Talk to wallpaper-removal professional for help taking down glued-on mirrors.
Q: I bought a house with a wall of mirrors I would like to remove. Any thoughts on how they might be attached and how difficult it would be to remove them?
A: They’re probably glued right to the wall, which means lots of work and damaged plaster or wallboard.
If the mirror tiles are held by adhesive foam-tape squares, frequently these can be softened and removed by heating with a hair dryer until pliable.
Or, you could use a solvent to take care of the glue and loosen the mirrors, sand the remaining adhesive off the wall, make any needed repairs, prime the walls as if they had new drywall, then paint. Introducing the often-dizzying odor of solvents may not be an option if you or members of your family are chemically sensitive and the area cannot be ventilated enough to prevent the indoor air quality from being compromised.
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You can steam the mirrors off the wall, loosening the adhesive as one would wallpaper paste, but the glue used for sticking mirrors to a wall is different from paste.
This is not a task I’d take on myself. Talk with a wallpaper-removal professional, who probably deals with this sort of thing all the time.
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A reader offers advice on cleaning an acrylic shower of soap scum:
A couple of years ago he had a custom-fit Corian shower with clear-glass doors installed. The reader searched the Internet extensively for ways to control the soap scum on the clear glass. Previous shower doors were patterned, mottled glass, and the scum was there but didn’t show as much.
His answer for removal of soap scum: Bounce dryer sheets.
Wet the walls and glass, wet but do not soak the dryer sheet. Wipe down the walls (process thickens the water) and rinse. Two sheets get the shower done. The glass sparkles; this method is inexpensive and involves no heavy chemicals, no abrasives, and no scratching. It also counteracts mold, but not as well as plain old bleach.
He uses this procedure every two to three weeks, concentrating on the areas that are most prone to scum buildup. He once tried a generic brand of sheets but found they did not work as well as Bounce.
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Wait until spring to make use of this advice from Debbie Zimmer of the Paint Quality Institute on ways an exterior paint job can be messed up:
Failing to smooth rough edges on old paint. Good surface preparation is vital when doing any kind of painting. After scraping away loose, flaking, or peeling paint, the old paint that remains will probably have rough edges. If these edges aren’t sanded properly, the new paint will flow over them in a very thin coat, creating areas that are vulnerable to failure.
Failing to properly prepare weathered wood. Painting bare wood that has been exposed to the elements for even a few weeks can lead to cracking and peeling after only a year or two. Zimmer says this problem can be avoided by thoroughly sanding the weathered wood, then priming before applying any paint.
Failing to use a primer. Almost any exterior paint job will benefit from a coat of primer, but it’s especially important to prime wood that has not been previously painted. The same holds true for any wood that has no paint — either because it has peeled or flaked off, or because of rigorous scraping and sanding during surface preparation.
Failing to correct a source of moisture behind the wood. According to Zimmer, moisture seeping behind the paint can result in blistering and peeling. Careful caulking can resolve most of these issues. Among the areas to check are open seams at corner joints and anywhere windows and doors abut the walls. Splits or cracks within the siding should also be sealed with paintable siliconized acrylic caulk. If any wood seems structurally unsound, it’s wise to call in a pro to make sure it doesn’t have to be replaced.
Failure to apply paint at the proper spread rate. Paints perform best when applied at the recommended spread rate. Trying to economize by either thinning paint or applying it in too thin a coat can invite early paint failures.
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Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at email@example.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.