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Bob Vila Radio: Finishing a Deck

Before choosing a finish for your worn-out deck, consider the maintenance requirements of paint versus stain.

Painted decks are nice to look at, but they can require a lot of maintenance. Constant exposure to sun, water, and foot traffic will challenge even the best paint job.

Finishing a Deck

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTED DECKS or read the text below:

When it does come time to paint—and that may be every year or two—you can take the quick route and use a belt sander to remove just the paint that’s peeling. Or using a chemical paint stripper and pressure washer, you can take the whole deck down to bare wood.

You’ll want to use tarps to protect the house and plants from paint chips and chemicals. Once that’s done… you wait. The surface needs to be completely dry before you apply primer and paint. That may take several days.

At some point in the paint-and-peel cycle, you may want to strip the deck and apply a stain instead of paint. Stain penetrates the wood rather than sitting on top. You’ll still have some maintenance to tend to, but it won’t take as big a bite out of your time.

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.


In the War Against Wet, A New Weapon

A new line from Rust-Oleum repels water, mud, ice and other liquids from a variety of surfaces. We put one member of this product family to the test. Read on to find out what happened.

Spray an even coating on leather or fabric. Here I'm using it to renew the waterproofing on a pair of old boots. Photo: JProvey

In the war against wet, homeowners have a new weapon: It’s called NeverWet. Designed to repel water and keep surfaces dry, the NeverWet line of products from Rust-Oleum includes four different formulations—Multi-Surface, Fabric, Boot & Shoe, and Auto Interior. Armed with a single one of these sprays or the complete trio, homeowners can now bring protection from the weather to a wide range of household items that spend time outdoors, including garden tools and outdoor furniture.

Don’t get me wrong—I like the rain. But moisture in itself isn’t the problem. What’s really at issue is the mold, mildew, corrosion, rot and (last, but surely not least) skin discomfort that often comes along with an excess of moisture. So when recently I got the opportunity to review the NeverWet fabric formulas, I jumped at the chance to see how the product could help me safeguard those items in my life that I count on to remain dry. For my experiment, I chose leather boots and a cotton patio furniture cushion.

To both, I applied an even coating of NeverWet, according to the instructions, and I wetted but didn’t soak the surface I was treating with the spray. Next, I waited the recommended 24 hours before exposing the items to water. Once enough time had elapsed, I hurried to see how my boots had stood up to the ultimate test—being submerged in a bucket water. Keep reading to see what happened.

Photo: JProvey

In the photo above, the boot I did not spray is on the left. You can see that after five minutes of submersion, the leather became saturated, particularly around the stitching. Meanwhile, the boot on the right of the photo—the one that I did spray with NeverWet—shed water effectively and came out of the tub as good as new.

Equally impressive results arose from my test of the patio furniture seat cushion, which I hosed down in a way that would simulate rainfall. Where it encountered the NeverWet-treated cushion, the water simply beaded up and rolled off. A few days later, I tried again and was satisfied to see no performance change whatsoever.

The treatment worked equally well on the outdoor cotton chair cushion. Photo: JProvey

Down the road, I’ll need to re-apply NeverWater at some point—to the boots sooner than to the cushion, I’m guessing, being that I wear the boots fairly often. Also, even though NeverWet didn’t discolor my boots or the cushion, if I were going to spray anything whose surface I judged to be delicate, then I would first try the spray in an inconspicuous area before committing to spray the entirety. Depending on what you are spraying, you can get 20 to 60 square feet of coverage per bottle.

It’s recommended that you only use NeverWet outdoors, where there’s plenty of ventilation. Be safe using the product, and you’re likely to enjoy the experience as much as I did. Today, I’m deciding what I want to waterproof next!

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


Enter Bob Vila’s “Too Cool for Summer” Give-Away—TODAY!

Enter today and everyday in August for your best chance of winning $10,000 in Lennox cooling or heating products and installation.

As temperatures rise this summer, who wouldn’t want to keep the house cool with a reliable, refreshing, and high-efficiency cooling system. That’s why we teamed up with Lennox to bring you one of our biggest give-aways ever. The winner gets Lennox cooling or heating products and installation worth up to $10,000! So whether you need to cool down now or prepare for the coming cooler seasons, now’s the time to enter.

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Starting today and continuing throughout every day in August (from 12:00 p.m. EST Thursday, July 31st, 2014 until 11:59 a.m. EST, Sunday, August 31st, 2014), you can enter to win Lennox cooling or heating products and installation worth up to $10,000. (See Official Rules below.)

Lennox Air Conditioners

If you win this month’s give-away, you’ll have up to $10,000 to put towards Lennox’s top of the line HVAC products—including installation. Lennox is a leading global name in home comfort, offering energy-efficient air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, and air quality systems. The winner could take home top of the line cooling products such as the Dave Lennox Signature Collection XC25 air conditioner or efficient heating solutions like the SLP98V furnace, both of which boast:

  • Most Efficient ENERGY STAR®  qualified products in 2014
  • Precise Comfort® technology adjusts fan speed, heat and airflow capacity in increments as small as 1% for the ultimate in temperature control
  • SilentComfort™ technology which combines advanced engineering with sound-absorbing materials to deliver the ultimate in quiet performance

Enter Bob Vila’s Too Cool for Summer Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning up to $10,000 in incredible Lennox products and installation.

To learn more about Lennox, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Too Cool for Summer Giveaway” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Thursday, July 31st, 2014 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Sunday, August 31st, 2014. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.


How To: Hang Picture Frames on a Brick Wall

It's not hard to hang picture frames on a brick wall. First, read through our simple instructions. Then grab your drill, some wall anchors, and a friend—and get to work!

Photo: cb4photo.com

Although exposed brick offers a warm, appealing aesthetic redolent of history, many homeowners are puzzled by the question of how to hang pictures on a brick wall. If you’ve never done it before, this may seem like a daunting proposition. Whereas drywall or plaster yield easily to a nail, bricks and mortar obviously require a different approach. And yes, the steps involved are different, as are the necessary tools and materials, but even a beginning do-it-yourselfer can hang pictures on a brick wall. Simply follow the instructions detailed below.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Chalk
- Spirit level (optional)
- Drill
- Masonry bit
- Wall anchors
- Flush-mounting picture hooks or screws
- Screwdriver

STEP 1
You may never before have considered picture hanging a messy project, but when you’re working with brick, there’s the risk of dispersing dust around the work area. So before you begin, it’s a good idea to cover fragile items nearby with either plastic sheeting or a drop cloth. Doing so will minimize the amount of time you’ll need to spend cleaning up once you’ve completed the job.

Photo: keadesign.com

STEP 2
Use chalk to mark the location (on the mortar, not on the face of a brick) where you want to install the picture hook. Don’t worry—chalk can be rubbed away when you’re done.

STEP 3
Ask a friend to stand in the middle of the room while you hold the picture frame over the chalk mark you’ve made on the mortar. Taking into account the manner in which the frame is going to hang—from a wire or by means of a D-ring or sawtooth hanger— confirm that you’ve chalked the correct spot. If you are hanging multiple pictures, you may want to break out the spirit level so you can make sure everything aligns.

STEP 4
Attach a masonry bit to your drill/driver and proceed to drill a hole into the mortar where you marked it with chalk. Drill deep enough to accommodate a wall anchor, but not so deep that you might puncture any wires or pipes behind the brick.

STEP 5
Place a wall anchor into the hole you’ve drilled. Next, screw a picture hook into the embedded wall anchor. Finally, hang the picture frame over the hook you’ve secured into place. Now you’re done. Last but not least: Stand back to enjoy the view!

Additional Tips
- Choose a masonry bit that’s the correct size for the wall anchor you’re using.

- Use two wall anchors to safely secure a heavy, glass-fronted picture frame.

- When drilling, be careful to protect your eyes from the dust that may scatter.


Bob Vila Radio: Prevent Scalding Injuries

Take action to protect your children from injuring themselves while running a faucet in the kitchen or bathroom.

Scalding injuries are one of the top reasons people show up at emergency rooms with burns.

Hot Water

Photo: shutterstock.com

Listen to BOB VILA ON PREVENTING SCALDING INJURIES or read the text below:

Kids, of course, are especially vulnerable, but there are several ways you can minimize chances you’ll need to make that trip to the ER. First, make sure the temperature on your water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees. You won’t want to go much lower, though, since that can promote bacteria growth in the heater.

Another important safeguard: Install anti-scald valves in the faucets throughout your home and also in the shower heads. There are several different types of these valves, but they all are designed to shut down the flow of hot water to a trickle if it reaches the faucet at a dangerous temperature. They’re just the thing for older homes whose plumbing was installed prior to new, more rigorous building codes. Best of all, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to install. There’s probably not a better investment you could make to ensure your home is safe for you and your family.

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: Repot a Plant

For a houseplant to thrive, it may need to be moved into more spacious digs from time to time. Here's how to tell when your plant needs a bigger pot, and how to get it there quickly and safely.

How to Repot a Plant

Photo: shutterstock.com

Even if you’ve never before tried to repot a plant, you can do it today without much trouble, probably in under 15 minutes—so long as you’re dealing with a houseplant. It’s a different story with plants that live outdoors, not least because they tend to be larger and heavier, and therefore more difficult to move about. But for the vast majority of plants grown on windowsills and desktops, repotting is a simple and—in my opinion—a relaxing and fun job. Probably the trickiest part is deciding when it’s appropriate to move a plant out of its current container. One sure sign is if the plant has stopped growing. Another is if the roots are poking through or visible near the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. Still another indication, less obvious than the others, is if the foliage has lost its vigor and begun to go limp. Once you’ve determined that your houseplant would prefer roomier accommodations, go ahead and follow the easy steps detailed below.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Hand fork or trowel
- Gardening scissors
- New pot
- Potting soil or compost

STEP 1
Bring the plant you’re repotting to an area where you feel comfortable making a little mess. Indoors, many people simply cover a table with newspaper. In some cases, watering the plant to dampen (not soak) the soil may make it easier to remove the plant from its container. In other instances, it’s easier to work with dry soil. Use your judgement. Rest assured that neither technique is better or worse for the plant’s health. Keep in mind that working with damp soil will make the process somewhat messier.

How to Repot a Plant - Roots Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
The best way to remove the plant from its current home depends both on the size of the plant and the type of pot it’s in. If it’s a small plant in a plastic nursery container, you can simply turn the container upside down and gently squeeze from the bottom, using your free hand to guide the plant out.

If it’s a larger plant in, say, a heavy terra-cotta pot, work a gardening fork or trowel around the edge of the soil in the container. Root damage is inevitable here, but try to keep it to a minimum. Next, lay the pot on its side and turn the container (not the plant) slowly, thereby twisting the plant out onto your work surface.

STEP 3
Now it’s time to prepare the new container. Double-check to make sure that it has at least one good-size drainage hole; if it doesn’t, you can always create one with your drill/driver. Some indoor gardeners like to line the bottom of pots with stones or broken pottery to further enhance drainage.

STEP 4
After filling the container halfway with new potting soil, use gardening scissors to clean up the plant and its root ball. Remove any old stems that could slow the plant’s growth, and cut away any dark-looking roots. With your hands, gently break up parts of the root ball to encourage new growth.

STEP 5
Position the plant into its new container so that the top edge of the root ball hits an inch or two below the lip of the pot. Add soil to backfill around the sides of the root ball until the plant can stand upright on its own. You may need to pack the soil, but be very careful not to make the medium too dense.

STEP 6
To help your plant cope with the shock of having been repotted, give it a good soak. Finally, return the plant to its favorite perch, whether it’s the humid environment of your bathroom or the cheerful sun of a bay window.


Bob Vila Radio: Water Hammer

If you hear a banging or thumping in the water lines, it's water hammer—and it's annoying. Here's an easy for any homeowner to remedy the issue.

Ever hear a banging noise when you shut off faucets in the house? The problem could be what plumbers call “water hammer.”

Water Hammer

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WATER HAMMER or read the text below:

That’s when a cushion of shock-absorbing air—which is supposed to reside in vertical air chambers of your plumbing system—becomes depleted. That causes water racing through the pipes to slam against fixtures when they’re shut off. There’s your noise.

Try this: First, close the main valve that supplies the house. Next, open the faucet that’s highest in the house. Do the same for the faucet that’s lowest. Be sure to flush all the toilets. As water drains from the pipes, in goes the air.

As soon as water stops draining from that lowest faucet, shut it off, then reopen the main valve. That forces air out of the system, except for where you want it: in those shock-absorbing air chambers.

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-to-Make Pet Beds

Let these DIY dog bed projects be your inspiration and within a single weekend, you can construct something that really makes Rex feel like a king.

Is there a Rufus or Rover in your clan? Even if your pet is allowed on all the soft spots enjoyed by the two-legged members of your household, chances are that your canine craves a haven all his own. No matter your skill level as a maker of things, you should find—as the below ideas demonstrate—that it’s easy to create a DIY dog bed. Because there are so many different ways to go about the project, you can choose the DIY dog bed you feel the most capable of completing and whose style most closely matches your taste. Scroll down now to see five designs you can mimic. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to devise a doggy divan of your very own!

 

1. MAKE A MAISON MODERNE

DIY Dog Bed - Modern

Photo: ournerdhome.com

From Our Nerd Home comes a DIY dog bed project fit for anyone with intermediate woodworking experience. To start, build a simple plywood box. Next, attach the legs (buy these premade at your local home center), then finish by applying a coat of paint in your favorite bold hue. Add a pillow, and that’s it—Fido’s home.

 

2. SEW A PATCHWORK PILLOW

DIY Dog Bed - Patchwork

Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

If your pooch seems to like wearing a sweater on winter walks, then imagine how cozy he would be on a patchwork DIY dog bed sewn from fuzzy old sweaters. This bed is a great way to save retired clothing from the landfill, and it’s great practice for those who are new to threads and needles. For instructions, head to Sew Darn Cute.

 

3. UPDATE A VINTAGE SUITCASE

DIY Dog Bed - Suitcase

Photo: moxandfodder.com

When you’re roaming through thrift stores, you often encounter the odd vintage suitcase. You love how the luggage looks but can’t see yourself actually traveling with it. Well, here’s a reason to finally get one of those very tempting valises: With little hassle, you can transform it into a DIY dog bed. The clever couple at Mox & Fodder explain how.

 

4. CREATE A CRATE

DIY Dog Bed - Crate

Photo: home-frosting.blogspot.com

Scrap wood offers something like a blank canvas for creative do-it-yourselfers. A DIY dog bed is just one of the many useful objects that can be made with a pile of leftover 1x4s. Particularly when the bed is decoratively painted, as Home Frosting has done here, the result is a stylishly rustic-looking crate, handily portable, thanks to casters.

 

5. WORK WITH A WINE BARREL

DIY Dog Bed - Barrel

Photo: thegildedhorn.blogspot.com

The Gilded Horn demonstrates how to convert a half- or full-size wine barrel (available online and often at home improvement retail stores) into a remarkable DIY dog bed that looks like fine furniture. To maximize the effect, choose a stain that closely matches the color of wood already in your home.


Get the Look: Retro Kitchen

Cheerful colors and nostalgic details lend their charms to these kitchens inspired by the past. Read on to learn how to re-create the look in your own home.

Retro Kitchen

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Today, the popular notion of a “dream kitchen” includes an an all-white color palette, a suite of stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops polished to a glimmering sheen. In years past, however, such a design would most likely have struck homeowners as cold, antiseptic, and uninviting. Indeed, kitchen design philosophy has changed a great deal over the decades. Some of us are old enough to remember, for example, that kitchens used to be colorful! From the flooring to the countertops and curtains, everything seemed to feature an eye-catching hue. Some traditions are best left in the past, of course, but if you’ve been yearning to cook in a space with more personality, in a room that recalls a bygone era, these tips can help you design the retro kitchen of your dreams.

Colors
What’s the best color scheme for a retro kitchen? That depends. You can hark back to the 1950s by channeling the most popular colors of those long-ago days, bold turquoise and red. Or for a look that says “The Sixties,” choose mustard and avocado—colors that some are still trying to forget, not bring back. In the kitchen pictured, designers Kevin Fischer and Charlotte Cooney, of Alice Design/Domestic Arts, chose pale yellow and tomato-red, a combination that recalls the early 20th century; builders Hammer & Hand brought their vision to life. Since there are so many paint colors available today, a great way to narrow the field is to look at pictures of kitchens from the era you’re trying to re-create, and see what strikes your fancy.

Related: 10 Design Essentials for a Retro Kitchen 

Surfaces
Though somewhat quaint-seeming now, surfaces like linoleum flooring and laminate countertops were once considered state-of-the-art. Fortunately, both remain in production and are readily available online or at your local home center. As popular in the past as they are today, simple white tiles are another classic, worthy of consideration no matter time period you’re using as a guide. After all, the goal isn’t to create a perfectly accurate, museum-quality historical reproduction. Rather, it’s to borrow the best from the past in pursuit of a design that, instead of being hopelessly outdated, looks forward as much as it looks back.

Retro Kitchen - Cabinetry

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

Cabinetry
White, ivory, or beige cabinetry works well in most retro kitchens, regardless of the paint colors applied elsewhere in the space. Glass-front cabinets are another option with old-fashioned appeal, made all the more persuasive when filled with colorful china or glassware that dates to the era that the room is trying to evoke. Yet another way to achieve a vintage look is by painting cabinetry to match the room’s overall color scheme.

Hardware
Replacing cabinet knobs and drawer pulls ranks as one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add period detail. While many sources stock new hardware that resembles older designs, some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt, searching for authentic examples in flea markets and architectural salvage yards.

Sink and Faucet
Homeowners are spoiled for choice when it comes to fixtures that mimic yesterday’s styles. For instance, apron-front sinks are enjoying renewed popularity and work superbly in spaces modeled on the early 20th century. In a 1970s-themed kitchen, a stainless steel undermount model pairs nicely with a colorful laminate counter. Faucets, meanwhile, range from those with long, arching necks to boxy designs perfect for kitchens mimicking the postwar period.

Related: 10 Design Essentials for a Retro Kitchen 

Lighting
Most older kitchens sported an overhead light in a style that complemented the room. Depending on the era, that fixture might have been a milk-glass pendant or a sleekly sculptural ceiling light. Some people opt for a reproduction, while others scour salvage shops near and far in pursuit of the genuine article.

Retro Kitchen - Appliances

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

Appliances
To get your hands on period-appropriate appliances, you basically have two options. One is to buy new models whose designs are steeped in nostalgia. The other is to search for refurbished relics. Stoves with porcelain exteriors in white, red, soft blue, or even pink have undeniable appeal, but such treasures can be difficult (or quite costly) to obtain. A compromise would be to choose standard modern appliances with the simplest possible silhouettes.

Accessories
The little things make such a big difference in identifying a space as belonging to this or that time period. A colorful set of dishes or glassware, for instance, can be displayed as a focal point, while vintage tablecloths, curtains, clocks, or telephones (or new designs that resemble older models) further enhance the illusion. On the walls, consider hanging colorful collectibles like fruit-crate labels and recipe booklets, or artwork that dates back to the era that you’ve selected as the inspiration for your retro kitchen.

 


Bob Vila Radio: Repointing Brick

Brick installations last quite a long time, but over the years mortar deteriorates. When that happens, at repointing brick becomes a necessity. Here's how it's done.

Brick is very low maintenance, but age and weather still take their toll. As a result, brick requires occasional repointing—removing and replacing deteriorated mortar. Fortunately, this is a task that a handy homeowner can tackle.

Repointing Brick

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPOINTING BRICK or read the text below:

Working in small sections, use a cold chisel, a handheld grout saw, or a joint raker to tap out the damaged mortar without harming the brick. Remove the mortar to a depth of at least half an inch, then clean up the dust with a broom, brush, or hose. (Be sure to wear a respirator.)

Soak the brick and let it dry overnight. If your house is less than 50 years old, you can probably repoint using standard Portland cement mortar; older brick may require a lime-and-sand mix. Consult a mason if you’re uncertain about the age of your bricks.

Mix the mortar in small batches. Lightly spritz the bricks, pick up some mortar on a large trowel, and work small amounts into the joints using a pointing trowel. Even out the mortar with the flat edge of the trowel and scrape off any mortar you get on the face of the bricks. After an hour or so, use a sturdy wire brush to carefully clean mortar off the brick face. Mist the wall daily for the next few days to help the mortar dry without cracking.

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.