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Remodeling Tips and Advice

Here's a list of answers, tips and advice concerning stairs, remodeling, roofs and upholstery that people have asked Dave about that you might find of help. Click on a title to see its answer.

2x6 Door Header

On a 2x6 exterior wall, how thick do you make the header?

Angle of Stairs

How do we get the correct angles to cut the stair stringers and handrail posts?

Attic Bedroom

I am determined to turn an unfinished attic into a bedroom. How do I get started?

Bifold Door Framing

How do you frame in a bifold door? What are the rough opening measurements?

Bifold Door Header

Could you please tell me how you build headers for closet bifold doors that are 6'0" wide on non-bearing walls? Do you just build them out of 2x4's?

Bouncy Stringers

I have straight-run, open riser stairs up two stories. Each flight has about 17 risers. I was planning on using 2x12s for the stringers, but once they were installed and the treads were put on, they were still very bouncy.

Building Deck Stairs

How to cut the bottom of the stair stringers so the steps of the backyard wood deck stairs stay level to make up for the unevenness of the ground.

Building an Entertainment Center

I'm planning on building an entertainment center/armoire. Most of the plans that I've looked at call for a 1/4" plywood back to be nailed into the sides. However, one plan that I've looked at uses a 3/4

Ceramic Tile Floor

I want to put down tile on the kitchen floor. The floor currently has vinyl from the 70's and is flush with my hardwood floors in the dining and living room. My question is do I need to take out the subfloor and replace it so once my til

Cleaning Upholstery

We have a second hand set of Queen Anne couch and chair. I am told that it's a better natural cotton material that will not clean well but it's pretty dirty. I even wondered about dyeing it. Is that a possibility?

Concrete House

Do you know how I might find information on building the walls and roof of a residential home from cement as they do in commercial construction? This seems like it would be an extremely strong and inexpensive building.

Concrete Landing

I took the old concrete landing out from under the front steps because it was not level. How would you go about replacing it with a new one?

Concrete Repair

How do you fill and seal the gaps between cement and brick or cement and cinder block AND how do you fix the cracks in a cinder block wall?

Connecting Wall to Foundation

Should I put tar paper against the cement foundation wall before I put up the 2x4's?

Constructing a Window Well

How do you construct a window well?

Cut Stringer

I'm pretty good with tools, but I'm concerned with getting straight cuts on the stair stringers with my circular saw. Are there any tricks or helpful hints on making straight cuts with a circular saw?

Cutting crown molding

How do I cut 3 1/2" crown molding at the correct angle?

Dadoed Stringers

Some stairs are made by cutting a groove in the stringers for the threads to fit into. Is this done with a router? If so, what kind of jig does it require?

Decorative Columns

I am making a Home theater downstairs and need to make square decorative columns. Do you have any plans for these?

Determining the Swing of a Door

How does one determine the swing of a door?

Different Length Stair Stringers

I have a 21 inch plumb from my deck to the concrete below. My problem is that the concrete is not even, it slopes away from the house. I'd like to use two stringers (2x10) and then bracket two steps between them. How do I measure the dist

Dog House Size

I am in the process of building a dog house for my German Shepherd puppy. Can you please tell me what would be the correct size to accomodate her when she has reached her adult state?

Door Hanging

I'm in the process of finishing my new house and have a question. I have to hang doors, put on the base and door trim and lay a pre-finished hardwood floor. What should the order be? The sheetrock is up, spackled and painted.

Drywall Hangers

Have you any suggestions for the BEST methods for hanging shelves or other heavy objects from drywall where using a stud won't work?

Drywall to Wood Transition

Any suggestions on how to make the joint when you butt drywall to a timber frame post.

Exterior Wood Finishes

Can you give me some guidance on wood for my bar? For framing, I'll use treated lumber, but for the exterior visible surfaces, I wanted to use something a little nicer.

Filling in a Window With Sheathing

My question right now is on removing (filling in) an existing window. I am clear on what I will need to do with the framing. My question is on the exterior sheeting.

Floor Tiling

I am installing tile and carpet in the rec room of my house and the problem is that there's a two foot perimeter of tile around the room and the center of the room is carpet. How do I finish the carpet and attach it to the floor? There i

Foam Seat

We have an oak dining room set with chairs with woven seats. They have holes in them and cost a fortune to repair. I want to cut a board to fit and upholster the board. How thick should this board be?

Foundation for a Shed

I'm building a 10' x 12' gambrel roof storage shed on 3 - 4" x 6" runners and I'm going to use 2"x12"x12

Framing a Header in a 2x6 Wall

On a 2x6 exterior wall, how thick do you make the door header?

Gable End Framing

When installing barge rafters to support an overhang on a roof, using 2X6's, is there a standard (or recommended) spacing on how far apart to set the barge rafters? My overhang is 32 inches, it's a 10 in 12 roof with a span of 17' plus th

Glass Railing

What would be the best railing and baluster combination for a glass pane?

Handrail to Newel

I am installing a handrail on my landing and down the stairs. Your instructions given on how to do this includes everything I need except how to attach the handrail to the newel posts. Could you explain how to do that?

Hardwood Stairs

How new hardwood should be attached to an existing stair case.

Heating Ducts

I am refinishing the basement and need two additional air ducts in the bedroom and bathroom from the existing central air conditioning plenum. I need suggestions and/or diagrams on the proper assembly. I want to use rigid ducting and am l

Height of Door Handles

What is the height to fit internal door handles?

House Foundation

Should I put tar paper against the cement foundation wall before I put up the 2x4's?

How Many Shingles

How to determine the number of shingles you need to cover a roof.

How to Build Deck Stairs

I just built a new backyard wood deck, which turned out rather well. I am however having difficulty making up deck stairs. My total rise from the ground to the top of the deck board is 20.5 inches.

How to Install Drywall

How close to the floor and ceiling should drywall go?

How to Install Stair Spindles

How to determine an equal size spacing between stair spindles.

How to Install a Ceiling Fan

How do I install a heavy ceiling fan so it won't fly or fall off?

How to Install a Ridge Vent

Do you have any instructions/tips for installing a ridge vent on an existing attic roof?

How to Repair a Textured Ceiling

I did some repair work on a ceiling that had a textured stucco-like finish. How would I go about duplicating that finish in the area I was working on?

How to cut crown molding

How do I cut 3 1/2" crown molding at the correct angle?

Install Carpet and Baseboard

I am finishing a basement and we are putting down an OSB subfloor which will eventually have wall to wall carpet over it. Should I install baseboard trim before or after we install the carpet?

Installing A Shower Valve

Can you tell me how to install a shower valve in my new bathroom. The two 1/2

Installing Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

We had custom cabinets built for our bathroom. We chose to install the drawer knobs and door handles. What is the best way to install knobs and handles and assure uniformity prior to drilling holes. Cabinet facing wood is cherry.

Installing a Door or Window

When installing doors and windows in a new construction house, how much bigger do I make the rough opening than the actual size of the door or window?

Kitchen cabinets

I'm looking at building kitchen cabinets. Would they be similar to your corner cabinet plans or is there a difference in the case construction?

Kitchen cabinets

I'm looking at building kitchen cabinets. Would they be similar to your corner cabinet plans or is there a difference in the case construction?

Metal Roof Installation

The home I am building is a 28x30 Chalet style home. I am considering using metal roof sheeting. On a residential home, can the sheeting be installed with purlins alone attached to the rafters, without sheeting, or do I need both.

Newel Posts

What is the recommended distance between newel posts for a balcony?

Open Riser

With an open riser stair, how do you connect the stair treads to the stair stringer?

Patching Holes in Concrete

How do you fill and seal the gaps between cement and brick or cement and cinder block AND how do you fix the cracks in a cinder block wall?

Pex Pipe

I see a lot of people using pex for domestic water in new houses. In your opinion what are the advantages and disadvantages of using it.

Pine Stair Treads

Is pine okay for stair treads or is it too soft a wood?

Plastic Sewer Pipe To Cast Iron Bell

We are renovating an old house that has a septic system. The pipe to the septic is cast iron. How can we change this pipe to plastic pipe?

Pole Building

Do you have any advice for me to give my husband on setting poles for a pole building? It will be a 28' x 40' garage.

Post and Beam

I'm building a gazebo and have a question about how to attach the beams at the top of my posts.

Pouring A Shower Pan

Do you know about the type of cement to be used for the shower pan?

Range Hood Vent

Where can I find info on installing a rectangular range hood vent?

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

I would like to refinish my kitchen cabinets that are lacquered with a dark brown lacquer. I want to strip the lacquer and repaint them in a solid color. I do not want a glossy finish and am worried about paint brush strokes. I was consid

Removing a Wall

I am interested in taking down an interior wall that separates my kitchen and dining room and the wall runs parallel with the floor joists. Are there any special precautions that I should keep in mind while undertaking this project?

Renovating an Attic

I am determined to turn an unfinished attic into a bedroom. How do I get started?

Repairing Stucco

I have to repair some stucco damage around the outside of the house due to water coming up behind the stucco. How can I get a good color match and how do I go about getting started?

Repairing a textured ceiling

I did some repair work on a ceiling that had a textured stucco-like finish. How would I go about duplicating that finish in the area I was working on.

Reroofing a Roof

How to reshingle a roof.

Right Hand vs Left Hand Door

How does one determine the swing of a door?

Risers and Treads

When installing stair treads and risers some people are telling us the riser goes on top of the tread. We prefer the look of it behind the tread and thats what it looks like on your page. We just want to know the correct way of installin

Roof Pitch Angle

How to convert roof pitches to degrees of angle.

Shed Foundation

I'm building a 10' x 12' gambrel roof storage shed on 3 - 4" x 6" runners and I'm going to use 2"x12"x12

Size of Dog House

I am in the process of building a dog house for my German Shepherd puppy. Can you please tell me what would be the correct size to accomodate her when she has reached her adult state?

Size of Rough Opening for Door or Window

When installing doors and windows in a new construction house, how much bigger do I make the rough opening than the actual size of the door or window?

Splicing Stringers

I need to make stair stringers for a 10' rise. This will work out to the stringer being 18 to 20 feet long. I can only find 16' 2 X 12's. Is it okay to splice them to make them long enough? if so HOW?

Stair Landing

Should I add a landing in the middle of a 10' rise or use stronger wood for the stringer?

Stair Repair

One stair in my basement stairs is shorter than the rest by about 1/4 inch. I'm thinking of two solutions, but wanted to see what you say first.

Stair Risers

What size nails or screws would you suggest using for nailing/screwing the stair risers if I'm using 1/2 inch plywood for the risers?

Stair Rises and Runs

I want to build some stairs and I want the total rise to be 2 1/2 feet high, the rise 6 inches and the run 12 inches. Can you give a diagram of what it will look like?

Stair Runs and Risers

Why our Stair Case Calculator always gives one less run than the number of risers.

Stair Skirt

I want to replace the stair skirt boards with oak to match the stairs. Treads and risers were cut and installed to match the old fir skirt boards, and oak is thicker dimension. Where do I start?

Stair Stringers

I've got a nice stair case but it needs support stringers. How do I cut the stringers?

Stair Tread Thickness

If I cut 16 runs at 7 1/2 inches each, wouldn't my very first step be 9 inches?

Stair Treads

I used 2x12 non-pressure treated boards for the treads. A couple of carpenters told me the treads should be ripped into two 5 3/4 inch treads to avoid splitting and cupping of the stairs in a couple of years. Any advice on this?

Stair Trim

I'm going to be installing yellow pine over the stairs inside my house. They are between two walls and I would like to put trim boards along the walls on both sides, down the stairs. How is this typically done?

Stair Width

What width should indoor stairs be? They will be going to a master bedroom upstairs. I was thinking about 42 inches. They will be a straight run.

Stair Winders

How do you build winder stairs to save space?

Stairs Repair

The level of the concrete in my basement floor is off about an inch between where the ends of the stair stringers will be. This means the stringer height will be different. How should I fit and trim these two stringers?

Standard Door Sizes

Is there a standard width to a hallway? Also I've got a 36" front entrance door, the rest are 32". Is there a reason to put a 36" door anywhere else?

Standard Door and Hall Widths

Is there a standard width to a hallway? Also I've got a 36" front entrance door, the rest are 32". Is there a reason to put a 36" door anywhere else?

Standard Widths of a Door and Hall

Is there a standard width to a hallway? Also I've got a 36" front entrance door, the rest are 32". Is there a reason to put a 36" door anywhere else?

Staples for Underlayment

If I use staples for a Luan underlayment (for Linoleum in a bathroom), what size staple is best? Also, I thought the underlayment should end up half way through the doorway, but someone just told me only 3/4 inch and the carpet will be la

Story Height

What are the measurements of one story or the total rise of a one story staircase?

Stringer Board

Dave what's the standard size board for a stringer?

Stringer on Concrete

The inspector said I have to protect my outside stair stringers from the concrete on the outside landing. What does he mean?

Stringer on Pavement

How do I secure the bottom of the stringer to the paving slab?

Stringer to Joist

What is the best way to attach the stair stringers to the floor joist?

Stucco Repair

I have to repair some stucco damage around the outside of the house due to water coming up behind the stucco. How can I get a good color match and how do I go about getting started?

Supporting a Ceiling Fan

How do I attach a heavy ceiling fan so it won't fly or fall off?

Taping Cement Board Joints

I'm confused about whether or not to tape the joints on 1/4 inch wonderboard, a cement backer board for tile. The manufacturer says not to, but people in the trade say to tape them with fiberglass drywall tape. Any insight on this would b

Tar Paper

Do you use tar paper for moisture barrier under vinyl siding, the same as felt paper? We have 15 and 30 pound, which one? Is Tyvek housewrap better?

Tile on Riser

I want to replace my existing painted wood risers with slate or some durable tile. Is this possible and if so, how do I remove them to replace them or should I tile right over the existing riser?

Tiling a Floor

I am installing tile and carpet in the rec room of my house and the problem is that there's a two foot perimeter of tile around the room and the center of the room is carpet. How do I finish the carpet and attach it to the floor? There i

Toilet Space

How much space for a toilet is normal (the smallest) to have between a vanity and a bath tub?

Tread Thickness

Does the thickness of the stair tread change the total rise?

Veneering Stair Trim

I need to put new treads and risers on my indoor entry stairs. How do I remove the existing skirt boards? Or do I just veneer the old ones?

Vents in a Mobile Home Skirting

Can you tell me what amount of vents should be in the skirting of a mobile home?

Washing Machine Vent

How do I vent a washing machine without hooking up to a vent stack or through the roof?

Wet Vent

What is a wet vent? How do you vent tubs and showers?

Window Trim

Lots of people trim out their windows different than others. What's your preferred way of installing inside window trim?

Window Wells

How do you construct a window well?

Wood Finishing

I would appreciate any feedback from you regarding finishing the interior pine side of an out-swing french door patio door. After applying a conditioner (per Minwax's recommendation) I am considering applying a gel stain. Is any sanding n

Wood on Cement

The bottoms of my stringers are resting directly on cement. How can I maintain some sort of dry spacing so they don't rot out like the old ones did?

Dave

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