Home Improvements to Tackle During Self-Isolation | Ep. 78

Paint roller with blue paint on it, resting on an open paint bucket
If you’re thinking of painting your home’s exterior during self-isolation from COVID-19, we’ve got expert advice to make it successful.

Self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic has driven up demand for building materials as more and more homeowners tackle do-it-yourself projects.

But there are the projects you plan to work on, and then there are those that surprise you and you’re not sure what to do about them.

Maybe you suddenly took a good look at your concrete steps and noticed they’re worn and chipped. You know that fixing them doesn’t require replacing all of the concrete, but you’re also not certain about the best solution.

Or self-isolation has you spending more time on the porch swing, and you noticed how worse it looks for the wear after constant exposure to the sun. But, how to restore it is a mystery.

Perhaps you’re ready to paint or stain a project, but you want to do it right this time and need to know about the kinds of additives you’ll need. (There are some that prevent mildew, insects and even brush strokes from compromising the project.)

If you’re thinking of one of these projects during self-isolation, we’ve got expert advice to make it successful.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for these and more home improvement tips!

  • [ 2:22] ‘My porch swing has been exposed to the hot afternoon sun. I need to refinish it, but which varnish should I use?’
  • [ 6:13] ‘How do you replace expansion joints in a driveway?’
  • [ 9:43] Discussing paint and stain additives such as mildewcides, insecticides and brush-stroke eliminators
  • [ 13:46] ‘I have a sulfur smell in the water heater. What can I do about it?’
  • [ 15:25] ‘What can I do to remove scuff marks on my composite kitchen floor?’
  • [ 16:48] How to cut the bottoms off mason jars for crafting
  • [ 18:08] Best New Products: Samsung High-Efficiency Top-Load Washer
  • [ 19:54] ‘The rubber backing from my throw rugs is stuck to the ceramic tile floor — how can I remove it?’
  • [ 21:33] ‘What is the best product to clean the outside of the gutters?’
  • [ 24:21] ‘The wood siding on my home is dirty and turning green. What’s the best cleanser to use to wash my siding?’
  • [ 26:10] ‘My concrete steps have some chunks and chips missing. What can I do about them?’
  • [ 28:44] Simple Solution: A great way to store driver bits using a fishing accessory
  • [ 30:32] Question of the Week: ‘How can I keep squirrels off my bird feeders?’

Simple Solutions

Gravel Entry — Traffic in and out of a shed will often trample down and wear out the ground near the entrance. As a result, the area will become sunken, and turn into a soggy, muddy mess after a rainstorm.
To prevent further erosion, make a simple landing pad out of a few 2x4s and some gravel. Build a rectangular frame out of pressure-treated 2x4s and set it on the ground in front of the entrance.
Use a shovel to cut down into the ground around the outside of the frame. Move the frame out of the way and dig out about 3 inches of dirt.
Line the bottom of the excavated hole with landscaping fabric, then set the frame into place and fill it with gravel. Compact the gravel with a hand tamper or long 4×4.
Finally, add more gravel to completely fill the 2×4 frame.

Storage for Driver Bits — Keep all your screw-driving bits neatly organized with a plastic container intended for fishing tackle.
These clear containers are surprisingly durable, have hinged lids that snap closed, and feature customizable dividers for separating bits by type and size.
And the containers are super-affordable: one that’s about 2 x 9 x 14 inches costs $12 and can be divided into as many as 28 compartments.

Question of the Week

Q: Evelyn in Michigan asks, “How can I keep the squirrels off my bird feeders?”

A: Buy a squirrel-proof bird feeder, particularly one with a wire baffle that surrounds the outside, preventing squirrels’ entry. Some bird-feeders also have squirrel-proof doors that close upon detecting a squirrel’s weight.


  1. Wow, Danny – By my count, there are 13 amazing DIY project ideas I can tackle – Just in this one article alone!
    A huge shout out to you and your staff for creating content we can “really use” during these challenging times.
    Keep up the great work!


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