Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The Holidays are officially upon us, which means time to celebrate the season with friends and family.  Why not go beyond the normal cleaning and organizing and create a festive and comfortable environment for your guests. 

Here are just a few do-it-yourself projects, that won’t deplete your gift giving budget, and are likely to create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere to any room.
Let’s start with the front door…not only will this improve the curb appeal of your home, your holiday wreath will look better hanging from a freshly painted or stained door.

Lighting:  Bright lights are great for entertaining and everyday activities, but if you are looking for a quieter, more intimate environment, try dimming the lights.  Dimmers can range from low candlelight glow to daylight bright.  Another aspect to consider when creating mood lighting is layering.  By adding floor lamps, wall sconces and accent lighting, which could be as simple as lighting candles or having your displayed art lit up, this will help to set the mood you desire. Another option is adding a small table lamp in the guest bedroom instead of just having an overhead light.  By offering several sources of light, you can change any room from an energetic place to a more peaceful and intimate atmosphere.

How about a fresh coat of paint to the living room, kitchen, dining room and/or guest bedroom?  Paint is one of the most economical ways to revitalize a tired and dingy room.   If you don't have time to do the entire room, just do an accent wall....you only have to do one wall to make a big difference.  If your living room has a fireplace, just paint that wall to really make the fireplace pop out....especially if you really dress up the mantle for the holidays.  A fresh coat of paint will give a room a like-new appearance and provide the perfect backdrop for your holiday d├ęcor.

And finally, is your guest bathroom kind of drab or otherwise boring?  How about adding some new fixtures or hardware such as stylish knobs to your cabinets to dramatically impact the feel?  Don’t forget to add some festive holiday towels to the new towel bar you just installed, while you’re at it.

By taking care of some of these simple do-it-yourself projects....you are not only making an immediate impact on your friends and family, but think of it as an early Christmas gift to yourself.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daylight Savings Time….. a Good Time to Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Now that Daylight Savings is officially here, not only do you change your clocks, but you are encouraged to test your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors as well as change the batteries.  Testing and replacing batteries is one of the easiest and most effective home improvements you can do to protect you and your family from fire and/or carbon monoxide poisoning.  Batteries should be changed at least one time per year….I either recommend at the beginning or end of Daylight Savings (or both), or January 1st…whichever is easier for you to remember.

Things to remember:
  1. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing your smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least one time per month.
  3. You and your family should practice fire drills and why your at it…have an emergency kit near by.  Check out my blog from last year on Emergency Preparedness Tips.

 Here are some facts I came across on the internet:

  •  Although smoke detectors are present in 94 % of American homes, 20% do not work, mostly because of dead or missing batteries. That means roughly 19 million homes are at risk due to non-working smoke alarms and another 6 million homes are at risk due to no smoke alarms.
  • In the U.S. roughly 80% of fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke detectors. Half of the home fire deaths resulted from fires in the small percentage of homes (6%) without any smoke detectors.
  • If a fire occurs, working smoke detectors cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half by providing early warning and critical extra seconds to escape.
  • Eighty-three (83) percent of all civilian fire-related deaths are a result of home fires.
  • The National Fire Alarm Code recommends a minimum of one smoke alarm on each level of a home, including one inside each bedroom for new construction and one outside each sleeping area.
  • In addition to changing smoke alarm batteries, smoke detectors should be replaced every ten (10) years.
  • Somewhere in the nation, a home fire death occurs approximately every three hours.
  • The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10 pm and 6 am –When most people are sleeping.
  • Households with non-working smoke detectors now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Importance of replacing a rotten sub-floor

In the past few months I have done a lot of sub-floor repairs in bathrooms due to water damage from leaking showers, tubs and/or toilets.  One job I just recently completed, the toilet was literally sinking into the floor. (See photo)
Sinking toilet

I first removed the toilet and found that the wax ring was completely deteriorated, and had been for some time now, by the extent of the damage done.  After the toilet was removed, I pulled up the old vinyl flooring to access the rotten sub-floor.  Once this was done I was able to assess the amount of damage and note which areas I needed to repair.  I then cut out the damaged sub-floor and reinforced and supported the water-damaged floor joists.  It was then time to replace the rotten sub-floor with a tongue-and-groove plywood sub-flooring and then install the underlayment, which sits between the sub-floor and the flooring material.
Damaged Sub-Floor due to leaking toilet

After sub-floor has been removed

Once the sub-floor was repaired it was time to lay the new vinyl plank flooring.  The tenant was thrilled as well as relieved, as the fear of falling through the floor was no longer a threat! :-)

Finished product - New Vinyl Plank Floor installed

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Benefits of Power Washing

Before/After of Deck in San Anselmo, CA
Your home is most likely the largest investment you will make; so why not take the time and effort to take care of it? Power (aka pressure) washing not only will increase the curb appeal of your home and/or business exteriors, but can also help to increase the value of your investment.

Due to the damaging effects of weather, it is also critical to have your fences, decks/patios and walkways pressure washed and stained and/or sealed on a regular basis as not only will they turn an ugly shade of gray, they also will deteriorate due to algae/moss, dirt and mold.  This damage can be irreversible if not maintained on a regular basis.  

Before Pressure Washing
By having these services done, whether you do-it-yourself, or hire a professional, it can help eliminate the risk of future repairs, renovation and replacements of the building materials that make up your home, fence and decks.  The end result being an affordable way to keep a well maintained outer surface that will be free from harmful dirt, mold, mildew, algae/moss and grease, which will restore and extend life and keep your largest investment looking its best!

After Pressure Washing (Before Stain)

If you are interested in learning more about having your home, property or business power washed, please give me a callsteveshandymanservice.org or email me and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  I look forward to hearing from you.  ~Steve

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Here are some Energy Fun Facts I came across.....GREAT reminders to help save energy and money!!

  • Did you know that your home's largest energy users are its heating and cooling systems? Typically, about half of your energy bill goes for heating and cooling.
  • Set the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. For each degree you can set the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter, you will save about 2-3% on heating/cooling costs.
  • Shut the door and close off vents in unused rooms and save up to 2-3% on heating/cooling costs.
  • All the appliances you plug in account for about a third of your home's energy use, with refrigerators and clothes dryers at the top of the list.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators require about half as much energy as models manufactured before 1990.
  • Increasing your lighting efficiency is one of the fastest ways to decrease your energy bills. Compact fluorescent lamps use about two-thirds less electricity. Install them in lights that you leave on for more than two hours a day.
  • Keep the clothes dryer lint filter clean, and wash and dry full loads only.
  • Water heating is the second largest individual energy user in your home. It typically accounts for about 15 percent of your utility bill.
  • Lower water heater temperature from 140 to 120 degrees and save up to 10% on water heating costs.
  • Insulate your water heater tank if it feels warm, as well as the hot water piping leaving the tank and save up to 5% on water heating costs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Are you thinking about spiffing up your home but afraid it’s going to cost you a fortune?  Well, take a look at some inexpensive ways to add value to your home without breaking the bank.

Let’s start in the kitchen as this is still considered the heart of the home:

  •  Replace your kitchen faucet set
  •  Add new hardware to your cabinets
  •   Change out old lighting fixtures and add some new brighter, more energy-efficient ones.
  •  Another great idea is if the appliances in your kitchen don’t match, for example your refrigerator is white but your dishwasher is black, many dishwashers’ panels are reversible and are white on one side and black on the other.  It can be as simple as removing a couple of screws and flipping the panel over.  If not, you can always order new panels from the manufacturer.  This is much cheaper than buying all new appliances.

Next, let’s work on the bathroom:  

  •  Replace your old vanity with a new one or add a pedestal sink.  These are relatively inexpensive and are pretty easy for a homeowner to install.
  • Like the kitchen, new fixtures really make your bathroom feel new and clean.  Add a new towel bar, faucet, light fixtures and even some new towels, soap dishes, etc.
  •  Install new flooring using vinyl planking…easy to install and inexpensive as well.  In most cases, this can be applied directly over the existing floor.
  •   Re-grout your tub/shower to help brighten it up.
  • Re-paint and maybe even add some wainscot to the walls.  I did this in our guest bathroom and my wife loves the way it looks.
  •  Install a pullout mirror

                                               Closets/storage areas and laundry center: 

  • Add some do-it-yourself closet organizing systems to your bedroom closets, kitchen pantry, laundry center and entryway closets to create a more functional and updated storage area.

Trim and Paint:

  • Paint a room with an updated color; add some new trim and even a chair rail and crown molding to really improve the look and feel of your home.

 Let there be light:

  • How about a new chandelier for your dining room?
  • Ceiling fan with light kit for your bedroom or family room.  If you already have one of these, but are looking for an updated version, try purchasing replacement blades to update the fixtures look.
  • Don’t forget about the electrical outlets…Just add new cover plates if you want a new, cleaner look.
  •  Replace your old lamp shades with new ones.

Improve the Curb Appeal of your home with these ideas:

  •  New door handle and lock set to your front door
  •  Consider painting an older front door and the trim around it
  •   Add a decorative door knocker and/or doorbell
  •   A new doormat
  •   A new front porch light
  •  Add a large flowering plant or two near the front door
  •   A new mailbox