Is It Easier to Apply Flat Paint or Satin Paint?

Satin and eggshell paints tend to be more popular than flat (also called matte) paint.  The first two have a slight sheen; the second two have no reflective qualities at all.  Their look is a matter of personal taste.  But when applying them, which is easier?

Best Answer

Flat paint is easier to apply than satin and eggshell sheens because flashing (sheen inconsistency) is not an issue.


Though it looks great on your ceiling and walls, flat paint has a lot going against it.  It’s not the most popular paint sheen out there for a few reasons.  It’s difficult to clean.  It doesn’t stand up well against moisture, meaning you won’t be applying it in the bathroom.  it needs constant touching up.

However, flat does have one tremendous quality:  it is far easier to work with than any of the paints that have a sheen:  eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.

Less Resins = No Leading Edge to Worry About

When brushing or rolling paint that has any type of sheen, you need to be aware of the leading edge.  Working off of this wet leading edge (the last part that you painted) is key to a good finish.

Sometimes, when you let that leading edge dry, then try to work off of it later, a dull line develops where the old finish and new finish meet.  Sheen inconsistency is called flashing.

Flat paint has a greater pigment-to-resins ratio than all other paint sheens.  Resins help a paint resist water better, yet they are also the cause behind flashing.  With flat paint, you can essentially paint with abandon, without worrying about ending up with those dreaded start-and-stop marks on your wall.


By consulting perms, you can see the tremendous spread in resin content between flat paint and other sheens.  A perm is a standard unit that measures water vapor transmission.  Any perm rating above 1.0 means that the surface is not considered a water vapor barrier.

Barrier:  Yes

  • Epoxy-polyamide (gloss) 0.14
  • Alkyd semigloss 0.57

Barrier:  No

  • Latex semigloss 4.98
  • Alkyd flat 19.9
  • Latex flat 27.0



Mixing Still Required

Applying flat paint is not completely foolproof, though.  Like other paints, it still needs to be thoroughly mixed.  It is still possible, with flat, to create a difference between two areas of paint because pigment has been dispensed differently between the two.

Limited Scope of Discussion

Though I don’t usually remind readers of the topic of an article, in this case it’s important.  We are only discussing which is easier to apply, flat paint or satin/eggshell paint.  Post-application, the script is flipped.  Flat is far more difficult to maintain than eggshell, stain, semi-gloss, or glossy paints.

Best Sources

Company Site

Paint manufacturer Dulux discusses the moisture vapor transmission ratings, called “perms,” of several types of paint sheens.

Trade Forum

Professional painters in the forum Paint Talk discuss the difficulty of maintaining a wet edge (and preventing flashing) when working with eggshell sheen paint.

Can You Build Everything With Drywall Screws and Make Your Remodeling Easier?

Drywall Screw vs. Steel Screw

Drywall screws are plentiful and cheap.  Since they are used in great quantities, they come in great quantities–which means that they always seem to be at hand.  Can you build with drywall screws?  Or are they too weak for anything but hanging drywall?

Best Answer

Yes, you can use drywall screws for light building projects around the home.


It is heretical to say that drywall screws can be used for building.  If you’ve ever opened a box of drywall screws and seen the duds–heads snapped off in production and random bits of metal–this may give you some pause.

Snapping Off (Shear Strength)

True, drywall screws snap.  This cannot be denied.  With drywall screws, it’s all or nothing.  Either they’re holding or they have broken apart, unlike steel or brass screws or nails which bend before breaking.

Tension Pull-Out Strength

Some evidence shows that drywall screws have roughly half the tension pull-out strength of steel self-drilling screws.

Benefit vs. Risk

The benefit to you may outweigh the risk of using drywall screws to build with.  Benefits include:  they are inexpensive; coarse-threaded drywall screws easily pull into wood; driver grips screw heads well.  The risk is that your kitchen cabinet falls down.


Light Building Only:  Using drywall screws for any type of heavy building project, like framing a house or setting a beam to replace a load-bearing wall, would not be a good idea, to put it mildly.  Used in great numbers, the drywall screws would still likely have enough redundancy to hold up the roof or wall.  But given the safety issues, it’s just not worth it to go this route.

Indoors Only: Drywall screws have a black or gray phosphate coating that does not stand up to moisture well.  As Grabber Canada says, “Phosphate is a porous coating, which is usually applied in combination with oil. It is the lowest cost of all fastener finishes and as such, offers only a minimal barrier to corrosion . It is suitable for indoor applications only, where there is minimal chance of exposure to moisture.”

Impact vs. Resting Loads:  Because drywall screws have such a tendency to snap upon sharp impact, you would want to avoid using drywall screws for any building project that involves sharp movements.


Interfast Group, a fastener manufacturer, published some data about pull-out tension strength of their drywall screws vs. other types of their screws.

Matthias Wandel, a Canadian woodworker and former software engineer, takes a methodical, measured approach to the issue of drywall screw tensile strength and pulling ability.  He found that drywall screws snap off when hit by a hammer from the side and that they have good gripping strength.

Grabber Canada, a fastener manufacturer, offers some technical data about drywall screws’ strength.

Most opinions about the wisdom or not of using drywall screws for building are anecdotal, and go both ways.  One commenter on Sawmill Creek asks, “has anyone actually seen catastrophic failure from a cabinet installed with drywall screws?”  Another says, “I put the cabinets in my garage 20 years ago and hung them with drywall screws and have had zero problems.”


Contractor Grade Paint vs. Regular Paint: Which Is Better?

Dedicated paint stores offer different “contractor grade” or “builder grade” paints in addition to regular paints.  What’s the difference between these two types of paints vs. regular paint and is contractor/builder-grade paint worse than regular?

Best Answer

Regular paint is better than contractor/builder grade paint, though exceptions abound and it depends on your definition of regular paint.  The amount of solids differs in each paint.  More solids delivers more physical product to your surface.


Rarely do paint stores actually call these paints builder or contractor grade.  Sherwin-Williams, for instance, says of their ProMar® 200 HP Zero VOC Interior Acrylic Series that it is “made for the commercial or light industrial jobs,” which means the same thing.  Some manufacturers, like Benjamin Moore, avoid these designations altogether.

Solids volume and weight are by no means the sole determiner of quality.  However, it does make sense that you want more paint remaining on your surface after application.  Or to put it the reverse way, when you end up with less product on your surface, you have less coverage.

Sherwin-Williams Paint Solids

As an example, Sherwin-Williams paints greatly differ in terms of paint solids.  A sampling of 10 paints show that solids volume and weight differ greatly, with Harmony® Interior Acrylic having the greatest amount of solids and ProMar® 700 Interior Latex the least, at about 43% less solids than the Harmony.

Solids Volume % Solids Weight %
Interior Latex
43 61
Extreme Cover
™ Interior Stain Blocking
41 57
ProMar® 400
Zero VOC
Interior Latex
29 48
Duration Home®
Interior Latex
A96-1200 Series
41 54
Interior Latex
41 56
Interior Acrylic
44 62
Interior Acrylic
Flat Enamel
D16-150 Series
39 54
ProMar® 700
Interior Latex
25 33
Builders Solution™
Interior Latex
34 52
ProMar® Ceiling Paint
Interior Latex
29 47
ProMar® 200
Zero VOC
Interior Latex
34 52

All paints flat or matte, white or extra-white.  All are +/- 2%.


“Regular Paint”:  This is the word that qualifies so much of this answer, because “regular” is so malleable.  Regular paint can range from ultra high premium $78/gallon paint down to bargain $10/gallon paint.  So, you could still have a “regular” paint that is low in solids.  For example, Benjamin Moore’s ben brand interior flat latex has a solids volume percentage of 31.5%, lower than Sherwin-Williams’ ProMar 200, which is considered contractor-grade.

Voices / Ranking

Paint Is Paint, Right? by Jeff Stec, Southern Painting.  Stec discusses volume of solids in paint, saying, “[S]olids are what is left after the “solvent” (water in the case of latex paints) evaporates out of the paint. It stands to reason that paints with a higher percentage of solids in the bucket will cover better than paints with lower percentages of solids.”

Sherwin-Williams:  The company’s site is a good source for Product Data Sheets (PDS).

Will Tiling Without Grout Lines Make Your Tile Project Easier?

Grouted Tile

Ceramic and porcelain tiling is not an easy remodeling project.  But within that subject area, are there ways to make components any easier?  Specifically, how about eliminating that last step altogether and tiling without grout lines?

Best Answer

No, tiling without grout lines will not make your job easier.  Some aspects of the installation would be harder than you might think.  If you want the no-grout look, the best you can do is to install tile with micro-thin, 1/16 inch wide seams.


Grouting tile seems like an indignity.  After those previous painful steps–cement board, mortar, cutting, setting–now you have to take on yet another task:  grout.  On top of that, this is the final wet work stage that really visually matters.  If you mess this one up, your installation will look terrible.  So how about eliminating grout?

Rectified Tile Purchase Required

To start, if you were going to install tile with no grout lines, you would have to purchase rectified tile.  All major tile companies produce this, but it’s never their main product.  Instead of leaving the tile as-is after leaving the kiln, the edges are “mechanically finished” (sawed down) to create dimensions that are exactly the same from tile to tile and edges which are perfectly straight.

No Way to Seal the Seams

The main problem, though, would be that you have seams between the tiles that must be sealed in some way or another.  Even rectified tile perfectly, squared installed against each other will have seams.

No Wiggle Room

Tile installation is not a perfect thing; lines that begin straight mysteriously begin to veer off.  The solution for this is called tile grout.  Wider seams between the tiles allow you to ever-so-slightly readjust the tiles’ pathway, producing an illusion of straightness.  Tiles butted right up against each other allow you no wiggle room.  In fact, even tiles with a  1/16 inch seam are considered difficult to install because that micro-thin seam doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.

Sources / Trust Ranking

The Floor Elf:  Roger Lodwig, a Ft. Collins, CO-based tiler is one of the better voices out there about tiling because he’s a working tradesman and a good writer.  He says that “butting the tiles against one another…is not a recommended installation procedure.”

Rectifying the Misconceptions Associated With Rectified Tile and Narrow Grout Joint Installations, by Bill Griese, published in the Tile Council of North America’s lists many problems associated with narrow grout lines–and this doesn’t even include grout-less tiles directly butted up against each other.

Hemlock, Pine, or Oak for Stairs: Which to Choose For Railing, Treads, and Risers

Hemlock Board

Home improvement stores present you with only a few choices of stair materials for railing, treads, and risers.  Between hemlock, pine, and oak, which one is best to use?

Best Answer

  • Railing:  Hemlock
  • Stair Treads (Bare):  Oak
  • Stair Treads (Carpeted):  Pine or hemlock
  • Risers:  Any kind of wood of the right size



Hemlock and pine are softwoods; oak is a hardwood.  That’s the controlling idea behind this answer.  Because oak is harder than hemlock and pine, it will last longer under foot traffic on staircases.

Based on Janka wood hardness ratings, hemlock comes in at 500 lbf (pounds-force).  Both types of pine you would find on the consumer market, Eastern and Western White Pine, are softer than hemlock, both in the 380 to 420 lbf range.

In sharp contrast, red oak comes in at 1,290 lbf, making it about 2.5  to 3 times stronger than hemlock and pine when impacted.  Janka ratings, though, only measure the impact of a ball bearing when fired a test samples of wood.  Scuffing, scratching, and other activities that may affect stairs are not measured.

Carpeting will protect the stair treads from most traffic wear.


Red oak can give off needle-sharp splinters that are hard to sand out.  By contrast, pine and hemlock’s softwood qualities mean that it can be sanded down so that splinters disappear.  This makes them better for railing than red oak.


Cost can be an issue when it comes to stair treads and risers because you need to buy so many of them to construct an entire staircase.

On a pure board-lumber cost basis:

  • 1 in. x 6 in. x 6 ft. Hemlock Board:  $19.21 ($3.20 per linear foot)
  • 1 in. x 6 in. x Random Length S4S Oak Board:   $27 ($4.50 per linear foot)

Source:  Home Depot, 09/19/2017

This makes red oak about 34% more expensive than hemlock in those board sizes.  Because of this cost difference, you should use red oak only if you want them to stay bare (or a protective coating like polyurethane).  If you want to carpet your stairs, it makes more sense from a cost perspective to choose hemlock.

Tread board is a slightly different matter because they are not milled boards with 90 degree angle edges.  They tend to be 4 feet long to allow for nearly all stair widths and they have a bullnose on one side that forms the leading edge of the tread.

  • Red Oak Treads:  $6.42 per linear foot for 11-1/2 x 48 in. Red Oak Stair Tread (total cost $25.70)
  • Pine Treads:  $2.66 per linear foot ($10.63 total cost)

Source:  Home Depot, 09/19/2017

Pine treads will always be less expensive than red oak treads.


This answer is predicated on the idea that you are shopping for your wood at a franchise home improvement store like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, or the like.  With more wood choices, the answer above may differ.


Wood Handbook:  Wood As an Engineered Material, USDA, Forest Service

General information about hemlock and red oak.

Easy Way to Cover Chain Link Fencing

Reed Bamboo Fencing

Cover chain link fence and save the cost and misery of building an entirely new fence?  Sounds like a pipe dream.  But one of the few good points about chain link is that the posts are insanely rooted into the ground.  You can use this to your advantage, because it allows you to hang other fence on top of that chain link.

Chain Link:  Ugly as Sin, Easy to Correct

Chain link fence:  ugly stuff.  Nobody ever put up chain link for aesthetic reasons; it’s purely functional.  It keeps in the dogs and out the intruders.  Because chain link fence is unbelievably hard to remove–posts are set very deep and that floppy chain link is a bitch to handle–it’s often easier to cover it than remove it.

You’re looking for 6′ tall cover-ups, not 8′.  If you think you’re going to circumvent your local building code’s 6′ maximum fence height by adding a taller cover-up, forget it.  Fence code applies to those sneaky cover-ups, too, like foliage  So, to prevent your eyeballs from melting, here are ways to cover up chain link fence:

Large Rolled Bamboo Fencing

Rolled Large Bamboo
Rolled Large Bamboo

In a Word:  Bamboo

In a Few More Words:  This can best be characterized as “real bamboo,” not that reedy thin stuff.  Full-size bamboo–1″ minimum diameter–is expensive stuff.  Four 14-gauge steel wires running horizontally connect the poles into a mat.

Cost:  About $10.00 per linear foot for 6′ high, not including shipping.  If you cannot do the calculations, that’s $1,000 every 100 feet.  $1 per linear foot is cheap when compared to an all-new wood fence, expensive when compared to the other cover-up methods listed here.

Best:  Looks fantastic and gives you lots of woo-woo crunchy-granola street cred.

Worst:  You can see through it.  Large gaps between individual poles let neighbors see you nude sunbathing.

Where:  You will not find these larger pole bamboo screens at your run-of-the-mill garden shops.  Larger, more specialized nurseries may have them, though.  Online, try Cali Bamboo.

Smaller “Reed” Rolled Bamboo Fencing

Reed Bamboo Fencing
Reed Bamboo Fencing

In a Word:  Reed

In a Few More Words:  Called reed, this too is bamboo–just smaller.

Cost:  About $1.60 per linear foot for 6′ high from a local store like Home Depot.

Best:  So very cheap and easy to find.  It’s right there at your local store.  Also, because the reeds are thinner than full-size bamboo, each mat is lighter and easier to handle.

Worst:  They turn gray within a season.

Where:  Local home improvement stores and nurseries.

Fence Mesh Privacy Screen

Mesh Privacy Screen
Mesh Privacy Screen

In a Word:  Plastic

In a Few More Words:  They call this fence mesh, privacy screen, or fence windscreen.  You’ve seen it:  it’s the plastic mesh that covers up construction sites or the action at outdoor concerts so that nobody can see inside without paying.  Is this stuff right for your precious little home, though?

Cost:  Minimum of $1.44 per linear foot for 98% black mesh screen, based on a 50 foot order, including shipping.

Best:  You’ll have it up fast.

Worst:  What’s the worst, besides making your home look like the the loading zone behind a grocery store?

Where:   Numerous online sources, but most prominently  Watch out for their add-ons, though.

Best Way to Use Homax Wall Texture So That It Actually Works

For texturing small wall areas, Homax Aerosol Wall Texture is an easy way to go.  The more difficult alternative is the way professionals do it:  with a spray gun, hopper, and bags of dry texture mix.  By contrast, the aerosol type is self-contained.  But user-reviewers often complain about this product, saying it splatters and doesn’t produce the texture seen in Homax’s pictures.  What’s the easiest way to do this and still get a good texture?

Best Answer

Shake more thoroughly than you might imagine, keep the can warm, test outdoors on scrap material, and view results with a low-angle light.  And hang onto your store receipt so you can return it if necessary.


All those negative comments from users about Homax Wall Texture have some validity.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, Homax just will not spray a good texture.  That’s why you returning the product to the store is part of this technique:  don’t settle for cans that don’t work.

I’ve had more good experiences with Homax than bad experiences.   My tips will not produce perfect results 100% of the time, but you’ll greatly increase your chances of a good finish.

Shake It Forever

If you think you’ve shaken it long enough, you probably haven’t.  Shake the can for about 2 minutes.  You need to hear that ball freely clacking around inside of the can.

Keep the Can Warm

Success with Homax is all about temperature.  Any can from the cold or even cool outdoors should be brought indoors and left for about 2 hours before you even consider using it.  When Homax says “Sprays best between 68° F and 72° F,” you should believe them.

You can also warm it up under running warm water but don’t do this until you’ve test sprayed it on board (below) because it might be fine as-is.

Test-Spray Outdoors

Homax Wall Texture is extremely messy.  Its job is to be messy.  Use a dark piece of cardboard or the dark back of a scrap of drywall for this one.  Dark is better than light, because you won’t see the results as well on light surfaces.

Spray at a Distance

The 36 inch distance that Homax recommends is the distance you should start at.  I have found that farther away is usually better with these Homax texture products.

Check Texture With Light

Look at the texture in a dim place with a light held at a low angle.  This is the only way how you can see if the texture is correct.


I have never understood why a company allows negative product reviews on its site, but whatever–it benefits the rest of us.  Homax’s company site has some choice reviews of its products, along with a number of positive comments.  In general, it’s fairly well balanced.

  • “I purchased five different cans of the Pro Grade Knockdown texture and only one worked.”
  • “I bought two cans of this. One worked flawlessly. When I went for can two, the nozzle broke when removing the safety tab. I’ve reapplied the nozzle in a few different ways but absolutely nothing is coming out.”
  • “I needed to repair a relatively small area in a very visible wall. By following all the instructions and testing various spatters until I found just the right one, the product worked perfectly. I was able to match the existing orange peel spatter and paint the repaired area within an hour.”


Easy Way to Hang an Elite Electric Motorized Projector Screen

Elite electric motorized projector screens are difficult to hang because of their hidden hanger brackets.  Their weight and unwieldiness complicate matters.  Is there a simple and secure way to hang them?

Easy Answer

Create a wood backer plate that runs the length of the screen and attach metal braces at each end for the screen to rest on.


Bracket for Projector Screen

Projector screens can be hard to hang, due to their weight and floppiness, combined with the absolute need not to drop the screen, as you can permanently mess up their smooth scrolling ability.

Elite screens are difficult to hang because you cannot reach a drill into the bracket area in order to screw it onto the wall.  That’s after you somehow manage to lift and hold the screen into place.  You would also need to have two studs conveniently located at each screw point, which isn’t going to happen.

The solution is to make your own “wall” by running a wood board the length of the screen.  Then you don’t have to worry about stud spacing.  All you need to do is to attach that wood backer plate at three or more points along the wall.  Attaching the screen to the backer plate is a separate matter.


  • Real wood board like hemlock or pine the length of the screen or longer.  It should be a “one-by” board, like 1 x 4 or 1 x 6.
  • Metal corner braces, 3-inch (2), along with included screws
  • 1/4 inch size bolts (2) and nuts

Size Screen on Backer Board

Put the backer board on the ground.  Place the screen on top of the backer board so that the screen’s top is to the side.

Attach Metal Braces

Place the braces at each end, under the screen’s bracket.  Leave a tiny bit of wiggle room, but not too much (1/16 inch to 1/8 inch).

Attach Backer Board to Wall

Screw board onto wall, into at least 3 studs.

Place Screen on Braces

Locate the mid point of the screen.  Pick up screen near mid-point and lift it onto the braces.

Add Bolts

Put bolt upward through brace’s hole about 1/2 inch or higher.  Do this for both sides.




Is Flat Really the Best Paint Gloss for Ceilings?

All you hear when it comes to paint gloss (or sheen) for ceilings is flat.  When you buy a can of ceiling paint is automatically comes in flat–no other choices.  Is flat really the way to go?

Best Answer

Yes.  If you had to pick just one sheen, flat would be the one that universally works for all rooms of the home.


Flat or matte paint sheen cuts down on ceiling reflection.  While there are exceptions to be made (below), flat tends to be the one sheen that universally works for most ceilings.  Also, because ceilings run continuously from room to room, with no division points (such as doorways and trim), it is difficult to change sheens throughout the house.  So, it is best to stick to one sheen.


  • “Universal” Means Democratic:  And in a democratic society, there will be winners and there will be losers.  The loser, in this case, would be the bathroom ceiling, where flat seems to be a farm for mold and mildew.  This is one room you would want to paint in semi-gloss or glossy paint.
  • When You Have Bumpy Textures:  If you have a textured ceiling, using a flat sheen can be detrimental.  Textured ceilings–popcorn, knock-down, or otherwise–can trap cobwebs, dust, and other debris.  Using a paint with an eggshell or satin sheen can help with cleaning the ceiling.
  • When You Want Effect:  You can also paint the ceiling in higher glosses for dramatic effect.  One blogger notes that she accidentally ordered Benjamin Moore Pearl sheen, and it made her ceiling look higher.  One designer said that she used a high-gloss sheen simply for dramatic effect.


Sources pretty much resoundingly say flat–truth or are they just parroting what others say?  Because the paint manufacturers will tell you whatever it takes to sell paint, I was especially interested in what DIYers, designers, and architects said.

Life of an Architect

“…you should always paint the ceiling with a flat finish.”

Designing Solutions

Flat.  “Painters once used semi-gloss finishes on kitchen and bath ceilings, thinking it would hold up better and show less staining from moisture and cooking…”

Maria Killiam

“Bottom line, use flat for ceilings–unless you are designing something very dramatic, like [a] high gloss ceiling.”

For the Love of a House

“… sheen between an eggshell and a semi-gloss” because “the ceiling with the sheen looks 2 inches taller!”

Can You Legally Do Your Own Electrical Work?

Electrical repairs and remodels are expensive because electricians themselves are expensive.  Can a homeowner legally do his or her own electrical work and get a permit?


Yes, as a non-electrician, you can do most of the same work that an electrician would do and receive a permit for that work.


In most places, homeowners who are owner-occupants can do their own electrical work.  This saves money and it saves from getting caught up in an endless backlog at times when electricians are in high demand.

But you will need to work under an electrical permit.  Your jurisdiction, whether city, county, state, or other, wants to know what you are doing, and the permit process allows them oversight.  In some places, you first need to take a homeowner’s electrical exam; in other places, you can begin the work as soon as you pull the permit.

Electrical Permits for Owner-Occupants

Locate Permitting Agency:  Electrical permitting might happen at any level, whether it be city, county, or state.  Even within one state, permitting might happen on different levels.  For example, in my state, most permitting is done at the state level.  But my city is an exception:  they do their own permits.

Pay the Money and Pull the Permit:  Your first contact with the jurisdiction might be as simple as initiating the permit online and paying the fee by credit card, a process nicknamed pulling the permit.   Permit costs scale according to how much work you are doing, usually from $50 to $150.  You will immediately be given the go-ahead to begin work.

Perform the Work:  Do your electrical work, keeping it exactly within the confines of the permit.

Call For Rough-In and Prepare:  Go online or call your jurisdiction to set up an appointment for the rough-in inspection.  An inspector will come by your house and you must be there to receive him or her.  Clear all obstructions from the area, so that the inspector can see the work.  Provide adequate light that is independent of any circuits you are dealing with in the inspection.

Rough-In Inspection:  Leave all wires uncovered by insulation or drywall.  Leave off all devices (outlets, heaters, lights, etc.).  The inspector wants to see the wire running through the walls or floors.  The inspector may require that you make certain changes to your work prior to the final inspection.

Make Changes and/or Cover Up:  If the inspector requires changes, make them and call for a new inspection.  If, instead, you pass, you are now allowed to cover the walls or floors with drywall.  Wire in the devices.  Do not mud the walls yet or begin painting, in the unlikely event that you need to open up the walls again.  This should not happen, though, as this was the purpose of the rough-in inspection.

Call For Final Inspection:  Go online or make a call to set up the final inspection.

Final Inspection:  Inspector will check devices and, if you pass, will “final out” your permit.

How Homeowners Can Pass Inspection

Inspectors Are Not Always Non-Biased:  Inspectors may have conflicting views on owner-occupants who do their own work.  Some hate the idea of this and will put up obstacles.  Others want to be helpful, understanding that it is a rare breed of homeowner who actually pulls electrical permits.  Both exist.

Inspection, Not Education:  Don’t expect a lesson in how to be an amateur electrician.  While the inspector may volunteer a tip or two, this isn’t about giving advice on wiring your home.

It’s About the Code:  Electrical code is your friend, at least in terms of passing your inspection.

Limited Time:  Inspectors’ time is limited.  Your house is just one worksite in many that they will visit that day.

Diplomacy:  Qualified electricians may have enough experience to challenge inspectors, but most homeowners do not.  If you believe you are in the right, bring it up as diplomatically as possible.


Localities:  The most important qualifier is whether or not your own area allows owner-occupants to do their own electrical work.

Other Homes:  Generally, you are allowed only to work on your own home.

If You Hire Out:  The person doing the repairs needs to be an electrician.

New Construction:   Often this is limited to remodel work, not new-construction.


This Old House

“Most municipalities allow you to do your own electrical work, though you’re never allowed to wire someone else’s home.”

Ask Jon Eakes

“…almost all work performed in new construction must be undertaken by licensed plumbers and licensed electricians.”