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Who needs a staircase when you can have a fireman's pole?

Your Home Improvements

Posted: July 12, 2008 1:41 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Hello Robert,
I have a game room that sits directly above my living room, and I'd like to put in a fireman's pole. The second floor, the floor of the game room, is concrete. How should I start a project like this and do you know where to buy a fireman's pole? Thank you.
Bob A.

I've seen fireman's poles in both wood and metal. I would go with the metal. It's just tube that you can buy from any metal supply house. There are several of them around Los Angeles. You could go with brass if you wanted to. Depending on your budget, brass is expensive but polishes well.

For questions like these, I always put safety first. Unless you are experienced, you may want to consider calling in a general contractor. This job will require you to saw through a floor and reinforce both the floor and the ceiling, which might be outside the means of the average homeowner.

I would also install a circular guardrail with a locking gate around the opening once you get it cut in. You don't want anyone accidentally falling through.

The concrete floor in your game room is probably 2 inch featherweight that sits on top of your plywood subfloor. You would first mark out the area for the install and chip it out to expose the subfloor. Cut and remove the subfloor to allow for framing and reinforcing between the joists in your rough opening.

Although you want a round opening, you cut it out in a square to box or furr it in. Then you'd come back with plywood, cut with the round opening, for the subfloor of the finished opening. You would do the same in the ceiling of your game room. Open up the drywall and box or frame in where the pole is to be lagged in for a secure installation.

On the floor of your living room, if you have a concrete slab, red head or expansion bolt it in. I'd put down a rubber mat for a softer landing.

Good morning Robert,
We just bought a new refrigerator for our home, and I seem to have made a mistake on the measurement. The new fridge is about 1 inch too wide to fit in the space between a wall and a granite counter. Is it possible to trim the granite? Thank you.
Dana E.

If you have at least a 1-inch overhang on the countertop, absolutely. Most countertops extend out past the cabinetry to give them a more finished look.

You need a grinder and a diamond blade. The grinder will allow you to cut all the way to the back of the counter. Before proceeding with any job of this nature, make sure to wear gloves and goggles. I would also recommend ear protection to be on the safe side.

I would get a helper for this job - one to cut and one to keep the area wet.

Make sure that the grinder you're using has a guard. Some grinders also have a guide. This will allow you to run the guide along the edge of the counter to make the cutting easier. Regardless, it will require a steady hand to hold the grinder above the granite while you make the cut. It helps to rest one hand on the surface to add some stability.

Have your helper hold a spray bottle and keep the surface wet in front of the blade as you cut. You don't want it too wet or that may cause a shock - just enough to keep it wet and keep the blade cool. Be sure to plug into a GFI circuit which should be in your kitchen anyway.

The procedure is to cut very slowly, nice and easy. Don't rush. Like we always say, do it once, do it right.

Dear Mr. Lamoureux,
I know this photo is not very clear, but can you get an idea of how they painted this? It's from a shop we went into and the employee had no idea. Thank you.
Paul B.

Yes, it's a faux finish and it appears as if four different colors were used. It's a technique in which rags are used in addition to traditional brushes and rollers. You can create a lot of depth with this application.

What they used was a common color scheme. They started with a tan base which was applied with a roller brush. Once dry, they came back and applied more paint with rags instead of brushes. They added yellow, green and then accented with brown. Another nice look is tan, yellow, brown and specs of black, dabbed on with a brush at the end.

Typically, you would just get an old T-shirt and cut it into 1 foot by 1 foot squares and use a different square for each color. Roll up the rag and dip it into your first rag coat color. In this case it was yellow. Wearing plastic gloves and holding the wet rag with both hands, put it on the wall and roll it upwards one or two times. I would proceed slowly, apply lightly and not overdo the painting. The effect is to have the tan show, up through your additional coats of paint.

It takes a little practice, and no doubt you will develop your own technique to suit your tastes, but to start you could follow a simple rule of thumb. Paint the entire wall with the base coat using a roller brush. Apply the first rag coat at about 50 percent coverage. The second rag coat would be at about 10 percent coverage and the third or final accent would be at 1 percent.

Most of the work with painting is the prep - the preparation of putting down plastic and making sure that everything near your work area that you do not want painted is covered. A lot of homeowners are painting the thermostats and outlet covers as well so everything blends into the wall.

After you're happy with the first rag application, come back with a green, brown, or whatever you like, and very lightly repeat the process. For the final color, they used brown which was applied with a small brush and lightly dabbed, very sparingly.

One good thing about painting, if you don't like it, repaint with your base coat and start over.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years' 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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