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Features

  • Makita 5620D 18V

    Cordless Saw UPDATE

    Longer runtimes and greater power are making cordless circular saws more useful on the site. Our tool editor takes a close look at the available models.

     
  • Installing a Radiant Wall

    Sometimes heavy floor coverings, furniture, or built-ins reduce the area available for radiant heating. This heating specialist shows how to turn walls and ceilings into heat emitters.

     
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    Makeup Air For Combustion Equipment

    Fuel-burning appliances like water heaters, furnaces, and boilers need a steady supply of combustion air to operate safely and efficiently. In today’s tight houses, this means you may have to install dedicated air intakes. In this article, a venting specialist tells you what you need to know.

     
  • Millenium Notebook

    A lighthearted look at the state of the industry at the turn of the last millennium.

     
  • Prefab Shear Walls

    If the homes you’re building require tedious shear nailing and truckloads of metal connectors to protect against high wind or earthquake, you may want to consider these premanufactured panels. By saving time, they may save you money on your next engineered job.

     
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    Designing Better Kitchens

    Many common kitchen design elements are inefficient or downright dangerous. These guidelines from a kitchen specialist will help you create kitchens that not only look great and work well, but are safe to use.

     
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    Keeping Water Out of Brick Veneer

    Contrary to popular perception, brick is not waterproof. Water gets behind it and can rot the structure and ruin finishes. A brick design expert describes the flashing and weep details that ensure water can get out from behind brick veneer before it causes problems.

     
  • Making Sense of the Energy Code

    The MEC provides three ways to comply: simple prescriptive rules, a “tradeoff” approach, and performance design. An energy consultant tells how to decide which method best fits your project.

     
  • Structuring a Construction Business

    A tax consultant outlines the pros and cons of the four common business tax structures — sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company — and provides guidelines for choosing the right one.

     
  • A Builder's Guide to Geothermal Heat Pumps

    Installed correctly, ground-source heat pumps can provide comfortable, efficient heating in many climates. Here’s an overview of the available options.

     
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    Framing Layout Rules of Thumb

    A California framer tells how to translate the information on the blueprints into a fast, accurate layout of walls and headers.

     
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    Getting the Final Payment

    If you’ve ever had a problem collecting that last check, you’ll appreciate the value of this builder’s systematic approach to getting what he’s owed.

     
  • Protective Supplies for Remodelers

    Remodeling an occupied home creates clouds of dust, splatters of drywall mud, and dings and dents in existing woodwork. Fortunately, there’s a slew of products designed to help you get a messy job done neatly.

     
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    Repiping with PEX

    Corrosive water is a major problem in many areas of the country, causing copper pipe to degrade prematurely. A plumber tells how he installs new domestic piping, using cross-linked polyethylene.

     
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    Troubleshooting Roof Leaks: Problems & Solutions

    A small roof leak can create expensive problems. An inspector with years of experience surveys the trouble spots on both flat and steep roofs.

     
  • Accrual Accounting

    Accrual accounting gives you a much more accurate picture of your day-to-day finances than cash accounting. Here’s how to set up a popular accounting program to track payables and receivables and provide the reports you need to track your company’s financial health.

     
  • Flitch Beam Retrofit

    A custom remodeler tells how he and a helper used standard tools to install a three-quarter-ton steel sandwich before removing a masonry support wall for a first-story addition.

     
  • Floating Floor Options

    Floating floors offer some advantages over conventional hardwood strip flooring: They’re more dimensionally stable, come prefinished, and because they’re laminated, are available in wood species that would be cost-prohibitive in full-thickness flooring. Here’s a survey of what’s available.

     
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    Making Paint Stick to Wood Siding & Trim

    Premature paint failure is a common problem — but it doesn’t have to be. One of the nation’s foremost experts on paint explains how to choose and apply finishes on various types of wood siding to reduce your chances of callbacks.

     
  • Rigid Foam Update

    There are three types of rigid foam insulation — expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate. Each has its own characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. Whether your application is above or below grade, inside or out, this guide will help you choose the right product.

     
  • Bending V-Crimped Valley Flashing

    Keep runoff under control where roofs of different pitches intersect.

     
  • Crawlspace Ventilation Update

    Most crawlspaces should be carefully sealed, not ventilated. In many areas, however, the codes are still catching up with best practice.

     
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    Hanging a New Door in an Old Jamb

    When the door and the jamb don’t match, this finish carpenter’s scribing technique makes for a perfect fit the first time, every time.

     
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    Managing Fraudulent Clients

    Some clients who complain about your work are just looking for a way to get out of paying the final bill. Some even planned it that way. A psychologist specializing in construction fraud identifies common character types and shows you how to avoid getting caught in their game.

     
  • Rafter Cutting Basics

    A veteran California framer explains step by step how to lay out plumb, seat, heel, and plancer cuts on common, hip, valley, and jack rafters.

     
  • Tool Test: Sliding Compound Miter Saws

    Our tool editor looks at both single- and double-compound models with an eye toward accuracy, durability, and ease of use.

     
  • Detail: Wood Trim for Vinyl Siding

    On houses clad with vinyl, a simple rabbeted edge detail preserves the look of traditional wood trim at windows, doors, and corner boards.

     
  • A Simple Job-Site Notebook

    Easy access to all job documents is the key to bringing projects in on budget and on time. A project manager tells how he organizes the paperwork so that critical job information is always available on site.

     
  • Building a Pole Barn

    By combining time-honored post-frame construction techniques with modern roof trusses, this Rochester, N.Y., builder-remodeler was able to save the cost of a concrete foundation while giving his clients the look of a traditional barn.

     
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    Electrical Code Update

    A veteran electrician gives you a leg up on your inspector with this summary of the latest NEC changes.

     

Letters

  • Letters

    More on payment schedules, painting over knots, affordable design catalog announced, “green” building vs. “healthy” building, followup on tool pretenders, flitch beam details

     
  • Letters

    Painting wood siding, venting metal roofs

     
  • Letters

    Differing viewpoints on sealing crawlspaces, NEC clarification, nuances of foreign-made tools, why clothes washers break trap seals

     
  • Letters

    Asphalt shingle recycling, crown molding tip, on the durability of vinyl siding, how to enter the building trades

     
  • Letters

    Fire separation assembly clarification, comments on new pressure-treated wood categories, Marvin Windows responds to article, support for women in the trades

     
  • Letters

    Asphalt roof-over pros & cons, PT wood myths, preventing wood siding woes, lead paint caution

     

News

  • Notebook

    Widespread problem with leaky copper pipes, toxic mold blamed for infant deaths, recharging your NiCad batteries, lumber export fee agreement reached with Canada, U.S. importing drywall from Britain

     
  • Notebook

    Street-side garages banned in Portland, beware the Formosan termite, drywall dust hazard, patenting architectural ideas, new masonry code, recycling old shingles

     
  • Notebook

    Cordless battery update, lumber price predictions, “green” building defined, geothermal heat pump rebates curtailed, job-site theft, storm shelters in tornado alley, algae-resistant shingles, residential silos

     
  • Notebook

    Harvard remodeling report analyzed, up-to-the-minute satellite weather for contractors, buildings damaged by swelling coal ash, questions about masonry wall strength, older U.S. homes too leaky, skid-steer accidents, California demands lower-VOC paint

     
  • Notebook

    Toolmakers battle “tool counterfeiting,” SBCCI foam ban reversed, pressboard roof shingle suit settled, factory- vs. site-built quality and cost, the self-cleaning house

     

Q&A

  • Q&A: Adding a Garbage Disposal

    Q: My clients want to add a disposal during a remodel of their 1950s kitchen. The 2-inch waste line runs at a shallow pitch for about 30 feet (with three right-angle bends) before diving into the main 4-inch cast iron line. Over nearly 50 years, they’ve had only a few clogging problems with this...

     
  • Q&A: Stucco Cracking Mystery

    Q: We have had good luck using the old-fashioned technique for exterior stucco: 1/2-inch plywood, felt paper, wire mesh, then 1 inch of plaster in three coats. Last year our luck ran out. We built a house on a hill where the wind just didn’t stop. A year later, one face — the gable end of a...

     
  • Q&A: Bubbling Skim Coat Over Painted Surface

    Q: How can the bubbling be eliminated when skim-coating joint compound over a painted surface?

     
  • Q&A: Finishing Water-Stained Wood

    Q: I have an unfinished mahogany door that has gotten water stains. How can I get rid of these stains before finishing?

     
  • Q&A: A Fix for Bouncy Floors

    Q: As part of a remodel, I have to replace the carpet on a floor framed with 2x10s on 12-inch centers. The joist span is 20 feet, and the floor bounces so badly that things on the table shake when someone walks through the room. Is there a good way to fix this problem before recarpeting?

     
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    Q&A: Which Way With OSB Sheathing?

    Q: I recently inspected a home that had 3/8-inch OSB corner bracing. The surface stamp indicated that the strength axis of the panel ran in the long direction (see photo, below). I assume this means the panel should be applied with the long dimension across the studs, yet the builder had installed...

     
  • Q&A: Crawlspace Mildew

    Q: How can I get rid of mildew growing on joists in an insulated crawlspace? The mildew is only on the bottom edges and sides of the joists where the batt insulation doesn’t cover them. I suspect it’s from warm, humid air wafting through the basement in the summer. The soil is basically dry.

     
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    Q&A: Adding Living Space Over a Deck

    Q: A client wants to build a heated room over an existing deck. I’m suggesting that we insulate the deck floor by placing two layers of 2-inch "polyiso" foam board between the existing joists. Two layers should bring the floor to the required R-30 after discounting for heat loss through the joists...

     
  • Q&A: Vinyl Siding Without Paper?

    Q: Is it a good idea to install vinyl siding over OSB sheathing without putting up any housewrap or felt? I see this more and more often, and wonder whether the OSB should be protected since vinyl is fairly leaky. Apparently there is nothing in the codes against this practice.

     
  • Q&A: Dryer Vent Installation

    Q: What’s the right way to vent a dryer? The standard plastic flex-hose with the spiral wire always collects condensation and sags. There’s got to be a better way. Would metal or plastic pipe work?

     
  • Q&A: Rules for Splicing Romex

    Q: I want to lower receptacle outlets from 4 feet off the floor to 18 inches. I plan to make a splice at the existing receptacle and extend the new wire down through the stud cavity. Can the junction box be inside the wall or does code require that you have access to it by using the existing outlet...

     
  • Q&A: Heating Tubes in Basement Slab

    Q: A client wants a portion of a basement slab to have radiant heat to take the chill off the floor of a planned playroom (there will be supplemental heat). The hvac contractor wants the radiant tubing, which will be attached to wire mesh, to be lifted into the middle of the slab during the pour to...

     
  • Q&A: Asphalt Shingles & High Wind

    Q: Is the self-adhesive strip on standard asphalt shingles adequate for occasional 100-mph winds, or should extra roofing cement be applied under each shingle?

     
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    Q&A: Condensation Dripping Under Metal Roof

    Q: I designed an open-plan house with what I hoped would be an energy-efficient, maintenance-free roof. The house and its roof have performed well except for occasional annoying ceiling drips, which occur every winter. (A similar but not identical situation was discussed in your March ’99 On the...

     
  • Q&A: Cordless Tool Trigger Guards

    Q: I’d like to know why cordless tools don’t have trigger guards anymore. Bosch used to make one, but they gave it up, or so it seems. Does it have something to do with government requirements? With the gun I use now (Bosch), I hang it in the spare hammer loop on my left hand nail bag, but the new...

     
  • Q&A: Sizing Steel Girders

    Q: A while ago you ran an article recommending that you limit deflection of built-up wood girders to L/600 so that the floor joists wouldn’t vibrate excessively (see Practical Engineering, 8/97). My question: Does this also apply to steel girders, or is it mainly a wood-related issue, owing to the...

     
  • Q&A: Plywood for Oceanside Decking

    Q: I’m building a wharf on a bay of the Gulf of Mexico. It is to be on 8-inch-diameter pilings with 2-by joists and cross-members. Can I use plywood for the decking? What are your recommendations?

     
  • Q&A: Mechanical Plumbing Vents

    Q: I saw a "rubber diaphram" device marketed as a cap for vent pipes that terminated in the attic. Its advantage was that it did not pierce the roof (highly desirable for expensive roofs like slate and tile), yet it would work to equalize pressures in the vent system. No mention of noxious gases or...

     
  • Q&A: Moldy Basement Room

    Q: I was hired to refinish a basement game room built in 1936 in a house on the shores of Lake Michigan. The T&G paneling in the room was badly warped and the bottom 3 feet were moldy and partly rotted. I removed the paneling to find that it had been installed directly over the poured foundation on...

     
  • Q&A: Finish for Bare Slab

    Q: What is a good, durable, transparent finish for a bare radiant slab? I’ve tried Glitsa over colored concrete. The finish looked great initially, but was not water-resistant. A year later, there was a fair amount of delamination and flaking. How should I refinish the floor? Would a polyurethane...

     
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    Q&A: Installing Crown in a Finished Room

    Q: I’m installing a lot of crown molding in a finished home, and wondering whether it’s better to prepaint the crown and just touch up the nail holes, or paint it once it’s in place?

     

Design

Business

Legal

Computers

Engineering

Reviews

  • Resources

    Home inspection resource

     
  • Resources

    Guide to corporate paperwork, masonry reference, historic restoration resources

     
  • Resources

    Window technology guide, roof framer’s handbook, construction tax help, timber framer manual

     
  • Resources

    Fifteen-volume business reference, woodworking primer, bathroom design and construction, HUD design guide

     

Kitchen & Bath

Products

  • Products

    Plastic sump pit, convenient concrete anchor kit, safety lanyard, see-through storm shutters, stainless steel door, better duct tape, chimney-top vent fan

     
  • New Tools for 2000

    We scouted the 1999 National Hardware Show for the tools we think will make you more productive in the coming year.

     
  • Products

    Rotting wood repair kit, removable concrete anchor, neck strap for safety glasses, hand cleaner towels, new slide dimmer switch, tough polycarbonate glazing panels

     
  • K&B Problem-Solvers

    This selection of products will help you design, install, and customize functional, attractive kitchens and bathrooms.

     
  • Products

    Patch kit for oversized receptacle holes, new anti-scald shower valve, terrazzo tiles, premixed structural-anchor cement, comfortable safety harness, drywall crack repair mesh

     
  • Products

    Steel hollow-wall fasteners, exterior vinyl flooring, low-maintenance vinyl deck boards, remodeling for your pickup, easy metal roof panels, one-piece PVC deck system, low-profile hydronic baseboard, outdoor lighting, rooftop snow guard

     
  • Products

    GFCI-protected temporary power, polyurethane glue, corner sander, puncture-proof wheelbarrow tire, insulated vinyl siding, hydraulic work platform

     

Toolbox

Other Articles

  • JLC Online

    Going into business for yourself, high-velocity hvac

     
  • JLC Online

    Sales advice for novice remodelers

     
  • JLC Online

    Slab waterproofing admixture, carpenter pay rates

     
  • JLC Online

    Leaky power sander, chimney flashing in steel roofs, tools for cutting fiber-cement, Win95 alternatives