Take care. Keep up with upkeep.

Taking good care of your home is easy with tips like these from our exclusive Homeowners Maintenance Manual.


Painting Tips

When it comes to home improvement projects, preparation is the key. By using the appropriate tool and products, you can achieve a great-looking paint job in minimal time. A fresh coat of paint is the most inexpensive and quickest way to refresh a room. Professional painters recommend a few must-haves:

Patching Products
To repair nail holes and chipped paint before painting, use a paintable, fast-drying, shrink-free patching compound. For holes in woodwork, be sure to use an epoxy with a soft texture, since a course texture will create a noticeable variation in the wood.

Drop Cloths
Protecting floors from grit, sawdust, caulk and paint spills is necessary on any job. Cloth drops are more expensive, but they work best, especially over carpets. There are also statically treated, pre-taped drop cloths that feature a pre-taped edge of professional-grade masking tape.

Masking Tape
To keep paint only on the desired surfaces, use masking tape to cover woodwork or hardware. Some brands are designed for delicate surfaces like wallpaper and drywall. They feature a low-tack adhesive to allow easy removal without damaging the surface.

Sandpaper or Sanding Blocks
Sanding is necessary to create a smooth surface for paint to adhere to. A durable aluminum oxide, A-weight paper with 100- to 150-grit is suitable for most general-purpose sanding applications.

All-Purpose Caulk
Joints should always be reinforced to prevent cracking by using a paintable, mildew-resistant all-purpose caulk. Water-based sealants have the added ease of soap-and-water cleanup.

Interior Latex Paint
For most indoor applications, a latex interior paint is the key since it is formulated to be washable, stain-and splatter-resistant and is easy to touch up. Latex paints are easy to work with, dry quickly and are extremely durable.

Paint Brushes and Rollers
A quality brush makes it easier to apply paint evenly and accurately. Use a one- to two-inch, high-quality, nylon/polyester angled brush because it can be used with all coatings, holds paint well and provides better brush control where detail is necessary. Rollers should be selected based on the type of paint being applied. For a semi-gloss or gloss paint or for washable enamel, use a 3/8-inch nap, shed-resistant roller cover. For flat paints, choose a roller with a 1/2-inch-nap that’s labeled “For Flat Paints.”




Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles and breakers should be tested once a month to insure they are operating properly.

To test a receptacle with two buttons – one marked TEST and one marked RESET – you can push the TEST button on the device and check to make sure the power goes off. Then push the RESET button and check to see that the power goes on again. If the receptacle fails to turn off or to come back on, have it replaced.

To test either a GFCI receptacle or a standard receptacle that is protected by either a GFCI receptacle or a GFCI breaker up the line from it, you can use a GFCI plug tester. These testers look just like regular plug testers but have a button that you push to trip the GFCI. Check the indicator lights when you plug it in, and make sure they indicate that the receptacle is properly wired. Push the button and check the lights again – they should all be off. Before unplugging the tester, reset the protecting receptacle or breaker, and check to see that the indicator lights now indicate proper connections again.

To test a GFCI circuit breaker, you can either push the TEST button built into it or short the equipment that it is protecting. If it’s protecting receptacles, you can use your GFCI plug tester in those receptacles. If it’s protecting some other piece of equipment, such as your hot tub, use the built-in button. Remember that to reset a circuit breaker, regardless of whether you tripped it with its test button or with your plug tester, you need to turn the breaker OFF and then back ON.