How To: Reduce fading on a fiberglass door

May 23, 2012

Q. I have an exterior fiberglass door. It is only six years old and has begun to show fade spots. What can I do to minimize the appearance of those areas?

Hollywood, Md.

A. You might start by calling the manufacturer, if you know which company that is.

If not, you have two options: Buy a can of gel stain that matches the color as closely as possible and try touching up just the faded spots, using a small bristle brush. These stains, which stay on the surface, work on fiberglass, but touching up is tricky.


A Maryland reader has a fiberglass door with fade spots. (Reader photo)

“You could end up with something that looks like smeared paint,” cautions Fatima Taylor, a customer service representative for Therma-Tru, which makes fiberglass doors and sells a Same-Day Stain Kit in various colors on its Web site, www.thermatru.com.

The surer solution, the one Taylor recommends when customers call in about Therma-Tru doors, is to strip off the existing finish and start over. Therma-Tru recommends using a methylene chloride stripper, because it needs to cut through a topcoat as well as the stain layer. Methylene chloride works but is messy and puts out terrible fumes that sneak through respirators, so if you take this approach, be sure to work where there is adequate ventilation — outdoors, if possible. Wear chemical-resistant gloves, too.

Because stripping is so unpleasant, you might want to start by trying to touch up the finish. If you’re not happy with the results, then strip and redo.

There is no soundproofing in the ceiling over my unit, and so every step, noise, music, etc., from the people who live above me drifts down into my home. Is there any way to soundproof the ceiling from my side?

Washington

Yes, it’s possible to change the ceiling in your unit so it blocks noise from above. But it’s not as simple as unrolling a carpet in the unit above. You’ll probably need the help of a drywall installer or someone who specializes in soundproofing.

There are two main strategies: Add mass, materials that absorb and deaden sound. And use products such as clips, channels and special caulk to decouple the ceiling from the floor structure above it.

Simply covering the ceiling with some­thing that stays soft, such as Green Glue noiseproofing caulk (www.greenglue
company.com
), and a new layer of 5 / 8-inch drywall will help. This approach avoids the need for demolition and adds mass, but vibrations can still pass through.

For better results, remove the existing drywall or plaster, and add fiberglass or cotton batt insulation between the joists, assuming you find none there already. Install furring channels or clips across the joists, then attach new drywall to those, allowing the drywall to float. That breaks the movement of vibrations. Then, to get the same mass as with the first approach, cover the bottom of the drywall with a layer of noiseproofing caulk, then install a second layer of drywall.

There are a variety of other approaches. Instead of using the caulk, for example, you can use a rubberlike membrane to separate the layers of drywall. Quiet Barrier, which is sold in 4-by-8-foot sheets for about $30 at Home Depot, can be attached to the upper side of the drywall before you screw the panels onto the ceiling.

Have a problem?

Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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