Basement & Garage - Bob Vila

Category: Basement & Garage


The Secret to a Warmer, Drier, Faster Finished Basement

Stop! Put down the hammer. Before taking your basement-finishing project any further, consider that its comfort, efficiency, and longevity all depend on a suitable subfloor. Read on to learn why that's true, and why more and more homeowners are choosing AmDry, a one-of-a-kind solution from industry leader Amvic Building System.

Photo: Amvic Building System

This article has been brought to you by Amvic Building System, who provided BobVila.com with a complimentary product sample.

In an effort to carve out more living space—without spending a fortune—countless homeowners take on basement finishing projects each year. Some hire a contractor to handle the job from beginning to end. But others opt to do at least some of the work themselves so they can maximize the return on their remodeling dollar. Whether you call in the pros or do it yourself, finishing the basement typically pays off—if you do it right. In fact, experts estimate that when it’s time to sell, homeowners recoup much more than half the amount they’ve put into a basement finishing project. Still, the more of the project you’re able to DIY, the greater the benefit to your bottom line when you’re finally ready to move on.

Before you dive into a basement refinishing, though, bear in mind that the project comes with complications you don’t face when remodeling other rooms. Right from the earliest stages of the process, finishing the basement requires remodelers to manage a pair of tricky related issues—energy efficiency and moisture control. Don’t even lift a hammer until you’ve devised a strategy for dealing with these two challenges. Ignore them at your risk! Failure to address them on the front end could threaten the longevity of your project—and the resale value of your home. Almost as bad, after putting in all that money, time, and effort, you could wind up disappointed with the results.

Why does finishing the basement involve special considerations? It’s mainly because the space is below grade, which means that the concrete slab floor sits directly atop cool subterranean soil—a situation that causes the slab itself to cool several degrees. That may be a relief in summer, but in winter it forces the HVAC system to work harder, driving up the utility bill. In other words, you could end up with a finished basement you can’t afford to keep comfortable. Another source of problems: When the cool concrete slab meets the comparatively warm indoor air, condensation occurs, leaving the basement vulnerable to mold and mildew, if not wood rot and pest infestations.

Photo: Amvic Building System

To ensure your finished basement stays comfortable and dry, make a point to equip your space with the right subfloor—that is, a product specifically engineered to handle the rigors of a basement application. There are multiple options on the market, but if you’re a do-it-yourselfer in search of a solution that’s easy to install, look no further than AmDry from Amvic Building System. Each panel in the AmDry system consists of three components—oriented strand board (OSB), foam insulation, and moisture-resistant film. The combination of materials not only creates a thermal break between the slab and the living space, but also allows for inevitable slab surface moisture to evaporate or drain away.

In the AmDry system, the uppermost layer of OSB looks and behaves no differently than a standard subfloor. But in practice, AmDry goes well beyond serving as a level substrate on which to install the finished floor. For one thing, thanks to its insulation layer, AmDry isolates the cool concrete slab from the basement space, making climate control substantially more efficient and cost effective. In fact, with R-values ranging from R-5 to R-11, AmDry offers the highest insulating capacity of any subfloor product available today. By providing incremental energy savings from one day to the next, AmDry can save homeowners substantial sums over the long term.

That said, the AmDry wouldn’t do much good if it weren’t impervious to moisture. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a house whose basement never suffers minor foundation or appliance leaks, the space is still subject to the condensation that naturally forms on cool concrete slabs. That’s why AmDry comes with built-in protection: The underside of its panels features a moisture-, mildew-, and mold-resistant film. Thanks to this film, when moisture builds up beneath the panel, the subfloor doesn’t suffer any damage. As well, the underside of each AmDry panel includes drainage and ventilation channels that let excess moisture drain away or evaporate instead of pooling.

Photo: Amvic Building System

AmDry is appealing not only for its best-in-breed effectiveness, but also because it’s DIY-friendly. In fact, partly due to the generous dimensions of its panel, the AmDry system takes 40 percent less time and labor to install than the competing products. Measuring 24 inches wide by 48 inches long, each AmDry panel covers eight square feet of floor space—about twice the standard amount—leaving the installer with half as many joints to complete. As an added benefit: Larger panels not only make things easier on the installer, but they also make for a better quality installation because the surface integrity of a subfloor system generally improves in reverse correlation to the number of joints in its assembly.

When it comes to the ease and speed of the AmDry system, though, nothing matters more than its click-together convenience. Instead of nailing or gluing each panel, you simply join them together by means of flexible plastic connectors. It’s essentially a tongue-and-groove assembly, except here the connector serves as the tongue that fits into the grooves that are already cut along the perimeter of the panels. True tongue-and-groove flooring fails when either the male or female part chips, cracks, or crumbles—or when the two parts squeak against each other. AmDry’s unique connector, however, lets you sidestep those traditional subfloor pitfalls.

You don’t have to worry about the finished floor surface bucking or heaving, either, because AmDry connectors act as compression joints. That is, the OSB layer in each panel can expand or contract freely, without upsetting the installation. So, you’re free to cap off your basement finishing project by installing virtually any type of finished floor you like—carpet, hardwood, vinyl plank, ceramic, or stone tile—with confidence. No matter your choice of floor, the insulating, moisture-controlling AmDry system, available online at The Home Depot, works behind the scenes to ensure that your finished basement will be warm, dry, comfortable, and energy efficient, able to stand the test of time and reward you with a solid resale value after you’ve had many, many years to enjoy your finished space.

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


5 Curb Appeal Lessons from a Gorgeous Garage Makeover

Hit "refresh" on your facade with these 5 easy improvements that will transform your garage door and brighten up the rest of your home's exterior, too.

Garage Curb Appeal "Before" Picture

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Nothing sours a home’s first impression like a garage that’s seen better days. Fortunately, sprucing up that focal point can really amp up curb appeal. Even better, if you go the extra mile and replace a rickety, aging door with a new, smoothly functioning one, you’ll enhance your daily life in the process. Getting everything right may take a little planning, though, and you’ll need some ideas to get started. (For this Wisconsin home, it took three years to get all the details in place!) If you need some inspiration before you embark on a makeover project of your own, check out the before-and-after photos of this extremely successful project, and read the story—from the garage door experts at Clopay—that highlights the simple moves behind this impressive transformation. Steal the best ideas from these homeowners, and in no time at all you’ll be bursting with pride every time you pull up to your home.

 

Garage Curb Appeal "After" Picture

Photo: clopaydoor.com

Redo the Driveway
A turf driveway is virtually guaranteed to look patchy, brown, and shabby; worse yet, it can also lead to drainage problems. To have yours properly paved, solicit bids from a few reputable contractors, and be sure to check references before moving ahead. After removing the current driveway, the contractor will examine the existing base and, if necessary, grade appropriately for drainage. The contractor will then install and mechanically compact a base, subbase, and the asphalt to create a driveway that’s smooth, attractive, and long lasting.

Choose a New Door That’s Appropriate for the House
For old-world charm and modern convenience, these homeowners opted for a classic carriage-style door that operates with the ease of an overhead door—like this beauty from the Clopay Grand Harbor Collection. This particular door boasts more than just good looks: Its steel frame is protected with a paint job that’s just as tough (baked-on primer and top coat), so it will stand up to the elements and the rigors of daily use. Optional insulation can provide extra energy efficiency when you heat up the ol’ garage workshop during winter months.

If you’d like to see the difference a carriage-style—or any style!—door could make on your house, simply use Clopay’s nifty visualization tool. Upload a picture of your garage, and try on as many doors as you like. Once you select the perfect set, professional installation requires just one day, but experienced do-it-yourselfers who plan ahead can take on this project successfully. (It’s a two-person job, however, mainly because doors are heavy!) Clopay offers easy-to-wind torsion and extension spring systems, called EZ Set Springs, along with simple installation instructions for the DIYer. One caveat: If your existing door has a torsion spring, hire a pro to remove it.

Add a Pop of Color 
While these homeowners went with a traditional white for their new doors, when you replace a garage door, you can choose to make a statement with a bold shade or opt for something subtle. Use paint wherever you want to add excitement: on a side door, as these homeowners did, or on the trim around the garage door, or on the garage door itself. If paint isn’t your style, perhaps a natural stain and finish will provide the right refresh for your house.

Improve with Planters
Flowers and greenery make for a great facade. While these homeowners kept a bright, manicured strip of lawn alongside their driveway, they also perked things up with a few planters. Containers are an efficient and flexible choice, because they’re so easy to change. You can switch out plantings with the seasons or according to your whims. Place containers between or next to the garage doors, and fill them with easy-to-maintain foliage that suits the growing conditions of your region.

Dress It Up with Design Details
Simple touches can go a long way toward giving your home’s exterior a finished appearance. Replacing an old light fixture can let you skew the tone modern or romantic, depending on the style you choose. You can even add fixtures for better overall illumination, which will have the benefit of letting you feel safer when you pull up to the garage at night. Yet another idea creative DIYers may wish to borrow from this before-and-after: mounting a pergola on a pair of milled brackets in a style that echoes other exterior details, such as millwork on a porch or deck.

For this Wisconsin home, as the before-and-afters prove, five basic upgrades added up to a major transformation that really spiffed up a tired facade. Now it’s your turn! If you update your garage door with Clopay before the end of the year, you’ll be qualified to enter for a chance to win $1,000 in the Clopay imagineNATION Makeover Contest. If you’re still not quite ready to commit, or if you need a little inspiration before you make the leap, browse through a collection of exciting garage makeovers in the gallery of past contest winners for even more curb-appeal ideas.

One Garage's Curb Appeal Makeover

Photo: clopaydoor.com

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


Clopay In-Image Ad Test

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Photo: istockphoto.com

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Photo: istockphoto.com

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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.

 


Clopay Interactive Photo Test 1

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

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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.

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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.