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DIY: Bryan Baeumler’s reno tips

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver

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After years of rescuing homeowners from their misadventures on HGTV shows like Leave it to Bryan and Disaster DIY, Bryan Baeumler has witnessed just about every DIY blunder in the book.

Set to release his own tome on the subject this month, Canada’s favourite construction expert shared top tips about common reno mistakes and how to avoid them.

24hrs: You mentioned painting was something people commonly mess up, what are they doing wrong?

Baeumler: Surface preparation is almost as important as applying the paint, and a lot of people don't take the time to fill nail holes, prime over drywall patches properly, seal the edges of their tape properly, or even cover floors and furniture with drop cloths before slinging around some colour. The better prepared you are, and the more patience you take with painting, the better the finished product will be.

24hrs: What advice would you give to DIY painters?

BB: Instead of taping off ceilings and trim, take your time and apply paint with an angled brush about half and inch from the corner — then go over the freshly applied paint with very gentle pressure and slowly spread it into the corner to create a crisp, clean line. When you're rolling, roll towards the arm of the roller — the opposite side of the roller applies less pressure to the wall and helps eliminate lines in your paint.

24hrs: How would you describe a poor tiling job? What are people often doing wrong? 

BB: It's easy to spot a rough tile job once grout has been installed, but more difficult before. Use a bullet level, or even a loonie and run it across the joints of the tiles to ensure that they are on the same plane. A poor tiling job is usually the result of being in a rush. Your first tile is the most important tile that you'll install – it's the keystone. Surface preparation is key – the flatter the surface you plan to tile, the easier the installation will be. Make sure you have a bullet level handy, and if tiling a floor, start at the highest point. It's easy to build tiles up off the floor with additional mortar, but it's impossible to push them down into the subfloor.

24hrs: Where are people going wrong when framing a basement?

BB: I often see basements framed improperly, walls out of level, rooms not square, and no backing for drywall in the corners. Most basement framing is non structural, so the major problem here is that if the framing isn't straight, level and square, it will be very visible once the drywall is up and finished.

24hrs: What are your tips to do it properly?

BB: Get yourself a 6' level and a chalk line. A laser level is also handy if you have access to one. Lay out your walls on the floor, and snap a chalk line to ensure they're straight and parallel. Transfer those lines at each end to the underside of the joists above using the level and a 2x4 to extend it to the joists, or use the laser level to make sure your walls are perfectly plumb. Snap another chalk line along the underside of the joists, and voila – you know exactly where to build your wall.

24hrs: What are signs a door has been installed incorrectly?

BB: Doors are installed in 3 dimensions — they must be square, plumb, and flat (i.e. Not twisted). If they swing open or closed by themselves, don’t close properly, or the gap between the door and frame isn't consistent all the way around the door, chances are they weren't installed correctly.

24hrs: What are your tips to perfect door installation?

BB: Pre-hung doors are the easiest to install, but even these can be tricky. When cutting doorframes to size, always cut the bottoms of the jambs to keep the hinge and striker plate spacing in the right spot. Shim and fasten the hinge side first, then adjust the top of the frame to level and adjust the remaining frame to maintain a consistent gap all the way around the door. Always shim directly behind hinges, and use 1 3" screw per hinge through to the framing to keep the door and frame secure for the long haul.

24hrs: What should people never DIY? 

BB: If you're not a plumber, electrician, experienced with structural framing, a gas fitter or HVAC professional – don't touch that stuff, it's just not worth it.

24hrs: What's next for Bryan? 

BB: We're currently wrapping up Season 3 of House of Bryan, and starting Season 5 (another 26 episodes) of Leave it to Bryan. I have my first (and probably only) book coming out in February: Measure Twice. It's a book about the top mistakes people commonly make, and how to avoid them. I've made many of these mistakes myself over the years (the best way to learn is make a mistake and learn how to correct it), and I'm hoping people can benefit from my experiences!

Catch Bryan Baeumler’s tips in person at the BC Home + Garden Show running Feb. 18-22 at BC Place. http://www.bchomeandgardenshow.com/  

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