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 »»