Q: Our dish cabinet doors do not close properly because of heavy accumulations of paint on the hinges. Can you tell me how to remove the dried paint from these hinges?
A. The only way to do this without damaging the paint on the doors, and the simplest way, is to take each of the hinges off completely. Place all of them in a pan or tray, then pour in enough liquid paint remover sold in paint stores) to cover most of them. Allow to soak for about 15 or 20 minutes, then use a small, stiff bristle brush to scrub off the loosened paint. Wear plastic gloves while doing this since the remover will irritate the skin. When finished, rinse the hinges in paint thinner. It's best to do this job outdoors, or in a well ventilated room since many removers are highly inflammable, and some have noxious fumes.
Q: I want to refinish wicker chairs and a wicker table that is over 30 years old. The pieces have a medium green paint on them now, and I want to refinish in white. Do I have to remove the old finish first, and what kind of paint should I use?
A: If the old paint is flaking or peeling, then it should be removed with paint remover. However, if the old paint is still sound, then there is no need to remove it. Since it is impractical to try to sand this type of surface. I would advise wiping down with a "liquid sandpaper" or deflossing liquid first (assuming you don't remove the old paint). If you do remove the old paint, skip this step, but apply a first coat of enamel undercoat. Then finish with a semi-gloss in either case.
Q: I have wood gutters around the outside of my house and there are several spots where water leaks through them in a heavy rain. It would be a shame to have to replace these gutters. Is there any way to treat or repair them to correct these leaks?
A: You can repair the leaky joints or sections by patching with roof cement and aluminum foil. Clean the surface on the inside thoroughly, then spread a layer of asphalt roof cement over the area. Press a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil over this, then spread another layer of the roof on top, carrying it past the edges of the foil so it is completely hidden. This should last for years. You can also use one of the fiberglass patching kits that are sold in hardware stores and lumber yards, but these require very careful cleaning of the wood beforehand. To help preserve the gutters, it helps to apply a coat of wood preservative to the inside at least once a year.
Q: I have a stucco house with cinder block walls. I can pour loose fill insulation down between the studs from the top, but there is no way I can also install a vapor barrier. Should I go ahead with the insulating job or am I apt to develop serious trouble from condensation?
A: I would go ahead with the insulation. There is a chance of condensation problems developing, but you can ward this off in two ways: (1) Try to keep relative humidity levels inside the house at no more than 30 per cent when it is freezing outside and windows are closed; and (2) apply either a vapor-resistant paint or a non-permeable wall covering to the insides of the insulated walls. These will serve as somewhat of a vapor barrier.
Questions about home repair should be addressed to Home Improvement Department, The New York Times, Times Square, New York, N.Y. 10036. Only those questions of general interests will be answered in this column.