TIP OF THE WEEK

Finding a stud without equipment can be tricky. BobVila.com has some tips for those trying to hang an object the old-fashioned way - without a stud finder.

Before starting, there are a few things you need to know about walls: Typical stud spacing is 16 inches on center and even on older houses is rarely more than 24 inches on center; the majority of electrical boxes for switches and outlets are attached to a stud on one side; studs are on either side of a window; most trim is nailed on a stud; and actual lumber dimensions of 2-by-4 studs are 1½ inches by 3½ inches.

Because trim is typically nailed to studs, look for where your baseboards have been nailed. If you find a stud, measure in 16-inch intervals to find additional studs.

Locate an electrical box, like a switch or outlet. Since one side will be attached to a stud, use the “knock test” on either side to detect a stud. Then measure about 3/4 inches from the electric box. This will be the point from which you will measure out your 16-inch intervals.

You can measure out 16-inch intervals from the corner of the room, where a stud will be. This is a less reliable method as there will likely be a stud that is less than 16 inches from one corner. Use the “knock test” by tapping on the wall and listening for a solid sound.

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GARDENING

Clean up your garden before spring

Diseases and bugs dangerous to crops can overwinter in dead plant material. It is therefore important, according to gardening writer Diana Lockwood in The Columbus Dispatch, to clean up your vegetable garden now. Tyson Gregory, a horticulturist at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, suggests composting viable material and disposing of plants with obvious diseases or infestations.

If you’re not ready to call it a year quite yet, however, Gregory suggests planting garlic and onions. As long as they are able to establish roots, these plants can be harvested next summer.

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HOME BUYING

Repay or invest?

Many homeowners who have cash on-hand wonder if it’s better to repay some of their mortgage before the due date or invest the money. According to the Economic Times, it is almost always better to pay back more of your loan than you were planning. In general, it is good advice to clear your debts before saving. Long-term investments in an equity fund, however, can generate higher returns than the interest you are paying on housing loans. In cases like this, it would be a good idea to save. Before making any decisions, do your research and talk to a financial adviser.

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HOME RENOVATION

Consider stock cabinets

Custom kitchen cabinets are a big investment. According to HGTV, stock cabinets are significantly more affordable and are often available right away. Sold fully assembled or ready to be assembled, they can be installed yourself, saving you labor costs. Improvements in technology and materials have made stock cabinets more attractive and durable than they used to be. Stock cabinet showrooms allow renovators to pick the cabinets that work best for their kitchen footprint.

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