Hear how to build a paver retaining wall, plus learn how a simple soil test can work wonders in enhancing the overall look of your yard. (3 Echoes Content Studio/microgen via Canva.com)

    Hour 1

    Hear how to install tongue-and-groove boards over a drywall ceiling, deal with peeling deck stain, clean a composite deck and more.

    Installing Tongue and Groove Ceiling Planks

    View of tongue and groove ceiling panel boards
    (Peter Thomas, Unsplash)

    A homeowner wants to install tongue-and-groove boards over his drywall ceiling, but he wants to know if there’s some type of insulation he could put on the drywall before installing the boards.  

    If you’re thinking about installing tongue-and-groove boards over your drywall ceiling, you’re gonna want to make sure you have a solid attachment of those boards to the drywall.

    That means you can’t just nail them to the drywall — you have to nail them all the way through to the joist.

    Now, as for insulation, I’d recommend using a rigid foam board that’s at least a half-inch thick. Keep in mind that once you put up the foam board, you’ll be hiding the location of the ceiling joists.

    So, first locate the joists, attach the insulation to them, and then follow the same nailing pattern with the boards.

    But, if you’ve got an attic above the ceiling, it’s actually a lot easier to add insulation up there instead of under the boards. You should have at least 14 inches of insulation in the attic, so keep that in mind.

    Before you start installing those boards, make sure you do all the staining, painting, or whatever finishing you’re planning to do.

    Trust me, it’s a lot easier to do it on the ground than when the boards are above your head on the ceiling!

    Dealing with a Peeling Deck

    Paint peeling from a wooden a deck
    If you don’t properly prepare your deck’s surface, you might just find yourself dealing with some serious peeling. (Incomel via Canva.com)

    A homeowner has a peeling problem on her 13-year-old deck. 

    “We initially stained it, but that seemed to come off after only one year. We’ve tried several stains. Any good suggestions?” she asks.

    First off, any product, no matter how good it is, is going to fail if the surface is not prepared properly. And a cedar deck is a much softer wood than you have with treated wood, so it’s easier for it to fail and have a finish fail.

    The fact that a semi-transparent stain peeled off is an indication that it never soaked into the wood, meaning previous coats of stains blocked it from being absorbed.

    To fix the peeling stain (and peeling paint as well), here’s what you need to do:

    Start with a deck brightener. This won’t add any color to your deck, but it will clean it very well. Scrub it into the deck and use a pressure washer. Get as close to the bare wood surface as you can. We don’t recommend sanding it yourself, as you could damage the wood. If you’re going to sand it, hire someone to do it.

    Once your deck is prepared, use a semi-transparent stain and sealer, like Seal Once Marine Clear Premium Wood Sealer and Stain or Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. If you like the natural cedar look, you can just use a clear wood preservative on it, but keep in mind it will eventually gray from the weather exposure.

    Remember, proper preparation is key to making sure your deck stain lasts for years to come.

    Watch: Cleaning and Staining a Wood Deck

    Spring Lawn Prep: Testing and Improving Your Soil

    Soil test; agronomist putting soil with a garden shovel into a soil sample bag outdoors
    A soil sample can be used to identify deficiencies and imbalances, helping to adjust your soil for a greener yard. (microgen via Canva.com)

    As the weather warms up, you may be looking forward to spending time outside enjoying your yard.

    However, if your lawn doesn’t look too inviting, you still have time to make it healthier and greener for the months ahead.

    The first step is testing the soil to see what the lawn needs. Depending on your location, you can send a soil sample to your county extension office or a similar agency. The results should tell you the pH level of your soil, what nutrients are deficient and how much organic matter is present.

    Some labs will also make recommendations about how to make corrections. For example, I recently had a soil test done and the pH was low, so they recommended adding twenty pounds of pelletized lime per thousand square feet of lawn.

    They went on to suggest adding eight pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer per thousand square feet as soon as the grass began to come out of dormancy and green up.

    These kinds of specific recommendations take the guesswork out of the equation and produce great results because they reduce the risk of over or under-fertilizing.

    So, even if you think you know what your lawn needs, get a professional opinion and make your yardwork efficient and effective! 

    This “Around The Yard” segment is sponsored by Pavestone.

    Cleaning a Composite Deck

    Overhead view of a clean composite Trex deck
    Regularly sweeping and washing with a gentle detergent and water solution can help keep a composite deck looking clean and new for years to come. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    If you’re struggling to get your composite deck clean, don’t worry — here are some tips to help you get it looking like new again.

    First, check with the manufacturer to see what their cleaning instructions are. They may have specific recommendations that are tailored to your particular composite decking material.

    Now, there are composite deck cleaners available on the market, but if you’re looking for something a little more eco-friendly, here’s a recipe for an all-purpose cleaner that works pretty well. Mix together some soap, water, vinegar and a little bit of baking soda. Scrub that into the deck and rinse it off.

    Another option is to pressure wash the deck, but be careful not to go too strong. Make sure the pressure is no greater than 3100 PSI, which is already on the high end. Use a wide thin spray several inches away from the deck to prevent any etching.

    To minimize mold and mildew growth, wash your composite deck on a regular basis, and trim any trees nearby to ensure that you get as much direct sunlight on it as you can. This will help to prevent any moisture from building up and causing those pesky mold and mildew spots to grow.

    Read: 5 Composite Decking Problems Every Homeowner Needs To Know

    Hour 2

    Hear how to build a paver retaining wall, deal with weeds in your yard and more.

    Building a Paver Retaining Wall

    Pavestone retaining wall
    A paver retaining wall can provide both functional support for soil retention and a decorative addition to your outdoor space. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    A homeowner’s railroad tie retaining wall is starting to fall down, and she wants to replace it with one made from cinderblocks. 

    “Do I have to put a foundation or gravel down there?” she asks.

    When it comes to building a retaining wall, you need to make sure it’s built strong because there’s a ton of pressure that comes with putting dirt behind it. That’s why we recommend using pavers instead of cinderblocks. Not only are cinderblocks not very attractive, but they also require a professional to install them perfectly. If they’re not installed correctly, they won’t look very nice and won’t be as sturdy as they need to be.

    Pavestone’s stackable pavers, on the other hand, can be easily glued together, and their design ensures that the more pressure you put on them, the stronger they become. They come in a variety of colors, styles, and textures, so you can pick the perfect one to match your outdoor space.

    To build a retaining wall, you first need to start with a level and solid foundation. Begin by digging out the area and leveling the soil, then add a crushed stone base. Make sure to compact the base with a tamp before installing the blocks.

    Pavestone’s RockWall retaining wall blocks have a lip on the back edge that keeps them leaning into the hill, so make sure to follow the instructions for the necessary overlap and pattern. As you build the wall, be sure to add construction or landscape adhesive between the courses of blocks.

    Once the wall is complete and the cap blocks are installed, backfill the dirt behind it and finish up the landscaping. 

    Watch: Building a DIY Block Retaining Wall

    Best New Products

    The Defiant Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt offers affordable keyless home entry. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Defiant Smart Hubspace Wi-Fi Deadbolt

    Smart locks have been growing in popularity. But finding an economical one that does everything you want it to do has been a challenge. The Defiant Smart Hubspace Wi-Fi Deadbolt solves those problems because it’s affordable, and can be unlocked in several ways. 

    You can operate it remotely with the Hubspace App, you can control it locally via Bluetooth through the App, you can open it with the digital keypad … and there’s the good old-fashioned key in case the battery goes out. 

    There’s no hardwiring required, so installation is easy, and you can view event logs and access history on the app. 

    The keypad is backlit for better visibility and has one master code and 10 user codes. Plus, there’s a “vacation mode” which allows you to turn off the user codes temporarily without deleting them.

    Listen to learn all about this Best New Product! 

    Find the Defiant Smart Hubspace Wi-Fi Deadbolt at The Home Depot.

    Simple Solutions

    Thick shrub in front of a front porch of a home
    If you’ve got some dense plants like shrubs or bushes that need fertilizing, you might find it challenging since it’s not always easy to reach the base of the plant. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Fertilizing Hard-to-Reach Plants — Fertilizing thick shrubs, bushes or other dense plants can be difficult because you can’t easily reach the base of the plant. Here’s how to simplify that chore.

    • Take a length of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe and cut it to 5 feet long.
    • Trim one end to 45 degrees, and square-cut the other end.
    • Stand close to the plant and slide the square-cut end down to the base of the plant.
    • Pour the fertilizer down the pipe through the 45-degree end

    The angle-cut end creates a larger, easy-pour opening. The pipe can also be used to water thick, dense plants. 

    Alley illuminated by the garden lamps in the night
    Keep landscape lights shining bright by using an automotive ignition sealer to block out moisture and prevent corrosion. (Adobe Stock)

    Fast Fix for Landscape Lights — Low-voltage landscaping lights will often flicker or fail to light up, even if the bulb is good. Before replacing the fixture, try this:

    • Turn off the electricity to the faulty light, remove the bulb and check for corrosion inside the socket.
    • Use an emery board to lightly sand away any rust from the metal contacts.
    • Spray the socket with an automotive ignition sealer, which will help block out moisture and prevent future corrosion.
    • Repeat once per year.

    Further Reading

    Editorial Contributors
    Danny Lipford

    Danny Lipford


    Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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