Product Picks for Spring Projects

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Spring has arrived in all its glory, and so have the sounds of hammers, saws and the whistling pride of homeowners putting winter's project dreams into action. It is indeed the season of the great American fix-up, particularly if you're planning to sell your home in the coming months and need solutions to help set it apart in a competitive market. Following are a few suggestions that are affordable and easy to accomplish, and will

Spring has arrived in all its glory, and so have the sounds of hammers, saws and the whistling pride of homeowners putting winter's project dreams into action. It is indeed the season of the great American fix-up, particularly if you're planning to sell your home in the coming months and need solutions to help set it apart in a competitive market. Following are a few suggestions that are affordable and easy to accomplish, and will reward your efforts with kudos from the neighbors and an uptick in home value.

Master bath as home spa

The sanctuary of an in-home spa is an increasingly popular home feature and a rewarding investment for your bathroom remodel. Whether you want to add value for a forthcoming sale or indulge yourself after a day of other home improvement projects, Moen's Moentrol shower system provides a stylish, affordable, and easy-to-install vertical spa solution. This three-function shower valve incorporates a showerhead, hand shower and body sprays, and the pressure-balancing volume control allows you to customize water flow and temperature for comfort and water savings. Available in a variety of trim profiles and finishes ranging from brushed nickel to wrought iron, the Moentrol system also features consumer-preferred, ADA-compliant lever handles for comfort and safety. Conveniently, it utilizes half-inch plumbing and is compatible with a wide variety of plumbing connections, so all you really have to worry about is which style and finish you'll choose. See www.moen.com.

See Video: Spring Products

Filling the gap between you and energy savings

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air leakage through a home's holes, gaps and cracks is the single largest cause of residential heating and cooling loss, accounting for approximately 30 to 50 percent of the energy used in most homes. In fact, if you were to add up the multitude of places where air escapes in the average home, such as around windows and door frames, you'd have the equivalent of a 16-foot air-escape hole in your home!

For a few dollars you can tackle many of those pesky leaks with a product like Dow's GREAT STUFF™, a sealant that can close the gap between you and energy savings. This insulating foam expands to take the shape of any void, forming a permanent, airtight and water-resistant seal that protects your home from outside elements, pests, and allergens while reducing condensation and noise pollution. Apply it around window and door frames, electrical outlets, plumbing lines, under siding and in the basement. Once it's cured, GREAT STUFF™ can also be trimmed, painted, sanded and even stained to give your project a finishing touch. Inexpensive and easy to use, GREAT STUFF™ insulating foam comes in three varieties, including Gaps & Cracks, Big Gap Filler, and Window & Door. I also like the product's Web site, where an Interactive House displays many common enegy leaks and a Handyman Challenge game identifies the energy dollars you can save by sealing each hole. See www.greatstuff.dow.com.

More days on the green

Nothing says spring like a lush lawn and garden, and these also say "premium property" to home buyers attracted by their curb appeal -- in fact, estimates from the Professional Landcare Network and realtors reveal that landscaping can add up to 15 percent to property value. Beautiful yards require maintenance, of course, and homeowners often fall short when it comes to keeping lawns and plantings properly fertilized: most lawn fertilizer products require application every two months but only get used by homeowners about 1.9 times a year. Sta-Green's lawn and landscaping fertilizers remove the hassle and guesswork, leaving you with the kind of yard that puts green in your pocket at selling time.

The technology behind Sta-Green's Xtended Lawn Fertilizer is used at 60 of the top 100 U.S. golf courses for lush, healthy turf. One application of this timed-release solution feeds your lawn for up to five months, and it's guaranteed not to burn lawns when applied as directed. Sta-Green's All Purpose Plant Food does wonders for vegetables, roses, houseplants, trees and shrubs, feeding them for up to three months and promoting new growth. You can give larger ornamentals extended moisture with Sta-Green Tree and Shrub Planting Mix, and the Moisture Max Potting Mix with Fertilizer protects against under- and overwatering, with both products feeding plantings for up to nine months. Sta-Green is available exclusively at Lowes.

Greet every season with strength and style

After beautiful landscaping, a home's exterior is what draws a potential buyer's eye and literally creates an entrée to the final sale. Therma-Tru Doors offers entry solutions that beautify as well as protect with the Tru-Defense collection, developed especially for homeowners dwelling in harsh weather conditions. In these high-performance door systems, all the components are designed to maximize the seal between the door and the frame, virtually eliminating water and air infiltration. Tru-Defense doors also have an air, water and structural performace rating of DP-40 or higher, assuring that they can structurally withstand 150 mph winds and 8 inches of driven rain per hour.

Crafted out of fiberglass, they won't warp, crack, rot, swell or split like wood doors, and also won't rust, ding or dent like aluminum and steel varieties. Therma-Tru offers Tru-Defense technology in 6'8" and 8'0" heights in a range of popular looks. Tru-Defense patio door systems are also available, including Lip-Lite Impact Rated Glass and Tru-Defense Opaque Impact Rated fiberglass doors for protection against hurricane-force winds, driving rain and flying debris. For more information, see www.thermatru.com.

See Video: Spring Products

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's Web site.

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