Question: In our son's bedroom, some of the small drywall nails have popped out. How do I re-secure them without damaging the wall?
Answer: "If they haven't been popped all of the way out, you can try hammering them back in with a finishing hammer, which has a smooth face," says Mark Bolton of Dickenson Lumber and Hardware in La Habra.
"Then you'll need a simple drywall patch or spackling compound to fill the dent created by the hammer. If the nail's been pulled out completely, you can use a new drywall nail and hammer it in about half an inch lower or higher. After the patch dries, smooth it out with light sandpaper and repaint the spot."
Q: I've inherited some old natural-fur paintbrushes in very good condition. I've got a couple of rooms I'd like to paint. Would it be OK to use these for the job or do newer brushes work better?
A: "You'll probably get a good paint job out of them, but you may damage the brushes," says Charlie K. of Tustin Paint Mart. "Natural-bristle brushes need more care than synthetic brushes. They tend to absorb water, which creates a problem when using water-based latex paints and makes them more difficult to clean without causing damage. If you're going to use them, save them for a project where you'll be painting with oil-based paint or with an oil-based varnish.
"Use paint thinner to clean them and dry them out thoroughly; don't let them soak in thinner overnight."
Q: Every autumn, my brother in Ohio goes around the outside of his house and caulks the door and window frames, because he says that improves the insulation. Is that a good idea to do here?
A: "It is probably a good idea. Even though our winters aren't as severe, that is a way heat escapes," says Claude Bradley of Canning's Brea Hardware. "When inspecting the interior of the house, look for gaps where drafts can enter. Make sure the glazing on the windows is intact, and around the window and door frames you can use an architectural silicone caulking that's paintable."
Q: We recently bought a home with large, sliding, mirrored closet doors. They work fine except for the fact that when looking at the mirrors at certain angles, it appears that they're "rippled." I assume they're defective, but does this also mean they're weak and could shatter easily?
A: "This is often seen in mirrors that are thin in large sheet sizes," says Dell Primrose of Diamond Glass in Santa Ana.
"Inexpensive mirrors are usually the ones where you see the most distortion. In bad cases, it can create a 'fun house' effect.
"The distortion doesn't create any structural problem with the mirror; it's basically because the surface of the mirror wasn't completely flat when it was made. If it really bothers you, you can look for a thicker mirror, which probably wouldn't have the distortion."
Q: Neighbors of mine seem to have so much success with planting vincas of different colors, but mine always shrivel and die within a few weeks. What am I doing wrong?
A: "Vincas are very hardy, but they need lots of sun and not a lot of water," says landscaper Bob Sweet of Fullerton.
"The most common problem I see with vincas is people assume that because they're in the sun a lot, they should heavily water them.
"I always check my garden daily, and I'll usually feel the ground around the vincas.
"If it's dry, I'll wait another day, then water them, and they seem to do fine. If cutting down on watering doesn't help, you may have a problem with your soil."