(BPT) - Thinking of sprucing up your home for spring? You're not alone; one in three homeowners say they'll take on at least one home improvement project in the first half of 2014, according to a recent survey by Burst Media. And it turns out, freshening your home for spring is a smart investment.
Home sales and prices are up, and mortgage rates are still considered low by historical standards. The combination is a recipe for a strong 2014 home remodeling forecast. Homeowners are regaining equity in their homes, and that confidence is expected to spur them to take on deferred projects for their own enjoyment, or upgrade their homes for sale.
In its annual survey, Remodeling Magazine reports that wood deck additions deliver the second highest return on investment of the home improvement projects surveyed. If you're looking for a way to make your spring spruce-up add value to your home, wood is a great option. Wood is known for its versatility, ease of use and natural beauty.
Whether you're looking to update your living space or transform your outdoor entertaining area, Mark and Theresa Clement, home improvement pros and spokespersons for Wood, Naturally, offer simple, do-it-yourself tips for incorporating wood into your spring home improvement projects:
* Prepping decks for spring entertaining
'One of the best things you can do in the spring to spruce up your house is to clean and refinish your wood deck,' Mark says. 'The natural beauty of a well-maintained deck transforms a backyard into a gathering place.'
After you've carefully cleaned the deck to remove dirt and debris, choose a finish. Both sealers and stains are designed to seal out elements. Clear sealers contain no pigment, allowing the natural beauty of the wood to show through. Stains may contain a little pigment (labeled as 'tone' or 'transparent'), be semi-transparent or come in solid colors. Avoid paint, which can form a film on top of the wood and bubble or flake.
Can't decide between a semitransparent stain and a water-repellant sealer? Try using the sealer first. If you change your mind later, it's easy to switch to a semitransparent stain when the deck needs to be refinished. If you do opt for a sealer, use one that contains ultraviolet light-blockers to protect against sun damage and mildewcides to inhibit the growth of mildew.
* Add crown molding to a room
Crown molding imparts an upscale, elegant air to any room - and you only need basic DIY tools to install it.
'Crown molding bridges the junction of walls and ceilings - a prominent visual location where an architectural accent can really shine,' says Theresa. 'While crown molding is a high-impact, higher-difficulty project, it's well within the abilities of most DIYers. Plus, you probably already have the tools you need in your toolbox - with a miter saw, nails and a hammer, you can transform your favorite room with a custom finish.'
When choosing your molding, remember to keep a consistent scale from floor to ceiling. You may be tempted to install a wide, impressive crown molding and skimp on the base or casings, but molding sizes need to be balanced throughout the room. Wherever possible, use corner pieces, plinth blocks and other transition pieces - they make installation simpler, minimize the need for miter cuts and help joints stay closed despite seasonal changes in humidity. Finally, don't paint your crown molding and trim. Instead, opt for a clear sealer and allow the natural texture of the wood to shine through, adding warmth, personalization and a natural touch to your interior decor.
* Install wainscoting
Wainscoting has long been a hallmark of fine construction and design. Wood paneling is applied to a lower section of wall - typically in dining rooms, but also in kitchens, hallways and even bedrooms. If you crave old-world elegance in your modern home, wainscoting is an easy, cost-effective way to achieve that look. Depending on the style you select and how you choose to finish your wainscoting, you can create whimsy or elegance, rustic appeal or modern sophistication.
If you choose to panel with wainscoting, it's important to ensure pieces are level. If yours will have a top cap, a router - a power tool used to bevel or round an edge on a square piece of wood - can provide nice detail at the top of panels. Finally, while wainscoting is frequently painted, there's no rule that says you must paint yours. Consider a simple clear sealer or semitransparent stain that will allow the natural beauty and character of the wood to shine through.
To learn more about building and designing with wood, visit www.woodnaturally.com.
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