Renovation & Design

Renovation & Design

Good as wood

Marc LaBossiere
June 26


Renovation & Design

Helpful hints to cruise through summer

Run ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer to optimize energy use. Switch to the opposite direction in the winter. — Bob

Apply toothpaste to stop itches caused by mosquitoes. Maybe this will be the year of no mosquitoes? — Verna

If you do not own an air-conditioner, hang a bed sheet over an open window and spray it with water. The result is evaporative cooling and very helpful during hot summer days. — Bob

Chew peppermint gum to reduce the chance of car sickness. — Alanda

Sprinkle coffee grounds outside near doorways. Coffee’s high nitrogen detracts bugs, so they won’t walk across it and into your home. — Alanda

Add bathtub appliques to the bottom of kiddie pools to add grip to the bottom of the pool. — David

As a way to decorate for an outdoor party and keep drinks cool, I fill balloons half full of water. Freeze the balloons and add them to a bucket to keep drinks cool. — Sandra

For tender meat, add salt about 30 minutes before grilling. — Chef John

Fill clean spray bottles with cooled green tea. Chill in the fridge, and spray on yourself for refreshing, body cooling relief. — Sandra

To hull strawberries, use a straw. Hold the strawberry stem-side down and poke a straw into the bottom of the berry. Push it all the way through until the stem pops out the other side. — Marc

After a day at the beach, sprinkle baby powder over arms and legs. Sand will brush off easily, making cleanup quick. — Alanda

Clean the grill with foil, scrunch up some foil to about the size of a golf ball. Using tongs, scrape the foil ball over the hot grates to remove all the charred bits and greasy grime. Once you’re finished, brush the grill with oil so it’s ready to go for next time. — Denise

Stick a mini thermometer to the inside of your cooler, this can help you gauge how warm your food’s getting — and when you’re better off tossing it, for safety reasons. — Oliver

When barbecuing always pat your meat dry on both sides with a paper towel before grilling. Wet meat won’t sear. — Chef John

Make your trampoline safer by cutting up a pool noodle and covering the springs of the trampoline with sections of pool noodle. — Elaine

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website:

Reena Nerbas
June 12

Renovation & Design

Hardware cloth a good way to keep rodents at bay

Question: What type of screening would you recommend for a screened porch, with no glass, to keep out squirrels? This is for a cottage at the lake where the squirrels chewed a hole in the metal screen and then proceeded to try and invade the cottage, itself. Fortunately, we caught it early on and were able to oust the persistent critter.

We are now looking for ways to prevent another such incident.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Shirley Bestvater.

Answer: Installation of more rigid metal materials may be the only way to prevent squirrels, and other pests, from entering your cottage through your screen porch, while you are not there. Unfortunately, these will alter the look of your bug-screen only room, and may not be to your satisfaction, aesthetically. In that case, the solution may be to ensure the screens are in perfect condition and immediately replace any that are in any way deteriorated.

Keeping pests out of your summer home can be a challenge, especially when you are not there to observe these potential invaders at all times. While tree and ground squirrels may be some of the most bothersome, they are not the only naturally occurring creatures that we have to contend with. The reason you have screens on this room, in the first place, is primarily to prevent insects from entering your living space.

Most annoying may be mosquitos, which can be quite pervasive in lake country due to large areas perfect for breeding in the hot, humid summer conditions. Aside from preventing accumulations of standing water near your property, which can be excellent breeding sites, there is not much that can be done to stop mosquitos. So, the next best option is to prevent their easy entry into your domicile. The best method for this is to ensure there are no openings in the building enclosure that will easily allow them to fly in. Because we want as much open space as possible, and to ensure adequate ventilation for natural cooling, we often have large open porches, decks, or verandahs. Especially after dusk, these open areas are a magnet for mosquitoes and other flying insects, so we often screen in these locations for comfort.

Because of the large areas of screened sections of a typical porch or verandah, it may be difficult to install rigid and durable enough screens to prevent damage. Tree limbs and debris, rain, snow, and even mechanical damage from pets and human occupants can weaken these screened windows. Once weakened, they may be more susceptible to entry by rodents and other critters with sharp claws and teeth. The best method to prevent this, especially when the cottage is not occupied, is to install large windows. These could be proper ones with sealed units, or single-pane storm windows, but should have glass fully enclosing the openings when not in use. When closed, these will ensure that no small pests enter the building by damaging the screens, but will also prevent deterioration inside the porch due to precipitation. The two negative aspects of this are loss of some ventilation and the obvious cost.

If full windows are not in the cards, and you desire to maintain the screen-only aspect of your porch, installation of new metal mesh will be a must. Often, pests gain entry through screens that are partially damaged or deteriorated. If you have older screens, they may be corroded, sagging, loose, or otherwise worn out. In that case, it may be very easy for an enterprising squirrel to locate the defect and exploit it. The first item should be to ensure the screens are in top notch condition, or they should be replaced right away with new aluminium screens. These metal screens will be fairly durable and corrosion resistant, as well. If they are properly installed, with limited slack, it may be sufficient to send the local rodent population in search of easier prey.

If you are looking for a more durable alternative, you could add a second layer of metal mesh to the screened sections. The best product I have found for this is often referred to as "hardware cloth". This aluminium mesh has square openings often ranging from around 10 to 25 mm. These are too large to stop insects, but the heavier gauge of this material is ideal for prevention of damage by small mammals. So, the solution is to use this in combination with traditional bug screening, to reinforce a weaker screened window. The downside is that this may dramatically alter the aesthetics of the room, to the point where it may be difficult to easily see through to the exterior. This may partially defeat the purpose of the screens, and may not be an acceptable option, even though it will stop the squirrel intrusion.

Installation of addition reinforcing material inside your existing screen windows may be one way to prevent future damage and entry from local rodents, but may look bad enough to search for alternatives. The simplest defence may be to regularly inspect the existing metal screens and rapidly replace any that are showing signs of wear or corrosion, with new aluminium screening, to prevent easy damage by industrious squirrels.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba ( Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at

Ari Marantz
June 12

Browse Homes

Browse by Building Type