Posts Tagged ‘ home improvement in Myrtle Beach ’

Rosie, Our Roomba, Comes Highly Recommended

Don’t tell our kids, but I think Rosie’s my favorite. She costs less than either one of our children, vacuums the floors daily if I want, goes to her docking station when told, and she doesn’t talk back. Rosie is a little noisy, but I enjoy hearing her work while I’m writing or, better yet, while I’m napping.

When a friend asked the pros and cons, I had to be honest and let her know my skewed vision has kept me from seeing even one negative thing about our Roomba. I mean, she does gently bump the edges of some furniture and the walls, but I appreciate that she cleans spaces my upright vacuum never did. In fact, that’s one of the things I like best about her. I no longer have to look at dog hairs under our cabinets and along the baseboards in every room.

You may have already guessed, I named Rosie after the maid on my all time favorite cartoon, The Jetsons. Our Rosie is just as endearing and a whole lot smarter than the original one. She does require a little maintenance, but I don’t mind because cleaning her out means I get to see how hard she’s worked on our floors.

Rosie is the pet version on sale at Costco, iRobot Roomba 655 Pet Series Vacuum Cleaning Robot. We invested the money because our dog sheds a lot and because our dog’s mom (me) is kind of obsessive compulsive about getting rid of all dust, dirt, and pet hair. Her online reviews are good. From 83 reviews on Costco’s site, which, by the way, is the cheapest place we found to purchase her in person and online, Rosie got four and a tiny tip of the fifth star out of five.

I’m delighted with Rosie’s performance, so I take really good care of her just like it says in the 600 Series Owner’s Manual. Surprisingly, I read it cover to cover … that’s how important she is to our household.

Here’s what I do. Some of these tips aren’t in the instruction manual and are only suggestions.

  • Empty Rosie’s canister and clean her parts after every single vacuuming even when I run her in only one room.
  • Empty Rosie after about 30 minutes of vacuuming if the floors are especially dirty.  She runs more than an hour.
  • Use the plastic tools to clean her more thoroughly. The tools remove hair that I don’t always see in the brush.
  • Wipe Rosie’s face (okay, faceplate) and her rubber brush with a damp paper towel. Allow parts to dry completely before putting her back together.
  • Wash her filter. The manual says to replace it every two months. Instead, I’ll wash it once or twice, then replace it every six months or so. I’ve already washed it once, let it dry thoroughly for a couple of days, and it worked fine.
  • Remove hair from around the edge of both ends of the bristled brush and the rubber brush, as well as from around the front wheel that pops out when pulled. Sometimes I use a dental tool (pictured), but be careful not to cut Rosie or your fingers.



I hope you enjoy Rosie as much as I do. Be clean!


Note: If you have comments, feel free to leave them on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you. The comments on our blog are closed because of crazy automated spam.

July 13th, 2015  in Cleaning Comments Off

Recipe for Cleaning Grout, plus five tips to make it easier


Even though there are several recipes online that claim to easily clean grout, I haven’t found one that lives up to its word, which explains why there are companies that charge hundreds to do the job.

So, when a customer/friend forwarded a Facebook post with this concoction, I was skeptical. The picture attached to the post showed dirty grout side-by-side with clean grout that had obviously been photoshopped.

However, I like a challenge so I gave it a try. It worked better than I expected and the floor owner most happy with the results.

Here’s the recipe for cleaning grout and some tips that made the job, no, not easy, but easier.



Grout Cleaner: 

7 cups of water

1/2 cup baking soda

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup vinegar

Mix together and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on grout. Wait two minutes, then scrub. Mop until all residue is removed.

Five Tips for Easier Cleaning: 

  • Use real lemon juice.
  • Use apple cider vinegar.
  • Scrub vigorously with a stiff bristled brush. This is part of the trick to cleaning the grout, although the solution does loosen the dirt more so than other cleaners with which I experimented.
  • Buy a brush with a long handle to make the work easier on your back and knees.
  • Mop repeatedly after cleaning grout to remove powdery residue left by baking soda.
August 30th, 2013  in Tips and Tricks of the Trade Comments Off

Thank You, Customers!

April 30th, 2013  in Contractor Who? Why? Expect What? Comments Off

Flooring Dos and Don’ts

Flooring is an investment.

Choose the right floor covering and assure it’s installed properly, and you should have a floor that will last decades.

So, don’t skimp where it matters: installation.

It does not make it true just because a contractor tells you the floor can’t be installed the way you envisioned. The contractor might actually be saying “Our team doesn’t know how” or “Our way is faster so we can get the job done.”

Contractor didn't use spacers during installation so tile was put down crooked and grout lines are inconsistent.

Here's an example of "whacky", a transition from one room to the next, installed incorrectly and with no simple fix.

Get a second opinion if something doesn’t sound quite right like …

  • The contractor guarantees installing tile on a spongy feeling floor will make it more solid and no subflooring is necessary,
  • Or he tells you seams down the middle of the room can’t be avoided,
  • Or he says a transition between rooms has to look whacky because of the angle.

Sometimes a contractor’s evaluation may be true (although it’s never okay to put tile on a spongy surface) depending on unyielding factors he has to work around. However, sometimes he’s taking a shortcut (the easier, cheaper way), which is typically not best for extending the lifetime of your flooring.

Here are a few things to know although there’s no way to cover everything about flooring in one post:

  • All flooring should be installed on top of a clean, dry and level surface.
  • All flooring should be pulled from different boxes to make sure variations in pattern and size are distributed in a visually appealing way throughout the room.
  • Tile always needs to be laid on top of a solid foundation or the tile and/or grout will crack, and this usually happens sooner than later.
  • Tile patterns like diagonal, square or offset should be determined before installation to make sure you’re getting the look you want.

A quick fix that, given just a little more time and effort, could have been done right.

  • Laminate and hardwood flooring must acclimate to your home’s climate before it is installed. This means uninstalled flooring needs to sit inside your house for at least 48 hours.
  • Laminate and hardwood flooring pieces should be installed parallel to the longest wall in the room.
  • Hardwood floors expand in the summer and contract during winter months. This should be taken into consideration during installation, like attaching trim and molding to walls instead of floors to allow for fluctuation.

Also, ask your contractor how long before you can walk on the flooring and how long before furniture and rugs can be placed on it.

For a free flooring consultation, call John Henson at SCI – Southern Coast Improvements at 843-421-9255.

February 27th, 2013  in Tips and Tricks of the Trade Comments Off

Looking at Windows in a Different Light

John painted these sunflowers.

If you let it, Spring will soon be blowing through your screen windows.

Replacing old windows is a good idea if your dream home list includes being able to open your space to the great outdoors, while being able to easily close it to dust and pollen.

Old windows can be made functional again, but most times it’s best to use them for decoration and spend the extra money to buy new. Sometimes you may even find it doesn’t cost that much extra for new windows when you consider the cost for scraping, reglazing and painting old windows.

Plus, look at all the creative ideas for making your old windows anything but a “pane.”

Here’s an article I wrote for CalFinder. Check out photos of 12 attractive windows made more fun than functional.




January 31st, 2013  in Upcycling & Reusing Comments Off

Random Tips #1 from SCI – Southern Coast Improvements

Here is a list of random tips especially for our SCI – Southern Coast Improvement readers, tips for around the house and on the road. Just call us Heloise’s helpers.

  • Twist ties from electronic and other purchases are long enough to tie around and organize electrical cords.
  • Dawn takes out greasy stains from clothes, as well as some collar and deodorant stains. Keep a small bottle in the laundry room for convenience. Be sure to test on an inconspicuous place on fabric, although I’ve never had it ruin anything.
  • To refresh during a long drive, take a wet washcloth in a plastic bag and wipe your face often.
  • Colored sink mats don’t discolor from coffee like the clear ones.
  • If you travel with pets, pack a dog bag similar to a diaper bag for babies. It’s convenient to keep food and water bowls, a blanket, and chew toys packed if you travel often. Just add food.
  • Same as with the doggie bag, if you’re a frequent traveler, buy two of everything and keep your makeup bag packed and ready to go.
  • Next time you visit a home improvement store, purchase a cobweb remover with an extended handle. It’s easy to brush the webs off windows and out of corners.
  • In between your dog’s baths, use Boot and Barkley Grapefruit Grove Deodorizing Dog Spray from Target. There are more expensive brands, but for $3.99 this one works fine to neutralize your pet’s odor. Spray on your dog’s fur and rub it in.
  •  Stock up on cleaning supplies like Soft Scrub and Magic Erasers under every sink so you’re not tempted to skip cleaning.
  • Clorox wipes work, wiping away grease from the microwave, toaster and stovetop. They’re handy on trips to sanitize hotel rooms.
  • Zep’s products are SCI’s brand of choice for cleaning windows and bathrooms. The mildew remover works overtime so be careful during application. It bleaches anything and everything.

Call if you need us @ 843-421-9255. Ask for John at SCI – Southern Coast Improvements.

November 19th, 2012  in Tips and Tricks of the Trade Comments Off

Flooring at its Finest


If you fall, I’ll be there.  ~ Floor

This quote comes from a funny Facebook poster that’s been circulating for months, and there is truth to it. You walk all over it. Dirty shoes, high heels, dog hair, furniture legs. You name it and your floor’s probably put up with it. All the while, it’s expected to be durable and look attractive.

The possibility that our high demands be met is more probable than ever because choices are virtually endless and flooring is long-lasting like never before.

HGTV Beautiful Kitchen Flooring Ideas showcase flooring that includes slate, concrete, and wood-look ceramic tile to bamboo and black leather. You read it right, black leather. HGTV highlighted these options for your cooking area, however, any one of them can be used throughout the house depending on the flooring’s water tolerance and its sturdiness if the area is high traffic.

Flooring specialists should be able to guide you in the right direction. Your contractor may also offer suggestions.

Money Crashers’ blog, featured in U.S. News, Forbes and Wall Street Journal, listed the top 6 floors: hardwoods, tile, laminate, carpet, vinyl, and cork. Their research includes cost, pros and cons, and the room best suited for the flooring.

Call SCI – Southern Coast Improvements at 843-421-9255 your free flooring consultation.


October 22nd, 2012  in Improving Your Space and Place Comments Off

Tide Tips: a funny story about a big mess

After a lot of cleanup.

If you’ve recently bought the newly designed Tide container that holds 150 ounces of laundry soap, run fast if you hear “Thud. Glunk, glunk, glunk.”

Placing Tide on top of our dryer worked fine for years, although probably not the wisest space-saving tip for a laundry room. However, my old-style square Tide container stayed put for the most part. If it wiggled when the clothes were drying, it only moved a quarter of an inch at most.

When the square Tide container was empty, I held onto it instead of recycling because the newly designed one didn’t sit quite right. Common sense said I should refill the old bottle with the new Tide.

Hindsight agreed.

Laziness said, “That’s too much trouble. The new bottle will be fine on top of the dryer.”

Guess what?

It wasn’t fine. It was a big blue soapy mess that splattered on a rug and shoes, ran under the dryer, and took 13 cloths to sop up whatever mess I couldn’t scoop with a manila folder (all I could think to grab). When I washed the cloths, the washing machine nearly overflowed with bubbles. After a week, the floor still feels like a Slip ‘n Slide when it gets wet.

I’m happy to share what I learned about safely using the newly designed Tide container (on the right).

Tide tip #1: If you want a bit of waterpark fun in your laundry room and the cleanest floor in town, follow my example to a T (appropriate letter, don’t you think?).

Tide tips #2, #3 and #4: If you care more about keeping Tide in the bottle until you need it for your clothes, follow one of these three tips.

  • Place your newly designed Tide container on a steady shelf, not the dryer top.
  • Refill the old-style square Tide container (on the left) with new Tide.
  • Buy a Tide container without a dispenser, store it on a steady shelf, and get used to pouring your laundry liquid.


View Miracle Montana Stain in Tide commercial from Super Bowl 2013.


August 29th, 2012  in Tips and Tricks of the Trade Comments Off

Why Choose a Custom Shower?

Design a custom shower and you’re only limited by your imagination.

Although custom showers typically cost about twice that of standard ones, customers agree it is money well spent on a space that is used daily, and to have the size and look you want.

Possibilities are endless including built-in seats, a short ledge for shaving your legs, multiple fixtures that spray in all directions, and nonstandard shapes. Accessories like storage racks, grab bars, and pocket shelves (shown in photo) can be installed wherever you like.

Almost any tile is shower-friendly. The choices range from travertine, marble and custom stone to tiles made from ceramic, porcelain and glass.

Another plus is custom showers can accommodate any space no matter how small or large. Here are some custom shower tips from HGTV.

To assure your custom shower is nearly maintenance free, ask for epoxy grout because it is stain resistant and durable. Read what This Old House says about epoxy grout.

Finally, take your custom shower to the next level with designs by Andi Pepperney, co-owner of Art Mosaics of the Carolinas in Murrells Inlet, S.C. One of her favorite mosaics (shown here inserted in a pocket shelf, photo used with permission) is the Onyx Calla Lily. Next on her list of blooms to create is an Onyx Orchid. The accent includes natural stone, porcelain and glass. Art Mosaics of the Carolinas digitally renders the design by computer for clients’ approval.

Call SCI – Southern Coast Improvements at 843-421-9255 for a free consultation, and ideas about adding a custom shower to your home.



Wallpaper and the Mold Behind It

Photo taken at an oceanfront condo where SCI removed wallpaper.

Property owners are becoming more aware of mold and mildew, and taking a peek to see what’s underneath their wallpaper. Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty picture.

Wallpaper was all the rage before folks thought much about mold and mildew. The Family Handyman says there are thousands of types of mold and mildew, so instead of trying to distinguish for this post, we’ll clump them all together and call it mold. A simple definition for indoor mold is a rude fungus that shows up uninvited, eats your stuff without asking, then burps and makes your home smell unpleasant.

Wallpaper offers a perfect breeding ground for mold, especially around the beach where the climate is highly humid. All mold needs is a cool, dark and humid place and off it grows. Plus, wallpaper acts more like a trap for moisture than a barrier, like you might think.

Years after its hanging, wallpaper often shows ugly signs of mold around the edges, which should make you wonder about its underside. Or worse, the mold goes unnoticed and it deteriorates your home and health before you realize what’s happening.

Mold has become so bothersome that some Myrtle Beach property management companies are telling homeowners either remove the wallpaper or their condos will be removed from the rental list.

Best practices:

  • Avoid putting up wallpaper in any room. However, if you must, be sure it is mold resistant even though there is no guarantee. There is also waterproof wallpaper, but again, it comes with no guarantee that it’ll remain mold-free.
  • Remove existing wallpaper by scoring the paper, then spray on a mixture of water and fabric softener, enough so that it soaks through to the adhesive.
  • Clean walls with a mixture of one part water and one part bleach. Let dry completely.
  • Prepare walls by applying a coat of mold resistant stain blocker.
  • Paint walls with mold resistant paint.

Call SCI – Southern Coast Improvements at 843-421-9255 for a free estimate on wallpaper removal and painting.



July 18th, 2012  in Improving Your Space and Place Comments Off