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Home Improvement 1-2-3 Book Information and Review



  • Hardcover - 479 pages

  • ISBN 0-696-20168-2

  • ISBN 0696201682

  • Text Copyright 1995


  • Visit our Home Improvement page for more information on home repairs and home improvement projects.
    The Home Improvement 1-2-3 book was extremely helpful for my wife and I when we bought our house. Our house was built in 1949 and it needed some tender loving care before we could move in. The book was outstanding because it explained complex projects in plain english. There were a few issues like pictures being mislabeled on page 410 but all in all the book was very accurate.

    The painting section of the book provides some good tips. Having worked one summer as a painter, I have some experience in that area. The authors point out that painting in the shade is good for two reasons. The first reason is that it is easier on you and the second reason is that it keeps the paint from drying too quickly which can lead to blistering. Most painters know that one should choose a color slightly lighter than what it looks like on a swab. The book expresses this point nicely. "Before choosing a strong, bold color for your walls, consider going one or two shades lighter. Because walls are much larger than a paint swatch, you will find the color selected seems to darken and intensify as you spread it over the area. If you select a color that's too strong, you may end up with more color than you really wanted." [26] Another fact that experienced painters know is that individual buckets of paint have slight variations even when they came from the batch. Once again, the book phrases this concept well. "If using multiple containers of paint, "box" the paint before you apply it to the house. This entails pouring the paint from several containers together in order to blend the paint and even out the slight color variations between different paint batches. Mix by pouring from one five-gallon bucket to another." [29] The book has some nice interior painting tips that I used while painting the back room of our house. "When you are painting an entire room, the ceiling is the first area to be painted. Plan your painting process so you will be facing the light as you work. This way it will be easier to see areas that were missed or just slightly covered. Working in natural light, whenever possible, also makes it easier to spot those areas." [30] I used another tip in the book to avoid leaving start lines when painting and applying finish to our wood floors. "Start each stroke to the right by feathering the brush or roller. Feathering means placing the surface of the brush or roller against the siding gradually, instead of abruptly. This eliminates a definite start line and makes it easier to blend the next block of strokes into the present block. Blend the two strokes together where they meet in front of you. Work quickly, it is important to blend the new stroke into the completed stroke while the paint is still wet to avoid lap marks. Never stop in the middle of a section. Paint to the corner of the house so the paint color is consistent. [35] It is important to remove nails, screws and other objects before painting. "Remove all nails, screws, picture hangers, and other hardware from the surfaces to be painted. To prevent damage to the plaster or wallboard, use a block of wood or broadknife under the head of the hammer." [46] When I applied the polyurethane finish to our hardwood floors I was careful to avoid making bubbles after reading Homer's Hindsight, "I wanted a perfectly smooth finish for my project so I made extra certain my polyurethane was mixed well by shaking it vigorously. What a mistake! I wound up with a polyurethane finish with hundreds of tiny bubbles. Now I know that you should never shake polyurethane. It's very important to mix it well, but you should stir it gently-or your bath won't be the only place where you'll wind up with bubbles." [59] I've found that one of the easiest ways to make paint look good is to apply a second coat. The timing of the second coat is something that has to be learned with experience. Depending on the situation, the first coat should be partly or fully dry before applying the second coat. The second coat often hides any imperfections from the first coat.

    Our bathtub/shower had issues when we purchased our house. The tub had two noticable rust spots. The tiles were old and the color of the tiles was an outdated shade of pink. After reading the Home Improvement 1-2-3 book, we thought twice before replacing the tub. "If nobody has mentioned it yet, here it is in black and white: removing a bathtub is a big deal." [126] We decided to have someone look at the tub to see if it could be glazed instead of having to be replaced. Sure enough, it was glazed beautifully such that the rust spots were gone and the tiles looked like brand new white tiles.

    The back room of our house had over 20 nails and screws in the walls that had to be removed. Not all the holes were clean, some of them had to be repaired. Fortunately, the Home Improvement 1-2-3 book has some great advice for repairing wallboard as follows: "Wallboard repairs become necessary for a number of reasons, some preventable while others are totally unavoidable. Careless movers wielding large appliances can cause noticable damage to walls, while natural settling of the house can cause subtle cracks in tape joints and wallboard panels to loosen and warp. And if there are children in the house, you can count on walls getting damaged from 'unknown' causes! Patching holes and concealing popped nails and screws are the most common wallboard repairs. Unlike plaster, wallboard compounds will stick to painted surfacves. This means that you can patch blemishes, seams or nails directly over paint, then repaint to blend the patched area into the rest of the wall." [220]

    When the contractors put new tiles in our kitchen and bathroom, they put underlayment over the old flooring. The Home Dept book has a nice way of explaining the process. "Apply new underlayment over existing flooring if the flooring material is too difficult to remove and too badly damaged to use an embossing leveler. Make sure you have room with existing cabinets and fixtures to fit the underlayment." [261]

    The most difficult part of refinishing our hardwood floors was the sanding. The authors give an overview of the refinishing process in the book. "Refinishing hardwood floors is one of the most popular do-it-yourself projects, and for good reason. Few projects offer such a dramatic reward for a relatively small investment of time and money. Scratches and the uneven wear on hardwood floors generally don't leave many options other than refinishing. Many floors, however, do not need sanding because the imperfections are only superficial and not deep into the wood. Sometimes stripping the old topcoat and applying a fresh finish is all that is necessary to resurface the floor. Refinishing can be a relatively simple task, although you'll need a respirator and goggles to combat the dust when you start sanding." [284] The book talks about differnt grits of paper, In our case we started with the 100 grit but found it was not coarse enough. We went all the way down to 20 grit to get the old finish off. "Install 80-grit sandpaper on the drum sander. It is a good idea to test the sander on a sheet of scrap plywood until you're comfortable with the sander's operation." [285]

    Overall the book is a great resource for both experienced and beginner handymen. I would recommend it for anyone who owns a home.

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