Worn out Screw Holes on Steel Door frame.



door1      This 32’ X 80” solid wood door with steel plating is known to be at least forty years old- according to the tenant. Throughout the course of the years, the concentrated stress on the top hinge had caused the wood inside the frame to split into pieces. An attempt had been made to repair the door with plastic anchors and epoxy, but the empty cavity offered no surface for the screws to bite.

As a last ditch effort to temporarily rectify the door so it will close without a major hassle, a small piece of lumber was installed behind the hinge. Replacing the entire frame is an extensive repair, however extracting and replacing the section of splintered wood within the frame is ordinarily a neat and easy task.




The remnants of the old wood was removed with a carpenter’s chisel. When the cavity was cleared,  a section of douglas fir was milled on a table saw to achieve a tight fit within the frame. The surface behind the frame is brick; a hammer drill with tap com fasteners was used to mount the customized nub. A strong construction adhesive was also used.




1” course screws were fastened in all four locations. If they become loose and over the next few years, wider thread screws can be used for replacement.

There is certainly no guarantee that the repair will hold up for the next forty years, but the door should function well enough- at least until the inevitable replacement of the ancient fossil hammered out relic of an apartment entry door and frame.





Worn out Screw Holes on Steel Door frame.

DIY Drywall plugs

 Easy Repair for Small Holes in Drywall




Small holes in sheetrock like the one shown above can simply be repaired with a scrap piece of sheetrock so long as it’s greater than the size of the hole. Judging by the shape of the hole, it seems that it was caused by a poor system of anger management. I am not qualified to advice on such issues, but I will say this: If you are prone to anger and have a history of punching walls, it’s best to avoid impact with the studs in order to avoid damage to the hand. It would also be prudent to mark the location of the studs prior to the next fit of anger.


A small piece of sheetrock was cut from the front side. The back was then cut to fit the dimensions of the hole. The desired result is to achieve a professional finish by using the paper as regular paper tape is used to cover seams. After a snug fit was assured, the paper was dampened with the spray bottle.



If I had scissors at the time, I would’ve rounded the corners of the paper nice and neat, but I didn’t so I ripped them by hand. It should have no adverse effect on the repair, but the photo did come out ugly. The wall was skimmed thoroughly with joint compound and the home made drywall plug was put in place. It took about a day to dry because of the added moisture.


After givin it a second pass on the following day, evidence of the hole had completely vanished.

DIY Drywall plugs

Lattice Wall Overlay




The plaster wall in the tenement apartment was cracked across the center and had separated from the wood lattice which it had been applied to many decades ago. This was an occupied apartment, and management sought to install an “overlay”, rather than demolishing the wall and kicking up a storm of dust. We simply “sandwiched” the original wall with wire lathe and a strong plaster/ powdered J. compound mix. (When mixing plaster with J. compound, it’s always better to use powdered JC, as it results in a more even mix.)

A small piece of the original plaster was removed and repaired with Structolite. Full lengths of wire mesh were fastened horizontally with galvinized screws and washers. It was made taut by temporaraly positioning the screws diagonaly to give it a slight stretch. This method was used to working from the center outward, much like the stretching of a canvas.

The beams were actual 4x4s spaced at 16” apart. I made certain that we hit every stud with tight spacing from top to bottom.

After the wire lathe was fastened, small blotches of the plaster compound was applied in choice areas to fortity the shape of the mesh, and not let it “bubble” anywhere.




The plaster compound was a quick dry formula,  ( approximately 50:50 ratio of plaster with powdered spackle.) I plastered the wall in sections with a 10” flush knife. While it was drying, I prepared the light switch area to accommodate a new bx cable, junction box and switch. I screwed scraps of sheetrock to the sub surface, and applied fibermesh tape over the seams.







This is the same wall after receiving a finish pass. Regular spackling was used for the final pass and required little sanding. It’s difficult to say how many passes were given because some areas required more attention. If a team of mathameticians were to examine the quality of work they would find some imperfections, but other than that, the finished wall was quite satisfactory. The tenents and the owner were pleased with the results, and I’m confidant that the wire mesh is fastened well and the wall will remain solid for decades.


Lattice Wall Overlay

Water Damaged Ceilings

Repairing Water Damaged Drywall in Bathroom



A leak registered into this bathroom from the apartment above. After running the fixtures upstairs, the culprit turned out to be a breach in the wax toilet seal.

The toilet repair only took about two hours, but the damaged ceilings and walls would consume many more hours of labor.

Fortunately, the sheetrock in the bathroom was built entirely with the water resitent “green-board” type, and incurred no damage except for the paper and the spackling compund.

The joint compound, along with the paper tape had absorbed moisture and remained clammy and damp. It had to be scraped away.





I sliced a margin in the latex paint to avoid pulling the rubbery, monolithic semi-gloss paint away from the undamaged sections; thus reducing the workload.

A garbage bag was taped to the wall below the work area – it caught most of the debris, save a few fugitive crumbs.

This section was dry enough to apply the home-made compound without a heat gun.

Since the existing paint was a semi- gloss finish, it was necessary to apply primer to the bordering areas of painted surface – to assure adhesion.








I prefer to use a mixture of joint- compound and unsanded grout with acrylic emulsion diluted in the mixing water for this application. The emulsion aids in the adhesion, while the portland cement present in the grout can absorb any residual moisture. I also prefer fiber-mesh to paper tape in bathrooms and other damp locations. In the long run, this repair holds up more adequetly to water damage than paper and straight J. compound.

The mixing tray is a teflon baking pan that someone had discarded. It works well for mixing gypsumite, cleans easy, and won’t rust.








A scratch coat of the custom mix was applied, and fibermesh tape was used liberally, thus fortifieng the surface. The second pass of gypsum was slung thicker than the scratch coat. The general idea is to make the entire surface as flush as possible. Small imperfections would be corrected on the finishing passes.





A third and final pass of the supermud was applied. Since this was an occupied apartment, I had to achieve a high end finish without sanding – at the occupants request. The fourth coat was a mere feathercoat which dried very quick.

Caulking was used on the inside corner.

A thin coat of drywall primer was applied with a paintbrush- focusing mostly on the edge areas which tend to stand out the most. A heavy coat of primer was applied followed by a coat of semi – gloss. The only way to have it look like a proffesional repair was to paint the entire cealing, and every wall that had been patched.

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of the bathroom after it was painted.

Water Damaged Ceilings

Water Damaged Bathroom

While this basement apartment was vacant, the bathroom was subject to an ongoing leak from above. The water ran down the ceiling and trickled behind the tile wall. The concrete sub surface had turned to powder and accumulated at the bottom. This caused the tiles to crack and the wall to blow out.


Before getting started on this project, we ascertained that the leak was fixed.


This wasn’t a paying job, but a rent exchange, and the costs were coming out of the pocket of yours truly. It was important to finish the bathroom within a reasonable budget without crossing over into the spectrum of sub standard workmanship. Fortunately, there were some materials left behind, and there was no rush to finish the job.


Notice the white tile on the bottom. There had been prior repairs, and the previous contractor didn’t match with the baby blue. Since it is already mismatched, it would not be such a sin to use different colors in that size, while maintaining the staggered pattern.


The entire wall along with a portion of the other side had to be removed. The lower wall was a concrete slab which was in good shape – there was no need to remove it. The upper section was deteriorated green-board framed with wood that had rotted. It was removed and rebuilt with 2 x 4s, and cement-board.

The section on the faucet side was carefully prepared with fir strips, cement-board, and fiber-mesh tape.

The entire surface was made flush with a combination of thin-set mortar and portland cement.



I was fortunate enough to score 12 sq. ft. of 4 x 4 tile for free: cobalt blue, flamingo pink, and a few pieces of white. The design was layed out on the floor prior to installation.



After marking the wall with level lines, the tiles were set with thin-set mortar and a toothed trowel. Some of the baby blues were salvageable, and helped to tie the design together by wrapping random pieces around the corners.

I scored some free grout – just enough to finish the project. A mixture of white, platinum, and gray was used. ( white grout should always be avoided because it has a tendency to yellow.)



On the window sill, the original tile was over-layed with cemen-tboard and epoxy. Tile scraps were used to correct the pitch of the window sill.

The edge of the cement-board was cut flush with the wall tile; to allow for flush installation of the tile strip.



I came across three 12” squares of granite, (very difficult to cut) and set them with thinset, allowing a ¾ inch overhang, and a slight pitch into the tub.

The cut strips of granite were used to fill in the space on the upper wall.

Black unsanded grout was used on the tile seams, and clear silicone was used around the wall edges.

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Water Damaged Bathroom