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Sunday, January 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stories tagged: ask the builder


Ask the Builder: Be careful how you use asphalt sealer

I had a new asphalt driveway installed in the fall. It’s gorgeous, and I want to keep it looking that way. I was told not to seal it until the …


Ask the Builder: Garbage Disposal 101

Dear Tim, I averted a near Christmas Eve disaster. I was making 75 deviled eggs for 30 guests who were soon to arrive. I turned on my disposal to grind …


Ask the Builder: What do circuit breakers do?

Several weeks ago, I read your column about installing electrical wiring. I found that very interesting, but now I’m very curious about circuit breakers. What’s the primary purpose of circuit …


Ask the Builder: Stop water mess in your garage

I’m about to build a new home with an attached garage and a separate, free-standing three-bay garage. The house I grew up in had floor drains in the garage, and …


Ask the Builder: Don’t sweat copper – press it

Dear Tim, I love reading your column in my local paper. Several months ago, you wrote about which plumbing pipe might be better for water lines, copper and PEX. You …


Ask the Builder: Hacks for building a DIY deck

I’m going to build a deck. Don’t try to stop me. I’ve got many questions for you. First, what’s the smallest size a deck can be and still have a …


Ask the Builder: Build your brick walls with mortar for the ages

I’m about to undertake a complex project. I’ve got an older brick home that’s more than 100 years old. There are places where the mortar needs attention. The bigger issue …


Ask the Builder: How long can concrete last?

Tim, I’m about to have a new concrete driveway installed, as well as some sidewalks. I asked the bidding contractors how long I might expect the concrete to last. The …


Ask the Builder: Will I get shocked? That is the question

Tim, it’s a very long story, and don’t think I’m crazy. I’m building a new home and wondering if I can install all the electrical wiring myself. It’s not a …


Ask the Builder: Dealing with rust stains in granite countertops

Tim, we just moved into an existing home that’s got granite countertops. When we looked at the house, there were cleverly placed trivets in certain places. I’ve come to discover …


Ask the Builder: Breathing life into an old stone foundation

There are many ways to repair a stone foundation or add to it, but I prefer to use concrete block for the task. Concrete blocks typically have two hollow cores …


Ask the Builder: How to ensure your concrete deck piers won’t fail

I’m concerned about the concrete deck base that’s fully above ground at my new home. The other decks in our development have the concrete piers below ground. Shouldn’t the concrete …


Ask the Builder: PEX or copper, which is the best to use?

I have to install new water supply lines in my home. My current home has copper water supply lines. I’m intrigued by the plastic PEX material, but it seems too …


Ask the Builder: Should a shed look like the house?

I want to build a deluxe shed. I’ve just retired and have plenty of time on my hands. I want to stop paying the outrageous offsite storage fees. First and …


Ask the Builder: Artificial stone is not waterproof

This will not be a usual column. I’m sitting in my man cave writing it several hours before I talk to a reader named Amanda on the phone. She lives …


Ask the Builder: You can repair cracked stucco and have fun doing it

I’ve got a mess at my home that’s driving me crazy. My 3-foot tall concrete block foundation was coated years ago with a thin coat of cement stucco. There are …


Ask the Builder: How hard can drywall be? Very hard

I’m building a new home. Because of the booming economy and shortage of great help, I might be forced to hang and finish the drywall myself. I’ve done a few …


Ask the Builder: Restoring rusty tools and paraphernalia

Q. What can you tell me about painting rusty metal? I want a fast and easy method to repaint an assortment of things in my garage and shed. Do you …


Ask the Builder: Are flushable wipes flushable? I did a test

A few months ago, I wrote a column about how “flushable” wipes clog sewers. I received hundreds of responses from readers who shared their expensive horror stories about how flushable …


Ask the Builder: How we used to stay cool

You may be one of the tens of millions of people who suffered in the blistering heatwave that gripped the Eastern USA in July. I happen to live in central …


Ask the Builder: Installing drywall requires more muscle and skill than you might think

Lots of books have been written about the craft of drywall installation and finishing. One of the best is “The Gypsum Construction Handbook” published by USG Corp., one of the …


Ask the Builder: Modern construction methods may not always be best

I’ve been aghast in the past few decades at a growing trend in the residential construction industry that is burying hard-earned, tried-and-true construction methods that were developed and used by …


Ask the Builder: Finding the right pipe for your project

It’s very important to realize that there are lots of plastic pipes that you might use, and the chemistry of them is quite complex. I’m just going to stick with …


Ask the Builder: Use clinker bricks to make interesting structures

How are clinker bricks formed and where can we buy them? Are they durable and will they last a long time?


Ask the Builder: Insulated concrete forms require extra care

With interlocking insulated concrete forms, it’s important to realize the foundation footing the ICFs rest on should be perfectly flat and level, and the footing needs to be perfectly square.


Ask the Builder: Don’t build or buy an A-frame house until you’ve tried living in one

A-frame houses are appealing, but they have quirks that take some considering.


Ask the Builder: Yes, you can build your own garden shed

Q. I’ve put off building a small garden shed for too many years. After the wretched winter I endured, I deserve something that will lift my spirits. I don’t know …


Ask the Builder: Flushable wipes are bad for plumbing

The labeling on the product is accurate if you want to split hairs. You can flush these wretched wipes down a toilet. They make it through the curved colon in …


Ask the Builder: Praise for 3- and 4-way electrical switches

The most common uses for these switches are at the top and bottom of staircases or at the ends of a long hallway. When you use one in a finished …


Ask The Builder: Sticky house wrap is a great building innovation

How do you feel about self-adhering house wrap and what’s involved in getting it installed correctly?