Dear James: When we moved into this house, it seemed to have plenty of closet space. Now, with my daughters in their teens, there isn't enough space. How can we install some inexpensive shelving to better utilize the closets? -- Steve C.
Dear Steve: It is amazing how quickly the closets fill with clothes and just "stuff" when the children hit ...Read more
Dear James: I have a slightly curved concrete walkway from my driveway to my front door. I am on a limited budget, but I would like to jazz it up with some trim or something. What would you recommend for me to do? -- Jan F.
Dear Jan: A gently curved walkway can be made to look very attractive and distinctive with simple red paver (brick) edging...Read more
Dear James: We would like to install a new classy real stained wood front door. I would like an attractive, secure lockset to go with it, but there are so many to choose from. Which are best? -- Mike A.
Dear Mike: The style and beauty of a high-quality brass lockset can make your new front door look spectacular. It is like the decorative icing ...Read more
Dear James: We have a brick house and the mortar between the bricks has fallen out in spots. It looks terrible. What is the best method to repair this and how can I get new mortar to look like the old? -- Kathy T.
Dear Kathy: Brick is virtually maintenance-free, but the mortar will crumble over many years. Although it is unsightly, don't worry ...Read more
Dear James: During winter, I feel a breeze coming down the fireplace chimney even with the hearth damper closed. Also, I think raccoons and bats get down in there. Will installing a chimney-top damper help? -- Karl T.
Dear Karl: A fireplace certainly is a pleasant and attractive feature for a home, but it allows many unwanted "things" to enter ...Read more
Dear James: I need to paint my house which has wood siding. The paint is in pretty bad shape. What is the proper way to scrape and prepare the wood surface so the paint will stay on longer and look better? -- Missy D.
Dear Missy: You are thinking along the right lines. When people say they are going to paint their house, the painting phase is ...Read more
Dear James: The grout in my bathroom tile is discolored and crumbling in spots. It look terrible. Do I have to remove all the tiles and start over or can I just repair the existing grout? -- Tracy G.
Dear Tracy: If only the grout is deteriorating and your tile is still in good shape, then there is no need to remove tile. It is important to ...Read more
Dear James: I grill on the propane barbecue for quick meals. For entertaining, I would like an attractive brick barbecue that uses real charcoal. What design can an inexperienced homeowner build? -- Mike F.
Dear Mike: You must pay more attention when cooking with a brick fireplace because you do not have quick control over the heat as with a ...Read more
Hearing ThoughtsAnthony Diffley
Daniel Burke is a young New York City Assistant DA currently prosecuting a man for the murder of his wife. Even though her body was never found, there is enough circumstantial evidence to bring him to trial. Danny has his own doubts about whether or not this man is guilty of the crime but he ...
Dear James: I am going to have a house built. There are so many items, products, details, etc. to keep track of that I am sure I will miss some. What is the best way to work with my builder to avoid problems? -- Gary E.
Dear Gary: When you first sit down with your builder, it can seem overwhelming going through the details of what you want in ...Read more
Dear James: The wood on my deck needs some repairs. It is four feet off the ground and made of pressure-treated lumber, so I thought it would last longer. How do I go about checking and repairing it? -- Kim F.
Dear Kim: Contrary to popular belief, a deck, even when it is constructed of pressure-treated lumber, needs regular maintenance and care...Read more
Dear James: I noticed a draft coming in through a few of my windows, even though I recently had the weatherstripping replaced. I am afraid my heating bills are going to get very high this year. What can I do to seal these leaks? -- Larry H.
Dear Larry: The new weatherstripping should have sealed most of the leaks through the window joints. It ...Read more
Dear James: My girls never completely close the shower curtain and the floor gets wet. There are walls on each end, so adding a shower door would be good. Is this a project I can do myself? -- Claire C.
Dear Claire: The idea of installing a shower door in your girls' bathroom is an excellent one. Shower doors block water spray better than ...Read more
Dear James: My yard is level, so I think I can install a board fence myself. I was considering a board and batten style. What other board fence styles are there? I could use some building tips. -- Philip F.
Dear Philip: A board and batten fence can be very attractive while providing the benefits of privacy, security and a windbreak. The fact ...Read more