The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 175
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 175

Arlington Heights, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Page 175
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SECTION 8 DAILY HF.RAI .1) SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008 Butcher block c&untertop needs yearly cleaning, oil layer Q. We have a solid maple- block countertop in our kitchen. We rubbed it with tung oil before we used it. It's been about 25 years, and the counter has a lot of stains. I've been able to remove the stains on one side and covered the top with plastic until I can find something to prevent this from happening again. What kind of finish should we use? Or did we not put enough tung oil on the counter? St.Albans,Vt. A. Tung oil was fine to use, but you needed to reapply it more frequently than every 25 years. Butcher-block counter tops should be scraped lighdy once a year to remove any deposits, then coated with mineral oil. Let the oil stand overnight and wipe the excess off the next day with paper towels. The ideal scraper is a ski scraper, available in ski shops. Q. I hope you can help me. I have mahogany paneling in one of my rooms. (This is real wood veneer, not pressed board.) Two years ago, I did a major cleaning and washed the walls down with Murphy's Oil soap. The finish became very dull, so I used lemon oil on them twice. I had used the lemon oil in the past to good result, but I must have removed whatever gave the woods their shine when I washed them. Someone I know suggested that I use linseed oil on the walls. I had a can from several years back and saw on the can that it could be used on wood surfaces by cutting it with mineral spirits. I used an odorless mineral spirit and the linseed oil. I applied the mixture with a soft cloth, and Hflnrl de Marno Home repair it seemed to absorb right into the wood. The wood looks great, but now I have a problem with the odor. It has been three weeks, and I have had the window open, but the smell does not seem to go away. I hope you may have a sugges- U'onforme. Clark, N.I. A. Was the old can raw linseed oil as opposed to boiled? This may be the cause of the odor, as raw linseed oil takes forever to dry. It is also possible that the old linseed oil had soured over the years. If the odor does not abate after a couple of months, you may want to consider washing the walls with a paint thinner to remove any oil remnants (be sure to ventilate well with fans, as you should not breathe the fumes from the thinner) and follow that with a spar varnish to capture any remaining odor. Q. My wife and I have a townhouse-style condo with three toilets. After flushing, when the tanks are almost refilled, two of the toilets make a vibrating noise that seems to be in the wall behind the toilets. The noise lasts about five to 10 seconds and stops when die tank is full and the water stops flowing. I have watched die tank as it refills, and there is no noise or vibration in the tank itself. What is happening here? Thank you very much for any suggestions you may have. Via e-mail A. Assuming you have town water, you may want to have a licensed plumber check the pressure-reducing valve; it's possible that something has happened to increase the pressure inside the house, aldiough it is strange diat not all three toilets are affected — but strange things happen in houses. Another possibility is that, since the vibrations happen only when the tanks are almost full, the slowing down of the refill may cause the pipes to vibrate. The type of water pipe (Pex or copper) may also be a factor. The plumber should also check to see what type of refill valves are in die tanks — and if diey are functioning properly. Q. I have a concrete driveway, approximately 10 feet by 10 feet square, with a gap of somediing like one-half inch. When we moved into the house 10 years ago, there was a black felt/tarpaper-type of material in those gaps. Over the years, moss and weeds grew in and around that spacer material, and we've wound up intentionally or accidentally pulling out most of those fillers. Do they need to be diere? Home Depot has foam cord they say to put into die gaps and cover with a self- leveling caulk they sell. Is that the best approach? Should I find that felt/tarpaper-type material? Also (and probably related), if somediing falls on diem on some of the panels, there is sometimes a hollow sound on the concrete! Other panels make a dull sound — like I would expect. Could the aggregate under some of the panels be washing away as water gets into the spaces? We drive on the driveway and have no cracks or failures, so I don't think it's a thin pour of the concrete. Finally, some of the panels have what I think is called spalling — flaking off of the top fraction of an inch of some areas. That occurred a few winters ago (when the driveway was at least 10 years old). The problem has stabilized, and some areas are rougher — you can see the aggregate in some spots. Should I patch these areas? With what? Is there anything I can do to prevent diis? Basking Ridge, N.I. A. The '/z-inch asphalt strips you are referring to are probably Flexel — Va-inch-thick, 4-inch-wide strips of asphalt- impregnated fibers that were used as control joints between sections of concrete to allow for movement and reduce die cracking that occurs during the drying process. We used this material regularly in die 1950s and '60s. Today, the concrete is scored instead. These spaces should be filled. What Home Depot is suggesting is to use backer rods and caulking, which is worth a try. But how big is your driveway? Are you prepared to do that work? An alternative is to hire a paving contractor to fill the spaces with liquid asphalt. Where the concrete sounds hollow, it is possible that soil washed away from underneath tiiose areas. Aggregate is bound into the cement to form the concrete and is unlikely to be washed away. Since your concrete is not cracking in the areas that sound hollow, it may be rein- forced wim mesh. Or it might thick enough to hold up, or the hollows under it are very small. The spalled areas should be fixed to prevent further deterioration. Flush them with your garden hose and apply a vinyl-reinforced material such as Thorocrete or Top'n Bond, following die directions on the package. To prevent further damage, you may want to consider coating the driveway with a mixture of equal parts boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits after thoroughly cleaning the concrete. This can be done by sprinkling TSPPF crystals on its surface and sprinkling hot water on the crystals while scrubbing with a stiff-bristle brush with a long handle. The coating will protect the concrete from salt damage. Do not apply the linseed oil/mineral spirits mixture too thickly, and be sure that you use fresh-boiled linseed oil (buy it in paint stores), not raw linseed oil, which will never dry. This mixture should not be used in enclosed areas like a garage, as it may never fully dry. Q. I am writing about the pros and cons of covering an outdoor air conditioning unit (whole house, not a wall unit). I have heard that it is good to cover it in the winter to protect it. I've also heard that it is bad to cover it, as the cover provides a cozy nesting place for rodents. Via e-mail A. If you live in the south, there is no need to cover the compressor; it needs ventilation to stay healthy — and these units are engineered to be outside for years. But if you live in areas of the country with sizeable snowfalls, it is not a bad idea to just cover the top and, perhaps, a third of the way down the sides. Do not cover the entire unit — ventilation is essential. Q, In our 1890 Vermont farmhouse, a former owner dropped the ceiling in the bedroom and installed white tiles that I assume are made from asbestos. Can we leave them alone or just paint them? Removal seems to be such a hassle. Montpelier,Vt. A. The tiles do not necessarily contain asbestos. Most acoustical and plain tiles bought by the public in building-supply houses for sound absorption or decoration are made of cellulosic fibers. Mineral tiles containing asbestos are generally used commercially for fire protection. Assuming that you are not interested in taking a sample to a testing laboratory to determine the tiles' content, you can paint them with a couple of coats of satin finish or semigloss paint. Regardless of whether they contain asbestos, if they are in good condition, encapsulation (in this case, by means of painting) is always preferred over removal, as removal can release infinitesimally small particles of asbestos that will float in the air for a very long time. • Henri de Maine's column appears every Sunday. He was a remodeling contractor in Washington, D.C.,for many years, and is now a consultant. Write to him in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or via e-mail at Each casing trim has a different degree of installation difficulty Q. I just had replacement windows installed in my living room. Instead of having standard window trim installed, I plan to make casing trim myself. Is this going to be diffi- «alt to fit well? SaraN. ,A. Adding decorative window and door casing trim is one of the easiest and least expensive methods to improve the appearance of a room. Doing this project while you are having new replacement windows installed is the ideal time because the interior trim will have already been removed. The typical type of window casing trim used by builders is clamshell or colonial style. This can be found at any ft/Is. Builder home center store and it is fairly inexpensive. Even though these one-piece types of trim are simple designs and commonly used, they can be difficult to install. With just one piece on each side and the top, the joints have to fit well for a professional-looking appearance. Thicker, more ornate window casing trim can be much more attractive and actually easier to install if you use a built-up multipiece design. Single-piece deep designs are installed identically to any other type of window casing trim. 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Features included in every home. t Masonry fireplace • Volume ceilings • Central air • Siaie-ol-ihe-an kitchen • Masier suite with whirlpool haih • Minimum '/;-acre homesiie When you add up all ihe value ol a new home and great neighborhood, you'll know exactly why Terrace Lakes, in Algonquin, has all ol lile's best, all in one place. !)lkh<-1 IONS: laki 1-VO lo Randall Kd., north to Hunltey Rd., wc-bt lo Square Hani Rd., nuilli lo Winu-igrcen Terrace, right id model. Safes office is ai .iH11 Wimtrgreen len.ict;. "Hen daily IIS, weekends IM (847) 658-8608 ^. U.K. Iir,il:t. In,: / U'V/iwW HuiUer, «=s contrary, three-piece designs are easy for the inexperienced do-it-yourself because the cuts and fit do not have to be as accurate. Three-piece built-up -windowcasing-trim-consists of three separate parts — flat casing, edge band and filler strip. The flat casing is the first piece attached around the window frame. A size of about % inches by 3 to 4 inches is typical. Since this flat casing is relatively thin, it can be deflected enough to follow even a somewhat wavy wall surface. Standard thicker casing trim is too rigid to deflect. The edge board is located around the edge of the flat casing. It is the finish strip around the outside and usually extends out somewhat past the flat casing. A %-inch •byriyz-inch Tpiece-is -often- a good size to use. the filler strip provides a stepped transition from the flat casing to the edge band. It also covers any gaps if you did not get the first two pieces to fit well together. A %-inch by 3 /4-inch piece is adequate. It is least expensive to combine off-the-shelf moldings to create the built-up molding. Some attractive combinations of flat casings and fillers which use a %-inch by l'/2- inch edge band are: 3'/2-inch base, 11/16-inch by 1%-inch base mold; 4 1 /2-inch base, %inch by %-inch scotia; and 2'/2-inch casing, Vz-inch quarter-round. «•••' vjaff^f^' The first step to creating a built-up casing is to cut and install the stool (indoor windowsill). A deep stool is best so it extends out further from the wall than any part of the built-up casing. To determine the width of the stool, tack a small piece of the flat casing and edge band on each side of the window. The stool should extend at least one inch past the edge band. The next step is to cut and install the flat casing on each side and across the top. Use an accurate miter saw to create a 45-degree angle at the top of each side piece and on -both -ends-of the top piece; Place the nails near the outer edge so the filler strip covers 1 . 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