DEAR SAM: We are in the process of building a cottage on the bay. What would you suggest as the best protection for the cedar siding: 1) Sealer, as recommended by the builder; or 2) Olymphic Stain?

ANSWER: When you refer to "cedar siding" it could mean vertical siding or shingles; however, I shall concentrate on the former. The salt air of that area will bleach the siding, making it silver gray. If you want it to expedite this process, use a "bleaching oil," which will maintain the visible grain.

If the builder defines "sealer" as a wood preservative or water deterrent to prevent mildew and rot, he may use also a "stain" which has a similar purpose; however, there will be no sheen or gloss with this treatment. Stains have pigment colors, light and dark, so that the cedar grain may be "semi-transparent" or almost completely obliterated.

DEAR SAM: In the winter, we have icicles that cling all over the siding on the front of our house. The ice that was melting around our metal casement windwos seeped in from all sides, ruining our window sills and the plaster surrounding them. What can be done to stop this?

ANSWER: The overflow of the gutter must have been responsible for the water on the siding and the metal casements. The ice on the window would prevent a tight closing of the sash, resulting in the leakage through the window.

Before the winter starts, you should have all the gutters cleaned and the downspouts and goosenecks cleared of any leaves or twigs. Only a small accumulation of leaves in a gutter can upset the pitch so that spillovers may take place anywhere along the length of the gutter instead of going into the downspout.