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Home truths

Home truths
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First Published: Wed, Feb 11 2009. 10 32 PM IST

Updated: Wed, Feb 11 2009. 10 32 PM IST
If you live in a multi-storey building, is it necessary to carry out anti-termite treatment? Also, do you need to repeat the procedure?
Termites need a dark, damp environment to feed on wood. The old theory that termites do not travel far (vertically) from the ground is partially true. They can reach great heights if their density is high enough. Using the (often) damp plumbing and AC shafts, they build their tunnels in the space between the exposed pipes and the wall of the shaft. They travel one floor at a time: colonizing, feeding, building strength and then moving ahead. Once inside the building, they are very difficult to control. They move quickly to a safe floor as soon as you get your house treated, only to return when the effects of the chemicals have faded. Periodic annual treatment is always recommended for a safe and clean house. Inexpensive ceramic tiles on the wall behind the cupboards (below the counter) help to reduce the impact of the dampness.
What is the difference between ply and plywood? Is plywood good for kitchens as well?
Plywood is made of several sheets of plies fused with each other with the help of adhesive. Each ply is a thick wood shaving (a fraction of a millimetre) achieved by rolling a round wood log against a long sharp blade—just think of the shavings when we sharpen a pencil. The water- and termite-resistant properties of plywood are derived from the type of adhesive used. Plywood thickness can range from 2mm (three-four sheets) or more (on special order) and is dictated by the number of sheets of plies used. The outer ply (skin) dictates the external finish of the plywood. In case teak or any other decorative wood shaving is used as the external ply, the plywood will be called teak ply/veneers. Else, it is simply called commercial ply.
Blockboards, on the other hand, are more commonly used for making cupboards. These 200mm thick (or more) boards are made by sandwiching waste wood pieces between two layers of 3-4mm thick plywood.
Greenwood, National and Donear are three reputed brands. You should use water- and termite-resistant blockboard to make the frame of the cupboards, while ¾th inch-thick plywood will do very well for shutters.
How can you keep ceramic tiles free from grime?
Use a slightly abrasive material such as Scotch Brite to sponge the surface with a solution of water softener (5 tbsp) in 300ml of hot water. Pumice stones or metal mesh will leave scratches and should be avoided.
Alternatively, you could rinse the surface with a solution of trisodium phosphate (1-2 tbsp in 2 litres of hot water). Used lemon peels will also do but restrict their use to small areas such as chrome taps, hardware and accessories as cleaning with peels takes too much time and effort. Wipe dry at the end of each process.
How can you get rid of white stains that appear on taps?
The stains on the tap are residues of soluble salts and chemicals present in the water when it evaporates. This type of water is often referred to as hard water. These stains will reappear as long as the water is allowed to evaporate on the given surface. Though highly impractical, the best way to resolve this issue is to mop dry all moisture after each use. Alternatively, you could also use a light acid, such as a lemon peel, to clean old stains once a week. Connecting water softeners to your system could be another solution but it could eat up into your space and requires regular servicing.
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First Published: Wed, Feb 11 2009. 10 32 PM IST
More Topics: Termites | Environment | Feed | Wood | AC shafts |