How To’s & Quick Tips - 2/67 - Bob Vila

Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Clean Brick

Say goodbye to grime on brick walls, fireplaces, and pavers with these safe, effective cleaning techniques.

How to Clean Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

The naturally distressed patina of brick adds to its desirability indoors and out, but too much dirt accumulation can reduce the beautifully weathered blocks—not to mention the mortar between them—to unattractively mottled masonry. Whether an exposed brick wall in your kitchen is covered in grease or your brick exterior is a mess of moss, undo the dinge and discoloration with the natural or chemical formulas and techniques for how to clean brick shared here. You’ll have to prep the surface before going at the grime, but once you finish the task your brick will be restored to its former glory and you’ll once again be proud of the prominent place it has in your home.

CLEANING INTERIOR BRICK

In order to master how to clean brick, start with adequate surface preparation.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Newspaper or tarp
– Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
– Spray bottle filled with water

STEP 1
Take decorative accents off the walls and cover floors and furnishings in the vicinity with tarp or old newspaper to protect them from cleaning solvent splatter.

STEP 2
Remove loose dust and dirt from the brick surface using a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment.

STEP 3
Dry brick readily absorbs cleaning solvents, causing it to fade or become discolored with unsightly white or greenish scum. To avoid this, enlist a spray bottle filled with water to saturate the dry brick before applying any cleaners.

STEP 4
Next up, continue with one of the following two methods: scrubbing the brick with salt and dish soap or scouring stains with boric acid.

 

How to Clean Brick

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Denver, CO

METHOD 1: DISH SOAP AND SALT

The degreasing properties of dish soap, coupled with the abrasive qualities of salt, make for a powerful duo in combating stubborn dirt, grease, tar, and smoke stains on interior brick walls and fireplaces.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Bowl or bucket
– Dish soap
– Table salt
– Clean dry rags
– Natural or synthetic bristle brush

How to Clean Brick with Dish Soap

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
In a small bowl or bucket, combine a cup each of dish soap and salt to form a gritty but spreadable paste.

STEP 2
Use a clean dry rag to spread the paste in an even layer over a three-by-three-foot section of the brick surface. Then, working from the top to the bottom of the section, gently scrub the brick and mortar with a bristle brush. Steer clear of wire brushes, which can leave behind metal and rust the brick. Let the paste dwell on the brick for ten minutes.

STEP 3
Remove the paste from the brick section with a clean rag saturated with warm water.

STEP 4
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the remaining three-by-three foot sections of the brick surface.

STEP 5
Use a vacuum cleaner to siphon any lingering salt particles from the brick.

 

METHOD 2: BORIC ACID

The antifungal and antiseptic properties of boric acid help it expel stubborn stains that dish soap may leave behind.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Rubber gloves
– Safety glasses
– Boric acid powder (Borax or equivalent)
– Warm water
– Bucket
– Natural or synthetic bristle brush
– Clean dry rags

STEP 1
After donning rubber gloves and safety glasses, dilute a tablespoon of boric acid powder in a gallon of warm water in a large bucket.

STEP 2
Dip a brush into the boric acid solution, then work the saturated brush into a three-by-three-foot section of the brick surface, using vigorous circular motions to scrub both the bricks and the mortar.

STEP 3
Rinse away the boric acid solution from the brick section with a clean rag dipped in warm water.

STEP 4
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the remaining three-by-three foot sections of the brick surface.

 

CLEANING EXTERIOR BRICK

Here, too, start with a little surface preparation.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Newspaper or tarp
– Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
– Garden hose with spray nozzle

STEP 1
Check the weather forecast: The optimal temperature to clean brick is 50 degrees or higher, preferably in cloudy conditions when cleaning solvents are less susceptible to drying quickly and leaving residue stains.

STEP 2
If needed, use a tarp to mask nearby metal, wood, and glass surfaces and cover lighting fixtures, windows, and plants near the brick to protect them from cleaning solvents.

STEP 3
Spray the dry brick down thoroughly with water from the garden hose.

STEP 4
When the brick dries, continue with one of the two following exterior solutions: bleach or muriatic acid.

 

How to Clean Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

METHOD 1: BLEACH

Unsightly mold, mildew, and moss on exterior brick walls and pavers are no match for the stain-fighting and brightening properties of chlorine bleach.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Rubber gloves
– Household bleach
– Warm water
– Bucket
– Soft sponge
– Natural or synthetic brush
– Garden hose with spray nozzle

STEP 1
While wearing rubber gloves, combine a tablespoon of bleach with a gallon of warm water in a large bucket. NOTE: Never use ammonia-based cleaning products in conjunction with bleach, as the combination can unleash toxic fumes into the area.

STEP 2
Apply the bleach solution with a sponge to a three-by-three-foot section of the brick. Then, enlist a bristle brush to scrub both the brick and mortar from the top down. If at any time the bleach solution begins to dry on the brick, spray a small amount of water over the brick with a hose to keep it moist and hasten the scrubbing process.

STEP 3
Hose down the brick section with water to rinse away the bleach solution.

STEP 4
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the remaining three-by-three foot sections of the brick surface.

 

METHOD 2: MURIATIC ACID

When it comes to muriatic acid, an industrial-strength solvent, a little goes a long way to obliterate rust, soil, and mortar stains.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Rubber gloves
– Safety glasses
– Respirator
– Bucket
– Muriatic acid
– Warm water
– Bucket
– Natural or synthetic brush
– Garden hose with spray nozzle

How to Clean Brick

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Wearing rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator, fill a large bucket with a gallon of warm water, then add one-and-a-half cups of muriatic acid.

NOTE: Always pour acid into water, not the reverse, to reduce the potency of fumes and prevent acid from splashing upwards onto you.

STEP 2
Dip a brush into the acid, then work the solution into a three-by-three-foot section of the brick surface using a bristle brush and a gentle scrubbing action.

STEP 3
Let the acid dwell on the brick for a few minutes, then rinse it off completely with a hose and plain water.

STEP 4
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the remaining three-by-three foot sections of the brick surface.
Now that your brick surfaces are spic-and-span again, keep them that way by lightly spraying or hosing them down with water at least once a year, and following these cleaning techniques when they start to show signs of age.

Now that your brick surfaces are spic-and-span again, keep them that way by lightly spraying or hosing them down with water at least once a year, and following these cleaning techniques when they start to show signs of age.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

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


How To: Wash a Sleeping Bag

Trust your down or synthetic summertime slumber essential to this comprehensive cleaning routine.

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How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Photo: istockphoto.com

Your sleeping bag is your bed away from bed during warm weather, whether during full-on camping or nights of backyard stargazing. But, set up outdoors, this essential summer accessory is bound to accumulate dirt, stains, and odors, on both the rugged outer shell and the delicate inner lining. Cleaning a down or synthetic sleeping bag must be done with care to avoid bleach, fabric softeners, and dry-cleaning fluid that could cause discoloration and damage. After you wrap up your next night outdoors and need to figure out how to wash a sleeping bag, this guide offers easy techniques to restore a downright dingy sleep sack to like-new condition. If your sleeping bag only has a few minor marks or stains, banish them with the spot treatment that follows; if the bag has large or multiple stains or doesn’t smell daisy fresh, proceed to more comprehensive hand- or machine-washing. Then snuggle in, zip up, and sleep like a baby!

SPOT TREATMENT

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Bowl
– Teaspoon
Non-detergent soap (such as castile)
– Water
– Toothbrush or small terrycloth towel

STEP 1
Check the outer shell and inner lining for stains, paying close attention to the top of the bag where the neckline meets the lining—the area most prone to stains from exposure to oils from skin and hair. If the stain is on the inner lining, unzip the bag partially or fully to expose the stain before spot-treating.

STEP 2
In a small bowl, combine a teaspoon of non-detergent liquid soap, such as castile soap, with a quarter teaspoon of warm water to form a thin, runny paste.

STEP 3
Dip a clean toothbrush or terrycloth towel into the paste, then scrub it over only the stain using a gentle circular motion. Repeat until the stain has faded, then wipe the soap from the scrubbed spot with a clean, damp cloth.

STEP 4
Lay the bag flat, with the damp side facing up, on a clean outdoor surface that receives at least partial sunlight to dry. In inclement weather, air-dry the bag indoors by laying it flat (with the spot-treated side facing up) across two adjoined coat racks. Air-dry the bag completely before zipping it and storing it indoors.

 

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Photo: istockphoto.com

HAND WASHING AND DRYING

Plan to hand-wash and dry your sleeping bag early on a warm, sunny day to speed up the drying time.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
Non-detergent soap (such as castile), down soap, or tech wash (such as Nikwax)

STEP 1
Fill a clean bathtub halfway with either warm or cold tap water. Pour a half-cup of liquid soap into the tub (if using a specially formulated down soap for down sleeping bags or a tech wash for synthetic sleeping bags, use the manufacturer-recommended amount). Waft the soap through the water with a clean hand to distribute well.

STEP 2
Unzip the sleeping bag completely, then submerge it as flatly as possible in the tub. Starting at one end of the bag, use both hands to gently knead the soapy water into both the outer shell and inner lining of the bag until you reach the other end. Spend extra time kneading any areas of the bag with visible, prominent stains.

STEP 3
Let the sleeping bag soak for one hour. Then drain the tub with the bag still in place.

STEP 4
Refill the tub with warm or cold water. Use your hands to knead out any residual soap from the bag. Then, drain the tub again. Repeat until the water in the tub runs clear and the sleeping bag is free of soap. Then, use your hands to gently squeeze out as much water as possible from the bag.

STEP 5
With the sleeping bag still in the tub, fold the bag in half and roll it up from end to end. Then reach both arms under the bag to remove it from the tub and take it outside. Unfurl and unfold the sleeping bag and lay it flat with the outer shell side facing up (this waterproof side usually takes longer to dry) on a clean outdoor surface (such as a patio table) that receives at least partial sunlight. Turn the bag over several times during the drying process. Let the bag air-dry completely before zipping it and storing it indoors.

 

MACHINE WASHING AND DRYING

The best machine for washing a sleeping bag is a large, front-loading model. While a top-loading machine can be used, steer clear of those with an agitator located in the center of the wash drum. This spindle with vanes could tear the delicate lining or expose the insulation of your sleeping bag.

How to Wash a Sleeping Bag

Photo: istockphoto.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
Non-detergent soap (such as castile), down soap, or tech wash (such as Nikwax)
– Tennis balls (optional)

STEP 1
Zip up your sleeping bag and turn it inside out so that the inner lining faces up. Because the outer shell of sleeping bags is often waterproof, it can prevent trapped water from escaping during the spin cycle; the ultra-permeable inner lining will encourage water to be drawn out during the spin cycle, expediting drying time.

STEP 2
Load the sleeping bag, by itself with no other laundry, into the drum of the washer and pour a half-cup of any liquid, non-detergent soap into the detergent basin. If you prefer to use a specially formulated cleaner, opt for down soap for down sleeping bags, or tech wash for synthetic sleeping bags, in the manufacturer-recommended amount.

STEP 3
Run the machine on a gentle cycle using either the warm or cold water setting. After the cycle is complete, if the sleeping bag is still sopping wet, run an extra spin cycle to wring out excess water.

STEP 4
Remove the damp sleeping bag from the washing machine and turn it inside out again. Transfer the bag to the drum of a large dryer (preferably front-loading), then run the dryer on low heat. A low temperature is especially important for synthetic sleeping bags, whose synthetic insulation can melt under high heat. If you’re drying a down sleeping bag, toss two tennis balls into the dryer drum near the end of the cycle to get rid of clumps and distribute the down evenly. When completely dry, store the sleeping bag indoors before its next use.

Tip: Reduce the need for frequent washings using a detachable sleeping bag liner. This will help prevent stains and odors from forming and ultimately prolong the life of the bag.

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

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


Renew a Wood Fence in Just 3 Steps

Say goodbye to flaking, peeling paint and hello to a fresh, like-new fence when you follow these three steps for a professional-grade makeover.

Repair an Old Painted Fence in 3 Steps

Photo: istockphoto.com

Do you have a flaking eyesore of a fence that plagues the perimeter of your property? While there are no shortcuts to a quality prep job, using the right tools and techniques greatly reduces the time it takes to get the work done. In just a weekend, you can refresh your weather-worn fence armed with little more than a sturdy scraper, a multitalented 5-in-1 tool, and your painting essentials.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– HYDE X2 Dual Blade Carbide Scraper
– Extension pole
– Wood nails or screws (optional)
– Replacement wooden pickets (optional)
– HYDE’s Black & Silver® 5-in-1 Multi-Tool
– Handheld random orbital sander (optional)
– 120-grit sandpaper (optional)
– Exterior primer with a blocking agent
– Exterior alkyd or acrylic paint with UV protectants and mildewcide
– HYDE’s Painter’s Assistant
– Paint tray
– Paintbrush
– One- and two-quart containers (optional)
– Narrow roller with an extension handle
– Drop cloths

 

Remove Flaking Paint from Fence with Hyde's x2 Dual Carbide Scraper

Photo: hydetools.com

Step 1: Remove Loose Paint
Do not ignore the cardinal rule of repainting anything: Never paint over peeling paint. Eventually, the loosened paint beneath will start flaking off again, potentially taking the new coat of paint—and all your hard work—with it. Make sure you don’t end up with a slapdash-looking finished product; instead, scrape off all the loose paint at the get-go.

A wide scraper works great on the flat surfaces of a fence picket, but the blade is too large to remove peeling paint from small gaps between boards, rails, and posts. You could choose to weigh your pockets down with a variety of scrapers—and waste time switching between them—but it’s so much easier to just grab the HYDE X2 Dual Blade Carbide Scraper. Its dual blade can be quickly switched from a 2½-inch-wide blade to a 7/8-inch-wide blade that’s great for reaching into tight spots. You simply rotate the triangular blade as needed.

Work with care, especially if you’re scraping older, weathered wood, which is easy to gouge. Hold the scraper against the surface of the wood with the blade at a 20- to 25-degree angle, then slip the scraper blade underneath the loose paint, being careful not to catch on the wood and dig out a chunk. It takes some practice, but remember: You’re trying to remove only the flakes and not the stuck-on paint.

Can’t quite reach the top of a high fence picket? Grab a standard extension pole and connect it to the X2’s Acme-threaded handle so you can scrape high spots while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. And with the X2, you won’t have to slow down too much to deal with popped nails, which can quickly wear out and damage a carbide blade. When you’re armed with the X2, there’s no need to go running for a hammer when you come across a popped nail. Simply flip the scraper and use its hammerhead end cap to reset the nail—and get back to scraping—in mere moments.

 

Fill Nail Holes in Fence with Hyde's Black & Silver 5-in-1 Tool

Photo: hydetools.com

Step 2: Prep and Repair
Once you’ve thoroughly scraped away the loose paint, it’s time to examine the fence and make repairs. Inspect every picket to confirm that they’re all firmly attached to the fence rails. Secure loose boards with additional nails or screws as necessary. Also check the boards for signs of wood rot, especially wherever fence posts come into contact with the ground (though this deterioration can also occasionally be found on exposed posts and pickets). Note: Fresh paint will not stick to rot, so you’ll need to remove and replace any rotted fence parts as well as those warped beyond repair.

Narrow splits in the wood and visible nail holes can be fixed with a little paintable latex wood filler. First, use the sharp point on HYDE’s Black & Silver® 5-in-1 Multi-Tool to scrape splinters and loose debris out of the gaps, because here, too, loose material can protrude and even fall out over time, taking your paint with it. Then, turn the multi-tool so you can use the flat front end of the blade to scoop up wood putty and patch any holes in the fence. Its 2½-inch-wide blade perfectly levels out putty over splits and holes.

After you’ve finished these simple steps, rough-grain fences, such as cedar, should be ready to paint. If, however, you’re prepping to paint an ornamental fence with a very smooth surface, sand the pickets with 120-grit sandpaper for a more finished look. A handheld random orbital sander can speed this task along.

 

Renew a Picket Fence with Fresh Paint

Photo: istockphoto.com

Step 3: Prime and Paint
Gather all the materials and supplies you’ll need before you start to paint: cans of primer and paint, a narrow roller with an extension handle, a paint tray, a paintbrush, drop cloths, and HYDE’s Painter’s Assistant. Use the rigid bottom end of the Painter’s Assistant to slip around the paint can and pop off its lid, then clip it to your roller tray; the magnet will firmly hold your paintbrush without letting it sink into the paint until you’re ready to dip it again.

Before you even take out the paint, though, cover the entire fence with a quality exterior primer that contains a blocking agent to keep the excess oil in wood knots from bleeding through your paint job. Start at one end of the fence and work your way to the other, painting each post and picket from the top down. (The Painter’s Assistant is ideal for these sorts of jobs, because it snaps to one- and two-quart containers to create a handle for easy carrying as you travel down the length of your fence.) While most wood fences can be painted by brush, you can speed up the process by working primarily with a narrow roller. Use its narrow width to coat individual pickets, then back-brush to work the primer into the grain and between boards. Though primer may dry quickly outside, follow the instructions on the can to be certain that you’ve allowed enough time before moving on.

When the primer coat is ready, bring on the paint—preferably an exterior alkyd or acrylic paint that contains UV protectants and mildewcide. Do check that the paint is compatible with the primer. If you’re unsure, ask at the paint store. When you’ve invested this much time in your fence, you won’t want to cut corners by selecting a bargain brand that may not withstand temperature, moisture, and the harsh rays of the sun as well as a higher-quality paint will. Some exterior paints are designed to cover fully with only one coat, so whether your paint job will take one coat or two to cover completely may depend on the product you choose. Apply the paint as you did the primer, working from the top down on posts and pickets so you can catch any runs as you go.

When it’s a wrap, grab your Painter’s Assistant to make short work of cleanup. The tool’s curved shape fits right over your paint roller cover and allows you to squeeze excess paint directly into the paint can. There are no wasted materials—or time—with this hardworking multi-tool, which means you’ll soon be lounging in your yard and enjoying the sunset after one highly productive weekend.

 

This content has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Right Way to Seal Concrete

After you complete a concrete job, don't neglect the single most important step to ensure that it lasts a lifetime: sealing. With a high-quality sealant—and this helpful guide—you can waterproof and protect your new concrete surfaces for years to come.

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How to Seal Concrete with Quikrete Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer

Photo: quikrete.com

Concrete is one of the most popular construction materials around, and for good reason: It’s affordable, structurally sound, and versatile enough to use for everything from garage floors and retaining walls to kitchen countertops and decorative objects. While sturdy and durable on its own, it does require some protection, such as a silicone-based surface sealant like Quikrete’s Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer, to waterproof the surface and keep it looking freshly poured. Without this important finish to any concrete project, all your hard work will be much more susceptible to damage. Moisture and temperature fluctuations can cause cracks to develop in exterior concrete over time, while everyday wear and tear can stain and scratch interior concrete. Fortunately, an easy, early-on application will go a long way toward safeguarding concrete from these stresses. Keep reading to learn how to seal concrete with quality products so you can rest easy that your finished project will keep on looking fresh for years to come.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Chemical-proof gloves
– Protective eyewear
Quikrete’s Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer
– Brush
– Roller
– Garden sprayer
– Food-safe wax
Quikrete’s Polyurethane Self-Leveling Sealant
– Stiff-bristle brush
Quikrete’s Concrete and Asphalt Cleaner
Quikrete’s Backer Rods
– Caulking gun
– Painter’s tape
Quikrete’s Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant
– Hammer
– Chisel
– Shop vacuum
– Utility knife
– Small trowel

Before You Start, Stay Safe!
When applying any type of concrete sealer or sealant, follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Wear chemical-proof gloves and protective eyewear. Good ventilation is essential, so if you’re using a sealer indoors, open the windows. Many sealants are irritants, so avoid getting them on your skin.

How to Seal Concrete and Protect Your DIY Walkway

Photo: istockphoto.com

Serious Surface Coverage
Wait at least 30 days before sealing a new concrete surface—whether indoors or out—so that it has time to completely cure first. For the best results, the concrete surface should be clean and dry. That means no rain should be in the week’s forecast if you’re working outdoors on a patio, bench, or sidewalk. (You’ll also want to wait until you’re certain that the temperature will stay between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Apply Quikrete’s Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer using a brush, a roller, or a garden sprayer. No mixing is necessary; the liquid sealer comes ready to use in one- and five-gallon containers. Coat the surface with enough sealant to evenly saturate the concrete, but not so much that it pools. One gallon will cover approximately 100 to 200 square feet, depending on whether your concrete mix skews porous or smooth (as, for example, countertop mixes tend to be). More porous surfaces require more sealant to fully coat. Though the concrete will naturally absorb the sealant and its waterproofing properties, the sealant will not change the look of the slab.

For added protection, apply a second coat 10 minutes after finishing the first coat, before it has a chance to dry. Two coats of the Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer are sufficient for penetrating the surface of the concrete. For exterior applications, these two coats can last up to 10 years before resealing is necessary. Interior applications, on the other hand, which are not subject to UV rays or temperature fluctuations, should not require future resealing.

If you’re treating a concrete countertop or tabletop to protect it from acidic spills like vinegar, which can cause discoloration, follow up with a food-safe wax, such as carnauba. Apply this according to the package’s instructions to create a sanitary barrier between the sealed concrete and your food so the surface will be suitable for meal prep.

Sealing Expansion Joints
While you won’t see it so much on indoor projects, virtually every large concrete surface outdoors—be it a driveway, sidewalk, or patio—is separated into smaller sections by precut expansion joints. These joints permit the concrete to shift imperceptibly at these predetermined points to accommodate any expansion and contraction that result from temperature fluctuations or shifting ground. These forces could otherwise cause a single large slab to split at random points. You’ll need to seal these joints, too, either before or after you seal the surface, using a high-quality product like Quikrete’s Polyurethane Self-Leveling Sealant to minimize your concrete’s exposure to water.

Again, choose a day when the outdoor temperature is between 40 and 85 degrees and rain is not in the forecast. Ensure that the joints are clean and dry before applying the sealant: You can use a stiff-bristle brush to sweep pebbles and debris from the joints, but if oil or grease is present, use a product like Quikrete’s Concrete and Asphalt Cleaner to remove the residue before proceeding.

Press Quikrete’s Backer Rods—compressible foam rods specifically designed for use in joint and crack sealing—into any joints wider than ½ inch and leave approximately 1/8 inch of space above the backer rod for the sealant. For the sharpest and cleanest lines, mask off both sides of the expansion joint with painter’s tape so that you fill only the joints. Then, use a caulk gun to dispense the sealant evenly in the crack from one end to the other. Force the sealant deeply into the joint. Take care not to leave gaps along the edges, but don’t use so much that the sealant forms a bead above the surface of the concrete. After applying the sealant, while it is still wet, carefully peel away the painter’s tape to reveal perfectly straight lines of sealant.

Stop Cracks in Their Tracks
Over time even properly sealed exterior concrete surfaces and their expansion joints, whether on porches, steps, or slabs, can develop cracks. The sooner you seal a crack, the better: Left untreated, cracks can grow larger, requiring more difficult repairs. For a waterproof fix, the sealant must adhere tightly to the concrete yet stretch without pulling away if the concrete shifts again. Quikrete’s Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant won’t sag in the crack, and it can stretch up to 700 percent while maintaining a strong bond—plus, its gray shade closely matches the color of bare concrete so the repairs won’t stand out like a sore thumb. Got a number of cracks to fill? Use this handy online calculator to determine how much sealant to purchase.

Good crack preparation is the key to a successful repair. In addition to starting with clean and dry concrete on a day with temperatures between 40 and 95 degrees, you’ll also need to prepare the crack for best adhesion:

• If the crack is narrow, use a hammer and chisel to open it to approximately 1/4 inch wide, creating a “V” in the concrete. Brush away all debris from the crack with a stiff brush or vacuum it out with a shop vacuum.

• For cracks that are more than 1/2 inch deep, insert a compressible foam backer rod in the crack before filling with sealant. You’ll need approximately 1/8 inch of space above the backer rod for the sealant to adhere properly.

Next, with a utility knife, cut the tip of the sealant tube at an angle so the hole is the same size as the width of the crack you’re filling. Pop the sealant tube into the caulk gun, and use uniform pressure to dispense a bead of sealant into the crack. The sealant should fill the entire crack from edge to edge without oozing over the top of the crack; you can get a good look at the technique in this video from Quikrete. Use a small trowel, if necessary, to remove any excess sealant from the surface of the concrete. Within a couple of hours, the sealant will no longer be tacky to the touch. If you’re planning to paint the surface, wait at least 72 hours before breaking out the can of color—otherwise, consider the job done and your concrete protected!

 

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


How To: Cut Sheet Metal

Avoid accidentally bending, scoring, or gouging the metal in your next DIY project when you use the tools and technique outlined here.

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How to Cut Sheet Metal

Photo: amazon.com

Whether you’re repairing HVAC ducts, replacing roof flashing, or tackling the occasional metal craft project, you’ll wind up working closely with sheet metal. A sheet of copper, tin, or aluminum used in residential applications is often very thin, making it easy to bend, score, or gouge while you manipulate it. To sidestep these rookie mistakes, selecting the right tool is the crucial first step in how to cut sheet metal. A variety of tools—hammer and chisel, angle grinder, or hacksaw, to name a few—may be up to the task, but tin snips are typically the best and most economical option for do-it-yourselfers. Also referred to as aviator snips, these scissor-like hand tools cut sheet metal materials up to 18-gauge in thickness accurately without leaving a ragged, bent edge as the finished product. Pick them up from your local home improvement center for $15 to $20 each, and you can start making controlled cuts in either straight lines or curves.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Tin snips
– Sawhorses (2)
– 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood
– Sheet metal
– Tape measure
– Pencil
– Straightedge
– Plastic molding (optional)
– Wooden blocks (2) (optional)
– 8′-long 1×2 furring strip (optional)
– Wood clamps (optional)
– Safety glasses
– Work gloves
– Power drill
– Metal-cutting drill bit
– Metal file

How to Cut Sheet Metal with Tin Snips

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Purchase a pair of tin snips suitable for the type of cutting your project entails, straight or curved. Many tin snip manufacturers color code the handles to represent the three basic varieties: red handles indicate that the snips cut left, green-handled snips cut right, and yellow-handled snips cut straight.

STEP 2
Set up a sturdy, stable workbench capable of supporting the size of sheet metal you intend to cut. Typically, a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood or similar material supported by two sawhorses makes an ideal workbench for sheet metal projects.

STEP 3
Place the sheet metal on top of the workbench and lay out your pattern using a tape measure, pencil, and straightedge.

If your project requires curved cuts, make an easy, economical, and adjustable template creating the desired curve first using a piece of plastic molding. Clamp two wooden blocks (at least 2 inches in height size) along an 8′-long 1×2 furring strip, then bend a piece of 1/2-inch or less plastic quarter-round molding to slide between them. Together, between the straight cut of wood and the curved molding, you’ll achieve a setup that looks like the letter “D.” The blocks hold each end of the molding in place, and their distance apart from one another controls the curve. Simply loosen the clamps and reposition the blocks to adjust the shape of the curve as needed. Once you’re happy with the shape, place the whole arrangement atop your sheet metal to trace, then remove.

STEP 4
Don your safety glasses and work gloves, and grab your tin snips. At the beginning of each cut, it is important to open the tool completely and seat the edge of the sheet metal as deep as possible in the jaws. Align the tool’s blade with your pattern line (the penciled line you intend to cut along), maintaining contact between the sheet metal and the upper blade of the tin snips. Squeeze the handles in one hand to make the cut, and repeat this process until the cut is finished.

 

How to Cut Sheet Metal with Tin Snips

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 5 (optional)
If your project requires cutting a hole in the center of sheet metal, draw it on the metal as you would any other cut line. Then, create a pilot hole within the penciled circle using a power drill fitted with a 1/2-inch or greater metal-cutting bit in order to accommodate the jaws of the tin snips. Place the tips of the tin snip jaws in through the pilot hole and cut your desired radius using the appropriate left or right hand curved tin snips.

STEP 6
Finally, run a metal file along the edges to clean them up and remove any lingering burrs from your fresh cut.


How To: Stain a Fence

Give a drab or dingy wooden fence a fresh face with a lustrous and long-lasting stained finish.

How to Stain a Fence

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether your wooden fence is years old or newly installed, it can benefit from a single inexpensive addition: stain. Applying wood stain to the slats improves its design and prolongs the lifespan of your hard-working outdoor structure—a win-win! For long-lasting, professional-quality results, work with a semitransparent oil-based stain designed for the exterior. These stains elegantly accentuate the natural patina of the underlying wood with a subtle tint, and, as a bonus, boast formulas that slow the growth of mildew and rot as well as protect the wood from ultraviolet light exposure. With this straightforward tutorial on how to stain a fence and basic painting supplies, you can refresh your wooden privacy wall in as little time as a weekend—and reap these benefits right away.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Wood stain stripper (optional)
– Stiff-bristle brush
– Hose with high-pressure spray nozzle or power washer
– Bucket
– Bleach
– Rubber gloves
– Wood stain stripper
– Sanding block (optional)
– Sandpaper (fine-grit, optional)
– Painter’s tape
– Drop cloth
– Natural-bristle paintbrush
– Paint pan (optional)
– Paint roller (optional)
– Paint roller cover (optional)
– Paint sprayer (optional)
– Oil-based wood stain
– Clear, weatherproof wood sealant

STEP 1
Before staining a wood fence, scan the weekly weather forecast and select a day with temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees, low to moderate humidity, and no precipitation expected for the next 24 hours. If you’re discouraged by the prospects, remember that “good things come to those who wait”: Extreme cold or moisture can prolong the drying time of wood stain, while the opposite extreme can dry out stain too quickly and leave behind unwanted lap marks on the fence.

STEP 2
Depending on the current condition of your fence, you may need to strip or sand the surface.

• Starting with a previously stained or finished fence? Apply wood stain or finish stripper to the slats according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then scrub the slats with a stiff-bristle brush to loosen the old varnish and slough off upright wood fibers.

• Learning how to stain a fence that is new? Ensure the stain will penetrate the wood with the water test: Lightly spray a small section of the fence with a garden hose. If water beads form on the slats, lightly sand the slats in the direction of the wood grain. Water successfully penetrating the slats, though, indicates that your wooden fence can readily absorb the stain.

STEP 3
Clean the fence with water from a high-pressure spray nozzle attached to a garden hose, or, a power washer. This will remove light to moderate dirt accumulations and complete the job of the wood stain stripper in blasting away any old varnish from the fence, if applied. If using a power washer, opt for a low-powered unit operating at no more than 2,000 psi so as not to weather the wood slats.

STEP 4
If you spot mold or mildew deposits on the fence, prepare a solution of bleach diluted with water in a bucket. Donning rubber gloves, apply the bleach to the slats with a garden sprayer, allowing it to settle into the slats for a few minutes before rinsing the fence clean with a high-pressure spray nozzle or power washer. Let the fence dry for at least 24 hours before staining.

STEP 5
Repair chips or cracks in the fence with wood filler. If needed, replace damaged slats.

How to Stain a Fence

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 6
Use painter’s tape to protect areas of the fence you do not want to stain. Similarly, protect surrounding vegetation at the foot of the fence by covering it with drop cloths. Then, enlist a brush, roller, or sprayer to stain the slats.

• A natural-bristle brush is the best way to encourage oil-based wood stain to permeate wooden fence slats. Dip the tip of the brush into a can of stain, then coat any horizontal slats of the fence from left to right. Afterwards, work your way from top to bottom down the entire length of each vertical slat, maintaining a wet tip at all times. Stain one to two slats at a time to prevent lap marks from forming. One you reach the bottom of a slat, stain the end grain.

• If using a roller, opt for a medium nap roller cover, then fully saturate the nap with the stain. Apply the stain in two- to three-foot sections of the fence at a time, taking care to back-brush, or re-paint over uncovered areas left by the previous stroke, with a wide brush. This will allow the stain to enter hard-to- reach grooves and recesses, and ensure an even coat free of lap marks.

• If using a sprayer, follow the same approach as for how to stain a fence with a roller, but stand back a comfortable distance from the fence to apply color.

STEP 7
When the entire fence has been stained, let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply additional coats of stain as needed to achieve the desired depth of color. A single coat should be sufficient for a new wood fence or one that you plan to seal.

STEP 8
While a good quality stain alone is sufficient to protect your fence from everyday wear-and-tear, applying a durable sealant over the stain can prolong the finish—and the life of your fence. For best results, apply a single coat of clear, weatherproof sealant by brush, roller, or sprayer. Quickly back-brush unsealed grooves and recesses with a wide brush to achieve a uniform appearance.

STEP 9
Allow the sealant to dry completely. Then, dispose of soiled drop cloths, remove the painter’s tape from the slats, and reveal your like-new fence!

Go ahead and take the next couple of summers off—you earned it. But while semitransparent stains can last anywhere between two to five years, extreme temperatures and precipitation can prematurely age the finish. Don’t rest on your laurels too long and risk the weather damage: Aim to stain your fence every two to three years to preserve its sheen and weather protective qualities.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

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


DIY Lite: Make This Clever Catchall with Nothing But Rope

Whether you want one rope basket or enough to fill a bookshelf, you can create custom storage options in an instant in 6 easy steps.

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Rope Basket Collection as Desk Organization

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Available in all shapes and sizes, baskets are often the simplest way to store anything from your soap collection to office supplies—and with a touch more texture and style than transparent bins, at that. Head to a home design store to find enough to organize the whole home, though, and you’re not guaranteed to find the exact size you need. Fortunately, a rope basket is quite simple to make. With several yards of rope and a loaded glue gun, you can create your own custom (and even colorful!) catchall.

 

All You Need to Make a Rope Basket

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– 1⁄4″- or 3/8″-thick white cotton rope
– Scissors
– Masking tape
– Fabric dye
– Pot
– Plastic gloves
– Newspaper
– Hot glue gun
– Bowl, vase, or bucket (optional)
– Leather belt

 

Rope Basket - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
Cut the rope to the length you will need to make the rope basket. For reference, we used 10 yards of rope to make a small basket 4 inches deep and 4-1⁄2 inches in diameter and 21 yards of rope to make a basket of 6 inches deep and 6 inches diameter.

Once you have cut the rope to the length you need, find and mark the middle of the length with a piece of tape. This reminder will help ensure you dye only half of the rope to achieve a color block effect.

 

Rope Basket - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
Dilute the dye into some water according to the instructions on the package. In most cases, you will have to bring a pot of water to a boil, add the dye, and mix. However the instructions may differ from one brand to another, so we suggest to checking the box (especially for the ratio of dye to water!).

Once the dye is ready, drop half of the rope into the pot (up until the tape) and let sit for a few minutes so that the cotton absorbs the dye well. When you’re ready to take the rope out of the dye, pull on plastic gloves and carry the whole pot over to your sink. Lift and rinse the rope with clean water, then let dry.

 

Rope Basket - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
Take one end of the colored rope and add some hot glue to it in order to prevent it from fraying. Then, start tightly rolling the rope around itself. As you go, trace the outside of the spiral lightly with hot glue so that the next turn of rope sticks. Take it easy with the hot glue gun, though, or else you’ll be left with glue oozing out the bottom.

 

Rope Basket - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
Keep rolling the rope around itself to make the flat bottom of the basket until you have what looks like a rope drink coaster.

Once you reach the desired diameter, glue the top perimeter of round circle and wrap the next turn of rope so that it presses into the glue. Now, you’ll continue this pattern—gluing the top of the rope rather than the side—to grow the side walls of your rope basket.

 

Rope Basket - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
Continue gluing and coiling the rope to create your basket. You can try to keep the rope rows aligned freehand or place a bowl, vase, or bucket in the center to wrap around (just know it may get some hot glue on it in the process).

Once it reaches the depth you need, cut the excess rope. Now add a dot of glue to the free end to prevent it from fraying.

 

Rope Basket - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Want to add two purely decorative handles like what we attached to our large green and white rope basket? Cut two strips of leather (out of a sheet or straight from an old belt), and glue them on either side. While these will not be strong enough for lifting a filled basket, they certainly do add an extra touch of professionalism.

That’s a wrap! All that’s left to do is fill your rope basket with colored pencils, plants, toiletries, clothespins—the options are endless.

 

How to Make a Rope Basket

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Make a Rope Basket for Easy, Instant Storage

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY a Rope Basket for Your Plants

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

 

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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


How To: Cut Mirror

With a few simple steps and a glass cutting tool, you can get a custom-cut mirror in no time.

How to Cut Mirror

Photo: istockphoto.com

Mirrors enhance any interior as both decorative and highly functional features, bouncing light and offering an opportunity to check your appearance before running out the door. Finding the right one for your needs—now that’s the ticket. Fortunately, when a homeowner wants to repurpose a picture frame to contain a reflection or can’t find quite the right size of mirror to hang in the bathroom, he or she isn’t doomed to shell out hundreds of dollars at a glazier or framing shop to get a custom cut. With the right tools and a little know-how, anyone can learn how to cut a mirror to the exact dimensions desired using a technique similar to cutting glass (after all, a mirror is essentially aluminum-painted glass). If you’ve never cut either material before, consider visiting a local glass-cutting or framing store and asking for some scrap glass to practice the following steps on.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Newspaper
– Glass cleaner
– Microfiber cloth
– Ruler, framing square, or measuring tape
– Marking pencil or wax pencil
– Work gloves
– Protective eyewear
– Straightedge
– Masking tape
– Glass cutter
– Cutting oil
– Paper towel
– Dowel
– Square-jaw pliers
– Fabric or cardboard
– Fine grit sanding foam, sanding block, or sandpaper

Before setting out on your project, keep in mind that some jobs are best left to the professionals. Don’t attempt to cut a piece of glass longer than 24 inches, because scoring and breaking the expansive surface will be difficult and dangerous. Likewise, you shouldn’t try cutting anything less than one-half inch in size, since the restricted workspace creates a greater risk for cutting yourself. These steps for how to cut a mirror are best saved for smaller DIYs, like filling a frame or adding additional facets to an ordinary rectangular sheet.

 

How to Cut Mirror

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 1
Lay several sheets of newspaper atop your work surface, which should be a flat and sturdy tabletop large enough to accommodate the uncut mirror pane. The layer of newspaper creates a smooth surface so the bumps and flaws in the table don’t impact the cutting process.

STEP 2
Clean the mirror with a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. This step is crucial; any dust, dirt, and residue on the mirror’s surface can impede the glass cutter’s effectiveness and produce a jagged edge.

STEP 3
Lay the mirror on your work surface and measure it with a ruler, framing square, or measuring tape. Note that if you’re cutting the mirror to fit into a frame, you should make it a few millimeters narrower than the framing space; that way, it’ll fit perfectly into the opening. Mark along the cut line with a wax pencil or a marking pencil.

STEP 4
Don good-gripping work gloves and protective eyewear. Then position a straightedge along the measured marks you made in Step 3. If your straightedge doesn’t feel secure against the glass, you may want to attach it to the mirror with loops of masking tape placed underneath.

How to Cut Mirror

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 5
Whip out your glass cutter, and wipe the wheel with paper towel dampened with a few drops of cutting oil in order to remove dust and lint. You’ll also want to place a drop of oil on the tip of the wheel; this helps you achieve a “dry” cut and increases the odds of a clean break, rather than one that veers off-path and has slivers.

STEP 6
Position the glass cutter on the surface of the mirror, against the far end of the straightedge, and pull it toward you. Press the cutter into the glass with moderate force, being mindful that too-hard pressure may break the mirror and too-soft pressure won’t successfully score the surface. Working with the right pressure will sound like you’re “ripping” the mirror.

Complete the cut in a single movement from one end of the mirror to the other, which will prevent jagged edges. Avoid making multiple scores along the straightedge.

STEP 7
After scoring the glass, you’ll need to break it along the scored line. Set the straightedge aside, and carefully slide a dowel underneath the mirror along the full length of the score. Lay one palm on either side of the dowel and firmly, but carefully, press down on the mirror. It should snap along the cut line.

STEP 8
To eliminate any slivers or jutting pieces of glass, place a two-inch square of fabric or cardboard in the jaws of square-headed pliers, then gently break off the pieces of mirror. The fabric or cardboard should protect the cut edge from fragmenting.

STEP 9
Rub the edges of the cut mirror with fine-grit sanding foam, sanding block, or sandpaper. A smooth edge will make the mirror safer to handle.

STEP 10
Once sanded, set the mirror aside and start cleaning up the workspace. Always gather the newspaper from the outer edges, so any slivers of glass will be bundled up inside. Vacuum the space to collect any stray shards of glass, and wipe the work surface down with a wet cloth.

Then it’s time to clean the cut mirror and hang it up, where it will serve as a dazzling custom decor piece in your home!

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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


Video: How to Find a Wall Stud

Hanging something heavy from the wall? Before you do, you may need a lesson in locating wall studs.

SHARES

There’s a reason they make stud finders. These tiny tools come in handy when you need to find a wall stud, usually when you’re hanging something heavy like a large picture frame, mirror, or shelf. If you don’t have a stud finder, you can still locate the studs in your wall but does take a little detective work. Here are a few tried and true methods for locating wall studs. Once you track down these sturdy spots in your wall, you can hang your heavy items without fear of causing unnecessary damage to your drywall.

For more tool and workshop advice, consider:

Proceed with Caution: 10 Power Tools That Can Kill You

The Best New Home Products for Under $50

15 Handy Things to Get from Home Depot for Under $15


Wood Filler: Your Secret Weapon for Fast and Easy Furniture Fixes

Learn how an easy-to-use, stainable wood filler let this satisfied homeowner sidestep a time-consuming refinishing job and still end up with a beautiful, professional-looking end result.

Wood Filler

Photo: JNoonan

In the above photo, you’re seeing what used to be a playroom for my two daughters. For years, the space contained the chaos of their picture books, art supplies, and plastic toys. But once the kids entered elementary school—and once their afternoons became dominated by endless extracurricular activities—the playroom grew quieter and quieter. Gradually, it became clear to me that the girls needed not a no-holds-barred play area, but a quiet place to concentrate and do homework. That’s when I struck upon the idea of a family office, one that would be functional both for my kids and for my husband and me.

To anchor the office, I envisioned a desk large enough to fit two (pint-size or full-grown) people comfortably. A thrift-store junkie, I didn’t even consider buying something brand new. Instead, I set off on a tour of the local secondhand stores, thinking that if I didn’t strike upon a beautiful vintage piece of the right size, then at the very least I’d be able to snag a temporary solution. In the end, though, I managed to get lucky. On my first day out hunting, for $10 apiece, I purchased a trio of Art Deco vanity cabinets, and for a couple of bucks more, an oversize laminate board to serve as a durable work surface.

Furniture Damage

Photo: JNoonan

I happen to love the Art Deco style, but the cabinets had no doubt seen better days. Most of the damage came in the form of minor, barely noticeable scratches and dings, but there were also a number of deep gouges that anyone could spot from a mile away. No problem, I thought. Eliminating those eyesores would be as simple as refinishing the cabinetry. But simple though it may be, refinishing takes time and effort, and months passed before I faced up to the fact that overhauling the cabinets would never reach the top of my to-do list. In other words, it was time for me to pursue a speedier, more pragmatic fix.

In the past, in situations roughly similar to my cabinet conundrum, I had used wood filler with tremendous success to conceal flaws in both interior and exterior wood. Of course, if the cabinets had not been structurally sound, it would have been necessary to mount a more ambitious fix. But under the circumstances, with the cabinets having suffered only superficial damage, I felt confident that wood filler would do the trick. If I was concerned about anything, it was the challenge of blending the patched areas with the existing cabinet finish. After all, you can’t stain wood filler—or so I thought.

Elmer's ProBond Wood Filler

Photo: JNoonan

At Lowe’s, I was delighted to discover the first and only wood filler on the market that you can stain—Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler. Although wood filler typically comes in an array of colors, you would normally have no choice but to settle for one that didn’t quite match the existing finish of the wood you were patching. Any areas that you repaired would stand out as obviously having been repaired. In other words, you would have to accept an imperfect result. Stainable wood filler, meanwhile, enables you to conceal your repair work with any stain you like—whichever offers the closest color match.

Besides its ability to accept stain, Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler also appeals to do-it-yourselfers because it’s easy to work with. In fact, you can use virtually any tool to apply the compound to damaged wood. For my project, I opted to use a putty knife, but I could have relied on a paint stirrer or a cotton ball or even my index finger. After a bit of preparation—removing dust and debris from the damaged areas and sanding down the rough edges—I proceeded to the main event: Working the wood filler into chips and gouges until each sat flush with its surroundings. All told, it took me half an hour.

Using Wood Filler

Photo: JNoonan

Note that with other wood fillers, you need to take care to account for shrinkage—that is, you must overfill your repairs in order to counteract any contraction that takes place once the compound has dried. With Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler, however, you can ignore shrinkage altogether, and thanks to its unique formulation, you can expect that the compound will never crack. Yet another reason to like the Elmer’s product: It dries quite quickly. In my case, because I was repairing relatively shallow gouges, the filler dried in only 15 minutes, giving me the chance to proceed directly to the next step—sanding each patch until smooth.

Finally, to complete the job and erase evidence of the repair, I set about staining each patch of wood filler. In the garage, where I like to hoard paint and stain cans, I had scrounged around and found a stain pen whose color looked almost identical to the walnut cabinet finish. But rather than go full speed ahead, I first tested the stain on the least conspicuous, most out-of-the-way wood filler patch. Once I was sure that the color match would be as good as it had initially seemed to be, I went about staining the remaining patches. It took more than one coat, but eventually, any sign of my repair work had all but disappeared.

Using Stain Pen

Photo: JNoonan

True, I’d initially planned to refinish the wood, but with the desk looking as good as it does now, I see no reason to go any further. That said, considering the project in retrospect, I’d say the quality of the outcome wasn’t even the best part—it was the “no muss, no fuss” process. If I’d gone the refinishing route, I would have needed to empty the cabinets, haul them out to the garage—you get the picture. It would have been an ordeal. But Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler enabled me to get right to it, working on the pieces just where they stood, and finishing the project in a fraction of the time it would have taken to refinish.

Having purchased an eight-ounce container of the product, I now have plenty of it left over, and I’m glad. Wood filler comes in handy, not only for furniture fix-ups, but also for a wide variety of repairs, both around the house and in the yard. Scarred flooring, rotted fence boards, nail-hole-ridden wall trim—common issues like these can lead to time-consuming, energy-sapping, and wallet-emptying repairs. Or they can be dealt with quickly, easily, and affordably with nothing more than Elmer’s ProBond Wood Filler. If you’ve never experimented with this stuff before, get excited: It could very well become your go-to home repair favorite.

Wood Filler Redux

Photo: JNoonan

 

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