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Robert Lamoureux: New pavers need care to last

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 1, 2010 10:45 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Hi Robert,
We just had interlocking pavers installed on our driveway. When the project was completed, we were informed we should treat the pavers. We would like to keep the pavers beautiful and keep the sand between the pavers intact. How can we maintain the pavers? What if the sand is swept away or the rain washes it away? We don’t wash our driveway or use a blower. 
Teri A.

Hi Teri,   
One of the things inherent with pavers will be sand loss due to winds, rain or irrigation. All you can do is replace the silica sand when necessary and sweep it back down into the joints. This is common maintenance with pavers.
For sealer, visit a local building supply store specializing in stone and brick. Ask what sealer it recommends based on what you have.

It is also important to know what chemicals, if any, have already been applied. Once you have the product, you’ll want to re-apply once every year. 

Personally, I like Okon sealer, but I don’t want to recommend it sight unseen because it may not be chemically compatible if you’ve already applied something like Thompson’s Water Sealant.

Hello Robert,
I live on an acre of property. and I am getting ready to install fencing around the perimeter. What is the best type of fencing? Vinyl, wood or woodcrete? What would you recommend? Budget is a big consideration. Thank you,
Ed G.

Hi Ed,
I like the vinyl fencing. One of the reasons is because it is zero maintenance. Anytime I can save time and avoid painting or replacing because of rot or termites, I get interested.

If you happen to bump the vinyl with a tractor or something, it’s much more forgiving than either wood or woodcrete. 
Woodcrete is popular in commercial applications.

It looks like wood, has grain patterns like wood, but is a concrete product over rebar.

However, it will crumble, especially as it starts aging. My experience is the rebar starts rotting internally and the concrete starts to break apart or spall.

It then needs to be replaced. Also, it’s heavy. Availability can be a problem and shipping gets expensive.

Real wood requires constant maintenance to keep it looking nice. 

Vinyl is very lightweight and easy to install. You put it in and forget about it.  No paint, no termites, no rot, no problems.
Hi Robert,
My wife reads your column every week. Because of you, I had to go and get a flapper, on the hottest weekend of the year for a guest toilet I never use because it kept running. I installed the flapper, but now there’s a leak between the tank and the bowl.

It’s hard to tell where it’s coming from. Maybe from the two little seals on the bolts? Any ideas on how to repair? Thank you,
Nick P.

Hi Nick,
It could be from the two tank bolts, but also check the donut between the bowl and the tank. 

My recommendation would be to empty out the tank. Turn the water off at the angle stop, flush, and then get a rag or turkey baster and remove the remaining water out of the tank and/or towel dry.

Disconnect the supply tube, then remove the tank from the bowl. 

Replace both tank bolts, with new seals and a new donut. Be very careful not to overtighten the tank bolts because you’ll split the tank in half.  The good news is the weather this weekend won’t be nearly as hot.

Carefully reconnect the supply line and turn the water back on. Make sure everything is fine.

I usually check the toilet with some tissue for two to three minutes. If there is any water, it will show immediately. 
Mr. Robert Lamoureux,
I serve on a board of directors of our HOA. We have one unit that suffered a leak in the ceiling that damaged approximately 90 sq. ft. of drywall.  We called different contractors to provide bids and one said that due to new EPA regulations, there are many additional steps required. Because of this, his bid is almost double of the others. Would you please explain this new law? Thank you,
Brian D.

Hi Brian,
The EPA — Environmental Protection Agency — issued rules of safe practices while working with lead painted surfaces in April 2008.

In April 2010, all contractors were required to be certified — both Firm Certified and RRP Certified. Firm Certification for the company license, RRP or Renovation, Repair and Painting Certified for staff. 

You are only affected by these conditions if your structure — home, day care center or school was built in 1978 or before. Lead paint began to phase out during the mid-1970s and was banned Dec. 31, 1977. 

Back in the old days, you would go in and buy your paint, and then buy a bucket of fine lead dust separately.

After mixing up your paint, you’d reach in and get a handful of the lead and mix that with the paint. Lead makes the paint pop and it is more colorful and more durable.

It is still used by the military and on ship hulls because of its strength. But, it’s poisonous. Especially in dust or fume form.   

This prompted the EPA to set forth a very thorough set of containment procedures and practices that must be followed whenever disturbing a pre-1978-painted surface.

These procedures include heavy-duty plastic in the work area to walk on; sticky pads to step on when exiting the containment area; sealing the windows, doors, air vents and handlers; hepa vacuums for tools and personnel; wrapping each piece of debris, like drywall pieces, into a plastic-covered package to be placed in locked dumpster or receptacle.

If the debris weight totals 220 pounds or more, then it is considered hazardous waste and the contractor owns it forever.

This means after it is disposed of, the contractor can be contacted 30 years later and be told that his waste needs to be moved at “x” amount of dollars per pound.

There are many additional steps necessary for working with lead paint.

If a contractor happens to miss one of those steps, like handing a pamphlet to one of the affected homeowners, they can be fined $37,500.

Not only that, but the California laws are different than the national laws and the EPA laws are not exactly the same as the HUD — Housing and Urban Development laws.

As Firm and RRP certified, we are required to know these differences.

This is a tremendous amount of additional expense and work required to adhere to these laws.

Basically, an RRP needs to be on site for the setup and then the cleanup — both steps, as well as the procedures for performing the work, are all very labor intensive.

More steps and manpower translates into additional costs passed onto the HOA or homeowner.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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