Labor Day, Laboring day?

labor day

Today I’m going to teach you something very important! Even old house owners need to take a day off from scraping, sanding and painting. Sometimes it feels like lather, rinse, repeat with an old house. Break out of the cycle and take the day off! Labor day may be your last chance to enjoy the beach before fall shows up. Have a BBQ, read a book (maybe my book!). Whatever it is take the day to spend time doing [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: How to Fix Sagging Beadboard Ceiling

beadboard ceiling

This week’s question comes from Chris: “I have original beadboard on my porch ceiling and it’s sagging in some areas.  What is the best way to repair?” Chris, beadboard is one of the most common materials used for porch ceilings and eaves in old houses. Its tongue & groove design allows it to hold tightly together and keep bugs and the elements out. There are a couple things that might be causing the problem and the solutions for [...] Read on →

How To: Test for Lead Paint

how to test for lead paint

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about lead paint so I wanted to try to address some of those questions to make folks feel a little safer in their old homes. If you live in a house built before 1978 you need to know how to test for lead paint, especially if you have littles ones. Lead is toxic to humans. Children under 6 are especially vulnerable to it since their bodies absorb lead at a 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 →

Ask The Craftsman: Can I Reglaze Windows Without Removing the Glass?

reglaze windows

This week’s question comes from Amy. “Can I reglaze the outside [of my windows] without removing the panes and replacing the interior seating portion?”   Absolutely! When you reglaze windows it’s not always necessary to replace the glazing “bed” which is the putty that the pane rests on in the glazing rabbet. Replacing the bedding putty is beneficial though since it will help air seal the glass and also help to keep interior condensation from getting at the [...] Read on →

Empty Stairs, Missing History

Empty stairs

All around my town there are remnants of our history hiding in broad daylight. Hints of the past that are overlooked by almost all of us. Too small to be of much consequence anymore they are simply place markers to say that there once was something here. Something grand or something plain. Something we erased from our town’s memory. Stairways that lead to empty lots. Driveways to nowhere. Old addresses stamped on curbs. They evoke both a sadness [...] Read on →

3 Reasons I Chose Indow Windows (and so should you!)

Indow Windows

You know that I’m not a big promoter of new products here, but every once in a while someone comes up with a product or technique that makes it easier and cheaper to save old houses. And when that happens I am all over it like white on rice! My company has recently become a dealer for Indow Windows. Why? Because they work! I have them in my own home and it is truly incredible how much of [...] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: What’s the Best Finish For Wood Floors?

best finish for wood floors

Don’t forget that if your question is selected for our Ask The Craftsman posts you’ll get a free copy of my eBook Living in the Past! (Now available on iTunes and in paperback & kindle on Amazon) We’ve got another great question this week from Richard in Pompano Beach, FL “What’s the best finish for the wood floors on my 1924 Bungalow?” Richard, the gold standard for refinishing wood floors today is 3 coats of oil-based polyurethane. It [...] Read on →

Replacement Windows: The Real Story

Replacement windows

If you own an old house you are the prime demographic for the replacement windows industry. They would love to convince you to remove all your home’s original windows and replace them with new energy efficient windows. I can hear them beginning to salivate right now. (I have excellent hearing) The replacement windows industry is out to sell a product and sell it often. I won’t hide my bias here. I am not a fan of replacement windows. [...] Read on →

The Bungalow: America’s Home

Bungalow

Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles [...] Read on →

How To: Find the Best Paint Brush

Paint brush

There are so many different types of paint brushes out there today. So, how do you know which one you need for your project? Should you buy a bunch of different brushes specific to each use or maybe just one all-around brush? What about cost? I’ve got so many bite marks on my tongue (biting my tongue to avoid piping up) from watching homeowners pick out the wrong paint brush. They just don’t know. But not anymore (at [...] Read on →

Where to Find Vintage Hardware

Copyright: kiya / 123RF Stock Photo

Vintage hardware is awesome. I could probably try to find more creative ways to say that, but I figured simpler is better. The bottom line is that vintage hardware, whether it is actually vintage or a well made replica, is a solidly constructed, beautiful piece of an old house. Vintage hardware has weight and significance to it. Cheap replicas, and run of the mill hardware today feel cheap and weak and they are. Many are made from plastic [...] Read on →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] Read on →

Rotted Wood Repair with Abatron Epoxy

How to repair rotted wood

You live in an old house? Good! Then you have rotted wood and know the frustration and worries it can cause. When a tree is still alive water is its best friend, but after we turn that tree into lumber, water is the last thing it needs. There are lots of products on the market today to patch wood. I listed some of my absolute favorites in this post here: The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood But [...] Read on →