Question: My sunroom's terra cotta floor has a tinted sealer. A plant pot was left on it, creating a white circle on the tile. How can I remove it? -- Amy Yunes, Sharon, Mass.Answer: Dip fine steel wool in paint thinner and rub the tile, not too lightly but not too heavily. This will remove the spot but also the tinted sealer, so you will have to reseal.
Question: I have a door in the foundation of my house, at the bottom of my bulkhead stairs. I would like to put in a screen door in that opening, which already has a door. It cannot open out because there is not enough room at the bottom of the bulkhead stairs. Can I make double doors that would open out? -- Maureen O'Dowd, Norwell, Mass.
Answer: Yes, but you may have to make your own; I don't know of any stock double screens that would fill a standard width door. But you could make your own with sturdy wood frames and well-stretched screening.
Also there are rolling screens that you could buy. One is Mirage Rolling Screen Door that rolls up sideways, sold by KSG Products of Williamstown, N.J. Call 800-955-3667.
Question: I am building a house. What are the pros and cons about a wood frame versus a steel frame; that is, one using steel studs? What should the "on center" spacing be; that is, how far apart should the studs be? I want the house to stand up to Boston winds. How thick should the wall be? Is extra insulation worth it in walls that have a lot of windows? -- Frank Chasin, Savin Hill, Mass.
Answer: Steel studs are OK to use, even for outside walls (originally they were designed for interior walls only). The only thing you have to do with steel studded exterior walls is to put rigid foam insulation on the inside of such walls, because the steel studs are notorious losers of heat; that is, without the insulation the warm air indoors will radiate right outdoors through those metal studs. This will happen even if regular insulation is between the studs. As for spacing, 16 inches or 24 inches is fine.
Six inches is OK for wall thickness, although some people feel that there should be more insulation in the walls than the 6 inches of fiberglass that would fit in that space. As for a wall full of windows, you might as well have the non-window parts of the walls highly insulated because even the best of windows are heavy losers of heat.
Question: Where can I find wood bifold doors 90 inches high and 36 inches wide; that is, two doors, each 18 inches wide? All I can find is doors 78 and 80 inches high. -- Joyce Turner, North Reading, Mass.
Answer: And I doubt if you will find any unless you have them made. That would be very expensive; they are costly enough as is. But here is what I suggest, and it is what the handyman did when he built an extra tall closet. He reduced the opening to 80 inches high, and build a shelf above the whole closet. You could do the same, and put doors on the shelf as well. The handyman did not put doors on that upper shelf, but he might. In fact, he built the closet a year ago and has yet to put up the doors. Sh! Don't tell anyone.
Question: You wrote recently that someone put a lighted kerosene lantern in a fireplace to keep it from smelling. The idea of the lantern was to get the stagnant air going up the chimney instead of down, which it was doing, bringing the odor of burnt wood into the house. My question is, how long should the lantern be kept lit? -- M.J.N., Tewksbury, Mass.
Answer: As long as it keeps the odor out of house. The reverse chimney effect (air coming down the chimney) might stop as cold weather kicks in, so you can probably turn off the lantern now. And of course, turn it off if you use the fireplace. It's a good idea to turn it off in winter because the damper must be kept open as long as you keep the lantern lit.
Question: Raccoons are raiding my in-ground garbage can and having a wonderful time at my expense. They seem to share the work in opening the can. How can I deter them? -- M.G., Needham, Mass.
Answer: There are various animal repellents you can spray on and around the can, but that would work temporarily, if at all. First, try sprinkling cayenne pepper flakes on the garbage and on the can. Or, better yet, cayenne powder, but be careful with that powder because it can cause allergic reactions if inhaled.
Finally, you may have to build a heavy duty steel cage around the can to keep the varmints out. But you know they can open almost anything, so the cage must be super-strong.
Question: I plan to put in a new sidewalk of concrete, not asphalt. I have heard of patterned concrete, done in the forms of stone, brick, and other nice shapes. I have no idea of where to look. Do you? --Joe Calcio, Holbrook, Mass.
Answer: Yep, and that is why I filed the patterned concrete people in my super electronic file. According to the companies' promotional material, patterned concrete does look good. So, take your choice:
Technokrete is one brand name for decorative concrete, in Whitman, Mass., 781-447-9444, 800-236-1322.
Increte Systems: N.E. Decorative Concrete, Northwood, N.H. 03261, 603-942-9273, 800-972-9273.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton will answer reader questions. Write him at the Boston Globe, Boston, MA 02107.