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Strip Shutters' Finish Before Painting Them


Q. We have shutters in our living room that were originally installed in the 1970s. They have a dark walnut stain, and we'd like to paint them white. Can they be transformed to make them look nice?



A. You'll want to be sure that all wax or finish is removed from the wood before painting, says Tom Toia of Imperial Paint in Anaheim.

Clean the wood, then use a light sandpaper to score the finish. Apply a good multipurpose sealer.

If the look you want is pure white, consider using a latex enamel as a finish coat, because this type of paint resists yellowing. Some people choose to rent a sprayer to paint things such as shutters, because it coats intricate pieces evenly. You can also do a good job with a high-quality set of brushes.


Q. The bathroom connected to our guest bedroom doesn't get much use, and periodically we get a powerful sewer odor from it. What could be the cause of this, and how can it be prevented?



A. This is a relatively common problem in bathrooms that don't get much use, says plumber Jack Cref of Huntington Beach. It usually occurs because water in the trap of the sink or tub has evaporated, allowing the sewer odor to drift up and into the room. The water is designed to act as a seal.

Try pouring water down the drain periodically, especially during the warmer months.


Q. We have ceramic tile on the walkways outside of our house. Whenever it gets damp or wet, the surface is very slippery. Can we do anything to the tile that will make it safer yet still maintain the look?


Huntington Beach

A. There is a professional service that will give tile more grip while it's wet, says Bill Gaynor of Tile Club in Anaheim. Check with your dealer for a recommendation.

Basically, a chemical is applied to the tile that doesn't change the look of it but keeps it from being a slick surface. It lasts a long time, and it's often used in commercial applications, such as restaurants and offices with high-traffic areas.


Q. I removed my kitchen cabinet doors to paint them. Now I'm having a problem getting them to fit as tightly to the cabinets as they did before. How can I make them work?



A. Many times the holes that have been bored into the cabinet have worn out of shape from turning the hinge screws in and out, says cabinetmaker Dave Holloway of Westminster. You might want to try filling the holes with putty and starting over. Drill a tiny opening through the dried putty to guide the screw in and give the hinge a tight base to swing from.


Q. I purchased a freezer for my garage to store surplus food, but I'm worried that in case of a long power outage I might lose a big food investment. I'm thinking of investing in a gas-powered generator. Is this a good idea?


Laguna Hills


A. If the only reason you'd have a generator is to protect your freezer from power outages, you might be wasting your money, says Kathy McNally of McNally Electric in Los Alamitos.

Power outages are rare, and, even with the major outage of a few weeks ago, most people had their power restored in a couple of hours.

With a new freezer, the seal should be in good shape. As long as you don't open it, your frozen foods probably won't even start defrosting for quite some time. If you're still interested in protecting yourself, look for at least a 20-amp model and get the highest number of hours-per-gallon you can find.

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