Q: Is it better to paint old laminate-covered kitchen cabinets with the laminate still attached, or should we pull it off then paint? In some spots the laminate has lifted. I’m thinking I can re-glue these and secure them with some clamps.
A: Laminate is a thin, tough, flexible, attractive sheet material that’s often part of kitchen cabinets and I’m glad you asked this question. Removing the laminate from the cabinets could easily turn into a nightmare. Don’t do it. The danger is that the laminate might not come off completely (probably won’t), leaving ugly chunks behind. Even if all the pieces do come off without breaking into chunks, there’s almost certainly to be glue left behind that will make the surface of the cabinets rough and ugly, even under new paint. Regluing the loose laminate is a good start. This is definitely what I’d do. Wide pieces of masking tape are the best way to hold down the laminate while the glue dries. Major paint companies offer paint that’s meant to work on laminate, so that would be the way to go if you can find some. The trick is getting the paint to stick, so you don’t want to use just any old paint. You can also use 100 per cent acrylic latex paint on top of a 100 per cent acrylic latex primer. Degrease all surfaces with rubbing alcohol and sand moderately to boost paint adhesion before the primer goes down.
Installing a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Q: How should I rout the ducting for a bathroom exhaust fan I’m installing? I’m trying to decide if I should go through the wall or ceiling.
A: I’ve looked at the drawings you sent and they were helpful. I’m never crazy about putting anything through a roof when it’s not absolutely necessary, so I wonder if you’ve thought of any way to put the vent through the wall? That would be my choice. Besides retaining the integrity of your roof, having the vent go through the wall means it’s less likely you’ll have condensation developing within the duct and running back down into the fan during cold weather. Regardless of whether you go with a roof vent or wall vent, you’ll want to make use of flexible insulated ducting that includes a vapour barrier on the outside. Without this you’ll be plagued with condensation on the outside face of the duct during certain temperature conditions. As you plan, make the run of duct as short as possible to boost air movement. In my experience heavy aluminum foil tape works much better than duct tape for joining duct elements.
Cooling off the porch
Q: What’s the best way to insulate a screened-in porch with a tin roof? It gets way too hot under there during summer. The porch has 2×6 rafters with minimal slope.
A: In my experience insulation doesn’t solve problems like the one you’re having. Insulation helps, but you’ll still feel too hot. What works better is installing some openable skylights in the roof. When the heat can escape out of the top of the porch it really lets the space get cooler. The extra sunshine is great, too. As long as the openable windows in the walls of your porch are at least 20% of total wall area, openable skylights will make all the difference. Another advantage of going without insulation is the very real possibility that mice, flies, squirrels, chipmunks and other animals would move into the insulation and set up breeding colonies. I’ve seen these pests make terrible messes of insulation in situations such as yours. Painting the porch roof with radiant reflective paint will make the space cooler, too. Typically sold as “radiant barrier paint” this stuff works. I don’t think this would be sufficient on its own, but well worth doing.
Steve Maxwell is a big fan of fresh air, sunshine and ventilation. Visit him online at BaileyLineRoad.com for free access to thousands of articles and videos on home improvement and hands-on living.