How To: Remove Stain From Wood

remove stain from wood

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Douglas. “What do you recommend to remove stain from an antique mantle?” Douglas, I’m assuming that we are not talking about pets stains here. Stains from pet urine blacken wood in a way that cannot be removed without replacing the wood. Removing a stained finish from wood is another story though. Wood stain penetrates deep into the wood and can’t be removed just by using a chemical stripper and scraper [...] Read on →

How To: Lead Safe Work Practices

lead safe

Last week I talked about how to properly test for lead paint. While testing for lead paint is an important start, simply knowing if there is lead or not won’t do much to protect you. You need to know how to safely renovate in a house with lead paint. I’ll cover important principles of dust control and clean up and of course give you some tips I’ve learned along the way to make the whole process much less [...] Read on →

How To: Test for Lead Paint

how to test for lead paint

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about lead paint so I wanted to try to address some of those questions to make folks feel a little safer in their old homes. If you live in a house built before 1978 you need to know how to test for lead paint, especially if you have littles ones. Lead is toxic to humans. Children under 6 are especially vulnerable to it since their bodies absorb lead at a much [...] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: How to Make Paint Go Further

Floetrol

This week’s question comes from Gina. “Is there anything I can add to paint to make it go further?” Good question Gina! There’s nothing worse than coming up just short of the amount of paint you need and having to buy another quart or gallon for just a little extra. There are a couple of additives you can put in paint to make it go further, but if you only have a drops left there’s not much you [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: Which Paint is Best For Wood Windows?

wood windows

This week’s question comes from Dave in Minneapolis, MN. Dave, before you paint anything I recommend priming your wood windows with a good oil-based primer. You can read more about primers here. Once you’ve primed you’re ready to pick a finish paint. Oil-based Paint Oil-based enamel is great for woodwork. It provides a hard finish that won’t cause your windows to stick like water-based paints have a tendency to do. The downside is that they tend to yellow [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: Why are Porch Ceilings Blue?

blue porch ceiling

I’m really excited to be adding this new weekly series to The Craftsman Blog. Every week I get lots of questions. Many of them inspire the tutorials I post, but some are short answers that I usually email a reply to. But I realized that if one person has the question then probably someone else does too. So, every week I’ll be writing one of these mini “Ask The Craftsman” posts to share the answers to those questions with [...] Read on →

How To: Find the Best Paint Brush

Paint brush

There are so many different types of paint brushes out there today. So, how do you know which one you need for your project? Should you buy a bunch of different brushes specific to each use or maybe just one all-around brush? What about cost? I’ve got so many bite marks on my tongue (biting my tongue to avoid piping up) from watching homeowners pick out the wrong paint brush. They just don’t know. But not anymore (at [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Primer

Choosing the Right Primer

Using primer should be an easy choice before any paint job. You don’t always have to prime before painting, but in the end it saves you time and money. Priming helps your paint cover in less coats, last longer and look better. It’s a win/win/win (if there is such a thing!) Choosing the right primer is paramount to making your paint job last. Using the wrong primer (or no primer at all) can actually cause paint failure if [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 3 Steam Heat)

how-to-strip-paint

This is the last post in our 3 part series on how to strip paint. In the first one I talked about working with chemical strippers and when and how to use them. Last week we delved into the world of elbow grease and talked about how to scrape like a pro. This week I want to talk about using heat to remove paint. Specifically, steam heat, but we’ll also discuss infrared strippers and good old-fashioned heat guns. [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 2 Scrape Like a Pro)

how-to-strip-paint

This may be the least exciting method of paint removal, but I have found it to be one of the best ways to remove decades of old paint quickly and cleanly. If you can learn how to strip paint without chemicals or heat your prep/clean up time can be significantly reduced. In this post, I’ll show you the tools and methods for how to strip paint effectively from just about any wood surface. A little elbow grease and the [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 1 Chemical Strippers)

how-to-strip-paint

I know a lot of you have questions about stripping paint from old woodwork. I know because it’s one of the topics I get emailed about the most. So I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. There are three primary ways you can remove paint (scraping/sanding, chemicals, heat) and we’ll talk about all three in this series. Today let’s focus on chemical strippers, which are really your best option if you have detailed or ornate moldings to [...] Read on →

How To Restore Steel Windows

Historic Steel Window

Historic steel windows are all across America. They became popular in big cities to combat the fires that were so common around the turn of the 20th century. Then from the 1930s until the 1950s they were a popular choice in residential housing due to the decreasing availability of quality lumber. Many steel windows sit and deteriorate across the country. While much attention has been paid to restoring traditional wood windows by preservationists, historic steel windows have fallen [...] Read on →

How To: Make a Small House Feel Large

Small space

Old houses are often much smaller than their counterparts today. The size of the average American home has grown enormously over the 20th century. From an average size of around 1,100 sq. ft. at the beginning of the century to 2,169 sq. ft. as of 2010, which is down from the all-time high of 2,248 sq. ft. in 2006. While many of us love the character and craftsmanship of an old house, they are not without their challenges [...] Read on →

My New eBook is Now Available!

Living in the Past Book

Today is a big day at The Craftsman Blog! For the past year and a half, I have been toiling to write my first full-length book about historic homes. Today that book goes from idea to reality! I’m doing a HUGE one week only sale for all my readers and their friends. If you have even a passing interest in saving thousands of dollars and learning all about your old house at the same time, you should definitely [...] Read on →