A Quick Guide to Staining Your Deck

Staining your deck adds major curb appeal to your home, while also preserving your deck. It’s relatively easy to stain your deck; there are just some important aspects you want to remember. Let’s discover some helpful tips!

Where do I start?

With cleaning! You’ll need to sweep your deck thoroughly to begin.

Unless your deck was just built, you’ll need to clean it. Pressure washing is an option but it soaks the wood so you’ll have to wait ample time for the wood to dry. You can also try a deck cleaner, which is more cost effective at about $10-20 a bottle. If needed, sand rough or uneven areas of the decking before staining. Fix any blemishes and/or replace rotted or broken deck planks, etc. Deck cleaners also take time to dry, often the best bet is a combo of pressure washing and a cleaner.

What if my deck has been stained previously?

You’ll want to apply a deck stripper first or use a scraping method if only little remains, then you’ll clean as mentioned above. It is not recommended to just apply over top of old stain.

When should I stain my deck?

Warm seasons are your best bet. Late spring and early summer are ideal. However, consider your area’s rainy season. Your deck will need about two days to dry after being cleaned and then about two days to dry from the stain. Keep in mind the time frame, too. Projects always take longer than you expect. Give yourself a whole day for this project.

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Preserve your deck today!

What supplies do I need?

  • Experts recommend using a paint pad attached to a pole (I recommend two for quicker coverage or if one breaks) for the easiest and most even application. You can use a hand brush, but at the expense of your back. You could also try a roller. Or if you really want the job to go quickly, you can purchase a sprayer.
  • Don’t forget your stain! You’ll want a stain over a sealant as they offer better protection. Measure your area and try to estimate how much paint you’ll need. You can even select a paint color if you’d rather. Keep in mind for stains you may want to reapply yearly. However, most people reapply ever 3 – 5 years.
  • Also having plastic and tape or a tarp of some kind to cover the side of your home with will be helpful to avoid stain getting on it.
  • Rags for any mistakes!

Now throw the stain on?

Not quite. You’ll want to tape off any areas that could easily be stained due to close proximity to your deck. If your deck has had time to dry and you’ve checked the weather for two dry days during application – you’re ready to start!

What strategy should I use?

Start with the tops of railings and move down, painting the walking surface last. Be sure to paint underneath railing. Experts recommend laying a cloth drop with a paint pad container on it as you work through the staining process.

That’s it!

Now that you’ve stained your deck allow at least 2-3 days for it to dry completely. It may need an extra coat or touch ups so take care of those as needed. Enjoy your deck and the sunshine! Now throw a party and invite your neighbors and show off that deck!

Play Summer Games With the Family!

woman looking through clothes in her closet

How to Reuse 5 Everyday Items

We have so many options with recycling. You might have a recycling bin at your house that your city picks up. Or you might have your own bin you take to a recycling center. With gently used items, you can always donate them to a local resale store or to someone you know would get good use out of them. But what about the items that don’t fit into either category?

It can be hard to figure out what to do with those items. So, we’ll be looking at how to reuse items that you can’t recycle but aren’t good for the trash either.

Some items can’t be tossed due to a chemical or chemicals in their makeup. For these items many recyclers and re-users recommend not burning items you can’t throw away because burning usually releases the chemicals quickly into the air. So what can you do with these objects?

Reusing is a good alternative as it allows the product to stay intact and not fill a landfill. Check out these solution suggestions for 5 common items on how to reuse them!

  1. Tires. Tires are a necessity if you have a car and if you don’t want to pay to have them collected, you’ll probably be left with some over time. Instead of just letting them pile up, why not find a creative way to give them new life? Check out some of these fun ideas:
    Teeter totter, tree swing, climbers, etc.
    Ottomans (outdoor)
    Flower planter
    Outdoor stairs / edging for garden
  2. Old clothes and/or towels (that aren’t donatable). If your clothes are too old to donate, but you don’t want to throw them away – these solutions may be good for you!
    • Cut them up into rags for cleaning/ various projects
    • Make them into blankets
    Make reusable bags out them
  3. Scrap wood. Reusing wood is a great idea, especially for outside projects. Depending on age and if the wood is treated or not can dictate what project you reuse it for. Typically, most woods are fine to be reused outside for a project.
    • Outdoor bench / table
    • Planter box for flowers
  4. Mirrors. These are a great way to add perceived space or light. Whether broken (wear gloves and take care using) or whole mirrors can add personality to any space.
    • Use various sizes and tie them or hook them along your fence or outdoor space for added flair
    • Make a mosaic (concreate steppers, on flower pots)
    More great ideas
  5. Hardback books. Old books or ones you’re not interested in reading or donating can be a perfect project! They require a little more creativity, but you can find a good use for them!
    • Paint the pages and reuse it as a journal
    • Use pages as a garland
    Tons of more projects here!

We hope that this post helps you think through how to creatively reuse some stubborn items. However, more than that, we hope this helps you get into the mindset of thinking through what you purchase and how you can use it long term when the original function is no longer applicable. Thinking this way helps us all to be resourceful consumers.

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Make Your Kitchen Sustainable

Small office space within mobile home

Creating an Office Space in Your Mobile Home

Whether or not you work from home, a home office is a space that can come in handy. It can be used for handling important items like your finances or a designated space for your kids to do their homework.

What do you do if you don’t have a specific office space in your mobile home though? Here are some ways that you can convert a nook in your home to your very own home office!

What should you look for when designating a space? First, decide how much space you will be needing. Overall, you won’t need much to make a makeshift office.

Here are some suggestions to help you consider your needs:

  • Do you need a place to write?
  • Do you have just a computer with one monitor, or two?
  • Will you need space for a printer or a place for a phone?
  • Will you need all the above?

Pinpointing your needs will help you create the ideal nook and utilize the space in the best way for you!

Young boy working on schoolwork at a desk nook in a mobile home.

Once you have decided on what all you will need for your office, look around your home for spaces that you can utilize.

Some examples are:

  • A closet – You can take the doors off or leave them on, then close them to hide your office! You can slide a desk in or even make a built-in space and add a chair. To get power here, run an extension cord.
  • A spare nook in your kitchen – Do you have a coffee bar that you can move and utilize that space?
  • An unused corner – You can create a corner desk or standard one to create your space.
  • Are you a family that rarely uses the kitchen table to eat? Take advantage of the large space and set up your home office there!
  • Do you have any other unused space areas that could be better utilized? You can use that space to set up shop there.

If you don’t have a desk already, you can get crafty to create the space you need! You could:

  • Use a spare table you or a friend may have
  • Dive in at a thrift store to find the perfect desk or table
  • Search yard sales
  • Build one
  • Convert an old bookshelf

Once you have the basics set up, find yourself a comfortable chair. This could be one you have around your home or can search for one the same way you found your desk space.

Finally, personalize! Take your small space and decorate. Add plants, pictures, mirrors, and a lamp to name a few suggestions to make the space cozy and your own little office away from work.

Get Small Space Inspiration!


Maintaining Your Water Heater

Your water heater is a modern-day convenience. We don’t always think about it like that or having to live without them until something goes wrong. Many of us have experienced when a water heater has died – and it’s not fun. Cold showers or water leaks are not welcomed surprises.

Water heaters last an average of 10 years and like any appliance, they require a little maintenance to keep working efficiently. To get the most out of your water heater it’s a good idea to do some check-ins.  Once a year, schedule time to either hire someone to complete maintenance or make plans to do it yourself. Also, be sure to consult the owner’s manual that came with the water heater so that you can follow the manufacturer’s recommended steps and to safely perform the maintenance.  In addition, hire a licensed plumber or pipe fitter to aide in any maintenance if you are unsure how to safely accomplish these tasks.

A visual inspection is something you can do yourself. This helps to identify any issues on the exterior such as loose screws, nuts, bolts, and gaskets. The goal with the visual inspection is to see what is worn and may need replacing and check for signs of rust or corrosion.

General Maintenance Tips to Consider:

  • Have the tank drained once or twice a year. During this process, flush the tank a couple of times to make sure all the sediment and debris is cleared out of the tank.
  • Besides just cleaning the water, the anode rod should be checked once a year. The purpose of this rod is to attract all the debris and sediment. This rod typically needs replacing every three to five years.

Photo of Water heater in utility closet

  • If your water heater has a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve), add checking the T&P valve to your list to make sure it is in proper working order. This is important to check as pressure can build up in the tank.  As mentioned above, be sure to consult the owner’s manual in order to safely perform this task. Not all water heaters have a T&P valve.

If your water heater is gas, it will have this valve. Some electric water heaters also have this.

  • If you have a tankless water heater, make sure to descale your water heater to rid the sediment and debris. Make sure the tankless heater is set appropriately and not too high. Doing this will decrease the buildup.

Signs your water heater may need maintenance:

  • leaks
  • low water pressure
  • hear clicking or if your water is rusty

Keeping a mindful eye on your water heater at least once a year will clue you into when it is nearing the end of its life span and help to keep it working efficiently. Doing this should help prevent any of those unwanted surprises.


Keep Maintaining Your Home!


woman cleaning in her spring kitchen

Say Hello to Spring with these Seasonal Maintenance Ideas

Winter is hard on your mobile home, but spring is here! With that in mind let’s explore how you can prepare your home for the season change. This is a time for cleaning. So find your overalls, pull your hair back, and gather your tools – it’s time to freshen up your home from the inside out!

If you’ve got a nicely landscaped yard, you’ll definitely need to get busy. Plants and grasses need prep work in March. Even though weather is pretty unruly during this time – one thing is for sure: warmer air is coming. Check out some of the options below to get you started.

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

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Make your home shine by trying some spring maintenance!

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Tips for Hanging Curtains in Your Manufactured Home

Manufactured homes often have smaller or nonconventional sized windows, thin window frames, or vinyl on gypsum walls that will require unique options for curtains. With a variety of different home types, this often requires you to be creative about how to hang curtains. We’ll look at some ways that will make it easy to enjoy curtains in your home.

  1. Easy ways to hang curtains –
  • Tension rods – These are probably the easiest, most affordable option. Tension rods fit to the frame using an internal suspension system. You will have to measure the maximum stretch of the rod to your window frame to ensure that it will reach. It’s best to pick one that is somewhat larger than it needs to be so that the fit is snug.
  • Magnetic rods / magnetic curtains – If your window frames are metal you may want to think of a magnetic option. You can find rods that connect magnetically, or you can even look for magnetic curtains that need no rod and connect at the top and bottom or all the way around your window frame.
  • Adhesive strips – These can be a quick option for lightweight curtains. These can add up in cost, so you’ll want to pick a curtain type that only has a few loops, or you also can lace a string or ribbon through the loops and just hook the ends.
  • Wall anchors – Thin wall anchors are helpful when you’re trying to hang something heavy in a mobile home. If you’re wanting to use a traditional rod – this is a good option to ensure it doesn’t damage your wall and stays put. Learn more about how to use thin wall anchors here.

2. Tips for how to hang curtains –

  • To make your windows seem larger and the room feel bigger, try purchasing curtains longer than your window. This is common advice found in home magazines. Often using curtains that hang to the ground looks best regardless of window size, but it’s up to you.
Curtains hung in a mobile home.
See how much light and space this trick adds!
  • If you’re using a regular rod, try hanging your curtains higher than the window. This will also make the windows feel bigger and will balance out the space around your window by framing it higher.
  • For magnetic or tension rods, try tying the curtain up in the middle or to the side for an added touch of style.

3. Tips for types of curtains to use-

  • Try using curtains that are light weight and opaque to keep your home well lit. With lightweight curtains, you will not have to worry if the fabric is too heavy for the rod or the hanging option you choose.  These add a classy touch to your home by allowing the light to stream in.
  • If you need curtains to block the light, try to find lightweight ones and ensure their weight will not bring down the hanging device you have chosen.

We hope that this has you inspired to hang or try something new with your curtains in your home.


More Homeowner Tips!

Man closing window.

7 Affordable Remedies for Drafts in Your Mobile Home

Making your home well insulated is an important way to keep your home energy efficient. We pay for heat and air, but how much do we pay for air that escapes or seeps in? If your home is drafty, older, or just needs some reinforcement this is the article for you. Check out these simple ways to reduce drafts!

  • Draft snake – These are great for sealing doorways where the door is too short or doesn’t quite line up correctly. There are various types of draft snakes that slide on the bottom of the door to buffer both sides or ones that you can place directly in front of the door. 
  • Window plastic film – If you have old windows or just windows that let air in you may find placing a plastic film is a good, cost efficient solution – especially in winter. Most of them apply easily with a tape or have you use a hair dryer to bond the edges to your window frame.
  • Weather stripping – Updating your weather stripping is a great way to seal out cold/ hot air. Check around those doors and windows for easy places to put new weather stripping or to place some where there needs to be.
  • Chimney balloon – Fireplaces are great for logs but are notorious for letting in air. Sealing it with an inflatable chimney balloon will keep critters out and keep that air from filling your home.
  • Landscaping around your home – Oddly enough having a flower bed or landscaping around your home isn’t just pretty – it helps keep your home warm. Try placing some large bushes around your home to keep your home snuggled up for the cold season and keep cool air in during the warm months. 
Caulk gaps around your window.
  • Caulking – This one is a timeless classic. Caulk is usually best used around windows and will keep drafts out as well as being super easy and inexpensive to apply. It’s also perfect for small cracks.
  • Spray foam – A lot of times the issue with drafts in a home can be linked to poor insulation. However, that can add up or be a bigger project than you might be willing to take on. If so, spray foam insulation can be a good option. It’s easy to do and you only need one person to get the job done.

We hope that this can be a quick reference to hopefully help you find ways to improve energy efficiency in your home as well as stay warm or cool give the respective season.

Winter Maintenance Checklist

It’s time to prep your mobile home for winter. There are plenty of easy and efficient ways to protect your home from the elements and clean out seasonal build-up. So print out this checklist and get started! If your home could talk – it would thank you for following this guide!

  • Change air filters: Easy to do and it maintains indoor air quality and ensures your AC/Heat flows efficiently
  • Remove window units or winterize them
  • Check for leaks: Do your windows need to be caulked? Have a dripping sink? Remedy these areas to save on your utility bills.
  • Clean + prepare chimney/ fireplace: Consider hiring a chimney sweep. Clean up your fireplace if it can be used or stuff the chimney appropriately. Be sure to ask for professional help if you’re unsure how to clean or use your fireplace.
  • Clean out gutters
  • Put garden hoses up: drain the hose and disconnect it so the water doesn’t freeze and ruin your hose.
  • Seal interior/ exterior gaps: Be sure your home is well insulated.
  • Collect firewood: If you have a wood stove or want to have bonfires now is the time to start collecting.
  • Check your roof: Weathering over time has probably left your roof with some wear and tear. Be sure it’s fixed before winter when snow and freezing temperatures can damage your roof.

Get Maintenance Tips Now!

Here’s to being prepared and a great winter! This may also be a great time to consider checking into insulation options for your home if you notice a need for it in your mobile home!

Fall Home Maintenance: Clearing Leaves

When the leaves change color, it is one of the most loved moments of fall. Their bright colors add so much beauty to the world. With the leaves changing, it is means it is time for them to fall. While leaves can look pretty both on the ground or on the trees, leaves can cause some issues around the home.

 We suggest focusing on problem areas such as gutters, flower beds, wood surfaces, and walkways for clearing leaves.

  • Clearing leaves from your gutters will ensure they can drain properly in the upcoming season.
  • Removing leaves from flower beds will prevent animals from setting up residence close to your home. It will also allow plenty of sunlight to reach the soil so in the springtime your plants will thrive.
  • Leaves can potentially stain wooden areas such as a deck or porch. It can also cause the wood to rot. Sweep them off as often as you can!
  • Removing leaves from walkways is important as they can cause the area to be slick when it rains.
Someone removing leaves from a gutter with bright orange gloves.

Clearing leaves in your yard is not a must, but it is good for the environment. However, it does help to keep the areas around your home clean and safe if you choose to pick them up.

Removing leaves is a simple process, you can either use a rake, mulch them up with a lawnmower, or gather them in a pile with a leaf blower. Once they are collected into a pile, there are several solutions for ridding the leaves.

  • Use the leaves for your compost pile
  • Burn leaves (check your local area to make sure there is not an ordinance about burning leaves or if there is a burn ban)
  • Bag them for trash
  • See if your community has leaf pickup days

Leaf maintenance can be a year-round job, so do not stress every time a leaf blows into your yard from somewhere else. Creating a good routine will help to keep the project manageable.

For more items you need to prepare your home for, check out our fall maintenance list.