Dana Claflin - ERA Key Realty Services



Posted by Dana Claflin on 3/26/2020

Photo by Brett Hondow via Pixabay

You love your tiles. But they don't seem to do your bathroom justice anymore. Ask yourself, is it the tiles themselves, or what's in between that makes you cringe? Is the grout cracked, faded, yellowish or gray? 

Breathe new life into a dirty-looking bathroom tile floor, kitchen backsplash or tile shower by simply re-grouting the tiles and polishing them. Here's how to do it.

What you'll need

  • Margin float
  • Earplugs (if you're using a rotary. It's loud!)
  • Two sponges
  • Safety glasses
  • Two buckets
  • Manual grout removal tool with a carbide blade 
  • Rotary tool or reciprocating saw (not needed for small jobs)
  • Grout
  • One cup vinegar (for polishing)

Step 1: choose the right tool for the job

A rotary tool or reciprocating saw is faster. But you'll have to be extra careful not to damage a tile. And if you don't have a rotary tool, you'll need to buy or borrow. For these reasons, generally, you'll only want to go to this option if you have a larger space to re-grout like a master bathroom. 

On the other hand, removing grout manually can be tedious and slow at times. *Pro tip* For smaller jobs, start with a manual tool. You can always switch to a power tool if you find you don't have the patience.

Step 2: remove the existing grout

Start by putting on your safety glasses and ear protection if using a power tool. Whether using a manual tool or electric, slowly guide your instrument through the in-between, cutting out the grout. *Pro tip* Start in a less seen area of the room like behind the door or toilet. That way, if you do make a mistake (break a tile) when learning how to use the tool, it's less of a deal-breaker, and you won't feel you must replace the tile.

Step 3: mix & apply the grout




Tags: DIY   tile   grout  
Categories: DIY  


Posted by Dana Claflin on 3/19/2020

Picking out flowers to plant in your garden and around your home is no easy task. You’ll have to consider the hardiness of the plants, whether you want them to come back year after year, what colors complement your house, and so on.

 Most people just simply buy flowers that look pretty. And while you can get lucky and have healthy flowers that way, a better method is to think about what you’re looking for in a flower.

 In this article, we’re going to help you choose the right flowers for your home and lifestyle.

 Annuals, biennials, and perennials

One of the first things you should consider is the lifecycle of the flowers. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of choosing and planting new flowers every year or two, perennials may be the best choice for you. Over the long run, you can save money by planting and caring for perennials. However, in the short term, annuals tend to be cheaper to buy.

Planting perennials

If you do decide to go with perennials in your garden you’ll need to be careful about which ones you choose. Make sure to look up your plant hardiness zone and only buy flowers that can withstand the colder seasons in your region.

Furthermore, you’ll want to see if there is any special care required to keep your flowers coming back each year. Likely, you’ll have to spend a bit of time aerating and fertilizing your soil to maintain a supply of nutrients to your plants’ roots. Similarly, determine if there is any special care that you can provide in the winter to help the plants return to life next spring.

Planting annuals

Annuals tend to be some of the brightest and most beautiful flowers. Some of them, called “volunteers,” can sow their own seeds easily and return the next year with minimum work on your part.

You might also notice that annuals bloom throughout the season. That means you and you family and house guests have more time to marvel at the beautiful flowers they produce.

Some common annuals to plant are begonias, geraniums, marigolds, sunflowers and petunias. If you like to keep a variety.

Planting biennials

Like annuals, biennials will die after they bloom. The key difference is that they last for two years not one. During spring of the first year they will grow and stem but won’t bloom. The following spring is when biennials reach their peak.

 Just like annuals, biennials can sow their own seeds. However, some are easier to grow than others and you’ll want to encourage them with rich, aerated soil and plenty of water in early spring.

 Some common biennials include Black-eyed Susans, Sweet William, Forget-Me-Not, and some garden variety plants like fennel, carrot, and parsley.

 Pest-repelling plants

There’s more to flowers than just their ability to look and smell nice. Some plants have the ability to repel certain pests. 

Marigold can repel certain insects as well as rabbits, chives repel certain beetles and flies, petunias repel aphids (which can wreak havoc in your vegetable garden), and so on. 

If you have a pest problem and want to dissuade them from coming back next year, planting pest-repelling plants may be the best option for you.




Tags: flowers   garden  
Categories: Gardening   flowers  


Posted by Dana Claflin on 3/12/2020

Image by Victoria Farr from Pixabay

With a little thought, creativity and some inexpensive odds and ends you can add charming accents to your home.  Weekend projects provide a fun way to spend a few hours and being able to look at your finished project with satisfaction is even better if it serves a useful purpose beautifying your property.  The majority of store-bought garden hose caddies aren’t particularly attractive, and of course neither is a loose hose, but all you really need is a container or hanger of the right size.  Keeping this in mind, lots of objects can work beautifully for this purpose, and you can design them yourself and incorporate touches that best complement your home.

Ceramic Planter Hose Caddy

The beautifully painted ceramic planters you’ve been eyeing in the gardening departments of stores can be transformed into more than just the statement piece for your garden.  Choose one large enough that it can neatly hold the coils of your given hose--the longer your hose, the taller or wider the planter should be.  Drill bits designed for ceramic tiles can easily be found at hardware stores so you’ll be able to make holes in the side of the planter as needed for the hose to enter the caddy from the spigot and to exit the caddy for use.  Be sure the diameter of your holes leaves excess room to allow the hose to easily slide through without kinking or cutting into it; you want to be able to slide it out easily for use.

If your planter is tall enough you might choose to leave it as is, but some planters come with lids so you can completely conceal the hose for storage.  Alternately you can buy a shallow bowl-shaped planter to fit into the top of your hose caddy and plant some flowers to hide the hose.

Rustic Wooden Hose Caddy

Pieces made from natural, textured materials like wood look at home nested in your garden or alongside your house.  Start by picking up a standard wood shipping-style crate for around $10 from superstores, craft stores or used from online shops, as well as a thin rectangular piece of similar wood about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  You will also need a wooden dowel road about 1 inch in diameter.

Use a hole cutter attachment for your drill to cut 2 holes into boards on the size of your crate for your hose to lead in to the crate from the spigot and an outgoing hole to make use of the hose when needed.  Make these holes of ample size so as not to abrade or cut into your hose.  

A simple lid can be made by cutting the rectangular piece of wood to be even with the outer edge of the crate opening.  Next, cut 4 1/2 to 1 inch lengths of the dowel road.  On the underside of the lid you made, use wood glue or a slim nail to attach a 1/2 to 1 inch length of dowel just far enough away from the lid’s corners that they fit inside the crate’s opening and hold the lid in place.

If desired, stain the crate and lid.  You could also stencil ‘fragile’, location names or other travel-themed accents on the boards to denote the shipping crate theme, or use wood glue to attach prints of vintage advertising signs or crate labels, then add a coat of varnish.




Categories: DIY  


Posted by Dana Claflin on 3/5/2020

Want to buy a house for the first time? Create a budget, and you can move one step closer to transforming your homebuying dream into a reality.

Now, let's take a look at three budgeting tips that every first-time homebuyer needs to know.

1. Don't Wait to Start Saving for a Down Payment

In most instances, a down payment on a home ranges from 5 percent to 20 percent. With a large down payment, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage expenses.

A lender may be more willing to provide you with a favorable mortgage if you can afford an above-average down payment. This means if you have plenty of money for a down payment, you could save money over the life of your mortgage.

2. Take a Look at Your Outstanding Debt

Student loan charges, credit card bills and other outstanding debt may make it tough for you to get the financing that you need to buy a house. Fortunately, if you pay down your outstanding debt as much as possible, you can boost your chances of buying your dream house.

Evaluate your current spending and make cuts if possible. For example, if you dine out several times a week, it may be more cost-effective to buy groceries and cook your own meals. Then, you'll have extra money that you can use to pay off outstanding debt and save for a house.

3. Understand Your Credit Score

Do you know your credit score? If not, you may be missing out on opportunities to eliminate outstanding debt and increase your home savings.

You are eligible for a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can receive insights into your credit score.

If you obtain your free credit reports and find outstanding debt, you should try to pay off this debt sooner rather than later. Because the longer that you wait to pay off outstanding debt, the longer it may take you to acquire your ideal residence.

Furthermore, if you discover errors on a credit report, contact the reporting bureau immediately. This will enable you to fix any report errors before you get a mortgage.

If you need additional assistance as you map out a homebuying budget, it often pays to collaborate with a bank or credit union. In addition to providing you with multiple mortgage options, a lender will offer expert recommendations to help you budget for your first home purchase.

Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional is happy to help you get in touch with the best lenders in your area. And when you're ready to kick off your inaugural homebuying journey, a real estate agent can provide you with the support you need, precisely when you need it.

Use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish an effective homebuying budget.




Tags: Buying a home   budgeting  
Categories: Buying a Home   budgeting  


Posted by Dana Claflin on 2/27/2020

There is no feeling like the one associated with buying a house. If you know how to navigate the homebuying journey, you can boost the likelihood of enjoying an unforgettable property buying experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.

1. Create Homebuying Criteria

For those who want to enter the real estate market, it generally is a good idea to establish homebuying criteria. That way, you can focus on properties that match your expectations.

Think about the features you want to find in your dream residence. For instance, if you want to own a house that offers a spacious backyard, you can narrow your property search accordingly. Or, if you want to purchase a residence close to some of the nation's top schools, you can hone your property search to a select group of cities and towns.

You may want to conduct extensive housing market research too. Because the more you know about the local housing sector, the better equipped you will be to find a home that you can enjoy for years to come.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

If you want to buy a house, you likely will need a mortgage. Lucky for you, banks and credit unions are available nationwide, and these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. By doing so, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.

Also, if you are uncertain about how a mortgage works or require other home financing insights, reach out to a bank or credit union for support. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who can teach you everything you need to know about home financing. As a result, you can work with these mortgage specialists to make an informed home financing decision.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a must-have, particularly for an individual who wants to minimize stress during the homebuying journey. In fact, this housing market professional will do whatever it takes to help you find a terrific home at a budget-friendly price.

With a real estate agent at your side, you can streamline the homebuying journey. A real estate agent will help you establish realistic expectations for a home search, set up house showings and keep you up to date about new residences that become available in your preferred cities and towns. In addition, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase your ideal residence. And once you are ready to close on your dream house, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to do just that.

As you get ready to pursue your dream residence, it helps to prepare as much as you can. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you should have no trouble enjoying a fun, exciting homebuying experience.




Categories: Buying a Home   buying tips  




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