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Question - My house has open eaves; that is, the rafters and joists that overhang the wall where the roof meets the wall are exposed. And, the ends of those rafters and joists are starting to deteriorate, not much but enough to look bad and not hold paint. What can I fill those deteriorated areas with to smooth them over and make them look good again? Is there some kind of plastic or epoxy to arrest the decay? Stuart Grover, Lincoln, Mass.

Answer - Yes, there is an epoxy filler designed to fill in decayed areas. There are several on the market of different names; one widely available filler is made by Minwax. To fill those deteriorated areas, all the decay must be dug out; any decay left under the filler could continue to decay. After digging out the decay, treat the wood with bleach to kill any fungus that is causing the decay in the first place. Rinse and let dry before filling.

If the decay has actually shortened the rafter and joist ends, the filler is more difficult to work, because you'd have to recarve it to extend the shortened ends. If that is the case, you can cut the ends off to expose sound wood, and nail or screw on a pressure-treated wood end cap shaped to match the ends.

In either case - filler or end cap - prime with an oil-based primer and paint with two coats of latex house paint.

Question - I drilled a hole in ceramic tile in the wrong place, and now I want to fill it. One salesperson suggested caulking or grout. What would look best? Robert DeMattia, Revere, Mass.

Answer - Caulking is not the material to use; it will collect dirt and mildew and will always show. Use a sandless grout, which will give you the smoothest patch, and you might even find a grout color to match the tile. If not, color the grout with a universal tinting color, sold in hardware and paint stores. You could also paint the patch with an oil-based, high-gloss enamel to give the patch a shine to match the shine of the tile. In any case, you will get a patch that will at least disguise it, at most will make it virtually invisible. And if you won't tell anyone where the patch is, only you will know.

Before filling the hole, you may have to stuff in a little steel wool to act as a backer for the grout. If you don't do that, you are likely to be filling the whole wall cavity with grout, or trying to, and wondering why it's happening.

Question - I have several bridge chairs with needlepoint seats that are not removable. The needlepoint is in good shape, but very dirty. How can I clean it? Hilda Mason, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Answer - When I was a lad, I used to scrub my mothers's carpeting, and some needlepoint chair seats, with H&H carpet soap. I don't know if it exists any more, but it was very, very good, and I got nothing but praise from Ma. That was more than half a century ago, and while I remember the H&H quite well, I remember the praise even more.

If you can't find H&H, use Ivory soap. Use the bar, and rub a wet sponge on the soap to get a good lather, and scrub the needlepoint. I suggest a sponge instead of a scrub brush because a brush might snag the yarn of the needlepoint. Rinse thoroughly by sponging with a wet sponge, not soaking the needlepoint. Use as little lather as possible because it will take a lot of wiping with a wet sponge to remove it. The chairs will come out bright and clean.

It has always been tough to take adhesive off a wood floor after linoleum is removed. Some things work for some people, others work for others.

Sandra Horn of Rowley, Mass., called to tell us what she used. It's called (of all things) Old Adhesive Dissolver. "I bought it at Color Tile in Peabody, and it works," she said. "It is a clear gel and is caustic."

Since it is caustic, it probably is a paint remover of some sort, or a relative of paint remover. But if it works, one can be thankful, and the handyman will put it in his vast file of information, with thanks to Sandra Horn.

Question - I stripped a cedar lamppost of its paint, and now I want to stain it. I was told to use a semitransparent stain because it will not peel. I have some latex stain of the same color as the house (manila). Can I use that? Tom Leddy, Weston, Mass.

Answer - Yes, two coats will do nicely. But it's a solid stain, and as such it could peel, although it may not peel as severely as a primer and paint did. A semitransparent stain will definitely not peel, and only one coat is needed. And another in five years or so. Colors are limited with semitransparent stain, and manila is not one of them, but beige is, and might be a fair match.

So, since you have the latex stain, use it, and apply thin coats. In fact, if you experiment a little and thin the latex stain with a little water (not much is needed), you can turn the stain into a semitransparent stain of the same color. And, as I have repeated many times, using semitransparent stain will reduce peeling to a minumum or eliminate it entirely.