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woodshop, tools

Transform Dirt Floor Barn into Woodshop

We have an old barn  that is about 30 x 40 feet in western Massachusetts. The first floor of the barn is open and has granite footings under the the posts. There is currently a dirt floor, but we want to make the bottom level of the barn the woodshop and are wondering if it would work to pour a concrete slab or if there is better option for transforming the space into a usable shop.

Our Answer

Your barn sounds like a great space for a woodshop.  A concrete floor would probably make the most sense. Since the building is self supporting, the floor will have no structural purpose so would not need to be any thicker than around 6 inches or so.  To make sure the slab doesn't crack, I'd be sure to use a good quality mason.  Preparing the grade and stone base is key, as is being sure its tamped down to eliminate any settlement under the slab.  Wire reinforcement will also be needed.  And given that you are in Massachusetts, I'd also insulate under the slab to make it a bit more comfortable to work on in colder weather.

Also, plan to apply an epoxy floor paint after it is complete, so that the slab is easy to sweep and keep clean.  And think about whether you might want to run wiring for present or future tool, outlets or other electrical connections, and have an electrician prewire the floor before the slab is poured.

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Soundproofing: Masonry Wall vs Wood/MLV Fence

We recently moved into a house next to a road that produces more noise than we expected and  I'm considering putting something up to help with the noise.One option considered is a masonry wall.  It's attractive, low-maintenance, and likely the most effective against noise but it's also (roughly) triple the cost of the fence option.The fence would be a tongue and groove double sided privacy fence with a layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) hung between the facing panels to help with sound attenuation.  I'd never heard of MLV before I started looking into this, and the only material I can find on is from the guys who sell it, who obviously claim it's the bee's knees.My question is whether the MLV sandwich fence is going to do a "good enough job" with the road noise to make it a viable option against masonry.  Or is the fence without the MLV going to be effective enough?

Our Answer

As the saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Whether an MLV fence will be quiet enough for you is dependent on your tolerance. However, MLV is a very high-tech product that's had a great success record of quieting machines, road noise, and even the occasional garage band! (Here's more information on MLV and its uses.)

To make it effective, however, it has to float. It cannot be stapled directly to the inside of the fence with no way for the material to move back and forth. This is because when those sound waves hit it, they need the flexibility to diffuse. It's kind of like when you throw a rock into the lake. The lake initially absorbs the force of the rock, but then the waves diffuse the force that follows. If you were to make this MLV so tight that it couldn't flex, it wouldn't have as strong of an ability to diffuse that sound. The best approach would be to hang it loosely between the sections of the fence. As to whether or not this will be "good enough," the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may find that it's fine. Or, if you have a low tolerance for noise, you may find that it's not. Given the fact that it's one-third of the cost of a concrete barrier, it is certainly worth an effort.

Another thing you could do is to add landscaping on the roadside of the wood fence. This would also help break up the sounds before it gets to the fence, making the MLV assembly even more effective. As this article says, adding a water fountain could be a good idea as well. Good luck with your project and send us a photo when you're done!

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rusty grill

How To Prevent Rust on Metal Appliances

I have a small cafe and have a small refrigerated display case that works great, but the rubber-coated refrigerator shelves are rusting on the ends. Last year, I cleaned them all, used rust remover on rusty areas, dried them, and painted with epoxy spray paint. Within a few months, it started rusting again. Is there a solution to this problem?

Our Answer

It looks like you did everything right, except for one thing: you did not prime the metal shelves first. The primer has adhesive qualities and is the "glue" that makes the paint stick. It is especially important when the surface is not optimal, like when it's rusted. The good news is, you can fix it! 

First, you will need to smooth the shelves by using a material like sandpaper and removing all rust or other unwanted filth. This is also the time to sand any cracking or peeling paint. Then, take time to clean the surfaces. Just make sure you avoid solvent because it could soften the old paint and cause problems with the new paint adhering correctly. Make sure everything is clean and dry.

If the rust has become serious and you could not sand it all down, you'll need a primer that will make it smooth and easy to paint on. If it's at a medium or lower level after being cleaned, you can use a rust primer or preventative primer. You'll want to read the directions on the primer you choose, but commonly, you'll apply several thin coats of primer, let it dry, and add a top coat. You might consider adding another layer of preventative rust product after the top coat.

Then, you'll be good to go. Let us know how this project goes!

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