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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

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stop roof leaks, roof repair

Painting over Water Stains and Mold: How to Repair and Prep After a Water Leak

What is the rule of thumb for painting over water stains? I have a two-story house, and my second-floor shower stall developed a leak, as evidenced by water dripping from the first floor ceiling. The leak is small--a few drops of water after every use--and I believe I have now fixed the source of the leak (failing, cracked grout).

Now that I'm preparing to repair the ceiling, I see that the water dripped out around a nail head which developed a quarter-sized black stain that I assume is black mold. A few inches away, the paint has cracked and is peeling along a two-foot-long drywall seam. I was hoping to simply remove the loose paint, clean the black area with some bleach, re-spackle and re-paint the existing drywall.  Will this work or do you think that I should remove and replace the affected drywall to eliminate the black mold in the ceiling?

Our Answer

Before we get to painting over water stains, let's talk about mold. Mold needs three things to fester: air, food and water. While there is plenty of air and drywall is a terrific food for black mold, the fact that you have fixed the leak means that there should be no more moisture to feed a mold problem.
Secondly, the black mold that you think you have, may not in fact be black mold at all. While mold is possible, water stains--caused by the reaction of water with paper, paint and rust--can also form a black spot. Regardless, a quarter-sized area is nothing to worry about, even it is black mold, as long as the leak has been repaired.

As for painting over the water stain, my suggestion is to most certainly remove the loose paint as you suggested. Then wash the area down with a bleach-and-water solution just to make sure any mold spores have been neutralized. The next step is the most important: paint the stained area with an oil-based primer like KILZ. This will seal the stained surface and prevent it from leaching through to the top layer after you paint. For the best results, prime the entire area and not just the spots that have been impacted by the leak and resulting water stains.

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Epoxy Garage Floor Coating

I applied an epoxy-based coating to my garage floor, but it didn't last all that long and started chipping away. I am ready to do it again, and want to know if you have any tips or products to recommend.

Our Answer

Like many a finish project, proper preparation is key to a great-looking and long-lasting garage floor.  While many manufacturers make epoxy garage floor coating, I have had good experience with QUIKRETE's Epoxy Garage Floor Coating Kit
QUIKRETE makes it easy to prepare the garage floor with its Bond-Lok concentrate. After the floor surface is thoroughly swept, Bond-Lok is mixed with water and applied to the floor to degrease, clean and etch the surface.
After the Bond-Lok garage floor application and a thorough rinsing and drying, it's time to add the epoxy-based finish in two-by-six-foot sections. You can also add QUIKRETE color flakes for extra flair. Finally, make sure the garage floor is thoroughly dry before you move your cars back in. Temperate and humidity can impact drying times making them far longer than the garage floor epoxy manufacturer predicts.

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low voc paint

Low-voc Paint: Earth- and Human-friendly Paints Provide Great Project Results

I'm taking on some painting projects and am looking for a safer paint. Lately I seem to be more sensitive to working with paint, and get an allergic reaction that makes my eyes water and leads to some nasty headaches. Are there any options for a more environmentally friendly paint product? I have also been reading a lot about something called VOCs in paint. What are VOCs, and could they be causing my problem?

Our Answer

Possibly, and it'd be a good idea to shop for low-VOC paint this time around. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. Some VOCs are fungicides that prevent mold growth, others help with color and some contribute to the paint's spreadability. The fact of the matter is that chemicals like these have been part of the manufacturing process for many years because it actually made the paint better. Believe it or not, even toxic lead, which is no longer used, was there to improve colorfastness. In fact, I remember finding a can of very, very old paint during a home inspection years ago on which the manufacturer bragged about the paint's high lead content!

Fortunately, the manufacturing process has gotten much better at producing quality paint that is much safer to use. Today, lead is gone and low- or no-VOC paint is the standard. Latex, alkyd-based paint is commonly made with no or low VOCs and even oil paints have a lot less. You can actually read the paint's label to determine how much VOC has been added. A low-VOC latex paint would have about 250 grams of VOCs, and a low oil-based paint would have about 350 grams or so.

When shopping for paint, be sure to inform the clerk that you are particularly interested in low-odor, low-VOC paints. If you ever have a question about what is inside the can, you can also ask for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) which will list VOCs in Section 9. Odor is another issue that manufacturers have been working to reduce, and most low-VOC products are also low-odor.

Other than selecting low-VOC paint, just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. Opening up a few windows in the dead of winter might not seem like a smart idea, but the added cost in heat is a small price to pay for your health and comfort throughout the job.

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painting cabinets

How to Avoid VOC’s when Painting Cabinets

I'm concerned about VOCs, when painting cabinets.  Is it okay to use an oil based primer with a latex paint in order to cut down on the VOCs?  Also, if the cabinets I'm painting have laminate sides, do I need to prime those as well?

Our Answer

Certainly understand and appreciate your concerns about painting cabinets while avoiding VOC's (volatile organic compounds) which can be an ingredient in paint.  However, I don't recommend using a latex top coat.  While latex paint has come a long way, the one area where solvent-based finishes are far superior is durability.  Kitchen cabinets take a lot of wear and tear and latex paint simply doesn't offer the kind of abrasion resistance that an oil-based finish would.

The good news is that most name brand paints has very little VOC's these days compared to years ago.  I suggest you use both an oil based top coat and primer (including on those laminate sides) and take steps to ventilate the room while you are working on it.  Choose a nice day for your project and set up a window fan to exhaust room air to the exterior, and then open a couple of windows inside the house to facilitate the air flow.  When working well, fresh air will flow in the open windows, through the kitchen and out the window with the fan.

Be sure to properly prep the cabinets before painting to make sure the paint sticks!

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Refinishing your Kitchen Cabinets: Solutions to give your kitchen cabinets a low-cost makeover

My kitchen cabinets are looking pretty tired, and I'd like to give them a low-cost face lift. What types of paint, polyurethane, varnish or other finishes should I use, and what are some tips on DIY refinishing?

Our Answer

There are many ways to refinish your kitchen cabinets. First, make sure your kitchen cabinets are eligible for refinishing by examining their construction and material content. Solid wood and laminate kitchen cabinets are both good candidates for refinishing, but anything covered in veneer is not, unless you're willing to apply paint rather than stain.

Whether painting or staining your kitchen cabinets, choose an oil-based finish, which is far more durable and forgiving of everyday kitchen grime than latex finish.

If your kitchen cabinets meet refinishing requirements, here are the project steps you'll need to take:

Working in a well-ventilated area, begin with a thorough cleaning, removing all dirt and grime from kitchen cabinets; allow surfaces to dry.

Apply a paint/finish remover, and scrape away finish with a putty knife, followed by a wire brush. Continue this cycle until a clean wood surface is revealed.

Sand cabinets with fine-grit sandpaper, and remove resulting dust and debris with a tack cloth. You may also consider using a liquid sanding agent, which can be very effective in application of fine woodworking details and other hard-to-sand areas (it also helps with the grime-removal step of refinishing).

Apply the new finish according to the manufacturer's instructions (preceded by the appropriate primer if you're painting the kitchen cabinets), allowing surfaces to dry thoroughly between coats.

When finish applications are complete, apply a protective top coat to shield the kitchen cabinets from moisture, grease and surface oil.

Finally, accessorize your refreshed kitchen cabinets with new knobs and pulls ─ they're the bling that brings personality to a kitchen update! Refinishing your kitchen cabinets will be an easy task with these steps.


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Refaced Cabinets Coming Loose – What Should I Do?

I had my cabinets refaced about 8 years ago and now the glue has come loose. I've talked with new cabinet refacing companies who claim refacing has been improved and this won't happen again. (The contractor through Home Depot only guarantees them for 5 years.) Would you recommend refacing or is there a better option?

Our Answer

Refacing cabinets is a process that is often half the cost of replacing your cabinets. Not only that, but you're stuck with your current layout; if you ever want to add cabinets, they will have to be built from scratch and then refaced to match the others. For this reason, we usually recommend looking into other options that give you a great look but are not as pricey. 

You'll first have to take a look at your cabinets. If they were installed in the 70's or later, they were likely installed with solid fronts and paper-thin veneers that you won't be able to sand or stain. Your best option there will be painting, which can be done using these helpful tips!

Painting is a great option even for older, solid-wood cabinets. You'll want to clean them out and remove all doors/drawers/hardware. Then, prepare them further by sanding. You can do this by hand or with a liquid sandpaper product. Then, prime the surfaces with an oil-based primer and get started on painting! In order to provide a better wear protection, we recommend painting with an oil-based glossy paint for the finish coat.

Overall, the fact that the veneer is not sticking is unusual. If you decide to go with refacing, make sure you carefully research the contractor. Ask if he will supply a list of past clients, and spend time talking to customers he worked with years ago to see how the cabinets held up. If he will not supply a list, it might be a good sign you should move down the list.

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wall decor

Textured Wall Repair

Is there any way to match the texture sprayed on drywall when getting the wall ready to paint? I have small nail holes in sections of the texture falling off that need to be retextured.

Our Answer

There are a number of textured surface repair products out for just this situation.  For example,  Wall Textured Spray Patch in Orange Peel White for Ceilings, Drywall is made by Homax and should do a fine job.

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peeling paint, exterior painting

Peeling Paint Problem

I am trying to solve a problem with peeling paint.  I painted my daughter's bedroom using primer and then paint. Now it has become my son's room, and there are spots where the paint just pulls off in long strips and looks like rubber. I want to repaint the room, but have no idea how to handle the areas where the paint is peeling. What can I do?

Our Answer

It's pointless to simply paint over an issue like this, because your new finish won't stick to layers and layers of bad paint. Instead, spend the time and effort to strip away all of the old paint so that you can smoothly brush on a long-lasting new coat. There are several environmentally friendly, low-VOC stripping products on the market, including Ready-Strip Plus, which has a color change feature that tells you when the old paint it has been applied to is ready to be removed. After you have finished this step, repair and sand surfaces, then prime before painting with KILZ Odorless Primer. From there, your paint peeling problem will be gone and you'll be able to apply a new hue that will last until your next room redecoration project comes along.

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red paint, concrete

Learn to Repair and Paint Concrete Foundation Walls

I just purchased a new home with a solid poured concrete wall foundation. I am not looking to "finish" the basement, but I would like to paint the concrete foundation walls to brighten up and make the basement look clean.  Is there a material that I can use that would also fill in all the little holes in the concrete and paint the walls at the same time?

Our Answer

Solid concrete foundation walls are about as good as it gets for a strong base for your home.  The concrete walls themselves are not really designed to be a finished surface, as the steel forms leave ridges when they are removed, and small voids where air has settled in the concrete results in pock marks.  These ridges and pock marks, as well as even minor shrinkage cracks on the concrete foundation should be considered minor and mostly cosmetic.

Basement wall paints tend to be fairly thick and  no matter what you do, the concrete walls will not be silky smooth.  If the concrete wall has any large areas that need repair, I'd recommend the products from Quikrete.  These patches and fillers do a good job on repairing holes and voids in concrete. After the repair, you can paint the solid concrete foundation walls using paint specially formulated for concrete.

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Interior Painting Preparation: Three Steps to a Beautiful Finish

I'm about to tackle my first interior painting project and don't want to wind up with the same rough-looking results I've seen in other homes. What painting preparation steps do I need to take to make sure my interior painting project turns out well?

Our Answer

There are several interior painting preparation steps you'll need to take to make sure your painting project comes out perfectly, starting with preperation.  Many interior painting projects that have turned out badly are the result of a lack of interior painting preparation.  Too many times first-time painters get so excited about the new paint color that they skip over the "boring" parts of a proper paint job.

Here are the three basic interior painting preparation steps:

  1. Clean all surfaces. The first step in proper interior painting preparation is to scrub away any accumulations of smoke, oil and grime that can keep paint from adhering. Use liquid sandpaper to remove buildup from trim, and wash walls down with a TSP (trisodium phosphate) solution, available at most home centers and hardware stores. Tip: Apply the solution with a sponge-head floor mop for an easier reach and avoidance of ladder catastrophes.
  2. Smooth everything out. Once cleaned surfaces are completely dry, you'll need to smooth them out. This is where a lot of the painting preparation work happens, so don't skimp or get lazy with the details, because the new paint won't hide them. Fill all holes and cracks, followed by a thorough allover sanding and removal of the resulting dust. Then grab a really strong flashlight and hold it against and parallel to the wall to check your work. As the light bounces over the repaired area, you'll be able to see exactly how the surface will look when sunshine hits it. If this test reveals unsightly details, go back and smooth them before packing up the sander.
  3. Mask marvelously. Finally, you'll need to mask off everything you don't want painted and carefully create a clean edge for every coat of paint. For this preparation step, apply painter's tape along trim and glass edges, and use it in combination with plastic sheeting or masking paper to cover fixtures that can't be moved and large surface areas to be left out of the equation. Also remove switch and socket plates (followed by a bit of tape over remaining switches and plugs) and all possible hardware. Also important to your interior painting preparation is make sure the room temperature is below 90 degrees and above 55 so that paint goes on smoothly. Then begin the primer application, cutting in around edges and then filling in surfaces. After the primer is dry, apply your new paint shade in two rounds for a durable, beautiful finish that reflects the proper preparation you've put into your painting project.
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hard to paint surfaces

Peeling Porch Stain

I use a weatherproof satin on my porch every year . The product says you only need to redo every 3 to 5 years but yet it comes off every year. Why is this?

Our Answer

Sometimes multiple layers of paint or stain reach a point where the layers simply won't stay together. Give the history, the best approach is the completely strip all old stain/paint off the porch.  Then, after it is thoroughly dry, apply an oil-based primer, and then two top coats of stain.  I say use oil-based primer because it has the best adhesion.

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Can I Paint Bathroom Wall and Floor Tile?

I'd like to paint over the pink tile on my outdated bathroom's walls and floor.  Is this possible - and how?  Or would it be better to lay another type of flooring over the existing floor tile and only paint the walls?  Thanks for any help.  I love your show on WRKO. 

Our Answer

Tile can be painted, yes, but you need to prepare the surface area beforehand with a primer.  And not just any primer, but one that's really adhesive - otherwise the paint will scrape off.  Luckily, Sherwin-Williams has a primer designed specifically for painting tile. 

That said, your hunch is spot-on. Painting wall tile is one thing, but painting a floor is another.  Don't try to paint the tile you'll walk on.  Even with the best adhesive, that paint will just scrape off.  A simpler solution is to place new flooring on top of it.  I recommend laminate.  Laminate floats on top of existing floors and is easy to install, requiring no adhesive. Or you can put new tile over the old, ugly tile, which is fairly typical, and shouldn't be a problem unless the old tile is crumbling.  Good luck!  We'd love to hear how this goes.  Post before and after pics to Money Pit's Facebook page. 

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Best Paint for Paneling

I own a few older rental homes with wall paneling in their interiors. My tenants constantly ask if they can paint the paneling to brighten up the rooms. I would love to to say yes - or even paint it myself - but is that a bad idea?  If I can paint it, what kind of paint should I use?

Our Answer

Paneling's not too hard or expensive to paint - and, to your tenants' point, can make a world of difference in a space.  Just make sure to prep the paneling beforehand using a quality oil-based primer. 

Sheen is personal preference,but the sheen you choose can also make a huge difference in the final product. Resullts will probably turn out best using a flat paint or semigloss - but definitely not gloss.  Gloss will reflect every ridge and imperfection.

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How to Clean Moss from Wood

I want to repaint my porch floor and steps.  The steps are wood, and have some moss growing on them, which I need to clean off before painting.  How do I do this?  Do I first clean the steps of the moss, prepare for painting, paint, and then spray with something that will keep it from growing back?  I appreciate any help.

Our Answer

The process you outlined is correct.  In terms of what to use to keep that most away, consider Spray and Forget.  It's very effective in cleaning moss growth.
And once you eliminate that moss, be sure to sand the surface well to remove any loose paint, and then apply a good oil-based primer.  Once the primer dries, apply a good oil-based exterior floor paint.  The reason I recommend oil-based is adhesion and durability.  Latex-based finishes are great for walls and ceilings, but in my experience, they don't have the durability necessary for keeping floor paint in place - especially on moist surfaces like wood. 
It sounds like you've got this project under control.  Good luck!