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A HELPING HAND

Think Twice About Using Sealer on Paint

November 23, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. We recently painted our stairway and banisters with a white, high-gloss latex enamel. I'm concerned about protecting it. Should I coat it with a polyurethane sealer to get some extra protection from stains and nicks?

R.T.

La Mirada

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A. Tom Toia of Imperial Paint in Anaheim says he'd advise against it. Generally, when something like that is done, you have to worry about whether the paint has been properly prepared for the urethane. If it's not, the urethane will chip off, and the paint could chip off as well. If you're happy with the finish you have, stick with it. Just try to keep it clean and do touch-ups when necessary.

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Q. We bought a condo over the summer, and whenever we take a shower, the ceiling develops large water droplets that fall onto the floor and sink. We end up having to wipe off the ceiling after drying ourselves. How can this be fixed?

W.G.

Fountain Valley

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A. Problems like this are usually related to the bathroom's ventilation, says contractor Ed Sanchez of Santa Ana. Of course, if your shower water is very hot and a lot of steam is produced, it's hard for any ventilation system to keep condensation from forming on the walls and ceiling. If the bathroom has a window, make sure that it's open and that any curtains are pulled back to allow circulation. If your bathroom has a vent fan, be sure it's operating during the shower and well afterward to help clear the room of moisture. If privacy allows, bathe with the bathroom door open.

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Q. A friend gave us a paper roller that rolls newspapers very tightly so that they can be burned in the fireplace like logs. They seem to burn OK, but will burning paper damage the inside of the chimney?

H.H.

Irvine

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A. It may not damage the chimney, but there are other reasons for not burning paper, says George Moelter of Anaheim Patio & Fireside in Brea. Paper produces a large amount of particulates in the air and contributes to pollution. It also could deposit large amounts of soot inside the chimney, which will have to be cleaned sooner. You're better off using a good, dry hardwood for fires and recycling the papers.

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Q. The kitchen cabinets in the house we bought a year ago look great, but there's an awful, musty odor that we can't get rid of. We've tried using room deodorizers, but that doesn't help for long. Any other ideas?

C.F.

Orange

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A. Try to track the source of the odor problem, says contractor Dave Chamberlain of Irvine. If it's in the bottom cabinets, it may be caused by a dead mouse underneath the cabinet floor. It's also not uncommon to find that cabinets used to hold spices retain those odors for a long time. You may need to replace the shelf paper, wash the inside of the cabinet with a detergent and even paint the inside of the cabinet to seal in the odors.

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Q. I've seen sanding sponges at the hardware store that are supposed to work well for intricate sanding jobs. Do they?

S.I.

Huntington Beach

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A. They are great when you're trying to sand the spindles of a chair or some area where it's hard to fit conventional sandpaper, says carpenter Mike Dellums of Yorba Linda. The sponge fits into those hard-to-reach crevices and gives a better sanding job. Take care to not sand against the grain.

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