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Blue Board and Plastering vs Sheetrock and Joint Compound

4 Mar


Blue board and Plastering vs Sheetrock and Joint Compound

Many homes throughout the Northeast, typically built before the 1950s, have walls that are constructed of horsehair plaster. Once, this was a cheap, easy and long-lasting way to obtain smooth walls in the USA. However, if you fast-forward to the present time, it’s clear to see that the trade has since perfected the techniques and materials used to construct and plaster walls. Today, we can choose between blue board and plaster or drywall and joint compound.

Deciding between the two options can be complex. The two main materials – drywall and blue board, are very similar in terms of appearance and texture. It seems that the only true difference may be the basics of the product. Drywall is gray, and blue board is blue. However, there is much more to these materials then may originally meet the eye. Below, I will discuss the properties of both options, to help you make a more informed decision.

The Basics of Blue Board

Typically, blue board will be treated to ensure that plaster sets and dries in a uniform manner. The face of the blue board needs to be completely plastered in order to provide a suitable surface for painting. Plaster itself is a durable material that is fantastic for areas that experience a large amount of traffic. Furthermore, as a substance, it is effective at eliminating irregularities in the surface of a wall, such as nail dimples, and board seams.

The Basics of Drywall (Sheetrock)

Similarly to blue board, drywall is also carefully treated to ensure that joint compound adheres well to the surface. However, the entire board does not need to be covered to provide an adequate surface texture. Drywall that has been mixed with joint compound can be carefully sanded without causing a great deal of damage to the board itself, after which the surface can be painted. When it comes to using joint compound, you may need to utilize several coats, and seams or nail dimples can begin to show after a certain period of time. One of the major downfalls of joint compound is that, unlike plaster, it creates a large amount of dust.

What’s right for you?

In the end, most people regard blue board and plaster to be the superior product for home renovation and design, however it is more costly to obtain. The best thing that you can do is approach your next project with the appropriate research and caution. Weigh both options accordingly, and take the time to decide which method is right for your home.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit

False Fire Alarms At Your Home

27 Jun

False Fire Alarms


I personally get a number of calls throughout the year from people asking about home fire alarms. Most of the time, these alarms are the combination carbon monoxide and fire detectors, and the units are relatively easy to install, providing essential protection in the event of carbon monoxide build-up or a sudden fire.

The issue that most people experience with the “kidde” combination units, is that they regularly go off in the middle of the night for no reason, whether you’re watching television or trying to get to sleep. After experiencing the same problem myself, I decided to perform a close analysis of the instructions – something that most people fail to do.

Every fire alarm is different. Aside from simply having different features, some fire alarms also come with different methods for testing the unit itself. With a “kidde” combination fire and carbon monoxide detector, it is possible to test the unit by simply pressing and holding the “test” button. However, you can also test the system using your television remote.

If your Alarm Goes off in the Middle of the Night


The instructions suggest that if your alarm is spontaneously going off without any apparent cause, there are a number of things you should consider. First of all, find out if any garages in your area use remote-control, or if people in your neighborhood use automatic starters for their vehicle. If you disable the infrared (IR) control feature on your alarm, you may be able to experience a much sounder sleep, without worrying about your alarm waking the whole household.

False Fire Alarm

  • Instructions on how to disable your IR remote control on your fire alarm.

If disabling the infrared doesn’t work, the problem may be that your unit has started to age. Typically, a fire alarm will last for between five and seven years unless otherwise stated on the packaging. Some units will provide a signal which informs you when you should replace your product.

Usually, the biggest favor that you can do for yourself when maintaining any important device is reading the instructions that come with it. Knowing exactly how a product works can be essential, especially if that product has an impact on the safety of your home, and family.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit


Greenboard vs Durock

8 Jun

Greenboard vs Cement Board


“I like using Greenboard because it’s waterproof.” I hear statements like this all of the time, but the truth is that Greenboard, also referred to as “Aquabloc” is not actually waterproof at all, it is merely “water resistant”. Contractors and home-owners make similar mistakes regarding the products they’re using on a regular basis. The only real way to know which option is the best for you, is to take a close look at both products.



The composition of greenboard is the same as drywall. Both products are sold in 4’x8’ boards, and the center of both boards is constructed using gypsum, a porous material. The only difference between greenboard and drywall is the green “water resistant” coating. If the paper on that board is cut or damaged, water can easily penetrate the center of the board, leading to mold and mildew. Personally, I find this product to be inadequate for wall tile and flooring applications, yet a lot of home owners and contractors continue to use it for its low cost and ease of use. While demolishing bathrooms, I have regularly encountered wet, moldy and poor quality Greenboard.


Image result for durock

Durock and Wonderboard, on the other hand, is water-durable and mold-resistant. After working with this product myself and performing numerous demolitions in many bathrooms, I have yet to discover durock that is damaged or moldy. Although the substance may be harder to cut, heavier, and slightly more expensive, it is far more resistant to water, and durable than greenboard.

The next time you see a contractor using greenboard, don’t be afraid to ask him what the difference is and see what he says. If you have a choice for your home, always go for the better product. It may initially cost a little more, but it will also make a world of difference to the durability of your home. In a bathroom, it is especially important, and it can also be used in damp basements, too. In the past, I’ve cut a piece of Durock 5” high, or higher and fastened it to the bottom of the wall, before starting blueboard on top of that. After it is plastered (using a product called Weldabond), I would add my baseboard as normal. Because of this, if you ever got water or flooding in your basement, the most you would have to do is remove your baseboard.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit

Preparing For Home Improvements

15 Nov

Preparing for Home Improvements


Massachusetts has one of the most stringent codes for building in the United States. With so many important limitations and guidelines to consider, you may benefit from having a list of essential preparations to guide you, before you start tearing into your bathroom or kitchen.

  1. File a Permit

First of all, make sure that you ask your licensed contractor to file a building permit at your local building or inspectional service office. Usually, these locations will open their doors in the mornings between 8am and 10am, as well as on the afternoon between 3pm and 4pm. However, it is worth calling into your local office for the exact hours of operations. The professionals you find here will offer an insight into what you need for a successful permit.

  1. Create a Plan

You will need to provide a sketch as a visual guide for any alterations and design decisions being made within your chosen room. Generally, your licensed contractor will ask you a number of specific questions, including which appliances you plan to have installed, so that they can be sure to give you the best possible results. By planning ahead and considering everything you will need in advance, you will save time, and ensure that there are no miscommunications between yourself, and your contractor. Remember, your contractor will need:

  • A valid Construction Supervisors License (CSL)
  • A Home Improvement Contractor license (HIC)
  • A Worker’s Compensation Insurance Affidavit form

To protect yourself and your interests, don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a Certificate of Insurance to prove that he and his company are insured.

  1. Get The Right Paperwork

Your contractor will be required to present either a contract with your signature, and/or a permit that has been approved and signed by you. This is intended to ensure that you are authorizing all work to be performed, as well as confirming your agreement to pay for the project. The cost of the project will generally determine the cost of the permit. Typically, this amounts to around $10 for every $1000 of construction. If your kitchen remodeling project was estimated to cost approximately $35,000, the cost for your permit will be around $350.

Remember, this will not be the only time you are charged a fee to access a permit. You’ll also need to pay for the plumbing and electrical permit too. Typically, the contractor you choose to hire for plumbing and electrical maintenance will add the fee for permits to their completely price.

However, it’s worth finding out what your complete cost will be upfront. Fees can vary from one city to the next, so consider checking with your local building department ahead of time to stay informed.

Most of the time, depending on how quickly your local inspector can write your permit, you will be able to start your project the very next day.

By following these three simple steps, you can be sure that your project will run smoothly and successfully.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit

Kitchen Remodeling

15 Nov
  • Kitchen Remodeling 

    Remodeling your kitchen from scratch is potentially one of the biggest investments that you can make into your home. Kitchen remodeling is among the most popular projects that homeowners engage in, as kitchens can easily be transformed into the activity hub of the entire home. Although these projects are costly, and require a great deal of effort and planning, it’s worth remembering that they also add significant value to your home. To prepare for the chance, you’ll need to consider whether your appliances will be changing along with your cabinets, or whether you may remove a wall to create an open concept kitchen and dining room. Whatever you choose to do, the success of your project hinges on hard work and dedication. Here are a list of things worth considering before you take the plunge and hire a contractor.

    Choose the Right Materials


    Visit your local kitchen cabinet showroom and start planning the brand, color, style and accessories that you feel are right for your new kitchen. Remember, you should never start any demolition until you have gathered all of the materials you are going to need. Just some of the things you will need for a kitchen remodeling project include:

    • Countertops (granite, marble, etc.)
    • Flooring (hardwood or tiles)
    • Appliances (if you choose to replace them)
    • Lighting (low voltage, recessed, under cabinet, etc.)
    • Sinks and faucets
    • Pulls and knobs for kitchen cabinets

    At first, getting all of these things organized may not seem like much of a chore, but once you have begun to combine colors and styles the final project may start to seem overwhelming.

    Choose Your Contractor


    No matter how much you may excel at personal DIY, it’s important to recognize that kitchen remodeling is a challenging task, which will require the input of experts. You may be working with removing walls and old cabinets, installing new flooring, repairing the ceiling, adjusting the lighting, and even changing the plumbing and heating systems. To get the best deal, consider calling three separate contractors and asking for quotes regarding the work you’ll need. Have the contractor provide you with prices for framing, demolition, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, flooring, and mechanical needs separately.

    Although separating all of these items may seem like giving yourself extra work, it will give you the information that you need to compare prices and find the perfect deal. If one contractor charges more than the other two for demolition, find out why this is, as he may have a valid reason. Once you have all of your prices, you will be equipped to ask the right questions.

    When it comes to selecting a contractor, you may also benefit from finding references to inform your decision. Do some research and call your local building department to ask any questions you may have about a certain contractor. You can even search online for reviews, but remember that bad reviews do not necessarily mean that the contractor is bad, it’s worth giving them a chance to explain so that you can come to your own conclusions.

    Sign the Contract and Make a Schedule


    When you have chosen the contractor that is right for you, you will be given a contract to sign. If the company or individual you choose does not provide this contract, make sure that you have one written up before work commences. Check local laws to find out what the maximum amount for a deposit should be. Usually, if you have selected a good contractor with good credit, 10-15% should be enough to get you started.

    Next, correspond with your contractor and make a schedule for the work to be completed in. It’s worth remembering that sometimes the times your contractor is available may conflict with your schedule, and some companies may also work at night, so be sure you are agreed on times from the very beginning.

    Plan and Coordinate


    Acquire a design of your kitchen from your architect or kitchen designer so that your contractor has a detailed plan to follow. You should also give the name and contact details of your designer to the contractor so they may communicate if any problems arise. Issues can quite easily emerge in a remodeling project, but your designer and contract should be able to straighten them out together.

    Once the plan has been established, you’ll need to coordinate with your contractor regarding the products he will need to complete the work, from flooring to sinks, kitchen cabinets and faucets. Be sure that everything your contractor is going to need is ready and available to access. You may also find that it’s useful to inform the contractor about the products you’re purchasing before you buy them, as he or she will be able to give you advice on whether that product will fit, or is approved by your local inspector. If you’re switching appliances, create photo copies of the installation manuals so that your contractor can review clearance and installation requirements whenever necessary.

    Finally, sit back and enjoy the process of watching your brand new kitchen emerge. The schedule may not always work as planned, and you’re likely to experience frustration and stress from time to time, however, the important thing is for you to have control of the project, and a full understanding of what is going on.

    For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit