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Handyman on Call

What is causing paint to blister — in just one spot?

Q. Some of the paint in our bathroom has blistered, just in one place — the corner with the chimney behind it. (We don’t have a fireplace — just used for the gas burner, I guess.) There are numerous places where the paint is cracked and some holes (about 1 inch diameter at the most) in the paint. This started a couple of years ago, and has not gotten much worse, so I don’t think we have an ongoing problem with too much moisture or anything like that. How do we fix this? I am not too handy, nor do I have much energy. If there’s a “quick and dirty” fix, that would be great. I’m imagining that it would involve somehow getting all the blistered/cracked paint off, leaving the wall smooth, and then repainting?

S.J., Arlington

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A. Nothing quick and dirty, just common sense. The problem is on the wall, which has a brick chimney behind it. This wall gets warm when the gas is on, and chilly when the gas is off. When the wall is chilly, water vapor condenses on it, a constant irritant that makes the paint bubble and peel. When the gas is off and the wall warms up, it’s simply another irritant. Also, too thick a coat will tend to peel. Try this: Sand thoroughly, to remove the peeling paint, but not so deeply that you get to the plasterboard. Apply a thin coat of interior latex primer, then 1 or 2 thin coats of a latex eggshell finish wall paint. By thin coats, I mean paint thinly, not thinned down paint.

Q. My stainless steel cooking pots have black char marks which are smooth (you can’t feel them), but I can’t clean them, even by soaking is a strong solution of detergent and water. Can I still safely cook with them?

A. Yes, you can. Yes, the stains may be impossible to remove, but in my opinion they are safe to use. When you watch a cooking program, especially the “Iron Chef,” you may see that they almost always cook with the blackest pots and pans you will ever see.

Q. My mom has a 1964 third-floor condo unit in Hollywood Beach, Fla. It has concrete floors under wall-to-wall. She’s always hated those carpets, and now wants to replace them with a “hard floor,” but not ceramic tile. What do you think would be good? It would be in two bedrooms, a living room, and a small kitchen. Air-conditioning runs 24/7/365 at no higher than 78 degrees.

She wants: 1. low maintenance; 2. easy cleaning; 3. not slippery (she is 92); 4. sound proofing in keeping with the requirements of Florida condos; 5. moisture/mold proof (This one should be No. 1, really. I know, nothing is “proof,” but resistant to moisture and mold?); 6. reasonable. Marmoleum, and if so tile or sheet? Cork tiles? Bamboo? Floating vinyl laminate?

DEB DIMARTIN, Norfolk

A. The numbered characteristics do not exist in any product and never will. I say that ceramic tiles are best, and since she doesn’t want them, I say lay down resilient tiles and be done with it. Then put down wool Oriental area rugs. These may not satisfy her, but I don’t think any one item will, either.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Address/Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call
617-929-2930. He can be reached at photton@globe.com.
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