How To's Interior Projects

Laminate Floor Installation

If you are installing a laminate floor, you might not want to spend the few dollars for the installation video that most flooring or home centers offer. Now you don’t have to. Lowe’s offers a simple video animation on their web site. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete the entire guided tutorial and it will help to ensure that you are doing things correctly. It isn’t hard to lay down the floor, but there are some very simple tips that will save you from a more difficult project.

Laminate Floor Installation

If you haven’t installed a laminate floor before, you should either view a video or how-to or study the directions carefully. Once you start laying down your floor, you will be happy that you did.

Good luck with your project.

How To's Interior Projects Tools and Reviews

Hardibacker Backer Board

Hardibackerâ„¢ is a great product to use on a tile countertop, or a for a tile floor application. Many people are familiar with cement backer board. Hardibacker has most of the same qualities and it is much lighter weight and easier to work with. The price was comparable as well.

hardibacker installation

Hardibacker installation instructions. From James Hardie North America (1-888-jhardie) – Pro’s and do-it-yourselfers trust Hardibacker® cement board as their total wet area solution. Hardibacker board with MOLDBLOCKâ„¢ Protection provides superior moisture and mold resistance, is easy to install, and unlike glass mesh boards, it won’t scratch porcelain or enamel surfaces. Whether you’re tiling, painting, texturing or wallpapering, Hardibacker board’s dimensional stability and exceptional bonding surface deliver the ultimate in durability. That’s what you can expect from America’s #1 backerboard.

How To's Interior Projects

Granite tile countertop

Are you installing a granite tile countertop or considering this option? If so, you have probably come across many sites that are trying to sell you tile, or that are trying to get you to click on an ad for someone trying to sell you tile, but you might not have had much luck locating a thorough guide to installing a granite tile countertop. Well, you finally found the right place. I was in the same boat, trying to locate an article online that would walk me through each step and point out the things that I need to consider and/or look out for.

One of the main things that causes the do it yourselfer trouble is the edge detail. This article has a great option that gives you a very custom look.


As I started to write this article. I located the article from Family Handyman Magazine (October 2002). I was going to post the complete details since the back issue was not available for purchase. However, Family Handyman is owned by Reader’s Digest. The site has the article online. The funny thing is that it is very difficult to locate if you search through a search engine.

Here is the complete article about installing granite tile countertops. It is the best resource on the topic that I have found, and it is Free!

Granite Tile Countertop

How To's Interior Projects

Roll on wall texture

I often wondered if we could get a nice wall texture by simply thinning out some joint compond and rolling it on like paint. The answer? Absolutely.

We had a room with some marred and uneven surfaces. We wanted to get a texture, but I didn’t want a typical sprayed or popcorn look. We was after something a little more subtle. All that we did was to mix up some joint compound in a consistency about the same as pancake batter (maybe a little thinner). We used a 1/2″ inch nap roller and rolled it on to the walls. It doesn’t take long at all to get the hang of it.

The look that we acheived was similar to a sanded paint, but a bit thicker. Kind of like the $50 paint kit by Ralph Lauren. The most difficult part (and it wasn’t that hard at all) was the areas near the ceiling and around any trim. We rolled as close as we could and filled the last inch by using a 4″ stiff bristle paint brush. It married in perfectly. To avoid having to be careful (who wants to be careful when painting?), we taped all of the trim edges and surfaces. This way we could go right up to it. We simply put some material on the brush and dabbed the surface with the brush helf vertically.

I would encourage anyone who wants to do this to plan on throwing your rollers away when done. The material starts to dry fairly quickly, so don’t mix more than you can use within about 20-30 minutes.

If you want to see photo’s, or have a question about the project, please leave a comment.

How To's Interior Projects

Removal/Painting Interior Paneling – the results

This is a follow up to our removal of paneling post.

We offered up four options for replacing, removing, or covering paneling. We have applied all four on our latest project.

  1. Remove Paneling and wall surface to the studs – new drywall
    This might seem the most costly and the method to replace paneling that is the most work, but it isn’t the case. Drywall is relatively easy and there is a ton of information available on how to finish drywall. In fact, the show ‘Hometime’ has some terrific information that walks you through measuring, cutting, and finishing drywall.
    Sometimes your only option will be to knock out the walls. The paneling might be in such poor shape that you cannot paint it. It could be separating from the wall surface, have a damaged finish, and/or warped. If this is the case, rip it off, and knock the walls out. Take this opportunity to insulate your walls, update electrical or plumbing, etc. It will be messy, but what renovation project isn’t? The results are like that of new construction. You can’t argue with that.
  2. Painting Paneling
    This didn’t turn out too bad. We primed the paneling with a primer that claims it will stick to anything. The paneling that we covered was the type that is essentially a sticker (aka: the cheap kind). After priming, we gave the primer sufficient time to dry thoroughly. Not sure this mattered, but I could certainly scratch the primer more easily on day 2 than I could on day 10. After sufficient dry time, the paneling was painted. Turned out pretty nice. A huge improvement. Since this paneling was in a back hall/stairwell, I didn’t mind the strip look. If this suits your DIY project, go for it. One key takeaway: Don’t skimp on the quality of primer or paint.
  3. Fill grooves and paint paneling
    grooves filled in panelingAt first, this might seem like a good option, and it can be. First, I wouldn’t do this unless I had a quality paneling underneath (real wood paneling). The sticker kind won’t hold your joint compound properly.
    The amount of work involved was rather large and the amount of sanding probably exceeded the amount that it would have been if we had dry-walled the room. First, we secured all areas of the paneling so that there was no bounce to it at all. Our paneling was over plaster walls so a brad nailer held pretty well. Next, we primed the grooves so that our joint compound didn’t crack out right away. The open wood grain would have pulled all of the moisture from the joint compound and caused cracking immediately  As it was, there was a decent amount of shrinkage. The grooves required a second coat of compound.
    If you are debating this method and want to estimate the time. Fill one groove as a test. Prime it, let it dry. Fill it, let it dry. Fill it again, let it dry. Sand it. Time yourself for each step, count the number of grooves to fill and multiply it out. You might be shocked at the number of man hours involved in filling the grooves in your paneling.
    In our case, the end result was excellent. If you are conscientious, and treat it like a finish dryall job, you will end up with a wall surface that rivals that of fresh drywall. Use a flat paint in the end to hide the inevitable imperfections.
  4. Remove Paneling – Skim coat with joint compound – Paint
    I would never attempt this method again. If the wall surface under the damaged paneling was not usable  I would knock them out and drywall in a heartbeat. We had a coating of construction adhesive over the surface of every wall. This was applied with a notch trowel. We knocked down the high points with a putty knife and started filling. The joint compound adhered well enough, but I am sure this will depend upon the makeup of the construction adhesive used.
    The amount of time to coat the walls and deal with surface imperfections is far more than anticipated. It took three coats of compound just as any drywall joint would take. Unless you are a plasterer, don’t try this one at home. The end result is good (just like a plaster coat wall if you are good at it), but the time involved far exceeded the cost factor if we had knocked the walls out, or covered the surface with 1/4″ drywall.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck. Feel free to throw any questions our way. Send a picture of what you are doing. We would love to see if we can be of help.

Before and After Photos How To's

Replacing an Arched Doorway

Many homes between the 1920’s and the 1950’s were built with archways instead of a square opening as a room entry or transition. This is a nice architectural feature, but doesn’t always suit the new style of a project, or isn’t in the kind of condition that makes it an attractive feature. The plaster may have many cracks, or paneling might have been added in a way that doesn’t do a nice trim job justice.

arch opening

arch doorway squared

Here is a quick step by step guide to replace the arched opening.

– We are assuming that you are keeping the opening the same width as it is now. If you are not, you will have some structural issues to contend with. It isn’t all that difficult if you follow the correct steps, but that is for a different how-to.

A-1: arched opening original

1) Cut the corner bead. The corner bead is very likely a metal bead that will be very tough. You will need to cut about an inch below the point where your arch meets the square section of your opening. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade is perfect for the job. You will do this at each side of your arch. (see diagram A-2). This will allow you to tear out the arched portion of the door.

A-2: arched opening original A-2

2) Score or cut a the new corners. Now that you have made these cuts, you can score the outline of your new opening. You are essentially looking to square off the opening. I prefer using a circular saw (assuming you have the clearance) for this project. If you make cuts in the existing plaster, you will give it a place to break away. I make a cut about 1/2″ deep (see the darker outline in image A-3. Cut about 1/2″ to the inside of your opening. You will be trimming this out with door jambs, so you should cut away a bit larger area. This will be covered with casing (molding) later.

3) Tear out the corners. Once you have made cuts in your corner beads, and scored your plaster, you can remove the arched portion of opening. This is the messy part. Find what works for you, but a hammer is probably best tool for the job. These corners were probably formed with a few pieces of lumber cut to the shape of the opening. The actual rough framing should be square. Remove everything above your first cuts. Tear out the corner bead and the plaster. Knock out the wood used to shape the arch.

A-3: remove arched opening A-3

4) Attach the upper piece of your door jamb. Now that you have a clean slate, begin the process of building your new opening. Your jamb can be build out using a decent quality pine. You will attach the top piece first. Cut the piece to width and keep it about 1/4″-1/2″ short of your entire opening. Your jamb lumber needs to be ripped to the same with as the finished wall on each side. You might get lucky and have a 6″ piece of lumber that is the exact with of your walls. Attach the upper piece. Be sure that it is level. If it is not, shim to level the piece. This is important.

5) Attach the side Jamb Pieces. One the upper jamb is in place, measure and cut your 2 side pieces. Cut them about 1/8″ short so that you can fit them in well. Attach these side piece by making sure the are plumb, and that they are flush with each side of the wall. Since you cut away the upper section (where your arch used to be) you won’t fasten there first. You probably don’t need to at all. Nail these in with some finishing nails. Be sure that your nails are long enough to reach the lumber beyond the plaster.

6) Attach Your Trim/Molding. You are nearly finished, and it will really look that way once you have your trim attached. Measure and cut your upper trim piece first. Measure your opening and then add about 3/8″ to th inside length. This should be the total length of your trim measure from the shortest part of your 45″ miter cut. Attach the upper, making sure that it is square, leaving a reveal of about 3/16″. Once you have attached this upper piece on both sides of your opening, you can measure and cut your pieces for the side trim.

All that is left is some paint and/or stain. Please feel free to post a comment or a question in the comment section following this how to. We will be happy to elaborate on any part and provide better images to explain any steps along the way.