Q: I have noticed water spots on top of my dresser (from combing wet hair over the surface). I have used a liquid furniture polish on this for years, but the polish has not removed these spots. Is there any method that will? A: Sometimes you can remove these water marks by placing a clean white blotter over the stain, and pressing with a warm iron. Another method is rubbing the stain with a paste mixture of oil and cold cigarette ashes or jewelers rouge.
Q: I have a large screened-in porch with a concrete floor. When it rains in, water accumulated in puddles in several places. Can you tell me how to fix the low spots so the water drains off? A: Shallow spots in a concrete floor can be filled in with vinyl or epoxy cement patching material. These are special patching cements that will adhere in thin layers and can be "feathered out" so the patch blends in. Some skillful work with a trowel is called for to do a good job. It also requires careful cleaning and roughing up of the old surface. Unless you have had some practice troweling cement and masonry, the job calls for professional help.
Q: We have been careless in taking care of our aluminum storm door and it has become quite corroded. We do not know how to clean it so we can paint it. Can you suggest how to do the job? A: start by scrubbing the door thoroughly with a strong detergent and a stiff brush. If the door is quite pitted and feels rough at the surface, use a soap-impregnated steel wool pad (the kind sold for scrubbing kitchen pots), instead of a brush and detergent. This will help smooth the surface and clean it as well. Next rinse thoroughly with a hose, making sure you get all the soap or detergent off, especially in the crevices and joints. Allow to dry completely, then apply a first coat of metal primer suitable for use over aluminum. After this you can finish with any outdoor enamel or paint in the color of your choice.
Q: I recently moved into a house with cedar shingles that have been painted white many times. Is there any way to get back to the orginal cedar by sandblasting or other method you know of? A: Sandblasting is possible, but aside from the expense I think it would do more harm to the shingles and surrounding trim than the effort would be worth. There are services in many areas that will remove paint chemically, using a solvent and a high-pressure wash to do the job. These are expensive, but they get all the paint off the shingles (and the trim in most cases). The heavy-bodied "shingle stains" that will cover paint are actually low-luster opaque paints rather then true wood stains, but they may very well give the effect you desire if you can find the color you like.