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The Right Stuff: 3 Types of Safety Gear You Need for Heavy-Duty DIY

Check out the strides made in personal protective equipment, and gear up right before you start your next big project.

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Types of Protective Gear Essential to the DIY Job

Photo: istockphoto.com

Few do-it-yourselfers would consider remodeling a room, building an addition, or addressing a plumbing or electrical issue without the right tools. Yet, unlike pros, who are required to wear safety gear by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, too many amateurs risk serious injury by tackling projects without appropriate eyewear, footwear, and hearing protection—a bad habit that needs to change. And thanks to comfortable, streamlined, even cool new products from Honeywell, a leading manufacturer of quality personal protective equipment, weekend work warriors now have every reason to put safety first. So read these three considerations before your next heavy-duty home improvement endeavor—to get smart, gear up, and stay out of the ER!

 

Honeywell Oliver 45 Series Protective Footwear

Photo: honeywell.com

Put Your Best Feet Forward
Have you got some demo on your to-do list? Hauling lumber, bricks, or other mighty loads soon? Perhaps you’re reach new heights in roofing. Step one for any of these jobs is lacing up a top-notch pair of work boots. Foot injuries from construction sites run the gamut from punctures, burns, and lacerations to sprains, breaks, even the loss of a toe or two.

With the Oliver 45 Series of protective footwear, you won’t sacrifice comfort for safety. An innovative composite toe makes the boots 40 percent lighter than their old-fashioned steel toe predecessors while still offering optimal high-impact protection. Throw in flexible underfoot support to absorbs shocks and impacts, a heat-resistant outer sole that withstands temperatures up to 266 degrees Fahrenheit, and a fully lined padded collar and tongue, and you’ve got a boot that’ll thwart foot, leg, and lower back fatigue. Plus, like any good tool, the Oliver 45 Series—made of liquid-resistant leather with a chemical-resistant sole—is built to last. You’ll run out of projects before you’ll need another pair!

 

Honeywell Uvex Hypershock Protective Eyewear

Photo: honeywell.com

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
With all the debris that goes flying, it’s no surprise that construction has the highest incidence of eye injury than any other industry. But electrical work (due largely to its overhead nature) and plumbing (all that chemical, material, hot water, and steam exposure) also present their share of eye hazards. Even heavy-duty garden chores, like taking down tree limbs, put your vision at risk. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 90 percent of all eye injuries could be avoided with safety eyewear, yet only 35 percent of people consistently protect their eyes while doing home repairs or projects. The reinvention of once clunky protective gear aims to change all of that.

Now, the Uvex line of sport-inspired eyewear offers excellent performance, superior comfort, and sleek, bold style. Its Acadia model boasts a ¾ frame design and sculpted padded temples for high-impact protection, plus a soft, ribbed ergonomic nosepiece to keep the pair from slipping. Or pick the full-frame Hypershock, with padded temples and a molded nosepiece for a secure, comfortable fit. You can even choose frame color and lens tint, and opt for Uvextreme Plus® anti-fog lens coating. With either selection, safety has never looked so good!

 

Honeywell Sync Digital AM/FM Radio

Photo: honeywell.com

Take This Sound Advice
Carpentry is cacophonous, as a quick check of decibel levels makes clear: A router and circular saw both clock in at 110 dBs, while a nail gun pops at a whopping 120 dBs—not much quieter than a roaring jet engine (140 dBs). And it doesn’t take a lot of exposure to too-loud tools to harm your hearing.

Protection used to mean either cheap foam earplugs crammed into your ear canals or clunky earmuffs. Now there’s SYNC Digital AM/FM Radio: a sleek, smart electronic headset that combines hearing protection with high-fidelity sound. SYNC Radio lets you digitally tune in up to 10 of your favorite AM/FM stations, or use the AUX input jack to connect to your MP3 player, mobile phone, or other personal listening device. With DJ-inspired earcups and sound quality that’s on par with professional headphones, you’ll have more than enough motivation to get the job done. Hey, you may just whistle while you work!

 

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


So, You Want to… Build a Floating Deck

Add an elevated platform to your outdoor area with the know-how you’ll find here.

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How to Build a Floating Deck

Photo: istockphoto.com

Summer isn’t summer unless you’re soaking up the sun, grilling, and chilling in your own backyard. Yet a traditional deck isn’t always feasible or permitted by local authorities, so for many homeowners, a “floating” deck—a raised wooden platform that sits a few inches off the ground—is the perfect solution. A floating deck isn’t all that difficult to build for the DIYer with basic carpenter hand and power tools and a working knowledge of standard deck construction. Ahead, all the information you’ll need before purchasing materials for the project—or opting to hire a pro.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: FLOATING VERSUS TRADITIONAL DECKS
There’s not a big cost differential in materials for either a traditional or a floating deck; the main difference lies in their structural support systems.

A traditional deck has posts cemented below ground level, making the deck a permanent structure and subject to local building codes.

Floating decks, on the other hand, sit low to the ground and actually appear to float on two or more sides, depending on the joist system design. They rely on a structural base that’s not permanently fixed in the ground, classifying them in most communities as personal property instead of real estate. Because it’s not attached to the ground or an existing structure, local building authorities do not require a building permit. If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, however, you will need to get permission before proceeding. All of that said, don’t let the term fool you: You can’t take a floating deck with you if you choose to move—they’re not portable.

 

How to Build a Floating Deck

Photo: istockphoto.com

CONSIDER THE CAVEATS
A well-constructed floating deck adds style and comfort to a backyard, but it has a few possible downsides:

• Because floating decks sit low to the ground, there is an increased likelihood of weeds growing up between the decking planks.
• A floating deck can become a hazard in serious storms, as high winds can potentially toss it off its base.
• If the ground beneath a floating deck settles, the deck could tilt or sag, requiring it to be rebuilt.

GET A STRONG BASE
If you decide that a floating deck is for you, keep in mind that your finished product will only be as good as its structurally sound base. While you can build one on concrete pavers or over an existing level patio, perhaps the soundest way to support a floating deck is with pre-made concrete deck blocks that have notched tops designed to hold either 4×4 posts (on end) or 2×6, 2×8, or 2×10 lumber (on edge). Deck blocks must sit on a stable surface, typically comprised of compacted sand a few inches deep, and their tops must be perfectly level. Using a laser level will ensure accuracy. Basic models start in the $200 range, so if you don’t want to spring for one, rent one for about $40 per day.

 

How to Build a Floating Deck in the Backyard

Photo: istockphoto.com

ASCRIBE TO STANDARD DECK CONSTRUCTION
Once the base is in place, you’ll apply standard deck construction techniques. You’ll set support beams on the deck blocks, and then install deck joists on top, perpendicular to the beams.

Lumber dimensions you choose depend on the intended size of the deck and joist span. If you’re unsure how to size your lumber, take a drawing of your deck to the engineering department of your local lumberyard (not a do-it-yourself center) for help choosing the correct dimensions.

The “floating” aspect is created when joists extend far enough past the blocks to obscure the blocks. This, combined with the deck’s close proximity to the ground, gives the illusion of a hovering platform. Usually, this floating effect occurs on the two sides of the deck where the joists end. On the sides parallel to the joists, the support blocks beneath will be visible. A deck that floats on all sides requires advanced framing skills that involve installing cross-joists and notching rim joists to support them. If you’re not experienced in this type of framing, call a reputable contractor or deck builder.

Should you decide to build a deck more than 8 inches above the ground, don’t forget to include a stair or two in the plans for stepping on and off safely and easily.

 

How to Build a Floating Deck - with Steps

Photo: istockphoto.com

MAINTAIN YOUR INVESTMENT
Once you’ve invested your money, time, and effort into updating your backyard with this installation, keep the brand-new floating deck looking great for years to come with some easy (and essential) maintenance. Immediately after construction, application of a penetrating sealer, or a sealer/stain combo, will repel moisture and prolong the deck’s lifespan. Beyond that, simply remember to sweep the deck frequently to remove fallen leaves and debris, and spray it down with plain water to rinse off occasional spilled food or bird droppings. A thorough cleaning at least once a year with a good deck-cleaning solution and scrub brush—followed by more sealer—should take care of the rest for your backyard retreat.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


How To: Cut Brick

Learning how to cut your own brick opens up a world of home improvement opportunities. Thanks to today's technologies, cutting brick for back yard patios and other outdoor projects has never been easier.

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How to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

Many home improvement enthusiasts choose to enhance their landscapes with the DIY installation of brick patios, walkways, walls, even the occasional outdoor fireplace. And, thanks to the impressive selection at home improvement centers, they can find a wide range of styles and colors for landscaping bricks and stone to suit just about any landscaping project. While some of these projects—walkways, patios—are easy enough to lay out, you most likely will run into a circumstance that requires you to cut the brick to fit your intended design, especially with more complicated structures such as a fireplace or water feature. Decades ago, cutting brick would have required a mason’s hammer or cold chisel to score and snap each building block. Thankfully, a little know-how and an electric powered angle grinder with attached diamond cutting blade have simplified the job for today’s DIYers.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Angle grinder with attached diamond cutting blade
- Workbench
- 50-foot extension cord
- Tape measure
- Small framing square
- Pencil
- Dust mask or respirator
- Safety glasses
- Hammer

STEP 1
Set up your workbench close to the work area to reduce travel time between cuts. An ideal workbench would include a set of sawhorses with a scrap of plywood or similar on top; this provides a stable surface when cutting the brick.

In addition, since brick cutting with an angle grinder is a dusty affair, maintain a safe distance from swimming pools, automobiles, and other areas where the dust could pose a concern. A 50-foot extension cord connected to an outlet provides extra flexibility in location for your power tool when setting up your cutting area.

How to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
Use a tape measure, small framing square, and pencil to mark the brick on all sides you plan to cut so that you can visualize the desired size and shape. While many cuts will be straight during a brick installation project, you may run across circumstances that require an L-Shaped or curved cut. Take your time when measuring and determining the shape of the cut and be as accurate as possible to reduce material waste and re-cuts.

STEP 3
Place the brick on your workbench with the marked surface facing up. Don your protective gear—dust mask and safety glasses—and connect the angle grinder to the extension cord. Word of caution: Make sure the angle grinder is in the Off position before connecting to the power source so that it doesn’t inadvertently start work without an operator.

With the angle grinder firmly in your hand and its blade perpendicular to the brick, turn on the switch that activates the tool. Slowly lower the blade to the brick’s surface and begin cutting along the marked line. You should always cut on the waste side—the section of brick you do not want to use—of the pencil line. This not only facilitates accurate cuts but provides a little leeway until you gain the feel of the tool and cutting process.

STEP 4
Cutting completely through the brick material with one pass will depend on two things: the thickness of the brick material and the size of the angle grinder and diamond blade you are using. For example, an angle grinder designed to use a 4-1/2-inch diameter blade can cut approximately 2-1/4 inches deep—the distance from the center of the blade in each direction—at best, while a 9-inch grinder can cut to depths of approximately 4-1/2 inches. Since brick sizes vary depending on the type and style you are using—the average range is between 1-5/8-inch through 2-3/4-inch thick with some specialty bricks even thicker—the size of your angle grinder is important if you need to cut through the brick in one pass.

If you cannot cut all the way through the brick, you must score the material as deeply as possible on one side with the angle grinder, slide the brick to the edge of your work surface, and finish the cut by lightly tapping the top of the waste side of the brick with a hammer to snap it off. A quick pass with the angle grinder (this time held so that its blade is near parallel with the brick’s cut side in order to shave) will clean up any rough edges.

In addition, making L-Shaped cuts in thicker materials may require that you transfer the pencil marks to the backside of the brick and finish cutting with the angle grinder to prevent accidental (and unwanted) breakage.

A few cuts in, and you will get in the groove of taking measurements and cutting like a pro in no time. The result? A DIY backyard upgrade that will pay dividends in both personal entertainment and property value.

sHow to Cut Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com


3 Things to Look For in Replacement Windows

If window replacement is in your future, it's time to read up on the latest in available features and materials.

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Choosing Replacement Windows - Late Afternoon Main

Photo: istockphoto.com

Of all the components that go into residential construction, windows stand out as one of the few that heavily influence both the look of the home and its performance. But while windows are visible indoors and out, playing roles in interior design as well as outward curb appeal, people rarely install new windows for aesthetic reasons alone. Typically, says Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, window-shopping homeowners are driven by practical concerns that include energy efficiency, maintenance, and security. If for any reason you’re now in the planning stages of a window replacement project, “your timing couldn’t be better,” Eldredge adds, noting that in recent years, window design and manufacturing have advanced by leaps and bounds. Today, the best windows boast an unprecedented degree of sophistication and offer a host of compelling new features. Some are minor—nice to have but nonessential. According to Eldredge, however, there are at least three features that are “worth it to insist on.” Read on to learn which are the most pivotal, and why.

 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Choosing Replacement Windows - Efficiency Features

Photo: istockphoto.com

“A good window is a poor wall”—that old saying goes back to the days when wood-framed, single-paned windows couldn’t compete with the thermal resistance of an insulated exterior wall. “That’s changing,” says Eldredge. There’s still no such thing as a perfect window, but many now boast best-ever efficiency. If you’re pursuing window replacement in an effort to conserve energy and control utility costs, Eldredge recommends “focusing only on windows with Energy Star certification,” like the Weatherbeater line installed by Sears Home Services. Weatherbeater windows are double-paned for added insulation, and argon, a denser-than-air gas injected in between the panes insulates even further. Another secret to the efficiency of modern windows: the use of a transparent, micro-thin layer of metal oxide, known as low-e coating. In the summer, low-e works to limit solar heat gain, while in winter, it prevents heat from escaping. Year-round, low-e protects rugs, upholstered furniture, and artwork from fading under the effects of ultraviolet sunlight. “It’s like sunscreen for your house,” Eldredge concludes.

 

LOW MAINTENANCE

Choosing Replacement Windows - Maintenance Needs

Photo: istockphoto.com

If they’re going to look great and perform well over the long term, windows require care. How much? That “depends a lot on the material composition of the frame,” Eldredge says. Wood, though beautiful, demands the most attention. Aluminum stands up comparatively well to the rigors of year-round exposure, but it falls short in other ways. For example, as it’s an extraordinarily effective conductor of heat, aluminum usually makes for a poor insulator. Vinyl manages to combine the best of both worlds—the look of wood and the durability of aluminum. It’s perhaps no surprise that, as Eldredge points out, “vinyl windows are increasingly the go-to choice.” A popular option from Sears Home Services, Weatherbeater vinyl windows require little more than occasional cleaning. Of course, nobody likes cleaning windows, but some—Weatherbeater included—facilitate the dreaded chore with tilt-in sashes that provide easy access to the exterior glass. Once you eliminate what was always the trickiest part of doing it the old-fashioned way, “window-cleaning gets a whole lot easier,” Eldredge says.

 

SAFETY & SECURITY

Choosing Replacement Windows - Safety and Security

Photo: istockphoto.com

You may live in an area where break-ins are rare, but it’s comforting to know your home can defend against would-be intruders, if necessary. “The trouble is that not every homeowner feels that way,” Eldredge says. Perhaps as a consequence, many customers who decide on window replacement do so for a simple reason—”they want to feel safer,” Eldredge says. In assessing the safety and security features of any given replacement window, “start with the hardware, including the locking mechanism,” Eldredge says, “but don’t ignore the glass.” Some types of glass are tougher than others. Upon impact, a traditional window shatters all too easily, leaving a gaping hole. But thanks to an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), security glass boasts enhanced strength. You may need to ask for it; security glass typically doesn’t come standard. For example, among the window offerings from Sears Home Services, only the Weatherbeater Max line includes security glass. But while it may not be the right choice for everyone, there’s good reason to consider it if you’re concerned about crime or windblown debris in a storm.

 

Many pursue window replacement only once, if at all, in their tenure as homeowner. Unfamiliar territory for most, window replacement tends to provoke no small amount of anxiety. It’s a significant undertaking, both in terms of scope and consequences, and there are significant costs involved—not least because for all but the most ambitious do-it-yourselfers, the project entails hiring a pro. You can start by soliciting estimates from reputable contractors in your area—it’s never too early. Or, to explore your options further, you can go online now to schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Operating nationally, with a decades-long track record of success, Sears matches you with an expert coordinator, ready to walk you through the entire process, from the earliest stage of selecting a window to the final installation. Best of all, unlike local outfits, Sears provides a Satisfaction Guarantee. When you’re dealing with a component of your home as critical as its windows, it means a lot to work with a trusted brand. As Eldredge puts it, “There’s nothing like peace of mind.”

Choosing Replacement Windows - Homeowner Remodelers

Photo: istockphoto.com

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


How To: Clean Air Conditioner Coils

Save money and lengthen your AC unit’s life with this simple maintenance operation.

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How to Clean AC Coils on a Window Unit

Photo: istockphoto.com

During the hottest days of the year, it’s likely that you rely heavily on an air conditioning unit—be it targeting your room from a windowsill or cooling off the whole-home—without considering what makes it tick. Your AC condenser coils are where the magic happens: Here, the refrigerator unit in your go-to seasonal appliance absorbs heat to make the air cooler. As air passes over the cool refrigerant, it wicks the heat out in a process that’s essentially the reverse of how your forced air furnace operates. Now, the cleaner the surface area of those coils is, the more efficiently the machine works. Dust and oil that accumulate over time can create a blanket over the coils—one that, just like the blanket on your bed, impedes heat transfer and makes your AC less efficient and more expensive. Fortunately, the hardest part to cleaning air conditioner coils is remembering to set aside the time at least once a year. The process takes less than half an hour, but better schedule a full hour so you don’t feel like you’re rushing through the job.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Screwdriver
- Coil brush
- Fin brush (optional)
- Garden hose
- Foaming coil cleaner

How to Clean AC Coils

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
For window ACs, you’ll need to access the end that sticks out of the house in order to reach the coils; central air units typically keep the coils behind a removable panel that you should unscrew in order to continue. Check your operator’s manual if you’re unclear—the specs diagram will identify exactly where the coils are and the process to remove the cover, if applicable. Remember: When in doubt, trust the manufacturer. They built it. They know how to take it apart.

STEP 2
Visually inspect the coils for any large debris like leaves, spider webs, or clods of dirt. Remove these by hand, then dust off the coils using a coil brush. Available at most big box hardware stores and AC shops, this specialty cleaning tool (also known as a soil brush) features bristles with stiffness about halfway between a hand broom and a wire brush. Lightly guide the brush parallel to the fins on the coils in order to avoid bending them. This isn’t a deep scrub—you’re simply knocking off loose dust and hair.

STEP 3 (optional)
Did you notice many bent fins on your coils in Step 2? (Hint: Bent fins will reflect light and often put a bright sheen to parts of the coils.) If so, running a fin brush slowly and parallel to the line of the fins could straighten them out. This will improve the performance of your AC unit by increasing the exposed surface area for the coils. If you don’t want to invest in a piece of specialized equipment like the fin brush (which can be purchased for $15 or more online), go ahead and skip this step. Correcting bent fins goes above and beyond the task at hand—cleaning the coils—from which you’re machine will already receive an efficiency boost.

STEP 4 (optional)
Rinse the coils on any outdoor central AC unit by spraying with water from your garden hose. If your unit is indoors, you can avoid a puddle beneath your window altogether by opting for a slightly pricier “no-rinse” type of coil cleaner and moving on to Step 5.

STEP 5
Shake the can of foaming coil cleaner—either the standard or a no-rinse version—and spray it directly into your coils so that none go uncovered. The cleaner should foam immediately, filling the air between coils where grime accumulates, until each section of your coils is hidden from view. The foaming lifts off all the unreachable dirt and grime embedded in between the fins. Let the cleaner soak for five to 10 minutes, according to the instructions on the can.

STEP 6
If the cleanser specifies, rinse off the foaming cleaner using your hose. You will need good water pressure and slow, back and forth motions to thoroughly rinse the cleanser off. Indoor units cleaned using rinse-free cleaner simply need to start up; the condensate will rinse off the cleaner on its own.

How to Clean AC Coils on a Whole-House Unit

Photo: istockphoto.com

Though some of the more unscrupulous AC service companies will say you need service two or three times per year, most experts agree cleaning your coils once a year is plenty. For best results, do it in the spring, immediately before the summer heat starts to demand your air conditioning perform at peak potential.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


Genius! Double Your Grilling Space Without Spending a Dime

Why slave away over the grill for your next summer barbecue? This space-saving homemade warming rack can half your grilling time—and is doubly fun to build!

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how-to-use-charcoal-grill

Photo: seriouseats.com

From searing a steak to piecing together the perfect kebabs, manning the grill is a juggling act. For BBQ-ers without a built-in top rack for buns, melting cheese, and cooking veggies, a simple Labor Day cookout requires precise timing, coordination, and creative use of limited space. Even if you’re blessed with a two-tiered grill, hosting a family get-together or a tailgating party usually calls for even more cooking room. Whatever you’re working with, the problem is the same: Put side dishes on too soon, and you might not have space for the main entrée—but, wait until the entrée is fully cooked to add the sides, and you’ll have to serve cold burgers and dogs to hungry guests.

For those in the same BBQ bind over the holiday weekend, Joshua Bousel of Serious Eats devised a DIY grill add-on that warms finished food and doubled his cooking space. The grilling gastronome’s rack rose from humble beginnings: two rinsed tin cans, to be exact. With both ends cut off and the labels removed, Bousel stood the two containers upright on his charcoal BBQ. He then rested another circular grate (an oven rack or a stove burner will work, too) right over the cans.

Removed from the blazing heat of the flames below, the second level serves as a standalone warming rack for finished food.  Or, covered with foil, the top tier works as a a slow cooker by evenly roasting potatoes, corn, and other seasonal veggies without burning them. Best of all, this free BBQ booster leaves plenty of room on the bottom for more food. With all of the extra space, you’ll be able to throw everything on at once, essentially cutting cooking time in half and getting you back to the party sooner.

FOR MORE: Serious Eats

how-to-use-charcoal-grill-1

Photo: istockphoto.com

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


The Dos and Don’ts of Spray Painting

Grab a can and shake up your decor with these practical tips.

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Spray Painting Tips

Photo: istockphoto.com

When you need a quick, cool upgrade that doesn’t cost a bundle, spray paint is hard to beat. A host of exciting new hues and finishes have taken spray paint to the next level, and you can use it on all sorts of surfaces, from concrete blocks and stepping stones to wood, plastic, or metal furniture. But getting pro-quality results does take a bit of skill, so read on before you spray away!

DO Choose the Right Location

As with any painting project, you’ll need to work in a well-ventilated spot. If the weather is pleasant, you can take it outside, but beware of breezes. Wind can mess with your ability to get good coverage, and it can blow dirt onto your piece, which will be difficult to remove and will mar the finish. If working indoors, open all windows for cross ventilation, or consider painting in the garage, near the open door.

 

Spray Painting - 7 Do's and Dont's - Bob Vila

Photo: istockphoto.com

DON’T Slack on Prep Work

Prep is key to any successful paint job. So, depending on the material you’re painting, do what’s necessary to mend any scratches or holes, then sand to smooth out rough spots. Wash your piece with mild detergent solution, rinse with water, and allow it to dry thoroughly.

 

DO Practice Protection

There will be overspray, so cover the surrounding area with drop cloths or newspaper. If you’re working on something small, contain overspray by setting the piece inside a cardboard box. Perhaps more crucial is protecting yourself. Aerosol paint can get into eyes and lungs, so wear goggles and a dust mask or respirator. Gloves are a good idea, too, and remember that overspray on the floor can stick to the bottom of your shoes—remove footwear and check your soles before leaving the area to avoid tracking paint.

 

DON’T Rush It

For optimal, even coverage, apply spray paint in several thin coats. Don’t worry if you can see through the first or even the second coat. Patience is a virtue here.

 

DO Use a Sweeping Motion

Waving the can randomly will result in uneven results. Instead, hold the can six to eight inches from the surface and use even, horizontal strokes, sweeping from left to right, then right to left. Be careful not to hesitate in any one spot or you’ll get drips.

 

DON’T Have a Heavy Trigger Finger

To avoid glops and spots—and to conserve paint—spray in short spurts rather than a constant stream. Listen for brief bursts of air coming from the can, as opposed to a long, steady hiss.

 

DO Allow the Paint to Cure Completely

Spray paint does dry quickly, but it usually requires at least 24 hours to cure completely. Resist the urge to move your piece or replace any hardware you’ve removed until you’ve reached the curing time indicated on the can. A scratch or fingerprint late in the game will be difficult to fix.

 


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.


Which Type of Dehumidifier Is Right for You?

Savvy homeowners dread high humidity, not only because it causes discomfort, but also because over time, excess moisture can be severely damaging to the home. Often, dehumidifiers are the answer, but choosing the right model can be tricky business. Continue to get advice from an industry pro.

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Types of Dehumidifiers

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Does this sound familiar? You step outside on a hot day, and though the weather may not be ideal, you can certainly tolerate it. The next day, however, the same heat combines with a higher level of humidity, and you’re left fantasizing about taking the next plane to a kinder climate. Though many people focus primarily on their own sticky discomfort, veteran homeowners know the darker side of humidity: When the moisture content of air rises above a safe threshold indoors, there can be a battery of negative consequences, from musty odors and mold growth to warped wood and cracked or peeling paint. In other words, your house hates humidity as much as you do!

The solution? It’s simple—install a dehumidifier. Doing so not only boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of air conditioning, but also protects against damage due to excess moisture. The technology always works the same way, no matter if the dehumidifier is a portable model or a whole-home unit tied into the household HVAC. Air is pulled into the dehumidifier and exposed to a cold coil inside the unit, which causes water contained in the humid air to condense into liquid water that is then stored or drained. The now-dry air then exits the unit after passing over a warm coil. For all their fundamental similarities, however, dehumidifiers often differ dramatically in terms of capacity and design.

Types of Dehumidifiers - Portable Unit

Photo: supplyhouse.com

For a dehumidifier to serve its intended function, its capacity must match the demand. In other words, according to Daniel O’Brian, a technical specialist with SupplyHouse.com, “You need to make sure you get the right size dehumidifier for the job.” Much depends on two variables—the size of the space and the conditions within it. For instance, in a large, damp, closed-in basement, you would need a higher-capacity dehumidifier than in a relatively compact living space with sufficient airflow. If you’re considering whole-home dehumidification, it’s wise to consult with a contractor to make sure your unit will be compatible with your HVAC system and powerful enough for your needs. For portable units, however, you can generally rely on the coverage area specified by the manufacturer.

In terms of design, homeowners are probably most familiar with portable dehumidifiers that can be wheeled from one room to another in order to remove moisture from the immediately surrounding air. Such units are popular because they are user-friendly—as O’Brian puts it, “Installing one is as easy as installing a toaster.” They’re appealing also because these “plug and play” dehumidifiers tend to be the least expensive option, though not necessarily the least powerful. The downside: Portable units don’t run for very long on their own; many “need to be checked and emptied fairly regularly,” O’Brian notes. That said, in the wake of a moisture-related event—for instance, a flooded basement—O’Brian maintains that there’s no better option.

Some homeowners are fortunate enough to face perilously high humidity only on occasion and in certain parts of the house. For others, though, it’s a persistent problem, and not just in one or a few rooms, but throughout the home. In the latter situation, “your best bet may be an in-line dehumidifier,” O’Brian says. Specially designed to integrate with the existing forced-air HVAC system, whole-home dehumidifiers are more sophisticated than their stand-alone cousins and for that reason usually cost more—”if only because their installation requires a pro,” O’Brian adds. Yet the added cost gets you at least a couple of virtues not found in portables. For one, whole-home units do their job behind the scenes, without ever becoming an eyesore. Plus, “set it and forget it” in-line units rarely require homeowner intervention.

Retailers like SupplyHouse.com offer both portable and whole-home dehumidifiers in a wide range of capacities, from a suite of industry-leading manufacturers. To get a head start on selecting a unit, first monitor the moisture level in different areas of your home and use a hygrometer to take some humidity measurements. Then, when you’re ready to discuss specific requirements, don’t hesitate to contact SupplyHouse.com customer service, either online or by phone at (888) 757-4774. O’Brian concludes, “Whether you’re looking for a little extra comfort or a lot of protection against moisture damage, there’s a dehumidifier perfectly suited to match your needs and budget.”

Types of Dehumidifiers - Inline Unit

Photo: supplyhouse.com

This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Get Rid of Clover

Try some of these simple DIY solutions to eradicate this common lawn invader.

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How to Get Rid of Clovers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Stubborn weeds are the bane of a beautiful lawn. Yet, although it’s pretty stubborn, clover (aka Trifolium repens) is actually beneficial. It brings nitrogen into the soil and encourages grass growth when it decomposes. In fact, some grass blends even include micro-clover as a welcome addition to a lawn. Still, many homeowners simply don’t appreciate all those small white flowers interrupting their field of green. Mowing it over is only a temporary fix: Clover grows back, fast. So, if you’re adamant about keeping this herbaceous three-leaved intruder off your landscape, you’re in luck! Read on for easy remedies that can get rid of clover for good.

Knock it out with nitrogen. Generally speaking, a well-fertilized lawn keeps all weeds at bay, but ensuring proper nitrogen levels will give you an extra edge against clover. It’s a lack of nitrogen that allows clover to thrive, so try a nitrogen-rich weed-and-feed formula. Organic fertilizers might do the trick if you have a small amount of clover, but if your lawn is becoming overrun, choose a standard fertilizer that is not slow release.

Remove it manually. Don’t give clover a chance to spread. Get rid of small clumps as soon as you notice them by gently loosening the soil around the base with a spade or your fingers, then plucking the clover up. Be sure you get all of the root.

How to Get Rid of Clovers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cook it. A natural way to thwart clover is to deprive it of sunlight and oxygen. Place plastic sheeting (a garbage bag will do) on top of clover, securing the corners so it won’t blow away. This ought to kill the weed in a few weeks, but use this method only on large clover patches; otherwise, surrounding grass will probably experience collateral damage.

Douse it. Here’s a natural remedy many gardeners find effective: Mix vinegar with a small amount of dish soap, put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spot treat clover clumps. Just take care to avoid surrounding plants.

Kill it with corn gluten. Corn gluten meal, available at garden centers and nurseries, can inhibit clover growth with no ill effects on nearby plants. It releases organic dipeptides into the soil, which dry out seeds and make it more difficult for them to sprout. Spread about 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water well, and allow to dry naturally.

Hit back with herbicide. If you’ve got to pull out the big guns to get rid of clover, broadleaf herbicides can do the job. These products generally contain the chemicals 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Mecoprop, and Dicamba, which disrupt normal growth patterns and cause the weeds to twist, the leaves to cup, and the stems to crack. While these herbicides don’t harm surrounding grass, they can hurt some garden plants and insects, so it’s wise to spot treat directly on clover rather than apply freely.


So, You Want to… Install a Screen Door

Here’s everything you need to know about selecting, installing, and maintaining this summertime essential.

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How to Install a Screen Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

Breezes in, bugs out—functionally speaking, the screen door hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years or so. Different types, however, and their varying price points have emerged in more recent times. If you’re in the market for one to separate your indoor and outdoor spaces, read this before you shop. You’ll find all the guidance needed for selecting and installing a screen door that’s ideal for your house and budget.

Screen Doors vs. Storm Doors
Screen doors are different from storm doors, though the terms are often erroneously used interchangeably. Storm doors, as the name implies, are designed as barriers against inclement weather. Though their frames are rugged (made of steel, vinyl, or aluminum), they may have a screen along with a sliding glass panel to let air pass through at your discretion. Standard screen doors, however, aren’t intended for heavy duty. If you’re looking for protection against the elements, opt for a specialized storm door.

How to Install a Screen Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

Types of Screen Doors
Three varieties of screen doors exist to supplement the myriad of home entrances.

• Perhaps the most familiar style, one known to go hand-in-hand with a picturesque front porch, the traditional type fits in the outer portion of an exterior doorjamb and opens outwards. Purely functional, bare-bones models are suited to side or backyard entries, yet you can certainly find a stylish one to complement a front door. These traditional screen doors come in standard sizes and are typically made of wood, although aluminum and vinyl versions are available.

• Some homeowners prefer a retractable screen for a front door. Based on the principle of pull-down window blinds, the retractable screen is stored in a spring-loaded casing, positioned either at the side or at the top of the doorframe. You pull it across or down when you want to leave a door open to get a breeze and block bugs. It’s appealing for a front entrance, since it’s all but invisible and won’t interfere with curb appeal.

• Finally, there are slider screen doors that install on the exterior track of a sliding patio door. While some patio doors do come with sliding screens, you can find add-on options for an existing sliding door.

Pick Your Price
You can find a traditional screen door made of unfinished pine for around $30, while low-end vinyl and aluminum models start at around $50. If you’re looking for stainable hardwood or an ornate design, the cost could go as high as $200.

Retractable screens start at around $30 but these cheaper models don’t offer sidetracks, leading you to potentially deal with gaps at the edges. High-end models, running $500 or more, have a variety of bells and whistles, including secure tracks, motorized remote-control operation, and double-door protection for French doors.

Sliding screen panels for patio doors start around $40 and come in standard sizes, but not all sliding doors accept generic screens. Check with the manufacturer of your patio door to determine if you need to order a custom screen, which could run upwards of $100.

Make Sure to Measure
Screen doors come in standard sizes. For a traditional screen door, measure the door you’ll be pairing it with and purchase a screen door in a matching size. If you have an off-size door, consider purchasing the next size larger wooden model and cutting it to fit. Most, but not all, retractable screens require measuring the inside of the doorjamb. Read manufacturer’s measuring instructions (usually posted on the outside of the box) to be sure. For a sliding patio door, measure the door panel that slides and purchase a corresponding screen panel.

Screen Door Installation
Because models vary so, installing a screen door entirely depends on the variety you’ve chosen for your home. Many homeowners are drawn to the traditional screen door for its simplicity, as it requires little more than attaching the hinges and pull-handle with the screws that come included. You’ll need a drill with a bit slightly smaller than the screws, a screwdriver bit, a tape measure, and a pencil for marking where to drill pilot holes. Install the hinges at the same level as the upper and lower door hinges, or about eight inches from the top and also from the bottom. Similarly, the handle should be placed at the same height as the exterior doorknob. Use shims, as needed, under the hinges to center the screen door in the jamb. (It’s standard to leave a 1/8-inch gap around the sides and the top, and a 3/8-inch gap, or larger, at the bottom.)

Most traditional screen doors are universal, meaning you can install them to open on the either the right or the left, depending on your preference. The spring that holds the door closed installs midway on the door, typically behind the push bar, on hooks, so you can remove it when you want to open the door all the way.

Retractable screen installation differs by type and brand, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you’ll use the same tools needed for traditional screen door installation, but if you’re attaching a bottom track to a concrete or brick porch, you’ll also need a masonry bit and concrete screws. Some higher-end retractable screens do require professional installation.

Last but not least, installing a screen door that slides is all about track placement: Position the door in the exterior track and lift it up to hook the rollers in the upper track runner. When it’s in the right spot, it should slide smoothly.

How to Install a Screen Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

Seal and Secure
Most wooden screen doors come painted, but often the top and bottom edges are raw wood. Sealing the raw edges with exterior paint that matches the door before installation will prevent premature weathering. If you purchase an unfinished door, paint the whole thing with quality exterior paint, or stain it and brush or spray on a coat of spar varnish to keep it looking new. Vinyl and aluminum screen doors require no additional weatherproofing.

If the bottom of the screen door has a large gap, consider installing a door sweep. Available at most any hardware store, this add-on attaches to the bottom of the door to keep out dust and crawly bugs.

After installation, enjoy the easy, breezy nature of your new screen door—and don’t let it hit you on your way out!

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.