Welcome to August! Before you know it you'll be sending your little ones back to school. In the meantime, make the most of summer with a few of TOH's Family Projects and teach your kids valuable basic DIY skills-while spending some quality time. As always, supervision and safety are paramount. But This Old House will provide all the know-how you need for a successful project. -Tabitha Sukhai for thisoldhouse.com
1. Build a Backyard Fort
Build a fort
Every kid ought to have a backyard fort! It's the perfect place to let their imaginations run wild. They can create a magical world of knights and dragons or pirates and buried treasure-or just a kid-run kingdom. The design of this fort encourages tons of fun, with a super-cool kid-sized hatch-complete with a peephole to check out visitors-and a flag that kids can design and make themselves. It'll take 3 hours to build, then you can all enjoy the play structure for years to come. Here are the Step-by-Step with Templates and How-To Video
Blog Posts by This Old House Magazine
- This Old House Magazine | Team Mom – Wed, Aug 1, 2012 11:47 AM EDT
Welcome to August! Before you know it you'll be sending your little ones back to school. In the meantime, make the most of summer with a few of TOH's Family Projects and teach your kids valuable basic DIY skills-while spending some quality time. As always, supervision and safety are paramount. But This Old House will provide all the know-how you need for a successful project. -Tabitha Sukhai for thisoldhouse.comRead More »from 7 DIY Projects to Do with the Kids Before They Head Back to School
Get the scoop on those winged stingers around your home-and learn how to get them to buzz off! -Keith Pandolfi, This Old House magazine
Honeybee Honeybees: What They Do
Docile honeybees are essential pollinators in gardens. They nest in protected areas, like tree cavities, or within attics or walls. If aggravated, they'll sting just once; their barbed stingers rip off, killing them. (Their fatter, fuzzier bumblebee cousins can repeatedly inflict a painful sting.)See here how to reduce your risk
MORE: Dealing with Household Disasters
Carpenter Bees: What They Do
Known for their ability to bore perfectly round holes into wood, they're often found Carpenter Beein eaves and beneath decks. As females build the nest, males flit about looking menacing, but, surprisingly, they can't sting. And while females can, they rarely do.See here how to reduce your risk
MORE: Easy First Aid for Household Injuries
Yellow Jackets: What They Do
These territorial, aggressive predators feed on caterpillars,Read More »from How to Deal with Bees and Other Stinging Insects
- This Old House Magazine | At Home – Thu, Jul 19, 2012 3:23 PM EDT
How to Stop That Running ToiletRead More »from How to Stop that Running Toilet and More Easier-Than-You-Think Fixes
Expert advice for solving seven annoying lavatory problems and other easy repairs to your loo!
See more of our vital guide to toilets here!
Installing a Toilet
1. Replace your old toilet in just one day with step-by-step help from TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey
2. Say goodbye to that sweaty toilet-a problem in hot, humid summer-by installing a toilet-tank insulator or an antisweat valve
3. Avoid water damage caused by a leaking toilet by installing a new wax ring to create a watertight seal
4. Unclog a toilet like a pro in only 5-10 minutes
5. Quickly replace the tank's worn rubber flapper valve, one of the most annoying plumbing problems, with a pro's foolproof instructions
rocking toilet fix
6. Steady that rocker! Richard Trethewey outlines the right way to take the wobble out of your throne
7. Learn to speak toilet by identifying parts and diagnosing problems so you can fix a leaky or runny commode with ease
See more expert advice on how to fix your toilet at
- This Old House Magazine | At Home – Thu, Jul 5, 2012 12:20 PM EDT
Make an Easy DIY Canopy
Make an Easy DIY Canopy. Drape fabric between four poles sunk in the ground for a DIY sunshade. Use tent pins to anchor lines that run from the pole tops to the lawn. Find the products shown here.
Find the products shown here.
See ALL of our tips for creating al fresco dining at your house in 25 Thrifty Ways to Create Outdoor Dining.
Read More »from Thrifty Ways to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Dining Room
Outdoor roomRead More »from How to Create the Perfect Summer Porch
By thinking of the spaces outside your house the same way you think about the ones inside, you can transform your property with versatile outdoor living areas that draw family members and friends. The porch shown above demonstrates the idea of furnishing a porch, deck, or patio like a living room. This designer went as far as adding electrical outlets for lamps and recharging his laptop. Streamlined furniture, such as an armless, weatherproof sofa, petite metal chairs, and painted wood tables-all found at yard sales or on eBay-expand the space even further. For more on this space, see Rooms With a View.
When it comes to outdoor entertaining spaces, striking the right balance between casual and sophisticated can be a challenge. This open-air dining room makes it look easy, blending British Colonial-style furnishings (including a caned daybed bought for only $20 at a flea market) with laid-back, island-inspired touches like rattan lamps and flowing curtains. See How to Create an Out of
- This Old House Magazine | At Home – Tue, Jun 26, 2012 12:23 PM EDT
Beat break-ins this summer vacationBefore you head out for that hard-earned trip to the shore or mountains, take a moment to batten down the hatches at home. Turns out summertime is peak season for house thefts, according to the Burglary Prevention Council, which keeps statistics on where intruders break in. The good news: You don't need an expensive high-tech alarm system. A few well-placed (and well-priced) locks and security devices will do the trick.Read More »from Burglar-Proof Your Home Before You Take-Off for Vacation
SEE ALL: Easy, Affordable Ways to Prevent Break-ins
How to stop break-ins during summer vacation
Front Door: 34% of Break-Ins. Most break-ins occur here, so invest in a solid, pick-resistant deadbolt lock (and remember to lock it!) An added step: Keep your outdoor entry light on a timer so it illuminates your house at night. Smartkey, $30; Kwikset
Where break-ins happen: Front door
First-Floor Windows: 23% of Break-Ins. You'll need sash locks, of course, but easy-to-reach windows should get double protection. This wireless alarm system sounds off every time a window is opened to scare away would-be intruders. GE Wireless Alarm System kit with 3
AC Know-HowAh, the sweet relief of a cool, dry house after a hot, sweaty afternoon of yard work. Like any mechanical system, AC needs a little TLC to run smoothly, including many tasks you can tackle on your own. We asked This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to share his know-how for central air and window units.Read More »from 3 Things You Need to Know About Air Conditioning
SEE ALL: Everything You Need to Know About Air Conditioning
1. You've got to change the filter
Dirty filters kill your AC's efficiency, so install a new one every month during the cooling season for central and window units (or clean them if you've got the washable type). Look for the filter's minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, which ranges from 1 to 12 for home AC units; the higher the number, the better filtration it provides (and the more energy needed to pull air through it, so balance air-quality concerns with energy costs).
2. It would serve you well to fix air leaks
Ducts can lose up to 30 percent of airflow through leaks, and window AC units
Father's day weekend is upon us! Is YOUR dad covered when it comes to must-have tools? Check his inventory against our must-have lists for the beginner, semi-skilled, and experienced DIYer-dad. Just remember that no experienced DIYer's kit is complete unless it contains the tools from the beginner and semi-skilled collections!Read More »from Must-Have Tools for Every Skill Level
See the full list here!
Beginner Skill Level: You can fix almost anything with some basic hand tools.
1. Screwdriver Set. We recommend this set from Stanley Tools
2. Tape Measure. We recommend this model from Stanley Tools
3. Toolbox. We recommend this model from Ace Hardware
4. Hammer. We recommend this smooth-faced claw model from Plumb
5. Duct Tape. We recommend this kind from Gorilla Glue
6. Flashlight. We recommend this model from Snap-On
7. Set of Pliers. We recommend this set from Channel Lock
8. Utility Knife. We recommend this model from Stanley Tools
9. Putty Knife. We recommend this model from Hyde Tools
10. Handsaw. We recommend this model from
When it comes to our homes, there eventually comes a time when we all need to invest in a face-lift. Whether it was simply a fresh coat of paint, or an entire external revamp, you all showed us that there's a lot of hard work, dedication, and pride that comes with being the best-looking house on the block. Here is a look at the top picks for curb-appeal remodels in our fifth-annual Reader Remodel Contest, chosen by the editors at This Old House.Read More »from 5 DIY Curb Appeal Before and Afters
See ALL our favorite curb appeal before and afters from the 2012 Reader Remodel contest at ThisOldHouse.com!
1. Before: The Winner! A Colorful Queen Anne Restoration
Who: Diana K.
Where: Bloomington, IL
She wanted to preserve this 1894 Queen Anne house, for which demolition was imminent. In order to do that, she purchased and moved the house to a vacant double lot in 2004.
After: The Winner! A Colorful Queen Anne Restoration
She and her family successfully restored the house to its 1894 appearance, and we have created an authentic landscape
beat the heat this summerNo, it's not your imagination-it definitely is getting hotter. The eight warmest years on record occurred over the past decade. And it's only going to get more brutal; all sources say that Summer 2012 is going to be a real scorcher. But staying cool this summer doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay a fortune to keep the air-conditioning running day and night. Here are a few tweaks-most costing less than $25 to complete-that will keep you comfortable and cut the typical $1,000 cooling bill by as much as half. What's needed to get the temperature to drop? Only a little time and a few changes in your routine. Keep reading to learn more.
SEE ALL: Top 10 Ways to Beat the Heat
Tip 1: Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat lets you preset temperatures for different times of the day, so air-conditioning is working only when you are home. The least expensive thermostat models ($30) let you set four cycles that, unless manually overridden, repeat every day.Read More »from Best Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer