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Light color on metal roof will keep rooms cooler

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Q My 100-year-old brick home, a former carriage house, has two soldered, flat-seamed, flat metal dormer roofs. The original copper valleys and flashing are in good shape, but the dormer roofs are very rusty and streaking the asphalt shingles. My roofer is willing to paint these — what do you recommend? The second floor does get quite hot. Of the colors you recommend, which is the most reflective? These roofs are not seen from the ground.

I enjoy seeing your column in the Grand Rapids Press, Sunday Homes section.

Thank you, and I look forward to your reply. — Michigan, via email

A: All loose rust will need to be removed and the roofs wiped off with tack cloths to make sure there are no loose particles left — or hosed off and allowed to dry.

The best paint to apply to rusty surfaces is Hammerite Rust Cap, as it encapsulates rust. Hammerite Rust Cap also needs a primer, which the manufacturer makes, for aluminum and galvanized surfaces.

The manufacturer's directions must be carefully followed, as it is a tricky product to apply. It dries quickly, and the paint must be stirred frequently because it contains minute particles of glass that will otherwise settle.

Hammerite paints can be found in Ace Hardware stores, which have just acquired the exclusive Hammerite distributorship. If you do not have an Ace Hardware store near you, call Masterchem's toll-free number, 866-774-6371, to get the location nearest you. The transition from other outlets to Ace Hardware is recent and not yet reflected on the Ace Hardware website. Your local store may not yet be familiar with this product.

The lighter the color, the cooler the rooms below will be — white being the best.

Algae growth a problem

Q: I read your articles in the newspaper each week when I am home ... and clip the ones that are of interest. Now I am writing about a problem.

We have a summer home at Deep Creek Lake, Md. The home has cedar wood on the outside. The boards were stained with a Cabot oil-base, semi-solid stain before they were put on the home. The stain lasted for about 15 years and was then pressure sprayed before another coat was applied.

At that time, oil base was no longer available in Pennsylvania, so it was bought in West Virginia. It has been on for three years and it looked very bad (it is a light beige shade and took on a dirty look).

We were using a Clorox mix on another project and tried it on the wood. As it turns out, the wood has algae on it. We sprayed it with the Clorox mix, 3 to 1, left it on five minutes, and sprayed with the hose. Very little stain came off, but the spray almost immediately removed the algae.

Now my question: What stain do you recommend for a home in the woods? It does get some sun but is surrounded by trees. Apparently, oil base is no longer being used, and that is OK. However, the stain I checked out at Sherwin Williams is said to last for only three years! That is not very long when you have a large home. Please help.

Thanks for any help you could give me. — Pennsylvania, via email

A: The original stain lasted a long time, far longer than any stain is manufactured to last. You were very fortunate.

I suggest that you stick with a Cabot stain of the near same color as you have now, which you can apply over the existing surface as long as it is clean and sound. Most stains will need to be reapplied every three to five years. You should have a mildewcide added to reduce the risk of algae growth.

Time to replace windows?

Q: Our house is 30 years old. What are the indications that the windows need to be replaced? — Shelburne, Vt., via email

A: Assuming that your windows are double-glazed, if the glass fogs up between the two panes, the seal is broken. This does not materially affect the energy efficiency of the windows, but certainly changes the aesthetics. If, when the wind blows, you feel a draft around the sashes, the windows are poorly weather-stripped, but if the draft is around the frames, the windows were poorly installed.

Henri de Marne's book, “About the House,” is available at and in bookstores. His website is Readers can send questions to Henri de Marne's email address at, or to First Aid for the Ailing House, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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