Put a Fresh Face on Porch Furniture
Porch swings and other outdoor seating get grimy over time, collecting dirt and body oils that add years to their appearance. A thorough cleaning and the addition of a few colorful cushions can breathe new life into your outdoor furniture and put a fresh face on the front of your house. For the best results, use a mild cleanser or, better yet, just plain water to wash down the furniture. (Cleaners with harsh chemicals can wreak havoc on painted or sealed exterior surfaces, altering their color or dulling their shine.) To do the job quickly and painlessly, just slip on and dampen a Quickly Clean Glove from Hyde Tools, which has a special weave that offers the right amount of abrasion to rub away dirt—as well as paint splatter, sticker residue, bird poop, oil, you name it!—with little more than elbow grease ($3.97; homedepot.com ).
Spiff Up Siding
Nothing detracts from your home’s appearance like dingy siding. While washing dirty siding used to be a time-intensive chore that entailed lugging a bucket of soapy water around, scrubbing by hand, and often climbing up and down a rickety ladder, times have changed for the better. When you attach Hyde Tools’ PivotPro™ Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand to your garden hose, you can remain firmly on the ground while giving your siding a quick wash and rinse ($47.99; hydestore.com ). The PivotPro’s lightweight aluminum wand extends your reach by 46 inches, so you won’t have to stretch or stoop to get to every bit of siding. The mixing reservoir, which can be filled with commercial siding cleaner, portions out the precise amount required for the job, and the adjustable brush lets you scrub away dirt and debris. You’ll have sparkling clean siding in record time!
Rescue Iron Fixtures from Rust
Corroded metal railings really bring down the look of a front porch or entry, but even an eyesore like rust can be rapidly removed with the right tool, such as the stainless steel–bristled brush in this trio of MAXXGRIP PRO Mini Brushes ($8.02; hydestore.com ). The brush easily reaches rust in corners and tight spots. Sure, you’ll still need to use some good old-fashioned elbow grease, but the tool’s comfort handle and molded finger grips mean you won’t suffer from hand fatigue before the job is done. After removing all visible signs of rust, brush on a coat of a commercial rust converter or rust neutralizer to protect the surface—and your hard work.
Line Your Walkways with Light
Make the exterior of your home look as good in the evening as it does during the day by staking solar lights along your driveway and paths. Solar lights are available at virtually any home improvement or hardware store, and you can opt for styles that shine upward and outward or those that cast a downward glow to illuminate footpaths. A little light will make your home look much more inviting, and after-dusk guests will appreciate not having to stumble around in the dark to get to your front door. These little gems are so simple to use, you’ll want to grab a few extra to highlight your favorite landscaping features—all without running up your electric bill.
Blast Dirt from Your Driveway
When you drive on dirty or slushy roads, you can wind up with muddy tire tracks that lead straight to your garage and mess up your formerly pristine concrete driveway. While this kind of caked-on crud can be a pain to remove with an ordinary garden hose, a power washer can blast away even hardened mud deposits in minutes—particularly when outfitted with a specialized nozzle for precise application. Hyde Tools’ 40-inch Chrome-Plated Pivot Nozzle Wand, for example, which is rated up to 4000 psi, allows you to adjust the spray direction of your gas-powered washer with a simple twist ($85.57; hydestore.com ). Spray the side of the curb or the foundation of your home or garage without having to bend or squat!
Focus on Your Front Door
Even if you’ve painted your front door recently, a dilapidated storm door can detract from your painstakingly spiffed-up focal point. A wonderful, targeted way to update your home’s curb appeal is to replace an older storm door with a full-view model. Its uninterrupted pane of insect screen or tempered glass makes the storm door nearly invisible, focusing attention where it belongs—on the front door. Installation requires little more than a tape measure, cordless drill, and Phillips screw bit. Measure the width and height of the inside doorway before shopping for a new storm door to make sure you buy the right size. Most storm doors can be adjusted slightly to fit, and they come with instructions on how to align the frame to fit your doorway. In less than an hour, your entry can go from glum to gleaming!
Match Metal Accents
Fixtures that don’t match can make your entry look sloppy and slapped together, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to correct the problem. Clean up your act by spray-painting all entry fixtures—your mail slot, wall-mounted light, door hardware, and house numbers—to match. First, quickly rough up the metal with a Heavy-Duty Rubber Sanding Block ($3.87; hydestore.com ). Wrapped in coarse sandpaper, the soft, easy-to-grip block makes sanding a breeze! Once the sheen is gone from the surface of the fixtures, the spray paint should stick readily. Then it takes just two or three light coats to clean up and unify your exterior.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!