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posted: 9/7/2012 5:08 AM

Here's how to do drywall right

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Most homes are finished with drywall inside. It's fairly easy to install, and can be cut to fit just about anywhere. Once in place, you need to patch it and seal the seams so you can be ready for texturing and paint. Here are some basic instructions and some of our favorite tips for taking care of this. It takes a little practice, but you can do it yourself and be proud of your work.

It is a messy job, so dropcloths on the floor are a smart precaution. You even may want to put one over the doorway leading to the rest of the house to keep the mess inside the room.

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Make sure all screws used to hang the drywall are just slightly lower than the surface of the drywall, because you need to cover them with drywall compound. If any are sticking up, drive them in further.

All seams need to be sealed with a special drywall tape. The inexpensive kind is just paper, but you also can buy peel-and-stick mesh tape. It's great for small jobs but might be too costly for larger repairs.

The drywall compound, or "mud," is sold already mixed. Buy only what you need, as it won't keep very long in storage. You'll also need some putty knives to spread the mud.

Smooth it over all of the nail heads and seams. Put a layer on the wall where the tape will be placed, and then put the tape on it while it's still wet.

Smooth it out with the putty knife. You'll put another layer over that after it has dried. Don't feel like you need to do it all in one pass. With mud, it's better to put on several thin layers, allowing it to dry completely after each one.

Whatever isn't smooth will be sanded off later. We like to have a damp sponge handy to do some of the smoothing while it's still wet.

Once you have finished, go back over it all with a sanding block or power sander, and smooth it off. Wear a mask, eye protection and work clothes, and cover up return air vents to keep the mess from spreading to the rest of the house. Vacuum the room thoroughly using a vac with a heavy-duty filter before removing your dropcloths.

Bungee in your trunk

Is there anything you can't use a bungee cord for? Sure, but the list is short! We always carry a few in the trunk of the car. To keep them from getting in the way, lost or damaged, we stretch them across the underside of the trunk lid. The metal framework along the underside of the surface has some spaces that are just right for grabbing onto with the hooks and keeping the bungees taut. They are always there and ready to tie down whatever goodies we can't live without at the hardware store, flea market or garden center.

Dolly makes life easier

Trailers sure do come in handy. Our old utility trailer hauled everything from hay to furniture, and everything in between. Others are used for hauling equipment or even boats. Moving the smaller ones around is sometimes necessary, but rarely easy. One way to lighten the load is to use a dolly. You can slip the front edge under the front end of the trailer, lift it up a little and use the dolly to move it. You might not be able to move your yacht like this, but a load of trailer load of trash or rocks easily can be repositioned.

Super hints

• Plastic storage boxes used in the kitchen are great in the shop, too. Also, grab the kids' old lunchboxes, pencil boxes and other castoffs to store tools and hardware in. All of these containers close tightly and protect hardware from rust and spillage, and help keep your shop better organized.

• It's smart to carry a few tools in your car for roadside emergencies, even if you have assistance. One thing that's super handy is a roll of tape. It can come in handy for lots of things. And make sure it's reflective tape. In addition to the regular uses, you can put this on your car, a tire and even yourself, if you need to alert other drivers to your situation on the side of the road.

• Vinegar is great at getting rid of strong odors around the home. Just put a bowl of it on a table in the room with the bad smell. In just a few hours, the smell will go away. It's great for pet odors, paint smell and even cooking odors.

Q. I hope you can help me. There is a section of my guttering that always leaks. I think I have it patched up finally, but I have a lot of mildew on the side of the house (brick) and on the patio (concrete) under it. How can I clean off the mildew?

A. Liquid laundry bleach is your best bet. Mix it half and half with water, and scrub the mildew off with a brush. Be careful around plants, as the bleach will also get rid of them. Let it dry completely. If the leak is fixed, the mildew will have trouble coming back. If the area stays moist, use a penetrating water sealer to protect it.

Q. My refrigerator has a mind of its own. It self-defrosts once a day and makes a huge mess on my kitchen floor. Why is it doing this, and what can I do to fix it?

A. Most defrost every day, so there's nothing wrong with that. The leak, however, is a problem. Check to make sure the drain tube is directed at the drain tray, located under the fridge. Also, make sure the drain tray is still in the proper position to catch the drainage. Most are not firmly attached, so they can be accidentally moved while you are cleaning. Check for cracks in it, too, and replace it if you need to.

Q. At one time, we had a paper cup dispenser glued to our bathroom wall. We would like to see if we can get it off now. What can we use that won't ruin the tile behind it?

A. First of all, isn't it a shame they don't make glue like this anymore? Try using a gel paint remover, being very careful not to drip it on anything else. Give it some time to work, and then see if you can pry it off with a putty knife. Good luck!

Reader tips

• I started using waterless hand cleaner when I worked on my cars. I gave that up years ago but still love the hand cleaner. I keep a pump bottle on my workbench just so I can do a fast cleanup before going back inside the house. I've also figured out that you can clean tools and even paintbrushes with it, too. It's safer to use than solvents, and it does a great job.

• Last winter, I wrapped our water heaters in protective, insulated jackets, made to save energy. It really helped. Our electric bill was slashed. I even have noticed that the bills this summer are lower. We are more comfortable in the showers, too. I'll bet we paid for the "jackets" within a couple of months last winter and will just keep on saving. I love it! If you haven't done this yet, do it. They make insulating jackets for almost every size and type of heater, and they really do make a difference. They also are really easy to install.

• I forgot to clean my paintbrushes, but I really wanted to try. I just hate to throw away good brushes if I can clean them and reuse them. I soaked them in solvent and got off a lot of the old paint, but not all of it. I heated up a bowl of vinegar in the microwave and soaked the bristles in that overnight. It got all of the rest of the paint off, and the brushes look pretty good.

• I made some cedar blocks for my wife. I was cutting some cedar planks in my workshop, and my wife said the smell was really nice, like the cedar blocks she had just bought for our clothes closet. So I cut some of the scraps into small blocks and sanded them smooth. She put these in some of our clothes drawers and in all of the other closets. They really do smell nice, and I'm told they will keep moths away.

• I cleaned out my home office and had a lot of stuff left over that I'm trying to find uses for around the house and shop. I saved a good plastic folder with pockets to store my sandpaper sheets in. I can keep them all in one place and stored flat. It doesn't take up any room, and the plastic protects it from water damage.

Shoptalk

• It's almost time for fall pruning, and Fiskars has come out with the Cut-and-Grab Lopper, which will make this job a whole lot easier. The patent-pending clamp design grabs the cut branch after cutting through it so you can direct its fall away from you. It's also extra long, at 30 inches, to get the most reach from the tool. To find out more and to get some super pruning tips, go to www.fiskars.com. The Cut-and-Grab is available at garden centers and hardware stores around the country.

• There are a lot of glues on the market, so choosing the right one can be a challenge. More and more of our shop compounds are going "green," and Goop's new EcoGlue is another option. Like other Goop products, it's a quality formula and is made to give you superior adhesion. EcoGlue also is Earth-friendly and has less than 1 percent VOCs by weight. It's water-based and is even packaged with recyclable plastic and paper. EcoGlue is great for repairing materials made from wood, stone, metal, tile and glass and, because it's water-resistant, can be used both indoors and out. Check it out at www.eclecticproducts.com. It's available at most hardware stores.

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at thesuperhandyman.com.

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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