Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Quick Home Fixes and Upgrades

Some weekend projects are daunting, but tackle any one of these easy tasks and you'll have made a difference at home with time left over for football.


When latched interior doors rattle, it's usually because of a poor fit between the lock set, strike plate and doorstop molding. Silence the noise by bending out the strike plate's tab, which rests against the latch when the door is closed. The adjustment holds the door tightly against the doorstop molding and ends the rattling. Try using a slotted screwdriver to pry out the tab in the doorjamb. But it's usually easier to unscrew the strike plate, bend the tab with pliers and reinstall the plate. You may have to bend the tab two or three times to get an exact fit.


There are few sounds as irritating as a squeaky door hinge. Fortunately, silence can be yours in a matter of minutes. First, remove one of the hinge pins with a hammer and a small screwdriver or nail set, then buff it smooth with 120-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand off all rust, dried paint and caked-on gunk. Next, spray the pin with a light coating of silicone lubricant. Tap the newly buffed pin back into place and repeat for the remaining hinge pins.


Tired of straightening picture frames that hang askew? Permanently place framed paintings or mirrors with a 12-pack of 1/2-in.-dia stick-on vinyl bumpers. Affix the bumpers to the rear lower corners of every frame; the bumpers' soft antiskid rubber keeps the frames from sliding out of position.


Reduce slips and falls on stairs by placing strips of stick-on abrasive tape on the treads. The rough-surface tape's various widths are perfect for indoor unfinished basement stairs or exterior deck and porch stairs often traversed in the dark. Remember the pool and hot tub, too--don't let a slick step ruin a good soak.


It seems every bookcase has a shelf sagging under the weight of too many volumes. A permanently bowed shelf is not only unattractive, it's potentially dangerous: If the shelf fails, it can slough off an avalanche of books. Here's one solution: Support it with a vertical divider cut from 3/4-in. plywood, fit between shelves and oriented like a large book. Make the divider tall enough to prop up the shelf to its original, level height. Conceal the exposed plywood edge with veneer edge banding (or, if you're feeling crafty, a tailored book jacket). To provide proper support for upper shelves and eliminate additional sagging, the lowest divider must rest on the bottom of the bookcase.


t's surprising how much a new toilet seat improves the look of a bathroom. To remove the old seat, close the toilet lid and pry open the covers that conceal the mounting bolts' heads. Reach under the bowl flange and get a good grip on the nut below, then loosen it with a few turns of a slotted screwdriver in the bolt above. Repeat for the other bolt. These bolts are usually plastic, but if they're steel--and rusted--cut through them with a hacksaw blade. First, wrap the blade halfway down its length with masking tape to give yourself a safe grip. Protect the porcelain by placing a scrap of cardboard between the toilet and blade, then make the cut. Set the new seat on top of the toilet, flip open the plastic caps and insert the bolts. Reach underneath and thread the nuts onto the bolts. With a hand holding the nut, tighten the bolts from above using the slotted screwdriver. Snap-close the covers to hide the bolt heads.


You don't have to hire a feng shui consultant to know the cords snarled behind your TV bring in bad energy. Rather than buying plastic ties or cord-control kits, make sturdy, reusable twist ties with leftover 4- to 6-in. scraps of 14-gauge copper wire. Use pliers to twist the ends into a bow-tie shape, which shields jagged edges and turns them into easy-to-twist tabs. Finish the installation by mounting a surge protector inconspicuously beneath a desk or behind an entertainment center.


Have a careful look at the corner of the door where the laminate is peeling up. If the core of the door appears to be sound, then the repair is simple. Use a fine-tooth hacksaw blade or a putty knife to spread some moisture-resistant adhesive under the laminate. Then, use masking tape wrapped from the front of the door and around the edge to pull the laminate down. Remove the tape once the adhesive has set, and use a razor-sharp chisel to pare off globs of adhesive that squeeze out from under the laminate while they are still soft. if moisture from cooking or cleaning has caused the core of the doors to crumble or otherwise fail, you're better off replacing those doors, or replacing all the doors in the kitchen. You will find it very difficult to make the laminate adhere properly to a deteriorated substrate.


Double a tall cabinet's capacity by suspending glassware from above. Mount a track at the top to store wine glasses and goblets upside-down, or add hooks to hang mugs by their handles.


Free up several bathroom surfaces with a single tube of silicone adhesive. Use it to mount a soap dish and some corner shelves to a tile or fiberglass shower stall. With the leftover adhesive, mount a toothbrush caddy.


Every kitchen has a junk drawer filled with mismatched tools and accumulated detritus. Turn that catchall into a real tool drawer, with vital small tools ready for a quick repair. To keep the tools rust-free and the drawer tidy, line it with a scrap of carpet sprayed with silicone lubricant. Your pristine array will resemble a surgeon's tray--assuring precision for any project about to go under the knife.

By Joseph Truini and Norman Becker at www.

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