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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
Prep Your Toolbox to Tackle Top Projects

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 01/17/13 -- (Family Features) The do-it-yourself (DIY) movement in home improvement continually grows stronger as a way for people to update their homes while saving money. Fueled by home-improvement shows and popular inspiration sites like Pinterest, homeowners nationwide are looking to get their homes in great shape and most likely increase their market value at the same time.

If you're one of those DIYers ready to get to work, you need to make sure you have the right tools for the job -- no matter what that job is. Here are some suggestions on the latest technology and products in home improvement to help you get the job done quicker and more efficiently, leaving more time to relax and enjoy your hard work.

You can find project guides, how-to videos, and buying guides for tools and more at

Painting Prep
Repainting a room is a quick, inexpensive home project that can make a dramatic difference. Before getting started, take time to choose the right paint, the right tools and to do the proper prep work.

Preparing a room for painting involves more than taping fixtures and trim and moving furniture. It's important to make repairs and clean and prime the walls before applying that first coat. Pre-gummed fiberglass repair tapes and premixed patching compounds allow you patch and paint in the same day. For an older home, wash walls with a trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution and a sponge.

Traditional brushes and rollers are tried and true, but the newest technological innovation on the market can speed up the process. A cordless paint sprayer, such as the Ryobi 18 Volt ONE+ ProTip Speed Sprayer, has a long-lasting, lightweight lithium-ion battery, a reversible spray tip that rotates to clear clogs quickly, and sprays latex paint as well as stain.

Organizing Your Life
Closet and garage organization systems increase the amount of usable storage space by using vertical space. Hanging rods, shelves and drawers are arranged to take advantage of every inch of space.

The key to installing these items is being able to get into corners and tough angles. For working in tight spaces, a right-angle drill can be useful. The Milwaukee M18 Lithium-ion 18 Volt Cordless 3/8-inch Right Angle Drill has a multi-position trigger and a compact head for use in small areas. The use of power tools with lithium-ion batteries, as opposed to traditional ni-cad batteries, can make the job easier -- the tools are lighter, the batteries last four times longer, and the charge doesn't fade so you have power for the entire job.

Cabinet Facelift
Kitchen cabinets can reflect the age of your kitchen with the wear and tear of daily use over time. But a few simple, cost-effective tweaks using the right tools can make your cabinets look new again.

By updating cabinet doors and replacing or installing drawer pulls and other hardware, you can change the look of your kitchen without the time and expense of a complete remodel. Try using a Ryobi 3/8-inch 12 Volt Cordless Lithium-ion Drill Kit to spruce up your kitchen with ease.

Renewing the Deck
Cleaning and brightening a deck is a simple way to improve your outdoor space. Old paint and stain should be scraped off the wood, and then the wood should be sanded. A stiff-bristle brush should be used to remove any flaking stain or dirt. For pressure-treated decks, an orbital sander can smooth out rough areas on deck boards, railings or stair treads. The Makita 18 Volt LXT Lithium-ion Cordless 5-inch Random Orbit Sander has three speed settings, and is designed for efficient sanding, fast material removal and a swirl-free finish.

Before cleaning and refinishing a deck, you need to check posts, supports and decking for loose, weak or damaged areas, then replace or repair as needed. To handle long or large screws and bolts, an impact driver, such as the Ryobi 18 Volt ONE+ Lithium-ion Impact Driver Kit, gives you power and control. Once the deck is clean and secure, a new stain or paint may be applied. Whatever finish is chosen should be rated for outdoor use, deck surfaces and UV inhibitors.

Project Clean Up
Whether you decide to take on one of these top projects or all, post-project clean up is an important step for all DIY tasks.

For small post-project clean ups, keep household wipes handy -- not only can you clean up any spills or smudges you made, you can clean up your hands, too. For bigger jobs, a wet/dry vacuum can do wonders. It can do all the traditional things a regular vacuum can, while also getting into hard-to-reach areas and cleaning spills and liquids. The Milwaukee M18 Lithium-ion 18 Volt Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum has a HEPA-rated filter that can be washed and does not need to be changed between wet and dry applications.

Top DIY Projects for 2013
The Home Depot's Facebook community is planning a lot of home improvements in 2013. Top projects include:
-- Painting
-- Organizing closet/garage
-- Installing new cabinets
-- Revitalizing a deck
-- Cleaning

Battery Buying Guide
When using power tools, the latest advancements in lithium-ion technology can make the job easier.

Lithium-ion is a technology that started in power tools in the home improvement sector and now crosses over to additional categories like outdoor power, paint and flooring. The battery's technology provides customers with a number of advantages over traditional ni-cad battery-powered tools.

Learn more about lithium-ion batteries at

-- Lithium-ion batteries produce a consistent charge throughout the life of the battery. Ni-cad batteries lose power as the battery runs.

-- Lithium-ion batteries can be charged many more times than ni-cad batteries, and are not damaged by leaving the charger on too long.

-- Lithium-ion batteries are lighter than ni-cad batteries, allowing for smaller, more powerful outdoor and power tools.

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