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 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 0:00:25.0]
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: Pick up the phone. Give us a call. Let us help you make your home improvement projects just a little bit easier. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We're here to help you get those jobs done. 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, you definitely don't want to spend a lot of cash these days and your nest egg may be waning a little bit with the stock fluctuation but there is one investment that is sure to pay off and, of course, it is your house. Maintaining the investment and making the modest upgrades now that can bring you the most bang for your buck are real important. So on today's show, we're going to start what will be a brand new series. We call it Recession-Proof Home Improvement Investments. That's coming up, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, it's almost time to get ready for spring. That's right, this cold winter is almost over. We're going to tell you what plants and flowers will thrive best in your garden, no matter where you live.
TOM: And we've also got some tips on how you can spruce up your wood floors with an idea that might be a little bit out there for some of you: paint. (Leslie chuckles) Yes, many folks today are actually applying paint to wood floors. Why should you consider that? Well, there are a few very good reasons and we're going to cover those in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: Plus, we're giving away a great prize this hour, in my opinion. We have got a copy of our book to one listener this hour. That's right, we are giving away a copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure and I bet you we could arrange that it be signed especially for you.
TOM: Possibly. 888-666-3974. Let's get right to those phones.
LESLIE: I think we've got some pull with the authors.
TOM: Yeah, I think so. (Leslie chuckles)
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Hey, John in New York is dealing with a construction job that is getting out of hand price-wise. What's going on?
JOHN: How you doing? My mother actually let a construction person give her an estimate for gutters and fascia boards.
JOHN: And it started off as a $2,600 job and they pulled the fascia boards down and the gutters down and then pushed her into saying that she needed a new roof to be put on.
JOHN: And then they ripped the roof off and then they said that the siding - that the water is dripping behind the walls and the siding had to be ripped off.
TOM: Oh, wow. That's ridiculous.
JOHN: So when - by the time I got involved the entire house was stripped down to the 2x4s.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, my gosh.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, my God.
JOHN: And this is two days before we were going to have a major snowstorm ...
JOHN: ... and we decided - it started off as a $2,600 job, snowballed into a $57,000 job.
LESLIE: Of course.
LESLIE: I mean roofing and siding, that's pretty pricy.
TOM: This sounds like a total rip-off.
JOHN: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, I called Consumer Complaints and they said that these people had about 60 complaints on them.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ah.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, boy.
JOHN: And ...
TOM: Has your mother paid them all this money?
JOHN: Well, she paid them about $20,000.
LESLIE: Oh, my God.
JOHN: The whole while she was telling them that she didn't have any money to pay for this and they arranged financing on $15,000.
LESLIE: Oh, my God. Did she sign something? Did they arrange this?
JOHN: She doesn't believe that she signed anything but ...
JOHN: ... I'm yet to see any information to be returned to me from the ...
JOHN: ... lending company on the contract.
LESLIE: And what is the state that the house is in now?
JOHN: Well, actually, you know what? They did an excellent job putting it back together again.
TOM: OK. And you're pretty sure that your mom has only paid them 20,000 of the 57 that they thought they had coming to them?
TOM: Alright. Here's what I would do, John; a couple of things. First of all, if you've not done it before, I would take an opportunity to basically interview your mother and make very detailed notes as to, you know, dates, times, places, what was said, what was done so you have a written record of everything that went on here. The second thing I would do is I would write them a letter and tell them that under no circumstances are they to do any further work on this house. And the third thing I would do is I would get an attorney to correspond with them and let them come after you for the money. Let them chase you if they think that they're owed additional money because it sounds to me like they clearly took advantage of her. I'd also make sure that if the attorney says that anything that they did was criminal, I would file a criminal complaint with the local police as well and follow it through; because it very well may be that what they've done was illegal in some sense of the word.
JOHN: Alright. Thank you very much. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. What a terrible story.
LESLIE: Gosh, that's so awful.
TOM: Those guys are out there.
LESLIE: Ringing doorbells, hoping to get somebody.
TOM: Yeah, they ring doorbells and they say, 'You've got a problem lady but no worries; we're just the guys to fix it for you.'
LESLIE: We swooped in just in time; now, right us a check.
TOM: (overlapping voices) We're here to save you.
LESLIE: Ah, God, that's awful.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to lend you a hand to get those spring home improvements organized and ready to hit the home improvement work table. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we are here to lend you a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, do you have a wood floor that's a little too boring for your taste? Well, you can actually spruce that floor up with paint for an amazing result. We'll have details on how to get that project done, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:43.8]
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.
Hey, pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour, who asks us their home improvement question, is going to get a chance to win a copy of our book. It's called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure and it is chock full of great tips, tricks of the trade and all of this information that we love to present to you is, you know, served up with a little sense of humor, just like we give you every week here at The Money Pit. All you have to do is give us a call with your home improvement question and you could be the lucky caller. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Now, if your hardwood floors are looking pretty beat-up these days, you could refinish them but you could also sand them down a little and paint them. Give your home - it would give your home sort of a cottage-y, seashore kind of feel. You could paint a checkerboard pattern, you can paint a border, you can paint a design; even sort of a faux rug right on top of your wood floors. It really does look amazing.
Now the key, of course, is proper preparation. Make sure you both sand and prime both bare wood or previously varnished floors. After you paint, you want to seal the paint with a water-based polyurethane. This will keep the paint looking great longer; makes it also a lot easier to clean. The ideas are really endless in terms of the designs and the floor will definitely go from boring to charming in just one simple project.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? If you're not feeling so confident to sort of tackle something freehand, if you head over to your local art or craft shop you will be surprised to see how many stencils there are out there that if you sort of lay them out in a repetitive pattern, you can create a beautiful rug look for the floor and you can even find one that looks like a tassel.
And here's a tip: if you sort of paint the tassel first in a dark tone and then once it's dry, shift it just slightly over the original tassel that you stenciled onto the floor with a lighter tone, you create instant shadow and it gives it dimension.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Now we're going to head over to Tennessee and chat with Kenny about a roofing question. How can we help you?
KENNY: Hi. We live in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Get a lot of rain and snow and wind and ...
KENNY: ... we're looking at replacing 15-year-old asphalt shingles on our roof within the next year or so.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
KENNY: Our question is a lot of people in our area have been replacing their shingles with metal roofing.
KENNY: And we're wondering what the advantages would be or if we need to just stick with what we've got.
TOM: Well, metal roofing is really what's called investment-grade roofing. It lasts a lifetime.
TOM: It's very, very expensive; I'll just tell you that. But it's beautiful. It also can be more energy-efficient for your home because there are low-e coatings in the paint that actually reflects the sunlight; so in an area like Tennessee it will keep it a lot cooler in the summer.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it can be cost-effective in the way that because the metal roof itself is so lightweight, you're not going to have to remove the existing shingle underneath it; you can go right on top of that. Where if you were to go with another asphalt shingle, depending on layers and depending on how long you're going to be in the house, you would have to get rid of everything that was there.
TOM: Now, on the flip side, there's nothing wrong with the asphalt shingles. If you're concerned about storm-resistance, you can put in a shingle that's wind-resistant. Owens Corning makes a shingle that can stand up to 130 mile-per-hour wind.
LESLIE: Now, do you happen to know what the lifespan is of the roof you already have up there? Because I know some of the asphalt shingles are 20, 30, 40, lifetime.
KENNY: These were 20-year.
KENNY: And they've held up fairly well. We have had a couple of winters that blew off several of them, you know, that we had to replace; so it's kind of unsightly in those areas because of the fading of the color.
TOM: Alright. Well, it doesn't sound like it's an emergency at this stage.
TOM: You know, if you like the look of metal roofing and you want to make the investment, it's great stuff. But if you're just concerned about shingles and keeping them from blowing away, then I would use a better-quality shingle that's designed to stand up that way.
KENNY: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: You know what? Before we let you go, just check out a website. It's called MetalRoofing.com and that's by the Metal Roofing Alliance and you can see their different installers, what it can look like, the different colors out available, learn about their energy efficiency. So, just - you might want to visit there real fast before you make your decision.
KENNY: I'll do that and thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we're going to head over to North Carolina where Shelly needs some help with a kitchen cabinet project. What can we do for you?
SHELLY: We have about 12-year-old white thermafoil cabinets and at this point they have started to discolor unevenly, so some are sort off-white and others are whiter.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And some are kind of yellow.
SHELLY: Yes. And in other places, like over the stovetop, they started - the plastic coating has peeled away a little bit ...
SHELLY: ... and we were wondering what our options are; whether we need to - we've talked to some refacers who would replace all the doors and drawers completely or is painting them an option? We just wanted to know what are options are for correcting this.
TOM: You know, it's probably possible to paint the thermafoil. I would use an oil-based primer. But I've got to tell you, it's a very difficult cabinet type to work with because it's a fairly economical type of cabinet type; not - and I know this is not what you wanted to hear - not designed to last, you know, like a lifetime. (chuckles) It's ...
TOM: ... fairly a short-term product. The cabinet refacers - where they're going to reface the entire front of them - is definitely an option or you might just want to think about replacing all the cabinets. I mean, the second one, where you do the refacing, is usually about 60 to 75 percent of the cost of doing the whole kitchen over again.
SHELLY: The problem is we have already done the granite work and that's in place and we're hoping ...
TOM: Oh, boy.
SHELLY: ... not to have to rip that out.
TOM: So you put expensive granite on top of the (Shelly chuckles) thermafoil cabinets.
SHELLY: Not smart.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, why don't you try the painting and see if you like it?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But Tom, on the box - on the thermafoil cabinets ...
LESLIE: ... is it - is the box the same material or is the box more of a solid wood?
TOM: No, the box is typically some sort of a composite board, like a wafer board or something ...
TOM: ... of that nature or a chip board. Sometimes medium-density fiber board but typically it's not solid wood.
LESLIE: Hmm. The painting, I think, with the thermafoil - I mean, everybody who's ever attempted this just has major adhesion issues.
TOM: Yeah. And especially if you're telling us that the cabinet is delaminating. I mean, basically, the doors and the fronts are so damaged now that you couldn't really paint it because that's not the issue; what you're painting is going to peel away.
SHELLY: Yeah, those doors in particular would have to be replaced ...
SHELLY: ... even if we did.
TOM: Yeah. You might just want to think about new fronts or replacing the cabinets to begin with. I mean, the granite counter can be pulled very carefully and re-installed as long as ...
LESLIE: And it's not like you're going to change the layout.
TOM: Yeah, as long as you don't change the layout. There's no reason you can't use the counter again; you've just got to be really careful about taking it out.
TOM: Make sure they reinforce it from the top, especially around the sink because that's the weakest part. I bet you if you remember when it was put in, they were probably very careful around the sink opening.
SHELLY: Yes, I think that's right.
TOM: Yep. So it's got to be reinforced before it's taken apart.
SHELLY: Right. Well, that's really helpful. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
If we had a dollar for every time someone called us about ratty, thermafoil cabinets, we'd be rich people right now, Leslie.
LESLIE: Aw, it's terrible.
TOM: It is terrible.
LESLIE: And it's always the discoloration and everybody ...
LESLIE: ... thinks, 'Hey, I'm getting a good deal; look at these snazzy, white cabinets.'
TOM: Yeah, well, they're only white for like, what, five years?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But let's talk in five years.
LESLIE: And we'll talk about your snazzy, yellow ...
TOM: Yellow cabinets.
LESLIE: ... not-so-great-looking things.
TOM: (chuckling) (overlapping voices) Yeah, go with peach walls; that ought to make a (inaudible at 0:13:33.8). (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: Embrace it.
TOM: Let them match it. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sorry we're bring up bad news.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Adding insulation to your attic is a great way to improve your home's energy efficiency and that's what Gene from New Jersey wants to talk about. What can we do for you?
GENE: Yeah. I've got a house, two years old, and it's got r30 in the attic and when I get up there I kind of look around and I can kind of see little here and there, like the drywall from, you know, between the batts of insulation.
GENE: Is it worthwhile going with another r20? I see some of the websites say this area in the mid-Atlantic should have at least r50 in the attic.
TOM: Well, certainly, you can't have too much insulation; so adding another layer of unfaced fiberglass batts installed perpendicular to the existing insulation is a good idea. The one thing I would caution you to do, though, is to make sure that you have enough ventilation in that space because, if you have insulation without ventilation, it's going to get damp and humid and that could be a problem for you. So I would make sure that I had at least a continuous ridge and soffit vent so it's flushing plenty of cold, dry air through that space so I don't get moisture. Because if you add just two percent moisture to insulation, the r value goes down by about a third.
GENE: Yeah, I've got a full-length ridge vent and there are a couple of exhaust fans up there, too. Is there an ...
TOM: Well, the exhaust fans are not the most efficient way to vent an attic. If you've got a full-length ridge vent, that's good. I would also make sure that I have full-length soffit vents or perforated soffits on either side of the overhangs.
GENE: I think there's a pretty good cross-flow up there.
TOM: Alright, good.
GENE: Is there an advantage to having it blown in as opposed to putting batts? I ...
TOM: Not necessarily; both are effective.
GENE: I had a contractor give me a price on being blown-in and it seemed to be quite a bit more than if - obvious if I did it myself.
TOM: Well, there's a lot of labor and equipment involved in that. The only thing bad about blown-in is it makes it really hard to do things after the fact if you have to, you know, run a wire or fix something; it's kind of hard to get around.
GENE: And some of them were talking of cellulose and some were talking of rock wool. Does it really make a difference?
TOM: I wouldn't use rock wool; that's an old technology.
TOM: Cellulose or fiberglass are really the two materials that are used right now.
GENE: Oh, OK. Well, good. Well, I guess I get my money back then by putting another r20 or 30 up there then.
TOM: I think it's a good idea, Gene, and it's an easy do-it-yourself project, so why not?
GENE: Itchy, though.
TOM: Itchy. Well, you know, you dress for it, right? (Leslie chuckles)
GENE: Yeah, right. (chuckles)
LESLIE: And wear some sort of ventilation mask ...
LESLIE: ... and safety goggles.
GENE: Oh. Definitely. And a lot of old clothes you can get rid of afterwards.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yes.
TOM: (overlapping voices) And you know what? I'll tell you something, Gene. There's types of insulation now called encapsulated insulation where it's sort of inside of a ventilated, sort of plastic cover. That's fine too; that is an unfaced insulation ...
TOM: ... although - even though it has a wrap around it. It's a lot more comfortable to handle.
GENE: Oh, great.
LESLIE: Hey, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Up next, we want to help you make recession-proof upgrades in your money pit. We're going to tell you what materials are economical and strong enough to stand up to the constant wear and tear you put your kitchen through, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:16:32.8]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. 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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you know, during a recession you might be tempted to put off any home improvement projects that you have in mind or even put off some of the regular maintenance on your house. Not a good idea. Your house may very well be your biggest investment and one that is much more likely to pay off than certainly some others these days. So we're going to kick off a series today called Recession-Proof Home Improvements. First up, let's talk about your kitchen.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, kitchens are still the room in your house that bring one of the biggest returns on your investment when you upgrade your home and it's often the room that truly helps to sell the house. It's one thing that a buyer is going to walk in and fall in love with your kitchen and it could be the true decision-maker right there.
And you know, changing just a couple of areas - the floors or the counters, for example - can make a huge difference. But think about using economical and renewable materials. For example, cork floors - they are getting more and more popular every day. Cork is very eco-friendly because you don't have to kill the tree it comes from to harvest the cork. Plus, the flooring companies today are making the flooring from waste material left over from corks from wine.
TOM: You know, another idea is a bamboo countertop. It's sixteen percent harder than maple and can actually be as strong as steel. And bamboo is a grass that doesn't require replanting; it can grow back in as little as three years, a lesson I learned as a child when I had to pull all the bamboo plants out from the back of my yard. (Leslie chuckles) My dad said, 'I can't go to Disney World until I get rid of all the bamboo,' so I worked really hard that summer to make it on the family vacation.
So anyway, think about it, plan well and you can definitely make some minor investments right now that will pay off big in the value of your home later.
888-666-3974. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Matthew in Texas needs some help with an accessibility question. What can we do for you?
MATTHEW: Yes, I needed some help on suggestions of how to build a ramp.
MATTHEW: My grandmother had hip surgery and we can't get her in the house without a ramp.
TOM: Alright. Tell me something. How high are the steps off of the house right now?
MATTHEW: They're about four feet high.
TOM: OK. So you're going to need quite a long ramp. There's a good organization out in Minnesota called The Wheelchair Ramp Project and their website is WheelchairRamp.org and they have, on that website, a complete manual on how to do this. But the key issues are going to be the number of feet that you need to run that ramp so that you could go down at a rate of about one inch per foot. So in other words ...
TOM: ... if you're going to go out one inch per foot, you need a ramp that's 12 feet long to drop a height of 12 inches. So, that's why you have to carefully plan this. You know, it may be - I don't know - but perhaps another door of the house is lower to the ground but that's the kind of thing you have to go through. And then the other thing is it's going to be real important, Matt, that you check with the town to determine what types of restrictions they may have on the zoning.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and what permits you might need.
TOM: And then the permits. That's right.
MATTHEW: Yes, sir.
MATTHEW: Well, I thank you guys.
TOM: You're welcome, Matt. Check it out; WheelchairRamp.org. Good site, OK?
MATTHEW: Yes, sir.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Repair or replace? That's what Brian in North Carolina's question is. How can we help you?
BRIAN: Hey. I've just got a question about my roofing. I don't know exactly how old it is and I'm guessing it's going to be needing replacing sometime soon and my question is should I wait until I, you know, notice some leaking or notice, I guess, some moisture up in the attic before I replace it or - any tips on what to - you know, how to approach that?
TOM: Yeah. You want to take a look at and inspect the roof to determine its condition. Here's what you're looking for: look closely at the shingles to see if they're cracked or fissured.
TOM: If it's an asphalt shingle that was put in in the last 15 years, it's going to be very thin and the way they break down is they actually have sort of hairline cracks that form in them and you won't be able to see this, Brian, unless you're like right on top of it - and what I mean by that is you have to be on a ladder looking down at it or you have to be walking the roof which ...
TOM: ... of course can be dangerous if you're not really comfortable in that situation. But look at the shingles themselves; see if you spot any signs of deterioration. Check the flashing areas where the roof meets the walls or two sections of roof intersect together or where plumbing vents come through.
The good news is that as roof shingles wear, they seldom wear so dramatically that they cause leaks; the leaks are almost always caused by a problem with the flashing. But if the roof is starting to crack and fissure, then it would be time to think about replacements. I'd wait until the summer, until it's nice and warm, and I'd replace it at that time.
LESLIE: Would you see curling or pocking of the surface?
TOM: You could, depending on the shingles. If it's really old, you may see them curl up at the bottom; you may see them get sort of blisters.
TOM: And that's a condition called rash-blistering and it happens when there's too much moisture in the shingle and the moisture evaporates and it sort of chips off pieces of the granular surface at the same time.
BRIAN: OK. So it sounds like I need to make a trip up there and then check out the thing.
TOM: Yeah, you need to take a look nice and close and then you can make your determination from there.
BRIAN: OK, will do. I appreciate the advice.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And binoculars wouldn't do the trick?
TOM: Yeah, you know, good point. You can use binoculars if you're not comfortable walking up there but a good quality pair because, again, you've got to look at those shingles very, very closely to understand whether they're in good shape or not.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, spring is right around the corner. Would you like to see some perfect blooms in that garden? We'll tell you which flowers and plants will thrive no matter where you live, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:06.9]
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win an autographed copy of our brand, spanking new book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you are thinking about getting your spring garden - all of your planning done, so that once this weather sort of thaws out, you can get right into the garden because spring is seriously right around the corner. I am so excited for it. It is just a few weeks from now. You are going to be gearing up for the spring planting season.
So here's a great tip for those of you who like the look of a lush yard but don't necessarily have the time or the resources for one. Number one, native plants - you know, grasses, trees, flowers, even shrubs that are naturally found in your region - grow much better than any of their imported cousins would. In other words, don't buy birds of paradise plants if you live in Minnesota; it's just not going to work no matter how ...
TOM: Can you even buy bird of paradise if you live in Minnesota?
LESLIE: You probably can. (Tom chuckles) You know, with the internet, you can get everything.
TOM: (chuckling) That's true, that's true.
LESLIE: I have to tell you, every time we did an episode of the The Ugliest House down in Florida and we planted bougainvillea - which is the sort of very tropical, hot pink, viney, even thorny plant and you see it in the Caribbean, you see it Florida - every time I'd be like, 'Are you sure I can't have this up in New York?' And they're like, 'No.' (Tom chuckles) I'm like, 'Please?' No.
So it's just not going to work. You know, native plants and grasses - number one, they're going to need far less water, less fertilizer, less herbicides and even pesticides. So go native in your landscape; it is better for you, your wallet and the environment.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Etta in Ohio has a question about a basement floor. What can we do for you?
ETTA: Hi. I bought an 80-year-old house and seems like everything was wrong with it but I've got most of it fixed and now I'm in the basement and I'm real fortunate. It's a dry basement and the original cement hasn't been stained. I want to clean it; just regular clean it and dry it and -but I want a clear sealer to put on it so that - I've seen paint before that peels and that and I think a clear sealer would just be so nice, because you could sweep it and it's sealed and it doesn't stain or anything but I can't find a clear sealer.
TOM: Oh, there's lots of masonry sealers out there, Etta. You know, the kind of paint that you might also want to be thinking about is something called an epoxy paint.
TOM: That's what really sticks like the dickens on a concrete surface. It's a two-part epoxy. You mix it up as you apply it - working one gallon at a time - and it really hardens quite nicely. It has tremendous adhesion qualities to it and some of these epoxy paints come in kits with floor cleaners and it's all sort of one system.
TOM: And when it's all done it works really, really well. You know, we used one of the epoxy paints on our local Boy Scout house and I've got to tell you, there's - I can't imagine many concrete floors will get more traffic than this particular one does ...
TOM: ... with all the kids and their camping supplies and all of the wet and the dirty that goes through that and it really has stood up quite nicely.
ETTA: Well, where do you buy that and does it come in clear?
LESLIE: It doesn't come in clear. There is a company that makes a clear and the name of the company is R.S. Hughes. H-U-G-H-E-S. It's a little bit pricey but they do ...
LESLIE: ... offer a clear epoxy sealer.
ETTA: That would be great and then, like I said, I've seen some of the floor paints just peel and that or scrape when you do what you do in the basement.
ETTA: So ...
TOM: But if you use the epoxy paints, they're not going to peel. There are a couple of manufacturers. These paints are available at home centers everywhere. There is - Rust-Oleum makes one called EPOXYShield and ...
LESLIE: QUIKRETE does.
TOM: QUIKRETE makes an epoxy paint.
TOM: So they're very available and they're very reliable and they do a great job. OK, Etta?
ETTA: Yes. You know, I was at a store the other day and I was tempted by this one and it said for exterior use only. I can't use that, can I?
TOM: Yeah, if it says for exterior use you can ...
TOM: ... certainly use it for interior use and that actually ...
ETTA: I could?
TOM: ... would be OK.
ETTA: Ah. Well, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Etta. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, here at The Money Pit, we love to remain optimistic, even when things are looking pretty dark because, you know, even in a bad economy, there are some silver linings out there. Are you thinking about bargain-hunting for a foreclosed home?
TOM: Well, you better know the five fatal flaws sometimes involved in foreclosed properties. We're going to tell you where to look, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:28:05.9]
TOM: Making good homes better. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, your source for home improvement solutions. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we hear about it every day; more and more homeowners are facing foreclosure. Thinking about doing a little bargain hunting for your own dream house? Well, if that house might have been one that was foreclosed on, you want to be aware of the five fatal foreclosure flaws that could turn the dream into a nightmare. I wrote a column about just that topic for AOL; it is called Five Fatal Foreclosure Flaws. Simply find it at MoneyPit.AOL.com.
LESLIE: What happened, Tom? You ran out of words that begin with the letter F?
TOM: Yeah, I thought that (inaudible at 0:28:56.0). (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: Alright, folks. And don't forget, you can e-mail us your question while you're on MoneyPit.com by clicking the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and I'm going to start with Benjamin in New Hampshire who's wishing he'd read that column.
His e-mail says: 'My wife and I are getting ready to buy a home that was recently vacated due to foreclosure. When the previous owners left, they took everything that wasn't nailed down. The biggest issue is the missing circuit breaker panel. To remove it, they cut the wires along the top of the box. Now the wires will not reach down in a new panel. I'm curious. Is there a safe and legal way to junction the wires so that the extensions can be added that will allow us to put in a new circuit breaker panel?'
TOM: Yes and, in fact, it's called a junction box. Every one of those splices of wires has to be joined to a new wire inside an electrical box. Now, probably what would happen in this particular situation is you may cut back the wires even a little bit further. Find a place to mount the small junction box and then just go one-for-one. You can actually have, say, three or four wires all joined together and that group of wires can be contained in the same junction box. But you're going to essentially add extensions on to each wire and then have every splice be contained inside a junction box. Rewire the new panel and you will be good to go.
Pretty straightforward, simple project for an electrician and obviously you're going to bring one in to wire this box, so I don't think that's a big issue. I think you can go ahead and buy the house just like it is and that's not going to add significantly to the cost of replacing that panel.
LESLIE: Wow. That's like a bitter removal in the whole process. That's crazy to take that.
TOM: Yeah. The guy was thinking, 'If I can't have my breaker panel, nobody is going to get it.'
LESLIE: That's amazing. (Tom chuckles)
Alright, next up, we've got Maria from New Jersey who writes: 'What is the best and cheapest way to change tiles in the bathroom? The tiles on the floor and on - oh, the tiles are on the floor and on the wall in the shower area.
TOM: Well, as far as those floor tiles are concerned, I don't think you even have to remove them, Maria. I think you can go right on top of them with a second layer of tile. Now, in terms of the bathroom, that is a rather big job to remove those tiles; you are going to end up destroying the wall that's behind it. If the wall is a concrete wall - if this is what we call a mud tile job - I would strongly encourage you to keep the tile and find some way to decorate around it, because it's a really good wall that's very expensive to replace.
TOM: If it's on top of drywall and you don't mind the big mess, go ahead and tear it out; you're going to end up going right down to the studs. And then when you put the tile back, you can use a good-quality tile backer; like Dens Armor is a tile backer that's made by Georgia-Pacific that's perfect for this; it won't grow mold. But remember, it's a real big job to tear down those tile walls so be sure that's what you absolutely want to do.
LESLIE: And Tom, what do you need to do to account for the extra height on the toilet if you go above with the secondary coat of tiling on the floor?
TOM: Good question. There is an extension to the toilet flange that will actually make up that space or you can do what 90 percent of the plumbers do that are out there; they double up the wax seal. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: Oh. (chuckles) But don't you eventually get compression?
TOM: Well, you do and that's the whole point of the wax seal. It does squeeze in between them but I've actually pulled some toilets out that had, you know, two or three wax seals because people (Leslie chuckles) were trying to deal with a leak. But either way works just fine.
LESLIE: And you know what, Maria, you're supposed to replace it every so often anyway, so enjoy that project.
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, 24/7. Find great home improvement advice, tips and suggestions all there on MoneyPit.com.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Helping you build big dreams.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:35.5]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)