Q: The former owner of our house applied a glass paint over the old wallpaper, and all the lumps show. I want to put up new paper, but the paint is so hard I can't penetrate through it to remove it. Do you know how I can get this paper off?
A: The easiest way to remove old wallpaper is with a steaming machine, which you can rent from any paint store or tool rental agency. However, the steam won't penetrate the kind of gloss paint you describe to loosen the paper underneath unless you help it get through. To do this, buy the corasest floor sanding paper you can get from your paint dealer, then use of piece of this to scratch up the surface of the painted paper as much as possible. When you hold the steamer's plate against the wall, the steam will then work its way through the scratches where it can soak into the back of the paper -- loosening it sufficiently to permit you to scrape it off with a stiff putty knife.
Q: I want to install wall-to-wall carpeting over my squeaky wood floors. Will a layer of hardboard or plywood under the carpet help to eliminate the squeaks, and if so, how should this be installed?
A: Putting an underlayment of hardboard or plywood on top of your flooring may stop the squeaks, but it may not. The answer depends on how severe the condition that caused the squeaks is, and on just which part of the flooring is the source -- the finished flooring on top or the subflooring under it. Squeaks are caused by loose boards which move up and down when people step on them, causing their edges to rub against each other. If this is happening in the finished flooring, chances are that the underlayment will stop most, if not all of the squeaks. If, on the other hand, the boards underneath (the subflooring) are causing the problem, the underlayment may not solve your problem. If underlayment is put down, it should be nailed every six to eight inches, across the center as well as around the edges, using ringed or coated nails made for this purpose.
Q: My house has hot-air heat and the ducts used for this are also used for the central air-conditioning system in the summer. I feel we lose a lot of heat from these ducts where they pass through our very large basement, so I would like to insulate them if possible. If I wrap them with fiber glass batts and then strap these on, will this create a condensation problem when the air conditioning is turned on?
A: Not if you use fiber glass blankets with an aluminum foil facing on one side. Wrap these around the ducts with the aluminum foil facing outward -- away from the metal.