DIY Do's And Don'ts

Top Home Improvement Projects for Summer

Patio of mediterranean villa in French Riviera with wicker furniture

Betsy Taylor and her husband decided to embark on a major home improvement project one winter: renovating their kitchen in Portland, Maine.

"We hadn't planned on redoing the floors, but after three weeks of tracked in Old Man Winter, the contractor replaced it at no additional cost," she says. "While it was nice to have a new free floor, in retrospect, I wish we had waited for summer when our chances of terrible weather were minimized. By the third week of construction, I just wanted my home back!"

While sometimes the winter blues can make a person want to make home improvements, in many cases, summer is the best time for such projects. While summertime is when attention moves outdoors, that doesn't mean all summer home improvements need to be relegated to the patio. Here are a few home improvements perfect for summer that you may not have considered:


1. Don't build the pool, but plan it
"Summer is the best time for a self-analysis for big outdoor-area improvements," says landscape designer and winner of the 2009 Oasis Award for outdoor kitchen design, Brian Griffith. "Ask yourself, `how do I use my outdoor space?' Then ask yourself, `how do I wish I used my outdoor space?' Summer is a really good time to take a good look at how you experience outdoor living." And take note Griffith's rule of thumb: "The less comfortable it is, the less likely you are to use it."

2. Focus on your windows
When the dog days hit, the next best thing to being outside, is sometimes, looking outside. There's nothing like a great summer storm through a big picture window. And there is no better time than summer to invest in new windows to keep out the cold in winter and minimize heat in the summer - or just expand your view all around.

3. Shade, shade, shade
A super-hot summer can leave your patio and barbecue areas neglected. Consider using the summer months to plant new trees in strategic places that will afford you some great natural shade at some point down the road. In the meantime, look into other ways to get shade now. "Covered porches, umbrellas and affordable pergolas really help make wonderful living spaces," says Griffith. These days, shading devices come in so many shapes and colors, so you can embrace your own style and keep things cool.

4. Prepare for winter
Any large-scale construction jobs are best done in the summer months for a lot of obvious reasons. (For one, as in Taylor's case, no workmen will be trailing in heavy winter mud and slush to and from your indoors to outdoors.) But also, it's ultimately less intrusive to you and your family if say, to install new insulation, taking a wall down would otherwise freeze you out. So, whatever grievances you have -- from the leaky roof at the last big spring rain, to that room that you can't live without -- break ground on those improvements in the summer and take the kids to the pool.

5. Repaving
"Summer is definitely the time to repave your driveway," says Steven Mazur, a carpenter in New York City. "You will get a lot better adhering than when it's cold. And it's just a generally bad idea to repave when it's raining or snowing." Summer is also the time to do work to any walkways on your property.

6. Refinish outdoor surfaces
A beautiful gloss to a wooden deck will not only protect it, but make it look like new. "Summer," advises Mazur, "is definitely the time to re-oil wood, refinish the deck or just scrape off old paint and repaint." These are projects that are easy do-it-yourself-ers, and are best accomplished, and then enjoyed, in the summer months."

Almost any home improvement can be tackled in the summertime. Taylor, now at home in her beautiful new kitchen says, "Next we plan to do some work on our roof." Not wanting anyone to slip on ice and fall off of it she says with a smile, "We are scheduled to begin this June."

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