A1 Action Group Home Remodeling Q&A

Can I replace a chipped tile in the middle of the floor by myself?

Unless you're a tile professional, we don't suggest you do this yourself.  You'll need an oscillating tool plus an attachment that removes grout.  This tool will also help to remove the tile before you lay down a new one.  Once set, you'll need to apply another layer of grout.  

Can tile be applied directly to plywood, or should I be using some sort of backer board?

It is NOT recommended by any manufacturer that we are aware of to install tile directly to plywood.  Tile should be applied to a backer board like Wonderboard Lite.  Without it, the plywood will expand and contract at a different rate as the tile, causing cracks to develop in the grout lines or tiles over time.  We suggest using 1/2” cement backer board over a plywood subfloor.


Do I really need to find a stud when I'm hanging something on a wall?

A good rule of thumb is to look for studs whenever hanging anything around 75 pounds, more or less.


Studs are generally spaced about 16" apart and will support more than what drywall or plaster can.  It's easy to find the studs (vertical wood framing within the wall) with the use of a stud finder--there are apps on your phone you can try if you don't happen to have one handy.  If you are going to be hanging something super heavy on the wall, use two studs to space out the weight of the item evenly.


Hey A1, How can I repair a water-damaged cabinet? My paper towel holder is mounted to the side of it and the water dripping from wet hands seems to have caused some bubbling and peeling. Help!

Our first suggestion would be to try and scrape off as much of the bubbled up area as possible, using a small putty knife.


Afterwards, patch the area with wood putty (not spackle!).  You can apply using the same putty knife.


If you can, try and match up the paint as best as possible and paint the area using small brush strokes.


We hope this helps!

How can I remove spots and stains from stainless steel appliances?

There's actually a few things you can try.  Rubbing alcohol, a vinegar / water solution, glass cleaner or ammonia applied with a soft cloth can work.  Rub in the direction of the grain and follow up with plain tap water afterwards.  Wipe dry.

How can I tell if I have drywall or plaster walls?

Generally, homes built before the 1950s will have plaster walls.  Drywall became popular in the 50s because it's so much easier to install, and doesn't crack or crumble like traditional plaster.

To figure out what you have, try the pushpin test: Push a thumbtack into an inconspicuous spot on the wall. It will go right into drywall, which is soft, but it’s nearly impossible to push one into a plaster wall.

How long does a typical remodeling project take?

There's no such thing as a typical remodeling project, as we've learned over the years.  But different projects have different timeframes, so here are a few you can consider:


Kitchens - 3-4 weeks

Bathrooms - 2-3 weeks

Basements - 4 weeks

Additions - 2-4 months, depending on the scope of work

I have no real experience working on my home, but it seems I should be able to learn how to do at least some basic home repairs. Where can I get help?

If you want to learn basic home repair, start with your local home improvement store.  Many will offer free to low cost classes on how to install flooring or tile a backsplash, for example.


For more hands-on learning, seek out adult education or continuing education classes.  They will often offer classes on various home improvement topics at a reasonable fee.

I'm considering starting a remodeling project--what's the process like?

While it's hard to pin this down to just a few sentences, here's what you can most likely expect:


Establish goals for yourself.  Think about what you want, where you want it, when you want it, how you want it and how you will pay for it.


Gather a few estimates from reputable contractors, and do your best to avoid "Chuck In A Truck"--remember the Shirk brothers from the movie, The Money Pit?  That is, anyone that doesn't look legit.  Be sure to discuss your plans thoroughly.  DON'T accept a random, off the top of their head dollar figure from anyone, and don't request one, either.  You want your project's cost based on size, time and materials--not just a random figure that sounds good to both of you.


Do your best to avoid costly add-ons.  While it might not seem much to you to ask your contractor to install simple light switch and outlet covers, this is a cost in both time and materials, so be sure to discuss anything you might have forgotten earlier as soon as you can.  Also consider other costs associated with your project, like permits, dumpsters, etc.  These should be included in your estimate, but it never hurts to ask beforehand.


Also, be patient.  Not every project can start asap.  A lot of the time there are several projects ahead of yours and some may even take precedence over yours even if it was booked after the fact--for example, if you're waiting for siding to be installed and the weather is terrible, we may have to delay your project and move ahead with an interior project instead.  Also, materials will always need to be ordered from suppliers, and this can take several weeks.  If it's getting too late and you haven't heard from your contractor, give them a call.  Contractors get busy and while we aren't intentionally avoiding you, we certainly will take your call and discuss any concerns you may have.


Lastly, feel free to check references, review their HIC license with your state's Department of Consumer Protection, their stats with the Better Business Bureau and don't be afraid to ask for a copy of their general liability insurance, either.  A good contractor (like us) will be 100% transparent with you!


If a piece of wood furniture is varnished, can I just paint right over it?

No, you will have to strip it first, otherwise your paint may bubble, peel and / or go on unevenly.  The best way to strip the varnish is to use a coarse sandpaper (150 grit works great).  Depending on the furniture, you may also need to add a paint and varnish stripper, too.  Once the varnish is gone, just sand with a finer grit sandpaper (like 220), wipe off the area with a damp rag, then prime and paint!

If I replace my ceiling fan with a traditional light fixture, will I have to install all new wiring?

To replace a ceiling fan with a traditional light fixture, you just need to match the wire colors.  For example--white to white, black to black and green to the grounding wire.  If there are extra wires after you remove the ceiling fan and install the light fixture, don't worry, just cap them off.


Is engineered hardwood real wood or fake wood?

Engineered hardwood is real, but not solid, wood.  A plank of engineered wood is comprised of layers of thin, lesser-grade wood with a top layer of higher-grade wood.  The benefits of engineered wood vs. solid wood is that it's much easier to install and quite durable.

Is there any way to remove a scratch from hardwood floors?

Surface scratches, such as those from chair legs, can be "touched up" with the use of a touch up kit, which can be purchased from your floor's manufacturer (or from a home improvement store). If the scratches are deeper and more severe, you can either replace the board or apply a polyurethane top coat to the entire floor.  Sometimes, however, you may be left with no choice but to sand and refinish completely.

What Type of Insulation Should I Get?

Insulating your home saves on energy bills by reducing heat transfer. When choosing new insulation, homeowners must think about their climate, home construction, installation method, and a variety of other factors. A reputable contractor can make a site visit to help you out, but you can also find the necessary information in this guide to energy-efficient insulation.

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A1 Action Group LLC
856 Main St
Monroe, CT 06468