Birds Roosting – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

Now that the birds have left their roosting spot above my front door, I’m determined to find a way to keep them from nesting here again next year.  The mess is terrible.  Any suggestions?

Oh, how I know the feeling.  We love our wildlife, right up to the moment they invade our garden or home!  There are a number of possibilities as a deterrent.  Some people have used a plastic snake, laying it on the perch area.  This can work for a while, but birds can be smart.  If they see the snake hasn’t moved for a few days, they could investigate further and attempt to push the snake off.  A fake owl is another possibility.  Having it perch in a nearby area can detract the birds, again perhaps for a while, perhaps for all season.  These snakes and owls can be purchased at many hardware stores, or even at the gardening store.

For birds, I have also found a great product that will work most every time.  It is a product that you install on the perch.  It has plastic (or metal) barbs, which will prevent the birds from landing.  These barbs won’t hurt the birds, even if they attempt to land.  They’ll just move on.  The company I am familiar with is NIXALITE.  Their web site is, and their phone number is 800-624-1189.  The only downside I’ve found is that in certain locations where the product is visible, it can look unattractive.

As to birds or other animals getting into the home, there are several things to be aware of.  First, how are they getting in?  Sometimes, it’s difficult to find out and looking around on the ladder or roof may not show the entry spot.  If this is the case, I would suggest going up into the attic, during the daytime,  then looking for an area of light to the outside.  This will usually let you discover the hole.  However, if this doesn’t work, take a look at the gable vents.  Usually, there will be a screen (like a window screen – which can be torn easily, allowing entry).  If this screen is ripped or missing, you’ll want to replace it.  I will usually use a hardware cloth, which is like chicken wire, only stronger and with smaller holes.  This can be purchase at hardware stores.  It can be cut to size with wire cutters, but be sure to wear gloves.  The easiest and best way to attach the screening in the attic is to use a staple gun.

And if need be, there is always yelling and banging pots – but that probably won’t make your neighbors happy!


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Using New Paint & Primer Products – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

Are the new paint with primer paints really worth the cost and effort? I need to paint my laundry room this summer and it hasn’t been painted in 10 years (where does the time go?). Is there a paint product you would recommend? Thanks!!

As the primer/paint product is fairly new, I can’t give you results based on a great deal of experience. However, we have used the product a few times, and so far, it seems to work well.

Basically, when a primer is used, it seals the surface and provides a bonding for the finish coat of paint. A primer looks like paint and is applied the same ways as paint. Anytime you are painting bare wood, it should always be primed before painting. If you don’t, the paint will not last as long and will begin to fail before it should.

In addition, if there are water stains on the wood or on a wall surface, such as drywall or plaster, there is only one way to cover up the stain, and that is with a primer. To try and just use paint on a stain will usually not work as the stain will come right back.

If you are painting the walls of your home with a noticeable difference in color between the new and the old, it is sometimes easier to first prime all of the walls and then paint them. You may still need to use two coats of paint to completely cover the color change; however, that’s no more work than doing a coat of primer followed by a coat of paint.


Therefore, the idea of having a primer and paint all in one is a good one. I wouldn’t be surprised if other paint manufacturers soon come out with their own product.

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How to Get A Straight Line When Painting – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

In painting, what is the best way to get a clean line along a ceiling or wall?

Great question!

There are a number of factors when painting in order to get a clean line, such as when painting a wall up to the ceiling. The first recommendation is to have a good brush. For interior work, I like an angled brush, as it allows getting into the corner easily, and a 1 ½ to 2 inch brush works well. Some people like a chiseled brush, which is more like an artist’s brush, rounded at the tip.

Although patience is a great thing to have in painting, so is a good steady hand. If you feel lack one or both of those skills, you might want to consider using painter’s tape. The typical painter’s tape is blue, available in different widths. Painter’s tape is similar to a regular masking tape, but the blue tape doesn’t stick permanently or take any of the surface off when it is removed.

In my early painting experiences, I tried cutting in with just a brush, but I wasn’t satisfied with my results. I therefore switched to using the painter’s tape. However, I became even more frustrated with this, because when pulling the tape off, I found too many occurrences where the paint got behind the tape. This causes extra work in wiping it off and then touching up the area where I didn’t want the paint to go. So, I went back to the brush only, forcing myself to learn the skill.

However, we have just run across a new painter’s tape that we’ve tried out, and have found that it works well. It’s called FROGTAPE, ( and is available at Home Depot and Lowes, and perhaps other stores. The tape is green, so you won’t get it confused with the typical blue tape. The reason we’re liking the FROGTAPE is because it is treated with what they call a paint block. As paint is applied to the tape, a polymer on the tape absorbs the water in latex paints, expanding the edge of the tape and creating a barrier. Therefore the paint doesn’t get under the tape. The manufacturer states that the paint was created for latex paints, so if you’re using an oil based paint, beware. The only drawback I’ve found in using this is that at times I had trouble making it stick, so it took more time to get it in place.

As with any painter’s tape, it is best not to leave it in place for too long after the job is done. If the paint has dried, you might be pulling up paint along with the tape. So, it is best to take the tape off before the paint is dry. Be careful removing it wet, however; don’t let the tape touch any other surface, or you may be spending more time doing touch ups.

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Door Knob Hole In the Wall – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

A member of my family (who is still not admitting to it) opened a door too strongly and the door knob went through the drywall. What can we do?

The good news is that this is a fairly simple fix. The bad news is that this will require several applications spread out over a few days.

If the hole is still the size of the door knob, you can purchase a drywall patch, making things much easier. Most patches are about 6” square, but larger patches can be purchased if needed. Begin by lightly sanding around the hole to get things smooth. Remove the backing on the drywall patch and press the patch over the hole. Using joint compound or spackling compound, apply the compound to the patch, pressing the compound firmly over the hole, covering the entire patch. Try to feather the edges of the patch so that the compound is not quite as thick at the edges.

After the compound has dried (about one day for joint compound and much less for spackle), lightly sand the area with a sanding block. No matter what you do, there will be dust, so be sure to have a drop cloth on the floor. Apply a second coat of compound, this time extending the edges out about 3 – 4” beyond the first coat. This “feathering” of the compound will make the finished job less noticeable. Again, let the compound dry, and then lightly sand the area, making sure there are no ridges in the compound.

If, after the sanding, everything looks good, you’re ready to prime the area with a general purpose primer. (If you have any kind of textured wall, such as a sand finish, or an orange peel finish, it is best to apply these finishes before priming. Follow the directions for the texture.) Once the primer is dry, touch it up with the wall paint. To make the job look its best, use a roller to apply the paint.

My next recommendation for this project is to install some type of door stop, so that the problem doesn’t reoccur. There are several types of door stops, the most common ones screw into the baseboard molding. These could have a flexible shaft or hard shaft, and normally come in a bright brass or antique brass finish, but other finishes are available if you look for them. They are easy to install, requiring only a wrench or pair of pliers, but if you have a drill, drilling a small pilot hole makes the installation easier.

Another type of door stop is one that is installed at the hinge of the door. This requires tapping the hinge pin out of the hinges, then reinstalling the pin with the door stop being added at the top of the hinge. This type of door stop can be adjusted so that the door will stop well before the door knob hits the door.

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