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INFOGRAPHIC: Sober Uses for Beer & Booze Around the House

These boozy alternatives can easily stand in for store-bought cleaning supplies. So rather than let that bottle linger for years in the back of your liquor cabinet, put it to "sober use" in your home today.

An outstanding perk of hosting friends and family for a potluck affair can be the copious volume of alcohol left over. But if you’re not much of a drinker—of if any of the extras don’t suit your taste—there’s an option besides letting the bottles gather dust in the nether regions of your cabinets. As it turns out, beer and booze work as well as—or perhaps even better than—products you’d normally need to purchase prior to tackling a handful of tasks in and around the home. Dubious? Then spare a few drops of that liquid courage and have fun experimenting with these “sober” alternative uses for beer and vodka, whiskey and gin. Cheers!

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How To: Apply Epoxy Floor Paint

Give your dingy old garage floor a gleaming, long-lasting finish with epoxy paint.

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Paint - TailoredLiving

Photo: tailoredliving.com

You lavish attention on the bedroom and living room, bathroom and kitchen, but what about the unsung hero of many smoothly functioning households, the garage? If you’ve always been underwhelmed by the bland gray of the concrete slab, there’s a great way to give it a literally lustrous new look: epoxy paint. No, regular paint isn’t a terrible idea, particularly if you rarely set foot in the garage. But if yours tends to get busy, either with foot traffic or comings and goings of at least one car, opt for epoxy paint. This stuff is tough and resistant to grease, oil, various chemicals and all manner of scuffs—in other words, the litany of challenges that would ruin a regular paint job. Plus, epoxy paint boasts a distinctive, gleaming appearance. Best of all, it’s easy to apply. Here’s how it’s done.

First things first: Check the weather report. More important than the air temperature, however, is the temperature of the concrete you are painting. Its surface should be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming conditions are prime, proceed to strip off any old paint that exists on the surface, and remove any oil or grease stains that would compromise the epoxy finish. For those stubborn stains, I recommend using the forceful combination of a degreaser and scrub brush.

Once you’ve gotten the slab pretty clean, wet down the whole floor with a mixture of water and degreaser. Follow up with an electric floor scrubber, continuing until you see a healthy head of suds. That’s a sign that you’ve really gotten somewhere. Now, plug in a wet/dry vac and suck up as much of the moisture as possible. (Don’t empty the vacuum bucket, which now contains degreaser, in your yard. Check the product label and heed its advice for proper disposal.)

How to Apply Epoxy Floor Paint - Flake Detail

Photo: sundek.com

Epoxy adheres best to an etched concrete surface. That being the case, you must take the time to prepare the slab before you can begin applying the coating. Cover the floor with a 10-to-1 mixture of water and muriatic acid, then go over it a second time with the electric scrubber. Caution: Muriatic acid is dangerous. Closely follow the printed instructions, and be sure to wear all suitable protective gear.

Next, hose off the floor thoroughly. Allow the concrete to dry overnight. In the morning, it should have a slightly rough surface, with a consistency similar to that of sandpaper. It’s now ready for paint.

Epoxy comes in several varieties, the most common being solvent-based or water-based. Many commercial outfits choose solvent-based epoxies, because they are especially strong. The downside is that their fumes are highly toxic. Water-based epoxies are almost as good and produce no toxic fumes. So in residential use, it’s really best to stick with the latter. But note that if you opt for a solvent-based epoxy, it’s of paramount importance that you wear a respirator when working with the product.

Whether solvent- or water-based, epoxy paint usually requires the mixing of two components—resin and hardener—prior to painting. Mix thoroughly, using an electric drill chucked with a stirring bit. Once the epoxy is ready, you can finally begin to paint the floor, much in the same way you’d paint other surfaces.

Brush paint around the perimeter, then use a roller to cover the rest of the floor, section by section. In the interest of tidiness, keep a collection of rags handy. Use them to remove any misapplied paint. Epoxy thinner must be used with a solvent-based product; otherwise, water does a fine job. Let the first coat dry for at least a day before applying the second, final coat. You’re very close to finished now.

To dry out completely and cure, epoxy needs to sit undisturbed for as long as a week (confirm this with the printed instructions on the container of your chosen epoxy paint product). Only after the recommended amount of time has elapsed should you haul your stuff back into the garage. Yes, that’s inconvenient. But when you pull in the car, you’ll love how it looks parked—like a model in a showroom!


To Breathe Easy at Home, Install an Air Cleaner

Maintaining good indoor air quality is crucial to your family's comfort and health. If you're concerned about pollutants in your home—or even just fed up with persistent odors—maybe it's time to clear the air.

Whole-House Air Cleaners

Photo: supplyhouse.com

The air in your home may not be as fresh as you think it is. If you’re not careful, indoor air can harbor not only benign entities, such as mustiness or a foul odor, but also bona fide pollutants that can exacerbate allergies and negatively impact your health over the long term.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites a long list of contaminants that are commonly found in households around the country. These include, among other things, smoke (from tobacco or cooking), dust, mold and mildew, and emissions from combustion sources (oil, gas, kerosene, coal, and wood), not to mention pollution from building materials and furnishings—paint, insulation, carpeting, and pressed wood among them. To protect yourself and your family from the legitimate threats to health posed by any of these indoor pollutants, the EPA recommends two courses of action: Prioritize good ventilation, and eliminate pollutants through the use of an air cleaner (also known as an air purifier). These appliances are designed to do one thing only, and that is to directly remove toxins from circulation.

Whole-House Air Cleaners 2

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Indoor air quality takes on paramount importance during heating and cooling seasons, when homeowners tend to keep the windows closed, and natural ventilation comes to a standstill. “If you have a furnace or ducted air conditioning system, an in-line air cleaner is a no-brainer,” points out Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “The air circulating through your home can be full of dust, dander, mold, and other unpleasant particulates that can affect you negatively. An in-line cleaner blocks these particles from continuing to go around your ductwork and into the air you breathe. It also helps keep these particles from getting into your heating and cooling equipment, which could help prevent costly problems down the line.”

The in-line air cleaner O’Brian refers to is related to, but much more powerful and sophisticated than, the air purifiers you’ve seen in your local home center. Those small, portable units can be reasonably effective in one room, but people don’t live in just one room. Although you could buy a portable unit for every room on every floor of your house, the better investment is a single, larger model that can serve the whole house. Most such air cleaners attach to your existing HVAC system, but that’s where their similarities begin and end. SupplyHouse.com and other leading distributors offer a range of whole-house air cleaners that use different methods to remove airborne contaminants. Here’s a rundown of the most common air-cleaning technologies:

Electrostatic attraction: Air flows through an ionized sector within the filter. Here, particles are imbued with an electrical charge. The charged particles accumulate on a series of flat plates in an oppositely charged collector. The particles are neutralized, leaving clean air to flow out from the appliance.

• Ion generation: These air cleaners work similarly to electrostatic devices. Ionizers disperse charged ions into the air, which attach to airborne particles, giving them a charge so that they attach to nearby surfaces (for example, walls and furniture). These charged particles are then cleaned up in the course of everyday housekeeping.

• HEPA filtration: When combined with a forced-air furnace or air handler, a HEPA filter-based purifier passes air through a series of filters, each of which plays a role in capturing impurities. There are also HEPA systems that run independently of the HVAC system. These can be mounted in an attic, crawl space, or closet.

In addition to removing contaminants that can exacerbate allergies and asthma, air cleaners can help reduce or eliminate unwanted odors from the home, without the use of artificial fragrances, perfumed candles, or other products that simply mask odors rather than eliminate them. Using an air cleaner instead of a commercial fragrance product to get rid of smells reduces the amount of chemicals in the indoor environment and can help create a healthier and fresher home.

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


Bob Vila Radio: How to Relocate a Young Tree

You're having second thoughts about the placement of a sapling. No worries. So long as it's still relatively small, you can move a tree to a new spot on your property. Here's how.

Ever come to the frustrating conclusion that you’ve planted a young tree in exactly the wrong place? Here are some tips on how to move it without losing it.

How to Move a Tree

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Prep the new location first. The hole should be about twice the width of the root ball. Depth should be about grade level. As you’re digging out the bottom of the hole, you’ll want to resist the urge to loosen the soil. Loose soil can cause the tree to sink too low over time, and that can lead to rotting.

Next, remove the tree by starting with your shovel about three feet from the trunk. If you have to cut roots, use sharp pruners. When you’ve managed to get the root ball loose, hoist the tree up onto a tarp and drag it to the new location.

Lower the tree into the new hole and gradually add soil and water. Create a wide berm around the tree and add a couple inches of mulch. Then get your hose going. The tree will need plenty of water until it’s settled into the new spot.

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.


Transform and Protect Your Deck in a Single Coat

Improving the looks and longevity of your wood deck has never been easier for the weekend do-it-yourselfer, thanks to a new product from Thompson's WaterSeal.

Thompsons Waterproofing Stain - Finished Deck

Photo: thompsonswaterseal.com

Your deck was no small investment: If you haven’t been taking good care of it, now’s the time to give your deck the care it needs to look great and last long. If exposure to the elements has caused your deck to turn gray or acquire mildew, or if the boards have begun to crack and split, you’re in luck. A new Waterproofing Stain from industry leader Thompson’s WaterSeal can not only protect your deck from further damage, but also add rich, beautiful color.

Thompsons Waterproofing Stain - Finishing Process

Photo: thompsonswaterseal.com

It’s a one-step product. That means a single coat provides the superior waterproofing for which Thompson’s WaterSeal is known, along with a stain to transform the appearance of your deck. Choose from five popular colors: Acorn Brown, Harvest Gold, Maple Brown, Sequoia Red or Woodland Cedar. Then select your preferred level of opacity—transparent, semi-transparent, or solid. Stains with more pigment will last longer, but show less of the natural wood grain. Transparent stain is guaranteed for three years, semi-transparent stain is guaranteed for four years, and the solid stain is guaranteed for five years.

Preparation and application are easy. Clean the deck thoroughly first. A ready-to-use deck cleaner makes this step pretty painless. Simply apply the cleaner, allow it to work for about 10 or 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Normally, you’d need to wait for the deck to dry out completely, but not with this product.

The next step is to measure the square footage of your deck. That determines how many gallons of stain are required (each gallon covers up to 400 square feet). You can buy it and be on your way. Thanks to its pigment-suspension technology, there’s no need to wait for the Waterpoofing Stain to have its turn in the paint shaker. Open up the can on any day with a temperature between 50 and 90 degrees, and the finish is ready to for application via brush, roller, or pad.

If you’ve ever painted outdoors before, you know that clean-up can be a hassle, but that’s not the case here. The Waterproofing Stain is latex-based, which means it washes off with nothing more than soap and water. Drying time for the stain varies depending on the weather. But in normal conditions, it takes only a couple of hours. Leave it overnight, and the next day your deck will appear as though brand-new, and it will be totally ready for you to start enjoying it!

This post has been brought to you by Thompson’s Waterseal. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Stinky Situations: What to Do If You’ve Been Skunked

An unfortunate encounter with a skunk can mean weeks of a lingering stink. But with the right combination of cleaners, you can neutralize the odor on your body, your clothes, and inside your home before the day's over.

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell

Photo: shutterstock.com

The stench of a skunk attack—it’s unmistakable, even when you’re in the passenger seat of a car, with the windows closed, driving through a neighborhood sprayed hours prior. But what do you do when there’s a skunk smell in your own backyard or worse, actually inside your house? Well, for one thing, you’ve got to act fast, ideally within an hour or two of the spray. If neglected, that foul odor could linger for months on household textiles, everything from bed linens to furniture upholstery. It can even wind up on your skin! Fear not: There are effective ways to neutralize the odor. To get rid of skunk smell for good, read on.

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell - View 2

Photo: shutterstock.com

Scenario 1: Your Clothing Stinks
Hydrogen peroxide ranks as perhaps your best weapon against the scourge of the skunk. Because it can damage the fibers of your clothing, however, it must be diluted prior to application. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with six parts water, then soak your clothing in the solution for an hour or two.

If the affected piece is delicate or dry clean only, skip the peroxide, opting instead for a staple of the pantry—vinegar. Though somewhat less effective than the alternative, vinegar works reasonably well to get rid of skunk smell, and it’s much less harsh. If you’re cleaning your clothes in a vinegar bath (one part vinegar, four parts water), leave the garments to soak a little longer, for as long as three hours.

Once the recommended soaking time has elapsed, place your clothing into the washing machine, adding a half-cup of baking soda to your usual cycle. Finally, if you can, let the clothing dry outside. Believe it or not, the sun’s ultraviolet rays work to further break down any odor that still remains.

Scenario 2: Your House Stinks
To get rid of skunk smell indoors, place open containers of vinegar in room corners or adjacent to any affected furniture. The vinegar should work to absorb odors over the course of the next day or two.

For tile or stone countertops, scrub with diluted bleach (following the instructions printed on the bleach container). For wood, use water and ammonia. And for harder-to-wash materials, such as fabric curtains or wall-to-wall carpeting, think about hiring a steam cleaning service (or renting the tool).

Scenario 3: You Stink—or Your Pet Does
If you or your pet has been sprayed, grab the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing detergent. (If you’re outside when sprayed, send a family member indoors to retrieve the supplies.) Mix a quart of three-percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter- to half-cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. Dip a rag into the solution, using it to rub yourself down or to wash your pet. Avoid the eyes and any sensitive area. When you’re finished, dump the mixture; it shouldn’t be stored (this potent brew can actually destroy its container).

No matter the game plan, do your best to air out the house by opening windows, using fans, and changing your HVAC filters. Most of all, remember that addressing the skunk smell immediately can save you days of multiple showers and endless household cleanings. This, too, shall pass!


How To: Paint Metal

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to revitalize and protect your household metals. You'll just need a few tools and as always in DIY painting projects, a focus on prep work.

How to Paint Metal

Photo: shutterstock.com

A fresh coat of paint can brighten the look and prolong the life of metal surfaces in and around your home. Painting metal is no more or less difficult than painting other surfaces. And, as with other paint jobs, whether you’re painting a vintage desk or an aging fence in the yard, your success will largely depend on how much effort you put into the prep work. Sorry, no shortcuts. But here’s the good news: Follow the steps below, and the paint job can be expected to last and look great for years.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Stiff-bristled wire brush
- Sanding block or fine-grit sandpaper
- Drop cloth
- Clean cotton cloths
- Spray primer
- Spray paint
- Protective gear (safety glasses and dust mask)
- Clear spray lacquer (optional)

STEP 1
Start by inspecting the metal surface you intend to paint. Assuming that it’s portable, move the item to a well-ventilated space where you have prepared a drop cloth-covered work area. Inspect the metal for cracks and peeling or chipped paint. You will probably find no shortage of surface imperfections, but don’t worry—these can be removed by means of a wire brush (if the rust doesn’t budge, consult these instructions). To be on the safe side, wear a dust mask as you work.

How to Paint Metal - Corrugated Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Having removed all rust and old paint—or as much as it was humanly possible to remove—proceed to sanding the metal. Use either a sanding block or a square of fine-grit sandpaper. (Here, too, it’s wise to wear not only a dust mask, but also protective glasses.) After sanding the metal, wipe it down with a moistened cotton cloth, using it to clean all the sanding dust off the surface. Before continuing onto the next step, wait for the metal to dry out completely.

STEP 3
Apply a specially formulated metal primer. If the object you are painting doesn’t have a smooth surface—if it features lots of nooks, crannies, and crevices—opt for spray primer. Otherwise, use a brush or roller to apply traditional primer, choosing one or the other tool based on the surface area. Check the instructions on the product you’ve chosen, but generally speaking, primer needs about 24 hours to dry.

STEP 4
Now it’s finally time for paint. Use a brush or roller, or use a spray paint formulated for application on metal. Apply several light coats, letting the paint dry for a few hours between coats. Once you are happy with the coverage, let the paint dry for about eight hours (or overnight). After that, you’re basically all done!

STEP 5
Last but not least is the optional step of finishing the paint job with a sealer intended for use on materials including metal. Not only does sealer protect the paint, but it also imparts a nice shine.

Now that you know how to paint metal and you’ve witnessed how easy the process can be, you may find yourself studying your home and garden with renewed attention, looking for other things to revitalize with a fresh coat of color. Yes, one successful DIY project inevitably leads to another!


Genius! World’s Most Amazing DIY Slip ‘N Slide

Create your own end-of-summer water party with this incredible DIY slip 'n slide.

In the DIY world, there are great projects, and then there are the truly genius projects that make life a little more exciting. Jennifer at Hope Studios is not just a cool mom, she also creates genius projects worth celebrating.

Some of Jennifer’s kid-friendly work includes a small hockey court made with a sheet of plywood and 2x4s. Yes, please! Or how about the time she hacked curtain sheers for an epic game of glow-in-the-dark flag football. Incredible!

But it’s her DIY slip ‘n slide that’s caught our eye. With a little ingenuity and a lot of plastic sheeting she created the ultimate end-of-summer water slide. And the best part is it that it only takes about 20 minutes to set up, so just about anyone can recreate it.

So where does Jennifer get her inspiration? “I love to browse Pinterest and other blogs,” she says. Even a trip to the hardware store can inspire her next great idea.

Read on to inspire your next epic project—and learn how to create a DIY slip ‘n slide in your own backyard.

DIY Slip n Slide

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Heavy-duty plastic sheeting
- Landscape anchor pins
- Hammer
- Garden hose
- Baby soap (optional)

STEP 1
Is it possible to do this in a flat yard? Jennifer says yes, but she was lucky enough to be able to run her 65 feet of plastic sheeting downhill for the ultimate DIY slip ‘n slide.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 1

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

STEP 2
Jennifer folded her sheeting in half lengthwise to provide an extra layer between the kids and the ground for a sliding surface of 4 x 65 feet.

STEP 3
She anchored the sides of sheeting—making sure they didn’t stick out so little arms and legs were safe on the way down.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 3

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

STEP 4
Now the fun part. Turn on the hose to wet the slide. Or use Jennifer’s extra fun idea: add some baby soap to make the plastic extra slippery.

She says, “You can leave the hose at the top of the slide for lubrication, or you can attach a sprinkler head like I did so the kids slide through a nice, cooling shower on the way down.”

STEP 5
Admire your hard work. You’ll know it’s paid off by how many times the kids use the slide.

“My kids (and all the kids in the neighborhood) played on it for hours for days,” said Jennifer. “We finally had to pull it up so we didn’t kill the grass.” She recommends moving it around the yard to avoid dead patches on your lawn.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 5

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

DIY Slip n Slide - Playing

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

Jennifer says, “The baby soap/inner tube combo is SUPER FAST!”

DIY Slip n Slide - Inner Tube

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

DIY Slip n Slide - Racing

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

Thanks to our Genius! DIYer Jennifer at Hope Studios for sharing with us! For more on this project and to learn how she safely anchored her plastic sheeting to the lawn, check out her blog.


Weekend Projects: 5 Creative Ways to Build a Garden Trellis

In the backyard, a simple (or simply brilliant) DIY trellis provides visual interest at eye level, while serving as scaffolding for plants that love to go vertical.

You can buy a trellis, sure—but where’s the fun in that? With no sacrifice in function, a unique DIY trellis separates your garden from the others on your block. And you get to choose the design, customizing the structure to your exact specifications. From free-standing trellises to ones that integrate with the house, there are countless projects, ranging from sophisticated woodworking to quick and easy repurposing. Scroll down to see five of our favorite ways to create a DIY trellis.

 

1. BREAK WITH TRADITION

DIY Trellis - Chevron

Photo: smileandwave.typepad.com

Foregoing the traditional square pattern, Rachel at Smile and Wave based her DIY trellis on a chevron pattern that zigzags across five tall stakes. The diagonal members are actually repurposed wood shims, each cut with a hack saw and nailed into place. To finish, Rachel painted the trellis a crisp, eye-catching white.

 

2. TURN THE CORNER

DIY Trellis - Corner

Photo: especiallycreativebroad.wordpress.com

Defy gravity with a DIY trellis modeled on this wonderful construction from Especially Creative Broad. It goes up and over the garage door, not only providing ample room for climbing plants to thrive, but also adding decorative detail to a primarily utilitarian and typically characterless part of the home.

 

3. REWORK A RACK

DIY Trellis - Painted

Photo: sybilalfano.com

Artist Sybil Alfano found the perfect way to grow vines in a container. It starts with an inexpensive accordion-style peg rack. Next, embellish the rack with a series of pencils, both to disguise the original purpose of the rack and to lend more support to climbing plants. Finally, paint the DIY trellis in a bold color of your choice.

 

4. STUDY STRING THEORY

Photo: fortheloveofskinny.com

For this unconventional DIY trellis, courtesy of Morgan at For the Love of Skinny, you need only a handful of materials: two bike tires, gardening string, a threaded metal rod and matching nuts. While the tire spokes add decorative flair, the string guides the growth of plants upward—in this case, sweet peas.

 

5. EAMES MADE EASY

Photo: JoAnn Moser, curbly.com

Inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames—in particular, a color-studded coat rack the couple designed and made world-famous—this DIY trellis project (from the good folks at Curbly) lets you take your love of modernism into the backyard. If you were seeking out a summery woodworking project, look no further!


Bob Vila Radio: Fend Off the Power Surge Scourge

A spike in electricity can fry your electronics. Protect your beloved gadgets and gizmos with a surge protector. Here's how to choose one.

These days, we’re increasingly sharing our homes with electronic devices. Many of them are pretty pricey, and that includes computers, home theater setups, and sophisticated AC or heating systems. One characteristic most of those devices share is that they have circuit boards that can be easily damaged by power spikes.

How to Choose a Surge Protector

Photo: shutterstock.com

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The best way to avoid such calamities? Surge protection. Here are some tips on how to choose: Look for protectors that have a “joules rating” of 700 or higher. Joules ratings tell you how much power the protector can absorb before it fails. You’ll also want a protector that has a “clamping voltage rating” of 400 volts or less. Clamping voltage describes how much voltage the unit needs to sense before it begins absorbing energy.

You’ll also want to have a look at the warranty. Many companies reimburse for devices that get fried while plugged into their protectors. Check the fine print. Another option—whole-house surge protectors. Many types are available, and they’re not all that expensive.

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.