Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? You are not alone. Many factors can contribute to this problem. Let’s learn how fixing common door problems can be easy.

Fixing common door problems pin this image

Fixing Common Door Problems

Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? Or maybe your door rubs, squeaks, or is drafty. Regardless of the problem, I’m going to show you how to fix your most common door problems! But first, a big thank you to Schlage, the 100-year-old leading door hardware company, for sponsoring this article.

If you have common door problems, you are not alone. Many factors can contribute to them: house movement, humidity, dry air, improper installation, slamming doors, or kids swinging on them (true story). Without being able to control many of these factors, it’s important to know how to fix your door problems – as your door is often a main focal point of the room and/or entryway.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Door Not Latching:

A door that doesn’t latch properly is usually a simple fix. Lean down until you are at eye-level with your doorknob. Look at the gap between the door and the door frame. Is the latch centered on the strike plate?

latch too low on strike plate

If not, that’s why your door doesn’t latch. Here’s how to fix it. Determine the center of the latch. Remove the strike plate and move it to center on the latch.  Mark the new location of the strike plate. Chisel the door frame as needed.

chisel strike plate area out

Reattach the strike plate and test the door. You can see in the photo below the latch is now centered with the strike plate and the latch can now slide into the strike plate properly.

Latch and strike plate lined up

(Like the knob above? It’s a Schlage Plymouth in Bright Brass, but comes in a variety of finishes.)

Door Not Closing Tight Against Stop:

If your door rattles loose in the frame and doesn’t close properly against the stop, it can be as simple as moving the strike plate closer to the stop.

Important: If this problem happens on a door between the garage and the house, it could be a potential safety issue! The door between the garage and the house must protect the residents from carbon monoxide gases potentially leaking in from a car’s exhaust. With this in mind, it’s important to fix this problem immediately!

Luckily, fixing a door that doesn’t close tightly is a simple one to remedy. But, there are two solutions depending on your type of strike plate. (Is your strike plate adjustable or non-adjustable?)

door won't shut tight vs. door closes against stop

If You Have an Adjustable Strike Plate:

Look closely, does your door strike plate have a small screw holding a sliding tab to the strike plate? If this looks like your strike plate, the solution is simple.

common door problems strike plate

Loosen this screw and adjust the tab closer to the door stop.

door problems adjust latch

Tighten the screw and try closing your door again. Continue to adjust the tab until your door shuts properly and stays closed.

If You Have a Non-Adjustable Strike Plate:

Non-adjustable strike plates don’t have an adjustable tab, but your fix is still easy. Remove the strike plate and reposition it closer to the stop.

moved strike plate

Sticking Doors or Doors that Won’t Close

Look at the space around the door. Is there a gap at the top or bottom? Normally, the door will stick at the top corner opposite of the hinges because over time the weight of the door will pull away from top hinges.

To fix a door that sticks or rubs in the frame, you can try one of these fixes:

  • Tighten screws
  • Add longer screws
  • Add a shim behind a lower hinge

Let’s take a look at this french door. The door rubs at the top when trying to close it.

french doors rubbing at top

Open the door and look at the hinges. Do any of them need to be tightened? Well look at that! This door is missing a screw.

missing screw in hinge

Try to tighten the screws. If they just spin, the wood has been stripped. You can either add longer screws or fill in the holes with toothpicks.

Replace with Longer Screws

Remove the hinge screws and use longer screws that drive through the door jamb and into the framing.

long and short screw in hand

How to Fix Stripped Screw Holes:

Remove the screws from one hinge at a time. Squeeze some wood glue onto several toothpicks. Pack the hole with toothpicks.

insert toothpicks into stripped screw holes

Let the glue dry. Cut off the excess toothpick with a utility knife (or use a chisel if you don’t have your knife with you.)

chisel off extra toothpick

Drive screws back into the hinges.

drive longer screws into door hinge

Better yet, replace the screws with longer ones that will grip into the framing behind the door jamb.

Hopefully this will fix your door. You can see below the door shuts and the spacing is even between the french doors.

Is Your Door Out of Alignment?

Door still rubbing? Occasionally a door will get out of alignment. To fix this, first, look at the door and determine where the gaps are bigger.

For the door above, try simply loosening the screws from the top hinge 1/4 turn or more. If this doesn’t work, try tightening the screws into the hinges at the bottom. If it’s still not fixed, you’ll need to try shimming the door hinge.

Shimming Door Hinges:

Sometimes a door hinge needs to be shimmed to adjust the door in the frame. If the spacing is tight behind one hinge, you can adjust it slightly to correct uneven spacing around the door.

common door problem fixes

The door above still shows a tight spot near the top right hinge. To shim it slightly, add a piece of chipboard (cereal box cardboard) behind the hinge.

door problems shim hinges

If you need a thicker shim, you can use the end of a wood shim.

add shim behind hinge

Replace the screws in the hinge and test your door. Is it still rubbing?

replace door hinge screws

Recessing a Hinge:

Occasionally, you might need to set a hinge deeper into the door or the frame. You can use a chisel to remove a small amount of material from the jamb or the door. If you don’t have a chisel or are worried about taking out too much, use the small sanding bit on a Dremel.

dremel door hinges

Door Rubbing on Top:

Have a door that swells when the temperature or humidity changes? To fix a door that rubs along the top in different seasons, you’ll want to sand or plane the top. This doesn’t involve buying a ticket or boarding an airplane. Planing is removing material from the edge of wood. You can try using sandpaper with a coarse grit to sand it down, but if that doesn’t work, reach for a hand planer.

plane top of door

As you run the planer across the top of the door it literally shaves off some of the wood. Simple design, but very effective.

Door Scraping on the Floor:

door scraping floor

A door that rubs on the floor or carpet is not only annoying, but it can scratch your floors. Time to fix this problem!

Get a helper to assist with removing the door. Close the door completely.

Position a scraper or flat pry bar just under the hinge pin head. Gently tap the end of the pry bar with a hammer to raise the hinge pin. Remove the hinge pin from the top and bottom hinges first.

remove hinge pin

Remove the middle hinge pin last but have your assistant nearby to hold the door in the frame. As the assistant opens the door, be ready to lift it off the hinges.

Lay the door on sawhorses. Tape the button of the door with painter’s tape to protect from chipping.

cut off bottom of door

Use a circular saw, track saw, or power planer to remove a portion of the bottom of the door.

Plane doors from the edge to center

Replace the door and check to see if it still rubs.

Exterior Door is Hard to Open:

If your exterior door is hard to open, it might be from a loosened threshold piece. You can try to tighten the threshold screws or replace the threshold and sweep at the same time.

driving screws into door threshold

Also check to see if the door sweep has lowered. Unscrew the sweep and raise it on the door. Tighten the screws.

raise door sweep

Door Latch Sticks in the Door

If the latch is sticking in the door, you can try one of three fixes:

  • Loosen the screws on the doorknob. (Tightening the screws on your doorknob too much can cause the knobs to bind.)
  • Remove the knobs, spray a little lubricant onto the latch inside the door. Replace the knobs and turn them to distribute the lubricant.
  • Finally if all else fails, it might be time to replace the doorknobs. Believe it or not this is a quick fix and can be done in five minutes.

Save yourself the headache of doorknobs that stop working smoothly and purchase Schlage brand door hardware from the start. Schlage has been producing high-quality door hardware in a variety of types, looks, and finishes for more than a century and will continue to do so in the years to come. Whether traditional, modern, or technology, Schlage products offer a limited lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and a three-year limited electronics warranty.

How to Replace Door Knobs | Pretty Handy Girl

Squeaking Doors

Doors that squeak mean the hinges need lubrication. Simply spray a lubricant like WD-40 just under the top of the hinge pin. Be sure to have a rag handy to catch any drips.

Fixing Common Screen Door Problems | Pretty Handy Girl

Open and close the door several times to help the lubricant work its way down the hinge. Your door should be squeak free now.

Door Knob Hits the Wall

Door knobs that hit a wall can put dents or holes in the wall if left alone. The solution is quick. Either add a door stop behind the door at the baseboard…

door stop behind door at baseboard

…or add a hinge pin adjustable door stopper to the top door hinge.

hinge pin adjustable door stopper

Drafty Doors

Cold drafts wafting in around your door? The solution is as simple as installing (or adjusting) the weatherstripping. If you can see light coming in around your door, it’s guaranteed to let drafts in too!

Adding Foam Weatherstripping | Pretty Handy Girl

Simply adding adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping around the door will stop those drafts in their tracks.

Look Ma, no more light, no more drafts!

Adding Foam Weatherstripping | Pretty Handy Girl

Adding a door sweep to the bottom of the door will keep out drafts from the bottom of the door. In addition, a well-fitted sweep will also keep insects and spiders from making an entrance under your door.

white door sweep on yellow door

That pretty much sums up fixing common door problems. Next time you have an issue with your door, you can fix it yourself!

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Disclosure: This article has been sponsored by Schlage. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m very particular about the brands I work with. I only recommend products and brands that I use myself. I was compensated for my time, but I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own.

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How to Fix common Door Problems

I’m a serial upcycler. When I can find relatively free materials and turn them into something worth displaying, I’m thrilled! This Magnetic Chalkboard frame is one of those upcycled projects I am proud of.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame

Earlier in the week, I showed you the changes I made in my oldest son’s bedroom. One of the switches I made was to replace his bedroom door because the old one had cracked after one too many slammings. Ugh, cheap hollow door.

In an effort to keep my son from taping all types of signs to his new door, I found an ugly old frame and married it with some scrap metal from a junky set of shelving a neighbor was throwing away.

bookcase in love with ugly frame

That’s not real wood, it’s metal…fake wood metal. Yuck. Wait until you see how they were transformed. You won’t believe your eyes, so watch closely how I made this Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame.

Before you leave this tutorial thinking you can’t possibly make this project because you’ll never be able to find cheap faux wood shelves, let me share with you some alternate materials you can use!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Magnetic Material:

Non-Magnetic Material for Chalkboard:

Now that you have some additional material options, let’s get busy making a Magnetic Framed Chalkboard (or just a framed chalkboard).

Materials:

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Optional: You may need some Goo Gone, a scraper, and rag to eliminate any glue on the back of the frame.

Instructions:

Begin by cutting your metal (or backing) to fit into the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Paint one side of the metal with chalkboard paint. Let it dry. Apply a second coat of chalkboard paint. Let it dry.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

While the chalkboard paint is drying, time to work on the frame.

If your frame has paper on the back, peel it off and use Goo Gone, a scraper, and sander to remove any of the glue residue.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

 

When the chalkboard paint has dried, insert it into the frame, chalkboard side up from the backside of the frame (are you seeing where I’m going with this?)

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

The back of the frame is much prettier than the front, but in order to hold the chalkboard in place, we need to cut some picture molding. Cut the end of your molding at a 45 degree angle. Fit it into the frame and mark where to make your second cut.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Continue fitting and cutting molding around your frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Once all four pieces of molding fit, you are ready to secure them.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Apply a bead of wood glue along the inside edge of the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the molding pieces in place and wipe up any glue that squeezes out.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Clamp the molding pieces and the frame. Allow the glue to dry for at least an hour.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

When the glue has dried. Attach two D-rings to the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Season the chalkboard with the side of a piece of chalk. Then use a dry rag to buff it off.

Time to hang it up! (In my case, I hung it on my son’s door.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

To keep the frame from bouncing any time the door is opened or closed, I put a 3M Command velcro strip between the bottom of the frame and the door.

Now my son can put up pictures, messages, and more without damaging the door.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Pretty cool huh?! Would you ever guess the back of an ugly frame and metal shelves could look this beautiful?

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

I especially like the little metal fasteners showing in the corners of the frame.

Tell me, do you have an ugly frame hanging around your house? Have you ever looked at the back and found it more beautiful than the front?

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Today’s tip is one that is gentle on your washer (HE and regular), but most importantly it will save you money! If you’ve ever looked at the cost of laundry detergent, you may have choked at the cost. I have a wonderful recipe to make your own Liquid Laundry Detergent for only $1.25 per year! And the detergent is low suds and low residue which will keep your washer and clothes cleaner.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

How to Make DIY Laundry Detergent

If you think this detergent couldn’t possibly work on dirty clothes, think again. I can tell you that in addition to our regular clothing, I’ve been using this recipe for 9 years on my boys’ clothes, on my own work clothes, and my husband’s karate clothing. And it really works. Whatever stains don’t come out in the wash are no match for my DIY Miracle Stain Remover.

The ingredients for the laundry detergent are simple and can be purchased at your grocery store. Just look on the high or low shelves in the laundry detergent aisle. If you can’t find them there, you can also look at your local hardware or home improvement store.

To make the detergent, you only need about 15 minutes and then let the detergent sit overnight. The next morning, you stir, add more water and you are done! Do you think that’s too much time to devote to making laundry detergent? What if I told you that this batch lasts our family of four (did I mention two of them are young boys) six months or more.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Click Here to Download the Printable Version of the Recipe

Laundry Detergent for $1.25 a Year

Several of you asked me to make a video showing how I make my own detergent. For your convenience you can watch the video, then scroll down to read the directions.

Ingredients:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Please note, you can purchase these items cheaper at your local grocery store or hardware store. The links are here to help you see what the box looks like or to order if you can’t get to the store.

Optional: Essential Oil for Scent (see below for scent ideas)

Instructions:

  1. Cut Fels Naptha Bar in quarters. Grate one quarter of the Fels Naptha Bar using a fine cheese grater.
  2. Boil 1 cup of water. Pour grated Fel Naptha into pan of boiling water. Stir continuously until the soap has dissolved. Meanwhile, pour 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water into a large container or bucket. Pour dissolved Fels Naptha into the bucket of water. Stir.
  3. Add 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda and 2 TBSP Borax to the bucket.
  4. Add 2 1/2 quarts more water and stir.
  5. Cover the mixture and let is sit overnight out of reach of pets or children. Uncover the bucket and stir the gelatinous mix.
  6. Add 5 Quarts (20 cups) of water to the bucket. Stir.
  7. Add 15-30 drops of essential oil of your choice.

Some essential oil scents you may like:

Citrus scents: lemon, lime, orange, bergamot, or grapefruit
Herbs scents: peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, basil
Other scents to try: Eucalyptus, chamomile, cypress, lemongrass
Want to fight mold & mildew? Use Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)

Blends to try:

  • basil & lemon
  • lavendar & lemon
  • orange, bergamot, and lemon
  • chamomile, lavender, and orange
  • lemon & tea tree

Miracle Stain Remover Recipe:

If your clothing gets stained, try soaking in this miracle stain remover a day or two before laundering. You’ll be amazed how the stain lifts out effortlessly.

miracle stain remover

How did I figure out my cost per year?

I had to do a little guestimating to figure out my cost. In the nine years I’ve been making this recipe, I’m only on my second box of Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.

Each batch of DIY laundry detergent consists of at least 4o cups. If you use the required 1/4 cup per load (do not use more, as more detergent won’t get your clothing cleaner) you can easily get 160 loads from each batch.

All this to say, I came up with a very conservative estimate that I pay $1.25 for laundry detergent per year!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Storing Your Laundry Detergent:

When I first started making this recipe, I used my empty laundry detergent container. But, it was often too small for the batch size. Next, I used an empty 2.5 Gallon Water Jug. But, several years ago I bought a big glass drink dispenser and a smaller bottle with a flip top stopper. The smaller bottle is filled and used for dispensing detergent into the 1/4 cup measuring cup and then added to the washer. The large drink dispenser holds all the excess detergent. This is a prettier solution to storing all the detergent.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Pretty Handy Girl

Gift Idea:

Once you try this DIY laundry detergent, I know you’ll love it. And then you’ll want to share this recipe with everyone you know! I like to share the recipe with a small sample amount in a laundry themed basket.

DIY Laundry Detergent |Pretty Handy Girl

If you want more uses for that big box of Borax, check out my 2 Ingredient Ant Killer!

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Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

 

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If you want professional-looking tile floors (regardless if you want to do it yourself or hire someone), you must read this article to find out what tiles to buy, how to avoid cracked tiles, and risk a finished tile floor that is less than professional-looking.

11 Must See Tips for DIY Professional Looking Tile Floors11 Must-See Tips for Professional Looking Tile Floors

I’m here to tell you, YES, you can lay your own floor tile and achieve professional-looking results if you learn a few tips and tricks. First, can I share a secret with you? Seven years ago I thought I had to hire a tile installer when we had our mudroom tiled. I wish I knew then what I know now because I would have kicked that installer out of my house immediately. I still have to look at some of the issues he left behind pointing to a less than professional looking tile job. (Insert Angry Face Emoji!)

But, I completely understand if you still want to hire a professional tile installer for any number of reasons:

  • No time
  • Don’t have the tools
  • Physical disabilities (tile-setting is tough on the back and body)
  • No desire to install tile

Did I miss any reasons? If I did, leave me a comment below letting me know why someone wouldn’t want to embark on a DIY tile flooring project.

Before we get to my tips, I want to give you a little education on tiles. Especially if you had problems previously and thought it was your fault the tile job didn’t look professional. Believe it or not, your issues may have been caused by cheap or poor quality tiles. Say what?!

How to Spot Poor Quality (Cheap) Tiles:

Did you know those tiles you are saving a boatload on may not be quality tiles? Did you even know there were inferior quality tiles? Yes, it’s true. A few years ago I hired a tile installer to help me tile some of the bathrooms in the Saving Etta project. (Yes, I could have done it myself, but I’d still be tiling if I did everything myself.) When I first met the installer, he asked me about the tiles I had purchased. I showed him the boxes and he opened several to inspect them. This is what he was looking for to determine if they were cheap tiles:

  • Color – Pull tiles from several boxes (if possible) and check to see that the color is consistent for one color tiles. (Obviously, if they are supposed to vary in color and pattern that’s okay.) Regardless, you should always pull tiles randomly from several boxes when laying tile.
  • Size – Pull random tiles from several boxes and stack them together. They should be identical. Poor quality tiles can vary up to 1/8″ in size. This will cause issues especially if you are using a small grout joint.
  • Printing – Many ceramic or porcelain tiles are printed to look like real stone today. Take a close look at the surface. Is the printing evident? Do you see small dots like a printed newspaper photo? If you can’t see them easily, the printing was well done.
  • Thickness – In addition to the overall dimension of the tiles, you should check the consistency of thickness.
  • Warping – Are your tiles perfectly flat or do they bend? See below for a picture of two 4″ x 12″ tiles that show some bowing in the center of the tiles.

(To eliminate accentuating this defect, you wouldn’t want to install these tiles with a 50% offset (shown below). Instead, a 25 or 33% would be a better staggered joint pattern.)

bowed tiles at 50% offset shows shadows and lippage

  • Wedging – Square and rectangular tiles should be cut square. Out of square tiles could would impact your tile job and show up especially in the grout joints.

Typically you can expect good quality from tiles that are labeled as Standard or First Grade. Second grade tiles will have more variations in appearance. Independent tile shops are the best place to purchase good quality tiles. They typically sell to designers and tile installers, but also sell to the general public. Granted, you will likely pay more. But, you know the old saying, you get what you pay for.

Picking Tiles:

Tiles are tiles, right? Wrong, there are many tiles that would not be suitable for a floor. And some tiles are not good for high traffic areas. Finally, some tiles are not a good fit for showers. How can you tell which tiles are best for use in specific areas?

Floor Tiles vs. Wall Tiles:

Floor tiles must be strong enough to handle walking on and an occasional dropped item. Did you know there’s a rating for tile strength? It’s called a PEI rating.

A PEI of 1 is ideal for walls. PEI of 2 is best for bathrooms and kitchens. And a PEI of 3 is appropriate for all residential applications. Meanwhile, PEIs of 4 and 5 are applicable for commercial and heavy commercial applications. When shopping for tiles, they may not have the PEI rating displayed, but there should be a notation if they are acceptable for floors and walls. If you don’t see a notation, ask a salesperson or check with the manufacturer.

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

How Slippery Are Your Tiles?

Floor tiles must meet certain criteria for COF or coefficient of friction (basically how slippery the tile is.) But, different areas need different COF values. Let’s talk strictly for residential purposes (because commercial and business sites are a whole other beast). Floor tiles in a bathroom with a shower or tub must meet a greater than .42 DCOF test.  Tiles that score less than .42 would only be appropriate for areas that will be kept dry or walls.

Polished tiles tend to be more slippery. Tiles that have texture usually score better on the DCOF test, but depending on how textured, they can be harder to clean.

Are marble and natural stone tiles good for floors?

Oh the beauty of real marble! I know, I know, I love marble too, but would it be a good choice for your floor? This depends on several factors. The first being the use of the room. If using in a kitchen or room with a lot of traffic and opportunities for spills, you’ll want to steer clear of marble and stone products that can wear or stain easily. Of course, you can seal your tiles, but the upkeep will be a lot more than porcelain or ceramic tile. But, if you are okay with your floors showing off natural wear and patina, go for it.

Porcelain vs. Ceramic – What’s the Difference?

Porcelain tiles are stronger and more dense than ceramic tiles. They don’t absorb as much moisture as ceramic tiles (Porcelain tiles must be tested and absorb at 0.5% or less to be certified porcelain.) Because they absorb less, porcelain tiles are more ideal for shower floors or areas that stay damp or humid. While porcelain tiles will usually be stronger, thicker, and less porous, they can be tougher to cut and more expensive. Ultimately you can use ceramic tiles on your floor, as long as they meet a 3 or higher PEI rating (as discussed above).

How Many Tiles Should I Order?

Typically most tilers would suggest you order anywhere from 15% -20% extra for your job. If you are using small tiles, you can order as little as 10% overage. Usually, I order 15% because it’s better to have a few left over to keep on hand should you ever have to replace a tile. Besides, it’s a real pain if you run out of tiles mid tile job.

Know Your Finished Height:

If you are picking out tiles, be sure you know the difference in height of adjoining rooms. Choosing your floor tile can mean the difference between perfectly matched floor levels or the need for a transition strip (or worse, a step up or down!) Luckily there is a transition strip for most floor differences.

Tools:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

I’m a big advocate of having good tools. Having a good tile cutter means the difference between flying through a tile job or having it drag on for an eternity. A good tile cutter also reduces waste because they cut tiles cleanly.

When possible, I prefer cutting the majority of tiles with a scoring tile cutter. It’s quicker, a lot less messy, and clean up is as simple as brushing off the platform.

Occasionally I’ve run into tile that resisted cutting on my scoring cutter (thick porcelain tiles usually fall into this category). For those tiles, I use my wet saw. A wet saw can also cut angled and corner cuts into the tiles. I’ve used the same inexpensive wet saw for years, but when it dies I’ll upgrade to a bigger wet saw.

Recently I started using an angle grinder with a diamond blade for more precise intricate cuts or to knock off a small amount. It works faster and is less clean up than the wet saw for those intricate cuts.

Finally, if you are tiling a shower, you’ll inevitably need to cut a hole in your tiles around a pipe. For that task, I use a drill with a diamond hole saw.

My Tile Cutting Tools:

Now it’s time to learn my top tips for a professional-looking tile floor. If you are a newbie and want to learn the basics of tiling, you’ll find these two lessons helpful: Learn How to Set Tile

and Learn How to Grout.

Okay, let’s learn how to get those professional tile results that will even fool the pros!

11 Must See Tips for Professional Looking Tile Floors:

Over the years I’ve taken several courses on tile setting and worked directly with several professional tile setters. From each experience, I’ve learned a lot and now I want to share the things I’ve learned with you so your next tile job comes out beautifully.

In my video you’ll get to see the progress at the Millie’s Remodel project as I tiled the kitchen floor. I decided to incorporate the tiling tips I’ve learned into the video for you.

Watch the video for the tips and how I install floor tiles:

You can also watch the video on YouTube if you prefer (especially if you want to click on the links to the other videos I mention).

1. Flat and Sturdy Subfloor:

Like building a sturdy house, your foundation is super important. When you walk on your floor does it flex, bounce, or squeak? If so, you need to solve these issues now. Use a level and rest it in several different areas (and directions on your subfloor). Are there low spots, high spots, or a slope? If you have dips or valleys in your subfloor, you can’t get a good tile job that will last. If your floor isn’t sturdy and flexes, you will have cracked grout, or worse cracked tiles.

As specified by the TCNA (Tile Council of North America), you want no more than 1/4″ difference in 10′ and no more than 1/16″ within 12 inches. If your subfloor isn’t flat, you can learn how to level your floor here.

If you have a wood subfloor, make sure your wood substrates have the manufacturer’s recommended spacing (typically 1/8″ gap between plywood sheets.) Backer board or uncoupling membranes should be laid onto the subfloor before tiling.

Never tile directly onto new concrete. In fact, keep reading to learn why I use uncoupling membranes and how to prevent your tile job from being ruined by expanding or contracting concrete.

2. Consider Using an Uncoupling Membrane

In another previous post, I shared how to apply the orange Schluter Ditra waterproof membrane before tiling. The Schluter Ditra material also acts as an uncoupling membrane which prevents cracks in your tiles and/or grout.

After taking the Schluter workshops, I will never tile a room without an uncoupling membrane again. As a bonus, their membranes are waterproof. No more need to worry about water soaking into your subfloor and causing mold to build up.

3. Use a Good Tile Cutter

Using good tools will help your tile job go smoothly and it will keep your tile cuts from looking like a jagged mess. If you can’t afford to buy good tools, look into renting some, or ask a fellow DIYer if you can borrow theirs. (Always clean their tools before returning them. Nothing irks me more than dirty tools.)

4. Layout Tiles Ahead of Time

If you’ve heard that spending time doing the prep work will save you time in the long run, nothing could be more true than when tiling. Before I start any tile job, I always lay out my tiles first. I dry lay them out to see what I’m dealing with. First I layout a run of tiles along the length of the room and position the tiles to avoid having to cut a small sliver of a tile at either end. Then I layout a run along the width of the room making adjustments to avoid the same situation.

If I have printed tiles, I separate them into piles by their individual print design. Then when I pull tiles later I pull from different stacks. I also step back to make sure two of the same tiles aren’t next to each other (like in the example below thanks to that so-called professional I hired).

Nothing screams rookie tiler louder than two printed tiles being installed next to each other. And in the same orientation!

5. Leave an Expansion (or Movement) Joint

Despite what you might think (especially if you have perfectionist tendencies), you do not want to cut and install your tiles tight against the wall (or other objects in your room like columns, pipes, or walls.) You must leave at least 1/4 inch around the perimeter of your room or around immovable objects. Not adhering to this rule can lead to your tile floor popping up or tenting (See this article for a photo of tenting tile.) Additionally, you need to install a movement joint in any interior room at every 25 feet in each direction. However, if this room is exposed to direct sunlight or heat, you’ll need an expansion joint at every 12 feet in each direction.

6. Use Recommended Trowel Size

Tiles come in all shapes and sizes and therefore they require a variety of trowels. Be sure to check with the specifications on your tile to find out the trowel size. Or ask your tile shop representative for their recommendation. Using a too-small trowel with large tiles would cause the tiles not to adhere to the surface. And too big a trowel with smaller tiles will make it difficult to level the tiles.

7. Back Butter Large Tiles

When tiling a floor with large tiles, back buttering is a must. Typically I’ll spread the thinset mortar onto the floor and trowel through it. I’ll use the excess to scrape a thin layer over the back of the floor tile. This accomplishes two things:

  1. It keys mortar into any voids on the back of the tile.
  2. It ensures full coverage on the back of the tile.

If you don’t back butter large tile, you run the risk of having air pockets behind your tile which can sound hollow when walked on or cause the tile to pop up.

8. Use Leveling Spacers

Leveling spacers are a relatively new product, but I will never tile a floor without them again. I’ve tried several brands but prefer the wedge-shaped leveling spacers. The wedges are inserted into the tile spacer and ratcheted tight to bring tiles to the same height as the adjacent tiles. You can see how they work and how to remove the spacers in my video above. (It’s a lot of fun removing them as you’ll see!) Using leveling spacers virtually eliminates lippage on tiles.

wedge shaped tile spacer leveling two tiles

9. Clean Thinset Off Tiles

Anyone who has had to clean dried thinset mortar off tiles will never make the mistake of letting it dry on tiles. When tiling, keep your area clean. Be sure to clean off any mortar on surrounding tiles. In addition, make sure to clean thinset that squeezes up between the tiles. You want to make sure you have enough room for grout to set on top of the mortar.

10. Use Grout with Sealant

Grouting is the final step for any tile job, but if you didn’t add a sealant additive to your grout, you will need to seal the grout after the fact. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after tiling a floor is hand paint sealant on all the grout lines. And if you skip sealing all together you’re going to hate keeping the grout clean.

11. Plan Your Transition Pieces Ahead of Time

One thing that will truly set your tile floor job a notch above is using sleek transitions. Personally, I prefer using Schluter profiles strips for my floor transitions. There are a variety of finishes, sizes, and styles. Some of the profile strips are laid under the tiles for a stronger bond. Others are installed after the grout has cured. In the Millie’s Remodel kitchen, we had a big change in height between floors. I ended up using the the Schluter Reno-V profile which has an L shaped piece that slides under the tile edge during installation. (You can see the way it works in my video.)

However, in the Saving Etta house, I used simple Schluter Schiene profile strips between tile and wood flooring.

How to Speed Up Your Tile Job:

It helps to have a helper when tiling. Once you mix thinset or grout, you’re on the clock. Both will harden within a set time. If you have a helper, you can give your helper the task of cutting tiles or changing out your dirty water buckets, or mixing more thinset mortar. Speaking of mortar, never mix more than you can spread before hardening. As an experienced tiler I try not to mix more than 1/3 of a 50 pound bag of mortar. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a big boulder of thin set when it hardens.

If you can’t get a helper, make sure to fill multiple buckets with clean water before you begin. It also helps to cut some of your perimeter tiles ahead of time.

Tip for Working with Grout: You can slow the curing time of your grout if you set your mixed grout into a second bucket filled with ice water to slow the curing process. I show this in more detail in my grouting tutorial.

Best of luck tiling your floor.  I know you can do this.

Want to give something the look of zinc metal without spending money on zinc metal? You can create the look with spray paint and this technique.

How to Create a Faux Zinc Texture (with Spray Paint)

A while ago I was thrifting with a few friends and stumbled across an ugly cabinet at our local Goodwill. The metal chest had extra wide and deep storage, but the worst colors imaginable! The hot pink and mint green were disguising the true potential of the chest. Like a color-blind dog, I was able to see beyond its garish appearance. In my mind, I pictured a vintage metal cabinet with a faux zinc side and chalkboard drawer fronts.

I scooped it up and brought it home. Then the poor chest sat in our garage for months and months until I had a chance to work a little spray paint magic and turned it into….this thing of beauty:

Yes, that is the same chest of drawers! You could do the same transformation. Let’s learn How to Create a Faux Zinc Texture!

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Instructions:

Clean off your furniture piece really well. Remove any dirt or debris (I actually had to use a little Goo Gone to get rid of some sticky residue. But, lemon essential oil will also work for this task.)

Spray paint your object with automotive primer. (I prefer the automotive primer because it sticks to metal and can withstand a lot of abuse.)

Let the primer dry.

Adding a Faux Zinc Texture:

This is the most exciting part of the tutorial. I created this technique by trial and error and I’m excited by how well this method works for creating a faux zinc texture.

Getting a faux zinc texture is really easy. Just have some gloves on and use a crumpled up piece of craft paper. (A loose crumple works best.)

Spray paint your object with a thick coat of the hammered silver spray paint, (but not so thick that it runs). Let the paint get tacky by waiting a few seconds.

Then use the crumpled piece of craft paper to blot into the wet paint.

Work in small 1 foot sections and pounce the paper a few times. (Too much pouncing and you’ll lose the large textured pattern.)

Let the paint dry thoroughly. Then enjoy your beautiful faux zinc paint job!

Chalkboard Painted Metal Drawers:

For my cabinet, I chose to paint the drawer fronts with chalkboard paint for a nice contrast.

Remove the drawers from the chest. Tape over the drawer glides and slides. Mask off the drawer sides and insides by covering the drawers with tape and craft paper, leaving only the drawer fronts exposed.

Spray paint the drawers with chalkboard paint. (Use three fine coats of paint instead of one or two heavy coats.) Set them aside to dry.

Insert the chalkboard drawers back into the cabinet frame.

Add chalkboard art to your drawer fronts.

The thrifted cabinet has a wonderful texture now and the black and zinc colors work with any color scheme.

The chalkboard drawer fronts allow the flexibility for me to store and label other items inside.

I’m so thrilled with the results! I hope you try to transform your own object, now that you know how to Create a Faux Zinc Texture.

If you use this tutorial, I’d love to hear about it. Better yet, will you send me a picture?

Share this with a friend! Pin this image:

How to Stretch Tight ShoesHow to Stretch Tight Shoes

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because they were super cute, but they were a tad too tight. If you’re like me, you probably bought them and thought, “They’ll stretch out if I wear them enough.” Then a year or two later you put them on and remember why you don’t wear those shoes. They are just too tight. Frankly life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes!  I’m sure you are thinking, “Are you telling me to get rid of my uncomfortable shoes?” On the contrary, most too tight shoes can be stretched. Today I’ll show you how to Stretch those Tight Shoes and start wearing them comfortably!

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

shoe stretcher materials

Instructions:

I created this short video for you to see how easy it is to stretch your own shoes. Let me know if you have any questions after watching the video.

Step 1: Determine Tight Areas

Determine where the tight areas on your shoe are. If your shoe stretchers have plugs, you can add them to the stretchers for maximum stretching in those areas.

Step 2: Use Stretcher

To loosen leather shoes, you may want to use a Shoe Stretching spray. Spray inside the shoe. Turn the knob on the stretcher to adjust the heel stretcher. Insert the shoe stretchers into your shoe. Tighten the heel knob. Then turn the metal rod until the stretchers are as wide as they can get in your shoes.

Step 3: Set in Warm Area and Wait

Set the shoes in the sun or leave them in a warm area for 24 – 48 hours. It’s a good idea to check your shoes after 24 hours. After 24 hours my shoes were still a little big snug. I left the stretches in for another 24 hours and set them in the sun because the heat helps stretch leather.

Step 4: Try Them On Again

Time to try your shoes on. If they are still too tight. Spray the stretching spray and turn the shoe stretchers to stretch more. Wait another 24 hours.

silver clogs on table

I’m so happy I can wear these clogs comfortably! And now I can stretch any future cute shoes I buy (within reason.)

Do you have a pair of tight shoes you want to try this on? Get to it, those shoes want to be worn.

How to Install Privacy Film on WindowsHow to Install Privacy Film on Windows

Do you have a window in your house that puts you on full display? Or maybe your neighbor’s house is very close to your’s and you feel like they can see in your window (especially a bathroom or bedroom window.) Sure you can add curtains or blinds, but then you won’t get the natural light you want from your windows. Today I have the solution to your privacy needs without blocking the light. Let me show you how easy it is to install privacy film to your windows with professional looking results.

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

About the Privacy Film:

Before we begin, I have to tell you when Stick Pretty approached me about using their product I was thrilled to find they have some very attractive options for privacy film! Those of us that shop at the big home improvement stores know the options for privacy film are fairly limited. Feast your eyes on just a few of the beautiful adhesive film patterns Stick Pretty has to offer:

And there is a semi-transparent option for blurred viewing (less opaque.)

That’s not all. You can also order any of the patterns in a sheer adhesive film to dress up your windows. All the adhesive window films are customizable with white, fog, mushroom, or black designs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stick Pretty also sells tile decals (to brighten your tiles or cover up ugly tiles.)

And they offer decorative adhesive panels for use on walls, furniture, or anywhere your imagination can think of.

If you find yourself falling in love with any of the products on the Stick Pretty website, don’t forget to get 20% OFF your order if you use the code: “PrettyHandyGirl” at checkout.

Now, on to the tutorial for installing privacy film on  your windows.

Instructions:

Watch this quick video to see how easy it is to install privacy film to any window.

Step 1. Clean

Use glass cleaner and a lint free rag to clean the window really well. Make sure there’s nothing on the glass that will stick under the adhesive film (which would stick there forever until you take it off).

Step 2. Measure & Cut

Measure each pane of glass on your window. Add 1/8 of an inch, because it’s better to cut the film too big. We will cut off the excess at the end.

Transfer your measurements onto the privacy film. Use a sharp x-acto blade and a metal ruler to guide your cuts. Apply gentle pressure as you cut the film.

3. Installing the Privacy Film

Carefully peel up your privacy film and take it to the window immediately. If you wait, dust can settle onto your film.

The key to a really good adherence of the film to the window (with no bubbles or wrinkles) is to use a mixture of water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle.

It also helps to use a good squeegee.

Spray a liberal amount of the water and soap mixture onto the glass. If you find the film sticking too much to the glass, spray more of the mixture onto the glass.

Line up the film at the top. Using your hands, push from the center, down and out to set the privacy film. If needed, lift the film and reposition.

Use the squeegee to push out any water and air bubbles. Again, working from the center out and top down.

Use a clean rag and run it along the edges to clean up any water that has squirted out.

Step 4. Trimming Excess

If your film is too large and overlaps off the glass, take a sharp x-acto knife and cut off the excess. Peel off the trimmed excess.

Then squeegee the film again and clean it up any water from the edges.

You can see the difference between the regular window glass and the glass with privacy film on it below.

Half installed window privacy film see the difference

After installing your privacy film, you may see some ghosting between the film and the window. As long as you have pushed all the air bubbles out of the film, the ghosting should go away after a few days. (Can you spot the ghost spots in the picture below? Within 48 hours they had disappeared.)

Hopefully this tutorial will help someone reclaim some privacy in their home without giving up natural light! Pin this image to share with a friend:

How to Install Privacy Film on Windows

Friends, I have a question for you:

I decided to let the video tutorial guide you through the process on this tutorial instead of the usual step-by-step photos. Let me know what you think and if you miss the photos when there is a video tutorial. Thanks for your feedback.

Disclosure: Stick Pretty sent me the privacy film at no cost to try out on the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to say. All opinions are my own. If you use the coupon code: “PrettyHandyGirl” on the StickPretty.com website, you will receive a discount and I will receive a small percentage of the sale. As always, I am very particular about the brands I represent on this website and will always let you know if you are reading a sponsored post or if I received free materials.

If you liked this tutorial and want to add a layer of security to your glass doors or windows, you’ll appreciate my tutorial for adding security film to your home.

How to Add Security Film to Glass Doors & Windows | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

If you’ve been browsing Pinterest lately or flipping through the pages of your favorite home design magazine, you’ve probably seen (and likely fallen in love with) real cement tiles. Cement tiles are trending, so much so that porcelain and ceramic lookalikes are popping up at most tile retail shops. The first thing you’ll notice about real cement tiles, is the price tag can be steep. What you probably don’t realize is cement tile can be a bit trickier to work with than standard ceramic or porcelain tiles. Don’t let this dissuade you, because today I’m going to show you how to install those beautiful authentic cement tiles and achieve professional results. Plus, because we’re friends, I’m going to share with you my affordable source for real encaustic cement tiles!

Cement Tile Look Alike on Bathroom Floor

Cement tiles purchased from most tile retailers can run upwards of $20 per square foot. But, I’m about to let you in on my secret tile source. Shhhh, lean close so I can whisper it in your ear. “TheBuilderDepot sells real cement tiles for less!”  In fact they sell more than just cement tiles and their prices can’t be beat! You might remember I used beautiful marble subway tiles from TheBuilderDepot when I was renovating my kitchen.) The Builder Depot offers popular tiles at a discount because they cut out the middle man. (Here’s a brief explanation on why their prices are lower than other retailers.)

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Seeing those beautiful cement tiles and a great price prompted me to contact my friend at The Builder Depot and ask him about being a Saving Etta sponsor. He agreed but on one condition; he asked me to write a tutorial on How to Install Cement Tiles and discuss the pitfalls and risks associated with improper installation techniques. Apparently customers were unaware of the proper way to install cement tiles. In fact, even seasoned tile installers were making costly mistakes because they were treating cement tiles like ceramic and porcelain tiles. There is a big difference between them.

What’s the Difference Between Cement Tiles and Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tiles are slick (often shiny) and aren’t absorbent on the surface.
  • Encaustic cement tiles are highly porous and absorbent from the surface to the base.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles can be grouted immediately after the thinset mortar has cured.
  • Cement tiles must be sealed before grouting or you risk the grout staining (or permanently sticking to) the surface.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles do not need to be sealed.
  • Cement tiles need careful handling to avoid staining and scratching the tiles.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles are forgiving and can stand up to a lot of abuse.
  • Encaustic cement tile patterns are created by pouring different colored clay baked into the tile. It’s not merely a coating.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tile patterns are applied in the glazes (painted on top of the tile).

Here’s a beautiful video showing exactly how encaustic cement tiles are made:

Now that you know more details about cement tiles, you can have a beautiful cement tile floor. But, you need to follow this tutorial closely. (Almost all these instructions will apply to installing cement tiles on a wall, so keep reading.)

Making Manzanita's tile shower niche cement tilesCheck out this beautiful bathroom makeover with a Cement Tile Niche
by Making Manzanita

How to Handle Your Cement Tiles:

When you receive your cement tiles you’re going to be tempted to rip open the box and rub your grubby hands all over the smooth tiles (or am I the only weirdo that likes to stroke tiles?) Regardless, before you open the box, wash your hands. Cement tiles are EXTREMELY porous and will absorb oils and stain easily. Until you get to the sealing step, you’re going to have to handle these tiles with care (kid gloves wouldn’t be a bad idea.) Lest you think you can seal the tiles before installation, don’t try it. The tiles have to be porous to release moisture while the mortar is curing. If you seal it ahead of time, there’s a good chance your tiles will develop a ghosting appearance.

Cement tiles can scratch easily. Keep the packing material between the tiles until you are ready to install them. Don’t mark your tiles with a pencil or pen for cutting (unless you will be cutting off the marks.) Even faint pencil lines can’t be easily removed from the tile surface.

How to Prepare Your Floor for Cement Tiles:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Just like when you paint a room, you’ll get the best results if you take the time to prep your space before you begin.

Before laying tiles on your floor, you must put down a substrate to prevent future flexing that can lead to cracks in your grout or worse in your tiles. Typically tile installers will use cement backer board. But, because the cement tiles are so thick, I chose to use an uncoupling mat to reduce the finished floor thickness.

cutting uncoupling mats.

Measure and cut your mat (or cement board) with a utility knife. Dry fit the mats (or boards) before proceeding.

Whichever substrate you use, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. For improved waterproofing, you’ll want to cover seams with the recommended seam tape. For completely waterproofed floors, add seam tape around the perimeter of the room (as shown in this video.)

Installed uncoupling mats, finding center of room. Marking perpendicular lines.

Next find the center of your room and mark perfectly perpendicular guidelines to use as a guide when laying out your tiles.

Layout cement tiles starting in the center.

Dry fit the tiles with spacers in your room before you begin. Make any adjustments to the tile layout or pattern before you begin.

Dry run. Layout cement tiles before installation

How to Install Cement Tiles:

With your substrate installed, it’s time to install your tiles. Before we begin, make sure you have these tools and materials. A quick note on cutting the tiles. You can use a score and snap manual tile cutter for straight lines, but nothing beats a wet saw for angled and more complicated cuts. If you don’t want to buy a wet saw, you can rent one. Tile setting is a one person job, but it helps to have an assistant to speed things along by making cuts and mixing more mortar and grout.

Materials:

Instructions for Installing Cement Tiles:

Here’s a video I made to help you learn how to install cement tiles properly and keep them looking beautiful!

Mix your thinset mortar according to the package directions. (I usually try to achieve the consistency of peanut butter.)

Prepping Your Cement Tiles:

One of the most important tips for working with cement tiles is to soak them in water before installation. Allow them to soak for at least 30 seconds before laying them into the mortar. If you don’t soak them, the tile will absorb too much moisture from the mortar.

Soak tiles in water tub

Starting from the center of your room, apply the thinset mortar to a small area and use your 1/2” notched trowel to comb the thinset. Lay your tiles down. Lift one tile to check and see if the mortar is completely covering the back of the tile. If not, your mortar consistency may be too dry.

Avoid the temptation to lay more than a few tiles at a time.

Lay first four tiles in thinset mortar

After your first small group of tiles are set, insert spacers. Check to make sure the tiles are level and the same height. Then immediately clean any and all thinset off your tiles using a damp sponge.

Now you can move on to installing the next small grouping. Periodically check to make sure your tiles are lined up with each other and there are no lips between tiles. (Using these self leveling spacers will eliminate any lippage on tiles.)

After all your tiles are installed, block off the room and keep off the tiles for at least 24 hours while the thinset hardens.

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Sealing Cement Tiles:

We’ve arrived at the most important step when installing cement tiles! You must seal the tiles before grouting them. Use a penetrating sealer made for porous stone or cement tiles. Before sealing, make sure your tiles (and the thinset for that matter) are completely dry. You can test the tiles for any remaining moisture by laying down a piece of plastic on the tiles after installing them. If there is moisture the next day when you lift the plastic, they aren’t dry enough. Wait for them to dry or you could risk discoloration of your tiles.

Clean the tiles by sweeping off any debris and clean with a ph balanced cleaner (a bucket of warm water with one drop of dish soap is a good cleaner.) Let the tiles dry. Wipe or buff with a rag.

Pour the sealer into the dish pan. Dip your pad applicator into the sealer liquid. Squeeze off excess sealer against the edge of the dish pan.

Apply sealer with pad applicator

Apply the sealer in thin coats working in one direction. Remove any excess sealer from the tiles BEFORE it dries. (See the streaks below? Those streaks and any puddling needs to be buffed off to avoid uneven drying.)

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

Let the first coat of sealer dry completely. In fact you may want to take a break for 30 minutes or so between coats.

Buff off excess sealant from tiles.

Be prepared to apply many coats before your cement tiles are fully sealed. (My tiles needed 5 coats to seal them. Then I had to wait another 24 hours for the sealant to fully cure before grouting.) It may seem like a long process, but this insures the tiles will withstand regular use and resist stains.

After each coat of sealant dries, you need to test to see if the cement tiles are completely sealed. Drip water onto the tiles. If the water beads up, they are sealed. However, if the water absorbs into the tiles, add another layer of sealant and try the water test again later.

Water beading up on cement tiles means it's ready to grout.

Once your tiles are fully sealed, wait 24 hours before grouting.

How to Grout Tiles:

Because I work alone, it takes me a little longer to grout. To prevent my grout from hardening too quickly, I like to float my mixed grout container in a bucket of ice water to slow down the setting action.

Load up your float with fresh mixed grout. Holding your grout float at a 45 degree angle against the floor, spread the grout over the gaps between the tiles in a diagonal motion. Work in small 3 – 4 square foot areas. Then scrape any excess grout off the tiles using a clean grout float.

grouting tiles with grout float

Immediately wipe off any excess grout using a clean damp sponge. Ring out and refresh your sponge with clean water frequently.

It is imperative to get all the excess grout off the tiles or you risk the grout staining or settling into the tiles. Go ahead and move on to the next section, but go back to the previous tiles and buff off any haze with a dry rag.

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

After the grout has cured, clean your floors with a pH neutral mild cleanser. Then apply one final coat of penetrating sealer. A new coat of sealer should be reapplied every 6-12 months for floors, and every 2-3 years for wall tiles.

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

Cement Tile Maintenance:

To protect your beautiful cement tile floors, clean up any spills immediately. Never leave anything sitting on the floor that could stain or scratch your tiles. If your tiles get scratched or stained, you can use a fine grit sandpaper to sand off the stain. Just be sure to re-seal your tiles after sanding.

Still on the fence about installing cement tiles in your home? This is a good article breaking down the pros and cons of cement tiles.

A big thank you to The Builder Depot for providing the laundry room tiles for the Saving Etta project and for giving me excellent instructions for installing the cement tiles. What do you think? Do you love the cement tile look?

Laundry Room with Avington Cement Tile Floor.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Happy tiling!

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Disclosure: The Builder Depot is a proud sponsor of the Saving Etta project.  I was provided with materials for this project. I was not told what to write. All opinions and ideas are my own.

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If you liked this post, you’ll also find these tile posts helpful:

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Tile a Backsplash

 

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Grout Tiles

Top 16 Gift Ideas for the DIY Enthusiast

Cyber Monday is the perfect day to look for online deals and steals. Even if you missed Cyber Monday, I have some stocking stuffer ideas for your little (or big) DIYer? These are gift items I know any DIYer would love to have in their stocking. In the list are items I’ve found useful while working on a variety of projects this year (including building a whole house.) Here’s my list of 16 gift ideas for the DIYer in your life (in no particular order):

 

  1. Swanson Framing Square
  2. Iso-tune Bluetooth Noise Reducing Headphones
  3. DeWalt Battery USB charger adapter
  4. Workman’s Friend Barrier Cream and Moisturizer
  5. 10-in-1 Painter’s Tool
  6. Kreg Jig
  7. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
  8. Rockwell Oscillating Tool
  9. Stanley FatMax Fit in Hand Tape Measure
  10. Greenlee Non-Contact Voltage Tester
  11. Pro-Sensor Precision Stud Finder
  12. No Cry Safety Glasses
  13. DeWalt Random Orbital Sander
  14. RZ Re-usable Dust Mask
  15. DeWalt Jobsite Bluetooth Speaker
  16. Hand & Body Warmers

About my gift suggestions:

Swanson Framing Square – This year I’ve used this framing square for many framing and cutting needs especially when using my circular saw. In addition, I’ve used it to scribe a line for ripping lumber with my circular saw. Any good carpenter would be lost without a good framing square.

Iso-tune Bluetooth Noise Reducing Headphones – When you are trying to protect your hearing (but dread using ear plugs), this set of noise reducing ear buds will keep you happy and safe as you jam to your favorite tunes while working.

DeWalt Battery USB charger adapter – While preparing for Hurricane Florence, I pulled this USB charger adapter from my tool box and brought it inside. Although I didn’t have to use it, this little adapter has been invaluable for freeing up the outlets while my crew and I were running on conditional power. (It does require a DeWalt battery to attach to for charging.)

Workman’s Friend Barrier Cream and Moisturizer – I’m very particular about hand lotions. They have to provide a lot of moisture without leaving a greasy feeling. The Workman’s Friend moisturizing cream in my opinion is the perfect consistency, but it also acts as a barrier cream keeping your hands cleaner after a day of getting dirty.

10-in-1 Painter’s Tool – I didn’t think there was any way to improve on the standard 5-in-1 painter’s tool, but Purdy proved they could do it. Tucked into the handle of this tool is a small flat head and philips head screwdriver. In addition to the screwdrivers, you can also use this tool to set nails, scrape, open cans, spread compound, open/clean cracks, clean rollers, pull nails, and hammer.

Kreg Jig – The Kreg Jig has been my favorite tool for building furniture and frames. It’s an invaluable tool for anyone getting started in woodworking. You can read my tutorial for How to Use a Kreg Jig here. Forget the more expensive models of the Kreg Jig, the K4 is all you need.

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines – This book may seem random in a list of tools, but I highly recommend everyone read this book. Chip has written a book that is full of inspiring quotes and mindsets to push you forward in any endeavor you choose!

Rockwell Oscillating Tool – This is one of those desert island tools that will get you out of a jamb and allow you to make precision cuts to molding, cut nails and score in tight spots. I never take this tool out of my truck.

Stanley FatMax Fit in Hand Tape Measure – I get it, you already have a working tape measure. But, if you try this tape measure you’ll understand my new found love for the “fit in your hand” tape measure. As a woman, I struggle with larger tape measures, but this one fits nicely in my hand, and it’s perfectly balanced if I want to drop extend it while standing on a ladder. Finally, it beats all other tape measures in a stand out competition. (Let’s be honest, it’s lots of fun to beat out the boys in a stand out competition. LOL.)

Greenlee Non-Contact Voltage Tester – Never take on any electrical job without this tool. It can test for power through wire insulation and is easy to see and hear when voltage is present.

Pro-Sensor Precision Stud Finder – This is by far the simplest and easiest stud finder I’ve used. It visually shows where the start and end of studs are in your walls.

No Cry Safety Glasses – I have a small head, but these safety glasses fit perfectly on my face without slipping down my nose. But, they also fit a larger head circumference comfortably. The No Cry Safety glasses are my new favorites.

DeWalt Random Orbital Sander – This orbital sander is another favorite tool with a dust collection bag or port to hook up to a vacuum cleaner. The hook and loop pad makes changing sandpaper a breeze.

RZ Re-usable Dust Mask – When it comes to safety equipment, you’ll be more likely to wear it if it’s comfortable. That’s why I like the RZ dust masks. The soft fabric doesn’t leave mask marks and the velcro closure provides a more comfortable fit. The inner filter can be changed as needed, and the exterior can be used over and over again. It’s better for you and the environment!

DeWalt Jobsite Bluetooth Speaker – This little bluetooth speaker has great sound, it’s small and can withstand being dropped and kicked around.

Hand & Body Warmers – Working in my unheated garage or on the job site this time of year leads to frozen fingers. I like keeping a stash of these hand warmers nearby to keep my fingers and body warmer (allowing me to work longer hours.)

I hope you liked this list of 16 Gift Ideas for the DIY Enthusiast. Anyone who works with tools or on a job site will love them too.

Do you have those old discolored recessed can lights in your home that use big hot flood bulbs? If so, it’s time for an upgrade!

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED
How to Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED Lights

Today I want to show you how to update ugly recessed can lights with energy saving LED recessed lights. This process is quick and easy, not to mention the new lights will look better, last longer, and save you money on your energy bill! What more could you want? Change out all your ugly recessed lights in no time by following this simple tutorial.

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Instructions:

Here is what my old lights look like. Not only are they ugly, but they use the large flood light bulbs that use too much energy, radiate heat, and burn out quickly. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of changing these burned out bulbs.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Want to see how quickly you can change out your lights? Here’s a one minute video (that’s how fast you can do it):

The first step to replacing these recessed lights is to remove the light bulb by simply unscrewing it from the socket. Unless you’re extraordinarily tall, you’ll probably need a step ladder for this project.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Next, find two small springs inside the baffle, as shown in photo below. They look like a wire with a loop in the center. Pull up and out on the springs to release the baffle inside your can light.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Remove the trim by simply pulling it off the ceiling.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Grab your new retrofit LED recessed light and screw the adapter into the light bulb socket, exactly as you would screw in a light bulb. It’s that easy!

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Inside the opening, find two metal clips. Squeeze the spring hinges on your LED light and insert them into the clips inside the old recessed can. These will hold the light in place.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Finally, gently push your light up into the ceiling. Believe it or not, you’re done!

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Now you have a beautiful, white, and energy-efficient LED recessed light. Take some time to admire it.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Now you can easily change out all the can lights in the room and voila, your lighting is upgraded! This is such a quick, easy, and inexpensive project. There is no point in putting it off any longer.

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to share any questions or thoughts in the comment section below. Thank you for reading!

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Liked this project? I know you’ll love these other lighting upgrades:

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

Change Out a Dated Hollywood Strip Light

 

Update Ugly Recessed Can Lights with Energy Efficient LED

How to Convert a Recessed Can Light to Accept a Hard-Wired Light