Author Archives: Roseann Foley Henry

About Roseann Foley Henry

Roseann Foley Henry is a writer, editor, and home improvement buff. She and her partner and their two children live in Bayside, where they are ever-so-slowly renovating a classic 1920 Dutch Colonial. Among her writing credits are The Life of a House, the story of a tiny gatekeeper’s lodge that was once home to her great-grandparents in County Clare, Ireland. Check her out on Google +!

Bob Vila Radio: Painting Wood Paneling

Rather than remove the wood paneling you no longer care for in your home, consider painting it to give the treatment an entirely new look at a low cost, with minimum hassle.

Wood paneling certainly has a place in the home. It can make a space feel traditional and warm, but it can also look dark and dated. If your paneling is getting you down, you could tear it out or hide it behind drywall. But if the paneling is in good shape, it may be quicker, cheaper, and easier to brighten it up with a few coats of paint. Here’s how.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING WOOD PANELING or read the text below:

Painted Wood Paneling

Photo: decorpad.com

Start by washing the wood-paneled walls with a solution of TSP and water. Fill any nail holes, gouges, or other imperfections with spackle, let it dry, then sand. Now lightly sand the entire paneled area to scuff it up (don’t forget the trim and baseboards). Scuffing will help that first coat of primer adhere. Be sure to wear a dust mask and to wipe away the dust with a damp rag as you go.

Once the surface is sanded and dust-free, move on to priming. For best results, use a stain-blocking primer and plan on two coats.

Finish by applying your chosen paint. Put on two or three coats, lightly sanding between each one. For a smoother finish, opt for a foam sponge roller cover. Keep a paintbrush handy for cutting in at corners and wiping up drips. Then step back and admire the new, lighter view.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Starting Vegetables from Seeds Indoors

In some climates—the chillier ones—this is the time of year to start vegetable seeds indoors so that once the weather warms, you're ready with strong seedlings to put in the ground.

Now that spring is here, many people’s thoughts turn to gardening, and to the joys of leafy salads and delicate spring vegetables. Depending on where you live, it’s probably too early to sow most vegetable seeds outdoors, but now may be just the right time to start seeds indoors.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON STARTING VEGETABLES FROM SEED INDOORS or read the text below:

Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Photo: preparedforsurvival.blogspot.com

There are plenty of good reasons to grow vegetables from seed. For one, starting seeds can be cheaper than purchasing seedlings. Another big benefit is choice: If you start from seed, you aren’t limited to the varieties stocked by your local garden store. Particularly now, with increased interest in heirloom and organic varieties, there’s a huge world of seeds to choose from online.

Another plus—starting from seed lets you get a jump on the growing season. If you’re conscientious, by the time the threat of frost has passed, you’ll have strong young seedlings ready to thrive outdoors in the ground.

Finally, starting seeds indoors gives you more control over your plants’ early environment and may increase your chances of success. Keep in mind, however, that some plants do better when they’re direct-seeded—in other words, sown directly into the ground. Always read instructions on the seed package, so you’ll know which approach works best, as well as the plant’s germination period and the best time to transplant the seedling.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Wallpaper Prep

Before tackling this tricky task, take the time to properly prep the wall you are going to paper. Here's how it's done.

Hanging wallpaper can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort for the beautiful effect it can have on a room. As with so many do-it-yourself jobs, the secret to great results is in the preparation. Here are a few tips to help you achieve professional-looking results.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WALLPAPER PREP or read the text below:

Wallpaper Prep

Photo: timticks.com

First, put a coat of primer on the walls to be papered. Primer seals the surface and protects against moisture building up beneath the paper. It also keeps the wallpaper adhesive from penetrating into your walls, which makes it impossible to remove the paper if and when you opt for a new look. And if the walls are painted a dark color and your paper is light, a coat of white primer will help conceal any small imperfections in your seams.

Once the primer is dry, apply a coat of sizing on the walls. Sizing creates a slick, glossy surface that will make it much easier to maneuver the paper as you’re installing it. Without sizing, your paper can stick to the wall before it’s in its final position, and that can cause the paper to tear when you try to move it. On a sized wall, you can slide the paper around to get it right. Sizing has a thin, watery consistency and can be applied with a paint roller. Be sure it’s dry before you start papering.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: High Hats

For understated room lighting around the house, consider the space-saving convenience of recessed high hats.

Choosing the best lighting can be a bit of a challenge.  Some rooms need cozy, subdued lighting to create ambience; others need high-wattage task lights to allow you to get the job done. But if what you need is overall room lighting that takes up barely any space at all, there’s nothing like a high hat.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HIGH HATS or read the text below:

High Hat Lighting

Photo: lowes.com

High hats are recessed lights—often called can lights—that are flush with the finished ceiling (the fixture itself is up inside the joists). High hats are terrific for illuminating large areas, where you need lots of light, such as kitchens, offices, and basements. They’re also great in hallways, where you need strong light for safe passage, but there’s not a lot of room for a hanging fixture or floor lamps.

Today’s high hats aren’t the simple industrial-looking can lights of yesteryear. You can find stylish models with a wide variety of trim kits to get just the look you want, including “eyebrow” styles that can help direct some of that overhead light in a specific direction.

Remember, if you’re installing high hats in a ceiling that is or will be insulated, choose fixtures that are insulation-rated, meaning that you can install insulation right up against them. High hats going into shower stalls or over bathtubs should have a shower trim, which has a gasket that keeps moisture out of the fixture.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Freestanding vs. Built-In Tubs

Freestanding tubs add an element of luxury that simply cannot be matched by traditional built-ins. Appealing though they may be, freestanding tubs aren't the right choice in every renovation. You've got to weigh the pros and cons.

Freestanding tubs are becoming increasingly popular in today’s luxury bathrooms. Is one right for your bath? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FREESTANDING VS. BUILT-IN TUBS or read the text below:

Freestanding Tubs

Photo: vangviet.com

Freestanding tubs are finished on all sides, so you can plunk one down right in the middle of a room. The category includes commodious soaking tubs, vintage-look clawfoots, and sinuous modern designs. Freestanding tubs are great for making a dramatic sculptural impact and creating a spa-like atmosphere. They’re available in lots of styles and in materials ranging from acrylics to cast iron to high-end stones, metals, and woods. The plumbing typically comes up from the floor, not through a wall, and faucets usually attach to the tub.

Because they’re set away from the walls and tend to be larger than standard built-ins, freestanding tubs take up more space. Depending on the material they’re made of, they can be quite heavy and may require reinforcing the floor. They’re not the best choice if you need a shower and don’t have space for a standalone—most freestanding tubs don’t do double-duty as showers. Be warned that faucets for freestanding tubs tend to be pricey. And one last caveat: Because a freestanding tub doesn’t have a surround to hold toiletries, you’ll need storage or a small table to keep all those candles and soaps handy while you’re having a relaxing, steaming soak.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: First Day of Spring

Gardeners, rejoice! It's the first day of spring. But before getting your hands dirty, take the time to make sure your garden is ready for planting. Here's how.

Today is March 20, the vernal equinox, better known as the first day of spring. For most of us around the country, this is a day that couldn’t come soon enough. After this tough winter, gardeners are especially joyful today.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING or read the text below:

First Day of Spring

Photo: shutterstock.com

Of course, just because the calendar says it’s spring, that doesn’t mean you can dash out and start planting. Some areas still have snow on the ground or temperatures that dip below freezing at night. And even if you feel spring in the air, the danger of frost may not be past, so consult a garden zone map to see when your zone is considered safe from freezing.

March is also mud season in lots of places, with melted snow and spring rains combining to make a squishy mess of lawns and gardens. Don’t try to start gardening too soon—it’s a waste of time to do anything until the soil dries out a bit. Cold, muddy soil is simply not hospitable to seeds.

If you’re eager to plant and want to check your soil, stick a shovel or pitchfork down into it six inches or so. When you pull it out, check to see if muddy soil sticks to it. If it does, it’s not time yet. Wait until a shovel comes out cleanly before you start to plant.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Squares

When you need to create accurate angles as part of a home improvement project, there's no substitute for the trusty carpenter's square.

One tool that should definitely be in any do-it-yourselfer’s toolbox is a good carpenter’s square. A square helps you keep your corners sharp and your angles accurate. Here’s what you need to know about choosing and using squares.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SQUARES or read the text below:

Carpenter's Square

Photo: shutterstock.com

A basic framing square is L-shaped and looks like a metal ruler bent at a 90-degree angle. That corner allows you to join and double-check pieces to be sure they are truly square. A better choice for most jobs, though, is the speed square, which is shaped like a right triangle. Its 90-degree corner lets you check for squareness, but the side opposite that right angle is marked like a protractor, with degrees that help you cut all kinds of angles, whether for mitered corners and other custom cuts.

Another advantage of the speed square is the flat edge along one side that lets you butt it up against one side of a job or position it securely along the edge of your workpiece. You can even use it as a cutting guide when you’re using a circular saw.

For more complicated jobs, you may want to consider an adjustable, T-shaped combination square. The trunk of the T can be slid along the header and tightened at any point, making it extremely useful for any number of jobs.

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Whole House To-Do List

If you look around the house and see nothing but projects that need to get done, it could be time to make a whole house to-do list. Use these guidelines to create a list of home improvement projects, big and small, and get your house in shape for the spring.

When you look around your house, are you overwhelmed at the number of things that need to be repaired, replaced, or reorganized? If so, it’s time to make a whole-house to-do list—a laundry list of nagging household projects, both big and small.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WHOLE HOUSE TO-DO LISTS or read the text below:

Whole House To Do List

Shutterstock

First, grab a pad of paper, a pencil, and a spouse or friend with a critical eye. Go from room to room, writing down anything that requires attention. Ignore everyday tasks like cleaning; focus instead on repairs and improvements like the drippy faucet and the dinged enamel on the stove; broken light fixtures; rooms in need of additional outlets; walls that need painting; windows that need caulking; the hall closet that needs purging. Consider the big picture. If you think you’ll be moving within the next few years, your list should include cosmetic fixes like interior painting. If you’d like to stay in the house as you age, include the installation of amenities like grab bars, shower seats, and lever door handles.

Now organize the list by complexity, from weekend DIY projects through large-scale renovations. Assign time estimates and priorities to the smaller tasks, and devise a long-term plan for tackling the bigger projects. Keep your list handy so the next time you have a spare hour or two, you’ll know exactly what you can do with it!

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Thinking Green Year-Round

On Saint Patrick's Day, it's easy to think green, but what about the other 364 days of the year?

It’s easy to think green on Saint Patrick’s Day—in fact, it would be hard NOT to think green today! But with each passing year, it becomes more important to think green every day.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON THINKING GREEN YEAR ROUND or read the text below:

Think Green

Photo: shutterstock.com

By that I mean thinking not about leprechauns but about our environment. Many of the innovations that have improved our lives have done so at risk to our planet. So here are some easy ways to put some green into your everyday lives:

• First, be mindful of the resources you use, and do your best to use less. That means turning out lights when you leave a room, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and doing all those simple things you’ve heard a hundred times. On this green day, resolve to really do them.

• Second, think twice about the toxins we unwittingly release into the atmosphere, and find ways to avoid them. You don’t need chemicals to have a healthy lawn and garden, and you don’t need them to unclog your drains or keep your kitchen clean. Look for earth-friendly products when you shop, or make your own.

• Finally, commit to recycling—we can all find ways to reduce the amount of trash we generate each day. So when you make your toast to St. Patrick today, be sure the bottle ends up in the recycling bin, not the trash can!

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.


Bob Vila Radio: Painting Garage Floors

Perhaps the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to make your garage less grim is by painting the concrete floor with either regular paint or epoxy.

Paint Garage Floor

Photo: capstonepainting.com

Your garage may be your workshop, your storeroom, your potting shed or the place where you showcase your automotive pride and joy. Although you may have spent lots of time sprucing up your garage walls, windows, and doors, chances are you haven’t spent any time beautifying the floor. But the truth is, a little attention to the floor can go a long way to making your garage a more comfortable place.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PAINTING GARAGE FLOORS or read the text below:

If you have a plain concrete floor that’s relatively flat and level, the easiest way to spruce it up is by painting. A coat of floor paint is an instant upgrade—you can even stencil in a fun design, if you’re feeling ambitious. There are also epoxy coating kits that are great for hiding small imperfections, and you get to throw down a shower of color chips when you’re done to create the final confetti finish.

Before applying either paint or epoxy, you’ll want to be sure the floor is as clean and dry as possible. You may need to bleach or even use an etching compound to get the concrete ready for its new coat. Fill any cracks before you paint, and be sure to open windows and run a fan while you work to keep the garage well ventilated.

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.