Walls & Ceilings - 2/13 - Bob Vila

Category: Walls & Ceilings

Solved! What to Do About Water Stains on the Ceiling

Conceal an unsightly water stain on the ceiling—and put a stopper on the leak that caused it—with these stain-fighting tips.

Water Stain On Ceiling

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I recently noticed some water stains on the ceiling of my living room. I’m not sure where they came from, but the ceiling feels dry to the touch now. What’s the best way to cover them up? And since the stains are dry, can I assume that whatever caused them is no longer a threat to my home?

A: A water stain on the ceiling is usually a by-product of a roof, heating appliance, or plumbing leak that seeped through the ceiling and evaporated—leaving you with an unsightly patch of dried, discolored mineral deposits. A word of caution: If you cover up a water stain without addressing the leak that caused it, you run the risk of additional staining on the ceiling, not to mention more serious structural or electrical damage. That’s why it’s so important to find and repair the cause of the water stain as soon as possible, even if it is no longer wet. Follow the tips below to pinpoint and repair the cause of the stains, then clean, prime, and paint over the water stains to restore the blemish-free finish of your ceiling.

Identify and repair the root cause. Your first priority when dealing with a water stain should be to find the source of the leak (or in rarer cases, the flood) that caused it—the roof, the upstairs radiator, and the upstairs bathroom are good places to check.

If the roof is to blamefind and repair and repair crumbling shingles, compromised flashing (the weatherproofing material installed on the roof), or weakened seals around roof vents, all of which can give way to leaks. If you cannot patch the leak in the roof, you may need to replace it.

If it looks to be a leaky radiator, search out and fix the radiator body, valve, pipe, or bleed point (where cold air escapes from the radiator).

If coming from the upstairs bathroomreplace old caulking that may be letting moisture seep in and encouraging leaks. Also, repair overflowing toilets and unclog clogged sinks or shower drains that could flood the bathroom floor with water.

Make the necessary repairs, or get the help of a professional roofer, HVAC professional, or plumber as needed, and you should be able to prevent future leaks—and water stains—on the ceiling.

Clean the stain with bleach. Now that you’ve dealt with the underlying problem, you’re ready to tackle the stain itself—starting with a thorough cleaning. Cleaning the stained area of the ceiling with a mild homemade bleach solvent (one cup of bleach and three cups of warm water) will fade the stain and remove any lingering mildew, grease, dirt, or dust that can prevent primer and paint from adhering to the ceiling.

Water Stain On Ceiling

Photo: istockphoto.com

Start by setting a drop cloth on the floor below the ceiling stain and propping up a ladder to reach it. Donning protective gloves and goggles, climb up the ladder and wipe down the stain with a clean sponge saturated in the bleach solution. Rinse the bleach solution off the ceiling with water from a spray bottle, then wipe the damp area dry with a clean cloth. Once the ceiling is completely dry, cover the ceiling trim with painter’s tape to protect it from primer and paint.

Apply a base coat of stain-blocking primer. At this stage, it can be tempting to slap a coat of paint directly over the water stain and call it a day. However, interior latex paints—which are commonly applied to ceilings—are a poor choice for a base coat over a water stain because they’re water-soluble. When a water stain comes into contact with latex paint, the stain dissolves into the wet paint layer as the paint dries, causing the discolored mineral contents of the stain to show through the paint to the ceiling surface once again.

Your best option for a base coat to cover water stains on the ceiling is an oil-based, mold-resistant, stain-blocking primer (such as Kilz Oil-Based Stain-Blocking Primer) in a shade closely matching that of the existing ceiling. Oil-based stain-blocking primers are water-insoluble, therefore, water stains cannot bleed through. Unlike latex paint, these stain-blocking primers also contain a high volume of binders (polymers that bind paint pigments), so that the primer can effectively adhere to the surface over the long run.

Primer (and paint) application depends on your style of ceiling. If you have a smooth ceiling, roll the primer over the water stains using a paint roller with an extension and a ⅜-inch nap roller cover, then let the primer dry for two hours or as instructed by the primer packaging. If you have a textured ceiling, opt instead for a thicker nap roller cover (¾ -inch to 1-¼ -inch nap) or spray on the primer using a can of stain-blocking primer (such as Zinsser Cover Stain Primer).

Cover the primer with ceiling paint. The primed area of the ceiling will usually be a few shades lighter or darker than the rest of the ceiling, which can draw the eye to the stained area. Painting over the primed area will help color-match it with the rest of the ceiling for a professional-quality cover-up. Whether you have a smooth or textured ceiling, you can use either a latex (water-based) or an alkyd (oil-based) ceiling paint over the oil-based primer—though latex options dry faster and produce fewer fumes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based counterparts. Make sure to purchase ceiling-specific paint, which is usually thicker than traditional paint and comes in a non-reflective finish that helps hide small blemishes. Choose a paint that matches the color of your ceiling for a uniform look, then apply it over the primed area with a roller (choose a ⅜-inch nap cover for a smooth ceiling, or a ¾ -inch to 1-¼ -inch nap for a textured ceiling). Let the first coat of paint dry for up to four hours or as instructed by the packaging, then apply a second coat for more even coverage. After the second coat dries, the ceiling should look as though there were never any water stains.


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All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

This architectural style stands the test of time as one that delivers drama, elegance, and an emphasis on spaciousness.

All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Bainbridge Island, WA

Inspired by a Baroque and early Renaissance architectural style in which a roof’s framework exposed overhead beams crossing at different angles, today’s public buildings and private homes alike strive to capture the same elegance and texture through coffered ceilings. In architectural terms, the word “coffer” means “indentation.” To reconstruct the design, upward indentations in a ceiling are framed by beams arranged in a grid pattern of rectangles, squares, octagons, or other polygonal shapes. The finished product is three-dimensional sunken panels that slightly resemble a deeply grooved checkerboard. Besides their dramatic appearance, coffered ceilings have other benefits as well: They give the illusion of spaciousness, absorb excess sound, and potentially add to a home’s resale value. Intrigued? Before you set off to install a coffered ceiling in your home, read these considerations for the highly customizable design element.

While coffered ceilings found in residential homes are considerably less ornate than they’re counterparts in many large public buildings—courthouses, historic churches, and art galleries—the ceiling designs still create quite the focal point. Homeowners often dress up the ceiling by attaching architectural medallions to the coffers, installing tin ceiling tiles or wallpaper in the center coffer panels, painting or staining the beams to create visual depth, and incorporating ridges and scallops into the wood and beams. These design choices make the show-stopping feature easily customizable to the style of any particular home.

Although coffered ceilings draw the eye upward, the beams extend downward into a room, taking up some overhead space. Given this construction, coffered ceilings work best in rooms with high ceilings, nine feet tall or more. Rooms with lower ceilings may feel too claustrophobic or cluttered with the addition of coffers. Also keep in mind that the deeper the coffered indentations, the higher the existing ceiling should be—this ensures the bottoms of the beams don’t interfere with head space or visually overpower a room.


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Rye, NY


Ceiling height. Although coffered ceilings draw the eye upward, the beams extend downward into a room, taking up some overhead space. Given this construction, coffered ceilings work best in rooms with high ceilings, nine feet tall or more. Rooms with lower ceilings may feel too claustrophobic or cluttered with the addition of coffers. Also keep in mind that the deeper the coffered indentations, the higher the existing ceiling should be—this ensures the bottoms of the beams don’t interfere with head space or visually overpower a room.

Faux or functional beams. Most coffered ceilings in residential homes aren’t load-bearing, meaning they’re not part of a home’s structural system that supports weight. One exception would occur when adding a second story to a ranch home: Homeowners may opt to install a coffered ceiling to camouflage necessary overhead support beams. The majority of coffered ceilings are purely decorative, constructed entirely from hollow faux beams. In fact, if you want large and deeply recessed coffers, an engineer may require additional ceiling support (since even faux beams may add too much weight to a ceiling, depending on the existing joist structure).

Installation costs. If you’re planning to install a coffered ceiling, know that the labor-intensive endeavor does require advanced carpentry skills and structural work—that those without proper carpentry know-how should hire a professional for the job. Expect professional installation costs to be at least $25 per square foot. The detail in the design, as well as the type of wood you choose, will affect the final cost as well. Painted pine will be less expensive than stained cherry or red oak, and ornate designs will boost the cost even further.


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Home in Minneapolis, MN


Whether you decide to DIY a coffered ceiling or design and work with a professional to implement your plans, the first phase takes place on paper. Homeowners must decide on the number of coffers they desire, as well as the depth and width of the beams. To achieve a uniform pattern, make sure to figure out the proper ceiling dimensions and coffer dimensions first. Then, after planning the design, the next step is transferring it to the ceiling with chalk lines to represent the position of the beams.

Following the standard method of installation, you should first position the main base beams, which run perpendicular to the direction of the existing ceiling joists. At this point, the base beams are only pieces of lumber, such as 2×4s or 2×6s; later, they’ll be wrapped with additional wood to mimic the look of heftier beams. The main base beams serve as the support beams for the rest of the ceiling, so it’s important to attach them securely with adhesive and a nail gun.

The base crossbeams, which complete the grid pattern, should be cut from the same type of lumber as the main base beams. The base crossbeams run parallel to the joists and therefore don’t attach to them; instead, they’ll connect to the inner edges of the main base beams with adhesive and a nail gun. The end result should resemble a checkerboard pattern on the ceiling, which is the skeleton of a coffered ceiling.

The next step involves constructing the faux beams. To ease the process, it’s a good idea to paint or stain the wood before installation. Depending on the ceiling design and type of wood you choose, you (or your contractor) may opt to frame the sides and bottoms of the faux beams directly on the base beams. As an alternative, the faux beams can also be constructed as three-sided boxes, which are then lifted and installed over the base beams. Then install inside coffer trim and any desired ornamentation, if applicable. Now step back and enjoy the dramatic overhead effect of your English Renaissance-inspired ceiling design!


All You Need to Know About Coffered Ceilings

Photo: Zillow Home in Glenview, IL

Cool Tools: The Hands-Down Easiest Way to Hang Almost Anything

Do you have an awe-inspiring piece of art or a beloved memento you want to showcase on a wall? Put down that hammer! This time, rely on High & Mighty™ hangers to mount your decorative objects on drywall in seconds.

The Easiest Way to Hang Things - High & Mighty Key Rack

Photo: designedtobestuckup.com

However elegant the outcome, hanging art, photos, or mementos on drywall can be a painstaking process. During the balancing act required to precisely position nails, screws, or other picture-hanging hardware while swinging an unwieldy hammer, you can drop the fastener, stub your finger, and still end up with your artwork woefully askew. But here’s some good news for all those who have ever hesitated to switch up their decor merely to avoid these mishaps: In the time it takes to hang one framed picture using that old-fashioned, awkward approach, you can create an entire gallery wall with a helping hand from the new High & Mighty™ line of hangers. This collection from the Hillman Group includes wall hangers, decorative hooks, and key rails (as well as hook rails and floating shelves coming soon!) that require only your own two thumbs to install. These sleek yet strong hangers are decorating essentials for both first-time and experienced homeowners who need to dress up drab walls in a hurry. Because the unique hanging technology can support items from 10 to 125 pounds, these little wonders can mount everything from small mirrors and picture frames to heavy mirrors. Keep reading to learn the secret behind these smart must-haves and find the solution to every hanging quandary you’ve ever encountered.


Designed with homeowners of all DIY skill levels in mind, High & Mighty™ hangers can be installed in drywall without using bulky hammers or heavy drills or pesky anchors, nails, or screws. Instead, through a simple place-push-hang installation process, your own two thumbs do the work of an entire toolbox.

Hanging anything with a High & Mighty™ wall hanger is just that simple: Position the solid steel fastener in the desired location on the wall, push the sides of the hanger into the drywall using both thumbs, then hang the decorative object. For hooks and key rails—and, soon, hook rails and floating shelves—installation is just as hassle-free. Place the hanging mount on the wall, press it into the wall according to the illustrated directions, and fit the product cover (be it a hook, rail, or shelf) snugly over the top. Plus, each hook rail and floating shelf package will include a template and miniature level to help you avoid lopsided hangings and achieve picture-perfect results every time.


No matter what home accent you’re trying to hang—a framed family photo, a collection of keys, a child’s backpack…you name it—High & Mighty™ offers a super-strength hanger tailored to the task. To help you identify exactly which option best fits your needs, High & Mighty™ has an easy-to-use web tool that asks two questions: what type of object would you like to hang and how much does it weigh? You’ll then be given a set of personalized recommendations that may include any of the following wall-hanging heroes (as well as their weight capacity).


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Wall Hangers

Photo: designedtobestuckup.com

Wall Hangers: Designed for use with picture wire, saw-tooth mounts, and ring-style mounts, High & Mighty™ Wall Hangers offer the perfect resting spots for picture frames, art canvases, mirrors, and clocks. Despite the slim silhouette of these coin-size hangers, their solid steel construction allows them to safely and securely support heavier decor. Just select a hanger suited to the size of your decorative accent (whether 20, 40, 60, or even 125 pounds), and follow the easy place-and-push installation steps to secure it to your wall in seconds. Available at Lowe’s.


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Decorative Wall Hooks

Photo: designedtobestuckup.com

Decorative Hooks: Have you run out of closet space to hang your hat, coat, bag, or backpack? Relocate everyday garments and accessories to High & Mighty™’s metal or plastic Decorative Hooks to keep clutter at bay. Squeeze a hook or two into almost any open wall space—like a tiny entryway or a closet sidewall—and enjoy seriously strong storage in an instant. Available in 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-pound capacity versions, these trusty hooks with sturdy steel wall mounts stay put where traditional hooks falter. (In fact, they offer up to five times the strength of other tool-free hooks.) And the variety of shapes, styles, and colors—from oval to rectangular, and solid white to oil-rubbed bronze—boost a wall’s form as well as function. Available at Home Depot.


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Hook and Key Rails

Photo: designedtobestuckup.com

Key Rails and (coming in Fall 2017) Hook Rails: Who said key rails are only for keys? High & Mighty™ Key Rails and Hook Rails make it possible to hang up and organize many small collections found throughout the home. Both boast steel mounts sturdy enough to hold jewelry, coffee mugs, and leashes on the 5- to 10-pound key rails and even coats, bags, and umbrellas on the generous 30- and 50-pound weight limits of hook rails. Choose your favorite hook and plaque styles—like key rails with elegant oval rings or hook rails with a storage-friendly double-hook design—and the four to six strong hooks built into each rail make it easy to corral essentials in a convenient location like the mudroom, kitchen command center, or master closet. With your possessions so neatly displayed in a row, it’s never been so easy to find what you need!


All of the Possibilities for Easy-Mount Floating Shelves

Photo: designedtobestuckup.com

(Coming in Fall 2017) Floating Shelves: With High & Mighty™ Floating Shelves at the ready, you can install stylish vertical storage at a moment’s notice—no need to even stop to find a stud! The 18-, 24-, and 36-inch shelves offer just enough space for displaying indoor plants, photos, lightweight decor, and mementos. They’ll even help to clear clutter from work surfaces: Mount one in just minutes in a storage-starved bathroom to relieve your crowded vanity of some bottles or above the desk so you can move your mini library to the wall. Whether you opt for a white ledge with beveled corners or a more modern style with straight edges and an espresso finish, the 17 shelf variations allow you to match the color and design scheme of the room.


High & Mighty™ hangers are built to last, but they’re also easy to remove when your wall is ready for a fresh face. Simply lift the artwork or other decorative object from the hanger (and, if needed, slide the hook rail, key rail, or floating shelf off the hanging mount), then wedge a flathead screwdriver beneath the hanger and gently pry it from the wall. The reusable fastener is ready for its next placement, and the wall itself will show almost no evidence that anything had been there. Unlike conspicuous nail and screw holes that can turn a wall into an eyesore, the minor holes left behind by the claws of High & Mighty™ hangers mean that your drywall needs barely any preparation before your next round of decorating. Just repeat that same speedy place-push-hang installation process to reinvigorate your walls with a new look.

Eager to get started on a super-simple wall refresh? Find out where you can get your hands on a new High & Mighty™ wall hanger.



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

Solved! How High to Hang Pictures

Whether a casual vacation snapshot or a professional family portrait, you can give your favorite pictures the attention they deserve with this guide to the perfect height for hanging pictures on the wall.

How High to Hang Pictures

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I recently framed my son’s graduation photo and want to display it in my living room. If I hang it too high, I’m afraid it will stick out like a sore thumb. But hung too low on the wall, it will blend in with other furnishings in the room. What’s the right height and technique for hanging a picture?

A: Knowing how high to hang pictures not only improves a room’s aesthetics but guarantees more comfortable viewing, too! Most homeowners and renters hang pictures so high on the wall that viewers are forced to crane their necks to admire your favorite photos, but you want to keep it at eye level for the average person.

Position your picture so that it is 57 inches on-center—meaning the center of the frame sits exactly that far from the floor. By following the rule of 57 inches, you wield the power to turn any picture into an accessible focal point of the room. If you’re feeling skeptical, consider that this principle is adopted by many museums and art galleries. And, when the centers of the pictures throughout a room fall in alignment, you achieve a harmonious and balanced perspective at every angle, even when you hang a row of variously sized pictures.

How High to Hang Pictures

Photo: istockphoto.com

This rule of thumb also applies to a collection of pictures, as in a gallery wall. When working with several frames, the center of the picture grouping (rather than the center of any one picture) should hit the 57-inch level on the wall. Say, for example, you want to display four five-inch-tall pictures mounted vertically with four inches of wall space between each one. You’d measure the top edge of the top frame to the bottom edge of the bottom frame for a total height of 32 inches. Half the gallery height—which is 16 inches—should lie above the 57-inch level, and the other half should lie below it. Avoid making mistakes in the arrangement of a gallery wall by laying out a template with cut-to-size paper affixed to the wall with tape.

That said, it’s not a hard and fast rule for every scenario. If furnishings like a high-back chair or roll-top desk partially cover art centered 57 inches up the wall, adjust accordingly. Here, it’s better to distance bottom ledge of the picture frame six to eight inches from the top of the accent.

Use the picture’s center point to calculate where to mount the hardware. Mounting a frame to the wall always gets a little tricky since its hardware—be it a wire, sawtooth, or D-ring hanger—can be located anywhere from a half-inch to three inches below the top edge of the frame. Know exactly where to put your wall hanger to ensure the frame’s center is 57 inches above the floor using a few quick calculations:

STEP 1: Divide the height of the frame in half.

STEP 2: From this number, subtract the distance from the top of the hardware to the top of the picture frame itself. (If your picture frame has a wire, pull the wire taut when measuring.)

STEP 3: Add the resulting figure to 57 inches.

STEP 4: Measure this distance from any point on the floor and mark the spot on the wall. This is where you should install the wall-mounting hardware to hang your picture.

Ready, set, mount. Ensure that your project won’t come crashing down from its new height later on by selecting wall-mounting hardware—such as a standard picture-hanging nail, adhesive-backed 3M Command Sawtooth Picture Hanger, or tool-free High & Mighty™ wall hanger—based on the weight of your frame. Then, follow manufacturer instructions to install and check your work with a level to perfectly hang your photo for all to see.


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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

How To: Mud Drywall

Achieve flawlessly flat surfaces on your construction project with this materials primer and step-by-step guide.

How to Mud Drywall

Photo: istockphoto.com

“Mudding,” the process of applying multiple thin coats of drywall compound to the joints and screw indentations in newly hung drywall, sounds messy—and it is. But when done correctly, the result is a wall so flat that few observers can spot the seams beneath. While professional drywall tapers make the task look easy, do-it-yourselfers find that it takes practice, skill, and—of course—the right stuff for the job (in this case, the mud itself and the tape that prevents cracks from appearing in the seams). This guide will give you a primer on materials as well as step-by-step instruction for how to mud drywall, so you’ll feel confident and not like you’ve got to muddle through!


The two basic categories of drywall mud, “premixed” and “powdered,” are available in a handful of additional options that can make it tough to choose the right product when faced with a dozen different types in the DIY store.

Premixed means just that: The mud has already been mixed with water to a smooth consistency and is ready to be applied. But within that category, you’ll find “all-purpose mud,” “topping mud,” and “lightweight, all-purpose mud.”

All-purpose mud goes on smoothly and begins to harden in a couple of hours, depending on the temperature and humidity in the room. It’s suitable for all mudding applications, so if you’re a mudding newbie, use this one.

Topping mud is used as a final top coating. It dries to a bright white and is easy to sand, making it a good choice for walls that will be painted a light color. Topping mud has less adhesion properties than all-purpose mud, so it’s not suitable for first and second coats.

Lightweight all-purpose mud also dries to a lighter shade, making it suitable for walls that will take pale paint. Some pros use all-purpose mud for the first mudding application and then switch to lightweight all-purpose mud for the second and third applications.

Powdered mud, also called “setting mud” or “hot mud,” contains chemicals that react when water is added to hasten hardening time. This type of mud tends to shrink less than all-purpose premixed mud but it begins to harden very quickly. Quick-setting mud works well for pre-filling large gaps or smoothing over crushed drywall corners before starting the actual mudding process.

Timed drywall mud: Setting mud is labeled by the maximum amount of time you have to work with it before it hardens. You can choose from 5-minute mud, 20-minute mud, or longer-hardening times, depending on your needs. If you use setting mud, mix only as much as you need, and wash your tools frequently as you work.

Easy-to-sand setting mud: The chemicals in some types of hot mud harden into rock-like ridges on your walls, and you can spend hours trying to sand them smooth. Avoid this by choosing an easy-to-sand variety.


How to Mud Drywall

Photo: istockphoto.com


During the mudding process, tape acts as a bond to keep the finished wall from developing cracks along the drywall seams. The different types of tape are “paper,” “mesh,” and “preformed”—and all three have their pros and cons.

Paper tape is used almost exclusively by the pros because it’s very thin, which helps create imperceptibly smooth joints. Paper tape comes with a crease down the center that allows you to bend it along the crease to form sharp wall corners. It takes practice, however, to correctly bed paper tape in the first coating of wet mud without creating bubbles underneath.

Mesh tape is made from fiberglass threads in an open-weave pattern and comes with adhesive on the backside. While it’s fairly simple to position mesh tape over a dry joint and then apply your first coat of mud on top, mesh tape is thicker than paper tape and can result in more noticeable joints when the wall is painted.

Preformed tape, also known as preformed “corners,” may be made from paper, plastic, thin metal, or a combination of materials. It’s used on outside wall corners to achieve a smooth, uniform look. Some preformed corners require nailing while others attach with adhesive. If you’re not confident that you can successfully tape outside corners with plain paper tape, try preformed tape.



Now that you’re familiar with mudding materials, familiarize yourself with the process as outlined here. Because paper tape offers the most professional results, we’ll detail how to mud with paper tape; if you’re using mesh tape, you’ll find some tips below that will help you use it correctly.


How to Mud Drywall

Photo: istockphoto.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Canvas drop cloth
Safety goggles
Respirator mask (for sanding dried mud)
Old clothing
Drywall mud
Heavy duty drill and paddle bit (if you’re mixing setting mud)
Large plastic bucket (for mixing)
Mud pan
6inch drywall taping knife
10inch drywall taping knife
Insidecorner taping tool (optional)
Drywall pole sander or power drywall sander
Nylon bristle brush
5gallon water bucket (for cleaning tools as you work)

Cover the floor with a canvas drop cloth (plastic drop cloths can become dangerously slick) and don goggles and old clothing. Mudding is a messy process, and splatters can sting if they get in your eyes.

Remove the lid from the bucket of premixed mud. If using powdered setting mud, mix as recommended by the manufacturer, beating until smooth with a heavy duty drill fitted with a paddle bit.

Apply the first coat of mud to screw indentations and factory beveled joints with a 6-inch taping knife. Drywall panels come with slight bevels on both of their long sides. When the bevels are fitted together, they form a small indentation, about 2 inches wide, along the joints. Use the knife to smooth and work the mud evenly into the joint, filling the entire indentation and wiping away excess mud.

How to Mud Drywall

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cut and fit a piece of paper tape over the joint while the mud is still wet for a process called “bedding.” Use the 6-inch taping knife to gently smooth the paper onto the wet mud, working out bubbles as you go. Wipe away excess mud with the knife.

Tape inside corners next. With the 6-inch knife, apply a thin coat of mud to both sides of an inside corner, making sure to work it all the way into the center. Cut, fold, and fit a strip of pre-creased paper tape in the corner over the wet mud. Smooth the paper tape carefully in the wet mud, using either a 6-inch taping knife or an inside-corner taping tool that features a preformed 90-degree shape for easy bedding. Use light stroking movements to bed the tape without dislodging it from the corner. Wipe excess mud from the walls.

Apply mud to outside corners next. If using preformed tape corners, attach them as recommended by the manufacturer, and then smooth mud over the corners, using long vertical strokes on both sides to form a sharp, uniform corner.

Mud butt joints last, if necessary. You can avoid butt joints, which occur when un-tapered ends of a drywall panel are fitted together, by using sheets of drywall that span the entire room. But if dealing with ends that have no beveled indentations, it’s more challenging to get a smooth finish. Mud them as you did the beveled joints, taking care to use only as much mud as necessary to fill the joint and bed the tape.

Let all the mud dry before applying the next coat. Apply a second coat of mud to the screw indentations, beveled joints, and inside and outside corners in the same order you applied the first coat, only this time, use only mud. No need to add more tape. Just apply a thin layer of mud and wipe off all excess.

To do a second coat for butt joints, take the 10-inch taping knife, apply two swaths of mud, approximately 8 inches wide, along both sides of the first joint coat, but not on top of the original joint. This imperceptibly builds up the wall depth over a wider area to reduce the appearance of a bulky butt-joint seam. Feather out the edges of the swaths well with the knife for a smooth look.

Apply a third very thin coat of mud after the second coat dries. Use the 10-inch knife for all screw indentations, seams and corners. The wider knife allows you to feather out the edges of the mud to a razor thin application. Follow the same procedure for beveled joints and corners as before. On butt joints, apply a thin coat of mud over the previous swaths and the original mud joint. It’s not unusual for the mud swath on butt joints to be 2 feet wide or wider.

When the mud dries, apply one last thin coat only over the butt joints. Feather out the edges very well and let the mud dry.

Don your respirator mask and goggles prior to sanding. Use a drywall pole sander or, if it’s important to keep airborne dust at a minimum, rent a power drywall sander from your local construction rental store. Sand all joints and nail indentations until the wall is perfectly smooth. Now you’re ready to paint or wallpaper!


How to Mud Drywall

Photo:: istockphoto.com


Unlike paper tape that requires bedding in wet mud, self-adhesive mesh tape is applied over seams and then, when mud is applied, an adequate amount seeps through the mesh into the seam beneath. The order of taping is the same: Do screw indentations and beveled joints first, inside and outside corners next, and butt joints last. If you use mesh tape on flat joints, note that it’s not suitable for corners. Use pre-creased paper tape for inside corners and preformed tape for outside corners.


DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
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Solved! The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

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

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

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

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

The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

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

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

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

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

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


The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

Photo: istockphoto.com

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


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The Right Way to Fill Nail Holes

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

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

Photo: hydetools.com

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: hydetools.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

All You Need to Know About Popcorn Ceilings

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

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.

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.


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


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


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.

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