Q I am the owner of a house that I am currently renting. The exterior of the house is stucco that is pretty badly stained and needs painting. I have heard that one needs to use special paint for stucco. Could you please tell me if painting over the surface of stucco requires any special preparation and what types or brands of paint should be used? -- G. B. M.
A. Most types of latex exterior paints are excellent for use on stucco surfaces. These can be applied with a roller. Be sure to read the directions for each brand of paint thoroughly when you are making a selection.
Also, buy the appropriate roller for that brand of paint. Your paint dealer can be helpful in making this selection. Note that, when working in dry, hot weather, you may have to dampen the surface with water before applying the paint in order to keep the paint from drying out too fast.
Q Recently, you explained a compound that would go over a fiberglass patio top. I need to know what we can apply to an aluminum patio roof that is pitted with holes. When it rains, water comes through to the patio floor. -- A. L.
A If the damage is a pinhole leak, drive a roofing nail (use aluminum nails) with a neoprene washer into the hole. Then coat the nailhead with a dab of roofing cement. You can buy roofing nails with neoprene washers molded into the head of the nail. If the hole is larger, you will need to patch the area with the same type of metal as the roof. Do not mix metals.
Coat the damaged area and the back of the aluminum patch with a thin layer of asphalt roofing compound. Then press the patch in position over the damaged area. Nail the patch to the roofing with roofing nails spaced about one inch apart. Then coat the nailheads and the patch with a thin layer of roofing cement.
If this will make the patch unsightly from ground level, let the roofing cement dry for about a month. Then spray the patch with aluminum-colored metal paint. These are methods of patching and would work for several holes. However, if the entire roof is pitted and has numerous leaks, your only solution would be to replace the existing roofing.
Q My outdoor carpeting has worn down in several areas. How should I remove it to replace the carpet, or can I just carpet over it? I've talked to several home stores and no one has given me a satisfactory answer. -- K. M.
A I do not recommend that you carpet over the existing carpeting. You should be able to remove the current carpet layer, which I assume was glued in place. Try prying up at a corner. You may want to use a hair dryer to warm the adhesive that was used. This will make it easier to pull the carpeting loose. You also may have to use a chisel or a scraper to wedge between the carpet and the flooring so you can pry difficult areas loose.
Q We are plagued with silverfish, not exactly overrun, but we stumble on them quite often, mostly in the kitchen and bathroom. I would like to know what can be done to take care of silverfish, because they are good at munching. -- R. M.
A Boric acid is one method to control both roaches and silverfish. The boric-acid dust adheres to the legs of the pests when they walk through it. Later, they ingest the powder while they are preening themselves, and it kills them. Since boric acid is a poison, do not apply the substance in places accessible to children or pets or in close proximity to food preparation areas. Another effective deterrent is bay leaves. These can be placed in drawers, cabinets, boxes of cereal opened, flour, etc. Bay leaves are excellent for use in place of boric acid where food is prepared.
Q I have a problem with drawers sticking when we try to pull them out. Do you have any recommendations on what I might do to make them pull easier, or is this faulty construction of the drawers? -- L. W.
A The best solution for sticking drawers is to rub the drawer tracks with parafin (available at your local supermarket). Rub both the tracks and the bottom of the drawer that runs along the tracks. Even if the construction of the drawers is a single rather than double track, this will help the drawers glide easier. Questions about construction or care of the home may be addressed to Here's How, Copley News Service, P. O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif., 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.