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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Get ready
Before starting any home improvement project, research and planning is the key to successful results.
Cool tools for the do-it-yourselfer
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Lighten up
Nickel-cadmium batteries freed do-it-yourselfers from tangled electrical cords, but they came with a price: weight. The batteries are often heavy and unwieldy for the average handyman or woman. Lithium-ion battery technology is light and powerful (it's the stuff that powers cell phones and laptops), but it had its own drawback, expense. But battery prices have come down by up to 50 percent, and many tools featuring the technology are now competitive in price with their nickel-cadmium counterparts. Here are a few tools where lithium ion makes a difference:

Drills: Drills are the workhorses, so getting one that's lighter and easier to use can be a benefit. Several companies, including Skil, Denali, and Black and Decker, sell drills with lithium technology.

I Driver I-Driver: If you're looking for a drill that you can maneuver into tight spaces, an I-Driver with a lithium-ion power cell offers lightweight maneuverability. Bosch has one model, and other companies will be rolling out similar tools later this year.

Circular sawCircular saw: If you're out building a deck, a cordless circular saw can be extremely useful, and if you're making a large number of cuts, the lighter weight offered by lithium ion can make a difference. Makita is one company that offers a lithium-powered circular saw.

A fresh coat
Painting is an inexpensive and effective way to spruce up a room. It's also popular. According to a 2006 Vertis Communications study, 48 percent of adults planned to do some interior painting over the course of the year. Painters have plenty of options beyond just color and choice of glossy or matte.

Color palettesColor palettes: Choice is a great thing, unless it's overwhelming. With some companies offering thousands of different shades of paint, just choosing the right colors for a space can be the most daunting part of the project. Canvas Corp. decided that less was more. It offers just nine shades of pre-mixed paint. Each paint shade is paired with the same shade wall putty, so fixing a nail hole in the wall doesn't require lugging out a gallon of paint, just a quick swipe with a putty knife.

Chalkboard paintChalkboard paint: Kids won't get in trouble for drawing on the walls if you've got them covered in chalkboard paint, which makes nearly any surface a canvas for chalk. Several companies offer it, including Chuck's Magic Chalkboard Paint and Benjamin Moore.

Environmentally-friendly paint: Whether you want to save the environment or just have cleaner air for a new nursery or an asthmatic family member, painting with low volatile organic compounds (known as VOCs) is a good choice. Several companies, including Olympic and Benjamin Moore, offer these low-odor paints.

Colorful options
As more women start testing their skills at DIY projects, they're looking to differentiate themselves from their male counterparts. One way they've started is with the colors of their tools and accessories, as well as design and comfort factors.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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