Products, techniques and time-savers
If you’re beginning a home improvement project, check out these products and services. I’ve had good results with them and think you will too. 
Home Depot Clearance


Usually in the back of the store, it’s where you’ll find close-outs and discontinued items at great prices. Here’s an example. When Donna T and I were planning her new master bath, the vanity she wanted was originally priced at $800. After a few months it was discontinued and they reduced the price to $600. Not bad. But when they got down to the last one—the display unit—they priced it as a close-out at just $159 and that’s when we snagged it. As a close-out the vanity had a few nicks and scratches but I was able to clean it up nicely. We applied the same planning and patience to the shower faucet, getting a $300 (at full retail) piece for just $69. The moral of the story? Look around, decide what you want and then check the clearance section regularly. You’ll be surprised what you can get for a fraction of the original price.


By the way—when I work on a renovation project, some of my clients like to purchase their own fixtures (you don’t have to use Home Depot!). I’ll work with you in advance to plan the space and the dimensions of the components. That way you can be sure you’re getting exactly what you want—with no mark up—and leave the installation to me.



If you haven’t gone to Sherwin-Williams for your painting needs, I strongly suggest you give them a try. My experience with the company is that they’re super-knowledgeable, have great ideas and have made customer-service a top priority. In fact, they were recently rated by J.D. Power “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Paint Retailers” two years in a row. As I was working on a home in West Chester, the homeowner went to the local Sherwin-Williams store to learn about paint performance and options. He got custom-mixed quart samples that we painted on the home so he could make an informed decision about his colors. The product is easy to work with and we all agreed the result is terrific.


On the subject of color, Sherwin-Williams also offers the Color Snap paint matching application. Designed for your smartphone, this handy app lets you take a picture of anything—a rug, pillow, countertop—then gives you a variety of color choices that match. Also be sure to go to their Web site and save on your next gallon of paint!

Krud Kutter


Boy, I love this stuff. Krud Kutter cuts through the ickiest crud, like kitchen grease, dirt, and grime. Here’s how I use it to clean and prep a surface before painting: in a bucket I dilute the Krud Kutter 1:1 with water then liberally sponge it on the surface to be painted (walls, doors, trim). I use a sanding sponge to work the mixture into the surface then rinse the surface with clean water. When the surface is dry, I can then apply primer and paint. This cleaning process provides a good clean, dull, and dry surface so the paint lasts longer. This process is also dust-free and I use it as part of the compliance requirements the EPA RRP program mandates for working in homes with lead paint. Sound like a lot of work? It is! That’s why so many people hire me to do the job right.  Pro or do-it-yourselfer, the above is a good way to work.

Diplomat Closets


As a general contractor I’ve used Ryan and the folks at Diplomat for my home renovation jobs, always with beautiful results. Their attention to detail is meticulous and they always have good ideas of what to do with space. I’ve never hesitated to recommend Diplomat to my clients because I know they’ll be pleased.




James C Schell, 510 East Barnard Street Unit 50, West Chester, PA 19382
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