Q: My house has a flat roof that is covered with roll roofing that has a heavy layer of gravel on top of the roofing material. Is there any kind of aluminum-asphalt or white coating that can be sprayed over this type of roof to prolong its life without damaging the roof?

A: The gravel protects the roll roofing against the drying effects of the sun. As a rule, as long as the gravel coating is intact, (it washes or runs off in time), there is no need for further maintenance. When it starts to wear off, sweep away what is loose and then use an aluminum-asphalt roof coating.

If you want to apply it to deflect the sun's heat, you can do so over the gravel, but it will be harder to spread and may cause problems as the gravel starts to wear off and pulls some of the coating with it.

Q: A tenant painted over all the red bricks on my fireplace and now I want to remove the paint and restore the original brick appearance. I have tried industrial paint removers but they did nothing. Does this mean I have to chip or sand all the paint off to expose the bricks?

A: Don't chip the paint off because that procedure will probably damage the bricks. Sanding is generally impractical unless you hire to sandblast. You should be able to get the paint off with paint remover. Try a semi-paste (preferably waterwash) type, and give it plenty of time to work. You may not have given enough time for the remover to work, or may not have used enough. Put it on as thick as you can, with a minimum of brushing in one direction only. Wait about 20 minutes, then scrub off the softened residue with a stiff-bristle brush dipped into detergent solution.

Q: My garage doors are made of wood, but the enter panels are made of masonite. I have been having trouble with paint peeling. How should I paint these doors so they will not peel.?

A: First, I would suggest getting all the old paint off -- or at least as much as you can. Then sand thoroughly and apply a good quality exterior primer to the entire door on both sides; (the inside must be sanded and painted as well as the outside). Follow with two coats of exterior finish. After the primer dries, check for open joints or cracks and fill these with caulking compound before you apply the finish coats.

Q: I recently repainted the outside of my house with two coats of a widely advertised brand of acrylic house paint. The paint was applied over vinyl-coated siding that had faded over the years, and when it dried it looked very nice. However, bird dirt won't wash off -- at least not entirely. The layer of droppings washes off, but a stain remains and won't come out. What kind of paint should I have used?

A: I am not familiar with the particular brand of exterior paint you mention, but most acrylic latex paints dry to a fairly flat or dull finish. This usually means they are fairly porous, thus stains will tend to soak in more than they would if you used a harder drying, more glassy finish. However, bird droppings will "eat into" many finishes if left on the surface for any length of time, so your best defense is prompt washing whenever practical.