Question - I plan to build two houses, one in northern Michigan, near Lake Superior, the other in central Florida. What would be the best roofing for each house, considering the cold and snow and wind on one and the sun and heat and wind on the other: cost, ease of installation, longest lasting, and weather resistance?
- Russ Sauvageau, Ocala, Fla.Answer - You have come pretty close to home with that house in Michigan on Lake Superior. The handyman was born and bred in the Upper Peninsula and certainly knows how tough it is, weather-wise.
The best roof you can get for either house is slate. It will last hundreds of years and will resist any weather (even a hurricane) but is among the most expensive of roofs. Most slate roofs are best installed professionally.
For the Florida house, clay barrel tiles, often called Spanish tiles, are the best, with the same characteristics of slate, and also as expensive as slate, maybe more so.
Metal roofs might be worth trying in both climates, and at a possibly more reasonable price. Such metal roofs are painted steel, and the metal will last 50 or more years, but the paint is usually warranted only about 15 or 20 years. Such roofs can be repainted.
Price wise, asphalt shingles are a good buy for durability and ease of installation, the least expensive of roofing materials, but with a relatively short life: up to 35 years.
If a slate roof in Michigan and Spanish tiles in Florida add 5, even up to 10 percent to the house's cost, then I would go for it.
Question - The space under my roof overhang is open; that is, I can see the rafters where they overhang the roof, and the rafter ends are covered with a fascia board. The paint in that space is peeling badly, and I plan to scrape and sand before repainting. But roofing nails show through this space by half an inch. Can I paint them? And how can I best scrape the paint with all those nails showing? Could I use paint remover? Can I paint the nails?
- Joe Joyce, Arlington, Mass.
Answer - You can paint the nails if they are not rusting. If they're rusting, you have to do something else, and cutting them will be impossible. Paint stripper is possible, but the nails will interfere with scraping. At least the nails are, or should be, in a neat row, and not scattered around willy-nilly.
So, if the nails are rusting, you can do one of several things:
1. Cut holes in the wall between each set or rafters and install vent, to ventilate the attic a little more than it is now. Then close in the space by installing a flat soffit board with a louvered strip along its length. You will be covering the peeling paint and venting the soffits and attic at the same time.
2. Cut pieces of Homasote (a papier mache type material half an inch thick) to fit between the rafters, paint them with a latex house paint and nail them to the surface where the paint is peeling. You can impale the Homasote on those roofing nails, too, and will not only cover the peeling paint but the nails as well. But be careful pushing the Homasote in place; you do not want to drive the roofing nails up; that might push them through the roofing shingles.
Question - Copper carpet tacks were used on the stairs to the basement, and some of them shine in the light, which is kind of weird. No big deal, but is there an easy way to stop that shining?
- Evelyn Roman, Needham, Mass.
Answer - Yes. Turn off the lights, ho, ho, ho. But to do it right is no big deal; Paint the tack heads with a little dab of paint to match the color of the carpet. Any kind of flat paint will do, although I think an oil enamel will be best; just repaint if and when it wears off.
Another possibility, if the carpet is relatively deep-piled, is to countersink the tacks a bit so they are deeper in the carpet, which might cast a shadow over the tack heads.
Question - A roofer installed a rubber roof on my house, and while doing so he took off some rotted molding wood, but also left a bit of slightly decayed wood molding in place. Also, the 2(MUL)4s under the molding are decayed a bit, but he said this was OK. Is there anything wrong with that, or should I have all the decayed wood removed?
- F.J., Woburn, Mass.
Answer - If the decay is not extensive, it probably is OK, because partially rotted wood will not deteriorate further if it is kept dry. One problem with the decay in the trim is that if it is painted, the punky wood is unlikely to hold paint.
Question - My resilient linoleum floors are 30 years old and in good shape, but one area is dull where I spilled rubbing alcohol. How can I get it shiny again?
- Richard Phillips, Westwood, Mass.
Answer - Try buffing the dull area vigorously with a dry cloth. If that doesn't work, you can use Future on the entire floor; it will restore shine and needs repeating every six months or so.
Try the Future in an obscure corner first to make sure you like the way it looks. Future is sold in supermarkets and hardware stores.