Drywall Repair

Even though gypsum drywall, which has powdered rock as its main component, can be nearly indestructible in commercial applications, the 1/2-inch-thick panels nailed over studs in many houses can become torn, chipped, cracked, fractured or punctured. Here are some of the drywall repair techniques you can use to deal with problems ranging from small surface scrapes to large cave-ins.
Corner damage. On corners that protrude into a room you can patch small nicks with drywall compound. But for more protection, install a corner guard, an L-shaped metal strip with a narrow, neat corner edge that is nailed over drywall panels where they meet at a corner.
With a corner guard in place, spackling is simple because you can work on each side of the corner independently. Spread compound with a spackle knife supported on one side by the drywall and on the other by the metal corner. Joint compound will cover the perforated flange where nails attach the guard to the wall. Spackle over each side of the guard in at least two stages with light sanding in between as needed. The compound, or “mud,” should cover all of the metal guard except a narrow strip at the corner, which can be painted.
Surface paper tears. Once the surface paper on wallboard is torn you should remove it to make a permanent repair. If you try to spackle over the tear, dry spots underneath and frayed edges often cause the tear to work loose. Get better results by neatly trimming torn surface paper to a straight edge with a utility knife, then filling in the shallow exposed section with compound.
Small surface fractures. First determine whether minor damage is so widespread that patching would not be cost effective. Although there is no hard rule about when to re-cover and when to repair a room that is in really bad shape, bear in mind that re-covering an existing surface, even with 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch panels, is almost as much work as installing the first layer of wallboard.
Extensive repair work can be time consuming, but usually is preferable to resurfacing because small depressions are easy to fix. Simply apply successive coats of a spackling compound, allowing each coat to dry before re-coating. On deeper cracks and holes, fill the damaged area in stages to avoid cracking instead of applying one thick coat.
Large gouges and holes. Through-the-wall holes can be repaired three ways. On minor punctures, you might get away with stuffing chicken wire or screening into the wall cavity to provide support for layers of compound. This quick-and-dirty system is the least likely to last without cracking.
On larger holes, make a more durable drywall repair Austin by cutting out the damaged area and making a two-layer drywall patch. Start by cutting out a rectangle around the damaged area, then make a piece of drywall bigger than the cutout that will just barely fit through the rectangle when you insert it diagonally. Attach a string to a nail or dowel and slip it through a small hole in the backer panel so you don’t lose it in the wall cavity, then butter the edges that will overlap the hole on the inside with construction adhesive. Next, slip the backer into the hole, rotate it and pull on the string to cement the backer in place. After the cement dries, you can butter the edges of a second patch piece cut to fit exactly into your rectangle. It will be supported by the backer piece and its edges can be spackled and sanded flush with the wall surface.
To repair very large holes or fractures use the third repair method. Cut out a section of the drywall panel up to the center lines of wall studs – normally set 16 inches on center – on each side of the damaged area. Then a new piece of drywall can be nailed or screwed in place using the edges of the studs for support.
To make cuts in drywall, even a sharp drywall knife has to be drawn along the cut lines repeatedly before it slices through 1/2-inch gypsum panels. The blade is likely to bind and may require a lot of pressure, which can lead to accidents. The job is easier and safer if you cut a narrow V-shaped trench through the panel.
Chronic cracks. Many houses move enough seasonally to disrupt wallboard joints on a regular basis. There are two possible solutions to these chronic cracks. The most drastic is to bury them under molding, for example, by creating a lattice pattern on ceilings.
But if standard compound and paper tape drywall patching hasn’t held in the past, try to close the crack with a stronger patch before burying the problem. Scrape down the edges of the crack, fill it with compound and spread an embedding coat on the surface. Instead of using conventional paper tape, substitute fiberglass gauze that is used by roofers to close flashing seams against flat and low-slope roofs. The fiberglass has more holding power than paper and may keep the crack closed.

Beautiful and Functional: today’s kitchen has to look good and work well

New kitchen designs are not only functional but beautiful, incorporating traditional details with modern convenience features.

Builders sometimes exclude formal dining rooms and allocate more space to incorporate a larger, eat-in kitchen. Often the kitchen opens into the family room in many new home designs.

Kitchen expansions are an increasingly popular renovation.

Space planning

An average kitchen renovation will cost $10,000 to $20,000, so put some thought into planning it well so you’ll enjoy it for a long time.

You should start out by giving your designer the layout of the existing kitchen. The designer should accurately convey to you what your new kitchen will look like before the work is done.

Here are some things to consider when deciding how you want to re-design your kitchen layout.

The appliances in your work triangle – the sink, stove and refrigerator – should be in close proximity to each other and away from heavy traffic areas. Traffic flow is important to consider, as well as work stations.

Consider where the doorways are and if they lead from heavy traffic areas. Plan where you would like to perform various tasks and incorporate lighting accordingly.

A double access kitchen concept is designed with separate work stations – both equipped with sinks – so two people can work in the kitchen at the same time.


Maple is the number 1 choice in cabinet doors, because of its smooth tone and closed grain so moisture doesn’t get in easily.

There is a wide range of colors available in maple. Natural cherry is also a popular choice in wood because it adds warmth.

Colors are more broadly accepted, although they have to be subtle and classic-looking, adding that classic white will always be popular.

Antique glaze is popular and gives the look of stain or paint having been stripped away.

Speckling is a technique meant to create imperfect finish.

The finishes give you a timeless look.

Get two to three estimates before choosing your cabinets. Check for quality. Look very closely at the inside and outside. Check for cracks and unevenness.


Countertops range in price and quality, from granite – which has a natural beauty – to state-of-the-art solid surfaces, and the more common laminate materials.

There’s nothing as beautiful as natural granite of one of the more costly countertop materials.

Granite costs between $150 and $200 per linear foot. The advantage to spending more on granite is the beauty and uniqueness of the natural material. But unlike the man-made materials, granite has pores which make it a little more difficult to clean.

Often countertops and sinks are made from solid surface materials such as corian, an acrylic-based material. Solid surfaces are popular for their seamless look and easy care. They come in a wide range of colors and can have a smooth, modern look or a speckled, granite appearance. These surfaces cost between $95 and $115 per running foot.

Laminate is what most builders use. It is a lower-cost alternative to the other materials. Post-form laminate has a rounded front edge and costs between $60 and $70 per running foot. You can add a richer look to a laminate countertop with a contrasting edge made of a solid surface material, such as copper or wood.

Storage and drawers

Although many builders make drawer systems of particle board covered with melamine or thermofoil, sophisticated new drawer systems are made of steel or aluminum. These metal drawers are self-closing and very strong.

Many drawers also feature innovative and space-saving devices, such as knife blocks built into drawers, molded drawer inserts in a variety of shapes, pull-out towel racks, tilt-out soap trays, and the list goes on.


Details are a big issue in current guidecraft kitchen designs.

He suggests details to add some interest to your kitchen decor. Split spindles applied to the corners of an island can add an ornate, traditional look. Applied moldings on cabinetry, adds depth.

Crown molds or beaded molds are much more predominant and more sophisticated than they were three or four years ago.

Ceramic tiles are used often and are an interesting way to add a personalized touch to a countertop or backsplash.

Open shelves, plate racks and glass cabinet doors don’t serve a practical purpose, but add an attractive touch. Built-in wine racks are also a popular feature in recent designs.


Appliances more flush with the cabinets create an integrated look. Appliances either blend with the cabinetry or stand out completely from the rest of the decor, as with stainless steel.

Built in cooktops and wall ovens are popular, but a little more expensive than single units. There are drop-in stoves that create a similar effect by having the countertop cut out around the stove.

Everyone wants a built-in look, but they don’t want to buy built-in appliances.

Ceran cooktops – made of ceramic glass – are the latest in stoves. These are scratch-resistant and easy to clean. Gas cook tops are also increasingly popular.

10 tips to improve your home

Q. I put in a flagstone walk six years ago on 3 inches of concrete. Now the mortar along the edges and between the stones is breaking up. How can I repair it?

A. Buy mortar mix in a building supply store. Gouge out the crumbling mortar to the full width and depth of the joints. Mix the mortar dry in the bag; then add enough water to make the mix crumbly, not soupy. Press this into the joints very compactly and tightly; if it is done loosely, leaving air pockets in the mortar, the mortar will fail quickly. The edges are a another problem; if there is no border holding the edge mortar in place, it is likely to fail faster than that between the stones. Before filling the edges, install a border to hold the mortar in place. This border could be bricks on end, patio blocks sunk 8 inches into the ground or a 2-by-6 or 2-by-8-inch pressure-treated board. No matter what border material you use, their tops should be even with the top of the walk. A word about mortar; mix only enough to last about 15 minutes; after that, the mortar starts to set up and will be difficult if not impossible to work. You can add a little water to make stiff mortar workable, but the more water you add the weaker the mortar will be. And, to press the mortar compactly into place, invest in a pointing tool ($2). This is an S-shaped steel bar that eases the job of pressing in the mortar.

Q. How long will my roof last on my pergola?

A. There are several types of pergola roofing options. How long a roof lasts depends on the materials and the climate and the temperature conditions to which it is subjected. Although the life expectancy can be many years, in most cases constant general maintenance is necessary.

Q. I plan to put a Formica ceiling in my shower area; perhaps this will end peeling and mildew problems forever. A friend suggested I put up plywood and paint it, but I want to avoid painting it. Someone else put wallpaper on the ceiling. Would this work?

A. You’re right about the plywood; it would need painting and that could peel, and it certainly would not cure the mildew problem. The wallpaper might work but, if it is put up over a peeling ceiling, it could pull itself right off. The Formica is a good idea but, instead of trying to put it on a painted ceiling with contact cement (it won’t work on a painted surface), put up quarter-inch or half-inch plywood and put the Formica on that.

Q. I have planted a lot of daffodils in my lawn and other areas where they have “naturalized,” looking as if they were always there. I want to add to them, but I’m afraid that in the fall, when I plant the new bulbs, that I won’t know where the existing bulbs are because the foliage has gone. Is there an easy way to mark where the existing daffodils are?

A. Necessity is the mother of invention. Try this: Stick a white plastic golf tee into the ground beside each daffodil. When the foliage goes, the tee will remain. Keep it a quarter to an eighth of an inch above the ground; if you step on them, you will simply drive them flush with the ground. At this height, you can mow over them and, in the fall, you will know where to plant your new bulbs.

Q. My nylon-mesh deck umbrella always collects mildew, either while in use or when it is stored away. How can I clean it?

A. Wash with this trusty solution: 1 part bleach and 3 parts of water. When you store it in the fall, make sure it’s bone dry before folding it. If it is dirty as well as moldy, mix a strong solution of Spic and Span and water to which a cup of bleach has been added. Wear skin protection and eye protection when working with bleach; it is caustic and poisonous.

Q. We picked up a rug on a hardwood floor, but the pad underneath disintegrated, leaving all kinds of pits and pieces embedded in the wood. We were able to scrape some of the pieces.

A. Wet the fragments with paint thinner, let it soak for 30 seconds and scrape with a scraper made of wood or scrub lightly with fine steel wool. If that doesn’t work too well, wet the fragments with any kind of oil, let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes and scrub with steel wool. Wash the oil off with a mild solution of detergent and water and don’t use much water.

Q. What drinks are served at a cocktail party?

A. Drinks is obviously the most important aspect of the cocktail party, and your local package store can help you get things rolling. The following liquors are essential to a home tiki bar when throwing a cocktail party: vodka, gin, rum, scotch, bourbon and a Canadian whiskey, such as Seagrams V.O.

Q. I am putting up red cedar clapboards on my house. Is it OK to put the rough side out? I plan to stain them with a solid color stain. I also was told that stain is no good for the pine trim. What can I treat the pine with?

A. It’s OK to put the rough side out; it gives a slightly rustic look (and in some cases a modern look), but it will hold stain better than the smooth side. Any kind of stain will do, but most important when staining is to put thin coats on. You will need two coats when using solid stain; two thin ones is the secret to success. You can also use a solid stain for the pine trim; the only problem is that if the pine has knots, they will bleed through the stain. To prevent that, paint the pine with an exterior oil primer, then stain over that. As for the clapboards, if you can wait a few months before staining them, you might be able to avoid cedar bleed, which is the color of the cedar leaching through the stain. The longer you let the clapboards cure, or dry out, the less bleeding you’ll get.

Q. My driveway slopes toward the garage. Water collects there and seeps into the garage. I propose to build a small trench in front of the garage door 2 feet long, 1 foot wide and 18 inches deep and insert a pipe leading to one side of the driveway that will let the water dissipate harmlessly. It was suggested that the trench need only be 6 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. And will a plastic pipe stand up under the driveway?

A. Either size trench will do, but the bigger one will work better. Fill the trench with crushed stone. The plastic pipe will definitely stand up under the driveway.

Q. Can I varnish the rush seats on my ladder-back chairs? My oak vanity was shimmed on one side to make it level, but there’s a 1/4- to 3/8-inch gap between the bottom of the vanity and the floor. How can I fill that gap and seal it against water seepage?

A. Rush is usually not finished, but two coats of satin polyurethane varnish will keep it from staining. Two thin coats, that is. It is not a matter of filling the gap under the vanity, but of covering it. Buy some oak trim (pine will do, but oak will match the vanity); you can get a piece an inch or more wide and 3/ 8-inch thick. Tack this to the sides and front of the vanity with finish nails. To seal it against water seepage, apply a bead of caulking compound to the bottom edge of the trim; when you place it on the floor and against the vanity, it will ooze out, making a good seal. Wipe or scrape off any of that oozing. Apply the same varnish you used for the rush seats to the trim. It might be necessary to stain it first to match the color of the vanity itself.

Drain Cleaning

Chemical cleaners generally should not be used to treat drains that are clogged to the point where water will not drain at all, or drains very slowly. If a chemical cleaner fails to open a clogged sink, tub or toilet, it can complicate other efforts to remove the blockage.

Chemical cleaners can be used to treat drains that are still open but working sluggishly and will sometimes restore them to full service.

Several types of chemical drain cleaners are available. Some contain caustic substances, mainly lye or acids, that are designed to literally eat through materials such as hair and grease that clog drains. These chemicals are dangerous and can cause serious injury if swallowed or splashed on skin or eyes.

Some chemical cleaners, intended for sluggish or open drains only, contain milder chemicals or use enzymes, which are relatively harmless to humans, to break up materials that accumulate in drains.

A force cup or plunger will work in many cases and should be part of every homeowner’s tool kit. Plungers, which have a rubber cup that is placed over the drain opening and worked up and down, must be used vigorously. Sometimes two or more workouts are needed.

Those who get poor results with a plunger can try other devices that can dislodge clogs with a forceful blast of compressed air or water. These devices are sold at some home centers, hardware stores and plumbing-supply outlets.

A plumber’s snake or drain auger, a flexible cable that is threaded into the drain to dislodge material, is another alternative.

Drains must sometimes be disassembled to remove clogs if other methods fail. If caustic chemical cleaners have been used in a drain, taking it apart can be a dangerous procedure even for skilled plumbers in surprise.

Having a semi-clogged sewer is especially dangerous during periods of heavy rain when the city sewer is backed up and water is pushed into the house. Often, the sewage cannot drain back down into the city system, prompting the homeowner to call to drain cleaning surprise service.

Turn to a professional when it comes to bathtub repair

Q: We moved into an older home that has a badly stained bathtub. Is there any do-it-yourself method of refinishing an older porcelain fixture such as this?

A: Refinishing bath fixtures is a difficult do-it-yourself project. They can be painted, but not with ordinary paint.

Choose one of the newer epoxy or polyurethane paints. These are plastic coating systems. The most durable of these paints come in two-part systems that react chemically when combined to form an exceptionally strong bond and durable, water-resistant finish.

But these paints are difficult to work with and apply. Follow manufacturer’s directions carefully, including the preparation of the surface to be painted.

Although painting can be successful, a better method is to have a synthetic porcelain glaze applied. This is not a do-it-yourself process. A professional should apply the new finish.

These new coatings are available in several colors, and custom colors can be mixed. Check with companies that specialize in repairing and refinishing: bath liners Chester County.

Another method of refurbishing unsightly bathtubs is to have a new bathtub liner installed over the older fixture.

When contracting with a company for refinishing or installation of a liner, it is best to check several suppliers to obtain price estimates and information guarantees.

Q: I bought a home in May 1993. It was renovated by the previous owner, including the painting of clothes racks in the closet. My problem is that the hangers scrape the paint when I slide them.

A: Waxing the rods will help. Or, rub paraffin on the rod to provide a protective coating. Either the wax or the paraffin will lessen the friction as the hangers glide over the rod. For more durability, add varnish over the paint and then wax.

Q: We have acrylic plastic “windows” that we roll down from the patio roof to protect the area from wind. With wear, they have become cloudy, dull and unattractive. I have wiped them down with various window cleaners. They still remain cloudy. Do you have any suggestions on how these might be cleaned?

A: Try applying a furniture polish with a soft, lint-free cloth. Harsher fabrics, even paper towels, will tend to scratch the plastic.

How to Find a Handyman: Tips for Happy Home Rrepairs

The gutters are clogged with frozen leaves, the bathroom faucet leaks, the front door sticks and you either can’t or won’t fix them yourself.

You need a handyman.

Yes, there are people out there who will come to your house and do odd jobs. But you have to choose them as carefully as you would choose someone to add a room.

In general, a handyman does not need a license to perform small repair jobs but does need one for new installations or alterations in a structure. A handyman Tigard can fix a leaky faucet, replace old gutters, paint and do other minor repairs and cosmetic work without a license or permit. But he can’t install a ceiling fan, replace a water heater, run a new electrical circuit or replace a faucet without one.

A handyman will often go into a house to fix something and say, ‘Hey, I can fix your hot water tank for you, too.’ When they do that, they need a license.’

Licensing requirements vary depending on the community. And there are contractors who will claim they are licensed when they are not.

Why bother? If the work requires a permit, then it requires an inspection by a city inspector, who will make sure it was done according to code. That’s a safeguard for a homeowner.

The best way to find somebody is still by word of mouth. It’s not by advertising. Find neighbors who’ve had construction work done.

There’s been a lot of fraud this year. Senior citizens are often the people victimized by shady repair people who either talk them into unnecessary work or walk away with the job undone or poorly done.

By interviewing them, asking them questions, listening to what they’re saying, I can have a feel for who’s good or not. I ask for referrals, talk about jobs I want done. I’m pretty precise. Some people have this vacant look. I know, not only do they not understand what I’m saying, but they don’t care.

Don’t be surprised if the handyman you choose doesn’t choose you.

Why, if there’s a demand for handyman services, are there so few handymen? It’s not an easy business to run successfully. You have to be meticulous about scheduling and bookkeeping to survive doing jobs that pay only a few dollars each.

For that reason, there are far more remodeling contractors than there are handymen, and many of the people who advertise themselves as handymen are actually remodeling contractors who do odd jobs on the side.

Remodeling is more of a glamorous, creative process. Doing repairs is more like piddling around. I enjoy piddling around.

They get some unusual requests. Lower once climbed atop a slippery slate roof and cleaned it for a woman who likes things tidy, top to bottom.

Ask who is actually going to do the work. Some handymen work alone. Others use subcontractors when needed. There’s nothing wrong with subcontractors, but it’s best to know who’s who, especially when they’re working in your house.

If you’re old, call a senior citizens center near you before hiring a handyman. The centers may be able to refer you to a government-funded program that provides minor home repairs free to senior citizens.

In addition to the need for handymen, there’s a need for better education of homeowners in how to maintain a house.

High-Tech Windows

Recent product innovations and designs have moved york windows squarely into the high-tech arena. Improvements in product performance and energy efficiency are key considerations in managing this category and set windows apart from doors, moldings and other millwork items.

Although windows and doors are usually sold in the same department, they are distinct products that call for separate management techniques.

Window manufacturers have improved their products with Low-E and other energy-efficient glazing systems, new framing materials, and better installation systems. The task of selecting–and selling–these high-tech windows requires greater expertise and the need to communicate technical product facts clearly, concisely and effectively to all categories of customers.

The retail window assortment must have a balanced selection with wood, aluminum and vinyl framing; double-hung and casement styles; and specialty windows and patio doors. Local preferences change quickly and must constantly be monitored to keep a productive, fine-tuned assortment.

Additionally, many manufacturers offer double-glazed windows with removable inner glazing panels. These inner panels can be removed in the summer and added in the winter. To carry thermal performance further – particularly in harsh climates such as northern New England or the upper Midwest – a third pane of glass can be added.

Windows with insulating glass assemblies offer another possible advantage. Glass coatings and tints can be applied to any of the surfaces. Each location can provide a different heat-transfer effect or significantly change the visual characteristics of a window. Windows can even be assembled using different types of glass for each layer – most commonly the inner layer is clear and the outer layer can be tinted, coated or both.

Manufacturers also have substantially improved the edge spacers that separate the layers of glass. Thermal breaks, spacers that combine traditional aluminum or stainless steel with less conductive metals, foam spacers and various combinations of these techniques have reduced the problem of heat transfer at the traditionally cold edges of window and patio door glazing.

There are also several other technologies, somewhat experimental, that offer even greater thermal benefits. These include evacuated windows (those with no gas at all between glass layers); so-called “transparent insulation,” which allows light to pass through while preventing heat gain and loss; and windows that can change their performance in response to light and temperature or in response to the flipping of a switch that sends a current through them.

Even more options will be available to builders in the near future. The improved performance will surely give builders who take the time to research and use them a competitive edge.

Outdoor Decorative Lighting

Outdoor lighting has become a favorite project for American consumers. As more and more homeowners have become concerned with not only protecting their homes, but also with the appearance their homes project, they’ve increasingly turned to a variety of outdoor lighting products. But while security lights and motion detectors have been, and continue to be, big sellers for retailers, outdoor decorative lighting – for driveways, decks, gardens and other areas – is also beginning to make a name for itself in many hardlines outlets.

People are staying home more and they want their houses to look nice. Today’s lights are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and are available in a variety of fixtures to light many types of outdoor locations. There are lights and fixtures for driveways, sidewalks, patios, gardens, pools, garages, doors, lawns and decks, just to name a few. And retailers say customer demand for these products is growing rapidly.

Among the different types of outdoor decorative lighting are accent lighting, uplighting, downlighting, grazing, shadowing, path lighting, cross lighting and others. There are fixtures available for the far-reaching needs, and price limits, of all your consumers, both residential and commercial.

With such a variety and selection of lights available, take advantage of this trend by providing the consumer with everything he or she needs to illuminate the exterior of their home. This does not mean simply displaying a wide selection of outdoor lights. It means providing the accessories, training and advice needed to install these lights as well.

Attic improvements

The attic is the one great source of potential new living space in many homes. The first step is to decide how you want to use the space, and to see if it’s practical. Adding new bedrooms is a good use of a converted attic. Gaining extra sleeping quarters is the reason most people convert an attic.

Whatever your decision, consider consulting a builder or architect while developing your plans. A professional can tell you whether your budget is reasonable, and what permits, inspections and variances you will need.

A typical, small, uninsulated cover on an attic-access opening can lose more heat to your attic than the insulated ceiling over an entire large bedroom. Additional energy is lost to air leakage around the cover. Since heated indoor air naturally rises, the air leakage is greatest in the winter. This not only drives up your utility bills, but it creates chilly drafts inside your home. One of the most effective methods of reducing the energy loss is to install attic stair covers.

Air filtration and air filters

Until recently, air filtration wasn’t a product category of much interest to consumers or retailers.

For consumers, remembering to change their furnace or central air conditioner filter was just one more mundane household maintenance chore that was honored more in the breach than the observance.

For retailers, air filtration meant giving up precious space on the sales floor to an unproductive commodity item they had to carry as a service to customers, but on which they were lucky to count their profit, if any, in pennies.

Now, all that has changed along with the nation’s changing focus on environmental and health issues. As the nation has taken steps to clean up its air and water, there’s been a growing awareness that our indoor environments-the air inside our homes and offices – are polluted, too, and that we can do something about it.

Sure, the inexpensive, disposable furnace filter is still around, and will be for years. And it still accounts for the great percentage of unit sales in the category. But today, consumers have a variety of products to choose from among high-efficiency filters that offer far greater performance than anything on the retail market a decade ago. These new filters create substantially greater sales and profit opportunities for retailers than traditional disposable filters. And consumers are actively seeking them.

With so many air filter choices, and limited floor space, choosing what to carry and from whom can be difficult. Lennox Air Filters are essential for indoor air quality.