Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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DIY Kitchen Upgrades and Improvements


Find out how to tackle some great do-it-yourself kitchen upgrades, including adding a glass tile backsplash, decorative cabinet display shelf, and water filtration system. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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DIY Kitchen Upgrades and Improvements

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Installing a DIY mosaic glass tile backsplash in a kitchen.

Installing a DIY mosaic glass tile backsplash in a kitchen.

Find out how to improve the look and function of your kitchen by:

  • Install Tile Backsplash: Installing a tile backsplash to your kitchen isn’t as hard as you might think. See how we added a mosaic glass tile backsplash in only a few hours.
  • Add Display Shelf: Adding a display shelf to the hanging cabinets over a sink is a great way to add a little pizzazz to your kitchen.
  • Repair Cabinet Scratches: Find out about the different ways to repair scratched cabinets, including stain, touch up markers, wax pencils, and walnuts.
  • Water Filtration System: Installing an under sink mounted water filtration system with separate faucet isn’t that difficult and is a great way to save on the cost of bottled water.
  • Install Range Hood: Range hoods are great for reducing heat, odors, and grease in your kitchen. Find out what to look for when buying a range hood for your kitchen.
  • Cabinet Shelves: Adding washable shelf liner to your cabinet shelves helps keep your cabinets clean.

Other tips include a quick and easy way to put a duvet cover on a comforter and how to keep stainless steel appliances clean. Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re making some kitchen changes you’ve asked about. You don’t have to completely renovate the kitchen to make it more attractive and functional and we’ll show you how.

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house so improvements here are always popular with homeowners. People want the room to be more functional for their family, and more attractive to their guests. So this week we’re taking on several projects to do all of the above without a complete renovation.

One of the most popular improvements that I hear homeowners wanting to do to their kitchen is to install a ceramic tile backsplash. And in a very small, modest kitchen like this, it’s really not that big of a project. And I might get a little help from the co-host of the Today’s Homeowner Radio show, Amy Hughes.

Now, Amy is a very avid do-it-yourselfer who does a lot of projects around her own home and she is wanting to install a ceramic tile backsplash in her kitchen. She’s about to get some hands-on experience.

Amy Hughes: Why not?

Allen Lyle: So, what kind of tile are you doing? For the floor or what?

Amy Hughes: Uh, no, backsplash.

Allen Lyle: Oh, okay.

Amy Hughes: Yeah. I’m excited. I think it’s going to look really cool.

Allen Lyle: One more aisle, I think.

Amy Hughes: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: You got some good choices here. Let me show you what you can look at.

Amy Hughes: Okay, thanks for your help.

Allen Lyle: Yeah. You’ve got a lot of options here. I mean, glass, this is all glass. You’ve got travertine and glass mixed together. I love this little tumbled marble going on. Looks like mother-of-pearl in here. I mean, you see what you’ve got to deal with.

Amy Hughes: Yeah, lots of options.

Allen Lyle: It’s creativity. So, it’s what you want in that kitchen.

Amy Hughes: Right.

Allen Lyle: I mean, what looks good to you?

Amy Hughes: Oh, well, I really like the glass actually.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Amy Hughes: The travertine is nice, but I think for this kitchen I think a glass would work really well.

Danny Lipford: While Amy and Allen are choosing the tile, I’m getting set up so that we can hit the ground running as soon as she returns.

Amy Hughes: What do you think? Pretty nice, huh?

Danny Lipford: Pretty cool. Yeah. I see a little bit of the blue that you have in there and the brown, I think it can’t go wrong.

Amy Hughes: I think it’s going to look really good.

Danny Lipford: Because a backsplash is mostly decorative, it isn’t necessary to install cement backer board like you would in a shower or tub surround. Just be sure the drywall surface is smooth and clean so the tiles will lay flat and stick well. Now, for the primary backsplash tool, the notched trowel.

You like that? You know why that’s that way?

Amy Hughes: I have no idea.

Danny Lipford: Well, a notched trowel like that, and what you have to do is when you buy your thin-set and your adhesive, you have to make sure that you read the label and that it matches exactly the type of notches you have on this. The reason for it is that is how you distribute the adhesive on the wall.

Amy Hughes: So the size of the notches actually matters?

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Amy Hughes: I’m surprised.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, they definitely matter because if you get something too big or too small it can really, it can be a disaster. Applying the thin-set isn’t complicated.

Amy Hughes: It’s a little bit like frosting a cake.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Yeah. I guess it is. But it’s a little trickier on this tight vertical surface than it would be on a large flat floor.

So, let’s put up some tile. And so you can put it in place and then you can really play with it a little bit. Like right now, see I’m pushing it over. And then, lining it up with the pencil marks, just real carefully and then you’re just pushing it in there, getting that bedded in there. I’ve got another little trick for you here.

Amy Hughes: Okay.

Danny Lipford: Are you concerned that I have lipstick?

Amy Hughes: Hey!

Danny Lipford: What do you think?

Amy Hughes: Did you go in my purse and steal my lipstick?

Danny Lipford: Is this a nice color? Look at that.

Amy Hughes: That would look really good on you.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Not today! The lipstick is actually for the outlet, not me or Amy. By pressing the sheet of tiles against it, we can mark the location for the cut-out on the back side of the tile. Here, we can actually cut these pieces like this.

Amy Hughes: Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: And then, we can just piece in the little pieces.

Amy Hughes: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And just cutting this mesh, otherwise it would be just really tough, to take these little pieces and cut ‘em out.

Amy Hughes: Impressive.

Danny Lipford: We’re on our way now.

Amy Hughes: I almost feel like maybe I could do this by myself.

Danny Lipford: Maybe.

Amy Hughes: Maybe.

Danny Lipford: Oh, boy, that is a vote of confidence.

However, it doesn’t take long for Amy’s confidence to increase because you simply repeat the same process over and over until you fill up the space with tile. Yep keep going, keep going.

Now, at some point, you will likely have to cut the tiles themselves. And for this, you’ll need a tile saw. But with these mosaic, the cuts are always small and easily managed. Okay? All right, don’t touch the blade. Always turn it off.

Amy Hughes: I guess now is not a good time to tell you how accident-prone I am.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. No, that wouldn’t be good. Eventually, Amy has this job mastered.

Amy Hughes: Feels good, looks good. Might fall off the wall since I put it on.

Danny Lipford: Grab another one. Here, I’m your assistant.

Amy Hughes: Excellent. Everything is right in the world.

Danny Lipford: Look at that. All right, that’s the last piece in. So, why don’t we clean up everything, get ready for a couple other projects you can help me with? And these are projects that you may want to do in your kitchen, but first, while we’re getting ready for that, check out what Joe has for this week’s Simple Solutions.

Joe Truini: If you’ve seen Simple Solutions over the years, you know I’m more of a drill bit and belt sander kind of guy, but here’s a tip for putting a comforter into a duvet cover.

Start by taking a duvet cover and turning it inside out, and lay it out on the bed with the open end down near the foot of the bed. Then, take the comforter itself, and just spread it out, on top of the cover. And again, the cover is inside out. Start at the top of the top end, and just roll it over all the way down.

OK, now here’s the real trick. To get the comforter inside the duvet cover, simply open up the duvet cover and turn the whole thing inside out. Basically, take the comforter and stuff it inside.

Now, here’s where the magic happens. Well, it might not be magical, but it’s pretty cool. Now, you just unroll it, and the comforter is inside the cover. So, there you go. You just snap it out, and there you go.

So, now, get that straightened out a little bit, but you get the idea. The comforter is inside the duvet cover. Ready to go.

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re taking on projects for the kitchen to make it more functional and more attractive. Amy Hughes, one of the co-hosts on my radio show, has been helping me install a tile backsplash. While the backsplash is primarily decorative, it does serve a functional purpose as well. And you can’t overlook function when you’re improving a kitchen.

Danny Lipford: Another very important functional aspect of any kitchen is to have proper ventilation. These things have been real popular over the last few years. They’re called OTRs or over the range microwaves.

But homeowners have discovered a few problems with this type of approach to ventilation. And one’s very obvious, in that you’re using these burners probably more than any other and the vent stops right here. So, that can be a problem.

And the most ideal situation is to move those odors and the heat all the way to the outside. Many times, this type of unit will only allow recirculation air coming in here, going through a charcoal filter and back into the room. Again, not the most ideal situation.

Allen Lyle: Well, Danny’s right. There’s a bit of a disadvantage to an over the range microwave. But I’ve got to say this, they’re very convenient. And of course, for space saving, you can’t beat it. But for the appliance over the range, you really need to consider a range hood.

There’s so many styles available to choose from, and right away you can see they’re much deeper, they’re going to cover the entire surface. You choose models that have the controls underneath, here on the face, I’ve seen some that are on top of the model. Of course, easy to clean filters, that’s a must now.

But what’s really great about the new models—the lighting. You got these lights that are either LEDs or quartz halogens, that’s great.

But before you make your choice based on style and features, there are two numbers you need to think about. Let me show you. I really like this model. It’s very sleek, very contemporary looking. I did mention two numbers, though.

First of all, it’s the sones number. That’s the level of noise. You want this to be very quiet. I mean, when the fan’s on, you don’t want it to sound like you’re at the airport. So, the lower the sones number, the quieter the motor.

The second number has to do with your CFMs. How many cubic feet of air per minute that this will move out. You see with kitchens it’s a little different. You want the air to exchange in your kitchen a minimum of 15 times per hour, so that number is important.

But figuring out is a little complicated. First of all, you need to have the cubic feet of your kitchen. You know, you need to know how many BTUs that your stove gives out. And then you need to know how many feet of ductwork it takes to go from here to vent all that to the outside. And you’re venting smoke, odor, moisture, and heat.

I’m going to make that real easy for you. You can get a lot more information just go to our website right now, todayshomeowner.com.

Danny Lipford: Obviously ventilation is an important part of creating a healthy environment in your home. And so is paying attention to the water your family drinks. One way to do that is by installing a water filtration system right at the kitchen sink.

Danny Lipford: There was a different type of faucet here before and when they did the more streamline type faucet left us a perfect hole for this to fit into. This one not only delivers better tasting water from a dedicated faucet, it also removes contaminants that can affect your health, like microbial cysts, lead and some herbicides and pesticides. Plus, it’s supposed to be easy to install. Once you assemble the faucet and mount it in the sink top, the work under the counter begins.

Amy Hughes: Glad it’s not me down there.

Danny Lipford: Thanks. There’s a T-connector that diverts water from the cold water supply line to the filter system. From there, another line will take it to the sink top faucet. The filter itself is a canister that simply twists into the mouth with a quarter turn motion, so changing them is easy.

Okay. I’m turning the cold water on. Check it out.

Amy Hughes: Works great up here.

Danny Lipford: All right, looks good down here. What about the filter? What do they say as far as how long the filter lasts?

Amy Hughes: It says six months on the box.

Danny Lipford: That’s pretty good. What do you think? Doesn’t it look fairly good?

Amy Hughes: I think it looks great. It fits in really well.

Danny Lipford: I think it’s great, really good. Well, we have our tile up, so we’ll wait till tomorrow morning to grout that. This is in good shape. But I have another idea after we grout that we can do for this little space right in here.

Amy Hughes: What’s that?

Jodi Marks: There are so many innovative products out in the market now to make your kitchen more functional but actually safer, too. Right, Shea?

Shea Pettaway: That’s right, Jodi. Moen actually has a new kitchen faucet that is motion sensed by three different ways. You have the Wave Sensor, the Ready Sensor, and this cool feature, the three spray pull down feature. It has the spray, you can pause it, and it’s an aerated stream as well.

Jodi Marks: See, that’s neat because if you’ve got dirty hands from, say, outside working in your garden, you’ve got hands full with your pot, or even if you’ve been working with raw meat. You certainly don’t want to be touching your faucet, because that’s where germs can breed, and then you can infect someone down the road. But if you’ve got your little sensors here, you don’t have to touch a thing, and the water comes on and you can wash your hands. I love it.

Shea Pettaway: Great feature. And as well, it already has the supply lines included with it.

Jodi Marks: And a lot of people complain that the sprayer inside the neck of the faucet, you know, it dangles over time; but look how that just clicks right back into place. Thank you, Shea, so much.

Shea Pettaway: Thank you.

Danny Lipford: Our look at kitchen upgrades started yesterday with a backsplash project. Amy, my co-host from the Today’s Homeowner Radio show, had never done tile work before, so she was getting her chance to learn on the job. Once the tile was installed, we decided to add another decorative touch with a shelf above the sink.

While waiting for the tile to dry, we cut a 1×6 to fit in the space between the cabinets. Then, we ripped it down to about five inches wide and gave the front edge a curve detail with a router. Now, Amy was a big fan of power tools, but not so much the dust. That dust is everywhere.

Amy Hughes: Wow.

Danny Lipford: I have an air gun I can…

Amy Hughes: Um.

Danny Lipford: With a little matching stain and a coat of polyurethane, the shelf was ready to dry overnight along with the backsplash. Today, it’s time to grout and install our new shelf.

All right, we’ll cover all of this up because the grouting process can be a little messy. I’m proud of you for showing up another day here.

Amy Hughes: Well, I’m proud that our tile hasn’t fallen off the wall.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. I know, this looks great. Tell you what, if you can use the specialized tool and you see how some of the thinset is coming through here and there?

Amy Hughes: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: And we want to be able to have a void there so that we could push the grout in. If you’ll do that, I’m going to do a little more taping around here and get the grout ready.

Those straight chunks of thinset will shine through the grout if we don’t remove them. And the process of applying this stuff is even messier than the thinset. So, the tape will save us lots of cleaning. All right, there’s the color.

Amy Hughes: I know. Okay. Little bit of an oatmeal thing going on?

Danny Lipford: Yep. Hope you like it, ’cause that’s what we’re using. We’re wetting it down with water first because we want the grout to fill the gaps but not stick to the surface. It inspired you yesterday, didn’t it? You went home last night and you thought about…

Amy Hughes: It did. I know. I was looking at my kitchen, thinking, “Hmm, where would this look good in here?”

Danny Lipford: You can do that this weekend. As barbaric as it may look, you squeeze this in, on a 45 degree angle. Don’t look at the surface of it. You just want to make sure. You see how you’re, with a rubber float like this, you’re able to push it in to all of those. This is your only chance to do it. You can’t come back and do it.

Amy Hughes: Now, what’s the importance of the 45 degree angle?

Danny Lipford: Well, it just allows you to push it in there without catching any of the pieces. And then, now you see why we taped it all.

Amy Hughes: Ah! I think you missed a spot right there.

Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm. There you go. I’m not finished.

Amy Hughes: Oh.

Danny Lipford: Once again, Amy seems to be a natural with the grout float. I should’ve taken a break a lot sooner. Eventually, the grout has all been applied and it’s time to begin the tedious task of sponging it all off. So, what you want to do, this is kind of more of a circular pattern. And you’ll feel like you’re not getting anything done. See that?

Amy Hughes: Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: That’s all they do.

Amy Hughes: Oh, that looks even, like, I thought it looked good before but the grout really makes it stand out.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, it kind of stands out. And boy, what a perfect color, too.

Amy Hughes: I like that.

Danny Lipford: But eventually, after plenty of sponging and rinsing and sponging and rinsing, it’s almost done. Hey, your shelf looks pretty good, huh?

Amy Hughes: Hey, that does look good.

Danny Lipford: I have all of the polyurethane on it so it’s ready to hang. And I’ll tell you what, if you’re thinking of hanging something like this, it’s really, fairly easy because you have a little lip on most cabinets, that hang down about like that, so we’ll be able to drill some pilot holes, put a few screws in it, and that will take care of the hanging of the shelf. Also, a little bit later, we’re going to show you how to get rid of little scratches and scars on your cabinets like that. Okay. Get her in there.

Amy Hughes: All right.

Danny Lipford: Drilling these pilot holes will ensure that the screws we’re using to fasten the shelves won’t split the wood.

Amy Hughes: Looks like we’re ready for some mugs.

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. That thing’s nice and sturdy.

Amy Hughes: Hey, what’re you doing? You’re snacking? Snacker!

Danny Lipford: Well, yeah. I like walnuts. Walnuts are pretty good. Would you like one?

Amy Hughes: No, thank you. But I want to know…

Danny Lipford: This is going to solve our problem with the scratches.

Amy Hughes: A walnut?

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Amy Hughes: Really?

Danny Lipford: Well, first of all, ordinarily if you have a scratch like this, and you have the stain like we had that I poured a little in a cup. Take some sandpaper, like this is 320-grit, sand this down a little bit, then use a rag, dab it on there to kind of cover up the stain, and then you’re going to have to come back and put a little polyurethane over it. Or there’s all kinds of like, putty pencils.

Amy Hughes: Oh, yeah, I’ve seen the little pens.

Danny Lipford: And the little markers. These work pretty good. But watch this. Now, watch on this one right here. Simple walnut. You believe that? Look at that.

Amy Hughes: That’s impressive. Really? A walnut?

Danny Lipford: Yeah. And then, you know, because it’s oily, it’ll stay in there really well.

Amy Hughes: Huh.

Danny Lipford: You know, even on these darker edges like this. Look.

Amy Hughes: Oh, that’s incredible. I don’t understand. I mean, how does it… I mean, how does it work?

Danny Lipford: It’s a walnut. So, here’s something you can be doing while I’m taking care of the other scratches. This is a really great shelf liner.

Easy Liner from Duck Brand has a non-slip surface on the underside, so it doesn’t require any adhesive to hold it in place once it’s cut to fit. Spills and messes are caught by the liner before they stain the cabinets. And to make it even easier, you can take the liner out and toss it in a washing machine for a complete cleanup.

While we wrap up the work here, check out this cleanup question.

Danny Lipford: Beth-Anne wants to know, “What’s the very best way to clean stainless steel?”

And that’s a great question because there’s so much stainless steel around our home these days, both inside and out. Now, there’s a lot of great stainless steel cleaners that are available, but you probably have some things at your house right now that you can use without buying any cleaners.

Start out with some warm water and a nice clean cloth. It will take care of most of the cleaning. But even better, use a micro-fiber cloth, because it absorbs the water really well and prevents a lot of those water spots. But if you need a little extra punch in your cleaning solution, then add some dishwashing liquid is all you need to make that cleaning job a little easier.

Fingerprints—big problem on the front of refrigerators or dishwashers.—glass cleaner is all you need to wipe all of those fingerprints out. You probably have some if you have a few of those children around your house.

And if you want to put a little bit of a polish on the front of that refrigerator, believe it or not, you can use a little bit of olive oil or baby oil to really make it look nice.

So, Amy, are you absolutely amazed at the power of walnuts? Yes, I still think you’re pulling my leg, but if I hadn’t seen it for myself… I mean, that’s amazing.

Danny Lipford: I know, it’s great that they look so much better because anybody that has stained cabinets, they’re going to have a few nicks here and there, so that takes care of that. Okay, do you think you can go to your home now and install a backsplash in your kitchen?

Amy Hughes: Yes. I don’t think I would have the confidence but just doing it once, I mean it’s amazing how easy it is.

Danny Lipford: And what about the inexpensive aspect of it? You know, it’s only $175, all of the materials, including the tools, to do this whole thing.

Amy Hughes: Amazing.

Danny Lipford: And here’s a very inexpensive thing too, the little decorative shelf. That turned out nice, but I added a little something to it. A little LED light that’s battery powered I was able to tuck right under for just a little bit of accent light here.

Amy Hughes: That’s a nice touch. And I like these Easy Liner shelf liners you found.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Amy Hughes: I still think it’s so cool that you can just pull it out and throw it in the washer when it gets a little dirty or just wipe it off and you’re good to go.

Danny Lipford: Boy, that makes so much sense. Another thing that makes a lot of sense is not buying all that bottled water and having that right at your fingertips. I like that.

Amy Hughes: I like that too. I am so inspired. Lots of cool ideas.

Danny Lipford: Hey, we hope we’ve inspired you as well. If you have a few things you want to do at your kitchen, well, here’s a few ideas and you’ll find more at our website, at todayshomeowner.com. Amy, thanks a lot for being with us.

I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner.