Q: We had Bruce hardwood floors installed several years ago and they have performed well. However, because of exposure to the sun that shines through the sliding glass patio doors, they have faded about two feet in front of the door. We've installed solar film on the glass, but now we wonder whether there's anything we can do to restore those spots without stripping and refinishing?
A: "Unfortunately, all floor coverings fade in sunlight," says Joe Fzenyeri of Amirosh Builders in Westminster. "Keeping out the ultraviolet rays with the solar film is a good idea to prevent the fading from being so dramatic, but that's not going to help you now. Whether you can fix it depends on the type of Bruce floor you have, the dura satin or the urethane.
"The dura satin is a wax finish. You can apply a darker wax and buff it in to keep it from looking faded. The disadvantage with this kind of floor is that you have to have a buffer, and there's more involved in taking care of it. If it's a urethane finish, there's really not much you can do about the fading, short of refinishing that area or the whole floor. The advantage to urethane, though, is that it's a low-maintenance floor and needs no wax to keep its luster."
Q: In our den, we're interested in creating a Southwest look. Instead of removing the dark paneling, we thought it would look more rustic if we painted it. However, after testing it in spots, the paneling seems to be resistant to paint. Is there anything special that has to be done to paneling before painting?
A: "Painting your paneling is often a problem, because most of the paneling you see has what's called a 'photograph' finish that needs to be taken off," says Jim Livingstone of Paint 'n' Paper House in Placentia. "In order to get the paint to stick, you've got to lightly sand it, then wipe it down to clean it. After it's clean, undercoat it with a good oil-base primer, then let it dry eight to 10 hours. From there you should be able to put any kind of paint you like on it."
Q: I've received an old armoire that's beautiful from a relative. However, one of the drawers is locked, we have no key and our attempts to pick it have been unsuccessful. Is there any kind of skeleton key available that would open it?
A: "We have a box of old keys that we've found, but unfortunately we don't make house calls," says Paul Dunphy of Back Home Antiques in Fullerton. "Your best bet is to call a locksmith. You're probably not talking about a fancy lock. Once they get it open they can make you a new key."
Q: After a near-emergency with a fire in our kitchen, I've become more conscious of fire hazards in our home. I want to get a good extinguisher. However, a friend told me the one I have in my garage is different from the one I should keep in my kitchen. Is that true?
A: "Extinguishers are rated for the types of fires they can put out," says Walt Counts of Murray's Hardware in Santa Ana. "An 'A' means it is for fires involving wood or paper; 'B' means it's for grease or oil fires; 'C' means it's for electrical fires. You can get one rated B for the kitchen, or you can get one rated 1A-10BC, which is an all-purpose extinguisher than can be used in the kitchen and the garage."
Q: The closet in our master bedroom has three sliding wardrobe mirrors. They've worked fine, except recently we noticed that one of the doors keeps sliding off the bottom track when it's pushed. The track looks fine, and there are no obstructions, but does it need new rollers?
A: "The problem could be in the rollers, but I'd suspect the track," says Mike Aspermonte of Mike's Rolling Door in Santa Ana. "Even though it may look like the track is true and straight, it's probably slightly bent, which makes the door slip off of it. Try playing with it using a screwdriver or pliers, pushing the door back and forth until it slides cleanly."