woodpeckers knocking on your house? there’s hope

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With woodpeckers looking for a warm place to spend the winter, now is when they’re most likely to damage homes — the yearly cost is in the millions. Our neighborhood is heavily wooded, so most of the houses have had some damage. Luckily, our trim remains intact, despite the fact that we do hear the occasional tapping. Although there are plenty of suggestions to ward off woodpeckers, from hanging pie plates or windchimes to “Scare Eye” balloons, we’re either lucky or George, the red-headed woodpecker figurine we hung up years ago, is working. (George was a gift made by a local crafter. I haven’t been able to find another, but there are many deterrents available, including a fake “attack spider.”) I also always stock a wire-mesh feeder with C&S Peanut Flavored Nuggets. Since woodpeckers are territorial (one theory behind why placing fake woodpeckers around your house might work), you won’t attract additional birds to your yard. Hopefully, you’ll just attract them away from your house and enjoy watching them, too! — Sarah L.

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revisit: enviro-friendly outdoor stain, one year later

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As I wrote last year, we thought the Penofin Aquafin we used on our deck railings was great — easy to apply, easy to clean up, non-flammable, and much more environmentally friendly than regular stain. After a Seattle winter, however, parts of our project weren’t holding up like we’d hoped. The stain looked pretty good on anything that was vertical, but the horizonal portions of the railings did not fare well — there was some peeling and a lot of spots that weathered as if they hadn’t been stained at all. Two weeks ago, we went ahead and ordered several more gallons to reapply. We were staining newbies last year, so what do you think — was the weathering normal, is the stain not up to par, or did we do something wrong? My theories and more photos after the jump. –Mary T. (more…)

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why don’t more houses have a laundry chute?

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When we first moved to Seattle, we rented a 1947 house that had a laundry chute, and I cannot tell you how much I loved that thing. No hamper taking up space in the bathroom, no clothes overflowing onto the floor. Dirty linens just “disappeared” down a hatch built into our linens closet, and they were there waiting in the basement for us when it was time to do some laundry. It’s such an ingenious and simple device — just a trapdoor that opened into a small wooden chute in the basement — that I don’t get why I see them so infrequently in homes. Is it because people have laundry on the same floor as their living spaces? We plan to add a laundry chute when we upgrade our bathroom. Luckily, there are places online like This Old House, DIY Network, and eZine that will give us a step-by-step. –Mary T.

Photo via Pam at Retro Renovation, one of our favorite sites — the same vintage 1960s cubby that houses the laundry chute also has a built-in, fold-down bathroom scale!

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vintage fixing: re-webbing a patio chair

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I’m a huge fan of traditional webbed patio chairs, but they can be hard to find these days. The only stores I’ve seen them regularly in person are True Value Hardware stores, where I’ve also spotted re-webbing materials (Frost King seems to have the market cornered on those). I’ve also seen them at the DoItBest site. But here’s the rub: the new chairs are usually webbed in boring colors like brown or forest green. That’s why, for the past few years, I’ve found my own webbing online (seplaceing for “chair webbing” or “re-web kit” on Google or eBay) and used it to re-web vintage or discarded webbed chairs I’ve found at yard sales or on the street. Re-webbing is easy — believe me, I wouldn’t bother if it wasn’t — though, like any DIY, it can be a little tedious. Click the link for the webbing how-to’s — I’ll keep things as simple as possible. –Mary T. (more…)

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fiber cement siding: what it is and why i want it

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We’ve been noticing large-plank fiber cement siding on houses around our neighborhood and we just love it. It’s modern looking and, according to our sources, it will last forever. Sounds like quite a step up from what we have now: painted wooden boards that were allowed to blister and flake before we bought our house, greatly reducing their longevity. A friend snapped the photo of a house in progress above, which resembles the shape of our house somewhat. I realize the above might be a bit too industrial for some, but with plantings completed I think the look is rather cool. We can’t afford to make any big changes to our house right now, so for the time being we’ll just keep slapping paint on it. In the meantime, though, I asked two friends — Steve, an architect, and Bo, an interior designer — to tell me more. Here’s what they had to say. –Mary T.

PS I also want the metal roofing, but that’s a different post.

Click to get info from experts on fiber cement siding!
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