In June 1986, we had a deck built that was attached to the east and south walls of our home. The deck is about 48 inches above ground. There is a railing about 38 inches high around the deck with pickets 6 inches apart. The deck is constructed of Wolmanized pressure-treated lumber with a lifetime guarantee against damage by insects or decay.
When the deck was constructed, the contractor said no sealer or protective coating should be used on the deck. However, the deck shows fading, weathering and some warping of the 2-by-6-inch boards for the deck and railing top. I have been told to apply a liberal coating of Cuprinol to protect the deck and railings. The contractor maintains that no protective coating should be used.
Should the deck be covered with a sealer and protective coating? If so, how should it be treated initially and how frequently should the coating be reapplied? -- M.B.
I recommend a protective treatment for your deck. Be sure the wood is dry before proceeding.
You can use a semitransparent stain with an alkyd base that has a water repellent in it if you prefer a colorized treatment. Otherwise, treat with a water repellent recommended for exterior wood that is subject to weathering (Cuprinol is one).
If the deck is exposed to moisture from the underside, this should also be treated to prevent warping. If the ground under the deck is also subject to excessive moisture, you can provide further protection for your deck by covering the ground area with a heavy polyethylene plastic covering. Simply lay it on the ground area under the decking and weight the edges and seams down with bricks.
I want to remove old linoleum that is glued to a previous one. Contractors here refuse to do it because of the asbestos dust involved. My problem is how to get rid of the old glue, which is yellow and hard as a rock. Would you suggest something to dissolve this old glue? -- L.A.O.
Since the first layer of your flooring seems to be an asbestos tile or sheet flooring, I suggest that you contact a specialist in the removal of asbestos. The reason your second flooring was placed over the first was to avoid the release of asbestos fibers, which can become airborne with the removal of the flooring.
Asbestos is a health risk only when its fibers are released into the air and become breathable. This doesn't happen unless the asbestos is damaged, disturbed or deteriorated. With the removal of the flooring, you will be running a risk. There are contractors trained to follow Environmental Protection Agency regulations when asbestos must be removed.
Improper removal can create high levels of asbestos contamination, which has been linked to cancer. Information on testing for asbestos and its removal is available from the EPA. To get this data, call the EPA, toll free, at (800) 425-9065 and ask for an asbestos information packet.
Most local health departments are able to refer homeowners to trained inspectors and contractors authorized for the removal of asbestos materials.
I have a brick house that is three years old. Do you recommend using Thompson's Water Seal on the bricks? I would like to seal them to prevent decay. -- F.M.A.
A quality terrazzo sealer would provide the best protection, although Thompson's Water Seal can be used for this purpose. Check with your local masonry dealer for recommendations on the terrazzo sealer.
Be sure that the brick surface is clean prior to applying a sealer. Application of a sealer will change the coloring of the brick somewhat, making it appear darker.
We recently moved into a new home, where the former owner, instead of using nonskid rubber mats in the bathrooms, glued rubber flowers on the bottoms of the tubs, and it is a devil to get them scraped off without damaging the enamel. Any suggestions? -- J.B.N.
The removal of the rubber flowers will depend on the type of adhesive used. Try lemon oil, Spray & Wash, rubber cement solvent or lacquer thinner to see if any of them act as a solvent for the glue.
The key is the composition of the glue; different glues require different solvents. Three other solvents you can try are MEK (methyl ethyl keyton), 34X and naphtha. To soften the glue so you can remove the rubber decals, try using a hair dryer.
Send inquiries to Here's How, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column