For questions generally relating to the outer "skin" of a home or other building, and the materials, features and fixtures generally found and used to construct and maintain it.

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22
votes
4answers
4k views

How do I build an ice rink in my backyard?

I'm considering building a small temporary ice skating rink in my backyard. I'm hoping to do this without buying many or any materials, and without causing any devastating damage to my lawn when ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

How do I regrade the ground around my house?

When we purchased our house, the inspector recommended that we regrade all the ground that meets the house to ensure water is draining away properly. What do I need in order to do this (am I insane ...
9
votes
1answer
6k views

How can I fix a hairline crack in a thin wood panel of an exterior door?

My 100-year-old house has a wooden front door made of thick wood ribs interspersed with 8 wood panels, each about 10" high, 8" wide, but only 1/8" or 3/16" thick. Perhaps the door originally had ...
9
votes
1answer
486 views

What lubricant should I use for an outside garage door lock?

I recently asked what sort of lubricant I should use on locks. I was wondering if the advice there (i.e. graphite powder) applied to an outside garage door handle lock? The lock in question looks ...
8
votes
4answers
33k views

Are cracks on exterior walls serious and can I fix them myself?

I recently noticed some mostly-vertical cracks present on some exterior walls. In case it is relevant, this is a South Florida home built in the mid 50s. The downstairs walls are CBS (Concrete Block ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I run a wire underground to an outdoor post lamp?

I live in Geauga county Ohio. My question is three part. First what type of wire do I need to run from the house underground to a post lamp 100 feet away? Second,does it need to be in conduit and ...
8
votes
3answers
581 views

Trying to identify this box on the outside of my house

This was under a small panel. Don't know what it is, or what it's used for.
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What are my gutter guard options?

As I mentioned in a prior post, I'm planning to add some gutters to my house. I see that there's wide variety of gutter guards available and was curious which ones are better? As far as I can ...
7
votes
3answers
15k views

How do I find where mice are entering my house?

So the house I just finished remodeling, and am now living in, has a small mouse problem. We have caught a couple of mice, and suspect there may be more. Catching the mice does little good, if more ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How should I fill a hole in an exterior wall?

I noticed a good sized hole in an exterior wall that allows wires and things to go from my AC unit into my basement. The problem is that the hole is a good deal larger than it needs to be and there ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

When painting a house exterior, do you need to scrape and sand the entire house or just the peeling parts?

I'm repainting my house and everything I've read on the subject suggests scraping the old paint before applying new, but it isn't clear if you're only supposed to scrape just the peeling parts or the ...
7
votes
1answer
451 views

Are these brown finger-like things on the outside of my house caused by termites?

Is this ground termite? This is on the outside of a wall in the backyard. This is the only occurrence of this thing. Should I be worried? Should I call someone to look at it? OR can I fix this ...
7
votes
3answers
385 views

Options for fixing outside cement staircase?

We have a below-grade basement and a exit door. There are concrete steps to the door, parallel to the house (so on your right is the house) and on the left is a brick wall. The steps appear to have ...
7
votes
1answer
474 views

Can I replace / recreate a tri-fold garage door with three fiberglass flush doors?

My garage has three wooden doors that cover the opening. The middle one's hinges are attached to the right door. The left and the right doors' hinges are attached to the walls. This way you could ...
6
votes
7answers
27k views

How do I prevent water from collecting against side of house?

Our house has a concrete patio (I'd say about 12' x 10') in the back that is very slightly angled in so that rainfall can cause water to collect where the patio meets the back wall of the house. What ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I install a new exterior GFI outlet?

I have an interior outlet. I would like to place an exterior (GFI) outlet in approximately the same position on the outside wall. How should I do that? approx. loc. of desired outlet-| ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Fixing a large (1/8"-wide) crack in a wood exterior door panel

This is a follow-up to my previous question: How can I fix a hairline crack in a thin wood panel of an exterior door? While getting ready to apply wood glue (actually a mixture of wood glue and ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Do I need exterior grade cables or conduit to run wire in an enclosed soffit?

I'm looking to add some lights on motion detectors (un-switched) and security cameras under the eaves of our house. I know standard romex is often used in attics, but the soffits seem like they might ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Which exterior outlet cover is required by NEC?

There are two types of outlet covers used on external outlets. The first type is for damp locations that covers the outlet when it's not in use: And the second type is for wet locations that allow ...
6
votes
2answers
165 views

Do exterior duplex electrical receptacles have to be on multiwire branch circuits?

I have an exterior receptacle on my house, and it is currently taking up 2 circuits (similar to kitchen counter plugs). Is there any code/regulation that indicates exterior receptacles must be on ...
6
votes
3answers
9k views

Is super insulating exterior walls with rigid foam board insulation possible?

2" rigid foam-board insulation can have an R-value of up to R-10, layering 4 boards would create a R-40 value, right? However that creates an 8" foam wall above the actual wall. What would be a ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

How do I properly seal an exterior door?

I've recently discovered that rain is getting in around my exterior (front) door and forming a little pool in the frame under the door. I'm assuming I can fix this by adding a seal around the door ...
6
votes
2answers
227 views

What is the proper and accurate way to measure space for window screens?

One of our metal windows is missing a screen and I'd like to replace it. I don't have other windows of the same size so I can't easily copy the screen dimensions. How should I measure the window ...
5
votes
3answers
794 views

Options for replacing an at-grade hose bibb

The problem My house is built on a crawlspace and the floor of the house is just a few inches above grade. The hose bibbs come straight out of the crawlspace and are thus very close to the ground. ...
5
votes
2answers
435 views

How do I set up a wiring closet that connects to the exterior of the house?

I'm looking to build a central wiring closet for ethernet, phone, and co-ax. I would like this closet to have a single pipe to the exterior of the house, which service lines can come in through. ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

How should I troubleshoot and unclog an outdoor drain?

Our back concrete patio directs water to a nearby outdoor drain. The drain consists of what seems to be a 5 Inch green PVC pipe with a plastic grate cover that sticks out of the ground a few inches. ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

How can I fit a door in a frame that is too small?

I bought some used French doors to replace a sliding door. The sliding door measured 96" X 60". The French doors measure 96" X 60¼". I made the mistake of not measuring both doors. I just ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Can I run a copper pipe for water in an exterior wall without it freezing in the winter?

I would like to install a new hose bib on the exterior wall of my house, to be accessed on the deck. Currently, there is a hose bib on the lower level (underneath the deck) straight down from where I ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Should I use a roller or a brush for painting exterior walls?

I'm about to embark on painting my house. I have researched all the info here and on painting sites I can find about preparation and safety etc., but I'm still not sure the best choice regarding ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

How can I prevent the clanging of my extractor fan vent cover?

I installed this exterior vent for our oven extractor fan However, the metal plate in the vents keeps swinging open and closed when it gets windy and we can hear it in the house to the point where ...
4
votes
1answer
297 views

How should I fill in decorative “gashes” in wood siding?

Our house has old siding with decorative holes: At first I thought this might be termite damage but a house inspector examined it and confirmed that this is purely decorative style. I'd like to ...
4
votes
1answer
672 views

How can I fix a loose door frame?

Every time I shut my door to go in or out of the house the door frame moves. Also where the door locks it wont completely shut all the way. Which is hard to go out places, without worrying someone ...
4
votes
3answers
390 views

Replace rotting porch treads with trex?

My front porch has some treads and the bottom riser are rotting out. I'd like to replace the surface with Trex if possible. Is it as simple as removing treads and risers and replacing with Trex ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How should I build an exterior door landing pad?

I've got a building with several exterior doors (all opening inward). The slab and walk-up is about 18+" from the ground. Code requires that I have a 36"x36" landing pad outside each exterior door. ...
4
votes
1answer
705 views

Is slate tile suitable for exterior flooring in a colder climate?

My brother-in-law lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, and is thinking about putting slate tiling down on the front deck. However, he's getting conflicting opinions, one place is saying that it will ...
4
votes
2answers
551 views

How should I connect 2x4 (or wood horizontal railing pieces) to exterior painted wood?

I'm planning to add a 10-foot railing to a patio that has a 6x6 wood post on one end and the exterior of the house on the other end of what will be the railing. I'm planning wood horizontal rails ...
4
votes
2answers
470 views

Should I add a vapor barrier when re-siding?

I am removing the siding on my house in Montana, which was built in 1964. From inside out I have sheetrock, 4" studs with R-11 paper backed fiberglass insulation and gypsum board sheathing. I want ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

How can I attach modern fixture to knob & tube wiring?

I have a modern external light fixture that needs to be attached to an existing exterior electrical 'box'. The older parts of the house have knob & tube wiring and there is evidence of gas ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Can I tap into an exterior light in order to power a security camera?

I have an exterior light (shown below) that I was wondering if I could tap into, in order to power an outdoor IP cam. I understand I would have to pull appart some cables and potentially purchase ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the correct way to pass wire to exterior electrical box?

I'm doing some remodeling in our basement, and came across the following (see pictures). It looks like the contractor simply wrapped tape around the conduit to secure the box to the wall. How are ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

How do I protect a coax cable junction from outside weather?

I'm planning to re-arrange some coax cable lines in my house which will effectively require me to connect them to a 4-way splitter. The wifey would prefer these connections to take place in a ...
3
votes
1answer
650 views

Can I repair hairline cracks in a solid wood exterior door with clear silicone caulk?

My front doors have several small hairline cracks around the door panels. I would like to seal them. Can I use clear silicone caulking without damage to the stained surface? Do I need to clean or prep ...
3
votes
2answers
340 views

Are storm windows necessary for homes in mild climates?

I feel silly asking this but I'm curious. =) When are storm windows necessary and under what conditions? I live in California (US) and we hardly ever get snow or freezing temperatures where I'm at. In ...
3
votes
2answers
112 views

Is a permit required for replacing the front exterior light?

I live in California and checked my city's website for building permits requirements. One of the things it says requires a permit is an electrical upgrade. I want to change my front door light to a ...
3
votes
2answers
186 views

Easy to spread caulking - window weather proofing

I want to go around the exterior of my windows, etc with some caulking. I have some now that I used in the bathroom but it doesn't spread that easy or lay a decent bead. I know when I was growing up ...
3
votes
1answer
628 views

How cold can it be when painting exterior?

Last fall we rebuilt our front porch steps. Now we are finally getting warmer weather and I want to paint these as soon as I can. The primer I have does not give a minimum temp rating. I figured if ...
3
votes
1answer
635 views

How can I fill old screw holes in wood on the exterior of a house?

The exterior of my house is stucco, but there are some spots that have vertical wood planks. I think this was considered "in style" when my house was built (1950s). Anyway, over the years previous ...
3
votes
1answer
468 views

Installing railing pickets using dowel pins

I am building porch railing, and I'm considering using dowels to attach the pickets so that no nailing is required. For 2x2 pickets: What size dowel stock should I use? How long should each dowel ...
3
votes
3answers
417 views

How can I safely work around power lines?

I have to do some painting and repair work on the outside of the house near the incoming power line. The repair is pulling off molding and replacing it as well as painting the surrounding area. I am ...
3
votes
1answer
679 views

How can I build a porch enclosure?

I'm looking to take on this project myself, I want to enclose my porch. It's roughly 2x5 metres, and 8 feet high and is part of a semi detached where the porch continues on the other side to my ...