BOSTON — Q. We own a one-story stucco home. The stucco is very dirty. Eight years ago we had the house and garage jet-cleaned with water and now it is very dirty again. One-third of the way down from the eave it is clean. Starting there and down to the ground it goes from gray to black in streaks. Can you suggest any method other than jet cleaning to solve this problem? Thank you.
West Trenton, N.J.
A. Annual powerwashing is the easiest way to stay on top of this problem, says Howard Clark, project manager at Warfield Services Inc., a builder in Natick., Mass. Powerwashers are smaller and cheaper than many lawnmowers so it may pay to own one yourself.
The top third of your home's exterior is protected from rain by the eaves, while the lower portions are not, and it's sooty rain that causes graying stucco, or dirty runoff from eaves, gutters, and roof valleys.
After eight years you'll have to scrub these walls with a biodegradable detergent first and then powerwash. Also, make sure your shrubs and trees are trimmed back from your house at least a foot, and a 4-inch coating of black mulch around planting will keep soil from splashing up on the stucco during pelting rain, or when water tumbles from eaves.
Darkening the color of your house will mask this problem. While stucco can be painted, waterborne acrylic masonry stains (like those used on pool decks) are durable, withstanding frequent powerwashing better than paint.
Q. I have an 18-inch neck, and the rest of me is fairly standard, except for a little paunch. My problem is that I cannot find a dress shirt with an 18-inch neck that doesn't have the shoulder seams hanging down to my elbows, and the body as big as a tent. Surely there is someone who makes a shirt that actually fits the "modern" adult male figure. For all us fat-necked people, I hope you can offer some help.
A. Eighteen-inch-neck shirts cannot normally be purchased at regular department stores. Chuck Brown at the Big Men's Shop in Boston, which calls itself the oldest big-and-tall store in the world, recommends ordering one of their "athletically cut" shirts with a tapered body. This will give you the room you need in the neck, without the extra room in the body. The Big Men's Shop will ship its goods anywhere in the United States and to any country. You can call toll free at 800-542-5397, or visit the company's Web site at TallBig@aol.com