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Do It Yourself: Floor may need repair before resurfacing

Sun., Oct. 20, 2013, midnight

Q. My concrete garage floor is pretty beat up, with some cracks and stains. A friend said I could make it look like new with a resurfacer bought at a home center. It sounds easy – is it?

A. Several brands of resurfacers are sold at home centers and building-supply outlets for do-it-yourselfers, but I can’t say it is an easy project.

Among leading brands are Quikrete and Sakrete. Rust-Oleum also offers an epoxy material it calls a resurfacer.

Manufacturers of some resurfacers say they can be used on driveways, patios, pool decks, sidewalks and other surfaces, as well as floors. Each of the resurfacers has its own set of instructions, but there are some things common to all.

For one thing, you would need to repair the cracks. If you have repaired them before and they reopened, it is unlikely that a resurfacer will keep them from opening again, since there is probably a flaw in the slab.

Also, the concrete must be carefully cleaned – stains could interfere with good adhesion. For example, Quikrete’s directions call for “high strength” pressure washing of the surface.

Sakrete calls its resurfacer Flo-Coat; like Quikrete, it is mixed with water before use.

I’d consider alternatives before I would use a resurface on a garage floor that appears to be in poor condition. Alternatives would include interlocking plastic tiles or garage mats.

Another option for surfaces like concrete driveways and some other surfaces, is a professionally applied overlay – a relatively thick, strong new concrete surface.

Q. The agent for my homeowner’s insurance told me I should have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen, which isn’t very big. I assume it should be able to extinguish cooking oil or grease fires. The clerk at my home center didn’t know much about what type of extinguisher I need. Can you help?

A. The best extinguisher for a kitchen has a K rating, but these are rather expensive, large and heavy, and are used mostly in restaurants and other commercial places.

Kidde, a leading manufacturer of fire extinguishers, has a kitchen extinguisher that it claims is the only one with a UL 711A rating for cooking equipment fires. You can buy it for about $20. This one is somewhat larger than the typical ABC extinguishers you see in stores (which are not rated for grease fires); the nozzle has a funnel-shape not found on most extinguishers.

There are also some common-sense things you can do to help prevent or combat kitchen cooking oil or grease fires.

Turn off the burner if you can do it safely, and call 911 as soon as a fire breaks out; don’t wait while you try to extinguish it. If you have time, use an appropriate fire extinguisher.

Never try to extinguish a cooking oil or grease fire with water – that will only make it worse.

When cooking with deep cooking oil or grease, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the vessel.

Keep a large metal lid handy to clamp on the vessel or cooking utensil in case it catches fire; one of the best ways to extinguish these fires is to smother them, cutting off the oxygen they need to burn.

Questions and comments should be emailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail for Gene Austin to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

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