Home & Leisure

Here's How: Install a New Fireplace Surround and Gas Logs

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: It's a mess carrying firewood indoors, so I want to modernize my old brick fireplace with one that uses gas logs. Are there any tips on how to do this project myself? -- Kathy H.

Dear Kathy: Replacing an old brick fireplace surround and hearth with newer modern designs and a fresh coat of paint on the walls can completely transform ...Read more

Here's How: Select and Work with a General Contractor

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: An architect is almost finished with the plans for my house. I need to select a good general contractor, but have heard of many potential problems. What is the best way to insure a good job? -- Julie F.

Dear Julie: Everyone has heard horror stories of how a contractor has taken someone's savings and not completed the job or not ...Read more

Here's How: Select Room Wall Colors to Impact Room Size

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We are downsizing to a new house. We are trying to determine the best colors to paint the rooms to make it look more spacious. What do you recommend for various rooms? -- Renee K.

Dear Renee: The particular colors you select will impact the sense of spaciousness and overall feeling in a room. In addition to the basic color, you ...Read more

Here's How: Install a Ceramic Tile Floor

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We have vinyl kitchen flooring which is badly worn. We think a ceramic tile floor would look good and wear well. Can this be put over any old floor and what are some installation tips? -- Michael T.

Dear Michael: Ceramic tile is an excellent material for kitchen floors. Not only is it very attractive, but it also is durable and ...Read more

Here's How: Eliminate Drywall Shadow Lines on Walls

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am remodeling two rooms. I hung and finished drywall in one room, but there are shadow lines at many joints. Do you have any joint finishing tips to create flat, hidden joints? -- Steve K.

Dear Steve: The drywall joint problem you are experiencing is actually called shadowing by professional drywall installers. It is typically ...Read more

Here's How: Repair Old Wooden Windows

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: The wood frame windows in my vintage house are pretty deteriorated. I want to repair them, not replace them, to maintain its character. What repairs to them can I do myself? -- Don H.

Dear Don: People are often surprised by the significant impact of window style on the overall appearance of an older house. Unless the frames are ...Read more

Here's How: Install a New Bathroom Vent Fan/Light

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I want to add a bathroom vent fan with an overhead light. The window does not provide enough light. What are some tips for installing one and venting it up through the the roof? -- Kathy T.

Dear Kathy: Although having a window in a bathroom with its natural light is great for putting on makeup, it is not always the best ventilation ...Read more

Here's How: Considerations When Building a Healthy Home

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: All my children have allergies. We are planning to build a new house and I need to avoid the "sick house syndrome" from poor indoor air quality. What things should I consider for it? -- Lisa T.

Dear Lisa: Sick house syndrome refers to much more than just allergies and can be a serious problem in today's newer airtight homes. The ...Read more

Here's How: Learn how to Use Measuring Tools for Precise Project Results

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am not the most accurate with projects. My measurements are often off just enough so things don't fit. Do you have advice regarding which measurement tools/techniques to use? -- Sal L.

Dear Sal: If you don't make accurate measurements, even the best materials and power tools cannot salvage the job. It is not difficult to measure ...Read more

Here's How: Add a Cedar Closet to your Bedroom

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I have always liked cedar closets and want to add a small one in my bedroom. How do I build a closet with cedar wood and how do I maintain the cedar scent for years? -- Jamie P

Dear Jamie: Cedar closets are wonderful for storing clothing because the scent repels moths and other insects that may damage the clothes. Cedar also gives ...Read more

Here's How: Build a Shower Seat for Convenience, Safety

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: My balance is worse than when I was younger so I want to build a seat for my shower stall. What are some basic construction and sizing tips for making one myself? -- John A.

Dear John: A shower seat is a wonderful convenience feature for any age group. While you are building and installing the shower seat, you should also install ...Read more

Here's How: Typical Kitchen Wallpapering Problems

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: We decided to install wallpaper in our kitchen. It installed easily and looked great, but started coming loose in less than a year. Could it be from bad wallpaper or our application? -- Sharyn K.

Dear Sharyn: If the problems occurred in only one small area, it may have been a bad roll of wallpaper. If it is happening in many spots ...Read more

Here's How: Where to Locate a Fireplace to Minimize Backdrafting

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: Our old fireplace always made the room smoky. Will the location of the fireplace in our new house we are now planning affect the amount of smoke? - Ron V.

Dear Ron: A smoky fireplace can completely spoil the ambiance and pleasure of a crackling fire. In many cases, the cause of smoke being drawn back down the chimney into the house ...Read more


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