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    Handyman on Call

    Should she treat her new oak threshold?

    Q. I just replaced my threshold at the back door leading to the porch. Home Depot did not have a pressure-treated threshold so they installed oak. How should I treat it to protect it from the elements? TINA, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. It’s OK. Oak is the best for thresholds. Do not paint it. Use instead one coat of a semitransparent stain of the color of your choice. It will look good, preserve the wood, and will not peel. Redo it any time as long as it is a year or two after it was applied.

    Q. My bathtub spout has a small space between the back of the spout and the tile wall. I tried putting latex caulk in that gap to prevent water from getting behind the spout. That caulk quickly eroded away, and so did a second application of the caulk. Am I using the wrong stuff?


    BERT F., in Hotton’s chat room

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    A. The caulk had to be wrong if it eroded away so quickly. Also, it is in the wrong place, and the gap is too narrow to grab hold of the caulking. You can try an adhesive caulk, such as Phenoseal or Polyseamseal. But instead, try moving the spout so it is flush with the wall. If it is hard to turn, stick a hammer handle in the spout to get better leverage.

    Q. My bathroom floor tile is a dark brown pattern. I was wondering if it is at all possible to lighten the floor tile.


    A. I doubt it. There are reglazers who will coat some tile with an epoxy finish. But they usually do it on wall tile, not floor tile because floors get more wear and tear. Your only recourse is to retain the tiles and decorate around them, or put new tiles on top of the old. The latter chore requires lifting the toilet and reinstalling it on the new floor.

    Q. My son is building a huge harvest table type dining table, and the best thing about it is that he asked Dad to help. It’s done, and it really looks good, and now my son wants to stain it sort of a weathered look. He also does not want a high shine as the finish. How best to do this?



    A. The Handyman salutes both Dad and son. Staining and finishing are not difficult, but both can be tricky. I think Minwax oil-based stains are the best. To stain the table, use the messy method, which is to dip a cloth in the stain, squeeze it out a bit, and wipe quickly — to avoid overlapping. The more you apply and the longer you let it stay on the wood, the darker the color. Practice makes perfect. If it is too dark, the only cure is to sand it off and start over. Wear latex gloves because stain is hard to remove and is definitely not good for your skin.

    The result will be an even coating, but flat. Since son does not want a high shine, he can coat it with a satin (duller than semi-gloss and gloss) water-based polyurethane varnish, which will darken the stain the least. Try it on a scrap piece to make sure you get what you want. An expensive brush will do the best job in your already skilled hands.

    Q. Can I paint over peeling vinyl-aluminum window trim?EE, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. It’s either aluminum or vinyl. But if you have peeling paint on both, scrape and sand off the peeling paint. Paint the vinyl with Fusion, a special paint for vinyl made by Krylon. For aluminum, remove the peeling paint and apply two thin coats of a latex solid color stain.

    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 on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to