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(MCT)—Question: We have a brick and mortar edging on our driveway and steps leading up to the front door. The mortar needs repair. Is this something we can do ourselves, or should we have a professional do it?

Answer: These are the kinds of jobs performed by masons with years of experience. Although I have built brick walkways and garden beds over the years, I’ve done it for the experience, rather than from necessity. I’ve also pointed brick chimneys and stone walls because they were jobs that had to be done quickly, or they were too small to be cost-effective for a mason to do them.

Because the description of the problem isn’t detailed enough for me to envision, I would recommend looking at a few concrete product websites for suggestions about procedure and products.

One is www.sakrete.com, which has project videos in addition to technical information. Another is www.quikrete.com, and a third is the website of the Portland Cement Association at www.cement.org.

In every maintenance or repair job, decide first whether doing it yourself is worth your time. If you don’t have the resources or the expertise, you may end up rushing the job and making things worse.

I was standing with two joggers on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago several summers ago when I was covering the National Hardware Show.

One complained to the other about a porch in great need of repair.

“I could do it myself,” the man says, “but I worked a weekend of overtime to pay a carpenter to do it instead.”

(c) 2011, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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