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All You Need to Know About PEX Pipe

Find out why this colorful tubing is the up-and-coming plumbing trend that has DIYers excited.

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe


Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), a type of flexible plastic, is currently replacing traditional copper and galvanized steel as water supply lines in both new construction and remodeling projects. You’ve probably seen rolls of blue and red PEX pipe in the plumbing aisle of your local home improvement store, but might not know that this colorful tubing now makes it possible for enthusiastic DIYers to replace their own leaky water lines instead of calling a pro. Read on to learn more about PEX—what it is, where it can be used, and all the pros and cons of this popular plumbing material.


In 1968, German scientist Thomas Engle discovered a way to crosslink common plastic (polyethylene) through radiation to produce a much suppler form of the material. The new plastic, fashioned into flexible PEX pipe (also known as PEX tubing), arrived in the US in the 1980s, initially for radiant floor heating systems: The flexible tubing is embedded in a concrete slab and hot water pumped through to heat the slab and radiate heat to rest of the room. PEX pipe remains popular for radiant floor heating.

While PEX use for water supply systems has been widespread in Europe since the 1980s, it was a latecomer here because some early versions deteriorated slightly when exposed to the high chlorine levels common in US water supplies. Adding antioxidants during manufacturing made PEX suitable for carrying drinking water and, over the past two decades, having met our potable drinking water standards, it started catching on.

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe


Complaints about early PEX water systems cropped up when the fittings used to connect the pipes failed and leaked. Improved fittings solved that problem and the popularity of PEX surged. Today, PEX is used in more than 60 percent of new construction residential water supply systems.


PEX is available in a variety of lengths, from short 10-foot pieces (for small repairs) to rolls over 500 feet long, which are used to install a home’s entire water supply system. PEX pipe ranges from 3/8- to 1-inch in diameter and its color-coding makes it a snap to identify what a specific pipe is used for. Although there are three types of PEX (see Label Lingo, below), the different colors don’t connote the distinctions; they simply make it easy for the installer to identify which lines carry hot water and which carry cold.

Red PEX pipe carries hot water.

Blue PEX pipe carries cold water.

White PEX pipe can be used for either hot or cold water.

• Gray PEX pipe, like white, can be used for either hot or cold water (although not all DIY centers carry gray).


Traditional copper and galvanized steel water systems feature main lines and a series of smaller branch lines that lead to each fixture. Each branch that attaches to the main line requires a separate connection. PEX has a distinct advantage over these materials because of its flexibility, which allows one end of PEX pipe to connect to a PEX manifold (the main water control system) and then wind through walls and floors—uninterrupted—all the way to an individual fixture. Called “homerun” plumbing, by using a single length of PEX for each hot and cold water supply fixture in your home, it eliminates the risk of leaks at multiple connection sites.

RELATED: 8 Common Water Problems—and Their Cures

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe



Beyond flexibility, PEX has other advantages—and two main considerations.


• Installing PEX does not require soldering as does copper and galvanized steel.

• PEX expands, making it more resistant to freeze-cracking than either copper or steel.

• PEX does not corrode, which can happen with both copper and steel pipes, leading to leaks and contamination of the water supply.

• Water flows silently through PEX, eliminating the “water hammer” noise associated with metal piping.

• Color-coding (red and blue) make it simple to distinguish hot and cold supply lines.

• PEX can be connected to existing metal supply lines with the correct fittings.


• PEX is not suitable for outdoor use. Ultraviolet rays cause PEX to break down quickly—tubing left outdoors can harden and crack within a couple of months.

• PEX cannot currently be recycled, because it does not melt as other recyclable plastics do. With the popularity of PEX rising, however, the demand for a way to recycle it will also likely rise.

• Though installation is DIY-friendly, working with PEX requires special connectors and tools.

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe



The different types of PEX are distinguished by the manufacturing process used to make the tubing. When shopping for PEX, you may notice rolls labeled with either an A, B, or C designation. Choose the tubing best suited to your needs:

PEX-A is manufactured using peroxide. This type of PEX is the most flexible of the three types and is suitable for use in all home water-supply plumbing needs. It expands to the greatest degree when subjected to freezing water, so it’s the most resistant to cracking in frigid temperatures. It’s easy to work with but it’s more expensive than B or C. A 10-foot piece of PEX-A runs $3.50 to $7.50, depending on brand and diameter. Other than flexibility, PEX-A has no significant benefit over PEX-B.

PEX-B is manufactured using a moisture-cure method. PEX-B is slightly stiffer than PEX-A, and has a distinct coil “memory” that makes the tubing want to return to its original coiled state. The coil memory, however, is not a hurdle to installation, and PEX-B is often the tubing of choice for residential plumbing because it also expands to resist cracking when water freezes but is less expensive than PEX-A: A 10-foot section of PEX-B runs $2.50 to $5.50, depending on brand and diameter. PEX-B also features an increased resistance to chlorine, making it a good choice in areas where water is highly chlorinated.

PEX-C is manufactured via an irradiation method. Because it’s the stiffest version, PEX-C is the most difficult to work with; this stiffness also makes it most prone to kinking, as well as susceptible to cracking when water freezes. These undesirable traits make PEX-C best suited for short repairs where bending around sharp corners isn’t necessary. PEX-C is the most economical choice, with a 10-foot section running $1.75 to $3.50, depending on brand and diameter.

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe



To make watertight connections with PEX pipe, you’ll need the right tools and supplies. For each of the following methods of connecting, the fittings and connectors must be an exact match to the size of the PEX pipe. Hundreds of types of fittings, usually brass, are available for connecting PEX to existing copper or steel pipes, and for making connections to fixtures. Fittings are also available for connecting pipes of different sizes. The following five methods are used for making the connections watertight.

All You Need to Know About Working with PEX Pipe


Copper crimping: One of the most common ways of connecting PEX is with copper crimping rings, which requires the use of a special PEX crimping tool. The copper ring slips over the end of the PEX tube, and a fitting is then inserted into the PEX tube. The copper ring is then pushed to the end of the tube—over the fitting—and a PEX crimping tool is used to crimp the copper ring (and tube) tightly in place.

Expansion connections: The expansion method of connecting PEX involves using a special PEX expander tool to stretch the diameter of the PEX tube before inserting the end of a fitting. The PEX tube then shrinks back to its original size to create a water-tight seal around the fitting.

Stainless steel clamps (SSC): The SSC method of connecting PEX involves using a ratchet clamping tool to tighten stainless steel rings around PEX connections. Similar to the copper crimping method, the steel ring is slipped over the PEX tube before the fitting is inserted. The ratchet clamping tool is then used to squeeze a tab on the ring, which tightens the ring securely around the tube and the fitting.

Compression fittings: This type of fitting involves slipping a threaded brass nut over the end of the PEX tube, followed by a tapered plastic compression ring. A hollow brass tube is then inserted into the end of the PEX tube. The whole thing is then inserted into the end of a threaded fitting and the threaded brass nut is then screwed onto the end of the fitting. As the nut is tightened, it squeezes the plastic compression ring against the end of the brass fitting to create a seal.

Push-fit connections: The quickest way to connect PEX is with the push-fit method, which involves purchasing special push-fit fittings that “grab” the end of the PEX pipe when inserted over the end. No special tools are required to use push-fit fittings, but a special removal ring is required to remove them from the end of the pipe once you’ve connected it. As a child, if you ever played with one of those paper tube “traps” that grabbed your finger when inserted into the tube, you get the idea of how push-fit connecting works.


• For the best results, use only the recommended tools for making PEX connections. For example, you won’t get as tight a fit if you try to use pliers to crimp a connecting ring as you will by using a PEX crimping tool.

• Store PEX indoors and away from a sunny window since the pipe degrades in UV light.

• Use a PEX cutter to make clean end cuts that will be easier to work with.

How To: Dispose of Dry Ice

Safely sublimate unused dry ice to avoid frostbite, explosion, and carbon dioxide overexposure.

How to Dispose of Dry Ice Safely and Properly

Photo: via Carl Lender

Solidified carbon dioxide—better known as dry ice—is commonly used to freeze food or keep it cold longer than regular ice thanks to its frigid surface temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Available at grocery stores and home centers as blocks, pellets, or flakes, dry ice can be dropped into packages and coolers, used to flash-freeze foods, or relied on as a backup should the power go out to the fridge.

But dry ice can be dangerous: Touch it with bare skin and it can induce mild to severe frostbite in a matter of seconds. What’s more, because dry ice continuously releases carbon dioxide as it sublimates (aka evaporates), the gas buildup from storage in an airtight container with the lid shut could cause an explosion, injuring people or damage property nearby. And if allowed to sublimate in a closed-off area, the carbon dioxide gas could fill the enclosed space, leading to accidental suffocation.

Most people are aware that safety measures are crucial when using dry ice, but knowing how to dispose of dry ice properly is equally important to avoid the risks mentioned above. Read on to refresh yourself on the simple yet invaluable safety tips for handling and disposing of dry ice so that you can use the refrigerant without consequence.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Long sleeved clothing
Long pants
Closedtoe shoes
Insulated gloves
Styrofoam chest or lidded plastic container
 Respirator (optional)

STEP 1: Pick the proper place and time.

Choose a well-ventilated space inaccessible to children or pets. An outdoor area like a backyard or fire escape is best. For fastest results, choose a cool, uncloudy day to dispose of dry ice; however, sublimation will still occur in warm, humid weather, so there’s no need to delay the task.

STEP 2: Dress for disposal.

Wear a long-sleeve shirt, closed-toe shoes, and insulated gloves to protect skin from coming into direct contact with the dry ice.

STEP 3: Speed up sublimation.

How to Dispose of Dry Ice Safely and Properly


Retrieve unused dry ice from the cooler, fridge shelf, or container in which it was stored. If you wrapped the dry ice in newspaper pages (often recommended to keep the ice from touching food items), remove the newspaper, set it aside, and place the unused dry ice inside a Styrofoam chest or a lidded plastic container. Replace the lid, leaving it slightly ajar—securing it completely can cause gas buildup. With the lid ajar, carbon dioxide can safely and swiftly escape into the atmosphere.

STEP 4: Let it sit to sublimate.

Set the container on a flat surface and allow to dwell until the dry ice completely evaporates and no solids remain. It generally takes 24 hours for five to 10 pounds of dry ice to sublimate. Avoid lingering in the vicinity to prevent overexposure to carbon dioxide, which causes such symptoms as nausea, headaches, and vomiting. If you must be in the area, wear a respirator to mitigate gas exposure.

STEP 5: Dispose of the container correctly.

Once the dry ice has fully evaporated, dispose of the container (along with the gloves used to handle it and the newspaper used to wrap it) at a local waste collection site or landfill that accepts hazardous waste products. To locate one, check your city’s environmental services website or refer to the website of a hazardous waste collection company like WM At Your Door for pick-up services in your area.

How to Dispose of Dry Ice Safely and Properly

Photo: via stu_spivack


When it comes to dry ice, safety must be your top priority at every phase. Follow these rules to avoid improper handling, storage, transport, and disposal.


• Touch dry ice with bare skin.

• Lay dry ice directly on a solid-surface or tiled countertop—it could crack the surface.

• Expose unsealed food in your fridge directly to dry ice, which can freeze foods on contact. If flash-freezing items like fish, place food in a freezer bag or vacuum-seal it prior to dry ice exposure.

• Store more than 10 pounds of dry ice in your fridge per day. Any more than that creates the potential for excess carbon dioxide buildup inside the appliance.

• Store dry ice in the freezer compartment of your fridge; it can bring the overall temperature of the freezer below its programmed temperature and may cause freezer malfunction.

• Dump dry ice near local sewer lines or down the garbage disposal, toilet, or sink drain; it can cause pipes to freeze and burst.

• Discard dry ice in garbage chutes, trash cans, or other confined or inadequately ventilated spaces such as a pantry. As dry ice evaporates, carbon dioxide would fill the enclosed space and could cause accidental suffocation. Also, because carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, it has a tendency to drift into low-lying areas like basements, where
it could gradually replace oxygen and fill the room with carbon dioxide.

• Dump dry ice in public areas accessed by people or pets.

• Transport dry ice in a vehicle without adequate ventilation. Open one or more windows when transporting dry ice in your car. If you must keep windows closed, turn off the indoor air re-circulation option (usually located on the center console) to circulate new air from the outside into the car for maximum ventilation. Avoid transporting the dry ice for more than 15 minutes at a time to prevent carbon dioxide overexposure.

How To: Patch an Air Mattress

Repair the leak in your inflatable bed with this simple method to ensure your guests get a good night’s rest.

How To Patch an Air Mattress


Though invaluable for slumber parties, camping trips, and out-of-town visitors, an air mattress can be rendered useless by a tiny pin-sized hole. Disposing of an inflatable bed would not only waste the $30 to $300 that you paid for it, but it’d add to the landfill since those made of PVC cannot generally be recycled. Fortunately, a pesky leak can be repaired effectively with supplies you may already have on hand and these simple steps for how to patch an air mattress.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: Air Mattresses 

Keep in mind that a puncture might not be to blame when a mattress deflates: Temperature changes, like the furnace kicking on or off at night, can also cause a loss of pressure. But if a leak is indeed the culprit, act fast! The longer you continue to use the damaged air mattress, the larger the hole will grow—and the harder it will be to repair.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS Available on Amazon
Permanent marker
Dish soap
Lintfree rags
Allpurpose cleaner
Air mattress patch kit or bicycle tire repair kit
– Strong adhesive (such as super glue, gorilla glue, contact cement, or rubber cement)
Coghlan’s Airstop Sealant (optional)
Pair of 5pound dumbbell
Books (optional)
Talcum or baby powder

STEP 1: Press upon the inflated airbed and listen for the leak.

To locate the leak in the air mattress, start by applying gentle pressure to the mattress with your hand and simply listening. Inflate the bed and, starting on the bottom, where leaks are most likely to occur, listening for a quiet hissing sound. Do not lie on the bed to listen; that could enlarge the hole. Work your way around the entire mattress until you find the source of the s-s-s-s-s-s-s, and note the spot with a permanent marker. Deflate the mattress before beginning repairs in Step 4.

No luck? Proceed to the next step.

STEP 2: Or, try locating the leak with a moisture test.

If listening fails to find the leak, dampen your hand or arm and pass it an inch or two away from the mattress from bottom to top. You should feel a cool burst of air at the source of the leak. Note the area with a marker, and then deflate your air bed and skip to Step 4. Otherwise, try one last trick.

STEP 3: As a last resort, identify the air leak using soap bubbles.

If you’re still stymied, mix a few drops of dish soap with water in a small spray bottle. Working in small sections, spray the solution on the inflated mattress and gently press down. Escaping air from the leak will cause soap bubbles to form where the hole is located. Note the spot with a marker, and deflate the entire bed.

STEP 4: Clean around the hole.

Clean a small area around the leak extending an inch or two beyond where your patch will be placed with a bit of diluted all-purpose cleaner and a lint-free rag, then dry the area completely with another dry, lint-free rag.

If the mattress has a suede-like flocking finish, remove the texture by moistening the area with a rag, sanding gently with a fine-grit sandpaper, and then cleaning the sanded area. This will give a smooth, even surface for the glue to bond.

STEP 5: Patch the hole with a kit and strong sealant. 

How to Patch an Air Mattress (and Save Hundreds of Dollars on a Replacement)


If the air mattress came with a patch kit, use that to seal the hole, following the directions provided. You can also buy patch kits at mass merchandisers and online, or use a bicycle tire repair kit to do the job as well. And if you’re really in a pinch, use any thin plastic material, such as a tarp or a piece of shower curtain liner.

Cut the patch about a half inch larger than the hole on all sides. Apply adhesive generously on the patch, particularly in the center. (Super glue, gorilla glue, contact cement, and rubber cement all work well, especially if you have them on hand; if you’re restocking, though, consider picking up Coghlan’s Airstop Sealant, which boasts more than 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon for these sort of repairs and rings up for less than $10.) Now, patch the air mattress hole with this sticky piece of plastic and press down firmly, rubbing in a circular motion to remove any air bubbles and ensure a tight seal between the patch and the mattress.

STEP 6: Test that the patch has completely adhered.

Place a weight of 10 pounds or more (such as a dumbbell or stack of books) on top of the glued patch and let sit at least eight hours. You’ll want to be certain that the patch sticks, so you can’t be too cautious: Check your adhesive’s bottle to make sure you adhere to its recommendations for cure time, too.

STEP 7: Test that the patch has completely adhered.

Once the glue has fully dried, remove the weight, re-inflate the bed, and sprinkle a small amount of talc or baby powder over the patched air mattress. Gently press down on the mattress; if the powder goes flying, you may need to re-apply the patch. If it stays put, you can literally rest easy on your success!

Solved! How High to Mount a TV

Ready to install your new flat-screen television? Use this guide to find the best height to hang a TV in any room of the house.

How High to Mount a TV, Solved!


Q: I’m eager to try out my new flat screen television on movie night—less so to rig it up to the wall. How high should I mount the TV? And do you have any tips for physically mounting the TV at the appropriate height?

A: How high to mount a TV is a question that dogs binge-watchers and cinephiles alike. Position the TV too high or low, and you’ll force yourself and guests to crane your neck or slump your shoulders to take in the on-screen action. The ongoing discomfort aside, a misplaced TV can also be a pain to remove and reinstall at another height, which is why it’s in your best interest to get its position—and the mounting itself—right the first time.

TV manufacturers and home entertainment enthusiasts alike recommend mounting the flat-screen at eye level for optimal viewing, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. The best mounting height for you will depend on which room and position you plan to watch the TV from and whether any wall obstructions stand in your way. Read on to learn how high to mount a TV in your scenario to create the best viewing experience possible.

For standard seated viewing in conventional rooms, position your TV 42 inches on-center—that is, so that the center point of the TV sits that far above the floor. Forty-two inches factors in the 18 inches above the floor at which a traditional sofa seat is raised in interiors ranging from living rooms to family rooms, plus another 24 inches above that to reach the eye level of the average adult in a seated pose. No matter the size of your flat-screen TV, this rule of thumb puts the action happening in the middle of the screen directly at or close to eye level for all of your seated household members and guests.

The distance from the floor to the top or bottom of the TV will vary depending on the dimensions of your specific flat screen—which may or may not be problematic. Some larger TVs may risk running into a media center below or coming to close to a fireplace hearth if you set out determined to mount your screen at 42 inches on-center. Keep reading for how you can accommodate furnishings and room layouts.

How High to Mount a TV, Solved!


Increase the height to 48 to 53 inches on-center if viewing from a home bar. Let’s say you’re looking to mount a flat-screen in a home bar to watch TV from stools rather than in a living room. Bar stool seats are higher off the ground than sofa seats—anywhere from 24 to 29 inches to reach the counter—so you’ll need to adjust what height is considered “eye level” for the average adult seated at your swanky home bar. To find the best height to mount a TV, add 24 inches to the height of your stool. Your new mounting height will be anywhere from 48 to 53 inches on-center.

RELATED: Why Go Out? 12 Basement Bars You Can Build at Home

Increase the height to 60 inches on-center if you view it more often while standing. This may be the case in a game room where other equipment (e.g. a pool or foosball table) occupies the main focus of the room and the TV is mounted to a nearby wall to watch while you wait your turn. It also applies in home gyms, where you’d be watching TV while on a treadmill or other gym equipment. A mounting height of 60 inches on-center will put the center of the screen at eye level for the average person standing at 5’6″ tall.

Position the TV as close to eye level as possible when mounting above a wall obstruction. As mentioned, it might not be possible to mount your TV at the recommended heights if that would cause it to run into an existing appliance or piece of furniture. No matter: Simply position the TV as close to eye level as possible (seated or standing eye level, depending on the location) while still leaving some clearance between the obstruction and the TV.

Above shelves or a media center, an appropriate amount of clearance might be four to six inches—about the same distance you’d hang a mirror above a dresser. When considering mounting a TV above a fireplace, though, it’s important to consider how hot the wall will get while the fire is roaring and whether this could cause heat-related damage to the screen mounted there. Here, leave a clearance of six to 12 inches from the top of the mantel to the bottom of the TV (or from the top of the fireplace to the bottom of the TV, if your fireplace has no mantel) to minimize the risk of damage. Even so, mounting a TV any distance above a fireplace may void the warranty on your big-ticket purchase, so read the fine print before you do so.

Depending on how high you mount a TV, you may want to angle it using its hardware. According to standards laid out by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers, you shouldn’t ever position your television so high that it requires viewers to tilt their heads up more than 35 degrees from eye level in order to see the top of the TV screen. Now, that’s not typically a problem for a TV set at eye level according to guidelines listed above, but screens mounted in a game room or well above a wall obstruction may run into problems.

Fortunately, tilting a television down—effectively lowering the top of the television screen—can help you get away with positioning it higher than eye level without causing discomfort or neck strain over an extended period of time. This requires upgrading from a basic low-profile mount (which is stationary) to one of two other types of hardware: a tilting wall mount (which can move up or down) or full-motion mount (which can swivel in all directions).

How High to Mount a TV, Solved!


Measure twice, mount once. With the right type of wall mount kit, a few basic tools, and attention to detail, you can mount your TV at precisely the right height on the wall for your needs. Follow these tips for accurate mounting:

• Screw the two mounting arms (vertical brackets) from the kit to the back of the TV, then secure the mounting arms to the provided wall plate as if completing wall mount assembly.

• Measure 42 inches (or adjusted height) up the wall from any horizontal location and mark the spot with a pencil. This is where the centerline of the TV will hit.

• Divide the height of your TV by two. Measure and mark this distance above the 42-inch mark—this is where the top of the TV will hit. Measure and mark the same distance below the 42-inch mark—there is where the bottom of the TV will hit.

• Enlist a friend to help you hold the TV in front of the wall at this height so that the top and bottom of the screen line up with the top and bottom marks on the wall. Have a second helper trace an outline of the TV onto the wall using painter’s tape and do the same around the four corners of the wall plate. (You should see a box within a box when this exercise is through.)

• Check your outlines with a level to make sure you’re satisfied with the way the TV will appear. Then proceed to grab a stud finder and toolbox to finish mounting your flat screen.

Interactive Graphic Example

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How to Make the Most of Your Shed


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How To: Test for Mold

If you're suspicious that mold spores are polluting your indoor air quality and aggravating allergies—or worse—alleviate your concerns once and for all with a viable mold test kit and these testing tips.

How to Test for Mold


Ever walked into a bathroom and paused to question the mustiness of the space? It’s not news that those damp quarters are prime breeding grounds for mold and mildew, fungi that helps natural elements break down so that they can biodegrade. But while their presence might be vital outdoors in your compost pile, it’s unwelcome in homes and buildings due to the damage it can cause and the health ramifications associated with its tiny spores, which can easily become airborne and inhaled as mold grows.

Sometimes, the mustiness is accompanied by other clues of the presence of mold: discolored spots on walls and floors, development of respiratory problems, and noticeable humidity. Other times, it’s less obvious that there’s a problem at all.

RELATED: The Dark, Dirty Truth About Household Mold (and How to Get Rid of It Yourself)

If you’re concerned that the air in your home is compromised by mold, you can find some peace of mind knowing exactly how to test for mold. Lucky for you, testing can be as simple as purchasing a viable mold test kit and collecting samples in strategic locations following the instructions outlined below. In a best-case scenario, the results come back negative and you can rest easy that the smell is something temporary. In a worst-case scenario, should the test results be positive for mold spores, you can then send your results to a lab to determine what type of mold is in your home and how to effectively treat it.

How to Test for Mold



In order to grow, mold requires moisture, so mold is naturally found in areas that are damp and humid. Plumbing leaks, for example, often trigger mold growth and should be repaired as soon as one is noticed. Visible mold anywhere in the home should be removed promptly by following safe mold removal methods. But, what about that mold growth that you can’t see? In instances of a musty smell unaccompanied by visible signs of mold (black, white, or brownish coating), it’s likely that you’ve got mold growing in a hidden spot.

The following are some of the most common spots for mold to grow undetected and, therefore, smart locations to test for mold:

• Behind your refrigerator

• Beneath stacks of newspapers or cardboard

• Behind the drywall in wall stud spaces that contain plumbing lines

• Below sinks

• Behind the wallboard around leaking windows

• In ventilation ducts

• Under carpeting that was wet at one time (flooding, carpet cleaning)

• Backside of acoustic ceiling tiles (if roof leaked)

• Behind any drywall that has been subjected to flooding


Mold test kits are widely available from home improvement stores and from online retailers, but not all test kits are the same. Some are designed to only determine whether mold is present on surfaces. To test for mold spores in the air you’re breathing, you’ll need to purchase a viable mold test kit, which costs $20 to $45. The entire testing process will take a few days, and if the test you perform determines that mold spores are present in the air, you can send the testing materials to a lab that will perform another test to determine what type of mold is present. Lab analysis can run an additional $40 to $70.

Note: The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not endorse any brand of home mold test kit. Rather, it recommends that homeowners have their homes professionally tested if they are concerned about the presence of mold. So, use these do-it-yourself kits with a grain of salt: They can be helpful in confirming suspicions if you’re on the fence about whether or not you have a mold problem. Of course, if the symptoms are visible and dire, it’s best to call in the pros to test for mold and remove colonies from your home.

Viable Mold Test Kit
Painter’s tape
Tape (scotch or electric)
Pen or marker

Close the windows and doors in the room you’ll be testing 24 hours before performing the test. This allows potential mold spores to congregate without being disturbed by drafts.

How to Test for Mold Using a Viable Mold Test


Remove the contents of the kit from its packaging. Typically, you’ll find at least a shallow plastic or glass petri dish with a lid and a label. The inside of the petri dish has been treated with a substance known as a “microbial culture” that promotes the growth of mold spores. This should help you collect an adequate sample when testing for mold in the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

Remove the lid from the petri dish and place the dish (open end upward) on a flat surface at about table height.

Leave the petri dish untouched for about 48 hours. This time may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. During this time, restrict traffic in the room during the test period if possible to keep from disturbing the air. Cover the doorway with a strip of painter’s tape, if you need to, as a reminder to household members and guests that this area is temporarily off limits.

Place the lid back on the petri dish after the waiting time has passed, and put a layer of tape around the seam where the lid meets the dish. Either scotch tape or electric tape works well, but avoid using a tape that’s difficult to remove, such as duct tape.

Write today’s date on the label enclosed in the kit and affix the label to the bottom of the petri dish.

Place the taped petri dish in a dark spot, such as a dresser drawer or on a closet shelf.

Check the petri dish in two days for signs of mold growth within the dish. If mold is present, it will look similar to the mold you’d find growing on old food in the fridge.

• If the petri dish shows no signs of mold, return it to the dark spot and check it again daily. If your test for mold turns up nothing after a total of five days (from the date on the label), you can throw the dish in the trash—the kit did not find mold in the room.

• If mold is present in the dish, you can send the petri dish to the lab recommended by the manufacturer to determine its type and course of treatment. Many kits include an envelope for mailing. You’ll also have to send the payment for the analysis.

Allow three to eight weeks to receive your results. Meanwhile, you may wish to continue testing for mold throughout the house. While a variable mold test can tell you if mold spores are present in a specific room, you’ll need to use additional kits if you want to test other rooms in your house.

How to Test for Mold



While there are thousands of species of mold in existence, most homeowners are concerned about Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly known as “toxic mold” or “black mold.” This species of mold is actually quite rare, but it’s one of a number of molds that produces a high level of mycotoxins (dangerous mold-based chemicals) that can create a hazardous home environment. That said, any species of mold can become a health risk if it’s allowed to grow out of control. To be on the safe side, all mold growth identified by a viable mold test should be discouraged and removed quickly.

Delay and anyone can suffer from breathing air contaminated by mold spores. The risk of health problems increases for those with known allergies, compromised immune systems, and respiratory disorders, such as asthma. Mold-related symptoms include:

• Chronic coughing or wheezing

• Shortness of breath

• Frequent sneezing

• Irritated or itchy skin

• Watery eyes

• Running nose

• Chronic headaches

• Skin rashes

• Chronic fatigue

• Memory loss and diminished ability to concentrate (associated with toxic mold)

5 Reasons Not to Buy Replacement Windows (…and Go with Window Inserts Instead)

Learn about a faster, easier, and more flexible solution for old, poorly performing windows.

5 Reasons Homeowners Don't Need to Replace Their Windows


A homeowner’s to-do list can seem endless, especially come spring. Paint the exterior. Mow the lawn (again and again and again). Repair the cracks in the sidewalk. And, somewhere in the mix, there’s the big one: Update all those drafty, broken, or just poorly performing windows.

If you still have single-pane windows, they’re letting you down in more ways than you probably realize: Not only are they sources of drafts and discomfort, wasting both energy and money, they also let in noise from outdoors. The traditional solution—installing replacement windows—is the kind of costly, complicated, time-consuming chore homeowners dread. Plus, in an older home that boasts original windows, putting in new ones can sacrifice some of its historic charm. No wonder people procrastinate when it’s time to deal with underperforming windows!

If you’re stuck in a holding pattern of researching replacement windows and then putting off a decision, there’s good news: You don’t have to say, “Out with the old!” Keep reading for five reasons to scrap this particularly unpopular project, and then learn about the smart, easy alternative that makes it all possible.

1. Window replacements are a pricey proposition.

Homeowners usually do lots of comparison shopping when investigating replacement windows, only to arrive at the same expensive results: Quality replacement windows typically start at $1,000 apiece fully installed. Wooden replacement windows run $71 to $109 per square foot, while vinyl isn’t much of a bargain at $65 to $87 per square foot. And consider this: If your goal is to keep your home well insulated, it does no good to replace just a few windows—you’ve got to do them all. You can imagine how costs add up when you realize how many windows you have!

2. Installation is a real ordeal.

There are no two ways about it: Replacing windows is an inherently disruptive process.

5 Reasons Homeowners Don't Need to Replace Their Windows


First, there’s the planning. If you don’t want to worry about heat loss as windows are ripped out and replaced one by one, or contend with poor caulk adhesion due to excess moisture from snow or ice, you’ll want to schedule the job for the spring or summer months. Unfortunately, so will everyone else! Pick a time during the busy season, and you may have to work around crowded schedules or accept a long delay.

When the day finally rolls around, even before installers arrive, there’s a good amount of prep on the homeowner’s part. You need to take down curtains or blinds and relocate furniture and wall decorations that could be damaged by workers. If you have a home security system, you need to contact the company to have it turned off and to remove the sensors from your panes. Then, with the stage set, it’s time for a crew to come through and rip out the old windows, room by room, exposing your home to the elements and generally making a mess.

You should keep in mind that, after all this disruption, a 15-year life expectancy is fairly standard in the replacement window industry. Will you want to go through all of this again in 15 years?

3. They don’t make them like they used to.

Sure, modern replacement windows are designed to be efficient, but they can require you to compromise by giving up the originals. Let’s say you own a historic home that has old-growth wood windows with single-pane handmade wavy glass. Original windows can be made from trees 200 to 300 years old, evident in the tight wood grain. This wood is so dense and rot-resistant that windows made from it can last indefinitely if cared for properly. In cases like this, removing historic windows could really ruin the look you love, not to mention harm the value of your home.

Whether you’ve got single-hung, double-hung, or casement windows, or some other style from days gone by, most replacements won’t be able to replicate the originals—and ones that come close will set you back even more than the ballpark figures suggested above. Another consideration: Replacements are unlikely to mesh visually with, say, an original bay or oriel window. And be forewarned that if you live in a historic or landmark district, you may be prevented from putting in replacement windows at all.

5 Reasons Homeowners Don't Need to Replace Their Windows


4. Homeowners have options beyond ripping out and replacing windows.

You may be thinking, “I have to put an end to these drafts and noise! What choice do I have?” True, you do need more than a single paltry pane, but replacement windows are not the be-all and end-all. Why not take a tip from restoration architects like John Eifler, who specializes in preserving structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, and install Indow windows—superior window inserts that fit right inside the originals, thanks to patented compression tube technology. They can be made to fit any size, shape, or style—arches, half rounds, and more—and come edged with white, brown, or black, to suit your decor or blend into the existing frame.

5 Reasons Homeowners Don't Need to Replace Their Windows


Made of rugged acrylic glazing with as many as six grades to choose from, Indow interior window inserts are akin to custom storm windows but with numerous benefits. For starters, the Indow process is completely DIY. From laser-measuring for absolute precision to simply popping the inserts in place, no mounting brackets required, Indow inserts are ideal for do-it-yourselfers of any skill level. In fact, each insert takes just 10 minutes to install!

The ease of this installation process not only lets you do the project on your own time, it also promises a precise fit even on windows that have gotten out of square as a house settles over time. Indow inserts account for imperfect windows (as well as unique shapes) through laser measurements of each window opening that, using the company’s proprietary software, help eliminate measurement error. Then, each insert is handmade and edged in patented silicone compression tubing to seal out air when snugly fit into the existing window frame.

5. Choosing window inserts provides all sorts of savings.

Cutting out the cost of professional labor, homeowners pay only for the Indow inserts themselves, which cost as little as $24 to $35 per square foot—less than half the price of vinyl or wood replacements. But lower initial costs are not the only way these inserts save homeowners money. A recent U.S. Department of Energy study found that Indow window inserts can save you 20 percent in heating and cooling costs. This savings is largely due to the dead air pocket created between the insert and the existing window, much as in a double-pane window, resulting in less radiant energy loss. Almost as important, Indow’s compression tubing seal keeps cold blasts and hot gusts from penetrating your home, securing constant comfort, 24/7, in every season. These innovative inserts are so tight they even reinforce your current windows against noise penetration, blocking 50 to 70 percent of outside noise. In comparison, single-pane replacements block only 25 percent of unwanted noise. And while you can’t put an exact monetary value on silence, just think of what you’ve always said you’d give for a little peace and quiet.

When you consider that upgrading with Indow window inserts can keep hot air and cold drafts out, money in your pocket, and your house’s charm intact, you may want to go ahead and cross replacement windows off your to-do list altogether. Instead, visit the Indow website, where you can get a quote and start reaping the many benefits of a superior window solution.

This post has been brought to you by Indow windows. Its facts and opinions are those of

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams

Big, bare, and beautiful, these architectural elements demand attention. Find out if exposed beams can make a striking statement in your new home construction or renovation project.

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Santa Barbara, CA

Favored for their old world and country-chic appeal, exposed ceiling beams add a dramatic sense of strength and heft to a room. If you love the look and plan to build a new home or add an extension, you can incorporate this structural component into your design. You can also bring the rustic yet elegant look to an existing home with faux beams that closely resemble the real thing. Keep reading to find out more about this timeless architectural element and how to acquire it.


Overhead beams are a standard element in timber-frame construction and, while they have an undeniable aesthetic appeal, their earliest purpose was purely functional: Large beams effectively support the weight of upper floors and roofs. Logs and sticks, the precursors of early beams, were laid across the tops of stone walls. With the invention of rudimentary tools, craftsmen could carve longer beams from larger trees. Exposed beam construction became the norm, appearing in cottages and castles alike throughout Europe, the Orient, the Middle East and virtually all countries as architecture evolved.

As construction technology advanced in the 1800s and lumber mills capable of the mass production of wood members appeared, massive overhead beams were gradually replaced by the smaller dimensional lumber used to frame rafters (the sloped members) and joists (the horizontal ceiling members) in home construction.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, high ceilings and large beams were concealed behind lower, “dropped” ceilings during remodels to help reduce heating and cooling bills. But timber-frame assembly, also referred to as “post-and-beam construction,” never died out completely—it’s still a feature in ski resorts, mountain homes, cabins, large barns, and agricultural buildings.


All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams


The installation of structural beams—those that are part of a building’s weight-bearing design—is always a job best left to the pros. Depending on the size and the material (solid hardwood or industrial steel), large beams can weigh upwards of a thousand pounds and necessitate a crane to lift and position them. In most communities, such design must be approved by an engineer before a building permit will be issued, and inspections will be required throughout the building process.

Decorative beams—intended solely for aesthetic appeal—come in a variety of styles, and some can be put up by enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers with a working knowledge of basic carpentry. Yet even these faux beams can add substantial weight, so it’s wise to have an engineer assess your existing structure before installing.

DIY with dimensional lumber: One popular way of installing a faux beam is to position dimensional lumber such as a 2×4 along the ceiling, and then construct a three-sided wood box to cover the lumber, creating the beam look. Depending on the length of the ceiling beam, the weight of the wood used for the box cover, and the number of beams, you could be looking at an additional thousand pounds or more to your home’s structure.

Fake it with prefab: Fortunately, faux exposed ceiling beams made of molded fiberglass or high-density polyurethane are quite lightweight and can be installed without an engineer’s approval. If your ceiling won’t support heavier beams, these impressive imposters may be your best bet. They come in various sizes and styles that mimic solid wood beams or steel I-beams, and can be painted or stained to match your decor. Installation is simple, typically involving mounting blocks to the ceiling and then fitting the lightweight beams over the blocks and attaching them with screws.

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams



If you own a home built before the 1920s, in which the roof was originally framed with large beams and rafters, your dream of dramatic exposed ceiling beams may be waiting overhead. Because the beams are already a part of the structure, you can usually remove the dropped ceiling and restore the beams to their former grandeur.

Bear in mind that removing the ceiling isn’t a solution in all older homes. If your existing structure features standard ceiling joists, narrower than beams and set closer together (often 24 inches apart), they won’t provide the same appearance as beefier beams spaced four to five feet, or even farther, apart.

Here’s how to find out: If your dropped ceiling features acoustical tiles, push one up and peek at what lies above with a flashlight. If the newer ceiling was framed and covered with drywall, the remodelers probably left an access hatch (often found in a closet ceiling), where homeowners could access any wiring or ductwork above the ceiling.

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Santa Barbara, CA


Because they’re large and often imposing, exposed ceiling beams tend to look the best in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings. Here, odds are that exposed ceiling beams will boost your home’s appeal. But non-vaulted ceilings can benefit from the treatment, too. If you intend to install horizontal beams on a flat ceiling, make sure they won’t compromise headroom. Many local codes limit headroom to a minimum of 7’6” above the floor, so the bottom of your new faux beams should remain above that height.

Beyond code-regulated considerations of structure and headroom, the sky is the limit on the way you style your ceiling’s striking feature—so let your personal design preferences and these ideas below be your guide.

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams


• Reclaimed, hand-hewn solid wood beams, which still bear visible crosscut marks from the saws used by the craftsmen who cut them by hand, add a strong Old Country look to a farm-style home with high or vaulted ceilings, a mountain cabin, or a woodland cottage.

• Not all beams need be rustic. Painted beams can create a stunning look in a contemporary style home. Imagine the airy feeling created by white walls paired with painted white beams in a vaulted ceiling. Or consider how glossy black beams might look in a modern-day room featuring chrome and glass accents.

• Real or faux beams can be installed horizontally or along the sloped sides of a vaulted ceiling, or both.

• A single beam that spans the length of the ceiling from one end to the other at the highest point is known as a ridge beam, and it can be installed in conjunction with horizontal and sloped members to create the look of massive roof trusses. Vertical members can be included to help support the horizontal members.

• Beefy arched beams set in a high vaulted ceiling will impart a cathedral feel to a large room.

• Steel beams, interspersed with exposed ductwork, can create the currently trendy industrial look.

All You Need to Know About Exposed Ceiling Beams



There can be some downsides to exposed ceiling beams. The following points should be considered before making your decision:

• Exposed beams in a vaulted or elevated ceiling can be difficult to keep clean. Long handled dusters can assist in the removal of light dust buildup, but if the beams get grimier, such as those above a kitchen cooktop tend to do, you may need to climb a ladder or set up scaffolding once or twice a year to clean.

• Expect an increase in your utility bills if you opt to remove a dropped ceiling to expose beams, because you’ll have more space to heat and cool. Installing one or two ceiling fans can help recirculate heated air that rises to the peak of the ceiling; radiant flooring can also help focus heat at the floor level.

• If you’re building from scratch and want real beams, expect to pay an additional 10 to 15 percent more for your home. Real beams cost more than standard framing lumber, and because they’re heavy and unwieldy, labor costs to install them are also higher.

How To: Cut Granite

Follow these steps to size a granite slab or tiles to a perfect fit for your new countertop or backsplash.

How to Cut Granite


A popular choice for kitchen and bathroom upgrades, polished and sealed granite has the timeless allure, durability, and low maintenance few other materials can match. But this natural stone is pricey, running between $15 and $40 per square foot, with professional installation adding another $25 to $35 per square foot. One way to save considerable cash on your dreamy update? Learning how to cut granite yourself.

Granite is extremely dense and hard, so you must proceed with patience and the proper tools to get the job done. Here’s all the guidance you need to successfully cut granite slabs (typically 1¼” thick, but ranging up to 1½” thick) and tiles (of about 3/8” thick) for your home improvement project.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Sturdy work surface
Painter’s tape
Tape measure
Indelible marker
Safety goggles
Dust mask
Ear protection
Circular saw (wet or dry)
Diamondcut saw blade
Wettile saw (for granite tiles)
Shoptype vacuum
Damp rag

How to Cut Granite



Choose either a standard circular saw or a wet-cut circular saw to cut granite. Either will work, but the wet-cut circular saw will produce very little dust, thanks to a small tube that drizzles water onto the surface of the granite as you cut. Cut granite slab outdoors if possible to simplify cleanup.

Position the granite slab on a sturdy work surface, and use C-clamps, attaching one every couple of feet along the sides of the slab, to secure it tightly. A designated workbench works well, but avoid placing the slab on a something that could shift, such as sawhorses. By securing the piece with clamps, you’ll reduce vibration and movement of the slab, both of which can lead to chipping.

Protect yourself by wearing a dust mask, safety goggles, and ear protection. Cutting granite is loud, and it’s a dusty prospect without a wet-cut circular saw.

Cover the section of granite you intend to cut with painter’s tape. Because the tape will simply serve to protect the surface and reduce the risk of chipping, the placement of the tape needn’t be precise. Just place two or three strips along the topside in the general area where you’ll be cutting—you’ll be cutting right through it.

Measure carefully and make a cutline on top of the painter’s tape with a marker. The wise carpenters’ adage of “measure twice; cut once” applies here. Take your time and recheck your measurements to ensure you’ll be cutting in the exact place. When cutting granite, you’ll have only one chance to get it right.

Fit a diamond blade labeled for cutting granite onto the saw. Then, make a short “back-cut,” about two inches long, from the end of the cutline in. This will reduce the risk of the granite chipping as you cut from the other end and reach this spot.

Making the back-cut is a must because the granite material becomes very thin just before the sawblade breaks through the last bit of stone at the end of the slab. Without the back-cut, vibrations from the saw could likely cause chipping or even break off a chunk.

After making the back-cut, reposition the saw at the opposite end of the slab and cut slowly along the cutline. Focus on keeping the blade aligned precisely on the cutline and maintain light and steady pressure on the saw without forcing it, letting the blade do the work. Use the same light pressure until you’ve finished the cut. Depending on the length of the cut, this could take 15 minutes or longer.

Peel the tape from the granite and admire your smooth, clean cut. Allow the granite dust to settle and suck it up with a shop-type vacuum. If you used a wet-cut circular saw, you’ll find a thin wet slurry instead of dust; wipe this off the slab with a damp rag. Slurry left on a sidewalk or driveway can be easily rinsed away with a garden hose.

How to Cut Granite



Make cuts in granite tile with a wet-tile saw. Unlike a circular saw, which is handheld, a wet-tile saw is stationary and the tile rests on a sliding table. Wet-tile saws vary widely; some come with lasers to help align the tiles, adjustable guides, or the ability to make beveled cuts, but they all work on the same principle.

Fit the tile saw with a diamond blade labeled suitable for cutting granite. A blade designed to cut ceramic tile or marble isn’t adequate. Granite is harder than ceramic and marble—a blade designed to cut those types of tile will barely make a dent in a granite.

Carefully measure how much you need to cut from the tile and then make the cutline with an indelible marker. A regular marker can wash off while cutting granite. Any errant ink that remains on the tile post-cut can be removed with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a rag.

Fill the reservoir on the wet-tile saw to the “Fill” line with water.

Position the tile on the sliding table and align the cutline with the blade. Secure it in place using the guides. (Check your owner’s manual if you have questions as to how to use the guides on your machine.)

Turn on the saw and use only light forward pressure on the sliding table; let the spinning motion of the blade do most of the work. As you cut granite, water will flow freely over the blade and the tile, which eliminates dust, cools the blade, and reduces the risk of chipping.

Turn the saw off before removing cut pieces of granite tile from the sliding table. Drain the tile saw reservoir and wipe up any spilled or splattered water or slurry with a rag. Hose down outdoor surfaces with a regular garden hose if necessary.

Solved! What Causes Bubbling Paint—and What to Do About It

To clear up this common paint problem, use our guide to find the root cause and remedy the problem before your next paint job.

5 Causes for Bubbling Paint—and How to Fix It


Q: I re-painted my kitchen walls a month ago with great results, but woke up today to see the paint bubbling. What could have caused this effect long after my paint job and how do I eliminate it?

A: The type of paint blemish you describe, also known as blistering, is a result of the paint losing its adhesion to the base coat of paint or substrate (the underlying surface) such as drywall, plaster, and wood. Where the paint pulls away, air- or water-filled bubbles form—some deflating or popping on their own during the drying process, others hardening in place.

The sudden onset of paint bubbling in your kitchen isn’t altogether surprising since oil-based or latex (water-based) paint coats can be forced free at any time, from hours to months after application. Sure, you could paint over it to smooth the surface out, but that’s not a long-term solution—the troublesome bubbling paint would likely re-emerge soon enough, rendering the second paint job a waste of time. Instead, the best means to remove the bubbles is to first identify what caused them and address the problem to prevent it from ruining your next coat. The following factors are the most common culprits for bubbling paint and, therefore, smart places to start.

RELATED: 12 Easy Fixes for a Botched Paint Job

5 Causes for Bubbling Paint—and How to Fix It


The painting surface was dirty. Ever wonder why the first step of painting a room often involves cleaning the wall? Dust, dirt, and grime inevitably collect on interior walls and ceilings over time, and fresh paint has difficulty adhering to surfaces clogged with these loose particles. As the new paint dries and, to some extent, shrinks, it will lift up from soiled areas of the surface and forms unsightly bubbles around specks of grime. These are examples of those confined to the top coat, i.e. the bubbles won’t extend down to the substrate.

You can course-correct using the scraping-and-patching technique outlined in the last section of this article. Then, to prevent paint from blistering in the future, thoroughly clean the surface with a sponge dampened with soapy water followed by a dry rag. Let the surface air-dry completely before applying primer and paint to the patched areas.

You skipped the primer. Porous substrates like bare drywall or plaster absorb more of both the pigments and resins (binders) found in paint than substrates that have been sealed with primer. As a result, your base coat of paint will have a thinner binder film than necessary for the next paint coat to stick to. Where new paint doesn’t stick to the base coat, it tends to lift off and result in a bubbling top coat.

If you notice paint bubbles after a primer-free paint application, remove the bubbles using the scraping-and-patching technique outlined below, clean the surface, then apply a stain-blocking primer to the surface before re-painting it. Either oil-based or latex primer will do; pick yours to match the type of paint you plan to roll on afterward. (If you’re still deciding on the new top coat, keep in mind that oil-based primer is more resistant to moisture, making it a better choice in high-moisture spaces like bathrooms or kitchens.)

The primer will seal pores in the substrate, ultimately affording a thicker base coat with adequate binders that subsequent paint coats can stick to without bubbling. Just remember that the primer itself needs to dry fully before paint application, or else the solvent component of paint that is meant to evaporate during dry time will instead become trapped beneath the top paint coat and lead to blistering.

The painting surface or surroundings were moist. Excess moisture on your painted walls—whether from water droplets, high humidity, leaks, or plumbing problems—can cause water-filled bubbles in the paint, originating anywhere from the substrate level to between the top two coats. These types of bubbles are common to bathrooms and kitchens, where liquids or condensation in the form of cooking fumes are present on surfaces, or in spaces like basements without adequate ventilation to moderate humidity levels.

Your first order of business (before even scraping away the bubbles) is to inspect and address the source of the moisture, whether that’s a roof leak, basement flooding, bathroom humidity, loose plumbing connections beneath a sink, or leaky caulking. Once you’ve remedied the problem, scrape, patch, clean, and dry the walls. Before you prime and paint, minimize the possibility of moisture impacting your finished paint job by checking that the room’s humidity levels are moderate—ideally anywhere from 40 to 80 percent, as measured by a hygrometer (available on Amazon or at home improvement stores for between $10 and $20). Then, keep the fresh paint coat away from moisture until it dries fully; for example, avoid turning on the shower in a freshly painted bathroom until the coat has cured.

The painting surface or surroundings were too hot. Extreme heat—common in kitchens, living rooms, and other spaces containing heat-generating appliances or lots of direct sunlight—soon after a fresh paint job can cause the top coat to dry unevenly at a faster-than-average rate, leading to bubbles just underneath the surface.

To repair heat-induced paint bubbling, remove the bubbles with a scraper (outlined below), clean and prime the surface, then ensure the indoor temperature falls between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit before painting (check the manufacturer’s instructions on your paint packaging for the specific temperature recommendation). During paint application and drying, rely on indoor lighting as a light source and aim to shut blinds and close doors that typically invite direct sunlight, since it can increase indoor temperature and the potential risk of paint blistering.

You painted with the wrong roller cover. A roller cover’s type or and nap length vary to provide ideal paint coverage on a number of materials; choose one that’s ill-suited for the texture of your surface (e.g. using a short nap roller cover on an extremely rough surface) and you’ll have uneven paint coverage and paint bubbles down the road. When painting a smooth or semi-smooth surface like untextured drywall or plaster that you might find in the kitchen, you’ll want to enlist either a foam or a short nap roller cover (3/16- to ¼-inch nap for smooth or ⅜- to ½-inch for semi-smooth); this applicator will create minimal gaps with each stroke to aid in optimal paint adhesion. A medium nap roller cover (¾- to 1-inch) is recommended for moderately rough surfaces like stucco, and a long nap roller cover (1-¼- to 1-½-inch) should be saved for extremely rough surfaces like textured drywall.

To repair bubbling caused by the use of an improper roller cover, eliminate the paint bubbles using the scraping-and-patching method outlined below. Then clean, dry, prime, and paint the surface—this time with the correct tools for the job.

5 Causes for Bubbling Paint—and How to Fix It


Banish the bubbles so that you can correct your mistakes. Once you’ve identified and adjusted for the cause of the bubbling paint, you’re ready to remove the blemishes altogether. Lay several drop cloths on the floor below the painting surface to collect falling debris. Then, donning a dust mask and goggles, enlist a putty knife to file away the bumps using a gentle vertical or horizontal scraping motion. When you’re finished, rinse the putty knife with water, dry it with a rag, then use it again to fill any holes or cracks in the substrate with a thin, even layer of quick-setting patching compound. Let the compound dry overnight, then lightly sand the dried compound until smooth with fine-grit sandpaper.

On top of cleaning, drying, priming, and starting the paint job in the appropriate conditions, your method of painting can help your finished product. Abide by the following painting tips for a bubble-free result:

Stir paint slowly. Enlist a wooden stirrer or a paint-mixing power drill attachment to stir paint as slowly and for as short a duration as possible. Rapid stirring for a prolonged period can introduce air bubbles into the paint that might persist in the dried paint coat.

Apply paint gradually if using a roller. If you see bubbles forming in the paint coat, slow down your stroke speed.

Avoid applying oil-based paint directly over latex paint. The oil and water bases won’t bind, and the resulting lack of adhesion between the coats can cause blistering in the oil-based coat.