LESLIE: Cynthia in New York is on the line and has a question about some steps. What are you working on at your money pit?
CYNTHIA: At last Labor Day, I had a new entranceway put onto an old, renovated cottage. There’s pretreated wooden steps and they’re open. Now, the water has settled along cracks and so I filled in these cracks with wood putty. I was intending to paint it. Then I sanded the cracks and then the rains came and snow came before I could even paint it.
Now, is that putty still good? And the second thing is I’ve heard you mention something about primer. And I don’t know what primer is but do these – they’re pretreated. Do they need primer? And is that what would help the wood putty? I’m really not quite sure. And is it too late now to even consider doing this before spring?
LESLIE: Now, when you’re looking at the area that you put the putty in, has it shrunken away from the edges of the cracks? Or does it seem like it’s still holding within the area that you filled?
CYNTHIA: I think it’s still – they’re long cracks. The pretreated wood must not have been the very best of wood. And so they are long. Like some of them are a foot long but very – an 1/8-inch aperture. And I adjusted that I sort of scraped over the top. It was called “wood putty.” But someone had mentioned that once rain gets to it, it disintegrates and it’s not worth trying to even paint over it.
LESLIE: Well, I think if you’re seeing that it’s still adhering to the crack or it’s still filling in fully and hasn’t shrunken away from the edges, I think you’re in good shape. And you definitely do want to prime the wood surfaces. The only issue is if the wood is wet. Has it rained or has there been snowfall on it? So you want to make sure that the wood is nice and dry before you go ahead and apply anything onto it. So, if there’s been rain, let it dry out for a couple of days. And then once you feel that the wood is dry, definitely prime it.
CYNTHIA: I don’t understand what prime it.
TOM: So, Cynthia, primer is a type of paint. You have paint for inside your house, you have paint for outside your house, you have paint that has different shininess to it. A primer is simply a type of paint and as Leslie said, it’d designed to give good adhesion between the original surface – which, in this case, is the wood steps – and then the finish coat of paint. So, when we say to prime it, what we mean is to paint it with a primer. And then once it dries, then you could put your topcoat of paint on top of it. So you’re just going to want to make sure that you’re working with exterior-grade primers and exterior-grade paint.
CYNTHIA: OK. Well, thank you very much, sir. I listen to you all the time and you’re a great help.