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Read more about the article Upgrading a Builder grade railing
Finished Hand Rail

Upgrading a Builder grade railing

    The problem

    Some of our want list had to be delayed to replace a poor quality handrail installed by the builder. Needless to say the railing failed due to poor preparation and material selection. Upgrading a builder grade railing can add value to any home.

    When learning how to remodel and build homes, my father always spent the time to hand select every 2×4, 2×6 etc. etc. I hated it. But as I got older I excepted the process and I just do it naturally. The reason I mention this is due to the material that was used to construct the railing we are replacing for this project.

    As a force of habit I automatically go to the best quality material I can locate and scrutinize every piece. So this brings us to the choice the builder used. In the vast number of years I’ve been remodeling I have never stumbled across a finger jointed 2×4. This is the wrong choice for an outdoor wood project.

    I know the builder chose this material because it is cheap and with a fresh coat of paint who would know. The choice of material is not the only mistake. During installation proper preparation did not occur. The exposed end grain was not sealed and I could not find any signs of a primer being used. Poorly prepped and a low quality paint job and the railing is destined to fail. The failure is the railing had rotted when exposed to the elements.


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    Read more about the article High Bar Renovation. An easy upgrade using MDF and Paint.
    High Bar Renovation

    High Bar Renovation. An easy upgrade using MDF and Paint.

      Before we can start.

      Finished High Bar
      High Bar Renovation

      This project was not on the to-do list. The contractor who built the house used very cheap paint and after a few years, it showed. We decided to paint the family room and kitchen in the future but with all the rain this past year we moved forward and repainted. The original color was called Greige and is somewhere between brown and gray. Cleaning the paint without it showing was impossible and literally would wipe off as you tried. We opted to change the color to one that was slightly brighter and of better quality. We also applied primer over the original paint to ensure the new paint would last. For our High bar Renovation, we added to our painting project to tie the whole space together.

      This post is not about painting the living space. We chose a neutral Grey which ties in better with the trim. However, when it came to the kitchen island we knew it needed something more. Also, the Grey did not contrast with the Granite countertop which is grey’s whites and blacks.


      Continue ReadingHigh Bar Renovation. An easy upgrade using MDF and Paint.
      Read more about the article Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting

      Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting

        The Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting for our bath remodel are complete. The update has added to the craftsman theme of this home. This update was to continue the theme from our bathroom makeover. One of the key decisions for this makeover is to replace the contractor-grade door trim. The trim was not only generic it was of poor quality material and horrible installation. The finger-jointed trim showed through every 4 to 5 inches. Sanding would have been very labor-intensive. None of the doors closed properly leaving gaps you could see through.


        During the removal of the trim from the doors, we found the door jambs were not correctly installed. We corrected all of the door jambs during this upgrade and now they all operate properly.

        In keeping with the Craftsman theme, I needed an economical way to obtain the trim. Since we are painting the trim white we opted for using MDF. Fortunately, I have a local supplier that carries it in several thicknesses. 1/4, 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4″ in 4×8 sheets. All the trim was produced in my shop for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase. I could also adust the dimensions to ensure it appears correct in this home.


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