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TILES SET IN MORTAR MAY HAVE TO BE CHIPPED OUT

SHARE TILES SET IN MORTAR MAY HAVE TO BE CHIPPED OUT

Question - I am replacing an old two-handle tub-shower faucet with a one-handle unit. I also have several tiles that have horizontal cracks, so I want to replace them as well as put new tiles over the holes left by the removal of the two handles of the old unit.

I found nine tiles that I can use as replacements, but how can I get the old tiles off, and how can I fill in those old handle holes? Peter Jacobs, Wellesley, Mass.

Answer - To remove the tiles, which are probably set with adhesive, heat them with a hair dryer and set a chisel next to the tile to be removed; then pry up. You might be able to do this without the heat. If the tiles are set in mud (mortar) they are going to be much, much harder to remove; in fact, you will have to chip them off the mortar, and in so doing you'll break them up. That can't be helped, but the only saving grace is that they probably are not set in mortar.

Once tiles are removed, scrape off the adhesive from the backs of any tiles you plan to re-use, and from the wall. Then set in the new tiles, using a tile adhesive. Be sure to scrape off any grout on the edges of old tiles because you want a standard space (about 1/16 inch) between tiles to fill with grout.

If the holes left by removal of the old handles are small enough, fill them with caulking compound. If the holes are too big for caulking, cover the edges of each hole with joint compound and let dry. Add succeeding layers until the hole is almost closed, then fill in with compound, smooth off, let set and sand smooth. Avoid putting tiles on a rounded surface; flat tiles will not set properly on a rounded surface. The purpose of filling the hole is to make it waterproof, so no water that might get behind the set tile will leak through the hole into the wall cavity. The caulking will be more waterproof than the joint compound.

Question - When I moved a piano, the brown rubber pads under the casters remained stuck on the floor. I was warned about this, but I still want to get the pads off. But how? Joanne Perry, Melrose, Mass.

Answer - There's a lot of pressure on those pads, perhaps 150 to 200 pounds per pad. Try this: Spray WD40 (a lubricant in an aerosol can) around the edges of each pad. Wait a few minutes, then try pushing off the pads or stick a putty knive under one and pry a little. If the pad yields a little, spray more WD40 under it and keep prying. The reason you don't want to pop or pry them off dry is that if you do, the pad is likely to take some of the varnish with it.

When the pads do come up, with the help of the WD40, there may be some residue of rubber left on the floor. Spray this with WD40, wait 5 to 15 mintues and scrape off with a wood edge, or wipe off with a rough cloth. Wash off the WD40 with detergent and water and you're home free. But not too much water.

Question - The popcorn ceilings in my 30-year-old house are falling down. The peeling paint will not yield to a sander. Is there lead paint in the popcorn ceiling? I opted for a new ceiling, Blueboard with a skimcoat. One installer wanted $500, another said he'd do it for $200, with molding around the edge. J.M., Andover, Mass.

Answer - I doubt very much if there is lead paint in the popcorn ceiling. Go for the $200 new ceiling job; the reason it is so much less than the other is that there is no need for fussy fitting and cutting of the Blueboard, nor a need to fill in the joint between ceiling and wall. A trim around the edge should be OK; in fact it will add a little architectural feature to the ceiling. You don't have to paint the skimcoat unless or until you want to. Be content with a flat, smooth ceiling; you won't have to fight that silly popcorn ceiling ever again.

Question - I have an old barber chair that must be more than 100 years old. It has been in storage in a barn and is weathered, with a little surface rust on the wonderful chrome. Can I have that chrome replated? Also, where can I get extra-wide pine boards? The widest seem to be 111/4 inches wide, not wide enough for what I would like. Barry Sharcot, Framingham, Mass.

Answer - There is not much you can do about the rust on the chrome because any sanding or steel wool to get the rust off (as with other kinds of metal) will also mar the rest of the chrome. One thing you might try, without affecting the chrome: Slice a lemon in half, sprinkle some salt on it and rub on the rust.

There are two possible ways to rechrome: a home-plating kit sold in auto supply stores for replacing chrome auto bumpers. Or, have the metal replated by a professional. One such professional is E. Ciardi Co. of Chelsea, telephone (617) 884-0857.