Super Handyman: When weatherproofing, don't neglect the garage

Posted11/18/2011 12:30 AM

If you have weatherproofed your home, then you might be thinking you have finished your chores for the winter -- but not so fast! What about your garage?

Protect your cars and other belongings by weatherproofing your garage, too. It will add another layer of protection to your home.


Start with a good cleaning. Sweep out the leaves, dirt and other debris that piles up in the corners. Apply a water seal to the surface to repel moisture, salt and oil.

The door should have small gaps all the way around it when closed. These small gaps are normal, but they can be sealed up with weatherstripping to keep out the drafts during the winter. If you already have weatherstripping around the door, inspect it for cracks, splits and tears, and replace it if you need to. Check your hardware store or home center. Most weatherstripping comes in a few colors and is installed on the outside of the door frame. Read and follow the package directions.

The bottom of the door should have a flexible rubber gasket that helps seal the area where the door fits against the driveway. This, too, can be replaced fairly easily, and usually just involves unscrewing the old stuff and installing new product. It should fill gaps at the bottom of the door and still allow the door to close properly.

As an added layer of protection, you might consider installing a rubber strip across the threshold of the door. This usually is secured with building adhesive, and can prevent water as well as air from getting into the garage.

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Another layer of protection might be foam insulating panels that install on the inside of the garage door. They sell kits of these panels pre-cut to fit standard doors, which simply slide into place. Or you can cut your own from larger foam panels.

An alternative to the foam panels would be the vinyl "bubble" insulation material, which usually is installed with double-sided tape to the support frames of the door panels to provide an air pocket between the insulation and the door skin. This is a pretty effective way to insulate a door.

Just make sure your door still operates smoothly and that the built-in safety features haven't been bypassed.

Instant ice pack

If you are an average do-it-yourselfer, it might be wise to learn a few first-aid tips. After all, nobody's perfect. An ice pack is a good thing to keep around for those sore spots. But if you don't have one, you can use a rubber glove. Just fill it with ice and put a rubber band around the end to keep the ice inside the glove. It turns into an acceptable ice pack. Better yet, just be more careful, and you might not ever need one!

A brick pick

A brick-paver driveway or patio is fairly simple to install. If, over time, you have a few bricks that need to be lowered or raised, you can do so by just pulling up those bricks and removing or adding more sand under them. The hard part is pulling up the bricks, as they usually fit pretty tightly together. Use a piece of wire, maybe even a coat hanger, with a small bend at the bottom to pull up the bricks. Slide it down between the bricks, give it a little turn to position the small extension under the brick, and lift the brick up and out. It will be a lot easier to put the brick back in -- just put it in straight and give it a tap or two with a rubber mallet.


Super hints

• A clean light bulb emits more light than a dirty one. So clean your light bulbs. You might be surprised at what a difference it can make. And you'll save money -- you're paying for the light, you might as well be able to see more of it!

• Freezing supply lines and pipes might not be the only area of the house you need to worry about during the winter. If a drain freezes, it can create quite a problem, too. If you do have to deal with this situation, try pouring some salt down into the drain. This can chemically "warm" the ice and help it melt it faster and start things moving again sooner.

• When it's time to paint, keep in mind that the more sheen or gloss a paint has, the easier it is to keep clean. The gloss allows you to wipe the walls, trim, doors, etc., with a damp cloth. It also resists stains more than a flat paint will.

Q: I want to keep my old dining-room table. It's nothing great, but it has sentimental value, so I would like to keep it for a few more years. What is the best way to remove water rings from the surface?

A: Smear a small amount of toothpaste on the mark and wet it with a little water and an old towel. The toothpaste is a mild abrasive to rub off the stain. After it's clean, rub the areas with a little paste wax to shine it up and protect it.

Q: This might be a crazy question, but I have to ask it. Can I paint the tiles in my bathroom rather than pulling them down and putting up new tiles? I'm not sure I'm up to the task of tile removal, but I'm definitely ready for a change.

A: The only paint that will stick to ceramic tiles would be epoxy paint. This is a two-component paint, and if you follow the package directions to the letter, you should get good results. It probably won't last forever but will buy you some time to save money for replacement tiles and perhaps a contractor to install them.

Q: We are having a problem with drainage in our backyard. The yard slants toward the house, so there is always standing water at the foundation after it rains. The gutters are draining, but they don't really help. What else can we do?

A: You need to find a way to redirect the water flow and divert it from the foundation. Perhaps a French drain would work for you. If the slope is very slight, you might be able to build a berm in from of the slab and direct the water off to the sides. You might have an engineer take a look at the situation and make some recommendations.

Reader tips

• I have a neat tip for those who like to paint. I learned this from the guy who just painted the whole interior of my house. I kept seeing him raise and lower the shades around the house, so I asked him what he was doing. He showed me that he could use the natural light from a window to spot areas that he missed with the paint. All you have to do is open the shades and look back toward the light source to see any places that need to be touched up. If you don't have a good window, use a spotlight. He showed me, and it really works.

• We had a lot of fun with this project. We cleaned our old concrete benches and then used mortar mix to glue on a bunch of colored tiles. Then we grouted it all. They look so great that we put them under the tree in our front yard. Everyone who walks by just loves them. We might do a matching birdbath for our next project.

• We have dogs now. We started with two, and before we knew it, they had puppies and now we have six. Needless to say, feeding time gets a little crazy around here. We bought a rubber floor runner, meant for a carpeted floor, and put all of the dishes on it. The bowls stay put no matter how crazy the dogs get. I like how easy it is to clean up their mess. My wife likes how much quieter it is on the tile kitchen floor.

• We bought some shades to hang around our patio. They really helped block out a lot of the sun this past summer. The only problem is that the pull cords started to tear and break apart, so we had to replace them. We bought vinyl cord for the replacement, and then just threaded the new cord in behind the old until all were replaced. It took a little patience, but I think these will last a lot longer than the original cotton cords.

• I learned a neat trick from my dad. I wrap a rubber band around the handle of the hammer before I grab it to use. It gives me a little something extra to hold on to so my hand doesn't slide when I get sweaty while I'm working on a project. It also works great on screwdrivers and wrenches.


• If you are looking for a more versatile locking system for your home, check out the SimpliciKey Remote Control Electronic Deadbolt Lock Solution. It combines a quality, 6-pin key with bump-resistant keyway, a backlit keypad with a sliding cover that uses up to 16 unique codes and one-touch lock/unlock action as well as a remote-control key fob that has about a 50-foot range. The lock works extremely well and allows for easier access in a variety of situations. It even comes in several different finishes to look nice with existing door hardware. To find out more and see a quick video of the locking system in operation, visit or your local Home Depot store.

• This is the best time of year to do most of your landscape pruning, and the Craftsman 4-Volt Cordless Pruner makes it super easy. It can cut branches up to one-half-inch thick with just a push of the trigger. It charges quickly, and you can make about 500 cuts per charge. There is a safety switch on it that prevents accidents, and the compact, in-line design makes it easy to get into tight spots for more precise cuts. It's lightweight and easy to maneuver, and it comes with a two-year warranty. Check it out at or at your local Sears store.

• 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

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