Bricks can be painted to change their appearance, but here in Canada you must use a breathable paint to prevent brick damage and flaking.
A small, pump-up weed sprayer is an excellent deck rot prevention tool. Spray clear wood preservative on wood-to-wood contact zones every couple of years and it can add decades to your deck life.
Q What’s the best way to paint the brick of my house? I want to change the colour from dark brown to light cream.
A Bricks can be painted, it’s just important to use a type of paint that allows moisture to pass through it. This is called “breathable” in the paint industry and there’s a reason it’s essential in Canada. Regular paint can trap moisture within the brick, leading to flaking and falling apart of the brick as that moisture freezes in winter. Brick can also be stained, but you can’t stain a darker colour to make it lighter, as you want to do.
As for painting methods, due to the rough and porous surface of brick, brushing is the best application technique. Expect to use three to four times the amount of paint to cover rough bricks as you would a smooth wall of similar size.
Electric heat in basement?
Q Is it a good idea to use electricity to warm up a basement in a home that has natural gas? Our basement is always cold in winter and my wife wants to install the kind of electric storage heater you wrote about back in 2015. Am I right to oppose the use of electric heat in this case?
A Yes, I think you are right. The cost of a given amount of heat from electricity is roughly 10 times more than the same amount of heat from natural gas at current market prices in Canadian cities. If electric heat is all a house has, then an electric storage heater makes sense. But the fact that your basement’s cold is probably due to the arrangement of heating ducts and not a furnace that’s too small. Do you have any cold air return ducts opening onto the basement floor? Lack of cold air return pathways at the lowest level of the basement is the leading cause of basements that are too cold. Unheated air settles into the basement and stays there, unable to leave unless that air is drawn out. If you can get effective cold air return action happening at basement floor level, your cold basement problems will probably be over. Also, make sure that warm air ducts are delivering heated air into your basement and that those warm air ducts are open and working.
Deck post detail
Q What should I do about the bottom of wooden deck posts as they rest on a concrete pier foundation I’m planning? You’ve written about eliminating wood contact to reduce rotting of decks. Should I raise the posts off the metal holders so there’s a space under the posts?
A An air gap as you suggest would be a great thing, except for the fact that the bottom of the post really needs to rest completely on the bottom of the metal holder for full strength. This metal part is called a saddle, and it would be easy enough to raise the post off the saddle and have the post resting only on the bolts that go through the saddle. Trouble is, that would fail in time.
So setting the bottom of the post on the saddle is a necessary compromise. That said, the saddle will be well off the earth as it sits on top of the concrete pier. Also (and this is what I do at my place), you can periodically spray wood preservative on the ends of the posts as they sit in the saddle. I do this sort of thing every two years using a pump-up weed sprayer, including other places where wood is resting on something else (or on other wood in unavoidable ways). My current deck is 25 years old and all of it looks as good as the day I built it.
Steve Maxwell always tries to minimize the use of electric heat. Visit him online at BaileyLineRoad.com for Canada’s largest collection of hands-on, how-to articles and videos.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020