Protecting Ash Trees From An Invasive Pest
(NAPSI)—There’s good news for homeowners who have ash trees on their property. There is a simple way to protect this valuable tree.
In addition to creating a beautiful landscape, the benefit from a mature, healthy ash tree is about $217 a year in increased property value, air quality, cooling in summer, reduced heating costs and more, according to the National Tree Benefit Calculator.
However, they can be vulnerable to what some consider the most devastating of all invasive insect tree pests of the last 20 years—the emerald ash borer (EAB), a beetle native to Asia that was introduced to North America in 2002. EAB larvae live under the bark of the ash tree and feed on the tree’s transport tissue, starving the tree of nutrients.
EAB has already destroyed tens of millions of trees. In fact, most trees with EAB die in a few short years after the onset of symptoms.
Fortunately, one particular trunk injection treatment from Arborjet, administered by a professional applicator, will protect ash trees against EAB for up to two years, in many cases even if the trees are currently under attack.
Professionally applied trunk injection treatments cost a fraction of what tree removal and replacement does, which can be as much as $1,000 per tree.
Homeowners can look for a number of signs to identify EAB in ash trees, including a thinning canopy (upper layers of leaves), branches sprouting low on the trunk, bark that peels easily with lines appearing underneath, small D-shaped holes in the bark, and increased woodpecker damage.
For more information, visit www.arborjet.com.
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Single Multi-Tool Replaces Many Hand Tools
(NAPSI)—There’s good news for both construction pros and DIY warriors who never met a project they wouldn’t tackle.
The days of lugging a tool bag full of hand tools may be over thanks to the growing popularity of the multi-tool in the construction industry.
This versatile power tool can cut, grind, scrape and sand just about anything, so the requirement for a hand tool to do any one of those jobs is eliminated. In addition, multi-tool precision and power means you don’t have to have superpowers to operate one.
One Tool, Many Uses
The multi-tool, which operates with a side-to-side oscillating motion, sports a variety of blades and pads that do a professional-quality job on tasks such as notching doorjambs, removing baseboards, cutting drywall, removing old linoleum or carpeting, scraping paint, removing grout, and sanding railings, crown molding and other wood surfaces.
When comparing various brands of multi-tools, it’s wise to look for professional-quality accessories that can help you handle specific jobs.
Bosch offers the widest variety of quality accessories and the ability to change those accessories quickly. For example:
• At installation or remodeling time, the kitchen presents a diverse environment requiring a cutting tool for everything from cabinetry fitting to flooring installation.
• Flooring, wall coverings and windows may require scraping to tell a story in wood, glass, drywall and decorative metals from floor to ceiling.
• The basement remodel has become an important part of buying and selling a home. Potential buyers can see a movie or entertainment room with a bar or a children’s play area when old wall coverings are cut away to reveal bare floor joists and exposed insulation.
• Tough materials such as stone, concrete and composite wood may require grinding to configure an integrated outdoor living space.
The Right Interface
The Oscillating Interface System (OIS™) from Bosch maintains a 12-pin design that can be used on virtually every major manufacturer’s multi-tool.
And the system offers a number of added-value benefits, such as reduced vibration in blades for cutting hardwoods and metals and a color-coding system that’s integrated into the blade interface—gray for wood, white for wood and metal, blue for metal and gold for abrasive—that makes finding the right blade for the right job easier.
To learn more, visit www.boschtools.com.
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Design Tips That Can Help Keep Seniors Safer
(NAPSI)—Investing a little time and effort to create a safer environment for a senior can pay dividends when it comes to preventing falls.
This is significant, since falls that result in injury are one of the more serious threats faced by seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of three older adults (65 or older) falls each year. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency rooms; 662,000 of those patients were hospitalized.
To help, here are some tips from stylist, designer and host of the HGTV show “Secrets from a Stylist,” Emily Henderson.
She stresses that when considering a space for a senior citizen, it’s important to put thought into the little things, such as the shape of a counter or color of a duvet.
“The fact is that seniors and older adults are more prone to safety hazards and falls at home due to low balance, low vision and poor furniture choices,” says Henderson.
An expert on teaching her viewers and clients how to manipulate spaces to serve a purpose, she suggests the following:
• Get well rounded—Oval or circular tables without glass tops help keep rooms open and safe.
• Light the way—Place soft lighting near the bed and ensure that cords are tucked away to prevent tripping.
• Provide colorful contrasts—Walls, trim and floors should be in neutral or warm colors and should stand out from each other.
• Give bedding a boost—Create an inviting bed with pillows, throws and upholstery in different textures that contrast with the wall color.
• Stylize the storage—Add storage with an ottoman that has a hidden compartment or surface trays to minimize clutter in the space.
Henderson puts her tips into practice through her partnership with Sunrise Senior Living, which offers assisted living communities for seniors around the country. As part of the partnership, Sunrise holds an annual Suite Style Contest, in which a member of the Sunrise community can win a complete makeover of his or her suite from Henderson.
“Emily’s design tips and philosophy align closely with our goal of creating each Sunrise suite with comfort, convenience and safety in mind,” said Jeff Fischer, head of Operations. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with Emily and offer our residents the chance to win a personalized suite.”
To learn more, visit www.sunriseseniorliving.com/the-sunrise-difference/design.aspx.
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Freshen Up Your House With Color
(NAPSI)—A fast, fun and inexpensive way to give your home and your mood a lift is to freshen up your space in clever colors.
“Today’s decorating trends point to softer, lighter colors that reflect an optimistic and free-spirited approach to decorating,” says color expert Jackie Jordan. “Updated pastels and romantic colors bring a spirited vibe to a variety of home design themes, from coastal to contemporary to vintage or cottage chic.”
Here are some decorating tips for sprucing up your home with color:
• Rethink room colors. Blues and violets are often used in bedrooms but they can also bring an unexpected twist to a kitchen, dining room or sunroom. Even one wall painted in a new color can create an accent that redefines the space.
• Create colorful contrast. A living room painted in a floral color such as pastel yellow works beautifully in contrast with furnishings in deep neutral colors such as dark peppercorn gray.
• Think beyond walls. Paint can be added almost anywhere, even on unexpected surfaces. A vintage bedroom dresser painted a pale pastel blue or pink can bring a cottage-themed room to life. A bookcase in fresh green or pale aqua can bring outdoor colors into a porch or den.
• Ensure color harmony. To help, you can turn to the Softer Side color collection by HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams. It features 20 designer-inspired paint colors that are carefully coordinated to take the guesswork out of color selection in any one room, room to room or exterior.
• Have fun with patterns. Many paint colors are also specially designed to coordinate with wallpapers. Patterns with yellow leaves, green polka dots or large floral prints can add energy or a touch of whimsy to a room.
• Think colorfully indoors and out. A carefully selected splash of color can also uplift the exterior of your home. Painting your home’s front door or shutters in a fresh new hue can create a cheerful and inviting look.
• Get more color inspiration. You can do that when you visit a Sherwin-Williams store or www.sherwin-williams.com/color.
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Uncovering The Latest Trends Underfoot
(NAPSI)—From setting the right mood to creating a strong style statement, there’s no question that the floor is the single most important visual element in a home.
To help you find a way to put your floor to work for you, here’s a brief look at some of the latest trends in flooring.
Hardwood continues to be the fastest-growing segment in flooring due to its long-lasting durability and rich look. According to current home sale reports, an investment in hardwood floors pays off when it comes to the overall value of your home.
Lighter colors, longer and wider planks, and enhanced finishes are just a few of the style elements trending this year. Highly detailed wood grain surfaces are also in fashion as people seek to bring more natural, unfinished looks into their home.
Distressed, weathered, wire- brushed, soft-scrape, even “demolition-style” surface treatments are popular these days. Sun-bleached blondes, driftwood-inspired gray-browns and other matte finishes in white oak, walnut and maple varieties are gaining ground by making imperfection a design element.
Eco-friendly reclaimed wood sourced from historic buildings, factories, truck decks, mills, farms, food crates and other materials is another great option offering loads of character and unique, organically created surface textures that also easily mask scratches and wear.
Technology is also playing a large role in the category, offering machine-created finishes that are scratch, stain, moisture and humidity resistant. One new surface treatment even helps clean the air. Activated by light, titanium dioxide on the surface of the floor works like a living tree in your home. This natural purifier breaks down pollutants such as formaldehydes, which can be present throughout a home, and converts the toxins into harmless molecules.
Hardwood plank sizes are also changing in width and length. Wider planks are contemporary looking and give smaller rooms the illusion of a larger space. Longer boards, sourced from older trees, are increasingly popular for their pleasing look and structural integrity.
Coinciding with the durability trend, bamboo continues to grow in popularity for its diamond-hard surface and ability to perform in wet environments. As it is a reed that grows in water, bamboo is the only naturally sourced hard flooring that is moisture resistant. That makes it a great choice for kitchens and wet rooms.
Carpets today have come a long way from basic natural fibers such as wool and cotton. Synthetic alternatives offer some of the softest, most luxurious, easiest-to-care-for and affordable flooring surfaces in history.
New enzyme treatments in carpets create a moisture barrier between the carpet and the padding underneath, extending life span and enhancing appearance.
Completely eco-friendly carpets have also made an appearance. One manufacturer launched a carpet line made from 100 percent recycled plastic. The new synthetic fiber is affordable, durable, and soft to the touch.
Along with ever-popular shades of beige, sales of gray carpets are surging. To add some spice and avoid monotony, some manufacturers are presenting carpets with peppered bits of color against a neutral background. The new presentations help to hide flaws while adding dimension to rooms. Patterned carpets are also gaining ground, offering floral, diamond and winding vine looks.
Area Rug Trends
Area rugs are all about color, pattern and texture, and this season everything is coming up soft, warm and cozy. As with the hardwood category, a growing trend in soft surfaces is nature-inspired looks such as tree bark and stratified rock. You can even get a rug with a rippled surface that looks like a pond that a stone has been thrown into. Another eye-catcher is a shimmering rug that achieves a metallic look with finely woven nylon fibers that sparkle when struck by light.
You might not think sustainability when you think of area rugs, but think again. The ultimate in eco-friendly fibers—recycled paper—has made its way onto the floor in the form of a soft, cozy shag rug.
For those who want to customize the look of a room, one company offers interchangeable solid and multicolored square rug panels that can be interconnected through a Velcro backing. Consumers can buy the affordably priced 16x16-inch squares at their local flooring store and assemble them on their own.
This appears to be part of another emerging trend-low cost. Many are bypassing expensive heirloom pieces in place of more affordable rugs that make bold fashion statements and can be replaced in a season or two.
From ancient Greece to current day, tile is as practical as it is glamorous. Tile trends today include aluminum, porcelain planks that you’d swear are weatherworn hardwood, and microthin ceramic tiles. Tile is the low-maintenance option among hard-surface flooring materials—and ceramic and porcelain are excellent choices when it comes to longevity and value. Low porosity makes most sealed tile resistant to moisture, stains and bacteria, and thus uniquely hygienic.
Wood looks and natural stone treatments in ceramic tile are on the rise as consumers seek to bring the outdoors in. Porcelain planks made to look like hardwood floors can be placed where hardwood cannot go, including bathrooms and even pool decks. In addition, tile can be eco friendly, containing a high percentage of recycled materials.
Giant tiles, spanning two feet or more across, are becoming increasingly popular as they cover more surface area with less interruption of grout lines. In addition to clean lines and an ability to add dimension to small spaces, these tiles are easier to keep clean.
Some companies have presented microthin ceramic tile that can be laid over existing flooring, thereby reducing installation time and costs.
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is both affordable and easy to maintain. New technology lets LVT replicate the high-quality look of hardwood, granite, marble, slate and other materials. Color variations and even surface texture offer design elements that originated in nature. Unlike natural materials, however, LVT is very durable and quick to clean.
LVT is an excellent choice for wet environments such as bathrooms and kitchens. It is one of the easiest flooring materials to install, softer underfoot than other hard surfaces and warmer than tile and stone.
A chart topper when it comes to eco friendliness, cork is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, waterproof, a great insulator and extremely warm and comfortable to walk on. It repels dust and is even fire resistant. Plus, cork today is available in a rainbow assortment of colors, textures and new factory finishes to keep it durable.
Advancements in digital imaging technology let laminate—a photographic image fused beneath a protective layer—realistically mimic many materials. Today’s laminate flooring is versatile and cost effective whether you want a custom look or want to adopt the look of another type of flooring.
You can find facts and practical tips on every flooring category including the pros and cons; floor trends; varieties and styles available; things to consider before purchase; maintenance tips; and how to prepare for installation from the experts at the World Floor Covering Association at www.wfca.org and the blog FloorTalk.wfca.org. In addition, you can find the names and locations of reputable flooring retailers near you by visiting www.wfca.org.
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| (NAPSI)—Be warned: Dirt, allergens and pollutants may be lurking in the cleanest home, hidden away where you can’t see them—but you can get help getting rid of them.
The mold, fungi, bacteria and dust clogging your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can affect your family’s health.
Frequency of cleaning depends on whether there are pets or smokers in the house, there’s been water damage or remodeling done or anyone has allergies or asthma.
The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to have a professional contractor place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum.
Ask if the contractor you’re considering is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). These have a Code of Ethics and follow NADCA Standard.
Find a nearby association member at www.nadca.com.
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How To Have A Kid-Friendly Kitchen
(NAPSI)—A few simple steps can help you convince your kids that cooking, even cleaning, can be fun.
Here, from blogger Amy Mascott of Teachmama.com, are a few hints on how.
• Designate a few kid-only drawers low enough for little ones to reach and that hold only kid dishes, plates and flatware.
• Designate a special helper each day. That child acts as your assistant chef and helps prepare meals and set the table.
• Let them make menu choices. Sit down as a family and decide on the meals for the week ahead. Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, perhaps mango, lentils or kale. Make a grocery list, set aside coupons and gather up the ingredients.
• All but the youngest can probably help you unload the dishwasher, measure ingredients (a good way to help them learn math) and put away groceries.
• Create a kid zone in the refrigerator. To help, the new Whirlpool 4-Door French Door Refrigerator is flexible enough to accommodate every family’s needs, with a refrigerated fourth drawer that’s the right height for kids to keep their favorite snacks.
• Give each one a chance to organize the fridge the way he or she wants and snap a photo. You may be surprised how much each child’s personality shows through. Send it to www.facebook.com/whirlpoolusa or show your youngsters the other pictures on that site for inspiration.
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Outdoor Kitchens Are What’s In:
Top Tips For Creating A Better Outdoor Kitchen
(NAPSI)—It’s quickly becoming the most popular gathering space in the home.
And why not? It can come complete with pizza ovens, keg tappers, wine chillers and more. It can be the epicenter for home entertaining. It can be used to store, prep and serve your favorite dishes.
Of course, “it” is the outdoor kitchen.
According to a survey of residential landscape architects by the American Society of Landscape Architects, 92 percent said outdoor living spaces would be a popular design element in the coming year.
Not only do they add to the quality of life at home, outdoor kitchens can have a return on investment similar to an indoor kitchen remodel.
Outdoor kitchens can range from a grill, some cabinetry and countertop all the way up to something that resembles a backyard sports bar and grill complete with TV, sound system, keg tapper, pizza oven, grill and refrigerators.
With so many options available to homeowners, Russ Faulk, a nationally recognized expert on outdoor kitchen design and vice president of design for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, has several tips to keep in mind when thinking about creating an outdoor kitchen, no matter the budget.
A Better Fire
There’s one rule that should never be broken when deciding on appliances for the outdoor kitchen, said Faulk. That rule is “never scrimp on the grill,” he said.
“A grill drives overall satisfaction with the outdoor kitchen. When choosing a grill, think about the kind of cooking you aspire to, not the kind you do now,” Faulk said. “There are no uniform depths, widths or heights, so if you have a grill built into a countertop and you no longer like it, it may be a serious headache to have the grill replaced and the surrounding counter recut to fit it.”
While Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet is known for its Hybrid Fire Grill—which allows for cooking with gas, charcoal and wood all in one grill—there are many viable options at various price points. Finding one that will enable your cooking capabilities to grow is key.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Insufficient lighting and counter space are the two most common mistakes Faulk sees in outdoor kitchens. He said these mistakes greatly limit how well the kitchen works. “Without enough lighting around the grill, it’s hard to cook at night, especially in the spring or fall when night comes earlier,” he said. Faulk recommends placing lighting around or over the grill to see food being cooked, but make sure the lights’ beams are not blocked by the grill hood, causing a shadow to be cast over the cooking surfaces.
“You need space to work, stack and serve,” Faulk said of three major tasks that take place on a countertop. Having enough room in the right places is key to creating an outdoor kitchen that will be functional and enjoyable for years to come. Faulk said there should be several “landing areas”—or uninterrupted space—on the countertop where certain tasks can be accomplished.
“A grill should have 24 inches of counter space on one side and 12 inches on the other, so the cook can take food from one platter and put it on the grill,” Faulk said. “After the food is done, the cook can take it off the grill and place it on a platter on the other side of the grill.” He said sinks should have 18 inches on either side to give enough room to wash food or stack dirty dishes.
Staying Cold and Dry
Not all cabinetry or refrigeration is made the same. Before deciding on a piece of refrigeration, Faulk suggests asking two questions: “Is it rated as food safe?” and “Can it be kept outside all year?”
“Lots of people are surprised to learn about what’s available for outdoor refrigeration—drawers, freezers, beverage chillers and even keg tappers,” said Faulk. “By asking if the refrigeration is rated food safe, you learn that the unit can hold a set interior temperature even when the thermometer rises above 95 degrees outdoors. Food-safe refrigeration means that poultry and other groceries won’t go bad and drinks will stay chilled to the temperature that best suits you.”
Faulk also suggests asking if outdoor refrigeration can be left outdoors all year, even during the winter.
“Several manufacturers suggest bringing the appliances indoors during the winter,” he said. “They’re difficult to remove in the fall and even harder to replace and make level in the spring. It’s just easier on homeowners if they have a unit that can be kept outside all year long.”
While some think a cabinet is a cabinet, Faulk said not all are created equal. “Look for cabinetry that has a way of keeping the elements out, full-extension shelves and all its parts made of stainless steel,” he said.
To protect from rain and the elements, weather-tight cabinetry is another good investment. There are different ways to keep the inside of a cabinet dry, including magnetic gaskets that create a seal, or rain gutters—which are built into Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s cabinetry—that surround the door and drawer openings to channel water away.
Whether you’re adding a grill and counter space to your backyard or building a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, incorporating design fundamentals is key. It will ensure that your family and friends will have a truly memorable experience—every time, for years to come.
The smallest details make a big difference in how an outdoor kitchen works. Here are some of Faulk’s favorite insider tips that make an outdoor kitchen even better.
On The Edge—A drip edge is a narrow, shallow groove cut into the underside of the countertop. Its purpose is to prevent water from curling under the counter and into cabinets. By cutting a ?-inch-deep groove that’s just ¼ of an inch from the counter edge, a barrier is created that interrupts water from making its journey under the counter and into your cabinets.
BTU-tiful Power—To get the best performance out of the gas appliances in an outdoor kitchen, they have to be fed the proper amount of fuel. That means the pipe sending gas to the appliances has to be the right size. Take into account everything that will be using the supply of gas. For example, do you have a pool that will be heated off the same pipe that the grill is using? Likewise, do you have a fire pit that will be fed from that pipe? If that is the case, the contractor needs to take all those factors into account. Then he’ll determine the proper size of the gas line to effectively feed enough power to everything.
Pump It—If it’s going to cost too much to run a water line to the outdoor kitchen, but you still want a sink and running water to wash veggies and other items, use an RV pump. “I know it seems unorthodox, but I have seen where this has been a really economical and efficient solution to having running water without the expense of running a water line,” said Faulk.
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