Ask an Architect
Q We've suddenly discovered we have termites in our home. It was suggested we use the chemical Dursban TC in order to eradicate the pest. However, because we have hollow-block foundation walls, the treatment is only guaranteed for a year. The termites crawl up the inside of the block where the chemical cannot reach them, we were told. Is there any other treatment which would last longer than a year? Barbara Dean
California happens to be the termite capital of the United States and, from experience, I know that the pest-control people will not guarantee their work for any more than a year out here. I've also been told that chlordane is the chemical used in termite control. Take heart, it takes many years for these critters to do very much in the way of structural damage.
I'm curious to know how termites could get into the interior of the concrete block. You may be wise to get a second opinion.
Q I would like to build a wood floor in my living room for dancing. Is it necessary to have ``spring'' in the floor? I would like to use oak with a bleached look (white rubbed-in paint) and sealed with ``Glitzen.'' If I go ahead with the project, will the floor stand up?
Meryl L. Holt
Most people prefer a wood floor for dancing or indoor sports because the wood is resilient and absorbs some of the shock which the ankles would otherwise take on a concrete floor. The ``spring'' is inherent in a wood-floor system and doesn't have to be designed in.
If you plan to have large groups, I suggest increasing the size of the floor joists or else spacing them closer together so you do not experience any ``bounce'' effect of a large group moving in unison.
I am not familiar with ``Glitzen,'' but have used clear urethanes to finish wood floors with excellent, lasting results. Q Our birch-plywood kitchen cupboards are stained Chinese red. After 11 years we'd like to change them to a yellow stain and allow the grain to show. How do we get the red stain off?
When you go from a darker stain to a lighter stain the problems are magnified. You may try two or three applications of a stripper, using steel wool, in order to get into the pores of the wood. Test-bleach on a small area inside a cupboard and see if it has any effect. If this process fails, you may have to change to a brown stain, paint, or re-face the cabinet doors and drawers with veneer or quarter-inch plywood and start all over again.
If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, school, church, or place of business, send it to the real estate editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.