Q: Our upstairs hardwood floor squeaks in a few places. I canâ€™t access the joists because of the finished ceiling of the first floor. Can I fix the squeaks from above?
A: At the location of the squeak, tighten the flooring to the nearest joist with a trim-head screw driven through the floor from above. First drill a pilot hole through the hardwood. Countersink the hole to hide the screw head. Drive the screw tight and putty the hole. If that doesnâ€™t eliminate the squeak, try it again at a spot a few inches away.
Q: There is a white powder-like substance on the brick of our new backyard patio. How can I remove this?
A: That white substance is called efflorescence, often found on the surface of masonry, resulting from water-soluble salt deposits. Generally, efflorescence can easily be removed by natural weathering or by scrubbing with a brush and water. Proprietary cleaners formulated specifically for use on brickwork are effective in removing stubborn efflorescence. Make sure the cleaner is intended for use on brick and be sure to follow the directions on the label. Improper acid-cleaning procedures (insufficient prewetting, rinsing and strong acid concentrations) may cause additional staining or damage to the brickwork. All cleaning procedures should first be tried at different concentrations in an inconspicuous area to judge their effect and check for any potential harm to the brickwork. After cleaning, inspect the mortar joints. Repointing or grouting of the joints may be necessary. (Information provided by the Brick Industry Association)
Q: Iâ€™m about to pour a new sidewalk. How long should I let the new concrete cure before walking on it?
A: Generally speaking, concrete and other Portland cement-based products should be moist-cured for at leastÂ 7 toÂ 10 days. Check the product packaging for specific instructions. One alternative to moist-curing is using an Acrylic Concrete Sealer. Applied at the appropriate time, this will help the concrete cure properly while sealing it against stains that tend to penetrate the surface of the concrete. Note: An acrylic concrete sealer should not be used in temperatures below 50 degrees F or when rain is expected within a few hours.
Q: I moved into a house with old aluminum siding.
Can I paint it?
A: As with any painting project, begin by prepping the surface. The aluminum must be free of all dirt, dust and debrisâ€”anything that will interfere with the bond of the paint coats. Using a heavy-duty soap and a sponge or scrub brush, wash the siding thoroughly. Then rinse off the siding until you can see no more soap or paint pigment in the rinse water. Prime the surface with a thinned oil-based metal primer. Finish with 100-percent acrylic latex exterior house paint.