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Home Tips and tricks

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper Without Losing Your Sanity

What would you do to avoid removing wallpaper? Probably whatever you could, judging by the stories of woe we found on the web.

DIYer Rachel Meeks wrote in her “Small Notebook” blog that she was so overwhelmed by the prospect of removing 40-year-old wallpaper from several rooms that she actuallyknocked down a couple of walls rather than spend time scraping. That fear and dread are also palpable in online forums on the topic, where many people strongly advise: Get a pro to do it. (Subtext: Have a cocktail instead.)

Can’t argue with the cocktail idea, but here’s a fact that will come as a huge surprise to many DIYers: With a little bit of know-how, removing wallpaper just isn’t that hard. If you want to save a few hundred bucks on a pro, it’s actually a fairly simple DIY project — as even Meeks later found out — so long as you have the right info, tools, and expectations. (It’s gonna take some time!)

First, Check to See If Your Walls Were Primed

Anyone who’s managed to remove wallpaper lickety-split likely (and luckily) had walls that were sealed with wallpaper primer before they were papered, says Geoff Sharp, owner and founder of Sharper Impressions Painting Co., which operates in several cities including Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Priming, which became more common in the 1990s, prevents the wet glue from soaking into plaster or drywall and forming a tough-to-break bond. Loosen a corner or seam with a putty knife and pull. If it peels off in a sheet, you got primed!

Being able to peel off wallpaper in complete or partial sheets after lifting the corners with a putty knife is called dry stripping. With...

4 Spring Landscaping Ideas for Homeowners Who Hate Yard Work

Just because you’re not interested in cultivating a green thumb doesn’t mean your yard has to be boring. These simple-to-do ideas have big impact.

If only 50 shades of green could be as exciting as, well, you know. But let’s face it: There’s nothing titillating about green bushes against green grass. To give your boring monochromatic yard a dose of charm without a ton of effort, try these four ideas perfect for spring. No gardening prowess required.

1. Plant Just One Tree

Planting one tree isn’t a huge effort. You’ll be helping our planet, too. Plus, once the tree is established, it’s about as low maintenance as a landscape can get — and the difference it can make to your yard lasts for decades. The key is to choose a tree that adds interest to your landscape in the form of color, shape, and texture.

There are a ton of trees to choose from, but to play it safe, try a Japanese maple. Many are suitable for most any climate. They all offer color, form, and texture that can liven any landscape. 

Image: Lisa Meddin, Harmony Design Northwest

2. Tap Into the Colorful Punch Mulch Can Make

Mulch...

The Most Common Spring Cleaning Mistake

If you really want an allergy-proof home, avoid this typical spring routine.


Once there’s even a glimmer of spring, you’re ready to throw open your windows and let the breeze blow away the winter funk. Well, you might want to rethink that spring cleaning ritual this year.

If you’re an allergy sufferer (and who isn’t?), that’s the last thing you want to do, says Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “It will allow pollen to settle in your home.”

If you really can’t skip that spring breeze, avoid opening them in the morning, pollen counts are highest in the morning; they decrease late in the day and at night.

And that’s not the only common spring-cleaning mistake homeowners make. Here are eight more to avoid:

1. Not Looking Up

You’ve worked up a sweat and everything’s starting to sparkle, but then you realize your ceiling fan is coated in dust. Uh, oh. Once you start wiping the fan, dust will scatter on what you’ve already cleaned. That’s why you should always look up to see what needs dusting before you start cleaning at eye level. Tackle hard-to-reach places like the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges.

2. Starting to Clean Without a Plan

You wake up motivated — today you’re going to get all your spring cleaning done! But by noon, your house is in disarray, and not one single room is finished. Ugh. That’s why Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc. says it pays to break up the biggest cleaning project of the year into smaller, more manageable tasks.

She recommends conquering your hardest job first, like the kitchen,...

Declutter Your Home: Why Being Organized Saves You Money

Declutter your home and find out why being disorganized can destroy your bottom line.

Declutter-House-Logic-Article

If you’ve ever accrued a late fee after losing a bill, thrown away spoiled peaches you forgot to eat, or bought yet another pair of sunglasses because you couldn’t find yours, then you know being disorganized can cost you money.

At best, clutter in the home causes mistakes, late fees, overdue payments, and missed deadlines. At worst, a house in chaos can eat away at your finances, mar your credit, and reduce your productivity. That’s a whopping price to pay for being disorganized.

According to an Ikea “Life at Home” survey, 43% of Americans admit to being disorganized, and the average American wastes 55 minutes per day looking for stuff they’ve lost or misplaced. 

“Do you think organizing is just for appearances?” asks Lisa Gessert, president of Organizing.buzz, a professional organizing service in Staten Island, N.Y. “Organizing your home is financially beneficial.” Gessert stresses to clients the need to sort, purge, assign things a home, and containerize. “This process saves people tons of money.”

Here’s why being organized saves you money, and how to get your home into shape:

Disorganization in...

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk.

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working. 

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New...

Don’t Turn On Your New Home’s Fireplace Until You Read This

The charming fireplace in your new home is one of the details you love most. No doubt you’re eager to enjoy its warm glow with family and friends. But before you light up the first log, it’s important to make sure that both your fireplace and chimney are in safe working order. Here are some tips to help you determine what you can do yourself and what’s best left to a pro:

Examine the Firebox
Look for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear in the lining of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). If the lining has deteriorated to the point that the steel body beneath it is visible, you’ll need to have it professionally repaired. Otherwise, excessive heat can build up inside your fireplace and cause permanent damage, says Tom Spalding of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). 

Look for Telltale Smoke Stains 
Smoke stains can be another signal that your fireplace isn’t functioning properly. If you see stains on the ceiling, smoke could be escaping from a gap between the hearth and the firebox, warns Spalding. This is most likely because the hearth has settled — not an unusual occurrence in an older home. When this settling occurs, sparks that fall into the gap can send up smoke, “essentially acting as a secondary chimney,” Spalding says. You’ll need a mason, skilled handyman, or fireplace professional to fix this.

You may also notice smoke stains above the fireplace opening. In this case, the problem may be the flue damper, a mechanism with a hand-operated lever that helps you control the air flow into the fireplace. If the lever is damaged or caked with gunk, you may not be able to open or close the damper completely, which can cause...

Cleaning Secrets from the Pros

Pick a Pattern

"All professional cleaners work through each room using a cleaning pattern," says president of Better Life Maids Matthew Ricketts. Generally, that means working from top to bottom, starting on the left side of the room and heading clockwise. "It can save tons of time -- no wasted steps or backtracking," Ricketts says.

Steam Clean

Moist heat works to loosen dirt and ease cleaning. Using this principle, let your microwave do the work for you. "Put a cup of water in a glass container, and set the microwave for one minute on high," Molly Maid president Meg Roberts says. "The steam will loosen the baked-on food and make cleaning much easier."

Divide to Conquer

"Divide the work, whether you are the only one cleaning or if you can assign tasks to others," Merry Maids training specialist Debra Johnson says. Assign rooms or a few general tasks, such as dusting or vacuuming, to separate days or people. Cleaning is easier when broken into manageable chunks.

Practice Patience

"Don't just spray and wipe," says Derek Christian, owner of My Maid Service and coauthor of The House Cleaning Technician's Manual. Spray a surface, then work on a different part of the room while the product sinks in. "Give the chemicals the time they need to make your life easier," he says.

Read More Tips and...

Fall Home Maintenance Tasks

You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

House_Logic_Fall_Checklist

1. Stow the mower.

If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it. 

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. 

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

2. Don’t be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze,...

Saving Money: Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Want to reface your kitchen cabinets? Smart decision. Kitchen refacing is more cost effective and takes less time than a full remodel. Here are options and costs.

Reface-Kitchen-Cab

Refacing your kitchen cabinets includes covering the exposed frames with a thin veneer of real wood or plastic laminate. Doors and drawer fronts are replaced to match or complement the new veneer. New hinges, knobs, pulls, and molding complete the transformation.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Kitchen cabinet refacing pros:

  • Costs about half as much as replacing cabinets.
  • Takes less time (a week or less!) and money.
  • It’s less hassle than tearing out cabinets.
  • You can still use your kitchen while refacing.

Kitchen cabinet refacing cons (there aren’t many):

  • Refacing won’t fix a bad kitchen design.
  • You might be tempted to spend more on exotic veneer and hardware (saving you less).

Read More: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/kitchens/refacing-kitchen-cabinets/?cid=eo_sm_fb_mxm-social

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Spring Cleaning

Spring is here... and we all know what that means - TIME FOR SPRING CLEANING! Spring is a great time to eliminate germs from the winter and refresh your home. The checklist below might seem overwhelming, but if you try to check off a few tasks a day throughout the month of April you will be complete in no time!

Tucker-Spring-Cleaning

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Early Spring Lawn Care Tips to Revive Your Frozen Turf

Has the polar vortex wrecked your lawn? These tips for early spring lawn care will green up your lawn in no time.

A polar vortex has pounded lawns this winter with ridiculous sub-zero temperatures and record snowfalls. So don’t be surprised if parts of your lawn — especially in low-lying areas — are dead on arrival in spring.

“Snow acts like a cover, but ice is bad for turf,” says Chris Lemcke, technical director of Weed Man USA lawn care. “Ice freezes plant cells and crushes blades and leads to death.”

Freeze-thaw-freeze conditions are even worse for turf roots, which can become brittle and die.  Road salt also is bad for lawns. The turf near streets and along driveways and paths may need resuscitation or replacement when spring grass should be greening up.

Dead or Sleeping?

When snow and ice melt, your late-winter turf starts awakening from hibernation and changes from brown grass to green; if your lawn died, it won’t change color.

The best way to see if your lawn is dead or sleeping is to tug the brown areas. If the turf comes up easily, the roots have failed and the grass is dead. If there’s resistance, then there’s hope.

How to Bring Lawns Back

When is the right time to bury your dead lawn — grass, roots, clinging soil — in a compost pile and start growing new grass?

  • After the last chance of frost
  • When night temperatures top 35 degrees
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Tips to Make Your Roof Last as Long as Possible

Whether your roof is brand-new or years old, here’s what you need to do to keep it in the best possible shape for the longest possible time.

A new roof is an expensive proposition — $18,800 on average for composition shingles, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report, and as much as $36,000 for high-end materials. Once you’ve made that kind of investment, you’ll want to protect it.

And even if your roof is years old, maintaining it in good shape will prolong its life and keep you from having to replace it prematurely. Here’s what you need to do to get the most from your roof.

Clean the Gutters

Ruined paint on siding and a wet basement are typical problems caused by clogged gutters, but it might surprise you to learn that the overflow can also go upward. When leaves pile too deeply in gutters, water can wick into roof sheathing and rot it, or even rot roof rafters. 

Fixing that kind of damage could run into the thousands of dollars, but you can avoid it by cleaning your gutters each fall and spring. Do it yourself in a few hours if you’re comfortable working on a ladder, or hire a pro for $50-$250, depending on house size. 

Remove Leaves 

If you have a simple peaked roof surrounded by low landscaping, your roof probably stays clear of leaves on its own. But if the roof is more complicated or if towering trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they will trap moisture and gradually decompose, allowing moisture to accumulate in your roof — or worse, create fertile ground for weeds to grow.

If you have a low-slope...

When is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?

A major appliance should never be an impulse buy. We pinpoint the best moments to buy, on and offline.Appliance Blog

When it comes to landing bargains on major appliances, timing is everything. And the best time to buy home appliances is when stores need you more than you need a new home appliance.

Generally, that means you can get more value for your money:

September, October, and January: when manufacturers roll out new home appliance models, and retailers are eager to move last year's inventory. (Refrigerators are the exception. New models come out in the spring.)

Last days of the month when stores are desperate to meet quotes and are more likely to bicker over prices.

Thursday, the day before the weekend rush when aisles are less crowded.

Major holidays - Labor Day, Memorial Day, President's Day, Black Thursday (Friday, Saturday) -- when stores take advantage of your day off and slash prices.

Fall and winter are the best seasons to buy air conditioners and gas grills, because few buyers think about warm-weather appliances when leaves and snow cover the ground.  

Click here to read more: ...