Gunning Daily News

High-Impact Home Improvements

July 1, 2013 4:38 pm

(BPT) - Yes, everyone knows making home improvements is a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people - whether they'll admit it or not - the answer is "no."

The best home improvements are the ones that not only enhance your home's value and livability, but also require little work from you afterward to keep them looking great and functioning well. If you're looking for high-impact, low-maintenance home improvements, consider these popular projects:

No-leak skylights

When it comes to an improvement that brightens your home, enhances its indoor air quality and boosts energy-efficiency, skylights deliver. Unfortunately, early skylights had a reputation for being leaky - a problem that simply doesn't occur with modern, no-leak, energy-efficient skylights. Pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal shield that surrounds any opening in a wall or roof) work with all types of roofs, from shingles to metal, to ensure a properly installed skylight won't leak.

Need further low-maintenance points to make the case for adding a skylight? Not only do modern skylights keep water out, they're energy efficient as well. Energy Star-qualified, no-leak, solar-powered fresh air skylights deliver fresh air through cost-effective passive ventilation. Adding remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allows you to easily open or close a fresh-air skylight and shade it when the sun hits that part of the roof, boosting the skylight's energy efficiency by 39 percent. Keep the shade open during cold weather to admit warmth and reduce heating costs. A 30 percent federal tax credit on both products and installation costs makes a skylight project even more appealing.

Lighting upgrade

Older light fixtures not only look dated, they often use outdated, inefficient bulbs and are lacking in the energy-efficient emphasis that comes with newer fixtures. Upgrading lighting throughout your home is a great way to ensure you won't have to think about it again any time soon.

If a total lighting redesign is out of the question, you can still make your existing light fixtures lower maintenance simply by swapping out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with newer, electricity-sipping versions. Options like CFLs and LEDs provide all the light of incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. says Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer. Imagine the time, hassle and money you'll save not having to replace bulbs constantly - especially in lights that get a lot of use, like porch lights, or that are hard to reach, like the chandelier in your two-story entryway.

Vinyl siding

Wood, fiber cement, stucco, brick - there are nearly as many types of exterior siding as there are colors to paint it. When it comes to low- or no-maintenance siding, vinyl remains the gold standard. In fact, more new homes are built using vinyl siding than any other type of siding product, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute.

While early versions of vinyl siding introduced in the 1950s earned criticism for being less lovely than wood, even those less sophisticated versions had staying power; it's possible to find homes in use today sporting vinyl siding that was added to the house in the 1970s or even earlier.

Vinyl siding never needs to be painted, and when properly installed provides exceptional shielding from the elements. New technology has made modern vinyl siding look better and last longer without fading issues associated with older versions of vinyl. It requires basic cleaning, and overall maintenance demands are much less than other types of siding. Visit to learn more.

Source: veluxusa  

Word of the Day

July 1, 2013 4:38 pm

Subdivision. A tract of land divided by the owner into smaller lots for homesites or other use.

Q: What is a bridge loan?

July 1, 2013 4:38 pm

A: It is a short-term bank loan of the equity in the home you are selling. You may take out a bridge loan, or interim financing, to help with a knotty situation: closing on the home you are buying before you close on the property you are selling. This loan basically enables you to have a place to live after the closing on the old home.

The key to a bridge loan is having a qualified buyer and a signed contract. Usually, the lender issuing the mortgage loan on the new home will write the interim financing as a personal note due at settlement on the property being sold.

If, however, there is no buyer for the property you have up for sale, most lenders will place a lien on the property, thereby making that bridge loan a kind of second mortgage.

Things to consider: interest rates are high, points are high, and there are costs and fees involved on bridge loans. It may be cheaper to borrow from your 401(K). Actually, any secured loan is acceptable to lenders for the down payment. So if you have stocks or bonds or an insurance policy, you can borrow against them as well.

State-of-the-Art Space Savers for Your Kitchen

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

In my quest to promote decluttering, we're going to briefly turn attention back to the kitchen -- specifically kitchen cabinets. There are many companies and places a homeowner can turn for ideas about how to create clutter free kitchens through the use of cabinet systems, like the ones designed by Ultracraft (

This company out of Liberty, N.C. has upgraded its organizing systems to include a number of innovative storage and decluttering systems as integrated with the cabinets the company offers through dealers and installers in virtually every state, according to its website.

Take Ultracraft's Hanging Trash Bin, for example. It tucks neatly away among your lower kitchen cabinet array and holds two 43-qt trash bins in only 18" of space, and features a floating lid to keep odors inside.

What about those unsightly sponges? Ultracraft features both a wood and metal tilt out tray that mounts just in front of your kitchen sink to hold those sponges and other cleaning tools, wool pads and even your drain stoppers.

Depending on the amount of spices you keep for cooking, you can choose either an integrated under counter pull-out, or cozy drawer based spice organizing system. The UltraCraft Mixer Stand accessory allows you to store your mixer, but more importantly, the tension adjusted springs will help you lift the mixer out with less effort.

The stand is sturdy enough to use while its sitting on the stand in the up position, and a pull out below the stand conveniently stores all of your mixer accessories.

You can move your plates to a low and convenient large drawer base and utilize Ultracraft's Plate Rack Organizer to make them easy to move from drawer to countertop to table. No more reaching, juggling and occasionally dropping plates that are stored up high in an upper cabinet.

And for those who have hard-to-reach under counter "blind base" cabinets, the company's Blind Base Chrome Pantry Pull Out unit helps homeowners access these often wasted recesses without them having to crawl on their hands and knees.

5 Careers on the Rise

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

For those who are off to college in the fall, or anyone who may be thinking of a job change, there are at least five careers poised for major growth in the next decade in terms of both job openings and salaries.

From recent research at the U.S. Department of Labor, here are five hot career paths to consider:

Registered nurse – The baby boomers are aging, most people are living longer, and the Affordable Care Act will open medical care to record numbers of Americans. As a result, the job outlook for registered nurses is bright. Requirements are an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program and a passing grade in a national licensing exam.

Home health and personal care aide – As the population ages and health care costs force shorter hospital stays, the home health care field is expected to grow by an astonishing 70 percent in the next decade.  A high school diploma is all that is needed in most cases, and those working through home health or hospice agencies must pass a standardized test.

Veterinary technician – Like working with animals but don’t want to pursue a veterinary degree? Employment of veterinary techs is estimated to grow by 40,000 jobs by 2020. Techs must have postsecondary education in veterinary technology, take a credentialing exam, and, depending on state requirements, be licensed, registered, or certified.

Convention and event planner – If organized party planning is your thing, consider working as an event planner. Jobs in the industry are expected to grow by 44 percent in the next few years. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, public relations or hospitality management should get you headed in the right direction.

Software developer – We live in a world of electronics, and software developers are tasked with creating new applications and their underlying systems. More than 30 percent growth in the field is anticipated by 2020. In most cases, candidates have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field as well as strong computer-programming skills.

Check Out This Home Maintenance Safety Checklist

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(Family Features)--Keeping a healthy home for your family means more than daily chores and the occasional deep cleaning. It's important to add routine inspections of often overlooked areas and regular maintenance to your list of tasks.

"Every home can have unhealthy, harmful, or even hazardous areas," says Mike Holmes, renowned contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. "It's important to check them out, especially during regular maintenance. Addressing these 'hidden hazards' helps create a healthy home and keeps your family safe."

Holmes recommends following his "SAFETY" checklist to ensure your home is safer and healthier for your family.

S - Seek out lead in the home. If your home was built before 1978, it could contain lead. Your family could be exposed to it through the air, drinking water, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust in and around the house. If you disturb any material that contains lead, tiny lead particles could become airborne at home. Talk to a professional to test the entire house, and take the necessary steps to ensure your family's safety.

A - Address indoor air quality and change your air filter. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels -- sometimes even 100 times higher. Your lungs shouldn't be cleaning the air inside your home. Use an electrostatically charged Filtrete Brand air filter to help capture odors and airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Plus, changing your filter at the start of every season helps protect and maintain your system.

F - Fix leaks to prevent mold and mildew. Mold spores need moisture to grow and thrive in warm, humid conditions. When mold is disturbed, its spores can get into the air you breathe. Inspect your home for excess water and moisture build-up from leaky roofs, faucets, basement drains, dishwashers and washing machines, and fix them immediately. Also, reduce your indoor humidity to 30 to 60 percent, and use vents and exhaust fans whenever possible.

E - Exercise caution around appliances. Before using appliances such as space heaters and toaster ovens, make sure they are working properly. Never drape an electrical cord over a sink, as electricity should never come into contact with water or any other liquids. Also avoid overloading wiring or plugging too many appliances into a single wall socket because it can cause electrical sparks, leading to an electrical fire. Be sure to unplug appliances when they're not being used, and cover sockets with outlet protectors.

T - Test for dangerous gases. One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon, according to the EPA. You can purchase a short-term home radon test for less than $20. Test the lowest lived-in level of your home, and if you have elevated levels of radon, call a qualified contractor immediately. Make sure they have plenty of experience dealing with radon. Also, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month by pushing the test button on the unit. Remember to change the batteries every season, and replace the entire unit every 7 to 10 years.

Y - Yield healthier results with regular upkeep. Keep up with regular home maintenance to help keep your home healthy and your family safe. Fix small problems now to avoid big repairs later. Remember, big repairs come with big price tags and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.



Word of the Day

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Principal.  The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.

Q: Is It True You Never Really Stop Fixing Up a Home?

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

A: From the day you move in to the day you sell your home, there will always be something that will need to be repaired or remodeled. You may want to undertake some changes simply to elevate your comfort level – like installing central air conditioning – or spruce up the home’s aesthetics, such as adding a few stained-glass windows.

But other work will need to be done to maintain the property and minimize problems later on.  For example, replacing a hazardous roof, fixing broken windows, and repairing leaky pipes.  These are all necessities. Left undone, they can lead to major problems and damages within the home.  

If you decide one day to sell, other improvements will likely be made to increase the home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.  

Paint Your Home Pretty: Tackle your Home To-Do List

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(BPT) - We all have home improvement projects on our to-do lists. However, often the hustle

and bustle of life keeps us from getting them done. Following are a few projects you can

quickly tackle to help cross off some of your to-do list DIY projects featuring Krylon paints.

DIY Mason jar herb garden

We all have mismatched jars cluttering our cupboards or attics. Fortunately, Mason jars are

the ideal size to create anything from a flower vase, an herb garden or desktop organizer, and

the raised outer design adds a touch of whimsy and nostalgia. With just a bit of spray paint,

your clutter can be transformed into a clever creation.

After thoroughly cleaning the jars, simply spray several light coats onto the jars using your

favorite shades of Krylon ColorMaster spray paint. The unique formula dries in just 10 minutes

and is available in nearly 100 brilliant colors and finishes to meet all your color and durability

needs. Once dry, you now have a beautiful new vessel to hold anything from plants to pencils.


Terracotta potted plant house numbers

Why settle for "ho hum" house numbers? Instead convert ceramic or terra cotta pots into an

eye-catching address marker with creative curb appeal.

To start, be sure that each pot has a clean and smooth surface. Next, apply primer to the

surface and allow to dry, using a white primer for light colors and a gray primer for dark colors.

Next, paint each pot in a different color of spray paint and let dry. Finally, place a stencil for

each house number on the center of each pot and spray with a light coat of paint. Arrange your

pots in the proper order, fill with flowers and voila ... you now have an original and welcoming

way to announce your address.

Colorful hand-built and stenciled headboard

Does your headboard need help? Paint can take any piece of furniture from blah to beautiful.

So instead of replacing your hated headboard, rejuvenate it.

Start by sanding and cleaning your current headboard to ensure you have a smooth surface.

Next apply primer. Once dry, spray the headboard in your favorite color of spray paint. And

don't limit yourself to just one color. You can use painter's tape to cover different areas to

create a multi-color surface - or add embellishments, such as stencils. The opportunities are



Summer Travel Tips for Seniors

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(BPT) - Extra socks? Check. Toothbrush? Check. Photo ID? Check. What else could you be forgetting?

All travel requires some level of planning, but for seniors taking to the road or sky this summer, a little extra planning can go a long way toward ensuring an enjoyable vacation. Before embarking on your next adventure, consider these tips to make certain you have all your bases covered, from health to happenstance.

1. Keep your health in check: Make sure your doctor checks pre-existing medical conditions before you take extended travels and carefully manage conditions throughout your vacation. Also, pack enough of your medications to last the entire trip and keep them in the original prescription bottles labeled with your name.

Keep in mind that sitting for extended periods of time, whether you are driving or flying, puts you at risk for developing blood clots in the veins of your legs. Be sure to stand up and walk for a few minutes every hour to minimize your slight chance of getting a blood clot.

Make sure you stay well-hydrated throughout your trip by drinking at least two to three liters of water per day. Staying hydrated during long flights can also minimize chances of getting a blood clot.

2. Lighten your load: Pack light when possible to give your legs and back a break from hauling luggage around town or between flights. If you have to bring a second bag, make it a small one that can easily stack on top of your roller bag.

However, it's wise to pack a backup for some of your most important items. If you're traveling with a family member or friend, make sure you each have a cellphone. Pack a spare pair of glasses if you've been known to misplace them in the past. Bring spare batteries for hearing aids if you think they may be running low.

3. Keep in touch: Whether used to confirm reservations or contact authorities in case of an emergency, a cellphone can be the ultimate travel safety net. Consumer Cellular (, the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members, provides cost-effective no-contract wireless service and cellphones to meet subscribers' unique needs.

Consumer Cellular's senior-friendly Doro PhoneEasy 618 is an easy-to-use phone with a one-touch emergency button and a camera for documenting your trip. Or for those who prefer the comfort and familiarity of their landline phone, the carrier's wireless home phone device allows for the use of your home phone in an RV, hotel room or anywhere with access to a cellular signal. Lastly, the carrier allows you to switch between plans without penalty at any time, so scale your service up or down for that month's bill to meet your travel needs, then resume your standard plan when you return.

4. Act your age: Seniors can often get discounts on attractions, events, meals and more by simply showing a photo ID or AARP membership card. Seek out discounts before you travel and make arrangements accordingly. Also, continue to ask about discounts throughout your vacation — you may save a few bucks here and there.

5. Leave time for recovery: A vacation should be fun and relaxing, but intensive driving or time zone changes can leave a traveler feeling exhausted. When outlining your trip itinerary, consider that you may need time initially to rest from your travels or recover from jet lag.

Whether you're embarking on a weekend getaway or taking the trip of a lifetime, spend a little extra time to consider the unique requirements you may have specific to your age, health and capabilities. Follow these five simple tips for a smooth, stress-free vacation experience and turn travel into a revitalizing fountain of youth.