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The Economical, Environmental, and Emotional Benefits of Tubular Skylights

Rooms filled with natural daylight offer many benefits to your health, mood, and pocketbook. Learn how today's tubular skylights are bringing light to almost every room of the house.

Solatube Daylighting Skylights

Photo: Solatube International

There’s no substitute for natural light. In comparison with the artificial variety, it’s better for your health, the environment, and your electric bill. So figuring out how to get more daylight into your home is a worthwhile endeavor, to say the least. For rooms with an exterior wall, the solution is simple—add a window. For interior spaces where windows aren’t an option, tubular skylights are a smart alternative.

Unlike traditional skylights, which require a direct line of sight from the roof to the light-deprived room below, tubular skylights can deliver natural daylight easily to virtually any area of the house. Factor in the economical, environmental, and emotional benefits they offer, and it’s not hard to see why tubular skylights have become a popular choice for a multitude of today’s residential and commercial daylighting applications.

What are tubular skylights?
Tubular skylights, also known as “solar tubes,” “sun pipes,” “light tunnels,” and “tubular daylighting devices,” typically use a rooftop dome to capture the sun’s rays and then transfer the light indoors through a highly reflective tube. The modular design allows them to be customized to whatever length may be required—up to as much as 40 feet in some cases. Because the tube itself is compact and available in adjustable and flexible designs, it can be configured easily to avoid attic obstructions for fast installation. The result is a more versatile skylight that can carry natural light into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows can’t reach, spaces like closets, bathrooms, and hallways, to name just a few.

Solatube Daylightig Diagram

Photo: Solatube International

Economic Benefits
One obvious cost-saving benefit of installing a tubular skylight is that daylight is free. Once the device is installed, your dependence on electricity is reduced, and so is your utility bill. Tubular daylighting devices, like those from Solatube International, Inc., are also more affordable and less costly to install than traditional skylights. In most cases, they can be installed in a matter of hours, requiring no construction, drywall, or repainting. Solatube Daylighting Devices are designed with a patented light-capturing dome that redirects low-angle sunlight and rejects overpowering midday summer sun. They also minimize heat gain and loss for added savings on heating and cooling.

Environmental Benefits
Skylights harness one of our most coveted natural and sustainable resources—light from the sun. So putting them to work at home not only lessens reliance on electricity, but also reduces energy consumption from power plants. When we consume less, we conserve more natural resources and help limit greenhouse-damaging gas emissions—a win for us and the planet. For added earth-friendly benefits, Solatube’s manufacturing plant recycles its excess production materials, making their products both clean and green.

Solatube Daylighting System

Photo: Solatube International

Emotional Benefits
It’s no secret that natural light, or the lack thereof, affects us on a physiological level. Consider the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a state of depression that can occur when one doesn’t get enough exposure to the sun. Sunlight plays an important role as a mood elevator by triggering the production of serotonin. It is also a key contributor of heart-protecting vitamin D. And it helps regulate circadian rhythms, which contributes to healthier sleep cycles. Sunlight also heightens energy levels and concentration, making you more productive and naturally alert. In short, daylight is a staple of our existence that we rely on for emotional balance.

In addition to the many economical, environmental, and emotional benefits of tubular skylights, Solatube has created an innovative hybrid that combines daylighting with LEDs. When there’s plenty of sunlight, the Smart LED System delivers natural light. At night, energy-efficient LEDs automatically turn on. The result is a seamless blending of natural and LED light throughout the day and night so that you’re never kept in the dark.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of Solatube International, Inc. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com


What Would Bob Do? Leveling a Concrete Floor

There are a number of options for leveling a concrete floor. Read on to learn which approach is best for your needs.

How to Level a Concrete Floor

Photo: shutterstock.com

I’d like some advice on how to level a concrete floor. We plan to finish the basement in my house, and there are going to be a couple of sump pumps, so we no longer need the old drain in the middle of the floor. Thanks!

There is no one way to level a concrete floor. Of all the methods available to do-it-yourselfers, which should you employ? That largely depends on how level you want to make the concrete. And that question, in turn, hinges on a related but different question: What type of flooring do you plan to install in your basement?

If you envision carpeting or another type of floor that forgives minor variations in subfloor grade, such as engineered wood or click-and-lock vinyl, then you can probably opt for the least labor-intensive method. Here, a concrete grinder would do the bulk of the work. (You can rent this tool from your local home center.) You’d use it to grind down the most prominent ridges in the floor. To finish the job, you would then mix up a small batch of concrete and use it to fill in any dips or depressions.

If you want to install tiles that glue down, things get a bit trickier. For a successful installation, the concrete floor beneath the tile needs to be more or less perfectly level and smooth. That’s true for compact tiles and even more critical for larger ones, including the popular 1-by-2-foot size. With small tiles, the maximum differential between the lowest and highest point on the floor is 1/4 inch per 10 feet; with larger tiles, the acceptable differential is a mere 1/8 inch per 10 feet. To achieve such flatness, use a self-leveling compound. These come in powdered form and are mixed with water and a fortifying agent. You end up with a thin liquid that when poured from a bucket flows across the existing uneven concrete. Gravity will bring the liquid to a level, but you can help the process along with a broom or trowel.

When it comes to mixing and applying the self-leveling compound, closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, because every product differs slightly. Generally speaking, though, no matter what compound you choose, you’ll need to take similar steps to prepare the basement beforehand. For one thing, it’s important to remove any flaking paint or loose adhesive from the floor to ensure that the compound can get a good grip on the concrete. Also, so you don’t need an excessive quantity of compound, it’s not a bad idea to grind down any spots on the floor that are especially high. And of course, if there’s a drain—and you mentioned that there is one—it must be capped and sealed around the seams of its cap. Word to the wise: Wear cleats in case you need to walk across the compound while it’s still wet.

Once the self-leveling compound has set, you can proceed to install your chosen flooring. Alternatively, if you’ve had enough DIY for now, remember that you can eschew a finished floor, opting instead to stain, paint, or polish the compound that now forms the top layer of your concrete basement floor slab.


How To: Recover a Chair

A little DIY know-how—and minimal supplies and tools—could transform a lackluster dining chair into a seat of distinction. Here's how to recover a chair seat cushion yourself.

How to Recover a Chair - Complete

Photo: JNoonan

It’s only a matter of time: Sooner or later, your chairs with upholstered seats are going to get worn, dirty, or dated. When you decide those chairs have gotten too beat-up to keep around, remember to weigh your options. Your instinct may be to donate the chairs or throw them away, but if they remain in good condition, why not give a thought to reupholstering the furniture? In your local area, there’s more than likely a professional specializing in these sorts of repairs. Much easier—and yet equally transformative—would be to recover the chairs yourself,  replacing their seat covers with new fabric. Even a novice DIYer can recover a chair within an afternoon. Here’s how.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New fabric
- Scissors
- Staple gun
- Staples
- Screwdriver

STEP 1

How to Recover a Chair - Materials

Photo: JNoonan

When you undertake to recover a chair, start by measuring the seat cushion to determine how much replacement fabric you’ll need. During the measuring process, be sure to allow for at least three extra inches of fabric on all sides (in later steps, you are going to work with this excess material on the underside of the cushion).

STEP 2

How to Recover a Chair - Unscrewing

Photo: JNoonan

Using a screwdriver, remove the existing cushion from the chair frame. (By the way, this would be an opportune moment to address any minor repairs you wish to make on the chair.) Bear in mind that if there’s only one cover on the cushion, you can recover the chair without even removing the old fabric; simply lay the new fabric over the old. When dealing with a cushion that has more than one cover, however, take off the top layer by drawing out the staples that hold it in place.

STEP 3

How to Recover a Chair - Cutting

Photo: JNoonan

Having laid the fabric onto your work surface, cut a piece that conforms to the dimensions you calculated in the earlier step. Working with a patterned fabric (for example, one that includes a floral medallion)? Then take care to ensure that your cutaway includes the part of the pattern you would like the chair seat to display.

STEP 4

How to Recover a Chair - Stapling

Photo: JNoonan

• To attach the new cover, fold one edge of the fabric over the seat, then staple that fabric to the underside of the cushion, about one or two inches from the edge. From there, stretch the fabric across the top of the seat, folding the fabric over the opposite side of the cushion before stapling again on the side opposite to where you placed the initial fastener.

• After checking to confirm the cover is aligning correctly on the cushion surface, flip it back over and continue stapling along the sides, all while keeping the fabric taut (but not so taut that the weave or pattern becomes distorted). If the cover goes on crooked at any point while you’re working, pop out a staple or two with your screwdriver, then re-attach.

• When you arrive at one of the corners, staple at the same time that you stretch and angle the fabric. It may take some trial and error, but eventually you will figure out how to attach the fabric without causing any wrinkles to appear. Remember that if you do get wrinkles, there’s a quick and easy fix: Just pop out a few staples, adjust the cover, then staple again.

STEP 5

How to Recover a Chair - Trimming

Photo: JNoonan

By now you will have finished stapling on the cover. Proceed to trim away the excess fabric by means of a scissor, leaving one or two inches of material beyond the staples. There’s no need to sweat appearances, as the underside of the cushion will not be visible. Finally, reattach the newly recovered cushion to the chair frame.

Voila! It’s no more complicated than that. All it takes, really, is a length of fabric and a staple gun. Believe it or not, you can get good at this with a little practice. And you’ll be amazed by how easy it becomes to refresh your cushions with a new look, all for little more than the cost of new fabric. So go forth, recover, and sit pretty!


Bob Vila Radio: Small Yards

With smart planning, even a small yard can be beautiful and functional. Find out how to make the most of your compact outdoor space.

A well-designed outdoor space is like having an extra room in the house. Even a small yard is a great treasure, but it takes smart landscaping to make it functional and beautiful. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your small yard.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SMALL SPACE YARDS or read the text below:

Small Yards

Photo: shutterstock.com

First, keep the space open and uncluttered. Avoid privacy fencing, opting instead for soft boundary-setters like plantings and hedges. This will keep your yard from feeling hemmed in.

By the same token, choose small-scale, unobtrusive furnishings and forgo large structures like pergolas. Make use of all the square footage; even a neglected side yard can become a quiet dining area or a cozy reading nook.

To create a unified design and keep clutter to a minimum, establish a single focal point—a fountain, tree, or sculpture. Meanwhile, select furnishings that do double duty. For example, choose benches that provide both seating and storage and if possible, incorporate seating into hardscaping like retaining walls.

Container gardening and vertical plantings are particularly suited to small spaces. Flowers, vegetables, and even small trees can thrive in containers and create a beautiful mix of textures, colors, and heights. Even better, they can be moved around to create smaller “rooms” in your yard. Hanging baskets, trellises with trailing greenery, and planters mounted on walls all draw the eye up and bring interest and depth to small spaces.

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: Tips on Cutting Plywood

Though plywood can be difficult to cut cleanly, these tips on sawing plywood can help you get the job done well, with a minimum of hassle.

Plywood is a versatile product great for lots of building projects. Cutting it can be a little tricky, however, as the edges are prone to little tears and nicks. Here are a couple of tips to help you get cleaner cuts in plywood.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CUTTING PLYWOOD or read the text below:

Sawing Plywood

Photo: shutterstock.com

The most important thing you can do to get a clean cut is choose the right blade. If you’re using a jigsaw, you need a fine blade specifically designed for plywood or laminate. For circular saws, get a good carbide-tip blade. And for table saws or miter saws, you’ll need a blade with 80 teeth per inch (TPI).

Second, understand how your saw works. The tearout usually happens on the side of the cutting action. So if you’re working with a jigsaw, which cuts on the upstroke, place your plywood with the good side face down. Also place the plywood face down if you’re using a circular saw or miter saw. For a table saw, flip the plywood over so it’s face up.

Whatever saw you’re using, give the plywood plenty of support. Those big sheets can be unwieldy, and an unexpected shift can cause chips. Finally, try running painter’s tape along the length you intend to cut, and score your cut line with a razor first.

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: Transform a Cabinet with Spray Paint

You can revitalize almost any piece of furniture with a few coats of spray paint. And once you've got the technique down, you'll be surprised at how easy—and addictive—spray-painting can be!

How to Spray Paint Furniture - Detail Before

Photo: Jennifer Noonan

Is there a dated, shabby, worn-out cabinet hogging space somewhere in your home? If so, you may feel tempted to get rid of the old eyesore. But if the only thing you don’t like about the furniture is the way that it looks—if it’s unlovely but perfectly functional—bear in mind that you can completely transform the cabinet quickly, easily, and inexpensively. Yes! The key: spray paint. Invest in one or two cans of spray paint; spend an hour or two on the makeover, depending on the size of your cabinet; and you’ll be amazed (I certainly was) by the difference. Best of all, the project costs a mere fraction of what it would to purchase a brand-new cabinet.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Rust-Oleum Universal spray paint
- Drop cloth
- Wood filler (optional)
- Sandpaper
- Tack cloth or cotton rag
- Protective gear
- Screwdriver or drill (optional)

STEP 1
Whenever you’re spray-painting furniture, it’s recommended that you work in a well-ventilated area. On a nice day, you might even choose to work outside, provided there’s little to no wind. (You don’t want gusts to blow yard debris onto your project during the drying stage.) Another benefit of painting in the driveway or backyard is that you don’t need to worry about overspray. Working indoors? Open the windows and use drop cloths to cover anything you wish to protect from the spray paint.

How to Spray Paint Furniture - Detail Spraying

Photo: JNoonan

STEP 2
Now that you’ve readied your work area, the next step is to prepare the piece of furniture you’re going to spray-paint. First things first, remove all hardware (for example, hinges or handles) and set it safely aside. Next—this is optional—fill any scratches or holes with wood filler, closely following the directions from the product manufacturer. Finally, sand down the furniture, not only to even out nicked edges, but also to give the spray paint an accommodating surface to which it can adhere easily. Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe the furniture with either a tack cloth or a damp cotton rag. Wait for the piece to dry completely before proceeding to paint.

STEP 3
Don the appropriate protective gear—in this case, a dust mask (spray-paint particulates are very fine and can be accidentally inhaled) and safety gloves (well, these kinds of projects are known to get a little messy on occasion).

I used Rust-Oleum’s Universal spray paint. Because it works on any surface, I was able to use it on both the wood and the metal cabinet hinges. Another plus: It can be sprayed from any angle—handy if you need to reach into corners.

Whenever I spray-paint furniture, I apply several thin coats instead of a single heavy coat. That strategy has seemed to yield the best results. Holding the can 8 to 12 inches from the surface, pull the trigger on the spray-paint can, applying the paint with a sweeping motion. As you go along, let the spray fall a few inches past the left and right edges of the furniture. Remember that spray paint dries quickly; subsequent coats can be added within two hours. For further details about application, be sure to read the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

STEP 4
Give the paint at least 24 hours to cure fully before reinstalling hardware or placing any objects on or inside of the furniture. That may seem like a long time to wait, but personally I’d wait five times as long if it meant revitalizing a cabinet that I would have otherwise hauled to the Dumpster. Spray paint really is an amazing thing. With a little practice, you’ll be able to spray-paint like a pro. And then if you’re anything like me, you’ll look at the world in a new way, always finding things around the house to revamp and totally renew.

How to Spray Paint Furniture - Cabinet Makeover After

Photo: Jennifer Noonan

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


How To: Get Rid of Wasps

How to Get Rid of Wasps

Photo: shutterstock.com

Springtime and summer are lovely times of year, but they do usher in a host of seasonal hazards, perhaps none more fearsome than wasps. Not only are wasps annoying, buzzing in your ears and hovering over your picnic, but they are also more likely than most bees to actually sting you. To minimize the presence of these pests on your property, the most important thing you can do is to destroy any wasp nests that you come across. Although it’s not especially difficult or time-consuming to get rid of wasps in this way, you are going to need courage, first and foremost, and like any soldier heading into battle, you must arm yourself with the right weapons. Many potent (and oftentimes toxic) chemicals are sold commercially for the purpose of ridding homeowners of wasps, but we recommend handling the problem the old-fashioned way. Continue reading to learn how you can get rid of wasps using little more than soap and hot water.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Large bucket
- Dishwashing liquid
- Water
- Protective clothing
- Courage!

STEP 1
If you haven’t done so already, the first step is to locate the wasp nest. There are at least two strategies, one more sophisticated than the other. First, if you are able to distinguish the species of wasp, you can then proceed to research its nesting habits. Some wasps prefer trees, while others prefer manmade structures. Knowing the enemy enables you to narrow the search range so that you can find the nest more quickly. Alternatively, simply walk around the property, checking all those snug, out-of-the-way hiding places that wasps are known to haunt—roof eaves and rafters, wall cavities, crawlspaces, railings, fence posts, and tree branches.

STEP 2
When you set out to get rid of wasps, let’s face it: You face the risk of getting stung. That’s why it’s only common sense to wear full protective gear. No, it’s not necessary to go out and buy a beekeeper’s suit. But it’s only prudent to cover up well, and in layers. Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt under a thick jacket, gloves, socks and shoes, and a hat paired with a bandana (the latter to cover your face). Oh, and don’t forget to tuck your pants into your socks!

How to Get Rid of Wasps - Nest

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 3
Having properly equipped yourself for battle, you are now ready to attack. Choose your battle plan:

Boiling Water
Pouring a bucket of boiling water onto the wasp nest accomplishes two things. One, it immediately kills scores of wasps and two, it ruins their nest. However, it may take a few buckets full to destroy the nest and to completely detach it from where it was hanging. Meanwhile, you’re likely to have upset dozens of stinging wasps. The wise course is to stage your attacks several hours (or even a full day) apart.

Water With Soap
A second method—similar but slightly superior to the first—involves the addition of liquid dishwasher soap to the boiling water before you pour it on the nest. OK, why the soap? Because it bogs down the wasps, making it more difficult for them to counterattack. Again, it’s probably going to take you more than one bucket to destroy the nest, but this way, you’re less likely to get stung in the process.

STEP 4
Timing is everything. It’s best to approach the nest at night, when most or all of the wasps are inside it. While it may seem counterintuitive to mount your attack when the wasps are “at home,” but experience has shown that wasps pose less of threat inside the nest than flying around it.

Good luck, noble warrior!


How To: Install a Medicine Cabinet

Add beauty and storage to your bath by installing a medicine cabinet. Choose one that is wall-mounted—rather than inset—and the project becomes even more suitable for DIY.

How to Install a Medicine Cabinet

Photo: hgcinc.biz

Add storage to your bathroom—and in the process, give the space a jolt of fresh style—by installing a medicine cabinet. Even if you’re new to home improvement, installing a medicine cabinet makes for an excellent do-it-yourself project. That said, the process entails complexities best addressed through a careful, deliberate approach. Read on to learn how to install a medicine cabinet that mounts to the wall (as opposed to being recessed into the space between wall studs behind the drywall or plaster).

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Pipe locator
- Flush-mounted medicine cabinet with fixings
- Spirit level
- Pencil
- Drill
- Screwdriver

STEP 1
To install a medicine cabinet, you’ll need to drill into the walls. Since bathroom walls often conceal a warren of pipes and wires, it’s only prudent to make sure you won’t accidentally disturb any vital conduits of water or electricity (in the worst case, such a mistake could bring about extensive, expensive damage to your home). Stay on the safe side and run an electronic pipe locator over the area of the wall into which you are planning to drill. So long as the “coast is clear”, you can proceed.

How to Install a Medicine Cabinet - Chest Detail

Photo: signaturehardware.com

STEP 2
Next, position the medicine cabinet flush to the wall, approximately where you are planning to install it. Is the face of the cabinet mirrored? If so, pay close attention to the cabinet height; it should be at eye level. Finally, confirm that nothing (doors, fixtures, etc.) would be obstructed were the cabinet to be permanent.

STEP 3
Having determined the best place in which to install the medicine cabinet, enlist a friend to continue holding it in place. Meanwhile, reach for the spirit level, placing it on top of the cabinet (assuming there’s a ledge; if not, simply hold it against the top edge.) Make minor adjustments until you have gotten the cabinet to be perfectly level, then draw lines where the top and bottom edges of the frame meet the wall.

STEP 4
With your helper still holding the cabinet, open its door (or doors) and find the holes on the rear interior. On the wall, pencil an X-mark to correlate with each one of the installation holes that you identified on the cabinet. For the time being, take the cabinet away from the wall and set it aside at a safe distance.

STEP 5
Look at the hardware that came packaged with the cabinet; outfit your drill/driver with a bit whose size matches that of the hardware; then drill holes in the wall wherever you penciled an X-mark in Step 4. Tread carefully here; if the drilled holes are too large, then chances are the cabinet is going to wobble.

STEP 6
Position the cabinet back on the wall, matching its top and bottom edges to the pencil lines you drew in Step 3. While your helper holds the cabinet, screw the fasteners through each of the holes on the back of the cabinet. Don’t attach them tightly until you are satisfied the cabinet is precisely where you want it.

Additional Tips
• Temporarily tape the door (or doors) closed so as to safeguard against damage caused during installation.

• Power tools and moisture don’t mix: Before using the drill/driver, make sure the area is completely dry.

• Don’t worry about the pencil marks remaining visible post-installation. They can be removed via eraser.


ENTER to Win $1,000 in DIY Gift Cards

Enter today and every day in July to win one of four weekly prizes of DIY Home Improvement Gift Cards valued at $1,000 from InComm.

DIY Dollars Give-AwayWith summer in full swing, homeowners are heading outdoors for fun and relaxation.  If you’re backyard isn’t quite ready for the season, don’t despair. This month, we are giving away four weekly prizes of Do It Yourself Home Improvement™ gift cards valued at $1,000, courtesy of our friends at InComm. Improve your home’s curb appeal, add a new deck or an above ground pool—or create that outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming about—the choice is all yours if you win the DIY Dollars.

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Starting today and every day in July (from 12:00 p.m. EST Monday, June 30th, 2014 until 11:59 a.m. EST, Thursday, July 31st, 2014), you can enter to win one of four weekly Do It Yourself Home Improvement™ gift cards valued at $1,000. (See Official Rules below.)

InComm DIY Gift Card

Photo: InComm

The Do It Yourself Home Improvement™ gift cards from InComm are redeemable at thousands of home improvement retailers in the U.S. where Discover cards are accepted, including Home Depot, True Value, Sears, Sherwin-Williams, Restoration Hardware, Lumber Liquidators, and Menard’s.

Imagine what you could do with an extra $1,000 this summer. Put it towards a new lawn mower or power washer, update your old kitchen appliances, or maybe splash a fresh coat of paint on your walls. The options are endless and the choice all yours!

Enter Bob Vila’s DIY Dollars Give-Away daily to increase your odds of winning. And remember to check back next week for another shot at the prize!

To learn more about InComm, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s DIY Dollars Giveaway” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Monday, June 30th, 2014 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Thursday, July 31st, 2014. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

The Do It Yourself Home Improvement gift card is issued by The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC. Discover® and the Discover acceptance mark are service marks used by the Bancorp Bank under license from Discover Financial Services. Card is distributed and serviced by ITC Financial Licenses, Inc., which is Licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Card may be used at identified home improvement retailers in the U.S. everywhere Discover Cards are accepted.  Terms and conditions apply – see Cardholder Agreement.


Bob Vila Radio: Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse sinks, whose style harkens back to the 19th century, are enjoying a revival, with more models being offered than ever before.

Farmhouse sinks, also known as apron-front sinks, are a country kitchen staple. These distinctive vessels have an exposed front that sits above, not behind, the base cabinet. Common in early 19th-century kitchens, the farmhouse sink has enjoyed renewed popularity over the past decade, which has spurred manufacturers to offer a greater range of models, materials, and options than ever before.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FARMHOUSE SINKS or read the text below:

Farmhouse Sink

Photo: houzz.com

The popularity of farmhouse sinks isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. Their deep basin comfortably accommodates large pans and helps cut down on splashes. Because the sink sits far forward, the user doesn’t need to bend down as much. And thanks to the style’s appeal, apron-front sinks now come in both single- and double-bowl models with a range of options.

On the downside, these sinks have a higher price tag and less selection than the more common drop-in styles. Because of their shape and considerable weight, they usually require additional support and a specially designed base cabinet. But this situation is changing: Due to such innovations as shallower bowls and overmount designs, it’s easier than ever to retrofit an apron-front sink. In addition, the introduction of clean-lined stainless steel models has made this highly coveted style appropriate for even sleekly modern interiors, with nary a cow in sight.

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.