How To: Turn an Attic Into a Bedroom

how to turn an attic into a bedroom

An attic is often the easiest place to add onto your house. No foundations or setbacks to worry about. Everything is already in place you just have to transform an empty space into your vision. Create an extra bedroom, a master suite, a media room, a play room or anything you can imagine for much less than the cost of an addition. My own old house was blessed with an unfinished attic when we bought it, and I […] Read on →

How To: Work With Spiral Balances

Spiral Balances

While most of the windows on historic buildings built before WWII used the simple and effective rope and pulley counterweight system there are some that utilize different balances systems. A popular option were spiral balances, sometimes called a tube balance, and that’s what we’ll talk about today. These balances are not terribly complicated, but they can be troublesome to work with if you’re not familiar with them. I’ll be speaking specifically about one of the more common types […] Read on →

How To: Make an Old Brush New Again

How-to-Make-and-Old-Brush-New-Again

Like anything paint brushes have a lifespan, but most people treat their brushes so roughly that they die long before they should. A good paint brush should last you years or even decades if cared for properly. After a lot of use, and maybe not the best cleaning, paint brushes get paint stuck in the bristles and up into the ferrule (the metal base) which can make it extremely stiff. Eventually the brush is not good for painting […] Read on →

How To: Stop Rust For Good

how-to-deal-with-rust

It’s a sad but unfortunate fact of life that metal rusts. Sometimes rust is called patina like when copper turns green after decades of exposure, but for most of us it’s just plain rust and we hate it. Sure there are some times where choosing the right fastener has a lot to do about whether you have rust or not, but sometimes you’re stuck with what you’ve got or you want to restore some gorgeous old hardware to […] Read on →

How To: Glaze Windows

how-to-glaze-windows

Some of the most commonly asked questions I get are about how to glaze windows. What’s the best practices? What tips and tricks have I learned over the years? Basically, it’s a lot of folks wondering how to do it the right way. I’ll start with saying this…it’s not complicated to glaze a window, but it’s not easy the first time. It is something that most people have never heard of. Putting putty on a window and tooling […] Read on →

How To: Cut Window Weight Access Doors

How to cut weight pocket doors

Sometimes builders installed their old wood windows without weight pocket access doors to save a couple bucks. While it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, it creates a whole lot of work for us today when a sash rope breaks. Rather than being stuck with the typical alternative of removing the window trim and leaving yourself with a lot of plaster repair here is an easier way to fix the problem for good. In this […] Read on →

How To: Patch Plaster

How to patch plaster

I’ve written about repairing plaster walls before, but sometimes there are sections of plaster that have been removed or are missing and you need to fill in the gaps. I’ll show you how to easily fill in these missing sections. This repair also works on drywall for all you new house folks too. When you have an area (large or small) where you’re missing plaster, whether it’s thanks to the electrician/plumber/HVAC guy or the plaster was damaged some […] Read on →

BoraCare: Stop Termites & Rot Forever

boracare

You may not have heard of a product called BoraCare, but if you have a wood house it’s something you should know about. The biggest threats to wood are inevitably rot and insect damage. Other than these two issues good quality old-growth wood can last almost indefinitely. But if you fall victim to termites, rot or both then it may be only months before you need repairs. BoraCare is a wood treatment that I use in my shop […] Read on →

How To: Fix Ungrounded Outlets

how to fix ungrounded outlets

A common problem found in old houses is the presence of ungrounded outlets. Either you’re stuck with old fashioned 2-prong outlets that won’t fit your 3-prong devices or someone replaced the old outlets with 3-pronged outlets that don’t have a ground wire. The 3-pronged outlets are often a sheep in wolf’s clothing since they look like modern outlets but don’t have any of the protections. Important Disclaimer: While I am a licensed contractor, I AM NOT a licensed […] Read on →

How To: Install Indow Windows (in only 5 minutes!)

how to install indow windows

If you haven’t heard of Indow Windows and you own and old house you are missing out. A couple years ago I bought some of these for my own house and was so impressed that I decided to become their Central Florida area dealer. Just like any products I mention on this site I have used them personally and think they can be a great help to folks just like you. I hate how replacement window companies all over […] Read on →

How To: Start Your Own DIY Blog

how to start your own DIY Blog

This is a little bit different than my usual How-To posts but I think it’s just as important. If you’re like most of my readers you live in an old house which means you have stories. You fix things and they break again, you learn how to fix them better and then you move on to the next project. Most old houses owners are some of the most experienced DIYers on the planet because they are constantly fixing […] Read on →

How To: Stop Peeling Paint on Windows

how-to-stop-peeling-paint-on-windows

Peeling paint is never a good thing, and in an old house one of the most typical places you’ll find peeling paint is on your windows. But if you knew what caused this incessant peeling you could stop it in its tracks. That’s what I’ll help you do today! The picture above is from a recent project my company is working on in Apalachicola, FL, but it’s an all too familiar scene with peeling paint along the glass […] Read on →

How To: Tell If You Have a Balloon Frame House

how to tell if you have a balloon frame house

I’ve written about the differences between timber frame, balloon frame and platform frame houses in an earlier post you can read here, but I constantly get questions about how to tell if your house has balloon framing. Why do people want to know? Well, of the three types of framing balloon frame houses have the greatest danger of catastrophic fires. To be clear there is nothing intrinsically more flammable about a balloon frame house. It wasn’t built with […] Read on →

How To: Keep Critters Out of Your Crawlspace

how-to-keep-critters-out-of-your-crawlspace

Do you know who lives underneath your house? Do you want to know? Old houses are often home to a lot of unwanted visitors in the crawlspace and these unwanted pests can cause major damage to things like ductwork, electrical and plumbing. You need to find an attractive way to keep them out. And just for fun I’m going to see how many synonyms I can come up with for “critters” (that’s 1).   Old houses were often […] Read on →