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Genius! The Free Kitchen Hack for Every Squeeze Bottle

Nothing ruins a barbecue faster than warm, watered-down ketchup or mustard dribbling all over your food. Stop struggling with half-empty squeeze bottles with the fix you already have in your fridge!

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Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: youtube.com via Alton Brown

Alton Brown, the Food Network chef behind Good Eats, is a man who loves his mustard. He’s penned more than a dozen recipes that feature the all-American condiment, including his signature homemade mustard, a pork chop brine, and a honey salad dressing. But even a professional like Brown knows the struggle of getting sauce out of a half-empty squeeze bottle. It’s a dance everyone is familiar with: Hot dog in hand, with a heart full of hope, you give the bottle a few shakes and a firm squeeze—only to watch a slow stream of condiment water dribble over your food. Yuck!

Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy from Alton Brown

Photo: youtube.com via Alton Brown

With his hot dog getting cold, Brown looked in his fridge for a fix to prevent spoiling any future sandwiches. Inside he found an egg carton, and a simple, satisfying epiphany! After picking out the last few eggs, he cut off the lid of the container. Then, he put the bottom half of the carton inside the door, where it fit perfectly in the top shelf. With gravity on his side, he turned the bottles upside-down in the fridge—this time corralled in the once egg-holding grooves that also happen to perfectly fit the cap ends. That one simple flip (steadied with the help of an inventive caddy) makes sure that condensation is no longer the first thing that comes out the next time you squeeze your favorite cookout condiments.

Sure, this may be a first-world problem. But wrestling with a bottle of mustard, ketchup, or mayo while the rest of the family is partying on the patio is a bummer at any gathering. Lucky for us, Brown has shared a solution that’s as good in the refrigerator as it is on a picnic table outdoors. So why not cut up this quick fix—and cut out the hassle—so you can get back to the barbecue?

FOR MORE: Alton Brown on YouTube


So, You Want to… Waterproof Your Basement

Basement waterproofing can be a confusing (and expensive) process. But if you're dealing with leaky foundation walls or water welling up from the floor, finding an effective means of managing these problems could save you a lot in the long run. Here's a quick rundown of your options for keeping downstairs dry.

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Basement Waterproofing - Leak

Photo: istockphoto.com

Unless your plan is to install a swimming pool in your basement, you probably cringe at the idea of water trickling in beneath your house. While the best time to waterproof is during new construction, if you live in an older structure, you don’t have that luxury. There are, however, a few measures you can take to protect your home from water, running the gamut from inexpensive safeguards to high-dollar professional remedies. Here’s all the information you need to choose the best solution for your basement.

Basement Waterproofing

Photo: istockphoto.com

EXTERIOR REMEDIES
The most effective way to waterproof a basement is from the outside. Doing so, however, involves excavating the soil away from the exterior of the foundation on all sides and installing drain tile (a flexible perforated pipe covered with mesh or fabric) at the base of the foundation.

You’ll most likely need a permit before starting, and some building authorities will allow only a licensed contractor to do the job. Digging a 7- or 8-foot-deep trench around your foundation is dangerous; it comes with a high risk of collapse, so it’s usually better to seek out an excavation contractor who employs safe digging techniques and trench bracing, anyway. Timing is essential: Schedule your contractor during a relatively dry season, or you could end up with a trench full of water that will have to be pumped out before work can continue.

Drain tile also requires the installation of a sump pit where the water will collect before it’s pumped to the surface via a sump pump. You can choose to have a sump pit installed inside, beneath the basement floor, or outside the house, typically below a window well.

While the drain tile is being installed, you or your contractor should take this time to repair, patch, and seal the exterior foundation walls. Patch large cracks with a mortar-based product, and when dry, roll, brush, or spray on an exterior masonry sealant. All said, this is an expensive project that can cost upwards of $10,000, but it’s the surest way to stop the leaks.

INTERIOR REMEDIES
Interior remedies can be helpful in the cases that leakage is minimal or if exterior excavation is out of the question. If you have fine cracks that seep slowly (or just look damp), your basement might be a good candidate for an interior sealant. Most interior masonry sealants work only on unpainted concrete walls—if your walls are painted, the sealant can’t form good contact and results are likely to be poor. Available in one- and five-gallon buckets, these sealants require a heavy-duty brush or roller to apply and can cost between $50 and $500 when treating 100 square feet of wall, depending on product quality and the number of coats that need to be applied.

If the walls have numerous or wide cracks, or if previous attempts to seal the walls were unsuccessful, you may want to consider installing an interior floor drain system. This process is similar to that of installing exterior drain tile, but excavation is shallow and confined to the inside perimeter of the basement floor. If you’re comfortable running a concrete saw and a jackhammer—and you have a strong back—you can potentially do this job yourself, although it’s labor-intensive and messy. Installation requires excavating a trench along the basement walls, filling it with pea gravel and perforated drain tile, installing a sump pit for water collection, and then filling in the trench with concrete so that a narrow grate is the only evidence that a drain lies beneath. Typically, plastic panels are installed over leaky walls to direct water downward to the grate. Installation of the trench drain, the sump pit, and the panels can run into thousands of dollars, but doing the labor yourself can save you a little cash.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
Even if you don’t need to fully waterproof your basement, you should at least take steps to protect your foundation from water. Install gutters and downspouts, and attach downspout extensions that direct rainfall away from your house. If your yard does not already slope away from the foundation at a minimum 2 percent grade, bring in topsoil to build up the level of the soil around the foundation. Relocate foundation plantings that require frequent watering, and install waterproof window well covers on any basement windows that can’t be used for egress.

Water that pools by the foundation is always problematic. If you have clay soil that swells when wet, it can exert lateral pressure on the exterior foundation walls, increasing the risk of cracking and shifting. Frost heave during freeze-thaw cycles can also damage the foundation. Remember: Water and basements don’t mix. If you’re proactive in keeping water away from your foundation, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your basement, and the rest of your home, safe, and dry.


Pet Hair Everywhere? Finally, a Versatile Solution

Here's an innovative solution to a problem that's been frustrating homeowners for years—pet hair. If you're sick and tired of vacuuming, then keep reading for all the details on the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System.

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Pet Hair Removal Solution

Photo: fotosearch.com

Does it only take strangers a quick glance to know there’s a Fluffy or Fido in your life? Indeed, the loose strands of fur on all your clothing may tell the world that you’re a pet owner, but you’ve still got a dirty secret: No matter how much pet hair may be one your coat, there’s plenty more back at home. Especially during the winter, when cats and dogs spend so much time indoors, it can sometimes feel like you’re suffocating beneath a blanket of fur, with everything from the floors to the furniture virtually covered. Brush and fluff all you want, but despite your best efforts, it can still be easy to conclude that you’re fighting a losing battle.

Since adopting a border collie mix puppy, now seven years old, we’ve grown accustomed to a cleaning schedule that basically hinges on the shedding tendencies of our Shayna. Always productive but never perfect, the routine involves exhausting, seemingly constant vacuuming. Coming off the long winter last year, hoping to seize command of the situation, I resolved to be more proactive. Rather than sit and wait for hair to accumulate, I would tackle the problem at the source—Shayna herself (specifically, her dense undercoat). My plan? For once, I would follow the advice that, for a good reason, I had mostly ignored until now.

It’s no secret that to conquer a pet hair problem, it’s critically important to de-shed your cat or dog in a contained, controlled way, removing the hair from your home before it has the chance to go where it’s not wanted. Shayna gets a haircut a few times per year, at those times when her fur becomes unruly. Beyond that, though, we pretty much leave her coat alone, simply because Shayna hates to be poked and prodded with such things as combs and hand rakes. That’s why I was delighted to discover a line of grooming tools designed to be comfortable for your pet—the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System, available at PetSmart locations nationwide.

Pet Hair Removal Solution - Shayna 1

Photo: DBSchwartz

Pet Hair Removal Solution - Shayna 2

Photo: DBSchwartz

FURminator® FURflex™ gives me a veritable arsenal of grooming tools, as the system includes a set of interchangeable heads, each with its own specific purpose. To begin de-shedding Shayna, I reached for the Dual Slicker Brush. After clicking the brush into place on the multi-purpose handle that comes with the kit, I went ahead and started detangling the fur and smoothing the matted areas. While I expected Shayna to resist—and at first, she did—she quickly calmed down. I figure it’s because the flexible sides of the tool move independently, allowing the bristles to follow natural body contours, without scratching the skin or yanking the fur.

I certainly didn’t expect to witness Shayna tolerate, if not enjoy, the initial grooming. But for me, the biggest surprise of all came once I moved onto the second included attachment, the deShedding Tool. Its curved edge glides comfortably along the body, removing loose hair but neither cutting nor damaging the topcoat. With each pass, the deShedding Tool brought away another robust clump of hair, each one larger than the last. (To remove clumps from the tool, just push the aptly named, super useful FURjector button.) By the time I’d finished, there was a giant, six-inch-tall mound of hair sitting next to my newly groomed Shayna.

Working in tandem, the different components of the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System reduce shedding by up to 90 percent. Of course, in a home with cats or dogs, there’s no way to bid farewell to pet hair completely. But by using the system frequently, you can go a long way toward minimizing the amount of extra clean-up you must do. Plus, the kit includes a special tool, the FUR Accumulator, which makes picking up stubborn, lingering hairs a painless process. Simply brush the wide paddle over any household surface, and hair sticks right to it. When you’re ready, give the tool a light tap to dispose of the hair in the trash.

I love Shayna. What I don’t love is dealing with all the hair that she sheds. The FURminator® Tool isn’t magic; the kit doesn’t eliminate pet hair problems without you needing to lift a finger. But for the modest investment of effort that it requires from one week to the next, de-shedding with the Fulminator® delivers ample rewards. On the one hand, it leaves your pet’s coat looking healthy, lustrous, and clean. On the other, it helps you solve the problem of household pet hair once and for all. Now, you can spend less time cleaning and more time taking pleasure in the time you spend under your own roof.

Pet Hair Removal Solution - Furminator Isolated

Photo: furminator.com

This post has been brought to you by FURminator® Professional Pet Products. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Plane a Door

Talk about an exit strategy! Here’s an open-and-shut case for fixing a common problem yourself.

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How to Plane a Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

It’s easy to take doors for granted. Until they start sticking or binding, that is—or you install a new floor and suddenly have a clearance problem. The ideal gap between a door and its frame is about 1/8 inch on all sides, so once you’ve determined that the door isn’t overly snug due to loose hinges (which can be tightened for an easy fix), you may need to shave, or plane, excess wood from the raised side to get it working smoothly again. Your go-to tool? A plain old hand planer. Its sharp, angled blade shaves thin strips of wood as you push it over the surface, and while electric planers or belt sanders can be used for planing, the simpler device gives you maximum control.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Cardboard or paper
- Ruler or straightedge
- Pencil
- Carpenter’s compass
- Doorstop
- Screwdriver or drill
- Sawhorses (optional)
- Hand planer

How to Plane a Door - How to Plane Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Open and close the door a few times (if it’s not blocked at the bottom) to see where it’s rubbing the jamb. Run a thin piece of cardboard or paper between the jamb and door to identify a starting and ending point for the raised area; mark these points with a pencil on the side—not the edge—of the door. If it helps you see the planing zone better, use a ruler and pencil to draw a line between the points. This might be a short length, or the entire edge might need a shave. In the latter case, use a carpenter’s compass: Set the pencil tip and compass point about 1/8 inch apart and run the point down the jamb to draw a straight line down the vertical edge of the door. Do this on both sides of the door so the full-length cut will be symmetrical. If you’re trimming from the bottom to accommodate flooring, measure 1/8 inch up from the floor’s surface.

STEP 2
If the door is only slightly out of square and just a small raised section needs to be removed, you should be able to avoid removing it from the frame. Immobilize it with a doorstop and plane it in place (see Step 3). But for maximum control and to plane longer portions, take the door off its hinges with a screwdriver or drill.

Turn the door so that the edge requiring adjustment is facing you. Hold it in place between your legs and plane the high spots from above. For a full-length trim, remove the hinges from the back and take wood from the back or hinged edge of the door—this will allow you to avoid detaching latch hardware. If you need to remove up to an inch at the top or bottom of the door, lay it flat across two sawhorses—for this work, skip the hand planer and start with a circular saw, then finish with a sander.

STEP 3
On vertical edges, shave following the wood grain; on horizontals, work toward the center from each outside edge. Apply steady but light pressure on the planer so you don’t gouge the wood or shave off more than necessary. Unlike a bad haircut, trimmed wood won’t grow back!

Tip: If you find you must remove more than 1/8 inch, consider using an electric planer or belt sander, but remember that what you gain in speed you sacrifice in control. Proceed carefully with power tools to avoid creating visible dips or gouges.

STEP 4
After planing the intended amount, rehang the door and give it a swing. If it’s still sticking, remove it and shave a little more. Once it opens and closes perfectly, remove it to sand, prime, and paint the planed surfaces. Reinstall any hardware you might have removed before rehanging the door for good.


How To: Get Rid of Grubs

Grubs can over time turn your lawn into a brown, patchy mess. Learn how to identify and then eradicate an infestation before it's bad news for your property.

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How to Get Rid of Grubs - Lawn Damage

Photo: istockphoto.com

They don’t care who you are or where you live. You won’t see them coming, and by the time they make their presence known, you could have a full-blown infestation on your hands. Grubs! Lawn-loving larvae of various beetles, these tiny trespassers lurk beneath the surface of your grass, feasting on the roots and causing unsightly brown patches. We’ve put together the best ways, both natural and chemical, to rid your yard of greedy grubs.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Shovel
- Hb nematodes
- Milky spore
- Curative grub control with trichlorfon
- Preventative grub control with imidacloprid or halofenozide

How to Get Rid of Grubs - Grubs Pulled from Dirt

Photo: istockphoto.com

INVASION OF THE LAWN SNATCHERS
Nearly all lawns have a few grubs, but they rarely cause trouble unless their population soars. The best way to determine if you have a grub problem is to remove a square foot of sod, about 3 inches deep, from the center of a brown patch. Sift through it and look for milky white C-shaped larvae. The buggers can vary in length, from ½ inch to 1 inch, depending on the species of beetle they will eventually become. If you find five or more grubs in the sod you removed, it’s time to formulate a treatment plan. While some products work best on larvae of particular beetles—whether June bugs, Japanese beetles, or other beetles—the treatment options are broadly the same.

THE BATTLE OF THE BUGS
If you’re looking for a natural way to rid your lawn of grubs, consider treating it with beneficial nematodes. Nematodes (typically of the Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, or Hb, variety) are microscopic parasites that invade the grubs’ bodies, releasing bacteria that multiply and ultimately kill the host grub. In the meantime, the nematodes mature and propagate, and a new generation of nematodes emerges from the dead grub. It can take up to three years for nematodes to establish a colony large enough to eradicate a large population of grubs, but going this route means you won’t have to treat your lawn with chemicals. Be sure to order from a reputable nursery; nematodes are living organisms that must be transported with care (usually refrigerated) and applied soon after they arrive.

SPREAD SOME SPORES
Available in a powder from your local garden or home center, the Bacillus popilliae spore, sometimes called milky spore, creates a bacterial environment in the soil known as milky disease. It won’t harm your lawn but it’s deadly to grubs, specifically to the larvae of the Japanese beetle. Like nematodes, milky spore isn’t a quick fix. It takes a few years to develop enough of the beneficial spores to rid the yard of grubs, but once established, the “disease” will continue to ward off grubs.

DRY THE CRITTERS OUT
Beetle eggs need moisture to survive, so if you have a grub problem, you can try making your lawn as inhospitable to grubs as possible. If you experience drought conditions during the summer months, when adult beetles lay their eggs, take advantage of the dry conditions by making a conscious decision not to water your lawn for three or four weeks to further dry out the soil. The eggs will eventually die, which will reduce next year’s crop of larvae. Your lawn will dry out, too, but as long as your grass is in good condition, it should spring back to health when you resume watering.

ENGAGE IN CHEMICAL WARFARE
Chemical-based grub-control can be very effective, but keep in mind that it’s toxic and can kill beneficial insects at the same time it kills grubs. Such treatments fall into two categories: curatives and preventives. Curatives, which are designed to kill immature larvae, should be applied in late summer or early fall when young grubs are actively feeding on grass roots. Look for a product that contains trichlorfon (Dylox is a popular brand name), which is the best option if you’re in a hurry to get rid of the little munchers. It will not, however, affect grubs that have developed into pupae, which, depending on the species, could survive another year or two before developing into beetles.

If you’ve had a grub problem in the past, or if you’ve spotted telltale brown patches in your neighbor’s yard, applying a preventive grub-control product will reduce the risk of your lawn becoming infested. Preventive products stop the next generation of grubs, but they have little effect on any young grubs that are currently chomping away in your grass. Look for preventive products that contain either imidacloprid, such as the insecticide Merit, or halofenozide, such as Mach 2, to keep grubs from turning your lawn into their private dining spot.


The Secret to Sanding Almost Anything—Without All the Dust

One game-changing innovation from Hyde Tools and a few sanding techniques are all you need to give your walls and wood surfaces a smooth finish—without the worry of a dusty aftermath.

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Hyde Dust-Free Sponge Sander - Sanding Wood

Photo: hydetools.com

If you’ve ever finished drywall, you know that the sanding process releases lots of dust. Only moments after starting, your entire work space fills with a cloud so thick that you can barely see the wall on the other side of the room. Sanding wood cabinets or furniture before applying a fresh coat of paint or varnish may not create the same visibility issues, but the mess is similar. Moreover, any of these surfaces can release particulates that would be harmful if ingested—respiratory irritants in drywall joint compound, toxic chemicals found in wood finishes, and even contaminants like sap, mold, and fungus spores, depending on the condition of the wood. (The things we endure for a professionally smooth finish!) Whether you’re working on drywall or wood furniture, the good news is that with the following techniques and a secret weapon from Hyde Tools in your arsenal, you can reduce airborne sanding dust by up to 95 percent, making the job easier on you and your health.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Goggles
- Dust mask
- Plastic sheeting
- Drop cloth
- Wide painter’s tape
- HYDE Dust-Free Sponge Sander
- Sanding sponges in various grits
- Wet/dry vacuum
- Ladder
- Portable work light
- Drywall compound (optional)
- Putty knife (optional)
- Tack cloth

WHEN SANDING DRYWALL…

STEP 1
Although these next steps minimize dust while sanding, it’s smart to employ commonsense safeguards against those dust particles that do escape. By taking some simple precautions—donning a dust mask and goggles, draping plastic sheeting in open doorways, and spreading a drop cloth over carpeted or hardwood floors—you can virtually eliminate any risk to yourself, the flooring, and any nearby items.

Hyde Dust-Free Sponge Sander

Photo: hydetools.com

STEP 2
For the best results, enlist the HYDE Dust-Free Sponge Sander. The $15 hose attachment converts nearly any wet/dry vacuum into a sanding assistant that cleans as it goes. Use the tool’s adapter to securely connect it to the wet/dry suction outlet. (The adapter works with vacuum hoses that have 1¼-inch, 1½-inch, or 2½-inch openings.) Once the tool is attached, press a standard 3″ x 5″ sanding sponge into the rectangular casing at the other end of the hose.

Pro Tip: Most drywall sanding jobs can be successfully completed using medium- or fine-grit sanding sponges. Skip the large-grit sanding sponges, as they tend to leave grit streaks in the drywall compound.

STEP 3
Hold the yellow sanding end so that the sponge is flat against the wall, then turn on the wet/dry vacuum and begin working in a circular motion. As you sand, the vacuum sucks most of the dust into the tank through a narrow gap around the perimeter of the sanding sponge.

For the smoothest—and cleanest—results, use very light pressure and work at a medium speed. As you approach the centers of seams and joints, lighten up even more so that you’re using only enough pressure to remove ridges and bumps. If you find that dust is escaping around the edges of the sanding adapter, you’re sanding too quickly. Take your time. You’ll be glad you did!

Continue to sand the entire area, using a stepladder to reach the highest corners. Even though you’re entrusting your vacuum with the job of tidying up as you go, it’s also important to clean your vacuum’s filter frequently to prevent clogs caused by large amounts of drywall compound dust.

STEP 4
When you think you’ve finished, inspect your sanded surfaces. Since it’s difficult to spot rough areas of compound with overhead lighting alone, shine a bright handheld light, such as a portable work light, parallel to the joints to check for any irregularities. You may find that some areas need more sanding, or you may need to fill in indentations with spot applications of drywall compound and then sand those areas again.

Once you’ve determined that the surface is free of rough patches and gouges, you’re ready to prime the walls and then cover them with either paint or wallpaper. (With most of the mess already in your wet/dry vacuum, cleanup will be so minimal you won’t even consider it a step!)

 
WHEN SANDING WOOD AND CABINETRY…

STEP 1
Pull on a respirator mask and goggles to reduce the slight risk from any airborne wood dust that might escape the HYDE Dust-Free Sponge Sander. Your sanding experience should be virtually dust-free, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

STEP 2
Fasten the dust-free sander to your wet/dry vacuum at its suction outlet, and insert a sanding sponge into the opposite end. The sandpaper grit you choose will be essential to the success of your sanding job. It’s best to work in the following order:
• Large-grit sanding sponges smooth rough wood surfaces and remove surface coatings, such as old varnish.
• Medium-grit sanding sponges work well for smoothing stripped wood surfaces and unfinished wood cabinets and boards.
• Fine-grit sponges should be reserved for the final sanding step to achieve an extra-smooth surface.

STEP 3
Sand your wood surface in the same direction as the wood grain rather than against it, which can leave cross-sanding marks on the wood. As you work, the HYDE Dust-Free Sponge Sander directs the vast majority of wood dust around the edges of the sponge where your wet/dry vacuum can safely suck it away.

STEP 4
If the wood you’re sanding involves contoured trim and corner creases, remove the sanding sponge from its casing and sand those areas with just the sponge. The HYDE Dust-Free Sponge Sander works best on flat expanses of wood, such as cabinet doors and bookcase sides and shelves.

STEP 5
Finally, wipe a tack cloth over the sanded wood. This pass serves two purposes: First, any catching or snagging will alert you to a rough area that you need to sand a bit more. Also, the tack cloth can remove traces of dust not visible to the naked eye that might mar a smooth paint finish. But these swipes with the tack cloth will be just about all the cleanup you’ll need after your practically dust-free sanding job.

 

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Paint Laminate Countertops

Restore your work surface and give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look with this simple paint project.

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Painting Laminate Countertops - Outdated Kitchen

Photo: istockphoto.com

Let’s face it: Laminate isn’t the most high-end countertop material out there, and when it starts showing signs of wear it can really make your kitchen look shabby. But if new countertops aren’t in your budget right now, show your current ones some love with a paint job to extend their life for a few more years. There are several kits on the market—including those that replicate stone or granite—or you can simply use acrylic interior paint in the color(s) of your choice. The two keys to professional, lasting results are careful preparation and proper sealing. Here’s a plan for your counter attack!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
- Painter’s tape
- Rags
- Degreasing cleaner
- Gloves
- Protective goggles
- Dust mask or respirator
- 150-grit sandpaper
- Palm sander
- Primer
- Paint rollers
- Laminate paint kit or interior acrylic paint
- Countertop resin
- Blowtorch (optional, but recommended)

Painting Laminate Countertops - Dark Colored Countertops

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Whether you’re redoing the cabinets in the bathroom or the kitchen, start the job by prepping your space correctly. Protect all cabinets and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheeting held with painter’s tape. Then open all windows and operate fans to ensure you’ve got adequate ventilation. Some of these materials are extremely stinky!

STEP 2
Scrub the surfaces you’ll be painting thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner to ensure all dirt and grease is removed. Let dry.

STEP 3
Put on protective gear (goggles, gloves, and a dust mask or respirator) and go over the entire surface lightly with 150-grit sandpaper to help paint adhere. Thoroughly wipe your counters clean of dust and debris with a slightly damp rag. Let dry.

STEP 4
Prime patiently. Apply a thin, even coat of primer with a paint roller, following manufacturer’s directions. Allow adequate drying time and then apply a second coat. Let dry.

STEP 5
Now, break out the paint. If using a paint kit that emulates stone or granite, follow the directions for blending the paints and apply, allowing adequate drying time between layers. If simply using acrylic paint, roll on a first coat, let dry and then give it a second coat.

STEP 6
Seal to finish. Countertop resin will ensure lasting results. Stir and mix the product according to manufacturer’s directions. Carefully pour the resin over the painted surface and use a fresh foam roller to distribute it evenly. Watch for drips along the edges and wipe off any that occur immediately with a damp rag. Also keep an eye out for any bubbles that may appear as the resin levels out: Pop them as soon as they appear by aiming a blowtorch at them, holding it a few inches away. If you have no torch, try banishing bubbles by blowing at them through a drinking straw. Allow the resin to thoroughly cure according to manufacturer’s specs.

To maintain your “new” countertops, skip abrasive cleaners and scrubber sponges and clean daily instead with a rag or soft sponge and mild dish detergent. Once a week (or at least monthly), wipe down with a small amount of mineral oil and a clean, soft cloth. Your surfaces will look super for several years to come—you can count on it!


Cool Tools: Simplify Your Painting Process with an Airless Spray System

Take a down-to-earth approach to staging, completing, and cleaning up after your next paint job with the Airless Spray System from HYDE!

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HYDE Airless Spray System with RVT Technology - Painting Brick

Photo: hydetools.com

Have you ever turned a blind eye to the chipping paint on a wall or ceiling to avoid the ordeal of redoing those hard-to-reach areas? You’re not alone. DIYers and professional painters who tackle these jobs end up breaking a sweat (and sometimes even a limb) climbing ladders and scaffolding to get at these high-level interior and exterior surfaces. Airless sprayers can reduce the manual effort of painting by brush, but only one special design can transition from ground level to upper-story paint jobs without interruption: the HYDE Airless Spray System with Rapid Valve Transfer (RVT) Technology. This superhero paint sprayer saves hours of staging and painting by eliminating the need to haul in, position, and reposition a ladder as you cover sprawling surface areas top-to-bottom with paint. And when the job’s done, just think of the time you’ll save during cleanup, when you have to deal with just one hardworking tool!

Rapid Valve Transfer
Fully assembled, the HYDE system features a powerful spray gun, a spray tip with a shield and filter, and a five- or eight-foot extensible spray pole. True to its name, though, the heart and soul of the spray system lies in its unique, transferable spray valve. Not only can the valve withstand up to 3600 PSI to help you speed through jobs involving a variety of paints and coatings, but RVT enables the valve itself to be transferred live from the spray gun to the spray pole and back again. So, you not only get two painting essentials for the price of one, but you can also transition seamlessly from one to the other as needed.

HYDE Airless Spray System with RVT Technology - Painting Ceiling

Photo: hydetools.com

Adjustable Height
For a silky-smooth paint finish on surfaces at chest level or below, such as door frames, wall patches, and woodwork, operate the spray gun by simply attaching its hose, tightening the fittings with a wrench, powering up the sprayer, and targeting the surface in need of a refresh. From here, it’s a cinch to switch gears and move on to new heights to tackle upper walls, ceilings, eaves, or exterior shutters. You don’t have to depressurize the gun or power down the spray system while you set up a ladder or scaffolding. Instead—keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground—lock off the gun, release the valve, and transfer it into the telescoping pole. This smooth maneuver instantly converts the gun into a spray pole that extends up to 12 feet in length, depending on which of the poles you purchase. Need to lower the height of the pole? Turn the wing nut and adjust the pole to the desired length as you travel down the surface, then continue spraying. When you’ve worked your way down to an area within arm’s reach, transfer the valve back to the gun to continuing painting or apply a few touch-ups.

Lightweight, Light Work
The smart design of the HYDE Airless Spray System with RVT Technology eliminates the need for a heavy spray gun at the top of the pole, leaving you with a lightweight, easy-to-maneuver spray pole that minimizes strain and fatigue and travels quickly across surfaces. In fact, the spray system is so fast that in the time it would take for one painter to build and stage scaffolding for a paint job, a painter using the HYDE Airless Spray System would have finished the job and moved on to the cleanup! And as with every other aspect of this innovative airless spray system, cleanup is supremely simple: Unlike the case with traditional spray tip extensions, no paint circulates through the HYDE spray pole, so cleanup becomes an easy, one-person job.

Purchase HYDE Airless Spray System with RVT, $440.81.

Watch the video below to see the HYDE Airless Spray System in action!

 

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Essential Guide to Spring Home Improvement

Whatever household features you need to refresh, repair, or replace this season, one company can help you get the job done efficiently and affordably!

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Photo: www.istockphoto.com

Spring brings blooming flowers and budding trees, but it also brings a long list of home improvement chores that accumulated over the winter. Now is the time to tackle cleaning projects, exterior maintenance, and routine HVAC checkups in preparation for the sweltering months ahead. But with so much to do, it can be hard to decide which tasks are essential and which can wait. Most homeowners will admit that they’re short on the time (and manpower) required to complete all that must be done. So what do you do with a to-do list that never ends? Take a cue from Sears Home Services. With the help of their tips and expert advice, you might just gain the tools you need to chart a road map for your spring home improvement journey. So, get reading, then get to work on giving your home the TLC it deserves.

CLEANING

Don’t consider your spring cleaning done and dusted until you have attended to hardworking surfaces and fixtures both indoors and out. Deep cleaning the oft-neglected—but vital—elements of your home like window sashes, exterior siding, and bathroom fixtures not only preserves, but also prolongs the life of these features.

- Wash windows: Giving windows a thorough cleaning requires more than polishing the panes. Inspect your windowsills, jambs, and sashes once a year for rot and mold, and replace the windows or casings as necessary. If your windows have seen better days, consider replacement windows, which can really boost curb appeal. As well, new window insulation technology affords more comfortable indoor temperatures, keeping warm air out in the summer and inside during the winter. And remember that even newer windows have to be maintained, and this task takes conscientious effort. To save time and elbow grease, consider purchasing no- or low-maintenance windows. Moisture-resistant vinyl windows, such as Sears’ Weatherbeater windows, are a good bet. Because the frame is made of vinyl instead of wood, there’s no need for paint and the frame is not prone to rot. Plus, easy-to-access tilt-in sashes make cleaning the exterior panes a breeze.

- Hose down exterior siding: A fresh-faced house begins with clean siding. No matter what kind of siding you have—wood, brick, or vinyl—you can start by giving your home exterior a quick hose-down. To banish destructive mold, mildew, and discoloration, however, you may need to employ an effective cleanser and a bit of elbow grease. For wood siding, use mild soap and water, then scrub with a gentle brush to remove spots and stains. If your home has brick siding, try a mixture of bleach and water to eliminate mold or mildew. And if you’re looking for the lowest-maintenance siding material, consider vinyl. As Jim Eldredge of Sears Home Services points out, “more often than not, cleaning vinyl means nothing more than rinsing with a garden hose.” No matter what kind of siding you have, make sure you put a good cleaning toward the top of your springtime to-do list. Sparkling siding boosts curb appeal and keeps your admiring neighbors happy.

- Give faucets and sinks a facelift: Over recent years, numerous sink and faucet design trends have emerged, including deep basin sinks and faucets with detachable sprayers. But one trend has never been in vogue—mold and mildew-lined faucets and sinks. If your kitchen or bathroom sinks are less than fresh, clean them with a non-damaging solution like vinegar, lemons, or mild detergent. While a good cleaning can solve many sink problems, some issues—such as chipped enamel or stubborn rust stains—might call for a full replacement. If you’re not sure where to start with your mini remodel, consider calling Sears Home Services for a free consultation.

HOME EXTERIOR CARE

Photo: istockphoto.com

If Old Man Winter pummeled your home with snowstorms, deep freezes, and fallen trees last season, it may now have the damaged roof, gutters, doors, and walkways to prove it. Inspect exterior features for damage or deformity, replacing or refreshing them so they can continue doing the work they were designed to do, protecting your home from wind, rain, and other dangers.

- Check the roof and gutters: If, during your spring roof inspection, you observe broken, buckling, or missing shingles, you should either repair or replace the damaged sections to keep water and pests from entering your home. Likewise, replace cracked or sagging gutters so that water channels away from the foundation, where it can lead to flooded basements or worse. To get a start on your roof or gutter repair, why not contact the project consultants at Sears Home Services? Their trusted team of experts can walk you through every contractor bid and proposal to help you secure quality materials and installation, all within your budget.

- Update the front door, or more: A weatherworn entry door that bears no other signs of distress, such as cracks, dents, or a sagging frame, may just need a fresh coat of paint. In fact, paint can be a great solution for a tired exterior. “Painting the exterior gives your home an all-new look, and it’s a great option for those on a tighter budget,” says Eldredge. If your whole house could benefit from an updated paint job, begin by choosing a paint color and prepping the exterior surfaces. Hose off dirt, scrape flaking paint, and caulk cracks and gaps before you get started to make your new paint job last longer. If you decide to have the work completed by a pro, consider calling the paint experts at Sears Home Services. Their rigorous 10-step approach to painting prep is designed to produce a clean canvas for a fresh color that you can love for years.

- Replace chipped walkways or patios: Winter weather is hard on concrete walkways and patios. Fluctuations in temperature—repeated freezing and thawing—can cause these hard surfaces to crack and chip. Spring is the perfect time to repair this damage. First, purchase a concrete repair mix from your local home center. Once you’ve gathered the necessary tools and materials, use a chisel and hammer to chip away loose pieces of concrete, then rinse the area before applying the repair compound with a putty knife. Pick a rain-free weekend for the fix to allow the patch enough time to set.

HVAC

Soaring temperatures will be here before you know it, and by then it will be too late to perform preventive maintenance on your HVAC system. Now is the time to inspect your HVAC units and prepare them to handle the blistering summer. So, eyeball your air conditioner, attic fan, and ductwork for signs of trouble, replacing them if needed to ensure that fresh, cool air circulates throughout your home no matter how hot it gets outside.

- Inspect the air conditioner: Power on your AC unit to make sure it’s still providing clean, cool air to your home. If yours isn’t quite cutting it anymore—if you have to endure poor indoor air quality, excessive noise, or uneven cooling—it’s time to consider repairing or replacing it. Before you opt for a repair, take the unit’s age into account; repairing an older model may not be worth it. According to David Kenyon of Sears Home Services, an AC unit older than a decade “may already be on borrowed time.” If you’re not sure whether you’d be better off repairing or replacing, consider scheduling a free in-home consultation with the experts at Sears Home Services. Their project coordinators may be able to help you evaluate the situation and select a course of action that will result in peace of mind and a cool, comfortable home.

- Test the attic fan: An attic fan keeps your home cool and your energy bills low. The downside of a whole-house fan, however, is that the fan motor frequently burns out. Test your attic fan motor by switching it on. Replace it if it won’t run—most new motors cost between $50 and $100 and take little effort to replace. If you have an older model, though, consider the benefits of replacing the whole fan rather than just the motor. Newer fans boast greater energy efficiency, resulting in lower utility bills, so “it may actually be more cost-effective to upgrade,” says Kenyon, than to repair an old unit.

- Check ductwork for efficiency: Ducts that channel air from the HVAC system to your home’s interior spaces are “notorious for collecting and distributing irritants and allergens,” says Kenyon. These airborne annoyances can then make their way into the home, causing poor indoor air quality. While you can easily clean your system’s grilles and return registers to remove accumulated dust and grime, experts like those at Sears Home Services are better equipped to perform a comprehensive duct cleanup. Using truck-mounted suction equipment and other specialized tools, they can restore good air quality—and let you get back to more enjoyable spring activities.

Photo: istockphoto.com

This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System

Enter to win a 3-night stay and exclusive historic house tours!

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With our hectic schedules and never-ending to-do lists, who out there couldn’t use a vacation? Strolling on the beach, taking in some rays, and touring the town make for an enchanting getaway. And if you’re the lucky winner of Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System, you could be experiencing the relaxing benefits of a trip for two to gorgeous Key West, a stay at the Hyatt Key West, $500 Visa gift card, and exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of two fan-favorite historic homes.

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Today and every day in June (starting 12:00 p.m. EST May 31st, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST June 30th, 2016), enter to win a weekend trip for two to Key West, Florida from BobVila.com and the Unico System, the leaders in ductless heating and cooling. (See Official Rules below.)

If you’re the winner of this month’s give-away, we’ll treat you to a fun-filled weekend for two to Key West, where you’ll be provided airfare, lodging, and a $500 gift card for meals and other incidentals. And that’s not all: You’ll also receive behind-the-scenes tours of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House—two historic sites featuring the Unico System, a unique method of heating and cooling that doesn’t disrupt the architectural integrity of any space its installed in. Whether you’re a beach bum or a history buff, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to win this one-of-a-kind package.

So what are you waiting for? Enter today and every day in June for the trip of a lifetime.

To learn more about the Unico System and its advantages, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System” 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 runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on Thursday, June 30th, 2016 . 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. See Official Rules.