Q: I own a rowhouse built in 1905, and the bricks in the basement seem to be turning to dust over time. What should I do?
A: Moisture does it every time. Bricks are porous. You see the deterioration in chimney bricks especially, so you'll need to track down the moisture source. Remember that the builders of houses in 1905 would probably be surprised that the places they built are still being occupied. They knew nothing about preservation, nor did they have much interest in the history of houses that were not occupied by the rich and famous.
Q: When patching a wall, do you ever see a problem with patching plaster with drywall joint compound?
A: Durabond is usually recommended for plaster repair; this ready-mix, or so-called hot mud, is good for large, small, and deep repairs. I've mixed both and haven't had a problem, but remember that one person's experience is probably not universal.
Q: What is the best/easiest method for trimming asphalt roofing shingles?
A. Before you install, turn the shingle over, score the back with a utility knife and bend it on the score mark. I've never tried it while actually installing the shingles, but I'd imagine you might do it the same way — except you would put something under the shingle so you don't accidentally cut something beneath it.
Q: We are getting ready to paint our hunter-green home office red. I have heard stories about red paint problems — multiple coats required and lapping marks. We plan to use a paint with primer included.
My questions: How many coats do you think we will have to do? Is this paint up to the job?
A. I've had more trouble with red satin than semigloss, although the new no-volatile-organic-compound brand I used for the dining room required a single coat (it was merlot, not wine red, and I used a separate primer).
You will probably need two coats, but you might get a chalk-like mark if you brush up against it, as I did with the same color in our bedroom.
Think about another color, although covering the hunter green will be hard with anything lighter than it, unless you use a couple of coats of primer or more.
Rate your kitchen skills
If you have been busy creating small miracles at your stove lately, you might be interested in this tidbit:
When homemakers assess their own cooking skills from fair to excellent, age and years of cooking experience don't necessarily translate into a higher level of expertise, according to the NPD Group, a market-research firm.
The firm recently released its "Kitchen Audit 2011," which found that 60 percent of homemakers ages 25-34 and 57 percent of homemakers ages 35-44, rated their cooking skills as very good, compared with 50 percent of homemakers ages 45-54 and ages 65 and over, who also rated their skills at that level.
Only a small percentage of homemakers across all age groups rated their cooking skills as excellent.The highest percentage of homemakers, 16 percent, rating their skills as excellent was in the 55-64 age group, and the lowest percentage, 10 percent, was in the 25-34 age group.NPD conducts its Kitchen Audit every three years to determine what food ingredients U.S. households have on hand and what appliances, cookware, and utensils they own. It also assesses the use and sources of recipes.
Other findings from the audit:
Four in 10 respondents use a recipe once a week or more to make any kind of dish.
A cookbook owned for more than two years is the top recipe source.
One percent of respondents use a recipe from a mobile phone app once every two to six months.
Twenty percent of households own a pressure cooker.
Fifty-five percent of households have cheddar cheese "on hand now."