Category: Walls & Ceilings


Bob Vila Radio: Texture Ceilings to Hide Imperfections

Remodelers often use drywall compound, not only to secure and conceal joints between wall panels, but also to add visual interest. On ceilings, in particular, applying drywall compound can be, not only a decorative decision, but a strategic one as well. Read on for the DIY details.

Adding a little texture to drywall compound can go a long way toward hiding imperfections in ceilings. And it’s an easy process. Here’s how to do it.

Texturing a Drywall Ceiling

Photo: idealhomegarden.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON TEXTURING WITH DRYWALL COMPOUND or read the text below:

Pour a box of drywall compound into a 5-gallon bucket, then enough add water to achieve the recommended water-to-compound ratio. Blend the ingredients using an electric drill outfitted with a paddle mixer. The ideal consistency is lump-free and just a bit thicker than paint.

Next, dip a long-handled paint roller into the bucket, coating the nap with the mixture. Remove the excess by tapping the roller on the side of the bucket. Now, working in one small sections at a time, roll the mixture onto the ceiling. After that, drag a clean broom, a comb, or a different texturing tool across the surface of the ceiling to create the texture you want.

If you don’t like the results the first time, simply re-roll the area and have another go. Be sure you’re satisfied with the look in one area before proceeding to another. Don’t dawdle, though, as the mixture can be expected to dry pretty quickly.

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


How To: Install Chair Rail Molding

Historically used to protect walls from being damaged by the seat backs of chairs, chair rails now serve primarily as a stylish embellishment. With these straightforward instructions, you'll be able to install chair rail molding in a weekend—and reap its visual and practical benefits for years to come.

How to Install Chair Rail

photo: zillow.com/digs

Sometimes the simplest updates make the most impact in a room—and chair rail molding is no exception. More than an easy way to add architectural interest and classic style to bare and basic walls, chair rail is also a fairly straightforward addition that most DIYers can tackle in a weekend. Follow our steps for installation, and give your space an embellishment to brag about.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Tape measure
- Chair rail molding
- Masking tape or pencil
- Level
- Compound miter saw or handsaw and miter box
- Hammer or pneumatic nailer
- Nail set
- 2-1/2-inch finish nails
- Wood glue or construction adhesive
- Wood filler
- Sandpaper
- Caulk and caulk gun
- Paint or stain

How to Install Chair Rail - Nailing

photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Before you purchase materials, determine how much molding you’ll need by measuring the length of your walls at the appropriate chair rail height. As a general rule, chair rail should be applied one-third of the way up the wall from the floor—so for a room with an 8-foot ceiling, installing the chair rail at around 32 inches is a safe bet. When considering how much to buy, make allowances for miter cuts and mistakes by adding about 1 foot to the length of each wall.

STEP 2
Shop around for your favorite style of molding, mindful of the room’s existing trim when making your selection. Installation will be easiest and will look best if the molding is similar to and no thicker than the trim around the room’s doors and windows. Whether you’re interested in a simple, restrained look or something more ornate, most big-box home improvement stores will carry a wide selection of molding to choose from. If you strike out there, though, a local millwork dealer or lumberyard is sure to have options that suit your style.

STEP 3
If you’re looking to paint or wallpaper your room, do that before you install the chair rail, and plan to touch up afterward as necessary. Next, find the wall studs and mark their locations with masking tape or a pencil. Then, use a level and measuring tape to draw a guideline around the room at the height where you want the chair rail to sit. If your floor is not level (a common issue in older or historic homes), you may need to split the difference between the guideline on the wall and a consistent measurement from the floor, otherwise the chair rail could end up looking crooked even if it is truly level.

STEP 4
Evaluate your space so you can figure out a plan of attack for cutting the molding to fit. If possible, start at a window or doorframe that requires only one piece of molding that can be cut at a 90-degree angle on both ends. For everything else, you’ll need to employ a few other cuts to create specific joints.

• If one of your walls runs longer than your longest piece of molding, connect two pieces with a miter joint. The two should join over a wall stud, so first measure along the wall and cut the moldings to a length at which they will overlap at the stud. The cuts should be at opposite 45-degree angles.
• For inside corners where one of the strips of molding has been finished with a square cut, you will have to cope the end of the connecting piece for a seamless joint.
• For outside corners, a miter joint formed from two matching 45-degree angles will do the trick. Not all outside corners are perfect right angles, however, so it’s best to use scrap pieces to test the corner angle before making the cut on your molding.

STEP 5
If you want to apply a stain to your molding, do so before attaching it to the wall, and touch up after as necessary. But if you want to paint the molding, it’s best to apply a coat of primer first, attach the molding to the wall, and then paint the molding once it’s set.

STEP 6
To install the molding, apply wood glue or construction adhesive to the back of the first piece and attach it to the wall, placing the bottom edge of the wood at the guideline you marked in Step 3. Secure each piece with two 2-1/2-inch finishing nails in line with each other. When you’re bringing two ends together in a miter joint, add extra wood glue at the joint, and complete the seam with two finishing nails into the studs. Use a nail set to recess the nail heads to achieve a smooth appearance. Continue with each piece until you complete the room.

STEP 7
Once you’re sure all nail heads are recessed, use wood filler to fill the holes and any gaps at joints. Then, lightly sand the filler and the joints. Apply a bead of caulk at the top and bottom edge of the molding where it meets the wall. Finally, complete any touch-ups or finish coats as necessary and step back to admire a job well done.


Bob Vila Radio: Plugging Leaks in Concrete or Masonry

Specially designed to block running water in concrete or masonry surfaces, hydraulic cement is the one weapon you need to fight a leaky foundation.

A special type of cement, similar to mortar and easy to use, hydraulic cement is handy for preventing water from seeping through your foundation and into the basement.

Hydraulic Cement

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Listen to BOB VILA ON HYDRAULIC CEMENT or read the text below:

Once mixed with water, hydraulic cement sets and hardens in a matter of a few minutes. (Hot water quickens the setting time; cold water slows it down.) It can be used, not just on horizontal surfaces like floors, but also on vertical ones like basement walls. And it doesn’t shrink, rust, or corrode. It’ll remain intact even if it’s submerged in water.

So what’s not to like? Well, a couple of things. For one, exposure to hydraulic cement can be toxic, so you need to wear protective gear. And you need to work quickly, as the mortar only remains workable for about 10 minutes once mixed. One other drawback: It doesn’t work on frozen surfaces, so be sure to make your repairs before winter sets in!

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


The Fastest, Easiest Fix for a Damaged Wall

Photo: thehydeway.com

Perhaps you swung the door open with a bit too much force. Or maybe the movers took a wrong turn with the dresser. Whatever its origins, there’s now a hole in your wall, and sooner or later it needs to be filled. Sure, you can always hire a pro, but why spend money on such a simple fix? Wall patching isn’t the hassle it used to be, at least not with HYDE Wet & Set. For holes or cracks in flat or curved surfaces—drywall, plaster, wood, or stucco—use the Wet & Set repair patch to achieve a quick and easy yet lasting result. Best of all, whereas wall repair used to take the whole weekend, including dry times, Wet & Set enables you to achieve same-day results.

Photo: thehydeway.com

Available as a sheet for a single use or roll for multiple applications, Wet & Set looks and feels a little like fabric. In actuality, it’s a rather sophisticated material, imbued with both joint compound and specially formulated polymers. Wet the patch, and it fully activates, becoming a fast-setting, firmly adhering fix-all for dents, dings, and openings that are smaller than a baseball yet larger than a nail hole.

Working with HYDE Wet & Set couldn’t be more simple. Here’s the process: Hold the patch over the problem area to determine how much of the material you’re going to need. From there, use an ordinary pair of scissors to cut the patch to the appropriate size. Next, dip the patch into any vessel of water, be it a bucket or a dishpan, and gently shake off the excess liquid. Last, place the patch over the damaged portion of the wall, using your fingers to smooth out the applied material.

That’s it! The patch sets within 30 minutes, at which point you’re ready to do a skim coat of joint compound or spackle. Because the patch contains the initial layer of compound, you need to add only one more. Once it’s dry, proceed to sand down the protrusions, then prime and paint the patched area to match its surroundings. Nobody needs to know your wall or ceiling was ever anything less than perfect.

Purchase HYDE Wet & Set, $14.33

Photo: thehydeway.com

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


Install Wood Paneling with Peel-and-Stick Ease

Get the look of the beautiful wood-paneled wall of your dreams without all the labor and costs involved with planking it from scratch. Stikwood's thin peel-and-stick panels get the job done in no time at all.

Stikwood - Wall Installation

Photo: stikwood.com

Want wood paneling without the hassle of nailing lumber to the walls? Meet Stikwood, the first peel-and-stick solid wood planking solution.

Stikwood planks are thin, flexible, adhesive-backed slices of real wood. The concept is reminiscent of contact paper, the old household standby that may still be lining your cabinets. Stikwood installation is similarly painless. Simply plan out your design, cut planks to fit, peel off the backings, and stick up the planks. The adhesive binds to any clean and smooth interior surface—walls, ceilings, doors, cabinets, and drawer fronts—and will last at least 10 years. Because each plank measures no thicker than three-sixteenths of an inch, installation—if you can call it that—is a snap. Indeed, Stikwood can transform an ordinary room in a matter of hours. And with 16 finishes to choose from, ranging from rustic white to a more contemporary mocha, there’s bound to be a texture and color combination suited to your taste.

Stikwood - Entertainment Center

Photo: stikwood.com

Stikwood can be purchased online in multiples of 20 square feet, with some 10-square-foot quantities available by special order. But whereas measurement would be a taxing step in a typical paneling project, Stikwood simplifies this portion of the job, too. Just plug in the measurements for the height and width of the surface you plan to panel, and the Stikwood site calculator tells you how many square feet of product you need. So really, the only “work” for you to do is in dreaming up a design.

Purchase Stikwood, $10 to $14 per square foot


Bob Vila Radio: Cleaning (or Concealing) Wall Stains

You can't always prevent stains. But with some know-how and elbow grease, you can either remove those stains or conceal them completely.

If you spy some ugly stains on your walls, don’t despair. Chances are there’s a way to either remove those walls stains or block them from coming through paint.

Cleaning Wall Stains

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CLEANING AND BLOCKING WALL STAINS or read the text below:

To clean water stains, of course you first need to locate and repair the leak. Once you’ve done that, and once the stain has dried to the touch, sand it with a medium-grade sandpaper, then use a brush to coat the spot with a good quality stain-blocking primer.

For stains from tobacco smoke or kitchen grease, add a quarter cup of trisodium phosphate, or TSP, to a gallon of water and—after you’ve donned gloves and goggles—use a sponge to remove the discoloration.

And what about squiggles from pens and magic markers—are they a lost cause? Not at all. Just dip a couple cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and, using a gentle, circular motion, wipe the stains away.

If you run up against a particularly tough stain, remember that a coat of stain-blocker combined with touchup paint can make almost anything disappear.

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


Bob Vila Radio: Patching Large Holes in Drywall

It's easy to damage drywall. Fixing it: Well, that can be more difficult. But far from requiring a call to your contractor, patching drywall is a DIY-friendly job you can complete in a single morning or afternoon.

Need to patch a hole in drywall? While you can resolve smaller problems with spackling paste, larger jobs call for a commensurately larger commitment of time and materials.

How to Patch a Hole in Drywall

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First, cut a patch of scrap drywall that’s larger than the hole you plan to fill. Regardless of the shape of the hole, it’s best to work with a square or rectangular patch piece. Place that patch over the hole and trace around its edges with a pencil. Next, using a utility knife or saw, cut the drywall along the outline you traced.

Now cut a piece of one-by-two that’s a few inches longer than the width of the hole. Holding it in the middle, pass it through the hole and, from the outside, screw it into place on each end with a screw gun. Make sure the screws pull the one-by-two tightly up against the hidden, rear side of the drywall.

Once you have that anchor board installed, insert a screw into the middle of the patch piece. Then, using that screw as a handle, position the patch into the cutout, against the anchor board. At this point, finish driving the screw all the way through the drywall patch and into the wood anchor board. Add a couple more screws to fully secure the patch against the anchor.

Now you’re ready to complete the job by concealing your repair with drywall tape and joint compound!

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


Bob Vila Radio: Why Not a Wainscot?

For a low-cost, high-impact way of adding character to a lackluster room, give a second thought to installing wainscoting.

If you’re looking to dress up the interior of your home but are working on a limited budget, why not consider adding some classic wainscoting to the walls?

Installing Wainscoting

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WAINSCOTING or read the text below:

The term wainscoting refers to a broad range of moldings and panels usually applied to the lower third of walls. Besides a character-lending decorative effect, wainscoting also performs a practical role, protecting the walls from damage.

In close quarters with a great deal of foot traffic—halls, for example, or entryways—beadboard has been a favorite for centuries. For a more formal look, you can eschew beadboard and its country connotations in favor of panels that you design and build yourself or buy pre-made. Solid wood wainscoting remains an option, though it’s also now commonly made of medium-density fiberboard, plywood, and even PVC.

In the design phase, some do-it-yourselfers create cardboard stencils of prospective wainscot panels, temporarily mounting them on the walls to experiment with different configurations. Don’t be hesitant to try whatever you like. It’s your home, after all!

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


So, You Want to… Install Wainscoting

Careful planning leads to getting the look you want with wainscoting, be it crisp or ornate.

How to Install Wainscoting

Photo: shutterstock.com

The term “wainscoting” refers to any type of paneling that covers the lower portion—usually the lower third—of an interior wall. Originally, wainscoting was meant to protect plaster walls from dings and dents, but today it’s primarily decorative. Whether it’s elaborate and elegant or simple and casual, wainscoting adds warmth and character, making a room look more inviting. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful wainscot, you might think it’s not possible for a do-it-yourselfer to re-create the look. But the fact is, if you’re comfortable working with wood and handling a few basic tools, you can install wainscoting yourself over a long weekend.

How to Install Wainscoting - Beadboard Painted

Photo: shutterstock.com

MATERIAL MATTERS
Wainscoting took off in the 19th century, when industrial milling made low-cost wood products widely available. These days, although many homeowners continue to install wainscoting made of solid wood, newer and cheaper materials like MDF and PVC are perhaps the most commonly used.

If you’re planning to paint, not stain, the wainscoting, give due consideration to MDF. Because it comes with no knots, it’s easy to cut and work with. Plus, MDF resists the sort of warping and splitting that solid wood might undergo due to seasonal expansion and contraction. One caveat: Standard MDF fares poorly if exposed to moisture, so if you’re wainscoting a bathroom or mudroom, be sure to purchase (and expect to pay more for) the moisture-resistant variety.

Alternatively, for wainscoting that stands up well to both heat and moisture, think about opting for PVC. No, you might not think of PVC as the most stylish stuff for a home interior, but once painted, it looks no different from more traditional materials, and it lasts a long time without maintenance.

There’s one major downside to inexpensive sheet wainscoting products: As easy as they are to install, they can accentuate an uneven or wavy wall. If yours is an older home that’s fallen out of plumb, it’s probably worth it to spring for tongue-and-groove solid wood wainscoting. Here, you can use furring strips to correct for minor imperfections, and you can sand down any protrusions.

PROJECT PLANNING
When you set out to install wainscoting, don’t underestimate the importance of planning. To a large extent, the installation process hinges on the design decisions you make early on. In fact, some people choose to create cardboard stencils and mount them on the wall in order to test different looks.

One key question: Do you want the wainscoting to have decorative panels? Know that eschewing panels tends to make for easier installation. Unlike panels, commercially sold tongue-and-groove strips simply need to be snugged together and nailed (or otherwise adhered) directly to the wall.

That said, frame-and-panel wainscoting is by no means beyond the skilled amateur. Get ready to use your tape measure, though. For the installation to look right, you must figure out a design that allows the wainscoting panels to be of equal size. If uniform panels are simply not possible given the size or shape of the room, there’s a compromise: Only panels on the same wall technically need to share the same dimensions. So if you are adding wainscoting to multiple walls, different walls can have panels of a different set size.

During the planning stage, it also helps a great deal to settle on a finish. If you decide to stain or clear coat the wainscoting, it’s easiest to do so prior to installation. Another reason to get your ducks in a row before getting to work: You can buy prefinished wainscoting products, which can save you significant time.

RISK ASSESSMENT
Yes, it’s easy to install wainscoting, but there are some complexities. Perhaps the hardest part is ensuring that the wainscoting gets along with the door and window trim in the room. Depending on the thickness of the wainscoting that you’re adding, it may even be necessary to replace the door and window casing.

Also, remember that wainscoting must be notched to fit around electrical boxes. And because building codes normally require electrical boxes to be flush with wall paneling, you may need to extend the boxes. Luckily, box extensions are inexpensive, widely available, and easy to fit behind either switches or receptacles.

Whether your home was recently built or has been around for more than a hundred years, wainscoting imparts depth and texture, giving any interior space a three-dimensional appeal that no mere coat of paint could possibly achieve, no matter how striking the color.


Bob Vila Radio: The Right Height for Chair Rails

Chair rails remain a popular option for dressing up interior walls, but while their installation can be straightforward, homeowners need to know where on the wall this type of molding looks best.

Chair rail molding adds a tasteful touch to rooms, especially when combined with wainscoting or crown molding. But if you’re thinking of installing chair rails, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Chair Rail Height and Width

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHAIR RAILS or read the text below:

To be the most visually appealing, chair rails need to be installed at the right height. Most experts say that ‘right height’ is about one third the distance from the floor to the ceiling. So for a room with an 8-foot ceiling, you’d want to nail the molding about 32 inches from the floor.

The best width for chair rail molding will vary a bit, depending on the dimensions and the wall color of the room. Two to three inches is most common.

Chair rail-type moldings were used as far back as the Greeks and Romans. But the term ‘chair rail’ didn’t come into common usage until the 19th century. That was when Shakers installed pegs in their moldings. Their purpose? To hang chairs out of the way during sweeping and mopping!

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