Brick is a long-lasting building material, but it can get old – or you might get tired of the same old thing and want to paint it. But there are a few things you should know before you do this.

All masonry is porous, so it must be thoroughly cleaned first. A power washer is a good tool to use.

For stubborn stains, TSP – or tri-sodium phosphate – is a good cleaner. Just wear gloves and other protection, as it is a strong cleaner.

The surface needs to be completely free of oil, so use solvents if you find any oil or grease on the surface.

Mildew and mold also take hold of concrete quickly, so remove all traces of it with a mixture of water and liquid laundry bleach.

Once your surface is clean, give it plenty of time to dry, perhaps several days.

Make sure all cracks are filled with mortar or grout, depending upon the existing surface.

A primer is a good idea because the masonry is very porous and the primer will help seal it and give you a smoother surface. Make sure you use one made for masonry and follow the directions to the letter for optimum results.

Latex is a good choice in paint and, if you can find one with a mildewcide, it would be even better.

If you take the time required to do the paint job properly, it will last for a long time. You’ll also be able to paint over this when you do get tired of the current color.


Q: I have a couple of bags of cement left over from my barbecue grill stand. I know I will be able to use it for some upcoming projects but just don’t have time to do them right now. I worry that it will turn to rock if I don’t store it properly. What’s the best way to store cement that has not been used up yet? – T.P.

A: The biggest problem is moisture, and it can absorb that just from humid air. You need to try to eliminate this problem. If you can place the bag into a heavy-duty plastic bag, it will stay good longer – double bag it for even better results. A sealable plastic bin also is a good choice. Keeping both of these off the ground also will help. If you could store these in an interior closet or room, even better.


Q: I have always drained my water heaters twice a year and they have never failed me – until now. I can’t seem to get the faucet on one of them to stop dripping. I’m afraid the other one will start soon. How can I stop the drips? – K.N.

A: This is a very common problem and you are lucky it hasn’t happened until now. Just install a hose cap onto both faucets as soon as you can pick them up at the hardware store. That’s all you have to do.


Q: I’m finally going to take some time off work to paint my home’s exterior. I have the color picked out for the trim – black – but the door is stained. I want to paint over it but want to use a light color. What do I need to do to cover the stain completely? – N.D.

A: Lightly sand the door first. Then apply a primer to the door. Then you can paint, probably two coats. Make sure you use a good-quality paint that is resistant to outdoor conditions.


A great way to keep your garage cooler is to add ventilation, and a fan is an inexpensive and efficient way to do this. Tjernlund Products has come out with a “Cool Breeze” Garage Fan that is mounted between the joists to pull hot air from the garage ceiling and exhausts it through your roof. The 1200 CFM motor is super powerful, has a built-in automatic fire damper, adjustable thermostat, optional timer, wireless wall switch and removable control. You’ll need to install two outdoor air intake grilles to create the draw, which is included with the fan. To find out more, go to

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.