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- Bathroom >
- How To: Unclog a Bathtub
How To: Unclog a Bathtub
Don’t let dirty water submerge your ankles for one more shower! Take these simple steps to a smooth drain
Nothing interferes with a refreshing shower like a slow-draining bathtub. And that inch or two of water that sneaks up on you is also likely to leave a ring of soap scum and dirt that’s tough to clean. The cause of this scuzzy situation is commonly a clump of hair gathered in the drain pipe a few inches below the stopper. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy enough remove the stopper and banish that nasty bundle. So act on the guidance that follows to unclog the bathtub and enjoy a delightful shower experience again.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 12-gauge wire or metal coat hanger
- Wire cutters
- Needle-nose pliers
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Rubber gloves
- Trash bag
- Utility knife
- Liquid dish soap
Snip a straight, 6-inch section of 12-gauge wire or coat hanger with your wire cutters. Grab one end of the wire with your needle-nose pliers, about ½” in, and bend it up to make a small hook. You want about a ½”-wide U-shaped hook so hair won’t fall off as you extract it. Set the hook aside.
If you stop your bathtub with a plug, move directly to Step 3. If your tub has a stopper, there are different methods to remove it, depending on type.
- Removing a drop stopper that you twist half a turn to pop down and close, a screwdriver is required. Usually but not always, a Phillips head will do the job. To take out the stopper, raise it as high as you can. Inside, just under the stopper, you’ll find a small screw on the shaft. Loosen this screw a bit and the top slides off. Set it aside.
- A push/lock stopper that you push down to lock shut, then push up to release, is easily removed by unscrewing the stopper. The shaft is removable by loosening the screw on the shaft so that the shaft slides up and out. Note: You may need to futz a bit with this screw to get a proper seal when you reinstall the shaft, so be prepared to test the seal and make adjustments.
Look inside the drain to see the hair clump. Don your rubber gloves and get a trash bag ready. Insert the hook you made to remove and discard the hair. Carefully cut any remaining hair wrapped around the crosshairs or bars with your utility knife and remove these last bits with your gloved fingers.
Remove all your tools and stopper parts from the bathtub and then run the water to see how free-flowing the drain is. Is it draining quickly? Move ahead to Step 6.
Still draining slow? Pour some liquid dish soap, up to ¼ cup, into the drain and follow that with a bucket of hot water, poured slowly to lubricate pipes and push through any residue. If you’ve got plastic pipes, use hot water from the tap only; anything hotter could loosen the pipes. For metal pipes, boiling water can be used. If your drain is still running slow, you might have to use a snake or call a plumber.
Replace the stopper and clean the bathtub. Clean and dry your hook, too, saving it for future clog-busting duties. To keep clogs at bay, use a drain cover and avoid emptying mop buckets and other liquids likely to contain dust, dirt, lint, and pet hair into your tub.
- Painting >
- How To: Spray Paint Metal
Metal furniture and ornaments are popular because they’re durable, but the longer a piece lasts, the older its look can become. Fortunately, everything from chairs and lamps to shelving and hardware can be spruced up with a fresh coat of spray paint. Generally speaking, the best spray paint for metal is hard-wearing enamel. Its oil base makes it somewhat slow to dry, but it stands up to cleaning and use well; many enamel paints are rustproof, too. Read the label or ask your retailer if suitable for your project. Then stock up: The average 12-ounce can should yield 8 to 10 square feet coverage, but if your retailer has a good return policy, consider buying more than you think you need. It’s easy to underestimate, and you don’t want to run out in the middle of a project.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Medium- and fine-grit sandpaper or steel-bristle brush
- Drop cloths
- Masking tape
- Rubber gloves
- Paint thinner
- Primer (optional)
- Spray paint
Proper surface prep is essential for spray paint adhesion, so sand or brush off all loose paint and rust spots. Because shiny objects seldom allow paint to bond well, use the metal brush and sandpaper to lightly scour and dull the surface till it looks lightly scratched, almost like brushed nickel. A very lightly scoured surface will help paint bond; don’t be overly zealous or you’ll get gouges or scratches.
Wipe thoroughly with clean, dry cloth to remove any dust, dirt, and debris. You may need a water-dampened rag to remove stubborn crud, but ensure metal is 100 percent dry before painting.
Prepare your work location, which ideally will be outdoors and protected from wind. Not only can wind blow leaves and pollen onto your project, it can literally push your paint around, causing uneven results. If working indoors, ventilate the area well, opening doors and windows. Move all furniture from the area or cover with drop cloths, and also protect floors with drop cloths or newspaper for as much as 10 feet around your work zone for large projects. Using masking tape, tape off areas of your piece that you want to keep unpainted.
Get your mask, gloves, and goggles on and test your spray paint to ensure it provides a thin, fine mist. Shake the can vigorously for 45 to 60 seconds and spray onto a cardboard box or the bottom of your project. If you see spitting or uneven spray on a new can, return it for a replacement. Spitting can mean a malfunctioning nozzle, but it also might be a bit clogged; if dealing with a can of paint you’ve had for a while, try cleaning the nozzle with warm water. If that doesn’t resolve matters, dab lacquer or paint thinner onto the nozzle with a rag, then wipe it off and test it again.
If your paint doesn’t include primer, follow the painting techniques in Step 6 with a paint primer and allow it to dry thoroughly before repeating Step 6 for your first color coat.
These techniques will ensure smooth, even results. Repeat with as many as three applications, working in light, even coats.
- Always begin and end spraying off your project, by simply spritzing the air beside it, to ensure that once paint hits the target, you’re shooting a steady, even, misting spray.
- Holding the can a foot from the painting surface, aim the light, fine mist on the object and sweep side to side or up and down to coat the width or length of your project. Each time you complete a single pass or row, stop spraying and give your can a quick shake for 5 to 10 seconds, then start spraying off the item before you do another pass. For every new spray, overlap with the last row of paint. Briefly shake the can regularly throughout the process.
- If painting larger items, like bookshelves or an iron fence, step along sideways toward the direction of your spray. If you only move your arm, you may not maintain the same density of spray.
- Pausing even briefly, or hovering, while spraying can create drips or spots. If this happens, remove all excess wet paint with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth. If you don’t notice these drips until after the drying process, sand them down with a fine-grit paper and dry-wipe the dust off.
If you get paint on anything accidentally, use the label-recommended paint thinner or cleaning agent and a rag to clean up as soon as possible, before paint dries or cures. Then allow your project to dry thoroughly. Drying time varies by paint type, coat thickness, and even weather and humidity—it could take anywhere from three hours to overnight. Just be sure to wait 24 hours before using spray-painted items.
All of the Expert Painting Advice from BobVila.com
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Descale a Kettle
How To: Descale a Kettle
Say goodbye to those stubborn limescale deposits in your teakettle with a low-cost DIY solution.
As temperatures chill, who can resist a piping-hot cup of tea? But beware! If you fall into the tea habit, over time you’ll discover that the interior of your kettle will gradually become coated in limescale. These white calcium deposits form on the inside of kettles, both electric and stovetop varieties, when hot water evaporates and leaves solid minerals behind. The results are both unsightly and unsavory. Plus, if neglected too long, limescale can shorten the life of your kettle. While you can certainly use commercial products to descale your kettle, everyday acids are equally effective—and often more affordable.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Soft sponge
- Dish soap
- White vinegar
- Lemon or lime (optional)
Safety comes first. Before descaling, make sure to first unplug an electric kettle or turn off the heating element under a stovetop model. When the kettle is cool to the touch, discard any remaining liquid, remove the lid, and rinse the interior under cold water.
In order to remove exterior grime or grease, gently wipe the sides and base of the kettle using a soft sponge saturated with water and dish soap. Because copper and stainless steel kettles tend to scratch easily, use only nonabrasive sponges or cloths to remove caked-on residue. Avoid wire brushes or scouring pads that can damage or discolor the kettle. Dry the kettle with a soft cloth.
When you’re dealing with an electric kettle, exercise caution to avoid exposing the electrical components or the socket to water. Never immerse an electric kettle in water. If your electric kettle is equipped with a built-in water filter, don’t forget to clean grime from the filter itself. Remove the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then rinse it under hot water. Gently wipe the filter with a soft cloth before drying and pressing it back into place.
Fill the kettle halfway with a solution of equal parts cold water and white vinegar, a natural descaling agent. As an alternative, citric acid can also break down limescale; just fill the kettle with the juice of one fresh lemon or lime topped with enough cold water to reach the halfway point of the kettle.
Turn on the stove under the kettle, or plug in your electric kettle, and bring the solution to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, be it a burner or the electric power. (If your electric kettle has an automatic switch-off feature, let it turn off on its own.) Allow the vinegar-water (or citrus) solution to sit in the kettle for 30 minutes to an hour.
TIP: While either diluted vinegar or lemon is gentle enough for most kettles, you should reference the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid exposing your kettle to liquids that could cause damage. If you’re unsure how your kettle will react to an acid, test a drop of the solution on an inconspicuous area before proceeding with the full soak.
With the decalcifying stage complete, you can now pour out the vinegar-water (or citrus) solution. When the kettle’s empty, remove the lid and rinse the interior under cold water. Any lingering limescale can be wiped away with a clean, damp cloth. Because the acetic acid in vinegar is powerful enough to dissolve limescale, vigorous scrubbing is neither needed nor recommended.
Though you may have successfully descaled a kettle, that mean it is ready to boil water for your next beverage. Prevent any vinegary aftertaste from seeping into future cups of tea, fill the kettle halfway with cold water. Turn on the stove or plug in the electric kettle, and boil the water in the kettle to deodorize it. When the odor is gone, discard the water and air-dry the kettle before its next use.
Repeat this routine to descale the kettle once every month or so, depending on how often you use your kettle, and you’ll keep contaminants at bay while your beverages remain fresh and flavorful.
- Major Systems >
- Step Inside a 1930s Beach House Revamped for the 21st Century
Step Inside a 1930s Beach House Revamped for the 21st Century
A beautiful weekend home uses sustainable building practices to earn Energy Star and LEED Platinum certifications; features an energy-efficient, thoroughly modern heating and cooling system.
When its current owner first encountered this home on the shores of Truesdale Lake in Upstate New York, it was in a wretched state of disrepair. Built in 1932, the bungalow had deteriorated slowly but surely, inside and out, until nothing short of a whole-home gut renovation would be enough to make it appealing as a lakeside respite. In purchasing the property, however, the new owner set out to build it back even better than before, combining contemporary design with sustainable materials and energy-saving technology.
To achieve her vision, the homeowner called on Absolute Green Homes, a firm steered by Sylvain Côté, who routinely marries stand-out beauty with eco-friendly pragmatism. In each of his projects, Côté adheres to the philosophy that, “If it is not beautiful, it is not sustainable.” Just consider: If a design fails aesthetically, it’s only a matter of time before someone replaces it, creating waste in the process. There’s no danger of such a fate for the revamped bungalow. This embodiment of sustainable beauty not only offers jaw-dropping good looks, but also—literally—prevents waste, producing nearly as much energy as it consumes—no small feat!
Consider that on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index—the industry-standard measurement for residential energy efficiency—new construction typically earns a score of 100. The Beach House, impressively, boasts a score of 30. (On the HERS scale, lower scores are better, with 0 signifying energy self-sufficiency). In recognition of its achievement in efficiency, the project garnered a number of coveted designations, including both Energy Star and LEED Platinum certification. In addition, Green Builder chose The Beach House as its “Green Home of the Year” in 2015.
It’s easy to see why. In designing this home that fuses rustic authenticity with contemporary style, Côté relied on a wide and diverse array of salvaged, locally sourced building materials to shrink the total carbon footprint of the building. Much of the wood used in the renovation came from a dilapidated barn nearby, while the fir floorboards formerly served as framing joists in a big-city factory. The emphasis on the reuse of resources percolates down into the countless smaller details that give the home character—for example, the antique ship’s lantern used as a bathroom pendant light.
The Beach House also conserves resources on an ongoing basis, thanks to a suite of energy-conserving features that figure prominently in its design. The solar shingles on the roof are a case in point. Though manufactured to resemble traditional slate, each roofing shingle incorporates photovoltaic cells—the same kind you’d find in regular solar panels.
Equally important to the efficiency of The Beach House is its unique climate-control system. As cooling and heating account for more than half of total household energy consumption on average, the right equipment can make a big difference on the bottom line. In choosing a system for The Beach House, however, Côté couldn’t focus on efficiency alone. He also needed to contend with the fact that the house had never had ducts and would need to be modified to accommodate them. That, in turn, would limit the possibilities for the architecture and interior design of the home—not a welcome prospect.
Rather than recalibrate his creativity to meet the demands of a climate-control system, Côté instead sought a solution that would adapt to his preferred design. He opted for the same technology he had installed in his own house—the Unico System. In a class of its own, Unico trades full-size, rigid metal ductwork for small-diameter, flexible tubes that snake behind walls and between joists for an unobtrusive installation that requires no aesthetic compromise. Moreover, the air handler is a third the size of a traditional system but provides the same output; this saves valuable space.
On the energy efficiency side, Côté knew the Unico System would help achieve the performance he needed for the certifications. Remember that standard air ducts are infamously leaky, losing enough energy to hinder overall efficiency by 25 percent or more. By contrast, there’s next to no thermal loss with the Unico System, as its ducts are insulated to minimize leakage, maximize efficiency, and ensure that the homeowner pays no more than strictly necessary to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. Further savings come in the summer when, using the system to cool the house, the owner can set the thermostat a few degrees higher than normal, thanks to the fact that, in comparison with its peers, Unico removes 30 percent more humidity.
As Michael Carlo of Innovative Air Solutions, the specialists who installed the HVAC system, notes, “This is a small house with limited wasted space; no other system would work here.” At the very least, Carlo continues, if a less versatile climate-control system had been chosen, The Beach House “wouldn’t have gotten done the way [it had been] envisioned.” Ultimately, the Unico System was “the obvious choice,” because the groundbreaking technology was uniquely well suited to support the two main goals of the ambitious project—excellence in design and boundary-pushing efficiency.
People often assume that in the course of renovating an existing home or constructing a brand-new one, it’s necessary to prioritize either aesthetics or performance; they believe that the two are not complementary, but rather mutually exclusive. That may have been true in the past, but as technology advances with each passing year, that conventional wisdom becomes more and more outdated. Today, homeowners enjoy a rich variety of options, from solar shingles to all-but-invisible cooling and heating, for making their homes as energy-smart as they are visually appealing.
This article has been brought to you by Unico. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Doors & Windows >
- Bob Vila Radio: The Key to Choosing a New Front Door
Bob Vila Radio: The Key to Choosing a New Front Door
Sure, good looks are important. But when it's time to pick out a new door, smart shoppers look at what's on the inside first. Read on to compare three popular options—and find out which door will help you save on your next energy bill.
Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING A NEW FRONT DOOR or read below:
Many traditional homes feature wooden doors, and with good reason—it’s a style with classic curb appeal. But because the material is porous, cracks and gouges in the finish can let moisture in and cause warping. The other downside is maintenance: to keep that like-new look, you’ll be sanding, staining or repainting yours every few years for as long as you own the house.
In comparison, steel doors are cheaper, stronger, and do a better job of insulating than wood. Today’s options are even available with glass inserts and faux-wood finishes. If heavy metals aren’t your thing, there is another option—fiberglass, a dent-resistant material that won’t rot or rust. Of the three, fiberglass doors provide the best insulation, which will help trim your energy bills.
Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!
- Basement & Garage >
- The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing a New Garage Door
The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing a New Garage Door
Before you start shopping for a new garage door, learn what you should be looking for and get a sense of the vast possibilities this popular home improvement offers.
Americans love cars. For evidence, look no further than the design of the average postwar home. The garage often claims front-and-center position on the facade, making it as convenient as possible for drivers to come and go. Though the garage itself is usually a markedly utilitarian space, the garage door, because of its prominent placement, plays a big role in defining the outward appearance of your home. If, after years of hard use, your garage door is looking the worse for wear—or if it was never particularly attractive in the first place—replacing the old door gives you a huge opportunity to transform your home’s exterior and boost curb appeal, even as you enjoy a suite of performance improvements. There’s only one catch: With so many garage doors on the market today, it can be difficult to choose just one, particularly if you’ve never before shopped for a new door. Don’t know where to begin? These guidelines can help you narrow your search to a door design that fits your needs and suits your preferences perfectly.
DO select the right style.
If a worn-out garage door can leave a first-time visitor with a bad impression of your home, the opposite must hold true as well. Upgrading your garage door will enhance the visual appeal not only of the garage, but of the entire exterior. Here’s the key: Select a door style that complements your house. For instance, if you live in a Craftsman bungalow—distinguished by deeply overhanging eaves, extensive woodwork, and divided-light windows, look for a garage door that features the same hallmark characteristics. Meanwhile, if you live in a clean-lined modern home, concentrate on simple garage door designs with limited detailing, which will reinforce the streamlined appeal of the architecture. Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb and calling attention to itself, a successful selection looks right at home on the exterior. Garage door manufacturers offer no shortage of options, or if you have a specific vision, you can even design a custom door to your exact specifications.
DON’T forget insulation.
Many homeowners use the garage as their primary entrance. If you’re one of them, consider an insulated garage door. For one thing, insulation ensures greater comfort in the garage. In fact, on a cold day, a well-insulated door can keep the garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer, according to a study by conducted by residential garage door manufacturer Clopay. It’s not all about comfort, though. There are savings at stake, too, because as the largest opening in the home, the garage door can affect your home’s overall energy efficiency. In a home with conditioned living spaces next to and above the garage, a poorly sealed, uninsulated garage door can make the home’s climate-control system work harder (and consume more energy) to maintain the target temperature. By minimizing drafts and thermal energy transfer, an insulated garage door can help lower monthly utility bills. That said, much depends on the quality of the insulation. To understand the insulating capacity of a garage door, consult its listed R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the door’s performance.
DO choose a practical door type.
Different types of garage doors operate in different ways. Traditional swinging doors open outward from a central split, while others slide right to left like the entrance to an old barn. Far and away, one type surpasses the others in terms of popularity— overhead sectional doors. There are a couple of reasons why homeowners favor the convenience of an overhead sectional design. For one, in contrast to swing-style doors, which require ample clearance, sectional doors roll up and down on mounted tracks. And, overhead sectional doors are easy to pair with an automatic garage door opener. That’s not to say you can’t automate other types of garage doors, but doing so typically entails greater cost. You can get the best of worlds. Many garage door companies offer models that look like old-fashioned carriage house doors but operate with modern overhead convenience.
DON’T ignore care requirements.
As a hardworking component of today’s home, the garage door must be maintained properly in order to look and perform its best. Certain construction materials require more care than others. For instance, while there’s no denying the beauty of natural wood, some homeowners avoid it because it requires periodic refinishing. Other materials offer the look of wood with considerably less upkeep. Composite—a combination of wood fibers and synthetic resins—emulates the look of wood but provides superior durability, and won’t rot, warp or crack. Steel is a great option no matter where you live. But if you’re near the coast, you’ll need to wax your door like you would a car to prevent surface rust. The best advice: Understand the upkeep requirements of any door on your radar, and don’t commit to purchase one that you’re unable or unwilling to take care of.
DON’T underestimate severe storms.
Due to their large size, garage doors are especially vulnerable to high winds. In fact, if a tornado or hurricane manages to break through the garage door, the resulting surge in air pressure can produce destructive, if not devastating, consequences. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a windproof garage door. But in many areas prone to severe storms, the municipal government requires code-compliant doors that can withstand a minimum level of wind resistance. To determine whether any such regulations apply in your neck of the woods, consult with county officials or a local garage door dealer. Wind-rated garage doors cost more than non-reinforced models, but there’s no discernible difference in exterior appearance. The heavy-duty parts that lend extra strength—reinforced struts, for example, or upgraded springing—are all inside the garage, behind the door itself. In other words, there’s no need to sacrifice curb appeal for storm preparedness, or vice versa.
DO experiment with visualization tools.
At the start of your search, it’s a good idea to visit a dealer showroom to get a sense of how different door styles and construction materials actually look and feel. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few options, it can be helpful to experiment with an online visualization tool, like the Door Imagination System from Clopay. Here’s how it works: After uploading a photo of your home to the site, you can see how different garage door designs (and different combinations of windows, finishes, and hardware) would look on your home. Tools like this often make it easier to arrive at a final decision and add a bit of fun to the process.
From style to construction material, from the R-value of the insulation to the presence or absence of windows—a number of variables can affect the final cost of a garage door. Prices run the gamut from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand (not including installation). It’s important to point out, that garage door replacement is one project that can increase the value of your home. In fact, among the most commonly completed home improvements, upgrading the garage door ranks near the very top of the list in terms of cost effectiveness and return on investment. In its annual Cost vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine estimates that at resale, people recoup nearly the total sum invested in the project—91.5 percent, to be specific. It’s no wonder that for budget-savvy homeowners in pursuit of improved curb appeal, few projects are more exciting, more popular, or more rewarding. What are you waiting for?
This article has been brought to you by Clopay. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Roofing & Siding >
- 3 Reasons to Love Metal Roofing
3 Reasons to Love Metal Roofing
Learn about three benefits that build a strong case for an equally strong roofing material.
A homeowner doesn’t usually give much thought to his house’s roof until the worst happens and it’s time for repairs. So, under normal circumstances, “upgrade the roof” doesn’t sit toward the top of most homeowners’ to-do lists, which are usually crowded with curb appeal projects or energy-saving fixes—but maybe it should. Modern metal roofing boasts numerous benefits, from its long, low-maintenance lifespan to the year-round energy savings it generates, that have made its installation more attractive. Read on for just a few of the reasons why customers of American Building Components—one of the leading manufacturers of residential and agricultural steel products—select, install, and love their metal roofs.
A LIFETIME OF STYLE AND DURABILITY
Gone are the days of “tin roofs” on barns, sheds, and shacks. Modern metal roofs are better engineered than ever before, promising even stronger shelter and a wider selection of colors, styles, and profiles. Roofing manufacturers like American Building Components offer panels in “Radiant Red,” “Hawaiian Blue,” “Desert Sand,” and more than a dozen other color options—a rainbow array to complement any style of building.
Now that there’s no need to compromise curb appeal for durability, a metal roof can stay stylish for as many decades as it remains functional—and this is a significant span of time, as a properly installed, warranty-backed metal roof has the potential to outlast your lifetime. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Metal Construction Association determined that metal roofs last at least 60 years, a strong selling point for those homeowners who want their next roof to be the last one they’ll ever need, as well as those concerned about their home’s resale value later on.
As with many construction materials, proper installation is key for keeping metal roofing so dependable. Certainly, solid manufacturing standards are critical in protecting your home for decades, but so is the choice of underlayment. This vital component, which serves as a moisture barrier and backup protection from weather, needs to last as many as 60 years, so invest in a product like American Building Components’ “Platinum” underlayment system, which comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
IMPRESSIVE SAVINGS YEAR AFTER YEAR
While a premium metal roof may incur a higher initial cost than other roofing materials on the market, the minimal maintenance it requires over its long lifespan saves homeowners a bundle. And then there’s the money this investment puts back into your pocket: From energy savings to tax credits, even potential insurance savings, this home upgrade starts to pay off immediately.
Metal roofing can have a significant impact on a home’s energy consumption, especially in the summer. Specially formulated paint pigments applied to the metal create “cool roofs,” or surfaces that reflect and emit the sun’s energy rather than soaking in the heat and trapping it in the attic. With cool roof technology available from suppliers like American Building Components, a homeowner could see energy savings of up to 40 percent, depending on the climate in his region. And if that isn’t enough incentive, add to those yearly savings a one-time tax credit of up to $500 on Energy Star roofing materials purchased before the end of 2016.
Then there’s the insurance-savings potential that comes from the roofing’s impressive durability during many types of natural disasters, including fires and hurricanes. After a 1991 firestorm in Oakland, California, wiped out more than 3,200 homes, one famous image depicted a lone house standing unscathed amidst a fire-razed neighborhood. What saved it? Its metal roof. Meanwhile, other roofs of asphalt and wood were lost to the tiniest of sparks in those arid conditions. Today, fire safety isn’t the only reason insurers love metal roofs. Engineered metal roofing, like that offered by American Building Components, stands up well to most inclement weather: snow, hail, even hurricane-force winds of up to 140 miles per hour. Ask your insurance broker about discounts for weather-rated, impact-resistant, and fire-resistant metal roofing. In some places, homeowners see a savings of up to 35 percent on their policy.
STRENGTH IN EVERY SEASON
A roof that fails midwinter under the weight of snow is every homeowner’s nightmare—except, that is, for a homeowner who sleeps underneath a metal roof. The winter months are when metal roofs work hardest. First, the sleek roofing material is designed with grooves that shed snow and sleet, thereby reducing the burden that a couple of feet of snowfall might otherwise put on a rooftop overnight. Additionally, built-in snow guards aim to break larger mounds of compacted snow into smaller piles to safely offload the icy precipitation. Then indoors, the metal structure and its insulating underlayment prevent heat loss, so the heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the house toasty.
Homeowners ready to make the switch and reap these benefits this winter, as well as those who as a result of snow damage end up needing to repair their existing roofs midseason, will be happy to know that this particular installation is not off-limits in winter. In fact, there may even be savings to be gained by installing in December or January. Because most homeowners rush to get their roofing needs met before the first snowfall, doing the work in midwinter might mean that local roofing contractors will have less work lined up, so you may be able to negotiate a better rate on labor. (Let’s not forget the tax benefit you could get if you squeeze the project in before December 31, 2016.)
If you’re looking into repairing or replacing your existing roof, consider saving yourself some long-term hassle—as well as a fair chunk of money every year—by investing in metal roofing panels. There’s no reason to delay. Make this the last time you ever worry about your home’s roof.
This article has been brought to you by American Building Components. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Lawn & Garden >
- Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Hanging Planter
Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Hanging Planter
Perfect for indoor or outdoor use, these DIY hanging planters will help you hold on to your summer greenery and transition it smoothly into winter.
‘Tis the season for winterizing your garden, a task that gives you the opportunity to bring your most beloved plants indoors. What better way to display these seasonal visitors than on a perch in your direct line of vision? (And one that takes hardly any counter space, at that.) Get inspired by these five DIY hanging planters that make it a cinch to showcase your favorite greenery and protect it from the chilly weather ahead.
Although glass terrariums are a sleek, functional way to showcase prized greenery, the price of a store-bought glass design can be steep. Take a cue from A Beautiful Mess and make your own budget-friendly version instead—from none other than a clear plastic fishbowl (or two or three, depending on how many plants you’d like to display). Turn each transparent bowl on its side for easy watering, but enjoy an unobstructed view of your buds from nearly any seat in your living space.
Raise not one, not two, but four terra-cotta pots off the floor using this vertical planter from I Heart Naptime. The best part? Scrap wood and rope are all you’ll need to build it—and likely already on hand! Although the rustic display looks great with succulents, you could also build your own hanging herb garden with each seasoning—from basil to rosemary—displayed at a different height.
This faceted teardrop planter from Vintage Revivals elevates your greenery, both in height and in elegance. And because it requires so little in the way of supplies, the finished project is a steal, costing only about $15 to assemble. You’ll need round brass tubing, floral wire, and a mini tubing cutter before you can get to work. Then, all that’s left to do is channel those geometry skills. With a bit of patience, you’ll be able to string this DIY hanging planter together in a few hours.
Instead of sending empty coffee creamer containers to the recycling bin, use them to fashion this hanging planter, as demonstrated by Hello Glow. Creamer containers are typically plastic, so use scissors (or an X-Acto knife) to carefully remove the tops and fill the majority of the containers with potting soil and greenery to turn the canisters into a tall planter. Holes poked in its sides for threaded twine make it ready to hang! A fresh coat of colorful paint is optional, but it really dresses up the planter.
Do you have a few extra needlepoint supplies lying around? If so, follow this tutorial from Northstory for a different sort of craft: creating a lovely DIY hanging planter. All this one-of-a-kind design requires is an embroidery hoop and a ceramic bowl. Glue the two materials together and let them bond overnight; the next day, you can hang your upcycled creation from a length of rope, and admire your gorgeous greenery as it sways in the breeze.
- Lawn & Garden >
- All You Need to Know About Soil Types
All You Need to Know About Soil Types
Is your soil chalky, sandy, or silty? Is it acid or alkaline? Before you put in a flower garden, add some trees, or plant your vegetables, figure out what type of soil you're dealing with and how best to amend it to have the healthiest, most flourishing plants ever.
Every gardener wants to grow the best-tasting tomatoes, the brightest zinnias, and the healthiest shrubs, but no one type of soil will guarantee success for each of those types of plants. Soil type—which is a classification determined by texture and relative proportions of sand, silt, and clay—will define the dirt’s ability to retain nutrients and moisture and therefore what it’s suitable to grow. Sure, you can always guess at the properties of your soil, but in order to aid your soil in producing its best crop, take a soil sample to your local extension agency and have it tested. For a minimal fee, you can find out the soil type (or types, because there are varying degrees), its pH level, and how it can be improved. Read on for the most common soil types, how they affect your landscaping projects, and how to better yours using the right products.
BEFORE YOU START: UNDERSTANDING AND ADJUSTING SOIL pH
Your soil’s pH value is a measurement of its acid-forming capacity. The pH scale numbers from 1.0 to 14.0. Values below 7.0 indicate soil in the acidic range, and the lower the number, the greater the soil’s acid-forming ability. Values higher than 7.0 are in the alkaline range, and the higher the number, the greater the soil’s alkalinity. Soil pH that falls within the slightly acidic range, between 6.0 and 7.0, is considered optimal for most plants and flowers. Amend soils that are too acidic with the application of products that contain lime or wood ash. To reduce alkalinity, apply a product that contains aluminum sulfate, urea, or elemental sulfur.
SOIL TYPE: CLAY
BEST FOR: Woody, moisture-loving perennials
Clay soil particulates are so tiny that they pack tightly together, locking in moisture and nutrients, but restricting oxygen and drainage. Till clay soil only when it’s bone dry to prevent creating rock-hard clods. Amend clay soil by adding a thick, three- to four-inch layer of mulch (dry leaves or bagged wood chips) in the fall, and then allow it to remain on top of the soil all winter long, waiting until spring to till it under. Work additional organic matter into the soil in spring before planting to reduce compaction and promote drainage.
Most types of soil, including clay, which tends to be slightly alkaline, will benefit from the addition of organic matter. Organic matter is often vegetal, meaning it comes from plants or trees, and includes substances such as dried leaves, straw, wood chips, and even cardboard; animal-related organic matter—manure from cows, goats, chickens, and llamas—contains a wide variety of micro- and macronutrients for soil-amending wherever you are growing (or plan to grow) plants. Fresh manure can burn any existing tender plants and kill seedlings, so aim to apply a layer of fresh manure in late fall and allow it to winter over before tilling it under in spring for the best results.
Woody perennials, such as wisteria, tend to do well in non-amended clay soil. Because clay is high in nutrients, with frequent amending to increase drainage and airflow, you can even expand its growing ability to accommodate a variety of vegetables, shrubs, and flowering plants.
SOIL TYPE: SANDY
BEST FOR: Drought-tolerant plants
Made of up ground rock particles, sandy soil neither holds the amount of moisture nor retains the vital nutrients needed to grow many types of vegetables and flowering plants. Homeowners with sandy soil should mix in organic matter every spring and fall to expand its growing ability. The added organic matter acts like a sponge to suck up moisture and retain it, making it available to plant roots for a longer period.
Depending on the type of rock particles and other matter your soil contains, its pH level could be in the acidic or slightly alkaline range. If your soil is sandy and you don’t intend to amend it, limit your garden landscape to plants that thrive even when their roots dry out between waterings. California poppies, crape myrtle, cleome, gazania, yarrow, and cosmos all do well in sandy soil with regular watering.
SOIL TYPE: SILTY
BEST FOR: Moisture-loving plants
If you live in an area that was once a riverbed, chances are good that you have silty soil. More fertile than sandy soil, silt particles are very fine and soft, making this soil type a top choice for growing lush vines and flowers that thrive in moist soil. Its pH level can vary from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. The downside to silty soil is its tendency to compact, which reduces drainage and restricts oxygen from reaching plant roots. To reduce compaction problems, add a few inches of compost or composted manure and work it into the top six inches of soil before planting in the spring. Apply additional compost around plants during the growing season, and spread a layer of dried leaves or other mulch over the soil bed in late fall, leaving it to winter over.
The best plants for non-amended silty soil are those that tolerate “wet feet” (i.e., a mostly damp root system), including all types of willow trees, dogwood trees, many iris varieties, peonies, roses, and many types of vines. With just a little amending to improve drainage, silty soil is excellent for vegetable gardening.
SOIL TYPE: LOAMY
BEST FOR: All plant types
In a gardener’s mind, if there’s any near-perfect soil type, it’s loam. Loamy soil is a balanced blend of clay, sand, and silt. It drains well and it’s high in nutrients. Homeowners with naturally loamy soil can grow virtually any type of plant. Depending on the pH level, which can vary, you may need to add either an acid or alkaline fertilizer if you intend to grow acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, or alkaline-loving ones, such as wisteria. A light application, about one inch thick, of dry leaves or mulch is usually all that’s needed to keep loamy soil healthy. Spread the leaves or mulch on top in the fall and allow it to naturally decompose over the winter. Till it under in spring before planting.
Vegetables, annual and perennial flowers, and most types of shrubs thrive in loamy soil.
SOIL TYPE: CHALKY
BEST FOR: Alkaline-loving plants
Chalky soils register an average of 7.5 on the pH scale, making them best suited for bulbs, tubers, and flowering shrubs that thrive in alkaline soil. Chalky soil, which is commonly found in areas with heavy limestone formations, dries out rapidly in hot weather, making frequent watering a must. If you want to grow a wider variety of plants, you’ll have to amend the soil by adding organic matter, such as composted manure or peat, and tilling it into the top eight inches of soil. When wet, chalky soil clumps, making it difficult to work with, so wait until it’s dry to work in organic matter.
Alkaline-tolerant plants, such as lilies and lilacs, can thrive chalky soil, but even with amending, it’s difficult to grow acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, or heathers.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Remove Rust from Cast Iron
How To: Remove Rust from Cast Iron
Whether it’s a favorite frying pan, piece of patio furniture, or even a radiator, you can bring it back from a state of oxidation with these techniques.
Cast iron is so strong and durable, it can serve for a lifetime and beyond. Yet rugged as the material is, it only takes a little neglect to send it from stately black to reddish and wrecked-looking. Rust damage can arise from storing in a damp environment, failing to maintain good seasoning on cookware, or being lax about protective anti-rust painting on furniture. Thankfully, most of this is reversible surface damage, if you put in some time and elbow grease. So to make that skillet or garden bench heirloom-worthy, employ these trusty rust-busting moves.
REMOVING RUST FROM CAST IRON COOKWARE
If your skillet is even a little rusty, quit cooking in it ASAP. Once you get it back in shape, you’ll season it anew and be good to go.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- White vinegar
- Steel wool scouring pads
- Liquid dish soap
- Clean cloth
- Cooking oil
- Paper towel
Check the skillet for pits or craters. If lightly pitted, it might be fine with some extra seasoning, but deep pitting means your skillet is likely beyond repair.
If the skillet has a thick layer of rust and very little visible black iron, soak the pan in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a plugged sink. Let it sit for at least an hour but no more than 8, since as soon as the rust lifts away, that vinegar will start on the metal itself.
Rinse the skillet with water and then scour it with a small amount of dish soap and fine steel wool. Work up a sudsy scrub and keep at it until you’re down to raw cast iron. Rinse under warm water and dry thoroughly.
To re-season, pour a tablespoon of vegetable or other cooking oil in the pan and use a paper towel to rub it in to the entire skillet, including the sides, handle, and bottom. Place it in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Allow it to cool completely before use.
To keep your cast iron cookware happy:
• Never put it in the dishwasher or use soap. Instead, simply wipe it clean under hot water after use.
• After cleaning, dry the pan thoroughly with a clean cloth or by popping it in a warm oven for a few minutes.
• Wipe with oil after drying to maintain a good non-stick seasoning.
• Always put paper towel between the pan and anything you stack it on, or in it, to protect seasoning and prevent rust.
• Keep any lids ajar so moisture isn’t sealed in, as closed lids can trigger oxidation.
REMOVING RUST FROM CAST IRON FURNITURE AND RADIATORS
Unless you’re experienced using a sandblaster, call a pro for larger areas of heavy rust. But for typical rusting, roll up your sleeves and try these tips.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Clean rags
- White vinegar
- Sanding paper (medium grit)
- Steel wool brush
- Work gloves
- Mask (optional)
- Rust-proof metal paint
For small, pesky spots, soak a clean rag in white vinegar. Wipe and rub the spot until you see bare iron.
For tougher spots, sand them with medium-grit sandpaper or a steel wool brush. Pull on a pair of work gloves and mask (especially if removing paint in the process) so that you don’t inhale the dust. Wipe with vinegar-soaked rag occasionally as you work, to see if bare iron is visible.
Use a water-dampened rag to wipe the surface clean and to stop the vinegar from further corroding the surface. Dry well with a clean cloth.
For larger sections of heavier rust, sand using circular motions. Avoid working in any one spot too long so you won’t leave obvious sanding patterns in the metal. Continue as directed in the previous steps, being sure to rinse with water and dry completely.
Apply a coat of rust-proof metal paint. Oil, alkyd, acrylics—check with your paint supplier or product label to ensure it will bond to cast iron and protect it from surface rust. (Keep paint handy for touch-ups, like spot treating any scratches or chips that may crop up.)