Q: I decided to look into replacing some 65-watt floodlights in the cathedral ceiling of my home office with dimmable BR30 LED bulbs. The ceiling is cedar, and the fixtures are recessed with adjustable white eyeballs with black baffles. When looking at LED floodlights, I realized that they are heavier than the existing incandescent bulbs and I don’t know if they generate more heat.
I bought one LED bulb to test and found that it pulled the fixture down about a half-inch. Do I need to replace the fixtures, or can I attach the fixtures to the ceiling with some type of glue or small screws?
A: LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs are much cooler than incandescents, and you can use either. Since the fixtures have flanges touching the ceiling, use small brass screws to hold the extra weight. Or, use the spiral-shaped compact fluorescent lights, which, at 65 watts, are lighter than incandescents. Get the CFLs that are dimmable.
Q: We downsized from a 1787 house to one with vinyl siding. It now has greenish stains in shady spots, near downspouts, etc. We have been told the way to clean this is to have the house power-washed. I remember reading in your column that power-washing was not good for vinyl siding. Was I imagining your words? What is the best way to refresh a house with vinyl siding?
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A: You remember correctly that power-washing vinyl at full power and aiming upward can get water behind the siding, and long-present water can cause decay. You can power-wash the green algae stains, as long as you aim the stream down, reducing the likelihood of getting water under the vinyl. Other treatments for algae include applying bleach, scrubbing and rinsing, or painting with vinegar, which will kill the algae so it can be scrubbed off and rinsed.
Q: I just bought a vacation house. Both bathtubs were reglazed and now show breaks in the glaze near the drains. Is there anything to do, or do the tubs need reglazing a second time?
A: Those reglazing jobs are actually an epoxy finish, which can last for many years. A reglazer may not want to do another job on those tubs, which are pretty expensive to do. But you can try this: because the tubs are white, buy an appliance touch-up paint, an oil paint with the brush in the handle, and apply two thin coats to cover the breaks.
Q: I have a question about protecting two painted surfaces. One is a painted wooden sign – it’s a fundraiser for our local historical society with the date the home was built. I would like to put it next to the front door, which is protected with only an overhanging roof. What to use? Polyurethane? Shellac? The other is a lovely painted stairway. So far, the treads are not scuffed, but I’m sure that won’t be the case long term. Again, what can I do to protect them?
A: Ask the historical society if the paint used is an exterior paint (and primer). If not, it will not last very long outdoors, even under a roof, and the society should re-prime and paint it with exterior paints.
Or, give it two coats of a marine varnish or exterior polyurethane varnish.
The painted treads will soon scuff and wear because both climbing and descending steps produces a scuffing movement, which will ruin the steps quickly. The only cure is to install carpet treads, which cover only the treads, curling over the front edge of the treads. More expensively, install a carpet runner, covering treads and risers the full length of the stairway.