Responsible ridership and safety are the first steps toward personal watercraft fun


One of the easiest and most fun ways to enjoy everything the water has to offer is on a personal watercraft (PWC). Personal watercrafts have taken great strides toward modernization; the PWCs of today are quiet, run on clean four-stroke technology engines, include significant safety features, are more stable, and are designed to accommodate up to three passengers.

Because advances in technology have made personal watercraft options from brands like Sea-Doo, Jet Ski, Kawasaki and WaveRunner more accessible and easier to use, more people are enjoying them each year. PWCs are also incredibly versatile and are becoming popular for towing wake boarders, tubers, and water skiers, exploring waterways and fishing. They can even be used as transportation to and from overnight camp sites.

To fully enjoy a PWC, riders must be responsible, safe and educated about operating one. Before you insert the key into the ignition, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

* Are you of legal age in your state to operate a PWC?

* Do you know your craft and the specific ways it operates compared to other PWCs?

* Have you read all instructional materials and labels from the manufacturer?

* Do you know the “rules of the road” on the water?

* Are you wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and neoprene shorts?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to head back to the dock.

Responsible riding isn’t just about personal safety. It also includes being considerate of those around you. Be mindful of other vessels in your vicinity and how your rate of speed or wake affects them. And don’t forget about marine life: Respect ecologically sensitive areas.

The Personal Watercraft Industry Association offers important safety tips, rider rules, local laws and PWC etiquette for riders of every skill level. Information on instructional courses and downloadable safety materials, including a brief handbook titled Riding Rules for Personal Watercraft and PWC Orientation Checklist can be found at www.pwia.org. Additional information can also be found through the United States Coast Guard. Getting educated about riding a PWC responsibly will ensure you’re equipped to handle the vessel and can enjoy a fun-filled day on the water.

Before you get your feet wet, remember to ride responsibly. Visit www.pwia.org to learn more about riding responsibly, or visit us on twitter @PWIA_News.

Courtesy of BPT

New siding improves a home’s curb appeal

Nowadays, many are choosing to live in their homes longer.  As a result, a growing number of homeowners are investing in home improvements they can enjoy themselves.  

One of the best home improvements homeowners can make is replacing  tired, old, faded siding.  According to the National Association of Realtors, replacing your siding offers an 80 percent payback or return on your investment.

One reason that new siding is such a solid home improvement investment is it instantly enhances the curb appeal of your home. There’s nothing quite like the warm feeling of driving up to your home every day and admiring its beauty.  

Siding also is a critical link to the well-being of your home. Siding is the first layer of defense against the elements, protecting the walls and interior of your home from moisture, heat and cold.

From wood clapboard and brick used widely to side homes decades ago to today’s innovative materials, such as patented Ultrex pultruded fiberglass used in APEX siding and trim, siding materials have evolved to deliver higher performance, more cost efficiency and enhanced aesthetics.  With so many choices available to homeowners today, it’s important for homeowners to do their homework when shopping for home siding.  Here are seven tips to consider when shopping for home siding:

1. Do your homework. Not all siding options are created equal. There’s a huge difference between lower cost vinyl siding products and high-performance fiberglass siding. Lower priced options often come with tradeoffs, such as a higher risk of damage in a severe storm from hail or wind, faster color fading, or lots of maintenance (repainting, caulking, etc.). Premium siding products may cost more initially, but may be far less expensive and hassle-free over the course of homeownership.

2. Have a plan. Now is the time to coordinate other exterior elements with your new siding and trim to give your home a more contemporary, updated look and feel. Consider new energy-saving windows, such as Integrity windows, a new garage door, new roof shingles and enhance your landscaping through the use of pavers, wall systems and perennial plants and shrubs.

3. Get referrals. Ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends for referrals of remodelers who specialize in replacing siding.  Interview several remodelers and always get detailed estimates before committing to any remodeler.

4. Visit homes. Replacing siding isn’t like replacing an appliance. You may only do this once or twice in your lifetime. To make sure you get exactly what you want, make sure to visit homes that have recently been resided by your contractor or remodeler. This will help you compare how different types of house siding actually look on a home.

5. Take your siding green. When replacing your siding, use siding material that is made from sustainable materials, such as sand, which will reduce the use of harmful chemicals and paints needed to manufacture and maintain it.

6. Select your colors. Choosing a color for your new siding may be the most difficult decision you’ll have to make. The good news is that today’s top-of-the-line siding offers a wide variety of bold colors from which to select. In contrast to traditional wood and fiber cement siding that requires painting and caulking every few years, new pultruded fiberglass siding offers an acrylic finish that is thicker and more durable than paint, and it resists chipping and fading. This allows homeowners to enjoy the satisfaction of their new siding with virtually zero maintenance.

7. Better moisture management. The number one thing you should expect of your new siding is it should protect your home from the elements, especially moisture. Unfortunately, some types of siding, such as fiber cement, wood and stucco, are more prone to moisture because they trap or absorb moisture behind the siding material. Instead, look to a siding that is inherently resistant to water.  Then, look to how that siding will manage moisture – behind the siding, when it’s up against the wall of your home. A siding system that provides a continuous, natural drainage plane (moisture drains harmlessly away), and allows air to circulate to provide natural evaporation is critical to decreasing trapped moisture, which creates rot and mold.

Courtesy of BPT

Soul-lifting home improvements that are good for your wallet, too.


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No matter how value conscious a homeowner may be, few people ever make a home improvement simply to increase their house’s resale value. People also undertake home improvements to enhance their enjoyment of their home – or to fix a problem, which, in its own way, is good for the soul, too.

When it comes to deciding how to spend your renovation dollars, some home improvements can boost both your spirits and your home value. Here are some soul-lifting home improvements that also add value to your home:

Install a skylight

The health benefits of natural light are well known. Not only does sunlight stimulate the body’s production of Vitamin D, it also boosts brain levels of serotonin. Lower serotonin levels have been associated with depression, decreased physical energy, increased appetite and elevated desire for sleep. A lack of sunlight has long been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder – something your dear old grandmother might have simply called “the winter blues.”

And there’s another consideration with today’s tightly built and heavily insulated homes – indoor air quality. According to the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (www.greenguard.org), most of our exposure to environmental pollution occurs by breathing the air indoors.

Adding a traditional or tubular skylight – to virtually any room in the house – brings more mood-boosting natural light into your home. It’s also a smart money decision. Energy-saving, solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux America,-can be opened-to bring much-needed outside air into your home, providing passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air, and reduce heating, cooling and lighting costs. Energy Star-qualified solar powered fresh-air skylights and accessories like solar-powered blinds, plus the installation, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit – now that’s good for the soul.

You can learn more about energy-efficient skylights and calculate your tax credit for a new or replacement model at www.veluxusa.com. For more on skylights and other home energy saving tips visit energystar.gov.


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Add a sunroom

While you’re thinking about the benefits of more natural light in your home, consider adding a sunroom. One of these light-filled retreats returns more than 46 percent of the initial cost when it’s time to sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. In a  survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 52 percent of builders rated sunrooms as “desirable” or “essential” – ranking them higher than other specialty rooms like workout rooms, dens or even media rooms.

Sunrooms can be a great way to make your small home feel much larger, without the expense of a bigger, costlier addition. They also speak to our natural affinity for the outdoors, allowing you to enjoy nature year-round, even when it’s too cold to be outside.

Upgrade your bathroom

The trend of bathrooms as a restive oasis doesn’t show any signs of disappearing. If you doubt the popularity of luxury bathroom fittings, just visit the showerhead aisle in any home improvement store. Options include everything from rainfall shower heads to multi-jet contraptions that promise a spa-like experience in your own shower stall. Add in jetted tubs, towel warmers and amenities like under-floor heating, and it’s easy to understand why real estate pros continue to cite a great bathroom as a must-have for many buyers.

Even if you don’t have the space or budget for a major bathroom renovation – which Remodeling Magazine says returns more than 65 percent of its value on resale – even making modest improvements can boost your mood. Replacing old fixtures with newer more luxurious models, such as a touch-free faucet or multiple shower heads, can be an easy, cost-effective way to enhance your enjoyment of your bathroom.

The National Association of Realtors predicts the housing market will continue to improve this year. Yet even those who are not thinking of selling any time soon are aware of the value of certain types of improvements. A  survey by real estate professionals indicates that people are becoming more attuned to the emotional component of home ownership, rather than just viewing their houses as investments.

“ … We’re seeing a psychological shift,” Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist who partnered with the surveyors, said in an announcement of the survey findings. “Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we’re realizing that a home doesn’t solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are.”

Courtesy of BPT

Increase garage sale profits with some marketing basics


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As the weather warms up, garage sales begin appearing all over the U.S. Garage sales are a great way to clean out clutter while making some extra dollars for home improvements, bills, vacations or even “retail therapy.”

Marcela Iannini, department chair of Advertising and Design & Media Management at Miami International University of Art & Design, says, “Garage sales are great opportunity to employ basic marketing principles in a fun way; a little innovation and creativity go a long way to maximize sales." 

"It’s important to start with the basics of marketing – the four P’s – price, product, promotion and place. In garage sales it works best to think of the product as the garage sale itself and the items to be sold as product lines or brands of that product,” adds Cheryl Pilchik, Advertising faculty at The Art Institute of Philadelphia.

Dr. Larry Stultz, department chair of Advertising and Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, agrees. “It is imperative to use the same thinking retailers use to maximize the visibility and sales opportunities for a garage sale." 

 
Below are some helpful suggestions from Iannini, Pilchik and Stultz on making the best of your garage sale:

 
* Product and price: Product mix is important in retailing. You can either focus on one type of product (kids’ toys or garden tools, for instance) or a broad mix of products. Study sales in your neighborhood to see what works best. Check out the prices, too. You should consider not only the original cost, but also what others charge at sales like yours. Rather than use a lot of time individually pricing each item, consider grouping like items together on large tables, posting the same price for all items on that table – like retailers do. 

 
* Place (scheduling/location): Think about a high-traffic area – retailers pay a premium for high-traffic locations. Perhaps you can team up with several neighbors and choose the house that has the most street visibility. Knowing your target market is paramount in timing your sale. Consider scheduling with other activities in your neighborhood – art shows or community events will help draw additional traffic.  

 
* Promotion (advertising/marketing): A successful garage sale requires careful planning and promotion using proven advertising strategies to make your sale stand out. One successful strategy is choosing a theme related to the items to be sold and carrying out the theme in all aspects of the sale. For example, if most of the items to be sold are from the 1980s, you’d play 80s music, have everyone working at the sale dress in 80s style and use 80s elements in your flyers. 

 
Whatever your theme, consider the following to promote your sale: 
1. Neighborhood signs and flyers, placed on local business, PTA and school/church bulletin boards – and where permitted, on street corners or in yards.
2. Local newspaper listings and online listings like craigslist.org.
3. A social networking fan page with an event for the garage sale inviting friends and family.  
4. Your own Facebook and Twitter pages to inform your "friends” and “followers” about your event.
5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest on the day of the sale to distribute special offers, share photos of items for sale or offer incentives for referring fans or customers.

 
Give your garage sale a facelift to keep it fresh and appealing. Borrowing effective strategies and tactics used in the merchandising and advertising industries to engage the customer and communicate with them on their terms will help to ensure your success. 

 
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.

Courtesy of BPT

Easy ways to renovate your kitchen


Do you think your kitchen is a mess? Are you frustrated over the fact that your toaster is not working because your coffee maker is on? This is the result of a poor electric connection that is plaguing your kitchen. Your gas might not be working with faulty supply and you are down to your last stove top. Your countertops are stained and your cabinets are broken. You have to address all the leaking taps as well. In short you are frustrated with the condition that your kitchen is in. You need a complete renovation of your kitchen, and you are not the only one.

You may have your reservations about renovating your kitchen. After all, there’s all the noise, dust and lack of mobility while your kitchen is getting renovated. Also, there is the cost factor to consider. However, with a little planning in mind you can take care of all these things in a manner that works for you. You can make use of all the resources available in the market to make sure that you have what it takes to renovate your kitchen and live through the process. It is actually a very simple process if you think about it. All the information that you have and all the products that you need are available. All you need to do is make the right choices and you are set to renovate your kitchen. Of course, your kitchen will be unavailable for use for the next few days. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have made arrangements so your daily routine is not affected. This is most important as the kitchen forms an important part of your household. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have arrangements ready as a substitute for not using your kitchen.

There are many things to consider while renovating your kitchen. You need to seek out what you require from your kitchen first. If your gas is not working, then you need to change your stoves. If you are not getting proper electric connection, then you need to change your lines. If your piping is not working, then you need to get a proper plumber. These are the essentials of a functional kitchen. Check them one by one and make sure to have a list of things to repair.

The next important factor to consider is that the renovations being done  should enhance the look of your kitchen. This would mean cosmetic modifications to your kitchen, which would come in form of countertops and cabinets. Marble countertops will give your kitchen a grand luxurious look that would enhance the quality of your kitchen. You can purchase such countertops from home or kitchen renovators. You should look for one stop shops for all your kitchen renovation needs. This will help you to get all the assistance you will need for your kitchen renovation.

by: Easy Ways to Renovating Your Kitchen

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7266.shtml

Check out these innovative solutions for your home!

Technologies that improve and protect your home become more advanced each year. Many common problem areas could benefit from the latest unique home solutions! Here are some tips:

New eck kits enhance outdoor spaces

With the emergence of new deck materials such as solid PVC, homeowners no longer have to waste excessive time or money on deck maintenance. The vast array of rich colors and surface textures, along with stain and scratch resistant materials have made these items a smart choice over wood. Now, there are kits that accessorize these deck options.

If you’ve ever made a mad dash to retrieve cushions or other items when it rains, then in-deck storage may be in order. This clever idea provides 17.5 cubic feet of safe, dry storage space that uses the area below the deck. “You don’t have to sacrifice living space or ruin your view with unsightly plastic tubs,” says Mike Gori, maker of AZEK Deck.The storage unit’s lid sits flush with the deck surface and holds up to 500 pounds. “There are also kits for building benches with planter boxes and custom gates,” he says. “It’s never been easier to accessorize a new or existing deck.”

The caulk cure for energy costs ~ 

One of your home’s biggest money drains can be energy waste – whether it’s warm and cool air leaking out or outside temperatures sneaking in. One caulk problem happens when homeowners paint caulk too early, which can cause cracks to form, letting in air and moisture. It is essential to focus on the timing of caulk application as well as applying quality caulk to avoid unwanted air leakage. 

“What we came up with is an advanced sealant called ColorCure that actually tells you when the caulk can be painted – it turns from pink to white,” says Jason Ringling, director of marketing at Red Devil, Inc. “If you test caulk by touching the wet bead, the finish is ruined.” Another good practice is to use new caulk and sealant products that are better for the environment as well as high performance. “It’s not only environmentally friendly, but solvent-free and low VOC – and with no plasticizers it won’t leach or pick up dirt which is perfect for painted finishes,” Ringling says.

Have a great room outdoors ~ 

Shade pergolas can provide the convenience of a great room in the great outdoors for entertaining al fresco. With dignified beauty, pergolas have many style options that create a picture-perfect gathering spot near the garden or pool.

“These versatile, stylish outdoor rooms provide semi-privacy and are ideal for entertaining or relaxing with your family,” says Sue Donahue, marketing manager for Walpole Woodworkers, a leader in premium outdoor structures.

Another advantage to today’s pergola designs is the addition of protective fabric canopies that let the party go on, rain or shine. “Canopies, either operated manually or by remote control, keep furniture and outdoor decor protected at the first sign of inclement weather,” Donahue says.

Pergola styles include arched or classic straight tops, and columns are typically square, tapered, or round. A lattice screen can add more privacy and bring color to the area, with climbing plant and vines. Donahue says to look for pergolas in wood or the new wood-alternative solid PVC materials that are low maintenance and long-lasting.

Prepare for wet weather extremes ~ 

Extreme weather events can happen in a flash. Even if you’re not in an official flood zone, inches of rainfall in a matter of minutes, hurricanes and other freakish weather events can cause flooding. The experts at WAYNE Water Systems advise consumers to look for durable, reliable, worry-free water handling pumps.

“It only takes one water event to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, so prevention is the key, starting with a quality sump pump,” says vice president of sales Charles Murphy. “Additional layers of protection include battery back-up pumps in case of power outages and water-sensing alarms for early notification.

As homeowner Bill Bellaver of Troy, Mich. reports, his sump pump protected his home for 33 years before taking its last gasp. His friends and neighbors were not so lucky. "Our WAYNE pump has worked well without any issues, while friends with lower quality or no pumps have suffered damage or loss of valuables,” he says.

Homeowners can make smarter choices with today’s new home solutions. It’s a way to reduce hassle, save money, and add convenience to their current lifestyle.