Author Archives: Bob Vila

Bob Vila

About Bob Vila

You probably know me from TV, where for nearly 30 years I hosted a variety of shows – This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, Bob Vila, and Restore America with Bob Vila. You can now watch my full TV episodes online. Now it's this website that I am passionate about and the chance to share my projects, discoveries, tips, advice and experiences with all of you.

How To: Inlay Sheet Vinyl Flooring

For a unique custom look, why not inlay vinyl flooring with a contrasting yet complementary color or pattern?

Here’s how to inlay sheet vinyl flooring for a designer look. Measure your design on the floor with chalk lines. Secure your inlay sheet on top of the base sheet with masking tape. Carefully cut through both layers, using a very sharp utility knife. Remove your base layer, trim the edges, and lay floor adhesive. Set your inlay in place and roll the floor to evenly spread the adhesive. Finish the edges with seam sealer and you’ll have a perfect fit.

For more on flooring, consider:

How To: Clean a Vinyl Floor
Quick and Easy Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl Flooring Installation (VIDEO)


Quick Tip: Framing with Engineered Wood

Professional builders agree that compared with traditional lumber, engineered wood framing proves superior time and again. Here are just a few reasons why.

Framing a house using engineered wood has many advantages. Glue-laminated beams are stronger than their conventional solid, sawn counterparts. Engineered I-joists span greater distances, and their stiffness prevents squeaky floors. Oriented strand board sheathing prevents racking and provides good nailer for siding.

For more on framing, consider:

Rough Construction
Deconstructing Engineered Wood
Engineered Wood Joist System Discussed (VIDEO)


How To: Install an Exposed Aggregate Concrete Finish

While they look rather expensive, exposed aggregate concrete walkways and driveways can be had for a relatively low cost by homeowners willing and able to perform the installation.

Here’s a way to create a decorative textured finish for a cement surface. Once your cement is poured and flowed out, evenly cast granite chips across the wet surface. Gently bury the stone into the concrete with a bull float. Let this set for four to five hours, then rinse with a light mist of water. Finally, brush the surface lightly with a soft broom; this will expose the granite to give the installation a look of stone.

For more on cement, consider:

Should You Consider a Concrete House?
Concrete and Cement: A Case of Mistaken Identities
Cement Your Place in DIY History with These 9 Easy Concrete Projects


Quick Tip: Structural Insulated Panels

Instead of traditional framing lumber, homebuilders nowadays often use structural insulated panels, or SIPs, as the material combines insulating properties and remarkable strength.

Building with structural insulated panels is becoming a popular way to save construction time and energy dollars. Composed of thick, rigid expanded polystyrene foam sandwiched between sheets of oriented strand board, these structural insulated panels replace traditional framing, sheathing, and insulation.

For more on framing, consider:

Bob Vila Radio: Metal Studs
Advanced Framing Techniques
Structural Insulated Panels Discussed (VIDEO)


Whitewashing

If you're looking for a way to brighten a room or revive an old piece of furniture, a whitewashed finish may be just the thing. Follow this simple how-to for best results.

Whitewashing - Furniture

Photo: bucketsofburlap.blogspot.com

In contrast to a regular paint job, whitewashing refreshes the look of wood surfaces while allowing their natural grain to show through. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but in dark or sterile-seeming rooms, the light color and pleasingly imperfect aesthetic of whitewashing can make the space appear larger, friendlier, and more comfortably lived-in. Although its results are out of the ordinary, whitewashing differs only slightly from run-of-the-mill painting. Here’s how it’s done!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Sandpaper (or power sander)
- Broom and/or vacuum
- Cloth
- White paint
- Paint thinner
- Paintbrush
- Polyurethane sealer

STEP 1
Whitewashing works best on raw wood. That being the case, it’s critical that you remove as much of any existing finish—be it paint, stain, or varnish—as possible. Do so by thoroughly sanding the surface you intend to whitewash. Sanding by hand is one option, but it’s far quicker and easier to opt for a power sander. (If you don’t own one, you can rent one from your local home improvement center.) Before continuing on to the next step, it’s important to clear all sawdust and debris created in the course of sanding. Sweep or vacuum the area, if appropriate; otherwise, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean.

Whitewashing - Paneling

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Now formulate the whitewash. Rest assured there’s no complicated recipe to follow; rather, making whitewash is a simple matter of diluting regular white paint. Dilute water-based white paint with water and dilute oil-based white paint with turpentine. The precise ratio of paint to thinner depends on the look you wish to achieve. For thicker coverage, use a mixture of two parts paint to one part thinner. Reverse that ratio if you’d prefer a thinner application. Before you whitewash the entire surface, first experiment with the mixture in an inconspicuous spot. Be sure you like the way that it looks before committing. After all, it’s easy to add coverage but more challenging to take it away.

STEP 3
Apply the whitewash with a paintbrush, using long strokes in the direction of the wood grain. Because the finish dries quickly, it’s wise to complete one small section at a time. Should you prefer the wood grain to show through more than it does, use a cloth to wipe away excess whitewash before it has the chance to dry completely. Doing this should result in an attractive, washed-out look.

STEP 4
Let the first coat dry completely, then determine whether a second or third coat is desired. So long as the whitewash is dry (allow several hours), you can use fine-grit sandpaper to play down any coverage that you think seems thicker than ideal.

STEP 5
Bring the project to completion by coating it with a clear polyurethane sealer, applied with a brush as evenly as possible over the surface. Once sealed, your whitewashing should remain looking fresh for years to come.


How To: Make Decorative Cuts with Your Jigsaw

You need not be an expert to give woodwork a special finishing touch. In fact, it's pretty easy to make decorative cuts with your jigsaw. Follow these instructions to get started.

Here’s how to cut a decorative design out of the middle of a board. After choosing your design and carefully marking your pattern, prepare a starting point for your jigsaw blade by drilling a pilot hole that falls within the boundary of your pattern. Then with your jigsaw, follow the penciled outline carefully, removing small sections at a time.

For more on woodworking, consider:

Quick Tip: Jigsaws
Bob Vila’s 7 Essential Woodworking Tools
10 Surprisingly Simple Woodworking Projects for Beginners


Quick Tip: No-Coat Drywall Corners

Installing drywall corner bead makes quicker, easier work of what can be a time-consuming and often tricky process. Here's how it's done.

If you’ve ever done drywall work, you know the corners are the really tricky part. These no-coat drywall corners are ready-made of high-impact plastic backed with joint tape for an easy, tight bond with mud. Shove the corner into a bed of mud—no need for screws or nails. Feather the edges with compound, and you’re done.

For more on drywall, consider:

Drywall vs. Blueboard
Quick Tip: Taping Drywall Joints
How To: Finish Seamless Drywall


How To: Spackle Exterior Siding

Repainting your house? To ensure a smooth finish, spackle exterior siding wherever deep scratches and gouges appear in the wood.

When you’re repainting your house, here’s how to restore that smooth, original finish. After you’ve removed all loose paint and sealed the surface with a latex primer, use a water-based exterior-grade spackle to fill in the rough areas that remain. With a four-inch putty knife, spread an even layer of spackle and smooth it out. When it’s dry, lightly sand it and apply a second coat the same way, if necessary. When the surface is perfectly smooth, apply your finish coat.

For more on painting, consider:

Exterior Paint 101
Bob Vila Radio: Exterior Painting Prep
Exterior Painting Preparation (VIDEO)


Quick Tip: Shingling a Roof

If you are going to shingle a roof the do-it-yourself way, employ the technique described here for a high-performing, long-lasting installation.

Here is a tip you can use to shingle your own roof. Make a starter course at the edge of the eave, laying the shingles upside down. Trim one-third off your first shingle, so the joints will be staggered, then lay your first course over that, with tabs down. Form a pyramid of overlapping shingles, trimming each by six inches so that all rows will have overlapping joints. Then continue to lay rows from bottom to top, using whole shingles.

For more on roofing, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing
Installing Asphalt Roofing Shingles (VIDEO)
Roofing Roundup: 7 of Today’s Most Popular Choices


How To: Splatter-Paint Your Floor

It's stupendously easy to splatter paint—anyone can do it, even little kids. But to achieve results that you can love for years to come, bear in mind these few simple pointers.

Here’s an inexpensive and creative way to decorate a floor. Roll on a coat of deck enamel (the color of your choice) and allow it to dry for a couple of days. Then choose three contrasting colors to splatter on top. Fill your brush liberally and move it from side to side, tapping it with a stick. Splatter all three colors at once, so you don’t have to wait for each one to dry. When it’s thoroughly dry, apply three coats of polyurethane to protect the finish.

For more on painting, consider:

How To: Paint a Wood Floor
9 Incredible Faux Finishes You Can Do Yourself
8 Ways to Age, Distress, Gild, and Add Shine to Your Next Project