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Get the Look: Retro Kitchen

Cheerful colors and nostalgic details lend their charms to these kitchens inspired by the past. Read on to learn how to re-create the look in your own home.

Retro Kitchen

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Today, the popular notion of a “dream kitchen” includes an an all-white color palette, a suite of stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops polished to a glimmering sheen. In years past, however, such a design would most likely have struck homeowners as cold, antiseptic, and uninviting. Indeed, kitchen design philosophy has changed a great deal over the decades. Some of us are old enough to remember, for example, that kitchens used to be colorful! From the flooring to the countertops and curtains, everything seemed to feature an eye-catching hue. Some traditions are best left in the past, of course, but if you’ve been yearning to cook in a space with more personality, in a room that recalls a bygone era, these tips can help you design the retro kitchen of your dreams.

Colors
What’s the best color scheme for a retro kitchen? That depends. You can hark back to the 1950s by channeling the most popular colors of those long-ago days, bold turquoise and red. Or for a look that says “The Sixties,” choose mustard and avocado—colors that some are still trying to forget, not bring back. In the kitchen pictured, designers Kevin Fischer and Charlotte Cooney, of Alice Design/Domestic Arts, chose pale yellow and tomato-red, a combination that recalls the early 20th century; builders Hammer & Hand brought their vision to life. Since there are so many paint colors available today, a great way to narrow the field is to look at pictures of kitchens from the era you’re trying to re-create, and see what strikes your fancy.

Related: 10 Design Essentials for a Retro Kitchen 

Surfaces
Though somewhat quaint-seeming now, surfaces like linoleum flooring and laminate countertops were once considered state-of-the-art. Fortunately, both remain in production and are readily available online or at your local home center. As popular in the past as they are today, simple white tiles are another classic, worthy of consideration no matter time period you’re using as a guide. After all, the goal isn’t to create a perfectly accurate, museum-quality historical reproduction. Rather, it’s to borrow the best from the past in pursuit of a design that, instead of being hopelessly outdated, looks forward as much as it looks back.

Retro Kitchen - Cabinetry

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

Cabinetry
White, ivory, or beige cabinetry works well in most retro kitchens, regardless of the paint colors applied elsewhere in the space. Glass-front cabinets are another option with old-fashioned appeal, made all the more persuasive when filled with colorful china or glassware that dates to the era that the room is trying to evoke. Yet another way to achieve a vintage look is by painting cabinetry to match the room’s overall color scheme.

Hardware
Replacing cabinet knobs and drawer pulls ranks as one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add period detail. While many sources stock new hardware that resembles older designs, some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt, searching for authentic examples in flea markets and architectural salvage yards.

Sink and Faucet
Homeowners are spoiled for choice when it comes to fixtures that mimic yesterday’s styles. For instance, apron-front sinks are enjoying renewed popularity and work superbly in spaces modeled on the early 20th century. In a 1970s-themed kitchen, a stainless steel undermount model pairs nicely with a colorful laminate counter. Faucets, meanwhile, range from those with long, arching necks to boxy designs perfect for kitchens mimicking the postwar period.

Related: 10 Design Essentials for a Retro Kitchen 

Lighting
Most older kitchens sported an overhead light in a style that complemented the room. Depending on the era, that fixture might have been a milk-glass pendant or a sleekly sculptural ceiling light. Some people opt for a reproduction, while others scour salvage shops near and far in pursuit of the genuine article.

Retro Kitchen - Appliances

Photo: Mitchell Snyder Photography

Appliances
To get your hands on period-appropriate appliances, you basically have two options. One is to buy new models whose designs are steeped in nostalgia. The other is to search for refurbished relics. Stoves with porcelain exteriors in white, red, soft blue, or even pink have undeniable appeal, but such treasures can be difficult (or quite costly) to obtain. A compromise would be to choose standard modern appliances with the simplest possible silhouettes.

Accessories
The little things make such a big difference in identifying a space as belonging to this or that time period. A colorful set of dishes or glassware, for instance, can be displayed as a focal point, while vintage tablecloths, curtains, clocks, or telephones (or new designs that resemble older models) further enhance the illusion. On the walls, consider hanging colorful collectibles like fruit-crate labels and recipe booklets, or artwork that dates back to the era that you’ve selected as the inspiration for your retro kitchen.

 


Bob Vila Radio: Repointing Brick

Brick installations last quite a long time, but over the years mortar deteriorates. When that happens, at repointing brick becomes a necessity. Here's how it's done.

Brick is very low maintenance, but age and weather still take their toll. As a result, brick requires occasional repointing—removing and replacing deteriorated mortar. Fortunately, this is a task that a handy homeowner can tackle.

Repointing Brick

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPOINTING BRICK or read the text below:

Working in small sections, use a cold chisel, a handheld grout saw, or a joint raker to tap out the damaged mortar without harming the brick. Remove the mortar to a depth of at least half an inch, then clean up the dust with a broom, brush, or hose. (Be sure to wear a respirator.)

Soak the brick and let it dry overnight. If your house is less than 50 years old, you can probably repoint using standard Portland cement mortar; older brick may require a lime-and-sand mix. Consult a mason if you’re uncertain about the age of your bricks.

Mix the mortar in small batches. Lightly spritz the bricks, pick up some mortar on a large trowel, and work small amounts into the joints using a pointing trowel. Even out the mortar with the flat edge of the trowel and scrape off any mortar you get on the face of the bricks. After an hour or so, use a sturdy wire brush to carefully clean mortar off the brick face. Mist the wall daily for the next few days to help the mortar dry without cracking.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Dual-Flush Toilets

Dual-flush toilets cut down on water use, saving you money while conserving a precious natural resource.

Back in the 1980s, a bright Australian fellow came up with the idea for dual-flush toilets. They’ve been around for awhile.

Dual-Flush Toilets

Photo: amazon.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON DUAL-FLUSH TOILETS or read the text below:

But what you may not know is that many of the newer models have improvements that make some of the orginals seem like Model T’s. For one thing, trapways have been significantly enlarged, and the sides of the bowls made steeper. Dual-flushers also now employ technology that pushes the waste down the trap (instead of washing it down with extra water).

It’s true that dual-flush toilets are often a bit more expensive than conventional models, at least on the front end. But the savings you build up on water use—along with financial incentives some governments offer—are likely to make your wallet happy in the long run.

Before you buy, make sure you compare specs on the units you’re considering. Price doesn’t always mean better performance.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Maintain the Metal in Your Yard

While most homeowners regularly tend to their lawns and landscaping, they often give short shrift to the metal elements in their yard—gates, railings, chairs and tables. Follow our tips for keeping these items clean and rust-free with a little TLC.

Photo: brickmoondesign.com

Enter the yard of most homes in America and somewhere among the trees, shrubs, and grass, you’re bound to find metal. Patio furniture, barbecue grills, handrails, fences, and gates—these are only some of the metal features common to the spaces outside our front doors. Thanks to metal’s well-deserved reputation for durability, we don’t often think about the material’s maintenance requirements. But when it comes to preventing rust—the mortal enemy of metal—homeowners must intervene from time to time to ensure that their outdoor metals keep looking and performing their very best. Follow these simple guidelines to help iron, steel, and other metals enjoy the longest life possible.

Coatings Are Not Superficial
Once precipitation and harsh weather have conspired to compromise and chip away at the coating on metal, then it’s only a matter of time before rust makes an appearance. Choosing your metals wisely is the best prevention. You’ll get the greatest longevity from products that have baked-on enamel or powder-coated surfaces. In comparison to less expensive painted or varnished metal, these coated products are far less vulnerable to peeling and flaking. Although they’re more expensive initially, metal items with superior coatings are worth the cost in the long run because they truly last for years.

Photo: hibbshomes.com

Safeguard Your Furniture
Metal outdoor furniture offers particular challenges. To make your furniture last, get in the habit of keeping up these easy routines:

• What a difference cleanliness makes! At least twice each year, give your metal tables and chairs a thorough once-over. A mixture of warm water and liquid detergent ought to do the trick. Apply the solution with a sponge; grab an old toothbrush to scrub any hard-to-reach areas. Use a hose to rinse away all traces of the detergent, then dry the metal with a rag, or on a good day, leave it to air-dry in the sun.

• Take pains to avoid damaging the metal’s coating. A simple action like clinking two metal surfaces together can chip one or both pieces, and dragging a chair or table leg may result in scrapes that leave the furniture vulnerable to rust. Take precautions. Raise the furniture up from the ground when you’re moving it, and at the end of the season, when you’re storing away your furniture, use old towels to prevent the pieces from hitting each other.

• If you live somewhere with monsoon summers, harsh winters, or other types of severe weather, consider bringing your outdoor metal furniture indoors, whether it’s for short-term shelter whenever a violent storm threatens, or for a season-long hibernation when the temperatures drop. No storage space in your basement, crawl space, or shed? A reasonable alternative is to cover the furniture with a breathable fabric for the duration of the foul weather.

Make Fixes Fast
Despite your best efforts, the metal on your property may begin to show signs of wear. Don’t wait for a small problem to get more serious. When you come across a small patch of rust, thoroughly clean the area (as described above), except work fine-grit sandpaper into the procedure. Lightly sand the rust away, then wipe off all residual grit before touching up the surface. Use metal primer first; once it has dried completely, follow up with a paint that’s specially formulated for metal.

Perform a Rescue Operation
More extensive damage demands more time and effort, and may require refinishing the metal. Here, preparation is key. Before you can begin a refinishing project, you’ve got to get down to bare metal—which is easier said than done. Use a wire brush—or to make quicker, easier work of it, use the wire wheel attachment on your power drill—and proceed to scrape away the old coating. Pay special attention to any crevices or scrolls that may be part of the design. Once you’re done scraping, wipe down the metal with a damp cloth (or hose it off), then wait for everything to dry before you apply metal primer and metal paint.


Too Cool for Summer Give-Away Official Rules

Bob Vila’s “Too Cool for Summer Give-Away” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).  Lennox International, Inc. is not a sponsor of this Sweepstakes.

The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing (the “Drawing”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on July 31st, 2014 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on August 31st, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for the Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on July 31st, 2014 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on August 31st, 2014 (the “Entry Period”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM WILL BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents living in the 48 contiguous United States and Washington D.C. who are over the age of majority in their state of residence.  Void in Hawaii, Alaska, and all other geographic locations. Prize can only be installed in a home owned by winner and located in the 48 contiguous United States or Washington, D.C.  Home must already have central air conditioning with installed duct work.  Employees of Sponsor, Lennox International, Inc. (“Lennox”), and their  respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, authorized dealers, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members (whether or not related) are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submitting your name and email address using the online “Too Cool for Summer Give-Away” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to the Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries within one day will be deemed void.

In the event of a dispute over the identity of an entrant who entered online, the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at entry will be deemed to be the entrant.  The authorized account holder of an email address shall mean the natural person assigned to such account by the Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with such account.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for the Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet Service Provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering the Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for the Drawing determines the odds of winning. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value ) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winner shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. Winner will receive an IRS Form 1099 for the value of the prize and will be required to provide Sponsor with winner’s social security number for purposes of same. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner has twenty-four (24) hours to acknowledge that they have  been chosen to receive the prize after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Winner’s claiming of prize within twenty-four (24) hours is the first step toward prize fulfillment, to be coordinated by the prize provider as set forth in these Official Rules,  after Sponsor has completed verification of Winner’s eligibility. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winner during their entry to the Drawing.

The one (1) prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period consists of up to $10,000 in Lennox cooling or heating equipment (including installation costs). Limit one prize per household. Actual retail value may vary. Winner will not receive the difference between actual and approximate retail value.  Prize may not be redeemed for cash and no substitution of prize is allowed, except by Sponsor in Sponsor’s sole discretion.

Once the winner has been verified by Sponsor as set forth in these Official Rules, Lennox will direct the winner to an authorized Lennox dealer in winner’s area.  Winner will select the desired equipment and arrange for installation directly with the dealer.  There is no guarantee that any specific Lennox system will be available.  Scheduling of installation is subject to availability.  Winner must schedule installation within twelve (12) months of prize award or prize will be forfeited.  Any costs associated with the prize, including, without limitation, installation, in excess of $10,000 are solely the responsibility of winner.  Winner is responsible for taxes on the full value of the prize and will not receive any money from Sponsor for payment of applicable taxes.  Neither Sponsor nor Lennox is responsible for any loss or damage to winner’s property that may result from services performed in connection with the installation of the prize.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize in accordance with the manufacturer’s standard warranty terms, which may or may not include the foregoing warranties. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winner agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. The Winner shall be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor, Lennox,  and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


Bob Vila Radio: Lawn Mower Blade Height

The health of your lawn depends on many factors, including the height at which you set your mower blade to cut.

Whatever type of turf you have in your yard, if you want to keep it looking its best, make sure your mower is set to cut at the right height.

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON MOWER HEIGHT or read the text below:

And what, exactly, is the right height? Well, for starters, try following the ‘rule of one third’. The idea is that you shouldn’t more than one third the length of the grass at any one time.

So, if you have, say, Bermuda grass—which is healthiest when kept a little more than an inch high—cut it back once it starts to edge up toward two inches. For fescue or rye, which do best at two to three inches, you’ll want to set your mower height up a couple of notches.

Raising the height a bit is also a good idea whenever the turf is stressed by heat, drought, bugs or other factors. Keeping your lawn trimmed to the right height not only promotes healthy growth, it also helps keep weeds at bay.

Height adjustment on most mowers is easy. Just check your manual.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Patch Drywall

If you're setting out to patch drywall, whether the problem at hand is a few nail holes or a large gash, these simple tips can help you restore a smooth surface ready for paint.

How to Patch Drywall

Photo: shutterstock.com

Sooner or later, most of us need to patch drywall, whether for purely cosmetic reasons—filling nail holes, for example—or for comfort or safety—say, a hole has left wiring exposed. Although accomplishing the latter requires more materials and a greater investment of time, rest assured that a do-it-yourself solution exists, no matter the scale of the repair. Read on for guidelines for patching drywall in small-, medium-, and large-size projects.

SMALL
Tools and materials:
- Sandpaper
- Spackling paste
- Putty knife

The smaller the hole, the easier it is to patch. Start the process by sanding the area smooth. Next, load a bit of spackling paste onto your putty knife and apply the product directly to the hole. Work in enough of the paste so that it leaves a small mound over the hole, then press the flat side of the knife firmly against the mound in order to flatten it. Finally, swipe the blade in a broad motion across the repaired area, leaving the filled-in hole perfectly level with the finished drywall. Allow the spackling sufficient time to dry. Dry times vary, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for an accurate estimate. Sand lightly when dry.

MEDIUM
Tools and materials:
- Sandpaper
- Putty knife
- Joint compound
- Drywall mesh tape

If you want to patch a somewhat larger hole—an area with a diameter of one or two inches—the process becomes slightly more complicated, if only because it involves a material you might not have on hand: mesh tape. (You can buy mesh tape either as a roll or as a precut square.) After sanding the area to be patched, completely cover it with mesh. This now becomes the base to which you’ll add joint compound, a product that goes on like spackling paste but achieves a stronger result. As you spread the joint compound, pay special attention to the seams where the mesh tape meets the surrounding drywall. Once you can no longer see the tape, use the putty knife to flatten the mounded joint compound, then scrape the surface in wide, smooth side-to-side movements that create an even finish. Finally, allow the joint compound to dry for about eight hours—consult the manufacturer’s directions—before sanding and repainting the wall.

How to Patch Drywall - Large Hole

Photo: shutterstock.com

LARGE
Tools and materials:
- Drywall panel
- Utility knife
- Drywall saw
- Drywall screws
- Screwdriver
- Drywall mesh tape
- Putty knife
- Joint compound
- Sandpaper

A larger patch involves a commensurately greater commitment of time and effort to complete. In fact, the patching process here is not very different from the one that was used to install your drywall in the first place. Begin by using a drywall saw to cut evenly around the problem area. You should be left with a hole that’s rectangular in shape; use a utility knife to clean up the edges, if necessary. If possible—and to do this, you may need to make the hole larger than seems strictly necessary—make your hole big enough to expose one of the wall studs. Failing that, you’ll need to run a wooden member horizontally between the two closest studs. Why? You’re going to fill the hole in the wall with a piece of new drywall, and that piece needs a surface to which it can be securely attached.

Next, use a drywall saw to cut out a section of the drywall panel you’ve procured either from the surplus in your garage or from the aisles of your local home center. Measure and cut carefully, as the piece must fit perfectly into the rectangle you’ve cut in the wall. Once you’re certain that you’ve got a snug fit, use drywall screws to attach the new drywall to the stud (or horizontal member).

With the drywall patch firmly in place, apply mesh tape over all the seams between the patch and the existing drywall. Then load up your putty knife with joint compound and proceed to cover the mesh completely. (Don’t forget to smooth compound over the drywall screws, too.) Use the blade of the putty knife to flatten out the compound in any spots where it’s mounded, then scrape across the seams in wide strokes, either side-to-side or top-to-bottom, depending on the orientation of the mesh. Allow the compound to dry for about eight hours before you begin the final stage: sanding the patched area and repainting the freshly repaired drywall.


What Would Bob Do? Filling Nail Holes

Before you set out to fill nail holes in a hardwood floor, make sure you're using the right product.

How to Fill Nail Holes

Photo: shutterstock.com

I’ve removed some carpet and want to refinish the hardwood floors below. What should I use to fill the holes left by the carpet tack strip and the staples that held the carpet padding?

Floorboards are rarely face-nailed, at least not in modern installations. So these days, the situation you describe—the condition of a floor after the removal of wall-to-wall carpeting—is one of the only times that a homeowner would encounter hardwood flooring riddled with small holes. What’s the best remedy? That depends on whether or not, as part of the refinishing process, you are planning to sand the floor down to bare wood. If yes, then I suggest using wood filler. But if not, I recommend a similar but different product: wood putty. The former hardens and can be sanded. The latter never dries completely and is not intended for sanding; it’s an after-the-fact fix.

How to Fill Nail Holes - Floor Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Wood Filler for Bare Wood
Knead a small amount of stainable latex wood filler before pressing some of the product into each nail hole in turn, using a putty knife or a three-inch trowel. Clean any mislaid filler before it has the chance to harden, but don’t worry if you miss some. There’s no need to be meticulous. After all, you’re going to sand down the entire area. In the case of shallowly applied wood filler, you can begin sanding once the product has dried, somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the depth of the repair. For deeper holes, wood filler takes longer to dry, sometimes as long as 8 or 10 hours. Be advised that the filler may shrink as it dries, making a second, supplemental application necessary. Also, filler doesn’t take stain the same way wood does, so a seamless look may be difficult to achieve.

Wood Putty for Finished Floors
Whereas it doesn’t so much matter which type of wood filler you end up using, when you’re working with wood putty it’s crucial to select the most appropriate product. Here, the goal is to identify a shade of putty that matches as closely as possible the color of your flooring. If you can’t find a putty that looks just like your floor finish, consider mixing two or more putty shades together; the blend may get you closer to the mark than any single shade could have. Simply knead the putties together until they become pliable, then press the product into each nail hole. Be careful to use a tool that won’t scratch the sanded floor—a plastic putty knife is ideal. Don’t worry when the putty doesn’t appear to be drying; it’s actually not supposed to dry. Wipe away the excess with a soft cloth and call it a day.

Tempting though it may be, don’t use plaster-like fillers, such as spackling or joint compound, whether you plan to sand the floor or not. These products dry to a brittle finish and are almost certain to loosen due to floor movement.


Bob Vila Radio: Screen Repair Made Simple

Holes in window or door screens are not only unsightly, but they also invite flying insects into your home. Fortunately, it's a simple fix, whether your screens are metal or fiberglass. Read on to learn how it's done.

Ever notice how pesky bugs manage to find their way through even the tiniest holes in your screens?

How to Fix a Window Screen

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SCREEN REPAIR or read the text below:

No need to fret. Repairing the little holes is easy, especially if you catch them before they grow into big holes.

For metal screens, make a patch (using the same screening material) that’s about an inch larger than the hole. Next, unravel about a half inch of fringe around the edge of the patch and bend it at a right angle. Place the patch on the hole, push through the fringe wires, then bend them back to secure the patch.

For fiberglass screens, push the fibers of the screen back toward the middle of the hole, then apply a bit of clear nail polish to bond the fibers together.

For larger holes, head to the hardware store and pick up a self-adhesive patch that’s a snap to apply.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


5 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Roof

According to GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer, your roof can contribute 40 percent or more to the look of your home. Choose wisely and you'll create something that not only protects your home for the long-term, but immediately enhances its overall beauty and style.

Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Your Home

Photo: GAF Sienna Shingles in Habor Mist

Every homeowner knows that a sound roof is an absolute must to protect your investment. That’s why routine roof maintenance—from cleaning out gutters to checking for missing shingles and leaks in the attic—is so important.

In general, roofs last between 15-20 years depending on the original materials used. So, if yours is approaching that age, it might not be a bad idea to have a professional roofer conduct an evaluation. If the inspection indicates a new roof is in order, you’ll have one of two options: installing the new roof directly over the old, or replacing it entirely.  In either case, you’ll have the opportunity to redefine and reinforce your home.

MATERIAL
While roofing is available in a wide variety of materials including wood, metal, tile and slate, far and away the most popular choice for homeowners is asphalt shingles. Today’s relatively lightweight and flexible shingles are typically made from a fiberglass mat, covered in asphalt and colored with mineral granules.  With manufacturing innovations that include everything from superior-strength Micro Weave™ Core construction to granules that lock in color and provide valuable UV protection against the sun’s damaging rays, you won’t have any trouble finding a good-looking, high-performing asphalt shingle to suit your home and budget.

Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Your Home - Timberline Shingles

Photo: GAF Timberline American Harvest Shingles in Nantucket Morning

STYLE
Although driveways, lawns, siding and front doors get most of the attention when we think about curb appeal, the roof actually contributes mightily to the look of a house.  If you are considering a new roof, look for the shingle that best suits your home’s architectural style. You’ll also want to factor in the surface area, pitch and angle of the roof to determine whether a standard three-tab, dimensional or artisan-crafted shingle will deliver the look you want.

As you’ll discover, it’s no longer about choosing a standard square shape in a few different shades. Asphalt shingle products have evolved into a wide variety of patterns and colors so that your roof can truly elevate the appeal and longevity of your home.

One of the more interesting style choices today is Sienna® because the shingles are cut in a classic, old-world diamond shape. Part of GAF’s Value Collection, they carry a Class A fire-rating and feature unique Diamond Cut™ granules that reflect light, adding more depth to each shingle.

COLOR
Like style, color is also an important consideration when choosing a new roof.  Selecting a coloration that compliments your home’s exterior palette and surroundings will create a harmonious and elegant look. In general, if a large portion of your home’s roof is visible from the street, you might want to keep things subdued, as larger roofs look better in neutral tones. Also, avoid using a heavily patterned roof on a home that has brick or stone facing to keep things from getting too busy.

The palette for the Timberline® American Harvest™ line was designed specifically to complement a home’s exterior color scheme. Created exclusively for GAF by color-industry expert, Patricia Verlodt, the shingles feature subtle blends of contrasting colors that add an unexpected depth and beauty to the roof.

Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Your Home - Grand Sequoia

Photo: GAF Grand Sequoia in Weathered Wood

DURABILITY
You’ll want to make certain that the roof you choose stands up to the elements and provides lasting beauty over the course of its lifetime.  One way to be sure—shop quality and brand.  When you install a GAF Advanced Protection Shingle, you are getting the very best combination of weight and performance that modern technology and testing can deliver.  With over 185 individual tests, GAF is the first manufacturer who can say all its shingles pass the AC438 requirements for long-term durability, wind-driven rain performance, and long-term extreme temperature resistance.

In addition to the shingle’s durability, you’ll want to check the manufacturer’s warranty. GAF offers a Lifetime Limited Warranty (that includes wind damage coverage of up to 130 MPH speeds*) on many of its premium products.  Since the warranty is transferable to the next owner, the roof can become a desirable selling feature to prospective buyers.

PRICE
Without a doubt, asphalt shingles are the most affordable and arguably the least maintenance-intensive option of covering your home’s roof.

Among these types of shingle you’ll pay more for extended lifespans, more robust warranties, and unique patterns and finishes—but not always much more. Case in point: Woodland® Shingles from GAF. Designed to imitate the look of hand-cut European shingles, they cost only pennies-a-day more than standard architectural shingles.

Thanks to web tools, like Virtual Home Remodeler, you can now test out which shingle best suits your house. Simply choose the style of your home—or upload a picture of your actual house—and try out different roofing products to find the one that fits the look you’re trying to achieve.

*Maximum wind coverage requires special installation. See Limited Warranty for complete coverage and restrictions.

This post has been paid for by GAF. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.