Q: The porch on my 95-year-old bungalow has a tongue-and-groove floor that is in great shape — except at the outside edge, where the ends of the wood are splintered and worn. Should I put a brass or stainless steel cap over this area to protect it? Or maybe you know of a better way to fix these otherwise solid boards. —John, Denver, CO.

A: A metal (or even a wood) cap over the ends of the boards would just make the problem worse; you'd trap moisture against the wood, which would encourage rot. And metal would put a slippery surface right where you need traction.

If the wear is bad enough, there's only one right solution: Replace the damaged boards with new ones milled to the same size as the originals.

To prevent the new boards from sucking up water, soak their ends in a paintable, water-repellent wood preservative, then cover with deck paint. You might have to touch up the ends every year, but that's about the only way I know of to keep them fresh.

— This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram



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