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Bob Vila Radio: How to Remove Paint Spots from Wood Floors

In the course of completing a recent paint project, stray drops of paint managed to get on your finished wood floors. Don't worry! Here's some advice on how to get those up.

When’s the best time to remove paint spots from wooden floors? Right after the paint hits the floor, of course! But what if you don’t notice a spot until later, by which point the paint has become hard as a rock?

How to Remove Paint from Wood Flooring

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING PAINT FROM WOOD FLOORS or read the text below:

Try using a rigid plastic putty knife, paired with light taps from a hammer. If that doesn’t work, use a hair dryer to warm the spot, then give the putty knife another try (be careful not to apply too much heat, as that could damage the floor). For paint that’s landed between floorboards, try gentle strokes using a pull scraper. Solvents can also be a big help, provided you choose the type that’s appropriate for the paint you used, be it oil- or water-based.

Stains are toughest when the paint has bonded with the finish of the floor and seeped into the grain of the wood. When that happens, you may need to use a pull scraper to remove the paint—along with the finish—before touching up afterwards to reseal the floor.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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: Think Before You Install a Kitchen Island

A potentially welcome addition to the heart of your home, the kitchen island deserves thoughtful planning.

Installing a kitchen island doesn’t just enhance the look of your kitchen. It can also make meal prep a lot more enjoyable and provide a great setting for socializing. If you’re thinking of adding a kitchen island, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Kitchen Island Planning

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Listen to BOB VILA ON KITCHEN ISLANDS or read the text below:

Make sure you allow adequate space, and not only for the island itself, but also for the space around it. Most contractors suggest at least three feet between the island and kitchen appliances. Four is even better. If seating is part of the plan, position stools around corners rather than in a straight line. That makes for easier conversation.

Electrical outlets? The more the merrier. Below-counter nooks are perfect for setting up a charging station for your mobile devices.

One other point: Before you start the project, make sure you really want a lot of people hanging out in your kitchen. Once you’ve installed the island, it’s likely to become a very popular spot!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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. 


So, You Want to… Insulate the Attic

Insulate your attic to keep your heating and cooling from going through the roof, along with your monthly budget!

How to Insulate an Attic

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Are you getting the sense that your heating and cooling costs are going through the roof? You might be absolutely right: An attic with poor insulation can cost you big bucks. Why wait any longer? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that attic insulation can substantially decrease—by anywhere from 10 to 15 percent—the amount of money you devote each month to keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Whether you undertake the job yourself or a hire out the work to a contractor, you’ll experience both an immediate and long-term benefit to your bottom line. As you start planning to insulate the attic, consider the following factors.

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Types of Insulation
There are many different types of insulation, all of which are readily available at your local home center. For the tightest nooks and crannies of the attic, many people choose loose-fill insulation. Most common, though, is blanket-style insulation, made of either fiberglass or rock wool. The material comes in rolls or square batts, and for the convenience of contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike, it’s presized to fit between most studs, rafters, and joists. To seal up air leaks around chimneys, plumbing stacks, or any similar components that penetrate the building envelope, hire a pro to apply closed- or open-cell spray foam insulation.

How to Install Attic Insulation - Fiberglass Detail

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R-Values 
How much is enough insulation? In part, that depends on what type of insulation you’ve chosen to install. Each type rates differently on the R-value scale—a measure of how well a product blocks the passage of heat and cold. Most current building codes call for R-50 insulation in the attics of new homes, while specifying R-38 for insulation retrofit into existing dwellings. But the age of the home isn’t the only variable; one must also consider its geographical location. Energy Star provides an easy-to-read chart that specifies the recommended R-values for different parts of the country.

Ventilation
It may seem counterintuitive, but while attic insulation is critical, ventilation of the attic is equally important. Without ventilation, moisture can accumulate and condense, eventually rotting the insulation and compromising structural integrity. As well, ventilation goes a long way toward neutralizing the seasonal threat posed by ice dams, which are capable of causing extensive, expensive damage.

Some experts discount the value of attic vents, particularly in warmer climates. Most, however, agree that vents in the attic not only keep the house more comfortable, but also prevent potential problems. The typical attic includes ventilation in three locations: on gable ends, along the roof ridge, and in soffits. If you’re planning to install attic insulation, it only makes sense to think about ventilation too.

Before You Start
Before you begin the installation process, no matter what type of insulation you’ve chosen, take the time to do some prep work. In attics without lighting, prep includes plugging in a temporary clip-on work lamp; a flashlight won’t cut it here. Once you can see what you’re doing, look around for discoloration or any other evidence of a roof leak. Make all necessary repairs before continuing. Where there’s no flooring, lay down 3/4-inch plywood panels, so you have a safe, comfortable platform to work from. Finally, remember that most insulation products release hazardous particles. If you choose to insulate the attic yourself, it’s imperative that you wear full protective gear and a dust respirator.

Notes on Installation
Insulation expands once unpackaged, so leave it wrapped until you are ready to use it. Also, bear in mind that if you compress insulation in order to make it fit, the product loses much of its R-value. A better strategy is to measure the span into which you’re placing the insulation, before cutting the product to size. To cut blanket-style insulation, place the product over a piece of plywood, with its paper (or foil) side down. Lay a two-by-four on top, temporarily compressing the insulation to a manageable thickness. Finally, run a standard utility knife along the edge of the lumber, through the insulation, and down to the plywood.


Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The DIY Pallet Project Competition Starts Today

Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite among the DIY pallet projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Pallet Project Competition

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Pallets

There’s no doubt about it: The humble pallet appeals to the imagination. There’s almost no end to its possibilities and it seems like every DIYer, blogger, and Pinterest user has considered the pallet’s raw potential at one time or another. But only a few have truly unlocked this material’s full potential. Each and every one of this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitors has done just that—elevating this leftover shipping supply into benches, beds, desks, and more. And that deserves a big thumbs up.

SEE ALL PROJECTS NOW!

Some of these projects are simple enough to complete in an afternoon, while others take muscle, special tools, and time to complete. But regardless of complexity, they are all completely deserving of taking home the prize—a $250 gift card to True Value.

We love each and every one of this month’s pallets projects, but only the project with the highest number of votes can win. So we need your vote to determine the winner of this month’s competition. So vote today and everyday to help us choose this month’s winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up blogger!

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Crafting in the Rain. Read more about her winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Would you like to recommend a blogger for the next Bob Vila Thumbs Up? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!


How To: Paint Vinyl Siding

If your vinyl siding has seen better days or you no longer like its color, save big bucks by painting it instead of replacing it.

How to Paint Vinyl Siding

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A sensible siding solution, vinyl remains a popular, budget-friendly choice for home exteriors. People have always loved its low maintenance requirements, and the material has only gotten better, benefiting over the years from advancements in manufacturing. Even so, it’s not—and never likely to be—invincible. If your siding is looking faded or worn, or if you’ve just grown tired of the color, you may choose to paint your vinyl siding. Of course, an exterior paint job is a large project, to be sure, but it’s not a particularly complicated one. You may fear that in order to paint vinyl successfully, you will need to learn a new set of idiosyncratic, vinyl-only techniques. Fortunately, that’s not the case. The following instructions will take you through steps that, if you’ve painted anything before, will no doubt be familiar. Plus, we’ll detail the handful of vinyl-specific considerations that you’ll need to keep in mind to be get the job done right.

Weather Wise
Before heading outdoors to get the project under way, first consult the weather forecast for your area. To paint vinyl siding in ideal conditions, wait for mild temperatures, low relative humidity, and an overcast sky. If the weather’s too hot, too sunny, or even too windy, the paint may fail to go on properly. Yes, it might look fine in the short term, but paint applied on a hot, humid, or gusty day may adhere poorly and be more prone to cracking and flaking over time.

Paint Selection
Don’t just purchase the most easily reached can of paint in the aisle. For a paint job to look good and last on vinyl siding, the product you choose must:

• contain acrylic and urethane resins; these ingredients, which accommodate the expansion and contraction of vinyl, help the coating to stick.

• be the same shade or lighter than the current color; darker colors retain more heat and leave the siding vulnerable to premature warping.

In other words, choose a latex urethane paint formulated for exterior use, and shy away from dark colors, which may create more maintenance problems.

How to Paint Vinyl Siding - Closeup

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Surface Preparation
A thorough cleaning is a critical first step toward achieving a professional-quality paint job—not only on vinyl, but on any material, indoors or out. Just running the hose over the siding won’t cut it. We’ve covered how to clean vinyl siding in the past. The goal is to remove all mold, mildew, chalky buildup, and debris from the surface.

For best results, use a cleaning solution that contains:

- 1/3 cup laundry detergent
- 2/3 cup powdered household cleaner
- 1 quart liquid laundry bleach
- 1 gallon water

Use a cloth or a soft-bristled brush to apply the cleaning solution over all the vinyl siding you wish to paint, then be sure to rinse off any remaining residue. Before going any further, allow enough time for the siding to dry completely.

Paint Application
Primer isn’t necessary unless the original color has completely worn away, or has become pitted or porous. Apply your chosen paint with a roller or even a paint sprayer, saving brushwork for corners and edges. Evenly coat the entire surface, taking care not to apply too much paint in any one section. As in most other types of paint jobs, it’s better to do multiple thin coats than fewer thick ones.

Upon finishing the first coat, let the paint dry—if not completely, then mostly—before continuing on to the second. The second coat, however, must be given enough time (24 hours at most) to dry completely before the project can be considered complete. Most of the time, two coats are sufficient.

This is all much easier said than done, of course. Painting the home exterior is a large, laborious job. The silver lining is this: Assuming that you properly cleaned the vinyl siding prior to painting, you can expect the application to last 10 years!


Bob Vila Radio: Are You Making a Big Mistake with Your Storm Windows?

If you rely on storm windows to stop drafts and save energy, find out which potentially costly mistake you could be making without realizing it.

This winter, before you shut your storm windows, make sure that at the bottom of each one, the weep hole is clear. All factory-built storm windows have small weep holes. These are designed to expel any moisture that collects between the storm and the primary window.

Strom Window Weep Holes

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Listen to BOB VILA ON STORM WINDOW WEEP HOLES or read the text below:

Unfortunately, some folks don’t understand the need for the holes. Concluding that the holes are hurting rather helping, those people fill in the weep holes with caulk. Doing so may save you a few bucks in heating costs over the short term, but in the long run the absence of weep holes can rot the window sill and, in severe cases, lead to water damage and mold in the wall.

If the weep holes in your windows have been caulked over, you can make new ones: Just drill a couple of quarter-inch holes through the bottom corners of each storm. For the weep hole to be effective, the drill bit must go all the way through the frame. Be careful, though, not to drill into the wooden sill underneath.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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: Find a Roof Leak

Leaky roof? Try these strategies for pinpointing the problem, in fair weather or foul.

How to Find a Roof Leak

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The hardest part of fixing a roof leak? A lot of times, it’s simply locating the problem. Sure, it’s easy enough to spot water stains or mold growth—sure signs of a leak. But once water has penetrated the roof, it’s easily diverted by such things as insulation. So even though you may notice the evidence of a leak in the corner bedroom, the vulnerable point in your roof may be quite far removed from that part of your house. That’s why roof repair jobs typically begin with a certain amount of detective work. Here are some tips to help you crack the case quickly, so you can plug the leak before the damage gets any worse.

Get a Good Look
Arm yourself with a flashlight and head up to the attic. Be careful up there: If there’s no proper flooring, step carefully from joist to joist. (If you step between the joists, you might put a foot through the ceiling of the room below!) Once you’ve got your bearings, use the flashlight to examine the underside of the roof. Look out for any areas that are darker than the surrounding roof sheathing. If there hasn’t been rain recently, moist spots may be too difficult to discern. Mold, on the other hand, has the tendency to linger. So if you encounter a patch of mold, which thrives on moisture, chances are you’ve found the vulnerable point in your roof.

Interfering Insulation
The underside of your roof may be obscured by insulation, and that’s helpful for the task at hand, because insulation deteriorates more noticeably and more quickly than wood does. If you’re seeing damage on one section of the insulation, however, you must remember that the leak itself may be several feet to either side. It’s best to carefully remove all insulation adjacent to the spot where you notice signs of a leak. That way, you can follow the path of the water from the damaged area all the way to the water’s entry point in the roof. Remember that whenever you are working with insulation, it’s important to wear the appropriate protective gear.

Foreign Objects
Most noticeable to the eye are leaks caused by an object (for example, an errant nail) that’s managed to pierce the roof. Failing any such obvious signs, check out the roof vents. If present, these vents are typically near ridges or gable ends, or both. Over time, the seals around vents can gradually weaken, allowing rainwater to seep in.

Dry Weather
What happens if you’re desperate to find a roof leak, but recent dry weather has made your search more challenging? Well, you can always simulate a storm. This method requires two people. While one person goes up on the roof, garden hose in tow, the other person remains in the attic, flashlight in hand. Section by section, the person on the roof wets down the roof, while the other carefully examines the roof’s underside for leakage. By simulating a downpour, you can witness firsthand how your roof withstands—or fails to withstand, as the case may be—conditions that mimic those of a natural storm.

The Next Step
Leaks only get worse. Act quickly once you’ve pinpointed the location of yours. Fortunately, in many instances it takes only a modest repair to fix the leak—for example, replacing a shingle. If you don’t feel comfortable on the roof, however, or if the leak seems extensive, do not hesitate to contact a professional.


Genius! DIY Radiator Cover

If you're sick of the way your radiator looks, you can disguise it—and make its corner of the room more functional—with this easy, simple, genius DIY.

DIY Radiator Cover

Photo: christinasadventures.com

If your heat comes from radiators, you know the predicament: In the winter, you’re glad to have the heat. But no matter the season, you cannot escape the fact that radiators are usually ugly. Their clunky, utilitarian appearance is a source of lingering frustration for many. Plus, radiators occupy precious floor space you would prefer devoting to another, more exciting purpose (heating is many things, but exciting it is not). That’s the genius of Christina’s DIY radiator cover: It fits right over the cast iron, creating a usable surface on top, while allowing hot air to emanate through the room. 

Radiator covers are somewhat controversial; some people say they compromise air flow, compromising radiators’ ability to do their job. Christina, who blogs at Christina’s Adventures, responds: “This is definitely a valid concern, but if the radiator cover is constructed correctly, it can actually help to improve the air flow! You have to make sure that you allow enough room around all sides of the radiator. Also, be sure to add a piece of sheet metal to the back. That helps project the air out to the rest of the house.” Good to know! 

Christina lives in a 100-year-old house, and so with her DIY radiator cover, she felt it was important to respect history while making the space more functional for her family today. “We’ve developed our own style,” she says, and “we feel it’s a true mix of the old and the new.”

Find out how Christina made her DIY radiator cover, and how you can make your own!

 

MATERIALS
- MDF
- Aluminum sheeting
- Jigsaw
- Trim molding
- Miter saw
- Elmer’s ProBond Advanced
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Poplar board
- Paint
- Stain
- Polyurethane sealer

 

STEP 1

DIY Radiator Cover - Cutting MDF

Photo: christinasadventures.com

We measured out the area around the radiator, making sure to add 2″-3″ inches all around for appropriate air flow. Then we had our local hardware store cut down MDF for the front and the sides of the cover. Once home, we marked out a 4″ frame and little legs. After that, we drilled pilot holes and used a jigsaw to cut out the inner square.

 

STEP 2

DIY Radiator Cover - glue

Photo: christinasadventures.com

Now it was time to add the pretty aluminum grate to the middle of the MDF frame. I used Elmer’s ProBond Advanced to adhere the metal to the MDF. For this type of mixed material project, it’s the perfect adhesive to use.

 

STEP 3
Next, I used the staple gun to fastened the aluminum sheet to the MDF—they’re securely attached now. We also added two pieces of scrap wood to the back of the frame to make a fourth side.

 

STEP 4

DIY Radiator Cover - wood filler

Photo: christinasadventures.com

Once the sheeting and the back were in place, we cut trim molding to fit inside the MDF frame, around the perimeter of the grate. The molding really gives the radiator cover a more finished look. At this point, I filled in the imperfections with wood filler.

 

STEP 5
After a few hours, I hand-sanded the wood filler and the sides of the MDF. Then I rolled three coats of white paint onto the cover, and we finally put it into place over the radiator.

 

STEP 6

DIY Radiator Cover - Complete

Photo: christinasadventures.com

On top, I added stained poplar to make a shelf. And on the back of the cover, I added a piece of sheet metal to radiate heat out into the room.

 

Thanks, Christina! If you loved this post, visit Christina’s Adventures for even more incredible home decor ideas.


Bob Vila Radio: What Exactly Are Architectural Shingles, Anyway?

If you've done a re-roofing project, chances are you've come across a term that, while commonly used, isn't commonly understood by those outside the trade. Here's the lowdown.

Ever wonder exactly what the difference is between conventional asphalt shingles and architectural shingles? Here’s the lowdown: Architectural shingles are essentially just a premium grade of conventional asphalt shingles. They’re thicker than conventional shingles and have a textured look that’s distinctive.

Architectural Shingles

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Listen to BOB VILA ON ARCHITECTURAL SHINGLES or read the text below:

Conventional asphalt shingles are referred to in the trade as “3-tab”—that is, each sheet of shingles has three tabs or flaps, separated by quarter-inch grooves. They’re usually installed in flat, even rows and have a uniform appearance. That’s compared with architectural shingles, which have a layered and three-dimensional look.

On average, conventional shingles last about 15 or 20 years. Architectural shingles can remain watertight for up to 30 years, but such quality comes at a cost. Typical architectural shingles cost about 25% more. If you’re willing to shell out the extra money, there’s little doubt your choice would dress up the appearance of your home exterior.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 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.


DIY Pallet Potting Bench

Pallets aren't the easiest wood to work with. But with a combination of scrap wood and pallets, you can make your own DIY potting bench.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up - Wood Pallet Projects

DIY Pallet Potting Bench - Complete

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When gardening season is in full swing, there’s nothing like a trusty potting bench to help you reap the season’s bounty. Instead of buying an elaborate potting bench, you can DIY your own rustic solution from scrap and pallet wood. That’s just what Becky from Beyond the Picket Fence did—and the results are incredible! This DIY design has us in the mood to garden. Want to make your own? Read on to see how it’s done.

MATERIALS
- Wood pallet
- Painted wood trim
- Window sash wood
- Tongue-and-groove boards
- Old hardware (for hanging)
- Screws
- Power drill

STEP 1

DIY Pallet Potting Bench - Top

Photo: bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com

Using half a pallet as the tabletop, I built a potting table that is ready for spring.

STEP 2

DIY Pallet Potting Bench - boards

Photo: bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com

I filled in the empty spaces between the pallet boards with some painted trim pieces.

STEP 3
I created the legs from old window sash pieces and some found tongue and groove boards for the bottom shelf. Attach all your wood pieces using a power drill.

STEP 4
Even with the bottom shelf, she was still a little unsteady on her feet so I added a cross piece in the back which stabilized the table beautifully.

STEP 5

DIY Pallet Potting Bench - Hardware

Photo: bec4-beyondthepicketfence.blogspot.com

Add eclectic hardware pieces to hang tools from.

Thanks, Becky! If you want even more pallet project tutorials, see the other great projects she has at Beyond the Picket Fence.