Enjoy Mr. Done Right's Blog with Helpful Information About Fixin' Stuff!

I will be posting tips and tricks of the trades bi-weekly. Just let me know \iIf there is something you would like to learn more about.

Mr. Done Right's Blog

Materials You Might Need for Home Improvement

The materials that you will need to take on a home improvement project depends on what the task at hand is. With any home improvement or repair job, you will need many types of tools and materials. Many materials can be bought at a fairly low rate, while some equipment will be costly, but can be used for multiple jobs.

One thing that will be required before you begin any home improvement job is a building permit. If you don’t acquire one, you will be subject to steep penalties and fines. Check with codes enforcement before starting any sizable home improvement project.

For jobs that require you to work on sub-flooring, you will likely require some kind of bonding agent, screws, a level, plywood, lumber, and nails. If you are installing new hardwood flooring you will probably need sandpaper, clean cloths, paste wax, wood restorer, oxalic acid, cleaning tools, rubber gloves, vinegar, wood patches, nails, a putty knife, a floor buffer, a hammer, and a vacuum to complete the job properly.

Not having the right materials for any home improvement job can lead to extra cost and any number of problems. Research what you need, and buy the best materials that you can afford. For example, paneling the walls will require a variety of tools and materials, including a putty knife, a nail set, a caulk gun, a flat pry bar, a square, a mallet, a hammer, a carpentry knife, and a wallboard knife. You will also have to buy the paneling, wood filler, putty stick, finishing nails, adhesive, and shims to finish the job right.

A common outside project is building a pond, which will require you to have a hose, hammer, spade, some pond liner, a level, sand, decorative stones, and mortar. You might also want to consider landscape materials, such as plants or flowers.

Plumbing jobs can be challenging, but can be done yourself. For example, repairing a shower can often be done by purchasing a repair kit. The kit might include flooring, walls, or doors. It might also consist of showerheads and faucet.

Since kits don’t usually come with tools, you should have a basic stock of them. For plumbing, you might need PVC Pipe, primer, CPVC Cement, screwdriver, a pipe wrench, tubing cutter, liquid nails, and Silicon Sealant.

To repair or replace drywall, you only need to follow a few simple steps. The job will require a putty trial, tray, sandpaper, joint putty, and a scraper.

Tile repair can be challenging if you don’t have the right tools for the job. You will need adhesive, scraper, a chisel, a hammer, and caulk.

For woodworking jobs, you will need to buy particular tools for the project. You will need some type of ear protection and eye protection. You will need a floor sander and belt sander, which can be rented by the hour. You will also need a dust mask, a sanding block and different grains of sandpaper, a paintbrush, and cross peen hammer. Other woodworking tools you might want to invest in include a plane and a shave hook.

It is important to stay on task when working on home improvement projects, and to get the right tools for the job. This will prevent confusion and mistakes, will could cost more time and money.

No More Boring Ceilings

When building a new home or upgrading your existing home, there are many upgrades available to customize the home to your particular tastes. From the type of flooring to the lights in the ceiling, there are thousands of options available to make your new home uniquely yours. One area often overlooked during the process of selecting finishes or planning for fixtures is the ceiling. Keeping the following available options in mind when planning your new home can set it apart from the crowd.

Increased Ceiling Height – Simply raising the ceiling height to 9 feet over the traditional 8-foot finish can change the feel of the room and perception of size dramatically. Even mid range mobile home manufacturers have recently started offering this as an option on some of their models for a modest upgrade cost.

Cathedral Ceilings – A cathedral ceiling is a ceiling that has a center point higher than the walls. This is the most common type of upgrade to ceiling structure and goes a long way to increasing the overall perception of room size.

Vaulted Ceilings – A vaulted ceiling has one wall of the room taller than the opposing wall. The ceiling slants down to the lowest wall again giving the impression or illusion that the room is larger than it is really is due to the increased volume. If planned correctly, an often inexpensive way to upgrade your home during the building process. In many cases, this upgrade is little more than selecting the correct type of ceiling trusses.

Coffered Ceilings – One of my favorites, coffered ceilings comes in numerous styles and finishes from rich hard woods to simple painted drywall surfaces. The box like structure can be very expensive based upon the type of finish selected. Homebuilders have recently begun to use a variation of coffered ceilings in some areas of the home to highlight light fixtures in areas such as the dining room. If your home has the ceiling height to work with there are do it yourself kits available that are relatively easy to install. A handy person could build out a coffered looking ceiling using ordinary lumber and sheetrock with spectacular end results that can still get that ‘wow’ from someone entering the room.

Cove Ceilings – Often found in home from the early 1900’s these types of ceilings while providing a classic and luxurious look are not nearly as difficult to create as would first appear. The quarter circle curve is usually accented with crown molding where it meets the wall providing a uniquely Victorian look. This look is best when the ceiling has a minimum height of 10 feet to provide a large enough radius for the transition from ceiling to wall.

Final Finish – The final finish can make a big difference in the look of your home and is something a do it yourselfer can change in an existing home. Removing an old acoustic ceiling or spraying a modern texture such as knock-down in its place, or in the place of having a flat finish might be just the upgrade you are looking for in your home.

These are not your only options available, but hopefully they have served as a reminder that when building your new home there is more to planning out your ceilings than selecting “white” or “off-white” for your paint color.

Thank you for taking the time with me to learn more about what Mr. Done Right, the handyman / contractor does for you.


Don Fenton

(AKA) Mr. Done Right

For more information on handyman or contractor work in the greater Austin area (or beyond), please contact your premiere handyman, Don Fenton, AKA Mr. Done Right Handyman Contractor of Austin, because Mr. Done Right ensures any repairs and/or remodels get Done Right the first time! Call us now for a free estimate! 512-659-8931


Mr. Done Right on FacebookMr. Done Right on YelpMr. Done Right on Angie's ListMr. Done Right on Yellow Pages, YP.com

* Click here to protect your privacy and the safety of your children on the Internet.

Laying Vinyl Tile The Right Way

Vinyl Tile is still one of the best floor coverings to choose for kitchens and bathrooms. Ceramic tile is great, but the cost to have a professional install it can be prohibitive. The answer, vinyl tiles installed by you. You will save a lot of money you can use toward other home improvements you want to do.

Vinyl tile is also a great choice for other reasons. There are some beautiful choices of both style and color. There are so many different patterns and colors to choose from that you will want to take your time in choosing something that will enhance the beauty of your kitchen or bathroom.

In addition to that, vinyl tile is much better than linoleum for practical reasons. With a linoleum floor, one accident and the whole floor is ruined basically, because it is all one piece. When you buy vinyl tile, you buy extra squares. If an accident ruins one or two tiles, you replace them.

In this article I will help you learn how to install your own vinyl tile floor with confidence. I’m going to teach you the old school way of laying this beautiful floor covering. I call it old school, because I learned from tile layers that had been doing it for years before I started.

First, we need to start with the basics. I don’t know what is on the floor where you plan to put down vinyl tile, so I’m going to show you what our preparation goals are. We want a nice smooth surface to lay our vinyl tile on.

Some people will tile over existing tile. This can be okay, but it is not the preferred choice. To do this right, you need to remove whatever flooring is there now, until you are down to either a smooth cement or wooden surface.

If there are cracks and valleys or unleveled surfaces, they need to be filled and smoothed out before we can start laying your vinyl tile. On cement or wooden surfaces, you can use cement to fill in and smooth the surface. You can also install plywood over the existing floor to achieve the surface your vinyl tile needs. You caulk in all the joints after installing the plywood. You can use Durok as well.

The goal, as I said before, is to have a smooth surface before you begin to lay vinyl tile. Otherwise, your tile will crack wherever pressure is placed on the tile over existing rough areas.

Now, buying the vinyl tile you want is next. There is self-adhesive vinyl tile that is very inexpensive. However, remember you get what you pay for. The adhesive on these tiles is not of great quality and you will be replacing them often. They are usually very thin as well, so they are easily damaged.

The thicker the vinyl tile, the more expensive and durable it is. That is the rule of thumb. Choose vinyl tile that has about 1/8” thickness or above and you will have a floor that will last a long time. So choose your style and color wisely. It will be with you awhile.

Now, the tools you will need are next. You will not need a tile cutter. That isn’t the old school method. Using a tile cutter is tedious and slow, and your edges will never be tight. You will need a good razor knife, a small butane torch, a trowel with teeth along one edge for applying the adhesive, some old rags, and some mineral spirits.

A lot of experts will tell you to always begin in the center of the room when laying any kind of tile. However with kitchens and bathrooms, this is not always or even often the best method. Starting at one wall and working toward your cabinets is much better, because most of your tiles that need to be cut will be under the edge of the cabinets and not seen.

Starting along one wall, trowel on your adhesive, making sure there are ridges by using the toothed edge of your trowel. Do not go too far away from the wall as you will be laying tile there and don’t want to have to reach while doing so.

Let the adhesive dry for about 15 minutes so it’s very sticky. Lay your first tile at the corner and continue to lay a row, making sure you keep your tiles aligned. As you get to the end of your row, do not worry about the area that is left over where a whole tile will not fit in. We will take care of that last. However, remove the adhesive from that area so it won’t dry before we get back to it.

The adhesive you applied should have gone just a little further out than the row of tile itself, so now you have a row, with a little adhesive area waiting for the next row.

Now start back at the beginning. Apply a little more than a row’s width of adhesive, let it dry, then lay another row of tile, again making sure you align the tiles with each other so your lines are straight..

Once you have done the entire floor except those areas where a whole tile would not fit in, let the floor dry until tomorrow. Do not allow anyone to walk on the floor. The adhesive takes time to dry.

Now, once the adhesive is dry, we are ready to do the cutting in portion of your vinyl tile job. You should be able to walk carefully on the tiles without moving them by now. If not, you may have used too much adhesive and will have to wait longer, until you are sure it is dry.

Now, let’s cut it in. Go to where your first row that ended with a little space left over. Apply some adhesive to that area, plus on the floor, along the wall where you are going to put in your cut pieces of vinyl tile. Let that dry, just as you did before for 15 minutes.

Now, take a full vinyl tile, matching it up with your tiles already on the floor at the bottom, lean it at an angle to the wall. Let me explain so you are sure to understand. You place the tile against the edge of the last tile in the row as if you were about to lay it down, but just let it lean against the wall at whatever angle it has to.

Now, you will need your razor knife and your small butane torch. Be careful with the little torch that you don’t burn anything, please. If you are not comfortable with handling a small torch, this method is not for you.

Place the fingers of one hand on the top of the tile along the wall with very slight downward pressure. Wave the flame of the torch back and forth across the center of the tile about where you would like it to bend. Don’t let the flame linger on the tile to melt it. Keep a distance so it only gets heated up.

As it gets hot, the pressure from your fingers will begin to push the vinyl tile downward, bending it into place. As soon as the tile is bent to the point where it is flat against the floor and the rest against the wall, set down your torch, pointing it carefully away from anything or anyone, and take your razor knife and cut along the bend right at the wall. It will cut like butter.

Now that tile fits perfectly to the contour of the wall. It also, because of the light pressure you applied as you pressed it down, has tightened up that entire row, so the vinyl tiles will not separate later. This is a floor that will last a long time and answers the problem of the tiles separating later.

Continue that same process for each row and everywhere the tiles need to be cut in. Then clean up. You are now an old school master at laying vinyl tile!

One last warning, as I said before, if you are not comfortable using flame, you should go ahead and use a tile cutter. It may not be as tight, but you can still do a good job with it without endangering yourself. This article was intended to pass on an old school method I learned and have used to lay many beautiful tile floors that lasted for years. I hope that by passing it onto you, the old way will not be lost.

Thank you for taking the time with me to learn more about what Mr. Done Right, the handyman / contractor does for you.


Don Fenton

(AKA) Mr. Done Right

For more information on handyman or contractor work in the greater Austin area (or beyond), please contact your premiere handyman, Don Fenton, AKA Mr. Done Right Handyman Contractor of Austin, because Mr. Done Right ensures any repairs and/or remodels get Done Right the first time! Call us now for a free estimate! 512-659-8931



Mr. Done Right on Facebook Mr. Done Right on Yelp Mr. Done Right on Angie's List Mr. Done Right on Yellow Pages, YP.com

* Click here to protect your privacy and the safety of your children on the Internet.

DIY Methods to Save on Utilities

If your utility bill is out of control, you need to consider ways to tame the beast. There are plenty of do it yourself [DIY] ways to save on utilities.

DIY Methods to Save on Utilities

Utility costs for heating, cooling and electricity are near record highs. Worse, they are expected to rise fairly dramatically over the next few years. Since you will live in a residence for the rest of your life, making small changes to save money on utilities will save you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. Here are some areas to check out and fix to start saving some bucks.

Leaks and drafts from the interior of your home to the exterior can easily double your utility bill. There are a couple of obvious areas to check out such as windows, frames around doors, fireplaces and entrances to attics. Less obvious spots to check include gaps around electric outlets, mail slots, pipes, spaces around baseboards and gaps around air conditioners where the interface with the exterior. If you find gaps, caulking can often take care of the problem or you can pursue a weekend DIY repair.

Insulation in a home can be a real problem when it comes to utilities. Since I hope to avoid getting sued, let me just suggest builders tend to use the minimum amount and grade of insulation required by regulations when building homes. If you live in a tract home, this may be all the more true.

If you seal the areas where you have drafts, but the heater or air conditioner is still turning on every few minutes, insulation may be a problem. Inspecting insulation isn’t the easiest or most comfortable task. The easiest method is to first climb into the attic and see if there is any exposed insulation. Unfortunately, the grade of insulation in the ceiling may not match the grade in the walls.

To check the walls, the best bet is to find a small are where you might have a hole. Closets are typical spots. If you have kids, look for areas where a doorknob has punched through a wall. If none of these are available, you can remove a small surface area in a closet. Once done, determine if the entire area is filled with insulation as well as the R grade of your insulation. Compare it to recommended grades in your area. You can then patch the area and nobody will be the wiser. If all else fails, get a thermal inspection for a professional.

Most people are not going to need to blow out their insulation. Doing so will help, but sealing a home will go a long way to cutting your utility costs. With this in mind, give your home the once over.


Thank you for taking the time with me to learn more about what Mr. Done Right, the handyman / contractor does for you.


Don Fenton

(AKA) Mr. Done Right

For more information on handyman or contractor work in the greater Austin area (or beyond), please contact your premiere handyman, Don Fenton, AKA Mr. Done Right Handyman Contractor of Austin, because Mr. Done Right ensures any repairs and/or remodels get Done Right the first time! Call us now for a free estimate! 512-659-8931



Mr. Done Right on Facebook Mr. Done Right on Yelp Mr. Done Right on Angie's List Mr. Done Right on Yellow Pages, YP.com

* Click here to protect your privacy and the safety of your children on the Internet.

Choosing The Right Screw For The Job

To the untrained eye, one screw is as good as another, but those with a little more awareness have a better chance of realising that choosing the right screw for a particular job can mean the difference between a project succeeding and failing.

The industrial and construction sectors have literally hundreds of different types of screws and fasteners to select from; each type suited for a particular usage e.g. lubricated timber decking screws for quicker driving into outdoor decking, self-drilling screws for the convenience of not having to drill pilot holes and even screws that work specifically with the mechanical properties of plastics.

Before you can choose the best screw for a job you should consider the characteristics you desire in a screw such as:

* Does it need to be waterproof to avoid corrosion from moisture?
* Does the screw head need to be flush with material once it’s screwed into place?
* Does the screw need to be protected from vandalism or unauthorised removal?
* Is the screw to be used in wood, metal or perhaps plastic?
* What length of screw is required?

For different types of material there tends to be a different type of screw. Take the following as examples:

* Wood screws – designed to perform best in all types of wood including hardwood, MDF and chipboard. Smaller screws have less chance of splitting wood, but if you’re using larger screws and/or working near the end of a piece of wood then it’s often safer to drill a pilot hole first.

* Floor screws – these will cope with the issue of different expansion rates so are best used for securing timber or chipboard to steel supports. Made by a process that ensures a hard exterior whilst retaining a tough, flexible core.

* Self-drilling screws – designed for convenience as only a screwdriver is required. These screws drill their own holes and form their own mating threads ensuring the best fit in a single attempt.

* Timber decking screws – specially designed to deal with outdoor conditions with durable, protective coatings.

* Frame anchor screws – designed for fixing window and door frames made from PVC-U, wood or aluminium directly to brickwork without the need for plugs or nylon anchors.

A general rule of thumb for determining an appropriate length of you should look for a screw length that will allow two-thirds of its length to be embedded into the material being fastened to. So, for example, if you’re fastening a 1-inch thick piece of timber to a wooden post then you should be looking at embedding 2-inches of the screw into the post. That means you would require a screw length of 3-inches.

All good screw suppliers will be able to advise on the appropriate screws for your task. The important thing is to appreciate that not all screws are the same and that using the right screw can mean a secure installation, whilst the wrong screw can mean in an accident waiting to happen.


Thank you for taking the time with me to learn more about what Mr. Done Right, the handyman / contractor does for you.


Don Fenton

(AKA) Mr. Done Right

For more information on handyman or contractor work in the greater Austin area (or beyond), please contact your premiere handyman, Don Fenton, AKA Mr. Done Right Handyman Contractor of Austin, because Mr. Done Right ensures any repairs and/or remodels get Done Right the first time!  Call us now for a free estimate! 512-659-8931


Mr. Done Right on Facebook Mr. Done Right on Yelp Mr. Done Right on Angie's List Mr. Done Right on Yellow Pages, YP.com

Build Your Own Garage Workbench

A garage workbench is an essential piece of equipment in any home workshop. A workbench will allow you to complete projects easily and with greater accuracy. A variety of pre made workbenches are available to fit your needs. If you prefer, you can make your own workbench, either with a kit or from a plan.

Choosing a garage workbench

Workbenches are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Benches are great for woodworking, crafts and other household projects. You can purchase a bench at most home improvement stores. Another option is to build your own bench. You can find plans in books and on the internet with instructions to create the perfect bench to suit your needs.

A table style workbench is made of heavy duty materials to stand up to regular use. Most models have a hardwood top with metal legs. Table tops can also be made of steel. These resemble a typical table shape with nothing underneath.

Cabinet style benches have drawers or cabinets in the space under the table top. This is great for utilizing otherwise wasted space. This method allows for additional storage space. Some have a pegboard backing that is perfect for hanging hand tools. You won’t need to dig through drawers or a tool box to find what you need.

A power strip bench is a good choice if you use power tools often. These come with up to nine outlets in a strip with a heavy duty power cord. They also have current protection to prevent overload. These can be either six or eight foot benches. Some have a tool caddy to hold smaller tools.

Build Your Own Workbench

Consider building your own bench to get exactly what you want. Kits are available with everything you need to create your bench. Instructions and materials are included with the kit. With this method, you will be limited to the kit’s design. The benefit is that all pieces are pre cut. You won’t need to worry about uneven cuts.

You can build your own bench and purchase all the materials. This method is a bit more complicated, but you have more control about the final outcome. Free workbench plans are available on the internet with detailed instructions for you to follow. Cut the plywood according to the directions and be sure to make your cuts straight.

For best results, choose good quality wood, oak or a hardwood plywood is an excellent choice. Use several coats of polyurethane to protect the top of the bench. Be sure to sand between each coat. A good urethane coating makes messes easier to clean up when working on projects later.

Organizing and Making Room in your Garage

You will need to organize your garage and create storage space to make room for workbenches. Determine what you need to store. Start with a good clean out and get rid of things you don’t need. Throw away old paint and other junk. Give away or donate old items, tools or other things that are too good to throw away, but that you don’t need any more.

The walls of your garage offer great opportunities for storage space. Cabinets are great for organizing clutter. High cabinets are good for storing chemicals and paints. Sharp items can be put up high to keep them away from children. Consider locks if you have young children. Locker cabinets are perfect for larger items. Drawers are good for organizing tools, fishing equipment and other small items.

Breathe Life into your old vanity

If you can’t stand the look of your vanity and want to breathe some new life back into it, you should consider trying to spruce it up. Aside from what you may have heard, an old vanity cabinet can be overhauled with little to no money. While you could always invest in a new cabinet, you’d be amazed at the kind of satisfaction a small amount of elbow grease and time can bring about.

Probably the most lucrative option for those with an unsightly bathroom vanity cabinet is to paint it. Most vanities can be painted with standard paints available at home improvement stores. If you’re unsure as to what type of paint your project will require, it’s best to talk to an employee at your local home improvement store. The employee should be able to give you some insight into the materials you’ll need to execute your project.

If painting’s not something you’re looking forward to, you should consider replacing the hardware on your vanity. Swapping out your bathroom vanity cabinet’s old hardware, with new and shiny hardware can bring about astonishing results. It really doesn’t take much to revitalize a room’s focal point.

If neither the above options appeal to you, you have the option of replacing your vanity’s countertop. The countertop is one of the bolder elements of a countertop and can thus work to enhance its appearance or utterly annihilate it. If your vanity’s current countertop is simply no longer cutting it, you should seriously consider replacing it. Those that are willing to spend more money should consider purchasing real stone countertops. If the budget’s a bit tight, you can also go with a laminate countertop. Both will get the job done – just at varying prices.

Giving your vanity a new look isn’t as hard as it initially appears. If you’re willing to dedicate a little time and patience, the possibilities for revitalizing an old vanity are endless.


Helpful? Please spread the word :)