Q. I recently installed an oak parquet floor that had a prewaxed finish. The instructions said not to apply any clear finish to the floor, wax only.
All I can find is paste wax for wood, which is a lot of work and it becomes extremely slippery. Are there any liquid waxes or other protectants I can use? -- F. S.
A. There are three basic types of wax for wood floors, each of which has certain advantages and drawbacks.
Buffable paste waxes, for example, produce a deep, durable luster. With occasional rebuffing, the shine will last for three or four months, sometimes longer. The drawback, of course, is that paste waxes require buffing. Unless you own an electric floor polisher, this means you have to get down on your hands and knees to buff the floor.
Buffable liquid waxes, the second type, perform much like a paste wax. They produce a pleasant gleam and can be touched up between waxing by buffing. As a liquid, they have the additional advantage of being easier to apply. On the negative side, liquid wax is not quite so durable as paste wax and still must be buffed by hand when an electric floor polisher is unavailable.
The third type of wax is a newer self-polishing cleaner-wax. Like buffable waxes, one-step products clean while they wax. They differ in that they are self-polishing, with no buffing required. This type of wax dries to a hard, velvety luster. However, they cannot be re-buffed between waxings.
Q. I live in a 71-year-old, one-story house. I am told that the fireplace and the chimney need relining. What are the various methods of correcting this problem? -- R. C. O.
A. Due to the age of the structure, I suggest that you thoroughly check several items.
Starting with the exterior of the chimney, check to see if some of the bricks are loose and how solid the mortar is between the bricks. You will need to repair any areas where the mortar is deteriorating and the bricks have loosened.
To remortar the joints, remove all loose mortar with a cold chisel or wire brush. Don't disturb any mortar that is solidly in place. Thoroughly wet down all areas that are to be patched. You can buy ready-mixed mortar that requires only the addition of water. Apply it to the joints with a trowel. The patched sections should be wetted down occasionally for several days if there is no rain during that period. This will prevent the mortar from drying out too quickly.
Your chimney should have a cap of stone or concrete, with the flue lining extending through the cap and projecting above it. This sheds water and thereby preserves the masonry below. Have one installed, or, if your chimney has one, be sure it is still in good condition.
To install a chimney lining will require the advice of a professional who can personally inspect your chimney installation. A number of firms are listed in the phone directory under the "fireplaces" heading. Many of them will inspect your chimney and provide free estimates. I suggest that you check with two or three and ask for references from previous customers.
Q. Do you have any formula for taking car battery acid from a concrete garage floor? It has left the floor all white. -- J. B. Z.
A. To remove the effects of battery leakage on a concrete driveway, wash the area thoroughly with cold water.
If this treatment is not sufficient, wash with a solution of one part muriatic acid to nine parts water. Be sure that you pour the acid into the water, not the other way around. Also, wear gloves and goggles for protection; this is a highly corrosive solution and care should be taken when using it. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Complete removal may be impossible if the stain is deeply imbedded in the concrete pores.
Q. Can laminated plastic be successfully painted, and with what kind of paint?
The laminated plastic in my kitchen is on the cabinets and counter where food is handled. The color is green, and I'm interested in covering it with white paint. -- P. G.
A. No paint will adhere satisfactorily to laminated plastic for any length of time because it is slick and nonporous. To change the color of the counters, a sheet of laminated plastic in any desired finish could be applied over the present surface, carefully following installation instructions available at dealers.
Q. Is there anything that I can put on mirrors in my bathroom to prevent them from steaming up whenever a shower or bath is taken? -- H. L.
A. Chemically treated antifog cloths, for use on automobile windshields and mirrors, are available at many housewares, hardware and auto accessories stores. Just rub the cloth on the mirrors. Installing an exhaust fan, vented to the outdoors, will quickly draw off the excessive vapor and moisture. Keeping a window open also helps.