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Grabber® Deckmaster®

Caulking Can Be A 'Mini'-Project

Spring is home improvement time. Generally speaking, this falls into major categories such as: spring cleaning, lawn and garden work, maintenance and repairs, upgrades and the usual list of accumulated small things.

Deciding what to do (and in what order) is an annual survival technique for those emerging from a long winter hibernation -- and the answer is obvious. Spring cleaning requires lots of motivation and dedication. Lawn and garden work (once started) goes until next fall. And doing "big stuff" requires dragging out tools and costs some evenings and maybe weekends as well.

Thus, for those wanting to "ease" into their chores -- the "honey-do" list wins hands down. And this year, completing it (and then some) is incredibly easier and more creative than ever.

Previously, it required digging out a full complement of repair "goodies" -- glues, caulks and adhesives, nails, screws, hooks and duct tape -- all in preparation for that which needed to be done.

Not this year. Many quick and creative household tune-ups can now be found in a handy four-ounce mini-tube of Polyseamseal All-Purpose Adhesive Caulk.

Though the idea of a "double-duty" formula that holds like an adhesive and seals like a caulk may not be new, the "abbreviated tube" is a new applicator that makes caulking and home repairs requiring adhesive simple. An added benefit of this "new and improved" packaging includes a re-sealable "stand-up" cap that simplifies storage and accessibility and prevents the product from prematurely drying out.

Besides all the traditional uses (such as small caulking jobs for the kitchen and bath), the new "mini" is invaluable for everything from saving time to saving money. Here are a few ideas and interesting uses:

  • Loose tile in the shower? On a countertop or backsplash? Remove it, add a few dollops and press it back into place. In 24 hours, you're good to go. Grout needs a touch-up? Use some there too.
  • Noisy cabinet doors or drawers that slam shut with a "bang?" A dab on inside corners (or on the frame) serves to quiet "bumpers."
  • Keep picture frames and mirrors hanging straight with a dab on corners too.
  • Make non-scratch, non-slip "feet" for soap dishes, liquid soap dispensers and ceramic canisters.
  • Flower pot or patio table rocks back and forth due to an uneven surface or bottom? To make "self-leveling" feet, turn it over, add a few dabs, let it partially set up (six or seven hours) and place the bottom or legs down on pieces of wax paper right where you want it. Next day, you'll have a "solid" fit.
  • Toilet tank lid doesn't fit right? Scrapes and grinds because its loose? Put a bead around the top edge of the tank or inside the lid. Let dry for 24 hours and replace for a snug (and quiet) fit.
  • Caulk any gaps or cracks that appeared over the winter. Saves energy, prevents water damage, and improves appearance! Touch up windows, doors, baseboards, tubs & sinks and much more!
  • Want wood baseboard where it cant be nailed, like around your bathtub? Glue it in place with adhesive/caulk instead.
  • Repair cracks and holes in walls, molding or railings (or hide mitering mistakes). Leave white or paint within two hours.
  • Loose linoleum, floor tiles or wood trim? Glue down with adhesive/caulk.
  • Use as wallpaper "helper." Glue loose edges back into place and seal to prevent curling due to moisture.
  • No need for mounting holes in exterior surfaces for hooks, signs, decorations or thermometers. Just apply adhesive/caulk onto the item, tape it into place and let dry. Great for brick, stucco and all types of siding. (Adhere address numbers on the house and mailbox too.)
  • Mount pegboard panels on studs in garage, carport or in the attic for storage.
  • Firm up wobbly chair and table legs.
  • Before running off to attack your "honey-do" list with a mini tube of adhesive/caulk, have a look at the following handy tips. They will make your projects go more smoothly and render professional results.

  • Always "knead" the soft tube to ensure a smooth adhesive/caulk mixture.
  • Have everything you need ready before you start.
  • Test flow and practice on scrap material first.
  • For better "control" on smaller jobs, squeeze adhesive/caulk into a disposable container first (paper cup, bottle cap or jar lid) and apply dabs or dots with an applicator stick or toothpick.
  • To smooth a bead of adhesive/caulk, use a popsicle stick or moistened finger. Many pros use an ice cube for a "slick" finish.
  • Choosing A Patio Door

    Natural light is an important feature of a home. A brightly lighted home is more cheerful and safer than one that is not. A patio door can enhance natural light. And, depending upon the style that you choose, it can be a striking architectural accent and allow you to enjoy an outdoor view. When the door opens onto a deck or patio, it extends the entertaining space of your home.

    There are two styles of patio doors—hinged (or swinging) and sliding. Aside from the fundamental differences, there are style-specific features that might influence which one you select.

    A pair of swinging patio doors has a French elegance—thus their name—French doors. A sliding patio door has straight, simple lines—a more contemporary look.

    Once, patio doors were available only in standard 6-foot 8-inch- or 6-foot 10-inch heights. Today, 8-foot-high doors are standard for many manufacturers and virtually any height or size can be special ordered.

    Patio door style can affect the available ventilation. For example, a swinging patio door can consist of a pair of "active" doors. This means that both doors can be opened. Or, one of the doors can be "center hung"—hinged on the center mullion—while the other door is a non-operational "fixed" panel. This allows all the view with only half of the ventilation. There are, however, advantages to this style.

    A pair of swinging patio doors that are both active give you much natural light and ventilation. The drawback is that they eat up a chunk of space when swinging open and can limit furniture placement in a room. An alternative is to swing the doors out onto a deck or patio. We don't recommend this since the doors would be subject to deterioration from weathering. It is the tops of the doors that are most vulnerable to deterioration. They are protected by the jamb and weather-stripping when they swing inward.

    Where space is a concern, a sliding patio door is the answer. Where furnishing a room is a challenge, you can place a piece of furniture in front of the fixed panel of a sliding patio door without affecting its operation or impairing traffic. If you like the French-door look, but space is tight, consider installing a center-hung hinged door that allows furnishings in front of the fixed panel. And, though it may offer only half of the ventilation of its French counterpart, it makes up for it with natural light (since the frame is narrower all the way around).

    Before purchasing a patio door, decide in which direction you want the door to slide or, in the case of a center-hung door, which direction it will swing. Pay attention to existing light switch- and floor-register locations before making a final decision. Both may need to be relocated should the door style or placement change. And when creating a new patio door location or installing one in place of a current window, you will want to install a new exterior light and switch for safety, security and convenience.

    And speaking of safety, security and convenience; you can get the best of all three with better brands of patio doors. If you’ve been getting piece of mind by engaging a secondary thumb turn latch at the base of your sliding patio door or you’ve had an old broomstick in the base track to prevent intruders, you are in for a surprise. High end patio doors – both swinging and sliding – come equipped with a multi-point locking system that will positively latch the door to the jamb in three to five locations depending upon the height. Therma-Tru, a leading manufacturer of fiberglass and steel exterior door systems for residential and commercial construction (, has such a system that enhances security because the lock engages the frame at several points, rather than only at one strike plate. It also keeps the door panel seated squarely in the frame, ensuring proper alignment and weather sealing even if the house settles. There is nothing like it when it comes to security and piece of mind.

    Besides enhanced beauty and security—ease of use, lower maintenance and energy-efficiency are reasons for patio door replacement. Better doors combine all of these. The construction (frame, track, rollers, hinges and hardware) is of superior materials and engineered to operate with little or no effort. If you've struggled with a sluggish sliding patio door, you'll be pleased to know that better brands can be opened and closed with minimal pressure from a finger. The same is true of swinging doors with ball-bearing hinges and upgraded hardware and a multipoint latch system. Better built doors mean less maintenance, less hassle and more money in your pocket.

    Sweating glass, drafty doors and high energy costs are a thing of the past with new energy-efficient frames, weather-stripping and glass options. The lower the "U-Value"—the sum of all the components used to construct the door—the more efficient the door. Look for the Energy Star label.

    Wood used to be the standard for swinging patio doors, and steel or aluminum for sliders. Today, you can enjoy the natural beauty of wood at the interior and have the maintenance-free protection of a vinyl, aluminum or steel cladding at the exterior. Solid vinyl frames offer good energy efficiency and low maintenance, but can't be painted—a reason why some opt for this material. And, though waning in popularity, on the low end of the energy efficiency food chain are powder-coated and anodized aluminum—what many people are replacing.

    The new kid on the block is fiberglass. It is virtually indestructible and maintenance-free; it can be painted or stained, it won't rot, it is stable, and it won't ding, dent or rust like steel doors. Nor will the patio doors swell, rot, crack or warp like wood doors.

    Installing a patio door can be a do-it-yourself project if you have the right tools for the job. Measure your opening carefully before purchasing your door. Patio doors come in a variety of sizes. Make sure to allow three-eighths of an inch on the sides and a half-inch at the head. Check all the wall surfaces to ensure they are plumb, and check corners to be certain they are square.

    Cleaning Screens and Other Spring-cleaning Tips

    A pressure washer will do a good job by itself, but the addition of detergent and a little elbow grease will result in a cleaner, brighter result. If you have a one-story home, a short pole with a scrub brush on the end will allow you to do most of the cleaning with both feet planted squarely on the ground.

    This is the one time of year when you will appreciate having a full hip roof. That's the kind that has an overhang all the way around. You can reach everything that needs cleaning with your feet on the ground. If not, you will need a ladder or scaffolding of some kind to reach additional stories or those areas where the siding is farther from the ground, like at dormers, copulas or gable ends. A gable-wall is where the wall extends up to the peak.

    Tip: Someone once told us that the only difference between a single-story home and its multistory counterpart was the stairs. Granted stairs are good exercise, but, if you have a choice, get a treadmill instead. Owning a single story home is significantly more cost-effective. Take for example the cost of maintenance. Everything you do to maintain a multistory home costs more. Once you've pulled out the pressure washer, there are a couple of things that you'll need to be careful with including screens, foliage and fabrics.

    Whether your screens are made of copper, steel, aluminum or nylon, you will need to use caution during cleaning. Older metal screens have a tendency to rip and, old or new, aluminum and nylon screens can easily be stretched out of shape. And, they don't bounce back. Once a screen is stretched, it stays that way. After the screen has been removed, lay it on a flat surface and wet it thoroughly. Use a sponge of soft bristle scrub brush to wash both sides. While the screen is drying, clean the window frame and wash and dry the window itself. If you don't have a pressure washer, use a stiff bristle brush to clean the grooves and tracks in the frame. Once the window is clean, reinstall the screen. Plants and shrubs should be protected during the cleaning process. Press wooden stakes into the ground around fragile plants and drape a lightweight plastic cover over the stakes. This will prevent surrounding activity from unnecessarily breaking limbs and branches.

    Remove fabric covered pads and other cloth or cloth-covered items from harm's way. Although most patio furniture pads are made to withstand attack by water, chances are they will last a lot longer if they aren't inundated with water and detergent.

    Finally, be careful when using ladders, scaffolding and heavy equipment such as a pressure washer. Anytime you work with equipment that sprays anything, you should wear eye protection and protective clothing. And when it comes to ladders and scaffolding, make sure you have a helper to steady things.

    Zircon to the rescue!

    Of course I could only offer moral support, as I was halfway though my business trip across the country. The next day my wife called me and reported she located Fluffy but had not recovered him because he was stuck inside a wall.

    It seems Fluffy had managed to find his way from my daughters 2nd floor bedroom, into the walls through an opening under the bathroom cabinets and then into a cavity between the ceiling/floor joist. He then crawled across the house and managed to find his way into a 1st floor cavity of an interior wall. He crawled, or more likely, fell into this wall cavity and was stuck.

    I still had one more day on my trip and was figuring that by the time I returned home my mission was going to be one of recovery rather than rescue. Upon my arrival, my wife pointed out where Fluffy was last heard. She said it had been a day since she last heard him.

    I went to my toolbox and got my StudSensor 4 and began marking the wall cavities and planning my next move. I guess our voices near the wall and the vibrations of the Zircon meter sliding on the wall woke Fluffy up. He began scratching at the wall.

    I moved the stud finder to the area of the scratching sound and held it still. Sure enough the red lights on the meter moved up and down along with the scratching sounds. I now knew exactly where Fluffy was and where I needed to cut into the wall to rescue him.

    I cut one small hole into the wall and Fluffy crawled out to me. Other than being very thirsty and hungry, he was fine.

    Rescuing Fluffy alive made my daughter very happy. Doing it with only one hole to patch made me very happy. Considering all Fluffy has been through my daughter has decided that Fluffy is not such an appropriate name for such a resilient creature. She has decided to rename him Zircon.

    Western Texas