Covering old cedar shingles
Q. I have old, very tired-looking cedar shingles on my house. I would like to cover them with something. Should I use new shingles, vinyl, or the new fiber-cement? What would you suggest for something that is low- or no-maintenance?
MARY, from Lexington
A. I would avoid vinyl, although Cedar Impressions, which look like painted shingles, are the best of the vinyl and also I think the most expensive. The fiber-cement is good (no asbestos) and the primer and paint on them are under warranty for 15 years. But for no-maintenance, white cedar is for you.
Q. I want to install cedar waferboard but am having trouble finding it.
STEVEN, in Hotton’s chat room
A. I looked up waferboard on
Q. I hear water dripping under my sink after I turn off the tap. I can’t find any signs of water under the sink, outside the pipe, or in the basement. Also, the kitchen sink never shuts off unless I jiggle the handle. What is wrong?
WORRIED A. I don’t think anything is wrong. Water often continues to run through the strainer, drip by drip. Water may also be dripping farther down the drain where it turns a corner. I have the same dripping sound, and find no water where it doesn’t belong.
As for the faucet, there is something loose or worn that only a plumber can find.
Q. My back porch has been winterized, completely redone, but has no heat, and is covered with an old wall-to-wall carpet. The kitchen fan exhausts into the porch.
My daughter smells mold. My neighbor smells mold. I don’t smell anything.
I plan to clean and seal the concrete floor, which is slab on grade. How can I tackle that mold smell, even though I can’t smell it?
SUE TAYLOR, Natick A. Welcome to Water Vaporville. I can’t tell why two people smell mold and you don’t. But for starters, turn off that exhaust fan until you can divert it to the outdoors. It is pouring humid air into the porch, where it is condensing and adding to the mold odor. The kitchen air is extra humid, too. If you haven’t already, remove the old rug and don’t replace it until you get rid of all that humidity. You can’t seal a floor against the invasion of water vapor, but you can regularly ventilate that porch.
To check for moisture coming up through the concrete, try this old trick: Pull back the rug, if any, and put a piece of polyethylene or tarpaper 3 feet long and 3 feet wide on the floor.
Wait a day, and lift that piece. If the floor is wet, you know that water vapor is indeed coming up and condensing. You could cover the concrete with ceramic tile and put down a few small rugs, which should be OK.
Q. My 1927 home has two bathrooms that were redone in the early ’70s. It looks like a quality tile job with metal lath as the foundation.
If I want to change the tiles do I need to go down to the studs and sub floor, or can I chip off the old tiles and use thin-set to apply the new tiles?
JIM, by e-mail
A. If the tiles are on wire lath, it’s a so-called mud job, and I think you will have to take off tiles and lath at the same time, which brings you down to the studs. Then insulate where necessary and put up cement board as a base for the new tile, then install with thin-set. This is for walls. For the floor, you can lift the toilet and put on a second layer of tile with thin-set. Taking off the floor tile will be a major project.
You did say “If I want to change the tiles,’’ which indicates to me that you might keep them. I’m guessing the tiles look pretty good, so why not?
Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.