In April of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovating, Repairing or Painting Rule (RRP) went into effect. The RRP Rule comes into play when contractors do work which disturbs more than six square feet per room or 20 square feet of exterior surfaces in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. If lead is present, the contractor must be certified, follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination, and follow notification requirements.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer working on your own home, one that you don’t plan to flip or rent, you are not required to follow these practices. However, if you hire a contractor to do any work that falls under these guidelines–for example, a painter whose work disturbs more than six square feet of surface–the painting contractor must be certified and follow lead-safe practices. These include containing the dust during the project, using practices that minimize the creation of dust, and doing a careful clean-up after you are through.

Even if you are doing all the work on your home yourself, you should be familiar with these work practices to protect you and your family. Why should you be concerned? Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes in America before it was banned for residential use in 1978. Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems and can also be harmful to adults and pregnant women.

Lead dust, which is often invisible, is the most common way people are exposed to lead during a renovation in their home; it gets into the body when it is inhaled or swallowed. The older a home is, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint. Common renovation practices like demolition, sanding and cutting can create hazardous lead dust and chips.

So, depending on how your project will be handled, either by a professional or if you plan to do it yourself, you should take the necessary steps. While a do-it-yourselfer working in their own home is not required to follow the RRP rule, they should still purchase an approved EPA lead-test kit online or from hardware or paint stores and follow the instructions to perform the test themselves. Before your contractor starts your project, he (you) should hire a certified professional such as a certified risk assessor or a Certified RRP professional to conduct an inspection and tell you which areas of your home may need lead-safe practices. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions you need to take to address any potential hazards.

For assistance in finding a risk assessor or finding other information, you can call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-lead (5323). You can also Google RRP to get more information or visit the EPA lead website.


One Hammer

I love hardwood floors. I think they make a house feel like home, perhaps because the house I grew up in had hardwoods. Installed when the house was built in the early 1950s, these floors have dings and marks that help tell our family story. I personally would not “repair” any of these chapters of our life but that’s just me … I am here to tell you how to care for your hardwoods.

The number one rule is to clean, clean, clean! Dirt, sand and moisture are the biggest enemies of any wood floor. Dirt and sand cause scratches. Moisture can stain or even warp the wood.

To know how to clean your floor you have to know what type of finish it has. For our purpose of basic cleaning we will put the flooring in two groups:
1. Most new flooring is surface-sealed, e.g. urethane, polyurethane & polyacrylic. Surface-sealed floors are much more resistant to dirt and moisture and, as such, are easier to clean.
2. Other finishes are penetrating-seal and oil-sealed with a finish that penetrates the wood. Lacquered, varnished, shellacked, and untreated are technically surface-sealed but are cleaned in the same way as oil-sealed finishes.

If you are unsure what type of finish you have, run your finger over the wood. If you can feel the grain it is probably not surface-sealed.

Now, let’s clean.

Sweep! Use a soft broom, a dust-mop or a disposable cloth cleaner. You can use a vacuum if you have a bare floor setting. Do not spray furniture cleaner/polish on your dust-mop thinking it will pick up more dirt and make your floor shiny. It will make your floors very slick.

Now, I’ve heard several differing opinions on floor cleaning products but I am old-school — I like vinegar for the surface-sealed floors. It doesn’t leave a soap residue and it does not streak. One quarter cup of white vinegar to one gallon warm water is my cleaner of preference. Never use ammonia! Never use an abrasive cleaner!

Mops — I hate mop marks! My clients have these beautiful floors that look dirty to me if the shine is obscured with spongy little stripes. My solution? I do not use a mop. Old-school, remember? I make a bucket of my vinegar water and wet a clean terrycloth towel in the water, then wring the towel out as much as I possibly can. I put the towel on the floor and the only purpose of my cheap sponge mop is to act as a handle for the towel. Rinse your towel often and wring it out as much as possible. You want damp, not wet. If the towel is leaving streaks you have not wrung it out enough. Mop with the grain of the wood.

Tip: If you have trouble with scuff marks, put a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge and rub … they’ll come right up.

Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-sealed floors; lacquered, varnished, shellacked, untreated:
Sweeping these finishes with a soft broom actually buffs them. A broom also gets the dust from between the floorboards. These floors should only be mopped occasionally. If you keep them swept clean you should not need to clean with water. Clean up spills immediately with a dry towel or a damp towel if it is sticky, but then wipe completely dry.


For all finishes, do:

  1. Sweep often.
  2. Use rugs in areas that tend to have spills, for instance, in front of the kitchen sink. Use rugs that can breathe and that will not trap moisture or dirt underneath against your floor.
  3. Use door mats. When Mama told us to wipe our feet she was protecting the finish on her floors! Dirt on our shoes works like sandpaper — that’s bad.
  4. Cover your windows with sheers or blinds. Sunlight can fade the wood.
  5. Use felt feet or furniture glides on all of your furniture. You can buy a big bag at almost any home improvement center. Sliding unprotected furniture will scratch your floors!
  6. Trim your pets’ nails.

That should get you going on cleaning your hardwoods; in my next post, we’ll talk about waxing your floors.

This is a hot idea…or maybe it’s a cool product, either way, I love it.

About 14 years ago I installed my first programmable thermostat to help save on my heating and cooling bills. I have since replaced it with newer versions as they have become smarter and smarter. The problem has been that the thermostats are either hard to program or have few day-evening-night-weekend setting options, so they work on a fairly rigid schedule. This means I spend a lot of time overriding the settings that took me forever to program in the first place. To me, this looks to be the answer to all of this: a thermostat that learns how you live and works with you to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, while saving energy.

Installing a device like this is an easy DIY-er project and a great way to save $$$

Rather than have me go on about it, take a look at this video.

You can also visit the Nest site here

Floating Bedside Table ©2011 DIYH

A simple yet stylish “floating” bedside table. Great for small bedrooms or anywhere space is tight.

Hammer time- we rate this project a “2-hammer”

The piece shown has a random grain Mahogany veneer top, but would look great either solid wood or even painted.

Tools and equipment needed for this project:

  • Table saw (optional)
  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Mitre Saw
  • Misc. hand tools
Click image to see full size

Click here to download a free PDF of this project

Walnut vanity ©2011 DIYH


Here is a fun project for all you “garage shop carpenters” out there.

On a scale of 1 to 5 we rate this a “4- hammer” project.

Tools and equipment needed for this project:

  • Table saw
  • Shaper table or large router table
  • Planer
  • Jointer
  • Circular saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Compressor and brad nailer
  • Kreg Jig or other pocket hole system
  • Mitre Saw
  • Misc. hand tools

Click image to see full size

Click Here to download a free PDF of this project

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