Tim Allen and Richard Karn played Tim and Al

A ‘Home Improvement’ Father’s Day: Are You a Tim or an Al?

This Father’s Day, we ask: Are you a shoot-from-the-hip DIYer, like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, or are you a skilled craftsman, like his sidekick Al Borland?

When it comes to DIY, are you like Al Borland or Tim Taylor? Image: Stewart Cook/Rex Features/Courtesy Everett Collection and Michael Germana/Everett Collection

Who are you: The guy who carefully plans home improvement projects, like Al Borland, or the guy who wings it, like Tim Taylor? We love Tim, but here’s how to plan like Al so you’ll get things done on time, save money, and stay safe beyond Father’s Day.

Dishwasher upgrade

Tim decides that pre-rinsing dishes is a pain, so he installs an extra-powerful sprayer that not only gets rid of food residue, but blows the dishes out the back of the dishwasher.

What would Al do? Al would’ve done his homework and bought a new dishwasher with a variable-speed motor that increases pressure for pots and pans, but decreases it for more delicate china. A longer wash setting takes care of extra-dirty dishes, while a shorter one for less serious messes saves energy.

Rusty screws

When penetrating oil doesn’t loosen some rusted screws on Al’s old tricycle, Tim brings out the blowtorch. Charred tricycle, anyone?

What would Al do? Al is far too careful to ever strip a screw, but if he did, he’d know to visit the 99-cent store for a cheap but effective solution for dealing with a stripped screw. By the way, Al knows how to handle a torch to avoid house fires, a skill set that includes:

  • Keeping flammable materials away from the stovetop.
  • Never using loose or damaged electrical cords.
  • Keeping matches away from children.
  • Having a working fire extinguisher in the home at all times.

Loose deck boards

Tim talks about posts, beams, and joists while Al labors away on a new deck. But when Tim doesn’t bother to check if the deck boards are fastened down, a can of deck sealer goes airborne.

What would Al do? Al wouldn’t walk on loose decking until everything was properly fastened. No doubt Al would choose hidden deck fasteners — they hold planks down while preserving the sleek look of the wood. And after keeping the sealer out of Tim’s reach, Al will use it to make the deck impervious to the elements. If he picks a clear sealer or toner, he’ll recoat the deck annually.

Snake in the house!

Got a scaly guest in the house? Don’t do what Tim did: Rip out a light fixture to try and grab the snake, only to have it set up camp inside his shirt.

What would Al do? Al would’ve made sure there are no gaps or cracks through which snakes could enter his home, and of course he wouldn’t have any mice around for snakes to eat. He’d never try to touch it with his bare hands, since even non-poisonous snakes can pack a nasty bite, and would have used a broom to gently brush it out the door, or a box to trap it and release it outside. The best move: Call a professional exterminator.

Too-slow lawn mower

Maybe Tim’s jet-powered lawn mower can cut a football field in 11 seconds, but the out-of-control mower also takes out an unsuspecting nearby fence.

What would Al (or Bob) do? If Al wanted to mow a yard in a hurry, he’d bust out a calculator to map out the most efficient mowing pattern. In fact, the environmentally conscious Al might have sacrificed speed and rigged his lawn mower to an energy-saving bicycle or powered it with a solar panel.