This TikToker Turned a Decorative Halloween Sign Into a Year-Round Statement Piece

This TikToker Turned a Decorative Halloween Sign Into a Year-Round Statement Piece

Arielle Tschinkel is a freelance pop culture and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared on,,, Insider, HelloGiggles, and more. She loves all things Disney and is making her way to every park around the world, and is a die-hard Britney Spears fan for life. She’s also obsessed with her Bernedoodle, Bruce Wayne.

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | August 6, 2022

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | August 6, 2022

This week, learn how to clean old wallpaper and protect a wood-framed shower window from water damage. (Sandy Knollenburg/simplyzel, Getty Images)

Hour 1

In Hour 1, hear our suggestions for matching wood posts to vinyl, cleaning old wallpaper, and more.  

Matching Wood Posts to Vinyl

Split screen of an elevated porch
Matching these wooden support posts to the vinyl posts is as easy as applying a coat of paint. (Photos by Doug May)

Doug May has a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on his covered back porch. But, the view of his porch isn’t as pleasing.

“The upper part has vinyl sleeves over the top of the posts. Everything’s covered and it’s nice and smooth and white. But down below, it’s just pressure-treated wood, with all the cracks and gaps,” Doug says. 

He wants the wooden support posts on the ground to match the white vinyl posts on the porch above. What’s stopping him from covering the wood posts with vinyl is the diagonal wood braces. He’s worried about the hassle of connecting the many vinyl pieces on the diagonals and sealing them.

“What I want is the smooth look and feel of the vinyl on the posts below. Is there a way to do that?” Doug asks.  

Vinyl sleeves are expensive! If you want the posts to match, try this budget-friendly option: 

First, clean the wood posts and apply a coat of primer.

Then, use auto body filler (like Bondo) to skim out the cracks. Once that dries, lightly sand the posts. 

Then, caulk the areas where the diagonal braces meet the vertical posts. 

Finally, apply two coats of acrylic latex paint.

Once you do this, no one will know one set of posts is vinyl and the other set isn’t! The acrylic paint will give it a glossy look and seal the joints. 

If you decide you want to cover the posts with vinyl, remove one post at a time, including the diagonal supports, and attach the vinyl sleeves to each piece. 

Miter cut the ends of the sleeves to fit the diagonal brace posts, and thoroughly caulk each seam so water doesn’t get in.

Don’t caulk the bottom of the diagonal brace pieces where the wood meets the post. If water were to get inside the vinyl, you want it to be able to drain out and dry. 

Old wallpaper
Original wallpaper keeps an old home’s character true to its age. (Photo by Sandy Knollenburg)

How to Clean Old Wallpaper

Sandi Knollenburg bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Bloomington, Ill., five years ago, and she’s been renovating it little by little.

Right now, she’s working on the stairwell area. The walls that extend from the first floor to the second are covered in wallpaper from the 1960s. She loves the pattern, and the wallpaper is still in pretty good shape! All it needs is a good cleaning.  

She asks, “What’s the best way to clean and preserve the wallpaper?”

Most modern wallpapers have an acrylic or latex coating that makes them washable and, in some cases, scrubbable. Older wallpaper is just plain paper, so you don’t want to get it wet. If you do, it will peel off the wall.

Try these options to remove the dirt and dust: 

  • Wipe the wallpaper with a large, dry sponge.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner.
  • Attach a microfiber cloth to a Swiffer-type mop for hard-to-reach spots.

To remove skids and scuffs, use a gum eraser. You can buy these at an art supply store. Another option is a dry Magic Eraser. If that doesn’t work, lightly dampen it.

Hour 2

In Hour 2, learn how to prevent wood rot in a shower window, remove sediment from water, and more.

Worried about water damaging a wood-framed shower window? Protect it with tile. (simplyzel, Getty Images)

Protecting a Wood Window Frame in a Shower

A caller needs advice on tiling around a window in his shower. The wood frame sticks out slightly, so he can’t tile over it. 

“What do you do to treat that to make it so that the water is not damaging that wood and causing wood rot, and more importantly that water is not getting behind that and causing damage to the shower?” he asks.

A lot of older houses have this problem. Typically, at one point in time, the bathroom had just a tub with a window above it. Then somewhere along the way, a shower was installed. 

I’ve seen a lot of homeowners put a shower curtain over the window but rarely does that last long.

To protect the wood frame from water damage, encapsulate the window frame with the tile. 

Before you lay the tile, be sure to caulk and paint the frame. Bring the tile up to the wood and then overlap extra tile over the window frame. This will protect the frame from the water and give it a nice, pronounced look. 

If water can still hit it directly, install a waterproof window.

To completely eliminate any chance of rood rot, remove the window and replace it with a vinyl one.  

Sick of sediment in your water? It’s time for a new water filter. (pixelshot)

Sediment in Water

Pablo Sandoval in Willow Creek, Calif., is sick of sediment in his water. His home draws water from a deep well and all wastewater flows into a septic tank. 

“For most of the year, the water supply is good, but every summer we have a problem with sediment that clogs aerators at sinks and showerheads. Plus, the washing machine takes forever to fill with water. What can we do to alleviate these issues?” he asks.

Sediment problems are more frequent in the summer because water levels are usually lower. There’s less water but the same amount of sediment in the system, so it finds its way to the pump and into your house. 

You’ll need to have a well water contractor take a look at your pump. You might need a new screening. 

Also, here are two options to consider:

  • Have a water well contractor install a sand separator on your pump. This device uses centrifugal force to push dirt, sand and debris outward to the separator wall and downward in a spiral motion. The cleaned water then rises and returns back to your plumbing system. 
  • Install a sediment filter in your house. There are several different options available, but we recommend the Braukmann Reverse rinsing fine filter.

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Simple Solutions

This Simple Solution keeps you from constantly refilling your kitchen soap dispenser. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Improved Soap Dispenser — Kitchen-sink soap dispensers hold such a small amount of liquid soap that it requires you to constantly refill the reservoir bottle. Here’s a better option:

  • Lift off the hand pump from the dispenser, pull off the plastic fill tube, and replace it with a long flexible quarter-inch-diameter tubing.
  • Feed the opposite end of the tubing down through the hole in the sink deck and place it in a large jug of liquid soap.

Now you’ll never have to refill the dispenser; simply replace the soap jug once it’s empty. 

Watch: Soap Dispenser Filling Tip

Gutter on the corner of a house with vinyl siding
If you’re installing gutters on vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse for smooth holes. (Garrett Aitken, Getty Images)

Smooth Cut in Vinyl Siding — When using a hole saw to drill through vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse. That way, the hole saw will create a nice clean hole with no rough edges.

Once you cut through the siding, switch the drill to forward and bore through the wall sheathing.

Other Products & Links Mentioned

Further Reading

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How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

Backyard gardening can improve your mental health with minimal effort on your part.

Join landscape designer and Done-In-A-Weekend Projects host Doug Scott to learn how. 

This post is sponsored by Exmark.

Hands planting a green plant in dirt
Gardening can take your mind off of daily stresses. (happy_finch, Getty Images)

Benefits of Backyard Gardening

The positive impacts of gardening are almost endless, especially when it comes to our mental and physical health. These benefits fall into two main categories: “active” and “passive.”

Active benefits are all about getting to work and doing something in your garden, helping you clear your mind while getting your hands dirty. Gardening, and similar physical activity outside, does your body wonders.

Studies show spending more time outdoors leads to fewer long-term health problems, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. These benefits include improved heart health, flexibility, strength, and dexterity — all leading to better mental health.

Contrarily, backyard gardening’s passive benefits are about simply being in nature or outdoor space. It provides a positive distraction from stresses in your life.

Many studies show just being in nature has a positive impact on our stress levels and brain chemistry, according to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Backyard gardening also helps you “feel alive,” letting you take your mind off work while giving you a new sense of purpose outside of the daily grind. 

Close up of a vegetables in backyard garden
Growing your own vegetables gives you the personal satisfaction of a job well done. (Ivonne Wierink, Adobe Stock Photos)

Backyard Gardening By Your Senses

The goal of backyard gardening is to create a yard and garden that reflect how you want to live outside. Doug recommends designing your mental health garden according to your five senses.

  • Sight: The simple sight of a breathtaking array of plants, an arrangement of your favorite flowers, or interesting objects in your garden is bound to boost your mood.
  • Taste: Growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs will provide you an incredibly rewarding harvest, in more ways than one. Not only are you able to enjoy the produce you have grown for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but you get the personal satisfaction of a job well done.
  • Hearing: Creating habitats for birds and other animals will add the sounds of nature to help you relax in your garden. Also, add wind chimes and water features that’ll produce soothing, stress-relieving sounds.
  • Touch:  From the light, feathery textures of flower petals, to the rough surfaces of tree bark or bush stems, touch goes a long way in giving you a deeper sense of connection to your garden. This all ties back to a combination of active and passive benefits of backyard gardening, helping you establish a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Smell: Certain smells can bring back forgotten, happy memories. Add fragrant flowers and herbs to your garden bed, so you can literally “stop to smell the roses.”

Stone path in a flower garden
Create pathways that lead to mini-spaces for a relaxing retreat. (Elena Photo via Canva)

Tips for Designing Your Mental Health Garden

When designing a garden, create “rooms” connected by meandering paths that let you get away from it all. These rooms provide mini spaces that you can retreat to, so you can rest, unwind, and feel restored.

However, your outdoor spaces don’t always need to be quiet and sedentary. If you enjoy being outside with others, creating gathering spaces in your yard is a great idea. And, if you have an outdoor hobby like exercising, painting, or writing, you can create spaces to do just that.

You shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and start creating a ginormous garden right off the bat. Start small, simple, and stress-free, and grow your garden out from there. Pick easy-to-grow plants that require little maintenance or start a simple vegetable garden in a raised bed.  

So, start backyard gardening today — your mental health will be better off because of it.

Looking for more tips to breathe new life into your outdoor spaces? Check out Exmark’s Done-In-A-Weekend project series, featuring simple, budget-friendly DIY projects.

Further Reading

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | July 30, 2022

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | July 30, 2022

This week, we give tips for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders and installing a new window. (Split photo: sassy1902, Getty Images Signature and photovs, Getty Images Pro)

Hour 1

In Hour 1 of the Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast, we’re offering solutions for fixing patchy grass, advice on installing a new window and more.

Rooting Out the Cause of a Patchy Lawn 

Patch of dead grass on a green lawn
A number of things can cause patches of dead grass. (jcarrollimages, Getty Images Signature)

Tim Kehoe is stumped by what’s causing the brown patches on his lawn. 

In the 30 years that he’s lived in northern Wisconsin, he’s weeded, seeded and fertilized his lawn diligently. But, about five or six years ago, brown spots began to appear throughout his acre of lawn. And a drought last year only exacerbated the problem.

Now, he says, about 40 percent of his lawn is covered in dead spots that are an inch and a half deep. What can he do to get his green grass back?

Brown patchy spots on a lawn can appear for a number of reasons. We suspect a combination of fungal disease and dry weather conditions is the cause of his brown patches.

It’s also worth mentioning that when he’s seeded his yard in the past, Tim didn’t use the same type of grass seed throughout. So, because there are mixed types of grass, some might be more resilient to drought and diseases than others, which might be why not all of the grass is dying.

The only way to know for sure if a fungal disease is causing the brown patches is to send a soil sample to a lawn professional or a local extension office. 

Once you get the results, you can treat the lawn properly and begin replenishing the grass. Your options include reseeding, transplanting sod or planting sod plugs. Go with a creeping type of grass, like Bermuda or St. Augustine, so it will spread to cover the bare spots.   

For an in-depth look at lawn fungal diseases, read “How to Deal With Grass Fungal Diseases on Your Lawn.”

​​Tips for Replacing a Window

Accurate measurements are key for installing a new window. (photovs, Getty Images Pro)

Mildred Smith’s husband plans to replace a window with a new vinyl one that’s the same size. However, he’s not sure how to get the old window out of the opening in the wall. 

“This is his first major DIY project — and I’m hoping he doesn’t mess it up. Do you have any tips to share?” she asks.

The most important thing to do is get the correct measurements for the window. The last thing you want is to have a new window that’s too big or small for the existing hole. 

Also, get some extra wood for framing adjustments. A few 2-by-4 or 1-by-4 boards will come in handy. 

When taking out the old window, carefully remove all the trim so you can reuse it. If you can see where the nails are, use a nail punch to push them through the trim. Doing this helps to keep the trim from splitting. 

Now’s the time to make sure the window is properly sealed and insulated. Once the new window is in place, spray in some window and door expandable foam around the perimeter. Don’t use standard expanding foam because it can expand too much and make the window bow.

If the framing allows it, pack in some extra insulation as well. Anything you can do to insulate around the window will make a big difference in your heating and cooling costs.

Next, apply a window membrane to the frame. This peel-and-stick material provides a waterproof barrier between the window and the trim. 

Hour 2

In Hour 2, learn how to remove rust from a steel roof, keep squirrels away from bird feeders and more.

Removing Rust from a Steel Roof

rusty metal roof
For a badly rusted metal roof, check with the manufacturer for the best treatment option. (Natt Boonyatecha, Getty Images)

A caller tells us some of the panels on his six-year-old steel roof are starting to rust. He asks what can he do to remove the rust and prevent it from coming back. 

The majority of metal roofs are set up to last 50 years, so you shouldn’t have any rust this early on. The rust could be a result of something scratching the paint and exposing the metal. 

Always check with the manufacturer’s recommendation before trying to remove rust yourself. Most roofing manufacturers recommend oxalic acid to remove rust from metal roofs. Here’s how to do it:

  • Mix one part oxalic acid to five parts water. You can also use vinegar, hydrochloric acid, citric acid or muriatic acid.
  • Spray the solution onto the rust spots, and wipe it in with a rag using a circular motion. Don’t leave this solution on for more than five minutes. 
  • Rinse the solution off once the rust stain is gone. 

You can also use a pre-mixed solution like Evapo-Rust Safe Rust Remover.

Once the rust is gone, prime and paint the metal roof according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent it from returning.  

When working on a roof, always follow the proper safety precautions. Only work in good weather conditions, wear non-slip boots to prevent falls and always use a ladder safely.

Keeping Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

A poorly placed bird feeder can become a squirrel buffet. (sassy1902, Getty Images Signature)

Tired of squirrels stealing your bird food? Here are some options to stop squirrels from raiding your bird feeder, so you can get back to bird watching.

If the squirrels are climbing up a pole, mix cayenne pepper and vaseline and coat the pole. The cayenne pepper’s strong, spicy odor will discourage the squirrels. Plus, the slippery vaseline will make it harder for the squirrels to climb the pole.

Another option for pole bird feeders is to install a baffle to prevent rodents from climbing the pole, and place feeders where rodents can’t get to them.

If you have a hanging bird feeder, place a dome over it. The squirrels can still slide down the wire, but the dome will block them from reaching the bird food. 

If all else fails, offer the squirrels a decoy. Put out a second feeder with nuts or corn just for squirrels that’s easy for them to reach. By doing this, you can have the best of both worlds — watching the antics of squirrels while still being able to enjoy the birds at the same time.

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Simple Solutions

Use a pair of bar clamps to hold wood pieces steady. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Bar-Clamp Assembly Tip — When you need an extra hand to hold a workpiece in place, reach for a couple of bar clamps.

Simply tighten one clamp onto the bottom, end of the piece, making sure the bars of the clamps face in opposite direction.

The clamps will hold the piece upright, freeing your hands to continue with the assembly. 

Watch: How to Use Bar Clamps to Steady Woodworking Projects

spade bit and grass and dirt
When planting, use a spade bit to power through tree roots. (photo illustration: MCCheatham, Getty Images Signature, and karimitsu, Getty Images)

Spade-Bit Planting Tool — Here’s a quick, easy way to plant small bulbs and seedlings.

Use an extended-length spade bit, which is 16 in. long, and a cordless drill to bore planting holes into the soil.

And if you hit a root, the spade bit will bore right through it.

Other Products & Links Mentioned

Further Reading