(ARA) - At one time or another, everyone has found herself racing around the house with an armful of cleaning supplies, scrambling to tidy up for unexpected guests. But the prospect of surprise visitors need not cause a full-scale panic.
Cleaning and organizing expert Donna Smallin offers practical tips for completing a vigorous, efficient cleaning routine when every minute matters.
* First things first. To make a great first impression, start with the entryway and then follow the path your guests will take. Think entryway, living area and bathroom. This is no time to reorganize your sock drawer. If you can, close doors or pronounce the upstairs or other section of the house off limits to guests, and you've cut your cleaning job in half.
* Conquer clutter. An uncluttered entryway is warm and inviting. Do a quick lap around your entryway and living area with a laundry basket and/or trash can, tossing junk mail and collecting out-of-place items to be organized later.
* Speed-dust at eye level. Microfiber picks up dirt like nobody's business. Grab a microfiber cleaner for a quick "dust-busting" of your bookshelves, lamp shades and coffee tables.
* Vacuum just the high-traffic areas. When you want to impress guests, nothing freshens up a room like clean carpet and rugs, and an ergonomically designed vacuum can make spontaneous carpet cleaning easier.
"I'm loving the PROlite Multi Cyclonic vacuum from BISSELL, which offers all the power of a full-sized upright unit, but in a sleek, lightweight design that makes it easier to use, lift and move from room to room," Smallin says.
* Speed clean mirrors. In the bath room, lightly wet a microfiber cloth and squeeze it dry to clean mirrors and glass surfaces.
* Give furniture a facelift. Take just two minutes to fluff sofa cushions and pillows to breathe a little freshness into your living room.
* Make countertops sparkle. Spritz kitchen and bathroom counters with a freshly scented all-purpose cleaner and quickly wipe away spots, crumbs and everyday grime.
* Rally the troops. When time is of the essence, divide and conquer. While one family member is vacuuming, a younger one can follow behind, wiping down baseboards. Or while one is taking out the garbage, the other can load the dishwasher. One way to motivate family members for these situations is to instigate a regular power cleaning competition. Make a game of timing how long it takes to tackle key cleaning chores, and you'll have your own family SWAT team ready to go when guests are on their way.
* Prepare for future speed-cleaning sprees. Speed cleaning is even easier when you're prepared, so get your supplies in order now. Keep a caddy of cleaning products ready to go, and you can save precious seconds when guests are en route. You may even want to stash cleaning supplies in spaces around your home so you can tidy up on the fly. Small cleaning supplies can easily be hidden behind the TV, behind books on bookshelves, in drawers, or even under your sofa.
Master this fast and furious cleaning routine and you'll always be ready to take on last-minute houseguests. You may even have time to give yourself a manicure before they arrive.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - When you look out your window, what do you see: the cool gray steel of high-rise buildings ... or vast, open expanses of green land? You don't have to stick to an interior style that mimics your surroundings; especially if it doesn't suit your taste.
Whether you live in a penthouse or a farmhouse, you can create rooms that make you feel as if you're a city-dweller as soon as you step inside.
Open floor plan
The first step to thinking like an urbanite is coming up with creative ways to make small spaces appear larger. An open floor plan is a great way to achieve this. Take a look at your main living areas to determine where improvements can take place.
Is there a room that is being under-utilized? Consider removing a dividing wall to connect it with the adjoining space. Do you have narrow doorways between rooms? Expand these openings and remove doors, creating wider passageways. Is there untouched wall space? Take a cue from new glass-exterior loft spaces, like Werner Aisslinger's LoftCube, and add more windows on exterior walls, or even create window-like openings between rooms to join spaces and create a sense of community.
"Contemporary urban design is all about connectivity," says Judy Riley, vice president of design at Moen Incorporated. "In today's modern home, we want to connect with our family, our surroundings and the outside world. To achieve this, we are knocking down walls and breaking the barriers built by earlier generations."
If you don't have the time - or budget - for more construction-intense projects, there are steps you can take to create the illusion of larger rooms. Choose smaller furniture and position it in a way that leaves as much floor space open as possible. Forgo large, heavy curtains and go for more airy fabrics or light-emitting shades to create a sense of illumination and openness. Choose lighter colors in a similar palette for your furniture, walls and floors.
To take your place from dreary and dated to city chic, incorporate contemporary elements into your decor. Start by adding some standout modern pieces in each room, then build your home's look around those unique items.
The kitchen and the bathroom are arguably the two most-used rooms in the house, seen by family members and guests alike. Let fashion and function go hand-in-hand with well-placed modern decor that serves a purpose in your home.
In the kitchen, the sink is the hub of all activity, used for everything from prepping dinner to filling your morning coffee pot or water bottle. To make a statement at your sink, add a faucet with geometric styling, like the 90-degree pullout kitchen faucet from Moen. With clean, contemporary styling, this single-handle faucet features an ergonomically designed pullout wand with multiple spray options, including stream, rinse and pause. The 90-degree pullout kitchen faucet is available in LifeShine Classic Stainless and Chrome finishes, to coordinate with contemporary kitchen fixtures and appliances. Because of its clean, single-handle design, the faucet pairs well with solid surface countertops and undermount sink styles.
In large living spaces, re-think traditional furniture and give it a modern twist. Instead of the everyday lumpy, space-hogging recliner, try a contemporary lounge chair. Rather than massive entertainment centers and bookshelves, try a hanging storage center that adds color and light to your room without taking up precious floor space. Or, try bookshelves that are built into the wall - housed between studs or simply on wall-mounted shelving units that allow for use of the floor space beneath.
Your average city-dweller doesn't have the time or the space to accumulate home-cluttering extras. "The city is full of noise and disorder," Riley says. "Modern urban home design calls for a separation from the busyness of the outside world."
To mimic this minimalist approach in your own home, consider the number of extra gadgets that clutter your kitchen. For instance, do you really need a handheld blender, a countertop blender, a margarita maker and smoothie maker? When was the last time you used your fondue pot, quesadilla maker, juicer or waffle iron? Could you make do without some of these items, clearing precious countertop and cabinet space? If so, log on to freecycle.org and give the unused items away to someone who may actually use them.
Once you've removed what you don't need, you can create the attention and openness that your modern decor deserves. Treat your home as an art gallery, where the spotlight is on a small number of contemporary statement pieces, not scattered among an over-abundance of objects.
You don't have to pack up and move to the city to evoke an urban feeling in your home decor. Think open, modern and sleek, and you can create a metropolitan vibe, no matter how far from the city you choose to live. For more information about the 90-degree kitchen collection from Moen, visit moen.com or call (800) BUY-MOEN (800 289-6636).
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - With all the bending, lifting and stretching involved, gardening can be a fun and effective workout - if you know how to make the most of it.
Stacy Walters, registered kinesiotherapist, fitness director and creator of the Fit to Garden program, provides tips on how to turn a day of lawn and garden care into a day of healthy exercise.
Like any other workout activity, gardening requires a warm-up to prepare the heart, muscles and joints. Begin with five to 10 minutes of stretching the legs, ankles, arms, shoulders and wrists as well as light aerobic activity to help reduce the risk of injury and decrease soreness.
Time spent in the garden can be relaxing, and it's important to make sure you're in a comfortable position when planting or weeding. To keep from getting stiff, try alternating between squatting, kneeling on a pad and sitting on a stool. Remember to keep your work close to you and tighten your abdominal muscles to protect your back when you reach and move.
When lifting heavy bags of soil or mulch, remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, tighten your abdominal muscles and bend at the hips and knees, not at the waist. This activity helps strengthen the upper body and the abdominal muscles.
Mulching is an important step when gardening and an excellent way to help conserve water in your garden, prevent weeds and keep your outdoor spaces looking neat. Scotts NatureScapes Advanced is a color-enhanced mulch made of natural forest products that comes in a variety of colors and textures to maintain moisture and create a groomed landscape all year long.
To mulch efficiently, use a wheelbarrow and stand close to your work when shoveling. Scoop and lift the mulch with a shovel while keeping stomach muscles tight and avoid twisting the spine.
Raking is another way to build upper body strength, but make sure to vary your movement during the task. If you've been raking right to left, change direction and alternate arm and hand positions so one arm isn't doing most of the work. When you're finished, use the proper bending and lifting technique to move the product of your labor.
Gardening cool down
Following a garden workout, be sure to cool down. Stretching the hips, hamstrings, back, neck and shoulders will help balance muscle groups that may have been overused and decrease post-gardening soreness.
In addition to the physical health benefits of working in a garden, multiple studies have shown the mental and emotional benefits of creating and working in green spaces. Gardens have a calming effect and can help relieve stress, improve attention skills and reduce feelings of anger, fear and aggression.
For more information on garden workouts, visit Scotts.com or OutdoorLivingWithStacy.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - Getting ready for winter often means changing to warmer clothes and taking stock of mittens and hats. But it's also a good idea to prepare your home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system for winter, too - especially if you want to keep energy bills down.
Heating can account for almost half of the average family's winter energy bill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Taking a few steps now will help your furnace and other heating components operate more efficiently throughout the winter, helping you save money. American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offers the following tips for winter home readiness:
Program your thermostat. If you don't have a programmable thermostat, this is the year to get one. Resetting the temperature from a constant 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (perhaps during the day while you and your family are less likely to be home) can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent, according to energy.gov. Some models even allow you to pre-set different temperatures for every day of the week according to your family's schedules.
Seal heating and cooling ducts. Leaks in the ducts that move air within your system can be big energy wasters. Sealing the ducts that run through attics, crawl spaces, unheated basements and garages can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent. Use duct sealant or metal-backed tape to seal the seams and connections, and then wrap the ducts in insulation.
Upgrade to newer technology. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model. One furnace that exceeds the government's energy standards is the Freedom (R) 95 Comfort-R Variable-Speed Modulating Communicating Furnace. Made by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, it converts 95 percent or more of fuel you pay for into heat for your home. Instead of using on-again-off-again thermostat control, it uses temperature data from the thermostat to calculate its own heating cycle. It then adjusts the flame with a modulating valve for even, comfortable heat and precise fuel control. With the passage of the U.S. Economic Stimulus Bill, homeowners may be eligible for a tax credit if they purchase certain types of HVAC systems between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010. More information about the tax credit is available at www.americanstandardair.com and www.irs.gov.
Clean or replace filters. A dirty furnace filter can slow down the air flow in your heating system and make it work harder than necessary. Your furnace will work less hard, use less energy and last longer if you clean or replace filters monthly, or at minimum, every three months.
Schedule a winter checkup. As you schedule checkups to keep your family healthy, do the same for your home's heating system. An HVAC professional can perform a routine maintenance checkup to ensure all components of your heating and cooling system are operating properly and safely, and advise you on ways to improve energy efficiency. To locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer, visit the American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning online dealer locator at www.americanstandardair.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - Aging in place - updating one's home to accommodate changing needs and abilities as one ages - doesn't have to mean sacrificing a home's style and decor. From attractive lighting designed to work well for aging eyes to barrier-free shower stalls that compete in beauty and practicality with what you might find in a luxury community for those 55 and older, plenty of home modifications now make it possible to age in place gracefully and stylishly.
"It's no longer necessary to give up your home's good looks for a more institutional-looking appearance just to achieve a safer, more usable house," says Eric Kozak of Premier Care In Bathing, leading makers of walk-in baths. "You can age in place and retain the style that makes living in your home comfortable and safe, and maintain your independence at the same time."
With more than 78 million baby boomers growing older in the United States, aging in place - and how to do it well - is a hot topic for many homeowners. If you're planning ahead or thinking it's now time to update your home to accommodate changing needs, keep a few things in mind:
Kitchens and baths are commonly the most challenging rooms in the house for people, like many seniors, with mobility issues. Updating these rooms can go a long way toward helping you stay in and enjoy your own home for as long as possible. "Bathrooms, in particular, pose safety issues. Falls are one of the leading reasons seniors must go into nursing homes and most home falls occur in the bathroom," Kozak says.
When renovating your bathroom, focus on the important elements, including low-level entryways, accessible grab bars, easy grip faucets and showers with safety screens. Other elements include safer, slip-resistant flooring; brighter, more flexible lighting; and safe access to the shower or bathtub.
Walk in showers
Stepping in and out of a tub or shower is one of the riskiest times for people with mobility challenges. Appropriately placed grab bars - now available in designer colors and textures - can help improve safety in these high-risk areas. Another option that's high on safety and style is to replace a current shower or tub with a walk-in shower like those now offered by Premier Care In Bathing, whose walk-in bathtubs have made bathing safer and more convenient for thousands of Americans with mobility issues. The walk-in showers are a good option for wheelchair users or in rooms where a full-size tub is not practical.
Two size options, 48 inches and 60 inches, ensure convenience and luxury. A waist-high, folding screen, designed with proprietary technology, keeps water inside the shower and not on the bathroom floor. From the waist up, you can add your own decorative touch with the shower curtain design of your choice, hung on a gracefully curved rod like the ones found in quality hotel baths. Dual Delta showerheads provide the option of an overhead shower or a hand-held shower, and a safe and relaxing folding seat. Installation can often be done in just a day or two.
Visit www.premier-bathrooms.com or call (800) 578-2899 to learn more.
That tile floor that you adored in your 40s can be a slip hazard when you reach your 70s. In fact, any hard bathroom floor surface such as linoleum, vinyl or tile can put you at increased risk of slipping and falling. Carpeting might be a better option, one that is slip resistant and warmer and softer on the feet. Many manufacturers now offer materials that are attractive and able to repel moisture. If installing carpeting isn't practical for you, use area rugs with sticky backing to help ensure safe footing in high traffic areas, like in front of the commode, sink and bathtub.
Aging eyes not only need more light to see, they need better quality light, especially at night. Avoid dim lighting; older eyes need several times more light than younger eyes to see well, experts say. Increase the amount of light in your bathroom and consider using naturally brighter bulbs like compact fluorescent bulbs, which are also energy-efficient.
Be aware of glare, as well. Bright lights bouncing off all-white bathroom surfaces can create glare that makes it difficult to see and navigate for older people, especially at night when they may not be fully awake. If your bath is all white, paint the walls a light color in a finish that will help reduce glare. Use area rugs on white floors to help break up the expanse of white and reduce glare.
"Boomers aging in place will find more options than ever before to do so with style," Kozak says. "Safety should be your first concern, but you can also enjoy good style and beautiful design as well."
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - No matter what part of the country you live in, the fall and winter months can be downright abusive on your home. From frozen Minnesotans dropping heaps of water-logged clothing on the floor after digging out of five feet of snow, to tanned Floridians grinding gritty sand into their carpeting, every home takes a beating in the winter.
As harsh as we can be on our most expensive investment, a variety of easy and inexpensive precautions can greatly diminish the amount of winter wear and tear imposed on our homes.
A foot in the door
It all starts at the doorway. For northerners, winter means traipsing in and out of the house with mud, salt and snow on your shoes. And, being bundled up carrying groceries many times means you nudge the door open with those muddy boots, leaving scratched paint and stains on perhaps the most visible part of your home. A simple solution to this is investing in a durable kickplate.
Kickplates are available in a variety of sizes, finishes and quality. Choose something that complements the door's hardware (doorknob and knocker) and will be an appropriate size. Standard 6 1/2-foot doors should use the corresponding 34 inch wide by 6 inch tall kickplate. Larger doors allow for taller and wider plates.
Baseboards that say "bring it on"
Baseboards are often overlooked until they are so dirty and worn that they stand out like a sore thumb. By design, baseboards are meant to preserve the lower portion of walls and withstand normal bumps and scuffs. However, choosing an appropriate paint for these baseboards can make all the difference when it comes to durability.
Paints designed especially for heavy traffic and easy cleaning are best for baseboards. Look for interior latex paints infused with stain resistant materials. One paint manufacturer, Pratt & Lambert, actually offers a line of paint called Porcelain, which contains tiny porcelain particles that bond together in such a way that stains cannot penetrate the surface of the paint. And, because of the paint's strength, if dirt or spills do splash the surface, you can scrub the paint without damaging the finish.
Tile, laminate and wood flooring are incredibly easy to clean because they are not extremely porous. Carpet, on the other hand, is designed to be lush, meaning there are ample nooks, crannies and spaces for dirt and grime to hide.
Investing in a stain-resistant carpet cleaner that repels such substances from entering your carpet will maintain your carpet's vitality and cleanliness. Keeping do-it-yourself spot carpet cleaners on hand when minor spills occur is essential when entertaining. Just a few sprays and a little elbow grease will diminish stains and not put a damper on the party.
Slip and slide
Even through your house may have tile, laminate or wood floors, tracking outdoor substances such as muddy water or slush on them can add wear and tear, especially during the holiday season. And constantly cleaning up after guests' muddy footprints can be exhausting.
Simple carpet runners can help prevent these unsightly and potentially dangerous issues. Many retail stores sell solid-colored and seasonally styled carpet runners that have a non-skid backing and are machine washable. Placing a few of these in heavily trafficked areas will reduce damage to all types of flooring and will provide safe pathways for walking.
You might not think of it at first, but kitchens take quite a beating during the winter months. As the central point of congregation for holiday parties, dinners and simple evenings at home, kitchens see quite a bit of traffic during the winter.
Because of the increased use, kitchen cabinets endure a lot more bumps during the winter, but cabinet finishes can be spared with a few easy solutions. First, if your cabinets are not painted, apply a varnish that will act as a barrier against scuffing. If they are painted, reapply the color in a paint that is meant to withstand heavy traffic. A quality Purdy brush is critical to a flawless finish.
Any local hardware store should stock corner protectors. The edges of your kitchen cabinetry or islands often take the brunt of the damage because you have to maneuver around them. Wood or plastic corner protectors will help diminish this damage and can, if you like, be removed at the end of the winter.
These simple tips will protect some of your home's most frequently damaged areas, and help ensure a lasting durability.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - 'Tis the season to be shopping. And, as holiday shopping lists continue to grow with family, friends, co-workers and even teachers to buy gifts for, it's important to be a smart shopper and not only stretch your dollars but also find quality gifts for everyone on your list.
Mom expert Stacy DeBroff of MomCentral.com has mastered how to shop for the holidays stress-free while still managing to get thoughtful gifts everyone will appreciate. "This holiday season, you have to get creative when it comes to shopping for many people on a limited budget," says Debroff. "Even if you have just $5 or $10 dollars to spend on a person, there are great options out there; you just have to be wise about your purchasing decisions."
DeBroff's No.1 holiday shopping strategy is to be prepared and get organized for the hustle and bustle the season brings. She also suggests:
* Start early and stock up. Nothing's worse than rushing into the mall, fighting traffic and crowds for last-minute gifts. When you find a gift you really like, consider giving that same gift to more than one person. Buy several, wrap them right away, and store them until the time of gift giving comes around.
* Call ahead. If there's a particular hot gift you're looking to buy, like the latest kids' toys, call the store first and make sure it's in stock. Also, call ahead to verify store shopping hours. Often during the holidays retailers will extend their store hours to accommodate shopper's busy schedules.
* Chip in together for big ticket items. Group gifting has become one of the latest shopping trends. In fact, 83 percent of women and 75 percent of men say they've participated in group gifting and plan to do so again this holiday season. Sears offers Givetogether a great online tool so you can gather together with friends and family to share in the cost of a great gift. From home electronics and appliances to jewelry, housewares and apparel, you will find the best selection and gift options for everyone on your list.
"For me, Givetogether is a better way to shop and makes it easier for families and friends to pool their money together to give a great gift with lots of thought behind it," says DeBroff. "This online shopping tool really taps the social power of the Internet to allow a group to give a more significant gift than they could manage individually."
Lastly, remember to spread the holiday cheer with acts of kindness as you shop. After all, that could be the greatest gift you give this season.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - If sneezing, sniffling and coughing are frequent sounds in your house, don't worry, you're not alone in trying to find ways to stop them.
An estimated 50 million people suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies in the United States, costing Americans nearly seven billion dollars annually, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
Asthma and allergy triggers - called allergens - accumulate in unexpected places throughout your home. Furniture, bedding, curtains, drapes and carpeting can each house dust mites, pet dander and outside allergens entering through the windows.
Here are some tips from appliance manufacturer LG Electronics to reduce the number of allergens in every room:
* Use washable floor mats, and run them through the laundry once a week to remove small food particles.
* Don't let damp towels pile up as mold and mites can spread quickly.
* Pet beds hold a lot of dander. Give them their own sleeping area somewhere in the house that isn't a bedroom. Wash the pet beds weekly to cut down on dander collecting.
* Make sure your wash cycle removes allergens. The LG SteamWasher with Allergiene cycle reaches a temperature of 131 F, which is recommended by the National Institute of Health to kill allergens, while still being gentle on fabrics. This cycle has been proven to remove more than 95 percent of household allergens like dust mites and pet dander from washable fabrics. It's the first washing machine to receive "asthma and allergy friendly" certification from AAFA.
In addition to reducing allergens, the SteamWasher is Energy Star rated, reducing bills as it saves consumers more than 8,000 gallons of water each year compared to conventional machines.
* Replace your mattresses every 10 years, and vacuum them regularly.
* Use washable slipcovers on couches if you have pets to help control pet dander. Run the slipcovers through a steam cycle regularly.
* Consider purchasing more products, including kids' toys and table linens, that are machine washable to help reduce the number of dust mites causing you to sniffle.
* Draperies can also harbor allergens. Use vertical blinds or other easy-to-clean window treatments, or wash and dry-clean fabric curtains once a month to keep the allergens to a minimum.
"While removing allergens like dust mites and pet dander in your house won't cure your allergies, it certainly will help you protect your family by reducing their exposure to these asthma and allergy triggers," says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs for AAFA . "By designing a special wash cycle that meets our standards, LG has created a tool that can help Americans in their efforts to reduce their exposure to allergens throughout the year."
Courtesy of ARAcontent
(ARA) - Whether you are thinking about selling your home or planning to stay put a few more years, some simple updates with an eye on detail can make a big impact both visually and financially.
As a seller, you want to get the most money for your home as quickly as possible. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so be sure it's a good one both inside and out. For those staying put, small changes can be the difference between a home you like and one you love.
Designing with doors
Some of the details homeowners should pay attention to include repainting a room, adding a chair rail and updating door and cabinet hardware. Another commonly overlooked and cost-effective way to spruce up a home is to install new interior doors.
Unlike standard, plain flush doors, raised- and flat-panel molded interior doors add charm, style and personality to any home. They come in many styles, finishes and sizes.
"Interior doors play an important role in home decor," says Bob Merrill, president and CEO for Chicago-based CMI, which makes CraftMaster Interior Doors. "With advanced molded door technology, we can make doors with a range of panel configurations from clean, straight lines for contemporary styles to arched or curved tops for more elegant tastes. And, the finish can be flat and smooth, textured wood grain."
Beyond their functional role, doors also convey an initial impression of your home. The average home usually has around 20 interior doors. You also can replace standard, hollow doors with solid core doors to add weight and help keep noises in - or out.
Merrill adds, "Molded interior doors are engineered to resist swelling, shrinking, cracking and splitting, which is an inexpensive way to add value to your home. Plus, CraftMaster doors are green - they are made with sustainable materials, recycled content and low VOC primers."
Trim that lasts
Your home's curb appeal is important, whether you are putting out the "For Sale" sign or intend to retire in a neighborhood you love. A house that is nicely landscaped and has a welcoming driveway is always appealing. However, replacing any damaged or outdated exterior trim with new freshly painted trim is a great way to quickly spruce up your home from the outside.
Take a close look at your home's exterior trim. There is a good chance parts may be warped, split or cracked, particularly around windows and doors, at the corners and along the roofline. Termite damage is also a problem in many parts of the country.
An engineered wood trim, such as MiraTEC trim, lasts long and provides excellent resistance to moisture, rot, termites and temperature extremes. Plus, it has many green benefits.
"In today's tough economy, many homeowners are trying to add both value and personal style to their homes," says Merrill. "MiraTEC trim is as durable as PVC trim, yet costs about half as much and holds paint better. And, most fiber cement trim costs about one-third more than MiraTEC, is harder to cut and nail, and it absorbs much more water."
MiraTEC trim also is recognized in the building industry as a very eco-friendly product. It has a low impact on the environment, because it is made from sustainable materials and leftover wood that would simply rot or be sent to landfills, if left unused.
Whatever plans you have for your home, now is a good time to think about installing new interior doors or replacing exterior trim. You'll enjoy your house more and help add performance and value as well. To learn more about updating your home from the inside and out, visit www.craftmasterdoors.com or www.miratectrim.com. of ARAcontent
(ARA) - When it comes to brightening and freshening your home, it's smart to use natural light and passive ventilation. Unlike earlier plastic bubble skylights that faded and leaked, modern glass skylights are dependable and offer nearly endless options for functional decorating.
According to Roger LeBrun, product certification engineer with VELUX America, today's skylights, properly installed, don't leak. "Matched flashing systems and other improvements have done away with the number one fear of people who are considering cutting a hole in a perfectly good roof," LeBrun says.
Skylights are useful in all areas of the home but are particularly popular in bathrooms and kitchens. According to an American Standard survey, American homeowners say if they had a choice of accessories for the ultimate dream bathroom, the number one option would be a skylight to bathe the room with more natural light. Add the privacy factor of light from above, plus the passive ventilation available with venting skylights, and you've dramatically upgraded one of the most used rooms in the home at a very reasonable price.
Aside from the aesthetic benefits of balanced natural light, there are health-related considerations. Studies show that 20 percent of our population suffers varying degrees of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Individuals with SAD may experience depression, lower energy, increased appetite and a need for more sleep. SAD is directly linked to insufficient daylight.
There are also other light-related health considerations, particularly for older adults. To accommodate the adaptation of the aging eye, the amount of light required for visual acuity doubles for each 13 years after the age of 20, according to research by Ross A. McFarland, Ph.D., and M. Bruce Fisher, Ph.D., in a Harvard School of Public Health publication. More natural light equals better sight, especially for seniors.
Youngsters also benefit. Students perform significantly better in environments that are lit with natural rather than artificial light. A study directed by Heschong Mahone Group in California tracked test scores for 21,000 students in California, Colorado and Washington and found that learning rates were 26 percent higher in reading and 20 percent higher in math in rooms with the most natural light.
Low-E energy-efficient glass in modern, ENERGY STAR-qualified units, is durable, reduces external noises and won't discolor as did older plastic bubble skylights.
And skylights no longer just sit there. Light and heat gain or loss through skylights can be controlled as never before. Electric venting models are available with remote control, blinds, shades, awnings, insect screening and automatic rain sensors.
For simple, quick installation in areas where traditional skylights may not be the best solution, VELUX Sun Tunnel tubular skylights may be the answer. They admit passive light through highly reflective rigid or flexible tubing to go around obstructions between the roof and ceiling and provide abundant natural light through diffusers for hallways, bathrooms, pantries, walk-in closets or other smaller, confined areas.
For free information on the benefits of natural light and skylight selection, or for free house plans incorporating skylights, call (800) 283-2831 or visit veluxusa.com. For government information on window and skylight energy efficiency, visit energystar.gov, and for independent agency information visit nfrc.org or efficientwindows.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent