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Q: Tim, my neighbor discovered that many of his outdoor deck floor joists are rotting. The rot is along the top where the decking attaches to them. It’s treated lumber rated for outdoor exposure. How can this be possible? I thought treated lumber was rot-proof and would last for a lifetime. What’s going on and are there ways to prevent treated lumber from rotting in the event something’s wrong? —Andy D., Lexington, Ky.

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To reduce fleas in your yard without chemicals, diligent raking and mowing keep the yard from becoming a natural haven for them. Add soft mulch or wood chips to flower beds and your pets’ favorite nesting spots.

Q: Help me, Tim! I’m so darned frustrated! The paint on the outside of my home and shed keeps peeling. Both have wood siding. Every few years I’m out there scraping and starting over. What am I doing wrong? I follow the directions on the label of the paint can to the letter. Is it the paint? Is it something I’m doing wrong? Is it just the weather where I live? I’m beginning to think an evil hex was cast upon my house by an enemy of a former owner. Please help me because I don’t want to put up vinyl siding to eliminate the paint issue. —Debbie S., Waterloo, Iowa

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Kids’ outdoor furniture like playhouses should be cleaned and inspected before it’s time to play. Plastic playhouses and furniture can be hosed down with water, or you can use a pressure washer. For wood playhouses, you may need to use a wood-safe solvent and a soft brush. If you’re concerned about critters finding their way into the playhouse, ward them off by planting mint around it.

Q: The grout line between my kitchen granite countertop and the tile backsplash has cracked for the umpteenth time. Each winter the crack appears, and each year I re-grout it hoping it will be the final time. Am I using the wrong grout? How would you repair this, and why does the crack disappear on its own in the summer? I have the same issue with other cracks around my home that mysteriously open and close depending on the time of year. --Gary K., Columbus, Oio

Q: Tim, I’ve got a challenge for you. I live in a 100-year-old Craftsman house with gorgeous wood trim around the windows and doors. The trim is wide, and there’s a stunning head piece across the top of all windows and doors.

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On one hand, rustic painted wood looks at home in farmhouse decor. But on the other hand, painted wood furniture is also a feature of farmhouse style. So try to balance the two. If you have any wooden furniture that has an unfashionably dark stain or that you just don’t like the look of as it is now, consider painting it. Chalk paint, such as The Spruce Best Home Chalky Finish Paint, is excellent to get started with if you’ve never painted furniture before.

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Reclaimed wood is a big part of rustic farmhouse style. Or if you can’t find any pieces you like made from genuine reclaimed wood, you could opt for furniture that looks as though it’s made from reclaimed wood. We love the UMBUZÖ Reclaimed Wood Dining Table, made from solid reclaimed pine and fir lumber.

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