Here are enough home maintenance tips to fill a toolbox

  • Wednesday, June 9, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

Although our column usually tackles a specific project or subject, this week we’re sharing some useful tips with you.

Deck safety check

Recent deck collapses you might have read about underscore the need for proper construction and periodic deck safety checks. Despite good plans, building permits, inspections and building codes, as decks age they can become unsafe. Boards rot, insects destroy wood integrity, and fasteners and railings consequently loosen. The result: a weakened structure. The bigger and higher (and older) the deck, porch or balcony, the greater is the need for doing things right and for frequent checkups.

Drilling ceramic tile

If you’re installing a towel bar, shelf or paper holder, drill straight and true – and prevent drill-tip slip and slide. Here’s how: Make an “X” by placing two strips of masking tape over your mark. Then drill through it, using a carbide tip bit.

The tape will keep the bit from traveling as it grinds through the surface glazing and on, into and through the softer ceramic back. Ease up toward the end to avoid pushing out the backside of the drywall or backer board.

The cleaner the hole, both through the tile and inside the wall, the better hollow-wall fasteners will grip and hold.

Prep for concrete painting

Whether you’re adding a touch of color on a concrete bench or table – or painting an entire garage or basement floor – here’s a preparation that retards – if not eliminates – peeling. Wash first with warm water, rinse and let dry thoroughly, at least a day. Then, using a clean paintbrush, apply a generous coat of white vinegar as a pre-paint primer.

Once dry, it will increase the bond, and paints will hold and last much longer. White vinegar pre-wash works well on metal, wood and plastic surfaces, too.

Candle wax on carpets

One of the toughest carpet cleanups is melted candle wax. Cover drips with a brown paper grocery bag and gently run a warm iron over the spot. Start with a low temperature, and keep checking and increasing the temperature as you go. The heat will liquefy the wax and the paper bag will absorb it.

Keep checking and repositioning the bag until all wax is absorbed. Caution: too much heat can damage your carpet. Start low and increase heat gradually.

Hollow-wall stud helpers

When you open a wall or build new – and have exposed framing – take time to think ahead concerning things you might want to install in the future. Atop windows, add extra lumber nailed flush between the studs just below the top plate at each end of the header.

Later on, you’ll have solid backing for any curtains, valences and accessories you want to install. Add backup blocking anywhere you might need extra support later on (for grab bars, shelves or wall-mounted accessories). Not building or opening up a wall? Add strength and support with surface-mounted half-inch-plus lumber.

For a spiffier look, use a prefab shelf instead with plastic laminate on all six sides and matching snap-in screw head covers.

Rug corners that curl

Got rug corners that won’t stay put and curl and lift up? All you need is a piece of peel-and-stick floor tile a foot square, at least. With a pair of scissors or a utility knife, trim off each of the corners to form four large triangles. Then peel the backing and stick each one to the underside of the rug, where corners are curling.

The tile will straighten the unsightly curl and the extra weight will help keep them flat and in place.

Barbecue tune-up

Ready for summer cookouts, but your grill isn’t? Here’s a quick refresher course: Wrap grill racks loaded with crusty barbecue sauce with aluminum foil (all around with the shiny side in), close the lid and cook on high for 15 minutes. If the lava rocks below are grease-laden, don’t replace them. Just turn them over and “cook” them as well. Later, grill racks can be rinsed and brushed to look like new, and grease will have cooked right out of the lava rocks. Spray high-heat glass windows with glass cleaner, and dab some fine gray fireplace ash on a dampened soft cloth. Rub, and the ash will permeate the microscopic pores and reduce surface tension, making cleaning easier. Oven cleaner adds horsepower, too.

Dramatic deck illumination

The clever use of rope lights and cable illumination systems turns average decks into stunning showplace settings. These lights, contained in flexible clear tubing, can be bent, curved or added onto. The low-voltage mini-bulbs can be clear or one of a myriad of dazzling colors. Rope and cable lighting throws soft indirect long runs of light on or around almost anything. Used under hand railings, on stairs and to outline decks, it adds shimmering pizazz to starry summer nights.

Readers can mail questions to On the House, APNewsFeatures, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020, or e-mail Careybro@onthehouse.com. For more home improvement tips and information, visit the Web site at www.onthehouse.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Carrie Compton clips leaves from the plants for sale at Houseplants Galore on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The great indoors: Houseplants to bring in a touch of spring

At Houseplants Galore in Everett, discover rare and beautiful plant specimens grown with care.

Cameron Hewitt
Switzerland's Lauterbrunnen Valley looks pastoral but it hides a powerful dose of natural wonder.
Rick Steves’ Europe: In the Swiss Alps, the laws of nature rule

The travel guru learned to respect the power of nature in the shadow of Switzerland’s towering Jungfrau.

Inside Elle Marie Hair Studio in Smokey Point. (Provided by Acacia Delzer)
The best hair salon in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied. Here are the results.

For more than a thousand years, Czech leaders – from kings and emperors to Nazis, communists, and presidents – have ruled from Prague Castle, regally perched on a hill above the Vltava River. Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli
Rick Steves’ Europe: History lives in Prague and its hilltop castle

It’s one of Europe’s best-preserved cities, having been spared from last century’s bombs.

Alarm clock in the middle of the night insomnia or dreaming
Trouble sleeping? Try these tips for getting a good night’s rest

Many adults turn to sleep aids, including alcohol, to help them rest, without realizing that their hectic lifestyles may be contributing to their sleeplessness.

The Stumbling Fiddler Band is scheduled to perform March 3 in Everett. (Photo provided by Port Gardner Bay Music Society)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day with music by the Stumbling Fiddler Band in Everett.

I was charged an extra $250 for a mistaken car rental upgrade

When Leah Page picks up her rental car from Thrifty, it charges her a $250 upgrade fee. Can it do this without her permission, and how can she get a refund?

Naomi Jacobson as Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer in "Becoming Dr. Ruth" at Village Theatre in Everett. (Auston James)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

“Becoming Dr. Ruth,” which tells the sex therapist’s amazing back story, is now showing at Village Theatre in Everett.

Over 200 years, the magic lantern transformed into an educational peacock

Regarded as magic in the 1650s, this device was refined into the more scientific sounding sciopticon by the mid-1800s.

Market for sale plants. Many plants in pots
Snohomish Garden Club plans annual plant sale

The event is scheduled for April 27 at Swan’s Trail Farms. Proceeds will go to scholarships.

Start planting now so you can stop to smell your own roses all summer long

Late winter to early spring is perfect for planting roses. And with so many varieties to consider, there’s no time to waste.

The 2024 Mazda3 hatchback. (Mazda)
2024 Mazda3 adds a Carbon Turbo trim and more safety features

The charismatic compact is available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.