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: Call us right now with your home improvement project. We want to hear about your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and the advice is worth more than the cost of the call, which kind of sets a low standard for ourselves but why not, you know?
LESLIE: Which is nothing.
Hey, coming up this hour, we've got a new survey out. It shows homeowners are more savvy than ever when it comes to designing their remodel. Find out why lifestyles turned out to be the most important factor in determining the final outcome of a room's new design.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, the number one topic of questioning that we get from all of you here at The Money Pit is flooring. So we are going to share step-by-step information on how to refinish a wood floor, which really is a great project that can totally transform a room. In fact, Tom Silva from This Old House will be by with a few ideas from his decades of experience as the show's general contractor.
TOM: Plus, apartment dwellers, this one is for you: we're going to have tips on how you can make easy changes to your kitchen that you can actually take with you when you leave.
LESLIE: And if installing a beautiful, new front door is on your to-do list, this hour we are giving away a $50 Lowe's gift certificate courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors, which you can then use towards the purchase of an energy-efficient, fiberglass door in their Benchmark line. And that's available exclusively at Lowe's.
TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let's get right to those phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Larry in Colorado, you've got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LARRY: Yes. I have a built-in oven – a KitchenAid that – I live at 9,000-foot altitude up in Divide, Colorado. And we have a problem every time we use the automatic cleaning. It blows a fuse. They've replaced the fuse several times, they've replaced the oven once and they've kind of finally decided that there's no help for us.
TOM: Now, is the fuse inside the oven or is it inside the breaker panel?
LARRY: It's the – in the oven.
TOM: It's the oven; it's the fuse in the oven. OK. So, keep in mind that fuses are doing their job and the job of the fuse is to stop the wiring from overheating and catching fire. And that's the same whether it's the appliance fuse or it's the fuse in your circuit-breaker panel.
If in fact it's continually blowing, then I suspect that there's a problem with the appliance itself and the fuse is doing what you want it to do, which is stopping the oven from catching on fire. We've often reported that if your oven is going to break down, it's going to be associated with the running of the self-cleaning cycle, because it does put the oven through an incredible amount of stress. In fact, just this weekend, I heard of yet another story – real-life story – about an oven that broke during the self-cleaning cycle right before a big dinner party was planned.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: So, I suspect that the problem is with the appliance and if you've not been able to find the solution or repair it, then it might just – might be time to replace it.
I will give you one idea: there is a website called RepairClinic.com run by a bunch of smart people that do nothing but fix appliances. Might want to spend a little time on there and see if they ever discovered this issue and have a solution for it. But short of doing a little bit of repair that way, I'd probably just replace it.
LARRY: Alrighty. I have one quick question. Actually, one of the repair – I mean the techs that I was talking to who said he didn't think it could be repaired – suggested a kind of oven gel. You guys have any thoughts about that?
TOM: No. Is he just talking about an alternative to self-cleaning?
TOM: Well, there's lots of products out there. I don't have a particular one that's a favorite but by all means, if you're not going to run the cycle, you certainly could use an over-the-counter, oven-cleaning product. That's the way so many of us cleaned ovens for years and years and years before that technology was ever in existence.
LARRY: Great. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Janet in Maryland is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us what's going on.
JANET: Yes. My house was built in the 50s. It's stucco with cinder-block walls. And when I had the sheetrock replaced, there really was no insulation, so I don't know if it can be blown in. I was told nothing could be done. There's some little – it's a one-and-a-half-story bungalow. There's some loose insulation in the eaves in the attic and I really don't see anything on the exterior walls.
TOM: OK. So, with a house, you want to make sure that you insulate in the right order and the order would be the attic first. Now, you mentioned it does have some insulation.
LESLIE: Put the hat on your head.
TOM: Yeah, that's right. Put the hat on the head.
TOM: You want to make sure – you said it has some insulation. How many inches of insulation do you think you have in the attic right now, Janet?
JANET: Probably like two or three; it doesn't look like a whole lot.
TOM: Oh, my God. That's nothing.
JANET: It's real loose.
TOM: OK. Do you know how much you're going to – you really need?
TOM: You need 19 to 22 inches of insulation.
TOM: So you should forget totally about these walls; your problem is overhead.
TOM: You need to get as much insulation in that attic as you possibly can. A foot-and-a-half is what we're looking for and up. And when you do that, you're going to see an amazing reduction in your energy bills; amazing. Because you have next to nothing right now. You're like sleeping outside with a sheet on, you know?
JANET: Oh, geez. OK. OK.
TOM: You need heavy blankets, honey, to make this work for you.
JANET: Do I buy the roll? The pink roll?
TOM: Yes, absolutely. The pink roll; the Owens Corning. You could buy the rolls or buy the loose batts and you want to put – first you fill in between the floor joists.
LESLIE: And you want to get unfaced.
TOM: Yep, unfaced insulation. You fill in between the floor joists. Then you put a second layer on top of that, perpendicular to the floor joists, until you build up enough insulation.
JANET: OK, OK.
TOM: And you're going to find an amazing change in how warm and comfy your house gets as a result of that.
JANET: OK, great. Great.
TOM: Alright, Janet. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is a very typical question that we got on the show, Leslie. Folks don't know where to put those energy dollars first. And you've got, like in her case, almost zero insulation in the attic. You should just forget about the outside walls; that's not your problem. Your problem is the attic.
LESLIE: Right. It really is. You put a hat on your head, it keeps the warmth in your body. So it's the same for your home. You really need to think about working from the top down. And I think people forget that over time, there's so much settling that you do either need to replace or add so that you meet that R-value.
TOM: Absolutely. So, hopefully we got Janet straightened out.
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, home improvement, home décor, design. Whatever you are working on, we can help you get that project done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can give you hand, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, savvy homeowners are making their own, personal lifestyle the number one reason for a remodel that suits them. Find out what lifestyle considerations you need to make when planning your new room, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:48]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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: And it's never too late to save energy dollars by upgrading with more energy-efficient products. And one option that can do just that is to replace your wood entry door with fiberglass.
Fiberglass doors look like wood but they insulate up to five times better. And to help you along with that project, we're giving away a $50 gift card from Lowe's this hour, courtesy of Therma-Tru, that you can use to invest in a new Benchmark door by Therma-Tru, which is sold exclusively at Lowe's and comes in a wide range of very attractive styles to personalize your home while increasing that important curb appeal.
You can visit ThermaTru.com for more information or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. We will toss all names of our callers this hour into The Money Pit hard hat and if we choose yours, we'll be sending that $50 gift card straight out to you.
LESLIE: That's right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to give you a hand with what you are working on.
And in fact, if you've got a remodel or you're just simply redecorating, well, long gone are the days of homeowners putting in new finishes and appliances in their home and then calling it a successful remodel, done deal.
Now, a new consumer poll from the National Association of The Remodeling Industry or NARI, as we like to call them, finds that today's homeowners are more design-savvy than ever and they remodel their homes to suit their needs.
Now, more and more homeowners want their design to cater perfectly to their lifestyle. For example, a kitchen that can also serve as a family room. It's where you all end up anyway.
TOM: And it's important to think through all those possibilities. In fact, many remodelers today now actually put their clients through special exercises to get them to think about how they actually use those rooms in their home.
Now, the economy may also have weighted on the survey findings as Americans are spending money in a much more practical way. So if you are considering a remodel, it's worthwhile to take a week or so to observe and really think about your family's living patterns.
You want to think about the paths that you take, the counters where people set stuff down – which, in my house, is every horizontal surface – because, frankly, all that stuff will play into your remodeling-design decisions.
TOM: 888-666-3974. If you're planning a remodel or any other home improvement in your home, give us a call right now because we would love to help you get started. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas, you've got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVEN: We are buying an Earthship. I don't know if you all know what that is but it's going to be in Taos, New Mexico. And we wanted to build a secure, concrete dome that was – act as our living room and dining room area. I couldn't think of a way to pour concrete in a dome shape and we wanted to have it to be a green roof, so it needs to be load-bearing, as well.
TOM: Interesting question.
STEVEN: If you ever saw Lord of the Rings, you know the hobbit homes? They were just like hills?
STEVEN: Yeah but that's kind of the look we're going for. So, I wasn't sure of a good way to have a load-bearing, concrete dome; a good way to build that. We looked into ICF blocks but we couldn't find any that were curved.
TOM: Yeah. I don't think ICF is the way to go. ICF, of course, stands for insulated concrete form and they're an excellent product for exterior walls but I don't think they're designed to curve. I mean typically, you build a form that's in the shape of that dome first. Then, of course, you have to have a reinforcing rod laced throughout that form and then the concrete is poured right around that, usually in layers.
Steven, can I ask why are you so interested in the dome shape?
STEVEN: It's going to be a bed-and-breakfast when it's all said and done and we just want it to be really eye-catching from the outside.
TOM: Well, you know there's …
STEVEN: In the lobby, (inaudible at 0:12:09) really beautiful and have really geometrical shapes and we just thought it'd be really pretty.
TOM: Yeah, it certainly will be. It's just going to be a bit of a challenge and you'd better find a darn good mason to work with on this because it's going to be a high-skill and high-expense part of the project. But it sounds very exciting. We'd love to see it when it's all done.
STEVEN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're very welcome, Steven. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina is having a caulking issue in the bathtub. What's going on?
LAURA: We have had to re-caulk the bathtub, in the last six months, probably two or three times.
LAURA: Every time we do it, we scrape the old caulking off, we re-caulk it and then let it dry for a couple of days. And then after like a couple weeks, it starts crumbling and cracking and now it just disintegrates.
TOM: First of all, what kind of caulk are you using?
LAURA: I believe it's a latex and I don't know if that's the problem?
TOM: OK. Well, it's a couple of things. First of all, let me give you the step-by-step way to caulk a bathtub and have it stick. You have to remove the old caulk and if you have a lot of old caulk, I would use a product called a caulk softener. It's kind of like a paint stripper but it's for caulk and it makes it soft and pliable, so you can really get rid of all the old stuff and do a really good job cleaning it out.
Then I would take a bleach-and-water solution, spray down that joint, clean it really well and make sure we're stripping any mold away that's in there. After you get it totally ready to go, then fill your bathtub up with water. You want to fill it up to the top with the stopper on so it's weighted down. This sort of pulls the tub down a bit by putting that weight on it.
Then you can caulk it. I would use an acrylic latex with Microban in it, which is a mold inhibitor – DAP makes it; a kitchen and bath caulk – or use a silicone caulk. And then, of course, let it dry really well and then let the water out of the tub. And when you do that, the tub kind of comes back and when you get in it to take a bath or a shower, you push it down again and it doesn't have the same stress on the caulk joint. And it tends to stay in a lot longer that way.
So those are the steps that'll get it in there and hopefully have it stay for a while.
LAURA: Oh, how long should I let it dry?
TOM: Oh, just a day. That's all.
LAURA: A day. OK.
TOM: Yeah, that's it.
LESLIE: OK, wonderful. Great. That's a good idea. OK, thank you.
TOM: Alright. You're welcome. Good luck with that project, Laura. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bonnie in Texas is dealing with a kind of finicky garage-door opener. What's going on?
BONNIE: Well, it sounds crazy but in the mornings when it's real cold, I can open it from the inside. The garage door will open and close but outside, in my car, the remote – when I put the remote up there when it's real cold, it won't open.
TOM: So when the remote is inside the house, it works, but when it's outside the house, it doesn't?
BONNIE: No, no, darling. When I – the little button out in the garage that's on the wall will open it no matter what.
TOM: Right. OK.
BONNIE: But my remote inside my car will not open and close it when it's real cold.
TOM: OK. Is this a battery-powered remote in your car?
BONNIE: Yes, it is.
TOM: Well, have you changed the batteries? Because it …
BONNIE: Yes, we have.
TOM: Yeah and the fact that it works from the button is not really relevant because that's a hardwire connection. Your problem is with the remote itself. So if the remote is not working well in cold weather, the remote may need to be replaced. If you've replaced the batteries and it's still happening, I think the next choice is to replace the remote. And you can probably get another one from the same manufacturer for not a lot of money.
BONNIE: I certainly will.
TOM: Alright, Bonnie. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Russ in Illinois has a question about flooring. How can we help you with the project?
RUSS: Yeah, we have about a 20x30-foot family room over a crawlspace and we are thinking about putting down a floating hardwood floor, snap-together type. And we're wanting to heat the floor with an in-floor heating system like water tubing or something like that but we're wondering what the most efficient way is; what the best way is to go about doing that.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm. Well, you have a couple of options. You can use electric radiant which – you know, all of these are available in sort of the modular systems where you can connect different panels together and run them, so you don't necessarily need professional installation on everything. But the radiant heat that's electric, it's probably the more expensive one to run but the least expensive to buy.
If you wanted to do something that was with, say, a hot-water system, then you could do that. With a hot-water system, you can either install the hydronic pipes underneath the floor or above the floor, sort of in channels where it's like plywood that's sort of carved out to take the PEX – which is cross-linked polyethylene piping – and then you put the hardwood floor on top of that.
With that, though, you're going to have to create a zone and add it to your heating system, assuming that you have a hot-water system to begin with. So you have hot-water heat now?
RUSS: We do have – no, we don't. We don't.
TOM: I think electric is going to be your only option.
LESLIE: There's a good website, Russ. It's called NuHeat.com and it's N-u-H-e-a-t.com. And it's a great site because there's two different ways that you can customize your own radiant heat mats for the floor: there's a standard set, which is basically for square and rectangle rooms and then if you've got a tricky space, there's a build-your-own mat system for curved walls, whatever unusual circumstances you might have in the space.
But I like the site because it snaps together very easily; there's an instructional video so that it's completely foolproof when you're putting it together. And we all know radiant heat is just awesome. It will help lower your heating bills because you're subsidizing the heat that's in the room, plus your feet will be so happy.
LESLIE: So it's a good project to tackle.
RUSS: Great. Yeah, we do want to do the project ourselves so I will (audio gap) out that site. Thank you.
TOM: You're very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve, you've got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: I'm having a water problem in my crawlspace.
STEVE: I live in the middle of town and during the raining season I've got standing water in my crawlspace. I've been looking up on what to do about it and I'm wondering which would be best: a French-drain system around the perimeter or just a basic sump pump.
TOM: Two things. First of all, you've got to get that water out of that crawlspace so for that, you simply want to put a pump down there. Kind of hard to dig a sump pump when you've got water there but you're going to need to get a pump down there one way or the other, Steve, and pump that water out. Open up some vents in the sides so that you get some airflow in there; maybe hook up some fans so you can dry that space out.
Protecting this in the long run, though, is going to require some improvements to the drainage conditions around the outside of the house. You need to have the gutters extended so that they get away from those crawlspace walls, then have the soil slope away from the walls. Whenever you get rain then that causes the crawlspace to flood, in that situation it's a drainage problem; it's not a rising water table. So, improving the drainage conditions will solve it in the – for the next time.
STEVE: Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, still to come, we are going to get tips to help you with your wood-flooring refinishing projects when we talk with Tom Silva from This Old House, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:31]
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: And you can also find The Money Pit on Facebook and on Twitter. Plus, we now have an iPhone app. Yes, we are everywhere, kind of like a bad virus. 888-666-3974. Except this one gets your projects done.
LESLIE: Yeah. And this is one you don't mind catching.
TOM: That's right. So pick up the phone and call us right now and we will help you get started.
LESLIE: Sandy in North Carolina needs some help removing wallpaper. How far into the process are you, Sandy?
SANDY: Well, I've already done one room but my biggest issue was that there was a lot of the glue residue left on the walls.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah.
LESLIE: Have you tried fabric softener and water? I know it sounds weird but it's an excellent wallpaper-paste remover.
SANDY: Oh, yeah? No, I haven't tried that.
LESLIE: It's worth a shot. I mean otherwise, if it's not too, too much and you're just dealing with a little bit of texture and residue, you could lightly sand that away, too.
TOM: Yeah and if you use the fabric softener on your walls, it smells lemony-fresh.
SANDY: And that won't sink into the sheetrock and stuff that's under the …
LESLIE: Well, I'm not saying like super-saturate it.
TOM: No, don't saturate it. Don't saturate it. But you can spray it on – some people do a dilute solution of it – and get more of the paste off. And then a light sanding with a very fine sandpaper, like 200, 220-grit. And then you want to prime the wall with a good-quality, oil-based primer and then you can paint it. And if you follow those steps, it's not as smooth as new drywall but it'll be acceptable.
LESLIE: It'll get there. And then don't pick a paint that has any sort of a sheen if you don't get it super-smooth. Because if you pick something – I wouldn't even go eggshell; I would go flat.
TOM: Yeah, just get good-quality flat. Otherwise, any little bump in the wall, when the light hits it, it'll show.
LESLIE: You'll see everything.
SANDY: Right. So it'll show the imperfections more with that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. If you use something that's got a shine to it, it'll show the imperfections.
SANDY: OK. OK, sounds great.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Sandy.
SANDY: OK, thanks. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, wood floors are a great selling point in any home but if yours aren't looking so hot, bringing them back to their original glory can be a great do-it-yourself project.
TOM: That's right. And aside from the hassle factor of having to empty the entire room to do this project, refinishing a wood floor is not as hard as it might sound. Here with some tips on how to do just that and do it the right way is This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
TOM: So, Tom, the idea of refinishing a floor really scares people but it's not that hard to do, is it? And it really all begins with the prep, correct?
TOM SILVA: Right. The prepping is the first step; removing everything from the room that's going to collect dust. That's the furniture and paintings and all that kind of stuff. You want to cover the doorways with plastic and tape and you want to seal up all your registers.
TOM: Now, I guess that's especially important with a return duct, huh?
TOM SILVA: Absolutely because that returned air will get sucked in and blow dust all over the house.
TOM: So once we've got it all sealed off, then it's time for the sanding step and that really is the most critical part of this process. But there's some different equipment that's easier for DIYers, isn't there?
TOM SILVA: Right. There's floor sanders that will really sand the floor real fast but you've got to know what you're doing; they'll do some major damage that's …
LESLIE: If you don't, that's right.
TOM: That's right.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. That's called a drum sander. That'll make your floor look like the ocean.
But the best type that I recommend for a homeowner is the oscillating type. There's four, little, round heads underneath the sander and you can sand away. You can take your time; it gets right up close to the edges and it does a real nice job.
LESLIE: So, Tommy, do you have any tricks of the trade, especially if this is going to be my first time renting this type of sander to work on the floor?
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Number one, take your time. Start in the corner, start with a real coarse paper. You want to keep the sander moving, alright? You don't want to go and stop and have a cup of coffee with the sander (inaudible at 0:23:47).
LESLIE: Don't get distracted.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Keep a steady pace and change the paper regularly and you'll actually see how the sander's doing; you'll actually see the finish coming off.
TOM: Now, when you use an oscillating sander, does it have sort of a vacuum attachment to it that helps draw off some of the dust that you're generating?
TOM SILVA: Well, it has its own built-in vac system that will go into a bag but I like to use a separate vacuum system along with it and it really picks up the debris really nice.
TOM: So what does that consist of when you say a separate vacuum system?
TOM SILVA: Well, it's a longer hose and then you have a vacuum that's like a big Shop-Vac that you can actually put outside the door, so you have like a 25-foot hose.
TOM: OK. OK.
TOM SILVA: Put it outside the door, that'll suck the dust, put it in the Shop-Vac and then the other dust will just blow away – the fine dust – so you won't even get it in your house.
LESLIE: Now, you mentioned starting with a coarse paper. Do you sort of progress through to fine or do you just go to coarse and you're done?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, depending on the age of the floor, the condition of the floor, you can start with 36, you can start with 80. You know, it really depends on how aggressive you have to be. And then gradually work your way up through the coarseness until you end up with about 120, 150-degree.
TOM: Alright. So we've cleared the furniture from our room, we've sealed everything off and we've just completed a very successful sanding job. Now it's time to apply the finish. Any tips on that project? Where do people go wrong when applying floor finishes?
TOM SILVA: Well, I think you've got to decide on which kind of polyurethane you want to use. There's water-based and there's oil-based.
TOM: Now, what's your opinion on that? Because I've got to tell you, I've used the latex before and I just found that it wasn't nearly as durable as the oil finishes.
TOM SILVA: Well, the water-based, you have to use a lot more coats.
TOM SILVA: And the benefit to that is you can put a lot more coats on in one day, so your finish is dry; you can usually walk on it with no problem the next day.
TOM SILVA: On oil-based finishes, definitely more durable. You're going to have a smell in the house for a few days and it's going to take you longer to put that finish on. It's also going to give a little bit of an amber color. The water-based is going to – what the color of the floor is, is the color you're going to get before you put the finish on.
TOM: And one thing I've learned on the oil-based finishes, despite what it says on the can label, there's no such thing as quick-dry polyurethane.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. No, no. And you don't want to rush that either.
LESLIE: Now, if you do rush and apply a second coat before that first one is really cured, it's possible it'll never dry, right?
TOM SILVA: Well, it takes a lot longer for it to dry. It can become gummy or tacky and you can actually get some rippling in the finish, also. So you've got to be careful.
LESLIE: Then you have to do everything all over again.
TOM SILVA: All over again. And you want to sand lightly between each coat, too, to keep it nice …
LESLIE: Using the same orbital sander or …?
TOM SILVA: No, you can sand with a stick, like a drywall stick. Put some sandpaper on it; use 100 to 120-grit paper. And change the paper regularly, because it will gum up a little bit.
TOM: Now, when you're all done, is it important to wait some period of time before you kind of reload and start really using that room heavily? I mean does it take some number of days for it to really cure and get hard?
TOM SILVA: Well, I don't like to put anybody in a room at least for about 48 hours. You can walk on it. I always tell people to walk on it with your socks; not bare feet, just socks. No shoes, no high heels and – because that finish is going to be soft for a while.
TOM: He was looking at you, Leslie. It's OK.
LESLIE: I know. No, he was really looking at you, Tom.
TOM SILVA: Hey, I wasn't looking at you, Tom.
LESLIE: Now, what about if you've just got to make a spot repair? Maybe there's a burn or a gouge mark or a scuff. Is it possible to make a repair to such a small area or do you really have to go big?
TOM SILVA: It's possible to make a repair and polyurethane but it is always going to be a patch and you are going to see it. If you've got a burn, you can go after it with a razor blade, you can go after it with a sharp edge, a sharp chisel and scrape it away. And then you can just drop a dab of polyurethane in there and hopefully it'll level itself.
But it can always look like a patch; it's very difficult to do.
TOM: And Tommy, the refinishing process is such a big job. One of the things that I've always done in my homes is instead of renting the entire sander and going that rate, if the floor is not terribly, terribly worn, how about just renting a floor buffer with a sanding screen? Is that an option?
TOM SILVA: It's absolutely an option. I put a new kitchen in my house in 1985 and I still haven't refinished that floor except recently when I just did an addition. And I basically screen the floor about every three years and basically laid two layers of urethane on top of that. And I have a lot of traffic.
TOM: Yeah, that sanding screen just takes up enough of the old finish and the dirt and the grime to give you a really fresh start.
TOM SILVA: Right, right. You're breaking the finish; you're not sanding the wood.
TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva from TV's This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
TOM: And for more tips just like that, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
And Ask This Old House is sponsored by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.
Still ahead, we're going to have tips on how you can create a kitchen backsplash in your rental without losing your security deposit. We've got tips for a faux backsplash that you can even take with you when you leave, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.
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. And we would love to hear from you, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, this hour, we are giving away, of course, fantastic home improvement advice. But what would it be without an awesome prize to go hand-in-hand with that? We've got a really great one this hour. We've got a $50 Lowe's gift card courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru, which is going to go to one lucky caller.
And you can use that gift card towards a beautiful, new, Therma-Tru Benchmark door, which is only available at Lowe's. And remember that if you are thinking about upgrading your front-entry door, go with fiberglass because it can truly cut your energy costs and then it really just amplifies your home's curb appeal.
So give us call, 888-MONEY-PIT. We'd love to hear what you're working on.
Well, let's talk about kitchen-remodeling projects. Now, they're usually expensive, right?
TOM: But there are inexpensive ways to improve the look of your kitchen and even some ways to take those improvements with you if you move.
Here's one that can add a lot of appeal. You can make your very own faux-tile backsplash that won't affect the walls of your kitchen, making it easy to take down when your lease is up or change when the whim strikes you. And most importantly, assures that there'll be no damage so that nasty landlord can't keep your security deposit.
All you need to do is measure a piece of plywood the size of the area that you want to cover. It can be an area above your kitchen sink or your range. Then tile the plywood and then hang this tiled panel of plywood in your backsplash area.
Now, the key is how do you connect it? Well, you can use some extra-long nails with very wide nailheads and simply wrap that nailhead over the top edge of the board. Or why not use screws and then work that into the design panel? Either way, just make sure it doesn't want to fall down. It's a great way to create a tiled backsplash that is easily removable.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the fastening way that Tom is mentioning, it's kind of like an old-fashioned photo album, you know, when the pictures were held in place by tabs at the corners? It's the nailhead is what's holding the panel in place against the wall.
LESLIE: So when you eventually move out and you need to remove this panel, all you really have to do is pry out those nails and then you can easily fill in the nail holes and patch with paint. And best of all, you're going to get that tiled panel that you really, truly like and want and give your kitchen that fantastic décor without doing anything to your renter's agreement.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let's get back to those phones.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Chris in Illinois needs some help with a bathroom project. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: Well, what I'm trying to do is trying to figure out what kind of plywood and flooring – like laminated or tile flooring – I can put down because I've got two little ones – two boys – that kind of like to leave the water running and that's what caused our problem in the first place – of flooring.
TOM: Oh, boy. I see. Mm-hmm. Well, I will tell you that if the choice is between a laminate floor and ceramic tile, ceramic tile is certainly going to be more water-resistant but laminate floor is reasonably water-resistant and a lot easier and less expensive to put down.
But if those cute kids of yours leave the water running, they're still going to damage the surface underneath this, so I think we're going to have to train the kids first and then decide what kind of flooring product we want to use second. But I think that my vote would probably be for a laminate floor, because of the ease of installation. Today, you don't have to glue it down; you just lock the boards together and they float in, basically, on top of the old floor.
LESLIE: And they look really nice and you can get one with almost a commercial finish on it so that if your sons are running around and they're with toy trucks or on roller skates, they're not going to damage up the floor.
CHRIS: So you know my kids pretty well then.
LESLIE: I am the mother of a son, as well.
TOM: Chris, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, here is just a horrible question for me to even be asking you. Are bedbugs keeping you up at night? If they are, get out of your house. What are you doing still sleeping in that bed?
Well, getting rid of those bedbugs is really a difficult and sometimes a long process and might require you to sleep out in the backyard which, I think, I might do. But we are going to share some suggestions on exactly where to start and how to be successful, coming up.
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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. And we would love for you to be part of Team Money Pit, so why not join The Money Pit Community? And you are going to be instantly in contact with a ton of do-it-yourselfers just like you.
And you can find out what everybody is working on and get expert advice from Tom and myself or you can just run an idea by your home improvement peers. It's all in the new and awesomely improved Community section at MoneyPit.com.
And you can post your question there. And I've got one from Prakash who writes: "I have a serious problem of unending bedbugs." I'm so sorry. "Is there an easy, homemade solution to permanently kill these bedbugs? I'm having sleepless nights and bug bites."
Move, get out, get out. Just stay in a hotel, please. Go to a hotel.
TOM: There's not even – not only is there not a homemade solution, there's barely a professional-made solution to get rid of bedbugs, as evidenced by the incredible invasion of these guys all over the country and in fact, all over the world.
I will tell you the one solution that I know absolutely works is heat treatments. Professional pest-control operators and others in this business have specialized equipment that can heat the interior of your home up to – I think it's about 130 degrees.
LESLIE: Yeah, it's like anywhere between 130 and 140 and that seems to be the magic number. Over a consistent time period – is just going to cause all of those bugs to just die, which is really what you want.
TOM: Right. If you want to see a website that features this equipment, go to HeatUpBedbugs.com. It's the website for the Quest Company. And you can see these are very big but portable furnaces that get rolled into the house and turned on and then they just go to work heating up the inside of the house.
Now, because it's 130 to 140 degrees, it's not going to harm any of your belongings, so you don't have to empty the house out. You just have to heat everything in the house up to that temperature and then that, of course, kills the bedbugs. So not a homemade solution but one that clearly works.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we've got a post from Bill who writes: "I have a metal threshold that was previously connected to the cement foundation, using glue to attach a strip of wood to the cement. Then the threshold was screwed into the wood. The threshold has come loose and attempts to re-glue the wood have been unsuccessful because there is a large crack in the cement. I have tried lag bolts into the cement but the crack is way too wide to hold these bolts. I had an idea of using premixed, concrete crack-filler, then maybe LIQUID NAILS to attach the wood, in which I can then screw the metal down. Do you have any other suggestions?"
That just seems like a lot of piecemeal.
TOM: It does and a couple of things come to mind, Bill. First, filling the crack does seem like a good first step but you want to make sure that you do this with the right product. You need to use a very good-quality patching compound. QUIKRETE makes one that is, in fact, called a concrete patching compound. You can't use regular concrete because it won't stick.
LESLIE: It's never going to stick.
TOM: Exactly. So, using the concrete patching compound is the hot ticket.
Secondly, have you – you mentioned lag bolts. Have you tried Tapcon fasteners? I mean these can be drilled right into the concrete. They've got great holding power in concrete or in the patching compound-repaired areas. You can attach the threshold directly to the concrete and this way, you'll get much better holding power with the Tapcons than you ever could with any adhesive.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Having that wood sort of as a filler in between that metal threshold and the concrete, you're inviting decay and moisture. You know, it's better to just get that wood out of the equation, wouldn't you think?
TOM: Clearly the way to go.
LESLIE: So, Bill, definitely get on that. QUIKRETE has a wonderful line of products that are perfect for repairing and repatching concrete and that's really the best place to start.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We had fun. We hope that you did, too. And if you've got a question any time of the day or night, remember that you can always call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not on the air, we will call you back the next time we are. And also visit us online at MoneyPit.com.
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 2011 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.)