Q&A / 

May 13, 2014 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & News

Spring has finally arrived here in NH. The trees are playing catch up baseball with the leaves straining to develop as rapidly as possible.

Spring in the Northeast and other places means black flies. I was out last week hiking to a glorious hidden oasis here in New Hampshire with my buddy Jim Cluett, he's my Morse code mentor.

He maintains when they first hatch, they haven't figured out how to bite. We were around many last week and I didn't get bitten.

Yesterday Jim and I went out again to do outdoor radio since the weather was spectacular and rain is in the forecast.

OUCH! I've got welts on both legs today from those little devils. Here's what I saw yesterday when I looked up from operating my small outdoor radio.

I've decided to devote much of this newsletter to projects you may be considering in the next few weeks or months. I'm hoping that you STOP and THINK before you act.

P.S. Last Friday I tried something new. I sent out a reminder with a video tip in it. Suffice it to say the video was a HUGE HIT. I received many emails asking me to do that from now on. I'll have a good one for you this Friday - a new video about deck railing safety.


Tip of the Week - Lead Paint DANGERS

Years ago, I attended a continuing education class that dealt with a new EPA lead paint standard. It was eye opening to say the least.

My next door neighbor's house was built just before WW II and lead paint could be found on just about any original interior or exterior painted surface.

I was building a room addition for them and saw their dog had been chewing on a basement door frame. The wife was carrying her dog to the car one day and I asked what was wrong. She said the dog was very sick and she was off to the vet.

I replied, "I know exactly what's wrong. Your dog has lead poisoning. I noticed she's been chewing on the door molding down in the basement."

Sure enough, Casey the dog had a very high lead level. She didn't perish from the illness, but there's a great chance she suffered from all sorts of chronic issues the rest of her life.

READ these past columns of mine and THINK TWICE before you ever scrape, sand, chip, etc. paint in an older home. SERIOUSLY, READ ALL OF THESE COLUMNS.

You could save yourself, your kids, your grand-kids, etc.

PASS THESE LINKS AROUND TO ALL YOU KNOW. Post them on Facebook. Do whatever you can to help educate others:

Lead Paint Problems

Lead Paint Information

Beware of Lead Paint

Bosch Power Tools Game WINNERS!

Did you play the Bosch Power Tool Game two weeks ago? You should have.

Why? You could have been one of the four winners!!!

In my best The-Price-is-Right voice , "Come on Down!"

Congratulations to:

Aaron Holum - Aaron won the Bosch Multi-Tool and accessories

Greg Harsma - Greg, you get the Bosch Bulldog Masonry and Concrete Drill Package

James Corgan - James, enjoy the DareDevil Wood Drilling package

Robert Moore - You get the $150 COLD CASH prize gift card.

Do you see what's missing in the above list?

Women!!!! If you're a woman, I NEED YOU TO play the games too! You deserve great tools too and some sweet moola!

If your name is above, please contact me ASAP with the email address you used in the contest and your home address. I need to match you up in case TWO people have the same name and played the game.

Another NEW GAME is right around the corner. Be SURE YOU PLAY!


Custom Firewood Storage Shelter

Once the wicked black flies have died, I'm going to start building a deluxe firewood shelter here at my house. Look at this photo of a scale model I built of the shelter.

I'm going to videotape the entire process step-by-step and create a professional DVD for you so you can have one at your home.

I have the DVD on sale now as a PRE-SALE item. Once I start the project, the price WILL GO UP.

Order the DVD now and save 50%.

I expect to be able to ship the DVD by July 1, 2014.


Wood Deck Restoration Products

BEWARE - Long, but Informative

Marc Grenier emailed me last week.

"I want to fix the surface of my deck with the new products out now. I believe they are epoxy paint. Which is the best to use for surfacing a worn out deck?"

Then I got a similar email from Johan de Roodt who lives in Europe. He's about to pull the trigger on a product he wants to use to coat a gorgeous modular deck he built behind his home.

The products Marc and Johan are talking about are in the advertising spotlight now. These products are thick-bodied deck restoration products meant to cover treated lumber decks that look more like 50-year-old fishing piers than the gorgeous wood decks you see in ads in Better Homes and Gardens magazine ads.

I worked with one of these products back in February when I was at the Behr Paint headquarters in California.

Behr calls their product Deck Over.

Rustoleum has Restore It.

Olympic has a product called Rescue It.

Rubio Monocoat is the one Johan wants to use.

There could be others out there.

Why are these products necessary? Will they stand up to the elements? When would you use a product like this?

These are all great questions. Let's start with a little history.

Treated Lumber - The Miracle Wood!

I clearly remember when treated lumber jumped into the consumer marketplace back in the 1970's. When I walked into Hyde Park Lumber in Cincinnati, OH as a young buck carpenter, I clearly remember seeing placard signs at the counter:


As we all know, they were 'truth stretchers'. That's a bit strong, but you get my point. That messaging was written by marketing managers who need to sell product. Treated lumber, if you want it to look superb, is not maintenance free.

Why Decks Need Care

Mother Nature's harsh ultraviolet (UV) light blasts decks because the flat surfaces are at a 90-degree angle at high noon when the UV rays travel through the least amount of atmosphere. The UV rays are like intense laser beams that blast apart paint, penetrating deck sealers and other coatings. Mother Nature always bats last.

Water sits on horizontal surfaces and more readily soaks into the wood. Gravity pulls water into wood decks while it's pulled off of wood siding.

Wood is hygroscopic. "Tim, STOP with the fancy words!" Hygroscopic means the wood REACTS in shape and size in response to moisture content. In other words wood reacts to water like a balloon responds to you blowing air into it and then letting the air out.

This MOVEMENT in the wood makes it very difficult for coatings to hold onto wood for any given length of time.

Truck Bed Coatings

These new deck coatings are nearly identical - heck, they might be almost the SAME chemistry - as the Line-X coating on the bed of my pickup truck. I have a very durable coating on my truck bed that looks just like several of the new deck coatings.

But there's a difference. Metal is NOT hygroscopic. Metal does expand and contract as it gets warmed by the sun and then cools off, but it doesn't expand as much as wood does when it gets wet.

Managing Expectations

What does all this mean? I'm convinced you'll see a spate of failures of these coatings in about five years. When the coating do fail, it will be catastrophic and it will be ugly.

I maintain that it's extremely important for you to do all the necessary preparation of the decks before you apply the coatings. How many are willing to do all this work?

Remember, for the new coatings to last, they must be able to grab tenaciously to the wood fibers. This means the wood must be in great shape for that bonding experience.

Our industry has had similar situations where new products FAIL, but the failures are delayed. I can think of the black algae on fiberglass shingles. How about all the EIFS synthetic stucco water issues? What about the defective wood preservative that Marvin Windows used to protect tens of thousands of their windows back in the late 1980's?

Should you Buy the Products?

Two hours ago I was on the phone with my advertising salesman, Frank. Last year he used one of the products on his front porch. "It looks fantastic. I didn't want to tear up the deck and if it last two or three years I'll be happy," Frank said.

You could be Frank. That's okay. He realizes the coating is not a permanent fix.

Realize what the products are made for. They're made for a deck that's been abused or neglected. The products are made for those who can't afford new decking, don't want the hassle of installing new decking, want an easy fix, or just need to extend the useful life of the deck for X number of seasons.

Bottom Line:

I want you to just realize that I can't think of any coating that could be applied to a wood deck that will NOT peel off. Maybe the products above are the Holy Grail. That would be amazing.

But as Kenny Chesney said in his famous hit song:

"Only time will tell, but it ain't talkin'." Well said Kenny!


Cleaning Boat Cushions, Spa Covers and Vinyl

Lori in Loveland, Ohio, sent us some great before and after photos of how she used Stain Solver to clean a vinyl spa cover left outdoors.

CLICK HERE to order Stain Solver to clean your outdoor STUFF!


How Many Bricks in a Concrete Block?

Charmaine De Sousa emailed me asking me the above question.

I had to assume she was talking about a standard concrete block and standard brick.

Both come in a variety of sizes! A standard concrete block measures 8 x 8 x 16 inches.

Standard brick are made so that when you have three brick and three standard mortar joints, the top of the last row of brick equals the top of the concrete block. If you line up two of them in a row with mortar joints, you get 16 inches.

You need two back-to-back rows of brick to make up for the width of the block.

When you do the math, you'll discover you need twelve brick to create the same volume as one concrete block.

What building question do you have? Talk to me. I don't have ESP!


Amazing Tape Measure that GRABS

Watch this video about a remarkable tape measure. Johan, my friend from Europe, brought this to my attention.


More tips next week, Oh wait - a video tip on Friday!


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