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An Ode to Oak's Undoing

ALSO: * Mold on north wall; * Painting those blinds


Q We want to stain our bleached oak end tables a darker color to make them match the rest of our furniture. What's the best way to do this?


Mission Viejo


A There are basically two types of bleached furniture, says Mark Bausman of Bausman & Father Furniture Refinishing in Huntington Beach.

Some are made with a whitewash finish that gives the piece a "bleached" look. For this type, you simply strip the finish off and refinish it with the darker stain. For truly bleached furniture, in which bleach is in contact with the wood, that bleached layer will have to be sanded off. This can be a time-consuming job, especially if there's a lot of ornate work on the piece.

Once you've removed the bleached layer, which is about paper thin, you can refinish as normal.


Q Our home was built in 1971 without insulation in the walls. During this El Nino season, we've had some mildew and a musty odor coming from a north-facing wall. Would an insulation injection between the walls take care of the problem?


Fountain Valley


A Rather than insulate, check to find out why moisture is getting in, says Jim Gorman of Rancho Lumber in Westminster.

North-facing walls are often vulnerable to mildew because they get so little sun. What often happens is that the stucco isn't properly sealed, and moisture leaks in from the outside. You may need to apply a sealer to keep moisture out or, at worst, remove it and apply new stucco.

Also, many homes of that period were built with a "weep screen" installed at the bottom of the stucco that allows moisture to drip out. Over time, landscaping can close up that screen and prevent moisture from draining.


Q We have some blue wooden blinds in our living room that we'd like to paint white. Is there an easy way to do this?


Laguna Niguel


A Unfortunately, there's no easy way to paint blinds, says Gidon Adlon of Bob's Shades & Linoleum in Orange.

The cording has to be removed from the bottom, then each slat needs to be pulled out. If you're trying to paint them white you'll need to apply a good primer before painting them with the finish coat.

Then, after they dry, you have to carefully thread each slat through the cords. You're talking about a very labor-intensive job, and it may be better to simply buy new white blinds than go through the time it takes to paint old ones.

If you have a question about your home or garden, 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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