Nothing says “Welcome Home” better than a beautiful fiberglass entry door. Learn about a new refinishing product that can help you give your fiberglass door a facelift. Also, learn simple storage solutions for your basement and a cool way to dress up your fireplace in the off-season. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about staining a wood floor, painting wood lattice, fixing a sump pump, repairing a flooded crawlspace, the efficiency of two-zone air conditioning systems, installing radiant barriers in an attic, removing concrete splatter, refinishing a laminate countertop, and solving problems with concrete slab floors.
TRANSCRIPT FOR AUGUST 10, 2009, HOUR 2
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 0:025]
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: Take a look around your house. We know there’s a project you want to tackle. We’re here to help you get those jobs done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. For example, how about some simple storage solutions for your basement? It is one of the biggest untapped spaces in most of our homes and too many people don’t use it. We’re going to have you some tips to help you take control of that clutter in that space and choose the right storage products for your needs and we’ll show you how to put it together. And if your basement is damp or leaky, we can fix that, too.
LESLIE: (chuckling) That is a lot that we are going to cover. (chuckles)
TOM: It’s a full-package offering.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, you know we are big fans of fiberglass doors here at The Money Pit; you know, because of their energy-efficient qualities as well as their ease of maintenance. But even a fiberglass door can use a facelift every now and then and if you need to refinish your fiberglass door, we’re going to have an expert stop on by to give us some advice this hour on how to do just that.
TOM: And if you’re enjoying hanging out with your kids this summer – I know that we are – here’s a great way to spend some quality time: how about taking on a do-it-yourself project with them? We’re going to give away a birdhouse combo kit that helps you do just that. It’s from Red Toolbox. It’s worth 60 bucks. It’s a company that makes projects that are designed to be done by parents and kids together. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us for today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So pick up the phone, give us a call. 888-666-3974.
Let’s get right to those phones. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jason in Iowa is dealing with a stained floor. Tell us about the stain.
JASON: Yeah, it’s hardwood and we have a light finish on it.
JASON: And we’re talking really dark – deep, dark stains about, I don’t know, a couple of feet in diameter and a couple of different places; that have been there for a while. I tried sanding on them and – by hand – and if I go any deeper, you’re going to be able to tell a difference in level of the floor. I’m wondering what my options are; other than buying a rug.
LESLIE: Well, you’re going to have to sand that entire floor. You’re going to have to refinish that whole floor. Because you’re right; to get through that existing finish to get to the part of the wood where the stain is actually saturated into the wood itself, you’re going to need to sand down quite a bit. So you’re going to, unfortunately, have to sand down and refinish the entire floor.
JASON: OK. Now, talk to me about this. What about some sort of wood bleach?
TOM: Well, you could try to change the color of the entire floor to sort of lighten it up and try to have it match but it’s somewhat risky because if it turns out that the bleach reacts differently in the area that has the pet stain versus the area that doesn’t have the pet stain, you may be back in the same situation but the problem just got bigger. You might be better off trying to use a darker stain than trying to lighten it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) To cover everything up.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. That would probably have a higher chance of success.
LESLIE: But you’re going to have to sand the entire floor to get the surface to accept the new stain, correct?
JASON: Yeah. OK, work with me here. I don’t want to do the floors.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
JASON: Talk to me about a stressed look. Is there anything else I can do; like maybe have the pets pee all over the floor in different spaces or anything else? (Tom and Leslie laugh) I mean …
TOM: Wouldn’t recommend it. Hey, how about a throw rug? Does that work for you?
JASON: Yeah, I think that’s probably what we’re looking at.
LESLIE: Aw. You know, there’s a company that makes a carpet tile. It’s a company called Flor – F-l-o-r. And they actually do really cute and really styly and kind of hip carpet tiles that you can piece together to make an area rug. And it gives you a lot of creativity there and it gives you an opportunity to, in the future, if there happens to be an incident with the pet again, pop out that one tile that perhaps got damaged or two and replace it with the new carpet tile. This way, you’re keeping that look consistent and you can create something that’s super fun. And if being creative isn’t your deal, they’ve got ready-to-go kits that all you have to do is put in the dimensions and the type that you like and they’ll put it together for you.
JASON: [Right on] (ph). OK. Well, we’ve got a few options then, here.
LESLIE: I wouldn’t go with the peeing on the floor one. (Tom laughs) That’s just my opinion. (Jason laughs)
TOM: Bad idea.
JASON: OK, thanks a lot.
TOM: Jason, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, don’t look up for storage; look down. We’re talking about your basement. We’re going to have some storage solutions for that space, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:07.9]
ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology. Designed to not only help you save time, but also preserve your home’s interior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
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.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a birdhouse combo kit from Red Toolbox. This is a great company that makes project kits for children and adults to do together. All the materials come with the kit and the tools are designed to fit smaller hands. It’s worth about 60 bucks but it could be yours if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and come on the air and ask us a home improvement question.
LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you need some help with an organizing project. And let me tell you, Tom is the resident expert because having just seen his very well-organized garage (Tom chuckles), not only am I super-jealous but man, why do I always answer the organizing questions. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
Tom, you are very, very good at that.
TOM: Yes, well it takes a lot – it takes the ability to throw away a lot of stuff (Leslie chuckles) to get back to only what you need. You know, truthfully, the last time I did this project, there were a lot of things that I kept from the last time I organized and you have to ask yourself, “Do I really need to hold this for another whole session?” You know? It’s like [if I ever do it again] (ph).
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? If you haven’t used it or thought about it in six months, is my general rule, then you don’t need it. Well …
TOM: That’s right. If you haven’t used it, lose it.
LESLIE: Exactly. Well, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re not using it but you’re not losing those things either and you’re seeing that clutter is just completely overtaking your basement, well then you need to get it under control and quick. Because a basement bonus space is great. If you can store items so that you have plenty of room to renovate and then really recapture that usable space down in your basement, you are in a good situation. But you have to remember that below-grade areas need special consideration. So when you’re shopping for shelving, look for galvanized metal or plastic because both are going to resist wear and both are going to resist the possible effects of what moisture can do to other materials like wood.
You also want to make sure that the lowest shelf is at least six to eight inches above the floor. This way, should you have any water in the basement, for whatever reason – a pipe burst, a flood, too much rain outside – it’s not going to get to whatever is on those lower shelves.
And then you want to go ahead and store your seasonal items in clear, plastic bins; label them so that you can quickly, at a glance, know exactly what’s where; and sort of rotate those storage items seasonally. So keep what you’re going to need next closest to the front and what you just used all the way to the back and that’ll really help organize your basement space.
TOM: And if your basement is damp or leaky, well, fix that. It’s easy to do. Start outside. Look at the grading around the foundation perimeter; make sure the soil is sloping away from the walls. And look at the gutter system; make sure that your gutters are clean, they are free-flowing and those downspouts, they need to be at least four to six feet away from the foundation. If you do that, you will dry up that basement and you can use it for storage space all year long.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Well, Lynn in North Carolina is working on a deck project. What can we do for you today?
LYNN: Yes, it’s a huge deck and it’s loaded with latticework and all kinds of detail work. And I’m just trying to think of an easier way to go about painting this deck.
LESLIE: Are you painting or are you staining?
LYNN: Oh, I’m not – it’s not the deck part as much as the surrounding latticework and all of the railings; that it’s so intense.
LESLIE: Have you tried spraying it on?
LYNN: Well, I was sort of told that that probably wasn’t the best way to go about it because I’d have to prime it all first.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Why is that? Mm-hmm.
LYNN: Because they said it was so messy.
LESLIE: Well …
TOM: Well, you could – well, I mean certainly spraying – most of the work in spraying is getting ready to do the spray but you need to get into all those nooks and crannies. Using a sprayer is an easier way to do that.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, than with a brush.
TOM: There are a lot of sort of do-it-yourself level sprayers that are out there. I know Wagner makes a whole bunch of them. And you may find …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And you can rent one even.
TOM: And you can rent one, too. That’s a good point, yep.
LYNN: Right. Can I ask you about – they have different paints that now have the primer included in them. Is that wise to go that route rather than double painting?
TOM: Certainly that’s an option and I think it depends on what you’re starting with. If you’re not really sure – if you’re starting with raw wood, I’d prefer to see you prime it first; but on an existing stained or painted deck, I think those products are excellent.
LESLIE: Alright, Rob is calling in with water in the crawlspace. Tell us about the problem.
ROB: Yes. First, thanks for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
ROB: And the problem I’m having is that I have a sump pump in my crawlspace and whenever it rains quite hard, seems like the water level just comes up and puts water into it and my sump pump just can’t keep up.
ROB: And once it’s on the crawlspace and in the floor, it takes forever to get out.
TOM: Too late, yeah.
ROB: Yeah, it’s too late then.
TOM: Alright, well listen. The first thing is if you’re getting water in the crawlspace consistent with rainfall, then we need to figure out where that water is coming from and it’s usually because there’s a problem with the drainage outside your house, Rob. So I would be looking at the gutters first. You want to make sure they’re clean, they’re free-flowing. Make sure you have enough downspouts. You need one spout for every 400 to 600 square feet of roof surface and you want to take those spouts and extend them four to six feet away from the foundation. Don’t just dump them right at the corner of the foundation.
Once you get that working properly, then I want you to look at the grading. This is the angle of the soil around the house. You want it to drop about six inches over the first four feet. So if you need additional soil, add clean fill dirt into that space – clean fill dirt; tamp it down and then you can put a little topsoil or mulch or stone over that. But you want to basically improve that foundation perimeter so it stays as dry as possible.
ROB: Yeah, that makes sense and I’ve been looking at those points. The one thing that doesn’t make sense in my crawlspace is one of the wet areas is in the middle of my house.
TOM: No, actually that makes perfect sense because what happens is that water collects at the foundation perimeter; it pushes down and under the foundation and then it’s just going to find the point of least resistance. So it’s sort of like a geyser. It meets in the middle and it pushes up. So it’s not always related to the source of the leak. You can have a bad downspout in one corner and have it leak on the other side of the house. I’ve seen it happen many times.
LESLIE: Randy in Texas needs some help with an HVAC dilemma. What’s going on?
RANDY: Hey, I’d like to tell you, first off, that I really enjoy your show.
TOM: Thank you, Randy.
RANDY: And my question is I live in a two-story house and it has a separate air conditioning system for upstairs and downstairs.
TOM: Alright, that’s good.
RANDY: Now, when my grandchildren aren’t here, no one goes upstairs. And so, in this heat wave, I’m trying to reduce my energy consumption. So what would be the optimum temperature difference that I could set the upstairs between the downstairs and still not cause the downstairs system to run excessively?
TOM: Good question. Since warm air rises and cold air falls, I think that you can almost turn the air conditioning system off. But are you going to be using that second story at night?
TOM: So it’s completely vacant? The second story is completely vacant. Is there a door that separates it?
RANDY: No, the den opens up into the game room.
RANDY: Now the bedrooms, I can close those doors off and then the …
TOM: I would close the doors and I would not run the air on the second floor. If you need to use it for some part of the day, I would tell you to set it at around 82, 84 and let it run. But if you absolutely don’t need to use it, I would keep it shut off.
LESLIE: Suzanne, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
SUZANNE: Hi. Thanks so much for taking my call. We are do-it-yourselfers and I have a question about the radiant barrier; the spray-on type.
SUZANNE: I wanted to know if you recommend a certain product over another.
TOM: No, we don’t have a specific recommendation but I will say that it’s a good product and it’s something that can definitely cut back on your energy costs.
LESLIE: But is it a do-it-yourself project?
TOM: Typically not. You need to have specialized equipment. Usually it’s commercially done. But in some cases, it can be easier to use the spray-on product because the tools that they have can kind of get into the nooks and crannies a lot easier than the sheet products, which you have to physically walk across the entire attic space. I know BASF makes one that’s pretty popular.
SUZANNE: OK, OK. Thank you. I sure appreciate it.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to head on over to Eric in Washington who needs some help with – it sounds like a concrete project gone wrong?
ERIC: Yeah, well this happened about 15 years ago; 10, 15 years ago before I moved into the place. And they didn’t cover up the walls or the patio door; so when they poured the slab in the back, they splattered everything. So what I need to know is if there’s any way of taking off dried, splattered concrete off tempered patio door units.
TOM: At this point, Eric, I would suspect that’s it probably etched its way in. The acid in that wet concrete being on there for 15 years has probably eaten its way into that door pretty well. I doubt you’re going to be able to get it off.
ERIC: There’s no way of dissolving the concrete to get it off. (Leslie groans)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Fifteen years worth?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Fifteen years of a hard, chemical-cured concrete? You’re not going to find any miracle material that’s going to get that off.
LESLIE: If it were 15 minutes (chuckles), we can help.
TOM: (chuckling) You’d have a shot. Fifteen years, not so much.
ERIC: OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: OK, Eric. Sorry we didn’t have a better answer for you. Appreciate you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: How about a chisel and a good state of mind?
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: Frank in New Jersey needs some help with a countertop. What would you like to do to it?
FRANK: Well, I have an old laminate countertop that needs replacing and I might be relocating in three years, so I don’t want to spend a whole lot of money and I know that the in thing now is to get solid-surface, granite countertops.
FRANK: But for my kitchen, they estimated that to be about $3,000 and I was wondering if something like a 12-inch granite tile would be considered a reasonable alternative and not too tacky.
TOM: It certainly would be and there’s another alternative, too. There’s a granite countertop paint that’s designed to specifically go over laminates; that’s made by the same people that make the stainless steel paint.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, the website is called Liquid Stainless Steel and the product that Tom is talking about is called Giani and that’s there granite paint for laminate countertops. Now, you do have to be sort of crafty. I will admit to you it goes on very easily. There’s a series of different layers and process that you have to follow to give it that granite look, but it dries incredibly hard. Tom and I saw this at the hardware show. And I mean we would never recommend painting laminate until we saw this process because it’s super-durable. So that’s an option for you. Check out LiquidStainlessSteel.com.
You can also relaminate your existing laminate countertop by getting laminate from Wilsonart, Formica, Lamin-Art – any of those companies – and then adhering it to the old laminate and then just putting a new edge on it and that looks fantastic, too, and can be affordable.
FRANK: OK. Well, I was hoping to do something, too, that would look like an upgrade so if I did sell it would add value.
TOM: Yeah, well I mean the laminate paint is pretty good. It is going to look like an upgrade. If you want to resurface it, that’s going to look like an upgrade. Either of those I think is a good option for you.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The granite tile, I’ve seen it done where it looks really nice. Keep in mind that you’re not going to grout those joints. You want them to be as tight together as possible. This way …
TOM: And you’re going to need an edge. What would you use; a wood edge?
LESLIE: You can. You can use a wood edge; you can use a tile edge. Hmm. I wonder if you can cut the granite tile into strips and then use that as an edge; keeping your joint lines in the same location.
TOM: My concern with the granite tile idea is, as you say, you want it took like an upgrade. It might look like a low-budget upgrade and it could take away from it.
FRANK: That’s what I was afraid of, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. If it’s not done really well and really professionally, it could look bad.
TOM: I’d try the granite paint for countertops. We saw it done. It looked really good.
FRANK: OK. OK, very good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Frank. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a fiberglass entry door is much more energy efficient than a traditional wood one and it’s also going to stand up better against the elements. But they do need a facelift from time to time. So up next, we’re going to tell you the best way to refinish a fiberglass entry door; so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:29.3]
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, we are big fans; I mean gigantor fans of fiberglass entry doors over wood. You know they are far more energy efficient and, actually, a lot easier to maintain as well. But even fiberglass doors sometimes need a facelift every once in a while.
TOM: That’s right. They’ve been around now for more than 25 years and here to give us a step-by-step guide on how to refinish your own fiberglass door is Derek Fielding. He’s a product manager for Therma-Tru Doors.
DEREK: Hi, guys. How are you? Thanks for having me.
TOM: We are excellent and, seeing that you guys pretty much invented the fiberglass doors, we thought that you’d be a good place to turn to get some advice on how to refinish them and I think that too many people think the only way they can do this is with a paintbrush.
DEREK: That is not entirely true. We actually have some other alternatives for them.
TOM: Alright, talk to us about it.
DEREK: First thing they need to determine is whether or not they want to stain or paint their doors and one of the great things is we actually just launched a brand new stain kit called the Same-Day Stain Kit, which the great benefit about is that it dries in one day; as opposed to the traditional 48-hour dry time that you traditionally get with most of the other stain applications out there in the marketplace. And the other great benefit about this stain kit, it has an instructional stain kit application that tells them how to stain their door step by step with great color photos and the instructions on how to do that.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s great. So Derek, is there – I mean is there any reason why we would have to choose paint over restaining our fiberglass door? Is there a conditional factor we need to sort of think about when we’re deciding what to do or is it strictly personal taste in what you want it to look like?
DEREK: It really is personal preference. Traditionally, what we find is you have the consumer either who prefers to have a painted application or a stained application. It really – you know, it depends upon their final look and, really, the important part is to make sure you want to coordinate it to your home’s exterior and to give that curb appeal that they’re really looking for.
TOM: We’re talking to Derek Fielding. He’s a product manager with Therma-Tru Doors.
Now Derek, if we choose to stain the fiberglass door, can we get a truly sort of wood stain-like look or is something less than that?
DEREK: No, you really can get the true wood look. We offer, in our Same-Day Stain Kit, seven popular stain colors and, with these stain colors, you can get various shades by the application in which you apply the stain. So, depending upon how dark or how light you want the stain, it just varies on how long you actually leave the stain on the door before you go through the process and wiping the stain off. And then the stains come in different shades from light oak to dark to medium oak and then same thing with a walnut versus an English walnut. So – and then we also have various grains of fiberglass doors; so you can get an oak door, you can get a mahogany door, you can get a fir-grain door as well. So, matching the grain species of the door with the stain application; give you that real, true look that you’re looking for.
LESLIE: And Derek, we just can’t run to the home center and pick up any stain for natural wood. We really need to look for something that’s specifically for fiberglass, right?
DEREK: We recommend using a stain that has been developed for fiberglass doors, which is why being the inventor of the fiberglass door, we went and developed a stain kit for the fiberglass. And the reason being, there are obviously properties different from – I’m sorry, from wood to fiberglass; and so we developed the stain to work specifically for fiberglass versus wood.
TOM: Yeah, any time I’ve ever seen someone try to use a wood stain on a fiberglass door, it always end up looking somewhat muddy because fiberglass doesn’t absorb like wood does.
LESLIE: So it just mushes around.
DEREK: Exactly, exactly.
TOM: Right. So you have to have the right properties. Now, Derek, what if we want to paint the door? What are the proper prep steps? What kind of paint do we need? Can we use a latex paint? Should we prime first? What’s the step-by-step if we want to paint?
DEREK: What we recommend doing is first you want to make sure that you clean your door with a detergent and water and really rinse it well and then let it dry. What we also recommend is our doorlite frame – so the molding around the glass; we actually recommend that you do not wash this because there is already a coating applied to the surface of it that will actually allow paint to adhere to it better. But once the surface has dried, then we just recommend using a high-quality exterior latex or acrylic house paint. And one of the other recommendations we say is if you want a white or a light-color finish coat, you could probably just get away with one coat. But if you want medium or darker colors, we recommend using two coats.
TOM: And the nice thing about working with a fiberglass door is if you happen to mess up, you can easily take the paint or the stain off. But if it’s a wood door, of course, you have to sand a lot of material away to do that.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s a lot of work.
DEREK: Exactly, exactly. It’s a little bit easier with a fiberglass door.
TOM: Alright, good advice. Derek Fielding, product manager with Therma-Tru Doors, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you’d like some more information on fiberglass doors and on the staining process that it required, you can go to ThermaTru.com or pick up the phone and give them a call at 1-800-537-8827. That’s 1-800-537-8827.
DEREK: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, still ahead, just because you’re not using your fireplace right now doesn’t mean it can’t look good. We’re going to tell you how to dress up your hearth, right after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:58.6]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the 100% natural odor-eliminating air freshener. Unlike other air fresheners, Citrus Magic actually eliminates odors and lasts up to four times longer. Visit CitrusMagic.com for more information. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, are you looking for a summer project that’s going to give you a great way to bond with your children while forging their confidence to take on construction projects? Well, if you are, there is a great company out there called Red Toolbox. Now they’ve got project kits that are designed to help you do just that. They’re made for parents and kids to work on together. What a novel idea; actually spending time and doing projects with your family. Well, now you can win one if we pick your name from among those callers we talk to on the air this hour. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
We’re giving away the birdhouse combo kit. It’s worth about 60 bucks and it’s going to come with all of the materials, the tools and the directions that you need to build a really good-looking birdhouse that you can display in your yard and I guarantee that some birdies are going to move on in there because we’ve had great success with our birdhouse; which, unfortunately, I had to build by myself because Henry is just way too young. (Tom laughs)
But the tools are super-adorable. They’re tiny. I mean the hammer is just the cutest thing you are ever going to lay your eyes on. So give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So here’s a cool way to dress up a hot space. You know, a fireplace that’s not in use can look like a big, black hole in your room but there are great ways to dress it up and incorporate it into your décor scheme. One thing that you can do is to replace the logs with a group of large, pillar candles or a stylish candleholder and even when it’s not lit, the candles will add a really nice touch.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, you could also put fresh flowers or a nice plant into there. Ferns do really fantastic in shade and they also add a punch of life to your room. I just love the way a fern looks and if you can get yours to live – which I guarantee if you just spend a little, time, you will – it’s really going to just jazz up that space.
And finally, consider a new fireplace screen – which you can make one from plywood and paint – and then you can go ahead and personalize this screen with anything from a collage of images or stenciled patterns or even family photos. So get creative. Do something fun, do it as a family and just spruce up that space while you’re just looking at that black hole this time of year.
TOM: If you’ve got a décor challenge, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I won’t help you but Leslie will. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Alaska to chat with Benjie about freezing toilets. I imagine it’s always freezing in Alaska.
TOM: This probably is a story that can only happen in Alaska. Benjie, how can we help you?
BENJIE: Well, we’re having a heat wave, currently; I think it’s about 70 degrees outside. But the water …
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Whoa, it’s hot.
BENJIE: (chuckles) The water that is coming in, even in the summertime, is frigid cold and the problem is the condensation on the outside of the reservoir tank of the toilet.
BENJIE: It’s quite a problem. It’s dripping onto the floor then through the linoleum and through the baseboards. It’s wood and it’s starting to rot and to mold.
BENJIE: The only thing that I thought of as a solution is an aquarium tank-like heater for a fish in aquariums but that’s [the case of] (ph) …
TOM: Yeah, that would be pretty expensive. I have a better solution for you.
TOM: You can take Styrofoam and line the inside of the toilet tank.
TOM: You’re essentially insulating the toilet tank so that the toilet tank doesn’t get quite as cold and then the warm, moist air that strikes it is not going to condense and drip all over the place.
BENJIE: OK, one more question.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Would you use like …?
BENJIE: Excuse me?
LESLIE: I was going to say would you use like the pink insulating foam or that blue foam that you find at the home center or could you use crafty Styrofoam?
TOM: Yeah, I would actually – you’d probably even use something thinner than that because I don’t think you’re going to be able to put an inch in there but you could probably find like a half-inch sheet Styrofoam, cut it to fit nice and tight and do that.
TOM: I think that will make a difference. I’ve actually seen that done a number of times.
LESLIE: So it’s like a toilet tank cooler.
TOM: Yeah, kind of – that’s right. (Leslie chuckles) Kind of like a toilet tank liner.
BENJIE: Well, maybe I could save some water by throwing a couple of – some energy by throwing a couple of beers in there and keeping them cold, too. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
LESLIE: Hey, they’d always be handy where you want it.
TOM: And chilly.
BENJIE: Well, yes. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rosetta in Illinois needs some help with a cabin. What’s going on at your money pit?
ROSETTA: Well, we are building this cabin and we had a contractor come in and pour the concrete slab. And we didn’t realize that he did not put plastic underneath it. So now the floor is sweating. We’ve already got the frame on it and how – is there anything we can do to prevent this from getting worse?
TOM: Yeah, a couple of things. First of all, since the home is still under construction, once it’s done you want to be very, very careful to have good outside drainage because that’s going to reduce the amount of water that sort of hangs out at the edge of the concrete slab. So we’re talking about making sure you have a good gutter system and good grading that slopes away from the walls. And then the other thing to do is after it gets sort of as dry as you think it’s going to get, I would add a couple of coats of masonry sealer. That will stop some of the water from evaporating into the home and raising the humidity, which I think is what you’re experiencing right now.
ROSETTA: It’s called a masonry sealer?
TOM: Yeah, a masonry sealer. Yes, a concrete sealer.
ROSETTA: And I can pick that up at any home improvement …
TOM: Any home center, yeah. You know, do it before – you know certainly before you get any floor coverings down. Maybe when the frame is done you could start putting a couple of coats of that down right at that point.
ROSETTA: OK. Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rosetta. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Alan in Texas needs some help with a cement porch repair project. Tell us what happened.
ALAN: It’s a concrete slab that’s, oh, about 12x35. It’s rather old and it’s chipping and flaking around the edges.
ALAN: And what I’d like to know is what would be a good way, if I start patching this stuff, to keep the line going straight and level up and down.
TOM: Yeah, there’s a company called Abatron that makes epoxy patching compounds that would work for this. The particular product that you want is called Abocrete. Their website is Abatron.com – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. In terms of trying to keep it nice and straight and even-steven, what I would do is I would try to basically mount a form against the outside edge of the patio the same way you would have had one there when you originally poured the concrete patio and I would use the patch against that form. I would use a standard cement trowel and I would use the form as a guide to try to basically get a straight edge right against that form and then after it all dries, of course you pop the form off and you’re done.
LESLIE: Do you need to put anything on that edge of the form that’s going to be in contact with the product to make sure that there’s no adhesion; anything like an anti-stick …?
TOM: You know, with concrete, generally not; with a patching compound, I’m not sure. I would post that question to Abatron. I’d say most likely not because I don’t think it’s designed to stick to wood; it’s designed to stick to concrete.
ALAN: OK. When you put this form in, would it be right up tight against the …?
TOM: Yep, you want a nice, clean edge, right Alan? You want a nice, clean edge? That’s what you’re trying to achieve; straight lines, clean edge?
TOM: Yeah, so put it right up against the old patio and pour to, basically, the edge of the form.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, in this market, should you be pouring money into big home improvement projects and, if so, which ones will deliver the best return on the investment? We’ll have the answer to that question, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:31:51.2]
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.
TOM: And add us to your summer reading list. Our book is available at MoneyPit.com right now. It’s called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure and in it, you’ll find the same helpful advice and info we offer here on the radio show every, single week.
LESLIE: Yeah, and while you’re buying your copy of your book on MoneyPit.com, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we will answer your e-mail question at this time in the show every, single week. And we’re going to jump right into the e-mail bag now.
First up, I’ve got one from Julia in New York who writes: “In this market, is it worth renovating and, if so, what areas are the ones to do?”
TOM: Ah, good question and I think the answer is, yes, it is worth renovating but you have to do it very strategically. Typically, the areas of the home that give you the best return on investment, Julia, would be improvements to your kitchen and bathroom. But you say, “These are also the most expensive areas to renovate, Tom.” Well, they don’t have to be. There are inexpensive ways to do these projects.
We’ve got an article on MoneyPit.com called Cheap Tricks for Cool Kitchens; give you some ideas. But for example, you don’t have to replace your cabinets; you can paint your cabinets. You could replace just your countertop. You could replace just the hardware in the cabinets. You could install new flooring. You could paint the walls. You could add some lighting. Little things like this can make a dramatic difference but they don’t have to cost a whole lot of money. So I say tackle the projects today that you’re either going to enjoy for a long period of time or – and/or they’ll give you a good return on investment; like kitchens, baths and also outside improvements like decks and patios.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Even siding and windows. I mean not only are you going to see a benefit of changing the siding and the windows in your energy bills and the look of your house, it’s also going to make the house far more appealing when it comes time to sell.
Alright, next up, we’ve got one from Peggy in South Carolina who writes: “Can I paint over my wallpaper?”
TOM: Ah. Well, you can. I don’t know why you would want to. It’s always better to remove it but you can paint over it; unless, of course, it’s sort of a glossy-finish wallpaper and, in that case, I don’t think you have any choice. You know, we used to see this done all the time. In fact, many years ago, it was not unusual to put a paper on top of a plaster wall and then paint over the paper. So I think you can do it. Although it’s probably a little bit sloppier than it has to be, I would recommend you remove it if at all possible.
LESLIE: Yeah, and also, if you do go ahead and paint over the wall covering, I mean you’re going to get the seams are showing where you’ve painted over and it’s going to kind of really look like you’ve painted over the wall covering. So if you can, take your time; rent a steamer; get all of that old wallpaper off as far down as you can; sand any uneven areas; prime and then paint the wall surface with a flat paint so you don’t notice any of those oddities in the surface itself. And I hope that helps you with your project, Peggy.
TOM: Well, by now your window screens have probably seen better days; especially after more than a half-summer’s worth of use. In a few more weeks, it’ll be time to clean them. Leslie’s got the tips to help you do just that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right and today’s tip comes right off of our 30 Under 30 list, which is 30 home maintenance tips that we promise are going to take 30 minutes or less. So your screens, they’re not looking so great this time of year. Why not give them a bath?
First off, remove your screens and label which windows they have come from. Even if they all look kind of the same, they might not fit into the neighboring space; so mark down which one came from where. This way, when it comes time to put them back, you will have no puzzle problems to deal with.
So once you’ve got all your screens down, go ahead and mix up some household cleaner like Spic and Span or something along those lines. And then go ahead and apply with a gentle brush and then rinse with a garden hose, let them dry and reinstall. You can even let them dry while they’re up there. So just take your time. Clean them up.
We’ve got a of great ideas for you in our 30 Under 30 list. If you want to read the complete list, it’s in our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com. Remember, you can reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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 2009 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.)