Q: I have recessed flood lamps in my house and I'm considering using outdoor flood bulbs in the fixtures to extend the life of the bulbs. Is this a good idea?
A: You're going to get the same amount of life--about 2,000 hours--whether you use an outdoor bulb outside or inside, says Suzzane Atrat of Light Bulbs Etc. in Orange.
Outdoor bulbs are made with a thicker glass so they can handle the extremes in temperature, but they have the same basic filament parts.
To get more life out of your bulbs, you could choose a fluorescent, which has a very long life, but many people dislike the light they give off. You could also use a halogen bulb, or even a krypton bulb. Kryptons use a gas that coats the filament and gives it a much longer life, about 8,000 to 10,000 hours.
Q: I have a concrete patio that's more than 40 years old. There are several long cracks in it that I've tried to fill with cement glue and por-rock, but these patches tend to crack and disintegrate. I'm considering using silicone, since that's less likely to harden. Any other suggestions?
A: You can try the silicone caulk or patch, since it probably will give you more flexibility in that crack, says Bill Sink of Angelus Quarries in Santa Ana. While it may last longer than a standard concrete patch, eventually it will break apart as well.
If you're not up for replacing the patio, check with your local building supply store about patio coverings. These fill in cracks and imperfections and create a new, long-lasting surface for your patio or sidewalk at a fraction of the cost of pouring new concrete.
Q: We have a sliding glass door that leads to our patio, and our concern is that while we'd like to have it open a little at night to get some ventilation in our house, there's only the screen door that separates us from an intruder. Is there a better way to keep an entry secure and still have the slider open?
A: You could choose to get a reinforced sliding screen door for that entry, says Rob Livingstone of Crystal Glass & Mirror in Santa Ana.
These are made with a steel frame and have steel mesh in place of aluminum, which is more commonly found in screen doors. They generally have to be ordered to fit your entryway.
You could also have some type of motion alarm installed on the entryway that would be set off if someone tried to get in.
Q: We want to install a ceramic tile floor in one of our bathrooms, but we'd like to do it on top of the one-piece vinyl floor that's already there. Can this be done, or do we have to pull the old flooring up first?
A: You can do it if the vinyl has been in place for a long time and there are no areas where it's pulling up off of the subfloor, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim.
However, if the subflooring is wood, it's probably best to put some kind of backing on top of the vinyl, such as a quarter-inch hardy-backer, to provide a solid base for the tile.
What you don't want is flexibility in the floor, since that will crack the grout and tile as people walk on it. If the vinyl has been laid down on concrete and you're sure it's securely fastened, you can rough up the surface, then use thin-set cement with a straight acrylic mix.
\o7 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.\f7