Floor Squeaks – Carpeted Floors – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

With the colder weather, I’m getting floor squeaks in several areas of my house. It reminds me of my grandparents’ home! Can you help?

I sure hope so. I know what you mean about the older homes, as my grandparents had the same noise, and every time I hear these squeaks, I think of them. I’ve also found that the colder winter increases the volume of the squeaks.

There are several remedies, depending upon the flooring. If you have carpeting, I’ve found a great product to help. It is basically a special screw made for this. The screw goes right through the carpet and subfloor, then into the joist. When it gets into the joist, the screw head breaks off at just the right height, leaving no part of the screw above the subfloor. Home Depot may carry these screws, called “Squeeeek No More”. If you have trouble finding them in a store, give them a call at 1-800-459-8428 or visit them on the web at www.123itsdone.com. They also have videos on the website that show you how to use them.

The hardest part is finding the joist and doing this takes a little time and guesswork. Begin in the area where the squeak is. Use a hammer and softly tap around the area to see if you can find where the joist is by listening to the difference in the sound. This is similar to tapping on a wall to see where the stud is, but just a little harder to hear.

Begin by drilling one of the special screws into the floor. If you haven’t found the joist, the screw will keep on spinning and won’t go down any further. If you didn’t get the joist the first time, leave the screw there, as a marker. Try another screw about two inches from the first, going in a straight line towards an outside wall of the house. You’re trying to find the joist, so you should find one within 24”. If not, go in a 90 degree direction, as the joists must be going the other way.

Once you’ve screwed one of these screws into a joist, you’ll know it, as it will be harder to get the screw in, and the next thing you know, the screw head will break off. Once you now know where the joist is, place several screws along this joist and in the area where the squeak is.

Although there are other methods for squeaks in hardwood floors, vinyl floors, and stairs, we’ll have to leave them for another article.

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Adjusting a Strike Plate – Get It Done – THE St. Louis Handyman

I just planed some doors in my home, following the instructions in one of your recent articles. Everything went well and thank you very much. However, I do have a few doors that just won’t close properly. For the lock to engage, I have to either pull up on the door or push it in a great deal. Any suggestions?

This is a common occurrence with doors and can be cause by a number of different things, such as someone slamming the door too much, settling of the house, temperature fluctuations, etc. However, the fix is done fairly easily by simply adjusting the door strike plate. This is the small part where the lock bolt goes into the hole in the frame.

From inside the room, begin closing the door, while keeping an eye on the latch bolt and the strike plate. You should be able to get an idea without the door being closed fully if the strike plate needs to be adjusted upwards or downwards.

If it looks like it is centered, then it may need to come out or go in further. So, take your time on this part, as you don’t want to adjust it up or down, if it only needs to go in or out further. Sometimes, it can help if you take a marker and mark up the latch bolt. Then, when you close the door, you may be able to see where the latch bolt is meeting the strike plate. However, no matter the direction, the process is the same.

Begin by unscrewing the strike plate. Once you have determined which way the strike plate needs to be adjusted, use a chisel to remove enough wood to move the strike plate to the desired location. Be sure not to take too much wood out, you should only need to remove the thickness of the strike plate. Position the strike plate onto the new location, but don’t screw it in yet. Instead, use some masking tape and tape the bottom and top down. Then, try closing the door. If the door bolt catches as it should, you’re almost done. If it doesn’t catch, you’ll need to move the strike plate further.

Once the door lock is engaging the strike plate, reinstall the plate. Then, if you can see where the old plate was originally positioned, you can fill the gap by using some spackling compound and/or paint to touch up the area.

Case (door) closed!

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Rescreening a Sliding Door – Get It Done – The St. Louis Handyman

How do I replace the screen in my sliding screen door?

Replacing a screen in a sliding door is similar to that of a window and can be easily done. You’ll need to buy some screen, some spline, and a screening tool to work the spline and screen into the groove of the door or window.

First, you have a choice as to what the screen is made of: aluminum or fiberglass. Each one has its advantages. The aluminum is slightly stronger, but if someone throws a ball or object against it, it may cause a wrinkle that won’t go away. While the fiberglass isn’t quite as strong, it is more forgiving when tree limbs or balls hit it. Although I prefer the fiberglass, each situation is unique. If you have cats or dogs that scratch the screen, go with the aluminum, or possibly a third choice, pet screening. Pet screening is great, but it is thicker, and may not fit into the groove of your door.

You’ll also have a choice of coloring: either silver/aluminum or charcoal/black. I prefer the charcoal as it doesn’t reflect the glare of the sun.

Before you buy your screen, take the old screening out, along with the rubber spline which holds the screen in. First, take the door off the track by lifting it up slightly, inserting a screw driver or putty knife under the wheels, then pull the door out from the bottom. You’ll want to lay the door onto a flat surface such as a deck, driveway, or a basement floor.

Then locate where the ends of the spline meet (or a place where it seems loose) and with needle-nosed pliers pull the spline out. The old screening can then be lifted off the door frame.

Take a piece of the spline with you to the hardware store, as there are several thicknesses and you want to have the same size. You will also want to buy the spline tool which lets you roll the spline over the screen and into the groove along the perimeter. Be sure to measure and take the dimensions of the screen with you. A few inches should be added to the width and height when purchasing the screen. You’ll trim off the excess when you’re done installing.

Once you have your supplies you’ll be ready to GET IT DONE. With the door off and the screen removed, lay the new screen over the frame of the door, overlapping it evenly on all sides. Starting at one corner, take the spline and spline tool and work the screen and one end of the spline into the groove of the door. Take your time and be careful not to cut the screen with the tool. As you work the spline and screen into the groove, make sure that the screen is still somewhat even where it overlays the other sides of the door. Continue this process all around the door until you reach the starting point.

All you have to do now is take a razor blade tool and cut off the excess screen. When doing this, be certain to cut above the spline, not under it, or else you’ll be cutting the screen and will have to start all over, with new screen. When you’re done, reinstall the door, go inside, sit down, and admire your beautiful screen. You can also feel good knowing that you’re the talented person that made the repair!

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Painting Siding – Ask THE Handyman St Louis – Get It Done

Can you advise the best way to paint exterior siding, like 4’x8’ sheets of T1-11? Also, is it worth painting them with a second coat of paint, and what would an extra charge like that be?

Anytime you paint, remember, the finished project will only be as good as the preparation put into it. In other words, the more time spent getting ready to paint, the better the finished product will be.
I would start by washing your siding, with a power washer being the easiest way to do it. Unless you have experience with a power washer, take some time before you start to get the feel for it, otherwise, mistakes could happen! You’re not trying to take the paint off, only wash the dirt off. The paint will come off with scraping. If you use too much pressure with the power washer, you could damage the siding. You will need to let the area dry – I would give it a day (depending on the weather).

Next, scrape off any loose paint. Use a paint scraper and a wire brush to get off as much as you can. On this type of siding, I wouldn’t recommend a sander, unless you use a fine grit sandpaper, as you don’t want to get rid of the grain of the wood. If it feels like you’re never going to get to start painting, then you’re probably doing a good job. And rest assured, the painting part will go much more quickly.

Once the scraping is complete, use a primer to cover any bare spots of wood. A primer not only seals the wood, the paint bonds with the primer better than it does to the wood siding. If you have the time, it would probably be well worth your effort to prime everything, not just the bare spots.

You’re now ready for the paint. When you purchase your paint, remember, you get what you pay for. Paint is one area where it pays to spend more. You’ll get longer wear, better coverage, etc.

As to whether or not to apply a second coat, most all paint professionals will tell you that a second coat of paint makes a big difference, no matter what is being painted. The job will look better, the color will stand out more, and the time between repainting will be longer.

Take your time. You will be so much happier with yourself and the job. However, if it sounds like too much work, it’s probably best to have a professional do the work for you.

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Replacing an Interior Door – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

I just moved into a new home, but I don’t like the doors in the house. Can I change them to a 6-panel door, or is this something for a carpenter to do?

Replacing a door is not difficult, but it does require patience and precision to be done correctly. You can replace just the door (the part that swings – called a slab door), or you can replace the door, framing, and casing (called a pre-hung door). Installing a pre-hung door is easier and takes less time, but sometimes requires a second person to help carry and install the door.

For this job, let’s assume you want to replace the door with a pre-hung door. Begin by measuring the width of the door itself (just the part that swings). As long as it is a standard width (24”, 28”, 30”, 32”, or 36”) with a standard height of 80”, you won’t have a problem getting one. You will also need to know if you want a “left hand swing” or “right hand swing”. Since most doors swing into the room, stand with your back to the door on the inside of the room. Whichever side the hinges are on tells you if it is a left-hand or right-hand. Most 6-panel doors are for interior doors and have a hollow core. If you want a solid core 6-panel door, you’re going to pay a lot more for it.

Once you have the door, begin by removing the old door. Remove the hinge pins and discard the old slab door. Then, using a razor knife, score along the edge of the door casing on the inside and outside of the room. You’ll then need a small pry-bar to remove the casing. Once the casing is removed, you’ll be able to see the framing of the door, along with the nails which held it in place. You can use the pry-bar to break the framing up, or a hacksaw to saw the nails off. When the old frame is off, hammer in any nails so that the new door can go in smoothly.

Most pre-hung doors have what is called a “split jamb”. This means that when looking at the 6” side of the door, it will come apart so that one part of the jamb goes on the inside of the room and one part goes on the outside of the room. They are then pushed together inside the doorway where they fit together and are secured. Center the door in the opening and use a level to make sure the door is plumb. Insert shims on the hinge side to hold the door steady. Insert the shims from both sides of the door directly behind each hinge, into the space between the hinge jamb and the stud. You only want the shims to hold the door in place, so don’t put so many in that you push the door out of plumb.

You’ll then want to use 3” finishing nails to nail through the jamb and into the stud framing. Use two nails at each hinge. On the other side of the door jamb without hinges, do the same thing. Now that the door is in and secured, you can nail the casing into the walls, using a finishing nail. Then caulk around the casing, transfer your hold door knob to the new door, and be sure to schedule a time to paint the door. Most 6-panel doors come primed, but not painted.

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A Place To Turn To – Pepsi Refresh Challenge May 2010

I want to introduce you to this very important project! And, request your help in getting it funded. My wife, Jan Cloninger a co-founder and we’re both very committed to it.

Pepsi is giving away two $250,000 grants this month and with your help, A Place To Turn To could be one of the recipients.

If you’ll visit the Pepsi Refresh website, register and then vote for our project EACH DAY (or as often as you possibly can) during the month of May, we could win. It’s easy.

* Register the first time you log onto their site
* Bookmark the page
* Each day, return to vote for us as your favorite $250,000 project proposal
* Forward this and ask your friends to vote and do the same!

You can vote for other projects each day — but please consider voting only for us in the $250,000 category so your vote isn’t diluted.

Here’s the link: http://www.refresheverything.com/aplacetoturnto

Please ask your friends to help. Do you know someone who would be interested in supporting us? Please send them a link to this page so they can vote also!

A Place To Turn To is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our vision is to empower families to raise emotionally fit children able to reach their fullest potential.

Our concept is to develop a welcoming and accessible resource center for parents and their elementary, middle and high school age children. We will accomplish this by offering classes in child development, providing support for parents and children in emotional skill building, and giving referrals for additional resources in the community.

A Place To Turn To is an innovative concept that is needed in every town and city across the country. After extensive market research, another resource center like this has not been found.

We all know parenting is the most important job we do. However, there is little training available on how to be an effective parent. Will you help us achieve our goal?

Vote for our project at:

And/or make a one-time or monthly donation through our website. All donations are fully tax deductible.

On behalf of the Executive Board, Advisory Board and all the families that will benefit from A Place To Turn To — we greatly appreciate your support!

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