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Oil vs Latex: Which Paint is Best?

oil vs latex which paint is best

“Should I use oil or latex paint?” It’s a question I get asked a lot. Oil vs latex, the two paints are very different and each has their strengths and weaknesses. In this post I’ll try to help you figure out when and where each type of paint will excel so you can make the right decision for your project. The landscape of painting has been changing quickly since the introduction of latex paint by Sherwin Williams in 1941. […] Read on →

The Real Economics of Preservation

The Real Economics of Preservation

I get lots of questions about the economics of preservation. What’s real and what’s white noise. While I’m not an economist or even remotely math-centric a big reason why I do what I do is because of the economic reality that historic preservation is good for our communities. Historic preservation improves property values, helps with density, is beneficial to the environment, as well as a myriad of other benefits to both residents and local governments. I’m going to throw […] Read on →

Is Vinyl Ever a Good Idea?

is vinyl ever a good idea

Vinyl is everywhere these days and in many different forms when it comes to construction. Replacement windows, siding, gutters, flooring, trim, soffits, it’s everywhere! The vinyl industry will tell you this is a good thing. After all, vinyl products are relatively inexpensive and maintenance free. Isn’t that what we all want these days?   Maybe so but at what cost? In the race to the bottom vinyl has taken over huge swaths of the building industry and it […] Read on →

Bring Back the Front Porch

bring back the front porch

I think it’s time we brought back the front porch. For too long our garages have been growing while our porches have been shrinking. We insulate ourselves and our homes to keep the outside world out and the inside world in and we become more reclusive and less social in the process. Even going back as late as the 70s and 80s in my childhood we would play outside with the neighborhood kids until the sun went down. […] Read on →

Preservation Month: One Month to Save America

Preservation Month

May is Historic Preservation month in America so it’s time for us preservationists to fly our freak flag. It’s true that Historic Preservation Month has to share the spotlight with National Barbecue Month and Lumpy Rug Day (May 3rd), but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part too. Why does historic preservation need a month? It’s simple, we’ve already lost too many of our nation’s architectural treasures, and one month a year to remind us of why […] Read on →

No Joanna, That’s Not Shiplap

What is Shiplap

My wife and I like most all old home owners are fans of a lot of the restoration themed DIY shows these days. Rehab Addict, Barnyard Builders, American Pickers and of course Fixer Upper. Their designs and passion to keep original elements of old houses is so rare in the renovation game that I can’t help but root for them to succeed. One of my favorite shows is definitely Fixer Upper. Partly because I’m from Texas and partly […] Read on →

1st Annual Sash Revival

sash revival 2016

May is National Preservation Month and there are all kinds of events planned around the country to raise awareness about historic preservation. The Window Preservation Alliance (WPA) decided to get in on the act too! Throughout May our members nationwide will be hosting free local workshops on restoring wood windows. We’re calling these events Sash Revivals because we’re hoping that is just one month we can revive hundreds if not thousands of window sash. Here’s your chance to […] Read on →

How To: Diagnose Common Plaster Problems

How To Diagnose Common Plaster Problems

After a century or so plaster walls and ceilings can develop a variety of problems from neglect or abuse. Your plaster can tell you a ton about issues that may be developing around your house if you know how to listen to what it is saying. In this post I’ll show you how to diagnose the most common plaster problems and what they mean. Plaster is often like the canary in the coal mine. If there is a […] Read on →

Plaster vs Stucco: What’s the Difference?

plaster vs stucco

A lot of folks confuse plaster and stucco in old houses. While they are similar in a lot of ways they are different enough that understanding when and where to use them, especially in renovations, is imperative. Their differences are not readily apparent to the naked eye. Plaster and stucco can both be applied much the same way with the same textures and thicknesses, but the main ingredients in each are what make them different animals. Today’s post […] Read on →

How To: Fix Chipped Paint

Chipped Paint

When you have dozens of coats of paint on trim and woodwork touching up paint is not always as simple as grabbing a brush and going to town. When old paint chips off your likely left with a crater in the surface. The layers of paint that have built up over the years have made the surface thicker than it originally was and when the paint chips you are left with what looks like pock marks. So whow […] Read on →

6 Myths About Old Windows

6 myths about old windows

Lie, lies abound when it comes to old windows. Window companies proclaim how their replacement windows will do everything from curing cancer to saving the whales (hyperbole intended!). How can you tell if a window salesman is lying? His lips are moving. There isn’t a single part of an old house that is in nearly as much danger of disappearing as old windows. We’ve been made to believe that they are wasteful, energy hogging, lead encrusted death traps […] Read on →

New Energy Efficiency Tax Credit!

energy efficiency tax credit

Rarely is there a week that I can write something about breaking news in the arena of historic preservation, but this is one of those weeks. Congress has done something helpful for us homeowners (amazing, I know!) They have renewed an expired tax credit for energy efficient upgrades made to your home through the end of 2016 (also retroactive for improvements in 2015). You may be asking what qualifies and how much can I get? Well, there are […] Read on →

Easy Fixes For an Energy Efficient Home

energy efficient home

Let’s face it, your home’s utility bills never seem to go anywhere but up. The electric companies steadily raise rates even if the cost of fuels like coal, oil, nuclear, solar, or wind go down. It’s like the third thing you can never avoid. Death, taxes and higher utility bills. There is some good news though. The cost per kW hour may continue to go up but that doesn’t mean the bill itself has to go up. By […] Read on →

How To: Hang Things on Plaster Walls

how to hang things on plaster walls

Most of the handy devices for hanging things on our walls were designed for drywall not plaster. Everything from how to find a stud in plaster walls to what type of fasteners your should use is different. Everyone wants to decorate their walls so learning how to hang things on plaster walls is important for every homeowner to learn. It’s important not just to make the decorating process simpler but to also avoid costly damage.   What’s the Real Difference […] Read on →