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Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The PVC Pipe Competition Starts Today

Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite among the PVC pipe projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!

PVC Projects

PVC pipes are a ubiquitous fixture in many homes, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at the surface. That’s because PVC pipe, a tried and true plumbing product, is usually hidden behind walls, in basements, or even underground. So that’s what makes this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitors so incredible; each and every one of these bloggers has transformed an often overlooked home staple into an extraordinary—and affordable—DIY project.

Most of these projects can be completed in an afternoon, but don’t let their apparent simplicity fool you. No matter how long they take to accomplish they get big points for creativity—and any one could be this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner and take home the prize—a $250 gift card from True Value.


Each of these projects gets the Bob Vila stamp of approval, but only one can win. That’s why we need you to vote now and each day this month for your favorite projects. After all, it’s your vote that will determine who will be this month’s winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up blogger.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Sarah M. Dorsey Designs. Read more about winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Would you like to recommend a blogger for the next Bob Vila Thumbs Up? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter! 

Bob Vila Radio: Pros and Cons of Cathedral Ceilings

There are many reasons to love cathedral ceilings—and one big reason to temper your affection.

Vaulted ceilings, also called cathedral ceilings, have some great attributes, but others you may not be so fond of. On the one hand, they do give your room a light and airy feel, and they can make a small room appear bigger than it really is.

Cathedral Ceilings

Photo: laramasselos.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON VAULTED CEILINGS or read the text below:

But when it comes to energy efficiency, cathedral ceilings a bit of a bust, especially during the winter. That’s because air you’ve spent your money to heat ends up at the peak of the ceiling, not down where it can keep you warm (although a ceiling fan can help with that).

As an energy-saving alternative, you might consider what’s called a ‘tray ceiling.’ Tray ceilings look like conventional flat ceilings, except all but the outer part of the ceiling is raised a foot or so. The reduced height of a tray ceiling can help keep your heating bills within reason, but you’ll still get some of that light-and-airy feel.

Before you start cutting into collar ties, be sure to check with a contractor or structural engineer.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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: Remove Poison Ivy from Your Yard

If poison ivy crops up on your property, you can remove it chemically, naturally, or—if you're ready to get your hands dirty—physically.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Homeowners know too well that not all greenery contributes to the beauty of a garden. Weeds, for instance, are a chief nuisance, and the meticulous among us have spent countless weekend hours picking dandelions, nettle, and thistle out of the ground. But even in their multitudes, weeds are more or less benign when compared to the itchy threat posed by poison ivy. If you spot these vine-like plants, with their telltale trio of pointed leaves, you can resign yourself to the inevitability of suffering a painful red rash, or you can take action. We highly recommend the latter! Read on to learn three different ways to get rid of poison ivy.

Upon realizing there’s poison ivy growing on their property, most people enlist a store-bought herbicide. Before purchasing any, double-check that the product in question contains either glyphosate or triclopyr. (Because both of these chemicals kill most other plants in addition to poison ivy, you may wish to use an alternative method, depending on whether or not the poison ivy abuts plant material you would like to keep alive.) Closely following the product directions, fill up a spray bottle with the herbicide and apply it directly to the leaves of the poison ivy. Remember: Herbicide is potent stuff, so be careful where you’re spraying. If, for instance, the poison ivy is climbing up the trunk of a tree, take pains not to get any herbicide on the tree bark. Instead, dab a bit of herbicide directly onto the individual leaves of the poison ivy plant. Once you’ve finished treating the area, monitor it on and off for the next couple of weeks, reapplying if and when the poison ivy reemerges.

How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy - Leaf Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

If you steer clear of commercial herbicides because of the chemicals they contain, experiment with an organic approach. You need not look any farther than your kitchen pantry for an active ingredient. It turns out that salt, in high enough concentrations, works to kill most unwanted plants, including poison ivy. But you can’t simply sprinkle it around. First things first, concoct a saline solution by mixing three pounds of salt, a gallon of water, and a quarter-cup of dish soap. Fill a spray bottle with your homemade herbicide and apply it directly to the poison ivy leaves. Do so on a clear day, allowing the salt the opportunity to do its job before rain washes it away. Check back occasionally and continue to re-apply the herbicide until the poison ivy no longer returns. Be careful not to spray the herbicide onto neighboring plants, unless you’re willing to bid them farewell.

Get Physical
The least hands-off method is perhaps the most effective way to get rid of poison ivy. Provided you own a good pair of work gloves (and a set of full-sleeve clothing), the answer to your problem can be as simple as digging up the poison ivy with a garden trowel. To remove all the roots, be sure to excavate each plant to a depth of around eight inches. Also, take extra care in outfitting yourself for the task. It’s not a bad idea to go so far as using duct tape to seal the seam between your gloves and shirtsleeves (and between your pants and socks).

Whatever method you choose, fully getting rid of poison ivy requires patience and persistence. If a plant reemerges, keep at it with your chosen method, always being careful to keep your skin protected as you work.

Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Flooring Give-Away—TODAY!

Enter for your chance to win Lumber Liquidators flooring!

It’s October, and fall is here in earnest. You might find yourself searching for ways to reinvigorate your surroundings. With the seasonal change in mind, we partnered with Lumber Liquidators to help you refresh your home. This month, one lucky winner will receive $5,000 worth of Lumber Liquidators flooring! Lumber Liquidators’ flooring options will bring new style and functionality into your space–from the ground up. If you’re considering the switch to hardwood floors, now’s the time to enter.


Today and every day this month (from noon EST Tuesday, September 30th, through 11:59 a.m. Friday, October 31st), enter to win one $5,000 prize applicable towards Lumber Liquidators flooring (see Official Rules below).

Fall Flooring Give-Away

Photo: lumberliquidators.com

If you win this month’s give-away, you’ll get $5,000 of premium hardwood flooring, courtesy of Lumber Liquidators! The company was started in 1993 by contractor Tom Sullivan, and grew quickly after that, specializing in a wide variety of hardwood floor options. They offer solid and engineered hardwood, engineered hardwood, bamboo, cork, and resilient vinyl flooring for all your needs. Butcher blocks, molding, accessories and tools are also for sale at their website and at their many store locations.

• Lumber Liquidators boasts one of the largest collections of unfinished and prefinished hardwood flooring in the industry, so you’ll never have to go anywhere else.

• Their engineered hardwood and resilient vinyl options especially durable, allowing your floors standing up to changing temperatures, humidity, and day-to-day wear.

• Choose between different finishes depending on the look you want, and don’t forget their easy clickable flooring options!

Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Flooring Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning $5,000 of flooring from Lumber Liquidators.

To learn more about Lumber Liquidators and their variety of flooring options, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Flooring Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) EST Tuesday, Spetember 3oth, 2014 through 11:59 am Friday, October 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: Clean Pillows

When was the last time you washed your pillows? If you don't remember, then it's probably well past time to do so.

How to Clean Pillows

Photo: shutterstock.com

Whether tucked under our heads while sleeping or behind our backs while lounging in the living room, pillows are an often used, seldom truly appreciated hallmark of the civilized world. Perhaps it’s because we take them for granted that we tend not to clean pillows as often as we should. Or perhaps people don’t clean pillows for a simpler reason: They didn’t know they could. In any case, consider the mystery solved. You can indeed clean pillows, and here’s how it’s done.

Bed Pillows
Check their care labels, of course, but most pillows today can be machine-washed and dried, no matter what they’re stuffed with. Try to clean two pillows simultaneously, because a lone pillow gets thrown around so much in the process that its filling can come out distorted. Once you’ve loaded the washer with a pair, set the machine to run on a hot-water cycle. Add the normal amount of detergent, opting for liquid rather than powder, because the latter can leave a residue. Run two complete rinse cycles to fully rid the pillows of soap, then immediately move them to the dryer. Synthetic-filled pillows should ry on the machine’s lowest setting, while down- or feather-filled pillows are best dried on the air or fluff cycle. Before closing the dryer door, throw in two new tennis balls, each tied off within a white sock (a precaution meant to keep the balls’ neon dye from transferring to the pillows). The balls bounce around in the drum and help restore full pillow fluff.

How to Clean Sofa Pillows

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Pillows yellowed from sweat need a little more TLC. In the washing stage, start by filling the machine a third of the way with hot (even boiling water), then add in one cup of powdered laundry detergent, one cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, and a half-cup of borax. Finally, add a full cup of bleach into its designated compartment, before starting the machine and letting it run for a few minutes to agitate and dissolve the detergents. Now put in the your pillows—again, clean two simultaneously for best results—and run the washer on its hottest water setting. Go through two complete rinse cycles before moving the pillows to the dryer (and again, for maximum fluff, include two tennis balls knotted inside white socks).

Decorative Pillows
Many decorative pillows have zippers that allow for the case to be separated from the cushion. In these instances, simply remove the case and wash according to the care directions on the label. If you’d like to clean a throw pillow whose cover doesn’t come off, first consider the fabric it’s made of. Don’t know? Check the label; it should say whether it’s velvet, silk, linen, cotton or a synthetic. Generally speaking, velvet, silk, and upholstery materials—or any pillow with heavy braiding or trim—must be professionally dry-cleaned.

If your throw pillow cover is made of thinner cotton, linen, or a synthetic fabric, you can use a mild upholstery shampoo. But first, lightly rub a damp sponge over an inconspicuous spot on the pillow to test how colorfast the fabric is. If the color leaks, have the pillow dry-cleaned. If not, proceed to whip the upholstery shampoo into a froth, then use the same damp sponge to rub suds over the entire pillow. With a white towel, pat away excess foam, before giving the pillow plenty of time to completely air dry.

DIY Desk Organizer with PVC Pipe

PVC pipe makes for a cheap and efficient desktop organization solution.

PVC Pipe Desk Organizer

Why buy a desktop organizer when you can make your own? That’s what Cher, brains behind Designs by Studio C, thought when she made this incredible PVC pipe office supply holder. Taking her inspiration from an in-store version, she hacked her own for less money and only a little extra work. Well done! Take a look to see how she took a simple plastic tube and made it into so much more.

For less than $10.00 including paint, you can make desk organizing cups with PVC in whatever color you want to match your decor plus the number of cubbies are entirely up to you!


- PVC pipe (2″, 1.5″, 1.25″ round sizes)
- cardboard
- liquid nails
- spray paint
- mitre saw (or handsaw—or ask them to cut for you at hardware store)


I used a miter saw (or you can use a handsaw and miter box) to cut the pipe in random lengths. I cut a 30 deg. bevel at one end of each pipe.

Cut PVC pipe for DIY desktop organizer


I used spray paint (Valspar in Gloss Frosty Berry) and painted each piece separately.


Once the pieces were dry, I arranged the pieces in a manner I was happy with—not an easy task—then glued the pieces together with dabs of Liquid Nails.

Glue PVC pipe for DIY desktop organizer



For the bottom, I put the entire assembly on a piece of cardboard and drew around the outside of the cubbies.

Making DIY PVC pipe Desk Organizer


I cut it out with scissors, dabbed Liquid Nails on the bottom of the cubbies, and attached it to the cardboard.

DIY PVC Pipe Desktop Organizer

It is so easy and inexpensive to make desk organizing cups with PVC – the cups can be edged with washi tape for a sort of whimsical look or paint each pipe a different color. Taller pipes can be used for organizing paint brushes, as well.

PVC pipe organizer finished

Thanks for sharing, Cher! To see even more ingenious DIY projects and furniture plans, check out her website, Designs by Studio C.

DIY PVC Pipe Wine Rack

Instead of buying an upscale wine rack, this blogger made her own at a fraction of the cost.

Finished PVC Pipe Wine Rack

When Rachelle, blogger from Adventures in Creating, saw a modern (and pricey!) wine rack for sale, it was love at first sight. And when she realized she could make her own strikingly similar DIY wine rack using PVC pipe, well, the rest was history. Using her handy power tools and a heavy dose of ingenuity, she elevated the simple PVC pipe to an accent piece worth showcasing in any modern home. Take a look below to see how she did it—and you’ll see why this project gets a big thumbs up from BobVila.com.

Umbra Wine Rack


- 4″ round PVC pipe
- 1.5″ round PVC pipe
- Dremel (or mitre saw)
- safety glasses
- mask
- #8-32 x 3/4 screws
- epoxy glue for plastic
- spray paint


I bought lengths at the hardware store. It was a little over $1 a foot. You can have them cut it down to the length you need so you won’t have to buy a big giant long pipe. I used 4″ and 1.5″ pipe.


I used the plastic cutting bit of my Dremel to cut the pipe down further to 6″ lengths, 6 of each size. You can use a mitre saw or hack saw to cut the pipe if you don’t have a Dremel. Be sure to wear eye glasses and a mask—pipe dust gets everywhere!

Cutting PVC pipe for DIY Wine Rack


Once I had all my pieces cut I used a sander so smooth out the edges. If you use a different kind of saw you might be able to skip this step, my edges were not completely even. Then clean all your pipes to get any dust or residue off.

Sanding PVC pipe DIY wine rack


After that I arranged my pipes in the pattern I wanted, looking at the original picture as a guide.

Arranging PVC DIY wine rack


My main issue next was how to attach the pipes. There’s plenty of ideas of how to attach them end to end, but side to side was a different story. I decided to use a mixture of screws and epoxy glue made for plastic. (*Note: I have recently learned that Pluming Adhesive would be best for this!) I used #8- 32 x 3/4″ machine screws. We don’t have a real hardware store in our town so this is the best Walmart had. They are long enough to fit through the 4″ tubes where they connected and not to long on the ends where the 4″ and 2″ tubes connect.I marked the edges that needed screws then drilled 2 holes on either end 1″ in from the ends.

Attaching PVC pipe DIY wine rack

This was the hardest and most time consuming part. Marking each edge then drilling took some time but was successful in the end.


After is was all together I used Locktite Epoxy Glue made for plastic (again all Walmart had- E6000 or another brand would work fine) and poured it into the crevices. Because the screws are attaching hard edge to hard edge, the joints were a little wobbly. The glue helped keep them in place. Next time I might try rubber washers and see how that does instead.

I let the glue cure for 24 hours, then it was time to paint! I used a white Rustoleum spray paint to cover any of the original markings on the PVC pipe and to disguise the screws.

Finished DIY PVC pipe wine rack

Thanks for sharing, Rachelle! To see even more of her inventive DIYs, check out her site, Adventures in Creating.

DIY Kids Chairs with PVC Pipe

Turn PVC pipe into furniture like this blogger did.

PVC Kids Chairs

Summer might be over, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating these amazing (and amazingly simple-to-make) summer camp chairs. Made by one of the two Elizabeths behind Simple Simon and Company, these chairs are as affordable as they are easy to build. Plus kids will like them. That gets a thumbs up in our book. So take a look at how these PVC pipe chairs can be made in no time at all.

Kids Using DIY PVC Pipe Chairs

So, in my summer nostalgia, I was telling Liz about how I wanted to make some stools like I had when I was little for our kids. And so we started talking…. and we came up with these summer camp stools for our kids.  AND. THEY. ARE. AMAZING. They are light, portable… and the best part… YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK YOUR HUBBY TO MAKE THEM. They are so easy! Really. And they can each be made for around $6 dollars a piece. Even better.


- (4) 15″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe (you can have it cut at the home improvement store)
- (2) 10″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe
- (2) 7″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe
- 8 PVC elbows
- (2) 3″ bolts and nuts
- power drill
- 7 x 18 inches of ripstop nylon (or heavy duty canvas)
- primer and paint (optional)
- acetone (optional)


OK. Here is the deal. Go to your local home improvement store… ask them to cut the pieces, and help you find the rest of the pieces. You will have to drill 4 holes and that’s it. Really. We promise that you can do it!


OK, here’s what you need to do to make the seat covers. One helpful tip–use a super heavy duty canvas. It needs to be able to hold the child’s weight and not stretch out or rip.

Seat Cushions for DIY PVC Pipe Chairs

Measure and sew a 2.5 inch casing on each side, enough to slide through the PVC pipe.


And here’s how you make the seats. We did end up priming and painting our PVC pipes because they have black labels and numbers on them. (Another approach from a Simple and Simon Co. reader is to use acetone to remove the black labels.)


Drill hole in PVC pipes

Find the middle of all four 15″ PVC pipes and drill a hole in the middle of each.


Put seat on DIY PVC pipe chair

Thread the seat through one 7″ piece of pipe and one 10″ piece of pipe.


Making DIY PVC Pipe Chair

Make your pipes into rectangle shapes.


Criss cross DIY PVC pipe chairs

Then, criss-crossing your rectangles, line up your drilled holes and insert the bolts on each side of the chair. Use the nuts to tighten.


Finished DIY PVC Pipe Chairs


Thanks to both Elizabeths at Simple Simon and Company for sharing with us. To see more of their crafts for kids or some fun fall projects, check out their website.




Genius! DIY Faux Stained Glass

Making your own stained glass is easier than you thought.

DIY Faux Stained Glass

Photo: justpaintitblog.com

There’s something about the nostalgic and timeless beauty of stained glass… but genuine stained glass comes with a hefty price tag. So, innovative DIYers like Colleen from Just Paint It are making their own—and so can you!

Colleen’s a self described self-taught artist. “Years ago I was a display designer in a large craft store. Faux finishes were just coming into vogue and there were no glazes or tools locally available in California.” That was pre-Internet, which means Colleen got really creative with new craft products to create different effects. Eventually her love for the craft took her inside people’s homes, painting faux finishes and murals.

But for this paint lover, not all paint is equal. For home decor projects, she favors chalk paint and for artwork, watercolors. “I’m new to both of them and I absolutely love them. Chalk paint is incredibly forgiving and watercolors give a ‘painterly’ look with very little experience or effort.” She says she stays away from crackle finish, though. “I can’t think of one time I’ve had success with it.”

If you tackle this or any other paint project, here’s Colleen’s advice: “First and foremost—it’s only paint! If something doesn’t turn out, just paint over it and start over. Also, we are our own worst critics. Give yourself a break and some time to get the hang of a technique or new product.”

So with that in mind, here’s how to make your own faux stained glass!

- Glass surface (I used a thrift store frame)
- Rubbing alcohol and cotton
- Pattern
- Glass stain leading
- Utility knife
- Glass stains (clear, yellow, orange, red, brown, and green)
- Toothpicks
- Paper towels
- Small paintbrush
- Painter’s tape (optional)

Materials to Make DIY Faux Stained Glass

You can use anything for a pattern, or my fall leaves, if you like. All you need is an outline. Or you could use stencils.

Thoroughly clean the glass with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry. While it’s drying, mark off the borders. I used the cardboard that came in the frame, created the borders and transferred the leaves.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Steps

Photo: justpaintitblog.com

Pour your glass stain leading. Think about real stained glass—it’s a bunch of pieces of glass that are soldered together. So you want to create that effect with your leading and “solder” the glass into the frame. Leading takes about 6-8 hours to fully dry.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Leading

Photo: justpaintitblog.com


I had some goopy clumps. No worries, ok? Just allow the leading to completely dry and then remove any clumps with your utility knife.

I missed a spot here and there. Again, no worries. Just come back with your leading and fill it in.

Next, mix and pour your colors. It’s so easy! Just squirt a little brown, then a little yellow, take a toothpick and swirl it all together. So much fun!

Couple of tips: “Pull” the colors to the leading with your toothpick. As the paint dries it shrinks a bit, so you want to make sure you’ve completely filled the space in with color.

I found it more comfortable to work in smaller portions, rather than filling in an entire leaf.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Mixing Colors

Photo: justpaintitblog.com

Thanks for sharing, Colleen! To use Colleen’s pattern to make your own faux stained glass window or to watch her video tutorial to get started, check out her website.

DIY PVC Pipe Mirror

Crosscut PVC pipe comes together in a starburst mirror with a twist.

DIY PVC Pipe Mirror

Who says PVC pipe can’t be really, really good-looking? Alicia from Thrifty & Chic makes a case for keeping PVC pipe on hand as an essential DIY material. Using crosscut PVC pipe and a whole lot of glue, she made this fresh take on the classic starburst mirror. After using PVC pipe for various household projects, Alicia realized she had a lot leftover for a new project. That’s when she got out her trusty saw and got to work. She mentions (and we will too!) that her way might not be the safest way to go about this project—but it certainly worked for her. Make sure to take appropriate safety precautions and always wear the right safety gear when operating a saw. Safety first and ingenious mirror ideas second.


- PVC pipe
- miter saw
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- spray paint (optional)
- mirror
- safety glasses


You can spray paint your pipe whatever color you wish before you cut it.


I took the pipe, marked every 1/2 inch, and sent it through my miter saw. In order to get the best cut and not have it ping and then shoot out flying across the room, it is best to go at a slow downward speed. Just trust me on this one.

FYI: If you choose to use a miter saw, let it cool down a couple of times between cuts. It will thank you. Or if you don’t have a miter saw, and have a lot of time on your hands, you can cut these with a hack saw or even with pvc pipe cutters.


Now that you have all your cut pieces, lay them out into whatever desirable decor piece you would like.

Cut PVC pipe for DIY PVC mirror


Once you have this all laid out, start hot gluing them together. I started from the outside in. It just made more sense to do it that way. And as I was gluing, I made sure that pieces that had ink or marks on them were hidden beneath the glue so they wouldn’t be so obvious when I was finished with the piece—and mainly because, I was lazy and didn’t spraypaint or paint the pipe before hand to hide said marks.


Next, I took a mirror that I found at the craft store and glued that baby on also.

Hot Glue PVC Pipe Mirror


Once all was said and done….and dried. I had to clean off the hanging plastic that was left from the cutting and all the little shards of plastic that not-so-mysteriously appeared (as you can see above).

Finished PVC Pipe Mirror

Thanks for sharing, Alicia! To see even more of her inventive DIY projects, or to take a tour of her house, visit Thrifty & Chic!