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posted: 6/21/2013 5:32 AM

Maintain brick pavers for long-lasting great look

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Brick pavers are just wonderful. Whether you are doing a walkway, patio or even a driveway, if done correctly, they will look great for many years with little trouble. Even the problems that you might have are easy to fix. Here are solutions to those issues and how you easily can take care of them yourself:

• If you have weeds that pop up between the bricks, just use a herbicide to take them out.

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• If your paver surface has loose sand between the joints, keep in mind that the sand will settle over time. Apply a new layer of sand to the surface and sweep it into the cracks. This adds stability to the pavers and helps them withstand slight movement.

• If a brick or two settle or sink a little, you can use a scrap of heavy-duty wire to lift them out. The wire needs to have a small hook on the bottom to grab the bottom of the brick to lift it up. Other tools you might try are a trowel, pry bar or hacksaw blade. Once up, you can add a handful of sand to the base, smooth it out and carefully set the brick back down. Use a rubber mallet to tamp it back into place.

• If you end up with a cracked brick, you can use the "wire trick" to lift the pieces out and then you can put a new brick into place. Hopefully you have extras. If not, take a brick from a discreet spot and use it to fill the open area. Then, put another brick into the semi-hidden area.

• If you have several bricks that have sunk, remove them all and fill the area with sand so that you have a level base, and replace the bricks. Once you get the first brick up, the others will be much easier to get out.

There are a variety of stone and brick cleaners and sealers that you may want to use, should you have stains on your bricks. Once you use the cleaner, you can apply a sealer that will protect your bricks for a long time. There is even a line of "wet look" sealers that will really bring out the color in the pavers. Shop your hardware store or home center to see what it has.

As you can see, just a little light maintenance really is all that is ever required so your hard work will look good for many years to come.

Make your own bleach gel

We recommend liquid laundry bleach to clean mildew and mold in lots of areas of your home and shop. The gel form is great for stains on vertical areas or other places where you don't want the bleach to run. You can buy a bleach pen, if you have a lot of stains to clean, this can get expensive. However, you can make your own. Just use a mixture of half cornstarch and half water. Put this in a pan and stir it while bringing it to a boil. Once it's clear, let it cool and add a few tablespoons of liquid laundry bleach to the mix, adjusting for your needs. Put it into a squeeze bottle, like an old glue bottle or a kitchen condiment bottle, and put it right where you need it. Don't forget to relabel the bottle!

Paint prep

Summertime is a great time to do some indoor painting projects. You have more daylight to work with, and usually have more time off to complete your projects. Before masking, start saving plastic bags. You can use these, with tape, to cover doorknobs, lamps, thermostats and other obstacles that cannot be easily removed from the room. You even can cover an entire door with one if you want. Good luck, and have a super summer!

Super hints

• Solar lights are great -- unless you don't have a place to mount them or stick them into the dirt. Put a little gravel or sand into an empty pot or large can and place the lamp into this. You can set it wherever you need it -- even on your patio or deck. This is a great solution for a dark front porch, too.

• If you find the perfect tablecloth but it's not waterproof and you have messy kids, go to your fabric or craft store and buy iron-on laminate. It's easy to install and will last a long time, at least until your kids get past the super-messy stage.

• Use toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean ceramic cooktops. Leave the paste on top of the baked-on spots to give them time to soften.

Q. I've been trying to get our house in better shape so I can sell it this summer. One snag I've had is cleaning the bathtubs. I had put stick-on slip guards on the bottom of the tub. They have been there for years. Now I can't get them off. Should I just try to clean them, or do you know of a good way to get them off without ruining the tub surface?

A. Try spraying them with WD-40, and give it a few minutes to soak in. It will help dissolve the adhesive. Be careful not to scrape the surface with a putty knife or razor. You might be able to try a plastic putty knife.

Q. I'm finally going to take some time off work to paint my home's exterior. I have the color picked out for the trim -- black -- but the door is stained. I want to paint over it, but want to use a light color. What do I need to do to cover the stain completely?

A. Lightly sand the door first. Then apply a primer to the door. Then you can paint, probably two coats. Make sure you use a good-quality paint that is resistant to outdoor conditions.

Q. I want to know what I can use to paint an old bed frame with. It's metal, and I was hoping I could make it look like brass. What can you recommend?

A. You can buy brass paint. It's not real brass, but it does look amazingly like the real thing and it comes in a spray and brush-on. There's a little prep involved, but you should like the results.

Reader tips

• I prayed that my air conditioner would make it another year but, when I fired it up this spring, nothing happened. I called the company who installed it originally to come and replace it. They took a good look at it and said it was worth repairing rather than replacing. Come to find out, fire ants had gotten inside the unit and built a large nest, which shorted a switch out. They removed the ants and replaced the switch, and now it's working just fine. I love these guys!

• My friends make fun of me and my cable ties. I do like them for lots of things. I use them to corral hoses and cords in my shop and on camping trips. I always keep a bag of them in my toolbox, camping shell and even in the house. If you need to cut them, a knife will do it. They are faster and much, much more secure than a bungee cord -- cheaper, too!

• Our home has sliding closet doors. They are great because they don't take up a lot of space in the room and then can be closed to make the room look neat, even when the closet is crammed full of stuff. The one thing I hate about them, though, is the banging sound they make when slammed. I put some stick-on felt bumpers on each door frame, and now the doors hit these and the sound is muffled. It sure was an easy fix, and it cost barely a dollar!

• You'll love this idea. I bought a whole box of antique door knobs at a flea market. Some were ugly, but there were a few that were really neat looking. I shined them up and then glued dowels into the base of each one. I found a long plaque and drilled holes for the dowels. Then I glued the knobs onto the plaque and mounted it by the back door. It's a great hat/coat rack. I want to make some more, and even have had friends ask me to make some for them, too.

• My husband is retired now and loves to work in his shop. He is always making great things for the house. The only problem is that he can't hear me when I need to get his attention. I bought a simple two-piece intercom. I put one unit inside the house and the other in his workshop. Now if I need him for something, I can just beep him and he will answer. He can call me, too, if he needs me.

Shoptalk

• Bead board is a great look, but it can be a little labor-intensive and also can get costly. But Brewster makes a line of heavily textured wallpaper that looks just like bead board. It comes in several widths and finishes and goes up just like wallpaper. That means you don't have to have a truck and a bunch of other tools like you would for the real paneling to get the look in your home. It costs a lot less, too. You can do walls, wainscoting and even do a ceiling with this stuff and, once painted, nobody will be able to tell it's paper, not wood! You can get it at your Home Depot store. Check it out online at www.homedepot.com and see it for yourself.

• So many of us have to use the gigantic, and ugly, plastic trash cans now. And if you have to put them in front of your home, even better, right? Well, now you can dress up your trash can with Garbage Pantz. They come in several designs and are stretchy to fit a variety of containers (32- to 45-gallon cans). They are tough, too, so they will last, and you even can put them in the washing machine if you need to. You also can order custom designs. So, if you have to put that ugly thing in your driveway or at curbside once a week, at least it can look better. Check it out at www.garbagepantz.com.

• 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 thesuperhandyman.com.

2013, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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