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

A safer alternative for household drain un-clogging

April 7th, 2014

Anytime I have a clogged drain at home, the last thing that I want to use is a harsh chemical to open up the clog. Harsh chemical drain openers can be dangerous to use, dangerous to store, and bad for the environment. One of the drain opening products that you can easily find at most hardware stores, and is a safer alternative is Power Plumber made by CLR.

It’s an easy to use product that works very effectively on most of your household drain clogs.

There are no harsh acids, additives or lye in product, and it’s reasonably priced at around $10.

CLR power plumber

How to fix a running toilet…….

April 3rd, 2014

Is your toilet running? Not sure? Here are a couple of ways to tell……

1. Do you hear a constant flow or trickle of water coming from your toilet?

2. Do you see water movement when you open up the seat of your toilet?

3. Still not sure? Take a couple of drops of food coloring and drop them into the toilet tank. Wait about 30 seconds and look to see if any of the food coloring has infiltrated the toilet bowl without you flushing the toilet.

If you see or hear any of the above, you have a running toilet. Good news it’s most likely very easy to fix. Here’s how….

The tools for this project are very minimal. In most cases, you are going to need a sharp razor blade, and that’s it.
You are also going to want to purchase the flapper from your local hardware store before you take this project on. There are a few different types of flappers out there, but if you take a pic with your phone, you can show the person at the store and they should be able to give you the correct size for your toilet.

This project should take less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

1.) shut the water off that goes to the toilet. For most of you, there is going to be a small shut off valve on the wall behind the toilet, just above the floor. If this does not work, stop what your doing and call a professional.

2.) Flush the toilet. The toilet tank should now empty without refilling.

3.) You are now going to replace the FLAPPER. This is the soft “flappy” piece of rubber at the bottom of the toilet tank. Directions to change the flapper out are usually on the back of the package of the flapper and are almost self explanatory.

4.) Once the flapper is secure, slowly turn the water back on and give the toilet a couple of test flushes.

You are now done with your toilet repair!
Good for another 3,000 miles.flapper

Benefits of using wood conditioner……..

April 1st, 2014

While taking on a DIY refinishing project, you will come to realize there are quite a few products out there that you may or may not need for your specific job. Problem is, the salesperson at the store is trying to throw them all into your cart. One product that you will be coming across is going to be Wood Conditioner, and if you are going to be doing some refinishing or staining, it’s probably going to be a good idea to include this pre-stain finish in your plans.

In the event that you are using a stain on an older piece of wood, you want to make sure that the stain gets applied nice and evenly. The problem is, old wood can accept stain differently from section to section. That can leave your stain looking darker in some areas, lighter in others, and just all around splotchy.

Wood Conditioner can alleviate this problem. Wood Conditioner is a clear finish that gets applied to the newly sanded wood before your stain. It gets absorbed by the pores of the wood, creating a nice level base for the stain to sit on. It’s easy to use (just follow the directions on the can), and an inexpensive. The Wood Conditioner ensures that your stain will look nice and even, making you look like a refinishing pro!
wood conditioner

How often should I change my furnace filters?

March 31st, 2014

For those of you that are owners of a forced air heating and cooling system, you are well aware that you have to change your furnace filters on a regular basis. Question is, what determines “a regular basis”? Some people are on a 60 day cycle, others are changing their filters out every 90 days. Here is my suggestion…….

Set a reminder to change your filters out at least every 60 days, with the exception of high use seasons. During high use seasons like January (heat) or August (air conditioning), make sure to change out your filters after 30 days of use. The heavy use of the system during the extreme weather seasons will put more stress on the filters and wear them out quicker. Changing the filters out more frequently during these times will help keep your home’s air quality high, and make sure that your system runs with out conking out from lack of proper air flow.

furnace filter