What Causes Wood Rot?

what causes wood rot

Anyone who has owned an old house for more than a couple months will tell that wood rot is a major frustration. In this post I’ll show you what causes wood rot and how to stop it. Wood is an amazingly versatile building material. It can molded and shaped to almost any form. It is an excellent insulator. Its structurally abilities are incredible. Its ability to accept paint, stains and varnishes is fantastic. Its one weakness is rot. […] Read on →

Brushing vs. Spraying Paint: Which is Best?

Brushing vs. Spraying Paint

I get asked a lot why we don’t spray our primer on window sashes. Just the other day one of my employees asked the question, hoping they had thought of something that might make our jobs easier and the work move faster. While spraying on paint and primer is much faster the gains in speed come at a cost. In this post I want to look at some of the pros and cons of both so you can make an […] Read on →

Veneer Plaster: An Affordable Alternative

Veneer Plaster

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Phil. “To repair a damaged wall [drywall] seems so out of place, but hiring a plasterer to do lath and plaster is way too high a cost.  Is there an in-between solution?” There definitely is an in-between solution Phil and it’s called veneer plaster. A veneer plaster wall is like a hybrid of standard drywall and traditional lath and 3-coat plaster. It also hits the middle ground in terms of pricing. […] Read on →

What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Windows

what-star-trek-can-teach-us-about-windows

Windows are a lot like Star Trek. Got your attention didn’t I? But seriously, come with me on this. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock there is a brilliant line by the head engineer Mr. Scott (who has an awesome name). When asked how Scotty figured out a way to disable the ship that was pursuing them he responds with simple brilliance. “Aye sir. The more they overthink the plumping the easier it is to stop […] Read on →

Why Are There Double-Hung Windows?

double hung window

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Jeremy. “Why on earth are there DOUBLE hung windows? Everyone just raises the lower sash, but I have a hunch that there may be a reason.” Jeremy, great question and there is most definitely a reason! A single-hung window is one where the top sash is fixed and only the bottom sash will move up and down. While there are many of these around there are more double-hung windows in […] Read on →

The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Greenest Building

“The greenest building is the one that is already built.” Architect Carl Elefante who is the Director of Sustainable Design at Qunin Evans Architects in Washington, D.C. said it very succinctly. Eco-nerds talk about sustainability and energy-efficient design as much as us preservation-nerds talk about wood windows and plaster. But isn’t it amazing when two worlds that have little to do with each other normally can come together and fight side by side on an issue. Historic preservation is just […] Read on →

How To: Lead Safe Work Practices

lead safe

Last week I talked about how to properly test for lead paint. While testing for lead paint is an important start, simply knowing if there is lead or not won’t do much to protect you. You need to know how to safely renovate in a house with lead paint. I’ll cover important principles of dust control and clean up and of course give you some tips I’ve learned along the way to make the whole process much less […] Read on →

3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Remodel

stressfreeremodel

Some renovations drag on and on and on with no end in sight. Delays, revisions, inspections they all conspire to make your project feel like it will never end. Or maybe you can’t get your project off the ground. You’ve been planning that bathroom remodel for 5 years, but you’re still not ready to start? Something is wrong! I’m going to share my 3 secrets to a stress-free remodel with you to help you either get started or […] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: Wood Shingle Roofs Gone Forever?

Wood shingles

This week’s question comes from Jeremy in Tampa, FL. “Why does no one use legitimate cedar or wood shake shingles anymore?…didn’t some of the older houses begin that way?” Good question Jeremy! I love the look of wood shingle roofs and despite what a lot of folks might think wood shingle roofs can last just as long, if not longer, than asphalt shingles. Shakes are hand-split shingles and regular shingles are saw-cut. Shakes are generally thicker and much […] Read on →

The Oldest City in America

Oldest School in America

Recently, my wife and I went on vacation to the oldest city in America. Luckily, I have a wife who loves old buildings (almost) as much as I do! I wanted to share some of the history and pictures with you since it truly was an incredible experience. What is the oldest city in America, you ask? Surely, it has to be in New England near the oldest house in America somewhere around Plymouth rock where the Pilgrims […] Read on →

What to Do About Asbestos?

Asbestos

Asbestos is that persnickety little thing that can be hiding anywhere in an old house. From siding to plaster, vinyl floor tiles to insulation it can be almost anywhere. What makes matters worse is there is no simple way for the average homeowner to determine if they have asbestos in their house. You can’t tell by looking at a material if it contains asbestos. You can’t tell by smelling, feeling or even tasting (would you really want to […] Read on →

My 8 Absolutely Essential Tools

8 essential tools

For this week I had a completely different post in mind and my wife completely changed my mind with the most wonderful surprise. You see, yesterday was my birthday! And aside from getting to spend the day with my amazing family AND getting my choice of any meal under the sun (I chose Ahi Poke) my wife surprised me with a new tool belt. This isn’t just any old tool belt. It is an Occidental Leather 5191 Carpenter’s […] Read on →

What is a Rumford Fireplace? (and why it’s better than your fireplace)

rumford fireplace

Fireplaces have been around since the dawn of housing in one shape or another. For hundreds of years fire was the only way to heat buildings and with indoor fires you need a fireplace. It wasn’t until 1795 that the fireplace was finally perfected by a brilliant American named Benjamin Thompson “Count Rumford.” His work instantaneously revolutionized fireplace and chimney construction. Strangely, most people today have never heard of Count Rumford even though most fireplaces built between 1796 […] Read on →

How To Restore Steel Windows

Historic Steel Window

Historic steel windows are all across America. They became popular in big cities to combat the fires that were so common around the turn of the 20th century. Then from the 1930s until the 1950s they were a popular choice in residential housing due to the decreasing availability of quality lumber. Many steel windows sit and deteriorate across the country. While much attention has been paid to restoring traditional wood windows by preservationists, historic steel windows have fallen […] Read on →