Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,

We live in an HOA community where we have a walking deck. All of the planking is rotting and has become a maintenance nightmare. What are your thoughts on Trex? Thank you,

Tita G.

Hi Tita,

Trex is a plastic lumber product that is approximately a 50/50 percent mix of wood fiber and plastic. Because of the wood content, Trex decking has the advantages over 100 percent plastic lumber such as low thermal expansion/contraction, natural UV stability, good traction and paintability.

I think both Trex and plastic lumber are great products. There is a large selection of colors and textures for any project. It’s also available in all sizes and grades so it’s like buying wood from a lumber mill and is guaranteed to last for at least 50 years.

Both Trex and plastic lumber works well in both residential and commercial uses, especially for ground work or in areas of water or high humidity such as fence posts, bridges, and even marine applications like docks, piers and ship decking. If your budget allows it, I can’t say enough good things about plastic lumber.

Hi Robert,

I read your column all the time. I had a new driveway poured about a month ago and now there are millions of hair cracks. he contractor said it was typical for concrete to crack but I think it was because they poured it before it rained.

Bert E.

Hi Bert,

Not necessarily before the rains, but never pour concrete when it’s that cold without protecting it. When we have freezing temperatures at night, the water inside the concrete mix will freeze and will cause the concrete to pop and crack.

It is typical for long cracks to appear in concrete, generally months down the line. But what you’re talking about, very tine cracks all over the driveway, this is due to freezing water. What your seeing is the cream that has exploded on the top. It was probably poured late in the day and was still banging when the temperatures dropped.

This doesn’t sound like the work was done by a licensed concrete contractor. They know to watch the weather and to use heating blankets if necessary to prevent or at least minimize these fractures. I would tell them you want them to tear it out and do it over.

Hi Robert,

A kid in our neighborhood lost control of his car drove through our wall. It’s a long story but I’ll do the repair myself. The rebar is bent but is still there and the foundation seems to be okay, but many of the blocks need to be replaced. Will the entire wall need to be rebuilt or can I just replace the damaged blocks? Thank you for your consideration,

Jeffrey B.

Hi Jeffrey,

This is sight unseen, but if the rebar is intact and the footing doesn’t appear to be damaged, then break out the bad block and rebuild with new, filling each cell with concrete.

It doesn’t sound like there’s a reason to tear the whole wall down.

Submit questions to: Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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