Q: I have a painted gold leaf headboard that is tarnished and has turned green. I have tried to scrape the green off, but the gold leaf paint gets scraped off too. Do you know what I can use to remove the tarnish but keep the gold paint?
A: Gold paint is not gold leaf -- it is a paint that is made with a brass pigment to look like gold. It does tarnish, like brass does, and develops the greenish color you mention. You cannot remove this without removing the paint because the paint itself has changed color. Your only choice now is to sand the surface clean, then apply more gold paint. Some of the synthetic ones are much more tarnish-resistant than the old ones were.
Q: I live in a rowhouse and my next-door neighbor likes to play his stereo so loud that my house jumps. I have paneling on the wall now that I am going to replace. Can you suggest something that will tone down the noise?
A: Nothing will help much; acoustical paneling on his side of the wall would cut down on the sound transmission. The only thing that will really work well is to put up a second partition wall, an inch or two away from, and not in contact with, the original wall. Then fill the space between the two with acoustical insulation and make sure there are no openings through which sound waves can penetrate.
Q: I have a cedar closet that had real cedar wood installed on the walls and ceiling about 25 years ago. It has dried out and no longer has an aroma. I would like to give it a coat of cedar oil. Can you tell me if this oil is available, or if there is anything else I should do?
A: Years ago most paint stores and many department and hardware stores carried cedar oil, which was purported to do what you want -- renew the cedar aroma. But I haven't seen this on sale for some time and I'm not sure it is still marketed. I am also not sure you really need it. In most cases you can renew the cedar aroma by sanding the wood lightly but thoroughly, then using a vacuum to pick up the dust. The sanding will open the pores and allow the aroma to escape once more.
Q: Is there any way to close a partially-used can of oil paint so it doesn't dry out?
A: Nothing will keep the paint from drying out eventually, but you can do two things to make it last longer.
1. Pour the paint into a smaller container, preferably filling it. The less air in the can or jar, the less the paint will dry out. 2. Before replacing the lid pour a small amount of thinner down a stick so it floats over the paint. Then seal the can and put it away without shaking it.
Q. I have a wood table with a high gloss lacquer finish. It has white spots that were caused by hot water being spilled on the surface. Can you tell me how to remove these white spots?
A: First, try rubbing one spot with a finger that has been dipped into a small amount of salad oil. If the spot seems to lighten, continue rubbing over the whole stain. If this doesn't work, try one of the new toothpastes that have "special whiteners" added (these are actually very mild abrasives). Put a little of the paste on the spot and rub hard.
If this doesn't work, mix some oil with powdered rottenstone (sold in paint stores) to make a paste, fold a piece of cloth into a pad, apply the paste to the stain, and rub vigorously with the pad of cloth. When the stain is gone the surface will be dull, but the gloss can be restored with wax.