Kitchen - 3/24 - Bob Vila

Category: Kitchen


This DIY Rolling Cart Is What Every Kitchen Needs

No pantry? No problem! Find room for all fruits and vegetables that need no refrigeration in a clever kitchen accessory.

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Having an organized and functional kitchen can sometimes feel unattainable especially if you’re working with limited space. Sure, you’ve tucked the cookware, countertop appliances, plates, and serving utensils into every available cabinet and drawer, things can get out of control pretty fast—but what to do with all of the food?

Fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market look lovely in a bowl when there’s space on the counter, but often wind up in the way during the actual cooking process. A rolling storage cart, on the other hand, makes a convenient alternative. It takes little space, provides plenty of storage, and moves out of the way with ease. Plus, there’s so much more potential here than just produce. Build this DIY rolling cart according to the directions outlined here, and you’ll have a mini pantry on wheels.

 

All You Need to Make a DIY Rolling Cart

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
1×10 (16 feet)
Ruler
Pencil
Saw
1×6 (8 feet)
Wood glue
 Woodworking clamps (2)
2inch nails
Hammer
2″wide flat trim
Palm or orbital sander
Sandpaper (60 and 120grit)
Foodsafe wood stain
Foodsafe varnish
Drill
Rubber wheels (4)
½inch screws and washers

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
Cut two pieces of  26-¼”-long planks from your 1×10 lumber to make the sides of the rolling cart. (You saw these cuts yourself, or have this done at the home improvement store where you purchased the wood.)

Since this rolling cart will be divided into three bin-like compartments to separate and store fruits and vegetables, draw horizontal lines across the plank 9 inches and 18 inches from the top to help you determine where you’ll attach the shelves.

Next, draw three more lines across the wood: one will be 2 inches from the bottom and the others 2-¾ inches above each pencil line (at 9 and 18 inches). These horizontal rectangles you’ve drawn on your piece of wood represent where you’ll fit each shelf.

Finally, measure 2 inches from the right and draw one perpendicular line down the right side. This will help you start to draw triangles, which you’ll cut along to make angled openings at each level. Follow along with the diagram above as you make these connections:

• Starting at the top, connect the vertical penciled line at the very top of the board (2 inches from the right) to the first horizontal line beneath it (9 inches down) and the right edge of the board. You’ll have created a right-angle triangle with a 2-inch side, a 6-¼-side, and a hypotenuse that measures just about 6-9/16 inches.

• Start at the second horizontal line from the top intersects with the vertical line, draw a line that connects this intersection with the right edge of the plank at the next line below. Again, you’ll have a right-angle triangle with a 2-inch side and a 6-¼-side.

• Finally, draw a line from the next horizontal line (which is two from the bottom) meets the vertical line to the right edge at the bottom-most horizontal line. Here, too, you’ll have a triangle with a 2-inch side and a 6-¼-side. If you’re checking your work, the bottom point of the bottom triangle will be only two inches from the bottom of this plank.

Now, with a handsaw or a jigsaw cut out the three triangles.

Repeat on the second 26-¼”-long 1×10. Pro tip: To get precisely the same cuts and avoid taking all of those measurements again, go ahead and trace the first piece and all of its angular cuts onto the second.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
Cut your 1×6 into two pieces, each 26-¼ inches long. Then, line them up side by side so that they make a surface 11 inches across; this will be the back of the rolling cart. Apply wood glue to where the two planks meet and hold them together with clamps while the glue dries.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
From your remaining 1×10, cut the following pieces:

• A cart bottom that is 12-½ by 9-½ inches

• Two shelves that are 11 by 8-¾ inches each

• A top that is 12-½ by 7-½ inches

First, glue the uncut long edge of each side to the outside edges of the 11″-wide back that you just made for the cart. Hammer six nails through one cart side into the edge of the back; repeat with the second cart side.

Then, glue and nail the cart bottom so that it completely covers the bottom edges of the sides and the back. (Its 12-½-inch side will meet the back of the cart.) Three 2-inch nails through the bottom of the cart into each of the cart sides and cart back should do the trick.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
Draw a line in wood glue along the back of the cart where you’ll insert each shelf. For this design, we inserted the shelves so that their sides lined up with the horizontal bottom of each triangle cut-out.

Line the first shelf’s 8-¾-inch sides with wood glue and slide it into the cart so that its 11-inch sides face the back and out—it should be a snug fit. Press firmly into the glue. Then, hammer four nails across the back of the cart (through the 1x6s into the shelf) and three nails through each side into the sides of the shelf. Repeat to install the second shelf.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
Essentially, you now have a set of stacked cubbies on wheels. To ensure nothing slides around and out while you wheel your rolling cart through the kitchen, make a short lip for each shelf.

Cut the 2″-wide wood trim into three 11″-long pieces.

Next, apply wood glue to each short end and the bottom of your first cut, then slide it into place between the two sides of the rolling cart and on top of a shelf. Repeat for the remaining two shelves, and hold each with a clamp while the glue dries.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Sand the entire storage cart—inside and out—to give it a smooth finish. Start with a 60-grit paper, then make a second pass using 120-grit paper.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 7
Stain or paint your rolling kitchen cart to match the colors in your kitchen and make it look at home next to your cabinets or island workspace. As you will use it for food storage, be careful to use a nontoxic finish. Top with a coat of varnish to protect the wood and make future cleanup of smushed fruit and flaking onion layers as easy as a wipe-down.

Let dry completely before you proceed.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 8
Turn the kitchen cart upside down and screw four caster wheels onto the bottom, one in each corner. Use ½-inch screws and add washers for additional sturdiness.

 

How to Make a DIY Rolling Cart for the Kitchen

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Turn the rolling cart right-side-up, and finish by filling it with goods! Apples, bananas, onions, potatoes—perhaps even some canned goods, if you have the room—fit easily onto each shelf without you ever having to worry about them spilling out. Then, roll it off underneath a table or to the end of your row of cabinets until you need to reach them.

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 the 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.


Bob Vila Radio: What’s Whetstone?

Sharpening kitchen knives is a must if you want them to effectively chop, dice, and slice. Find out how a whetstone can help you improve your blades.

Keeping kitchen knives sharp makes food prep faster, easier, and practically painless—it actually lessens the chance you’ll cut yourself by eliminating the struggle to slice with a dull blade. Stay tuned to learn about whetstones, also known as sharpening stones, which the pros use for keeping their cutlery keen.

Sharpening Kitchen Knives

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WHETSTONES or read below:

Whetstones are long, rectangular blocks made from composite stone. Generally, one of the flat surfaces of the stone has a coarse grit, while the reverse side is a bit finer to use for different rounds of sanding.

Before using the stone, soak it in water for 15 minutes, then lay it coarse-side-up on a towel. Holding the handle of your knife at a 20-degree angle to the whetstone with the edge facing away, pull the knife toward you, sliding the blade across the stone. Each time make sure the entire blade—from the tip, back to the handle—makes contact with the stone. Repeat that motion a dozen times on each side of the blade. Then flip the stone over to the fine-grit side and repeat the process.

You’ll probably need a little time to perfect the technique. But, once you have it mastered, your knives will only need sharpening a few times a year!

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


Prevent Freezing and Bursting Pipes—Here’s How

Follow these tips to prevent frozen pipes or, in a pinch, thaw them quickly before they cause headaches.

All You Need to Know About Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Photo: istockphoto.com

The big freeze has many homeowners scrambling for insulation and space heaters, but some of the most important areas to examine in the home during the winterization process are the plumbing pipes. When it comes to severe winter threats to your home, frozen pipes pose one of the most dangerous and costly problems.

Water expands as it freezes, putting significant pressure on pipes until they cannot hold the ice any longer. If you turn on a faucet and only get a trickle of water output, you stand a chance at identifying frozen pipes early enough to thaw them. If you’re out of town for the weekend, however, and miss the warning signs, the result could range from a hairline crack to something that spans the length of the pipe.

The types of metal or plastic pipes most susceptible to freezing (unsurprisingly) include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, but indoor plumbing isn’t necessarily any safer. Plumbing in unheated areas—basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, exterior walls, or even kitchen cabinets—aren’t well protected from the freezing temperatures, and these pipes can cause the biggest headaches. Frozen pipes that have cracked not only need to be replaced but, if they burst indoors, they can also result in serious water damage in that part of the house within hours of thawing out. Untreated leaks in cabinets, walls, floors, and so on can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to clean up and repair, and even open the door for mold and mildew growth.

While the problem is most common in the Northeast and Midwest, frozen pipes can occur in all regions of the country. If you’re at risk, check out this checklist to help you stop this hazard from striking your home.

 

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

The biggest source of seasonal damage can be avoided altogether if you follow these six steps.

STEP 1: Know Your Plumbing

Be prepared for a potential catastrophe by first identifying where your plumbing pipes are run and locating water shut-off valves. Always make sure you have easy access to the main water shut off in case of emergency. (The location may vary depending on the age of your house, but check inside a garage, basement, or laundry room first, and possibly underground in your yard.) Call a professional to have your heating and plumbing system serviced each year, too, so that you’re aware of and can fix small problems before they turn into larger issues down the line.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Winter

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2: Drain & Open During the Fall

All outdoor water lines to swimming pools and sprinkler systems should be completely drained in the fall so that there is no moisture left inside to expand in freezing temperatures. (Don’t know where to start? Read up on how to winterize your sprinkler system.) Also, remove and drain hoses and shut off valves to outdoor hose bibs.

It should go without saying, but never put antifreeze in outdoor water supply lines! Despite the promising sound of its name, this product will not prevent frozen pipes; moreover, it’s harmful to children, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.

STEP 3: Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Water pipes located in unheated exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces, or garages should be well insulated with sleeve-style pipe insulation to help maintain temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and prevent freezing. It will also help your pipes—not to mention your wallet overall—if you ensure that all rooms are properly insulated and gaps in leaky windows and doors are closed to prevent blustery drafts.

RELATED: The Pros and Cons of Today’s Most Popular Insulation

STEP 4: Run the Tiniest Bit of Water

If not during the whole winter season, you may consider opening a couple of faucets in the coldest areas of the house (where pipes would most likely freeze) just enough to let out a trickle of water. By keeping the faucets open, the flowing water helps prevent pipes from freezing.

STEP 5: Heat Exposure

The main thing is to make sure your pipes remain sufficiently warm throughout the winter. That means keeping cold air out or bringing warm air to your cold pipes. To that end, be careful not to close off any indoor pipes from heat in that particular area of the house. Plumbing that runs along an exterior wall through an under-sink cabinet in the kitchen or bathroom vanity, for example, will be colder if you keep the cabinet doors shut. Leave them slightly ajar, however, and they’ll be warmed with the rest of the room as your HVAC system operates. Plugging in space heaters to run on low in problem areas doesn’t hurt, either, during the coldest times of the year.

Whatever you do, never completely stop heat on days or nights that dip below freezing point, even if you’re out of town. Shutting down your HVAC completely could put your pipes at risk of freezing—even bursting—and your vacation at risk of a less-than-fun ending.

STEP 6: Get Smart About Your Resources

A variety of other products also help avoid frozen pipes in the first place. Consider a freeze alarm: For less than $100, you can purchase one from your home improvement center and set it so that it alerts your phone whenever indoor temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can compensate with additional warmth in areas at high risk of frozen pipes. Alternatively, a hot water circulating pump will monitor your pipes’ temperature and automatically circulate warm water throughout the hot and cold water lines whenever temperatures drop below a pre-determined benchmark without tasking the homeowner to address a problem spot.

 

How to Deal with Frozen Pipes

Photo: istockphoto.com

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

Fortunately, dealing with freezing pipes quickly can greatly minimize water damage to the home.

STEP 1: Find the Frozen Pipe

First open every faucet in your home to see which, if any, just produces a trickle of water—this is a sign of a frozen pipe—this is a clear sign of a frozen pipe somewhere between the faucet and the water source. Starting at the plumbing nearest the faucet, follow the line away from it and feel every few feet to find the coldest pipes, which will likely hold the icy blockage.

And, remember: If one pipe has frozen, that means others may be susceptible as well. To be sure, check all of the faucets in your home.

STEP 2: Limit the Amount of  Water to Run Out

Shut off the water supply to the location of the frozen pipes (or, if easier, the whole house) by turning it clockwise to its “off” position. When the frozen blockage does finally thaw, it may let out any additional liquid backed up behind it and turn up a surprise leak, so grab a bucket, towels, and perhaps a mop to prepare yourself for any icy water that gushes out.

RELATED: 10 Emergencies Every Homeowner Should Know How to Handle

STEP 3: Open Faucets

Drain all of the water remaining in the house by opening every faucet on every sink, shower, and tub and flushing each toilet once.

STEP 4: Heat Things Up

Apply heat to the frozen sections of pipe using an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, or a portable space heater until full water pressure is restored. Warm the edge of the area closest to the nearest outlet in the plumbing—like in the kitchen or bathroom—so that steam or water can easily escape. A space heater (or, if you have zoned heating, an adjustment of the nearest thermostat) could also do the trick to concentrate warmth wherever it’s needed. Whatever you do, never use a blowtorch, propane heater, or other open flames.

STEP 5: Slowly Restore Water Elsewhere

As you turn the water back on throughout the house via the main water supply valve, be on the lookout for any leaks—if you spot any, you’ll need to cut the water supply once again and call a plumber to make repairs ASAP. Close valves and faucets left open from Step 1.

RELATED: 12 Things Your Plumber Wishes You Knew

If your frozen pipes appear to be completely thawed, however, focus your energy once more on the preventative measures you can take into your own hands to avoid such a dire situation in future.


12 Seriously Doable Ways to DIY a Kitchen Table

Whether you're looking for a large farmhouse-style table or you need something that fits a tiny space, get inspired by these stunning and easy kitchen table DIYs.

DIY Kitchen Table

Photo: istockphoto.com

The kitchen table is the hub of the home, serving as a family gathering spot for more than just dining. But many models come at a pretty steep price, and an upgrade can turn into a substantial investment. With a little elbow grease, ingenuity, and inspiration from these surprisingly easy DIY kitchen tables, you can craft one of your own for a fraction of the cost of a new purchase.

1. Geometric Design

An octagonal pedestal table is ideal for the homeowner who loves to entertain. With angles that allow for seating to be added or taken away at a moment’s notice and an unusual shape that adds a punch of style, this DIY kitchen table is far from basic. The best part? It can be built without pro woodworking skills. Visit Shanty 2 Chic to see how you can easily craft a version of your own.

2. Hacked and Homegrown

If you’re hoping to build your own kitchen table but aren’t convinced you can do so from scratch, then this ingenious IKEA hack is the perfect project for you. It requires neither fancy tools nor special cuts. Simply attach a new top of 2x8s to a standard IKEA pine table, then stain or distress the wood to suit your style.

3. Pretty Picnic

Inside or out, the simple X-leg picnic table has an elegantly modern appeal. The 45-degree mitered angles are as complicated as this DIY gets, making it well suited for a beginning woodworker. Get started on your own rendition to grace the kitchen, porch, or patio.

4. Pallet Perfect

One large pallet provided the inspiration for this DIY dining table. Extra boards glued to the tabletop fill in the gaps, and hairpin legs, screwed into the wood, sit on casters for mobility. The finished product is rustic with a modern flair, extremely functional and easy to replicate.

5. Knock on Wood

DIY Wood Dining Table

Photo: instructables.com via Julien Thibeault

The only thing better than buying furniture new is the satisfaction of making it yourself from materials you already have on hand or can find for next to nothing. This great-looking kitchen table spent its former days as a door, but after being stripped, sanded, and stained, it now lives on as an inexpensive small-space gathering spot.

6. Sleek and Distinct

There are plenty of advantages to building your own kitchen table, but the cheaper cost sits near the top of the list. This pipe-legged DIY comes in at around $250—a huge discount when compared with similar store-bought options that showcase industrial design. Another plus is that doing it yourself lets you customize the table to suit your needs. Emma from A Beautiful Mess, for example, added casters to make her table easy to move. Build your own version using her instructions here.

7. Mixed and Matched

If you don’t have space for both a full-size table and an island, take a page out of Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof‘s book and build one unit that can serve both functions. Combine a variety of materials to lend the finished product a vintage feel, and add a bottom shelf to create an out-of-the-way spot to stash kitchen necessities.

8. Small and Simple

This surprisingly accessible DIY makes itself at home in any small space. Screw modern hairpin legs into a pre-milled 36-inch wood round, and you have a classic table for two that can nestle into any nook with ease.

9. Table with a View

A cozy cafe nook is a wonderful small-space alternative to a traditional dining table. This easy option comes together with a wood board, a set of substantial brackets, and an installation process that’s similar to mounting any thick shelf. This version sits alongside the window to take in outdoor views, but a nook like this would also work well with a set of stools in any part of a room.

10. Fold On the Fly

Card tables are wonderful for creating extra seating in a flash, but they’re not always an attractive addition to your decor. Make over a spare card table by fashioning a new top from cut and sanded pieces of reclaimed wood, then finish up by building a smooth outer frame with a few mitered boards.

11. Transformed Table

Instead of overspending on a store-bought kitchen island, take an old, standard-height table—maybe something that’s been hiding out in storage—to new heights by attaching stair balusters. Not only is this project simple to copy, but the finished product is extremely versatile, enabling you to cook, work, and eat all atop one easy DIY.

12. Family Friendly

It may be hard to believe, but a drill is the only power tool you’ll need to build this classic farmhouse table for your kitchen or dining room. Armed with the right materials, which include turned legs and self-drilling screws, as well as this tutorial from Miss Mustard Seed, you can achieve a family gathering spot all on your own.

 

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.


Buyer’s Guide: Nonstick Cookware

To purchase the right pots and pans for your kitchen, consider the size, coating, and safety concerns here—then read on for top-rated picks.

SHARES
Best Nonstick Cookware Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

Practical nonstick cookware is popular with kitchen newbies and experienced chefs alike. After all, cooking with coated vessels can prevent foods from sticking to surfaces, saving meals from ruin. What’s more, nonstick cookware often requires less (or even no) oil, resulting in lower-fat fare. Like its traditional counterparts, nonstick cookware can range widely in price, from $50 to $500, depending largely on the cachet of the manufacturer. Here’s your opportunity to learn what you need to know about nonstick pots and pans so you can pick up the best nonstick cookware set for your particular cooking style, space, and skills—not to mention your budget.

Coating Concerns
Food slides easily from cookware surfaces thanks to one of two types of coating: classic or ceramic. Classic, officially known as PTFE (for polytetrafluoroethylene), was first made popular when the brand name Teflon first hit the market in the 1960s. Ceramic coatings are made with ceramic nanotechnology—a fancy way of saying “very small particles”—and are considered the more environmentally friendly choice. While PTFE tends to last longer than ceramic, the Environmental Protection Agency has found a potential health risk in overheating PTFE-coated pots and pans. At temperatures around 500 degrees, PTFE can release fumes that are likely carcinogenic, so those who cook at high temps may wish to opt for ceramic. Unfortunately, ceramic coated cookware doesn’t hold up as well as PTFE and may need to be replaced within a few years after frequent use.

Appliance Applications
Remember, you don’t just cook in your cookware—you also reheat in it and wash it as well. So it’s essential to consider if a set is safe for the dishwasher and/or microwave. While Teflon itself is microwave safe, PTFE cookware is generally made of metals—and metal, of course, should never be placed in a microwave, where it’s likely to explode. Some ceramic cookware is microwave-safe, but pieces with any metallic compounds are not to be nuked.

When it comes to cleaning, many (not all) nonstick cookware brands claim their products are dishwasher safe. Just remember that the higher the temperature, the faster a nonstick coating will degrade. So to prolong the life of your nonstick cookware, consider washing it by hand no matter what the manufacturer says. Ask the salesperson to steer you towards the right cookware for your reheating and washing methods, and always check the label on the cookware itself.

To avoid scratching nonstick cookware, skip metal spoons and spatulas and use wood, silicone, or nylon instead. Fortunately, some nonstick cookware sets throw in an assortment of utensils as part of the deal.

Size Matters
Finally, as with any set of cookware, think about how many pieces you need. Ask yourself the following: How much cooking do you usually do? Are you making meals for small or large groups? What will your kitchen storage accommodate? If you occasionally prepare dinner for yourself and your partner, an eight-piece set that includes various sizes of saucepans, skillets, and a large soup pot might suit you fine. If you serve up multiple meals per week for a large family, however, larger set with up to 15 pieces offers more flexibility and range.

3 Hot Options

To help you find the best nonstick cookware for your kitchen, we’ve picked a few favorites based on the considerations outlined above and critical reviews on the top shopping sites.

Best Nonstick Cookware - Cuisinart Chef's Classic Non-Stick 17-Piece Set

Photo: amazon.com

Cuisinart 66-17N Classic Nonstick Anodized Cookware Set ($199) 
This extensive but not expensive 17-piece set of classic nonstick aluminum cookware is popular with Amazon shoppers. It’s especially suited for fat-free cooks, thanks to a surface that’s anodized (toughened up with a protective oxide layer) and reinforced with titanium, meaning no oil is ever needed to keep food from sticking. Safe in dishwashers and oven temperatures up to 500 degrees (lids are safe up to 350 degrees), this sleek black set also boasts stay-cool handles. It’s metal, so not nuke-friendly, but the manufacturer claims it’s dishwasher safe. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Nonstick Cookware - T-Fal's 12-Piece Signature Aluminum Cookware Set

Photo: lowes.com

T-Fal Signature Aluminum Cookware Set ($64)
This 12-piece classic aluminum set—a favorite of Lowe’s shoppers—hits the sweet spot of not too few, not too many pieces. The budget-friendly set is perfect for folks with small kitchens, with just six vessels: two saucepans, two frying pans, a griddle, a Dutch oven, with corresponding lids and tools. It also comes with a slotted spoon, spatula, and ladle. A built-in heat indicator in the center of each piece helps prevent undercooking or overheating, which can extend the life of the set when kept under 350 degrees, where it’s both oven and dishwasher safe (but a microwave no-no). Available at Lowe’s.

 

Best Nonstick Cookware - WearEver 15-Piece Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic

Photo: amazon.com

WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic Cookware Set ($144)
Named the best ceramic cookware set of 2017 by professional reviewers at The Spruce, this ceramic-coated 15-piece set boasts nine vessels and six lids, with saucepans, fry pans, a soup pot, a griddle, and more. Safe in the dishwasher and the oven if kept under 350 degrees, it’s made of aluminum, so not microwave-friendly. Less heat-sensitive than its PTFE counterparts, the set can withstand cooking temperatures of up to 700 degrees, so low-level flambéing isn’t out of the question. Bring on the coq au vin and bananas foster! Available on Amazon.


5 Types of Tile Worth Considering in Your Next Renovation

Ready to re-do your flooring, kitchen backsplash, or bathroom walls? Check out our guide to five popular tiling options on the market today.

5 Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Walk into a home improvement store on a mission to renovate your kitchen or bath, and you may find yourself overwhelmed with the types of tile available. Dozens of sizes, shapes, materials, and colors may even derail whatever decisiveness you had. To narrow the search and ease your decision-making process, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of five popular tiling options worth considering for your next remodel.

Glass and 4 Other Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

Photo: istockphoto.com

TYPE OF TILE: Glass
One of the most popular types of tile for backsplashes, glass comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and opacity. There is a lot of versatility in shape, too: You’ll find squares, rectangles, medallions, fish scales, and mosaic tiles, which two inches or less in size and ideal for creating patterns throughout your tiled surface. Homeowners can opt for larger individual pieces of glass to lay themselves or mesh-backed mosaics for easier installation. Depending on the specific styles you choose, you can expect to pay between $7 and $30 per square foot for these materials.

While the sheen from glass tile would look beautiful anywhere, it’s best kept to the walls. For starters, glass can be much too slippery for walking on (unless you carefully choose materials designed specifically for flooring). Additionally, the laws of gravity make glass flooring more susceptible to damage from dropped objects than, say, a glass tile backsplash or wall—and, unfortunately, the material is no easy thing to repair if broken. The picturesque material does boast several pros: mildew resistance, a practically stain-proof surface, a beautiful light-reflective appearance, and easy cleaning.

Pro Tip: If you decide that glass tile—one of the most expensive tiling materials—is for you, recruit a pro for installation to prevent the adhesive from showing through the translucent surface.

 

Porcelain and 4 Other Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

Photo: istockphoto.com

TYPE OF TILE: Porcelain
Porcelain tile is made from refined clay and other natural ingredients, fired in a kiln, and then glazed, left unfinished in its natural state, or doctored up to look like stone or wood. Actually a subset of ceramic tile (see below), it comes in many shapes and sizes, such as squares, planks, or penny round tiles. Earth tones like browns, beiges, and grays are the most common colors. Porcelain tile ranges in price from $3 to $7 per square foot, and it’s equally suitable for installation on the wall or floor (depending on the manufacturer’s friction, hardness and durability ratings).

The benefits of porcelain include its overall hardiness, its compatibility with radiant heating systems, the ability to install it yourself, and its resistance to liquid and stains—especially when glazed. Its drawbacks are its high price, as well as the necessity to cut it with a wet saw and diamond blade.

 

Ceramic and 4 Other Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

Photo: istockphoto.com

TYPE OF TILE: Ceramic
Ceramic tile can be found most often in kitchen and bathroom flooring. Made of less refined clay and fired at a lower temperature than porcelain, it’s softer, more porous, and not as dense or durable by comparison. These features result in a lower price point—usually from one dollar up to $5 or $7 per square foot. Ceramic tiles come both glazed and unglazed, and while they’re available in neutral tones, colored glazes can render a range of brighter colors. Most home stores carry ceramic tiles in square, subway-style, penny-round, or mosaic shapes.

The biggest pros of ceramic tiles are its durability, affordability, resistance to stain and scratches, and ease of cleaning and installation. Its biggest drawback is its fast absorption rate, meaning that floor spills will need to be cleaned quickly—especially if the tile is unglazed. Ceramic tile also isn’t compatible with radiant heating, and tends to feel cold and hard on feet.  Keep in mind that unglazed ceramic tiles should be sealed for better water resistance.

 

Quarry and 4 Other Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

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TYPE OF TILE: Quarry
Quarry tile is often mistaken for brick, and with good reason: they’re both rectangular in shape and typically red, brown, gray, or rust-colored. This unglazed tile is usually composed of clay, shale, and feldspar. It’s popular for flooring in high-traffic areas like the kitchen.

The biggest advantages to choosing this type of tile include affordability (only $3 to $5 per square foot!), durability, ease of cleaning, slip resistance, and a long lifespan even in areas of constant use. That said, its unglazed surface is a double-edged sword—while ideal for walking across, it tends to absorb liquids and stain easily. It’s also not particularly versatile from a design standpoint; if you want fancy patterns and lots of color, this isn’t the tile for you.

Pro Tip: If you plan to install this in the kitchen or high-traffic areas, make sure to properly seal it, too, in order to keep dirt and spills from marring the surface.

 

Natural Stone and 4 Other Types of Tile to Consider for Flooring, Walls, and Backsplashes

Photo: istockphoto.com

TYPE OF TILE: Natural Stone
Whether shopping for stunning walls or flooring, homeowners can choose from a wide range natural stone options, including marble, travertine, slate, granite, and limestone. These modern and timeless options are generally purchased as uneven slabs for wall tile and slightly irregular squares and rectangles for flooring. Due to the vast array of stone tile types on the market, they can run from $2 to $20 per square foot, with slate and travertine on the lower end of the range.

The biggest draw of natural stone is its sheer natural beauty, as well as its ability to keep rooms cool in warm weather and comply with radiant heating systems in cold climates. Its biggest drawback is its price, and other cons vary by stone type: Travertine wears rather easily over time, while marble is prone to staining and slate can be uneven when used underfoot.


7 Things to Know Before Installing Butcher Block Countertops

Just because it's one of the most affordable options doesn't always mean it's the best choice. Weigh these key considerations before updating your entire kitchen with butcher block countertops so you can feel confident in your decision.

Butcher Block Countertops Pros and Cons

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Gilbert, AZ

Butcher block, consisting of individual wooden strips fused together into a sleek slab, is a timeless and trendy material for kitchen countertops. But its warm tones and “country kitchen” vibes aside, there is a lot about the surface that homeowners don’t know—including real estimates on its cost and required maintenance. To find out if this material right for your kitchen, read through this comprehensive list of butcher block countertop pros and cons before committing to an installation.

PRO: Butcher block is one of the more affordable countertops.

Butcher block countertops will run you only $20 to $60 per square foot in materials. That beats the cost of most other popular options, including stainless steel ($20 to $150), glass ($25 to $100 per square foot), concrete ($25 to $75 per square foot), marble ($25 to $75 per square foot), and soapstone or limestone ($20 to $75 per square foot). You can save even more money by choosing a do-it-yourself installation over hiring pros to do the job, which would otherwise add $5 to $10 per square foot to the total cost. For handy homeowners, a DIY butcher block countertop installation isn’t tricky business, either: It entails cutting sheets of wood down to size with a circular saw, creating the necessary holes for sinks and other fixtures, then mounting the various segments over a cabinet with screws.

For context, let’s compare that to another trendy countertop material like quartz. Not only does this cost almost double in materials ($70 to $100 per square foot), but it’s generally not DIY-friendly—the countertop slab is too heavy for one person to lift, has to be cut with a wet saw, and can seriously damage surrounding surfaces in the home if dropped.

RELATED: 7 Countertop Materials You Can Actually Afford

CON: It’s ultra-sensitive to liquid.

You’ve likely been warned to keep wood out of the bathroom because of how it reacts to water. Wood can gather germs, grow mold, stain, or even warp in shape when exposed to moisture. To counteract these unwanted effects, you’ll need to seal your butcher block countertops immediately following installation and on a monthly basis afterward—one bit of maintenance more than non-porous countertop materials like glass, stainless steel, quartz, or ceramic tile take. Fortunately, all it takes is one to two coats of food-safe mineral oil or walnut oil applied with a soft cloth. These non-toxic sealants create barriers that keep spills collected on the surface and thus prevent water damage.

Every 10 years, or as needed when stains grow numerous, use sandpaper (start with 80- to 100-grit, then move up to 220-grit sandpaper as the surface smoothens) to sand away the old sealant. Re-oil the sanded surface to make it look like new.

 

Butcher Block Countertops Pros and Cons

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Phoenix, AZ

PRO: You can keep it spic-and-span with mere household cleaners.

While soap can streak or spot shiny glass or stainless countertops and acid-based cleaners can erode quartz countertops, both are safe to use on a butcher block. In other words, cleanup is not rocket science! For everyday cleaning of butcher block countertops, scrape off food debris with a plastic spatula, then use a dish sponge saturated in a solution of two cups warm water and one teaspoon dish soap to wipe away the residue. Vinegar works great as a stand-in for soap and water, capable of both cleaning and disinfecting the countertop. Need to banish a stain? Sprinkle table salt over the stain, then gently rub it with half of a lemon to remove it.

RELATED: 10 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Kitchen Ever

CON: Butcher block countertops ding easily.

Being softer and more yielding than glass, granite, and stone, butcher block countertops are more vulnerable to scratches and dents. One way that homeowners prematurely wear their butcher block countertops is by using them as cutting boards. Despite the name “butcher block,” you’d do well to resist the urge to chop directly on its surface. Knife blades can cause uneven wear on certain regions of your countertop, so use a dedicated cutting board for cooking prep work, instead. If a wayward knife stroke dents the countertop, sand down the dent with a fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit or greater) and then apply mineral oil to the spot. You can use this same solution to remove burn marks on the countertop left by a hot pot.

RELATED: DIY Lite – Craft a Homemade Cutting Board

 

Butcher Block Countertops Pros and Cons

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

PRO: You can have your pick of hardwood and grain.

Unlike uniform countertop materials like glass or stainless steel, butcher block allows you to customize the hue and pattern of your countertop through your choice of wood and wood grain. You can choose from a variety of hardwoods, each lending a distinct color and character to the countertops and your kitchen’s overall scheme. Teak and cherry wood confer a dark and dramatic effect; oak evokes a classic, colonial feel; and blonde bamboo is an excellent option for a modern (and sustainable) home.

You can further define the look of the space through your choice of wood grain, or the pattern visible on the surface of your butcher block countertop. The two primary types of grains are edge grain and end grain. the surface of edge grain butcher block resembles a series of long, lean strips like the sides of a 2×4. The surface of end grain butcher blocks looks like a checkerboard comprising the short ends of a 2×4.

CON: It expands or contracts as the temperature fluctuates.

As it does with water, wood swells or shrinks with changing temperatures. Homeowners can expect their butcher block countertops to expand by roughly one-eighth of an inch in summer and contract by the same amount in the winter. Now, if you don’t prepare for this by leaving enough room along the perimeter, the expansion could cause it to warp or crack.

The best way to create ventilation and wiggle room for your countertop is to install it over an open cabinet top (not over a solid underlayment) and leave one-eighth of an inch between the edges of the countertop and the walls if installing the countertop between two walls. If your cabinets have a solid top, mount furring strips above the cabinet top and then rest the countertop on top of the strips so that it has room to breathe.

RELATED: Don’t Make These 6 Common Mistakes in Your Kitchen Renovation

PRO: It can last for a couple of decades.

Follow the above tips on installation, sealing, and cleaning your butcher block countertops, and the surface should last for 20 years or longer. This gives it a major advantage over laminate countertops (which typically last for only 10 to 15 years before an inevitable replacement) and puts it on par with the ever-durable granite countertops (which also last at least 20 years).

If these butcher block countertop pros and cons leave you thinking that wood isn’t the best fit for your future kitchen, consider installing one of these other countertop materials.


Video: 6 Secret Uses for a Crockpot

Dust off that crockpot! It's time to see what this countertop appliance can really do.

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King of the kitchen, the crockpot is a culinary hero that can cook at your command on those days you’re simply too busy to stand over a hot stove. But did you know that in addition to simmering stew or melting game-day queso dip, the crockpot can also take care of a few household duties and fun DIY projects?

Take a look at this video to see some of the most interesting ways to use a crockpot and visit the link for even more crockpot ideas.

For more unusual ways to use everyday appliances, consider:

10 Things You Didn’t Know Your Microwave Can Do

10 Things a Coffee Maker Can Do—Besides Brew Coffee

11 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Clean in Your Washing Machine


Video: Your Coffee Maker Is More Versatile Than You Think

Who knew? This kitchen workhorse can cook up more than a cup of Joe.

The world is full of unitasker appliances—the rice cooker, the panini press, the juicer, the waffle iron. These clunky cookers work wonders in the kitchen but they take up a regrettable amount of space on countertops and in cupboards. But there’s one small appliance that must be excused from this list: the coffee maker.

Turns out home cooks were wrong to discount this countertop appliance as a one-hit wonder. In addition to brewing coffee, the coffee maker can cook a host of delicious dishes, if you have the time, patience, and curiosity to test the limits of its functionality.

For more interesting ways to use your appliances, consider:

11 Totally Unexpected Uses for a Crock-Pot

10 Things You Didn’t Know Your Microwave Can Do

Over a Dozen Things You Didn’t Know You Could Clean in the Dishwasher


Solved! What to Do When Your Refrigerator Stops Cooling

No need to toss—or eat—all of the chilled food before it goes bad. Any of these easy solutions can get your hardworking kitchen appliance running again.

Refrigerator Not Cooling? 7 DIY Fixes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: A can of soda that I just pulled out of my fridge is barely cool. I’ve also recently noticed that my milk isn’t as cold as it used to be. Why is my refrigerator not cooling these drinks properly? Do I have to call a repairman, or is there something I can do?

A: While some refrigerator cooling problems do require professional assistance, don’t call the repairman just yet. You might be able to fix the situation yourself. It’s certainly worth a shot, since the average professional service call can run $150 or more. Depending on what’s causing your fridge not to keep perishable foods cold enough, the following procedures might help.

Make sure your fridge is getting power. This might sound too simple to be the answer, but a power cord that has worked loose in its outlet or a flipped breaker will shut the entire fridge down. Open the door. If the light comes on, the fridge still has power and you can move on to the next possible problem-solution set. If the light doesn’t come on, make sure the power cord is plugged in firmly and check again. Still no light? Check your main electrical panel for a flipped breaker and switch it back on if necessary.

Check the refrigerator’s thermostat. New refrigerators usually come preset at a mid-range temperature, between 35 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit because that’s the optimal temperature range for a fridge in order to keep perishable foods safe. Thermostat dials inside the fridge can get bumped by cartons of milk or other items, though, which can change the set temperature. Even exterior digital thermostats can also be inadvertently changed by little fingers or if someone leans against the control panel, unknowingly changing the temperature. Many digital panels come with the ability to lock the settings for just that reason. Reset the temperature to the safe zone if necessary.

Refrigerator Not Cooling? 7 DIY Fixes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Test the seals on your fridge doors. Even if the rest of your refrigerator is working fine, if the magnetic seals on the doors—also called “door gaskets”—are defective, cool air from inside the fridge could be escaping. Door gaskets can get brittle over time, which reduces their ability to form a tight seal. Test the seal by putting a dollar bill halfway in the door and then close the door. If you feel resistance when you pull it out, the seal is still working, but if the bill slips out easily, you’ll need to replace the door gaskets. Replacing the gaskets is an easy enough project for eager do-it-yourselfers. Door gaskets range in price from around $45 dollars to $75, or more, depending on the brand and model of fridge. Check your owner’s manual to determine the correct replacement gaskets. Detailed DIY replacement instructions can be found in your owner’s manual or in the replacement gasket package.

Determine whether the refrigerator is level. A relatively new fridge on which the door seals are still supple can still leak air and fail the dollar bill test above when it’s out of level. If a refrigerator is lower on one side than the other, its heavy doors don’t always seal tightly. Set a carpenter’s level on top of the fridge and, if the bubble is not in the center of the glass tube, adjust the front legs of the fridge until it is. Most refrigerator legs can be adjusted with either a hex wrench or adjustable pliers—consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on how to level.

Clean the condenser coils. Your fridge comes with condenser coils that are filled with refrigerant. Over time, the coils—which are not in a sealed unit—can become caked with dust, hair, or pet fur, which reduces their ability to keep the air in the fridge cold. Fortunately, cleaning refrigerator coils is a relatively simple process, requiring only a coil condenser brush (about $10 at hardware stores) and a vacuum to suck up the loosened dust. If you find a lot of dust buildup on the coils, plan to clean them once or twice a year to keep your fridge cooling properly.

Check to make sure nothing’s blocking the air vents. Cold air circulates back and forth through vents that run between the refrigerator’s freezer compartment and the refrigerator compartment. If something blocks the airflow, it can result in inconsistent temperatures in the refrigerated compartment. Depending on the brand and model of your fridge, the vents could be located along the inside back wall or along a side wall. Check your owner’s manual if you have trouble locating them.

• Items crammed tightly against a vent can block airflow. A good rule of thumb is to keep plenty of food products in your fridge, which will help it maintain a cool temperature, but don’t pack it so tightly that air cannot circulate easily from shelf to shelf.

• Frost buildup in the freezer can also block a vent, reducing or preventing cold air from reaching the refrigerator compartment. If the freezer compartment is heavily frosted, unplug the fridge and open the freezer door to allow the frost to melt. Once it melts, plug the fridge back in and it should cool better. It can take an entire day for a heavily frosted freezer to defrost, so plan to store your perishable food items in a neighbor’s fridge, if possible.

If all else fails, call a repairman. At this point, the cause of the problem may be a defective mechanical component. While replacing some components on a refrigerator are not too difficult, pinpointing the exact cause of the problem can be tricky and requires the use of electrical testing equipment. The compressor, the compressor fan, or the defrost thermostat may have to be replaced, which should be undertaken by a licensed professional. If your fridge is still under warranty, attempting to replace components yourself may void its warranty.