Home Improvement Quick Tips

There are many ways to do things faster and smarter to your home.  Here’s a list of things to make life easier as a DIYer:

  1. Tricks For Applying Molding And Trim
  2. Pushing Wires Back Into a Ceiling
  3. Remove A Scuff From A Counter Top
  4. Use Bread To Stop Water In Copper Pipes
  5. The Most Common Sizes Of Toilet Water Supply Connections
  6. Does Your Toilet Tank Leak?
  7. Removing Old Paint Drips
  8. Using Toothpicks To Repair Screw Holes In A Door Jamb
  9. Loud Bathroom Fan?  Try This Trick
  10. Setting Screws With A Power Drill
  11. Cutting Vinyl Siding
  12. Caulking With Silicone
  13. Ceiling Paint vs. Wall Paint
  14. Finishing Basement Walls
  15. Choosing Pressure-Treated Wood
  16. Paint A Door Before Or After?
  17. Basement Flooding
  18. Using A Hammer
  19. Judging Paint Quality
  20. Cutting An Outlet Box In Plaster
  21. Using Landscape Boulders
  22. Install A Vent Fan To Remove Steam
  23. When To Remove Painter’s Tape
  24. Cutting Glass
  25. Cleaning Up After Painting
  26. Kitchen Remodeling Tip
  27. You Can Re-Use Disposable Paint Tray Liners
  28. Use Vaseline For A Freshly Painted Door And Jamb
  29. Use A Piece Of Cardboard For Painting Trim
  30. Drywall Sanding Tip
  31. How To Keep A Raccoon Out Of Your Garbage Can
  32. Remove Air Bubbles From Drywall Compound
  33. Saving Caulk

Tricks For Applying Molding And Trim

Store the molding where rough construction will not damage it.  Do not install molding until all the walls are completely dry; shrinkage could open the joints.  Priming the back of moldings before installation will minimize shrinkage.

If you choose to stain the trim, do so before installation.  Try to use full-length pieces wherever trim will be prominent.  Joining two pieces end-to-end requires cutting the pieces on a 45 degree bevel so one overlaps the other.  Do not use a butt joint.  Read the full article

Fasten molding with finish nails generally in any flat portion of the piece.  Avoid curved, dipped, or peaked areas.  Filling and sanding the nail holes with wood putty is much easier, too.

Pushing Wires Back Into a Ceiling

When placing wires back into the ceiling after installing a fixture, add a small piece of electrical tape to the plastic wire nuts, in case the wires become undone as you push them back into the ceiling.

Remove A Scuff From A Counter Top

If you get a black scuff mark on your Formica or HPL counter top, just rub it with a dab of plain caulk, it will remove the scuff mark.

Use Bread To Stop Water In Copper Pipes

If you solder existing pipes that have had water in them, be sure to drain the system thoroughly.  Even a few drops of water in the pipe will cause steam that prevents the solder from taking.

Leave a nearby faucet open so that the steam can escape safely.  If water is still a problem, stuff some white bread up into the pipe to dam it while you solder.  The bread will dissolve and flush out naturally.

The Most Common Sizes Of Toilet Water Supply Connections

The connection between the toilet’s tank and the water supply is usually 7/8-inches.  The connection at the valve outlet, which contains the shut-off lever is 3/8-inches.  Use these measurements for a new water supply line for your toilet.

Does Your Toilet Tank Leak?

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings. To find out whether your toilet tank is leaking, add some red food coloring to the water in the tank. Come back in about an hour and see if the water in the bowl is pink. If it is, you have a leak.

Removing Old Paint Drips

While prepping a surface for paint, you can easily remove paint drips from the old paint by sanding them away with a palm sander.  You should do this because if you left them, the old drips will show beneath the new paint.

Using Toothpicks To Repair Screw Holes In A Door Jamb

You can use wooden toothpicks to re-attach a loose door hinge to the jamb.  Simply remove the screws and insert toothpicks in the holes.  Cut the ends off, then re-insert the screws into the hinges.  Read the full article

Loud Bathroom Fan?  Try This Trick

For a loud bathroom fan, you can lower the noise it makes by putting the power source on a light dimmer.  It will slow the fan’s motor as you adjust the slide; suit it to your needs.

Setting Screws With A Power Drill

When setting screws in hard surfaces and to prevent splitting of the wood, it is best to drill a starter hole with a drill bit about the same size as the screw you’ll use.

Give the trigger short, start and stop, power as you insert the screw into the wood.  This insures you don’t strip the screw head.

Cutting Vinyl Siding

When cutting large vinyl siding runs, a common circular saw works the best.  Use a fine tooth plywood circular saw blade inserted into your saw backwards.  With safety glasses on, proceed to cut slowly across the work.  This will ensure that there are no frayed edges to deal with when cutting is complete.

Caulking With Silicone

Silicone is a durable, rubber like material that is used in all kinds of exterior and interior applications.  When caulking with silicone, dip your finger in water to get a smooth finish.  Just dip before you set any caulked joints.  The water acts as a barrier between the surface of the caulk and your finger giving you a smoother joint.

If you decide to neaten up a joint with painter’s tape, install the tape, but let the silicone dry until it is tacky, then pull the tape up immediately.  Don’t let it dry for a full day, or you may pull up too much silicone when removing the tape.

Ceiling Paint vs. Wall Paint

Ceiling paint distributes light from fixtures much better than wall paint.  It will also hide drywall repairs due to it’s flat finish.  Most ceiling paints are formulated with acrylic latex that minimizes glare and imperfections.  Many are said to maintain the room’s acoustical ceiling properties too.

Finishing Basement Walls

Before walls can be finished, you must install a nailing surface over the masonry.  This can be accomplished with furring strips — normally 1 by 2s laid flat against the wall — or a full-stud false wall built in front of the existing foundation wall.

Generally, building a false was is easier than furring.  It also simplifies the job of finishing the wall and gives better results.

Choosing Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood contains chemicals that can cause cancer.  These chemicals make the wood impervious to decay and insect infestation.  Use PTW in areas exposed to water or exterior areas where ground contact is involved.

When cutting into pressure-treated wood, you must use a dust mask to prohibit yourself from becoming exposed to the chemicals in the wood.  Don’t forget safety glasses.

When choosing your lumber, attempt to find the driest stock available.  If you don’t, the wood will warp and twist as it dries.

Paint A Door Before Or After?

It is much easier to paint and prime a door before it is installed.  You can lay the door on two sawhorses or another flat surface and paint the door in a horizontal position.

Painting in a vertical position is more of an un-natural movement, and will take you longer to paint it.  To stop fresh paint from sticking to the underside of the sawhorses, use four large electrical wire caps set on their ends, sitting on a pair of 2x4s.  Read the article about painting doors

Basement Flooding

If your basement is seeping water from the outermost walls, go outside and inspect your gutters.  Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause these problems.

A house without gutters will allow water to either splash back on to the property causing water damage, or it will slip into the ground along the foundation and into the home.

Make sure water is deflected away from the foundation with a 3 ft plastic diverter or long piece of gutter and a splashblock.  Eliminate all outside problems first, then proceed to the inside if that doesn’t work.  You may need to install a sump pump if water is entering through the slab.

Finally, use a solution of bleach and water to remove black mold from smooth wall surfaces.

Using A Hammer

The correct way to place a nail into wood is by first steadying the nail with one hand while giving the nail a burst of small taps to get started. Once the nail is seated in the work, move your hammering hand to the very end (the butt) of the hammer, giving the nail long solid hits, until the nail is flush with the work.

Judging Paint Quality

One simple way to judge the quality of paint is to drop a stick into a well stirred paint can and lift it straight out.  Ideally, 1/8 to ¼ inch of the paint should cling to the stick, while the rest runs off.

If too much runs off, the paint will not cover; if the paint simply sticks without running off, it is probably too thick and require more paint than necessary to complete the job.

Cutting An Outlet Box In Plaster

Use a flat-head screwdriver to start, tap lightly to break the surface coat.  Once you finish tap-cutting with the screwdriver, carefully clear away the debris all the way to the lathe.

Using a keyhole saw, cut on one side of the lathe, leaving about 3/8 at the bottom.  This is so the lathe will be easy to remove without damage to the plaster.  Then, cut the other side completely.  Finally, cut the 3/8 inches on the other side of the plaster and that’s it.

Using Landscape Boulders

These large colorful rocks can be placed almost anywhere on your property.  They impart a feeling of permanence and strength.  An ideal spot to place a few landscape boulders is near a driveway entry.  It creates a natural barrier and deters people from driving their cars on the lawn when pulling in.

Install A Vent Fan To Remove Steam

If you plan on installing a vent fan in your bathroom, you should ideally mount the unit near the tub or shower and away from the door; duct it to the outside if at all possible, or to a well-ventilated attic.

Run the fan an additional 20 to 30 minutes after using the shower to get rid of lingering steam and humidity.

When To Remove Painter’s Tape

When using blue painter’s tape to create clean lines and borders, wait until the paint has completely dried.  Wait a half day before taking it off.  If you remove the tape before the paint dries, you’ll end up pulling a thin film of paint away from the border’s edge, defeating the purpose.

Cutting Glass

You can take measurements to a supplier and have glass cut, but it is not difficult to cut yourself.  To cut glass, all you need is a steel framing square and a glass cutter.  Practice the technique on a scrap before cutting a large piece of glass.

Mark the point where the cut begins by lightly nicking the glass with the cutter.  Wipe the line to be cut with kerosene or turpentine, which helps reduce the chances of chipping the glass.  Then slide a steel framing square along the line to guide your cutter.

Make the cut in a smooth, single sweep.  Just score the glass; pressing too hard will chip it.  Don’t try to go over the line a second time — you’ll just get a sloppy break.  Instead, turn the glass over and score it on the other side.

Move the glass to the edge of the work table, or place a dowel under the score and bend it downward.  Do this right away while the score is fresh, because — believe it or not — the glass will start to heal if you wait.

If all goes well, the glass will snap cleanly along the scored line.

Cleaning Up After Painting

Wipe away splatters with soap and water or the solvent used to thin the paint.  It’s best to catch these splatters as you work, not hours or days later.  Use a razor-blade scraper to chip off big paint droplets that already have set.  A putty knife will work, too.

Tap paint container lids with a hammer and block of wood to shut them tightly.  Store paint cans upside down to prevent a skin from forming.  Read the article

Kitchen Remodeling Tip

Install ¾-inch thick plywood sheeting for your countertop surface temporarily — if the permanent surface you’re installing is going to take longer than you anticipated.

Scheduling could also be a problem when lining up tradesmen, which leaves plywood a viable option.

Simply cut the sheet to size with a circular saw, then install the pieces onto the base cabinets with 1 – 5/8-inch black drywall screws.  Be sure to snap a chalk line to align screw placement along the cabinets.

Cut out your sink hole with a jigsaw before screwing the plywood to the base cabinets.  Add a screw in the center of the kitchen sink hole and a pair of vise grips to hold the screw (so the cut-out won’t fall and damage plumbing supply pipes) when you are about to finish the final cut for the sink.

If you are going to tile your counters with stone or ceramic tiles, use the plywood sheeting as a base for backer board.

Remember — people that live in the house need to access the kitchen area during off hours of a remodel, unless the property is vacant.  You’ll have to hook up the sink and drain lines, water lines, etc. to make things functional for the home’s occupants, so count on removing and installing the sink and faucet twice.

You Can Re-Use Disposable Paint Tray Liners

I discovered I could use an old paint tray liner again by waiting until the paint was completely dry — about 2 days.  I then started pulling up the paint from a corner of the tray very easily.  This works with most latex paints.  Even though the cost of paint liners is not that much, this can save a trip to the home store.

Use Vaseline For A Freshly Painted Door And Jamb

For the knob side of a tight-fitting door and jamb, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to these areas.  The Vaseline prevents the new paint from pulling off when you open the door.

Use A Piece Of Cardboard For Painting Trim

A cardboard flap can be cut off with a utility knife and used to block your paint brush from painting unwanted areas.  Simply paint with one hand and hold the cardboard with the other, effectively speeding up the painting process.  It will save you money on painter’s tape too, which sometimes can pull paint from a wall.  A better flap to use is a thin piece of aluminum, about 18 inches long by 6 – 8 inches wide.

Drywall Sanding Tip

Between adding layers of compound and sanding them down, use a flashlight held at a slight angle to check your work.  The light produces shadows to let you know where you need to fill or remove mud.

How To Keep A Raccoon Out Of Your Garbage Can

A really easy way to keep the pesky critters out of your garbage cans is with a 24 inch black rubber bungee cord with 2 metal “S” hooks at both ends.  You can buy these at most home stores.

This works for the kind of can garbage trucks pick up with their mechanical arm.  Place each hook of the cord under the lips of the can on each side of it, covering the lid.  You’ll have to stretch the bungee cord to make it fit but it offers a fix for the smart little guys — now they’ll have to eat dinner at your neighbor’s garbage next time!

Remove Air Bubbles From Drywall Compound

Add a few drops of dish detergent to drywall mud if bubbles form when smoothing a layer.  A good example that’ll work is a detergent called, “Dawn”.  Stir it well and apply it as usual to the wall or ceiling.

Saving Caulk

You can re-use caulk if you put a 2 inch nail into the hole opening.  A better alternative is find a screw that is the width of the hole and simply screw it in.

Check back later for new tips.

Share Button