Welcome to Bob Vila


Bob Vila Thumbs Up: Vote for Your Favorite Project of 2016!

Vote now and every day before June 15 to help your favorite project become the mid-year winner in the Bob Vila Thumbs Up challenge.

SHARES

Photo: istockphoto.com

Month after month, we’ve chosen our favorite bloggers to highlight in the Bob Vila’s Thumbs Up competition—and you’ve voted for your favorites to win. This month, the winning bloggers from the first half of 2016 are going head to head in the ultimate Thumbs Up showdown. Have a look back at your favorite DIYs—from charming repurposed dressers to enviable light fixtures—and help us choose a winner.

SEE ALL PROJECTS HERE 

Bob Vila Thumbs Up highlights some of the very best DIY bloggers, and this month we’re bringing back all of our winners from 2016 so far for a friendly mid-year competition. Each of these bloggers beat out the competition in previous months, but now it’s your job to vote one blogger to be our mid-year champion and the winner of the prize—a $250 gift card!

SEE ALL PROJECTS HERE

Cast your vote today and every day through June 15 to help your favorite blogger become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. After all, it’s up to your vote to determine the outcome of this competition.

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Robin from All Things Heart and Home. Read more about the winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.


Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System

Enter to win a 3-night stay and exclusive historic house tours!

SHARES

With our hectic schedules and never-ending to-do lists, who out there couldn’t use a vacation? Strolling on the beach, taking in some rays, and touring the town make for an enchanting getaway. And if you’re the lucky winner of Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System, you could be experiencing the relaxing benefits of a trip for two to gorgeous Key West, a stay at the Hyatt Key West, $500 Visa gift card, and exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of two fan-favorite historic homes that feature the Unico System.

ENTER HERE TO WIN

Today and every day in June (starting 12:00 p.m. EST May 31st, 2016 through 11:59 a.m. EST June 30th, 2016), enter to win a weekend trip for two to Key West, Florida from BobVila.com and the Unico System, the leader in ductless heating and cooling. (See Official Rules below.)

If you’re the winner of this month’s give-away, we’ll treat you to a fun-filled weekend for two to Key West, where you’ll be provided airfare, lodging, and a $500 gift card for meals and other incidentals. And that’s not all: You’ll also receive behind-the-scenes tours of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House—two historic sites featuring the Unico System, a unique method of heating and cooling that doesn’t disrupt the architectural integrity of any space its installed in. Whether you’re a beach bum or a history buff, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to win this one-of-a-kind package.

So what are you waiting for? Enter today and every day in June for the trip of a lifetime.

To learn more about the Unico System and its advantages, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System” 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 runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on Thursday, June 30th, 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.


Bob Vila’s Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System Official Rules

SHARES

Bob Vila’s “Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing (the “Drawing”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on May 31st, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on June 30th, 2016 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for the Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on May 31st, 2016 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on June 30th, 2016 (the “Entry Period”). 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 50 states and the District of Columbia. 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 “Key West Weekend Give-Away with the Unico System” submission form.

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

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for the 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 the 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 Vila Media, 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 the Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for the Drawing determines the odds of winning. 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. Winner 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, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner must claim their 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 Winner during their entry to the Drawing.

The prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be provided by the Unico System (the “Prize Supplier”) and shall consist of three-day trip for two to Key West including: air fare, stay at Hyatt Key West, $500 Visa gift card, and behind-the-scenes tours of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. The prize will be delivered within 30 days from when the prize winners’ documents are executed and sent to the prize provider.

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, Winner agrees 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.


Solved! What To Do About Black Mold in the Bathroom

Discolorations in your bathroom's tile and grout aren't just unsightly—sometimes they're downright dangerous. Once you determine which type of mold you're dealing with, you can wipe it out with the appropriate plan of attack.

SHARES
Black Mold in Bathroom - Mold Around Tub

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I just went to clean our rental property after the tenant moved out, and I found black mold in the bathroom. Yuck! How do I get rid of it?

A: Yuck, is right! Black mold is gross. And depending on which variety it is, it could be very dangerous. If the space has been flooded or a long-term leak only recently revealed itself, what you see might be the black mold: Stachybotrys chartarum. This highly toxic mold should only be removed by a professional. But, more than likely, an accumulation of grossness along your bathtub or shower tile indicates the presence of a more generic bathroom mold. The only way to tell for sure is to test it—either by asking professionals to collect samples or sending some away via a do-it-yourself kit—and wait for results. Once you can confirm that it’s the latter, garden variety grody bathroom type, you can get to work ridding it yourself.

In general, mold is a fungus that’s plentiful in the natural environment and, when conditions are right, indoors as well. Take the bathroom: Its damp, dark, and often warm interior makes growth a perennial problem there. Without adequate ventilation or routine towel-drying after each use, black mold can easily take up residence and thrive. Here’s how you can give it an eviction notice.

Black Mold in Bathroom - Cleaning Black Mold Between Tiles

Photo: istockphoto.com

Remove the mold. Use an antifungal surface cleaner and a sponge or cloth to wipe mold off of non-porous surfaces like tile and porcelain. Follow up with a scrub brush on any stubborn areas, and thoroughly rinse with water. This process should remove the mold, even if some dark coloring remains.

Clean up the stains. To remove the black stains that mold leaves on non-porous surfaces like grout, mix equal parts of bleach and water in a spray bottle and spray it over the stained area, allowing it to sit for several minutes. Return and spray the area again, and use a scrub brush to scrub out any remaining discoloration. (Tip: An old toothbrush aptly reaches rout’s narrow lines.)

Wipe out whatever mold remains. While bleach is superb at removing dark stains caused by mold, it’s not the most effective way to eliminate mold spores. Instead, spray straight vinegar onto the area and allow it to dry so that the cleanser can finish off any remaining mold spores.

Finally, prevent mold from growing in the bathroom by employing a few preventative measures.

• Keep vinegar on hand. Store a spray bottle of vinegar in the bathroom, and apply and air-dry after every shower or soak. (You might consider add several drops of your favorite essential oil—tea tree, peppermint, or lavender—to the bottle to make the vinegar’s smell less offensive.)

Reduce the humidity. If you don’t have one, install an exhaust fan. Running one every time you shower or bathe and several minutes following should remove any residual steam and dry the air out.

Wipe dry after every use. Squeegee and then towel down glass doors and tile to remove extra moisture from those surfaces. While you’re at it, wipe out sinks after each use, too, so that mold and mildew have nowhere to go (and grow).

Clean regularly. Be sure to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom weekly; if all else fails, this consistent regimen should keep mold spores from taking hold and running amok. Rotate an anti-fungal cleaner into the routine at least once a month.


How To: Remove Paint from Trim and Molding

Use this handy guide—and an even handier tool—to restore the clean lines of wood trim that has been gunked up by layers of paint jobs from decades past.

SHARES

Photo: istockphoto.com

Walls framed by baseboards and crown molding exude unmistakable character and polish, most notably in historical homes adorned by ornate crown moldings, built-in bookcases, and pocket doors. Decades of paint, however, can detract from the craftsmanship of these beautiful elements, blur their clean lines, and obscure the wood’s natural beauty. Whether you’re trying to restore antique wainscoting, window casings, or a once-beautiful built-in bookcase, the most crucial—and, unfortunately, also the toughest—part will probably be stripping the old paint from the sections of decorative trim before applying stain or a fresh coat of paint. Don’t get discouraged. While removing layers of paint from intricate trim is labor-intensive, the right tools and techniques (and a little patience) can return even the most elaborate moldings and custom woodwork to their former good looks.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Protective goggles
- Respirator mask
- Solvent-resistant gloves
- Drop cloth
- Chemical paint stripper
- Natural-bristle paintbrush
HYDE Quick-Release Contour Scraper
- 80-grit foam sanding block or sandpaper
- 120-grit foam sanding block or sandpaper
- Rotary tool with sanding bit (optional)
- Wood bleach (optional)
- Soft rags
- Tack cloth

STEP 1
First, pull on your protective gear—old clothing, goggles, a respirator mask, and solvent-resistant gloves—and then start prepping your work area.

Drape a chemical-resistant tarp or drop cloth over the floor as well as over any large furnishings that can’t be moved or built-ins that aren’t part of the job. While a few of the newer paint strippers on the market are low-VOC, which means that they contain fewer volatile organic compounds, many emit toxic fumes, so adequate ventilation is essential. Open a window and use fans to create a cross breeze, and if your stripping project is on the larger side, consider erecting barriers to reroute foot traffic around the project area—especially if you’re living in the house while you’re working on it. The upside to stripping paint from trim is that you can do a little bit here and there, as time permits. You won’t have to set aside an entire weekend and work from dawn to dark, but you should still steer your household members away from the work zone in the meantime.

STEP 2
Next, apply paint stripper to the trim or molding with a natural-bristle paintbrush. (Plastic bristles can melt when dipped in stripper.)

The trick to dissolving old paint successfully is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Not all strippers work the same way. Some aggressive strippers soften paint in as little as 30 minutes, while others require hours of wait time and repeated applications. Some are runny, and some have a gel consistency. Make sure, no matter what type of stripper you’re using, to apply it carefully to all the creases and tiny nooks found in detailed trim, working it in with the tips of the bristles.

Brush on only as much stripper as you have the time to scrape after the paint loosens. If the stripper dries before you scrape it away, you’ll have to reapply it.

How to Remove Paint from Trim and Molding - Quick-Release Contour Scraper

Photo: hydetools.com

STEP 3
Once the solvent has set for its required amount of time, scrape away softened paint with the HYDE Quick-Release Contour Scraper. This single handy tool replaces a dozen separate scraping devices thanks to its six swappable stainless steel blades—each featuring two distinctly different scraping tips—that will fit virtually every size curve and contour you will encounter on wood trim. And with the tool’s quick-release feature, it’s a cinch to switch blades. Once you have affixed the appropriate blade for the section of trim you’re working on, begin scraping the softened paint, keeping one hard-and-fast rule in mind: Pull, don’t push! By pulling the blade at an approximately 45-degree angle, you will safely remove loosened paint without digging chunks out of the wood.

If the trim has multiple layers of old paint, as is common in many historical homes, you may have to repeat stripper application and scraping until you reach bare wood.

STEP 4
Sand the trim with 80-grit sandpaper or, better yet, an 80-grit foam sanding block, which more easily fits itself to the curves and creases found in trim work. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid leaving cross-sanding marks. When the wood is no longer rough and the dried bits of residual paint have been rubbed off, switch to 120-grit for extra smoothness.

For intricate wood rosettes or detailed trim ornaments that you can’t adequately sand with sandpaper or a foam sanding block, you can try using a handheld rotary tool fitted with a pointed sanding bit. Proceed with great caution, though, as one slip can gouge the wood. Make sure the lighting is good, use extremely light pressure, and take frequent breaks until the job is complete.

STEP 5 (optional)
In some cases, the old paint may leave behind a tinge of color on the wood grain. If you plan to apply a smooth layer or two of fresh paint, this seeped-in color won’t affect your project. But, if you’re going to stain the wood, you will first need to bleach it. Wood bleaching removes color stains, but it also lightens the natural wood grain. If you’re refinishing a walnut staircase, for example, plan on applying a quality walnut stain afterward to restore the wood’s natural tones.

Choose a wood bleach formulated to remove pigment-based color, rather than household bleach, which irritates skin and mucous membranes and removes only dye-based color. Take the same safety precautions with the wood bleach that you took when applying the stripper, and follow the manufacturer’s application instructions closely. Most wood bleach products come in liquid form, which is then wiped on with a clean rag and left to dry. As bleaching wood raises its grain, lightly sand the color-free trim again until it’s smooth enough to wipe a tack cloth over the surface without snagging. Make sure the wood is thoroughly dry before applying stain or other coating.

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


So, You Want to… Build a Carport

If you're looking to build an inexpensive shelter for your vehicle, a carport can be a great alternative to a costlier, more ambitious garage. But erecting a carport involves more than just slapping a kit together. Read on for just a few issues you should consider before you decide to put a carport on your property.

SHARES
Building a Carport - Palram Carport Kit from Wayfair

Photo: wayfair.com

Need a place to park that fancy new speedboat? A carport may be just the ticket! While it’s not quite a garage, a carport does a decent job of protecting cars, recreational vehicles, or anything else you might want to shield from the weather. Some homeowners even use them as covered patios. If you’re thinking about building a carport, you’ve probably already looked at dozens of different building options and styles from specialty manufacturers. Still, there are plenty of considerations you need to weigh before you buy a DIY carport kit or hire a contractor. Here, we’ve put together a few of the basics to help you with the planning process.

PULL THOSE PERMITS!
In today’s regulated world, if you want to build anything larger than a doghouse, you will probably have to pull a permit—and a carport is no exception. Note that a carport can be enclosed on only two sides. If you enclose a third side, the structure becomes a garage, which makes it subject to different building codes.

Your local building authority will want to see the design plans of the carport you choose, and ordinances will determine where you can put it. Typically, you cannot construct a carport in any easement on the property or within a few feet of the property lines. Many communities have covenants that do not allow carports in front yards at all. If you live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you will need to clear your carport plans with them as well. HOA regulations may specify particular building materials, limit where you can put a carport, or regulate its size—or, the HOA may just turn you down cold. Legally, you have to abide by their rules.

MATERIALS MATTER
Carports are typically constructed of either metal or wood, and kits using either material can be readily purchased from do-it-yourself stores. Kits vary in quality and price; some run a few hundred dollars, while others top out at more than $10,000. Professional installation will increase the cost of your project considerably, but if you are unsure about your ability to assemble a complicated carport kit, it pays to hire a professional. You can also go for a custom-designed, stick-framed carport—an attractive option, particularly if you want your carport to match your house. Some homeowners choose to set a gravel base or concrete pad under the carport, which adds to the total cost of the project.

 

FIND OUT WHAT LIES BENEATH
If you’re familiar with construction, you know the importance of calling your local utility companies to come out and mark the location of their buried lines before you start digging holes for carport posts. The last thing you want is to hit a utility line and get stuck with an enormous repair bill. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to locate all the utilities on your property; just call DigSafe at 811. They will notify your local utility companies, which will then check the location of their lines and mark them so you know where it’s safe to dig.

SET A FIRM FOOTING
Carports do not require foundations, but they must be stable enough to keep from blowing over at the first breath of a breeze. The sturdiest method is to secure the support posts a minimum of 2 feet deep, in poured concrete. If you live in a windy area, or if you’re building a tall carport to house an RV, sink the posts 3 feet or deeper. An alternative method is to attach brackets to a concrete base to hold the support posts. This approach offers less lateral support, so additional lateral bracing and corner bracing will probably be required. Some lower-end carport kits rely on screw auger anchors to stabilize the structure, but this works well only if the carport is protected from wind.

A third structural option, if local building code allows, is to attach one side or the back of the carport to the house or to an existing garage. This arrangement increases stability but comes with additional building code regulations.

Building a Carport - Attached to the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

KNOW YOUR NEEDS
Before you select a final carport design, make sure it will meet your size and aesthetic requirements. The minimum functional size for a one-vehicle carport is 9 feet by 16 feet, but if you need to park anything larger than a midsize sedan, you will need more room. As for aesthetics, you’ll probably want the design and finish of your carport to complement your house. To keep it in sync with its surroundings, you can paint a wood carport to match your home and echo architectural details from your house, such as columns or shingles, to make it appear as if the carport was part of your home’s original design. This way, you’ll not only gain additional outdoor shelter for your vehicles (and outdoor gatherings), but some serious curb appeal, too!


How To: Get Rid of Crows

If these big black hungry birds are making a noisy nuisance of themselves, here a guide to encouraging them to please take a powder.

SHARES
How to Get Rid of Crows

Photo: istockphoto.com

The bald eagle may be our national symbol, but virtually every American has encountered the crow. These highly intelligent, adaptable birds congregate in our rural and urban areas alike in flocks (also ominously known as murders) of sometimes hundreds, even thousands. Though a bane to gardeners for the way they feast on seeds and fruits, crows could be called the goats of the sky because they’ll eat virtually anything, making a mess on your property and a lot of noise in the process. So while they aren’t all bad—a crow family can devour tens of thousands of grubs, caterpillars, and other garden pests in a single season—they can be discouraged from roosting ‘round your place with these helpful tips.

How to Get Rid of Crows in the Yard

Photo: istockphoto.com

Employ Scare Tactics
A lone scarecrow might not be too effective, but the strategies below—which work best when used consistently and in conjunction with one another—can frighten off your feathered foes. Just be sure to vary the position and location of items you utilize so clever crows won’t become desensitized to them. To send crows packing, use:

Decoys. Hang creepy crow Halloween decorations upside with the wings spread out. Crows will think these are their dead brethren and beat it, pronto!

Shiny stuff. Put out Mylar balloons and bright, reflective ribbons that will blow in the breeze and catch the sun’s light. String together multiple pie tins, cheap silverware, and/or old CDs as a funky set of wind chimes and hang in a tree or trellis. The idea here is to not only look scary but rattle too.

Distress signals. Play recorded distress calls of other crows to keep them at bay. Noisemakers and the sounds of fireworks are also repellent. Just be considerate: Let close neighbors in on your noisy battle plan and find out the best time to enact it that won’t disturb others.

Keep Them Away
To prevent crows from returning, make your property less attractive by:

Covering your trash. Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids and put them in a secure area. If they’re open, crows will belly up to the buffet. And if dogs or raccoons turn your receptacles over at night, crows will have a smorgasbord come morning.

Composting wisely. If you put kitchen scraps in your compost, cover it to keep crows out. Or only compost yard waste, which doesn’t interest crows.

Feeding conscientiously. The seed you offer songbirds will attract crows as well, so secure and clean around feeders. Only use feeders that exclude large birds, position them so that they can’t be overturned, and tidy up any spilled feed regularly. Also avoid feeding Fido and Fluffy outdoors, or remove any leftovers as soon as mealtime is over.

Thinning trees near gardens. Crows love to roost in tall trees, so you may wish to remove mighty specimens growing near a food source like your veggie patch. Plant new trees in areas less hospitable to crows.

Protecting your plants. If crows return despite your best efforts, keep them from ravaging your garden. Drape bird netting over  plants or suspend it from a framework built around plants. Protect seedlings with fabric row covers and, since corn is a crow’s favorite dish, thwart the hungry devils by placing a paper cup or bag over each ear after the silk has turned brown.

Now that you’ve banished these wily, unwelcome guests, your garden can flourish—and that’s really something to crow about!


How To: Stake a Tree

That newly planted member of your yard may need some help to grow up big and strong.

SHARES
How to Stake a Tree - Backyard Sapling

Photo: istockphoto.com

Most new trees do just fine on their own. In fact, the movement they experience from normal wind and weather helps these yard young’uns develop strong root systems and solid trunk girth. In several scenarios, however, it’s beneficial, even necessary, to stake a tree during its first growing season. If your new tree is planted on a slope or in an open area, or if it will be exposed to very strong winds, it may require some temporary stabilization. A young tree with a dense crown of leaves but a disproportionately small root ball may also require a stake. But trees must be staked properly, or damage—even death—can occur. This guide will help your new tree become a truly upstanding citizen!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Tree stakes (2)
- Sledgehammer
- Tree staking straps (2)

How to Stake a Tree

Photo: istockphoto.com

Get the Goods
You’ll need two stakes per tree, plus straps to tie them to the trunk. To DIY your own stakes, taper the points of 6- to 8-foot long, 2×2 pieces of lumber, and use wire housed inside rubber hosing for ties. Or you can purchase stakes, made of treated wooden posts, and nylon or rubber ties from big box home improvement stores or nurseries.

Drive the Stakes
Place each stake on opposite sides of the tree, about 15 to 18 inches 
away from the trunk, ensuring they will clear the root ball. Drive each stake into the 
ground with a sledgehammer, about 18 inches deep.

Pick the Right Spot
In general, to anchor trees exposed to high winds or on slopes, the straps should be placed about 18 inches above the ground. In the case of a tree with a flimsy trunk that can’t support itself, place the straps about 6 inches above the spot where the tree can stand upright.

Support the Trunk
Tie the tree to each stake with flat tree staking straps, so that they are taut but not so tight that the tree cannot move. You want to let the tree sway a bit in the wind, which encourages strong root development. Flat straps provide a large surface area to distribute pressure and avoid damage to the trunk. Be especially cautious if using homemade wire-in-hose straps: Stretch them too tight and they’ll injure the sensitive tissues just under the bark, essential for taking up water and nutrients.

Untie in a Timely Manner
Remember, 
 you should only stake a young tree for one growing season, until the root system has had a chance to spread out and set in. After removing the straps, you can leave the stakes in the ground as protection from foot traffic and lawn equipment if they don’t pose a hazard. If you choose to remove the stakes, dig gently around the base of each one to loosen it, being careful not to disturb the roots. Keep your straps and stakes if they are still in good condition to be used for the next tree you plant that requires staking.

With good care and a little luck, your new trees should bring joy to your family and beauty to your property for generations.


What Type of In-Floor Heating Is Right for You?

If you've been looking for an effective alternative to forced-air heating, radiant heat may be the answer. But should you opt for an electric or hydronic system? Read on to learn more about the best applications for each type.

SHARES
Types of Radiant Heat

Photo: warmboard.com

Spring has arrived at last. But don’t let the warmer weather fool you into forgetting all about the challenges of winter. If your heating system failed to keep you comfortable during the coldest months, things aren’t going to be any different next year—that is, unless you proactively make a change. As you assess your HVAC system, you may very well determine that your frustrations stem from the performance limitations and high operating costs of conventional forced air. Indeed, plenty of people have already reached the same conclusion. That may be why increasing numbers of homeowners are choosing, in one form or another, radiant heating.

One type of radiant system relies on a network of cables installed between the floor and subfloor. Electricity heats the cables, and the cables, in turn, heat the floor. Electrical systems are ideal for providing supplemental heat in a small room, such as a chilly master bathroom, not least because they are easy to install and incur relatively low up-front costs. Heating an entire house with electric radiant heat would be exorbitantly expensive, though, given that such setups rely completely on electricity, which—needless to say—doesn’t come cheap. For that reason, electric radiant systems can be considered a comfort luxury perfect for heating the floor, but not the home.

The other type—hydronic radiant heat—works in a completely different way. By circulating boiler-heated water through tubing below the floor, hydronic systems deliver cost-effective heating for the whole home, and offer a qualitatively different experience than forced air. Whereas forced-air systems heat inconsistently and incompletely, hydronic radiant heat provides encompassing warmth and ensures consistent temperatures from one wall to the other and one room to the next. Ultimately, electric radiant heat succeeds as a supplement, but hydronic competes with and surpasses traditional whole-home systems.

Types of Radiant Heat - Cutaway Detail

Photo: warmboard.com

INSTALLATION
Typically, electric radiant systems include three components—heating cables (often woven into plastic mats), a temperature sensor, and a thermostat. Laying the cable can be a do-it-yourself project, as it’s mainly a matter of using thinset to mount the cables on the subfloor. Likewise, the electrical work requires nothing more than basic know-how, but you’re best off hiring an electrician unless you really know what you’re doing. All in all, if you were planning to put in a new floor anyway, perhaps as part of a room remodel, then including an electric radiant mat will probably add just modestly to the overall project budget.

Hydronic systems, in contrast, involve a boiler, pump, and fuel lines as well as panels that slot beneath the floor. In other words, hydronic systems are substantially more complex. For that reason, HVAC technicians must be involved from the early planning stage all the way through to final installation. Yet manufacturers are actively engaged in making hydronic systems more accessible. For instance, Warmboard now offers a line of radiant panels specially designed for retrofit applications. Measuring less than an inch thick, these slimmer panels facilitate installation within the confines of any existing residential structure.

EFFICIENCY
Electric radiant systems typically operate on a timer. If not, they operate via a thermostat, which causes them to activate whenever the floor temperature reaches or dips below a certain preset minimum. In limited applications, electric systems tend not to run up the energy bill. But if an electric system were installed throughout the home and relied upon as the primary heat source, it would cost a fortune. Put another way, electric radiant systems are affordable so long as they are used as intended, as a means of warming otherwise uncomfortably cold flooring.

Hydronic radiant systems, meanwhile, can not only heat the entire home, but do so at least 25 percent more efficiently than forced air. That efficiency is due in large part to the fact that radiant heat involves zero ductwork. Notoriously prone to leakage, forced-air ducts often lose enough heat in transit to compromise a system’s overall efficiency by as much as 50 percent. Because it’s ductless, radiant heat maximizes homeowner savings by minimizing, if not completely eliminating, heat loss.

PERFORMANCE
Whether electric or hydronic, radiant heat boasts a number of compelling advantages. For one, in stark contrast with the jet engine-like roar of a forced-air system, radiant heat operates silently. Also, with no in-room vents or bulky, space-hogging ducts, it stays out of the way, invisible, never impeding your decorating scheme. Finally, and perhaps best of all, radiant heat does nothing to diminish indoor air quality. While forced-air ducts collect and then distribute dust throughout the home whenever the system activates, because radiant heat is ductless, it’s also practically dustless, making it particularly appealing to those who suffer from allergies, asthma, or are simply committed to maintaining a healthy home.

Although they share much in common, however, electronic and hydronic radiant systems are as different as apples and oranges. Electric radiant heat can be a welcome addition to a room that the primary heating system (for example, forced air) fails to keep comfortable. Hydronic radiant heat, on the other hand, not only matches but surpasses the performance of traditional whole-home installations. The technology has already taken hold in Europe and Asia, and though it hasn’t yet exploded in the United States, it gets more popular with each passing year. There’s a simple reason why: Hydronic radiant heating systems combine high efficiency and unparalleled comfort.

Types of Radiant Heat - Sleeping Dogs Lie

Photo: fotosearch.com

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


Genius! The Free Kitchen Hack for Every Squeeze Bottle

Nothing ruins a barbecue faster than warm, watered-down ketchup or mustard dribbling all over your food. Stop struggling with half-empty squeeze bottles with the fix you already have in your fridge!

SHARES
Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: youtube.com via Alton Brown

Alton Brown, the Food Network chef behind Good Eats, is a man who loves his mustard. He’s penned more than a dozen recipes that feature the all-American condiment, including his signature homemade mustard, a pork chop brine, and a honey salad dressing. But even a professional like Brown knows the struggle of getting sauce out of a half-empty squeeze bottle. It’s a dance everyone is familiar with: Hot dog in hand, with a heart full of hope, you give the bottle a few shakes and a firm squeeze—only to watch a slow stream of condiment water dribble over your food. Yuck!

Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy from Alton Brown

Photo: youtube.com via Alton Brown

With his hot dog getting cold, Brown looked in his fridge for a fix to prevent spoiling any future sandwiches. Inside he found an egg carton, and a simple, satisfying epiphany! After picking out the last few eggs, he cut off the lid of the container. Then, he put the bottom half of the carton inside the door, where it fit perfectly in the top shelf. With gravity on his side, he turned the bottles upside-down in the fridge—this time corralled in the once egg-holding grooves that also happen to perfectly fit the cap ends. That one simple flip (steadied with the help of an inventive caddy) makes sure that condensation is no longer the first thing that comes out the next time you squeeze your favorite cookout condiments.

Sure, this may be a first-world problem. But wrestling with a bottle of mustard, ketchup, or mayo while the rest of the family is partying on the patio is a bummer at any gathering. Lucky for us, Brown has shared a solution that’s as good in the refrigerator as it is on a picnic table outdoors. So why not cut up this quick fix—and cut out the hassle—so you can get back to the barbecue?

FOR MORE: Alton Brown on YouTube