Dear James: My house seems to be well-built, but the heads on the drywall nails are popping out and they look terrible. How can I fix them and avoid them in a new room addition I am planning? -- Rick H.
Dear Rick: Nail pops can be particularly noticeable at night when lamps are on near a wall. The light rays nearly parallel to the wall will ...Read more
Dear James: I am making the beginning plans for a new house. I want a conventional house, but I want it to be extra strong for safety during storms. What are some building tips my builder should consider? -- Ellen D.
Dear Ellen: There are quite a few things your builder can do to make your house much stronger than code without making it look ...Read more
Dear James: I installed some hardwood flooring several years ago in the foyer and now it has gaps between the pieces. I want to install it in the kitchen now. What should I do this time to avoid gaps? -- Larry M.
Dear Larry: Hardwood flooring can be very beautiful and totally transform the decor of a room, but it can also look bad if installed ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some landscaping that will include a deck. My backyard is level, so the deck will not be up on posts. Is it wise and possible to build a deck which is flush against the ground? -- Suzi H.
Dear Suzi: Adding a deck is probably the least expensive living area you can add to your home and it can be an attractive addition ...Read more
Dear James: We have a concrete driveway and garage floor. My husband likes to work on cars, and like how it comes with most other things, he is not neat. How can I remove oil stains from the concrete and prevent future ones? -- Angela N.
Dear Angela: Men and their cars can make quite a mess not only in the garage or driveway, but tracking the ...Read more
Dear James: We moved into our new house six months ago. We still have a long list of items that need to be fixed, but the contractor never gets around to them. Is seeking the services of a lawyer a good idea now? -- Rob K.
Dear Rob: This is a very common problem with new home construction. In fact, nearly every homeowner makes a list of defects...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some home improvement projects and many suggest using glue, but don't specify the type. My hardware store has about 50 types of glue. What type of glue should I use for what? - Kyle B.
Dear Kyle: Many do-it-yourselfers feel using glue on projects is the nonprofessional, easy way to assemble parts. Actually nothing ...Read more
Dear James: I want to build a nice outdoor countertop over a sturdy old wooden bench near the barbecue grill. What is the best type of easy-to-clean decorative countertop material to use in the outdoors? -- Toni D.
Dear Toni: If you plan to do much cooking and entertaining outdoors, some additional countertop space near the grill can certainly ...Read more
Dear James: We are adding a master bedroom and family room "wing" to our house. It will have a standard pitched roof. Do you recommend having the roof stick built with lumber or using pre-made roof trusses? -- Arn T.
Dear Arn: For most homes, using roof trusses is a far better construction method than stick built roof framing. The main ...Read more
Dear James: I have a problem where some floors near the outside walls get damp when there is a heavy rain. The walls are brick over insulated stud walls. What, if anything, can I do to stop this problem? -- Jennifer K.
Dear Jennifer: The types of walls you have are called brick veneer. The 2x4 studded insulated wall supports the house and the ...Read more
Dear James: I am having a second stairway from the kitchen roughed in. It has a full wall on one side and halfway down the other. I want to finish it myself. What is the most attractive way to do this? -- Kevin A.
Dear Kevin: Installing a second stairway from the kitchen to the second floor is becoming more common in homes. These are the stairs...Read more