The long winter months can often leave busy bodies feeling cooped up in their house. And while there isn't usually much you can do outside, there is plenty of work you can do to the interior of your home. So let's take a look at a few easy home projects you can consider to keep yourself busy this winter.
Seal and Insulate
You most likely have the heat cranked up during the winter months. And while this is perfectly fine, it's not okay if your heat is leaving your house through cracks or poorly insulated areas. Not only is this costing you money on your energy bills, but it's also making your HVAC system work harder than it should have to. So why not take a few hours and go around your house to check for leaks. Around windows and doors are the main areas where leaks occur, so pay special attention to these areas. Insulation should be present throughout your house, but it's important to look closely at areas like the attic. Did you know that 40% of heat loss occurs in the attic? Because heat rises, this is usually where it ends up. So check your attic insulation for damage or holes. Sealing cracks and insulating your home will help keep your house comfortable all winter long.
Remodel Your Bathroom
For being one of the most-used rooms in the house, bathrooms often get neglected when it comes to maintenance. So if you look at your bathroom and it seems like it could use some attention, winter is the perfect time to focus on it. And you can decide how much effort you want to put into re-doing your bathroom. More than four out of five homeowners choosing to renovate decide to replace major features in their bathroom like flooring, sinks, and countertops. So you can go all out and completely remodel your bathroom and transform it into a brand new room. Or, if your bathroom just needs a little TLC, you can do some heavy cleaning. You'd be surprised how much of a difference re-grouting tile, adding a fresh coat of paint, and deep cleaning the tub can make. So whether you're completely re-doing the bathroom or just giving it a little extra care, bathroom projects are perfect for the winter.
Make Simple Repairs
Chances are, there are a few repair projects that need to get done around the house. And if you've been slacking off on them, winter is a great time to get things finished. Because what else are you going to do? If you have a leaking sink or other plumbing problems, those should take priority. Each American already uses 88 gallons of water at home every day, so if you have a leak you're using more water than normal. Make sure these plumbing problems get fixed sooner rather than later. Other small repair projects you can tackle could include repairing lose drawers, fixing sticky doors or windows, recaulking tile, or fixing that uneven chair leg. These projects may seem small, but they really do add up over time. So if you're looking for something to keep you busy during the winter, tackle these minor repair projects when you have the time.
Home projects don't always have to be massive renovations. Consider taking on a few of these projects to cure your winter blues and make your home better than ever before.
Sheds are a beautiful yet practical addition to any backyard. By offering a simple and easy way to expand your storage space, they allow many homes to handle more than would necessarily be expected. Even better, they can be customized and designed to suit your needs and aesthetic: if you're going for the farmhouse feel, paint it red and white; if you just need a safe place to store your gardening tools and outdoor equipment, include lots of shelving.
Although prefabricated sheds certainly exist (and The Rock Father™ has built them), they are rigid in design and style. If you've got handyman history and know your way around a tool belt, why not give it a go yourself? The following tips will help you build the backyard shed of your dreams.
- Plan It Out: The easiest way to get lost in a project is to try to keep it all together in your head. If you don't write down your planned design, you'll end up forgetting vital materials (like wood and screws) or buying things you won't end up using. Take the time to clearly outline your expectations; how big is your shed going to be, are you including siding and insulation, etc. Don't neglect to account for 25% extra storage space for future needs.
- Gather Materials: The complexity of your design determines how many --and what type of -- materials are required. You'll need to use a combination of nails and screws to ensure the joints are tight and secure; if you don't own a power drill, we'd recommend investing in one to make the process much faster. Standardized screw threads didn't exist until 1928, so imagine how frustrating it would've been to build a structure with screws that varied in size and shape because they were handmade!
- Clear A Path: Picking your shed location should have been one of the first things you did, now it's time to prepare the area. Remove any brush, plant life, or yard ornaments that may be nearby, giving the space a wide berth -- remember, you're going to be stomping in and around the area a lot in the coming days and you don't want anything to trip you. This is an excellent way to get the whole family (especially younger children) involved in the project; while mom or dad is cutting two-by-fours, the kids can help make sure the ground is open and even.
- Foundation Matters: In all buildings, the source of strength and stability lies in the foundation. When it comes to a backyard shed, you can't go wrong with cement. The material is durable, lasts for centuries (and actually gets stronger as time passes), and is extremely affordable.
Depending on your previous handyman experience, you might be interested in adding a few extra features. In mid-January, a photo album of lauded author Jane Austen's family was discovered when someone dug it out of storage and popped it up on eBay; if you want your shed to be suitable for storing family photos and archives, you're going to need to make sure that it is completely sealed. For example, the relative humidity must be below 65% in order to protect old documents from molding, and against insect activity. If you have the know-how needed to waterproof your shed (and are okay with the extra work it requires), the added effort will allow your shed to be used for any occasion.
Although the natural wood look is very popular these days, sometimes the best way to express yourself -- or to get your family involved in the complex construction process -- is to paint! Gather everyone together for a little painting party as the final step to your DIY shed, and then simply enjoy the extra space.
There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the U.S., which is more than in any other country. In comparison, there were only 68 million pet dogs the year 2000 across the United States.
Taking care of puppies and dogs is a lot of work -- for anyone. You'll need to bring a puppy in for vaccines every three to four weeks until they're at least 16 weeks old. You'll need to train your dog to prevent dog bites, which impact 4.5 million Americans each year. You'll have to walk, train, and feed your dog, and do so much more.
Even taking care of the healthiest dogs can be difficult. Add in some unfortunate cases, disabilities can amplify those difficulties.
Every year, there are more than 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States. Though it's much more common for humans to utilize wheelchairs, for dogs with mobility issues, these devices are great for allowing them to walk, play, run, and get the exercise they need.
According to VCA, thanks to technological advancements, dogs are living much longer today than ever before. With advanced age, however, comes physical changes to the body and mind that can alter day-to-day actives, including general mobility. Dogs are living much longer, which leads many to subsequently develop progressive degenerative conditions that can lead to disabilities and alter their activities of daily living (ADLs).
Exercise is imperative for all dogs in order to keep them in good physical condition and keep their weight down. Dogs who whine, bark, or are restless at night usually do so out of boredom and lack of exercise. With the aid of a wheelchair, these negative behaviors will typically diminish.
Here are a few different types of wheelchairs and support carts that dogs can benefit from:
Two-wheeled carts are great for dogs with rear limb weakness or for post-surgery rehabilitation.
Two-wheeled carts with extra support and front extensions that gives support to all four limbs.
Hand-held lifting devices are great for helping dogs get up and down stairs, into cars, and through doorways.
Walking aids, which can help support a dog's hindquarters.
It's important to keep in mind that most dogs who previously struggled with mobility issues relish the freedom that a wheelchair provides. Regardless, it typically only takes a few days for them to adjust. In some instances, however, some training will be needed in order to help your dog learn how to handle their new wheelchair. Also, there is a small percentage of dogs that will reject a wheelchair over and over again.
According to WLOS, Brevard High School students in North Carolina have designed a wheelchair for a puppy who has very little movement in her hind legs.
Monkey, the special needs puppy, is now able to roll around and comfortably get around.
Brevard High School student Courtney Meyer designed the wheelchair for Monkey after Sarah Rhymer, animal science teacher, brought the puppy to school.
"I have a real passion for animals, so when Miss Rhymer first showed me the dog and let me see her walk, I was so heartbroken," said Meyer, a senior.
Now, equipped with a new set of wheels and plenty of newfound confidence, Monkey is excited for her new life thanks to some quality engineering and compassion.
"I got to see her run for the first time down the hallway," added Meyer. "She hasn't been able to run, and I was just overwhelmed with joy being able to see her face light up."
After she graduates from high school, Meyer, who won Brevard's Person of the Week award, hopes to pursue a career in computer engineering at N.C. State. The wheelchair she designed has lightweight flex pipes and black joints, which were printed using the school's 3-D printer, as well as a repurposed tourniquet for support.
"You don't need a degree to help animals," Meyer said. "You don't need a vet degree or engineering degree to do something as simple as this."
Your home is your family's sanctuary, so you should have the tools to keep it as safe as possible. Start this year with safety at the forefront of your mind by participating in National Radon Action Month this January. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes this country-wide month of radon awareness and action to help protect against the dangerous gas.
This Holiday Wish Guide feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ & Positec Group.
When seeking out that perfect holiday gift, I always find that it's much easier to shop for kids than it is for grownups. I even make it hard for my loved ones to shop for me (and they know that they don't have to) because I don't really ask for anything and find it hard to come up with ideas. But since I'm always on the lookout for new products that will be useful and make life easier in new and sometimes unexpected ways, I get excited when I find something truly awesome that could really be great for a lot of people. The WORX Pegasus Work Table and Sawhorse fits the bill - and that's because it's not just great for DIY'ers, contractors and those who work in construction. There's a lot of potential for use by almost anyone, from crafters and model makers to photographers, artists and everyday homeowners who could use a proper work space that's rugged, portable and easy-to-use.
This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...
It's a rare occasion that it actually happens, but once in a great while, something comes along that becomes so essential, you find yourself wondering how you got along without it in the first place. Even more curious are the times when things manifest themselves as the unintended side-effect of something else. In the art world, Bob Ross might've called those "happy accidents," but in the physical realm I always think of those instances of accidental awesome - like the creation of Silly Putty. Sometimes you set out do to solve one problem and you end up solving something else. That's essentially what happened in the case of Federal Process Corporation and Tub O' Towels. They set out to create a product capable of removing industrial sealant, but ended-up with something so versatile and safe that it can be used to clean-up household messes with shocking ease. Tub O' Towels (available at my affiliate, Amazon) has been a staple of garages for years, but it needs to crossover to the household radar. For parents, grandparents and anyone with kids and pets, I'm here to tell you that Tub O' Towels has become an absolute essential here at Rock Father HQ, and they should be at your house, too!
Wow, building a house takes a lot of work, huh? There are so many plans, people, permits, and who knows what else involved in this process. While your head is busy with the plan, don't forget about some of these essential features.
Central air conditioning
This may be a given, but it's something you really don't want to forget to include during construction. No matter where in the world you're planning on building, there will be at least a few months out of the year where you're going to want to run the air conditioning. Roughly 60% of U.S. homes have central air conditioning, and your new house should too.
When you're selecting flooring materials for your new home, you should consider hardwood as an option. For many people, hardwood floors are significantly better than carpet or other types of flooring because they can handle stress from kids and pets. Additionally, consumers expect wood decor, furniture, and flooring to last almost 15 years longer than other materials.
Energy efficient windows
You're building a brand new home, and it deserves new and efficient windows. With the large and open floor plan you are probably designing, it's going to cost a little more to heat and cool that puppy. Dual-paned windows are two times as effective compared to single-paned windows at retaining air conditioning and heat. So, you won't have to spend as much to regulate the temperature in your new home. The Rock Father™ himself published a four-part series on total home window replacement back in 2015.
High quality gutters
While gutters are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of these other features, they will be enormously beneficial to your new home. Gutters keep water away from your home to prevent any kind of problems. While most gutters function the same way, you want to get the best ones you can for your new construction. Clogged gutters are the number one cause of water problems in the basement; it would be a shame to spend all that time and money building a brand new home theater in the basement to have it ruined by bad gutters.
Luxurious bathrooms are often high priorities for people buying and building homes. They want updated showers, new tile, two sinks, an oversized mirror, and more. You get to choose all of those things for the bathrooms in your new home, so don't forget to make them as fancy as you please. Otherwise, you'll find yourself remodeling later, like The Rock Father™ did.
You have probably already thought about putting electrical outlets throughout the house, but have you thought about where you want to put them? It's your ball game this time around, and you don't have to place the bed in a weird spot so your lamp reaches the outlet when you're putting in the furniture. Think about how you want everything laid out, and install as many outlets as your heart desires. Under the windows, in the bathroom, in the kitchen island, and even in the garage are all convenient places to stick an outlet.
Convenient laundry room
You do laundry a lot, and wouldn't it be nice to have it in a convenient location? You can tuck the washer and dryer in a closet in your bedroom, off the kitchen, on the main floor, or wherever you think you'll want to do laundry for the next several years. You get to decide where it goes, so you don't have to drag your clothes down to the basement every time they need to be washed unless that's what you want to do.
More and more people consider their pets to be a part of the family, so it only makes sense to keep them in mind while you're building. A built-in dog wash can be a great feature in your mudroom, and a pet entrance in your front door can be an awesome addition for your furry friend.
You get to do whatever you want in the home you build for yourself, and you're probably designing your heart out. While there are some areas of the house that may be more important than others to you, make sure you remember the entire house when you're designing and building your dream home.
Everyone dreams of striking oil in their backyard, unearthing priceless artifacts buried underneath their home, or finding a treasure chest full of loot while out on a hike. Unfortunately, getting rich usually doesn't happen this conveniently. Usually. There are times when unexpected wealth sort of falls into your lap out of the blue. For some lucky people, that's exactly what happened after acquiring the contents of a storage unit. One out of 10 Americans utilize offsite storage rentals, and thanks to reality shows such as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, more and more people are taking their chances on a stranger's storage unit. If you're considering storage hunting as a new hobby, here are some rare, and possibly valuable, items to look for:
With changing habits and interests, we've been hearing a lot about how retail is moving toward being "experiential." This is also leading many brands to get creative in how they connect with families, and that means creating the experiences themselves. For the folks at Whirlpool Corporation, that meant a fresh approach to their World of Whirlpool in Chicago, now open to the public as a new consumer experience center. At the media preview this week, I had the opportunity to experience it first-hand, and my immediate thought is that this is exactly what companies need to be doing because it's going to allow the general public to learn in ways that have in many cases been limited to media or expensive courses. Whirlpool is going well beyond the typical appliance showroom by teaching "life hacks" and culinary literacy that will help people save time, save money, and most importantly - improve the time spent with family.
Homebuyers Assemble! If The Avengers are Always Battling in Your Neighborhood, You May Want to Move...Written by James Zahn
I never really thought about it until this morning, but if I were living in a neighborhood that was constantly being destroyed due to superhero battles involving The Avengers and the assorted villains that they often face, I'd probably want to move. With that in mind, the folks at Quicken Loans just hit The Rock Father™ with news that they've teamed-up with Marvel for a co-branded Rocket Mortgage promotional spot to show that "the mortgage process doesn't have to be a battle." Additionally, they've revealed that there's Rocket Mortgage product placement in the opening scenes of Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War (which I will see at the World Premiere in Hollywood later this month - more on that soon). Product placement helps movies get made, so that's a good thing. Check out the new commercial featuring Iron Man and Doctor Strange below...
Spring is a great time to think about painting projects, and for those who might be fans of Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Home line, now there's paint in the mix as well. Ace Hardware has announced the launch of Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® Paint, making the brand’s first ever exclusive paint partnership with a hardware co-op retailer. The collection features 150 timeless interior paint colors personally crafted by Joanna Gaines, all of which fall into the "modern farmhouse" style (something I'm personally a big fan of).
It's cold here in Northern Illinois, and as a fresh couple inches of snow covers the ground today following a near-60° warm-up just days ago, cabin fever is setting in as I think about spending some time outdoors when spring rolls around. I'm a big fan of lighting (my wife can vouch for my years of trial-and-error), and lately my eyes have been on the "Neo-Vintage" LED movement - modern tech that looks like the Edison bulbs of old. As that corner of the industry continues to evolve, it's interesting to see just how close we've come to LED bulbs that have the appearance of their incandescent ancestors, but the path hasn't been without some hiccups. One such glitch is the flicker - a hyper-strobe effect that usually can't be seen with the naked eye. This is something the LEDs have been known for, and something that's bugged me for years - particularly with seasonal lighting. If you've ever shot video of certain LEDs (Christmas lights are a prime example), you've seen the dramatic effect. Now comes The Burton Bulb, and they're aiming to fix all of that with flickerless Neo-Vintage LED tech.