Q: We had outdoor carpet on our concrete patio. The carpet was in terrible condition, so we pulled it off, but how do we remove the glue?
A: This adhesive is often very difficult to remove, and the best way to start is with a scraper. Muscle-powered floor scrapers can be bought at some home centers, but you will be in for a lot of hard work with one of these.
Some do-it-yourselfers use homemade scrapers made by sharpening the blade of a flat, spade-type shovel with a file. A better method is to rent a powered floor scraper from a tool-rental agency. Wear goggles when using any scraper, and add ear protection with a power scraper.
After scraping, there will probably still be some adhesive residue to remove. This can usually be cleaned up with a chemical adhesive remover.
You should be able to find a remover at a home center or hardware store. Some adhesive removers contain powerful chemicals and must be used with caution; read and follow the directions carefully.
If possible, use a nontoxic remover such as Citrus King Tile Mastic and Carpet Adhesive Remover. This can be bought at www.citrusdepot.net.
Some adhesive removers, especially the safer ones, require extra time to soften the adhesive.
Q: I have an older leather couch that is in good condition but has a stain from pet urine on the seat. Can leather be colored to hide the stain or is there another way to save the couch?
A: If the stain is reasonably fresh, you might be able to remove or make it less conspicuous with a homemade cleaner.
Add a teaspoon of dishwasher detergent to a cup of warm water and shake or mix it to form a lot of suds. Blot the stain with a clean cloth moistened with the sudsy mixture, then blot with another cloth and clear water to rinse. Finally, blot with a dry cloth.
If this fails, you can probably find products to improve the appearance of the couch at www.leathermagic.com. This company offers stain remover, cleaner, conditioner and many other leather-care products including repair kits containing colors that can be blended to match almost any leather finish.
Q: My neighbor used salt to de-ice his sidewalk and it caused pitting in the concrete. Is there any coating or spray that can be safely used on concrete for de-icing?
A: De-icing sprays that claim to be safe for concrete and some other surfaces are available, but unfortunately they are rather expensive.
You can check out a couple of them at www. improvementscatalog.com (item 209117, $15 per gallon) or http://store. interstateproducts .com, $120 for four gallons).
The main virtues of rock salt (sodium chloride), commonly used for de-icing, are that it is cheap and widely available. It can damage some concrete but appears to have no harmful effects on other concrete (the quality of the concrete is a factor).
Sweeping up salt residue after the ice melts can help reduce damage to concrete. Rock salt is also damaging to plants or grass that it contacts during de-icing.
A safer alternative that is sold at some home centers and hardware stores is calcium chloride, which usually costs somewhat more than rock salt. Magnesium chloride is another alternative that is easier on concrete and plants.
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