September 2012 Archives - Bob Vila

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Bob Vila Radio: Shrub Success

Fall is a great time to upgrade your landscaping. Plants, trees, and shrubs are slowing down from the hot summer and getting ready to go dormant. And of course when the weather starts to cool off a bit, it’s easier to do the digging!




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Bob Vila Radio: Wallpaper Removal

There are different techniques for removing every kind of wallpaper, but the tools and preparation are much the same. First and foremost, realize that this is a wet and messy process. Removing or covering everything in the room with plastic and masking off trim and windows will eliminate a lot of cleanup hassles.

Wallpaper Removal


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Everything You Need to Know About Winterizing Pipes

Winterizing Pipes


As you ready your house for the colder months ahead, don’t forget about your water system. When water freezes, it expands. So if the temperature of your pipes drops below 32 degrees, even for a short period, you run the risk of a pipe fracture or worse. Take the following precautions now to avoid a major headache later.

Inside Your Home
Anywhere cold air blows on a pipe, it creates the potential for freezing. To make sure your pipes are well-insulated, close crawl space vents and stuff insulation over the openings. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in; make sure you fill in all the cracks.

A bathroom or laundry room located above or next to a garage can be particularly vulnerable, so keep the garage door closed to maintain maximum heat.

If your bathroom pipes run along an outside exterior wall, try keeping the vanity door(s) open to allow heat inside. If you’re anticipating a deep freeze, consider using a fan to help circulate the air near the pipes, or purchase a small space heater for some extra temporary heat.

Finally, never turn off the heat when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature to at least 55 degrees F (higher if you’ve had problems in the past or live in an area of extreme cold). If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.



Outside Your Home
Disconnect and store garden hoses. If your home has a separate shut-off for external faucets, turn it off and drain the water from those faucets.

Turn off and drain sprinkler systems. You may want to call in a professional company to blow out any leftover water in the underground lines. A broken sprinkler pipe can do damage to the delicate components that make up the entire system, increasing the cost of repair.

Know where your main waterline shut-off is before problems arise. Depending on the age of your house, it can be inside a garage, basement or laundry room, or underground in your yard. After turning the water off, turn on faucets to allow the water to drain and release the pressure in your pipes.

Signs You Have Frozen Pipes
• You turn on the faucet but nothing comes out. Look in the most likely places and use the techniques listed above to gently thaw the area. Whatever you do, do not use a blowtorch to warm up a frozen pipe. Many homes have been set on fire this way.

• The water is turned off but you hear rushing water running anyway. This could be a sign that you have a leak somewhere. You should turn off the water lines immediately and investigate.

For more on winterizing, consider:

Winterize on a Budget
Quick Tip: Winterize Your Home
Winterizing Your Patio Furniture

5 “Make in a Weekend” Bookshelf Projects (No Fancy Woodworking Required)


Groucho Marx’s famous quote, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” has been printed on many a tote bag, day planner, coffee mug and journal cover. And yet… still hilarious!

For both practical and aesthetic reasons, readers love to surround themselves with their books. But where to store your collection? That’s easy. On a bookshelf, of course—one that you made yourself in a weekend.

DIY Bookshelf - Pipe Fitting

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Jeremy and Ralph built this bookshelf with only one tool: an electric drill/driver. Assembled from 1x8s and black pipe fittings, the construction is incredibly strong and will appeal to anyone who likes the industrial vibe. See how it was made over on Apartment Therapy.

DIY Bookshelf - Reclaimed Lumber

Photo: Carly Waito

Andrew and Clayton built this stout bookshelf into an unusual corner in their living room. They used reclaimed wood and staggered the supports to provide visual interest. Learn more at Carly Waito.

DIY Bookshelf

Photo: Flickr / Chris.shutter

Chris Shutter built this DIY bookshelf (and bike rack!) for next to zero dollars, using upcycled shipping palettes. He posted a photo on Flickr, and when it blew up across the internet, he posted the instructions in the comment section.

DIY Bookshelf - Float Mount

Photo: More Design Please

This floating bookshelf project from More Design Please, based on angled mending plate hardware, makes it look like the books themselves are the shelves. Neat, right? Stack ’em up!

DIY Bookshelf - Blocks

Photo: Home and Away with Lisa

Lisa, from Home and Away with Lisa, calls this project “the easiest bookshelf in the world.” She put the whole thing together in one hour for about $35 in materials.

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

For more weekend DIY projects, consider:

10 Ingenious IKEA Hacks
5 Things to Do… With Beadboard
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage

Bob Vila Radio: Tile Mosaics

Mosaic tile has been around for a couple of millennia, but it never seems to lose its popularity. Thanks to advances in robotics and optics, the art of arranging tiny glass or ceramic tiles to form mosaic design features in floors, walls and ceilings is within reach of those of us who might not be roman senators. 

Tile Mosaic



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A Brief History of Cobblestones

History of Cobblestones

Acorn Street in Boston's Beacon Hill is one of the city's few remaining true cobblestone streets. Photo:

A walk through the historic districts of many older American cities will reveal a rustic and romantic street standard of the past: cobblestones.

Cobblestones date back to ancient times, with many pre-Roman cobbled streets dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. They’ve been used worldwide throughout history—mainly in Europe but also in Latin America—and are still in use and painstakingly maintained (stones are replaced and arranged by hand).

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Bob Vila’s “Best In Show” Doghouse Contest Official Rules


Bob Vila’s “Best in Show” Doghouse Contest (the “Contest”) is sponsored by, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).


The Contest begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (“EDT”) on September 27, 2012 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EDT on October 18, 2012 (the “Contest Period”).

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents. 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 Contest, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Contest. 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 Contest 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.

Contestants may submit one (1) entry per household by visiting the BOB VILA website at, navigating to the Bob Vila’s “Best in Show” Doghouse Contest page and submitting their name, email address and a photograph of their doghouse (the “Contestant Picture”), as well as a title and brief description of the Contestant Picture. Each entry submitted in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void. Entries received after the end of the Contest Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply.

Contestant Pictures must be in .png or .jpeg format and be at least 400 pixels in width. Contestant Pictures must be “in good taste,” and must not incorporate, include or depict any offensive, illegal, illicit or otherwise harmful content or activity or anything that violates any law or the copyright, trademark, publicity rights, privacy rights or any other rights of any third party. Contestant Pictures should not contain any third-party logos, drawings, cartoons, phrases, trademarks or other third-party materials. Contestants must obtain consent from all persons appearing in Contestant Pictures for Sponsor’s use in this contest and in accordance with the other uses provided for herein.

Each contestant represents and warrants that their Contestant Pictures are original and have not been copied in whole or in part from any other work, that they are the sole author and owner with the full power to submit their Contestant Pictures and to grant the licenses herein to Sponsor, and that their Contestant Pictures have never been published.

As between Sponsor and Contestants, Contestants retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in and to the Contestant Pictures. As a condition of entry, Contestant grants Sponsor a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display any Contestant Picture that Contestant submits to this Contest (1) for the purposes of allowing Sponsor and the Judges to evaluate the Contestant Pictures for purposes of the Contest, and (2) in connection with advertising and promotion, including, but not limited to the right to display the Contestant Pictures individually or as part of a compilation at the Bob Vila website. Each contestant hereby waives any opportunity or right to inspect or approve their Contestant Pictures with respect to any use thereunder. By entering the Contest, contestants agree that any information collected in connection with the Contest may be used by Sponsor in accordance with, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all contestants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Contest Period, a panel of three (3) judges from the Bob Vila Editing Team (the “Judges”) will evaluate each Contestant Picture and select one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) based on the following criteria: creativity/originality, craftsmanship, environmental consciousness and appeal to dogs. 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 selection from the pool of eligible entries, according to the same judging criteria. Decisions of the Judges and Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Contest.

The Winners will be notified by email. 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 a contestant 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.

The Winner shall receive a prize of one (1) Petsmart Gift Card with a retail value of $250.00. Gift Cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. Prize is not transferable. 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,, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

A contestant or Winner may be disqualified from the Contest, 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 Contest is at contestant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the Winner on 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 a contestant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Contest, (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 contestant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Contest 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 contestant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Contest, 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, a contestant agrees, to the maximum extent permitted by law, 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 Contest, from any breach of representations or warranties made herein (including without limitation those made with respect to Contestant Pictures), 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 contestant 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 contestants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest; (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 Contest; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Contest 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 contestant’s participation in the Contest 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 Contest.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Contest, 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 contestant’s eligibility to further participate in this Contest and future promotions and Contest of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by a contestant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Contest 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 Contest is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Contest is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Contest, or to disqualify contestants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any contestants 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 Contest should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Contest. In the event any portion of this Contest is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of contestants, 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 Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Contest without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Contest, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Contest. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Contest entry page to such effect.

This Contest shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Contestants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Contest 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.

Bob Vila’s “Best In Show” Doghouse Contest

Dog house


The doghouse has been part of human history since the Ancient Egyptians built mud-brick kennels for their favorite canines. And while the doghouse has evolved over the years, our obsession with doting on our dogs has remained unchanged. This month, we showcased 10 Luxurious Doghouses for your Pampered Pet. And then we got to wondering: What kind of doghouses do our readers have for their pooches?

So to find out, we are hosting the first-ever Bob Vila’s “Best in Show” Doghouse Contest! If you’ve got a distinctive doghouse, we’d love to see it! From creative kennels to Snoopy’s iconic red house, from classic crates to imaginative DIY models, we welcome them all, big and small.

Little Dog House


To enter, simply send us a good, clear picture along with your email address and a short description. If your doghouse is chosen by our editors as “Best in Show” from all canine quarters submitted (see rules below), you will win a $250 gift card from PetSmart and have your pet’s abode featured on

But you MUST enter by October 18th (midnight EST) to qualify.

So, what are you waiting for? Click the link below, upload a photo, and see if your doghouse is “Best in Show”.


The “Bob Vila ‘Best in Show’ Doghouse Contest”  is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period  begins at 12:00 p.m. EDT on September 27, 2012 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EDT on October 18, 2012 . One entry per household on Contestants must submit their name, email address and a photograph of their doghouse, as well as a title and brief description. Winner will be chosen by the BobVila editing team based on the following criteria: creativity/originality, craftsmanship, environmental consciousness and appeal to dogs. Winner will receive one (1) Petsmart Gift Card with a retail value of $250.00, subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. Odds of winning are dependent on the number of eligible entries received.  See Official Rules for details.

Bob Vila Radio: Removing Tile

Tile is one of the most durable installations around, so when it’s finally time to remove it, you might be tempted to break out the sledgehammer and hope for the best. A little patience and finesse can make the job much easier. 

Tile Removal



Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING TILE, or read the text below:

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From Wreck Room to Rec Room: Drying Out the Basement

Drying Out the Basement

The basement in its somewhat original condition (after the drywall from the previous owners was removed).

One lesson I learned fast when I bought a house is that a homeowner’s number-one enemy is not the mortgage—it’s the water. That vaguely brown spot on the pantry ceiling? Water leaking in between the two-story side wall and the one-story extension, where 90-year-old tin flashing had completely corroded. The rotted windowsills? Water overflowing the clogged and poorly pitched gutters, then cascading onto the windows below (apparently for decades). And the basement’s musty smell and chalky walls? That was water too. And it was everywhere: seeping in through leaky old windows, dripping down the walls from where the foundation met the sill, and creeping in from below where the foundation walls met the floor.

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