Categories in How To

Explore these topics and let your next home improvement adventure begin!

your questions in How To

See Answer

Penny Stain: How to Make

I was excited about trying the vinegar and pennies and followed the directions from your article, but nothing happened. The pennies have been soaking for about 2 weeks now and for the most part the vinegar is still clear. What am i doing wrong? Laura

Our Answer

Fresh lemon juice and salt takes the tarnish off pennies – not vinegar!  Wet the penny with the lemon juice and then rub in salt.  Sea salt or other big crystal works the best!

This was a favorite dinner table trick when traveling with my kids. They love to get those flat pennies when were on vacation and later that day I'd grab the lemon off an ice tea glass and the salt shaker, mix up a paste and polish 'til it was bright and shiny!

As for making a stain from pennies, that's also possible.  Here's a guide with tips to make a variety of natural stains from coffee, tea, walnuts, blackberries - and even penies!

Tom Kraeutler

See Answer
woodshop, tools

Transform Dirt Floor Barn into Woodshop

We have an old barn  that is about 30 x 40 feet in western Massachusetts. The first floor of the barn is open and has granite footings under the the posts. There is currently a dirt floor, but we want to make the bottom level of the barn the woodshop and are wondering if it would work to pour a concrete slab or if there is better option for transforming the space into a usable shop.

Our Answer

Your barn sounds like a great space for a woodshop.  A concrete floor would probably make the most sense. Since the building is self supporting, the floor will have no structural purpose so would not need to be any thicker than around 6 inches or so.  To make sure the slab doesn't crack, I'd be sure to use a good quality mason.  Preparing the grade and stone base is key, as is being sure its tamped down to eliminate any settlement under the slab.  Wire reinforcement will also be needed.  And given that you are in Massachusetts, I'd also insulate under the slab to make it a bit more comfortable to work on in colder weather.

Also, plan to apply an epoxy floor paint after it is complete, so that the slab is easy to sweep and keep clean.  And think about whether you might want to run wiring for present or future tool, outlets or other electrical connections, and have an electrician prewire the floor before the slab is poured.

See Answer

Soundproofing: Masonry Wall vs Wood/MLV Fence

We recently moved into a house next to a road that produces more noise than we expected and  I'm considering putting something up to help with the noise.One option considered is a masonry wall.  It's attractive, low-maintenance, and likely the most effective against noise but it's also (roughly) triple the cost of the fence option.The fence would be a tongue and groove double sided privacy fence with a layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) hung between the facing panels to help with sound attenuation.  I'd never heard of MLV before I started looking into this, and the only material I can find on is from the guys who sell it, who obviously claim it's the bee's knees.My question is whether the MLV sandwich fence is going to do a "good enough job" with the road noise to make it a viable option against masonry.  Or is the fence without the MLV going to be effective enough?

Our Answer

As the saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Whether an MLV fence will be quiet enough for you is dependent on your tolerance. However, MLV is a very high-tech product that's had a great success record of quieting machines, road noise, and even the occasional garage band! (Here's more information on MLV and its uses.)

To make it effective, however, it has to float. It cannot be stapled directly to the inside of the fence with no way for the material to move back and forth. This is because when those sound waves hit it, they need the flexibility to diffuse. It's kind of like when you throw a rock into the lake. The lake initially absorbs the force of the rock, but then the waves diffuse the force that follows. If you were to make this MLV so tight that it couldn't flex, it wouldn't have as strong of an ability to diffuse that sound. The best approach would be to hang it loosely between the sections of the fence. As to whether or not this will be "good enough," the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may find that it's fine. Or, if you have a low tolerance for noise, you may find that it's not. Given the fact that it's one-third of the cost of a concrete barrier, it is certainly worth an effort.

Another thing you could do is to add landscaping on the roadside of the wood fence. This would also help break up the sounds before it gets to the fence, making the MLV assembly even more effective. As this article says, adding a water fountain could be a good idea as well. Good luck with your project and send us a photo when you're done!

product reviews in How To

The latest products in home improvement, decor and more with reviews by The Money Pit's band of serial home improvers.