Welcome to Bob Vila

Buyer’s Guide: Mini Fridges

Looking for a mini fridge to keep food and beverages cold? Check out the features you should prioritize in your new appliance—and three budget-friendly options that hit the mark.

Best Mini Fridge

Photo: istockphoto.com

A space-smart decision for dorm rooms and tiny spaces alike, the mini fridge keeps food and beverage close at hand without taking up much real estate. Some homeowners rely on these compact appliances for supplementary storage, whether for their craft beer collection in a finished basement or their large supply of bottled water in the garage. Others buy the appliance as a budget-friendly alternative to a full-sized refrigerator in a single-person household—not only do mini-fridges cost less up front, they also consume less energy and save you money on bills! Depending on the intended use, homeowners have many different factors to weigh during the hunt for the best mini fridge: interior and exterior size, storage capacity, portability, organization, number of doors, energy consumption, and accessories. Read on for how to select a new appliance that meets all of your needs, and you’ll end up with a space-smart solution for keeping food and drinks at the ready!


Mini fridges come in two basic configurations: cube-shaped and tall.

• As the smaller design option, cube-shaped mini fridges fit well beneath a desk or cabinet. Most units weigh anywhere from 35 to 55 pounds, making portability easy around the house for your immediate needs or when it comes time to change offices. These models top out at 22 to 24 inches in height, and they typically boast about 2 cubic feet of interior space—enough to hold about one case of soda, plus a few snacks or leftovers—all for under $150. Despite how well they fit into tighter spaces, these refrigerators tend to work less efficiently than larger options. Temperature settings can unreliably fluctuate, and freezer burn is common.

Best Mini Fridge

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tall mini fridges are considered a better value—and therefore more popular—thanks to the extra interior space and better shelving options. These appliances have anywhere from 3 cubic feet up to about 6 cubic feet of interior space, and they often come with a separate freezer compartment (although the freezer compartment usually isn’t as reliable as a normal freezer). With an average height between 32 and 36 inches, most tall units won’t fit under a standard desk, but they can hold a couple cases of soda or a few days worth of food. Given their larger size, tall fridges are heavier than cube fridges, weighing an average of 50 to 65 pounds. Prices range from $100 up to $300.


In general, most mini fridges have a similar design, although cube-shaped appliances have fewer shelves and door bins than tall models. Some models have adjustable or removable shelves and door bins, which come in handy when struggling to fit items in the fridge. A few mini fridge units include door-mounted dispensers that hold a vertical stack of cans, while others can accommodate tall soda bottles or milk containers. In addition, some mini fridges come with locking doors, which might be beneficial in a high-traffic, multi-use environment like an office or dorm room. Keep in mind that most mini fridges don’t include an ice dispenser or crisper drawer for produce.

Just like other appliances, mini fridges are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, including black, white, stainless steel, wood grain, and novelty looks


If you’re looking for a fully functional freezer, it’s best to stick with a normal-sized refrigerator or purchase a stand-alone option. One-door mini fridges often have a small freezer box located within the main compartment, but most can’t maintain accurate freezing temperatures (especially when powered by thermoelectric systems). Plus, most freezers in one-door fridges are too small to be of any practical use. Two-door mini fridges, which have a separate freezer, generally keep frozen food colder and, therefore, safer to eat. These two-door models typically have a thermostat mounted in the fridge’s interior, so they maintain better temperature control than single-door models.


In general, mini fridges consume less energy than their full-sized cousins. Look for a unit that is Energy Star-certified, which means it consumes the least amount of electricity possible. Most mini fridges run on standard 120-volt A/C electric power. Some are designed for use in cars, vans, or RVs, and these typically come with D/C adapter, allowing the unit to run off of the vehicle’s battery power.

Mini fridges typically rely on two basic cooling systems: compressor-powered or thermoelectric. We recommend fridges with compressor-powered cooling systems (the same system used by regular-sized fridges) since they maintain accurate temperatures better than thermoelectric units.



Do you want the best mini fridge for your space? Take a look at three of the top-rated and best-selling models on the market today, based on reviews by actual users and ratings by leading consumer testing sites.

Danby Designer

Photo: amazon.com

Danby Designer DCR044A2 ($136.95)

The Danby Designer DCR044A2 receives consistently high marks for combining a large interior storage area with a compact exterior size. The unit received 4.1 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who call it a “good deal” and a “great beer fridge.” Standing just under 33 inches tall, the Danby has 4.4 cubic feet of refrigeration capacity and is Energy Star rated for efficiency. Interior features include a convenient beverage dispenser, mechanical thermostat, push-button defrosting system, adjustable shelves, a full-width freezer, and space for tall bottles. The Sweethome, which named the Danby Designer DCR044A2 the “best mini fridge,” raves about the built-in nine-egg tray and slide-out tray. But The Sweethome also warns that the freezer unit fluctuates temperature– a common problem in mini fridges that can result in freezer burn and unsafe temperatures for long-term meat storage. Thanks to the mini fridge’s smooth back, homeowners can position it directly against a wall. Available on Amazon.


Best Mini Fridge - Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com

Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator and Freezer ($87.69)

For those looking for a small cube-style mini fridge, the Midea WHS-65LB1 fits the bill. At 19 inches tall and 18.5 inches wide, the unit can slide easily underneath a desk, countertop, or cabinet. And, despite its small size, the fridge boasts 1.6 cubic feet of storage—enough to fit more than a case of soda. The unit also comes with a separate chiller compartment, which is half the width of the fridge; even with the temperature fluctuations typical to this style of mini fridge, it’s handy for short-term storage of frozen dinners. Amazon shoppers awarded it a 4.0 out of 5 stars, calling it “perfect,” “lightweight,” and “quiet.” Available on Amazon.


Buyer's Guide - Best Mini Fridge

Photo: homedepot.com

Magic Chef HMBR350SE ($169)

The Magic Chef HMBR350SE compact refrigerator features 3.5 cubic feet of interior space, three easy-to-clean glass shelves, and a convenient can dispenser built into its door. The Energy Star–qualified unit receives 4.2 out of 5 stars from Home Depot shoppers, who praise the “easy setup,” “perfect size for limited space,” and “constant temperature.” Measuring 32.5 inches high, the sleek Magic Chef mini fridge has a full-width freezer and a flush-back design. Consumers will enjoy the upfront interior analog controls, which allows easy adjustments to the temperature. The unit comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. The Sweethome notes that interior storage falls short when compared to the Danby Designer model, though. Available at Home Depot.

Bob Vila Radio: Picking the Perfect Wallpaper

Wallpapering success begins with choosing the right pattern, one as suitable for the dimensions and style of the room as much for your skill level as a DIYer. Read on for a few top tips on navigating the dizzying number of options on the market today.


If you’re adding wallpaper to your home, be sure to invest time in choosing the right design. After all, you’re likely going to be living with the look for a long time.

Choosing a Wallpaper Pattern

Photo: istockphoto.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


The wise course? Ignore passing fads and narrow your focus to include only classic designs you’re sure that you’ll still love several years from now.

If you’re applying the wallpaper yourself, bear in mind that textured solid colors make for the safest bet. You don’t have to worry about carefully aligning each sheet and where imperfections exist—due to improper hanging or the inherent irregularity of the room—they tend not to be very noticeable.

Patterned wallpapers often look stunning, but again, if you’re DIYing, know your limitations. You may want to focus on patterns with repeats of six inches or fewer. That way, slight misalignments don’t end up compromising the final result. If you can’t resist a larger pattern (one with a repeat of 12 inches or more), compromise by applying it in a small room whose dimensions require fewer sheets and therefore, fewer opportunities for a mistake to be made.

Striped wallpaper can be especially tricky to line up correctly. Also, once in place, stripes tends to call attention to any parts of the room that aren’t level or square. On the plus side, when expertly hung, striped wallpaper really works to draw the eye upward, making a cramped space feel that much bigger.

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

How To: Use a Jigsaw

Create beautiful curves in wood, metal, and other materials with this specialized tool and these techniques.

How to Use a Jigsaw

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether doing fine woodworking or tackling a kitchen or bathroom remodel, chances are you’ll need to create some curves—and that’s where a jigsaw comes in. While a table saw or a circular saw won’t do the trick, the main purpose of a jigsaw is to cut curved lines into a variety of materials, including thin metal, laminate, plastic, and even ceramic tile, as well as wood (especially soft species such as pine). You can find a basic jigsaw starting at around $40 or pay up for to $200 for a heavy-duty professional model with such advanced features as orbital blade action, blade-steadying guides, and multiple speed options. If you’re only going to use the saw occasionally, you can probably get by with a less-expensive model. Once you’ve geared up, follow this guide for how to use a jigsaw safely and get great results on all types of projects.

- Protective eyewear
- Heavy-duty extension cord
- Blade that corresponds with material to be cut
- ¼-inch plywood (optional)
- Clamps
- Masking tape (optional)
- Sawhorses

Choose the right blade for the job. The jigsaw blade package will specify the material the blade is designed to cut, saying “wood” or “metal” right on the label. The blade’s teeth-per-inch (TPI) number will also appear on the package and sometimes on the blade itself. A TPI of 10 or 12 is suitable for most woodworking projects. Lower TPIs, which mean fewer saw teeth per inch, allow you to cut faster, but the cut will be rougher. Higher TPIs cut more slowly to create smoother finishes. Another consideration is proper blade width. Select the width that suits the tightness of the curves you’ll be cutting. Jigsaw blades come in two widths, ¼” for cutting tight radius curves and 3/8” for more gradual curves. Finally, familiarize yourself with teeth direction: A standard jigsaw blade has teeth pointing upward to cut on the blade’s upstroke—it’s the best choice for all-purpose cutting. A reverse blade (teeth pointing downward) should be used on material with a pre-finished surface to reduce the risk of chipping or nicking during the cutting process.

How to Use a Jigsaw

Photo: istockphoto.com

Put safety first! Don appropriate eye protection and plug in an extension cord because jigsaw cords are relatively short. Keep the extension cord away from the cutting path and don’t let it pool in the standing area where it could become a tripping hazard.

Position the shoe firmly. The shoe—a flat base that extends a few inches past the front, sides, and back of the blade—must remain flat against the material you’re sawing to ensure an accurate cut. Position the front end of the shoe flat on the material you intend to cut and align the cutting guide on the front of the shoe with the line you’ve marked on the material, but don’t let the saw blade touch the material before the jigsaw is running. Hold it back just a bit, turn on the tool, and then ease the jigsaw forward to begin the cut. If the blade is touching the wood when you turn the saw on, the blade can catch on the wood, jerking the saw and breaking the blade or cutting in the wrong spot.

Drill first to cut center holes. To cut a hole in the center of your material as opposed to curving the edge—such as for a sink opening in a countertop—drill a starter hole before using a jigsaw. Drill a ½-inch hole and then insert the jigsaw blade in the hole and start cutting there. Don’t turn the saw on until the blade is all the way in the hole and the shoe is resting on the material’s surface.

Sandwich sheet materials in plywood. Attempting to cut sheet metal or hard plastic sheeting without reinforcement can result in ragged edges and a bent product. The best way to cut these materials is to first layer them between ¼”-thick pieces of plywood. For example, if you’re cutting large letters from sheet metal, sandwich the sheet metal between two pieces of plywood, one above and one below. Secure the layers together with clamps, and then saw carefully through all three layers. Using the sandwich method will give you the cleanest cuts on thin sheet materials.

Protect finished surfaces from scratches. Laminated countertops, for example, can be scratched by the bottom of a jigsaw shoe that scrapes the surface during cutting. If your material comes with a protective film, leave it on during the cutting process. If you have to cut an unprotected material, cover the area to be cut with masking tape and draw your cutting guides on top of the tape. This will protect the surface from scratches as you cut.

Adjust the angle for beveled cuts. Not all jigsaws offer this feature, but it’s handy if you wish to create a sloped edge. Simply adjust the angle of the blade and follow the same cutting techniques as for vertical cuts.

Speed up the cutting process. When activating the “oscillating” feature often found on higher-end jigsaws, the blade moves in a forward/backward rocking motion as well as up and down. Oscillating blades provide additional cutting power and speed without increasing the risk of edge burrs and splintering.

Take your time when cutting tile. While pros generally use a tile saw for this task, a DIYer can use a jigsaw on tile as much as ¼-inch thick. If you’re determined to learn how to use a jigsaw on tile rather than invest in another new power tool, start by putting masking tape on either the face of the tile or on the bottom of the jigsaw shoe to prevent surface scratches. Then use a corresponding tile blade and clamp the tile securely to prevent shifting. Go slowly and let the blade do the work. Cutting tile with a jigsaw requires patience and a steady hand.


How to Use a Jigsaw

Photo: istockphoto.com


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.

All You Need to Know About Begonia Care

Enjoy this gardening favorite's vibrant blooms from late spring through fall when you follow these tips for proper care.

Best Practices for Begonia Care

Photo: istockphoto.com

Prized for their prolific blooms in a rainbow of colors—from creamy white and soft pink to shades of deep rose and crimson red—begonias are favorites of home gardeners everywhere. Make neighbors jealous with the addition of your own this season. This complete guide will help you identify the perfect plant and outline the necessary begonia care to help it thrive in your garden or container.

Begonia Types

With more than 1,200 known species, the Begoniaceae family is one of the largest flowering plant groups. Even so, it’s relatively simple to identify begonias because all of its species fall into three main types, sorted by their root systems.

Tuberous begonias, which are grown from potato-like tubers, make popular bedding plants (or first-choice options for the flower bed) due to the fast growth of their showy blooms that last from early summer to late fall. They range in height from a few inches to over a foot, and they produce single or double blooms—some reaching up to 6 inches in diameter, depending on the species.

Known better for striking foliage than blooms (although some species are flowering), rhizomatous begonias are characterized by roots resembling knobby, horizontal stems that creep along the surface of the soil. The leaves on this type of begonia can be quite colorful, ranging from near-white and soft yellow to deep purple, green, and red, often in exotic combinations and patterns.

The roots of a fibrous begonia look like your typical plant roots that extend downward into the soil. These attractive flowering plants also come in a wide variety of colors for use as bedding plants or container plants. If you’re looking for blooms to plant in (shaded) window boxes and hanging baskets, select a species of fibrous begonias that develops long, soft canes; these bamboo-like stems will spill over the edge in a showy burst of color.


Best Tips for Begonia Care

Photo: istockphoto.com

Where Do Begonias Grow?

With the exception of one or two species, begonias are tropical or subtropical plants and can be grown as perennials (dying back in fall and regrowing in spring) in zones 9 and 10 of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. In most of the U.S., however, begonias are treated as annuals (planted for a single growing season) or indoor specimen plants. They prefer daily temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and overnight lows in the mid-60s, but they can often tolerate higher temperatures with protection from harsh sun rays. Begonias can be transplanted to the flower garden in late spring as soon as the danger of frost has passed; they will thrive—even bloom, depending on the variety—from then until fall when overnight lows dip below freezing.

Best Begonia Care Tips

Photo: istockphoto.com

The Right Light

While begonias can’t tolerate hours of direct sunlight, these plants bloom in a combination of partial shade and soft light. The best location for this compromise is on the north or east side of your home, beneath a large tree or covered patio to filter the sunlight. In more densely shaded spots, flowering tuberous and fibrous begonias tend to develop more leaves than blooms, though Rhizomatous begonias (which are grown for their foliage) will flourish.

Soil and Water Needs

Ideal begonia care requires well-drained soil that has been amended by the addition of organic matter, such as compost and peat moss. While they enjoy humid conditions, they don’t like “wet feet;” soggy soil can cause their roots to rot. In dry weather, supplement Mother Nature’s begonia care with a rejuvenating fine mist via the sprinkler for 15 minutes in the heat of the afternoon and sufficient bottom watering—remember, just enough to keep the soil lightly damp but not waterlogged.

Feeding for Blooms

For healthy plants and abundant blooms, apply 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer diluted at a ratio of three parts water to one part fertilizer when you first plant (or transplant) your begonias and approximately every three weeks thereafter. Begonias respond better to fertilizer solutions poured around their base rather than sprayed directly on the plant; the tender leaves and stems of some species can be injured by direct contact with strong fertilizer sprays.

Begonia Care Tips for the Best Blooms

Photo: istockphoto.com

Growing and Propagating Begonias

When filling out your flower bed, you can either purchase blooming begonias from any garden center in late spring or grow these bedding plants from seeds, rhizomes, tubers, or roots. If you choose the latter method, start them indoors in late winter so that they have time to mature before you transplant outside in warm weather. This begonia care practice, known as “forcing blooms,” will ensure that your begonias begin flowering just as soon as you plant them in the garden.

Fibrous begonias are the easiest of the three begonia types to start from cuttings, but you may also have success taking cuttings from some other types of begonias. Take a few stem cuttings about 4 inches long each from your favorite plant, dip each in rooting hormone, and plant them in moist peat moss. Once they develop roots, they can be overwintered (as described below) for replanting in your garden again next summer.

Whether from the nursery or started indoors, young begonias are ready for planting in the garden any time after the risk of frost has passed. Prepare the soil by tilling it well to break up any clods before planting. Water the young begonias frequently for the first two weeks to keep the soil slightly moist, but avoid letting them stand in water.

Begonia Care for Every Season

Photo: istockphoto.com

Overwintering Begonias from Your Garden

Species of rhizomatous and fibrous begonias are among the easiest to overwinter, since both types can be dug up and brought indoors to overwinter as houseplants. They require a spot near a window where they receive filtered light during the winter months. Many overwintered begonias are susceptible to fungus problems—which is rarely an issue outdoors, thanks to breezes that help circulate air through their leaves—so it’s a good idea to spray the plants with a broad-spectrum fungicide when you bring them indoors. Keep the soil of overwintering begonias damp but not saturated, and water them from the bottom to keep their leaves dry.

Tuberous begonias, on the other hand, can be difficult to overwinter, because the tubers can rot or die if they get too warm or too cold, or if they develop fungus—don’t feel bad if yours don’t survive indoors for the season. Most tuberous begonias naturally go dormant during late fall months, and they need this downtime to rest. For the best chance at saving the tubers in your garden, transplant them into pots and bring them indoors before frost. Keep the soil only slightly moist and, when the stems die back, allow the soil to dry out. Remove the dormant tuber from the soil and treat it with a garden fungicide powder before storing it in a dry indoor location between 55 and 65 degrees warm until late winter. Replant the tuber as described above to force blooms in time for spring.


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.

Official Rules: Bob Vila’s 2017 Love Your Lawn Giveaway from John Deere


Bob Vila’s 2017 Love Your Lawn Giveaway from John Deere (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”). The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing; one (1) Winner per random drawing and one (1) prize awarded per random drawing.


Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia who are age 18 or older. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes.

You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submitting your name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s 2017 Love Your Lawn Giveaway from John Deere” submission form. Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void. If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the Sweepstakes Period. One (1) alternate entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void. Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with Vila Media, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules. At the end of the Sweepstakes Period, employees or representatives of Sponsor will hold one (1) Drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries to receive the prize designated for the respective Drawing. A limit of one (1) prize and one (1) Winner for each Drawing. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Period determines the odds of winning for the Drawings. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. Must be 18 or older to win.

To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request. The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. The Winner must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings. Prizes will be shipped via regular ground mail up to four (4) weeks after the official Winner is declared for each drawing.

The prizes for the Drawing held shall be from John Deere. The winner will receive a Z345R Residential ZTrak™ Zero-Turn Riding Mower. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days after the winner is verified. An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. The total approximate retail value of all prizes to be awarded in this Sweepstakes is $2,799. Income and all other federal, state and local taxes (if any) are the sole responsibility of each Winner.

Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, the Winner agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax form W-9s to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize. By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor, and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, licensees and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize (or any part thereof) or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded (or any part thereof), regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control.

The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.

So, You Want to… Reface Your Fireplace

Tearing out a fireplace can be both terribly messy and expensive—not to mention unnecessary. Read on about a more cost-efficient (and DIY!) alternative for your next room refresh.

Fireplace Refacing

Photo: Zillow Digs home in McKinney, TX

You can repaint the walls, re-carpet the floor, and replace all outdated furniture, but leaving that eyesore of an old fireplace untouched in a room refresh will only hold your new design back. Fireplaces are natural focal points, so the condition of yours sets the stage for the whole room. Since tearing it out can be both messy and costly, many homeowners opt for a more cost-efficient alternative: fireplace refacing. This process focuses on updating just the surface of the fireplace without changing how the room’s heating operates at all. As a result, so that you can modernize the look of the entire room—all while reigning in your DIY project’s timeline and budget!

Design Options Materials

The first major consideration when committing to refacing the fireplace involves selecting the ideal materials. Today’s homeowners have many options from which to choose: Smooth concrete, new tile, granite, rustic brick, even wood can breathe new life into an outdated fireplace surround. Whether your hearth is operable or just for looks, there is a fireplace refacing material available and ideal for installation.

Fireplace Refacing with Concrete

Photo: istockphoto.com

A concrete or stucco mix can be applied by hand directly to the surface of an existing masonry fireplace, then either troweled smooth or a finished with a texture to suit the space. Both DIY products come as dry powdered mixes to be combined with water when you’re ready—and very affordable supplies, at that. A bag of either concrete or stucco mix costs about $9 and will cover approximately 25 sq ft of fireplace when applied 3/8-inch thick.

Fireplace Refacing with Wood

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wood facing visually lends a warm, natural appearance to a structure known to physically keep a room toasty. Leave it unfinished for rustic vibes, or coat with stain or paint for a traditional (even crisp and clean) look. Both paneling and thin wood boards work well to cover the existing fireplace. Depending on which you choose and its variety of wood, your fireplace refacing supplies can range from less than $1 per foot of board for common 1″-thick pine to over $12 per foot of board for mahogany, walnut, and more exotic hardwoods. Before buying in bulk to reface a working fireplace, consult your local fire codes to know the limitations. The National Standard Building Code prohibits the installation of any combustible material, including wood, within 6 inches of the sides of a working fireplace. Local fire codes vary—even be more restrictive—so if you’re redesigning the area around an operable fireplace, contact your local building authority for the rules in your community first.

Fireplace Refacing with Veneer

Photo: airstone.com

Masonry veneers, sometimes called “thin brick” or “thin stone,” are manufactured to look nearly identical to their real brick and stone namesakes—at a fraction of their weight and thickness. The microscopic differences between an installed veneer and the real thing make veneer a top choice for an authentic fireplace look. Depending on the brand and the pattern of brick or stone you choose (there are many), veneer sheets range in price from $5 to $15 per sq ft.

Fireplace Refacing with Tiles

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tile is a rather traditional fireplace refacing material, available in nearly limitless choices of color and design. Install it yourself, and this option can even be affordable! Tiles range from under $1 per sq ft to as much as $15 per sq ft, depending on brand and type.

Fireplace Refacing with Marble

Photo: istockphoto.com

The same type of stone slabs commonly used for kitchen backsplashes and shower walls can be brought into the living space as fireplace refacing materials. Choose from slate, granite, quartz, soapstone, and more to suit your individual style, but know that the real deal will cost you. Stone slabs are pricier than other refacing materials, starting around $50 per sq ft for granite and quartz and around $70 a sq ft for soapstone and slate. That’s just a starting point, though: Costs can exceed $100 per sq ft for slabs with desirable hues and patterns!

DIY Fireplace Refacing - What to Expect with Installation

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Expect from Installation

As can be expected, installation varies by the type of material you choose and the look you aim to achieve. The simplest and therefore most popular refacing technique involves installing the new materials directly over the existing fireplace surround or, if there is none, the neighboring drywall. This method is suitable only when the existing materials are in good shape—that means no loose bricks or crumbling tiles, so give it a close inspection before you begin. If your current surround is in poor shape or you’d prefer that the new fireplace takes on a different size (short and squat or a grand floor-to-ceiling treatment), your first task involves disassembling the old fireplace facing so that you install directly on the drywall behind it.

Masonry veneers are designed to follow a very straightforward installation process. These adhere directly to existing masonry using a coat of veneer mortar (an adhesive compound strong enough to secure the lightweight refacing materials) that comes recommended by the manufacturer. If you want to install masonry veneers over wood or drywall, though, you must first attach metal lath to the wall; the box of materials should offer an easy-to-follow step-by-step from the manufacturer.

Wood paneling or wood boards, on the other hand, need something more to attach to. Typically, installing wood facing over masonry is a two-part process: First mount batts (thin wood boards) to the masonry with concrete screws and then install the wood facing over these with regular screws or nails. Hide any divots where you’ve drilled or hammered by filling with wood putty, and a coat of stain or paint can transform the new structure from a minimalist feature to a more traditionally sleek piece of architecture.

Tile or stone slabs require the surface beneath be very flat for installation, often accomplished by skimming the surface flat with mortar before installing the fireplace refacing material of choice. Tile and stone can even be installed directly over drywall, so long as you use the right mortar: Ceramic tile requires ceramic tile mortar, porcelain tile requires porcelain tile mortar and stone slab manufacturers may call for veneer mortar. While small tile and slab projects are DIY-friendly—say, covering the brick portion of a fireplace that features masonry nearest the fireplace opening and frames the structure with a wood surround—you may want to call in a professional tile setter or mason to at least get a quote on a fireplace refacing project that will encompass an entire wall.

Deciding Whether or Not to Include a Mantle When Fireplace Refacing

Photo: istockphoto.com

Mantel or No Mantel

Rustic fireplaces often boast bulky mantels that add to their log-cabin appeal, but a concrete fireplace without any mantel at all can look spectacular in a contemporary setting—particularly when its floor-to-ceiling height isn’t chopped by a horizontal ledge. Ultimately, whether or not you incorporate a shelf mantel in your refacing project depends on your desired style.

Similar to the use of wood as a facing material, if you want to install a wood mantel over a working fireplace, fire codes will apply. In general, a mantel that extends an average of 1.5-inches outward from the wall, should be positioned no closer than 12 inches from the top of the fireplace opening. The farther the mantel extends outward, the greater the amount of clearance it needs. Always check with the local authorities to be on the safe side.

Mantels can be made from scratch, purchased new, or even saved from another construction. If your existing fireplace has a gorgeous mantle, there’s no reason you have to get rid of it in this room refresh—it can be removed and reinstalled over whatever new refacing material you choose. Or, check out secondhand stores that carry old building materials, like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, for a deal on a ready-made mantel.

Once you’ve chosen your mantel, keep in mind that the heavy ledges must be adequately supported by attaching them with long bolts directly into wall studs to hold their weight. Beefy, oversized mantels, depending on their weight, may require additional reinforcement in the form of installing stud backers in the wall before the mantel can be hung. The extra time and care that you take ensuring a proper installation will then ease concerns about any of your home decor crashing down later, providing enough peace of mind to relax in your wholly redesigned living space.

How To: Mix and Use Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Pamper your gorgeous flooring the natural way—for pennies!

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wood floors add beauty and warmth to any home, but they do demand special care. Though there are plenty of commercial wood floor cleaners on the market, these can be pricey. Plus, if you have pets or kids, you may want to shy away from those with harsh chemicals. So why not mix up and use a homemade wood floor cleaner that will cost far less and skip toxins altogether? Whip some up and use these techniques as part of your regular cleaning routine, and your wood floors will look wonderful for years.

- Warm water
- Pure castile soap
- 16 oz. spray bottle
- Scented essential oil (optional)
- Microfiber mop
- Fringed mop pad
- Vacuum with baseboard attachment
- Towels
- Wet mop pad

Add two to three drops of pure castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) to a large spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with warm water. A little castile soap goes a long way, so a 16-ounce bottle ensures that you’ll dilute it properly; plus, with a batch this size, you’ll have enough made to clean your floors several times. If you’d like your homemade wood floor cleaner to impart a fresh scent on the space, add three to five drops of such essential oil as orange, peppermint, lavender, or lemongrass. Then close the bottle and shake vigorously to mix the solution.

Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Before breaking out the homemade wood floor cleaner, remove surface dirt. Attach a fringed pad to a microfiber mop. The fringe will trap large debris and push it ahead of the mop, keeping particles from getting under the pad where they could scratch the floor, while microfiber pad traps dust. Run the mop around the baseboards of the room without lifting it up. Lifting the mop up could allow larger particles to get trapped underneath the pad—again, potentially scratching the wood. Then, go back and forth across the room, without lifting the mop, slightly overlapping each stroke.

Using the hose and baseboard attachment, vacuum the perimeter of the room to remove any dirt that remains trapped around the baseboards.

Carefully move any furniture necessary so that you can access the entire wood floor. For large pieces, like sofas, fold up some old towels and place them underneath the legs so you can slide them without scratching the floor.

Swap the fringed pad for a cleaning pad designated for wet use onto the mop and shake the cleaning mixture well. Starting at a corner of the room and moving towards the exit (so you don’t walk over areas you’ve already cleaned), lightly mist a small area of the floor with cleaning solution. Then, working in the direction of the wood grain, mop the area until dry. It crucial that no moisture remains on the floor—a wet wood floor left wet can easily cup, warp, and split. Continue working in small sections until the entire floor is done.

Don’t stop there! The formula for this homemade wood floor cleaner is also great for cleaning a host of other household surfaces. It isn’t strong enough to disinfect but will certainly spiff up countertops, enamel appliances, and tile surfaces on a daily basis.


Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.

Genius! An All-Wood, Zero-Electricity Phone Speaker

Paying a high price for home audio? Using the power of science and a few everyday materials, you can transform your phone’s built-in speaker into a quality sound system.

DIY Phone Speaker

Photo: makeit-loveit.com

Whether you’re hosting a party or relaxing at home, nothing sets an upbeat mood faster than loud, catchy music. Most people already have a punchy playlist in their pocket, so all that’s missing is a cell-phone-compatible speaker to amplify the tunes. Before shelling out big bucks on a commercial speaker, though, check out the DIY design for a lightweight, all-wood audio system shared by Ashley of Make It Love It. She transformed ordinary lumber, wooden dowel, and wood glue into a supersonic sound solution that consumes zero electricity.

Little more than a 24-inch piece wood plank, the DIY phone speaker functions because of the precise cuts and puzzle-piecing that went into its interior. Front and back of this project mirror one another, except for the roughly 3″-wide cut-out in one (the front) that will hold the base of your phone. Meanwhile, the middle consists only of dowels cut, arranged, and glued between the two panels in a way that channels the sound from an opening precisely aligned with the phone speaker to the cut-out speakers (each 2-1/8 inches in diameter). The result? Crisp, clear audio that fills the whole room when you drop your phone into the cradle—all without consuming additional battery or watt of electricity. Now that’s music to any homeowner’s ears!

The benefits of Ashley’s all-wood DIY phone speaker don’t stop with its smart science, low cost, or even its creative adoption of sustainable materials. Since the speaker requires no cords or power, you can transport it from the living room or kitchen to your bedroom—even outdoors. This handy speaker allows you to continuously stream your favorite songs without dropping a single beat.

FOR MORE: Make It Love It

DIY Phone Speaker

Photo: makeit-loveit.com


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.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Want the luxurious look of decorative tile at a fraction of the cost? We’re spilling the secret on an under-the-radar DIY tile treatment, and teaching you how to recreate it in your home from start to finish.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Photo: istockphoto.com

Decorative tile floors can add an element of elegance to a hum-drum living space, but often for a pretty penny. In order to avoid the hassle of ripping out existing floor and the high cost of commercial patterned tiles, some crafty homeowners choose to achieve a similar look by painting tile floors. This savvy DIY solution can create a variety of different finishes, from a matte monochrome to playful pattern. Are you ready to transform your existing tile floor on a dime? Put on your painter’s hat, roll up your sleeves, and get the scoop on all you need to know about painting tile floors.


Although paint can be applied to ceramic tile in any room of the house, it doesn’t hold up equally well under all conditions. Prolonged exposure to moisture, for example, will cause paint to peel away from the tile over time. For long-lasting results, only paint tiles in the drier areas of your house, such as the laundry room, mudroom, or kitchen. If you do opt to paint tile floors in high-moisture spaces, such as the bathroom, opt for a section of the floor far from the mildew-prone splash zone of the shower or bathtub and/or choose a paint labeled as specially made for bathrooms.


The key to achieving a pristine paint finish is starting with a canvas of smooth, undamaged tile. Sand and vacuum the tile you want to paint, then get rid of dirt, grime, and mold by scrubbing the tile and grout lines with a homemade solution of equal parts bleach and warm water. Alternatively, you could clean the tile with a commercial cleaner that removes mold. Then, donning protective gear and maintaining proper ventilation in the room, repair any visible chips or cracks in the tile with caulk or a two-part epoxy.

Once the floor is prepped, protect nearby baseboards from paint splatter by applying painter’s tape where the baseboards meet the tile floor. If you don’t want to paint the grout lines, cover them with acrylic masking tape.

All You Need to Know About Painting Tile Floors

Photo: istockphoto.com


When painting a tile floor, the following three types of paint work best:

Chalk paint can be applied without primer to lend a shabby-chic solid color to the tile, and it can also serve as a base coat for a patterned finish. If using chalk paint as a base coat, choose a shade that will visually contrast with the color of the pattern you intend to overlay.

• Latex paint works for both solid and patterned tile floors; select a semi- or high-gloss latex paint for solid tiles and a high-gloss latex paint for patterned tiles.

• Oil-based paint holds up better than latex paint since it’s less prone to chipping and damage. However, oil-based paint takes longer to dry, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to find because of environmental concerns. If using oil-based paint, choose a high-gloss or semi-gloss option.

Keep in mind that latex and oil-based paints adhere best to primed tile, so apply an epoxy or urethane bonding primer by brush or roller before painting tile with these options.


If you’re planning to paint an entire floor, use a brush or roller to apply paint over the exposed tile and grout in a continuous motion. But if you’re painting alternating or random tiles instead of the entire floor, start by cutting in with a brush along the edge of one tile with an angled brush. Then, either brush or roll paint over the rest of the tile in unidirectional strokes, repeating this painting process for every tile you intend to paint. Mix a little paint thinner with the paint if you have trouble spreading it.

If you want a solid-colored tile design, then you are completely finished painting. Give the paint at least two or three days to dry. Then seal the tile with two or three coats of a clear, water-based urethane sealer—not an oil-based sealer, which can yellow your colors—allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the next. Remove any masking tape and spruce up the grout lines by painting over them with grout paint, if needed.

But wait! If you plan on painting tile floors with a pattern, don’t seal the tile just yet. Simply let the tile dry for two or three days before moving on, and seal after the pattern has dried.


Painting Tile Floors with a Stencil

Photo: royaldesignstudio.com via Erica Brown


The easiest way to apply a pattern to painted tile is with a stencil. Whether you opt for a quilt-like pattern similar to what’s in the Remington Avenue powder room, a sharper geometric pattern like the one found in the Brown Acres kitchen, or something altogether more whimsically Moroccan, be sure to start by buying or DIYing a stencil that fits the dimensions of your existing tile. The outer tips of the graphic inside the stencil should reach the outer edges of the tile.

Secure the stencil to the floor with painter’s tape, making sure not to cover any parts of the graphic with tape. Then, using a roller with a foam roller cover, apply latex or chalk paint directly over the stencil. Rolling over one section of the stencil at a time instead of painting across the entire stencil can help avoid the roller marks that often plague home painters. Move the stencil to another tile and repeat this process across the entire floor, taking care not to mar any freshly painted tiles with the stencil.

If you run into partial tiles at the edge of the floor, you can paint over partial sections of the stencil. Use an artist’s paintbrush to make any necessary touch-ups to the pattern, and allow the paint to dry completely before finishing it with a clear water-based sealant.


All You Need to Know About Painting Tile

Photo: istockphoto.com


A high-quality sealant can protect your painted tile floor from grime, moisture, and mold, as well as scuff marks and scratches from foot traffic. Even so, regularly sweeping, vacuuming, and damp-mopping debris from the floor will help retain the sheen of your painted tile floor and keep the pattern (if applied) looking sharp and distinct. You can also provide your tile floor with an extra barrier of protection from everyday wear-and-tear by setting mats in high-traffic areas and floor pads directly below furnishings on the tile.

When you need to thoroughly clean painted tile, use neutral pH solvents and lightly rub them into the floor with a non-abrasive chamois mop. Steer clear of steel wool, scouring pads, or chemical cleaners, which can all discolor or erode the paint. Don’t let cleaners or plain water settle for too long on painted tile, as the excess moisture can make the paint more prone to peeling. A paste of baking soda and warm water makes for a gentle homemade cleaner that not only works wonders on grime-ridden tile, but can also render your grout lines pearly-white again. After using this homemade cleaner, wipe the clean tile dry with a lint-free cloth.

By mastering these tile maintenance dos and don’ts, you can maintain the unforgettable finish of your painted tile floor for many years.


All of the Expert Painting Advice from BobVila.com
Of all the options available to remodelers, paint provides the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to achieve a transformation, inside or out. Ready to look at your home in a new way? Click now for the color ideas to make your project beautiful.

Cool Tools: A Next-Generation Mower Cuts Above the Rest

It wasn't so long ago that electric mowers offered many pros balanced against one big con—subpar cutting performance. Today, however, there's reason to believe the era of easy, even enjoyable lawn care has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon.

Photo: greenworkstools.com

Even as a kid, when my five-dollar allowance depended on it, I hated mowing the lawn. Decades later, things have changed—for instance, nobody pays me to do chores anymore. But I dread the start of mowing season as much as ever, if not more so, because my house sits a large, corner lot, with grass that grows quickly enough to require twice-weekly trimming some months. Plus, even though I’ve lived through a series of cataclysmic technological breakthroughs in recent times—the advent of cellular phones, for instance, or the world-beating dominance of digital computing—the average 21st-century gas mower seems strikingly similar to the heavy, noisy, cumbersome and upkeep-intensive model my parents used to own.

That’s not to say there’s been no innovation—far from it! In fact, years ago, in direct response to homeowner frustrations with conventional gas models, forward-looking manufacturers began rolling out lighter, quieter, lower-maintenance and cleaner-running electric mowers. Today, with electric mower technology having fully matured—and with corded models having cleared a path for battery-powered ones—the best of the new breed succeed in performing on par with their gas-guzzling cousins, even while tempting homeowners with a raft of user-friendly incentives you can’t get with a traditional model. Need proof that mowing isn’t what it used to be? Check out the Greenworks G-MAX 40V 19-Inch Cordless Mower.

Photo: greenworkstools.com

If you’ve only ever cut your lawn with a traditional mower, prepare yourself for a very different kind of experience. The first thing you notice about the Greenworks G-MAX? For me, it wasn’t the light weight or compact design of the equipment, but rather the total absence of gasoline—and all the little ancillary concerns that go along with maintaining a machine more like a car than a yard tool. So instead of making the first of many trips down to the local gas station—a costly proposition—and instead of having to clear space in the already chockablock garage for the safe storage of extra gasoline—you can proceed directly to mowing, a task made considerably more pleasant by there not being any foul, unhealthy fumes in your face.

Another welcome feature you notice right away: Whereas step one in operating a gas mower entails the almost Herculean effort of pulling—pulling and pulling—the starter cord, the Greenworks G-MAX starts in seconds, requiring nothing more than the push of a button. Certainly, it’s nice not to feel exhausted even before you begin mowing. But for me, someone accustomed to the roaring engines of gas mowers, G-MAX impresses most of all because, for all of its effectiveness, the unit emits only a busy humming sound. In the past, I often delayed mowing until the late afternoon, at which point I figured the neighbors wouldn’t mind. Now, with a quiet-running electric mower, I can take care of the lawn whenever I want, guilt-free.

Photo: greenworkstools.com

The Greenworks G-MAX stands apart, too, because it’s almost effortless to control. In large part, that’s because it weighs 35% less than comparable gas models. What’s more: Greenworks G-MAX isn’t prone to the jitters and vibrations you get with other types of mowers. Instead, it coasts smoothly over the lawn, all while employing Smart Cut Technology to adjust power based on the thickness of the grass. You set the blades to your choice of seven cutting heights (ranging from 1-1/4″ to 3-1/2″)—and you select whether to mulch, side-discharge, or rear-bag the clippings (a handy 3-in-1 feature)—and the G-MAX does the rest. Finished for the day? You’ll like this: The handle folds all the way down to allow for hassle-free storage.

Note that the Greenworks G-MAX 40V 19-Inch Cordless Mower package comes equipped with a battery charger and not one, but two batteries. If the LED indicator on the in-use battery lets you know it’s running out of juice—no problem. Simply swap in the replacement, and you’re back in business. That said, depending on the size of your property, you may not even need the backup battery, since a fully charged 4Ah battery provides up to 45 minutes of continuous mowing over a whopping 6,500 square feet. Finally, and perhaps best of all, Greenworks gives you the freedom to use G-MAX lithium ion batteries across the full G-MAX line, which includes everything you need to keep your landscape lush and lovely.

Purchase GreenWorks G-MAX 40V 19-Inch Cordless Mower, $279.

Photo: greenworkstools.com

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Greenworks. The opinions and text are all mine.