January Home Improvement: Weekend Projects

Tips to get your home in tip top shape for the season

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun. January is the time to get cracking on lots of little winter home improvement projects, avoiding big winter woes later on. Here's where to start.

WEEKEND #1: Put Away Holiday Decorations

The holidays are officially over, so January's first weekend is the perfect time for a home improvement project: putting away those sparkly decorations. Remove all of your holiday decorations and while you are taking them down, examine them for any damages. Check to make sure all the lights are working, replace any burned out bulbs and make certain the holiday season has not caused wires to fray. This January weekend is the best time to make sure your lights will be in good working order next season. Plus if any damage is found, you can replace them while they are still 50% off!

To store your holiday lights, cut some cardboard into 12 by 9 pieces and wrap the lights around it to keep them tidy and at the ready for next year. Be sure to store decorative items in clear plastic bins so you know exactly what is in there, and to be sure moisture does not deteriorate any of the cheer. Place all stored items at the back of your storage area to allow the current seasonal items to be accessible.

 WEEKEND #2: Fix Unsightly Wall or Ceiling Cracks

By now you have spent some time indoors due to the wintry weather, and you have no doubt noticed a few cracks here and there. This January weekend is a good time to repair them. Here are a couple of tips to help. If you see cracks where your walls meet the ceiling, don't worry.  While unsightly, they pose no structural risk. These cracks are just from the normal expansion and contraction of your house where two pieces of drywall meet. You might notice cracks in either ceiling or wall seams. This cracking can happen anywhere pieces of drywall meet and is normally caused by the joint compound over the seam drying out. 

To fix these unsightly cracks, start by removing the old piece of drywall tape. This is going to cause some damage to the surrounding area but will ultimately allow you to make a repair that will stand the test of time. Next, apply a continuous piece of meshy fiberglass drywall tape over the joint.  Then apply a thin layer of joint compound using a wide spackle knife and let dry. Continue to apply layers, allowing each to set before applying the next. You can apply three layers, and on your last layers, use a narrow spackle knife. Once the tape is fully covered, sand the area using a fine sand sponge or paper to smooth the texture of the wall or ceiling, and then repaint.

If you see cracks along your crown moulding and the ceiling, you can easily fix those cracks with a latex paintable caulk. Be sure to smooth the bead of caulk with your finger. Once dry, you can paint the caulk to match the trim if necessary.

Bathroom Grout CleaningWEEKEND #3: Clean Tile And Grout

Whether it is used for floors, backsplashes or walls, grout is possibly everywhere in your home. Grout does not have to be darker than it was when first applied. Here are some home improvement tips to get dirty grout clean and bright once more and do a little something to help it stay that way. 

The type of tile you have and the amount of discoloration on your grout is going to determine how you clean it. If you have an unglazed tile, you want to always use a natural cleanser; glazed tiles allow you to work with a stronger chemical cleanser. You can use a homemade solution of baking soda and a bit of water. Make a paste of the baking soda and water and apply with a toothbrush, working in small areas so the baking soda doesn't dissolve and loose its abrasiveness. Rinse the area with water once you are done cleaning the grout. 

For more stubborn stains on your grout, use diluted bleach before bringing in chemical stripper for the most difficult projects. Once the grout is clean and thoroughly dried, apply a grout sealer, epoxy or acrylic, which is going to help the grout to not absorb any dirt and stains. Do it once, do it right, and your grout will look as nice as your tile for the long haul.

WEEKEND #4: Lubricate and Eliminate Squeaks and Creaks

Does Old Man Winter have your joints aching this January? No doubt he has the joints of your home aching and creaking as well. If you notice any doors that are not opening as smoothly or sliding the way they used to, that is an easy fix. Grab some WD-40 and attack the working parts of those creaky doors. Lubricate the hinges and the sliding tracks to help smooth out the sticky situation.

You can also lubricate the hinges on medicine cabinets and kitchen cabinets with WD-40. Also, every so often, place WD-40 on your key and slide it into the lock to keep those parts working. Once you start you will find yourself working to lubricate just about anything that opens. That's okay, home improvement addictions are perfectly allowed!