Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Installing oak floorboards over tile

(ran HP, HC editions)

Question: I plan to install oak floorboards over old tile. Can I do it? I was concerned that the tiles might crack. Is that a problem?

Answer: Yes, you can apply boards over tile, which I assume is plastic. Even if they're vinyl asbestos, and they crack from nailing, the tongued-and-grooved boards seal in any loose asbestos fibers, particularly if you lay building paper or tar paper over the tiles first.

Leaching lime

Question: When I had a second story added, they extended the chimney through the attic and roof. Now I see lime leaching through the concrete blocks.

I would like to box in that chimney. Is that acceptable? Should I parge the chimney before boxing it in?

Answer: Yes to all questions, and that applies to the chimney in the attic and that part sticking out through the roof. The lime leaching out of the concrete blocks is efflorescence caused by water. It is harmless and difficult to prevent.

To parge (applying a bed or mortar to the chimney), first apply a bonding agent to the chimney, essential to prevent peeling of the mortar. Parging may not stop the efflorescence, but it may delay it. If the parging looks good, you can dispense with the boxing-in.

Film stuck on doors

Question: I bought three overhead steel insulated doors with an enamel finish and a poly film to keep them from being scratched. I hung the doors and left the film on through the winter. Now the film does not come off. I tried a heat gun, paint strippers and other solvents with no success.

I called the people who sold me the doors, and they said they never heard of the film not coming off. They also said that it is our problem. Can you help?

Answer: Their reaction is not great public relations even if it is your fault.

Mayonnaise or vinegar is used to take off the backing paper from acrylic, Plexiglas and other plastics so it should work for the film on painted steel doors. Any oil will do, but first try the vinegar.

Try to get the vinegar under the plastic film and pull the plastic off as you work more vinegar under it. It will be slow and tedious. Use a putty knife to pry up the film to get the vinegar underneath.

If the vinegar does not work, then use oil, trying to soften the film and working it under the film to try to break the cling and pull and apply oil as you go.

Oil will soften almost anything. When you apply it, let it sit on the material for 15 minutes before trying to work off the film.