QI recently removed an outdoor carpet from my concrete front porch. It had been glued down, and I am having a terrible time removing the adhesive residue.
I have tried several solvents and adhesive removers, which didn't work well. Using a razor-blade scraper is tedious. Is there a better way? -- S. Steinberg
AI have heard many horror stories about the difficulties of removing outdoor carpet adhesive, which is extremely durable so it holds up under outdoor weather conditions.
You should be able to remove the bulk of the residue with a scraper fashioned from a flat steel shovel. Sharpen the front edge with a file. Stand up and whack away at the residue. With the shovel, you can exert a lot of force that should loosen the adhesive. When you have removed as much adhesive as possible by scraping, you are ready to try the following finishing touches.
A reader wrote me that he was able to remove the adhesive using a pressure washer generating 2,300 pounds per square inch. Lower pressures did not work.
Another reader said he successfully used gel-type Strypeeze paint remover to soften the adhesive. Strypeeze, made by Savogran (800-225-9872 or www.savogran.com) is sold at some home centers and hardware stores. The reader scraped up softened residue and used a wire brush and coarse steel wool (with more paint remover) to clean crevices.
Acetone, often used for fingernail-polish remover, is also said to soften the adhesive. It is sold at some paint stores.
When using any solvent, be sure to read the cautions and instructions carefully. Some solvents are highly flammable or pose other dangers if used improperly.
Every winter I have water buildup at the bottom of my windows. The windows are new and I weatherstripped the bottom to prevent drafts, but still I get the water. -- S. Izhar
Condensation of water vapor on windows is a common problem in some homes in cold weather. The usual causes are windows that are poorly insulated, which lets the glass get cold enough to cause condensation, and excessive relative humidity indoors. Because you have new, weatherstripped windows, I would suspect excessive humidity. It is likely that a high volume of water vapor in the air of your home causes condensation even though the windows are tight and energy-efficient.
You can check the relative humidity with a hygrometer, also called a humidistat or moisture meter. A serviceable hygrometer can be bought for about $20 at home centers. Limiting your relative humidity to 30 to 50 percent is considered most healthful and should reduce or stop the condensation.
To reduce humidity, use exhaust fans in moisture-prone areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Make sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outside. If you are using a humidifier, turn it off. If you find the humidity in your home is not too high, you should complain to the supplier of the windows; it is possible they are of poor quality or were not installed properly.
I want to paint my concrete porch, which has never been painted. What preparation and type of paint would be needed? Will the porch be slippery? -- R. Jones
You should buy a special porch, floor and deck enamel, which is designed to hold up to the hard wear of foot traffic. When preparing the surface, follow the directions on the container for painting concrete. In general, you will probably be told to clean the surface and etch it with an acid solution, which makes it more porous. You can ensure a non-slip surface by mixing some anti-skid grit with the paint. All the needed supplies are sold at home centers and paint stores.
I have oak wood cabinets with a finish that I have tried to clean with well-known furniture cleaners. The cleaners removed the dirt but also removed the finish. Can you recommend a cleaner that will work? -- M. McDaniel
The cleaners you used should not harm a finish that is suitable for kitchen cabinets. Unless you will be satisfied with simply dusting the cabinets, I suggest you strip the old finish completely and refinish with a durable finish such as polyurethane. If the finish is as soft as it appears to be, stripping should not be that difficult.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to email@example.com. Questions cannot be answered personally.