QUESTION: We are contemplating building a garage next to or joined to our house. Can you give us some tips about the location of the garage. Are there any rules of thumb we should go by or should we just use our own judgment?
ANSWER: There are some rules of thumb but the final decision is yours, based on the requirements of your family and city regulations.
Your judgment should be tempered by the principal use of the garage aside from a place to park the car. If, for instance, the shopper in the family will have to carry large grocery bags from the car to the house, an effort should be made to locate the garage where there is easy access to the kitchen.
Consider other factors, such as whether the garage also will be used as a workshop, a play area or anything else. Another factor is weather. Will it be necessary to protect the garage from winds or rays of the sun?
An attached garage is preferable to a detached one, but if conditions make it necessary to have a detached structure, consider the use of a breezeway or some other walkway or protected area.
Q: The wooden shingles on the outside of our house are fairly new but have no finish at all on them. How can they be finished?
A: An impossible question to answer unless your personal preferences are known. What effect are you trying to achieve? The shingles can be stained, painted or coated with a preservative, or bleached. Most of the time, people prefer not to paint the shingles, yet it is done occasionally when a color change is desired.
Using a finish that allows the grain and texture to show through is a more common way of treating them. Should you decide to paint them, use a primer recommended by the manufacturer, otherwise you may find the shingle substance will "bleed" through. In painting, remember the shingles absorb much of the paint. You will need at least two coats of paint over the primer. Apply the paint with a brush and put on a heavier coat than you would over ordinary siding.
Q: We soon will be moving into a new house or, rather, an old house that will be new to us. A friend recommends we have all the locks in the house changed. This will be quite an expense and we are sure the owners will turn over to us all existing keys. What is your advice?
A: The same as your friend's. There are many people who might have keys to the house, among them relatives of the owners as well as several tradesmen. All of them may be honest, but keys can fall into the wrong hands inadvertently. The locks to all doors that permit entry into the house should be changed.
Q: I recently purchased a second-hand cherry coffee table. I was told by the dealer that if I wanted to refinish it, the pores should be filled with a wood filler before staining and finishing. After I removed the old finish, I found the surface of the wood to be fine-grained. It hardly seems to need a filler. But, in view of the advice I got, should I go ahead with the filling of the pores?
A: Cherry wood usually is close-grained and does not require the pores be filled prior to finishing. The purpose of the filler is to provide a uniform surface. If yours already is that way, it would not seem to need any extra attention. It is difficult to give you an accurate answer without seeing the wood. Do you have a friend or relative who knows something about wood? If so, ask his or her opinion about the texture of the wood and whether any filler is necessary.
The techniques of using varnish, shellac, lacquer, stain, sealer, bleach, remover, etc., are detailed in Andy Lang's booklet, "Wood Finishing in the Home," which can be obtained by sending $1 to Know-How, P.0. Box 477, Huntington, N.Y. 11743. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column.