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Repairing What Years Wrought


Q: I have some good-quality wrought-iron patio furniture that's more than 20 years old. I've repainted it occasionally with wrought-iron paint, but now it's quite rusty.

I had an estimate on refinishing the furniture, but it amounted to more than $1,000. How would I do it myself? Would I rent a sandblaster?




A: A sandblaster is an excellent way to remove rust and old paint, the only problem is that you're likely to pit the surface of the iron with it, says Gene Teramura of California Paint & Decorating in Santa Ana.

You may want to first apply naval jelly to the furniture with a brush to pull off the rust and then wash the furniture down. When it's dry, you'll need to apply a rust-preventive primer, then one or two coats of a good-quality enamel paint.

Spray enamels are fine, and many people use them for intricate work such as wrought iron. The problem is that for a lot of pieces of furniture, you'll need a number of paint cans, which can become expensive. You'll get just as good a job brushing the paint on.


Q: We're going to be remodeling one of our bathrooms soon and I'm not looking forward to getting a new toilet. I understand that the new toilets use much less water than the old one we have, are more susceptible to clogging and need more than one flush to clear the bowl. Are there any toilets that perform better than others?




A: There are lots of poorly designed toilets out there, it's just that we never noticed them before, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove.

In the days before regulations on water-using devices took effect, these bad toilets worked because there was plenty of water running through them to make them flush. Now, the new low-capacity toilets have to be very well designed to work with only a little more than a gallon of water.

Gwartz suggesting you check with some plumbing supply stores for recommendations; generally, you'll want to stay with the brand-name manufacturers. You also might want to consider a toilet with a pressure assist, which uses air pressure stored into a tank to force the flush through.

Many people don't like these, though, because they are noisier than conventional toilets.


Q: There is a 1 1/2-inch burn mark on the cultured-marble counter in our bathroom. Can this be satisfactorily repaired?


Mission Viejo


A: There are services that can repair marks in these types of surfaces. However, it's not going to look as good as new, says cabinetmaker Tim Gonzalez of Santa Ana.

Because of the way they're made, they're not easily fixed. The mark could be rubbed out if the surface finish is thick enough. If not, an enamel epoxy could be used to cover it up, but you'll always see the patch. Because these tops aren't too expensive, you might want to see if putting in a new one is within your budget.

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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