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.
Making your house look great at the first glance doesn’t have to be a costly investment. These simple and affordable curb appeal ideas can update your home while boosting its appeal to visitors and potential buyers.
1. Dress Up Your House Number
First on our list of curb appeal ideas is stylishly displaying your house number. Not only does it add curb appeal but it also clearly shows your house number for first responders and ensures packages get delivered to the right home.
This house number wall planter project is a two-for-one – you get a wall planter that also prominently displays your house number. Plus, it can be built in less than half a day.
First, measure and cut the wood for your house number wall planter. For this project, we used cedar because of its scent, but you can use any type of wood.
Here are the cuts you’ll need:
Three 1x6s at 24 inches
Two 1x4s at 3.5 inches
One 1×4 at 12 inches
One 1×4 at 13.5 inches
Choose whether you want the rough side or the smooth side of your cedar facing out, then drill pocket holes on the backs of two of your 1×6 boards.
Apply wood glue and drill wood screws to attach the three 1×6 boards together to form the wall planter panel.
Drill the D-ring hangers to the back of the panel.
To assemble the planter box, use the 12-inch piece for the bottom, the 13.5-inch piece for the front and the two 3.5-inch pieces as the sides. Apply wood glue and then nail them together.
Use a scrap piece of wood to hold the planter box three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the panel. Then, attach the planter box to the panel using wood screws from behind. Sand the house number planter box. If you want a glossy look, apply a wood sealer.
Lay out your house numbers and mark the holes’ locations. Drill mounting holes with a 3/16-inch drill bit and attach the elevated numbers.
Hang the wall planter up on your house before adding the dirt and plants.
2. Replace Your Mailbox
While we’re on the subject of house numbers, give some attention to your mailbox!
Mailboxes serve a dual purpose: they collect your mail, but they also send a message about the homeowner’s attentiveness to their dwelling.
A tattered old mailbox suggests a lack of care. Don’t risk sending the wrong message: install a sparkling new mailbox.
From traditional to polished-nickel options, choose from dozens of styles and sizes. Consider whether you’ll need to enlist help for installation: a wall-mounted mailbox will only require some screws and a screwdriver, but roadside mailboxes that sit on posts might require an expert’s help.
If you have to dig a post hole for your new mailbox, call 811 before you dig to ensure that you stay clear of any utility lines.
Next on our list of curb appeal ideas is spruing up the front porch.
Here’s an easy formula to improve your front porch’s appearance: furniture, plants and wreaths.
Front porch furniture — like gliding, lounging or rocking chairs — welcomes guests and invites them to sit, take a load off and enjoy some conversation.
You can find nice, inexpensive furniture at a thrift store to add character. Shop for something that looks good but doesn’t require refinishing.
Plants offer a nice break from your home’s hard features (such as windows, doors, roofing and siding). To add texture and soften your home’s exterior appearance, purchase plants at the home and garden center and place them in pots made for outdoor use.
Just get one or two planters — most hardware stores or gardening shops sell inexpensive faux terracotta ones — to arrange near your front entrance. Place two planters on either side of your front door or cascade multiple down the front steps.
Here’s a suggestion for a starter plant: hardy and beautiful hibiscus! These slow growers provide abundant greenery with massive (up to 10-inch) blooms.
When the weather turns colder, move the pots indoors to enjoy them through the winter months.
When you’re picking out your plants, one simple phrase should be the key to your planter or window box: “fillers, spillers and thrillers.”
Fillers: Leafy greens will fill the space and complete the look
Spillers: Flowers like Creeping Jenny flow over the container’s sides
Thrillers: These plants offer the “wow” factor. Pops of color will draw the visitor’s eye
To fully capture the senses, add some aromatics to emit a gentle fragrance as guests enter your home. Keep in mind that your climate will also play a role in what you should plant.
Check the online version of the Farmers’ Almanac to learn what will and won’t grow well in your area.
Who says door wreaths are just for winter holidays? Make any door look great with a year-round wreath. Embellish the wreath based on the current season and add or remove accessories — such as a large initial of your family’s last name — as needed.
Scan the web, shop around and purchase these items in advance and you can move them into position and dress your front porch in less than an hour!
4. Paint the Front Door
A new paint color is the most budget-friendly of this list of curb appeal ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. The average gallon of paint costs between $15 and $30 — a reasonable investment that packs a punch when it comes to improving the look of a home.
Options for front door colors are as endless as your imagination. However, choose one that complements the color scheme of your home’s exterior. For a monochromatic color scheme, choose darker and lighter shades within the same color. To add eye-catching contrast, pick a door color that’s on the opposite end of the color wheel as your home’s main color.
Playful pops of colors are very on trend when it comes to door updates. But classic colors and stains never go out of style. A simple coat of faux mahogany finish can give instant curb appeal and won’t cost you a boatload.
Get the most mileage out of your paint job with these tips:
1. Remove any hardware. This includes knockers, kick plates and door handles. By taking these off, you avoid getting paint on your hardware, and you can ensure that you cover the whole door with paint.
2. Clean it. Soap and water should do the job, but if there’s years’ worth of build up, use a pressure washer to power wash the grim away.
3. Lay it flat. Taking the door off its hinges is an extra step that most likely means a two-person job, but removing the door makes it easier to apply the paint in even coats.
4. Sand it. By sanding your door before you paint, you can remove dust, debris, and old paint layers. Sanding can also help your paint stick better, giving you a cleaner, crisper fresh coat.
5. Change the locks. Now is a great time to invest in some new home security. Replace your old deadbolt and handle with a brand new set and consider installing smart locks for keyless entry.
Number five on our list of curb appeal ideas is upgrading your front door’s hardware.
It’s a simple, cost-effective and you can choose from a variety of colors and metal types, like silver, gold, satin nickel, copper, and oiled bronze.
Plus, hardware comes in many shapes and sizes, so before heading to the home center, consider the look and function you want — for instance, do you want knobs or levers? Do you want to turn, pull or push the handle to open the door?
With all of these options, you can easily find hardware to match your personal style and enhance your home’s aesthetic on a budget.
Just consider how the new hardware will look compared with your interior doors’ hardware. You may not want, say, an oiled bronze lever on the front door if brass knobs are on two close-by interior doors.
Or you may want to replace all your interior knobs with levers to match the front door for a consistent look throughout the home. Or at least spray the existing knobs with an oiled bronze finish to match.
Either way, it’s your home, and it’s your decision.
6. Install Concrete Borders
Lawn borders contain your mulch and define flowerbeds and pathways, giving your landscaping a finished look.
It doesn’t cost much to install concrete borders — expect to pay an estimated $2 per linear foot for materials. Out of all these curb appeal ideas, this is the most hands on, do-it-yourself project, so keep in mind the time and labor it will take.
Expect to dig a trench, build and install wood forms, pour in some gravel and then top that with concrete mix. Add just a few extra steps if you want to color the concrete mix, and give this project about three days to cure.
In a week, your flower beds will look better than ever and your front yard will have a sense of order to it — all thanks to a simple border!
While we’re on the subject of lawns, here’s another home curb appeal idea: install exterior lighting.
Adding a few lights to your front yard allows you to literally shine a spotlight on your home’s best features.
Landscape lightsare easy to install, and solar varieties are self-sufficient, so they won’t put a strain on your energy bill.
First, light walkways with garden lights or bollard lights, then move on to accent lighting. Use spotlights or up/down lights to highlight features like a large tree or a flag pole.
Want to add some ambiance to your patio? Hang some string lights!
Before you install landscape lighting, test the layout and determine the focal point for the brightest light. Simply tape flashlights to stakes and position them around the yard at night to see how halogen or incandescent landscape lights will look.
You can also place luminaries – composed of a white bag with sand and a candle inside – around your yard at night to mimic the look of solar-powered landscape lighting.
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.
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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She’s spanned the paint-color spectrum over the years, but she keeps coming back to these three tried-and-true hues.
1. Not Quite Black
Cracked Pepper is a go-to neutral that pairs perfectly with almost any color. This dark option from Behr is just a shade off from black.
“I’ve used Cracked Pepper from Behr on several projects. It looks good in natural light and artificial (fluorescent) light too!” Chelsea says.
It’s perfect for when you need a dark color for an accent wall but don’t want a harsh black.
For instance, Cracked Pepper makes a wall bookshelf and TV center (pictured above) stand out in a bright sunroom we transformed for homeowners Chuck and Margy.
Cracked Pepper also works well outside. In this backyard makeover episode, we gave the shed a major update with just a coat of the versatile peppery color.
2. Finding Your Zen
Zen, also from Behr, is a neutral bluish-green color reminiscent of seafoam. This natural hue creates a calming atmosphere in any room.
Zen looks great in work and home environments. Chelsea uses this shade in her office at Today’s Homeowner and as an accent on the wall trim and ceiling grid in her living room.
In fact, she likes this color family so much, she used Zen’s “Irish sister” Recycled Glass on her bathroom vanity. It’s slightly more green and one shade lighter on the color swatch.
3. Forest Feels
Seeking something in sage? Chelsea likes to use Eucalyptus Wreath from Behr. This shade is just green enough to give you a forest feel without being too intense.
Chelsea used Eucalyptus Wreath for an accent wall in her first home’s master bedroom. A bathroom addition left the room with only one window, so painting one wall gave the room a pop of color and complemented the natural lighting.
When we gave homeowner Barbara a cozy den makeover, we used Eucaplytus Wreath for an accent wall in the dining area. It enhanced the room’s design and complemented natural lighting streaming in from a large window.