Thursday, November 29, 2007

Merry Christmas, Folks!

Here comes Christmas! Halloween and Thanksgiving were great but Christmas is my favorite holiday. There are many reasons for this - hanging out with the family, great grub, and exchanging gifts with the family and friends.

Christmas in Panama

But unlike most of you, I don't associate Christmas, or winter for that matter, with the cold and snow. Although born in Texas, I grew up in Panama. Christmas day was usually hovering around 90 degrees. And, coming at the end of the rainy season and beginning of the dry season, morning precipitation was somewhat iffy.

DIY Christmas Articles for You

But I digress. I wanted to talk about all the great things you can do for Christmas with your family. Over at Suite101 where I'm the Home Renovation and Repair Feature Writer, I've put up a few holiday DIY articles lately. (Yes, there are some good "hint" articles to show the significant other if you're lusting for new tools as Christmas presents!)

Christmas and Holiday Articles of all Stripes

But, I'm not the only writer who's ponied up some killer Christmas and holiday related articles. The Feature Writer for Crafts offered to take on the gargantuan task of organizing the links to these articles. They come from a vast array of writer's specialties. You can get the details at my latest DIY blog there.

So, let me leave you with these thoughts as we approach Christmas and Chanukah - focus on your family, do something for the troops, and stuff some cash in the Salvation Army bell-ringer's bucket.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Basement Waterproofing and Remodeling

Now that our DIY projects are closing the door on Fall and coming indoors for Winter, it's time to consider what to work on first. Have you thought about reclaiming that wasted basement space and turned it into something useful? Would you like to install a home theater? Family game room? The first thing to consider is basement waterproofing. Then, and only then, let the basement remodeling begin!

Fundamental Basement Waterproofing
Studies show that over 90% of basement leaks happen where the wall meets the floor. At least that bit of trivia tells you where to concentrate your focus. This is where hydrostatic pressure makes your basement the most vulnerable.

But the walls and the floor need to be completely cleaned first. This will reveal the problem spots. Use a quick-dry cement to patch cracks, holes and floor/wall joints. The next step is to apply a waterproofing coating system to prevent the passage of water under hydrostatic pressure.

Basement Remodeling Design Steps

  • Begin with a design plan for your basement remodel.
  • Consider installing a suspended acoustical ceiling. It's easier to install than drywall and you can use drop-in fluorescent light fixtures.
  • Plan for any plumbing. Will you install a wet bar? Incorporate a small bath?
  • Plan for electrical connections.
  • Decide where the home theater will be located. (Another good argument for the suspended acoustical ceiling.)

Frame the Basement Walls

  • First frame the exterior basement walls.
  • Frame any interior basement walls and doorways.
  • Be sure any plumbing and electrical runs are installed.
  • Hang the drywall.

The Finishing Touches

  • Paint the basement walls.
  • Install the flooring (laminate flooring, carpet, etc.)

You're done! Except for furniture and that big screen TV!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Install a Ceiling Fan for the Winter Weather

You're probably thinking, "What? I thought ceiling fans were for the warm weather." Well, you would be correct. But they're perhaps more important in cold weather. Want to know why? Read on. And, go here for detailed instructions on how to install a ceiling fan.

Most homes have the air registers from the ductwork above the ceiling. In the summertime, the air conditioned (cold) air is blown out of the registers and begins traveling down. Sure it is being blown, but do you remember the old lesson you learned in school?

That's right! Warm air rises and cooler air drops. Of course it tends to blend so the air conditioner works harder to keep the air about shoulder-high at the right temperature. (That's the level where your thermostat does its sensing job.)

Enter the ceiling fan. It blows the cool air down faster, giving it less time to absorb heat from the air traveling up!

So when the central heater is running, that warm air wants to stay at the ceiling. Now how hard does the heater have to work to make the hot air do what physics explicitly tells it not to do?

The answer? A ceiling fan with a reversible motor. That's right. In the winter, reverse the motor so that the air is forced to the ceiling, is pushed to the walls, down the walls to the floor where the updraft rises again. The heater has just had a load taken off it.

Fortunately, installing a ceiling fan is a good project for a DIY type of homeowner. The best brands? Look for a Hunter ceiling fan, Hampton Bay ceiling fan, Casablanca ceiling fan, Emerson ceiling fan, or a Harbor Breeze ceiling fan.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fall DIY Project - Laminate Flooring

Now that the days and evenings are finally getting cooler, the lawn has stopped growing. So what does that mean? Well, I can use all that lawn mowing and assorted yard work time for something else.

The first priority is to finish installing the laminate flooring in my house - a project that has dragged out far too long already. Actually, I was surprised at how easy laminate flooring is to install and maintain.

Compared to the traditional hardwood floors that I've installed and refinished in the past, installing laminate is easy and breezy. Of course some of it is a bit tedious; such as undercutting the door jambs and trim. I found through trial and error that a coping saw works best. I tried a hacksaw and dovetail saw but found the coping saw best due to the thin blade and diminutive teeth.

The other interesting thing was bringing the base boards home from Home Depot. They're about 18 feet long! What the heck do folks without pick up trucks do?

Anyway, I guess I'm just procrastinating. I'd better get to it...