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Staying safe with summer DIY projects

Home ImprovementSafety of CitizensNBCToday (tv program)

I have several summer home improvement projects on my list. Any tips on where to start and how to get everything done?

Start with safety. After several eye injuries and a dislocated shoulder, Lou Manfredini, TV's 'Mr. Fix-It,' has become an advocate for safety precautions, especially for homeowners who try do-it-yourself projects. Here are his tips on how you can stay safe while tackling projects around the house.

Update your front door. "If you want to add some pizazz to the front of your home, consider repainting the front door. With a little sanding, priming and a new coat of paint in a color (think anything but white), you can change the entire look of your home."

Safety tip: Wearing a respirator while sanding will protect lungs, and protective eyewear is a must.

Fix up furniture. "Refinishing furniture is a great way to bring old items back to life."

Safety tip: Finishing products tend to be filled with chemicals that are dangerous to lungs and skin. Protection is key — a quality pair of painter's gloves, a respirator and protective eyewear will help.

Reseal the driveway. Pesky plants sprouting from your driveway? "Resealing your asphalt driveway is a great way to keep that surface looking new for a longer period of time. Use a broom or blower to clear the surface, then clean off any oil stains with powdered detergent and a scrub brush. Let that dry and fill any cracks with an asphalt crack filler. Then apply the new sealer with a squeegee or roller. The application is a lot like painting a wall."

Safety tip: Eye and hearing protection are needed for resealing the driveway, as are shoes that can be thrown away since the asphalt is messy.

Room rehab. "Have you been thinking about taking down a wall to increase the size of a room? First, make sure it's not a load-bearing wall, and then, prepare for a lot of dust," Manfredini says. "Make sure you tape plastic to openings around your home and turn off your HVAC system during this job and cover all openings with plastic and tape them shut."

Safety tip: Be sure to wear eye protection that will protect your eyes from any flying debris.

Painting a wall. One of the most popular DIY projects for homeowners, painting a wall or a room is more difficult than it appears. Consider a green update at the same time by using a no-VOC or low-VOC paint. Some VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, can be harmful in small areas, like a room.

Safety tip: If using a ladder to reach the top of a wall, make sure a helper is at the bottom to secure and steady the ladder. Also secure a drop cloth so that it does not move. A drop cloth that is not secure can move and expose the floor to paint, or the painter can slip on it.

Lou Manfredini, host of House Smarts TV and a contributor to NBC's "Today" show, has over 25 years in the home-improvement industry.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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