QI recently had some plastic-laminate flooring installed and have been having trouble cleaning it. I have tried several floor cleaners, but they leave streaks. What am I doing wrong?
AEasy cleaning is one of the big selling points of plastic-laminate flooring such as Armstrong and Pergo. I suspect that you have been using regular floor cleaners, which are not appropriate for laminates. Manufacturers generally give specific instructions for maintenance, and these should be followed, but here is some general information.
For routine cleaning, use a vacuum with hard-floor attachment or use a dust mop. A damp mop or damp cotton cloth can also be used.
For heavier cleaning, some manufacturers offer special products, such as Armstrong's Laminate Floor Cleaner. Squirt some on the floor and mop; no rinsing is needed. Pergo recommends Pergo Spray Cleaner or, as an alternative, a mixture of vinegar and water (one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water) or an ammonia solution (a 1/2-cup of ammonia to one gallon of warm water).
Most spills can be wiped up with a cloth or sponge. Tough stains, such as tar, asphalt-driveway sealer and shoe polish can generally be removed with acetone (nail-polish remover). Alcohol can also be used to clean up some stains. Armstrong has a toll-free number (1-800-233-3823) for owners of its floors who are having stain problems.
Soap-type cleaners, detergents or abrasive cleaners should not be used on laminate floors. Waxes or polishes or cleaners containing them should not be used.
I want to redecorate my bathroom walls with a product that resembles ceramic tiles, but is easy to install. I'd prefer something that comes in large panels. Is anything like this available?
Several manufacturers make "tile board," panels with a surface that resembles ceramic tiles. One example is Lionite by Georgia-Pacific (1-800-284-5347 or go to www.gp.com). Lionite is available in 4-by-8-foot panels and is made in several colors. The panels have a water-resistant, melamine finish. They must be fastened to the walls with adhesive (no nailing). Plastic moldings are typically used to conceal the edges at panel seams.
Lionite is excellent for use in bathrooms, but if used in a tub-shower enclosure, it must be carefully sealed to keep water from getting behind the panels. Complete installation instructions can be downloaded at the Georgia-Pacific Web site.
I have 11-year-old toilets with 3.5-gallon flush in my house and have been experiencing clogging problems. I often have to use a plumber's snake to unclog them. I've been thinking of getting new 1.6-gallon toilets with mechanical flush assist. What do you think?
Your 3.5-gallon toilets are relatively new, and if they are in good condition, I would want to keep them. In any case, switching to 1.6-gallon toilets with flush assistance might not solve your problem. Since you are having problems with more than one toilet, I suspect that the clog is not in the toilets but deeper in the drain-waste system. I think you should have a plumber check the problem and possibly clean out the drain-waste lines with heavy-duty equipment.
Readers' questions and comments are welcome and should be sent to Gene Austin, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Box 861, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to austfixit2aol.com. Questions cannot be answered personally.