Sometimes knowing where to find the answer is more than half the battle.
One of the biggest problems in renovating a house is asking the right questions. If the answer isn't available in your local hardware store, where do you go?
Two readers recently asked questions that were mostly about where to find information about products to solve particular problems.
A reader in New Rochelle, N.Y., wants to know how to find information about a series of Wasco skylights in his living room. ,, "These skylights have aluminum frames which are perfectly square and which measure 27 3/4 inches on a side. On the outside of the aluminum outer frames is stamped, 'Wasco Products, Cambridge, Mass.' Over the years, the plastic bubbles have become discolored, and covered with check marks. I am afraid that continued weather exposure with freezing and thawing may cause cracks or even breaks to occur. I have had no luck in contacting Wasco for replacement bubbles . . ."
Wasco is a large company that manufactures all sorts of skylights and roof windows. We found a listing (it's actually a copy of the product literature) in the "1992 Sweet's Homebuilding and Remodeling Catalog File," which may be available in your local library. The Sweet's catalog lists almost every product and manufacturer you might want to look up. You can reach the Wasco company by calling (800) 388-0293. Ask for residential sales, and explain what your problem is. You should be able to get information about Wasco replacement products, and possibly a referral to a local installer.
Another reader in Baltimore asked what to do after power washing had worn out softer wood and left grain edges "as sharp as razors" -- a problem we warned people to avoid in a column on deck-cleaning. Was there, the reader asked, a product that could be applied to fill in the low spaces and even up the surface?
Unfortunately, there is not a clear, inexpensive answer. It may bepossible to coat the wood with enough layers of polyurethane to fill in the troughs; but this is not by any means a long-term solution. The polyurethane will wear away much faster than the wood. Another possible solution would be to sand the deck with a regular floor drum-sander to even the surface. However, if the ++ edges are really sharp, they will cut the sandpaper; it may be a nuisance, if not downright impossible, to sand the entire surface.
The best solution is to replace the floor boards and make sure they are treated with a sealer. And, in the future, avoid bad power-washing.
If you have to have a deck power-washed, make sure the contractor knows what he's doing. Get referrals and check them out before you hire anyone.
Next: A social history of the twist drill.