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Robert Lamoureux: Drywall repair needs to be done right

Posted: December 17, 2010 11:01 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2010 11:01 p.m.

Hi Robert,
I live in a condo where we had a leak into my garage. The plumbers fixed the leak.  Subsequent to that, they sent a drywall guy out, and I noticed when they had the ceiling open, it had two sheets of drywall that looked like it was more than 1-inch thick. It may be too late for me to bring this up now because the repair has already been made, but the person who did the repair only put one piece of drywall in place. I asked him about this, and he said one sheet of drywall would be fine. Standing in the garage it looks good, but it’s not the same as it was. I wanted to check with you to learn if this is OK. Why would the original builders go through the expense of a second piece of drywall if it wasn’t important? Thank you very much,
David C.

Hi David,
No, it’s not OK.
The double drywall as originally installed is a fire barrier between the garage and the upstairs to your home in case a car were ever to catch fire. With only one sheet, you don’t have that fire protection. 
Your ceiling has to be re-opened and done right. The tape lines cannot be stacked one on top of the other and both sheets must be taped independently of each other. 
You also need to make sure the insulation is replaced. 
What this repair person did is totally wrong and unprofessional and needs to be repaired properly.
Mr. Robert Lamoureux,
I wanted to offer you a heart-felt thank you! You really saved us a lot of time, money and aggravation.
I read your article on pavers last week. Coincidentally, we had just received a proposal from a contractor that I was looking over and probably would have signed had I not first found your column. You really changed my mind and saved the day. 
The company that was going to do the work had previously told me that, with the exception of sweeping the pavers off and keeping them clean, there would never be any need for maintenance. 
So now you’ve completely talked me out of having pavers installed in our community. I’d like to ask what would you do in this case? What other options are there? We are trying all we can to cut costs, so we are looking for a no maintenance, decorative and long lasting solution. Thank you,
Russell P.
Hi Russell,
If you’re looking for low- or no-maintenance with durability, go with a stampcrete. It’s concrete but there are some phenomenal things being done with it these days. They can mix up colors and stains to look like marble, granite or whatever you want. Then it’s stamped with different patterns to look exactly like stone, tile, pavers — even wood.  
If you want a low-maintenance, decorative look then stampcrete is probably your best bet. 
You can go less expensive with plain concrete, which can still be decorative if you bring in brick or stone ribbons. It’s all depends on what your budget will allow.
The only type of ribbon I would stay away from would be any type of sunwood. It is often used as expansion joints, but it just rots or sinks and after a while you have nothing but problems with any type of wood ribbon. 

Hello Robert,
During the last rain, I had drywall damage upstairs in my condo from a leak in the roof. The management company sent over a repairperson and got us all dried out and removed the wet drywall. After the repairperson left, I noticed a horizontal 2 x 4 in the corner where there are three other 2 x 4’s nailed into the top of it. It is rotted and coming apart. This area is next to our sliding glass door and moves a little when the door opens or closes.
I asked a board member if it was going to be changed. He said that since it was such a small area it would not be necessary, but he’s a restaurant manager not a contractor.
I’m asking you because it is all crumbly, and I can literally pull some of the wood off with my bare hands.
It seems to me that this is holding up part of my roof. Please let me know, thank you,
Deena J.

Hi Deena,
You’re referring to part of the sill plate under a three-corner post, and yes, it holds up any type of framework and is part of the structural integrity of the house. If it has rotted to the point that you can pick away wood with your fingers, then it absolutely needs to be replaced. I wonder if the restaurant manager had the same problem, would he not want to have it repaired?
It takes seven years of water exposure to rot timber. You were lucky the recent leak was large enough that it alerted you to this problem. Many times the leaks are so small that homeowners have no idea the framing is rotting away.
Based on the information you’ve given me — rotted sill plate under a three-corner post and upstairs so the slider leads to a deck, this is not going to be an easy fix. 
The contractor will have to remove and reset the slider, which will damage more interior drywall and exterior stucco, which will all have to be replaced and painted. The three-corner post and slope roof will have to be shored up to remove and replace the sill plate. Usually, with this type of repair, the deck also gets damaged because of the way it is usually integrated into the slider, so it will have to be repaired and resurfaced. You’re probably looking at close to $10,000 before it is all said and done, just to replace that 2” x 4”. 
You may want to write the members of the board and your property-management company and make sure they are all aware of what problems you are having with the roof and inside your home with the rotted sill plate. Start a paper trail. Document everything. Explain you have no intention of having this problem swept under the rug, and let them know you want the repairs to be made as quickly as possible.        
We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.
Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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