Building Confidence

Volume 10 Issue 2
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

Tip of the Month

If you spill a drop of paint on concrete, quickly grab a handful of dirt and rub it over the paint before it dries. Later you can wash off the dirt: Ref: Remodeling 14: How to Install an Arch in an Opening.

And a Bonus Tip:

If you have a multibit screw driver, use the bits in your variable speed drill to make a power screwdriver. Ref: Useful Stuff 3: Dave's Basic Tools.

Ask Dave!

Hey Dave and Dan... Planning on finishing the basement. I'm a pretty sharp guy, but I guess not that Many questions on where and how to start and have been on the computer a lot. Wanted to put in new steps into the basement as my ribbon cutting and was a lot intimidated by cutting the stringers. I saw your site and many others and took a leap of faith with you two for a year. Entered my info into your Stair Calculator and holy man...can't wait to start making saw dust. This isn't a question but just wanted to say I was impressed and can't wait to struggle through my basement project and your site...From sub of Milwaukee Wisconsin. Thanks much already... John

Thanks, John,

I'm here for any questions. If you can build a set of stairs with a bit of instruction, I would say you are pretty sharp. Of course, I could say we have pretty sharp instructions, too. Ha!

Nice email, thanks,


Hi Dave what is the proper method and product to use for pine tongue and groove. I want just a clear coat. Thanks

Hi Andy,

You should use a polyurethane - Varathane, Semi-gloss or satin finish, in an oil or alkyd base. Avoid latex since it will raise the grain of bare wood.


Thanks, a couple of questions about prep - does the pine need to acclimatize in the cabin for a while before installing? If so how long - do I need to varathane both sides of the pine prior to installing or do I just varathane after installing? Thanks

Yes, leave the pine for at least 24 hours to 48 hours. It should say on the package.

Just Varathane the one side after installation.


Dave, I bought a water heater (3rd over the years) and noticed a couple of rubber washers of a sort in the inlet and outlet ports where the nipples go. They fit slightly snugly in the threads. They are solid, about 1/8 inch thick and have an "X" cut in the center. I am concerned that if I screw the nipples in on top of them that the one on the inlet side will go down the pipe into the heater and the other one out of the hot water port and clog something down the line. There is no mention of these parts in the installation instructions. Any ideas as to what these special "washers" are for and whether they should be removed before installing the nipples? Thanks in advance, Carl

Hi Carl,

Those washers sound like thread savers and should be removed before installing the nipples. Usually, they are colored vinyl inserts, rather than rubber, like you describe. Regardless, I would say to pull them out.


Hi Dave, I am laying tiles in my laundry room, the subfloor is wood. the spaces in between (seams) what do I fill them with? drywall compound, woodfiller? thank you Marion

Hi Marion,

Use a floor leveler compound for wood floors. There is a type for concrete floors, as well. It comes in bags and needs to be mixed with water and a bonding agent. This stuff goes on very smoothly and can be sanded easily, after it dries. With vinyl tiles the floor needs to be very smooth. Always read the directions on the bag for mixing cement products, some need to be slaked - left to cure/set for a short time, then stirred again without adding any more water.


Thanks, you have a great site here. I signed up for a year. The info about stairs and saw blades really helped out. Your site will be my #1 go to site. Thanks, again Harlan

Thank you, Harlan, that's good to know.


Hey was time for me to cancel my membership BUT, I want you to know that it's only because you solved my problem and I'm not planning any projects for the time being. The Stair Calculator was a god send....made a seriously iffy project into a pleasure. While not fully assembled, my son reports it's all looking good. Thanks --Bless you all. Steve

Thanks, Steve, glad we were able to help.

All the best in the future,


Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Remodeling 18: How to Replace a Sliding Patio Door

In conversing with a member of our site, recently, I was shocked to hear that he was quoted $900 for labor to remove an existing patio door and replace it with a new unit. I sent him these instructions, hopefully they will help you too.

Here are the steps to remove and replace a sliding patio door unit with the same size unit:

1. Remove the more at

Almost the End

Well, that does it for another month. We hope some of these questions and answers will help you with your own projects. If you need more advice, please join our website, then send me an email.

Dan and I appreciate your emails and support.


(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.


The Benefits of Membership

Membership gives you full access to our hundreds of how-to articles, woodworking plans, converters, calculators and tables. Our Stair Calculator is one of the most popular on the internet. We have projects you can build for (and with) your kids, furniture for your wife, and sheds and gazebos. If you run into a problem or need advice your Membership includes unlimited email questions to me through our Ask Dave quick response button.

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