As summer draws to an end, everyone enjoys lazing in the last of the year’s warm, sunny days. But along with the end-of-summer bucket list — one last visit to the public pool, a Cracker Jack-fueled trip to the baseball stadium, and the grand finale to a season of backyard barbecuing — a number of chores must be tackled before autumn’s chill sets in.
Cap the season with five DIY projects that will ready your house for colder weather, and have significant payoff in the months ahead. Plus, with these pro tips, you’ll make short work of your to-do list so you can get back to soaking up those last rays of sunshine.
Put on a fresh coat
If you’ve been meaning to paint a room in your home, now’s the perfect time. Heat and humidity are down, yet it’s still pleasant enough outdoors to keep the windows open while you work, helping your new look dry faster.
First, cover your floors, then prep by sanding and filling any holes in your walls. For flawless results, you’ll want to start by cutting in a clean line at the corners and along the edges where wall meets trim before coating the rest of the wall with paint. Dip a brush about a third of the way into the paint, and tap off the excess — don’t wipe!
When the brushwork is done and you’re ready to roll, apply paint in short, overlapping strokes. Wait until the paint is completely dry (two to four hours for latex, 24 hours for oil-based paint) before adding a second coat, otherwise your refreshed room may be marred by streaks, peeling, or uneven color.
Wake up your windows
The days are getting shorter, so to maximize your home’s natural light through the end of the year, give your windows a thorough washing. Start by banishing dirt and dust.
Indoors, use a moistened microfiber cloth; outdoors, where windows are bound to be dirtier, start by spraying them down well with the hose. Next, go at the glass with a vinegar-and-water solution or a commercial cleaner, using a squeegee for professional-quality results.
While you’re at it, survey your screens and repair or replace where necessary. Now that you’ve switched off the air conditioner and haven’t yet turned on the heat, you’ll want to keep your windows open — and you’ll enjoy those fresh breezes more if they’re not accompanied by bugs.
This is also a good time to check that your window locks are working so your home will be secure.
Retire your patio gear
Your outdoor furniture and grill work hard all summer, so give them the TLC they deserve before packing them away for the winter. Wipe tables and chairs with a dry cloth to get rid of surface grime, pollen and bugs, then follow up with a good hosing.
Fabric cushions may need a bit more attention to deter mold and mildew (check labels for cleaning instructions). Be sure all items are completely dry before covering them loosely or moving them into storage. A little care after each season of use will preserve your furniture and cushions, ultimately increasing their lifespan.
Similarly, when you’re closing up the grill for the season, degrease it with a warm, soapy cloth, then treat any moving parts to a light application of lubricating oil.
If your grill is gas powered, make sure the tank’s valve is closed, then detach the tank and store it outside, standing upright, in a well-ventilated area.
Rig up a mudroom
Not all homes are built with a spot to collect wet outerwear and footwear, but most could use one, especially once nasty weather sets in.
To make your entryway more functional and encourage both family and guests to kick off their shoes at the door, consider adding a large, standalone piece of furniture with a bench seat, cubbies, and hooks that can handle everyone’s gear. If space is limited, slide a slim, sturdy console table into the hall, place baskets beneath for shoes and boots, and station a coat rack nearby.
This mud area should be as close to the front door as possible to prevent slushy, muddy tracks throughout your house. You may have to remind family members (kids, especially) to stow their stuff before they come charging through. Chalkboard nameplates to designate hooks and shelf space can help.
Get a grip on the garage
Only 30 percent of homeowners actually keep a car in the garage — there’s just not enough room with all the clutter in there. Even if you don’t intend to store the family vehicle in your garage, it could no doubt use a little tidying up.
Sort through all you’ve amassed and obey the golden rule of tossing everything you haven’t used in two years. Show no mercy to the outgrown, expired, and irreparable.
Arrange keepers by type — tools, sporting goods, and so on — and consider upgrading the shelves and adding see-through stackable bins to maintain order.
Once it’s organized, give the garage a serious sweeping and, for a real makeover, coat the floor with an epoxy paint. Just two coats later, the floor will be easier to clean and shielded against grease and oil stains, both common offenders in the garage. It’s best to get this paint job out of the way now, while you can still empty the garage out into the driveway or porch for an afternoon while you work.
Replace your garage’s fixtures and stored items, and you’ll hardly recognize the space.
Finally, ensure that your garage-door opener has a U.L.–listed motor as well as an auto-stop feature, an important safety precaution should a child or pet try to slip in underneath.