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Ask an Expert: Cheap and Easy Home Improvement Projects (Part Two)

Last week, Lou Manfredini (better known as "Ace Hardware’s Helpful Hardware Man") offered some tips on ways to make cheap and easy upgrades to your home. Lou gave readers so much great advice that I had to split the post into two parts, so as not to overwhelm you with all of his superb helpfulness! To see the rest of his answers, check out the Q&A.


CasaSugar: As the temperatures drop, some of our readers are concerned about losing heat through their fireplaces. Are there any products you recommend, or techniques for reducing fireplace heat loss?

Lou: Your fireplace can be a very romantic fixture when there is a warm fire to sit by. But when it’s off it’s a heat sucker. Make sure the damper is closed once the fire and heat have died down and if you have doors on your fireplace, close those to reduce the heat loss when not in use. If you typically do not use the fireplace in the Winter, then you can install a window film kit using double-sided tape that in many cases can stick right to the face of the fireplace. Just like a window or door, if you install it properly and use a hair dryer to shrink the plastic, you will not even know it’s there and you can increase the energy efficiency of that opening by up to 70 percent.

To hear more of Lou's advice, read more.

CasaSugar: What’s an unexpected home find that you could tell me about at Ace?

Lou: We manufacture our own line of paint and are the only maker of an interior paint with Scotch Guard Protector in it. The paint, called Ace Sensations, is in my opinion the best interior paint on the market, bar none. And it's the easiest to keep clean, marks and stains wipe right off.

CasaSugar: I was recently at Ace buying hardware for a chair I reupholstered. I ended up getting some tiny brass nails that I’m using for another project. I love the look of the brass nails; the color is unexpected and I think they’ll make a big impact on my project. Are there any other unexpected hardware products that could change a home’s look, or the look of a piece of furniture?

Lou: Well it all depends on what the project is. One thing that most people don’t know is that we have access to over 60,000 products that come out of our warehouses, but many of our retailers have specialty suppliers that make their inventory unique, so in many cases you never know what you’ll find at an Ace store.

CasaSugar: What advice do you have for women who might not know where to start at a hardware store?

Lou: Start with our staff, we are all about helping you get what you need, explaining how to do it, and then getting you on your way. For the second year in a row we received the J.D. Power and Associates award for service, and while we are very proud of that, we were being helpful long before there even was a J.D. Power award.

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