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In this project, replacing a worn-out basement door with a new custom bulkhead gave us an opportunity to leave the customer with a nice-looking — and durable — entryway (1). We started by pouring a new curb, sized to match the new steel door. After squaring and leveling the forms, we drilled holes in the existing slab for rebar pins to tie in the new concrete (2), then poured and screeded the concrete. The raised curb (3) will keep water from the adjoining slab out of the entry well.

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We capped the sidewalls with Koma PVC trim (4) and put multilayered flashings — both metal and rubber — at the top (5) to make sure any rainwater that blows in drains out onto the surface. We also installed the PVC trimboard across the top with a gap (6) so water can drain.

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Given these water-management details, the bulkhead should hold up for many years to come.

Emanuel Silva owns Silva Lightning Builders, a remodeling company in North Andover, Mass.


Matching Asbestos Siding

If you've ever worked on an old asbestos-sided house, you know how scary it is to install new windows or do anything that requires removing the siding. Not because asbestos siding is so dangerous that touching it will kill you, but because it's extremely brittle and if you break it there's nowhere to get replacement pieces.

Roberto Ramirez, a contractor in Moraga, Calif., encountered this problem while replacing windows on an asbestos-sided house. Partway into the job, he discovered an extensive area of rotted framing that had to be replaced. Some of the siding on the wall had already been damaged, and by the time he replaced the framing and was ready for trim, he was many pieces short of the material needed to complete the job.

So Ramirez bought some 4x8 sheets of HardiePanel 5/16-inch fiber cement and made them look like asbestos siding. He ripped the sheets to width, then used a jigsaw to scallop the lower edges (1). The old pieces of siding were about 16 inches long, but rather than cut up his 8-foot fiber-cement strips, he kerfed them every 16 inches to make them look as if they had joints (2).

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The new siding is slightly thicker than the old material but blends in pretty well, even before painting (3). —

David Frane