Shower Tiling

Chuck shows you how to install shower tiling in the 3 part video below:

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Deck Repair

Watch Chuck Horne show us how to repair a non-level deck.

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New Kitchen Island

Latest remodel from Compass!

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Cabinet Installation

Watch Chuck Horne show you how to properly install cabinets in the 4 part series below.



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Why fixing the caulk in the tub/shower is important!

Why fixing the caulk in the tub/shower is important!

Do you have a shower or tub in need of recaulking?

Is there black or some other color in the corners of your shower that don’t match the grout color? This looks disgusting and unattractive.

This condition is the result of a break down in the caulking used to seal the corners and the wall surface to the tub or shower. It is imperative to fix this as water can get behind the wall tile and destroy the drywall or sub-strait with dry rot.  Even more critical, mold and mildew will grow and cause an extremely unhealthy environment. They get into the air and cause many people to have increased problems with allergies and other respiratory issues.

Water and moisture are a homeowner’s worst nightmare.  If left unchecked, serious structural problems will occur. Water breaks down the framing members that hold the drywall that hold the tile. It can also start to discolor vinyl, and other floor coverings.

Water and moisture will also cause floor tiles to separate from the backers that they are placed on. The thin-set or mastics used to keep tile in place are all water soluble. Therefore when moisture comes in contact with these “glues” they re-activate causing them to “let go” of the tile, thus loosening them.

In some cases moisture will go under underlayment and tile backers and cause a break down in the structural framing members. If left unchecked an extensive remodel will have to be performed at greater expense.

These are just some of the reasons why we believe that the caulking should be maintained in good condition in bath rooms.

To get more information on how to “fix” your caulking issues, read “Caulking Fix Methods”.  Also watch the video showing an actual caulking fix.

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Basic Window Replacement

Compass Home Repair & Improvement Window Replacement by Chuck Horne

Window replacement may seem like a simple project, and if that is your expertise, it is not that difficult.  After 25 years of removing old windows and installing new windows, Compass Home Repair and Improvement is an expert in this home improvement project.  We are sharing that expertise with you.  If, in the reading of the following, you have any questions or comments, or would like more information, please use the “Comments” section below this article or contact us on the link as shown.

Choosing a Window for Installation

THE MANUFACTURER:  Before you start this project you need to decide on a window manufacturer. When deciding on a window manufacturer, it’s important to choose one that will still be there in the future. Companies like Marvin or Pella have been around for a long time, but some of the vinyl window companies have folded in the tough economy.

THE QUALITY: Sometimes the house that you currently live in is not the house that you are going to be in one year from now. So why would you sink lots of money into window replacements if you’re not going to be around to realize the energy savings? However, if your windows are leaking air or water, falling apart, have broken seals, or are just plain rotting out, you need to replace them quickly as you are, literally, throwing money out the window! If you are going to be staying in your house more than five years, a higher-end, more efficient window is a better choice. Immediately upon completing your window replacements, the decreased cost of heating and cooling your house should be noticeable. With high quality windows, I’ve heard of as much as a 50% decrease in energy cost just in the first year. Multiply that by five years and your new windows might start paying you!

THE STYLE:  There are many different styles of windows to choose from. Casement, awning, slider, double-hung, single-hung, wood on the inside, pull-trudded or extruded aluminum.  Why vinyl?  Why not vinyl? All these different kinds of windows have their own pros and cons. For example, casement or awning windows are wonderful for catching an elusive breeze on a hot day. Some rooms, such as bedrooms, require a minimum size for egress (i.e. exit in an emergency). In bedrooms you are not allowed to change the type or size of the window unless you first contact your local building department and submit a print showing the original type and size, as well as the new window that you plan. For example, if you have a 4ft. x 4ft. sliding glass window and you want to change to a double hung window of the same size, it might not be allowable (the net opening size could be smaller even though it’s the same size window). All of these factors must be figured into your decision. The internet is a gold mine of information: be willing to spend some time researching.

THE DECISION:  Most window companies give purchase incentives such as cash back or free delivery.  Your local utility company may offer programs or discounts for certain kinds of windows.  Knowing what’s available out there will give you the edge in buying or talking about windows. Do you know what “Low E” is? Will the neighborhood or house I live in be better with vinyl windows or aluminum clad? Sometimes talking to realtors or contractors can give information that’ll help you with your decision.

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Window Sill Care: Paint Grade Sills

Window Sill Care: Paint grade sills

We need to determine how bad the sills are before we proceed.

Caulking on the sill or window that is pulling away a little in a few areas only requires a quick fix. Cut away the caulk that’s pulling away by using a utility knife. Be careful not to cut too deeply into the sill.
If when cutting out the old caulking you cut into the paint of the sill, sanding a little more in those areas will smooth out the lines and allow paint to fill in the cuts.

Next we fill in the gouges, cuts and scrapes that will not be filled with paint. A fast drying wood filler or nail-hole filler works great. Sometimes mixing a little warm water in with the filler makes it easier to work with.
Now a light sanding will need to be done to rough up the surface so that the new paint will adhere to the old paint. When light sanding, I use a 200 grit sand paper and putting sanding pressure just enough to rough up the old paint

We now need to caulk. I recommend a 35yr. siliconized acrylic latex caulk bought in a tube to fit in a standard sized caulking gun. Cut the tip of the tube so it’s only a hole about as big as a pencil lead. It’s a good idea to have a damp rag handy to wipe up extra and smooth it out after laying a bead down.
Now using the caulk gun, lay a bead down in the corner, sill to window and sill to side wall.
Continue to squeeze the trigger of the gun, smoothly, and slowly move to evenly lay the bead down. If it looks like you missed areas wait until you’ve gone all the way across the sill before adding more.

If I only missed a 1/4 inch or so, I wait until after I’ve wiped it with a finger or the damp rag. Wiping the caulk with a finger smoothes the caulk out and pushes it into the contours of the corner making a good seal. This makes a nice edge to paint to and seals out any drafts from the outside.
Now determine if you need to add more. In the skipped areas just add a little and wipe with your finger again. Sometimes I need to remove excess and that’s when the damp rag comes in handy, just wipe it off and let it dry for about 2 hours.

Now we can paint. You can mask off areas around the sill to not get paint on there, but I’ve found that in some cases the paint bleeds under the tape. Usually I didn’t find this till later when the paint has already dried. This will mean that I either need to scrape off the paint, paint over the paint or sand off the paint.
This is not effective or efficient, so I’ve taught myself how to do what is called “cut in”. I very carefully paint with a high quality appropriate sized angled brush so as to not paint anything I don’t want paint on. It takes practice and patience, but in the end it looks better and is much faster.

Now to painting, stir the paint up really well and make sure it is room temperature.
I like a 1 ½ or 2” wide angled brush. It allows me to see the work easier as I’m painting. I only dip the brush in the paint can, at the most ½ inch. Because I am right handed, I start on the left and work to the right.
Paint on left to right, smooth out the paint, right to left, lifting the brush before it hits the side sill wall. Keep doing this until you’ve reached the end of the sill.

Now either go to the next sill that’s ready for paint or wash your brush. Since I recommend water based paint, I always wash my brushes as soon as I’m done, using warm water. High quality brushes can be reused many times by doing this. Another option is a foam brush. I’ve not used them much but have heard that they work well.

If when looking at the finished product you see some areas that you missed, you can usually spot paint these areas. If you see a lot of brush marks, I’ve seen painter use a blow dryer while painting to smooth out the lines. You can also buy a product called Flowtrol and add the amount they recommend on the label. Sometimes heating up the paint can in hot water for an hour before painting thins the paint a little making it spread more evenly.

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Window Sill Care

Window Sill Care: What to do with ugly window sills.

Taking care of the sills of your windows is a normal part of home maintenance and should be taken care of every two to three years.  In your bathrooms and kitchens, because of moisture, this maintenance probably needs to be done yearly.

If you have stained wood it’s pretty obvious when it’s in need of TLC. It will look like it’s lined with light colored scratches. The color will be splotchy or discolored on the surface. There could be cracks in the finish. What’s worse is if it’s cracked thru the finish and into the wood. This can be bad because moisture is now degrading the wood. Sun light can ruin the wood as well as it can start to burn the wood causing it to look old. It’s still possible to fix but will require more work.

If you have painted sills, usually the caulking will start to separate from the paint along the edges. The paint can also start peeling from the surface of the sill. If moisture gets under the paint the sill material can start expanding.  I’ve seen sills where the moisture has been allowed to seep into the wood for long enough that they could not be fixed as the wood had dry-rot underneath. Those sills can’t be saved and must be replaced. This can be more expensive because instead of sanding and putting on a finish coat, we’re removing the old piece, going to the lumber store and buying another piece, custom cutting it to fit, installing it, sanding, staining and finishing.  This is more labor intensive and labor is always more expensive than material. Even doing it yourself, with the cost of gas and time, a couple hour’s project could turn into a couple of days.

When dealing with stained sills you will have to determine what kind of sheen the clear coat is. Is it a high gloss, semi-gloss or a satin sheen?  High gloss = super shiny; semi gloss = less shiny; and satin sheen = dull and hides fingerprints well. Typical houses are either semi or satin. If you have painted sills and don’t want to change the color, hopefully the painter that painted the sills left some extra paint when he finished painting. If the left over can has enough in it just stir it up really well and use it. If you think that it has been frozen, or is old then take it to your paint store and have them do what’s called a “paint match” as normally they can get the color exact.  It’s a very good idea to mark the can with a stick on label with the color, where it was purchased and where it was painted. I strongly urge you to not purchase cheap paint or stain. Most paint stores have different qualities of paint, my motto is “I can’t afford cheap, and I can’t afford expensive but the mid grade works great.”

Now before we can start sanding or staining or whatever, we need to take into consideration some things. All window coverings should be removed; this helps to stop lint, dust and dirt from falling on our work while it dries. Dogs, cats or pets should not be allowed to come close to the work area because of hair, dander and dirt that seems to attach to pets. It’s a good idea to shut off heat and air supplies for the same reasons stated above. If you can, try to stop doors from opening and closing in the room where you are working. It’s a good idea to wipe the widow down with warm water before starting to paint or stain. The idea is to eliminate dust, lint, hair, and any other foreign particles from coming into contact with the project until it dries.

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Special Remodel Projects

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Gallery: Basement Finishes

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Custom Renovation: Milking Barn to Rustic Cottage

This structure was originally an early-twentieth-century milking shed.  The previous owners had  partially converted the hayloft into a workspace and added an attached barn.  When one of our regular clients purchased the property, they called on Compass Home Improvement & Remodeling to complete the renovation.

Chuck began in the main room by removing two beams and a center post.  He replaced them with one large structural beam, and wrapped it in rough cedar to maintain the rustic atmosphere of the cottage.  The ceilings were cleaned with a wire brush, and the beauty of the original joists became apparent.  Next, Chuck  re-framed the exterior walls, added insulation, sheet-rocked, and textured using a skip-trowel technique.  We replaced the single-pane, fixed windows on the main level with double-pane, low E, awning windows.  Upstairs, a matching slider window topped by a fixed panel replaced the original hayloft doors.  Next, Chuck leveled the sloped concrete floor and installed 12″ ceramic tile in warm earth tones.  Finally, rough cedar baseboards were added, and track lighting and wall sconces completed our work.  The owners will paint and add rock around the fireplace for the final touch to this delightful, rustic cottage.

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Gallery: Flooring

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Gallery: Decks

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Quality Home Repair & Renovation

Whether your home just needs a little TLC, or a complete remodel, COMPASS Home Improvement & Remodeling is here for you.  We are a licensed and insured General Contractor with 25 years in the business, serving El Paso County since 1993.

Quality, Integrity, and Customer Service are our trademarks.

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