Dad and I are both hobbyist renovators. Dad has been doing it for about thirty years longer than I have, though, and is a LOT better at it than I am. When I bought my house, he sent me a list of products and notes on them. I’m re-posting here, with some of the discussion edited out, for posterity, reference, and linking purposes. I actually keep a text copy of the entire thing on my phone for reference when I’m away from the internets…
We have a saying in my family — “Ask me how I know!” — which usually means that we’ve screwed something up, bought the cheaper tool or the cheaper product, and ended up regretting it. Each and every one of the below points can be followed with “Ask me how I know!” from personal experience, because I don’t always believe good ol’ Dad either. The below is in completely random order.
- Spackle: MH Ready Patch – Spackle is used for small repairs to drywall, such as picture holes or where you’ve pulled out a molly/plug. MH will stick to lots of things and will harden up well without sagging. It’s solvent based, so it won’t cause problems with oil finishes and can be used on both wood and drywall.
- Caulk: Two products. Polyseamsealis available at Lowe’s and Home Depot and many other places. Unfortunately, Loctite recently bought the parent company, Henkel (also makers of the much beloved PL Premium), so the tub/tile stuff is no longer available in matte and they may have changed the formulation. Outside, we use Sashco Big Stretch Caulk & Seal, 10.5-Ounce, which is pretty amazing stuff. It’s the most elastic caulk I’ve ever seen, but you really have to fill a crack in it — and larger cracks fill better unless you can sort of ‘glue’ the two pieces together. I especially like to use it on Hardi Board/Panel, which shifts a lot in the Texas heat. Once it dries, though, it can only be removed with lacquer thinner, if that.
- Paint: Benjamin Moore. Super Spec is contractor crud, I use a LOT of Regal Aquavelvet, and Aura is amazing with dark or highly pigmented colors. We use Satin Impervo (oil) on trim. I have recently had decent experience with the HGTV and Duration lines of paint from Sherwin, but anything except their top of the line has performed poorly for me both in application and over time.
- Wire Nuts: Use only wire nuts with springs in them, like the tan Ideal ones available at Home Depot. Don’t buy the cheaper mixed bag of Buchanan ones with the different sizes/colors… you’ll spend more time dropping them or having them fall off in the j-box than you will actually screwing them on to wires.
- Screws: Don’t use drywall screws for construction, fencing… or really, anything but hanging drywall. For construction, I put everything together with screws because it makes it WAY easier to take apart later. I’ve done several structural changes to my house and used SPAX screws to hold interior framing together. (I typically use 2 inch or 3 inch screws.) For fences or decks, use fencing or decking screws.
- Paint Brushes: We tend to use Purdy brushes. Remember that you use different brushes for latex and oil; I don’t trust the “all purpose” ones to leave a clean line. My personal favorite brush is a Purdy Cub XL 2″ brush. Wooster brushes are also OK, but I don’t like them anywhere near as much as I like Purdy brushes. Clean them well and they’ll last you a long time.
- Drop Cloths: We put a 3-4 mil plastic drop cloth down with a canvas drop cloth over it. Why? Because without the plastic, the canvas will let the paint soak through. And without the canvas, when you spill or dribble some paint, you will step in it and then track it all over the rest of the house. Ask us how we know…
- Extension cords: Don’t get the cheap 14 or 16 gauge ones. Spend the money for a decent 12 gauge one. You can’t pull enough amps down a 14 gauge one in most cases for the tool to perform properly, and most power tools worth the name are going to pull 10-15 amps under load, not to mention any spikes or high draws.
- Sand Paper: Don’t bother buying Gator. They’re garbage, even the “higher grade” black stuff… the grit doesn’t last long enough and the paper loads up far too easily with dust and other leavings. I have had really, really bad luck with Norton discs leaving horrible dual action orbiter marks because of the “universal” five hole/eight hole design. The Dad-approved product is Mirka sandpaper.
More blog posts along this line coming down the pipe…