Exterior Upgrades

Stackable block retaining wall in front of house.

Completed DIY stackable block retaining wall in front of house.

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We’re exploring some easy DIY exterior upgrades at the home of framing contractor Wiley Bullock in Mobile, Alabama.

Build a Block Retaining Wall

A retaining wall can be used to prevent erosion on sloping lots by holding back the soil. To build a retaining wall:

  • Dig out the area where the wall will be located so the bottom is level and 4” or more inches below the base of the wall.
  • Fill the area with 4” of Pavestone crushed limestone base material to act as a foundation for the wall and tamp it down.
  • Stack the retaining wall blocks using Titebond landscape adhesive to help hold them in place.
  • Position the top cap layer of blocks, varying the angled sides to fill in any gaps in the top of the wall.
  • Backfill with dirt behind the wall and top with grass or plantings.

The retaining wall was built with Pavestone three-piece, multi-height RockWall System Yukon stackable blocks (available at The Home Depot).

Read Build a Stackable Block Retaining Wall to find out more about how to build a retaining wall.

Wood deck on home.

Wood deck on home.

Clean and Stain a Wood Deck

Wood decks are great for outdoor entertaining, but they can become worn and weathered over time.

To restore a deck, start by cleaning in thoroughly using a cleaner made for cleaning wood decks, such as Flood Wood Cleaner. Be sure to wear protective clothing, goggles, and rubber gloves with working with strong cleaners. Here’s how:

Wood deck after cleaning.

Wood deck after cleaning.

  • Start by removing any leaves or other debris from the deck and cracks between the boards using a hook bent in a coat hanger.
  • Mix up the cleaning solution with water following the directions on the container.
  • Wet down the deck with a garden hose, then apply the cleaning solution using a pump sprayer.
  • Scrub the deck thoroughly using a long handled scrub brush.
  • Allow the cleaner to remain on the deck for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the cleaner off with water from a hose or pressure washer.

Once the deck is dry, it’s time to stain it. We used Flood CWF-UF penetrating wood finish in a natural wood color, which protect from both rain and sun. The stain can be brushed or rolled onto the surface.

Watch How to Clean and Finish a Wood Deck to find out more.

Danny Lipford and Allen Lyle replacing wood trim with cellular PVC.

Danny Lipford and Allen Lyle replacing rotten wood trim with cellular PVC.

Replace Wood Trim

Wood trim on the exterior of a house—including window and door facings, corner boards, moldings, and eaves—can deteriorate and rot over time.

When replacing window trim, we used cellular PVC trim boards from Royal Building Products, which cuts and nails just like wood, but won’t rot or become food for termites.

Royal cellular PVC trim boards have both a smooth side and a wood grain side, so you can choose whichever one blends best with your décor.

To remove mold, mildew, moss, and algae on the outside of your home, apply Wet & Forget Outdoor using a garden spray. Wet & Forget doesn’t need rinsing, simply allow it to dry on the surface.

Read Products to Reduce Spring Maintenance on Your Home for more.

Danny Lipford with Generac generator.

Danny Lipford with portable Generac generator.

Portable Generator Safety

When using a portable generator, such as those from Generac:

  • Only run the generator outside in an open area away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t overload the generator by attaching a bigger load than it was designed to handle.
  • Turn the generator off and allow it to cool down before refueling.

Watch How to Use a Portable Generator Safely to find out more.

Other Tips from This Episode

Picking up metal shavings.

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Metal Shavings Clean Up Tip

To make cleaning up ferrous metal shavings easy, put a magnet inside a plastic bag, and use it to attract the shavings to the bag. Once all the shavings are stuck to the bag, turn it inside out, remove the magnet, and dispose of the bag. (Watch Video)

Porter Cable Nailer/Compressor Kit

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Porter-Cable Nailer/Compressor Kit

The Porter-Cable Nailer/Compressor Kit includes a 150 PSI compressor with six-gallon tank that weighs only 30 pounds for easy carrying. It also comes with a 16-gauge pneumatic finish nailer and 25-foot hose and is available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Screwing metal post bracket to concrete walk.

Ask Danny Lipford:
Attaching a Wood Post to Concrete

To attach a wood handrail post to a concrete walk or slab, drill holes in the concrete and use lead shields and lag bolts to attach a metal post bracket to the concrete. Insert the post in the bracket and screw or nail it in place. (Watch Video)





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  • Nicholas Balandiat Says:
    January 1st, 2016 at 11:45 am

    This looks like a cool and simpler way to get of the snow!



  • lorraine bivens Says:
    December 8th, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    i have a long driveway which i shovel ever year, but i want to not shovel it this year. i am hoping i can win this because i do not want to use any gas or electric, just battery. let me know. looking for award to use this this year.


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Exterior Upgrades