Q. We bought a house last year that has a chain-link fence around the front of the property. Unfortunately, the fence makes the front yard look ugly. I'd like to paint it white if possible. How would I do that?
C.C., Santa Ana
A. You're probably going to need to rent a sprayer and spray the paint on, says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. You could also use a roller, but you may not get nice, even coats of paint. You may want to use an oil-based marine enamel that's designed to adhere to metal. Since the metal used in chain link isn't very finished, you shouldn't have to use a primer before painting. Just use a brush and detergent and try to get as much dirt off as you can, then use the hose to spray it down.
When you're ready to paint, use a paint sprayer and apply a very fine coat, let it dry, then another and another until you get the finish you want. Since this type of fence moves, it's likely to crack a paint finish, which is why you need to spray coats that are as thin as possible since they form a stronger bond with the metal.
Q. We bought a sliding screen door for our condo balcony last year, and suddenly, it doesn't seem to slide as easily as it used to. Our old door lasted 10 years, which is why we think this is a problem. Could the problem be in the track?
A. I'd suspect the rollers in the door before I'd think there was a problem with the track, says Eric Watt of College Glass & Mirror in Anaheim. Many of the doors sold today come with poor quality rollers, but they can be changed if the manufacturer of your door makes replacement rollers.
I'd also check to make sure the door is the right height for your track, since a wrong-sized door won't open or close properly. Finally, check the track. Any pitting or deterioration could be caused by a chemical reaction between the metal and stucco, and the track would need to be replaced.
Q. Our house has a small concrete path that goes down the center of the back yard. We'd like to remove it and fill it in with grass, but what's the first step? Do we need to get some kind of heavy equipment?
A. The two things you'll need to do it yourself are a 15-pound sledgehammer, which you can probably rent, and enough strength to use it, says Bill Sink of Angelus Building Supply in Santa Ana. Most walkways like that are not built very thick and probably aren't reinforced, so you won't have to hammer all day. Break it up into pieces you can haul comfortably in a wheelbarrow. Underneath the concrete there might be a base of sand or gravel, which you can cover with topsoil and then finish with sod or grass seed.
Q. I was told that the best security for my sliding glass doors and windows is to drill a hole in the frame and insert a screw to connect the window to the frame. Is that true?
F.M., Laguna Niguel
A. That's a very easy way to secure a sliding window or door, says glass and door installer Harry Greene of Lake Forest. Burglars like to take a crowbar and lift a door up and pull it out to get inside. When the door or window is connected to the frame, there's not much they can do. You can either do that or use one of those kits available in hardware stores that include a small bar to make the connection.
Q. The fireplace in our house has glass doors, and one of them has a crack. Does it really need to be replaced? Can't I just remove the doors?
A. Doors are used in newer fireplaces because they help save energy, says George Moelter of Anaheim Patio & Fireside in Brea. As the fire dies down, a draft of cold air outside rushes through the chimney and cools down the house. If you close the fireplace doors before going to bed, that won't happen. You really should replace a cracked door since in a hot fire it can blow out onto your hearth and carpet.