Home Improvement Wiki, where art thou?

I’m going to start with my conclusions rather than how I got there – you can read on if you want all the grisly details.

What did I learn today? The internet sucks on home improvement advice. Sure, it’s fine if you want something basic – in fact there’s a zillion sites on the basic stuff. But as soon as you need something out of the ordinary, the resources drop to zero. Frankly, all the big box stores need to do is quit duplicating what everyone else is doing on home improvment advice and start their own wiki. What’s out there right now just doesn’t cut it.

Wikihow is kind of a weird beast. Check out their category “Home Improvements and Repairs“. Okay, there is some good stuff here, but replacing a Zippo Wick ain’t exactly home improvement, and “Get a Ghost out of your House” ought to be in occult rituals or some such. Hell, getting rid of the ghosts might spoil the home atmosphere or something :). Then there is How to Safeguard a Home with Homemade BoobyTraps – that is a hoot. All in all I can’t decide if Wikihow is Wiki’s run rampant with useless information or just a good idea gone off the deep end. I mean, a Wiki telling people how to do things would be really good, assuming the advice was correct, and a little more specific. One last gem: “How to Clean Oil off a Driveway” – Step one – ‘Go to your local hardware store and ask for a product that will clean up the oil’. Uh huh – perhaps you could TELL ME WHAT PRODUCTS I might get.

Oh and one other thing I learned today was to buy/rent a hammer drill if you’re going to be doing much more than a couple of holes in concrete, especially if it’s hard concrete.
So I was working on my bathroom renovations today. Not that I actually picked up any tools, or put down any materials – rather I spent 4 hours trying to figure out how I might go about handling the border between a 1″ high vinyl tile + sub floor and the 3/8ish” high carpet in the hallways. In case you haven’t noticed, the construction world is still firmly in the grips of the imperial system so you you’d better know that “=inch, 1 inch is 2.54 cm, and everything is in fractions of 4,8,16, or 32. I finally found out that what I needed was a floor reducer. Now, even finding out this much was difficult, since I knew what I wanted but didn’t know what it was called. Looking for “flooring” plus some other terms just kept giving me many sites trying to tell me how to install a floor. None of them I found talk about what happens where said floor meets a different floor, at least until I found out the name of what I was looking for. Now at least when I go to the store tomorrow, I have an idea what I’m looking for. I hate being totally reliant on the sales staff. Especially in Calgary right now, good staff is hard to come by – and it’s a lot harder to tell if they’re any good if you don’t know anything about what you’re trying to buy.

So, much delayed, I finally get a start on securing my subfloor to the concrete – which requires drilling 5/32″ holes into the concrete for the screws. I need to drill about 1 1/4″ deep for each hole. I know concrete drilling isn’t that easy, but they’re small holes and I only need to do 20 or so, so a standard drill should do right?

Wrong. I managed two holes in an hour and I was scared I was heating the bit too much, not pressing hard enough or what? Back to the internet. Now my search term is “how to drill a hole in concrete“. Hmm, what’s this? Something called “WikiHow“, ah here we go. Seems kind of, uh, simplistic. They don’t really mention how HARD it is to drill through concrete with a standard drill, but there’s a few things to try
– back to the bathroom. Another 1/2 hour later I’ve decided it’s back to the internet again, this time to find out how much a hammer drill is going to cost me. Home depot sells this B&D for $70. Okay, from what I’ve been able to gleam, it’s worth a try. I can always return it if it don’t do the job. Hell, I could always return it even if it does do the job… Scratch that idea – you know you’re going to do the rest of the basement floor at some point. Okay, since Home depot is close by, still open, and $20 cheaper than Canadian Tire, I go and make a little trip there.

Home Depot turns out to be quite empty. Mental note: 8 – 10pm is a good time to shop there. I asked the very frustrated sales person who seemed to also be in charge of the move where the rest of the hammer drills were, there seeming to be a lack of product on hand. They were moving their tool department and had exactly half their hammer drills in the old area, and half in the new area. Great.

I threw out my first choice which was $10 cheaper than the B&D, since I couldn’t find it anywhere and I had at least found a floor model of the B&D. Back to the sales person, whose day had not improved. He at least was able to find me a B&D in the upper shelf. I got my ass out of the store as quick as possible, forget checking for floor reducers – I was hungry at this point.

Having tried this thing out I certainly can say it’s a hell of a lot better than a standard drill. Things are by no means easy, but then again, this isn’t a powerful unit – you can spend $300 up if you want on better units. $70 B&D will get the job done in a half a day rather than the 2 plus days I was looking at with the regular drill. Probably save me some money on drill bits too – you see with concrete what you want is something that pulverises the rock/sand/binding rather than shaving off bits like a regular drill/bits will do. I’d have just been grinding down the concrete drill bit since I can’t pound 1000’s of times a minute the way a hammer drill does.

So, since you read the conclusions above, thus ends my post

Additional 001: I take it back. B&D (That’s Black and Decker) will NOT get the job done, at least for 25 yr old basement floor concrete which is quite hard. From reading on Amazon, it seems to break a lot too. Returned and exchanged for a Dewalt for double the cost, but this seems to work, so far.

About ralph

Just another blog to share some thoughts with the world.
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6 Responses to Home Improvement Wiki, where art thou?

  1. Lori Olson says:

    You need to watch more HGTV (Home and Garden channel). I remember seeing that floor reducer thingy on there a couple of weeks ago. 😉

  2. forget the internet, the library is the best place to get information on home improvements (for specific jobs or overall projects) or just buy a good overall home improvement book, there are lots of illustrated books with basic step by step instructions. also there are great books at the library for tools – from planes to table saws to drills – to tell you the best tool for the job and the best make…as far as drilling into concrete—-invest your money in the best concrete bits money can buy—i’ve drilled lots of holes in conctere with just an old electric drill (battery powered no way) and good concrete bits….wanna get oil off your driveway (concrete) use TSP…..good luck with the renovations…..

  3. I agree the library is a good place to go to find out about home improvements. Also, if you want help searching for home improvement on the internet, try ChaCha.com. They have live search engine guides to help you find information. It’s pretty funny.

  4. I agree that the internet doesn’t have as much advice on home improvement as it does on a variety of different topics. Luckily, I’ve come up with a site that helps individuals with improving the one area of the house that’s most neglected, the garage. Great blog by the way.

    Looking forward to more updates!

    Cheers,
    Sal

  5. michael says:

    I agree a library would be a great place to start. However, I do have a DIY home Improvement blog you can check out that I udate frequently.
    -MBM Construction

  6. Atanas says:

    I think if you use the right keyword phrases the internet can be a good place to find advice, but I also know the dilemma which you speak of, many things are copied and basic stuff.

    If you just learn how to do the basics then i believe you can get ideas from many TV shows.

    Thanks for your article; it was quite amusing to read.

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