Q. We have a ceramic tile floor in our bathroom, and, over the years, the grout has become stained. I've heard of a grout colorant that works as a dye, changing the color of grout. How does it work, and how easy is it to apply?
S.B. Yorba Linda
A. Colorant works like a paint; it has a sealer mixed in it, and it's useful for people who want to bring their grout back to its original color, says Richard Sneyd of Tileville in Garden Grove. It's applied with a brush or cloth for grout between glazed ceramic tiles. Once it's dried, scrape off the excess colorant from the tiles with a scouring pad. Before using a colorant, try cleaning the grout with a stiff brush and a solution of bleach and water. You may find that this will clean the grout enough so that you won't need to use colorant.
Q I've seen professionals clean mini-blinds with high-pressure water sprays. Can't I just do that with a spray nozzle on my garden hose?
T.O., Fountain Valley
A. Professionals have the equipment and the know-how to not damage mini-blinds, says Marina Andrade of 3-Day Blinds in Buena Park. It doesn't take much to take the paint off of them. You'll want to use a mini-blind cleaner that's made of a non-abrasive solution. Stay away from glass cleaners, which often contain ammonia. You can do an effective cleaning job just by spraying the cleaner on the closed blinds and wiping them off with a soft cloth or sponge.
Q. We have a 2-year-old, urethane-finished wood floor in our den that has some surface scratches. Can we just apply another coat of urethane to the surface, or is there some other product we can use to restore it?
N.B., Lake Forest
A. There are some repair kits you can use to repair minor scratching, says Joel Spencer of DLK Flooring in Orange. If there are too many scratches to use the repair kit on, you may have to strip and refinish the floor.
The problem with applying a new coat of urethane is that, if you've got lots of scratches, the new layer of urethane will just peel off. If you're concerned about scratches, make sure that when it is refinished it's completed with a low-luster urethane finish. This will help hide scratches that are more visible with high-luster finishes.
Q. We have some fairly new, sliding, mirrored wardrobe doors on one of our closets. In one bottom corner, a small bit of the mirror is broken. Can it be fixed so that the broken piece doesn't fall off?
H.H., Seal Beach
A. You can glue the piece into place; that's probably the easiest solution, says Bob Griffith of B & D Glass in Fullerton. You could also use one of the small pieces of mirrored adhesive trim that's available in glass shops. You place it along the edge of the doors, which would keep the broken piece from sticking out. Make sure the crack isn't extending into other parts of the mirror. If it is spreading, you can cut a circle around the crack with a glass cutter to keep it from destroying the mirror.
Q. We plan to take out the concrete walkway in front of our house and replace it with brick. If we do that, does the brick have to be sealed? I'm worried that sealing will make the surface slick when it's wet.
A. Brick doesn't have to be sealed, says Ken Newland of Tustin Block. You can use a penetrating sealer that won't create a slick surface if you choose. Sealing will help it maintain its color longer and help it last. Instead of tearing out your concrete walkway, you may want to use paving bricks that are about 1 1/2-inch thick and can be applied onto your walkway with a thin-set mortar.