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All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

This architectural style stands the test of time as one that delivers drama, elegance, and an emphasis on spaciousness.

All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Bainbridge Island, WA

Inspired by a Baroque and early Renaissance architectural style in which a roof’s framework exposed overhead beams crossing at different angles, today’s public buildings and private homes alike strive to capture the same elegance and texture through coffered ceilings. In architectural terms, the word “coffer” means “indentation.” To reconstruct the design, upward indentations in a ceiling are framed by beams arranged in a grid pattern of rectangles, squares, octagons, or other polygonal shapes. The finished product is three-dimensional sunken panels that slightly resemble a deeply grooved checkerboard. Besides their dramatic appearance, coffered ceilings have other benefits as well: They give the illusion of spaciousness, absorb excess sound, and potentially add to a home’s resale value. Intrigued? Before you set off to install a coffered ceiling in your home, read these considerations for the highly customizable design element.

While coffered ceilings found in residential homes are considerably less ornate than they’re counterparts in many large public buildings—courthouses, historic churches, and art galleries—the ceiling designs still create quite the focal point. Homeowners often dress up the ceiling by attaching architectural medallions to the coffers, installing tin ceiling tiles or wallpaper in the center coffer panels, painting or staining the beams to create visual depth, and incorporating ridges and scallops into the wood and beams. These design choices make the show-stopping feature easily customizable to the style of any particular home.

Although coffered ceilings draw the eye upward, the beams extend downward into a room, taking up some overhead space. Given this construction, coffered ceilings work best in rooms with high ceilings, nine feet tall or more. Rooms with lower ceilings may feel too claustrophobic or cluttered with the addition of coffers. Also keep in mind that the deeper the coffered indentations, the higher the existing ceiling should be—this ensures the bottoms of the beams don’t interfere with head space or visually overpower a room.


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Rye, NY


Ceiling height. Although coffered ceilings draw the eye upward, the beams extend downward into a room, taking up some overhead space. Given this construction, coffered ceilings work best in rooms with high ceilings, nine feet tall or more. Rooms with lower ceilings may feel too claustrophobic or cluttered with the addition of coffers. Also keep in mind that the deeper the coffered indentations, the higher the existing ceiling should be—this ensures the bottoms of the beams don’t interfere with head space or visually overpower a room.

Faux or functional beams. Most coffered ceilings in residential homes aren’t load-bearing, meaning they’re not part of a home’s structural system that supports weight. One exception would occur when adding a second story to a ranch home: Homeowners may opt to install a coffered ceiling to camouflage necessary overhead support beams. The majority of coffered ceilings are purely decorative, constructed entirely from hollow faux beams. In fact, if you want large and deeply recessed coffers, an engineer may require additional ceiling support (since even faux beams may add too much weight to a ceiling, depending on the existing joist structure).

Installation costs. If you’re planning to install a coffered ceiling, know that the labor-intensive endeavor does require advanced carpentry skills and structural work—that those without proper carpentry know-how should hire a professional for the job. Expect professional installation costs to be at least $25 per square foot. The detail in the design, as well as the type of wood you choose, will affect the final cost as well. Painted pine will be less expensive than stained cherry or red oak, and ornate designs will boost the cost even further.


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Home in Minneapolis, MN


Whether you decide to DIY a coffered ceiling or design and work with a professional to implement your plans, the first phase takes place on paper. Homeowners must decide on the number of coffers they desire, as well as the depth and width of the beams. To achieve a uniform pattern, make sure to figure out the proper ceiling dimensions and coffer dimensions first. Then, after planning the design, the next step is transferring it to the ceiling with chalk lines to represent the position of the beams.

Following the standard method of installation, you should first position the main base beams, which run perpendicular to the direction of the existing ceiling joists. At this point, the base beams are only pieces of lumber, such as 2×4s or 2×6s; later, they’ll be wrapped with additional wood to mimic the look of heftier beams. The main base beams serve as the support beams for the rest of the ceiling, so it’s important to attach them securely with adhesive and a nail gun.

The base crossbeams, which complete the grid pattern, should be cut from the same type of lumber as the main base beams. The base crossbeams run parallel to the joists and therefore don’t attach to them; instead, they’ll connect to the inner edges of the main base beams with adhesive and a nail gun. The end result should resemble a checkerboard pattern on the ceiling, which is the skeleton of a coffered ceiling.

The next step involves constructing the faux beams. To ease the process, it’s a good idea to paint or stain the wood before installation. Depending on the ceiling design and type of wood you choose, you (or your contractor) may opt to frame the sides and bottoms of the faux beams directly on the base beams. As an alternative, the faux beams can also be constructed as three-sided boxes, which are then lifted and installed over the base beams. Then install inside coffer trim and any desired ornamentation, if applicable. Now step back and enjoy the dramatic overhead effect of your English Renaissance-inspired ceiling design!


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Home in Glenview, IL

Solved! The Best Decking Material

Before you set off to build the deck of your dreams, start by finding the material best suited to your aesthetics and budget.

Best Decking Material


Q: I’m putting a new deck on my house and I want to make sure it is constructed properly. What is the best decking material? Should I use natural wood, pressure-treated, or something altogether different?

A: With so many deck options available today, from natural wood to composite and aluminum, the decision may seem overwhelming. Ultimately, finding one that suits your space comes down to a compromise of four key factors: budget, climate, ease of maintenance, and overall aesthetic. Start your construction process by considering these five most popular picks for the best decking material—we’ve got the pros and cons for each.

Natural wood ($3.75 to $20+ per square foot) is durable and beautiful, but costs can run high. Many homeowners opt for natural wood decking, whether it’s cedar, redwood, or tropical hardwoods. These durable materials, which have a traditionally beautiful appearance and rich color, resist rot and insects. But such attractive qualities come at a cost—both financial and physical. If you opt for natural wood decking materials, the price will depend on your desired variety: Expect to pay about $3.75 per square foot for cedar and $8 per square foot for redwood (although the latter will typically be cheaper on the west coast, where it’s more readily available). Some exotic hardwoods cost more than $20 per square foot! And without proper maintenance, it tends to fade or crack, so keep your investment in tip-top shape by pressure washing and re-sealing every couple of years.

Best Decking Material


Pressure-treated lumber ($1.50 to $2.50 per square foot) is a popular and affordable wooden alternative. Often made from a southern pine infused with a chemical to make it resistant to rot, moisture, and insects, this widely available decking material is generally the least expensive option and therefore the most widely used. Homeowners enjoy pressure-treated wood for its durability and visual similarity to natural wood. It’s an ideal option for do-it-yourself construction because, unlike natural wood, it’s easy to cut and fasten with nails or screws. (If installing a pressure-treated wood deck, just try to avoid the cheapest budget varieties, since these are typically more susceptible to cracks, warps, and splits over time, any of which could actually cost you more in repairs down the road.) The biggest downside to pressure-treated wood? The infused chemicals release toxic gas into the air if burned, so it’s important to always reapply a good sealer when you stain every few years in order to minimize the exposure to chemicals when using the deck. Otherwise, in regards to maintenance, homeowners will need to pressure wash annually.

Alternatively, composite decking ($4 to $10 per square foot) offers durability and attractiveness for minimum maintenance. Composite decking, from brands such as Trex and TimberTech, is made from a blend of recycled plastic (polyethylene, polypropylene, or PVC) mixed with wood fibers (like wood chips or sawdust). Not only does the durable synthetic material resist warping, it also holds strong against rot and insect infestations. Composite decking is available in a wide variety of colors and styles, including looks that mimic natural wood, none of which require sealing, sanding, or staining unless you absolutely want to change the color later on. On the flip side, dark-colored composite decking can get extremely hot in direct sunlight; mold and mildew can grow in shady, cool, or damp areas; and the surface can be quite slick when wet. (It’s best to allow adequate time to air-dry between lightly scrubbing down the surface and inviting guests out on the deck in order to avoid any slips.)

Plastic decking ($7 to 10 per square foot) stands up well over time, but the synthetic surface doesn’t look as natural. The most popular plastic decking material is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), although there are also versions made from polyethylene. Just like composite decking, plastic is durable and easy to maintain, requiring regular cleaning with just a garden hose or bucket and mop. Plastic will not warp, crack, or split over time, and it’s impervious to moisture, rot, decay, and insects. What’s more, the surface does not need to be sanded, stained, or sealed. That said, plastic decking does have its disadvantages. The surface gets extremely hot in direct sunlight and susceptible to mold and mildew in shade. And, while available in a wide variety of colors and styles, darker colors tend to fade over time and lighter colors sometimes develop a chalky coating.

And, if you can live with its industrial appearance, aluminum decking ($7 to $10+ per square foot) boasts many advantages. Often used near swimming pools and lakes, aluminum decking is a long-lasting and low-maintenance material. Most options feature a baked-on, powder-coated, or anodized finish that stands up to harsh weather conditions. Aluminum is extremely resistant to mold, mildew, and staining, and it also won’t rust, rot, crack, or peel over time. What’s more, most aluminum decking comes with a non-skid textured surface that prevents slips and falls. Surprisingly, most varieties of aluminum decking manage to stay cool even on the hottest days. However, this combination of benefits makes it one of the most expensive options, second only to some varieties of natural wood. The price—as well as the distinct industrial appearance—isn’t for every homeowner.


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from
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.

Porcelain or Ceramic: Which Tile Type Is Right for You?

Discover the similarities and key differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles so that you pick the right one for your next project. Once you've come to a decision, read on for how to keep your chosen material looking like new for years to come.

The Difference Between Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles


When considering a tile refresh for any floor, wall, or countertop, keep porcelain and ceramic tiles top of mind for their classic look and clean-lined appearance. Homeowners love their durability and versatility, as well as the wide variety of style options available. Despite all of their similarities, though, a handful of important differences separate the two types of clay-based tiles, from porousness and absorption to durability and cost. Read on to explore the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best fit for your home. Whichever way you lean—porcelain versus ceramic tile—we can equip you with the maintenance advice to keep each looking good as new.


Porcelain tile is made of refined clay and other natural elements. After being kiln-fired, the tiles are either left in their natural state or transformed to look like stone, wood, concrete, or other materials. The clay-based construction makes porcelain tile a subtype of ceramic tiles; however, porcelain tile has a hardier construction and greater durability than non-porcelain ceramic tile varieties. Homeowners can choose either glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles. Unglazed, or full-bodied, tiles have color running through the entire thickness (as opposed to a glaze placed on the top), making them longer lasting and more resistant to chipping.


Understanding Porcelain vs Ceramic Tile


Weighing the Pros and Cons of Porcelain Tile
Known as the most durable type of tile on the market, porcelain is harder, denser, tougher, and less porous than ceramic tile. It also has a very low absorption rate, meaning it’s virtually impervious to water damage, even after prolonged exposure. This characteristic makes it an ideal choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms, patios, and other moisture-prone areas. Since porcelain tile can withstand heavy traffic over long periods of time, it works well as a flooring and countertop material.

Despite its durability and versatility, porcelain has two major drawbacks: price and ease of cutting. On average, porcelain tile costs at least 60 percent more than its ceramic competitors. Also, due to its density and hardness, homeowners typically require a wet saw with a diamond blade to cut cleanly through the material. Professional installation is preferred for a flawless finish with undamaged tiles. If you’re looking to take on a budget-friendly DIY installation project, ceramic tile might be the smarter choice.

Porcelain Tile Upkeep and Maintenance
In general, porcelain is very forgiving when it comes to spills and scratches; it’s hard to damage and relatively simple to keep clean. Sweep and vacuum porcelain tile once or twice per week, depending on how much traffic it experiences. Once a month, use a vinegar-and-water solution or tile-friendly commercial cleanser to banish dirt and day-to-day build-up. If you have glazed tile, use a mop. If you have unglazed or textured tile, rely on scrub with a soft-bristle brush instead. Take care to avoid using oil-based products, waxes, abrasive scrubbers, and anything containing bleach or ammonia. Follow up with a hot water rinse, and dry thoroughly with a towel or microfiber cloth. For step-by-step guidance, consult our tutorial for cleaning porcelain tile, which breaks down the routine for glazed, unglazed, and even textured tiles.



Ceramic tiles are kiln-fired at a lower temperature than porcelain tiles, making them less dense, softer, and more porous. The clay used in its composition is also less refined, making it a more affordable, albeit less durable, option. Many homeowners opt to install ceramic tiles as flooring, especially in warm climates, where the natural coolness of the tile becomes a welcome perk in the summer months.


Understanding Porcelain vs Ceramic Tile


Weighing the Pros and Cons of Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is a versatile and affordable option for those in the market for large quantities of tile. Not only does it cost significantly less than porcelain, it’s also easier to install. Thanks to its relatively soft surface, homeowners can cut ceramic tile with a simple tile cutter—a piece of cake when you consider the far more involved process of cutting porcelain tile. What’s more, ceramic tiles have an attractive clean-lined appearance, and the durable glazed finish can be customized in a variety of colors and patterns.

Ceramic tile is not as durable as porcelain, and homeowners must clear away spills quickly due to its relatively high absorption rate. It’s best to avoid using ceramic tile in areas often exposed to moisture, such as the shower and patio. Also, due in part to its tendency to absorb moisture, ceramic tile requires weekly deep-cleaning, as opposed to monthly. The coolness of the tile might feel nice in the summer, but it can also be uncomfortably cold during the winter. Ceramic tiles are coated with a glaze, and if the tile cracks or chips, the clay material underneath the glaze will show through. Homeowners should consider using ceramic tiles in areas with low or moderate foot traffic.

Ceramic Tile Upkeep and Maintenance
With a bit of discipline, it’s easy to keep ceramic floors looking great for years on end. Once per week, sweep or vacuum your ceramic tile to clear the way for easier mopping. Then, using a mild dish detergent mixed with hot water, work your way from one end of the tile to the other with a string mop. Finally, dry the entire area swiftly and thoroughly with a towel or microfiber cloth. For a deeper dive into howto keeping these tiles sparkling, check out this guide for cleaning ceramic tile.

The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Shed

An outdoor structure offers great storage opportunities—and so much more! If you're considering erecting a shed on your property, make sure you site it correctly and choose a structure that truly suits your needs, your landscape, and your lifestyle. Learn more here!

The Dos and Don'ts of Building a Shed


A backyard shed frees up your home and garage by storing cumbersome essentials like your riding mower, hedge trimmers, and other lawn care equipment. But these sturdy little buildings can serve a host of other practical functions—and hobbies too. Think chicken coop, greenhouse, screening room—the list is limitless! For a shed to live up to its potential, however, it’s crucial to avoid common building mistakes. The dos and don’ts listed here, courtesy of the LP® Outdoor Building Solutions® pros, will help ensure that your shed meets your needs for years to come, whether you’re simply using it for storage or tricking it out as your outdoor fun zone.

DO your research.

Once you decide that adding a shed will increase the enjoyment of your outdoor space, it’s time to ask pertinent questions to assess your needs. Consider exactly how you want to use your shed, what design will best suit those tasks, and how much your budget will allow. Learn what features are most popular, and why. Also research what’s really involved with building a shed yourself, as opposed to hiring a pro to do the job, and be sure you understand such important factors as warranty and delivery.

The Dos and Don'ts of Building a Shed


DON’T think smallest.

The last thing you want is to build a shed only to discover that it’s too small to hold your stuff, handle your hobby, or otherwise meet your needs. By the same token, you don’t want a shed that’s so large it overwhelms your property and looks ungainly behind your house. Choosing the wrong size shed is a common homeowner error, but LP Outdoor Building Solutions’ handy tool helps you get it just right. Check it out, and you’ll see that size does matter!

DO plan properly.

Proceeding with your shed requires smart planning. For starters, you may need a permit from your local zoning authority and/or homeowners’ association to build a new structure on your property; check with the proper authorities before you even invest in the materials. Plus, there may be rules that dictate how you may use your shed, or whether you’re allowed to wire it for electricity. Once you get the go-ahead to build, you’ll want reliable guidelines. For anyone inclined to DIY rather than buy a prebuilt shed, look over a selection of free LP Outdoor Building Solutions plans based on your choice of size and roof style. Each set of plans comes with extensive material and hardware lists, detailed construction information, and tried-and-true building tips.

DON’T skimp on materials.

High-quality materials may cost a bit more, but they’ll save you time, trouble, and money in the long run. The chart here shows how LP® SmartSide® Panels compare with untreated plywood, vinyl, and galvanized metal. No wonder so many pros recommend sheds made with beautiful, durable LP products! If you want your shed to resist splitting, cracking, decay, and termite damage while duplicating the good looks of rich, real cedar, choose LP SmartSide® products.

DO prepare your site.

It’s vital to build your shed on a stable, level location—and never in a wet, low-lying area or on a downward slope. And no matter how well a shed is constructed, it won’t hold up on a weak base. A proper foundation is key, one that sets the shed slightly off the ground to aid water drainage and reduce moisture transfer. There are different foundation options, depending on where you live and the size and intended use of the shed, so bone up on the fundamentals and assess your options with this advice from the LP Outdoor Building Solutions team.

DON’T forget the details.

A few decorative touches can help your shed fit in with the architecture of your home and even convey how you use it. Some folks like to dress things up with a front porch, dormer, or gable, but simply adding barn-style doors, shuttered windows, and a bit of gingerbread trim can make all the difference. Color, of course, goes a long way too. Check out all the options at the LP Shed Gallery, where you’ll also see details on the materials used. Inspired by the seemingly endless possibilities, you’ll emerge motivated to create a shed you’ll be proud to show off!

Now that you’re aware of the best and worst practices, you’re probably eager to get started planning and building the perfect shed to enhance your property and your day-to-day life. Visit for the information and guidance you need to put your project in motion!



This content has been brought to you by LP Outdoor Building Solutions. Its facts and opinions are those of

Cool Tools: The Hands-Down Easiest Way to Hang Almost Anything

Do you have an awe-inspiring piece of art or a beloved memento you want to showcase on a wall? Put down that hammer! This time, rely on High & Mighty™ hangers to mount your decorative objects on drywall in seconds.

The Easiest Way to Hang Things - High & Mighty Key Rack


However elegant the outcome, hanging art, photos, or mementos on drywall can be a painstaking process. During the balancing act required to precisely position nails, screws, or other picture-hanging hardware while swinging an unwieldy hammer, you can drop the fastener, stub your finger, and still end up with your artwork woefully askew. But here’s some good news for all those who have ever hesitated to switch up their decor merely to avoid these mishaps: In the time it takes to hang one framed picture using that old-fashioned, awkward approach, you can create an entire gallery wall with a helping hand from the new High & Mighty™ line of hangers. This collection from the Hillman Group includes wall hangers, decorative hooks, and key rails (as well as hook rails and floating shelves coming soon!) that require only your own two thumbs to install. These sleek yet strong hangers are decorating essentials for both first-time and experienced homeowners who need to dress up drab walls in a hurry. Because the unique hanging technology can support items from 10 to 125 pounds, these little wonders can mount everything from small mirrors and picture frames to heavy mirrors. Keep reading to learn the secret behind these smart must-haves and find the solution to every hanging quandary you’ve ever encountered.


Designed with homeowners of all DIY skill levels in mind, High & Mighty™ hangers can be installed in drywall without using bulky hammers or heavy drills or pesky anchors, nails, or screws. Instead, through a simple place-push-hang installation process, your own two thumbs do the work of an entire toolbox.

Hanging anything with a High & Mighty™ wall hanger is just that simple: Position the solid steel fastener in the desired location on the wall, push the sides of the hanger into the drywall using both thumbs, then hang the decorative object. For hooks and key rails—and, soon, hook rails and floating shelves—installation is just as hassle-free. Place the hanging mount on the wall, press it into the wall according to the illustrated directions, and fit the product cover (be it a hook, rail, or shelf) snugly over the top. Plus, each hook rail and floating shelf package will include a template and miniature level to help you avoid lopsided hangings and achieve picture-perfect results every time.


No matter what home accent you’re trying to hang—a framed family photo, a collection of keys, a child’s backpack…you name it—High & Mighty™ offers a super-strength hanger tailored to the task. To help you identify exactly which option best fits your needs, High & Mighty™ has an easy-to-use web tool that asks two questions: what type of object would you like to hang and how much does it weigh? You’ll then be given a set of personalized recommendations that may include any of the following wall-hanging heroes (as well as their weight capacity).


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Wall Hangers


Wall Hangers: Designed for use with picture wire, saw-tooth mounts, and ring-style mounts, High & Mighty™ Wall Hangers offer the perfect resting spots for picture frames, art canvases, mirrors, and clocks. Despite the slim silhouette of these coin-size hangers, their solid steel construction allows them to safely and securely support heavier decor. Just select a hanger suited to the size of your decorative accent (whether 20, 40, 60, or even 125 pounds), and follow the easy place-and-push installation steps to secure it to your wall in seconds. Available at Lowe’s.


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Decorative Wall Hooks


Decorative Hooks: Have you run out of closet space to hang your hat, coat, bag, or backpack? Relocate everyday garments and accessories to High & Mighty™’s metal or plastic Decorative Hooks to keep clutter at bay. Squeeze a hook or two into almost any open wall space—like a tiny entryway or a closet sidewall—and enjoy seriously strong storage in an instant. Available in 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-pound capacity versions, these trusty hooks with sturdy steel wall mounts stay put where traditional hooks falter. (In fact, they offer up to five times the strength of other tool-free hooks.) And the variety of shapes, styles, and colors—from oval to rectangular, and solid white to oil-rubbed bronze—boost a wall’s form as well as function. Available at Home Depot.


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Hook and Key Rails


Key Rails and (coming in Fall 2017) Hook Rails: Who said key rails are only for keys? High & Mighty™ Key Rails and Hook Rails make it possible to hang up and organize many small collections found throughout the home. Both boast steel mounts sturdy enough to hold jewelry, coffee mugs, and leashes on the 5- to 10-pound key rails and even coats, bags, and umbrellas on the generous 30- and 50-pound weight limits of hook rails. Choose your favorite hook and plaque styles—like key rails with elegant oval rings or hook rails with a storage-friendly double-hook design—and the four to six strong hooks built into each rail make it easy to corral essentials in a convenient location like the mudroom, kitchen command center, or master closet. With your possessions so neatly displayed in a row, it’s never been so easy to find what you need!


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Floating Shelves


(Coming in Fall 2017) Floating Shelves: With High & Mighty™ Floating Shelves at the ready, you can install stylish vertical storage at a moment’s notice—no need to even stop to find a stud! The 18-, 24-, and 36-inch shelves offer just enough space for displaying indoor plants, photos, lightweight decor, and mementos. They’ll even help to clear clutter from work surfaces: Mount one in just minutes in a storage-starved bathroom to relieve your crowded vanity of some bottles or above the desk so you can move your mini library to the wall. Whether you opt for a white ledge with beveled corners or a more modern style with straight edges and an espresso finish, the 17 shelf variations allow you to match the color and design scheme of the room.


High & Mighty™ hangers are built to last, but they’re also easy to remove when your wall is ready for a fresh face. Simply lift the artwork or other decorative object from the hanger (and, if needed, slide the hook rail, key rail, or floating shelf off the hanging mount), then wedge a flathead screwdriver beneath the hanger and gently pry it from the wall. The reusable fastener is ready for its next placement, and the wall itself will show almost no evidence that anything had been there. Unlike conspicuous nail and screw holes that can turn a wall into an eyesore, the minor holes left behind by the claws of High & Mighty™ hangers mean that your drywall needs barely any preparation before your next round of decorating. Just repeat that same speedy place-push-hang installation process to reinvigorate your walls with a new look.

Eager to get started on a super-simple wall refresh? Find out where you can get your hands on a new High & Mighty™ wall hanger.



This content has been brought to you by The Hillman Group. Its facts and opinions are those of

Solved! How High to Hang Pictures

Whether a casual vacation snapshot or a professional family portrait, you can give your favorite pictures the attention they deserve with this guide to the perfect height for hanging pictures on the wall.

How High to Hang Pictures


Q: I recently framed my son’s graduation photo and want to display it in my living room. If I hang it too high, I’m afraid it will stick out like a sore thumb. But hung too low on the wall, it will blend in with other furnishings in the room. What’s the right height and technique for hanging a picture?

A: Knowing how high to hang pictures not only improves a room’s aesthetics but guarantees more comfortable viewing, too! Most homeowners and renters hang pictures so high on the wall that viewers are forced to crane their necks to admire your favorite photos, but you want to keep it at eye level for the average person.

Position your picture so that it is 57 inches on-center—meaning the center of the frame sits exactly that far from the floor. By following the rule of 57 inches, you wield the power to turn any picture into an accessible focal point of the room. If you’re feeling skeptical, consider that this principle is adopted by many museums and art galleries. And, when the centers of the pictures throughout a room fall in alignment, you achieve a harmonious and balanced perspective at every angle, even when you hang a row of variously sized pictures.

How High to Hang Pictures


This rule of thumb also applies to a collection of pictures, as in a gallery wall. When working with several frames, the center of the picture grouping (rather than the center of any one picture) should hit the 57-inch level on the wall. Say, for example, you want to display four five-inch-tall pictures mounted vertically with four inches of wall space between each one. You’d measure the top edge of the top frame to the bottom edge of the bottom frame for a total height of 32 inches. Half the gallery height—which is 16 inches—should lie above the 57-inch level, and the other half should lie below it. Avoid making mistakes in the arrangement of a gallery wall by laying out a template with cut-to-size paper affixed to the wall with tape.

That said, it’s not a hard and fast rule for every scenario. If furnishings like a high-back chair or roll-top desk partially cover art centered 57 inches up the wall, adjust accordingly. Here, it’s better to distance bottom ledge of the picture frame six to eight inches from the top of the accent.

Use the picture’s center point to calculate where to mount the hardware. Mounting a frame to the wall always gets a little tricky since its hardware—be it a wire, sawtooth, or D-ring hanger—can be located anywhere from a half-inch to three inches below the top edge of the frame. Know exactly where to put your wall hanger to ensure the frame’s center is 57 inches above the floor using a few quick calculations:

STEP 1: Divide the height of the frame in half.

STEP 2: From this number, subtract the distance from the top of the hardware to the top of the picture frame itself. (If your picture frame has a wire, pull the wire taut when measuring.)

STEP 3: Add the resulting figure to 57 inches.

STEP 4: Measure this distance from any point on the floor and mark the spot on the wall. This is where you should install the wall-mounting hardware to hang your picture.

Ready, set, mount. Ensure that your project won’t come crashing down from its new height later on by selecting wall-mounting hardware—such as a standard picture-hanging nail, adhesive-backed 3M Command Sawtooth Picture Hanger, or tool-free High & Mighty™ wall hanger—based on the weight of your frame. Then, follow manufacturer instructions to install and check your work with a level to perfectly hang your photo for all to see.


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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

Official Rules: Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General


Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General  (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 and submitting your name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General ” 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 Fujitsu General. The winner shall receive a Fujitsu Halcyon RLS3Y Wall Mounted Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System, plus up to $2,500 toward installation. 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 approximately $5,000. 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.

How To: Use a Table Saw

Master the info and techniques here to ensure safe, efficient, satisfying work with this popular power tool.

How to Use a Table Saw


Anyone serious about woodworking or DIY eventually wants to add a table saw to their power tool arsenal. Named for the table that supports the material being cut, the table saw is an excellent tool for making quick, precise work of repetitive cutting tasks. If you’re in the market for one of these beauties or just bought one for your home workshop, study up here on how to use a table saw to make cuts correctly and safely.

Table Saw Basics

Table saws, which run between $300 for a standard model to $700 for a contractor-quality version, are sold by the size of the blades they accommodate. The 10” size is most common and ideal for most carpentry and woodworking tasks, yet you’ll find 8” table saws that are handy for small work and 12” versions well suited to creating deeper cuts on thicker material. The parts of a table saw include:

• A table top of at least 3’X3’ (possibly larger than 4’X6’) with extensions available for most brands. The table, typically made from cast steel or cast aluminum, rests on a stand or a metal cabinet. Most table saws are considered stationary power tools, but portable versions with foldable legs for easier moving are available.

• A blade that can be raised or lowered via a blade-height crank

• A rip fence, which is a guide bar positioned parallel to the saw blade

• A miter gauge that assists the user in making crosscuts

• Blade guards that encase the blade while it’s cutting to offer a measure of protection in case your fingers get close to the blade

• Push sticks that allow you to feed the material through the saw without your fingers getting close to the moving blade

Depending on the saw you choose, you may have additional accessories such as rollers or table extensions to support long lengths of wood, vacuum attachments, or clamps.


How to Use a Table Saw


Safety First

Too many weekend warriors—and pros—have suffered serious injuries for not knowing how to use a table saw. If not properly handled, the material being cut can get in a bind and kicked back, either throwing the material at a high velocity toward them or jerking it violently and pulling their fingers toward the blade. To lessen the risks of kickback:

• Never start the saw while the material you’re cutting is touching the blade.

• Always use the rip fence when making “rip” cuts.

• Always use the miter gauge, not the rip fence, for crosscuts (the rip fence doesn’t offer adequate support).

• Keep material completely flat against the table during the cut.

In addition to the specific safety observances to prevent kickback, take the time read the manufacturer’s safety provisions and be sure to always wear goggles and ear protection while using the table saw. Also remember to unplug the saw before you adjust or align the blade, and don’t remove the safety guards that come with the saw.

Making the Cuts

With accessories such as clamps, stops, and jigs, you can make such specialty cuts as dado cuts, compound angles, and rabbet joints—yet woodworkers rely on the table saw most for two basic cuts. Ripping, the most common use of a table saw, involves cutting material to a specific width. Crosscutting applies to cutting material to a specific length. Below, you’ll find step-by-step directions for using a table saw to make each of these common cuts.


How to Use a Table Saw


How to Rip

Ripping is the simplest cut to make, thanks to the table saw’s rip fence that adjusts to the width of the desired cut and also serves as a guide to control the material while cutting.

Unplug the table saw and fit a rip blade (suitable for the material you’re cutting) into the blade arbor on the top of the table. Adjust the blade height so the top of the blade rises no more than ¼” above the thickness of the material you’re cutting. For example, if you’re ripping long pieces of wood from ½” plywood, set the blade no higher than ¾” above the tabletop.

To do this, use the arbor nut wrench that came with your table saw to loosen the arbor nut (the nut that holds the blade in place) and position the rip blade with the teeth facing the front of the table saw. A table saw blade spins towards you, from the top downward, so the sharp blades must face the front of the table saw and not the back. Tighten the arbor nut snugly.

Position the rip fence by releasing the locking lever on the front of the fence, which locks the fence into place, and then sliding it so its inner edge matches the desired width of the cut. Your table saw has a ruler on the front to help position the fence, but don’t depend solely on the ruler for measuring your cut. Use a precision tape measure and measure the distance from the fence to the closest edge of a saw blade tooth. Saw blade teeth alternate, one toward the left and then one toward the right. By measuring to the closest edge, you’ll account for the amount of wood the blade will cut away (called the kerf) during the cut.

Plug in the table saw and place the material to be cut on the table, aligned with the rip fence, but do not allow the material to touch the blade until you’ve turned on the saw and the blade reaches full speed. If the material makes contact with the blade before the blade reaches cutting speed, it a sure recipe for kickback.

Guide the material slowly but firmly along the rip fence with one or both hands, whichever is necessary to control the material, keeping it flat along the table top and snugly aligned with the fence. When ripping large, thick boards, you’ll often want to use both hands to guide the material at the start, and then switch to one hand as the cut nears completion. If the material is long and extends beyond the back of the table, either use a table extension to support it or have a helper support it as you cut to keep the material flat at all times. Don’t let go of the material and walk around to the back of the table saw, which may cause the material to lift off the table, increasing the risk of kickback.

Use a push stick when necessary to keep your fingers away from the moving blade. A push stick is designed to guide the material when you’re making narrow rips that would put your fingers within a few inches of the blade. Don’t chance it—always use a push stick.


How to Use a Table Saw


How to Crosscut

When making crosscuts on a table saw, it’s vital to remember not to use the rip fence a guide. The rip fence stabilizes long lengths, but most crosscuts are made on fairly narrow material—cutting it in half or taking off the end of a board, for example. Not enough of the material is available to fit along the rip fence during crosscuts so attempting to use the fence increases the risk of dangerous kickbacks. Instead, use a miter gauge.

A miter gauge features a guide fence to stabilize the material and a bar that fits into one of the deep grooves on the table’s surface. When the bar is fitted into a groove, the whole miter gauge slides from the front to the back of the table saw so you can control the cut. It also features a protractor-like guide that’s adjustable by loosening a knob and then selecting the correct angle before retightening the knob. Sometimes, the miter gauge that comes with a table saw is a little on the lightweight side. If you plan to do a lot of crosscutting, consider investing in an after-market miter gauge that’s more substantial. Alternately, you can use a miter sled (see “Note” below).

Unplug the table saw and insert a crosscut blade into the table saw arbor as described above in Step 1 of “How to Rip.”

Adjust the protractor guide on miter gauge to make either straight or mitered (angled) crosscuts.

Position and align the material along the front edge of the miter gauge, using clamps if necessary to secure it in place.

Plug in the table saw and turn it on but do not let the wood touch the blade until the blade is spinning at full speed.

Carefully slide the entire miter gauge and the material you’re cutting forward slowly and carefully through the moving blade.

Turn the table saw off before retrieving cut off parts of material near the blade.

Note: You may wish to use an after-market miter sled to support your material during crosscuts. A miter sled resembles a shallow rectangular box with pre-cut slots in the bottom, which allow you to position the material in the sled and then slide the entire sled over the table while cutting. You don’t necessarily have to buy one, though. Many woodworkers make their own miter sleds, and you can find free detailed plans online. Making a miter sled might be a great first project for your new table saw!


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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

Buyer’s Guide: Hammocks

Are you looking to kick back in a hammock this summer? Before hitting the stores, check out our guide to learn more about styles, sizes, and structure.

Best Hammock – Buyer's Guide


During the summer months, nothing beats kicking back in a hammock and swaying gently on a warm breeze with a paperback novel and iced beverage. These hanging seats provide a comfortable and portable option for lounging and sleeping. First developed by the Mayans more than a thousand years ago, they’re now used by campers who desire a functional sleeping space, as well as by those seeking a little R&R on a beach or in the backyard. When selecting the best hammock for your outdoor activities, consider a few key factors, like style, size, weight, and suspension system. Whether you want a sturdy sleeping platform for your next backpacking adventure or a laid-back seating option for your backyard, check out our guide for the top-rated hammocks on the market today.


Buyer's Guide – Best Hammock


Before making a purchase, consider the following factors that distinguish options available on the market today to choose the best hammock for your needs.

Size: Hammocks come in various sizes, and most designs accommodate one or two people. Typically, hammock beds range from 48 to 102 inches in width and are generally 96 inches in length—although some camping models are smaller in both dimensions to save space and weight.

Weight: If you’re purchasing a hammock for hiking and camping, weight is an important consideration. Campers won’t want to tote anything too bulky or heavy. Ultra-light camping hammocks constructed with synthetic materials can weigh as little as seven ounces, and they can be compacted into an area about the size of a softball. Rope or fabric hammocks, often designed for home use, generally weigh a few pounds more. As the heaviest option, quilted fabric hammocks can weigh up to six pounds, depending on the fabric. Make sure to also consider the weight of your chosen suspension system, since straps, slings, ropes, and carabiners will add 10 to 15 ounces to the system’s total weight.

Weight Capacity: All hammocks have a “carrying capacity,” with weight limits ranging from 150 to 500 pounds. Solo hammocks usually top out at about 250 pounds, while couples hammocks are designed to hold 350 to 500 pounds. Weight limits only apply for static weight capacity; jumping, swinging, and other vigorous activity will lessen the total weight capacity, as well as shorten the lifespan of your hammock.

Suspension System: Many backyard or lounging hammocks have wooden spreaders (or poles) along the length of each end, which keep the hammock open after it’s suspended from trees, poles, or hammock stands with hanging hooks and chains. Camping hangers, on the other hand, don’t have spreaders; instead, they’re suspended with webbing straps, synthetic tree slings, or nylon ropes attached to the hammock with carabiners. Hammocks with multiple attachment points allow for more flexibility and adjustability in hanging. When hanging a hammock, try making the rope have a 30-degree pitch for the best support.

Accessories: Think about how you plan to use the hammock, and look into its compatibility with various accessories. One popular item is freestanding metal hammock stands, which allow you to place your hammock anywhere—even in places without trees. Other accessories include sleeping pads to add comfort to rope hammocks, pillows, storage or carrying bags, hammock canopies designed to shield you from the sun’s rays or the occasional rain shower, and mosquito netting to keep pesky bugs at bay.


Best Hammock – Buyer's Guide



The style and material of your hammock will also differ based on your desired usage. Even so, consumers will find a wide variety of options available at the store. Here, we’ve described seven popular styles of hammock.

• Everyone who grew up watching “Gilligan’s Island” is familiar with the most common type of hammock: an open-weave cotton rope variety. These hammocks, which are typically the least expensive, allow for maximum air flow. Hammocks made of cotton ropes are comfortable and breezy, and the ropes will stretch to match the contour of a body. But since cotton absorbs moisture, they are more prone to mildew.

• Open-weave polyester rope hammocks are more durable, less prone to mold and mildew, and better able to withstand high humidity, salt air, and ultraviolet rays. However, polyester rope is less flexible than cotton rope, and therefore may not be as comfortable. Both cotton and polyester open-weave hammocks typically are constructed with wooden or metal spreader bars.

Quilted fabric hammocks, which also feature spreader bars, have two layers of fabric with cotton or polyester padding sandwiched in between. These types of hammocks typically are reversible, with a solid color fabric on one side and a patterned fabric on the other. Since fabric hammocks don’t have holes or gaps on the surface, they’re a safe option for families with children.

• Constructed of thin cotton or nylon thread, Mayan hammocks don’t have a spreader bar. The flexible and lightweight design allows users to “cocoon” themselves inside of the fabric. Taking a cue from their traditional roots, Mayan hammocks are often bright and colorful.

Brazilian hammocks are hand woven from cotton fibers, which are crafted into cozy thick fabrics accented by bright colors and an ornamental fringe. Most Brazilian hammocks do not have spreader bars. The thickness of the fabric makes it suitable for cooler climates.

Poolside or seaside hammocks resist moisture, fading, ultraviolet rays, and exposure to salt. In addition, they’re durable, long-lasting, and easy to clean with warm water and liquid soap. Consumers can find these with or without spreader bars.

• Typically made from lightweight nylon or polyester, camping hammocks are characterized by their light weight and portability. They can survive most weather conditions, and some even come with mesh screens to protect from bugs.

If you want the comfort of a hammock but have limited space, consider purchasing a hammock chair. Offered in rope or fabric styles, hammock chairs can be hung from a sturdy beam, branch, or pole



Regardless of the material and style, a hammock can help you chill out, kick back, and relax in the comfort of your own backyard. Here a three of the best hammock options on the market today, based on consumer reviews and expert opinions.


Best Hammock – Buyer's Guide


Vivere Double Hammock with Space-Saving Steel Stand ($101.53)
A classic Brazilian-style hammock, the Vivere Double Hammock received 4.7 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who praised its durable construction, high comfort level, and easy assembly. The double bed measures 63-by-94 inches, and the hammock comes with a nine-foot-long space-saving steel stand and a carrying case. The Vivere hammock accommodates up to 450 pounds, and it’s available in a choice of three fabrics: 100 percent vegetable-dyed cotton, woven polyester, and weather-resistant Sunbrella. Available on Amazon.


Best Hammock – Buyer's Guide


ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock ($69.95)
The DoubleNest Hammock, a lightweight and portable option for camping, received 4.8 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers. The backpack-friendly fabric–strong and breathable nylon taffeta with triple interlocking stitching–can safely support up to 400 pounds, and compacts to the size of a grapefruit. Buyers will also get aluminum wiregate carabiners and nautical grade line for easy setup. Available on Amazon.


Best Hammock – Buyer's Guide


Algoma 11 Foot Cotton Rope Hammock with Metal Stand Deluxe Set ($130)
This 100 percent pure cotton rope hammock comes with a steel frame stand, polyester pad, pillow, and holders for drinks and an iPad. The set received 4.6 out of 5 stars from Amazon shoppers, who praised its comfort, easy installation, and high quality. The double-lounger hammock measures 150-by-35 inches and holds up to 275 pounds. Available on Amazon.

5 Simple Fixes for Worn Concrete

Concrete surfaces are built to last, but sometimes you need to intervene to make sure they stay as good-looking as they are hardworking. Read on to learn how to tackle five common superficial concrete flaws—and which products are best for each repair.

5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


Concrete is one of the most durable construction materials around, but faulty installation, everyday wear and tear, exposure to chemicals, and even the hazards of extreme temperatures can all take a toll on concrete surfaces. If your concrete is starting to look a little rough around the edges, take heart: You can probably fix it! Whether the problem is spalling on a concrete slab, scratches on a countertop, or crumbling edges on steps, you can often restore the concrete to its former good looks using the right techniques and quality repair products. Keep reading for DIY solutions to five of the most common superficial concrete problems.


5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


The Cure for Crumbling Concrete Steps
Crumbling or chipped step surfaces, edges, or corners can really detract from your home’s curb appeal. You don’t have to put up with the rundown look of chipped, damaged stairs. As long as the steps are structurally sound—meaning, they’re not spalling, flaking, or broken all the way through—you can repair most surface issues.

If you’re dealing with cracks and chips, count on the polymer resins in Quikrete’s Vinyl Concrete Patcher to generate a tough, durable bond with the existing concrete and even out the surface. The patcher can be spread over clean and sound chipped surfaces to a thickness of ¼ inch, and its smooth consistency makes it easy to feather out with a trowel and blend with the rest of the step’s surface. If your patch is thicker, build the vinyl concrete patcher up in ¼ inch applications. (See this handy video for the technique.)

Restoring crumbling step edges to their former crisp and sharp contour appearance requires a different product altogether: Quikrete’s Quick-Setting Cement. When mixed with Quikrete’s Acrylic Fortifier, this product yields a flexible semisolid mixture you can shape, mold, and sculpt to each step’s exact edge. If making repairs shallower than one inch, adding the acrylic fortifier to the quick-setting cement will increase bonding strength. Follow the tips in this video to prep the concrete surface and create new edges with ease.


5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


Resurface a Spalling Driveway
Are you finding flakes and pits in your outdoor concrete? This effect, called spalling, often occurs in concrete that was poured too wet at installation, but such factors as prolonged snow exposure, repeated use of chemical ice-melting products, or persistent dripping of water in one place (such as under a garage eave or beneath a spot that lacks gutters) can also cause this type of surface damage. Fortunately, though spalling is definitely an eyesore, it won’t actually compromise the structural integrity of your driveway, sidewalk, or patio. You can get rid of it by smoothing Quikrete’s Concrete Resurfacer over the rough, damaged surface. Concrete Resurfacer is manufactured from Portland cement and a unique blend of polymers and additives that give it extra strength and durability. And it’s tough enough to drive on, to boot!

For the best results, divide large driveways into smaller areas; working one section at a time makes it easier to apply and control the resurfacing product. Clean the existing surface with a power washer, then mix the resurfacing product using a heavy-duty drill and paddle bit, then spread it on evenly with a long-handled squeegee following these tips from the pros. You can use a utility broom to add texture that will keep the concrete slabs from becoming dangerously slick when wet.


5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


Eliminate Countertop Scratches and Stains
As cool to the touch as they are to look at, concrete countertops offer a trendy yet tough work surface for the kitchen—a space where the concrete will inevitably succumb to stains and scratches over time. Should any of these superficial flaws appear on your countertop, the best way to restore the surface is simply to grind it down, then restain and reseal it. Lucky for you, stains and scratches rarely penetrate deeper than the top layer of a concrete countertop, so you don’t have to remove too much of the surface to get rid of them. Wearing a respirator mask and protective eyewear to keep the airborne concrete dust at bay, sand the entire surface in several passes using a handheld grinder fitted with a series of diamond grinding pads. Work in graduated grits, beginning with a 50-grit pad to remove any stains and scratches, then move up to a pad as fine as 400 grit for an ultra-smooth, polished surface.

Next, apply a good penetrating stain like Quikrete’s Penetrating Concrete Stain to the sanded surface to enhance the natural beauty of your countertop with one of a variety of rich hues. Protect your countertop’s fresh new look with a sealer like Quikrete’s Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer, which will prevent damage from acidic spills, such as vinegar or lemon juice. (A sealed countertop is likely to develop a warm and inviting patina, which most homeowners love, over its first few months.) Finally, once the sealer is dry, get your countertop ready for meal prep by finishing with a layer of glossy, food-safe wax, such as carnauba.


5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


Replace Worn Patio and Driveway Expansion Joints
Expansion joints are set in large expanses of concrete to prevent the surface from developing cracks as sections shift imperceptibly over time as a result of temperature fluctuations or soil movement. If, however, these joints were never sealed, or if the old sealer has since hardened, crumbled, or pulled away from the concrete in spots, the joints cannot do their jobs. Once damaged, these spaces can allow water to seep under the concrete surface, which increases the risk of soil movement and can result in cracks.

You can prolong your patio’s lifespan by removing the old sealant, cleaning the joints, and applying new sealant. As with all concrete repairs, the surface must first be cleaned of dirt, debris, and grease. For hard-to-remove stains on exterior slabs, use Quikrete’s Concrete and Asphalt Cleaner, which is applied with a stiff brush and then rinsed off with a hose. Cut away hardened sealant from expansion joints using a utility knife. If any of the expansion joints are ½ inch or wider, insert a compressible foam “backer rod” into the joint first to prevent sealant from sagging between slabs, leaving approximately ¼ inch of space above for the sealant. After the joints have been cleaned and prepped, squeeze Quikrete’s Self-Leveling Polyurethane Sealant into each joint using a standard caulk gun. When you’re ready to get started, review this video for a close look at every step in the process, from prepping the joints to applying the new sealant.


5 Ways to Make Worn-Out Concrete Look Great


Plug Leaky Basement Walls
Lateral pressure from the soil outside can cause basement walls to develop cracks over time. More than just unsightly, these cracks also increase the risk of groundwater seeping into your basement. As long as the cracks are small (¼ inch or less) and the wall isn’t showing signs of structural failure, you can reduce the likelihood of winding up with a wet basement by sealing the cracks immediately with Quikrete’s Hydraulic Water-Stop Cement. When mixed according to the instructions and applied as shown in this video tutorial, the cement takes on a putty-like consistency that can easily be pushed and molded into the cracks. The material expands, locking it into place permanently.

So, now that you know how easy it is to make some basic concrete fixes around the house—and which products are best for each application—what’s stopping you? Get to work cleaning up small cracks, untidy edges, and rough surfaces to give your house a neater, more polished appearance.


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