Q. I have a client with a new composite deck. The carpenters who built it inadvertently left several scratches and blemishes. The railings and post sleeves are black, so the scratches, although microns deep, are more noticeable due to the color. The surface of the composite is plastic and difficult to repair. Any suggestions?
A. That’s terrible. My first step would be to contact the manufacturer to see whether they offer a repair kit or colored markers for touch-ups. (Since this railing system is black, can you use a black permanent marker to color in the scratches? Try it in an inconspicuous spot first.) Composite decks can be either plastic or a combination of wood fibers and plastic. The solutions — which can run anywhere from natural weathering to soldering irons — are going to vary according to the manufacturer and the type of material used.
Q. Our hardwood floor near the kitchen door is damaged because a bucket of water was spilled by accident. The floorboards are warped, with the middle lower than the edges. We thought we got all the water up quickly enough that it wouldn’t be a problem, but evidently we were wrong. The water was spilled a couple of months ago, but the floor started showing the problem about 10 days ago. How can the floor be repaired?
A. The best thing to do when a hardwood floor gets wet is to remove the water and use fans to dry it out. A dehumidifier or air-conditioning unit also helps. Solid hardwood floors react to water in three ways.
■ Crown: raise up in the middle;
■ Cup: raise up along the edges;
■ Buckle: The boards come apart and need replacement.
All is not lost when a hardwood floor gets wet. Often it is not clear whether the floor is damaged or just ticked off. I once overflowed my kitchen sink and flooded my hardwood floor. After wet-vacuuming up the water, I ran fans in the kitchen and in the basement (to dry the subfloor boards).
I was really lucky. There was no visible damage.
According to my flooring contractor, it can take anywhere from three weeks to five months for a hardwood floor to settle down after getting wet and crowning or cupping. If there is no staining and the floor settles down, you’re good to go. If not, you’ll need to sand and refinish or replace the flooring. I wouldn’t wait for five months to pass, though; I would call in a flooring contractor to inspect it and tell me my options.
Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of AConcordCarpenter.com, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @globeaddress or @robertrobillard.