How To: Repoint Historic Mortar

how to repoint historic mortar

Learning how to repoint historic mortar is an important part of maintaining any masonry structure. Whether it’s built with brick, stone, or block any historic masonry building with lime mortar will need some amount of repointing during its life. When repointing it’s also important to understand the differences between lime mortars and portland cement mortars because they are very different and cannot be used interchangeably. In this post I’ll walk you through a brief history of the different types […] Read on →

10 Easy Ways to Winterize Your House

winterize your house

It’s getting late in the fall and you haven’t gotten your home ready for the winter? Well, it’s not too late to winterize your house and you don’t have to spend a ton either. In just one weekend you can finish all 10 of these items and have an average sized house sealed up and ready for the winter. Make winterizing your house an annual traditional like decorating for Halloween or Christmas (though not quite as fun) and […] Read on →

Hurricane Preparedness For Old Houses

hurricane preparedness for old houses

Hurricane preparedness is no joke here in hurricane country. Having just finished the storm clean up from Hurricane Matthew here in Orlando my mind can’t help but focus on ways to keep us all safer. We dodged a bullet in Central Florida, but the coast and islands like the Bahamas and Haiti were not so fortunate. There isn’t much you can do to a building to help it survive a direct hit from a Category 4 or 5 […] Read on →

How To: Revive Old Wood w/ Boiled Linseed Oil

how to revive old wood with boiled linseed oil

Wood is an extraordinary building material that can last hundreds of years, especially old-growth wood, when given a little care. Just like any material when exposed to the elements it can slowly degrade. But you can bring old wood back to life by using boiled linseed oil and prepare it for a few more decades of service life. Don’t let grey, weathered wood convince you to replace it when all it needs is a little TLC. Other than […] Read on →

Protecting Your House From Your Landscaping

landscaping ivy on brick

Landscaping makes the outside of your house beautiful. It can add so much to the appearance and curb appeal, but it also comes with some potential hazards if you’re not careful. Here’s some good tips to keep your landscaping from taking over your house and ruining all your hard work.   Trim Back Trees Big shade trees are a great thing to keep your house cool in the summer. In first rung neighborhoods there are a ton of […] 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

Deciphering the Sandpaper Puzzle


Sandpaper is an integral part of any almost every kind of home repair, especially finish work. Painting, carpentry, refinishing, flooring, woodworking. They all require sanding at some point in the process so it’s imperative to know what you’re doing. There are a least 1,387,902 different types of sandpaper (that may be a guess, but there are a lot!) There are grits as low as 8-grit (which is essentially a few rocks glued onto paper backing all the way […] Read on →

How To: Pick the Right Caulk

how to pick the right caulk

Caulk is often a way overused item in old houses, but abuse doesn’t rule out proper use. And proper use of the right caulk can literally save your old house from big damage. In this post I’ll not only show you how to pick the right caulk for the job but also give you some caulking tips to help you know when, where and how to use that caulk.     The Wrong Way to Use Caulk The […] Read on →

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 →