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 →

Which Glazing Putty is Right For You?

Sarco Type-M Glazing Putty

There are a lot of options when it comes to finding the right window glazing putty for you. A lot depends on the type of window and where you will be doing your gazing (outside or in a shop). So, I’ve put together this list of my six favorite window putties to help you in your search. All of these putties will help you get the job done right, it just depends on your personal preferences and situation which will be […] Read on →

4 Reasons You Should Never Pressure Wash Your House

never pressure wash your house

Everybody pressure washes their house. But few people know that the way it’s usually done is NOT good for your house. You may just be going with the crowd, but in this case the crowd is wrong, and you’re likely causing big damage you have no idea about. Pressure washing is usually the first step in getting a new paint job so I see a lot of painters doing it and doing it wrong. It’s not just unknowing […] Read on →

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: 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 →

6 Things That Can Wrong: Your Bath Remodel

6 things that can go wrong with your bath remodel

Remodeling the bathroom in an old house is an experience that turns out to be more difficult than a lot people expect. It’s not as easy as the HGTV shows make you think and it certainly doesn’t take a quick weekend to do right. After doing my fair share of bathrooms I figured I’d give you my list of things that can go terribly wrong with your bath remodel that many people never think about until it’s too […] Read on →

How To: Prep Wood For Stain

how to prep wood for stain

Whether you’re refinishing your floors, making a table, cabinets or any other project that requires finishing it’s useful to learn how to apply stain properly and make your projects really shine. Applying stain is a pretty easy process that doesn’t need more than a couple sentences to explain (which I’ll go into at the end of the post), but how to properly prep wood for stain is a whole other thing. Certain woods like pine, maple and others […] Read on →

The Wood Filler & Epoxy Test (Year 1)


One of the most popular posts on my site for the last year or so has been The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood. With over 160 comments and well over 100,000 page views I took the hint that people want to know about wood filler and how to patch wood. So, 1 year ago I made a test board of some of my most used wood fillers and epoxies to see how they faired in the Florida climate. […] Read on →

PEX, CPVC or Copper Plumbing?


There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to plumbing today. Old houses can have tons of different types of pipes from remodels and repairs over the years. Sometimes these different generations of plumbing can get along together, but sometimes its like mixing vinegar and baking soda (aka things get messy!) Just like anything, your pipes have an expiration date and after 70, 80 or even 100 years your pipes may be on their last […] Read on →

How To: Glaze Wood Windows

Tool surface to a smooth 45° bevel

Continuing our focus on window restoration to mark the release of my new book Old Windows Made Easy I decided to post about putty glazing today. This skill is one of the most important and difficult to get right. Proper glazing makes for long lasting, well-sealed windows. The good news is it doesn’t need to be perfect, just done well enough so that it sheds water and seals the glass properly. The nice thing about putty glazing is […] Read on →

Vapor Barriers 101


When old houses were built there was no such thing as a vapor barrier. Sure there may have been felt paper or rosin paper installed under the hardwood floors or behind the siding but these pieces weren’t as much about vapor protection as they were about stopping rainwater. Improper use of vapor barriers is one of the leading causes of moisture-related issues like rot and mold in buildings today. Vapor barriers are designed to prevent wall assemblies from getting […] Read on →

4 Easy Ways to Weatherstrip Windows and Doors

spring bronze finished installation

While most of us love our original windows and doors nobody wants to be heating or cooling the neighborhood due to leaks and drafts. Before you break out the caulk gun and seal the windows shut permanently I want to tell you about several different options to weatherstrip windows and doors. These are all DIY friendly options that you can add to your own house. Some are quick, easy and inexpensive and others require more skill and money. […] Read on →

What is My Favorite Water-Based Paint?

favorite water based paint

This week’s Ask the Craftsman Question is a follow up to last week’s regarding oil-based paint choices. What is my favorite water-based paint? There are so many different applications that I use water-based paints for so picking an overall favorite is pretty much impossible. So, what I’ll do is give you a favorite in each different application. That’s being said there are a ton of excellent paints out there that I haven’t even tried so this isn’t based […] Read on →