We recently asked our staff to prepare a list of the most frequently asked questions by customers. We hope this list may be helpful during your upcoming projects. If you don’t see your question here, come on down to the store and ask us in person!
(Note: Always check local building codes prior to starting a project. Read the manufacturers instructions provided with tools and products, and seek the help of qualified contractors when necessary.)
Decking and Fencing
What wood do I buy to repair an outdoor fence or deck?
We suggest Con heart redwood, cedar or pressure treated lumber.
What brands of alternative decking material do you carry?
We carry EverGrain™ composite decking products. We also carry IPE which is a South American hardwood.
Why don’t we carry Trex?
We have found EverGrain™ composite decking products to be equal or greater in performance, lighter in weight, and cleaner cutting.
I discovered rotten wood in parts of my deck or fence. What can I do?
If the rotten wood affects the structural integrity, replace the wood. Otherwise try using Smith Co. or System 3 products two-part epoxy sealer and filler.
What should I use to clean my redwood deck?
We carry products from Cabots, SuperDeck, Messmers and Penofin. All have good lines of cleaners, brighteners, and strippers.
What type of stain/sealer do I use with redwood decks? Why doesn’t my existing deck stain last very long?
We feature products from Cabots, SuperDeck,Messmers, Preservawood and Penofin and in several different levels of transparency. The reduced chemicals/V.O.C.’s used in products today do not last as long.
How do you make IPE decking material gray?
IPE decking material will gray naturally over time.
How soon can you stain after washing a deck?
You should wait at least 2 days, but preferably a week before staining.
The wood on my deck and fences look gray and dull. What can I do?
Use a professional wood cleaner, followed by a brightener. We carry several brands in stock – stop by the paint department for more info.
What type of screws do I use for my redwood decking?
You would usually use one of three types of screws; galvanized, epoxy coated, or stainless deck screws. Stainless are more expensive but they last longer and are less likely to strip.
What type of screws do I use for the newer composite decking materials?
There is a newer type of screw called TrapEase™ that are designed to pull the head in tight without “mushrooming” the surrounding material.
What is the best screw to stop bleeding stains in redwood?
Bleeding/staining of redwood is caused by acids in the wood reacting with the metal. No screw will totally prevent bleeding, but galvanized or stainless ones work the best.
What are the best nails or screws to use for fences?
A number of exterior grade nails and screws are available. Stainless steel or HDG nails are long lasting and are resistant to staining and rust. We also have exterior coated grade screws in various colors. Please ask a hardware salesman for help with your specific application.
Paint & Stain
What is the best exterior primer for Redwood?
For water based primer we suggest Cabots Problem Solver. The California Redwood Association however recommends two coats of primer – one coat of a slow drying Alkyd based primer followed by a coat of Latex primer.
What Type of stain/sealer do I use with the newer composite decking materials, IPE, and other brands?
We do not recommend staining composite decking materials. However, such products exist ask the paint dept. for more info. For sealing IPE decking, we suggest Messmers, Penofin for hardwood decking.
Do you stock “Blue Tape” and why should I use it?
If you are masking areas prior to a paint job that will last several days, “Blue Tape” can be left in place for long periods of time without its adhesive damaging the surface. Regular white or beige masking tape however should be removed within one day.
What products can I use to clean stone, and how should I use them?
First, try some milder household detergents, water, and some elbow grease. Renting a pressure washer is helpful for larger areas. The next step would be to try a solution of one part Muriatic acid or hydrochloric acid to 20 parts water – scrub with a disposable brush and rinse well. Be sure to wear protective clothing, eye protection (goggles), and heavy protective gloves.
How do I apply polyurethane finish to wood?
You can use traditional brushes or rollers to apply polyurethane. You may want to purchase some new inexpensive brushes for your project since polyurethane can be difficult to remove from the bristles.
What are “Clear Coat” products?
Clear coat is a protective coating for stained or raw wood surfaces.
What brush or applicator is best for clear coats?
The Purdy Syntox brush has proven successful for many of our customers.
How should I prepare my interior walls before painting?
You should always clean your walls thoroughly prior to painting, and sand or de-gloss any shiny areas. TSP (tri sodium phosphate) and water is the traditional cleaning solution for paint preparation, however care must be taken to wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, and eye protection (preferably goggles). There are also some non-TSP cleaning solutions available in the paint department.
How should I prepare my exterior walls before painting?
Washing and sanding as mentioned above are suggested. You may also want to consider pressure washing and allow several days for thorough drying.
Can I apply water based paint over oil based paint? How can I tell if the paint on my house is water based or oil based?
If the oil base is a primer, then yes. If the oil base is paint, then you should sand and re-prime the area with either oil or latex primer, then paint over with water based paint. If you bring a chip of your existing paint to our store, we can most likely tell you whether it is oil or latex.
Wood & Lumber
What is ACQ?
ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quat) is a newer type of treated wood product that protects wood from long term decay and termites, and uses less harmful chemicals. For more information, see http://www.treatedwood.com/products/
What type of pressure treated lumber and materials do you carry and what are some of the purposes of each?
We carry Doug Fir ACQ treated lumber, which is 4% saturated for ground contact applications, and is reported to be less harmful to the environment and to people than traditional Arsenic type pressure treated wood.
Do you carry rated structural sheathing and when do I use it?
Rated/stamped structural sheathing for building shear walls can be special ordered if needed.
What is Simpson Z-Max?
Z-Max is a brand of joist hangers/connectors from Simpson Co. designed for use with new ACQ pressure treated lumber. Their triple coated zinc coating resists interaction with chemicals in pressure treated lumber.
What is the difference between MDF and P/C Pine?
MDF stands for Medium Density Fibreboard and is molded together. P/C Pine is “fingerjointed” pine pieced together from smaller pieces of solid pine. MDF is not recommended for exterior use.
What are the newer types of pressure treated lumber? Are there any specific products I need to use with them?
The newer types of pressure treated lumber are less environmentally toxic; ACQ Alkaline Copper Quat, Copper Azole, and Borate treated products. To avoid electrolysis and accelerated oxidation, Simpson triple coated zinc (Z-MAX), Hot dipped galvanized, and stainless steel connectors and fasteners are recommended and available in the store.
Can you explain the different types of plywood you have and how I would use them?
CDX – used for structural applications, rough sanded for a structural finish
ACX – has a higher quality finish one side
Hardwood Veneer – also known as VC – used for finer cabinets and shelving
When should I use “dried” or “seasoned” wood instead of “Green” wood?
“Green” wood is freshly cut lumber and is still in the process of losing its moisture and shrinking in size. Dried lumber has had a few years to dry or has been dried in a kiln (KD=Kiln Dried). Dried wood is preferable in areas where you don’t want wood to shrink, twist, or have moisture content.
Moulding & Trim
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using primed MDF molding as opposed to Primed Fingerjointed Pine molding?
MDF is medium or high density particle board molding that costs 1/3 the price of primed pine, and is ready for final coats of paint. It is harder to drive a nail through MDF, so pre-drilling or use of a nail gun may be advisable.
Can I use Primed Fingerjointed Pine molding products outside?
We do not recommend this, however if you do you should apply an additional coat of primer and paint to protect against weather. You should also set your nails and fill with exterior grade spackle.
Do you have molding that can bend around arches or curved surfaces?
Yes, we can special order “Flex Moldings” for most of our popular molding patterns.
Hardware, Doors & Locks
How do I know what “Door Handing” I have?
Determine the “handing” of your door by standing on the outside of the door (outside of the house looking in, or in the hallway looking into a bedroom). If the hinge is on the right, it’s a right handed door, and you need a right handed lock. If the hinge is on the left it’s left handed and you need a left handed lock.
What is the advantage of a Mortise Block?
Locks with a mortise block harder to pick and are more secure. The cylinders are easier to change when needed for rekeying.
What size nails should I use?
A general rule of thumb with nailing wood is that you want about 1-1/2 inches depth into the material you attaching to. If you are attaching 1/2 inch thick siding to house, use 2 inch nails. If you are nailing through a 1/2 inch thickness of softer material such as insulation panel or drywall, use a 2-1/2 nail. When driving nails into walls, be sure you hit wood framing and avoid electrical wiring by using a stud finder with electric sensor.
Do you have TV and Phone Splitters?
Yes, we have a complete phone and cable section in our store, and have accessories for final fittings and rough-in applications.
What is the difference between Bosch and Makita Drills?
Both are good makes. Some Makita models have a slightly longer battery life allowing you to work longer between recharging sessions. If you are planning some big projects we suggest buying an extra battery that can be charging while the other is in use.
Do you carry nails that will fit my nail gun?
We carry brand names as well as generics, staples, and nails for most nail guns. Please inquire at the Customer Counter for assistance on your specific gun.
What screws do I use for door hinges? My existing screws have become loose?
Door hinges generally require #10, #12, or #14 flat head Phillips screws which we carry in a variety of finishes. Refilling and re-drilling doors and door jambs is a time consuming task and often results in instability in the hinge area. A more sound solution is to reinstall hinges using an oversized and longer screw.
Glue & Adhesives
What types of glue do you have and which is best for my application?
A variety of glues are available on aisle 3 in the store and in the Simpson Steel Connector display area. In all gluing applications, clean and dust-free surfaces that have been “roughed up” provide a more stable bond.
- Epoxy – in applications where a gap or void must be filled, two-part polymer epoxies are best. Epoxies are also used to secure anchor bolts into concrete. Sufficient mixing is essential to ensure a good bond. Follow the manufacturers’ directions carefully.
- Crazy glue™ – is recommended for lightweight plastic and ceramic repair. Surfaces must match and have no real voids or spaces in the joint. Sufficient pressure by hand for 15 seconds normally provides good adhesion.
- Household and Wood Glue – can bond many clean and dust-free surfaces, but overnight clamping is recommended. Use wood glue for wood-to-wood applications and leave clamped overnight for best results. Some wood glues are rated for better resistance to moisture if necessary.
- For “oily” Hardwoods – such as teak that contain a residual wood oil, try using a product called Gorilla Glue that we carry at Rafael Lumber.
- Construction Adhesive – are usually dispensed from a tube using a caulking gun, and are great for adhering surface materials such as paneling, trim, sheet materials, etc. There are general purpose construction adhesives and some designed for specific purposes such as wood to concrete etc. Check out the selection on Aisle 3. Read the instructions carefully and ask a salesperson for help if necessary.
Electrical & Lighting
Can I use screw in fluorescent bulbs to meet code requirements?
Always check your Local County or municipality regarding code requirements. Many municipalities require some fluorescent fixtures in kitchens and other location for energy standards. Screw-in bulbs are often not acceptable because they can be easily changed to incandescent bulbs.
Can I use a GFCI outlet without a ground connection?
We suggest that you obtain help from a qualified electrician when installing electrical components and refer to the manufacturers’ instructions. GFCI outlets generally do require an active grounding line to be effective.
Can I replace a light fixture myself?
We suggest that you obtain help from a qualified electrician. Many manufacturers, however, do include installation instructions with their products for those comfortable working with electrical wiring.
What kind of bath fans do you sell or recommend?
We sell Panasonic. Panasonic has several models that are extremely quiet and have eco-friendly features when in use.
What type of track lighting do you have? What type should I get if I plan to add new fixtures in the future?
We carry Halo track lighting systems and they have a big selection of lighting heads to meet you current and future needs. We also carry an economy line of “Elco” low voltage track heads that are compatible with Halo track systems.
Drywall & Wall Repair
Do you have drywall mud? What if I have to repair a whole wall?
We carry a full line of products to help you do simple repairs or several rooms.
First, some definitions: Dry wall, plaster-board, wall board, Gyp-board, and Sheet-Rock are all trade names for rigid gypsum wall boards. (Sheet-Rock is a brand name of U.S. Gypsum Corp.). “Drywall Mud” is a generic term for different blends of joint compound or fillers used to join, finish and repair dry wall boards. We carry the EasySand product line for all purpose repairs and smaller projects. We also sell carry traditional Joint Compound an easy sanding Topping Compound for larger projects. We have a good line of taping knives, finishing tools, and supplies. Ask the staff for assistance, and check out our home improvement books.
What do I use to prime new drywall prior to painting?
It is best to use a primer made specifically for drywall such as P.V.A. This will give the entire area a consistent finish and seal in the areas covered with drywall mud.
I recently repaired a section of my wall or ceiling. How can I match the texture of the surrounding area?
We have a variety spray products that you can use to apply a matching texture. You can inquire further in our paint department.
What should I use to fix cracks in my plaster?
Flexall All Purpose Filler has worked well for many of our customers. Other types of patching plaster are also effective.
I want to build some shelves. What kind of wood should I use and what are the load capabilities of the brackets?
Shelving can be made from a variety of wood and fibreboard products that we carry, as well as a number of pre-manufactured shelves made of wood, plywood, fibreboard, or steel. See the shelving aisle to see the range of products. Wooden shelves for heavy applications such a garage storage should use 2×4 or 2×6 lumber frame. We carry steel connectors from Simpson whose product line includes brackets specifically designed for 2x lumber shelving (#CF-R and SBV). Load capacities for these brackets are mentioned in the catalog near the product.
Do you carry replacement doors? What is the best way to order them?
We carry some replacement doors and can order replacement doors from a variety of suppliers.
What should I use to fix cracks in my asphalt or concrete driveway?
We carry QuickCrete crack filler and find that it works best for our customers.
Can you deliver products to my residence or Job Location?
Yes, local area delivery is free with a $400 dollar order. Otherwise, a $40.00 fee applies.
How do I make my bathroom grout look new?
We carry a variety or grout cleaners and also have a white grout coating. Those with serious grout problems may want to use a grout scraper or an electric rotary tool to remove some of the existing grout, then re-grout with new material. Always wear appropriate eye protection when using power tools.
I have moss growing on my brick and stone walkways. Do you have something to remove it?
Lilly Miller’s – Moss-Out! has worked well for many of our customers in roof and structural applications. Power washing will also facilitate removal.
I feel drafts around my windows and outside doors. Do you have products that will help me with this?
We carry an assortment of door and window caulking. We also have weather-stripping and foam insulation strips to fill any major gaps or cracks.
The flashing on my roof appears to be leaking. What products do you have to help me with these?
We have Henry’s Roofing Cement and special P.L. roof and flashing caulk. We also have some do-it yourself pamphlets in the store with information for specific kinds of roofs. Our staff is also available to assist you.