Q&A / 

July 20, 2010 AsktheBuilder Tips And News

What’s in This Issue?

Summer in NH
The Move
Deck Stain Test
Washington DC Metro Moola
Round Area LED Light
Frost Damage
Deck Checklist News
Moving Sale
Smoke Remediation
Craigslist Scam
Collectors Items

Remember, Do it Right, Not Over!

I do product reviews frequently. Please read my Disclosure Policy to understand the relationship between me and the companies that make the products or offer the services I review.


Friendly Question Reminder!

If you have a question for me, don't hit the Reply button just yet. Go immediately to my web site and type in the keywords about your problem into my Search engine. The search box is at the top of every page of my web site. You could have your answer in seconds if you do this! Please pay attention to all links you see at my web site. The exact products and services you often need are right in front of you, and you might be ignoring them.

Summer is in its full glory here in New Hampshire. We had a recent heat wave last week that was pretty uncomfortable, but now we're back to regular temperatures in the 80's. The past few days I've spent hours floating and playing in the warm lake waters with friends. If you've not vacationed up here, you should. If you do, stay at Fred and Sandi's bed and breakfast, The Maria Atwood Inn. It's close to many great places up here in New Hampshire. Wait until you taste Sandi's scones and the maple butter. WOW! Watch the video at the bottom of their home page of me eating one of those bad boys. We had to do multiple takes of the ending of that video, but I wasn't complaining!

One month from today it will be all over. Kathy, Kelly, Tristan and I will have made the two-day journey from Cincinnati, OH with the animals and the moving van. If the drive goes as planned, Kathy will wake up for the first time exactly one month from today in our temporary home here in the Granite State. I'm anxious for that day for a host of reasons. I say temporary as we're hoping to break ground on the new home next spring.

I'll be leaving to go back to Cincinnati in just 12 days, so there is much to do here to get ready for the transition. One of the biggest tasks is installing the missing flashing at the rear deck. I'll be documenting that for an eBook for you in case you have a similar situation.

Deck Stain Test

I've been getting scads of emails about the status of the deck stain test I started back at the end of April. I'm taping a video today so you can see the results, but I'll share them now. Here's the original video shot as I was applying the stain and clear sealers:

The first sealer I applied was the Extreme Defy that's tinted brown. They call it Cedartone. It looks fantastic. I can't see any color fade and I see no discoloration at all. It looks magnificent.

The stripe next to it in the original video was supposed to be a clear product. It was Extreme Defy in clear. Well, it's not clear in my opinion. If you remember in the original video, it dried slightly gray. It's now slightly more gray. You can see some of the original cedar color, but not too much.

The third stripe was a Sherwin Williams product called Deckscapes in clear. It went on handsomely, but in less than three months, it's failed miserably. You'll see it in the video.

Finally, the fourth stripe of wood was cedar that I cleaned but didn't add any sealer. That wood is now completely gray and matches the planks of cedar perfectly that have Extreme Defy clear on them that's 13 months old.

It's important to note that all three sealers are still doing an EXCELLENT job with respect to repelling water. Water is STILL beading up on the wood. The failure so far has just been the color.

I've decided to do an extensive test next spring, featuring at least six to ten sealers that you see in the home centers as well as other top products like Defy. I'll be doing it in a more controlled manner using both cedar and treated lumber. I'll also be coating TWO samples of each wood with each sealer. One of the samples will stay outdoors but the other one is being taken inside and put in a box in my garage out of the sun. At different times of the year we'll be able to take the samples outdoors to video them against the ones in the weather. That's going to be an amazing test!

Washington DC Metro Moola

Do you live in the Washington DC area? Do you ride the Metro subway regularly? I was in DC about five weeks ago and in a rush got a ticket I thought was going to be a single fare. Instead the machine gobbled my entire $20 bill. I have a ticket with $16.65 worth of travel on it. I'll mail it to the FIRST person that contacts me and provides me with a DC area mailing address. If you DON'T get a reply email from me after sending your address, that means you were an also ran and reacted too slowly. Better luck next time!

Round Area LED Light

In the craziness of my life this past two months, I've been able to test an interesting product. It's a small LED light that looks much like a hockey puck. It's made by the Energizer folks and produces 50 lumens of bright white light. This little light is meant to act like an overhead light and is equipped with tiny magnets. If you want to mount it to a wood or drywall surface to use it, it comes with a handy plate you screw to a non-magnetic surface.

The only trouble I had with it was the non-intuitive (for me!) method of turning it on and off. I was looking for a button or a switch on the sides of it. There were none. You simply push the clear lens to make it go on and off. Duh!! They say it runs for 31 hours on it's two AA batteries. I don't know if that's true as it's still working great for me!

This is the fourth LED lite from Energizer I've tested. I LOVE them, especially the headlamp one and swivel-head flashlight - both of which have red and green LED bulbs in them in addition to the white ones. The red light is perfect at night when I walk to and from my Fire Pit. The red light lets you see, but doesn't ruin your night vision.

Frost Damage in Wisconsin

Molly Nordin of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin emailed me with a distressing situation:

"We put cultured stone on our smooth foundation 5 years ago. After the frost left the ground this spring, the stone came off the foundation in one huge chunk. It is an area 3 ft high by 32 ft long. For the most part it is still standing on its own, no longer attached to the house. Can this be put back on, or do we need to start over?"

Molly, I can't imagine trying to manhandle that massive chunk of masonry. You're going to have to start over unfortunately.

To prevent this delamination from happening again, I'm going to suggest you use my cement-paint methodology and do some digging. Please read this column of mine to get a great grasp of how and why cement paint works to help bond two masonry layers together.

In your case, you apply the cement paint just before you trowel on the mortar that bonds the cultured stone to the foundation.

After you install the new faux stone, I want you do dig a trench alongside the foundation that's about 2-feet deep and 6-inches wide. Remove all the clay soil. In its place, pour in small rounded pea gravel. Make sure there is a 4-inch or more gap between the bottom of any of the cultured stone and the gravel.

My guess is that your problem happened because the soil may have been in contact with the bottom of the stone. When the soil froze and then lifted up against the bottom of the stone, it sheared off the mortar bond between the stone and the foundation.

This loose pea gravel, along with the space, will create a buffer zone. Even if the stone raises up that distance, because it's free-draining, it should roll up and over the faux stone. Your clay soil does the exact opposite. It's like a massive bulldozer pushing up against the stone.

Deck Checklist News

Several weeks ago, I talked about my revised Deck Checklist. The impending move is really wreaking havoc with my schedule. I'm going to try this week to put together that special deal I mentioned last issue. It will be a 60-percent-off promotion with a BONUS. The bonus is a one-hour phone seminar where I answer the top questions you have about installing, repairing or maintaining a deck. Watch for this extra promotion email in a few days. You don't want to miss this.

Moving Sale

I know that you may be a subscriber that lives in or near Cincinnati, OH. I've decided to have an exclusive Garage Sale for just you on Saturday August 7th! It will not be advertised to the general public. I'll be selling my sweet John Deere lawn tractor and plow, some great lumber, tools (many in original boxes), hardware, a great Kohler 3.5-gallon flush toilet (you CAN'T get these any longer) and other assorted stuff. I'll put together a full list early that week and send it out to you. There will be some great deals to be had. I can deliver the John Deere mower and plow, in case you can't transport it.

Smoke Remediation

Very dear friends of mine, Veronica and Jason Hill almost lost their home due to a home next door to theirs that burned to the ground. Veronica and Jason's house suffered significant smoke, water, heat and some fire damage. Photos of their house can be seen in and at the bottom of this column at my website.

If you're a smoke remediation specialist, they need advice. Better yet, if you're located in Southern CA, you may get the job. But at this point, I'm trying to make sure Veronica and Jason don't get taken. Can you email me and I'll put you in touch with them?

Follow Up on Craigslist Scam

As I knew would happen, I got hundreds of emails about my Craigslist Scam-Alert newsletter. The scam I was pointing out was not, by any means, the only one out there. What's more, you may have been one of the several subscribers that sent me a link to a story where a man was shot to death by thieves that expressed an interest in a diamond ring he was selling on Craigslist. That's precisely why I mentioned that being an avid supporter of the Second Amendment is not such a bad idea.

There is yet another scam that's surfaced and come to my personal attention. I've had the exact same email sent to me on two different products where the person wants me to watch a video to make sure the item I'm selling matches what they want to buy. If you get an email asking you to watch a video or a link to a website where you should go to look at something, DON'T do it. Don't try to watch a video or go to that website. There's a very high probability you'll be a victim of malware, spyware or some other evil virus that will wreak havoc in your financial and personal life.

That being said, I'm continuing to have a GREAT experience on Craigslist. I'm selling things all the time. I'm happy, the buyers seem happy and people are getting things they need. Remember, if you have a project coming up, you may find a fantastic deal on materials right around the corner from your house. You never know who's selling what.

Collectors Items

Are you a serious collector of old beer bottles? How about a serious sports memorabilia collector? I have two beer bottles from Cincinnati breweries that are at least 100 years old. I also have a 16 oz bottle of Pepsi - unopened! - that's a commemorative issue of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds World Series Win. It was a special Bicentennial July 4, 1976 commemorative bottle. I'm offering them to you first, then the general public if there's not any interest here on my list. Make me an offer. Yes, I realize you need to see photos. I'll send them to you if you're interested.



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