Decluttering Your Home Checklist

by  | Jun 15, 2019 | 0 comments

So, the time has come for you to rise and shine, leaving the past behind and getting ready to embrace a new beginning. Ahh, isn’t that the beauty of moving? Okay, before we get too dreamy in here, let’s swallow the bitter part of relocating. 1, 2, 3 … Go! If only decluttering your home checklist was such a short run, huh? Well, while it might not be the fastest task to accomplish, taking the time to pack up your belongings is, in fact, a fantastic opportunity. There is no better way to get rid of everything which has been left behind in the dusty corners of your wardrobe, the basement, or you name it. Instead of thinking of decluttering your home as a tedious obligation, why don’t you enjoy the ride? Below, we are sharing some contaminating cute ideas to help you on your quest. (Of course, don’t be shy to thank us later for the gulp of inspiration! Xo-xo). For starters, let’s discuss the different methods of decluttering.

Where to Start?

The biggest challenge is where to start when a large amount of stuff in your house overwhelms you. Ask yourself this:
  • Which rooms in your home tend to collect clutter frequently?
  • Which is the most stressful room or area in your home?
  • Which space would have the biggest impact if you could declutter it quickly?
Your answers will help you create a strategy for your decluttering process. It's best to start with a space you can declutter quickly, and have a big impact. The ideal choice is the kitchen counters. This will give you a quick win for motivation. Don't overwhelm yourself by picking the most difficult or challenging space at the beginning. The idea is to work for the bottom up. Starting a project and completing it has a feel good vibe that will propel you forward to the next task. There're several ways to approach the decluttering process. The top four best methods include:
  • 20-minute method
  • Weekend plan
  • Kondo style
  • One room at a time

20-minute Method

This method makes use of a timer with a 20-minute countdown to tackle tasks in smaller time doses. The upside of this method is you will not burn out in 20 minutes. The downside is you won't be able to declutter a big space in those few minutes. This method is ideal for smaller more defined spaces such as the kitchen. Here is where you tackle one cabinet or drawer at a time. The 20-minute method may not be perfect for a closet unless you divide it into specific segments - say skirts, trousers, boots and the like. This option is great if you want to make tangible progress but you're short on time. If you’re planning to move houses in a couple of weeks, this process could come in handy.

Weekend Plan

If you're the jump all in at once kind of person, this method is for you. Furthermore, with enough motivation, and someone to watch over the kids for the weekend, the more tasks you’ll complete. This method doesn't work for everyone as it’s akin to sprinting the marathon. If you do choose this method, create a concrete plan for the order in which you will declutter the rooms. It's foolhardy to start every room in your house only to run out of time to put everything back in order. This method is ideal if you’re planning to move on short notice, say at the end of the month.

Kondo Style

In Marie Kondo's popular book "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up", she discusses her approach to decluttering. Her forte is to take out every similar item when you declutter. For example, if you're cleaning the pantry, you must take out all the items and foodstuffs inside. In other categories, this method can be tiresome as you might not know where every office supply in the house is stored. The main reason why we have so much clutter is that we accumulate so much stuff without realizing it. Blame it on impulse buying. You’ll most likely end up with forgotten items and duplicates whenever you store your stuff in different places. Consolidating everything in one place to assess what stays and what goes is enlightening and reveals a lot. This part of the process is important as it allows you to select what to keep and what to dispose of. The Kondo style method lets you know all you own and enables you to be more mindful to avoid accumulating clutter in your home. This is also a clever way to audit your belongings.

One Room at a Time

This method is self-explanatory. You choose a room to start with and go through every room one after the other. If you choose this method, it’s recommended to begin with your bedroom. The idea is that the room where you sleep should be the most relaxing and calming. You'll probably have orderly dreams if you fall asleep in a room where books, clothes or random items are in their rightful place. Such is a serene resting area. Bathrooms are great to do next. This is because most people don't have much sentimental attachment to bathroom products making it less overwhelming to tackle. In regards to the rest of the house, the size of some rooms and amount of clutter will determine how you will tackle the remaining rooms. Approach such rooms’ one section at a time. Assuming you have one or two months before moving house, the one room at a time method is perfect as it will give you plenty of time to declutter. In this article, we’ll discuss in depth how to go about the One Room at a Time Method.

Supplies to Gather for One Room at a Time Method

Before you get started, here are the items you need at a minimum:
  • Rolls of large heavy-duty garbage bags for household trash.
  • Two large boxes or bins marked "Keep" and "Donate", for sorting the likely donations. Also, add a “Put Away” box.
  • A dust mask will come in handy for closets and dealing with many clothes.
  • Masking tape and sharpie for labeling items.
You can use baskets, bins and cardboard boxes for this task. If you have a family, assign each a bag or box with a specific label.

1. Declutter the Outside of Your House

Before you begin decluttering the interior of your house, first declutter the outside of your home. This will help set the mood for what awaits you inside. Anytime you go home after a hard day's work to find a neatly trimmed hedge, and well-maintained yard, it won't matter how rough your day was. Lookout for any blooming flowers and discard spent blossoms. Illuminate your home at night by changing any burnt out lightbulbs and install enough security lights. As you enter the house, ensure door knobs, door handles and locks are in tip-top shape. Don't forget to lubricate squeaky hinges.

2. Declutter the Foyer

Once you have decluttered the outside, start at the entrance and work your way through the house room by room. Maybe you don't have a traditional mudroom or foyer, but you definitely have an entryway. No matter its size, the best way to make an entryway more functional is to declutter it regularly. Since this is the welcoming area for your guests, ensure the foyer is spotless. Start with any console, side table or desk in your entry. Scrutinize each drawer by removing the contents and decide which items to dispose or keep. Go over the top of each desk and make sure you have space for your keys and other important items. When everything is accessible and not overcrowded, it will be easier to leave the house with what you need each morning. Declutter the hall closet the same way as any other closet. Start with shoes and boots, jackets and finally accessories. The entry also picks up lots of clutter from other rooms. Put items from other rooms in the put away box and back to their rightful space.

3. Declutter Your Bathrooms

Of all the rooms in the house, you should first start by decluttering the bathroom. This is because it's the smallest room in the house and the easiest to clean. Start with the medicine cabinet. Empty it of every item and discard outdated medication, skincare products, and makeup. Return everything you're keeping back into the cabinet and store the items you use most often at eye level. Next move to the cabinet drawers. Remove everything and do a quick evaluation of what to keep and what to discard. Return the items you're going to keep back into the drawers, with the items you frequently use in the top drawers. Move to the shower or tub and clean it out. Spray the shower with a cleaning product to get rid of any stains and molds. If you’re planning on selling the house, you definitely don’t want a potential buyer to see such stains. Clean the mirror, clean the floor, clean vanity, and most importantly clean the toilet. Remove everything from underneath your bathroom sink and declutter the items therein. Finally, sort every item that doesn’t have a home into the four bags or boxes you have staged for the purpose.

4. Declutter Your Bedrooms

Start by spreading your bed. It makes no sense to start decluttering the bedroom while an unmade bed stares at you. Same as the bathroom, it's not surprising to find the easy stuff are cluttering the bedroom. Clear the space next to the bed, clear off the nightstand, then go underneath the bed and clear whatever items that seem out of place. Most of these items are the easy stuff. Don't waste time on clothes. Though the closet is in the bedroom, that's a separate zone to deal with next. Fold and put the clothes back in the bureau and round up all the clothes that are on the floor and toss them into laundry baskets. Sort through photos and décor. Many photos, souvenirs, and frames end up in the bedroom, covering bureaus and nightstands. This makes the room appear more cluttered than decorated. Sort out the items you don't have a strong attachment to and donate them. Clean the bedroom from top to bottom. Clean the windows and finish by vacuuming and dusting surfaces and blinds.

5. Declutter Your Closet

You probably have more clothes than you can manage, especially if you're a clothes shopaholic. This makes clothes the main source of your closet clutter. The best way to declutter a closet is to first declutter your clothing by type. This means you start with shoes, boots, shirts or blouses, denim, trousers and the like. The main challenge here is discarding old and outdated stuff. Donate all the clothes that don’t fit and freebies you never wear. Again, start with the easy decisions such as the promotional tees from events and jeans that you outgrew way back in college. Once you've sorted each type of clothing, you will have four piles to deal with:
  • Put away any item that was in the wrong place. For example, if you had boxers in the closet, put them in the dresser.
  • Toss any dirty laundry into the hamper or take it to the laundry room.
  • Any clothing that needs repair should go to the tailor or the cleaners.
  • Donations and consignments should go to the donations bag or box.

6. Declutter Your Laundry Room

Having sorted out clothes for laundry, head to the laundry room as it also has a big impact on your family's wealth. The same way the bathroom is filled with ominous water so is the laundry room.
  • Provide good task lighting
  • Clean the storage cabinets
  • Empty the trash can
  • Clean around the washer and dryer

7. Declutter Your Kitchen

The kitchen is a daily disaster zone. One minute it's spotless, the next counters are choking from all kind of foodstuff and utensils. Because of all the cooking, eating and socializing that takes place here, it can be a challenge to keep it clutter-free. Since it's a daily struggle, it's best to leave this room towards the end. The kitchen is the storage for all kind of items. You should, therefore, declutter your kitchen by focusing on one category of an item at a time. This includes glassware, cutting boards, utensils, or cutlery. You can also do zonal decluttering of each part of the kitchen. Empty each space, analyze each item, and return everything back to its rightful space. First identify powerhouse storage areas, upper cabinets, and the pantry. Move onto the drawers, lower cabinets, and the space under the kitchen sink. For the most part, expired food needs to be thrown away. The exceptions are where there's a difference between "Use By" and "Best By" dates. Other foodstuffs to dispose of include freezer-burned food, expired or unused spices, old oils, stale crackers and snacks, and food you're never going to eat. Such food is better off with someone who will actually use it. While decluttering the countertops, move as many items as possible off of the countertops and into storage spaces. Keep only what you use on a daily basis on the countertops. Excess plastic grocery bags can easily build up and when you have more than you will use, they take up unnecessary space. Recycle them at your local grocery store or see if a neighbor can use them. Finally, take your put away box and return any item that doesn't belong to the kitchen to its rightful storage space in the house.

8. Declutter Your Living Room

The den is the ideal downtime area and gathering place for your family. This room should have a relaxed ambiance. Because of the many activities it hosts, it's one of the hardest rooms to keep neat every day. Living rooms also don’t offer enough storage spaces. You may have a TV console and several bookcases, but they don't hide much. The key to decluttering the living room is to decide on permanent storage spaces for items you frequently use such as magazines, books, and remote controls. Start with side tables, consoles, and bookcases. Then move to the coffee table and entertainment unit. Empty them, evaluate the items they store, then return them to the proper storage area. Keep books out of sight, action your mail, fold blankets, prop pillows and the like. Next move to the electronics. Are you using every electronic item and do they work? Remove any gadget that is not connected to the television or home theater system. Store items such as gaming equipment and chargers where you use them. Finally, if you have kids, tackle the toys. Do all the toys work? Do your kids still play with them? Assess every toy for wear and tear. Donate the toys you don’t need or grab the put away box and return everything that belongs in another room to its rightful space.

9. Declutter Your Home Office

Any attempt to work in a disorganized office will always meet resistance and obstacles. The moment you declutter your office, a new wave of energy will flow into your workspace. In general, office spaces have one thing in common - paper clutter. Avoid having piles of unsorted papers lying around. Greeting cards that have served their purpose are worthless, ditch them. Vacuum and dust the room, close bookcase doors and categorize desk drawers with similar items. Resist tossing loose items in a drawer by using small cardboard boxes as drawer organizers. Sorting through the mess can take a considerable amount of time. If you're stuck here, place the cards or paperwork in a folder or attractive storage boxes and hide them for another day.

What to Do with All the Items after Decluttering

A crucial part of prior planning is knowing where to take donations of the many things you'll discover you don't need. The Thrift Shopper search engine lists all the thrift stores by zip code in your area. Look up salvationarmy or goodwill to identify a thrift shop nearby that can accept your donations. Other disposal options include:
  • Recycling
  • Trash
  • Animal shelters
  • A garage sale
  • For electronics, you can transfer old CDs and DVDs onto a cloud-based service
And there you have it - not the shortcut to decluttering your home checklist but the fun, witty, and wise cut, instead! Decluttering doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Start with the easy stuff first to get your juices flowing. As your motivation and momentum increase, keep going and give yourself targets of a few weeks or a month before relocating. Hope you enjoy every bit of your decluttering journey.
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How To Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

The most efficient tips on how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan.

how to clean a bathroom exhaust fanTAB62/SHUTTERSTOCK

As you tackle your bathroom cleaning checklist, there’s one more chore you might want to add—the exhaust fan. In fact, it’s more important than you might think to know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan. That little fan helps get rid of odors, reduces moisture in the air and can even remove airborne contaminates from household cleaning chemicals. A dirty fan covered in dust doesn’t work efficiently. And if your exhaust fan is on the fritz, excess moisture has no where to go—which eventually will lead to mold and mildew. So here’s the plan—don’t neglect that fan. Give it a good cleaning about every six months. Read on to find out how to thoroughly clean your bathroom exhaust fan, but first turn off the fan at the circuit breaker for safety. Then you’re ready to get started.

How Do You Remove a Bathroom Vent Cover?

To remove the cover, gently pull down on the cover to expose the fan; then squeeze the metal mounting wires on either side and slide them out of their slots. This will allow the cover to be completely removed from the fan housing. Now you can see the amount of dust and grime you are dealing with, and get to work.

Clean the Vent Cover with Soapy Water

Cleaning the cover is simple. Fill up your bathroom sink with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Allow the cover to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes. Then scrub the fan cover with a cloth or dish brush removing all dirt, dust and grime. Place the cover on a towel and allow it to air dry while you move on to the next step—cleaning the fan.

Use a Vacuum to Get Rid of Dust on the Exhaust Fan

Before you touch the exhaust fan, unplug the standard two-prong plug that powers the fan. If you want to be extra cautious, you can turn the power off to the bathroom at the circuit breaker. Once you’re certain there is no electricity to the fan, you can safely clean it. Start by removing dust with a vacuum extension wand and attachments. For the fan motor components and fan housing, use a bristle brush dusting attachment. For the more narrow and hard to reach areas, use the crevice attachment. Maintain a light touch so you don’t damage anything.

Remove Grime with a Damp Cloth

Once the dry dust is removed, you’ll probably notice the exhaust fan is still dirty with built-up grime. Take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the fan components and housing to remove any remaining dirt. Looking to perform an extra deep clean? Don’t be afraid to further disassemble the fan. Depending on your model, remove any visible screws and remove the motor from the fan housing. Clean the fan blades and surrounding motor parts with the damp microfiber cloth.

Reassemble the Exhaust Fan

With a clean fan and a cover that looks like new, it’s time to put the fan back together. If you removed the motor, now is the time to put it back in place and replace the screws. Next, plug in the fan to restore power. Then put the cover back on by inserting the mounting wires back into their slots, and gently push the cover into place. Now that you know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan,

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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Mold & Mildew: How To Clean Black Spots In the Bathroo

how to clean black spots in bathroomBURDUN ILIYA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Have you ever been taking a relaxing bath, only to look up and notice black mold growing on the ceiling? Yuck. It’s a problem no one wants to deal with, but unfortunately is a common occurrence in bathrooms—especially if your home is located in a moist climate. The good news is, you don’t have to live with that mold and mildew forever. Find out how to clean black spots in the bathroom with a few supplies and a little elbow grease. Secret bathroom cleaning tips from the pros.

What Causes Black Mold on a Bathroom Ceiling?

Mold on the ceiling is caused by moisture that has no where to go. Mold loves moisture. Steam from hot showers and bathtubs rises to the ceiling, and without proper ventilation it can settle there. If the moisture remains too long, mold spores begin to grow. In addition to being unsightly, mold can also cause health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause “nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation…or skin irritation.” And even more alarming, serious lung infections can occur in people with weak immune systems.
Is black mold deadly? Find out what is true versus what is myth when it comes to mold.

How to Clean Mold From a Bathroom Ceiling

To clean mold from the ceiling, wash the affected area with a store-bought mold cleaner, or a mixture of dish soap and water. Let the area dry. Now it’s time to get out the big guns to kill the mold—bleach. Mix one-quarter cup of bleach with one quart of water and apply the solution with a spray bottle or sponge. Remember when working with bleach to crack a window for ventilation and wear gloves and eye protection. If you prefer to not use bleach, white vinegar can also be effective. Apply straight vinegar to the area with a spray bottle and allow it to sit for an hour, then wipe the area clean and allow it to dry. Are you making these 10 bathroom cleaning mistakes?

How to Clean Mildew From a Bathroom Ceiling

Think of mildew as mold’s less threatening cousin. They’re both fungi, but mildew is not as invasive and is easier to clean because it only lives on the surface. Mildew is usually light gray or white in color and has a flat, powdery appearance. To clean it from your bathroom ceiling, simply wipe it with a damp cloth sprayed with any household cleaner. You can use a bathroom cleaner specially formulated to clean mildew, or white vinegar will also do the trick. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, spray the mildew, and wipe away. Here’s how to use essential oils to get rid of that mildew smell.

How to Clean Mold in the Shower or Bath

Cleaning mold from the shower or bath can be done with the same methods used on the ceiling. Clean the area with a household bathroom cleaner first, then use either a bleach solution or vinegar to kill the mold. To prevent mold from growing in the shower or bath again, keep the bathroom ventilated and control moisture as much as possible. Use a bathroom exhaust fan, crack a window when showering, and make sure to wipe away any leftover moisture with a squeegee. Take further measures by keeping a spray bottle full of vinegar in the bathroom, spray your bath and shower after use to prevent mold growth. Psst! Now that you know how to clean black spots in the bathroom—prevent mold and mildew from growing back with an exhaust fan. Here’s how to clean your bathroom exhaust fan to ensure it’s running properly.

Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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15 Trees You Should Never Grow in Your Yard

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Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

 

The best choices for cabinet paints

Paint options for painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets brightens a shabby kitchen. Choose an oil-based paint or a water-borne acrylic enamel. Both create tough, durable surfaces.

best paint for cabinetsFAMILY HANDYMAN

Prime before painting

If you want to give new life to old wooden kitchen cabinets, painting is a great choice. You have several good paint options. Before painting, a careful sanding and good primer set the stage for a smooth, durable top coat for painting kitchen cabinets. For the best adhesion and a harder, more durable finish, an oil-based (alkyd) paint is tough to beat. But you must be willing to put up with the strong odor and solvent cleanup, along with a longer drying and curing time than you’d get if you used an ordinary water-based paint. Plus, the color may yellow over time.
The best paint for cabinets solution to avoid the hassle of oil-based paint is a new-technology waterborne acrylic enamel paint. This type of paint delivers:
  • Good flow
  • Leveling
  • Hardening characteristics of oil-based paint without the odor and long drying time.
  • These new paints dry fast and clean up with soap and water.
The main challenge with waterborne acrylic enamel paint is a smooth finish, but pros say that if the waterborne acrylic enamel is applied heavily enough and worked in small sections, it will flatten out nicely. When painting kitchen cabinets, avoid a dry brush and going over sections already starting to dry. Check out these best-kept secrets of professional painters. These great ideas will produce a perfectly smooth and even paint job everytime. Don’t forget other keys to success when painting kitchen cabinets:
  • Surface preparation (degreasing, cleaning and sanding)
  • Priming (use a top-quality primer)
  • Brushing (use the best-quality brush for the type of paint)
  • Drying (follow label directions).
 
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7 Things to Do Before Listing Your Home This Spring

As the snow starts to melt, revealing the brightly colored flowers of crocus, and robins bop merrily around the yard, another cycle of the real estate market begins. If you’re considering listing your home this year, it’s definitely not too late to get started. March and April can be great months for putting your house in front of prospective buyers, but the summer months are also great times to sell.Regardless of your timing, there are a few things you need to do right now to start getting ready to list. It’s not as simple as sticking a sign in the yard and waiting for the calls to roll in.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

You never know who will feel that special feeling people get when they find the house that is just right for them. But you can turn the odds in your favor if you and your home are both show ready long before you open up to potential buyers. Before you sell your house, you’re going to want to run through this checklist. Hire a Realtor. There’s a reason that 91 percent of home sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home in 2017: selling a home is a complicated process that really demands an expert. Just like you’d not try to DIY surgery, there are serious financial risks involved with selling your home without an education in real estate law. In addition to being your safety net, a Realtor can point out items that you might not realize are big turn-offs to buyers, like dated lighting, so you can get started on the cosmetic stuff to make your home show at its best. Have a home inspection. Wait. Isn’t a home inspection just for buying a house? No! You can have a home inspector out any time you want. Having a full blown home inspection before you put your house on the market gives you a chance to correct items that will likely come up for your future buyer when they have their home inspector out. Get ahead of issues and you’ll sell that house faster. Get to decluttering. If you have to sell your home in order to buy the next, you’re going to be living in a showroom for the next few months. Take anything you don’t really need immediately and put it in a storage unit. Get it away from your house because pushing clutter around doesn’t really help anything. Declutter as much as you can bear to — it’ll make your house look bigger and more appealing to prospective buyers Paint the front door. Your Realtor will probably drive home the importance of curb appeal, or how enticing your house is from the street (the curb). The better the curb appeal, the more likely potential buyers will come inside and look around. The interesting thing about curb appeal is how certain elements of your house affect the whole picture. Case in point, Zillow’s 2018 Paint Color Analysis found that a black or charcoal colored front door can bring in as much as $6,271 extra! Spruce up the landscaping. Along with dressing the front of your house up a bit, make sure that your landscaping is up to par. Prune any unruly plants, replace perennials that may have patchy growth, refresh your mulch, give the lawn a mow. Now that your landscape is radiating amazing curb appeal, keep it that way until your home closes. If you need to hire a landscaper, consider it an investment. Get copies of your utility bills. People will ask what kind of utility costs are associated with your home. Does it just burn through the natural gas? Does the electricity use seem excessive? This is another place where you can get ahead of potential buyers by putting this information together and giving it to your Realtor on the day you sign your listing agreement. Deep clean like you’ve never cleaned before. And hey, maybe you haven’t, we’re not here to judge. Even though painting is a quick fix to renewing your home’s interior, deep cleaning is less expensive and can result in a better overall effect. For example, if you clean your windows, inside and out until they’re super clean, you’ll immediately notice how much more natural light penetrates the room.

Is There Time For All of That?

If you find yourself crunched for time, don’t make up for it by skipping important things before listing. Instead, call on your HomeKeepr community to help you find the people who can move your home sale along. Whether you need a cleaner, a landscaper, an organization expert or even a home inspector, we’ve got you covered. Your agent already has a list of recommended service providers who can help, let these experts free up some of your time as you get ready to sell.
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Popcorn Ceilings: What They Are, How to Get Rid of Them & Are They a Health Hazard?

Popcorn is great for lots of stuff. You can enjoy a big bucket with family and friends while at the movies, string it on a thread to give Christmas that old-fashioned touch and even turn it into questionable “treats” for Halloween. One place that it’s a lot less welcome is on the ceiling.Unfortunately, too many homes still have popcorn ceilings. They often create a lot more questions than they answer.

What Is a Popcorn Ceiling?

Back in the day, someone had a brilliant idea. What would happen if there was a cheaper alternative to meticulously applied plaster ceiling coating and decoration for homes? This person asked themselves. Well, that would be just lovely! And that person wasn’t wrong in concept. It was practice that turned out to really be the killer. Popcorn ceilings, the solution to the problem, are still around, largely haunting homes built between the 1930s and 1990s. The ceiling texture that oddly resembles cottage cheese far more than it does popcorn, was popular for its ease of application and, at the time, low maintenance requirement.

Popcorn Ceilings: The Kicker

Even if you don’t object to the generally dated appearance of a popcorn ceiling (hey, maybe retro’s your thing, we’re not judging), think twice before going all in because that house you’re looking at has one that’s still intact. So many popcorn ceilings contain some amount of friable asbestos that they are generally not a great idea to keep around. Even though popcorn ceiling mixtures containing asbestos were banned under the Clean Air Act in 1979, the remaining mixes that hadn’t been purchased were still allowed to be sold. In some areas, this means that new installations of potentially hazardous popcorn ceilings lingered well into the 1980s. If the asbestos wasn’t enough, many popcorn ceilings have been painted since they were installed, or were installed using paint as part of the initial mix. Lead-based paint was the norm until it was banned in 1978. It’s kind of a double-whammy.

Friable Versus Non-Friable Asbestos

There are two kinds of asbestos: friable and non-friable. Friable asbestos is the most dangerous kind, since any amount of disturbance can result in particles floating around in the air and being inhaled. This is not good news. Risks of free-floating asbestos can range from lung scarring to mesothelioma, an insidious and heartbreaking form of cancer. This is the kind in popcorn ceilings. While non-friable asbestos isn’t a picnic, it’s a lot safer because the asbestos is encapsulated within another material. For example, older homes often have siding made of cement fiber-board tiles. These often contain asbestos, but unless you’re cutting the tiles, it’s safely contained. There are very specific laws about dealing with both types of asbestos, but those surrounding friable asbestos are as much about protecting humans around the material as the environment. In most areas, homeowners are legally allowed to remove popcorn ceilings from their own homes, but it’s still a really good idea to at least have a test for asbestos before you try it.

Before You Even Think About Scraping That Ceiling

There are few things easier than removing a popcorn ceiling. A scraper and a lot of time will do the job, but the hazard to someone who goes in blindly cannot be understated. So, before you even think about scraping that ceiling, take some samples. Carefully. Send one to a lab for testing for asbestos. Send another for testing for lead based paint (or use a high-quality at-home test kit). Wait until you have results to move forward. If you test positive for either or both, consider calling in a pro. They have all the right equipment to ensure that asbestos doesn’t get loose in your home, where you, your family and your pets will be at risk of exposure. If you DIY this one, do not skimp on ventilators and other filters to keep any friable asbestos contained.

This is Definitely One for Your HomeKeepr Community

Usually, easy jobs are a slam dunk for DIY, but when it comes to one that can create such a significant risk to health and home, it’s really best to call on a home pro with the right kind of equipment to keep everyone safe. Your HomeKeepr community is full of people who can help you with your popcorn ceiling woes. They can even recommend someone who can refinish that ceiling if your removal contractor doesn’t handle both. Just log in and your real estate agent will be more than happy to point you in the right direction with a recommendation from their extensive network of home pros.
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SIDING How to Replace Vinyl Siding

vinyl siding repair
Cracked or broken vinyl siding is no reason for despair. A simple $5 tool gets the job done in 15-minutes. This article also includes some useful tips on how to get the best match possible for your original siding.

15-minute vinyl siding repair with a zip tool

siding removal tool

Photo 1: A zip tool is the key

Slide the zip tool along the bottom edge to release the vinyl siding from the piece below it. This vinyl siding repair tip will save you loads of time.

How Do You Replace Vinyl Siding?

Vinyl siding repair is tough, but not indestructible. If a falling branch or a well-hit baseball has cracked a piece of your siding, you can make it as good as new in about 15 minutes with a zip tool and a replacement piece. It’s as simple as unzipping the damaged piece and snapping in a new one. Get this vinyl siding repair kit zip tool on Amazon. Starting at one end of the damaged piece, push the end of the zip siding removal tool up under the siding until you feel it hook the bottom lip (Photo 1). Pull the zip tool downward and out to unhook the bottom lip, then slide it along the edge, pulling the siding out as you go. Then unzip any pieces above the damaged piece. Hold them out of the way with your elbow while you pry out the nails that hold the damaged piece in place (Photo 2). Slide the replacement piece up into place, pushing up until the lower lip locks into the piece below it. Drive 1-1/4-in. roofing nails through the nailing flange. Space them about every 16 in. (near the old nail holes). Nail in the center of the nailing slot and leave about 1/32 in. of space between the nail head and the siding so the vinyl can move freely. Don’t nail the heads tightly or the siding will buckle when it warms up. With the new piece nailed, use the zip tool to lock the upper piece down over it. Start at one end and pull the lip down, twisting the siding removal tool slightly to force the leading edge down (Photo 3). Slide the zip tool along, pushing in on the vinyl just behind the siding removal tool with your other hand so it snaps into place. It’s best to repair vinyl in warm weather. In temperatures below freezing, it becomes less flexible and may crack. The downside of replacing older vinyl siding is that it can be hard to match the style and color, and siding rarely has any identifying marks. The best way to get a replacement piece is to take the broken piece to vinyl siding distributors in your area and find the closest match. If the old vinyl has faded or you can’t find the right color, take the broken piece to a paint store and have the color matched. Paint the replacement piece with one coat of top-quality acrylic primer followed by acrylic house paint—acrylic paint will flex with the movement of the vinyl.

Required Tools for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY how to remove vinyl siding project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
  • Pry bar

Required Materials for this How to Remove Vinyl Siding Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
  • Zip tool
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Improving Attic Ventilation Installing soffit vents By Merle Henkenius of Today’s Homeowner

STEP TWO // Improving Attic Ventilation

Cut parallel lines

cutting the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, bore a 3⁄4- or 1-in.-dia. hole through the soffit right between the lines and measure the thickness of the soffit panel (probably 1⁄4 or 3⁄8 in.). Then set your circular saw to that depth and cut along the chalk lines. Cut the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw. Set the blade depth to barely cut through the thin soffit material.

Connect the two cuts

connecting the two cuts with a sharp chisel
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
When you near the end of the soffit, stop short and connect the two cuts with a sharp chisel or sabre saw. Once all cuts are made, use a thin pry bar to remove the 2-in. plywood strip. Pull any nails that remain in the soffit framing with a cat's paw. Then inspect the length of the vent cutout. If there's any insulation clogging the slot, pull it out or shove it back up.

Raise the vent up to the soffit

raising the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, lay the strip vent down on a flat wood surface, such as a plywood sheet or long 2 x 4, and drill 1⁄8-in.-dia. screw holes through both flanges. Space the holes 12 to 14 in. apart. With the help of an assistant, raise the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot.

Attach the vent to the soffit

using a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Use a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit with ½-in.-long No. 4 sheet-metal screws. Continue installing additional strip vents until you reach the far end. Trim the last vent to length using aviation snips.

Remove any insulation from the new vent

raking back blown-in insulation from the new soffit vent
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
The soffit vents are now installed, but you still need to make sure there's no insulation blocking the new vents. If the attic is insulated with fiberglass batts, just pull back any that are blocking the flow of air. If there's blown-in insulation, like ours, rake back the fluffy stuff with a 3- or 4-ft.-long 1 x 6, or use a garden rake or hoe.

Install the ventilation baffle

stapling a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS

Finally, to ensure that the airway to the vent remains open, staple a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing in each rafter bay. The molded polystyrene baffles, available at home centers and lumberyards for about $1 each, form channels that hold insulation at bay and direct incoming air upward.

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How to Build a Rustic Headboard By Thomas Baker of This Old House magazine

SKILL: MODERATE
While the mattress is the key to a bed’s comfort, the headboard is what defines its style. Case in point: this handsome planked headboard, which evokes the warmth and historical character of a stable in an old barn. This is an easy, straightforward project to build. Working together, TOH general contractor Tom Silva and TOH host Kevin O’Connor managed to complete it in just a few hours, using materials readily available at many home centers. The base is a sheet of ½-inch birch plywood backed by 2x4s, and the rough-sawn boards covering the plywood are stained, kiln-dried poplar from Weaber Lumber. Conveniently packed in boxes, these weathered wallboards are free of the bugs, fungi, and peeling paint that you might find in boards actually salvaged from abandoned barns. Because the poplar pieces don’t line up perfectly edge to edge, Tom painted the plywood black to make any gaps look like shadows.
STEP ONE // How to Build a Rustic Headboard

Overview

rough sawn headboard overview illustration
ILLUSTRATION BY DOUG ADAMS
Tom and Kevin take you step-by-step through the entire building process. If you like what you see, consider giving it a shot. You may soon find yourself dozing off beneath your own handmade headboard.
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