Dear James: After a rain, the floors are often damp. Our house has brick over wood framed walls. Can this be corrected? What should we do for our new room addition? -- Christine R.
Dear Christine: The dampness on the floor is most probably from water coming in through the brick walls. It is important to correct this because if the floors are ...Read more
Dear James: We have a standard two-car garage. I plan to add some extra storage space with loft shelving over the car hoods. Does this make sense, and how do I build it? -- Tony Z.
Dear Tony: Your storage idea makes a lot of sense and many professional storage contractors do exactly this. There is a huge amount of wasted space there that can be...Read more
Dear James: My bathroom needs an upgrade, so I plan to add ceramic tile to the walls. This is my first attempt, so what are some planning and application tips? -- Denise M.
Dear Denise: Having an attractive bathroom is more important than many people realize. If you have a large family, the bathroom is often the only room where you can get ...Read more
Some Deadbolts Are More Secure Than Others
Dear James: I am installing a new front door, so I thought it would be wise to also install a new deadbolt. Are some designs more secure and better quality than others? -- Rich G.
Dear Rich: A new deadbolt would likely look nicer and be more secure than an old one. As the tumblers age and wear, it is ...Read more
Dear James: I store stuff in the attic, but it's difficult to get up through the opening in the closet ceiling. Is a permanent folding ladder easy to install myself? -- Kristin L.
Dear Kristin: People most often use step ladders to get up into the attic, but they are not very sturdy -- especially when you have your arms full of stuff. The ...Read more
Dear James: It seems like I have to repaint the exterior wood trim every two years because it peels. Should I pressure-wash it first? Are there other tips? -- Thomas N.
Dear Thomas: With proper preparation and application techniques, the paint should not peel for at least twice that long and probably longer. The quality of the paint has some ...Read more
Asphalt Driveway Needs Sealing
Dear James: Our blacktop driveway is starting to look worn after only three years. What type of sealer holds up best, and what is the best way to apply it? -- Jay A.
Dear Jay: It is not surprising it looks a bit worn in spots. You should have actually sealed the asphalt driveway within six months after it was ...Read more
Dear James: We are running out of bedroom closet space for the various seasons' clothes. How can we build an additional closet without losing too much floor space? -- Kim W.
Dear Kim: Building a closet is a fairly simple do-it-yourself job. An efficient extra closet can use a partial wall design with 7-foot-high walls. You should be able to ...Read more
Dear James: We spent our entire landscaping budget on shrubs, but we would like to build some trellises ourselves. What are some inexpensive simple designs to build? -- Ken R.
Dear Ken: building a trellis is a great project for someone just getting started with DIY landscaping and woodworking projects. It is more important to make them sturdy ...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: I plan to build a deck against my house on my sloping backyard lot. Part of the deck is going to rest on the ground. What is the best design? -- Bonnie T.
Dear Bonnie: With a sloping backyard close to the same height as the first floor as yours, it is trickier to build the support structure for the deck. Another option is a slightly...Read more