Dear James: We are planning a do-it-yourself project to add another bathroom for the children. What are the basic design considerations, and what is the proper construction sequence to save time? -- Janine H.
Dear Janine: There are many items to consider when installing a new bathroom. A bathroom is a unique room from a design standpoint ...Read more
Dear James: I want to add ceiling lighting and a ceiling fan to my living room, but there is no wiring up there. I would like to add decorative box beams and run the wiring through them. How can I do this? -- Andy M.
Dear Andy: This is an excellent idea for adding lighting and a fan to a room without access to existing wiring. Even if you did ...Read more
Dear James: A house is being built on a vacant lot next to my sloping lot, and I need some privacy. I think a fence might work well. What type of fence do you recommend that I can build myself? -- Sara Z.
Dear Sara: Installing a fence can be an excellent way to provide privacy for your home. It can also be a deterrent to burglars if it is high ...Read more
Dear James: My daughter dropped a spoon in our old garbage disposer, so we have to replace it. Is installing a garbage disposer a typical do-it-yourself project, and what are the basic steps to replace one? -- Laura P.
Dear Laura: An old garbage disposer is no match for a strong, stainless steel spoon. Once the cutters are damaged, your best ...Read more
Dear James: I am redecorating my living room, and I think new decorative baseboards would help. My neighbor tried installing them himself, and it looked pretty bad. Do you have any tips for installing baseboards? -- Dennis E.
Dear Dennis: Baseboards are generally not the first place someone looks when they enter a home, but they can impact the ...Read more
Dear James: I was at a recent home show, and I saw a beautiful concrete fireplace surround. Is this something I could install on a new fireplace I am having added to my living room, and is it good? -- Gary D.
Dear Gary: A concrete surround can be installed on any fireplace. Concrete is one of the best materials to use for a fireplace surround. ...Read more
Dear James: We are doing some remodeling and adding a room on to our house. I have always wanted a walk-in pantry off the kitchen. While we are making the room addition, what is the best design for a pantry? -- Lori A.
Dear Lori: A walk-in pantry is a wonderful addition to almost any home. If your new room addition is anywhere near the kitchen,...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? -- Lonny G.
Dear Lonny: 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: We have three toilets in our house, and each one seems to have a different problem. It costs a fortune to hire a plumber, so I want to try to fix them myself. What are the most common toilet problems? -- Tracy L.
Dear Tracy: Experienced plumbers are highly skilled and generally worth the high fees they charge, but many toilet ...Read more
Dear James: When I was in college, our old dorm had pocket doors to save space, but they were hard to open and close. I would like to install pocket doors in my current house. Are the new ones any better? -- Melody D.
Dear Melody: Pocket doors are gaining popularity again after hitting their heyday about a century ago. The newer ones' quality ...Read more
Dear James: I like to do home improvement projects around my house, but the dust and dirt gets everywhere. Also, my children are allergic to dust. What is the best method to control the dust? -- Mike W.
Dear Mike: Many home improvement projects can create a huge amount of dust, which has a way of working its way throughout your house. These ...Read more
Dear James: My older house has asphalt roll roofing over an attic/bedroom conversion with a low slope. This old roofing is leaking, and I want to repair it. Is there any way to fix it without replacing it? -- Heather V.
Dear Heather: This type of roofing was commonly used on homes like yours due to rolled roofing's low cost and easy ...Read more
Dear James: I used a dark deck sealer several years ago. It looked good for the first year or two, but now it is peeling off in areas. What is the best way to fix the bare areas and stop further peeling? -- Roger M.
Dear Roger: The attractive dark sealer you applied a couple of years ago functions more like a coat of paint than a sealing stain....Read more