Keep the wall colors neutral to help with resale.

Eight Great Ways to Boost Your Home’s Value

Today’s unsettled real estate market has prompted homeowners on the selling end to reevaluate the appeal of their property by tweaking some of the downsides and increase their home’s value. Here is a snapshot of what professionals say are the best ways to boost the value of your house and get the most return on your money:

1. Open up the Space
New buyers are looking for open floor plans with large spaces that are family-friendly. Knocking down a non-structural wall between the kitchen and den, for example, is one of the most popular ways to appeal to new homebuyers. For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can transform the feel of your house and appeal to a wider range of buyers.

2. Spruce up the Yard
Pruning overgrown bushes and trimming trees can be the first step in eliminating obscured views of your home and increasing curb appeal. A well-landscaped yard presents the impression that you take pride and care in your home, and creates a positive mindset of what’s to come on the inside of the house. Experts say that landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the highest return on your money. An initial investment of $400-$500 in landscaping can bring a return of up to four times that amount. For more tips about sprucing up your yard, check out our blog post, titled “Money-Saving DIY Landscaping Tips”

3. Let the Sunshine In
It’s no secret that light enhances moods and creates a positive environment. Installing sun tubes (also known as light pipes, sunscoops and tubular skylights), is a modern way to welcome natural light into your home without the hefty price tag of installing skylights. For interior lighting, dimmer switches are an easy and inexpensive way that allows you to set the mood in any room.

Tubular skylights are the modern way for welcoming natural light.

4. Go Green with Solar Panels
Installing solar panels to power your water heater could save you as much as 80% on your water heating bills. Today’s homeowners are more environmentally-sensitive and budget-conscious, which makes the creation of a home with solar panels more appealing. As a major incentive to homeowners, The Solar Federal Tax Credit, first enacted in 2009, allows homeowners to claim up to 30% of solar power costs for a new solar electric system from their Federal Taxes. Existing homes and new construction qualify, although rental properties do not. The Tax Rebate is scheduled to expire December 31, 2016.

5. Front Door Appeal
Experts say buyers make up their minds within the first seven seconds of entering a house. Welcoming your guests with a beautiful front door is key to making a stellar first impression. Make sure the doorbell has a pleasant tone and is in working order and that the entrance has some form of overhang (like an awning or portico) above the front door to shield you and your guests from the elements.

A beautiful, elegant front door makes a great first impression.

6. Don’t Forget the Floors
An estimated 94% of real estate professionals suggest that investing even a small amount of money in flooring can bring big returns when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Make sure to take care of small repairs first (such as eliminating squeaks, repairing broken tiles, patching damaged floor boards and ripping out wall-to-wall carpeting).

7. Quick Bathroom Makeover
Real estate professionals unanimously agree that upgrading kitchens and baths are a sure fire way to increase the value to your home. But renovations can be expensive. To spend as little as possible (while making the best impression), quick and easy upgrades in the bathroom can have a lasting impact. Try replacing frosted glass for clear glass, cleaning grout and removing any rust stains, replacing the toilet seat, applying fresh caulk, updating doorknobs and cabinet pulls, and replacing the faucet to a modern one. For an investment of about $500, you can have a more modern, tuned-up bathroom.

A quick bathroom makeover can make a world of difference in your home.

8. Keep the Walls Neutral
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way, but remember: keep your personal taste out of it and keep the color neutral if you’re trying to sell your house. You want to create a clean palette for the buyer to see their own taste and furniture in the house without confusing it with too much color. Avoid painting accent walls and remove all wall paper borders, because these are decorating trends that have seen their time come and are long gone.


Outdoor Privacy Solutions for the Homeowner

Privacy Solutions for Outdoor Spaces

Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close

Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.

Backyard privacy solution

Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.
Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.
Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.
Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.
Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.
Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.
Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.
Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.

DIY landscaping

Money-Saving DIY Landscaping Tips

Think of landscaping as the ultimate accessory for your home. The perfect balance of trees, shrubs and flowers can enhance your street appeal and welcome your friends and family to a showcase of beauty. Most often, however, this makeover comes with a hefty price tag. Traditionally, homeowners may expect to pay anywhere from 5% to 15% of their home’s value on landscaping (which is based on a median-home value of $213,000 in the U.S.), so could run you over $10,000 at the end of the day. To avoid breaking the bank, DIY landscape experts suggest following these tips to create a garden design that looks like it was done by professionals.

DIY landscape


  • Determine a landscape or garden design idea – Choosing the same variety of fast growing and border plants creates a unified look throughout your property and reduces the appearance of clutter. Creating a unified palette allows for more creative planting of beautiful flowers and flowering plants that add splashes of color to highlight your home. Buying smaller plants in bulk can save you money when buying the same variety. Don’t worry about the size, because depending on the species, they could double in size in two years. Buying plants at the end of the season can also save you money.
  • Improve Your Soil – Investing in beautiful plants and flowers is money out the window if you’re planting them in unnourished soil. Experts agree that investing in good soil and Miracle-Gro® is the first step to creating a lush, healthy and flourishing landscape.
  • Preserve What You Have and Work Around It – Homeowners may find they have a treasure growing in the yard (which may have gone unappreciated hidden under overgrowth). Prune and cut back any trees or foliage you can work around. It will not only save you money, but will preserve a part of the nostalgia associated with the home.
  • Perennials – Planting perennials will save you the headache of replanting annuals every year. Perennials bloom every year and grow a strong root system, ensuring their survival during the harsh winter months. While annuals often provide more color variety, perennials (like hydrangeas, hostas or roses) can be very colorful and will require less maintenance.
  • Hire Yourself – You can save money by doing as much of the work as possible yourself. A three-gallon bush can cost $15 if you purchase and plant it yourself. Hire a professional, and the cost just doubled for the same plant.
  • Share Costs with Neighbors – If your land abuts your neighbor’s, plan what plants or foliage you want together and split the cost!
  • Plant in Stages – Divide your project into phases and save money to pay as you go. In other words, break your yard into sections. For example, focus on the front areas that people can see first, then migrate to the backyard, and then save the furthest out, largest or hard-to-reach areas for last.
  • Know Where to Plant – Roots love to travel and can damage concrete blocks, driveways, sidewalks and in-ground pools, so do your homework before putting a shovel in the ground. The rule of thumb (preferably a green one) is to plant large trees at least 30 feet from these areas.
  • Watering – The latest EPA statistics reveal that outdoor water usage accounts for 20% of total home water usage. Try selecting plants that are drought-tolerant to save money on your water bill. Set your sprinklers to only run for a certain period of time.
  • Mulch – Mulch is an inexpensive (an average of $2.50 a bag) and perfect way to give a brushed-up, tasteful look to your landscape design. Mulch comes in a variety of colors, including traditional red, contemporary beige and the more trendy black.
  • Freebies – Check with your local city for free trees, mulch and compost. Some cities offer groups of neighbors large amounts of trees in exchange for planting and maintaining them. If you see that your neighbor has overgrowth of a particular plant in their yard, ask them if you could take a few – they might really appreciate it!
Thanksgiving DIY Decorating Ideas

4 Gorgeous DIY Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

It’s that time of year again!

Are you getting ready for a full day (or weekend, for many of us) of entertaining family for the holidays? Here are some of our favorite DIY decorating ideas for Thanksgiving that are easy and beautiful.

1 – Mood Lighting

Fill some hurricane vases with corn kernels, acorns, chestnuts, cranberries, or your favorite Thanksgiving item that won’t melt if touched by hot wax. Place a coaster between the candle and the filler items and then use a small piece of twine to wrap your candles with autumn leaves. This also works well with mason jars and tea candles or white wine bottles and long skinny candles.

Continue reading “4 Gorgeous DIY Thanksgiving Decor Ideas” »

Prep Your House for Allergy Season

DIY Projects: Prep your house for allergy season

Every year, allergies make me miserable and inhibit my ability to enjoy life. The pollen outdoors combined with mold and pet dander indoors make my nose run, my eyes water and my sinuses swell. To reduce the physical effects of these allergy symptoms, I perform several do-it-yourself projects around my home.

1. Change the filters

Pollen aggravates my allergies even when I’m inside, so I try to keep the windows closed. Because I run the air conditioner so often in order to stay comfortable, I change the filter every month. Look for AC filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating. This number indicates the efficiency of the filter to trap allergen and pollen particles that circulate in the air.

In addition to operating the air conditioners, I also run exhaust fans. In my kitchen and bathroom, they assist in keeping my home free from dangerous contaminants. I wash these fans regularly to keep them clean and help them operate efficiently.

2. Clean the house

Every allergy sufferer understands the importance of dusting the furniture, but removing dust from household surfaces isn’t enough to keep my allergies at bay. Every week, I use a damp cloth to wipe every nook and cranny of my home. The baseboards, room corners and spaces under furniture receive a thorough swipe.

No surface escapes my cleaning routine. Dust mites live in bedding so I have to wash my sheets and pillow coverings every week. I cover the mattresses and box springs with plastic covers that keep the mites out of my bed. I also vacuum cloth furniture and the curtains on a weekly basis to prevent dust from accumulating. While I clean my home, I wear a protective face mask and old clothes. I take a shower after I finish cleaning to remove any allergens from my body and keep me healthy. Though thorough, these housecleaning methods help alleviate my symptoms and let me live freely in my home.

3. Replace the carpets

Despite my efforts to keep my house clean, I notice dust and other particles floating in the air as I vacuum the carpets. I decided to eliminate these allergens and tear out the carpets. Hardwood flooring is easier to clean and allergens like dust and pet hair can’t hide on the hardwood.

If replacing the carpet isn’t an option for you, make sure you vacuum once or twice a week. If you wait until you can see the dirt, the allergens have already accumulated on your floors. Use a High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) exhaust filter attached to your vacuum to catch all the dangerous particles from your carpet.

4. Remove mold

Damp, dark surfaces are prime spots for mold growth. A complete home inspection showed me the spots in my basement, bathroom and kitchen where mold is most likely to grow. To limit mold, I replaced the wallpaper in my bathroom with tile and painted the family room and bedrooms with mold-resistant paint.

Leaks are prime spots for mold. In the kitchen and bathroom, I repair or replace leaky faucets each year keep the shower and sinks dry. I also annually inspect the roof, gutters and eaves for leaks that I repair immediately. Because a dry home prevents mold growth, I use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level under 50 percent. When my home is dry and free from mold, I breathe better.

5. Purify the air

Despite my efforts to remove allergens by cleaning and dehumidifying my home, I also need to purify the circulating air I breathe. In each level of my home, an air purifier filters the air and traps pollen and other allergens. With a HEPA filter, the purifiers work for me in reducing my allergy symptoms.

With indoor and outdoor pollen, dust and pets, I need all the help I can get in tackling allergens. By housecleaning, changing filters, replacing carpet, removing mold and purifying the air, I make my house a healthy environment. These do-it-yourself projects ease my allergy symptoms all year and can improve the air quality in your home too.

Tis’ the Season to DIY

Tis’ the Season to DIY

Our Happy Holidays Pinterest board is full of DIY crafts and activities for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.

From handmade decorations and ornaments to fun holiday treats to make with your kids find great ways to celebrate the holidays DIY style. However you celebrate, let our Happy Holiday board inspire your creative side.

For all of our holiday ideas follow our DIY Holiday Crafts board –

Refacing Cabinetry Is Often A Much More Affordable Option Than A Total Renovation

DIY House Tips

DIY home improvement projects are a practical way to boost a property’s value and make it a better place to live. There are some simple things that homeowners can do without having to spend too much. Minor renovations, remodeling, redecorating, repair and maintenance can bring out a big difference in the home’s overall look and feel.


Repainting is a simple home improvement project that anyone can do. All it requires is paint, a brush or a roller. Any home can look as good as new with new paint. Home repainting is one way for owners to express their personality and mood.

One important consideration is choosing the paint color. Homeowners who want their space to appear wider should go for lighter colors. Meanwhile, those who want to have a relaxing indoor environment may go for colors like pale blue, sea green and the all-time favorite white. For a livelier atmosphere, vivid red can handle it. Charcoal grey and earth tones create a warmer feeling.


Whether it is for kitchen, bedroom, bathroom or living room remodeling, homeowners should always make functionality a top priority.

Home remodeling need not be expensive. Existing furniture can be made to look even better without being replaced. Using a DIY refinisher is a great way to do it. This can remove the stains and bring out the furniture’s shine. Smaller tables in the living room may look good as side tables in the bedroom. Simple repositioning can do a lot. Add some wall paintings and other accessories. In the dining room, add wall decor that stimulates the appetite. In the living room, curtains and some throw pillows on the sofa can make a big difference.

Simple Home Repair

Even the slightest problems at home such as broken faucets or lighting can affect the home’s value the owners plan to sell it. With this, it is important that homeowners deal with these simple problems before they get worse.

Replacing broken faucets and showers are easy tasks. However, it does a lot for homeowners and their guests. With this, sinks and bathrooms stay highly functional. These simple problems should not be ignored. Another important thing to repair is the lighting. Dim lights should be removed and replaced with new ones. In addition, fix table and chair stands before they become completely damaged and no longer fit for repair.

Consider implementing mini “face lifts” for high-traffic rooms in your house such as the kitchen. Installing new counter tops, or refacing cabinetry can instantly transform a room’s aesthetic and is often a much more affordable option than a total renovation.

These simple home repair projects help homeowners save a lot on buying new furniture and fixtures. They don’t have to deal with costly repairs in the future. Most importantly, they can do away with possible accidents caused by these broken items.


Old items at home can be used for other purposes. Instead of throwing them away, recycle them. Doing so allows homeowners to save a lot on buying new things.

One example is wooden wine boxes. Usually, these items end up in the trash. Homeowners can actually turn them into valuable household items. Simply repainting or refinishing wine boxes can turn these items into toy and magazine keepers. They are durable and can hold a lot of things in place.

There are a lot of other important things that homeowners should spend their money on. However, they should never compromise their home’s condition. The best thing to do is to opt for DIY home improvement projects. With this, they can achieve their plans of making their home a lot more beautiful and presentable without going over their budget.

 Alternatively, they can go for a home improvement loan. These loans are intended to help homeowners obtain funds to increase their home’s value. They are usually short-term and may be secured or unsecured.


Authors Bio:

Brent Wayne is a 22 year old housing and finance writer. He mostly spends his time writing blog posts and editorials for Mortgage Loan. Do send him a nudge over at if you’d like to say hello.

Concrete Floor Coating

How to Apply Concrete Floor Coating


Whether you own an auto repair shop, detail cars as a hobby or simply want your garage to be an easier place to clean, I’ve found that applying a concrete floor coating can do wonders to the overall look of any garage. Once you have all the tools, the entire process is relatively simple.

Epoxy floor coating has a lot of advantages in a garage environment, especially as it resists oil stains and wipes clean very easily, similar to a kitchen counter. It can be especially handy in the winter months with the antiskid additives, which help when water has beaded up.

Just make sure that you choose a coating color that is appropriate for a garage—as this Toronto newspaper article points out, white will leave all kinds of scuff marks if you don’t plan on cleaning regularly. If you want to update your garage floor, here are the steps you will have to take:

Prepare your floor – In order to bond properly, your floor needs to be completely clean and porous. If you have potholes, you will need to patch them, and if your concrete is sealed, you will have to use a chemical stripper.

Etch the floor – When you purchase all your supplies (usually found in a kit), you will have some etching solution. Wet your garage area and use a bristle broom to etch the floor in small sections. After you are done (etching in both directions), use the hose again to rinse the garage clear again.

Mix the epoxy paint and begin painting – You will mix the hardener and the paint until they are completely blended, and then wait thirty minutes for the chemicals to react. After that, you have two hours to completely paint your garage. Be sure to use a roller for speed, but touch up the corners and seams with a brush.

Apply color flakes – Color flakes help hide any discoloration in your garage. When the paint is still wet, sprinkle the flakes over the top at the same time as you are painting. You might want to have someone help you with this.

Prepare and paint the top coat – Once you mix the top coat, you will again have to wait thirty minutes for the chemicals. Like the first concrete floor coating, you will have two hours to evenly distribute the top coat.

Once you have completed all these steps, you simply have to wait for everything to dry completely. Don’t drive a car on your new coating until you have waited 72 hours, but then enjoy the ease of a hard concrete floor coating in your garage space.

by Don Brown

Central Heating

DIY Jobs That EVERY-ONE Should Be Able To Do

There’s a huge amount of pleasure to be had from doing it yourself. Indeed psychologists have found that some of the best remedies for depression include exercise and productive work, well, you certainly get that when you get involved in some DIY! I think it probably has something to do with our primate ancestors building themselves a new nest every night, we like to improve our environment to suit ourselves and like to see a job well done by our own hands.

If you’re new to Doing It Yourself the thought of tackling power tools, timber or plumbing can be a little daunting. Indeed, I have heard people actually say that: “it’s not possible to bleed your own radiators, you have to get a professional in to do anything like that.” I think I bled my first radiator when I was about ten and I still don’t have a certificate. Perhaps DIY’s more about common sense.

So, if you’re new to DIY what are the quickest, easiest and most important jobs that you should know how to do to avoid calling out a professional unless it’s actually necessary.

Lets start with bleeding a radiator!

You’ll know when your radiators need bleeding at this time of year as your central heating comes on. You’ll find that the top of your radiator remains cold while the bottom gets to the required heat. At the top of one end of the radiator you’ll find a nipple or nut, with a spanner or pliers turn the nut or nipple gently anti-clockwise. You’ll hear the air hiss out and when the water reaches the top a little will dribble out. When that happens immediately close the nut again. You should perform this operation while the heating is off and with a bowl or bucket under the nut as the water is generally filthy and can stain.

If the bottom of the radiator is cold there is an entirely different problem: Sludge. As the system ages it will gradually become filled with metal oxides from the inside of plumbing and minerals from the water, especially in hard water areas. In these cases a professional may be necessary as cleaning sludge will require either removing the radiator from the wall and sluicing it out or cleaning the entire system with a pressure flush. The first option can be extremely messy if done wrong and moving large heavy objects such as radiators into the bathroom or garden can be dangerous if you’re not used to handling them.
Another job every-one should know how to do is re-hang a shelf or door.

Overloading shelves and swinging on doors can eventually lead to them falling off the wall or sticking in their frames. As soon as a problem starts to appear you should deal with it. And here’s how. If you have a shelf that is coming away from the wall remove everything from it and take the shelf down. Remove the loose Rawlplugs and vacuum the holes to remove any unstable cement or fragments of masonry. Once that’s done fill the holes with good quality filler and leave to dry. Once dry drill out the holes and re-inset new Rawlplugs hammering them in gently. If they’re tight re-drill with the next bit size up, if loose use a larger plug and screw, don’t re-fill and drill out again.


Re-hanging a door is a similar process, after time, particularly in new builds, the top hinges can start to come away from the door frame. To fix this unscrew the hinges from the frame and fill the holes with wood glue. If the damage is so bad that the wood has started to split it could need a joiner to come and re-fit the frame but try fixing it yourself first by filling any gaps with wood filler or a product like No More Nails. Once the filler is dry position the door so that the hinge plate fits into the original rebate and replace the screws. Standing the door on a wedge or even just a box of matches will keep the space at the bottom of the door, meaning that the door will hang properly.

Replacing a broken ceramic tile.
Replacing a broken tile was never going to be an easy job but it’s more a question of making sure you perform every step properly than the overall job being hard. If the tile is on the outside of the tiled area simply use a chisel and hammer to remove the tile and all the grouting that held it down. It’s essential that ALL of the tile and grout are removed and there is no rubbish left where the new tile is going to be placed as even the smallest fleck of rubbish will stop the tile sitting properly meaning it will come loose or break again straight away. If you have to cut the tile make sure you have a good supply so that you can practice getting it wrong.

Take your time re-grouting and make sure it’s even and that you’ve got the right product. The adhesive which stops your kitchen floor tiles might not be the right product for your kitchen tiles and almost definitely not right for your bathroom tiling needs.


Use battens or even matches to ensure that your tile is evenly spaced when you set it in situ and if you notice a mistake fix it immediately, grout and adhesives, like time and tide wait for no-one.

If the broken tile is surrounded by good tiles the job is a little trickier. Personally, and every DIYer will tell you a different trick, I would use a ball peen hammer to GENTLY break the broken tile down into much smaller pieces. Once that’s done use a sharp chisel to go around the edges of the gout to get the tile loose. Again make sure all detritus is gone before applying new adhesive and then carry on as above.

@DanCash is a DIYer of varying degrees of skill, however, any job is much easier with the right tools in your hand. That generally means Draper for brushes, Stanley for knives and screw drivers and Hitachi power tools. There are some real deals out there and now Christmas is approaching, maybe it’s time to scribble out a list that the whole household could benefit from!

Granite Countertop

Installing Your Granite Countertops

So you’ve finally come around to remodeling your kitchen. You’ve picked out your designs, calculated your estimates and overcome that vague sense of dread that comes with the prospect of destroying a part of your home in order to make it better. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start the dirty work.

If you’ve decided to feature granite countertops in your remodel, – and why wouldn’t you? – but have never installed granite before, refer to this quick install guide for help with the basics of counter installation. Without the right tools, it can be a frustrating process. But a little artifice, perseverance and plain old elbow grease (which is hard to find in stores but can be ordered by some online retailers) will guide you through the task and towards new kitchen nirvana.

For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to assume that you have already selected, purchased, measured and cut your granite. That way we can get right into the actual installation. Let’s go!

Step One – Shut off plumbing and remove any fixtures (sink, etc.)

Before you start tearing away parts of your kitchen, make sure you’ve shut off the water in the house. Then, begin disconnecting the plumbing underneath the sink so that when you remove the sink and any other fixtures, they don’t bring any pipes with them. You can loosen a sink by using a crowbar or ply bar to break through any caulk before lifting the sink right out of the counter.

Step Two – Raze the Countertops!

This may be the most difficult/cathartic part of the process. Most countertops are glued to their wooden foundations and in order to pry them off, you’ll need some tools. The wide putty knife can be used to effectively wedge down behind the portion of the counter that rests against the wall. Once you have some leverage, you can hammer a pry bar into the space and pull that piece of the counter off, without damaging the walls.

The actual counter will be a bit more difficult. Most laminate countertops are affixed with screws and glue, so you’ll have to hunt down those screws, and that could mean spending some time under the sink and in the cabinets. In my experience, it’s best to use some power tools here; these screws can be pretty stubborn, and a simple screwdriver might drive you to the depths of insanity. Once you’ve removed the screws, use the same technique to break the glue as explained above.

Step Three – Shut Off Power and Remove Appliances

The final step of prep is shutting off electricity and gas to the appliances and pulling them out to make way. If you have a gas range stove, make sure it’s off and simply pull it out from the wall (Tip: lay a blanket down and transfer the stove to it, so you don’t scratch your kitchen floor up). If you have a dishwasher, you’ll need to remove it to get at screws that are likely keeping the countertops attached. Dismantle those screws and remove any remaining traces of the old countertops. Things are about to get interesting.

Step Four – Install the Granite!

The moment we’ve all been waiting for… is here! Unless you have a means to pick up and transport the granite yourself, it will likely be delivered by a team of people who are capable of installing the stone. Granite tops, when cut and ready to install, can weigh into the hundreds depending on the extent of remodeling you plan on. If you are doing this all by yourself, at least have some friends help you bring the granite into your home.

If you haven’t cut the sinkhole out yet, you’ll have to do that with dry-fitted granite and a jigsaw. Every sink is different; some need to go in before the granite is laid on top, and vice versa.

Once everything is fitted and ready to go, begin applying half-dollar dollops of glue on the plywood, which will serve as the new foundation for the granite.

At this point you’ll want to caulk the seams so everything holds together. Begin this by placing masking tape on either side of the seams you will be caulking. To fill in the seams between the granite pieces, mix some polyester-based resin with some color in order to match the paste with the stone. Mix in some hardener, and then you’ll have about five minutes to apply the mixture to the seams before it hardens completely. Remove the masking tape so the mix doesn’t dry onto it.

Let everything dry for about 30 minutes and then smooth the seams out with a seam stone.

Et Voila! A new kitchen! Of course, there are more than four steps to installing granite countertops, and you’re likely to run into one or more problems in the process. Since every project is different, I can’t troubleshoot for you, unfortunately, but follow these basic guidelines and refer to any user experiences on this or another site in order to get one step closer to beautifying your kitchen and losing those lame countertops you’ve had since college.

Thomas Stone is a home improvement blogger for Sears and other prestigious brands. In his free time he enjoys DIY home improvement projects.