Creaking floors may be tightened up and silenced by toeing-in nails at an angle as illustrated. As a rule the creak develops from loose board-ends where the butts rub together under a load.
Stairs frequently suffer from the same complaints as the floors, namely, the wood of which they are made shrinks with age, and the stairs creak and groan under ordinary use. Stairs are complicated things. They are not only nailed together, but they are also glued, dovetailed, mortised and wedged.
When you walk up a stair, the surface you step on is the "tread," the flat vertical surfaces separating the treads are the "risers." Most of the creaking developed in a stair is caused by loosening of the joint where the edge of the tread is fastened to the top of the riser. This can be cured by toeing in wire nails down through the tread so that they sink into the riser. Each tread should receive five nails, driven in at opposing angles.
The average noisy staircase will quiet down when the treads are more firmly secured to the top edge of the risers as shown.
If the hand rail is loose, it can easily be seen where the trouble lies, and one or two long nails should secure it properly. If the balusters seem loose, they can be firmed up with two angle-driven nails at the bottom and two under the rail.
The doors in any house are apt to cause trouble at times. As a rule this is caused by a slight settling of the house which warps the door-frame out of a perfect rectangle. Fortunately, there will always be rub marks to show just where they bind, and a slight sand-papering will be enough to ease them up. (Note that when you are using sandpaper, it is twice as effective if you wrap it around a block of wood.) If the rub should be at the top or bottom instead of at the sides, you may have to take the door down. There is nothing particularly hard about this, as the average door has two hinges, each with three or four screws in it, and you simply take out the screws and the door will come out of the frame. If quite a lot has to be taken off the top or bottom edge of the door, you can use a medium-coarse file first, and follow that up with the sand-papering.
A door that will not stay closed when you shut it can be a very annoying thing. The usual cause of this, is that the small tongue of the lock fails to slip into the square hole in the striking-plate on the door-jamb. If you will bend down and watch the tongue slide over the striking-plate as you close the door slowly, you can see by just how much it misses the square hole, and whether the striking-plate has to be moved up or down, forward or back. As a rule it will only need to be shifted a fraction of an inch one way or the other. Nine times out of ten, you will be able to set the edge of a screw-driver against the edge of the plate and tap it far enough in the right direction. As the plates are always set into the jamb, you will not have much leeway, and you may have to reset the plate.
On rare occasions you may find that a door will not stay closed because the tongue is too far away from the striking-plate. This may be caused by the door shrinking or the door-frame spreading. The cure for this is very elementary. You unscrew the hinges and place one or more thicknesses of cardboard behind the leaf of the hinge that is fastened to the door-frame. Then you fasten the hinges in place again. What you have done is simply to move the door over closer to the striking-plate.
Most houses develop window trouble every once-in-awhile. Usually it consists of a window which will not open because the sash has warped or because the house has settled enough to jam it. The first thing to know about windows, is that you should not try to pry or jimmy them open from the inside. If you do, you will mar the woodwork and have a job of evening-off and painting the window sill. Windows that are stuck should be opened from the outside, where you can get a wedge or a chisel under the sash. Before you commence the prying-up, grease the runners between which the sash slides, with an application of ordinary vaseline. It is the best window lubricant in the world, and many know-how homeowners take a small brush and paint a little vaseline on the casing and partingstrips of the windows every year. If the above remedy will not make the window operative, you will have to resort to scraping the grooves out with coarse sand-paper until the window will slide easily.
Many bathrooms are tiled, and many owners of tiled bathrooms know how badly they look when a tile falls out of the wall. At the same time, it is quite expensive to call in a tile-setter for such a small job. Ordinary gluing or pasting will not keep a tile in place; it must be set in plaster-of-paris. The correct procedure is to chip off every bit of old plaster from the back of the tile, and place it in water. The space out of which the tile fell must also be thoroughly cleaned out. You then mix a cupful of plaster-of-paris with enough water to make a very thick paste; not soupy; really thick. You put two gobs of the paste, about the size of a silver dollar and a half-inch thick, on the wall, and then shaking the water off the tile, you press it back in place and hold it there for about five minutes. Plaster-of-paris sets up very rapidly, and in five minutes the tile will be in place for good. You then mix up a small amount and fill the seams around the edges of the tile. You have to Work fast, and wipe all excess plaster off the face of the tile before it sets.
The same procedure is followed for loose tiles in bathroom floors, or for the tiles in front of fireplaces. Where color is involved, you will have to touch up the white plaster to match the surroundings.
You frequently see a perfectly good linoleum floor that is slowly going bad because the edge near a doorway is being broken away bit by bit. The wrong thing to do is to keep on tacking or nailing it down. When linoleum starts to break, you either have to make a clean cut and insert a new piece, which you cement securely to the floor, or you have to put on a metal edge. Metal edging is the best job of the two. It can be bought in any hardware or linoleum store, and all you have to do is to take an accurate measurement, and then screw the edging into place. When the seams in a linoleum floor open, you should not nail them. You should slip linoleum cement under the edges, using a thin knife-blade, and then press it down, and leave a heavy weight on the area for a day and a night. A flat piece of board with a pailful of water on top of it, makes an ideal weight.
Composition wall-board is practical and proper as a finish in certain types of homes. It will take any amount of painting and has much insulating value. Plywoods are coming into great use as an interior finish. They are adapted for use in ultra-modern homes of the type shown below. (See Chapter VII.)