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Mr. Fix-It Paul MacGregor


Tin ceiling tiles give an old look

Question: Iím getting ready to remodel my kitchen and want to have tin ceiling tiles. Where can I find them?

Answer: Western Interior Supply in Denver has access to several manufacturers and styles. They donít stock the items, but they say they have catalogs and can turn orders around quickly.

Most styles come in 2-by-4 foot sections that can be either nailed into existing ceilings or placed in drop ceilings. Unpainted tin runs about $2.60 a square foot. Painted with an enamel finish, they run $3.75 a foot. Copper, brass or chrome panels run more than $8 a foot.

You can also look in Old House Journal and This Old House magazine for manufacturers and distributors who advertise there, and of course there are a number of sources on the Internet.

We remodeled a 1901 home two years ago and wanted that tin ceiling look. Because of the expense, we chose an Armstrong acoustic ceiling tile product that had the tin look, but cost only 93 cents a foot. We then spray-painted it with semi gloss paint. Most people who see it think itís a tin ceiling until we tell them it isnít.

Question: I have a thick plastic statue I am trying to glue together, but it doesnít seem to hold. Is there special glue I should be using?

Answer: Products like Elmerís Glue and Super Glue wonít work because they are not made for plastic. In fact, it takes specialty glue made for the type of plastic or resin your statue is made of.

If there are vinyl resins in the statue, you may get results with a pvc cement that is used to glue pvc pipes. Itís available wherever plumbing supplies are sold. It comes in two cans, a primer and the solvent material that actually melts the two pieces together. I would be careful using it. If there are other resins in the statue, try an epoxy product such as J.B. Weld. It also has two components, a catalyst and the epoxy. Read and follow the directions carefully.

Question: My wife and I are remodeling a four-plex built in 1955. The interior is of old plaster and lathe construction. The plaster is quite gritty and spills easily. I need to hang blinds inside the window casings. What would you suggest for attaching the brackets above the windows? Home Depot suggested the standard drill and plastic wall anchors, but Iím afraid the plaster will just blow out when I attempt that.

Answer: The clerk at the big box store almost got it right. Measure and mark the spot where you want to drill your hole and put a piece of good strong tape, such as a good quality masking or cellophane tape over the spot. That will give you small protection. Leave the tape in place since the mounting bracket for the blinds will cover it.

Use a masonry drill bit instead of a general-purpose bit and drill slowly. That should do the trick. Insert your wall anchor and install your blinds.

Question: I had a marble hearth put in my new house and the marble is not the right color. What can I do to change it? It looks horrible.

Answer: Unfortunately, marble canít be effectively painted or stained, only replaced. Paint will peel and stain will look worse than what you now have. Since it is a hearth, it shouldnít be that difficult or expensive to replace with a color that is more suitable. Since a hearth is not the best environment for marble, completely seal it with a top quality sealer. A tile or granite dealer can provide you with one.

Question: My garbage disposal is stuck. How can I free it?

Answer: Chances are you have a small fragment of plastic, glass or even a baggie tie caught in the blades of the disposal. Iíve found the quickest and most effective way of un-jamming the disposal is with a broomstick or something similar. With the disposal off, place the end of the broomstick into the opening and catch it on one of the impeller blades in the bottom of the disposal and twist so the disposal turns under the pressure. If it is a small object that is caught, the twist should free the disposal. Remove the broom and turn on the disposal. If the disposal wonít come on, turn off the switch and push the re-set button at the bottom of the disposal and turn on the switch again.

Mr. Fix-It can now be heard Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m. on 16Kicks (KCKK 1600) and AM 1570 in Loveland and Fort Collins. E-mail questions to Paul MacGregor at

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