Q: We've let one side of our house get taken over by ivy. I'd like to get it off, but I have a feeling that the roots have buried into the stucco. How can I remove them without damaging the wall? What if I kill them and let them dry off?
A: "I guess the best way is to slowly pull off each vine and cut it off from the wall with a razor blade," says Tom Snyder of Amling's Newport Nursery in Newport Beach. "I've tried letting them die, but generally they're so embedded in the cement they'll still leave roots, so alive or dead, ivy is a problem. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on it."
Q: We're going to be painting the exterior shutters in our back yard and in doing all of the sanding and cleaning, I've noticed that portions of the old paint are really adhered to the wood. What should I do?
A: "As long as you've removed the loose paint, your shutters should be fine," says Pam Anderson of Los Alamitos Paint and Wallpaper. "If it's well-adhered to the surface, there's no reason it should come off after you repaint. Be sure to use a primer over the bare wood you've exposed.
"Use a feather sanding technique where you're lightly sanding the edges of the old paint to create a uniform surface. That will help the new paint apply easier and it will look better."
Q: In papering a wall in our living room, my wife and I made a stupid mistake. On the last roll we failed to accurately match the pattern of the rest of the wall and now it looks funny. It's a vinyl wall-covering. Is there any way to remove those last few strips without damaging the paper, or do we have to strip it all off?
San Juan Capistrano
A: "It's almost impossible to remove and reapply wall-coverings," says Ron Ford of Sinclair Paint in Costa Mesa. "If it's been done very recently, you may have a chance. You can buy or rent a steamer that removes paper and carefully pull it off. If you can get the vinyl off with its backing, you'll be able to reattach it. But too often the backing sticks to the wall.
"Fortunately, vinyl is easier than paper to remove, but you're still going to need a lot of luck."
Q: I want to move some mahogany paneling from one bedroom to another. Is there a careful way to remove the paneling nails?
A: "Unfortunately, paneling nails don't have much of a head, which makes them tough to get out," says Walt Counts of Murray's Hardware in Santa Ana. "You might want to use a pair of end nippers and see if you can cut the head off without causing too much damage. That might release the panel enough to pull it off, but you'll probably have to do some patching. It's very difficult to remove paneling without causing at least some damage."