The Secret to Lasting Repairs
Feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? With some home improvement projects, it can seem like you’re stuck in a twilight zone where you have to fix the same problem over and over and over again. There’s a reason for this, and it’s also the way out of the cycle: you have to address the root cause and do the job properly—once and for all—if you want to escape DIY déjà vu.
Paint it right, or paint it again
It’s the classic Groundhog Day project: you notice some peeling paint, so you slap on another coat to cover it up, but before long the new layer starts flaking off as well! So you reach for your paintbrush again, and, well, you get the idea. Stop the madness! The solution to bad paint is not more paint; it’s getting down to a clean slate so you can start fresh. So strip away all of the old stuff with a paint scraper or chemical product, and then do the most important, can’t-skip step: apply primer to ensure that your topcoat will stick.
Fix basement flooding forever
A wet basement is another common, perpetual problem you might be running into. Whenever it rains, your basement leaks, like clockwork. Many people will blame it on a “high water table” or fall prey to contractors who pledge to “waterproof” your basement. But if you point the finger at the wrong culprit or pin your hopes on a bogus solution, the leaks will continue to taunt you. The only thing that reliably works is to improve the drainage conditions around your foundation walls so the water doesn’t pool there and seep into your basement after a heavy rain.
Let’s talk tub caulk
If you’ve caulked your bathtub several times now, but the caulk keeps falling out, there’s a trick of the trade you can use to conquer the problem. First, get rid of the old caulk using caulk softener. Next, wipe down the areas with a bleach-and-water solution, and let it dry well. Now, here’s the important part: Fill the tub with water before you re-caulk it. Why? Water is heavy (it weighs 8 pounds per gallon!) and if you caulk the tub when it’s empty, the seal won’t be able to stand up to the weight of the bathwater and your body when you go to take a bath. But if you fill the tub before caulking, let the caulk dry, and then let the water out, the tub comes back up and compresses the caulk, leaving you with a caulk joint that will last a long time.
Put Nail Pops in Your Past
Wood expands and contracts over the years, and can push nails out of a wall. It’s called a nail pop because it usually brings a little piece of spackle with it. They’re perfectly harmless cosmetic flaws and do not indicate a structural problem, but if you try to fix them the wrong way they will keep rearing their ugly heads. There’s two ways to fix them. 1) You can remove them all the way and replace them with a drywall screw, which is always a good idea because screws never pull out. 2) If they’re not quite out all the way or they’re hard to pull, you can put another nail next to them and try to overlap the nail heads so that the new nail helps hold the old nail in place.