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
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
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
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
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?"
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.