Q. We have large ceramic tiles at our entry. They look fine but when it rains they get very slippery. Is there a remedy for this?
A. Several companies make products designed to reduce slipping on wet tile surfaces. Many of these products can be used indoors or outside, and are often touted for aprons around swimming pools, bathroom floor tiles, and tiles on patios and entries. Some can also be used on slippery marble, smooth concrete and other floors.
Basically, many products etch the surface to eliminate some of the glaze that causes slipping. Most manufacturers claim their products won’t change the appearance of tiles, but I can’t vouch for that or the effectiveness of the slip-reduction.
Obviously, it takes a strong chemical to etch the surface of a tile, so all directions and cautions should be read carefully if you decide to try one of these products. I also recommend testing it first on an inconspicuous part of the surface to see whether you like the results.
The products are generally applied with a mop, allowed to work for a specified time, then are thoroughly rinsed off. A couple of applications might be necessary in some cases.
You can learn more about these products, and find sources and prices, by using an Internet search engine and the words Non Slip Treatments for Ceramic Tiles.
I haven’t personally used any of these products, so this should not be considered an endorsement, just background information.
Q. I have metal kitchen cabinets that I would like to repaint. Do I have to remove the old paint first?
A. It usually is not necessary to remove old paint as long as it is adhering well and is in good condition. Even some minor peeling often doesn’t mean old paint needs to be removed – simply scrape off the peeled stuff, sand the edges smooth, and prime any bare areas.
There is an exception to this, however: If the paint was applied before 1978, it might contain led and any scraping or sanding is a health hazard.
If lead paint is suspected, buy a lead test kit at a home center or on the Internet (www.leadcheck.com is one source) and test the old paint. If the paint does contain lead, it should be removed only by a certified expert; visit www.epa.gov/lead for more details.
There are situations when old paint should be removed before repainting. These include severe peeling, cracking and chipping. Stains on sound paint are usually not reason for removal – they can be treated with a stain-killer primer and painted over.
Even if paint is adhering well and is in good condition, it is important to clean it well before repainting. Cleaning can normally be done with a solution of household detergent, followed by rinsing.
Q. I have oak kitchen cabinets that are stained a light honey color. I would prefer a much darker color. Is it appropriate to stain them a cherry-mahogany color?
A. I think it would be mistake to stain the cabinets a dark color. Oak is an open-grained, easily recognizable wood with a natural light tone, and dark oak cabinets might look odd to some people.
This could be a factor if you plan to sell the house, since many people seem to prefer light wood colors to dark ones. I have been asked many times how to convert dark wood to light, but virtually never get asked for information on changing light to dark.