Dear James: I gave wallpapering my kitchen a try and just ended up with bubbles, separating edges and some actually peeling off! What things should I do differently when redoing it all? -- Todd R.
Dear Todd: Applying wallpaper properly is a much more complex project than most people realize, and there is a learning curve. There are many steps ...Read more
Dear James: We bought a lot with many trees for our new house. What precautions should our contractor take so trees near the house are not damaged during construction? -- Diane K.
Dear Diane: Obviously, some of the trees will have to be removed to create open space for your house. If you plan to use the energy conservation advantages of a ...Read more
Dear James: The foyer floor by the front door has taken a beating from the children over the past 10 years. What is an attractive and durable type of flooring to install there? -- Greg P.
Dear Greg: One of the most durable and attractive flooring materials for a smaller area like that is slate. It is stain-resistant and available in a variety ...Read more
Dear James: The water pipes are loud in our house, especially at night; they make a knocking sound when we shut off a faucet. What causes this loud noise and how can we stop it? -- Deborah G.
Dear Deborah: The loud noise you are describing is called "water hammer" because of the knocking sound. It sounds like something is banging against the ...Read more
Dear James: My old kitchen needs some remodeling both to look more modern and for more convenience. What is the best location for the major kitchen appliances, counters, etc.? -- Kim L.
Dear Kim: For most families, the kitchen is one of the most used and busy rooms in a house, particularly when entertaining. Often the kitchen also ends up being...Read more
Dear James: I think some decorative woodwork and trim in some rooms would look great. Do you have any tips for a relatively inexperienced do-it-yourselfer? -- Evan D.
Dear Evan: It does not take much decorative trim to really transform the decor and overall character of a room. You don't need to add very much. Adding too much can defeat the ...Read more
Dear James: My brass kitchen faucet works, but after only two years, the finish is tarnished. How do I install a new one and what types are tarnish-resistant? -- Tea S.
Dear Tea: Try cleaning the tarnished brass surfaces before running out to buy a new faucet. There are many brass cleaners available that are effective. If it was a good-quality ...Read more
Dear James: I made some patches on my bedroom wall. I don't have more of the original paint, and I don't want to repaint the entire room. How can I match the paint? -- Seth L.
Dear Seth: You can match old paint but expect it to take some time. Different parts of wall may have faded different amounts, so you may have to do it for each repaired ...Read more
Dear James: I was storing stuff in the attic and noticed some damp insulation, so I have a leaky roof. How can I locate the exact location of the leaks to fix them? -- Dan D.
Dear Dan: It is fortuitous that you were up there not long after a rain to find the damp insulation before you saw drywall damage on the ceiling or walls below. Repairing ...Read more
Dear James: I am going to have a natural solid-wood front door installed with a new lockset. What types of attractive locksets are most secure, but reasonably priced? -- Dana L.
Dear Dana: Solid natural wood front doors are gorgeous, so you do not want to select an ordinary-looking lockset in it. Unfortunately, higher-priced locksets usually ...Read more
Dear James: The construction of our house has just been completed. Before we make the final contractor payment, should we do an inspection even though it has a warranty? -- Chad R.
Dear Chad: Even with a warranty that should cover any problems you find once you move in, it is wise to do a final inspection. Most contractors are very reputable ...Read more
Dear James: We are planning a substantial room addition to our dream home. We are not on a tight budget, and we want everything done right. Should we use plaster walls or standard drywall walls? -- Sheila T.
Dear Sheila: Hmm -- plaster?! Most people think that real plaster walls are a relic from yesteryear. Well, nothing could be further from ...Read more