Tools for Your Home's Exterior Tips

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How can I level two distant points?

50 foot level

When you have to match the level of distant points - say, fencing or rock walls - you can make a level of any length you want. Use clear plastic flexible tubing filled with water. Hold one end with the water level at the desired point. The water at the other end will seek the same level no matter how far away.

How do I beautify foundation walls?

Foundation finish

Houses with walk-out basements usually have large areas of foundation walls exposed. To improve the appearance, apply a splatter coat of masonry cement with a texture gun before painting.

How do I drain water away from my house?

New dirt

To improve the drainage away from your house, you can buy pulverized topsoil. Check the Yellow Pages for dealers. It is purchased by the ton and delivered to your driveway. With a wheelbarrow, add soil around your foundation so that it slopes away from the house. Be sure to keep the soil at least four inches away from the siding to avoid attracting termites. An average house will take at least two tons.

How do I repair water damage to Masonite hardboard siding?

Masonite revisited

If you have water damage to the bottom edge of Masonite hardboard siding, it can be covered. Board and batt siding consists of 4' wide sheets with a 1-1/2" batt nailed vertically every 16". If the siding has bubbled at the bottom, it is because of water damage.
To repair:
With a circular saw, cut the batts up from the bottom 5 1/2" (the width of a 1X6). Nail a cedar 1X6 to the bottom, butted up to the batts. Caulk the top edge and paint.

How do I avoid water damage to Masonite hardboard siding?


If you have Masonite or hardboard siding, it is important to keep it sealed with paint. The siding is primed when it comes from the factory, but problems can develop after installation. Each nail must be caulked before painting. Special care must be taken to get a good coat of paint on the bottom edge of the laps and the full sheets.
Most of the water damage to hardboard siding comes from raindrops that "hang" on the bottom edge. If the edge is not sealed with paint, the water will wick up into the siding.

How do I caulk ?


To get a good seal when caulking, think of the job as welding the two surfaces together. The caulk must be applied to both edges of the crack being sealed. After the bead of caulk is applied, wet your finger and smooth the joint.

How do I make wood filler?


You can make your own wood filler by mixing sawdust with carpenter's glue. It will be paintable, but not stainable.

How do I get rid of slugs and snails?

Slugs & snails

A good way to get rid of slugs and snails is to place a pie pan in the ground, flush with ground level. Fill the pan with beer, check it around mid-morning, and dispose of all the invertebrate inebriates.

How do I nail starter strip to concrete?

Starter strip

When installing metal or vinyl siding, sometimes it is necessary to start the bottom row on the concrete foundation. Instead of trying to nail starter strip to the concrete, try using cedar shingles. Just snap the thick end of the shingles into the siding, establish the level you want, and nail the top of the shingle to the studs.

How do I get my siding to look level?

Leveling your siding

When installing lap siding of any type (vinyl or hardboard), leave your level in the shop. If you try to make the siding level, it will look crooked when you are done. Measure down from the soffit or frieze board to find a starting point on each face of the house. Match the corners and take a measurement down every two or three rows.

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