Q: I have a brick wall in my apartment on which I tried to hang some items, using special nails sold for masonry in hardware stores. The nails go in, but they are not stable and they tend to losen. Is there any item on the market besides cement to fill the holes and hold the nails as well?
A: The masonry nails you used are made for securing wood studs or strips to concrete, and are not intended ffor use on brick. For hanging items on a brick wall, use plastic or lead anchors designed for this purpose. They are sold in almost all hardware stores and lumber yards, and require that you drill a hole first, then insert the anchor. A screw is then driven into the anchor and will hold firmly. For best results, try to locate these in a mortar joint rather than in one of the bricks.
Q: I have been having trouble with the trim paint around the outside of my house -- on the overhang, the garage door and window sash. I have had these areas scraped, then painted, but in a year or two they blister and peel again. Is there anything else I can do to stop this waste of money?
A: Although you don't say whether the paint is peeling down to the bare wood or if just the top coats are letting go, I think the blistering is due to moisture in the wood. However, much of the peeling could be due to paint being applied over dirty surfaces. Over-hanging eaves and garage doors, for example, do not get the same exposure to wind and rain as does the rest of the house, so they get much dirtier.
If this dirt is not washed off before painting, peeling will almost always result. The next time you repaint, make sure all surfaces are clean, and have vents installed under the eaves to relieve moisture before you start.
Q: We recently sanded the outside of our redwood house to remove all the old varnish and then coated it with a clear wood preservative to retain the natural color. But lately many of the nails are dripping black stains or streaks down the siding. How can this be cleaned and prevented?
A: The black streaks undoubtedly come from the nails rusting. The varnish probably helped prevent this, but the sealer is not as much of a coating for the metal heads.
The only way to solve this problem is o countersink the nail heads, then cover the holes with colored putty or wood plastic, if you can find or mix one to match closely. The stains in the wood can be removed by bleaching with oxalic acid or by sanding them out. Using a pigmented redwood sealer will help make the color of everything more uniform.