Ottawa Citizen



THE TRUTH ABOUT DECK BOARD ROT Q Why don’t you recommend finishing all six sides of deck boards? I’ve taken your deck finishing course online and I notice you don’t mention staining all surfaces. Floor boards on my old deck rotted from the ends, and I’m thinking that finishing might have prevented this. A

The “finishing on six sides” approach is recommende­d by some deck stain manufactur­ers, but in practice I haven’t found it makes a difference.

Finishing wood is mostly about appearance and does not slow down rot. And while you can go ahead and finish all six sides of each deck board before installati­on, you can never keep all six sides finished.

Once the boards are installed, it’s not practical to remove them for finishing the hidden five sides.

In my experience rot resistance is mostly about drainage and drying. If the design of your deck keeps the ends of boards separated by 1/4 inch, the wood will dry out quickly and resist rot.

Did you work some spacing into the ends of your boards so they don’t touch each other? This is the biggest advantage I’ve found for preventing rot.

I also find that the finish on the top of deck boards will last longer if the edges of the boards are chamfered or rounded. This stops peeling from setting in along the edges where finishes fail sooner at corners.

For a complete free online course about deck finishing the right way, visit baileyline­road. com/25841.

LEVELLING AN OLD BASEMENT FLOOR Q What’s the best way to level a basement floor in my 1931 house? The space is dry and in good shape, and I’m planning to install basement subfloor tiles as part of a campaign to finish the space. A

Tile-type basement subfloor systems come with shims to allow you to level small unevenness, but a basement from the ’30s probably needs more than just shims.

I suggest you lay down some subfloor tiles and see how well they work on your current floor.

You can always gather them up and do some levelling if the tiles are wobbly and unstable. If things are really bad, you could create a very nice floor with a new layer of concrete or floor levelling compound. This would also allow you to install a vapour barrier under the new floor to be sure no moisture migrates upwards.

A lot of work? Yes, but results could be excellent.

Q Why has our new heat recovery ventilator (HRV) given my husband and I nasal problems and nose bleeds? Following your recommenda­tion we were thrilled that our new HRV did away with the condensati­on on our windows, but even running several humidifier­s hasn’t helped our noses. A

The drying power of a properly functionin­g HRV in winter is very strong.

It sounds like your home is too dry for comfort because your HRV is being running more intensely than it should be.

Try reducing the HRV fan speed or shutting off the unit during the day or night. Think of the HRV and your humidifier­s as working opposite to each other.

The ideal HRV operation level results in a reasonable level of humidity and comfort while also being dry enough to prevent running window condensati­on. And the colder it gets outside, the more of a compromise you need to maintain between your noses and the windows.

As long as beads of condensati­on aren’t running down the glass, you’re okay. A little condensati­on around the edges is fine if that’s what’s needed to keep your noses happy.

Don’t drive relative humidity in your home down below 35 per cent to 40 per cent, but don’t try to keep it higher by running humidifier­s. Just throttle back the HRV. Steve Maxwell lives, writes and makes how-to video courses from his homestead on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Visit him online at BaileyLine­ and sign up for his free Saturday morning newsletter.

 ?? STEVE MAXWELL ?? The ends of these deck boards began rotting because they were touching neighbouri­ng wood. Leave a gap for drainage.
STEVE MAXWELL The ends of these deck boards began rotting because they were touching neighbouri­ng wood. Leave a gap for drainage.
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