How to Build a Weed Proof Landscaping Bed?

Spring is here, Time to work in the yard… Are weeds an issue? Here is the fix:

This project is fast and easy although it will require a bit of digging, But nearly anyone can do this.

There are only a few steps to completing this project, And you will need some materials and a few tools:

Here is a typical list:

  • Enough landscaping timbers to go around the bed you wish to complete stacking them at least 3 timbers high, Just measure the length and width of all sides that you wish to install the timbers, In most cases on the sidewalk or walk path will need these timbers if your bed will be placed against the house or a building, You will need enough to go all the way around if your bed will be in the yard and not in contact with a house or building.
  • Enough mulch or wood bark to fill the bed at least 3” thick (Length x Width x Depth)
  • 24” pieces of ½” rebar (Will be used for stakes to hold the timbers in place) you will need at least 3 for a 10’ft timber
  • Roll of “Landscaping Mat” or enough to cover your bed with 36” extra on all sides (If your bed is 3’ x 10’ you will need = 3’+3’+3’ Width x 3’+10’+3’ Length or 144 Square Foot
  • Drill with 9/16” wood bit at least 6” long
  • Drill
  • Extension cord
  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Shrubs
  • Utility knife or scissors

Okay you are now ready to begin your project, As always make sure that you are physically able to withstand heat, cold and strenuous work and that you always have someone with you in case of an accident.

And always REMEMBER TO CALL: Before you DIG!, There may be buried water lines, gas lines, or electrical lines. Each town has a FREE locate service. Please use this service before you dig!

  1. Purchase all materials desired
  2. Begin by digging a narrow trench next to the walk way where you wish to install the bed
  3. The trench should be at least 6” deep x 6” wide x desired length
  4. Save the dirt removed to return to the bed later (If needed)
  5. Remove any excessive dirt so that the bed is at least 2” lower than walkway if next to it
  6. Lay the landscaping mat out so that it extends 18” larger than the bed itself
  7. The excess will be used to wrap the 2nd stacked timber
  8. Guide the mat into the trench you have dug
  9. Lay one timber in the trench around the bed
  10. Stack the next timber on top of the first one
  11. Drill at least 3 – 9/16” holes in an timber 10’ft long (Every 2’ or so) into both timbers stacked on each other (Your drill bit may not go all the way through both timbers, This is okay, After you drill through the top one it will mark the location on the bottom one.
  12. Lay the top board to the side (You will use it for a template for the 3rd board so that all holes will line up correctly
  13. Continue to drill out the whole on the 1st board in the trench
  14. Using the 2nd board, Lay it on top of the 3rd board and mark the holes by drilling through the 2nd one again, Remove the template board and continue to drill the 3rd board
  15. Now you are ready to install them
  16. Place the 2nd timber on top of the 1st one.
  17. Drive your ½” rebar into the two timbers in the trench (Make sure the holes are aligned) Leave about 4”-5” of the rebar sticking out of the timber
  18. Now pull the landscaping mat up and over the 2nd timber forcing the rebar through the mat
  19. Tuck the excess over the inside of the timber (You are wrapping the two timbers together)
  20. Now lay the 3rd timber on top of the second one
  21. Now fill the bed to desired depth with mulch or top soil
  22. Plant the desired plants with small hole in landscaping mat (Only large enough for plant stem, root or seed.
  23. Make sure that the rebar is flush with the top of the 3rd timber (For safety)
  24. I have attached a few drawings to show the important views
  25. Enjoy your weedless flower bed.
Weed Proof Landscaping Bed
Weed Proof Landscaping Bed

 

Weed Proof Landscaping Bed
Weed Proof Landscaping Bed

 

Weed Proof Landscaping Bed
Weed Proof Landscaping Bed

How to install An Interior Exhaust Fan?

Installing a new interior exhaust fan in your restroom is a very easy project which takes only a few hours and greatly improves air circulation in small to large rooms. However since the exhaust fan requires electricity and working with wire connections you must use extreme caution if you are not comfortable working with electrical power. If you have no knowledge working with electric current please stop here and contact a qualified electrician for the wiring part of this project.

1. Purchase the desired exhaust fan from your local hardware store.
2. Most exhaust fans come with a “Template” to correctly mark the hole size and opening in your ceiling. Before marking the hole you will need to ensure that there will be no framing or conduits, wiring etc in your way. You may have to enter the attic to find the proper location for your new fan. (Use caution while moving around in the attic and stay on the framing only)
3. Now that you are sure you have the correction location and are between studs in the ceiling
4. Place your template on the ceiling in the correct area and mark all 4 corners with a pencil
5. Take a small drill bit and drill a hole on each mark (Make sure hole is square with room)
6. Now draw a line from one hole to the next till you have a box shape drawn on the ceiling
7. See diagram below:

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8. Carefully cut the opening out with a keyhole or draw wall saw
9. Make sure you are wearing safety glasses to prevent dust from getting in your eyes
10. Remove the piece of drywall from the ceiling and discard
11. The ceiling should look like the figure below now:

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12. Next you will install the exhaust fan from the attic space
13. Each exhaust fan comes with adjustable brackets that will span from one rafter/ceiling joist to another.
14. These brackets are very import since they carry the weight of the fan and allow the fan to run without making noise and vibrating.
15. The brackets can be screwed or nailed to the studs
16. Now place the fan and brackets in place and in line with the hole in the ceiling and between the studs, make sure that everything lines up correctly
17. See image below (Attic view of installed fan)

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18. After everything is secured in place (Wiring comes next)
19. Make sure that all power is off and you are comfortable with this step – IF NOT STOP AND CALL A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN
20. After wiring is connected test the unit and switch
21. Install the interior cover on the fan
22. Your new exhaust fan should look similar to the image below:

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The following images are for quick reference and may assist you in installing your new fan.

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How to Build Porch Railings?

Building a handrail or porch railing is a fairly easy task, and in most cases a simple design can be completed in 1 day, (Unfinished/Unpainted). Materials cost are not very expensive and are easy to come by.

In some cases you may already have the porch posts and only need to add handrails, rails and balustrades. Limited use of electric saws may be needed along with power screw guns.

As in most projects you will need to be familiar with basic tools as mentioned above, and be able to read a tape measure.

The following are basic step by step instructions on how to complete this project. ALWAYS be safe and use the proper protection before doing any project involving power tools and sharp objects.

1. Measure the area that you wish to install the handrails and or posts
2. After you have the total lineal feet desired (Write this number down as LF)
3. Now decide how many post you would like to have (These will be the post that go from the deck or porch surface to the bottom of the ceiling/roof) You will need at least 3 since you will need one to start the handrail, one at the corner and one at the wall you are connecting to, If any length between the post would be more than 8’ft apart you will need to add another one between them.
4. Take you total LF and divide that number by 4’ft (16’ / 4’ = 4) So you will need 4 post
5. Start laying out the design on the porch with chalk to get a basic idea of size ad position
6. You will then determine how close you want your small balustrades apart? In most states they are required to have no more than a 3” gap between them to prevent small children from injury by entrapment.
7. You can purchase ready-made Balustrades at Home Depot, Lowes etc… And are already cut to shape and length. And come in several styles and cost about $1.50 – $3.50 each keep track of how many you will want by dividing the LF of handrail by 6” which would be 32 balustrades.
8. You can also buy “SIMPSON” strong tie connectors and post bases which hold your post securely in place. You will need one for the bottom of each post
9. Post bases are also available to purchase that are already cut to shape with different profiles and designs, (Made for 4” and 6” post) 4” is the most common and easiest to use
10. The handrails or TOP/BOTTOM rails are just typically made of a 2” x 4” board with routed or smooth top corners and are cut to length needed between posts (You will need about 32’ LF of these boards) 16’ for top rail and 16’ for bottom rail. These will be the boards that hold the balustrades in place and secure
11. The only remaining wood parts will be the handrail braces which are cut from a 2” x 4” board to a 6” length. You will need 2 per post and 4 for corner post
12. These braces will be the support for the TOP and bottom rails
13. I have provided a few drawings to show the basic layouts of all parts.

Porch Railings View 1
Porch Railings View 1
Porch Railings View 2
Porch Railings View 2

The drawing above shows an angle view of the corner style handrail system with 5 posts and they are installed on a 4’ft center and the balustrades on a 4-1/2” center (3” gap between) Notice the small 2” x 4” x 6” wood blocks at the bottom of the post.

Porch Railings View 3
Porch Railings View 3

The drawing above shows a 5 post system that is 16’ LF.

How to Add a Closet To Your House Or Garage For Additional Storage Space?

This article will assist you in adding a closet for additional storage space within your house or garage. It is a fairly simple process and rather quick to complete. However if you decide to use drywall it will take 2-3 days to complete due to dry times of seam/joint treatment, floating and texture and painting. If you use a material such as wood paneling the whole project can be completed within 6-8 hours.

Before you start you will need the following tools:

  • Screw gun (and #2 Phillips head driver bit)
  • Level
  • Square
  • Fine Tip Marker
  • Straight edge (4’ft if possible)
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust Mask
  • Utility knife & blades
  • Hand saw, skill saw or cordless saw

NOTE: Anytime you are using motorized tools or equipment read all safety manuals, safety information and USE EXTREME CAUTION at all times. Never allow children to play around work area. DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THE ITEMS SHOWN ABOVE!

You will also need materials of course, How many will depend on the size of the closet you wish to build. But here is a list of the most common things you will need. (This is based on a 2’6” x 6’ closet using existing ceiling and two existing walls.)

I will insert images of our work as we advance for directions and to assist you better in seeing the project before it is completed.

Okay, The most important part of this project is the framing and connections to the existing structure.

So it is critical that you base the size of the closet to match existing framing that you will connect the new walls too. The good thing about “ADDING” a closet is that it can be removed later with very slight damage to the existing walls (Will only require caulking or minor drywall texture to repair)

1. Locate the existing studs in the corner of the room which you wish to install the new closet space. This can be done with an inexpensive stud finder or by lightly tapping the wall with a hammer and listen for a SOLID sound, This means there is a stud directly behind the drywall in that location. (Test the stud location by driving a small nail in the wall and see if you do hit the stud. Once the stud is located measure 14.5” away and try another nail and see if you hit a stud. You may have to try this a few times to find the center
2. The reason the stud location is important is this is the location that you will “CENTER” your new stud wall to so that it will be secure to hold the wall in place.
3. After locating the studs in BOTH walls in the corner, Mark the studs with a pencil for later reference
4. Now using the MARKS on the wall hold a level to the mark, ensure that it is level and direct it to the floor, Draw a light line beside the marks towards the floor
5. Now at the bottom of the wall next to the floor place another mark, This will be the center line of your BOTTOM PLATE studs. (See sample below)

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My center lines are 6’ 7-1/4” x 2’ 8-3/8” (Approximate size of closet.

6. These lines match up with the existing studs in the LEFT and RIGHT wall
7. If you have cove base or cove molding (Leave it in place so that the closet can be removed later if desired. You can work around this

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NOTICE: See how the marks on the floor match the existing studs in this X-Ray view. This is the best method to ensure that the closet walls will be sturdy

8. Next we will layout the BOTTOM PLATE studs – See below

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DO NOT NAIL OR ATTACH THESE PIECES OF WOOD AT THIS POINT

 9. Notice my line marks are now in the center of the two boards laying on the floor. This will line up the two new walls with the studs in the existing walls
10. We will now mark the long board to make cuts for the doorway
11. See the picture below (We are going to use a 2’0” door, which will need a rough opening of 2’2” x 6’9” tall

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12. Find the center of the long board and place a mark then measure 1’1” on both sides of it placing a mark on both points.
13. Using your square place a line across the stud to give you a straight line to cut the board for the door opening (See below)

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14. Now that the door way is cut you will mark the bottom studs where each upright stud will be installed. Pay special note to the corner board marks above. These need to match the drawing above so that the drywall or paneling will have a stud behind it for attachment in the corners
15. You will duplicate the same pattern of the BOTTOM PLATE STUDS for TWO levels on the top plates, The only exception will be you will NOT cut an opening for the door way.
16. You are now ready to attach the TWO layers of top plates (1 at a time) to the ceiling, Make sure that they are directly in line with the bottom plate studs
17. You are now ready to measure the distance between the TOP and BOTTOM stud plates. Take an additional 1/8” – 1/16” off the wall studs to allow you to stand them between the two plates.

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18. Notice there are two smaller studs in the door way, these should be 6’ 7 ½” above the floor
19. Screw each stud in place and make sure they are straight, flush and level
20. Next you will install the header boards above the door way,

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21. You are now ready to install the door frame, door
22. After the door way is installed install wall covering such as drywall, or paneling

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The following images are for more detailed measurements

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How To Install Foundation Vents?

Proper ventilation in your home is very important, and it is also important that other areas on the exterior of your house should also have proper ventilation.

Most houses that are built on “Pier & Beam” foundations have or should have a crawl space beneath the house. This area may have access to plumbing and sometimes electrical which is routed under the floor and above the ground. See the image below:

Step 1
Step 1

The small gap between the fill soil and the sill plate are commonly known as “Crawl Space” this small space can range in height from a few inches to several feet depending on the design of the home. In a lot of cases the house could have been built with little to no ventilation. In some cases this may be due to the building codes or extreme weather. (Check with your local building code department regarding their codes prior to modifying your home)

The benefits of having proper ventilation is moisture and temperature control. Moisture on wood and other materials can cause rot and rust which are the 2 R’s that you don’t want present in your home. To simplify this imagine:

It is 102 degrees outside and your house is 72 degrees inside. The walls, floor, ceilings and roof that divide these two temperatures are designed to block the temperature exchange or at least minimize it for a more comfortable climate.

Within these walls, floors and ceilings are other materials such as copper pipes etc. Now if we had water to these pipes we have another temperature to combine in the mix. Suppose the water temp is 65 degrees. There may be areas where the pipe is exposed to direct high temperatures (Such as the attic) if this piping is not insulated it will “Sweat” and allow beads of moisture to form on the outside of the copper pipe.

If this moisture is in large enough quantity it may appear as a roof leak as it will stain drywall ceilings or walls. Most of this can be corrected by insulating the pipe itself with pipe insulation and approved tape. This will provide a “Neutral air gap which again divides the cool temperatures from the high temperatures eliminating the moisture.

In this article I will mostly discuss “Below floor or foundation venting” in future articles I will go over attic ventilation since there is a large difference between the two.

See the picture below:

Step 2
Step 2

A properly built house will have several layers of protection built into the construction of the home, Most of which are required by all building codes. Some of the older homes may not have all of these items in place as they were built prior to today’s energy codes.

In most cases you will find the following layers of protection:

  • Exterior brick or siding
  • Vapor barrier (Tyvek is shown above – also known as house wrap)
  • OSB, Fiberboard or plywood sheathing
  • Interior wall framing
  • Loose batten or foam insulation
  • Interior drywall or other interior wall substrates or combinations of finishes & substrates

In determining if your home has “Foundation venting” walk around your house and look at the exterior walls above the visible concrete slab (Some homes are “Pier” only and do not have concrete beams). Either way there should be some type of vent opening that may have a “Vent cover” or screen over a small opening or a special brick/concrete vent. Chances are if any of these are present you probably have enough foundation venting since most builders and architects provide specifications for these vents.

If you have not found any of the above then you have no foundation venting. Again check with your local building code compliance department prior to proceeding.

If you elect to install venting you will need the following tools:

  • Drill with long bit (A masonry bit will be required for brick walls)
  • Saws-all or reciprocating saw and long wood cut blades
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Flashlight
  • Coveralls
  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection
  • Tape Measure
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Square

If you know of a hatch or trap door in your home (Most of the time located in a closet) you may be able to access the crawl space from here.

The first step is to determine where you want the vent to be installed. In all cases you must insure that you have proper clearance both outside the house and under the house. So it is critical that you verify the possible location of the vent prior to starting this project.

A method of doing this is to gain access under the house and measure the best location from foundation wall to the center of the planned vent.

Then go outside the house and measure from the same foundation wall to the center of the planned vent.

If you noticed that there were NO plumbing, electrical or other obstructions, you now ready to drill a test hole. Using the mark you placed on the exterior of the house drill a ¼” hole all the way through the wall. Disconnect the drill power cord or remove the battery from the drill so that it cannot accidently be turned on. Return to the underside of the house and locate the drill bit. Then measure from the bit to the left, right, top and bottom of the bit to determine the size of the opening you have available. Then subtract 1-1/2” from top, bottom, left and right. (This will provide roof for framing and cutting the hole.

USE EXTREME CAUTION on the following:

  • Electrical conduits or wires may be present in the wall
  • Plumbing or Air Conditioner lines may be present in wall
  • Rodents, spiders and other insects or animals may be in crawl space
  • If you are working in crawl space this is considered a “Confined Space” and you should never enter this space without communication to someone outside the space in case of emergency
  • Extreme temperatures and lack of fresh air can be present in these areas – USE CAUTION
  • Do NOT move into areas that you may have difficulty in existing quickly should the need arise
  • Use caution when moving since there are sharp objects above and below you
  • Bump hazards are present in this tight space

If you have ruled out or prepared for all dangerous situations and are ready to proceed.

Step 3
Step 3

Above picture shows most common “Pier and Beam” foundations and wall designs

For the next step use the image below for reference

Step 4
Step 4

When working under the house you will be in the area above the soil and beneath the floor joists. The target area for the vent will be between the floor joist and on the joist band. (In most cases the floor joists will be on 12” or 16” centers from beam to beam) this will restrict the size of the vent to the size of the space between them. A 16” inch center will provide 14-1/2” inch clear space. Since you will be deducting 1-1/2” from left right, top and bottom this will reduce the available space to 11-1/2” width, and if the “Joist band is 8” tall and you deduct 3” from that it will leave 5” height, So you end up with a 11-1/2” wide by 5” tall opening or 57-1/2” square inch vent

  1. Using the measurements above (Or your actual measurements available)
  2. Mark a rectangle spot on the joist band
  3. Using a ¼” drill bit hold the drill level and drill a hole through all layers of wood, once you hit the exterior brick you will need to change drill bits from wood to masonry bits. Drill a hole in each corner of the rectangle you drill. These holes will provide the exact locations for you to do the rest of the work outside the house
  4. Gather all of your tools and equipment and return to the outside of the house
  5. Examine all of the holes on the outside of the house, again ensuring that there are no obstructions in this area.
  6. Once you are ready to continue mark the masonry or wood siding to reflect the same rectangle shape as you did on the underside of the house.
  7. If the exterior of the house is wood, Use a 1” drill bit to drill a larger hole using the smaller hole as a guide. Do this in each corner of the rectangle
  8. If the exterior of the house is brick, using a marker draw the rectangle shape on the surface of the brick. You will now need to use the hammer and chisel to remove the grout between the brick. You may need to remove more brick than the rectangle shape to provide enough access to cut the hole. KEEP these brick as you will need to re-install  them when complete
  9. Transfer the shape of the rectangle to the wood substrate under the brick.
  10. Now you are ready to cut the wood with the reciprocating saw. Insert the saw blade all the way in the wall so that the foot on the saw is in contact with the wood to be cut, Hold the saw firmly in place and begin cutting the wall following the lines you have drawn. BE CAREFULL as the saw will jump and bounce as you cut. If the saw gets in a bind unplug the saw until you can work it free.
  11. After you have cut the opening out use your hammer to knock the wood from the hole
  12. Now that you have a hole you will need to build a box out of treated wood or non-corrosive metal in the same shape and size.
  13. Insert the box in the opening so that it is flush with the exterior of the wall
  14. Using nails or screws secure the frame in place
  15. Install screen wire over the box frame
  16. Install desired trim
  17. IF wall was brick you will need to cut the brick removed to fit the remaining gaps between the frame and the remaining brick and install mortar as needed to replace the brick.
  18. The number of vents required can be obtained from your local building code office. You will need to tell them how many square feet of interior space you have in the house “Living space” and let them know that you wish to install “Foundation vents” and they should be happy to provide you with the size and qty of vents you will need.
  19. Again it is important to check with local building code agency, and use extreme caution when completing this project. And NEVER work alone.
  20. If you are not comfortable in doing this project, call an expert in HVAC or Home Builder.
Step 5
Step 5