QHow can I get rid of oil stains on my concrete driveway, mostly from cars? -- Doug
AThere are many treatments for this, and I've tried a lot of them. I am still looking for the perfect solution -- a treatment that will remove the oil stains and leave the surface unblemished without requiring too much time or labor.
I've had some success with this treatment, which can also be used on asphalt driveways: Scrape up any grease or oil that is on the surface. Put some mineral spirits (paint thinner) in a spray bottle. Spray the stain until it is thoroughly wet, and then cover it with an absorbent material such as cat litter or sawdust. (It is best not to use clumping cat litter; if this stuff gets wet or is not thoroughly cleaned up, it can leave a stain of its own). Leave the material in place for several hours, and then sweep it up. A couple of applications might be necessary.
I have also removed small, relatively fresh stains with Fantastik Lemon Power. Saturate the stain and cover with a folded paper towel weighted down by a stone or brick. After a few hours, remove the cover and rinse with a hose.
Several people have told me they had good results by spreading a powdered detergent such as Tide on stains, moistening it with water, leaving it in place overnight and then rinsing it off. Others say they have removed stains with oven cleaner or Goo Gone, a multi-purpose stain remover.
There are also many special oil-grease cleaners on the market; they can be bought at most home centers, hardware stores and auto-parts stores. I have tried several of these without much success, but I am still looking.
The best advice I can give is to have vehicles checked immediately if they are dripping oil and use drip pans (sold at auto-parts stores) under leaking vehicles. Also, treat stains as soon as possible after they appear; the older the stain, the more difficult it will be to remove.
I want to put crown molding in a couple of rooms and wonder if there is any rule of thumb to guide me on selecting the size and style of the moldings. -- A. Mulvihill
I don't know of any rule of thumb for dressing up the wall-ceiling joint with molding; it is largely a matter of personal taste. I think ceiling height is an important factor when it comes to picking the size of the molding. For ceilings eight feet high or lower, I think narrow moldings (no wider than three inches) look best. Higher ceilings can handle wider moldings without appearing top-heavy. As for style, consider the overall style of the house. For an obvious example, Victorian moldings would certainly look out of place in a ranch-style house.
I have an older house with aluminum siding. The siding has become very dingy looking over the years. I would love to replace it but can't afford to. The other option would be to paint it, but I get different opinions on whether this can be done. What do you think? -- S. Thompson
Aluminum siding can definitely be painted. The paint on the old siding is probably badly chalked or oxidized, and the chalk will have to be removed before paint will adhere. This is usually best done by pressure washing. Once the siding is clean, it will probably require a primer to insure adhesion of the new paint. Some painters prefer an oil-based primer on a chalked surface, but a high-quality acrylic-latex paint can be used for the finish coats.
Our bathroom floor is finished with glass tiles that have a grainy texture. I have tried different cleaners but haven't been able to get them clean. Can you recommend a cleaner? -- Yosepha
You don't say what cleaners you have tried, so I suggest a ceramic-tile cleaner such as Tilex or Scrub Free, sold at many home centers and supermarkets. You might have to do some scrubbing to get the tiny grain lines clean. These are designed, of course, to make the floor more skid resistant. Test any new cleaner in an inconspicuous place to make sure it doesn't damage the surface. A washable bath mat will help keep the floor clean and reduce future problems.
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.