April home-maintenance checklist
Spiff up the front entry
Few things say "spring" like freshening up the front entrance of your home. Try any or all of these improvements:
- Remove the doormat and sweep and dust the entry and all the way around the door. Clean the threshold with soapy water and a rag and gently wipe down the door.
- Take a hard look at the flower pots, furniture, plant hangers, toys, boots, shovels, brooms and tools cluttering the entrance; remove and store or throw away all but the most essential items. Wipe down porch and patio furniture.
- Stand back from the entry and decide what simple steps will most improve its appearance. A fresh coat of paint for the front door? Installing new house numbers? Adding two tall pots to flank the entrance (in colors that match or contrast nicely with the door)? Also consider painting the porch ceiling — a traditional color is blue, for the sky — or floor.
- Replace the doormat with a new one. Use mats inside and outside each door. They’re not just decorative; they protect your floors from damaging grit.
- Replace rusted or ugly exterior light fixtures. Get inspiration from this slide show: "Fix up your front entry in one weekend."
- As soon as the weather permits and the wood has dried, repaint front steps with deck paint or other surfacing made for heavy traffic. Ask paint store professionals for recommendations. Take care to choose a color for the steps that works well with the house color and front door.
- Wipe down railings; sand, prime and repaint flaked, chipped or bubbled paint.
- Add another note of color by planting spring annuals in pots at the door, at the top of the steps or marching down the steps.
- On our blog, 'Listed': Dream of a handmade house lives on
Check the fence line, cowboy
Take a tour of your back forty to see how the fence is holding up. Wiggle supporting posts to make sure they’re solidly in the ground. Use a mallet to drive them in deeper if necessary. Look for holes made by animals burrowing under the fence. You can fill these holes with big stones or install a wire mesh barrier as deep as necessary, then fill the hole with dirt.
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Repair or replace broken fence posts, and sand down potentially dangerous splinters. Check wood fences for rot (soft, spongy or crumbling wood) and insect damage, holes, sawdust and weakness in boards. Repaint or restain every couple of years or when you find chips and flakes in the paint. Use a durable product intended for use on fences. Ask paint store experts for recommendations.
Take a leaf rake and a big tarp with you as you circle the house, gathering leaves, wind-blown debris and tree branches onto the tarp. When the tarp has a pile of leaves a couple of feet high, gather the corners and empty the contents into a yard-waste bin or a compost pile. With a broom, sweep off paths, sidewalks, steps and flagstones with an eye to removing obstacles on which people could trip.
Clean stains from concrete
For patios and sidewalks stained by fallen leaves and dirt, rent a pressure washer and clean the concrete. Auto oil stains on the garage floor or driveway are tougher to remove and call for some imagination. Fresh oil is easiest to get up. Tackle it as quickly as possible, soaking up the liquid with paper towels and sprinkling cat litter on the stain, crushing the litter in with your shoe, then sweeping it up. (Call your garbage company or city waste department to ask where to take oil-soaked rags, paper and litter. Don’t put them in the garbage can.)
Next, scrub the stain with soap, warm water and a nylon (not wire) scrub brush. This may do the trick, although you might need to scrub, rinse, check your progress and scrub again several times.
For really stubborn stains, get creative. You’ve heard that there are a million crazy ways to use Coca-Cola (see "20 Crazy Uses for Coke," for example, at Gomestic). James and Morris Carey, at OnTheHouse.com, have one more cola trick: They soak stained concrete with cola, brushing it in with a stiff broom while the pop fizzes, keeping the concrete wet. Flood the stain with clean water once the fizzing stops, then bleach the area with this mixture: one cup of liquid chlorine bleach, one cup of powdered laundry soap and a gallon of really hot water. Rinse.
It is Spring time! The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, the fields abound with color.
My last child in college graduates this May, time for cleaning up around the house.
I will start by putting the old house on the market, filing for divorce from that demanding nag of 26 years, ( who cares if she gets 1/2 of my 401K, and half of the home sale proceeds, my state does not have alimony, thank God!)
Start a new life, buy a condo near the beach, get a job that may pay as little as half as much, but a job I like. Trade in the mercedes for a Porsche, take it slow, take it easy, enjoy whatever life I have left to the fullest.
Yes, it has been a long winter, twenty six years long!
Let the sun shine in, observe the colors of mother nature and rejoice in a new beginning.
Life is a terrible thing to waste!