CertaPro Painters Contractor Tip!

Some tips from one contractor to another:

With all the places to buy paint on the South Shore, it’s a fact that Curry Ace Hardware gets all of our Benjamin Moore paint business. As one of the largest painting contractors in the Boston area, Sean Curry and his team have more than proven themselves to us over the years. Here are my tips for what I look for in a supplier (hint: Curry hits them all!)


  1. A personal interaction with a vendor that takes the time to get to know our painters.
  2.  Online billing and real-time, emailed receipts so we can keep track of the paint we’re using for our projects.
  3.  Fantastic paint mixing. When our designers specify a color, it’s important to have the color mixed perfectly. You wouldn’t believe how hard this is to find, but it makes all the difference in the end projects.
  4. Issues are resolved within the hour. Phone calls are returned promptly.


Once I find a vendor who hits the criteria, I tend to give them all my business. It’s just easier than spreading myself thin across multiple vendors.


Paige NeJame, Owner

CertaPro Painters of the South Shore

Five Easy Projects to Cut Energy Expenditures

Chances are, when you open your monthly utility statements, you’re witnessing energy costs doubling and even tripling at the height of the season. Many homes, particularly those built more than 10 years ago, do not feature the latest energy-saving techniques and products. By spending just a few dollars and doing some simple projects, you can save energy – and significant amounts of money. Here are five fast fixes to help you start saving:

  • Lower Your Lighting Costs –
    Start with this easy task: Replace current light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They screw in just like standard bulbs, but use a fourth of the energy and last up to 10 times longer. An 18-watt CFL bulb provides as much light as a 75-watt standard light bulb. Average savings: $10 – $50 per year

  • Taming the Toilet –
    A constantly-running toilet can use up to 8,000 gallons of water each year. Fix the problem by installing a toilet repair kit that features a new valve, flapper and other devices that will conserve water. Average Savings: $25 – $100 per year

  • Fix Leaky Fixtures –
    Aside from causing that annoying “drip,” leaky faucets can also cause a spike in your water bill. Replacing the aerator and rubber washer will cost you pennies yet save you dollars in the long run. As for the showerhead, consider installing a flow-restricting model – a family of four can conserve 10,000 gallons of water per year going this route. Average Savings: $100 – $300 per year
  • Hot Water Help –
    Your water heater may be working harder than it needs to, costing you precious dollars. Reduce the temperature on the unit to about 120 degrees – the water doesn’t need to be any hotter. If the unit is older than 12 years, you may want to look into replacing it with a new, more energy-efficient model. Average Savings: $20 – $50 per year

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat –
    Installing a programmable thermostat can significantly reduce energy costs, especially in the winter and summer months. Programmable models allow you to automatically adjust the temperature throughout the day, creating a specific energy-saving ‘program’ for weekdays and weekends. Some models even allow you to set preferences on the hour for each day of the week. Average Savings: $125 – $350 per year and up


Follow these simple tips and you’ll see savings in no time. And remember, if you have home improvement questions and need a little advice, send me an email at asklou@acehardware.com – I’d be glad to help!

15 Easy Ways to go GREEN

Going “green” in our everyday lives is all the rage these days. From CFL bulbs to organic cotton T-shirts, it seems everyone has some skin in the eco-game. Your family – and in particular your home – should be no different. Below are 15 easy do-it-yourself projects that will save you money, reduce your environmental footprint and have you playing your eco-part in no time.

1. As the cost of energy continues to rise, there is a way to lower your electric bills. Compact florescent light bulbs, or CFLs, use up to 66 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and can last up to five years. Replacing the five most-used bulbs in your home can save you up to $60 a year on your electric bill.

2. Your water heater can do a better job keeping the water in the tank hot if you buy it a jacket. Insulating jackets can be installed on most conventional water heaters and reduce the number of times a water heater “fires” during standby. In fact, 20 percent of your energy cost to heat water is used up during standby!

3. Fix that leak! Did you know that a dripping faucet or leaking toilet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day? Repairing these leaks takes just a little time, and a small investment for the parts needed. The payback – both in dollars and for the environment – is huge!

4. Adding a rain barrel to your drainage system can help you capture some of the water Mother Nature sends us during rain showers. A 1,000 square foot roof can shed up to 650 gallons of water during a 1-inch rainfall. By placing a rain barrel under a down spout, you can use this water for your lawn, garden or even a car wash.

5. Plant a tree and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. To counteract the footprint from the use of electricity and natural gas or oil in the average American home, you would need to plant 42 trees… while that’s a lot of green, start slowly to help shade your home and absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

6. Using a ceiling fan can not only help you feel more comfortable in your home, both in the winter and the summer, it can also help to lower your energy bills. By circulating the air in your home, your furnace and air conditioner will run less, which means savings for you.

7. Cutting your lawn just got a lot greener with Earth-friendly mowers. Gas-powered mowers are terrific for larger lawns, but if you have a smaller space to take care of, an electric or new cordless mower can do the trick, and with no fuel or harmful emissions. Mother Nature will thank you!

8. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and your impact on landfills. By collecting and placing compostable materials in a collection bin, you can create a super-charged natural fertilizer for your garden.

9. Natural cleaning products have come a long way. You now have a choice to use products that lessen their impact on the environment. Many of these new cleaning items have natural ingredients and use less water during shipping to reduce fuel use.

10. Tankless water heaters are here to stay, and are a viable choice when it comes to installing a new water heater in your home. Standby energy use is completely eliminated, and you will never run out of hot water from a properly-sized unit!

11. Reduce your usage. How many cups of water do you boil for a cup of tea? Do you leave the TV or lights on when you leave the room? Does the water run from the faucet when you brush your teeth? These small changes in your lifestyle can make a difference for all of us!

12. Did you know that almost 25 percent of water used in the home is for showers, and each member of a family of four taking a 5-minute shower can use up to 700 gallons a day? By installing low-flow shower heads, you can reduce that use by almost half, and with new technology, still feel a brisk force from the water.

13. Stop all the leaks in your home! Drafty windows and doors can greatly raise your energy consumption. According to the EPA, if you caulk or seal those air leaks with weatherstripping, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,000 pounds a year.

14. Let the sun shine! Not only will it brighten your mood, it will keep you from flipping the switch. In the colder months, the rays from the sun can help to heat your home, and the best part of this tip: it’s absolutely free!

15. Your indoor air is three times more polluted than the outdoor air. While painting is a great way to liven up your living environment, make sure you are not harming it during the process. Low VOC or zero VOC paints work just as well and are a great choice for those with allergies, asthma or homes with young children.

If you have any questions or comments for Lou, feel free to e-mail him at Asklou@acehardware.com

Your Energy Savings ‘Top 10′ List

Important Ways to Conserve Both Heat – and Money – This Winter

Controlling energy costs is always a concern for homeowners…and it will be an even greater challenge this winter. A double whammy of strong demand for energy and the disruption of delivery systems and supplies in the aftermath of the Gulf Coast hurricanes likely will result in higher prices for natural gas, heating oil and electricity.

In fact, the Energy Information Administration projects heating bill hikes ranging from 31 percent in the Northeast to 71 percent in the Midwest. Electricity prices could rise as well, as almost one-fifth of electricity is generated using natural gas.

While it’s no secret that you’ll be spending more to heat your home this winter, if you take measures to conserve energy, you can significantly minimize the impact. Here are my top 10 energy savings tips:

Service your heating system.
This is my number one rule. By paying a service technician $75 to $100, depending on where you live, he or she will clean the unit and replace filters in the furnace and humidifier, thus insuring that the equipment is running at its most cost-efficient and optimum capacity. This should be done annually.

Install a programmable thermostat.
A recent study revealed that only 24 percent of Americans have installed this handy device – for shame! Well-insulated homes can save up to 30 percent on heating costs with one. You can program these thermostats to automatically lower temperatures when at work or while sleeping, thereby saving energy hours at a time. Prices for programmable thermostats range from $40 to $100, and will quickly pay for themselves.

Shop programmable thermostats

Add weather stripping around windows and doors.
Use of door thresholds, window caulking and plastic window film can go far in saving your money this winter. If you live in a drafty home, you could save up to 20 percent with an investment of as little as $25. One product to consider is a product called Windjammer (Ace no. 1200989), a clear, weatherproof gel that dispenses from a can and seals drafts. What’s more, it can be easily removed at the end of the season.

Shop weather stripping and window insulator kits

Install ceiling fans in your home.
Running the fans slowly and in reverse will keep warm air circulating throughout the house, thereby reducing running time for the furnace. Ceiling fans add a nice decorative touch as well.

Shop ceiling fans

Check furniture arrangement in your rooms.
Are you unknowingly blocking vents and radiators with a big sofa or armchair? If so, you’re restricting the airflow in your home, resulting in higher output from your furnace or boiler. Rearranging the furniture can save your units from having to work overtime.

Install a tankless water heater.
I always remind people that this amazing technology has been around for 70 years, yet U.S. homeowners have been slow to adopt it. These days, units are less expensive, and by creating hot water on demand as opposed to continuously heating stored water, homeowners can save hundreds of dollars over time.

Shop tankless water heaters

Be smart about setting the temperature.
Homeowners can save up to 3 percent on energy bills simply by turning down the thermostat just one degree. You won’t even notice the change in temperature, but your heating bill will.

Install thermo-pane windows in your home.
These multi-pane windows can have R-values of as high as 9.1. The higher the R-value, the more resistant the glass is to losing heat. Conversely, your typical single pane glass has an R-value of 1. The difference is an increase in energy efficiency of up to 70 percent.

Properly insulate your ceilings and attic.
Heat rises, and if there isn’t enough insulation in the space above, your money literally is going out the roof. Most ceilings and attic spaces should have at least an R-30 rating, although some areas of the country recommend an R-40-50 rating.

Let the sun be your guide.
It’s free energy! During the day, open up drapes and blinds and let the sun heat your home. At night, draw the curtains to keep the heat inside.

If you read through this and decide you still need some help, don’t despair – ask the helpful folks at your neighborhood Ace store! And remember, if you have home improvement questions and need a little advice, send me an email at asklou@acehardware.com – I’d be glad to help!

Enjoy the cozy warmth of your energy-efficient space,


Lawn Care Tips to Keep it Green All Season Long

Let’s face it, your lawn has seen better days…

There are bare spots everywhere and the greenish color you see appears to be coming from all the weeds popping up rather than your grass. While you thought the high-priced lawn service you hired last year would fix the problem, it just wasn’t the case. So there’s only one thing left to do – take matters back into your own hands.

Before you get started restoring your lawn this spring, take some time to develop a plan of attack. With the proper knowledge, a little patience and a trip to your local Ace Hardware for needed supplies, in no time your lawn will be well on its way to recovery.

Getting Started

The good news is that your lawn can probably be restored without starting from scratch. While there are steps you can take to correct your lawn’s problems, chances are it won’t be a quick fix. It took some time for your lawn to get to the state it’s in, and it will more than likely take an entire season to bring it back to health.

Your work begins with a thorough cleanup of your lawn (raking and removing sticks) and a good thatching so fertilizer and new grass seed can penetrate the soil. Thatch is a fine layer of tightly woven, decomposed grass, and it will have to be removed before applying fertilizer or planting grass seed.

The easiest way to remove thatch is by renting a thatching machine from your local Ace Hardware or garden rental center. Ongoing aeration of your lawn using a core aeration machine (also available for rent) can help prevent thatch from taking hold in the first place. There is really no easy way to remove thatch by hand except raking it out with a thatching or garden rake. However, this process is very labor-intensive and is not recommended for large yards.

Once the cleanup is finished, it’s time for some information gathering. Before applying that first application of fertilizer or spreading new grass seed this spring, you need to know the characteristics of your particular lawn, including the type of grass that you have, your soil’s pH level and if your soil has a high clay content and is too compacted or if it has more of a silt or sandy consistency. The best way to determine this is to have your soil tested by a professional testing service or take a sample of your soil and grass to your local county extension agent for evaluation. They will be able to tell what type of grass you have, if your soil is too acidic and needs attention and even the types of pests that might be invading your lawn.

If your soil’s pH needs adjusting, this will be the next step after removing thatch. To adjust pH levels in soil, you will need to add lime or sulfur to correct the problem. How much you need to add of one or the other depends on the actual pH level and whether your soil has more of a clay or sandy consistency. Be sure to follow the recommendations that come with your soil test.

Another beneficial step, especially when planting new grass seed, is to build up organic matter in your soil by spreading a mixture of compost and topsoil (a 40/60 mixture respectively) as a top dressing, followed by a thorough core aeration of your lawn. This will build up the number of microbes, which are beneficial in digesting dead grass clippings and providing nutrients to the soil. For more information on overseeding your lawn or seeding bare spots, see the sidebar on page 9.

After this preliminary work has been done, consult your Ace retailer on starting a fertilizer application process to help keep your lawn green and healthy for the entire growing season. If you have neglected to use a multi-step fertilizer application process for the past few years, your lawn is probably starving itself for the proper nutrients.

The main ingredient in fertilizer is nitrogen, and any lawn requires a lot of it – about 1 pound per square foot every two months. The other main ingredients are phosphorus, which stimulates root and seed development, and potassium, which helps prevent disease and makes your lawn more drought resistant. The ratio of these ingredients varies for different types of fertilizers, so consult with your local Ace expert on what ratio is right for your soil’s characteristics.

Today’s turfgrass hybrids require regular fertilizing to do what they were designed to do. The good news for time-pressed homeowners is that most multi-step fertilizer programs are created to control weeds and prevent bugs throughout the season.

But remember, all grass types are unique and need different types and amounts of fertilizer at different times.

Step by Step

The first application in most multi-step fertilizer programs includes a pre-emergent herbicide that is applied in late winter or early spring. This step prevents the seeds of annual weeds, such as crabgrass, from ever germinating. For most areas of the country, a pre-emergent application should be applied between late February and early April, before perennials begin to bloom.

The only exception in starting the process with a pre-emergent herbicide is when you are planting new grass seed in the spring because the herbicide will actually prevent the seed from germinating. Most fertilizer manufacturers have an alternative first-step application when seeding. If you have already applied a pre-emergent herbicide and are thinking about reseeding, you should wait at least three months, which is how long most pre-emergent chemicals remain active in the soil.

The second-step application generally includes a post-emergent herbicide designed to control perennial broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, clover and ground ivy. In a multi-step fertilization process, the herbicide is in granular form. When applied to the leaves of weeds, it kills them in several days.

The best time to apply fertilizer with granular herbicide is when the grass is wet, such as after a rain or in the morning when there is plenty of dew on the grass. If the grass isn’t wet enough, the herbicide grains won’t stick to the leaves of the weed, which is key to its effectiveness. Don’t apply contact herbicides if there is rain in the forecast for the next 24 hours. Likewise, avoid lawn traffic for 24 hours after application to avoid knocking the granules off the weeds.

More serious weed problems will require follow-up applications with liquid herbicide and even manually pulling or digging weeds and their roots out of the ground.

So when is the proper time of year to apply herbicides? For most of the country, the best time is in late April through early June in conjunction with a fertilizer application. Weeds can also reappear in the fall, at which time spot treating with herbicides can be helpful. Again, check with your local Ace retailer for the proper times to apply herbicides in your area.


Other steps in a multi-application fertilizer program will help kill insects that can do more damage to your lawn than you can possibly imagine, including insects that do their damage above the surface and others that work below ground.

The best way to tell if insects are becoming a problem is if you can see an infestation of flying bugs when walking across the lawn. Controlling these pests can be as easy as applying the proper fertilizer with insect control application at the proper time, which is generally from early June through August in most parts of the country. In addition to a fertilizer application with insect control, your Ace retailer will have a variety of other products to help combat problem lawn insects.

More Common Problems

Other than controlling weeds and insects, your lawn might be suffering from an abundance of lawn moss or diseases such as snow mold, brown patch, leafspot and dollar spot – funguses that weaken your lawn and result in thinning turfgrass.

Most fertilizer manufacturers have products specifically designed to attack and kill common fungus problems, either by spraying a fungicide directly on the leaves of the grass plants or by systemically “medicating” the lawn to battle the disease and prevent future outbreaks.

If your lawn contains moss, especially in early spring, you might consider starting with a fertilizer that contains moss control or applying lime to your lawn to decrease soil acidity. If moss is left unchecked, it can eventually take over a lawn, killing healthy grass in the process.

If you notice the presence of moss or fungus, the underlying problem could be improper drainage or too much shade, conditions in which moss and fungus thrive. Aeration is perhaps the best way to avoid moss and fungus in the first place since it breaks up compacted soil and improves drainage.

Overgrown trees may cause too much shade for the variety of grass that was originally planted. In this case, pruning to let in more light or overseeding with a more shade-tolerant species of grass can help. Remember, even the most shade-tolerant turfgrass species need some light to remain healthy.


Like all living things, water is a key ingredient to maintaining a healthy lawn. On average, a lawn needs 1 inch of water each week, whether it comes from rain or by manually watering the lawn. A simple rain gauge is the best way of keeping track of the amount of water your lawn is receiving weekly.

However, before aggressively watering your lawn, keep in mind that some watering methods are more effective and conservation-friendly than others. For example, if soil is compacted, water is more likely to run off before being absorbed into your lawn’s root system, where it is most beneficial.

To help conserve water and eliminate wasted run-off, soaker hoses or low-flow sprinklers are good options. These devices release water more slowly than traditional sprinklers, helping to control the amount of water being applied. This promotes a slower, deeper soaking, which is more effective than more frequent surface watering. Since most weeds grow only in the first 2 to 3 inches of soil, the deeper the water penetrates, the more water will actually sink to the grass roots.

A good watering tip is to determine how long it takes your sprinkler system to distribute an inch of water to your lawn, and then to water for that amount of time with each watering.

Watering during the early morning hours is more beneficial to your lawn than during the evening hours. This helps avoid fungus problems that can occur when water remains on the grass leaves for an extended period of time. Also avoid watering on windy days to avoid water droplets being blown away before reaching your lawn. When too much water is the problem, breaking up compacted soil by aerating is usually a good fix to promote better drainage and deeper absorption.

Ongoing Care

Believe it or not, mowing can make or break a lawn, even if you do everything else right. Most lawns should remain at a height of at least 2 inches. Anything below this is considered “scalping” and can severely hurt a lawn. However, each grass type has different ideal heights. For example, tall fescue, a cool-season grass, needs to be cut no shorter than 3 inches. Bermudagrass, on the other hand, is a warm-season grass that can be cut much lower (between 1 and 2 inches is ideal).

A good rule of thumb is to mow more frequently to avoid removing more than one-third of the total grass blade height at one time, no matter what type of grass you have. This means if you let your lawn grow too high at one point during the season, you shouldn’t cut it back to your regular mower setting. This would remove more than a third of the grass blade, which can shock the grass.

Another benefit of frequent mowing is that the grass clippings will not need to be removed from the lawn. This will actually help add nitrogen between fertilizer applications since grass is mostly water and returns approximately 20 percent of its nitrogen to the soil.

Beyond making sure your mowing equipment is in good condition and following proper operation techniques, mow in different directions each time to avoid compacting the soil in the wheel ruts and to prevent the grass growing in the same direction of the cut.

Fertilizer: Why Do You Need It?

All lawns are deficient in nitrogen because grass quickly uses up the natural supply; some also need phosphorus and potassium. Fertilizers help to replace these ingredients for a healthier and greener lawn.

The Three Common Types of Fertilizers

There are three common types of fertilizers: natural organic, inorganic and synthetic organic.

Natural organic fertilizers, such as manure, do not dissolve in water. They are converted to usable forms by microorganisms in the soil. They help to create proper physical growing conditions, but can add disease or weeds to the lawn.

Inorganic fertilizers (ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate) do dissolve in water and become readily available to plants. They can cause fast growth for a few weeks, but can also cause foliage burn if improperly applied.

Synthetic organic fertilizers (ureafoam, methylene urea) provide a combination of slow and fast release of nitrogen, combining the best of the other two kinds of fertilizer.

Other Types of Fertilizers

ACE_Bugs_FertilizerMixDry fertilizers come in several forms, which combine all three nutrients and can range in weight from 14 to 70 lbs. for a typical-sized lawn.

Simple-mix fertilizers are mixtures of the three primary nutrients in a bag. The granules differ in weight and texture so that the heavier ones may work toward the bottom of the bag or spreader. The result is uneven distribution.

Pelletized fertilizers combine all the nutrients into semi-rigid pellets or capsules. This does not ensure a steady release of nutrients unless slow-release sources are included in the pellets.

Trionized fertilizers have the three nutrients bonded into a lightweight carrier such as vermiculite. Nutrients are uniform throughout the granules.

Polyform fertilizers require no added carrier, resulting in the lightest-weight fertilizers. A mixture of the three nutrients is screened to uniform size, putting a high proportion of nutrients into the bag.

What in the World Does 10-5-5 Mean?

Have you ever taken a look at a bag of fertilizer and wondered what that three-digit number on the front meant? Every fertilizer consists of three nutrients, which are always listed in the same sequence to make up a three-digit formula. Each ingredient serves a separate function in enriching soil and stimulating plant growth. Listed in order they are:

Nitrogen (N): this is vital to plants for foliage color and density and for root growth. This is the primary nutrient that needs to be replaced.

Phosphorus (P): for seeding development, cell building and root growth.

Potassium (K): assists plants in forming starches and proteins and helps them resists disease and environmental stress.

Each of these three nutrients is designated by a number – a percentage of the pounds of each per hundred pounds of fertilizer. For example, a vary common 20-10-5 formulation means there are 20 lbs. of nitrogen per hundred pounds of fertilizer, 10 lbs. of phosphoric acid and 5 lbs. of potassium. In a 50 lb. bag with the same formula on it, there would be 10 lbs. of nitrogen, five of phosphoric acid and two and a half of potassium.

While formulas vary the most common are 20-10-5, 5-10-5 and 10-6-4, but others being offered include 24-6-6 and 23-7-7.

When you select a fertilizer, remember the purpose of each ingredient and relate the percentages to the needs of your plants and/or lawn.

How To Figure Out How Much Fertilizer You Will Need

Most fertilizers indicate on the package the number of square feet the will cover, but to help figure out the amount you will need, take the size of your lot and subtract the square feet of the house, garage and driveway.

How Many Feedings?

Can you get along with just one application of fertilizer? Yes, but the lawn won’t be very healthy. Two feedings are minimum, although most turf experts believe three feedings – or more – are best.

When only two feedings per year are done, they should be done in the early spring and early fall. Each feeding actually serves a different purpose in helping grass grow. A late winter feeding aids the lawn in early greening and building roots. The late spring feeding builds tillers or sideshoots that help fill in bare spots in the lawn. A midsummer feeding makes a lawn more drought resistant. The fall feeding helps grass build more sideshoots or tillers and underground stems or rhizomes to thicken up a lawn. It is considered the single most important feeding of the year.

Apply fertilizers in both directions to avoid streaking or missed strips.

How to Conserve Energy in Your Home

About 54 percent of the energy used in homes goes into heating and cooling. Obviously, this is where you can make the biggest savings on energy costs.

Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy in your home. You don’t have to be a master mechanic or even a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

All it takes is a small amount of time, a few tools that you probably already own-and some products from your hardware or home center retailer.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Materials and Installation Techniques
  • Insulation
  • Storm Windows
  • Cold Weather Energy Savers
  • Hot Weather Energy Savers
  • Year-Round Energy Savers
  • Kitchen, Laundry and Bath
  • Other Living Areas

Step 1



  • To save money on your heating bill, you may want to turn your thermostat back to 60 degrees or 55 degrees at night. A convenient way to be sure you do this each night is to install a clock thermostat. It automatically turns your thermostat down every night, then turns it up in the morning before you get up. You won’t be uncomfortable with the temperature-or with your heating bill.

Caulking and Weatherstripping

  • Caulking and weatherstripping come in a variety of qualities, costs, and configurations. You should buy the best quality materials available whenever possible. The more quality materials are the most durable and are the best money savers. They perform better and don’t need to be replaced as often. Check below for a brief description of the most commonly available materials.

Caulking Compounds

  • Not very durable but lowest in cost: oil-or resin-based.
  • More durable and more expensive: latex, butyl or polyvinyl.
  • Most durable and most expensive: elastomeric base.


  • Materials used to fill extra-wide cracks: expanding foam, glass fiber, caulking cotton. Apply caulking compound AFTER using filler.


  • Apply caulking outside around window and door frames (see first image at top) and wherever else two different materials or parts of the house meet. With a little practice, pushing the caulking gun instead of pulling it can result in a better, more professional looking caulking job.


  • Inexpensive, easy to install, not very durable: felt or foam strip.
  • More expensive, easy to install durable: molded vinyl (with or without various backings).
  • Most expensive, very difficult to install, excellent weather seal, durable: interlocking metal channels (see image below).
  • Apply weatherstripping around the perimeter of all exterior doors and on the inside of all window sashes.
  • During the weatherstripping process, check to see if the putty on your windows needs replacing. Cutting down on all drafts will make your house much more comfortable year round.

Step 2


  • Several kinds of insulation are available to homeowners. Kinds that are easily installed by the do-it-yourselfer are batts, blankets, and loose fill. Some batts and blankets now come with a thin plastic wrap to prevent some of the discomfort that comes with handling insulation. Foamed-in-plastic is usually installed by a contractor because special equipment is used. If your house has a flat roof or a mansard roof, or if your attic or basement area is otherwise restricted, installing will be difficult and you may need to hire a contractor.

Batt or Blanket

  • This type of insulation is usually made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of several pieces cut to 4′ or 8′ lengths; blankets come in rolls of varying lengths. Both are sold in widths of 15″ or 23″ to fit conventional framing spaces and in thicknesses of 1″ to 7″. Batts and blankets are available with or without vapor barriers.

Loose Fill

  • Loose fill insulation is made from glass fiber, rock wool, treated cellulose, vermiculite, or perlite, and does not come with a vapor barrier. Loose fill tends to settle in time. Rock wool should meet Federal Specification HH-I-1030A.
  • Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper and has a high insulative value. Cellulose must be properly treated to be fire-resistant. Two specifications that certify that cellulose is fire-resistant are: Federal Specification HH-I-515C and Underwriters Laboratories Classification listing Type II 26 through 50.


  • You can purchase cellular plastic products as either prefoamed sheets or batts, or they may be foamed in place by contractors using specialized equipment. The insulating efficiency varies for foams made of different materials (polystyrene, polyurethane, urea-formaldehyde, and others). Discuss these types with your retailer to determine which is the best for you.
  • Foams possess other properties that may affect its long-term insulating value, such as moisture retention, shrinkage, spontaneous decomposition, and vermin resistance.
  • Foams also burn, producing smoke and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. You can reduce these hazards by following the recommended installation procedures for each type of foam. Foam that is properly installed has a higher insulating value.

Step 3



  • To insulate an attic floor where there is no existing insulation, lay batts or blankets or pour loose fill between the joists. So that moisture from the living areas of your home does not penetrate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness, you must place a vapor barrier between the heated or air-conditioned part of your house and your attic.
  • Batts and blankets are available with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the vapor barrier face-down toward the heated or air-conditioned portion of your home. If you are using loose fill, you will have to install your own vapor barrier. Staple or tack a plastic sheet or polyethylene film under the area where you are planning to pour loose fill.
  • If some new insulation already exists and you are adding a layer of new insulation on top of the old, it is important that there be no vapor barrier between the new and the old. If you must use insulation with a vapor barrier, remove the barrier before installation; you can use a knife to remove the barrier. Place the insulation with this side down. Before purchasing the additional insulation you need, measure the thickness that your attic will accommodate. Additional batts or blankets may not fit! If you try to squeeze insulation in, you’ll reduce its effectiveness. Instead, add insulation with a higher R-value per inch.
  • Do not insulate on top of recessed lighting fixtures or heat-producing equipment. Keep the insulation at least 3″ away from the sides of these types of fixtures. Also, do not cover the eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is sufficient attic ventilation to allow moisture to escape. There are special foam and plastic inserts that fit between the roof rafters to help insure proper ventilation.


  • To insulate the floor above your basement or crawl space, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below with the vapor barrier facing up toward the heated or air conditioned part of your home. If there is no vapor barrier, install a plastic sheet against the underside of your floor (see image above).
  • To support the insulation, you can use insulation supports. These wire rods bend when you push them between the floor joists and they lock themselves into place. Another method is to lace wire back and forth under the insulation (see image above). Provide adequate ventilation below the floor in the crawl space to allow moisture to escape.

Step 4


  • Storm windows vary widely in design, durability, ease of use and cost. They range from temporary plastic sheets to custom-made permanent installation, but basically there are two kinds: single and combination.

Single Storm Windows

  • Single storm windows can be made of plastic sheet, glass, or rigid plastic. Plastic sheet is fairly inexpensive initially, but it is easily damaged and must be replaced often. Single glass or rigid plastic is more durable and can be used year after year.

Combination Storm Windows

  • These installations consist of storm windows and screens and are intended to be fixed permanently over double-hung windows. Combination windows come in a variety of finishes and qualities. Shop around for good quality.


  • You can make and install your own single storm windows. For plastic sheets there are molded plastic strips, double sided tapes and wood strips to attach the plastic to the outer edge of the frame. Do-it-yourself aluminum molding kits and rigid plastic sheets and glass are available from your local hardware store or home center, if you want to make your own. Combination storm windows can be installed by a contractor who will do the measuring for you-or you can do the job yourself if you are handy.

Step 5


  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • An automatic garage door operator encourages you to shut the door quickly, thereby saving fuel-even in unheated garages-by preventing cold from reaching the inside walls.
  • Electric heat tapes on water pipes that run through unheated areas prevent heat loss from cooling or freezing.
  • Use a humidifier. Cooler indoor temperatures are more comfortable with the proper amount of humidity-about 40-50%.
  • Change furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your furnace work longer and harder. Check the filter at least once a month.
  • Be sure to keep the damper closed on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Consider installing a glass-door fireplace to keep heat from escaping up the chimney.
  • Use portable electric heaters for seldom-used rooms or to warm up part of a large, cold room.

Step 6

  • Clean air conditioning filters regularly. Replace immediately when worn out. Keep coils or fins of air-conditioning units free of dust, lint, etc.
  • Deflect daytime sun with awnings on windows or draw draperies and pull shades on sunny windows.
  • Use an attic ventilating fan instead of air conditioning. They do a remarkably good job of keeping air circulating. A 1,400-square-foot attic should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation.
  • Install a turbine ventilator on the roof to pull hot air out of the attic.
  • Run air conditioners only on really hot days.
  • Are you using more light in certain situations than is needed? Each watt of lighting requires the expenditure of 1/2 watt of air-conditioning power.
  • Combine circulating fans with room air conditioners for best air distribution throughout the house.

Step 7


  • Turn off furnace pilot lights during the summer, but check with the gas company first.
  • Use fluorescent lights where possible. A 25-watt fluorescent will provide light equal to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace leaky faucets; repair all water-wasting fixtures. A dripping hot water faucet makes a hot water heater keep working.
  • Utilize working shutters, interior or exterior, to control heat gain or loss.
  • Close off unused rooms.

Step 8


  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and piping. Kits are available.
  • Clean the heat reflector below the hot water heating element. It will reflect heat better.
  • Install a flow-restrictor pipe to the shower head. This easy-to-install device can save a considerable amount of hot water. It’s inexpensive, threads into the pipe and restricts the flow of water by several gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t overload appliances that use hot water, such as clothes and dishwashers. The same rule applies to clothes dryers; use drying racks or clotheslines when possible.
  • Use warm or cold water (rather than hot) whenever possible.
  • Keep the thermostat on the hot water heater at the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable water temperature.
  • Try to use high-energy appliances-washer, dryer, electric ovens-in non-peak periods (early morning or late evening).
  • Try energy-efficient cooking-flat-bottom pans, clean burner reflectors, pressure cooker, preparing several foods in the oven at the same time; use small appliances for small cooking jobs.
  • Check energy efficient ratings (EER) of appliances and buy the most efficient-10 rating is excellent, 8 or 9 is good.

Step 9


  • Install a timer to control the length of time outdoor lights are used, even for security lights.
  • Remember to turn off shop lights, soldering irons and all bench heating devices as quickly as possible.
  • Take advantage of color if reroofing. Darker colors that absorb more light should be used in cold climates; light colors that reflect light should be used in moderate and warm climates.
  • Check windows and frames-if loose, install new window channels or complete new windows.
  • Evaluate doors-are they weather-tight? If you don’t have or want storm doors, are entrance doors insulated? Solid doors should have an insulated core; glass panels in doors should be insulated glass.
  • Seal and insulate pipes and ductwork.
Insulation Window Shades
Caulk/Sealants Weatherstrip
Gable Vents Light Dimmers
Heat Deflectors Fireplaces and Accessories
Awnings Fans
Storm Windows/Doors Attic Ventilators
Plastic Window Material Faucet Repairs
Humidifiers Wood Stoves
Clock Thermostats Water Savers
Thermometers Furnace Filters
Pipe Wrap/Heat Tapes

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North Americian Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

How to Combat Common Lawn Problems

When it comes to your lawn, the biggest problem you should have to face this summer is getting your kids to actually mow it once in a while.

Just like a car, regular maintenance is the first step in avoiding serious lawn problems. This involves fertilizing, generally four or five times per year with annual programs from your local Ace Hardware. Frequent mowings to maintain grass height between 2″and 3″will also keep your lawn healthy.

If blights do strike your lawn, however, here is the battle plan that will return it to glory:


You must first get to know these unsightly lawn and garden invaders, which fall into three categories: annuals (one-year life cycle, spreads lots of seeds), biennials (two-year life cycle, spreads seeds in second year) and perennials (more than a two-year life cycle, seeds spread in second year and beyond).

The best time to destroy weeds is when they are young and before they begin to flower. Herbicides can be effective, but take care when using them to avoid damaging plants you want to keep.

When starting an annual lawn care program, begin with a turf builder that includes a crabgrass preventer. Apply it in the early spring, before consistent 80-degree temperatures. While you may have missed a step this year, don’t worry, because the second step is also directed at weed control in late spring.


Grass is a tasty treat to many a life-form, but it’s the smaller ones that can cause the most damage to your lawn. Such pests either chew down the grass blades or feed on the roots, which causes thinning or brown sections of turf that sometimes can’t be revived.

The third step in an annual program helps eliminate these pests during the hot summer months with a blend of fertilizer and insect control.


Some grass varieties enjoy the darkness shade provides, but no grass can survive in complete shade. To combat this, prune and trim tree branches to allow more sunlight through.

Shady areas need more water and fertilizer because the grasses compete with tree roots for nutrients. The best time to feed is late fall and early spring when the leaves are off the trees.

Raising the mower height by 1/2″ to 3/4″ in shady areas can also help since taller grass grabs more sunlight. Never cut grass in shady areas lower than 2″.

Bare Spots

A balding lawn needs to be raked before it can be cured. Remove all thatch to discover the bare spots, then loosen the soil about 1″ deep. If the soil is in a heavy-traffic area, loosen to 6″ and add a small amount of peat moss or gypsum to keep it loose. Sprinkle fertilizer in the area and make it level, then use a top-quality grass seed and moisten the area. Water the area twice every day until the grass reaches 1″ high.

Start Spring Right with New Garden Tools

Winter is quickly disappearing into memory and soon new flowers and vegetables will be blossoming in the spring sun. To welcome the new season, homeowners need a little time and some basic garden tools to cultivate beautiful gardens. Everyone knows a lawn mower is one yard essential, but what’s most important for basic maintenance in your garden?

For planting shrubs and flowers, a spade or garden trowel and a cultivator (a claw-like tool) are the essentials. The spade or garden trowel will make digging holes a simple task, while a cultivator is perfect for loosening soil around plants.

A pointed shovel is helpful for planting shrubs, small trees and other live goods. This tool is useful for many other projects around the yard, so it’s a good investment.

Look for ergonomic tools to make the work easier and your muscles a little less sore. Kneeling pads are also helpful when working in garden beds.

A new hose, nozzle and sprinkler are other “must haves” for everything from watering plants and grass during warm weather to cleaning your tools after using them.

In addition to a conventional hose, pick up a soaker hose for deep watering of flower beds and vegetable gardens. These hoses direct water to plants’ roots while reducing the amount of water usually wasted during watering. Long hoses can be neatly stored on hose reels, which also makes it easy to move.

Think about picking up an all-purpose wheelbarrow, too – it’s a versatile tool for transporting loads of mulch, dirt, compost and other materials.

New Light Bulb Legislation

You may know that January 1st, new legislation went into effect with regard to incandescent light bulbs, but what does this mean for you?  We have a few quick facts to help everyone understand what is happening in the world of household interior lighting.

First of all, incandescent light bulbs are not being “banned” per se.  Manufacturers are simply required to stop producing incandescent bulbs, beginning with 100 watt this year followed by 75, 60 and 40 watt over the next few years.  As retailers, we are allowed to sell them until stock from our suppliers is depleted and as consumers you may purchase and use the bulbs as long as they are available.  In addition, “specialty bulbs” including three-way, super bright, appliance, colored and plant bulbs are exempt from the legislation.

Going forward, new light bulbs have to meet increased energy efficiency standards.  Many of these options are already on our shelves including Energy Efficient Incandescent Bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and LED Bulbs.  The great news is that while these options may cost a bit more to purchase, the energy savings and life of the bulbs make them well worth it.  Additionally, the performance and styling of these bulbs have come a long way- making them an excellent choice for almost any application.