Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Shevat 5760 - February 2, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Do It Yourself -- With Yosef Krinsky

One can sometimes do a far better cleaning with ordinary household substances than the latest "super 2000 ultra products." Household vinegar, for example, is one of the best cleaners for plastic and aluminum products, including Formica, doors, and previously shellacked woods.

Ammonia water (beware of the toxic fumes) can clean marking pen stains, food stains, stamp pad ink, and even perspiration stains.

Household detergent can clean bird droppings, blood, egg, jelly, and most dirt. One must be very careful of mixing any cleaning agents together as extremely toxic side effects are possible.

Many of my clients have asked how to clean crayon from freshly painted walls. If the wall was prepared with an undercoat and the top coat of paint is a quality latex or acrylic, WD-40 (R) can be sprayed onto a rag. The rag can then clean the stain; any residue can be removed with dishwashing soap and a sponge.

As a professional painter, the most common questions I am asked include: How does one properly paint the walls of a home? Do I use oil, whitewash, or plastic paints? Is an undercoat really necessary?

The proper method of painting is the following: first cover all furnishings and floors, open all wall cracks and peel any blistering paint with a 6 in 1 scraper (available in all better D-I-Y stores); fill any cracks or imperfections and sand after the filler is dry (may be repeated a number of times); apply a quality undercoat such as ACE Stain Block, Bulls Eye 123, or Sherwin Williams Primer 2000.

After 3 hours, apply the best quality acrylic paint you can afford. Reapply after 2 hours. Clean up with soap and water, remove coverings and enjoy your newly painted walls.

An undercoat is usually needed, and I always apply one. This is the foundation of your new paint and will prepare the walls for the paint to last the longest. Most paint problems come from not using a quality undercoat. It is sometimes more important to have the best undercoat than the best topcoat of paint for long-lasting finishes.

Arlynn Nellhous asks the following, "First I thought I was looking at sawdust at the bottom of the bathroom door frame, for a handyman had done some work on the door. But a few weeks after sweeping it up, I saw the same sort or pile (which I now figure is sand at the same spot), now with a long black crawling thing headed for it. He went for what looks to be a hole where the floor panel and floor tile don't quite meet. He then made the mistake of heading out again, and he had a fitting levaya in the toilet.

"So I was on my way to the hardware store to buy whatever it takes to fill the hole and whatever it takes to make it lie smooth, when I thought, perhaps I should fumigate the house?"

The creature you found may be a harmless silverfish or it could be a termite which could literally eat you out of house and home. The best course of action would be to hire a licensed exterminator (make sure to examine HIS license) to apply the proper chemical to your insects.

After a few days the door can be filled with a glue putty such as Tambour's PVA Glue Putty or Red Devil One Time. After the filling compound has dried, sand and reapply if necessary. Sand again and apply a quality paint undercoat. The door could be painted with an enamel acrylic or polyurethane paint.

Ms. Joanne M. has a shower door that keeps falling off although it was just recently installed. The door is attached to a hinge with screws that seem to pop out as soon as the screws are returned. "What would be a permanent solution?" she asks.

This could be rectified two ways. The first would be to return the door and tighten the screws yet again, but this time apply Locktite adhesive on top of the screws. This would keep the screws from falling out.

My personal choice would be to apply a rivet with a rivet gun. These are available in inexpensive sets. Line up the door with the hinge and apply a rivet, pumping gently on the gun. When the rivet is set properly, the gun will cut off the excess. Continue the process on all the screw holes. Your shower door should be carefree for many years.

Today's Do It Yourself Item: A sanding sponge. These are rectangular sponges covered by a coating of graphite. They are available in various degrees of roughness from coarse to fine, and are the perfect tool to sand not only walls but doors, metal work, and areas that are difficult to reach.

Today's Do It Yourself Hint: On showers and kitchen sinks there is occasionally a white buildup that is very difficult to clean. Use a mixture of 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 warm water and clean with a sponge. This can be repeated over a few days to achieve the best results. Caution: since it is acidic, vinegar can pit your counters, so rinse the areas well after cleaning.

Yosef Krinsky, a third generation craftsman, is the CEO of Walls R Us -- House Painting, Inc., Jerusalem Division. He can be reached at (02) 585-9559; common mail POB 27355, Jerusalem; email at; and soon at his new World Wide Web Site. Homeowners (renters too) are invited to email their questions for a somewhat quick replay. He will publish names of individuals who ask for advice unless they explicitly request to remain anonymous.


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