A Barcelona-style (possibly faux) chair in need of repair. (Reader Photo)

Q I have two very old Barcelona-style chairs (I think they are faux, but I am not sure) that have been stored in my basement for 15 years. Someone gave them to me, and I have intended to refinish them for years but never had the time and felt completely daunted by the task. The stainless steel frames have rusted, and everything from the leather belts to the suede cushions needs to be replaced. I don’t really care if they are faux or real. I’d just like to know if it is worth it to get these repaired.

Who can refinish these chairs for me at a reasonable price?

Takoma Park

AHere are a few ideas. If you want to tackle the job yourself, you can buy replacement leather straps and cushions from barcelonachairfactory.com. The straps cost $90 a set, and cushions range from $160 to $350, depending on the covering. Options include leather and cowhide. The site also sells new stainless steel chair frames for $135.

But if you’re replacing every part,
you might as well just buy new chairs. Before you resort to that, read the stainless steel restoration advice from Everbrite, a company that makes various metal restoration products (www.everbritecoatings.com). If the stainless steel has a brushed finish, scrub off the rust as you’d scrub a pot, using a scrub pad and a cleanser that doesn’t contain bleach, such as Bon Ami. Scrub in the direction of the brush marks. Or, if the chair frames are polished stainless steel, use an acid cleaner followed by a neutralizer. In either case, finish with a clear coating, either sprayed or brushed on. Everbrite sells a kit with acid cleaner, neutralizer and the clear coat finish for $39 on its Web site. Hardware and paint stores sell clear finish.

If you want to hire someone, one
option is Rusty Walker at Walker Furniture Services (443-340-6565; www.walkerfurnitureservices.com). He is set up to restore chairs like these. Recovering the cushions would cost $112 per chair plus the upholstery material, or $165 if the foam needs to be replaced. Rust removal would be $85. The straps would cost around $220, but the final price would be determined by thickness and width. If the frames don’t come apart, he would need to attach the straps with rivets rather than stitching, as on the original. His company is based in Westminster, Md., but makes house calls in the Washington and Baltimore metro areas.

I like Boston ivy (not English ivy) on brick walls, especially on the south and west sides of my home. The leaves provide shade and shed rain in the summer and let in warming sun in the winter. But how do you keep the vines from growing behind and under downspouts and causing damage?


The only solution, short of removing the ivy, is to cut it back regularly. If you don’t feel comfortable up on a ladder, hire someone to clean the gutters and ask them to trim the ivy at the same time.
“I’ve been in the business 50 years,
and there is no magic solution that I’ve seen,” said Herb Spears, owner of
Action Sheet Metal (703-971-0135; www.actionsheetmetalcompany.com), a firm in Alexandria that installs and repairs gutters. Kent Baake at Metro Gutter and Home Services in Alexandria (703-354-4333; www.metrogutter.com) said pretty much the same thing.

Both companies are willing to trim ivy at the same time they clean or repair gutters. Spears said his company typically charges about $200 to $300 to clean gutters and trim ivy on a townhouse. Baake said Metro’s prices for gutter cleaning alone start at $95 for a townhouse and $125 for a detached house. There’s no extra charge for cutting back ivy if there is just a little of it. If there’s a lot, the fee could go up to a few hundred dollars.

Baake cautioned, though, that a homeowner needs to ask the gutter cleaner to trim the ivy. Otherwise, the company leaves it as-is, on the assumption the homeowner likes it that way.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in August, such as checking or replacing toilets, at washingtonpost.com/home.