Tsang Chi Fan
Christie's Hong Kong
Paola Dindo & Associates
RC Landscape Specialists
The grouting between my bathroom tiles and the silicone around the sink and bath are loose in places. How do I renew them?
Mark Fraser replies: Using a utility knife, can opener or ideally a specially designed grout saw, scrape out all the loose grout and remove all the silicone seals. Mix a new batch of grout ($45/2kg bag) according to the manufacturer's instructions, then fill in all the gaps with a sponge or squeegee held at a 45-degree angle. Using the handle of an old toothbrush, smooth along the grout joints, then clean off any excess grout from the tiles before it dries. Once dry, polish the tiles with a damp cloth.
To create new seals, carefully run a bead of silicone around the sink and bath using a silicone gun. Before it cures, steadily run a wet finger along the top of the silicone to create a smooth seal. Don't press too hard. If you have sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves and don't use the bath or sink until the silicone is fully cured. All tools and materials are available from Yuen Fat Ho (77 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2546 8020).
The panel on the side of my bathtub is looking worse for wear. Any ideas on what I could replace it with and how I'd go about it?
Tania Chow replies: First make sure the side panel isn't supporting the bathtub. Then if there's an existing panel to access the piping and drainage inside, make sure adequate access is duplicated in the replacement.
Once these elements have been established, almost any material can be used. Start off with a plywood panel to form a base upon which decoration can be applied. You can buy funky mosaic tiles in a range of colours from the shops along Lockhart Road in Wan Chai. They come in ready-mounted square-feet sheets and cost from $20 to $60 each.
Or for a completely different look, cover the panel with classic tongue and groove. Get a professional carpenter to install it as even small mistakes can look disastrous. Several coats of paint and lacquer sealant should keep it sufficiently waterproofed, but make sure all the outer edges are well sealed and varnished to prevent water seeping through the wood.
Mirrored glass would be a chic alternative, but make sure you mount it onto plywood rather than use it on its own. Have the panels cut to size by a glazier and ask him to drill holes in the corners for fixing.
I'm a pop-art fanatic and would like to create a bold image made up of smaller individual images, like big pixels. How do I do this?
Paola Dindo replies: First decide on the image you'd like to create. You could choose an image from a magazine, or take one of your own photographs and reproduce it in the simple style of pop art, with bold outlines and flat colours.
Decide on the size of the overall image and how many individual segments you'd like it to have (allow for the gaps in between). Too many will be tricky and time-consuming, so go for perhaps three vertical segments, four quarters, or nine at the most (three by three).
Get your local timber merchant to cut plywood to size, then sand down rough edges. Prepare some plaster and apply one thin layer with a plastic spatula to fill in the grain. Allow to dry, sand, then apply another layer on top. This is dusty work, so put down lots of protective sheets and work in a well-ventilated area or outside. Finally, apply a layer of oil-based eggshell paint and allow to dry.
If you're not confident, have your chosen image enlarged to the same size as your entire 'canvas' (Ma King Kee Diazo Printing Company, tel: 2544 2393, does enlargements). Push the tiles together, trace the image onto the enlarged canvas and fill in with oil colours. Allow to dry then finish with a layer of clear varnish if desired (available from Sam & Co, tel: 2525 9607).