Category: Walls & Ceilings


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Heating a Room with High Ceilings - Under Hardwood

Photo: warmboard.com

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.

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


So, You Want to… Remove a Load-Bearing Wall

Get up to speed on some of the considerations, caveats, and planning involved with the decision to remove a load-bearing wall.

SHARES
How to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall

Photo: istockphoto.com

In the old days, homes were built with a warren of smaller, sharply delineated rooms, each devoted to its own distinct purpose. Homeowners today often prefer open, fluid floor plans, at least on the ground level. For that reason, many renovations call for the removal of a wall, be it shear or load-bearing. No question, shear walls are a lot easier to knock down. Provided you take the necessary safety precautions and follow local building regulations, you might even be able to do it yourself. That’s definitely not the case with a loading-bearing wall. For a successful result, you must work with a reliable contractor, structural engineer, or both.

There are two common approaches. Both rely on the addition of a bearing beam to take on the load that had been absorbed by the wall being removed. The two approaches differ when it comes to the handling of the beam itself. The less ambitious and less expensive method involves leaving the beam exposed. You can paint the beam or box it in, but the discerning eye will probably notice it’s there. More complicated, labor-intensive, and expensive is to conceal the beam so that it runs between, not beneath, the ceiling joists. This approach leaves behind no visible sign that the load-bearing wall has been removed, only a flat, smooth ceiling.

How to Remove a Load-Bearing Wall - Demolition Work

Photo: istockphoto.com

Because it affects the structural integrity of your home, removing a load-bearing wall isn’t a casual undertaking by any stretch of the imagination. But for professionals in the building and remodeling industry, it’s more or less routine. That said, because every home features its own set of idiosyncrasies, strategies vary. Well before work begins, contractors and/or engineers have to confront a number of questions, chief among them: What type of beam should be employed? Each has its own pros and cons.

Dimensional Lumber: Are you removing only a portion of a load-bearing wall, perhaps to accommodate a new doorway? In that situation, the hired pro may recommend a beam made of standard dimensional lumber (provided doing so would be permissible under the relevant building codes). To create the beam, boards are typically bolted together, with a half-inch layer of plywood between. If you need to support a span wider than a doorway, though, dimensional lumber typically won’t cut it.

Laminated Veneer Lumber: In private homes, pros employ laminated veneer lumber beams (LVLs) perhaps more than any other type. Why? First and foremost, because they comprise multiple wood strands bonded under high heat and pressure, LVLs are exceptionally strong. In addition, as they’re factory-made, LVLs are both uniform and stable. Uniform sizing means LVLs are relatively easy to work with, and their stability (resistance to warping, splitting, and shrinking) makes them ideal for framing.

Steel I-Beams: Laminated veneer lumber has virtually eliminated the need for steel beams in average residential settings, but there are exceptions. For instance, as steel beams are more compact than LVLs, they are sometimes specified in situations where limited headroom exists. I-beams are costly, though. For one thing, they are heavy, which means that installation requires both manpower and heavy equipment. Plus, steel beams arrive on site in one piece, which, depending on the length of the beam, may or may not fit easily into the building.

Are vertical supports necessary to support the new beam? That depends on the length and type of beam, the existing framing, and a host of other factors. An engineer would perform a series of load calculations to arrive at a recommendation, which might call for vertical supports on their own, or possibly entail additional concrete footings at foundation level. A general rule of thumb: The larger the load-bearing wall, the more complex its removal, particularly if the goal is to create sweeping, open space interrupted as little as possible by visible structural elements.

If planning plays a critical role in removing a load-bearing wall, so does prep work. The most visible, dramatic changes take place at a relatively late stage, but a much more modest yet absolutely essential effort goes on at the start—bracing. Here, contractors carefully prop up the ceiling joists on both sides of the work area, using temporary support beams in combination with adjustable jacks. Once set, the bracing more or less prevents the building from collapsing when the bearing wall comes down. The demolition? That’s easy. It’s everything else that’s hard.


Removing Wallpaper—It’s Easier Than You Think!

Peeling back outdated wall coverings doesn't have to be a pain in the neck! Armed with a few wallpaper removal tools from HYDE, you can tackle this weekend project with ease.

How to Remove Wallpaper - With HYDE Wallpaper Scoring Tool

Photo: hydetools.com

No homeowner wants to be confronted with ripped-up wall coverings as a day-in, day-out reminder of a job not yet finished. For this reason, wallpaper removal is a project that should be done in one fell swoop rather than dragged out over the course of a week in odd spare moments. But the sheer scope of the project—imagine four long walls in a high-ceilinged master bedroom—and fear of failure can be just daunting enough to discourage even the most determined homeowner from taking on the project at all. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get rid of that outdated, tired old wallpaper. (And no, we’re not suggesting you run out to hire a professional.) With the proper technique and assistance from the right tools, you can remove even the most stubborn wallpaper on your own and with ease, leaving you free to transform your walls with a fresher, more modern treatment.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Nonslip drop cloth
- Wide painter’s tape
- Hot water
- Hand or pump sprayer
- Liquid fabric softener
- HYDE Wallpaper Scoring Tool
- Ladder
- HYDE 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper
- Large noncellulose sponge
- Trash bag

STEP 1
First, take precautionary measures to protect the flooring and baseboards in the room where you’re planning to remove the wallpaper. Spread a nonslip canvas drop cloth over the floors, then cover up the baseboards with wide painter’s tape. The tape will keep scraps of fallen wallpaper from coming into contact with your baseboards, saving the molding from damage and you from having to unstick the paper all over again.

STEP 2
Test just how tightly adhered your wallpaper is by soaking a corner of one panel with some hot water from a hand or pump sprayer. After 10 minutes, peel back the moistened wallpaper. If it comes off easily, you’re in luck! You have strippable wallpaper. All you need to do is spray each panel thoroughly with hot water and give it time to absorb. After a few minutes, peel the panel off. Work on one panel at a time until all are down, then skip to Step 6.

If, however, the wallpaper remains stuck after you spray on the water and wait 10 minutes, you may be dealing with a vinyl wall covering that resists water absorption. Proceed to the next step for the key to tackling your obstinate wallpaper.

How to Remove Wallpaper - With HYDE 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper

Photo: hydetools.com

STEP 3
To better reach the source of the problem—the wallpaper glue—you’ll want to make many tiny incisions in the wallpaper so the hot water will be able to reach and saturate the adhesive beneath. The fastest, most painless way to do this requires one simple-to-use instrument: HYDE’s Wallpaper Scoring Tool.

Position the easy-to-grip tool against the wall and move it back and forth in circles and swipes, taking care not to miss the areas closest to the ceiling and corners. With 96 amazingly sharp teeth, HYDE’s Wallpaper Scoring Tool makes wallpaper perforation a snap. After you’ve worked your way around the walls, you’ll see thousands of tiny holes in even the toughest paper.

STEP 4
After scoring the wallpaper, spray hot water on the wall; work on only one or two panels at a time so the water doesn’t cool off too much as you proceed through the next steps. Wait 15 minutes for the panel to saturate completely, then peel back a corner to see how easily it releases.

Do not despair if the paper resists your tug. If it’s still stuck in the same spot, repeat the spraying process. Depending on the thickness of the glue and how long it has been in place, you may need to apply hot water multiple times in order to loosen the paper enough for easy removal. Are you up against a real challenge? Mix liquid fabric softener—which helps dissolve wallpaper glue—into the hot water at the ratio of 1/4 cup of softener per gallon of water. Dampen your wallpaper panels with this solution as you did with the plain hot water.

STEP 5
Once the wallpaper seems loose enough to remove, climb your ladder to start where the wall meets the ceiling. Because loosened strips of wallpaper will naturally hang downward, working from the top down allows you to scrape and peel as you go. For best results, use HYDE’s 4-Inch Glass and Wall Scraper to shave the damp wallpaper from the wall. The blade should be turned to dull side out, instead of the sharp blade which will tend to dig into the wallboard.

While no one would fault you for wanting to finish up the project as quickly as possible, use a little caution while you scrape. You may very well be planning on painting the wall after the paper is gone, and you really don’t want to have to fill in nicks and gouges on the drywall or plaster before you paint. To protect the wall, hold the scraper so the blade is nearly parallel to the wall, and draw your tool along the wall carefully.

STEP 6
Keep a large noncellulose sponge and a bucket of warm water handy while you’re stripping off the paper so you can scrub down the wall frequently to remove residual glue. This is easier to do while the wall is still wet; once the job is complete, the glue can harden on the wall and require rewetting and scraping.

When all the paper has been removed, a final wipe down of the entire wall using the sponge and fresh water is all that’s necessary to prep the wall for its new look. Wait a day for the walls to dry completely, and you can move ahead with either a fresh coat of paint or another style of wallpaper—perhaps one with a timeless design so you won’t have to repeat the project too soon!

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