Home & Garden

How can he keep his porch from rotting?

Q: My mahogany front porch floor is built on a frame over the original concrete slab. I think the frame is made of pressure-treated wood. The porch is covered, open on two sides and uses three fiberglass columns that sit on the mahogany floorboards. The outside corner is often wet, and after eight years the mahogany floorboards around the corner column are starting to rot. What can I do so I don’t have to replace rotted floorboards in another eight years?

A: You will notice that the frame boards are not rotting because they are pressure-treated. So, replace the mahogany boards with pressure-treated ones. They should be of a special kind, usually used for treads. They are 5/4, meaning they are a full inch thick, and of the best quality pressure-treated boards. Install them with 1/4- to 3/8-inch gaps, so water will drip under the frame where it will dry out faster.

And here is what I think is a better idea, one that is on my own front porch slab: Take off the floor and frame, and put in bricks. Put in 1 inch of mortar on the slab, then embed rough-surfaced red brick in a pattern of your choice; allow for 3/8- to 1/2-inch gaps, and fill them with mortar. I admit my father-in-law, a mason, helped me, but you can do as well.

Q: My insulated windows have developed little teardrops of stains on the outside. Can I clean them off? They appear on windows facing the sunny side.

A: I think those teardrops are water stains, and they might come off by rubbing with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If the screen is aluminum mesh, those stains may be etched, which will make them permanent. To prevent the etching, put in fiberglass screens. Maybe you can clean the etched drops by rubbing with lemon oil, rubbing alcohol, or ammonia. Or use vinegar and scrub.

Q: A few months ago we discovered a slow leak from a pipe between our kitchen and garage walls after we noticed that a few planks of the hardwood kitchen floor were bowing downward a bit. There was never any running or gushing water; it was over a long period of time. The leak is repaired and there is minimal discoloration of the warped floorboards, but they are still warped. There are no matching boards available anywhere. We learned that the measurements of our floorboards are way off, and there is no longer any remaining stock. We have considered taking the hardwood up in the kitchen and installing tile or slate, but the floor meets both the living room and dining room at different doorways, both of which have Brazilian cherry flooring. If we had the damaged area sanded to make those boards even again, will that save the hardwood in the kitchen?

A: My first thought is to sand the warped boards to see if that will make them even with the unwarped boards. Another thought: Take off the kitchen boards and put in prefinished oak or another Brazilian cherry floor, or your idea, ceramic tile. Although there are two doorways where the materials will not match, you can cover them with an oak threshold, which will allow easy transition for the eye and feet. My house is very old, with all kinds of different levels, and I installed 13 oak thresholds to ease the transition.