Phil Lifshin's Newsletter
Freshen Up Your Fireplace
It's getting chilly out there! If you've been thinking that your fireplace could use a facelift, there's no time like the present. Here are a few suggestions on how to give your fireplace a makeover before the coldest days of the year set in, so you can enjoy the new look all winter long.
1. Paint it
Nothing transforms a space more quickly and easily than paint, and that applies to fireplaces too. If you have outdated red brick on your fireplace, a few coats of white, black, or gray paint can transform it from an eyesore to a showstopper. You can knock this project out in an afternoon. First use a wire brush to clean the brick, then apply an oil-based primer, then apply the paint color of your choice. Done!
2. Whitewash it
A subtler touch than paint, whitewashing can lighten up a dark fireplace and brighten up a room in the process. With whitewashing, you'll skip priming the brick surface and simply apply a mixture of white paint diluted with water. Just make sure to test the mixture in an inconspicuous location on your fireplace before painting the entire surface.
"While painting over brick with 100 percent latex paint will give the brick a solid, opaque color, whitewashing mutes the brick's natural color with a translucent finish. The technique preserves the bricks' natural, random variations,” says Bob Vila.
3. Consider a stone veneer
With manufactured cast stone masonry blocks, you don't need to be a stone mason to get an incredible look for your fireplace. Cast stone blocks are manufactured in a variety of shapes and styles that mimic natural types of stone. The product looks like real rock but is easier to cut with a saw at home and is designed to bond to a surface with mortar.
While not exactly an afternoon project, adding a stone veneer to your fireplace can be tackled and completed in a weekend's time.
4. Add a floating mantel
Create a decorative focal point for your fireplace by adding a mantel. Options here are endless: use a solid wood beam for a cottage feel, match existing furniture with a manufactured shelf, or double up with an upper and lower deck. A floating mantel can be installed in an afternoon; just make sure to use proper anchors in whatever surface you're attaching to.
Hard vs. Soft Credit Inquiries
When you get a copy of your credit report, you'll see more than just your current and historical credit accounts. You'll see your payment history, including any payments made more than 30, 60 and 90 days past the due date, along with your account balances and credit limits. You'll also see credit inquiries.
A credit inquiry is simply an instance where you or a third party has looked at your credit report. Some credit inquiries can have an impact on your overall credit scores, but not all inquiries are so consequential. There are two types of credit inquiries – a hard and a soft inquiry.
Soft inquiries are common and somewhat frequent. The most common type of soft inquiry is one where a creditor is curious about offering you a new credit account, so they check your score to make sure you qualify. If you've ever received an offer for a credit card that's preapproved, that company has done a soft inquiry on your report.
Other types of soft inquiries include potential employers checking your credit, or when you check on your own score. It's important to understand that soft inquiries have no impact on your credit, but they will be noted on your report and can be done without your consent.
Hard inquiries occur when you apply for a loan, credit card, or mortgage and you've given written consent to a creditor to check your scores. Several hard inquiries in a row for a credit card can negatively impact your score, as this type of action may give the impression you're scrambling for credit ahead of some financial hardship. Multiple hard inquiries in a row from an auto, mortgage, or student loan lender are less likely to have a negative impact. In these instances, reporting agencies are more likely to assume you're “rate shopping,” and the multiple inquiries are viewed as a single inquiry.
Hard inquiries stop impacting your score after a year's time, but they will remain on your credit report for 24 months. While inquiries do play a part in assessing an individual's credit, they represent only about 10% of what goes into a credit score. Things like making payments on time and your overall debt burden have a far greater impact on the health of your credit reputation.