Question: We had planned on painting the exterior of our house this summer for the first time in 10 years, but now we're thinking about waiting until next year. Could any damage occur if we wait?
Answer: "Take a good look around the exterior before you decide," says Barbara Brobst of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton. "If the paint surface is just faded, you can probably get away with waiting. However, if you find chips or areas where there is flaking, you may need to paint or at least repair those areas. You don't want bare wood exposed or stucco blistered. Keep these areas covered with paint, then next year do a complete paint job."
Q: We had our almond-colored refrigerator painted white, but when we got it back, it looked more like beige. The guy who did the painting said you can't get it to look as white as those painted at the factory. Is that true?
A: "If they're painting correctly, they can get it pretty close," says appliance repairman Ed Williams of Anaheim. "The gaskets should be removed or masked and the surface primed before the enamel is sprayed on. It sounds as though they may have just used one coat, which is letting the old finish bleed through. It may need two or more coats to hide the old almond paint."
Q: We have a set of old pine dining room chairs that we'd like to refinish, but we don't know just how to do it without damaging the upholstered seats. How do the pros do the job?
A: "Look under one of the chairs and see if there are four screws holding the seat in place," says Bob Espeland of Espeland Furniture Refinishing and Repair in Orange. "If so, you got off easy; you just remove the seat. If the upholstery is tacked on or stapled, you'll need to carefully mask the upholstered area and keep a solvent handy in case you get some stain on the fabric. You'll also have to work away from the fabric to keep solution from dripping onto the seat. In most cases like that I recommend having the upholstery changed, which gives you a chance to work on the chairs without fear of damaging the fabric; then after the wood is done, you can reupholster."
Q: There's an old phone outlet in our house that I recently tried to convert to a modular outlet that can take modern phone jacks. I carefully connected the wires, but I can't get a dial tone, what's wrong?
A: "You may not have the wires connected correctly," says electronics technician Ray Orum of Newport Beach. "Look at a working outlet and make notes of which wires are attached to which screws. You should then duplicate that with your new outlet. Only two of the four wires actually operate the phone, but be sure to connect all four if you're not sure which ones they are."
Q: We have a raised hearth in front of our fireplace made of red brick that we'd like to whitewash. Unfortunately, we've decided to do this after putting in an expensive hardwood floor around the hearth. How do we protect the floor when doing this messy job?
A: "If the floor butts against the hearth, you might have shoe molding around it and this should be removed," says painter Will Alomar of Santa Ana. "Get some heavy plastic sheeting and tape it into place on the wood. On top of that, I'd also put some large old blankets or sheets around the hearth and keep some wet rags around just in case you make a mistake and get some paint on the floor."