EP33 – November 18, 2017: Painting Stairwells, Decluttering, Cleaning Hacks, and Decorating With Kids


Thanksgiving is just days away and soon our homes will be filled with guests. For some people, this is no big deal; their homes are always clean. For others, panic is setting in as they realize their house is nowhere near ready for company and probably won’t be unless they pull some college type all nighters. But don’t worry! We’ve got some quick decluttering ideas that can be done in a weekend and some cleaning hacks that will have the house sparkling in no time.

Listen here:

Show notes for episode 033:

Painting a stairwell is a daunting task for homeowners. How in the world do you paint the edge of where the wall meets the ceiling when it's 17 feet off the floor?

Well, there are a lot of "answers" out there. But some of those answers just don't cut it in our books!

For example, one solution given on the world wide web is to tape a paint brush to an extension pole. Or, better, to use an actual paint brush extender tool that's made for the job. In either case, you've got a brush on a pole that you're hoisting way over your head to cut a straight line between the wall and the ceiling . . . . Um. Right. For an experienced contractor, maybe. For a regular DIY'er, probably not.

Shur-Line Paint Edger

Instead, try the Shur-Line Edger.  You can see it over there on the right. It's a weird little gadget that can make your day or make you so mad you'll want to toss it across a room.

There are all sorts of mixed opinions regarding this little tool. You could honestly start a mini-war in the paint store just by vocally denouncing it or praising it!

Still, for this job, it might be the perfect solution because you can put it on an extension pole and use it to edge right up to the ceiling. You'll get a straight line and be able to do all of it from the ground!

However, there's a reason this little tool can cause arguments: if you don't use it correctly, it can really cause trouble. And the most common way of using the tool the wrong way is to load it with paint incorrectly. Here's a video that demonstrates the right way to load it:

The holidays are upon us! Here are a few quick weekend projects that will help get your home ready for your guests!

This segment is basically Part 2 of the Thanksgiving Survival Guide we started in the previous segment. With the Decluttering done, now it's time to talk cleaning. And we've got some great cleaning hacks to make your life easier and your cleaning quicker!

The Oven

For quick oven cleaning, mix baking soda, water, and vinegar in an oven safe bowl to make a paste. Dab the paste onto the messiest areas in your oven and then set the bowl with the remaining paste on the shelf in the oven and bake it for 45 minutes at 100 degrees. When that's over, wipe the oven clean with a sponge! It's quick and easy! Check out this video from cleverly.com to see the process:

The Microwave

To get all that gunk that's all over the inside of your microwave, try this quick fix: put water and lemon juice (or vinegar) in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 6 minutes or so and then let it sit and cool for a little while. Then, remove it and wipe the microwave clean. The steaming effect coupled with the vinegar or lemon juice will make clean up super easy! And the microwave will smell lemony fresh.

The Shower

For those overnight guests, it might be a good idea to give the shower a once over. And here's something simple: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and Dawn Dish Soap. Spray it on, let it sit for a while (the dawn will keep the solution in place on the surface) and scrub clean. The soap scum and other gunk will wash away!

Another method is to put the same mixture in a dish wand--something with a scrubby on the end. Then, during your next shower, just use that and give it all a good scrubb!

Moldy Caulk

Moldy caulk around your tub or shower can be easily dealt with by wiping the caulk with a rag dampened with bleach. If the mold is surface mold, you'll be amazed how easily and quickly that terrible black caulk will turn white!

If the mold has established a bulkhead in your caulk, you could try a heavy gel toilet bowl cleaner that contains bleach. The heavy gel will keep the cleaner on the mold for longer, hopefully attacking the mold and whitening the caulk. After an appropriate period of time, rinse it off and measure your success!

Dusty Mini Blinds

Cleaning mini blinds is a pain. I hate pulling them down and tossing them in the bath tub and then trying to dry them off. I know I'm probably damaging the gears and mechanisms of the blinds, but I've always struggled to find a good way to get them clean. Well, here's the answer:

If they're dusty, simply use an old paint brush! Super fast! Super effective.

If they need a damp cleaner to remove other dirt, just mix vinegar and water. Then put a sock on your hand, dip it in the solution, and wipe over the blinds.

Ceiling Fan

Dusty ceiling fans are so messy! Sure there are little dusters that will go up there, but the problem is, you pull the dust off onto yourself or the surfaces below. Here's a Betsy-Approved method that will eliminate ALL of the mess:

Use an old pillow case. Just carefully slide the pillow case over the blade and then sandwich it top and bottom with your hands and pull. The dust comes off and stays in the pillow case! It's perfect!

Pet Hair on the Furniture

If you've got pet hair all over your furniture, there are a lot of different hacks out there to help you clean it off. Sure, you could use lint rollers and tape and all that, but here are a couple other options that are a little more unique:

The Squeegee. A regular window squeegee, when dragged across your furniture will actually pull the dog hair into little piles. It's really fun. It's almost relaxing. Until you actually look at the pile of fur you've scraped up and realize you've got enough to create another dog. Still, at least you've got it off your furniture!

It also works great on your carpet. And if you're not interested in crawling around on your hands and knees "squeegeeing" your carpets, consider a rubber carpet rake/squeegee! They're super inexpensive and very well-reviewed. Click here to view one on Amazon!

Decorating kids rooms can be an incredibly rewarding experience. And it can also be a train wreck! Here's how you can do involve the kids, get great results, and have limited conflict along the way!


Is It Too Cold to Paint Outside?

When the temps drop, questions crop up in the stores about painting in colder, fall weather. People are unsure how long they can effectively paint outside as the year crawls toward winter. After all, who wants to paint outside, only to find out in the spring that it has to be redone because the paint blistered and peeled?

Don’t worry! There’s still time to get one more project in, but there are some things you need to know before you paint outside as the temperature drops.

The Right Paint

The cooler the temp, the more important it is to use a low temp exterior paint. Traditional exterior paints could only be applied as low as 50°, but many paint companies have formulated paints that can be applied in the 40’s and sometimes even the 30’s. RepcoLite’s ENDURA is rated for temps down to 36 degrees and Benjamin Moore’s AURA and REGAL are rated for temps down to 40 degrees.

Important Reminders

  • Temperature ratings include night time temps. You’re looking for temps that reach 36 (or 40) or higher and remain that way for 6-8 hours after application. This allows the paint to dry and form the protective film on the surface. Also,  the temperature rating is for the surface temperature, not just air temperature.
  • The best time to paint is between 10 AM and 2 PM. By starting at 10, you give the dew time to dry before application and the surface you are painting has time to warm up to at least the minimum temperature. By quitting at 2, you are giving the paint enough time to dry before dew sets in again.
  • The short paint window is critical as the temperature drops because paint takes so much longer to dry as it gets cooler.
    • Latex takes 4 hours to dry at 70°
      • It takes at least 6 hours if it is 60° or below
    • Oil takes 8 hours to dry at 70°
      • It takes about 48 hours in cold weather
  • Paint in the sun! We normally tell people to paint in the shade, but as the weather gets cooler, it is actually a benefit to paint in the sun. The sun will help the paint dry and cure better. And it doesn’t hurt that your hands will stay warm too!

You can have great success painting outside well into the fall. It’s just important to be aware of the limitations and conditions that have to be worked around. If you follow the above tips, you will be able to squeak in that one last project before snow flies.

EP22 – September 2, 2017: Lawn Seeding 101, Must-Have Painting Tools, Electrical Questions Answered, and Basement Floor Painting


We live in Michigan where our basements can be a little scary; especially if you have an older house! There are lots of things that can be done to remedy that. But perhaps the simplest thing to do is to simply paint the floor. It’s amazing how much a coat of paint can brighten a dreary basement. We’ll help give you the confidence to tackle your floor this weekend!

Listen here:

Show notes for episode 022:

Summer is almost over. And that means our lawns have made it through the toughest part of the year. Some may have made it through the heat like champs. Others, however, may have lost the battle with heat and minimal rain, and now have featured brown and dead patches.

Don't fret! According to Matt Bakker from Landscape Design Services, you can still bring your lawn back to its glory days before snow flies. He's got everything we need to know about seeding the bare patches in our yards.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a simple task, only to find you don't have to right tool on hand. Try opening a bottle without a bottle opener (Dan!), or tighten a screw using a penny (Betsy!). It takes way more time to complete the task and there is so much frustration involved!

This same theory applies to painting as well. If you follow our list and always have these painting tools on hand, your next project is guaranteed to be a lot less stressful because you won't have to stop midway through the project (or maybe before you even begin!) to buy the right tool.

Must-Have Painting Tools Check List!

There are a lot of home improvement projects we are comfortable tackling--anything involving wood is generally acceptable, minor plumbing projects are ok, and anything involving paint is a breeze. But electrical....oh, electrical....that is a whole different story! Sure, we can change light bulbs and maybe even wire up a fan or a new lighting fixture. But when it comes to questions like "why do my lights dim when I run the microwave?" we figure it's best to ask a professional.

Lucky for us, Bill Haveman, co-owner of Haveman Electric, agreed to stop by and talk about some common household electrical questions. Hopefully, by the end of the conversation, our power concerns will be put to rest.

Miss Etta James, in the 60s, sang about all the fun you can have in the basement. But what happens if you have a Michigan basement? What if you have dark, cold concrete floors and tony spiders hanging in the corners? It's sounds more like a dungeon that a place to hang out and have fun.

But there is  solution! It's amazing what a difference just painting the floor can make. It will brighten up the space and make it feel a little less cold. And if you are concerned about tackling the project, don't be! We've got you covered with tips and tricks from start to finish.

Floor Painting Tips

  • Use a 14" or 18" cover if possible
  • Use a 3/8" nap cover
  • Use an extension pole. It will save your back!
  • Brush 2" strip around all the edges (cut in)
  • Roll paint from paint tray
  • OR try pouring paint straight out of the bucket in a line on the floor!
    • Pour a few feet from wall
    • Pour a 4" wide strip
    • Only pour as much as you can evenly spread before the paint dries
    • Could use a 3/16" nap cover with this application method
    • Work with a helper
  • Let paint dry completely before introducing light foot traffic
    • Waterborne - at least 6 hours
    • Oil - at least 12 hours
    • All dry times will be slowed even more without air circulation and/or humidity