ASK THE EXPERT
Q Can cracked window putty be repaired?
Window putty develops cracking as it ages, but providing it is still soundly adhered and the cracks are only hairline, these can be filled to extend its life for a few years. This can be achieved by adding a very small amount of natural turpentine to traditional linseed putty – typically made of chalk and raw linseed oil – to create a mix fluid enough with which to fill the cracks using a putty knife or paint brush. The new putty can be finished by gently pressing paper over it, and then painted once dry. Such repairs will avoid having to remove the putty, which always brings a risk of breakage of glass.
Q With what should I replace a rubberbacked carpet on an old stone floor?
Foam-backed carpets or other impervious coverings should be avoided on an old solid ground floor because they will compromise air circulation below and may cause dampness to form, leading to degradation. Consider instead a natural, breathable covering, such as a loose carpet or mat. Rush matting is a noted traditional covering but requires dampening down weekly to prevent embrittlement. More convenient alternatives are made today from sisal, coir or hessian-backed woollen carpet. If you opt to lay a carpet, a suitable material comprises an 80 per cent wool/20 per cent nylon mix laid over a natural colour, natural fibre contract-quality hair/jute underlay. Avoid sticking on underlay or other materials, which can damage the floor.
Q We’re planning to purchase an old weatherboarded cottage. However, a few of the boards have seen better days – is it possible to repair these?
Defective weatherboards might be repaired by inserting timber plugs or splicing in seasoned matching new timber (joints should coincide with studs). Entire boards may otherwise need replacing. To repair a split, apply glue and while this sets attach a block to the board below to form a clamp against the lower edge. Splits or holes can be covered temporarily with thin sheet metal. Tap any loose boards back into position and refix them before serious deterioration occurs.
If you have a question for Douglas, email it to periodliving @futurenet.com*
Douglas Kent, technical and research director at the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, answers your renovation queries