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posted: 12/21/2012 4:30 AM

Super handyman: Here's how to help your wallpaper last longer

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Wallpaper takes some effort to put up. It's also hard to remove. So if you have wallpapered rooms in your home, it's smart to take care of them and also repair them rather than remove and replace them. Here are some tips and tricks you can try to make your wallpaper last longer and look its best.

Clean the wallpaper with a damp rag. Loose edges and corners can be glued back down. Be careful not to stretch or tear the paper. Gently remove as much of the old glue as you can. Use a craft knife and some water to loosen it. Then apply new wallpaper paste or any general adhesive with a paintbrush. Use a seam roller to smooth it back into place.

Seams that have spread apart or shrunk a little bit can be disguised with a little bit of matching paint. Do your best to match the colors, and use a small paintbrush to do your touch-ups.

Bubbles in the paper are easy to fix. Just poke a small hole with a needle to let out the air. If you can squirt a little wallpaper adhesive into the hole, press the paper back into place and use the seam roller to smooth it out and remove excess adhesive.

If the area is larger, you can cut an "X" with a utility knife, gently peel back the edges of the wallpaper, install wallpaper paste and press it all back into place and smooth it with the seam roller.

If you have a damaged area and need to patch it, use a scrap of the paper to do so. Tape the paper over the damaged area, matching the pattern. Use a very sharp utility knife to cut through both layers of paper. Gently remove the patch. Apply wallpaper paste to the back of the patch and smooth it into place, using the seam roller for the best adhesion.

Wallpaper is a super choice, but it does take a little maintenance. It will be worth it!

Trash bags make quick work of painting prep

You can't avoid the prep work involved with painting, but you can cut down on all the cleanup afterward. Cover items like ceiling fixtures, toilets and sinks with a trash bag when painting around them. It might sound crazy, but it is so fast and easy to do, and it will shield your prized processions from paint spatters. You even can wrap doorknobs, faucets, lamps and doors. Give it a shot and see if it makes things just a little bit easier!

Yardstick and paint pad help you paint hard-to-reach places

The bathroom is a super room to paint. Most are small, so the job goes quickly, and we all like that! There are obstacles you will need to work around, like a toilet. But here's a great idea: You can apply paint with a paint pad that has been taped or glued to the end of a yardstick. This is a very easy way to get the paint into a tight spot. You also can do this when painting around a radiator, stove and lots of other places. Give it a try!

Super hints

• The next time you have to describe a noise or show a hardware-store employee what the broken tile looks like, use your cellphone. Take a picture or record a sound. It will make things a little less confusing, and you might bring home the right parts!

• A handle on one of my cabinets was broken, not sure how. It happened to be one that I need to get into more often than some of the others. I couldn't find another matching one at the store, so I switched out the damaged knob with one on a cabinet that I rarely use. It's not ideal, but it's the best I can do until I can afford to replace all of the knobs at once. (I will buy extras this time!)

• We all know that salt sprinkled on an icy sidewalk will help the ice melt faster, but it can work on a frozen drainpipe, too. Just pour some salt into a frozen drainpipe and give it a little time to work.

Q. I have a worn threshold on my front door. It's not only drafty, but it lets in rain sometimes. I want to use another wooden threshold, not the metal ones that are available at my hardware store. Where can I get a new one?

A. You can find a wooden threshold at a door supplier. You may have to shop around, but you will be able to find one. Use a hacksaw to cut through the old one to remove it, and then install the new one. Make sure you replace the insulation on the bottom of the door if it has worn down. Add a door sweep to the door, also. Good luck!

Q. We need to replace another water heater. The last one was a real hassle to remove, as we couldn't drain the water out of it. Assuming I might have the same problem with this one, what can I do to help it drain?

A. Hook up a garden hose to the front tap and turn on the spigot. Then you can cut off the supply line at the top of the water heater. Once the supply line has been disconnected or cut, the air can get in and make draining it much faster.

Q. I put a small space heater in my workshop. It does a pretty good job and, since the building is separate from the house, is the best way to heat the area. One thing I've noticed is that the overhead fluorescent light flickers on cold mornings. It stops when the room warms up. What can I do to prevent this?

A. This is a very common problem with most standard fixtures. They do make some that work better at lower temperatures, but replacing the fixture might be too costly. Another option is to try to find a replacement ballast that will work better at lower temps.

Reader tips

• I bought a new push broom to keep the deck and garage clean. The first time I used it, the handle came off! I tried to screw it back on and could see that it wasn't going to hold. I wrapped the threaded end with a scrap of old window-screen wire before screwing it back on again. It was an easy enough fix, and it hasn't come apart again since then.

• The disposable gloves I wear when working in the school kitchen are great. I have purchased a box for home use as well. They are inexpensive and work great for painting, working in the yard and other messy projects. I bought mine at the drugstore, but I know they are available at a variety of stores these days. They come in different sizes and even more heavy-duty material if you need that.

• My wife really likes wallpaper, and has installed wallpaper and borders in almost every room of the house. I have learned a trick that I'd like to pass on -- it could save you tears when trimming off the excess: Wait until it is dry before trimming the edges. If you do this, then it will tear and stretch less. I promise.

• When we started to decorate for the holidays, I found a Post-it note on the wall behind the curtains where the tree would go up. Earlier this fall, I went around the house with a stick of incense, looking for air leaks around the base of the walls. Then I went back and caulked these areas. I missed this one, and I could feel the difference. The area was cold, and I could feel the air coming in under the baseboard. I pulled the note off the wall and caulked the area. Now the tree is up, and there is no longer any draft!

• My shower opening is a little taller than most, and I have had a lot of trouble trying to find a shower curtain that is long enough to actually block the water from dripping outside the door. I finally just added a second row of curtain hooks to the bottom of the first row and then added the curtain. Now it's long enough!


• HO HO HO! Would you like to make a nifty Christmas gift for the home? Wind chimes add a touch of music to your deck or patio. We've got plans for a set of wind chimes made from electrical conduit (pipe), which is easy to cut and not very expensive. The other parts are available at your favorite hardware place ... or, you may have 'em left over from another project. Check our website for more ideas. Better hurry up!

• Broan-NuTone fans are a longtime favorite of ours. Broan-NuTone is always coming up with new, innovative products, and the latest, LoProfile Fan, has been designed to fit into very small spaces. It's the perfect way to retrofit an energy-efficient, powerful, super-quiet ventilation fan, even in a two-by-four stud cavity for walls and ceilings. The fan is Energy Star-rated and operates at a powerful 80 CFM and at a very quiet 1.1 sones. It's great for bathrooms, laundry rooms and other rooms in your home that have moisture issues. It's UL listed to use over bathtubs and showers with a GFCI circuit. To find out more about this super fan and the other products, go to or These fans are available at select dealers, the names of which also are listed on the website.

• Pruning trees can be a challenge, but Fiskars' 12-foot Tree Pruner with Saw makes it almost fun. The sturdy pole gives you more control and helps you reach the tall branches. It's made of sturdy fiberglass, and has a neat quick-release extendable pole lock. The12-inch, razor-sharp, triple-ground saw blade cuts through branches (up to 1 inch in diameter) like butter. It has a special nonstick coating to prevent dragging and sticking on live branches. It comes with a lifetime warranty, so you'll probably wear out a long time before it does. Go to for more info on this and other handy tools.

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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