All Handy Homeowners Should Own This

Contractor John Tool Of The Month!!

If you work around the house, then I have a great tool for you this month. It is one of the most versatile and useful tools you will ever invest in. This scaffold is great for outside work, such as cleaning gutters, hanging Christmas lights, painting, etc. Bring it inside where you can easily set it up in a stairway to clean light fixtures, or change bulbs. Painting those high ceilings are a breeze. This scaffold can be useful in a variety of remodeling projects.
If you need additional height you can stack two sections together. There are optional outriggers for added stability and even a safety rail kit. The wheels have locks that are easy to lock and unlock with your foot.
I have 2 sections that I use for work, and could not be happier with them. Easy to put together and stores flat in an area 2′ x less than 1′.
I had a drop ceiling project where I needed a workbench in the air, so I placed a 2×12 across the 2 ends, instant workbench!
Click on the picture for details!!
Heavy Duty Portable Scaffold


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Read Articles by Expert Author John Knoelk at Ezine Articles


A Quick and Easy Basement Ceiling Finsih

When you are finishing your basement there are a couple options to finish your ceiling. The obvious solution is installing drywall. If the electric and plumbing were routed with a drywall ceiling in mind this will work, but if there are water shutoffs, plumbing traps and electrical junction boxes you will have to access in the future a drywall ceiling is not the correct choice.

A second common choice is a drop or suspended ceiling. Typical ceiling tile size options are 2’x2’ and 2’x4’. These drop ceilings are available in many styles and finishes from relatively inexpensive to very expensive.

A simple and inexpensive solution that is used in some restaurants and bars is to paint everything above the top of the wall line in flat black. The eye will naturally go to the things on the walls and make the ceiling visually “disappear”. If you have a lot of pictures, memorabilia, other wall hangings or a busy flooring material it will help the eye to be drawn to it, look for this treatment the next time you are out to dinner in one of the chain dine-in restaurants.

I suggest you spray the paint on, with an airless sprayer. The last basement job I completed I burned up 2 Wagner sprayers, so I would recommend you rent a commercial sprayer. Another tip is to purchase double the amount of paint you think you will need, it goes fast when spraying. Since it is a stock color, flat black, you can return any you don’t use. Remember to keep some to touch up any new pipes or wires you install down the road.

A couple fans set up to blow overspray out an open basement window will help a lot. Don’t forget to cover anything left out with old blankets or plastic because the overspray will cover it. If you spray after you sand the drywall walls, the mess will be kept to a minimum.

There you have it, a quick and inexpensive way to finish your ceiling, and a very attractive one too.


Change a Sump Pump Easily

Sometimes it seems like the sump pump has it out for people. It will never go bad at 11 am on a Saturday when you are just sitting around. It will go out in the middle of a storm, 11pm on a Sunday. However, changing a sump pump is not as difficult as you would think.

It seems like there are as many choices in sump pumps as there is ham at the deli counter. You should match your pump with the application. How big is your sump pit, what is the vertical height the pump has to push the water, and how many gallons per minute do you expect the unit to pump?

Now you could do all the figuring called for above or just go out and buy a 1/2 hp pump if your vertical lift is 10′ or less (measured from the basement floor to the exit through the wall) and your basement footprint is 1500 sq ft or less.

Unplug the pump and secure the cord so it does not fall into the pit. Draw a line with a marker on the bottom pipe right below the check-valve. Loosen the hose clamp/s on the bottom of the check-valve, letting it slide down the pipe. The check-valve only lets water flow in one direction (look for the arrow) and in this instance that would be up. If you loosen the top connection all the water in the pipe above will drain downward and all over you. Slide the pump one way or the other while gently pulling the check-valve towards your body. You may have to insert a screwdriver up between the pipe and the rubber of the check-valve to loosen it before pulling.

Once you have the pipe and valve separated, lift the pump out of the pit and set it on a couple towels so it can drain. Remove the new pump from the box and review the instructions that came with it. Place the new pump next to the existing one and note if the outlet, where the pipe attached is the same height. If it is the same height then you simply unscrew the pipe from the old pump and attach it to the new pump.

If they are different heights you need to make a new pipe. If the difference is less than ½” it will probably still work, providing you will have at least 1″ of pipe into the check-valve. Use the mark you placed on the pipe under the valve to measure from. Measure from the floor to the top of the pipe and write the measurement down. Using the same diameter pipe as you have now, attach a new pipe to the new sump pump using the measurement you took off the old pump. I suggest using PVC pipe because it is so easy to work with.

After you have the pipe installed secure the cords to it using wire ties or electrical tape. Slide the hose clamp over the new pipe and let it slide down. Place the pump into the pit, tipping it slightly slide the pipe into the check valve. Slide the hose clamp up and secure the check-valve. Stand back and make sure your pipes are straight, if not slide the pump over a little. Secure the remaining cord and plug it in. If the pump does not turn on and there is water in the pit you can manually turn the pump on by lifting the float if you have that style. If not you will need to fill the pit using some buckets or run a hose into the pit until the water level activates the pump switch. The last thing after checking for leaks is to replace the lid.

Remember to file the papers that came with the pump, and send in any warranty information. You are now protected for many years to come, unless there is a power outage, but that is another article.

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Remodeling Your Bathroom; Choosing Your New Bathtub

If you could change one thing about your bathroom, what would you like to change? If you are like many other homeowners, there is a good chance that the bathtub was your response.  In the United States, there are a fairly large number of homeowners who wish that they had a new bathtub.  If you are one of those individuals, did you know that you don’t have to wish any longer? If you want a new bathtub, you should get one.  Making a new bathtub part of your bathroom remodeling project isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Perhaps, the first step in choosing a new bathtub is determining how much money you can afford to spend on one. If you are also remodeling the rest of your bathroom, it is important that you not only focus on the cost of a new bathtub, but also the cost of your other supplies. If you mistakenly spend too much on a new bathtub, the rest of your bathroom remodeling plans could suffer. Also, you will likely find that having a bathtub limit or budget is the best way to save time while shopping. Knowing how much money is too much to spend will prevent you from wasting your time, by examining bathtubs that you cannot even afford.

It is also a good idea to determine, ahead of time, how your new bathtub will be installed.  If you are planning on having a professional install your new bathtub for you, you will need to keep the extra costs in mind. Although you may want to avoid paying a professional contractor, you may need to. There are a number of bathroom contractors who specialize in replacing bathtubs. In fact, some, literally, just place a new bathtub liner right over the old one.  It may be possible for you to do this yourself, but, in most cases, you will find that a professional contactor could have your new bathtub installed in as little as a few hours.

Regardless of whether you choose to install your own bathtub or have a professional do it for you, you will need to decide what type of tub you want. The old standard is a tub made from cast iron. These tubs are very heavy, solid, and last forever. Of course they tend to cost more. Another option is fiberglass, PVC, steel or a synthetic material called AmeriCast, blending the best old and new.  The thinner a tub is the less heat it holds and it will sound hollow. A standard tubs measure 60” or 5’ long. If you are a taller individual or just like to soak in a tub and you have the room I suggest you look into a 72” or 6’ soaker tub, where you can really stretch out,

When a new bathtub replaces an old bathtub, the tubs need to be the same size or style. Therefore, if you are remodeling your bathroom with the hopes of getting a “new,” bathroom, you may be looking for something different.  Luckily for you, you still have an unlimited number of options.

In the United States, the most commonly installed types of bathtubs are often connected right to the wall, placed in a corner, and sit directly on the floor.  What is nice about most traditional bathtubs is that they are relatively affordable.  You can purchase a traditional bathtub for as low as two hundred dollars.  If you are looking for comfort, instead of price, you may want to look into spa-like bathtubs or even massage bathtubs. These bathtubs, as you may assume, cost more than most others.  Many massage bathtubs or spa-like bath tubs retail for around one or two thousand dollars.  If you are looking for a trendy, stylish bathtub, you may prefer to own a freestanding bathtub. Freestanding bathtubs can cost as low as five hundred dollars, but they can also reach into the thousands.

Once you have decided which type of bathtub you would like to purchase, you will need to decide on a particular tub. Perhaps, the best way to do this is to start your shopping. You may find it easier to make a decision when you can see bathtub displays set up.  For a wide selection of bathtubs, including displays, you are advised to checkout one of your local home improvement stores.


Basement Metal Window Frame Replacement

In many areas of the country homes are built with basements. The windows in those basements are set into a metal frame which in turn is set in the concrete foundation. These windows are surrounded by a metal window well on the outside. As time passes these frames begin to rust and deteriorate to a point where they leak water or the window will not function properly. This can also cause a major safety concern as these windows are often the only way to escape in the event of a fire or other disaster when the stairway is blocked. In this article I will show you a permanent attractive solution to solve this problem.

The solution is actually pretty easy, however the material selection has always been the sticking point; but not anymore. Enter Azek wood products and their solid plastic line of dimensional lumber. Azek wood is approved for contact to concrete, below grade applications, as well as wet conditions. There isn’t any off gassing problem like conventional treated lumber and it’s extremely easy to work with, and it’s readily available at most home improvement stores like Home Depot, Menards and Lowes.

Azek wood takes care of the frame, now we need a window solution. Replacement windows work well in this application and are available in custom sizes from many sources. I particularly like ABC Supply and their Vinyl Max Radiance line of windows. Keeping in mind that this window needs to serve as an escape window I would suggest using a side to side slider type window as they can be removed quickly and easily. This window also operates smoothly and you don’t need a lot of strength to remove the window.

The first step in the actual project is to measure the inner most part of the existing metal frame and make your shopping list of the appropriate widths and lengths of Azek lumber that will make up the frame. When measuring for the thickness, (depth) remember you don’t have to extend the new frame to the face of the existing drywall, rather just past the existing metal frame you are covering. If you cannot find Azek wood wide enough you can edge join it, using their specified glue. You can also choose to use a biscuit joiner if you desire. Measure the width in 3 places and the height in 3 places. Using the smallest measurement determine the width and height, then subtract ¼ “ and build your square frame to the thickness (depth) you determined previously. Azek wood has recommended screws and glue that you should use when joining their product.

After your square frame is built you are going to build a “picture frame” on one face of it. Using their 3” wide product, overhang the outside by 1 3/4” (you can overhang more, but watch available clearances) and overhang the inside edge by ½”. The overhang on the inside will serve as a backstop for the window unit. If you are having trouble visualizing this, think about the casing (trim) on any door or window in your home. You can miter the corners or square cut them, wherever your skill level is. You can attach each piece as you go, or you can build it as a separate unit and attach it as one unit.

Once this step is complete you are ready to dry fit the assembled unit into the opening. Remove the existing window and lower the new frame into the window well and slide it into the opening. You may have to work from the inside and/or have an assistant to help set it into the existing metal frame.

Measuring for the window is the next step. Measure the inside, again in 3 places for the width and 3 places for the height. This will give you the outside window dimension you will need to order. Do not subtract from the measurement until you speak to your window dealer, as they will help you with the tolerance.

I recommend you install the frames now and put a piece of plywood in the opening temporarily rather than waiting until you have received the windows. Just be aware that if you use plywood you will most likely lose the ability to exit quickly in the event of an emergency.

Once you are ready to install the frames, place a heavy bead of clear silicone (100% pure silicone, not acrylic) on the inside of the outside overhang frame and slide it into the opening.  One advantage to installing the frames ahead of the windows is you can give the silicone time to set. To secure the frame you may need to install a TapCon type screw into the foundation on either side.  When your frame is set run a liberal bead of silicone around the joint between the foundation and the new frame, remembering pure silicone is not paintable. If you do not use Tapcon screws you will have to wait until the silicone has cured overnight before continuing.

Have a piece of plywood precut to fill in the opening until the silicone adheres. After the silicone has set you can dry fit the window into the frame. If it fits snugly remove it and place a bead of silicone against the stop and re-insert the window. To further secure the window rip several inside stops from the Azek wood product. These stops should hide the gap between the frame and the midpoint of the edge of the actual window frame. They should be about ½” to 1” wide. You can use a router to give them a slight round over on the exposed corner to give it a nice finish. If you were lucky enough to start with a square frame then you may not even need these stops, simply apply a bead of caulk in the joint.

You will need to install stops from the outer most edge of the new frame you made to the drywall or existing metal frame. Just measure the width of the gap and follow the steps outlined above.

There you have it, a very permanent and attractive solution to a problem that has needed a quality solution for a long time. For an easy solution to another problem read my article on custom window well covers.


No Contract Equals Horror Story

Every remodeling project, no matter what size should have a contract. Obviously on very small jobs, a contract might be a 3 or 4 line description of the job. On other larger jobs it can be pages long with a description of the work to be performed, with product specification, including manufacturers and model number information. In addition there should be a section defining the owner’s responsibilities and the course of action to be taken in case of a disagreement, if the parties cannot work it out among themselves. Lastly the payment schedule should be outlined including allowable hold back amounts in the case of a disagreement.

This all sounds nice and neat and in some cases unnecessary, right? When you are doing a small job, for a friend, who needs all that, right? WRONG. All the more reason you need a contract. Let me share a story.

In November of 2011 I was contacted by a casual friend who had been through the loss of a business and bankruptcy and was renting a home for their family. They had an opportunity to buy a home and wanted some minor changes before they moved in, could I help them?

I thought sure why not, this is what I do. They sent me some pictures and a description of the work needed. They also told me they had a budget of about 3k. I thought it would be slightly more than that for what they wanted, but they were friends. I asked them to let me look at the house and I could give them a solid number. If it was a little over their budget we could work it out over a month or two.

The house was currently a rental house and the tenant wasn’t being very cooperative. They would see if we could get in again. I got into the house 2 days before closing and wrote an email to them describing the work and cost of $3500. They said they would give me $1700 to start and $1000 from their security deposit and they asked if we could work the rest out. I told them yes we could and when could I start? They wanted me to start the morning of closing. I was a little uncomfortable with that but we only had 10 days to rip out all the carpet, install new 4” base upstairs as well as installing crown molding in the entire upstairs and paint it all, have new carpet installed (their responsibility) and clean so they could move in.

They stopped in about 3 and announced they had not closed, it was rescheduled for tomorrow. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. We had ripped out all the carpet, base, and 2 sheets of drywall where we had found a leak, we also stripped wallpaper from 2 bathrooms upstairs. Not to worry they said; by the way could I install prefinished hardwood upstairs? Where upstairs I replied. The whole upstairs, 3 bedrooms and the hallway, the bathrooms could stay tile, and how much would it cost? I worked up the price and no sooner then had I given it to them they asked if I could put can lights in the kitchen ceiling? During the next few days they added a few more things and to make a long story short the total grew to $13,800. They had paid me the initial deposit of $1700 and then the $1000 payment, so the balance was $10,900.

We were finishing the painting as they were moving in, everything was completed. Honestly I was kind of proud I got it all done in such a short time period. I have an outstanding team. I gave them a few days to settle in before I sent a final bill. Two days later I had not heard anything, so I called, and left a message. Finally after another email a couple messages and a week had passed I finally received a call from them. We need to talk can we meet and talk about the bill. Not what I wanted to hear. Well another week passed and we sat down to talk.

The husband began to question some of the charges. This was the first he had seen the bill. Quite puzzled I told him I had sent it 2 weeks ago. He said “I never saw it”. We talked it through and he calmed down. He said he was more frustrated with the whole situation and not mad at me, good to hear. He went on to say they did not have the money to pay this bill and the best he could do was $600 a month. I told home that would take over a year; it was unacceptable. He said take it or leave it, that was the best they could do. Did I mention these were friends of mine?

I wrote it all out and got them to sign a document including interest. They made 3 payments and basically stopped. I am still fighting with them for my money, 15 months later. Honestly I will be surprised if I even get ½ of the original balance not including interest.

The moral of this story is never, ever, perform work without a detailed contract, no matter who it is.

Home Theater Design Made Easy

Maybe you thought having a home theater system in your home would be an un-affordable luxury. True, not many households can afford a truly state of the art home theatre system, with a 12’ ceiling, but most people can afford a basic system.  Home theater systems are now available to greater number of households because of the lower cost of components and TV’s. The basic home theater design really only requires three basic components and these three components are very affordable to virtually everyone.


Before you get very far into the designing stage, you need to assess the size of the room you will be using for your home theater experience. The size of your home theater room will determine the components and speakers you will need to maximize the experience.


Home theater expert’s recommendation for smaller rooms is a wall mounted flat screen television set, three speakers and a DVD player. The actual home theater design may be dependent on the shape of the room; however, the position of the speakers will remain basically the same. One to the left, one to the right and one in the center rear of the room.  Basic home theater design really requires a television set bigger than 27 inches. If you chose a smaller screen it may not be sufficient for a movie theater-like experience. Even for a home theater design, you will want to consider the sight and sound of a movie theater and try to duplicate that. Those sights and sounds are the reason why people go to a movie theater; the big screen and the surround sound are a major part of that experience.


Although the basic three speaker design may be sufficient for a smaller room, the larger rooms demand more speakers. In a larger room you may want to go up to six speakers, even adding a complimenting subwoofer may be necessary for the true surround sound effect. Whatever size room you have I strongly suggest spending the extra money you have available to purchase the best speakers you can, because they are the core of the sound experience.


When purchasing your speakers make sure that the store where you buy your speakers will allow you to test the product in your room. If the speakers don’t give you the quality sound you are looking for, the store will allow you to return them.  Don’t be fooled by the sales pitch, you can hear how well they sound right here in our showroom. Things such as the shape of the room, floor and ceiling materials and wall coverings can and will affect the quality of the sound. Test them in your home, or don’t buy.


If your budget is larger you may consider hiring an independent home theater designer. Your home theater designer will be able to design the complete home theater system, complete with furnishings and accessories.  He may recommend using home theater projectors, instead of a flat screen as well as a different arrangement for the speakers.


Whatever your budget is your efforts will create a movie experience, without having to fight the traffic jam. Who knows you may even be able to afford a theater style popcorn maker!! Enjoy!

Moisture Captured; The Problem Born Of Energy Efficiency

Let’s face it moisture inside our home has always been there, and always will be as long as we cook and bath in our houses. When houses were “loose” not insulated well and had an abundance of air changes a day indoor pollutants and interior moisture levels were not a concern. As houses are constructed tighter and tighter and every void is now filled with insulation, indoor air quality and mold issues have risen to problem level. Something as simple as cooking pasta or making homemade soup can and does add a lot of moisture into a home environment.  A quick and simple kitchen solution is to always run your kitchen exhaust fan when you are cooking, and make sure it is vented to the outside and does not just recalculate the air.

We are going to focus this article on bathroom moisture and how to reduce it correctly. The greatest aid in removing moisture from the bathroom is the exhaust fan. If it is not used and sized correctly it will have less than the optimum effect.

One of the ratings on exhaust fans is CFM, “cubic feet per minute” of air displacement. To properly size the fan to your bathroom lets me introduce you to a formula that is used to calculate the correct size of fan needed. Use this formula WxLxHx8ACH = CFH then divide by 60m to get CFM. (Cubic feet per minute is width x length x height x 8 air changes an hour = cubic feet per hour /60 minutes to get cubic feet per minute). A shortcut method is if you have an 8’ ceiling measure the square footage of the floor, say a 9’ by 5’ bathroom floor would equal 45 sq ft and 45 CFM. It is important to properly size the fan because a fan that is too large will waste energy running and also remove too much heated/cooled air from the room.

Remember fans are there to remove moisture and odors, and the closer they are to the source, the better they will function. If you are installing a fan in an enclosed toilet room then consider a vertical mount position on a wall next to the toilet. If you are going to do this then make sure your fan is approved for vertical installation and that the required exhaust duct will fit in the existing wall cavity. If you are installing in a combination bathroom, toilet and tub/shower in the same room then a ceiling mount is the standard method of installation.

When installing the fan in the ceiling do not place it to close to the tub or you could create a draft situation. The goal here is to capture the warm moist air as it is naturally displaced by the water from the shower and not create a vacuum where air is literally sucked out of the shower area. Remember any air traveling over wet skin will feel cool.  A point to remember is as air is removed from the room new air must flow into the room, typically from under a door or from other openings. The discussion of negative pressure situations is a discussion for another article. Experts agree that leaving the fan run for 20 minutes after the water is turned off is sufficient time to remove the excess moisture. Another gauge is when the steam is gone from the bathroom mirror.

If you are installing a new exhaust fan then install a separate switch to operate it, so that you can leave it on without leaving a light on. When venting your fan make sure you vent it to the outside, not just into attic space or you will just be moving the moisture problem from the bathroom to the attic where it can be as troublesome.

Stop Squeaky Floors

From brand new homes to century old mansions squeaky floors have been around forever. There are countless methods and materials available to eliminate these squeaks, but none better than what I will share with you today.

Get yourself a few tubes of quality construction adhesive, (liquid nails is my favorite), a bundle of narrow shims, a step ladder, hammer and a drop cloth or old blanket. As time passes the wood will shrink and/or the adhesive will dry out causing gaps between the floor components. The squeaking comes from movement of these gaps, either wood on wood or wood on a nail. Eliminate the movement, eliminate the squeak…

This technique requires two people and access to the underside of the floor. Get your stepladder in the area of the squeaks and have your partner walk around the room you are working on. How to say this delicately…. You need a heavier person walking on the floor, in this case the more the better.

In prepping the area it is best to put down an old blanket or drop cloth so when you drop some glue it will not damage the floor; and you will drop some.

What you are looking for is movement between the plywood flooring and the floor joists (the long narrow pieces of lumber that support the plywood). Once you have located the area that the noise is coming from take the narrow end of the shim and try to slide it between the plywood and the top of the joist. Don’t be fooled thinking it won’t fit, the angle you will be looking from can be deceiving. When you have found an area that you can get a shim in pull it out and with your caulk gun squeeze as much adhesive into the space and (don’t be stingy)  put  some more on the end of the shim and slip it back into the gap you identified earlier, tapping the end of the ship with a hammer. Look at the other side of the joist and see where the shim came out, to make sure there is glue on the end of the shim. If not use more adhesive next time. Continue working in either direction from the first shim as it may open up the gap a tiny bit. Have the person upstairs walk over the spot, and if the squeak is gone, move to the next spot. Avoid excessive walking until the adhesive has had a chance to dry. Use as many shims as necessary and fill all the gaps, and remember liberal amounts of adhesive is the key.

The Complete Drywall and Taping Guide

Many home improvement projects involve some type of drywall repair. Learning how to properly install drywall and finish tape the drywall to a smooth flat finish is a learned art, which can be achieved with the help of a few tips I will share here.

It is important to understand the drywall product and how it should be used. Residential drywall comes in different thicknesses, ¼”, 3/8”, ½”, and 5/8”. There is also a 1” thick product that is used for a fire wall in some multi-family buildings.  There are different types of drywall, such as green-board, which is moisture resistant, newly introduced lightweight drywall and mold resistant drywall.

Typically ¼” drywall is used to go over a structurally sound but cosmetically damaged wall, or for covering curved walls because it’s bendable. The 3/8” thickness can also be bent slightly and was used in some home construction many years ago, but it is not used much today. The most common drywall product used residentially is by far ½”. In the city of Chicago and in applications where a fire rating is important 5/8” drywall is used.

Installing drywall is relatively easy as it is commonly available in 4’ by 8’ sheets, although 10’ and 12’ lengths are available as well as 5’ widths. Typically it is installed horizontally with the length running across the framing members. It should be glued and screwed for maximum bonding but nailing with ring shank nails is acceptable.  Cutting drywall is done by scoring the face with a utility knife, snapping it and then cutting the backside paper.  A short narrow stiff bladed saw called a key hole or drywall saw can also be used as well as a Roto-Zip cutting tool.

There are two basic types of “mud” or taping compounds used for finish taping of drywall. The first type comes pre-mixed and it will dry over time, usually in 24 hours. Secondly is a powder type you mix with water, which sets in a defined time period. The technique to apply either is the same, except the open time, which is the time you can work with the product before it sets or starts to harden. I prefer the setting type.

Having the proper tools is important to the successful completion of any job. I recommend you have a metal taping trough, a stiff putty knife as wide as the bottom of your trough, a 6” blade with medium flexibility, and a 12” cement finisher’s trowel.  I recommend the cement finishers trowel for a few reasons. First it’s easier to get the feel of, it’s less flexible than a typical 12” taping blade and you can use it to perform both taping and finishing concrete as long as you clean it well.

USG makes a great taping/patching product called Sheetrock EZ-Sand which comes in a 5 minute, 20 minute, 45 minute, and 90 minute setting time. I use the 20 minute and 45 minute product almost all the time. A little trick to make any of it set faster is to mix it with hot water instead of room temperature water.

A lot of beginners think,” I will just put a whole lot on and sand it smooth”. This not only is a waste of the product and sandpaper but a lot of work, especially if you are taping a large area.


The proper technique is to place your tape over the seams or hole, extending past the edge the width of the tape. I use the self adhering nylon mesh tape, which I have found to be easier to work with. Mix up the “mud” to a peanut butter consistency, and using a 6” taping blade spread the mud over the patch area to a depth that just covers the tape. Don’t worry about blending or feathering it out right now. All you need to accomplish in the first coat is to just barely cover the tape.

After that coat is set take your taping blade and run it over the first coat of mud knocking down any ridges or loose material. Mix up another batch of mud, to the consistency of mayonnaise. Now we will work on feathering it out. Place one side of your 6” blade on center of where the tape would be and the other edge to the outside of it and spread your mud.  Repeat this on all four sides of the patch.

After that coat sets use your 12” trowel to knock down any ridges or loose material. At this point if you have not gotten carried away with the thickness of the mud you have applied you should still be able to see a faint outline of the mesh tape in some areas. Mix up another batch of mud. This time you want it to be little looser or runnier than mayonnaise. Using your 6” knife spread it all over the existing patch area. Now take your 12” trowel, holding it at about a 45 degree angle to the wall, beginning a couple inches outside the patch area slide it across the area. When you get the first side done resist the urge to take the trowel off the wall, instead with a curving motion continue to the other side until all sides are done. You may have to stop and start again if you have placed too much mud on the wall. The more continuous the motion you use the better the finish. Your objective with this coat of mud is to fill in any voids and finish the feathering process.

After the final coat has dried totally, usually 24 hours, you can sand it. Using 120 grit drywall screen sand paper and the appropriate size sanding pad lightly sand the area. When you think you have it smooth run the palm of your hand over it and you should be able to feel dips or ridges, if any. If you need to add another coat of mud, do so carefully and then sand it again.

After it’s totally dry use a clean and lightly damp sponge or rag to wipe the entire area to remove any dust. Give that moisture 30 minutes to dry and then prime and paint the area.

There you have it, all you need to know to take care of your drywall projects. As with many projects following the steps in order is critical to a quality finished project.

Watch this video for a hands on lesson on how to patch a hole in drywall. Contractor John on YouTube


Universal Design is For Everyone

Universal design is a relatively new term and as such many homeowners don’t really understand what it is and what it isn’t. Simply stated, universal design isn’t just for disabled persons. It makes all of our lives easier, through the use of products and design, no matter what your age or physical condition is. Universal design is a style of building or remodeling that can include, design specific ingredients such as aging in place, smart home technology, and space planning.

Let me use a few examples that we all can relate to. Remember back when you had to carry your books to school? Along came the style of backpacks that allowed you to carry all your books, laptop and even your lunch easily. From that simple design idea the front-pack baby carriers were developed, both of which are a form of universal design, once again making life easier for everyone. Another example of a universal design product we all can relate to are the small wheels that are installed on suitcases. These wheels applied to the bottom of our suitcases allow you to haul your luggage through an airport or hotel hallway with greater ease.

If we take a look at universal design in our homes we can find many examples that a mere 10 years ago were absent from our home. Although some of which may have been used commercially or in situations where you were building or remodeling for disabled persons.  Infrared sensors on faucets and hand dryers are just such examples, as are infrared sensors on toilets.

Looking at the inroads smart technology has made into universal design is as easy as looking at your HVAC system. You can now turn your HVAC system on and off and even adjust the temperature from your smart phone or laptop. You can monitor your alarm system from your smart phone and receive text messages when an alarm is tripped or be notified when a predetermined event takes place such as low temperature or sump pump failure.

Certain types of lighting controls fall under universal design, such as dimmers, and I am sure we all have walked into a bathroom and had the light go on magically. Obviously it was controlled by a wall switch that senses motion and turns on, and after a predetermined amount of time turns the lights off, once again making life easier and additionally saving energy. Door bell intercom systems that ring to the phones in the house are yet another example of universal design.

I am sure you can think of examples in your own life and home that fall under the universal design umbrella, making our lives easier.  If you think about it, isn’t that the need that the vast majority of invention address, making our life easier and more comfortable.