A pergola is a wooden structure that is used to provide shade. In Israel it is very common to see a pergola on a mirpeset to offer shade as well as to be used as a frame for a succa. If you maintain a pergola it will last a lifetime. Without properly treating the wood every few years, the rain and the sun will damage the pergola and cause it to rot. It is important to inspect your pergola - if you have any boards that are severely cracked, warped or rotted, they must be replaced, and if you have any nails or screws that are coming out, it is best to remove them and replace them with new screws that are a bit longer. Before one can begin to stain the pergola, it is important to clean it well. A pressure washer can be used, but you need to be very careful not to damage the wood. Alternately, you can use a stiff brush and wood cleaner. Often we see mold on the wood, and in these cases bleach is needed to clean the wood. If there is no mold present, it is best to avoid cleaners that contain bleach. Once the pergola has been cleaned, it is important to wait for the wood to dry prior to applying stain, but do not wait too long. The cleaning process opens up wood pores that allow the stain to penetrate the wood. Therefore, the staining process should begin as soon as the wood is dry. There are three choices when it comes to staining a deck: clear waterproof sealer, stain or paint. A clear waterproof sealer will allow you to maintain the natural look of the wood. It will also protect the wood from water and dirt. However, it will not provide any protection from the sun. It will also require resealing every year. Stain will penetrate the wood and offer protection from both water and sun. The UV protection on a darker color stain will be greater than a lighter color stain. You can expect a stain to last two or three years. In recent years, a number of water-based stains have come on the market. Although it is much easier to work with water-based stain, it is still worthwhile to use the oil-based stain that will protect the wood for a longer period of time. Paint is also an option for protecting a pergola. Using an oil-based paint will offer maximum protection and also allow you to choose any color you desire. Paint will also offer the highest UV protection. Paint will usually offer protection for about three or four years. Before deciding that you want to paint your pergola, it is important to realize that once it is painted, you will always have to paint it. You will no longer have the option of staining it. Additionally, you will lose the natural look of the wood once it is painted. How many coats are needed? That will greatly depend on the condition of the wood. If it was stained within the past few years, it will probably only need one coat. It is always best to apply the stain with a brush, which will ensure the stain is worked into the wood. Leah B. asks: Why do bathroom doors in Israel seem to all have windows? Is it okay to replace these doors with solid doors that do not have glass? I am not sure why many bathroom doors have a glass window. In the US, I cannot remember a single bathroom that had that type of door. If any readers know more about this, I would appreciate your comments. In the meantime, here is a possible explanation that comes to mind. People who keep Shabbat do not turn lights on or off on Shabbat. Most will leave the bathroom light on. By having a small glass window, it will allow them to have a bit of light in the hallway or bedroom at the same time. As for your second question, I see no reason why these doors cannot be replaced. It is not that the glass offers any form of ventilation, which a bathroom desperately needs. Therefore, replacing it with a solid door has no effect at all. Today's Do-It-Yourself Resource is: http://www.benjaminmoore.com, which has lots of tips in the how-to section on staining wood. Readers' tips, questions and comments are always welcome! The authors can be reached at (02) 585-9559 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.