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Colorant Is a Concrete Alternative to the Ordinary, Stark Driveway


Q: Our house is a Spanish design, with lots of plants, a tile roof, the whole shot. Our asphalt driveway is breaking apart and is in need of replacement. I don't want a concrete driveway, because I think it will ruin the rustic look of the house. But everyone tells me that no one puts in black asphalt driveways anymore. Are there any other options?


Laguna Beach


A: There are contractors who work with asphalt and who will install an asphalt driveway for you, but first you should look at other possibilities, says Bill Sink of Angelus Quarries in Santa Ana.

Concrete driveways, which last longer than asphalt, don't have to be that stark white or gray color you see most of the time. A colorant can be added to the cement as it's being prepared. It will give you a shade you want.

Another popular option are interlocking paving stones. They're available in a number of colors.


Q: We're planning to put wood floors in our house, and I'd like to have them put in both of our bathrooms. Would this be a problem, considering the heat and humidity created in bathrooms?


Buena Park


A: It's OK to use a wood floor in a small powder room, but in a full bath with a tub or shower, it's probably not a good idea, says Steve Guenther of Wood Floor Wholesalers in Anaheim.

The treatments and sealers used on wood flooring are excellent, and the good-quality floor is generally resistant to moisture, but showers and tubs can make a room very humid. Also, water is splashed from those areas.

Over time, you would see buckling and damage to the finish.


Q: The central air-conditioning unit for our house sits on the ground in the backyard. I was wondering if it should be covered or somehow shielded from sunlight. Does heat make it less efficient?




A: Don't bother trying to shield the unit; it's designed to work outside in the sun, says Gary Kuhn of Appliance Parts Center in Laguna Niguel.

The blower works hard at creating a vacuum and pulling warm air from the house, so you need to make sure there isn't anything obstructing the airflow.

Make sure there's a rain gutter that keeps water from dripping onto the unit during the winter. There are also covers available at many of the large home centers that can be used to keep the air conditioner clean during the cool months.


Q: We had to deal with some roof leaks last winter, and now I'm wondering if I'm facing another problem. The rolled fiberglass insulation in the attic got wet from the leaking. Does it need to be replaced once it gets soaked?




A: You should get up there and check the damage, says Pete Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster.

If the insulation is still damp after a few months, or if you see mold starting to form, you'll need to cut out the damaged areas and replace them. But if it's dry it's probably fine, even though it may look ugly. It will still retain its insulating value.


Q: I have a very high wall in my bedroom, and I'm planning on painting the room this summer. Because it requires getting way up on the ladder to paint, I'd like to paint the high areas with just one coat. What's the best way to do that?




A: There's no way to guarantee that you'll get it done in one coat; it will depend on the condition of the wall and quality of the paint, says house painter Chet Howard of Santa Ana.

Get the best acrylic paint you can find and make sure the wall is as clean as possible. Be patient on the ladder, work slowly and make sure you've got enough paint on the roller. If, after it dries, you see that you need to go over it again, remember that once it's all done, you won't have to get up there for another five years or so.

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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