be used within one year of being opened.

Chalk paint recipes 

If you’re a particularly enthusiastic DIYer, you can also create your own chalk paint at home. Keep in mind that it may dry differently and have a different shelf life than store-bought, so be sure to use it quickly. The best part about DIYing your chalk paint is that you can make exactly what you need, whenever you need it.

Recipe #1

All you’ll need is:

  • Plastic paint pails
  • 1/3 cup flat latex paint

Without the sheen, this will help create the finished matte look.

  • 1 cup cool water
  • 1/3 cup plaster of Paris

You can buy this in most hardware or building supply stores.

  • Stir sticks

Simply mix 1 cup of the flat latex paint with 1/3 each of cool water and plaster of Paris. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth and completely incorporated, and voila! Your own, homemade chalk paint, ready to use. This recipe will create enough for one project or one coat on a standard dresser.

Keep in mind that if you are making a coloured chalk paint, the plaster of Paris will slightly fade the colour. Simply add a bit more coloured latex to even out the shading.

Recipe #2

Another popular DIY chalk paint recipe uses calcium carbonate in the mixture. Adding calcium carbonate helps create a smoother and more velvet-like finish. For this recipe, all you need is:

  • Plastic paint pails
  • Stir sticks
  • 2 tablespoons of calcium carbonate powder
  • You can buy this at most health food stores.
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons of plaster of Paris
  • 1 tablespoon of warm water
  • 1 cup of flat latex paint

Mix the calcium carbonate powder and warm water until combined, adding more water if it’s too thick. Then add in the latex paint and stir everything together. The optional plaster of Paris is if you want to make a more durable chalk paint finish. In that case, mix the powders first, then add two cups of latex and combine.

Talk to the pros

If you’re still a little unsure about chalk paint or stuck on what colour to choose, the official Annie Sloan website has some help. She has various tips and tricks, recommended techniques, and even inspiration from other DIYers. Since chalk paint differs from other paints, use a spare piece of wood to practice a few strokes. It’s a quick learning curve, so you’ll be a pro in no time. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to contact or call any painting professionals to help or offer some guidance. You can’t beat professional expertise, so don’t hesitate to ask once you have some ideas in mind.

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Choosing the best materials for your deck

Adding a new deck to your home is a great investment and way to boost your home’s value. Traditionally, wood decks have been the go-to choice of material, but that has changed over the years. Now, with so many options available like composite and PCV, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Follow this guide for a breakdown of choosing the best decking materials.

Benefits of a new deck 

Installing a new deck may be a major project, but it guarantees to bring significant benefits. Adding functional living space to any home is always a smart project, especially for an outdoor space. By adding a deck, your home gains a new area to entertain, relax, cook, or just enjoy the outdoors. It can just as easily be designed to complement your home’s style and enhance how you use the home too.

As for value and ROI, decks boast high boosts and returns on both. According to Remodeling Magazine’s cost vs value report, a wood deck can recoup as much as 72% of the cost. Composite decks can recoup upwards of 67% of the cost. That means that your home’s value can go up by between $9,000 or $10,000 with a new deck.

Factors to consider first 

The deck materials you choose will play a major role in the cost and ROI of a deck, but most will easily recoup around 70% of their value. Before looking at materials there are a few other factors to consider. These may contribute to final costs breakdowns, but they’ll also help narrow down the final choice of material based on things like maintenance requirements and looks.

Budget and cost-effectiveness 

Any renovation or construction work will always start with creating a budget. Once you know your price range, it’ll be easier to narrow down your options. Part of budgeting for a deck specifically should also include factoring in any extra additions or features. These can include railings, pergolas for shade, or alternatively extra maintenance expenses. You should be prepared for the cost of and frequency of maintenance your new deck will require.

In addition to a budget, cost-effectiveness should also be carefully considered. If you choose a cheaper material that ends up costing more to repair or replace sooner, it’s not a good investment. Investing in something more expensive now, though, can save more in the long run. Remember, if you want to see a high ROI on your deck, consider the factors that will affect that. If you plan to sell down the road, choose a material you can enjoy now and benefit from later. If you are selling soon, though, choose a cost-effective material that also appeals to buyers. Once you know each material’s cost and value, it’ll be easier to choose the right type.


How much care and upkeep do you want to have to put into your new deck? Do you mind a little work, or do you want a care-free material? This is all a matter of personal choice.

Wood decks are the most common type of material used, but they do require more maintenance. Depending on the type of wood you choose, that care will vary. For example, cedar decks can be left without a finish to allow them to slowly age to a gray colour. Other woods will need to be stained and refinished every few years, but that does give the option of choosing a new stain colour. Alternative materials, such as PVC, can look just as great, but without any maintenance.


The way your deck looks plays just as big a role in its value as the material you choose. Composite decking can be purchased in a range of colours, like brown, white, and grey, and still mimic the look of real wood with a wood grain texture. Different grades of real wood will have different styles and features. Higher grades are knot-free, some species have noticeable grain patterns, while others like redwood have prominent colouring. The busier the wood, the more traditional and aged design it will provide.

Cleaner and purer wood grades offer a more classic and sleek appearance. Before choosing a material based on its benefits alone, take the time to look at different styles. Look online to see what type of deck appeal to you the most. Take the time also to consider your own home, and what materials or colours are present. Then, you can either complement it with a similar style or contrast with something new.

Infographic - Choosing the best materials for your deck

Deck materials 

With the budget and considerations in mind, it’s time to discuss the materials. All decking material will fall into one of two categories: wood or alternative. Wood decks refer to a variety of different species that each offers their own styles and price ranges. The alternative category includes materials such as composite, aluminum, and PCV decking. Keep in mind that prices will also vary depending on whether the installation is DIYed or done by a professional.

Wood deck materials 

Wood is commonly used for decking, as it provides a traditional, warm appearance that many homeowners enjoy. Depending on the species, some wood will require more maintenance than others. These are among the most popular species for wood decks:

Pressure Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber is usually pine, infused, or ‘pressure treated’ with a chemical that helps preserve the wood. The chemical can increase the lumber’s resistance to moisture, insects, and rot. This can extend the lifespan of your new deck. It’s widely used by homeowners due to its affordability, low maintenance, and appeal to DIYers. Unlike natural wood, it’s is easier to fasten with screws and cut.

Cost: Pressure-treated lumber is far less expensive than natural wood alternatives like cedar and redwood. It can cost around $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot. If you’re going with this option, avoid the cheapest varieties as they are typically more likely to warp and crack over time.

Maintenance: Pressure-treated wood does not require painting or staining to maintain it’s durability. That is only necessary if you wish to change the colour. Because of the chemical in the wood, some homeowners choose to apply a sealer to the surface to minimize exposure. Otherwise, all that is required to keep it looking good is a pressure wash at the start of the season.

Appearance: Pressure-treated lumber looks like normal wood. When it’s new and hasn’t been exposed to the sun and weather, it might have a slight green tint to it. That is the chemical in the wood. Like cedar and other natural woods, it will fade in time. If you wish to enhance its appearance, you can do so with staining or painting it.


Traditionally, cedar is a top choice among the best decking materials. It naturally resists moisture absorption so it won’t become warped or damaged. Insects, rot, and decay are also not problems, as cedar naturally resists these as well. With the right care and maintenance, cedar can easily last between 15–20 years.

Cost: The type of grading will determine what price range cedar falls into. High-grade cedar, without knots, is very popular but also the most expensive. Lower-grade cedar, ones with more knots, fall into the lower end of prices. Cedar decking ranges between $3.75 and $20.00+ per square foot, depending on the grade.

Maintenance: Thanks to its natural resistance, cedar needs relatively little maintenance. If you do not wish to stain it, it will fade into a silvery grey colour. Twice a year, ideally in spring and fall, take the time to clean and inspect the deck. Only use a power washer if you have a stronger grade of cedar; otherwise, it may cause damage. Instead, use a soapy water mix and regular garden hose to clean the deck. If the you have chosen to stain your cedar, and stain starts to fade, reapply a new coat every 3–4 years.

Appearance: Cedar decks are typically made from the common western red cedar, which boasts warm, earthy tones. Different cedar gradings will create a more rustic, traditional style, with more knots and grain patterns. Otherwise, knot-free cedar will offer a cleaner, more modern look. As mentioned, cedar will naturally fade to grey if it is not stained regularly.


Like cedar, redwood is another top contender when it comes to the best decking materials. Redwood also naturally produces tannins and oils that resist insects and prevents rot and decay. Even without any staining, redwood will continue to maintain its vibrant, red colouring. Most notably, though, it has a low shrink rating, so there is no risk of the wood splitting. A well-maintained redwood deck can last upwards of 30 years.

Cost: Depending on the redwood grade and its availability, the cost can range anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 per square foot.

Maintenance: Redwood will need the same basic upkeep and care as cedar decks. Sweep off any debris or dirt to keep the redwood clean. An annual wash and scrub will further keep your deck clean and help maintain its appearance. Apply a finish every few years to help protect its colour and prevent any natural weather fading.

Appearance: As its name suggests, redwood offers a unique appearance that is different from any other wood species. Its colours can range from light browns to deep, rich reddish browns that many homeowners and buyers admire. Different grading will also affect the look of a redwood deck. Lower grades will have more streaks of sapwood and more knots, giving it a more natural look. Higher grading will be free of knots and made of robust heartwood, for a flawless, luxurious style.

Alternative deck materials

While wood offers a traditional and warm style, not all homeowners want high-maintenance decks. Instead, there are alternative decking materials that provide either low or no maintenance upkeep. Most materials can still resemble the look of wood, while other materials provide an eco-friendly alternative. Similar to wood, there are many available options for alternative materials.


Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a man-made material that uses only recycled materials. The biggest benefit of this is that there is no risk of any damage from moisture, mould, or mildew. Most PVC is also protected against stains and weathering, so it’s the perfect choice for care-free enjoyment. PVC can also easily last between 10-25 years.

Cost: PVC is generally a less expensive option than wood and will cost between $5 to $13 per square foot.

Maintenance: The only maintenance needed is optional cleaning or sweeping off any debris. A simple water wash with the garden hose or pressure washer will clear away any dirt, and annual inspections will help catch and prevent any damage.

Appearance: PVC can easily be customized with different colours and styles to complement any home. The most common appearance is to have it resemble the look of wood. It will, however, resemble higher-grade wood without knots and clean, tight grain patterns.


Often compared to PVC, composite wood is one of the top contenders against real wood. Composite is a blend of wood fibres and recycled plastics, making it both eco-friendly and extremely durable. It resists everything from fading, scratching, rot, and warping as well as insects and splinters. For families with children or pets, this is the perfect material. As for its lifespan, composite can easily last between 25 to 30 years.

Cost: Composite does cost more than wood and other alternative materials, and ranges between $12 to $22 per square foot. Compared to real wood, though, composite can easily pay for itself in a few years as there are no maintenance costs.

Maintenance: Despite having wood fibres, composite decks only require minimal attention. Aside from a soapy wash and sweep now and again, there isn’t any other work needed.

Appearance: Thanks to the addition of wood fibres, composite is able to resemble wood more realistically than PVC. The colours can range from redwood’s earthy colours to the richer browns of Ipe or mahogany. You can also choose from colours like white and grey. Woodgrain patterns and even knots can also be added and customized for a more realistic design.


Compared to other types of deck materials, aluminum is the lightest choice. Its lightness doesn’t compromise its durability, as it’s also one of the strongest materials. As a metal, there will never be any risk of warping, shrinking, mould, insects, or even rust. Aluminum is also completely water-resistant, so water damage or spills will never be an issue. Despite being a metal, aluminum is a fantastic thermal conductor, so you can still go barefoot in the summer without worry.

Cost: Depending on the material, aluminum can really range in cost. Around $7.00 to $20.00+ per square foot. Without any added maintenance expense and with its many benefits, though, aluminum is still a top contender.

Maintenance: Aluminum is one of the maintenance-free materials since it is resilient against most damage. The only work required is a basic sweep or wash now and again to keep it clean and ready for summer.

Appearance: Like most alternative materials, aluminum can be made to resemble the look of wood. Otherwise, it will look a little industrial. It is also readily customized in various colours and styles that easily complement any home design.

Added deck features

Aside from the materials used to build a deck, the same materials can be used for extra features. Railings, for example, are one of the most common deck additions and often required if the deck is a certain height off the ground. The best materials for railings are generally aluminum or wood. Both materials can be made to match your new deck or customized as focal features that draw the eye.

Pergolas, as well, are beautiful additions and ones that can provide shade in the summer months and a privacy wall can provide both shade and privacy if you live in a busy neighbourhood. Whatever features you choose to add, a good rule of thumb is to make it the same material as the deck. That way, not only will they match, but you already know what the costs will be, and any necessary maintenance.

DIY or pro 

If you have the right experience, time, and skill, a deck can be done as a DIY project. Otherwise, when it comes to ensuring quality and value, always hire a pro. You get the skills and guaranteed workmanship of a professional, but also their design help. A professional can help with factors such as where to build the deck or what added features would look best. They’ll also handle any necessary building permits and ensure your deck is built to local building code requirements.

Find RenovationFind certified deck builders today!

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A Guide To Decluttering Your Home

This summer, you may be spending a lot more time at home. Spending more time at home gives you more opportunities to work on decluttering and organizing the spaces frequently used by you and your family. Consider a few of our tips to achieve a cleaner and more organized house this summer.

Create A Sorting System

Before you start the decluttering process you should create a sorting system. A sorting system is a perfect way to organize your clutter. It allows you to create piles of items you want to keep and piles of items you may want to get rid of.

Get Rid of the Clutter

Next, you should get rid of the clutter. Once you have your pile of the items you want to get rid of, its time to actually get rid of these items. Decide whether they need to be thrown away or if they can be donated or sold. Don’t be afraid to get rid of these items and ask yourself the question, “Have I used this in the past year?”

Clean and Organize Drawers

Its common to clean your home by stuffing your drawers. Instead, take time to declutter these drawers. If you have multiple cluttered drawers, go one at a time.

Declutter Your Garage

Organize your garage for added storage around your home. Installing shelves in your garage is the perfect way to begin organizing your home. If you would like to add storage in your garage then call Handyman Connection.

Install Shelving

Just like the shelving in your garage, Handyman Connection can add shelving in other places in your home, like your laundry room, mudroom or basement. All of these places are a great way to add storage and creates a more organized home.

Call or text your local Handyman Connection office for home shelving installation.

View our Guide to Decluttering Your Home Infographic Below

A Guide to Decluttering Your Home - Handyman Connection

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Water filtration: great benefits for your home and health

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the water you drink from your tap? Bacteria, mineral deposits, chemicals, and other contaminants could be in your tap’s drinking water. If this concerns you, water filters can keep your home and health safe.

Ritz Mechanical Services Edmonton is a professional, family-owned plumbing company. They share the health and home benefits of adding a water filtration system:

What impurities are removed?

Water filters help clean water of any impurities and contaminants, while still leaving behind healthy minerals. Generally, tap water is safe to drink, but adding a filter is an added safety measure. If you notice your water smells or taste like chlorine, it might bother you. Things such as lead, iron, mercury, chemicals, or chlorine are present in unfiltered water. A buildup of these minerals is what leads to either minor or severe health concerns. Other impurities that are filtered out can include traces of dirt or silt.

What are the health risks and benefits?

In small amounts, these contaminants aren’t dangerous, but when ingested in more significant amounts, they become a problem. In severe cases and over longer periods, gastrointestinal diseases can even develop due to ingesting high levels of contaminants. With that in mind, Canada does follow a strict drinking water guideline when it comes to the maximum amount of contaminants and water quality. Filtered water, however, provides an added level of security when it comes to your health. It also affects the taste of the water, which is sometimes the preferred reason for homeowners to choose filtered.

The benefits of filtered water start with a cleaner smell and taste by removing the excess minerals. Healthy minerals such as magnesium, fluoride, calcium, and zinc are still able to pass through a filter. These minerals help your body stay healthy, protect against toxins, and encourage water absorption into the body. They can also help prevent any limescale buildup on your faucets throughout your home.

Types of water filters

Water filters can be as simple as a pitcher with a built-in filter that you refill and use as necessary. Other filters, though, are full home systems that clean water everywhere in your home. These are ideal for your health, but purified water is also better for cleaning. For full home systems, there are two main systems: carbon filters or reverse osmosis systems.

Carbon filters: These are a great solution if your water tastes and smells like chlorine, and you want to remove that. The filters specifically absorb and remove chlorine, as well as possible pesticides or herbicides in the water. That leaves the water smelling and tasting clean and clear once again.

Reverse osmosis filters (RO): RO filters, however, offer both a sediment and carbon filter. The smaller sized filters can easily catch even more contaminants and minerals and remove them from the water. In addition to removing bad smells or tastes, they leave the water much cleaner of other possibly harmful particles. They also leave a crisp taste similar to bottled water, which many people tend to prefer.

Which is right for you?

When it comes to water filtration systems, there is no right or wrong choice. It’s a matter of personal choice and what you want to have filtered from your water. If the smell and taste of chlorine is the problem, a full home carbon filter will help. For a full and well-rounded water filter system that removes any possible traces of contaminants and harmful minerals, reverse osmosis is the recommended choice. The best way to know is to have your water tested to see what is present in it. Once you know that, you can call in the professionals to install your new water purification system.

Plumbers in Edmonton

For 20 years, Ritz Mechanical Services has prided itself on providing quality service and care. As a full-service plumbing company, they offer everything from small repairs and installations, to new housing needs. Your home’s safety and your own peace of mind are their tops goals, no matter the job.

Contact Ritz Mechanical Services for quality service!

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Questions to ask about home automation

Technological advances are ever on the move to make life easier, including a homeowner’s life. Home automation allows you to control things like lights, temperature, home theatre systems, and home security from your smart devices. There are a lot of features to choose from, and some might suit you better than others. Before you install home automation, ask yourself these questions to help narrow down your needs.

Interfusion Media in Winnipeg is a custom electronics company that specializes in integrating home automation. They share more:

What do you want from home automation?

Home automation can easily range from one aspect or room to including your entire home. The best way to choose is to decide where you would benefit most from a new system. If entertainment is your focus, then a customized home theatre with voice control may be the right pick. It can also be little things such as automatic blinds and lighting or smart heating and cooling to save money! Security systems are another popular system for automation. A push of a button can show you who’s at the front door or let you automatically lock any doors from your phone. Start with what’s most important to you or ask a professional what would benefit your home the most.

What is your budget?

Home automation can help with monthly energy savings, but the upfront cost is still a big investment. Before you settle on a system, establish your budget first. Ask a professional installer what the costs will be and what to expect from your long-term savings. Once you know that, you can work together to create the perfect budget. Home automation can also be installed in stages, so even if you don’t have the money now, you can still invest in one system at a time. Knowing your budget will also help your contractor work within that to ensure you save money.

What is the best design or layout? 

Whether a panel on the wall or an app on your tablet or phone, home automation should be easy to access. When you choose a new system, also decide where in your home it will go. The best layouts should maximize convenience, no matter what room you are in. The best way to ensure that is to talk with your contractor about design and layouts. They’ll take your needs and lifestyle into consideration and help plan the best design for your new system.

What can your home support?

Some home automation parts will run on battery power or through wall sockets, but others need new wiring. Any existing home is compatible with home automation, but consider what will need to be rewired. Smart thermostats or security systems, for example, will need to be wired into your home. Others may need to have power outlets added to nearby locations to work conveniently. Outlet location is also important so that you don’t have wires and cables everywhere. Have a professional contractor talk you through the installation process, so you know what to expect. Another factor is how stable and strong is your Wi-Fi system. Since most home automation runs off Wi-Fi, you want to ensure that yours is up to the task!

Home Automation in Winnipeg

At Interfusion Media, they pride themselves on providing custom solutions for each of their customers. By listening to your specific needs, they are able to tailor each service perfectly to your home. Whether that means a new security system, whole-home A/V control, or something else, Interfusion Media is the company to call.

Contact Interfusion Media today for a quality of life home automation!

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Click to Find >>>> Home Automation in Winnipeg.

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Major renovations with long-term benefits

Typically, the decision to renovate comes down to two reasons: renovating for yourself or renovating to improve your home’s resale value. But, if you’re renovating with long-term benefits in mind, then these two reasons can be turned into one. With the right upgrades and design changes in mind, your renovation can benefit you now and long into the future.

Greystone Custom Homes in Calgary is a professional home renovation company. They share some major renovations ideas that also have long-term benefits:

Go for a more open and connected feel

If your home has lots of walls and narrow doorways that make everything feels closed off, consider taking out some walls. Open floor concepts are not only a popular trend now, but it’s practical for future needs. Open and connected spaces mean it is easier to navigate and move around your home. Widening doorways as well will make it easier to navigate through, especially for those with mobility issues. It is also visually much more appealing. Narrow doorways create a confined feel, while wide entrances are open and welcoming.

Don’t leave ‘dead space’

By ‘dead space,’ it means rooms or areas of your home that don’t have or aren’t serving any purpose. If you have lots of bedrooms, but your kids have all moved out, it’s time to do something with their old rooms. If you have side-by-side bedrooms, consider taking out the wall to create one large, new room. Either you can create a new sitting room, a large guest room or consider moving your master bedroom down to the main level. Stairs may not be an issue now, but having to climb up and down flights of stairs may become a problem long-term.

You can also add storage beneath the stairs for easy access and increased storage areas or even consider putting in a small office nook. Find more inspiration and ideas for how to make the most of any dead space in your home.

Renovate your bathroom for accessibility 

Bathroom renovations are popular as it is, so if you planning to renovate it anyway, make sure it has accessible upgrades. Things such as turning your bathtub into a walk-in shower or lowering the toilet, make it easier for visiting family or future needs. A walk-in shower also opens up more space, so you have more room to maneuver in your bathroom. Also, consider installing bars or a bench in the shower both for added safety but also to enjoy those spa-like perks!

Likewise, invest in those eco-friendly options now, instead of down the road. Not only is it practical but saving money long-term is always a nice perk.

Make your kitchen design-friendly for all ages 

Popular kitchen renovations usually include increasing storage, upgrading appliances or even opening the layout. These are all great but also keep in mind design upgrades that work for any age. Rounded corners, slide-out shelving or pull-out cutting boards are both children safe, but also friendly to elders. Add flooring that is both easy to clean and non-slippery for another lifestyle and age-friendly boost. Also consider installing lower storage options, so that you don’t have to reach up high or struggle to pull heavy storage doors. 

Major Renovations in Calgary

Greystone Custom Homes is a professional renovation company that offers entire home or specific room renovations. Their goal is to turn your dreams into reality, and they pride themselves on doing just that. With only the best quality service and care, you won’t go wrong choosing Greystone Custom Homes.

Don’t hesitate to contact them today for your next renovation needs!

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More than an online directory, we are Western Canada’s fastest growing marketing platform for promoting and connecting the best trades, service, and home improvement companies to homeowners.

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