Question: We are getting ready to do some remodeling, but I'm worried about the possibility of asbestos being in certain areas. Most of the rooms have tiled ceilings. How can I tell whether it's safe to tear them out?
Answer: I'm glad to hear from you before you tackle the task of removing the ceiling tiles.
We asked Terry Wilson, spokesman for the San Francisco Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency, to tell us the guidelines offered by EPA on ceiling tiles.
"Buildings built or remodeled between 1945 and 1978 may contain crumbly asbestos material in the ceilings," Wilson said.
"These materials should be removed by a trained contractor," he added.
As for asbestos in other areas of a home, the EPA advises that insulation around pipes that were installed between 1920 and 1972 may contain asbestos materials, and insulation installed in walls and ceilings between 1930 and 1950 may contain asbestos.
This, of course, is not to say that products installed later than the dates shown here do not contain asbestos--but at least it's a guideline.
If you question the materials in your home, you should seek help from a firm that's qualified to encapsulate the asbestos materials.
E.C. Raymer of Raymer Custom Window Coverings, 2326 Archdale St., Riverside 92506, offers another solution for filtering out excessive sunlight in skylights (Dear Dale, July 27). He writes that his company has "tried many different skylight coverings . . . all of them left something to be desired, such as too expensive, ability to keep clean, dangling cords or wands, lack of visibility, etc.
"We finally overcame most of the objections by making a screen using Phiferglass Sunscreen in a one-inch painted screen frame," Raymer says.
"The frame is installed flush with the ceiling using jiffy clips on one side and flush thumb clips on the other.
"The Sunscreen permits soft, filtered sunlight to come through without impairing the view. Suncreen keeps out up to 70% of the solar heat and 90% of the ultraviolet rays to help protect furniture and carpeting. The screen is also easy to remove and clean."
This could be a do-it-yourself project, although Raymer says he can provide and install a 3x4-foot screen for any skylight location for under $50, so you may want to check his service out first.
For arts sake: "Paint Magic" by Jocasta Innes (Pantheon Books: $19.95) is a special kind of book that will keep creative types poring over its pages for hours and can even inspire the non-creative do-it-yourselfer.
But beyond that, it's a practical book that tells you how to do everything from preparing and painting a wall to putting a decorative finish on a picture frame.
It deals with special paint finishes, such as sponging or rag-rolling or colorwashing walls for unusual effects; painting and decorating furniture; what types of paints work best for many purposes; ideas for stenciling and painting floors and making floorcloths (painted canvases, a forerunner to linoleum).
If you'd like some good advice, as an amateur or professional, you'll get some help and ideas from this 8 1/2x11-inch, 240-page book. If your bookstore doesn't have it, ask to have it ordered.