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Robert Lamoureux: Shower stalls can be refinished with polyurethane

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 9, 2009 10:51 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Hi Robert,
I really enjoy your daily column. I am a retired senior, who wants to continue living in my own home as long and possible. I have been slowly taking care of needed repairs and now I really need my shower stall in my master bedroom remodeled. I tried to use the epoxy method myself a couple of years ago and it worked for awhile, but now it is yellowing and I tried to clean it, but to no avail.
Can you suggest an inexpensive way that I might have done, that would last about 10 years? I would appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you.
Gerrie C.

Hi Gerrie,
I would recommend that you call a company called Cermacoat. They have several local offices but their central location is in Van Nuys. They can be reached at (800) 789-2284.

Their refinishing process applies a polyurethane coating to the tub, sink or countertop, which dries in 48 hours. When finished, your surfaces look brand new.

You want to be careful in using only a nonabrasive, soft scrub cleanser like Scrubbing Bubbles with the new surface or it will scratch.

Hi Robert,
I read your column almost every week. My question is, I know the air condition season is almost over for the most part. The winter is coming, so the wife and I are planning to be here a long time. The house is about 1,700 to 1,900 sq feet. I was reading about the 13 SEER system. Does that include heating also, or just air?
I guess my question is which brand would you recommend and who would be a good contractor to have install the unit? Also, what would be a good price? Thanks.
Larry A.

Hi Larry,
The 13 SEER system you were reading about includes only the condenser for air conditioning. As you know, the higher the SEER - Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the more efficient it is - the less it costs to cool your home. Another way to look at this would be 13 SEER = 13 BTU / Watt Hour. That means this unit will provide 13 BTUs per watt hour of operation. A 10 SEER would be less efficient because using the same amount of energy - the same Watt Hours, it is only producing 10 BTUs of cooling as compared to 13 BTUs. The 13 is more efficient than the 10 SEER, but nowhere near as efficient as the 22 SEER systems that can be custom ordered today.

Many people think that the bigger the A/C unit, the better, but this is not the case. The air conditioner not only needs to cool the air in the room but to also dehumidify the air in the room.

If the unit is too large, the room will cool and the unit will shut down before the air is dry. For your home between 1,700 and 1,900 sq. ft., you would want somewhere between 24,000 and 27,000 BTUs. Anywhere from 500 to 1000 sq. ft. can be cooled with a one ton unit (or 12,000 BTUs) but this depends on many factors such as quality of insulation, ceiling height, how much direct sunlight hits the house, how many occupants in the house, etc.

I don't really have a preference of one A/C manufacturer over another but I would suggest going with one of the major companies like Carrier. They have a wonderful reputation.

For the installation, one of the most talented A/C guys in Los Angeles is Jim Turner at (562) 322-6127.
As far as a good price is concerned, again there are many factors involved.

Would you be happy with the 13 SEER or something higher? How many tons are you looking to install? How many tons are currently in place? Are you going to replace a like for like? Do you have a split system where you have an air handler and an outside condenser? If the condenser is three tons and you need to go to a five ton, then you need to replace the air handler to be compatible with that tonnage.

Whenever you are making any changes, you want to stay with the same manufacturer.

Hi Robert,
Several years ago I did a lot of concrete work around my house. Whenever the concrete would butt up to the house, I used half inch felt as a buffer for expansion. Now the felt is starting to deteriorate in several areas. Can you tell me the best way to fix these pockets and voids? Thanks for your help.
John G.

Hi John,
Cut it out, use backer rod and then fill it with a single stage epoxy like Sikaflex or Silica, whichever you prefer.
The reason you use backer rod is to create a smaller space so you're not filling a 4 inch gap with epoxy. You can also use sand, but I prefer the rod. It's easier to work with and doesn't move.

Hi Robert,
I am working on my first job as a contractor. Every possible thing that could go wrong has so far. The owner is now asking for an "unconditional waiver and release." Is this something that I should give them? Thank you.

Hi M.L.,
Congratulations. It will get better.

Are your clients asking for an unconditional or a conditional waiver and release? You can get either one at any stationary supply shop or online.

I would not give anyone an unconditional release. You would then have little to no recourse should they decide not to pay you.

It is, however, absolutely fine to provide a "Conditional Waiver and Release Upon Final Payment form." These typically read something like, "Upon receipt by the undersigned of a check from _____ in the sum of _____ payable to _____and when the check has been properly endorsed and has been paid by the bank upon which it is drawn, this document shall become effective to release any mechanic's lien, stop notice, or bond right the undersigned has on the job of _____located at _____." It is just an additional contract that is presented to make sure that everything is on the table and is just good business.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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