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posted: 9/28/2012 4:32 AM

Give your front door a quick, inexpensive facelift

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If you could give your front door a facelift in one weekend, would you do it? Of course you would! Here are some of our favorite inexpensive upgrades for the front entry of your home.

• The door is the focal point of your front entry. What would a fresh coat of paint or a new layer of stain do for it? It's the one place you can add a real splash of color, and it doesn't have to match anything else on the front of your home. If you have shutters or trim on your house already, match the door frame to that color. The door itself can be any color.

• If you have lighting near the door, consider changing it out. A new style really can make a difference.

• If you don't have address numbers anywhere on your home, you can add these to the front entry. Choose large, easy-to-see numbers. Put them right on your door, over it or next to it. You even can put them on the step risers if you have room.

• A new doormat can make a big statement, too. Put a new one out every season.

• Add some greenery or flowers to your front entry. New, large pots full of plants really can jazz up a dull entry.

• Add a wreath on the door. Several options are available. These can be switched out with the seasons or months, or just whenever you feel like it.

All of these ideas are pretty easy to do, can be taken care of in a weekend and won't cost you a fortune. Have some fun and make a statement!

Don't forget to weatherstrip!

Weatherstripping your doors and windows can save you a bundle on air-conditioning and heating bills. You can use anything from peel-and-stick foam to metal or rubber gaskets. One little tip: Don't forget to weatherstrip your attic, basement and crawl space doors, and even the door between your garage and house. This really will make a difference!

Versatile PVC scraps

PVC pipe is great for so many projects. We use it a lot. It's hard to throw away the scraps, too, because you never know when you'll need one. We have a great project to help you use up some of the scraps, the smaller-diameter pieces especially. Cut them into 1-inch sections and line them up, side by side, on your workbench. Then glue them together with PVC pipe adhesive. You can hang this line of pipe sections on your shop wall, pegboard panel or several other places. Now you can stick your screwdrivers down into the pipes. The handle of a screwdriver won't fit through the pipe, and it will be easy to grab while you are working.

Super hints

• You can spend a lot of time cleaning the grout off the tiles after you are done grouting them, or you can apply it more carefully and avoid the big cleanup. Just put it into a squeeze bottle and squeeze it right between the tiles, avoiding slopping on the tiles.

• A flat dust mop can get into tight areas that other tools can't. It can get the dust from under your refrigerator, your oven, behind radiators and lots of other tight spots. Add a little water or furniture polish to the mop to grab even more of the dust. I like the Swiffer, but there are tons of these on the market now, and they all work pretty well.

• If you are looking for touch-up paint for specific items around your home, like countertops, sinks, tile, vinyl and other areas, make a run to your hobby and craft store. Many times these stores have such products in smaller quantities and more colors than the standard hardware store.

Q. I got a great deal on a prefab pond, and I want to install it in my courtyard. I want to run a water line to it so it will be easy to water the surrounding plants. What type of pipe should I use for this?

A. Check your local building codes for guidelines. Be careful when digging, and make sure you don't cut through phone, gas, cable or other utilities when digging. If it's OK, use PVC pipe. It's easy to work with, inexpensive and should be fine for this purpose. Consider installing a freeze-proof faucet or a cutoff where it hooks up to your existing supply line so that you can prevent freezing pipes during the winter.

Q. My dryer is old, but it still works fine. I don't really want to replace it, but it's starting to rust in some areas. It lives in our basement, so I guess the humidity has gotten to it throughout the years. What's the best way to remove the rust and prevent more?

A. Use sandpaper or a rotary tool to remove all of the rust. Then use epoxy paint over the metal spots to protect them from more rust. Use the type that can take the high temperatures that a typical dryer has to endure. You also should address the moisture problems, as they can cause more than a small rust problem on your dryer. Add a dehumidifier if you need to.

Q. My kitchen sink's faucet is loose at the base. It works fine but is just a little wobbly. I've tried twisting the base part on the bottom of the faucet, but this hasn't done much to tighten it into place. Is there any way to tighten it, or should I use caulk or something to hold it in place better?

A. Take a look under the sink and see if you can spot a large, threaded ring on the underside of the faucet. This ring probably is a little loose. You might be able to tighten it by hand. You can use a spanner wrench to tighten it if you have one. If not, try to push a flat-bladed screwdriver against the notched edge of the ring and tap it gently with a hammer to tighten it a little. The joints around the faucet parts also should be caulked on the top side of the sink to prevent leaks into your cabinet, so do this when you have finished tightening the faucet. Good luck!

Reader tips

• We made a super stand for our new television. We bought a classic dresser from an estate sale. It needed some work, so we started working on it. We put stain on the areas that were worn. We removed the drawers and painted the inside of these areas to match the outside. We placed it in the family room, put the TV on top and started filling the open areas where the drawers used to be with all of our components and some DVDs. It really looks nice, and is so unique.

• We bought a boat this past spring and have had a blast this summer. I've done some things to my boat trailer to make it better. One of the things I did was add some reflectors on all sides to make it easier to see on a dark boat dock. They were peel-and-stick reflectors, and I had some left over. I put these on my mailbox, trash-can holder and along the fence in the alley.

• I was painting and wasn't as neat as I needed to be. In fact, I got paint on my hands, then on the phone, doorknobs and kitchen faucet. Boy, was my wife mad! I cleaned it up quickly, though, so I redeemed myself. I sprayed a little WD-40 on all these surfaces, and the paint wiped right off. Thank goodness. It worked fast!

• I used to smoke, but I've quit now and am very happy that I have. It was hard, for sure. I kept the bucket of sand that I used to use as an ashtray in my shop for old times' sake. I started putting my screwdrivers in it and found that it was super handy. I cleaned it out and put in fresh sand, and started using it all the time for screwdrivers. Try it yourself.

• I bought a new cutting board and thought it was perfect. The first time I used it, I cut my finger because it slid when I was chopping onions. My husband fixed it for me, in just a few minutes. He glued some rubber washers to the bottom of the cutting board. These keep the board from sliding and, hopefully, me from injuring myself again!


• If you've always wanted stone veneer on or in your home, you need to take a look at AirStone. This ultralight covering system is easy for just about anyone to install. You use a pre-mixed adhesive to glue the pieces to the wall, and AirStone is easy to cut with a hacksaw. It weighs 75 percent less than standard stone. It's even made from recycled products, and it can be used indoors or out. Use it over brick, concrete and even drywall. Do a small project or give your whole house a facelift. It's available at your local Lowe's. You can see more details about the product, including installation instructions, at

• Check out the Designer Pet Eatery In-Wall Pet Bowl. It's made to install easily between wall studs at whatever height you choose. Bowls can be folded up to hide away or pulled out and filled with water and food for your four-legged friends. The bowls can be removed for cleaning. Look for these at PetSmart stores or online at

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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