General Maintenance Questions

Mica answers your general questions

Where do I find stage curtain tracks?

Mica stores do stock curtain rails but for a stage curtain, you would need a track that is far stronger. Try your local Mica first and see if they can identify a supplier for you.

If they cannot, then check your Yellow Pages directory for your area, and under the headings “Stage Erecting and Lighting” and “Stages & Staging”, and contact the companies that are listed there.

They will probably not be able to sell you the tracks you want, but they should be able to give you the name of companies that do make tracks for stage curtains.

What’s the easiest way to remove existing tiles?
Is there something that can weaken the grouting for easier removal?

Expect breakages; all you can really do is chip them out; some should come away without any damage, but there will be others that will crack and break. Wear leather gloves as the broken edges of tiles are sharp, stout shoes – for the same reason, and safety glasses, to protect you eyes from flying chips.

Tape a large drop cloth to the junction of the wall and floor so that whatever falls on the floor can be easily and quickly removed.

Where can I buy “Lazy Susan Bearings” for use in turntables?

My suggestion is chat to your local Mica store manager and check on what the store stocks. If that particular store does not stock them now, I am sure you could organise to have the appropriate units ordered for you. Failing that, you might also consider using the bearings used on TV stands; they will allow full rotation, and will bear quite a weight; again, see if your local Mica can place an order for you.

What is better to finish a wooden floor with?
Oil or varnish?

I would suggest that a varnish or sealer would be the better choice than oil as the latter would probably have to be repeated as it soaks into the wood over time. A varnish/sealer, on the other hand, is pretty long-lasting, though it can take a beating in high-traffic areas such as passageways. The other factor you should consider is the fact that should you drop any liquids on the floor, it is generally easier to clean up a varnished/sealed floor, whereas liquids falling on an oiled floor might seep into the wood and stain it.

Our toilet is clogged any ideas please

Mica stores do stock an item called the drill snake – it is very flexible shaft about 10mm in diameter that you insert through the drain. The rotating core is attached to a drill; the other end of the rotating core having a screw-like fitting that is designed to clear the obstruction. When the drill is turned on the flexible wire core rotates rapidly and the screw-like end clears the obstruction. If your local Mica does not have a drill snake in stock, they should be able to order one for you.

My parquet floors are stained. I need to restore it . What should I do to bring it back to life?

What you will need to do is remove the floor’s existing sealer/polish (you may need to apply a stripper, or may be able to sand it off) and then sand the floor until you have removed the stained areas. (See my answers to other question on the subject of sanding floors for advice on how to achieve the desired result.) Then vacuum thoroughly to pick up any sanding dust and apply the sealer of your choice (the staff in the paint department at your local Mica will be able to advise you as to the best product/s for this purpose).

Is there a product that cleans tile grouting i.e. restoring it to it’s original colour (especially for white grouting in bathrooms)?

Here are some cleaning/cleaner ideas for you:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of white vinegar to form a paste.
  2. Apply paste to dirty grout areas (depending on how large the grouted area is that needs to be cleaned, you might need to make more paste). Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. After the paste has penetrated, use the toothbrush or grout brush and scrub the areas to which you applied the paste.
  4. Rinse with a clean sponge and warm water.

If a particularly stubborn spot remains after rinsing, simply repeat the process and let the paste penetrate a bit longer, scrub and rinse.

Or

Make up this tile and grout cleaner; you can use it frequently without any health issues (but do not use it with chlorine bleach or where chlorine bleach has been used) and it works on soap deposits and when cleaning tile surfaces.

  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of ammonia
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 7 cups of water

Spray it on and then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth; you do not need to rinse it off.

Do you sell thermal paste?

Yes, most Mica stores should stock thermal paste. Please contact your closest Mica store and if there is a problem please contact Mica’s customer care centre (086 112 2114) and they will assist you.

How can I oil hinges without dripping excess oil on the carpet?

Tie a length of thin string or wool to the top hinge, loop it around the second hinge and then drap the end in the upturned lid of a jar or similar. Excess oil will flow down the string and into the lid. No mess.

How do I clean a fungus on the rough casted bathroom wall?
How do I prevent it from not happening again?

Concrete is porous, and mould on it can take many forms, and usually forms after water has seeped through the wall. In your case, however, I think it more likely that as the problem is in a bathroom, which is a very humid place, anyway, the fungus is able to thrive.

First of all, you need to get rid of the mould and you can do that by washing the walls down with a solution of four parts water to one part ordinary household bleach. You can also find specific products designed to combat mould – your local Mica will be able to advise you as to the right product.

Having removed all the mould, your best bet is to paint the surface with a good paint, with an anti-fungal additive; again, your local Mica will be able to advise you.

Having done all that, keeping the bathroom clear of mould is actually very easy.

Make sure you keep it well ventilated; open windows when showering or bathing, and leave them and the door open afterwards. That will allow the moist air to escape, and dry air to come in.

For a longer-term solution, you might need to waterproof the walls, inside and out, in order to seal them; again, your local Mica will be able to advise you.

Do you have any products that can be used instead of nails to hang paintings, as I do not want to damage the walls?

One can use adhesive cloth pads that have a built-in hook, but they are generally suitable only for small paintings and in any event how well they perform will depend on the surface on which they have been stuck. If the paint is not of a good quality or its adhesion is suspect, then it will simply pull away from the wall leaving an unsightly scar.

For heavier paintings, you possibly could use a heavy-duty mirror tape, but that will be difficult to remove should you leave the flat, and will probably require a reasonably large paint repair job to make good the surface.

I cannot think of any attachment method that will support heavier pictures other than by making a hole in the wall either using the small plastic hooks that have two, three or four tiny pins that penetrate the plaster, or, for a very heavy painting, a screw or nail driven into the wall.

That does mean that when you leave, you will have to remove the screw or nail and fill the hole, but that is usually very small and easy to make an invisible repair.

After much rain, vertical cracks now appeared in the corner of 2x walls and above 2x doors.
What can I use to repair this?

Filling them with a product such as Polyfilla Interior, available from your local Mica, would be a good choice. It is available in packs of 500g and 2kg cartons and 12kg paper bags, but you will find the 500g pack quite sufficient for the task at hand. Pour a tablespoonful or so of the filler powder into a clean container, such as a saucer, and add just enough water to create a thick but workable paste. If you add too much water, then simply add a little extra filler to thicken it up (if the filler is too wet, it will tend to ‘˜flow’.

Apply the filler to the cracks with a spatula, leaving it slightly proud (higher than) the surrounding wall. Allow time for the filler to dry, and then sand the excess off with 120 grit sandpaper. Then repaint the area.

I recently had the house painted and my wooden table was scratched from the moving around – any great ideas on how I can make it look new again?

It depends on how deep the scratches are, and the finish. If the table is painted and the scratches are not deep you should be able to hide them with two to three coats of paint to match the existing paint. If the scratches are deep, then you may have to fill them with wood iller, then sand, then paint. If the finish is varnish, then probably your only recourse would be to remove the existing varnish by using a stripping solution, and then sand the top to remove the scratches. Thereafter, you would then have to apply three coats of varnish, diluting the first coat by 10% with turpentine and sanding lightly between the second and last coats to key the surface.