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.

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


Quick Tip: Safety Glasses

Be smart and wear safety glasses whenever airborne particles or debris are part of the home improvement project you're working on.

Contemporary safety glasses are much improved. They offer comfort and clear vision as well as protection from flying objects. Always use safety glasses when sawing wood, cutting tile, installing insulation or doing any other activity that may involve airborne particles or debris. Always have safety glasses handy. Make them a part of your toolkit.

For more on safety, consider:

Workshop Safety
Protective Gear
8 Home Hazards—and How to Mitigate Them


How To: Install a Sink Shut-Off Valve

Install a sink shut-off valve—or a pair of them—so that if and when repairs becomes necessary, it's easy to interrupt the water supply.

Here’s how to install a hot or cold water shut-off valve under your sink. Apply plumbing sealant to the shut-off threads and attach it with a nut from the faucet tube. Measure the length of the copper pipe you need to connect the shut-off valve to the coupling in the floor. Finish the job by soldering both joints.

For more on plumbing, consider:

How To: Install a New Kitchen Sink
8 Common Water Problems—and Their Cures
Top Tips for Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure


Quick Tip: Joist Hangers

Joist hangers not only simplify the framing process but also strengthen the deck or floor you are building.

When hanging floor joists, use joist hangers to make building a floor deck simpler. Place hangers every 16 inches on center. Position each hanger using the tab to hold it in place. Nail one side on at a time. Use a scrap of two-by as a nailing guide for the other side. If possible, nail them to your ledger board in advance. Now properly secure the ledger boards onto your walls. Set each floor joist into place and secure them with nails. Always check with your local building inspector.

For more on framing, consider:

Quick Tip: Using Metal Studs
How To: Identify a Bearing Wall
Engineered Wood Floor Joist System (VIDEO)


How To: Make a Paint Pail

There are several good reasons not to paint directly out of a can. Instead, make a paint pail of your own within minutes.

Most professionals paint from a pail rather than a can. Painting out of a can is messy, causing rim buildup and dripping. Here’s an easy way to turn an empty paint can into a pail. Use the blade of a five-in-one putty knife to remove the can’s rim in one piece, and use the sides of the pail to remove excess paint from the brush.

For more on painting tools, consider:

Selecting the Right Painting Tools
9 Creative Uses for Old Paint Cans
Quick Tip: Avoiding Paint Spills and Spatters