Monthly Archives: September 2016

How To Erase Ugly Scratches from Your Wood Floors

Dogs chase kids, pans drop, chairs scrape, and soon you must repair wood floors and erase scratches that make a mess of your red oak or Brazilian cherry. A professional floor refinisher will charge $1 to $4 per square foot to apply a new coat of finish. No worries. We’ve got inexpensive ways to remove wood scratches and repair deep gouges in a few easy steps.

Camouflage Scratches
Take some artistic license to hide minor scratches in wood floors by rubbing on stain-matching crayons and Sharpie pens. Wax sticks, such as Minwax Stain Markers, are great scratch busters because they include stain and urethane, which protects the floor’s finish.

Don’t be afraid to mix a couple of colors together to get a good match. And don’t sweat if the color is a little off. Real hardwoods mix several hues and tones. So long as you cover the contrasting “white” scratches, color imperfections will match perfectly.

Modern kitchen with wood floors
Spend Oh-So-Wisely on a Kitchen Remodel
6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen
How to Shop for a Retro Kitchen — and Not Get Stuck with Junk
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: The Options and Costs
Homemade Polish
Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar, which work together to remove dirt, moisturize, and shine wood. Pour a little directly onto the scratch. Let the polish soak in for 24 hours, then wipe off. Repeat until the scratch disappears.

Spot-Sand Deep Scratches
It takes time to repair wood gouges: Sand, fill, sand again, stain, and seal. Here are some tips to make the job go faster.

Sand with fine-gauge steel wool or lightweight sandpaper.
Always sand with the grain.
Use wood filler, which takes stain better than wood putty.
Use a plastic putty knife to avoid more scratches.
Seal the area with polyurethane, or whatever product was used on the floor originally.
Apply the polyurethane coat with a lambs wool applicator, which avoids air bubbles in the finish.
Fix Gaps in the Floor
Old floorboards can separate over time. Fill the gaps with colored wood putty. Or, if you have some leftover planks, rip a narrow band and glue it into the gap.

Easy Tips to Fix Common Wall and Floor Problems

We turned to three bloggers for ideas on how to tackle some little, but nagging, household wall and floor issues.

A Made-Up Drywall Repair
The problem: Concealing drywall damage is a tricky business that requires a handful of drywall tools and materials to make walls look like new. To fix coin-sized holes, many traditionalists use mesh or paper tape. But not Lesli DeVito, the DIY blogger behind My Old Country House.

The fix: Cosmetic wedges! DeVito first tried patching the two nickel-sized openings with cement board she had lying around, but the pieces didn’t fit as

Tool list:

Make-up sponges
Scissors
Spackle
Putty knife
Sandpaper
How to:

Cut the wedges into pieces that are slightly larger than the holes.
Spackle the drywall and wipe off the excess.
When the spackle dries, sand the area until it’s smooth.
Add a fresh coat of paint.
Now DeVito challenges people to find where the holes were; go ahead, take a peek.

Modern kitchen with wood floors
Spend Oh-So-Wisely on a Kitchen Remodel
6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen
How to Shop for a Retro Kitchen — and Not Get Stuck with Junk
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: The Options and Costs
A Seamless Way to Remove Nails from Trim and Flooring
Carefully removing nails from woodImage: Dadand.com

The problem: You can save some dough by using salvaged materials like trim and oak flooring. But before you can install or even safely store them, you have to pull out any old nails — without damaging the wood.

The fix: Although you might be tempted to whack the nail from the back with a hammer and then yank it, don’t. That can mar the surface. Instead, pull the nails out from the back, says Peter Fazio from the site Dadand.

Tool list:

Pliers
Work gloves
Drop cloth
How to:

Put the trim or floorboard face down on a drop cloth to protect the front surface.
Using your pliers, grab the nail and gently roll onto the curved part of the tool until the nail pops out.
If the old filler used to conceal the nail on the front side pops out, it’s easy to fix. Refill the hole with color-matched wood filler (it’ll work for composite trim, too). Scrape the top of the repair gently with a putty knife to remove excess filler — otherwise you’ll leave a noticeable bump.

If you can’t find color-matched filler, repair the hole and gently sand the area smooth. Spot paint to match.

The Trick to Spiffing Up Grody Grout
Cleaning grout in your homeImage: Virginia from LiveLoveDIY

The problem: When Virginia from LiveLoveDIY painted her kitchen cabinets bright white, her dingy tile grout became a real eyesore.

Sure, cleaning agents like hydrogen peroxide can brighten discolored floors, but they won’t do much for grout. Grout is gritty and easily stains; despite scrubbing, it may never appear clean.

The fix: Using what she calls the “best product ever,” a bottle of Polyblend Grout Renew (there are other brands, too), a stain- and fade-resistant grout paint in snow white. It cost $10 for an 8-ounce bottle, which was enough to cover the all grout in her kitchen.

Tool list:

Grout paint
Toothbrush
Rags or paper towels
How to:

Squeeze a dollop of paint on the grout and scrub it in with a toothbrush.
Wipe off the excess from tile with a paper towel.
Including a few breaks, it took her about four hours to complete the job, which she says was time well-spent. Virginia also says the grout paint is easy to keep clean.

Tips To Repair Walls to Give Rooms a Fresh Face

Repair walls filled with dents, dings, and scuffs, and you’ll make rooms look young and fresh and maintain the value of your home. Fortunately, repairing walls is a good weekend warrior project. Here’s how to fix your home’s face in a hurry.

Patch Drywall to Smooth Walls
A putty knife, spackle, or joint compound can repair wall damage that ages a room.

Dents and dings: A quart of spackle ($11) and a putty knife can fill dozens of small wall indentations. Spackle adheres to painted walls better than joint compound, though it takes a bit longer to dry. Cut wall repair time by thoroughly wiping away excess spackle.

Fist-sized holes: Joint compound is your best bet when covering the mesh or drywall patches that cover big holes. You’ll need at least two thin coats of compound and fine grit sandpaper to blend repairs into the rest of the wall.

Nail pops: Nail pops travel in packs: Rarely do you see just one. To repair walls pocked with pops, hammer the popped nail back into the wall or pull it out with a needle-nose pliers; refasten the drywall to the nearest stud with a couple of screws, then fill dents with two or three coats of joint compound. Sand until smooth and flush with the rest of the wall, then repaint.

Modern kitchen with wood floors
Spend Oh-So-Wisely on a Kitchen Remodel
6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen
How to Shop for a Retro Kitchen — and Not Get Stuck with Junk
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: The Options and Costs
Remove Marks for a Clean Start
Microfiber cloths are little miracles that erase the evidence of a childhood well spent, drawing on and caroming off walls. To get rid of scuff marks and fingerprints:

Spray an all-purpose cleaner onto the cloth (never directly onto walls to avoid drips) and swipe the scuff. (Test a hidden spot to make sure the cleaner doesn’t take off paint with the mark.)
Pour a little dish soap onto a damp cloth and wipe the mark.
Dip a sponge into an earth-friendly and slightly abrasive paste of dish soap, baking soda, and water, and gently scrub grime.
To repair walls decorated with crayon marks, dab toothpaste onto a towel or toothbrush and scrub marks.
Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ($3), the best instant wall cleaner around. Wet and wring the eraser before attacking scuffs.
Touch Up What You Can’t Wipe Out
Prepare for inevitable touch-ups by keeping leftover paint or at least recording the paint number and/or formula (paint names change). Don’t have the original? Scrape off a little and ask your paint store to match it.

For touch-ups, use the same type of brush or roller the original painter used. Feather the paint from the outside borders in.

If touch-ups stand out, paint the entire wall, making sure to paint corner to corner and avoid splatters onto the ceiling and adjacent walls.

Some Tips on Pool Fence Safety to Reduce Your Liability

Installing a fence around your swimming pool is a smart security measure that prevents kids from having unsupervised access. In many areas, the law and your insurance company may also require it. But how do you know what kind of fence to pick?

Here’s where things get tricky.

There Are No Standard Requirements
The U.S. does not have a federal pool fence law. Instead, pool barriers are regulated at the state and local level.

Wait, it gets more complicated.

There are exemptions built into these laws. For example, families with children over 6 years old don’t have to install a pool fence in Arizona — unless you live in Scottsdale, Glendale, and several other areas.

See what I mean? It’s confusing.

Then you have to consider that although your pool might be exempt from fencing laws, your insurance company might require it.

So, what to choose?

Modern kitchen with wood floors
Spend Oh-So-Wisely on a Kitchen Remodel
6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen
How to Shop for a Retro Kitchen — and Not Get Stuck with Junk
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: The Options and Costs
Follow These Recommendations to Be Safe
Here’s a list of features every pool fence should have, based on legal requirements across the states and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Height: Some areas require a 4-ft. fence; the CPSC recommendation is 4 ft. or taller.
Structure: Must be impossible for children to climb.
Type: Permanent fencing is ideal because of durability.
Gate: All states require that they open outward away from the pool area, and be self-closing and self-latching.
Materials: Structures can be made from a wide range of stuff including wood, vinyl, and aluminum. However, make sure the material you pick is not easily susceptible to damage.
The 3 Most Popular Types of Fences
Removable mesh pool fencing: Many consumers like this option because it’s an easy-to-move transparent barrier. But when it comes to safety, don’t skimp. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has set a standard for fences like these that is recognized worldwide. Here in the U.S., it has the approval of the American Society for Testing and Materials. So if you go with a mesh barrier, make sure it meets or exceeds the ASTM requirements. In many areas this is also mandatory by law.
Vertical bar fencing: Structures can be made from a wide range of stuff including wood, vinyl, aluminum, and wrought iron. However, make sure the material you pick is not easily susceptible to damage. In most states, the space between the vertical bars can’t be more than 4 inches wide.
Glass panel fencing: Barriers like these are very popular in California. They are durable and safe because they’re made from tempered glass. Plus, since they’re transparent, they don’t detract from your pool’s beauty.
Add Additional Protection
Keep in mind: Many states, such as New York and California, require layers of protection in addition to fencing.

Examples of additional layers of security include:

Automatic rigid pool covers
An underwater motion swimming pool alarm
Rescue equipment
But who do you contact in your area to get the skinny on swimming pool safety? Since every state and county sets up their agencies differently, try contacting the following departments in your area:

Building Code Department
Department of Health
Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
How did we find stuff? We Googled “swimming pool safety” along with the name of our county and state.

To see a wide range of security features and measures to make your pool as safe and liability-proof as possible, check out this video by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, in conjunction with the CPSC.