How to properly seal a porch floor
Q. My question has to do with porch floor finish. I have a screened-in porch with a cedar floor. I have been putting Thompson's Water Seal on it each spring after power washing it. It makes it look great but leaves the carpet in the adjoining room a mess. Wondering what you would suggest to put on it. Want it to look good but not track.
A. Unless you applied one of Thompson's Water Seal penetrating products, the one you applied was likely to be only a topical one that did not penetrate the wood fibers.
It may be difficult to apply a sealer that will not track unless all of the water seal is removed, as the wood fibers may be sealed off. Power washing may help.
My favorite coating for cedar is Amteco TWP, a penetrating stain and sealer. It comes in several hues and formulae. You can see the various products on the website: www.amteco.com. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the stain to dry thoroughly and only apply it in warm weather.
Q. About 15 months ago we laid about 2 inches of new hand-mixed concrete over an existing cement floor. The problem is the new cement is still dusting after applying two coats of V-Seal 101 Multi-Surface. The dusting is reduced but not totally eliminated. What if anything can stop the dusting completely?
A. Dusting is the result of low strength concrete poured with too much water or with cement powder sprinkled on it to absorb extra water, or the finish operation was started too early.
The V-Seal 101 will reduce the dusting to some extent, as you have experienced, but it will not control it; it is more of a waterproofing coating than a hardening of a weak surface.
You can apply Industra-Gloss SB, 350 or WB, whichever is allowed in your state. The SB contains volatile organic compounds (VOC), banned in some states. The 350 has less VOC and the WB is water-based. But all three of them will require reapplication every two years. For a more permanent surface coating, you can use one of the Industra-Coat epoxy and urethane kits, the choice depending of the finish you prefer. Either one will last seven to 10 years, depending on usage, before needing a new application. Look up these products on the V-Seal website, www.vseal.com.
Editor's note: The following questions were first published in 2015.
Q. I had my new driveway sealed after two years of letting it dry out. Within two hours, the letter carrier walked across the wet driveway, then put eight tar footprints on my cement porch and proceeded to make another 20 feet of prints down the other side. There is nothing I can do about the 29 prints on the asphalt, unless I resurface it. It already cost me $130. I don't know if I can even put two coats on in one month.
But, my big problem is the tar prints on my cement porch, and the Post Office told me there's nothing they can do -- sorry. I'm a 69-year-old gal who lives here, northwest of Chicago, by myself, and it looks like the mess is mine as I was planning on selling next spring. This doesn't do much for curb appeal. I already tried vinegar and bleach to no avail. What can I use other than Benzene, kerosene and muriatic acid as the internet suggested?
A. Whoever applied the sealer on your driveway should have blocked access to it until the sealant had dried thoroughly. To get the right procedure to remove the footprints, you need to know what sealant was used.
If the sealer is cutback coal tar, a commercial product like Sure Klean Asphalt and Tar Remover may do the job. Check out www.prosoco.com and click on Products followed by Sure Klean.
I suggest that you call the people who applied the sealant and ask them to come and clean the mess. Unfortunately, it will be at your expense since the U.S. Postal Service is not going to take any responsibility for helping you out. And the post office has a point; the driveway should have been closed off.
Q. When we moved into our new home six years ago we had a large patio poured before final landscaping was done.
Shortly after the patio was poured, we experienced a heavy storm, and the patio settled several inches against the house. The patio has steel bars in it but it was not tied to the house. I am sending you several photos.
What do you suggest we do at this point? Tear it up and pour a new one?
A. Thanks for the photos. If your house has a poured concrete foundation, and you can find a concrete contractor who does mudjacking, have him or her examine the site and decide whether or not it is safe to proceed with mudjacking. But if your foundation is made of blocks, it may be too much of a risk.
Otherwise, a new slab, a minimum of 2 inches pinned to the house foundation, is probably the best option if you have room for it at any doorway.
• Henri de Marne, a former remodeling contractor turned columnist and consultant, is the author of "About the House with Henri de Marne" (Upper Access Publishing). He continues to take questions from readers for this column and his website, www.henridemarne.com. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.