Occasionally we receive questions that don’t require detailed answers. We’ve decided to answer several of these short-answer questions in one column.
Q: I have lath and plaster walls. I want to hang pictures, but I’m worried that the plaster will crack. What is the best method for hanging pictures on plaster walls?
A: Drill a small hole through the plaster, called a pilot hole, and then attach a picture hook nail or other sturdy fastener using the hole.
Small cordless drills, available at your home center, are inexpensive and are perfect for drilling pilot holes. Make sure the hole you drill is just a bit smaller than the fastening nail. If you don’t have a drill bit that is smaller than the nail, you can use the nail itself as a drill bit. Use steady, gentle pressure.
Q: Could you explain what is meant by floating floor?
A: Rather than being nailed or glued to a concrete or plywood subfloor, these floors float atop the subfloor.
Floating floors move with changes in humidity in the room where they are installed. Because of this, a small gap is left around the edges, and cabinets or fixtures should not be attached through the finished floor to the subfloor. If properly installed and maintained, such floors will not buckle, crack or squeak.
Often these floors are prefinished and laminated. Floating floor pieces are installed over a vapor retardant supplied by the manufacturer and are either glued or snapped together. The vapor retardant is often a foamlike material that, as a bonus, cushions the floor.
If you want to investigate floating floors further, contact a flooring contractor or go to your local home center.
Q: When double-pane vinyl windows are installed, should there be any condensation whatsoever on the outer windows? If there is, does that mean they are improperly installed and hot air is leaking out of the house? Or does it matter?
A: Condensation forms when there is a difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the glass. Some heat transfer is to be expected between the heated indoors, through the airspace between the two panes, to the colder outdoors. Double-paned windows will restrict that heat transfer, not stop it completely.
Condensation on the outside pane of glass is not abnormal, especially if the window is in a relatively humid area that gets little sun.
Based on what you’ve told us, no need to worry. Your installation is fine so long as there is no condensation between the panes or on the inside of the window.
Bill and Kevin Burnett will attempt to answer your questions, although the volume of e-mail sometimes makes this impossible. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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