McClatchy Tribune News ServiceMarch 1, 2013 

Q: We have a concrete-slab patio that is in good shape but ugly. We’d like to build a wood deck on top of it. Is that possible? – Andy

It can be done and there are a couple of options, but the first thing you should do is contact the building-code department in your municipality and learn what regulations might apply. For example, you might be required to provide corner support posts with footings below the frost line for your area.

In general, a deck-on-slab is built by constructing a framework of pressure-treated wood that rests on the slab and provides a nailing surface for the deck boards. The slab (and finished deck) must be sloped slightly to provide drainage away from the house and should not interfere with doors that open onto the patio.

For best results, the slab should be free of cracks, depressions and humps. If the finished deck is too thick, it might create an awkward or dangerous step at the edge.

Problems that need to be solved also include moisture that can collect under the framework joists, causing eventual rot or deterioration in the wood framework.

Spacing between the framework joists depends on the material used for decking. If regular treated-wood decking is used, joists can usually be spaced on 24-inch centers, but composite decking requires 16-inch spacing because composites are structurally not as strong as treated wood.

Another option is to use wood deck tiles over the concrete. These tiles are made of various hardwoods such as ipe, sometimes of pre-finished composites in various wood tones, and come in various sizes up to about 20 inches square. The tiles interlock and are simply laid in place over the concrete. They are sometimes recommended for dressing up concrete apartment balconies. Prices vary widely; some tiles on the Internet ranged from $5 to $12 per square foot. To view a sample selection of tiles, visit For more prices and sources, search the Internet with the words Wood Deck Tiles.

Stained fiberglass tub

Q: I have a fiberglass bathtub with a yellow ring I haven’t been able to remove even though I tried numerous cleaners. Can you help? – D. Ratajczak

This sounds much like a hard-water ring caused by minerals in well water, possibly rust from high iron content. It is important to remember that fiberglass is rather easily damaged and that you should never use an abrasive cleaner to try to remove stains. Also, you should test any cleaner on a very small area to see if it helps remove the stain without damage to the fiberglass.

That said, a cleaner that might help is ZUD, which you can buy at many supermarkets. Before using ZUD, read the directions and cautions on the label; this is a strong cleaner and must be used with care. In addition, use only gentle scrubbing action on fiberglass.

If this doesn’t remove the ring, you might need to get the tub refinished or learn to live with it. One way to keep hard-water rings and stains from forming in a bathtub is to wipe it out with your bath towel after every use. If you continue to have staining problems, the best bet is to have your water tested and determine exactly what minerals are at fault.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


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