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Bob Vila Radio: Top Tips for Cutting Carpet

There's a huge difference between laying down and area rug and installing wall-to-wall carpeting. For one thing, the latter involves cutting the floor covering so that it fits the room precisely. These tips can help you handle that portion of the job with relative ease.

Installing wall-to-wall carpeting? It can be tricky to cut the floor covering so that it accurately fits the room. To speed the process and minimize hassle, remember these tips on cutting carpet.

How to Cut Carpet

Photo: shutterstock.com

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

First things first, know that a utility knife—a sharp utility knife—is the best friend you can have for a job like this. If you’re cutting carpet for a big room, it may be necessary to change out the blade several times before you get finished, but those little interruptions will pay big dividends.

Whenever possible, work on the back side of the carpet. The backing is flat, with no thick pile to get in your way. Outline your cuts with a marker before making them with the knife. And for the sake of accuracy, consider using a straight edge to guide your marker.

For trimming in around intricate shapes, use short, incremental cuts. Creating a cardboard template of the shape you’re aiming for can also be a big help.

Since walls aren’t always built perfectly on the square, especially in older homes, it’s best to measure both the width and the length of the room from a couple of different spots. Much better to be surprised before your cuts, not after!

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.

Meet the Detroit Couple Giving New Life to Salvaged Lumber

For these two artists, making custom furniture reveals their true passion for materials, craft, and their hometown.

Mutual Adoration

Meet Mutual Adoration—the power couple behind one of Detroit’s coolest furniture design studios. Wayne and Clare run a design house and experimental craft workshop in their hometown, building furniture from reclaimed materials. With degrees and hands-on experience in seemingly every art and craft, from photography to printmaking to woodworking and lithography, this pair have combined their powers to create truly unique pieces. They currently sell their custom wares regionally—and on Etsy.

The reason we started doing what we do is…
A couple of months into our relationship, Clare had an art show at a gallery in Southwest Detroit. She created a huge installation using abandoned wood that she had scavenged throughout the city. As we were taking down the show, there were a lot of beautiful pieces of lumber that neither of us could bear to just throw away. We added that wood to a massive collection of maple hardwood flooring that Wayne had stored in his basement. With a hoard of materials and some big ideas, Mutual Adoration was born! The name speaks to our love for each other and also the love we have for our materials, our city, and our work.

We started collaborating when…
Early on in our relationship, we talked about building things together. We each came with different experiences, talents, and skills. After fumbling our way through a few small tables, we got our first custom job. It was incredible! To be able to create together and make money was a dream come true. We quickly learned that to succeed we would have to trust each other and work hard. As we have done that the demand for our work has increased.

We love working together. Seeing our complimentary skill set click into place while creating beautiful objects is the best feeling in the world. And then feeling the love and appreciation from our customers is amazing. Not only are we more connected to each other in doing this work, but the connections we have made with retailers, clients, and consumers is so incredibly satisfying.

Related—7 Incredible Uses for Salvaged Lumber

We’d define our design style as…
Refined rustic. Our work is equal parts big city loft and cozy log cabin.

My first job was…
Wayne: I was in the final generation of after-school paperboys. From the age of 12 to 15, I delivered The Detroit News on my old Schwinn cruiser. I was the kid knocking on your door during dinner, looking for my $2 for the previous week’s paper. I think this makes me sound like I grew up in the ’50s or something, but this would have been the late ’80s.

Clare: When I was in middle school, I earned my allowance by helping my mother. She ran the theatre department for a high school. During their rehearsals, I would help out with props, costumes, and set design. Mostly I was just trying to impress the teenagers by reading poetry and song lyrics out of my diary.

Our main sources of inspiration are…
Our inspiration really comes from our city and the materials it provides. Much of our wood comes from various locations in Detroit, from abandoned homes, warehouses, factories, and shops or as salvage from remodeling projects. Everything is so steeped in history—dirt and rust, wear and tear by generations.

Mutual Adoration - Reclaimed Materials

Photo: mutualadoration.com

We have a deep reverence for the material and its past. The fact that we are working with wood that was cut into lumber over 100 years ago—and, before that, started as just little sapling trees in the late 1700s—is truly inspiring. Our clients also prompt the direction our projects take. Many of our designs have come to Clare in her dreams. She often wakes up with ideas and visions for products, and then during our morning coffee, we’ll make sketches and figure out ways to engineer her ideas.

The most challenging thing about our work is…
Doing it all! We just hired our first employee (the amazing Brenda!) to give us a hand with production and our online store. Up until recently, it was just our four hands juggling all the design work, production, material sourcing, retail and wholesale sales, website design, and the hundreds of other things running a business entails.

In the future, we plan on greatly expanding our wholesale and retail sales, which will necessitate bringing in more employees. Supporting our local economy is very important to us. Detroit has an unmatched workforce of skilled craftspeople and manufacturers. We plan to hire and train additional production and administrative staff and provide much-needed jobs, as we expand and the demand for production increases.

We choose our salvaged materials by…
We take them as we can get them, whether that means quarter-sawn oak flooring from an 1860s home slated for demolition or knotty pine paneling from a suburban bungalow. Any given week might mean hundred-year old hand-hewn beams from a rural barn, cast iron tool bases from a factory, or recycled paint and stain from someone’s basement. We try to find a way to repurpose whatever materials we can get in a way that respects the original form while providing new function, all while keeping waste out of the landfill.

Related—7 Incredible Uses for Salvaged Lumber

Our biggest DIY success is…
The Union Table. Our first Union Table was made as a wedding gift for some dear friends. We wanted a piece that was symbolic, as well as functional. The Union Table is a set of two tables that can be used together as a coffee table or separately as end tables or bedside tables. We create the piece as one, split it into two in a diagonal pattern, and then finish each piece to operate in a variety of ways. The finished product can unify a variety of spaces and, when put together, is truly beautiful. Two becomes one. Maybe a little corny, but we LOVE it. It is the piece that really brought our complimentary skill set together and holds a lot of meaning for us.

Mutual Adoration - Union Table

Photo: mutualadoration.com

Our favorite materials to use are…
Clare: By far my favorite material is knotty pine paneling. It’s beautiful, warm, classic, and abundant. In its un-refinished, amber-hued, heavily varnished state, it is reminiscent of dive bars and ski lodges. To work with it is a dream! It’s forgiving and versatile. The grain contains gorgeous dots and stripes, and, when planing or sanding, it smells like summer camp.

Wayne: I love old flooring. Quarter-sawn oak is my favorite. There’s something about it being stepped on, spilled on, and abused that gives it a beautiful look and feel. It might sound sappy, but when I run a dingy dark piece under the belt sander, uncovering the flecks and grain that was hidden under all the muck, I feel like I’m rescuing it and able to give it a second shot at being beautiful. I’m not sure that the wood cares, but I like it.

Our all-time favorite go-to tool is…
Clare: That would have to be my beloved Flex Cut hand carving tools. I am a printmaker and spent many years making relief prints from wood blocks. Whether I am making a frame, a piece of furniture, or carving a block of wood to be printed, these are my favorite tools for achieving a variety of marks and executing fine detail.

Wayne: I am in love with our new Grizzly 3hp cabinet saw. Most of our early work was done on my mid-70s Craftsman table saw, but it just couldn’t keep up with larger work or give me the precision that I needed. The new saw is like a dream.

To get the latest from Mutual Adoration, check out their website and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Bob Vila Radio: Prevent Basement Window Leaks

Don't blame basement window leaks on the amount of rain. Likewise, the problem probably isn't due to the age or installation of your windows. The first things to are your gutters and window well drain. Here's what to look out for.

Basement windows are great for letting natural light into subterranean space, but what if they also let in water? The culprit could be your gutters and downspouts.

Basement Window Leaks

Photo: ventanabuilds.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BASEMENT WINDOW LEAKS or read the text below:

Check the gutter running along the roofline nearest the window well in question. Check, too, the nearest downspout—that is, the gutter leading from the roofline to the ground. If there’s a clog in both or either one, then excess amounts of water could be spilling right into the window well. That’s not necessarily a problem in itself, but it might be a contributing factor.

If the window well was installed correctly, there’d be a drain at the bottom designed to let water permeate into the soil. If you don’t see a drain, dig down a few inches. If you still don’t see one, that’s a problem. In an exceptionally heavy rain storm—or in combination with a clogged storm drainage system—the absence of a drain could very well be the causer of basement window leaks.

You can add a drain, but it’s not the easiest of jobs. An alternative is to remove about two feet of the soil at the bottom of the window well, replacing it with crushed stone. Keep the level of the stone about three inches below the bottom of the window. That will help keep the water out.

For added protection, hinge a clear window well cover to the foundation. Being clear, the cover will still admit sunlight without inviting in water, too.

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.

4 Creative New Ways to Reuse Wood Pallets

Just when you think wooden pallets couldn't be any handier, a new book illustrates 35 new projects for the classic DIY supply. Here, we have a sneak peek that's sure to inspire.

Wood Pallet Ideas

DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde

Shipping pallets are easy to come by, often at no cost. And they’re easily broken down into separate, simple wood boards, the rough-hewn look of which many people love. Affordable and aesthetically pleasing? It’s not often that the world comes across a material that satisfies both criteria. So for the past several years, do-it-yourselfers have expressed their enthusiasm by unleashing a veritable torrent of wood pallet ideas, each more inventive than the last. We loved seeing what clever things clever people came up with, but from benches to daybeds, it starting to seem like we’d seen it all. As it turns out, we couldn’t have been more wrong. With her new book DIY Wood Pallet Projects ($19.99, F+W Media, Inc), Karah Bunde, the mind behind The Space Between, we’ve learned that when when it comes to wood pallet ideas, there are virtually no boundaries. Here, we take a look at four favorite projects from the book. For more, buy the book right here.



Wood Pallet Ideas - Wine Rack

Photo: DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde

Check out this simple DIY wine rack outfitted with storage for stem glassware. It’s the perfect conversation piece for any comfortably eclectic outdoor living area. Don’t drink wine? No worries—the same design would make for a rustic-chic magazine rack to be hung in a living space or a cookbook holder in the kitchen.



Wood Pallet Ideas - Wall Treatment

Photo: DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde

If you’re partial to nautical-inspired home decor, you know that rope makes a wonderfully easy and versatile addition to furniture and miscellaneous parts of the house, such as the stairwell. In the stunning wall treatment picture here, rope appears between the rows of white-painted, pallet-board paneling. Wow!



Wood Pallet Ideas - Shoe Rack

Photo: DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde

It’s an age-old question: What do you do with the space at the bottom of the closet? Here’s a simply genius organization solution: Build a shoe rack out of a shipping pallet. All it takes is six slats. The result is a stackable shelving system that can be easily customized to meet the demands of about any shoe collation.



Wood Pallet Ideas - Shutters

Photo: DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde

A simple set of shutters is an easy way to add a little curb appeal to the front of your home. Depending on the size of your windows, you might actually be able to use pallet slats, but this project uses new 1×4s to show that with a little sanding and staining they can end up having the same look as a pallet slat.


Excerpted from DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space. Copyright © 2014 by Karah Bunde and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Karah Bunde.

How To: Install a Dishwasher

Unlike the plug-in appliances used in rooms beyond the kitchen, a dishwasher must be hardwired and hooked up to the home's plumbing. If you're up to challenge of installing it yourself, you can save real money.

How to Install a Dishwasher

Photo: shutterstock.com

Installing a dishwasher may seem daunting, but with the right instructions and a little care, it can be a rewarding DIY. And with the money you’ll save by not hiring a professional, you can afford to splurge on a high-quality appliance that will serve your household well for years. A word of wisdom, though: To keep things simple, aim to replace your current dishwasher with a model of the same or similar size. If your kitchen has never included a dishwasher before—or if the one you’ve purchased is significantly larger than your existing model—sophisticated cabinetwork may be necessary to accommodate the new machine. That’s beyond the scope of this article. But if your new appliance fits snugly into the space left by your old dishwasher, these instructions can help you install the replacement within hours.

- 1/2-inch flexible copper tubing
- Tubing cutter
- Tube-bending spring
- Two ½-inch compression fittings
- Adjustable wrench
- Teflon tape
- 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch brass plumbing elbow
- Hose clamp
- Plumber’s strapping
- Cable clamp
- Wire strippers
- Electrical wire nut
- Level
- Drill/driver

If your current dishwasher is still in place, the obvious first step is to remove it. Before going any further, shut off the water supply to the dishwasher and cut power to the unit. To do this, you’ll need to shut off the power at the electrical panel by toggling the switch associated with the circuit on which the dishwasher runs. Double-check that the power is truly off by trying to turn on the machine. If the dishwasher doesn’t respond, it’s safe to move on by breaking the three connections that allow the dishwasher to do its dirty work: the drain line, the water supply, and the electrical supply.

With the old dishwasher out of the way, you can now prep the connections for the new unit. While the existing electrical wiring may be reused, it’s a good idea to replace the water supply line (unless the existing supply line is copper, in which case you can skip ahead to Step 3). Remove the old, most likely braided plumbing line, and begin snaking 1/2-inch flexible copper tubing from the front of the dishwasher cabinet to the hot-water valve under the sink. Once you’re finished, use a tubing cutter to cut the line away from the remainder of the tubing coil.

How to Install a Dishwasher - Isolated Appliance

Photo: shutterstock.com

Under the sink, maneuver the tubing as close as you can to the hot-water valve. To make the connection, it may be necessary to use a tube-bending spring, a small plumber’s tool that enables you to shape the tubing as needed. Secure the connection with a compression nut, which you’ll tighten with your hands before finishing off with the wrench.

Look on the bottom of the dishwasher to locate the channels along which the water supply and electrical cable are meant to run. Measure their locations with respect to the sides of the dishwasher, then transfer those measurements to the floor of the cabinet. Now use the tube-bending spring to shape the copper tubing so that it travels along the side of the cabinet and then runs along the supply line you’ve marked on the floor of the cabinet. Do the same for the electrical cable.

Your new dishwasher will have come with its own drain hose. Assuming you’ve removed the drain hose for the old dishwasher, go ahead and run the new one from the dishwasher cabinet through the existing hole and to the area under the sink. As you do so, be careful not to let any kinks interrupt the hose. In a later step, you will connect the hose to the dishwasher and the sink drain.

Enlist another person to help you ease the dishwasher onto its back. From there, you can more easily remove the panel cover at the base of the unit and access the water inlet, through which clean water will feed into the unit. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the inlet and use an adjustable wrench to attach either a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch brass elbow, depending on your appliance. Now, using the tube-bending spring, turn the flexible copper supply line so that it meets the brass elbow you’ve added. Where the two meet, the copper must run for at least two inches without any bends. Secure the connection between the tubing and the elbow by placing a compression fitting over the straight run of copper. Tighten the compression nut with your hands before giving it an extra turn with an adjustable wrench.

Turn your attention to the electrical cable (which may be left over from the old dishwasher hookup). Slide a cable clamp over the exposed wires, right where the wires disappear into the plastic or metal sheathing around the wire bundle. Then locate the junction box and remove its cover plate. Loosen the nut on the cable clamp and push the wires (along with the threaded end of the clamp) through the junction box’s hole. Once you have finished, use a screwdriver to tighten the nut again on the part of the clamp that remains outside the box.

Inside the junction box, use wire nuts to join the identically colored wires, white to white and black to black. If the wires coming from your home are sheathed in plastic (such as Romex), then be sure to connect—by means of another wire nut—the green wire (the ground) to the dishwasher’s green (or bare copper) wire. Otherwise, wrap the the dishwasher’s ground wire around a mounting screw on the junction box, then fasten the screw so that the ground doesn’t budge. Finally, fold all the wires into the junction box before screwing the cover plate back onto the receptacle.

How to Install a Dishwasher - Diagram

Photo: removeandreplace.com

Back in Step 5, you ran the drain hose from the dishwasher cabinet to the sink drain. Now it’s time to make the necessary connections. First, slip a hose clamp over the “sink side” of the hose, then fit the hose over the inlet on the sink drain. With plumber’s strapping, secure the hose against the top of the sink cabinet (or high on its rear side), so the hose arcs before it reaches the inlet. That U-shape is very important, because it prevents sink backflow from entering the dishwasher. Meanwhile, in the dishwasher cabinet, connect the other side of the hose to the dishwasher’s drain. This latter connection should be very quick and easy to make.

With the dishwasher in place, adjust its feet until the mounting brackets meet the underside of the counter. Check with a level to make sure that the appliance isn’t tilting to either side; adjust as necessary. Now use the drill/driver to drive screws through the mounting brackets, firmly securing the dishwasher in position. Replace the access panel cover at the base of the unit, which you removed in Step 6.

Turn on the water supply and return power to the circuit to which the dishwasher is connected. Don’t turn on the dishwasher yet; over the next few hours, keep a close eye out for leaks. If there aren’t any, take your new dishwasher out for its first test run!

Before & After: A Builder-Grade Bedroom Goes Cozy

When challenged with a bare-bones master bedroom short on personality, designer Jenna Diermann dreamed up—and built in—loads of rustic charm to match the home's spectacular mountain view. For the DIY details behind this total transformation, read on.

Bedroom Makeover

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

Shortly after moving into a 1970s fixer-upper in the foothills of Northern California, Jenna Diermann—owner of Jenna Sue Design Co, an online shop specializing in personalized art prints—got right to work making it feel more like home for herself, her husband, and two cats. The bedroom, in particular, lacked personality but held loads of potential. Remaking the space was no small undertaking. Dierman strategically divided the effort into smaller, discreet DIY projects. The result speaks for itself. For the benefit of others who might try to emulate what she’s done—and to satisfy our own curiosity—we asked Dierman to share what led to her choices and what she learned along the way.


Since you basically designed the room from scratch soon after moving into your new home, how would you describe the space when you first started?
Builder-grade basic beige. It was an empty box that lacked any character whatsoever, but it did have a large window overlooking the mountains, which was a great feature.

Bedroom Makeover - View

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What were some of the goals you had in mind for the master bedroom’s transformation?
To create a cozy, relaxing environment for our family to unwind at the end of the night. I think you can get a bit more creative in bedroom spaces, so I wanted something to reflect a little of all of my favorite styles—cottage, cabin, farmhouse, and rustic with a touch of romance. I also planned to add more closet storage space by creating built-ins with a designated vanity area for my jewelry and accessories.

Where did you go for your inspiration?
Pinterest is always the first place I look for inspiration—but that really just means other blogs, designers, and spaces that have a similar style. I wanted to let the environment dictate the direction. Living in a small mountain town filled with natural beauty meant more rustic elements like wall planks, ceiling beams, wood tones, natural fibers, and muted shades.

Bedroom Makeover - Beadboard Ceiling

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What was the biggest challenge?
There were definitely challenges within the DIY projects, but I spent a lot of time planning and scheduling each step so that we were able to stay on track. It all turned out very close to what I had envisioned. The most difficult part for us was (without a doubt) installing the beadboard ceiling, with the DIY beams coming in second, but we managed to make it all work!

You’ve executed so many skills in the process: ripping out carpets, installing planked walls and wood beams along the ceiling, wiring lighting…. Was this your first time doing any of these projects?
The beadboard ceiling was a first—and we probably won’t do it again without the proper tools and manpower! Between my husband Brad’s bad back and my 100lb self, trying to keep panels from falling on our heads, aligning them perfectly with one hand and passing each other the nail gun across the room with the other, it was a nightmare. That was a rough day. The square panel wall was also new and ended up being easier than I thought. It was also my first time designing, cutting, and installing door molding, which I am pretty proud of. It wasn’t our first time installing planked walls, beams, and molding/trim or wiring lights and speakers, but each time it becomes easier and faster.

Wow, you seem like a seasoned pro! What would you say you learned during this particular renovation?
There was a ton of woodwork involved, so I’m definitely more comfortable after this room renovation knowing what to expect now. Large sheets of hardboard/beadboard are more challenging than I thought; seeking out straight, unwarped boards can make or break a project, and I will always choose MDF when possible. I also had many opportunities to refine my table saw, miter saw, and jigsaw skills.

Bedroom Makeover - Plank Wall

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

The planked wood walls continue throughout your home—in the foyer and your studio, specifically. Do you have any helpful advice that you’d share with readers attempting to do this in their own homes?
By far, our biggest challenge with this has been knot bleed-through—pine is the worst! We weren’t aware of this until the knots started showing up a couple months after painting. We’ve tried repainting a couple times with no luck. Then after what’s supposed to be one of the best primers failed, we researched online and finally consulted a local painter who used PVA primer. It has only been a month or so since the last round of paint, but we’re hopeful! As far as the process itself, if you don’t want to spend the money on real tongue-and-groove boards, there are cheaper and easier alternatives (and plenty of tutorials!)

Bedroom Makeover - DIY Mirror

Photo: jennasuedesign.blogspot.com

What’s your favorite feature to the room?
So tough to answer! Aside from the view, I’m really pleased with the way my DIY vintage mirror turned out. I’m also obsessed with the beams—they just add such a unique feeling to a room.

Thinking about the architectural features added and room design, how did the renovation help you meet your initial goals for the room?
We definitely utilize the storage space from the wardrobes. I turned mine into a vanity, which I’d never really had before—it’s so fun having my accessories organized and displayed. Our bed takes center stage (it’s a King pillow-top and the most comfortable thing ever), so we never leave it when we’re in our room. And we like to use our laptops/tablets in bed, so the built-in charging stations Brad wired up through our storage basket “nighstands” are the perfect hub for keeping everything charged at night.

3 Easy Ways You Can Add Privacy to Glass

Itching for a home update? Here's an easy one: Frost window or glass door for a luxe look and more privacy. There's more than one way to go about it, so choose your favorite approach.

How to Frost Glass

Photo: shutterstock.com

More than a mere decorative finish, frosted glass also offers a practical benefit: Without blocking the passage of light, it adds privacy to windows or doors that would otherwise be transparent. While professionals frost glass through sandblasting, a do-it-yourself can achieve the same effect with one of three basic methods.

How to Frost Glass - Shower Doors

Photo: nyshower.com

1. Spray It
Believe it or not, you can frost glass with a special type of spray paint (Rust-Oleum manufactures a popular version). Applying the finish is easy. After cleaning the glass throughly and taping off the window or door frame, apply a thin coat and let it dry. Apply additional coats, if you wish for great opacity. And if you get tired of the look, it’s no problem: The finish can be removed with a glass scraper. Being that the spray paint comes at a low cost, it’s worth a shot if you want to frost glass in your home.

2. Cover It
You can also frost glass by means of a window film. It’s actually non-adhesive and works via static cling. That means it’s forgiving: If you don’t get the application precisely right on the first try, you can start over pretty easily. First, thoroughly wash the surface to be frosted, using glass cleaner and a lint-free cloth. Next, combine water with a couple drops of dish detergent in a spray bottle. Then proceed to lightly spritz the glass before applying the window film. As you go, remove air bubbles with a squeegee.

3. Etch It
A permanently frosted effect may be achieved through the use of a glass-etching cream. Such products are available online and in local craft stores. If you choose to go this route, take care in applying the cream and closely follow the instructions printed on the package. Basically, the process involves masking off sensitive areas and using a bristled brush to scrub in the cream. After letting the product sit for a period of time, you’ll rinse it off with warm water and then suddenly—and somewhat magically—there will be etched glass where there was formerly a traditional clear pane.

How To: Paint Plastic

Perk up dingy plastic by spraying on a fresh, smooth coat of paint in the color of your choice.

How to Paint Plastic

Photo: shutterstock.com

Whether your goal is to renew a faded surface or bring a new color into the mix, there are two main things to know about painting plastic: It’s possible, and it’s easy. Although there are traditional paints formulated for use on plastic, we recommend spray paint, as it generally results in a more natural-looking, less obviously altered appearance. If you’ve never spray-painted before, practice a bit beforehand—on, say, a cardboard box—in order to perfect your technique. Spray painting isn’t difficult to do; it’s simply somewhat harder than it looks. Most important, be sure to purchase spray paint suitable for use on plastic. Note that the same product may also be appropriate for wrought iron, ceramic, glass, and vinyl, so you’re likely to find another use for any paint that happens to be left over.

- Spray paint for plastic
- Mild soap and water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Painter’s tape
- Clear acrylic spray sealant (optional)

How to Paint Plastic - Can Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Proper preparation is the key to a smooth and lasting finish. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the plastic surface you plan to paint, using mild soap and water. Having allowed the plastic to dry, wipe it down with rubbing alcohol. Next, to prevent accidents and minimize cleanup, set up a protected work area, lining it with newspapers, sheets of cardboard, or a tarp. If there are any parts of the plastic you don’t wish to paint, cover them up with painter’s tape.

Hold the nozzle of the spray paint can about 12 to 18 inches away from the plastic. Start spraying in a spot slightly to the side of the surface, then move the can across in a smooth motion, stopping only once you’ve gone a few inches past the edge. Continue in this way, overlapping your strokes, until you’ve coated the entire area. Avoid over-spraying; paint formulated for plastic tends to adhere quite well.

For the best results, apply a few coats, each one thin and even (avoid leaving patches of buildup). You can expect the paint to be dry to the touch within only 15 minutes, but you should wait about 30 minutes before applying each subsequent coat. Allow even longer if you are painting in a humid environment.

This is optional, but if the plastic you’re painting will spend time outdoors, we recommend protecting the job with a clear acrylic sealer. Once you’ve given the final layer of paint plenty of time to cure, spray on the sealer using the same smooth, overlapping strokes with which you applied the actual paint. A single coat of sealer may do the trick, but there’s no harm in putting on two or three. Between each, allow 30 minutes of drying time. After the final sealer coat, let the plastic sit for two hours, then you’re done!

Bob Vila Radio: Prepare Your Garden Tools for the Off-Season

The cold season has begun in many parts of the country. If you're don't plan on using your garden tools again until spring, give them a thorough cleaning prior to putting them temporarily out of service. Here's how.

Once you’ve put your garden to bed for the winter, why not clean your garden tools before storing them away? TLC starts with laying all your hand tools out on the lawn and hosing them down with a high-pressure spray nozzle.

How to Clean Garden Tools

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WINTER TOOL STORAGE or read the text below:

You may need to use soapy water in combination with a bristle brush in order to dislodge dirt that’s caked on. It’s important to get it all off, since dirt soaks up moisture and promotes rust. Dirt also harbors pests that could infect next year’s garden.

Air-drying is fine, but a cloth can speed the process. As you dry the tools, remove any rust you encounter using either sandpaper or a stiff brush.

Sharpening is next. Use a hand file, working in one direction, to create a beveled edge. If you’d rather not do the sharpening yourself, check with your local hardware store. Lots of stores offer that service.

Finally, apply a light coat of oil to the tools, including an extra drop or two on the hinges of clippers. And don’t neglect the handles: A little linseed oil will keep them from drying out and splitting.

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.

Is Now the Time to Replace Your Windows?

Drafts, rotting frames, aesthetics—there are plenty of good reasons to opt for replacement windows. Let's add yet another: increased energy efficiency. Have we piqued your interest? Read on!

Photo: pella.com

If you’re too chilly to feel truly comfortable at home, your windows—not the weather—may be to blame. Drafts are chief among the many reasons to consider replacement windows. And while an immediate benefit of new windows would be coziness through the colder months, there’s a year-round incentive too. Drafty windows force your heating and cooling system to work harder to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. So when you replace your windows, you can save real money on your monthly utility bills, thanks to your home’s much-improved energy efficiency.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Technology has had an impact on every corner of your lives. While the great strides that have been made in computers over the past decade probably come to mind first, there have also been tremendous advances in window manufacturing. That’s why, according to ENERGY STAR®, replacing your old windows with ENERGY STAR®-certified products can lower household energy bills by as much as 7 to 15 percent. Depending on a number of factors, that translates into anywhere between $71 and $501 annually!

No single innovation is responsible for the superiority of today’s windows. Their improved performance results instead from a variety of new manufacturing methods. Perhaps most important has been the incorporation of multiple panes of glass. While single-pane windows have long served us well, they have their flaws. Double-paned windows insulate almost twice as well. You can even get triple-paned windows to maximize the efficiency of your home.

Some window makers, including major manufacturers like Pella, go a step further in their multipaned windows. By injecting argona colorless, nontoxic gas—into the space between the panes, manufacturers have improved the insulation value of windows that were well-insulated to begin with. How? Because argon is denser than air, the gas creates an all-but-impermeable seal between the home interior and exterior.

Meanwhile, Low-E, or low-emissivity, coatings have also gone a long way toward improving window technology. These microscopically thin, transparent coatings have been described as a ”sunscreen for your house.” In the winter, glass with Low-E treatment reflects heat back into the room, keeping it warmer. In the summer, the same glass reflects heat away from the home, allowing the interiors to remain cool. Low-E coatings perform one additional and extremely valuable function: They help block UV rays, drastically reducing fading of home furnishings due to sunlight.

Photo: shutterstock.com

Even window frames have gotten better. Wood remains a popular choice, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for its insulating properties. In fact, compared with aluminum windows, wood frames insulate 1,800 times better! Fiberglass composite frames are another good option. Although less expensive than wood, fiberglass insulates nearly as well—or equally as well—as wood. Plus, fiberglass doesn’t expand and contract like wood does. Even contemporary vinyl window frames are well worth considering, because their multichamber construction inhibits the conduction of heat and cold.

Aside from energy efficiency, replacement windows offer a range of other desirable features, including:
- Tilt-in sashes that make glass cleaning easier
- Between the glass blinds, shades and grilles for privacy and light control
- Prefinished frames
- Low-maintenance exteriors

And finally, let’s not forget that replacement windows can completely and attractively transform the look of your home. To see just some of the countless looks within reach, check out the Pella Photo Gallery. If you’re on the fence about it all, consider this: Replacement windows are a savvy investment. According to the Remodeling magazine 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, window replacement offers a high return on investment, with homeowners recouping about 79 percent of the total project cost upon resale. Not bad at all!

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