Basement & Garage - Bob Vila

Category: Basement & Garage


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Mission Impossible? Setting Out to Save a Damp, Dingy Furnace Room

Basement moisture introduces mold and mildew, wood rot and worse. Gradually, the effect of such issues combine to compromise the home both structurally and aesthetically. Fortunately for us all, affordable and DIY-friendly masonry waterproofer can both of those problems at the same time. Read on to find out how!

Waterproofing Basement Walls with DRYLOK Extreme

Photo: DBSchwartz

As homeowners, we all have our dirty little secrets, whether it be a carpet stain concealed by strategically placed furniture or in my case, a basement furnace room that resembles a horror-movie set. Despite being dimly lit, with exposed pipes spreading like tentacles all around, I know the room would have problems much worse than aesthetics, if it weren’t for the sump pump and drains I opted to add several years ago. The combination worked wonders to stem the tide of basement leaks we’d been struggling to control until then. But recently, I began to recognize that although pools of liquid water no longer suddenly appear on the floor, another, subtler warning sign—unsightly, unhealthy mildew—proves that basement moisture remains an issue.

So I decided to launch on a new campaign aimed not only at protecting against future mildew growth, but also at improving the look of the furnace room once and for all. Of course, I’m not the first homeowner to take on a project like this. In fact, scores of waterproofing paint products exist for the purpose of solving moisture and cosmetic issues simultaneously. Formulated for use on masonry surfaces like the concrete block in my basement, waterproofing paint effectively halts moisture seepage, even while transforming the look of the material it’s protecting. Best of all—and in contrast to other, more elaborate water-control solutions—working with a waterproofer isn’t complicated. You can apply it yourself, sidestepping the hassle and expense of hiring a pro.

DRYLOK, a longtime leader in the category, stands out for many reasons. Not least is that for its full line of waterproofers, the company guarantees results on all masonry walls, interior or exterior, above or below grade. For maximum protection, I opted for DRYLOK Extreme. Recommended for the most demanding conditions and capable of resisting the hydrostatic pressure equivalent to a 33-foot-tall wall of water, DRYLOK Extreme does what other, broadly similar products do, only better. Plus, thanks to a special added ingredient—a non-hazardous biocide—DRYLOK Extreme also prevents precisely the sort of mildew growth that had motivated me to confront the issue, research solutions, and finally tackle my furnace room project in the first place.

Basement Wall Water Damage

Photo: DBSchwartz

I felt confident DRYLOK Extreme would successful in defending against leaks and seepage. But I didn’t necessarily feel sure it’d be able to beautify the room. As the above photos attest, the walls in the room had seen better days—much better days. In other words, in setting the goal of improving aesthetics here, I certainly had my work cut out for me. Fortunately, working with DRYLOK couldn’t be much easier. In many ways, it’s no different from painting a panel of drywall. Both projects even start with the same step—choosing a color. By default, DRYLOK Extreme comes in crisp, pure white, but importantly, if you don’t like white, bear in mind you can tint the coating to any color you want. For my furnace room, I chose to stick with white and in order to do the recommended two coats, I stocked up on four gallons of the product (each covers 75 to 100 square feet). Keep reading for all the details on what I did next!

STAGE 1: PREPARATION

Cleaning Basement Walls

Photo: DBSchwartz

First off, I cleaned the walls thoroughly with a wire brush, removing years of dust, dirt, and debris in the process. Next, to brush away any lingering crud, I went over the walls one more time, now with a natural-bristle brush better able to catch smaller particles. While working, I encountered several white, powdery patches of efflorescence. I’d ignored these deposits in the past, because while efflorescence wasn’t doing the furnace room any favors in the looks department, it wasn’t doing any real harm to the home. However, for the DRYLOK product to adhere properly, I needed to remove it all—and I did, using DRYLOK Etch (muriatic acid also works). With the walls now clean, and since there was no pre-existing paint to strip, I moved right on to the next step.

Note: When cleaning masonry surfaces prior to applying waterproofing paint, look not only for efflorescence, but also for cracks, holes, and gouges. Any such imperfections must be patched before continuing. Theoretically, you can repair damage in masonry walls with any type of hydraulic cement, but many do-it-yourselfers choose to rely on Fast Plug, a product DRYLOK makes specifically for the purpose at hand. How does it work? You simply mix the compound, then work it into the crack, hole, or gouge until flush with the surrounding masonry. To finish, smooth the patch with a putty knife, then wait for Fast Plug to harden. True to its name, Fast Plug doesn’t take long—no more than five minutes—but of course its results last a lot longer.

STAGE 2: APPLICATION

Waterproofing Basement Walls with DRYLOK Extreme

Photo: DBSchwartz

DRYLOK Extreme comes pre-mixed, but it’s important to stir the product, both before you begin and during the process, just as you would a can of regular paint. That said, applying masonry waterproofing isn’t exactly the same as painting. Whereas you would apply paint in thin, light layers, DRYLOK goes on thick, and for best results, you need to work it as deeply as possible into the pores of the surface. For me, though, the hardest part wasn’t getting good coverage—it was working around the various obstructions impeding access to the walls. It took a few acrobatic feats of dexterity, but in the end, I managed to complete the first coat. Then, three hours later—that’s how quickly DRYLOK fully cures—I put on the second coat, taking care to fill every last pinhole.

And now? Gone are the dark, dingy walls that made the furnace room look so much like, well, a furnace room. Instead, the space now boasts smooth, glossy, white walls that not only create the optical illusion of greater square footage, but also give the space a clean-and-cared-for look. In other words, now that it’s bright and inviting, the furnace room isn’t my dirty little secret anymore. It’s never going to be my favorite part of the house, but for the foreseeable future, I expect it to remain in its current state. With regular paint, I’d concerned about moisture eventually peeling, blistering, or otherwise ruining the finish. But since DRYLOK Extreme does double duty, beautifying and waterproofing at once, the results of my day’s labor should stand the test of time.

DRYLOK DIY

Photo: DBSchwartz

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

 


Buyer’s Guide: Garage Heaters

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

Best Garage Heater

Photo: istockphoto.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Garage Heater
Photo: istockphoto.com

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

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

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

 

HOT STUFF

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

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: amazon.com

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

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: homedepot.com

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

 

Best Garage Heater

Photo: homedepot.com


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


Solved! What to Do About a Flooded Basement

When your basement is a wading pool, help can't come fast enough. Read on for the right way to dry it out—without risking your safety.

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what-to-do-about-a-flooded-basement

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q. Help! I went to the basement to do some laundry but found water on the floor instead! How do I rescue my flooded basement?

A. Few household issues are as scary as serious flooding, but a little quick thinking now can save you a lot of money on repairs later. Water accumulates in the basement for all kinds of reasons, including burst pipes, sewage backups, nearby tree removals, and inadequate drainage. The most common culprit is rising groundwater from heavy rainfall or melting snow. Once enough water pools around your foundation, the moisture seeps inside and travels to the lowest ground—in this case, your basement.  Whatever the root of your problem, we’ll show you how to dry out your basement—step by step.

Safety first. You might be panicking about your belongings, but safety should always be your first priority. Because water conducts electricity, entering a flooded basement can be deadly.  For water more than a foot deep, the risk of electrocution is much higher, and you’ll need to hire a professional who specializes in flood remediation. If you’re only dealing with one or two inches of water, you can probably clear out most of the flooding on your own. Still, it’s a good idea to ask someone to stay nearby so they can intervene if things go awry. From raw sewage to chemicals and pollutants, all kinds of hazardous materials can be present in flood water. Don’t go downstairs without protective clothing, goggles, and gloves. Don’t forget to pull on a pair of waterproof boots, and be sure to grab a flashlight so you can see where you’re going.

what-to-do-about-a-flooded-basement-1

Photo: istockphoto.com

Shut off your power and gas supply. If there are gas lines or gas appliances in the basement, go outside first to shut off the supply from your meter’s gas main. If there’s a few inches of water, laying out a few 2×4s or turned-over five-gallon buckets may allow you to reach your breaker panel to kill the power. If you can’t safely reach your breaker, go back upstairs and call your power provider. They’ll help you determine the best next step for your specific situation, which may include sending a utilities worker to pull the meter face from the meter pan, disconnecting your house from the electrical grid.

Remove the water. Whether you rent a sump pump, go old-school with a bucket and mop, or use a wet/dry vac, it’s important to clear out the water quickly.

• If you know it’s not sewage backup and can pour the excess water down your storm drains, then do that.

• If you’re unsure, dump the water on your lawn or another permeable surface away from your home. 

• If possible, use an upstairs outlet and run an extension cord for your sump pump or wet-vac, being extremely careful to keep the cord and plug away from the water. Never use an outlet that has been exposed to water.

• If it’s a clear day, open any windows to increase air circulation. High-powered fans and dehumidifiers can also speed up the drying phase.

Salvage what you can. Anything of value should be relocated to a dry spot where the damp items won’t damage floors or furnishings. If you have wooden baseboards, you might be able to save them; pull them out and put them aside to dry. Anything containing electrical wiring (including outlets exposed to the flooding) should be thrown away, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Clear the floor. Now that you’re removed the pooled water, you can now pull up any carpets or rugs. Rubber backing will not be salvageable, and there’s a good chance your carpets and rugs may not be either. Put your floor coverings aside to dry, and come back to them later to assess their condition.

Check the drywall. Any drywall that has been soaked is drywall that likely needs replacing. Usually, wet drywall will crumble and its paper covering becomes a breeding ground for mold. If that’s the case, you can do a “flood cut” of the drywall 12 to 18 inches above the line of damage. That area from the floor to the cut will have to be re-drywalled, and any insulation exposed to water will have to be replaced.

Disinfect and throw away damaged things. If it’s clean water that flooded, you can consider skipping this step, but you’ll feel better if you’ve given everything a good cleaning, including the walls and exposed wood. Some products can prevent mold and mildew problems before they can take hold. When applied to the surface and left overnight, they’ll kill any spores that have already started to grow. Given the odds that mold could be a future problem, preventative treatment is a wise move. If the cause of your flooded basement isn’t obvious, and it’s a persistent problem, hiring an experienced pro to pinpoint the source is well worth it.


So, You Want to… Insulate a Garage Door

This project will keep your workshop comfy this winter—and all year round.

How to Insulate a Garage Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

As the weather cools, it’s the perfect time to gird your garage against the colder temperatures on the way, especially if you’ve got your home workshop in there. Metal garage doors block strong winds but do little to maintain a comfortable temperature. But if you’re not ready to plunk down upwards of a thousand dollars for a new, pre-insulated model, consider gearing up the garage door you’ve got. We’ve assembled all the info you need to understand how to insulate a garage door successfully, plus tips to help you get maximum benefit out of the project.

What Can I Expect from Insulating My Garage Door?
Adding insulation to the door’s interior channels can help keep your garage an average of 10 to 12 degrees warmer in winter and as much as 20 degrees cooler in summer. Insulation also reduces noise transfer, so not only will you avoid hearing street traffic when in your workshop, you’ll spare your neighbors the sounds of your son’s rock band practice.

Benefits of a Garage Door Insulating Kit
The simplest way to insulate a garage door is with a kit containing either vinyl- or foil-faced batts or foil-faced rigid foam boards. Kits start around $50, and as they increase in price often offer a more complete set of supplies—adhesive, tape, a utility knife, gloves, and perhaps even a dust mask—than just the insulating materials. The prime benefit of a kit, however, is its specially designed retainer pins. Made of lightweight plastic or metal, the pins have plates attached that adhere to the back of the garage door channels to help anchor rigid foam or batts in place. This stabilizes the insulation, so it won’t fall on your car when the door is open. If you opt against a kit, you can use other methods to hold the insulation in place.

Purchase the Right Rigid Foam Insulation
Skipping the kit? Most DIY-ers opt for foil-faced rigid foam board panels that you measure and cut with a sharp utility knife or table saw to fit the channels inside your garage door.

How to Insulate a Garage Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

• The main types of foam board are expanded polystyrene (EPS), extruded polystyrene (XPS), and polyisocyanurate (called “polyiso” or simply “iso”). Any of these are acceptable for garage door insulation as long as they are foil-faced and fire-rated. Do not use non-faced foam board, which is flammable and will produce dangerous fumes if it burns; in fact, using it might very well violate your local building codes.

• Choose foam board slightly thinner than the thickness of you door’s interior channel enclosures. For example, a standard garage door channel is about 1-¾ inches deep, so you would want to cut pieces from a 1-½-inch thick foam board.

• Although they can vary, most garage door channels have “lips” that hold the boards in the channels, but rigid foam boards can still rattle around a bit if they don’t fit snugly. A bit of foam-safe adhesive, applied to the back of the garage door channel before inserting a board, will help hold it in place. You can use expanding foam to seal gaps around the sides if necessary, but a little goes a long way. Check the label of any adhesive and expanding foam spray to ensure compatibility with the foam board you’re using—some adhesive will melt foam board.

Working with Batt Insulation
While standard batt insulation is readily available—you might even have an extra roll laying around—and it’s often slightly cheaper than foam board, it’s probably not the best choice for garage door insulation if you’re not using a kit. The thinnest standard batt, at 3-½ inches thick, is too thick for most garage door channels, and compressing the batts greatly reduces their ability to insulate a garage door. If you’re set on batt insulation, find thinner, 1-½-inch thick foil-faced batting—the kind used for wrapping HVAC ducts at plumbing supply stores or order it online (do-it-yourself centers don’t often carry it). To hold the batts in place, you’ll also need to use the correct adhesive and tape recommended by the batting manufacturer.

Maximizing Your Insulation Project
To make the most of your garage door insulation project, replace the rubber sweep on the bottom of the door. Also install weather stripping around the sides of the garage door to prevent icy drafts from blowing in. And while insulating the doors is a great first step, you’ll enjoy more heat-retention if the rest of your garage is insulated as well—heat can still escape through a non-insulated roof or sidewalls. But whatever steps you take before Old Man Winter comes calling will keep you toastier inside your workshop. But we warn you: You’ll have no excuses not get things done in there!


Your Guide to Reviving a Tired Garage Floor

Make your garage flooring look good as new again with one of four easy, do-it-yourself strategies.

Concrete Floor Repair in the Garage

Photo: istockphoto.com

As one of the strongest, most durable, and longest-lasting construction materials, it’s no wonder why concrete is the most popular flooring choice for garages across the country. Still, despite its ability to hold up under adverse weather conditions and even the heaviest vehicles, all of that constant tire and foot traffic does take a toll over time. Gradually, the heavy use detracts from the garage floor’s appearance—and, worse yet, causes the sort of vulnerabilities that can jeopardize the structural integrity of the slab. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for any worn-out garage floor. Keep reading, and you can adequately equip yourself with the right products and tools for rescuing your flooring from old age.

 

Concrete Floor Repair - Cleaning with a Pressure Washer

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wash Away Years of Wear
Ground-in dirt and oil stains build up in the garage can mask an otherwise perfectly good floor. In these cases, a little elbow grease and some common cleansers may go a long way towards revitalizing the concrete’s overall appearance.

First, remove stubborn oil and grease stains. Fresh spills can be soaked up with granulated cat litter and swept up with a stiff brush. Older stains respond well to a good scrubbing with a number of household remedies: paste made from either powdered laundry detergent or baking soda and water; grease-cutting dish detergents; hydrogen peroxide; or full-strength bleach. Rust stains and excessive smears of dried mortar and grout will require a more powerful solvent called muriatic acid. Proceed with extreme caution if you work with this last solvent—protective clothing, plenty of ventilation, and careful dilution according to the manufacturer’s directions are all must-dos.

Once you’ve treated individual spots, you can use a pressure washer and biodegradable detergent (or even simply a stiff scrub brush, a bucket filled with warm soapy water, and elbow grease) to remove lingering mold, mildew, ground-in dirt, and paint drips from the entire surface. Mold, mildew, and algae stains as well as mortar or grout discoloration might require treatment with solvents, including TSP (trisodium phosphate). Then apply a clear, water-repellent concrete sealer over the newly-clean surface to help prevent future dirt, grease, and grime buildup.

 

Concrete Floor Repair - Resurfacing with NewCrete

Photo: ctscement.com

Start Fresh with a Resurfacing
Wear from vehicles, foot traffic, and the elements can turn into spider web–like “craze” cracking, flaking, or spalling, when the top layer of the concrete breaks off and exposes the patchy and pitted aggregate underneath. Luckily, any of these issues can be strictly cosmetic, as long as they are tended to soon after discovery. Ignore the early stages of spalling, however, and it could spread enough to compromise the integrity of the surface beyond repair.

A high-quality, professional resurfacing product like NewCrete Concrete Resurfacer from CTS Cement | Rapid Set addresses all of these imperfections in a single go. The cutting-edge product is self-curing, requiring no additional primers or products to finish the job after you coat your concrete floors. Best of all? Your garage won’t have to be “off-limits” for too long; Rapid Set NewCrete is ready for foot traffic after only two to three hours.

To apply, simply mix the product with water according to the ratio specified on the packaging, stirring for two or three minutes until it reaches a lump-free consistency. Like other resurfacers, NewCrete remains spreadable for about 30 minutes after a batch is mixed, so how much you prep—and the square footage you cover—at once will depend on how much you can do within that time. It’s best to work on one section at a time, especially if you’re resurfacing a large area. Wet the old concrete with clean water and make sure there is no standing water before applying the NewCrete mixture to prefill any minor cracks or holes. Once you’ve addressed these, spread the rest of your resurfacing product on in an even, thin layer up to 1/8-inch thick. Thanks to the product’s speedy curing, you’ll have a flawless finish that you can walk across as soon as 60 minutes after you complete the last section.

 

Concrete Floor Repair - Level Low Paints with Concrete Leveler

Photo: ctscement.com

Level Out Any Low Points
Many garage floors see dips, depressions, or hollows caused by settling or by moisture intrusion. To reverse these imperfections before they cause deeper structural problems, you will need to smooth out the surface using a premium product such as Concrete Leveler. This easy-to-use material is designed to spread across uneven concrete, filling in low spots and creating a new, level surface in the process.

For best results, first prepare the surface of the existing concrete by applying Concrete Leveler Primer to prevent pinholes and bubbles in the leveling layer. Then, mix enough Concrete Leveler with water to cover the entire surface of the garage floor while filling in the depression. (At half-inch thickness, a 50-pound bag of Concrete Leveler will sufficiently cover 12 to 15 square feet. For a quarter-inch-thick application, the same size bag would cover between 24 and 30 square feet.) Apply the Concrete Leveler compound across the concrete surface, getting all the way into the corners and along the edges using a long-handled squeegee, and allow gravity to do the rest of the leveling. Within four hours, a smooth, level surface will have formed, strong enough to be walked upon; after 24 hours, you can even roll the car back in.

 

Concrete Floor Repair - Fill in Cracks with Cement All

Photo: ctscement.com

Fill In the Cracks
Sometimes even the most solid concrete floors can develop structural damages—crumbling, chipping, or deep cracks—as a result of something as simple as freezing and thawing in the changing seasons. To remedy these issues before they get worse, turn to a professional-grade product: Rapid Set Cement All. This high-quality, fast-setting material offers superior adhesion to pre-existing, damaged concrete, making minor concrete repairs an easy do-it-yourself project and eliminating the need for a full-on floor replacement.

Thoroughly clean the area to be repaired, removing any crumbling concrete. Saturate the surface, then mix the necessary amount of Cement All (ideally with a power-driven mechanical mixer) for one to three minutes until it’s reached a smooth, peanut-butter consistency. Apply the resulting compound to the damaged area, packing it to the desired level, and smooth the concrete with a trowel or broom. Once the surface loses it moist sheen, you can finish by water-curing for at least an hour.

Not only will you have restored your garage floor to its former glory with assistance from any of these CTS Cement | Rapid Set products, but you will have made it even better! When repairing structural damage with Cement All, you’re implementing an aid that rates as three times stronger than most concrete, ensuring that your garage floor will continue to stand up to traffic and weather for years to come.

 

This post has been brought to you by CTS Cement | Rapid Set. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing a New Garage Door

Before you start shopping for a new garage door, learn what you should be looking for and get a sense of the vast possibilities this popular home improvement offers.

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How to Choose a Garage Door

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Americans love cars. For evidence, look no further than the design of the average postwar home. The garage often claims front-and-center position on the facade, making it as convenient as possible for drivers to come and go. Though the garage itself is usually a markedly utilitarian space, the garage door, because of its prominent placement, plays a big role in defining the outward appearance of your home. If, after years of hard use, your garage door is looking the worse for wear—or if it was never particularly attractive in the first place—replacing the old door gives you a huge opportunity to transform your home’s exterior and boost curb appeal, even as you enjoy a suite of performance improvements. There’s only one catch: With so many garage doors on the market today, it can be difficult to choose just one, particularly if you’ve never before shopped for a new door. Don’t know where to begin? These guidelines can help you narrow your search to a door design that fits your needs and suits your preferences perfectly.

DO select the right style. 
If a worn-out garage door can leave a first-time visitor with a bad impression of your home, the opposite must hold true as well. Upgrading your garage door will enhance the visual appeal not only of the garage, but of the entire exterior. Here’s the key: Select a door style that complements your house. For instance, if you live in a Craftsman bungalow—distinguished by deeply overhanging eaves, extensive woodwork, and divided-light windows, look for a garage door that features the same hallmark characteristics. Meanwhile, if you live in a clean-lined modern home, concentrate on simple garage door designs with limited detailing, which will reinforce the streamlined appeal of the architecture. Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb and calling attention to itself, a successful selection looks right at home on the exterior. Garage door manufacturers offer no shortage of options, or if you have a specific vision, you can even design a custom door to your exact specifications.

DON’T forget insulation.
Many homeowners use the garage as their primary entrance. If you’re one of them, consider an insulated garage door. For one thing, insulation ensures greater comfort in the garage. In fact, on a cold day, a well-insulated door can keep the garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer, according to a study by conducted by residential garage door manufacturer Clopay. It’s not all about comfort, though. There are savings at stake, too, because as the largest opening in the home, the garage door can affect your home’s overall energy efficiency. In a home with conditioned living spaces next to and above the garage, a poorly sealed, uninsulated garage door can make the home’s climate-control system work harder (and consume more energy) to maintain the target temperature. By minimizing drafts and thermal energy transfer, an insulated garage door can help lower monthly utility bills. That said, much depends on the quality of the insulation. To understand the insulating capacity of a garage door, consult its listed R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the door’s performance.

How to Choose a Garage Door - Double Doors

Photo: clopaydoor.com

DO choose a practical door type.
Different types of garage doors operate in different ways. Traditional swinging doors open outward from a central split, while others slide right to left like the entrance to an old barn. Far and away, one type surpasses the others in terms of popularity— overhead sectional doors. There are a couple of reasons why homeowners favor the convenience of an overhead sectional design. For one, in contrast to swing-style doors, which require ample clearance, sectional doors roll up and down on mounted tracks. And, overhead sectional doors are easy to pair with an automatic garage door opener. That’s not to say you can’t automate other types of garage doors, but doing so typically entails greater cost. You can get the best of worlds. Many garage door companies offer models that look like old-fashioned carriage house doors but operate with modern overhead convenience.

DON’T ignore care requirements. 
As a hardworking component of today’s home, the garage door must be maintained properly in order to look and perform its best. Certain construction materials require more care than others. For instance, while there’s no denying the beauty of natural wood, some homeowners avoid it because it requires periodic refinishing. Other materials offer the look of wood with considerably less upkeep. Composite—a combination of wood fibers and synthetic resins—emulates the look of wood but provides superior durability, and won’t rot, warp or crack. Steel is a great option no matter where you live. But if you’re near the coast, you’ll need to wax your door like you would a car to prevent surface rust. The best advice: Understand the upkeep requirements of any door on your radar, and don’t commit to purchase one that you’re unable or unwilling to take care of.

How to Choose a Garage Door - Stained Wood

Photo: clopaydoor.com

DON’T underestimate severe storms.
Due to their large size, garage doors are especially vulnerable to high winds. In fact, if a tornado or hurricane manages to break through the garage door, the resulting surge in air pressure can produce destructive, if not devastating, consequences. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a windproof garage door. But in many areas prone to severe storms, the municipal government requires code-compliant doors that can withstand a minimum level of wind resistance. To determine whether any such regulations apply in your neck of the woods, consult with county officials or a local garage door dealer. Wind-rated garage doors cost more than non-reinforced models, but there’s no discernible difference in exterior appearance. The heavy-duty parts that lend extra strength—reinforced struts, for example, or upgraded springing—are all inside the garage, behind the door itself. In other words, there’s no need to sacrifice curb appeal for storm preparedness, or vice versa.

DO experiment with visualization tools.
At the start of your search, it’s a good idea to visit a dealer showroom to get a sense of how different door styles and construction materials actually look and feel. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few options, it can be helpful to experiment with an online visualization tool, like the Door Imagination System from Clopay. Here’s how it works: After uploading a photo of your home to the site, you can see how different garage door designs (and different combinations of windows, finishes, and hardware) would look on your home. Tools like this often make it easier to arrive at a final decision and add a bit of fun to the process.

 

From style to construction material, from the R-value of the insulation to the presence or absence of windows—a number of variables can affect the final cost of a garage door. Prices run the gamut from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand (not including installation). It’s important to point out, that garage door replacement is one project that can increase the value of your home. In fact, among the most commonly completed home improvements, upgrading the garage door ranks near the very top of the list in terms of cost effectiveness and return on investment. In its annual Cost vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine estimates that at resale, people recoup nearly the total sum invested in the project—91.5 percent, to be specific. It’s no wonder that for budget-savvy homeowners in pursuit of improved curb appeal, few projects are more exciting, more popular, or more rewarding. What are you waiting for?

How to Choose a Garage Door - Carriage Style Close-Up

Photo: clopaydoor.com

This article has been brought to you by Clopay. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The 3 Best Reasons to Upgrade Your Garage Door

If your garage door is bringing down the look of your entire facade, maybe it's time for a change—and what better place to start than with the high-quality doors and a generous new selection of styles, colors, and options from Clopay.

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Garage Door Replacement

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Every time you leave or return home, you can’t help but notice the garage door. But how often do you really look at it? If you’re like most, you rarely pause to consider the impact your garage door has on the appearance of your home. Indeed, ever since the rise of the automobile, the garage door has become the dominant feature of most home exteriors. Paint colors, architectural details, and landscaping all contribute to a home’s character, but make no mistake, curb appeal inevitably suffers if a garage door appears worn, out of date, or simply doesn’t complement the rest of the house. But this isn’t just about aesthetics. The right garage door can directly benefit a homeowner’s bottom line, both right away and over the long term, so a garage door should never be an afterthought. Instead, view a new garage door as an opportunity to give your home an instant facelift in a highly cost-effective way. If it’s been years since you shopped for a garage door, you may be pleasantly surprised by how much things have changed. Garage door manufacturers like Clopay now offer an astonishingly wide range of durable, low-maintenance materials and styles, with all the options you need to customize a door that will suit your home perfectly.

 

1. CURB APPEAL

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Curb Appeal

Photo: clopaydoor.com

When viewed from the street, the garage door can account for as much as 40 percent of a home’s facade. Because it’s so prominent, the garage door can make or break a visitor’s first impression. If your battered old door has seen better days—or if it never really matched your home in the first place—then it may be sending the wrong message about you, your style, and your priorities as a homeowner. By upgrading to a new garage door that perfectly captures your design vision, you can instantly transform your home’s curb appeal. As simple as that sounds, there are a lot of factors to consider. With its online Door Imagination System, Clopay makes selecting the perfect door not only easy, but actually fun. After you upload a photo of your home, you can experiment with different combinations of garage door designs, finishes, and hardware, so you can see exactly how each would look installed on your house. From timeless carriage house style doors to sleek and streamlined contemporary models, Clopay provides plenty of options. Because when it comes to curb appeal, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

2. ENERGY SAVINGS

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Energy Efficiency

Photo: clopaydoor.com

In a busy household, the garage door gets opened and closed so frequently that temperatures inside the garage go up and down like a rollercoaster. That isn’t such a big deal in a stand-alone, rarely used garage. It’s a much different story, though, when the garage is attached to the house, or if your garage doubles as a workshop, laundry, or utility room. Here, the temperature matters, not only for your comfort, but also for your energy bills. After all, temperatures in the garage can affect those of adjacent living areas. Check your next utility bill. If it’s sky-high, your garage door may be at least partially to blame. Fortunately, there’s a simple, cost-effective solution—garage door insulation. An insulated garage door ensures substantially more stable temperature levels. In fact, on a cold winter’s day, an insulated door keeps the garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise, according to a study by Clopay engineers. If you’re hoping to raise the energy efficiency of your garage and your home, be sure to double-check the insulating properties of any door you’re considering. Another reason to opt for a door from Clopay: The company gives you the freedom to choose the type of garage door insulation best suited to your needs—polystyrene or foamed-in-place polyurethane (ideal for regions with cold winters and hot summers). No matter which you choose, you can count on greater comfort and savings with an insulated garage door.

 

3. RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Return on Investment

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Everyone knows that home improvement adds value, but from a return-on-investment point of view, a handful of projects are known to pay you back when it’s time to sell. It may surprise you to learn that out of all the most commonly completed home remodeling projects, garage door replacement ranks near the very top of the list in terms of cost-effectiveness. In its annual Cost Vs. Value Report, Remodeling magazine reports that at resale the average homeowner recoups 91.5% of the amount spent on a garage door upgrade. Of course, maintenance goes a long way to safeguard your return. All garage doors require annual maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Take note, though: Not every garage door on the market is built to last, and some require ongoing finish upkeep to retain their beauty through the years. Look for insulated models constructed in durable, low-maintenance steel or composite, so you can enjoy all the benefits of your new garage door without any hassle.

 

Gone are the days when homeowners expected garage doors to do nothing more than open and close. Today, we insist on eye-catching designs that complement the colors and architectural style of our homes. At the same time, savvy homeowners know that the garage door can maximize comfort and energy efficiency. Finally, more and more homeowners look to garage door replacement as a reliable means of boosting home resale value. Times have changed, and in the modern home, garage doors play a central role, both aesthetically and practically. Let Clopay, with its history of service and commitment to American-made products and design innovation, help you transform the look of your home by giving you the tools and the confidence you need to take the next step.

Garage Door Replacement - Clopay Closer

Photo: clopay.com

This article has been brought to you by Clopay. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


So, You Want to… Build a Carport

If you're looking to build an inexpensive shelter for your vehicle, a carport can be a great alternative to a costlier, more ambitious garage. But erecting a carport involves more than just slapping a kit together. Read on for just a few issues you should consider before you decide to put a carport on your property.

Building a Carport - Palram Carport Kit from Wayfair

Photo: wayfair.com

Need a place to park that fancy new speedboat? A carport may be just the ticket! While it’s not quite a garage, a carport does a decent job of protecting cars, recreational vehicles, or anything else you might want to shield from the weather. Some homeowners even use them as covered patios. If you’re thinking about building a carport, you’ve probably already looked at dozens of different building options and styles from specialty manufacturers. Still, there are plenty of considerations you need to weigh before you buy a DIY carport kit or hire a contractor. Here, we’ve put together a few of the basics to help you with the planning process.

PULL THOSE PERMITS!
In today’s regulated world, if you want to build anything larger than a doghouse, you will probably have to pull a permit—and a carport is no exception. Note that a carport can be enclosed on only two sides. If you enclose a third side, the structure becomes a garage, which makes it subject to different building codes.

Your local building authority will want to see the design plans of the carport you choose, and ordinances will determine where you can put it. Typically, you cannot construct a carport in any easement on the property or within a few feet of the property lines. Many communities have covenants that do not allow carports in front yards at all. If you live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you will need to clear your carport plans with them as well. HOA regulations may specify particular building materials, limit where you can put a carport, or regulate its size—or, the HOA may just turn you down cold. Legally, you have to abide by their rules.

MATERIALS MATTER
Carports are typically constructed of either metal or wood, and kits using either material can be readily purchased from do-it-yourself stores. Kits vary in quality and price; some run a few hundred dollars, while others top out at more than $10,000. Professional installation will increase the cost of your project considerably, but if you are unsure about your ability to assemble a complicated carport kit, it pays to hire a professional. You can also go for a custom-designed, stick-framed carport—an attractive option, particularly if you want your carport to match your house. Some homeowners choose to set a gravel base or concrete pad under the carport, which adds to the total cost of the project.

 

FIND OUT WHAT LIES BENEATH
If you’re familiar with construction, you know the importance of calling your local utility companies to come out and mark the location of their buried lines before you start digging holes for carport posts. The last thing you want is to hit a utility line and get stuck with an enormous repair bill. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to locate all the utilities on your property; just call DigSafe at 811. They will notify your local utility companies, which will then check the location of their lines and mark them so you know where it’s safe to dig.

SET A FIRM FOOTING
Carports do not require foundations, but they must be stable enough to keep from blowing over at the first breath of a breeze. The sturdiest method is to secure the support posts a minimum of 2 feet deep, in poured concrete. If you live in a windy area, or if you’re building a tall carport to house an RV, sink the posts 3 feet or deeper. An alternative method is to attach brackets to a concrete base to hold the support posts. This approach offers less lateral support, so additional lateral bracing and corner bracing will probably be required. Some lower-end carport kits rely on screw auger anchors to stabilize the structure, but this works well only if the carport is protected from wind.

A third structural option, if local building code allows, is to attach one side or the back of the carport to the house or to an existing garage. This arrangement increases stability but comes with additional building code regulations.

Building a Carport - Attached to the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

KNOW YOUR NEEDS
Before you select a final carport design, make sure it will meet your size and aesthetic requirements. The minimum functional size for a one-vehicle carport is 9 feet by 16 feet, but if you need to park anything larger than a midsize sedan, you will need more room. As for aesthetics, you’ll probably want the design and finish of your carport to complement your house. To keep it in sync with its surroundings, you can paint a wood carport to match your home and echo architectural details from your house, such as columns or shingles, to make it appear as if the carport was part of your home’s original design. This way, you’ll not only gain additional outdoor shelter for your vehicles (and outdoor gatherings), but some serious curb appeal, too!


So, You Want to… Waterproof Your Basement

Basement waterproofing can be a confusing (and expensive) process. But if you're dealing with leaky foundation walls or water welling up from the floor, finding an effective means of managing these problems could save you a lot in the long run. Here's a quick rundown of your options for keeping downstairs dry.

Basement Waterproofing - Leak

Photo: istockphoto.com

Unless your plan is to install a swimming pool in your basement, you probably cringe at the idea of water trickling in beneath your house. While the best time to waterproof is during new construction, if you live in an older structure, you don’t have that luxury. There are, however, a few measures you can take to protect your home from water, running the gamut from inexpensive safeguards to high-dollar professional remedies. Here’s all the information you need to choose the best solution for your basement.

Basement Waterproofing

Photo: istockphoto.com

EXTERIOR REMEDIES
The most effective way to waterproof a basement is from the outside. Doing so, however, involves excavating the soil away from the exterior of the foundation on all sides and installing drain tile (a flexible perforated pipe covered with mesh or fabric) at the base of the foundation.

You’ll most likely need a permit before starting, and some building authorities will allow only a licensed contractor to do the job. Digging a 7- or 8-foot-deep trench around your foundation is dangerous; it comes with a high risk of collapse, so it’s usually better to seek out an excavation contractor who employs safe digging techniques and trench bracing, anyway. Timing is essential: Schedule your contractor during a relatively dry season, or you could end up with a trench full of water that will have to be pumped out before work can continue.

Drain tile also requires the installation of a sump pit where the water will collect before it’s pumped to the surface via a sump pump. You can choose to have a sump pit installed inside, beneath the basement floor, or outside the house, typically below a window well.

While the drain tile is being installed, you or your contractor should take this time to repair, patch, and seal the exterior foundation walls. Patch large cracks with a mortar-based product, and when dry, roll, brush, or spray on an exterior masonry sealant. All said, this is an expensive project that can cost upwards of $10,000, but it’s the surest way to stop the leaks.

INTERIOR REMEDIES
Interior remedies can be helpful in the cases that leakage is minimal or if exterior excavation is out of the question. If you have fine cracks that seep slowly (or just look damp), your basement might be a good candidate for an interior sealant. Most interior masonry sealants work only on unpainted concrete walls—if your walls are painted, the sealant can’t form good contact and results are likely to be poor. Available in one- and five-gallon buckets, these sealants require a heavy-duty brush or roller to apply and can cost between $50 and $500 when treating 100 square feet of wall, depending on product quality and the number of coats that need to be applied.

If the walls have numerous or wide cracks, or if previous attempts to seal the walls were unsuccessful, you may want to consider installing an interior floor drain system. This process is similar to that of installing exterior drain tile, but excavation is shallow and confined to the inside perimeter of the basement floor. If you’re comfortable running a concrete saw and a jackhammer—and you have a strong back—you can potentially do this job yourself, although it’s labor-intensive and messy. Installation requires excavating a trench along the basement walls, filling it with pea gravel and perforated drain tile, installing a sump pit for water collection, and then filling in the trench with concrete so that a narrow grate is the only evidence that a drain lies beneath. Typically, plastic panels are installed over leaky walls to direct water downward to the grate. Installation of the trench drain, the sump pit, and the panels can run into thousands of dollars, but doing the labor yourself can save you a little cash.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
Even if you don’t need to fully waterproof your basement, you should at least take steps to protect your foundation from water. Install gutters and downspouts, and attach downspout extensions that direct rainfall away from your house. If your yard does not already slope away from the foundation at a minimum 2 percent grade, bring in topsoil to build up the level of the soil around the foundation. Relocate foundation plantings that require frequent watering, and install waterproof window well covers on any basement windows that can’t be used for egress.

Water that pools by the foundation is always problematic. If you have clay soil that swells when wet, it can exert lateral pressure on the exterior foundation walls, increasing the risk of cracking and shifting. Frost heave during freeze-thaw cycles can also damage the foundation. Remember: Water and basements don’t mix. If you’re proactive in keeping water away from your foundation, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your basement, and the rest of your home, safe, and dry.