Question: I've heard of built-in ironing boards but I can't find one. Can you help me?
Answer: Of the built-in ironing centers that I've examined--they're more than just boards--my favorite is the Sico, available in three price ranges. The deluxe model, retailing for about $450, accounts for four out of five sales, according to Sico sales representative Dale Dennie, 10035 N.E. 141st St., Bothell, Wash. 98011. Operating out of the Seattle area, he covers the West Coast for this Minneapolis-based manufacturer of built-in beds, dining tables, etc.
Also available are a standard model, about $388, without the work light and the adjustable height feature and a basic model, about $340, with one height and no electrical outlets. The deluxe model, 3800-001, includes a swivel feature so that the ironing board can be used parallel to the wall as well as at right angles to it. It also has a 30-minute timer that turns off the ironing center if the oak door is left open, storage space for the iron, as well as an automatic shut-off switch that turns off the center when the door is closed.
Basically all three models can be surface-mounted or mounted in the cavity between studs that are 16 inches on center--the standard in most parts of the country--for a truly built-in look.
If you're reasonably handy--and have the courage to rip into your wall--you could install a Sico or other ironing center. My advice would be to locate a carpenter who lives in the neighborhood (we have one right across the back fence) and see if he'll do it for you.
With homes getting smaller, built-in ironing centers make a lot of sense. Now that natural fibers are so popular in clothing, they may even be the latest yuppie necessity!
Q: Is there a quick and/or easy way of safely removing 40 years worth of semi-gloss oil and latex paint from my bathroom walls? The previous tenant ruined the wall surface by applying an adhesive and sheet Mylar, which he took with him when he moved. The remaining adhesive is very sticky.
A: A paint expert that I consulted suggested that you avoid removing the paint down to the bare plaster: this increases the risks of gouging the plaster. If you had plasterboard walls, you would damage this material, too. Instead, he suggested removing the sticky adhesive with alcohol or a strong detergent, spackling the wall with a spackling compound, applying a primer and following up with a coat or two of paint.
The Old-House Journal has an excellent four-page reprint on repairing plaster. If you have such a job in mind, write for the 50-cent reprint to: Plaster, The Old-House Journal, 69A 7th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217.
Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.