DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Building Materials FAQ's (273)

How often should I seal my asphalt driveway?

Depending on the product you use and the number of coats you apply, every 2 to 4 years should be adequate.

How big should the work triangle be?

Each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet long, with the total of length not more than 26 feet.

Does a fiberglass door have any advantages over a steel door?

A fiberglass door won’t dent, while a steel door might. The fiberglass door can also better simulate a wood grain appearance.

What is a “square” in roofing terms?

A square is 100 square feet of shingles on a roof. Shingles are typically sold in bundles and will tell you how many bundles it takes to make a square.

What kind of nail should I use to install wood siding?

Use a stainless steel nail, a high tensile strength aluminum nail or a hot-dipped galvanized nail. The nail should have a ring-threaded or spiral-threaded shank for improved holding power.

Can I install ceiling tile over any existing ceiling?

The existing ceiling must be in sound condition. Ceilings can be drywall, plaster, popcorn surfaces or open joists. A suspended ceiling may be installed anywhere there is a place to support the wire hangers.

After installing my new vinyl tile floor, how long should I wait to clean it?

Wait one week after installation before washing your new floor.

What is the fire resistance rating?

Drywall is not fire proof, but the fire resistance rating is the length of time a wall can withstand fire and serve as a barrier and keep it from spreading.

How do I keep plywood from splintering or chipping when I cut it?

First of all, you’ll want to use a blade designed for cutting plywood, usually with small teeth. If you are using a handheld circular saw, place the good face, the face you want to be seen, downward. If you are using a table saw, place the good face upward. This way, the only splintering occurs on the unseen face.

How do I maintain my redwood deck?

Redwood is stronger than other woods, so you can let it weather naturally and it is less likely to warp or split. It will weather to a natural gray color. To enhance the color of the wood and provide additional protection, use a finish that has a water repellent, a mildewcide and UV protection.

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Building Materials Terms (161)

Adhesive-Backed Foam Tape

  • Installed by pressing into position and sticking permanently.
  • Requires no nails or tools.
  • One type, pressure-sensitive sponge rubber tape, is suited for larger problem areas.
  • Another type, pressure-sensitive vinyl foam or felt, is for average sealing.
  • Closed-cell PVC foam compresses to fill irregular gaps and can be used outdoors.
  • Open-cell foam is for inside use only.
  • High-density foam is extremely durable and long lasting.

Sliding Door

  • Made with safety or insulated glass and comes with a screen for hot-weather use.
  • Low-E glass offers protection from ultraviolet rays and is more energy efficient than regular glass.
  • Frames may be wood, aluminum, fiberglass or PVC vinyl in a variety of finishes.
  • Aluminum patio doors are generally the least expensive as they are the least durable and energy efficient.
  • May be two-, three- or four-panels wide. A two-panel door has one active (sliding) panel and one inactive (stationary) panel. A three-panel door has one active and two inactive panels. A four-panel door typically has two active panels in the middle and two inactive panels on the outside.

Roll Roofing

  • Less expensive than shingles.
  • Used on lower-slope roofs or as a supplement to shingles.
  • Comes with either a smooth or mineral-covered surface on a heavy felt base that has been saturated with asphalt and then coated on both sides with more asphalt.
  • Easy to install.
  • A typical roll roofing, known as 90-lb. granule-coated, will cover 100 square feet.
  • A 45-lb. smooth roofing, without granules, will also cover 100 square feet.
  • A properly applied roll roofing should last from 10 to 20 years.

Shower Stall

  • Some units come in one piece, mainly for new construction or major remodels.
  • Some units come in multiple pieces that snap or caulk together to be a leak free.
  • Easy to clean and some manufacturers claim they will not chip, crack or peel.
  • Don’t forget caulk.

Bow and Bay Window

  • A bay window is made of three windows: one large unit in the middle and two flanking windows that are usually placed at 30- to 45-degree angles.
  • A bow window is made of four or more windows that, all together, form a shape that curves outward. It looks like a bay window, but is free of sharp angles.

Storm Window

  • Sometimes called combination windows because they combine the functions of storm and screen windows.
  • Typically made of aluminum
  • Easy to install and usually attached directly to the exterior casing surrounding the window.
  • The single-track type consists of a piece of glass in a lightweight sash, fixed permanently in a nail-on frame.
  • The dual-track style has a glazed sash and screen. The glazed sash is in the top half of the outer track and the screen is in the lower half. Another glazed sash in the inside track covers the screen and can be raised to uncover the screen for ventilation.
  • The triple-track storm window has two glazed sash and a screen panel, all in a separate track. This is best for second floor windows.

Floor/Wall Junction

  • The trim used where the floor and wall meet.
  • The most complete is a combination of a base, base shoe and a base cap on top. Often, just a base is used.
  • Another popular type is the quarter round.
  • Most types are available in many different widths, from 1/2” to over 5”.
  • Combination of pieces often depends on the type of flooring in the house or preference of the owner.
  • The base shoe looks like a quarter round molding, but is not. It is not an even length on both sides.

End Cap

  • Used to stop a run of gutter.

Water-Based Caulk

  • Latex CaulkGenerally referred to as latex caulks and sealants, water-based caulks are the easiest to work with because they apply easily, are paintable, have little odor and clean up with water.
  • Ideal curing conditions are warm (above 40 degrees), dry weather.
  • Effective for filling gaps in baseboard and trim, as well as for caulking around interior window and door frames.
  • Generally available in cartridges ranging from 10-12 oz. as well as convenient squeeze tubes ranging from 4 oz. to 6 oz.
  • Vinyl Latex Caulk usually effective for five years and is most effective on small cracks in baseboards and little gaps around windows. Vinyl latex is non-flammable and paintable but not very flexible. It hardens over time.
  • Acrylic Latex Caulk is a general-purpose caulk—more flexible than vinyl latex caulks. It is water-based, easy to apply, non-flammable and cleans with water. It adheres to most surfaces—best on wood and masonry—and it can be painted shortly after application. It is available in pigments that allow it to match many surfaces. It remains effective for 10 to 15 years. However, it is not recommended for an area that is subject to excessive water collection. It is flexible and it maintains that flexibility over time. It should not be applied in temperatures of less than 40° F.
  • Tub and Tile Caulk is a specialty performance caulk with added mildewcide to protect against mildew growth in the areas prone to moisture (kitchens, bathrooms). Some tub and tile caulks are more flexible and crack-resistant. Many formulations include adhesives that combine a sealant and adhesive in one. Like other latex caulks, they apply easily, are non-flammable, clean up with water, and are paintable and mildew resistant. They are available in a variety of colors.

Rust Remover

  • Cuts through and dissolves rust from metal surfaces to form a metal shield that can be painted.
  • In jellied form, it clings well to vertical surfaces.
  • When brushed on, the rust dissolves quickly.
  • These products are extremely harsh on the skin; protective gloves should be worn.
  • The solution is applied with a stiff brush or aerosol spray and allowed to dry for 12 to 24 hours, depending on humidity (check manufacturer labeling and literature).
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Electrical & Lighting Terms (80)

Fuse Puller

  • Used to remove cartridge-type fuses.

Fluorescent Fixture

  • Used to house fluorescent lamps, and can be rectangular or round.
  • The rapid start type has a starter (a small aluminum barrel that is a type of automatic switch) and ballast in one piece and turns on the instant the switch is flipped.
  • The starter type has a small ballast and a starter and will flicker for a moment before turning fully on.
  • The instant type turns on after a momentary pause.
  • Fluorescent lights are less expensive to operate than incandescent, and most of the parts are replaceable.

Wire

  • Different than cable. Cable refers to two or more wires or conductors grouped together in a jacket.
  • Copper or tinned copper is the most common conductor in home wiring because it has minimum resistance at reasonable cost.
  • Wire is grouped by gauge number, running from 0000 to No. 40. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire. For home use, the most common gauges are between 10 and 20.
  • Larger wire carries more current. Forcing too much current through a wire will cause it to overheat and trip a breaker.
  • Wire is also characterized by letters that correspond to the insulation type and electrical capacity.
  • Grounding wire provides a path of least resistance from the frame or case of an appliance to the ground to guard against electric shocks. Both two- and three-conductor cables can carry grounding wires.

Plastic Conduit

  • Easy to use.
  • Use inside and outside.
  • Best for burying underground as it will not corrode with water.

Heavy-Duty Battery

  • Short life and best used for low-drain applications such as remote controls and wall clocks.

Wire Nuts

  • Used to connect the bare ends of two wires inside a box. At least two are required at every circuit connection.
  • Available in a variety of sizes and colors.
  • Connects wires with a twisting action.

Track Lighting

  • A system of movable lights wired to a metal track that makes a great accent lighting choice for living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.
  • Available in many colors, sizes and shapes, is easy to install and flexible since the lights can be moved around and repositioned.

Cable

  • Refers to a collection of two or more strands of wire or conductors.
  • Basically, cable has a “hot” line to carry the current and a “neutral” line to complete the loop. They often have a third wire as that acts as a grounding wire.
  • Classified according to the number of wires it contains and their size or gauge.
  • All cables are marked with a series of letters followed by a number, a dash and another number. The letters indicate the type of insulation (cord, wire and insulation). The first number indicates the resistance of the wires in the cable, and the number following the dash indicates the number of individual conductors in the cable.
  • If the designator “G” follows the series it means that the cable is also equipped with a non-current-carrying ground wire. Hence, the designator USE 12-3/G indicates an underground cable containing three separately insulated wires capable of carrying 20 amps of current plus a grounding wire.
  • The most common jackets are NM-B (Non-Metallic Building Indoor), UF-B (Underground Feed) and BX, which is flexible metallic cable.
  • Two-conductor cable contains one black wire and one white wire. The black wire is always the “hot” wire and must be fused. The white is always neutral and must never be fused. When current bridges the gap from the 110V hot wire to the neutral, it results in a 110V input to the appliance.
  • Three-conductor cable contains a red wire in addition to black and white. The black and red wires are “hot,” carrying 110V each, and both must be fused. The white remains neutral. This three-wire circuit is increasingly common in home wiring; it accommodates major 220V appliances, such as ranges and air conditioners.
  • BX cable is armored metallic cable. It consists of two or three insulated wires individually wrapped in spiral layers of paper. The steel casing acts as a ground wire. There is also a bond wire included in the casing that acts as a ground if the casing breaks.
  • Romex® cable is a flat, beige thermoplastic jacket surrounding two or three wires. Each wire is wrapped in insulation and a spiral paper tape. Type NM means it can be used indoors. Type NMC means it can be used indoors or outdoors. Type UF means it is suitable for use underground outdoors.

Greenfield Conduit

  • Also known as flex conduit.
  • A hollow spiral metal jacket that resembles BX cable.
  • Use for installing wiring in the home.

Rechargeable Battery

  • A commonly used type is the nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery.
  • Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are another alternative, and they outlast NiCd batteries by up to 40 percent.
  • Rechargeable batteries will lose their charge if not used for an extended period of time (30 to 60 days).
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Electrical FAQ's (92)

Why do some appliances and tools only have two prongs and no grounding prong?

These products are “double-insulated” and do not need the added protection of a grounding plug. You can plug them into ungrounded outlets and still be protected.

Do I need to buy a special bulb for my garage door opener?

It’s best to use a rough service bulb.

What is a ground fault (circuit) interrupter?

An electrical device that shuts off the power in case of a short.

Instead of using a grow lamp, will placing my plants under a regular fluorescent or incandescent lamp work?

It might, depending on the light. But it probably won’t be as effective. Different stages of plant growth require different light spectra. The initial growing stage requires a blue spectrum of light, whereas the later “flowering” stage is usually done with red–orange spectra. Manufacturers of grow light bulbs design them to product a specific light spectrum range and lumen output to create an ideal growing condition for starting plants.

I want to run a new wire to install some additional outlets. Do I have to run these wires through the wall?

You can use surface wire channels that allow you to run the wire on the outside of the wall and still maintain an attractive appearance.

I have some tools that have three prongs, but the outlet I want to use has only two prongs. Can I safely cut the extra prong off?

No, the third prong is the grounding prong. If you cut it off or use a plug adapter that is not grounded, you will disable a feature that is designed to protect against electrical shock.

What is the advantage of a halogen bulb?

It provides brighter, cleaner light. However, they consume lots of electricity and they get very hot. You should ensure that it stays away from draperies, bedding, clothing, and hanging plants.

What do numbers on electrical cable mean?

They refer to the number and types of wire inside the cable. For example, 14-2 means the cable has two 14-gauge wires inside. 12-3 G means the cable has three 12-gauge wires plus a bare ground wire.

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Encyclopedia-Terms (0)

Adhesive-Backed Foam Tape

  • Installed by pressing into position and sticking permanently.
  • Requires no nails or tools.
  • One type, pressure-sensitive sponge rubber tape, is suited for larger problem areas.
  • Another type, pressure-sensitive vinyl foam or felt, is for average sealing.
  • Closed-cell PVC foam compresses to fill irregular gaps and can be used outdoors.
  • Open-cell foam is for inside use only.
  • High-density foam is extremely durable and long lasting.

Sliding Door

  • Made with safety or insulated glass and comes with a screen for hot-weather use.
  • Low-E glass offers protection from ultraviolet rays and is more energy efficient than regular glass.
  • Frames may be wood, aluminum, fiberglass or PVC vinyl in a variety of finishes.
  • Aluminum patio doors are generally the least expensive as they are the least durable and energy efficient.
  • May be two-, three- or four-panels wide. A two-panel door has one active (sliding) panel and one inactive (stationary) panel. A three-panel door has one active and two inactive panels. A four-panel door typically has two active panels in the middle and two inactive panels on the outside.

Roll Roofing

  • Less expensive than shingles.
  • Used on lower-slope roofs or as a supplement to shingles.
  • Comes with either a smooth or mineral-covered surface on a heavy felt base that has been saturated with asphalt and then coated on both sides with more asphalt.
  • Easy to install.
  • A typical roll roofing, known as 90-lb. granule-coated, will cover 100 square feet.
  • A 45-lb. smooth roofing, without granules, will also cover 100 square feet.
  • A properly applied roll roofing should last from 10 to 20 years.

Shower Stall

  • Some units come in one piece, mainly for new construction or major remodels.
  • Some units come in multiple pieces that snap or caulk together to be a leak free.
  • Easy to clean and some manufacturers claim they will not chip, crack or peel.
  • Don’t forget caulk.

Bow and Bay Window

  • A bay window is made of three windows: one large unit in the middle and two flanking windows that are usually placed at 30- to 45-degree angles.
  • A bow window is made of four or more windows that, all together, form a shape that curves outward. It looks like a bay window, but is free of sharp angles.

Storm Window

  • Sometimes called combination windows because they combine the functions of storm and screen windows.
  • Typically made of aluminum
  • Easy to install and usually attached directly to the exterior casing surrounding the window.
  • The single-track type consists of a piece of glass in a lightweight sash, fixed permanently in a nail-on frame.
  • The dual-track style has a glazed sash and screen. The glazed sash is in the top half of the outer track and the screen is in the lower half. Another glazed sash in the inside track covers the screen and can be raised to uncover the screen for ventilation.
  • The triple-track storm window has two glazed sash and a screen panel, all in a separate track. This is best for second floor windows.

Floor/Wall Junction

  • The trim used where the floor and wall meet.
  • The most complete is a combination of a base, base shoe and a base cap on top. Often, just a base is used.
  • Another popular type is the quarter round.
  • Most types are available in many different widths, from 1/2” to over 5”.
  • Combination of pieces often depends on the type of flooring in the house or preference of the owner.
  • The base shoe looks like a quarter round molding, but is not. It is not an even length on both sides.

End Cap

  • Used to stop a run of gutter.

Water-Based Caulk

  • Latex CaulkGenerally referred to as latex caulks and sealants, water-based caulks are the easiest to work with because they apply easily, are paintable, have little odor and clean up with water.
  • Ideal curing conditions are warm (above 40 degrees), dry weather.
  • Effective for filling gaps in baseboard and trim, as well as for caulking around interior window and door frames.
  • Generally available in cartridges ranging from 10-12 oz. as well as convenient squeeze tubes ranging from 4 oz. to 6 oz.
  • Vinyl Latex Caulk usually effective for five years and is most effective on small cracks in baseboards and little gaps around windows. Vinyl latex is non-flammable and paintable but not very flexible. It hardens over time.
  • Acrylic Latex Caulk is a general-purpose caulk—more flexible than vinyl latex caulks. It is water-based, easy to apply, non-flammable and cleans with water. It adheres to most surfaces—best on wood and masonry—and it can be painted shortly after application. It is available in pigments that allow it to match many surfaces. It remains effective for 10 to 15 years. However, it is not recommended for an area that is subject to excessive water collection. It is flexible and it maintains that flexibility over time. It should not be applied in temperatures of less than 40° F.
  • Tub and Tile Caulk is a specialty performance caulk with added mildewcide to protect against mildew growth in the areas prone to moisture (kitchens, bathrooms). Some tub and tile caulks are more flexible and crack-resistant. Many formulations include adhesives that combine a sealant and adhesive in one. Like other latex caulks, they apply easily, are non-flammable, clean up with water, and are paintable and mildew resistant. They are available in a variety of colors.

Rust Remover

  • Cuts through and dissolves rust from metal surfaces to form a metal shield that can be painted.
  • In jellied form, it clings well to vertical surfaces.
  • When brushed on, the rust dissolves quickly.
  • These products are extremely harsh on the skin; protective gloves should be worn.
  • The solution is applied with a stiff brush or aerosol spray and allowed to dry for 12 to 24 hours, depending on humidity (check manufacturer labeling and literature).
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FAQs (0)

How often should I seal my asphalt driveway?

Depending on the product you use and the number of coats you apply, every 2 to 4 years should be adequate.

How big should the work triangle be?

Each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet long, with the total of length not more than 26 feet.

Does a fiberglass door have any advantages over a steel door?

A fiberglass door won’t dent, while a steel door might. The fiberglass door can also better simulate a wood grain appearance.

What is a “square” in roofing terms?

A square is 100 square feet of shingles on a roof. Shingles are typically sold in bundles and will tell you how many bundles it takes to make a square.

What kind of nail should I use to install wood siding?

Use a stainless steel nail, a high tensile strength aluminum nail or a hot-dipped galvanized nail. The nail should have a ring-threaded or spiral-threaded shank for improved holding power.

Can I install ceiling tile over any existing ceiling?

The existing ceiling must be in sound condition. Ceilings can be drywall, plaster, popcorn surfaces or open joists. A suspended ceiling may be installed anywhere there is a place to support the wire hangers.

After installing my new vinyl tile floor, how long should I wait to clean it?

Wait one week after installation before washing your new floor.

What is the fire resistance rating?

Drywall is not fire proof, but the fire resistance rating is the length of time a wall can withstand fire and serve as a barrier and keep it from spreading.

How do I keep plywood from splintering or chipping when I cut it?

First of all, you’ll want to use a blade designed for cutting plywood, usually with small teeth. If you are using a handheld circular saw, place the good face, the face you want to be seen, downward. If you are using a table saw, place the good face upward. This way, the only splintering occurs on the unseen face.

How do I maintain my redwood deck?

Redwood is stronger than other woods, so you can let it weather naturally and it is less likely to warp or split. It will weather to a natural gray color. To enhance the color of the wood and provide additional protection, use a finish that has a water repellent, a mildewcide and UV protection.

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Hand & Power Tools FAQ's (185)

Can I drill a hole in concrete?

Yes a high-speed masonry bit is used on concrete, concrete block, cinder block, brick and stone.

What are all the markings on my framing square used for?

They consist of rafter tables, which are used to figure lengths and cuts of rafters, and the Essex Board Measure table, which shows board measurements of almost all sizes of boards and timbers.

Do I need a special blade to cut plywood with my circular saw?

Yes, a plywood blade has small teeth that provide a clean cut and reduces splintering.

How do I select the right drill bit?

High speed steel is good for general purpose. Other metals such as titanium reduce friction and last longer. Cobalt is a good option for drilling in hard metals.

What else should I consider when buying staples?

The thickness of the material to be attached and the hardness of the wood. In hardwood, a ¼ inch penetration is sufficient, but softwood requires up to 3/8” penetration.

Is there one chisel that you can recommend to handle most household jobs?

No. Chisels are grouped according to the material they cut—either wood, metal, stone or masonry. The two main types, however, are wood and cold.

Are lawnmower blades specific to particular mowers?

Yes, you need to know the brand, width of the cut and whether it is a mulching mower. Some blades come with adapter kits that allow them to be used on different brands.

Does it matter what kind of blade I buy for my scroll saw?

There are different types of blades for different types of materials and cuts. Blades with larger numbers (7, 10, 12) are best for cutting thick materials. Blades with smaller numbers (0000, 00, 2) are best for cutting thin materials.

Should I buy a single- or a double-bit axe?

If you aren’t going to be using it very often, I would recommend a single-bit axe. It does the same job and it’s safer to use than a double-bit axe.

I am starting a tiling project and need to know what type of trowels to buy. Do you have any recommendations?

You will probably need several trowels, including a notched tiling trowel, a grout float and a margin trowel for mixing mortar. Be sure to buy the proper type of tiling trowel called for by the type of tile and mortar you are using.

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Hand Tools Terms (241)

Ball Peen (Ball Pein) Hammer

  • Ball Pein HammerUsed with cold chisels for riveting, center punching and forming unhardened metal work.
  • Striking face diameter should be about 3/8” larger than the diameter of the head of the object being struck.
  • Designed with a regular striking face on one end and a rounded or half ball on the other end instead of a claw.
  • Sizes range from 2 oz. to 48 oz. with 12 and 16 oz. the most popular.
  • Variations include a cross-peen hammer (with horizontal wedge-shaped face) and a straight-peen hammer (with vertical wedge-shaped face).

 

Thatching Rake

  • Used to remove thatch and dead grass from the lawn.
  • Pointed on one side for pulling and rounded on the other for pushing.
  • The wheeled version rolls along the ground. It digs as it is pushed forward and cleans itself of debris as it is pulled backwards.
  • The half-moon version does not have wheels. The user drags it along the ground. The pull stroke digs up the thatch, while the push stroke cleans.

Flat File

  • Rectangular-shaped file with a single set of teeth used for general sharpening of metal objects.
  • Common types include millflat and hand, depending on thickness and the taper.
  • A flat double-cut file is commonly used to sharpen mower and axe blades where a mill bastard file is commonly used to sharpen shovel blades.
  • A hand single-cut file is used for more precise smoothing and for deburring metal and plastic.

Straight Snips

  • Also called regular snips.
  • Used for all straight-line cutting jobs.
  • Cutting edges are sharpened at 78 degree to 85 degree angles.
  • Range in size from 7” to 16” in length.

 

Wallcovering Scoring Tool

  • Hand tool that perforates existing wallpaper so remover solution can penetrate and attack dried paste.
  • Generally has a round handle and rotating scoring blades that are randomly run across wallpaper.

Compression Sprayer

  • Most popular type of sprayer.
  • Also known as a pump sprayer or pressure sprayer.
  • When the sprayer is pumped, air pressure builds in the tank and forces the spray material through the hose, valve, wand and nozzle.
  • The nozzle adjusts spray pattern and the wand facilitates spraying under leaves and other hard-to-reach places.
  • Can be carried by hand, over the shoulder or mounted on a caddy.
  • Do not use galvanized steel sprayers for strong acidic solutions.
  • Plastic sprayers resist corrosion, are lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Typically available in 1- to 5-gallon capacities.

Bull Float

  • Used by concrete finishers to float large areas of concrete.
  • The most popular sizes are between 42″ and 48″ long and are 8″ wide.
  • Handle sections either 5′ or 6′ long can be joined together so that a finisher can reach out 15′ to 20′ over a slab.

Vacuum Vise

  • Light-duty vise that has a lever-operated suction cup on the bottom to secure to tabletop or other work surface.

Bar Clamp

  • Has a clamping device built on a flat bar, which is usually made of steel.
  • The length of the bar determines the capacity of the clamp, which is the dimension of the largest object that can be accommodated between its clamping jaws.
  • “Reach” is the distance from the edge of the bar to the end of the clamping jaws.
  • Screw pressure applies the final clamping load.
  • Bar clamps are used for clamping large objects, making them popular with woodworkers and hobbyists.

Splitting Wedge

  • Tool used to finish splitting wood when struck with splitting maul after a starting notch is made.
  • Made of steel, aluminum and plastic.
  • Steel wedges are forged from a solid piece of high-carbon steel and may be heat-treated.
  • Aluminum and plastic wedges are designed primarily for use with chain saws and crosscut saws to hold the kerf apart to prevent binding.
  • Wedges should be struck with a sledge or woodchopper’s maul having a larger striking face than the head of the wedge.
  • Never strike the steel wedge with the cutting edge of the maul.
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Hardware & Fasteners Terms (109)

Threaded Rod

  • Rod with continuous thread from one end to the other.
  • Available in different diameters.
  • Used where extra-long bolts are required.
  • Can be bent to make U-bolts, eye bolts and J-bolts.

 

Lag Screw Shield

  • Used inside drilled holes to provide anchors in the hole for lag bolts as they are wrenched into the shield.
  • As the screw enters the shield, the shield expands and grips the interior.
  • Horizontal fins prevent the shield from turning in the hole while tapered ribs ease insertion and ensure against slips.

Clevis Hook

  • Attaches directly to a welded chain.
  • Used as a temporary chain connector.
  • Eliminates the need for an additional attachment or fitting.
  • The Slip Hook type looks like a large fishhook.
  • The Grab Hook type has a narrower opening.

Cable Tie

  • One-piece bands with self-locking catches or heads on one end.
  • Available in different widths and lengths to accommodate various bundle diameter sizes.
  • Used on anything that needs to be tied up, tied down or held in place.
  • Natural, colored and fluorescent ties are used indoors while UV (sunlight resistant) black ties are used outdoors.
  • Mounting bases can be used with standard cable ties to fix wire bundles to support structures or other surfaces. Bases are adhesive-backed for quick anchoring and contain molded knockout screw holes for extra power.
  • Use cable tie tools to make the use of cable ties easier.

Drawer Slide

  • The monorail type uses a single track under the center of the drawer with drawer rollers on the left and right side. It is easy to install because it requires minimum measuring and templates. It is low in cost and fits both new and old installations.
  • The side-mounting type uses four tracks, one attached to each side or bottom of the drawer and one on both the left and right sides of the cabinet. It has rollers on which the drawer rides.
  • Some types of slides are self-closing. They close when the drawer comes to within 4” to 5” of the back, regardless of the load or its position in the drawer.
  • Quality slides permit little side movement, prevent accidental drawer pullout, have high-quality rollers and are precision-made to close tolerances.

Threshold

  • A strip fastened to the floor beneath a door.
  • It usually covers the joint where two types of floor material meet.
  • Can be made of metal, aluminum or wood.
  • It may have a rubber strip in the center to aid in weatherproofing.
  • An astragal is a molding or strip that covers or closes the gap between the edges of a pair of doors. Some types overlap while others meet at the centerline of the gap.

Finish Nail

  • Used around windows, finishing areas, trim and paneling where nails cannot show.
  • Small head size allows the nail to be driven beneath the wood surface so the hole can be filled and finished.
  • Similar to a casing nail, but the casing nail is heavier.

Machine Bolt

  • Comes with regular, square, hex, button or countersunk heads.
  • Square heads fasten joints and materials where bolt requirements are not too severe.
  • Button heads work best where smooth surfaces are necessary.
  • Use countersunk heads for flush surfaces.

 

Sleeve Anchor

  • Has a steel sleeve on the shank, split at the bottom so it can expand.
  • The bolt has a cone-shaped plug at the base and a nut at the top.
  • When the user places the anchor in the hole and tightens the nut, it draws the bolt upward, pulling the plug into the sleeve and expanding it against the hole.

Plumber’s Chain

  • A weldless, stamped, flat link chain.
  • Used to attach plumbing fixtures and for general utility purposes.
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Hardware FAQ's (78)

What type of stud finder should I buy?

There are two different types, including electronic and magnetic stud finders. Electronic stud finders measure the capacitance in the wall, which is the amount of electrical charge that ma material is able to absorb. This measurement is higher when an electronic stud finder is moved over the wall where a stud is located. Magnetic stud finders, on the other hand, are powerful rare earth magnets that detect a metal screw or nail fastened to the stud. They’re easy to use and they never need batteries, but they are only as accurate as the screw or nail fasted to the stud.

What is a lag bolt?

It is basically a large wood screw (with a pointed tip) and a hex head.

What is the difference between a common nail and a smooth box nail?

The common nail is thicker even though they have the same length.

How do I hang a picture?

The best method is to use a picture-hanging kit designed for the weight of your picture. In most cases, it’s best to double hook it so that all the weight is not suspended in one area.

I have a hole in my screen. Can I repair it or do I need to replace it?

You can patch small holes—those ¼” and 3/8”—with a small amount of household cement. This glue patch will be next to invisible. Larger holes up to about 3 inches in diameter in aluminum screen can usually be easily patched. A patch should go at least ½” to 1” larger all around the hole. These are either kits or just pieces of screen. Unravel a number of strands and then weave the strands through the screening and bend them tight. Plastic patches need a touch of household cement on the ends of the strands after they have been woven through.

I want to hang a picture without a stud support. What type of anchor should I use?

The different types of hollow wall anchors are rated to hold different weights. In general, expanding plastic sleeve anchors can usually only hold up to 20 lbs. Molly bolts are usually rated to hold up to 50 lbs., while toggle bolts can hold up to 100 lbs. Keep in mind, however, that even toggle bolts can’t support as much weight as a fastener driven into a wall stud or solid wood blocking in the wall.

What is the meaning of USS and SAE as it pertains to bolts?

USS are coarse threads, while SAE refers to fine threads.

What is the advantage of a cement coated nail?

Friction heat from driving the nail softens the cement coating and causes the nail to adhere to wood more firmly.

I need to repair a loose railing that is anchored in cement.

To repair the hole in the cement where the anchor is, use a special anchoring cement that is quick setting and is stronger than concrete.

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Heating & Cooling FAQ's (61)

Will these higher-quality air filters last longer?

Actually, since they catch more particulates they typically last a shorter amount of time. Always check the manufacture’s recommendations.

What R-value should I use?

The Department of Energy recommends R-values based on the type of fuel used and where you live. Generally, attics in homes heated by gas or oil in most southern locations should use R-19. For an electrically heated home in the same area, the recommendation is R-30. The minimum recommendation for homes in the coldest climates, regardless of heating method, is R-49.

How do I know how much loose-fill insulation to buy to insulate my atttic?

First measure the attic floor area, and then divide that by 1,000. For example, if the dimensions are 30’ x 40’, or 1,200 square feet, you divide that number by 1,000 and get 1.2. The label on the bag of insulation will tell you how many bags you need to cover 1,000 square feet. Multiply that number by 1.2.

Why should I use distilled water with my humidifier?

Certain types of humidifiers such as the ultrasonic humidifier should be used with distilled water. If not, the humidifier could leave a sticky, white dust around the house. It could also contribute to elevated levels of bacteria residue and mold particles in the air.

How often should I change my furnace filter?

Normal time periods are one month to three months.

How can I keep my insulation in the attic from spilling over onto the soffit vent?

Use a baffle in each rafter cavity that contains a soffit vent.

How do I clean my air cleaner?

Remove the intake grill and wash with warm, soapy water. Do not place in a dishwasher. Make sure it is dry before returning it to the unit. Dust the outlet grille; do not clean it with water.

How large of a humidifier should I buy?

There are three main sizes of humidifiers. The portable type, or tabletop style, is intended to service a single room. The console humidifiers can output from six to 13 gallons of water per day, enough for several rooms. An in-duct humidifier can be installed in a forced-air heating system.

What is the advantage of the higher priced air filters for furnaces?

They take out smaller particulates that are circulating in the air.

Why do I need both soffit vents and a ridge vent?

A properly balanced vent system consists of two types of vents. Intake vents are placed along the soffit to allow fresh air into the attic. Exhaust vents are installed in the upper third of the roof to allow attic air to escape. With a properly vented system, the air in the attic should completely change every six minutes.

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Heating & Cooling Terms (56)

Outdoor Fireplace

  • Portable, wood or wood-pellet burning heat source that can be used at home, on the patio or on the camping trip.
  • Some can also be used as a grill.
  • Some styles are enclosed and vent through the sides while others may include a chimney.
  • Another variation is the firepit, which is bowl-shaped.

Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

  • Cools, circulates, filters and dehumidifies the air.
  • Ranges in size from small units with a cooling capacity of 5,000 BTUs (enough to cool a small room) to capacities as high as 12,500 BTUs.
  • It is important that you choose the right size of air conditioner. An oversize unit will cool but leave a damp and clammy feeling because of high relative humidity. An undersized unit will not operate effectively on very hot days.
  • Select by BTU rating, not horsepower. BTU is the actual cooling capacity of the unit.
  • Determine the efficiency of the unit by dividing the watt rating into the BTU output. The unit must have an energy efficiency rating (EER) of at least 9.7 for models under 8,000 BTU/hr and 9.8 for larger models. The most efficient models have an EER of 11 and higher. Each model should have its EER clearly marked.
  • Most models should include window-mounting kits. Kits include sill brackets for extra support of the unit and side vents to ensure an airtight fit in the window.
  • Make sure the unit is designed for the type of window you have. Most are designed for double-hung windows, but some are made or casement windows or for in-wall installation.

Ionizer Air Cleaner

  • Use an ionizer to clean air by charging molecules of air, which helps make indoor air more refreshing.
  • Ionizer technology in an air cleaner can also reduce static electricity and improve the filter’s efficiency.

Vented Gas Log

  • Requires a venting system and a smoke dome or chimney, installed on the roof.
  • Operate at a range of 60,000 to 90,000 BTUs and loose heat as they require the chimney damper to be open.
  • Made of high-temperature, heat-resistant ceramic or cement in a variety of finishes.
  • Place directly on the fire grate or lay on a flame pan covered with a bed of volcanic granules for a more realistic looking fire.
  • Requires no electricity to operate.
  • Fits into fireplaces with a gas hookup and can be installed into any UL-listed, solid fuel burning fireplace.

Gas Stove

  • Ideal for those with little space to store wood or with the time to maintain a wood stove. Also better for heating smaller areas.
  • Uses natural gas so it is a reliable heat source when the power goes out.
  • Flame height and heat intensity is easily adjustable.
  • The direct vent type is ideal for homes without an existing chimney.

Portable Air Conditioner

  • Used to cool a small space, usually 400 to 450 square feet.
  • Mounted on wheels for easy movement from room to room.
  • Contains both the hot and cold side of the air conditioner in one unit. Is not permanently installed, but must be connected to some place like a window where the hot air can be vented. Most models contain window-venting kits that are easy to install and easily moved from one window to another.
  • May be either single or dual vent. Dual vent models circulate clean air back into the room and generally cool more quickly than single vent models.
  • Drip models have a tray that will need to be emptied every 24-48 hours. No-drip models may cost more but do not produce any excess moisture.

Fiberglass Filter

  • Designed to protect the heating and air conditioning system from large particles, heavy dust and lint.
  • Protects furnace from larger particles and lint that enter the HVAC system.
  • Most common type of filter.
  • Fibers are not dense or electrostatically charged, so they cannot attract and capture smaller-sized particles.
  • This type of filter should be changed at least once a month.
  • Most common size for all furnace/AC filters are 20”x 20”, 20”x 25”, 16”x 20”, 16”x 25” and 14”x 25″.

 

Gas Fireplace

  • Uses natural or LP gas.
  • Burns either natural or LP gas to provide primary or secondary heat to a home.
  • Conventional models require a venting system and a smoke dome or chimney installed through the roof.
  • Newer gas fireplaces can be vented through the wall using a power vent.
  • Built-in units require no special flooring or hearth front.
  • Can be converted to a wood-burning fireplace.

Chimney Cleaner

  • Cleans creosote, a potential fire hazard, out of chimneys.
  • Soot destroyers can be used in wood- gas- coal or oil-burning fireplaces. They come in a powdered form, cylindrical sticks or aerosol spray cans. They are sprinkled on hot fires.
  • Creosote removers, a second type, crystallize creosote in wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. They are available in powder form and are to be sprinkled on cool fires.
  • Round wire brushes are another type of cleaner. Use them in wood burning, airtight stoves and fireplace chimneys.

Window Fan

  • Uses less energy than air conditioning and contains no chlorofluorocarbons.
  • Brings fresh air into the room while expelling hot air.
  • Typical size is 20”.
  • Larger window fans require mounting kits and side panels. The panels support the fan and prevent air from circulating around and back into the fan, resulting in a loss of performance.
  • Smaller units are easiest to install, as they come with the panels attached to the fan.
  • Used to intake and exhaust, for bringing inside air into a room or expelling inside air out of a room. Better models have electrical reversibility, which allows the user to switch from exhaust to intake without turning the fan around.
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Home Security FAQ's (38)

Do you have multiple door locks that require only one key?

Some locks come in pairs that use the same key.

Do I need to worry about carbon monoxide in my home?

If you have a gas or oil furnace, dryer, refrigerator, water heater, space heater, fireplace, wood stove or gas range, then you need to be concerned. These can all be sources of carbon monoxide gas.

I’ve bypassed the doorbell button, and the doorbell still did not work. What’s the most likely problem?

Check the transformer. You will have to find it. It might be in the attic, but it can be anywhere, you just need to trace the wire. If it makes a humming sound when the button is pushed, your problem is probably the chime. If it doesn’t make a sound, I would change the transformer to see if that’s the problem.

What’s the difference between a ionization and a photoelectric smoke detector and where should they be used?

A photoelectric fire alarm is designed to detect a smoldering fire more quickly than an ionization smoke detector will. It should be used in rooms where there is a lot a carpet and upholstery, such in in living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. Ionization smoke detectors are designed to detect flaming fires, that are more likely to start in kitchens and garages.

My doorbell doesn’t work; do you know what’s wrong with it?

There are three components to the doorbell, the button, the transformer and the bell itself. First, look for any loose wires throughout the system. If all the wires are connected, test the doorbell button by removing it and touching the two wires together. If this makes the doorbell work, you have a bad button that it easily replaced.

Where should I install carbon monoxide detectors in the home?

The safest recommendation is to put one in every room, but most people are not willing to do this. The simplest rule is to mount one between the bedrooms and the rest of the house, but closer to the bedrooms. If there is more than one sleeping area, each should have its own alarm. In multi-level homes, install one on each level, and if possible have them interconnected so any one unit will sound the alarm throughout the house. The basement ceiling, near the steps, is a good location for extra protection.

My dusk to dawn light doesn’t go off and remains on all day. Do I need to replace it?

First find the sensor and see if it is being obscured by something. If not, you can probably just replace this sensor.

What are the different types of smoke detectors?

Thermal smoke detectors detect heat only. Ionization smoke detectors respond particularly well to smoke caused by flaming fires. Photoelectric smoke detectors detect smoldering fires but react slowly to flaming fires.

What kind of security system do I need to protect my doors and windows?

A perimeter system protects the doors and windows while an area alarm has a motion detector that protects entire rooms.

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Home Security Terms (35)

Continuous Monitor Radon Detector

  • Plugs into a standard outlet.
  • Samples air continuously for radon and provides updated reading on the display.
  • Alarm sounds when the long-term average of radon level passes an acceptable level.
  • Alarm will be repeated until the radon level drops back to the accepted level.

Dummy Knob

  • Used only for decoration or applications that do not need a latch.
  • Has no latching mechanism and does not turn.
  • Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

  • Detects carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that poses a potentially deadly health risk to people.
  • Measures the amount of carbon monoxide over time and sounds an alarm before people would experience symptoms.
  • Operates on batteries or can be plugged in.
  • Some models provide a running digital readout of CO levels.
  • Hard-wired or plug-in models typically use some type of solid-state sensor, which purges itself and resamples the air periodically. That cycle increases the power demand.
  • Battery-powered detectors typically use a passive sensor. They will operate even in case of a power failure.
  • Available in combination units that have CO and smoke detectors in the same unit.

Privacy Lockset

  • An interior lockset.
  • Designed for privacy rather than for security.
  • Has a locking button on the inside knob but no key device on the outside knob.
  • Can be either a knob or a lever.
  • In an emergency, the lock can be opened from the outside by inserting a narrow object through the small hole in the outside knob and either depressing or turning the locking mechanism inside, depending on the type of lock.
  • Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

Thermal Fire Detector

  • Used primarily by large commercial firms.
  • The alarm sounds when the temperature rises to a certain level.
  • Most are also triggered by a quick rise in temperature even if an extreme temperature is not reached.
  • Not as safe as other types of fire detectors as fire usually must be intense before the thermal unit will sound.

Passage Lockset

  • An interior lockset used inside the home in hallways or closets between rooms where privacy is not important.
  • Has two, non-locking knobs, one on each side of the door. Some models use levers instead of knobs.
  • Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

Photoelectric Fire Detector

  • Uses a small lamp adjusted to direct a narrow light beam across the detection chamber. Smoke entering the chamber scatters this light beam, causing it to hit a sensor and set off the alarm.
  • Usually more sensitive to smoke from a slow, smoldering fire than an ionization detector, but reacts less quickly to flaming fires.
  • Available in both battery-operated and plug-in versions.

Trailer Lock

  • Used to secure standing trailers by rendering the towing device inoperable.
  • Locks cover or fill the coupler socket so it cannot be mounted on a ball.

Ionization Fire Detector

  • Measures the changes in electric current caused by invisible particles ionized in the heat of combustion.
  • Transforms air inside the detector into a conductor of electric current. When smoke enters the detector and impedes the flow of current, the alarm sounds.
  • Responds particularly well to the smoke caused by a flaming fire.
  • Requires little power and is effectively powered by household batteries.
  • Slower to respond to a smoldering fire.
  • Detectors are required to emit a low warning when batteries are weak.

Gun Lock

  • Fits over the trigger housing of guns to prevent firing of the weapon.
  • Some models have a sound alarm to warn that the gun is being tampered with.
  • Some have tamper-evident devices to alert owners that the gun has been disturbed.
  • Some models can lock multiple guns at once.
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Lawn & Garden FAQ's (154)

When do I apply a post-emergent herbicide?

These are used on weeds that are actively growing, and should be applied in mid spring. Another excellent time is in early fall.

When is the best time to apply fertilizer?

Every 4-6 weeks beginning in February.

What is a soaker hose?

It is a hose that is blocked at the end and moisture seeps through its walls. It can be woven through a garden to provide water directly onto the soil.

What size of string do I need to buy for my string trimmer?

This varies greatly. You either need to bring in your old string or know what brand and model you have. If you don’t know, we can make a guess. If we are right, you won’t have to come back. If you have an electric trimmer its probably .064 and if you have a gas trimmer is most likely .080.

Do you have anything that can clear an outside area of flying insects?

There are electric insect foggers and for smaller areas there are outdoor foggers that come in an aerosol can.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of organic fertilizers?

The word “organic” simply means that the nutrients contained in the product are derived from a once-living organism. Most are high in just one of the three major nutrients and low in the other two. Their major advantage is adding bulk to the soil. Except for manure, the organics generally release their nutrients over a fairly long period. However, the potential drawback is that they may not release enough of their principal nutrient at a time to give a plant what it needs for best growth. Because they depend on soil organisms to break them down, most organic fertilizers are effective only when the soil is moist and warm.

What’s the difference between a plug-type aerator and a spike-type aerator and which one should I use?

A plug-type aerator actually pulls plugs out of the ground so air and moisture can get into the soil. A spike-type aerator punches holes in the ground without removing the dirt. If you have a serious problem with compacted soil, the plug-type aerator is best. A spike aerator is best for small areas or for minor aeration problems.

How much should I water my newly planted tree?

Regular watering is vital to a new tree’s health. New trees need at least 1” of water per week, whether it’s by irrigation or from rainfall.

When should I plant flower bulbs?

Planting times vary, but as a general rule, earlier in the fall is better than later. Bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, where you might not want to distribute seed or fertilizer. But it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

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Lawn and Garden Terms (144)

Cooking Grate

cooking grate

Cooking grates are used in grills. This is what the food is placed on so that it doesn’t fall into the fire/burners. Some grills have multiple shelving options for food that needs to be close to or away from the heat.

Shrub Rake

  • Used to rake around small plants and shrubs.
  • The flexible tines may have a straight or rounded edge.

Edger

  • Available in gas-powered or electric versions.
  • A wheel rolls along the ground as a guide while an adjustable blade edges sidewalks and trims around trees.
  • Some models feature padded handles and a vibration reduction system to reduce the strain on the user.
  • Other features include a skid plate to protect the blade gearbox, a debris deflector on the blade and a start/stop control on the handle.

Humus

  • A brown or black organic substance consisting of decayed vegetable matter that provides nutrients for plants and improves the water retention of soil.

Broadcast Spreader

  • Also called a rotary spreader.
  • Quick, efficient way to spread seed, fertilizer, weed and pest control or ice melt.
  • Has a hopper on a metal cart. The broadcast platform turns as the wheels move across the yard.
  • Used for larger lawns.
  • Feathers the spread of seed, eliminating sharply defined edges of spread.
  • Best for use in lawns that do not have flower beds or gardens in the middle, since it spreads material in all directions.
  • Includes flow setting to adjust for all sizes of seed and granules.
  • Hopper capacity varies with model.

Hose Connector

  • Used to link garden hose and watering devices to the home water source, to connect sections of hose and to provide linkage for sprinkling devices.
  • Usually made of plastic or brass.
  • Some have a built-in shutoff valve.
  • A Y connector is another type that attaches to the water supply to control two hoses at the same time.

Garden Hoe

  • Prepares soil for planting.
  • Also used for weeding.
  • Typical blade width is 6”.

Garden Spade

  • Has a square point blade usually about 7” wide and 12” long.
  • Has a D handle.
  • Some have a rolled shoulder on the top of the blade so the user can.

Gate Hardware

  • A variety of latches, pulls, hinges and locking bolts are designed specifically for use on gates.
  • Types of latches include sliding bolt locks, magnetic, thumb action or padlock.
  • Hinges are usually reversible for use on left or right-swinging gates.
  • They come in tee, strap and hook-and-strap configurations.
  • Anti-sag kits are available that eliminate gate sag.
  • Usually constructed of heavy-gauge steel or with a tough polymer housing that is rust-free.
  • Ornamental hardware is often finished in black. Other types may be zinc-coated.

Zoysia Grass

  • Planted by plugs.
  • Adapted to sunny areas in warmer parts of the Midwest.
  • Surface runners make a dense mat, which reduces weeds and crabgrass.
  • Turns brown slowly in mid-fall and remains dormant until mid-spring.
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Paint & Decorating FAQ's (80)

Is there a good time to paint outside?

Always check the paint can for specific recommendations. But for general guidelines, you want the paint to dry evenly, so try to paint in the shade and when the temperature is between 60 degrees and below 90 degrees. Also, avoid windy days because they might make the paint dry too quickly or blow debris onto your wet paint.

Can I paint my aluminum siding

? Yes, it needs to be cleaned and rinsed well. Then, it needs to be scuffed up and primed with a special primer. It can then be painted with a premium acrylic latex house paint.

How do I recognize a good paint?

Paint has three components: the binder, the pigment and the liquid. The best paints contain a higher volume of solid materials. Pay close attention to the solid content. For example, a $13 gallon of paint with a solid content of 19 percent might cover about 200 square feet, while a $20 gallon of paint with 41 percent solid content will cover about twice that amount. The binder is the most important factor in the durability. Some paints also have additives to enhance their performance, such as mildewcide.

What is the difference between a wood stain and a varnish?

A wood stain is used to change the appearance of the wood, such as to bring out the definition in the wood grain or match the look of another species of wood. Semi-transparent stains provide a color to the wood, but still allow the texture and natural grain to show through. Solid-color stains allow the texture to show, but not the grain. Varnish, which may be water- or oil-based, provides a clear, transparent coating that is durable and hard. Varnishes also come in a variety of shines from flat to high gloss, and they may be water or oil based.

Should I use a natural bristle brush with a latex paint?

No. Just remember that humid weather can make someone’s hair turn frizzy. Water-based paints do the same thing to natural-bristle brushes, so you will want to use a synthetic brush with latex paint.

Once I mix the epoxy base with the hardener, when can I start painting the floor?

It varies by manufacturer, but some of the more common products require a 30 minute set up time minimum before using. They, you have 2½ hours to use it or the product must be discarded.

Can I paint the vinyl siding on my house?

Some experts don’t recommend painting vinyl siding because it expands and contracts. Some siding manufacturers void their warranties if the siding is painted. However, if you decide to paint it, make sure that you clean it well with a strong cleanser such as TSP. Make sure it is also rinsed off. Don’t use a primer and use a premium 100 percent acrylic latex paint that is a light shade to prevent the siding from warping.

How much of an area will a gallon of paint cover?

For many paints, a gallon will cover 400 square feet. However, the quality of the paint can affect how much it will cover. The label on the paint can usually provides some guidance.  In addition, there are a number of factors that affect how much paint you will need. These include the type of surface being covered, the color currently on the surface and the color being applied.

What’s the best way to apply varnish?

The best type of room is one that is not too humid and is about 70 to 75 degrees. To protect against debris from getting onto the finished piece, the room should be free from dust. You might even consider mopping the room or covering the floor with paper. Make sure that the surface to be varnished is clean, dry and free of any finishes.Try to have the piece horizontal. In addition, to mix the varnish, stir it. Don’t shake it, because air bubbles can get into your finished piece.

What are the quality features in a good roller?

Good roller frames have a compression-type cage, which is also convenient, because their covers can be removed quickly and easily. Also, look for a handle that has a threaded end so you can use an extension pole for painting floors and ceilings.

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Paint & Decorating Terms (82)

Aluminum Paint

  • Is a paint with aluminum blended with a resin base.
  • For interior and exterior use on heated surfaces, such as ovens, barbecue grills, mufflers and other surfaces that are exposed to high heat.
  • It works equally well on almost any surface and may be brushed or sprayed. Colors become more intense with age.
  • Aluminum paint can be used on all interior and exterior metal or wood surfaces, or applied to metal flashing, gutters, downspouts, tools, tool sheds, patio furniture, pipes, mailboxes, fences, etc.
  • Do not apply aluminum paint during freezing temperatures; paint should dry at least overnight before recoating.

 

Tack Cloth

  • A varnish-impregnated, open-mesh cloth that picks up and holds loose dirt, lint, sand and other foreign particles adhering to wood, metal, plaster and other surfaces.
  • Used to clean surfaces immediately before applying each coat and between sanding.

Rag Rolling Applicator

  • Used with rag rolling technique to achieve effects similar to crushed velvet, parchment, chamois leather, watered silk or brocade.
  • As with sponging, ragging begins with application of a coat of paint in a solid color and allowing it to dry. A crumpled cloth is then used to add glaze in another color.
  • To rag-roll, a cloth is rolled into a sausage shape of varying tightness, then lightly dipped into the glaze and rolled gently across the base coat.
  • Ragging and rag-rolling results vary according to the cloth material used. Linen, lace and burlap are common choices, but almost any material will do if it is clean and free of lint.
  • Can also be used with a negative method, which involves applying a base coat, then a glaze coat. A rag is then rolled over the glaze to remove some of it before it has a chance to dry, partially exposing the color of the base coat.

Plaster of Paris

  • Is a quick-setting white powder used to repair wallboard, plaster walls and ceilings, set bathroom wall fixtures—towel racks, soap dishes, etc.—and for art projects.
  • It usually hardens within 30 minutes.
  • No more water than necessary should be added; when water evaporates, the plaster shrinks.

Airless Paint Sprayer

  • Used when painting large areas with the same color or painting intricate surfaces such as furniture or grillwork where other tools will not reach all surfaces.
  • Airless sprayers eject paint at high pressure. An electric airless paint system consists of a paint container, high-pressure pump, motor, handle and housing and pressure regulator. Extension nozzles, longer suction tubes, extra nozzles and viscosity measuring cups are optional accessories.
  • Choice of spraying tip depends on paint consistency, but generally the thinner the paint, the smaller the tip needed. Paint consistency also governs pump pressure. Thinner materials such as stains, lacquers, enamels and sealers require less pressure than heavier materials such as house and wall paint.
  • Paints that have been formulated for brush or roller application may be too thick for spraying. They should be tested first and thinned if necessary.

Epoxy Paint

  • Is primarily for bare or previously finished wood and concrete floors. It penetrates rapidly and can be applied with a brush or mop.
  • Adheres to most surfaces and is especially good for doors, cabinets, trim and furniture—any interior wood surface where a clear-gloss, easy-to-clean finish is desired.
  • Resists detergent, oil and alkali, but may lose gloss and chalk under exposure to sun and weather.
  • Epoxy finishes are formulated in one- or two-part systems.
  • Two-part epoxies come in kits containing equal size cans and contents are mixed; they are more chemical- and abrasion- resistant than one-component epoxies.

 

Paintbrush Comb

  • Used to clean paint and other coatings out of paintbrushes.
  • Simply run comb through paint brush filaments while running under warm water or while soaking in solvent-based cleaners for oil-based paints.

Natural Sea Sponge

  • Used with sponging technique to apply paint and glaze to the surface to give a mottled look.
  • Process begins with application of a coat of paint in a solid color. Once this coat is dry, the damp sponge is then used to add glaze in another color.
  • One line of sponges comes with a plastic handle that can be removed as well as a smaller trim sponge for corners.
  • Can also be used with a negative method, which involves applying a base coat, then a glaze coat. A sponge is then used to remove some of the glaze before it has a chance to dry, partially exposing the color of the base coat.

Patching Plaster

  • Is a fast-setting powder ready to use by adding water.
  • It dries hard to uniform, white color.
  • It repairs and covers large holes and deep cracks in plaster walls and ceilings.
  • Patching plaster may be drilled, sanded and painted and can be textured to match existing surface.

Corner Pad

  • A corner pad is a paint pad shaped in a 90 degree angle to allow for easy painting of corners.
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Plumbing FAQ's (121)

If I’m soldering a copper pipe fitting onto an existing water line, do I have to remove all the water from the pipe first?

Yes. You must first remove all existing water in the line before soldering. Water cools the pipe, which doesn’t allow it to heat up to the proper soldering temperature. A propylene torch can help with this because it burns hotter. The best measure to take is to remove all water from the pipe before soldering. Stuff a ball of white bread (Wonder Bread works great) into the pipe to stop water. Then, after you soldering the fitting and turn the water back on, purge the line of the bread through the nearest exterior hose bib. Plumbers have used this trick for years.

What is an anti-siphon toilet fill valve?

The anti-siphon protection prevents the toilet tank water from getting into your home water supply system.

What is the difference between PVC and CPVC plastic pipe?

CPVC can be used on hot and cold lines, while PVC is for cold water only. PVC is usually used as a drainpipe.

How high should the water level in the toilet tank be?

It needs to be high enough for complete flushes, but it should be below the top of the overflow pipe. The tank should have a colored or molded water level mark. The rule of thumb is to set the water level about ¾” below the top of the overflow pipe.

Can you repair a leaky valve?

Gate valves can sometimes be repaired by tightening the outside hex nut or by removing the hex nut and adding stem packing.

What kind of solder do I use on a water line?

Health codes require lead-free solder.

Why is the torch hard to light?

The valve may be open to far. Open the valve just slightly so the rush of gas doesnít blow out the flame

When sweating copper, should I use propane gas in the blue cylinder or and propylene gas in the yellow cylinder?

Either one will work. The difference is that propylene in the yellow cylinder burns hotter. It has a flame temperature of 3,600 degrees F opposed to 3,450 degrees F for propane. A hotter flame means it can heat the pipe faster so it is ready to solder sooner. The higher temperature can also overcome the effects of a small amount of water left in the line, which is common in plumbing retrofits. The negative of propylene is the cost: about three times that of propane.

What is the correct size garbage disposer I should put under my sink?

If you are replacing an existing unit that has worked well for a number of years, the old size should work fine. Otherwise, a unit with a 1/3 horsepower motor will handle limited use once a day. A standard unit with a ½ horsepower motor will normally suffice for general use. Heavy-duty ¾ horsepower units and larger are designed for a large volume of garbage.

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Plumbing Terms (100)

Water Supply Tube

  • Steel Supply TubeUsed to connect a water supply line to a faucet fixture, toilet or appliances. Several types available.
  • Plastic type is flexible and inexpensive but not designed for exposed connections.
  • Ribbed chrome type bends easily without kinking.
  • Braided type features pre-attached connector nuts at both ends and can be flexed to fit.
  • Chrome-plated copper or brass tubes are more rigid than other types and are good for exposed applications.
  • The most common size is 3/8″, with lengths ranging from 6″ to 72″.

Chemicals

  • Used to clear stopped-up drains by chemical action.
  • Most liquid drain cleaners are heavier than water and will seek out the stoppage, even if the sink, tub or bowl is full of water.
  • Cleaners are typically a combination of potassium hydroxide, which turns grease to soft soap, and thioglycolic acid, that dissolves hair. Others may contain sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid or lye.
  • Toxic liquids should carry warnings and must be used with caution.

Cap

  • Is closed on one end and fits over end of pipe run to seal a run of pipe or a fitting.
  • Either has female threads (for galvanized pipe) or no threads (for copper, PVC and other solvent welded pipe).

Toilet Water Supply

  • Connects water supply to toilet.
  • Flexible types are easiest to install.

Continental Shower

  • A versatile wall and hand shower combined.
  • Some brands feature on-off flow control built into the handle, which is a brass push-button diverter valve that permits instant switch from showerhead to hand shower and a 6′ flexible hose and hang-up bracket.
  • It can be easily attached to existing shower arms.

Flame Shield

  • Protects surrounding areas from the torch flame when sweating a joint.
  • Most popular type attaches to the torch.

Black Iron Pipe

  • Not treated for rust resistance.
  • Used for carrying steam or gas.
  • Used only with black iron pipe fittings, not galvanized fittings.
  • Measured using the I.D. (inside diameter).

Sewer Tape

  • An alternative to the auger, but not as effective in difficult blockages.
  • A flat metal band with a hook on one end.

Flexible Fitting

  • Short lengths of flexible and soft plastic that is very flexible and forgiving.
  • Generally used for drain fittings in repair applications or to tie into existing drainage systems.
  • Fits over an existing pipe and tightens with a clamp.

Boiler Drain Valve

  • A horizontal faucet with male hose threads on the outlet side and either male or female IPS threads on the inlet side.
  • Originally designed to drain water from a boiler, hence the name.
  • Today, theyíre usually used for laundry machine hookups.
  • Newer models of laundry valves have a single lever that controls the hot and cold water supply.
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Power Tools Terms (84)

Angle Drill

  • Has an angled head designed for tight fits and close-quarter drilling.
  • Available in 3/8” or 1/2” sizes.
  • Some models feature an angle attachment that rotates the drill into any position, while a side handle allows one-hand operation and easy control.

 

Carbide-Tipped Saw Blade

  • Circular blade used for working with plywood or hardwood.
  • Lasts up to 10 times longer than regular blades.
  • Do not use on masonry or material with nails.

Jointer

  • Used to smooth the edges of wood and help remove warps.
  • Can cut flat surfaces.
  • Size is determined by length of the tool’s knives. Most common size is 6”.
  • Often combined with a planer.

Masonry Bit

  • Also known as a carbide-tipped bit.
  • Used in electric drills, drill presses or hand drills for drilling holes in brick, tile, cement, marble and other soft masonry materials.
  • Some versions have a titanium nitride-coated tip.
  • Feature two machined in spiral threads, one for each cutting edge, to provide passageways for all dust and cuttings from the bottom of the hole.
  • Diameters of carbide tips are the same as the full diameter of the body.

Combination Blade

  • Most commonly used circular blade.
  • Used for cross-cutting, ripping and mitering in hardwood, softwood, veneer and plywood.
  • Does not leave a smooth finish.

Hammer Drill

  • Used to drill quickly through concrete, stone, block and brick.
  • While the drill turns, the drill vibrates the chuck back and forth or side-to-side to help the bit chip the material while it is drilling.
  • Many models have a mode selector, allowing the operator to choose rotation only, like a conventional drill, and hammer drill, which combines the drill and hammer action. Better models might offer a hammer only option for chisel and scraper attachments.
  • Do not confuse with a rotary hammer, which can accommodate core bits up to 6” in diameter. These tools have unique bit drive and retention methods rather than the conventional geared chuck.
  • Manufacturers will measure speed by rpm (revolutions per minute), and the hammer action by bpm (blows per minute).

 

Nailer

  • Available in different types according to the type of application, such as roofing, drywall, concrete, finish and framing.
  • Framing nailers can use stick nails or coil nails. Nail sizes range from 1-1/2” to 3-1/2”.
  • Roofing nailers can be used to fasten asphalt and fiberglass shingles, siding or insulation board.
  • Finish nailers can be used to install molding, trim, paneling, door and window casings and cabinets.
  • Brad nailers are for firing brads, which is a tapered nail with a small head or a slight side projection instead of a head. They range in size from 5/8” to 2”.
  • Palm nailers are for work in tight spaces. Instead of firing nails, it operates like a pneumatic hammer to drive conventional nails with a repetitive series of blows.
  • Available in pneumatic, electric and cordless versions.

Grinder

  • Used to cut and grind metal, concrete and masonry, for sharpening all tools, cutting into corners and tight spots, polishing, buffing and wire brushing.
  • Consists of a motor powering one or two grinding wheels, often mounted on a workbench.

Expansion Bits

  • Takes the place of many larger bits.
  • It is adjusted by moving the cutting blade in or out by a geared dial or by a lockscrew to vary the size of the hole.

Rip Fence

  • Provides a guide for a circular saw that allows it to rip large sheets of plywood.
  • Usually made to fit a specific brand and model of saw.
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Storage & Workshop Terms (35)

Attic Ladder

  • Folding ladder that pulls down from attic access hole to permit entry.
  • 3 sections unfold to rest on floor, then fold back up to store on top of pull-down access door. Generally made of wood or aluminum.
  • 90-degree wrap-around hinges allow legs to completely fold up when not in use.
  • Different models accommodate different floor-to-ceiling height ranges.
  • Steps are usually double riveted for extra durability.
  • Generally rated either at 250 lbs. or 300 lbs.

Welding Clamp

  • Also called Locking “C”-Clamp or welder’s pliers.
  • A unique type of clamp ideal for holding work while welding.
  • Typical jaw opening sizes range from 2-1/8″ to 8.”

Articulated Ladder

  • Also called a combination ladder.
  • 3-position, multi-lock hinges offer many different arrangements and combinations to become a step ladder, an extension ladder, a stairway ladder (modified step ladder) or a scaffold.
  • No tools needed for conversion between ladder types.
  • Most models extend between 12’ and 16’ and carry either a 225 lb. or a 250 lb. duty rating.

Edging Clamp

  • Three-way clamp resembling a C-Clamp with a third screw located in the middle of the throat.
  • Used to apply pressure at a right angle to the side of the work surface.
  • Commonly used for installing molding and trim on furniture and countertops.

Extension Ladder

  • A non-self supporting type of ladder with two similar sections that are linked with internal guides on the bottom of base section and external guides on the top.
  • Sections are pulled apart to increase length.
  • Used for working in high areas and primarily for exterior applications.
  • Available in heights ranging from 16’ to 40’.
  • Smaller extension ladders are extended manually and secured with gravity spring lock brackets
  • that rest on the selected rung.
  • Larger extension ladders are extended by means of a rope and pulley running down the side of the ladder and secured with a cleat.
  • Generally available in all aluminum and fiberglass with aluminum rungs.
  • Rungs can be round or flat and are usually serrated for enhanced slip resistance.
  • Ladder shoes pivot to allow full contact with ground. Shoes can also be turned up to penetrate soft ground for extra stability.
  • Quality classifications include consumer (household), commercial (mechanic) and industrial grades.

Hold-Down Clamp

  • Is the screw portion of a “C” clamp, designed to be secured onto any surface, with the screw used to apply clamping pressure.
  • Also available in locking models, similar to locking clamps.

Platform Ladder

  • A type of aluminum stepladder with three steps for ordinary household climbing tasks.
  • Some models feature extra wide non-slip treads for comfort during long periods of use.
  • Common step heights include 10”, 20” and 30”.
  • Most have a 200 lb. duty rating.
  • Most have a platform above the steps for resting tools and materials and a high handrail.
  • Folds easily for convenient storage.

Web Clamp

  • Also called band clamps, they apply even clamping pressure around irregular shapes or large objects to hold tight by means of a spring-loaded locking fixture.
  • Commonly used on cylinder-shapes and to hold chair legs while gluing.

Step Ladder

  • A self-supporting device used for climbing that consists of two rectangular frames hinged at the top with one side containing the rungs for climbing.
  • Non-adjustable in length and folds closed for storage.
  • Available in increments from 2’ to 12’ in height.
  • Steps are flat and riveted and are generally 3” or more in width.
  • Most models include a top plastic platform on top for storing tools or loose fasteners.
  • Available in wood, fiberglass and aluminum construction in various duty (weight) ratings, with fiberglass considered the best construction of the three.
  • Quality classifications include consumer (household), commercial (mechanic) and industrial grades

Spring Clamp

  • Similar to a clothes pin, this clamp consists of two metal jaws to which clamping pressure is applied by use of a steel spring.
  • They are designed for use with thin materials.
  • Spring clamps are versatile enough for home, hobby or professional use indoors or outdoors, holding round or odd-shaped objects.
  • They typically come with 1″, 2″ or 3″ jaw openings.
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