Category: Walls & Ceilings


Solved! The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Whether you're stuck dealing with temporary, strippable, or vinyl wallpapers, we've got the easiest methods to bring them down and bare your walls once again.

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q. We’ve just moved into our new home, and the previous owners have left behind a wallpaper print in the bathroom that has got to go. Unfortunately, we have no idea how long it’s been in place—or what to expect when taking it down. What’s the best way to remove wallpaper?

While scraping away the glued-on paper of years past may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. The right tools and technique can greatly ease the amount of work you have to do. Of course, the exact tools and the best way to remove wallpaper will depend on what type of paper is up on your walls. Follow these tips to determine the wall covering your dealing with—removable, strippable, or vinyl wallpaper—and how to remove the specific style.

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

Before you begin, cover your floors. Protect your precious hardwood or plush carpeting with drop cloths (non-slip canvas works best) and cover the baseboards with wide painter’s tape. You’ll want to ensure that no peeled wallpaper strips or glue residue accidentally touches and sticks to these features as it comes down from the wall.

Locate a corner of the patterned paper, and give it a tug. If it’s removable wallpaper (also called temporary wallpaper), it was designed to come down easily. As long as the wall beneath the paper was painted in an eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss with a slight sheen—and then properly prepped and cleaned before installation—the paper should release from the wall with a careful pull at any of its seams. Stand on a ladder and use a putty knife to unstick the top left corner of the wall (likely the first sheet of wallpaper to be installed). Once you have enough of the perimeter lifted to grasp, take the sheet between your fingers to continue removing it. If you like the pattern enough to place it elsewhere within the house, aim to pull the wallpaper directly down rather than out from the wall in order to prevent curling and bending it. After you’ve repeated this process with each sheet, wipe the wall with a damp cloth to remove any glue marks left behind. With that, your surface is ready to be repapered or painted in any color you choose.

However, since removable wallpaper only recently emerged as a trend for homeowners and apartment renters alike, there’s a chance that this is not the type of wallpaper on your walls. If your careful attempts to peel didn’t do the trick, you may be dealing with strippable or vinyl varieties, each of which requires a different approach.

If stuck on, spray down with hot water. Strippable paper is more permanent but permeable, meaning that the water can seep through and soften the paste for easy removal when the time comes. You’ll work one section at a time, so use your first patch as an opportunity to test whether you’re working on strippable stuff. (Alternatively, if hot water alone does no good, it could be that you’re looking at water-resistant vinyl. In that case, proceed to the next method outlined below.) Simply fill a hand or pump sprayer and dampen the first panel thoroughly with hot water. After allowing it a few minutes to absorb, try peeling the panel back at its top left corner. If the paper lifts, great! Proceed one panel at a time until the wall is bare, washing the walls with warm water and a large noncellulose sponge frequently as you go to remove residual glue. Otherwise, any glue dries will require rewetting and a little extra elbow grease to remove later.

For truly stubborn vinyl wallpaper, score it and try again. To get through the water-resistant vinyl and affect the glue itself, the best way to remove wallpaper begins with rolling a scoring tool over the wall—from corner to corner and from floor to ceiling—in a random pattern. This tool’s tiny teeth create small slits that allow the liquid to seep in and loosen the glue. Then, give your supply of hot water a boost to help dissolve the glue by mixing 1/4 cup liquid fabric softener per gallon of water into your hand or pump sprayer. Heavily saturate with the solution one section of wall at a time starting at the top left and working your way down. After 10 to 15 minutes, you can start peeling back damp wallpaper where the wall meets the ceiling. You should have luck removing large pieces now that the glue has softened, but keep a wall scraper handy to shave away strips of paper that do not come off in one continuous strip. Continue spraying the hot solution onto the wall as needed, and you’ll spend less effort scraping. When you do use the scraper, take care to hold the tool so its blade is nearly parallel to the wall when you work so that you have few gouges to repair when you’re all finished.

 

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

Once the wallpaper is lifted, scrub away the residual glue. Removable wallpapers leave minimal residue behind, but could still use a cleaning. To tackle most other glues, you’ll need a bucket of hot water, liquid dish soap, and a table of baking soda—as well as an extra cup of vinegar for every gallon of water on standby if the adhesive is particularly stubborn. Soak a sponge and ring out most of the water before rubbing the solution into the sticky leftovers. Once the adhesive softens enough to scrape away with your fingernails, wipe as much as you can away with a clean rag and scrape the tough stuff with a putty knife. Clear the adhesive until not a speck remains—even one lump can mar the appearance of a fresh paint job—and finish with a quick and easy clean.

 

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.


The Right Way to Fill Nail Holes

With the right tool and the perfect technique, you can hide all signs of the gallery wall, coat hooks, or wall-mounted shelves that once hung in your home—and regain smooth, unblemished walls.

How to Fix Nail Holes with a HYDE® 2” SuperFlexx Stainless Steel Putty Knife

Photo: hydetools.com

If you’re reluctant to rearrange the pictures on your walls because you dread dealing with the nail holes left behind, you’re in good company. Filling nail holes can be challenging, particularly if you’re trying to completely erase any trace of the fasteners. Those dimples left by well-intended spackling jobs can haunt us long after the gallery wall comes down. But take heart: With the right tools and techniques, you can have seamlessly smooth walls once more—and you’ll never again fear relocating pictures, calendars, clocks, or even wall-mounted shelves.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Spackling paste (for nail holes in drywall)
- Wood filler compound (for nail holes in wood)
- 220-grit sanding block
- HYDE® 2” SuperFlexx Stainless Steel Putty Knife

STEP 1: Sand the surface. 
Prepping properly before you even start spackling is key to removing all traces of former holes. When you hammer a nail into drywall, some of the chalky gypsum material inside the drywall panel is displaced and has a tendency to push outward, forming a small ridge around the nail hole. Wood, on the other hand, has a tendency to splinter a bit around the nail. In either case, if you simply fill the nail hole, the area might look smooth to the eye for now, but the bump will stick out like a sore thumb once you paint it.

To prepare the surface, lightly swipe a fine, 220-grit sanding block over the nail hole to sand away ridges. Work in a circular motion over drywall. When sanding wood, however, always sand in the direction of the wood grain to keep from leaving cross-sanding marks.

How to Fix Nail Holes with a HYDE® 2” SuperFlexx Stainless Steel Putty Knife

Photo: hydetools.com

STEP 2: Choose the right hand tools.
For a small-scale spackling job, you’ll need to select a putty knife with a little bit of give in its blade, like HYDE’s 2” SuperFlexx Stainless Steel Putty Knife. The slight flexibility facilitates easy spreading as you pull the spackling over the hole. The bottom section of the blade glides at an angle along the wall surface, helping to push the compound into the hole and reducing the risk of scratching the surface with the corners of the blade (which can happen if you’re using a rigid blade). Plus, the tool’s stainless steel is impervious to rust. In fact, if you neglect to wipe it down immediately after the job, simply give it a small bend, and any dried leftover compound will fall right off.

STEP 3: Select and spread the compound.
Though similar in application, different patching compounds are formulated for use on different surfaces. Make sure you select the right one for the job.

For drywall, pick up a good-quality spackling paste (your choice of either the premixed stuff, which comes in a small tub, or a dry powder that you’ll combine with water) to fill the holes.

For wood, choose a wood filler that’s formulated for the surface at hand. Basic wood filler compounds work in situations where you’re planning on painting over the surface later to hide the obviously discolored patch. For bare wood that will be stained or wood used in an exterior project, look for compounds that are specifically labeled for the intended use.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate product, scoop up a roughly dime-size dollop of spackling paste or filler, and smooth it across the nail hole using the 2″ SuperFlexx Stainless Steel Putty Knife—not your fingers, however tempting that may be. Smoothing with your hands will leave the spackled hole with a slight depression because your digits are not perfectly flat.

The best method involves two swipes: one either sideways or downward to fill the hole with compound, followed by a second swipe back in the opposite direction to wipe away the excess. If you find that your second swipe across the nail hole leaves streaks of spackling paste on the wall or wood, you’ve probably used more paste than necessary; take note and scoop up a little less the next time.

Once the spackling paste has dried completely (the time varies by brand), lightly sand the area with a fine-grit sanding block. Remember: Move in a circular pattern when sanding drywall, and follow the grain when sanding wood.

STEP 4: Apply a second layer of compound.
Some spackling and wood filler compounds shrink more than others, but it’s difficult to see the shrinkage until the wall has been painted. For that reason, it’s best to apply another thin layer even if you think the first application filled the hole completely. Follow the same two-swipe method described in Step 3, then let the compound dry for the recommended amount of time.

Note: Some spackling paste is advertised as “paintable when wet,” but it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you don’t give it a chance to dry, you can’t sand it, and without sanding, you can’t be sure the wall is completely free of leftover bumps or depressions that would draw attention to your spackling job.

STEP 5: Prepare for paint with one last sanding.
Lightly sand the area around the hole to eliminate any excess compound from your second application, and then inspect the hole itself. The paste should only fill the hole and not extend past its edges. If you see extra filler, take care of it with some spot sanding; otherwise, you’re all set! Paint the drywall or wooden surface, and forget about those holes for good.

 

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


All You Need to Know About Popcorn Ceilings

Remove, redo, or even create this once-popular bumpy texture to jazz up any room in your home.

SHARES
Popcorn Ceilings in the Dining Area

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Scottsdale, AZ

Half a century ago, popcorn ceilings were all the rage, cropping up above brightly colored walls, psychedelic patterns, and shiny furniture. Less expensive than traditional hand-troweled plaster, the sprayed-on technique—which actually resembles cottage cheese more than popcorn—camouflaged ceiling imperfections, offered a measure of fire-resistance, and provided noise-dampening benefits. These days, the speckled ceiling design tends to date a room’s style. Fortunately, whether you want to get rid of a popcorn ceiling altogether or bring new life to the retro look, you’ve got options.

Understand the Asbestos Issue
First thing’s first: Before attempting any sort of project on an existing popcorn ceiling, a homeowner should determine whether its material makeup may pose a health risk. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral, was the material of choice for popcorn ceilings until the substance was banned as a health hazard in 1978. Manufacturers switched to paper fiber that year, but suppliers continued to sell existing stores of asbestos-laced material. That means that popcorn ceilings installed as late as the mid-’80s could contain asbestos, and, when disturbed, disperse microscopic fibrils known to cause lung-scarring illnesses and even lung cancer if inhaled.

You can test a popcorn ceiling for the presence of asbestos by carefully scraping a small sample into a plastic bag and having it tested at an EPA-accredited lab. While homeowners are allowed to remove a popcorn ceiling that contains the material, a professional asbestos remediation company should do the job. Contact your local waste authority before having asbestos removed to determine the best (and legal) way to dispose of it.

Patch It Up
A popcorn ceiling damaged by unsightly stains or cracks can be patched, but obtaining an exact match of the original texture and ceiling color can be challenging. Popcorn ceiling patch products are available in spray-on aerosol cans or in premixed containers for application with a brush. Thinned drywall compound, which is commonly used to texture new ceilings today, is not recommended for patching popcorn ceiling texture since it contains water, which can cause the existing popcorn texture to come off.

Painting Popcorn Ceilings

Photo: istockphoto.com

Give It a Fresh Coat
As long as the texture isn’t sagging, flaking, or shedding, a popcorn ceiling can simply be painted to update the look. Begin by brushing off all dust with a super-soft-bristle brush attached to an extension pole. Then apply stain blocking ceiling primer to prevent stains and water spots from bleeding through. When dry, use a thick nap roller or a paint sprayer to apply paint, remembering to get an ample supply to fill all the nooks and crannies.

Cover It Up
You can hide a popcorn ceiling by installing rigid foam ceiling tiles, drywall panels, or even wood planking right over the existing texture. Feather-light decorative foam ceiling panels can be installed with adhesive, while drywall and wood must be attached to the ceiling joists with nails or screws. For high ceilings more than 8 feet from the floor, you might want to consider installing a drop ceiling, which involves mounting a metal grid that holds individual ceiling panels a few inches below the existing ceiling.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings

Photo: instructables.com via Sonata85

Scrape It Off
Unpainted popcorn ceilings are not necessarily difficult to remove, but the process is messy and time-consuming. After spraying the ceiling with water to saturate the texture, which causes it to release, it’s simply a matter of scraping it away with a large putty knife or taping trowel.

If a popcorn ceiling has been painted, water won’t saturate the texture beneath; you’ll need to apply a stripping product. You can find stripping solutions specifically designed to remove painted popcorn ceilings at your local home improvement center. These solutions, which often come in gel form to reduce drips, can be rolled or brushed on. After giving the solution adequate time to soften the paint and texture, you’ll proceed to scrape both away with a wide trowel.

This tends to be a nasty, dirty, potentially dangerous task, so gear up appropriately: Wear a facemask, eye protection, and old clothing that you can dispose of when the job is done. Keep the texture constantly wet to prevent the distribution of fibers, which can present a health risk if inhaled.

Popcorn Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Give Your Ceiling New Popcorn Pizzazz
Homeowners intent on hiding ceiling imperfections with subtle popcorn texture are in luck: Today’s popcorn ceiling material is asbestos-free and easy to apply with a hopper gun, often available for rent at the lumberyards and DIY centers that sell the product. It comes in dry powder form and is mixed with water per package instructions.  To protect from overspray, remove furnishings, drape walls in plastic sheeting, and use a drop cloth on the floor. Popcorn texture comes in standard ceiling-white and, for a uniform look, it’s a good idea to prime the ceiling before spraying it on. The texture is also paintable, so if you want a color other than ceiling-white, plan on painting over the texture after it dries.


All You Need to Know About Shiplap

Shiplap can add rustic charm to any blank wall. Learn more about the trendy wooden planks and how you can install them in your own home.

SHARES
All You Need to Know About Shiplap

Photo: airbnb.com

Shiplap has been popping up everywhere lately. The rough-sawn wooden planks arranged as horizontal panels can take any wall from drab to dramatic. Homeowners love the rustic texture of shiplap as well as the ease of installation and budget-friendliness of the project. What’s more, shiplap works with any existing style of decor—from cozy cottage to beach bungalow. If you’re interested in installing shiplap in your home, consider the following tips and tricks.

WHAT IS SHIPLAP?

Shiplap paneling takes its name from the horizontal planks once used to construct boats. Thanks to the grooves cut into the top and bottom of the boards, builders could fit shiplap panels tightly together to keep out the water. In fact, shiplap boards were so effective that builders began adapting the material for use as exterior sheathing on homes to block cold winds. Until the advent of plywood, shiplap boards were commonly used to construct the sheathing between a home’s structural framing and its exterior siding.

Nowadays, people often find shiplap sheathing underneath the siding of historic homes during exterior renovation projects. The wooden planks, which are highly coveted as reclaimed construction materials, can be carefully salvaged and brought indoors for use as decorative wall coverings. Homeowners looking for an affordable alternative to traditional shiplap may choose to mimic the look by installing long boards ripped from sheets of plywood, leaving slight spaces (the standard gap is 1/8 inch) between each panel.

 

All You Need to Know About Shiplap

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Chattanooga, TN

CREATING CHARACTER

When used indoors, shiplap shifts from functional to purely aesthetic. The wood panels add visual character and texture to otherwise blank walls in a home, and have the ability to adapt to any decorative scheme, depending on how the homeowner chooses to incorporate the material. For example, crisp white shiplap paired with natural wood flooring and neutral accents creates a fresh Cape Cod look. Similarly, a shiplap wall accented with a ruffled slipcovered sofa, soft pillows in muted floral shades, and painted wicker end tables can evoke a romantic feeling. Alternatively, homeowners can achieve Scandinavian style by pairing natural wood panels with equally simple furnishings. No matter your home’s style, installing shiplap paneling on one or more walls will enhance your decor.

For more adventurous designers, shiplap can go beyond standard wall coverings. Consider installing it as wainscoting, or use it to cover the backs of built-in cubbies or bookcases. Shiplap can also frame a designated picture-hanging area above a fireplace.

 

All You Need to Know About Shiplap

Photo: airbnb.com

INSTALLING YOUR OWN

While you don’t need to be a professional carpenter to install shiplap paneling at home, you should be familiar with basic woodworking skills like measuring, sawing, and nailing. The most common (and affordable) way to re-create a shiplap look from scratch is to use plywood. Look for ¾-inch AC plywood (which is pre-sanded on one side) and avoid the cheapest variety of plywood (which is rough on both sides and has a tendency to chip). A 4×8 sheet sells for around $30—that’s just under $1 per square foot of a wall.

You’ll need a saw to cut the ends of the boards to fit your space, and you’ll also need a power sander and nail gun. Other necessary materials include a level, a chalk line, spacers, spackle, and paint to finish the look in a neutral of your choice. Once you’ve equipped yourself with the required tools and materials, installation will follow these seven stages.

• Cutting the Boards: Before installing the plywood boards, you’ll need to “rip” them (cut them parallel to the grain) to the correct width, either using a table saw to do it yourself, or by seeking the help of employees at the hardware store where you purchased the wood. Any width of board can be ripped from a sheet of plywood, but 5-7/8 inches is a safe starting point for shiplap panels. This cut will give you exactly eight 8-foot-long boards from every sheet of plywood (because the saw eats ⅛ inch with every cut).

• Sanding the Boards: The surface of AC plywood is smooth, but the edges require sanding since they’ll be rough from the ripping process. For the best results, sand sufficiently to create a slight bevel on the edge of the boards. This is called “sanding a chamfer.”

• Painting the Boards: Apply a first coat of paint before placing the boards on your wall, because the gaps between the installed boards will be too narrow to fit even a detail paintbrush once the boards have been attached to the wall.

• Prepping the Wall: Remove everything from the wall, including outlet covers, pictures, and any baseboard at the bottom of the wall. If you’re installing the shiplap boards around a door, take off the door casing and reinstall it after the shiplap is in place. Next, create a visual guide for nailing the boards into the wall studs, which will offer the best support for the weight of the wood panels. To do so, locate the center of each wall stud with a stud finder and pop a vertical chalk line at every stud, from the bottom of the wall to the top.

• Attaching the First Board: Attach the bottom board to the wall with two 2-inch nails in every wall stud. The entire design depends on the first board’s being perfectly level; if the panel is even a few centimeters off, the entire wall will appear slanted. Rely on a level to install the boards carefully and accurately.

• Spacing the Boards: Enlist spacers to create uniform gaps (typically 1/8 inch) between each board. You can use any type of spacer you’d like, such as the edge of a carpenter’s square or tile spacers. Make sure that you position each board using the same spacer so the boards appear evenly spaced.

• Attaching the Other Boards: Attach the rest of the boards to the wall with two 2-inch nails in every wall stud, aligned vertically and evenly spaced. Don’t skip studs. For a more rustic look, you can hand-nail with 8d nails, which will leave visible nailheads. Use finish nails for a smooth look.

• Finishing the Look: If you used finish nails, fill the nail holes with spackle. Let them dry and then sand the surface lightly with 400-grit sandpaper before brushing a final coat of paint on the surface of the boards. Since you have already painted the edges, you shouldn’t have to paint them again—touching up the surface should be sufficient. Let the paint dry, then proceed to fill the newly shiplap-covered walls with framed artwork, mirrors, and other decorative accents—whatever you’d like!

 

All You Need to Know About Shiplap

Photo: airbnb.com


Genius! How to Disguise an Ugly Thermostat

Try one DIYer's simple, state-of-the-art solution to hide the eyesore of thermostats and other bulky wall-mounted consoles.

SHARES
Picture Hiding Thermostat

Photo: onekingslane.com

Megan Pflug‘s gallery wall was a near masterpiece except for one niggling imperfection. A glaring white programmable thermostat, previously installed smack dab in the middle of the wall, stood out like a sore thumb against the rich peacock blue backdrop. Though the drab device cramped the hallway’s aesthetics, ripping out the indispensable indoor unit wasn’t an option. The professional interior designer needed a more practical—and more artful—alternative for hiding a thermostat while retaining access to its utility.

A lover of fine art, the one-woman business owner found the solution for her decorative dilemma at a nearby antique store: a vintage oil painting framed by a wooden stretcher. The canvas stretcher was deep enough that it could completely cover the slim box of a thermostat while blending with the collection of wall hangings already in place. Enlisting a screwdriver and a few short screws, she secured one side of a large hinge to the stretcher bar behind the right edge of the painting; the second half screwed into a set of wall anchors in the drywall to the right of the thermostat to keep the hefty artwork hanging in place. Mounted on a hinge rather than a standard nail or photo hook, she could now conveniently swing the loose edge of the painting out or in rather than remove the canvas completely in order to gain access to the thermostat—or hide it—at a moment’s notice.

Dealing with eyesores of your own? Megan’s high-art yet low-effort cover-up is versatile enough to hide either nail holes or technological intrusions on the wall, whether that be an errant fuse box, security system console, or an ancient thermostat that dates the otherwise modern design of your home but isn’t ready for a replacement. Hang other eye-catching paintings or portraits alongside the picturesque thermostat cover, and no one will be any the wiser.

FOR MORE: One Kings Lane

Hinged Picture Hiding Thermostat

Photo: onekingslane.com


The Best Way to Heat a Home with High Ceilings

Don't get left in the cold when you step into a lofty room! Upgrading to radiant floor heating will keep any size space cozy and comfortable.

Heating a Room with High Ceilings - Warmboard Parquet Wood Floor

Photo: warmboard.com

As summer heat gives way to fall’s cooler temperatures, daily activities—from dinners to DIY projects—migrate back indoors. But really, how much more comfortable are you indoors with your current home heating system? Sure, being inside provides shelter from the elements, but it doesn’t always guarantee a consistent temperature (even when you’ve properly sealed off all air leaks to the outdoors). When you still have to bundle up before walking across your home’s icy floors or need to curl up with a blanket to work comfortably, you may wonder, What am I paying so much each month to heat? The answer is, you’re probably paying most to heat the ceiling and second floor rather than your primary living space. Settling for uneven temperatures or a heating system that underperforms isn’t the only option. Instead, consider a more direct, dependable, and energy-efficient alternative: radiant heat.

Heating a Room with High Ceilings

Photo: istockphoto.com

Radiant-heating systems aren’t new. In fact, ancient Korea used controlled fires to heat air chambers under floors and behind walls. Fast-forward a few thousand years, and the highly evolved innovative materials and designs behind today’s modern systems are capable of providing efficient, uniform heat that offers numerous advantages over traditional HVAC systems. Their silent, dust-free operation eliminates allergy problems often associated with heating ducts while distributing even heat underfoot. And, on top of all these benefits, radiant heating built into your home’s flooring aims to keep the living space comfortable—no matter how tall the ceiling.

Why Forced Air Falls Short
If you currently rely on forced-air heat and are fed up with its less-than-stellar performance, don’t be too quick to put all the blame on your heating system. The way your home is designed plays a part in how efficiently (or inefficiently) the rooms warm up. Think back to your elementary school science lessons, and remember: Hot air rises. When your forced-air heating system pushes heat out of its vents, the heat naturally rises toward the ceiling. Your rooms become cozily warm at the top, but remain chilly down below, where you do your actual living. 

To cope, shivering homeowners may move closer to the nearest vent or resort to cranking up the thermostat to achieve a comfortable temperature at ground level, producing more heat than actually necessary and ultimately costing more money to do so. For rooms with standard 9-foot ceilings, this law of science is simply an inconvenience; but in the case of high ceilings, upwards of 12 feet, it can be costly. In a two-story house, the result is too much heat upstairs, and the only solution is to open some windows to let the heat (the heat that you’ve just paid for) escape the house. What’s a homeowner to do?

Concentrating Heat Where You Need It Most
While forced-air systems push heat into a room in cycles, unaffected surrounding surfaces can remain cool to the touch and actually steal warmth from your body, leaving you chilly despite the fact that your heating system is working overtime. Radiant floor heating systems, on the other hand, are designed to deliver even heat throughout your rooms by radiating constant warmth from beneath your flooring. The process warms the cooler areas it encounters first—the floor, the furniture, and the people occupying the living space. Because radiant heat warms objects in the room as well as people, you won’t be giving up body heat to, say, that favorite chair of yours. It, too, will emit a welcoming warmth when you sit down, rather than cause you to reach for the nearest woolen blanket.

Choosing the Most Efficient Radiant System
Before committing to an upgraded heating setup, be it in that one lofty room or your whole house, working knowledge of the systems can help you optimize your energy savings with this already highly efficient system. Radiant floor heating travels through flexible hydronic tubes or electric coils installed either inside or adjacent to panels laid beneath your flooring material of choice. The system’s energy source and materials do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and considerably impact the energy efficiency of this heating system.

Hydronic radiant floor systems lower fuel bills by utilizing a boiler to heat water within a network of tubes beneath your home flooring to relatively low temperatures. Because the whole floor receives even heat, the water doesn’t have to be as hot as what might run through a conventional radiator.

For best possible heat transfer, panels should be made with a very conductive material—aluminum is the most common. Depending on the specific alloy, aluminum can conduct heat 232 times more efficiently than lightweight gypsum concrete, a standard alternative. Put simply, a material that offers better heat transfer means you’ll get more heat, more quickly, and for less energy (and less money). The thin, highly conductive panels produced by industry leader Warmboard require the least energy to operate of any radiant-heating system, providing the same comfort as competing systems while the water in the hydronic tubes can be more than 30 degrees lower than the others. That alone translates into a 10 to 20 percent savings in your monthly energy bills compared to other radiant options!

Whether you are building a brand-new home with a bold design or already live with the luxury of high ceilings, you can ensure affordable everyday comfort by opting for radiant floor heating. Even if the ceiling heights in your home extend only slightly above average, there are enough compelling reasons to choose radiant heat—its ease on allergies, quiet operation, and seasonal energy savings—that the system shines in lofty areas and smaller home additions alike. Install a state-of-the-art radiant-heating system, and you and your family will enjoy its benefits for years to come.

 

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


How To: Spackle a Wall

Here’s a quick, easy way to repair minor damage to plaster and gypsum board surfaces.

How to Spackle - Repairing Wall Holes

Photo: dreamstime.com

Maybe there was a mishap while moving a major appliance. Or perhaps someone hung some pictures the old-fashioned way by (gasp!) hammering nails rather than relying on damage-free wall mounting strips. Whatever the cause, you’re now facing small dings, dents, and gouges to your plaster or gypsum board walls. The fastest fix is to use spackle compound—a type of putty not to be confused with drywall or joint compound, which are applied similarly but generally used to remedy larger, properly reinforced holes. What’s great about spackle compound is it dries quickly and shrinks minimally, allowing you to patch minor damage without waiting 24 hours before repainting. Nail down precisely how to spackle, and you’ll make short work of all future wall repair.

SUMMARY

  1. To repair a small hole, opt for pre-mixed spackle. Larger holes? Use a product that includes acrylic.
  2. Ready the repair area both by cleaning it and by removing any loose debris around the perimeter.
  3. With a putty knife, use slightly angled, downward strokes to apply spackle to the hole.
  4. Scrape away any excess product, once you have finished fully covering the repair area with spackle.
  5. Let the compound dry, then assess your work, applying another course of spackle if necessary.
  6. Sand the repair with fine-grit sandpaper and clear away any dust with a cloth or sponge.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Putty knife (larger than the area that needs repair)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Spackle compound
- Clean cloth or sponge

How to Spackle - Putty Knife

Photo: dreamstime.com

STEP 1
First, pick your compound. Spackle compound comes two ways: in a convenient pre-mixed paste or in powdered form that you’ll mix with water for proper consistency. Pre-mixed compound is sold in “lightweight” and “all purpose” varieties. The former, which includes a vinyl binding agent, is best for small holes in areas that aren’t vulnerable to future damage; the latter includes acrylic and is suitable for voids as wide as 3/4 inch. Both vinyl and acrylic add elasticity to minimize shrinkage.

STEP 2
Prepare the area you plan to spackle to enhance the putty’s sticking power. Use the putty knife or fine-grit sandpaper to clean all debris from in and around the hole and make the surface as smooth as possible.

STEP 3
Time to mix and apply to the hole in the wall! The type of putty you picked up will determine how to prep the spackle. If you purchased powdered spackle compound, mix it with small amounts of water until it reaches a thick yet easy-to-spread consistency. Prepare a small batch—you can always mix more if you need it. Pre-mixed compound is generally good to go, but stir it well if you’re using a previously opened container. (Always close the lid after getting what you need so the paste doesn’t dry out.)

Dip the edge of the putty knife into the spackling compound and scoop out a bit more than what you’ll need to fill the hole. Hold the putty-loaded knife slightly above the damage site at a slight angle and apply with a downward motion to patch.

STEP 4
When the hole is filled, hold the knife at a 90-degree angle to scrape away excess, taking care not to pull the putty from the hole. Don’t strive for perfection here as you spackle the wall; you’ll sand it smooth once dry. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe residual compound from the wall next to the repair site.

STEP 5
Review your work after about two hours, when the compound should be dry. If the patch seems to be recessed, the paste shrank a bit as it dried. (Holes deeper than ¼ inch often need more than one application.) Repeat the previous steps, this time leaving a slight mound that you’ll sand off later. Wait another two hours.

STEP 6
Once your spackle compound is dry, lightly sand the repaired area with fine-grit sandpaper until it’s flush with the surrounding wall. Use the cloth to wipe away any dust.

Now that you’ve mastered how to spackle this gouge and nearly any other dings to come, simply prime and paint the patched area until it fully blends in with the surrounding wall. A seamless look, in a snap!


How To: Remove Baseboard

Try a new way of taking off existing floor molding without damaging it—or your walls. Armed with this innovative tool and a novel technique, you'll make fast, clean, and easy work of the task.

How to Remove Baseboard

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether you’re planning on replacing a floor or simply wanting to change up the style of trim in a room, your project to-do list will likely start with removal of the baseboard, that strip of wood or plastic that covers the joint between the walls and floor, as well as any shoe molding that may be present. Particularly if you want to save money by reusing the same baseboard over a new floor, it’s important to free the trim without damaging it—and without scratching, denting, or gouging the walls. At one time, achieving such precision required a number of outmoded tools, hard work, lots of patience, and extra time and money spent repairing holes and replacing damaged trim. Now, with the help of an impressively simple new tool called the Trim Puller, obtaining a pro-quality job is a total snap, saving you time and money along the way.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 6-inch utility knife
- Caulk remover (optional)
- Trim Puller
- Hammer or mallet
- Side-cutting pliers (optional)

How to Remove Baseboard - Trim Puller

Photo: trimpuller.com

STEP 1
Examine the baseboards and determine the type of wall paint used in the room. Latex paint creates a seal between trim and walls, so if that’s what was used, take a 6-inch utility knife (or, in a pinch, a 5-in-1 painter’s tool) and carefully score along the length of the seam where the baseboard meets the wall so that you avoid pulling off any wall color.

Tip: If you notice caulking along the top edge of the baseboard, apply caulk remover to the seam before scoring.

STEP 2
Loosen the pins or finishing nails that hold the baseboard to the walls. In the past, this task involved inserting a putty knife between the baseboard and the wall and giving it a twist. Now, you can instead enlist the Trim Puller, an ergonomic new tool that incorporates a 15-degree center wedge that’s designed for easy, efficient extraction, just perfect for this delicate process.

Starting at one end of the strip of baseboard, position the Trim Puller’s front face against the wall with the sharp edge on the scored seam. Next, strike the top of the Trim Puller with a hammer or mallet, driving the device between the baseboard and the wall. You will notice that the integrated center wedge automatically begins separating the baseboard from the wall, minimizing the work and speeding the process along. The Trim Puller’s comfortable EPDM rubber handle absorbs the impact vibration of the hammer, making the job pain-free!

STEP 3
Once you’ve wedged the Trim Puller between the trim and the wall, gently twist or pull to slightly separate the two. Continue along the wall in 12-inch increments, increasing the gap as you move toward the end of the wall until the baseboard is free.

If you’ve ever damaged trim, wall, or flooring while using a chunky, clunky crowbar or pry bar to remove baseboard, or sweated to insert a shim just right to keep those dings and dents at bay, you’ll really appreciate the ease and efficiency of the Trim Puller. It features a larger, flatter, and wider contact area than offered by older tools used for removing trim, and it boasts three contact points instead of one to make the job quicker and cleaner.

Voilà! Three simple steps later, your walls will be in fine shape, and the freed-up baseboard—once you get rid of any remaining pins or finishing nails with the claw end of a hammer or side-cutting pliers—will be ready for reuse so you can wrap up your weekend project.

This post has been brought to you by Zenith Industries. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Dos and Don’ts of Repairing Drywall

Got a gouge in that gypsum board? Fix it the right way with these tips!

Repairing Drywall - Cracked Wall

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drywall is tough, but it’s not indestructible. Over time, gypsum-board walls can sustain ugly cracks or holes. Fortunately, drywall is fairly easy to repair, but there is an art to it. Here’s what to do—and what to avoid—when fixing drywall damage so it’s indiscernible to landlords, homebuyers, or visitors.

Repairing Drywall

Photo: istockphoto.com

DO use the right stuff.

When repairing minor scratches or dents smaller than ½ inch across, fill them with a thin layer of joint compound (also known as drywall mud). Apply using a 3- to 4-inch putty knife made for drywall work—rather than, say, the kind of narrow utility knife you’d use for wood putty—smoothing the filler till it’s flush with the wall. Cracks or holes larger than ½ inch require reinforcing mesh prior to spackling. If you apply joint compound directly to large gouges, the damage will reappear as the house settles and the joint compound dries and crumbles.

DON’T waste time.

Avail yourself of pre-made products designed to simplify repair tasks. Patch kits with reinforced center panels and self-adhesive tape work great for smaller holes. A drywall compound and primer combo (such as 3M Patch Plus Primer) leaves a surface that’s ready to paint.

DO remember neatness counts.

Use a box cutter or other sharp blade to cut random strands of mesh tape or frayed edges of wallboard paper around holes or cracks before applying joint compound. Otherwise your finished work will show bumps and other blemishes.

DON’T cut the cords.

Be safe and don’t cut into a wall to repair a hole until you verify that electrical cords and plumbing lines aren’t running through the cabinet behind it. If the hole is just a few inches wide, shine a flashlight into it to see what’s there. If you must enlarge the hole, carefully cut horizontally with a drywall saw—but avoid going deeper than an inch. It’s safe to assume that hot wires will be present near an electrical outlet, but don’t bet your life—or life savings—that homebuilders or renovators followed all electrical and plumbing codes. Wires and pipes are often found where they don’t belong.

DO keep it light.

Less is generally more when it comes to joint compound. A thin coat is easier to sand, and you’ll be less likely to remove too much while sanding and expose the patch. Also, for joint compound to appear flush with the wall near the damage site, “feather” the mud as you apply it. Hold the knife at a 70-degree angle, pressing harder on the outer edges of the mud as you move away from the center.

DON’T skimp on sanding.

If you cut corners on sanding, the repair site will be noticeable, so take your time. Once the repaired area is dry, use a fine-grit (100 or 120) sandpaper. After the first round of sanding, add a second layer of mud, spreading it about 2 inches beyond the boundaries of the first layer. Once dry, re-sand.

DO use protection.

The fine particulate of drywall compound could injure your lungs if inhaled. So always wear a dust mask when sanding drywall compound. Disposable gloves are also a good idea to protect your hands from the dehydrating effects of gypsum dust.

DON’T forget to inspect.

Think you’re done? Not so fast! Run your hands over the repair to ensure that it feels smooth. Then, with your temple against the wall, look for humps that might need more sanding.

Repairing Drywall - with Spackle

Photo: istockphoto.com

Once you’re satisfied with the look and feel of your patch job, prime and paint the area. No one will ever know your secret!


Genius! The Soundproofing Solution That Doubles as Wall Art

Stop losing sleep over noise in a neighboring room when you try this quick and easy DIY soundproofing technique.

diy-soundproof-wall

Photo: ikea.com

The struggles of sharing a home aren’t limited to arranging furniture or dividing up a chore chart among the household; they also extend to the clamor and clangor that come along with the habits of our everyday lives. Whether because of the TV volume, drum practice, slamming doors, or the traffic outside, getting a good night’s sleep can seem next to impossible—especially if you’re tossing and turning over the steep costs of putting in soundproofing. Luckily, there’s another way to reap the benefits of some much needed peace and quiet without shelling out for materials and installation.

This noise-reducing paneling is both easy on the eyes and easy enough for any homeowner or apartment dweller to make in an afternoon. Start by finding the wall closest to the source of the sound. (Hint: It could be the exterior wall facing the street, or it might be the wall you share with a teenager turned budding musician.) Take measurements, and pick up as many large frames as you’ll need to cover the space. You’ll find an assortment of oversized frames priced in the $5 to $10 range at donation-based shops like Goodwill, or you can achieve a more uniform look by picking up a bulk supply of your favorite style, like these from IKEA. Lastly, gather some fabric in a print you love, craft-store batting, scissors, and a roll of tape.

The key to transforming these function of these frames is in how you fill them. Replace the glass or plastic that typically protects an art print with a sheet of batting slightly smaller than the frame and a piece of fabric slightly larger than it. The padding is thick enough to absorb some of the sound before it enters the space. Since you’re working with cushy materials, arrange the layers on a smooth surface in this order for easiest stuffing: fabric on the bottom, batting in the middle, and the picture frame backing on top. Then, fold the fabric over the batting and backing—similar to wrapping a present—and tape everything down. Pop the layers into the frame, hang it on the wall, and repeat until you’ve effectively padded the problem area.

For a small cost, this DIY has a big payout. In addition to its quieting benefits, the framed fabric fronts also double as memo boards for tacking notes and photos (not to mention a way to add texture and color to an otherwise vanilla room). Once everything is in place, crawl under the covers and prepare yourself for a night of uninterrupted sleep—just don’t forget to set an alarm.

diy-soundproof-room

Photo: ikea.com

FOR MORE: Ikea Ideas