Give your garage a fresh new look

Most of us just use our garages for storing cars and maybe some tools and things. But if you want more from the space, you can get it - even on a budget. Start with a better floor. Not that there's anything wrong with a plain concrete floor, but you can do better. Here are some options.

Just sealing it will be an improvement. A penetrating or topcoat sealer will prevent all of the dust that comes off a standard slab floor. It also will prevent liquids from being absorbed and keep it cleaner. Most of these are just spread or rolled on a clean floor.

The next step up from that would be an epoxy floor. A standard epoxy paint for concrete is OK, but not if you park cars on the floor. Those tires get pretty hot, and when parked on a standard painted floor, they will quickly ruin it. Look for an epoxy floor paint made just for garages, and it will last a lot longer. There usually is a little bit of prep work required, and then some curing time. But you'll love the results.

There also are some great sheet floors made for garages. Check a flooring dealer for their supply and see if that works for you. These usually are glued in place and look wonderful.

Another option that is easy enough for the average DIY'er to accomplish is a tile garage floor. There are several types available, and most are easy to fit together for a new floor in just one day. Some are raised to provide extra protection from dirt and moisture issues.

Do a little shopping around and see what you can find. Then, check your budget and time constraints, and choose the material that will work best for you. After you do the floor, you might decide to upgrade the walls, weatherstripping, lighting and storage. Who knows where this will lead? That's part of the fun of DIY!

Carry propane easily

One of the great things about propane grills is you basically plug in the tank and cook. The propane tanks easily can be refilled or replaced, too. But carrying them from your house to the store and back needs to be done carefully. You want to keep it from falling over or rolling around in transit. The plastic crates that are common for storage these days are the perfect size for the average grill propane tank, so you can set the tank in one of these. And since you should never pick it up by the valve, you can use the handles on the crate to do that. What a super idea, right?

Saving your sofa

Are you a "cat person" or a "dog person"? Either way, you may have a chair or sofa that needs repair from scratching or, well, you know what. It's really just a matter of cutting out the bad part and sewing a patch over the affected area. The problem that most of us face is where to get a scrap of fabric to cover the boo-boo. You might try removing the "skirt" from the back of the chair, where it won't show, to use as patching material. If the chair or sofa has a loose pillow, you can cut a patch from the back of one of these. Just replace the patching fabric on the pillow with another fabric. Since it's on the back, it won't show. Check upholstery supplies for special needs that make sewing easier. Just give it a try. Do you really have anything to lose at this point?

Super hints

• A tension curtain rod used to hold up a shower curtain is made to be strong. In fact, it's strong enough to hold several shirts that are being dried on it. But keep the drips in the tub instead of dripping on the floor by installing a second rod inside your bathtub area or shower just for your clothes to hang on.

• I like the mats designed to go under rugs to keep them from slipping. But for large rugs, this can get expensive. I do something that seems to work just as well, and it's free. I took an old rubber floor mat and cut a piece to go on the back of the rug in each corner. I glue these on the back of the rug. This works pretty well, and it's worth every penny I spent making it!

• If you need a little extra muscle to release a jar lid, try wrapping a scrap of sandpaper around the lid before trying to turn it. This works better than anything else I've ever tried.

Q. I've scoured the tiles in my older shower and it looks so much better. But I have years of spots on the glass shower doors. How can I attack these?

A. I still swear by vinegar. Warm it up first, put on some gloves and use a plastic scrubber to rub them off. You might also get good results with a razor blade. Once clean, keep a small squeegee in the shower and have everyone wipe off the walls and shower door after each shower, and it will stay clean longer.

Q. My dishwasher smells horrible. What can I do to fix this?

A. The odor could be coming from a couple of sources. First, check around the drain to see if there is food stuck in the area. The next thing to check would be the drain line, which probably is located under your kitchen sink. It should be between the dishwasher and the house drain, creating a "trap." This works like any other plumbing trap to prevent sewer gas from coming back through the drain line and into your appliance. Pour a little laundry bleach into the dishwasher, let it sit for a few hours and then run it through a cycle. This will help clean out the pump.

Q. My patio furniture is standard metal stuff. It's a matte black, and I would like to paint it to make it look newer and maybe change the color at the same time. What would you recommend?

A. Check out the spray paints from Krylon Paint. They have a couple of spray-paint options for you to choose from, and most go on quickly without a lot of mess. They also won't require a lot of prep work. I had several types of metal furniture and wanted mine to all match, so I chose a textured brown-metal finish that had a built-in rust preventive in it. It looks just like a factory finish and now all of my pieces match and look great.

Reader tips

• My handy tip to share is something I brought home from the office. I used to collect paper clips on my job. It's like they were breeding in my desk drawer. I started using them in my shop for stuff like holding a pack of sandpaper together or attaching them to packages so I could hang them up instead of stuffing them in a drawer. I even ground one down to make a tiny screwdriver for my glasses. I keep receipts bundled from purchases I make for certain projects, too.

• My old dresser was covered with veneer. The drawer fronts and sides were good, but the veneer on the top was shot. I pried it all off. Then I found a piece of marble and had it cut to fit. I applied some building adhesive to the dresser and pressed the marble into place. It looks like I paid a fortune for it, and I just can't get over how great it looks. I think I created a masterpiece, and it's one of a kind, too.

• I'm retired now, but I try to keep my home office as efficient as I always did at my workplace office. I keep all of the appliance manuals in a binder. There is a place to note maintenance and service dates, as well as parts prices and numbers. I also have a place to write down service companies or other contact information I might need. It's a real time saver.

• My old bird feeder fell down and broke, and I didn't have another to replace it with right away, so I made my own. I got several pine cones, coated them with peanut butter, rolled them in bird seed and hung them up in the same area as the old feeder. The birds flocked to them. I just add more peanut butter and seed when they get picked clean. These won't break when they fall, either. Plus, the pine cones are all over our yard, so I'll have plenty more if these fall apart.

• I inherited a beautiful old desk from my grandparents. I've cleaned it up and applied some touch-up stain. I wasn't sure how to treat the leather inserts on the top, so I visited a leather furniture dealer and found some leather cleaner and protectant. I cleaned it and was surprised how good it looks. I applied the protectant, and it is absolutely gorgeous now. All in all, I spent about $15 to bring it back to a beautiful state again.


• With spring coming soon (not soon enough for ME!) you can put your DIY talents to work and make some wind chimes. Our plans are for a simple set made from discarded and extra hardware. If you keep odds and ends laying around, you probably have what you need. But even if you have to buy a piece or two, it won't put you in the poorhouse. It's a fun project and will entertain anyone visiting your patio or garden. The plans are free, too! They are available on our website,

• Stud finders aren't new, but we found one you just have to have. It's called the StudPoP, and it's super easy to use and inexpensive. Every toolbox should have one. The built-in magnet draws a small plunger in when you run it over the wall and pinpoints the exact locations of nails to make finding a stud easy. To see it in action, just go to

• Metal Mini Blinds are very common, and so are the bent and creased blades that they all have. Well, we found a super tool to straighten these blades out. It's called the MiniBlind RX, and it's very inexpensive and easy to use. It works on all 1-inch metal blinds. To see it in action, go to Fix 'em, don't replace them, and save your money for other projects.

• Write to Kelly Carrell online at

© 2016, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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