Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | August 6, 2022

This week, learn how to clean old wallpaper and protect a wood-framed shower window from water damage. (Sandy Knollenburg/simplyzel, Getty Images)

Hour 1

In Hour 1, hear our suggestions for matching wood posts to vinyl, cleaning old wallpaper, and more.  

Matching Wood Posts to Vinyl

Split screen of an elevated porch
Matching these wooden support posts to the vinyl posts is as easy as applying a coat of paint. (Photos by Doug May)

Doug May has a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on his covered back porch. But, the view of his porch isn’t as pleasing.

“The upper part has vinyl sleeves over the top of the posts. Everything’s covered and it’s nice and smooth and white. But down below, it’s just pressure-treated wood, with all the cracks and gaps,” Doug says. 

He wants the wooden support posts on the ground to match the white vinyl posts on the porch above. What’s stopping him from covering the wood posts with vinyl is the diagonal wood braces. He’s worried about the hassle of connecting the many vinyl pieces on the diagonals and sealing them.

“What I want is the smooth look and feel of the vinyl on the posts below. Is there a way to do that?” Doug asks.  

Vinyl sleeves are expensive! If you want the posts to match, try this budget-friendly option: 

First, clean the wood posts and apply a coat of primer.

Then, use auto body filler (like Bondo) to smooth out the cracks. Once that dries, lightly sand the posts. 

Then, caulk the areas where the diagonal braces meet the vertical posts. 

Finally, apply two coats of acrylic latex paint.

Once you do this, no one will know one set of posts is vinyl and the other set isn’t! The acrylic paint will give it a glossy look and seal the joints. 

If you decide you want to cover the posts with vinyl, remove one post at a time, including the diagonal supports, and attach the vinyl sleeves to each piece. 

Miter cut the ends of the sleeves to fit the diagonal brace posts, and thoroughly caulk each seam so water doesn’t get in.

Don’t caulk the bottom of the diagonal brace pieces where the wood meets the post. If water were to get inside the vinyl, you want it to be able to drain out and dry. 


How to Clean Old Wallpaper

Old wallpaper
Original wallpaper can keep an old home’s appearance true to its age. (Photo by Sandy Knollenburg)

Sandi Knollenburg bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Bloomington, Ill., five years ago, and she’s been renovating it little by little.

Right now, she’s working on the stairwell area. The walls that extend from the first floor to the second are covered in wallpaper from the 1960s.

Sandi loves the pattern, and the wallpaper is still in pretty good shape! All it needs is a good cleaning.  

So, she wonders, “What’s the best way to clean and preserve the wallpaper?”

Most modern wallpapers have an acrylic or latex coating that makes them washable and, in some cases, scrubbable.

Older wallpaper is just plain paper, so you don’t want to get it wet. If you do, it will peel off the wall.

Try these options to remove the dirt and dust: 

  • Wipe the wallpaper with a large, dry sponge.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner.
  • Attach a microfiber cloth to a Swiffer-type mop for hard-to-reach spots.

To remove skids and scuffs, use a gum eraser. You can buy these at an art supply store.

Another option is a dry Magic Eraser. If that doesn’t work, lightly dampen it.


Hour 2

In Hour 2, learn how to prevent wood rot in a shower window, remove sediment from water, and more.


Protecting a Wood Window Frame in a Shower

Worried about water damaging a wood-framed shower window? Protect it with tile. (simplyzel, Getty Images)

A caller needs advice on tiling around a window in his shower. The wood frame sticks out slightly, so he can’t tile over it. 

“What do you do to treat that to make it so that the water is not damaging that wood and causing wood rot?” he asks. “And more importantly, (ensure) that water is not getting behind that and causing damage to the shower?”

A lot of older houses have this problem. Typically, at one point in time, the bathroom had just a tub with a window above it. Then somewhere along the way, a shower was installed. 

I’ve seen a lot of homeowners put a shower curtain over the window, but rarely does that last long.

To protect the wood frame from water damage, encapsulate the window frame with the tile. 

Before you lay the tile, be sure to caulk and paint the frame. Bring the tile up to the wood and then overlap extra tile over the window frame. This will protect the frame from the water and give it a nice, pronounced look. 

If water can still hit it directly, install a waterproof window.

To completely eliminate any chance of wood rot, remove the window and replace it with a vinyl one.  


Eliminating Sediment in Water

Sick of sediment in your water? It’s time for a new water filter. (pixelshot)

Pablo Sandoval, of Willow Creek, Calif., is sick of sediment in his water. His home draws water from a deep well and all wastewater flows into a septic tank

“For most of the year, the water supply is good, but every summer we have a problem with sediment that clogs aerators at sinks and showerheads,” Pablo says. “Plus, the washing machine takes forever to fill with water. What can we do to alleviate these issues?”

Sediment problems are more frequent in the summer because water levels are usually lower.

“During the summer months, the water table tends to fall, due in part to plants taking up water from the soil surface before it can reach the water table,” National Geographic states.

“The water table level is also influenced by human extraction of groundwater using wells; groundwater is pumped out for drinking water and to irrigate farmland.”

For Pablo, there’s less water but the same amount of sediment in the system, so it finds its way to the pump and into his house. 

Here’s the solution: Pablo will need to have a well water contractor take a look at his pump. And he might need a new well screen. 

Also, here are two options to consider:

  • Have a water well contractor install a sand separator on the pump. This device uses centrifugal force to push dirt, sand and debris outward to the separator wall and downward in a spiral motion. The cleaned water then rises and returns to the plumbing system. 
  • Install a sediment filter in the house. There are several options available, but we recommend the Braukmann Reverse rinsing fine filter.

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Simple Solutions

This Simple Solution keeps you from constantly refilling your kitchen soap dispenser. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Improved Soap Dispenser — Kitchen-sink soap dispensers hold such a small amount of liquid soap that it requires you to constantly refill the reservoir bottle. Here’s a better option:

  • Lift off the hand pump from the dispenser, pull off the plastic fill tube, and replace it with a long flexible quarter-inch-diameter tubing.
  • Feed the opposite end of the tubing down through the hole in the sink deck and place it in a large jug of liquid soap.

Now you’ll never have to refill the dispenser; simply replace the soap jug once it’s empty. 

Watch: Soap Dispenser Filling Tip

Gutter on the corner of a house with vinyl siding
If you’re installing gutters on vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse for smooth holes. (Garrett Aitken, Getty Images)

Smooth Cut in Vinyl Siding — When using a hole saw to drill through vinyl siding, run the drill in reverse. That way, the hole saw will create a nice clean hole with no rough edges.

Once you cut through the siding, switch the drill to forward and bore through the wall sheathing.


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