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

Radio Show & Podcast: Send us your question!

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Simplifying Summer Home Maintenance

Simplifying Summer Home Maintenance

Pressure washing a wood fence for summer home maintenance
A quick pressure wash will make your fence look brand new. (RoschetzkkylstockPhoto, Getty Images Pro)

Home maintenance is a year-round event, but some tasks just make more sense to do in the summer.

Our 4 Seasons of Homeownership Summer Checklist, which divides must-do tasks by the time of year, is a great way to stay on top of your home maintenance projects.

With help from our friends at The Home Depot, we’ve compiled this list of timely chores to keep your house clean and comfortable.

Listen to this special-edition Today’s Homeowner Podcast, and follow along below, to learn all about the top summer home maintenance projects!

Accumulair titanium mini pleat air conditioner filter
Changing the air conditioner filter makes your AC work better to keep you cooler. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Change AC & Heating System Filters

Regularly changing your HVAC system’s filters is important because a dirty filter will slow down and strain your system. It should take about two to three minutes to take out your old filter and put in a new one.

Also, once your filter is out, go ahead and vacuum the cavity in case of dust build-up.

Shop vac vacuuming out an AC drain line during the home for home maintenance
Make sure to flush out the AC drain line to prevent damage. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

2. Flush Out AC Drain Line

Your AC drain line can get blocked with mold and mildew, causing its pan to overflow. Flush it with bleach twice during the summer, when it’s working at its hardest. 

Loose bottom rail on a step railing
Check your railings for any weak spots. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

3. Check for Loose Railings or Damage on Wooden Decks 

Changing weather can take a toll on your deck. Nails and screws can loosen during the temperature change and splinters can pop up once the heat rises.

Inspect and repair any damage to your deck so you can have some safe fun in the sun. Top it off with a coat of sealer to keep it protected all summer long.

Leaning fence resting on a tree
Fixing a leaning fence isn’t as complicated as it might appear to be. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

 4. Inspect Fencing & Gates for Damage

Look for rotting and damage and check your posts’ sturdiness. If any boards are warped, replace them with new ones.

Now is also a great time to pressure wash your fence and apply a fresh coat of stain.

Charcoal on fire on a grill
Keep your grill clean for a great-tasting barbecue. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

5. Clean & Inspect Outdoor Grill

Cleaning your grill will not take away any of your food’s flavor, but it will get rid of any nasty germs and fire hazards.

Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, scrub away any drippings using aluminum foil and white vinegar.

Two rocking chairs on a brick paver patio
Regularly cleaning outdoor furniture extends its lifespan. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

6. Clean Outdoor Furniture

Regularly clean your outdoor furniture — especially if it’s wood.

Check for any loose parts or rot (if it’s wood). If you have cushions, be sure to wash them. In addition, if your cushions get wet from rain, be sure to hang them out to dry on a sunny day to avoid mold.

If you do this on a regular basis, it makes it a lot easier to keep everything clean.

A whitewashed brick fireplace
Your fireplace will be ready for winter if you have it inspected this summer. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

7. Have Chimney Inspected & Cleaned

Now’s a great time to have a professional inspect your fireplace and chimney because you aren’t using them during the summer. 

Plus, you’ll have more time for repairs if needed.

Paint peeling from wood siding
Scrape off peeling paint and put on a fresh coat for an exterior refresh. (mehampson, Getty Images)

8. Scrape Loose Paint from Siding & Trim

Boost your home’s curb appeal by freshening up siding. Scrape away any loose paint, sand if needed, then prime and paint on a fresh coat. 

If it’s an older paint, be sure to test it for lead as a precaution.

Row of windows in a sunroom
Clean your windows regularly so they sparkle. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

9. Clean Windows

Mix 1 teaspoon of baby shampoo to 1 gallon of water, or 1-1/2 cups of vinegar to 1 gallon of water, and wipe windows down with newspaper for a streak-free shine.

Involve family members and tag-team to speed things up! Have one person clean the windows inside while another cleans the outside. 

10. Pull Weeds & Add Mulch

Rake over brown mulch next to decorative grass
Mulch keeps moisture inside flower beds and inhibits weed growth. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Finally, summer blooms are burgeoning! Now is the perfect time to pull any weeds from garden beds and prevent further weed growth by adding 2 to 3 inches of mulch

Listen to this special-edition Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more summer home maintenance tips!

Further Reading

Retractable Screens: Blur the Line Between Indoors and Out

Retractable Screens: Blur the Line Between Indoors and Out

Retractable screens let your home breathe in the outdoors — but not the bugs. 

Imagine a screen door that disappears when you don’t need it. One that protects you from bugs without downgrading your home’s appearance. Well, you no longer need to imagine; it exists. 

A retractable screen door blurs the line between indoors and outdoors, seamlessly letting fresh air in and keeping insects out.

A Wizard Screens Retractaview retractable screen door in front of a sliding door.
Retractable screen doors neatly tuck away when you’re not using them.

What is a Retractable Screen Door?

A retractable screen door is essentially a frame with a roll of screen mesh on one side and tracks on the top and bottom. 

The system mounts onto the door frame and differs from traditional hinged screen doors. When you need the screen, you pull it out; when you don’t, it rolls up out of sight.

Retractable screens seamlessly unify outdoor and indoor living spaces, making them ideal for house parties, family gatherings, or just catching a spring breeze in the kitchen without walking onto the patio. 

A man installs a traditional screen door in front of a glass door.
Traditional screen doors take up valuable space and take away curb appeal. (Adobe Stock photo)

The Trouble with Traditional Screen Doors 

Traditional screen doors also let in fresh air, but hinged options require opening and closing whenever you enter or leave your home, even when you’re not using them for their intended purpose. This is inefficient, and unnecessary, especially when hauling in groceries. 

Traditional screen doors are always in the way, even if you only use them a few months out of the year. Plus, a sliding screen door’s metal frame is always exposed to the elements, making it vulnerable to rust, and difficult to open and close.

It’s not just function that presents problems; it’s also the door’s form.

Traditional screen doors often negatively affect an exterior door’s appearance. 

It’s difficult to find one that matches your home’s style, and these doors — which often look like a throwback to another era — can take away from a home’s curb appeal.

Wizard Screens Retractaview retractable screen door handle.
Retractable screen doors easily glide open and shut.

Advantages of a Retractable Screen Door

Retractable screen doors eliminate the problems associated with traditional screen doors.

For instance, RetractaView by Wizard Screens features a sleek, modern design that complements today’s homes. Wizard’s GlideSmooth Technology enables effortless one-handed operation along the low-profile upper and lower tracks. And, when needed, the screen conveniently retracts and stores out of sight in the side housing.

It’s made for single in-swing or out-swing, sliding, and French doors, and comes in a variety of colors, styles, and solar and insect mesh types. So, homeowners don’t have to choose between an unsightly traditional screen or not screening the door at all. 

The system also is safe to use, with a magnetic catch that holds the screen in place when in use and releases should a pet or person run into the screen. 

Wizard Screens Retractaview door tracking on the floor.

How is a Retractable Screen Door installed?

Retractable screen doors mount to the side of the door frame with a track at the top and bottom to guide the rolled screen. However, this is not a do-it-yourself job. 

For optimal results and to ensure the screen’s proper installation, you’ll want professional installation. There are hundreds of Wizard Screens dealers in North America — here’s how to find one near you.

Once installed, operation is easy. Just pull the screen door out to allow fresh air into your home when needed and roll it back out of the way when not in use.

Sliding glass door in a bedroom overlooking a waterfront.
Retractable screen doors are weather-resistant and last for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do retractable screen doors last?

Quality retractable screen doors, with proper use and care, will provide many years of service. Because they retract when not in use, they completely avoid the elements, unlike traditional screen doors.

RetractaView’s rugged construction is weather, wear and UV-resistant, and the screen can absorb impact from people and pets without tearing or sagging.

In addition, all retractable screen systems from Wizard Screens come with a limited lifetime warranty, providing peace of mind. The housing is guaranteed to not warp, crack or fade and authorized dealers are available nationwide for service calls. 

Are retractable screen doors worth it?

Retractable screen doors’ out-of-sight, out-of-mind style don’t block the beauty of your exterior doors, whether they’re French doors or custom-stained mahogany. Plus, they are attractive to home buyers, should you decide to sell. These features make them attractive to an increasing number of homeowners.

Further Reading

Painting Old Metal Window Frames | Ep. 157

Painting Old Metal Window Frames | Ep. 157

rusted metal window
Painting rusted metal windows takes time and patience. If you do it right, it will last a long time.

Painting old metal window frames that are rusted and stuck with decades-old glaze is not for the faint of heart, but can be done.

Mary from Magnolia Springs, Ala., lives in her grandparents’ 1941 home and needs advice on painting the metal cranking windows in the home. 

Taped metal windows
Before painting metal windows, you need to remove the aging caulk. (Photo courtesy of Mary)

Remove Old Glaze

First, you need to start by removing as much of that old glaze on the metal window frames as you can. The good thing about working on metal rather than wood is you can be relatively aggressive when removing the glaze. Use a Dremel tool with an abrasive end to get the old glaze off.

To remove the glaze in the inner corners closest to the window glass, use a small disc grinder. Be sure to wear a full face mask and a respirator. Because of the age of the windows, you never know if there is a risk of you being exposed to lead in the original glaze.

You can also steam the metal window frames with a wallpaper steamer or regular steamer to soften up the glaze. This will take several minutes, but you should be able to remove a good bit with a putty knife afterward. Intact glazing that is not badly cracked can be left behind.

Putty knife
A fresh coat of glaze on metal windows will give you an even surface for painting.

Apply Fresh Glaze

Next, you need to prep your metal window frames for painting. Find some window glaze that comes in a tube with a square nozzle. This will make it easier and cleaner to apply to the metal closest to the windows than dipping the glass from a can and using a brush. DAP makes latex window glazing with this kind of nozzle that is paintable and weather-resistant. 

Another trick when applying tubed glaze is to make sure the container is nice and warm. All you need to do is store it in your home to make sure it’s at least 70 to 80 degrees. This will make squeezing the thick glaze out of the tube easier.

Once you have the innermost lines of your window glazed, spread the rest of the metal frame with DAP 33 Window Glaze with a putty knife to even out the surface for painting.

Attention to detail is a must, so this step in painting the metal window frames will take some time.

Paintbrush painting window
Oil-based, rust-resistant primer will keep your metal windows looking fresh.

Prime and Paint

Next, you will need to prime the metal window frames for painting. Use an oil-based, rust-resistant primer. oil-based paint as well because it provides a smooth surface and can be used to cover up any existing flaws

For your top coat, use 100-percent acrylic paint. 

If you’re diligent and follow these steps, the repair project will last a long time.

Skip to [30:53] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Also on this episode:

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Simple Solutions

Sawhorse Saddle — To prevent sawhorses from scratching up finished pieces, such as a painted door or cabinet, try covering the sawhorses with pool noodles. Use a serrated bread knife to cut a pool noodle about an inch longer than the horizontal rail on each sawhorse. Next, cut a slit along the length of the noodles with a utility knife. Then, slip one pool noodle onto the rail of each sawhorse. The soft pool noodle grips on tightly and will protect workpieces from dings, dents and scratches. And when you’re done, simply pop off the pool noodles and you’re back to a pair of standard wooden sawhorses. 

Watch: How to Protect Woodworking Projects on Sawhorses 

Tarp Tie-Down — To prevent plastic tarps from being blown away, try this trick: Fill a few one-liter plastic bottles with sand or water, then tie one bottle to each corner of the tarp, and one or two in between on larger tarps. The weighted bottles will hold the tarp securely place.

Question of the Week

Q: How is a hybrid water heater different from a regular water heater?

A: A hybrid water heater is an electric water heater equipped with a heat pump. The pump captures heat from room air and transfers it to the cold water entering the water heater. This system makes it so the water heater element doesn’t have to work as hard and, therefore, uses less energy.

Other Products and Links Mentioned

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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Further Reading

Choosing the Right Screen Mesh for Your Screen Door Project

Choosing the Right Screen Mesh for Your Screen Door Project

Close up of a screen door

Whether you are remodeling and putting in new screen doors or repairing your current doors, there are so many mesh options on the market today — it can be overwhelming trying to determine the best material for your project.

Where do I start?

The good news is, by asking that question, you’ve already started. Here’s a handy checklist to assist you in your decision-making process

  • How important is maintaining aesthetics and your view of the outside?
  • What safety concerns do you have?
  • What size mesh will you need?
    • Consider your geographical location
    • Common species of insects in your area
  • What type, quality and color of mesh material will you need?

Close up of screen mesh

Aesthetics and View

In settings where screen doors are installed, consider not only keeping insects out but also creating, enhancing and/or preserving the view to the outside. In most cases, especially in peoples’ homes, choosing a mesh that is as invisible as possible is the first priority.

Then there is the ventilation factor. In locations where conventional swinging screen doors are an aesthetic challenge, such as the main entry, Retractable Screen Doors (RSDs) are a serious option for homeowners to consider. The rapid growth in popularity of RSDs is directly related to the increase in energy-efficient homes where natural ventilation is at a premium.

Often, the main entry door is frequently the only source of fresh air on a particular side of a home; so the only way to get good cross ventilation is to open the front door. RSDs are an affordable, practical and high-curb-appeal alternative to swinging screen doors.

Dog in front of screen door

Safety concerns

Screen doors, by design, keep bugs from getting inside, but they can only perform that function if the screen material is 100% intact.

Most of us don’t give any thought to the safety aspect of our screen doors until there’s a specific need to. That said, screen door accidents are an extremely common occurrence. People and pets walk into and through screen doors all the time. If you need proof, just Google “screen door accidents” or “people walking through screen doors” to see for yourself.

There is one screen mesh product that has addressed these safety concerns in a very unique and innovative way. It’s called VISISCREEN®. It has a patented density marker designed and woven into the screen door mesh that remains invisible at safe distances but becomes visible as you approach it, thus preventing common screen door accidents such as walk-throughs.

It’s manufactured by Seattle-based Aedes Technologies, aptly named for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for the spread of the Zika Virus, Malaria, Yellow Fever and other diseases.

Interestingly, Genius Retractable Screens Systems, a leading retractable screen door manufacturer, is introducing a version of its Milano series that comes with the VISISCREEN mesh installed. You can learn more about it at

Ladybug on a screen

Mesh size

Screen mesh size is determined by the number of openings per square inch of mesh. For example, a number 4 mesh will have 4 openings per square inch; a number 16 mesh will have 16 openings per square inch. For screen doors, standard 18 x 16 mesh with a .011 diameter (wire thickness) is typically recommended to keep out common insects.

In areas such as Florida, known for no-see-ums and other tiny insects, 20 x 20 mesh with a .013 diameter is more effective at keeping bugs out, but doesn’t perform as well as standard mesh when it comes to light transmission and ventilation.

Cutting screen mesh for a door

Material considerations

Vinyl-coated fiberglass mesh is the preferred industry standard for screen doors (and windows). It’s easy to install, durable and affordable. Your color options are charcoal and gray.

Another material option is aluminum wire. Apples to apples, aluminum wire is slightly more durable than fiberglass mesh and is available in charcoal, black and silver. Otherwise, there’s nothing substantially different between the two.

In fact, vinyl-coated fiberglass mesh outsells aluminum 3 to 1, as it’s about half the cost. There are additional specialty material options including Bettervue, UltraVue, Super Screen and Pet Screen.

Choosing the right screen mesh for your screen door project can be a challenging journey. Hopefully, this information has helped you navigate that road so you can enjoy many worry-free outdoor seasons in the safety and comfort of your home.

By Richard Grossman – Brand Engagement Maestro, VISISICREEN®

Further Reading