Preparing your home’s exterior for the fall

Spruce up your home’s curb appeal with a fresh coat of paint. Not only does a paint touch-up maximize the first impression, it protects your investment from the elements. Follow these five easy steps to increase durability and create maximum wow factor.

  1. First, make sure to inspect the exterior of your home and identify any problem areas. Look for things like peeling paint, cracked caulking and water damage. Pay particular attention to your roof’s peaks, since sun exposure makes them more susceptible to wear and tear. Correct any issues before painting to avoid a spotty finish.
  2. Make sure to prepare the painting surface(s) to ensure a professional-looking finish. Sand, scrape and pressure-clean the areas you wish to paint to ensure uniformity.
  3. Pick colours that pop. Everyone admires an entrance that draws the eye, and there’s no better way to create big impact with just a little effort than with paint. A bold colour for your front door gives your home personality and creates a lasting impression. For a clean, vibrant look, I’ve picked Para Paints’ Jadestone 116F (pictured).
  4. Ensure that you have the proper tools and products for the job. Get yourself an angular tip brush, paint scraper, rags and a durable, top-quality paint. Be sure to choose a paint that can be applied and cures well in cold weather. A reliable choice is Para Paints’ new ultra-low temp velvet or semi-gloss paints. These products can be applied at 2°C, lengthening the fall painting season. They’re weather resistant, dry quickly and come in a wide range of colours.
  5. Now comes the easy part— the painting. For best results, apply a primer before starting, followed by an even application of paint. You can complete your refresh in one coat without issues, but consider two coats if the old paint is very dry or if the surface is very porous.

After applying the finishing touches, let the paint dry for a day or two and you’ll have a home that’s beautiful, inviting and resilient.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a real estate investor, contractor, author and educator.

Refresh your home with new cabinet doors

Looking for a way to update your home? If you’re happy with your existing cabinetry layout, refacing with new cabinet doors is all you need. The timesaving, no-fuss solution will make your space look brand new in a week or less.

By using an in-home cabinet refacing service such as ReNuIt, which provides turnkey, in-home consultation and installation, all you have to do is pick your style and watch the beauty come to life.

Cabinet refacing is perfect for quickly refreshing kitchens as well as many other areas of your home where storage and organization are key. Here are some ideas for how to revive different spaces with fresh cabinets.

Laundry room. Updating cabinets in your laundry room is a great way to stay on-trend while keeping organized. You can use the cabinets to store detergent, laundry sheets and cleaning supplies. Consider updating with new cabinet doors in neutral tones such as beige, white or grey. These colours will bring a fresh feel and look as clean as your clothes.

Home office. Let style inspire you in this space. If you envision an energizing room, opt for cabinet doors in bright colours. There’s a variety of blues, greens or yellows that will get your creative juices flowing. Perhaps you’re looking for a luxury feel with warm tones. For this, consider a rich brown or dark burgundy, as they offer that ready-for-business vibe.

Hallway and mudroom. It can be hard to find a place to store all your shoes and outerwear. Having cabinetry near the front door will provide you with that extra storage space. Consider adding cabinetry to an unused alcove or entry nook. You can have them installed with shelves, dividers and hooks so that everything has its place. This will help hide all the clutter, creating a seamless space perfect for greeting guests.

For more information on cabinet re-facing and installation check out

Staying safe during home renovations

The first back-to-school sale catches you by surprise. Where did the summer go?  With the return of shorter days and cooler temperatures, perhaps there are some neglected renovation projects that you can finally tackle.

Even if it’s only painting the kitchen, here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Is there asbestos in your house? If you are planning renovations and your home has building materials already installed that you think may contain asbestos — like insulation, exterior siding, floor or ceiling tiles — contact a trained and qualified asbestos abatement professional. They can test for and remove asbestos before you begin the renovations. Never try to remove building materials that may contain asbestos yourself. If left undisturbed, there are no significant health risks from asbestos.
  • Understand what you’re using. Whether it’s paint, caulking or even window cleaner, use chemical products as directed. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of anything left over.
  • Be sure to pick up gloves, a mask and a pair of safety glasses. The label of the product will provide more detailed information on personal safety equipment you should use. This is essential to protect you and your family.
  • Keep all chemicals away from children. Keep all household chemical products safely stored where kids cannot see or reach them.
  • Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during painting or varnishing projects, or when installing wall-to-wall carpets using glues or adhesives.

Tips to remember when revitalizing old furniture

Whether you’re stripping a chair you found in a garage sale, staining a vintage dresser or painting dated kitchen cabinets, be sure to protect yourself and those around you in the process. Here is what to do:

  1. Read the label. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of any leftover products.
  2. Work in an area with lots of ventilation. Refinish old furniture outdoors, if weather permits. If you work inside, open the windows to make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
  3. Do not use sanders, heat guns or blowlamps. This can create dust and fumes that may contain lead.
  4. Use a chemical paint stripper. Ideally, choose one with a paste that can be applied with a brush. Paint strippers also contain substances that may be harmful, so use them carefully.
  5. Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area. This will help ensure their safety.
  6. Always wear safety glasses, gloves, and a good-quality breathing mask. The label of the product will provide more detailed information on personal safety equipment you should use. These are essential to protect you and your family.
  7. Store materials properly. Make sure that you store refinishing chemicals in a dry, cool place. Keep any hazardous material away from children’s reach.
  8. Dispose of refinishing waste materials properly. It can be very dangerous to throw away rags and certain other materials that have been used for refinishing furniture. Aside from potentially starting a fire, they can also cause serious damage to the environment.

How to clean tricky areas in your home

Some nooks and crannies in the home can confound even the most fastidious housekeepers. Fortunately, a little elbow grease, the right tools and some simple techniques can go a long way toward an exceptionally clean home.

Get rid of gunk. When showering or using the bathroom sink becomes an unpleasant experience, it’s time to de-grime. Remove limescale and other gunk with DIY techniques and an ingredient already stocked in many homes — white vinegar. Soak shower tracks and the tub in vinegar for 30 minutes and wipe clean. Similarly, a rub with vinegar-soaked cotton balls on faucets, handles and other areas will leave the bathroom shining without any damage from abrasive scrubbing.

Conquer crevices. The many hard-to-reach areas of your home such as baseboards, vents, around appliances and under furniture might be neglected even when doing a thorough clean. Fortunately, Beam Central Vacuums feature lightweight hoses and ergonomic crevice and multi-tools that make it easy to maneuver and tackle even the most aggravating areas for an ultimate clean.

Freshen the fridge. The refrigerator needs a good cleaning every few months. Decrease the stress on its motor by pulling it from the wall, mopping the floor and vacuuming the coils in the back. Inside, soapy water will keep the shelves sparkling, while a damp cloth will remove smudges on the outside.

Denounce your dirty oven. You need to use some elbow grease to get rid of the actual grease. Remove hood vents, racks and burners, soak in soapy water and rinse twice per year. Wipe down the doors and crevices thoroughly before replacing the racks, then blast away any remaining grit by running the oven’s self-cleaning option.

Learn more about cleaning tricky areas of your home at

Essential home cleaning tips for pet owners

Even the biggest pet-lovers know furry friends can leave an endless mess around your home. Fortunately, an effective home cleaning routine can minimize the mess left behind on your floors, furniture and guests. Try these tips to keep your home happy, healthy and clean so both two- and four-legged family members can flourish.

Stop dirt on sight. Rain, leaves, mud and mischief are a recipe for disaster when pets are coming back in from some outdoor playtime, but it’s possible to keep dirt and debris outside. Think ahead and keep all-natural pet wipes at the door to capture dirt and moisturize paw pads and fur at the same time.

Say no to furry furniture. You want your living spaces guest ready, not full of fur and pet hair. With Beam Central Vacuum accessories like a pet grooming brush, upholstery brush and hand power brush cleaning those favourite pet nap spots is effortless, removing fur along with any dirt, dust and allergens they brought in from outside.

Roll hair away. Even once furniture and floors are clean, fur is likely to stick to clothes. Keep a lint roller in an accessible place near the front door. This is especially helpful for sending appreciative guests on their way as fur-free as they arrived, with fond memories not fur balls.

Protect what matters. Curious teeth and paws can wreak havoc on valuable home items. To stop pets in the act and keep them away from areas where they aren’t allowed, use furniture-safe products like bitter-tasting pet sprays. Keep non-toxic wood fillers on hand to mend scratches and gashes in case of an incident.

Learn more about keeping your home clean with pets at

Increase resale value with new countertops

Want a quick way to boost what your home is worth? According to a recent survey conducted by Houzz, countertops are the top upgraded feature in most homes and the material most likely to be splurged on.

There are several materials to consider when replacing your countertop. Here, The Home Depot shares insights that will help you decide which style is the best for your lifestyle. Consider these tips not only when you are looking to sell your house, but also when you are searching for a new one.

Quartz. Over the past few years, quartz has become the product of choice for many consumers. When preparing to sell your house, consider quartz as a durable material that buyers will pay extra for. There are a variety of colours to choose from, but if you’re selling you’ll want to stick to neutral tones like whites and greys.

When buying a house, ask what material the countertops are made from. One of the main benefits of quartz is that it is resistant to chips and cracks. It’s also easy to clean because of its non-porous surface.

Natural stone. Another popular option to consider is natural stone. When selling your house, you may not want to spend a great deal on refreshing and some natural stone costs less than quartz while still offering a beautiful look that will last forever.

The material resists staining and cracking under high temperatures and requires little-to-no maintenance, making it an ideal option for those who love to cook and entertain. You won’t need to worry if guests spill their glass of Shiraz or put a hot serving plate on your counter by accident.

Surviving a warm weather blackout

Surviving a warm weather blackoutMost power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer — up to days or even weeks. Fortunately, you can lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance.

Power outages are often caused by storms and/or high winds that damage power lines and equipment. You may be left without air conditioning, lighting, hot water or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service.

Here’s what to do during a blackout to protect you and your family.

  1. First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours’ power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 metres back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
  2. If your neighbours’ power is also out, notify your electric supply authority.
  3. Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Note that power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
  4. Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know when power has been restored.
  5. Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment or home generators indoors or in garages because they give off carbon monoxide. Since you can’t smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  6. Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep them out of the reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
  7. Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities. Did you know that the Alert Ready system is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio and now mobile. The addition of wireless emergency alerts can help ensure you get the critical information you need, even during an extended a black out. Visit for more information and to find out if your phone is compatible.

Find more information at

3 tips to consider before your backyard renovation

3 tips to consider before your backyard renovationIf you’re thinking about transforming your outdoor space with a new deck or garden, here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:

Think about appliances and equipment early. Give some thought to the types of appliances or equipment you may want installed based on what’s most important to you. Is it comfort, energy efficiency or aesthetics? Plan based on what you’d like now and potentially in the future to identify what you’ll need, such as support beams, electrical wires and natural gas lines. When choosing the appliances, don’t forget to factor in the fuel source. There are several natural gas appliances available, like fireplaces, pool heaters and outdoor lighting.

Barbecue like a chef. If you’re designing your backyard with entertaining in mind, opt for a natural gas barbecue. Since they’re hooked up to your home’s natural gas line, you won’t run out of fuel or have to wait for charcoal to heat up. That means more time to spend with your guests.

Chefs also chefs prefer cooking with natural gas because the direct and consistent heat allows for more precise temperature control and even cooking.

Call or click before you dig. When you’re ready to start your backyard project, but before you do any digging, contact Ontario One Call to see what’s underground. Damage to a natural gas line can result in a gas leak, fire or explosion, and can even cut off utility service to an entire neighbourhood. A natural gas connection should also only be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor. Find more information at or by calling 1-800-400-2255.

Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoid

Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoidUnless you have technical qualifications and a lot of experience, there are some projects and types of work that you are better off leaving to the pros. These are the ones that involve safety risks for you and your family, and it is better to let a professional to do the work.

Plumbing, electrical and gas repairs and installations. Depending on provincial regulations, a licensed contractor may be necessary by law. Make sure you know the rules where you live. For the sake of your family’s safety, work involving electricity and/or gas service should only be done by a qualified and licensed contractor. Because this type of work can result in a safety hazard if done incorrectly, permits are usually required.

Roofing or other exterior work involving heights. These projects require proper safety equipment that must be correctly used. If you don’t have such equipment and know how to use it properly, don’t take chances — hire a pro.

Asbestos removal. You should always use a professional for this tricky project, and provincial laws likely require it. Don’t risk your health by doing this work on your own.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at