Q: I have a heavy vinyl wallpaper in my kitchen. It is coming loose in several places at the seams. I tried pasting the seams, but it didn't work. Any suggestions short of removing the wallpaper?
A: Wallpaper seams that peel away from the wall are often very springy, and special methods might be needed to keep them flat.
Since most modern wall coverings are not paper, but vinyl, the best bet is to use a special vinyl adhesive. Adhesives designed for repairs are sold in toothpaste-size tubes at many wallpaper stores and home centers.
A small artist's brush is the best tool for applying the adhesive. Shake the tube, and squirt a little adhesive on a piece of cardboard, palette style, and dip the brush in it. Attempting to apply adhesive directly from the tube sometimes results in messy drips.
Be sure to read the directions on the adhesive tube before attempting any repairs. Elmer's Wallcovering Repair Adhesive is applied to both the covering and wall surface and allowed to dry before the surfaces are joined. Stanfix, another adhesive,
bonds while wet.
Use a wallpaper seam roller to press the seam flat.
If the seam still refuses to stay flat, it will have to be held down, giving the adhesive more time to cure. One way is to press a flat stick or board against the seam and hold it in place with a heavy chair or other piece of furniture. Wait about 30 minutes before removing the stick.
Q: We own a mountain vacation home and turn the heat off in winter. We've been able to successfully winterize most of our plumbing. However, we haven't hooked up our dishwasher and clothes washer because we are not sure how to winterize them. Can you help?
A: Some plumbers use compressed air to blow water out of appliances and pipes that might be damaged by freeze-ups, and I consider this the safest system. Pumps on appliances of this type also might have to be drained or protected with non-toxic antifreeze. I'd hire an expert to do the winterizing, at least the first time, and watch carefully to pick up tips for handling your brand of appliances.
Q. We recently bought a new wood table and I wonder if I can brush polyurethane over the top to waterproof it. What do you think?
A: I don't recommend applying polyurethane to a new table. Although polyurethane is more water-resistant than most other furniture finishes, virtually all finishes used on modern furniture have good resistance to water. Polyurethane is also tricky to apply and might not be compatible with the existing finish. In short, you could ruin the table.
My advice is to apply a high-quality furniture wax and use coasters, pads or other protection under glasses, cups and dishes.
Q: Our group wants to give the impression of more space in our meeting room by putting mirror tiles on one wall. We'd like to use four-inch tiles, but can't find a source. Can you help?
A: I don't know a source of small mirror tiles -- they are usually 12 inches by 12 inches. If any reader knows a source and lets me know, I'll pass it along. However, I think a better impression of more space could be had by using large mirrors, since small tiles would chop up the images.
Readers' questions and comments are welcome and should be sent to Gene Austin, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Questions cannot be answered personally.