Dear James: We want to replace old, crushed carpeting with thick pile-type carpeting, so I probably need to shorten the door. What is the best way to cut it without splintering? -- Tony G.
Dear Tony: Instead of new carpeting, you might want to consider installing engineered hardwood or laminate flooring. This is more popular today, and both are...Read more
Dear James: We like hardwood parquet floors, but it is expensive to have them installed. Are do-it-yourself parquet flooring "kits" easy to install for inexperienced DIYers? -- Chris H.
Dear Chris: The two primary types of hardwood flooring are traditional long strips and parquet. If you are an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer without a power saw...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some major home improvement projects, but I am not comfortable using power saws. There seem to be a hundred designs of saws at the hardware store. Which one is best for home projects? -- Debra A.
Dear Debra: It is good you have a healthy respect for the hazards of using power tools, especially saws. With advancements ...Read more
Dear James: Whenever we use our great room fireplace, some smoke comes out into the room. I am going to add one to the master bedroom. How can I keep the new fireplace from being smoky? -- Ron T.
Dear Ron: You definitely are not alone with the problem of a smoky wood-burning fireplace. More than half of fireplaces cause some smoky conditions ...Read more
Dear James: I plan to build a ranch house for myself and my two children. I am on a tight budget, so it must be small (about 1,500 square feet). What are some good tips for designing a livable small house? -- Amy B.
Dear Amy: With proper design concepts, a 1,500-square foot house can provide more than adequate living space for you and your two ...Read more
Dear James: Will you please explain how to apply a French polish on old woodwork that needs to be refinished? I have heard it is very beautiful and might be a good choice for some natural cherry woodwork? -- Kyle H.
Dear Kyle: Old cherry woodwork is absolutely beautiful, so take care in refinishing it. It is a stable, durable species of ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning to sell my house, and I want to install some wall-to-wall carpeting inexpensively. I got a good deal on some carpet, but installation is costly. How can I install it myself? -- Ron S.
Dear Ron: When you get a quotation for new carpeting from a carpet store, it almost always is an installed price with new padding. The ...Read more
Dear James: I just bought an older home. It seems to be constructed well, but the floors are bouncy to the point of being annoying. What are the various techniques for making the floors stiffer? -- Karen N.
Dear Karen: A floor should be somewhat resilient to make it comfortable to walk and stand on. If you have ever worked in a factory or a ...Read more
Dear James: My children are getting old enough to use small electrical appliances, radios, etc. Can you tell me about the various types of fuses and circuit breakers for their and my protection? -- Jimmy F.
Dear Jimmy: People often think of protection from being shocked, and some devices do this, but house fires are also a serious problem. ...Read more
Dear James: I am tired of repairing and sealing my asphalt driveway, so I want to replace it with a concrete one. Some seem to hold up well, and others crumble and crack. Why do some hold up so much better? -- Alexandra F.
Dear Alexandra: From an aesthetic standpoint, the driveway is the first thing guests see and walk on when they visit your ...Read more
Dear James: I am looking for a building lot. The nicest lots have already been taken in subdivisions. What should I look for in a lot, even if none of them appear to be perfect for my house? -- Michael Y.
Dear Michael: In many new subdivisions, the best lots are sold to the representing realtors' clients long before the average person is even ...Read more
Dear James: I am in the planning stage for a new home. My previous stucco home had serious damage for rotting lumber. What is the best way to avoid the same problems in the new home I am building? -- Lynn R.
Dear Lynn: By far, the majority of problems with rotting lumber in a house can be traced back to excessive moisture and persistent ...Read more
Dear James: I have an old laminate kitchen countertop still in good shape. I want to refinish it myself so it looks like real granite. What options do I have? -- Sandra N.
Dear Sandra: There are several do-it-yourself refinishing kits you can buy to provide a durable, real-granite or stonelike appearance. They are available at most home center ...Read more