Do It Yourself

By Gene Austin
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Saturday, October 11, 2008

Q. I have a mint-green bathtub that dates to the late 1950s. There is a sizable chip in it and I have been unable to find any kind of patching material that is close to the color. Can you help? -- J. Cozzi

A. You should be able to get a reasonable match from KIT Industries, maker of Porc-a-Fix. This firm specializes in touch-up products for bathroom fixtures and appliances. Porc-a-Fix offers an array of colors, and there are a number of greens. If you know or can learn the manufacturer of the tub, it will help narrow the search for a match. A number of manufacturers had green fixtures. For example, Kohler offered at least six greens, including what the company called spruce green, fresh green, aspen green, evergreen, sea foam green and tea green. Your best bet is to contact Porc-a-Fix and discuss your problem; the company might suggest other ways of tracking down a color. Call 800-526-3186 or see the company's Web site,

If this is a deep chip, you will need two products -- putty to fill the chip, called Porc-a-Filler, and the Porc-a-Fix glaze to add the color.

Q. My house was built in 1977 and has blown-in insulation in the attic. I want to add more insulation on top of what is there. Do you recommend more blown-in insulation or can I use roll insulation? -- E. Willing

A. You can use either blown-in insulation such as cellulose, or blanket-type fiberglass that comes in rolls. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you use roll-type insulation, which is an excellent product for do-it-yourselfers, it should be the type with no vapor barrier. If you put a vapor barrier on top of existing insulation, it can trap moisture that will damage the insulation underneath.

Cellulose blown-in insulation is an excellent product with a slightly higher R value, a measure of an insulation's effectiveness, per inch than fiberglass, but it is tricky to install properly and it is generally best to have the work done by an experienced contractor. If you want to try it yourself, blowing equipment can be rented at some home centers.

Another thing to keep in mind, no matter what insulation is used, is not to block attic vents with insulation. These vents, which are often in the roof overhang or soffits, keep moisture from accumulating in the attic and possibly causing wood rot or other problems.

The amount of insulation needed in an attic varies with the climate, but it is good to try for at least R-30 no matter where you live. This is equivalent to about 10 inches of fiberglass.

Q. My house has siding of cedar boards, and I want to install insulated siding for better energy efficiency. Can I leave the old siding in place or should it be removed? --G. Kimball

A. New siding can be installed over old, but it is not always the best procedure. I assume you are planning to install insulated vinyl siding, and this should have a flat surface under it to avoid a wavy or rippled appearance in the vinyl. Also, adding another thickness of siding might extend it beyond the thickness of the window and door moldings, giving them a sunken appearance.

The advantages of leaving the old siding in place include savings on installation costs and debris removal. Also, the cedar will have a slight insulation value.

Pick an experienced contractor who is familiar with the effects of exterior insulation in your climate area. Wrapping a house with a tight outer shell of insulation can sometimes produce serious moisture problems in walls.

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.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company