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With Mexican Paver Floors, It Pays to Get Into Hot Water


Q. We just bought a home with what the real estate agent described as "handmade Saltillo Mexican pavers." We were wondering how these should be cared for and how sturdy they are.


Santa Ana

A. These Mexican paver tiles are very strong and thick compared with common ceramic tile, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim. About the only time they crack is when there's a crack in the home's foundation.

They're best cleaned with hot water and a sponge mop. Any kind of detergent can affect the finish. Usually they have a matte or glossy finish, depending on the sealer used. If you're noticing some stains getting into the grout, you may need to reseal the flooring with a urethane sealer.


Q. We were told that to improve our water we need to install a water softener. Is this the same as a reverse-osmosis system? Will it improve the taste of our water?



A. Water softeners are designed to protect plumbing from deposits and minerals, but they're not going to make your water taste better, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating in Los Alamitos.

They work by adding salt to the water supply, which doesn't tend to add to the taste of water. Reverse-osmosis systems filter salts, rust and impurities out of the water, giving it a better taste. You may need both systems to improve the quality and taste of your water.


Q. I painted my kitchen cabinets recently with an oil-based paint and a roller. Now that they're dry, there are many small paint bubbles. What causes this, and how can I get rid of them?


San Clemente

A. It sounds as though something went wrong in the preparation, says painter Gregg Fields of Brea. Scrape away the bubbled areas and sand the paint away. Try to "feather" the area with a fine grit sandpaper so that there's an even transition from the old paint to the new.

After the area is cleaned with a rag and paint thinner, apply an oil-based primer, then try the finish coat again. Make sure when you're applying the paint that the roller isn't too wet and that you're covering the area slowly.


Q. We have a sliding glass door that opens to our patio, but I'm thinking about French doors because of their look. Are they as safe, security wise, as sliding doors?


Huntington Beach

A. There are locks that will make your French doors very secure, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster. You might choose a mortise bolt, which is installed on the top or bottom of the doors and which locks the door into the frame. You could also install a double-cylinder deadbolt, which requires a key for it to be opened on the inside or outside.

When using this type of lock, remember that it's always a good idea to keep the key in an accessible area in case you need to leave the house quickly in an emergency. You might also want to look at sliding French doors that have the common secure locking mechanism found in good aluminum sliding doors.


Handyman's note: J.T. of Irvine writes to pass along a solution he's learned to remove oil spots on a concrete driveway: "Take some common cat box filler and grind it up into a powder with a brick. Then pour some paint thinner onto the stain and scrub it with a stiff brush. After it's been brushed, sprinkle the powder on the area and let it sit a few hours before sweeping it up. At least a good portion of the stain should disappear, and if you repeat the process you might remove more of it. Plus, the clay from the cat box filler is roughly the same color as the concrete, and it helps hide the stains."

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