Question: While maneuvering a trailer into my garage, I made a mistake and put a large gash into the garage doorjamb. Instead of having to remove that piece, isn't there some kind of putty I can use to fill it in?
Answer: "If it's bad enough to look at, your best bet is to replace the jamb rather than try to fix it," says Jason Bartolone of Ganahl Lumber in Anaheim. "The wood putty that you see in stores is mainly just for filling in small spaces and indoor use. The jamb is usually a 1-inch by 8-inch piece that can be cut to the height of the doorway. Removing the old jamb can get pretty messy because you're taking some of the stucco off with it. You'll have to use some stucco repair around the new jamb and paint to make it match the stucco around the house."
Q: I have an old Oriental rug stored away that I would like to attach to the wall. What's the best way to hang it?
L.T., Laguna Beach
A: "How you hang your rug is going to depend first on the type of rug it is," says Arlene Spielman of Villa Park Wall Boutique. "If it's silk, you can encase it between pieces of Lucite and frame it, which is an attractive way of hanging a delicate rug. If it's heavy, you may want to use a piece of 1x1-inch wood that's 2 inches shorter than the width of the rug. Staple the wood to the top back of the rug, then hang the wood on the wall. By centering the wood, you shouldn't see it when it's on the wall. You can also put one on the bottom to make it look even when it's hung."
Q: The cut leaf maple tree in our back yard is about 30 years old and, while it's beautiful and thick in summer, it also keeps sunlight from getting to the lawn and flowers around it. I want to prune it myself; is there anything in particular I should know before doing it?
A.K., El Toro
A: "That's something you see a lot of in cut leaf maples," says Mike Inaba of Roger's Gardens nursery in Corona del Mar. "They don't grow very tall, maybe 20 feet at the most, but they grow out horizontally. What you want to do is make it look spread out, so your basic plan should be to thin some of the larger branches. Remember to make your cuts about 1 inch above the node, which is where the branches fork. There are also several good booklets available at garden stores specifically on pruning that might give you some insight into making it look good."
Q: The tile on our kitchen counter is about 12 years old and it's in pretty good shape overall, except that in a few places there are some chips and nicks. No one seems to make this tile anymore, is there a way to fix the bad ones without replacing them?
M.M., Huntington Beach
A: "If you can't find the replacement tiles, you've got two choices," says Mark Handleman, a tile setter based in Santa Ana. "Try going to a place where they make ceramics and see if they have a glaze that would match your tiles. You can put the glaze on the chips, which isn't perfect but it's better than leaving them exposed. Or, if the bad tiles are in different areas around the counter, you can replace them with tiles of contrasting colors that can be done in some sort of pattern or just randomly, which a lot of people do now when installing tile."
Q: Our fireplace brick was painted white by the home's previous owner and we'd like to remove it and keep it natural. Is there a sure way to get paint off masonry?
V.T., La Habra
A: "The problem with masonry is that it's very porous," says Bill Martin, a bricklayer in Fullerton. "You've got to take paint thinner and rags and rub out as much as you can. Then take more thinner and a wire brush and scrub the bricks until you get the paint of the pores. It's a long, dirty job, you just have to curse the people who painted them."