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HOM Paint six sides

It's time to get out your painting tools and deal with the exterior doors on your home. Here's a trick that will save you a headache this coming winter. When painting an exterior door, you must be certain to seal all six of its sides. Exterior doors have a tendency to warp and twist when the weather turns damp. That warping is a sign that the door hasn't been properly sealed on all six sides -- outside, inside, hinge side, handle side, top and bottom. If you want to head off having to repair your doors next winter, be sure to seal all six sides when you paint them this summer.

Container planting

If you are new to container planting, here are some tips to make your venture successful.

One-gallon containers are the smallest practical size for outdoors. In small containers plants dry out fast and the container must be large enough for plant roots to withstand summer heat.

Remember: A one-cubic-foot container filled with wet planting soil can weigh 50 pounds. A 50-gallon container for a dwarf tree will weigh more than you can lug around, hundreds of pounds.

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Put wheels on platforms for your containers so you can roll them around, in and out of the sun, shade, etc.

Water regularly. Hanging moss baskets and unglazed terra cotta lose moisture faster than other kinds of containers.

Always put holes in the bottom of a container to allow excess water to run out. Put a bed of pot shards or gravel in the bottom of the container to keep the soil for running out with it.

Awnings save energy

Awnings keep the sun and rain off a patio, but they are also energy efficient. Experts suggest that an awning can cool your house by 15 degrees.

A study by the University of Illinois showed that new acrylic awnings can cut air-conditioning costs as much as 25 percent.

Because 50 percent of heat is gained and lost through windows, awnings are especially efficient on windows facing east and west, where most direct sunlight enters.

Woven acrylic fabrics also can block up to 98 percent of harmful ultraviolet rays, depending on the color of fabric.

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In addition, window awnings can block direct sunlight to keep carpet, upholstery and draperies from fading and extend the life of windows and siding.

Non-wood lumber

If you are planning an outdoor project, say a deck, check out non-traditional materials. If you would prefer to stay away from CCA-treated wood, you have the option now of wood treated against insect and rot damage without the use of arsenic. It's more expensive. For non-structural components, check out the manufactured "wood" products such as Trex and its half-dozen relatives. The resin and wood materials are maintenance-free and most act like real wood. They can be stained -- or not -- and don't require annual sealing.

Compared with the price of cedar decking, due to competition you may find the manufactured wood is a money-saver. What's more -- surprise, surprise -- the lumber is straight with no annoying wane or knots.

The lowdown on fans

There's more to moving air than meets the eye.

You won't believe how much information you can find on this Web site. Although it is mainly devoted to ceiling fans -- including fans from manufacturers you've never heard of before -- the site's designers have included information on obtaining obscure types of industrial fans capable of cooling a medium-sized city. If you're looking for something really unusual -- say, a palm blade fan, or one operated by belts and pulleys -- this location will help you find it.

Although the Web site is mainly aimed at homeowners who want to buy fans, it also includes consumer-related material on topics like comparing brands and models from various manufacturers, installation, speed controls and balancing techniques.

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You'll also find suggestions on obtaining parts.

The site: All About Fans

The address: http://www.faninfo.com/

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