The Most Frequently Asked Questions of 2014

Does home improvement leave you scratching your head? We compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions at—along with the answers. Click through to see them all. Who knows, maybe this list will help you accomplish some DIYs of your own in the new year.

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  1. How Do You Clean Painted Walls?


    Kitchen grease, splatters, and kids—er—artwork can muck up painted walls. But before you take soap and water to them, determine what type of paint you have; abrasive cleaning products can cause flat or eggshell finishes to fade. Test your cleaning solution on a discrete patch of wall before you wash the entire area.

    Related:  How To—Clean Painted Walls

  2. How Can I Find a Wall Stud?


    Need to mount the TV or a heavy mirror? You'll need to find a wall stud first. Luckily, there are some tricks to locating studs—even without a stud-finder. Inspect the baseboard, looking for dimples where the baseboard might have been nailed to the stud. If that doesn't work, you can use a strong magnet to find nails within the studs. 

    Related:  Three Ways to Find a Wall Stud (Without Fancy Equipment)

  3. How Do You Clean Vinyl Siding?


    Vinyl siding is prized as a low-maintenance, weather-proof alternative to wood, brick, or stucco, but over time it does accumulate a lot of dirt and grime. The best tools for cleaning it are a soft cloth or soft-bristle brush. Don’t use any cleaning products that contain organic solvents, or rough scrubbers that may damage the surface.

    Related:  How To—Clean Vinyl Siding 

  4. How Do I Refinish Hardwood Floors?


    Refinishing hardwood floors is a huge task, but the gorgeous new finish you'll create is worth the effort. Sand down the floor with an orbital sander, then remove all the dust by vacuuming and wipe down. Apply fresh stain evenly, using a foam roller to ensure thin coats. Once the stain is dry—voila!—you have stunning new floors.

    Related:  How To—Refinish Hardwood Floors 

  5. What's the Best Way to Clean Brass?


    Before you clean anything, determine if you're working with solid brass or brass-plating. If a magnet sticks to it, it's brass-plated, but if not, you’ve got solid-brass. Using hot, soapy water and a microfiber cloth, clean and rinse. If that doesn't do the trick, you can even use ketchup or vinegar! Take precaution with plated items, though—polish too aggressively and you can remove the brass-plating.

    Related:  How To—Clean Brass 

  6. How Do You Remove Varnish?


    When it comes to repairing wood furniture, you'll often need to strip the finish first. And before you choose your method—sanding, solvents, or chemical strippers—it’s important to identify your finish. Chemical strippers can handle paint and polyurethane, for instance, while sanders can easily remove paint, shellac, and varnish, to name a few.

    Related:  How To—Remove Varnish and Other Wood Finishes 

  7. What's the Best Way to Cut Wine Bottles?


    You might think that cutting wine bottles takes a lot of skill, but the process is actually quite simple. Prep the bottle by soaking it in soapy, warm water then score the glass. After that heat it under a candle. After about 10 minutes, run the bottle under cold water, rotating it the whole time. You’ll hear the glass start to break. Grab both sides and twist!

    Related:  Easy DIY—How to Cut Glass Wine Bottles

  8. How Do I Install Floating Shelves?


    If you're hanging shelves on plaster or drywall, make sure to use anchors. Mark where you want the shelf to go, and using a level—to ensure a straight shelf—draw a line. Drill holes in the wall and insert the anchors. After attaching the bracket to the wall, slide your shelf in place.

    Related:  How To—Install Floating Shelves

  9. How Do You Grout Tile?


    Grouting tile may be messy, but it's easy to master! Mix up your grout and press it between the tiles using a float. After about 15-30 minutes, wipe off any excess with water and a sponge. Three hours later repeat the process, ensuring there isn’t extra grout on the tile or outside of the tile line. Finally, once everything has dried overnight, use a dry towel to rub off any haze and sweep clean.

    Related:  How To—Grout Tile 

  10. Can I Refinish My Cabinets?


    If you're sick of your kitchen cabinets but can't shell out the big bucks to replace them, try refinishing at a fraction of the cost. To start, detach your hardwood cabinet doors and take off any hardware. Remove as much of the old finish as possible, then fill in any dents with wood filler and apply a sealer. Rub on your new stain and finish with protective coat of clear polyurethane.

    Related:  How To—Refinish Cabinets 

  11. How Do You Install a Light Fixture?


    Replacing a light fixture is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to update your space. Turn off the power at the breaker before you start fiddling with any wires. Install a new box for your light fixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions and mount by attaching it with screws. Put in a lightbulb and turn the breaker back on. How's that for a bright idea?

    Related:  How To—Install a Light Fixture

  12. How Do You Clean Porcelain Tile?


    Porcelain tile can be kept pristine with weekly sweeping. For a monthly deep cleaning, saturate the floor with cleaning solution, allowing it to soak. Loosen heavy stains with a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush. Wipe away the dirty cleaning solution and rinse with clean, hot water. Dry the surface with a clean towel and you’re done.

    Related:  How To—Clean Porcelain Tile

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