Home improvement and renovation tips

Exteriors


How to avoid a wet basement

Improper drainage around your house can bring water into the basement and encourage moisture-related problems such as rot, fungus-growth and wood-damaging insects. Here’s how to decrease this kind of damage. Make sure your gutters are free of debris and leaks. Water spilling over or leaking through your gutters can quickly saturate the soil beside the

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Kitchens


Plan a kitchen island (Part I)

A kitchen island is a great way to add storage and counter space to your kitchen without cutting into valuable wall space for appliances, tables and other things. Plus, you can put the counter wherever you want it; you’re not restricted by the wall layout. Islands can also house appliances you don’t have room for

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Tools


Why the heck? Answers on tools and techniques

It’s the accepted way to do it. But why? Why do you wrap wires clockwise around a terminal screw on an outlet or switch? The outlet or switch will work just fine if you wrap the wire counter-clockwise; as long as there’s contact, the current will still be carried, right? That’s true. But here’s why

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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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