Q: Do you have suggestions on how to get some type of strong adhesive off a 6-foot-by-12-inch granite shelf that is stuck to wood?
A: That’s not a lot of info to get a valid opinion, so I answered my hot line, and got you. You said the contractor may have used carpenter’s yellow glue and he tried to chip it off, and chipped only a few pieces. Such glue is water soluble, so try this: Wet the edges of the granite where it sits on the wood, and try to get water between granite and wood, and you can pry more of it off. If the wood is a countertop, get rid of both granite and wood and start all over.
Q: My sister-in-law is 96 and lives by herself, and has plenty of help. Her vanity overflowed twice, causing stains on the ceilings below, so her son removed the drain plug. She may drop something down the sink and cause more problems. Are there any alternative methods to this problem?
A: There are various alert alarms out there, for overflowing water, low temps, and other emergencies. Call an alarm company to see what they can offer.
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Q: I want to clean a hardwood floor that was put down in the early ‘60s, and was probably originally sealed with shellac or varnish. I’ve read that if a wood floor is unsealed, it should only be damp-mopped. I doubt there’s much seal left on this floor, and it is pretty dirty looking. Re-sanding is not a project I want to undertake. Are there any detergents or wood cleaners that you’d recommend or should I stick with a damp mop?
A: Hardwood floors that were sealed and finished in the ‘60s may still be washable, so I suggest you clean them with a wet Swiffer, which contains water and enough detergent to do a good job. If this doesn’t work, and areas of the floor look unfinished, you need to have the floors re-sanded and refinished with two or three coats of polyurethane varnish. If some of the sealer is gone in places, water will give the wood a dark, weathered look.
Q: I’d like to renovate my basement; no big deal, just paint the walls and maybe finish the ceiling. Any advice on painting poured concrete walls, and any way to smooth out the walls before painting?
A: Yes, there are minimum things you can do. First, use paint specifically made for concrete, which will stop seepage. Ask a clerk in a store that sells masonry supplies for the best brand for your type of wall. Don’t try to smooth out the walls; it’s not worth the effort. For the ceiling, put up spaced strapping (1 x 3s), then staple on ceiling tiles. If ceiling height is a problem, try what I did in the basement of my house in Connecticut: I nailed 1 x 1s ( 3/4-inch square strips of wood) along bottom of all joists to form a ledge, then dropped in strips of homemade Homasote ceiling sections. They looked good, stayed white, and took nothing from the ceiling height. For floors, a good but permanent fix is to put down big (12 by 12 inches) ceramic tiles with thin-set mortar, then cover with area rugs.