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Help ME – Help YOU

October 8, 2010

I need to know what you want to learn to do.  What DIY project have you been dying to try but need help with?  Tell me what you want.  Send me your list of DIY projects and I will help you tackle them one by one.

  1. October 8, 2010 9:39 pm

    I want to do built-in bookshelves on a wall in my house, and I’m sort of totally intimidated. I’m afraid I’ll measure wrong or go about it the wrong way. Any suggestions?

    Also, I began redoing my bathroom floor with the vinyl stick tile with grout but didn’t think about how to go around the toilet or sink. Am I going to have to remove them to do it? I’ve tried to draw around them but it doesn’t work.

    • October 11, 2010 10:01 am

      Kudos to you for taking on these projects.

      First, the wall you are using needs to be at least 12″ deep so that you can place the shelving inside. If that is the case you will want to measure how big you want the case, mark that on the wall and cut it – also cut the studs. Remember, measure twice, cut once. You need to build a box that will go inside the wall and attach to the studs. You can then screw your brackets into that box/frame and place the shelving on them. It’s a tough job for someone just starting out.

      I’m confused about the vinyl tile with grout. Most vinyl tile is sticky on the back and does not need any grout. Hopefully you did not do extra work and the floor is laying flush. Now – I would suggest loosening the sink and the toliet – not removing them – just lifting them up slightly. Push the tile under and resecure them both. You can then trim around if necessary. If you don’t want to lift them at all I have a “cheaters” suggestion. Take a regular piece of paper and make a template (like a pattern) and cut it out. You can then place that pattern on the tile and mark it for cutting. Take a grease pencil to mark where you want to cut it (on the front). Use a really sharp (I mean really sharp so you don’t pull the tile apart) razor knife and cut the tile. You will have it just where you need it. (hopefully) Then you can wipe off the grease pencil mark.

      I look forward to hearing from you on how these worked out for you.

  2. October 8, 2010 11:06 pm

    We gals in the Diva Den need electric ran to the front of the house, outside, to do xmas lights. ALSO we have an outlet on the deck, that when it gets wet from the rain it blows the breaker for the bathrooms.

    ANY help and instruction for us DIY chickas would be SO appreciated!

    The Diva Den Ladies
    (67, 47, 41, 20, 16 yo)

    • October 11, 2010 9:39 am

      I have to ask some questions about the electric before I can answer that. First, do you want to turn them on from a switch inside the house or do you want an outlet outside somewhere. You will need special wire for outside use and the rest of the answer will depend on what you answer to the first part.

      The outlet should be sealed so no rain gets to it. I would suggest you replace the outlet with a GFCI – this outlet is made for outside. Then you need to get the exterior waterproof box that covers it. It is usually clear and has a rubber gasket that is used to seal it from rain water. If you look back at my blog you will see directions on how to change the outlet – fairly simple, but feel free to ask more questions. Be sure to turn the electricity OFF before you work!

  3. October 10, 2010 1:31 am

    Drywalling seems like magic to me–I’ve never been able to patch plaster walls properly. Any pointers on how to fill in holes in walls and not have it show would be great.

    • October 11, 2010 10:06 am

      Hi – sorry you are having an issue with the drywall repair. It is more about patience than skill.

      I am assuming you are talking small holes (correct me if I am wrong). For a small hole you will fill it with spackle. A light, thin coating. You will actually do this three times, sanding in between coats to keep it from being bumpy or thick. You need to be sure that it drys in between each coating/sanding. Gently sand each time and wipe off the dust. Remember this is something you cannot rush.

      I am teaching a hands-on drywall class in November at Harford Community College. You should join me!

      • October 11, 2010 9:06 pm

        Thanks–yes, patience–harder to learn than the skills! Anyway, my hole is 12 in by 12 in where a speaker needs to be removed. Long story. Clearly I need a scrap piece of dryway but the best way to install it is a question mark.

      • October 13, 2010 8:14 pm

        No problem. You can buy a small piece of drywall – around 2×2. You cut it to the size of your hole. Then I have these really cool metal brackets that you put on the wall and the drywall to hold it in place (no more putting a piece of wood in the wall – too much work). You screw it all in and then finish it. I can show you how! Hey – you can still take my class on drywall repair and learn a lot of cool stuff :).

  4. October 13, 2010 10:02 pm

    Holly cow. I had no clue that you were from way far away. I do think it might be too far for you to come for the class even though you would enjoy it. (smile) You can pick the clips up at Home Depot or other hardware store most likely. They are really awesome and I use them a lot when I have a big hole to cover. It takes a LOT less time. If you want to write me a private message with an address I will send you some free. I have a ton of them for the jobs and that way you can try them out and also take them to your local hardware store to see if they have them.

  5. Elizabeth permalink
    January 7, 2011 9:07 pm

    I moved into a great old condo (a rental); the kitchen has white tiled counter tops and floors
    The last tenant painted the grout a liver-colored brown
    I was thinking of using a grout colorant to get it back to a lighter color, but am not sure how to do it

    Also, there are vertical blinds in the bedroom However, whomever installed the blinds measured wrong, and the blinds end about 6 inches short of the end of the window
    Is there a way to install an extension to the track that holds the blind slats?

    • January 7, 2011 10:06 pm


      Thanks for writing. I hate to give you bad news but you can’t do either thing you are suggesting. The grout was probably not painted – the person who did the original tile most likely used a dark colored grout instead of a light color. Even if it was painted you will need to remove the grout (you can use a tool that looks something like a small pizza cutter) and then you can reapply the light color grout. As for the blinds, I don’t know of a way to add to them. You will need to buy new ones. Make sure you measure correctly (as you now see what happens when you don’t). Sorry that I couldn’t give you simple solutions.

      • Elizabeth permalink
        January 7, 2011 10:35 pm

        Thanks for your reply

        The former tenant did paint the grout; he asked permission of the landlord first, but didn’t tell her it was going to be brown, or that he would be doing it himself (the coloring is uneven)

        I might try removing the grout and reapplying, in a small area, to see how it goes

        I am not sure I want to pay for new blinds in a rental unit

      • January 8, 2011 9:15 pm

        I have never heard of someone wanting to paint grout. Maybe you could try some mineral spirits and see if it takes the paint off. Don’t use paint thinner because it will take the shine out of the tile. And – I thought of something that might work for the curtains. You could put up a cheap valance and move the curtain down a bit underneath it so that it meets the end of the window like it is supposed to. You just cover the part that is short (put it at the top instead of the bottom). Does that make sense?

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