Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to Install a Chin Up Bar Video

By Mark J. Donovan

If you exercise regularly and have an exercise area in your unfinished basement, then you probably already understand the value of having a chin up bar. In this video Mark shows how to install a chin up bar using some basic materials and house hold tools.

Mark Donovan, of shows how to install a chin up bar in an unfinished basement.

After watching this video, you'll be able to install your own chin up bar in less than an hour.

Readmore »»

Floor Care

Tips on How To Take Care of your Floors to Keep them Looking Newer Longer

Carpet Care

Let's start by saying that the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your new carpet or rug is to vacuum it. Regular vacuuming removes those nasty dirt particles that leave it looking dingy over time and abrade the fiber, which shortens its lifespan. Use a vacuum that has a rotating brush or beater bar, which stimulates the carpet tufts and loosens the dirt and soil. (Plus, schedule regular professional cleanings to remove soil accumulation that your regular vacuum can't reach.) If your area rug has a fringe, make sure it's sewn on well, and use the vacuum carefully.

If you have a thick carpet and want to remove any tracks the vacuum makes (it's called shading), you might try vacuuming in one direction, and then smoothing the carpet surface by hand.

You can help to reduce wear in your carpet by occasionally alternating your furniture placement to change the "traffic lanes" and allow the carpet to wear more uniformly. Be sure to vacuum these specific areas more often to reduce dirt particles, which can lead to matting too.

Vinyl Flooring Care

Caring for a vinyl floor is fairly easy, but there are some general rules.
Vacuum regularly to remove grit and sand, and wash your floor occasionally with the manufacturer's recommended floor cleaner. (Never use abrasive cleaners, soaps, paste waxes or solvents, though.) Also, to keep sand and grit from being tracked onto the floor, non-staining walk-off mats should be placed at every outside entry to the room.

Dull-looking vinyl floors can be restored to their original gloss with the manufacturer's recommended floor polish - but first, try cleaning to make sure a film on the floor isn't causing the dullness. With inexpensive PVC floors, you should consider using 2-3 coats of polish - any vinyl floor with a PVC wearlayer (that's a fancy name for surface) shows scuffs, scratches, and other marks very easily and by adding those coats of polish you'll make the floor easier to maintain.

When moving heavy objects across a vinyl floor, place plywood sheets down first and move the object over them.

Area Rug Care

Let's start by saying that the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your new carpet or rug is to vacuum it. Regular vacuuming removes those nasty dirt particles that leave it looking dingy over time and abrade the fiber, which shortens its lifespan. Use a vacuum that has a rotating brush or beater bar, which stimulates the carpet tufts and loosens the dirt and soil. (Plus, schedule regular professional cleanings to remove soil accumulation that your regular vacuum can't reach.) If your area rug has a fringe, make sure it's sewn on well, and use the vacuum carefully.

If you have a thick carpet and want to remove any tracks the vacuum makes (it's called shading), you might try vacuuming in one direction, and then smoothing the carpet surface by hand.

You can help to reduce wear in your carpet by occasionally alternating your furniture placement to change the "traffic lanes" and allow the carpet to wear more uniformly. Be sure to vacuum these specific areas more often to reduce dirt particles, which can lead to matting too.

Laminate Flooring Care

Laminate floors will give you years of sturdy life if you follow some regular maintenance tips.
Start by vacuuming your floor regularly using soft brush attachments. Wipe with a damp cloth or damp mop when necessary.

Even though these floors are extremely durable, they can be scratched, so you want to protect the floor from grit and sharp objects at all times. And always use felt pads or wide based casters underneath all chair and furniture legs. When moving heavy objects across the floor, use extra care and place walk off mats by all exterior doorways.

There are some "don'ts" when it comes to laminate floors, too. They should not be polished or waxed, and you should never use steel wool or harsh abrasive cleaners on them.

And never, ever try to refinish or sand a laminate floor.

Hardwood Flooring Care

To keep your hardwood floor looking beautiful, there are some simple procedures you should follow.

Vacuum regularly and use non-staining mats at exterior entrances to keep sand, dirt, grease, and oil outside.

To protect your floor's finish, use pads underneath furniture legs to help prevent scratching, and, while we're on the subject, keep all your pets nails trimmed, too. Along that same line, when moving any heavy objects (like furniture or appliances, for instance), use a dolly and protective sheets of plywood on the floor.

When cleaning the floor, always use the manufacturer's recommended cleaning procedures. Avoid getting water on the floor, too, as it may cause the wood grain to rise, or the boards to cup.
And be careful about exposure to the sun, because UV rays do the same thing to wood that they do to skin: accelerate the aging, which causes the wood stain to change color.

For more information on flooring please see our website at

About the Author: Dave Dumoulin is a flooring expert and representative of JP Flooring, a Cincinnati Flooring Company. For more information please visit our site at Readmore »»

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How to Install Ceramic Tile Backerboard on Subfloor

By Mark J. Donovan

When installing ceramic floor tiling it is best to install a cementitious ceramic tile backerboard over the subfloor first.

A ceramic tile backerboard should be installed on a subfloor that is expected to have high foot traffic. A backerboard of 1/4" or 1/2" thickness should be installed over the subfloor. The subfloor should be constructed out of 3/4" tongue and groove plywood installed over 16" on center floor joists. If the subfloor is warped, or flexes when you walk on it, then another 1/2" layer of exterior grade plywood should be installed over it. This second layer of subfloor should be secured to the base layer with screws or nails spaced every 6 inches on-center. The length of the screws or nails used should not be longer than the thickness of the two combined sublayers.

Once the subfloor is structurally sound you should next install 1/4" or 1/2" thick cementitious ceramic tile backerboard over it. The ceramic tile backerboard should be secured to the subfloor using a non-modified thinset mortar and 1-1/4" screws or nails spaced on 6" centers. Use a 1/4" x 1/4" trowel for applying the thinset mortar.

It is important to note that the thinset mortar is not used to secure the backerboard to the subfloor. Instead, it is used to fill voids between the backboard and the subfloor to eliminate any flexing between the two layers.

When installing the backerboard, space the boards 1/8" apart from one another. Fill the gaps with thinset mortar, as this will help to bridge any ridges between panels. Also, apply fiberglass tape into the mortar over the seams. Trowel a skim coat of mortar over the tape and smooth it out with a flat trowel.

Once the thinset mortar has dried, the ceramic tile can be installed. Readmore »»

Monday, December 24, 2007

Snow Roof Rakes

By Mark J. Donovan

Heavy snow left on your home’s roof can cause structural damage and water damage to your home if left unchecked. One of the best ways to get rid of snow off your home’s roof is to use a snow roof rake. They are light weight, have telescopic poles to enable very long reaches, and are much safer to use then climbing up on your roof with a snow shovel.

Snow that is left on your roof will typically melt during the day and refreeze up during the night. This process causes ice dams to form at the eves of your roof. Over time the melting snow, or worse yet a heavy rain storm, can cause water to back up under the shingles and cause water to seep into the home. Besides, causing water damage to the home it can also lead to rot and mildew forming on the plywood and roof rafters in the attic.

A clear sign your home is experiencing the affects of Ice damming is if you see water dripping in around the tops of your windows that reside on the eve sides of a roof. Also, if you all of a sudden see water lines running along a length of your finished ceiling, it is a sure sign that water is working its way under the shingles due to ice dams.

A snow roof rake is an excellent tool for removing snow from your roof to help reduce and prevent ice dam build up. Preferably you should try to remove several feet of snow from the edge of the roof as soon as the snow gets several inches deep. Snow roof rakes are made typically from aluminum and thus are extremely light weight. Many of them come with telescopic poles that can extend up to 20 to 24 feet in length. They also usually have a rubber covering on the blade edge to help prevent the roof rake from damaging the roof shingles.

Snow roof rakes are easy to use, and most of the time, do not require the use of a ladder. You can find snow roof rakes at most hardware stores or home improvement centers and can expect to pay between $20 to $50 dollars for one. Readmore »»

Monday, December 10, 2007

How to Install a Carpet Stair Runner Video

By Mark J. Donovan

Installing an inexpensive carpet stair runner on a straight hardwood stair case is something most DIY homeowners can do.

In this video, Mark Donovan of, explains step by step the process of cutting stair runner carpet, stapling it into the stair risers and treads, and installing stair rods to secure the stair runner carpet to the treads.

Please note that this is an inexpensive carpet stair runner that is installed in this video. This type of carpet stair runner can be purchased at any home improvement store and it comes with a no-slip rubber backing. If more expensive carpet is used for the stair runner, a carpet pad and tack strips should be used.

The tools required for this project included:

  • Square
  • Carpenter's Knife
  • Drill and Drill bits
  • Screw Gun
  • A stapler with 9/16 inch staples and 5/8 inch brads
  • Straight Edge

Readmore »»

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Laser Level Video Review

By Mark J. Donovan

A laser level is an excellent tool for installing chair rail, hanging a dropped ceiling, mounting electrical outlet and switch boxes, and just about anything you could use a level for.

Mark Donovan of reviews a 180 degree laser level. In the video he demonstrates how to use a laser level on a smooth surface, such as drywall, for hanging pictures. He also shows how to use it on a rough surface, such as a framing wall, for installing electrical outlet boxes. In the last segment of the video he shows how to mount the laser level on a tripod to have it beam on multiple walls within a room.

Readmore »»

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home Heating Energy Saving Tips

By Mark J. Donovan

With winter on our doorstep and home heating oil and gas going through the roof here are a few tips to save you some money while still staying warm.

1) Make sure your home heating system has been properly maintained to maximize its efficiency.

2) While having your heating system serviced have the serviceman lower the hot water temperature by 5-10 degrees.

3) Make sure heating pipes and ductwork in the basement are insulated.

4) Make sure there is adequate and properly installed attic insulation.

5) Fill your oil or gas tanks before the extreme cold weather hits. Because of high demand during these times for fuel, the cost of oil and gas skyrocket during these times.

6) Install a programmable thermostat in your home and set the thermostat 5-10 degrees lower when you are at work or during the evening.

7) Caulk around all the doors and windows to reduce drafts in the home.

8) Use flow-restrictors on shower heads to minimize the amount of hot water used. Readmore »»

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Frost in the Attic

By Mark J. Donovan

This year when you go up into the attic to get the Christmas decorations take a look around the attic to see if there is any frost on the roof ceiling or rafters. If there is then you have a moisture problem that should be taken care of. Moisture in the attic could lead to mold and mildew growth in the attic.

Observing frost in the attic is a sign that warm moist water is infiltrating the attic. Once the warm moist air hits the cold roof surfaces it freezes and forms the frost.

One of the leading culprits for warm moisture working its way into your attic is your bathroom ceiling fans. Check to make sure the bathroom ceiling fan vents and vent pipes are properly connected and that the vent pipes are directed outside the house. On several occasions I have discovered bathroom ceiling fans directly exhausting to the attic. The moisture with those hot steamy showers is captured in the cold attic and forms frost.

Another leading culprit for warm moisture entering your attic is simply poor insulation. Examine the insulation in the attic and make sure there are no openings in the insulation to allow warm air to rise into the cold attic. When warm moist air and cold air, come in contact with one another, condensation forms. When the attic air temperature falls below 32 degrees, the condensation freezes and forms frost in the attic.

Finally, if your house has a chimney check to make sure there are no signs of water infiltration around it. It is best to check for this after a good rain storm. Examine the chimney in the attic and look for streams of water or dampness around the bricks. If there are signs of water on the chimney then you need to apply a sealant or water repellant to the outside of the chimney. You may also need to re-install the flashing around the chimney. Readmore »»

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Drywall Paper Tape and Mesh Tape

By Mark J. Donovan

Over the years I have completed a number of drywall installation projects. In the process I have used paper tape and mesh tape for taping and mudding the drywall.

Paper tape works best on inside corners as it has a pre-formed seam running down the center of it that makes it easy to fold and to apply to inside corners. All you need to do is apply a skim coat of joint compound, prior to applying the tape to the inside corner. Just make sure you apply at least 1/8th inch of joint compound into the seam before applying the tape. Also, when using your trowel, do not press the tape too hard into the joint compound such that you squeeze out all of the material from underneath the tape. If you do, you will wind up with drywall tape that blisters or peals away from the wall.

As with the inside corners, when applying paper tape to flat seams, you first need to apply a skim coat of joint compound to the seams. Once you have applied the skim coat onto a flat seam, use your trowel to work the paper tape into the joint compound. Make sure the paper tape is centered on the seam so that there is equal overlap on both sides of the seam. Hold your trowel at a 45 degree angle and lightly press the tape into the joint compound. Again, you do not want to apply too much pressure, such that you squeeze out all of the joint compound from underneath the tape. If you do, the tape will blister and peal.

Mesh tape works best on flat seams. It is easy to apply, as it can be directly attached to the drywall without first applying a skim coat of joint compound. The only other negative with applying mesh tape to drywall is that your trowel edge can catch on it and instantaneously pull the tape off the wall.

My recommendation is to use mesh tape on the flat seams and paper tape on the inside corners. Readmore »»

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Watch Out for the Arrogant Contractor

By Mark J. Donovan

It has been about 2.5 years now since I started and I created these sites to share my experiences, and allow others to share theirs, on home construction projects. As I have always made it clear, I am not a professional contractor. By profession I am an electrical engineer, and marketing manager who has worked in the high tech industry for 25 years. This said, I am also a veteran homeowner of 20+ years who has gone through many home addition, home remodeling and home construction projects.

My experience with home construction began as a 10 year old kid, helping my father build a couple of family room additions, sheds, and two houses. Since purchasing my own first home, I have completed many home construction projects. My projects have included finishing basements and unfinished upstairs, putting on attached garages and family rooms, remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, and even acting as my own general contractor on building one of my homes. This final project, building my own custom home, was actually showcased on the DIY Network back in 2005 (Being your Own General Contractor – Vacation Homes).

One of the greatest skills I have learned throughout my years being involved in home construction projects is how to find the right building contractor. In particular, I have learned how to discern the differences between a good contractor and an arrogant contractor. Note that I say arrogant contractor and not a bad contractor. Bad contractors are usually easy to spot, if you check their references and you ask a few questions. The arrogant contractor, on the other hand is a little cagier. As a matter of fact, the arrogant contractor may actually be good at his trade. However, he is the type of contractor that is impossible to work with. He is the primo Dona that talks a lot of bravado. He’s the guy that wants you to work your build schedule around his. He is inflexible and is always right, and is never hesitant to tell you this fact.

My experience has been to avoid the arrogant contractor like the plague. He is the type of contractor that forgets you’ve hired him, and instead thinks you work for him. Besides being just plain obnoxious to deal with, this type of contractor also has the tendency to fast talk you into spending more money than you need or having extra work done that is not required.

The trick is identifying the arrogant contractor, before you’ve hired him. Over the years I have learned a few basic techniques in exposing the arrogant contractor before I have hired him.

First, always check the references. Make sure when you call or visit the references you ask them how was their experience working with the contractor. If the reference expounds on the virtues of the contractor for 15 minutes you probably have identified a contractor that you will be able to work with. On the other hand, if the reference gives you a “yes, he got the job done” type answer, then this should be a warning sign. Don’t hesitate to probe further with the reference.

Second, find out who the prospective contractor uses as his material suppliers. Visit the suppliers and ask them their experience with the contractor. You’ll quickly learn if he pays his bills on time and is good to work with. If the contractor does not want to share with you his material suppliers’ names, then this is a clear warning sign to stay away from him.

Third, interview the prospective contractor when he provides you with a bid for the project. Really try to get to know the contractor during this process. If during the interview, you feel the contractor is dismissing your questioning or is giving you half answers, then stay away from him. Do not assume that he is just a busy guy that doesn’t have time for your na├»ve questions. If he is unwilling to explain his bid thoroughly during the proposal phase of a project, then chances are he will become even more difficult to work with once he has your signature on his contract and your deposit in the bank.

Finally, place a couple of calls to him during the bidding / proposal phase of your home construction project. See if he returns your calls promptly and answers your questions. If he does not, chances are you are seeing how he will operate once you have hired him.

To conclude, there are many good contractors to choose from when starting a new home construction project. You just have to find them. The fundamental technique in finding a good contractor for you building project is to get to know him first, before you sign a contract with him. Make sure you check the references and suppliers, and spend some time with him during the bidding phase of your project to really get to know him. If the references check out, and you feel completely comfortable with him during the proposal phase of the project, chances are you have avoided hiring the arrogant contractor. Readmore »»

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gluing PVC Plumbing Pipes and Fittings Video

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are planning a small home plumbing project, you will probably need to glue together PVC pipes and fittings. When gluing PVC pipes and fittings together it is important that you get it right the first time, as the glue sets up very fast with PVC pipes and fittings.

In this video, Mark Donovan of steps through the process of cutting, cleaning and glueing PVC pipes and fittings together.

Readmore »»

How to Solder Copper Pipes and Fittings Video

By Mark J. Donovan

Are you planning to do a small plumbing project around your home? If so, chances are you will need to do some soldering of copper pipes and fittings.

In this video, Mark Donovan of demonstrates the process of soldering (or sweating) copper pipes and fittings. He goes over the process of cleaning the pipes and fittings, applying flux, soldering the pipes and fittings, and cleaning them after sweating the joints.

Readmore »»

Replacing a Toilet Tank Lever Video

By Mark J. Donovan

Metal toilet tank levers typically corrode and break after just a few years of use. The toilet tank lever is attached to the toilet handle you push down on, and a chain assembly inside the toilet tank that lifts the toilet flapper and causes the toilet to flush.

In this video, Mark Donovan steps through the process of replacing a toilet tank lever.

Why hire a plumber for such a simple plumbing project? In just a few minutes, you will learn all that you need know to quickly fix a toilet tank lever.

Readmore »»

Installing Bike Hanger Video and Recovering Garage Floor Space

By Mark J. Donovan

Are your bikes eating up the square footage of your garage? Well get them off the floor? By installing bike hangers on your garage ceiling you can recover your garage floor space, while still having easy access to them.

In the video below, Mark Donovan steps through the process on how to install bike hangers. After watching this video, in less than half an hour you can recover the floor space in your garage.

Readmore »»

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Leaf Blower Etiquette

By Mark J. Donovan

If I was asked to put together a top 10 list of the worst inventions, a leaf blower would be near the top of my list.

A leaf blower is an extremely loud and annoying machine that provides little to no value to anyone, including the person running it. Yes, it can quickly push a few leaves around, which may help in a few hard to reach locations, but overall it is an extremely ineffective and inefficient way to deal with fall foliage. As soon as a leaf pile or row begins to form, the leaf blower becomes ineffective in quickly moving the leaves. Even the more commercial grade leaf blowers typically become impractical in moving large piles of leaves.

Gas powered leaf blowers, which is the type most homeowners purchase, are two stroke engines that require the mixing of fuel and oil. Two stroke engines are great for being light weight, however they are notoriously loud and heavy air pollutants.

This all said, if you are still of the persuasion to purchase and use a leaf blower, you should at least follow a few basic rules of leaf blower etiquette.

First, unless you live in a rural setting where you’re closest neighbor is no closer than a quarter mile away, refrain from starting up your leaf blower until 9:30 am. Nothing can turn neighbor against neighbor more quickly, than the sound of a leaf blower at 7:30am on an otherwise peaceful and tranquil weekend morning.

Second, know your leaf blower’s limitations. A leaf blower is not going to move a mountain of leaves, particularly if they are wet, in any quick manner. Once you have created a pile of leaves of moderate proportions, turn the leaf blower off and employ your old fashion yard rake.

Third, blowing leaves off to one side of your property in hopes that they will stay put is just pure fantasy. As soon as the first wind picks up, the leaves will begin to strew themselves all over your yard again. Collect your leaves and store them in bags or in a fenced in compost pile.

Finally, do not blow the leaves from your yard into your neighbor’s yard, even though the offending trees may be on your neighbor’s yard. Again, this is a quick way to turn neighbor against neighbor.

By following these basic rules of leaf blower etiquette you should at least keep your neighbors from hating you too much during the fall foliage. However, before you decide to purchase or use a leaf blower you should also ask yourself what real value the leaf blower provides to you. Will it really save you time? Will you enjoy the fall outdoors even more? If the answer is no, or I don’t know, then hold off on buying or using the leaf blower. Instead, pull out the yard rake and enjoy a fall afternoon raking leaves. You might actually find the task of raking leaves to be peaceful and cathartic as you enjoy the peace and quite and fresh air. Readmore »»

Monday, October 8, 2007

Preparing your Garden for Winter

By Mark J. Donovan

Winterizing your garden in the fall is an important step to making sure your garden planting in the spring time is successful.

When the fall foliage has begun to appear it is time to prepare your garden for winter.

Start preparing your garden for winter by removing the old dead plants from the garden soil. Make sure you remove all of the plants including their root systems. Remove them from the garden entirely or pile them on top of the garden to decay.

Ideally you should remove the old plants from the garden and place them in a compost pile. Leaving old plant debris in the garden creates a refuge for rodents and insects. Also, if the plants are diseased it is important to remove them from the garden.

If you decide to leave the plant remnants in the garden leave them on top of it to dry out and till them into the soil in late fall or early spring.

Use some of the fallen leaves to your garden’s advantage. Leaves are high in nutrients and by tilling them into the garden you can improve your garden’s soil.

Don’t waste your money by putting fertilizer into your garden in the fall time. It is also bad for the environment. Without plants in the garden there is nothing to absorb the fertilizer. Consequently it washes away into the local creeks and wetlands causing harm to them.

Check your garden’s soil pH level and see if you should add lime or sulfur to it. Fall is an excellent time of the year to add lime or sulfur. Broadcast the lime or sulfur into the garden and then till them into the soil.

Tilling your garden in the fall time is also good for another major reason. Tilling the garden in the fall time helps to destroy any insect larvae in the soil.

Planting rye grass or another cover crop is also a good idea to prevent erosion and improving your garden’s soil. Simply broadcast it and rake it into the soil per the manufacturer’s recommended levels. In the spring, till the cover crop into the soil about 1-2 weeks before you plan to plant.
With these few garden winterizing tips, your garden is prepared for another great planting in the spring. Readmore »»

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Estimating Sheetrock Requirements

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are a do it yourself homeowner planning a sheetrock project, one of the most important items you want to get correct is accurately estimating the sheetrock requirements for your project. Estimating too much sheetrock will waste money, not to mention you will have to return or get rid of the excess material. And estimating too little sheetrock will cost you time, and maybe even more money for another delivery run.

Also, though sheetrock is relatively inexpensive, it is heavy and awkward to carry into and through your home. It can also break easily.

If you are planning to sheetrock a large room or space, frequently home improvement stores will deliver the sheetrock to your home on a flatbed that has a crane system. The crane can lift and place the sheetrock within the home, however usually a large window may need to be removed if the sheetrock is planned for the second floor. You won’t want to remove and install the window twice. Thus it is important you order enough sheetrock the first time.

So make sure you get it right the first time when estimating your sheetrock requirements for your home project. There are a number of free online tools that are excellent for estimating sheetrock requirements. See’s Drywall Calculator for getting accurate estimates. Readmore »»

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ceramic Tile Calculator

By Mark J. Donovan

Finally a Ceramic Tile Calculator that is easy to understand and gives accurate results. Check out's Ceramic tile Calculator. It allows you to specify your tile area, and select (via drop down menus) your required surface tile and border tile sizes. Its easy to use and its free!!

Check out the Ceramic Tile Calculator at today!!! Readmore »»

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stopping Basement Leaks

By Mark J. Donovan

Stopping basement leaks begins with the inspection of the outside of your home. Take a look at the soil grade around the basement foundation. The soil grade should be such that water will be directed away from the foundation and not to it. If this is not the case, you should modify the grade around the foundation so that water run off is directed away from the home.

Also check your gutters. Make sure they are clean and that the downspouts are directing roof run off water away from the home.

When the basement is dry identify the cracks in the basement foundation walls to be repaired. Using a hammer and chisel “key” out the cracks. Keying a crack is the process of opening the crack with a hammer and chisel such that the inside of the crack is slightly larger than the outside surface of the crack. “Keying” helps to create a better seal when the hydraulic cement is applied.

Once you have completed the chiseling process, clean out the crack with a wire brush. With the completion of the chiseling and cleaning process, you are now ready to add hydraulic cement to the crack.

Note: Make sure you wear safety glasses during the chiseling and cleaning process as cement pieces have a tendency to fly everywhere.

Once the cracks have been cleaned out, apply hydraulic cement to them in a two step process. Note that it is best to lightly dampen the crack areas with water just before applying the hydraulic cement to them.

For the first step, fill each crack with hydraulic cement to just about ¼ - ½” from the surface edge of the crack. For the second step, let the hydraulic cement harden overnight and then apply additional hydraulic cement to each crack to complete the filling of them. Use a trowel to smooth the hydraulic cement into the cracks and around the crack edges.

Once the hydraulic cement has dried apply a water proofing sealer over each crack area. You may also want to consider applying a coat of water proof sealer over the entire basement wall area for aesthetic reasons.

With these simple steps your basement should now stay dry. Readmore »»

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Preparing your Home for Winter

By Mark J. Donovan

With summer unofficially over, it is now time to think about making sure your home is ready for the winter ahead.

First, make sure the caulk around your windows and doors is still forming a tight seal. If not, remove the old caulk and replace it with fresh caulk. Air infiltration is high around leaky windows.

Second, check the roof. Make sure there are no loose shingles and that the ridge vents are securely fastened to the roof. Replace any broken shingles and re-secure the ridge vents if they have come loose. Make sure any exposed roofing nails are covered in roofing tar.

Third, have your furnace system cleaned and checked by a professional. In the process make sure the air filters are replaced with new ones.

Fourth, drain all lawn hoses and store inside the garage or basement. If the hoses are left outside during the winter months, the water in them can freeze and expand, which can lead to hose damage.

Fifth, if your water heater is not wrapped in insulation, then do so. Wrapping your hot water heater in insulation can save you significant money on your energy bills.

Sixth, have your chimney flues cleaned. Built up creosol due to burning wood can lead to chimney fires. Also, the chimney flues should be checked for cracks. Chimney flue cracks can also cause chimney fires.

Seven, make sure the gutters are clean and free from leaves and debris. Otherwise they will cause snow and ice to build up which could lead to failed gutters.

Eight, attach storm windows to your home’s exterior windows to help curb heat loss. Readmore »»

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Check for Asbestos before Removing your Popcorn Ceilings

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are considering removing your popcorn ceilings then you should first check the popcorn ceiling material for asbestos.

Though not all popcorn ceilings were installed containing asbestos, some were. So prior to scraping off your popcorn ceilings you should send a sample off to a lab that can determine if your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos. You can find labs/businesses that will check for asbestos in your local phone book or on the internet.

To find out if your popcorn ceilings have asbestos in them, spray a few small ceiling areas with a water/detergent mixture and scrape off a small section (2” x 2” area) in each area. Put each sample in a small air tight bottle or Ziploc bag and send it to your local lab for testing.

If the samples come back positive hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove it. If they are negative you can continue on with your plans to remove the popcorn ceiling yourself.

The cost for testing your popcorn ceiling samples is relatively inexpensive and well worth the investment if you value you and your family’s health. Readmore »»

Monday, August 27, 2007

How to Solder Copper Plumbing Pipes

By Mark J. Donovan

In Mark Donovan's (of latest video he goes over the process of how to solder copper plumbing pipes, a.k.a sweating joints.

Soldering copper pipes for small plumbing projects around the home is a fairly straight forward process. All that is required is a propane torch, some lead free solder and flux, and of course some copper pipes and fittings.

Mark's video demonstrates the entire process including: pre-cutting and testing the copper pipes and fittings, preparing the pipes and fittings for solder, soldering the pipes, and finally cleaning them.

Readmore »»

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Taping and Mudding Sheetrock

How to Tape and Mud Sheetrock

By Mark J. Donovan

Taping and mudding sheetrock involves some artistry and craftsmanship. However, most do it yourself homeowners can tape and mud a small sheetrock project with the right knowledge and tool set.

Proper Installation of Sheetrock

It is imperative that the sheetrock be hung properly in order to do a quality taping and mudding sheetrock job.

Sheetrock should be first installed on the ceiling.

After the ceiling has been sheetrocked, you can then move on to the wall. You should start at the top of the walls, by hanging an upper row of sheetrock.

After the first row of sheetrock has been hung on the walls you can then install the second row. It is important that the sheetrock seams be minimized to help ensure a quality finished wall look.

It is also important that the tapered ends of the sheetrock butt up against each other so that they create a slight depression line at approximately half way up the sheetrocked wall. This depression, or recessed area, enables the tape and mud to be applied over the joint seam so as to not create a significant bulge on the sheetrocked wall.

Taping and Mudding Sheetrock

Apply the First Coat of Mud

If you are using sheetrock paper tape, first apply a skim coat of mud, also known as joint compound, over the joint seams before applying the tape.

If you are using the fiberglass sheetrock tape with a sticky backing, you can apply it directly to the sheetrock seams and joints.

Once you have applied the sheetrock tape to the seam or joint, apply a thin skim coat of joint compound over the tape and seam/joint. Use a 6” broad knife to apply the joint compound and run it down the tapeline with long continuous smooth strokes. Do not run the knife perpendicular to the seam or joint with many short strokes. Otherwise you will create many vertical lines that will need to be sanded out. Once you have applied the first coat of joint compound let it dry.

Apply Second Coat of Mud

After the first coat has dried, use a 10” wide broad knife and apply a liberal amount of joint compound along the length of the seam or joint. Again, make long smooth strokes with the broad knife that run parallel to the seam.

When applying the second coat of joint compound, angle the blade slightly such that there is more joint compound left near the center of the seam. Ultimately you want to build up the seam/joint area with a little extra joint compound to fully cover the tape.

Note that this second coat of joint compound should spread out over the seam such that it is approximately 10 inches in width.

Again let this second application of joint compound dry. Usually it will take about 24 hours for it to dry.

Application of Third Coat of Mud

Before applying the third coat of joint compound use your 6” knife to knock off high spots on the sheetrock seam.

Now apply a final skim coat of joint compound over the seam, again feathering out the seam slightly wider than the previous application of joint compound. The purpose of this coat is fill in any miniscule cracks or lines in the existing sheetrock mud seam and to flare the seam out a little more.

Again let this third coat of joint compound dry over night.

Applying Mud to Corners

You may want to purchase Inside and Outside Corner trowels to help in taping and mudding corners. Corners can be a trick and it is where the real artistry comes into play. I would suggest starting in a closet for doing corners to get some experience on areas that will not be seen.

Applying Mud to Nail Holes

As with the seams, apply 3 coats of joint compound to the nail / screw holes. No tape is required for the nail holes.

With each new layer of joint compound, feather out the sheetrock patch so that after the 3rd coat the nail hole is covered with approximately a 6” wide circle of joint compound.

Note that you can apply the mud to the nail holes in parallel with the taping and mudding of seams.

Sanding Joints and Seams

The use of a sheetrock pole sander will produce the best finished drywall look, as well as save you significant time in sanding the joints and seams. I highly recommend the use of one. They are relatively cheap and well worth the investment. A pole sander is about 4-5 feet long and has a flexible 3.25”x9” head on it that you apply sheetrock mesh sheets to. You can also use a sheetrock hand sander as well.

When sanding the joints and seams make long smooth strokes with the pole or hand sander that run parallel to the seam. Apply less pressure to the middle of the seam and more toward the edges to feather out the edge of the joint seam.

It is important that you sand the edges of the seam so that they completely feather out to a smooth finish with the sheetrock. As you near the edges of the seam, you can turn the angle of your pole sander such that it is on a 45o angle.

Priming and Painting the Walls

With the sanding of the seams and joints complete, wipe down the walls with a damp rag to remove the sheetrock mud dust.

Next apply a coat of primer.

Finally apply two coats of paint, and your ready for trimming out the room. Readmore »»

Monday, August 13, 2007

Use of Leveling Compounds when Installing Ceramic Floor Tile

By Mark J. Donovan

Leveling compounds are ideal for smoothing out a subfloor surface prior to installing ceramic floor tiles. To ensure your ceramic floor tiles will not crack over time, it is critical that they be installed on a rigid and level subfloor.

Leveling compounds are cement based and are easy to apply. They will adhere well to both concrete and wood surfaces.

When preparing a floor for the installation of ceramic floor tile, additional material is typically installed over the home’s existing base subfloor. The existing subfloor is normally constructed out of concrete, 3/4th inch OSB, or plywood. Concrete, backerboard, or exterior plywood is normally added to the subfloor to increase the rigidity of the floor surface. The more level and rigid the floor, the less likelihood of the ceramic tiles cracking.

To ensure that the floor surface is level and rigid, a leveling compound may be needed, The leveling compound can be added to the floor to adjust for any dips or humps in the subfloor. Dips and humps can occur due to imperfections in the concrete slab or floor joists, or from warping in the base subfloor.

The subfloor should be clean and dust free, prior to applying a leveling compound to your subfloor. If it is not, you may get a poor bond between the leveling compound and the subfloor.

To apply leveling compounds, you can use a trowel, broad knife, and/or a length of 2”x4”.

Use the length of 2”x”4, to see how much leveling compound you will need, by running it over the surface of the subfloor to see how much of a dip or hump you have to deal with.

Note that leveling compounds set up quickly. Consequently, it is best to make up small batches at a time. Readmore »»

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Applying Caulk around a Tub Video

By Mark J. Donovan

Mark Donovan of shows you how to remove old caulk around a bathtub and how to apply new caulk around it.

It is important to apply a bead of silicone caulk where the bathtub meets the bathroom floor to prevent water damage to the bathroom floor. Readmore »»

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monitoring the Building of your New Home

By Mark J. Donovan

When having a new home built it is imperative that you visit the site regularly to make sure the home is being quality constructed. It is very important you do this early on in the home construction process as well as the end of it.

It is better to uncover problems early with your builder and your home’s construction, than later, when it becomes more expensive to make changes. When you see problems immediately bring them to the attention of your builder so that he has the opportunity to fix them before it is either too late or too expensive.

When visiting your new home construction site you want to focus on several key items:
  • How well the job is being managed
  • Attention to job site safety
  • The cleanliness of the job site – in and around the new home
  • The quality of the framing and construction
  • The quality of the rough electric and plumbing
  • Storage of construction material

Two of the most important things to look for in your builder and new home construction are how well the project is being managed and the attention given to site safety. Look to see if the builder has a centralized location within the home or on the site (e.g. trailer) for storing architectural drawings, building permits and safety notices.

Another red flag is job site cleanliness. If there is trash and scrap material lying all around the home construction site, there is a higher probability that there will shoddy workmanship as well. Trash and construction scraps should be placed in an onsite dumpster and the new home should be swept out at the end of everyday. The home should be free from trash.

When visiting the home construction site examine the framing for clean and neat joints, and the use of straight lumber. If you see shoddy cuts or twisted lumber being used bring it to the attention of your builder. Otherwise the finished walls will look terrible, not to mention structural concerns.

Also examine the home’s rough electric and plumbing. Make sure that holes being drilled in the floor/ceiling joists and walls are centered. You do not want wires and pipes too near the finished wall surface, nor do you want floor or ceiling joists improperly weakened.

Also check the home for proper use of flashing. Flashing prevents water damage and should be used on the roof, in-between the deck and home, on chimneys, and on siding, doors and windows.

Finally, check to make sure the construction material is being stored in a dry and covered area. Frequently construction material is damaged or stolen when left in the outside elements.

Monitoring your builder’s performance and your home’s construction early on can help to ensure your home is quality built. Don’t hesitate to talk to your builder about issues you have uncovered during your visits.

To learn more about hiring the right building contractor for your custom home building project see’s Home Construction Bid Sheets.

Readmore »»

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When Purchasing a Home Get a Home Inspection

By Mark J. Donovan

When planning to purchase a new home make sure you get a home inspection first. In fact, make sure the purchase and sales agreement is contingent upon your satisfaction with the home inspection report(s).

A home inspection should include:

  • Structural review of the home (framing, exterior doors/windows, siding, roof, floors, walls)
  • Water damage (shingle failure and/or siding failure)
  • Foundation check (for cracks and settling)
  • Electrical wiring check
  • Plumbing check
  • HVAC check
  • Pest damage (insects and rodents)
  • Interior Doors/Windows check (are they operational)
  • Water quality test (including checking for radon in the water)
  • Radon Air test (particularly if the home has a basement or crawl space)
  • Hazardous waste test (leaky buried oil tanks)

In addition, if the home is on a private septic system the septic system should be inspected to make sure it is functioning properly and that it is not damaged in any way.

Also, if there are any buried oil tanks on the property they should be inspected to make sure they are not leaking or near failure in leaking.

When signing a purchase and sales agreement allow yourself (the buyer) sufficient time to have the home inspections done. Ideally you should request up to 30 days in the purchase and sales agreement to have the home inspection done and to get the final reports.

It is extremely important to get a home inspection before buying your new home, even if the home is a new home. An uncovered problem during the home inspection does not mean you have to necessarily terminate the purchase and sales agreement. You may want to work with the seller to see if they will fix it, or reduce the price of the home accordingly to allow you to pay for fixing it.
A home inspection is well worth the investment; so before you buy your next home, get a home inspection. Ask your real estate agent to provide you with a list of home inspectors.

Readmore »»

Friday, June 29, 2007

Installing a Wood Closet Shelf

By Mark J. Donovan

After seeing so many homes with wire closet shelving, I decided today to revolt. I needed to install a closet shelf in a basement closet. For years, I have procrastinated in doing this simple task, and for years I felt guilt. After installing my new closet shelf today, I am now actually feeling pretty good about the fact that I procrastinated for several years. Why? Because I broke ranks with the modern society and decided to install an old fashioned wood closet shelf.

The wood closet shelf consisted of one shelf and a coat rack. I used a couple of pieces of pre-primed 1x4 stock, trimmed down to 1x2, a closet dowel, and a 14.5 inch wide piece of high end ½” thick plywood. To dress up the front face of the plywood shelf, I married up to it a section of 1x2.5 inch material. This created effectively a skirt on the front side of the wood closet shelf.

I then painted the wood closet shelf and stained the closet dowel. With the paint and stain dry, I attached the closet dowel to the 1x2x14.5 inch end supports using two pieces of closet dowel hardware.

Stepping back and admiring my work, I just have to say that the end product looked much better than the modern day wire closet shelving. It was also much more securely fastened to the closet walls and it was significantly more functional. No more worries about items slipping through the wire spaces, or the blankets and pillows getting creases imprinted into them.
If you have a closet shelf project to do, I’d highly recommend taking a little extra time and building one the “old fashion” way, with wood. You’ll like the end product. Readmore »»

Monday, June 18, 2007

Luxury Home Sales are still on a Tear

By Mark J. Donovan

Everywhere you read the housing market has cooled. However there is one exception, the luxury home market. The wealthiest Americans are still buying up luxury homes and vacation homes. Some reports suggest that the wealthiest 10% of the nation’s households could account for nearly half the home sales this year.

So what are the reasons for this anomaly, and are the wealthy setting themselves up for a major correction in their own ball field?

First, wealthier households, with incomes greater than $250K per year and high net assets, are typically immune to higher mortgage interest rates, inflation, and other household cost increases such as gasoline and grocery products.

Second, wealthier households in general have bigger appetites than the average household. Historically their diet has included big-ticket items such as homes, automobiles, and boats.

Luxury homebuilders have been more than happy to help fuel the demand, and I might add, increase their prices. At some point, however, even the rich will begin to feel the pinch, or at least become smart enough to know when they are not getting good value. When that point comes, the luxury housing market will probably have at least a soft landing. Until that point comes, however, this last bastion in the residential home market will probably continue to flourish. Readmore »»

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 Joins Yedda’s Interactive Knowledge Community enables Homeowners to Connect and Share Do-it-Yourself Home Improvement Knowledge and Information with Yedda’s Toolset

Tuesday, June 12, 2007: announced today its move to join the Yedda interactive knowledge community to provide its site visitors with fast access to a growing community of do-it-yourself home improvement individuals and resources. Yedda’s toolset enables site visitors to post questions to the and Yedda community, where other site visitors can help answer their specific questions.

“The Yedda toolset set enables our site visitors to proactively search for help on their specific home improvement and home building questions. Instead of just pouring through search engine results for non-specific answers to their home improvement questions, they can post their unique questions to the community and get highly focused answers. At we believe the Yedda tools will be a valuable resource for our site visitors”, said Mark Donovan Editor and Publisher of

In addition to the tool, has also added Yedda’s Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) porthole. The FAQ porthole provides a summary of the most frequently asked questions associated with home improvement, home remodeling, and home building topics. The FAQ porthole is constantly updated so there are always new and interesting home-related topics to view at

There are no costs associated with becoming a member of the do-it-yourself home improvement community, and membership sign-up is simple and fast. By becoming a member of this community you can personalize your account to not only ask questions, but also to provide answers on topics that you may already be an expert on. As a building contractor this is a great way to promote your professional experience and business, and as a homeowner it’s an ideal way to share your personal home improvement experiences. Visit and join our do-it-yourself home improvement community today.

About is owned and operated by DIY, and is the home improvement resource for finding accurate and helpful information on home improvement, home remodeling, and home building topics.

Contact Information:

Mark Donovan Readmore »»

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stop a Squeaky Floor before it Happens

By Mark J. Donovan

Nothing can be more annoying in a home then hearing the floor constantly squeak when you walk on it.

The best way to stop a floor from squeaking is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. When building a new home make sure the builder uses something like Liquid Nails, or some other type of construction adhesive, between the floor joists and the subfloor to help ensure a solid and permanent bond between the two surfaces.

The cost of adding a construction adhesive to the subfloor is extremely inexpensive and it takes only a minute to run a bead on each floor joist prior to laying down a section of subfloor. Don't let your builder cut this corner when building your custom home. Readmore »»

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Opening the Pool

By Mark J. Donovan

Yesterday I spent much of the day opening our pool for the summer. As usual I was filled with in trepidation as I began pulling back the cover. Opening the pool never goes smoothly.

There is first the process of removing the cover. Inevitably it is filled with water with decaying leaves. No matter how much you skim the cover first, you still wind up dumping dirty water and other organic matter into your pristine pool water that sits below the cover.

Next comes the installation of the water filter and its associated chemical delivery contraptions. There are a myriad of hoses that connect to these pieces and to the pool itself. Without fail, there is always something on this hulk of plastic and hoses that either breaks when you tighten it or springs a leak when you turn the pump on. To lower the risk of leaks, I normally buy a new set of hoses annually. However something else usually breaks. I am convinced pool manufacturers use the lowest quality plastics possible. One season in the sun and they become brittle and crack. Its as if the pieces are human, and burn like our skin.

Once the filter and hoses are hooked up its then time to remove the rubber seal that is covering the drain trap. This can be a challenge. Sometimes you drop a screw into the pool or you wind up loosing 100 gallons of water in the process. I’ve learned over the years to remove just two or 3 screws at a time when removing this rubber seal. You minimize water loss and you have fewer screws to fumble around with in your hands.

After removing the rubber seal on the drain trap, all that’s left to enable you to turn on the motor is to remove the plug on the output vent. This usually takes a towel and a little praying and cajoling to get it off.

With all the hardware connected it’s now time to start the chemicals. Again, I like to plan ahead and get them well in advance. Unfortunately, I always still find myself short of some chemical or a PH tester, or in this year’s case water. Yes, there was water high enough in the pool that it flowed into the drain, however this year it was apparently insufficient, or so I initially thought. The jet pressure was low and I could not seem to build it up. After multiple tries I finally discovered that as usual, there was a crack/leak in the system. This year it was the 2-year-old chlorine delivery contraption. There were multiple pinhole leaks that sprayed out a fine mist of water when the motor was running.

So today I am off finding a new chlorine filter. With a little luck, by this evening my pool will be operational and I will be reflecting whether or not it’s all worth it. Right now my opinion is, its not. However when the hot, sultry days of August hit, I’ll probably be changing my tune once again.
Readmore »»

Sunday, May 20, 2007

When thinking a Green Home Consider an Earth Home

By Mark J. Donovan

When thinking about going green with your next home purchase or custom home building project, consider an Earth Home.

An Earth home is extremely energy efficient. It is typically covered by three sides, and its roof, with several feet of soil, rock and/or concrete. It typically has one open side that faces the south or southwest for maximum passive solar heating benefit.

One of the major reasons an earth home is extremely energy efficient is that it is encased in the earth which has typically has a constant temperature of around 55 degrees farenheight. In addition, when building an earth home, the home is typically encased with rigid insulation and waterproofing on the outside concrete walls before they are backfilled with soil/earth.

Another reason earth homes are so environmentally friendly is that they are typically small in square footage. In addition, they usually have few windows, except for the open side. Consequently their heating/air conditioning requirements are minimal.

Though the lack of square footage and windows could initially be considered a turn off by many, with proper architectural considerations, such as creating large open areas and using interior lighting intelligently, an earth home can be designed to feel large and bright. In addition, the open side, facing south can be designed as a wall of windows to maximize solar heat and sunlight.

Another major cost savings with earth homes is the low cost of home insurance. Earth homes are less susceptible to wind damage, hail damage, theft and fire.

So if you are thinking of building a green home, research the idea of an Earth Home. You may be surprised on how roomy and contemporary an earth home can be. Readmore »»

Monday, May 7, 2007

Key Electrical Tools when tackling minor Home Wiring Projects

Mark Donovan of reviews the basic Home Wiring tools necessary for tackling a small wiring project around the home.

Tools mentioned in the video include a unique wire stripper, a multimeter, screwdrivers, pliers and a couple of other interesting tools.

Readmore »»

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Housing Slump Continues

By Mark J. Donovan

The U.S. housing market is still in trouble. Though new home sales increased in March, the increase was half of what industry analysts were expecting.

The Commerce Department reported yesterday that new single family home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 858,000 units in March. This figure is 2.6 percent higher than February which was the slowest month in the past 7 years, and left the sales pace 23.5% lower than a year ago.

This report follows a day after a report came out that existing home sales fell 8.4% in March, the biggest drop seen in 18 years.

If you are a seller the only positive nugget out of this news is that home prices rose in March 6.4% to a medium price of $254,000. The northeast region of the country slanted this data due to the fact that home sales in this are were the strongest and they usually command higher prices.

Analysts believe the major contributor to the housing slump is the increase in mortgage foreclosures. Readmore »»

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Are Green Homes the Future in Home Building?

By Mark J. Donovan

More and more frequently I read that the “green home” is the way of the future in the home building industry. With just a fraction of 1% of the homes today being green, I’m not so sure, however. It maybe 20 to 30 years from now, but I question the assertion that in the next decade that 50% of the homes will be green homes. Unless of course the phrase “green home” is redefined. Similar to how pork is described today as the other “white meat”.

A green home is a home that is designed and built to use less water and energy and is constructed using recycled materials. To be certified as a green home, the home usually needs to be less than 2500 sqft in total living area. There are a number of organizations around the country that specify what qualifies as a green home or green material. Some of the organizations include the EPA’s Energy Star program, Environments for Living, and HealthyBuilt Homes. These organizations rate homes on a point or star system. A green home, for example, with a 5 star rating is considered to be at the highest level of green conformance.

To qualify as a green home, a home needs to incorporate several key features. First, it must be a tight house so that there is little to no air leakage inside or out. Second the home needs to be insulated with green insulation material that also has a high insulation value, e.g. rigid foam insulation that does not outgas. Third, air conditioning and air duct work has to be sized properly for the house. Basically the air conditioning system needs to be highly efficient and minimized to no more than what the home really needs. Fourth, the home has to employ water and electricity conservation techniques.

Green home proponents claim the cost of building a green home is only 3 to 5% higher than existing home building costs. Again, I question these numbers. Typically a green home is a custom home, and a custom home usually has much higher material and construction costs than a standard home.

The green home is without question an excellent goal, however I think the residential home building industry will be slower to move in this direction than its proponents think. Home costs continue to represent a higher percentage of homeowner’s income, and as a result the green home will be out of reach and unaffordable for many. Unless the government provides significantly higher incentives for builders and homeowners to make and buy these homes, the green home will remain in the category of windmills and solar energy. Neat ideas that have yet to become viable market opportunities. Readmore »»

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Home Depot Introduces its own line of Micro Homes

By Mark J. Donovan

Apparently the Katrina cottage is gaining popularity throughout the country. Initally Lowes developed these micro-homes for displaced residents of the New Orleans area. However, national interest and demand is growing for these micro-homes. So much so that Home Depot has just announced its line of Katrina cottages.

Both Lowes and Home Depot plan on offering plans and building materials for these micro homes. Each offer a variety of plans for homes between 500-1000 sqft, with a price tag of between $25,000 and $50,000.

With large stick built home building costs well exceeding $100 per sqft, the micro home just may be the future in affordable housing, particularly as lot sizes shrink in populated areas. Readmore »»

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Install Baseboard Trim Video

In this video Mark Donovan of walks you through the process of removing and replacing a section of baseboard trim. He covers everything from removing the old damage baseboard trim to installing the new baseboard trim piece. He also shows how to caulk and paint it.

Readmore »»

Monday, April 16, 2007

Taping and Mudding Drywall Video

By Mark J. Donovan

In this video Mark Donovan of steps through the process of taping and mudding drywall.

Readmore »»

Friday, April 13, 2007

Who Pays when the Wrong Materials are Ordered for Your Custom Home

By Mark J. Donovan

So what do you do when the lumberyard shows up with the wrong windows and doors and insists that they are for your new custom home? Do you accept delivery? Who do you call to resolve the mistake? Who pays for the mistake? Sometimes all the players do, the lumberyard, the framing crew and even you? Unfortunately it is the price that you sometimes pay when being your own general contractor for your custom home. To learn more about how to avoid this nasty situation see “Who pays when the Wrong Windows are Ordered”. Readmore »»

Monday, April 9, 2007

Replacing a Pull Chain Light Switch Fixture Video

By Mark J. Donovan

In this video, Mark Donovan, of walks you through the process of replacing a pull chain light switch fixture.

Inevitably pull strings on pull chain light switch fixtures break, even when you treat them with care. When the inevitable occurs, it is easier and cheaper to replace the entire pull chain light switch fixture than it is to attempt to fix just the pull string itself.

Readmore »»

Central Vacuum System Video

By Mark J. Donovan

In this video, Mark Donovan, of reviews central vacuum systems.

If you are in need of a new vacuum cleaner for the home, take a look at a central vacuum system before purchasing another canister or upright vacuum cleaner.

A central vacuum system offers numerous advantages over canister and upright vacuum cleaners. They are light weight, extremely quiet and offer significantly more suction compared to canister and upright vacuum cleaners. And contrary to what you may have thought, they can easily be installed in existing homes, without having to tear up your walls.

Readmore »»

Power Washer and Cleaning Home Siding Video

By Mark J. Donvoan

When it comes to removing dirt and mold from your home's siding nothing beats a gas powered pressure washer. Gas powered pressure washers can pump out water at up to several thousands PSIs enabling you to strip away mold and mildew that you would not otherwise be able to do by hand.

In this video, Mark Donovan of reviews the basics of power pressure washers and the benefits they offer in cleaning home siding.

Readmore »»

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Making Mitered Cuts Video

By Mark J. Donovan

How to make Mitered Cuts when Installing door or Window Trim

The key to installing door or window trim successfully starts with making perfect mitered cuts, or more specifically creating seamless window and door trim joints.

In this video, Mark Donovan of steps you through the process of making the perfect mitered cut.

For more information on installing Window and Door trim see's Installing Interior Window Ebook and Installing Interior Door Trim Ebook. These Ebooks are loaded with pictures and provide easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to install interior window and door trim. Readmore »»

Friday, April 6, 2007

Toilet Bolt snap-On Cover Installation Video

Mark J. Donovan

Mark Donovan of steps you through the process of installing Toilet Bolt Snap-On Covers.

If your toilet's bolt covers are designed to just lay on top of the toilet bolts, most likely you frequently find them laying around the bathroom floor or in your dog's mouth. Exposed brown looking toilet bolts can make your toilet and your bathroom look unsightly. Toilet Bolt Snap-On covers are inexpensive and easy to install. They ensure the toilet bolt stays covered and guarantees a more finished looking toilet base.

Readmore »»

Sewage Ejector Pump Up Systems Video

By Mark J. Donovan

Mark Donovan of reviews the basic functions of a Sewer Ejector Pump Up System and provides tips on the installation procedures and costs associated with installing one.

If you are planning a basement remodeling project that includes a bathroom and/or laundry room, and the basement sits below the level of your main sewer or septic lines then you will need a sewer ejector pump up system and want to watch this video.

Readmore »»

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Pressure Washers are Ideal for Cleaning Home Siding

By Mark J. Donovan

Removing dirt, mold and mildew from your home siding can be done by hand with an ordinary brush, a bucket of soapy water and a lot of elbow grease.

But a much faster and better way is with a pressure washer. A pressure washer is the ideal tool for removing tough dirt, mold and mildew from your home’s siding.

What is a Pressure Washer?

  • It is a hand held device that outputs a stream of jet water at a very high pressure.
  • Typically the output water pressure rate is between 1500 to 3500 psi.
  • There are a variety of types on the market; however there are 2 major types, electric and gas powered.

I prefer the gas powered as they available with higher output nozzle pressures and do not require an electrical wire to be dragged around the home which can create a safety issue. Water hoses and Electricity don’t mix well. Not to mention, they it is just another line to drag behind the pressure washer.

Pressure washers come with a varitye of nozzle types to provide for different output water pressures.

They are typically used in a variety of cleaning applications including, removing dirt off homes, driveways, decks, patios, cars and boats.

A gas pressure washer costs in the range of $200-500. Electric Pressure washers cost in the range of $100 to $300. Both types are portable and are usually pulled along on wheels. All they require is a water hose and a source of power, gas for the gas types and electricity for the electric versions.

Using a Power Washer

When cleaning a house, stand about 10 feet away from the home when using the power washer. Aim the spray nozzle in a downward angle to the home siding when spraying to prevent water from penetrating up and behind the siding. Also avoid spraying electrical boxes or windows as you could cause an electrical short or damage the windows. When using cleaning detergents make sure you completely rinse it off the home, as the chemicals left on the home could damage it.


Pressure washers output a water stream that can punch a hole through siding and remove paint off a deck. Consequently they can be dangerous. Eye protection and proper work clothes should be worn when using one.

Power Washers are a great time and elbow saver, and are well worth the investment. Check one out at your local home improvement store and good luck cleaning your home siding.

For more information on Power Washers see our Video on "Power Washers and Cleaning Home Siding".

Readmore »»

Monday, April 2, 2007

Tiling over Vinyl applied to a Concrete Floor

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: I have an old vinyl non-cushioned floor with no asbestos. It has a slight texture and is securely stuck to the concrete slab floor. The floor appears to be smooth with no bumps etc, however there are a few holes in the vinyl. I am redoing my kitchen and am considering installing ceramic tile, porcelain tile or possibly some kind of natural stone tile directly over this vinyl floor. Is this possible and do you have any suggestions?

Answer: In general you should try to remove the old vinyl if at all possible, however I know from personal experience that this can be extremely difficult. This said, in some cases tiling over vinyl is possible.

A couple of important points: Tile is very rigid and thus will not flex without breaking. If the vinyl flooring has a great deal of resiliency/flexibility in it, the tiles could crack. Also, if the vinyl is not securely fastened to the concrete floor, then the tiles again could break or lift up.

If the existing vinyl is securely fastened to the concrete slab, and the vinyl itself has limited compressibility, then you will probably be okay to install the tiles over the vinyl. The original vinyl should be removed if either one of these conditions are not the case.

If the vinyl is a non-cushioned type and is securely fastened to the concrete slab, you can probably get away with installing the tile directly over the vinyl.

Finally, make sure you use the tile manufacturers recommended adhesive or bonding agent for vinyl surfaces. Readmore »»

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oil Based Paints

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil based Paints

By Mark J. Donovan

Oil based paint has a number of advantages. First, oil based paints are typically more resistant to low temperatures and therefore are less likely to experience shrinkage. Second, oil based paints do an excellent job of sealing stains. Oil based paints are also better for adhering to steel, metal, and dirty surface areas. Oil based paints are ideal for high traffic areas due to their durability and their ease of maintenance (ability to be cleaned).

One of the main disadvantages of oil based paints is the time require for them to dry. Oil based paints typically require longer periods to dry, up to 24 hours. Oil based paints are also known for strong odors and thus oil based paints should always be applied in well ventilated areas.

Another significant disadvantage of oil based paints is their propensity to fade and turn color (frequently to a yellowish color) over time. They also become brittle over time and begin to chalk, blister, flake and peal. Readmore »»

Monday, March 19, 2007 now Available on YouTube adds Helpful DIY Home Improvement Videos to its Collection of Home Improvement Information

Monday, March 19, 2007: announced today its move to expand its presence in the Do-it-Yourself home improvement space by now providing video content on its website. The video content will complement its existing collection of Home Improvement, Home remodeling, and home repair information., and the HomeAdditionPlus channel on YouTube, which can be seen at, is targeted to provide informative and useful video information to do-it-yourself homeowners on all aspects of home remodeling and construction. In addition to how-to advice, the sites will also include home building product reviews, and interviews with various experts in the home building trade.

Visit and make sure to subscribe to the channel. will be adding new and useful home improvement videos on a regular basis that you will not want to miss. is the home improvement resource for finding accurate and helpful information for your specific home project needs.

Contact Information:

Mark Donovan Readmore »»

Friday, March 16, 2007

Concrete vs Paver Driveway Question

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: We are building a new home in Texas and have been trying to decide on which material to use for the installation of our driveway. Our old home had an asphalt driveway and we were less than pleased with its performance and the maintenance required. The decision has come down to using either concrete or pavers. Maintenance is a big concern for us. Do you have any comparison thoughts between concrete and pavers?

Answer: Though asphalt is used in many driveways throughout the country they admittedly do require regular maintenance. They usually need to be sealed every year or two.

Regarding pavers: Pavers are more expensive than concrete, both from a unit cost and from an installation standpoint. The installation of pavers requires more up front site prep work, as the base needs to be extremely packed to prevent settling. Even with a solid base, however, inevitably some settling will occur. Also, the edges of a paver driveway will always be highly susceptible to movement. As a result, a paver based driveway will require maintenance over time.

Concrete on the other hand is easy to install, and is extremely strong, particularly when used with rebar. Concrete driveways are virtually maintenance free, however they are susceptible to staining and salt damage.

Living in Texas, your probably less likely to have to deal with salted roads so in your case salt should not be an issue.

Finally, there are techniques now employed with concrete that enable you to get a paver look (including the color) without paying the price of pavers.

My recommendation, go with concrete driveway if cost and maintenance are high concerns. Readmore »»

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Failed Mortgages will Hurt the Housing Market Further

By Mark J. Donovan

With this week’s announcement that the number of failed mortgages on the rise, particularly in the subprime mortgage sector, the housing market will probably continue to cool off.

Many of these subprime mortgages should have never been issued. The homeowners receiving them did not meet traditional basic financial standards. However, as with any sector boom there are always folks out there looking for a quick buck. Unfortunately, in this case it was fly-by night home lender institutions that quickly setup shop to take advantage of the housing market boom.

Companies such as Lowes and Home Depot will probably feel somewhat of a negative impact to their businesses as a result of these failed mortgages, as there will be a few less homeowners doing home improvement projects this year. However, spring and summer are usually strong growth periods for these companies, so the negative impact may be somewhat muted. Readmore »»

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Converting a Garage into Living Space

By Mark J. Donovan

A simple and low cost way to add living space to your home is to convert your garage into a finished room. Frequently you can gain a couple of hundred square feet of new living space by converting over a garage.

Prior to framing in garage doors and installing insulation and sheetrock, you should first check with your local building inspector to understand what you will need to do to bring the garage up to formal living space code.

Once you have spoken with your local building inspector, you should next talk to your prospective plumber if you are planning to add water into your garage. Adding drainpipes and supply lines into garage areas can be a dicey and dusty job. You can either cut out sections of the concrete floor or raise the entire garage floor to enable drainpipes to be installed.

Typically people just frame in the garage door openings when creating additional living space. You may want to build up the base of the garage openings with concrete or concrete block to the same height as the adjacent foundations walls to achieve a better curb appeal.

Typically garage floors consist of a slab of cement. Frequently they are un-insulated. Raising the entire garage floor with 2”xN floor joists can enable you to add insulation between the concrete slab and the finished floor space. Also, radiant floor heating may also be an option to consider.

Along the lines of insulation, frequently garage exterior walls are framed with 2x4s. If you live in a colder climate you may want to add furring strips to the exterior walls studs so that you can increase the insulation R-factor of your exterior walls. Readmore »»

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Waterproofing Basement Walls

By Mark J. Donovan

Waterproofing basement walls is frequently necessary when finishing a basement. Most basements have high moisture levels, and much of the moisture enters via the basement walls. If not addressed mold and mildew will grow causing potential health dangers to your family.

The first step in reducing moisture levels in the basement is to seal all basement wall cracks with a hydraulic cement sealer.

The next step in reducing basement moisture levels is to apply a water sealer to the inside basement walls. The water sealer should be applied after the hydraulic cement sealer has fully cured.

If there is extensive water seepage via the basement walls it may be necessary to install a perimeter drain around the outside of the basement foundation. This will require digging around the basement foundation down to the footing level, and installing perforated PVC piping. During the installation of the perimeter drain an external water sealer should be applied to the basement walls.

The installation of gutters may also be required if roof rainwater is falling on the ground near the basement walls. The gutters should be installed such that water is directed away from the foundation basement walls. Readmore »»

Waterproofing a Basement includes Wrapping Cold Water pipes

By Mark J. Donovan

When waterproofing your basement it is just as important to address your cold water plumbing pipes, as it is the basement walls and floors.

High moisture vapor, which is typically found in a basement, will condense on cold water pipes and form puddles on the basement floor below. You can observe this phenomenon during summer months by seeing puddle lines on the basement floor that follow the cold water pipes above.

To prevent sweating cold water pipes, wrap the cold water pipes with a plastic foam pipe wrap and tape all cracks and seams with electrical tape. Make mitered cuts (45o angles) with the foam pipe wrap to ensure tight connections.

In addition to the cold water pipes, also wrap the well water holding tank with a plastic blanket wrap to eliminate it from sweating as well. As with the cold water pipes, tape all seams. Readmore »»

Thursday, February 8, 2007 Announces the Deck Installation Bid Sheet

By Mark J. Donovan just announced a new Deck Installation Bid Sheet product. The Deck installation bid sheet is an ideal tool for enabling homeowners to find competent and qualified deck installation contractors, and to obtain deck installation quotes. It includes a comprehensive questionnaire (request for quote) that homeowners provide to prospective deck contractors. Contractors complete the questionnaire and return it to the homeowner so that they can assess if the contractor is right for their deck project.

The Deck Installation Bid sheet also includes a comprehensive deck installation advice section for homeowners. This section enables homeowners to properly assess the contractor completed bid sheet proposals. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet is a great product for ensuring you get your deck built on time, budget, and to your satisfaction. See's Deck Installation Bid Sheet to learn more about how to hire the right deck contractor. Readmore »»

Monday, February 5, 2007

Eight tips on Selecting Kitchen Cabinets

By Mark J. Donovan

When selecting kitchen cabinets there are a number of factors you should consider first before buying them.

1) Floorplan / Kitchen Size – How big is your kitchen. Dimensions will be required for developing a Kitchen design. Length, width and even the height of the kitchen area are required.

2) Budget – Kitchen cabinets can cost as little as a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Have a budget in mind before meeting with a kitchen designer.

3) Kitchen Cabinet construction – Face Framed or Frameless; Face framed is the most common way, but frameless kitchen cabinets are becoming more popular in contemporary kitchen designs.

4) Material Types – Solid Wood (Ash, Maple, Oak, Cherry, Birch, Hickory), Veneers, or Metal

5) Kitchen Cabinet Sizes – Kitchen cabinets come in standard stock sizes and custom sizes pending your needs. Stock kitchen cabinets are cheaper than custom or semi-custom kitchen cabinets.

6) Kitchen Cabinet hardware (Drawer and Door Handles and Knobs) – Select kitchen cabinet hardware that matches your kitchen appliances.

7) Kitchen countertops – Consider kitchen countertops when selecting your kitchen cabinets.

8) Kitchen cabinet lead times – Kitchen cabinet lead times can be long, particularly if custom or semi-custom kitchen cabinets are being fabricated, so plan accordingly.

For more info see Kitchen Cabinet Buying Tips. Readmore »»

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Advancements in Home Air Filters

By Mark J. Donovan

Home air filter technology has made huge strides in recent years. The original standard fiberglass home air filter was aimed more at protecting the air conditioning and heating system rather than the residents of the home.

If you suffer the effects of allergy symptoms due to pet dander, mold, or pollen, then the last place you want these floating airborne particles residing is in your house. A home air filter installed in your air conditioning and heating system can dramatically reduce the dust in your home and provide you with an allergy free oasis from spring and fall pollen seasons.

Today’s high efficiency home air filter systems protect the HVAC system, as well as the home’s residents. They provide you with filter fresh air virtually eliminating all of the floating airborne dust particles.

Many of today’s home air filters are coated with chemicals to help sanitize and kill the mold and dust spores so that they do not get re-circulated through the home’s heating and air conditioning system.

More sophisticated home air filter systems include germicidal UV eliminator Filter . These type of Air Filters protect the air your family breathes by virtually destroying all airbone contaminates!

In addition, many of today’s home air filters can trap particles less than 1 micron in diameter.

Home air filters are relatively inexpensive and a homeowner can usually install them in just a few minutes. Many home air filters are washable and reusable and have warranties from 1 to 5 years.

Purchasing a Home Air Filter

When purchasing a home air filter check for the MERV level. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This is an industry standard for rating the efficiency of heating and air condition filters. The standard was developed and is maintained by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The standard specifies the test requirements for determining a home air filter’s ability to trap airborne particles. Home air filters usually have a MERV rating level from 1 to 10. For filter fresh air I would suggest a MERV level of at least 7.

Home Air Filter Maintenance

Home air filters should be changed or cleaned once a month for best results. Usually home air filters can simply be washed with warm water and allowed to dry before reinstallation.

Also, your heating and air conditioning system should be checked at least once a year to ensure it is operating cleanly and efficiently.
Readmore »»

Monday, January 29, 2007

Consider the Bathroom Accessories when Remodeling your Bathroom

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are starting a new bathroom remodeling project make sure you consider the bathroom accessories ,as well as the Jacuzzi tub, and new vanity and countertop.

Key bathroom accessories to consider include:
  • Bathroom Flooring
  • Bathroom Towel Racks
  • Toilet Paper Racks
  • Curtains
  • Shades / Window Treatment
  • Bathroom Lighting
  • Paint Color schemes

All of these bathroom accessories can make or break your new bathroom remodeling project. Investigate all of your options in these categories before starting your bathroom remodeling project.

To learn more about bathroom accessories see: Bathroom Accessories.

Readmore »»

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Butyl Caulk

By Mark J. Donovan

Butyl caulk is the perfect caulk for exterior home applications. It is frequently used for concrete block, concrete, stone, and brick applications. It is also adheres well on aluminum siding, fireplaces and flashing.

Butyl caulk is difficult to work with and it is extremely messy. Conseqeuntly it is difficult to clean up, and will require paint thinner to remove it off of unwanted surfaces. It is also has a long curing time and a high shrinkage factor. It typically has a lifespan of 8-10 years and is available in many colors. It can support applicaitons with gaps up to ¼ inch.

To learn more about caulk alternatives see Types of Caulk. Readmore »»

Silicone Caulk

By Mark J. Donovan

Silicone caulk is a highly flexible caulk that has excellet adhesion. However it requires the surface to be extremely clean and it will not adhere to old silicone caulk.

Silicone caulk is ideal for wet applications, such as in shower enclosures or bathtubs. It is does not paint well.

It can fill gaps up to 1/4 inch in diameter and aheres well to almost any surface.

Silicone caulk is difficult to remove after it has dried. It is extremely difficult to get off of your hands. When applying silicone caulk, follow up quickly with wet paper towels to remove excess material.

To learn more about caulk alternatives see Types of Caulk.

Silicone caulk is warrantied to last 10-35 years, depending upon the manufacturer. Readmore »»

Acrylic Latex Caulk Benefits and Applications

By Mark J. Donovan

Acrylic latex caulk is used for many interior and exterior home applications.

Acrylic latex caulk is an extremely popular choice amongst homeowners. It is freqently used for caulking wood trim and other dry interior applicaitons. It is also used on exterior applications including around doors and windows. It also adheres well to aluminum siding. It typically lasts 10-15 years. Acrylic latex caulk is latex based so it is easy to clean up and is paintable.

To learn more about caulk alternatives see Types of Caulk. Readmore »»

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to Get a Home Construction Loan

By Mark J. Donovan

To obtain a home construction loan you will need to provide a complete construction package to the lending institution. The complete construction package consists of detailed engineering drawings, a build schedule, a material list, material and labor costs, contractor names, and an expected schedule of payments.

Usually you need to own the building lot outright in order to obtain a home construction loan. Also, often banks hesitate in providing construction loans to homeowners, without the involvement of a licensed general contractor.

A home construction loan can frequently be converted into conventional mortgage loan after the home has completed construction. Make sure you check with the lending institution on this option before deciding upon them. You could save yourself thousands of dollars in closing costs and interest rate payments.

To learn more about home Construction loans and how they work see: New Home Construction Loans.

For more help on building a new custom home, see's New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs. Readmore »»

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Architect Services and House Plans

By Mark J. Donovan

When in need of house plans, homeowners frequently think of an architect and then go out and buy a house plan magazine instead.

If you are in the process of looking for house plans to build a new home, you should not be so quick to dismiss the use of an architect and their services.

An architect provides more than a set of house plans and drawings. An architect transforms your dream home concepts into a home design that meets all building code requirements and your dreams.

Architect services include much more than providing house plans or drawings, and blueprints.
  • They initially meet with you to understand your home ideas and goals.
  • They develop initial concept sketches for your review and approval.
  • They perform site and environmental inspections.
  • They review all local building codes.
  • They develop detailed engineering house plan drawings and Bills of Materials.
  • They can specify every single finish piece of material in the home.

In the end they deliver to you a full set of construction plans for you to go out and request contractor bids.

Architect services can also include support during the bidding process and home construction. They can make sure you hire the right contractor for your project. They can also ensure that the actual construction of the home meets the construction plans and all code requirements.

So again, if you are thinking a new custom home project, talk to a couple of architects before running out and buying an off-the-shelf house plan from your local bookstore. You may be surprised in what they can offer.

To learn more see: Architecture Design Service Process

Readmore »»

Monday, January 22, 2007

Light Dimmer Switch Installation

By Mark J. Donovan

A light dimmer switch is a must have if you’ve just installed a home theatre in your family room. A light dimmer switch is also a great way to add ambiance to you dinning room.

Light Dimmer Switch installation is fairly easy for a homeowner to do. All that is required are some needle nose pliers, a couple of screw drivers, wire strippers, a volt meter or neon light tester, and about 1 hour of your time.

Step 1: Turn of power to the switch at the electrical panel.

Step 2: Check that power is indeed of at the switch. Toggle the switch to make sure the light is off.

Step 3: Remove the faceplate cover.

Step 4: Using your voltmeter or neon tester, probe the light switch terminals to see if the light switch is truly powered off.

Step 5: Disconnect the electrical wires from the switch and straighten them with you pliers.

Step 6: If installing a new light dimmer switch with only two black wires, install the new light dimmer switch by connecting the two black wires on the dimmer switch to the wires coming out of the electrical box. Note that there is no polarity with a 2 black wire type light dimmer switch, so it doesn’t matter which black dimmer wire attaches to which light switch wire.

Step 7: Twist each pair of wires together and attach a wire nut over each pair.

Step 8: If the light dimmer switch has a green wire (ground wire), connect this wire to the ground wire in the electrical box.

Step 9: If installing a light dimmer switch that has black and red wires, connect the black wire to the power (Line) and the red wire to the (Load).

Step10: To determine which is the Line and which is the Load, pull out both switch wires from the box and separate them. Also pull out the ground wire if the light switch is installed in a plastic electrical box.

Warning: Be careful that you separate the wires from each other first. Have someone turn on the circuit breaker to the light dimmer switch. Use a voltmeter or neon tester to see which wire is the Load and which one is the Line. The wire that causes the Voltmeter to deflect, or the neon tester to light, is the Line wire. Be careful not to touch the bare wires with your body.

If the electrical box is metal, probe one switch wire and the metal box, and look for a deflection on the voltmeter, or the neon tester to glow. Again, if you do see a deflection or if the neon tester glows, then this is the Line wire.

Now that you know which is the Line wire, have someone turn off the circuit breaker before proceeding to connect the light dimmer switch wires to the Line and Load wires.

Step 11: Connect the wires by twisting each pair together and installing a wire nut over them.

Step 12: Push the newly wired light dimmer switch into the electrical box and secure it with the two mounting screws.

Step 13: Install the light dimmer switch faceplate cover.

With the light dimmer switch installation complete, turn the power back on to your new light dimmer switch and test it.

For information on Changing a Light Switch, See's "How to Change a Light Switch Ebook". It provides detailed, easy to understand, step-by-step instructions and pictures, on how to replace a Light Switch. Readmore »»