Handyman on call

Getting the right match for masonry patches

Q. Several years ago you wrote about trying to match replacement masonry in a brick patio. I think that you advised using an oil stain that matches the old masonry. I looked for that type of oil stain but couldn’t find it. Our patio looks fine except for the places where the masonry has been replaced. It is a different color than the masonry we have had for many years. What can I do to remedy this?


A. You did not tell me what the replacement masonry in your patio is. It could be concrete, bricks, concrete blocks and mortar, or anything else made of Portland cement, sand, and gravel. So, I suggest you go to a paint store (one whose main product are stains and paints) and look for a semitransparent stain the closest color to the existing masonry.


 There are semitransparent house stains and semitransparent deck stains, all of which are good on masonry surfaces. Taking a small piece of the existing masonry to the paint store will help in your color selection. An alternative to the stain is an alkaline dye. Ask the paint store about these dyes.

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Q. The front of our house has Cedar Impressions siding, the type that looks like painted shingles. Under a pair of windows, the contractor attached a piece of siding with some type of silicone caulk. Recently the piece of siding came off. What would you recommend to reattach this siding? I have considered small finish nails, possibly with small pilot holes drilled so as not to crack the siding.


A. Putting up the short siding below windows and under the fascia at the top of the wall is simple, and standard procedure. The silicone caulk did not work because it is not intended as an adhesive, and the installer should have known this. You can use construction adhesive (Liquid Nails) or an adhesive caulk (Phenoseal or Polyseamseal), both of which are waterproof. Or, you can use small galvanized siding nails, drilling pilot holes in the vinyl. I have done well with nails on unpainted, unstained wood shingles. If you have to put up a nailing strip to make the siding slant out, install a thinner strip. Don’t use finish nails; they will not hold.

Q. My attic has some strange looking perforated aluminum at the top of each gable at each end of the attic. I also have a ridge vent and soffit vents. What should I do with these perforated ends?



A. Cover them; they are vents, which you don’t want with your ridge and soffit vents, because they will interfere with the efficiency of those vents.

Bathtub notch

 When Marianna asked if a bathtub could be cut down or notched to allow easier access for her old legs, the Handyman replied that he thought that a fiberglass fabricator could do it, and suggested a company that might do it.

 Surprise, surprise, when Harry Wolf of Winchester wrote: I think you blew it on your answer to Marianna’s question about notching a tub. Just do a Google search on “bathtub cutout.” There are any number of contractors out there who do this kind of work.

 Thanks Harry, and thanks to Joe Barger, who wrote: I have been lowering the sides of bathtubs — cast iron, fiberglass, steel — for about eight years. Cast iron, fiberglass, and steel bathtubs can be lowered. Try


Q. How can I get egg off my vinyl siding? Nothing I tried worked.



A. It’s a little early for Halloween shenanigans, but here is the cure: Use a laundry soaker such as Shout, Biz, or ­Axion. Apply it heavily, wait a few minutes and use a bristle brush to scrub it off.

Q. I want new vinyl siding, aluminum window trim, and replacement windows. In what order should they be installed? Should the vinyl siding cover the window trim?


MARY BROOKS, Dorchester

A. Never, never cover the window casing (trim) with siding, also called jumping the casing. It will destroy the style of the house and will require installation of shutters for decoration. As for order, I suggest covering the trim with aluminum first, then vinyl siding, and finally replacement windows, which will be done from the inside, so it can be done any time.

Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to