Q. I recently moved into a new house that has a wood deck outside. This is coated with one thin layer of paint. How do I weatherproof this deck? Do I have to strip the paint off first?

A: By "weatherproof" I assume you mean protect the wood and seal it against weathering. The best way to do this is to coat the wood with a clear wood preservative or stain.

This can be applied only to raw wood; paint will have to be sanded or stripped off, or you can wait until it all peels and weathers off. Ideally the preservatve should be applied to the bottom and edges of each board, but if this is not practical, do the best you can in coating all you can reach.

Q: My cabinets have a dark wood stain with a lacquer coating on top, and I don't care for the color. I would like to paint them but want to know what I have to do to prepare the surface without using lacquer thinner or remover to take all the old finish off. Can I get by with just sanding, or can I use a "liquid sandpaper" product to clean and prepare them for painting? What kind of low-gloss paint can I use?

A: You don't have to get all the old lacquer or finish off, but you do have to remove any wax, polish, oil, grease or dirt on the surface. Also, you must remove any gloss that remains. You can do this by sanding and then wiping with a rag moistened in paint thinner, or you can use liquid sandpaper. This will remove the shine and the wax, etc.

Q: The parquest floors in my house have worn to the point where the bare wood shows in several places. I would now like to recoat these floors with the same polyurethane. Can you tell me how to remove the rest of the coating and if there is any special procedure when recoating?

A: The usual way to get the rest of the coating off is to sand the entire floor with a sanding machine. You can also strip the finish off with a chemical varnish remover, but this is kind of messy and not always as effective as sanding. After sanding to the bare wood, brush on two new coats of the polyurethane varnish, following the directions on the can as to the time you must wait between coats and what thinning, if any, is recommended.