Home & Leisure

Here's How: Repair Potholes in an Asphalt Driveway Yourself

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My asphalt driveway need some serious repairs. There are several potholes and dents in it. I know professional heated repairs are best, but what is the best way to repair it myself? -- Tom K.

Dear Tom: Asphalt driveways do require maintenance and people are often surprised at how and why they sometimes deteriorate so quickly. You ...Read more

Design a Mudroom for Your Garage or Back Door

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We are designing a new house. We have two children and think a mudroom between the garage and the kitchen would be nice. What is the best size to build, and what features should we consider for it? -- Colin G.

Dear Colin: A mudroom is becoming a common addition to many newer home plans. In the past, the mudroom was located at the ...Read more

Here's How: Tile a Kitchen Countertop Backsplash

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: The area of the wall behind the countertop always gets messy, and the paint gets stained. I have seen some decorative tiled ones. Will tile hold up well there, and is this a simple do-it-yourself project? -- Randi H.

Dear Randi: The answer to both of your questions is yes. This area of the wall is called a backsplash in the industry...Read more

Here's How: Add a Second Staircase for the Children

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am totally remodeling an older house I just purchased. I want to add a second staircase from the kitchen to the bedrooms for the children to use. Can I purchase do-it-yourself kits for this? -- Barb L.

Dear Barb: Installing a second staircase to the second floor is becoming more common in new construction and when remodeling older...Read more

Here's How: Select Small-Sized, Easy-to-Handle Tools

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I want to do some outdoor projects, such as adding a deck, a trellis, etc. Being petite, many tools are difficult to work with. Can I get smaller-size tools, and do you have any tips? -- Beth L.

Dear Beth: You should be able to do most of the outdoor projects that a larger person can do, but it may take you longer. That unattractive...Read more

Here's How: Install an Attractive Beadboard Ceiling

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I bought an older home, and the living room ceiling is in pretty bad condition. I am looking for a decorative ceiling that's easy to install myself. Is beadboard or plank paneling a good option? -- Dean M.

Dear Dean: When you are remodeling or just redecorating a room, think of the ceiling as the fifth wall. Unlike the vertical ...Read more

Here's How: Replace a Shower Mixing Valve With a New One

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: Whenever one of the kids flushes a toilet while I am showering, the water gets very hot. Would installing a new type of shower valve help, and can you give me some do-it-yourself tips? -- Melissa B.

Dear Melissa: This is a very common problem when your bathtub has the old two-handle (hot and cold) shower valve. When a toilet is ...Read more

Here's How: Build Your Own Bridge Through the Garden

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am planning to sell my house, so I want to improve the landscaping. I think a small decorative bridge would look nice over a gully near the flower gardens. How should I build it, and what material is best? -- Ron M.

Dear Ron: Adding a bridge to your garden -- or any location in your backyard -- can enhance the landscaping and give...Read more

Here's How: Cleaning up the Garage

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am recently divorced. Now, with my husband gone, I can finally clean up the garage and get things arranged properly. What suggestions do you have to free up space and jazz it up a bit? -- Steve W.

Dear Steve: Cleaning and jazzing up the garage area is becoming a very popular home improvement project. With the attached garage door ...Read more

Here's How: When to Use Dye or Stain to Finish Natural Wood

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am planning to build some natural wood cabinets for my living room. I am trying to determine the most attractive method to finish the wood. Is it better to uses a stain or a dye? -- Lori L.

Dear Lori: There is nothing more beautiful than finely finished natural wood cabinets. You can purchase nice ones, but if you want the best ...Read more

Here's How: Many Attractive Do-It-Yourself Patio Materials

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I have a deck in the backyard, but I would also like to build a patio on a level area adjacent to it. I need some advice on what type of material to use for the patio and some installation tips. -- Eddie F.

Dear Eddie: Decks are nice because they are up from the ground, but a patio does come in handy for outdoor projects and ...Read more

Here's How: Build a House With Universal Design for All Ages

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My husband and I are in our 50s. We want to build a house which we can stay in as we age. I remember how difficult it was for my mother to leave her house. Is universal design the answer for us? -- Sara B.

Dear Sara: Leaving your home, where you have lived in for many years, can be very difficult and emotionally painful. You can ...Read more

Add a Shower With a Ceramic Tile Floor

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I need an additional shower for my children. The utility room (over a slab) has a drain ideal for a shower. My neighbor's tile shower always leaks at the floor. How can I avoid this in mine? -- Sean P.

Dear Sean: A shower with a ceramic tile floor is most attractive. As your neighbor apparently learned, it can be a little tricky to ...Read more


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