Dear James: Over the past six months, I have noticed dark spots on my bedroom ceiling after it rains. I don't know if my roof needs to be repaired or replaced. How will I know when it's time for an entire reroofing job? -- Carol S.
Dear Carol: The actual life span of a roof system is determined by many factors: your local climate and ...Read more
Dear James: I am remodeling my living room, and I thought about using glazing instead of flat paint or wallpaper. What are the best paints, materials and techniques to use for a professional-looking job? -- Diane N.
Dear Diane: Glazing has been used for centuries, long before wallpaper and flat wall paint were commonplace. It produces a soft ...Read more
Dear James: My children are getting older, and we need another shower. There's space in the utility room for a shower stall. It is built on a slab. How can I install one with a ceramic tile floor? -- Sonia M.
Dear Sonia: A shower stall with a tile floor is very attractive, but it can be a complicated home improvement project. Before you tackle ...Read more
Dear James: My very old house could use some electrical work -- outlets, switches, etc. It looks easy to install them and the wiring. What are some of the common errors people make so I can avoid them? -- Steve G.
Dear Steve: It may look easy to do electrical work, especially if you watch some of the home improvement shows on television, but it...Read more
Dear James: I am planning to remodel a 50-year-old house, but want to retain as much original character as possible. Most of the woodwork needs refinishing. It may have some old lead paint. What should I do? -- Joe D.
Dear Joe: As your house is 50 years old, there is a good chance the paint on the woodwork contains lead. In the late 1970s, lead...Read more
Dear James: I want to install new upper kitchen cabinets. I bet a friend I could do all the work myself, but now I am not sure. Is it possible for a medium-sized woman to handle this type of project herself? -- Mary S.
Dear Mary: Many projects seem relatively straightforward and simple until you actually begin to research them in more detail. ...Read more
Dear James: From the ground, the gutters don't look dirty, but when it rains, water overflows and runs down the walls. I think it may discolor the siding. What is causing them to overflow and how can I fix it? -- Karen J.
Dear Karen: There are several causes of overflowing gutters. They are either clogged, rusted and leak at the seams, and/or ...Read more
Dear James: I was planning to install hardwood flooring myself, but then I saw some bamboo flooring, which was cheaper. What do you think of bamboo flooring, and can I install it myself in my living room? -- Charlie M.
Dear Charlie: Bamboo flooring is rapidly being accepted by homeowners as an alternative to hardwood flooring. Some of it looks ...Read more
Dear James: Now that I am living alone, I can finally install a neat mailbox instead of the old black one. What types of decorative mailboxes do you recommend, and will it be difficult for me to install it myself? -- Cathy R.
Dear Cathy: The array of decorative mailboxes is nearly endless. You can find them at home centers, craft shops, craft ...Read more
Dear James: I want to remodel my bathroom, but I can only afford to do it in stages. I think installing a pedestal sink would be a good starting point. Can I install one myself without a plumber? -- Ron T.
Dear Ron: The sink and the bathtub are the two most prominent items in a bathroom that impact its decor. Installing a new retro-style ...Read more
Dear James: I have noticed some damp dark spots on my bedroom ceiling from an old leaky shingle roof after it rains. How do I know whether it is best to have the leaks repaired or have the entire roof replaced? -- Jen B.
Dear Jen: If you are already seeing dark spots on your ceiling, don't wait too much longer to get it repaired or replaced. ...Read more
PropDear James: A friend gave me a small (not curb-mounted or self-flashing) skylight for free. What is the proper method to build the curb and flash the skylight to avoid leaks in my cathedral ceiling? -- Craig P.
Dear Craig: Normally, I would recommend to anyone to buy curb-mounted, self-flashing skylights. They are easy to install and very ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning to build a new home for myself and my two children. I have looked at many plans and taken house tours. In order to save money, does it make sense for me to be my own general contractor? -- Steve K.
Dear Steve: Homeowners acting as their own general contractors is done every day, and it can reduce the building costs. Be...Read more