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Dear Dale:

Painted Roof Has Too Much Character

February 09, 1986|DALE BALDWIN

Question: I just bought a house, built in 1926, with a Spanish tile roof. The problem is that someone painted the roof black and now it is weathered, half black and half red in various degrees. Is there any method or product available to restore the original red-tile color, either by removal of black or repainting in red-tile color?

Answer: It probably just adds to the character of the house, although it may be an eyesore for you. So just let it be. Besides, so far as I know, there's no satisfactory answer to the problem.

Frank A. Grace Jr., technical rep for L. M. Scofield Co., which specializes in color for concrete, agrees. Also in agreement is Paul Parrish, a roofer for 44 years and a member of the advisory board of directors for the Roofing Contractors Assn. of Southern California.

The task of removing the paint by scraping or using any paint-removal product would be monumental. And sandblasting would probably remove too much of the tile and could possibly cause leaks.

The only another satisfactory alternative, unfortunately, is to replace the roof.

If you're determined, however, to do something to the existing roof--even if it's wrong--painting it could be the least of all evils. You'll have to use masonry paint (and be careful on tile roofs--leaks are easy to come by).

Look around you. All tile roofs eventually take on the black-on-clay appearance. If the roof doesn't leak, I'd let it be.

Q: You spend all your time talking about big home-improvement projects. Why don't you deal with a problem such as this: I'm just out of college and have an unfurnished apartment, which I'm furnishing from thrift stores, because my income is still low. But it's nearly impossible to do anything about covering windows with curtains for less than about $15 a window, even in the five and dime stores. I'm exposing myself to the world right now. What's a bachelor to do?

A: A get-by solution until you can do better would be to put up cafe-curtain rods. Buy inexpensive fabric and cut it to desired length, plus about five extra inches. Fold over the excess at the top of the curtain and fasten it at about six-inch intervals with rings that clamp onto the fabric (available at hardware and home stores that sell curtain rods.) Slide the rings onto the curtain rods and at least you'll get some privacy.

At a later time, when you have more funds but still can't afford ready-made window dressings, take down the fabric and find an alterations shop that will sew headings and hems in the curtain material.

Q: The landlord installed smoke detectors in my house about two years ago. They haven't made a peep until recently, but now the one in the bedroom sounds off periodically. I don't smoke, and there's no other source of heat around to cause this. Can smoke detectors be repaired? If so, where? The landlord is ignoring my request.

A: You didn't mention whether the smoke detector is powered by electricity or batteries.

If it operates on batteries, you should replace the batteries immediately. The intermittent alarm is the detector's way of telling you the batteries are about dead.

If the detectors are hooked into your electrical system, there must be a short someplace, and this should also be corrected immediately.

Unless you're not adept at making electrical repairs, you'll need an electrician to fix a short in the electric detector.

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