Q. We recently moved into a house with several really ugly wood floors. Instead of spending a lot to fix them up, we thought of covering them with carpeting. Trouble is, I have respiratory problems and carpets give me a bad time. Is there any solution?
A. I can’t say what it will do for your respiratory problems, but you can buy so-called green carpets that don’t contain the materials that cause allergic reactions in some people.
In general, carpeting is more healthful than it once was, since some of the more toxic ingredients have been dropped by manufacturers. A good way to choose healthier carpeting is to buy products with the Green Label Plus certification of the Carpet and Rug Institute, a trade group.
I can’t vouch for this theory, but CRI claims carpeting can actually be beneficial by trapping harmful particles that would otherwise float in the air. The particles must be removed by vacuuming, of course. For more information, visit www.carpet-rug.org and click on Residential.
I like carpeting because it is warmer than hard floors and soft underfoot. If you buy green carpeting, make sure the pad that will be installed under it is also of the green class.
Vacuum your carpets frequently, especially if your house has a chronic dust problem.
Q. I am painting some furniture and have bought the best paint brushes I can find. But I still get brush marks when I paint. How can I get a really smooth finish when I paint without using a sprayer?
A. You can try foam brushes in place of bristle brushes.
Foam brushes are available in many sizes and are usually inexpensive. They can be cleaned with soap and water, but many painters just discard them after the project is finished.
After painting, you can keep a foam brush fresh and usable for several days by placing it in a plastic bag and sealing the bag.
Foam brushes have a tendency to drip, so wipe the brush carefully on the inside rim of the paint can after dipping it in the paint. Dip only about one-third of the brush into the paint.
If you are inexperienced with foam brushes, practice on some scrap before trying it on your project. I prefer foam brushes no more than about 2 1/2 inches wide, but you can try various widths to find what suits you.
Q. One of the double-pane glass doors to my deck has developed moisture between the glass panes. Is there any way to fix this without buying an expensive new door?
A. Moisture between panes means the seal has developed a leak.
In newer windows and doors, the problem might be covered by a warranty, so you should check with the manufacturer or installer before trying anything else.
Beyond that, I think the most practical step is to replace the glass. Seal failures of this type used to be very common with double-pane windows and doors, but improved sealing makes it much less of a problem.
If there is no repair company in your area, your options are to learn to live with the door or replace it.