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Home Improvement : How to Patch Narrow Cracks on Driveway

From Popular Mechanics

QUESTION: There’s a long, narrow crack running across my driveway. What’s the best way to patch the crack and keep it from getting worse?

ANSWER: There’s really no way you can keep the crack from getting worse. However, there are several ways to patch it. If the crack is 1/8-inch or less, fill it with a paste made from portland cement and potable water. Vinyl patching compounds are also suitable. Brush out loose particles and dirt. Soak the cracked area with water and cover it with plastic for at least 24 hours.

You can mix your own patching paste from one part portland cement, 2 1/2 parts sand and enough water to make a stiff paste. Vinyl patching compounds used for patching cracks are applied with a caulking gun. Lay the patching compound on the crack and press it in. Allow the material to set for about 15 minutes and then scrape off the excess.

Use Bleach to Identify, Remove Old Mildew

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Q: While washing down my house to prepare for painting, I found the dirt came off but the mildew didn’t. I know this will destroy the new paint soon. What should I do?

A: It’s often hard to distinguish mildew from ordinary dirt since both appear as dark stains. To test a spot, dab at it with a bleach-soaked rag. If it’s mildew it will fall off. The best all-purpose washing solution for paint preparation is made with 2/3-cup trisodium phosphate, 1/3-cup household detergent, one quart bleach and three quarts warm water.

Be particularly careful in choosing your detergent: those with ammonia can produce a toxic gas when combined with bleach.

Test Before Painting Over Wallpaper

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Q: The wallpaper in our home is peeling in some areas. I’d like to reglue the bad spots and simply repaint the room. Do you see anything wrong with that?

A: Painting over wallpaper is not recommended for several reasons: Paint solvents can loosen paper in areas that are now sound and cause dyes in wallpaper to bleed through paint. Also, wallpaper seams will show through paint.

The rule that it’s best to remove wallpaper before painting has two exceptions: when the plaster beneath is suspected to be in bad condition, and when wallpaper has been applied over dry wall. In these cases, resurfacing walls with 3/8-inch plasterboard provides the best simple solution.

If you ultimately decide to paint over wall covering, first paint a small area to see if colors bleed through or if the paper lifts. Apply alkyd or latex primer coat to wallpaper. Prime vinyl fabric wall coverings with alkyd and smooth vinyl coverings with printed designs with a latex primer.

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Pools Not Great for Investment Return

Q: We’re thinking of adding a swimming pool and wondering how good an idea it is from an investment point of view.

A: While new automatic maintenance equipment has eliminated some of the hassles in owning a pool, returns on this investment are notoriously low--30% to 35% in cooler climates. Meanwhile, the costs remain high, $19,500 on the average, with elaborate pools costing over $30,000. You might recoup more in warmer climates (65% to 80% in the Sun Belt) and in posh neighborhoods where a pool may be almost a necessity for resale.

For further information on any home problem, write to Popular Mechanics, Readers Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019.

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