Sanding a parquet floor
Q. I have a beautiful wood parquet floor that has seen better days. How can I safely sand the tiles with grain that goes at right angles to its neighbor. A drum sander would really mess it up. Is there an easier way to sand parquet?
A. As a matter of fact, there is: A flat plate sander, just as big and heavy as a drum sander, but the flat plate orbits, making it easier to heft and not as miserable as a drum sander. And here’s another idea: Instead of sanding to the bare wood, try sanding lightly with fine grade paper to allow two or three applications of oil-based urethane varnish, which will retain the darkened, aged look. The inconvenience of an oil-based varnish is compensated by how wonderful it makes the floor look. Buy a pint or quart of paint thinner to handle the brush. I tried this in my dining room, and it worked wonders. The dining room floor is wide pine, but the varnish still worked.
Q. I was told that if you pressure-washed asbestos-cement siding, the siding will absorb water. Is this true?
A. It sure will, but it is against the law to pressure-wash asbestos siding, because the pressure will knock off bits of asbestos, a very dangerous thing to happen. Asbestos siding must be left alone. Not sanded, not scrubbed, not broken, not drilled, not sawn, not anything. It can be painted after washing. Use a latex exterior primer and finish with an exterior latex house paint, or simply two thin coats of a latex solid color stain. Try not to change the color.
Q. My overhead doors are noisy and ordinary thin oil doesn’t work well to quiet them down. Heavier grease can work, but it’s hard to apply it, and when it is hot out it tends to drip.
A. There might be graphite lubes available that are easier to apply. Call an overhead door company for more information.
Q. I had a huge picture window installed two years ago. It has a double hung window on each side, and the big one started to leak recently. The contractor came out four or five times and couldn’t find the leak. Then a handyman came out and fixed the leak for a while. Finally the factory sent out a new huge window for big bucks, but the original leak stopped before I could put the new one in, so I sold it for fewer bucks than I paid for. All went well until one of the side windows leaked water in under the sill. Now what?
GORDON McBEAN, Plymouth
A. After that woeful saga, be happy the big one is OK, and hope for the best. You can seal that side window leak by caulking the outside sill. Or use Mortite, a rope caulk that you can take off and re-use whenever it is needed.
Remember last Thursday when a nice fellow who named himself Sissy called to say he cries whenever he sees all the garter snakes in his yard and garden. The Handyman told his friend he has to live with the snakes, which may or may not work for him.
Barbara McCauley of Wayland e-mailed to say how she copes with them: “We have garter snakes in our yard, too, and I’m also terrified of them. (I couldn’t even look at the May 27 Globe magazine article about rattlers in the Blue Hills because of the photos). But I have found that wearing heavy knee-high boots every time I mow or work in the yard makes it possible for me to coexist with them. Not sure why the boots make me feel safe, but they do. The boots are worth a try.”
Thanks for the good idea, Barbara. Just for the record, the rattlers are in the Blue Hills, and nowhere near anyone’s garden.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton 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