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Robert Lamoureux: How to finish a concrete block garage

Your Home Improvements

Posted: January 22, 2010 9:53 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Your Home Improvements,
I have a question for Robert. I’m looking for a more finished look in my garage which is currently exposed concrete block. Can you drywall over concrete? Since there are no studs there, do you just glue it on? Thank you very much,
Stanley S.

Hi Stanley
There are a few different options for precision block garages — the most popular being either paint or drywall.  

It is possible to glue the drywall directly onto the precision block. One problem with that would be that if there is any unevenness in the block, that will transfer and show on the drywall. It will look rippled. The best way is to use furring strips.

First, I would caulk and seal the cold joint between the slab and the precision block at the floor. This will prevent static pressure from pushing any water up through that joint. You don’t want any water coming in once the drywall is in place.

Next, I would recommend to coat all of the walls with bituthene. This is a rubberized asphalt and polyethylene that is available in a liquid that is rolled on with a brush, or as a waterproofing membrane sheet that you peel and stick to the wall. Both materials work very well on concrete surfaces and will prevent water and any humidity from seeping through the block.

Once you’ve got the garage walls waterproofed, nail 1” x 2” furring strips to the wall with a nail gun.  The gun will drive the nails through the wood, bituthene and block. I would use four furring strips, running from floor to ceiling, for each piece of drywall. The reason why you waterproof the walls and then install the furring strips is so you don’t have open spaces left behind the wood. If you were to get a leak, it would wick through the block from the outside and then through the furring strips. Then you would have a dark, enclosed wet space between the drywall and the block which are perfect conditions for mold.

When all of the furring strips are in place, bring in the drywall and follow your screw pattern which is 12” on center on the inside, and every 8” on center on the outside of each sheet.  

Once the drywall is taped and floated, you’re ready to add the texture, prime and paint.

Hello Robert,

After 20 years, we are looking for a new toilet and were wondering if you had any recommendations. Could you also tell me about current pricing? Thank you so much,
Beth S.

Hi Beth,
There have been changes made to toilets since your last purchase. It was about 20 years ago when the new regulations and designs went into effect to increase the efficiency and lower the amount of water used per flush. Some of us remember the 10 gallons per flush toilets. Now they’re down to an ultra low flow dual actuator with a 1.0 gpf.  

There are so many different manufacturers, models, styles and prices that the best thing would be to take your time, do your research and select the toilet that you feel is right for you.

For example, you can purchase a .2 HP pump power assisted, dual flush option — allowing you to decide between a 1.0 or 1.4 gallon flush which they say will save approximately 2000 gallons of water per year.  

Jetted bowls are also available. It is a gravity-fed siphon jet, combined with a sustained swirling water, keeps the bowl clean at 1.6 gpf performance that’s comparable to 3.5 gpf toilets. Another option would be the pressure assisted toilet that uses compressed air within the reservoir to propel water to the rim and siphon jet.  

Also available is the rim jet. It is a one piece, gravity fed toilet that uses the force or dropping water from the tank to begin the flushing action. Rim jets mounted at the front of the bowl force water to the trapway for a thorough flushing.   

As far as pricing is concerned, figures range anywhere from $200 to $1,200 — and that’s at your local home improvement store.  

Dear Robert,
I live in an HOA condominium property of approximately 1,000 units. On Jan. 16, plumbers came out and were working on a prv valve. They turned off the water to the entire complex, without any warning to any of the residents by the way. The water was off most of the day and when they turned it back on, we have almost no water pressure. The water is just barely trickling out of the faucets. I want this fixed but no one is returning my calls. Do you know what could be causing this problem? Thank you very much,
Edna T.

Hi Edna,

Whenever you valve down a property like that and then valve back up again, you wash the sediments through the system. Was your water brown when you first turned it back on?

These sediments will many times clog up the aerators to your faucets. These are the small screens attached to the faucet. Repair only requires you to remove, rinse and replace.  

If you still have a problem once you clean the aerators, then the next step would be to clean all of the supply lines — they supply water to the sink and toilet, disconnect the angle stops and clean those lines.  

Hi Robert,
We live in a condominium and have a leak in the skylight. Is this an HOA responsibility or homeowner? Thank you,
Jim D.

Hi Jim,
I am familiar with many properties throughout Los Angeles County where skylights are an HOA responsibility, but I own the skylights in my commercial building. It all depends on how your CC & Rs are written. Sometimes, if it’s vague, it will require an attorney to interpret what they were trying to say. Sometimes with skylights, it’s very common that the seal will rot which causes it to leak. In this case, it’s easy to repair. You can cut that seal out and bead it with 100 percent silicone which will buy you another season.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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