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32 votes
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How do I self-repair a section of crumbling basement wall, or should I hire a professional?

It looks like a cosmetic DIY patch-job was already attempted before. The current situation is exactly how you can expect your attempt to turn out. This is a structural issue and I would hire a ...
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14 votes
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Can I start and stop a tile floor job?

It certainly is acceptable to do a tile job in phases. There's no structural reason that tiles need to have their supporting mortar connected mechanically. The critical bond is to the substrate, not ...
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  • 104k
13 votes

Rusted screws in outdoor outlet box

Hacksaw? If you saw thru the rusty plate (twice, one for left slot and one for right) and remove it by pulling it out from under the screw, the remaining screw will be sticking up enough for you to ...
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  • 5,498
11 votes

How can I lift buckets of mortar to second floor?

If you have a pulley and no way to anchor it overhead, you could always lift from the top, with the pulley attached to the bucket. Of course, you'll need to have an anchor for the rope somewhere on ...
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  • 15.5k
9 votes

How do I self-repair a section of crumbling basement wall, or should I hire a professional?

The first step of repairing a deteriorated wall is to knock loose and remove the bad materials to the solid base. However, in your case, I suspect there is nothing solid that remains, as the cracks ...
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  • 3,261
8 votes

Rusted screws in outdoor outlet box

WD-40 is NOT a good penetrating oil. Liquid Wrench is better, but still not that great. The best kinds are called Kroil or PB Blaster, you can find them in auto parts stores. But if you don't have an ...
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  • 14.4k
7 votes
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Is mortar waterproof?

Mortar is not waterproof. However, there are products that can be applied to mortar (and other concrete materials), that can make the mortar waterproof.
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  • 128k
7 votes

Can I start and stop a tile floor job?

you can certainly stop for the day. the things you have to watch are: a) finish your tiles all in one line or row, not on the diagonal. that way you can check it with a laser or string to make ...
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6 votes

What actually happens if I vary proportions of cement and sand in mortar?

I have been a practicing stone mason for fourty years and I have seen the long term affect of the 1:3 mix compared to the 1:2 mix. With proper preparation from the base under the footing and ...
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5 votes

How can I lift buckets of mortar to second floor?

I had a project some years back building a 28 foot high chimney. Needless to say there was a need to hoist a lot of buckets of mortar and then all the chimney blocks and flue liners up to the work ...
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  • 61.2k
5 votes

How can I lift buckets of mortar to second floor?

Lift the dry materials, run a hose for the water, mix in place, avoid having to lift the weight of the water. The REALLY EASY but rather expensive method - hire a concrete pump truck for the day.
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  • 133k
5 votes

What kinds of gloves should be used for working with mortar?

Considering how little exposure you will get to the mortar for your small project, you're probably fine with just your work gloves. Wearing latex gloves under your work gloves will provide additional ...
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  • 18.8k
5 votes
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Types of floats and trowels for concrete

In my years in the construction trade, here is my synopsis of concrete floats and trowels and their uses. I will start with the screed. A screed can be as simple as a short piece of framing, 1X3 or ...
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  • 31.2k
5 votes
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Will a cement mixer extend the working life of mortar?

A mixer might help you mix smaller batches more quickly, so that you can easily adjust the size of a batch and keep up. But most mixers will make you think you should be making an even larger batch, ...
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  • 133k
5 votes

Rusted screws in outdoor outlet box

Try using an impact driver , the other rusted screw may shear off though , judging by its condition. I'd opt replacing the box , as its too much headache to fix. If you do get it out, try adding ...
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5 votes

Rusted screws in outdoor outlet box

Cut strip in middle. Bend each part and use as a "spanner" to friction turn the screws while also applying torque to the screws. Having three arms or a helper makes this easier. Once you ...
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4 votes

How long to wait after tile installation before placing heavy objects on it?

It depends on the concrete permeability and the tile permeability (is it porcelain (essentially zero permeability) or a ceramic bisque (most non-porcelain tiles))? A sealed concrete floor and a ...
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  • 12k
4 votes

Is mortar waterproof?

Yes, mortar is waterproof. It is "relatively unaffected" by water "under specified conditions". Water-proof or water-resistant describes objects relatively unaffected by water or resisting the ...
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  • 12.7k
4 votes
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Installing 'TruStone' veneer, directly on painted drywall?

Probably not a good idea. As you said, the stones are heavy. If you could guarantee a solid rest on the floor, maybe, but I'd simply cut out the drywall a few inches inside your stone area, replace it ...
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  • 104k
4 votes
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Bathtub mortar base

Contact of the bottom of a steel tub with a mortar bed could cause corrosion of the tub from the bottom. If the instructions do not call for a mortar bed, I would not use it without expert opinion to ...
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  • 19.6k
4 votes
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How can I remove cured tile mortar from subfloor?

Tile mortar is actually fairly soft. If you have access to a belt sander, take a coarse grit to it. Otherwise, scrape at it with a robust flat tool like a cold chisel.
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  • 104k
4 votes

Why did concrete screws feel loose when installed in a brick wall?

Tapconing into a mortar joint is to be avoided. See the discussion here. And the one here about how 3/16" are garbage. Use 1/4". If the Tapcon goes into a mortar joint it's pull out ...
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  • 12.7k
4 votes

Why did concrete screws feel loose when installed in a brick wall?

For something as substantial as a mantle, I would not use simple Tapcons. Tapcons are great for simple fasteners, but aren't that great for something like this. I would highly suggest installing a ...
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  • 19.8k
4 votes
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How to stop bricks pushing out while drilling?

I would suggest re-doing the cement for the bricks, allow to dry. Then once hard I would secure a wood panel (12" or 15" square) over that area to help hold the bricks back. Then drill gently.
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  • 20.7k
4 votes

what is the correct procedure to patch up cinder block hole with plumbing?

You need to make sure that you can have access to the space in case you need to address any issues with the plumbing in the future. ( especially since you have a fernco type rubber fitting installed. )...
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  • 13.2k
4 votes

Rusted screws in outdoor outlet box

The box looks like it is plastic, so if you can get a good grip on the screws, they should be able to be forcibly removed. You could start with the impact driver, then the ole Dremel a deep slot in ...
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  • 2,432
3 votes

What kinds of gloves should be used for working with mortar?

Since you're working with other minors, at a very minimum, you should follow OSHA guidelines: Skin Irritation: Wet portland cement can cause caustic burns, sometimes referred to as cement burns. ...
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  • 4,714
3 votes

What water:cement:sand ratio gives the strongest mortar?

It is virtually impossible to specify the proportion of water in a concrete mix due to the wide range of moisture content in the sand used, Regarding "old" cement powder - if kept completely and ...
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3 votes

Can I start and stop a tile floor job?

More of a comment than an answer, but this is how I handled it on a recent small room project. Each bullet-point was a day or afternoon. It was a herringbone pattern with 3x6 tiles, so it took a ...
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  • 26.6k
3 votes
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What's the best ratio for sand-only concrete?

First I want to point out that the hardness has a lot to do with cure time and temperature. Longer cures (6-8 weeks) at cool temperature (say 50 °F) are harder. Short, hot cures are harder initially, ...
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