There are both oil and latex paints and stains for pressure-treated lumber.

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Q: I live in a condo development. The association is requiring owners to paint their patio fences.

The fences were made of pretreated wood and were painted gray. The paint has never stayed on very well, and the color has changed from gray to white.

What can be done to the wood to properly prepare it for painting and a color change?

Will the paint ever stay on? Will it require two coats? Would priming help?

A: The paint probably never adhered properly because the wood wasn’t allowed enough time to dry thoroughly before the work was done.

Oddly, I found some useful information on how to determine dryness on the website of the Burlington, Vt., planning commission:

“There are differing opinions on how long pressure-treated wood should sit before painting — some say a year, others six months. It depends on how dry the wood was when it was installed.

“One test is to sprinkle some water on it — if the water is absorbed, it’s ready to be painted. If time is an issue, use wood marked KDAT (kiln-dried after treatment).”

I have neither painted nor stained pressure-treated wood because I don’t like the look. I prefer to let the wood weather to a grayish color. Then I clean it and coat it with a clear water repellent.

I used this technique on the deck of a former house, and on the stairs leading from my kitchen to the patio at the present one.

There are both oil and latex paints and stains for pressure-treated lumber. I always prime new anything before I paint, and I usually apply two coats — making sure to allow enough time for the primer and first coats to set up and dry before adding topcoats.

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Q: My sister’s house sustained damage from a roof leak and it needs a lot of work to repair it. The roof has been replaced, but she still needs work done in her kitchen. My question is how to either refinish cabinets, or paint over the stain.

A: Are the cabinets wood or laminate? How much damage was done? Did they warp? Didn’t the homeowners’ insurance cover replacement of the damaged cabinets?

I have in the past written about painting wood cabinets as a low-cost alternative to replacing them.

There have been do-it-yourself programs on TV that have demonstrated this technique.

But from what I have seen up close, this cosmetic treatment doesn’t last or, in many cases, doesn’t look very good, no matter what the hosts or the makers of the paint designed for this job say.

I’d go back to the insurance company about replacing the cabinets.

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Vacuum cleaner survey: For the first time in many years, Consumer Reports’ latest vacuum report doesn’t include Hoover among its list of recommended uprights.

The magazine said Hoover did top ratings overall, and its canister models remain top picks.

(The Hoover Platinum canister, $365, was named a best buy.)

Still, only two brands were more reliable than Hoover among canister vacuums — Rainbow and Dyson — and there were more-reliable brands among uprights. The top pick among the uprights was the $260 Kenmore Intuition.

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Yard sale advice from FirstAlert, the manufacturer of smoke detectors and security devices: Many communities schedule an annual yard sale date for all neighbors to participate and will promote the event on your behalf.

If you don’t live in a neighborhood that organizes garage sales, consult local newspapers to make sure your chosen date does not conflict with a community event.

Plan the merchandise layout with customers in mind, and think about how you like to shop.

Staging similar items together, like children’s toys on a small table or electronic items near an outlet for testing, will help bargain hunters home in quickly on items they want. Make sure outdoor and garage items are secured out of children’s reach and cords aren’t tripping hazards.

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(Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.)