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.


Can you give me some tips on caulking my bathtub?



When caulking the edges of your bathtub, one thing to keep in mind is that the caulking will often expand and crack the first time you fill the tub with hot water.  To combat this, fill the tub with water first, then caulk away.


Also, bear in mind that caulking can be tricky business.  It's often hard to get perfect lines, but if you try and smooth them out with your finger, it sticks--creating an even uglier sight.  When you need to smooth down caulk, try using an ice cube instead.  The cold will help set the line, and it won't stick to the ice.

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 make a small laundry room on the main floor of my house more functional? Right now it's a disorganized mess!

Storage is key when it comes to laundry rooms.  Sure, you want enough space for your washer and dryer, but you'll also need cabinets for storing laundry necessities.

Consider installing cabinetry and shelving above your washer and dryer.  A simple row of three cabinets should suffice.  If space allows, add sorted laundry bins, a drying rack and perhaps a tabletop ironing board adjacent to your washer and dryer.

Be sure to include task lighting and a trash can as well.

To make it a space you'd want to spend time in, add decorative touches befitting the room, like woven baskets (also good for storage), cute signage and a comfy mat underfoot.

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 do I find an interior designer I know I'll mesh well with?

A good designer should be able to capture anyone's style, but take into account a designer will also want to take on projects that appeal to them as well.  For example, someone whose portfolio showcases more clean, modern designs may not be the right candidate for a traditional home.  Make sure you convey the exact style you're going for; and if you're not sure, start scouring home and garden magazines and websites and save images that appeal most to you.  You'll soon see a pattern of style you are drawn to, and a good designer will help to bring out that style in your own home, too.  

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 a huge blank wall in my living room that needs help. Any ideas on what can I do with it? I'm on a tight budget.

Filling a blank wall on a budget can be tricky, but not impossible.   You can turn this wall into a statement wall by adding wallpaper that looks like shiplap or distressed wood.  If you're crafty, you can upcycle wood pallets and create a pallet wall.  Try adding tall bookcases and a center focal point, like a large piece of artwork, with a sofa table positioned under it.  Add pendant lighting to the left and right side of your focal point, drawing the eye up instead of straight forward.  We also love what Kerry Washington did with her large wall, using a large mirror as her statement piece which, of course, reflects like and gives the illusion of a larger room.

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 often hear that remodeling your kitchen is the number one thing you can do to add value to your house. What's the typical ROI (return on investment) for a kitchen remodel?

 Depending on the type of remodel (budget vs luxury, for example) your return could be as high as 100%.  The national average for an upscale kitchen remodel is about 53.5%, midrange is about 59% and a minor remodel will your return on investment at about 81.10%.

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.

My husband and I ready to install new flooring and are thinking about using hardwood. What do I need to consider when choosing a wood color?

Firstly, make sure you choose a color of wood that matches the rest of your interior finishes.  For example, if you have light colored furniture, you may want to keep the appearance of lightness by choosing a lighter wood tone.  If you're looking to make a room appear larger, try a  darker tone since darker colors will expand the volume of a space and make a room appear larger.   Designers have been steering clear of wood finishes that lean toward very red or orange, which have a tendency to look dated.  One of the biggest trends in wood flooring right now is a warmer take on of-the-moment gray.


Have you considering painting the floors?

A coat of paint can be a great option for updating wood floors that have seen better days. While often synonymous with a beachy, rustic look, painted floors can also be incredibly elegant. Just make sure to use a true floor or deck paint, which is formulated to stand up to the daily wear and tear of being walked on. 



What are your favorite neutral or white paint-color choices for, including walls, trim and ceilings? I'm going for a neutral look but I don't want my home to look blah or washed out.

A coat of white paint is the perfect solution to make a room feel like new.  After all, it's what most new homes are painted in prior to move in! We think there are many fantastic shades of white out there, but definitely recommend 


Nothing makes a room feel new again like a coat of white paint. Though there are a ton of great shades out there, Cloud Nine by Benjamin Moore can't be beat.  It's the perfect shade of slightly-off-white that pairs well with any accent color. 


If you are minimalist, you can try painting the trim and ceiling in the same shade.  A monochromatic look like that is a great backdrop for displaying photos, artwork, etc.

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.

What wood trim or color trim would go with oak windows?

For just about any design, a clean white window trim can't be beat.  This aesthetic is perfect for any style.  You can actually purchase the trim yourself: simply visit your favorite home improvement store with measurements in hand and ask them to pre-cut the trim for you.  To make things even easier, pain the trim before you install.

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A1 Action Group LLC
856 Main St
Monroe, CT 06468