Question No. 1 Hi Robert, I would like to have my backyard resurfaced or recolored. I have an in-ground pool that takes up most of the concrete and partly bricked surface. The concrete has several different shades of grey color and always looks faded and ugly. I am retired and live on a fixed income. What would you recommend would be the best and the cheapest? I see several advertisements in “The Home Improvement Guide” offering: stamped, concrete overlay and Stained. Look forward to your answer. I am a fan of yours and have been. Thank you. Gerrie C. Answer No. 1 Gerrie, Thank you for writing in. The overlay is a no-go, these overlay systems do not do well with lots of water near a pool, especially with the chemicals in the water. They will discolor quickly, they will spall (peel off the surface of the concrete) and you won’t be happy in the end. What I do recommend is the dyed concrete option, in which you can choose the color you like. You won’t have to worry about spalling like the overlay, as with this option, the dye penetrates the concrete and will last longer. The dying is a lot less expensive than the overlay also, so should be a better option with a fixed income. I’ve included a recommendation of a local company, you can give them a call for help with this. Good luck. Question No. 2 Hi Robert, My name is Marty S. and I live in Valencia. I’m a homeowner and have lived in my home for about twenty years, and have really neglected it during that time. It’s a large home and I’m planning on putting nearly 100,000 into the exterior to upgrade it, finally. I’ll be putting on a new roof, I have a very large (approximately 1,000 square feet) deck with rails that will be upgraded and then other items that need tending to. There is no other reason for all of this being needed, only that I have been neglectful and now am going to get it all taken care of. My dilemma is this: all of the trades involved, tell me that their scope should go first. I’m perplexed on this, and thus far here is how I have it planned out. I’ll do the roof, then the deck, then paint and finally, wood repair. Where would you start and who would you hire first? They each have their reasons on why they should go first and with me not being in the construction trade, I do want to put these repairs into the correct sequence so that it all gets done properly without needing to redo anything. Answer No. 2 Marty, Being that I’m in this business, I do see this as an easy decision but I understand that without the experience and with so many opinions coming your way, it can be confusing. My first advice to you is to be absolutely sure that each tradesman/contractor that you are working with is licensed and fully insured. Request their certificates of insurance to be received directly from their carrier, and verify their license is current and active, and that they have no complaints against them with the CSLB (California State License Board). Once you are sure that you are in good hands, I’d begin with the roof first, as you stated. Simultaneously with the roofing, the wood repair can be done. You didn’t quite elaborate on what wood you are referring to, but you’ll definitely want to do wood repair prior to painting, as it is likely that the new wood will need paint to match. If the wood you are referring to is the fascia at the roofline, you can have the roofing company do this during the roofing replacement. Let him take care of that while he is working in that area. Save your painting for the end, it will be the finishing touch that completes this whole project. The next item which you mentioned would be the deck. If it has in fact been neglected for this long, it is likely peeling and bubbling. If the structure itself is in good shape, then go ahead and re sheet this deck with a new sub floor and while it is open have the interior of the structure inspected and change out any potentially rotted areas. Now is the time to do this the right way, while it is open and you have the right contractor on this. When you get to the decking portion (the covering/waterproofing to this deck), I strongly urge that this size of a deck receives AVM (a company out of Canoga Park) Fiber Crete system. This is a very thin concrete with a diamond mesh and then a resin system. Protect this new area with Masonite temporarily, then have all of your painting done. Once all of the painting is done, then have the decking company come back to install the final finish pattern which I recommend to be a knock down. I steer away from complicated finishes in case there are damages that occur over time, it is less expensive to repair a knock down finish rather than something elaborate. I hope this helps, please let me know if you are in need of recommendations in this area, I can provide that to you. Good luck, Robert Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.