Handy Tips For Any Handy Man
This week we endeavor to share with you various handy tips that are both clever and useful.
Deck Safety Check
Recent accidents in the news, where decks collapsed, underscore the need for proper construction and periodic deck safety checks. In addition to good plans, building permits, inspections and adhering to building codes…as decks age, even properly built structures can become unsafe. Boards rot, insects destroy wood integrity and fasteners and railings loosen. The result: a weakened structure. The bigger and higher (and older) the deck, porch or balcony…the greater the need for doing things right and frequent check-ups.
Drilling Ceramic Tile
Installing a towel bar, shelf or paper holder? To drill straight and true (and prevent drill tip “slip n‘ slide”), make an “X” by placing two strips of masking tape over your mark. Then drill right through it using a special carbide tip bit. The tape will keep the bit from traveling as it grinds through the surface glazing and on into and through the softer ceramic back. Ease up toward the end to avoid pushing out the backside of the drywall or backer board. The cleaner the hole – both through the tile and inside the wall – the better hollow-wall fasteners will grip and hold.
Concrete Painting Preparation
Whether adding a touch of color on a concrete bench or table – or painting an entire garage or basement floor – here’s an easy preparation that eliminates peeling. Wash first with warm water, rinse and let dry thoroughly…at least for a day. Then, using a clean paintbrush, apply a generous coat of white vinegar as a pre-paint primer. Once dry, it will increase the bond and paints will hold and last much longer. White vinegar pre-wash works well on metal, wood and plastic surfaces too.
Candle Wax on Carpets
One of the toughest carpet clean-ups is melted candle wax. To avoid a “personal” meltdown, simply cover drips with a brown paper grocery bag and gently run a warm iron over the spot. Start with a low temperature, and keep checking (and increasing) as you go. The heat will re-liquefy the wax and the paper bag will absorb it. Keep checking and re-positioning the bag until all wax is absorbed. Caution: too much heat can damage your carpet. Start low and increase gradually.
Hollow Wall Stud Helpers
When you open a wall or build new – and have exposed framing – take time to think ahead as to things you may want to install in the future. Atop windows, add extra lumber nailed flush between the studs just below the top plate at each end of the header. Later on, you’ll have solid backing for any curtains, valences and accessories you want to install. Add back-up blocking anywhere you may need extra support later on too (for grab bars, shelves or wall-mounted accessories). Not building or opening up a wall? Add strength and support with surface-mounted 1/2-inch plus lumber. For a “spiffier” look, use a pre-fab shelf instead with plastic laminate on all six sides and matching snap-in screw head covers.
Rug Corners That Curl
Got rug corners that won’t stay put? That curl and lift up…and don’t look good? All you need is a piece of “peel-and-stick” floor tile – a foot square or more (the bigger the better). With a pair of scissors or a utility knife, trim off each of the corners to form four large triangles. Then peel the backing and stick each one to the underside of the rug – right where corners are curling. The tile will straighten the unsightly curl and the extra weight will help keep them flat and in place.
Ready for summer cookouts…but your grill isn’t? Here’s a quick “refresher” course: For grill racks loaded with crusty barbecue sauce, wrap with aluminum foil (all around with shiny side in), close the lid and cook on high for 15-minutes. Lava Rocks below are grease-laden? Don’t replace. Just turn ‘em over and “cook” them as well. Soon, grill racks can be rinsed and brushed to look like new, and grease will have cooked right out of the Lava Rocks too. For high-heat glass windows, spray with glass cleaner and dab some fine gray fireplace ash on a dampened soft cloth. Rub and the ash will permeate the microscopic pores and reduce surface tension, making cleaning easier. Oven cleaner adds horsepower, too.
Dramatic Deck Illumination
The clever use of rope lights and cable illumination systems turns average decks into stunning showplace settings. These lights – contained in flexible clear tubing – can be bent, curved or added onto…and the low-voltage mini-bulbs can be clear or a myriad of dazzling colors. Rope and cable lighting throws soft indirect long-runs of light on or around almost anything. Used under hand railings, on stairs and to outline decks, it adds shimmering pizzazz to starry summer nights.