Real estate


Should you paint your basement?

Q. I am buying my first single-family home and have a few questions. Do you have any suggestions for methods or products to strip paint from a brick fireplace? The current owners painted it at some point over the past four years. From pictures before it was painted, it looks like there is pretty red brick and mortar underneath. Do you think it’s possible to remove the paint? Should I be concerned about the mortar; will the paint come off it?

The second question I have is whether you have any recommendations for painting and/or whitewashing the floors and walls of a fieldstone/concrete basement. I’d like to take a stab at brightening it up down there before I move anything in. Is there any particular prep work needed or certain type of paint you would recommend? I do not believe the basement is very damp (at least, not anymore damp than any New England basement), but I’ll probably get a dehumidifier running down there in relatively short order. Should I be looking for something mildew resistant?



A. Have you called it home yet, E.T.? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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As far as the fireplace goes, try using a heavy duty paint-removal system like Peel Away. We use this product a lot on my job sites; my painter prefers it.

As far as the fieldstone floor, I’m not sure I would paint that. I’m not a huge fan of painting basement floors and walls. That being said, I have done it in my basement workshop with some success. A concrete floor can be cleaned, etched with muriatic acid, and coated with epoxy paint. The problem with painting in basements is moisture will eventually make it peel.

Dear Rob

When S. Jenks wrote about having problems with a stuck French door (“Finding a door-lock fix that sticks,” June 12), readers responded with their own solutions:

DVANNE: I have had the same problem several times. Type “Andersen french door adjustment” in Google and “Replacement & adjustment of hinge and hardware” appears. This will give him a detailed description of the easy fix. Here’s the link:[1].pdf


RAGS055: Andersen French patio doors come with an allen wrench and instructions for built-in adjustment screws. Each hinge has several adjustment screws, including one to raise or lower the door, one for the angle of the door in the opening, and one to “lock down” adjustments you’ve made.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to or tweet them to @globeaddress or @robertrobillard.