Handyman on Call

Repairing frayed woven rush, adding radiot

Globe Handyman Peter Hotton is not writing today. This Handyman column originally ran on Oct. 5, 2006.

Q. I have several high chairs made for countertop dining. The seats are woven rush, flat, and about ¼-inch wide. They are still in pretty good shape, but are getting rather tired looking, and producing stiff little threads at the ends of the rush. How can I restore the seats and make those sharp little threads more comfortable to sit on?


A. I think the rush, from what you describe, is actually rattan, but whatever it is, the treatment is this: Clip those little protrusions as short as possible. Then wash the seats with a strong detergent solution, scrub with a soft-bristle brush, rinse and let dry. Apply two or three coats of oil-based polyurethane varnish, which will soften the contours of the remaining stiff threads.

Q. I am having my basement finished. My husband put Drylok on the floor. Can I put leveling compound on that Drylok? Can I have ceramic tiles put down over the Drylok?


M.M., Marblehead

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A. Drylok is cement-based paint, and usually is not put on concrete floors because it will not seal against water vapor coming up through the floor. But leveling compound is a cementitious product, so it can be used on the Drylok. Also, ceramic tiles can be put on Drylok with thin-set mortar.

Q. My basement utility room was flooded with about 1 foot of water earlier this year. Now I am waiting for it to dry out. The walls are plyboard on a stud frame with fiberglass in the stud space.

How can I tell if the insulation got wet, and how long will it take for the plywood to dry? I must add that this utility room is completely separate from the basement and the rest of the house. I have to go outside in order to enter that room, which contains heating equipment and a water heater.

S.W., Corolla, N.C.


A. The only way to tell if the insulation was wet is to take off a piece of the paneling and check. If that foot of water stayed that way for a day or more, chances are pretty good the fiberglass got wet. And since it is in a closed space, it will take months to dry out. In the meantime, mold can grow. It doesn’t matter how long the board will take to dry. I think you have to take off the plyboard and let the fiberglass dry before putting the plyboard back.

Since that room really does not need insulation, another cure is to take it all off and forget about having an inner wall. That way future flooding will do no harm.

I must assume that the heating equipment and water heater are high enough above the floor to prevent flood water from ruining them.

Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Globe’s Real Estate section on Sundays. Peter Hotton is available Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair; call 617-929-2930. Hotton can be reached at