Q: Our outside cement steps have been painted many times with a glossy paint; consequently, they become very slippery in wet and snowy weather. gOur painter can offer no remedy. Can you suggest anything?
A: There are two things you can do. The next time you paint the steps you can mix a powdered additive with the paint to create a nonskid surface. Many paint stores sell this additive, as do marine supply outlets. You can also try using a less slippery, dull-finish latex deck paint instead of a glossy oil paint next time. However, said the glossy finish before applying latex paint.
Q: I get so much condensation on my windows when it gets cold that I have to take a towell and wipe them off each morning. Also, the paint is off near the glass around all the windows. I have combination storm and screen windows that are wood, but I still get some condensation even when the inserts are in. My neighbors don't seem to have this trouble, but they have aluminum windows.
A: I doubt if the fact that your neighbors' windows are aluminum have anything to do with their having less of a problem. For one thing, each house is different, and it may be that in your house more moisture vapor is created (more cooking, washing or cleaning). Also, their storm windows may fit better than yours do. Loose-fitting storm windows will add to the problem by letting the inside glass get cold. I would check the fit of your storm windows and also take steps to ventilate the inside of your house more (by opening windows when cooking or bathing, or by use of exhaust fans in kitchens and laundry rooms, for example).
Q: How do I insulate the above-ground part of the basement walls in our house?
A: The usual method of applying insulation to that part of the basement walls that projects up above the ground is to first put up studs from floor to ceiling. Insulating batts of fiber glass can then be placed between these studs, after which some type of paneling -- gypsum board, plywood or hardboard -- is put over the surface to cover the insulation and provide some type of finished interior wall surface. You can also glue sheets of Styrofoam directly to the masonry walls with a masatic that the dealer will sell you, but then you must be sure to cover this with gypsum board, since the Styrofoam is inflammable.
Q: We had mildew growing on our bathroom ceiling, so I washed it with Clorox, then with Lysol and water. I rinsed with water, then when it was dry I painted it with a latex paint. However, the ceiling is now peeling badly. What should we do now?
A: Since you don't say what the ceil is made up, it is hard to say what caused the peeling before -- but there is obviously something there keeping the new paint from bonding properly. I know you say that you rinsed thoroughly after washing with various solutions, but I am inclined to think a residue left on the surface from one of the cleaning or disinfecting solutions you used to get rid of the mildew. Even a slight trace would interfere with a good bond. The only thing you can do now is scrape off as much of the peeling paint as possible, scrub again with a detergent and water solution, rinse, let dry completely, then add a good coat of primer and sealer before painting again.
Q: Our basement ceiling panels were discolored by water leaks from pipes above them. The leaks have been fixed, but the stains remain. Is there any way to remove or cover these stains without affecting the texture?
There is no reason you can't paint these panels. I would recommend a latex paint, and applying it with a roller. If you don't apply it too heavily, the texture will be scarcely affected.
Q: Can you tell me the best way to repair nail "pops" in my plasterboard walls and ceilings? I want to repair them permanently before I repaint so they will not come back.
A: First drive the old nails well below the surface, then drive new nails in about two inches away from the old ones, but into the same stud or beam. However, this time use annular threaded or "ringed" nails, since these hold much better and will not pop. Then fill all the holes with joint cement or spackling compound and you are ready for painting or repapering.