Q. The original roof on my 1950 gambrel-roof house was black. I had a new, light gray roof installed and now it shows a lot of mildew. How can I get rid of the mildew, and how can I prevent its coming back.
- Joyce Eliot, Wakefield, Mass.
A. You probably had mildew on the black roof as well, but it simply did not show, as it does on the lighter roof. To get rid of it, use the tried and true formula of one part liquid chlorine bleach and three parts water. Just paint it on and let it dry.
And, there is a new way you might try to keep the mildew from coming back: long strips of zinc tucked under the shingles in the second from the top row, with about 3 inches of zinc exposed. In the case of a gambrel roof, the strip can be tucked under the shingles on both the steep roof and the higher, shallow roof of the gambrel.
When it rains, the water runs over the zinc, distributing it down the roof. Zinc is a powerful mildew preventer. Before these strips were invented, there was no sure-fire way you could keep the mildew from returning.
The strips, sold by different companies, have different names, but they all do the same thing.
One brand is Shingle Shield, sold in hardware stores, home centers and lumber dealers, distributed by PDQ Building Products Sales of Hingham, 978-878-8733. Another brand is simply called Rolled Zinc Strips.
Q. I am finishing off my basement that has 71/2 feet of headroom from floor to the ceiling joists. Can I use metal studs instead of wood? They are less expensive, for one thing. As for a ceiling, dropped vs. dry wall? And for the floor of the entry, 7 by 13 feet, ceramic tile vs. vinyl tiles on rough concrete?
- Tom Hume, Framingham, Mass.
A. Metal studs are OK, except they transfer heat and cold readily. But that is OK below grade, because the temperature does not get below 55 degrees most of the time, so a minumum of insulation is required.
As for the ceiling, a dropped ceiling is more expensive than dry wall, but will allow access to wires, plumbing, and other things between the joists. Because of the limited height of the ceiling, it is best to install a ceiling that does not go much below the joists; such systems are called no clearance ceilings and are sold in building supply stores. For the floor, ceramic tile is best in the handyman's opinion; vinyl tiles are OK but will follow the roughness of the concrete floor.
Q. I have to replace my front door that is 32 years old, with two large panels and two windows with bull's eye or bullet glass. I can't find any standard doors of this style, and I'd like to keep those nice windows for the new door. Where can I find such a door?
- Jeanne Marie Furnary, Westford, Mass.
A. I don't know if any door company will incorporate the fancy windows, but it's worth a try. Such windows seem quite rare these days. So, try Elegant Entries, 45 Water St., Worcester, MA 01604, 508-755-5237.
Q. Some of the air in my wheelbarrow's tire has gone out, making it mighty hard to push. There is no stem or valve for refilling with air. How can I pump it up again?
- Anonymous caller
A. I have never heard of a tire holding air that does not have some means of refilling it. Dismount the wheel and tire and take it to a hardware store. The store might find a way. If not, you may have to replace the wheel.
Q. My husband replaced a small section of a no-wax floor with a new, matching piece. He used a wax stripper to remove the wax or floor polish, but the contrast between the old and the new is still great. Is there a way to even out the colors? We plan to replace the floor in autumn.
- Susan Barrett, North Attleborough, Mass.
A. For that short a wait until putting in a new floor, live with it. You could try coating the entire floor with Future to see if that might even out the color.