Q: We have a 2 1/2-year-old house with cherry cabinets. The cabinets were finished in place, and the lacquer finish is now showing a white ghosting effect. The cabinet maker said we could stop this from spreading by applying carnauba wax. However, a furniture refinisher said the cabinets were sealed incorrectly, and the only proper solution is to strip off the finish and redo them. The builder said the original painter can fix them, but the painter says it’s my fault, and that he guarantees his work only for a year. Help! –Patty P.

A: The white ghosting that you see is typically caused by moisture in the finish, which could result from wood that had too high a moisture content when it was finished (though that’s typically not the case with cabinet-grade woods); moisture in the liquid lacquer or in the spray equipment at the time of application; high humidity at the time of application; or other moisture-related problems.

The typical procedure for lacquer application is one or more coats of sanding sealing applied to the raw wood, followed by one or more coats of the lacquer itself. For this reason I am not a big fan of finishing cabinets in place — it’s been my experience that you get a better finished product under the controlled conditions in a lacquer shop than you can achieve on a job site, and you also get better coverage of the cabinets when they’re sprayed as individual units, rather than as a complete assembly.

Since the problem is with the finish itself, the application of wax over the top of the finish will not do any good. I would agree with the refinisher that you spoke with — to ensure a good finish, the old material needs to be stripped off and the cabinets need to be refinished properly.

The painter’s comment that his work is guaranteed for a year is pretty standard in the construction industry — that’s all that’s required by law, and that’s all most contractors will offer you. Good builders that value their reputation will usually stand behind their product for longer than that, but they’re not required to do so in most instances.

Q: We have a 20-year-old barn with a metal roof that is generally in good condition. However, the rubber flanges under the nail heads that hold the roofing have deteriorated, and now the roof leaks in those areas. We want to waterproof it, but we don’t want to replace all the nails. Any suggestions? –S.H.

A: There are a couple of different products that will work, including clear silicone and rubberized gutter and downspout sealant, which is formulated for use on metal. Both products are available from most home centers and lumber yards, and come in tubes that are used with a caulking gun.

Prior to application, the roof needs to be clean so that the sealant can get a good grip. I would recommend washing the roof to remove dirt and dust — for safety reasons, do this from below, not from on the roof — then let the metal dry completely before applying the sealant.

Be aware, however, that this would not be considered a permanent fix for the problem. When you have the opportunity, I would begin removing the old nails and replacing them with metal roofing screws, which hold well and have an integrated washer for forming a good seal against the metal roofing.

Q: We have some rust-colored stains on our concrete patio from some fertilizer that we spilled. We have tried bleach, but it didn’t work. Any suggestions for how to get rid of the spots? –Maureen O.

A: I would suggest the following: Dissolve one pound of oxalic acid powder in one gallon of water. Soak the stained areas and allow the solution to remain in place for two to three hours, then scrub and rinse with clean water. Oxalic acid is a wood bleach, and you should be able to find it at paint stores, hardware stores, and some home centers. Follow ALL of the safety precautions for clothing and application as listed by the manufacturer.

You can also check with a retailer or wholesaler that specializes in concrete and masonry supplies. There are several commercial concrete cleaners that are effective on rust, and they should be able to make some recommendations.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paul2887@ykwc.net.

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