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If you are a do-it-yourselfer, then refinishing a piece of furniture is a rite of passage that everyone has to try. It’s a lot of fun and can develop and test several skills. Don’t take on a real antique until you know what you are doing, or you could destroy its value. But stripping and repainting an old dresser or table can be a fun project. Start small.

Stripping the old finish off used to be the hard part, but with the strippers that are around today, it can be pretty quick and easy.

This project isn’t going to happen overnight, so find a place where you can work for several days without having to put everything away each day. The area should have good ventilation but can be closed up to prevent dust. The floor should be covered with a tarp to protect it.

If you are stripping an older piece of furniture, check for lead in the paint before beginning. Use a simple test kit, available at your home center. If lead is present, then you can’t scrape or sand and the paint removed needs to be disposed of properly. Consult your local trash collector for a disposal site in your area. Remove hardware and set it aside.

Chemical strippers are so easy and much safer to use today. Read and follow the label precautions and wear the protective gear specified.

If any repairs are needed, do this now and make sure to clean off excess putty and grease from your hands as you work.

Before applying your finish, make sure everything is dried, sanded and dust-free. Also, make sure your room is dust-free and turn off fans and vents to keep it that way while you work.

Hopefully your first project will be the first of many. Have fun and get creative!

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Q: I have a cracked tile in the middle of my kitchen floor. How can I remove it to replace it with another one? – H.G.

A: It’s a good idea to remove the surrounding grout first. Use a small grout saw or rotary tool to get it all out of the way first. Then you can go after the broken tile. If you are careful, you might be able to tap it with a hammer so it will break into smaller pieces. Start prying out the pieces very carefully, so as not to damage the surrounding tiles.

Once it’s all the way out, grind down any leftover adhesive. Clean away all of the debris and dust. Then you can apply new adhesive and your replacement tile. Give it time to cure and then install more grout.

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Q: I am getting ready to paint my kitchen cabinets. The paint dealer suggested that I go with a glossy finish, but I prefer something less shiny. What did he mean about it being easier to clean than duller paint? – C.F.

A: The glossier the finish, the less likely it will be to pick up and hold dirt. That means it is easier to clean and keep clean. Some of the newer paints still are going to be easy to clean, even if you choose a satin or semi-gloss finish. Do talk to a couple more paint dealers and you’ll be able to find exactly what you are looking for.

Shoptalk

If you need more storage, then you should check out the Cabidor. This really innovative storage/shelving system easily attaches to the hinges of just about any door to give you a whole lot more organized storage. It’s adjustable, so you can use it for storing a variety of items, and the metal guards keep items from falling off as you operate the door. It’s great for laundry rooms, garages, bathrooms, pantries, craft rooms and offices.

Unlike many of the over-the-door systems, it doesn’t show and won’t interfere with the closing of the door.

Since it’s easy to install and take down, it’s perfect for apartments, rentals and even dorm rooms. Find out more at www.cabidor.com. Watch the video and see for how a Cabidor might create some super storage.