Q)I've been told that our 15-year-old house has "dry rot" in the corners of the exterior of the building. Who can I call for an estimate of the cost to stop the dry rot and to repair the damage? Or, what can I buy to stop this condition after I repair the damage myself?


A) Dry rot is usually caused by moisture in the wood that has not been allowed to dry thoroughly, therefore allowing a fungus to grow and decay the wood structure.

If dry rot is very extensive, your only solution is to replace those boards affected. In some instances, when the area is not too badly damaged, you can treat it with Deep Treat, a product made by Penta, which is used to help prevent dry rot and also termites. However, it is essential that you correct the moisture problem to prevent further damage.

Your letter was not specific on where the dry rot exists. If the damage is in the upper portion of the house, check your roof to determine if there are any slow leaks or inadequate drainage from the rain. Excessive condensation from inside the attic could also cause problems. If the damage is near the foundation, check this area thoroughly for proper drainage and moisture control.

Once you have solved the moisture problem and replaced the damaged wood, a good sealer and paint will help protect the wood from future problems. A qualified carpenter should be able to help you replace the damaged boards, or a roofing contractor might be able to do repairs if the damage is in that area.

Q) The pegged oak floor in our kitchen was damaged when our old dishwasher leaked. Some of the narrow, treated boards warped slightly, curling up at the edges. Now that the new dishwasher is in place, we would like to repair the floor. Is there anything we can do to flatten or reverse the warped edges, without having to replace the affected boards? (It would be difficult or impossible to match the rest of the floor, as well as very expensive).

The five or six boards affected warp up about one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch. We would appreciate any suggestions for correcting the situation, except "learning to live with it." Feeling the uneven boards under my feet is extremely irritating and mars one of the best features of our home.


A)There is a method of treatment for warped doors and you might experiment with the same technique here (although in the case of doors they are removed and laid flat over blocks of wood or wooden horses with the concave side up). Test this method by slightly dampening one or two of the affected boards, then cover with a heavy plastic. Use a heavy weight, such as concrete blocks, on the high ends of the warp. Leave undisturbed for several days and then check to see the amount of straightening you have achieved.

You can also use nails to refasten the oak panels, countersinking and filling the holes. If there is water damage, you may have to refinish the floor to maintain a consistent look. It will be important to seal the wood surface so that continued absorption of moisture is checked. However, prior to attempting any do-it-yourself techniques, I suggest that you call on several floor finishers for recommendations on fixing your flooring and pricing. Usually this type of advice and estimates on repairs are free. You may find that the investment to have a professional correct the problem is well worth it when you compare that to the value of the overall flooring.

Q) I live in a mobile home and have a patio 50-by-11-feet under an awning. I bought some tile in Mexico; it is stamped "interceramic." It is supposed to be for outside use. What is the best way to take care of it so it will not get slippery when wet and show dull spots?


A) If the tile you are describing is terra cotta, which is often referred to as "Mexican pavers," there is an entire system of penetrating sealers and surface finishes recommended to protect the surface of the tile.

This is a very porous tile and without sealers it will be subject to extensive staining and soil retention. Most tile firms also recommend one coat of penetrating sealer be applied prior to the setting of the tile (sealing both the top and the underside of the tile).

A reputable tile dealer can give you detailed information on tile sealers and waxes for this product. I suggest that you take a sample of the tile with you when seeking advice from a tile dealer.

If you are concerned about a slippery surface when the tile is wet, do not choose a high-gloss wax for the final finish. Instead, select a dull sealer that is also available for the final coat. If the tile is actually a ceramic tile, it should already be sealed, or at least those manufactured in the United States are. Additional sealers are not recommended.

However, if you are concerned about a slippery surface during wet weather, I would suggest that you reconsider using a ceramic tile. There is no way that I know of to rough up the surface on ceramic tile and maintain the beauty of the tile.

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