360renos - Home Improvement & Decor

How to make your home stand out when selling

We can help your house sell quickly and at a good price -- even in a slow market.

It takes a lot more than sparkling windows, scented candles and chocolate-chip cookies to sell a home in today's market.

Improvements should be made so that the property shows well, is consistent with the neighborhood and does not involve capital investments.

Beyond any doubt, the best investment you can make is new paint. Painting can make a room or an exterior fa├žade look brand-new, and totally transform the look and feel of a room or the entire residence. It is always wise to be somewhat restrained when choosing colors for a home-staging paint project. Avoid choosing colors that are too individual or flashy and favor neutral colors and schemes. This does not mean painting everything white, however.

Use subtle color schemes to accentuate the home's strengths and minimize weaknesses. Dark colors, for example, tend to make a room feel smaller, while lighter colors and pastels can make a room feel bigger.

There is another benefit to painting as well: the process of preparing the interior or exterior surfaces of a home for painting automatically allows us to go over the entire area receiving paint in great detail, and this can often expose items or areas requiring repair. It seems you always discover where the caulking has let go, where the wall is dinged.

It is always preferable that we discover and deal with these items before the real estate agent (or worse, the prospective buyer) points them out to you!

Dave - 360renos

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shining future for LED lighting

Judging by how often I see compact fluorescent bulbs, a lot of people are willing to make a few lifestyle changes in the interest of the environment. But I doubt we'll see many of these fluorescent bulbs 10 years from now.

That's because a more efficient, safer and longer-lasting light bulb technology is emerging and starting to appear on store shelves. As prices drop, we'll see LEDs redesigned for more applications.

The technology is called light emitting diode (LED for short), and until four or five years ago, just about the only place you'd see them was on VCR screens, microwaves and the occasional ancient calculator from the 1970s.

The first high-profile breakout from traditional LED applications appeared in Christmas lights in 2002. Nowadays an entire string of colourful LED holiday lights uses less energy than did a single old incandescent holiday bulb.

The working life of LED lights is measured in tens of thousands of hours, not just thousands. So, how long before LED bulbs become available for serious, interior lighting applications in lamps and overhead fixtures?

LED bulbs are particularly efficient and long-lasting because they produce light in an entirely different way from other kinds of bulbs. Instead of using electricity to heat up a metal filament or excite a conductive gas, LEDs produce light by channelling electric current through a semiconductor. In the most efficient examples, this approach converts almost 100 per cent of the electricity into light, with virtually no waste heat produced.

It's now possible to buy LED equivalents for retrofitting various types of household and specialty light fixtures that were originally designed for incandescent bulbs. You won't see many of these on hardware store shelves yet, but leading Canadian specialty suppliers are beginning to offer a growing line of LED bulbs. The only problem is cost, though that's changing.

The price of an MR16 LED to replace traditional halogen designs runs from $35 to $60 for a single bulb. That's about five to eight times more money than a regular halogen bulb, but the LED lasts 20 to 25 times longer while using 90 per cent less energy.

That's why LEDs make especially good sense in applications where lights stay on a lot, where the heat buildup of traditional bulbs is a problem, or where it's difficult to change bulbs after they burn out. These include commercial and high-rise residential applications, where lights are burning 24/7 -- here I am thinking of hallways, stairwells and elevators.

They're also useful for exterior residential applications, especially when changing a bulb involves climbing up a ladder. LEDs last for years and function well where it's cold. They don't emit UV rays, either, so they won't cause fading of fabrics and surfaces.

LED lighting is a response to the disappearance of the cheap, convenient and plentiful sources of energy we've relied on. We've also developed a keener sense of the hidden environmental costs of extravagant energy use.

Courtesy of - Steve Maxwell is Canada's award-winning home improvement expert, and technical editor of Canadian Home Workshop magazine.

Dave - 360renos

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Interior Paint Market offers lots of choice.

Beauti-Tone - Well priced and carried nationally at Home Hardware, Beauti-Tone has a great website that covers project ideas, tips and trends. Web site: beauti-tone.ca

Behr - Widely available through Home Depot, Behr is one of the best of the mid-priced brands. Features like large-size paint chips and in-store colour-matching computers make it popular among home painters.Web site: behr.com

Benjamin Moore - A favourite brand with designers as well as consumers, both of whom like the paint line's vast range of colours, it offers excellent coverage and wear. Widely available.Web site: benjaminmoore.ca

CIL Paints - One of the best-kept industry secrets, CIL is an excellent mid- to premium-priced paint with a beautiful colour palette. Its parent company, ICI, makes several fine house brands, such as Color Your World.Web site: cilpaint.com

General Paint - All-Canadian General Paint was one of the first to design software that lets you scan a room photo and preview it in a paint shade. General's Z-Coat is one of the most environmentally friendly latex paints on the market.Web site: generalpaint.com

Martha Stewart Everyday Colors - You can't beat Martha's taste, and the paint chips show potential colour combos, making it easy to capture the decor guru's knack for coordination. Midpriced and widely available.Available at: canadiantire.ca

Para Paints - Another venerable Canadian company, Para is known for such innovations as durable and scrubbable Elite eggshells and flats, and their Group of Seven line, which incorporates colours inspired by the canvases of Canada's legendary art movement.Web site: para.com

Ralph Lauren Paint - Ralph Lauren Paint has the same designer cachet as Martha Stewart Everyday Colors and is similar in quality. Along with the basic finishes, there are textured paint treatments such as Suede and River Rock, which require specialized application methods.Web site:rlhome.polo.com

Sico - One of the oldest Canadian companies, Sico is known for its super-washable flat paint, Cashmere, and for accuracy in nailing reds, often a difficult pigment for many companies to formulate. Web site: sico.ca

Courtesy of Expert Advice
Dave - 360renos