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INSIDE & OUT : Circulating Air From Baseboard Can Lead to Carpet Stains


Q. We had beige carpet installed in our house three years ago, and since then we've noticed that the carpet has some black streaks in various spots where it meets the wall. A friend said that this was because of gaps in the construction where the wall meets the floor. Is that true, and what can prevent it?

B.F., Westminster

A. This is a common phenomenon, says Mark Silverberg of New York Carpets in Anaheim. It can be caused by air circulating in and out of the house through small cracks at the base of the walls. When it's warm outside and cool inside, the heavier cool air pushes out through the cracks. At night, when the situation is reversed, cool air outside comes in. Because the carpet is butted up against the wall, it acts as a filter for this moving air.

With patience and a good spot cleaner, you can pull up some of these stains. Before you have carpet installed again, seal up any openings by applying a spray insulation where the walls meet the floor.

Staining can also be caused when your carpet has become soaked during cleaning. If the water reaches the tack strip along the wall, it can cause rust stains in this area. To prevent this, you'll need to take care not to get the tack strip area too wet.


Q. We have some pine captain's chairs that are in need of refinishing, and while I'd like to do the refinishing myself, I'm not crazy about the messy job of stripping. Is dip stripping a good option for those who don't want to hand strip?

T.I., Santa Ana

A. While dipping may give you the basic job of stripping away your old finish, hand stripping is still preferred, says Bob Espeland of Espeland Furniture and Antique Repair in Orange. Dipping often involves using water on the wood and letting it dry out, which can warp it. Water can also raise the grain and damage the furniture.

When stripping on your own, you can use a water-based stripping formula, but use an acetone-type solvent to rinse it down, because that dries immediately and doesn't soak into the wood. First apply the stripping formula with a rag and let the old finish bubble up, then scrape it off. Using a paint brush, apply the acetone rinse to clean the chairs, then lightly sand to prepare them for finishing.


Q. Our two bathrooms have faux marble vanity tops that are ugly and outdated. I'd like to order new ones the same size in a better color, but I want to know how they're attached to the cabinets.

L.G., Dana Point

A. They're usually attached with a simple silicone adhesive, says Steve Johnson of Familian Pipe & Supply in Costa Mesa. Using a razor knife, try to get underneath and cut away the adhesive along the top as well as the splash shields. Remove the plumbing and the top should just pull off once the adhesive is cut away. When putting in your new top, be sure to sand away any leftover adhesive from the cabinet.


Q. I repainted the molding in my house with a semi-gloss enamel, and after it was done I found many brush bristles in the finish. Is this a sign my brush has had it? How do I get them out without redoing the job?

W.H., La Palma

A. Actually, loose bristles are often seen with new brushes, says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center Paint in La Mirada.

There are often bristles that aren't held very well in the epoxy, and they're pulled out during painting. Many brush manufacturers recommend that you pre-wash your brush to get rid of any loose bristles.

The best way to get rid of loose bristles in paint is to pull them off as soon as they come off on the surface you've painted.

Otherwise, you'll need to lightly sand the area until they come off and repaint.

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