Wednesday, June 22, 2016

DIY Painting Baseboard Heaters


We have been busy the past month with the Ugly House renovation. We have the ceilings done, the floors are going in (sneak peek of the floors below!) and the trim is all picked out.

One minor project we had to finish up before we started on floors was painting our baseboard heaters. They aren't exactly the most attractive part of our house, but with a limited duct system, they are necessary. We spoke about replacing the units as a whole, but they work very well. They just aren't all that attractive in their "retro" beige color. You know it, that almond color that infested homes of the 70s and 80s.

We knew with the new tall white trim we have picked out, the beige baseboards would stand out even more. I started to research how to paint them. Turns out high heat spray paint was just the ticket. (Disclaimer: always use your own judgement and/or seek the judgement of professionals before you attempt to paint or mess with anything like a baseboard heater or anything of the electric variety). Now, our heaters don't get all that warm themselves, but of course I wanted to be on the safe side. I've used high heat spray paint on several other projects with success including a firepit and a stove. Both times the paint held up surprisingly well. I'm hoping for the same with our heaters.

Originally, I thought I could remove the cover from the heater and paint that separately outside. Our particular heaters don't allow you to remove just the cover. So, I had to paint them while they were inside. Before preparing to paint, you have to prepare the surface for paint. That means a good cleaning, light sanding and another cleaning.

Next you have to tape off around the heater (thankfully I didn't have to tape off the floors because they were removed at the time). I used heavy duty contractor paper and painters tape. I also had to cover everything in the room in case there was any sort of crazy over spray. Finally, spray painting indoors is less than ideal. So, there was a heavy duty mask involved and lots and lots of windows open to add as much ventilation as possible.

The high heat spray paint doesn't cover particularly well, so it took quite a few coats to cover each heater. I think I went through a total of 3 cans for three baseboards of varying length. So, the total investment was around $9.00 for three like new baseboards. Great change for a little bit of elbow grease.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

DIY Oil Cloth Tablecloth


We took our vintage trailer, Myrtle, out for the first time last weekend.

While we were getting ready for her maiden voyage, I had some small projects I wanted to try out (a banner for her "ugly" side and covering up some ugly storage solutions). One item I had saw on Pinterest was the idea to add grommets to a tablecloth. I decided to take it a step further to make a tablecloth that would be durable enough to last several camping seasons.

I just so happen to have one yard of striped and one yard of gingham oil cloth I had ordered online. I had originally thought I was going to use it as upholstery, so I ordered a yard of each to test out the fabric. I decided it wasn't quite right for that purpose, but it turns out to be perfect for tablecloths. The fabric is also fairly affordable and comes on a rather wide bolt.

I split the striped fabric down the middle. Since the fabric doesn't fray, I didn't have to hem the edges of the fabric. I simply had to sew each piece of the striped fabric to the gingham piece.

Once I did that, I decided to add grommets, or rather "extra large eyelets" to the tablecloth. What the grommets allowed me to do was add bungee cords under the table. It kept the tablecloth from blowing around and secured it straight to the table.

The tablecloth worked fantastic even during a windy camping trip. It wiped down very easily (even sticky marshmallows and permanent markers came right off...don't even ask why that combo appeared on my picnic table)


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DIY Self-Closing Dog Gate


Today's project is a bit on the random side. It was borne of necessity after getting a new puppy and having one dog that still thinks he's a puppy. We needed some way to keep the dogs out of our downstairs so we could keep an eye on them while potty training. Plus, they have developed a secret obsession of chewing up Barbies and stuffed Goofys which they do so under the darkness of the downstairs.

We had a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs, but with two older children, it never got shut behind them. So, we usually would hear a dog disappear down the stairs and have to chase after them to take them outside. It got really old, really fast.

After yelling about closing the gate a few hundred times over a few weeks, I decided I just needed to make a solution to have the gate close on its own.

So, I sat down and thought about screen doors that close on their own. They have a spring attached from the door to the door frame. I could fairly easily set that up, but this particular gate was adjustable, so with a spring, it would collapse on itself. So I needed to extend the gate, but only temporary because there would be times we would want to collapse it close (if we're moving items up and down the stairs...we had people over and there was going to be quite a bit of traffic, etc.) So instead of a bolt or something harder to remove, I really needed a pin that could be pulled if we needed wider access to the downstairs.

Also, I don't think I would want this set up with a baby in the house, so I wanted to be able to revert the gate back to a regular baby gate when the time comes.

Our doorway has a bit of a lip, so it was a perfect place to have the gate catch (although, adding a block of wood to create a catch wouldn't be difficult). We needed the gate to swing towards the stairs so the dogs couldn't push the gate open themselves.

So, here's how I created a self-closing dog gate.


Two pins (as pictured below, I bought a "positive locking drawbar" type pin)
Two cup hooks
Screen door spring
Optional: Paint & Paint Brush


1. Optional: Paint Gate

I decided if I was going to removing the gate from the wall, this was a good chance to give the gate a fresh coat of paint.I had some blue chalk painting sitting around, so I gave the gate a quick once over. I taped off the hardware so it would remain silver and painted just the raw wood.

2. Drill Holes 

Once I had the gate extended where I needed it, I marked where the two pieces of the gate met up. Then I drilled a hole through both pieces that was big enough to accommodate the pin. Once your hole drilled, slip the pin through the gates to keep the gate from collapsing.

You may need to trouble shoot this step. I found that my doorway was wide enough that I needed to move the metal track pieces on top to make the gate extend further out. Once I did that I realized that there was a gap in the middle of the gate, so then I had to add a new spindle (or in this case a piece of spare lath I had sitting around) so there wasn't a dog size gap in the gate. When I added that piece of wood, I had to make sure it was on the outside of the gate so it wouldn't stop the gate from collapsing.

One of the reasons I picked this type of pin is it easily opens and closes so removing it should be fairly easy.

The gate catches perfectly fine on the lip on our doorway.

3. Screw the Cup Hooks in

You will need to screw one cup hook into the wall and the other into the gate. Make sure when you add the cup hook to the gate, you pick an area that doesn't effect the gate from collapsing. You will also want to make sure the two hooks are far enough apart you can get good tension on the spring, but not so much tension that you can't remove the spring if necessary. I attached one cup hook and then played around with the spring attached to get a good placement on the second hook.

4. Attach Spring

Slip the spring over each hook. You may also want to add some felt bumpers if you're worried about the gate scratching up your wall.

Now we have a gate that stays close and gives me a bit more control on the pack of crazy dogs in our house. The gate works perfectly for the cat too because he can jump over and use his litter box without having a dog hassle him.

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