Handyman on Call

Is oak flooring OK for the kitchen?

Q. What do you think about using white oak hardwood for a kitchen floor? I’m considering replacing the vinyl in the kitchen, and wall-to-wall in the adjoining family room with hardwood, but I’m getting push-back from my adult children. They are concerned about water damage, especially from the dishwasher. They are suggesting ceramic tile for the kitchen.

FERNANDA, Westwood

A. How many times have you experienced a dishwasher overflowing or leaking water on the kitchen floor? A hardwood floor is A-OK in a kitchen. So, whether it’s white or red oak, install a prefinished floor in the kitchen and family room. You can still put area rugs in the family room, with plenty of oak showing. The finish is baked on and will last many years. A carpet under table and chairs might also be a good idea. If you opt for ceramic tile, that is good, too, and you don’t need a carpet.

Q. My fiance was cleaning some mildewed areas off the sides of my house and used a mixture that had bleach in it. The house looks great, but while spraying it clean, a mixture of bleach and water splashed onto my windows. I tried cleaning the windows but they are still spotted with bleach. Is there anything I can do to get the spots of bleach off the windows?

PEGGY KANE, Fitchburg


A. Try rubbing the glass hard with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Then rinse all windows thoroughly to get rid of any remaining bleach.

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Q. I have a concrete pagoda in my yard. The concrete is developing a white powder. I can brush it off, but it keeps coming back. Can I seal it?

W.H., Canton

A. That powdering is efflorescence, the leaching of lime out of concrete by water. It is harmless. Yes, you can seal it: One coat of a clear sealer will do it for a while.

Q. We are buying a house and planning to tear out a wall between kitchen and dining room. Is there a way to figure out if it is a weight-bearing wall?

GUEST, in Hotton’s chat room

A. To determine if the wall is weight bearing, you have to hire a structural engineer. Another way: Determine which way the joists run, top and bottom. (The joists are the small horizontal beams supporting the floor.) If the joists run at right angles to the wall, it is weight bearing, and you have to install a beam to replace the wall. If they are parallel to the wall, it is not weight bearing.


Q. I just bought a house that was built in 1820. It has aluminum siding. Do I want to know what is underneath?

WORRIED, in Hotton’s chat room

A. There is always the fear that the walls rotted under the siding. In most cases, not to worry. The siding was usually put over old siding, so there is a possibility that if you take off the aluminum there will be perfectly good wood siding that can be restored. And if the aluminum siding is in good shape and not too ugly, you can always paint it. Finally, if the aluminum was put on sheathing boards, there will be a smooth, even surface for putting on whatever you like.

Q. My fireplace has no flue liner. Is that something I could do myself with one of those kits to keep costs down?

MCD, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Have a chimney sweep or other specialist install a stainless steel liner. Don’t risk doing it yourself. It’s worth the considerable cost to make sure it’s safe and efficient.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@
) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to