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: 1:00]
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 now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 with your home improvement question. What do you want to work on? Let us help you get the job done. Maybe you're ready for a kitchen makeover. Maybe it's time for some new floors. Maybe you installed a brand new basketball hoop in your driveway - you know, against the garage - this holiday season but now you need some advice on how to replace the window (Leslie laughs) because the basketball crashed in there. Hey, we can help you with that, too. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We've got a great show planned for you this hour. Coming up, we're going to be talking about a trend in new construction that's here to stay: prefabricated homes. But if you're thinking that prefab is maybe not so fab, you might be surprised. This hour we're going to talk about why factory-made homes are often built better than those that are constructed onsite.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you've got a lot of woodwork and moulding in your home, well good for you. Those details are so wonderful and beautiful and they really do add a lot of character to your home. But you probably have already guessed or found out the hard way that painting or staining them can be downright tricky. We're going to tell you exactly how to do just that in just a few minutes.
TOM: And also ahead, can your marriage survive your home remodeling project? Has your contractor become your marriage counselor? Believe it or not, it's not uncommon for a major renovation to take a big toll on that wedded bliss. How do we know? Well, because we know a divorce attorney who's written a book on just that. She's going to be joining us at the bottom of the hour. It's War of the Roses home improvement edition coming up.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we're giving away a great prize package. It's a shovel prize pack from our friends over at Ames True Temper. They've got three very different shovels that are going to help your back deal with some very heavy loads in the winter, in the summer. It's all worth 70 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Ooh, going far north with Cathy in Alaska. Welcome. How can we help you?
CATHY: We have an older home. When we moved in there's a lot of telephone wires and cable wires all like wrapped around the outside of the house ...
CATHY: ... running from the box all over the place and we're trying to get some of that cleaned up and moved out of the way so we can paint. And we had been told that if we start - because these wires seem to not be connected to anything.
CATHY: We were told - like especially the telephone wires - if we went to take those off that we could disconnect the telephone wires and mess the whole thing up. But we have some running all over the place; the outside (inaudible). How do we begin to clean this mess up?
TOM: Well, certainly if you happen to take down the active telephone line you could disconnect your service. But if you say it's not connected to anything then it's just a matter of tracing that wire and seeing where it goes. I know what you mean because a lot of times, over the years, utility companies and cable companies use subcontractors as installers ...
TOM: ... and they get paid by the job. So the faster they get the house wired and on to the next one the more money they make and that ends up with a lot of ...
LESLIE: And they never disassemble the old stuff.
TOM: Yeah, it ends up with a lot of very sloppy wiring around the country. (Cathy chuckles) And so, your options are to try to do it yourself, very carefully, if you can identify which are the live or not. But if not, you know what? It might be worth just spending $75 or $100 on the skills of an electrician that can test all the circuits, identify which are hot and pull down all the rest that are not. It will look a lot neater and you'll be a lot more happy and you can get the house painted.
CATHY: OK, great. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Cathy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ted in Illinois has an insulation question. What's going on your money pit?
TED: I've got a home and I'm finishing the basement. It was partially finished when I purchased the home but it's just basically stud walls and insulated. And I was - when I get finished with the drywall and everything, on the floor - of course it's around the St. Louis area so, obviously, it gets cold in the winter and the basement floors seem like they're always the coldest.
TED: And carpeting tends to be better but I would like to put that laminate floor down.
TED: But I was wondering if there's an - if it's acceptable to put some kind of an insulation underneath that laminate and kind of let it float on top of that insulation like that.
TOM: Yeah, you absolutely can and, typically, what you're going to do is put down plastic sheeting first across the entire floor; a vapor barrier.
LESLIE: To act as a moisture barrier.
TOM: Right. And then you can put your insulation board on top of that and then you could put your laminate floor on top of that. There are a variety of different types of insulating board. You know, Dow makes some different products. I would recommend those that lock together or those that can be taped together so that they don't move.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) This way you don't get a lot of movement.
LESLIE: Especially with a laminate floor sort of floating on top of that. You want to make sure things are as sturdy in your subfloor situation as you can.
TOM: But remember, Ted, that if you do that, you're going to be creating a floor that's a good inch thick or so. So make sure you account for that at doorways or at the bottom of the staircase and other places like that.
TED: OK. So like would like a blue styrofoam board work ...
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm. Yep.
TED: ... or is there stuff specifically made for that?
TOM: Well, there is insulation specifically made for laminate floors but it's very thin. It's more designed to sort of even out the ridges and the peaks and the valleys of a concrete slab or a wood floor that it's going on top of. And depending on which line of laminate floor you choose, you're going to have a different type of insulation product. Some of them are attached to the bottom of the laminates. Some of them come in rolls and go down right before the laminates. What you're talking about is doing some additional insulation and for that you're going to have to use a different product.
TED: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Ted. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Hey, give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whenever that home improvement bug strikes you. We can help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, building a new home can require a whole lot of work. But there is one type of new home that can save you time and headaches throughout the entire process. Find out what it is, after this.
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[audio timestamp: 11:13]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question. If you are operating under the belief that there is such a thing as a structural paint, you're probably wrong. We can give you better than that to stop the roof from caving in. Call us right now with your question. 888-666-3974. Because one caller we talk to today is going to win a snowstorm prize pack from Ames True Temper. It's worth 70 bucks. It comes with three shovels designed for three specific purposes. It's got one called the Penguin Pusher, which pushes the snow out of the way, and then the Ergo Plus has a nice, comfortable grip for extended shoveling duties and a Snow Blazer that's got a really extra-wide blade and it'll blow that snow away and have your walks clean in no time.
LESLIE: Alright, well if that winter weather has got you indoors thinking about perhaps building your own house or buying a new home, basically you're dreaming about that new home of your dreams, you might want to think about a prefab house. Well, if that idea doesn't sound so fab to you, think again. Prefab homes are quite wonderful because modular homes, they're factory built and then they're shipped to the site. They're not only cost effective but their quality is topnotch. By building the home in an enclosed factory setting, weather is going to have little effect on the construction process. And then the quality can be meticulously maintained. Plus, with hundreds of designs to choose from, you are going to be sure to find one that meets your needs, your budgets and your dreams. So think again about prefab homes.
TOM: We worked on prefabricated homes for many, many years when I was in college and putting myself through college.
TOM: I worked for a prefab home builder in the summers and they used to bring the homes out on a truck and they - the cab of the truck would turn into a crane and it would lift the wall sections in place. It's what's called a panelized home so everything was sort of prebuilt in the factory. And you could put this house up like in a weekend. It was the most amazing thing. And everything fit perfectly. So they really are a great way of building a house.
Hey, do you want to build a house or maybe something smaller? Maybe you just want to build a dog house. We can help you with that if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we've got Lynn in Georgia who's got a question about patching a hole in drywall. Is there a good story that goes along with this?
LYNN: .(chuckling) Well, yes ma'am. Actually it's my ceiling in the corner of my bathroom shower. (dog barks)
LYNN: I put in a tension rod for my shower to hold the shampoos and things ...
LYNN: ... and when I did that, over a period of weeks I looked up and realized that my ceiling was coming apart. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Oh, too much tension on that ceiling.
LYNN: And now I can see up into the attic. (Leslie gasps)
TOM: (chuckling) Alright.
LYNN: So I'm not sure what to do about it. We took down the tension rod obviously but the ceiling stayed up.
LYNN: The roof did.
LYNN: And I don't know. Do I have to go up from the ceiling to fix it? What's the best way to repair that? And it's a popcorn ceiling.
TOM: Oh no, on top of that.
LESLIE: Ooh, a popcorn ceiling in the bathroom?
TOM: Is there a physical hole in the ceiling now, where it was?
LYNN: It came apart in the corners and so it just lifted up that whole corner and the tape that's there.
TOM: Hmm. OK, well what you're going to have to do in this case is, first of all, spray the ceiling and the popcorn with some water. Put it in a spray bottle; start scraping it off. Because you have to get that area smooth. And then this next step is you're going to get some fiberglass drywall tape, which is kind of meshy and sticky, and lay it into the corner where the crack is and the third step is to spackle above that. You'll probably need two to three coats. Do it very, very small; very thin. And then after it's done sand it. There is some popcorn sort of ceiling repair textured stuff that comes like in a can ...
LYNN: I've seen that.
TOM: ... and you can squirt it on there to put the texture back. And then the last thing you're probably going to have to do is paint the whole thing because the color won't match but you can paint it. Use one of the big, slit rollers that hold a lot of paint and works well around the popcorn.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you want the slit roller because the slots on it will open up around each sort of popcorn texture and not pull it off as you're painting it. Because if you use a basic roller it's going to pull all of it off. It's going to be a giant mess.
LYNN: I had thought about taking the popcorn off of that bathroom. I did in my other bathroom.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
LYNN: And I listened to your show and I also heard how you were telling someone to first put on KILZ or something to treat - to lock in so the moisture doesn't get down and then paint with a ceiling paint and - with a regular paint; a good paint. Well, I did that and it still - it's lumpy, number one. I didn't do a very good job. After I put the paint on, then I could see all the blemishes on my nice, flat, not-flat ceiling. (chuckles) And ...
LESLIE: Did you use a paint with a sheen?
LYNN: I did not. I tried to use just a flat paint. Well, actually it has a little, tiny bit. It's probably the next one up.
LESLIE: OK, like an eggshell or a sateen.
LYNN: Yes, I used an eggshell. That's what I used.
LESLIE: Yeah, well the eggshell sometimes gives a texture of it's own because that's why they call it eggshell because it sort of has that texture-y type surface to it. You really want to make sure that once you get that popcorn off, if you've got any odd spots sand them down; make sure you really pay attention to it and again, use that primer and use the ceiling paint and go with a flat finish and it should do the trick. I mean you're never going to get it perfect because of all that texture that was there unless you put up new drywall.
LYNN: Oh. So is there a product that I could have kind of a wavy ceiling that wouldn't attract all the dirt; that I could just paint over?
LESLIE: Hmm, a wavy ceiling. Something with another type of texture?
LYNN: Correct. That wouldn't - yes, that would be easier to wash but give it some texture so it would camouflage the mistake.
TOM: Well, there are texture additives to paint that you could add in there but I do think they are difficult to clean.
LESLIE: Well, but also if you put a whole, entire coat of spackle on the ceiling and get those texturing tools - you know, just like the sponge or that round brush - you can make little swirls. Like you can make a texture out of ...
TOM: Out of spackle?
LESLIE: Out of spackle.
TOM: Yeah, I actually did that in my dining room and it still looks good many years later. But it's hard to clean.
LYNN: It can't be worse than popcorn. (chuckling)
LESLIE: No, nothing is.
TOM: (chuckling) No. Lynn, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
I actually answered this question on my AOL blog a couple of weeks ago ...
LESLIE: Oh, yeah?
TOM: ... about removing a popcorn ceiling. So go to the AOL real estate section, click on my picture and you can find the answer right there.
LYNN: Thank you.
LESLIE: Gary in New Jersey has a siding question. What can we help you with?
GARY: I just purchased a home and I powerwashed. It has cedar shake siding all around. It's on the water. And I wanted to know what I should do. Should I seal it in the spring with some type of sealing product or just leave it natural? I certainly don't want to paint it. I'm going to leave it natural. But should I seal the cedar siding?
LESLIE: Is there anything on it now?
GARY: There's nothing. It's natural cedar. Just it was built up over eight or ten years and I had it powerwashed and it came up beautiful.
GARY: I just don't know if I should, you know, seal it while it's exposed.
TOM: Well, you don't have to seal it but there a couple of things you could do. First of all, if you wanted to retain the color that it has now you do need to solid stain it because it's going to fade and gray.
LESLIE: Well, not with a solid stain. You could use a semi-transparent or even a sheer just to give it a protective coating. A solid stain is going to deposit a color onto it in an opacity similar to paint. But if you go with a semi-transparent or a sheer or even something that's a clear; maybe something like Flood's UWF - I'm sorry, CWF. It's like a clear wood finish. You can get it in a natural tone. It's not - or even just clear. And that's going to bring resistancy to mold; especially since you're right by the water. Sun damage, blistering, checking, cracking. I mean you do want to have something on there because it is going to dry out eventually.
TOM: See, I disagree on the semi-transparent. I like to use the solid stains because I know that pigment means it's going to last a lot longer and, to me, solid stain doesn't look like paint because paint has a sheen but the solid stain still lets the grain of the wood come through.
If you don't want to go with any of those ideas, the least I would is I would use boiled linseed oil ...
TOM: ... and you could apply that and that will preserve the shingles and help them retain their integrity and shed some water.
GARY: Now can I spray that or does it have to be applied with a brush?
TOM: No, you could spray it.
LESLIE: Yeah, you could spray it.
TOM: Either way you could spray it. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: And I think if you have questions about what a solid stain, what a semi-transparent, what a sheer or a clear one looks like, head to a local home center. You know, regardless of the manufacturer they're going to have samples and all of them carry, you know, semi-transparent clear and solids. This way you'll see what it looks like on a cedar sample in the store so you can see what the opacity is. This way you know what you're getting into before you apply something.
GARY: Obviously there's variations because it's natural wood but I don't want to have it really dark.
TOM: Well, you can choose a lighter one. I mean there's lots and lots of opportunities here. You know, listen. Cedar shingles are cheap. So what I would do is I'd go out and buy a handful of cedar shingles. Buy some pint-size cans of the stains that you're thinking about working with and apply a coat or two and see what you think. You know, I solid stained my house and it's been up there like, oh, it's got to be 12, 13 years now.
LESLIE: Well, yeah. With a solid stain you're going to get 15 years on a vertical surface. But ...
TOM: Yep, exactly.
LESLIE: But you know, it gives you a saturation of the color. Instead of like paint sitting on top, it soaks into the wood and you'll still see graining but, you know, it's a color deposit.
TOM: Gary, give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lillian in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LILLIAN: You can tell me what to do about my radiators, please.
TOM: Well, what's happening with them, Lillian?
LILLIAN: Not a heck of a lot. I have a problem in that I have several bedrooms on my second floor that I do not use.
LILLIAN: And I've been told, 'Yes, you should cut off the radiators and keep the doors closed' and then others say, 'No, no. That's a waste. You should leave the radiators on and still keep the doors closed.'
TOM: I don't see any reason you can't turn them off. Do you have hot water heat?
LILLIAN: I don't know.
TOM: Or is it steam? Are they sort of small radiators or are they really big ones?
LILLIAN: I don't know. They stand upright about maybe two, two-and-a-half feet tall ...
TOM: Mm-hmm. And ...
LILLIAN: ... about a foot-and-a-half long.
TOM: Yeah, sounds like a steam system. Do you get a lot of pinging and banging and noise when the heating system comes on?
LILLIAN: Not a lot but I do get some.
TOM: Well, it sounds like a steam system and certainly you can turn off the valves. Whether it's steam or hot water you can turn the valves off at the base of the radiators and just not use them.
LILLIAN: And keep the doors closed, of course?
TOM: And keep the doors closed and that means that you're going to be heating less of the house.
Now, where is your thermostat? Is it upstairs or downstairs?
TOM: OK, good. So then the thermostat will not be affected and you'll simply be turning the heat off upstairs. The only concern I have is are there any water pipes in any of these rooms? Are you next to a bathroom? I wouldn't turn off the radiator in the bathroom because I don't want you to freeze those pipes.
LILLIAN: Or anything else.
LESLIE: (chuckling) True.
TOM: Absolutely. (laughs)
Alright, Lillian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LILLIAN: I appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Up next, don't let your home improvement project take it's toll on your marriage. We're going to hear firsthand horror stories - that's right, we've got the scoop - from a divorce attorney whose clients' marriages did not survive their home makeover projects. Juicy details, coming up.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
So you know, Tom, I cannot stress this enough.
LESLIE: When you start working on a remodel at home, whether you're doing it yourself or you're hiring somebody, it always tends to stir up the pot. And even, you know, seasoned pros like us. I did major work on my house. I hired some of it out. I did some myself. It caused so much strife between me and my husband. (Tom laughs) And it's crazy because couples, you know, they talk about their dream home all the time. In fact, that's all a lot of them do. And rarely do they even get to live in their dream home after that sawdust settles because a major renovation, we know it can be stressful and sometimes it can even cause cracks in a marriage that just, sometimes, are beyond repair.
TOM: And who knows that better than our next guest. Joining us with some firsthand horror stories is Laura Myer who is a divorce attorney and author of Remodel This: A Woman's Guide to Planning and Surviving the Madness of a Home Renovation.
How about some tips for the guys too, Laura?
LAURA: Oh well, there are definitely tips for the guys. (Tom laughs) This doesn't work one way. (chuckling) But you know, construction is a very male-dominated business, so I thought about writing a book for the gals.
TOM: So I have to ask you, with your experience as a divorce attorney, had you been involved in divorce cases where home remodeling projects gone awry ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Was the cause. (chuckling)
TOM: ... had caused some stress?
LAURA: I absolutely have. I actually had one man who walked into my office and started out by saying, 'I am here because my walls are yellow.' (Tom and Leslie laugh) And then he went - you know, he went on to explain that his wife, he felt, was very much of a control freak and it was all about where she wanted the kids to go to school and it was all about where she wanted to go on vacation. And the one thing he asked her to do in their remodel was not paint the walls yellow.
LAURA: He just knew everything would be a battle. That was his one request and he walked in one day and his entryway was painted yellow. He left in the morning. They hadn't done the painting. He walked in and he said, 'That's it.'
TOM: That was the breaking point, huh?
LAURA: I mean that was one case that really stuck in my mind as I was writing the book. I mean it kind of just says it all. He really started with that line.
TOM: Well, I've got to tell you. We all know that remodeling projects are pretty stressful because it's kind of hard to explain, even in the years I was a contractor, it's very hard to explain to the homeowners what to expect ...
TOM: ... when their life is really turned upside down. I mean everything changes. Not only does your house ...
LESLIE: Well, it's disruptive.
TOM: Yeah, not only does your house physically change but it changes your routine, you know? You can't use the microwave or the bathroom or some other room in your house. You can't use the front door. You have to go to the back because something is wet.
TOM: So it really is pretty stressful. So how do you break it down and what kind of advice do you have for the guys and the gals out there to help them get through these projects?
LAURA: Well, first of all, you know, one of the most divisive issues is money. So it's really important, even - you know, there are many couples where, you know, one is really more financially oriented and the other is not and that works for them. Most of the time it's OK. But when you get into a major renovation it's really important that both of you are in the loop. I would definitely talk about finances ahead of time; what you think you can put into this. As you know, that doesn't mean you are going to have a budget immediately. It takes a lot of work and plans to get to the point where you know what it's going to cost. But you should have some idea about what you both feel comfortable spending. So that's, you know, one thing.
And then also, the relationship with the contractor is a very, very important thing and even if one person is handling more of the day to day it's important ...
LESLIE: Which is stressful.
LAURA: Which is stressful, yes, but it's important that both of you feel comfortable with the contractor that you hire. And then talk about your respective roles. So yes, who is going to be supervising things on a day-to-day basis; who will be the point person, whether it's with contractor, architect, designer or other person. And make sure that you make a pact to keep each other in the loop as you go along. I think when changes to the project are discussed which - or anything that's discussed that can change the budget or affect how much the costs are going to ...
LESLIE: Or the duration of the project.
LAURA: Or the - I was just going to say that. Or anything - yeah, anything major like, you know, duration. It's important you sit down together and talk about it or talk about it with the contractor.
TOM: Yeah, and I've got news for you. Not only do you have to document and talk about changes between yourselves. You have to talk about them with the contractors because contractors kind of almost flippantly will say, 'Oh, so you want the hole on the other side of the room' and they'll just do it and then all of a sudden, you know, two months later ...
LESLIE: It raises the cost.
TOM: Yeah, because there's never been a conversation about the impact on the overall budget. That's why we are strong advocates of using change orders ...
TOM: ... which, of course, you know as an attorney is a document that you sit down with and fill out with the contractor at the time those decisions are made that say, 'You know, this change is ...' You know, you describe the change. You say, 'This is going to have the following effect on the budget.' It's either going to add X number of dollars or it's going to detract a certain number of dollars. But at least you have some ongoing record of how these things change and the communication is really the key. And this way, at the end of the whole project, you're still talking to your contractor and, most importantly, you're still talking to each other. (Leslie chuckles)
LAURA: That's right. And then you know, another thing that I want to say is that - and I've noticed this especially with young couples who have not stood the test of time, necessarily, and this may be the first situation in their marriage where there's a lot of disruption and chaos - it's really important to set aside some time to still enjoy each other and not obsessively talk about the remodel. (Leslie chuckles) Because that's another thing that happens. It just takes over the marriage. It takes over your life. There are boxes everywhere. There's disruption and chaos. And so it's important to, you know, keep some perspective that this is, after all, intended to be your dream home ...
LAURA: ... and not something that you sell because (laughing) you're getting divorced.
TOM: We're talking to Laura Myer. She's a divorce attorney and expertly, therefore, qualified to write the following book: Remodel This: A Woman's Guide to Planning and Surviving the Madness of a Home Renovation.
That last story reminds me, Laura, of some very good friends of mine that when they bought their very first condo the wife decided that she didn't like the wallpaper in any room of the house and then set about tearing it all down at the same time. And so, this beautiful condo that they had looked kind of a bit choppy, shall we say, for about the next three to six months while they were getting - it came down pretty quick. It didn't go back up, though, quite so quickly.
Laura, any final tips for, say, the number thing that people need to be concerned about when they're tackling this project to make sure they can stay together throughout it?
LAURA: Yes, I'll give you one more tip and I think it's a really important one because I not only practice divorce law but also real estate, actually, and I run a remodeling consultation. I've kind of taken all of this full circle. But I think it's very important for both parties to understand the difference between an estimate and a bid. Because one of the things that happens is, you know, you meet together with contractors; you get some idea of what it's going to cost; he throws out some numbers. And a lot of people don't understand that, you know, those very preliminary numbers don't necessarily, you know, have any meaning as to what it's going to cost in the end. And so, if both people have - you know, both husband and wife understand that, you know, you really have to take it together one step further to really have a handle on cost, that will really help the money issues that a husband and wife can have when one is just running with it and those numbers end up coming in so far beyond what maybe the other thought they were going to be initially.
TOM: Laura Myer, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Laura's book, Remodel This: A Woman's Guide to Planning and Surviving the Madness of a Home Renovation, is available at Amazon.com, in Barnes & Noble. And Laura can also be reached at her website which is RemodelThis.net.
LAURA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks, Laura. Too bad we couldn't get you to spill any details (Tom chuckles) about who those clients were. Hmm.
Alright, folks. Well, maybe your next project is repainting interior woodwork. Well, it does call for some careful planning and the right materials. We're going to brush you up on all the details, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And the number here over at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you give us a call and ask your question on the air you could be our lucky weekly prize winner. This hour we're giving away a snowstorm prize pack from our friends over at Ames True Temper. It's got three different types of shovels for all of your snow removal needs. Heck, if you don't have snow if your neck of the woods you can find a ton of different things to do with these shovels as well. So it's worth it for you to call in now. Package is worth 80 bucks so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Alright, it's time to tackle an interior painting project. That's painting your trim. Now remember, the first step in any good paint job is preparation. But sanding that trimwork is pretty tricky. To save time, you want to use a sanding sponge, available at any home center or hardware store, or a detail sander to prepare the unique contours of your woodwork. I like the sanding sponges. If you can find one they are great because they're soft and squishy and they do a really good, abrasive job at getting that trim ready to go. Once you have it sanded, make sure you wipe it down with a tack cloth. Then apply a primer and a finish coat on top and it's going to be looking absolutely great.
LESLIE: We're going to talk to Jeff in South Carolina and give him a hand with a tiling project. How can we help?
JEFF: What I'm trying to find out is I have helped people do tile on a professional basis as well as personal and doing it with the professionals, any time they put tile on a wall they normally took the sheetrock out and used like a wire mesh that they put the mud against.
JEFF: The people that are doing it at home are putting the tile directly on the sheetrock. And I'm wanting to do it and I'm not sure if I can just put it on the sheetrock and depend on it staying there.
TOM: Well, you can. You'd have to use a mastic. But Leslie and I actually had a chance to work with a brand new product that's going to be out this year. I'm not sure when you're planning on doing this project but it's called Bondera (sp) and it's a tile mastic that comes in a sheet form. It's like on a roll.
LESLIE: It's like a giant sticker.
TOM: It's sort of like contact paper. You peel the adhesive off one side, put it down - put it on the wall and then you peel the adhesive off the other side and apply the tiles to it. So it's a really cool way of applying tiles to walls.
LESLIE: And the nice part about it is that you don't have to deal with the mess of putting, you know, an even, smooth mastic base so you don't have to worry about, you know, any unevenness. And it's so thick it almost likes like a water barrier because it is like a plastic-y membrane.
The other thing is, you know, especially if it's going to be sort of in a bath situation behind a sink, I would definitely say remove that drywall and go with like a greenboard or some sort of cement backer just because you're dealing with a lot of moisture. If it's for a kitchen backsplash, then you can go ahead and put it right over the drywall.
JEFF: OK. See, my biggest fear was the weight of the tile on that sheetrock. I didn't know if it was going to be able to hold it from the sides (ph) very well.
TOM: No, it will adhere to it, Jeff, and using either the Bondera (sp) or using a mastic would work. But the point is that the Bondera (sp) is just a heck of a lot easier. Leslie and I did - I don't know. What did we do? How many square feet of countertop?
LESLIE: I would say about 100 - well, we did about 60 feet of counter and, you know, linear feet.
TOM: Yeah, about 60 linear feet of counter plus backsplash with this product and we were tiling and grouting in one day.
JEFF: Thanks very much for your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit and when we come back we're going to jump into the Money Pit e-mail bag and answer an e-mail for a listener who's got a drafty skylight situation and they're wondering if it's really worth that energy loss. Well, we've got all the answers when we get back.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better since 1996. That's when we started this program. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Soup to nuts and floorboards to shingles, we are here to help you get your home improvement projects done. But you've got to help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Or go to our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and we will get to your e-mails.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got one here from Paul in Greensboro, North Carolina who writes: 'I need a real solution to a drafty skylight. We get cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer. Not sure the extra light is even worth keeping it. How can we cover it or reduce the draft?'
TOM: Well, Paul, first of all, if you have a good quality skylight then we don't have to worry about leaks through the unit itself. Generally, if we have leaks it's because of the way the skylight was installed. And a skylight comes a couple of different ways. The real inexpensive ones are like these plastic bubbles that are like flush with the roof. Bad idea. Very leaky. Very short-lived. If you get a curved skylight, which is like a square box that sits on top of your roof, that is a much better way to go. The two brands that I like the best are Pella and Andersen. Both of them have very similar flashing systems; like a step flashing system that goes up along the sides and then a counter flashing system that covers the top.
One more thing that you could do is you could use a high-tech flashing product to make sure you seal around there; some of the flashing products that are flexible and bend and they not only seal out the water but they seal out the air, too. Grace makes one called Vycor Plus that works very well.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got another here from Mark in North Kingston, Rhode Island who writes: 'I have a flagstone walkway and the mortar between the stones is breaking apart. Can I clean it out and repoint it like you can do with bricks?'
TOM: Yeah, but it doesn't last so long, does it?
LESLIE: No, it doesn't because especially with flagstone you get so much movement ...
LESLIE: ... that those mortar joints are just going to keep breaking up.
TOM: Typically, what happens with flagstone is you're not putting that down on soil like you would a paver or sand. You're putting it down on concrete. So you're going to have a fair amount of wear and tear and expansion and contraction associated with that type of insulation. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do it but it's not going to last more than, I'd say, five years in the northeast.
LESLIE: Yeah, if that. It's just a project you're going to have to keep on top of.
TOM: Hey, sometimes we perceive that home improvement projects have to take a lot of time but that is not the case. Say you only have a half-hour. Wondering what you can do? Leslie's got some suggestions on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, we have got so many ideas and projects that will only take you about 30 minutes. They're maintenance ideas. We're only going to give you a few of them because we could go on and on for hours. But when you've got a half an hour to spare, here's some ideas.
Think about recaulking your bathtub because bathtubs, they're the closest thing in a home to a boat and all that proximity to water wears on that caulk, which you know, eventually will need to be replaced. You want to make sure you remove the old caulk first. You can use a caulk softener to sort of help you with that. Then you want to clean that area with a bleach and water solution, let it dry really well then go ahead - here's the trick of the trade that Tom and I love to share - fill that tub with water then go ahead and reapply the caulk. Once it's dry, drain that tub and you'll see it sort of lifts back up and this way you don't have to worry about that caulk stretching or not fitting if you didn't fill it with water before.
Another idea is to drain your water heater. You know, your water heater can build up sediment and all of that in the bottom and it makes them less efficient. If you want to keep yours running at peak efficiency, use your tank's drain valve to carefully let out a few gallons of water out of the tank every six months.
Lastly, bleed excess air from your hot water radiators. Go ahead and turn up the heat in your home and then check each radiator all across the house. If you find that one is cold at the top, bleed the excess air from it using a bleeding key. Open up that bleed valve. Give it about a half a turn until you hear the air hissing out. When that air stops hissing and the water starts to dribble out, then all of that air has been successfully drained and your radiator should fully heat up. It's going to save you a lot of energy dollars.
TOM: Need some more tips? Need some more ideas? Need some more techniques for tackling your home improvement projects? They are available on our website at MoneyPit.com. Just click on the project finder.
That's all the time we have. 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 2007 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.)