Best Way to Install a Misaligned Sink Drain During Remodeling


Snappy Trap sink drain
Snappy Trap sink drain

During new construction installing sink drains is easy-everything is configured to work together. During a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project it can be a completely different story. You can bet that things will not line up using new components.

Case in point: in the course of re-building in the aftermath of the flood due to Hurricane Harvey we’ve got new cabinets and sinks.  I needed to match up with the existing wall drainpipe. It came as no surprise that the hook-up was not the straight shot that the original was. I needed a solution.

A Flexible Solution for Connecting Drain Lines

After looking at a number of solutions I settled on the Snappy Trap. It seemed like the easiest to install and the price was right. It comes in several configurations-single sink, double-sink, etc.

In my case I used two single-sink kits since I have two drainpipe p-traps that converge into one drain. Of course, in a situation with a double-sink and one  drainpipe, the Snappy Trap 1 1/2″ all-in-one-drain kit for double bowl kitchen sinks will give the best results.

In any case, one of the important benefits over other systems is that with this product the flexible tube has a smooth interior. This prevents build-up and excessive odor.

The System is Dishwasher-Friendly

The elbow that connects to the sink strainer tailpipe has a dishwasher drain connection nipple that points up at an angle so that there will not be any back flow up into the sink (see the picture below).

Snappy Trap sink drain with dishwasher connector
Snappy Trap sink drain with dishwasher connector

This is a convenient option but if you don’t plan on connecting a dishwasher, simply leave the cap on and you’re good to go.

Installing a misaligned sink drain during remodeling without hiring an expensive plumber is a thing of the past. If you’ve got some basic tools and some DIY common sense, dive right in. The hardest part is crawling in the cabinet.

 


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How to Select a Roofing Contractor


A new roof with a dormer
A new roof with a dormer

It’s simple. If you have a home you have a roof. Just as a residential fence protects your yard, your roof protects the interior of your home. Even renters need a roof although your landlord is generally liable for repairs like roofing and siding. But if you need to select a roofing contractor here are the things you need to know since a new roof is a rather large investment.

First, Decide on What Kind of Roofing Material You Want

You basically first have to choose between a metal or shingle roof. This is important because some contractors do it all but some simply focus on one kind of material. You don’t want a contractor to “practice” or “train new hires” on your dime.

Metal roofs will cost you more but they last longer and are very fire resistant. Consider this if your home is in the vicinity of fires spread by the Santa Ana winds.

Questions to Ask Potential Roofing Contractors

You can create a short list by going to a service like Angie’s List or Networx. You can also ask neighbors who have recently had roof service. After you have a short list it’s time to ask some questions.

  • Do you use nails or staples? Nails are far superior in windy conditions.
  • Have you ever had to deal with a mechanics lien? If so, it generally means he hadn’t paid his workers in a timely manner. Not a good thing.
  • Are you bonded? Do you carry Workers compensation and contractor’s liability insurance? The answer should be a resounding “yes.”
  • Are you willing to sign a binding contract? Life happens to all of us but nothing is worse than a roofing contractor pulling off the job halfway through to deal with something else.
  • How is your record with the BBB.

These are just some things you need to ask before signing on the dotted line. Protect yourself and your pocketbook.


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5 Ways to Refresh Your Walls on a Budget


Colorful walls & energy efficient windows
Colorful walls & energy efficient windows

Face it; contractor-built walls are just plain boring. There’s a reason for that. Actually, there are a couple of reasons. First, it is frugal to blast cheap texture through a hopper for a conventional orange peel texture. Secondly, that blah flat white paint? It is uninspiring but also frugal and allows for new homeowners to upgrade easily to a more attractive color and sheen.

Let’s take a look at some of the options we have for refreshing those tired, boring walls.

  1. Upgrade Your Texture

Contractor-applied texture is great for hiding drywall joints that were not properly finished but it is just a bit boring. Upgrading your wall texture is easy. I like to use a specialty roller like the one pictured below with watered down drywall compound (mud).

Use a drill and a ribbon mixer to thin the mud. It should easily drip off the mixer when the proper consistency is reached.

A texture roller
A texture roller

You can also used a regular paint roller with the nap of your choice for a less pronounced effect.

2  Paint Your Walls to Make Your Room Appear Larger

Not all homes are as large as we want them to be. Older homes can be notoriously small, especially stairways and halls; not a good thing for the claustrophobic among us. But rest assured that there are ways to open up that space.

Lighter color paint, especially in brighter sheens like eggshell and gloss create the illusion of more space. Wallpaper with vertical patterns give the illusion of more height.

3  Paint Over Old Paneling

Dark paneling may have been quite the thing in the 50s and 60s but today it looks old and dated. Removing it can be messy especially if adhesive was used. Luckily, it is easy enough to paint over wood paneling.

If it has vertical grooves, you will need to skim those with drywall compound and lightly sand the surface before texturing and painting.

4  Install Crown Molding

Polyurethane crown molding
Polyurethane crown molding

Installing crown molding will give even the drabbest rooms a touch of class. You’re not limited to wood either. Today you can find it in polyurethane and PVC which makes it easy to work with.

Fancy door trim styles
Fancy door trim styles

5  Install New Door and Window Trim

Contractor-grade door and window trim is just boring. In just a few hours you can remove it and replace it with trim that will give your walls a shot of style and class.

Kits are available at stores like Home Depot. All you will need is:

  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw or radial arm saw
  • Stool or ladder
  • Finish nail gun or hammer and nails
  • Nailset
  • Spackling
  • Paint and brush
  • Painter’s tape

I hope the above tips on refreshing your walls on a budget proved inspirational and informative. Got any tips of your own? Share them with our readers in the comment box below.


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Glass, Ceramic, and Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile



A glass tile wall with an accent strip
A glass tile wall with an accent strip

Article updated on 7/9/18

Tile is a very advantageous building material. It’s durable, inexpensive (usually), available in a huge range of styles, and easy to install with a few tools. Here are a few of the most common types of wall and floor tile that you are likely to encounter.

As with any new or remodeling construction project, it is important to approach it methodically and go in with a solid plan. Consider your construction budget, the living area and of course your style and tastes.

Glass Wall Tile

Glass tile is a great solution for shower walls and counter top  back splashes. The photo above is a bathroom shower glass tile installation that I recently did during a re-build following the Great Flood of ’18 (Hurricane Harvey).

This tile is clear glass with a colored paper backing which means it’s somewhat transparent at some angles and lighting conditions if the colors or marks on the underlying wall vary. Because of this it is important to apply a suitable white primer before applying the tile. Also, use white thinset as an adhesive.

Be aware that you will also need a special glass-cutting blade for your wet saw. Glass also chips easily so if you are making a narrow cut it is not only important to make a half cut and then flip it over and cut from the other direction but cut very slowly.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tile is suitable for floor, kitchen back splash installation and wall applications. The difference between the two is susceptibility to water absorption due to content of materials and how they are fired and boiled.

The advantage of porcelain is that it resists moisture much better than ceramic so consider your application. It is also more costly in general.

Going Beyond the Ordinary; Tile Patterns

A 3D ceramic tile pattern
A 3D ceramic tile pattern

There is no reason that your tile installation project has to be bland. The photo above shows a 3D center area with a border tile pattern that I am currently working on. It is available through Home Depot and is the Twenties collection by Merola and the pieces are Diamond (for the 3D center), Corner, and Frame. And of course for the outside I’m using matching gray tile of the same size.

In my case they didn’t carry it at my local Home Depot store so I ordered online and picked it up there in a week or so. Free shipping!


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Should You Do Your Own Electrical Repairs or Upgrades?

This can be a tricky issue. Usually it boils down to:

  • Are you competent to complete the task?
  • Does the local electrical building code specify a licensed electrician and building permits?
  • What is the scope of the remodeling project?

Regular Maintenance or Full-Blown Remodeling Project?

We all have situations where we are simply fixing small issues. These usually involve tasks such as replacing GFCI receptacles in the bathroom or kitchen, replacing ceiling fans, and hard-wiring a new oven. These are likely considered regular maintenance.

These are all things that the average homeowner can handle. A project that goes beyond that may involve having to pull building permits and having the job inspected and signed off on. In this case you will likely have to hire a licensed electrician. Always check you local code to be sure.

For example, if you are doing a kitchen remodel, there is likely to be some electrical work. Kitchens are very electric-intensive because of all the appliances. Plus, there is the issue of water and electricity. They don’t usually play well together.

Bathroom remodels face similar issues. There might not be so many appliances but the water issue is at least, if not more, critical. With kitchen and bathroom issues you will likely have to hire a licensed electrician..

Preventative Maintenance for Electrical Repairs

We never know when electrical problems will arise. Who among us has had a circuit breaker or fuse trip in the middle of the night? (It’s always at the worst possible time, right?)

Anyway, now is the time to cover your backside, before fate slaps you upside the head. The most basic thing you can do is to map electrical circuits. This way, when you do have an issue in the wee hours or you are wiring an appliance, you will know just which breaker is involved. The builder made these decisions and they don’t always follow logic.

Speaking of the circuit breaker box, I always keep a padlock on mine. Why? Well, it just happens that one of the things that would-be burglars will do is to flip the main switch to cut power to your house.

Does this qualify me as a bona fide paranoia whacko? Perhaps, but at least I’ve got my (imaginary) ducks in a row (or mallards in a queue if you are reading this across the pond).

The bottom line of this post is that you should know which electrical projects you can and should tackle from both a legal and frugal standpoint. Stay safe and enjoy your kilowatts.

 


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Choosing and Maintaining Residential Fences

Almost all homes will benefit from a backyard fence. They offer privacy, they let your children and pets romp without running off, and they serve as a deterrent to would-be thieves and vagrants. If the home contractor did not install one during construction, it is up to you as the homeowner to take care of it.

Even if you already have a fence, it may be old and in extreme disrepair. Or perhaps you just don’t like the look of it and want a different style. Either way a new fence is a great home improvement project.

Types of Fences

But that is not a bad thing. There are many types to choose from. In fact, there are at least 10 types of popular residential fences. Just choose the one that fits your style and budget. Consider these:

  • Chain link. Not the most attractive but affordable, durable, and porous in those high wind areas.
  • Vinyl-coated chain link. This is a bit of an upgrade that allows for a wide range of durable colors.
  • Fence slat. A modification of chain link where plastic slats are inserted through the openings in the fence, offering privacy, security, and protection from the wind.
  • Aluminum fencing. Its benefits include low-maintenance and weather-resistance.
  • Wooden pickets. Very popular because they are easy to install and are attractive.
  • Post and rail. This will give your property a more country look, similar to the split rail type fence.
  • Decorative lattice. If you are going for an attractive style that you can train climbing roses on this might be the one for you.

Maintaining Your Fence

Seeing as how your fence lives outdoors in the elements, it will require some maintenance from time to time. Some types require painting, some require pressure washing and some require picket replacement.

If you have to repair or replace a section that intersects at a corner, you might wonder how to do it right. Not to worry; here is a detailed explanation on how to construct the section and tie a picket fence in at a 90° angle.

Fence gates can also be an issue. Not only are they subjected to the elements but they also get a lot or wear and tear from opening and closing. I found an easy solution to replacing my own gate recently using an Adjust-A-Gate Steel Frame No Sag Gate Building Kit.

In short, when it comes to fence choice and maintenance, you have decisions to make!

 

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Springtime is Roof Inspection Time


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The roof of your home, whether a shingle or metal roof should be inspected, and have repairs done if needed, twice a year. The time corresponds to the season. Specifically, during the spring and during the fall. This is especially important in areas that experience snowfall. I don’t get any snow (well, maybe once every ten years).

These inspections grow increasingly more important the older your roof is. I have found that shingle manufacturer’s “guaranteed lifetime” are wildly optimistic and are basically a marketing tool.

Some Considerations During a Roof Inspection

The fact is that composition shingle roofs don’t last forever. What that means is that right after installation you shouldn’t have any issues but as time goes on you will have more and more. At some point it will make more sense to just bite the bullet and replace it.

  • If you are knowledgeable and know what to look for you’re gold. If not, have a reputable roofing contractor determine if you need a new roof or shingle repair.
  • If you do need a new roof and decide to do the job yourself you will need to know how to estimate how many shingles you will need.
  • On the other hand, if you are going to farm the job out it is important to know how to select a roof contractor. The industry is notorious for fly-by-night contractors. This is especially true if you need a new roof because of damage from a hurricane or other natural disaster. Some contractors flock in from out of state and take advantage of folks that already have enough to worry about. These contractors are often called “storm chasers.”
  • For minor damage repair such as fixing shingles, in many cases the average homeowner can do it himself. Just be sure to follow all the safety rules. I’m certainly not suggesting that you climb up on the roof if you don’t know what you are doing.

I hope you found this information helpful. Your roof might just be the most important component of your home. After all, if it goes, everything below will be exposed to the elements.
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It’s Time to Plan Spring Home Improvement Projects

Radiant barrier foil in the attic.
Radiant Barrier Foil and Paint in the Attic
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Given the recent blizzard on the U.S. east coast (February 2017) you might not be inclined to be thinking about home improvements; there’s too much to do digging out from under the snow.

But the fact of the matter is that this is the perfect time to be in the planning stage for such things. Homeowners are generally interested in at least three things: building home equity, becoming more energy efficient, and just being comfortable.

So what are some things to consider in this planning stage while waiting for that federal income tax refund?

  • Priorities. Make a list of “wants” and “needs.” It is always nice when these things coincide but reality often dictates otherwise. If you have to choose between a new granite counter top and a much-needed roof, you know what to do.
  • Get realistic about your budget. In the end this will dictate what you can really do. Keep in mind that the more work you can do instead of hiring someone, the further your dollars will go.
  • Spend time checking out any contractors you might use. Make sure they are insured and bonded and not going to put you on the losing end of a mechanics lien. Angie’s list is a great way to narrow your list.

Good Candidates for Home Improvement Projects

There are many considerations for projects; here are a few that I like:

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Drywall Texturing Techniques for Remodeling

There is nothing quite so plain as an untextured wall or ceiling; do you agree? Fortunately, you don’t have to be a pro or spend a lot of money to get exceptional results. Some of the most common ways to go about this DIY job are:

  • The paint roller method. This one is most likely the easiest and most frugal.
  • The knockdown texture method. This involves a bit more work but the results are impressive.
  • Orange peel, eggshell, or splatter texture. This is the one most frequently used by contractors. For this method you will need a compressor and a hopper, both of which you can rent.

For full details on applying your own texture, go to

Drywall texturing made easy

Apply or repair orange peel texture

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