Question: Last year, we had one of our bathrooms wallpapered, and now we're having a problem with water and moisture collecting on the walls. We don't have a glass enclosure around the tub/shower. Would that help?
Answer: "Problems like mold and peeling paper usually occur because of ventilation," says Rich Haagsma of Faucets 'n Fixtures in Orange. "If the bathroom has a window, it's important to keep that open while the hot water is running to allow the steam to escape. Most bathrooms without windows are equipped with a fan. It should be on while you're in the shower.
"Many people forget to do this, and they'll run the fan after they come out of the shower to get rid of the steam. By that time, the moisture is already collecting on the walls. A bathroom fan should also be working properly. Ideally, you want a fan that will exchange the air in the room within five minutes."
Q: We're updating our 30-year-old home, and we've started by replacing the interior doors with new six-panel Colonist doors. Our plan is to replace the sliding mirrored closet doors in the bedrooms with pullout Colonist doors. Our problem is in the master bedroom. The closet is larger than average, 7 feet, 10 inches.
A: "It's not impossible to get paneled doors for that space, but it may take some doing," says Lance Young of Classic Concepts Company in Santa Ana. "They'll have to be custom ordered, and they'll probably cost more than doors for your standard-sized closets.
"The problem isn't that it's too large; it's actually a little undersized. When an opening is a little larger than 8 feet, you can usually use bumpers to fill in the space, but when it's under, it's harder to find. You could get a mirrored folding door or a flush, flat wood folding door that will fit the space fairly easily, but plan on spending more and waiting longer for your order if you want the paneled doors."
Q: We have an old oval dining-room table that has lost its luster. I've been told I should use paint thinner to clean it, but will that bring back the finish?
A: "I would start out on an inconspicuous spot with a little paint thinner and some 4/0 steel wool," says Bob Espeland of Espeland Antique and Furniture Repair in Orange. "Go over the finish lightly with the wool and paint thinner, not pushing down too hard. This will remove the wax buildup that's occurred over the years. To bring back the luster after it's dry, you can try using a common spray wax. Lightly spray the surface, and you should see an improvement after rubbing it out with the grain. If that doesn't help, it may be time for a refinishing job."
Q: I've selected a paint color for the walls by one manufacturer and a color for the trim by another. Is there a problem in mixing brands like that?
A: "As long you've got the right type of paint for the job, such as flat for walls and semi-gloss for trim, it doesn't matter if you're mixing brands," says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. "That's why it's a good idea to look at a wide variety of paint swatches before making a decision. Don't feel you have to stick with one manufacturer to get a great job."
Q: I'll be installing new bathroom hardware soon, and I was wondering about towel bars. Should they be screwed into wall studs?
A: "I wouldn't worry about that unless you have kids who are constantly pulling on the towels," says contractor Roger Davis of Santa Ana. "In most cases, you can screw them right into the drywall, but if you like you can install them using toggle bolts or, if the bar fits, into the studs."