Adding Chair Rail – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

I’d like to update my living room by adding chair rail molding. Is this hard to do?

Chair rail molding is an easy way to make a room look different. Besides the chair rail, you can use the same material to create a “box”, or “picture rail” design, in whatever dimensions you choose.

For this project, you will need a miter saw. It is much easier if you have a powered one, which can be rented from most of the larger hardware stores, or a rental store. However, you can purchase a non-powered miter box and saw for around $15, but, if you have to make a lot of cuts, you’ll wish you had rented the powered saw.

Begin by measuring your room to see how many feet will be needed. Chair rail molding will come in various lengths, but it is always best if you can use one piece for the entire wall. For example, if a wall is 14’ long, buy a piece slightly longer than this, such as 15’. This way, there won’t be any seams and the outcome will look nicer. Usually, 16’ is the longest piece available, unless specially ordered.

If the molding is to be painted, it is much easier to prime and paint the molding before installing it. The same is true if the molding is to be stained and finished with polyurethane. Once the molding is installed, you should only need slight touch-ups.

Begin by measuring up the wall to anywhere between 32” and 36”, whichever height looks best. If the molding is to prevent chairs from hitting the wall, take this into account. Mark the chosen height with a pencil on both ends of the wall, then stretch the chalk line between the two marks for your target line.

Next, use the stud finder to see where the studs are. You’ll want to nail the molding into the studs. A small piece of painter’s tape or a light pencil will be fine.

Take the first piece of molding and make a 45 degree cut, taking into account whether this begins at an inside corner or outside corner. For an inside corner, the part of the molding that is away from the wall will be the part that is cut off. For an outside corner, it is the part of the molding that is against the wall that will be cut off. If this wall will have two pieces of molding, you’ll want to make another 45 degree cut where the two pieces will join, so that they fit together nicely.

After the first piece is cut, make sure the second piece is cut at the appropriate angle to fit with not only the first piece, but the third piece as well (the end of the 2nd piece). Before you cut each piece, make sure you have the exact measurement and the appropriate inside or outside cut. It is easy to get confused here. Only make the cuts as you go. Don’t measure and cut each piece before installing.

Once the molding is up, use a nail-set to drive the nails into the wood, so they won’t show. Use spackle to cover the nail holes, and then caulk the top and bottom edges. You’re then ready for paint touch up. If the wood is stained, don’t use spackle. Instead, buy a stain filler of the same color as the stain.

Be certain to take before and after pictures so you can show your friends, but be aware! You may find yourself invited over to their house to do the same thing!

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Installing Cabinets in the Garage – Get It Done – Ask THE St. Louis Handyman

I’m thinking about installing some cabinets in my garage. Is this something I can do myself and are there any special requirements?

Adding cabinets to your garage is a fairly easy task to do. As to buying the cabinets, you should consider your budget, the appearance of the cabinets, as well as any special uses for the cabinets (tools, drawers, etc.). For example, most cabinets are made of wood, but there are steel cabinets which are commonly used in garages. For general usage, the typical wood cabinets are fine. However, no matter what type of cabinet you buy, I recommend buying the cabinets pre-assembled. The type that you have to put together are time consuming and not always as sturdy.

If the framing of the wall you’re mounting the cabinets to is covered with drywall or plaster, you’ll need a stud-finder to find the studs. Make a mark of each stud in the area where the cabinets are going. The cabinets should only be secured to the studs, not just to the drywall. Use a level to mark where you want the top of the cabinet to be.

It is easier to remove the doors of the cabinets before mounting them, mainly because of the weight. Inside the cabinet, at the top, there is usually a small piece of wood that runs from left to right, which is a good place to secure the cabinet. If there isn’t any trim inside the cabinet, then another good possibility is on top of the cabinet, through the lip of the back frame. It is best to use 3” screws, again, installing them into the studs.

If you have more than one cabinet to install right next to another, once they are both hung to the wall, use a drill bit to drill a hole through the front frame of one into the other. Don’t drill all the way through, just enough for slightly less than the length of the screw. You’ll have to measure to see what size screw you’ll need. After you’ve drilled the hole, use a countersink bit, or a larger size bit to drill just a small area into the hole, so that the screw you’ll be putting in will be sunk slightly beneath the surface. This is done to keep the cabinets secured to each other. Two screws holding the one cabinet to the other should be fine.

Next, attach the doors and any shelving that came with the cabinet, and you’re ready to start filling it!

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Ceiling Fan Light – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

The light on my ceiling fan won’t come on any longer. I pull the chain for it, but it doesn’t “click” on. Do I need a new light or a new ceiling fan?

This is an easy fix, and you don’t need a new fan or new light. All you need is a new pull chain switch.
Inside the light housing, you’ll find the switch which has to be replaced. These are available at any hardware store.

First, turn off the circuit breaker which controls the fan. Next, remove the light from the fan portion. There are usually two or three screws which will drop the light housing away from the fan. When you’ve done this, you will see a small device which is connected to the pull chain. To remove this, you’ll need to unscrew the nut on the outside of the light. This will then allow you to move this switch away from the light housing.

Normally, there will be two wires which run from this switch, and they will usually be joined in a wire nut with other wires. The only thing you have to do is replace the two original wires coming from the switch with the new wires of the new switch. Run the pull chain back out of the hole the switch goes through in the light housing and then reconnect the nut on the outside which was removed.
If by chance you have a light on your fan which has a high/low, or high/medium/low feature, you’ll need to use a different pull-chain switch than a simple on/off. The wiring will be the same usually, so it’s just a matter of using the correct switch.

Once the power is turned back on, you should be able to turn the light on and off without a problem.
This fix is basically the same for the pull chain of the fan portion of the ceiling fan. However, there are more than two wires coming from the pull chain for the fan. This is a repair that is best for someone who knows what they’re doing.

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