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3 THINGS EDITOR’S LETTER
I learned this month Wall
Nuggets of knowledge picked up on the job Benjamin
GARY WENTZ Silver Fox
Gray is going away—kind of
At paint stores, while my paint is in the shaker, I’ve been asking the staff about color
trends. One thing is certain: Gray tones, which have been the most popular for years, still
lead—by far. But interior designers seem to be steering away from cool grays. So what’s
the next trend? No strong consensus on that, but the most common guess points to warm
neutral colors like beiges, tans and warmer grays.
TOP: BENJAMIN MOORE Light Drywall shortcut
Finishing inside corners with tape and
Dusk-to-dawn lighting mud is difficult and slow. So 20 years ago,
I decided this process was a waste of time
There are a few devices for automatically turning lights for closets. Instead, I went for a tight fit
on at dusk and off at dawn: fixtures with built-in light with the drywall (no more than a 1/8-in.
sensors, plug-in units, high-tech lighting and apps ... gap). Then I finished the other joints as
My favorite is a simple photocell switch. I recently usual and sanded and primed. Finally, I
installed one in a soffit to control all four of my front filled the inside corners with good-
porch lights. Unobtrusive and inexpensive. The unit I quality caulk. Recently, I cleaned
used (Woods 59408WD) cost me just $7 online. out a closet and noticed the cor-
ners were still perfect. Seems
like it might be a good
way to handle all
Is caulking drywall corners smart? Or
is there a downside? Shoot me a note
at [email protected].com
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 1
ƨƜƭƨƛƞƫ ƧƨƯƞƦƛƞƫ ƁſƁſ
Install a drop ceiling
to easily add luxuries
like a rainfall shower,
LED accent lights, and
Turn an unused stud
cavity into a multi-shelf
cabinet—with a mirror
to hide it all.
Tips for an Easy
We’ll show you how
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in half the time.
Drips, stains, ice dams
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Quick & Simple
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2 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
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9 Stuff We Love
An easy-retrofit rain shower,
space-saving yard tools, and
a firepit that doubles as a grill!
15 Handy Hints®
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vacuum, and keep your gear dry.
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61 Best Pro Tips
A flawless, long-lasting tile job
starts with these tools and tips.
68 Home Care
Carpet deodorizers that can
damage your vacuum; tips for
storing a boat or RV battery.
78 Reader Info
Here’s how to subscribe, renew,
send us a hint, and more!
80 Great Goofs®
The air conditioner that escaped,
the collision in the kitchen,
and the disappearing caulk.
9 68 PHOTO (BOTTOM LEFT): GROHE
4 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
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often high on the
list. But if you’re like
me, the thought of
bathroom and putting
it out of commission
keeps you from taking
the plunge. To avoid
that, I dreamed up
ways to get big
upgrades in less time
and with less mess!
4 FANCY FEATURES
I was able to add these features to the
bathroom inside the drop ceiling. This
would also be a great space for a heater
or even speakers.
LIGHTED BATH FAN
A slim-fit fan allowed me to main-
tain enough ceiling height and
use 2x6s for the ceiling frame.
This Aero Pure fan includes an
LED light ($145).
The epitome of luxury in a bathroom
is an overhead shower (see p. 10).
The plumbing is easy to run down
the wall; all you need is a hole big
enough for the pipe.
LED ACCENT LIGHTS
These 12-volt dimmable LED light
strips can be cut to any length and
are easy to wire together. Most
important, they’re rated for damp
areas like a shower. Made by various
manufacturers, a 16-ft. strip costs
about $37. The lights are powered
by a switch that has a built-in trans-
former to convert 120-volt power to
the 12 volts needed for the LED light
strips. Made by Kichler, the switch
costs about $150.
3-WAY SHOWER VALVE
This Grohe Grohtherm SmartControl
valve ($475) lets you use the
shower wand, tub spout and rain-
fall showerhead all at the same
time, individually or in any combi-
nation of the three.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 27
Figure A Materials List Why a
Drop Ceiling drop ceiling?
OVERALL DIMENSIONS: Drop ceilings are common in
12-1/2" T x 35-3/4" W x 60" L 2x6 x 8' 3 kitchens and basements,
2x4 x 8' 6 where they hide ductwork,
PVC skin 4' x 8' PVC sheets 2 plumbing or beams. Building
Drop ear elbow 1 one above the bathtub might
2x4 Cortex screws 1 box seem a little crazy, but it’s a
frame 1/2" PEX pipe 25' perfect way to add luxury
14/2 NM cable 25' features without tearing
Low-voltage cable 25' apart your bathroom. I built
this ceiling from PVC sheet
12-1/2" material, which is waterproof,
paintable and easy to work
PVC skin without special tools.
Fan opening PVC skin
1" hole for
Figure B After
Plumbing and Electrical Plan
6" from 2x4 fan PVC strip for 2x4 plumbing
ceiling support LED lights support
Vent fan 25"
12V cable Vent fan 3" gap
to LED strip exhaust
hole PEX pipe
14-2 NM cable from valve
to vent fan
28 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
bBUILD A BOX 2x6 ceiling
Build the ceiling frame by frame
screwing 2x6s together. To deter-
mine the length of this simple 2x4 supports
box, measure between the two allow cables
walls and subtract 1/4 in. to cross
bADD SUPPORTS 1
FOR THE FAN
Set the bath fan and showerhead
in the ceiling frame. I placed the
center of the showerhead 20 in.
from one side (one-third of the
total length) and then centered
the fan between the opposite side
and the showerhead. Screw the
2x4s and 2x6s into place from the
outside of the frame.
BOX WITH PVC
Cut a sheet of 1/2-in. PVC to fit the
top and sides of the frame. Fasten
this PVC skin to the frame with
composite screws, then plug the
holes to hide the screw heads.
Carefully position the PVC before
driving screws; removing a com-
posite screw leaves a hole that you
can’t screw back into.
bCUT A HOLE 2
IN THE TOP
Using a jigsaw, cut out a 6-in.-
diameter hole in line with the
fan’s exhaust port to run flexible
COMPOSITE SCREWS FOR PVC Cortex
Cortex screws have a reverse thread near the composite
head that pulls the material tightly to the screws
frame and prevents the material from coming
loose. The special bit drives the screw to the
correct depth, leaving a recess for the plugs.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 29
Plumber’s Strip LED strips
tape of PVC facing
Lead-free Drop ear
brass nipple elbow Drill 1/4"
5 12V wires
Route the 6
Install a drop ear elbow centered
in the frame 20 in. from the side.
This fitting holds the rainfall
showerhead in place. PEX pipe
will be attached to it later to
supply the water.
Screw a strip of PVC along the
side of the ceiling frame toward the
top. Stick on the damp-rated LED
strip so it faces down. Drill a 1/4-in.
hole above the strip and feed the
low-voltage cable inside the ceiling
frame for connections later.
With a helper, position the frame
within the shower walls with 6 in. of
space below the ceiling, to make
room for the fan’s duct, and 3 in.
from the back wall. Prop the frame
7 into position with a few 2x4s, then
wedge it into place with shims.
Locate studs and drill through the
frame. If you can’t find studs
through the tile, track them down
on the back side of the wall and
transfer the measurement to the
front. Then use a tile bit to drill holes
through the tile so the
frame can be
large screws into
the studs. You’ll
need to drill holes
through the tile
for the plumbing Tile and
8 and electrical
30 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
bCUT THE TILE TO 9 Grohe Trace
FIT THE NEW VALVE 10 Rapido the
To make room for the Grohe box
rough-in box, we cut a hole 5-3/4 Blocking
in. in diameter. The best tool for for tub
this is a diamond hole saw, but one spout
that big costs close to $100. I
opted to use an angle grinder with
a diamond blade. This cut can be
tricky; take your time.
I cut an access hole in the wall
behind the shower and installed
the three-way shower valve. Then I
used PEX pipe to supply the new
rainfall showerhead and to connect
to the old copper pipe. Secure the
valve with 2x4 blocking.
I fastened a frame to the drywall
that I’d cut out earlier and attached
the frame to the wall with trim
screws. To make the frame easy to
remove, I didn’t plug the screw holes.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 31
Route cables PEX pipe installed and
down the wall routed down the wall
Opening 1" hole for
for vent fan showerhead
Fasten Attach duct and bCAP THE
to studs install wiring FRAME
HOVER YOUR 3" 13 Cut a hole in the final PVC sheet
CAMERA HERE gap for the fan and drill a 1-in. hole for
To watch us Keep the showerhead plumbing. Route
upgrade this bottoms electrical cables into the wall,
shower, scan this flush then cap the frame with the PVC.
code with your
smartphone. 14 bINSTALL THE
Make the electrical connections to
the fan and attach the flexible
exhaust duct to the fan. Slide the
fan into the opening, screw it to
the blocking and install the grille.
bCOVER IT ALL
WITH A PANEL
Build a panel to be fastened 3 in.
from the front of the drop ceiling.
Use PVC to wrap the back and
bottom, then screw the panel to
the walls between the shower.
After covering the front with the
final sheet of PVC, caulk the cor-
ners and paint it to match the rest
of your wall. No one will ever
know your trick to an easy bath-
32 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
Important Facts about IMBRUVICA® (im-BRU-vih-kuh)
tablets and capsules
The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk about • Decrease in blood cell counts. Decreased blood counts (white blood cells, platelets,
IMBRUVICA® with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. For more information, call and red blood cells) are common with IMBRUVICA®, but can also be severe. Your
1-877-877-3536 or go to www.imbruvica.com. healthcare provider should do monthly blood tests to check your blood counts.
What is IMBRUVICA®? • Heart rhythm problems (ventricular arrhythmias, atrial ﬁbrillation and atrial
ﬂutter). Serious heart rhythm problems and death have happened in people treated
IMBRUVICA® is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with: with IMBRUVICA®, especially in people who have an increased risk for heart disease,
• Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) who have received at least one prior treatment have an infection, or who have had heart rhythm problems in the past. Tell your
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/Small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) healthcare provider if you get any symptoms of heart rhythm problems, such as
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/Small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) with 17p feeling as if your heart is beating fast and irregular, lightheadedness, dizziness,
shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or you faint. If you develop any of these
deletion symptoms, your healthcare provider may do a test to check your heart (ECG) and may
• Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM) change your IMBRUVICA® dose.
• Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) who require a medicine by mouth or injection
• High blood pressure (hypertension). New or worsening high blood pressure has
(systemic therapy) and have received a certain type of prior treatment happened in people treated with IMBRUVICA®. Your healthcare provider may start you
• Chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD) after failure of 1 or more lines of on blood pressure medicine or change current medicines to treat your blood pressure.
systemic therapy • Second primary cancers. New cancers have happened during treatment with
It is not known if IMBRUVICA® is safe and effective in children. IMBRUVICA®, including cancers of the skin or other organs.
What should I tell my doctor before taking IMBRUVICA®? • Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells.
TLS can cause kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatment, abnormal heart
Before taking IMBRUVICA®, tell your healthcare provider about all of your rhythm, seizure, and sometimes death. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to
medical conditions, including if you: check you for TLS.
• have had recent surgery or plan to have surgery. Your healthcare provider may stop
The most common side effects of IMBRUVICA® in adults with B-cell malignancies
IMBRUVICA® for any planned medical, surgical, or dental procedure.
• have bleeding problems (MCL, CLL/SLL, WM and MZL) include:
• have or had heart rhythm problems, smoke, or have a medical condition that
0 diarrhea 0 rash
increases your risk of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, 0 tiredness 0 bruising
or diabetes 0 muscle and bone pain
• have an infection
• have liver problems The most common side effects of IMBRUVICA® in adults with cGVHD include:
• are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. IMBRUVICA® can harm your unborn
baby. If you are able to become pregnant, your healthcare provider will do a 0 tiredness 0 mouth sores (stomatitis) 0 pneumonia
pregnancy test before starting treatment with IMBRUVICA®. Tell your healthcare 0 bruising 0 muscle spasms
provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant during treatment with 0 diarrhea 0 nausea
0 Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control Diarrhea is a common side effect in people who take IMBRUVICA®. Drink plenty
of ﬂuids during treatment with IMBRUVICA® to help reduce your risk of losing too
(contraception) during treatment with IMBRUVICA® and for 1 month after the last dose. much ﬂuid (dehydration) due to diarrhea. Tell your healthcare provider if you have
0 Males with female partners who are able to become pregnant should use diarrhea that does not go away.
effective birth control, such as condoms, during treatment with IMBRUVICA® and These are not all the possible side effects of IMBRUVICA®.
for 1 month after the last dose.
• are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed during treatment with Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA
IMBRUVICA® and for 1 week after the last dose. at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including
prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Taking What are the ingredients in IMBRUVICA®?
IMBRUVICA® with certain other medicines may affect how IMBRUVICA® works and can
Active ingredient: ibrutinib
cause side effects. Inactive ingredients:
IMBRUVICA® capsules: croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline
What should I avoid while taking IMBRUVICA®? cellulose, and sodium lauryl sulfate. The 70 mg capsule shell contains gelatin, titanium
dioxide, yellow iron oxide, and black ink. The 140 mg capsule shell contains gelatin,
Do not drink grapefruit juice, eat grapefruit, or eat Seville oranges (often used in titanium dioxide, and black ink.
marmalades) during treatment with IMBRUVICA®. These products may increase the IMBRUVICA® tablets: colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, lactose
amount of IMBRUVICA® in your blood. monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and sodium
lauryl sulfate. The ﬁlm coating for each tablet contains ferrosoferric oxide (140 mg,
What are the possible side effects of IMBRUVICA®? 280 mg, and 420 mg tablets), polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, red iron oxide
(280 mg and 560 mg tablets), talc, titanium dioxide, and yellow iron oxide (140 mg,
IMBRUVICA® may cause serious side effects, including: 420 mg, and 560 mg tablets).
• Bleeding problems (hemorrhage) are common during treatment with
Distributed and Marketed by: Pharmacyclics LLC, Sunnyvale, CA USA 94085
IMBRUVICA®, and can also be serious and may lead to death. Your risk of bleeding Marketed by: Janssen Biotech, Inc., Horsham, PA USA 19044
may increase if you are also taking a blood thinner medicine. Tell your healthcare
provider if you have any signs of bleeding, including: For more information, go to www.imbruvica.com or call 1-877-877-3536.
0 blood in your stools or black stools 0 increased bruising Call the 1-877-877-3536
0 dizziness Monday - Friday,
(looks like tar) 0 weakness to learn more about support
0 pink or brown urine 0 confusion services for IMBRUVICA® 8AM - 8PM ET
0 unexpected bleeding, or bleeding that is 0 change in your speech Saturday, 8AM - 5PM ET
0 headache that lasts a long
severe or that you cannot control www.youandisupport.com
0 vomit blood or vomit looks like coffee time or severe headache
0 cough up blood or blood clots
• Infections can happen during treatment with IMBRUVICA®. These infections can © Pharmacyclics LLC 2020 © Janssen Biotech, Inc. 2020 05/20 PRC-06564
be serious and may lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you
have fever, chills, weakness, confusion, or other signs or symptoms of an infection
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BY BRAD HOLDEN
Got plans to hang a mirror or a large WHAT IT TAKES
painting? Consider using the stud
cavity behind it for handy, secret stor- TIME COST SKILL LEVEL
age. I installed this mirror cabinet in the
bathroom—like a giant medicine cabinet. 2 days $250 Intermediate
The mirror glides on ball-bearing drawer
slides to open and close the cabinet. When TOOLS
the mirror is in place, nobody knows the
cabinet is even there! Table saw, dado set, router,
rabbeting bit, miter saw, drill/
36 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM driver, finish nailer
Getting HOVER YOUR
started CAMERA HERE
Scan this code to
Including the frame, my mirror watch the build
was 21-1/4 in. wide, so I and see the
needed about 23 in. of open mirror in action.
wall space to the left of the
mirror for it to slide left. You
can mount the drawer slides to
go either direction.
I bought a frameless beveled
mirror for $125. I could have
purchased a framed mirror to
save some work, but I decided
to build my own frame. The
mirror is heavy, so I wanted the
frame to be solid lumber for
strength. I also needed it to be
thick enough for 3/4-in. screws
to attach the drawer slides.
I chose 1x4 poplar boards.
Poplar is easy to find, inexpen-
sive and lightweight. It also has
good screw-holding capability
and takes paint well. For the
cabinet, I used precut melamine
shelving from the home center.
Its front edge is already banded,
so if you plan your cuts, you won’t
need to edge-band your shelves.
1bPEEK INSIDE Slot
Check for obstructions in the wall
cavity. Cut a slot big enough for
your phone, and take one photo up
and one down. If there are pipes or
electrical cables in your way, you
can choose a different stud cavity,
size the cabinet so it doesn’t inter-
fere, or reroute the pipes or wires.
If you pick a different location, you
can easily patch the small slot.
bCUT THE OPENING
Starting from the slot, cut a
hole large enough to reveal the
exact stud locations. Draw the
opening using a level and a fram-
ing square, and then cut on the line.
MEET THE BUILDER 2
Brad Holden, a senior
editor, has been
building cabinets and
furniture for more
than 30 years.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 37
Figure A Stud-Space Storage B 2" panhead
OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 65-1/4" H x 21-1/4" W x 5-1/4" D
1" finish nail
3/4" finish Figure D
panhead nail Cutting
Figure B Figure C D
Half-Lap Joint Rabbet
38 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM 3/16"
bBUILD THE 3
Cut a strip for the shelves (D) from Drill bit
the front edge of the melamine.
Next, cut the sides (A), top and Depth stop
bottom (B) from the remaining
piece (see Figure D). Assemble the Drilling jig
parts using 1-1/2-in. wood screws.
Cut the back (C) and paint it white.
You may need to resize the cabinet
slightly to fit your stud cavity.
bDRILL FOR SHELF
Make a jig to drill the holes by drill-
ing evenly spaced holes in a length
of hardwood. Hold the jig in place
on the cabinet side and drill the
first hole. Slip a drill bit of the same
size into the hole you just drilled to
keep the jig in place. When you get
to the end of the jig, slip the drill bit
into the last hole and continue. Use
a depth stop on the bit to ensure
you won’t drill through the side. Nail
on the back with 1-in. finish nails.
bADD THE TRIM
Glue and nail on the trim (E
and F) to cover the edges of the
cabinet as well as any gap between
the cabinet and the wall opening.
Choose trim that’s 3/8 in. thick or
less. Because standard drawer
slides are 1/2 in. thick and the wall
may not be dead flat, thicker trim
could keep the mirror from sliding.
Materials List QTY. 5
16" x 60" mirror 1
3/4" x 12" x 96" melamine shelf 15'
1/4" x 48" x 96" plywood 2
1/4" x 1-1/2" mullion 2
1x4 x 8' poplar boards
18" full-extension drawer slides 28
(screws included) 8
No. 6 x 2" panhead screws 8
No. 8 x 1-1/2" wood screws
ƓQLVK QDLOV 1 qt.
3/4" panhead screws
Glass safety film
KEY QTY. DIMENSIONS PART
A2 3/4" x 3-3/4" x 59" Cabinet sides
B2 3/4" x 3-3/4" x 13" Cabinet top and bottom
C1 1/4" x 14-1/2" x 59" Cabinet back
D7 3/4" x 3-3/4" x 12-7/8" Shelves
E2 1/4" x 1-1/4" x 13" Trim rails
F2 1/4" x 1-1/4" x 60" Trim stiles
G2 3/4" x 3" x 21-1/4" Frame rails
H2 3/4" x 3" x 65-1/4" Frame stiles
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 39
Stop block Long
Half-lap bCUT HALF-LAP
Mirror Cut the frame parts (G and H) to
recess length, then make half-lap joints at
their ends. I cut half-laps using a
40 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM dado set on my table saw. I attach a
long fence to the miter gauge, and
then add a stop block to set the
joint’s shoulder. Start with two
scrap pieces, making passes in
both until you get the right depth.
Add a very slight chamfer to the
shoulders of the joints on the side
pieces, and on the entire inner edge
8 of the top and bottom. This creates
a shallow “V” where the joints come
together. The groove is optional
but adds some visual interest. I like
9 to use a block plane for this, but a
sanding block works fine.
Glue the half-lap joints, and then
clamp them until the glue dries.
Set the frame on blocks or saw-
horses to provide room for the
clamp heads. Because of their
ample gluing surface, these half-
lap joints are super strong.
Rout a 7/16-in.-wide recess the
depth of your mirror’s thickness,
using a rabbeting bit in your router.
To avoid router tear-out, make the
cut in two or three passes. Sand the
mirror frame up to 150 grit and
then apply paint.
bATTACH 10 Wide
THE SLIDES 11 track
Separate the two components of
the drawer slides. Fasten the wide
tracks to the frame. If you mount
the narrow tracks to the frame, the
slides’ release levers won’t be
accessible. Placement of the slides
isn’t critical; just center them side
to side and be sure they’re above
and below the cabinet’s trim.
The drawer slides don’t carry weight
the usual way, so they must be
firmly attached to the wall. Instead
of relying on drywall anchors, I
installed blocking. Using the drawer
slide placement on the frame to
determine where the slides would
attach to the wall, I cut 2x4s to fit
between the studs and screwed them
into place. Mark centerlines on the
wall for the drawer slide locations.
Set the cabinet in the opening,
plumb and level. Fasten it into
place with 3-in. wood screws
through the sides, into the studs.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 41
Top narrow track
Safety 14 13bHANG THE
film 15 FRAME
42 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM Fasten the top narrow track on its
centerline above the cabinet, cen-
tered side to side. Slip the other
narrow track into its wide track at
the bottom of the frame, making
sure the narrow track is fully
extended. Slide the frame onto the
top narrow track. Plumb the frame,
and then fasten the bottom narrow
track to the wall.
This mirror will be in motion regu-
larly, so I applied transparent
window safety film ($15 for an
18-in. x 8-ft. roll online) on the back.
In case of breakage, the glass shards
won’t crash to the floor. Just peel
the backing and press the film onto
the back of the mirror. Since this
isn’t a window, I wasn’t picky about
removing every last air bubble.
It’s easier to hang the frame by
itself, without the added weight, so
I installed the mirror last. Apply a
bead of silicone in the rabbet, and
then carefully place the mirror in
the silicone. Let the silicone set for
a day and then trim off any excess
with a razor blade before hanging
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TIPS FOR AN EASY
How to get a
with less stress
BY BILL BERGMANN
The instructions in the
box with a new faucet
tell you everything you
need to know for a normal
installation. Trouble is, there’s
no such thing as a normal
installation. Every job has its
To get the solutions to the
most common problems, I sat
down with a pro plumber who
faces these faucet situations
every day. Use these expert
tips to make your faucet
replacement an easy half-day
job instead of an all-day ordeal.
MEET THE EXPERT
Joe Barnes is a second-
plumber with three
decades of experience.
Scan this code
to learn more
44 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
LOW-FLOW Measure before you shop
Before you choose a new faucet, check the configuration and spacing on
If your faucet has weak pressure or your sink. If you have a three-hole configuration, measure from the
flow, a new faucet probably isn’t the center of each handle to determine your spacing. Standard spacing is
solution. Here’s how Joe tracks typically 4 or 8 in. If you want a single-hole faucet but your sink includes
down the source of the trouble: three holes, no problem. Many faucets include a cover plate to conceal
Q If both the hot and the cold are the other two holes.
weak, the aerator is probably
clogged. Simply remove it and Basin
clean it to solve the problem. wrench
Q If either the hot or the cold (but
not both) is weak, then faulty supply
lines, shutoffs or supply pipes are
the problem. Supply hoses or shut-
off valves are easy enough to
replace. Fixing faulty or antiquated
plumbing is a larger job, but it can
benefit other fixtures in the home
that have low water pressure.
Get everything Get a basin wrench
A basin wrench ($15) gets at impossible-to-reach
When you go to pick up your new nuts below the faucet. Joe uses a basic version of
faucet, bring a list of every possi- this tool, but many plumbers like Ridgid’s EZ
ble install item you could need. Change Faucet Tool ($22). It will reach those diffi-
Joe says if he’s headed to a job he cult nuts and handle just about any other fitting
hasn’t seen, he’ll be sure to have you might encounter during a faucet install.
every potential part on board
beforehand. One trip to return a FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 45
few things is far easier than multi-
ple runs for the stuff you thought
you wouldn’t need.
Waste arm LOOK FOR
Many manufacturers have easy-
install faucets; it’s worthwhile
finding one. Joe likes Delta’s
EZ Anchor mounting system
because it doesn’t require
reaching under the sink for
mounting. American Standard
faucets with the Speed
Connect feature are also easy
to install. Its drain stop mecha-
nism has only four parts, com-
pared with as many as 14 for a
standard assembly. These and
other new designs make for a
Replace your P-trap
Make space under the sink by taking out the P-trap. Reusing an old P-trap
can be a messy ordeal, so Joe usually includes a new trap assembly on his
installs. The cost of a plastic P-trap kit is less than $5, and you’ll get peace
of mind knowing all those fittings are new and clean. Keep in
mind that most bath sink drains are 1-1/4 in., and
kitchen sink drains 1-1/2 in. Joe sees a new
P-trap as cheap insurance against callbacks.
Old supply line
Replace New Cut stubborn
your supply lines supply connections
Never reuse old supply lines. The last thing If you find rusted mounting nuts
you want is water damage from a failed supply line.
Even if the hoses are newer looking, Joe will replace or other petrified connections that
them because the rubber washers can fail over time. Quality
supply lines with a braided stainless steel casing may cost won’t budge, go ahead and cut
a bit more (about $8 each), but they’re well worth it.
them. An oscillating tool or rotary
46 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
tool with a metal-cutting blade
works well for this.
Install the faucet first
If you’re installing a new sink, mount the faucet to the sink
before dropping the sink into place. Having everything in
plain view always makes for better connections—and the less
time you spend on your back under that sink, the better.
TEST THE SHUTOFFS
Almost every faucet is connected to shutoff valves beneath the
sink. But those old valves often don’t work, and it’s best to
know that before you begin. If your shutoffs don’t stop the
water flow, you can repair them or replace them. Or you could
turn off the water to the whole house at the main shutoff valve
while you replace the faucet. For help with those jobs, search
for “shutoff” at familyhandyman.com.
Use plumber’s putty Clean off your sink deck
Some manufacturers suggest using sili- To ensure a good seal between the sink and
cone caulk to seal a faucet or drain, but the new faucet, be sure to clean up the foot-
beware: It can be difficult to apply and
can stain natural stone. Joe prefers print of the old faucet. Scouring powder
plumber’s putty. It’s easier to work with, works well for soap scum and crud. For
and the non-staining variety won’t leave tougher lime or rust deposits, a
blemishes. He also says it’s far easier to pumice stone is the best remedy.
repair a faucet assembly that was
installed with putty. Silicone is as much Pumice
an adhesive as it is a sealant and can stone
make pulling things apart a pain.
FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 47
Get leakproof connections Don’t skimp on
the Teflon tape
Each connection requires a different amount of torque to tighten. Over-
tightening the slip nuts on a plastic waste line can strip the threads and A 40-ft. roll of Teflon tape costs
make for a leaky connection. Always hand-tighten these connections. For about a buck, so don’t be stingy
flexible supply lines, the standard recommendation is to get them finger with it. Make sure you wrap all your
tight, then give them a quarter turn with a wrench. But Joe gives them a threaded connections clockwise
half turn and has never had an issue. several times. When you thread on
that nut, it should feel tight, and
the clockwise wrap will keep the
tape from unraveling as you
tighten the connection. Joe also
wraps the threads for supply hoses
even though they have a self-
sealing rubber washer. Teflon
tape is just more cheap insurance
against any leaks, so don’t skimp.
Remove the aerator The final step:
and flush out sediment Check for leaks
Plumbing work knocks sediment loose inside pipes. Be sure that sediment Once everything is connected and
doesn’t clog your aerator or valves. Joe always removes the aerator and
then lets both the hot and the cold run for a minute to flush the lines your water is back on, do a thor-
before reinstalling the aerator.
ough leak check. Wipe it all down
48 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020 FAMILYHANDYMAN.COM
with a dry rag, and then blot your
connections with toilet paper to
see if there is any evidence of a