Share this article

print logo

Super Handyman: Facing vertical surface stains

I just soaked up an oil stain on my garage floor with some kitty litter. It works really well, and it’s my go-to method for this type of mess. But how can you use this remedy on a vertical surface? All you need to do is create a little pocket from a piece of plastic. Tape the pocket to the wall, and fill it with your kitty litter, cornmeal or whatever absorbent you want to use. In this case, the more lightweight the material you use, the better. Just leave it in place until the grease or oil is all absorbed. After that, you can remove the pocket and powder, and brush off the surface.


Q: Here’s my question. We are going to be putting in a wooden deck this fall. I’ve decided to use standard lumber, and have heard from someone that it makes a difference which way the boards are set onto the framework.

Do you know about this “rule”? Which side goes up, and how can you tell the difference? – R.C.

A: If you look at the end of the wood, you can see that the “rings” of the tree are still evident. They will curve just a little in one direction. You want to see the upper part of the curve at the top of the deck surface. This also is known as the “bark side.”

This will prevent some of the warping that naturally will occur in the wood.

Tips from readers

I’m on a tight budget, but I wanted to have a cute metal border around my front flower garden. I bought some very inexpensive metal wire fencing and then painted it copper. It looks really cute, and I’ve even noticed that it is starting to “age” and turn green in some areas. It’s cool-looking and really inexpensive to do. – V.T.


I added more storage to some of my drawers. My office drawer is deep, so it had a lot of wasted space. I installed some trim pieces about 2 inches from the top of the drawer sides and then cut a piece of thin plywood that is about half the size of the inside of the drawer, and it sits on top of this trim. I keep small organizers on this and can fill them with all sorts of things. I think I will do this in some of my kitchen drawers, too. – G.S.


I just used a helpful trick that I’ve done for years. It still works like a charm every time. I was keeping my neighbor’s dog for the weekend and, after a little rain, he was very stinky! I poured a bowl of vinegar and set it on the bar in our family room. After a few hours, I noticed that the smell was gone. It worked well, and I even used the same vinegar to clean some mineral deposits on the front of our refrigerator after it had taken care of Bingo’s bad smell. – R.Z.

A super hint

When it comes to cleaning, don’t forget about the canned air that you can buy at the computer store. It’s amazing for cleaning vents and other hard-to-clean areas like that. Keep a can handy.

Super HandyMom tip

I installed a heavy-duty hook into the end of my wooden mop handle. It makes it easy to hang it up in the utility room, but it’s also great for getting to my hanging baskets when I want to move them. I can put a duster on the end so I can reach the cobwebs around my ceiling fixtures that are in the tall entryway of our house. I also use it to hang my bird feeders higher in the trees.


If you need to protect a vehicle from damage on rocky roads or other rough terrain, check out Rock Guard. It’s a spray-on temporary coating that is crystal-clear and will protect the paint job from chipping and getting scratched by rocks, brush and other debris. You can peel it off later if you wish. To find out more, go to or your auto supply shop.