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Building & Renovating

Experts Answer The Toughest Renovation Questions

Keep this guide handy for your next home project!

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Photography: Toto Labrador and Miguel Nacancieno (Main Photo)

From home repairs to interior design basics, the RL team and a couple of guest designers answer your questions sent via social media. You never know—you might find answers to your dilemmas here, too! Check them out below: 

On placing furniture in an enclosed den

Q: We have a family den that we love. The problem, however, is that there is either a door or staircase on each side and it is hard to arrange furniture without creating obstructions. How do I layout this space? 

A: Do you use all the openings? If not, you may temporarily close off some by covering the doors with cabinets. The walls may be utilized for desk and computer workspace. If, however, sealing off openings isn't possible, then you may focus on the center of the room for your workspace, and designate a few storage spaces that will not obstruct foot traffic. 

On painting tiles

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Q: I want to pait over my old kitchen tiles to update their look. What kind of paint should I use? 

A: Use an epoxy-based paint. Make sure to remove mildew from the tiles before painting. If the grout is cracked, repair it a week before you paint to avoid cracking.

On roofing for open garages

Q: What's the best roofing design for an open garage? 

A: The best roofing design actually depends on the existing roof of your main house. The new roof should complement the existing house design. A simple modern roof would always be the lean-to roof: this roof style straightforwardly puts rafters directly onto the post and lintel structure. 

On covering elevated terraces

Q: What's the best way to protect an open and elevated terrace during the rainy season? 

A: Install sliding glass and screen panels. You can keep the sliding glass panels open and just enclose the space with screen panels to protect you from insects. Or install adjustable wood louvers—these allow the air to circulate and you can control the light you want to enter your room. 

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On repainting concrete

Q: Do you have any repainting tips for concrete surfaces with old paint? We tried painting over it, but the paint flaked off after a few months. 

A: The flaking may have been caused by excessive humidity and moisture, the surface may not have been prepared properly, or the wall may not have been painted with oil-based paint and then painted over with latex. Use a putty knife to remove existing paint, sand thoroughly, and clean with mild soap and water before repainting. 

This snippet from ("50 Solutions to 50 Home Problems”) originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine.

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