Posts Tagged With: DIY project

Tried and True Interior Decorating Tips

Tried and True Interior Decorating TipsAre you envious of the interior designers on television and how easily they take a room from dull to dazzling? Never fear, by following a few tried and true design rules, you too can make your home décor stand out. Now roll up your sleeves, we have work to do.

5 Ways to Decorate Like a Pro

  1. Choose a color palette – Decide on the colors you want to feature throughout your house. Next, review each room to see how to best utilize your chosen color scheme in that space and formulate a plan.
  2. Create a focal point – When you walk into a room what catches your eye? It could be anything – a fireplace, artwork or an area rug. Use this item as your centerpiece and create your design around it.
  3. Assess your room’s lighting – Install different fixtures around a room like recessed ceiling lights, spotlights and under cabinet puck lights, which add warmth and showcase your décor.
  4. Add interest to a room – Not everything needs to be matchy matchy. Use a variety of different textures and shades from your color scheme to paint the walls and furnish the room. Look for interesting ways to arrange your furniture.
  5. Use paint to stage a room – Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to help display artwork or photographs on an accent wall. Painting the inside of a bookcase will help it stand out and not blend in. Paint the ceiling, crown molding, even floors a variation of wall color or a complimentary color.

Reinvigorate Your Kitchen with a New Backsplash

If you want to reinvigorate your kitchen without totally remodeling, consider installing a new backsplash. Use inexpensive tin ceiling tiles, wooden bead board, wallpaper, stainless steel, chalkboard or magnetic paint to give the busiest room in the house a new look.

Ready to get those tools out?

Here are some easy decorating ideas for you to try:

  • Install a new bathroom faucet
  • Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets
  • Add a chair rail or wainscoting to a room
  • Hang a chandelier in your laundry room
  • Install crown molding
  • Use wallpaper on an accent wall
  • Turn a closet into a home office or craft space

Before Buying, Repurpose Old Stuff

Unless you just prefer to start from scratch with new furnishings, find creative ways to repurpose items you already have. An old armoire can double as a china cabinet once you remove the doors and add glass shelves. A dresser can be turned into a bathroom vanity by mounting a sink on top. Build a new headboard using old doors, shutters or wooden fencing to create a one-of-a-kind bed.

Stay Focused and Express Your Style

Interior decorating is about expressing your style. As a DIYer, you have the added advantage of cutting out the middle man (the contractor) and doing the work yourself, thus saving money. Come up with a plan of attack and work on one room at a time. Write down your design goals to help you stay focused. Forget those TV experts, you have the best designer working on your house already – you.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to nail guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. Still wondering if painting will make a difference? Our blog, Give New Life to Your Walls with a Quick and Easy Paint Job, will convince you to get the roller and brushes out. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let a Lighting Makeover Bring Your Décor into Focus

how to make over an antique light fixtureHow many times have you finished painting a room only to look up and see an outdated light fixture staring back at you? Often overlooked, lighting can make or break a room’s décor. Rather than buying a new chandelier (at a premium cost) challenge yourself to refurbish an antique fixture and install it! It’s easier than you think.

A Thrift Store Treasure Lights the Way

Scour your local thrift or reclaimed hardware stores for the perfect lighting fixture. Once you find the size, shape and material you want, fire up those creative juices and get started. Decide whether you want it to blend with the colors of the room or serve as a focal point by giving it a pop of color.

What You Need for an Antique Light Makeover:

  • Mask and safety goggles – Protect yourself from spray paint mist.
  • Drop clothes –Paint mist gets on everything, so cover furniture, built-ins, etc. left in the room. Cardboard boxes make great paint booths.
  • Spray paint/primer – Apply in a well-ventilated area where there is no dust or moisture. Fans directed away from the spray zone can help dissipate fumes.
  • Painter’s tape
  • Screw driver
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Pliers
  • New electrical lighting elements (if needed) – Replace old wiring if worn.

Add Some Bling to Your Refreshed Chandelier

Decide on how you want your light fixture to look. Do you want to add crystals or other decorative items? Do you only want to use some of the elements of the chandelier? Do you want a high gloss or matte finish paint? Let your creativity shine and experiment with the look of your room.

5 Steps for Transforming an Antique Light Fixture

  • Clean the chandelier – The surface needs to be free of dirt, grime and oil for the paint to adhere.
  • Take it apart – Remove the wiring and anything else that isn’t getting painted. Hint – as you take the fixture apart, keep the pieces in the proper order, so you can re-assemble it easily.
  • Tape it – Anything that is not being painted like the light bulb sockets, glass panes or crystals should be covered.
  • Paint – Spray paints are the easiest. Apply 3-5 light coats. Heavier coats will run. Sand lightly between coats, especially if you have drips.
  • Allow time to dry – Humidity and temperature will affect drying time so don’t rush it.

Installation Time!

Turn the power off at the electrical box and remove the old light. If the current receptacle is old, you may need to add a coupler to lengthen the mounting screw enough to accept the new light. Connect the wires. Screw the new fixture into the coupler flush to the ceiling. Be bold and add some industrial style light bulbs to add a new twist.

Get Inspired by Repurposing Old Items

Repurposing old items is about using your imagination in ways that save you money and beautify your home. Look around for inspiration and challenge yourself to take on more creative DIY home projects. Remember, there are no mistakes in artistic repurposing endeavors, only new opportunities.

Expert Advice

From ladders and fans to precision rotary tools and detail sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next home decorating idea. Ready to tackle more DIY projects? Find new ways to spruce up your abode with our blog, Use Your Home as a Canvas to Express Yourself. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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The Versatile Wooden Pallet – Who Knew You Could Make That?!

how to diy a pallet wine rackAh, the versatile wooden pallet! If you love to re-purpose found items, then you know about these multi-talented platforms. The internet is filled with how-tos on making everything from lawn furniture to dog houses. However, our favorite project is a wine rack with a glass holder on the bottom. It has our DIY name written all over it!

Wooden Pallets Easy to Find

Why buy lumber for your projects when you can repurpose wooden pallets? If you don’t have them on hand, check with your local stores. These shipping platforms are everywhere; you just have to look for them.

Wine Anyone?

Creating a wine rack out of a wooden pallet is easy and inexpensive. The toughest decision is what size to make it. For a small rack that will hold two to three bottles and four average sized stemmed wine glasses, you will only need to use half of a pallet.

8 Easy Steps for Building a Wooden Pallet Wine Rack

  • Cut the pallet – Use the end section for the base and cut it to the height you want. The standard width of a pallet is 40 inches so adjust it to the width you need.
  • Remove extra boards – Take two boards from the discarded portion of the pallet to use at the bottom of the rack. One board will be the bottom of the shelf where the bottles go and the other will separate the shelves.
  • Create spacers – Cut three 1 x 1 pieces to go between the bottom board for the glasses and the bottom of the wine bottle shelf. You need room to slide the glasses on and off the shelf.
  • Sand the boards – Pallet wood is notoriously rough and splintered, so use a 120 grit sandpaper for smoothing and a 220 grit paper to finish.
  • Openings for glasses – Use a jigsaw to make cuts in the bottom board for the glassware stems. Space them about 4 inches apart.
  • Assemble – Make sure your rack is sturdy by reinforcing the wine bottle shelf with an extra board. Use 2-inch nails and 3-inch wood screws to hold the board together.
  • Finishing – Stain the wood or paint it. If you choose to stain, keep in mind that sanding softens the wood and will cause it to soak up a lot of stain. Due to the rough wood, you will need to work the stain into the cracks and crevices with a cloth or brush.
  • Hanging the rack – Mount it directly into your wall studs to support the weight of the bottles and glasses. Add felt bumper pads to the backside to keep it from scuffing your wall if bumped.

Other Projects to Make with Wooden Pallets

  • Outdoor furniture like sofas and chairs
  • Patio dining table
  • Garden potting table
  • Headboard for a bed
  • Vertical wall garden
  • Dog house

Save Money and the Environment by Repurposing

Repurposing old wood from pallets helps keep them out of our landfills and saves you money. They add rustic charm to the home and garden. Stop wishing for new patio furniture or flower containers and start building what you need with wooden pallets. There are so many DIY projects to use these wooden wonders on – your Winter to-do list may stretch into Spring.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to jigsaws and orbital sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home project. Still wondering what you can do with the wooden pallets around your house? Check out our previous blog, Summer Garden Update 2 – Garden Boxes Add Pizzazz to Planting, to help get those creative DIY juices flowing. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Use the Ombré Technique on Accent Walls

How to Paint an Ombre Accent WallThinking of painting an accent wall? Consider trying the ombré painting technique. This easy method of blending similar colors from light to dark adds interest to any room. Get your paint brush ready. It’s time to channel your inner artist!

Keep Your Paint Choices Simple – But Have Fun

Selecting the colors to use is always a tough decision. Keep your choices simple. Pick a main color and two other shades from the same paint sample strip. If you want to be adventurous, try an analogous color scheme where each hue is similar but slightly different. Pick up an artist’s color wheel to help you select the best companion colors (those side by side on the wheel). Select at least three colors – one light, medium and dark.

Supplies You Need

  • 3-inch or 4-inch paint brushes: have several on hand to blend the different sections
  • Paint sprayer: to use for the primer base color
  • Rollers: for the three major segments
  • Paint trays: one for each main color and the colors you mix for blending
  • Bucket of water
  • Sea sponge (optional)
  • Painters tape, drop cloth, paper towels

Make it Easy – Use a Base Paint with Primer

Prep work is key so tape or cover all molding, fixtures and floor. Make sure the wall is clean. Cut down on your workload by selecting a paint that contains primer. Paint the entire wall with the lightest color. You can use a paint sprayer for this step but switch to a roller to paint the different bands. Once dry, mark off three sections leaving a six-inch space in between each area.

5 Steps for Painting an Ombré Accent Wall

  1. Paint each section. The darkest color is on the bottom, the medium shade in the middle and the lightest on top. Blend the colors into the buffer areas but do not completely paint inside the six-inch spaces.
  2. Mix transitional colors. Mix the dark color with the medium color until you get the shade you want. Mix a second color from the medium and light colors.
  3. Add a slow-drying agent. It will give you more time to blend the paint.
  4. Apply mixed colors. Paint the six-inch segment with the dark/medium shade and blend into the other colors. With a clean brush, do the same with the light/medium mix.
  5. Blend. Using a clean, dry brush, continue to blend the different shades on the wall until you get the look you want.

No Mistakes in Art, So Go for It!

There really isn’t a way to mess up this technique. Release your inner artist and play around with your wall. The colors should bleed into each other. If you want, use a damp sponge to thin out and blend the paint further or mix a darker shade to add small dabs of contrast throughout. Remember, this is your masterpiece. Once you’ve mastered the ombré technique, murals and portraits can’t be too far behind.

Expert Advice

From painter sprayers and fans to ladders and nail guns, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY painting project. Want to know more about how to paint your home?

Our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceiling and Walls, will help you get started. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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What to Remember When Refinishing Your Hardwoods

Refinishing Your Hardwood FloorsRefinishing your hardwoods is a DIY project you need to understand fully before undertaking.

The most important things to remember:

  • It takes time
  • It takes patience
  • It takes elbow grease

Prepare to Succeed

Refinishing your floors isn’t a quick DIY project. It usually takes longer than a weekend, so be prepared to live with dust and fumes for a few days longer. As with any home renovation, patience is key. Doing the right preparations beforehand will help things go smoothly. Using a floor sander (orbital or drum) is tough on the body, so tag team on the sanding.

Know Your Floors

Before sanding your floors, determine if they can be sanded. Because true hardwoods are solid wood, they withstand the loss of the top layer through sanding. Laminates will be ruined if sanded. It is better to just re-seal and buff engineered flooring.

The 4-Step Process

  1. Prepare. Make sure the floors are clean of all dirt and wax. Remove all furniture, seal off doors, vents, outlets and light switches. The object is to control dust from getting out of the room (and there will be a lot of it!).
  2. Sand. Start with 60 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 120 grit for the final sanding. Work in a straight path along a wall in a semi-circular motion. Always keep the sander moving to avoid creating uneven grooves.
  3. Clean Up. Learn to love the vacuum because your diligence in cleaning after each sanding determines if your finish is blemish free. Frequently check the vacuum filter for clogs. Damp mop floor thoroughly when done.
  4. Finish. Work with a brush when applying sealant around the perimeter and a lamb’s wool applicator for the rest of the floor. Overlap the application with the area worked with the brush. Allow 24 hours to dry. Buff and vacuum before applying second coat. Apply stain in the same manner as sealant. Finish with a couple of coats of polyurethane.

Choosing a Floor Sander – Orbital or Drum

One of the biggest decisions you have to make for this project is which type of sander to choose – orbital or drum. Orbital sanders take longer to do the job but are easier to use. Drum sanders are harder on the floors but they get the job done quickly. Both have a mind of their own, so know your skill level when attempting to operate them.

Tips for Successful Refinishing Projects

  • If working on other renovation projects, save refinishing the floors until last.
  • The finish takes longer to dry in humid and rainy weather. Wait for dry weather.
  • Remove adhesive from a previous flooring with glue remover, rather than sanding. It is tough to sand off and can stain wood.
  • Practice with your sander on a sheet of plywood to get consistent with your strokes.
  • Use an edging sander to smooth out sanding swirls around the walls. Hand sand tight spots like corners.
  • Use a hardwood floor attachment on your vacuum to avoid scratching.
  • Allow dust to settle in room before removing plastic sheeting and doing your final cleanup.
  • When using oil based sealant or stain, use a respirator.
  • Odors from polyurethane can linger for a couple of days so leave plastic up over doors if the fumes bother you.

Keep Off My New Hardwood Floors!

Let the floor dry completely before moving furniture back into the room. It’s a good idea to avoid shoes, bare feet and pets getting on them for the first 48 hours. Until then, don a pair of sunglasses, wear your socks and slide around your refinished floor like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Clothing is entirely up to you!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and floor edgers to fans and shop vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your DIY hardwood refinishing. For even more helpful info to get you started, check out our blog, How to Re-Finish Your Hardwood Floors to Perfection. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Featured Products, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Use Your Home as a Canvas to Express Yourself

Ways to Personalize Your HomeIf your home is your castle, shouldn’t it look like yours? When working on home improvement projects, put your personality into the equation. Getting inspired by DIY designers is fine, but in the end, your domain should be a reflection of your tastes. Time to get creative and express yourself!

Reveal Your Personality

Personalizing doesn’t mean putting your monogram on everything. It is a way of communicating your style and interests through design. From the paint colors you choose to the flowers you plant, a home is simply a blank canvas on which to reveal your personality.

5 Ways to Personalize Your Home

Little personal touches inside and out are the best way to make a big statement. Here are just five quick and easy DIY projects to help you do just that.

  1. Display Your Interests: From family photos and vacation souvenirs to hobbies and sports memorabilia, use these items in different and unusual ways. Add them to furniture with upcycling or exhibit them in unexpected places like a garden bench or a flower pot.
  2. Show Your True Colors: Add your favorite shades throughout the house – on pillows, as accent walls or on the front door.
  3. Be Inventive: Why just put up wallpaper when you can stencil a design on your wall. If you love English manor décor a la Downton Abbey, add crown molding and ornamental flourishes to your ceiling for that Victorian feel.
  4. Stage Scenes: Just the way a set designer stages scenery for a movie or a play, you can do the same with your home. Whether it is painting the front door or using colorful plants as accents, create a look for your entrance that gives a warm and inviting feeling.
  5. Re-use, Re-Invent & Re-organize: While personalizing your home, don’t forget to re-purpose old furniture, re-use items and organize spaces in new or more efficient ways. If your family drops everything on their way into the house, look for ways to create a place for coats, book bags and muddy shoes right inside the front door.

Where Do You Start?

No need to feel overwhelmed; consider personalizing your space a work in progress. Start with one area and then move to the next. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint Your Front Door: Make a great first impression (and express your style) by reinvigorating the front of your house. Our blog, 10 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Now, has other ways to make your residence stand out.
  • Landscape: Create a peaceful oasis for you and your family to enjoy. Want to add a water feature to your garden? Read How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps.
  • Decorate with Color: Start small. Try adding an accent wall in your living room or dining room. Learn how to achieve the look you want here: Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls.
  • Stencil Artwork and Peel n’ Stick Graphics: These are great alternatives to having paintings or photographs on a wall. Experiment and combine some of each for a one-of-a-kind display.
  • Personalize Your Home Address: Create a display for your house numbers that reflects your favorite pastime like fishing or skiing. Put your wood working skills to the test and customize one just for your house.

Let Your DIY Projects Reflect You

Don’t worry about whether your home looks like those on your favorite home improvement shows or some fancy website. Home is where your heart is, so let your DIY projects reflect what you are passionate about. It’s time to let “you” shine through.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to pressure washers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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DIY Garage Door Makeover? Yes, Please!

DIY Faux Garage DoorsWhen you look at your home from the street, do you see any big blank spaces in the curb appeal? If you say the garage door, then you are correct. Our focus is often limited to the front door while the garage door goes unnoticed. Faux garage door windows are easy to do and will complete the overall look of your home.

Why Change the Look of Your Garage Door?

Is your garage door (or doors) solid, white and boring? No need to replace a perfectly good garage door when you can spruce it up with windows that look real from a distance. Here’s what it can do for your home:

  • Boost curb appeal – By adding faux windows and giving it a little charisma, you are toning down that blank space glare from the front of your home.
  • Unify the style of your house – Select window styles that blend well with your type of home – traditional, contemporary or cottage.
  • Get a new view – Pulling into the same old non-descript garage door every day is boring. Adding touches like windows helps you enjoy the curb appeal of your own home.

First Step? Pressure Washing

If you are a fan of carriage door style windows and hinges, there are several ways to create them. One thing they all have in common is that your garage door needs to be clean first. Pressure wash the door to remove any dirt and allow it to dry completely.

How to Create Faux Carriage Windows on Your Garage Door

  1. Paint – This is the most common approach and the least expensive. It is pretty much permanent, so you need to be sure.
  2. Decals – You can order these online for around $100 and many come with hinge details.
  3. Resin – High impact plastic resin can be ordered online and runs between $300-$500. This hard material is screwed onto the garage door.
  4. Professional Repaint – Hiring a professional to paint the windows will cost about $500.

Tape First, Then Paint

If you choose to paint, tape off the sections of the door for the windows. Press the tape firmly to make sure it sticks. Cover the rest of the door with plastic. Use an all-surface enamel and spray or apply the paint to taped sections.

Don’t Forget the Hinges

For the hinges you can either buy real ones and screw them in or paint them on. When painting, use a stencil to keep their look consistent. Go back over the windows and hinges (if painted) with a clear sealant to help them last longer. 

Just Stick It

Decals are easy to find online and easy to use, just peel and stick. A set for a two-car garage will cost around $100. Use outdoor adhesive vinyl if you want to permanently apply them and to have them hold up under the blistering sun. A coat of sealant keeps the color from fading.

Simple DIY Project with Big Results

From the street, it is very hard to discern if the windows are real or not. You will be amazed at how something so simple ties the look of your house together and boosts your curb appeal even higher. Check another project off your to-do list!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to pressure washers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home improvement project. Looking for suggestions on other ways to boost your home’s curb appeal? Our blog, DIY Projects That Boost the Value of Your Home, has great tips on what to tackle next. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Get Creative with DIY Home Address Displays

First impressions are lasting, so make your home’s appearance stand out from all the rest by creating a unique DIY address display. It’s an opportunity to add a little personality and color to the front of your house while marking it with important information. Time to get creative!

House Numbers That Express Personality

Even in this time of the GPS, having your house number prominently displayed is how everyone from the post office and fire department to the kid who delivers the newspaper (you remember those) finds you. Traditionally located on or near the front door, today house numbers are displayed everywhere from planters to flag poles. They’ve evolved into personal expressions.

Why Display House Numbers?

  • Identification – They make it easy for the people to find your home (especially police and fire/rescue).
  • Requirement – Some homeowner’s associations require house numbers be displayed on a certain area of the property (but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring!)
  • Self-Expression – Show off your family’s interests or tastes with house numbers done in your team’s colors or favorite activities.
  • Creative Statement – Many of us enjoy working on crafts so use your talents to make a unique display.
  • Finishing Touches – House numbers that match the style of your home (contemporary, craftsman, cottage) are small finishing touches that complete the look.

Sketch Out Ideas First

Think of the front of your home as a blank canvas, what do you want to show the world? Take a photo of your front entrance and use your computer’s drawing program to sketch out your ideas. Maybe you want to add colorful accents or try out different locations for your house numbers, this will help you experiment.

8 Ideas for Creative House Number Displays

  1. Rustic wooden display – Use recycled boards from wood pallets as the backdrop for your numbers.
  2. Flower pots – Create a row of colorful flower pots with one house number stenciled on each. You can add live or silk flowers to them.
  3. Upcycled doors or windows – An antique door or a small window can be painted and propped up against the front of your house or in the yard.
  4. Picture frames – Stencil the numbers on a board and frame it. Hang it from a ribbon on the door.
  5. Light fixtures – Paint house numbers on the side of a large lantern and mount it. Your guests will be able to see the address, even at night.
  6. Monograms – Large scale monogram letters (sold at most craft stores) with painted numbers can be attached to your house.
  7. Planters – Paint numbers on large containers with colorful plants and place them at your entrance.
  8. Seasonal creations – Design an address plaque that allows you to change out the decorations with the season. A metal plate made from roof flashing will allow you to place seasonal magnets on your display.

Replace Old Mailboxes

Many people have house numbers on their mailboxes at the street. Liven yours up by repainting the box and adding stylized numbers in a bright color. If your mailbox has seen better days, replace it. Read our blog, Replace Your Old, Damaged Mailbox in 5 Easy Steps for helpful tips on getting it done right.

Envy of the Neighborhood

If impressions are lasting, be sure the one you make is a good one. Your home’s curb appeal could be the envy of the neighborhood – and functional at the same time. Make sure your address display is easy to read, placed where it can be seen and shows your unique style (you want to show off your handy work).

Expert Advice

From miter saws and circular saws to drills and orbital sanders our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home improvement project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Keep Popcorn in the Bowl & Off the Ceiling

How to Remove Your Popcorn CeilingIs looking at your ceiling giving you the inspiration for your next DIY project? If you want to remove that ugly popcorn texture immediately, then it is! If you’ve also heard this is an easy thing to do, then you’ve heard right. The process does create a mess; however, with a little preparation (and our help) you can tackle that popcorn ceiling – no problem. Ready to get started?

What You’ll Need for Popcorn Ceiling Removal & Repair

Beware – Asbestos Often Lurks in 70’s Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings and acoustical panels were all the rage in the 60’s and 70’s, but today they are a turn-off to potential home buyers. They can be used to hide flaws in the drywall but they collect dust, which may aggravate allergies. The biggest drawback is popcorn ceilings installed prior to 1979 often contain asbestos and will need to be tested. These ceilings are only dangerous if disturbed, which is why professionals need to remove them.

6 Steps to Removing Popcorn Ceilings

  • Prepare the room – Remove furniture and light fixtures; lay plastic over walls, floors and doors to contain dust and debris.
  • Wet the ceiling – Spray water lightly over small sections of the ceiling to soften it up and make it easier to remove.
  • Scrap it off – Use a texture scraper for larger areas and a putty knife for corners and trim.
  • Sand the area – To remove any remaining lumps, sand the ceiling and then run a damp sponge over it to remove dust and debris. Allow to dry.
  • Make repairs – Redo any failed joints and edging tape with drywall mud. Fill in cracks with spackle. Lightly sand again.
  • Prime and paint – Use a bright white ceiling paint to help reflect light in your room.

This is a Messy Job If You Aren’t Careful

This stuff is like wet oatmeal that dries into annoying drywall dust, so unless you want it to get into everything, hang and lay plastic drop cloths. Overlap and tape all the seams. It may seem like overkill but when done all you do is remove the tape, roll the plastic up and stuff it in a trash bag.

Don’t Over Saturate Your Ceilings with Water

If you have moistened the ceiling enough, the popcorn material will scrape off easily. You may have to spray it a couple of times because the texture is dry and porous. Don’t overdo it or the drywall can be damaged when you scrap. Go slowly and work in small sections.

A Putty Knife Comes in Handy in Tight Spots

A ceiling texture scraper is good on large spaces and often comes with a refuse bag to collect popcorn debris. To remove popcorn from tight corners and around molding you may want to use a putty knife. Once the ceiling has dried lightly, sand it and vacuum up the dust.

Are You Ready for Some Mud in Your Life?

Prepare to do a little drywall work when removing a popcorn ceiling. Many installers will do a basic/rough taping of the drywall if they know it is to be covered with popcorn texture. For a smooth surface, put a skim coat of drywall mud on the joints and sand lightly.

Ceilings Are Tough on the Back and Neck

A large room can be a tough workout for someone with a bad back or neck, so consider rounding up some helpers or hire a professional. Yes, this is an easy DIY project but only if you prepare your room first. Take your time, do it right and save the popcorn for a bowl in front of the TV.

Expert Advice

Once you finish removing the popcorn ceiling, do you need some advice on painting? Our blog, Paint Like a Pro – Tips for Painting Your Ceilings and Walls, will help you achieve beautiful results. From tank sprayers and wet/dry vacuums to paint sprayers and drywall tools our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home renovation project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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8 Ways to Kick Your Backyard Up a Notch

create your perfect backyard entertaining areaWith summer in full swing, you want to entertain outdoors in a backyard that is something special. We’ve put together a list of what we think makes for a perfect outdoor entertaining area, including links to some of our past articles – see if you can’t find your next DIY project!

Big or Small, Utilize It

Whether your backyard is big or small really doesn’t matter, it’s how you utilize your space that counts. Your first task is to determine how you’ll use the entertainment area and what kind of budget you have to work with. Do you want to use your entertainment space:

  • for the kid’s pool parties?
  • for grilling with friends?
  • for relaxing with your family?
  • all of the above? 

Create Entertainment Zones

Just like rooms in your house, divide your yard up into zones – dining, entertainment, and conversation areas. See where they best fit in your landscape and tie them together into a cohesive design. Your backyard may just need tweaking in order to have it just the way you want it.

8 Elements for a Perfect Outdoor Entertaining Area

  • Water – This could be in the form of an in ground pool or maybe a backyard pond but a water feature will boost the value of your home and provide plenty of enjoyable days outside with friends and family.
  • Covered dining area – Consider installing an awning or roof to protect your mealtime from bad weather. It would extend the usability of your backyard. A covering like a pergola or fabric curtains will give the space a romantic feeling.
  • Grill – Whether it is charcoal or gas, summertime is grilling time so incorporate one into your entertainment area. Remember to give yourself storage space nearby to stash all your grilling accoutrement. Treat it like an outdoor kitchen, add a small refrigerator.
  • Deck – It moves you out of the house and into the yard. Your deck can be where your grill is located and where your dining area is. You can have different levels of a deck to include space for dining and conversation.
  • Outdoor lighting and sound system – Trying to dine by the light of an outdoor flood light can kill the mood in a hurry. Consider lights for your deck, grilling area and walkways. Add speakers to your space so everyone can enjoy the music or the big game.
  • Poolside Bar – If pool parties are your thing then having a convenient snack area close to the pool is a perfect way to extend the outdoor fun and keep wet feet out of your house.
  • Lawn and garden – Having a section of lush grass for kids to play on or a beautifully scented garden to stroll through extends your entertaining possibilities into the far reaches of your yard. Scatter conversation areas throughout your garden by adding benches and lawn furniture.
  • Outdoor fire pit – Summer always goes by so fast and installing an outdoor fire pit or fireplace can help extend your outdoor entertaining season into the fall.

Personalize Your Space with Decorations

Use decorative design elements like colorful cushions, pillows, planters and garden art to help tie your entertainment zones together. Come up with an outdoor theme that reflects you and your family’s interests – favorite sports teams, places, travel dreams or heritage, for instance.

Create the Perfect Entertainment Area for You!

Your backyard is a blank canvas for you to create the perfect entertainment area. Hopefully we have given you some ideas on how to kick your space up a notch. So get busy! Summer is calling and that grill isn’t going to light itself.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and nail guns to orbital sanders and drills our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY backyard project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond

how to make a backyard pondBackyard ponds filled with exotic fish and tranquil waterfalls are a beautiful addition to any landscape. In our previous blog, How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps, we outline how to begin building a pond. Before you starting digging though, we have some tips to make this DIY project a success.

Pond Kits Give You Everything You’ll Need

The popularity of water gardening and fish ponds has grown so the supplies and the equipment you need are easy to find. Not sure what you will need? Pond kits come with all the required parts – pump, pipes and liner – and are readily available.

Bigger Ponds Are Better

If you use your own design, go bigger! The more fish and plants you have, the healthier the pond, so larger ponds actually require less maintenance. Keeping the water clean is key. Making sure you have the right size pump for your pond is important. Too small and the pump will be overworked and break down.

Pond Maintenance is a Must

A pond is very much like a swimming pool when it comes to maintenance. You will need to clean the filter frequently and remove any debris. Knowing how to service your own equipment will keep your costs down.

9 Tips for Building a Backyard Pond:

  • Buy a good liner – A good butyl rubber liner can last up to 20 years. Use carpet padding or landscape fabric underneath it for protection.
  • Avoid sharp rocks – Use smooth stones to line the pond to avoid tearing the liner. You need flat ones to line the edge.
  • Build a pond shelf – This is a partially submerged ledge where you can place plants.
  • Include rock overhangs – Give your fish places to hide and escape the hot sun.
  • Have a GFCI outlet – Plug the pump into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet. It needs to be at least five feet away from any outdoor water.
  • Bury your electrical wires – Use PVC pipe to bury them safely in the ground and avoid having someone trip over them or an animal chew through them.
  • Consider your yard’s rain runoff – Locate the pond where it will not fill up with runoff water from your yard or a neighbor’s. Factor in an overflow stream or waterfall where the pond water can go if it does flood.
  • Add an eduction jet and skimmer – The eduction jet creates underwater currents to avoid stagnation and the skimmer will help clean of fallen leaves and debris.
  • Include a bead filter and UV Water clarifier – A bead filter traps sand and debris and a clarifier keeps algae blooms from occurring.

Landscape With A Purpose

Landscaping in and around the pond is your next big step. Select plants that will help keep the water clean and algae free. When installing your plants, use aquatic potting soil. Regular potting soil contains nutrients that will encourage algae growth. Mulch the plants with pea gravel. Start the plants on the pond ledge to acclimate them to the water. Once you have them in the right spot, then submerge them. Plants that add to your waterscape include:

  • Water moss
  • Hornwort
  • Curled pondweed
  • Lotus
  • Canna – Use in the pond or outside
  • Pitcher plant
  • Taro or Elephant’s Ear – Use in the pond or outside
  • Papyrus
  • Water Lily

Protect Your Fish

Feed your fish at least once a day during warm weather. Cut back to two or three times a week during colder weather. If you have a small pond, make sure it does not freeze solid during winter. Decaying plants release gases that get trapped under the ice and kill the fish. Install a floating deicer to keep the surface open.

Your Hard Work Pays Off

When you look back on the hard work that goes into this DIY protect and how great it turns out, you’ll be convinced that a backyard pond is a great investment for your home and a wonderfully relaxing place for your family to unwind.

Expert Advice

From backhoes and trenchers to wheelbarrows and shovels our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY landscaping project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Paint It, Don’t Replace It! Tips for Painting Tile

how to paint tileUgly, outdated tile is something many DIY homeowners want to fix. Replacing it is always an option, although this may be the costlier expense. You won’t have to live with it any longer, however. Paint it, don’t replace it! While not a permanent fix, painting your tile can freshen the look of a room and give you more time to make future renovations.

Preparation and Product Selection Are Key

The keys to successfully painting tile are preparing the surface properly and using the right type of paint. Preparing tile is a little more involved than painting drywall but the time you spend doing it right will help the paint look better and last longer.

3 Steps to Preparing Tile for Painting:

  • Clean it – Remove all the soap scum, dirt and mildew from the tiles and grout. Use an abrasive bathroom cleaner and rinse well.
  • Sand it – Rough up the surface using a 180/220 grit sandpaper (synthetic grit paper like silicon carbide or aluminum oxide work well) to remove the gloss off of the glazed surface. An orbital sander will do this quicker and more evenly than hand sanding.
  • Dust it – Wipe the tiles down with a damp cloth to remove any loose debris or grit. It can show through the paint.

Repair Tile and Grout Before Starting

Your tile and grout need to be in good shape. Paint amplifies any imperfection so make any repairs to cracked, chipped or broken tiles before starting. Re-do your grout if it is too dry and cracking. Remove all caulk from around tubs and counters. It is best to re-apply a fresh bead when your painting is finished. Tape off all fixtures, faucets and mirrors to avoid getting paint on them.

Tips for Painting Your Tile

  • Use an epoxy bonding primer to help the paint adhere properly.
  • For the best color selection use a latex paint (semi-gloss or high gloss) and apply 2 coats.
  • A paint sprayer will give you the smoothest results.
  • If you use a sponge brush, work in one direction to minimize streaks.
  • Lightly sand in between coats to help the paint stick.
  • Finish with several coats of sealant and allow 2-3 days to dry completely.

Painted Tiles Can Last 5 Years

This easy DIY project is a great way to freshen up outdated tile until you’re ready to redecorate or renovate. Painted tiles can last up to five years if you avoid harsh cleaners or scrub brushes. Stop living with ugly tile and get out the paint sprayer. That icky avocado green is going down!

Expert Advice

Wanting to try your hand at installing tile? Our blog, How to Install a Kitchen Tile Backsplash, has some great tips to get you started. From ladders and paint sprayers to grout cutting saws and orbital sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next home DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Consider Options Before Diving into a DIY Pool Project

diy fiberglass in-ground poolIf you’ve been thinking about challenging your DIY skills and installing an in-ground pool this summer, consider first whether or not your time, effort (and talent) might be better served on different parts of this kind of project.

Plan for Extra Costs

Every year, 175,000 to 200,000 new pools are built. The average cost of a professionally installed pool runs from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size, shape and type of pool you choose. Customers typically spend another $10,000 – $20,000 on all the pool related items; additional landscaping, decking, furniture, lighting and fencing – the kind of projects you can really sink your teeth into.

Let the Professionals Handle the Paperwork

While working with a backhoe might be your idea of a great weekend, leave that part to the pros (as well as dealing with on-site soil and rock issues). Let the pool company determine county, local and neighborhood restrictions as well as HOA (Homeowners Association) rules, which leaves you to focus on the fun stuff that comes along with a pool.

3 Types of In-Ground Pools

  • Concrete lined – While the most expensive, they are durable and can be updated if you want to expand. Can take from 3-12 weeks to install.
  • Vinyl lined – A preformed flexible liner that comes in a variety of colors and textures and takes 1-3 weeks to install. Sharp objects can puncture them so be sure to choose one at least 1-inch thick.
  • Fiberglass – One-piece units that have a super smooth finish and are stain resistant. They are trucked to the site so delivery will affect installation time. A crane needs to lift the pool into place so make sure the equipment has access.

Choose the Right Pool for Your Location

A professional pool installer will know what type of pool works best in your area. Freezing and thawing causes pool materials to expand and contract. Fiberglass and vinyl pool liners can handle the cold weather better than concrete pools. The professionals will make sure the pool is level and the bottom is smooth, not sitting on rocks that can puncture it.

How Will You Use Your Pool?

If family fun is your goal, skip the deep end and the diving board. Most pool activities take place in the shallow end so why not use a third of your pool? Want to swim laps? Cut down on the overall size and install swim jets for resistance. Knowing how you’ll use the pool will determine the right one for you.

The Best DIY Pool Related Projects

  • Fencing – Safety laws require owners to install a fence at least 4 feet high with self-closing/latching gates around a pool.
  • A deck or patio – You will need a place for everyone to gather.
  • Outdoor lighting and outlets – Consider adding a sound system.
  • Landscaping – Add new pathways, sod and plants when construction is finished.
  • Storage for pool equipment and accessories – You need somewhere to store pool supplies and toys, especially in the off season.
  • A whirlpool or sauna – A smaller undertaking than installing a pool but still something your family would enjoy.
  • Add shade – Install an awning over your patio or deck.
  • Maintenance – Rather than sign on for monthly service, you can adjust the chemicals yourself.

A New Pool Provides Plenty of Quality Family Time

Pools may be a big investment and require regular upkeep, but they can also add plenty of quality time with your family and friends. Do your research and decide what kind of pool works for you. Let a professional handle the hard stuff, while you take care of everything else. Before you know it, you will be chillin’ poolside!

Expert Advice

Is your new pool lacking in the entertainment area? Learn How to Construct a Poolside Bar for a DIY project that is sure to get the party started. From bobcats and backhoes to trenchers and plate compactors, our expert staff is always on hand to help you get ready for your next summertime project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Stones, Wood & Wire Make 1 Indestructible Outdoor Table

gabion wire mesh outdoor tableWant a durable outdoor table and bench set that can stand up to all kinds of punishment, from family to the weather? Consider building one with a gabion wire mesh kit. They are easy to assemble, virtually indestructible and add a touch of “industrial chic” to any outdoor décor.

Versatility and Ease Earn Wire Cages a Big Thumbs Up!

“Gabion” comes from the Italian word “gabbione” meaning ‘big cage’ and that is exactly what these wire containers are. Used in construction and landscaping, it is a box made from wire mesh that acts as a support or building block, which is filled with stones, concrete or dirt. DIYers are building patio benches, planters and even water features out of these versatile containers.

Pre-Cut Kits Make Building a Breeze

You can use rolled wire mesh to build a Gabion cage, although using ready-cut kits is so much easier. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are generally constructed out of 3/16th-inch gauge wire. Some are available with a PVC coating so you won’t need to seal them.

Fab Re-Purpose for Old Lumber

Determine the size of your table and where you want to place it. Once your stones are added, moving it will be difficult. Decide on the materials to use for the table top and bench seats. Used lumber, railway ties, pallets and even stone are all options.

Materials & Tools Needed

  • (4) small rectangular Gabion wire kits for bench supports
  • (2) large rectangular Gabion wire kits for table supports
  • reclaimed wood for table top and bench seats
  • (6) small 1” x 2” boards to fasten table and bench tops onto
  • filler material – pebbles, stones or recycled glass
  • angle grinder and safety goggles
  • circular saw
  • pliers

Right Size Supports Make a Sturdy Table or Bench

Select the size kits that will best fit your design and will support the maximum weight expected.

The pre-cut sides of the kit are assembled using the wire spirals provided. After wrapping the wire through the corners bend the ends back with pliers. Use an angled grinder to cut the cage down to the height you want and to trim off any unwanted sharp edges.

Construct a Gabion Table & Benches in 6 Easy Steps

  • Cut wood – Use a circular saw to cut reclaimed wood for table top and benches to the length you desire. Cut 1” x 2” cross supports with 45-degree on ends.
  • Assemble – Join table and bench tops to the cross supports.
  • Brace box – Attach a wire from one side to the other (6” down from top) to help the box retain its shape when rocks are added.
  • Fill cage – Adding a lightweight object or cheaper fill material in the center of the container will cut down on the amount of high grade stones you will need.
  • Add tops to the support pillars – The cross supports should fit snuggly inside bin. Adjust rocks to create a level surface.
  • Paint or stain table top and benches – Depending on the materials used you may want to coat the boards in polyurethane to protect it from the weather.

Endless Choices for Fill Material

If you want a densely packed cage, combine smaller pebbles with larger stones to fill in gaps. Another option is to use logs to line the visible sides and fill the center with cheaper gravel. A chic choice is adding a clear plastic or Plexiglas container inside the cage, lining the outside with sea glass, then filling the rest with sand. The choices are endless.

See What Gabion Cages Can Do for Your Yard

Once you see what you can do with Gabion wire cages, you’ll be ready to tackle bigger and better DIY projects. Why stop with a table? Why not terrace the back yard? Move over Caesar, today you conquered the patio, tomorrow you party!

Expert Advice

Looking for a companion piece to go along with your new table? Our blog, A DIY Couch to Enjoy All Summer Long, has easy tips on building a seating area out of concrete blocks.

From circular saws and angled grinders to paint sprayers and wheel barrows, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Build Your Own American Flag Cornhole Set in 10 Steps

DIY American Flag Cornhole SetAlready making plans for the 4th of July? Well, we’ve got the perfect DIY project that is sure to get your family and guests in the patriotic spirit. Build a stars and stripes cornhole game set! The fun will last long past Independence Day.

This is No Bean Bag Toss!

The dimensions of a cornhole board, according to the American Cornhole Association, should be a 48-inch by 24-inch rectangular shape that is inclined 12 inches off the ground at one end. All you need are the following materials:

  • (4) 2” x 4” x 8’ boards
  • (2) 2’ x 4’ plywood panels (1/2” thickness)
  • (4) 3/8” carriage bolts
  • (4) 3/8” washers
  • (4) 3/8” wing nuts
  • 5” wood screws
  • 5” wood screws

Find Your Favorite Design

Decide on the patriotic decoration for the front. Stripes can be done with painter’s tape and you paint the stars freehand. Research designs on the internet and print your favorite onto stencil plastic or check with your local sign company to see if they can make the stencils for you.

10 Easy Steps to Building an American Flag Cornhole Set

  1. Cut the wood – use a circular saw to cut the pieces for the frame, face and legs.
  2. Construct the frame – join the sides and end segments together with 2.5-inch wood screws. Pre-drill holes to avoid splitting.
  3. Attach face to frame – apply wood glue to the frame, then add the face. Screw the board to the frame. When dry, fill screw holes with wood filler.
  4. Drill hole for opening – measure 9 inches from top and 12 inches from sides to find center. Cut out a 6-inch diameter hole with a jig saw or a 6-inch hole drill bit.
  5. Round one end of legs – mark 1.75 inches from end of each leg and draw a circle across the end of the board. Use jig saw to round it off.
  6. Drill holes /Attach legs – create holes for carriage bolts to secure legs to inside of frame. The rounded end goes at top and bottom of the frame. Legs should fold up underneath. Sand rounded end if they do not move freely.
  7. Sand – use an orbital sander to smooth the top, sides and inside of hole to prevent splintering and cracking.
  8. Paint – prime the board white on the top and sides. Two coats will give you a good solid white for the stripes (paint the legs if you wish).
  9. Tape or stencil flag pattern – use painter’s tape to mark the stripes and a stencil for the stars. Fill in using a high gloss latex paint.
  10. Seal it – after the design dries, add a polyurethane coating to protect it.

Use the Right Tools

You can use a paint sprayer to apply the primer and the sealant. Depending on your design, you may need to use a brush to complete your flag. The board face should be smooth but not slick. Use fine sand paper to smooth in-between the polyurethane coatings to get rid of rough patches. Allow 24 hours to dry.

Show Your True Colors This Fourth!

The materials listed above will produce a complete game set with two boards. You can make your own bags to toss or buy them online. Show your true colors this Fourth of July with a very patriotic cornhole game. Easy to build and fun to play, it is a great summer time distraction. Just don’t forget to mind the burgers on the grill!

Expert Advice

Want to throw a spectacular Fourth of July BBQ but don’t know where to start? Check out our blog, 3 Things to Help Pull Off Your First Outdoor Barbecue of the Season to get your home ready to entertain guests. From circular saws and drills to paint sprayers and sanders, our expert staff is always on hand to help you tackle your next fun backyard project. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Finish a Kitchen Update with New Hardware – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #4

Your Guide to Installing New Kitchen HardwareFirst you paint the cabinets, then you update the floors and install a new backsplash. Everything looks great – with finishing final touch: complete your picture perfect kitchen update with new cabinet knobs, pulls or a sink faucet.

Express Kitchen Personality

Not sure what type of kitchen hardware would work with your design style? Decide if you want your knobs and pulls to coordinate with your appliances (like stainless steel), to add touches of color, or to reflect your personality. Most hardware comes in polished, brushed and satin finishes and are readily available. This is an inexpensive way to set your creativity free.

Why Not Upgrade Your Faucet, Too?

Retire your old sink faucet when making hardware upgrades. Replace it with a new high-neck style. Just as with cabinet fixtures, faucets come in a variety of metals. We’ve listed a few options:

  • Polished Brass – Easy to clean, durable, expensive.
  • Satin Brass – Matte, brushed gold look, doesn’t show fingerprints. Can be hard to find.
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze – Gives a traditional feel, colors vary from light bronze to almost black.
  • Satin Bronze – A lighter option than oil rubbed bronze, expensive.
  • Copper – Gives a rich feel and has antibacterial properties, not as durable as nickel or chrome.
  • Polished Nickel – Smooth, shiny and works well with many styles
  • Brushed Nickel – One of the most durable finishes. Doesn’t show wear, fingerprints or water spots.
  • Chrome – Works with multiple styles, does show water spots and fingerprints, inexpensive.
  • Stainless Steel – Often a logical choice for a stainless steel sink.
  • Non-metallic options – Enamel or epoxy coated faucet in matte black, white or tan have a modern look, prone to chipping.

9 Easy Steps to Faucet Replacement

DIY installation of a faucet is fairly straightforward. You will need an adjustable basin wrench, slip joint pliers, safety glasses and a bucket. The toughest part may be cleaning out the area under the sink to give you room to work.

  • Turn off both hot and cold water supplies – place hoses in bucket to collect excess water.
  • Unscrew mounting nuts – these hold the faucet to sink.
  • Remove the old faucet – clean the area around sink hole before installing the new one.
  • Place rubber gasket around hole – if your faucet did not come with one apply a sealant before installing.
  • Slip faucet supply lines through hole.
  • Secure new faucet to sink – avoid tightening screws too much on porcelain faucets because they will chip.
  • Reattach water lines – test the lines to check the water pressure. Make adjustment if necessary.
  • Cap all unused holes with covers – If you are switching to a single handle then cover up the old holes for the water knobs with universal caps that match your sink.
  • Think accessories – Add a soap dispenser or water filter to the leftover holes where water handles were.

Match Fixtures

Consider buying any additional accessories (soap dispenser, water filter, sprayer) from the same manufacturer. Many finishes vary from company to company so keep your look consistent.

Hard Work Pays Off

Putting the finishing touches on your kitchen upgrade is easy and exhilarating. All your hard work definitely pays off. DIY projects are fun, save money and give you a sense of accomplishment that hiring outside help doesn’t provide. Try not to rest on those laurels for long; plenty of other home improvement projects need your attention!

Expert Advice

From a right angle drill and battery powered work light to a basin wrench, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next kitchen DIY project. Looking to upgrade your own kitchen? Review our blogs in this series for helpful tips on where to begin – How to Reinvigorate Your Kitchen for Less, Show Off Your DIY Skills with Flooring, and Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizzazz. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Kitchen Backsplashes with Pizazz – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #3

Remodeling Project #3 - Update Your BacksplashYou want to add a little pizazz to your kitchen – how about starting with that often overlooked area called the backsplash? It’s a design opportunity just waiting for an inspired DIY’er like yourself. Get those creative juices flowing, we’ve got work to do.

Make it Take the Heat and the Mess

There is a wide range of materials available for your backsplash. Choose a material that will complement countertops or add overall warmth to the kitchen. Keep in mind the product you choose needs to be able to withstand heat, greasy splatters and frequent cleanings. A few popular options are:

  • Ceramic tile – Widely available and affordable
  • Metals – Stainless steel, copper, tin
  • Glass – Tiles or solid panels
  • Stone – Granite, marble, soapstone, quartz
  • Metallic penny tiles
  • Wood
  • Laminate

Subway Tiles: An Elegant, Affordable Choice

One of the most popular (and affordable) options is subway tiles. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are easy to install. Give your backsplash additional interest by laying the tile at an angle or in a pattern. Here are a few tips on installing tile:

  • Prepare your work area – remove outlet covers and any fixtures, cover your countertops and tape off around cabinets.
  • Use cement backer board – this is actually a thin layer of concrete with fiberglass weave on both sides, which gives the tile something firm to sit on.
  • Apply tile mastic to small section of wall – this is a ready-to-use adhesive that has better adhesive properties on vertical surfaces than thin set.
  • Cut and place tiles – work in small areas so the mastic does not dry. Use spacers.
  • Apply grout – allow tiles to set overnight before applying grout. You can use tinted grout if you don’t want white.
  • Clean and caulk – wait at least 30-40 minutes for the grout to set before wiping the tiles clean with damp sponge. Caulk where the tiles meet the countertop.

Personalize Your Kitchen Backsplash

If tile and traditional materials aren’t what you are looking for, then consider non-traditional DIY options that add personality:

  • Customized wallpaper – Photographs, quotes or textured fabrics applied to the walls with adhesive and covered with glass.
  • Install a mirror – A reflective surface can open up a small space and show off countertops.
  • Paint – If you already have a tile backsplash, give it a pop of color with paint.
  • Ceiling tiles – Laminated thermoplastic panels can be glued to walls to give an old world feel.
  • Repurposed wood – Reuse old wood flooring, apply varnish and seal to make for easy clean-up.
  • Cork – Glue squares of this on the walls for a handy recipe/reminder board for the whole family. Seal it for easy wipe downs.

Spice Up Your Kitchen with A New Backsplash

Whatever material you choose, updating your backsplash is an easy, economical way to breathe life back into your kitchen. Get creative and spice up your galley this weekend. It’s a little change that reaps big results.

Expert Advice

From masonry saws to tile nippers and cutters, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your next kitchen update. Is this your first time installing tile? Learn helpful tips from our blogs, How to Install a Kitchen Tile Backsplash and How to Cut Tile for Do-it-Yourself Tiling Jobs. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Invigorate Your Kitchen for Less – Creative Remodeling Project Idea #1

Remodeling Project #1 - Update Your CountertopsOne of the most popular remodeling projects is renovating the kitchen, a project that can also easily become the most expensive. Forbes magazine lists the average kitchen makeover budget at close to $54,000. Wow, good thing we’re into home DIY projects! Let’s look at ways to invigorate your kitchen for less.

Create a Remodeling Plan

Think about why you are remodeling. Are you updating the kitchen to resell your home? Or are you looking for a change? Answering these questions can help you establish a realistic plan and avoid the expensive pitfalls of kitchen renovations. Determine which projects you want to do yourself and which ones you want to leave to the professionals.

Decide What You Want Done the Most

If you just want to freshen up the look of the most popular room in the house, what in your kitchen stays – the cabinets, the countertops or the appliances? If you want all new stainless steel appliances, then start your budget there and build on that. Decide what you want done the most and what you can exclude.

Popular Materials for Countertops

Determined to have granite installed in your kitchen? Expect to spend 10-15% of your overall kitchen remodel budget just on the countertops. Granite, marble and engineered stones are popular. They do come at a price.

  • Granite – Scratch and heat resistant; can stain if not sealed properly
  • Marble – Carrara is popular, can stain and scratch
  • Soapstone – Bacteria, acid and stain resistant; can chip on edges
  • Natural and Engineered Quartz (Silestone, CaesarStone) – Heat and stain resistant
  • Wood – Popular with many chefs; inexpensive
  • Glass – Recycled or mosaic; can chip and show scratches
  • Concrete – Can be tinted and textured for aesthetics
  • Laminate – Inexpensive; wide range of colors available
  • Solid Surfaces (Corian, Wilsonart, Avonart) – Stain and bacteria resistant; not heat tolerant.
  • Stainless Steel – Durable; heat resistant and easy to clean

Money-Saving Countertop Ideas

Save money by getting creative with your countertops. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Paint laminate surfaces – Be sure to cover your paint choice with several protective coatings of polyurethane (matte or high gloss finish).
  • Tile – Mix it up. Select different types of tile for the countertop and the backsplash.
  • Wood – Re-purpose old wood doors. Use old countertops as a template to cut out the wood. Sand, stain and coat them with polyurethane.
  • Concrete – Apply it right over your old surfaces or buy it in slabs built to your exact measurements.
  • Stainless Steel – To get a seamless countertop, order materials cut to specific measurements.

Many of these countertop options require 24 hrs. drying time between coats, so be patient. Good things come to those who wait (and do it themselves).

Dream Kitchens for Less

You can have the dream kitchen you want by rolling up your sleeves and creatively re-inventing an old space. By saving money and redoing the countertops yourself, you can use the extra cash to buy new appliances or redo the cabinets and floors. Even grilled cheese sandwiches will taste better made in your newly remodeled kitchen! As Emeril Lagasse says, “Bam!” – what a kitchen.

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to concrete mixers and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for kitchen remodels and more. Learn more tips from our blog, Install a Tile Backsplash in Your Kitchen for a Fresh New Look. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Give Kitchen Cabinets a Face-lift in 10 Steps with New Stain

How to Restain Your Kitchen CabinetsWhile pondering your next home DIY project over a morning cup of coffee, you suddenly realize that it is staring you right in the face. Your kitchen cabinets could use a face-lift! Re-staining wood cabinets is an easy and economical way to perk up the busiest room in the house. If yours are looking a little lackluster, all you need is some wood stain and a little sweat equity.

What you will need:

  • Drill
  • Orbital sander
  • 220 grit sand paper and sanding block
  • Mineral spirits
  • Gel or spray stripping solvent
  • Putty knife
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint sprayer
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane coating

Do you have fiberboard cabinets?

Determine if your cabinets are hardwood or fiberboard. Test an out-of-the-way spot by sanding off the finish or paint. Fiberboard will not stain so you may have to re-paint them. If you have hardwood cabinets, then you’re ready to start.

10 Steps to Reinvigorate Kitchen Cabinets with Stain

  1. Remove the doors from the cabinets – Clean out all cabinets and drawers. Label the doors and cabinets so that you can re-assemble them in the correct order at the end of project.
  2. Unscrew all hardware and hinges – If you are keeping existing hardware, label them to match where they came from.
  3. Clean the surfaces – Use mineral spirits to clean dirt and grease from the wood. It may take several passes.
  4. Apply gel stripper – Spread the solvent onto your cabinets and allow it to bubble up old finishes or paint. Scrape it off with a putty knife. These chemicals are very corrosive and toxic so wear a mask, gloves and safety googles.
  5. Use wood putty to fill holes and gouges – To install new hardware, cover the old holes with wood filler and let dry 24 hours.
  6. Sand all surfaces – An orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper will smooth the wood and remove any old paint or finish. For any trim or hard to reach places, it is best to sand by hand. Wipe with tack cloth to remove dust and debris.
  7. Apply stain – Work with the wood grain and apply light, even coats. Wipe excess off with a cloth. To get a deeper color, apply several coats not thicker ones. Allow wood to dry completely between each pass.
  8. Add a polyurethane coating – This will help protect the wood and allow for easier cleaning. A paint sprayer will make it easier to do a large number of cabinets and will help prevent streaks.
  9. Re-assemble the cabinets – Match the numbered doors to corresponding cabinets.
  10. Install new hardware – Drill new holes to add new knobs, pulls and hinges.

You are on a roll!

Staining the existing wood cabinets is not only a great way to freshen up the look of your kitchen without spending a lot of money, recycling the cabinets is also eco-friendly. Now that you’ve done such a great job on the cabinets maybe it’s time to tackle the backsplash. Looks like you’ve found your next DIY project without even trying. You are on a roll!

Expert Advice

Whether orbital sanders, drills or paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. If re-staining the cabinets isn’t enough of a change for your kitchen, check out our blog, How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets to Perfection for some excellent tips on doing it like a pro. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Give Old Chairs New Life with Fresh Paint & Upholstery

How to Reupholster ChairsWhile cleaning out the attic (a New Year’s resolution, perhaps?) you come across a pair of your grandmother’s old chairs. You realize that with a fresh coat of paint and new fabric, you can breathe life back into them – and they would be perfect for your home. Congratulations, you have just found your next DIY project!

Good Bones Are Good Bones

Furniture left languishing in attics and storage closets just needs a little TLC to bring out its beautiful essence, not to mention, to make it functional once more. Repurposing well-made old chairs with new paint and upholstery is an easy, inexpensive weekend project. Let’s get started.

To repaint a wood chair, you will need the following:

  • Drop cloth – to keep your floors drip free
  • Tack cloths – to wipe off dust and debris (paper towels/rags leave lint!)
  • Mineral spirits or dish soap – the wood needs a good cleaning
  • Sandpaper – 120 and 220 grit
  • Sanding block – to work in those hard to reach areas
  • Orbital sander – makes easy work of large areas
  • Paint – buy one that can take frequent cleanings
  • Foam roller and brush – these will give you a smoother finish
  • Water based polyurethane – protects your paint and make clean ups easier
  • Wood blocks – to position chair off floor

Tips for Successfully Painting Wood Chairs 

  1. Prep work is key – Start by removing the seat cover. Inspect the chair’s paint condition, if it is chipped or cracked, strip it off to give the paint a smooth surface to stick to. Use a chemical stripper to bubble up the old paint and a putty knife to remove it. A heat gun can also help remove old paint. Be careful not to scrape too hard or you can damage the wood.
  1. Give wood a good cleaning – Clean the surface of the chair using dish soap or mineral spirits to remove any dirt or grease. Why? Contaminants cause paint not to adhere to the wood. Fill cracks and gouges with wood filler, which comes in a variety of color tints so they blend in. Let filler dry 24 hours before painting.
  1. When painting, go with the grain – Use 120 grit sandpaper to smooth off excess filler and to rough up the wood surface. Place the chair on the wood blocks to get it up off floor. Apply your first coat of paint, working from the top down. Paint with the grain of the wood. Allow it to dry, then use the 220 grit fine sandpaper to smooth any remaining rough spots or paint drips. Wipe the chair down completely to remove dust or debris before applying a second coat.
  1. Seal and protect with polyurethane – Seal the chair’s paint with polyurethane. Apply slowly and carefully, using a mini foam roller, to avoid forming air bubbles in the coating. If using a paint sprayer, hold it at least 8-12 inches away from the wood surface. Aim for multiple thin layers instead of doing one or two thick layers. When finished allow 72 hours for the chair to dry completely before using.

7 Steps for Reupholstering

  1. What you’ll need – cotton material for a liner and fabric for the cover.
  2. Remove old material and inspect the foam cushion. This may need to be replaced if too old.
  3. Iron out creases in both the new liner and fabric.
  4. Put the seat frame on the liner and trace 3 inches from the edge. Cut along this line.
  5. Cover the frame and cushion with the liner. Attach on the bottom at the center of each side, pulling the material tightly as you go. Work your way around, going from center to corner on each side. Fold excess material on corners, avoiding creases on the cushion top. Think hospital corners and use that staple gun!
  6. Once the liner is in place, repeat the same procedure with your fabric. If your material contains a pattern, place it the way you want it to be seen on top first, then flip it over to mark your lines. Pull the material tightly. Remember, staples can be removed and fabric re-adjusted.
  7. Once complete, you can attach the cushion back onto the chair frame.

Granny Would Be So Proud!

Now, your chair looks like a million bucks but you know the truth. Over a weekend you have managed to repurpose clutter from your attic into a serviceable piece of furniture. Feel free to take a load off and sit on your new designer chair. Granny would be SO proud!

Expert Advice

From orbital sanders and drills to heat guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. Looking for more ideas on how to freshen up old furniture? Check out our previous blog. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Post-Holiday Clean Up? 7 Ways to Bring It On!

Post-Holiday Clean-UpAs the New Year begins, it’s an exciting time, packing away the old to make room for the new. Rather than being overwhelmed with post-holiday clean up, think of it as a new start for you and your home.

  1. The Big Clean – The Japanese New Year tradition called Oosouji means, “The Big Clean” and everyone in Japan takes it to heart. During the final week of the year, they spend time cleaning, decluttering and organizing their homes, offices and schools in order to start the new year with a fresh outlook. This approach seems to work far better than rarely kept resolutions, so give it a try.
  1. Re-Organize Decorations Before Storing – Start your big clean by re-organizing Christmas decorations before packing them away. Look at everything and eliminate the items you didn’t use. Roll up strings of lights onto wrapping paper tubes to keep them from tangling. Organize decorations in see-through plastic bins and label them according to where they are used.
  1. Organize Storage Areas – Now that you’ve packed away decorations, why not organize the storage space in the attic? Building shelves that fit into the rafters is an easy DIY project. A variety of plans are available online and all you need is some lumber, a circular saw, a drill, maybe a hammer and nails, too. Soon those storage bins will be neatly tucked away until next year.
  1. Mulch Christmas Trees – Recycle the Christmas tree into mulch rather than contributing to landfill overload. Many cities offer curbside tree pick-up or rent a chipper/ shredder and do it yourself. If the tree left a trail of needles on its way out the door, vacuum them up so they won’t burrow deep down into rugs and carpets. Tape lint rollers are great for picking up stubborn needles off of furniture and rugs.
  1. Freshen the Carpet – During the holidays your carpet can take a beating from muddy foot traffic and other unfortunate messes. For wine stains, sprinkle a few drops of white vinegar onto the stain and blot with a damp cloth. If your rugs are really dirty, consider renting a carpet cleaner and freshen them up.
  1. Clear Out the Clutter – Is your house filled with piles of new gifts and toys? Now is the perfect time to clear out the clutter. Make it a new motto – for every new item, get rid of two old items. Other clutter-reducing ideas include:
    • The holiday mailing box challenge – fill old mailing boxes with items like clothing, books and toys to donate to charity. See how many you can fill!
    • Sort through holiday cards, make a note of who sent them (for next year’s list) and cut gift tags out of the cards you like.
    • Swap already read books online at sites like Paperback Swap and Book Mooch.
    • The White Elephant Super Bowl exchange party – re-gift those “special” presents while getting your football face on.
  1. Get Tax Paperwork in Order – The end of the year is also a great time to organize what you need for filing taxes. Set up a special file to deposit all incoming tax forms. Be sure to add receipts from charitable donations. Sort through and shred papers that are no longer needed. Go paperless whenever possible to help reduce the paper clutter.

The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy our friends and family and to usher in the new year. You’d be surprised how decluttering your surroundings will lighten your mood and lift your spirit – start the New Year with a fresh outlook and an organized house!

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to carpet cleaners and wood chippers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to handle your home DIY project. Looking for more ideas on how to make a fresh start in your home after the holidays? Check out our previous blog. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Easy Advice for Installing Storm Windows = Big Energy Savings This Winter

How to Install Storm WindowsWorried about winter heating bills? Or just wishing your home wasn’t so drafty? We’ve already covered the perfect DIY solution #1: installing storm doors. What’s the perfect DIY solution #2? Installing storm windows. They alone can save you between 12 and 33 percent on your heating costs and are much cheaper than replacement windows. Plus, installing storm windows is easy, with our expert how-to advice.

Make Your Choice – Interior or Exterior Storm Windows

Determine what type of storm windows you’d like – interior or exterior. Exterior models come with solid windows and screens in frames that attach directly to an existing window. Interior storm windows are usually seasonal products that you install every winter. They snap or clip into your interior windowsill but do not have adjustable glass panes or screens.

Exterior storm windows are the most common. Frames are made from wood, aluminum or vinyl and offer extra protection to your existing windows. They help them last longer and require less maintenance to the paint and caulk. Most have low emissivity glass (Low-E), which keeps thermal heat in during the winter and infrared heat out during the summer.

Installation is a simple DIY home project that you can tackle in a weekend (depending on the number of windows you have). To start, you will need the following:

Measure, Measure, Measure

Take a series of measurements of the inside of your existing window, at the bottom, top and middle of the frame. Why? The window frame may not be straight. Use the smallest measurement to order your storm windows. Measure the height of the frame from the outside of your window.

Consider ordering your windows with some of the following features:

  • Multiple positioning stops so you can raise or lower the panes to where you want.
  • Quality weather stripping to help stop heating/cooling loss.
  • Pre-drilled holes for quicker installation.
  • Easy-to-clean removable half pane glass and screens to make spring cleaning easier.

Drill Weep Holes then Paint

Storm windows come with weep holes installed at the bottom. Drill matching holes in the bottom exterior windowsill. This will allow condensation to escape. Next, scrap and paint the exterior frame before installing the new window.

Seal Your Storm Windows

Manufacturers recommend applying Butyl caulk, a rubber-based sealant that is good for outdoor installations like siding and gutters. It is a little uncooperative to work with, but it seals better than a silicone caulk. Apply it to the back of the storm window before installing to the exterior frame.

An Extra Set of Hands Comes in – Handy

You may need an extra set of hands to help hold the storm window while you mount it. First center the window then screw it in at top. Close the bottom sash and then screw the sides to the exterior frame. There will be an adjustable expander at the bottom of your storm windows. Tap it down tight against the windowsill and you are done.

Look for Condensation and Fix Air Leaks

Be sure to check your storm windows for condensation during the next cold snap. Leaks from your interior windows can cause moisture build up. This is no problem since the storm window has weep holes, but you may want to follow up with new weather stripping on your interior sill to plug possible air leaks.

Take a Bite Out of Your Next Power Bill

Cutting down on heating bills is always a challenge. Improving your home’s insulation, plugging air leaks and installing storm windows will go a long way to take a bite out of that next bill. Next time the cold wind blows and you sit warm inside, remember to thank your storm windows. Everyone likes a nice pat on the back from time to time.

Expert Advice

From ladders and drills to caulking saws, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment to tackle your next DIY project. For more helpful tips on how to keep things warm at your house check out our blog, 3 Easy Economical Ways to Winterize Your Home. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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3 Methods for Inspecting & Cleaning a Fireplace

cleaning your fireplace and chimney in 3 simple stepsSitting in front of a blazing fire during the winter is one of life’s joys. A fireplace that offers warmth and comfort must be properly maintained, so it doesn’t pose a hazard to your family. Give yourself peace of mind by having your both your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned.

4 Types of Chimney Soot

  • A light, dull dusting of gray, brown or black soot
  • Black granular accumulation
  • A black, gummy, road-tar-like coating
  • A shiny, glaze-like coating, which is very combustible

Creosote Buildup Causes Fires

Chimney fires are caused by a buildup of creosote, which is the byproduct of unburnt wood. It adheres to the inside of the chimney or flue and can ignite with a spark. An inspection will determine the amount of soot and creosote coating the interior of the chimney. If the layer is over 1/8-inch thick, then avoid using the fireplace until it can be cleaned.

3 Basic Methods for Cleaning a Chimney & Fireplace

  • From the top down – You would use the chimney brush and extenders down into the chimney from the roof, scrubbing the sides to loosen debris.
  • From the bottom up – You extend the brush up into the chimney and flue to remove the soot and creosote.
  • Tag team method – With a rope pulley system, one person is on the roof and the other is at the base of the fireplace. Together they pull the chimney brush back and forth on the pulley, cleaning the sides.

Successful cleaning is all in the preparation – Inspecting and cleaning a chimney and fireplace will take preparation and some tools you may or may not have on hand, such as:

  • Chimney brush and extension pipes
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Drop cloth and tarps to cover floor and furniture
  • Flash light
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ladder
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Shop Vac (optional)

If you are not sure, call a professional chimney sweep  Determining the type and thickness of the soot is important. Simply scrape some off the side of the chimney to ascertain what kind of cleaning is needed. If you are unsure about tackling the job yourself then call in a professional. A reputable chimney sweep is licensed by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the cost is estimated at $150-$200.

Soot can get everywhere, so cover up  This DIY project can be messy so be sure to cover your floors and furniture with drop cloths. Wear old clothes, a dust mask and safety goggles. Place a drop cloth in the bottom of the fireplace. You may even want to create a “tent” around the fireplace if you worry about covering your house in soot.

Your chimney may have houseguests  Lay on your back and look up into the chimney and flue with a flash light. Don’t be surprised to find animals like birds and squirrels nesting in there. If you do you will need to remove them before continuing.

Glazed, hardened creosote may need a professional touch to remove  Whichever method appeals to you, be sure to get as much soot and creosote off the walls as possible. Use a shop vacuum to gather the falling debris as you work. If the creosote on the walls has hardened into a glaze you may need to seek professional help in getting it off. Scrubbing will not remove this type layer.

Don’t forget to trim back tree limbs  Inspect the outside of your chimney. Look for any loose or cracked bricks and deteriorating mortar. If you have tree limbs that are covering your chimney now is the time to trim them back.

Make sure the damper is working properly – From the fireplace, shine your flashlight upward to make sure the damper is working properly. Be sure to wear your safety goggles since debris will often float back down and land on the damper ledge. Use your chimney brush to clean this area.

Get out the shop vac for clean-up  After getting as much soot and creosote off the walls, vacuum the fireplace and drop cloths. Be careful to clean up any debris that may have escaped the hearth before removing the tarps on your furniture.

Keep Safe and Warm this Winter

By inspecting and cleaning your chimney and fireplace once a year in addition to burning well-seasoned wood, you can greatly reduce the chances of having an accidental fire in your home. Keeping your family safe and warm this winter only takes a little elbow grease and a good chimney brush. You can even whistle tunes from Mary Poppins while you work … if this helps!

Expert Advice

From ladders and chain saws to shop vacs, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right equipment for your home projects. For more helpful tips on how to get your home ready for the cold temps, check our blog, 3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter. As always, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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DIY Project: How to Install a Sump Pump

How to Install a Sump PumpHaving a flooded basement is one of the worst fears a homeowner has and it’s a costly one. It only takes a heavy rainfall or a broken water pipe to ruin everything in the lower level of your home. One item that can alleviate this anxiety is a sump pump.

Water Problems are Not Uncommon

Sixty percent of American homes suffer from below-ground wetness. Water problems can be caused by:

  • Excessive water, i.e. over-saturating the ground around the foundation
  • Improperly installed or maintained gutters
  • Patios, decks or walkways sloping back toward the home’s foundation

Which Type of Sump Pump Do You Need?

Installing a sump pump in your basement is an easy do-it-yourself project. A sump pump’s main function is to channel water out of your basement and away from your foundation. There are three different types of pumps:

  • Pedestal – This type has the motor mounted above the sump pit and is less expensive. They can last 25-30 years but take up more room and cannot handle debris.
  • Submersible – The motor is submerged in the sump pit, which makes it less accessible. These pumps last 5-15 years, are best for tight spaces and can take up debris without clogging the pump.
  • Ejector – These are good for crawlspaces with pea gravel floors. Constructed from cast iron, these pumps last between 5-10 years and can eject small debris as well as water.

Installing a Sump Pump is Easy

Before you begin to dig the sump pit (the hole in which the pump sits), know where your main water and power lines are. It is recommended that you buy your sump pump and the heavy plastic pit liner together to assure proper fit. Once you determine the lowest point in your basement, we are ready to begin.

  1. Place the pit at least 8” away from outside walls, but close to a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) electrical outlet. You need to plug directly into outlet. No extension cords please!
  2. Dig a hole that is 3” wider than the liner and 6” deeper. You will need to jack hammer the foundation floor in order to clear the way for digging.
  3. Line the pit with gravel at the bottom and tamp. Place and level the liner inside the pit and fill around it with more gravel.
  4. Attach the discharge pipe to the pump and place it in the pit, making sure to keep it level. The discharge pipe is usually made of PVC pipe and will run from the pit to the outside of the house. A common method of getting the pipe outside is to drill into the rim joist.
  5. Dry fit all pipes together and then cement. Discharge pipes should have a small vent hole to prevent an air lock from forming. Be sure to caulk around the pipe, exiting through the rim joist.
  6. Dig a hole about a foot deep for the discharge line to exit through. Fill the hole completely with gravel to keep the line from freezing.
  7. Support the PVC pipes by attaching them to walls or other joists.
  8. Adjust the float valve on the pump and test. Pour water into the pit until the pump is submerged. Plug the pump in and voilà! Water is exiting the building.
  9. Put a cover or lid over the pit to help keep debris from getting into the pump or it becomes a hazard.

Consider Buying an Alarm and Battery Back-Up

You should consider buying a pump that has an alarm and a battery back-up. Both would come in handy during storms when water is likely to be a problem. For frequent flooding problems, you may want to consider having two separate sump pumps just to cover you in the event the first one fails.

Inspect and Test Your Pump Regularly

It is a good practice to test your sump pump twice a year. Just fill the pit with water and turn the pump on. Regular inspection of the pump will help you avoid any issues. To learn more about some of the potential problems you can face check out our blog on repairing sump pumps.

Keep Your Home Safe and Dry

You no longer have to worry about a flooded basement with a sump pump. This simple DIY project will help keep your home safe and dry. So sleep easy and listen to the rain. You’re in good hands.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on-hand to help you with your DIY projects. From jack hammers and drills to shovels and tamps, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps

how-to build a backyard pondOne sure way to add a beautiful focal point to any landscape is to introduce a water feature. What about building a backyard pond? It will not only add diversity, it attracts beneficial wildlife. Adding a small pond with trickling water is an easy weekend project, plus you and your family will enjoy it for years to come.

Keep it Close

To get the maximum enjoyment from your pond, keep it close to your home. You want to see and hear it from your windows or patio area. Because you need electricity for the pump, keep the pond within close proximity to an outdoor outlet. Most pumps come with a 24-foot power cord; any further than that and you will need to extend your power lines.

Not Too Much Sunlight, Please

Ponds need sunlight to support beneficial wildlife and they prefer partial daily exposure. Too much sun can warm the water too much and allow algae to thrive. Avoid positioning your pond near large trees. Roots can damage your lining in their quest for moisture. Besides, fishing leaves out of your pond all the time is no fun.

Habitat for Fish?

Do you want a fish pond? You and your family may enjoy taking care of fish. However, they will need to be fed daily and the pond filter will need to be cleaned or changed regularly. It’s a decision to make before committing to be “fish parents.” If you commit, build in water depth to the pond, which is more critical than circumference. You need to dig a minimum of 18 inches for goldfish and three feet for koi in order for them to survive the winter.

The Soothing Sounds of a Waterfall

Consider adding a waterfall to your pond. Keeping the water moving and aerated helps keep algae in check and prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs. Flowing water also attracts birds and other interesting wildlife. Plus you benefit from the soothing sounds yourself.

Time to Start Digging

Now that you’ve decided where and how large of a pond you want, it’s time to call 811 to have someone come out and determine where underground gas and electrical lines might be. Once you’re clear of that, it’s time to start digging.

  • Mark the outline – form the shape you want with twine or landscape paint.
  • Excavate the area – if you are going for a lovely large water feature you may want to consider using a Bobcat or an excavator to make your digging easier.
  • Terrace the pond
  • Create a 3-inch wide area around the outside of your outline for the stone border.
  • Create a 1-foot wide shelf around the inside of the outline for aquatic plants. It should be about 8 inches deep from the edge of the pond.
  • Dig the bed of the pond a minimum of 18 inches deep, sloping slightly in creating the walls.

4) Dig a trench back to the power supply – this should be close to the deepest part of the pond since that is where the pump will go.

5)   Add an overflow trench at one end of pond – It should be about 6 inches wide and 1 inch deep to help channel overflow caused by heavy rains away from your pond.

6)   Prepare the Base – Add a 1 inch layer of sand followed by a 1/2” layer of newspapers around the entire base of the pond and terrace areas. The newspaper will help protect the liner from punctures.

7)   Line the Pond – Use a polypropylene flexible liner that can withstand UV rays, freezing temps, and is rated “fish friendly”. Cut the liner about 4 feet wider and longer than the pond dimensions. Center the liner in the pond and press it down, pushing tightly into the crevices.

8)   Fill the Pond – Begin adding water to the pond using a garden hose. While the pond is filling up pull the liner tightly to help remove creases. Get someone to help with this so that the extra liner you’ve left over the pond edge will not shift.

9)   Install the pump – Thread the power cord through a PVC pipe and place it in the trench leading back to exterior outlet and backfill. Place the pump in the deepest section of the pond while holding onto the other end of the hose.

10) Create a Rock Border – To hide the liner edge place rocks around the perimeter. The rocks need to interlock so they will not be loose and cause a safety hazard. Create easy access for wildlife by extending some of the rocks into the shallow water.

Jump Start Your Pond’s Ecosystem

Landscaping inside and around your pond is important for completely the look of your water feature. It helps to attract wildlife like birds and butterflies, and looks pretty to the human eye, too. To jump start your pond’s ecosystem add a bucket of water from a nearby natural water source. It will introduce millions of organisms and help keep your pond’s health in balance with nature.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your landscaping projects. From Bobcats and excavators to shovels and wheel barrows, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Summer Garden Update #2 – Garden Boxes Add Pizzazz to Planting

Add Pizzazz to Your Garden with A DIY PlanterIf you want to change it up a little in your garden this season, why not try adding some garden boxes? These easy-to-build containers are perfect for adding a splash of color to a boring corner of the yard or growing some delicious vegetables for your table. They can make your gardening chores easier, too. Who doesn’t love that idea?

Big on Benefits

The benefits of garden boxes are vast. They are ideal for small spaces and great if your soil is rocky or of poor quality. They also take less effort to maintain because plants placed close together tend to shade and cool the ground around them. This means less watering, less weeding and less mulching. Vegetable gardens planted in raised beds tend to produce higher yields due to better drainage and deep rooting.

Boxes vs. Planters

There is a difference between garden boxes (beds) and garden planters. Generally garden boxes are raised boxes that are open on the bottom to allow plants contact with the soil in your yard. Garden planters are also raised boxes but they are closed on the bottom with either slats or landscaping fabric to keep the dirt inside contained. Whichever you choose to go with, there will be some basic construction involved. Here is what you will need for a rectangular garden box:

  • (4) 2×6 cut to 8 feet
  • (4) 2×6 cut to 4 feet
  • (1) bundle of 18-24” wooden stakes
  • Galvanized nails or screws
  • A level, a small sledge hammer and a drill

Make Your Bed – Then Plant in it

What kind of material do you use to build your garden bed? Generally they are made from lumber. However, look around your yard for materials you may be able to repurpose, such as:

  • Untreated lumber like pine or cedar
  • Concrete blocks – the pH level in your soil may be affected by concrete, but you can correct with fertilizer
  • Bricks
  • Recycled wooden pallets

Avoid pressure treated lumber, which can contain chemicals that leach into the soil. Pass on repurposing railroad ties, too – these are treated with creosote, which is toxic.

A Bed with Easy Access

Select a level section of your yard to place the bed. Make sure the area has adequate sunlight, access to a water source and is free of tree roots. The width of your box should be no wider than four feet to allow for easy access to the bed without having to step into it. The length is not as important. Most beds are usually 4×8 feet or 4×12 feet in size. The depth of the box needs to be no less than six inches, with 12 inches being ideal.

Keep it Level

Construct the frame of your bed by attaching the sides and ends together with galvanized nails or screws. Once you have the frame constructed, drive stakes in the ground inside the corners at one end of your box. Leave about four to six inches of the stakes above ground. Attach the frame to the stakes. Don’t worry about whether the frame is sitting completely on the ground or not. The important thing to remember is to keep the box level when attaching it to the stakes.

Almost Finished

Once you have leveled one end of the box, go to the opposite end and repeat the process. When your box is level, drive a couple of stakes into the ground along the inside of each side. Attach your frame to the stakes. Finish up by adding the sides for the second layer and securing them to the stakes.

Prepare the Soil

Now that your garden box is complete, prepare the bed. You need to break up the ground inside the box. One tip is to remove the top layer of soil (about the depth of your shovel blade) and till up the soil beneath. Add back the soil you have removed and mix it in. Add compost and additional top soil to build up the bed.

Making Your Gardening Easy

When your soil is ready, it is time to add your plants. Whether you are planting flowers or vegetables, an overall planting design will help. Place your tallest plants in the center with trellises and work your way outward. Garden boxes make gardening easy. So think inside the box for a change. You’ll be glad you did.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From circular saws and small tillers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. Check out our first garden update here.

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Summer Garden Update #1 – Build a Retaining Wall

How to Build a Retaining WallIf you want to correct a sloping lawn or add some interest to your landscape, then a retaining wall may be just the ticket. By using concrete blocks with interlocking flanges, this DIY project is something you can tackle in a weekend and enjoy for years to come.

Designing Your Wall for Your Lifestyle

Determine where you want the wall to go and mark the area with stakes and twine. For a free form, less structured shape, use landscaping paint to define the outline of the wall. Here’s a chance to show your creative side – after checking your local building codes of course. Any wall higher than four feet may require a structural engineer to help with it. Also, be sure to check with homeowner’s associations or other neighborhood governing organizations for restrictions before starting construction.

What You Will Need

In addition to concrete blocks, you will need a list of materials. Many are heavy, so you may want to arrange a delivery. No use wearing yourself out before you lay the first brick!

  • Paver base material – usually a mixture of gravel and crushed limestone
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Level – preferably 2 feet or longer
  • Rubber mallet
  • Construction adhesive
  • Perforated drain pipe
  • Hand or gas powered tamper
  • Landscape rake
  • Shovel

A Good Foundation Makes all the Difference

A firm foundation sets up how secure the wall will be as you build it up. Checking to see that the blocks are level and that you have adequate drainage during the building process is vital. These two steps will help stabilize the wall and keep it from cracking or bowing outward.

Time to Get Dirty

Now that you have all of your materials, let’s roll up those sleeves and get to work.

  • ExcavateDig a trench twice the width of the blocks and deep enough to bury the first level of blocks halfway.
  • Ensure a level base – Add paver base to the trench and spread it evenly.
  • Compact the base – With a tamper compact the base material.
  • Level the base – Use a board to help level the base material. Check with the torpedo level.
  • Lay the base blocks – Remove the interlocking flange from the blocks on the bottom row. Check to see if blocks are level and use mallet to help adjust blocks.
  • Fill in around base – Add soil around the front of the blocks and tamp down to provide support.
  • Provide proper drainage – Place a perforated drain pipe at the bottom of the wall, cover with landscaping fabric, and fill around with gravel.
  • Continue stacking blocks – Stagger the joints on each row by starting alternate rows with a half block.
  • Backfill as you go – Fill behind each level of blocks with gravel and tamp down.
  • Add capstones if desired – Even though it is not structurally necessary, it will give the wall a finished look. Use construction adhesive when placing capstones.

Talk About Curb Appeal

Now that your wall is completed you can add creative touches that will help reflect your personal style. Add a splash of color by staining the blocks or add plants to the top of the wall that will soon cascade over the edge. The sky is the limit. Building a retaining wall is hard work but it provides rewards for many years down the road. You’ve just added a lot of sweat equity to your landscape and upped your home’s curb appeal, all in one weekend. Now where’s that lawn chair?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From masonry saws and tampers to trenchers and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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No Excuses! Start Composting

You read and research a lot of material on how to start composting and still you are hesitant. “It’s too hard; it costs too much; is it worth it?” are a few of the same excuses you told yourself at the start of your last DIY project. You successfully tackled those challenges and with our help you will master the art of composting as well. Time to get started!

The Importance of a DIY Compost BinWhy Should We Compost?

  • Our landfills are running out of room. Twenty-five percent of the garbage in the U.S. is yard trimmings and food scraps. That is nearly 60 million tons of organic materials that we could be turning back into nutrients for our soil.
  • It saves money. Instead of spending funds on manmade compost and fertilizers, making your own is just common sense…and cost-effective, too.
  • It helps you create a healthier, thriving garden by suppressing diseases and pests.
  • It reduces greenhouse gases. Landfills break down anaerobically (without oxygen) which produces methane gas. These emissions are far more toxic than CO2 gases.
  • It reduces the chemicals entering our rivers and lakes as water runs off from the land.
  • It eliminates the toxic elements that are created in landfills that seep into our ground water.

Composting is Easy

If you can expend the energy to gather yard waste in the first place, then you are halfway to composting. Simply deposit the waste into a compost bin or pile and there you have it. There are plenty of DIY compost bin designs on the internet for you to build. If you’d rather keep it simple – start with a compost pile. Find a semi-shady spot in your yard where the pile will get some sun but won’t dry out. The pile needs to be able to get enough rain to keep it damp but not completely wet. Keep your pile away from the base of trees so that the tree roots will not be affected by the decomposition process of the pile.

For more information on composting check out our previous blogs, Go Green: Create a Compost Collection Pile and 10 Good-Sense Tips for Building a Compost Bin.

Invite the Bacteria and Bugs In

Compost is good for your yard and the environment. Bacteria, bugs, worms and fungi will soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor and helping to break down the waste into usable humus or nutrients for your lawn or garden. Using compost in your garden helps plants to grow stronger and produce higher yields. It will also help suppress diseases and pests.

No Odor? No Problems

Still concerned that an open compost pile will give off noxious smells and attract pests? Only compost done wrong stinks. Too much water or not enough air flow through a pile can often be the culprits. Turning your pile regularly with a pitch fork helps break up the clumps of material that may be too wet.

Bury the Food Scraps

Noticing flies buzzing around your pile? They are after the food waste. Always bury your food scraps under a layer of grass clippings or other vegetation. This will also help keep rats and other rodents from being a problem. You can sprinkle lime or calcium over the pile to neutralize odors and help speed up the decomposition.

Start Your Compost Pile Off Right

Layering the materials in your compost pile is the best way to start it out on the right foot. Start with a layer of organic material (leaves and grass clippings) followed by animal manures, fertilizers and starters. Finish up with a layer of top soil. Keep layering until you get a good base for your compost pile. You do not need to layer materials after this. Just sit back and let the magic happen.

Composting – Good All the Way Around

Think of composting as organized garbage removal. Besides being good for the environment and your wallet, it is completely beneficial to the health of your yard and garden. So quit making excuses and get busy composting. You’ll be happy you did.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your composting projects. From wheel barrows and shovels to rakes and other landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How-To: A DIY Rain Barrel Catches Water & Saves Money

The Benefits of a DIY Rain BarrelWe’ve been having crazy weather lately. Some areas have been getting record rainfall while others haven’t seen a drop in days. One sure way to take advantage of all the rainfall and help you out during the dry days of summer is to install a rain barrel. Check out our blog, Build a Rain Barrel for Your Garden in 5 Easy Steps, for more detailed instructions but here are the highlights:

  • Get a 55 or 80 gallon plastic container
  • Place a couple of concrete blocks beneath the barrel and make sure it is level
  • Drill three holes in the container – one a quarter of the way up from the bottom for the main spigot, one at the very bottom as a drain, and one a quarter of the way from the top for an overflow valve.
  • Install spigots on all three with watertight sealant.
  • Drill a large opening in the lid to direct the downspout into barrel
  • Detach a section of the downspout from house and replace it with flexible downspout tubing. Secure with screws.

Think of the Money You’ll Save

Lawn and garden watering makes up close to 40% of total household water use during the hot summer months. By installing a rain barrel you can save up to 1,300 gallons of water. Rainwater is water that is free of chlorine, lime and calcium and is ideal for watering potted plants and gardens, washing cars, and even washing Fido. Think of the money you can save if you didn’t have to turn on the tap outside.

Keeping Rainwater Where It Needs to Go – In the Garden

Rainwater runoff is a big problem in urban and suburban areas, polluting our waterways with fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants. Rain barrels play a part in cutting down on the runoff problem. By installing a rain barrel you can redirect water away from your foundation and at the same time cut down on your water bill. Rainwater helps to stabilize the PH levels in the soil, therefore cutting down on the need for fertilizers.

Things To Keep In Mind When Installing A Rain Barrel

  • Make sure wherever you decide to place the rain barrel that the ground is level to avoid it tipping over once it is full.
  • If you treat your roof for pests, unhook the rain barrel for a couple weeks to avoid contaminating your barrel.
  • Use round barrels rather than square containers because corners can crack from water pressure.
  • Make sure your garden hose fits the spigots. Garden hoses do not follow standard plumbing pipe thread sizes so you may need an adapter.
  • If you live in a cold climate, you will need to disconnect the rain barrel, drain it and store it over the winter. Don’t forget to re-attach the old downspout.
  • You may be eligible for a rebate on your rain barrel from your local water company so check their website for information.

Rain Barrels – Smart Investment, Big Payoff

Constructing a rain barrel is an easy do-it-yourself project as long as you follow a few guidelines. You may find that you use your rain barrel so often that you want to add several more. Think of all the outdoor projects you can accomplish without ever having to turn on your outdoor faucet! A rain barrel is a smart investment that pays off in big ways.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From ladders and wheel barrows to shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Go Wild with Your Garden – How to Attract Birds & Butterflies for a Livelier Yard

Build A DIY BirdhouseYou have been diligently whipping your yard into shape this gardening season, yet something is still missing. Then you realize you need to add a little wildlife to your landscape.

When gardeners start designing, they sometimes forget to add plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Adding a few birdhouses to your landscape will provide hours of entertainment as you watch all the wildlife interact.

Building a Better Birdhouse

Building a birdhouse is fairly simple; however, you can’t just put one up and expect your new tenants to move in immediately. You first need to decide what species of birds you wish to attract. Many bird varieties have preferences when it comes to the type birdhouse they will occupy, so do your homework first. Here are a few basic rules to follow for building a birdhouse.

  • Location, location, location – Select a suitable nesting location based on the type of birds you are trying to attract. Some like their houses to be in an open area while others prefer to have the protection of trees limbs or shrubs.
  • It’s all about design – Different species like different type houses. Some will nest in apartment style houses (Purple Martins) while others want to be alone, away from other birds (House Wrens) in smaller houses.
  • The right opening – The “front door” to the bird house is important. One size does not work for all birds. Different species like small openings (Chickadees) while others like different shaped openings (owls like oval front doors).
  • Height matters – Birds like Purple Martins like their houses built high (15-20 ft) on poles and House Wrens like houses 6-8 ft high hanging from tree limbs.
  • The more the merrier – Make several houses from different designs and place them in different locations in your yard. You will be able to see which design and location works.

Natural Selection

The best material to use for a birdhouse is untreated wood. Make sure your birdhouse design has thick walls that provide adequate insulation. Cut ventilation slits at the top of the house and holes in the floor for drainage. Extend the roof out in the front and slant downward to keep rain out. Adding a baffle will help to keep raccoons, snakes, cats and other predators from getting into the house.

Butterflies & Hummingbirds, Oh My!

Now that you have taken care of the birds, it’s time to attract more butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard with nectar- and pollen-rich plants. Wildflowers and old fashioned varieties of flowers are great for this. Adding a water feature like a fountain or bird bath not only attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, it helps them beat the heat, too.

Keep in mind that a yard where dogs or cats roam about, or one with very little tree or shrub shelter, may cut down on how many butterflies and hummingbirds you attract. Try one or more of these plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.

Butterflies Love:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Daylily
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Liatris
  • Marigold
  • Phlox
  • Russian Sage

Hummingbirds Love:

  • Bee Balm
  • Canna
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia

Many of these plants do double duty and appeal to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Select a variety that have different flowering seasons, extending the freshness of their food supply.

Hummingbird Feeders

Designed specifically for hummingbirds, commercial feeders use the color red to attract them. Gardeners add food – usually a mixture of ¼ cup sugar in a cup of water – to mimic natural flower nectar. Hummingbird feeders come in two types, bottle or saucer. The most important things to consider when choosing a hummingbird feeder is the size and how easy it is to take apart and clean. Bacteria and mold grow in sugar water, which also ferments, so change it often (daily in very hot weather).

Bottle hummingbird feeders can be glass or plastic, often with red plastic flowers and bee guards on the feeding ports. Choose one with red bee guards, because yellow ones can actually attract bees. Saucer hummingbird feeders are usually plastic and have feeding ports in the top, making them fairly bee-and wasp-proof. If the feeders have large enough perches, Orioles, Downy Woodpeckers, Cape May Warblers, and other bird species may visit them. Hummingbirds tend to be territorial when it comes to feeding sites, so you may see a little action at the hummingbird water hole, so to speak.

All in all, planning ahead to attract wildlife such as birds, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard will provide months of entertainment as you watch your garden come to life.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From circular saws and post hole diggers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Create a Custom Picture Frame in 6 Simple Steps

How to Make A Custom Picture Frame

Have you ever come across an incredibly unique poster, painting or photograph that doesn’t fit into a standard frame size? If you live in Indianapolis you’ve probably seen the Neighborhoods of Indianapolis poster, which unfortunately falls into this category. Because of this, I had to find a new solution for framing mine, and since a custom frame from a craft store costs a small fortune, I decided to utilize my dad’s expert DIY ability instead.

First things first, gather the tools…

Thankfully my dad has a mecca of power tools in his shed, so he was able to come up with everything we needed. However, for those of you without an extensive tool collection, Runyon has a huge array of tools for rent and purchase. Stop in or check out our website for the full catalog of products. Here are all the tools you need (assuming you already have trim for the frame and plywood for the back frame piece):

Things to keep in mind, according to good ol’ dad…

The goal is to find a way to join the corners of the trim that will ultimately form the frame. If you want to get fancy with it you can use a router bit to form tongue and groove joints, but this is only optional. You could also consider a layered frame look, i.e. stacking trim to create a shadow box style. The key to this whole process though, is to make sure your parallel sides are exactly the same size in length and that the corners are cut to perfect 45-degree angles. Accuracy is crucial for this to work properly.

And now the steps…

  1. The first thing you have to do is measure and cut your frame sides into parallel pieces i.e. make sure parallel sides are equal in length. Also, make sure you leave enough length for the 45-degree angles in the next step.
  2. After cutting the trim pieces to the correct length, it’s time to measure and cut 45-degree angle corners. The miter saw is integral for this step because it will ensure accurate cuts. Test and fit your pieces as you go to make sure they line up with no gaps.
  3. Once all your frame pieces are the proper length and have well-fitting corners, glue and clamp the corners together for at least an hour.
  4. Then for additional stability, toe-nail the corners together with a brad gun (nailer). At this point your frame should be complete with the exception of the back piece and hanging hardware.
  5. Attach the back piece of plywood with a nail gun after ensuring it’s the correct dimensions (i.e. enough to cover the frame opening, but not too big that it overlaps outside the far frame edge).
  6. And the very last step, install hardware for hanging the frame. You can pick up brackets, a wire set, etc. from a hardware store. Just be sure whatever you buy is rated for at least the weight of your frame – for instance, mine weighs about 50 lbs.

And voila, you’re ready to hang and admire your picture for years to come! If you have any additional questions about this process or the tools used, please don’t hesitate to comment below or contact us. Happy DIY-ing!

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Outdoor Refreshers: Install Decorative Outdoor Lighting

How to Install Decorative Outdoor LightingFirst and foremost, outdoor lighting adds safety to your property. A well-designed exterior lighting plan increases visibility around your home, along paths, sidewalks and stairs and in your yard, eliminating darkness and shadows. Investing in outdoor lighting certainly pays for itself in the long run and enables you to extend your outdoor activities well into the night. So, are you looking for an intermediate-level do-it-yourself project that will also enhance your exterior lighting plan in the process? Reward yourself – and your landscape – with decorative outdoor lighting.

Sunshine at Night

Solar and low-voltage lighting for outdoor use is economical, safe and easy-to-install and operate. Usually sold as lighting systems, both are shock-less, safe for children and pets. While low-voltage lighting includes a power pack, cable and lamps or fixtures that can be adjusted to your liking, everything you need for solar lighting is contained in the fixtures themselves. Low-voltage lighting is brighter than solar lighting. Also, avoid using any solar or low-voltage products labeled “interior only.”

Choose solar lighting in areas:

  • that get lots of direct sun
  • that are large or remote, such as the corners of your property
  • that are located far away from a power source
  • that are near water, such as a pond, swimming pool or hot tub
  • that are rough terrain, such as rock gardens
  • that require very low light

Choose low-voltage lighting in areas:

  • that are near the house
  • that are on smooth terrain
  • that are shady
  • that need to be illuminated, such as landscaping features, decks, patios, architectural surfaces or features, statues, walls, fountains, pathways, walkways, steps, destination areas in the garden or house signs
  • that are in need of a border

How to Plan Exterior Lighting

Survey your property to determine areas in need of illumination. Bring along a measuring tape and take measurements, especially to exterior power outlets.

Look for dark spots and corners that might need lighting for safety reasons. Note hazardous steps or curbs that could use light. Make a sketch detailing landscape features and their location, such as the house, pathways, driveway, water features, gardens, trees, shrubs, garden art. Be sure to include each location of any outdoor electricity source.

Decide which areas would benefit from solar light installation, keeping in mind these areas need no wiring. Choose the types of low-voltage lights you want in each area – downlights, backlights, uplights, and softlights (see below). Be sure to check your plan against local codes. You might need a permit before you begin work.

Lighting Effects and Techniques

Getting creative with your exterior lighting plan is as simple as choosing different light effects that pack a powerful visual punch.

Downlighting directs light toward the ground and is used to create safe pathways and stairs.

Backlighting directs light onto a wall or fence behind the desired subject to be highlighted and is used to feature trees, artwork or architectural enhancements of your house.

Uplighting directs light up, illuminating the underside of a surface, and is used to feature address signs, statue, foliage or fountain.

Soft lighting directs light in all directions for an atmospheric effect and is used to create mood, romance and ambiance.

Shop for Light

Low voltage halogen lights range from about 4-50 watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the level of brightness. Choose light fixtures first, then add up the wattage. You’ll need a power pack that supplies enough wattage for all lamps. It takes 110 volts. Divide a large lighting system into smaller ones if necessary, using a power pack or transformer for each. In addition, you’ll need cable and cable connectors to support the wattage. As mentioned earlier, solar lighting is all-inclusive.

DIY-ing It All Together

  1. To install your lighting system, keep safety in mind at all times.
  2. Place the power pack within 1 foot of the outdoor electricity source – 110 volt standard US household current with a GFCI receptacle. Use a waterproof cover to protect the receptacle and plug-in. Do not install the power pack indoors.
  3. Attach the low voltage cable(s) and turn on the power pack. Always read power pack instructions.
  4. Lay the cable to your lighting fixtures according to your plan. Keep it above ground rather than burying it. You can use cable connectors to join two or more cables, or to change run direction. For runs of over 150 feet or if you’re using 10 or more lamps, use heavier cable.
  5. Attach the individual light fixtures to the cable with the power on.
  6. Make sure the fixtures produce light when connected. Follow the instructions provided with the light fixtures.
  7. Set the timer on the power pack to the ON/OFF times you desire.
  8. Do not use extension cords.

Wait Until Dark

Do the lights come on? How do they look? Make adjustments by resetting the timer or moving lights around. After you’re satisfied with your decorative outdoor lighting design, bury the cable with dirt, mulch, sod or rocks. You can also hide it behind foliage.

Illumination Transformation

Now that you’ve installed your decorative outdoor lighting, you home and outdoor living spaces, landscape and gardens will feel inviting and magical. Summer nights are made for this! Come holiday time, consider switching out light bulbs for color and charm.

By the way, you’ve also provided safety and security for your home. How practical of you!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. From ladders and other equipment to event lighting and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Outdoor Refreshers – How to Install a Sprinkler System

How to Install a Permanent Sprinkler System

Dragging garden hoses around the yard and setting up sprinklers is one summertime chore no needs to sweat over. Keep the lawn, flowers, trees and shrubs looking their best by installing a dedicated sprinkler system in your yard.

Do Your Homework

If you’re an intermediate do-it-yourselfer, installing a sprinkler system yourself will take several days, yet the extra planning and set-up on the front end of the project will be worth it as the growing season progresses. Before heading to the hardware store, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a building permit to install a permanent sprinkler system?
  • Do I know where the underground utility lines are located in my yard? If not, what’s the number for your utility company?
  • Are any local watering restrictions or ordinances in effect?
  • Do your state/ local regulations require a licensed professional to help with part of the installation? Some require professional electricians and plumbers to handle the technical stuff.

Once your homework is done, focus on the details of your sprinkler project. First, set an overall budget that includes the use of professional service people to connect the timer box or tap into the main water line of the house. Also, if you are adding a system to an existing lawn, then factor in what it will cost to fix the damage that trenching may leave across the grass, such as additional sod, grass seed, fertilizer, etc.

Use a Sprinkler Template

Many sprinkler manufacturers can create a customized design for your landscape. They offer templates for you to map all of the features in your yard like shrubs and flower beds, areas of sun and shade, and hardscapes like retaining walls. From this, they will help you design a sprinkler plan with the correct number of zones and suggest the materials needed to install your system. This service may cost a nominal fee but it is worth it to have the details worked out so you don’t have to.

Turn on the Waterworks in 13 Steps (It’s Lucky, We Tell You!)

  1. Mark the location of all the trenches and sprinklers with stakes or plastic flags.
  2. With a gas powered trenching machine, dig trenches 4-12 inches deep according to your plan. The manufacturer will have taken into consideration the area you live and how deep the water lines need to be to keep them from freezing.
  3. Turn off water to house at meter.
  4. Cut into the main water line. This may be where you want to hire a professional plumber to make sure that the work is done properly and your water pressure is maintained. They can also install a backflow prevention device.
  5. Dig a trench from the main water line to the valve box location. At the end dig a hold about 18 inches deep and 2-3 feet long. Line hole with 2 inches of gravel and set the valve box into it. The box lid should be flush with the grass.
  6. Next glue together the manifold and attach the zone valves. Set manifold in box.
  7. Dig a shallow trench from valve box to the location you want for the timer. Lay the 24 volt underground wire in the trench and connect it to the wires leading from each valve.
  8. Place pipes in trenches leading from the valve box. Whenever a pipe branches off you will need to splice a tee fitting to the main pipe and attach a short length of flexible pipe.
  9. Using 90 degree PVC elbow joints join pipes in trenches to the valve box. Turn on the water and flush the pipes to eliminate dirt in line and avoid clogs. Turn water back off.
  10. Install pop up sprinkler heads to each of the flexible pipes.
  11. After mounting the timer box where you want it, attach the 24 volt wires from the zone valves to the timer. You may want to hire an electrician to run power to the timer box.
  12. Set timer and run tests on the system to see where sprinkler heads need to be adjusted. Check lines to make sure there are no leaks that can cost you money down the road.
  13. Fill in trenches with soil and repair the lawn with sod or seed.

Take Time for the Timer

You may want to save money doing the job yourself, but that’s no reason to skimp on the quality of the parts you use. Sprinkler heads take a beating from day to day use and getting mowed over. Putting money into quality sprinkler heads will cut down on you having to go back and forth to the hardware store. Also, research the features you want on your timer. You may want one that allows you to test the system without having to disrupt your programmed schedule. You may also want features like rain sensors or frost sensors so the system doesn’t run during those times.

Homework, folks, will help you avoid any headaches and get you the sprinklers you want. Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor and forget all about those stupid garden hoses – except, of course, if you like watering your prize roses by hand. Then by all means, find a great water hose at Runyon!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to a trencher, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #4 – How to Construct a Poolside Bar

How to Build a Poolside BarIf you are looking out at your lonely pool, still garnishing the cover, devoid of any lawn furniture, it just makes you sad. Cheer up, though – temperatures are rising and the pool will soon be back in use. Sure, you have some spring cleaning to do but why not indulge your dreams of adding a poolside bar? Just think – no more wet feet running through your house in search of food and drinks!

In your mind, is your poolside bar a stand-alone structure away from the water? Or do you want a bar with in-pool seating? Let its location, the style of your home and your budget dictate your choice for making it a reality.

Tiki Bar Technique

A stand-alone bar can be one that you build from scratch or assemble from a kit. You can even retro-fit a former garden shed by opening up one wall and building the bar there. There are so many options! Keep a few things in mind if you go with a stand-alone.

  • You need to make sure the structure has a firm foundation or is anchored to the ground to avoid being toppled by strong winds.
  • Extend the roof out over the bar and chairs to provide cover from the elements for your guests. You can line it with bamboo or palm leaves to give it a tropical feel.
  • Consider adding a raised deck floor in front for bar stools. It will help anchor the structure and will allow guests to get their feet off of the hot pool deck.
  • Add some hanging lanterns around the roof for a pop of color during the day and a romantic glow at night.

I’m Never Leaving This Pool-Side Bar

A swim-up bar can look a little intimidating but don’t let that hold you back. Keep in mind the bar needs to be accessible from the pool and dry land, so it will need to be an open structure on two sides. Again, you can choose to build it yourself or purchase a kit. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose a section of the pool that is 30 inches deep to allow you to add the in-pool features.
  • Add a raised shelf poolside and cover with tiles.
  • Since you need to clean the pool anyway, drain the pool in order to install the bar stools. These are usually made of concrete pillars and the seats can be covered with tile that matches the new shelf.
  • Give enough space between stools to allow guest to come up on their floats.
  • Install a canopy of sailcloth or thatch out over the poolside shelf to allow swimmers to get out of the sun. You can use the same covering over the dry side of the bar as well.
  • String lights beneath the canopy to give the bar an inviting feel at night.

A poolside bar is a great way to create a gathering place for friends and family. Be sure to decorate your new structure in whatever theme strikes your fancy. Make it a Tiki bar with palm leaves and bamboo or give it a nautical flare with anchors and fishing nets –whatever looks great against the backdrop of your home. Your bar can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. What matters the most is the hours of fun you will have outside with your loved ones. So light those Tiki torches and mix up some fruity drinks, your new bar is ready to open for the summer.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. If you’d like some advice about how to build your own fire pit, check out our blog post, How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps. Or better yet, you can purchase a completely all-inclusive glass fire pit from us! From concrete mixers to tile cutters and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #3 – How to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio

Now that spring is here it’s time to get outside. Time to put those DIY plans you’ve had rattling around in your head all winter into action. Let’s build that patio you’ve been dreaming of.

First things first, make a few key decisions before starting to haul in the pavers.

  • How will you use the patio? – For entertaining? To relax? How you plan to use it will determine the size and materials you will need.
  • Where will you build the patio? – Look for an area that has good drainage, isn’t too close to trees, and is away from any buried utility lines. Call the power company before you start to dig and they can mark the location of the lines.
  • How much do you have to spend on the project? – Figure out how much you have to spend and let that help you determine the size of the patio and the materials to be used.
  • Do you need help? – Don’t forget that much of the materials needed are heavy and will have to be delivered. You may not be able to deposit the sand, gravel or stones close to your project site which means you may need to use a wheel barrow or front end loader to move the materials around.

Once you have determined your design plan, location and budget, then you will need to choose the materials you want to use. Here are a few options:

  • Concrete – This is probably the cheapest way to add a hard surface to your landscape but it can be problematic. If you choose to dye it with a coloring agent then you will need to be prepared to reapply the coating every couple of years in order to keep the color.
  • Natural Stone – Flagstone, slate, bluestone and limestone cost more. The thicknesses vary so you have to carefully install each stone in order to keep the patio level.
  • Brick – Offers Old World charm but needs maintenance. It is very porous and cold weather can cause it to crack leaving space for weeds or moss to grow through.
  • Pavers – Home improvement stores carry a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are all uniform in thickness so they are easier to install than natural stone and they are fairly inexpensive.

Get Down to Building

Your materials have been delivered and you are ready to begin. All patios need to be built on a level surface no matter what materials you use. Cracks, uneven surfaces and water pooling can all be traced back to not having a proper, level foundation. Let’s get started.

  • Mark the site – Whether you use the old string and stake method or the new aerosol paint technique, outline the area where you plan to build.
  • Dig, man, dig – Excavate down at least 8 inches for the sub-base of your patio. Whether you are going to pour concrete or lay pavers, the process is the same.
  • No sub-standard sub-base for you! – Clear the area of all roots, rocks and debris. Stamp down the dirt with a hand or power-driven stamper. Check to see if the ground is level. If it is, add a layer of gravel and pack it down. Once again, check to see if it is level.
  • Power to the pavers – Time to add the paving stones. Once you have laid them out in the design you want, stamp them down, and check to see if they are level. Adjust where needed.
  • Sand in your pavers? – Spread sand into the joints between the stones. Don’t scrimp on the sand. Work it in between the pavers to help lock them in place.
  • Wash down – Spray the remaining loose sand into the joints and now you are ready to clean up the patio and decorate.

Now, you are the proud owner of an outdoor room. “What will I do next?” you may be saying to yourself as you roll that shiny new grill across the new patio surface. Anything! The world is your oyster. Go forth and build more.

Expert Advice

Need more inspiration? Read our recent blog, Stir Up a Little DIY Inspiration with these 3 Project Ideas. Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects.

From power driven stampers to front end loaders and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Repair and Replace Window and Door Screens

How to Fix a Window or Door ScreenSpring fever is on the rise – Get ready to enjoy it!

Very soon now, the warmer, milder weather of spring will motivate us to open windows and doors and feel the fresh air. This goes for flies and insects, too – it doesn’t take much of a hole in a screen for them to fly right into your home. Now’s the time to make sure all of your screens are in good condition. What might you find?

  • Holes and punctures in the screen
  • Screens torn away from frames
  • Window, door or screen parts that are rusted, corroded or damaged
  • Screen windows and doors in perfect condition (do a little jig!)

Depending on the condition of your screen windows and doors, you may decide to buy new ones, which can be an expensive proposition especially if your screens are custom-made.

However, do-it-yourselfers are likely to decide on repairing or replacing screens themselves.

How to Repair a Screen

Repair small holes or tears in screens using a patch. Patches will look obvious, yet still do the job of keeping insects out of the house. You will need screen material that matches the original, scissors, a block of wood and a tape measure or ruler.

  1. Trim the hole of excess or damage.
  2. Cut a piece of screen two inches larger than the hole on all sides.
  3. Secure the patch to the outside of the original screen by lacing a piece of wire through completely. Twist the end of the wire around one section of the original screen to finish.
  4. Or, use about ½-inch of the wires on the edges of the patch on all four sides to secure it to the original screen. Bend the ends over a wood block or the ruler edge of a ruler to form prongs.
  5. Place the patch over the hole and push the prongs through the screen.
  6. Bend the prongs toward the center of the hole to secure the patch.

How to Replace a Screen

A less obvious repair job is to replace the entire screen. You will need screen wire fabric, screen staples or tacks, bedding strips or splines for metal frames, scissors, screwdriver and hammer. Metal or nylon screen fabric comes in rolls or large pieces, which is attached differently on wood or metal frames.

  1. Work with each frame on a smooth, flat surface.
  2. Remove the damaged screen from the door or window:
    1. Wood: To free the wire fabric, use a screwdriver to pry up moldings, then remove old staples, tacks and brads.
    2. Metal: Lift and pull the cut end of the bedding strip up and out.
  3. Measure and cut the replacement screen fabric on the grain.
    1. Wood: Cut the fabric 6 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the opening.
    2. Metal: Cut the fabric 3 inches larger than the opening on all sides.
  4. Position screen fabric on the frame. Make sure the grain of the screen fabric lines up parallel to the sides of the frame.
    1. Wood: The screen fabric should extend about 1 inch from the top opening and 1-½ inches from each side.
    2. Metal: The screen fabric should extend about 2 inches from the top opening and 2 inches from each side.
  5. Attach screen fabric to frame.
    1. Wood: Insert screen staples or tacks across the top of the frame every 2 inches. Stretch the screen fabric from top to bottom of the frame, and attach the fabric in same manner as for the top. Tack or staple the sides every 2 inches. Attach the fabric to the center rail last.
    2. Metal: With a screwdriver, seat the bedding strip and edge of the screen fabric into the metal channel. Push the bedding strip into the channel on top of the screen. Pull the screen fabric taut across the frame and secure the other side, then secure the top and bottom by pushing the wire fabric and bedding strip into the channel.
  6. Trim excess wire fabric with a sharp knife or scissors and remove.
  7. Attach molding or quarter rounds. Touch up wood frames with paint, if necessary. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home repair projects. From power tools such as drills and hammers, saws, nailers and staplers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Make A Custom Cobbled Vanity in 6 Simple Steps

How-To Make A DIY VanitySometimes the best DIY projects are imagined by looking at items you already own and simply morphing them into a whole new creation. That was precisely the case with this elegant wood vanity. A mirror and wall shelf came together to form this wall-mounted, full-length make-up station. And the beauty of this particular project…it was relatively simple  to execute. Follow the directions below for the step-by-step process.

What You’ll Need:

  • mirror & shelf
  • table saw & dado blade
  • screws (several small & 4 large heavy-duty)
  • 2 strips of hardwood (1″ x 4″)
  • laser level
  • drill

What To Do:

  1. First things first, the mirror had a carved design on the top edge originally, so a dado blade and table saw removed it for a nice clean line.
  2. The shelf was left as-is, but again the dado blade was used to insert the shelf into the mirror. Keep in mind that there needs to be a slight lip of the mirror over the shelf, so that it can fit on the anchored braces. Do this by creating a 45-deg slot.
  3. From there the two were lined up and screwed together.
  4. After the vanity itself was assembled, cleats were made as anchors (to hang in studs). [Note: this was a relatively heavy piece, so stud anchors were crucial.] This is where the hardwood comes in (make sure it’s strong). First, run the hardwood through a table saw to split it half. Then cut one edge of each piece at a 45-deg angle so you have two cleats. After the cleats are cut, drill two holes in each so you’re all set to screw them into the wall. Make sure these are even vertically, as well as the two cleats’ holes to each other.
  5. Once your cleats are made, find your studs, measure where you want the cleats to go (longitudinally) then latitudinally to each other. The laser level assists with this. Once you ensure it’s even, drill the holes.
  6. Finally, you can hook your vanity into place on the stud anchors, and voila, all finished!

This of course is not the only tried-and-true method for creating a custom vanity. There are so many other ways to go about this! We’d love to hear about your cobbled creations, so comment in the section below. And as always, if you need the right tools for the job, or if you have questions, please visit our website or contact us.

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12 of Our Favorite Woodworking Tips and Tricks

12 woodworking tips & tricksWhen it comes to woodworking, there’s no greater relationship than that of a carpenter and his (or her) saw. After all, a woodworker relies most on cutting machines to create works of art out of wood — even if it’s just a window frame. Woodworkers are always ready to try new ways of working faster and smarter in the shop. Great advice, tips and tricks on sawing are readily available, too. Below are 12 important ones to keep in mind during your next wood project.

  1. To crosscut safely, clamp a one-inch block of wood to the fence of your table saw before the blade, then make the cut length by setting the fence scale one-inch greater than the desired length. This way, the end of the board is free of the fence during and after the cut — and you can avoid getting a board kicked back directly at you.
  1. Stair gauges are an inexpensive way to make your own crosscut guide for circular saws. Usually used to lay out stair jacks, stair gauges are available at hardware stores or home centers and can be clamped on the same tongue of a carpenter’s square and used as notch markers. Make sure to clamp the square in place so it won’t slide around while you’re cutting.
  1. Use a drafting square for measuring accurate 2- to 3-foot squares. Drywall squares can be inaccurate and carpenter squares can be especially cumbersome because they have to be hooked onto the edge of the work piece. Drafting squares are accurate, as well as, inexpensive and can be as useful as a tape measure in the shop.
  1. If you’re always trying to find a level workspace, put your saw on a mobile base so it’s easy to move around the shop. Then find a convenient place for sawing where the floor is level and free of obstruction. Mark wheel positions on the floor with duct tape in a bright color. Now you can roll the saw to the same flat spot every time you saw. 
  1. To avoid staining wood with oozing glue along joints, clamp the pieces together using tape instead of glue. Lay the tape down on the joint, then cut the tape along the joint with a sharp blade. Separate the tape pieces, apply the glue and clamp them together again, so the glue oozes onto the tape, not the wood. Peel off the tape before the glue dries.
  1. When you have to cut, shape, file, sand or finish something small, reach for your hot glue gun and glue the piece to a pedestal stick instead of fumbling with a clamp. When you’re finished, gently pop the piece loose with a putty knife. If this doesn’t work, try sticking the work piece into the freezer for an hour or so, freezing the glue, which will usually give way with little force. A third option is to try a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the piece slowly and soften the glue for removal without scorching the wood or damaging the finish.
  1. Install saw blades so the teeth face forward, because hacksaws are designed to cut with a forward stroke. When you do a lot of cutting, the blade will heat up and expand, so check and make sure the blade is tight in the saw, tightening when needed so it won’t bend.
  1. To use your shop space economically, raise the base for your saw about 3-1/8 inches higher than the bench top, so you can slip a short length of a 4×4 under each end of your work piece for support. This way, you won’t have to devote space to a long support table and you won’t have to clear the entire bench to make a cut.
  1. Whenever you raise and lower your saw blade, save wear and tear on your saw table by taping a wooden stop-block to the column of your radial-arm saw about 1/8-inch below the surface of the table. The block prevents the blade from digging deep into the table.
  1. Build a hold-down for your radial-arm saw like those available for table saws and router tables by attaching two screw eyes to the saw’s fence about 8 inches to the right and left of the blade. Make the hold-down out of 3/4 x 3-inch stock at a length that’s equal the width from the fence to the front edge of the saw table. Fasten on a handle. Position a roundhead screw in the end of the hold-down so it sits flush with the thickness of the wood you’re cutting. Make sure the fence is securely anchored so it doesn’t pull up when you push down on the hold-down.
  1. Make your own reusable sanding blocks from scrap 3/4-inch plywood. Cut 2-1/2 x 4-3/4-inch blocks for each sandpaper grit you commonly use, spraying adhesive on both a square of cork tile and each block. Stick a block to the cork and cut the cork flush with a utility knife. Spray the adhesive on a sheet of sandpaper and stick it on each block cork side down, cutting the sandpaper flush with the cork. Label each block. 
  1. Stack your table saw or circular saw blades for storage or transport using plastic coffee can lids as spacers instead of cutting them out of hardboard or plywood. Spacers help prevent the carbide teeth from chipping each other. The lids of three-pound cans work great; simply bore a hole the size of your saw’s arbor in the center and place them between your blades.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next woodworking project. From wood saws to clamps and blades, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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How to Make a DIY Wood Palette Shelf in 5 Easy Steps

How-To Build A Palette ShelfIt’s pretty incredible the amount of things you can make out of a wooden palette, one of which being a wood palette shelf. Since shabby-chic and rustic charm are two popular trends lately, this could be an ideal project for you. Not only is it inexpensive, but it is functional and makes for a unique addition to your home. Simply gather a few materials and follow the five steps below and you’ll have a wood palette shelf all your own!

Gather Your Materials:

5 Simple Steps:

  1. Sand your palette to satisfaction. First, sand your palette down to remove any chalk lines and create a nice smooth finish for a more even stain. This is where you’ll use both sanders, depending on which part of the palette you are sanding down. The micro belt sander gets between slats and in smaller spaces better, and the vibrating sander can smooth out the top surface.
  2. Liberally apply your stain. Once you’re satisfied with the sanding job — accomplishing a shabby-chic appearance — it’s time to apply the stain. This can be as liberal as you want. For a darker stain, apply as much as you want until you’re happy with it.
  3. Let the palette dry a while. Then, leave the palette be for about 15 hours so that all the stain is dry. Preferably outside if possible, otherwise it’ll really stink up a room.
  4. Spray on a few clear coats. After your palette is entirely dry, spray on the clear adhesive spray to seal in the stain and color. Two full coats are recommended.
  5. Hang your new creation. Lastly, get out your drywall screws and drill. Line up where you want your new wall feature and screw it into place (preferably into studs).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next DIY project. From palette shelves to repurposed coffee bars, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Advanced Tutorial: How to Reupholster a Chair in 5 Steps

Reupholstered Chair (before and after)Reupholstering any piece of furniture, let alone a complex wingback chair, is not for the faint of heart. It takes a decent amount of hard work, familiarity with sewing and using power tools, an eye for detail and a precise hand. Although this particular project took several weeks to finish, the result was well worth it all. Now, there is a lot involved in reupholstering a sturdy piece of furniture on your own, so below is a loose set of steps. Also, consider the following tips before undertaking such a project, or for you ambitious DIY-ers, keep them in mind throughout the project.

Difficulty: moderate-hard

Necessary Tools and Supplies:

  1. Fabric (this project took about 6 yards)
  2. Sewing machine and thread
  3. Pliers and/or flathead (for prying up staples)
  4. Scissors
  5. Fabric marker
  6. Staple gun
  7. Nailer
  8. Screwdriver

Reupholster Your Chair in 5 Steps:

1. Prep Work: First things first, you have to take off the chair legs (unscrew with a screwdriver). Then you must begin taking staples out of all the fabric. This may seem simple (I certainly thought it would be), but be prepared for a lot of prying — having the right tools really makes a difference here. I used a pair of pliers and a flathead screwdriver for popping out the staples.

Now, be sure as you take each piece of fabric off that you label which part of the chair it came from so you don’t mix them all up. Then once all the upholstery has been removed from your chair, you can start tracing and marking the old fabric pieces onto the new fabric, again being sure to mark which piece goes where.

2. Sew Back Together: Next, you have to sew together your new fabric pieces (based on which of the old pieces were sewn together…be sure you make note of this too). Again, this was a process, and it took really careful detail, being sure to cut and sew very close to the original fabric.

This chair had piping as well, so I also had to sew the piping and then sew each between the two respective pieces they went between. The cushion cover was crucial in this step because I had to make sure it fit correctly. And keep in mind, it is much easier to make a piece smaller than to try and make it bigger.

3. Assemble It All: After the upholstery is sewn and categorized by where it goes, you can begin placing each piece onto the chair form. My suggestion is to begin placing each piece in the same order with which you removed each piece. So, the first piece I took off on the old chair was the bottom side panels, so I put those back on first, then worked my way up. Again, this will be as complicated or as simple as the original chair, ottoman, couch, etc. that you choose. I also chose to add tufts, so this was something I made sure to place before stapling anything down.

4. Secure Down with Staples: After each panel is in place, you can begin stapling them in an organized order. For this chair, the back panel and the bottom panel were the last to go on. Keep in mind, you want the fabric secured well, not too tight, but also not too loose. If worse comes to worse, you can always take staples out and re-do them. However, this would be arduous and counterproductive, so be sure the fabric is placed well before pulling the trigger.

5. Final Touches: The last step is to put your legs back on the bottom and the cushion back in the seat. Then, as long as everything looks clean and crisp, you’re done!

Resources and Help:

This was definitely the down-and-dirty version of reupholstering, not as specific as a post explicitly for reupholstering a wingback chair. That said, if you would like a resource for step-by-step pictures and nitty-gritty details, check out this blog post. It helped me a lot. Really once you start though, it all starts making sense. If you have any questions about how to reupholster, the tools to use, renting tools, specifics on my process, etc. please comment below or email me (heidi@runyoncompanies.com) Happy reupholstering!

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How to Create Unique Ambiance with a Wallpapered Accent Wall

Hang Elegant Wallpaper for a Lasting EffectHanging decorative wallpaper is back in style, and when done right can really give new life to a room…creating truly unique charm. Albeit somewhat difficult for someone who’s never wallpapered before, when only applying to an accent wall the process is totally doable. Not to mention, peel and stick wallpaper is a popular new option — much easier and less permanent.

Essential Tools

  1. wallpaper {duh!}
  2. paste
  3. tape measure
  4. level
  5. ladder
  6. sandpaper
  7. spackle*
  8. putty knife*
  9. bucket*
  10. water tray*
  11. sponges*
  12. rags*
  13. utility knife
  14. smoothing brush
  15. seam roller
  16. screwdriver {to remove outlet and light covers}*

*don’t be deterred by the tool list, these are optional

The Sticky Process

1. prep the area/surface: remove outlet and light covers from the wall, move any furniture that may be in the way, spackle any holes or divots in the wall and sand them down, wash any dust or dirt off the walls and lastly, set up your wallpaper work station (sawhorses or a worktable are ideal).

2. measure and cut: look closely at the wallpaper design and determine how it should be aligned and where you want it to meet the ceiling. Measure the length of the wallpaper and make a small mark to indicate where it should meet the ceiling (try to leave excess on the top and bottom so you can cut it down to the right size at the end). Then measure and cut your strips based on the width of your wall.

3. activate adhesive and apply paste: for pre-pasted wallpaper, loosely roll up the first strip and immerse it in room temperature water and allow it to unroll slowly, then lay it flat on your work surface, paste side facing up. Next, “book” the ends by pulling them towards the middle and allow the paste to activate. If your wallpaper isn’t pre-pasted use a paint brush or paint roller to apply pre-mixed paste, working from the middle to the ends. Try not to crease the wallpaper in either scenario, and keep the ends folded into the middle. [For more specifics on how to prep and activate wallpaper, read this blog post.]

4. hang the first strip: start at the ceiling and unfold the top half of the first wallpaper strip so it is lined up on the side with your measured line (or the corner crease where the wall ends). Remember to leave a few inches excess at the top. Then drop the bottom half down gently. Use a damp sponge to remove any air bubbles and a seam roller to press down the edges of the wallpaper.

5. smooth and hang the other strips: take care to line up the next strip next to the first, matching the pattern and overlapping the edges where necessary. Continue leaving excess for ceiling and baseboard (floor), smooth out air bubbles and press down the edges.

6. trim the edges: finally, after all strips have been laid, use a putty knife to crease the strips at the ceiling and the base of the wallpaper in preparation for cutting the excess. Once you define the top and bottom borders, take a utility knife and carefully cut the excess paper. Use the sponge to remove any air bubbles or extra paste.

7. final touches: as a final touch, press the seams together once more, making sure all the wallpaper lays even and flat. Once your wallpaper is all in place, you can replace any outlet or light covers and put your furniture and pictures back in place. Then voila! You have a beautiful accent wall.

[Note: for peel and stick wallpaper, the process is less involved. However, keep in mind that you should peel the back off slowly, moving your way down the wall (from top to bottom). Don’t try to align an entire sticky piece all in one go. For more details on how to apply peel and stick, watch this video.]

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Don’t go too quickly.
  • Cover all of the wallpaper pieces with paste.
  • Smooth the paper down gently.
  • Calculate precisely how much paper is needed.
  • Heavier paper is easier to apply.
  • Wet the self-adhesive paste {on the wallpaper} before hanging.
  • Don’t take the backing off all at once {peel & stick}.
  • For peel & stick, save the backing for future application.

For the savvy DIY-er, wallpapering the traditional way may be a breeze. However, peel and stick wallpaper or simply covering only an accent wall are options for the novice wallpaper-er. If you have any questions about this process or the tools necessary, please contact one of our experts or comment below. Happy wallpapering!

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