Q. We inherited a lovely old bed and its very old, too-soft mattress. There are round pegs along the perimeter of the frame, which I’m told were designed for some sort of rope support that was used before the invention of box springs. Do you know where I might find a bigger-than-single-size, but smaller-than-full- size, mattress for this old bed frame? The old mattress is about 52 by 75 inches.


A. There are places to have mattresses made to custom sizes, but before you go to the expense of doing that, check whether you can go with a standard size.

If the old mattress fits, a new mattress that’s a full (or double) should work. The listed dimensions of this size vary, with widths ranging between 52 and 53 inches and lengths usually either 74 or 75 inches. The precise measurements of individual mattresses often vary by an inch or two.

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Or, if you are correct in saying you need something between a full and a single, you might need what’s known as a ¾-size mattress, typically 48 inches wide and 75 inches long. This is a standard size, although it might be a special-order item at a local mattress store.

Mattress Warehouse, a chain that has a store in Alexandria (703-212-9040; Sleep Happens), can special-order a ¾-size mattress and box spring for about $400 to $1,850, with delivery taking a week or two. The store also can arrange for truly custom-size mattresses, which cost about $200 extra per set. Delivery for those takes about six weeks.

You might also need to attach angle irons to the frame to support a box spring. Specialty hardware is available at Country Bed, although you can probably improvise with what you find at a hardware store.

If you decide to skip the box spring and go the authentic route, using rope or a combination of rope and canvas to support a mattress, you can find directions at the same Web site or at Colonial Sense. Country Bed’s site also sells a $50 device called a “straining wrench” or “bed key” that helps you take out slack in the rope.

Careless barbecuing ignited residue fat in the barbecue next to my house, and the smoke left a stain on the T1-11 siding. Any idea how I can remove this?

Ellicott City, Md.

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A phosphate-free TSP substitute cleaner should cut through the grease and soot. Some T1-11 siding consists of grooved plywood, while other products have an oriented-strand base topped by a thin finish layer. In either case, the top layer tends to be thin. So rather than risk damaging that with a power washer, use a scrub brush and a bucketful of the cleaner diluted in water according to what the label recommends. You need to keep TSP substitute out of your eyes and off your skin, just as with the original TSP formula. Rinse away residue with a hose. Let everything dry, then check it. If the wall looks good, you’re in luck.

More likely, you will still see stains or the finish will look thin. To fix that, you’ll need to apply a fresh coat of paint or solid-color stain. To mask remaining stains, apply a stain-blocking primer before you apply the new finish coat.

Because of the texture of T1-11 siding, professional painters often spray on the finish and then immediately go over the surface with a roller to even out the paint or stain and get it into all the nooks and crannies. If you don’t have spray gear, you can get a similar result by rolling on the finish and then going over it with a brush. The key is speed. Using a brush alone takes so long that paint in some areas is likely to dry before you get to the adjoining section, causing streaks.

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.