Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Are hardware superstores truly America's favorite shopping places on weekends? If they are, it's with good reason. We are a nation of homeowners. Even when we are not, we find reason enough to shop and behave as if we were. We look after our health and we look after our homes. We don't always have to look for a reason to shop for hardware either. Often enough there is a need. The doorbell doesn't work. The lock is loose. Extra shelves in the laundry room would eliminate the clutter gathering dust on the floor. The change might be either cosmetic or functional.

What wants doing might mean sprucing up the look of the kitchen without going so far as replacing cabinets. It might mean replacing door knobs as part of a decor change. Maybe you need to install a railing on the front steps. Almost without exception, however, doing anything about the house--or apartment, or condo--involves some kind of hardware.

Installing Hardware: What's Involved

It may be that you're not the handy repair person. You don't even want to think about the nitty gritty of installing hardware or fixing shelving to wall board. You want to write a check for the person who does think about it. If so, the one onus that is very much on you is to be sure of your choices. If you don't like it after it has been installed, you'll have to write a second check and start again at square one (less one).

If you are the fix-it type, you already know that three quarters of the work is planning and preparing. The adage "measure twice, cut once" raises its head and looks hard at you. You remember all the things you're supposed to remember.

What is the surface composition--whether wall or cabinet--and what fasteners are appropriate for it? What is the door frame that needs the new lock made of: wood, composite material, metal? Are the fasteners that come with your purchase right for the surface? How many fasteners do you need? What should they be made of to hold best--brass, stainless steel, treated plastic? How heavy a load will you be wanting the shelves to bear?

Choosing New or Replacement Hardware

Whether you do the work or someone else does, you still need to allot ample time. A good rule of thumb--and I speak from experience--is to make a conservative estimate and multiply that by three. Trust me. Any work done in the home, no matter how minor, will take two to four times as long as you think it should.

Remember that it doesn't matter who does the actual work. Decisions still have to be made. The variety of options is often overwhelming. It's your style and your choice. The important thing is that finding decorative hardware to reflect your style isn't as difficult as it might seem.

In fact, the choosing is the fun part. You're the kid in the proverbial candy store. The world is your market. Shopping is no longer restricted to your local Home Depot or Lowes or corner hardware store or upscale interior decor stores. Your options are wider if you look at online vendors as well.

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