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A HRLPING HAND

INSIDE & OUT : To Keep Paint Free of Chips, Get in Groove

August 19, 1995|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q: We'd like to paint our concrete patio and back-yard walkways, but when I look at the yards of neighbors who've done it, the paint is always chipped and scraped. Should I use some kind of primer to allow the paint to adhere?

LT

Tustin

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A: The key to painting concrete or cement is to etch the surface, says Jim Grant of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. When you see painted concrete or cement that is chipping, it's usually because the surface was too slick and not porous enough.

Use a solution of muriatic acid and water, wear rubber gloves and protective eye wear, of course, and wash over the areas to be painted, then rinse them off with plain water and give it at least a week to dry out. Then you can apply your concrete paint. Chipping also occurs when people try to paint new concrete too early. Give a new slab at least a month to fully cure before painting it.

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Q: A couple of years ago we installed a new "low flow" toilet. It looks nice, but it seems to take at least three flushes to clear the bowl. Any ideas on how I can improve its performance?

H.O.

Cypress

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A: This is a fairly common problem, since the water-saving 1.5-gallon models are mandatory when you get a new toilet, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove. They're designed to do the same job with much less water (the older toilets had a 5-gallon tank).

Some of the new toilets are very well designed, and they function very well with less water. Others don't, and they have problems from the day they're installed. You may be able to adjust the mechanism inside the tank to increase the water storage so that more flows into the bowl, but that may not solve the problem if the basic design is poor. The key is that when shopping for toilets, don't assume they're all the same. Look for well-known brand names and ask around to see which ones perform better than others.

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Q: I was given an old table with a walnut veneer top from a relative. It's in need of refinishing, and I know that veneer can be redone. However, can a layer of veneer be too thin to be refinished?

P.B.

San Clemente

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A: You've got to be extra careful whenever you're working with veneer, says Chris Maciel of the Old Way Furniture Repair & Restoration in La Habra. In most cases, veneer can be refinished if you take extreme care during the sanding phase. To start out, you shouldn't use any water-based stripping agents or cleaners, since these may cause the veneer to buckle or raise the grain.

After the surface is dry, hand sand with 220-grit paper going with the grain, very lightly. After the surface is clean, you can apply your stain and finish coat. Before going through the refinishing process, give the table a good examination. If any of the veneer is buckling or severely worn down in spots, it may be worth it to just have the veneer replaced.

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Q: I recently changed one of my faucets, and the hardest part of the job was trying to angle the flashlight so I could see what I was doing in the cabinet underneath. Before I tackle the other sink, what kind of flashlights do the pros use to do this kind of work?

J.K.

Huntington Beach

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A: Angled flashlights that bend are available at most hardware stores, says plumber Max Gomez of Anaheim. However, for a job that's going to take me some time, you may want to use a shop light or a clamp light that plugs into a socket. The clamp light can be bent and it clamps onto a door or pipe to free your hands and illuminate what you're working on. The shop light generally has a hook so it can hang down.

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If you have a question about your home or garden, A Helping Hand will help you find the answer. Send questions to: John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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