Dear James: We plan to add a half-bathroom, but our house is built on a slab. Is it possible to still add a bathroom there, because there is no drain to the sewer in that spot? -- Charlotte G.
Dear Charlotte: It definitely is an easier project to add a bathroom in a room over a basement or crawl space, but it can be done over a slab. Running ...Read more
Dear James: It seems like I always need rope of some sort for various indoor and outdoor projects. I don't like that cheap, thick yellow stuff. Are there better types of rope? -- Ethan L.
Dear Ethan: Rope comes in handy for many home projects, ranging from holding a cabinet in place during installation to putting tension on a tree when cutting ...Read more
Dear James: The painted walls in my bathroom look too plain. I want to install some tile with a decorative pattern. Is it difficult to design and install patterns myself? -- Mia H.
Dear Mia: Adding decorative tile or changing the existing tile pattern can dramatically enhance the entire bathroom. Although it is not difficult to design and ...Read more
Dear James: When doing home improvement projects, I like to reuse the old lumber. It is more stable and looks good. What is the easiest method to pull out the old nails? -- Mario R.
Dear Mario: If you are somewhat careful when removing the old lumber from walls and decks, much of it can usually be reused. Often, a damaged end may need to be cut...Read more
Dear James: Our master bathroom has mildew and sewer gas (rotten egg) odors. We have tried cleaning and drying the wash bowl and tub. What else should we check to find the odors? -- Jim T.
Dear Jim: A bathroom has many areas that can create odors, so finding sources of odors can be like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many places for ...Read more
Dear James: I think replacing the baseboards and moldings would look better. It is difficult to cut the stair molding to fit without gaps. What is the best way to cut and fit it? -- Debra S.
Dear Debra: Adding new baseboards and molding, especially ones with contrasting colors to the walls, can jazz up a room. Although planning and fitting the ...Read more
Dear James: Many cabinet and interior door hinges squeak and don't move smoothly. I need new ones, but the design selection is endless. What are the best and most durable hinge designs? -- Russ F.
Dear Russ: Most people change hinges for decorative reasons, but hinges do wear out. When a door is fully open, there is a lot of weight cantilevered...Read more
Dear James: We have older wood windows, and some of the glass panes have cracks but are intact. What is the easiest and best method to replace the glass panes myself?
-- Denise K.
Dear Denise: Replacing a glass pane in a wood window sash is not rocket science, but it is often done wrong. The glass pane may stay in place, but a do-it-yourself ...Read more
Dear James: My combo living room/dining room would be better for entertaining if it had a wet bar. How can I build a very strong one myself, and what is the best size for it? -- Ted T.
Dear Ted: You cannot go wrong for entertaining, convenience and resale value by adding a wet bar to your house. The small refrigerator, freezer, sink and tall ...Read more
Dear James: We are in the planning stages to add a half-bathroom on our first floor for my elderly mother. What are some basic design tips to consider and errors to avoid? -- Cathy D.
Dear Cathy: As our population ages, adding a first-floor full or half-bathroom is becoming a typical home improvement project. Although this is not a difficult ...Read more
Dear James: There always seems to be a musty/mildew odor in my house, which is quite old. Could the odor come from the part over the crawl space? What can I do to improve the air quality? -- Mike Y.
Dear Mike: Constant moisture and dampness are typically the most common causes of musty odors and mildew. If your house is damp, the nasty odor may...Read more
Dear James: We are converting our family room into a bedroom and laundry room. I am pretty handy and want to do most of the wiring myself. Are there some common wiring errors I should look out for? -- Anne R.
Dear Anne: Wiring a room looks like a simple project to do, especially when watching a professional electrician working on a house under ...Read more
Dear James: We are setting up a playroom for our children. The room is carpeted now, but we want something more durable. Would commercial-grade flooring work well? -- Barry H.
Dear Barry: Unless your children are really wild, almost any type of commercial-grade flooring should hold up well, definitely better than residential carpeting. It is ...Read more