Natural weed killer for those pesky “crevice weeds” in your sidewalk…..

May 6th, 2014
Liberally insert the salt into the sidewalk crevice as shown.

Liberally insert the salt into the sidewalk crevice as shown.

Everybody hates weeds, especially those crevice weeds that continue to pop up in between sidewalk cracks on your property. The good news is, those are really easy to take care of. Here is what I want you to try……..

1. Remove the weeds with a weed puller or flat head screwdriver.

2. Now that the weeds are removed, spray the crack with a mixture of salt and clear vinegar. Let the mixture sink into the crack, and finally fill the crack with some more salt.

This is a natural, easy and inexpensive way to keep those cracks weed free.

Have more questions on keeping your property weed free? Email me with any questions.

DIY Wrought Iron Fence Painting……..

April 28th, 2014

A good percentage of the housing stock here in Lakeview and Lincoln Park have wrought iron fencing on their property.  Here is quick guide that will be useful for any DIY enthusiasts taking on the painting of their wrought iron fence this year.

First off, you are going to need a few basic tools.  Eye protection, dust mask and gloves are a must for this project.  A rigid putty knife is going to be used to take any peeling paint or bubbles off of the surface of the iron.  #2 steel wool is going to be used to prep the entire surface of the iron fence.  Make the surface nice and scratchy.  Also focus on any rusty areas, trying to remove as much rust as possible.  For really severe rust spots, a grinder may be needed, but if that’s the case, that is more of a job for a pro, rather than a DIY project. A nicely scratched up surface will be great for the new primer and paint to bond to, so make sure you do a nice job on this step.

Now that the surface is prepped and scratched up, it’s time for primer.  Use an oil based red metal primer.  The color of this primer is going to be a dark maroon red.  The properties of this primer help prevent rust from forming and building up on ferrous metals.

After the red metal primer is dried up, it’s time for the final step – Paint.  Use an oil base paint formulated for wrought iron.  Most of you are going to be using black.  High gloss or satin are both ok to use, that is just personal preference.  Your fence is going to need at least 2 good coats of paint, and possibly a 3rd coat.  Take your time on this step making sure that there is ample drying time between coats and do your best to make sure the forecast is clear for at least 24 hours after you are done painting.

A project like this should take about 2-3 days of work.  The longest part of this project is going to be the prep and priming step.  The painting can go pretty quickly, just make sure your are taking your time between each coat as to not over paint.  If you do, the drying time will be dramatically increased and the finish will look sloppy.

The total cost for this project will land between $50 and $100 depending on the size of the fence.

Have any more questions about painting a wrought iron fence? Email me at

Happy Painting!

photo (7)

Oxyclean as a deck cleaner

April 23rd, 2014

Oxiclean For those of you taking on a deck cleaning project this year, Oxiclean  may be the cleaner that is best for your project.  The benefits of using Oxiclean are that the product is easy to find (many of you have this product at home already) , not very expensive, and a chlorine free bleach that is safe to use around humans and landscaping.




Here’s my experience…… The tools needed are as follows. Power washer, deck scrub brush, bucket filled with warm water and 3-6 scoops of Oxiclean. You will probably have to fill the bucket up with water and Oxiclean a few times depending on the size of your deck.  I first wet the deck down with the power washer,  and then scrubbed the surface with the Oxiclean mixture using the deck brush .  I got the deck nice and sudsy, let it sat for about 5 minutes, then power washed the mixture off.  I had to repeat in a couple of areas where there was built up dirt and algae, but overall, I am very happy with the results. Since I was preparing the deck for an additional coat of semi-transparent stain, I did not have to do a full brightening of the deck, so I would definitely use Oxiclean for a project like this in the future. If your deck is in really severe shape, it may call for a full deck restoration product, which Oxiclean is not.  For most of you out there, it should work fine.

If you don’t have a power washer on hand, and you are looking to do a Spring clean up to your already finished deck, you should be able to get the job done using only the bucket and scrub brush.  Lighten up on the ratio of Oxiclean to water, scrub it down gently, then rinse off with a garden hose. It will take more time to do it this way, and not to mention less fun.

Questions on deck cleaning and sealing? Send me an email at

Taking care of your butcher block

April 22nd, 2014

If you are a cook, you probably own a piece of butcher block. It could be a nice chef quality chopping block, a top for a kitchen island or a standard cutting board. Every piece of butcher block does need a small amount of regular maintenance to keep it in good shape. No one likes to use a cracking, dried up board for cooking great food. Besides, those dried out cracks could be harboring some nasty bacteria, so let’s try to avoid those cracks from appearing.

There are quite a few products on the market that made for butcher block maintenance, but here is what to look for when shopping…….

  • Make sure the product you buy is food safe. Many of the products that are food safe are FDA approved, which makes it easier to know whether or not it’s really food safe.
  • Mineral oil is my favorite oil to use on butcher block
  • Most, if all of these products run about $10 or less. Mineral oil is the least expensive.
  • Never use a stain or polyurethane finish on your butcher block, as these products will ruin your block.

Here is what you need to know when it comes to the maintenance schedule……..

  • For brand new boards, you are going to want to “season” the board.  This means to apply about 4-5 coats of the finish you choose.
  • For older boards, apply 1-2 coats of finish on a regular basis.  For those of you who cook on a regular basis, this means once every 3 months.
  • If you have the ability to slightly warm the finish before applying that is ideal. You can warm the finish by placing the bottle into a warm bowl of water for a few minutes.
  • Apply the oil using a lint free rag or dishtowel.
  • The oiling process should take less than 5 minutes for a regular size cutting board.

If you need further help with your butcher block, send me a pic and an email at

butcher block

Expert Tips: Brightening or Reviving Your Deck

April 15th, 2014

In my last post, I shared some expert tips on power washing. I did promise a follow up post on those of you who need to revive your deck. Those of you who need to revive know who you are. You are wondering why your deck looks soooo nasty! Soooo Gray! Soooo boring! Basically anyone out there that has a gray, weathered deck needs to revive and restore.

Rule No. 1: Be careful.
Always test any wood brightener product on a small inconspicuous area before proceeding with entire deck. There are tons of wood brightener products on the market, and not all of them are to be used for all types of wood. Also be careful with your person. Always protect your skin and eyes. Read the label carefully before proceeding.

Rule No. 2: Start with a wood brightener with oxalic acid. This is an effective wood brightener for most of the wood decks out there.

Rule No. 3: Have a scrub brush on hand (I like to use one on a stick, makes it easier on the back!) and scrub the deck brightener into a small section of the deck. I usually work with a 4×4 or 6×6 square area. Even though you are using the scrub brush, let the brightener do most of the work. Don’t let the brightener sit on the wood too long to prevent damage to the wood. Following the directions on the brightener you are using, rinse away with your hose or power washer. Whenever using a power washer, be careful with your PSI setting (see previous post). You will now see the dramatic results taking shape!

Rule No. 4: Once the deck dries over a 24-48 hour period, you are ready for a deck finish.

Have any other questions on Brightening your deck? Email me at sean@calldads.comdeck brightener

Expert Tips: Powerwashing Your Deck

April 15th, 2014


Before pulling out the burgers and dogs for your first Spring BBQ, pull out your power washer and clean all the winter grime off of your deck. For most home owners, I’m recommending an electric powered power washer, opposed to a gas powered unit. The reason for this is that for most of you, you are only going to be using the unit once or twice a year, and I’ve always found electric powered units to be easier to maintain and own.

Regardless if you are using gas or electric, the main concerns that you should have while using your power washer is the amount of psi (referring to amount of pressure that the water is coming out of the power washer) and what tip you have installed on the end of the wand.

500-600 psi is plenty of power for cleaning pine or cedar decks. For harder types of wood, up to 1200 psi is acceptable. The harder you go with the power washer, the more of a chance that you have to etch your wood. Don’t underestimate the power of the power washer! Those bad boys can cause some damage!

Most of the power washers out on the market come with a selection of tips to install on the end of the wand. I suggest using a tip between 25 and 45 degrees. Regardless of the tips selection and psi setting, make sure you test out the power washer on a small inconspicuous area before working on a main section of the deck.

Besides using the power washer, always have a good scrub brush on hand to help with tough stains. The process I like to use is first: power wash the deck making sure all the wood is wet, second: scrub the deck down with a scrub brush using a mild cleaner like simple green (THERE ARE ALSO OPTIONS TO BRIGHTEN THE WOOD, OR REFRESH THE WOOD, BUT WE WILL TALK ABOUT THAT OPTION IN ANOTHER POST). Third: Once everything is scrubbed down and sudsy, power was the deck a second time. Repeat the second and third step if needed, as needed until your deck is nice and clean, free of sudsy bubbles.

This process is acceptable as prep work for stain, but this will not revive or refresh the wood, this is simply giving the wood a good deep cleaning. So, this means that if you have grayish colored wood, and your looking to brighten the wood, or bring it back to it’s original color, you will need to take further steps that I will talk about in another post.

If you have any more questions or thoughts about power washing your deck, or preparing your deck for the Summer grilling season, email me at

Paint your bathroom like a pro……..

April 10th, 2014

Do you have a bathroom painting project coming up?

Here are a few tips that I think might be useful………

1. Your bathroom is one of the most humid rooms of the house due to the amount of moisture from your bath fixtures and shower stall or tub. Keep this in mind while purchasing paint. Most paint store sell packets of mildewcide that are perfect to add to your gallon of bathroom paint. The mildewcide inhibits algae, mold and mildew on painted surfaces. It’s under $5 and does not alter the color of the paint, nor the process of rolling the paint on.

2. When painting the ceiling, I love using a product call “Perma-White Bathroom Paint” made by a company called Zinsser. It’s a mold and mildew proof paint that is perfect for high humid areas, such as your bathroom ceiling. It’s also suitable for walls, if you are going to go all white in your bathroom.

3. When you get near the toilet, please make sure to take the extra 20 minutes of work it will take to remove the toilet tank from the bowl. This will allow you to paint the wall behind the toilet, making your paint project look professional. Be careful with this one. Make sure the water supply is shut off first!

4. Don’t use the shower or tub for at least 24 hours after the completion of your painting project. There is no need to steam up your newly painted walls before the paint is fully cured.

5. Don’t try to save money on buying a cheap paint. You might think your saving money by going with the discount paint line, but this is a case in which you get what you pay for. Higher quality paints will cost more money, but are formulated to be applied easier, look nicer, and stand up to traffic much more effectively over time. Higher quality paints are also more washable and cleanable, which is a huge plus in a bathroom.

Looking for more professional advice? Need a painting question answered? Email me at sean@calldads.combathroom painting

Preparing a teak deck for Spring

April 10th, 2014

I took a call today from somebody getting their teak deck ready for the Spring season. The deck is about 5 years old, and the owner just bought the home recently, so he is not familiar with the maintenance schedule from the previous owner. He wanted to know what is the best course of action moving forward. As long as there is no substantial damage to the existing deck, you should be good to go with a simple clean and oil of the wood. This should be done once every 12-24 months depending on wear and tear. Here are the steps……

1. Clean the deck. Start off with sweeping as much debris and dirt from the teak deck. Next, you should be using a mixture of Murphy’s oil soap and water. Add about 1-2 cups of oil soap to your bucket of water. You can use a medium bristle brush as a scrub brush. Scrub with the grain of the teak. You can hose off built up soap and dirt. Repeat as needed. You should be seeing a good amount of dirt being scrubbed off. If you are going to use a powerwasher, please be extremely careful with the setting, you can do lots of damage to your teak wood with a powerwasher. A low psi setting on the powerwasher is fine. Now that the deck is clean, you will see a drastic difference from when you started. The wood will brighten up, and grime washed away. Wait for the deck to dry thoroughly before the next step. This may take a couple of days of nice weather.

2. At this point, you should have a clean, dry deck. You are ready for a finish. There are many types of finishes out there, and many will work for a teak deck, just read the directions very carefully and always try the finish on an inconspicuous area to make sure you are happy with the finish. A product that I like is “Watco Teak Oil”. The easiest and most effective way to apply teak oil is with an old clean towel or tshirt. The oil should be applied very very lightly in uniform wipes going along with the grain of the wood. I can’t stress enough that the oil has to be applied in light coats. heavy coats have a hard time drying and can collect dirt and debris easily. Regarding the amount of coats needed, that is going to depend on the deck and previous maintenance. For teak decks that have not been oiled in awhile, the teak will soak the new oil up and a second coat will be needed. For teak that gets maintained on a regular basis, the oil will not get soaked up as much. 1-2 coats will be plenty for most projects. Just remember, go very light, and make sure the first coat dries before the second coat goes on.

3. The third step is easy and may not even be needed depending on how the oil dried. Take another clean towel or tshirt, and give the entire are a wipe down / buffing. This is to ensure there is no excess oil left on the surface. This is a very quick step, and should not take very long.

The cost of the project and the time this takes will depend on the size of the deck, but for most of you, expect about 4 hours for cleaning, 4 hours for finishing and about $50 in materials.

Your deck is now ready for another year of use. Enjoy!

teak deckIf you have any questions about teak deck maintenance or any other home improvement projects, go ahead and drop me an email at

What’s the difference between granite and quartz counters?

April 9th, 2014

One of the most important choices a home owner is going to make while planning a kitchen remodeling project is what type of counter to install. Two popular solid surface options are granite and quartz. Although similar, they are not the same. Here is a brief summary….

Granite is a 100% natural product that is taken from the earth in one large piece. The color and patterns (veining) is not consistent, and separate pieces may be a shade off from each other. Depending on your taste, the natural color and characteristics are a bonus. There is some maintenance involved with owning granite. Granite is porous and should be sealed from time to time depending on traffic in the kitchen. The sealing process is easy and inexpensive. A granite professional should always measure and install granite tops. The cost of a granite top will be less than the cost of a quartz top in most cases.

Quartz, unlike granite is a man made product made with mostly natural elements. A quartz top is typically about 90% quartz stone, and about 10% resin. The process they use to manufacture the tops allows the fabricator to create tops of different color and pattern, while keeping the top uniform. Because of the different resin options, the huge benefit to using quartz in your kitchen is that you can achieve a wider arrange of colors and patterns than you can with granite. Quartz tops are not porous, so you never have to seal your counters if you go that route. Always have a quartz professional measure and install your quartz tops.

Anymore questions on granite, quartz or kitchen remodeling? Email me at

kitchen counter

Prevent splitting and cracking wood with this basic household product……

April 8th, 2014

Anytime that your are drilling or screwing into wood, you run the risk of splitting the wood. There is a trick I learned from my grandfather that is simple, easy and inexpensive.

Simply take some household liquid soap and apply some to the tip of the screw or drill bit that you are screwing into the wood. The soap acts as a lubricant that prevents splitting and cracking.


Sean Buino
Dad’s Handyman Service
“Chicago’s Northside Neighborhood Handyman”

liquid soap