How To: Finding a custom lampshade, ascertaining and repairing water damage

August 17, 2011

Q. I purchased three mid-century modern lamps from eBay. I love the lamps, but all three need new lampshades. Where can we get similar shades for these lamps?

— Wheaton

A. Try Gaylord’s Lamps and Shades in Bethesda (301-986-9680; www.gaylordslampandshade.com). Mel Levinson, Gaylord’s president, said the price might range from $75 to $150 per shade, depending largely on how the shade is attached to the lamp. If the company needs to send out the shades, perhaps because the old frames aren’t reusable, you’d also need to pay freight charges.

You might also want to explore Fenchelshades.com, the online branch of Wisconsin Lighting in New Richmond, Wis. (715-246-2233). Just click on the round custom lamp shades button and follow the prompts to specify the top and bottom diameters and the height. These dimensions can each be any half-inch increment from three to 30 inches. A shade six inches in diameter (top and bottom) and 12 inches tall would cost about $33, including postage. You would also need to specify other details, including the type of fabric and trim and the style and placement of the “fitter” (the part that connects the shade to the lamp). The site includes sketches that show the different options. But clearly, one advantage of going to local companies is that you can bring your lamp and they can then figure out these details for you.


Gold gothic revival lamp. (Shades of Light/SHADES OF LIGHT)

Q. Yesterday, I discovered that water dripping from a window air conditioner in our 1919 bungalow had leaked down the glass. The oak window ledge now has black splotches, the plaster below the window is cracked and damp and one of the original oak floorboards has pulled out from the wall by about a half-inch for five or six feet. Also, the water apparently ran down within the wall, and a large puddle has formed on the basement floor underneath. I’ve turned on a dehumidifier and a large box fan, and I plan to call a professional plaster person once the wall is dry. What else should I do?

— Madison, Wis.

A. Once everything dries out, you may discover you have only a few cosmetic issues to address. Because your house was built when the trim and floorboards were all solid wood and when walls were coated with real plaster, not drywall, everything may shrink back into shape once the excess water is gone. Then you’d just have to deal with the stain on the windowsill, which you might be able to remove by applying a wood brightener containing oxalic acid.

However, if the drips went on for a long time before you noticed, there might be bigger problems to address. If the plaster is loose, you will need to remove those portions and patch the wall. If it’s just a small area or if there are only tiny cracks in plaster that’s still nicely stuck to the lath, you can probably do the repair yourself or get a painter to do it. Use a setting-type drywall patch material as the first coat and an easy-to-sand drywall compound for the final coat. Once you sand that smooth, brush primer paint onto the patches, then repaint the wall. (A good DIY guide, with pictures, is available at www.do-it-yourself-help.com/
repair_wall_water_damage.html
.)

If the floorboard doesn’t shrink back into position, a flooring company or a handyman can remove it and install a new one. To save the expense of completely refinishing the floor, ask to have the board stained and finished before it is installed. The match probably won’t be perfect, but you may find that it looks good enough, given the cost difference.

If you suspect the wall might have been wet for a long time and fear the framing might have begun to rot, get advice from a home inspector who uses a moisture meter. Home inspectors don’t typically do repair work, so they have no vested interest in overestimating what needs to be done.

Have a problem in your home? Send your questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist: Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home improvement tasks you should tackle in August, such as cleaning dryer vents.

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