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Floor Coverings     Foundations     Framing     Garage Doors     Garage Door Openers



1. FLOOR COVERINGS OVER A BASEMENT SLAB: Before putting hardwood or vinyl floors over a basement slab, you should test for moisture. This can be done by taping down a small (2’x2’ square) of visqueen, and leave it overnight. If there is moisture under the visqueen, then you may want to install a more porous floor covering like ceramic tile, or just paint the floor.
2. A TRICK FOR CUTTING SHEET VINYL: Here's a trick for cutting sheet vinyl to get an exact fit no matter how difficult the layout. For explanation purposes, we will assume the room is an 8'-6” x 5' bathroom with cutouts needed for the bathtub, cabinets, toilet niche and linen storage. Starting parallel to the longest wall, strike a line in the center of the room that goes all the way from end to end. This will be the “X” axis. Then, using a steel square and a straight-edge, strike a “Y” axis perpendicular to the “X” axis in any area that goes wall to wall. Using these axes you can now measure exactly to any point in the room. On the back of the sheet vinyl, lay out a similar set of axes, and use them to mark your cut-lines. Remember you need to think “backwards” because you are marking on the back side of the sheet. Alternately, you could mark the front of the sheet with light pencil lines.
3. CUTTING AND FITTING LAMINATE FLOORING: When laying laminate flooring, the usual technique is to fit the long edge together first, and then tap the ends into each other. Sometimes however the edges will not “snap” into each other easily, leading to damage to the flooring, or to “puffed up” edges. If you are experiencing this difficulty, try fitting the ends first, then lift the long edge to fit into the previous board. Wherever feasible fit smaller pieces together before fitting them into the body of the floor.
4. USING A “BATTER BLOCK” TO FIT LAMINATE FLOORING: Most of the instructions you will find for laying laminate flooring recommend using a steel or wood block to protect the thin edges of the flooring from damage when tapping them together. I've found that this is sometimes not enough to protect the edge from slight “puffing” damage that will show up after the whole floor has been laid. Of course, by then the only fix is to take it all back up to the damaged board. I use the additional protection of a “batter block.” A “batter block” is just a narrow piece of flooring cut from the “lap” edge of the flooring and fit into the “lip” edge, then I use the steel or wood block to tap the “batter block.”
5. LAYING OUT A LAMINATE FLOOR: Before starting your laminate floor, check a few things. Make sure the sub-floor is relatively flat with no large humps or bumps. Check the dimensions from wall-to-wall in case the walls are not parallel. Check the overall width. By starting with a full board at one wall, do you end up with a thin strip against the opposite wall?


1. FOUNDATION CRACKS; HAIRLINE CRACKS IN FOUNDATION WALL: Hairline cracks (up to 1/8”) are common in most foundations. Concrete is going to crack. Many older foundations have no reinforcing bar to hold it all together. However, in my opinion, in residential applications, the reinforcing bar is not necessary to the function of the foundation. Re-bar in residential foundations is just a waste of money, but is usually required by local codes.
2. PRESSURE TREATED WOOD AND FOUNDATIONS: Any wood framing in contact with the foundation wall should be pressure treated or cedar.
3. NAILING WOOD TO CONCRETE: The best method I have found for attaching wood to concrete is the split shank nail that drills into the concrete. Once the hole is drilled through both the wood and the concrete, the “nail” is driven in and set flush to the wood surface.
4. WATERPROOFING BASEMENTS: If there is an active source of water in the foundation excavation, it is nearly impossible to prevent it from entering the basement. For a fool-proof system, use a combination of asphaltic emulsion, with a drainage mat over the emulsion, and backfill with freely draining gravel down to a footing drain.
5. KEEPING WATER OUT OF THE BASEMENT: One common source of water in basements is surface water. If runoff water is directed into the basement foundation wall near the top, it will find its way in. Make sure all slabs and surface grades are sloping away from your house for at least six to eight feet.
6. WATERPROOFING BASEMENT WALLS: Most asphaltic emulsions that are sold for waterproofing basements, will not keep an active water source from entering your basement. They will help keep dampness from penetrating the concrete walls, but cannot stop an active water source.
7. WHEN USING PRESSURE TREATED LUMBER: In many jurisdictions, codes require a particular type of pressure treated lumber that in turn requires any metal in contact with the lumber to be galvanized. Your lumber supplier should know the difference and be able to advise you accordingly.



1. FRAMING – STANDARD ROUGH OPENING DIMENSIONS: Standard rough-opening dimensions are as follows: Standard interior door opening: Width plus 2 inches (e.g. if the door call-out is for a 2 foot, 6 inch door, then the rough opening would be 2 foot 8 inches). Standard interior door height: Height plus 2-1/2 inches (a standard door is 80 inches tall, so the rough opening would be 82-1/2 inches). Standard Exterior door width: Width plus 3 inches. Standard Exterior door height: Height plus 3 inches. Standard exterior windows: Net opening for vinly or aluminum windows (e.g. if the callout is for a 6 x 4 window, the opening would be 72 inches by 48 inches). For wood or wood-clad windows check with the manufacturer.
2. PITCH OF HIP OR VALLEY RAFTERS WHEN FRAMING: When framing a hip or valley rafter, the pitch changes from the standard 4-in-12 or 6-in-12 or “X” in12 pitch of the main roof. If you are framing a 90-degree hip or valley, the angle will be “X” in 17. If you are framing a 45-degree hip or valley, the angle will be “X”in13.
3. DRILLING LVL OR GLU-LAM BEAMS: Normally, it is not a good idea to drill a glu-lam or LVL beam. However, if cutting or drilling a glu-lam or LVL is unavoidable, use the “middle third, middle third” rule. In other words drill somewhere in the middle third of the span, and in the middle third of the beam’s depth. If the project needs to be inspected, then it is a good idea to get an engineer’s approval.


1. BENT OR BROKEN GARAGE DOOR PANELS: Individual garage door panels can often be replaced without replacing the entire garage door. Look for a company in your area that specializes in garage door sales and service. If your garage door can be repaired, they can let you know if the garage door that you have is still being manufactured and if a replacement panel is available.
2. REPAIRING A MINOR DENT IN A STEEL GARAGE DOOR OR STEEL MAN-DOOR: Repairing a minor dent in a steel or aluminum garage door is just a matter of using the right filler. Epoxy fill materials made for auto repair are your best bet. They do not shrink, and can be mixed in small amounts. Be sure to drill a couple of small holes in the back of the dent to give the filler something to “grab.”


1. WHICH GARAGE DOOR OPENERS ARE BEST?: Chain drive? Belt drive? Motor Size? Manufacturer? These are the many questions you will encounter when selecting a garage door opener. As a general rule, if the door is larger (e.g. 16’ wide) or heavier (e.g. wood or wood clad), I would go to a 1/3 or even ½ hp. model.
2. GARAGE DOOR WILL OPEN, BUT NOT CLOSE: The most common reason for failure of a garage door opener that was previously working, is a mis-alignment of the safety beam. There is a low voltage safety beam that stops the garage door if it senses something in the way. The sending or receiving unit often gets bumped, causing a misalignment and preventing the door from closing.
























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