What Would Bob Do? Groundwater, Exterior Painting, and Porch Spiders

Bob Vila answers your questions about groundwater leaks, exterior painting techniques, and spider prevention. To submit a question, visit our Forum Section.

1. GROUNDWATER LEAKING INTO BASEMENT

What Would Bob Do? - Groundwater

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I have a water supply pipe to the house that enters through the basement wall. The problem is that groundwater comes leaking through during every hard rain. I am a very handy guy with considerable experience in home repair, but I don’t really know how to fix this problem. Can someone help me out here?

First things first, before you attempt to patch the hole, try minimizing the amount of water  that accumulates in the soil around your home. Clear all gutters and adjust their downspouts, being sure drainage occurs at a distance of at least five feet from the structure. If any walkway, patio, or garden bed slopes toward your foundation, re-grade the area so that it slopes away instead.

Related: How To: Dry a Wet Basement

If the hole continues to leak after you’ve reduced groundwater pressure outside the foundation, try injecting a water-activated polyurethane foam specially made for stopping water leaks. Do-it-yourself kits can be purchased at home improvement chain stores for about $100; a typical product includes a dispensing gun, cartridges, and injection tubing. Alternatively, call in a basement waterproofing pro.

 

2. EXTERIOR HOUSE PAINTING TECHNIQUES

What Would Bob Do? - Exterior Paint

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When it comes to exterior house painting, there have always been two camps of believers. One camp says, “You must use a brush to paint.” The other says, “Spray is the best for filling in cracks, and it lasts longer.” In Florida, which should be used when painting the exterior of a house?

Although either approach can produce a durable, attractive result, there are some solid reasons to use a brush rather than a paint sprayer, or vice versa, depending on the job at hand.

Spraying gives you a thicker coat (two coats with a brush usually equals one sprayed-on coat), and greater thickness means improved durability. However, if you employ a paint roller in combination with a brush, there isn’t much difference in thickness. But at least on big jobs, spraying is generally faster.

On smaller jobs—and that includes small houses—brushing and rolling may be just as fast, or faster, than spraying. The former involves less in the way of landscape protection; window and door masking; and machine setup, cleanup, and maintenance.

Spraying blows a lot of product into the air, whether on account of overspray or bounce-back. If you choose to spray, expect to go through as much as twice the paint you would otherwise. Added paint costs aside, you’ll encounter that sprayer equipment is more expensive than traditional supplies.

To the extent that it’s “up close and personal” work, brushing enables you to achieve a better coverage rate, particularly with respect to the imperfections (e.g., blisters) that are so easy to miss during the initial prep stage.

 

3. SPIDER PREVENTION ON THE PORCH

What Would Bob Do? - Spider Prevention

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We’re building a screened porch with a beadboard ceiling. I have heard there is a color of blue that repels spiders and other bugs. I’m thinking it may be robin’s-egg blue, but I’m not sure, and I’m also not sure whether this is true or just an old Southern wives’ tale. Three different contractors who bid on our project said they were familiar with this, but they could not tell me what shade of blue.

Choose whatever color best complements your walls, trim, and floor. Your selection won’t make a big difference to spiders (or other insects). What does make a difference is keeping your porch light turned off whenever possible. Further, keep the porch swept, dust-mopped, and clutter-free, and try never to leave food out.