Top News

Q and A with Steve Maxwell: Stainless steel appliance finish and more

These 3M rubbing pads are excellent for smoothing wood finishes and for buffing even textures on metal. The “fine” grade (middle) is the best to start with on most surfaces. Steve Maxwell
These 3M rubbing pads are excellent for smoothing wood finishes and for buffing even textures on metal. The “fine” grade (middle) is the best to start with on most surfaces. Steve Maxwell

Q: Can I use an abrasive rubbing pad to create an even appearance on my scratched stainless steel dishwasher?

A: Yes, your idea should work well. I’d use a 3M silicon carbide rubbing pad in the “fine” grade and see what happens when rubbed in a small area. I’ve used this sort of thing on metal and it creates a nice appearance. The trick is getting an even finish in areas with a handle or curves. You can put a hand-held sander on top of the abrasive pad for open, flat areas, but you’ll have to mimic the effect this creates by hand in close quarters.

Stopping a self-swinging door

Q: What can I do to stop an interior door from swinging on its own? I’ve adjusted the hinge depth as much as I can and still no luck. Is there some sort of viscous goo I can put on the hinges to boost friction?

A: If you can get the hinge pin out (not all hinge designs are made for this), there are two things to try. First, put a slight bend in the pin by pounding the side with a hammer while the pin lays on a hard surface. The slight bend causes more friction within the hinges — possibly enough to keep the door from moving on its own. If the pin can’t come out, then you could try taking the hinge off, hammering the knuckles of the hinge to deform them a bit and increase friction. This sort of thing usually works.

Bathroom wall tile underlay

Q: Is my contractor right when he says ordinary drywall is sufficient behind bathroom wall tiles? We plan to install tiles 75cm up the walls from the floor, but we have our reservations about putting it on drywall.

A: I’d never put tiles over drywall in a bathroom in my own home, so I share your reservations. Installing tiles over plywood is a better approach, and cement board is another good option. Something called Kerdi-Board is my favourite tile backing. It’s normally used for shower stalls and tub surrounds, but it’s also great underneath wall tiles in wet places. Besides the fact that drywall is physically weak, water splashing on the tiled walls can soak through the grout, wetting the drywall and triggering problems.

Moisture content and outdoor projects

Q: How dry does pressure treated lumber need to be for building outdoor projects like decks, fences and outdoor furniture? I’ve read your articles on drying wood for indoor projects, but I don’t know if it applies for all projects.

A: The moisture content of wood destined for indoor projects in Canada needs to be quite low. If the wood you’re using isn’t in the range of seven to nine per cent moisture content by weight, the wood will make your projects shrink and warp as it dries. It’s disappointing and there’s nothing you can do after the fact to make things better. The good news is that this situation changes dramatically when it comes to outdoor projects. In most places in Canada, lumber is dried down to no lower than 12 per cent to 14 per cent moisture content if it’s kept in an unheated space. Even in a dry, covered space, lumber never gets drier than this without being in a heated location. Moderately moist wood is OK for outdoor projects because it’s never going to get more than moderately dry. Also, outdoor projects are less refined than indoor woodwork, so cracks and warping are normal and insignificant. Very wet construction lumber has a moisture content of more than 20 per cent, but you can usually still build outdoor projects from this. In fact, it’s often better to work outdoors with green lumber because it’s usually straighter than drier wood.

Recent Stories