Q. Our home has hardwood floors throughout. The kitchen has linoleum laid over the original flooring.
We would like to remove the linoleum and restore the hardwood floor.
Can you advise us how to remove the linoleum without damaging the flooring? -- L.J.
Q. This is a tedious and difficult task. Very likely, the linoleum is glued directly to the hardwood underneath.
A heat gun will help soften the adhesive as you work to remove the linoleum. Other methods of applying heat are using a hair blower or a medium-hot iron applied to the flooring over a cloth.
Begin by cutting the linoleum into 12-inch strips. Use a utility knife. Be careful to set the blade depth so that you don't cut into the surface of the wood beneath.
After heat application, pry up a corner of the linoleum and use a long-edged trowel to pry up the linoleum strips.
If your hardwood floor had open joints or crevices, it was probably leveled with a quick-setting, plasterlike compound before the linoleum was applied.
In this case, before lifting the strips, pound on the linoleum with a flat object to crumble the leveling compound and facilitate lifting.
Most likely, the linoleum will come up in small strips with portions of the felt backing left sticking to the adhesive that remains. After removal, you may have to use a solvent to remove the remaining adhesive, followed by sanding the floor.
A word of caution: If the linoleum covering has been on the floor for a long time, it would be best to have it checked by a professional for asbestos content in the felt backing.
If it does contain asbestos, your best bet will be to install a new plywood subfloor and a finished hardwood floor over the existing linoleum.
Removing the asbestos material has to be done professionally as it can be a dangerous health hazard. It is usually expensive and just as safe to encapsulate the material by installing a new floor over the old.
Q. We moved into a home with wood paneling in the family room. Where the previous owner had hung some pictures, there are now dark silhouettes.
Do you know of any method that would lighten these dark areas so they would match the rest of the paneling? -- R.C.
A. With time the areas will lighten as they are exposed to air and daylight. However, this can take from six months to a year, depending on the type of wood.
You might try cleaning the paneling with Murphy's Oil Soap or the following formula: Apply a mixture of a half-cup turpentine, three-fourths cup boiled linseed oil and one tablespoon of vinegar. Let stand for 15 minutes and then remove all cleaner and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
If the wood is teak, I recommend a regular teak cleaner rather than the formula. Pure lemon oil -- not a lemon oil wax -- is another excellent cleaner and conditioner.
To prevent this problem, lace some type of cushion on the back of the picture frame, which will hold the picture away from the wall and allow some air circulation. One-quarter-inch slices from a regular cork glued on the frame will do a good job.
From a reader: "Regarding your advice on cleaning ink stains, I have found that plain hair spray is an excellent remover. Simply spray it on the stain, rub with your fingers and blot the excess with a paper towel. It may require more than one application, but it usually works wonders."
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.