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Other stories by Stephen Smulski

  • Builder Blunders

    Nobody's perfect, but some builders are more imperfect than others. A veteran troubleshooter describes some memorable on-the-job mistakes.

  • Q&A: Assessing Old Structural Timbers

    Q. I'm looking at a project to convert a 1920s-era three-story industrial building into residential lofts. Much of the heavy timber interior frame has been exposed to a lot of weather because of roof deterioration during years when the building was not ma

  • Q&A: Basement Vapor Barrier

    Q: Where does the vapor barrier go when finishing a basement? Since we use a vapor barrier on the inside of exterior above-grade walls to keep moisture in, it’s my contention that a plastic vapor barrier should be used against the wall to keep out the moisture in the earth. Many disagree and say...

  • A Guide to Construction Adhesives

    Does subfloor adhesive strengthen the floor system, or just prevent squeaks? Can you get a permanent bond between dissimilar materials? A wood products expert explains how elastomeric mastics work, and helps you choose the best one for the job.

  • Water in the Walls -- Three Case Studies

    Whether it comes from green framing lumber or household sources, moisture trapped in wall cavities can cause major headaches. These real-life cases illustrate the expensive consequences of failing to get water out of the walls.

  • Q&A: Protecting Insulated Foundations From Termites

    Q: We have termites in a timber-frame house whose slab-on-grade foundation is insulated with rigid foam (Illustration A). I understand that some exterminators will not guarantee treatments on homes with exterior foundation insulation. What is the best way to detail a foundation to help keep...

  • Case Study: Flat Truss Failure

    Excessive indoor moisture and heat caused the plates in these 2x4 floor trusses to spring loose and the floor to sag.

  • Wood Fungi Causes and Cures

    A complete guide to the identification and prevention of mold, mildew, discoloration, and decay of wood products.

  • A Builder's Guide to Wood-Destroying Insects

    This primer will help you identify the insects that cause damage to houses and specify the right treatment.