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December 2009
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One Project Closer DIY Forums

One Project Closer in addition to being a great resource for DIY by actually doing and sharing are kicking it up a notch.
The folks at OPC have opened up a DIY Discussion Forum Here.  This is a place for you to ask questions and discuss remodeling projects, from painting to site work.

Come on in.

Plumbing Air Admittance Valves

One of the most difficult remodeling jobs is replacing waste and vent stacks. Most plumbing vents penetrate the roof at some point. This has the potential of leaking. I try avoiding plumbing wherever I can. It is not lack of ability or tools, as I have a plumbing kit and have done it. It is one of those deals where a good plumber is worth every nickel.

One of the latest things I have discovered but not tried yet are Air Admittance Valves which I discovered from the folks at Better DIY. There area number of places where this would be just the ticket. Especially in eliminating roof penetrations.

Besides remodeling I think about building my dream house. One of the things I include is eliminating roof penetrations of any sort. And a Flat Roof scheme. I am an advocate of foam roofing. I live under an aircraft landing patterns and unless the wind conditions are just right, I just don’t hear the planes. My roof are 2×8’s with a 3/4 plywood deck, r 19 insulation and 5/8” drywall. Normally this would act like a big drum, but the foam isolates the noise very well. and The insulation is a plus also. The only current downside to foam roofing currently is needing to renew the roof coating every 5-10 years.

I will build the house once I win the lottery.

2 day Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those foods that require time, energy, and love. Make your sauce, grate and mix your cheeses, boil your noodles, dry them, assemble the layers, then cook. You can spend a whole day making it. It is not a member of the microwave food group.

The secret to really good lasagna or spaghetti sauces is blending and resting. A good sauce takes about 4-6 hours to cook. It is flavorful and robust at this point. However, resting and putting it in the fridge overnight will stun you with the blending of flavor you get the next day. There are two ways to do this. One day assembly and Two day assembly.

The most involved part of assembling lasagna is the noodles. Cooking, Draining, Drying and using. Or you can try the greatest pasta invention since the noodle was invented.  Barilla Lasagne Noodles. These gems are no boiling required. Really!

One day assembly

You make your sauce and cheese mix and begin to assemble your lasagna. Sauce on the bottom, a layer of DRY noodles, cheese mix, DRY noodles and so on.  You can Bake and enjoy today or you can put it in the fridge overnight. . The noodles soften with the sauce and moisture from the cheese giving you a firm moist lasagna.

Two day assembly

Make you sauce and put it in the fridge overnight. On the second day, while you put your sauce on the counter to warm up to room temperature, you mix your cheeses. Riccota, Mozzarella, Parmesan or Romano depending on your taste. Using the same assembly method, put it together and pop it in the oven.

Either way, the Barilla Dry noodles are just the ticket for great lasagna.

Nail Guide for DIY’ers – Other Nails

In remodeling now that we have looked at Framing Nails and Finish Nails, we come to the other nails that may end up on your projects. Up till now we have looked at steel nails used in construction in interior and dry locations. Exterior locations, drywall, paneling and wood to concrete use speciality nails. Here is a photo of probably the most used nails in these categories.


From left to right are Galvanized, ringshank and phosphate drywall nails, and concrete nails. These are the most common types of nails most DIY’ers will need. Below we take a closer look.

Galvanized Nails
From top to bottom we have Sinkers, Roofing, and Exterior siding nails.
Galvanized nails are coated with zinc to inhibit rust and are used in exterior locations. There are three current galvanizing methods, Hot dip, mechanical and electro-plating.
Most framing nails and some finish are available galvanized for locations that are exposed to moisture, like exterior trim, siding and roofing.
The top nail is a 16d hot dip sinker, the middle nail is an electroplated roofing nail, and the bottom is a 4d mechanically galvanized siding nail for siding and or wood shingles.
Quick rule of thumb: if it is outside it needs to be galvanized.

Ringshank and Drywall Nails
Ring shank nails increase the surface area that can be gripped, increasing the friction and resistance to pull out and removal.
From top is a 2” ring-shank paneling nail, a ringshank drywall nail and a southwestern phosphate coated drywall nail.
Ring shank panel nails are used most often in attaching plywood and or particle board sub flooring.
Drywall ring shank nails perform the same function on walls and ceilings. Phosphate drywall nails were developed to minimize rusting behind taping mud, and as far as I know are one of those weird southwestern nail deals. The coating may provide some friction benefit like coated nails, but I do not know.

Concrete Nails
Concrete nails are much harder than regular nails, and eye protection really needs to be worn. You should use eyeware protection in any case in remodeling and construction, but especially when using concrete nails.
The top nail is called a Cut nail. These nails are forged rather than drawn like wire nails. Subsequently they are harder and chip easier than wire nails. These are primarily used to fasten wood to masonry or concrete. Like furring strips to the interior of brick or block houses. Despite having around 4 times more holding power than a equally sized wire nail, they have been replaced by fluted nails, sleeve and wedge anchors for attaching bottom plates to concrete floors.
The bottom one is a fluted concrete nail, doing basically the same thing.

So there you have it. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about nails.

Nail Guide for DIY'ers - Finish Nails

Having explored Framing Nails, I am jumping ahead to Finish Nails. I will deal with the nails between the wood and trim (drywall, paneling,and specialty nails) next post.

Finish Nails are the ‘headless’ nails used primarily for trim work, hence finish. They come in a variety of sizes for fastening things that will be exposed or where  materials will be finished such as window and door frames in wood, where a big headed nail may look bad.

Here is a photo of  a selection of finish nails from 16d [3 1/2”] to 4d [1 1/2”]. (Note Nails smaller than 1 1/2” are called ‘brads’ and are sold by length.)


They are called headless, but they do have a small head. They also have a diamond point on the other end. I need to take a moment to talk about how nails work.

Nails are friction holding devices. The wood surrounding the nail provides the friction that allows things to stay together and not fall apart. That is it. The little bits of friction and a bit of gravity is the only thing keeping the big bad wolf or storms from sucking your house off its foundation and sending it to Oz or someone else’s house. (Or in my case, concrete anchors, construction adhesives, nails, deck screws, strong tie hangers and brackets…) Relax, they have been doing their job well for hundreds of years.

I mentioned in the framing nail posting how various coatings are used on framing nails to increase the holding power of the nail. Vinyl, Epoxy, Cement. Not so much with finish nails. The only notable exception are galvanized nails for exterior use.

Because nails work by friction, splitting your wood  removes the friction necessary to your nails doing their job and makes your work look bad. The closer you get to the edge or end of a piece of wood,(Composites don’t count.) the greater the chances of the nail splitting it, and causing problems. All nails have points, which is good news/bad news. Good news in knowing which direction to point them, bad news for edge nailing including toe nailing which is not used much anymore.

The point of the nail literally cuts the wood fibers as you drive it in. This is a bad thing for the friction game especially if you split the wood. You can minimize this. When getting ready to drive a nail into an edge or end, flip it over and tap the point with your hammer to blunt the point of the nail before driving it.


What this  does is push the wood fibers out of the way rather than cutting them maintaining the maximum friction and holding power. I learned this from my grandfather who was a master cabinet maker from Sweden, and it hasn’t let me down yet.

With every nailing operation except for duplex nails, your goal is to drive the nail just below the surface. Occasionally you will slip and damage the lumber with a hammer mark. In rough framing this is not a real issue, as it will be covered by something and have trim.

On trim however, this is an issue. There is a tool for that. It is called a nail set. A nail set is a small tool with a semi flat point to allow you do tap the head of finish nails below the surface of your trim.


You want to take care to just drive the nail far enough so that any filler you use to hide the nail hole will be easy to finish.

For the majority of your home remodeling projects you will only need 2 sizes 8d and 4d


The 8d will cover setting door and window frames, applying 1x-3/4” trims and other areas where appearance is an issue. The 4d will handle all of your case and base work. You will only need to buy these in pound quantities. The only other optional size would be a small box of 16d’s for temporary hangers like coat racks and interior jambs on exterior doors that have 1 1/2 ” or thicker jambs.

Happy Nailing.

Nail Guide for DIY'ers - Framing Nails

One of the most basic things in building and remodeling are nails. Your entire house, except for the brick and concrete bits is built and held together with nails.  When you walk into the hardware store looking for nails, there is a huge selection of types, sizes, coatings and finishes. One of the things that stops a lot of folks from doing remodeling projects is the wide selection of just the basic stuff like nails.

This is a guide to the most useful nails that you will need for your projects. First up are Framing Nails. Framing nails are used in building walls, roofs, applying sheathing, sub-flooring, and just about everywhere construction lumber is used.

Here are a selection of nails from my   nail carry around. From left to right are a 16d Duplex, a 16d sinker, a 10d common, a 10d box, a 8d sinker, a 6d common, and a 6d box nail.
These are the most common nails that are used in building and remodeling projects

Framing nails come in three basic styles.  Sinkers, Common and Box. Nail sizes  are designated by (d) (penny) which was how much a hundred nails cost, by size back in England. More info on this at Wikipedia. Yeah I know it is weird, but let’s move on.

Sinkers and Commons are the same physical size in both thickness and length.  Sinkers have a waffle pattern on the top of the head to help drive the nails by providing a non skid surface for the hammer face and come in a number of coating styles. Sinkers sre available with vinyl, epoxy and cement coatings. They are also available with a galvanized coating for locations that may be exposed to water. These coatings improve the holding power of the nails significantly. They also make you swear a lot when you are demoing things using these nails.


Commons have no waffling or coating generally. They should not be used in high moisture or exposed area as they will rust.  Box nails are the same length as their sinker and common sisters, but have thinner shafts.

Box nails are a holdover from boxes were made from wood and the materials were thinner,(think fruit crates) and a thinner shaft minimized splitting of the slats when nailing.

Before I announce the winners, the last entrant and the nail on the left is a duplex head nail. The duplex nail has two heads to make removable easier as it is used for applications that are temporary in nature. Most notably concrete forms and temporary scaffolding. Also known as scaffolding nails, from a time when scaffolding was made from wood, before the invention of steel tubular scaffolding. Now that you probably know way too much about nails…..

The Winners Are


The 8 and 16d coated sinkers provide 95% of your needs in framing and sheathing in remodeling projects. They combine the best in holding power, resistance to bending and utility from framing to sheathing. Buying them in bulk will save you money and time. You may think 25 pounds of nails is crazy, but trust me, if you are doing a substantial amount of remodeling you will be surprised.

USG Dust Control Mud Coupon

dcmudTaping drywall is an art as well as one of the messiest procedures in remodeling. I have mentioned USG products before including their Dust Control Mud. It has its own website.

This is probably the greatest stuff for the home remodeler since the blue and orange stores.
I really wished they had this stuff years ago.

They have a coupon on their website.