Walls & Ceilings - Bob Vila

Category: Walls & Ceilings

How To: Clean a Popcorn Ceiling

Dust and dinginess turning your a textured ceiling into an eyesore? Follow this simple cleaning routine for a brighter interior once more.

How to Clean Popcorn Ceiling

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you live in a house that’s more than a few decades old, you likely have popcorn ceilings, which rose in popularity in the mid-1900s. Contractors liked the spray-on texture because it was cheap and easy to apply; homeowners at the time liked it because it dampened noise and hid any flaws made during application.

One downside to these ceilings, however, is that their pocks and bumps easily catch dust—and that dust emphasizes the texture’s edges like a shadow. Cleaning them at least once, if not more, a year brightens the surface overhead and helps many homeowners learn to live with their dated ceilings. (Not to mention, the act of dusting can offer relief to allergy sufferers.) To effectively navigate all of the nooks and crannies of the texture, follow the techniques outlined here for how to clean a popcorn ceiling.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Plastic tarps
Protective mask
Vacuum with brush attachments
Longhandled broom
Duct tape
Paint roller
Lint brush with sticky paper (optional)
Liquid dish soap
Bleach or vinegar
Spray bottle(s)
Circulating fan


Before you tackle a deep cleaning of your vintage popcorn ceiling, be advised: Popcorn ceilings installed before the ’80s could contain asbestos, which is dangerous if inhaled. To prevent any possibility of lung-scarring illnesses and even lung cancer, make sure you follow guidelines for checking asbestos levels.

STEP 1: Prepare the room.

Collect all tools and materials in an easily accessible place. Cover your furniture and flooring with large plastic tarps to prevent dust, cobwebs, or liquid cleanser from dirtying (or damaging) furnishings and flooring below as you work. Protect your lungs from dust by wearing a protective mask, and shield your eyes with goggles.

RELATED: 15 Remarkably Easy Ways to Create a Dust-Free Home

STEP 2: Remove all dust from the popcorn ceiling with either a vacuum, broom, or duct tape.

Choose whichever method for dust removal suits you best. For any of the following, you’ll first decide whether you want to work with two feet on the ground using an extendable tool to clean the ceiling or climb a stepladder to clean small segments up-close. If you use a stepladder, be careful not to over-extend your range, which can lead to instability and loss of balance; instead, clean within a specific range (several square feet) before climbing down, moving your ladder, and addressing the next patch.

(1) Vacuum: Suck up surface dust and cobwebs using your vacuum’s attachments. Choose the widest brush attachment, one without hard plastic parts that could chip or damage your paint. If your vacuum has a long handle, you can stay on the ground and work. If you decide to climb a stepladder, climb up and down with your machine in tow carefully.

(2) Broom: Turn a long-handled broom around so that its wide, soft-bristled brush faces the ceiling. Sweep the brush over the ceiling, allowing the dust to fall onto the tarps.

(3) Duct tape: Attach duct tape to a paint roller, or use a sticky lint roller. Climb your step ladder and gently roller the ceiling. Most of the dust should stick to your implement. Replace duct tape or renew lint paper when dust no longer adheres.

How to Clean Popcorn Ceiling

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 3: Test a cleaner on a hidden part of the ceiling before attacking stains.

Before you attempt to fade or remove stains caused by water, smoke, or grease, test a small, inconspicuous area of the ceiling to ensure you’ve picked an effective cleaning solution that won’t damage the ceiling. The strength of the solution you choose will depend on the cause, age, and severity of the stains.

• Grease stains: In a kitchen, you’re likely to spot some discoloration due to the amount of cooking grease that gets airborne during meal prep. To remedy, mix a mild solution of warm water and liquid dish soap in a large spray bottle, something you can handle easily on your stepladder. Spray solution onto the stain, and lightly dab the area with a rag or sponge. Let dry for several hours.

• Water, mildew, and smoke stains: Mix water with bleach in a spray bottle and apply to the ceiling. Lightly mist the area to prevent additional water damage. Start with one part bleach to five parts water. Wait for several hours. If the stain isn’t lifting, add more bleach and lightly mist the area again. Let the test area dry overnight to determine if the solution is working.

STEP 4: Proceed with the cleaner of choice to deep-clean any particularly dingy areas on your popcorn ceiling.

Mist the rest of the ceiling area with the appropriate cleaner—either the liquid dish soap solution or the bleach solution—that has been determined as posing no damage to your ceiling. (You should still be wearing protective gear, including goggles and face mask, when working with these cleaners.) If you’re using a stepladder, remember to work only within a limited range, climbing down and moving your ladder regularly.

Let the ceiling dry overnight with any windows open and circulating fans on to keep room ventilated.

STEP 5: Repaint or remove popcorn ceiling if you’re not happy with how it looks when cleaned.

If some stains linger, albeit faded, consider repainting your popcorn ceiling. Now that you have removed surface dust, your ceiling is prepared for a new paint job! Or, if you remain unhappy with the appearance of your popcorn ceiling, it may be time to remove it altogether.

All You Need to Know About Limewashed Brick

This white coating promises to refresh worn-down brick exteriors and protect them from the elements—but it's not for every homeowner. Think your home could use an update? Consider the pros and cons of this DIY treatment, and follow the easy steps outlined here.

Limewashed Brick 101

Photo: istockphoto.com

Despite being one of the most durable materials around, brick very visibly ages. Its crisp square edges can soften, and joint repairs on brick siding can leave noticeable imperfections. Even if your brick remains in great shape, the color or shade of the building blocks may now make your house look drab and dated (remember the orange bricks of the ’80s?). Before you grab a bucket of paint to cover any of these blemishes, consider the benefits of an alternative, time-honored coating: limewash.

This application produces a soft white façade that improves your home’s curb appeal while adding a measure of protection against the elements. Unlike some types of brick updates—such as tuckpointing or repointing, which should be done by professionals—limewashing is an accessible project for do-it-yourselfers and inexpensive to boot! If you’re thinking about changing the look of your bricks, keep reading. We’ll run through the basics of limewashed brick and share a simple method for getting this look at home.


Limewash is made from powdered limestone that has been treated with heat and water to change its chemical composition, resulting in a stable product that provides a durable coating when applied to porous brick. The terms “limewash” and “whitewash” are often used synonymously, but while limewash is a specific type of whitewash, other types of whitewash do not use lime as an ingredient.

Like other popular brick-coating treatments, such as German Smear, limewash has its roots in antiquity; it was used centuries ago to protect structures from the weather. Both coatings add a thin layer to the outside of the structure, which helps protect the bricks and mortar from the elements. Buildings that were coated every few years developed a durable layer of protection against rain, wind, and harsh sun rays.

In most regions of the world, limestone deposits are plentiful. Therefore, because true limewash contains just lime and water, its use was very accessible and commonly used in the protection of ancient vernacular architecture. Its ability to protect brick, block, and other types of porous material (including adobe, clay, and terracotta) made it invaluable for coating structures dating as far back as ancient Egypt, where it was used it to coat temples and monuments.

Today, limewashing is a staple in the historical restoration industry as well as being a cherished method for updating the look of exterior (even interior) brick on homes. You can find it on commercial buildings and residential houses in all price ranges throughout Europe and the United States, and it’s just as at home on a castle as it is on a cottage.


Limewashed Brick 101: All About the Treatment and How to Try It at Home

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Newberry, SC


Like all coatings, limewash has its pros and cons. Weigh them before you commit to this exterior update, but know that it can be scrubbed away later if you decide.


• Limewash is inexpensive. A whole house can be coated for $10 to $80 in supplies. If you can find hydrated lime locally, which has already been treated in a pressure hydrator and only needs to mix with water, it’s as cheap as $3 to $5 per 50-lb. bag (of which you’ll need two).  If you order it online, you can expect to pay about $40 per bag—an upcharge mostly due to high shipping charges.

• Limewash coating is natural and environmentally safe—a “green” choice.

• Applying limewash is DIY-friendly. See below for how to get started!

• Limewash, which is highly alkaline, resists fungal growth and insect damage.

• Subsequent coats of limewash can be applied over existing coats.

• The coating won’t peel off as paint-based coatings can.

• A layer of limewash offers protection against weathering.


• Limewash will erode over time, requiring renewal coating every five to seven years.

• The solution should be applied on overcast days to keep from drying too quickly.

• When dry, limewash may rub off on clothing.

• For coating siding, limewash should be mixed in large batches to avoid batch discrepancies. Because the exact ratio is difficult to duplicate precisely, smaller batches may be slightly different, which can result in noticeable lap marks on the limewashed brick wall when the solution dries.

• Limewash will not adhere to previously painted bricks.


Limewashed Brick 101: All About the Treatment and How to Try It at Home

Photo: istockphoto.com


The following method for mixing and applying limewash is simple and will produce good results. We’ll be using two 50-lb. bags of hydrated lime, which is ready to mix with water. While other types of lime, quicklime, and lime putty are also available, quicklime is not hydrated (which is necessary for making limewash) and can cause severe burns. Lime putty is less dangerous to work with but requires aging before it can be made into limewash.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Hydrated lime
 Dust mask
 Bathroom scales (optional)
 Large paint brush or paint roller
 Large plastic bucket (with tightfitting lid)
 Smaller bucket or roller pan
 Drill with paddle bit (or a stick)

Before mixing or applying limewash, clean the bricks. Spray down brick siding with a water hose to remove dirt and dust buildup. If you have any especially dirty or grimy areas, spray them with an all-purpose cleaner, scrub them with a stiff nylon brush, and then rinse the area with a hose.

Safety first. Lime is caustic and safety precautions must be taken not to inhale the powder or get it on your skin. Put on a dust mask, goggles, and gloves before mixing the limewash solution.

Limewashed Brick 101: All About the Treatment and How to Try It at Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

The most important part of limewashing is getting the solution right. When mixed correctly, limewash should have the consistency of whole milk. Remember, this is a wash, not a paint. It shouldn’t be thick and gloopy.

The correct ratio is approximately 80 percent water to 20 percent hydrated lime (by weight). You can make larger or smaller batches as long as you maintain that approximate ratio. If you’re making a small batch, feel free to use old bathroom scales to weigh the ingredients. To mix an entire 50-lb. bag of hydrated lime (enough to coat a typical 1,600 sq. ft. ranch-style house), you’ll need 30.5 gallons of water. One gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs. so 30.5 gallons weighs approximately 250 lbs. A 50-lb bag of hydrated lime weighs 1/5th or 20 percent as much, which will give you an 80:20 water-to-lime ratio.

Small batches can be mixed in 5-gallon buckets, larger batches (such as the recipe for a whole bag above) can be mixed in large, heavy-duty plastic trash cans, and then transferred to smaller buckets or roller pans as needed. It helps to have a drill with a long paddle bit to mix the solution but a long stick will do just as well if you take your time and stir the solution thoroughly.

Pro Notes: Unused limewash solution can be saved for a few weeks if it’s tightly sealed to prevent evaporation of the water in the mix. Cover the bucket or trash can with plastic sheeting before putting on the lid. You can use the same batch of limewash for a second coating, just make sure to mix it well again before applying.

Choose an overcast day to apply limewash. Limewash is the most durable when it dries slowly; a hot sunny day can cause it to dry too quickly. You can also slow down drying time by dampening the bricks before application. Just spray them down with a water hose and wait five to 10 minutes before applying the limewash.

Apply the limewash just as you would paint; transfer a workable amount of solution to a small bucket or a roller pan and use a paintbrush or a paint roller to roll it onto the bricks. Start at the top of a wall on one side and work across and downward in 4- to 5-foot swaths. The lime solids have a tendency to settle to the bottom, so stir as you go (and thoroughly before reuse). Don’t be alarmed if you can see right through the mixture as you apply it—it will whiten as it dries. Cover all the bricks evenly, and then wait two to four days before applying the next coat. Each additional coat will make the surface opaquer. Three to four applications may be necessary to reach the desired opaqueness.


•  Surface stains on limewashed brick can be removed by rubbing lightly with a damp rag.

•  Limewash coating can be removed with a pressure washer, or by hand, with a bucket of water and a stiff nylon scrub brush if you grow tired of the look.

•  Finished limewash will gradually erode, which can produce a very attractive weathered look, but to retain the original opaque coverage, reapply the limewash every five to seven years.

•  There is no need to remove existing limewash in order to apply renewal coats.

All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Currently the height of fashion, vaulted ceilings bring a sense of openness, even grandeur, to a home. But a higher ceiling may mean higher construction and energy costs. Find out why—and if it’s worth it.

All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Delray Beach, FL

Drawing the eye upward to create a sense of volume and spaciousness, vaulted ceilings add drama to otherwise ordinary rooms. As with other architectural design elements, vaulted ceilings go in and out of vogue. But as floor plans trend smaller, ceilings tend to rise to give the illusion of a larger living space.

Virtually any house with a sloped roof will support a vaulted ceiling, just as long as attic space exists in which to construct the vault. Steeper roof pitches are necessary for higher vaults, while lower-pitched roofs will only accommodate shallower vaults. While any room can be vaulted, depending on your personal preference, most homeowners choose to vault the ceiling in a family room or great room where the effect can be fully appreciated.

If you’re planning to build a new house or put an addition on your current home, and you’re wondering whether a vaulted ceiling is right for you, keep reading. We’ll explain what constitutes a vaulted ceiling in today’s home-design lingo and give you the ins and outs of this striking feature so you can make a well-informed decision.

Vaulted vs. Cathedral

The terms “vaulted” and “cathedral” are sometimes used synonymously, but historically they were different:

• Appearing as early as AD 217 in the construction of Roman public baths, early vaulted ceilings were domed or arched, relying on the architectural principle that an overhead arc provides an incredibly strong weight-bearing structure.

Cathedral ceilings, on the other hand, traditionally feature straight sides that slope upward at the same angle as the exterior roof line. This type of construction is also structurally sound, and notable examples include the Church of Our Lady before Týn, Prague, Czech Republic, constructed in the 13th and 14th Centuries, boasting soaring spires that still rise above the city.

• Gothic cathedrals, such as the Notre-Dame de Paris, built in the 14th Century, are a testament to enduring structure and may include both arched and cathedral construction, with many featuring overelaborate trim detail that can take your breath away.

In today’s expanded construction jargon, vaulted ceilings may have curved or straight sides and symmetrical or asymmetrical lines. Since “vaulted” and “cathedral” may be used interchangeably now, what’s important is to carefully select the shape and size of the elevation—and then call it whatever you like!


All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in New Orleans, LA

Vaulted Ceiling Particulars

Arched vaults come in a variety of shapes, from the basic, semi-circular barrel that runs the length of the ceiling from one end to the other, to perpendicular intersecting barrel arches, known as “groin vaults.” Also popular are arched ceiling planes that narrow as they rise to meet at a single center point, forming a dome shape called a “domical vault.” A variety of narrow, wide, large, or small arches can be combined to create custom vaulted effects. In the case of a cathedral vault, where the interior ceiling is parallel to the exterior roof line, installing skylights is a simple process.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Photo: istockphoto.com

What’s not to love about these dramatically high ceilings? Often a step up from even an 11-foot-tall walls, the extra height afforded by the pitched ceiling makes even the average-sized room feel grand and airy. Plus, the extra wall space created means more room for extended windows, transom windows, and even skylights—hello, natural light.

And, while these features can mimic the grandeur of architecture from centuries past, vaulted ceilings blend with nearly any style: exposed wood beams can look cottage-like or fit for a log cabin, depending on the decor below, while arches and groin vaults can skew either traditional or uniquely modern.

For all of its beauty, spaciousness, and value that vaulted ceilings add to a home, it comes with some drawbacks that would make homeowners who are looking to build one into their home think twice.

For starters, building a vaulted ceiling increases the square foot price of home construction for a number of reasons. Anytime a worker has to use a ladder or scaffolding to build, trim, or paint, work slows down, which translates into added labor costs. In the case of vaults with arched and domed sides, even more labor is required because construction materials—which are typically straight and flat—must be adapted to fit the curved surfaces. Depending on the height, design, and trim, a vaulted ceiling could add five to 20 percent to the total cost. In cases where an elaborately designed dome is desired, the added cost could be even higher.

Still, vaulted ceilings were all the rage in mid-to-high-end custom and tract-built homes constructed in the 1980s and early 1990s, not to say that the styles aren’t still desirable today. As utility costs skyrocketed, though, homeowners began to consider the pros and cons of having such high ceilings. It costs more to heat and cool rooms with high ceilings using typical forced air systems, as heat will quickly rise out of the living area and into the unused airy space above. To counteract this, homeowners have considered radiant floor heating to warm objects within the room and/or ceiling fans installed into the top of the dome or vault, which can then help circulate the hot air that rises back down into the room where it’s much appreciated during cold winter months. Alternately, installing operable skylights with automatic temperature sensors can rid your home of the hot air that tends to collect in the vault during the heat of summer.


All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Edgartown, MA

Building Basics

Incorporating a vaulted ceiling is best done during the original construction of the house, or, if desired, as a part of a new addition to the house. While retrofitting a vaulted ceiling is possible, it’s cost-prohibitive for most homeowners because it involves extensive structural engineering to modify existing ceiling joists or roof trusses to accommodate the new vault.

Vaulted ceilings can be constructed by either stick-framing, which means attaching each joist and rafter individually, or by setting roof trusses that come engineered from a truss manufacturer with the vaulted space already accounted for. Either scissor trusses or vaulted parallel chord trusses, both of which are constructed from multiple wood members to serve as the roof structure, are used to create vaulted ceilings. A representative from the truss manufacturer will consult with the contractor and have the trusses engineered to suit. Trusses are delivered to the job site on via trucks, and the builders set them in place, their undersides forming the desired vault shape.

However they are constructed, installing a vaulted ceiling is a job for the professionalsnot a DIY project—that requires adherence to local building codes and engineering specs. Any experienced contractor or builder should be able to construct a vaulted ceiling, but as you do your research, ask to see examples of their work in this regard.


All You Need to Know About Vaulted Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in San Anselmo, CA

Cleaning and Maintenance

Depending on the height of the vault, cleaning the ceiling may prove more difficult than it is for a standard flat ceiling. Reaching the upper areas of the vault for dusting may require a ladder and extension tools, and, should you wish to repaint the ceiling, you’ll probably need to stand on scaffolding. Ask yourself if the extra effort will be worth the visual impact a vaulted ceiling adds to your home.

What’s the Difference? Drywall vs. Plaster

Both drywall and plaster make for solid, long-lasting wall coverings. Consider these factors when choosing between the two for your next home improvement project.

Drywall vs Plaster - A Guide to Understanding the Differences

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you’re thinking of taking on a wall construction project in your home, you’ll likely hear of two options: drywall and plaster. Newer homes tend to feature drywall, a material comprised of gypsum sandwiched between two sheets of paper and usually sold in 4-foot-by-8-foot panels. Drywall installs quickly and fairly easily by screwing it into the studs of the wall, and today it comes in a variety of thicknesses and other options to choose from. Plaster and lath, on the other hand, is a more labor-intensive but high-end wall treatment where workers nail lengths of wood called lath to the studs and then apply several coats of plaster over top, used in most homes built before World War II.

Both methods have their respective strengths and weaknesses, so we’re breaking down the two materials here—drywall vs plaster. Keep reading for what you should consider before planning your next project.


Drywall vs Plaster - A Guide to Understanding the Differences

Photo: istockphoto.com

Plaster is more labor-intensive than drywall. In fact, the shortage of workers during WWII is one of the reasons for drywall’s spike in popularity. Today, plasterers are more specialized tradesmen than drywall installers, so having the skilled laborers available in your area is the first thing to check before committing to the high-maintenance material. As far as repairs, they can run the gamut from being as simple as touching up a little bit of plaster to rebuilding the wall, especially in cases where electrical or plumbing work needs to be done behind the walls. Drywall repair, on the other hand, while it is a multi-step process, tends to be more straightforward and easier for handy homeowners to complete themselves.

Drywall vs Plaster - A Guide to Understanding the Differences

Photo: istockphoto.com

Plaster costs more than drywall. Because plaster requires more of a specialized skill than drywall installation and takes longer to complete, the labor alone will usually run about three times higher or more than drywall installation. The material costs are comparable.

It’s easier to hang items on drywall, but it’s not impossible with plaster. Plaster is harder and more brittle than drywall. Whereas with drywall it’s possible to push thumbtacks into the wall to hang up posters, you likely couldn’t pierce a plaster wall with the flimsy point of a tack. More importantly, you run the risk of chipping or cracking the plaster. If you need to hang an item like a picture frame on a plaster wall, use screws instead of nails to avoid potential damage—using a hammer on a plaster wall could be disastrous.

Plaster is more sound-proof, but drywall usually means better insulation. A dense material, plaster blocks sound transmission much better than gypsum drywall. However, even though plaster is denser, it can’t beat the thermal capabilities of standard drywall coupled with modern insulation commonly found today. The drywall installation process allows for such flexibility to accommodate those layers. Retrofitting original plaster walls with insulation—as with most work on plaster walls—can prove challenging and still offer less energy-efficient payoff than drywall with insulation.

Plaster has a higher-end look. It can be applied in either a smooth, glossy finish or a stucco-like textured finish. While drywall is the standard in most houses today, plaster is still used for a variety of aesthetic upgrades. For example, plaster may be the better choice on curved walls than the popular pick, drywall, since it’s difficult at best and impossible at worst to get drywall to bend as desired.

Solved! What to Do About Mice in the Walls

Heard scratching and skittering coming from the walls or ceiling? Evict any mice in the walls by following these key strategies.

What to Do When You Hear Mice in the Walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: For the first time in my life, I have mice. I had thought that I dreamed the scratching and skittering sounds I heard coming from the walls and ceiling, but then I eventually found the quarter-inch droppings. So far, these critters seem out of reach—I’ve only seen one scurry through the kitchen—so what’s the best way to deal with mice in the walls?

A: It’s no surprise you haven’t seen much of these pests just yet: Mice that take up residence in your walls will often stay in their nests during daylight hours. You’ve already done well by using the available clues to identify exactly the type of pest you’re housing—mice, as opposed to raccoons or squirrels—and this knowledge will guide you in selecting the most appropriate means to get rid of them. If you’re at all uncertain, look for the other signs you’ve got a mouse problem, such as nickel-sized holes in the walls, baseboards, and floors and teeth marks in these areas.

Lure them out. Mice will emerge from your walls in search of food, and that’s your best window of opportunity to catch them. Bait multiple traps with peanut butter or cheese, and place them wherever you’ve found mouse droppings, especially under sinks, inside drawers, and behind furniture. (Whether you prefer to catch and release with a live trap or solve your problem with several snap traps is a personal preference.) Then, check the traps daily—twice a day, even, if you’re using a live trap, in order to release it as soon as possible.

When you find a mouse in your trap, pull a pair of gloves on and proceed as follows:

• Traps with live mice should be put into a heavy-duty plastic bag (cage and all) and carried to a forest or park at least 500 feet away from the home so that they cannot find their way back.

• Dead mice can be deposited into a plastic bag to take out with the trash or directly into the outdoor garbage can. If you’re too squeamish to undo a snap trap to release the dead mouse, you can also dispose of the whole snap trap at once. Fortunately, the wooden spring traps are affordable enough to be disposable.

Of course, it won’t often be one-and-done: Keep your guard up and continue to check the remaining traps for a couple of weeks following your first catch.

Use rodenticides with caution. Poisonous pellets only sometimes solve a mouse problem—some mice can actually be resistant to arsenic or anticoagulant poisons like warfarin—and they do come with a number of consequences. In a best-case scenario, a mouse or two carries the pellets you’ve strategically placed, carries it back to the nest, and one or more die inside your walls. You’ll no longer worry about mice but may get a whiff of something unpleasant in your home several days after the deed is done. Worst case scenario? The deadly chemicals geared toward rodents are found and ingested by children or four-legged friends.

If you choose to proceed with poison, place pellets in a tamper-resistant bait station (typically a large black box with one entrance and the poison deep inside) to prevent any accidents. Locate the station nearest to potential food sources for the mice and still out of reach for domestic animals and children.

What to Do When You Hear Mice in the Walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

Remove any distractions from your baited traps. To help direct the mice in the walls toward your trap, take away any other potential food sources. Keep trash can lids closed tight, clean up spills in the kitchen and dining room immediately, and make sure all food is stored in airtight containers. Stop leaving fruit, candies, and any cardboard-encased snacks out on your countertops, of course, but also consider your pantry. It’s best to follow the same practices behind these doors, or—at the very least—inspect the cabinets to make sure they’re totally inaccessible.

Plug all holes. Mice are sneaky little creatures that can fit through holes smaller than a quarter in size, so take the time to search the entire perimeter of your home—floors, baseboards, corners, and more—and seal off any cracks or openings you find using a larger piece of steel wool. Though they may try to burrow through it, steel wool with a reinforcement of caulk makes a strong barrier. (Filling holes before you’re certain you’ve trapped or poisoned all of the pests, however, means you do run the risk of trapping mice in the walls with their nests and leaving them to die and decay out of reach.) During this same inspection, it’s also a smart to repair any compromised weather stripping around windows and doors and cover your exterior vents with hardware cloth so you don’t invite any additional pests in.

Keep them away. Bolster your defense against future infestations in your walls by picking up rodent deterrents. Your local hardware store should carry a range of options designed to send mice scurrying away rather than kill them. If you’d rather make your own to repel unwelcome invaders, just combine three cups of warm water with one teaspoon of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle. Use this DIY mouse repellent spray or leave out cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil wherever you suspect mice are liable to come sniffing (sealed-up entrances to the house are a good start). One whiff of peppermint and these rodents swiftly turn away and find somewhere else to roam. As a bonus, your home will smell minty fresh—a little aromatherapy in exchange for your trouble. You can put smells to work outside the home, too: If you have a cat, sprinkle some of Fluffy’s used kitty litter around the exterior edges of your home once a month or so to frighten mice away with the scent of a predator.

All You Need to Know About Tray Ceilings

Get the 411 on this trendy effect to see how tray ceilings can add impact to your favorite rooms.

All You Need to Know About Tray Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Eden Prairie, MN

You may have hung the gallery walls and installed crown molding, but interior design needn’t stop at the top of the walls. A tray ceiling—also called an inverted or recessed ceiling—resembles a large upside-down tray set into a ceiling. The center section is situated several inches or feet higher than the perimeter, drawing the eye upward, adding visual interest, and creating a three-dimensional effect. A cousin to the coffered ceiling, which features multiple recessed areas in a grid pattern, a tray ceiling features only one recessed area but it can be an equally impressive focal point.

Simple and versatile, tray ceilings can complement virtually all styles of architecture and design. They impart a feeling of spaciousness to small rooms and add detail to the stark ceilings often found in expansive rooms. Because they’re frequently accompanied by ornate molding, contrasting colors, and special lighting effects, tray ceilings work well in open living areas, great rooms, and formal dining rooms where folks relax and linger—and can truly appreciate their appeal.

Keep reading to learn more about design choices, structural suitability, and construction methods to help you decide if a tray ceiling is right for your home.

Design Basics

The shape of a tray ceiling often follows the contour of the room, by means of a drop-down border around the perimeter of the ceiling. The inside tray recession can be anywhere from one inch to more than a foot deep, depending on the height of the ceiling and the desired effect the homeowner is going for. Because most rooms are square or rectangular, most tray ceilings are also square or rectangular, but there are no hard and fast design rules. Trays can be constructed in oval, circular, or other shapes if desired.

A Tray That Serves a Purpose

A tray ceiling can be functional as well as attractive. In older homes built before the advent of central heat and air, ducting is often run on one side of a ceiling when a vent system is later installed. This creates a bulk header on only one side of the room. As long as the ceiling is high enough (see “Overhead Space Concerns” below), a tray ceiling can be constructed to match the dimensions of the bulk header, camouflaging it in the overall tray ceiling design.

A tray ceiling can also house other mechanical elements in its drop-down border, such as wiring or plumbing. This is a good option in homes where it’s not feasible to route those elements through the walls.


All You Need to Know About Tray Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Scottsdale, AZ

Overhead Space Concerns

Tray ceilings installed during the building of a new house are likely to be constructed within the ceiling joists. The border surrounding the tray should be the same height as the ceilings in the other rooms in the house, while the interior tray will be higher, so headspace will not be affected.

Ceiling height becomes a factor, however, when installing a tray ceiling in an existing room, because the drop-down border will reduce headroom. Because of this, a tray ceiling is best suited for existing ceilings that are more than eight feet high. Most local building codes require a minimum ceiling height of eight feet, so if your existing ceilings are only eight feet high, the drop-down border would extend below eight feet, potentially making the room feel cramped. This is dependent, of course, on how deep the tray recession is. A drop-down border of only one or two inches may be fine, whereas a drop-down border of six inches or more would probably hamper the perception of spaciousness. Carefully consider headroom when making the decision to install a tray ceiling in an existing room.

Style and Effect

All You Need to Know About Tray Ceilings

Photo: istockphoto.com

Standard tray ceilings are constructed from dimensional lumber (to form the drop-down border) and then wrapped with drywall. The drywall can be taped and finished without trim for a clean, minimalist look, or corner molding can be added to cover the seams where the drywall meets.

A tray ceiling can be as simple or as ornate as you like to suit the style of the room. Crown molding is often added inside of tray borders for classic elegance, and the larger the molding, the more dramatic the impact.

Molding can be designed to conceal accent lights, which softly illuminate the tray part of the ceiling, and recessed lights can be fitted in the drop-down border. Because the drop-down border effectively frames the ceiling tray, it also makes a perfect surround to showcase a chandelier or ceiling fan.

Color can play a significant role in tray ceiling style simply by painting the recessed ceiling one color and the drop-down border a contrasting or a complementary shade. Molding, if installed, can be painted to match the tray color or the ceiling color, or even a third color, if desired. The stylistic possibilities are limitless. To give your ceiling an elevated effect, try painting the drop-down border a light shade and the recessed tray a deeper shade. The deeper color adds depth and creates the illusion that the recessed tray is farther away.

Faking the Look

Homeowners stuck with eight-foot ceilings can achieve a faux tray by installing flat trim molding on the ceiling in the shape of a traditional border. After the trim is in place, the ceiling on the outside of the trim can be painted a different color from the ceiling inside the border to create a visual separation.


All You Need to Know About Tray Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Wenatchee, WA

Installing a Tray Ceiling

The installation process for a tray ceiling differs, depending on whether the ceiling is constructed during the building of the home or a remodel.

New Construction

• During the original construction of your home, your builder will arrange to install a tray ceiling that does not require lowering the ceiling height to accommodate the drop-down border. If the builder is ordering roof trusses instead of stick-framing, the trusses will be engineered by the truss manufacturer to accommodate the tray ceiling. Both stick-framing and truss-setting are jobs to be done by building professionals.

Existing Rooms

• Recessing a tray ceiling within an existing ceiling requires modifying the ceiling joists or trusses, which should only be undertaken after consulting a structural engineer or the manufacturer of the roof trusses for instructions. In some cases, it may not be structurally sound to modify the framing. This project also requires obtaining permits because the home’s structure is being altered. It’s strictly a job for the pros.

• If ceiling height allows for the installation of a drop-down tray ceiling, the process is much simpler than recessing the tray within the joists or trusses. It involves constructing the drop-down frame of the tray ceiling border, which is then covered with drywall and finished. A handy do-it-yourselfer with carpentry knowledge might be able to build this type of tray ceiling.

• A faux tray ceiling can be DIY-installed by attaching trim molding to the ceiling where you’d like to create the tray effect and then painting the center of the ceiling a darker color than the surrounding border to create a three-dimensional feel.

All You Need to Know About Venetian Plaster

You don’t have to be in Rome to do as the Romans do. Get the scoop on the Venetian plaster treatment used to bring the appearance of natural stone to drab walls or ceilings.

All You Need to Know About Venetian Plaster

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Rockville, MD

The age-old surface treatment of Venetian plaster is making a comeback in modern homes. Mostly used on interior walls or ceilings, it mimics the multi-toned, three-dimensional effect of natural stone—without the need for lugging and installing heavy slabs of real marble or limestone. Homeowners can recreate the old-world look in three ways: with a lookalike homemade finish, store-bought synthetic Venetian plaster paint, or authentic lime Venetian plaster. Read on to find out which of these applications is right for you, and then learn how to apply a Venetian plaster finish in your home.

The Venetian Plaster Look

Originating in Venice, Italy, Venetian plaster gained widespread popularity in the Roman Empire as a means to imitate natural stone surfaces inside of palazzos, villas, and cathedrals. Artisans would blend lime plaster with marble dust and pigments to create the compound Venetian plaster, then trowel it onto walls or ceilings in multiple thin layers with short, overlapping strokes. Professional painters still use this authentic method today, but most do-it-yourselfers choose to mimic the look with either a homemade plaster finish of tinted joint compound and tinted glaze or ready-to-apply cans of synthetic paint formulated to look like Venetian plaster. Whatever method you choose for the interior walls and ceilings in living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms, you’re sure to end up with the luxurious look of natural stone without the expensive and cumbersome installation.


All You Need to Know About Venetian Plaster

Photo: flickr.com via Mark Nordgren

Three Methods for Applying Venetian Plaster

Here, we’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages of the three treatment options: homemade finish, synthetic Venetian plaster paint, and authentic Venetian plaster.

BUDGET: You can achieve a homemade Venetian plaster finish for roughly $6 to $11 per 100 square feet, considering you’ll need $2 to $3 for pre-mixed joint compound, $0.10 to $0.50 for latex colorant, and $4 to $7 for tinted glaze. That’s a bargain compared to the material cost of ready-to-apply cans of synthetic Venetian plaster (which run $18 to $33 per 100 square feet) and authentic lime Venetian plaster (which costs $32 to $84 or more per 100 square feet for materials alone).

TECHNIQUE: Savvy DIYers can apply homemade and synthetic Venetian plaster treatments themselves—but beware that application requires superior painting abilities. Homeowners should also have experience using a trowel and hawk before taking on DIY installation. On the other hand, an authentic lime Venetian plaster treatment should always be professionally installed. This is due to the plaster’s runny consistency, a rapid drying time that makes it difficult to patch flaws once applied, and the high materials cost for redoing a flawed application. Professionally installed authentic lime Venetian plaster could run you anywhere from $800 to $1,200 per 100 square feet when including labor and materials.

EASE OF INSTALLATION: Of the two DIY-friendly methods, the homemade treatment is more forgiving than the synthetic paint. Its joint compound is malleable, dries slowly, and can easily be wiped away and re-applied if you make a mistake. But keep in mind that the homemade treatment requires more initial labor, since you need to tint the compound.

TIMELINE: When opting for homemade Venetian plaster finish or synthetic Venetian plaster paint, homeowners can expect to spend a few days on the process. Meanwhile, a professional will take significantly longer to apply authentic lime Venetian plaster, which could require up to ten days of drying time between coats.

APPLICATION: You can apply both synthetic Venetian plaster paint and homemade Venetian plaster finish to unvarnished and varnished walls or ceilings. The key is starting with a flat, clean, and smooth substrate—meaning you’ll want to sand the substrate if the wall has a raised texture.

REMOVAL: Removing a Venetian plaster treatment can be a messy and time-consuming process, no matter which technique you used to apply it. All three surface treatments—joint compound, synthetic Venetian plaster paint, and authentic lime Venetian plaster—are designed to be permanent. If you do change your mind about the treatment, you would need to run an electric sander over the finished surface until smooth. This process can result in a hefty amount of debris and clean-up work.


All You Need to Know About Venetian Plaster

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Bend, OR

How to Apply Venetian Plaster

Want to achieve a natural stone texture at a bottom-budget price? Check out this tutorial for a how to mix and apply homemade Venetian plaster treatment to produce an old-age effect.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Drop cloth
Spackling paste
100grit sandpaper
Liquid dish soap
Painter’s tape
Latex colorant (or drywall mud tint)
Premixed joint compound
Power drill
Drill mixing attachment
Dust mask
Rubber gloves
Safety glasses
Eightinch drywall trowel
60 to 80grit sandpaper
Pretinted waterbased translucent glaze
4inch syntheticbristle paint brush
Waterbased sealant
¾”nap roller cover designed for rough surfaces

First, prep the space to be treated. Whether you intend to apply homemade Venetian plaster to the walls or ceiling (or both), lay drop cloths beneath the surface you intend to finish to protect it from paint splatter. Remove all hangings and fixtures from the surface and fill any holes with spackling paste. Let the paste cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then lightly sand the spackled areas with a 100-grit sandpaper.

To remove the sanding dust—along with dirt, debris, and grease—whip up a simple cleaner by mixing one teaspoon of liquid dish soap and four cups of warm water in a large bucket. Wipe down the entire surface with a clean rag saturated in the soap solution, then make a second pass with a water-dampened rag to remove the suds. Once it dries completely, cover the baseboards and the edges of the surface and ceiling with painter’s tape.

Next, tint the joint compound that will act as the “plaster” in this Venetian plaster treatment. Combine one teaspoon of latex colorant per one gallon of pre-mixed joint compound in a large bucket. Mix using the mixing attachment of a power drill until the color has been fully incorporated and the compound is the consistency of pancake batter. If you’re seeking a regal Italian-inspired look, consider a latex colorant in a Mediterranean hue like terra cotta, lavender, or gold.

All You Need to Know About Venetian Plaster

Photo: flickr.com via Mark Nordgren

Don your dust mask, rubber gloves, and protective eyewear. Then scoop a generous heap of tinted joint compound onto a hawk with an eight-inch drywall trowel. Load the trowel with a hot-dog-width bead of compound from the hawk, and apply an eighth-of-an-inch-thick coat of joint compound over the surface using short, gently-curved, x-shaped strokes at different angles. You’ll want to start at the top left corner and work your way down the surface until it’s entirely covered, periodically cleaning the edge of the trowel with a water-dampened rag to remove dried-up joint compound. Let the joint compound dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually 24 hours), then lightly sand the surface with 60- to 80-grit sandpaper. Use circular motions to soften the appearance of ridges in the texture. After sanding, wipe down the wall with a water-dampened rag to remove sanding dust, then let the wall dry completely.

To deepen the color variations in the joint compound, brush pre-tinted glaze over highlights (lighter areas) of the surface with a paintbrush. Use a pattern of x-shaped strokes as in the joint compound coat. Real marble has a high contrast between light and dark tones, so choose a glaze color significantly darker than the joint compound coat if you’re trying to recreate the look of marble. Alternately, if you’re after the low-contrast appearance of limestone, choose a glaze closer in hue (but still slightly darker than) the joint compound coat. When the glaze dries completely, you should see the dazzling effect of highlights and lowlights in color.

Preserve the texture of your Venetian plaster finish by covering it with one coat of a clear water-based sealant using a roller. If you’re after the look of polished marble, choose a sealant with a semi-gloss or satin finish. To get the look of limestone, choose a matte sealant. Remove the painter’s tape once the sealant is dry to reveal your revamped wall or ceiling.

Maintaining the Look

To keep your sealed Venetian plaster clean, dust the surface on a weekly basis with an electrostatic duster. If you prefer to vacuum the surface, be sure to use a soft brush attachment. Similarly, if you opt to sweep, cover the broom head with a cloth to prevent scratches. When the surface becomes stained or grimy, clean it with a soft cloth or clean sock dampened with a mixture of one teaspoon liquid dish soap and four cups of warm water. Make a second pass with a water-dampened cloth to remove the soap solution. Follow these techniques, and your Venetian plaster finish should last for years or even decades to come.

Bob Vila Radio: What the Heck Is Shiplap?

It's taken the home design world by storm, but what is it? Here's a quick primer on shiplap.

What is shiplap? For one thing, it’s a trendy wood wall treatment. More specifically, the term “shiplap” refers to rough-sawn planks with grooves cut along the tops and bottom edges, allowing for a snug-fitting, flush-to-the-wall installation.

What Is Shiplap?

Photo: istockphoto.com


Listen to BOB VILA ON SHIPLAP or read below:

Originally, when shiplap first made the jump from shipbuilding to home construction, it served mainly as exterior siding. In recent years, however, creative homeowners have been using shiplap to create wide-ranging, dramatic effects inside the home.

Different finishes and lighting effects work differently to highlight or deemphasize the horizontal seams between the interlocking wall planks. If you finish shiplap with clean, white paint, then pair it with natural wood flooring and soft, colorful accents, you end up with a classic Cape look. Stain the shiplap, on the other hand, and you achieve a more rustic aesthetic, with the character of the underlying wood as the star of the show.

With shiplap as a design component, the possibilities are nearly endless!

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!

Solved! What Cracks in the Ceiling Really Mean

Do you have cracks in your ceiling? Find out if the cause is simply cosmetic, of if you're facing a structural issue that needs immediate attention.

What To Do About Ceiling Cracks

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I just noticed a crack in my ceiling, but I’m not sure how long it’s been there. Is it a normal symptom of an aging house? Or is it an indication that something is dangerously wrong? Should I be worried?

A: Over time, virtually all homes will develop cracks that are cosmetic in nature and not indicative of a larger problem. But some cracks—especially those wider than 1/8-inch—may signal structural issues. Examining the shape, size, and location of the crevice can give insight into possible causes and solutions. Here’s how to deal with cracks in the ceiling, whether they appear in the bedroom, kitchen, basement, or other room of the house.

A fine straight ceiling crack could be the result of a poorly taped joint. If an insufficient amount of drywall mud was used during the taping process, the paper tape won’t adhere well to the joint. As a result, you may notice a straight “crack” along the edge of loosened tape. Homeowners can choose to ignore this superficial problem, since it isn’t a structural or safety hazard. You can also minimize the appearance of the crack by applying a small amount of thin drywall compound under the loose tape and re-adhering it to the drywall.

A discolored crack indicates a moisture problem. Sometimes, water from an overhead leak can trickle between the ceiling’s drywall panels, causing the joint tape to loosen, creating the appearance of a crack, and leaving unsightly yellow or brown stains. Before you can repair the ceiling, determine the cause of the leak and fix it. Then, scrape off the loose tape and re-tape the joint, either with a drywall repair kit or paper tape and joint compound. If you have a textured ceiling, use an aerosol texture product (found in home improvement stores) to cover the newly re-taped joint so it blends into the ceiling’s existing texture.

Note: Drywall will resist some moisture, but long-term leaks can result in water damage, which requires replacement of the damaged drywall. If the drywall has swollen or softened, it’s no longer viable; the damaged section must be replaced before re-taping and re-texturing.

What To Do About Ceiling Cracks

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tiny spiderweb cracks may suggest thick application of drywall compound. Thinned drywall compound is often used to create a textured ceiling. If it was applied too thickly, you may notice tiny cracks that run in all directions because the compound shrinks as it dries. To conceal the blemishes, try applying a thin layer of drywall compound over the existing texture. You could also remove the existing texture by sanding—a messier prospect—and apply new drywall compound to the ceiling.

Truss uplift can cause a horizontal crack between an interior wall and the ceiling. Roof trusses are designed to move slightly as their wood members expand and contract with attic temperature and moisture fluctuations. When the roof truss pulls upward, it may lift the ceiling drywall along with it, creating a crack between the wall and the ceiling. This common mistake often occurs if a handyman attaches drywall panels to the trusses near the edge of a non-load bearing wall. The only way to permanently fix the issue is removing the nails or screws that secure the edge of the drywall panels to the trusses, and reattaching them to clips or blocks installed on the top of the interior wall plates. It’s best to hire a professional for this project.

If a homeowner doesn’t care to repair the issue, they can camouflage the crack by installing dark-stained crown molding around the top of the room. The molding should be attached only to the framing members in the wall—not to the ceiling joists. This cosmetic repair won’t stop the trusses (and the ceiling drywall) from lifting with moisture and temperature changes, but the dark color of the molding will disguise the appearance of the crack, while also adding a decorative touch to the room.

Ceiling cracks accompanied by wall cracks could be the result of the house settling. Homes naturally settle as they age, which can create crevices in the walls and ceilings typically above doors and windows as well as in corners. These superficial hairline cracks can usually be re-taped—but, if the house continues to settle, the cracks are likely to reappear in the same spots. If the gaps are wider than 1/8-inch, it’s a good idea to consult a reputable home builder, since you may have a structural problem.

In older homes with plaster ceilings, movement and moisture may create cracks. Since plaster is extremely rigid, the slightest movement can cause a gap. Typically, plaster ceiling cracks have two causes: house settling and temperature or moisture fluctuations in an attic, which result in the expansion or contraction of framing members. Homeowners can fill these commonly occurring hairline cracks with new plaster and repaint the ceiling. If you have wider cracks or sections of loose plaster, the lath system beneath the plaster is likely failing—in which case, the plaster should be removed and replaced with drywall.

Large cracks on a bowed ceiling could indicate a structural problem. When a ceiling bows or sags, you have a problem that requires prompt attention. If you’ve recently installed something heavy on the floor above—such as a hot tub, a waterbed, or a pool table—the ceiling joists might sag under the excessive weight. A ceiling may also crack or bow due to the incorrect removal of a load-bearing wall or damage to other support members. A structural engineer or a reputable builder should examine the ceiling as soon as possible to determine the best way to remedy the situation.

Cool Tools: An Easier Way to Repair and Finish Drywall

A smart new tool makes the messy job of taping drywall easier, faster, and cleaner, and rewards you with polished, professional-looking results.

Finally, An Easier Way to Tape Drywall

Photo: hydetools.com

Drywall taping has always been a notoriously messy, imprecise undertaking. In the past, no matter the size of the job, this repair and construction work typically involved buying large quantities of drywall mud (and potentially mixing it up with water using a drill and paddle bit), scooping the thick paste into a pan, and smearing it on the wall with a joint knife. In the process, nearly as much mud ended up caked on your clothing, floor, and tools as it did on the wall! Fortunately, one new tool on the market aims to take do-it-yourself jobs of drywall taping and repairing to a professional level. Discover an ingenious new way to tackle your next drywall project with much success—and less mess and hassle—using the revolutionary MudGun Kit for Small Repairs from Hyde Tools.

The MudGun itself should feel familiar to handy homeowners as it resembles and works similarly to a caulk gun. Squeeze the gun’s trigger, and drywall mud is dispensed from the tip. A controlled speed and precise applicator provide the exact amount of mud you need, right where you want it, plus the multiple nozzles and a finishing head ensure consistent results. No more scooping too much or too little compound from the pan, and no need to smear it swiftly on the wall before it slides off your taping knife. Best of all? No more worrying about any evidence of your drywall repair showing through a paint job.

Waste Less Mud—and Less Time
Before the MudGun, DIYers often whipped up more mud than they needed in order to achieve the right ratio of mix to water or bought larger quantities of premixed mud than actually necessary in order to eliminate running out on the job. Not so with this new mud-dispensing design. Convenient tubes of drywall compound, called MudPaks, are premixed to the perfect consistency for taping and pop right into the cylindrical body of the MudGun before—and even during—any job. As you apply the mud to wall joints, the MudPak collapses in the cylinder. Run out of compound on a job? Simply open the MudGun, remove the spent tube, and pop in a new one without wasting a minute. It’s just that easy! A single MudPak covers up to 20 feet—often all you need for a small wall repair—and is sold in six-tube cases. When the job is done, simply wipe down the MudGun parts with plain water.


Finally, An Easier Way to Tape Drywall

Photo: hydetools.com

Get Professional Results
With the MudGun for Small Repairs, you can do everything professional tapers do—just with a whole lot more accuracy than in a typical DIY job. The two specialized embedding nozzles and a finishing head included in the kit take care of the bulk of the work as you continue to pump the trigger. The flat joint nozzle enables you to dispense a continuous bead of mud over drywall joints when you’re embedding drywall paper tape, and the kit also includes a six-inch taping knife for smoothing out ridges or removing excess mud before it dries. Switch to an inside corner nozzle and a corner taping tool to create crisp corners where walls meet or where a wall meets a ceiling—a task that can be a headache with traditional taping methods. When it comes to applying and smoothing a uniform amount of mud to inside corners, a flat taping knife simply cannot compare with the precision of the MudGun.

Once you’ve put a couple of coats of drywall compound on a joint, waited for it to dry, and sanded it smooth, the true test of a successful taping job lies in the application of a perfect top coat of mud over a joint. Here’s where the MudGun truly excels. Before the MudGun, the top coat had to be applied by hand, which proved difficult for anyone who hadn’t been taping walls for years. Now, the MudGun does all the fine-tuning work for you. Merely by gently squeezing the trigger and moving the finishing head slowly but firmly over the joint, you’ll create a uniform, ultra-thin finish coat. Once completely dry, the smoothed-over wall needs just a little sanding before it takes on a flawless new look with either paint or wallpaper.

Find both the MudGun for Small Repairs ($87.25) and MudPaks ($4.89 for a case of six) at HydeStore.com.



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