Question: I would like to wallpaper a portion of our den and I've already bought the paper. I bought it for the pattern, but when I got home I found that it's the kind that you need to paste first. Never having done this before, I was wondering if it's easier to apply the paste to the paper or to the wall. It seems as though putting it on the wall would be better.
Answer: "You should always apply the paste to the paper," says Bob Kalem of Pacific Decorating Center in Anaheim. "We recommend that when using a paste with wallpaper, you should dilute the paste by mixing three parts water to one part paste. This makes it a little less consistent and easier to apply. By putting it on the paper, you're giving it some stretching ability.
"Usually it's recommended that you 'bookend' the paper during and after applying the paste. This means stretching it out on the floor and putting some weight on either end so it doesn't roll back up. Leave it like this for one to two minutes to give the paste a chance to act with the paper.
"By pasting the wall first, you're running the risk of allowing the paste to be sucked into the wall if it's a porous surface. With it on the paper, the paste can be evenly spread and it gives you the ability to move it around on the wall to match patterns and seams."
Q: In planning to re-roof our house, I've been confused by some of the language in the roofing business. What's the difference between fiberglass and asphalt shingles?
A: "There's no real difference between the two," says roofer Bob Clay of Anaheim. "Felt was commonly used to back asphalt shingles, and now fiberglass is what's used under an asphalt-covered sheet. When people talk about fiberglass shingles, they mean asphalt, and vice versa. Fiberglass replaced felt because it's more rot-resistant."
Q: We have a set of old, porcelain cross-shaped hot and cold water handles in our bathtub, and I'd like to get them off to replace the valves underneath. However, they're really stuck on the stems. Is there any tool I can use to get them off without damaging them?
A: "There's really nothing you can do to get them off gently," says Tony DeSpain of Craig's Plumbing Store in Garden Grove. "Any kind of tool you put on them is going to break them. A pair of channel lock pliers will get them off, but you're going to scar the brass. A lot of these also have Allen screws inside them that you can't see. Try putting some lubricant like Rust Off or WD-40 around it and hope it takes some of the rust off to the point where you can pull it off by hand. But when you're trying to get it off, make sure you wear gloves or a towel in your hand in case it should break while you're pulling."
Q: My 6-year-old white porcelain tub has some small, gray stains around the drain. What causes this, and how do I remove them?
A: "It sounds like the enamel around the drain has worn out," says Ron Barker of Niagara Plumbing in Garden Grove. "This happens when owners use harsh abrasives, like cleansers, to clean the tub. You should always use a mild cleanser, like Soft Scrub, to clean it out. You can touch up the stains with enamel, or there are companies that will refinish tubs, although I don't think the refinishing will hold up over time."