Learn the basic maintenance and repair projects every homeowner needs to know.
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General Projects

Removing Old Vinyl Flooring

Remove baseboard and trim using a pry bar and scrap wood. Use locking pliers to pull out the nails from the back.


Removing Ceramic Tile

Remove ceramic tile with a cold chisel, prying tiles off one by one.


Removing an old Water Heater

Drain the old tank by shutting off the water supply and draining the tank with a garden hose.


You will be more likely to start your cleaning chores and to finish the task if you have everything you need on hand and in one place. A cleaning center that saves you time and steps is the efficient beginning to quick and easy cleaning methods.


Steel studs, joists, and rafters are old hat to most high-volume carpentry contractors. Using them may have started on the west coast, but now steel framing is used throughout the country.


Safety first

Although the methods in this site have been reviewed for safety, it is not possible to overstate the importance of using the safest methods you can. What follows are reminders--some do’s and don’ts of work safety--to use along with your common sense.


Panting and papering tools

Painting is a job do-it-yourselfers tackle more than any other, and the one where, for a modest investment, they can use the same high-quality tools professionals use: a basic roller and a good-quality brush. If you have a lot of wall area to cover, consider using a 5-gallon paint bucket with roller screen instead of a pan. You won’t need to keep refilling the pan, and and bucket allows you to douse the roller (covering it with paint quickly) and flick off the extra against the screen.


Demolition tools

When a home improvement project begins with demolition work, some do-it-yourselfers begin to salivate Finally, a chance to vent frustrations over every leak, squeak, and repair that didn’t pan out and to pound part of the house into oblivion.


Hand tools

Many do-it-yourselfers already own the basic hand tools required for building and remodeling walls and ceilings. Unless you plan a special application, such as installing ceramic wall tiles, you won’t need any specialty tools.


Learn About Layout tools

A basic collection of rulers, squares, and levels should serve on most home improvement projects. But it always helps to follow the adage “Measure twice and cut once,” particularly when it can save an extra trip to the lumber yard for more wood.


Building codes & permits

Building permits are required for any remodeling project that involves a change or addition to your home’s structure or mechanical systems. Building permits are issued to ensure your remodeling project meets local building codes, which establish material standards, structural requirements, and installation guidelines for your project. In short, they ensure that your (or your contractor’s) work is done properly.


Building a glass-block wall

Glass-block walls and windows not only add a distinctive design element to this room, they also allow filtered light in without sacrificing privacy. These blocks aren’t difficult to install, but the framing in the room may need to be beefed up to support the additional weight. Check with an engineer or architect for what’s required.


Building a soundproof wall

There’s a lot of noise around these days, both inside and outside the house, and most of us would like to turn down the volume a bit. Fortunately, the truck rumbling by doesn’t sound as bad as it could because some of the so is blocked by the insulation in the exterior walls. Unfortunately, interior walls aren’t insulated. In fact, these walls sometimes seem like amplifiers, especially when the kids are watching TV in the next room.


Dealing with home emergencies

Be Prepared - Not every emergency can be prepared for, but if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, floods, earth quakes, or tornadoes, you should have basic emergency supplies on hand, and your family should be aware of what steps to take when disaster strikes.


Bathroom demolition

Bathroom demo can get messy. The reason? Even when you shut off waterlines, there is still water in traps, in toilet tanks, and in the water lines themselves. When you undo a pipe connection, some water will inevitably get on the floor, where it will mix with the dirt on the bottom of your shoes. Place old towels or scraps of carpet at the doorway for when you have to run out for tools. And have buckets and towels ready, no matter how dry your project looks initially.


Lace door cabinet

Add a pretty, lace screen door to a shelf unit to hide the bathroom clutter inside.


Demolition of a wall

It’s remarkable how flimsy an interior wall can seem when you first cut into it using a reciprocating saw or poke a hole in it with a hammer, especially if it is made of drywall rather than plaster. It comes apart with remarkable ease--unless you forget to probe ahead for wires, plumbing, vents, or ducts.


Installing new window sash

You can replace worn sash without replacing the entire window. The first steps are to measure the window openings carefully and order your new sash. Then remove the old ores, and fill the window cavities with insulation. Cut the liners to size, and install them. Then slide the sash into the liners. Finish up by installing window stops to hold the sash in place.


Kitchen demolition

Even a modest kitchen remodeling can cost thousands of dollars. But you can save some money by doing the demolition work yourself. Some basic rules: shut off the water when removing plumbing fixtures; turn off the electrical power if removing light fixtures; and take note of your deconstructed room. It will provide you with an invaluable peek at how various building system work together. This process may help you avoid future problems with your new kitchen.


Level tools

Levels: A—2-ft spirit level, B—4-ft. spirit level, C—6-in. spirit level, D—water level with electronic level sensor, E—plumb bob and string, F—laser level, which can be attached to a standard level.


How to make an opening in an exterior wall

From inside the house, drill through the wall at the corners of the framed opening. Push casing nails through the holes to mark their location. For round-top windows, drill holes around the curved outline.


Making basic scarf joints

The joint that is most often associated with interior trim work is the miter. This 45-degree joint is designed to bring together two boards that meet at a right (90-degree) angle. But the most common joint is actually the scarf joint. This is used wherever you want to join two boards in a straight line- When done properly, it can be almost invisible, especially if the boards end up being primed and painted. Because this joint is used so frequently, it’s a good idea to master it, following the steps shown here, before you tackle any bigger trim jobs.


Making construction plans

The best way to prepare for a remodel project is to create a construction plan. Having a complete construction plan enables you to view your entire project at a glance. It helps you identify potential problems, provides sense of the time involved, and establishes a logical order of steps. Without a construction plan, its easy to make costly mistakes, such as closing up a wall with wallboard before the rough-ins ha been inspected.


Removing an old partition

Although removing a partition is not difficult, it certainly makes a mess. The drywall (or plaster) dust gets everywhere, and you end up spending almost as much time cleaning up as doing the work. Making the cleanup easier just takes a couple minutes. First, open at least two windows, and put a floor fan next to one to get the air moving out of the house. Then cover the entry door with a piece of plastic sheet and tape it to the door trim. Also, make sure to cover the furnace duct grilles with plastic and tape.


Building a temporary support wall

While removing partitions is messy work, it doesn’t have much impact on the structure of your house. These walls just divide up space and usually don’t need to support anything more substantial than five or six sheets of drywall. But if you need to make alterations to walls that support structural weight, such as outside walls or interior bearing walls, then you have to temporarily support this weight with a support wall. These are easy to build, and once you’re done with them you can remove them.


Structural changes - Building partitions

There are two ways to build partition walls: in place (shown below) or preassembled. When you build a wall in place, you nail the wall plates to the floor and ceiling and then fill in the studs between, toe nailing each to both plates. The great advantage of this approach is that it makes for a tight wall in rooms where the floor and ceiling aren’t parallel, which is often the case in older houses. Preassembling a wall, on the other hand, is easier because you cut all the studs to the same size and nail the plates to the ends of the studs before the wall is tipped up.


Nailing techniques

Face-nailing through the top or bottom plate into a stud makes the strongest connection. Its also easier and faster than toenailing, where the angled nail sometimes can cause splits or miss most of the stud altogether. Either way, lay out stud locations on both the bottom and top plates at the same time.






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