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- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Cut Glass
If the very thought of cutting glass makes you cringe, perhaps it’s because you remember a painful occasion when glass cut you. Yet while caution is required, cutting a piece of glass—to, say, replace a broken window, frame a picture, or top a table—is literally a snap to DIY. And it can certainly save cash: Hiring a handyman or professional window installer to replace a pane can cost upwards of $100.
The essential tool at play in your project is a glass cutter, though its name is somewhat misleading. This inexpensive, pencil-sized implement with a carbide- or diamond-tipped wheel in its head scores, rather than slices through, the surface. Once that’s done, you simply snap the pane along the straight line. A beginner with any fears about the process should wear goggles (in the unlikely event of flying shards) and work gloves for protection (keeping in mind that thicker gloves could impair dexterity). It’s also smart to practice on scrap glass till you get the hang of it, but soon you’ll be custom-fitting panes like a pro!
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Glass pane
- Glass cutter
- Work gloves (recommended for beginners)
- Safety goggles (recommended for beginners)
- Solvent or glass cleaner
- Cutting oil
- Framing square, ruler, or tape measure
- Marking pencil
- Square-jaw pliers
- Sandpaper or sharpening stone
First, get your glass squeaky clean. Dirt or grime will interfere with the cutter’s operation, resulting in an uneven edge. Using glass cleaner or solvent, thoroughly wipe down both sides of the pane. Make sure the wheel of the cutter is clean as well, by dabbing a bit of lubricating cutting oil on the tip with a rag.
For best results, prepare a clean, flat, layered surface on which to cut the glass. A plywood or a similarly resilient work table is best, cushioned with a few sheets of butcher paper, newspaper, or fabric, smoothed to eliminate bumps.
Place the glass on your prepped surface and use a framing square, ruler, or tape measure to measure it to the required dimensions.
When cutting windows of identical size—such as double-paned windows—you can use a cut pane instead of the framing square to measure the second window.
To measure a replacement pane for a window frame, remove about ¼ inch from the length and width of the frame’s opening so the glass fits well once glazing is added to its edges. Mark the score line with a marking pencil if you want a visual guide, but it’s not necessary to mark more than starting and stopping points for simple, straight cuts; a straightedge works as a scoring guide.
Score! If you plan on wearing goggles and gloves, gear up now. To score the glass, place the straightedge along the line or marks you made. If the straightedge feels slippery, put a piece of masking tape on the underside to improve its stability. Dab a drop of cutting oil on the cutter wheel, and place the side of the tool against the straightedge at the far end of the cut line. Pull the tool toward you, using moderate force in one smooth glide. If you hear a ripping sound, you’ve got the pressure just right; if it sounds like there’s grit on the glass, easy up. Keep going in one single motion until you reach the end. Retracing the score mark increases the likelihood of ragged edges and a bad break.
Remove the straightedge and lift the glass. Lay a long dowel directly under the score line and place one palm on either side of the mark. Press firmly to snap the glass in two.
The edge of the glass will be sharp! Trim residual slivers or chips with square-jaw pliers if your glass cutter’s head doesn’t have nibbling slots. If using pliers, put cloth or cardboard scraps between the glass and the plier jaws to pad the glass. Use fine-grit sandpaper or a sharpening stone to dull the edge and make the pane safer to handle.
Your next move is perfectly clear: Time to place the glass you’ve cut and cross one more household repair from your to-do list.
- Roofing & Siding >
- 3 Hidden Benefits of Installing a New Roof
3 Hidden Benefits of Installing a New Roof
Sure, a new roof will protect your home from the elements, but what other benefits can you expect from this major home improvement project? A new roof can do much more for your home than keep out the rain—as long as the job is done right.
Do you dread the prospect of replacing your roof? You’re not alone. It’s an intimidating project for almost any homeowner, in part because it’s tackled so rarely in the life of a house. Indeed, the average roof can last for decades, so homeowners typically reroof no more than once during their tenure. Plus, the cost is daunting: Roof replacement calls for a substantial investment, enough to make any budget-conscious homeowner hesitate. As well, if another, perhaps more exciting home improvement project looms on your horizon—say, a kitchen remodel—you may not be keen to put dollars toward something as utilitarian as a new roof. That said, while the project certainly lacks flash, roof replacement stands out as one of the most critical steps you can take toward safeguarding the structural integrity of your home. Don’t be mistaken, though: A sturdy, sound roof does much more than simply keep out the weather. In fact, it delivers a suite of less obvious, all-too-often overlooked benefits, both immediate and long-term. “A newly roofed house simply performs better,” says Dave Lincon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. So, what are the benefits of a new roof beyond protection from the elements? Find out now.
Enhanced Energy Efficiency
Shingles are shingles, right? Though it may seem that way, scores of new options have arrived on the market, thanks to major advances in design and manufacturing. Today, according to Lincon of Sears Home Services, “The most innovative shingles deliver on the promise of limiting solar heat gain.” In other words, by reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it, the latest, most energy-wise shingles help keep your HVAC system from having to work so hard. If the air-conditioning system doesn’t need to run as much, then it doesn’t have to cost as much either—simple. To that end, Lincon advises, “Focus your search on shingles that carry an Energy Star rating.” Sears offers a number of shingles that have earned the Energy Star designation for their ability to reduce cooling demand and help homeowners save. But as you think about energy efficiency and indoor comfort, “don’t forget about ventilation!” Lincoln warns. As part of any roof replacement, competent installers like those of Sears Home Services assess the attic to confirm that rising warm air can easily escape. In addition, Sears offers attic insulation and radiant barrier installation to help ensure that your energy costs don’t go through the roof.
Killer Curb Appeal
According to Lincon, relatively few homeowners appreciate that a sturdy, weathertight roof can not only prevent extensive, expensive water damage, but also lend a boost to the appearance of your home. Different homes feature different rooflines, of course, but as Lincon points out, “there aren’t many properties whose roofs cannot be seen at all from the street.” In fact, the roof often ranks among the most visible components of a home’s exterior. “Those cracked, curled, or missing shingles aren’t doing you any favors,” Lincon says. For a roof that looks the worse for wear, reroofing can actually present a valuable opportunity. “If you have the help you need to make the right choices,” Lincon continues, “a new roof can work wonders to promote curb appeal.” An advantage of working with Sears Home Services: The company guides you through the entire roof replacement process, all the way from deciding on materials through to the final day of installation. Sears experts can even help you decide which style and color of shingle will best complement your house. In the end, you get a new roof that not only performs exceptionally well, but looks great.
Higher Resale Value
Homeowners aren’t the only ones who know that roof replacement comes at a premium. House hunters know too. That’s why many prospective buyers walk away from homes that would soon be in need of an expensive new roof. If you’re a home seller, however, the same equation can work to your advantage, particularly if you recognize that, as Lincon puts it, “reroofing isn’t a sunk cost.” That is, the upgrade doesn’t simply take a bite out of your bottom line. On the contrary, it often adds a considerable amount to the resale value of your home. Lincon estimates that upon resale, homeowners typically recoup more than half the amount invested in a new roof. Despite that, Lincon says, “anxiety always enters into the picture when there are thousands of dollars in play.” Making the situation even more stressful are the horror stories that everyone has heard of fly-by-night crews that botched an installation, or perhaps failed to finish the job they were contracted to complete. A new roof is a big investment: Don’t make the mistake of settling for the first roofing company you run across. The quality of your roof replacement depends largely on the contractors you choose for the job. So, which company will you trust to put a roof over your head?
Sears Home Services demonstrates its commitment to your roofing project in many ways. For starters, the company installs only best-in-class shingles from Owens Corning, a manufacturer whose products carry a 50-year guarantee of problem-free performance (view details). To be sure, that means a great deal for a homeowner’s peace of mind, Lincon says, but he quickly points out that if a new roof ends up experiencing problems, faulty shingles are rarely the cause. “Much more often, the installers are to blame,” he says. Here, Sears stands out from most local roofers, because as a national provider with a firmly established, decades-old reputation, the company provides a limited warranty on labor (view details) in addition to a Satisfaction Guarantee. Wth Sears in your corner, you can expect more than the usual. You can, of course, expect the job to get done on time and on budget, but equally important, you can also expect the company to continue providing customer service long after the completed installation. Don’t know where to begin? To learn more about your roofing options, call or go online to schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services right away!
This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Walls & Ceilings >
- How To: Remove Baseboard
How To: Remove Baseboard
Try a new way of taking off existing floor molding without damaging it—or your walls. Armed with this innovative tool and a novel technique, you'll make fast, clean, and easy work of the task.
Whether you’re planning on replacing a floor or simply wanting to change up the style of trim in a room, your project to-do list will likely start with removal of the baseboard, that strip of wood or plastic that covers the joint between the walls and floor, as well as any shoe molding that may be present. Particularly if you want to save money by reusing the same baseboard over a new floor, it’s important to free the trim without damaging it—and without scratching, denting, or gouging the walls. At one time, achieving such precision required a number of outmoded tools, hard work, lots of patience, and extra time and money spent repairing holes and replacing damaged trim. Now, with the help of an impressively simple new tool called the Trim Puller, obtaining a pro-quality job is a total snap, saving you time and money along the way.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 6-inch utility knife
- Caulk remover (optional)
- Trim Puller
- Hammer or mallet
- Side-cutting pliers (optional)
Examine the baseboards and determine the type of wall paint used in the room. Latex paint creates a seal between trim and walls, so if that’s what was used, take a 6-inch utility knife (or, in a pinch, a 5-in-1 painter’s tool) and carefully score along the length of the seam where the baseboard meets the wall so that you avoid pulling off any wall color.
Tip: If you notice caulking along the top edge of the baseboard, apply caulk remover to the seam before scoring.
Loosen the pins or finishing nails that hold the baseboard to the walls. In the past, this task involved inserting a putty knife between the baseboard and the wall and giving it a twist. Now, you can instead enlist the Trim Puller, an ergonomic new tool that incorporates a 15-degree center wedge that’s designed for easy, efficient extraction, just perfect for this delicate process.
Starting at one end of the strip of baseboard, position the Trim Puller’s front face against the wall with the sharp edge on the scored seam. Next, strike the top of the Trim Puller with a hammer or mallet, driving the device between the baseboard and the wall. You will notice that the integrated center wedge automatically begins separating the baseboard from the wall, minimizing the work and speeding the process along. The Trim Puller’s comfortable EPDM rubber handle absorbs the impact vibration of the hammer, making the job pain-free!
Once you’ve wedged the Trim Puller between the trim and the wall, gently twist or pull to slightly separate the two. Continue along the wall in 12-inch increments, increasing the gap as you move toward the end of the wall until the baseboard is free.
If you’ve ever damaged trim, wall, or flooring while using a chunky, clunky crowbar or pry bar to remove baseboard, or sweated to insert a shim just right to keep those dings and dents at bay, you’ll really appreciate the ease and efficiency of the Trim Puller. It features a larger, flatter, and wider contact area than offered by older tools used for removing trim, and it boasts three contact points instead of one to make the job quicker and cleaner.
Voilà! Three simple steps later, your walls will be in fine shape, and the freed-up baseboard—once you get rid of any remaining pins or finishing nails with the claw end of a hammer or side-cutting pliers—will be ready for reuse so you can wrap up your weekend project.
This post has been brought to you by Zenith Industries. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Doors & Windows >
- How To: Remove and Replace a Doorknob
How To: Remove and Replace a Doorknob
Hidden screws may make this task seem mysterious. The right tools—and this guide—turn it into a simple matter.
We think of a doorknob as ubiquitous and mundane, yet a closer inspection can sometimes prove puzzling, leaving you to wonder, Where are the screws that hold it in place? They’re there, all right, if not outright visible then hidden beneath the cosmetic collar known as the “rose.” Removing and replacing the knob requires you to reach these screws without damaging the door.
But before you can tackle the easy-enough-to-DIY chore, first understand the types of doorknobs on the market: Most modern, standard-issue doorknobs are sold as a lockset, complete with all necessary hardware—knob, rose, spindle, latch (also called a striker), and latch plate. Some of these knobs have recessed hex-head screws, reachable with a compatible Allen wrench. Others have a thin hole through which you insert a firm wire (a straightened-out paper clip is perfect) to press on a spring-activated pin called a detent; this releases the knob from the spindle or shaft that connects both knobs through the latch assembly. On still other knobs, the detent access hole is actually a slot; use a thin, flat-head screwdriver to reach the detent with this type. Determining which category your existing knob falls into will dictate the best way to remove and replace it for a more updated style.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Allen wrench
- Paper clip or firm wire
- Small flat-head screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- New lockset
Know your knob. Examine the lock side of the doorknob, looking for a tiny slot or hole; these are the detent access holes. Don’t see it? Check instead for a recessed screw that you’ll loosen with an Allen wrench of the appropriate size.
Now, to how you go about releasing the knob depends on how it’s fastened.
• If you find a slot, insert the flat-head screwdriver and push the detent to release the knob.
• If you find a small hole, use a straightened paperclip or other firm wire to spring it.
• If dealing with a recessed hex-head screw, turn it counterclockwise with an Allen wrench until the knob is free.
Remove the rose. In some cases, the rose must be removed separately in order to expose the screws that hold the backing plate to the door. If that’s the case, locate the thin slot in the seam between the plate and door, insert the tip of a flat-head screwdriver, and pop off the rose.
Then, unscrew the works. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws that run from one backing plate to its opposite through the bore hole. These screws hold the entire knob and latch assembly together. Remove the old knobs, backing plates, latch, and spindle.
Replace the latch plate, the piece of metal attached to the door jamb through which the latch passes when the door is completely closed (also called a strike plate). Even if it looks fine, you’ll need to remove and replace it, using a Phillips screwdriver, to ensure compatibility with the new knob hardware.
Install the new latch, ensuring that the curved side of the striker faces the same way the original one did so the door latches properly.
Set the new knob in place, starting from the outside, or locking side, of the door. (The rose might be part of the knob assembly, or it might need to be installed separately, before the knob itself.) Repeat on the inside knob. Position the spindle and mounting screws through the latch assembly from the outside and into the base of the opposite knob. Tighten all screws using a Phillips head screwdriver. Slide the knob on the end of the spindle and turn it until the detent clicks into alignment with the access slot or hole. Tighten recessed screws with the Allen wrench if necessary.
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Your brand new doorknob, looking great and functioning smoothly.
- Major Systems >
- The Window AC Alternative You Need to Know About
The Window AC Alternative You Need to Know About
Are you tired of heaving that heavy old window unit into position every summer? Are you sick of the loud thrumming, endless cycling, and spiking electricity bills? Maybe it's time to switch to a technology that offers efficient, quiet, all-season comfort.
It’s the time of year when, if you listen carefully, you can practically hear the sighs of homeowners again facing the prospect of a sizzling summer with relief provided by nothing more than a window air conditioner. Make no mistake: Under certain circumstances, there’s no more sensible option. Because they’re portable and relatively easy to install, window units are perhaps the best temporary cooling solution available. But when viewed over the long haul, window ACs become much less attractive. For one thing, they are expensive to operate. Sure, there’s no beating the low up-front purchase price, but when they’re used frequently, even the latest energy-smart models run up the utility bill. In addition, window units obstruct the view to the outdoors and block natural light from entering the home. They are noisy, too, and on the ground floor at least can pose a security risk. And then there’s that annual ritual of dragging them out of storage, hoisting them into position, securing them safely into the window—and then, come fall, repeating the process in reverse. The list goes on. No wonder so many homeowners seek a different approach.
Increasingly, fed-up homeowners are embracing mini-splits like the iSeries, a new offering from category leader Unico. Already well established in Europe, Asia, and parts of the United States, mini-split technology offers perhaps the best alternative to window ACs, not least because of the system’s compact, streamlined design. In contrast with extensive, elaborate setups that hog space and require renovation for installation, the iSeries consists of just two discrete components. One goes outdoors and the other is mounted on the wall in the room you want to cool. The two units are connected by twin refrigerant tubes small enough to fit through a narrow hole in the exterior of the home. As it’s so unobtrusive, the completely ductless iSeries installs with remarkable ease, usually within a single day. Impressive as that may be, the typical homeowner appreciates the system’s other benefits even more—its exceptional energy efficiency, its top-flight performance, and its versatility.
The Unico iSeries helps minimize utility bills by sidestepping at least two of the most energy-hungry aspects of traditional HVAC. For starters, mini-splits involve zero ductwork. That’s critical, because ducts are notoriously leaky, often losing enough energy to compromise the efficiency of the overall system by a whopping 25 percent or more. Therefore, simply by virtue of being ductless, the iSeries wastes less energy (and fewer dollars). Plus, instead of turning on and off, over and over, in a cycle that drives up operating costs, the iSeries saves by running continuously at a low power level. You hear it time and time again: Cooling costs a small fortune. But thanks to systems like the iSeries, that no longer needs to be the case.
To be sure, there are many compelling reasons for a budget-conscious homeowner to remove the window AC and put in a mini-split like the Unico iSeries. Ultimately, the iSeries appeals not only because it’s efficient, but because it combines efficiency with stand-out performance. When you spend time in a room cooled by a window AC, you’ll notice that the farther you move from the unit, the less comfortable you feel. The iSeries, in contrast, maintains a uniform temperature thanks to two of the system’s features. First, because the high-wall unit mounts within the conditioned space, it can monitor the ambient temperature and automatically adjust its output to match the demand at any given time. Second, thanks to an integral fan that promotes even air distribution, hot and cool spots are eliminated. One final key point: Whereas window units are known to make a racket, the iSeries generates no more than 23 decibels of sound in the course of operation. What does that mean? It’s as quiet as a whisper.
A single window AC can cool only one room, but the iSeries can do a whole lot more. Certainly, you can use the Unico mini-split to cool one designated space, but you can also employ the technology for whole-home climate control. Configurations vary, but fundamentally, with multiple indoor units working in concert with one or more outdoor inverters, you can extend the efficiency and performance of the iSeries to any number of “zones” within your home. Whether a zone comprises one room or an entire floor, it can be controlled independently from the others. That way, you can target climate control to certain areas so you don’t end up paying for the energy consumed to cool unoccupied spaces—something homeowners with central air often must do. Likewise, if one family member likes things a bit cooler, you can set the thermostat down a couple of degrees in the zone that includes his or her bedroom, while keeping the temperature higher in the rest of the house. In other words, zoning gives you a fine degree of control.
As if all these features weren’t enough, the impressively versatile Unico iSeries has one more trick up its sleeve: It offers both cooling and heating. To cool a space, the technology pulls heat from the home and expels it outside. For heating, the system operates in reverse, drawing heat from the air surrounding the home (even at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit) and sending it indoors. This capability makes the iSeries an especially wise choice for cooling spaces in the summer that also tend to feel too chilly in the winter. Just think—one system can keep you comfortable not only at the peak of summer, but year-round!
This article has been brought to you by Unico System. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Lawn & Garden >
- Solved! What To Do About Mushrooms in the Lawn
Solved! What To Do About Mushrooms in the Lawn
Clear up a recurring cluster of mushrooms out in the yard with one of these three lawn care strategies.
Q: After every rain shower, I find mushrooms popping up all over the lawn. What can I do to get rid of them and keep them from growing back?
A: You’re not alone in the fight against fungi: Lawn mushrooms are a fairly common landscaping problem, particularly in locations with high moisture and low light. Fortunately, those that pop up in your lawn from time to time tend to be harmless, and sometimes beneficial. They break down organic material in the lawn, deposit nutrients into the soil, and help your soil retain water with their pervasive root systems. But if you don’t like the looks of them—or if you have children or pets who you think may nibble—you can manage them. Most are fairly easy to eradicate; even a persistent recurring cluster can be eliminated, though it may require a more labor-intensive solution.
Remove each mushroom at its base. You can pull them individually by hand, cut each with a knife, or simply mow over the whole lot with the lawnmower. Be sure to remove them as soon as you see them sprout, though, otherwise they’ll have just enough time to release spores to plant and grow new mushrooms. For the same reason, you don’t want to dispose of them in your compost. Instead, throw them into a plastic bag and tie it tightly before discarding it in the trash. If you choose to mow mushrooms over, pick the pieces up and discard them into a bag immediately.
Reduce excessive moisture and shade in your lawn. Fungus occurs naturally beneath the grass more often than you see mushrooms; those toadstools don’t become visible among blades of grass until conditions are favorable—that is, damp and dark. To make your yard less attractive to these eyesores, first improve its drainage with the help of a lawn aerator. Available to buy or rent, this lawn and garden tool pulls narrow, cylindrical plugs of soil out of the grass every couple inches, allowing better air circulation and drainage. Adjusting your usual lawn care routine can also keep your grass drier; water less frequently (only 1 inch of water per week) and mow more regularly, as short grass dries out more quickly than long grass. Still see mushrooms cropping up in a shady corner of your property? Trim and/or thin nearby tree branches so that more light can reach the lawn, thus making the environment less agreeable for mushroom growth.
Clear out any organic material. Fungi feed on decomposing organic matter, from dead tree roots to grass clippings. Discourage it from sticking around after you’ve removed the spore-bearing mushrooms by reducing its food source. Start by catching grass clippings whenever you mow rather than leaving them on the lawn, and use a rake periodically to dethatch your lawn in the areas where you see mushrooms. If the fungi are feeding on organic material submerged in the soil—like dead tree roots, old mulch, or wood that was discarded during home construction—you’ll need to dig that out as well to stop the constant upcrop of mushrooms. Your best shot at a complete removal is to dig the soil out beyond the affected area, 12 to 18 inches deep and about 2 feet outside of the mushroom cluster. If you think it’s more work than it’s worth, not to worry: Once the fungi have devoured all of that submerged organic material, it—and the mushrooms—will disappear for good.
- Lawn & Garden >
- Buyer’s Guide: Lawn Sprinklers
Buyer’s Guide: Lawn Sprinklers
Think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? You might need to invest in a better sprinkler. Check out our suggestions to help you keep up with the Joneses.
While your yard may take its fair share of work to maintain and manicure, it can actually be pretty easy to keep it from browning. The key to a lush green lawn is selecting and investing in a reliable lawn sprinkler. Hook nearly any of today’s models up to your garden hose or water main, in the case of underground systems, and the bulk of your work is done—the most effort required on your part might be moving the sprinkler across your lawn. Here, we’ve got the break-down of the wide variety of models on the market to determine which type of lawn sprinkler is best for you and your property. Once you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for, take a stroll through several high-ranking recommendations that will keep things greener on your side of the fence—not the other side.
Know your sprinkler types. Generally speaking, lawn sprinklers fall into six categories, ranging from immobile to actually roaming in order to cover the full property. Consider the size and style of your lawn, the climate you live in, and how much water you want to conserve as you decide which type of system best meets your specific needs. Here’s a cheat sheet:
• Fixed or stationary sprinklers vary in design and reach, but each connects to your hose and sprays water in the same pattern over the same area until moved. Typically only able to cover a radius of 5 to 15 feet at a time, this type is best for small yards and gardens.
• Oscillating sprinklers use a row of multiple openings to disperse water in a semicircular spray. The sprinkler head—as well as the resulting fan of water—then moves from side to side, so your irrigation covers a larger area than most stationary models.
• Rotating (or rotary) and impact sprinklers both spin 360 degrees as they release water. The former typically has two or more arms that spin, while the latter (sometimes known as an impulse or pulsating sprinkler) spews water from a single jet, clicking as it turns its full rotation. These impact sprinklers often boast the largest range of water distribution.
• Sprinkler hoses are, as they sound, essentially rubber hoses with small perforations lined along the top that emit a controlled spray. The length and flexibility of these models work perfectly to water long, narrow, and even irregularly curved patches of grass since they stretch out over your property like a vine.
• Travelers or traveling sprinklers roll through your yard (garden hose in tow) in a programmed pattern, kind of like a miniature lawnmower—except, of course, watering your grass rather than cutting it.
• In-ground sprinkler systems take the guesswork out of watering your yard by operating on a set schedule. While there’s more effort upfront to map out, dig up your property, and connect a new system to your water main, the strategically placed sprinkler heads can be programmed to emerge from the ground and water the lawn at preset times.
Timing is everything. With water restrictions in place all over the West Coast and conservation an all-around hot topic, at-home irrigation can require extensive planning—and a trusty alarm clock—to keep personal water usage in check without drying out your property. Luckily, plenty of popular lawn sprinklers come equipped with features to make sure your thirsty lawn gets just the right amount of refreshment. Perhaps the most hands-off approach to watering, automatic timers on in-ground sprinkler systems allow you to schedule exact watering plans (when, where, and how much water) in advance. For above-ground sprinklers, the most comparable features to look for include flow timers, which monitor and limit the amount of water you use to irrigate your lawn per minute, and the auto-shutoff on traveling sprinklers, which ensures that your mobile unit stops watering after completion of its pattern. By selecting a model with one or more of these features, you can more closely control your water usage—and some time you might otherwise spend worrying about when to turn these lawn sprinklers on and off.
HEDGE YOUR BETS
After thoroughly comparing lawn sprinkler reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly-rated models available today to help you find one that fits your home’s needs and wallet’s budget. Check out the best lawn sprinklers for greener grass this summer:
Gardena ZoomMaxx Oscillating Sprinkler on Weighted Sled Base ($56)
Extensive research conducted by the team at The Sweethome led them to name this oscillating Gardena model as best lawn sprinkler for its highly desirable combination of durability and versatility. “No other model could water such a wide range of yard sizes and shapes with such a consistent amount of water at different distances and settings,” the web team determined; given its ability to maintain a consistent flow with no dry spots or flood risks at 1-, 5-, 10-, 15- and 25-foot ranges, the proof seems to be in the perimeters. Available on Amazon.
Rain Bird Easy-to-Install In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System ($129)
If you’re interested in an in-ground system that you can “set and forget,” you may want to check out the easy-installation model garnering the highest customer satisfaction ratings out of all its peers available at The Home Depot. The manufacturer’s first professional-grade system designed for homeowner installation includes six high-efficiency, 360-degree rotary sprinkler heads and attaches to an outdoor faucet rather than a water main valve for installation in five steps, or a single afternoon! Available at The Home Depot.
Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler ($50)
Send this classic yellow tractor on a mission to irrigate any and all parts of your lawn with its easy-to-guide path throughout your property using its hose as a track. The traveler moves at one of three speeds across your lawn, up and down hills, and covers up to 13,500 square feet with water thanks to its two adjustable sprinkler arms. With the ability to automatically shut off wherever you specify along its track, this traveling sprinkler proves to be the next best option to a full-fledged, in-ground system. Available at Amazon.
See? No matter what the song says, it is easy being green. Happy watering!
- Tools & Workshop >
- Cool Tools: Get a Mess-Free Bead of Caulk Every Time
Cool Tools: Get a Mess-Free Bead of Caulk Every Time
Has worn-out caulk around the tile, tub, or sink left you—and your home—feeling exposed? Remove and reapply caulk with ease using this dynamic duo from Hyde Tools!
Whether you’re filling cracks along the kitchen sink or closing up gaps around a drafty window frame, you can count on caulk to seal the deal. But despite its prowess in shutting out air- and waterborne intruders, such as dust, mold, and mildew, the filler is also notoriously difficult to remove without leaving behind unsightly residue, and apply without creating messy lines. The next time you find yourself in this sticky situation, don’t waste time with those traditional caulk scrapers and finishing tools that can damage the underlying surface or leave you with less-than-perfect results. There is an easier way to achieve a clean finish, and it’ll set you back just 5 bucks. We’re talking about the Caulk-Away™ and Caulk-Rite™ tools from HYDE, sold together in one convenient package.
Easy, Damage-Free Caulk Removal
One of the most important tenets of applying caulk is that new caulk does not adhere well to old caulk. This means it’s an absolute must to completely strip surfaces of old sealant before applying fresh caulk. In the past, you may have risked harming your tile, window frame, or countertop by chipping away at the old bead with traditional metal caulk scrapers, or filled your home with fumes from chemical caulk removers. The gentle, all-plastic Caulk-Away™ tool lets handy homeowners breathe easy. They can forgo chemical removers, instead accomplishing the job with a razor-sharp tool that will leave sensitive surfaces—even tile, marble, or glass—unscathed while still removing silicone, latex, or acrylic caulk with ease.
Simply position the scraping hook of the Caulk-Away™ tool against the old caulk, and loosen it using a push-pull motion. Then, flip the tool around so that the central blade slips underneath the bead of caulk and cleanly lift off the sealant—no solvent required. The flexible wings flanking the blade let the tool act as a putty knife, allowing you to get at even hard-to-reach corners or grooves around tiles, fixtures, plumbing, and pipes as well as the caulking around showers, tubs, sinks, windows, doors, and other fixtures—both indoors and out.
Fast, Professional-Quality Application
With your tub—and your hands—free of caulk and no worse for wear, you can recaulk surfaces in a jiffy too. First, apply silicone, latex, or acrylic caulk to the surface via a caulking gun or squeeze tube, just as you usually do, but then swap your old ways of smoothing with a spoon (or, even messier, your finger!) for a more precise method. The second component of this caulking kit, the Caulk-Rite™ application tool, rapidly creates an air- and watertight seal for you, without marring or contaminating the uncured caulk.
Like its counterpart and unlike its metal-tipped competitors, the plastic Caulk-Rite™’ applicator won’t scrape the enamel from surrounding surfaces. By gently gliding the tip over the fresh bead, you’ll achieve a perfectly distributed bead of caulk without residue, edge marks, or splitting, and you won’t end up wasting time redoing your work. When you’ve wrapped up your professional-looking job, go ahead and clean up, free from worries that your freshly applied caulk will split or come loose—just be sure not to wash up in a sink you’ve just caulked until the sealant has cured!
Purchase the Caulk-Away™ and Caulk-Rite™ Combo Pack from HYDE at Home Depot, $4.97
This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Green >
- Pet Hair Everywhere? Finally, a Versatile Solution
Pet Hair Everywhere? Finally, a Versatile Solution
Here's an innovative solution to a problem that's been frustrating homeowners for years—pet hair. If you're sick and tired of vacuuming, then keep reading for all the details on the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System.
Does it only take strangers a quick glance to know there’s a Fluffy or Fido in your life? Indeed, the loose strands of fur on all your clothing may tell the world that you’re a pet owner, but you’ve still got a dirty secret: No matter how much pet hair may be on your coat, there’s plenty more back at home. Especially during the winter, when cats and dogs spend so much time indoors, it can sometimes feel like you’re suffocating beneath a blanket of fur, with everything from the floors to the furniture virtually covered. Brush and fluff all you want, but despite your best efforts, it can still be easy to conclude that you’re fighting a losing battle.
Since adopting a border collie mix puppy, now seven years old, we’ve grown accustomed to a cleaning schedule that basically hinges on the shedding tendencies of our Shayna. Always productive but never perfect, the routine involves exhausting, seemingly constant vacuuming. Coming off the long winter last year, hoping to seize command of the situation, I resolved to be more proactive. Rather than sit and wait for hair to accumulate, I would tackle the problem at the source—Shayna herself (specifically, her dense undercoat). My plan? For once, I would follow the advice that, for a good reason, I had mostly ignored until now.
It’s no secret that to conquer a pet hair problem, it’s critically important to de-shed your cat or dog in a contained, controlled way, removing the hair from your home before it has the chance to go where it’s not wanted. Shayna gets a haircut a few times per year, at those times when her fur becomes unruly. Beyond that, though, we pretty much leave her coat alone, simply because Shayna hates to be poked and prodded with such things as combs and hand rakes. That’s why I was delighted to discover a line of grooming tools designed to be comfortable for your pet—the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System, available at PetSmart locations nationwide.
FURminator® FURflex™ gives me a veritable arsenal of grooming tools, as the system includes a set of interchangeable heads, each with its own specific purpose. To begin de-shedding Shayna, I reached for the Dual Slicker Brush. After clicking the brush into place on the multi-purpose handle that comes with the kit, I went ahead and started detangling the fur and smoothing the matted areas. While I expected Shayna to resist—and at first, she did—she quickly calmed down. I figure it’s because the flexible sides of the tool move independently, allowing the bristles to follow natural body contours, without scratching the skin or yanking the fur.
I certainly didn’t expect to witness Shayna tolerate, if not enjoy, the initial grooming. But for me, the biggest surprise of all came once I moved onto the second included attachment, the deShedding Tool. Its curved edge glides comfortably along the body, removing loose hair but neither cutting nor damaging the topcoat. With each pass, the deShedding Tool brought away another robust clump of hair, each one larger than the last. (To remove clumps from the tool, just push the aptly named, super useful FURjector button.) By the time I’d finished, there was a giant, six-inch-tall mound of hair sitting next to my newly groomed Shayna.
Working in tandem, the different components of the FURminator® FURflex™ Pet Hair System reduce shedding by up to 90 percent. Of course, in a home with cats or dogs, there’s no way to bid farewell to pet hair completely. But by using the system frequently, you can go a long way toward minimizing the amount of extra clean-up you must do. Plus, the kit includes a special tool, the FUR Accumulator, which makes picking up stubborn, lingering hairs a painless process. Simply brush the wide paddle over any household surface, and hair sticks right to it. When you’re ready, give the tool a light tap to dispose of the hair in the trash.
I love Shayna. What I don’t love is dealing with all the hair that she sheds. The FURminator® Tool isn’t magic; the kit doesn’t eliminate pet hair problems without you needing to lift a finger. But for the modest investment of effort that it requires from one week to the next, de-shedding with the FURminator® Tool delivers ample rewards. On the one hand, it leaves your pet’s coat looking healthy, lustrous, and clean. On the other, it helps you solve the problem of household pet hair once and for all. Now, you can spend less time cleaning and more time taking pleasure in the time you spend under your own roof.
This post has been brought to you by FURminator® Professional Pet Products. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Bathroom >
- DIY Lite: Double Bathroom Storage with Easy-Build Box Shelves
DIY Lite: Double Bathroom Storage with Easy-Build Box Shelves
An empty wall is one more opportunity to stash your spare toiletries. Build and mount this simple set of wooden shelves to easily double—if not triple—the existing storage in your bathroom.
The bathroom can be a nightmare to organize, with all of its towels, soap bottles, grooming supplies, and other toiletries—and when you’re sharing the space, that’s double the stuff to store! To keep everything at arm’s reach while still clutter-free, try assembling an open storage system. Boxy wall shelves can be a good option, providing double the ledges for with each unit in case supplies start to overflow. The best part? Assembly is easy. Just follow those simple steps to set yours up ASAP.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 1×6 lumber, 8-foot-long (4)
- Wood glue
- 1-½-inch screws (36)
- Wood stain
- 2-½-inch metal brackets (6)
- ½-inch screws (24)
- 4-inch-wide tins (optional)
The dimensions for these 6-inch-deep shelves are easily adaptable, so you can shorten the length if necessary. To make three, we cut our lumber into the following dimensions: six pieces at 4 feet each, and six more at 9 inches each. (You can get these right at your home improvement store where you pick up your wood, if you don’t want to handle a saw.)
Position a 9-inch piece perpendicular at each end of a 4-foot length plank, then join them with wood glue.
Apply glue to the exposed ends of each 9-inch plank, then lay a 4-foot board across. Maintain pressure at the glued joints of this box until the glue dries. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to construct two more boxes.
Glue alone will not be strong enough to support the weight of all items to be stored on your shelves: guest towels, toilet paper rolls, spare shampoo bottles, and more. Once the adhesive has cured, reinforce the shelves with three 1-½-inch screws at both ends of each 4-foot cut. Tip: Pre-drill small holes and then insert screws in order to prevent the wood from cracking.
Sand all of the new boxy shelves, particularly along the edges, to remove splinters. Start with a coarse 100-grit sandpaper, and finish smoothing the surface with a finer 150-grit paper.
Color your assembled shelves with a wood stain of your choice, following the package’s instructions to a tee. After one or two coats have dried, seal with a coat of acrylic varnish. If you’d rather, you can paint the shelves a color that blends your shallow shelves in with your bathroom walls—just be careful to choose a satin or semi-gloss finish that resists water, as the bathroom will likely to be very damp after steamy showers.
Time to hang your new wall shelves! Determine where you’d like to position the set, exactly how high above the floor and how far apart from one another. (Our lowest shelf is 30 inches above the ground, and we left 4 inches of space between each level.) Hold the first shelf in place, checking that it is completely horizontal using a level. Mark the inside of the two top corners on the wall. After you set the shelf down, affix a 2-½-inch bracket to the wall at each mark using ½-inch screws. You will need one bracket at each corner of the box.
Lift the box shelf so that its top rests on the brackets. Pre-drill through the brackets’ holes into the wooden shelf, and secure with screws.
When you go to hang the second shelf, try this trick: Place three emptied tins that are the same size as your desired distance between shelves (ours are 4 inches wide each) across the lowest shelf, then rest the next shelf atop of them. These helpers will keep your hands free!
Rest a level on the whole stack to ensure the second shelf is horizontal and also aligned with the one beneath. Mark the inside top corners, remove the second shelf, and screw the brackets into the wall at these marks. Hang the shelf over the two brackets, and screw it into place.
Repeat this step to hang the third shelf at the top, and you’re all set to fill the 6-inch-deep ledges with all of the toiletries that you can’t cram underneath your sink any longer.
All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.