Archive for June, 2010

Planning a kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen may include anything from repainting the walls to redesigning the entire structure of the house. Space limitations prohibit covering every issue you might have to deal with, but this document will cover the basic principles of design, as well as the general considerations involved in planning a new kitchen.

The process of planning a kitchen is basically one of determining how you use your kitchen (the answer involves more than just “cooking”) and what features you’d like, then deciding on your priorities so you can fit as many features as possible into your budget. Virtually anything can be done to a kitchen-walls can be moved, plumbing can be changed and electrical service can be added. But the less you spend on major structural or mechanical work, the more money you’ll have to put into better cabinets, higher-grade flooring and more stylish and functional fixtures.

The following list of questions will lead you through some of the issues you’ll have to resolve before you’re ready to design your new kitchen. There are no right or wrong answers-only your preferences. Carefully consider each question; make notes as you go, and don’t be shy about changing your mind. A kitchen is the most complex and the most used workshop in the house, and it’s important that your remodeled kitchen matches your needs and lifestyle as closely as possible.


  • How many people are in your household who use the kitchen? The answer to this question will determine how much use your kitchen gets, and how much traffic there is likely to be in the kitchen at any one time.
  • Do two or more cooks typically work at the same time? If so, you may want extra counter space and/or an extra sink.
  • Do you entertain frequently-and do you typically have formal or informal gatherings? If you entertain a lot, you may want to open up the kitchen/living room area into a great room that lets you be part of the party while you’re working.
  • What other activities commonly occur in the kitchen? Some houses have a laundry closet in the kitchen. Some people want a wet bar, a breakfast bar or even a desk for writing or computer work.
  • Do you have any special needs? Is a user exceptionally short or tall and uncomfortable working at standard-height counters for long periods of time? Do you have a disabled or elderly household member who may have special needs?

This, obviously, is not a complete list of the general considerations in kitchen planning-the list is nearly infinite. But before you begin designing, think about who uses the kitchen and how they use it.


For example:

  • Do you need an island (and have room for it), a peninsula or a breakfast nook?
  • Would you fill a pantry?
  • Would you rather have a stainless steel sink or enameled cast iron?
  • Do you use a microwave for major cooking or just to heat up cups of tea?
  • Do you prefer cooking with gas or electricity?
  • Do you want a combination oven-and-range or a cooktop with a wall oven?
  • Do you use enough small appliances that you could use an appliance garage to store them?

The fewer structural and mechanical changes you make, the less you’ll spend. But that doesn’t mean that all those changes cost a lot of money. You’ll need the advice of licensed professionals to make final decisions, but you can at least get a rough idea of how much extra major changes would cost by answering the following questions:

  • Is the wall you want to move a load-bearing wall? Load-bearing walls support the structure of the house, and moving them is a complex job for a professional. Typically, an interior load-bearing wall runs the length of the house, at about the center of the structure.
  • What rooms are directly above and below the kitchen? If the rooms above and below are finished, it’ll be a lot more difficult to reroute plumbing pipes, heating ducts and electrical wires.
  • Does your new design require that you move existing doors and/or windows? If so, this makes the job more difficult, because exterior walls are always load-bearing.


The next step-and the most fun-is to think about style. Chances are, you’ve seen kitchens that you like, in magazines, friends’ homes, etc. The first question to ask is whether the style you like best will fit with your home. You may have loved European cabinets in the magazine, but they might not look as good in your Queen Anne Victorian.

Also, consider what kind of color changes you’d like to make-and whether your ideal colors would necessitate buying new appliances. When you choose colors, think of them in relation to surrounding rooms and try to find colors that complement the rest of the house.

Finally, consider your budget and any other remodeling that you might want to do. Sometimes, related projects are easier and cheaper when done at the same time as the kitchen.


  • THE CLEANUP CENTER around the sink should have at least 18″ to 30″ on one side, and 48″ to 54″ on the other, to allow enough room to stack dishes, pans and utensils. Always plan for at least 12″ between the sink and the nearest corner, measured from the front of the counter.
  • THE COOKING CENTER around the range requires 12″ minimum on one side of the range, and 15″ to 24″ on the other side, again with 12″ minimum to the nearest corner. Microwaves and built-in ovens should have at least 15″ to 18″ counter space on the right side (assuming the door is hinged on the left side).
  • THE STORAGE CENTER around the refrigerator needs 15″ to 18″ on the handle side of the refrigerator, to set food.
  • THE MIXING/PREPARATION CENTER should be handy to pans, bowls and utensils, and should consist of at least 42″ to 84″ of free counter space.

If space permits, some designers also include a serving center-another 36″ to 84″ of free counter space to set bowls and pans.

As you design, you’ll also want to plan for the following minimum clearances so you’ll have room to work:

  • There should be at least a 42″ clearance from the front edge of the counter top to the nearest table or island.
  • Leave at least 20″ from the front edge of the dishwasher door (when open) to the nearest obstruction, so you’ll have room to load and unload.
  • Plan for at least 26″ between the kitchen work area and the nearest traffic path.
  • Allow 36″ between the nearest obstruction and an eating table, so there is room to pull a chair away from the table.


Kitchen layouts are based on a concept called the work triangle. The work triangle consists of imaginary lines that connect the refrigerator, the range and the sink. For maximum comfort and efficiency, the three legs of the work triangle should total between 23′ and 26′.

There are four basic kitchen layouts (see images above) the one-wall or galley, the corridor, the L-shaped and the U-shaped. There are, of course, a nearly infinite variety of layouts, but most are based on these four.


Cabinets can also be divided into basic types. Assuming that you’re considering modular (pre-manufactured) cabinets rather than custom, the widths will run in 3″ increments from 9″ up through 36″. The standard height of a base cabinet is 34-1/2″, and the standard depth is 24″.

Wall cabinets are 12″ deep (except for specialty cabinets designed to be installed over the refrigerator), and come in the same 3″ increments. Standard heights are 12″, 15″ 18″, 30″, and 36″. Wall cabinets are installed so the bottom of the cabinet is 54″ above the floor (about 18″ above the countertop). The height you select should depend on your ceiling height and how tall you are-there’s no point in buying tall cabinets that reach to the ceiling if you can’t get up to get items in and out of the top shelves.

There are four basic types of base cabinets:

  • A standard base has one drawer, with a door and shelves below.
  • A drawer base has three or four stacked drawers.
  • A sink base is open below, with a door below a single false drawer front. In some brands, the drawer front tilts out to provide storage for sponges and cleaning supplies.
  • A corner base fits in a corner. It may have a lazy susan inside or shelves.

Naturally, there are a wide range of variations on these four basic styles.

Wall cabinets (see image) generally have doors and shelves inside, although lazy susan corner cabinets are also available, as well as a wide range of specialty cabinets that may offer built-in appliance garages, stemware holders and other features. Special wall cabinets are also made for microwave and built-in ovens, range vent hoods and other special uses.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Preparation – It all Starts Here

Take down window coverings, wall decorations, and remove wall plates from switches and outlets. Cover furniture and the area of floor to be painted with tarps or drop cloths. Repair any holes, cracks or flaws and give the surface a thorough cleaning. Tape woodwork and other surfaces not being painted. Prime new drywall, unpainted surfaces, or any dark colored surface you plan to cover with a lighter color.

When painting over an existing semi- or full-gloss finish, the surface must be sanded to give the new paint something to adhere to (paint adheres better to rough surfaces than smooth ones). Smooth over cracks and other surface imperfections with spackle and a putty knife, and then sand smooth. Viewing the surface from an angle will reveal any spots that may have been missed.

Planning and Designing Your Bathroom

Planning and Designing Your Bathroom


Probably the greatest challenge in remodeling a bathroom is figuring out how to achieve the style and build in the features you want within the limits of what is probably the smallest room in the house. A second limiting factor is the location of existing plumbing pipes and electrical wiring. Remodeling a bathroom is relatively easy if you don’t have to move them. If you make radical changes in the existing layout, you’ll need to investigate whether or not you can build what you want without making structural changes.

Keep in mind that you may need a building permit, depending on the scope of your project. If so, you’ll probably have to submit a detailed plan of your proposed project. Before you begin planning your new bathroom, always check with your local building department and find out what codes, specifications and requirements you’ll have to meet.

There are a number of general issues you should consider before you begin designing your new bathroom. They include:

  • Layout. Think about the layout in your existing bathroom and decide which are the most serious problems you want to fix. If more than one person uses the bathroom at the same time, for example, is there adequate counter space, or do you need a second sink or a shower compartment for greater privacy?
    • Are towel racks and tissue holders located conveniently? Is there enough storage space for everyone who uses the bathroom? Do vanity doors or drawers interfere with opening and closing the bathroom door?
  • Mechanical systems. From the plumber’s point of view, the best bathroom layout is one that has all the rough plumbing-water supply and drain-waste-vent pipes-all in one wall. A “wet wall,” as it is called, not only saves materials, but makes it a lot easier to make repairs if needed.
  • Electrical outlets and switches are usually easier to move than plumbing pipes, provided there is reasonably easy access to the wiring. Likewise with heating ducts-if you can get to the duct, it usually isn’t too much trouble to relocate the vent. Keep in mind, however, that any mechanical changes you make will cost extra.
    • If your current layout is livable, leaving the mechanical systems as they are will mean that much more in the budget for upgraded fixtures, and may make the difference between doing the project and waiting to save more money.
    • Don’t neglect lighting when you redesign your bathroom. You’ll need strong lighting over the mirror-a strip of eight 60-watt bulbs is not necessarily too much-but you may also want to consider pinpoint task lighting and soft ambient lights. If you plan to install a whirlpool built for two, indirect mood lighting may fit well. With incandescent lighting, you’ll need at least 3-1/2 to 4 watts per square foot (e.g., 280 watts minimum in an 80-square-foot bathroom). If you use fluorescent lighting, figure 1-1/2 to 2 watts per square foot.
  • Maintenance. Think about the maintenance problems you have in your existing bathroom-stained grout, mildew, soap buildup, etc. Some materials look great when they’re brand new, but don’t weather very well in a high-moisture location. As you choose materials, make sure they are waterproof and washable-resilient vinyl flooring, for example, a fiberglass tub surround and semi-gloss enamel paint will all wear well.
  • Energy and water conservation. Your hot water heater is one of the largest energy hogs in the house, and the toilet uses more water than any other single fixture. Consider installing low-flow shower heads and insulating hot water pipes. The extra money you spend on an ultra-low-flush toilet will often come back in the first year in reduced water bills.


The first step in planning your new design is to make a detailed sketch of your existing design (see image). Use a sheet of graph paper with four squares per inch, and draw a floor plan (in other words, a bird’s eye view) to scale. Make each square represent 3″, i.e., 1″ equals 1′, and draw in:

  • all wall detail, plus the locations of any doors and windows;
  • the width and length of your floor cabinets and bathtub;
  • the distance from the nearest wall to the center of the toilet and the centers of all sink drains; and
  • the locations of all electrical outlets, switches and fixtures.

As you make your sketch, use an architect’s scale to precisely locate any components that do not fall on exact 3″ increments.

It is beyond the scope of this document to provide extensive style ideas or discuss specific fixtures. We suggest that you visit your local home center’s show room, contact a designer or architect and consult how-to books such as Sunset’s Bathroom Remodeling Handbook.

Once you have a general idea of the style you want to incorporate into your new bathroom, the next step is to decide on the fixtures. The first place is to start is the bathtub. A standard builder’s bathtub is 30″ wide, 60″ long and typically about 15″ deep. But you can go up from there, to soaking tubs 36″ deep, square or sunken tubs, whirlpools or even free-standing clawfoot tubs. Tub surrounds range from one-piece folding fiberglass units to five-piece assemblies, and doors may swing, slide or fold.

The simplest sinks are wall-hung; they are also the least expensive. Vanity sinks may be deck-mounted-in other words, set into a hole cut in the countertop-or part of an integral bowl and countertop (typically a cultured marble top). There are three types of deck-mounted sinks (see image):

  • Self-rimming sinks have a molded lip that rests on the countertop, around the edge of the hole. They are the easiest to install, and there are a wide variety of styles available.
  • Flush or frame-rimmed sinks have a metal frame that is attached to the rim of the hole in the countertop. The sink is then fastened to the frame. This is an older style, typically used with laminate countertops.
  • Unrimmed sinks are recessed below the surface of the countertop and held in place with metal clips. They are often used with ceramic tile or synthetic marble countertops.

You may or may not have room for a small storage closet in the bathroom; if so, it can be used for towels and other accessories. Your vanity cabinets will provide the bulk of the storage, however, so it’s important to choose them carefully.

There are three basic types of base cabinets. A modular (as opposed to custom-built) sink base (see image) is typically 24″ to 36″ wide, with false drawer fronts and doors below. A drawer base (see image) may range from 12″ wide to 18″ wide; it generally makes the most of the space, with three or four drawers. A standard vanity base (see image below) has one drawer, with a door below, and also comes in 12″ to 18″ widths.

Combination units are also available (see image), with drawers on one side and a false drawer front and door on the other, to accommodate a sink. All modular vanities are about 30″ high and either 19″ deep or 21″ deep.

The most common type of toilet is a two-piece unit-a bowl and a tank. One-piece toilets are also available, in both a standard configuration and a low-profile model. What differentiates toilets (aside from color and style) is the flush design. The most common design is called a reverse trap. A siphon jet design is more efficient-and, of course, more expensive.


Once you have a rough idea of what fixtures you want, go to your supplier and measure them to get their outside dimensions. When you begin sketching out your new bathroom, cut out cardboard templates of each fixture to the same scale as your sketch. Lay the templates over the sketch of your existing bathroom and trace the walls and the locations of any components you know you will not move. Then begin planning your changes.

Minimum clearances vary by local building codes, so you’ll need to check with the building department before you design. There are four common types of bathroom layouts:

  • A one-wall bathroom has the tub, sink(s) and toilet all along one wall. This layout is generally the most economical-and generally the least interesting design.
  • An L-shaped bathroom (see image) usually has the vanity/sink and the toilet along one side wall, with the bathtub against the back wall. This arrangement reduces the “hallway” look, and is as cost-effective as a one-wall bathroom because the tub supply and drain lines can be located in the same wall as the other fixtures.

  • A corridor bathroom (see image) typically has the bathtub along one side wall and the vanity/sink and toilet along the opposite wall.
  • A U-shaped bathroom has fixtures on three walls; it generally gives the most spacious appearance, but also requires a relatively large, square room.

Begin your layout by positioning the bathtub. Make sure you have easy access, room to maneuver if you’ll be bathing small children and nearby wall space for a towel rack. The bathtub is often placed against the back wall to keep it away from the bathroom door.

Next, locate the sink and vanity cabinet. Plan for at least 30″ clear space in front of the sink, so there is room to bend down and get into the cabinet. If the sink is placed along a side wall near the door, make sure the door swings away from the sink-not into it.

Then locate the toilet, away from the door if possible. Most building codes require at least 20″ clearance in front of the bowl. On each side, you’ll probably need 18″ to the nearest wall or 14″ to the nearest cabinet (measured from the center of the bowl).

If you have space for extra storage, naturally you’ll want to use it; the most important consideration in designing storage space is putting everything you need within easy reach. You’ll certainly need some shelf space, but you can also make efficient use of space with wire racks, bins and drawers. If you use modular units, you’ll be able to adjust your storage space later for changing needs.


Use the following checklist to guide you through the preparation, design and construction process.


  • Review what you like and dislike about your existing bathroom, and decide what your priorities are in your remodeling project.
  • Measure your bathroom and draw a sketch to scale; if you plan to hire a professional designer, contact one.
  • Contact your building department to confirm minimum clearances and any other regulations that may apply.


  • Gather style ideas and make notes.
  • Determine the major fixtures you want in your new bathroom.
  • Work out a layout that meets local clearance requirements, fits your needs and makes the most efficient use of the space you have.
  • Determine colors, finish materials, lighting, storage details and accessories.
  • Draw a floorplan of your proposed bathroom. You may want to have it checked by a professional designer to get any additional ideas.


  • Get a building permit if you need one.
  • Prepare a materials list and have it priced by your supplier or suppliers.
  • Arrange your financing if necessary. Interview and select a contractor if you’ll be using one.


  • Draw up a general outline of construction procedures, then list the materials that will be needed for each phase. Talk to your supplier(s) and find out the lead times on any special order materials.
  • Place special orders in advance so they will be available when you need them; allow enough extra time beyond the planned order time, so mistakes can be corrected without holding up the job.
  • Arrange for a building inspector to check the job whenever necessary.
Graph Paper Tracing Paper
Masking Tape Pencils and Eraser
Ruler Compass
Architect’s Scale Steel Tape Measure

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Installing a ceiling fan

Installing Ceiling Fans


  • An easy-to-install ceiling fan can make a real difference in your home’s climate-both cooling and heating-at a far lower cost and operating expense than almost any other item.
  • The installation begins with choosing where the fan should be located. In almost all homes, the fan is installed in the center of the room, replacing a central light fixture. This spot provides a smooth air flow to most of the room.
  • Since a fan draws about the same power as a ceiling fixture, the electrical circuit shouldn’t be overloaded. But if your fan includes lights, be sure the circuit it’s on has enough extra capacity to handle the load. If not, you must run a new circuit with a new circuit breaker from the house main service panel or subpanel to the fan.
  • If there is no central light fixture, you’ll have to create a place to hang the ceiling fan. Then, you’ll need to bring electrical power to it. You can tap into an existing circuit to do this.

  • Start your installation by turning off the power to the light’s circuit breaker or fuse. Only then should you remove the light fixture.
  • If there is no central light fixture, snap diagonal chalk lines from opposite corners of the room to find its center. Determine whether the lines cross exactly below a ceiling joist. If they do, move aside just far enough between joists to let you fasten the side of the fan’s new junction box directly to the joist.
  • Cut a hole large enough for the junction box to be slipped in. If it’s next to the joist, drill holes in its side and screw it to the joist.

  • Installation between joists is OK, too. Fasten the box to a 2×4 header nailed between the joists. Sometimes, you can insert a 2×4 header through the junction box’s hole, nailing it to each joist. If not, you may need to open a larger access hole. Then, patch the hole to close it again. (see image above for a typical fan mounting where there’s access above the joists for header-nailing.)
  • You may choose to use a patented fan support unit designed to be inserted through the normal junction box hole to save you from opening a hole in the ceiling (see image).
  • Use only a metal junction box to support a ceiling fan-never hang the fan from a plastic box. Depending on the brand, style, and size of your ceiling fan-and your electrical code – you may use a 4″ or 3″ octagonal junction box. (Some local codes don’t permit the use of 3″ boxes.)

  • The heaviest fan that should be supported by an outlet box is 35 lbs.. If it weighs more, the building structure must support it.
  • Whatever you do, make sure the junction box is supported well enough to hold at least 50 lbs. That’s the weight of an average ceiling fan. Also, your mounting must be able to withstand vibration while the fan is running. Even a well-balanced fan creates some vibration when it runs.
  • You’ll use a special beam mount when mounting a fan to a beamed ceiling. Use one kind for a horizontal beam, another for a pitched beam (see image). You may need an extender to lower the fan to the proper level.
  • Fan-mounting is particularly important because any failure to make things secure could allow your fan to fall from the ceiling.


  • Fan assembly varies from brand to brand. Be sure to follow the specific instructions with the unit you buy. Regardless of the manufacturer’s instructions, if the fan blades are less than a screwdriver’s length away from the ceiling, it may be best to install the blades before hanging the fan.
  • The hanger pipe is usually placed into its hole on top of the motor. The wires are drawn up in the center. A set screw is tightened securely to make sure the pipe stays in place after it is threaded down.

  • Some fans have a separate motor hub into which the hanger pipe mounts. In this case, you’ll place the actual motor housing over the hub.
  • Other fans have a two-piece decorative ceiling cover to hide the hole in the ceiling. It is installed after the fan has been hung on the ceiling (see image above).
  • Tighten the set screw well.
  • Other models use a hook, with the hanger bracket designed to accept it (see image).
  • To attach the fan blades, set the motor unit down where it will be stable. Often, the styrene foam packing for the motor housing makes an excellent stabilizer on your worktable.

  • Most fan blades have a two-pronged attachment, using screws that come through holes in the blades and into the flanges (see image). These need to be drawn up securely, but not so tightly that the threads are damaged or the laminated blade material is crushed. On many fans you’ll find the flanges, or prongs, also need to be mounted to the motor housing. If this is the case, mount them before the flanges are mounted to the blades themselves.


  • Now, check the floor-to-ceiling height of the fan blades. You can do this by measuring the floor-to-ceiling distance and subtracting for the part of the fan that will extend below the ceiling down to the lower blade surface. An absolute minimum height of 7′ is recommended (see image). This may be reinforced by building codes in your area.
  • If the floor-to-ceiling distance is too little, check into a low-ceiling mount for your fan. With some models, the fan blade height can be increased by as much as 10″. Remember, though, that you need at least 12″ between the ceiling and the tops of the fan blades for proper airflow (see image). Having 18″ is better if the space is available.


  • Install the hanger bracket on the box with screws and lock washers. If no lock washers are supplied, get some-they prevent fan vibration from loosening the screws over time.
  • The hanger bracket may accept either a half-ball hanger or a hook-type hanger, depending on which kind your fan uses. Either way, the hanger is carefully slipped into the bracket.
  • Next, the unit is wired, and the ceiling cover is slipped up to its full height and tightened in place.
  • Be sure to connect the black house wires to the black fan wires, and the white house wires to the white fan wires.
  • The fan should be electrically grounded to both the metal box and the fan (see image). The grounding wires will be either green or bare copper. A green grounding pigtail attached to the box by a bonding screw will make your work easier. Wirenut the ground wires from the box, the fan and the power supply together.
  • If the fan wobbles when it runs, its blades may be unbalanced. To correct this, try interchanging two adjacent blades. If that doesn’t work, take all the blades off and weigh each one on a food or postal scale. If any is underweight, tape a soft object such as a pencil eraser or modeling clay to the top center of the blade, making its weight the same as the others. Fan balancing kits with detailed instructions are also available. Reinstall the blades and the fan should run smoothly.


  • When nothing else works for fan mounting, use a piece of good-looking hardwood plywood as a fan-mount. It should be large enough to extend over two joists. The size may be 18″ x 18″ or 26″ x 26″, or any variant that does the job.
  • Use brass screws in pilot-drilled holes to attach the plywood to the ceiling joists. The screw length will vary, depending on the thickness of the plywood and plaster or plasterboard ceiling below the joists. Use one screw every 6″.
  • The plywood will have an access hole of proper size cut in its center, and will serve as the main mounting member for the junction box above it.
  • Finish the plywood with an outside corner molding, mitered at the corners for a neat appearance (see image).
  • Or, you can get a surface-mounting fixture box along with a surface conduit wiring system that meets electrical codes. This allows you to do the wiring installation on the ceiling and wall, rather than behind it.
  • You may wish to wire your new ceiling fan through a fan speed control. This lets you set its operating speed smoothly and easily.


  • Swag kits are available if you wish to have a super-easy installation and a degree of portability in a ceiling fan. These replace the above-ceiling wiring job. In this case, though, the hanger bracket is screwed directly into a ceiling joist (see image).
  • The swag kit is wired into the fan, and the fan assembled as described earlier. Then slip it into the hanger bracket.
  • The chain and cord are hung from hooks carried across the ceiling, toward a wall and down the wall, where the cord plugs into a handy receptacle.
  • A swag-mounted ceiling fan can be taken down in a few minutes and moved to another location.


  • Use extra care when working with electricity. Less current than it takes to light a 60-watt bulb can be lethal.
  • All wiring should conform to local electrical codes as well as to the current National Electrical Code (NEC). You can probably find a copy of the NEC at your local library.
  • Never trust a light switch to render a fixture “dead,” because sometimes the power enters at the fixture, even when the switch is located in the circuit beyond it.
  • Turn off the circuit you’re working on by switching off a circuit breaker or by unscrewing a fuse (the house main switch should be off when handling fuses). Then padlock the panel if you can.
  • Make sure the circuit is truly “dead” before touching any wires or terminals. Check with a high-voltage neon tester. Test from the black wires to a grounded metal box or other good ground, then to the white wires. Also test from the white wires to a ground. Since there may be more than one circuit inside an outlet box, before you take off a cover, see that all of its circuits are off. Also, be sure your tester is functioning by first trying it in a live receptacle.
  • Test your finished work with the power on using the neon tester. Check black to white and black to a ground. It should light. Test white to ground. It should not light.
  • If you aren’t knowledgeable about working around electricity, call in a professional.
Ceiling Fan Mounting Kit
Swag Kit Lock Washers
Low-Ceiling Mount Angled-Ceiling Mount
Patented Support Unit 4″ x 1-1/2″ Octagon Electrical Box
Neon Test Light No. 2 Phillips Screwdriver
Claw Hammer 3/16″ Slotted Screwdriver
Speed Controller Pliers
Wallboard or Compass Saw Soft Cloth
Stud Locator Ladder
Electrician’s Pliers Wire-Stripper
Cable-Ripper Surface-Wiring System
Cable, Switch/Outlet Box, Switch, Box Connectors, Wirenuts, Switch Cover, Bonding Screw, Staples

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Framing and Hanging Doors

Follow these tips and instructions on how to frame and hang doors. Following these instructions can save you time and effort, while helping you to end up with a neater, more satisfactory installation. In this document you will find information about:

  • Framing a Door
  • Hanging a Door
  • Mortising the Door for Hinges
  • How to Install a Cylinder Lock


  • Framing a door is a simple task when you follow a few simple instructions. Decide where each door is to be located when you are installing studs, plates and shoes for a new wall (see image). Follow these same basic instructions when you’re cutting a door through an existing stud wall. Use metal lumber connector brackets to make nailing your door frame together easier.
  • The 2×3 or 2×4 that is nailed to the floor to provide a base for the studs is referred to as a “shoe.” The 2x4s placed in an upright position to support the wall are referred to as “studs.” The 2×4 laid on top of the studs is referred to as a “plate.”

  • The size of this opening will vary depending on the size of the door you plan to install. A typical door opening is about 2’8″. Measure the door carefully and cut the opening to fit.
  • Next, cut and insert studs on each side of the door area (see image). Make this opening the width of the door plus 6″. The extra 6″ allows for the width of the door facing on both sides.
  • Now, measure the height of the door to be installed. Cut 2x4s to the height of the door plus 1″. Install these studs on either side of the door as illustrated in the image.
  • There are two ways to finish the header area over the door frame. The first is to cut two 2x4s to a length equal to the width of the original opening and insert them to form a header above the door (see image below). Nail these header pieces together securely when they are placed in position.
  • Next, measure the distance from the top of the header plate to the ceiling plate and cut “cripple studs” to this length (see first image below). Insert three cripple studs in the space above the door header as illustrated. Toenail these cripple studs to the header above the door and to the plate at the top of the studs.
  • The other method is to cut two 2x10s to a width of the original opening. Place 1/2″ plywood spacers between the pieces of 2×10 and nail them together (see second image below). Insert them to form the header above the door (see third image below).
  • Insert the door jamb in the space you have now created (see fourth image below). This door jamb is normally purchased ready-cut for installation.
  • The fifth image below shows the details on installing a door jamb and casing. Study this drawing carefully before attempting to install the door jamb. These same parts of the jamb are installed whether the jamb is purchased ready-cut or is cut on the job.
  • In some cases, the casing on an outside door frame is nailed directly to the studs. In other cases, the casing is nailed over the sheathing. The thickness of the interior wallboard and the sub-sheathing determines how the door jamb is installed.
  • Insert a filler strip to make the door jamb fit the installation, if needed.
  • Add finish framing to the door after applying the paneling, drywall or other wall material (see fifth image below). Head and side casings finish off the opening for the door.


  • The first step in hanging a door is determining whether it is to be hung right-hand or left-hand. A right-hand door means the hinge is added to the right side, while a left-hand door means the hinge is on the left side.
  • The hand of a door is always determined from the outside. For an entrance way, this means the street side.

  • The “outside” of an interior door is the side from which the hinges are not available, and the door opens away from you.
  • Although you can hang doors accurately without a butt gauge, you may want to acquire this handy tool if you plan to hang many doors. It makes the job much easier (see image above).
  • Place the flange of the butt gauge against the jamb or the side of the door as you would a regular T-square (see image). Mark the position where the hinge is to be attached with a scratch awl or a pen knife. This will give you square lines where the hinge is to be attached.

  • Determine the width of the hinge to be applied, and set the butt gauge to the correct width (see image). The setback of the hinge is illustrated, too. This is usually about 1/4″. This setback hides the hinge when it is recessed into the door.
  • Next, apply the butt gauge to the jamb of the door and mark this same measurement on the jamb.

  • The small extension piece on the opposite end of the butt gauge measures the offset for swaged hinges (see image). This space between the leaves of the hinges allows for clearance at the butt edge of the door. If a hinge is not swaged, set the gauge for slightly less than half the thickness of the barrel of the hinge.
  • The table below provides a table for determining the size and type of hinge to use on doors of different types.
  • Obviously, heavy doors require heavier hinges than light doors, and doors taller than 5′ should have three hinges.
  • Loose pin butt hinge specifications for wood doors.Doors larger than 5′ should have three butt hinges, one for ea. 2-1/2 ‘ of height.
DOOR Butt Hinge Size
Type Size Width
Cupboard 3/4″, 7/8″ Up to 24″ 2- 1/2″
Screen 7/8″ to 1-1/8″ Up to 36″ 3″
Doors 1-1/8″ to 1-3/8″ Up to 32″ 3-1/2″
1-1/8″ to 1-3/8″ 32″ to 37″ 4″
1-9/16″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/8″ Up to 32″ 4-1/2″
1-9/16″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/8″ 32″ to 37″ 5″
1-9/16″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/8″ 37″ to 43″ 5″ Ex Heavy
1-9/16″, 1-3/4″, 1-1/8″ 43″ to 50″ 6″ Ex Heavy
2″, 2-1/4″, 2-1’4″ Up to 43″ 5″ Ex Heavy
2″, 2-1/4″, 2-1/4″ 43″ to 50″ 6″ Ex Heavy


  • Use a small square or a butt gauge to mark the location of the hinge on the door (see image, part A).
  • Use a marking gauge to indicate the area of the door that the hinge will not cover (see image, part B). This area is referred to as the gain or setback.

  • Next, use a chisel and a rubber or plastic hammer to score the marked area (see image, part A). Be sure the chisel is sharp and the correct size.
  • Using the same chisel, make shallow cuts about 1/4″ apart in the marked area (see image, part B). Tap the chisel lightly with the rubber or plastic hammer to make these cuts.
  • Use the chisel to remove the surplus wood you have cut away to the depth needed to conceal the hinge in the area (see image, part C).

  • This image illustrates a cutaway top view of a 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ butt hinge mounted on the door and the side jamb. Follow this same arrangement when installing hinges of any size.
  • Use a nail punch or a drill to start the screw holes, both in the door and the door jamb. Pull the leaf of the hinge tightly into place on both the door and the jamb with a good screwdriver.
  • Put the door into the correct position, and insert the hinge pins. Tap the pins into place with a rubber or plastic hammer.
  • After the door is hung, swing it a few times to check for alignment. Make any adjustments necessary to the door and the hinges for proper positioning. In some cases, a door may need light planing or sanding in a few spots. In other cases, the hinges may need slight adjustments for proper alignment.


  • Instructions for installing a cylinder lock usually accompany the lock you purchase. Follow these mounting instructions carefully, using the template provided with the lock for drilling the holes in the door (see image).
  • Instructions on mounting a cylinder lock vary from one manufacturer to another. The hole for any lock is usually drilled at a point 38″ from the floor.
  • You can use special adjustable drill bits for drilling holes for the lock, or you may prefer to use a cylinder-type hole drill that works with your power drill. The hole for a cylinder lock is usually about 2-1/8″ in diameter.
2x3s (Various Lengths) Hand Saw
Nails (Various Sizes) Sawhorses
Door Jamb Door
T-Square Expansive Bit
Butt Gauge Hinges (three per door)
Marking Gauge Sharp Knife
Rubber or Plastic Hammer Brace and Bit
Marking Pencil Lock
Wood Chisel Cylinder-Type Drill Bit
2x4s (Various Lengths) Power Saw
1/4″ Paneling Hammer
Metal Lumber Connectors

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Installing Replacement Vinyl Windows

In this document you will find information about:

  • Vinyl Replacement Windows
  • Features of Vinyl Windows
  • Measuring Vinyl Windows
  • Installing Vinyl Windows


  • It wasn’t too long ago that vinyl windows were considered a less-than-ideal choice for replacement windows. But advances in design plus improvements in the formulation of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have made vinyl windows a high-quality product that competes favorably with wood.
  • Vinyl windows have always had some advantages over aluminum and steel. Metal is a highly efficient heat conductor-a great property when it comes to pots and pans, but not so slick when you’re talking about window frames. As window glazing has improved, the difference in insulating value between the glass and the frame of a metal window became greater and greater.
  • PVC, on the other hand, is a nonconductor of heat. It doesn’t truly insulate like wood, but the design of a vinyl window adds greatly to the frame’s insulating value. The primary reason that insulating glass works is because there is a pocket of trapped air, called dead air space, between the inner and outer panes. Vinyl window frames work on the same principle. The frames are hollow, built with multiple chambers to add strength (see image). Those chambers also trap air and thereby slow heat transfer.

  • Good quality vinyl windows are nearly equal to wood windows in their overall insulating value, but not just because of the frames. Compared to old shop-built wood double-hung windows, the factory weatherstripping in modern vinyl windows allows only a fraction of the air leakage around the sash. As a rule, air infiltration is even more important than insulating quality in preventing heat loss.
  • Vinyl windows come in a variety of styles, including single- and double-hung (see image above), horizontal sliding (see image), casement, awning and hopper. Sliding patio doors are also available. The color is part of the PVC formula, so vinyl windows never have to be painted. Most come in white and almond, some with woodgrain overlays inside.
  • Vinyl windows offer the same style features found on other top-quality windows-divided light grids, decorative glass, tilt-out sash on single- and double-hung units, high-efficiency locking systems, premium configurations such as circle tops, bay and bow units and even brass hardware. Like all vinyl products, they are also maintenance-free.
  • A few manufacturers still make dark brown windows, but many have stopped manufacturing dark colors. Despite advances in formulation, vinyl is still more sensitive to temperature variations than other window materials, and dark colors absorb heat more readily than light colors.


  • There are differences in the quality of vinyl windows just as there are in any building product. Some of the features that distinguish different windows include:
  • Vinyl formulation. Early vinyl windows had problems with extreme expansion and contraction during temperature swings, as well as fading, peeling and cracking when exposed to direct sunlight. Manufacturers have switched to PVC without plasticizers (called UPVC) to minimize movement and developed additives that help resist the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
  • Frame design. Vinyl window frames may be screwed together like aluminum windows, or welded at the corners. Windows with welded frames tend to be sturdier, as well as more energy efficient, since air is sealed inside.
  • Glazing. Modern vinyl windows are available with the same high-tech glazing used in top-of-the-line wood windows-insulating glass with low emissivity (low E) coatings (see image), and filled with argon gas to increase insulating value.
  • Many states have adopted an energy efficiency rating system for windows developed by the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC). The NFRC rating lists the U-value for the overall window, not just the glass. The lower the U-value, the more energy efficient the window.
  • If your house has older wood double-hung windows, vinyl is a good replacement choice and a reasonably easy do-it-yourself project. You don’t have to remove your old windows entirely, because vinyl replacement windows are made to fit in the sash opening.


  • The most important part of the installation procedure comes before you even have your windows. It is critical that you measure your old window opening properly and accurately (see image).
  • Vinyl windows are custom-built and can’t be returned if they don’t fit. Most are manufactured in 1/4″ increments, and you’ll want to get the closest fit possible.
  • Manufacturers’ measuring instructions vary, but the following procedures are typical.
  • To measure the width, raise the lower sash and measure the jamb-to-jamb width in three places-near the top of the window, at the middle and close to the bottom.
  • To measure the height, measure from the head jamb to the sloped sill just past where it meets the inside window stool.
  • Don’t assume that all your windows are the same size. Draw a rough sketch of your house and number each window you plan to replace, then measure each of them separately.


  • To install a vinyl replacement window, first remove the old sash. A traditional double-hung window has two sets of removable stops (see image). All have an inside stop that holds the lower (inner) sash in place and a blind stop that separates the two sashes. The outside stop is nailed to the edge of the sash and is not removable.
  • Pry off the inside stops carefully so you can reuse them. Cut the sash ropes and remove the lower sash, then pry out the blind stop and remove it. Remove the upper sash.

  • Set the replacement window in the opening. It should fit snugly between the stool on the inside and the outside stops of the old window on the outside (see image). If the new window is narrower, you may need to nail a strip of wood to the jamb to fill the gap between the window and the outside stop.
  • Some vinyl replacement windows have sloped extrusions on the bottom that match the sloped sill of your old window (see first image below); others are flat. If the bottom of your new window is flat, you may be able to use a piece of lattice or door stop as a support for the front edge of the window (see second image below).
  • If not, you’ll have to rip an angled support. To do so, set the window in place in the opening, and measure the gap between the front lower edge of the window and the old sloped sill.
  • You can make supports for all your windows at one time. Plane the edge of a board at an angle that roughly matches the slope of the sill, then rip a strip of wood to match the gap. To install the support strip, cut it to length and nail it in place directly beneath the point where the front edge of the new window will rest.
  • Center the window in the opening. Use a carpenter’s square to make sure the window is square, then shim the sides of the window directly behind the predrilled screw holes in the jamb. Screw the window in place through the side jambs, then replace the inside stop.
  • Go inside and check the window to make sure it operates properly. Then go back outside and run a narrow bead of caulking all around the window to seal the gap at the outside stop.
Steel Measuring Tape Vinyl Replacement Windows
Hammer Level
Carpenter’s Square Pry Bar
Screwdriver Finish Nails
Circular Saw Straightedge
Caulking Gun Caulking

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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