Home improvement and renovation tips


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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Read more in Exteriors


Six tips to install kitchen cabinets

Some tips to help you put in cabinets easier. Measure twice before ordering. Floors are rarely perfectly level, but your cabinets should be. If you start at the floor’s high spot, you’ll need to shim most of the cabinets — easier than starting low and scribing and cutting the bases. But if the floor varies

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Read more in Kitchens


Techniques to mark cutlines in wood and other materials

Some of the most important tools on the job are the least expensive, and the most often overlooked. Once you’ve measured and calculated your angle, you need to make your mark accurately. Here’s what you need. For framing and other rough carpentry, a soft “carpenters” pencil leaves a dark mark that’s easy to see. The

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Read more in Tools

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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