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Video: Bring your home back to life

updated 9/16/2009 10:47:21 AM ET 2009-09-16T14:47:21

If spending money on a full-blown renovation is not in your budget but you’d like to freshen a few things up around your home, here are some ideas for what you can do yourself to brighten things up for a fraction of the cost. These steps are easy and they will have dramatic results. Even better, they should take less than a couple of hours to complete.

Put some luster and shine back onto your hardwood floors: I am a big fan of natural wood floors; they are one of the only renewable surfaces you can install in your home as far as flooring goes. And they add real value to the bottom line as well. But the finish can get dull, and having them re-sanded is an inconvenience and can cost about $2 to $3 a square foot to complete.

While that’s a fraction of the cost of installing a new floor, I have a method that will cost you about $75 all in, and the finish will look brand new. First, remove all the furniture from the room you want to refinish, and then clean the floor very well with Bona Hardwood Floor cleaner and Bona’s Micro Fiber mop. This pH-balanced cleaner is what you should be using to clean your floors regularly. Then apply Bona’s floor polish. It’s actually a urethane that will fill in the small scratches. You apply it with a synthetic mop head to coat the floor. This is a water-borne finish, so the fumes are very low. Within a couple of hours the floor will be dry and will look new and shiny. You can learn more at MyBonaHome.com.

Clean your kitchen cabinets to make them look as though they have been refinished: Wood-finished cabinets can start to look tired with constant use, and while I am all for a total kitchen remodeling project, here is a tip on how to bring the look back. Spray the surface with a cleaner called Krud Kutter. This degreasing cleaner works wonderfully on breaking down the sticky residue that can be on the face of your cabinets. 

Use #0000 steel wool to work the cleaner in and lift all the dirt away. Then wipe down the surface of the cabinets with a damp cotton cloth. Then use a new piece of #0000 steel wool (the more zeroes, the finer the wool) and a finish revitalizer called Howard Restor-A-Finish, which should be available at your local hardware store. Apply this to the wood with a soaked-but-wrung-out piece of the steel wool, using medium pressure with the grain. This is sort of like a chemical face peel for the wood. It will brighten up the finish and level it all out. Your cabinets will look almost brand new.

Cleaning and sealing your stone countertops: There is nothing as beautiful as natural stone countertops, in my opinion. Whether in the kitchen, bathroom or other areas of your home, taking care of them will preserve their look and your investment. It’s important to clean them with a pH-balanced stone cleaner on a regular basis, but it’s even more important to seal the tops every 12 to 18 months depending on the use they receive. Remember, stone is hard but also porous, and the sealer helps to keep potential stains from sinking in. 

Stone Care International makes cleaners and sealers you can apply yourself. To apply the sealer, you first need to clean the top well and caulk any areas of separation with a clear acrylic caulking. Once dry, apply the sealer by spraying the surface until it is wet. In a few minutes you will see the edges of the counter start to dry. Once that occurs, re-spray the top and let dry for several hours. Then your stone is sealed and if a child spills grape juice or you miss with the salad dressing, you do not have to worry about ruining your stone countertop. 

These three projects are as easy as described here and will save you money by not having to hire a professional to do the work. If you have more questions, please visit me at HouseSmartsTV.com.

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