Painting Tips

Refresh Your Space Kitchen Makeovers Window Screens Garage Remodeling

Spring Cleaning List

Saving Energy Dimmer Switch Lawn Mower Fuel Care

Before Painting, Pause To Consider The Paws

(NAPSI)—Painting, inarguably, is the most economic home makeover. And for any pet-populated household where the roller and brush are being readied to hit the walls, you may want to take pause for the paws and make sure the paint being used is a smart choice for your pet as well as for all of your family.

Going green—eco friendly—in your selection can help ensure the safest solution. When it comes to paint, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are no-nos. VOCs are groups of chemicals often found in conventional paints and other building and decorating materials. Exposure to them can pose health risks.

So a zero-VOC interior paint, like Benjamin Moore's Natura, can be an ideal choice, especially since it remains at zero VOC even with the addition of the colorants needed to tint it the deepest, most saturated of hues.

The paint also enjoys a checklist of other advantages. It is virtually odorless, dries fast, has excellent adhesion and provides a durable finish.

What's more, while Natura is sustainable "green," the color green is just but one of more than 3,300 color choices available, plus it can be custom color matched to personal specifications.

It has a durable, washable and fade-resistant finish that will look freshly painted year after year.

The millions of Americans who open their hearts and homes to pets—America's pet dog population is estimated to be at about 77.5 million, and the cat count at more than 80 million—may find it reassuring to know there are ways to make their living space a safer and more colorful environment.

For more information, visit www.benjaminmoore.com.

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Little Switches Can Make All The Difference

(NAPSI)—Even the best relationships can get stale, so Patti Stanger, relationship specialist and star of Bravo TV's hit show "The Millionaire Matchmaker," offers tips on how little switches can make all the difference in people's relationships and lives.

"After my clients find their matches, I remind them how important it is to switch things up," suggests Stanger, who is partnering with the Cottonelle brand to share expert relationship advice. "Just one little switch in your routine can get you out of a relationship rut."

Surprise your partner: On a random day, surprise your spouse with something he or she would love. Make a favorite meal, buy favorite flowers or leave a heartfelt note on the nightstand. Whatever it is, make sure it's personal to show you listen and you care.

Get active: Find time to raise your heart rate with your mate. Join a gym together, sign up for dance lessons or go bowling. Get those feel-good endorphins going to help strengthen your bond while doing something positive for yourself.

Get out: When schedules are hectic, going on dates often falls off the priority list. Commit to have one date night a month and switch off who plans it. It can be as simple as dinner and a movie, as long as it gets you out of the house and tuned in to each other without your kids or other distractions.

Upgrade: It's hard to love others if you don't love yourself first. Visit the salon and get a new hair- style or professional makeup application to freshen up your look. Be sure to ask the artist questions so you can re-create the look at home.

Refresh your space: Home is another place that may deserve a makeover. Little switches such as a new paint color can boost your mood. Try something new in the bathroom by adding candles, indulging in luxury bath towels or switching from other toilet paper to Cottonelle Ultra bath tissue, the thickest bath tissue in the aisle (compared to double-roll equivalent bath tissue), to make your home more pleasant for both of you.

Want more help spicing up your relationship? Now through May 1, you may have a chance to win up to 90 daily prizes—including dance lessons for two, salon treatments, a home theater and more—each designed to inspire those little switches to help get you out of a relationship rut. To enter the "Make the Ultra Switch" sweepstakes, visit the Web site www.CottonelleUltraSwitch.com. No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase your chance of winning. Promotion ends 5/1/11. Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada who are 21+ years.


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In A "Stay-Put Economy," Homeowners Turn To Budget-Friendly Kitchen Makeovers

(NAPSI)—It's been called The Stay-Put Economy. And if you're still living in a house you'd hoped to sell by now, you probably know why.

Too many potential buyers are waiting to see if home prices have further to fall. And too many homeowners who may actually have gotten some bites-more like lowball nibbles, really-are locked into mortgages that would require taking so big a loss on a sale that their heads hurt just thinking about it.

"Recessions have a way of freezing things," The Atlantic magazine recently wrote.

And so, like you, they stay put. And ask themselves, Now what?

Well, the realistic approach, experts say, is to accept that this new reality is likely to last for the foreseeable future, and concentrate on making your current home more comfortable. Attic conversions are big in some circles. But unless you've got a relative camping out on the living room sofa till the job market turns, you might want to stick with the one room-the kitchen-that's the hub of most homes' activity and needn't cost a fortune to spruce up.

Read on for some budget-friendly makeover ideas:

• Floor and Backsplash Tiles. Consumer Reports says kitchen remodeling today "is all about what you need, rather than some over-the-top designer's checklist." In other words, "out": imported hand-painted ceramic; "in": porcelain, glass, metal and glaze. A Handy Tip: For a fresh and unique look, use different-sized tiles laid out in elegant patterns.

• Cabinets. Entire budgets have been eaten up on just the cost of high-end cabinet replacements alone. Of the other two alternatives-refacing and refinishing-the latter (which also includes repainting) is the most economical. According to DoItYourself.com, all wood and plywood cabinets can be repainted, whereas metal, laminate or melamine pose more of a challenge. A Handy Tip: Use a spray-on finish for the most uniform coverage.

• Appliances. If you've long coveted a sleek gourmet kitchen but the cost made you wince as much as you did when you heard Meryl Streep's voice in that Julia Child movie, you're in luck: The luxury brand Dacor® has come out with a new "Distinctive™ Series" line of appliances, including a range, dishwasher, cooktops and wall ovens that provides an upscale look and quality for less than other high-end models (www.dacor.com). And since the kitchen is responsible for nearly half of a home's energy consumption, here's one place you can (truthfully) tell yourself that upgrading saves money over time, since new appliances tend to be much more energy efficient. A Handy Tip: The exclusive Pure Convection system on the Distinctive Wall Ovens features a triple-mesh filter that allows you to cook multiple items at the same time without worrying about flavors transferring from one dish to another-thus making for faster meal preparation.

One last thing to remember: If and when you do finally sell your home, the return on investment from kitchen remodeling can be as high as 72.1 percent, depending on the work that was completed. Now do you feel better?


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What You Need To Know When Replacing Windows

(NAPSI)—Your home is a major investment and replacing outdated, inefficient windows can be an important step in protecting that investment.

New windows can lower your heating and cooling bills, block harmful UV rays, reduce exterior noise and increase a home's resale value. Replacement windows come in a variety of styles and materials, the most popular of which are steel, vinyl and wood.

Besides deciding on the frame, it's also important to consider the kind of insect-screening material that will be used.


Choosing the right kind of screening can help replace some of the light that may be lost when installing energy-efficient windows. The low-e glass used in many windows today helps to save energy but it does so by reducing the amount of light transmitted through windows. Standard screen material can dim light even further.

One of the advantages of screening materials such as Phifer's UltraVue is that they improve "daylighting" by providing 25 percent more optical clarity for a crisper, brighter outward view.


The second reason many experts prefer UltraVue Excellent Visibility Insect Screen is superior ventilation, because the 15 percent greater openness provides 25 percent better airflow.

The screens are also infused with Microban antimicrobial protection, helping to provide an additional level of cleanliness protection that won't wash or wear away for the lifetime of the screen. Microban inhibits the growth of stain- and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew, and works continuously to keep screens cleaner for longer.

The screens are Greenguard certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI) for superior indoor air-quality performance, and certified for meeting the more stringent GEI Children and Schools standards for commercial use.

All products certified by GEI must pass a series of rigorous emissions tests and undergo quarterly tests, as well as annual recertification to ensure their low emission status is maintained. The certification is a requirement reference in the Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design for Commercial Interiors Rating System.

Look for manufacturers, such as Phifer, that offer UltraVue preinstalled in their windows. A professional contractor can help you choose windows and screens to fit your requirements and budget.

For more information about the complete improved-visibility screening lines, including UltraVue and others such as BetterVue, please visit www.phifer.com.


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Tips On Getting More Use Out Of Your Garage

(NAPSI)—A growing number of homeowners are finding they can save money and get more from their home by reorganizing and remodeling their garage.

It's estimated there are more than 70 million garages (2007 Garage and Storage Shed Trends) in the United States and some say the average two-car garage has never been larger. Yet, due to the overflow of storage, few homeowners ever get to take full advantage of all the space it has to offer. Fortunately, there may be a way to change all that.

Turning a garage into a room

Many homeowners are starting to view their garage as yet another area of a home that, if properly organized, can become another fully functional and spacious room of the home.

"By reclaiming the garage and making it a functional part of the home, families can get more entertainment and storage space than they've realized," said Mario D'Ovidio, general manager, Gladiator GarageWorks. "Make the garage work for you. When everything has its place, you may just need a quick sweep of the broom to get the space in tip-top shape to host a tailgate party or a happy hour."

Space and convenience

Start by looking at your garage and determining how it's used and where the entry points are in the space. Then determine what areas should be created and where they should be located to maximize space and convenience.

For instance, creating a recycling area near the entry door to the house limits the need to trek across the garage when tossing in those newspapers and aluminum cans.

Think dual purpose

Another way to save is to invest in pieces that are modular—items that can serve a dual purpose. For example, one such item is the Gladiator GarageWorks Bamboo Modular Workbench. The workbench, which is made of sustainable materials, was originally conceived as a workspace for garage hobbyists. However, the sturdy, natural work surface can also work as a buffet table, bar or kids' crafting station.

The company offers a full line of workbenches, cabinets, wall systems and components, such as shelves, baskets, bins and hooks, designed to help homeowners get more from their space.

To learn more, visit www.gladiatorgarageworks.com.


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10 Items To Put On Your Home Spring Cleaning List

(NAPSI)—The changing seasons are a reminder that it's time to check around the house to make sure things are operating properly and safely. Here are 10 often overlooked tasks to add to your home spring cleaning list.

1. Defrost the freezer: Ice buildup makes freezers less efficient and takes up space. Throw away out-of-date or freezer-burnt food.

2. Update the first-aid kit: Replace missing supplies and update emergency contact information, including the poison control center.

3. Donate old clothes: Clean out closets and take unused clothes to a clothing donation center.

4. Clean up the computer: Delete old files and e-mails, organize documents and photos into folders and run a virus scan.

5. Clean the chimney: Hire a chimney sweep to clear the flue and perform an inspection.

6. Caulk and weather strip: Keep rain from seeping in and cooled or heated air from seeping out by caulking around windows and doors.

7. Drain the hot water heater: Check for rust and remove sediment that may have collected at the bottom of your hot water heater.

8. Call the termite inspector: Termites establish new colonies every spring, so get a professional inspection of your home.

9. Review your family emergency plan: Have an established plan in case of fire or other emergency. Make sure windows and other escapes are easy to open from the inside.

10. Check batteries: There are 21 battery-operated devices in the average home—from flashlights to smoke detectors to cordless phones. Test each device and replace the batteries with fresh ones.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 3,000 people in the United States lose their lives in residential fires every year. You should test smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries inside at least twice a year. Also replace smoke alarm batteries if the detector emits a warning sound, such as chirping or beeping. Make sure there's at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, particularly inside or near sleeping areas.

To help householders, Interstate Batteries makes 16,000 different kinds of batteries for powering cars, laptops and everything in between. The company's All Battery Centers promise to have, find or build the right battery for just about any gadget around your home.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.interstatebatteries.com

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Dim A Little, Save A Lot

(NAPSI)—Rising energy costs and recent legislation—called the Energy Independence and Security Act—are encouraging many homeowners to reduce energy consumption. This means new, energy-efficient light sources are more popular than ever. It also makes dimming the lights more than a way to set a nice mood. It's a way to save electricity.

Dimming an incandescent or halogen light just 25 percent can save you up to 20 percent in energy—and makes your lightbulbs last up to 20 times longer.

Though compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and screw-in light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs use less energy than typical incandescent and halogen bulbs do, historically, they've not been compatible with light dimmers. Lights have been known to drop out, not turn on and/or turn off unexpectedly.

To help, there's the new C·L dimmers from Lutron. They work not only with incandescent and halogen bulbs, but also with dimmable CFLs and LEDs.

Learn more at www.lutron.com/cflled.


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Don't Be "Fuelish" With Your Lawn Mower Care

(NAPSI)—When it comes to getting the most from a lawn mower or other power equipment, using the wrong blend of fuel or skipping off-season maintenance just won't cut it.

The fuel blends and ethanol percentages that may be right for cars—an ethanol concentration greater than 10 percent—are not recommended for power equipment or marine engines.

Also, any fuel blend stored in an unused engine may degrade over time and harm small engines.

That's why, experts say, it's a good idea for consumers to take lawn mowers and other power products to an authorized dealer at the end of each season. "This is a good way to allow a trained professional to properly dispose of unused fuel and ensure the product is ready for next season," said Mike Rudolph, senior manager, Honda Engines.

Consumers can also use fuel stabilizer when not using an engine for more than 30 days. To learn more, visit the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute at www.opei.org.


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