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Handyman on Call

Is there a way to avoid stains on honed countertops?

Q. I have black honed kitchen countertops, and as with a typical honed countertop it stains very easily. Last year I had the countertops professionally refinished and resealed. One year later, new stains have formed from such things as the bottom of the dishwasher liquid container, glasses, etc. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid the frequent maintenance and cost of having them refinished yearly?

CARL JOHNSON

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A. You have learned a sad lesson about honed countertops, which I think is a silly name for granite: Beautiful, extremely hard and dense, expensive, and a very absorbent stone that seems to stain when you look at it. I think you need to have it resealed, but before you do that, try rubbing the stains with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to see if that will delay the need for resealing. It’s really too bad that such a sturdy, beautiful countertop needs sealing so often. But there are at least two things you can do to end this headache: Install another kind of countertop, either ceramic tile (no maintenance!) or Corian with a granite pattern. To clean, just sand it. To improve the ceramic tile, make the joints as narrow as possible. Thin lines will not show the dirt.

Q. The painter who recently worked on my house said he put Bondo in two of my windows that showed signs of decay. Just what is Bondo, and is it safe to use on a house? It was quite expensive.

NATALIE HACKET, Weymouth

A. Bondo is safe. It is an epoxy wood filler. Your painter dug out the decayed part, filled in with the Bondo, sanded it smooth, and primed and painted. Normally it is used as an auto body filler. A better, more stable product to use is Minwax’s wood rot filler.

Q. Our condo association is hoping to insulate the ceiling of our basement. It’s an old Back Bay building, built in the 1890s. Reason: The 2 units above the basement get cold. The options are spray cellulose insulation, and batting strips. The question is: Would one method of insulation be more advisable for this particular situation than the other?

DIANE PATRY

A. Either is OK, but the batting strips of fiberglass are good because a vapor barrier can be installed before the insulation is applied. Also, the batts are easily removed to check and replace faulty wiring or plumbing. The work is a good idea whether the basement is occupied or not. Tenants in the units above will feel good about the warmth and the saving of heating fuel.

Q. I read about you recommending Blue Magic for cleaning window-fogging stains that seem to resist all attempts to remove. I checked Blue Magic in a store and all I found, it seems, is a carpet cleaner. Can you check to see if there are others?

STEVE CAGOS, Waltham

A. Actually, there are many kinds of Blue Magic cleaners. The one you want: Blue Magic auto glass cleaner used to clear the plastic headlight covers that have badly fogged up.

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 (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com
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