Q. Last year we had a new deck installed, with pressure-treated wood. The contract calls for sealing the deck, then using a semi-solid stain. How long should we wait to seal and stain it?
We are also redoing our kitchen, and installed a heavy-duty hood vent, venting to the outdoors. We have a power-vented gas fireplace. Can we put the hood vent exhaust line into the fireplace power vent? In other words, can they share the power vent?
A. Normally you should wait six months to a year before sealing or staining a pressure-treated deck. Do not treat the deck with a sealer and do not use a semi-solid stain. You can use a semitransparent stain, which will seal it and provide a surface that will last for five to seven years before needing another single coat. You can use a semi-solid stain for the frame, railing, and balusters (spindles).
As for sharing a power vent, do not do it. Each unit needs its own vent pipe, especially the fireplace.
Q. When my son bought a 20-year-old house, his first project was to take the wallpaper off. He is finding it very difficult to do without gouging the plasterboard. What can he do?
A. Ah yes, the old story of builders cutting corners by wallpapering plasterboard that has not been sized or painted. Result: It’s impossible to remove the paper. Solution: Stop and smooth off the gouges with joint compound. Then sand the wall lightly, but not too lightly, with a medium grade sandpaper.
Wash the walls with detergent and water. Then paint the walls. Use a latex enamel undercoat (also called primer sealer), then one or two coats of a flat or eggshell finish latex wall paint. The seams will not show, or will be almost invisible. The paper might wrinkle a little, but the wrinkles will generally disappear as the paint dries. Remember, thin coats spell success. Thick coats promote peeling and cracks.
Q. I had several trees removed and chipped into large chips. It’s a huge pile. Is there a good use for them, such as mulch? The trees are both hardwood and softwood.
A. It’s the wrong kind of wood for mulch, I think. But here’s a thought: Some towns will take wood chips away for their mulch pile. Better yet, find a manufacturer of wood pellets, the type used in pellet stoves. They make pellets from all kinds of woods, and might buy your chips.
Q. I can’t seem to remove the rust-colored stains that have been left behind on my white vinyl siding from iron and steel fixtures that held flags and plants. Any suggestions?
A. Try one of these ways to remove rust. Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, CLR (Calcium Lime Rust), bleach, oxalic acid, Whink products, Rust Magic, Zud, or Lime-Away.
Q. I am reroofing my house and installing new gutters. The contractor found the fascia board only half covered with aluminum cladding after he took the gutters off, and suggested wrapping the fascia in aluminum before putting up new gutters. Is that necessary?
A. From your pictures, the cladding starts at the bottom of the gutters and wraps under the soffit. Then the gutters will go above the cladding. Nothing’s broke, so don’t fix it. I don’t think cladding always works because there is a chance of moisture getting behind the cladding, resulting in decay. Not so with your fascia.
Q. The ceiling of one of my basement rooms is under steps going up into the house that are made of concrete. They have developed rather large holes, 2 inches in diameter and several inches deep. I can see rusty steel rebars. How can I refill them with concrete?
A. Scrape off as much of the flaking rust as possible. Then buy Top ‘n’ Bond, a mortar that sticks to a lot of surfaces. Mix it so it is crumbly, not soupy.
Buy a wood dowel a bit smaller than the hole, and insert mortar into the hole, going beyond the rebar. Use small dowels to force the mortar above the rebar. Then add more mortar and use the larger dowel to press it in place. When the hole is full, place a small piece of plywood over the hole and hold it tight with a temporary post.