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Quick-to-Build Garage Shelves Dear James: We live in a condo with limited storage. My husband agreed to clean the garage if I build storage shelves. I am a novice DIY'er, but I want to show him I can do it. I need some tips. — Marge W. Dear Marge: It sounds like your …Read more. Use Drain Cleaners for Clogs Dear James: Our house is not even 10 years old yet and we are starting to get occasional clogs in the drains. Do you think that the plumbing was not done correctly? What drain cleaners are best to use? — Patty H. Dear Patty: Without inspecting …Read more. Seal Blacktop Driveway Properly Dear James: Our house is four years old, and the blacktop driveway looks like it needs to be resealed. What is the best type of sealer to use on it, and are there any special techniques to apply it? — Jen F. Dear Jen: As with people, looks can …Read more. Add an Easy-to-Build Bedroom Closet Dear James: My clothes seem to be reproducing, and there is little room in the bedroom closet for my husband's things. He is threatening a trip to Goodwill. How can I build a simple second closet? — Joan Dear Joan: Building a second closet …Read more.
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Buying a Ladder

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Dear Pat: I need to get some tools for my new home, and I think a ladder would be a good place to start? What are my options for ladders, and are different ones better for different tasks? — Polly M.

Dear Polly: Selecting a ladder is about the best place to begin because, until you start doing some projects around your house, you will not realize how often you use a ladder. When you visit your home center store, you will be surprise at the array of ladder options.

Actually, most people, particularly women, should use ladders more often. A tall, strong man can sometimes get by without a ladder by reaching. If you are not as strong, swinging a hammer overhead in an off-balance position can easily result in a strained back or worse.

The two basic types of ladders are step ladders and extension ladders, and you will need one of each. Step ladders are used primarily, but not always, indoors, and extension ladders are used outdoors.

Four-in-one ladders (often called Gorilla ladders) that can be adjusted to create step or extension ladder configurations are also available. These ladders are quite versatile. A big advantage of one is when using it in the step ladder configuration. In effect, there is a step ladder on each side, so someone else can help with overhead projects.

A 6-foot-tall step ladder is a good size for the majority of the jobs around your home. Eight-foot ones are available, but they are heavier and more difficult to store indoors. Next time you are visiting a discount store, get an inexpensive two-step ladder with a handrail that will fit in a kitchen closet.

Many times, you need just an extra foot or two of reach.

Standard extension ladders are 20 feet long, but because of the overlap, the usable length is only 17 feet. With a tall roof, you may need a longer one. Also keep in mind, if you are planning to use it to get on your roof, it will have to extend 2 feet above the gutter for you to safety step on and off the roof.

The three material choices for a ladder are wood, aluminum and fiberglass. Wood is an excellent material, particularly for a step ladder. It is heavier than the other two materials. This makes it more stable, but not too heavy to handle. Wood is not a good conductor, so it is fairly safe when working around electrical wiring.

Aluminum is an excellent material for both step and extension ladders. It is lightweight and can be stored outdoors without deterioration from the weather. Some inexpensive aluminum step ladders are almost too lightweight for stability, so select a good-quality one.

Fiberglass has become the most popular ladder material. It is slightly heavier than aluminum, but still manageable to handle. Fiberglass is extremely strong, does not conduct electricity and is resistant to the weather. It is somewhat more expensive than the other two materials, but it will last a lifetime.

Whenever using a ladder, consider some basic safety precautions. If possible, have a helper steady any ladder you are using. Make sure the ladder feet are on a solid surface. There is tremendous stress on the ladder feet. If one or more settle, it and you will tip over.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about Pat Logan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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