Q. The brick on our house has been painted twice, and is now peeling. My husband wants to pout a layer of tarover the wall, then paint over this, in hopes that it will waterproof the wall. I am afraid that it will not look right. What do you think?

A: I do not recommend it. First, you can't paint over tar or asphalt. Second, if the paint is peeling, it will all come off together. Your best bet is to scrape off as much you can, then apply an outdoor masonry paint designed for this purpose.

Q: When we bought our house in 1948, we painted the entire inside with a well-known national brand. Ever since, we have had trouble making the paint stay on the walls, no matter how we repaint. Someone told us that during World War ii the house was painted with calcimine because that was the only thing available. They said we would always have this problem and the only solution was to use a blowtorch to burn off the old paint, and start over. oThis would be expensive and dangers. Is there any other solution?

A: Calcimine was used before and during the war, but usually on ceilings. It has often caused problems such as yours.

Scrape off all the peeling and flaking paint, and patch and spackle where necessary to create a smooth surface. Then prime the surface with alkyd-base primer sealer or with pigmented shellac-base primer. The wall should then hold paint in the normal way.

If the old paint starts to let go in the future, it will obviously take the new paint off with it. For this condition the only permanent solution is to take off all the old paint. NEVER use a torch. Aside from the fire hazard you would most likely crack and ruin the plaster and scorch the adjoining woodwork. Use chemical paintand varnish remover. It will cost more, but it is safer (use non-flammableindoors) and more effective.

Q: I paneled a room with cedar planks and wanted to retain the original light tan look at the original wood. Itried clear flat urethane varnish. I was assured this would not darken the wood. But the wood turned as dark as knotty pine that had been coated with spar varnish. I sanded all the finish off down to the bare wood, and now don'tknow what to use that will not darken it. Can you tell me what to use to seal it without losing the light tan look it now has?

A: Every clear finish has some darkening effect on wood, so don't expect any finish to leave it exactly the same shade as it was when sanded and still raw. But finishes do vary in the amount they will darken, so you can try various types and brands to see how theyreact. Lacquer, shellac, and some clear vinyl finishes will not darken wood as most varnishes will, but only testing will indicate how much.