Q I'm planning to paint two rooms in my house, and I'd like to paint the electrical sockets in each room. When I've painted sockets before, they haven't turned out very well. What's the best way to do them?
A It's best not to paint them at all, says Tina Wachtel of Decratrend Paints in Anaheim. When you paint the sockets, you can get paint inside them, which can affect electrical connections.
To change the sockets to a color that accents the room, check with an electrical supply store to find options in outlet colors. Most are neutral whites and shades of beige.
Many people choose to paint the switch plates, which is easy. You might want to spray a primer on the slick plastic surface first to get the paint to adhere, then use your finish coat.
Q We have a 10-year-old concrete driveway, and when we water the lawn, puddles collect in some of the driveway's low spots, which tend to be discolored. What can we do to level these areas?
A You may want to create a mixture of 3 parts silica sand, 1 part regular cement and a little concrete glue, says Steve Sink of Angelus Quarries in Santa Ana.
Mix it up well, then spread and feather it in and let it dry. It probably won't create a perfect match with your current driveway, but it will create a more level surface that won't puddle.
Q I used to have a beautiful lawn of St. Augustine grass, but lately it has been invaded by Bermuda. Is there any way to get rid of the Bermuda and leave the St. Augustine intact?
A If the Bermuda infestation is minor, you can kill it with any of the spray weed killers available at garden shops, says Mario Ramirez of Loma Vista Nursery in Fullerton.
If the infestation is extensive, the only option is to tear out all of the grass and start over. It's best to keep up on proper fertilization and watering for your lawn to prevent infestations--and to check on its condition weekly, weeding out Bermuda or other unwanted grasses.
Q I'd like to put a new toilet in my bathroom, but the nuts and bolts holding the old one to the floor are rusted and locked solid. How can I get these loose?
A Try using a simple penetrating lubricant, says Ron Albright of Albright Plumbing & Heating Supply in Los Alamitos.
Spray it liberally around the nuts and allow it time to work its way in. You may want to take a wire brush and scrape away as much of the rust as you can before using a wrench to pull the nut off.
If you're not successful, you may have to break off the nut and bolt or cut it off. Once you get the toilet removed, these bolts are easily replaced and are included in many wax ring kits, which you'll need to fit the old toilet into place.
Q I have a small kitchen, and I'd like to try installing a ceramic tile floor. I'm a little concerned about how to cut the tile to fit around the corners. I don't want to invest in a lot of tools. Is there an inexpensive hand tool that will do the job?
A There are tile nippers, about $10, designed to cut off small bits of tile, says Gloria Richey of Tile Importers in Anaheim.
But you may be better off renting a tile cutter (about $20 a day). This is a tool that professionals use to cut tile to fit, and it gives you the best job. You may want to arrange the tile and find out which ones you need to cut, then rent the tile cutter.
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.