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Bob Vila Radio: Lumber Grades

Did you ever wonder what differentiates the many grades of lumber you see at the local home improvement center? As it happens, there are only a few things necessary to remember. Learn more now.

If you feel a bit confused when you walk down the lumber aisle in your local home store, you’re not alone. For a basic DIY project, it can be tough to know exactly what the names and grades are all about. Here’s a primer on different grades of lumber.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON LUMBER GRADES or read the text below:

lumber-grades

Photo: shutterstock.com

The first thing to know is that no piece of lumber is perfect. That being the case, lumber grades are based on the number of defects in a board. The highest grade is called FAS, for “firsts and seconds.” After that comes “select.” Both FAS and select grades are good choices for architectural framing, molding, and other uses that call for long lengths of wood with few defects. What constitutes a defect? A number of things, including knots, bark pockets, decay, splits or holes.

After select comes “common,” which is suitable for uses that require shorter lengths of clear wood. Number 1 common is often called cabinet grade, since it provides clear boards in the lengths and widths needed for kitchen cabinets. Meanwhile, Number 2A common is an economy grade, so expect shorter lengths without defects. For smaller projects, where long lengths of clear, straight boards are not necessary, number 2A common is typically more than adequate.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Start a Lawn Mower (and Troubleshoot Common Problems)

Starting up a lawn mower should be easy, right? But occasionally, particularly after a long, dormant winter, a mower can be tough to start. To get your mower humming along, follow these simple steps—and if it balks, try our tips for troubleshooting.

How to Start a Lawn Mower

Photo: shutterstock.com

Regular mowing is not only beneficial to the look of your lawn, but also to its health. Whether you’ve recently purchased a new grass guzzler or have finally dragged out your old machine for the new season, it’s not uncommon to be frustrated when trying to start up the lawn mower. Of course, different mowers operate slightly differently, but the following guidelines can help you start a lawn mower of the most common type—that is, gas. If you’ve followed the steps outlined here and still cannot start your lawn mower, be sure to consult the troubleshooting tips offered at the bottom of this post.

STEP 1
Safeguard the mower blades against damage by taking the time to remove all objects from the parts of your property given over to grass. Clearing the way entails not only picking up children’s toys and moving lawn furniture, but also addressing any tree branches that have fallen or rocks that have been unearthed.

STEP 2
Next comes a step that may seem glaringly obvious, but which, on account of its simplicity, some homeowners forget: Confirm the presence of oil and gas in the mower. Are you readying a new gas-powered mower for its first go on your grass? Consult the manual to learn the fuel and oil recommendations for the specific model you now own.

STEP 3
With the mower all set to go, press the primer button three to five times in order to channel gas into the engine. If, however, you’ve used the mower recently, you should be able to skip this step. Priming the engine is necessary only after a prolonged period during which the lawn mower has not been used (over the winter, for instance).

STEP 4
Notice how there are two handles on the lawn mower, each running horizontally only inches apart from the other. Press and hold these handles together, keeping them together as you pull the starting rope. Do so quickly and with considerable force. That action should cause the mower engine to turn over. Sometimes, as you have likely experienced in the past, it can take several attempts before pulling the starting rope achieves the intended result: a purring motor.

How to Start a Lawn Mower - Detail Mower

Photo: shutterstock.com

Troubleshooting Tips
You’ve checked and rechecked the mower for oil and gas. You’ve pulled the starting rope so many times that your arm is sore. You’ve flipped through the owner’s manual, muttering curse words all the while. At times, lawn mower maintenance can be truly exasperating. When all else fails, consider these possibilities:

• If you know that there’s oil and gas in the mower, but the engine still refuses to start, it’s possible that either the carburetor has flooded or the cylinder has become soaked with gas. (The smell of unburned gas is a telltale symptom.) Leave your mower on level ground for at least 15 minutes, which should allow enough time for the gas to evaporate from within the mechanism.

• If you are returning to your lawn mower after having left it to spend the off-season in your garage, any gas that was left in the machine may have gone bad. If you think that could be your issue, observe the mower the next time you try to get it going. Does it appear to start up, then quickly stall out? The fix is simple: Siphon out the old gas, replacing it with fresh fuel.


Staying Safe: 5 Home Must-Haves for Storm Emergencies

Don't wait for storm clouds—or warnings—before taking steps to keep your family safe. Here are 5 things you can do today to keep you safe and storm-ready should rough weather strike tomorrow.

Shutterstock

Photo: shutterstock.com

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to storm emergencies. Almost everyone knows you should have batteries and water on hand when the weatherman sends out the warning. Still, so many people end up scrambling at the last minute, with wind and rain bearing down, waiting in long lines at stores that are already sold out of storm essentials. Don’t get caught unprepared. Here are five home must-haves to keep you—and your family—safe should a storm emergency occur.

Energizer Weatheready Area Light

1.5-Volt Energizer Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light at The Home Depot for $17.97.

1. Light & Batteries. When the power fails, it’s essential to have an alternative light source—and the batteries to power it. Consider something that is compact, yet offers abundant light, like the Energizer® Weatheready® 360-Degree Area Light, available at The Home Depot. The 1.5-volt lantern powers an LED bulb and operates on either AA or D batteries. (You can also use it for camping or wherever an additional light source may be required.) Make sure to have an ample supply of batteries not just for it, but for flashlights and portable radios as well.

2. Food & Water. You should keep a supply of food and water set aside for storm-related emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day for each member of your family, and to store a two-week supply. If you can’t store that much, store what you can. You should also consider storing a two-week supply of food. Include foods that are high in calories and nutrition, and that don’t require refrigeration, water, or special preparation. Canned food, dry mixes, and cupboard staples are all good to stock. Keep your stores in a cool, dry place—dark, if possible. Monitor the expiration dates, and be sure to use things before they go bad, replacing as necessary.

Sentry Safe

Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest at The Home Depot for $28.97

3. Protection for Documents & Records. Storms and natural disasters can displace people from their homes, and sometimes destroy their homes altogether. It may be unpleasant to think about, but prepare for the worst. Recovering from disaster is hard enough—it’s even harder if you can’t prove who you are. Protect your important identification documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, adoption papers, passports, and naturalization documents, in something like a Sentry®Safe Waterproof, Fire-Safe® Security Chest. It will keep everything safe from water and fire damage, and, because it is compact and portable, you can take it with you if necessary. Other documents you should protect are wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and property deeds and titles. You can also store important DVDs, portable disks, and flash drives.

4. Plan for Evacuation. Should a big storm come your way, it may be necessary to evacuate. You’ll fare better if you are prepared, so develop an evacuation plan before your area is threatened. In devising your plan, keep a few considerations in mind:
- Be aware of low-lying areas on your evacuation route, and prepare for ways to circumvent them if necessary.
- Choose a destination to evacuate to that is outside of the affected area, preferably with family or friends who live close to your home, but who won’t need to evacuate. Hotels and motels fill quickly in evacuations, so if you do need to stay in one, make a reservation as early as possible.
- If you can’t get to family or friends or a hotel or motel, plan to go to a shelter. But be prepared to bring your disaster supply kit with you, and make arrangements for any pets, as shelters will not accept them.
- If you’re evacuating by car, be sure your tank is full of gas. Traffic jams are a given, and fuel supplies on the road could be very limited.

3M First Aid Kit

3M™ 169-piece First-Aid Kit at The Home Depot for $19.97.

5. First-Aid Kit. Be ready to handle minor injuries, because emergency workers will be stretched thin during a major storm. Have a first-aid kit on hand, such as the 3M™ First-Aid Kit, which comes in a portable carrying case and includes bandages, gauze, a cold compress, scissors, tweezers, and more.

With proper preparation, you can ride out a storm or natural disaster in relative comfort, with a modicum of inconvenience. So, don’t wait for the governor to declare a state of emergency.  Stock up now, be ready, and have peace of mind.

 

This article is sponsored on behalf of The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila DIY Dollars Official Rules

Bob Vila’s “DIY Dollars Giveaway from InComm” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) separate, successive, random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on June 30th, 2014 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on July 31, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing per week will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The first entry period will end at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, July 10, 2014. The entry period for each weekly Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on each respective Friday during the Sweepstakes Period and end at 11:59 a.m. EST on the following Friday (each an “Entry Period” and collectively, the “Entry Periods”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online “DIY Dollars Give-Away from InComm” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of each Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing for that Entry Period. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for a Drawing determines the odds of winning for that Drawing. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winners will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings.

The prize for each Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be 2 (two) InComm gift cards valuing $500 each, a total value of $1,000. Gift cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. Gift cards are applicable to products only and do not include installation. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days from end of the Sweepstakes Period.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.

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


Starting TODAY–New Bob Vila Thumbs Up Competition!

Help us choose the best DIY mason jar project from among the six competing in this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition. Vote now!

Thumbs Up

Mason Jars

Photo: Ralph Barrera

Here at BobVila.com, we are always impressed with the high caliber of DIY projects that you accomplish at home. Whether novice or expert, every DIY enthusiast has a level of ingenuity that deserves recognition—so we’re doing just that. We’ve gathered some of our favorite DIY mason jar projects from around the web—and now it’s up to you to vote for your favorite in this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up—where the winning blogger wins a $250 gift card from True Value.

SEE THE SIX PROJECTS HERE

Blue Mason Jar

Photo: Saved by Love Creations

Summer is here—and whether you’re canning fresh fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden or relaxing on the patio with a pitcher of ice tea, you probably have a few mason jars on hand. Mason jars are designed for canning and make a great glass for picnics and outdoor dining—you can even twist on the lid to keep the bugs out. But mason jars can be reinvented for many other uses—including a wide range of DIY decor.

We’ve picked out six DIY bloggers who take simple glass jars to new heights as chandeliers or solar lamps, wind chimes and rustic planters—even a set of speakers. Feeling inspired to make your own mason jar project? Check out the tutorials from each of our hand-selected bloggers to learn more about how they hacked this humble jar, then cast your vote for your favorite project in this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.

Thanks for helping us recognize the great work of DIYers like yourself. Don’t forget to check back each day to help your favorite blogger win the $250 gift card from True Value and the title of the Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up winner.

mason jar chandelier

DIY Mason Jar Chandelier from

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Jaime of That’s My Letter. Read more about her winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Want to nominate a blogger for an upcoming Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition? Contact Bob Vila on Facebook or Twitter to be considered.


What Would Bob Do? Installing a Screen Door

A screen door is a great thing to have. It lets in cooling breezes in the summer and protects your front door from harsh weather in the winter. If you're in the market for a new screen door, or just want to replace the one you have, here are some tips on purchasing the right door for your house.

How to Install a Screen Door

Photo: smithandvansant.com

I’m going to install a new screen door. Any advice or time-saving suggestions on how to go about it?

It’s relatively easy to install a screen door, but to avoid hassles it’s imperative that you choose the right kit (these are commonly sold at brick-and-mortar home centers as well as through online suppliers). But of all the many screen door kits on the market, how do you know which one is right for your home?

For one thing, the screen door must be the right size. If you are putting in a screen door where there wasn’t one before, you must start by determining the dimensions of the door opening. Measure the width and height of the space within the door trim; do so at a few different points along each side (chances are things are not perfectly level or plumb). Now select the standard door size that corresponds most closely to the smallest width and height measurements that you took. If there’s only a small deviation between the opening and the nearest standard door size, filler strips can help you achieve a snug fit. If, however, the door opening is 3/8 inch wider than the nearest standard width, or if it’s more than 7/8 inch taller than the standard height, you are going to need a custom door.

How to Install a Screen Door - Detail Door

Photo: maplestone.biz

If, on the other hand, you are installing a new screen door to take the place of an older one, there’s much less measuring to do. Confirm the dimensions of the door you’re replacing so that you know what size door you need to buy. Also, note the locations of the hinges on the existing door. If the latch is on the right side and the hinges are on the left (when you’re looking at the door from the outside), that means you have a right-hand door, also called a right-swinging door. The opposite, of course, is a left-hand door. Your new screen door should match not only the size, but also the door-swing direction of the panel you are replacing.

I highly recommend opting for a screen door that comes preassembled. Installing these novice-friendly designs requires only basic tools and a minimal investment of time. The popular manufacturer Andersen, for example, estimates it would take the average do-it-yourselfer in the ballpark of one hour to install its “rapid-install” series 3000 preassembled models.

Here’s another tip to help you save time: Choose what’s known as a self-storing door. These designs greatly simplify the twice-a-year task of exchanging the screen for a glass panel and vice versa. In the manner of a triple-track storm window, the door integrates both screen and glass panels; you can easily slide one or the other into use as the season requires.


Bob Vila Radio: Front Yard Landscaping

The best front yard landscaping draws the line of sight to the front door and features eye-catching color and textural combinations along the way. Here are a few simple but effective tips for boosting curb appeal with trees and bushes, your driveway and walkways, and more.

Every garden needs a focal point; for the front yard, that’s usually the home’s entryway. When the front door is the focal point of your front yard landscaping, your home looks more inviting than ever. Here are a few tips for using plants to draw the eye toward the door.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FRONT YARD LANDSCAPING or read the text below:

Front Yard Landscaping

Photo: shutterstock.com

First and foremost, don’t hide your door behind large shrubs and trees. You want your landscaping to sweep the eye up to the door, not block the view completely. Position larger plants and trees off to the sides and keep them trimmed back to allow a full view of the door.

Second, don’t skimp on foundation plantings. A typical two-story home should have a bed about eight feet deep around the front to soften the view. Use plants of varying heights, different shades of green, and different textures to create an interesting mix. Use containers on the front steps and walkway to add variety and color, but not so many as to make things look chaotic. Keep it simple and elegant.

Finally, don’t forget your hardscaping—that is, the walkway, driveway, and other hard surfaces. Little things like changing a straight walkway to one with a little curve or flair, or allowing plants to drape over a wall, can have outsized effects on your entry.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weekend Projects: 5 Quirky Ways to Build a Bird Feeder

A DIY bird feeder will attract feathered friends to your yard and charm two-legged visitors of the wingless variety.

Whether you’re washing dishes at the sink or sitting at the desk in your home office, it’s pleasant to look out the window and see birds atwitter in the yard. You can invite feathered friends to your property—and help them survive difficult winters—with a bird feeder of your own devising. With only a modest investment of time and a minimal number of basic tools and materials, you can easily create a DIY bird feeder that will provide an enduring enhancement to your landscape.

 

1. TWEAK A TEACUP

DIY Bird Feeder - Tea Cup

Photo: elizabethkartchner.com

Here’s an offbeat yet undeniably charming DIY bird feeder design: Using strong adhesive and a cut-to-length wooden dowel, you can transform a teacup-and-saucer combination into a pretty pit stop for peckish winged creatures. Include a spoon too—it makes the perfect perch for incoming and departing birds.

 

2. HANG A CAN

DIY Bird Feeder - Paint Can

Photo: goodhousekeeping.com

Got any empty paint cans sitting around your basement or garage? Choose a small one, and coat its exterior in a bright color. Next, reach for the hot glue gun, using the tool to affix a 3/16-inch dowel to the lip of the can. Wrap and secure a strand of ribbon around the middle of the can, and use the ends to suspend it from a tree limb.

 

3. BOTTLE-FEED A HUMMINGBIRD

Wine Bottle

Photo: sierranevadacreations.com

Almost any bottle can become a DIY bird feeder specially suited for summer hummingbirds. Decorate the bottle in whatever fashion you please, fill it with nectar, and insert a hummingbird feeder tube into the neck of the bottle. Hang the feeder from a tree via chain, wire, or twine so that it points downward.

 

4. GET IN SHAPE

DIY Bird Feeder - Cookie Cutters

Photo: prudentbaby.com

Your kids would love to join you in the kitchen to help make this waste-free DIY bird feeder. Mix birdseed with plain gelatin and then put the mixture into a series of cookie cutters. Once you’ve filled the molds halfway, insert a loop of twine before finishing. Let them dry overnight, then place your creations at strategic positions around your backyard.

 

5. BORROW A BOWL

DIY Bird Feeder - Repurposed Bowl

Photo: ninered.blogspot.com

You must own at least one bowl that you hardly ever use. Why not take it outside and repurpose the dish into a DIY bird feeder? Decorate the bowl—or don’t—then drill a small hole in its underside for drainage. Finally, drill holes on three sides of the vessel, outfitting each one with an eye hook to facilitate hanging.


How To: Create a Gravel Driveway

A gravel driveway can be a classic, low-maintenance, and inexpensive addition to a home. It complements a range of house styles and—even better—is a reasonable undertaking for a determined DIYer. Here are the basics.

How to Make a Gravel Driveway

Photo: shutterstock.com

A gravel driveway can be very attractive in a characteristically unpretentious way, introducing casual curb appeal to the first and last element of your home that a visitor sees. Throughout the United States, gravel remains a perennially popular driveway material, not only for its aesthetics, but also for its relatively low cost in comparison with the alternatives. Furthermore, whereas poured concrete or patterned brick typically require professional installation, even a somewhat novice DIYer can install a gravel driveway successfully on his own, without having to pay for either design consultation or skilled labor.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Landscape stakes
- String (or twine)
- Gloves
- Wheelbarrow
- Shovel
- Rake
- Hoe
- Weed barrier (optional)
- Gravel

Though it’s possible to cut corners, a well-made gravel driveway usually consists of three layers. In this striated approach, the bottom layer features six-inch-diameter crushed rock, while smaller, two- or three-inch stones form the middle layer. Only the third layer, the surface, comprises what most of us would recognize as true gravel. Here, eschew smooth stones in favor of rough, angular ones, because these can be depended upon to provide a firmer, more stable driveway surface.

STEP 1
Using landscape stakes in combination with string or twine, define the path you wish the driveway to take from the curb all the way to its end point. Next comes a labor-intensive proposition: To prepare the way for the gravel, you must remove any grass or topsoil from the marked-off area. If you’d rather not do this manually, consider bringing in a bulldozer—and someone to operate it—to make quicker work of this unglamorous but essential stage of the project.

STEP 2
Having cleared a path for the driveway, now you need to calculate the volume of stones you’ll need. To do so, you’ll need to determine the number of cubic yards each layer will occupy. Start by measuring the length and width (in feet) of the driveway you’ve laid out, then multiply these two numbers together to find your driveway’s square footage. So, if the width is 10 feet and the length is 15 feet, your driveway will be 150 square feet. Multiply that number by the desired depth of each layer to get the number of cubic feet of stone you’ll need for each layer. The recommended height for each layer is four to six inches. If you want a four-inch layer, divide the square footage by 3 (because four inches is one-third of a foot). Now that you’ve calculated the necessary volume of stone in cubic feet, convert that number to cubic yards by dividing by 27 (because there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard). Our 150-square-foot example is 50 cubic feet, or approximately 1.8 cubic yards (50 divided by 27), per layer. You’ll need about 1.4 tons of stone per cubic yard, plus four percent to account for compaction. So 1.8 x 1.4 x 1.04 equals your total order of stones (in tons) for one layer.

Drive Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 3
Think strategically when it comes to scheduling the delivery of the stones for your gravel driveway. (Also, bear in mind that some gravel delivery trucks are capable of not merely dropping off the stones, but also spreading them.) It’s best to schedule separate deliveries for each of the three driveway layers. Further, it’s recommended that you stagger the deliveries a few days apart, so you have time to address each layer in turn. If you’re spreading the gravel manually, prepare yourself for the job by assembling the right tools: a heavy-duty wheelbarrow, a shovel with a sturdy trough, and a rake with metal tines.

STEP 4
Before the first gravel delivery truck arrives at your property, it’s important to even out the dirt in the path of the driveway. Depending on the area of your driveway, you can handle this work with your own tools or by enlisting the help of a professional with a backhoe. Are you planning to lay down a weed barrier? Do it after you’ve finished smoothing out the ground; take pains to ensure that the fabric doesn’t bunch up.

STEP 5
The bottom layer of the gravel driveway, of course, goes in first. Once you have spread these six-inch stones over the driveway area in a single, interlocking layer, ideally you’d bring in a bulldozer to compact the stones with its roller. Failing that, so long as you don’t think you’ll imperil the tires, drive over the base layer repeatedly with your car (or a neighbor’s truck). The object here is to pack the crushed rocks into the soil beneath, creating as strong a driveway foundation as possible.

STEP 6
Next comes the middle layer of two- to three-inch stones. In a perfect world, the gravel delivery truck would spread this layer for you, but whether or not that’s possible, the edges of the driveway are first going to need a little TLC. Neaten the perimeters with a shovel and rake and, if necessary, your gloved hands.

Finally, introduce the surface layer of gravel. To facilitate rainwater drainage, grade the stones in such a way that they peak in the middle of the driveway and incline slightly to the sides. Every few months, you may wish to use a rake to restore this peak. Likewise, you may need to neaten the edges from time to time. But for the most part, the gravel driveway you’ve now completed is—and will remain—a low-maintenance affair.


Bob Vila Radio: Pot Fillers

Read on to learn why you ought to consider including a handy pot filler as part of your next kitchen remodeling project.

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, one feature to consider adding is a pot filler. These handy fixtures are basically additional cold water faucets installed right over the stove, making it easier and safer to fill large pots.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON POT FILLERS or read the text below:

Pot Fillers

Photo: shutterstock.com

Even if your sink isn’t far from the stove, it’s still a chore to fill a large pot and haul it over to the burners. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon, so even a two-gallon pot can weigh almost 20 pounds when full. With a pot filler mounted above your range, you just extend the fixture out from the wall and fill your pot while it’s sitting right on the burner.

You’ll probably want to coordinate your pot filler with your sink’s faucet. Many manufacturers create matching or complementary styles to go with their faucet sets. Be sure to measure carefully before choosing a pot filler—the arm needs to clear the top of your range without hitting the cabinet above it, and you don’t want it mounted so high that water splashes out of the pot when you fill it.

Pot fillers do require a new supply line, and the fixtures themselves can be pricey, so this is not an inexpensive addition. Still, as part of a larger remodel, the cost is usually not prohibitive, and once you’ve had one, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.