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Making a Sunroom (From a Screened-in Porch)

I’ve written here before about creating removable wall screens for our porch. My wife enjoyed this screened-in area so much she eventually asked if we could create a wall of glass so we could enjoy this south facing ‘room’ in the winter, as well.

This is a shot of the porch’s exterior, during winter (when we used to stack firewood there).

 

 

We ended up deciding on very large windows …making the entire wall, almost all glass. Three, 5 foot high by 6 foot wide slider windows with invisible screens for summer… will maintain that outdoor feeling. We positioned them 2′ off the floor so the top edge  came within a foot of the ceiling (for maximum sunlight).

I did a rendering so my sons & I were all on the same page before we began construction….

 

new sunroom wall construction

 

…. we framed-out the new wall, faced it with exterior ply & wrapped with moisture barrier. Then we removed all the clapboard from the three interior walls.

 

 

we saved the old clapboard to cover the new exterior wall

 

Next we had to create a new floor (8 inches higher than the existing stone floor). This would make the floor warm in the winter, make it level with the adjacent kitchen floor & create a space for the vent pipe for our clothes dryer’s exhaust from the basement. We covered the old stone floor with tar paper, placed joists (to raise the floor) and filled  each slot with insulation and covered with two layers of 3/4 inch plywood (extra rigid for a tile floor). We then inserted the three big windows, insulated & sheet rock’d the interior walls.

 

the room will be warm & dry, this way

 

a 'wall of glass' is what makes a sunroom

 

 

We left the two existing windows (on what used to be the outside of the house) so that some daylight still made it through the sunroom and into our livingroom…. Now that I had a total of five windows and a doorway to surround with molding, I decided to make my own casing …as I wanted it’s shape to be clean & simple but really substantial in size. I used 5/4 inch by 8 inch and 3/4 by 6 inch boards & rounded all the outside edges. Here’s a pic of my sketches and two more of the casing getting installed & painted.

 

front views on the bottom & a profile sketch above (turn counter-clockwise to see in upright position)

 

 

 

We decided a tile floor would be best for a sunroom and found what looked like the floor from a century old Santa Fe building.

 

 

Once the floor was installed, we added the base molding and a crown molding. We hung a ceiling fan and mounted wall sconces at each end of the room. We painted the walls & trim the same color (so the molding’s shape stood out) and we covered the ceiling with a mixture of half white and half wall color (not as stark a contrast, walls & ceiling look better this way) and finally, filled the room with some comfortable chairs, etc.

 

 

a little busy but finally done

 

The view out the windows is all foliage with a few bird houses … /  everybody loves hanging out there now.

I’m glad I put the time in. Increased the value of our home too. A ‘win-win’.

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.

 

Easy-to-make, Screened in Porch

We have an alcove on the outside of our home. It sits on one side of the house tucked in, underneath the second story above and has a slate floor. If it had enough windows, you might considerate it a sunroom. We also have a fireplace in the living room and a wood burning stove in the kitchen… so it ended up being the perfect place to store 2 to 3 cords of wood (so I wouldn’t have to march out in the snow to get a couple of logs twice-a-day). … but it became little used during the summer. My wife said she’d love to have a screened in porch but I didn’t want to give up the perfect firewood storage area. So… I pondered how I might build a screened wall, 7 ft. high and almost 26ft long, that could be stored out of the way in the winter but put into position during the summer. Three – 8&1/2 ft sections would be made of 2X6’s (flat sides on the face) so that they were sturdy, fairly flat for storage & substantial in weight but not so heavy that they couldn’t be moved a few feet each spring & fall. This first picture shows the cordwood stacked for the upcoming winter. The rectangle you see between the two windows are the three wall sections stacked together. They occupy less that a foot of space (depth) from the alcove’s back wall.

 

doorway on right hand side wall (out of sight) lets me get wood within two steps of the house

Now that winter is over, this next shot shows the final wall screen being put into place. Each has two screws placed into the header above and each weighs more that enough to stay put along the floor even during the strongest of winds, people leaning on them, etc. The materials were very inexpensive and they were relatively easy to construct with very long stainless steel screws. Placing an additional rail at chair rail height made them all the more rigid and looked fairly handsome, I thought. They are almost ten years old now and as solid as the day I made them.

This last shot shows you our screened in porch with wall sconces that I installed at either end on ‘the room’ and how we’ve dressed it up for the warmer weather. Reading, writing, eating, napping, card games… we love this little room…. now year-round.

Russell Hudson / HCM 5/28/13

 

A Cabinetmaker’s Bathroom

When we bought the house, the old bathroom had a Formica covered vanity and a linen closet which occupied a fifth of it’s interior space. When I finally got around to it, we gutted the entire room and could now start from scratch.
We wanted a turn-of-the-century look so I built wainscot from beadboard to surround the room.

I made a small door (to the left, in the shot above) that gives me access to the shower fixture & plumbing inside that wall (as long as I was at it, I thought I’d do it right).

Bathrooms can be somewhat sterile so we hung pictures and small objects to warm it up.

As there’s never enough room to hang towels, we shopped around for some cool looking hooks and used the back of the door.

Radius-edged tiles were used for the shower and the vanity’s counter top. Here you see a close-up of the wainscot meeting the tile.

I fabricated a towel rack and tissue holder for a strictly functional, turn-of-the-century look.


We purchased a medicine cabinet with mirrored doors. I sunk it into the wall and wrapped it with casing to make it appear like a framed mirror. I used the space inside an adjacent wall to give us more storage and made a special little door for it.


With the linen closet removed, I now had a long wall to build a serious vanity along. Drawers are so much more useful in a bathroom than door cabinets so I built it with fourteen drawers and a single door for the sink cab.

The larger drawers I built as pull out shelves so we could place cloth lined baskets within.

Any cabinet that holds a sink invariably has a door with a single, false drawer front above it (to hide the side of the sink). A while back I had saved one of the hand carved panels from a folding room divider (which I disassembled to use in a kitchen). I finally found the perfect place for this little beauty.

After we did the floor tiles, we placed one of my wife’s floor cloths (painted canvas) to make it easier on bare feet during winter mornings. The used a light mustard color paint for the walls and a dark green for the wainscot. It’s a handsome little room now with lots of storage for all the things you’d ever need in the bathroom.
Russell Hudson / 5/25/12

 

Top 10 Plumbing Supplies to Have at Home

One need not be a trained, master plumber with fully stocked supply shed in order to be prepared for some of the basic eventualities. Plumbing repairs happen. Having proper supplies on hand can save money and grief in the long run.

plumbing supplies Top 10 Plumbing Supplies to Have at Home
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In addition to the top safety supplies one should have at home, there are a few tools which should be added to the home plumber’s toolbox.

  • Pipe Wrench: At a minimum, at least one adjustable, heavy leaded pipe wrench should be a part of ones tool set. Better is having a large as well as a small. For the most prepared, the addition of adjustable pliers will often come in handy.
  • Angle Stops: If the house is relatively new (built within the past 5 years or so) worrying about failed pipe connections should be minimal. Anything older however, and the risk of a toilet or sink supply line connection failing increases every year. Most homes have similar style and connector sizes for the stops around the house. Having at least 2 to 3 on hand is a low cost way to help minimize water damage which can be attributed to leaking connections.
  • Faucet Washers: Plumbers like to make water faucets seem to be a big mystery. Really they are not. If possible look up the particular models and examine the exploded schematic views of the faucets in the home. Most will adequately describe the type of washers and seats required to stop leaks and drips.
  • Plumbers Tape: Usually a Teflon coated, thin white tape approximately 3/8 of an inch wide. Any time a supply line connection or drain line is disconnected, one should use this tape to ensure that upon being reconnected water is unable to seep out through the pipe threads.
  • Plumbers Grease: When those faucet washers and seats are re-installed, it is important to use this waterproof grease to help lubricate the actual faucet itself. In addition to providing for ease of use, plumbers grease will also provide for a small amount of water proofing of faucet connections as well.
  • Supply Lines: Between the angle stops and the faucet or toilet is the water supply line. Manufactured of either poly-plastic blends or braided metal strands, when a supply line goes bad, the water flow must get turned off to prevent damage. Having at least one spare for the bathrooms of the house, and one spare for under the sinks (bathroom and kitchen tend to be the same size) is a prudent plumbing supply to have on hand.
  • Toilet Flappers: Water is not only a precious commodity in most parts of the world, but can also be quite expensive. When a toilet is found to be “running” the culprit of the wasted water is often times due to a failing rubber flapper which closes the hole between the water fill tank on the back of the toilet and the bowl itself. These devices do not last for ever, and should be replaced every few years.
  • Loosening Lubricant: Pipes and nuts can often times be quite the challenge to loosen for removal. Water causes rust, and where leaks might be prevalent, rusted fittings can prevent even the strongest attempts to remove the bolt, nut or fitting. Spray lubricants like WD 40 can soften the rusted or difficult connections making removal a much easier task.
  • Outdoor Hose Washers: Provided one keeps outdoor hoses rolled up, in dry areas, they tend to last for many years. What does tend to go out on them are the rubber washers which provide cushion and leak prevention between the hose and the outdoor faucet’s threads. These are very easy to spot when bad, usually regardless of how tight the connection is made, water continues to leak at the faucet head end. With replacement being sold in multiple packs, having a spare on hand is cheap and easy.
  • General Plumbing Repair Manuals: Finally, a little knowledge can both go a long way towards minimizing plumbing challenges in the home as well as helping reduce ones bills to the local plumber. Simple repairs and preventative maintenance can be found in any number of manuals available online or at your local hardware store.

What other plumbing supplies should you have on hand? Share the contents of your toolbox in the comments!

 

10 Safety Supplies Every Home Should Have

Many state and local governments have passed laws in recent years requiring a bare minimum of in-home safety items. Smoke detectors, ground fault interrupters on electrical outlets near sinks or other water sources, etc. While important, these types of requirements are the absolute, bare minimum of in home safety supplies that home owners should consider.

home safety supplies 10 Safety Supplies Every Home Should Have
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10 Items For a Safer Home

The following list will provide a good starting point for those who understand there is more involved in home safety that simply replacing the batteries in the smoke detector.

  1. Smoke Detectors: For the most part, landlords and property owners are required to provide functional smoke detectors. In theory, they should also test and replace batteries (in battery operated devices) on at least an annual basis. Tenants and owners alike should always take it upon themselves to regularly test and replace batteries at the first sign of reduction in power.
  2. Gas Detectors: Though these devices may appear similar looking to smoke detection devices, what they check for are gases, often odorless and colorless. Without proper detection equipment, ones family could easily be in harms way without anyone even knowing. Most homes will benefit from having carbon monoxide tests as well as radon gas, both killers if found in high enough quantities.
  3. Mold Detection: Certain areas of the country have a preponderance of mold growing capabilities in homes of the region. Houses with basements, near lakes or other bodies of water, or those with poor rain drainage should all be suspect for the ability of mold to grow, hidden away behind wall boards, under the floors, etc. If occupants in these home have allergies or are susceptible to air borne pathogens, mold detection is an absolute must safety action to be taken.
  4. Emergency Lighting: Even for non-emergencies, times when the dog is barking and one desires to check out the dark night, having a working flashlight ready at hand is an important safety supply. For more catastrophic situations, lanterns, plenty of batteries, solar powered lighting, and even crank or shake flashlights should all be considered for providing emergency lighting.
  5. Pool Safety: Every year home pools claim the lives of young children who have been left unattended near unprotected swimming pools. While some local municipalities do require that pool enclosures have fenced or cordoned off restraining devices, too many more have no such emergency preventatives in place. If the concept of a physical barrier is too much perhaps electronic sensors with alarm systems might be considered. Additionally, having adequate lighting for pools at night will greatly aid in the safe operations of the home swimming facility.
  6. Furniture Protections: Once a family’s small children begin to grow and curiosity gets the better of them, they start to explore all the nooks and crannies of a home. As they attempt to stand and walk around they are usually in danger of falling. Depending upon the types of furniture in the home, creating a safer environment for the little ones can spell the difference between happy, healthy babies and those who suffer from unfortunate accidents. Cushioning sharp edges of tables, or fireplace brick, banisters, or any other edges that might protrude into the head or face of a falling infant is a wise consideration.
  7. Doors and Windows: Keeping prying eyes and hands out of doors or from falling through open windows is also an important home safety consideration. Locking apparatus which is easy for an adult to open, but tough for a child can prevent accidents from happening.
  8. Drawer and Cabinet Precautions: Even before a child is able to walk, they have the ability to crawl and use their hands to make their way into under counter storage areas. Preventing those prying eyes from having access to potentially lethal chemical solutions under the kitchen or bathroom sink is well worth the expense of installing child proof locking systems.
  9. Electrical Safety: All those wires behind the television/entertainment area are enticing. Not only to small children but to pets as well. Organizing the wires into neat bundles not only makes for a more safe environment but tends to look better as well. Electrical outlets are also an active draw for enterprising young minds. Covering unused outlets, and providing for protective, hard to remove covers for those in use will help prevent catastrophe for those eager imaginations.
  10. First Aid Kits: An absolute standard which should be available in every home. Large or small, having immediate access to first aid supplies, even simple things like triple antibiotic ointment, can make a huge difference for someone who is in need of immediate medical care.