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The Independent Online

Q. Dear Alice, I have just painted my front door, and the results are terrible - it looks patchy, uneven and has visible drips. I did sand it roughly, before using a primer and two coats of gloss. How can I remedy this?
Mark Griffin, Acton

Q. Dear Alice, I have just painted my front door, and the results are terrible - it looks patchy, uneven and has visible drips. I did sand it roughly, before using a primer and two coats of gloss. How can I remedy this?
Mark Griffin, Acton

A. Gloss painting is tricky, especially on surfaces such as a door. Once the paint starts to go "off", it becomes tacky and brush marks tend to show. Also, no matter how careful you are, as soon as you put away your brush, a ghastly dribble often manifests itself. Try sanding the drips with medium-grade sandpaper, then rub down the whole door with a fine grade paper. Then apply a second top coat, using gloss diluted with white spirit (two parts paint to one part spirit). If you want the ultimate finish, allow the paint to dry for 36 hours, rub down a third time with fine paper, and finish with another coat of gloss, this time diluted 1:1 with white spirit. You can even continue, rubbing and diluting the paint a little more each time. Your door will be the shiniest in the street.

Q. As a 15th birthday present for my daughter I would like to create a noticeboard in her bedroom where she can attach all her Post-its and reminders. Is there an alternative to cork? Ruth Basler, Pickering

A. Something more glam and subtle occurs to me. First, work out where you want the noticeboard to go; it could be a wide strip around the bedroom or one part of the wall. Carefully apply two coats of magnetic paint (£9.99, from Tridias, 0870 443 1300), and then add a layer of eggshell paint in the same colour as the wall. For a lovely finish, stencil on calendar numbers or days of the week with a stencil kit (from www.stencil-library.com). It's a grown-up version of the ugly cork noticeboard - even if your daughter does cover it with McFly posters.

Q. Dear Alice, I've picked up two crystal decanters from an antique sale, but they're so ingrained with red wine that I can't get them clean however much I brush them. Is there a special product I can use?
Anne Mills, Kilburn

A. Not so much a special product, Anne, as any granny's good old-fashioned solution for cleaning stubborn stains off false teeth: Steradent. Simply dissolve a tablet in the decanter, wait for about 12 hours, and all the tannins and ingrained residues of the wine will miraculously melt away, leaving a sparklingly clean finish. You may need to repeat again with another tablet after a day or so.

Design dilemma? E-mail askalice@independent.co.uk

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