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Handyman Letter -  July 15, 2002



1) Martha, dear Martha... a message from the Natural Handyman

2) Our appreciation to supporting sites and publications

3) Sweepstakes Central... win great home repair stuff!!

4) News from the Basement Annex!!

5) Q&A with our readers

6) LINKMEISTER's Corner...

7) "Pass the hammer, would ya?"... NH's readers speak out!



Martha Stewart... what are we going to do with you? Our own home-making diva... the goddess of home decor correctness. You are giving us ulcers!

You have accomplished what others of us in the do-it-yourself industry long for... acclaim and success in a field you love. And, for a mere pittance... by some accounts less than $20,000... have you cast aside your credibility? Are you indeed the caricature the media has made you out to be? Tell me it isn't so, Martha. Tell me it isn't so.

We still acknowledge your accomplishments and your zeal. You are a successful woman in a world which, after all these years of Title 19, anti-discrimination laws and political correctness, still judges women as much by their looks and mannerisms as by their attitude and aptitude. But, then again, the male equivalent of a "good-looking blond" is also more likely to succeed. Being drawn to attractive people is part of human nature... of human survival... and can't be easily erased through the passage of human law.

We still admire your strength and will to succeed in an arena where few ever even get a match to their candles... let alone set an entire country ablaze, as you have.

What REALLY happened? We'll probably never know the whole truth. Did your broker goof up, afraid of your wrath should you lose even a dollar? Or were you just not paying attention. No matter... the public will come up with their own reason for your miscalculation, depending on whether they love or hate you. If anything, Martha, you are controversial!

Sadly, even if you did nothing wrong you should have known that the appearance of a scandal will always make the front page, even if it is without merit. Ask any recent American president! The reporters whose favor you curried and the publications that gave you publicity beyond your wildest dreams have suddenly turned on you. Somewhere in your heart, you knew that they would. After all, the media are as self-serving as the rest of us and it's the story that drives them. They never cared about your success, only their bylines. Live by the media, die by the media.

Martha, perhaps the greatest lesson that you have taught us is that success and notoriety have a weighty price. Though many dream of a life of glamour and wealth, be careful what you wish for! How many people, even those who have sacrificed everything in its pursuit, achieve the monumental success of a Martha Stewart? Hardly any. In the real world, most of us find our success in family, in stability, in faith, in real life... and let their financial affairs be a facilitator to their success, not a goal in itself.

Sometimes, even for the rich and famous, the grass that seems greener on the other side of the table turns out to be a faux-painted straw centerpiece.




Dear NH,

I recently tiled above a cast iron tub. When I attempted to remove some of the construction adhesive from the porcelain, I chipped it. I need some sort of product that will seal the area between the tile and the tub and cover the chipped areas also. The area is too big for caulk and I already tried "rolled caulk" with no success (adhesion problem). I was thinking about wood trim treated and attached with construction adhesive. Can you recommend anything else that may work?

CH from Albuquerque, NM


Use of any wood product within a shower or tub enclosure is not a good idea. No sealant will prevent the eventual occurrence of mildew... unless you want your bathroom to smell like a shower at a kid's summer camp!

To bridge the gap in the most attractive way, I would suggest visiting your local tile store and shop for a ceramic inside corner molding that complements your tile. It will look better, be more cleanable and last as long as the rest of your tile. Bring a sample of the tile you used with you.

Installation should be a breeze. Remove all the old caulk between the tub and bottom row of tile and recaulk with fresh LATEX caulk. Use a putty knife to "flatten the caulk" (if necessary) so the caulk does not interfere with the installation of the tile corners. IF you have used silicone caulk (heaven forbid), it must be thoroughly removed or the tile adhesive might not stick properly!

Regarding your choice of mastic, I would recommend using a ceramic tile adhesive instead of construction adhesive for tile under most circumstances. Tile adhesive has a different consistency and different drying characteristics that make it better for use with tile. The only circumstance that I would recommend construction adhesive would be for tile repairs where a few large (over 6" wide) tiles are being replaced.

Because this a tile-over-tile installation, allow a few extra days for the adhesive to dry before grouting/caulking. Also, be sparing with the adhesive. Putting a fan or heater in the tub will help speed drying.


Dear NH,

I would like to paint some melamine doors and I am not sure if this is a good idea.
Will the paint adhere and more important will it last? I have test painted a scrap which appears ok at this stage, but I don't know if it is going to last or eventually fall off.

KB from Tea Gardens, NSW, Australia



Melamine is a thin plastic veneer over wood that can definitely be painted... and it will last though rough treatment may cause paint chipping, as would paint applied to any hard surface. I prefer alkyd paint myself, which is the best quality oil-based paint. I would not use latex paint because it does not sand well... important later if you want to repaint the melamine in the future.

If you clean the melamine thoroughly and sand it to slightly rough up the surface, you should have no problems with adhesion. Just prior to painting, give the melamine a final wipe with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol or liquid sandpaper to be sure no oils or detergent residue remain on the surface.

Because the melamine surface is nonporous and you are (hopefully) going to use a quality paint, I do not feel that priming is necessary.



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