Question: I'm planning on doing a light remodel of my kitchen, which is about 25 years old. The Formica countertops are in great condition and I'd like to keep them; however, I'd also like to get a smaller sink to provide more counter space. How can the gap created by a smaller sink be filled in?
Answer: "You may need to rethink your plans," says Rich Haagsma of Faucets 'n Fixtures in Orange. "Patching a laminate like Formica can be done, but it may be more trouble than it's worth. If your present sink is taking up too much space, you may want to think about getting a sink with a drain board. This covers one side of the sink to give you more room on the counter. Otherwise, you might want to check into the cost of replacing the countertop. Most laminate tops are inexpensive, and you may find that replacing the entire top is cheaper than making the patch you want."
Q: We have a bathroom with textured walls that we'd like to wallpaper. Papering over the wall is going to be difficult because of the surface. How should it be prepared?
A: "Assuming the walls have been painted with an enamel, which is common for bathrooms, the first thing you'll need to do is sand them down or use a liquid sandpaper to take off the sheen," says Andrew Carter of Sinclair Paint in Costa Mesa. "After that, you'll need to put a layer of blank stock on the walls. Blank stock is a thick, plain wallpaper that smoothes out the wall to provide a good base for the paper you've chosen."
Q: We have a halogen lamp at the bottom of a staircase, and while we love it I'm concerned about the halogen bulb. When walking down the stairs, the light is very bright and I'm afraid it could damage our eyes. Short of moving the lamp, which works perfectly at that spot, is there some way to tone down the light?
A: "You may want to get a glass lens for the bulb," says David Galluccio of Harbor Lites in Costa Mesa. "This will shield out the harmful ultraviolet light. They can be found at lighting stores and they'll fit right over the bulb. You're correct in assuming that the light can be a problem. The halogen bulb can be so bright it's like looking into the sun. After you get the lens, take another look at the lamp. If it's still too bright, you really should move it."
Q: In looking for exterior paint, I've been told I should consider a "reinforced" latex paint, which has sand in the mixture. This is supposed to provide a better coverage for exterior stucco. Is that true?
A: "This is often used on buildings where there's likely to be some cracking caused by settling," says Jim Craig of Decratrend in Anaheim. "It can expand to cover cracks, which is an advantage in that situation. If you have a problem with cracking, you may want to look for a paint like that or a paint with a mostly acrylic base. Another advantage to the reinforced latex is that because it's thicker it provides a measure of insulation. It can also be sprayed on like other paints, but you'll need a larger tip and pump to apply it efficiently."
Q: I replaced a broken garage door spring recently and since then I've noticed the door seems to sag about three or four inches on the side with the new spring set. What could be causing this?
A: "Many homeowners often get the wrong size springs," says door installer Dan Corcoran of La Palma. "They commonly come in 28-, 30- and 32-inch lengths. Carefully measure your old spring and get the same size. When the door is up, check the spring on the sagging side. It should be slightly taut, enough to move a little but too tight to remove. If it's not, you may have to adjust the chain to tighten the spring."
\o7 Got a question about your home or garden? Write to: John Morell, Handyman, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.\f7