Attention “Tim The Tool Man” Taylors—Read Carefully

I’d like to think I have a few talents. Writing, playing the theme song to “Titanic” on my light-up Casio keyboard, investing inordinate amounts of energy in reality TV couples—these are all things I’m good at. But do-it-yourself (DIY) projects don’t make that list.

Due to my total lack of handiwork skills, sixth-grade Industrial Arts class was a particularly harrowing time for me. I always felt too sick to watch the incredibly graphic safety video that showed what happens when you don’t wear protective eye goggles (spoiler alert—your eye becomes a bloody mess and you’re blind). Nevertheless, I nearly put several classmates’ eyesight in danger during my rotations at the bandsaw. Among other things, I learned that I am unable to make a yo-yo by hand—and consequently am unable to join the Amish community.

What can I say—I’m no Ty Pennington.

But for those of you who are—and the “Tim The Tool Man” Taylors who think you are—the August issue of units features several DIY solutions from Gene Austin.

1. Problem: The entry hall in my apartment has a ceramic-tile floor, and there is a step down to enter the rooms beyond the entrance. The problem is that the tiles and the carpet in the adjoining rooms are basically the same color, and many people entering don’t notice the step down.

Solution: Remove the last row or two of tiles at the edge of the step and replace them with the tiles that contrast with the other tiles and the carpet. Also make sure the entry is well lit.

Or, you could just “borrow” a few traffic cones from your local DMV and put some caution tape up on the walls. Depends on the look you’re going for.

2. Problem: The plaster walls and ceilings at my community have several small cracks, which I have patched. I don’t think regular paint will work well to remedy this.

Answer: Texture paint, a heavy-bodied paint with excellent covering ability, could give good results. Try painting just one wall to see how you like the results before proceeding. Sand-textured paint is sometimes available in course and regular versions. Both give a so-called stipple finish, with many tiny peaks on the surface.

My parents have popcorn-textured paint, which has led to several bloody knuckles when my 6’1” father smashes his hands on the low ceilings while putting on a sweater, but such paint does serve a purpose.

3. Problem: My concrete patio isn’t level and puddles form on it in the middle area when it rains.

Answer: If the patio is in good condition, you could have an overlay or topping poured to give it the proper slope and eliminate puddles, but this could be expensive. There are also special concrete-patching mixes that can be applied in very thin coats. Or you could simply use a broom to sweep the water out of the puddle, or get a wet-dry vacuum cleaner.

Fourth option: new community baby pool.

For more DIY tips, check out Maintenance Insider in the August issue of units, which mailed Aug. 8. The e-version is available here.

Send DIY questions and comments to Gene Austin at gaus17@aol.com.