Question: We're having a problem with the stucco in front of our house. It continually peels and flakes, despite it being patched by house painters and after having Texcoat applied. I've been told that there must be some type of fungus or water seepage that's causing it. Do you have any suggestions on how we can eliminate this problem?
Answer: "You've got to figure out how moisture is getting into the wall, stop it, then do the wall over again from there," says Charles Kaczorowski of Tustin Paint. "It could be seeping in from the ground or on top through the roof. It's also possible that when it was mixed, the stucco was either too alkali or too acidic, in which case a little moisture would make it deteriorate very quickly.
"Using Texcoat or vinyl siding isn't going to do much in the way of protecting the wall in the long run," he said. "Texcoat is basically a thick paint that's sprayed on and covers cracks or blemishes in the wall. But if the stucco is crumbling from something underneath, you're just camouflaging the problem.
"I've seen homes that have similar problems in that their paint won't adhere to a certain part of the stucco," he said. "In that case, it's best to water-blast the area with a blaster that you can rent from a paint shop, then have the shop add a bonding agent to your first coat of paint. That will help anchor it to the stucco."
Q: I'm thinking of changing the cabinets in my kitchen myself, but I've heard that re-staining or painting is a long, dirty job because of the preparation involved. I understand I could use laminated sheets on the original finish. Can someone who is not an experienced carpenter/handyman do this?
A: "It's really going to depend on how skilled you are and how much time you want to put into it," says John Christiansen of John's Custom Finishing in Orange. "You'll need a good assortment of saws as well as knives, rollers and cement. You've got to like working with wood and you'll have to be confident that you can do a job that you'll like when you're finished. It takes patience and trial and error, but an amateur can do it."
Q: We have a Berber-type carpet with a blue toilet-cleaner stain that resists all of the cleaners I've used. I want to keep trying to get it out. Is there any hope?
A: "About 99.9% of the time, those stains never come out; they're like a dye," says Dave Cordi of Dave Cordi's Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in Anaheim. "As a last resort, I'd try a product called Red-Out that's available in janitorial supply stores. You'll have to follow the directions they give. Usually you mix it up and spread it on the stain, then put a cloth over it and iron it. The heat then draws the stain into the cloth. Otherwise, start looking for something to patch it with."
Q: There's a crack in the tile in the foyer of my home. I would like to change the area from tile to something else. What are my alternatives? I'm considering wood flooring since it can stretch and won't crack.
A: "Cracking isn't unusual with ceramic or marble tiles," says Stan Avelis of Standard Brands in Mission Viejo. "They're very brittle, and since they're firmly attached to a hard surface, with the slightest earth movement they can crack. As a replacement, I'd suggest either the vinyl or wood floor tiles. Both are resilient and are less likely to crack. The parquet wood tiles are an especially good choice if you want to go with wood, since they're easier to install than a standard hardwood floor."