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Thirty Five rental properties have forced me to learn how to be a jack of all trades. While I consider my self to be an expert drywall contractor with over thirty years experience, I will share some tricks I have learned from many of the other trades that I use in keeping my real estate in good working condition.

Let's start with drywall. Since the majority of your home that is visible to the outside world is made up of drywall or plaster, let's talk about maintenance and repair.

Installation of new sheet rock in a new home of addition is very important. Here are several tips.

1. Professional installation is recommended rather than home owner do-it-yourself.

2. Homeowners rarely have all the right tools to do a proper job.

3. Tools required: Drywall hammer (This special hammer leaves a proper "dimple" around the nail. A regular hammer tends to break the paper and cause nail pops later on down the road. Drywall T-square to cut the board straight. Drywall screw gun, used to set the screws properly into the sheet rock or plaster board. Drywall glue gun. One quart capacity. I recommend OSI adhesive, available at most Lowe's and Home Depot stores. Using glue eliminates nail pops. Drywall saws and board lifts make the job easier and eliminates damage to board while you are installing it.

Proper finishing tools. Drywall mud pan, 6 inch taping knife, Ten inch and Twelve Inch finishing knives. Sometimes these are called broad knives. And of course sandpaper to fine tune the finishing. I use 100 grit, available at Lowe's and Home Depot.

I do recommend and use US Gypsum materials.

4. Hang the ceiling boards first, and then the side walls. Secure the ceiling with three drywall 1 1/4 screws in the field, after nailing the perimeter of the board.

5. Finishing requires three coats. First coat is taping with drywall paper tape. Second coat after first coat dries. Usually one day. Third Coat after another day. Then Sanding and touching up any blemishes.

Drywall corner bead usually requires two or three coats.

6. Painting. I do not recommend spraying new sheet rock, since the paints soaks in at different levels on the finished portion of the drywall versus the bare spots on the board where no drywall mud is found. Spraying tends to have joints showing after painting.

7. I recommend and use USG First Coat for the primer, and usually use Duron Paint. I have found that it is able to be touched up sometimes a couple of years later without showing very much change.

8. It is a saying, that a good drywall job can be spoiled by a bad painter, and a bad drywall job can be enhanced by a good painter. I recommend latex flat paint on new sheet rock. Semi-gloss tends to make all the joints and nail spots show up more.

9. Quick patches and repairs can be done with a product called Durabond or Easy Sand. It is available in powder form at Lowe's and Home Depot. You can get mud that dries in 90 minutes on down to five minutes. It is very valuable for quick repairs. Be sure and clean your mud pan and tools before it hardens, or it will ruin your tools.

10. Textured ceilings add to the beauty of the home, and should only be done by a professional. This eliminates joints showing and nail pops. Most texture jobs last for the life of the home and do not need painting. I usually texture with the "stipple" or "roll and stomp" method. Be glad to tell you how to do this. Just email me for directions.

11. Patching holes in plaster or sheet rock is fairly simple. Again a quick email will allow me to help you with this. Most of the time, I enlarge the hole to the next wood framing member. Then I cut out the hole with half the framing member showing, and just cut the plasterboard to fit in the hole. Of course if you do not want to make the hole larger, you can just take a piece of wood, and cut it about three inches longer than the hole, and slip it behind the hole on either side and secure it with drywall screws. Then just cut your piece to fit, and screw it in the new wood you just installed. Larger holes might require two pieces of wood.

12. Here is how to find a stud. Your home framing is probably on 16 inch centers for framing members. Look at a light receptacle, and take off the cover plate. You can usually see the stud on one side or the other with the plate off. Then measure 16 inches to where you want to hang your picture or whatever. Tap the wall with a hammer first, and you can feel if it is solid or hollow. This usually works. But to be safe go right above the baseboard with a small finishing nail at least 1 inch, and put it in the sheet rock or plaster and then if you hit the stud, you will know. If not it is a small hole to patch. If you are over a fireplace or a door, just tap the wall with a hammer and you can feel the difference whether it is solid or hollow behind the sheet rock or plaster.

Painting Tips:

Do not use cheap paint. I recommend Duron Paint. You do not have to buy the most expensive paint from them, but I would ask for contractor grade builder paint.

Use semi-gloss on the trim and not on the walls. Old time thinking put semi gloss in kitchens and baths, but there is plenty of scrubbable latex paints that look much better.

Using semi gloss on drywall or plaster will show up all blemishes and places where joint compound has been placed on the walls.

Repair all nail holes and blemishes in the board before painting.

If you do a repair on a wall that you are using semi-gloss on, then paint it with Kilz (a stain blocker) before you paint the final semi gloss coat. This will make the wall more uniform and it will blend together more.

Use sufficient drop cloths and masking tape to keep the paint drips off your floors and other furniture. Be sure and use a sturdy ladder, and throw away all those rickety ladders.

Label your paint cans with what rooms you painted with that paint. Clean all the paint out of the lip of the can with a sponge or rag before closing.

Clean your paint rollers with an attachment you can get from Lowes, that hooks right on the faucet, or take them by your favorite car wash. Clean brushes with a wire brush. You can use them for many years if you get all the paint removed after you use them.

Clean out your paint pan also, and you can reuse it many times. Sometimes I use a liner and just throw it away.

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