Q Our den has two walls covered in old wallpaper. Having it removed professionally is too expensive for our budget. What's the best way to do it ourselves?
A Pick up a tool known as a paper tiger, says Helen Simpson of Wallpapers & More in Placentia.
This is available at most stores that sell wallpaper, and it consists of a series of sharp wheels that perforate the paper. Most wallpaper has a backing of paper and surface layer of vinyl. Using a perforator breaks through the surface layer, onto which you spray a removing solution, then scrape the wallpaper off with a plastic putty knife.
As an alternative, you can rent equipment that steams off the paper, but homeowners often get mixed results; many professionals use a perforator.
Q A friend gave me a clear, acrylic plastic coffee table, and I'm concerned about scratches. I know that I shouldn't use abrasives to clean it. What's the best way to remove dust and marks without hurting the finish?
A For general cleaning, use a damp sponge and warm, soapy water, says Dave Pfil of Orange County Industrial Plastics in Orange.
Many people make the mistake of using glass cleaners on plastic, or, when confronted with a stain on the plastic, they'll use the abrasive side of the sponge.
Most plastic and some hardware stores have products designed specifically for cleaning plastics. You can also find some solutions that will help restore a scratched acrylic surface.
Q My clothes dryer vents into one of my backyard planters. I'm constantly picking lint out of the flowers. I put a makeshift filter on the vent hole to block the lint--will this harm my dryer?
A It will depend on the filter material you use and how often you clean it, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove.
Ideally you want to use a piece of nylon hose or window screen, something that breathes easily. Make it easy to remove and clean.
Each time you clean the lint filter in the dryer, also clean the filter that attaches to the outside vent.
If you have a question about your home or garden, 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.