Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kaile's Korner "Check your deck for summer"

Summertime means a dramatic increase in the use of your deck. It is important to insure that your deck, stairs and any surrounding rail systems are secure and safe. Here are some inspection tips for you to consider.

Stairs: Check to make sure stair treads are level. The winter’s frost often times will lift outdoor stairs. Once the ground has lifted the stairs, it will require you to re-grade the base of your steps so that they sit level again. You also want to check where the framing of your stairs attaches to the deck. The movement can loosen up the connection between stairs and deck framing. Also check your stairs handrail for sturdiness and smoothness. Often times while shoveling snow, your stairs railings and the ones around your deck get dinged up by coming in contact with the shovel. It is important to maintain smooth railings for a number of reasons. The primary reason is you do not want to get a splinter in your hand while walking down stairs, as it could distract you and cause a fall.

Deck: Check your deck to see if frost has lifted it. If it has the proper base, frost should not be an issue. However, many people will “float” their decks by using a modest cement footing or blocking under the decks vertical framing. You will also want to check your deck’s connection to your home. Look for excessive moisture, any signs of deck pulling away from your building. Up on the sunny side, make sure your deck is properly treated for protection from the elements, spilled food and or beverages.

Rails: As stated, check for smoothness. You will also want to insure the post, rails and balusters (called slats by some) are secure and do not have cracks in them. If a toddler grabs onto a baluster and it breaks, chances are they could fall through the railing - so please observe.

Decks are gathering places that create lifetime memories. Keep your deck sound, safe and spectacular and have a great summer of fun on it!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kaile's Korner "Buyer beware..."

Typically this column works to help you hone up on and/or develop your home improvement skills. This week, however, I want to share with you an interesting discovery I made relative to purchasing paint. Before I share my discovery, let me say that this column is not going to be about catching someone losing. It is all about making you a more informed consumer of home improvement products.

Conventional wisdom tells us that when we purchase paint in 5-gallon containers, we usually see a price break versus purchasing the same identical paint in 1-gallon containers. Well, I recently discovered that a well-known retailer is charging more per gallon for the same paint when you buy 5 gallons, as opposed to 1 gallon, containers.  That’s right! I was not charged a lower, or even the same, per gallon price for buying in volume. I was charged more. While this pricing defies conventional retail logic, it also underscores the point I want to make to you. Regardless of whether you are purchasing home improvement products from a local mom-pop owned retailer, or from a well-known national retailer, always check the pricing on what you are buying. My discovery is proof that you can never take pricing for granted.

When I reported this unusual pricing to management, I was told that I was the first person to raise this issue. Since that time, I have made six calls over an 8-day period to find out the reasoning behind it. As of the time of this writing, I am still waiting for an explanation. I plan to report my findings to you in a later column. 

As a purchaser of home improvement products, you have purchasing discretion. Exercising that discretion is important, because as important as it is to purchase the correct home improvement products, it is just as important to make said purchases at the appropriate price points. 
I hope that you remember this article every time you buy home improvement products. Retailers - large and small - set the pricing they want. What is important to me is that you pay a fair price.