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24 Home Improvement Tips

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  1. Small nicks and scratches in a vinyl floor can be fused with liquid seam sealer.

  2. Deck Repair - Replace popped nails with rust-resistant deck screws. The new fasteners should be slightly longer than the original nails. Sweep your deck surfaces regularly. And pay special attention to the decking, stairs, corners, and out-of-the-way spots. To remove dirt and stains, scrub the deck with a solution of mild household detergent and water.

  3. Before ordering door replacements, check the thickness of your wall. Most stores are stocked with doors that have jambs matched to standard wall thicknesses. If you need custom jambs, you may have to order jamb extensions from the manufacturer.

  4. For a watertight seal on your windows, nothing beats reglazing with oil-based glazing compounds. Clean out the loose debris and make sure that the push points holding the glass are firm. Prime any bare wood. Then knead the putty for a minute and roll it between your palms. Use a good stiff putty knife to flatten the bead on the surface. Your motion should be quick and smooth and always in the same direction.

  5. Part workbench and part scaffold, a sawhorse makes any number of jobs in your workshop easier, from cutting sheets of plywood to supporting large pieces during gluing. Use sawhorses alone or in pairs, with a sheet of plywood placed on top.

  6. A word to the wise: When you read the list of required tools for any project and you come across a big-guns stationary power tool - such as a table saw or a band saw - please don't try to cut corners and make do with a portable tool like a circular saw or a saber saw instead.

  7. Make sure your new shelving project will stand up to your storage needs years down the road -- not just today. To increase the load-bearing capacity of a shelf and avoid any possibility of sagging, choose solid-wood shelves rather than plywood or particle board -- the thicker the better. You can reinforce solid-wood shelves even further by trimming their edges with continuous strips of hardwood lumber. And remember -- shorter shelves are stronger shelves. Even a strong shelf will tend to sag under the weight of a full load of books if it's over 30 inches long.

  8. Since the closets in most homes are about 5 feet wide, you'll find most off-the-shelf closet components sized to match. If by chance you can't find a manufactured wire shelf in the exact length you need, don't assume you'll be able to cut it to size with your trusty old hacksaw and have it look like anything but a hack job. Instead, take your measurements to your Home Depot and let us cut your wire shelving for you.

  9. Bearing walls are the ones that support the building. Check out the exposed joists or rafters in your attic or basement. If they run parallel to the wall you're wondering about, it is not a bearing wall. If the joists or rafters are perpendicular to the wall, it almost certainly is a bearing wall.

  10. Everyone who does electrical work needs a line tester; an indicator light with two leads. Keeping your fingers on the insulated portions of the tester, press the metal electrodes into a receptacle or touch them to the terminals you're testing. If the light comes on, there's power there.

  11. When you work on a floor, you'll spend a lot of time on your knees. It's a good idea to purchase a pair of strap-on knee pads to make your work more comfortable. What you spend for knee pads you'll probably save by not wearing out the knees of your pants!

  12. Working on your gutters and siding often requires the use of ladders. Always use caution when working on a ladder. Use fiberglass ladders if you're working around power lines or performing electrical repairs. If you're using an extension ladder for tall elevations, you can add inexpensive ladder stabilizers to make sure your ladder doesn't rock from side to side.

  13. Many plumbing repairs call for shutting off your water supply. If you don't have shutoff valves under sinks and other fixtures, you'll have to shut off the water at your water main -- the place where water enters your home. This is typically a valve located near your water meter. Make sure this valve operates smoothly. If not, replacing it is a job for a professional.

  14. When building a new, non-bearing partition wall, consider using 2x6 stud material. It costs a little more, but you get straighter, higher-quality material. If you plan to run wires, pipes, or ducts through the new wall, a 2x6 provides more surface area for making holes.

  15. Begin the battle against a wet basement before it becomes a problem. Make sure your gutters are in good repair and clear of debris. Also, check the grading around your home. If the soil setting is causing rainwater to run toward the basement walls, lay down heavy plastic sheeting and build up the grade to achieve a pitch of 1/4 inch per foot away from the house.

  16. If your refrigerator is set up for an icemaker but doesn't have one, you can install one without too much trouble or expense. Before you buy, contact the dealer or manufacturer to make sure you're getting the correct model.

  17. If you want to add architectural interest to a room and disguise flaws, think about creating textured walls or molding.

  18. Part workbench and part scaffold, a sawhorse makes any number of jobs in your workshop easier, from cutting sheets of plywood to supporting large pieces during gluing. Use sawhorses alone or in pairs, with a sheet of plywood placed on top.

  19. Spend a single weekend building a porch swing or a window box, and your efforts will pay dividends for years to come in the added enjoyment you'll get from your outdoor living areas. But remember, for an outdoor project that lasts - instead of one that prematurely ends up on the scrap heap - select weather-resistant building materials, use solid construction techniques, and finally apply the right protective finish.

  20. When you attach shelving to wallboard -- whether it's stationary shelf brackets, adjustable brackets, or the frame of a built-in unit -- go directly into the wall studs. In a pinch, you can attach interim brackets with hollow-wall anchor bolts, but be sure not to exceed the manufacturer's weight limits. Ignore this tip and you risk a needless wallboard repair, not to mention replacing all the items on your shelves that end up broken on the floor!

  21. Premixed wallboard compound eliminates the mess of mixing. It is available in both base and finish coats and can be used for most taping and finishing jobs. Be sure to use paper wallboard tape when you use premixed wallboard compounds.

  22. When you go fan shopping, make sure the unit you bring home is the right size for your space. For ceiling fans, come armed with the dimensions of your room -- they'll determine the diameter of fan you should buy. And when choosing an exhaust fan for your bath, for example, first figure the room's square footage. You'll want a fan with a rating that's at least 5 CFM higher than that number.

  23. Thresholds take a lot of abuse. As a result, the screws or nails used to hold them in place sometimes work loose. It's a good idea to occasionally check thresholds for loose fasteners. If you find one, fix it immediately.

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