Home-improvement shows are all the rage these days, but there is one that started it all. "This Old House" premiered 40 years ago this month and to celebrate, host Kevin O'Connor joined the TODAY anchors on the plaza to share three easy DIY projects that any home owner can handle.
1. DIY an easy tile backsplash
Traditional tile can be a time-consuming process that requires a drill and 24-48 hours of drying time. Instead, try a product that acts like two-faced tape specially designed for tile. It sticks right to the wall, then you stick the tile directly to it.
Grouting can also be a tricky process and difficult to get just right. Pre-mixed grout is foolproof option. There are limited color options but it’s ready to go out of the bucket so there’s less mess and no-fuss.
- Clean the wall thoroughly to remove any grease or other debris.
- Protect the countertop area with a drop cloth. Secure the drop cloth on the counter using painter's tape, covering the entire work area.
- Measure the space between the countertop and upper cabinets. Transfer the measurements to the tile adhesive mat and cut to size using scissors.
- Peel one half of the back off of the adhesive mat, and align the unexposed section to the existing countertop to create a straight surface.
- Once the sheet is in the correct position, stick it to the wall. Then peel the bottom half and stick that to the wall.
- Repeat this process until the desired area is covered. Use a rubber grout float to push the adhesive mat to the wall for a permanent bond.
- Peel the plastic coating off of the adhesive mat, and carefully place each tile section onto the adhesive.
- Once the tile is in the correct position, push it in place with a rubber float.
- For any areas where the tile needs to be cut, hold the tile to the wall to determine the size.
- Cut the tile mat along a grout line using a utility knife.
- Repeat this process until the wall is covered with tile.
- For areas around outlets, remove the outlet cover and install a plastic outlet extension ring then cut the tile mat around it.
- Fill the gaps between the tile with the premixed grout and the rubber float. Apply it diagonally until all of the spaces between the tile have been filled with grout.
- Fill the bucket with water and using a clean sponge, wipe the excess grout off the tile, again diagonally. Be careful to only wipe the grout off the face of the tile, not the grout in between the tiles.
- After 24 hours, a haze may appear on the tile. To remove it, wipe the tile with a rag.
2. How to DIY a wainscot wall
Adding simple picture-frame molding can dress up a wall and make it look like wainscot, a form of interior wall paneling that gives a sophisticated, stylish look.
- Measure the height of the space between the chair rail (molding attached horizontally around the perimeter of the room) and the baseboard using a measuring tape. Most chair rails are about 32 inches above the floor.
- The picture frame molding should be centered between the chair rail and baseboard all around the room. An easy way to measure this is to take two pieces of 1-by-4 inch boards (actual width is 3.5 inches) and place them against the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the chair rail. The distance between the two blocks is a good height for the frame.
- To get the horizontal measurements of the frame, measure the entire width of your wall. Divide the measurement up evenly and allow for spacing between each frame. Using that piece of 1-by-4 inch board as a gauge block between each frame as a good way to separate the frames evenly.
- Purchase picture frame molding that matches this number or close to it.
- Lay out the frames in place using a piece of 1-by-4 inch board as a gauge block to set the spacing from the chair rail, the baseboard and between each frame.
- Use glue and a 18-gauge brad nailer or 23-gauge pin nail gun with headless pin nails to tack up the molding frames to the wall.
- To finish off the look of the frames, fill in any holes with wood filler. Then sand it down using a fine-grit sandpaper.
- If there are any imperfections between the inside and the outside of the frames in relation to the wall, fill in those gaps with caulking using a caulking gun.
- Paint to desired color.
3. Create a backyard fire pit
You can create an easy DIY firepit out of a fire ring and curved concrete blocks. It's perfect for both summer and fall nights!
- Dig a hole about 3-inches around the perimeter of the finished fire pit.
- Using a square shovel, dig out the grass layer and save to patch in around fire pit once it’s complete.
- Dig the remaining dirt out to create a hole deep enough for the first layer of block to sit about 6-inches deep for foundation layer of pack (mixture of gravel and stone dust).
- If working with clay subsoil, dig a hole in the middle and fill with stone to allow rain water to drain.
- Add layer of pack about 1-2-inches thick, then pack it with a hand tamper.
- Put in several more layers until the pack layer is high enough to bring the first block even.
- Place fire ring in center to use as a reference.
- Place first block tight against ring, then level and tap in place. Continue around the ring, making sure each block is level.
- Remove ring, then clean off the block and add concrete adhesive.
- Start the next course so that the joints are staggered from previous layer.
- Continue to complete 3 layers.
- Drop the ring in.
- Fill center up with 3/4 stone to bottom of ring.
- Put grass in around fire pit to fill in void.