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The Appeal of Bamboo Flooring

Appreciated for its graphic patterns and environmental sustainability, bamboo flooring has become a popular option for homeowners in recent years. Is a bamboo floor the best choice for you? Let's look at the facts behind the trend.

Morning Star Anji Bamboo Flooring

Lumber Liquidators' Morning Star Handscraped Strand Anji Bamboo Flooring.

Floors are an essential and important element in an interior design scheme. Small wonder, then, that the eye-catching patterns of bamboo flooring have been attracting attention. Made from the bamboo plant—a grass—this style of flooring allows homeowners to make a bold design statement underfoot. Another reason for the buzz? Bamboo is considered an eco-friendly flooring option. “While bamboo flooring is unique and beautiful, it’s also a fast-growing grass that reaches maturity in four to six years,” reports Chelsea Fossum, a buyer for Lumber Liquidators. “This makes it a highly renewable resource that is gaining popularity in home design.”

How It’s Made
To make bamboo flooring, the stalks of the bamboo plant are cut into thin strips and bonded together in layers with the use of an adhesive resin. They can be layered horizontally, with the strips facing up to reveal the natural shape of the plant, or vertically, with the strips turned on their ends and pressed one against the other, resulting in a striated pattern. A third process, which creates a product known as “strand-woven bamboo,” involves shredding the bamboo stalks, mixing the fibers with adhesive, and pressing them together into highly durable flooring sheets.

Horizontal-grain, vertical-grain, and strand-woven bamboo flooring are commonly referred to as “solid bamboo,” because they are made up entirely of bamboo strips or fibers. Another option on the market is called “engineered bamboo,” which takes a thin strip of solid bamboo and adheres it to the top of another type of wood such as plywood or fiberboard. The main advantage of engineered bamboo is ease of installation; engineered planks can be floated above a subfloor without need of nails or adhesives, while solid planks are installed much like traditional hardwood.

Bellawood Spice Bamboo Flooring

Bellawood Spice Ultra-Strand Bamboo Flooring at Lumber Liquidators.

Colors and Patterns
Bamboo flooring is available in a wide range of colors from pale straw to deep mahogany tones and everything in between. Natural bamboo resembles light woods like ash and beech. To create other colors, bamboo can be stained or carbonized, a process that produces pleasing deeper hues. Carbonization, however, is thought to degrade the durability of bamboo floors, so darker colors may not be best for high-traffic areas.

The variety of patterns in bamboo flooring is truly one of its biggest draws for homeowners—from the natural silhouettes visible in horizontal-grain planks to the linear quality of vertical-grain planks to the graphic quality of strand-woven designs. Which variety to use in a room of your house will depend on your personal taste and the overall style of the space.

Care and Maintenance
Regular sweeping and occasional mopping with a damp cloth are all that’s needed to keep bamboo flooring looking its best. If your home has high foot traffic, pets, or young children, thoughtfully positioned area rugs may be a worthwhile investment. As with hardwood floors, placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs can help extend the life of bamboo.

Supreme Bamboo Horizontal Carbonized Flooring

Horizontal Carbonized Supreme Bamboo Flooring from Lumber Liquidators.

Cost
At about $3 to $8 per square foot, the price of bamboo is comparable to other flooring options such as hardwood, carpeting, or tile. It’s worth paying a little more for a higher-quality product for increased durability. Warranties are often a good indicator of quality; planks with a longer warranty are generally more durable. Households with young children or anyone with respiratory sensitivity will want to inquire about VOC levels before making a purchase, because the chemicals sometimes used in manufacturing can off-gas in the home. For some of the top-rated bamboo floors, click here.

To help you find the best pattern for a particular room, think about the other colors, fabrics, or finishes that will share the space with the bamboo floor, much as you would when considering paint swatches. More graphic patterns lend themselves to use in modern interiors, while simpler designs are typically suited to more traditional decor.

 

This post has been brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Expansion Tanks: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

When water is heated, it expands, increasing the pressure in closed heating systems. Over time, these pressure fluctuations can damage the system's components. An expansion tank is designed to alleviate this pressure and extend the life of your system. Here's how it works.

Expansion Tank Diagram

Expansion Tank Diagram: SupplyHouse.com

Homeowners looking to maximize the efficiency and life expectancy of their heating and cooling systems may want to consider installing an expansion tank as an easy and inexpensive means of regulating water pressure and preventing costly damage to other components, including pipes.

An expansion tank is designed to relieve pressure in both potable water and closed hydronic heating systems. It ensures that constant pressure is maintained within the pipes so they do not get damaged from excess pressure. “An expansion tank in a heating system is an invaluable component that protects the entire system from the increased pressure and volume caused by heating,” asserts Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com.

“When water is heated, it expands,” O’Brian explains. “In a closed heating system there is only so much space in the pipes and the boiler. If the water is taking up more space and has nowhere to go, the pressure will increase and possibly damage the system, generally at its weakest points, until a leak or even a burst pipe results. An expansion tank is designed to relieve the stress, thereby increasing the life of the components in your entire heating system.”

Extrol Expansion Tank

Extrol 4.4-Gallon Expansion Tank at SupplyHouse.com

Expansion tanks work by equalizing pressure throughout the system. An expansion tank is a small tank divided in two sections by a rubber diaphragm. One side is connected to the pipes of the heating system and contains water. The other side is dry and contains pressurized air, set at approximately 12 psi. As hot water enters the heating system, the pressure in the system increases. As pressure increases, the diaphragm in the expansion tank is pushed down. This compresses the air in the tank, creating more space for excess water to enter. This relieves excess pressure in the system and prevents pipes in the system from being damaged.

Installing an expansion tank is a relatively simple process that can typically be completed in less than an hour by a handy do-it-yourselfer. Some local building codes may require installation by a licensed plumber, however, so you should check with your municipal building department before proceeding with any installation.

Expansion tanks vary in capacity, ranging from tanks that hold as little as two gallons to large tanks that hold several hundred gallons. To determine the size needed for your system, online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a handy Expansion Tank Sizing Calculator on its Web site. Use it to determine the size and model of the expansion tank that’s best suited for your system.

Prices for expansion tanks start at about $30 for small residential tanks and climb up to $800 to $1,000 for larger, commercial tanks. Leading brands include Extrol expansion tanks, manufactured by Amtrol, which are used for hydronic heating systems; the Watts ET series and Bell & Gossett HFT expansion tanks, both designed for use with closed hydronic heating systems; and Therm-X-trol expansion tanks, for use with potable water open systems.

If your home already has an expansion tank in place, you may want to check it periodically to make sure that the tank is functioning. To check if the expansion tank is working properly, simply place your hand on the tank and feel its temperature. The top portion of the tank should feel warm to the touch, and the bottom portion of the tank should be room temperature. If the entire tank is warm, it is likely that the tank has completely filled with hot water, which occurs only if the diaphragm fails. If this happens, the tank must be replaced immediately.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of expansion tanks and accessories from the top manufacturers in the industry. To learn more, watch the video below or visit SupplyHouse.com.

 

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: The Insulation Perimeter

You can reduce your home's overall energy use by ensuring proper insulation. However, before adding extra insulation, consider these three options to make sure your home is energy-efficient.

With energy costs going up, more and more homeowners are considering adding insulation to reduce their energy use. Here’s what you need to know as you consider your options.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THE INSULATION PERIMETER or read the text below:

Insulation Perimeter

Photo: Lowe's

First, see if your utility company or state energy department offers free or low-cost energy audits. An energy audit will help you identify which parts of your home are most in need of help, and can help you prioritize the work you need to do.

If you do need to add insulation, remember that the goal is to create an energy-efficient perimeter around your living space. For example, you don’t need heat or air conditioning in an unfinished attic, so insulating the attic floor establishes the perimeter there. If your attic is finished, however, it doesn’t make sense to insulate the floor — your perimeter will be at the ceiling level.

Also keep in mind that well-insulated doesn’t mean airtight. Your home still needs to breathe, and it has an optimal number of “air changes per hour” depending on its size and the number of occupants. Your energy auditor will be able to tell you your home’s ideal number of air changes per hour, and how many it’s currently getting. Eliminating drafts will help close the gap and get you closer to the ideal.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Paint Concrete

You can brighten up a dull gray concrete surface with a bright coat of paint. All it takes is time—and some very careful preparation.

How to Paint Concrete

Photo: shutterstock.com

To paint concrete successfully—so that it looks good and lasts a long time—proper preparation is of paramount importance. If you follow the steps below, you can achieve satisfying results no matter what concrete you choose to paint, be it the garage floor, basement wall, outdoor patio, or any other part of your property.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Concrete filler
- Power sander with fine-grit disks
- Pole sander
- Trisodium phosphate or other alkaline cleaner
- Metal-bristled brush
- Paving paint or porch-and-floor enamel
- Paintbrush or roller
- Putty knife
- Protective gear (rubber gloves, dust mask, glasses)

STEP 1
When you set out to paint concrete, the process begins rather unglamorously with concrete filler. Use the patch compound to fill in all holes, scratches, and gouges in the concrete. After allowing sufficient dry time, sand the repaired areas until they are smooth.

STEP 2
Using a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and warm water, clean the surface thoroughly, removing all the oil and grease that would otherwise discolor the paint job. Work the solution into the concrete with a metal-bristled brush. To determine the proper ratio of TSP to water, read the package instructions, but figure on about one-quarter cup TSP to one gallon warm water. TSP can harm skin and eyes if it makes contact, so be sure to wear full protective gear.

STEP 3
As the TSP reacts with the concrete, you are likely to notice a slight bubbling across the surface. Let that bubbling continue for about 20 minutes, then hose off the concrete, completely washing away the TSP. Let the surface dry for two days. Afterward, run your hand over the concrete; it should feel like 120-grit sandpaper.

How to Paint Concrete - Roller

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 4
Sweep the area or wipe it down with a dry cloth, depending on the orientation of the surface. Now you’re ready to start painting. Use a paintbrush to apply an initial coat of paving paint (or porch-and-floor enamel) over the perimeter of the area. A regular medium-size paintbrush enables you to achieve good coverage in the corners and along the edges.

STEP 5
Next, use a paint roller to fill in the sections that you didn’t coat with the brush. If you’re painting a floor, remember to start on the far side of the room, so you end up finishing near a doorway or another convenient stepping-off point. In other words, don’t paint yourself into a corner! Let that first coat dry for at least 16 hours or so.

STEP 6
Putty knife in hand, scrape away any protruding lumps or bumps that appeared after the first coat dried. Sand any areas where the paint failed to adhere; if you do end up sanding again, don’t forget to sweep again too.

STEP 7
Apply the second coat in the same way that you applied the first. This time around, however, press down firmly with the roller, mashing the paint into the holes the first coat didn’t penetrate. Before considering the project complete, let the second coat dry for about five days, particularly if the painted surface is a heavily trafficked floor.


How To: Clean Cast Iron

It's such a strong and reliable material that you probably don't think too often about your cast iron pans, furniture, and other implements. You're right not to worry, because cast iron can last forever—if you care for it properly, that is. Here's how.

A durable material if there ever was one, cast iron occasionally requires cleaning, particularly where food preparation or moisture—and the rust it brings along—are concerned. To clean cast iron, you’ve usually got to put some elbow grease into it, but the good news is that properly cared for the metal can last a lifetime.

 

COOKWARE

How to Clean Cast Iron - Cookware

Photo: shutterstock.com

Don’t use soap to clean cast iron cookware: It can hurt more than it helps. Instead, fill the cast iron vessel with water, then place it on a hot stove. As the water starts boiling, use a spatula to scrape away lingering bits of foods. Next, rinse the skillet one more time, wipe it down with a dry cloth, and put it back on the burner until the water has evaporated. Note that seasoning cast iron (with palm or grape seed oil) helps cookware become more resistant to sticking and rust.

To clean cast iron that’s covered in rust, place the cookware in the oven, then run the appliance on its self-cleaning cycle. (Remember to remove all oven shelves and to support the cast iron away from the oven base—for example, on top of a ceramic mug.) Once the oven has completed its self-cleaning cycle, the rust and accumulated oil on the cast iron will have charred. It’s by no means glamorous work, but you should be able to scrub off that flaky black material with a dry towel.

 

FURNITURE

How to Clean Cast Iron - Furniture

Photo: shutterstock.com

To clean cast iron furniture blemished by a dusting of light rust, rub the affected areas with sandpaper, wiping it down afterward with a dry cloth to eliminate residual particles. Next, scrub the furniture with a solution of water and gentle detergent. Thoroughly dry the piece once it’s clean. If you are going to repaint, do so in two coats, allowing four or six hours to elapse between each coat. Seal cast iron furniture with a liberal application of car wax, buffing all over until it’s see-through.

 

GRILL GRATES

How to Clean Cast Iron - Grill Grates

Photo: shutterstock.com

Grill grates take a real beating. To clean yours, mix a solution of four parts water to one part apple cider vinegar. Continuously dip a steel-bristled brush into that mixture, as you vigorously scrub the grates, eliminating all buildup. Finish by wiping off the grates with a dry cloth. Repeat this procedure on a regular basis during the times of year when you frequently grill. If there’s rust, turn the heat up on the grill and leave it going until char forms on the iron before finally wiping the grates clean. Want to seal the grates against future accumulations? Cover them in a layer of cooking oil, then run the grill at medium heat for about 90 minutes.

 

FIREPLACE TOOLS

How to Clean Cast Iron - Fireplace Tools

Photo: shutterstock.com

The fireplace tools used to reposition burning logs in the fireplace inevitably get covered in soot. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to clean them. Spray on WD-40 3-in-One and give them a good scrub with steel wool, wiping dry to finish. After that, apply iron stove polish to protect the cast iron from moisture.


How To: Choose the Right Gutters

There is so much to consider when choosing new gutters, including shape, material, and cost. But don't overlook performance and quality, which will over time reward you with reduced maintenance and lasting beauty.

LeafGuard

Photo: LeafGuard Brand Gutters

Gutters are a critical component of a home’s drainage system, and like many exterior features, they’re subject to wear and damage. An important item on your spring maintenance checklist should be to examine and clean out the gutters. Regular cleaning and maintenance will go a long way toward getting the maximum lifespan out of your gutters.

If, however, your gutters are showing signs of severe wear—cracks, holes, and leaks, for example—or if they’re sagging or pulling away from the house or have numerous missing, loose, or bent fasteners, it may be time to look into replacement gutters. Experts point out that water damage to the roof, fascia board, decking, or rafters is a sure sign that gutters are due for replacement. “Most ordinary gutters last about 10 to 15 years,” explains Robert Lowe, director of operations for Englert LeafGuard, originators and makers of the only one-piece, seamless gutter system with built-in hood. “Dangerous water leaks and overflows can cause tremendous damage to a home, sometimes before homeowners are even aware of the problem.”

There are many types and styles of gutters on the market today, with the primary materials being aluminum, copper, steel, galvanized steel, zinc, and vinyl. Aluminum is the most prevalent gutter material and offers several advantages over other types. Aluminum is lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and available in a wide range of colors—and it’s also often the least expensive option.

Copper Gutters

Copper gutters. Photo: shutterstock.com

Other choices among the metals include galvanized steel gutters, which are coated with a layer of zinc; these gutters are strong but may be prone to rusting. Steel gutters also are available with a coating of aluminum and zinc, which alleviates the rust problem but is more expensive. Zinc gutters, yet another option, are also strong and durable, and normally do not require painting or finishing. Copper gutters are an extremely upscale and attractive choice, but cost substantially more than other metals.

Another inexpensive option is vinyl, which is available in a wide range of colors to match many types of vinyl siding. Vinyl gutters are not as durable as metal, however; they break down over time with exposure to sunlight and will therefore need to be replaced much more frequently. Additionally, vinyl gutters typically come in 10-foot sections, and the rubber seals used to join the sections can become brittle and leak.

Most professionals note that aluminum gutters offer the best combination of style, durability, and price. “As far as replacement gutters go, you want seamless aluminum gutters with a minimum thickness of .025 inches,” asserts Lowe. “There also are numerous options for ‘toppers’ for those gutters; the most common are solid hoods and filters. The different toppers each have their good and bad points. The solid toppers are the best, because they use the reverse curve or liquid adhesion model, which works the best. The downside to these types of covers is the installation process, which is generally handled by a subcontractor. These products install under the shingles, which can cause problems with roof warranties.”

LeafGuard

Photo: LeafGuard Brand Gutters

Anyone in the market for new gutters not only has to choose a material, but also has to select among a range of shapes, or profiles. The most popular is the “K-style,” or ogee, gutter, which has a shape similar to decorative crown molding. Fascia gutters, another alternative, feature a smooth face that performs the same function as fascia boards, hiding the edges of the rafter tails from view. Half-round gutters have an open construction with the open side facing the roof. This style has fallen out of favor, because it easily clogs with debris and then overflows. European-style gutter systems are typically half-round gutters made from materials that weather naturally, such as copper.

All gutters come in either sectional or seamless constructions. Most do-it-yourself gutters are sold in 10-foot sections that must then be linked together with snap-in connectors. The drawback to sectional systems is that the joints eventually leak. Seamless gutters, on the other hand, have seams only at the corners. Seamless gutters are typically made of metal and are extruded to custom lengths by professional installers using a portable gutter machine.

 

LeafGuard Brand gutters combine many of the attributes recommended by professionals, according to Lowe. They also carry the Good Housekeeping Seal. “Patented LeafGuard Brand gutters allow homeowners to say goodbye forever to cleaning gutters clogged by leaves and debris, because the one-piece gutter system features a built-in hood that covers the gutter bottom and deflects leaves and other debris,” Lowe adds. “This unique, seamless design keeps debris from collecting in your gutters, which keeps rainwater running freely and safely away from your home—each and every time it rains.”

 

This post has been brought to you by Englert LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Pro Tips: Basement Waterproofing

There are a variety of possible causes of a wet basement. Although structural problems are often to blame, poor drainage or plumbing leaks can also trigger moisture or flooding. Here, a basement waterproofing pro reviews the likely culprits and how they can best be dealt with.

Photo: All-Dry of the Carolinas

A clean, dry basement—there, doesn’t that sound nice? Yet the fact is, many of us live with basements that are damp, which makes them unpleasant to visit and inhospitable for our belongings. To find out what makes a basement damp and what can be done about it, we reached out to John Mitchell, owner of All-Dry of the Carolinas, a basement moisture problem-solver based in South Carolina. According to Mitchell, there are three common causes of flooded or damp basements: backfill saturation, surface water, and plumbing leaks.

BACKFILL SATURATION
Backfill saturation causes water to enter the basement due to what is known as the “Clay Bowl Effect,” says Mitchell, which is a result of the way in which your foundation was installed. First, a big hole was made in the earth and then the foundation was poured, leaving a gap between the foundation walls and the existing earth. That gap was filled with the soil that had been removed and “fluffed up.” Because this soil is looser and more aerated than the soil around it, which may have been compressing for hundreds of years, it tends to absorb more water than the compacted soil does, much like a sponge in comparison with a brick.

More water against your house leads to hydrostatic pressure. This basically means that water, which is heavy, presses up against your foundation and can then find its way in through cracks, windows, openings around pipes, or even through the concrete itself, which is porous.

Mitchell says that it’s possible to waterproof a foundation in the building stages, but that doesn’t always happen. “When a basement is constructed,” he says, “either a damp-proof or waterproof coating is applied to below-grade walls, then a footing drain with gravel is placed beside the foundation and drained to daylight before the gap is backfilled.”

DryTrak basement foundation drain

Photo: basementsystemsquebec.com

So what can go wrong? According to Mitchell, contractors will sometimes opt for damp-proofing rather than waterproofing to save money. But there’s an issue with that approach. “Damp-proofing, which can be sprayed on or applied with a paint roller or brush, will not bridge the cracks that result from the normal settling of your house.”

Waterproofing, on the other had, is much more effective because the coating is typically 40 millimeters thick and is either sprayed on or installed as a membrane.

So what can be done if you find out that your basement is leaking due to a structural problem? One solution Mitchell’s company recommends is the installation of a perimeter drainage system around the edges of the basement floor inside the house. Some of these systems involve jackhammering the concrete floor of the basement around the edges to install the drain, but other systems, such as DryTrak, can be installed above the floor. Both systems allow water to enter but then quickly collect it and funnel it away to a sump pump that delivers it to an adequate drainage site outside the home.

SURFACE WATER
Other issues that could lead to a moist basement include incorrect grading and drainage around the home. Mitchell explains: “The perimeter footing drain may be installed too high and may not drain to daylight. Not having used enough gravel may be part of the issue since gravel is expensive. Another possibility is that the gutter’s downspouts may not extend beyond the backfill or gutters may be clogged and overflowing onto the backfill. Or the grade may leave surface water pooling next to the house, and as this water enters the backfill it can carry loose soil particles to the footing drain, at some point clogging the drain and giving you backfill saturation. Surface water can also cause basement flooding by running or pooling next to the house and running over the foundation wall. This is why good grading and extending gutter downspouts away from the house is important. Have your gutters cleaned after the leaves stop falling,” he advises.

If your water leakage problem isn’t foundation-wide, a basement waterproofing expert can determine if it’s entering through cracks in the floor or windows and repair those cracks to keep it from coming back.

PLUMBING WOES
Sometimes water in the basement isn’t the fault of the foundation. The moisture may simply be due to a leaky water heater or pipe. “Leaking water heaters, plumbing leaks, and burst washing machine hoses are the leading sources of homeowner insurance claims,” says Mitchell.

So how to combat these plumbing problems?

Mitchell advises: “You could put the water heater in a containment system with a water watch alarm to issue a warning should it begin to leak. You could put a quality hose set on your washing machine rather than the five dollar set of hoses that the washer came with. You could also have a sump system in the low spot of the basement with an airtight floor drain incorporated into the lid of the sump. This would keep your basement from filling up with water should a leak occur in your domestic water system.”

This is certainly a wise move. Mitchell notes that “a burst washing machine hose with 50 pounds of pressure will flow 500 gallons per hour,” which could quickly turn your basement into a swimming pool. And while an in-home pool might sound nice, that’s probably not the best way to go about getting one.


Bob Vila Radio: Indoor Herb Gardens

There are no fresher herbs than those you've grown at home. Besides decorating the windowsill, indoor herb gardens enable you to keep flavorful herbs on hand year-round.

Fresh herbs add flavor, fragrance, and sophistication to your cooking—and they can’t get much fresher than those you have grown yourself. A good way to keep fresh herbs on hand, whatever the season, is to maintain an indoor herb garden.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON INDOOR HERB GARDENS or read the text below:

Indoor Herb Gardens

Photo: bonnieplants.com

There are many advantages to growing herbs indoors. For one, your crop is always nearby—no need to go foraging outside—and you’ll have herbs available year-round. You won’t need to weed, and you’ll have fewer pests to worry about.

On the minus side, however, herbs grown indoors tend to be less lush and flavorful than their outdoor counterparts. And as indoor space tends to be limited, you need to plant selectively.

The right location and soil are crucial to success. Herbs need lots of sunlight—as much as six to eight hours each day—to thrive. If you don’t have appropriate south- or southeast-facing windows, consider grow lights.

For best results, use a soil-less potting mix and water carefully whenever the medium is dry to the touch. Either plant each type of herb in a separate container or group together herbs that have similar watering needs.

Harvest frequently to encourage growth and discourage blooming (but more lightly than you would an outdoor plant). And bon appétit!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weekend Projects: 5 Easy and Elegant DIY Canopy Beds

Do you crave the romance and coziness of a canopy bed? Then try out one of these accessible variations on the traditional canopy. You'll be sleeping in style in no time.

We tend to think of canopy beds as being romantic, glamorous, and perhaps a bit showy. Yet their origins are humble. Back in the Middle Ages, people cordoned off their sleeping areas behind fabric in order to deter pests and insects. Today’s homeowners choose canopy beds for a variety of reasons, but practicality usually isn’t one of them. These billowy sanctuaries have remained popular mainly due to their decorative value. If you’ve always wanted your own private canopy, be heartened by the fact that it’s actually pretty easy to transform a regular mattress and frame into a DIY canopy bed that’s replete with magic and mystery, comfort and calm.

 

1. JUMP THROUGH HOOPS

DIY Canopy Bed - Hoop

Photo: acasadava.com

Create a DIY canopy bed using little more than a basic embroidery hoop and a pair of store-bought or homemade curtains. Fit the fabric panels onto the hoop, then hang using hardware (a pot rack hook works well). Get the tutorial from Country Living; so long as you already have the curtains, the project should cost only about $10.

 

2. PULL THE CURTAIN

DIY Canopy Bed - Curtain Rod

Photo: bargainhoot.com

Surround your bed with a 360-degree fabric canopy—inexpensively, and without modifying your headboard, bed frame, mattress, or box spring. It’s as simple as mounting curtain rods to the ceiling; the rods should echo the shape and size of your bed. Once the rods are in place, add gauzy curtains to each side, and voilà!

 

3. JUST HANG OUT

DIY Canopy Bed - Modern

Photo: elementsofstyleblog.com

Display a graphic textile in this modern, minimalist take on a DIY canopy bed. Install a grommet in each corner of the fabric, string rope through each hole, and then tie the panel to the ceiling by means of hooks or screws. Bear in mind, this idea can work in many rooms: You can cast a cozy vibe not only in a bed, but also over a couch or chaise.

 

4. MAKE IT SWING

DIY Canopy Bed - Swing Arms

Photo: bhg.com

Here’s another way to make a lovely, low-cost DIY canopy bed using hardware originally designed for window treatments. Fasten a pair of swing-arm curtain rods to the wall a few inches below the ceiling, one on either side of the bed. To complete the look, loosely drape a swag of fabric across the bed from one rod to the other.

 

5. CLIMB THE LADDER

DIY Canopy Bed - Ladder

Photo: chippingwithcharm.blogspot.com

Chipping with Charm offers up a solution for those who love the concept of a DIY canopy bed but don’t love frilly home design. Mount a vintage ladder over the bed—granted, that’s no easy feat—then weave fabric through the ladder rungs. Alternatively, hang panels only on the ends of the ladder for a more open and uniform aesthetic.


Bob Vila Radio: Why Have a Raised Garden Bed?

For those with poor soil, limited green space, or physical limitations, raised garden beds offer a number of persuasive benefits.

Growing plants in raised beds is a tradition that goes back at least hundreds of years. Here are five reasons why a raised garden bed might be a good idea for you today.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A RAISED GARDEN BED or read the text below:

Raised Garden Bed

Photo: windowbox.com

First, a raised bed is a solution to poorly drained soil. It’s tough to get good results from a garden when the soil is heavy clay or wet and marshy. A raised bed allows you to control the moisture in the soil.

Second, if your soil is thick with roots from nearby plants or trees or is plagued with weeds, a raised bed lets you rise above it all. Your plants will grow stronger if they’re not competing with roots and weeds.

Third, raised beds are great in gardens with limited space, since the rich, concentrated environment produces higher yields than in-ground garden plots.

Fourth, if your lawn (or your neighbor’s) has been chemically treated, planting your herbs or tomatoes in organic soil in a raised bed can help keep them away from insecticides and pesticides.

Finally, a raised bed is a good idea for gardeners with bad backs or other physical limitations, since it can bring the garden space closer to you, so you don’t have to bend so much to reach it.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.