For 20 years I have owned Danish teak furniture.
I have followed the manufacturer's advice of oiling it with a mixture of two-thirds boiled linseed oil to one-third turpentine.
I have discontinued that in recent years as the surfaces have become dirty and oversaturated with oil.
For regular maintenance I have been using a light application of lemon oil or dusting with Endust.
I have not been satisfied with the feel or appearance of the wood. I have just read your recent suggestions for cleaning greasy, dirty wood with a solution of baking soda, vinegar and ammonia and water.
The mixture cleaned the surface wonderfully, but it left the wood looking splotchy, dull and dry.
What products do you recommend for regular maintenance and luster restoration for oiled woods? -- B.M.
The linseed oil finish you described is an old standard for oiled teak.
However, modern finishes have made the cleaning procedure obsolete. The process may have a few specialized uses, but for furniture it will often cause problems such as the ones you describe.
To correct this problem, I usually advise that the furniture pieces be taken outdoors where you can work on them safely.
Go over the surface thoroughly using fine steel wool and turpentine or paint thinner. Wear rubber gloves and really scrub the wood clean. Allow the furniture to dry for several days, then take one piece and, as a test, give it a coat of modern Danish oil finish.
Many manufacturers make a product of this type. It is like the linseed oil treatment because it penetrates deeply into the wood. Unlike linseed oil, it chemically hardens within a few days.
If your test piece seems dry in a day or two, go ahead and finish the rest of the furniture.
If not, there is still enough linseed oil in the wood to interfere with good drying. Clean all the furniture again, but this time use a "furniture refinisher" instead of turpentine.
For future care, never use a furniture polish that contains wax on your teak finish.
Many lemon oil products on the market are actually furniture waxes with lemon scents, but they are not pure lemon oil.
We recently purchased a home in which the fireplace had been painted.
It appears that several coats have been applied to the brick surface over the years. We would like to restore the brick to its original condition.
Can you recommend a procedure for paint removal and restoration of the brick? -- J.S.
There are chemical strippers on the market for the removal of paint. This is a messy, tedious job that will require lots of elbow grease and patience.
ProSoCo Inc. has a product on the market, Sure Klean Heavy-Duty Paint Stripper, that is a gel solvent-alkaline remover specially formulated to remove paint from masonry surfaces.
Intensive scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush will be necessary to remove the paint residue from the cracks and crevices.
Be sure to follow manufacturer's directions carefully, keep the room well ventilated and wear rubber gloves, goggles and face mask for protection. There are other brands of paint removers and your local paint or masonry dealer should be able to recommend a product.
For more information on Sure Klean contact ProSoCo Inc., P.O. Box 1578, Kansas City, Kan. 66117.
I have a problem with the aluminum siding on my house. It has turned brown under the front porch and eaves.
How do you clean this brown crust off the aluminum siding? -- K.G.
Try washing the siding with a solution of Arm & Hammer's super washing soda, mixing 1/2 cup per gallon of warm water. Use a stiff bristle bush and rinse with clean water.
If this fails to do the job, use a stronger solution of powdered alum mixed with trisodium phosphate (2 tablespoons of alum to 1 cup trisodium phosphate). Add just enough water to make a thin paste. Cover the stained areas with the paste and allow the area to dry. Remove with a stiff brush and rinse with plenty of clear water. Powdered alum can be bought at your local pharmacy.
Send inquiries 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.