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Key steps when staining a wood deck

Gene Austin McClatchy-Tribune

Q. Last spring we had our pressure-treated wood deck power washed and stained, but by summer the stain was gone. The work was done by a handyman. I’d like to stain it again but make it last. Do we need to power wash it again? What type of stain do you suggest? I want the deck to look as natural as possible. What went wrong?

A. Among possible reasons why the stain failed so soon are that it was a cheap grade of stain or was not properly applied. The stain might have been applied with a sprayer or roller, which are accepted techniques, but possibly the handyman failed to “back brush” it, an important step to promote good adhesion.

The deck also might not have been allowed to dry completely after the power washing, another important step. Possibly the handyman didn’t read the directions – a must before using any finish.

Semi-transparent stains are generally recommended for pressure-treated decks. These allow the grain of the wood to show through and give the natural appearance that you want.

Top brands of semi-transparent stain normally last for three years, sometimes longer. Among leading brands are Olympic, Cabot, Flood’s, Wolman, Thompson’s and Sikkens.

The deck should be cleaned before new stain is applied, but it doesn’t have to be power washed again. There are many excellent deck cleaners for sale at home centers and paint stores, and one of these will get the surface free of dirt and mildew. Always rinse thoroughly after using a cleaner.

Q. Our powder room was wallpapered about three years ago. Some of the seams have opened. How can I close these seams without making a mess?

A. Buy a tube of wallpaper seam sealer at a home center or wallpaper-supply store. Read the directions on the tube before proceeding. Also buy a seam roller, a small tool used to press down loose seams.

Sometimes the sealer can be applied to the inside surfaces of an open seam directly from the tube, but if there isn’t room for this use a strip of thin plastic or cardboard as an applicator.

Press the loose edges down with your fingers and wipe off excess sealer with a damp cloth or sponge. Use the seam roller to press the seam tightly against the wall and wipe off squeezed-out sealer.

Q. I want to replace the windows in my 50-year-old house with thermal windows. I’d like to replace the entire window in each case, including the old frame. What does this involve?

A. You apparently want new-construction windows – the type of window that is installed in a new house. These windows fit into what is called the rough openings in the home’s framework.

Installing new-construction windows in an older house means tearing out all the woodwork in the old windows – a lot more work than installing so-called replacement windows, which are self-contained units that fit inside the old window frames. You can usually see the rough opening of a window by removing the inside trim around the window.

New-construction windows are generally more expensive than replacement windows, and have a cleaner, more open appearance. Still, unless the existing frames are in very poor condition and can’t be repaired, my choice would be replacement windows because of the substantial saving of time, money and work.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.
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