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Around the House: Give old, dark cabinets a fresh look | Lifestyle

Dear Ken: My house was built in 1969, and the kitchen cabinets are dark and very dated. I want to know if I should paint or stain them. — Ethan

Answer: You probably have that old dark, walnut-stained finish that was popular back then. Painting them will make the house seem younger than its actual age, and will make the kitchen brighter, warmer and more inviting.

Here are the steps: Remove the doors so each one can be laid on a sawhorse. Degloss them with some fine sandpaper (say 120 grit), than apply a couple of coats of a good primer, like Bullseye 1-2-3.

If there is a secret to this, it’s in the application of the final topcoat. Use a highquality brush, dip it halfway into the paint and apply strokes in one direction only. Apply at least two coats of a good semi- or high-gloss paint, your choice.

Of course, if you have the expertise and the equipment, applying the paint with a spray gun will give you even better results.

Dear Ken: My fiberglass tub squeaks and pops when you stand in it. It doesn’t leak, but I fear it might someday. What can I do? — Matt

Answer: The builder was supposed to spread some barely-wet mortar underneath as an additional support. If they didn’t, you could use a can of that insulating, expanding foam that will harden and support the underside of your tub against the floor. Of course you’ll need to do this from the underside. Cut a couple of holes in the plywood subfloor and inject the foam gradually. This stuff expands big-time, so you’ll need to leave the holes open overnight so you can cut off the excess material the next day. It may take two or three cans of the foam, but eventually the noise will go away.

Dear Ken: How can you tell where your property corners are? — Laurie

Answer: If you have an Improvement Location Certificate that might have come with your closing papers, you could use it and a ruler with an appropriate scale (say, 1 inch= 20 feet or whatever) to measure from the house to the property corners. Dig holes at those locations and you may find the metal post that were installed to comply with state law.

Otherwise, a surveyor can locate (or reinstall) the boundary pins for you; it will cost several hundred dollars—or more, depending on the age of your neighborhood. That’s because newer subdivisions have more availability of benchmarks to help with the restoration of your boundary markers.

Dear Ken: I have old metal siding — maybe aluminum? It has faded badly. Can it be repainted? — Lance

Answer: Sure. The secret here is the primer coat underneath the final paint layer. Visit a paint store to get a recommendation for just the right under coating. You’ll have to power wash first to get remove that powdery oxidation layer. Once you’ve applied a couple coats of the primer, any good exterior latex topcoat will cling just fine to your old siding.

Dear readers: A while ago on the radio show, we held a “Tip of the Week” contest, and I’d like to share a few of the more interesting and clever ones with you.

• If you don’t have a security system at home, try this idea from a listener, Leonard: Keep your car keys on the nightstand. If you hear something intrusive and scary during the night, push the little red EMERGENCY button on the car’s remote. The horn will blare, lights will flash, and if the intruder doesn’t faint first, surely he’ll skedaddle. Tell your neighbors about your plan, so they will know what’s going on.

• Daniel has a great idea to save money on expensive daily shower cleaners: Combine a teaspoon each of dishwashing powder and liquid rinse agent in a spray bottle filled with water. He was a little unsure of the proportions, so you’ll have to experiment a little, but he says it works just fine.

• Larry says he bought a handheld mixer at a garage sale and uses it to stir leftover paint. It’s much less messy and more effective than ordinary paint sticks.

• Patti wraps extension cords around leftover paper towel tubes—keeps them organized.

• Joyce uses a little dishwasher soap and water on her tile floors. She says it doesn’t streak or foam and requires little, if any, rinsing.

• Bob says that when he paints a room, sometimes it takes him more than one day. Without rinsing, simply cover the wet paint roller with plastic wrap or a bread wrapper, place it in the refrigerator, and it’s ready to go the next day.

• Phil had a woodpecker rat-tatting on the side of his house. I say had, because he now has what he swears is a foolproof remedy. When he’s gone during the day, he places a table model radio against the wall, and turns it to a talk station. Apparently the counter vibrations are too much for his feathered adversary, and so it moved on.

• Sharon likes an age-old drain cleaner recipe: Combine 1 cup of salt, one cup of baking soda and ¾ cup of white vinegar. Of course, it will foam and fizzle like crazy. Dump the mixture into the drain to be cleaned followed several minutes later with a few cups of boiling water.

If you have a tip you think should be included in a future compilation, please send it to me.

Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His call-in radio show airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit

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