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- How To: Custom-Build The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen
How To: Custom-Build The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen
Earn your stripes as a DIY and grill master when you build this outdoor kitchen equipped with a concrete countertop, built-in cutting board, and extra storage—all you could possibly need for your next backyard BBQ.
Whether you’re accustomed to hosting the big barbecue or simply enjoy the occasional family dinner from the grill, you’re likely familiar with the inadequate storage and prep space around a standard outdoor cook station. Rather than spending thousand of dollars on the latest all-inclusive grill station, build yourself a custom unit that’s comparable to your indoor kitchen. This DIY design incorporates any portable grill into an outdoor kitchen station that also features concrete countertop, built-in cutting board, and lower shelf—all mounted on wheels to move about easily.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Portable grill
- 6mm plywood
- 2×2 lumber (64 feet)
- Wood glue
- 2-1⁄2-inch nails (18)
- Cutting board
- Rebar (143 inches)
- Concrete (33 pounds)
- Plastic bucket
- 1×6 lumber (16 feet)
- Garden cart wheels (2)
- 2-1⁄2-inch screws (44)
- 2-inch metal brackets (8)
- 3⁄4-inch screws (16)
- Wood stain
- All-purpose glue
- Palm sander
Start this project by making the concrete counter so that, in the few days it takes to cure, you can turn your attention to the wooden base.
Our grill was 13 by 20 inches, so we planned the total countertop to be 20 by 44 inches. But the best part of any DIY project is that you can adapt the design to meet your own needs! Keep in mind: You need at least 3 inches of concrete all around the grill. If yours is no larger than 14 inches by 24 inches, you can follow along with this tutorial and simply adjust the inset to accommodate the grill. Otherwise, here’s the basic formula we used to determine dimensions for the countertop and, therefore, the outdoor kitchen cart:
Your grill’s length + 3 inches to the left + a 18-inch wide prep surface = Your cart’s width
Your grill’s width + 3-inch lip around front + 3-inch lip around the back = Your cart’s depth
For the rest of the tutorial, we’ll stick to actual dimensions used.
Since most of the countertop will be concrete, you’ll need to build a mold with interior dimensions that match what your plan. Cut your 2×2 lumber so that you two 44-inch pieces (the same length as the cart) and two 23-inch pieces (3 inches longer than your cart’s width). Arrange them on 6mm plywood—FYI, this will be the top of your concrete counter when you undo the mold—so that the two longer pieces are parallel and a shorter piece connects them at each end to make a box. These will be the walls to your mold.
Apply wood glue wherever your 2×2 pieces meet one another, and reinforce the corners by hammering one 2-1⁄2-inch nail through each end of the 23-inch cuts. Then glue the open rectangle to the center of your plywood and secure with nails, one at the end of each 2×2 piece.
Next, build a rectangular frame from 2×2 the size of your grill to hold its place in the left side of the concrete mold. Since ours is 13 inches by 20 inches, we cut two 13-inch-long pieces and two 17-inch-long pieces (which, when added to the two 1-1⁄2-inch-thick 2×2 sides, make up the 20-inch sides).
Measure in 3-1⁄2 inches from the left wall and draw a line all the way down using pencil, then do the same for each long side. Glue one 13-inch length inside the first penciled line you drew. Next, position the two 17-inch pieces parallel inside their pencil lines so that each have one end touching the 2×2 already in place; glue these to the 2×2 and the plywood. Finally, glue the second 13-inch length to the open ends of the frame and plywood.
We’re also integrating a wooden cutting board on the open side. Since the plywood will be removed to reveal the top of your counter, you cannot affix the cutting board to it with nails. Instead, place your cutting board in place first where you’d like it to set. We also fastened extra scrap wood behind it using nails to steady the addition as the concrete cured.
Next, prep a rebar frame along the perimeter of your countertop’s features to help strengthen the concrete; otherwise, you risk breaking the concrete when taking the counter out of the mold. Cut and lay two 43-inch pieces on the edge lengthwise, and cut three more 19-inch pieces to lay perpendicularly as seen above.
Two important things to know: First, the rebar needs to be totally connected wherever it intersects with another piece, so wrap wire at each intersection. Second, the rebars should not laid directly on the bottom. To prevent it from sinking to the bottom of your mold (and potentially peeking through the top of your counter), form W shapes with the wire behind the rebar at each intersection to help raise the structure from the plywood panel, then lay it into place halfway through your concrete pour.
Once you’re sure all of the wood glue has dried, you can start to prep the concrete. Fill a plastic bucket with dry concrete and mix with water using a trowel or a large kitchen spoon, carefully following the package’s instructions. Rather than make the entire package at once, work with several small batches at the time. The more concrete, the harder it is to mix—and the heavier it is to pour.
Pour each batch evenly across the entire mold, as if in layers. When you’ve filled the mold halfway, lay your rebar frame. Then cover and continue until your mold is completely filled.
Tap lightly along the edges of the mold with a hammer. This releases trapped air bubbles and ensures that the concrete is homogeneous. Let cure for a few days, or as long as the packaging’s instructions require. When ready, you’ll un-box a 1-1⁄2-inch-thick concrete counter.
Next up: The wooden base for your DIY outdoor kitchen. Cut four 30-inch lengths from the remaining 2×2 lumber to make its legs, and drill holes and screw garden cart wheels to the bottom of two. Washers and any other hardware included with your wheel will twist onto the opposite side of the leg to keep each from falling off.
Now, the four legs need to be exactly the same length in order to keep your grill cart level at all times. Since the wheels add a couple of inches to the two legs depending on the size you picked up, you’ll want to cut a some from the non-wheeled ends to compensate. Line bottoms of your four legs (wood and wheels) to determine how much needs sawed off, pencil your marks, and cut.
Space the two legs (one simple leg and one with a wheel) 41 inches apart and glue their tops so that you can adhere a 44-inch 2×2 across them. Reinforce with two 2-1⁄2-inch screws through the top at each end.
Next, measure 20 inches down and connect the legs with a 41-inch 2×2. Again, glue and screw into place (two screws at each end).
Repeat Step 7 to build the second side of your cart’s frame. In order for both wheels to be on the outside of the cart, build this second side as a mirror image of the first (see above).
Flip the two sides so that the wheels are in the air and on the outsides of the legs. Connect their top corners (the ones now resting on the ground) with 17-inch cuts of 2×2. Glue each into place, then use 3⁄4-inch screws to reinforce each corner with a 2-inch metal bracket—you want to make certain that the structure is strong enough to support its concrete countertop.
Glue two more 17-inch cuts of 2×2, this time 20-3⁄4 inches below the top ones. This time, drill two 2-1⁄2-inch screws through each leg into the new additions.
Stand the cart upright so that you can attach a bottom shelf made from the 1×6 lumber.
Cut the lumber into 40-inch pieces and fit them to lay over the 17-inch 2×2 support at either end of the grill cart. We purposefully installed the side 2×2 supports so that they were 3⁄4 inches below the 2×2s along the front and the back, so that when you lay the 1×6, it will be even with those 40-inch supports already in place. If there’s a little gap, evenly these three new slats to make it less obvious. Attach first with glue, and then screw down through the top, two into each end of every slat.
Brush on one to two coats of stain, depending on the color you want to achieve. Be sure to allow the structure to dry completely after each coat. Once the stain dries, apply at least two coats of acrylic varnish.
Now, you’re ready to assemble the two parts of this build.
First, check that the concrete top is dry. To undo the wooden mold and reveal your concrete creation, remove the nails one by one and pull.
Next, cover the top of the cart with all-purpose glue and place the concrete counter on top. Ask for some help before you lift: Its weight requires at least two people to carry the counter and flip it right side up onto the wooden base. Wait for the glue to dry before you continue.
Sand the edges and the wooden cutting board, if needed. Then use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away all of the dust from sanding.
The hole in the concrete should be exactly the dimensions of your grill, meaning that if you place your portable grill in right now it would drop through to the lower shelf. To prevent any damage to your grill, screw four 2-inch brackets (one in each corner) into the concrete as well as the wood frame immediately beneath; their open bottoms will hold the grill in place.
Pro tip: When you switch from drilling holes in the wood to boring concrete, change to a masonry bit and then work slowly.
Fit the grill into place in the top of your DIY outdoor kitchen, and get ready to turn up the heat! A job well done deserves a burger made to the same specifications.
Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.
- Major Systems >
- Save Water, Energy, and Money with This One Swap
Save Water, Energy, and Money with This One Swap
Installing a low-flow shower head can yield buckets of savings. Read on to learn more about this quick, budget-conscious DIY.
Believe it or not, showers use (and waste) more water indoors than any other single household activity or chore. In fact, showers account for nearly 17 percent of the total amount of water used inside the home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that translates to about 40 gallons per day for the average family; factor in the number of households in the United States and this routine hygiene uses up a whopping 4.9 billion gallons of water by day’s end. Whether your focus is on decreasing your water bill or conserving our planet’s scarce resources, you can take a big step toward your goal with one small change: replacing your shower head. Swapping out an old, gallon-guzzling shower head for an EPA-certified model can save your family an average of 2,900 gallons per year.
Wasting less water during each daily shower means you’ll spend less money on the water bill—a increasingly vital concern for the typical household. Indeed, the average monthly water bill has climbed 41 percent since 2010, according to Circle of Blue, a water-monitoring organization. But beyond simply saving H2O, a low-flow shower head can also shrink a second utility bill—your energy bill. “Less water out of the shower head is less water that you need to heat up,” says Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. And O’Brian isn’t just talking about chump change: According to EPA figures, the average family switching to an especially low-flow shower head could save more than 370 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power a house for 13 days.
So, does your current shower head offer room for improvement and the possibility of savings? “Shower heads installed prior to 1994 could have flow rates of upwards of 5 gallons per minute (GPM), which can be excessive,” O’Brian says. For comparison, all models made and sold in the United States after January 1 of that year were required to have flow rates that max out at 2.5 GPM—half the previous output—and some stand-out shower heads perform even better. Models labeled ‘WaterSense’ have flow rates of 2 GPM or lower, and are considered ultra high efficiency. To find out if you’re one of the many homeowners or renters whose bills could benefit from a switch, try this easy one-minute experiment: Place a bucket marked with gallon increments underneath your shower head, and turn on the water at whatever pressure you typically set for a shower. Time how long it takes the water to fill the bucket to the one-gallon mark. If water reaches that mark in fewer than 24 seconds, your shower head is putting out more water than necessary for a comfortable shower. This means that you could save water by switching out your shower head.
While early models of water-saving shower heads were plagued with problems, from weak flow to sudden temperature variations, there’s not much of a downside now. Updated designs corrected many of these past deficiencies, and today’s low-flow models offer satisfying shower experiences that are equal to, or in some cases better than, those offered by conventional shower heads. Low-flow models sport a selection of finishes as well as adjustable spray patterns and modes, with settings that range from a gentle mist to an invigorating massage. Better still: Water-saving shower heads are comparable to their standard counterparts in cost, and offer basic, mid-range, and luxury styles to choose from to suit any budget. While a modestly priced model can certainly get the job done, higher-priced shower heads generally include extras, such as a radio, rainfall settings, and handheld options.
“As with many products, do your homework before buying a low-flow shower head,” advises O’Brian. First, familiarize yourself with the two main types of water-saving shower heads. Aerating models mix water with air, creating a misty spray that gives the illusion of increased flow, while laminar-flow shower heads emit dozens of parallel streams. Because these don’t mix air into the water, they tend to retain heat a little better than aerating models. Once you’ve settled on a model to suit your household’s needs, installation is generally a breeze. “In most instances, you simply shut off the water, unscrew the old head, and screw on the new one,” O’Brian says. “You might find an adjustable wrench comes in handy to remove the old head, and a little bit of plumber’s tape wrapped around the threads can help prevent leaks.” In less than an hour, you can have a new shower head in place. Your DIY project will start paying for itself almost immediately.
For help sifting through the variety of water-saving options available today, including models from industry-leading brands like Jones Stephens, Wal-Rich, and Zurn, contact the experts at SupplyHouse.com.
This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Lawn & Garden >
- So You Want to… Hang a Porch Swing
So You Want to… Hang a Porch Swing
Before you can relax on the ultimate piece of folksy outdoor furniture, you’d better read up on the basics.
A porch swing symbolizes one thing: leisure. That’s why it became such a popular fixture in the mid-19th century and why it retains its appeal today. There are various ways to enjoy its simple charm—whether curling up with a good book or exercising your legs while chatting with loved ones—but first you’ve got to pick the perfect place, confirm its structural integrity, and familiarize yourself with installation. Ahead, your porch swing primer!
Choose a size and a spot. A porch swing can be a single-occupant hanging chair, or it can be wide enough to hold several people. A 4-foot swing comfortably sits two adults, but swings also come in 6- and 8-foot lengths. Decide how many people might typically pile on at the same time, allowing 2 feet per person.
As to placement, find a spot below a sturdy beam or joist that allows an arc—the distance the swing travels back and forth—of no less than 4 feet. An ideal place would have 3 to 4 feet of empty space fore and aft of the swing and at least 14 inches of clearance on each side. The swing should hang at least 17 inches from the floor so the average occupant’s feet can touch the floor.
Also consider the view. If you wish to admire your front yard and easily wave to neighbors, position the swing to face forward; if you prefer a more private space for reading, contemplation and intimate conversation, consider aligning the swing sideways.
Consider structure and safety. The beam or joist that supports the swing’s hardware—and the fasteners themselves—must be sturdy enough to bear at least 500 pounds. Never install swing supports in something as flimsy as plywood or bead board. A single 2×6 load-bearing joist or beam can support a two-person swing, but a 2×8 is even stronger.
A porch swing hanger kit comes with the proper hardware; if gathering the hardware yourself, however, make sure it’s made of galvanized or stainless steel to withstand the elements. If you use a rope instead of a chain, it should be marine-grade braided nylon or polyester.
Get familiar with installation. Porch swings hang from either two-chain and four-chain suspension systems. The former design has one chain on each side that branches into two separate chains that attach to the front and back of the armrest. Others use four separate chains; the fasteners on each side support two separate chains—one that connects to the front of the swing and one that connects to the back or bottom.
You also have a choice of fasteners. Porch swing hangers made specifically for this purpose include a base, hook, and comfort spring. Or you can use eye bolts or S-hooks that have 4- to 6-inch shafts. Install the fasteners 2 to 4 inches wider than the swing’s length at each end to prevent the chains from rubbing against the swing and to better distribute weight. When installing the fasteners, drill a pilot hole that’s slightly smaller than the hardware so you have a snug, secure fit.
No porch? No problem! You can also be a swinger if your porch’s beams or joists are inadequate. Simply hang a porch swing from a stand-alone frame or turn to that trusty oak or other hardwood tree with a thick, strong, healthy limb. Loop each chain around the limb and secure it with a large, weather-resistant bolt. To protect the branch from wear, wrap a rubber hose around the chain where it loops around the branch.
Inspect your swing at least once a year. Check the seat for splinters or loose parts and repair. Also replace any fasteners that seem rusty or worn. But right now, kick back and relax!
- Major Systems >
- The New Cool: 3 Ways Air Conditioning Has Changed for the Better
The New Cool: 3 Ways Air Conditioning Has Changed for the Better
Like so many other technologies, central air conditioning has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Delivering enhanced efficiency, unprecedented performance, and "stays out of your way" unobtrusiveness, the latest cooling systems are very cool indeed.
How did we live before air conditioning? In some regions, it’s not even a nice-to-have amenity, but a virtual necessity for survival. Everywhere else, homeowners rely on AC for much-needed mid-summer heat relief, and they have done so for decades. Of course, central air conditioning hasn’t always been the fine-tuned yet affordable convenience we know today. Even recently, over the last dozen or so years, we’ve seen the technology advance, like so many others, by leaps and bounds. If it’s been ages since you last surveyed the air conditioner market, therefore, “You might be very pleasantly surprised,” says David Kenyon, a product manager with Sears Home Services. With energy costs on the rise and concern mounting for the environment, HVAC equipment manufacturers have responded by launching lines that boast, not only exemplary efficiency, but much-improved performance all around. In the past, you may have resisted the temptation to install central air, or you may now be considering an upgrade your current system. Either way, you already know there’s nothing better than AC this time of year. But to find out why the latest AC equipment outperforms what came before, continue reading now.
1. MORE COMFORTABLE
It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity: There’s a lot of truth to that old aphorism. Go out on a high-humidity day, and you feel discomfort right away. Retreat back into the air conditioning, though, and you may not always get relief. It depends on the age of your system. According to Kenyon of Sears Home Services, previous generations of AC technology can maintain the set temperature but often fail to mitigate humidity. That’s why, in a room cooled by an older system, you may feel clammy and “never fully at ease,” as Kenyon puts it. Nowadays, it’s a much different story. The latest systems are considerably more adept at controlling the moisture content of air, largely thanks to a new type of HVAC component, the modulating condenser. Kenyon explains, “Modulating condensers monitor conditions in the home and self-adjust to keep humidity within a comfortable range.” In other words, many of the latest air conditioners now works against, not only sweltering heat, but discomfiting moisture as well. “That’s a big step up in terms in comfort,” Kenyon points out. An added bonus: Lower humidity usually means you can set the thermostat a bit higher, cutting consumption and saving energy dollars in the process.
2. MORE EFFICIENT
“There’s a night-and-day difference between the average efficiency of air conditioners today versus the average twenty or even ten years ago,” Kenyon says. In fact, efficiency has improved so much and so quickly that the traditional rating system has struggled to keep pace. Pros and consumers alike have long relied on the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating to understand the efficiency of a given HVAC component, relative to others. “It wasn’t so long ago that you would see SEER ratings between 4 and 10,” Kenyon remarks. Flash forward: Today, many air conditioners boast markedly higher SEER ratings, from around 14 up to as high as 26—numbers that Kenyon deems “off the charts!” Even so, it’s key to remember that home energy efficiency depends, not only on the SEER rating of the cooling appliance, but on a host of interconnected factors. Be sure to work with HVAC specialists that look at the bigger picture. For instance, before Sears Home Services considers a job complete, its experts study and make recommendations on an array of factors, from the condition of ductwork to the amount and quality of insulation. “For maximum efficiency, everything needs to work together,” Kenyon concludes.
3. MORE DISCREET
Up to now, home cooling has typically entailed one or another type of sacrifice. In exchange for the benefits of central air conditioning, you would put up with its considerable downsides, including noise and compromised air quality. Here’s the good news: Comfort no longer has to come with a catch. As Kenyon says, “The best of the new breed operate quietly, while promoting the health of the home.” Take the issue of noise. “Once upon a time, if standing near the outdoor unit, you needed to shout to be heard,” Kenyon recalls. But where newer models are concerned, a disruptive level of noise signifies, not normal operation, but a problem in need of repair. By the same token, filtration has come a long way since the days when cooling systems were notorious for distributing dust, pollen, and other airborne impurities. From pleated media-type filters to innovative electrostatic and ultraviolet ones, new options remove such particles—in some cases, even microscopic particles—in the regular course of recirculation. “It all adds up to more enjoyable, less obtrusive air conditioning,” Kenyon says.
For all but the most ambitious do-it-yourselfers, putting in or upgrading a central air-conditioning system calls for the involvement of well-qualified contractors with years of experience in HVAC. Don’t just flip open the phone book and settle for the first company listed. Instead, put thought and care into your search for the right pro. There are too many complexities involved to risk doing otherwise. As Kenyon puts it, “Even if you have a top-of-the-line system, you can’t expect peak performance, unless the components are installed properly installed.” Don’t know where to start? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Doing so gives you the chance to discuss your needs with an expert, while becoming an expert in your own right on all your different options. At the very least, your project consultant can explain the often quite generous tax credits, incentives, and rebates available in many areas to help defray the upfront cost of energy-smart HVAC. From initial planning to final installation and beyond, Sears remains committed to the lasting success of your project.
This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away Today!
Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away Today!
Enter today and every this month for a chance to win your choice of eight amazing prize packages.
At the heart of every kitchen, you’ll find good company, good food, and a lot of memories. Nothing says home like whipping up Grandma’s famous pie, or Uncle Joe’s award-winning chili. But even if you’re cooking up time-tested recipes, doesn’t mean you should use ancient appliances to get the job done. That’s why Cuisinart and Bob Vila have teamed up to bring you the 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away, which will award four winners their choice of top-of-the-line packages to complete their dream kitchen—and make new memories that will last a lifetime.
Today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST on June 30, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST July 31, 2016), enter to win your choice of one of eight kitchen appliance packages from Cuisinart. (See Official Rules below.)
Cuisinart products were first hailed by enthusiasts like Julia Child, who praised the company’s now iconic food processor as an innovative appliance that paved the way for a new era of cooking. Now offering an endless variety of world class and award-winning products, Cuisinart has become a household name in every home cook’s kitchen.
If you’re one of four lucky winners in this month’s give-away, you’ll be able to choose your prize from the following packages, each valued at around $800:
• For Bake’s Sake: 2-lb Convection Bread Maker, Chef’s Classic Non-stick Champagne Bakeware 6-piece set, 7-Quart Stand Mixer, flour sifter, Power Advantage® PLUS 9-Speed Hand Mixer with Storage Case, Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher
• A Breakfast Dream: Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine, Cuisinart® 4-slice Toaster, Vertical Waffle Maker, Frittata nonstick Set
• A Chef’s Kitchen: SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker, Pulp Control Citrus Juicer, Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven, GreenGourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Cookware
• The Total Set-Up: Cuisinart Hurricane 2.25 Peak HP Blender, Cuisinart Elemental 11 Food Processor, Juice Extractor, Premium Single-Serve Brewer, Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer
• A Night In: Cuisinart Griddler, The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker, Electronic Yogurt Maker with Automatic Cooling, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker, Electric Cordless Tea Kettle, Electric Fondue Pot, Griddler Elite, Electric Pressure Cooker
• Family Fun: The Cuisinart® Fruit Scoop™ Frozen Dessert Maker, International Chef Crepe/Pizzelle/Pancake Plus, EasyPop Plus™ Flavored Popcorn Maker, Cuisinart Griddler, Electric Fondue Pot, Cuisinart Smart Stick Variable Speed Hand Blender with Potato Masher, Vertical Waffle Maker, Cuisinart® 14-Piece Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized Set, 1 (one) Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set
• Caffeine Kick: Cuisinart Deluxe Grind Conical Burr Mill, Cuisinart Single-Serve Brewer, Cuisinart® for illy® Buona Tazza™ Super Automatic Single-Serve Espresso, Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, and Coffee Machine
• Keeping It Healthy: Cuisinart® CookFresh™ Digital Glass Steamer, Juice Extractor, 4 Qt. 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker, Cuisinart® Asparagus Steamer Set, Cuisinart® Food Mill, SmartPower™ 500 Watt Blender/Food Processor, PerfecTemp 14-Cup Coffeemaker
Enter Bob Vila’s 2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away daily to increase your chances of winning one of these amazing packages.
To learn more about Cuisinart and their innovative kitchen products, click here.
Bob Vila’s “2nd Annual $3,000+ Kitchen Appliance Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, June 30th, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Saturday, July 31st, 2016. 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.
- Painting >
- How To: Remove Paint from Plastic
How To: Remove Paint from Plastic
These four paint easy removal methods prove successful in any DIY situation, leaving your plastic pristine.
Nothing spoils the satisfaction of a paint job like drips and splatters on plastic surfaces, such as light switch covers, handles on uncovered appliances, step stools, and outdoor furniture. Hey, accidents happen—even to the most conscientious DIYers—so don’t despair. While it may take a bit more effort than a simple swipe to remove paint from plastic, especially if the paint has dried, the techniques below have proven to banish evidence of this common home improvement slip-up.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Mild dish soap
- Small bucket
- Clean rags or paper towels
- Paint scraper
- Razor blade
- Work gloves
- Vegetable oil
- Nail polish remover with acetone
- Rubbing alcohol
OPTION 1: Wash it off. It’s always best to address painting mishaps as soon as they occur. So if you spot a fresh spill, fill a bucket with warm water and dish soap, grab a clean rag or paper towels, and wash it off. Once the paint is gone, hose down the item or use a clean, damp rag to rinse.
OPTION 2: Rub it off. If soap and water are ineffective, chances are the paint has begun to dry. Now it’s time to hit the pantry for some vegetable oil, a benign, typically skin-safe substance that can help soften and lift paint. Put some oil on a clean rag and rub the spill, using a bit of elbow grease. Once the paint begins to “give,” employ a paint scraper and proceed to Option 3. If vegetable oil fails, don a pair of work gloves and try nail polish remover containing acetone. Pour on enough to cover the affected area, then rub and wipe with a clean rag or paper towels, repeating as necessary until paint is gone.
OPTION 3: Scrape it off. Your weapon of choice for unwanted dried paint on a flat plastic surface is a paint scraper. Starting at any corner or edge of the spill, apply the scraper as if sliding it underneath to gently “lift” off the splotch. Be patient and maintain constant, steady pressure; attack it too vigorously and you could mar the plastic. On a contoured plastic surface like a chair, use a razor blade in the manner described above. Just keep the blade at an angle to avoid damaging the piece, and remember safety at all times.
OPTION 4: Scrub it off. For truly stubborn paint spills on plastic, turn to isopropyl alcohol. It will remove without melting plastic the way harsh paint thinners can, but you should nonetheless wear a face mask to guard against inhaling fumes, as well as work gloves to protect your skin. Pour alcohol over the unwanted paint and scrub firmly with a rag. You may need to be persistent until paint begins to disappear. Just keep at it and your patience will be rewarded with a clean, paint-free surface. No one will ever know you had a painting casualty!
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.
- Tools & Workshop >
- Cool Tools: The Gentler Alternative to a Pry Bar
Cool Tools: The Gentler Alternative to a Pry Bar
Neatly remove door casing, baseboard, chair-rail molding, and more—without damaging walls in the process.
Removing trim is one of the peskiest aspects of a deconstruction job. Rotating through and manipulating various clunky, generic implements—crowbar, pry bar, chisel—is a total time suck that inevitably leaves you with damaged walls and trashed trim. You end up having to repair surfaces, and you can forget about reinstalling or repurposing that old molding that you just ruined. To the rescue: Zenith Industries’ new Trim Puller, which is engineered to easily and efficiently take off baseboard, chair rail, door casing, decorative trim—you name it—in a way that protects walls and preserves molding. And while you’ll love how it tackles trim, you’ll also discover plenty of other uses for this tough, sturdy beauty. So stop wasting time and money—read on to learn why the Trim Puller is your new go-to demo and restoration hand tool.
Smart, Specific Design
With the Trim Puller, there’s no more sweating over multipurpose tools that perform poorly. Its business end is four inches of heat-treated carbon steel that’s not just wider but also larger and flatter than any crowbar or pry bar, providing three points of contact instead of just one. Its ground bevel edge drives cleanly between the trim and the wall, while an integrated center wedge cleanly separates the trim from the wall, leaving both in good shape.
Quick and Comfortable
The Trim Puller makes short work of an otherwise tiresome, potentially painful and costly chore. Simply line it up along the seam where the trim meets the wall and hit the top with a hammer or mallet, creating a gap as the wedge drives in between the two, automatically beginning to separate the trim from the wall. Working at intervals (leveraging from side to side if necessary), gently separate the molding from the surface. Not only do you waste zero time switching between tools as you go, but thanks to the tool’s wide contact area and greater leveraging ability, it takes just a few swings of the hammer for the trim to pop off intact. Trim Puller also has excellent “feel”—solid but not too heavy—and its comfort-grip, impact-absorbing EPDM handle means you’ll barely feel the vibration of your hammer blows. The task goes so smoothly, your hands and knees won’t know you’re doing demo!
Trim Is Just the Beginning!
The more remodeling you do, the more indispensable you’ll find the Trim Puller. For instance, its leveraging abilities make it highly effective for taking off siding and flooring, knocking off ceramic tiles, and lifting carpet tack strip and edging. You can rely on it to detach decorative panels from doors or trim around windows without risk of damage, and remove countertops whether they’ve been nailed or glued in place. Plus, thanks to its center wedge, the Trim Puller can even be used as a temporary shim when leveling base cabinets for installation.
A tool tailored to make one of your least-favorite demo duties easier, that has multiple uses besides? Now that’s a remodeling must-have.
Purchase a Trim Puller from Zenith Industries; $29.95, shipping included.
This post has been brought to you by Zenith Industries. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Basement & Garage >
- The 3 Best Reasons to Upgrade Your Garage Door
The 3 Best Reasons to Upgrade Your Garage Door
If your garage door is bringing down the look of your entire facade, maybe it's time for a change—and what better place to start than with the high-quality doors and a generous new selection of styles, colors, and options from Clopay.
Every time you leave or return home, you can’t help but notice the garage door. But how often do you really look at it? If you’re like most, you rarely pause to consider the impact your garage door has on the appearance of your home. Indeed, ever since the rise of the automobile, the garage door has become the dominant feature of most home exteriors. Paint colors, architectural details, and landscaping all contribute to a home’s character, but make no mistake, curb appeal inevitably suffers if a garage door appears worn, out of date, or simply doesn’t complement the rest of the house. But this isn’t just about aesthetics. The right garage door can directly benefit a homeowner’s bottom line, both right away and over the long term, so a garage door should never be an afterthought. Instead, view a new garage door as an opportunity to give your home an instant facelift in a highly cost-effective way. If it’s been years since you shopped for a garage door, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much things have changed. Garage door manufacturers like Clopay now offer an astonishingly wide range of durable, low-maintenance materials and styles, with all the options you need to customize a door that will suit your home perfectly.
1. CURB APPEAL
When viewed from the street, the garage door can account for as much as 40 percent of a home’s facade. Because it’s so prominent, the garage door can make or break a visitor’s first impression. If your battered old door has seen better days—or if it never really matched your home in the first place—then it may be sending the wrong message about you, your style, and your priorities as a homeowner. By upgrading to a new garage door that perfectly captures your design vision, you can instantly transform your home’s curb appeal. As simple as that sounds, there are a lot of factors to consider. With its online Door Imagination System, Clopay makes selecting the perfect door not only easy, but actually fun. After you upload a photo of your home, you can experiment with different combinations of garage door designs, finishes, and hardware, so you can see exactly how each would look installed on your house. From timeless carriage house style doors to sleek and streamlined contemporary models, Clopay provides plenty of options. Because when it comes to curb appeal, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
2. ENERGY SAVINGS
In a busy household, the garage door gets opened and closed so frequently that temperatures inside the garage go up and down like a rollercoaster. That isn’t such a big deal in a stand-alone, rarely used garage. It’s a much different story, though, when the garage is attached to the house, or if your garage doubles as a workshop, laundry, or utility room. Here, the temperature matters, not only for your comfort, but also for your energy bills. After all, temperatures in the garage can affect those of adjacent living areas. Check your next utility bill. If it’s sky-high, your garage door may be at least partially to blame. Fortunately, there’s a simple, cost-effective solution—garage door insulation. An insulated garage door ensures substantially more stable temperature levels. In fact, on a cold winter’s day, an insulated door keeps the garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise, according to a study by Clopay engineers. If you’re hoping to raise the energy efficiency of your garage and your home, be sure to double-check the insulating properties of any door you’re considering. Another reason to opt for a door from Clopay: The company gives you the freedom to choose the type of garage door insulation best suited to your needs—polystyrene or foamed-in-place polyurethane (ideal for regions with cold winters and hot summers). No matter which you choose, you can count on greater comfort and savings with an insulated garage door.
3. RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Everyone knows that home improvement adds value, but from a return-on-investment point of view, a handful of projects are known to pay you back when it’s time to sell. It may surprise you to learn that out of all the most commonly completed home remodeling projects, garage door replacement ranks near the very top of the list in terms of cost-effectiveness. In its annual Cost Vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine reports that at resale the average homeowner recoups 91.5% of the amount spent on a garage door upgrade. Of course, maintenance goes a long way to safeguard your return. All garage doors require annual maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Take note, though: Not every garage door on the market is built to last, and some require ongoing finish upkeep to retain their beauty through the years. Look for insulated models constructed in durable, low-maintenance steel or composite, so you can enjoy all the benefits of your new garage door without any hassle.
Gone are the days when homeowners expected garage doors to do nothing more than open and close. Today, we insist on eye-catching designs that complement the colors and architectural style of our homes. At the same time, savvy homeowners know that the garage door can maximize comfort and energy efficiency. Finally, more and more homeowners look to garage door replacement as a reliable means of boosting home resale value. Times have changed, and in the modern home, garage doors play a central role, both aesthetically and practically. Let Clopay, with its history of service and commitment to American-made products and design innovation, help you transform the look of your home by giving you the tools and the confidence you need to take the next step.
This article has been brought to you by Clopay. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- Interior Design >
- Genius! Hide a Litter Box (and Its Mess) in Plain Sight
Genius! Hide a Litter Box (and Its Mess) in Plain Sight
If you own a cat, you know that taking care of a pet isn't all about cuddling up on the couch. Try out this clever DIY to transform on-hand furniture into a hidden litter box—and stop the stray litter and odors for good.
Cat owners love to spoil their pets, and why wouldn’t they? These cuddly companions with big personalities won’t make you feel guilty for streaming eight Netflix episodes in a row or judge you for skipping your morning run. In fact, there aren’t many downsides to caring for such an independent animal, but keeping—and cleaning—a smelly litter box tops the short list.
Dana, the all-star DIY-er behind House*Tweaking and owner of a Maine Coon kitten, knows the struggle well. Her initial litter box setup on the floor next to the dryer was much too accessible to her curious toddler, plus the odor practically overpowered the scent of fresh laundry. When researching how to make her own litter box solution, she found that most existing DIY plans required buying and converting new dressers and other furniture. Determined to make it work with what she had, Dana settled on starting with a tall Ikea Pax wardrobe that stood nestled into the corner of her entryway.
Compared to building a cabinet from scratch, converting the Pax was a pain-free process. Dana’s wardrobe already had all of the ideal features for a litter box cover: double doors for easy access when it came time to clean up, storage space for litter and toys, and a modern design that complemented the rest of her decor. All she needed to do was empty out the bottom shelf where the box would sit and add a pet door.
Adjustable shelving made it easy enough to raise or even remove the divider in order to accommodate a cat’s height. Then, using a measuring tape and a jigsaw, Dana carefully cut out a hole just large enough to fit a flap door. But the flap isn’t altogether necessary: If you don’t want to shell out for a pet door, simply sand the edges of the cut-out to remove any splinters and leave it uncovered for your cat to come and go. Door or no door, an entryway bench pulled up to the cabinet serves well to discreetly hide the litter box entrance from view.
The pet door Dana picked up on Amazon cost about $20, but shopping her home for everything else she needed meant money zero dollars wasted on new or used furniture to convert into a litter box cover. Secondhand, similar cabinets cost at least $30, and new shelving units would set Dana back $100 or more—all of which are still cheaper options than a ready-made box cover from an online retailer. Better yet, the custom enclosure reduces odor and keeps litter in the box instead of scattered all over the floor. As much as you love the prospect of not having to see or smell cat turds ever again, your cat might be the biggest fan of the litter box upgrade: Dana says her cat Cheetah “took to it right away,” and prefers the privacy of her custom bathroom to the old, open setup by the appliances.
FOR MORE: House*Tweaking
- Flooring & Stairs >
- How To: Stretch Carpet
How To: Stretch Carpet
If your wall-to-wall begins to bunch, wrinkle, or otherwise come up short, try this strategy to restore its looks, comfort, and safety.
Even the nicest wall-to-wall carpeting can start to buckle, ripple, or wrinkle over time when it loosens and lifts from the initial adhesive. Sometimes the carpet unfastens due to humidity, other times from improper installation. Whatever the cause, consider re-stretching your initial investment before you take a nasty fall due to the tripping hazard. Making carpeting taut again isn’t an especially difficult task for the daring do-it-yourselfer. In fact, this project’s most challenging aspect for the average homeowner is that it requires access to two professional tools: a power stretcher and knee kicker.
While the former looks like a mop with sharp teeth, it does the bulk of the work when either installing carpet or stretching out any wrinkles over spaces of 10 feet by 10 feet or more. All set up, the power stretcher’s head of teeth hooks through the pile and into the carpet’s backing on one side of the bumps and the base remains positioned on the other. Then, with a press of the handle, the power stretcher extends, pushing the two ends farther apart and stretching the carpet. A knee kicker possesses similar stretching talents on a smaller scale—perfect for dewrinkling in tight corners and spaces within three feet from the wall. Fortunately for the average homeowner who only looking to fix up a single room, both tools (which together retail upwards of $400) are typically available to rent by the hour or day from your local home improvement store, bringing this ambitious DIY project back to within reach.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Power stretcher
- Knee kicker (optional)
- Work gloves
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Pry bar (optional)
- Carpet knife or utility knife
Remove all furniture from the room. Don’t fret over fixed obstacles, such as built-in cabinets—you can work around them. Then, run a vacuum over the entire carpet; hoovering the excess dirt before you start will limit the amount of dust that shakes free while stretching the carpet.
Pull on your work gloves, and free the corner of your carpet from the baseboard tack strip by gently tugging with a pair of pliers. (Work carefully so that you don’t fray the pile fibers too much during the process.) Once you’ve undone enough of the edge for you to grab the carpet, set down your pliers and tug the carpet by hand away from the wall. Work your way along the wall for three sides of the room, leaving one side in place to anchor the carpet.
Beneath the carpet, the pad should lie short of (and not overlap) the tack strip and remain firmly secured to the subfloor. Using the pliers and a flat-head screwdriver, remove any tacks or staples that might secure the carpet to the padding—or a pry bar if they’re stubborn. Again, pull gently so you don’t tear carpet fibers. Leave tack strips in place unless rotten or moldy; otherwise, rip them out using a pry bar angled underneath the setting nails and replace them.
Brace the power stretcher’s base against a short length of 2×4 in front of the wall where the carpet remains attached. (When the power stretcher’s base pushes as its head stretches, the wood will protect your wall and trim.) Lay the machine, tooth-side down, perpendicular to the ripple or ripples. Increase the length of the stretcher’s shaft using extension poles until the head is about 6 inches from the opposite wall. Then, adjust the length of the teeth on the machine’s head via a knob or dial in order to sink them through the pile and into the carpet backing.
Press down on the machine’s lever of a handle to extend the head (teeth still gripping the carpeting) as the stretching begins. If it takes herculean effort to push the lever, you’re overstretching the carpet and could damage it. If it’s too easy, you’re not stretching the carpet enough to remove the ridges; adjust the teeth to let go of the carpeting, then lift the head and handle and start over using the appropriate force.
Continue to press the lever until you see the wrinkles disappear. Your carpeting should reach the wall, perhaps even a little further. Press its backing into the tack strip until it holds, and then release the power stretcher’s handle.
STEP 5 (optional)
Depending on how long the ripple is, you may need to reposition the power carpet stretcher a couple feet to the right or left of where you started. Repeat Steps 3 and 4.
STEP 6 (optional)
If you’re working in a small area or a corner where the power stretcher is too large to use, employ the knee kicker (pictured at right) to finish the job. Press the teeth of this old-school tool into the carpet 6 inches from the wall, and adjust their lengths so that they hook through the pile and into the backing. Then, place your leg just above the kneecap into its padded base, and kick forward. More or harder kicks will push the head forward and effectively stretch the carpet. When you’ve worked out any lumps in your carpet, immediately fasten the section of carpeting to the tack strip.
Before you move to the adjoining walls to reattach carpet to the subfloor, use a curved carpet knife or sharp utility knife to trim any amount of carpeting material that extends past the floor. Roll the surplus carpet back toward you and cut a straight line on the backing right about where the wall meets the floor. Be sure to leave enough material to abut or tuck under the baseboard—better to have more length than cut the carpeting too short to reach the wall. A yardstick or straightedge placed atop the carpet can help keep the carpet aligned with the baseboard as you slice.
Finally, carefully press the carpeting into the tack strips on both adjoining walls.
Now you’ve got flat, smooth, safe wall-to-wall to welcome you home again. Enjoy!