Let's face it, we neophyte remodelers know so little. What kind of fasteners are compatible with synthetic roofing underlayment? Can you put tile backer board over OSB? Or is plywood better as a base? What is best window flashing?
So many questions. So little innate wisdom.
So what if you were a fly on the wall in room full of professional remodelers who were talking about the materials they use, the best way to install them and the best tools to use? Don't you think you'd learn an awful lot?
Well, an opportunity like this is available to you on the contractor forums sponsored by the Journal of Light Construction. Unlike most flashy magazines whose primary objective is, was and always has been to make money, this magazine was started decades ago to disseminate construction wisdom peer-to-peer. So instead of having articles written by journalists like me who know very little, the magazine asks real workers in the field to write articles. (Yes the articles need more editing that average, but it's the content that matters.)
As we entered the digital age, JLC, as it's fondly known, went online at JLCOnline (tagline: Where contractors go to work on the web), and eventually created forums for readers to talk amongst themselves. The forums are separated into various topics, like Ceramic Tile, Finish Carpentry, Exterior Details, etc., and they are moderated by experts in their field. (Full disclosure: My husband, Bill Robinson, moderates the Exterior Details forum. These moderators are not paid, but do it as a labor of love for a magazine so respected in the industry.)
You can go online and read the threads of discussions between experts as they puzzle out the various materials, techniques and tools that go into any project.
One warning: While you can eavesdrop on these pros, only professionals can participate. You cannot, as a homeowner, get involved in the discussion. This is not a place for you to ask questions or get free advice about your project.
Keeping that in mind, get on the forums, tune into the discussions, and get a ton of real-life, real-world education. Following are some of the forums:
Ceramic Tile (moderated by Michael Byrne)
Drywall & Finishes (moderated by Myron Ferguson)
Rough Framing (moderated by Don Dunkley and Mike Sloggatt)
Finish Carpentry (moderated by Gary Katz)
Exterior Details (moderated by Bill Robinson)
Building Science (moderated by Mike O'Handley)