QThere are a couple of cracks in the walls of my apartment that keep reappearing even after they are patched. Since the cracks seem permanent, is there some way I can cover the walls to conceal them? -- Joe
AYou might want to try a couple more crack-repair options before going to the trouble and expense of covering the walls.
Difficult cracks such as these can sometimes be patched more or less permanently with self-adhesive fiberglass tape. This tape has more flexibility than paper tape and doesn't require as much finishing work. Buy the widest tape you can find at a home center or building-supply outlet, and also buy some "setting type" drywall compound. This type of compound is mixed with water before use and is best for fiberglass tape. Cover the cracks with the tape, and then apply a coat of drywall compound over the tape. Let the compound dry thoroughly, then sand and apply a second, wider coat. After the second coat dries and is sanded, you should be able to refinish.
There are also some special crack-patching systems. One that is widely sold is Krack-kote, which consists of fiberglass fabric and a special patching compound. Check the Web site: www.tuffkoteco.com/krackkote.htm.
If you want to cover an entire wall to conceal cracks or an unattractive surface, there are a couple of options. One is prefinished plywood paneling, which is applied to a wall with adhesive and colored nails. Modern paneling comes in many attractive patterns, including wallpaper designs. The four-foot by eight-foot sheets can cover a wall quickly.
Another special covering system is Nu-Wal, a fiberglass-acrylic system. For more details, check the Web site www.spec-chem.com.
I have had flooding in my basement after heavy rain even though my rain gutters were cleaned twice a year. Later I had an underground drainage system installed in my back yard, but I still get flooding when there is a mixture of rain and snow. I recently installed covered gutters that are supposed to keep leaves out. Do you think this will solve my problem? -- E. Poulos
Rain gutters not only must be kept clean, but they also must carry rain water well away from the foundation. If your old gutters were kept clean and worked well, then I doubt that the covered gutters will do much better.
Basement flooding can be caused by problems other than clogged gutters. Some causes are poor grading that lets rain water and melting snow drain toward the foundation instead of flowing away from it; poorly sealed basement walls that let water enter through cracks or holes; and a high water table, that is, a high underground water level.
If the covered gutters are already in place, I would wait and see if the flooding still occurs. If it does, try other solutions. Consider regrading around the foundation, seal cracks and holes from the inside with hydraulic cement (a fast-drying, expanding cement) or consider installation of a French drain system (concealed perimeter drain pipes) with sump pump inside the basement.
Several rooms in our house have wallpaper that was painted over. It looks terrible. Is there any way we can fix this without ruining the drywall under the paper? -- Alan
It should be possible to strip the painted wallpaper without serious damage, especially if the drywall was properly primed before the paper was installed. For best results, use a wallpaper remover called DIF Gel, made by Zinsser (www.zinsser.com). Try stripping the paper in a small, inconspicuous area to see if you like the results.
Because the paper has been painted, the wallpaper remover will not penetrate readily to soften the paste. To improve penetration, use a tool called a Paper Tiger, which punches small holes in the wallpaper surface. You will probably also need a wallpaper scraping tool. All supplies needed are sold at many home centers and wallpaper stores.
If there is some damage to the drywall surface, you can repair it with pre-mixed drywall joint compound. Be sure to prime the entire wall before you paint or apply new wallpaper.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions cannot be answered personally.