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INSIDE & OUT : Floor Tiles Resist Stains, Even If You Want Them

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q We recently moved into a house that has ceramic floor tile in the kitchen. The tile is light pink and seems to show every crumb that’s dropped on it. Is there a way to stain the floor a darker color?

E.H.

Los Alamitos

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A Unfortunately, there isn’t, says Tere Corrigan of In Tile Designs in Anaheim. Unless you’re dealing with a porous, paver tile, most ceramic tiles are glazed and finished to prevent stains from affecting them. People have tried to stain tile then put a sealer over it, but that kind of treatment doesn’t last. You could use some kind of throw rugs on the floor to darken the surface, or you may just have to re-tile with a darker color.

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Q Several years ago I purchased a pair of pewter plates that have an etched design. I decided to try and polish them recently since the silvery sheen was fading and used a polish recommended for pewter. I tried the product on one plate, and it turned black. The manufacturer of the polish said to continue using the polish and the black would disappear, but I’m concerned. Could I be damaging the plate by polishing it?

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E.N.

Laguna Hills

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A If you haven’t done it already, check to make sure if you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, says metal worker Ed Gomez of Santa Ana. You could try taking a little dab of the polish to an inconspicuous part of the plate back and working it in to see if you get a result.

If it doesn’t work, you may need to take the plate to a silversmith. Metal polishing can be very time-consuming, and it takes a lot of elbow grease. A professional will be able to evaluate any kind of damage for you and give you an idea on what needs to be done to restore the plate.

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Q Our 2-year-old concrete driveway has numerous stains caused by our car tires. I’ve tried grease removers to get them out, to no avail. Any other ideas?

M.G.

La Mirada

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A You may want to use a solution of TSP and water with a scrub brush, says Gary Lillge of Crown Hardware in Corona del Mar. If that fails, there’s another cleaning product, CLR, which is available at most hardware stores that is generally effective at cleaning stains off of concrete. If this doesn’t work, a solution of muriatic acid and water should remove the stains. Mix a one-part acid to three-parts water solution and wear rubber gloves and protective eye wear.

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Q I use an old-fashioned push mower to cut my lawns. The problem I have is that the blades are easily blunted. How do I keep them sharp?

R.T.

Anaheim

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A Of course, you can use the common knife sharpening files and stones that are found in most hardware stores, says Frank Eckert of Arrow Hardware in Orange. These can keep the blades clean and relatively sharp, but in my experience they do dull quickly. It may be worth the trouble to take it to a nursery or a lawn mower shop and have the blades professionally sharpened. The rotating blades as well as the fixed blade at the bottom of the mower need to be sharpened, and the fixed blade also has to be adjusted in order to give the mower more efficiency.

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Q I’ve heard that one of the areas where a house is poorly insulated is the point where the floor connects to the wall. Before we have our new carpeting installed, would it be a good idea to tear up the old carpet and apply a caulk along the floor by the wall?

R.O.

Santa Ana

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A In most cases, you’re not losing that much insulation along the floor, says contractor Jay Edwards of Huntington Beach. The carpeting and padding, which is rolled up the wall, are actually sealing that area for you. However, if there are substantial gaps, which you may be able to see if there are dark stains in the old carpet near the walls, you may want to apply some silicone caulk to those areas before the new carpeting is installed.

If you have a question about your home or garden, A Helping Hand will help you find the answer. Send questions to: John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.


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