Home & Garden

Handyman: Painting an unfinished basement and shooing woodpeckers

Q: We built space for our son in an unfinished basement. Is there any reason we shouldn’t paint the walls in this corner? If we can, what prep and product do you recommend? We have old latex paint. Should we use that?

Additionally, I would like to hang three heavy-framed pictures. We don’t want to drill into the wall for fear of cracking. I’m thinking of those old-style art-hanging mechanisms that hooked from high picture rails/coving. Not sure what they’re called or where to get them.

A: Paint all the walls inside with a cement-based paint, which will stop seepage. To hang the pictures, run picture wire from the frames to screw eyes screwed into the wooden ceiling joists.

Removing soap scum

Q: We had our bathtub taken out about 10 years ago and a shower stall installed. Everything went nice for a few years, and then we found out that they had mistakenly installed the rough side of the glass on the inside. Ugh! It got scummy.

I have tried everything to get rid of the buildup (bleach, vinegar, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, different glass cleaners, etc.), but nothing seems to clean it clearly; there are still streaks and scum.

How can I clean off the scum? Then I may be able to reverse the door and keep the clear smooth side clean on the inside.

A: There are dozens of commercial products, but the old reliables are one part commercial bleach and one part water, or good old paint thinner (make sure the area is well ventilated when using either one). Also, dip baking soda in water and RUB!

Birds of a feather

Q: We suffered significant damage from a woodpecker. Tried everything (including streamers and chimes) and nothing worked until we hung a decoy owl from a window. That did the trick.

A: Well, that’s one good thing about your dummy owl. It works.

Q: I painted one of my shingles the color of a red-breasted hawk and it completely solved my woodpecker problem. I got the idea from an old farmer. I hope this is of use to you.

A: It sure is. Thanks. How red is the red?

Hotton: photton@globe.com