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How To: Cut Glass Tile

Glass tiles are an attractive option for backsplashes and bathrooms, but they can be easily damaged during installation. Here, review the right techniques for cutting glass tile for a project of any scale without shattering this beautiful, durable material.

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How to Cut Glass Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

Glass tiles are still enjoying their day in the sun as homeowners continue to incorporate these trendy tiles into their home renovation projects. With their easy-to-clean, glossy surface, durability, and versatility, glass tiles provide an attractive option for backsplashes, shower walls, and bathroom accents. What’s more, glass tiles have a clear or jewel-toned hue that radiates light, producing a shimmering effect you won’t find in ceramic tiles.

Installing glass tiles is a DIY-friendly project that requires little in the way of grunt work. That said, however, cutting the tiles to fit in corners or around outlets can be tricky, because the glass surface tends to shatter easily. The best tools to use for cutting glass tile depend on the size of the project and the type of tile you’re installing. To cover all possible scenarios, we detail below how to cut glass tile using four different tools: a wet saw, a manual scoring wheel, a bar cutter, and wheeled mosaic nippers.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Wet saw
- Washable marker
- Rubber gloves
- Damp rag
- Glass scouring wheel
- Straightedge
- Grozing pliers or running pliers
- Rubbing stone
- Manual bar tile cutter
- Wheeled mosaic nippers
- Protective eyewear

Preparing to Cut Glass Tile

For best results, create a dry layout of your tile pattern before installation. This will allow you to adjust and finalize the placement of tiles before permanently attaching them to the wall. Position cut tiles in areas where the sliced edges will be least apparent, such as along the top portion of a backsplash where the tile touches the underside of the cabinets.

How to Cut Glass Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cutting Glass Tile with a Wet Saw

A wet saw is especially helpful if you’re tiling a large area that requires many straight cuts, such as a shower. Using a wet saw is a time-effective method for achieving clean edges while reducing the risk of damaging the glass tiles. The saw releases a steady stream of water as the blade cuts through the tile, which decreases friction and cools the cut edge, resulting in a smoother cut with minimal breakage. These powerful saws range in price from around $100 for an inexpensive model to more than $1,000 for a high-end contractor-grade tool. If you don’t want to shell out big bucks for a saw you’ll use only once or twice, you can inquire at a construction tool rental store, or even your local big-box hardware store, about renting one. A quality wet saw that costs $500 to buy can often be rented for around $50 per day.

STEP 1
Measure the tile to be cut, and use a washable marker to draw a cutting guideline on its surface. Later on, after you’re done cutting, you should be able to easily wipe away any remaining marker line with a clean, damp rag.

STEP 2
Pull on rubber gloves (leather or fabric gloves will quickly become saturated with water) and then turn on the wet saw. Let it run for around 15 seconds, allowing the water to flow freely over the saw blade.

STEP 3
Align the glass tile with the cutting guide on the wet saw, and carefully cut along the guideline you drew. Feed the tile through the saw slowly, moving away from you with light but steady pressure until you’ve cut through. Power down the saw after the cuts have been made, and wipe away remaining traces of marker with a damp cloth.

 

How to Cut Glass Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

Manually Score and Cut Glass Tiles

Before the invention of tile saws, artisans manually scored and cut thick glass to create stained-glass windows and glass mosaics. Cutting glass tiles manually takes longer than using a wet saw and is more likely to result in uneven breaks, yet professional tile setters still use this method today, particularly when cutting small tiles. Manual glass scoring wheels are inexpensive, with prices starting at around $15. You’ll also need a pair of grozing pliers or running pliers, which are glass-specific tools you can buy for under $20. Once you have the appropriate tools, practice scoring and snapping a few sample glass tiles before diving into the project to make sure you understand how much pressure you’ll need to use.

STEP 1
Place the glass tile on a flat surface, face up, and draw your cut line. Then, take a straightedge and align it over your cut line. Position the scoring wheel at the far end of the tile, then pull it toward you along the straightedge to ensure an even cut. Press firmly enough that you hear a distinct crackling sound as the scoring wheel rolls along the glass. The scoring wheel will create a weak line on the surface of the glass.

STEP 2
With the tile still facing upward, place grozing pliers on the section of glass you want to break off (positioned parallel to the scored cut) and snap downward. Alternatively, you can break the tile along the scored line with running pliers, which feature a slightly curved head that gently compresses the tile at the scored line. To use running pliers, place the center of the pliers directly on one end of the scored line, with the jaws of the pliers positioned perpendicular to the line, and press down. The movement will apply even pressure to the glass on both sides of the scored line, allowing the glass to split along the length of the line for a clean cut.

STEP 3
Smooth the cut edge of the glass tile, if necessary, with a rubbing stone before installing. A rubbing stone, which retails for around $7, is similar to a knife-sharpening stone, but with slightly larger grit for polishing away sharp edges of glass.

How to Cut Glass Tile

Photo: amazon.com

Cutting Glass Tile with a Bar Cutter

Using a bar cutter to cut glass tiles is more efficient than using a scoring wheel and pliers, because the machine can both score and cut the tile. (Some bar cutters only score the tile, while others include a pressure foot that snaps the tile along the scored line.) Inexpensive bar cutters start around $25 and go up from there according to weight and quality. More expensive models often come with measurement tools for cutting precise angles.

STEP 1
Measure the glass tile and mark the desired cut lines, then position the tile on the cutting pad of the bar cutter. Carefully align the marked line with the cutting guide on the bar cutter.

STEP 2
Score the glass tile by pulling the scoring handle (or knob) along the tile away from you.

STEP 3
If your tool is equipped with a pressure foot, use it to snap the tile along the scored line. Otherwise, you can manually snap the tile with running pliers or grozing pliers, as described above.

STEP 4
If necessary, use a rubbing stone to remove any shards, and wipe away the marker with a damp cloth.

 

How to Cut Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nipping Glass Tiles with Wheeled Mosaic Nippers

Mosaic nippers are most often used to cut small, irregularly shaped pieces of glass tile to be used in artistic designs. While with any of the methods outlined here it’s helpful to practice on a few spare tiles before leaping ahead, practice is particularly important here. Nipping is not as precise as scoring or cutting with a wet saw. Wheeled nippers are similar to regular pliers, but instead of flat heads, this $15 tool features sharp upper and lower carbide wheels that cut through the glass.

STEP 1
Draw guidelines in marker on your glass tile.

STEP 2
Wear protective eyewear and don’t nip tiles while other people are nearby, as these cuts will send nipped glass shooting across the room. Hold the nippers in your hand (the same way you would hold ordinary pliers), keeping them close to your work surface, and position the edge of the wheels along the line you wish to cut.

STEP 3
Squeeze the nipper’s handles forcefully to cut through the tile.


How to Cut Glass Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cutting Curves in Glass Tile

If you’re laying glass tile around a pipe or other curved object, straight lines just won’t do. You can, however, achieve a smooth curve by using a scoring tool, wet saw, grozing pliers, and a rubbing stone in combination, and blending some of the methods detailed above.

STEP 1
Draw the curved line on the glass tile in washable marker, then carefully pull the handheld glass scoring tool toward you along the marked guideline. Since you’ll likely be doing this freehand, without the equivalent of a straightedge to guide the tool, work slowly and precisely.

STEP 2
With a wet saw, make multiple straight cuts (approximately 3/8 inch apart), starting from the edge of the portion of the tile that you’re planning to discard, to the scored line, working perpendicular to the scored line. These cuts will result in narrow spokes of glass. As you near the edges of your curve, your straight cuts will shorten.

STEP 3
Snap off the skinny rows of glass one at a time using grozing pliers until you’re left with just the curved glass tile.

STEP 4
Smooth and polish the cut with a rubbing stone. Once you’ve wiped away the glass shavings and marker with a damp cloth, the tile is ready to be installed on your sleek new surface.


Hyde Tools Interactive Photo Test

Testing. Testing 1, 2, 3. Testing. Testing. Testing 1, 2, 3. Testing.

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All You Need to Know About Soapstone Countertops

Find out if this natural beauty is the best choice for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade.

Soapstone Countertops

Photo: doradosoapstone.com

If your kitchen or bathroom remodel wish list includes natural stone countertops, consider eco-sensitive soapstone. The warm look and cool feel of soapstone countertops add distinctive character to any space it’s installed—and because it’s more DIY-doable than other stone options, the choice can mean substantial savings. Get the info you need here to be an informed shopper at the showroom.

WHAT IS SOAPSTONE?
Also known as steatite, soapstone has been a favorite of sculptors for centuries. It contains the mineral talc—yes, as in talcum powder—making it relatively soft. Depending on the amount of talc present, soapstone varies on the Mohs scale (a 10-point ranking system for mineral hardness developed by geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Moh) between 1 and 5; most soapstone in today’s countertops commonly rank between 2.5 and 3.5. That makes it similar in hardness to marble, with a Mohs value of 3, and much softer than quartz, with a Mohs value of 7. While hardness is desirable in a countertop for structural stability, what soapstone lacks in hardness, it makes up in density. Soapstone particles are extremely compact—more so than those of quartz, marble, or granite—which makes it more sanitary and easier to wipe clean.

 

Soapstone Countertop In Kitchen

Photo: thestonestudio.biz

WHAT ARE SOAPSTONE’S PROS AND CONS?
Smooth, beautiful soapstone doesn’t require a sealant to protect its good looks. Its impenetrable surface reduces the risk of bacterial growth, always a plus in a kitchen or bath. Often used in the construction of fireplaces, soapstone is among the most heat-resistant stone available, so setting a hot pan on the countertop won’t crack the surface.

Soapstone darkens over time, however, via a natural process akin to oxidation, so it will eventually develop a distinct patina that some homeowners find appealing and others don’t. The main downside to soapstone, however, is its tendency to scratch or chip under heavy wear. Accidentally dropping a cast iron skillet on the counter could result in a chip, and chopping food directly on its surface would surely leave knife marks.

 

Soapstone Countertops Price

Photo: Zillow Digs Home in Washington, D.C.

WHAT DOES SOAPSTONE COST?
Because it’s DIY-friendly, a homeowner skilled in basic carpentry can save money by purchasing soapstone slabs and doing the installation. Raw soapstone slabs range in price from $45 to $85 per square foot, depending on where the stone was quarried and its talc content (lower talc content—and a harder surface—is usually more expensive).

Professional installation can raise the cost an additional $50 to $65 per square foot, bringing the total for professionally installed soapstone countertops to between $95 and $150 per square foot.  Thicker slabs (standard thickness is 1 ¼ inch), such custom add-ons as grooved drainage boards, and elaborate edge profiles will add to the final cost.  As a comparison, quartz and granite countertops, both of which require professional installation, can run as high as $200 per square foot, installed.

 

Soapstone Slab

Photo: istockphoto.com

HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST LOOK?
Depending on the region where it’s quarried, soapstone ranges in color from soft white and light gray to deep charcoal, with most types exhibiting gentle veining. Some contains hints of pearl, blue or green, but the most prevalent hues are whites and grays. Remember soapstone’s tendency to darken over time: A pale gray will eventually weather to a deeper, richer shade of gray, while a dark gray countertop may eventually appear almost black. And as products of nature, no two soapstone slabs will be identical, so expect a slight discrepancy between joined slabs. To help you decide on a shade, visit a kitchen showroom for some samples that you can study in the lighting of your own kitchen. Keep in mind additional design and color changes you’re planning for the remodel, and imagine how the countertop will look in the finished room.

 

Soapstone Sink

Photo: doradosoapstone.com

WHAT DOES INSTALLATION ENTAIL?
As mentioned, soapstone countertops are one such kitchen or bathroom addition that can be left to the pros or DIYed to better adhere to a renovation budget.

• If you’re having the countertops professionally installed, request that a company representative come out and take your kitchen measurements, instead of submitting your own measurements. That way, you won’t be stuck paying for an error if a slab doesn’t fit. Soapstone fabricators create a template from the measurements and then cut the slab to match exactly.

• If you’ve got basic carpentry skills and are comfortable using power tools, you may choose to install soapstone yourself. Due to its high talc content, it’s reasonably simple to cut soapstone slabs with a regular circular saw, fitted with a diamond-tip masonry blade. Holes for drop-in sinks as well as a shaped profile edge can be cut using a router with a diamond bit. You’ll get the straightest, cleanest cuts if you clamp a straightedge to the soapstone to serve as a cutting guide. Be sure to apply masking tape to the countertop’s surface on both sides of the cutline to reduce the risk of scratching the surface with the saw foot during cutting. But it’s recommended that DIYers create a template from thin plywood, like the pros do, and make sure the measurements are precise before transferring the pattern to the actual soapstone. Once the soapstone has been cut, all edges (including the stock slab’s rough square edges) are easy to sand smooth with 200-grit sandpaper.

Standard soapstone slabs are 84 inches long, so if your countertop is longer, it will require one or more seams. Professional installers position seams where they’re least visible, such as in front of a sink or a drop-in cooktop. The slabs are heavy and unwieldy, so you’ll have to recruit strong helpers to assist in lifting and positioning the countertop. Soapstone seams are filled with compatible two-part adhesive. Once the adhesive sets, any over-fill can be sanded away. Sinks and cooktops should be installed, per their manufacturer instructions, once the countertop is in position.

The standard process for installing a soapstone countertop is to first ensure than the counter base is perfectly level. If not, insert shims beneath the base to level it. The slab installs directly on the base, no underlayment necessary. When the cabinet base is ready, you’ll make all the necessary cuts for seams and cutouts before positioning the slab. Drop-in sinks and cooktops come with their own cutout templates.

Soapstone is heavy, and once the countertop is positioned on the cabinet base, its weight will hold it in place, but you’ll still need to apply a bead of sealant to the seams on the underside of the countertop, where the slab meets the base.

 

Cleaning Soapstone Countertops

Photo: Zillow Digs Home in Santa Barbara, CA

HOW DO I KEEP SOAPSTONE LOOKING GREAT?
Because it requires no sealing, soapstone is relatively low-maintenance. With minimum care, your new countertop can retain its good looks for many years.

• Enhance your counter’s natural darkening progression by applying mineral oil to the surface every week or two and rubbing it in thoroughly. The mineral oil treatment will make the patina more uniform. It usually takes seven to nine months for the countertop to reach its full patina.

• Once the patina is fully developed, apply mineral oil if the countertop begins to look dry to restore luster and sheen. Once or twice a year is usually sufficient.

• Clean soapstone countertops with an all-purpose kitchen cleaner or mild soap and a dishrag.

• While the heat from cookware straight off the stove won’t damage the countertop, if the pan is rough on the bottom, such as a cast iron skillet, it could scratch the surface. Use trivets!

• Chop and dice food on a cutting board, not on your countertop.

• Minimize chips and dings that do occur by coloring them in with a matching permanent marker and then rubbing mineral oil over the surface.

• Oil and grease can discolor new soapstone, so wipe up spills promptly and, if necessary, rub a bit of acetone (nail polish remover will suffice) on an oil stain to lighten it. Once your countertop reaches its full patina, oil discoloration won’t be a problem.

• If your soapstone countertop develops an uneven patina, you can remove it by sanding the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper, and then applying the mineral oil process described above to help the new patina develop uniformly.

• While there are products on the market that claim to seal soapstone against darkening, they cannot penetrate the countertop’s dense surface, so they must be applied once or twice a month. If you’re worried about the darkening effect of soapstone, it might be better to choose a different countertop material such as quartz or granite, which won’t darken over time.


Buyer’s Guide: Air Purifiers for Allergies

Air purifiers help eliminate dust, dander, pollen, mold, and other airborne contaminants that contribute to respiratory issues. Check out our guide for the lowdown on how to pick the best purifier to combat your asthma and allergies.

Best Air Purifier for Allergies

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nobody wants to breathe in dust, dander, pollen, and mold. Unfortunately, though, the air in our homes is loaded with these pollutants, thanks to poor ventilation systems and the use of household chemicals, gas-burning appliances, and smoke-producing tobacco products. The airborne irritants act as allergens and can cause many respiratory issues—especially in those who suffer from asthma and allergies. Air purifiers can help alleviate these negative health effects by removing contaminants from the air. Before you buy one, however, it’s a good idea to consider the following factors to ensure that you’re choosing the best air purifier for allergies.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?
The best air purifiers draw air through one or more filters, which trap the impurities before recirculating clean air back into the room. These machines work in a similar manner to masks worn by surgeons in the operating room: As the surgeons breathe, airborne particles become trapped on the inside surface of the mask, preventing germs from being transmitted from doctor to patient. Both the masks and air purifiers act as filters that allow air to pass through but blocks other damaging particles. Purifiers equipped with high-quality filters can better remove unwanted dust, animal dander, pollen, mold spores, and other pollutants from the air.

The Right Filter for the Best Air Purifier for Allergies

Photo: istockphoto.com

HEPA: Best Filter for Allergy Sufferers
Air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are most effective at removing the airborne irritants that plague allergy sufferers. These filters are certified to trap 99.97 percent of all particles of a certain length (0.3 microns or larger). Most pollutants are so microscopic that they can’t be seen by the human eye, so investing in a reliable filter is crucial. The downside of HEPA filters is their replacement cost, which runs anywhere from $25 to $100, depending on size. Some purifiers incorporate additional filters to trap larger particles before they reach the HEPA filter; buying a purifier with this design will help your HEPA filter last longer.

Additional Filtering Options
• Carbon filters can reduce the amount of some volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gaseous particles often found in paint, varnish, cleaning products, carpeting, wood preservatives, and other common household items. These filters can also remove odors. But they, too, must be replaced every few months to maintain effectiveness. For best results, carbon filters should be included as part of the prefiltering system in units that also contain HEPA filters.

• Ozone-producing air cleaners claim to work by increasing oxygen molecules and activating negative ions to eliminate harmful airborne bacteria. The EPA has determined, however, that ozone is detrimental to the human respiratory system. For that reason, some health experts discourage the use of ozone-producing air cleaners and their use is often regulated.

• Ion-exchange technology and electrostatic technology can increase the effectiveness of filter-type air purifiers by attracting particles through static electricity and trapping them. When combined with HEPA filtering, these products can be quite effective. They require frequent cleaning, however, to keep them working well. After conducting extensive tests on air purifiers, Consumer Reports warned that some ion-exchange and electrostatic purifiers can emit ozone as a by-product of purifying the air. We recommend checking the purifier’s operating manual (or the information on the box) to ensure that a specific model does not emit ozone.

Choosing an Air Purifier That Meets Your Needs
When shopping for a purifier, consider the filter replacement cost as well as the machine’s initial price. An inexpensive unit that requires expensive replacement filters may not be a bargain. Air purifiers with HEPA filters range in price from around $100 for small units to upwards of $900 for high-capacity models with multiple filtering systems that treat large areas.

Air purifiers are tested and rated according to the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scale, which indicates the volume of air that a particular machine can clear of a given size of particle, as measured in cubic feet per minute. Ratings for pollen range from 25 to 450, 10 to 450 for tobacco smoke, and 10 to 400 for dust, with a higher rating correlating with greater efficiency. The purifier’s box and the owner’s manual should also indicate the machine’s air-cleaning capacity according to room size, meaning that it’s been tested and was effective in purifying the air in a room of a given area. For example, the Honeywell HPA300 we recommend below is CADR rated for spaces up to 465 square feet. Keep in mind, however, that dirty filters reduce an air purifier’s effectiveness. To increase the useful life of any HEPA filter, take additional steps to keep the air clean, such as vacuuming and dusting daily, banning indoor smoking, and limiting the use of candles.

Bells and Whistles
First-time air purifier shoppers may be surprised at the technology incorporated in even the less expensive models. Multiple speed settings, programmable day and night cycles, sealed systems for noise reduction, and remote controls are common features for many brands. Despite manufacturer’s claims, however, not all air purifiers perform at the same level. We’ve scouted reviews from consumers and publications alike to zero in on the today’s options for the best air purifier for allergies. Check out our leading contenders below.

TOP PICKS FOR PURIFIERS

Best Air Purifier for Allergies - Honeywell HPA300

Photo: amazon.com

Honeywell HPA300 ($175) 
For the purifier’s exceptional ability to remove smoke, dust, and pollen, Consumer Reports recommends the Honeywell HPA300, which also won top honors for its large-capacity HEPA filter. More than 900 Amazon customers agree, awarding the Honeywell a strong 4.4 out of 5 stars. With an activated carbon prefilter, this economic model is rated for spaces up to 465 square feet, with CADR scores of 300 (tobacco smoke), 320 (dust), and 300 (pollen). Customers love the Honeywell HPA300’s electronic reminder system, which lets them know when to replace the filters. The machine comes with three regular purifying levels and a Turbo Clean level. A height of 13.2 inches and weight of 21 pounds makes the easy-to-relocate unit ideal for living rooms and other mid- to large-size spaces. Replacement filters run about $40 for a HEPA two-pack, and $10 for a single carbon filter. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Air Purifier for Allergies - Coway Purifier

Photo: amazon.com

Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier ($223)
Thanks to its high performance, sleek appearance, and affordable filter replacement cost, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier gets a big thumbs-up from Business Insider. Amazon buyers gave the Coway Mighty 4.4 stars and rave about the machine’s features, which include a filter replacement indicator and an air quality indicator that automatically switches the machine into different gears based on air particle conditions. Users also report that the unit’s four-stage filtration system successfully removes unpleasant household odors. Weighing in at 12.3 pounds and standing just 18 inches tall, this compact purifier has a CADR rating of 233 (smoke), 246 (dust), and 240 (pollen) in spaces up to 360 square feet, which means that this machine is best suited for small- to medium-size rooms. Filter replacement cost (for a package of two carbon prefilters and a single HEPA filter) runs about $50. Available on Amazon

 

Best Air Purifier for Allergies - Winix Air Purifier

Photo: homedepot.com

Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with PlasmaWave Technology ($186)
Home Depot shoppers rave about the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with PlasmaWave Technology, awarding it a stellar rating of 4.7 stars. This model is also a top performer in extensive Sweethome testing, where it reduced particulate concentration in a room to just 10 percent of its original concentration after 20 minutes. The Winix 5500-2 employs a three-stage filtration process and comes with a HEPA Plus-4 filter that incorporates a built-in carbon prefilter. It’s also equipped with smart sensors that gauge air quality and PlasmaWave technology that breaks down chemical vapors without producing harmful ozone. The Winix has CADR scores of 232 (smoke), 243 (dust), and 246 (pollen), and features a sleep mode for near-silent night operation. At less than 15 inches high and weighing 18 pounds, the Winix is best suited for small- to mid-size rooms up to 360 square feet. A replacement HEPA Plus-4 filter runs about $45. Available on HomeDepot.com.


So, You Want to… Rekey a Lock

Thinking about changing out the locks to improve your home's security? Start here for a better grasp on when—and how—to rekey rather than replace them altogether.

How to Rekey a Lock

Photo: istockphoto.com

Key rings can get crowded (and heavy!) fast, when you consider all that you load up on them: keys for your car, front door, side door, back door, mailbox, maybe even your mother-in-law’s, and a handful of miniature rewards cards sized and punched to conveniently hang. Carrying that whole lot will cause your pockets to jingle with each step and you to waste precious minutes every day fumbling for the correct copy to the door or locker you are interested in opening. Fortunately, rekeying a few of your locks offers an easy, affordable, and even DIY solution can lighten your load. Understand when, why, and how to rekey a lock with this handy guide.

What it Means to Rekey a Lock

A pin and tumbler lock—the kind of lock found on locking doorknobs and deadbolts—contains a steel cutaway that holds a cylindrical plug and a number of springs and pins that allow a specific key shape to turn in the lock. In order for a key to turn the locking mechanism, the configuration of the pins must match the depth of the unique grooves on that key.

When you want the lock to open with a different existing key—say, so you no longer want to use separate keys to enter the front, back, and side doors—the lock must be disassembled and the pins, which are of various heights, removed and replaced by new pins that match the cuts and grooves in the new key.

How to Rekey a Lock to Match Your Current Key

Photo: istockphoto.com

Reasons to Rekey a Lock

As mentioned, rekeying makes most sense for homeowners who prefer to have a single key that opens all of their door locks to the home or apartment. This process can lighten a full key ring to a few essentials, taking up less space in your pocket or bag as well as less time spent searching for the right one.

However, rekeying a lock can also improve a building’s security measures. After a new home construction—during which a number of people might have copies of door keys, including contractors, subcontractors, and inspectors—new homeowners may want to make sure they have the only keys to their home before they take possession. Likewise, it’s also a common practice for landlords and property managers to have door locks rekeyed every time a new resident moves in. Whether you’re moving into a previously owned home or have simply misplaced a set of spare keys, rekeying is an alternative to replacing the lock altogether that provides the peace of mind that comes with knowing no one else has a key to your home.

When to Replace a Lock Versus Rekeying

Both replacing and rekeying a lock effectively change out a lock to limit access, but there are some cases in which you have to go through the motions of both processes.

• If you’ve lost the key that opens your existing lock(s), you won’t be able to disassemble the lock for rekeying. First replace the lock.

• Rekeying won’t fix a worn or damaged lock. You’ll probably have to replace the lock with a cracked or warped locking mechanism soon, anyway, so consider doing so first. Then, if your goal was to change the locks so that you have the only key, you’re set; you only need to rekey if you want multiple locks to share one key.

• When rekeying multiple locks to fit a single key, all locks must first have been made by the same manufacturer. For example, if your front door lock is a Schlage, the other locks you want rekeyed to match must also be made by Schlage. You cannot rekey a Kwikset or Sargeant lock to open with the same key as a Schlage lock, because different brands of locks have different size keyholes that only accept their own keys. If you’re dealing with multiple lock brands, you’ll need to decide on one and replace the others to match this brand before rekeying.

 

How to Rekey a Lock with a Kit

Photo: flickr.com via taubinphoto

Options for Rekeying a Traditional Lock

Call a locksmith. This is the most expensive option. A locksmith will usually charge a set rate for a service call (often between $40 and $100) and then charge you an additional fee (potentially $10 to $30) for every lock you want rekeyed.

Take the lock (locking knob or deadbolt) to the locksmith, local lumberyard, or hardware store. You’ll have to remove the lock from the door for this option and bring the key that currently opens the lock, but eliminating the house call makes this an inexpensive option. Expect to pay around $5 per lock.

Purchase a rekey kit, made specifically for your brand of lock, and rekey it yourself. If you cannot find a local store that will rekey a lock inexpensively, you can purchase the necessary tools to rekey the lock. Purchase a rekey kit—for a single lock or up to five locks of the same brand—that matches the brand of lock you want to rekey. A rekey kit for a single lock typically costs between $12 and $25 dollars, depending on the brand and type of lock. Hardware stores carry rekeying kits for some of the most common lock brands, but they can also be ordered from lock manufacturers and large online retailers, like Amazon. It contains everything you need to rekey the lock: tiny picks and tweezers, a key gauge (which is used to determine the depth of the cutouts on your new key), an assortment of pins and springs, to replace the existing ones in the lock, and any other tools you’ll need to dissemble and reassemble the lock.

Rekeying Smart-type Locks

Some people—including apartment managers, owners of large office buildings, even regular Airbnb hosts—find it necessary to rekey locks frequently. To address this need, many lock manufacturers have introduced locks with smart-type rekeying technology that enables a manager to rekey the lock in less than a minute and without any disassembly. Instead, the lock’s design uses a special master key to facilitate the quick and easy rekeying, with the smart rekeying process varying from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you’re someone who would benefit from frequent rekeying, exploring today’s options could simplify your life and still tighten security at home.


Bob Vila Radio: Melt Driveway Ice the DIY Way

Sometimes the snow and ice come faster than we can prepare for. If that's the case, don't worry! You already have the supplies for homemade ice melt.

Winter storms sometimes have a way of sneaking up on us. If that happens, and you get another surprise—no ice melt on hand!—don’t despair. Chances are you already have the makings of homemade ice melt on the shelves of your pantry or garage.

Homemade Ice Melt

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON MAKING HOMEMADE ICE MELT or read below:

Although rock salt works better than table salt for melting ice, the stuff you add to your soup can help out. Either type of salt has to permeate the ice, so it does the best job if you pour hot water over patches of ice before spreading the salt.

A common ingredient in commercial fertilizers—ammonium sulfate—also helps in a pinch. It works by effectively lowering the temperature at which ice melts. Careful, though: You’ll want to go easy on use of fertilizer in areas that might drain into municipal sewers and end up in waterways.

Rubbing alcohol is another alternative. You can either pour it on straight or mix it with water in a spray bottle.

Regardless of which method you use, it’s best to include some cupfuls of sand or kitty litter to help with traction.

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


Buyer’s Guide: Garage Heaters

Working in the garage can be a mighty cold experience at some times of the year—but it's nothing a little heat can't fix. Learn about the types of heaters on the market and find out which models may be the best bets.

Best Garage Heater

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you’re an avid DIYer, you know how miserable it can be to work on a project, or even perform routine car maintenance, when the midwinter temperatures leave your fingers frozen. Fortunately, you can banish the shivers—and warm your workshop to toasty temps at which paint and glues bond effectively—with a top-notch garage heater. Before you commit to a particular model, read on for the basics about these appliances and to find out which units consumers think are the best garage heaters on the market.

Know your type. As with any indoor heating system, not all garage heaters control the temperatures in the same way. There are three primary types of heaters you’ll find on the market: forced air, convection, and radiant.

• Forced-air garage heaters vary in size, fuel type, and price, but all operate in the same manner, by cycling blasts of hot air into the space. The gas-powered variety (which ties into your home’s gas line) tends to be cost-effective to operate, because natural gas and propane are often more affordable than the electricity required to produce the same heat. Gas-powered units, however, cost more up front than electric units, and local codes require installation by a licensed professional.

• Convection garage heaters (including water- and oil-filled radiators) rely on an enclosed flame or heating element to warm air within the unit, which then rises naturally without help of a fan. Though these units rate among the most affordable garage and shop heaters on the market, they can take a while to warm your garage to a tolerable temperature. Many are portable, but some—such as baseboard convection heaters—should be mounted.

• Radiant garage heaters feature highly polished reflectors that direct infrared heat outward for spot heating, or, in the case of large overhead units, heating an entire garage. Because radiant heaters offer steady warmth without blowing air, they are well suited to DIYers, particularly those who enjoy finishing wood. Radiant heat will not stir up the unwanted dust particles that can mar a woodworking project’s finish coat. Powered by natural gas, propane, or electricity, these units are available either mounted or portable, and in a range of sizes.

To move or not to move. Look over your garage and determine what you value more: freed-up counter and/or floor space or the ability to move between a few workstations. Knowing this should help you decide whether to look for a stationary or portable garage heater.

• Mounted garage heaters most often attach to the ceiling, but you can also find options that fasten to the wall. Here again, you can pick from a wide variety of energy options, sizes, and prices (ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars). Nearly all models feature adjustable thermostats, built-in safety features, and remote control options. The downside to mounted heaters is that they typically cost more than their portable counterparts because they’re closer to commercial quality. If you’re a dedicated DIYer, though, you’ll appreciate the benefit of not having cords lying around and not running the risk of tripping over a heater on the floor.

Best Garage Heater
Photo: istockphoto.com

No matter the type of heating or fuel used, portable heaters focus warmth where you need it the most. Like space heaters on steroids, forced-air options feature large horizontal tubes that house the heating element and a powerful fan that delivers blasts of hot air. Multifuel forced-air heaters work fast to produce heat, but their powerful fans will stir up sawdust and may make you uncomfortably warm if directed at you. Moreover, some models can produce fumes and water vapor, which make ventilation necessary. Portable electric-powered units typically cost less but can be somewhat less powerful than their multifuel counterparts. Alternatively, portable units can also distribute warmth through radiant heat and convection. Radiant heaters warm objects directly in front of them—think of sitting near a campfire—so you can start feeling toasty in a jiffy if one is pointed in your direction. Convection heaters are better for heating entire rooms because they warm the air, which then circulates naturally, but they won’t offer the intense heating effect of a forced-air or radiant heater.

Pick your power. Consumers have a wide range of energy options to choose from when shopping for a garage heater. While they’re most commonly fueled by electricity, propane, or natural gas, you can also find heaters that run on diesel and kerosene. Because electric garage heaters pull a lot of power, these usually require a designated electrical circuit on its own breaker. (An electrician can tell you if your existing garage wiring is adequate to run an electric heater or if a new circuit should be installed.) If you already have natural gas service to your home, you might want to consider installing a natural gas-powered heater. Propane-powered heaters can be installed on your home’s propane line, or you can purchase individual tanks of propane to fuel smaller heaters.

Consider capacity. At the end of the day, the best garage heater for your space will be the one that produces enough heat for you to comfortably work on your projects without breaking your budget. Heat output is measured in British thermal units (BTUs), but you won’t have to compute complex BTU formulas to figure out what size heater you’ll need. Most heaters now advertise the maximum area, in square feet, that they can adequately heat. That number is based on a garage with 8-foot ceilings. If your garage has a higher ceiling, take that into consideration and pick a size up. Other considerations that can affect the warmth factor in your garage are whether its walls and doors are insulated and whether outside drafts can easily enter the garage. Even a high-capacity heater cannot prevent icy drafts from blowing in around an ill-fitting garage door.

 

HOT STUFF

After comparing garage heater reviews from consumers and publishers alike, we’ve rounded up three of the most highly rated models available today to help you find one that fits your home’s needs and your wallet’s budget. Select the best garage heater for your space from the picks below.

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: amazon.com

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater ($85)
Gadget Review‘s number-one pick for a portable garage heater, Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater, also receives an enviable 4.6 stars from Amazon buyers. For weekend workshop warriors who don’t need a lot of heat—and perhaps don’t have a lot of extra room—this Mr. Heater Buddy model is efficient and affordable. It runs on small propane bottles, available from DIY and camping-supply stores, and can heat up to 225 square feet. Safety features include tip-over shutoff and low-oxygen shutoff. It also boasts a push-button igniter, two heat settings, and a porcelain-coated radiant heating surface for even heat distribution. While it won’t warm a large garage when outdoor temps dive below zero, it’s a solid option for smaller spaces. Available on Amazon; $85.

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: homedepot.com

Fahrenheat 5,000-Watt Electric Heater ($261)
According to Popular Mechanics, midrange electric garage heaters are a good choice for homeowners who experience mild winters or need only occasional heating. Home Depot customers agree and award an enthusiastic five stars to the compact Fahrenheat 5000-Watt Electric Heater. At just 13 inches high and 14 inches wide, this small-but-mighty surface-mounted powerhouse will fit in even the most cramped garage and can heat up to 500 square feet. It comes with a built-in thermostat and a thermal safety cutoff. The unit does not, however, come with a power cord—it must be direct-wired to a dedicated 240-volt outlet with a 30-amp breaker. If you’re not familiar with wiring concepts, or if local codes in your neck of the woods do not permit homeowners to run wiring, professional installation is necessary. Available from Home Depot; $261 .

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: homedepot.com


Modine 150,000-BTU Natural Gas Garage Ceiling Heater ($1,139)
For serious DIY enthusiasts with three-car or larger garages or workshops, the Modine 150,000-BTU Natural Gas Heater earns top honors from Home Depot buyers. This professional-installation-only model runs on natural gas—the most affordable and energy-efficient solution for larger heating needs, according to New York State Electric and Gas Corporation’s website. The unit comes with power exhaust vents and an automatic safety shutoff in case of overheating. The Modine 150,000-BTU model can be converted from propane to natural gas via an LP conversion kit, which is available for around $20 at plumbing supply stores. If you have a large garage space to heat, talk to your HVAC professional to see if this Modine unit is right for your needs. Available from Home Depot; $1,139.40.


How To: Make Windshield De-icer Spray

Don’t let ice or snow keep you from driving where you need to go. Get a clear windshield and stop refreezing with this simple, price-wise formula.

Homemade Deicer

Photo: istockphoto.com

A dirty, grimy windshield is bad enough, but nothing will slow you down more than one covered in ice and snow. Using a scraper will clear the windshield, but the effort and awkward reaching required can be troublesome and time-consuming, especially if working on a high SUV or van. Add in blustery wind or still-falling snow, you might be inclined to just stay home! Not an option? Then mix up some of this inexpensive, hard-working windshield cleaner and de-icer spray. The simple two-ingredient spray will make short work of your windshield woes and get you on the road in no time

This de-icer can also do good to manage other another hang-up before a snowy commute: If you wake up to frozen car door locks one morning, simply spray it on the locks, wait 10 to 20 seconds to melt the ice, and insert your keys, and your lock should move fine. If you do this frequently in the winter, don’t forget to occasionally spray a little WD-40 or other lube into your lock (or on your key before inserting it into the lock) to keep the lock’s inner-mechanisms functioning smoothly

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Spray bottle
- 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Liquid dish hand-washing detergent (optional)
- Water
- Permanent marker
- Windshield ice scraper

Note: The de-icer spray’s active ingredient is good old rubbing alcohol, found at drugstores for around $2.50 a pint. Also known as isopropyl and isopropanol, it has a freezing point of -128 degrees Fahrenheit, so it won’t refreeze once the windshield has been cleaned.

Homemade Deicer For Windshield

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Fill a spray bottle with two parts rubbing alcohol to one part of water. Add ½ teaspoon of liquid dish detergent for every 2 cups. Shake well. Label it as de-icer spray with your marker.

STEP 2
Generously spray the mixture onto an iced-over windshield. Spritz a bit on your door locks too, to free them of ice. Wait just a minute or so as it softens the ice, or melts it altogether.

STEP 3
For extra-heavy ice on windows, you may need to do a little scraping. If so, grab your scraper to clear away the thicker patches

STEP 4
Turn your windshield wipers on and with a couple good swishes, your windshield should be de-iced, clean, clear, and ready for some driving!

BONUS TIP:
To keep your windshield wiper lines clean and clear of ice, mix isopropyl rubbing alcohol in your windshield wiper fluid at a 50:50 ratio. It’ll keep you ice-free when you need to clean your windshield of sandy, salty snow-splatter spat up from vehicles ahead of  you on roadways, and help keep streaks to a minimum.


Genius! An Invention to End Smashed Groceries

Ready to stop digging through that muddled mess of groceries and sports gear in the back of your car? Turn the trunk into an organizational oasis with this unbelievably easy-to-build pop-up shelf!

DIY Trunk Storage

Photo: instructables.com user Beetlesmart

If you’re regularly tagged with grocery duty, you know that the most perilous part of a trip to the supermarket is the car ride home. With overstuffed bags haphazardly stacked in the trunk of your vehicle, fragile foods like bread, fruits, eggs, and chips all too often roll over, fall down, and get crushed under the weight of heavier products. The back of your car inevitably turns into a sticky mess of smashed food, sometimes warranting another costly grocery store trip to repurchase the ruined items. Tired of wasting money and exerting energy digging through the overwhelming stockpile in her SUV trunk, Instructables user Beetlesmart fashioned a wire rack and a handful of common materials into a multi-use pop-up shelf. The storage solution can be easily recreated for a fraction of the cost of your average grocery store haul.

To make the handy system, Beetlesmart first purchased a wire closet rack to use as the car trunk organizer. She then gave her project legs—two locking metal seat legs, to be exact—which she fastened to the rack with zip ties. A layer of attractive auto-grade fabric sewn to the rack seamlessly blends the shelf into the existing fabric of the car interior. The prolific DIYer secured the pop-up piece to the rear seat back with two cup hooks so that it’d always be nearby and ready for use.

When collapsed, the slim shelf rests flush against the back seat of a vehicle, leaving ample room for luggage, camping gear, and other bulky cargo. If you need sturdy, stackable storage at a moment’s notice, simply lift up the rack and lock the legs into the vertical position. The top shelf is a prime drop-off zone for delicate foodstuffs, which will stay secure without getting smashed from heavier groceries or shopping bags placed underneath. Or, rely on the top shelf to separate muddy footwear from other items in your trunk. The space below the shelf comes in handy even if you don’t have a full load: Valuables like purses placed in the compartment will be hidden from car windows, leaving your vehicle’s back-end looking virtually empty. By recreating this handy car trunk organizer, you won’t have to wish for more storage space ever again!

FOR MORE: Instructables.com 

DIY Trunk Storage

Photo: instructables.com user Beetlesmart

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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


Enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Home Decor Giveaway with Lumens Today!

Enter today and every day in February for your chance to win a prize package of your choice from Lumens!

SHARES

The lighting in your home should be both functional and stylish, illuminating your space while adding character to your decor. But, with all of the lighting options on the market today, finding the perfect piece at a reasonable price can be tricky. To help homeowners incorporate modern lighting into their homes, we’ve partnered with Lumens to give away three prize packages during the month of February!

FebSeal

Today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m EST on January 31, 2017 through 11:59 a.m. EST February 28, 2017), enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Home Decor Giveaway for the chance to win one of three prize packages from Lumens!

ENTER HERE!

Lumens is an online provider of lighting, fans, furniture, and accessories—all created with a focus on modern design elements. Founded in 2006, Lumens offers more than 300 brands and caters to any individual taste, with products ranging in style from contemporary to classic with a modern twist. This month, we’re giving away three prize packages from Lumens for different areas of your home: Cozy Reading Corner, Great Outdoor Space, and Happy Home Office.


Cozy Reading Corner: After a long day, nothing beats settling into a comfortable corner with a book or magazine. The winner of this package will get the necessities to create a relaxing retreat of their own: a Tolomeo Classic Floor Lamp ($650), EDITH Blanket/Throw ($210), and Bink Side Table ($279).

Great Outdoor Space: A well-furnished outdoor space makes an ideal spot for entertaining family, friends, and neighbors. Elevate your patio or deck by winning the Great Outdoor Space package, which includes a UMA LED Sound Lantern ($479), Bistro Folding Chair Set of 2 ($216), Bistro Round Folding Table ($295), and Pitch Birdhouse ($95).

Happy Home Office: The home office is a center for productivity, creativity, and focus. The winner of this prize package can create a functional workspace by receiving a CSYS Task Lamp ($649), Model One Bluetooth AM/FM Radio ($179.99), Componibili Round Storage Modules ($190), and Rotary Tray ($80).

Enter today and every day in February to increase your odds of winning one of these three prize packages! To learn more about Lumens, click here.

“Bob Vila’s $3,000 Home Decor Giveaway” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, February 28th, 2017. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Must submit name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s $3,000 Home Decor Giveaway” submission form. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.