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Robert Lamoureux: Solid core wooden doors reduce noise

Posted: March 12, 2010 10:47 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.
We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt that we will send to you, with our compliments, if we answer your question in our column. Thank you, Robert Lamoureux

Hello Robert,
I have a short question. What kind of doors would be best in order to reduce noise from a busy street? I have fiberglass now and they are double entry. Thanks,
Daniel F.

Hi Daniel,
The first thing would be go with a solid core wooden door. This would be a better insulator. When installed, you want a very tight reveal and be sure and put in all necessary weather stripping.

Use a door sweep and door shoe. Make sure that the sweep and the threshold touch, with no gap in between. This will alleviate a lot of that road noise and will save on energy costs.

The next step would be to put shrubbery along the front of your property. The road noise that you are hearing is caused by the tires on the asphalt. People think that the noise comes from the engine, but most of it is actually caused by the rubber on the road. These two steps, the shrubbery along with the solid core doors, will not only beautify your property but will give you a noticeably quieter home.

Hi Robert,
I've got a bit of a problem. I'm doing a stucco job on the side of my garage. There were so many cracks that had been filled that I finally decided to take it all down and start over. I removed everything down to the studs. I replaced the felt, the lath, I put on a scratch and brown coat. Then I took a break for a couple of weeks. I went back to put on the top coat and it won't stick. The new mix keeps sliding off of the brown coat. Maybe I made the brown too smooth? Should I add adhesives in the mix? What kind would you recommend? I would like any option that does not involve breaking all of this off again. Thanks,
Jim A.

Hi Jim,
That's a tough one to answer without seeing it. Did you wet it? Did you use Base 100 or 200? If so, those are straight shot applications. It should go on, no problem. I have never not seen it bond. How is your brown coat? It's supposed to be straight, but not trowel finished. You're just supposed to put it on and level it out with a darby. If you put a high polish on it, then you'll need to demo and start over.

If you've mixed it too wet, then it will slide off. Or, if you're putting it on bone dry, it won't stick either.

Since it is completely dried out, you would want to mist the brown coat with water, don't saturate, but get it a little wet so that the top coat will adhere properly.

Another reason could be putting it on too thick. This would also cause it to not stick.

If you're lacing, it's a two step process. You would first put on a sand coat with a sponge trowel. Get it as even as you can. Let that dry a few minutes then come back and put your lace on with a steel trowel to get those highs and lows.

Home Improvements,
I have a ceramic soapdish in the shower that is not flat. Whenever I put soap on it, it slides off onto the floor. I tried to take it off, but it won't come off. How is it possible to make it level? What can I do? Thank you,

Hi K.M.,
You could get a soap-on-a-rope? The soap dish will come off the wall. You'll probably have to chisel it off, so you will break it in the process and you may even damage some of the surrounding tiles of your shower, but it will come off there.

Once removed, clean up the remaining mortar from the wall and repair any damaged tiles as needed. Install your new soap dish with thinset mortar, level it and put it back on. That's all there is to it.

Hey Robert,
First time, long time. Our guest bathroom was added by the previous homeowners. It does not have a ceiling fan, that I would like to install, and it does not have a vent duct for the fan. Could you tell me the best way to install the fan, and is it possible to vent directly into the attic? Should I put in a duct? Thank you,
Craig F.

Hi Craig,
You can't vent to the attic. You would start growing mold once you blew in all of that humidity. It has to be vented to the outside. If the bathroom is on an outside wall, then vent out through the wall. If not, you'll have to go through the attic with exhaust pipe, out through the roof and vent it outside.

If going through an outside wall, open up some drywall, core a 3" or 4" exhaust hole in the side of the house, install a hood, flash it properly so you don't get interior leaks and exhaust it out the side.

If you're going through the roof, counter flash everything properly. If you're not experienced in flashing or cutting holes in your roof, I would call a roofing contractor and let them come out and do it for you.

For the fan install, it will probably pull three amps total. You want to make sure you're not overloading the circuit. If you don't know how to calculate that, you would need an electrician. He could easily tie the fan into a separate switch or to operate with the light, as you prefer.

Hi Robert,
What do you think about pool chlorinators? Thank you,
Mary T.

Hi Mary,
I like them. They're in line, very simple to install and inexpensive. A commercial rated chlorinator is about $100 and they work great. You just add new chlorine tablets as they wear out. Initially, you have to play with it to get the ph set in your pool. After that, you have to change it from winter to summer, based on the ambient temperatures. In the summer you bring it up a little bit; in the winter, you bring it down.

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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