Dear James: The surface of our concrete sidewalk from the driveway is in bad condition, but the base seems sound. Can I just resurface it without replacing the entire sidewalk? -- Sean R.
Dear Sean: It will take some hard work, but you should be able to repair the sidewalk. If you are diligent and take your time, it should look better than when...Read more
Dear James: We have some crushed and stained spots in our dining room carpeting. The rest of the carpeting is okay. What is the bet way to repair these damages spots without total replacement? -- Sherri D.
Dear Sherri: The damaged spots on carpeting are not always readily apparent until you move furniture as when you are remodeling. Entire ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning to remodel my average-sized kitchen so it looks more modern and is more convenient to cook in. Are there any general tips or rules of thumb when it comes to redesigning a kitchen? -- Pat H.
Dear Pat: Whether it is just for when your family is there or when you are entertaining, the kitchen is often the center of ...Read more
Dear James: A neighbor recently added some ornamental wood trim to her house and it looks great. I want to add some to my house, but I don't want more to maintain. Is urethane trim a good substitute? -- Linda L.
Dear Linda: Installing even a small amount of ornamental trim on your home can dramatically change its appearance and can establish ...Read more
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
Fixin' Stupid and Other Tales from a Tennessee Trauma QueenRobin Watt
Roxy McCoy manages to sell her professional company and retire early in life. Moving to the countryside of Tennessee, she finds the lifestyle to be ideal except that boredom eventually creeps in. A part-time job leads to discovering the joys of working as a volunteer ...
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
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