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Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 03:54 pm

Removing algae from decks

Use a bleach-type cleaner

A wood deck after being professionally cleaned and sealed
Photo by John Mutrux/MCT
Dear Gene: Our deck is shaded and regularly turns green with algae. We have pressure-washed the wood twice in three years to remove the stuff. Is there a better way?

You should be able to remove the algae rather easily with a bleach-type deck cleaner such as Olympic or Wolman. These cleaners are sold at all home centers and are easy to use. Usually a garden-type sprayer (less than $20) is used to apply the bleach cleaner. Some cleaners do not require any scrubbing — they are allowed to work for 10 minutes or so, then rinsed off with water from a garden hose.

Be sure and read and follow the directions for the specific cleaner you choose. If there are plants around the deck, they should be soaked thoroughly with water before cleaning and rinsed afterward.

Dear Gene: I am planning to paint my concrete patio and will purchase good patio paint. What color would best hide dirt from traffic?

My choice would be a dark color, such as red, green, brown, or gray. Your biggest problem might not be dirt but getting the paint to stick to the concrete. Thorough cleaning, and sometimes etching with an acid, is required before painting. Also, if you use a water-based patio paint, expect it to wear rather quickly in high-traffic areas. Epoxy paints are more expensive and more difficult to apply but are generally more durable.

Dear Gene: I have a bathtub that developed rust around the drain, causing small holes that leaked. It was repaired, but the repair didn’t last long. Would a tub liner solve this problem? Some contractors say no, but one says yes. What do you think?

A bathtub liner — a plastic shell that fits exactly into the existing tub — should have its own drain fitting and bypass the old leaking drain. A spokeswoman for Re-Bath (www.rebath.com), a leading tub-liner franchiser, also says it should work. However, there must be a good reason some contractors have said it won’t work. If the contractor who says yes is willing to give you a written guarantee that the liner will stop the leaking, you should be justified in going ahead with it.

Incidentally, a tub liner is an excellent way to renew a beat-up tub. A liner costs considerably more than refinishing a tub, but the cost is far less than that of removing an old tub and installing a new one. Tough acrylic liners in a variety of colors can be molded to fit almost any old bathtub.

Dear Gene: My garage door squeaks badly when I open it. I have been told not to use WD-40 to lubricate it because it will attract dust and get gummy. What do you suggest to stop the squeaking?

I have used this product for many years on many mechanisms, including garage-door rollers and tracks, and have never had any problem with them getting gummy. I also know mechanics who use it regularly and recommend it. It isn’t necessary to spray a thick coat of WD-40 — a little goes a long way. I would spray some on the rollers, in the tracks, and on other moving metal parts that might be causing the squeaks.

If you are really worried about things getting gummy, you could substitute a silicone spray lubricant or one of the other high-tech lubricants sold at auto-parts stores, home centers, and bicycle shops.

Dear Gene: The carpeting in our townhouse is badly stained with filtration soil. If we replace the carpeting, what can we do to prevent this from happening again?

Make sure you get carpeting that is treated to resist stains and have the treatment repeated each time you get the carpet cleaned. Beyond that, you should take common-sense precautions, such as placing shoe-cleaning mats at all entrances and using washable area rugs where there is high traffic.

Quick tip: Reader Marian Ramos offers a hearty endorsement of Sikkens deck stain — a brand not sold at many home centers. “My 15-year-old deck and fencing was stained with Sikkens three years ago,” she said. “After I had it power-washed recently, it looks as good as new.” She says Sikkens stain costs more than many others but adds, “I will never use anything else. I know of two deck contractors who will never use anything but Sikkens.”

For more information about Sikkens products and sources, go to www.nam.sikkens.com.

Send questions and comments to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com or 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Copyright © 2006 Gene Austin


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