Q: We have purchased a summer place that has a small attic we would like to convert to a sleeping loft. We planned to insulate the ceiling to keep it cooler in summer, and then put up paneling. We have been told that if an atic is not heated it is not a good idea to insualate the ceiling. Is this true, and if so, can we put up paneling and then use an air conditioner up there?
A: Insulation is just as effective in keeping heat out in the summer as it is in keeping heat out in the summer as it is in keeping heat in during the winter. There is no harm in insulating the attic if the house is not heated; it will make the attic a lot cooler in the summer. If you decide to install air conditioning, the cost of running it will be greatly reduced.
Q:We have textured walls that are stippled. It is not a very heavy stipple, but it is too much for wallpaper, and we would now like to hang wallpaper over these walls. Is there a way to smooth these walls without sanding them down?
A: It depends on how heavy the existing stipple actually is. If it is a really mild stipple, sometimes merely lining the walls with paper lining or canvas lining will do the trick. You then hang the new wallpaper over this. It might pay to try a small section to see how this works. If it is not satisfactory you will have to sand the walls to get them smooth. However, this may not be as bad as it seems; rent a belt sander and the work will go quickly.
Q: We have just bought a house that has wood paneling in the dining room and living room. I don't know what kind of wood it with soap and water. I was told not to use water on wood paneling, but what ovher method can I use to clean it?
A. As a rule, for day-to-day maintenance it is not a good idea to wash wood paneis with water. However, when they are very dirty and need an infrequent but thorough cleaning there is usually no harm in giving them a good scrubbing. Most finishes will not be damaged by this, but you will have to test a small inconspicuous section, because we don't know what kind of finish is on the wood. I recommend a mild detergent with cool or warm water (not hot). Scrub a few boards at a time with a sponge, and then sponge off immediately with clean water. Work from the bottom up, and don't use more water than you have to.