1. Archive

Replace the molding in French door

(ran HC, HS, HL)

Question: Some of the molding, the strip of wood holding the glass in place, is broken on my old French door. The door is an interior door between two rooms, so it does not get the weather.

What can I use to match the old molding?

Answer: If you can pry off the old broken molding, you can put a piece of glass bead in its place. This is a thin strip of wood that is designed to hold glass in place in an interior window or door. Cut it to length and miter the ends so the new bead will fit.

If you can't pry off the old molding, it is part of the frame and the fix is different. Some French doors were made by building the frame around the glass; the glass was not added last but first.

To fix this, you have to cut that molding with a utility knife to reveal a square "shelf" on which the glass is applied. Once this is removed, put a new molding in its place.

It may be impossible to duplicate this old molding, but any small molding such as a quarter-round, will do. You won't get a match, but if you stain and varnish or paint it to match the original finish, it will be virtually invisible.

Danger to fruit?

Question: My fruit trees are close by a pressure-treated deck, about 2 feet, in fact. The deck has been sealed twice, but would this proximity make the fruit toxic? Would water running off the deck and hitting the trees cause damage?

Answer: The fruit is not likely to become toxic, and the trees will survive. Water was used as a carrier to inject the chemicals into the wood, and, with water as a carrier, water will not leach out the chemicals. The only time chemicals are released from the wood is when the wood is new, and such chemicals are residue left on the surfaces, which was washed away by weather.

Sealing makes little difference in holding the chemicals in the wood, and sealing should be done every year or two anyway.

Impact drill for concrete

Question: When drilling into concrete with a masonry bit, should I use a slow, fast, or medium speed? I have quite a few holes to drill.

Answer: Slow or medium speed is best so you don't burn the drill bit; a burned bit is dull. It will be extremely slow, frustratingly slow.

Instead, rent an impact drill, which not only rotates but also punches, like a jack hammer but with a lot less violence. You will get a clean hole in seconds instead of minutes or hours that a regular drill will take.

Papering drywall

Question: How can I prep dry wall (plasterboard) for wallpapering?

Answer: If the dry wall is not painted, paint with a latex enamel undercoater and apply a second coat of the undercoater or a latex wall paint. Zinsser, a large paint company, makes a special paint for applying paper over.

Any of these paints will make the wall water-resistant and are mainly to make it easier to remove the paper someday without wrecking the paper face of the plasterboard.

After this paint dries, apply glue size, then paper the wall. Glue size is sold in wallpaper shops and is essential to the success of your wallpaper job. It allows the paper to be moved and adjusted when it is applied, makes the paper stick better and, paradoxically, easier to remove when the time comes.

The ants are coming

Question: I'm inundated by small black ants. I am not getting them now but usually in the summer. I see two or three at a time. I have used Ortho spray, but they keep coming back.

Answer: Two or three at a time are hardly an inundation; it is not even an infestation. I know some people who would love to have as few as two or three.

Don't use insecticide indoors; it accomplishes little but is as hard on human beings as it allegedly is on bugs. Sweep them up and throw them away.

Ant cups will help deter the critters. Put the cups in cabinets and under the sink and other places where they might run. Do not put cups in cabinets where food or dishes are stored.

Stucco patching

Question: My stucco house has stucco missing in two places. How can I patch it?

Answer: If the stucco was applied to wire lath, make a mix of Sakrete mortar mix or sand concrete or, if the stucco is very rough, regular Sakrete concrete, which contains stones that are the size of stones in stucco. Apply the material, let it set for 15 minutes or a tad longer, then rub with a wood float or with a rough piece of wood. This rubbing will make the stucco rougher, which is what you may need to match the old stucco.

If the stucco was applied to wood or plywood, coat the wood or plywood first with a bonding agent, then apply the stucco and roughen with a wood float or rough wood. A bonding agent is sold in paint stores and building supply stores.

Send questions to Peter Hotton, Boston Globe, Boston, MA 02107.