Q: My birdbath, made with marble chips, broke in half when it was accidently dropped. The cement is about 1 1/2 inches thick. Do you know any adhesive strong enough to repair this?
A: If the break was clean you should be able to repair it with epoxy cement. It comes in two parts, and is clear or colored. Mix according to directions and tie the parts together or secure them in such a way that they will line up properly while the adhesive hardens. Press the parts together firmly after coating with the mixed adhesive, but don't squeeze all the adhesive out. Wipe off excess before it hardens.
Q: Our concrete front porch, carport and patio have been painted several times. Now the paint is chipping and peeling. I have tried paint remover and scraping with a razor blade, but the paint won't come off -- at least not all of it. The top coat seems to come off with the remover, but the base coat seems to have penetrated the concrete and won't come off. We don't want to repaint after the old painted is removed. Do you have any suggestions?
A: You may not have used the right remover, or you may have used it incorrectly. For this kind of job you should use a semi-paste, water-wash type, and plenty of it. The remover must be applied in thick layers (like icing on a cake), then allowed to soak until the paint is soft all the way through. Since scraping rough concrete is tough with the usual tools, the best method is to scrub the softened residue away with a stiff brush that has been dipped into detergent solution. It will be messy, but most of the paint should come off in one scrubbing. Concrete is very porous, so some of the first coat may have soaked into the pores and the color may be noticeable in some areas, even after all the surface coating is off.
Q: What is the best way to remove paint stains from cement floors and flagstone walks?
A: Usually with a thick, semipaste paint remover. For this kind of job I prefer the water-wash type. Apply the remover in a thick layer over the spots, then allow to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Mop up with a cloth, then immediately scrub with detergent and water, but try to limit the area of scrubbing so you don't spread the stain. Usually two or three applications will be needed.