Sunday, February 5, 2017

3 ways to turn discarded wood into beautiful home decor

(BPT) - The saying, "what's old is new again" has been around for years, but most recently represents a popular trend in interior design - upcycling old items with a new purpose. Everyone from high-end designers to DIYers are enjoying and incorporating this trend into their everyday life. From five-star restaurants to suburban living rooms, people are seeking out weathered pieces of wood, discarded metal and unlikely antiques to create a unique, down to earth, and comfortable design aesthetic in their living spaces.
An unusual hero of this new design trend is the wooden pallet, which can easily be purchased at any hardware store. With some creativity and know how, these inexpensive items can be re-purposed to create a personalized statement in your home that you'll love.
Re-imagine your wall
Today, walls are for paint and pictures, but even if you've fallen in love with a certain color for your living room, don't you think your walls can have more personality? They absolutely can, and one way people are adding new life to their walls is by paneling them with reclaimed wood. To achieve this look, purchase a number of pallets, cut them into various sizes and arrange them on your wall.
To enhance the natural beauty of the wood and to show off your own personal style, pick a few of your favorite stain colors and apply them to the wood. If you are looking for bright and bold colors or subtle cottage inspired tones, check out Minwax(R) Water Based Wood Stains. For traditional, rich wood tones, try Minwax(R) Wood Finish(TM). It's a deep penetrating stain that offers an array of colors, so you can create a display of contrast and patterns on your walls that can be truly stunning. After staining your wood pallet, don't forget to protect it with a clear protective finish.
Create a fun and functional piece
If you're someone who is always looking to free up cabinet or counter space, use a wooden pallet to create a rustic mug holder. For this project, all you need to do is add hooks to a few of the wood slats for the mugs to hang from. Get creative with this pallet by painting a design or phrase such as "But First, Coffee" on the top wooden slat.
You can add some dimension to wood by staining it with Minwax(R) Wood Finishing Cloths(TM). These convenient one-step cloths are pre-moistened with stain and finish allowing for easy application and clean up. They're available in five beautiful colors from Natural Oak to Dark Mahogany, allowing you to achieve that rustic feel.
Update your headboard
If you are looking to give your bedroom a makeover, consider building a headboard for your bed out of pallet wood.
The idea here isn't to make an even, straight-edged piece; rather it's to embrace a more rustic style.
Start by gathering your wood pallets and applying Minwax(R) Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to prepare the bare wood surface for staining. It will help to prevent streaks and blotches by allowing for even stain absorption. Once the wood has been prepared, apply your favorite stain color. With over 100 colors to choose from, you are sure to find a color that will showcase your personal style.
Using different lengths and widths, arrange the boards so they span the width of your bed. Attach a few long pieces across the back to serve as crossbeams that hold it together. The variation in sizes will create a jagged top and make a big statement.
These are just a few of the many possibilities you can create with pallet wood. From wall d├ęcor to nightstands and tables, all you need is some wooden pallets, stain, clear protective finish and a little creativity, and you'll be able to integrate this design trend into your home!

4 tips to help keep your home warm, comfortable and energy efficient this winter

(BPT) - With winter comes the holiday season, a time that's supposed to be associated with "comfort and joy." But how joyful will it be if pests invade your house, or if your home is cold and drafty? Help stay warm all winter long by addressing factors like air leaks from gaps and cracks that can make your home feel uncomfortable.
"Drafts and heat loss are common problems in the winter, and they affect homes of every age, size and construction," says Gary Parsons, fellow at The Dow Chemical Company. "Those factors can seriously affect your home's energy efficiency and how comfortable it feels. Fortunately, it's not difficult to deal with issues like air leaks and insulation, and doing so can significantly improve your home's function and livability."
Parsons suggests these steps to help ensure a draft-free, pest-free and comfy home this winter season:
Seal cracks and gaps
Gaps and cracks throughout the home allow hot air to escape and cold air and pests to enter. Energy Star estimates that homes can have a half mile or more of cracks around doors, windows and sill plates alone, and those aren't the only places in a home where gaps can exist. Air duct joints, points where piping enters a home, and anywhere wood meets concrete (such as around the foundation) are locations where cracks and gaps can occur.
Sealing cracks can help prevent air leakage, improve a home's overall energy efficiency and block out pests and insects. In fact, homeowners can save an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling by air sealing their homes and adding insulation, according to Energy Star.
Even do-it-yourself novices can easily and quickly seal cracks and gaps in their homes. Products like GREAT STUFF(R) Gaps & Cracks and GREAT STUFF(R) Pestblock Insulating Foam Sealants are specially formulated to seal gaps and cracks, blocking out air, moisture and even pests. The ready-to-use insulating foam sealants can fill gaps up to 1 inch. When using the product, be sure to follow safety guidelines, including covering all skin, using gloves and safety goggles, and keeping the work area well ventilated.
Check insulation
Insulation is like a blanket that your home wears to help keep everyone inside warm and cozy. If your home doesn't have the right amount or type of insulation for your climate, it can lose heat, energy efficiency and comfort. About 90 percent of existing homes don't have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.
Follow Energy Star's guidelines for more information on how to check your insulation to see if your home could benefit from adding more.
Take care of the HVAC system
If your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system isn't working as well as it could, you're sacrificing comfort and increasing your energy bills. Make sure to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall to ensure they are operating efficiently.
Have the ducts inspected and seal any leaks. Be sure to change air filters regularly, per the system manufacturer's recommendation for filter type and frequency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dirty air filters restrict airflow, making HVAC systems work harder and consume more energy to heat your home.
Don't overlook little things
Things as simple as a forgotten window left cracked in summer months or neglecting to close the flue in your wood-burning fireplace can all affect the amount of heat and comfort that escape your home in the winter.
Before the weather turns very cold, make a sweep through your home and check for these minor but important points:
* Windows - Are all your windows closed? If you've recently sealed around windows, you probably opened them for ventilation. Double check to be sure you remembered to close them.
* Thermostat - Is yours properly programmed to optimize energy use by adjusting the temperature when you're out of the house? Proper use of a programmable thermostat can cut energy bills by nearly $200 per year, according to Energy Star.
* Ceiling fans - you can use ceiling fans to supplement your furnace during the winter, but you have to remember to reverse the air flow. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the fan blades to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air down from the ceiling during winter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 easy ways to 'charge up' your recycling habits

(BPT) - Americans generate about 254 million tons of trash annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) most recent figures, and only about one-third of that waste is recycled. For many, one of the main barriers to recycling is not knowing how or where to recycle certain items.
For instance, many household cordless products we use every day are powered by rechargeable batteries. These batteries are not only recyclable, but contain materials that are potentially harmful to the environment if thrown in the trash. In fact, at least 20 percent of people are holding on to their used batteries because they know they shouldn’t be tossed out — but they don’t know where to dispose of them.
You can be part of the solution to reduce waste by learning how to properly recycle the products you use every day. Celebrate America Recycles Day — Tuesday, Nov. 15 — by incorporating the following into your recycling routine.
Check household “recyclable” items.
Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are the most commonly recycled items, but lots of other items found around the house can be recycled, as well. Start recycling plastic bags and paper towels right in your curbside bin. Pin a sign in the kitchen to remind kids they can throw napkins and sandwich baggies in, too.
Designate a separate container for rechargeable batteries from old cordless products and look up the nearest participating collection site so you know exactly where to go when the container is full.
Dump your stash.
Are you a battery hoarder? Do you have a drawer in the house filled with dead batteries? You aren’t alone. Establish a monthly routine when you sort through the junk drawer and gather up old electronics and used batteries to drop off while running other errands.
A study commissioned by Call2Recycle, Inc. found that an estimated 6.7 billion batteries were sold into U.S. markets in 2014. Of that number, 30 percent were rechargeable batteries available to be recycled. The Call2Recycle program makes it easy to be a responsible battery user with its network of more than 30,000 drop-off locations including retail stores in your own community that you may already visit regularly, like Best Buy, Lowe's, Sears, Staples, The Home Depot and more. Find a battery collection site near you by visiting www.call2recycle.org/locator.
Buy recycled products.
Recycling gives new life to old products by turning them into new ones. By using recycled materials in their products, manufacturers conserve energy and natural resources and reduce waste in landfills. Checking the labels for products that are recycled and eco-friendly when making a purchase is the easiest way to be a responsible consumer.
Participate in a local community recycling event — or create your own.
Thousands of events are organized nationwide on America Recycles Day to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made from recycled materials. Get involved!
Host your own battery-specific recycling drive and invite your community to contribute their battery “hoards.” Your neighbors will thank you.
Take the #BeRecycled pledge.
Take the “I Will Recycle” pledge and commit to incorporating more green activities into your everyday routine. Start by selecting a specific item you use frequently and pledge to recycle more of that item in the future. By starting small, there is a greater chance you’ll continue throughout the year. Your efforts can inspire your family and friends to take the pledge and join you in incorporating environmentally-friendly behavior into their everyday lives.
These eco-friendly activities are simple and easy to incorporate and can help you lead a greener lifestyle, not just on America Recycles Day, but all year. By including one new item into your recycling routine — such as batteries — you can make a positive impact. Not only does this keep batteries out of landfills, but when recycled, valuable materials can be recovered and used in new stainless steel products, such as golf clubs, batteries and other products.