Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mike Holmes: The Proper Way to Sand and Stain Your Deck

Many of us live a very urban lifestyle and long for the simplicity of nature. There's no better way to reconnect with nature than incorporating natural materials in our everyday lives. A wood deck is a beautiful way to create a natural and tranquil environment that's perfect for relaxation, but wooden outdoor surfaces require constant maintenance to keep them looking good. Wooden decks need regular washing, sanding, and staining to protect their surfaces from the elements. In the article below, Mike goes into detail about the proper way to maintain a wooden deck, and believe me, Mike knows first hand how much work goes into deck maintenance. Just check out a recent photo of Mike relaxing on his own cedar deck:

Mike's rules for staining a deck right? If you don't know what you're doing or can't do it safely yourself, hire a pro to do it. Don't use clear or translucent stains in areas that get a lot of traffic. Last but not least, use the right tools for the job -- get a proper stain brush! Decks should be power washed, sanded, and stained as often as mother nature dictates to keep your wooden surfaces protected and looking their best.

From the National Post:

Mike Holmes: How to sand and stain your deck — the proper way

I’ve heard a lot of talk about outdoor wood structures and maintenance. Some people might tell you that if you go with something expensive, like cedar, that you don’t need to stain it — that it weathers to a natural grey-looking colour. But I know I wouldn’t want my wood going grey, especially not after spending so much money on it. Before it does, make sure you protect it properly.

I’ve spoken to a lot of pros over the years and they all agree on one thing: If you have wooden structures on your property, whether that’s a deck, shed or fence, they require maintenance, no exception.

All wood, except manufactured products like composite wood — even pressure-treated lumber — need to be sanded and stained. If you want it to last, you have to put in the time and some elbow grease.

Here’s how the pros handle their wood:

1. Start with a pressure washer. If you’re working on a softer wood, such as pine, spruce or cedar, be careful with the pressure washer setting (you want to use the wide fan) and how close you hold the wand to the wood surface, because a pressure washer can damage a softer wood. Test it out first on a spot that’s hidden. If you see that the wood fibres start to lift, back off.

If the wood surface has a lot of old product on it, you might need to use a stain or paint remover. Follow the instructions and use protective gear if you go this route, but try to avoid using harsh chemicals if you can. This is also a good time to use an anti-mildew treatment. Go with one that’s biodegradable. After it’s been washed, let the wood dry for at least a couple of days.

2. The next step is sanding, but make sure there is no chance of rain. If the wood gets wet after it’s been sanded, but not before it’s been stained or painted, it’s back to square one — you’ll need to wash and sand it again.

Some homeowners will want to rent a big floor sander to do a large wooden surface like a deck floor. Don’t do that. These machines are heavy and they won’t be able to reach the entire surface of most wooden planks. Floor sanders can only sand surfaces that are perfectly flat, and deck boards are slightly curved. That means it will take off too much in some sections and not enough in others.

Unfortunately, the only way to do it right is by hand with a belt sander, palm sander and sanding sponge — not to mention the proper safety gear, too, such as safety eyewear and respirators. If you can’t do it safely yourself, hire the pros.

Pros start with a belt sander using a heavier grit belt (something like 50) working backwards on the boards. Then they’ll use a palm sander for the areas the belt sander couldn’t reach; followed by a sanding sponge wrapped in sand paper for the areas the palm sander couldn’t reach. Then they’ll repeat that process using a lighter grit (60/80). This leaves a nice, smooth surface that will take the stain consistently.

3. Finally, it’s staining time. The general rule is the thicker the stain, the better the protection.

Clear coats provide no protection; so don’t waste your money. Translucent or semi-transparent stains are also very thin; you will need to reapply every year. For smaller structures, such as an arbour or a pergola, it might not be a big deal, but for larger surfaces such as a wooden deck, you’ll want to go for something thicker that lasts longer.

For maximum protection, use a solid stain or paint, at least on the surfaces that get the most wear and tear. Then you can have a more natural-looking stain on the other areas.

And always use a proper stain brush!

How often do you need to do this? It depends. I’d say at least once every two years, but Mother Nature has her own agenda. If the next time it rains, water beads and pools on the wood, that means it still has some protection. If it doesn’t, it’s time for some maintenance.

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mike Holmes At the 2015 FOX Programming Presentation in New York City

As was announced earlier this month, Mike Holmes has been given the opportunity to host a prime time reality series on the FOX Broadcasting Network (home of the Simpsons, not the news network, although both are owned by the same parent company). The show will be called Home Free and gives nine deserving couples the chance to win their dream home. For more information about the series, see Mike Holmes to Host "Home Free" New Reality TV Series on Fox Network. Today, Mike Holmes was an attendee at the 2015 FOX Programming Presentation in New York City. The star-studded event was held at Wollman Rink in Central Park. The purpose of the event was for FOX to announce their new primetime series for the 2015-2016 season. Photos of the even were released today, and it appears Mike, whose entourage included his daughter Amanda, was all smiles.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mike Holmes: Don't Wait For Accidents To Happen

The month of May brings more than nice weather and flowers from all of those April showers. The month of May seems to inspire everyone to renovate and perform maintenance on their homes and yards. May is also Building Safety Month. In the past, Mike Holmes has served as an honorary ambassador for Building Safety Month, emphasizing that building projects be done with both health and safety in mind. In the article below, Mike implores homeowners to be proactive in preventing accidents by taking common sense measures such as wearing appropriate safety gear. Work gloves, safety glasses, and the correct footwear should never be optional when performing maintenance around the home and yard. Little safety measures could be the difference between a beautiful yard and a trip to the emergency room.

From the National Post:

Mike Holmes: Don’t wait for accidents to happen, prevent them

Mike Holmes, Postmedia News | May 2, 2015

May is a really big month in the world of construction and homes — everyone’s starting to work on their house, either by doing some regular maintenance and landscaping or starting a reno. But no matter what type of work you decide to get done, make sure the results not only look good but also give you a safer, healthier home.

May is Building Safety Month and building safety is really about being proactive. Don’t wait for an accident to happen — prevent it.

The scariest story for me was when a small boy accidentally drank paint thinner that was in a water bottle. A contractor working on the house had left it behind. And, if you can believe it, the contractor took the homeowners to court because they wouldn’t pay him more! (Don’t worry, he lost.)

There are certain basic safety rules we must all follow when working on our homes, whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring someone else to do it. That includes things like wearing work gloves and safety glasses. Years ago, I almost lost my eye because I wasn’t wearing my safety glasses.

When I was about 22 years old, I was cutting a piece of plywood on a table saw.

I saw a knot and I said to myself, “You should be wearing safety glasses.” I wasn’t. When it got to the knot the blade fired the plywood back, and it hit me right underneath my eye. Less than a centimetre higher and I’d be telling a different story. That was enough for me. From that day forward, I’ve used safety glasses all the time.

Also, use a respirator when sanding and there’s debris or toxic fumes in the air. Also, make sure there’s proper ventilation when painting — no exception — or when using gas-powered tools.

And don’t forget to wear proper steel-toe work boots when working outside, in your house or whenever there is the potential for injury. I know too many weekend warriors with broken toes and feet because they decided to garden wearing sneakers or sandals.

Also, keep the job site clean. I don’t care whether you’re just painting or doing a big demo — clean up as you go along, not just at the end of the day. It’s one of the simplest ways to prevent an accident. Let me give you an example.

When I was still renovating with my dad, I was working on this job where I was pulling drywall and ceiling tiles and throwing them on the floor. It wasn’t long before the entire floor was covered. My dad told me I should clean it up; I thought I’d do it later. I went to stand on a chair to reach something — not safe — and next thing I know I was on the floor with a nasty cut. Why did I fall? Because one of the chair’s legs was sitting on a piece of drywall that was covering a hole in the floor for the register.

So there are the basic safety protocols we should all follow when working around the house or when other people work on our homes. But building safety is also about taking care of home issues that have a direct impact on your health.

There are plenty of instances where keeping your home safe protects your health, too, whether it’s building to code so there’s proper ventilation and no dangerous fumes coming into our homes, using VOC-absorbing drywall or paint, or doing a radon test and addressing a radon problem if there is one. (Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, and first for non-smokers.)

A safer, healthier home should be at the top of everyone’s priority list — not just during May, but every day. Be safe: Hire the pros when you need them, and do what you can to keep your home healthy for you and your family. To me, that’s making it right!

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit