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DIY: The Tried and True

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Life has been a bit crazy for me lately. It is a busy time for many… a transitional time for some with schools already back in session while others are still able to relax on vacation during these last few weeks of August.

Even with all the craziness in my day, life is good. I can usually handle a lot on my plate, but with our moving “To Do” list and a few business trips, I realize I can’t do it all. Hence the lack of posts the past few weeks. I’m trying, but I also know I’m human and run this blog of mine pretty much by myself so I have to go easy on myself.

How to declutter a house in a few easy steps

Ed and I have gotten a ton accomplished on our “To-Do” list…new carpet, light fixtures, cabinets in the laundry room, faucets, plumbing, painting, fixing, trimming, cleaning, and purging.  We filled a huge dumpster that we had in our driveway for 10 days. It made the process of getting rid of unwanted items a bit easier. I kept nice things and have them on one side of the garage waiting for the thrift store to come with a truck to pick them up.  The house is looking good, but focusing on the “To-Do” list has taken me away from creating blog posts.

The biggest project on my getting the house ready to move “To Do” list is refinishing and re-staining the deck.  Say…what? Didn’t you just do that in the fall?  Yep!

Last fall I used a new product called Restore 10X on the deck and was quite happy with the results.  I followed all the steps EXACTLY and it all looked great.  In the Spring I was still singing the products praises. My deck never looked better. Then around late June I noticed a small section looked different and when I touched it, the thick painted coat lifted right off in my hand in one big sheet!!!   As the weeks went by I noticed a few more small spots. I couldn’t believe the paint was failing since I took my time, did everything according to the directions and still the product was failing. One of my readers commented that she experienced the same thing and told me the product ruined her deck.  I started to research online for a fix and all I found was many other homeowners in the same situation…all very upset.

When I realized we were going to move, I knew I could not leave the deck as it was for new owners or disguise the areas where the product failed. I would not be able to sleep at night. I had to get the deck surface back to normal, but how?

The products mentioned on the Rustoleum website didn’t help remove it at all. I spent hours researching. I tried power washing, chipping and strippers, none of it worked. After all my research we ended up renting a drum sander with 36 grit sandpaper to remove it. It worked, but was a huge undertaking.

Rustoleum Deck Restore 10 X fail

It took Ed 2 days to get the product off. I felt so bad since I felt it was all my fault using a “new product” for such a large project, but Ed is my rock and told me not to think that way. After two days of sanding, he got it all off….“whew!”

On the bright side of this product/project fail and all the time and expense for the drum sander rental and sandpaper is that the wood on the deck looks better than ever now.  A fresh new surface. I will stain it along with the railings over the next few days with the product I have used on it for years…Behr Solid Color Stain that I have color-matched to the siding on the house and in white for the railings… my tried and true.

Sometimes it is worth just sticking with the products you know work and leave the new stuff on the store shelves until the company has time to see how it really works out in the real world and not in a test lab.

I learned a lot from this fail… NEVER use a new product for a large project. Test it out on a smaller one first. I feel that this product was not ready for the consumer market since I did everything according to the directions. Rustoleum now has a new primer to use before using the product and they have new videos with new directions.  All the consumers who used it before this, had to find out the hard way that the product was not ready to be on the market at least for consumer use.

I don’t want to leave you with a negative vibe, so I thought I would share the product wins that I have used in my home.

These are the  products that worked beautifully and have stood the test of time…I sing their praises and will use them in my next house.

Gallery Glass – It is going on 20 years since I used Gallery Glass on the sidelights by my front door.  It is one great product. I hope they never stop making it. It is still available at some craft stores and on Amazon.

AirStone – This is one of those dream products. AirStone is fake stone that can be used on fireplaces and walls that make them look like a real stone facade. It is affordable and easy to use. It looks just like stone. I smile every time I look at my fireplace.

Zinsser Ultimate Polyurethane – I used this poly on my Staircase Redo – If my new house has carpeted stairs,  I will not hesitate one minute to rip the carpet up and use this poly to create a classic stained steps with white painted riser staircase.

Poplar Plywood – The banquette in my kitchen is a built-in that I can’t take with me to the next house, but sure wish I could. My dad helped me with it. :-) He passed away a year and a half ago and every time I sit on it I am reminded of him and his love of woodworking. He hand picked the plywood which was poplar. It costs more than regular plywood, but was worth every cent. No warping or roughness even after 18 years and daily use.

Fabric Medium –  I painted an upholstered chair earlier this year so it hasn’t stood the long test of time, but so far, I am quite pleased with the results. I sit on the chair every morning when I read my favorite blogs and catch up with email. I also sit on it when I take the time to read.  I don’t know why I waited so long to try using fabric medium. But if I find an upholstered piece of furniture that is in good shape at a yard sale, but don’t like the color. I will use this method and product to transform it.

DIY Chalk PaintCalcium Carbonate Powder is my tried and true ingredient that I use to make chalk paint.

Minwax Polycrylic – It is water-based poly, easy to use and comes in 3 different sheens, as well as a spray formula. 

Glidden Gripper – Love this stuff. It is affordable and the best primer I have ever used. I use it on many projects. I wrote about it, here. 

Purdy Paint Brushes –  I would not paint with anything but a Purdy paint brush. I have been using them for a long time. They lessen the look of brush strokes, don’t shed, and if you take care of them they will last for years. Worth every cent!

Martha Stewart Crafts Decoupage – I like this Matte Multi-Surface Decoupage formula much better than Mod Podge. It goes on smooth and dries to a non-sticky clear finish.

Project: Map Covered Boxes

CitraStrip Stripper – The first time I stripped a piece of furniture I used a heavy duty stripper that made me sick. It smelled horrible and ate through everything it touched, even the gloves I wore to protect my skin while using it. Soon after I learned about CitraStrip. It is the only stripper I use now. It takes a little longer to do the job, but is less toxic and has little smell. I like that it comes in a spray can, too.

Project:  Repurposed Mirror Coffee Table

I have to remember that I found some of these great products after another product failed and I went in search of something better.

Note to self: Don’t let projects stress me out. It’s not only about the finished project, but more about the journey that gets you from Point A to a happy Point B.

What are your favorite tried and true products?

If you are starting a project check out these tried and true products that will get the the DIY job done and last for years.

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  1. Hi Diane; re-reading this post and I wanted to mention how well the Glidden Gripper worked for me, after you had suggested it. I have a vinyl floor covering in my bathroom, and had no desire to remove and replace the tiles to change the decor, so I looked into paint for a floor in bathroom areas. it took quite a while, since I initially used a product that didn’t really work, so this was round 2. I used 2 coats of Gripper on the floor after cleaning, cleaning and cleaning it; I then used a regular deck and floor paint in a deep grey, and covered with 2 coats of Varathane 2X Ultra Thick floor polyurethane – that is really good stuff too, but I have to give it to the Gripper, or I’d never have gotten to the point where I could finish my project! Before I covered the floor with poly, you’d never have believed it would come out so well, but the Varathane was perfect for the top coat. It is very thick, I used 2 coats and haven’t regretted a thing! One of my few good ideas after all!

  2. I love your posts… it takes a couple of days to read everything I am holding in my inbox, but I always look forward to reading yours… if you say something is a good product, I take that as gospel! I really appreciate the time and effort that you take when creating these postings. You are da bomb!

  3. Thanks for sharing about a product that doesn’t live up to claims, saving us from finding out the hard way! Good luck on your move. We moved first time in 28 years and I thought it was going to do me in. I’m better prepared for next move now.

  4. I truly love your website, I live on the island called, Molokai, in Hawaii. Honest and true in sharing your ideas, products that works, and so much information in home projects. Love that everyone’s comments are helpful too! We have Arce Hardware store here on our little island, as we need to travel to Oahu for the name brand and choices. Then we have it shipped to our island, the cost to live in paradise. My project sanding and prime baseboards, not happy with the primer and paint brushes either. Getting rid of clutter and personal items that’s one of my goals. Thank for taking the time for being helpful and sharing always you are truly “blessed”.

  5. Same thing happened to us! We spent over $250.00 on that product and it started peeling up after winter. We ended up having to use a putty knife and then a sander to get it all up so we could re-stain. Only time I have ever been that disappointed with a project, and they never even replied when I emailed the company.

    1. Hi Mary – Your story is the same one I keep hearing and reading about. It is a shame that the company does not respond. What baffles me even more is that many companies are coming out with similar products! I tell everyone now…stay away! The formulas are not ready for the wide range of differences/regions/wear/weather on consumer’s decks. In a test lab, maybe…but not for the real world.

  6. Diane, thank you for sharing how much needs to be done before listing a house. I always did the same as you, put everything into neutral and perfect condition. People underestimate the time needed for any move. I always said only pack things you would pay to air ship to Hawaii. That gets the family in the right frame of mind. LOL

    I love your comments on the products. Good luck and I always like your postings.

    1. Hi Nancy – I like your thinking to only pack the things you would pay to ship to Hawaii. I will have to remember that! :-) We are on the home stretch with getting the house ready. I am hoping we wrap it up by the weekend and I can get back to a somewhat normal schedule.

  7. I pushed the submit button too quickly. I wanted to thank you for the list of preferred items. I will definitely keep this for reference! Thanks again.

  8. Whew! I feel so much better! I know it was a “time-taker” to explain all the dumpster contents but I sure feel better knowing it wasn’t really crying my name! I saw that stash and could not believe you would throw it away. I should have known better (as I hang my head in shame!)

  9. Whew! Moving is hard work! Getting a house up to snuff is too. Glad the deck stain clean up is working out. We were thinking of moving so in the process of looking we were preparing our home and ended up just renovating and love it. Still had all those things to do we had put off! Hope it contiunes to go well. Linda

  10. So wish I had been there to “dive” into your dumpster! I see so many items for great projects! Why didn’t the bed go to someplace like Salvation Army? I’ll bet if you had dropped a lot of that stuff by the curb and posted on Craigslist that it would have been gone in no time! Oh, well, your deck will probably look awesome once again!

    1. Hi Tracy –

      Everything that went into the dumpster was mostly used building materials from a bathroom we took apart in the basement, broken sheet rock and insulation, old carpet, old wood that we stored under the deck for 20 years, broken garden tools and broken beach chairs, and 2 pieces of furniture that 3 thrift didn’t even want. That is something I learned, thrift stores have become very picky. They come out to see what you have and tell you want they won’t take. I called 3 and they all said the same thing. I guess they have to be picky when it comes to big items since if they can’t sell it they are stuck with it. I have an IKEA desk that is in perfect condition and they won’t take it because it is made of laminate. :-( I am trying Craigslist for it.

      We had two items on the curb but no takers so we had no choice but to break them apart and place in the dumpster. The painted bed frame you see is dry rotted. It looks OK in the photo, but it was very old and falling apart when it was handed down to us from Ed’s grandparents 31 years ago. The legs were cracked and the slots to hold the side rails were rotted from age and would not hold up the rails anymore.

      I but a few big items on Craigslist, but so far no one is interested since there are literally 50 of the same or like items listed trying to be sold in my area.

      I do have one side of my garage filled with items that are salvageable or in good shape that are going to the thrift store. They are coming back at the end of the month to take it all :-)

  11. I have to redo my deck, and it could use a sanding as well, but I have deferred because of concern about the nails wrecking havoc with a sander. What was your experience with this? Did you countersink all the nails first? Thanks.

    1. Hi Charisse – When we built the deck, Ed used “deck board ties” instead of nails to attach the boards. They look like clips that get attached to the side of each board instead of the top, so the deck only has a few nails on the top along the ends of a few boards. I did however go around and hammer each of them just to make sure they were not sticking up.

      1. Thanks Diane. Unfortunately when they built the deck they used all nails, Would have been a lot easier if they had used those. Thanks though. I am excited for your move to a home somewhere by the water. I grew up on the Finger Lakes of NY state and have such wonderful memories of being on the water during summers. Best to you both.

  12. So sorry to hear about your deck! Your advice about using a new product on a small area first is a good one. A couple of years ago, my daughter bought Pittsburgh Paint’s Revitalize for her huge deck area. She picked it out herself, and I helped her apply it and did a blog post about it. This product did not hold up well either, and now she has a big mess.

    1. Hi Jann – I feel for your daughter. I kept reading stories that homeowners had to replace all the boards or tear down their decks. I lost a few nights sleep stressing over how we were going to be able to fix ours. Once it was sanded, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders. Being back to square one with a tried and true product has me doing a happy dance once again. I hope your daughter can find a fix for hers. XO

  13. Thanks for the list of tried and true products…is there some way to pin them as a list? You are a great source of information. I was going to try that product on my front and back steps but the price made me hold back. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. You take great care of your readers and I trust you as a good friend.

  14. Would love to read more about getting a house ready to sell. We are enough older that my husband thinks that what it is, is good enough. Picture 45 years of wear on hardwood floors. Definitely a refinishing job in my future.

    A recap of each day, with not too much detail, would give readers an idea of what is realistic to accomplish in a day.

    1. Hi Barbara – I used to have a real estate staging business and know at least in the Philadelphia area, homes sell faster and for more money if you fix them up and neutralize the decor a little. In your area it may not matter. Every market is different. I do think getting rid of clutter and personal items is a good rule of thumb no matter where you live though. The more you can make the house neutral, the more buyers will be able to envision their style and belongs in the space. That is what your goal should be. :-) I will write a more detailed post about this very soon.

  15. I too have read about Rustoleum’s Restore 10X and how it really doesn’t hold up. I saw a deck redone with it and really didn’t like the result. Wasn’t even impressed by the sample at the store :-(

    So glad for you that your wonderful hubby got it all sanded off. The new owners of your home will love you for it! :-)

    Hmm….about favorite products. If a good paint+primer is what you need but your budget is small, I’ve found Olympic One Paint+Primer does a nice job for a little less than Valspar (which I also like). I’ve used so many paint brands (some high end, some not so high end) and for the money the Olympic is a good buy. I totally agree with you on Purdy brushes! I have two. They’re well worth the extra money because the end result truely is a much better finish. (The crummy brushes I have are for dry brushing cuz they leave just the right amount of brush strokes. LOL!)

    So excited for your move to your home by the water—wherever that will be! We’ll all watch you make your new house into the most wonderful home! :-)

  16. Hi Diane
    Thank you so much for sharing you favorite products. Does the Glidden Gripper work on metal?