We will try diligently to put up several tips weekly or cover basic repairs that all homeowners encounter from time to time. If, however, you come across a particular problem or have questions relating to home improvements / repairs that we haven't covered, please call the number listed above or drop us an E-mail (email@example.com) or call (410) 835-8010. We'll list the question and get you an answer. If it's a problem outside of our area of expertise, such as Heating, Air Conditioning, plumbing, or even Solar / Wind power, we'll get up with people we know in the field and get the answers you need. We'll even give you their name and number so you can get further help if you need it. We hope you'll enjoy reading and learning from this blogsite as much as we believe we'll enjoy putting it together.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Since many of us live in older homes, I hought it would be appropriate to address a common painting problem common to older homes - dealing with old wallpaper.
First and foremost we must always remember that prep work is the most important part of any good paint job. The type of preparation is governed by the type and age of the surface you're painting over and the type of paint you're applying. Always use drop clothes to cover flooring and furniture and remember to remove outlet and switch covers.
We have two choices. We can paint over the old wall paper or we can remove it. If the old wallpaper is attached well to the wall you may elect to paint over it. If it is loose and bubbled off of the wall in areas, it is more practical to remove what we can. In the case of most older homes, this wallpaper will be applied to plaster walls rather than gypsum board drywall.
What ever way you choose to go, it is advised that you go over the walls you intend to paint and remove all nails, screws, etc., that may have been used to hang things such as pictures.
If we choose to remove the old wallpaper, we go to our local paint store and buy something called a "paper tiger". A paper tiger is a small handheld rolling device that you move over every section of the wall that puts small holes in the wall paper. Next you apply a mild chemical, such as "DIF", that attacks the glue beneath the wallpaper through the holes left by the paper tiger. This makes it easier to scrape the wallpaper from the plaster. Following the maufacturers recommendations, we then scrape the old wallpaper from the wall, getting down to the plaster as completely as possible while still wet with the DIF. Once this step is complete, we allow the wall to dry after which we sand the wall lightly to remove any paper, etc., left stuck to the wall. Pay special attention to those areas in corners and around window and door trim. Choosing to remove the old wallpaper adds a significant amount of time to the job but is often the best choice. It may well be the only acceptable method if the wallpaper is in bad shape or the existing wallpaper is "flocked" (having a velvet pattern) or raised.
If we choose to leave the old wallpaper and paint over it, the aforementioned process will obviously not be necessary. The following step applies to both options.
The next step is known as "Freezing". It is important to know that wallpaper will absorb water and wallpaper glue is water soluble - it dissolves in water. Freezing is a process by which we apply a water proof film over the wall to prevent the water in latex based paint from permeating the wallpaper and dissolving the glue underneath. It also seals any stains caused by the glue itself. If you skip this process, you will end up with wallpaper that falls off of the wall as you are painting. You will also end up with dark brown stains in your finished painted wall. This is a mess and can ruin your day.
I choose to use "Kilz" oil based stain sealer. I have tried others but none compare to oil based Kilz. Apply Kilz in the same manner you would regular paint. Cut in corners and around windows, doors, and baseboards with a brush and roll the flat walls with a roller. Kilz does, however, have a very strong odor. Use only in a well ventilated area or use an appropriate respirator.
After the Kilz is dry, we can begin working with joint coumpound. You will need a 5lb. bucket of joint compound, a putty knife, a pan, and a 12 in. broadknife. these things are available at Lowe's or Home Depot and are relatively inexpensive.
If we left the walpaper in plave we will use the putty knife to fill nail holes and the 12 in. broad knife to cover the wallpaper seams with THIN coats of joint compound. Remember this tip: It's easier and faster to take the joint compound off with a broad knife while it's wet than it is to sand clumps off after it dries. Use long, thin coats of joint compound so that there won't be much sanding later.
If we removed the old wallpaper, there will be a very porous plaster surface left behind. We will need to cover the entire wall with thin laters of joint compound. This will fill all holes, pores in the plaster, and low spots inherent in plaster walls. Remember - long thin coats of joint compound.
After this step has been completed, we must sand the joint compound to take out ridges or clumps we left behind when we applied it. Use a sanding sponge and go over every inch of the walls we are to paint. Once you are satisfied with the smothness of the wall we are ready to apply primer and paint.
Priming is an important step. Use a high quality latex primer tinted to a color that best matches the finish paint. Apply it the same way you would the finish paint. Use long uniform strokes with the roller from top to bottom, being careful not to leave behind roller marks as they will be visible in the finished product. Also, be sure to brush out any runs that may come from your brush as you cut around windows and doors.
Two coats of finish, or top coat paint is advisable. Apply it in the same manner as you did the primer listed above.
This is a relatively easy project that can be completed by most homeowners. The finished product can be personally rewarding and will change then entire atmosphere of the room. I have included a few videos below to help answer any questions you may have. As always, if you have any questions drop us a line on our e-mail or give us a call. We'll be glad to help you out.
Friday, May 21, 2010
spark plug, and oil. I have included two videos to make this a bit easier for those who have never performed lawnmower maintenance. Doing this yourself can save you a good bit of money. One important safety tip: ALWAYS REMOVE THE SPARK PLUG WIRE FROM THE SPARK PLUG PRIOR TO DOING ANY WORK ON YOUR MOWER. SERIOUS BODILY INJURY CAN RESULT SHOULD THE MOWER START WITH YOUR HANDS OR OTHER BODY PARTS WITHIN REACH OF A SPINNING BLADE.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Switches can range from a simple on and off switch to dimmers and timers. AND they can be the only switch that operates a light or fan, or they can be one of a number of switches that operate the same device.
For the purposes of this post we will work with a standard on/off switch.
Remember - ALWAYS turn of the breaker that feeds electricity to the switch before beginning. That being said I have included the following video that will guide you through the process.
If the switch you want to replace is one of two that control the same fixture, there will be an additional wire. Be certain to note which wire is removed from which screw on the old switch and re-attach the wires to the same positions on the new switch. As always, if you have any questions please give us a call.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
As I got older and struck out on my own, I got a job with some siding installers. I was doing a very bad job at caulking around some windows and the homeowner said "I know everyone has to learn, and everyone has to start somewhere - but would you mind learning on someone elses house?"
From that moment on I knew that I was going to have to master the art.
In order to get serious about caulking, you must have good equipment - and by that I mean a good caulking gun. There are two types available. There is the type on which you must release the tube pressure when you stop, and then there is the "dripless" caulk gun. I prefer the latter. There is nothing more frustrating than laying down a nice bead of caulk only to have the tube keep spewing out gobs of caulk when you stop.
Once you chosen a good gun, you must choose he right caulk for the job. For tubs, a good silicone bathroom caulk is a good choice. For windows a good elastomeric or latex, siliconized paintable caulk for the interior and a urethane caulk for the exterior is the way to go. Keep this in mind - with caulk you get what you pay for.
The surface your about to caulk must be clean and dry. The smoother and cleaner the surface, the better the end result will be. Now - down to business.
Install the tube in the gun and cut a small angle on the plastic tip. For some applications cut from the very tip to make a small bead. For larger gaps, cut further down the tip for a larger bead. With urethane caulk you will have to insert a poker down the tip to break the membrane to allow the caulk to come out. With the latex caulk you won't have to do that.
Start at one end of the seam to be caulked. Place the tip into the corner at a slight angle with the opening facing in the direction you're tip will travel and gently squeeze the handle. When the caulk begins to come out, gently and with slow, constant speed, move the tip toward the end of the line you're cauking. The goal is to squeeze out just enough caulk to fill the gap completely, but only enough that you can smooth with the angled tip as you are squeezing it out. Don't stop moving the tube until the caulk has stopped coming out of the tip. It sounds complicated but it isn't. One rule of thumb. Regardless of what these vidoes that follow tell you - keep your fingers out of the caulk as much as possible. One video makes it appear as though smooting the bead with your finger is part of the process - but it isn't. Not unless you have to.. If it's not as neat as you would like it, go back and trim it with a Stanley knife after it dries.
There are some circumstances when you can't avoid it but do what you can to keep your fingers out. Once you put your fingers in the caulk be certain to have PLENTY of rags.
I would really welcome the opportunity to personally show you how to do it but the following videos should suffice. If you still have questions or difficulties, give me a call and I'll try to walk you through it. If it's something you don't think you want to get involved in, give me a call and I'll give you a free estimate.
If the weight can be supported by just drywall anchors you can go to your local home improvement store and pick up some really great hangers with really aggressive threads that screw into the drywall. They come in different sizes depending on the weight of the item to be hung. Often the weight can be divided among two or more anchors. These anchors, however, do have their limitations. These weight limits are clearly marked on the packaging. Please DO NOT exceed the weight rating. There are also many different types of hanging devices available such as toggle bolts, etc., and there are different types of wall material such as old horse hair plaster. It's important to match the type of anchor to the type of wall and the weight of the object to be hung.
If the item to be hung is too great for anchors than we have to find studs (verticle structural framing members located in the wall beneath the drywall) and fasten hangers through the drywall into these studs. These studs are most likely placed 16 inches apart center to center, and are mostly 2"x4" of 2"x6". While this is the strongest method by which to hang anything on your walls, they are often not located exaclty where you want them to be. You can locate these studs by tapping on the wall to find the solid areas behind the drywall or you can use a stud finder.
Below is a video that can give you a better idea of what I'm talking about. If you have any questions don't hesitate to give me a call.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Changing or adding a ceiling fan can dramatically change the character of a room. For some, the thought of taking on such a task can be frightening. Fear not! If there is electricity already running to a fixture in the center of the ceiling, almost anyone can do it. The video below can help you convert that drab old room into a room where you long to spend some after dinner time with a book or a nap on a Sunday afternoon.
Any questions? Give us a call!