Building Confidence

Volume 8 Issue 8
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to our Newsletter including home improvement questions and answers, a tip of the month and an article from our website.

What's Happening

This month we continue to discuss the reno on an older home that we did for my daughter and her family.

Tip of the Month

A wheelchair ramp should not be steeper than a rise of 1' for every 12' in length, except for very short wheelchair ramps. This means that if the vertical rise in the wheelchair ramp is 1' high the horizontal distance should be at least 12' long: how-build-wheelchair-ramp.php

Ask Dave!

During July and August my wife, Frances and I were helping our daughter, Jacqui, her husband, Mario and their two kids, Sheldon and Katelyn renovate a house they just bought. The plan was to start on the upper floor and renovate the four bedrooms; covert a walk-in closet to an ensuite and change the out dated fixtures in the main bathroom. In our last Newsletter, we discussed the removal of walls and rough-in of plumbing and electrical. Now for the rest of the story...

With the rough-in completed, Mario insulated the outside walls and around and under the tub in the main bathroom. We installed the drywall and concrete backer board around the shower for the ceramic tile, in the ensuite and water resistant drywall around the bathtub/shower. Mario painted the drywall and primed the backer board, before installing the tiles. We used a plastic trim piece around the outside of the tile, which finished it off, nicely.

Here are some photos:

Photo of the trim around floor tile.

Here is the transition from the bedroom carpet to the ensuite tile. Notice the metal trim of the tile. We asked the carpet guys before we installed the tiles, actually when they came out to do an estimate, how much we needed to lift the floor tiles up to give a nice flush transition like this. We had to install 3/8" overlay on top of the sub-floor to get to the right level. No bevel transition strip needed here.

Photo of trime around wall tile.

Here is a photo of the finishing strip around the wall tile. Painting the finish coat on the wall, first, gives a nice margin, as shown.

Photo of a shower enclosure.

Nice looking shower enclosure, eh? This is the nicest one I have ever installed. The base and enclosure was a unit package. Very nice quality. Notice the crown molding in the ensuite, a trend common today.

Photo of a tub surround.

This photo shows the tub and shower surround in the main bathroom. We installed ceramic tile around the surround. The shower arm and flange is above the surround and tile trim.

Photo of door trim.

The retro look of the door casing and header. Notice the plinth blocks, at the floor base. The crown molding adds just the right finishing touch. The baseboard and plinths were painted and installed before the carpet. Again, ask your carpet installer about this and the best height to install the base for the carpet and underpad chosen.

Photo of closet door trim.

Jacqui and Mario chose this style of closet doors, rather than bifolds. Notice the single header over both doors. These doors will have dummy knobs and roller catches installed after the final coat of paint.

Photo of bedroom ceiling with insert.

Notice the insert in the bedroom ceiling. The perimeter of the ceiling, around the walls is dropped down 1 1/2" and trimmed with a small crown which we ripped to size. The original ceiling finish was a sprayed on stipple which was scrapped off, re-mudded and primed and painted. Crown molding was installed in all the rooms.

Well, this completes our discussion of my daughter's family upstairs bedroom renovation. Their plans for the Spring is to renovate the main floor kitchen, laundry and small addition. I need to find a good hiding place!

Article of the Month

Plumbing and Ventilation 2: How to Remove and Replace Plumbing Fixtures

There are times in home improvement when the home owner must replace a plumbing fixture or at least remove it. I'm referring to removing the toilet, removing the bathtub and sink faucets or just removing a valve stem to replace its washer.

Home Improvement: Removing The Toilet

Let's start with removing the toilet, which should be removed if the toilet leaks at the floor (it's possibly the wax seal) or if the toilet is plugged and the pipes need cleaning with a snake or you are replacing the flooring in the bathroom with tile, vinyl, hardwood, etc.

Ever wonder why there are so many names for our favorite plumbing fixture? When removing any plumbing fixture, first turn off the water. The commode (from the Southern US) should have its own shut off down near the floor, offset to the left of center. This shut off should be equipped with a 3/8" OD (outside diameter) compression fitting for a 3/8" supply tube or closet riser (from "water closet", UK). Most modern heads (toilet) are designed for this size riser. If the one you have is an old 1/2" OD riser and shut off, better change it. For 1/2" nominal copper pipe coming out of the wall, I prefer a 1/2" nominal (5/8" OD) compression fitting in the shut off with a 3/8" OD compression fitting for a riser coming off at a 90 degree angle. If the 1/2" copper pipe comes from the floor, get the same thing but a straight shut off. If your house still has galvanized pipe, there are shut offs for sale to adapt to this style as well... read more at

Almost the End

Well, that completes the story of Jacqui and Mario's family's renovation and what we did during the Summer of 2010. Use these techniques to your advantage in your own reno, remembering that there are several ways to do a job. Be innovative and try new things.

The best advice I can give a home owner for a renovation is to have a plan: decide what you want, how you will do the job, whether some work is done by others or yourselves. Develop a schedule, especially involving the sub-trades, get estimates to determine price, experience and availability. Give your sub-trades plenty of notice after deciding which ones will do the job. They will need to fit you into their schedule, as well.

As I stated in our previous newsletter, do your research, checkout our numerous articles on the subject and email your questions to me if you need individual counsel. This service is included in your subscription to our website. Next month, we will continue with our questions and answers format of our newsletter.

All the best in your projects,


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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