Sherwin Williams DeckScapes™ Brings New Life to a Small Deck


This structure of this deck is still in good shape, but the stain is in need of maintenance.   The stain was beginning to peel, and a few of the exposed boards were  supporting algal growth.  Fortunately there was no rot, and the posts were also in good shape.  Two of the stair risers had warped and detached from the stringers below, creating a tripping hazard.  This is a good example of a well-built deck that merely needs to be restored with quality products and a little hard work.



I began by spraying the deck with DeckScapes Deck Wash.  I applied two coats of the wash with a pressurized sprayer, and allowed it to soak in thoroughly.  To remove the dirt and loose stain I pressure washed the entire deck.  It is important not to scar the wood with the washer as it can show through the finished product.  The stair risers were repaired with a few 4 inch deck screws and an impact driver.  After allowing the deck to dry for a few days, I lightly sanded away any loose stain that was remaining and countersunk all protruding nails.   Below are the products I used to restore the deck.


The new stain went on easily and was almost a perfect match.  Two coats and this deck looked like new!102_1643102_1645


Posted in Project Archive

Window Stool Repair – Otters Run Property


The windows in this clients house are common, double-hung windows, trimmed out with a sill, stool, and apron.  These trim components work together to create a nice looking weatherproofing system.  The sill is usually sloped 10 – 15 degrees toward the outside of the house and serves to divert water away from the bottom of the lower sash.  On the interior side of the window, the gap where the bottom sash meets the sill is hidden by the stool.  The stool projects out from the bottom of the window, creating a small ledge.  This leaves a gap between the bottom of the stool and the drywall underneath the window.  This area is concealed with an apron which is a piece of window trim, that has been mitered and fit with returns on each end.


It is common for damage to occur to the edges of the stool because it projects out from the wall.  It can easily break by having a child leaning on it, or sliding a piece of furniture into it.  In this case, it turned out to be a great place for a silly dog, named Bella, to take out her teething frustrations…She is a good dog now though!!  Smilie: :)


The repair is begun by removing the apron.  A razor knife can be used to score between the trim and wall to minimize cracking or damaging the drywall.  The stool should be easy to pry up with a small pry bar.  I saved the existing stool to use as a template for fabricating the new one.  After removing the old caulk and paint from the wall surface, it is a good idea to give the entire area a light sanding.




Window stool can easily be made with a router/table and a round-over bit, or picked up from your local hardware store, pre-milled, if you have a common profile.  Using the old stool as a template, I traced the marks onto the new piece.  A coping saw is a quick way to make small, complicated cuts when fitting it to the window and existing trim.  Because it is unsightly to have a square cut on each side of the stool, it is necessary to use a mitered return.  To achieve this, miter the ends of the new stool to 45 degrees.  Cut a complimentary piece out of the remaining stock and glue it, so that the profile is continuous.




After achieving the proper fit, install the new stool and replace the apron.  While making a repair like this, it never hurts to use expanding foam to fill any gaps between the window and the framing.  Countersink the nails and then sand thoroughly. Caulk, prime, and paint the new trim to match the remainder of the window (leave the bottom sash up slightly, until dry, to prevent sticking).  The finished product should be a nice, clean looking window!


Posted in Project Archive

Bicycle Hoisting System – Weatherly

It is starting to get cold here in North Carolina!  Growing up in Mobile, Alabama I saw snow only twice in 18 years…I have already seen it twice this year in Franklinton!  We have been biking less, as a consequence, and have been wanting to stow our bikes somewhere, out of the way.  Now that we are in our own house, there is no excuse for not storing our mountain bikes in style.  I wanted the bikes in the garage, but our vehicles fit rather snugly into the garage, as it was. Having room to walk between vehicles is a “must” for a comfortable garage!

I went through several designs, in my mind, after searching the internet for a few days on the topic.   I tossed out the idea of a wall mounted set-up because the bikes would protrude from the wall too far.  The ceiling seemed the ideal place so, I measured the bicycles thoroughly and found that they would fit nicely behind my truck.

The Perfect Spot!  (Luckily the garage is unpainted so I could easily locate the joists...)

I designed a simple system which utilized Campbell® pulleys and other parts which I ordered at my local hardware store.   To add strength to the installation, I decided to mount the pulleys and eye-screw to a painted 2X4.  I cleaned up the appearance by mounting the pulleys with 4½ lag screws, which penetrated the ceiling joists and cinched the 2X4 to the ceiling.  I started by taking careful measurements to center the bicycles over my truck and then marked the 2X4s.  I then pre-drilled, sanded, primed, and painted the 2X4s.  (I painted them black to tie in with the shelving which I will add soon)… Smilie: :D

After the third coat of paint, I used the finished 2X4s to mark and pre-drill the ceiling joists.  Using an impact driver, I drove the lag screws through the 2X4 and into the ceiling joist (which also mounted the pulleys).  Where the rope terminated, at the end of the pulley system, I used a rope-clamp and thimble to create a loop. This allowed me to easily attach the rope to the eye-screw on the end of the 2X4.  Once the rope was threaded through the pulleys it started looking like a proper hoist!

Now to attach the bicycles to the hoist… For this, I used 1/8 braided steel cable coated with plastic.  The plastic casing helps prevent scratching the bike frame, but had to be stripped away where any ferrules were added.  I assembled two wire rigs using wire ferrules, thimbles, and a swagging tool and then attached them to the lower pulleys using a stainless steel quick-link.

An added feature of the location, is the ease of lowering the bikes into my truck for trail riding! I mounted two rope-cleats on the wall below each bicycle to store the excess rope.  I love having the bikes out of the house and they look right at home above my truck bed.

Posted in Project Archive

Re-grout Tile Shower Floor – Sadler Property

Joel and Jessica Sadler are two of the nicest clients a contractor could ask for.  Jessica, a real estate agent for Fonville Morisey in the Durham, NC area, emailed me concerning the stains and crumbling grout in her master-bathroom shower.  The home is a great, craftsman style bungalow with contemporary furnishings and open floor-plan.  The shower was not constructed using current building science…i.e. no waterproofing/decoupling membrane, latex-modified grout or proper expansion joints.  I could tell from the photos she emailed me, there had been some water infiltration behind the shower seat.  The perimeter grout joints (especially around the shower seat) had recently been re-sealed with some sort of sanded-silicone grout and were peeling and showing discoloration.

Removing grout can be quite telling in respect to underlying problems.  I began removing grout, with a particular interest in the area of the shower seat.  On the floor, I used a grout-saw (pictured below) to carefully grind the level of the existing grout down past the edges of the tile.  I wanted to see the edges of the tile before using a rotary bit on them to prevent chipping.

Unfortunately, as I began removing grout on the shower seat, tile began to come loose.  It was immediately apparent that the shower seat framing was completely rotten.  There was no choice, I had to remove the seat and inspect the tile behind it. The previous contractor simply glued the seat-framing to the tile wall! The seat-framing should have been incorporated into the waterproofing-membrane of the shower (not present here) or constructed from masonry board and then be screwed into the wall-framing.  Surprisingly, the tile behind the seat were in excellent condition!  The seat however, was completely deteriorated and covered with mold.  The shower pan was sloped extremely well and I am sure that is what kept the water from leeching into the wall behind the seat.  The grout under the seat was pretty stubborn to remove, which is a good sign that it was keeping out water.  I cleaned the area and removed as much of the staining as possible.  The tannins from the wood in the seat framing left a faint line, but with repeated scrubbing I am sure it will become less noticeable.

After cleaning the shower thoroughly, I began “gouging” the joints.  I used a DeWalt® DW660 with DREMEL® grout-removal bits, set to a  ¼ in. depth.  The grout was sturdy in most places with only a few cracks, which were probably caused by shifting during the foundation work.  I was able to get very clean lines with the rotary tool especially having removed the top layer of the joint previously.  I cleaned any loose debris from the joints with an ice pick and double checked for adequate depth.  I cleaned up my work area and got ready to grout.

Outside, I met Joel and Jessica’s dogs.  They are cool little dudes and they kept me company while I mixed the grout.  I used Polyblend® non-sanded grout because the joints were less than an eighth of an inch wide.  I misted the tile and began grouting.  It looked much better, even before I wiped it down.

Posted in Project Archive

Laminate Flooring Installation – Deerfield Condominium

This is the second project I have helped my father-in-law, David Fesperman, complete in his Auburn, Alabama condominium.   After installing porcelain tile in the kitchen, bath, and foyer we decided to upgrade the remainder of the flooring as well.  We started out by doing a considerable amount of homework on modern flooring systems.  We read Fine Hombuilding magazines, combed the internet for product information, and I polled the forums at ContractorTalk for several months before we made our decision.  We also did not want to spend too much for the local market, which is predominantly student housing.

The condo is primarily used for entertaining during college football season and receives only occasional use in the off-season.  David, my father-in-law, wanted the floor to be allergy-friendly and compliment the style of the rest of the condo.  He decided on a floating, laminate floor system from Pergo.  The laminate offered the “wood look” at a price that fit his budget. He ordered the flooring from Lowe’s and, after discount, only paid around $2.00 per square foot.

We began tearing out the carpet throughout the unit before the flooring arrived so that we could focus on the installation.  There was no way to tell exactly when the carpet had been installed but, if the amount of dirt we found underneath was any indication….it had been there quite a while.

David spent a lot of time using my canister vacuum to remove all of the dirt from the floor as we pulled up sections of carpet.  We even had to use a scraper in some places to loosen the ground-in nastiness.  We were able to get all of the demolition done before the flooring arrived because no one was living in the property.  When the flooring arrived, I stacked it in the closet of the front bedroom and left it there for a few weeks to acclimate.  (Below)  My nieces’ toys are “acclimating” in the right-hand closet Smilie: :)

We decided to shift the condo’s furnishings from room-to-room as we proceeded with the installation instead moving it into storage.  This definitely saved money…but the headache of moving was not affected at all.  We created a huge mess in the adjacent rooms as we went along but with the help of Patsy, my mother-in-law, it all went smoothly.  I could tell that she had worked with David on other projects because she was very intuitive during the whole process.

Installing the floor went really quickly.  We taped down 6 micrometer polyethylene underlayment for a moisture retarder which was recommended for installation on a concrete slab.  In the below picture my wife, Jill is holding down the couch for us while we worked (She was working night shift at the time, so she had a good reason to be sleepy).  While David and I worked on the floor, Patsy prepared the baseboards for painting.  She sanded and painted all of the trim in the condo in addition to painting the new shoe molding.  She also stained a considerable amount of trim, and brought out a nice finish by sanding between each application.  She was definitely tired by the end of the day!

After the installation was complete, David and Patsy bought out Sam’s Club in Swiffer Sweeper pads.  The floor looked great after Patsy buffed it to a high shine! We installed thresholds to transition between the tile and the new flooring.  Though we all agreed that the laminate was not the highest quality material available, it is certainly a fine product for the money! Now for a few pictures of the completed job…

Posted in Project Archive