Do It Yourself

Do It Yourself

Real Estate Search

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Q. My house has aluminum siding. The baked-on finish has become badly scratched in places. Is it possible to paint it? What preparation and paint are needed? —Mary

A. The siding can be painted, and proper preparation is important. In addition to the scratches, there has probably been some chalking or oxidation of the old finish. You can find out by rubbing a cloth briskly over the siding in several places; if the cloth picks up a fine powder, it is chalked paint that should be removed to ensure that the new paint adheres. On large surfaces, chalk is best removed by pressure-washing. The washer nozzle should always be aimed downward to avoid getting water behind the siding. If traces of chalk remain after washing, the siding should be primed with an alkyd or oil-based primer before painting.

If the finish is free of chalk, the only priming that needs to be done is on scratched areas that expose bare metal. A latex-based primer is generally the best choice for these areas.

Choose a high-quality, 100 percent acrylic paint for the finish coats. A flat or satin finish is recommended. The more glossy the finish, the more it will emphasize dents or uneven spots.

Q. Water was seeping into our basement through the concrete floor. In an attempt to stop it, we applied a waterproofing paint. Since then, even though we have solved the water problem with an expensive drainage project outside the house, we have had a lot of problems with the floor. The paint bubbled up in some areas and we scraped it off. Parts of the floor are now white and crumbling. How can I get my smooth floor back? — N. Hermann

A. As you have discovered, putting waterproofing paint on the floor was a mistake. These paints are designed to stop seepage through walls, and they often do a very good job of that, but they should not be used on floors.

You should have the floor examined by an experienced concrete contractor. It is possible that the slab can be cleaned and given an overlay of fresh concrete, but only an examination by an expert can determine that. You can also get a smooth, good-looking floor by covering it with interlocking tiles. The tiles are not fastened to the floor and can be removed at any time, but they give a smooth, attractive, skid-resistant surface. For more information, visit http:/ / and type garage floor tiles in the search space.

Do It Yourself

Q. My wood kitchen cabinets are about 10 years old. I kept the natural wood finish and have used Murphy’s Oil Soap over the years to clean them. Now the cabinets over the stove are getting a tacky surface that I can’t clean off. Can you help?

— F. Ralph

A. The tackiness is probably caused by a combination of steam and grease from your cooking. Extinguish any flames in the kitchen, open windows for ventilation and wipe down the tacky areas with a cloth moistened with mineral spirits (paint thinner). This should smooth the surface and eliminate tackiness.

Murphy’s Oil Soap is an excellent cleaner if directions are followed carefully, but keep in mind that it should not be used on bare wood or wood that needs to be refinished.

Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail Questions cannot be answered personally.

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