Do It Yourself

By Gene Austin
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Q: I have kitchen cabinets covered with plastic laminate, and they need to be refinished. Paint-store clerks said they can't be painted, but I came across two products that claim to do the job with little or no preparation. What do you think?

-- I. Anthony

A: Plastic laminate can be painted successfully. I'm not familiar with the products you named, so I can't comment on how they might work. However, I am always skeptical of paint products that suggest skipping careful preparation. This is how I would do the job:

Take off the doors and remove all hardware. Mark each door's location on the inside by writing on a piece of tape. Clean all surfaces with a kitchen degreaser or detergent, and then rinse with clear water. Let everything dry, and sand lightly with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots.

Apply a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3, a water-based primer sold at many home centers and paint stores. This will improve adhesion on the glossy laminate and will prevent stains from showing through the finish paint.

When the primer is dry, apply two coats of high-quality acrylic enamel in the color of your choice. I prefer a stain or semi-gloss finish. Let the paint dry thoroughly, and reinstall the doors and hardware.

Q: My house has two bedrooms in a shed dormer with a flat roof. There is no insulation in the roof, and the bedrooms are unbelievably cold. I plan to replace the roof membrane and would like to also install a radiant barrier to get more energy efficiency. Am I on the right track? -- E. Stowers

A: Your biggest concern should be to get some insulation into the roof. It should be possible to install insulation between the roof rafters and reduce what must be tremendous heat loss from the bedrooms in winter and excessive heat gain in summer. Radiant barriers are most worthwhile in warm climates. They reflect the sun's heat and make it easier to cool homes. The barriers are generally installed in attics.

If you still want a reflective barrier after you get the ceiling properly insulated and the new roof membrane installed, it should be possible to apply a reflective coating to the roof. This, along with the insulation, will reduce heat gain in the bedrooms on sunny days and make summer cooling easier. The reflective coating should also extend the life of your roof membrane. For more information, visit Click on Publications, then scroll down to Residential and click on Reflective Roof Coatings.

We painted our garage floor with epoxy paint, but it has peeled where car tires touch it. We tried to follow directions exactly but don't remember what brand of paint was used. How can we remove this paint, which looks terrible? -- B. McKinney

Epoxy paints are often very tough, but not all floor paints resist hot-tire pickup -- the reaction that might have caused your paint to peel. When painting vehicle-traffic areas, always choose a paint that states that it will resist hot-tire pickup. Directions must also be followed exactly, of course, including long waiting times (check the directions) before vehicles are used on the painted surface.

Because you don't know what paint was used, removal and a fresh start seems the best option. A few special paint removers claim to be able to strip epoxy, such as Jasco Premium Paint & Epoxy Remover.

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

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