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Look at Bright Side of Reflective Film


Q: We bought a house recently that has several windows that face west. The afternoon sun bears down when it's warm and really heats up the house. We don't want to go to the expense of getting new windows. Is there anything else we can do?


Anaheim Hills


A: Reflective window film might help keep out the rays, says Dee Watt of College Glass & Mirror in Fullerton. Make sure the glass is perfectly clean, then apply it carefully to the surface and use a wet sponge to work out air bubbles.

From the outside, the film gives a mirror image that the sun reflects. On the inside you'll notice the rooms will be slightly darker, but not significantly, and you should see a difference in that the rooms will be much more comfortable.

On the downside, window films can deteriorate over time and become hard to remove.


Q: I had to repair some large tears in my living room drywall, and I used the type of texturizer that comes in a spray can to give it a rough finish. The patched areas are still visible even though the texture seems the same as the surrounding wall. What can I do to make it seem less obvious?


Yorba Linda


A: You may want to try repainting the wall, if that hasn't already been done, says contractor Don Gray of Anaheim. Many times people will repaint just the patches, which makes them stand out.

If that doesn't work, you could try spraying a wider area around the patched areas with the texturizer to give it a more uniform look. The texture material that comes in spray cans isn't generally designed for large patching jobs. It's possible to rent a drywall sprayer that can give you a more professional finish, but it is messy, especially if you haven't used one before.


Q: We have a fence that needs repainting since it hasn't been touched in over 10 years. It was previously done with an oil-based enamel, and I'd like to use an acrylic enamel this time around. Is there anything special I need to do in preparation?


Costa Mesa


A: First, you'll need to scrape away any loose paint and sand rough areas until smooth, then clean it and give it time to dry out, and make sure you fill in any cracks with caulk or exterior Spackle, says Rich Zelle of Fullerton Paint and Flooring.

Use an alkyd primer on it to give the acrylic paint a good base, then apply your finish coat. There are some acrylic primers that are good enough to use on top of an oil-based enamel, but Zelle recommends the alkyd primer.


Q: Until about 15 years ago we had a refrigerator that had a freezer compartment on the bottom and the refrigerator on top. We liked the freezer on the bottom since it made most things in the refrigerator at nearly eye level. Now our freezer-on-top model is in need of replacement and we'd like to find a freezer-on-bottom, but none of the stores seem to carry them. Why?


Laguna Niguel


A: There are most likely two reasons for this, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove.

The first is probably market studies have shown that most people prefer a freezer on the top. The other is that it's probably somehow cheaper to make a refrigerator that way. He suggests contacting some reputable appliance dealers to see if they know of any manufacturers that make a freezer on the bottom and whether it can be ordered.

It's probably not a popular item right now, but someone should still make them.


Q: We have a one-piece vinyl floor that looks great except for an ugly gouge that occurred during the installation of a dishwasher. Is there any way this can be repaired?


San Juan Capistrano


A: Often these floors have patterns such as squares to make them look like tile, says floor installer Gregg Zutalt of Santa Ana. If that's the case and you have a piece of the floor left over or it's still available from the manufacturer, you could pull out the damaged square then insert and glue down a new one.

In case you can't find a remnant of that pattern, check under your refrigerator and cut out a clean patch from there. If that's not possible, you may want to fill the gouge with a clear epoxy. This may not improve the look, but at least it will help prevent the tear from spreading any further.

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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