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When you need to drill or cut into a ceramic tile, or even work in a shower or bathroom with tile, you need to be extra careful not to damage it. Recently, we had to remove a stubborn shower head and needed to add some protection to the tiles to avoid accidentally hitting them while working. We taped several cardboard pieces around the shower head with masking tape. This protected the tiles while we struggled with the old shower head. Cardboard also can be used around a kitchen sink, backsplash, bathtub, trim molding and lots of other places.

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Q: I used to like my laminate cabinets. They look sleek and modern, but I’d like to see if I can paint them and give them a more “country” look. How do I paint them? What kind of prep do I need to do? What kind of paint should I use? – T.C.

A: Use a liquid sander on the laminate surface to prepare it to accept the paint. Do some checking around, and find a paint that will work on laminate. They actually make some. Use a primer and then paint. You may need a couple of coats. Be careful about cleaning them, and try not to use abrasives when you can avoid it.

Tips from readers

Dear Al: Our water heater and HVAC unit is in a closet at the end of our front hallway. Every time the heater comes on, the door rattles. I also periodically hear other noises. I thought I would get used to it, but after a few years, I still hear every noise. Plus, our guest room is near that closet, and I worried that it might bother any guests we might have. I installed weatherstripping around the edges of the door, and now it has stopped rattling. I don’t hear some of the other noises coming from the closet either now! I just wish I had thought of it sooner. – P.S.

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Dear Carrells: I bought a couple of tools at a garage sale, and one was really unique, at least to me. It’s a set of screwdrivers that has interchangeable bits and a handle that fits onto it. The shaft of the screwdriver has a hole drilled through the center of it. There is a rod that slides into the center of the screwdriver, and it is used to make turning stubborn screws much easier. – H.P.

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Dear Al: My wife and I have been looking for a coffee table that would let us display our shell collection, but we’ve had no luck finding one. We finally just made one. We found a solid square table, then found a good wooden frame the same exact size. We built the sides up 3 inches and then installed hinges on one side of the frame and the table side. The top can be opened up to put your display items in. It’s a lot of fun, and we have enjoyed showing it off to family and friends. – H.N.

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Dear Carrells: Our ceilings are vaulted and we have a hard time getting to the cobwebs up high. I finally devised a wonderful tool to make this easier. What I did was take a long section of thick-walled PVC pipe and attached a duster to the end of it. It’s about 10 feet long, so I can reach up to about 16 feet, which is plenty of height, even for the very top corners. – E.F.

A Super hint

Make your own carpet cleaner to use with a carpet-cleaning machine, and save money. Just mix household white vinegar and water (50/50 mix), and use this instead of the prescribed cleaning solution. It does a pretty good job for a fraction of the cost. Test it first to make sure it is OK for your carpet.

Shoptalk

For years, we’ve had very few options for controlling individual hoses on a water-supply line other than small levers that are hard to turn and easily can break. Well, now Gardener’s Supply Company has a push-button tap adapter. It looks neat, is easy to install and turns the water off and on with just the push of a button. You can buy a single unit or a dual adapter. To find out more, go to www.gardeners.com.