Reader’s water leaves rust stains

Home Improvement

Plus, is a plaster finish on Sheetrock just a New England thing?

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Hard water can leave iron stains on bathroom fixtures.

Q. We have hard water in my home, evidenced by the orange buildup inside our fiberglass showers. We are concerned about the health of our faucets and tankless water heater. Should we install a whole-house water purification system?


A. What you are describing is iron in the water, enough of it to cause staining. Most likely this is just one of many minerals in the water. I would recommend a water filtration system. These come in all shapes and sizes, but many people can get away with a simple in-line system that requires changing a filter cartridge only periodically. Best to have a sample of your water tested at a lab. They can advise you on the type of filter system you require.

Q. Our builder suggested that we apply a plaster finish over Sheetrock in an addition on our home. We just moved to Rhode Island. I’ve had homes built in other states, and I’ve never seen a plaster finish. We usually have Sheetrock with a tape-and-compound application. What advice do you have for plaster finishes? Does paint adhere to the surface? How about the corner beads? Are there different textures? Is this a Rhode Island thing? Any advice would be helpful. Thank you.


A. The application of blueboard and veneer plaster is the more common way to finish walls and ceilings in New England. There are various reasons for this; one is tradition. Weather also plays a factor; plaster would take forever to dry in the humid South. Whatever the reason, we are strong proponents of veneer plaster. It is by far a superior finish. Done properly, it is as smooth as glass when complete. It does not require sanding and can be finished in one coat, as opposed to repeated applications with drywall and compound. One advantage in older homes in the Boston area is that a skilled plasterer can feather and smooth out walls and transitions, blending old into new seamlessly. There are no issues with priming and painting; veneer plaster will hold a good paint job as well as any surface.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected].

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