QUESTION: My ranch house is about 20 years old. It has a 90-foot-long roof and the width of the house is about 30 feet. The roof deck is in excellent condition, but the shingles need to be replaced soon. I was told this would be the right time to retrofit the roof with a ridge vent, which would eliminate the need of running the attic fan for hours on a hot summer day. Can you advise me on the feasibility of this project and also if this is a do-it-yourself job?
ANSWER: From your letter, I assume you have asphalt composition shingles on your roof. These shingles generally have a projected life of 17 to 22 years. Yes, this would be a good time to install a ridge vent, a low profile, continuous louvered opening that runs almost full length of the roof ridge. Actually, any time, weather permitting, is the right time to retrofit a roof with a ridge vent. The installation is independent of the condition of the shingles. It is a do-it-yourself project providing that you observe normal safety precautions when working on the roof.
The ridge vent is very effective in reducing the heat load during the summer months and minimizes the moisture buildup in the attic during the winter. For maximum airflow through the attic, the ridge vent should work in conjunction with soffit vents. If you don't already have soffit vents you should install them when you put in the ridge vent.
Clean or Repaint Dirty Textured Ceiling?
Q: We have a textured ceiling in our bedroom and it is becoming a bit dingy. I have heard conflicting opinions about the advisability of repainting this ceiling. What is your advice on this?
A: We regularly receive letters with questions regarding the care and repair of "popcorn" textured ceilings. Depending on where in the country you live, this ceiling treatment may also be known as cottage cheese, California, or carpeted. The texture is derived from a spray-applied paint that has polystyrene plastic foam particles mixed in. The particles give the coating a texture and help hide ceiling imperfections. Pores in the surface help it hide dust and soot. We recently found a company, Sprayed Textures Unlimited, that makes products to clean and repair textured ceilings and also offers a free brochure to readers.
The company strongly recommends against painting a popcorn ceiling. Apparently, paint seals the surface and diminishes its ability to hide smoke and dirt. The company sells a cleaner, but it recommends spot cleaning with bleach and water. There isn't room to list the brochure's 10 tips or the company's cleaning and repair products which range in price from $5 to $20. You can get this information yourself, however, by sending a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope to: Sprayed Textures Unlimited, 1518 Highway 138, Wall Township, N.J. 07719.
Can Water-Based Paint Be Applied on Oil Base?
Q: Can I apply a water-based paint directly over an oil-based paint? And conversely, can I apply oil-based paint over a water-based paint? I have had conflicting advice from paint stores.
A: You can paint over a water-based paint with oil-based paint, and vice versa. However, you should not paint over a very smooth or high gloss surface with either product without first roughing the surface. If the initial surface coat is flat, clean and make sure it is free of chalk-like powder. There is no need to use a primer.
On the other hand, if the initial surface has a gloss, and you sand it to rough it up, you should use a primer. The primer will ensure a good bond to the surface beneath and will help produce an even level of gloss on the finish coat.
When Can Stain Be Applied to Pine Deck?
Q: I built a wood deck with treated southern pine. Can it be stained now or must I wait a specific length of time? Which stains would be most compatible with this treated lumber?
A: If you used Wolmanized wool, the lumber you used was pressure-treated with a commercial compound called Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA)--a trademark for the formulation used by Koppers Co. and not a generic term for pressure-treated lumber. These chemicals cause the familiar green tint in the lumber.
If the lumber's treatment stamp has the word "dry" included in it, the wood was redried after treatment to a moisture content of 19 percent. Then, as long as weather conditions permit, you should let it dry for 12 weeks before applying a semitransparent stain with an alkyd base that has a water repellent in it. This should mask the green color left by the Wolmanizing.
How to Change Color of Cermaic Tile
Q: Is it possible to paint ceramic tile that is used in a bathtub-shower area? We recently installed new flooring, sink top and vanity in our bathroom and now the orchid tile (circa 1960s) looks terrible.
A: We're sorry to tell you that there is no way to permanently change the color of tiles by painting them, especially tiles located in a bath area. An epoxy paint will form a reasonable bond with the glazed surface. However, after repeated cleaning, which is usually necessary to remove mildew and soap scum, the surface will begin to wear or peel.