Q)We live in a brick Cape Cod that was built in 1916. We have beautiful hardwood floors throughout, but they are in need of refinishing. The problem is our kitchen. Before we moved into the house in 1979, the previous tenants abused the property. Someone put a linoleum floor (strips) directly on top of the hardwood floor in the kitchen, using some kind of black adhesive to stick the strips to the wood.

If we have a company come in to refinish the rest of the house, can we have them salvage the hardwood in the kitchen? Should we expect to pay more for the work on the kitchen floor than the rest of the floor space that will be refinished because of the poor condition? If so, what would be a fair price to pay for refinishing floors in fair condition vs. refinishing floors in poor condition? J.E.K.

A)The kitchen project will most certainly cost you more for refinishing than the other areas within your house because of the extra man-hours that will be required to remove the linoleum, the glue residue and the additional sanding that will be required to smooth this area back to the bare wood.

If you have solid hardwood flooring beneath the linoleum, I would think that this refinishing would be feasible, but expensive. Your best bet on pricing is to contact three qualified contractors for this type of work and obtain a professional opinion and bid from each one. I would also ask for references from previous customers and check on work performance. Be sure to check quality of work as well as pricing.

When you have selected a contractor, be sure to have your agreement in writing, specifying work to be performed, materials to be used and completion date for the project, as well as cost factors.

Q)I plan to build a 24-foot-by-26-foot deck about 12 inches above the ground for commercial purposes using 2-by-6-inch redwood for the floor and pressure-treated lumber for the joist. Should I consider using a semitransparent stain with an alkyd base that has a water repellent on the redwood? T.H.

A)Often buyers select redwood for exterior decking because of its warm, vibrant color. It also is naturally resistant to damage from the weather.

However, the redwood will gradually weather-bleach to a soft, driftwood gray if left unfinished. If you wish to protect the natural color, a water-repellent finish is recommended over any other type of natural finish. This will not alter the rich, natural grain and texture of the wood, although the wood may change from a reddish brown color to a buckskin tan.

I would not recommend a pigmented stain for a deck area because they can soil clothing when used on benches or garden furniture, and they do not wear well under foot traffic.

You also may want to consider using a protective coating on the pressure-treated lumber you are using for the joists. Although pressure-treated wood will not rot, it can weather badly from continual exposure to rain if left unsealed.

The Koppers Co., producers of preservatives used in Wolmanized pressure-treated lumber, now offers coating to protect wood and enhance its appearance.

One of the products, Deck Stain, which contains a water repellent, is formulated to tint and protect all types of wood used outdoors, including pressure-treated lumber. The firm also makes a wood preservative and water repellent that is formulated for untreated wood. It can be brushed on easily and soaks right into the wood, leaving a finish that's flat and natural looking without changing the appearance of the grain or its texture. Water will bead up nicely on the deck, and less mildew will develop. Regular applications will pay off in both easier cleaning and longer wood life.

Q)Last year we purchased a delightful condo on a time-sharing basis. We love the unit, but I have a problem. The closets are cedar-lined and the walls are cedar paneled (cedar boards, not veneer strips). My wife is allergic to the cedar fumes. We did not know this until we attempted to spend our two weeks there this summer. Do you know of any way we can suppress, mask or in some way inhibit the cedar odor, yet maintain the integrity of the cedar characteristics. Without this we will have to sell our unit. Any suggestions would be appreciated. T.S.M.

A)The cedar odor will, with time, gradually dissipate and lessen in strength. In fact, to keep cedar-lined closets effective, it is recommended that they be sanded periodically to renew the cedar fumes. You could try a water sealer such as Thompson's Water Seal, which would coat the wood and perhaps inhibit the odor. The sealer would darken the wood somewhat, but otherwise, the grain and texture of the wood would remain. I know of no other effective way to cover the cedar to conceal the aroma and still maintain the characteristics of the wood.

Send inquiries to Here's How, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.