How To: Insulate an Old House

how to insulate an old house

I get asked a lot about insulating old houses, especially in the wintertime. It makes sense. People fall in love with the character rich architecture of these homes, but they don’t want the crazy heating and cooling bills that come along with that character. Chances are good that if your house was built before the 1960’s there is little to no insulation. Before the energy crisis of the 1970’s energy was abundant and cheap in America and it [...] 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 →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] Read on →

My New eBook is Now Available!

Living in the Past Book

Today is a big day at The Craftsman Blog! For the past year and a half, I have been toiling to write my first full-length book about historic homes. Today that book goes from idea to reality! I’m doing a HUGE one week only sale for all my readers and their friends. If you have even a passing interest in saving thousands of dollars and learning all about your old house at the same time, you should definitely [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 1 Nails)

Choosing the right fastener

Choosing the right fastener for your home improvement project can be daunting. Should you use a screw or nail? How long does it need to be? Galvanized? Hardened? Brass? So many options means lots of ways to make a mistake. I’ll walk you through the most important points and help you make the right choice when it comes to your next project. There are countless specialty fasteners that will defy the details I’m going to talk about here. [...] Read on →

The Best Paint Stripping Tools

Silent Paint Remover

Being in the business of restoring old houses I do a lot of paint stripping. And much of that paint is lead paint so I have to be extra careful to make sure we keep our dust under control. Here are the best paint stripping tools I have used over the years. Some work better than others, and their performance often depends on the type and condition of the paint you are removing. All of these are the [...] Read on →

4 Common Paint Problems & How to Fix Them

Alligatoring Paint

If you own an old house you have paint problems…somewhere. It may be from a poor paint job at some point or a paint job that is just too old. Keeping your house painted properly, especially the exterior, is imperative to the long term care of your house. Exterior elements deteriorate quickly without a protective layer of quality paint. Here are the four most common paint problems that you may find around an old house and how to [...] Read on →

Transforming an Old Garage Into a Tiny House (Part 1)

Tiny House Garage

Tiny houses have recently become a huge grassroots movement focused on scaling back our cluttered lives and living more simply. Quality over quantity is the theme of the movement, and I’m a big proponent of that. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share an exciting project we’ve just finished here in Orlando. I’ll walk you through the whole process of turning an old garage into your very own tiny house. We’ll talk about the nuts and [...] Read on →

Dismantling History

Photo by Scott Sidler

Last week I helped my friends at Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques with the salvage of four early 20th century homes on the banks of Lake Eola here in Orlando, FL. We were busy removing any parts of the home that may be of some value to someone in the future. Old wood windows were removed and sold off to a house in Daytona Beach. Heart-pine flooring was pulled and cleaned before being delivered to a home somewhere in [...] Read on →

Pressure Washing an Old Home

How to Pressure Wash Wood Siding

Using a pressure washer on an old home is not as simple as you might think. While it may be a great way to clean dirty siding and prep for new paint, if not done properly it can cause more harm than good. You can cause damage to wood or older soft masonry and force water into the structure of your old house. So to help you prevent this, I put together a quick primer on using a [...] Read on →

Tips For Historic Home Owners {#13 Keep Period Details}

Historic Home Tips

When it comes to your old home’s exterior nothing is as important as the details. Fish-scale shingles, jigsaw cut balustrades, creative cornices. There are so many things that make your old house unique. And saving them or replicating the missing pieces distinguishes your historic home from its neighbors. If you own a crumbling Victorian or an aging Craftsman what better way to increase not only your own enjoyment of your home but also its value than the restore [...] Read on →

My 5 Secrets to Prevent Wood Rot

Rotted-Wood-Soffit

Learning how to repair wood rot is a part of life when it comes to life in an old house. But what if you could prevent it? Working in a wet climate, like Florida, I have assembled a very specific routine to prevent wood rot on anything I build that will be outdoors. The expense of PVC, fiber cement and other “rot-proof” products aren’t necessary if you build things the time tested right way. If you want to [...] Read on →

Tips for Historic Homeowners {#5 Start Outside}

Historic Home Tips

So many folks go a little crazy with the seemingly endless list of repairs they inherit with their first old house. It can be overwhelming. There is too much to do and too little money and time that they freeze up and don’t do anything! Well, don’t become one of those people. There is a definite place to start and that place is outside. You should always start any restoration project on the outside of the house. Is [...] Read on →

How To Paint Your Historic House…Properly

Old Window and Siding

In Choosing Exterior Paint Colors For Your Historic House we discussed how to go about picking the right colors for an historic home. Will you choose colors that are historically accurate to your home, historically appropriate for the time period your home was built or will you just wing it and pick your own color palette? So, now that you’ve picked your colors and are ready to go, what’s next? The folks at Historic Shed covered that as [...] Read on →