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INSIDE & OUT | A HELPING HAND

How to Battle Squeak Attack on 2nd Floor

February 17, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. We have a two-story home, and recently we've noticed some squeaking in the floor in the upstairs master bedroom. The noise appears to be getting worse. Should we pull up the carpeting and check the subfloor?

D. S.

Laguna Niguel

A. It's not unusual to get squeaks on a second story, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. Pull the carpet up and take a good look at the area around the squeaking. It could just be that the floor there is in need of re-nailing.

A ring shank nail should be used in these situations. This is a nail that burrows as it's hammered and cannot be removed. There are occasions when termite or dry-rot damage can cause a gap between the joist and subfloor, which leads to squeaking. Look for a sign of deterioration or termite damage in the squeaking area.

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Q. The original owner of our condominium applied a brick facing to the kitchen walls. It's not very attractive, and we'd really like to remove it. Any suggestions?

B. K.

Buena Park

A. It can probably be removed, but it may take a lot of work, says Rich Zelle of Hal's Paint & Decorating in Fullerton.

Use a chisel or stiff putty knife to pry the bricks from the wall. You'll probably be left with a wall that's gouged, stained and in no condition to be painted. You'll have to remove the old mastic and grout, apply a joint compound or some other form of patch to the gouges and smooth out the wall. After it's been smoothed, you can apply a primer and your finish coat.

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Q. Our 25-year-old artificial Christmas tree is in perfect condition; however, in putting it together over the holidays, we had a problem with the branches fitting into the bottom of the trunk, and the tree didn't look symmetrical as a result. The branches don't seem to fit right. Can they be replaced?

H. K.

Lake Forest

A. You might check with your local crafts store, since many of them carry branches of varying sizes, says carpenter Tom Younger of Santa Ana. If the holes in the trunk are worn and are not supporting the branches correctly, you may need to fill them with a wood putting, let them dry, then drill new, smaller holes that fit the new branches.

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Q. We have an avocado-green bathtub we'd like to replace with a white one. However, we found out that because of its small size, our only options are buying a "plastic" tub or reglazing the old one. Which would be better?

L. M.

Costa Mesa

A. Neither is a great choice, says Rich Haagsma of Faucets 'n Fixtures in Orange. The "plastic" or vinyl liner fits over the old tub, covering up any chips or imperfections. However, you have to be careful how you clean the vinyl, because you can't use an abrasive, which is what you would use with a regular tub. The reglazing is more like painting. An acid wash is applied to the surface to etch it, and an enamel is sprayed on.

Be careful not to clean a glazed tub with abrasives, because you could scratch or remove the surface. If you intend to keep the house for a while and the tub in that bathroom gets regularly used, you may want to consider the extra expense of modifying the bathroom and installing a new tub.

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Q. I have a great, square pine table in my kitchen that gets used all the time, and I'm so annoyed by the fact that one leg seems to be shorter than the other and the table rocks. I've tried putting paper and cardboard underneath to stabilize it, but that hasn't helped. What's the best way to fix it permanently?

G. C.

Fountain Valley

A. Try getting one or two of those little foam protective pads at the hardware store, says furniture restorer Mark Hiller of Fullerton. Shave or cut them with scissors if you find that they elevate the leg too much.

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