Get tips on cutting electric bills with energy efficient holiday displays, including LED lights. Learn the pros and cons of fresh Christmas trees versus their artificial counterparts. Discover the secrets to bringing new life to old furniture by refinishing it. Find out about a paint that dries to a flexible and waterproof finish, perfect for basement walls. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, cleaning pine walls, paneling, soundproofing a room, central AC noise, siding and hardwood flooring options, installing skylights.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement questions, your décor questions, your remodeling questions. Maybe you want to add on, maybe you want to move but you’ve got to fix up your house first. Wondering what improvements give you the best return on investment? All great questions. Pick up the phone and ask us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And if you’re like millions of Americans right now, you are probably getting ready to deck the halls of your home with lighting to pick up that full holiday glory. But the problem with all of that holiday glory is it is immediately followed by sky-high electric bills that can make you crankier than the Grinch on Christmas Eve. So, it’s a good time to think about the more energy-efficient options out there and there are a lot of them. And we’re going to give you a few ideas, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And while you’re decorating, are you debating between a real Christmas tree and an artificial one? Well, there are pros and cons to both, like the needles and the mess of a live tree versus the assembly, storage and very non-greenness of having an artificial tree. We’re going to have some tips ahead to help you make the best holiday-décor decisions.
TOM: And most importantly, we want to talk to you this hour about your home improvement projects. That’s why we’re making it possible to get the answer to your question and a truly amazing giveaway this hour: over $220 worth of hand tools from our friends at Stanley, including a magnetic measuring tape and a stud sensor.
LESLIE: And it’s for sensing wall studs, ladies. Let’s not get too excited. I know it’s the holiday season and maybe you’ve got a handsome man on your Christmas list. But come on now.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Terry in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TERRY: Well, when you are putting pipe in, let’s say underground, and supply line/water pipe and you come across a barrier or something you had that you have to go over or go under, can you – and this is a question I had when I went to the store – was can you heat the pipe and bend it? That still work? I wasn’t sure.
TOM: Well, depends on the type of plastic pipe you’re using. Most water-supply pipes are flexible ABS plastic pipes today and they can bend quite a bit.
If you’re talking about a PVC pipe where it’s flexible but very stiff, then you can easily break it. You can bend that and I’ll give you a trick of the trade to do it and that is – and you don’t want to do a lot of this. But what you can do is you can fill the pipe with sand. And fill the pipe with sand first and then you can heat it. And you can use a heat tape to kind of get it warm and gently bend it.
TOM: And the reason you’re putting – you’re filling the pipe with sand is because when you bend the pipe, it’s going to tend to collapse on itself. But if you put sand in it, it won’t be able to collapse on itself and it tends to hold the pipe open as you bend that angle that you need. So there’s a little trick of the trade for that.
LESLIE: Susan in Georgia is on the line with a cleaning question. How can we help you today?
SUSAN: Hi. My husband and I have purchased a 1920 Craftsman house.
TOM: That’s a beautiful home.
SUSAN: Oh, it is stunning. Well, it will be. It’s been neglected and all the interior walls that we’ve exposed so far have antique heartwood pine.
SUSAN: And so my question is not only cleaning, it’s kind of threefold. First, I need to clean it – it hasn’t been cleaned in years – and what is the best way to do that? As well as – after I clean it, I was thinking – what is the best way to restore it – the wood is dry – and maintain it?
TOM: So, when you say “restore it,” do you want to refinish these pine walls?
SUSAN: Yes, I do.
SUSAN: They are – I mean they’re – it’s antique heartwood pine – I mean they’re – they can be really, really pretty.
TOM: Yeah, they can be.
SUSAN: But because the house has some – it had old, coal fireplaces, so they are just really grungy.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
LESLIE: So they’re dirty.
TOM: Well, I would say clean it first; then we know how much more work you have to do.
SUSAN: What do you clean it with?
TOM: Well, because it’s wood, you can’t use a lot of moisture. But I would try something like Murphy’s Oil Soap.
SUSAN: And that’s OK to do on unfinished wood?
TOM: Yeah. Doesn’t it – it probably has some sort of base finish on it, does it not?
SUSAN: No, it does not.
TOM: It has no finish on it at all.
SUSAN: No. We actually – when we purchased the house, they had put up wallpaper on it and it was an old …
LESLIE: Directly on top of it?
TOM: New idea. If it’s completely unfinished, then you’re going to have to sand it. So I would start with one section and I would lightly sand it and see where it goes. I would use a medium grit, like a 100-, 150-grit and take it from there.
Now, I would sand it very carefully by hand to start with, just to kind of see what I’m working with. If it looks like it’s going to work out for you, then I would definitely rent or even buy – they’re not that expensive – a vibrating sander. And you …
SUSAN: I actually tried sanding it in one area that’s going to be a water-heater closet and it didn’t work so well. There is so much, I guess, tannic acid or – in it. It wasn’t working very well.
TOM: If you want to try cleaning it with something else that’s a little more heavy-duty, you could try TSP. And since you’ve got this water-heater closet, this could be your experimental room.
TOM: But you could use trisodium phosphate, which is something that you can buy in a home center. It’s usually near the wallpaper and paint section.
LESLIE: In the paint prep.
TOM: And you mix it up with water and it’s pretty good at pulling stuff out of – pulling stains out of things. But I’ve never used it on raw wood. I don’t see why you couldn’t give it a try, though.
SUSAN: Yeah. It hasn’t – it actually – you know, I didn’t know if mineral spirits or …
TOM: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That’s going to do nothing but set it. I would try the TSP but if that doesn’t work, you’re just going to have to sand this.
SUSAN: OK, that’s fine.
TOM: And you’re going to sand enough to eventually cut through it. It’s not black all the way through, so eventually you’re going to cut through to fresh wood.
TOM: And then once you sand it, what you’re probably going to do is stain it and that’ll even out the color. So I would use a Minwax stain – an oil-based Minwax stain – and I would stain it to even out the color. And then I would finish it with a clear finish.
SUSAN: Perfect. You have answered my question and I’m so glad I talked to you. I didn’t realize the mineral spirits would set it. So, thank you, guys, so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Susan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We know it’s the holiday season and you’ve probably got a lot going on at your money pit, so let us help you check a couple of those things off your to-do list. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, thanks in part to all the holiday lighting being used right now, it’s not unusual to see electric bills spike this time of year. But that holiday décor doesn’t have to drive up those energy bills. We’re going to tell you how you can save throughout the entire season, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your décor dilemma. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a combo pack of hand tools from Stanley. It’s worth more than $220 and among all the goodies in this terrific basket is the FatMax 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Rule, which now has a very powerful, rare-earth magnet to make sure you can grab onto exactly what you want to measure and a very comfortable, cushioned, no-slip grip.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the FatMax 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Rule is just one of the many gift home improvement ideas that we are recommending in The Money Pit’s Holiday Gift Guide, which is online right now at MoneyPit.com. And it’s presented by our friends at Stanley Tools.
TOM: So give us a call right now – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Andrew in Idaho is on the line needing some ways to soundproof a room. Tell us what room. What’s going on?
ANDREW: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
ANDREW: I’m having some problems. I’ve got four roommates. We’re all friends.
TOM: And you want to stay that way.
ANDREW: Yeah. And I just got a new job. I work at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
TOM: Oh, man.
ANDREW: A lot of them stay up until 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
ANDREW: And I was just wondering if there was any quick and efficient ways I can soundproof, say, my bedroom to be able to sleep at night.
TOM: Yeah, now, where is your room in relation to the noise? Are you like at the end of the hall or anything like that or – tell us about it.
ANDREW: We’ve got three steps; there’s three different levels.
ANDREW: And I’m in the tallest level. You walk down a flight of stairs; they’re mostly in the living room. And then if you take another corner from going down those stairs, you’ll go into their rooms.
TOM: OK. So, sound transmits, as you know, pretty quickly and pretty aggressively. If you want to quiet it in your room and you’re willing to do a little bit of work, you can make it a lot softer by improving the walls.
There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to use a product called Green Glue, where you essentially put the glue on the walls and then put a second layer of drywall on top of that. And that second layer, with the Green Glue in between, sort of isolates it.
That said, it’s expensive to – because you need 2 tubes of Green Glue for every 4x8 sheet of drywall and we’re talking about these big tubes, not the little caulk tubes. The ones that are humungous. And so you put a lot of Green Glue and a lot of drywall and of course, you’ve got to spackle, you’ve got to paint; you’ve got to do all that. That’s the first way to do it.
The second way to do it is to use a product called QuietRock, which is kind of like a laminated drywall that already has the glue sort of in it and whatever else they do to stop sound transmission. And again, with that you put a second layer on your existing walls.
And the QuietRock is about, what, 35, 40 bucks a sheet, Leslie? Something like that?
LESLIE: Yeah, it – I mean it’s pricey but it does the trick.
LESLIE: Andrew, are you renting?
ANDREW: It’s kind of hard to explain. One of the couples just got married and they bought this house.
ANDREW: And they’re – I’m renting the room, technically.
TOM: How do you feel about improving their house, even though you’re a renter?
ANDREW: They’re fine with it, because they’re wanting to do the same thing for their rooms, so …
TOM: OK. Yeah.
ANDREW: For the Green Glue, do we have to worry about texture?
TOM: No, no, no. It’s all in between.
LESLIE: Well, that goes in between the two sheets of drywall.
LESLIE: It sort of acts as the sound barrier behind that new sheet of drywall that you’re putting on. If you go with the QuietRock, which is the second option, you don’t need that Green Glue but you are adding a second layer of drywall.
TOM: Right. Now, there’s one other important thing I have to mention, Andrew, and that’s this: technically, to soundproof a room, you really need to get to the electrical boxes and other penetrations of the wall from behind it, from the inside. And of course, that’s impossible to do in a finished house.
So even though you’re going to quiet it, you’re not going to do as good a job as you could because if the wall was wide open, you’d go from the back side and you would be wrapping the electrical boxes that are special, almost like a clay-like kind of a material that you press around the box with the QuietRock, that seals in all of those gaps so that no sound gets through there.
So you can’t do everything but you can do a pretty good job.
ANDREW: OK. Yeah, we were just wanting to do a little bit of changing just so people talking in the living room and stuff, it won’t come into the bedrooms.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, unfortunately, it’s not a simple fix; it’s basically taking all your stuff out of your room and redrywalling the whole thing. You can put heavy drapes up, you can put carpets on the walls, hang wall coverings, things that like that will soften it from a décor perspective. But realistically …
LESLIE: But it’s not going to do what you really want it to do.
ANDREW: Well, I will definitely look into that Green Glue. I do have some sheetrock experience.
TOM: Alright. Well, then, maybe it’s a good project for you. It’s either that or earplugs, my friend, OK?
ANDREW: Alrighty. Thank you, guys.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, the high-powered holiday displays really do add a lot to the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, they also add a lot to your electricity bill. So, here’s a few ideas that you can take to cut that bill down to size.
First of all, track the energy that you’re actually going to use. A smart meter can tell you exactly how and where your electric usage is coming from. And once you know, you can decide what to cut. You know, maybe that giant, singing Santa just might not be worth all of that once you find out exactly how much it costs to operate him.
TOM: Yeah. And your neighbors will appreciate you not running it 24-7, too.
LESLIE: Seriously. Your neighbors will be like, “Thank God you got rid of the thing.”
Next, you also want to use light strings that have LED bulbs in them. Now, they may cost a little more upfront but they’re going to last much longer and they’re going to save a ton of energy. And next year, you won’t be searching for that one loose bulb that always kills the whole darn string.
TOM: And it’s also a good idea to always use a timer for your lights and your other decorations. This way, the lights come on after dark and they go off at the same time each day. And it eliminates the need to remember to turn them off for the night.
And if all else fails, you can take a different direction. Think about using more non-electric items, like wreaths and bows and garlands and then illuminate them with big LED spotlights. So instead of the hundreds of smaller lights, you can just put a couple of nice spotlights on your house and that looks very pleasant, as well, and it doesn’t use nearly as much energy.
If you’d like some more energy-saving ideas for the holiday, just visit MoneyPit.com and search for “energy-efficient holiday lighting.”
LESLIE: Britt in California is on the line and needs some help with a skylight. What can we do for you?
BRITT: My husband and I are considering putting in the skylights in our home.
BRITT: OK. Are we better off to put a round skylight? A square skylight? Are we better off to put it toward the middle of the roof line or at where it’s opened up on the deck?
TOM: OK. So you have a couple of options with skylights.
First of all, you can use a physical skylight, which is a hole in your roof with a glass skylight inserted into it. There’s another type of skylight kind of thing: it’s called a “sun tunnel.” It’s a lot easier to install. And basically you put in this tube that goes into the roof and opens up the roof. And then you connect a flex duct from it down to the ceiling of the room that you want to light and that actually brings a lot of natural light into the room. It’s called a “sun tunnel.” So you have skylight or sun tunnel.
A sun tunnel is going to be a lot less expensive than a skylight. If you’re going to go with the skylight, you probably want to – you have to position it in the room where it’s going to look the best, so that would probably be in the middle. But the expense is creating the light shaft; that’s what you create, you construct from the point of the roof, down to the ceiling level. And that’s kind of the more expensive, complicated part about putting the skylight in. Cutting it through the roof is really pretty easy.
What I would recommend is that you use a good-quality skylight. I like Andersen skylights, Pella skylights, VELUX – V-E-L-U-X. All good-quality skylights because they’re curbed: they sit up off the roof and they have flashing that makes the seal between the skylight and the roof itself.
And I’ve had, for example, a VELUX – a V-E-L-U-X – skylight that’s been in my house for 20-plus years. Never had a problem with leaking through many a storm. So it’s definitely worth putting in a good-quality skylight but those are your options. I hope that helps you out and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rika from rainy Oregon on the line looking to replace some siding. How can we help you?
RIKA: Hi. I’m calling to see if you can recommend the best siding for our climate.
RIKA: We’re out here in the Northwest where we get a lot of rain and wind. And our T1-11, the paint has been peeling off and it’s starting to kind of disintegrate.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. It’s a high-maintenance siding, T1-11. And if you’re not familiar with it, for those that are listening, that’s a plywood siding. And it’s OK as long as you paint it every day before you go to work; otherwise, it does wear out quite quickly.
LESLIE: Now, when you’re talking about wind, Rika, are you saying that you get like super-duper-duper high winds like hurricane conditions? Like we should be looking at a certain mile-per-hour rating or just normal rainy/windy?
RIKA: I mean we did have one hurricane out here, so it survived through that and stuff.
TOM: You know what the nice thing about T1-11 is, though? It makes a really good sheathing. You don’t have to take it off to put siding over it.
LESLIE: Should you paint it and seal it and make sure it’s in good, coated condition?
TOM: No, no, no. You’re not going to rely on its weather resistance whatsoever; you’re just going to go right on top of it. So you could put a building paper or a Tyvek or something like that and go right over it.
And the kind of siding that I think is probably one of the most weather-resistant sidings out there is a siding called HardiePlank, which is a siding that’s a cementitious type of a siding product. It’s molded. It can look like clapboard, it can look like wood cedar shingles. I’ve got an 1886 house, Rika, and I’ve got on my house real, old-fashioned wood shingles on the house and on the garage, we have HardiePlank. And I’ve got to tell you, from the street, they pretty much look identical.
TOM: Because the HardiePlank is just so well-made and it has that appearance of being like an old shingle. But it’s not organic; it’s not wood, so it doesn’t fall apart. And we actually ordered them from the factory primed and painted, so it was a little bit more money but so worth it. Because when you factory-paint this stuff, you just do so much better of a job than you can possibly do on-site itself. So, I would definitely look at HardiePlank siding that’s made by the James Hardie Company as one of the options.
RIKA: OK. Thank you.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, what is one of the most water-resistant materials around? Rubber. Up next, we’re going to tell you about a high-tech paint that dries to a flexible, rubberized finish, which makes it impermeable. That is absolutely perfect for retaining walls and water features, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellent and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations. www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, one of the most common questions we get asked here on The Money Pit is about wet basements. It’s probably the most frustrating homeowner dilemma that we get asked about all the time and we frequently tell you to waterproof from the outside in and from the top down, starting with the right grading, clearing downspouts and gutters and so on. But there is another step.
LESLIE: That’s right. Once you’ve done all of the usual suspects, there’s actually something else you can do: it’s adding a layer of protection, which is a great idea. And that’s where our next guest comes in. Pete Cary is from Ames Research and he’s got a couple of ideas and unique products that can help you with your wet-basement woes.
Pete, thanks for joining us.
PETE: Oh, thank you, Leslie. Thank you, Tom. Glad to be here.
TOM: So, Pete, a lot of folks suffer wet basements and they do all the things they should do from the outside: they clean their gutters, they extend their downspouts. But there’s still just a lot of dampness and a lot of humidity and moisture in the soil. And I think that’s where your product comes in. It’s called Ames’ Blue Max and I’d like to speak with you about the technology, because this is a lot different than any other traditional, basement wall paint that’s out there, correct?
PETE: Very much so. You bring up a very good point. It’s always ideal if you can waterproof from the positive or the exterior side. That’s not always possible, because there could be a driveway, a patio or another section of a house you just simply can’t excavate.
So that’s where Ames’ Blue Max comes in. It actually – the technology of Ames’ Blue Max is a flexible, highly adhesive rubber that allows you to waterproof on the interior or the negative side of the wall, so that the coating – the Blue Max – is highly adhesive and will not lift, blister or bubble. Yet it remains flexible, unlike a lot of the old technology that’s been out for many years that’s brittle. This is a flexible technology.
In fact, I think I sent you folks a cured sample of the Blue Max prior to our talking here. And as you may recall, you may have grabbed it and stretched that. And if you stretch it out and then lay it down, it will contract back to its original size.
TOM: Yeah, that’s really interesting, because a lot – as you say, there are a lot of products out there that you apply to walls. And then what happens is the moisture wicks through the walls and it tends to lift the paint off the walls. So I think what’s unique about this Blue Max technology is that you’ve got the adhesion part of this down. So you’ve really figured out how to deal with the subsurface, get it to really grab on and then stay there and waterproof kind of all at the same time.
PETE: Yeah. To give you kind of an example, when we do the International Builders’ Show or the World of Concrete show, we take cinderblocks and stack them up about 5 feet high and 5 feet wide. We dry-stack them; we put no mortar between the blocks at all. We just dry-stack them. And we just coat the seams on each side of that wall, let it dry. It dries in about two hours. When that dries, you can rock that wall back and forth. That shows you the strength and the bonding capability and the adhesion of the Blue Max. That’s the key that it will keep it from lifting, blistering or bubbling even on the negative side of the wall.
But the homeowner simply doesn’t have to do every seam; they just roll on two coats. Roll it on with a standard paint roller, let it dry and then roll on a second coat and they’re done.
TOM: Interesting product. And you say it dries to an 800-percent elastic membrane. Does that mean you can stretch it eight times its dried size and it snaps back?
PETE: Yeah, exactly. You can take a cured, stretched sample of it about 2 to 3 feet long and stretch it clear across the room. Get two people: one person on each end. And then when you lay it down, it contracts back to its original size.
We’re talking to Pete Cary. He’s the vice-president of sales and marketing for Ames. And one of their products is called Ames’ Blue Max and it’s a very special, high-strength blend of liquid rubber that will be incredibly effective on your basement walls, to try to damp-proof them and waterproof them and keep moisture from getting back into that space.
Pete, you also have a product that’s designed for roofs. And I’ve gotten – I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and always used to diagnose carefully those flat roofs that are out there. And flat roofs are great until they’re not, right? And they leak and it becomes very difficult to find the cause of that.
Now, the maintenance of the flat roof, one of the recommendations we always had was to add a coating – a UV-reflective coating – like a fibrous aluminum paint that would sort of reflect some of the heat away and protect that roof. You guys have a product that does really two things: it has that reflective capability but it also is effective at sealing those small holes that form. And it’s called Maximum-Stretch Elastomeric Roof Coating. So tell me about that.
PETE: Exactly. Maximum-Stretch Elastomeric Roof Coating is a rubber-and-acrylic blend of coating. It’s 98-percent reflective, so it’s going to reflect the UVs and extend the life of the primary roof. But the rubber component, also, in there will withstand ponding water better on an improperly drained or low-sloped, cracked or alligatored tar roof, 90-pound mineral cap sheet, what-have-you. We even have a system for doing EPDM rubber roofs.
But it’s – we have a preventative-maintenance component in the Maximum-Stretch which is, like I said, rubber and acrylic. You can put that directly on any roof type. Or if it’s very deteriorated, say it’s getting up in age – 15- to 20-year-old roof that hasn’t been maintained, then we would put on a base coat of Super Elasto-Barrier rubber base coat first and then top-coat it with the Maximum-Stretch. So we have a system for different ages and degradations of roof and roof types.
LESLIE: And it truly is just a roll-on product, right?
PETE: Yeah. You just simply pour out and spread it using just a standard paint roller and an extension handle.
TOM: That’ll definitely save you a lot of money. Because if you call – I always say if you call a roofer for a roof leak, they’re going to sell you a new roof. You know what I mean? That’s what they get paid for and getting the leak repair is usually way down on their priority list. And this is a product that if you apply it to a new or aged roof, it’s going to give you a lot more life out of it.
Pete Cary, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Ames, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on Blue Max and your Premium Elastomeric Roof Coating.
PETE: Thank you very much, Tom and Leslie.
TOM: And if you’d like to learn more about the Ames products, go to their website at AmesResearch.com or you can call them at 1-888-345-0809. That’s 888-345-0809.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, would you rather enjoy the smell of a fresh tree or the ease of cleanup after taking down an artificial one? We’re going to help you simplify that choice, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and to find the perfect holiday gift, visit StanleyTools.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’ve got up for grabs a fantastic prize package from our friends over at Stanley Tools and it’s worth more than 220 bucks.
Now, it includes a collection of hand tools that will help you get started on pretty much any do-it-yourself project. And in that kit, you’re going to find the very popular FuBar, which will help you demolish any area that you want to improve.
TOM: Yes. Because before you construct, you have to deconstruct sometimes and that’s a tool that comes in very handy for just that. It’s also a great gift, too, which is why the FuBar is one of the many holiday gift picks featured in the Gift Guide at MoneyPit.com, which is presented by Stanley Tools. So give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement or décor question and your chance to win. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Missouri is working on a concrete project. How can we help you with that?
JIM: Well, I went through restoring this old, 1842 building here in Greenville.
JIM: It’s a lot more work than what I had initially thought. But anyway …
TOM: Always is.
JIM: Yeah. That portion of it we’re turning into a flat, at the newer part they added on that has concrete floor. We’re turning that into a flat for my daughter and I polished or stained and sealed and did all that with the floor. And it looked beautiful but it still doesn’t have that really deep, beautiful shine and the sheen that I’ve seen in retail stores and stuff. And wondered – somebody suggested put polyurethane over it or – I’m just not sure what to do to get that look.
LESLIE: Well, it’s not necessarily a polyurethane but there are a lot of manufacturers out there that do make a super-high-gloss sealer for concrete surfaces. You know, it really depends on which brand you feel comfortable working with. QUIKRETE has one. Theirs is called Concrete & Masonry High-Gloss Sealer. BEHR makes one, Sherwin-Williams makes one. I think BEHR’s is called the Wet-Look Sealer.
JIM: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: Sherwin-Williams is a high-gloss concrete sealer.
JIM: So just another – a sealer over what I’ve already done. It’s already – is all I need then.
LESLIE: Exactly. And that’ll give you that sort of metropolitan, retail, glossy, industrial look.
JIM: Right. OK. Great. Well, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I just had done some searching and I knew I had already sealed it, so I thought maybe I had to do something else.
TOM: That should do it, Jim.
JIM: Great. Thanks so much for help. I love the show.
TOM: Oh, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, at the core of most holiday decorating is the holiday tree. And if you’re deciding between a fresh and a fake tree, each has its own sets of pros and cons.
For example, a live tree smells great and it actually does freshen the air by removing carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen. And choosing a tree from a nearby farm or even a non-profit organization that sells trees can definitely help your local economy. But the downside has always been dealing with the needles and the watering, as well as the possible risk of fire if you let it dry out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, fake trees, they can be reused year after year. And some of the artificial trees are so well-made that they actually do look just like the real thing. You know, they’re much easier to maintain. You also don’t have to worry about any allergies or sap getting on things in your house. But you do need a place to store them year after year. Assembling them takes time and they’re often made from non-renewable resources, plastic. And there’s also no benefit to the economy as most fake trees, they’re made overseas.
TOM: So, think it all through in making a decision. But either way, there’s just nothing like getting that tree up to have you feeling the Christmas spirit in no time.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bob in Florida who’s dealing with a very noisy air conditioner. What’s going on?
BOB: Oh, it’s when it’s – it’s a new air conditioner. When it comes on, it just sounds like the wind is blowing through the house, like a real hard wind.
LESLIE: Now, is the whole system new or just the condensing unit?
BOB: Well, not the ducts up in the attic. They’re not new.
TOM: So you were used to a quieter system than before this was replaced. Is that correct?
BOB: Oh, yeah, way quieter. Uh-huh.
TOM: You might want to check and find out if the fan speed is adjustable.
TOM: Because it sounds to me like they’re pushing so much air through there. That’s what’s giving you that whistling noise. This is all workmanship, OK? This is a – you need to call that contractor back and explain that you’ve been living with this system for a long time and it never sounded like this until they replaced all the equipment. And they may have not have it set up correctly. If the fan is going too strongly, if it’s too high of a speed, it could be pressurizing those ducts. It can’t get enough air out and as a result, you’re getting all of that noise and all that whistling sound. This should not be a difficult thing to resolve.
BOB: Alright. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jackie in Colorado on the line with a wood-paneling question. How can we help you today?
JACKIE: Well, I’ve got this old, medium-colored wood paneling, which is really light, that was put over concrete walls. It’s one that’s got the black stripe in it.
JACKIE: I just want to know how the best way to clean it. Years ago, I used Murphen (ph) Oil.
TOM: You mean Murphy’s Oil?
TOM: Yeah, Murphy’s Oil Soap is the best way to clean wood. Have you used that again?
JACKIE: Well, I just used maybe a tablespoon with a bucket of warm water. Would that be OK?
TOM: Yeah, I think you can actually use a little more than that. Follow the label directions. But when you’re trying to clean old wood paneling like that, Murphy’s Oil Soap is really the best way to go, because it’s not going to dry out the wood and damage it. It’s very, very gentle. Just follow the instructions but I think that’s the best product to use for that situation.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up, are you expecting holiday guests but wondering where they’re all going to fit? Repurposing old furniture might be the solution and we’ve got tips to help you do just that, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And here’s a good reason to go to The Money Pit’s Facebook page right now. You can enter the Santa Sweepstakes, where we’ve got some really cool tools and prizes that are up for grabs. Plus, you can share it with friends and earn even more entries. Check it out right now at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your question to the Community section, just like Michael in St. Louis did. And he wrote: “We recently repaired the drywall in our bathroom and I’m wondering how to paint it. Should I prime the entire room before painting or just the new drywall and joint compound? Also, what type of paint would be the best for use in a bathroom? Does it have to be oil-based?”
TOM: Oh, all great questions. I mean bathroom fix-ups are really popular this time of year as the holidays are upon us and we’re trying to get all those guest areas really nice.
So, here’s the answer. First of all, whenever you have a repair to a wall and you have to spackle it, you do need to prime it. Now, if it’s just an area that was repaired with spackle or drywall compound and there’s no big stains to cover, so we don’t have any adhesion issues, I would use a water-based primer. Very simple. Just apply that, let it dry and you can put the top coat right over that.
In terms of the coats – the type of paint you use in a bathroom – you want to use one that’s designed for that space because, typically, they have mildicides built into them, which makes them less susceptible to mold and mildew. And regardless, though, if you don’t have good ventilation in that space, you are apt to get a mildew problem. So also a good time to take a look at your vent fans and make sure that they are there and they are working and venting that moisture out of the house.
LESLIE: And Michael, I think when it comes to the type of paint that you use, you really need to look at the finish.
Now, the more sheen you have in a paint, the more obvious any defects are going to be to that wall. So if that repair didn’t go well, don’t go with something super-shiny. That said, you want to go something like a scrubbable matte or a satin, something that will work really well that’s in a room that takes a lot of moisture, that might need some wiping down. Because those will really stand up to the wear and tear.
TOM: Well, as you get ready for holiday hosting, you might want to give a second look to your furniture. You may have some pretty well-loved pieces that could take a starring role in a room if you give them a fresh finish. Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. I know these words might seem scary but furniture refinishing and upholstery, they are definitely do-it-yourself projects. And if you tackle them, they can create statement pieces out of items that previously just blended right into the background.
Now, you have to do this project step by step. So, you want to take a look at the furniture piece you’ll be updating. You want to look at the materials and the construction. Laminate is going to need different treatment than solid wood. And furniture with great bones means that reupholstery will be worth the time and the trouble and really give you some fantastic results.
Also, you want to take a look at the existing surface. Unless it’s chipped or loaded with layers of old finish, there’s really no need to strip the piece. A good sanding will really do the trick to get you started. Now, if the piece does require stripping, that’s something you might want to outsource. Then bring that piece back home for whatever repairs and refinishing that you’re going to do to it.
Now, when it comes to the upholstery zone, there are some larger, more complex projects that a shop should handle. But I have literally written the book on several fabric fix-ups that are well within your reach. It’s called Fear Not: You Can Reupholster Anything. You can find lots of tips through The Money Pit website or through my own website, LeslieSegrete.com. And we are happy to help you with that, because upholstery really is a project that you can do, so don’t be afraid.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, drinking clean, clear, bottled water is more popular than ever but it’s also more costly than ever. So coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to have some tips about how you can install a whole-house water filter, which will allow you to enjoy water that’s just as good as bottled water but without the cost or the waste.
That’s all the time we have this hour on the program. Happy Holidays, everybody.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2012 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)