Repairing floor squeaks in a hardwood floor – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

In a recent column, we discussed repairing the annoying floor squeaks when there is carpeting on the floor. In this column, we’ll address what to do if you have hardwood flooring.

If you have an unfinished area of the basement underneath the squeaky area, it is easiest to attack it from here. Identify the area that is squeaking by having another person walk on the area above. When you have the general area located, look to see if there are any gaps between the top of the joist and the subfloor. If there are, shims can be inserted into the gap. Apply glue to both sides of the shim and tap it in, only enough to fill the gap. Pushing a shim in too far could raise the floorboards, so use caution here.
If you don’t see any gaps, you’ll need to try installing some blocking or bridging. Steel bridging are metal “arms” that stretch from the bottom of one joist over to the top of another joist. By installing two of these in each joist cavity, they will form a cross, adding strength for under the flooring. The metal bridging can be purchased at most hardware stores. Some of these have metal prongs on the end that simply require they be hammered into the joist, while others have holes in the ends to use screws or nails to attach them to the joists.

If you can’t find the bridging, you can use wood blocks the same dimension of the joists. Cut these pieces so they will fit inside the joist cavity at a maximum distance of 6’ apart. Stagger them so that you can screw the block into the joist from either side.

If the area below the hardwood floor is not accessible, you’ll then need to pre-drill small holes in the flooring. Using a small head screw or a finish nail, drill into the floor and subfloor in the areas around the squeak. If you used a nail, drive the nail down beneath the floor, using a nail-set so that the hammer doesn’t scuff the floor. If you’re using a screw, use a counter sink device first so the head of the screw goes beneath the surface of the finished floor. Either way, you’ll then need to putty these holes. Many times, you can get putty which is the same color of the floor. If you’re not able to, use a stainable putty, then touch it up with a matching color of stain, along with a polyurethane.

Silence is golden.

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Replacing Damaged Tiles – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

I live in a 95 year-old house and have several damaged wall tiles in the house’s original bathroom. Miraculously, we also have some spare tiles that have been handed down from owner to owner, so it is possible to replace the damaged ones. I am sure the original ones are set in concrete, so removing them is not going to be easy. Do you have any recommendations on how to get this done? I have a full complement of power tools, including an air chisel, if that helps.

It is a wonder that you still have some of the original tiles! That will make this job much easier.

To remove the cracked tiles, begin by placing a drop cloth or blanket inside the tub or shower. Next, remove the grout around the tiles to be replaced. A hand held grout saw will be fine for this. It just requires “scoring” the old grout until it is completely gone. To get the tiles out without damaging the surrounding tiles, you need to create more cracks in the bad tile, so that it will come out in pieces. A masonry drill bit and drill can work, as well as a hammer and chisel. Be patient and be careful. Sometimes you will want to just break the whole thing in one good swing of a hammer, but this can cause more damage, so just take your time. Also, be sure to wear goggles, and the tile chips can fly into your face.

Once you have the tile removed, you’re going to need to remove some of the mastic or cement that was under the tile, to get the area smooth and level. Otherwise, the new tile won’t lay exactly flat. To do this, a cold chisel is perhaps the best tool, along with a hammer. Again, take your time. You’ll want to remove enough cement so that when you simply place a new tile in this spot (without any mastic), the tile should lay flat and slightly further into the wall than the surrounding tiles. This way, when you add the mastic, the tile will then lay even with the surrounding ones.

Once you have all of the cracked tiles out, use mastic and a notched trowel to install the new tiles. Normally, the mastic is applied to the wall, then the tiles are put in place. In this situation, you may not have enough room to do this, so you may have to apply the mastic to the back of the tile, using the notched trowel. Next, put the tile in place, slightly turning it as you do. Use a slight amount of force, getting the tile in enough so that it is even with the surrounding tiles. You may want to buy some tile spacers, which go between the tiles temporarily to be sure the new tiles are straight and that you have a uniform space between them. Be sure to wipe up any excess mastic that may have come from behind the tiles.

After all the tiles are in wait at least 24 hours, then apply the grout, following manufacturer’s directions.

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Adjusting a Strike Plate – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St louis

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 caused 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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