Q. I recently installed vinyl-coated wallpaper in my kitchen. The wallpaper is perfect, except for one minor problem I have not been able to solve.
The area behind the stove ended up with grease splashes. All of the cleaners I have tried for spot removal also remove the color from the wallpaper.
I have plenty of extra wallpaper to redo this area. Is there any kind of coating I can apply to the paper so grease and food splashes will come off? -- N.S.G.
A. Your best bet is to cover the wallpaper with a sheet of acrylic plastic. Such a panel can be custom cut and is available from a plastics supplier.
Shellac and clear varnish are not recommended because they will damage the wallpaper. Scotchgard is effective until you wash the surface, so it would have to be reapplied after each time you wash.
The next time you buy wallpaper for bath or kitchen, be sure it is solid vinyl that is washable.
Q. I recently purchased a condominium that needs some redecorating. The master bedroom has an 8-foot by 12-foot wall covered with foot-square mirror tiles. Half are designed squares and the other half are smoky gray.
I would like to remove these squares. Could I tackle this job and how do I go about it? -- A.N.
A. An excellent method for removing the mirror tiles is to use ordinary monofilament fishing line rated at 30 pounds to 50 pounds.
Slip the line behind the mirror squares and pull it like a saw in both directions. This will cut through the mastic without damage to the wall or tile.
If the tiles do not give way with this method, try using a long, thin, steel spatula behind the tile and with a sliding action, separate the adhesive backing tape from the wall.
This method is recommended for tiles six inches square or less, which are usually made with a two-faced tape adhesive backing.
Larger-size tiles, which tend to cause significant wall damage when removed, are best dealt with by taking a towel-wrapped hammer and breaking each tile with one or two strong taps. Then peel off the broken pieces.
When attempting to remove mirrored tiles, wear both heavy gloves and eye goggles for protection.
Remove any remaining adhesive that sticks to the wall with the proper solvent, depending on the composition of the adhesive backing on the mirror tiles. Often your local paint dealer will help you test for the proper solvent if you can take a sample in with you.
Q. I have a boat, my second home, that has an automobile-type headliner in the ceiling. The former owner was a smoker and the headliner is darkened from the smoke. Please tell me what type of cleaner to use. -- T.H.
A. Usually some type of vinyl fabric is used for headliners on boats. Marine stores carry special products for use on vinyl.
I have found that household cleaners such as 409 or Simple Green do an excellent job in cleaning this type of headliner. Test in an inconspicuous area first.
You may have to repeat the cleaning process several times before you can remove all of the residue that has built up over the years.
Spray the cleaner on the headliner and wipe with a damp sponge to remove all dirt and any of the remaining cleaner. Then go over the area again with a clean wet sponge and dry with a soft cloth.
Another suggestion was offered by one of our readers, who recommended rubbing alcohol as an effective agent for removing smoke stains.
Simply soak a rag in rubbing alcohol and wipe the smoke stains off. Experiment in an inconspicuous area before treating the entire ceiling.
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.