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A HELPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : Cedar Closets Smell Great but Don't Work Well in West

November 05, 1994|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. While visiting the Midwest, I saw a home with a closet that was lined with cedar particle board. I would think this would be easier to install than the small pieces of cedar available at most hardware stores. Is it as effective?

B.W., Huntington Beach

A. You may be disappointed with a cedar closet, says Jan Schaffer of Closet Gallery in Orange. Many people believe that it wards off moths, but that's never been shown to be true. And while cedar gives off a great scent, what you're smelling is the oil in the wood, which, after a year or so in our dry climate, fades away. You may be better off with a less expensive closet and some cedar blocks to give you the scent. When the blocks dry out, you can sand them down to release more of the scent.

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Q. We have Mexican pavers in our kitchen that haven't been sealed correctly. Now they have many stains on them. What can be used to clean them properly, and can it be done easily?

S.K., Fountain Valley

A. This kind of tile requires an acid wash before it's sealed, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim. Because you're working with acid, you'll really need to know what you're doing. If you're not sure, you may need to let a professional do the job. Basically, you use a solution of one part phosphoric acid to 10 parts water. You need to brush that over the pavers and rinse it off, then let it dry out for a few days to allow any moisture to evaporate. The wash should remove most of the stains. After it's completely dried out, apply a water-based sealer to protect the floor.

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Q. We'd like to paint our kitchen cabinets white. However, I want to use an alkyd-based paint, and I don't want yellowing after a few years. Can I coat the paint with something to prevent yellowing?

W.W., Fullerton

A. It's a fact of life that alkyd- or oil-based paints yellow with age, and there's not much you can do to prevent that, says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. Because pure white has little or no pigment, it appears to turn yellow faster. If you're determined to go with a pure white, you may have to switch to a latex enamel. Otherwise, you may want to try an off-white, which won't make quite as dramatic a color change as pure white.

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Q. We're thinking about doing a little remodeling in our bathrooms and replacing the old tub and shower enclosures. We'd like to have clear glass doors but have heard they're not as safe as the ones of textured glass. Is that true?

C.S., La Palma

A. No, enclosures for tubs and showers are all made with tempered safety glass regardless of the style, says Debbie Mundt of College Glass & Mirror in Anaheim. This type of glass is four to five times stronger than regular glass of the same thickness. If you're concerned about safety, consider a framed unit, as opposed to the unframed style, but good quality enclosures of any style are generally safe. Clear glass is popular because it shows off the tile in your shower and makes the bathroom appear larger. However, because water spots are more visible, you have to take care to clean it regularly.

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Q. We have a brick floor in our powder room, and the grout around the toilet seems damp at times. I've had a new seal installed on the toilet, and the walls and floors have been checked for leaks, but none have been found. Any ideas?

E.T., Lake Forest

A. First, check that water isn't leaking on the outside of the toilet, says Ted Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra. There may be a hairline crack in the tank or a problem with the supply line. If not, the seal may not be working because the closet ring could be set too high above the floor, compressing the wax seal too much. Also, check for water entering through the two bolt holes at the base of the toilet.

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