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Volume 6 Issue 8“Building Confidence”August 2008



Dan and I welcome you to another newsletter. We invite you to have a look at our website, with the many how to do it articles and new content added every month through these newsletters.

What's New!

Well, the Fall weather is just around the corner and a lot of us are thinking about those renovations that need to be done. We are one of them. We will be building a bedroom with ensuite down in our basement. I'll take some pictures, as we progress, so you can have a good idea how to do something similar, yourself. More in next month's newsletter.

Ask Away!

Here are the questions and answers for August:

Hi Dave.
I am currently siding my house and would like to put cedar shingles
in the gables. the problem is getting up there to work. i have a
seven twelve pitch and 25 foot span. the base for the triangle
is 14 ft above the ground. i know i could rent a pump platform but
wondered if you know of a cheaper way to make a temp platform to do
this job. also i have gables at the front of the house which require
the same treatment.
thanks Dave.

Hi Trevor,

Your best bet probably is scaffold frames and braces for 8' planks. You would need 12 frames and 18 braces, 3 frames high and 4 long. These are available at rental yards.


Dear Dave
I happened to visit your website while I was searching for details on stairs.
We are building a (2 storey with basement) house in Winnipeg, Canada.
We are finishing our staircase with ceramic tiling.
The tile installer asked us to install the stairs with open stringers.
My doubt is what should be the depth of the tread for tile fininshing-standard
or minimum. I found that the stairs leading to 2nd level from main floor
has 8 3/4" depth and stairs to lower level has 8 1/2" depth.
Somehow I feel that is insufficient tread depth with ceramic tile.

I appreciate your help in this regard.
Thank you

Hi Sowmya,

According to the Building Code of Canada the maximum finished tread depth, including nosing, is 355 mm (14"). The minimum is 235 mm (9 1/4"). The maximum run is 14, the minimum is 8 1/4". The 1" nosing is the difference between the 8 1/4 run and the 9 1/4 tread. These terms are all explained in my Stairs articles.

The standard rise and run in a new house is 7 5/8" rise with a 10 1/2" run, not including nosing. Let me emphasize the new house. Older houses were built when codes were different, presenting problems with limited space to erect a modern or ideal set of stairs. The nosing for wood is 3/4 to 1", for ceramic it may be less depending on the type of nosing that is installed. As you can appreciate, the nosing takes the majority of weight from the tread so must be installed correctly. Discuss this with your tile guy to be sure he is qualified to do stairs and he will be installing an adequate and structurally strong nosing. An option with tile is to install a hardwood nosing with tile up to it.


Dear Dave
I sincerely appreciate your quick response. Your advice is very helpful
considering that we moved here to Winnipeg just 10 months ago from the UK.
While choosing finishing materials for the staircase - I went for ceramic
tile finish with stainles steel nosing. I went for this finish as I've
seen same finished stairs in some show homes.
I will surely contact the installer regarding the depth of nosing to make
sure that the final finishing tread depth is not less than 9 1/4".

Thank you once again
Kind Regards

Being a recent widow, I was very interested in laminating my own countertop. It's just painted now and I don't have the muscle to replace with a store bought top. My question...Do I have to lift the sink out in order to laminate? Or can you recommend a good paint for me to use to just repaint the existing top?

Sorry for your loss.

Yes, you need to lift the sink to laminate the top. I don't like to see laminate tops painted, but a good paint to use if there is not another option is a urethane paint, such as Flecto Varathane. This is a good hard finish as used on hardwood floors. Just make sure any gloss is removed from the surface with a light sanding.


Can you recommend a type of power saw that can cut into tight 90 degree
corners? For example, I want to remove my wood flooring in a hallway by
cutting into the outer perimeter of the floor, flush with the baseboard
trim (I don't want to remove my baseboard, it's huge). This way I can
drop in cement backer board for tiling and cover the seam with 1/4 round
trim. I can't seem to find a saw that can do this.


Hi Tim,

I've been looking for something like this myself. What I use is a reciprocating saw, very carefully!! With a bit of practice it works. I noticed a chainsaw chain on a circular blade which fits onto an angle grinder. Thought to give it a try, but never got around to it. The recip saw works best with a 12" blade.


Hi Dave. Thanks for the reply.

The only tool I can find that comes close to cutting into a tight 90 deg
corner is the MultiMaster (by Fein) which ranges from $200 to $400
depending on if you want a case and how many attachments. I can get away
with the Msx 636-2 model because it has a plunge cut blade. I just have
to bring myself to pay $200 for something I'm only going to use once or
twice. Maybe sell it on eBay when I'm done!


Thanks, Tim,

Interesting tool. I read some of the comments from guys who bought this tool on They seem to think it is a quality tool, but the price is too high. It will pay for itself after a few jobs, though.


Hi Dave, We are building a small "inlaw" apartment onto our house and
have asked the builder to use pocket doors on each side of the bathroom.
My father-in-law had them on his other home and liked them and the new
apartment is very limited for space. The builder is dead set against it.
He says they're expensive, and will probably give us trouble down the
road that will result in tearing a wall out to do repairs.
Any suggestions?

Hi Dave,

I have installed pocket doors, one in my own home and never have had any problems with them. The door can be removed by removing stops and releasing it from the rollers on the track. The frame is actually part of the wall with the track attached to it. I've never experienced any problems with any of my installations. The door itself is the same as any other door, the frame and hardware is the only added cost. They are not my preferred door, but with limited space they are ideal especially for a small bathroom or closet. We have ours in a walk-in closet off our ensuite. One thing to watch is not screwing in a hanger or shelf into the wall and have the screw penetrate into the door.

Your builder has the right and should explain the pros and cons of your choices, but should also remember that he is working for you and should try to satisfy you to the best of his ability. I don't agree with why he is dead set against installing pocket doors.


With the coming of winter, a homeowner should prepare a To Do List. Here are some ideas:

  1. Change the furnace filter.
  2. Seal up any leaking windows and doors with weatherstrip.
  3. Install plastic over any windows that are not thermopane.
  4. Clean out range hood and bathroom fans.
  5. Caulk up any exterior cracks in the siding or stucco where moisture can get in and do its evil deed.
  6. Any outdoor painting should be done before the temperature reaches 10° C (50° F) or below.

I won't even mention what you should do in the garden at this time of year.

Fall is a busy time of year.

Thank you for your interest and support of our website. Send me an email if I can be of help with your projects.

Enjoy the colors of Autumn,


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"Just wanted to drop a quick line saying "Thank you" for your website! My wife and I just bought a fixer-upper and the resources we have found in your site have been invaluable. We appreciate the service that you are offering. We have used information from your site to do many things. Next on our plate is a stairway. And thanks to you, we're not going to have to pay $4000 to have it done. Keep up the great work, and keep'em coming!" NL

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