Q. Two years ago we had our front porch power washed, scraped, and painted because it was developing some moldy, black areas. This year it returned. My husband thinks it’s bad wood and should be replaced with the “plastic” wood-look. Do you have any thoughts on what might be causing it and how we can prevent it?
A. This is an old story, but needs repeating to keep homeowners from repeating mistakes. First, it is not bad wood. Mold will grow on anything, including plastic in any shady spot, because anything that gets wet stays wet longer than in sunny areas. Mold can grow through almost anything, including paint. Wood and plastic (oil based) are good food for mold.
Paint is not the right finish for a deck. For the right finish, sand off the paint and apply a semitransparent stain, which will penetrate the wood and is a preservative. It will last five to seven years and will not peel. Only one coat is needed.
Q. Can I install an asphalt driveway over an old concrete driveway?
A. Yes, if the concrete is as smooth and level and even as it was at first. But better (and more expensive) is to take off the concrete, excavate to accommodate 6 inches of crushed stone, and then lay up to 4 inches of asphalt, in one or two layers.
Q. I have teak garden benches that have weathered to that handsome silver. But after two years they have a little mold and other funny things, such as lichen, small round spots. How can I restore that weathered look, and get rid of the lichen?
A. Treat the wood with the usual 1-part to 3-parts bleach-water solution, let dry, then wet the lichen thoroughly with water to soften it so it can be scraped off. Nothing else has to be done. Certainly no finish is needed. Teak is one wood that will resist decay and turn to a very nice silver color.
Q. When I was cleaning hardwood floors with Lestoil, some cleaner splattered on some hardwood chairs. making spots. How can I remove those spots?
A. If Lestoil (a Clorox product) contains bleach, and the spots are a sort of yellowish color, there is little you can do because the finish was bleached. If the spots are white and seem to be on the surface, rub them with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Do this first in the hopes it will handle the spots if they are bleached.
Q. 1) Can I use latex paint over oil? And vice versa? 2) My painter suggested I paint my roof with aluminum paint that doesn’t need a primer. Would that work?
A. 1) The new latex paints can be used over oil; in some cases a primer is needed first. Same for vice versa. 2) Aluminum paint is OK if you can find it. Your painter might have meant galvanizing. Better would be a liquid galvanizing paint, sold in paint stores. Look up Galvanizing paint on Google.
Q. My stove-door window is turning all kinds of rainbow colors. What causes that and how can I clean it?
A. Heat will turn tempered or heat-resistant glass into rainbows, and I don’t think there is any way to clean it. Any detergent solution will clean the grime and grease, but not the rainbows.
But you can replace the window, and I saw prices from $60 to ginormous for a Viking stove window.
Q. You have helped me many times. Now, I want to ask if an oil tank 50 years old should be replaced. I can’t find any leaks in mine.
A. Let’s put it this way. Do it today or tomorrow, anyway. Any tank more than 40 years old could spring a leak any time, and if it does, and you don’t know about it, it can flood the floor and get under the concrete into the soil. If it does that, the Environmental Protection Agency will charge you thousands of dollars to clean it up.
Better to pay about $1,800 to remove the tank, save the oil, install a new tank, and add the saved oil. Call your oil dealer; dealers do not do that work but will give you the names of several tank replacement firms to choose from. You will be glad you called the Handyman. We had a great talk about our favorite operas, heroes, and villains. Thanks for the fun.