Helpful Handyman Hints

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The Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

Handyman Hints: Basement ceiling challenge-- to flatten? Or to re-route?

Posted by Chris Emard Mar 09, 2021 With 0 Comment

As we envision a living environment that doesn’t include a cracked cement floor, or walls consisting of plain concrete, partially finished drywall, and junk piled on shelves— essentially providing your basement space with the less than inspiring ‘contemporary garage sale’ style of décor, it’s important to realize the route to escaping this nightmare will run through the ceiling.

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Handyman Hints: They can't read your mind

Posted by Chris Emard on January 5, 2021 With 0 Comment

You could hire the best, most experienced, most endearing, and attentive-to-detail type carpenter in the world, but if their nickname isn’t Kreskin, or if they don’t respond to “the amazing,” and if they didn’t host a mentalist TV show during the 1970s, then there’s no bloody way this well-intentioned hire is going to be able to read your mind.

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Handyman Hints: Feed the hands that build for you

Posted by Chris Emard on January 12, 2021 With 0 Comment

“The way to a contractor’s heart is through their stomach.”

Well— I think that’s how the saying goes.

Regardless, every Friday, while our backyard deck renovation, which was pretty extensive, was under construction, I’d cook the fellows up some Italian sausage on the barbecue at lunch hour, as kind of a thank you for a good week’s work.

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Handyman Hints: All together-- 'ceiling, trim, walls'

Posted by Chris Emard on December 22, 2020 With 0 Comment

Due to you failing to make the short list of returnees to Mrs. Sponsky’s hot-yoga class, and with there being little to watch on Netflix until HBO returns with season two of The Queen’s Gambit, escaping the doldrums of another COVID-19 winter might be best achieved by dialing in your radio to 70s rock, setting the coffee maker to its 10-cup potential, and dipping your paint brush into a can of tinted eggshell.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    Items You Could Put in Their Nail Pouch

    Posted by Chris Emard on December 17, 2019 With 0 Comment

    The task of Christmas gifting doesn’t have to be such a challenge if you choose to follow one simple guideline: “make it a practical gift.”

    Keep it simple, where the stress of Christmas shopping can effectively be avoided by sticking to a combination of three gift categories, them being beer, cheese, and hardware.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    Updating that 1970’s Door

    Posted by Chris Emard on December 26, 2019 With 0 Comment

    As we look forward to four months of cold weather, short days, and general dreariness, this might be a good time to pour yourself another spiked eggnog, grab a spot on the sofa, and evaluate your home’s décor.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    What Comes After the Front Door

    Posted by Chris Emard on January 1, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Refurbishing a home is always a little stressful, although the cleansing process does get easier with every trip to the curb.

    Ahh, the curb— the spot where a homeowner can finally lay to rest their shag area rug, macramé wall hangings, everything and anything wicker, famed artwork such as “Dogs playing cards,” and anything the colour orange, with no quarrel or judgment from neighbours, provided all is conveniently stockpiled beside a sign reading free stuff.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    Choosing Casing and Baseboards

    Posted by Chris Emard on January 7, 2020 With 0 Comment

    First, some basic education. The casing is the decorative trim, or molding, that gets installed around your interior doors and windows.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    All Hail the Crown

    Posted by Chris Emard on January 14, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Today we’re installing what’s most likely the nastiest, most ornery, and to say the least, most challenging type of molding found in a home, that being the crown molding.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    Step No. 1 to Finish Your Basement

    Posted by Chris Emard on January 21, 2020 With 0 Comment

    At some point in the life of homeowners the idea of turning an existing basement, which up to this point has served the home as little more than a giant closet for junk and seasonal apparel, into real living space, will cross the kitchen table.

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    How to Create and Sustain Basement Life

    Posted by Chris Emard on January 28, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Last week, we discussed the importance of ensuring your basement space is capable of remaining dry, essentially step one in the creation of a new living area.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    Always Plan for Your Escape

    Posted by Chris Emard on February 4, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Sometimes, you’ve just got to get yourself out of a situation in as expedient a manner as possible.

    Say you’re a teen in a home where the house rules clearly oppose the sleeping over of friends in your finished basement, with said rules especially targeting the opposite sex due to the yearnings of young love not being truly appreciated by the parental hierarchy. Then a call for breakfast wakes you both up from deep slumber; your little friend requires a quick exit.

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  • 24/08/2020 0 Comments
    A Subfloor for Your Basement

    Posted by Chris Emard on February 11, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Engineered flooring shown over a basement subfloor. STEVE MAXWELL/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

    If you’re finishing your basement, whether it be for it to serve as an exercise room, play area for the kids, or simply as a means of getting the TV downstairs, all in an attempt to create a more peaceful living atmosphere on the main level, you’re going to need flooring.

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  • 18/02/2018 - Chris Emard 0 Comments
    No Basement Subfloor Only Equals Disappointment

    Posted by Chris Emard on February 18, 2020 With 0 Comment

    Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault (24) gets hit in the face by the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the second period at the Bell Centre, on Feb. 10, 2020. ERIC BOLTE-USA TODAY SPORTS

    With the subject on the table being basement floors, let’s continue with our discussion regarding basement subfloors.

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Handyman Hints: Let there be light! (in your basement)

Posted by Chris Emard on Mar 16, 2021


Neanderthal: an archaic human species, possessing a robust build, averaging 60-65 inches in height, natural cave dweller, having the capacity to develop rudimentary tools for the purpose of hunting and construction.

Although thought to be extinct for at least 40,000 years, I believe the foundation and mechanical systems in our 30-year-old home were constructed and assembled by a crew of Neanderthals. Otherwise, how do you explain a basement height that averages just over seven feet, and 180 feet of concrete wall that boasts only two small windows? Fortunately, both windows are large enough to allow human access, albeit tight, but strategically undersized to prohibit entry to the raptor chasing them.

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Handyman Hints: Moving onto better walls

Posted by Chris Emard on Apr 13, 2021


After semi-successfully finishing our basement ceiling — with the term “semi” relating to the fact the plumbing and mechanical ductwork were modified in order to satisfy 98 per cent of society, unfortunately leaving those individuals above 76 inches in height with the choice of either declining entry to our new basement space, or equipping themselves with protective headgear, thoughtfully provided by ourselves at the bottom of the stairs — we’re moving on to the walls.

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Handyman Hints: When water ruins your perfect basement wall

Posted by Chris Emard on Apr 20, 2021


What constitutes the perfect basement wall?

Answer: one that doesn’t have a puddle of water at its base. That’s what basically defines the perfect basement wall. Puddle at the base, not good. Dry at the base, perfect.

So, regardless of how your basement wall looks, be it plain concrete or some horrible 70s style panelling, if there’s no water penetrating through to the inside, especially during those periods of spring and winter thaw, then there’s little reason to look this gifted horse in the mouth. Your perimetre concrete wall is doing its job, and is therefore, perfect.

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Handyman Hints: Searching for the seep

Posted by Chris Emard on Apr 27, 2021


Pooling or water infiltration history? Consistent water entry over the last eight years, usually occurring during periods of winter thaw, spring rains, rain accompanied by winds coming from the east, uncle Jeff urinating against the home at annual family gathering, and really any moisture-related substance falling within a few feet of our east-facing foundation wall.

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Handyman Hints: Floor it? Or live with it unfinished?

Posted by Chris Emard May 04, 2021 

The plumbing and mechanical systems have been modified or rearranged to create a living and head-room space more receptive to those winners of the genetic lottery, at least height-wise, with ductwork related concussions and general head injuries expected to drop by at least 20 percent.

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Handyman Hints: Why we dig

Posted by Chris Emard Jun 01, 2021

Just to say, if you’re going to erect a structure, and your backyard deck falls into that category, ensuring things remain level and free of movement will mean planting its feet firmly in the ground. How deep do we dig? Although prevailing rains and wind turbulence are a whole lot more severe at 100 stories high, your deck will have one foe to be wary of, and its name is frost.

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Handyman Hints: Keep your deck level, consider composites

Posted by Chris Emard on Jun 22, 2021 


What should be your deck’s essence?

Similar to the Seinfeld sitcom, it should be all about nothing. No curves, no separated side levels or balconies. No upper or lower levels. Build your deck as deep and as wide as possible, but most importantly, put it all on one level.

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Handyman Hints: Planning your deck's 'rail' way

Posted by Chris Emard Jul 06, 2021

Although building codes can differ from municipality to municipality, deck platforms higher than two feet are going to require a spindle-and-railing system that’s at least 36 inches high. Once your deck, or balcony, rises six feet or more off the ground, you’ll require a railing system that’s at least 42 inches high.

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Handyman Hints: No drawings, no permit, no rails

Posted by Chris Emard Jul 13, 2021

To review, condition one is railing height, with your railing system needing to be at least 36 or 42 inches high, depending on how high your deck is removed from the ground. Two, baluster spacing, whereby the space in between your vertical balusters shouldn’t exceed four inches. And three, post strength, whereby the newel posts will need to withstand at least 200-plus pounds of lateral pressure without deviating more than an inch or so, basically the same stress it would have to endure should the fellow batting clean-up for your men’s keg league softball team happen to lean up against it.

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Handyman Hints: The first step to a good fence between good neighbours

Posted by Chris Emard Jul 20, 2021

For reasons dating back about 2,000 years, people tend to be a little sensitive when it comes to property lines. So, and because wars have been fought over boundaries, don’t just call before you dig, but just as importantly, know exactly where your property lines are before you dig.

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Handyman Hints: Fencing etiquette to be a good neighbour

Posted by Chris Emard Jul 27, 2021

You don’t need a permit or licence to play golf. However, there are laws to the game that say you can’t nonchalantly kick your ball out of the rough onto a better playing surface, even if your opponent isn’t looking. And, there are rules pertaining to etiquette, with guidance provided for those individuals prone to profanity, along with suggested coping mechanisms designed to help frustrated individuals in the habit of burying the head of their putters into the green after having failed to sink what was essentially a gimmie.

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