OnTheHouse Express

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OverTheHill Fitness
OverTheHill Fitness


Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together

Serious Materials
Serious Materials

Westcoat Specialty Coatings
Westcoat Specialty Coatings


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Dr. Roof

Keep the top of your house in top condition. Dr. Roof’s advice can keep you from needing costly housecalls.

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Rebuilding Together’s National Rebuilding Day


Held on the last Saturday in April, National Rebuilding Day is the day when affiliates from all parts of the country plan projects to celebrate the organization’s mission and to bring national attention to the plight of America’s low-income homeowners and the communities in which they live. National Rebuilding Day is the culmination of a year of planning, evaluating, training, organizing, and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of community volunteers. It is embraced by community leaders and national corporate sponsors as a way of bringing immediate impact to America’s communities in a single day.

On National Rebuilding Day volunteers join local affiliate leaders to repair and restore houses and non-profit facilities, revitalizing entire communities and making a lasting impression on the families who are served. For many volunteers, it leaves them with the experiences of helping their neighbors in need, which brings them back year after year.

National Rebuilding Day is rooted at the foundation of Rebuilding Together as part of its rich 20-year history. Today Rebuilding Together’s Affiliate Network has branched out to enable many affiliates to serve their communities throughout the year. Additionally, from this rich tradition of serving America’s homeowners, Rebuilding Together has grown into a versatile organization with several national initiatives that target specific populations and address modern housing challenges.

Over the years, National Rebuilding Day has created the momentum from which Rebuilding Together has grown to the stature it enjoys today as a leading organization in the quest to preserve affordable housing for low-income Americans.

The Carey Brothers are old friends of Rebuilding Together and have participated in many projects over the years. Rebuilding Together thanks them for their support!

How can you get involved in National Rebuilding Day?

Freedom and what is it worth to us


The freedom to jump on a bicycle and ride in a serene park away from the madness that threatens to swallow our very lives.

The freedom play and frolic with our sons and daughters.

These are freedoms worth sacrificing for, freedoms that no amount of money can buy.

Now as I ponder over choises made I find great joy in friends and relish in their new found strength I am free at 62.

Are you? Go to www.overthehillfitness.com (please link to the website) to learn more.

Building a Lasting Deck

. Anyone who has ever built a deck can attest to the satisfaction derived from a job well done. Such a deck, surrounded by landscaping, can transform a poorly utilized section of barren land into an outdoor "oasis" ideal both for backyard entertaining and improving a property's value. Unfortunately, this "oasis" can, over time, become a "wasteland" if poorly constructed, or if left unprotected against the forces of Mother Nature.

Fortunately, improved materials, modern construction techniques and high-quality wood-finishing products can mean that you'll spend more time catching rays on your deck than repairing the damage caused by them. Allow us to shed light on the rays to which we refer. They are the ultraviolet kind produced by the sun. They can turn the rich look of cedar or redwood into that all-too-familiar "battleship gray."

While the sun does damage to a deck, water can by no means be considered any less of a threat. Water, to a finished deck, usually means mold, fungus and rot. Thus, sun and rain can be a lethal combination to a deck unprepared to combat the negative effects of these elements.

The first step to a lasting deck involves material choices. Depending upon where you live in the country, redwood, cedar or treated southern yellow pine are the most popular choices for decking. Aside from their natural beauty, redwood and cedar contain resins that make them more pest resistant than other wood species. However, the last several years have seen an insurgence of synthetic materials manufactured from such products as vinyl, recycled plastic grocery bags and a combination of plastic and wood fibers.

The material cost for many of the synthetic products is equal to or slightly higher than their natural counterparts. However, proponents of the former contend that overall cost is less once finish and ongoing maintenance are considered. In spite of this, some manmade products can be stained or painted.

Ultimately, it all boils down to personal taste and the amount of time and energy one is willing to invest to keep it looking good.

The other material component that has much to do with the lasting quality of a deck is the framing system or "joist." Although redwood, cedar and pine are excellent choices for decking, they don't have the structural integrity of, say fir, making them poor choices for joist. Pressure-treated fir (lumber that has been treated with a pesticide) is the best choice for joist, girders and support posts due to its strength and pest resistance.

The means by which deck boards are attached to the joists has an impact on the appearance and longevity of a deck. In days gone by, the primary means of fastening decking to the framing was nails driven through the top of the deck boards into the joist. In an attempt to improve holding power and to prevent hammer dents and nail heads from popping up, high-end deck builders switched from nails to screws.

Unfortunately, builders soon discovered that the deck screw didn't solve the biggest threat to wood decking - rot. As wood weathers and shrinks, screws and nails loosen and pop up, becoming hazardous and allowing water to penetrate through the deck boards and joists, causing wood rot.

Thus, the hidden deck fastening system was born. One such that we discovered is Deckmaster. In this system, deck boards are fastened from below using stainless steel screws and a series of 22-inch galvanized or stainless steel brackets that are attached to either side of a joist in a staggered pattern. For more information on Deckmaster, go to (www.deckmaster.com) or call 1-800-869-1375.

Besides protecting the deck surface by eliminating the primary cause of deck failure - moisture penetration through exposed screw or nail holes - the hidden deck fastening system results in a safer, more attractive and longer-lasting deck.

Beyond material and the means of attachment, a deck-finishing product (stain or wood preservative) can be the deciding factor in maintaining the beauty and enhancing the lasting-quality of a deck.

Generally, deck-finishing products are available in either water-base or oil-base. Although many do-it-yourselfers prefer water-base finishes due to easy soap-and-water cleanup, we have yet to experience a water-base finish that can measure up to a good penetrating oil finish.

Some high-quality oil-base deck finishes contain transoxide pigments that will protect the wood from up to 99 percent of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. What's more, they also contain a mildewcide that will prevent moss and fungus growth on the wood.

As with any painting or staining project, preparation is the key. Before applying a coat of finish, the deck should be clean and dry. New deck material should have the opportunity to air dry for maximum absorption of the oil finish. Old decking should be washed with synthetic trisodium phosphate (TSP) and a stiff bristle broom. Badly aged and discolored decking should be treated with a deck bleach or deck brightening product and might even require power washing. The finish can be applied the day after the deck has been allowed to air dry.

The Anatomy of a Paintbrush

. If you follow our column, you know we regularly preach that 80 percent of a good paint job is preparation. Paint won't stick well when applied to a dirty wall, and doesn't look good when used to cover a damaged one. Once you've properly prepared a surface and begun painting, you'll want the job of brushing to be as simple and effective as possible.

Good paintbrushes are available in natural and synthetic bristles, and the use for which each type was designed is either marked on the brush package or somewhere on the brush itself. The message usually is specific - "for use with oil-base paints" or "for use with water-base paint." Generally, natural (animal hair) bristles are used with oil-base paints and synthetic bristles are used with water-base ones. There are some bristles designed to work with both types of paint. The brush package is important. Don't throw it away. It is designed to keep the bristles properly shaped.

In addition to selecting the proper bristle type, you should study the brush's overall construction carefully. Beyond bristles, better-quality brushes have several other important components: the handle, ferrule, divider plug and the metal insert.

The ferrule on a high-quality brush is attached with screws, rivets or brads. An indication that the brush is not as good is when the ferrule is the slip-on type. Nothing other than friction holds the ferrule in place. Imagine the friction-fit ferrule as a loose-fitting pair of pants without a belt. As easily as a loose pair of pants can drop to your ankles, so can a friction-fit ferrule slip off the handle of an inexpensive paintbrush. Here's a way to test the ferrule. Slap the side of the brush against the palm of your hand. If the ferrule is properly attached it will feel solid and won't wiggle. If the ferrule moves, buying the brush might be a mistake. If during the test several bristles fall out of the ferrule, put it back. There is no more irritating experience than trying to remove paintbrush bristles from a freshly painted surface.

An abundance of bristles also is important. This easily can be checked. By separating the bristles in half (in a line parallel with the width of the brush) the divider plug can be observed within the ferrule. In a good brush, the divider is smaller, leaving room for more bristles. In a cheaper brush, the divider is larger leaving less room for the bristles. A brush that has more bristles will hold more paint. This means fewer trips from the bucket to the surface being painted. Also, when there are more bristles to hold the paint, there is less chance that the paint will run down the bristles, onto the handle, and, ultimately, your hand.

Finally, it is wise to test the bristle memory. Part of what gives the painter the ability to paint straight edges is the shape of the brush. Good bristles have what is known as a memory, or the ability to flex back to their original position once bent or twisted in some other shape. Less expensive brushes don't have a good memory. To make the test, hold the paintbrush by its handle and with the other hand bend its bristles over at a right angle. If the brush is of good quality, the bristles will immediately spring back into place. A good paintbrush will retain its shape after many uses.

We aren't painting snobs. There are times when a cheap throwaway brush can be useful. However, we don't believe that such is ever the case when painting fine wood finishes and trim.

Once you are finished using a fine paintbrush, make sure to get it completely clean. Don't soak the brush in a can of solvent (water or thinner) overnight. The paint will settle to the bottom of the can and stick to the bristles, and the bristles might also be permanently bent.