What Would Bob Do? Rusty Bolts, Non-Slip Tubs, and House Wrap
Bob Vila answers your questions about rusty bolts, non-slip bathtub surfaces, and house wrap. To submit a question, visit our Forum Section.
1. RUSTY BOLT REMOVAL
I have an old bench outside with rotting old seat boards. The nuts and bolts holding the wood to the iron bench frame have rusted together. How do I remove those bolts so that I can add replacement boards?
Spray the bolts with a penetrating oil, such as Liquid Wrench. Let the lubricant work its way into the threads, and once several hours have elapsed, try loosening the nut with a wrench and locking pliers. If that doesn’t work, buy or borrow a pair of bolt cutters, being sure the tool can handle a bolt in the diameter you’re dealing with (a 24″ bolt cutter can usually cut through bolts up to 5/16″). To access the bolts with your tool, it may be necessary to break up and remove the old boards with a hammer and chisel. Bolt cutter proved ineffective? Resort to a hacksaw or a reciprocating saw. Fitted with a metal-cutting blade, either should make short work of those stubborn rusty fasteners. Be careful only not to damage those parts of the bench you wish to retain.
2. NON-SLIP BATHTUB SURFACING
My wife keeps saying that our bathtub is too slippery and that I should figure out a way to prevent an accident. I’ve gone to a few hardware stores around town but can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. Does anyone know how I can go about making my bathtub non-slip?
Your wife makes a great point: Every year, thousands of adults and children are seriously injured, sometimes even fatally, by slipping in the tub or shower. Take preventative action now to ensure your own safety and that of your family.
Unlike the familiar rubber suction bath mat, self-adhering mats are permanent solutions that stay in place and don’t get moldy. Choose one in a style amenable to both you and your wife. Tub threads (strips of tape) and tattoos (appliqués) are also available, and they too can be found in myriad shapes and colors. And while you’re at it, why not install a grab rail beside or inside your tub?
Another option: paint-on abrasive coating. Applied with a foam roller in a quick and easy do-it-yourself project, such products come in clear or white permutations, or in a color, and they last several years before their anti-slip properties begin to wane and reapplication becomes necessary.
3. HOUSE WRAP NECESSITY
When my husband passed away, we were in the process of re-siding our home. Underneath the existing wood siding, there is no house wrap, only some kind of board that says PS-57. Do I absolutely need to add house wrap before the new siding gets installed?
Before the advent of house wraps like Tyvek, builders used fiberboard to form a vapor barrier and insulation layer between the walls of the home and its siding. It turns out that PS-57 was a fiberboard used for this purpose. The U.S. Department of Commerce withdrew the product from the market in 1982, not because there was anything wrong with it, but because newer and superior building technologies had gained acceptance by that time.
To be certain the fiberboard is still doing its job properly, ask a contractor to remove and examine a small section. If it has not deteriorated, then go ahead and install new siding directly over it. If the PS-57 has become compromised, however, I recommend removing it in favor of a modern house wrap.