Engineered wood; outdoor cushions; dishwashers and etching

Q: I was looking at a new condo with "cherrywood flooring." No illusions that it was solid; I was told it was engineered.

Looking again at some damage (the condo stapled flooring over radiant pipes with staples too long, resulting in water damage in several units), I saw that the top layer is a thin photographic film, not veneer.

Does this mean it's laminate, not engineered? And if so, if the cat throws up while I'm at work, am I talking significant repair costs?

The material also scratches badly, I noticed.

A: It is engineered wood, and it would depend on what you fed the cat. A diet of syrup of ipecac, perhaps; Tender Vittles, probably not.

Let's just say the condo developer didn't dig too deeply into his or her pockets for flooring, nor for the expertise required to install it without puncturing the flexible piping in the radiant heating system.

It kind of makes me wonder what other evidence of builder shortcuts will appear in the months after you move in.

Q: I have a great outdoor furniture set that is a little over 20 years old. The chairs are very comfortable but they need new cushions. Hence, the problem.

They are Samsonite chairs and the cushions were manufactured by Hoover Industries in Florida. I have tried to touch base with Hoover with no luck.

Apparently, Hoover manufactured airline seat cushions and covers, and I don't know that they are in the outdoor furniture business anymore.

A: Remodelers have a rule of thumb to which I adhere. When you find something you like, buy extra because next year the manufacturer will be making something "new and improved" and not the thing you like.

A few years ago, I built a window seat with bookcases underneath in the seating area at the back of our kitchen.

My wife was easily able to find someone in Philadelphia's Germantown to make pillows for the window seat from material she bought at one of the fabric stores on South Fourth Street.

You might find something you like going this route.


- Your column mentioning dishwasher etching ran in our paper.

I don't recall seeing the simple advice of reading the owner's manual that comes with your dishwasher.

I installed my first dishwasher, a Maytag, back in 2000. The owner's manual gave me a detergent amount to use based on the hardness of my water (measured in grains per gallon).

The manual said to call my water utility, in my case the city of Chicago, to get this information.

Going on 12 years now I have used the amount of detergent recommended for the hardness of my water and my glasses look the same as the first day they went into the dishwasher.

I do also use a rinse aid as recommended by Maytag.

Just thought I would pass that along. I am always amazed at the number of people that never read their owner's manual, be it a new car, a new appliance or a new tool.

- With respect to dishwasher rack rust, you might want to caution readers about using repair materials not designed for a harsh environment.

My tube of GE bath caulk states "not for use in aquariums" because most bath caulks add a mildewcide.

Considering the dishwasher will heat water to 120 degrees, and dry at a higher temperature, there is no guarantee the mildewcide will not migrate and become deposited on dishes and flatware.

I would not use any caulk inside a dishwasher. If it's not good for fish, it's probably not good for me.

The liquid plastic coating materials mentioned are also problematic. The pigments may be metal salts or organic compounds that could break down and leach out under continued exposure to highly alkaline dishwasher detergent and hot water.

The best suggestions given were to replace the parts or the dishwasher.

High-end dishwashers have stainless steel interiors and baskets. For long-term peace of mind, stainless steel may be the best

Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.


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