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Super Handyman:

There are several different types of ladders, but reaching the highest levels usually is done with an extension ladder. They are made to be strong and safe. But we have some super tips to make your extension ladder both safer and more practical.

One simple add-on is just a rubber band or two, slipped over the top rails of the ladder. This will give you a neat way to hold lightweight items like rags, tools and other things.

Most rungs on these ladders are hollow tubes. You can stick a dowel into the end of a rung so that just a little is sticking out. You can hang a paint can on this, among other things.

“S” hooks can be used over the rungs to hold additional items. If you do this, you just need to make sure you don’t accidentally slip on these as you climb up and down the ladder.

If you need to rest your ladder against a surface like the side of your house, slip some socks over the top of the rails to keep from scuffing or scratching the surface.

Make sure you place the legs of your ladder on solid ground. You can add to the stability by placing the ladder on a rubber mat or setting the feet into shallow tin cans. You even can place a stake between the wall and the base of the ladder, and strap the ladder to this. The base should be placed about 1/4 of the distance away from the wall as the height of the ladder.

Add a screen door handle to the side. It can hold things or you can hold onto it as you work.

Another add-on can be a wall-mounted toothbrush holder. This can be mounted directly to the side of the ladder, and could be a great place to hold things.

Whatever changes you make, be sure you don’t prevent the ladder from operating safely as designed. Be safe when working without a net!


Q: We put down vinyl flooring in our basement years ago. We figured it was the best sealing material for that area. We use the basement mainly to store things in and as a makeshift workroom. The past couple of years, I’ve started to see some large dark spots appearing on the floor. They seem to be coming from underneath the floor. Is this a moisture problem, or what? Can it be fixed? – N.A.

A: Yes, most of the time it is due to moisture, probably coming through the concrete. There is no way to repair the existing flooring, but it is an indication that you need to resolve your leakage issue before it gets worse. At least you have some warning, and the flooring will prevent the moisture from getting into the room temporarily. But you do need to tackle the bigger problem.


We found some easy to use furniture restorer worth trying. It’s called Restor-a-Finish. It blends out scratches, restores color and shine, revives faded finishes, and even can remove water rings and white marks. It can be used on a wide variety of woods and comes in several colors to match. Steel wool can be used with the material for resolving some issues, but that’s about as much of a tool as you’ll need. It can save you a lot of time and effort and money when trying to return an old furniture finish to a nice look again. Check it out online at You can find a dealer through the website as well. It is available at many hardware stores, too.