Question: I have a white mark on my oak table that appeared after leaving something hot on top of it. Is there a way to remove it?
Answer: "Heat creates condensation on the surface of the wood, and if it sits there a while, the condensation can stain the finish," says Bill Sullivan of Batavia Furniture Refinishing of Orange. "You might try using a light abrasive to see if you're able to draw it out. Try a little toothpaste on the spot, or rub some cigarette ashes with paint thinner on it. If this doesn't work, it may be too deep, and you'll need to have the table stripped and refinished."
Q: Our home was built 20 years ago, and the first landscaper spread a certain type of gravel through the garden in the front yard. From time to time, we've replaced the gravel, but lately I haven't been able to locate it. It's called Del Rio stone, and it comes from the Lomita pit. Apparently, that pit doesn't produce gravel anymore. Do you have any suggestions?
A: "Unfortunately, unless you can find someone with that gravel in their yard who wants to get rid of it, you're out of luck," says John Lloyd of Harden's Building Supply in Fullerton. "Del Rio stone is readily available, but not from Lomita, which produced a stone that has a wine cast to it. You'll be able to find shades that are similar, but not an exact match."
Q: Our home was re-stuccoed as part of a remodeling project about 12 years ago. We want to change the color and are wondering whether to paint the exterior or use a stucco colored coat. What are the pros and cons?
A: "Probably the easiest thing to do is to paint over it," says Bill Furtado of Vista Paint in Buena Park. "If there's no problem with the stucco structurally, if it's still in good condition, there's no reason to re-coat it. Painting will be less expensive and you'll be finished a lot sooner."
Q: Due to a bad roof, I have some water stains in sections of the ceiling in our house. Now that the roof is fixed, I want to clean the stains. What's the best way to get rid of them?
A: "If the stains are light, you might be able to bleach them out," says plasterer Martin Laughlin of Los Alamitos. "Mix one part bleach to four parts water in a spray bottle and spray it on. If that doesn't work and if the ceiling's white, try using some white shoe polish on the spots. On big spots, you'll have to seal the stain with a pigmented sealant to keep it from bleeding through the new coat of paint."
Q: With all of the large eucalyptus trees around, I was wondering whether it is feasible to use their wood as lumber.
A: "Eucalyptus grows very quickly, and wood from trees that grow fast like that frequently doesn't have the strength of other woods that grow more slowly, unless it has a lot of sap in it, like pine does," says Larry Amling of Amling's Newport Nursery in Newport Beach. "Eucalyptus used to be sold as firewood for years; however, it tends to burn very quickly. The oil in the wood is very flammable, and it has a tendency to almost explode. This creates a lot of ash and makes the chimney dirty."
Q: In trying to decide on a padlock for a garage door, what's more secure--a combination lock or a keyed lock?
A: "The heavy-duty padlocks are almost always keyed padlocks," says locksmith Mark Geroux of Placentia. "But most homeowners need a medium-security lock, and in those cases, a combination lock works just fine. The main problem is you've got to remember what the numbers are. If you think you'll have a problem with that, I'd go for the keyed lock."