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Bob Vila Radio: Shush Your Slamming Doors

If slamming doors are a nuisance for you (or your neighbors), restore quiet with either of these easy, low-cost, do-it-yourself solutions.

Is a slamming door driving you nuts? Have you had noise complaints from neighbors? Here are a few simple and inexpensive ways to shush those slamming doors.

How to Stop a Door from Slamming

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Stick-on felt pads are a low-tech option. Available in a variety of sizes, they can be cut with scissors to fit. Once you’ve removed any dirt on the inside of the door frame, stick the pads to the part of the frame where the door makes contact. You can do the same thing with weatherstripping—and when you use it on exterior doors, it’ll help keep out drafts too!

Or how about installing a time-tested pneumatic door closer? These work especially well on screen or storm doors, with their bracket-and-piston design ensuring a slow, quiet close each time. Plus, pneumatics enable you to manually adjust the closing speed of the door, usually by simply twisting the piston part of the closer.

There are other options, in addition, which can help you stop a door from slamming. Check them out at your local home center!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


House Envy: A Cantilevering Creekside Retreat

A glass-walled addition to a California cabin affords a jaw-dropping view of the surrounding woods and adjacent creek.

Amy Alper Creekside Cabin

Photo: alperarchitect.com

In California wine country, a house-hunting couple struck upon a cozy, cedar-shingled cabin. Encompassing 960 square feet, the home sat nestled in a grove of trees, just a stone’s skip removed from Mark West Creek. Taken by the location and the many modest charms of the cabin, the house-hunters decided to buy the place, fully aware of its main design drawback. So before getting too comfortable, they brought in Sonoma-based architect Amy Alper to help devise a solution.

Built in the 1930s, the cabin originally served as the cooking quarters for a family who preferred to camp on the property. In the years since, subsequent owners had modernized the structure with a bedroom and bathroom, turning it into an all-season retreat. But while the cabin grew in size, it never grew to embrace its unique site. Except for a window situated above the kitchen sink, the layout afforded no views to the adjacent creek, the feature that makes the land so special.

Amy Alper Creekside Cabin - Living Room

Photo: alperarchitect.com

For the architect Alper, the challenge was to open up the cabin to its surroundings, without sacrificing the rustic feel, all while heeding a local regulation that limited new construction only to areas previously disturbed. She presented to the homeowners what turned out to be a winning concept. Where a seldom-used, beetle-damaged deck had been, Alper proposed a double-height, glass-enclosed living room addition that would cantilever from the building toward the creek.

The new steel-and-glass addition basically wraps around the wood-framed original. What had once been a section of the shingled exterior now divides the kitchen from the living room, imbuing the sleek new space with a sense of the home’s history. And though the project only added about 300 square feet, the floor-to-ceiling windows manage to erode the distinction between indoors and out, seeming to join the cozy cabin with all the forest acres beyond the glass.

Amy Alper Creekside Cabin - Exterior

Photo: alperarchitect.com

For more information, visit Amy A. Alper, Architect.


5 Things to Do with… Leftover Tile

If you were left with extra tiles in the wake of a remodel, don't miss our favorite ways to reuse all those spare squares.

Whenever you’re assembling materials for a tiling project, it’s recommended that you purchase a little extra—about 10% more than strictly necessary for the job. That’s why, at the conclusion of a remodel, even fastidious do-it-yourselfers may end up with lots of leftovers. Rather than relegate the surplus to a corner of your basement or garage, why not put the tile to work in your next DIY project? Scroll down to see five creative ways of repurposing tile in and around your home.

 

1. CREATE COASTERS

Reuse Tile - Coasters

Photo: instructables.com

You may be a diligent steward of your furniture, with a pledged commitment to the use of coasters. Still, your home’s wood surfaces won’t be safe from damage until every household member follows your lead. To make responsibility more fun, encourage the family to photo-personalize a set of tile coasters. Here’s how.

 

2. CUSTOMIZE YOUR KITCHEN

Reuse Tile - Backsplash

Photo: shutterstock.com

Here’s a high-impact way to dress up a rental kitchen. Whereas a backsplash normally installs directly to the wall, you can, as a non-permanent solution, adhere your choice of tiles to a panel of medium-density fiberboard. Wall-mount the panel, not the tile, and when it’s time to move out, simple remove your handiwork.

 

3. BUILD A BIRDHOUSE

Reuse Tile - Birdhouse

Photo: instructables.com

Welcome birds to your backyard with an all-season feeder. Though porcelain or ceramic tiles could be used theoretically, the example here boasts a quartet of linoleum tiles. Having been decoratively painted, the tiles were set into the metal frame of a salvaged lantern. For the step-by-step details, visit Instructables.

 

4. ADDRESS YOUR VISITORS

Reuse Tile - House Number

Photo: instructables.com

When announcing your home to visitors, ensure the street number remains legible even after nightfall. Glow-in-the-dark paint provides an easy way to do so. In this project, the tiles are held securely, but are not fixed in place, by two rabbeted boards. Move the rightmost tile, and you find a clever cut-out for a spare key!

 

5. MAKE A MOSAIC

Reuse Tile - Mosaic

Photo: shutterstock.com

Looking to blow off a little steam? Haul out your leftover tiles! After donning safety goggles, go ahead and hammer the tiles into pieces of irregular size and shape. Now you’ve got plenty of material with which to design mosaics for tabletops, counters, or garden path stepping stones—get instructions for the latter right here.


Now You Need Only 1 Remote—Your Cell Phone

Rather than put up with the chaotic gaggle of remote controls on your coffee table, you can switch to using a single sleek device (hint: it's probably in your pocket right now)!

Blumoo Universal Remote

Photo: blumoo.com

Though a half dozen remote controls clutter your coffee table at any given time, doesn’t it always seem like the one you need is nowhere to be found? With a new smart home product, the Blumoo Universal Remote, you can once and for all eliminate the unsightly arsenal of clickers bringing down the look of your living room or den. The quietly revolutionary Blumoo and its companion app manage to pack the power of all your many different remotes into a single device—your smartphone. If you’re like me and always carry your phone all the time, you’ll never again need to go hunting in the sofa cushions; the remote is in your pocket!

Blumoo Universal Remote - Companion App

Photo: blumoo.com

It’s impressive technology. Although it doesn’t work for every television, stereo amplifier, and DVD player in the history of electronics, Blumoo recognizes an ever-expanding group of more than 200,000 models. Once you’ve downloaded the free Blumoo app, you can then begin to use your iPhone or Android mobile device to perform the most useful functions of your regular remotes—switching gear on and off, for instance, or turning the volume up and down—from up to 150 feet away. On the app, you can even scan local TV listings and take advantage of an option that enables you to create a single-screen custom remote for all your A/V equipment.

Blumoo Universal Remote - Device Close-up

Photo: blumoo.com

Another neat trick Blumoo can do: So long as you hook it up to your stereo system, you can stream music from your mobile device to your speakers. The necessary RCA cable comes with your purchase. Of course, Blumoo isn’t cheap, but if you’re sick and tired of traditional remote controls, it may be well worth the cost.

If any of your system components are not among the 200,000 currently supported, you can request that the model be added to the Blumoo database. According to Blumoo, additions are possible within a couple days. Also note that not every mobile device has Blumoo-compatible hardware and software. You need an iPhone 4S or newer; fifth-generation iPod Touch or newer; third-generation iPad or newer; or a device running version 4.0 (or later) of the Android operating system.

Purchase the Blumoo Home Theater Universal Remote Control, $129.99


Genius! DIY Portable Fire Pit

A streamlined, modern fire pit makes your outdoor living area look like a million bucks, and it costs only $25 to make.

DIY Portable Fire Pit

Photo: theartofdoingstuff.com

Karen loves fires—summer bonfires, barbecues, and winter evenings spent ’round the living room hearth. Even so, she’d hesitated to add a fire pit to her backyard patio. But when she saw a portable fire pit her sister had made, Karen realized that during the so-called “shoulder” months—March, for example, or September—a small, portable fire feature would not be an eye-catching decorative addition to her outdoor living space, but would also afford a few extra weeks of patio season.

On her blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, Karen provides a step-by-step tutorial for building a DIY portable fire pit that looks about $300 more expensive than it actually costs to assemble—$25. The patinated metal base of the fire pit actually started out as planter. Karen got hers on sale at a garden center. Meanwhile, the glass components are repurposed from a quartet of cheap picture frames that were lying around her house, as if it waiting patiently for a second chance in life.

DIY Portable Fire Pit - Process Shot

Photo: theartofdoingstuff.com

With clear marine silicone (available at hardware stores and home centers), Karen adhered the glass panels both to each other and to the planter base. Then, having measured the space within the chamber, she cut a piece of metal mesh that would fit perfectly inside. Before placing in the mesh, though, Karen added her secret ingredient, gel fuel. Sold in small, low-cost canisters, gel fuel burns cleanly, and though it produces no smoke, its flames look convincingly like those of a genuine wood fire. The mesh layer separates the pebbles from the gel, while concealing the canister even from those standing right next to the fire pit. To ignite the gel, simply inch the pebbles aside and administer a flame by means of a long kitchen match—or take a cue from Karen, who likes to use a spaghetti strand!

If you enjoy splitting wood, hauling logs, and disposing of ashes—tasks often entailed by a traditional fire pit—this isn’t the DIY for you. But if you love the minimal maintenance requirements of Karen’s version, her ingenious tabletop version, clean-lined and modern, may be the perfect addition to your deck, porch, or patio.

FOR MORE: The Art of Doing Stuff

DIY Portable Fire Pit - Close Up View

Photo: theartofdoingstuff.com


Get More from Your Garage: Top Tips for Strategic Storage

Corral the chaos in your garage and turn the space into a convenient, efficient storage area with careful planning and, contrary to your fears, only a reasonable amount of effort.

Garage Storage Ideas

Photo: villagebuilders.ca

Is it starting to seem like there’s no storage space left in your house? Is every closet, cabinet, and drawer totally crammed? Well, the solution to your storage woes may be as close as your garage. Sure, it’s already housing your tools and gardening gear, and maybe even your car, but the average garage can fit more boxes and bins than most rooms inside the house. With planning, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall into an efficient, well-organized household annex.

Birds of a Feather
First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you’ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort what’s left into groups. Items used together ought to be stored together. Where possible, place like items into stackable, clear plastic containers with lids. (Opaque bins work in a pinch—just be sure to label each one.) These will keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.

Garage Storage Ideas - Wall Shelving

Photo: containerstore.com

Location, Location, Location
Efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. For instance, are there certain items in the garage that you’re likely to need on a regular basis? If so, locate these items near the door so that retrieving them only requires a quick and painless trip. Meanwhile, stash rarely used or seasonal items, such as sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.

Climb the Walls
In many garages, there’s a simple key to staying organized and making the most of every inch: keep things off the floor. By capitalizing on the wall space, you can fit more into your garage without sacrificing access. What type of wall storage you choose ultimately depends on your needs, budget, and preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:

Pegboard. Inexpensive and easy to install, pegboard has been a garage storage favorite for generations. By outfitting your pegboard with a custom combination of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, you can use this utilitarian method to store and organize just about anything of modest weight.

Open shelving. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open shelves are affordable, versatile, and user-friendly. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding the heavier items on your storage radar (unlike pegboard).

Closed cabinetry. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be most desirable, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Keep in mind, however, that cabinets—customizable, with countless material and style options—generally cost more than other solutions. And being unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.

Panelized systems. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons (e.g., hooks and shelves). Though panelized systems can handle heavy and awkwardly sized items, that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some products require pro installation.

Moving On Up
For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the garage door.

A Note on Safety
As you sort and reorganize the pieces in your garage, keep safety top of mind. It can be dangerous to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy. Likewise, if you have children or pets, you should store hazardous materials and power tools far out of reach or, ideally, inside a locked cabinet.


Bob Vila Radio: Is Softwood Flooring Right for Your Remodel?

Everyone knows that hardwood flooring comes with a hefty price tag attached. If you're on a budget, don't forget to consider lower-cost softwoods; in some rooms, species like pine or spruce make perfectly suitable substitutes for their denser cousins.

Think wood flooring has to strain your remodeling budget? Think again! Though hardwood flooring typically costs a pretty penny, softwood flooring—such as pine, cedar, or spruce—can be had for a lot less.

Softwood Flooring

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SOFTWOOD FLOORING or read the text below:

There’s a tradeoff, of course. The main drawback of softwood floors is that they are, well, soft. That means they’re more susceptible to scratches from foot traffic and dents from stuff you drop. However, much of that sort of damage can be minimized with a few layers of polyurethane. And besides, a lot of folks like for a floor to show signs of wear, feeling that it adds a dose of rustic charm to the home.

One other plus of opting for softwood floors: They’re generally more environmentally friendly than hardwoods. That’s because softwood trees tend to grow more quickly and thus can be sustainably farmed.

If that sounds appealing—and you don’t think you’ll mind a bit of natural “antiquing” over the years—then softwood flooring may be a good choice.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The DIY Planter Competition Starts Today

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

DIY Planters

Spring is on the way. And after this winter, many of us couldn’t be more relieved. If you have spring fever, one of the best projects to DIY is to make your own planter box. But you need not stick to traditional wood window boxes. This month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competitors take the DIY planter to fresh and new places.

SEE ALL PROJECTS

Whether you like the look of wood, concrete, or stone, this month’s bloggers have something that will surely interest you. They all require different levels of skill—but they all deserve points for creativity. And they’re all eligible to be this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner and take home the prize—a $250 gift card from True Value.

Each of these projects gets the Bob Vila stamp of approval, but only one can win. That’s why we need you to vote now and each day this month for your favorite projects. After all, it’s your vote that will determine who will be this month’s winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up blogger.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger! Read more about 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: Patch Carpet

If a section of your carpet has seen better days, why not patch it rather than replace the entire thing? Here's how.

How to Patch Carpet

Photo: shutterstock.com

Carpeting inevitably undergoes wear and tear, whether from foot traffic or the accidents of everyday life. If those fraying, discoloring factors have concentrated in one particular section of your carpet, you can patch the installation rather than replace the entire thing. Properly planned and executed, a new carpet patch blends seamlessly into the original floor covering while enabling you to side-step the considerable cost of starting from scratch. To learn how to patch carpet, read on.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Utility knife and carpet patch adhesive (or carpet patch kit)
- Carpet patch
- Tape measure
- Heavy-duty tape
- Scissors
- Carpet seam roller

STEP 1
Gather your supplies. If it’s your first time patching a carpet, consider opting for a carpet patch kit. Available at hardware stores and home centers, these contain all you need to complete the project, including an adhesive and some cookie cutter-like tools that facilitate removing the stained or damaged area. Of course, carpet patch kits are not a must. You really only need a utility knife and an adhesive (the glue that’s going to hold the patch in place). Above and beyond tools and materials, the critical prerequisite here is an extra section of carpet that matches what’s already on the floor. If you don’t have any remnants left over from the original installation (and the style has been discontinued), you can, in a pinch, remove a section from an unnoticeable area, be it the closet or beneath a bed.

How to Patch Carpet - Floorcovering Texture

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Look closely at both the existing carpet and the patch. Is the pile biased in a certain direction? If so, you take care to orient the patch so that its pile direction correctly corresponds to the surrounding carpet. As a helpful reminder to yourself, draw an arrow on a piece of tape and stick it to the patch.

STEP 3
Measure the carpet area in need of replacement. If using a carpet patch kit, the included tools make it easy to cut a precise size and shape out of both the existing carpet and the remnant piece. Skipping the patch kit? Simply tape off a square or rectangular section of the stained or damaged carpet.

STEP 4
Using the kit tools or a utility knife, carefully carve out the carpet section you wish to patch, then immediately proceed to prepare the replacement. After measuring and double-checking your measurements, cut the carpet remnant to fit precisely within the now-empty area. For easier and more precise cutting, be sure to lay the patch face down and to cut along its underside.

STEP 5
It’s time to get gluing. Apply the carpet patch adhesive directly to the empty space, followed by the patch itself. (Again, remember to align the carpet fibers so that they lie in the same direction.) Work swiftly, if possible, as the adhesive is likely only to take approximately 15 minutes to dry completely.

STEP 6
With the patch in place, finish with a couple tweaks to make it look as though there’s been no repair. First, use a pair of scissors to trim any long, shaggy carpet fibers that might draw attention. Then, as a last step, go over the area with a carpet seam roller to blend the fibers and hide any visible seams.


How To: Remove Tile

Get rid of the dreary, dated tile that stands between you and the ideal space you envision. Here's how to tackle the tough job ahead.

How to Remove Tile

Photo: shutterstock.com

Though it’s not easy, removing tile is an early and necessary step in some of the most common, albeit ambitious, home remodeling projects. If you’re lucky, the tile was originally installed over a subfloor that can simply be removed, taking the tile along with it. Otherwise, you need to remove the tile in the painstaking, brute-force way. No special skills are needed, and you probably have all the right tools. The hard part is keeping at it until the job’s done. Follow these steps to do it right.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Hammer
- Chisel
- Floor scraper
- Broom
- Protective gear (glasses, gloves, dust mask)
- Wheelbarrow
- Heavy-duty vacuum cleaner

STEP 1 
Make no mistake: This is going to be messy. So before you begin to remove tile, go the extra mile to prevent dust and debris from blanketing the rest of your house. If your HVAC system involves air-circulating ductwork, turn it off for the time being and, if possible, close the vents in the work area. Open any windows in the tiled space and most important, seal off the doorways with plastic sheeting; that way, dust and debris will not escape. Of course, in such a situation, it’s only prudent to wear a dust mask. And because demolishing tile entails shrapnel-like slivers and shards, it’s also a good idea to wear gloves and protective eyewear.

How to Remove Tile - Hammer and Chisel

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
To get started, examine the area for a missing or broken tile, and begin the removal at this weak spot. If all tiles are intact, begin along a grout line. Set your chisel into the spot you’ve targeted and strike it, firmly and decisively, with your hammer. What happened? If the tile broke apart in large pieces, that suggests the tile was set with mastic—a malleable adhesive that’s going to make your life a little easier. If you put hammer to chisel and nothing much happened, that probably means the tile was set with mortar. Translation: You’ve got your work cut out for you!

STEP 3
With mastic-set tile, the job now becomes a matter of scraping horizontally, using as much force as you can muster, with the goal of separating the tile from the underlying surface. If you get stuck, go ahead and chisel again. Work from one end of the room to the other, scraping and gradually peeling up succeeding courses of tile. With mastic, the removed tiles actually ought to remain unbroken, which means you may able to salvage at least some of them, if desired. Pile the tiles into your wheelbarrow, then cart the load outside (in multiple trips, perhaps, depending on the size of the installation). Finish things off by using a brawny shop vac to clean up the residual dust and tile fragments.

STEP 4
With mortar-set tile, expect less scraping and more chiseling—a lot more chiseling! In fact, in order to generate enough force to break each individual tile, you may need to hammer the chisel onto it repeatedly. It’s laborious, and it’s even messier than the process described in Step 3. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that almost anyone can do it. The sole qualification for success is sheer determination.

To keep your spirits up as you progress, remember this: You’re saving money that you can now put toward new tile, or new fixtures, or a celebratory drink (or two) at the local pub when it’s all over.