In Hour 1, hear our suggestions for matching wood posts to vinyl, cleaning old wallpaper, and more.
Matching Wood Posts to Vinyl
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.
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.
In Hour 2, learn how to prevent wood rot in a shower window, remove sediment from water, and more.
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.
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.
In Episode 4 of “Ask Danny,” I’m talking with my longtime friend and drywall expert Mark Rutherford — “The Drywall Guru.”
About Mark Rutherford
Mark Rutherford has worked with drywall on new construction and remodeling projects for 40 years.
I first met Mark in 2007 while working on a game room addition for an episode of Today’s Homeowner TV.
He currently lives in southwest Pennsylvania.
Drywall Nail Pops
Why does a nail pop happen, and what’s the best way to correct it?
Mark: Nail pops happen when a nail or screw comes loose under drywall and creates a bulge or “pop” in the wall.
They usually happen with new construction within the first year. That’s because everything is drying out and settling — the house is really “finding itself.” I always say it’s kind of like a living person.
Nail pops are common around stairways because the frequent stepping movement loosens up the nails.
To repair a nail pop, first tap it with a hammer. If it feels spongy, that means the installer missed the stud. Pull it out, and drive a drywall screw into the stud or joist near the hole, with the head of the screw just below the surface.
If you can’t extract the loose nail, tap in another drywall nail right beside it so the head of that nail catches the existing nail. This keeps the nail from popping back out again.
If a screw is causing the pop, use a screwdriver to drive it in deep so it’s flush with the wall’s surface.
Once the nail or screw is below the drywall surface, use the back of a drywall knife to flush the drywall paper with the surface, and then cover it with a coat of drywall mud.
Let the mud dry for 24 hours, then apply another coat. After the second coat dries, sand it and use a shop vac as you work to suck up any dust.
Tip: Keep your nail pop repair area as small as possible — the less mud you use, the less sanding you’ll need to do.
How do you fix drywall puckering?
Mark: Water damage is the most common cause of drywall pucker, but improper installation can also cause it. In some cases, the installer didn’t leave enough mud left behind or didn’t use any in that spot.
For major drywall puckering, remove the tape to patch and repair. Lay down mesh tape and apply a fresh coat of drywall mud.
For slight puckering, use the corner of a drywall knife to lift the loose tape and apply a thin layer of all-purpose mud under the tape. Smooth the tape out and put a light coat of drywall mud over the edge of the tape.
For popcorn ceilings, use the same technique, but be extra careful to not damage the texture.
If it’s a significant crack or older ceiling, the popcorn ceiling texture will come off. In that case, you’ll need to apply a coat of sprayed acoustic texture.
You can buy this material in a can, but it can be tricky to apply. Follow the directions and practice on a piece of cardboard first.
If you can’t match the texture, call a professional.
What are some tips to minimize dust when sanding drywall?
Mark: To minimize the mess while sanding drywall, I basically create an oxygen tent.
Using 2-inch wide masking tape, I encase the area with plastic. I start taping at the ceiling, then bring it down the wall and to the floor. Everything is connected.
Then, I create a door underneath to crawl into. Once I’m finished sanding, I let the dust settle, dust myself off and crawl out the door.
Always turn off your HVAC system when sanding drywall. When the vents come on, the plastic and dust will blow around, and the dust will work its way into your system.
Last but not least, always wear a good mask while you’re sanding.
A Drywall Disaster
Some jobs you don’t have to think twice about turning down.
One time, a builder approached Mark at a job site and asked him to look at another house in the subdivision.
No big deal, right? Well, wrong. The whole house was hung with pieces of scrap drywall. Turns out, the homeowners had been collecting the drywall from the dumpsters in the subdivision to build the home. It didn’t matter if the drywall was a corner piece or angled, or even wet and damaged.
“When I walked into that house, it looked like a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle,” Mark said.
The biggest piece of drywall in the house was probably about 2×4 feet, and in some spots, there were gaps as big as an inch wide in places.
“That was a big no from me,” Mark said.
Mark’s Drywall Tips
If you’re working near cabinets or baseboards, put tape/plastic down to protect those areas.
Make sure you’re using the correct drywall mud. Go with a green lid or black lid bucket. Use an all-purpose mud and read the bucket. One type of mud may be good for coating but not for taping.
Be patient and work in stages. Let the mud dry then add additional coats.
In Episode 3 of “Ask Danny,” painting expert Tracey Amadio shares her tips and tricks for getting the perfect paint job.
About Tracey Amadio
Tracey Amadio is passionate about painting. She uses expertise from her home improvement career to teach DIY projects, home design, and painting techniques on her website Porchdaydreamer.com.
Tracey’s fans have crowned her the “The Queen of Painting Everything” because there’s nothing she won’t paint!
Her superpower of color memory and long history of color trend analysis is combined to find the perfect paint colors for you.
Her mission is to take the pain out of painting and decorating with her easy-to-understand tutorials.
Tracey was named a 2021 Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker and her work has been featured in HGTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Apartment Therapy and more.
Why is some paint much more expensive than other brands and types?
Tracey: Price matters… to a point.
Many homeowners only focus on the paint color and don’t think about what’s mixed in with the color pigments. Resins, additives and carriers — like water and oil — are key ingredients that will make paint more expensive.
Higher-quality pigments and resins will make the cost go up, but you’ll have better coverage. The middle price point is the best option to choose.
Remember: Quality perception is dictated by the person who’s using the paint. A professional may want a thinner paint because they’ll be using a sprayer, but a homeowner typically wants a thicker paint because they’ll be covering a wall with another color or painting a piece of furniture.
Spending a little extra on that better paint is going to give you an easier application and fewer brush strokes. Also, the paint will dry to a better, more durable finish.
Picking a Color
Can you offer some guidance on how to choose a paint color?
Tracey: When picking a paint color, start with the color you want to base your palette around. It could be a piece of fabric, a rug, a plate, anything that helps you hone onto the color you want.
Take it to the store with you to choose the right paint. Also base it on the amount of light in the room, if it a darker too choose a lighter paint color and sop forth.
I have a free guide you can download. 6 easy steps to picking a paint color.
Also, consider the lighting in the room you’re painting. If you have a dark room, lighter paint, if you have a light room, you can go with a darker paint color, a mid-value paint is going to be best for most people.
After you have an idea of what color you want, buy a foam board and paint it with samples so you can move it around the room to see if it will work for you.
Take your time deciding before you pick a color. See how the color samples look at different times of the day.
What are the different types of sheen, and how should you pick one?
Tracey: I used to work at a paint desk, and I would often see the “deer in headlights” look when I asked what sheen a person wanted.
Sheen matters! It’s actually more important than color.
There are five types of sheen: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss. To determine what sheen you need, consider the room or project you’re painting.
If you’re painting a ceiling, you want a low-reflective paint to hide any imperfections, especially where the joints match up. A flat sheen is best for this.
For walls, you want a higher sheen, like eggshell. Cooking splatters and accidental spills happen, so you need a finish that’s cleanable.
When you scrub a flat paint, it burnishes it and makes it shiny. Flat paint is great for touchups but not for high-traffic areas where you need scrutability and durability.
The higher the sheen, the harder the paint will be when it dries. I typically recommended satin, at minimum, or semi-gloss for trim and molding. These sheens are still wipable but they’re more durable, so they’ll stand up to scuffing and jarring.
I don’t recommend a high-gloss paint. The more reflective a paint is, the more flaws it’s going to show. It’s also hard to apply, so I would leave that to a professional.
What temperature is best for painting a home’s exterior?
Tracey: Most of the time, exterior paint can’t be applied in temperatures under 55-50 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to paint outside when there’s low humidity and the temperature is moderate — between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Paint has a lot of water in it, so the more water in the air, the longer time it will take the paint to dry. Allow yourself three sunny days, if possible, for the paint to dry.
When painting your home’s exterior, only use paint that’s rated for exterior use. Because exterior paint has to deal with temperature changes once it’s dry, it’s fortified with special resins and pigments for special durability. It can expand and contract to a degree that interior paint cannot.
The best paint for exterior use is acrylic latex. I steer clear of oil paints for the exterior. Oil paint isn’t easy to clean, and if you’re using a white oil paint, it will yellow over time because of the oil in it.
Now, there is oil-enriched enamel paint that is water-based, so it’s easy to clean with soap and water like acrylic latex. This paint has oil molecules suspended within it, and as it dries, those molecules activate to act like oil paint. The end result is a surface that’s hard and durable with all the benefits and flexibility of latex paint.
How do you paint plastic outdoor furniture?
Tracey: I take a dual approach to painting plastic furniture. Apply a bonding primer spray first, then cover it with a regular spraypaint.
Even Experts Make Mistakes
Tracey: Even though I’m a paint expert, I sometimes go online to see what other people in the painting world are doing.
One blogger recommended liquid sandpaper, and I thought that could save me a step. I taped off the risers, applied the liquid sandpaper and then painted on top of that.
When the paint was still damp, I pulled the tape off at a 90-degree angle. A full piece of film peeled right off the stair riser, and the entire job was ruined!
I learned a tough lesson: Trust my gut and go with what works. Use a deglosser, then use a bonding primer, then apply the paint.
My paint has stayed put and is vacuum-cleaner proof as well!
Never ignore proper surface preparation. If you do, the paint will come off. Get the surface nice and clean and sand any failing areas.
Use stain-blocking bonding primer if painting over a stain. If you don’t, the stain will rise up to the surface and create color inconsistencies.
Pay attention to the re-coat time. A lot of people think dry time and recoat time are the same. Typically, recoat time is longer than dry time. If you don’t wait the proper amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, the paint will stick to itself and never fully dry. You end up with really tacky, sticky paint that’s almost impossible to fix.
Want to incorporate a creative pattern to a room? Hang wallpaper!
Pick a bold pattern for an accent wall or encase a whole room for an almost instant transformation.
There are two types of wallpaper: Pre-pasted and unpasted.
Pre-pasted wallpaper has adhesive applied to the back of it. To activate, simply wet the back and begin to apply the wallpaper to the wall once it’s sticky.
Unpasted wallpaper requires you to add the adhesive to the back in order to paper to the wall (or in this case the wall) in order for the wallpaper to stick.
Here’s how to hang wallpaper.
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Steps to Hang Wallpaper
1. Establish a Plumb Line
Before you begin hanging wallpaper you’ll want to establish a plumb line adjacent to a corner. This straight, vertical line marks where the ends of two pieces of wallpaper will meet. Mark this line in an inconspicuous spot so the transition from one sheet of paper to the next is not as noticeable.
2. Prep Wallpaper
Cut the paper itself an inch or so longer than the vertical dimension so it can be cut top and bottom.
Tip: Roll the paper backward before you hang it so it lays more flat on the wall.
3. Apply Glue
Some wallpaper has self-adhesion and others require you to put the glue on the paper or wall while installing. This wallpaper specifies for the glue to be applied to the wall, rather than the paper, before hanging.
Use a paint roller to roll the glue onto the wall, and apply the first sheet of wallpaper.
4. Remove Bubbles
To remove air bubbles while you’re hanging the wallpaper, use a smoothing tool.
5. Match Pattern
Because there’s a pattern on this paper, we have to match up the pattern for each new piece. We line it up and mark the point where the top meets the ceiling so we can cut it to the proper length.
6. Overlap Seams
Overlap the seams by a little less than an eighth of an inch. This will eliminate any gaps if the wallpaper shrinks as the glue dries.
7. Trim Excess Paper
To trim any excess wallpaper, use the smoothing tool as a straight edge along the top and bottom of each piece. This gives the paper a clean, sharp look to complete the installation.
And over time, many Today’s Homeowner fans have shared their own solutions on how to make painting easier.
This tip from John from Clancy, Montana, will help you paint neatly from a can using a paintbrush.
The challenge when dipping a paintbrush in a can is how to keep the paint from dripping around the rim. Not only do you waste paint, but you also make a mess on the outside of the paint can and the surface underneath it.
To prevent any paint from dripping down the side of the can, create a built-in paint scraper in the center of the can. Here’s how to do it:
Cut the lid in half using a pair of snips.
Tap the half lid onto the paint can to secure it.
When you dip your paintbrush in there, you can take that excess paint and just strike it off against the edge of the half lid.
Now, you can very neatly apply the paint without any drips, runs or errors.
If you don’t use the whole can, you can preserve the leftover with a separate paint bucket and save the half lid for future painting projects.
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