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: Test Soil pH

Make sure you have the best possible environment for your plantings by checking your soil's pH. Here's how.

How to Test Soil pH

Photo: shutterstock.com

Soil matters. To the plants you wish to grow in your garden, nothing is as important as what’s in or missing from the soil on your property. After all, the soil composition makes or breaks your plants’ chances of thriving. While there are many details to learn about your soil’s makeup, the pH level is the best place to start, because some plants prefer soil that is acid (for example, azaleas) or alkaline (carnations) or neutral (grass). To plan and maintain a healthy garden, therefore, you’ve got to know where you stand pH-wise. Fortunately for backyard gardeners, you don’t need a chemistry degree to test soil pH. In fact, it’s simple.

How to Test Soil pH - Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Here’s perhaps the easiest of all ways to test soil pH: Head to the nearest home center or nursery, and pick up a testing kit. When used correctly, such kits are fairly reliable. Not every kit involves the same order of operations, but generally the process begins with digging a small hole, two to four inches deep.

Move any twigs or stones to the side, then fill the hole with distilled water—that is, water that is neither acidic nor alkaline. (If you don’t have any on hand, you can buy a bottle from almost any grocery store or pharmacy.) As the hole you created in the soil turns into a muddy pool, insert the test probe. Now wait.

After about a minute, you should get a reading. If the pH registers as being lower than 7, that means your soil is acidic. Higher than 7? Your soil is alkaline. (Exactly 7 means your soil is neutral.) Bear in mind that most plants do well in soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7. If yours falls within that range, consider yourself lucky. No small number of gardeners must amend their soil to make it hospitable.

Before calling it a day, take the time to test the soil pH in several different parts of your garden. Even in a small yard, pH variations—sometimes considerable ones—are common. A plant that wouldn’t adjust well to one corner of your property might live very happily in another location.

An alternative method of testing soil pH involves—believe or not—the red cabbage that’s been lurking at the rear of your refrigerator. What you do is chop the cabbage into small pieces before boiling it in a pot of distilled water (again, refrain from using tap water; the H20 used must have a neutral pH).

After about 10 minutes, the boiling water should turn violet. Remove the pot from the stove, strain out the cabbage, and pour a portion of the water into two separate containers. To one container, add a small amount of vinegar. Into the other container, sprinkle a couple of pinches of baking soda. The result, assuming no missteps, should be one container of pink (acidic) liquid, another of blue-green (alkaline).

Now pour the remaining violet water into yet another empty container, only this time add in a spoonful of soil. If the water turns pink, that means your soil is acidic; if blue-green, your soil is alkaline. The stronger the color change, the more acidic or alkaline the sample. If the liquid does not change color at all, then your soil is neutral. Science!


How To: Remove Paint from Concrete

Removing paint from concrete is a time-consuming endeavor, but a determined DIYer is certainly up to the task. Here's how to get it done right.

How to Remove Paint from Concrete

Photo: shutterstock.com

Concrete is porous, which means that it readily absorbs liquids like paint. With this ease of penetration, paint can seep millimeters deep into a concrete surface. As a result, it can be a challenge to remove paint from concrete, but it can certainly be done. How long will it take? That depends on the size of the area you’re dealing with. But it’s safe to expect that you won’t be knocking this out before lunch. Think of removing paint from concrete as an ongoing process, not as an item for your weekend to-do list.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Broom (or clean cotton rag)
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
- Long-handled brush
- Putty knife
- Chemical paint stripper
- Protective gear
- Pressure washer
- Clay powder or kitty litter (optional)

STEP 1 
When you set out to remove paint from concrete, the first thing to do is clean the surface of the concrete thoroughly. Prepare a solution of soap and water, or better yet, diluted trisodium phosphate (TSP)—in which case, be sure to wear gloves. Meanwhile, sweep or wipe off the concrete, removing as much loose dust, dirt, and debris as possible. Now proceed to work the soapy water or TSP into the concrete by means of a long-handled brush. Rinse the area afterward, allowing one to three hours for the surface to dry.

How to Remove Paint from Concrete - Detail Concrete

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
If some of the paint has already begun to chip or peel, scrape it away with a putty knife. Having done so, get ready to apply the chemical paint stripper. You need to use one designed for the type of paint you’re trying to remove. In other words, use oil-based paint stripper on a surface coated by oil-based paint. Not sure which type of paint is on the concrete? If you’re uncertain, your best bet is to opt for an oil-based paint stripper.

Once you’ve covered the concrete with a generous layer of paint stripper, let it sit for six to eight hours. During that time, a chemical reaction will take place, the magical result of which is the removal of paint. Remember that if you’re working with paint stripper, it’s imperative that you wear the appropriate protective gear: a respirator (or at minimum, a dust mask), long sleeves, and good pair of rubber gloves.

STEP 3
For this stage of the job, so long as you’re working on a compact concrete patch, you can probably get by with a wire scrub brush or a paint scraper. On a larger surface, to make things much more manageable, it’s recommended that you rent a pressure washer from your local home center (or borrow one from a neighbor).

Having set the pressure washer at 3,000 psi, go ahead and blast away the paint stripper residue. Soon enough, you will see whether or not it will be necessary to repeat Step 2. It’s not unreasonable to anticipate having to apply and then wash away multiple applications of paint stripper.

Paint Spills
What if you spill a gallon of paint on the garage floor, or accidentally leave a thick splatter of bright orange paint on the driveway? To clean it up, you would follow the same basic steps outlined above, with one important exception. Instead of applying a layer of paint stripper alone to the concrete, you would apply a paste made from the stripper and a superabsorbent material, such as finely ground clay powder or pulverized kitty litter.

Nonchemical Solutions
There are alternatives to using a paint stripper, but they’re all more labor-intensive. For instance, on a concrete surface of modest size, you can opt to use an orbital sander. Likewise, a floor buffer can get the job done on a larger scale. But perhaps the most effective nontoxic option is a soda blaster, a tool very much like a sandblaster, except that instead of sand, it shoots out sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). You can most likely rent one—and buy the baking soda in bulk—at your local home center. Because all of the above options create fine particles, a dust mask or respirator is a must if you’re working indoors.


How To: Cure a Smelly Garbage Disposal

If there's an unpleasant stench wafting from your garbage disposal, it's time to give it a good cleaning. Here's how to get rid of stinky food residue in your disposal.

Photo: shutterstock.com

There’s no denying the convenience of the garbage disposal: It simplifies so many of the activities that take place in the kitchen. Frequent use of the appliance, however, can sometimes lead to foul odors. If you’ve noticed a not-so-pleasing scent emanating from yours, don’t worry—it’s nothing permanent. Getting rid of a garbage disposal smell is by no means an arduous task. In fact, you probably have everything you need for it in your pantry, and the job won’t take more than 10 minutes.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Scrub brush or dish wand
- Dish soap
- Ice
- Kosher salt
- Lemon peels

STEP 1
Start by dabbing about a tablespoon of dish soap onto your choice of either a scrub brush or dish wand. Scrub the visible portion of the garbage disposal, paying special attention to the seam where the disposal flange meets the sink basin. Small particles have the tendency to linger there, and even mold can sometimes grow.

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
When you run the kitchen faucet while operating the garbage disposal, its housing never completely fills with water. That’s normal. But if your garbage disposal has begun to smell, it can be a huge help to give the guts of the appliance a good soak. Here’s how to do it: Plug the drain in your sink, fill the basin about halfway with water, and then add a bit of dish soap (or vinegar, a natural cleaner). Next, unplug the drain and activate the garbage disposal. Doing so propels the soapy water through the housing, rinsing off its hidden nooks and crannies.

STEP 3
Even after the bath you gave the garbage disposal in Step 2, there may still be slimy residue left inside the appliance. To dislodge it, you need to go only as far as the spice rack: As it happens, kosher salt can be an effective abrasive cleaner. Pour a large cup of ice cubes into the garbage disposal, switch on the appliance, then add one-half cup of the salt. Together, the ice and salt should combine to grind away what remains of the odor-causing residue.

By now, the garbage disposal smell that had been bothering you should be gone. If you’ve got an extra lemon lying around, why not imbue the kitchen with a fresh citrus scent by simply grinding a few peels through the appliance?

Preventing Bad Smells
Although it’s easy enough to eliminate a garbage disposal smell, prevention is perhaps the best cure. Bear in mind these simple guidelines, and you’ll cut down on the accumulated food residue in the disposal that causes the foul odors in the first place. First, remember to use the disposal only for the organic materials it was designed to handle. Also, try to keep fibrous vegetables—for example, celery—and starchy foods like potatoes out of there. Meanwhile, don’t be hesitant to put eggshells and small fruit pits through the machine, as they actually go a long way toward cleaning its blades. Finally, dispel persistent particles from within the housing by always running the machine for five seconds longer than you think is strictly necessary.

With regular care and a bit of extra attention on occasion, your garbage disposal can be a boon to your everyday life without becoming a stinky inconvenience.


How To: Clean Baseboards

It's not a glamorous task, but cleaning the baseboards goes a long way toward making a room look tidy and dust-free. Follow our suggestions for cleaning your baseboards more thoroughly—and less often—than ever before.

How to Clean Baseboards

Photo: shutterstock.com

You can spend hours washing the floor, dusting the furniture, and vacuuming the nooks and crannies in any given room, but so long as its baseboards are dirty, they are going to attract attention and create an overall impression of shabbiness and neglect. It’s by no means difficult to clean baseboards; this is not one of the great housekeeping challenges that you will face in life. Indeed, the trickiest bit is overcoming inertia. So if you’re actually reading this, the hard part is over!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Vacuum (with brush attachment or duster)
- Sponge
- Dish soap, vinegar, or wood cleaner
- Cotton swabs
- Dryer sheets

Rather than set out to clean the baseboards in every single room of your house all at once, make an agreement with yourself: Each and every time you break out the sponge and plastic gloves, you will clean the baseboards thoroughly in one room only. That way, the task of cleaning baseboards never becomes overwhelming. Also, remember that baseboards accumulate the dust and dirt that housework stirs up. Save the baseboards for last—don’t waste effort cleaning the same thing twice.

How to Clean Baseboards - Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
Begin the process by removing as much dust and dirt as you can from the area. If your vacuum has a brush attachment, use it to suction along the length of the baseboards, paying special attention to the crevice where the trim meets the floor. In lieu of a vacuum, you can rely on a duster to do a decent job of freeing up debris, which you can then corral and remove with a broom and dustpan.

STEP 2
Once you’ve removed all loose dirt and dust, you can begin to address stains and stuck-on grime. (Particularly in the kitchen, baseboards are the notorious hosts of unidentifiable splatters.) Dip a sponge into a mixture of warm water and dish soap (vinegar works well too), then go about scrubbing any marks that you can find. Note that if the baseboards in the room you are cleaning are stained, not painted, it may be preferable to use a cleaning solution formulated specifically for that application.

STEP 3
As you’re already crouched over cleaning the baseboards, you might as well do as good a job as possible. For those hard-to-reach spots—the crevice between the trim and flooring, for example, or around any imperfections that appear on the wood surface—use a cotton swab dipped in the cleaner.

STEP 4
Protect the baseboards’ newly acquired cleanliness by rubbing them with a fresh dryer sheet. Not only will this leave a fresh laundry scent that lasts a few days, but also—and more importantly—the sheet’s antistatic properties actually repel dust. Perhaps it sounds like overkill, but going this one step further can really pay off.

Unless you live in a fraternity house, you’re unlikely to find that your baseboards need to be cleaned weekly. In the grand scheme of housekeeping, baseboards are rather low maintenance. If you’re like me, you probably notice baseboards only when they are not clean. So if on each occasion that you clean, you live up to the promise of doing the baseboards in one room only, you may never notice them again!


How To: Aerate Your Lawn

Aeration is a recommended way of keeping your lawn healthy by ensuring that air, moisture, and nutrients are able to reach the roots. Here are two methods for aerating your lawn.

How to Aerate a Lawn - Plug Aerator

Photo: wynnslawncarenc.com

It’s not easy maintaining a lush carpet of green grass. We only see the blades on the lawn surface, but the health of any planted grass depends on factors at play underground. During the growing seasons—spring and fall, generally—experts recommend aeration as a means of ensuring that air, moisture, and nutrients are able to reach the roots. There are two ways to tackle the job: The best technique largely depends on the size of your property, but both are discussed in detail below.

How to Aerate a Lawn - Spike

Photo: shutterstock.com

Plug Aeration
For homeowners with a generously sized lawn, the most suitable method of aerating is by means of a low-tech mechanical tool known as a plug aerator. Buy or rent one at your local home center (note that some models may need to be rigged up to your riding mower). As you push the aerator along (or tug it behind your mower), the tool rotates hollow steel spikes into the soil. Those spikes, in turn, pull cylinders of dirt from the soil, leaving small holes in the ground through which air, moisture, and nutrients can travel to the grass roots. Rather than raking and removing the soil plugs that the aerator leaves in its wake, leave them where they lie; eventually, foot traffic and rain will return those cores to the soil bed.

Spike Aeration
Because it’s more labor intensive, spike aeration is suggested only for homeowners with lawns of modest size—say, a half acre or less. The tool used is nothing more sophisticated than a modified pitchfork. In fact, if you’d rather not buy or rent a spike aerator from your local home center, you can actually use a pitchfork if you happen to have one in your garden shed. There’s one main difference between a spike aerator and its mechanized cousin: The former has solid (not hollow) spikes, so it does not create the soil cores that distinguish the latter’s operation.

For best results with a spike aerator, take the time to prepare the lawn before getting down to business. That means raking and removing all the leaves and debris that might prove to be an impediment. Also, because dry earth is harder to grapple with than moist soil, you can make the going a little easier by watering the lawn beforehand. Make sure to give equal treatment to all sections of the grass. Choose a corner and start there. Go in a straight line across the grass, then turn and travel in the opposite direction, this time working to the side of your previous path. Continue back and forth in this manner until you have aerated the entire property.


How To: Paint a Door

A freshly painted door not only brightens up a room, it can also make a hallway look cleaner and more inviting. To get the best results the next time you're painting a door, check out this quick tutorial.

How to Paint a Door

Photo: mrkate.com

Considering the low cost of the project and the relative ease with which it can be completed, painting a door is a terrific way to add a punch of personality to any interior. Painting a door involves virtually no risk: If you decide to paint the door orange, let’s say, and you end up hating how it looks, no problem: You can always revert to the original color or experiment with a different one. That said, painting a door is different from painting other surfaces. It requires more planning, a slightly modified approach, and a few supplies you might not have anticipated. Follow the steps below, however, and you ought to encounter few difficulties.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Interior paint
- Sandpaper
- Tack cloth
- Mineral spirits
- Painter’s tape
- Paintbrush
- Roller (with paint tray)

STEP 1
If you’ve painted before, you’re most likely familiar with the idea that proper surface preparation means the difference between a smooth, lasting, beautiful finish and a sloppy-looking job. Satisfying, professional-level results begin with sanding, which goes a long way toward ensuring that the paint readily sticks to the door. Use 120-grit sandpaper and either manually, or by means of a hand-held power sander, sand the surface of the door in the direction of the wood grain. Once finished, wipe down the door with a lint-free tack cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Doing so removes the dust and oils that can interfere with paint adhesion.

How to Paint a Door - Green

Photo: camillestyles.com

STEP 2
Of course, the presence of hardware—that is, hinges and knobs and perhaps a locking mechanism—spells the crucial difference between a door panel and a wall of plaster or gypsum board. Avoid getting any paint on the door hardware, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because you might disturb the hardware’s functioning. The safest course is to remove the knob and lock—or to completely remove the door from the hinges—before you start painting in earnest. For those looking to avoid that sort of hassle, a decent compromise would be to protect the metal parts of the door with strategically positioned painter’s tape.

STEP 3
Paint the frame of the door (also known as the casing) first—assuming you want to—so that any errant brush strokes land on the door panel that you’re going to paint anyway. If you do choose to paint the frame, use a one- or two-inch brush and let the coat dry completely before you proceed any further. That way, you won’t have to tread carefully later on, fearing that your next movement might result in an unsightly smudge.

STEP 4
Are you painting a door with inset panels? If so, paint those before the rest of the door. As you did with the door casing, use a one- or two-inch brush for this round of detail work. Your goal is to get these more-demanding aspects of the job out of the way, so you can then speedily finish with a roller.

STEP 5
A roller not only enables you to work faster, but it also delivers a smoother finish. As you go, remember to blend in any brush marks created in earlier steps. To avoid leaving fingerprints, it’s smart to paint one side of the door, let it dry completely, and then go on to paint the edge of the door and the opposite side.

A word to the wise: While the paint is drying, minimize imperfections by keeping pets and children away from the door. Replace any hardware you’ve removed only after the paint is fully dry. Finally, step back and marvel at what a difference a painted door can make!


How To: Plant Grass Seed

Whether you're starting a new lawn or just filling in some bare patches, here's how to get the best results the next time you sow grass seed.

How to Plant Grass Seed

Photo: shutterstock.com

Do you want to establish a new lawn or rescue a worse-for-wear patch on your property? The solution is, of course, to plant grass seed. But to do so successfully, you must bear in mind several considerations. It’s not quite as simple as spreading seeds over the ground, adding water, and waiting for sun. If you follow these few steps, however, you should find that it’s not overly challenging to plant grass seed—and it’s very rewarding to watch a lush carpet of green slowly take form!

STEP 1
Start by identifying and purchasing a good-quality grass seed. To narrow the field of options, focus on only those products rated by the National Turf Evaluation Program. Its approval indicates that the seeds in question are hardy and resistant to disease, pests, and drought. Bear in mind that countless types of seed are out there, so you should be able to choose a variety that responds to your individual needs. For example, some grass seeds have been bred to thrive in shade.

How to Plant Grass Seed - Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Spring and fall are the best times of year to sow grass seed; average temperatures are warm enough to foster seed germination yet wet enough to support healthy development. If you are planting in the fall, leave enough time before the onset of winter. Because different types of grasses take different amounts of time to germinate, consult the seed company’s recommendations and your local weather forecast before you sow grass seed in the fall.

STEP 3
Take care to prepare the ground in which you are going to sow the seeds. If you are establishing a new lawn, it’s recommended that you loosen the soil to a depth of two inches, removing debris such as sticks and stones in order to maintain adequate air circulation. Add topsoil wherever you detect dips or depressions in the soil grade, because grass tends not to fare well under standing water.

It’s comparatively easier to prepare an existing lawn for reseeding. First, mow the grass that’s already there; cut it as closely as you can to the ground. In the bare areas, loosen the top quarter-inch of soil. Remove any sticks or stones and add new topsoil to level out any sections that are lower than grade.

STEP 4
At last, you can begin spreading seeds over the ground. You can do this by hand or with a lawn spreader. In either case, aim to deposit about 16 seeds over each square inch of soil. No, you don’t need to count out the seeds, but for your grass to achieve even coverage, you’ve got to plant seeds in the appropriate density.

Fertilize once you’ve finished seeding. After that, it’s a matter of watering—but never over-watering—the newly planted lawn. The best strategy is to run your sprinklers on a regular basis but for brief durations. Lay off the mower until the grass has risen to a height of about two inches, and remember to water daily.


How To: Clean Granite Countertops

To maintain its glossy shine, granite should be cleaned regularly—and carefully. Here's how.

How to Clean Granite Countertops

Photo: shutterstock.com

In many people’s minds, granite means strength and resilience. But to clean granite countertops successfully, a homeowner must act with caution. The stone can actually be damaged by many of the products and techniques that are perfectly safe to use on other kitchen surfaces. You don’t have to be a genius to clean granite countertops; the job just requires a bit of extra care and attention. Follow the steps outlined here, and you’re bound to be satisfied with the result of your efforts.

REGULAR CLEANING
Your best bet is nothing more sophisticated than mild dish soap that’s been diluted with water. Bear in mind, however, that because granite scratches easily, the solution ought to be applied with a cotton cloth or soft sponge—that is, not with an abrasive scrubber. Before gently wiping down the counter, wring out the cloth or sponge so as not to compromise the highly absorbent stone (it can become discolored under standing water). Dry off the countertop as a final stage in this routine, not only to protect the granite from water damage but also to eliminate streaks and leave the surface with an eye-catching, irresistible shine.

STAIN REMOVAL
Don’t panic! Most of the time, stained granite countertops can be cleaned with household items so common that you probably already have them in your pantry. No matter the source of the stain, start with baking soda. If you wish to clean a water stain, mix the baking soda with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. For an oil-based stain, mix the baking soda with water. In either case, the mixture should generate a thick paste. Generously spread that over the stain, then cover the area with plastic wrap, taping down its edges. Leave the stain remover overnight (or even for a couple of days), before rinsing and wiping down the granite.

ADDING PROTECTION
Most installations of granite are protected by a layer of sealant. If you’ve repeatedly tried and failed to remove stains from your counters, chances are that the sealant has ceased to function as it should. In situations where the sealant is to blame, stained granite becomes difficult or impossible to clean, at least for the average do-it-yourselfer. Your best bet is to hire a professional to completely clean and then properly reseal the stone, thereby preventing future problems.


What Would Bob Do? Deciding Whether to Prime

Is priming necessary? It depends on what you're painting. Read on to find out when it is—and isn't—important to prime.

Paint Primer Tips

Photo: shutterstock.com

Is it more effective to do one coat of primer and one of paint, or skip the primer and use two coats of paint? The walls have already been painted in the past.

Many would-be do-it-yourselfers don’t know quite what to make of primer. Is it always necessary, or is it completely optional? Is priming ever actually a critical step in the painting process? Is the strongest argument in favor of primer simply that it’s a smart thing to do? In other words, when is priming required?

Here’s the first thing to know about primer: It should be used only on unpainted surfaces. So if you want to give a new color to something in your home—crown molding, let’s say—there’s no need to prime if that something has been painted previously. Simply clean it with a solution of TSP and water, then proceed to paint.

In the case of raw wood, however, the best practice is to apply an initial coat of primer/sealer. Doing so prevents wood sap from discoloring the job. Along the way, the primer conveniently fills minor dings and depressions in the surface. But the main thing primer does is serve as an even substrate beneath the top coat finish.

Many products today combine primer, sealer, and top coat into a single formulation. These self-priming paints are surprisingly effective, given that they enable you to complete jobs in less time and with less hassle. You save money, too, by not having to purchase primer and paint in quantities sufficient for multiple coats.

Even so, primer remains a valuable resource in the do-it-yourselfer’s arsenal. Most useful are those primers specially designed for a specific application. For instance, there’s no substitute for drywall primer, which works great on—you guessed it—drywall. Likewise, metal primers are essential when you’re painting bare metal. And when you wish to achieve a perfectly smooth, glossy finish, don’t take any chances: Go with the primer recommended for the enamel paint of your choice.


How To: Paint Glass

Sure, you can paint glass. You just need the right materials and know-how. Try our quick tutorial for satisfying results.

How to Paint Glass - Bottles

Photo: freepeople.com

Smooth and reflective, glass makes a lovely canvas for paint. If, however, you’ve never before tried to paint glass, you may be surprised to learn that the approach differs from that used for traditional building materials. Even so, it’s easy for first-timers to achieve satisfying, often remarkable results.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Glass paint (explanation below)
- Paintbrush or applicator sponge
- Lint-free cloth
- Latex gloves (optional)

Notes on Materials
At least three types of paint may be used on glass: acrylic enamel, acrylics marked as suitable for tile or glass, and specially formulated solvent-based paints. Your local store is likely to carry a range of options. To make your selection, compare products on the basis of color range, transparency, and degree of permanence.

STEP 1
Before you can paint glass with any success, take the time to clean it thoroughly. Use hot and soapy water in combination with a clean cotton cloth. Wait for the glass to dry completely before you proceed. Also, bear in mind that to avoid smudging the glass with your fingers, it’s wise to wear latex gloves while you work.

How to Paint Glass - Brushes

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
No matter what type of glass paint you have chosen to use, be sure to read the instructions that came with the product. For some glass paints, there are peripheral steps to execute, such as applying an undercoat or overcoat. Ignoring such requirements could mean compromising the quality of your finish.

Any type of paintbrush may be used. While synthetic-bristle brushes leave visible strokes, natural-bristle brushes give you smooth, even coverage. Applicator sponges, meanwhile, are the most common choice for painting with a stencil. Do-it-yourselfers typically find a stencil or transfer can make the project easier.

If you can access both sides of the glass surface you are painting, then consider the following approach. It’s not stenciling per se, but the technique is similar, and if you’re aiming to create a specific, preplanned pattern, it’s easier to do it this way (as opposed to freehand). Simply trace your pattern onto a piece of paper, then hold that paper against the glass on the side opposite to the one you are painting. As you go along, the pattern will serve as a guide to help you keep your lines straight and your proportions correct.

STEP 3
The necessity of the next step depends on the glass paint you’ve chosen. The issue is that in order to retain its finish, painted glassware often needs to be baked; the oven heat stabilizes the paint and gives it durability. Consult the instructions that came with your product to determine whether this step is required. If you haven’t yet made a purchase, try to find a glass paint that can last without baking. Know too that glass paint markers are an option; their fine tips are particularly good for detail work and writing.