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Home Improvement 2006  

Getting it done

  Whether you're going with a pro or doing it yourself, here's expert advice to bring your plan to reality.
Hot new stuff for the home handyman
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One pro who isn't sold is master plumber and carpenter Tim Carter, who also writes the syndicated newspaper column "Ask the Builder." Carter says he doesn't like the way it sounds when you walk on it, and it's tough to replace a section if it gets damaged.

One recent advance in the hardwood laminates is the advent of having the underlay attached to the boards. Underlay usually comes in rolls; it has to be put down first before the floor is laid. As an alternative, try using rolls of cork as an underlay, Carter says. "That's what they've done in Europe for years."

Decking. This is Wilson's area of expertise and personal passion. He's currently doing a major project at his own house that includes a dual-level deck with an outdoor kitchen and -- no, this is not a misprint -- a brick bread oven.

One of the innovations he's seen recently is in underdeck fastening systems that eliminate nail or screw holes on the surface of the deck. "They come with a clip or a metal fastener," Wilson says. "Some look like a plastic biscuit. Some fasten under the deck, and some fasten between the boards. "

The other major improvement, he says, is in the area of water-based deck sealers. It sounds like a contradiction, he admits, since sealers are meant to keep water out, but that's just what they do. One new sealer, Thompson's Advanced, can be applied to damp wood, which means that a homeowner could clean and seal a deck in a single day.

As an aside, Wilson -- a paid spokesman for Thompson products -- says it's easy to clean and treat a deck as a DIYer. All you need is some deck cleaner, a plastic garden sprayer and a stiff bristle brush for the cleaning, and a paint pad and some deck sealer for the second step. "People are used to using brushes and rollers, but I use a paint pad and it works great. You get really nice, even coverage. I took one of those deep baby-wipe containers; it's the perfect size for a 7-inch paint pad."

Perennial favorites
If ever there were a friend of the DIYer, it is duct tape. If love covers a multitude of sins, duct tape covers a multitude of mistakes. But, according to the pros, it doesn't stick very well to porous surfaces, such as brick, stucco or rough lumber. While we are attempting to refrain from product endorsements of any kind, we kept hearing about Gorilla Tape by the makers of Gorilla Glue.

"Gorilla Glue has expanded its whole product thing, come in and kicked butt on duct tape," Carter says. "They have a tape out that is so much stronger than traditional duct tape."

So we did a Web search and found references of independent, very scientific testing by people who stuck it to things that they shouldn't have, such as hoods of cars, and nearly ripped the paint off trying to remove it. People were suggesting it as alternatives for clamps in wood shops and listing it as a Christmas gift idea for the guys in your life. About $10 a roll for 35 yards, it's a lot more expensive than regular duct tape, but we were sufficiently impressed to provide a mention, for which we have not be compensated in any way.

-- Posted: April 12, 2006
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