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INSIDE & OUT : Scrubbing, Fresh Paint Will Rid Trim of Bird Stains


Q: We painted the stucco and trim on our house two years ago, and now it's been stained by bird droppings. How do we prepare those areas to paint over them?


Laguna Hills

A: You'll just have to clean the areas the old-fashioned way, says Jim Grant of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. Take a good, stiff brush, some warm water mixed with TSP, and scrub the stains away. After it's been scrubbed, give it a good rinsing with the hose. If any of the TSP residue is left, your new coat of paint may not adhere very well. If the droppings don't come off the trim by brushing, try sanding the area with a light sandpaper.

Q: We don't have air conditioning, and friends have said we should get ceiling fans. I don't understand how blowing the hot air around your house would help cool your home. Is that how they work?



A: Technically, you're right. The fans simply circulate the air in your home, says Bob Ownby of A-1 Fans in Anaheim. When you're warm and the circulating air hits you, it feels cool. If the air outside is cooler, such as on summer nights, and the windows are open, they are effective at drawing the cooler air into the house. If you get fans expecting that they'll be a cheap alternative to air conditioning, you're going to be disappointed. But they can help you feel cooler, and they won't use as much energy as an air conditioner.

Q: Our downstairs toilet is old, and we'd like to replace it. This bathroom is carpeted, and we'd like to know how we can remove and replace a toilet without staining or damaging the carpet.


Laguna Beach

A: You'll need to pull up the carpet to do a good job, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating in Garden Grove. In most cases, the carpet is cut around the back to allow it to fit around the toilet. Pull it off the tack strips, and it should come off. To replace the carpet, you'll need a kicker that stretches it out to stick it back on the tack strip. Before getting your new toilet, check to make sure that the base is of a similar size or larger than the old toilet. If it's a smaller base, you may have a problem fitting the carpet around it when it's laid back down.

Q: I recently painted some of the rooms in my house, and now I'm having a problem with squeaky interior doors. What will keep them lubed but won't ruin the finish of the paint on the hinges?


Huntington Beach

A: Many spray lubricants are oil-based, which can affect the finish of a varnish or paint, says Gary Lillge of Crown Hardware in Corona del Mar. You may want to try a dry, silicone-based lubricant, such as Tri-Flow. It's excellent for spraying in areas where you don't want any dripping on carpets or walls. It also won't collect dust and dirt after it's been applied.

Q: When I'm wallpapering and I need to trim and cut away excess, should I cut while the paper's wet, or is it easier when it's dry?


Buena Park

A: Always trim while the paper's still wet, says paperhanger Dean Gunderson of Santa Ana. It's more flexible, and if you wait till it's dry, you may find that some areas of the paper haven't adhered properly to the wall. One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is that they don't use sharp razor blades. Change blades often and you'll find that trimming is a lot easier.


Helping Hand Note: After reading a recent question regarding how to get rid of odors from a kitchen cabinet, Art Grant of Santa Ana suggested applying a pigmented shellac to the inside of the cabinet. After it dries, he said, it provides a tough seal that prevents odors from coming through.

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