Home improvement and renovation tips

Exteriors


Concrete block walls 3 – laying it

We’ve calculated how much we need, and mixed the mortar. Now, let’s lay it. Two tips to start: Mortar dries quickly, so mix it in small batches. Note that a block has a top and a bottom. The top has more surface for the mortar. Lay out a dry run on the footing, spacing each

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Plumbing


How to stop your toilet tank from sweating

If you have condensation on your toilet tank, you could be damaging your tiles or causing rot in your subfloor. This “sweating” occurs when moist air hits the cold sides of your toilet tank, so it stands to reason that warming up the sides of the tank will cure the problem. Of course, you could

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Painting/Decorating


Pro painter tips to take the work out of painting

Painting can be a pain. But while you should never avoid proper preparation and application, you can save time. It starts with the paint you choose. If ease of cleanup, smell and speed are important, you’ll want to choose water-based latex. Latex paint cleans up with soap and water, and it smells almost nice (although

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More reno demo tips – plumbing protection

Eric Z, a long-time reader, experienced renovator/builder, and former owner of a large building supply store in Toronto, had some smart suggestions after reading our reno-demo checklist. “I lost an entire renovation,” he writes. “$40,000 in damage – due to a shut-off valve failing in the night the day before the new sink was to be installed.” As you can see from this photo, during the entirety of our long

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Five-point checklist for a trouble-free renovation demolition

A recent kitchen renovation reminded me, in some cases a little too late, about some key areas to cover up during a demolition or drywall mudding/sanding. Here you go. Mask doorways into other areas of the house Well, duh. Okay, I did remember this one. For a major old-house plaster demo or drywall sanding, 6 mil plastic and painter’s tape do the trick to seal the openings well. We stapled

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How to install a toilet – Tips

Now that we’ve installed a toilet, we’ll review a few tips to help you do the job with finesse. 1. It’s a good idea to pick up an extra valve just in case your soldering attempt isn’t up to snuff… particularly with a ball valve. Or do the job while the store’s open. 2. Use a MAPP gas torch when soldering such a valve. 3. When tightening the supply hose

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