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: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us now if you need some fall fix-up advice because fall is definitely in the air. The chill is there ...
LESLIE: Thank goodness.
TOM: ... which means energy bills are up, which means your gutter is going to be clogged, which means you may be thinking it's time for a new roof. You might be thinking it's time to do some work inside your house; the holidays are around the corner. Whatever is going on in your money pit that you would like to correct, to improve, to show some love to that house, call us right now because we'd like to help you do that job.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Man. You just put me in a tizzy, Tom. This is like an actionable time of year. It ...
TOM: It is.
LESLIE: I'm like, 'I'd better start making a list. I've got to keep track of things.'
TOM: It's what I call the Goldilocks time because it's not too hot, it's not too cold. So let's get it all done, then we can cruise a little bit through those holidays.
Coming up on this hour of the show, it's the perfect time of year to pull out your pressure washer. If you were thinking, 'Gee, Tom. I don't need any of those things done you mentioned but the pressure washer thing? Perhaps.' It's a great piece of equipment for cleaning up sidewalks, driveways, decks and siding. If you don't have one, we're going to give you some tips today on how to pick the perfect one for your house.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, a well-functioning and we might say a good looking garage door can keep your family safe but if it really looks nice, it can totally boost the curb appeal of your home. So coming up, we're going to talk about the different types of doors and how to choose a door that's right for you and your family. Plus, if you have an automatic garage door opener, we're going to have tips on how to test it to make sure it's safe for you and your kids and your pets.
TOM: Also ahead, the right flooring can mean the difference between a long-lasting look and a floor that wears out quickly and looks terrible. But not all flooring is created equal so we're going to have tips to help you decide what goes underfoot in your house.
LESLIE: And we have a very exciting game going on right now. We've got the My Home, My Money Pit Game and Sweepstakes. It's going on through the end of October and the first prize is $5,000. If you don't win that, we've got hundreds of other prizes available for you. We've got all the details at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: I've got to tell you, people are loving this game. We have had thousands of entries, mostly because ...
LESLIE: It's amazing.
TOM: ... people want to go back and play it over and over and over again and go through the different rooms and answer some questions.
LESLIE: It looks good; it's fun.
TOM: And I was looking through the entries the other day. I want to thank the guy that entered from the Federated States of Micronesia because it gave us a chance ....
LESLIE: Get out of town.
TOM: ... gave us a chance to find out where Micronesia was and all the kids and I sat down and looked it up. It's in the South Pacific.
LESLIE: And they have a lake that is just inundated with these giant jellyfish.
TOM: Is that right?
LESLIE: And because there are so many jellyfish, they've lost their ability to sting so you can go swimming and snorkeling with these jellyfish and they're all over your body and they won't sting you; it's absolutely beautiful. Go on the web, search it up.
I can't believe we have an entry from Micronesia. That's crazy.
TOM: And apparently, they do have the internet there as well.
LESLIE: Well, if course they do. They've got everything there.
TOM: That's why they call it the worldwide web.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Dee needs some help taking care of and cleaning some marble in her house. What's going on?
DEE: Hi. Hi, Leslie. Yeah, I have a problem with travertine.
DEE: I have an open shower and a tub surround and from the water - it's about 18 years old - and from the water, I guess it's a - there's a mineral deposit and where the water is going down in the shower, it's taken off the polish from the travertine and I'm wondering how do I clean this mineral besides with a little putty knife and how do I get the luster back into the travertine where the water is hitting the wall?
LESLIE: Well, I think first, to get rid of the mineral deposit, it is actually a simple homemade solution that you could use which is a white vinegar and water mixture. And that really does a wonderful job of dissolving that mineral deposit; any sort of white cloudiness that you might see around a faucet or on a shower wall. Dilute some white vinegar and you can really make a difference with that.
DEE: Get to soak it with the vinegar and water? I mean, it's like ...
TOM: Well, you could mix it up and put it in a spray bottle and spray it on there and then just sort of wipe it down and maybe you can just kind of keep that spray bottle around to clean up after the showers. It does a great job of melting the salts. Travertine marble is a great material. You would think that, as natural as it is, it would be incredibly durable in terms of the finish but, actually, it's not and it does need to have ...
TOM: ... a lot of maintenance.
LESLIE: And it's very porous.
TOM: It's very porous, right. There is a website that specializes in products for marble and other porous surfaces. It's called StoneCare.com.
DEE: Oh. OK.
TOM: And they have a ...
LESLIE: Great website. Excellent products.
TOM: Yeah. They have a product there called All Surface Cleaner that works well ...
TOM: ... and they also have a sealer. The bottom line is it's a two-process - it's a two-step process. You need to clean it first, then you need to seal it and you really need to seal this stuff pretty frequently; I would say probably once every three to four months.
DEE: Is this something I can do myself or I have to have it ...
TOM: Yeah. You spray. Yeah, no, you can do it yourself. These are sealers that you basically spray on and wipe off.
TOM: So they're not hard to do.
TOM: But you really just need to use the right product on this.
DEE: OK. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
TOM: I think you'll also find too when you keep it sealed, that you don't get as much mineral deposit built up on it.
DEE: Will the sealer bring back the sheen where the water is hitting against the wall?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes, yes. Yes, definitely.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
DEE: Oh, great. Great. Wonderful. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You're very welcome, Dee. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. It is almost Halloween. Do you want some tips and advice maybe getting the exterior of your house all spookified? (Tom chuckles) We can help you with that. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And if the goblins show up and trash your house on mischief night, a pressure washer could probably really help you clean up the outside. (Leslie chuckles) If you don't have one, no problem. We're going to give you tips for picking the perfect pressure washer, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:26.8]
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: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $200 prize pack from our friends over at the DAP Company, which includes everything that you need for this time of year and pretty much all year round, but especially this time of year, to winterize your home.
It's got Seal 'N' Peel removable weatherstripping, caulk; everything you need to just button up all those little nooks and crannies that are letting all your energy dollars out. Got to be in it to win it, though, so think of your questions; I'm sure you've got a lot of them. Our number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, another easy project for the fall is cleaning up around the outside of your home. You know, a pressure washer is a great tool for doing just that. You can clean sidewalks; you can clean driveways, decks and siding. You know, once you buy a pressure washer and start using it, you don't want to stop. I mean, it's kind of addictive that once you start cleaning a sidewalk and see how bright and shiny and white it gets, you just want to ...
LESLIE: Oh, it's like brand-spanking new.
TOM: Yeah. You want to carry that new gleam all the way around your house. But if you don't own one, it's also a good investment because it's something that you'll definitely need to use regularly.
Now, there are about three things to consider when buying a pressure washer. The first is the water pressure itself. Now, a light-duty pressure washer with 1,300 to, say, 2,000 psi is going to give you about 30 times more pressure than what comes out of a garden hose and that's ...
LESLIE: And psi is pounds per square inch.
TOM: Pounds per square inch, right - and that's good for, you know, cars and siding and boats. If you need something a little bit stiffer, you can choose a medium pressure washer that goes up to about 2,600 PSI and that's good for cleaning grease and grime. Heavy-duty pressure washers are best used for stripping surfaces.
LESLIE: Now, when you're out and about shopping for your pressure washer, you want to also look at the gallons per minute, the GPM. And the larger the GPM, the more surface area a washer can actually clean. And then think about price. The price is going to be a major factor. You can expect to pay anywhere from about $100 to a couple of thousand dollars, which is crazy but I mean those are some serious pressure washers out there.
And you can also rent one. You can rent a pressure washer at your local home center.
A good place to go if you want some more information about how to buy one, what models are available is PressureWashersDirect.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you clean up on some of your home improvement projects. Let's get back to the phones.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Now, we're going to take a call from Fred, who's experiencing some electrical problems in his house. What's going on?
FRED: Thanks so much for taking my call. Basically, I have random on-and-off circuits and ceiling fixtures going on in the corner of the house ...
TOM: Ooh, that's weird.
FRED: ... and inexplicably occurring.
FRED: No circuit breaker changes; nothing that seems to be causing it.
TOM: Alright. Well, it sounds to me like you've got a major short somewhere. Let me ask you this, Fred. How old is your house?
FRED: 100 years but it was rewired ...
TOM: Oh, it's a real old house.
FRED: ... about five years ago.
TOM: You rewired it five years ago. The original wiring in the house - was it knob and tube wiring?
FRED: I don't think so. When they did the rewiring, there was some BX cable.
FRED: Then they put in that [myla ropla] (ph) or something like that.
TOM: Alright. Well, that's good they rewired the house but I tell you what, something is definitely shorting here and you know, it sounds like it's in one or more circuits. And you're going to have to identify which circuits are causing this problem. Can you identify it down to one or more circuits or does it seem to be bigger than that?
FRED: You mean which particular (inaudible at 0:10:37.8).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Like is it all in the same circuit that seems to be going on and off or is it in different parts of the house where it would be multiple circuits?
FRED: I think it would be multiple circuits because it's in different rooms, different floors.
TOM: Here is what I would do. I would do two things. First of all, I would have an electrician open up your electrical panel, check all the wiring there, open up a few of the circuits - a few of the fixtures where they're flickering - have a good inspection of the wiring. The second thing I would do is I would call your electrical company - the utility. I would report what's happening and I would have them come out and measure the voltage into the house to see if you are having any brownout problems.
If they had, for example, a bad transformer somewhere on the street, your voltage could be going all over the place and ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It could be surging like crazy.
TOM: Right, fading and surging. It could be sagging and surging and, if that happens, that would cause exactly what you're describing to us. But one way or the other, this is something that you definitely cannot put up with; you've got to get to the bottom of it. So my first concern is your safety; that's why I want it looked at by a pro. And secondly, I want you to report this to the electrical company and have them come out and check that voltage in the area and make sure that you're getting all the power that you think you are.
FRED: OK, great. Now, is there any risk of fire?
TOM: There potentially could, especially if it's a short. That's why I said that I want you to have a professional ...
TOM: ... electrician check these circuits.
LESLIE: And the surging is not healthy for computer equipment, electronic equipment, appliances that you might have in your house. You know, you really need to be concerned about not just your safety but your items as well.
TOM: Get on it right away. OK, Fred?
FRED: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, we're going to head over to New York to talk with Roland about decking. What can we do for you?
ROLAND: Hi. I have a pressurized deck, 10x12.
ROLAND: It's going to be a year old and I want to ...
TOM: Happy birthday. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
ROLAND: (chuckling) Thank you. I wanted to put something on it that would preserve the color and preserve the wood.
TOM: Now, when you say preserve the color, do you like the sort of the bright green color of it?
LESLIE: Well, no, it's probably cured at this point so it's probably got a little less green tone to it, wouldn't you think?
ROLAND: Well, actually, it's a light color. It's regular pressurized wood, see?
ROLAND: And I want to keep it that color because I know I see some of them - they turn gray ...
ROLAND: ... and I don't want that.
LESLIE: They turn gray because they dry out from the sun; there's UV degradation; they tend to, you know, blister and chip and crack. So you really want to make sure that you preserve the moisture in the wood. You want to make sure that you seal it so that it's not getting excess moisture from the weather and then it's going to warp and twist.
You basically want to look for something that's just a natural sealant. You can go with any of the manufacturers - Behr or Flood or Benjamin Moore - something that's clear, that has a UV protection and something that will help also against mold and mildew growth on it; you know, something that has an antimicrobial built into it as well. And now is the perfect time because you've let it season, so you want to do it on especially a good, dry weekend.
ROLAND: Oh, that sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Roland?
ROLAND: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now it's time to help Grace with a driveway project. What's going on at your money pit?
GRACE: Hi. I've just got to tell you guys I love your program and ...
TOM: Well, thank you.
GRACE: I scrambled to get a paper and pad because you mentioned a product for concrete.
GRACE: The patches?
GRACE: And you said it was Abatron?
TOM: Yeah, that's right. Abatron is the manufacturer ...
LESLIE: The website.
TOM: A-b-a-t-r-o-n.com. You're basically looking for epoxy patching compounds. They have these epoxy materials that are great for sealing up cracks and driveways.
GRACE: OK. Well, a second part of the question is, after - well, for concrete patio is what I needed it for but ...
TOM: Yeah. That works fine.
GRACE: But my question is, you know, it's going to kind of look unsightly now and I'm thinking, well, how can I cover it to make it look like new but still concrete without putting like a paint color on it?
TOM: Well, first fix the cracks and then there are lots of ways to paint that patio and have it look fantastic.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Once you patch it, it's going to be sort of grayish in color. It'll kind of match what's there. If you're not really happy with how it looks, you can get a concrete stain or a concrete paint and then go ahead and apply that to the concrete to give it a uniform finish. The concrete paints and the stains - if you get the stains that are, you know, a solid color, you can really do a great job covering it up and changing the look of your drive.
GRACE: Great. Alright, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Grace. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Barry in Texas is having an issue with a water heater at his home. What can we do for you today?
BARRY: Oh, yes. I bought a tankless hot water heater and installed it and had two tanks - 50 gallon hot water tanks - and combined it into one tankless system.
BARRY: And ever since I did that, I'm getting a sediment buildup throughout all my faucets throughout the house and basically I think from the hot water side, I'm getting a sediment that's being generated. Did I do something wrong or can I put something in line to improve it?
TOM: Have you ever had a hard water problem, Barry?
BARRY: No. Never have ...
BARRY: ... until I installed this tankless unit.
TOM: Well, the tankless unit would not cause a hard water problem but it might cause it to show up and become more obvious because what happens, if you have too many minerals inside the water floating about, it tends to stick to the inside of the tankless water heater.
TOM: And I wonder if what you are seeing is some of that that's clogging and then sort of breaking off and showing up in your faucets.
BARRY: It could be, yes. I had I guess a lot of - the reason why I went for the tankless, because I thought my tank heater, hot water heaters, had a lot of sediment in the bottom of it and I would drain them, you know - at least flush out the bottom of the tanks every six months.
BARRY: But now, like I said, I'm just getting a lot of sediment directly to my faucets, I think; where before it would probably go - would settle to the bottom of the tank heater.
TOM: Well, you know, there's a water treatment system out there called EasyWater and the reason I point these guys out is because they actually did some work with the folks at Rinnai who, of course, are one of the major tankless water heater manufacturers.
TOM: And they found that with the EasyWater system, they dramatically cut back on the amount of deposits, hard water deposits, that were forming in the units and throughout the house. And this system is more effective, we think, than the chemical-based and salt-based systems because it's electronic. Basically, what this does is it's mounted on the main water pipe and it forces the minerals in the water to lose their electrostatic charge.
LESLIE: It like reverse-magnetizes them.
TOM: Sort of. And then when they don't have that charge, they don't stick to the piping, they don't stick to water heaters, they don't stick to other things; they just basically flow right through to the drain.
BARRY: Oh, got it. OK.
TOM: So you might want to take a ...
LESLIE: And it's really easy to install.
TOM: Yeah. You might want to take a look at that. It's at EasyWater.com and they have a 90-day guarantee so if it doesn't work, you can send it back.
BARRY: So it's like a magnet that's installed ...
TOM: No, it's not magnetic. It's electronic. It sends a frequency through the wall of the pipe and into the water and, as a result, the minerals will lose their electrostatic charge.
LESLIE: They push away from one another.
TOM: Right. They don't stick.
BARRY: OK. I'll check it out.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that home improvement project, Barry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, it's time to talk about garage doors. You know, a new garage door can spruce up your curb appeal and make your family safer. When we come back, we're going to tell you what you need to know about the different types of garage doors and pick one that's perfect for you.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:20.8]
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and if you're like me and you love to hang beautiful artwork or pretty much any other interesting item that you find out when you're beeping around and shopping and looking at tag sales or traveling - I always like to find something beautiful and hang it on my walls around my house - you know that there's a big challenge to hanging something, especially if it's kind of weighty. You know, it's finding a stud.
TOM: Now, you're talking about wall studs, of course not to be confused with the challenge of finding a handsome, young man (Leslie chuckles) to help you with some of those wall-hanging projects.
LESLIE: Of course I am because always, if I can't find an actual stud, I can pick up the phone and give you a call and get my ... (Tom chuckles)
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: ... live stud to the house to help me hang something up. Well, we can help you with this little project because we're giving away a hundred packages of the amazing Monkey Hook wall-hanging hardware to the winners of our online game which is going on right now: My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes. It's sponsored by Rinnai and these Monkey Hooks - I mean, they're basically like a curve of wire; they're quite interesting - but they make it super easy to hang just about anything on your walls, without a stud, up to a whopping 75 pounds.
TOM: And if you need even more inspiration to play our game at MoneyPit.com, we probably should tell you that while the Monkey Hook is a fantastic prize, it's just one of the over 200 other prizes we're giving away, including the grand prize of $5,000 cash.
TOM: So check it out today at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you could use that cash to get a jump start on those home improvement projects you've been putting off; you know, like replacing an old, poorly-working or even just worn-out garage door. It's a good design idea and it's a smart safety decision, too.
You want to choose a door that compliments the architecture of your home. It'll help add style and it'll bring modern safety features that are going to keep you and your family safe.
TOM: Now, garage doors are available either as a tilt-up or a single panel that tips open or the more typical roll-up design. Adding a new opener to really upgrade your garage door is a good idea because newer models have more safety features than those that are even just a few years old.
Now, if you're concerned about your existing garage door opener, a good way to check it is to lay a 2x4 across the opening of the door and then operate the garage door. It should strike the 2x4 and come right back up. If it doesn't, then it needs some adjustment or perhaps that's the time to think about replacing both the door and the opener.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Victoria needs some help with a kitchen project. How can we help you?
VICTORIA: Yes. I would like to know about my kitchen cabinets. They are wooden but they are painted and I was sort of debating whether to refinish them - you know, remove the paint and be refinished - or to either buy new cabinets.
LESLIE: Well, are they solid wood? Are you certain ...
VICTORIA: They are solid wood. That's my problem; they're solid wood so ...
TOM: And you hate to part with them?
VICTORIA: Well, you know, I know they're good wood but I'm certainly tired of the painted surface.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you're hoping to get to a stained finish?
VICTORIA: That's right.
LESLIE: Well, it's going to require a little bit of - or I should say a lot of - elbow grease because you're going to need to chemically strip that paint off of the wood surface itself. So you're going to need to pull off all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and make sure you label where everything came from. Leave the hinges either on the door or on the cabinet box itself so you know exactly where things go and how things fit back. And then you need to apply a stripping agent to the wood itself. There's one that I've worked with several times and have had good success with; it's called Rock Miracle. It sort of goes on as a jelly and you can watch it dissolve. There's a lot of ...
VICTORIA: Called Miracle?
LESLIE: Rock Miracle.
VICTORIA: Oh. Rock Miracle?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there's a lot of good eco-friendly ones out there that you can find if you're concerned about fumes and whatnot. You need to apply it perhaps a couple of times, you know - applying it, then removing it as instructed and making sure you're getting as much of that paint off as you can. You might even need to use a wire brush or a sander to get as much ...
VICTORIA: Oh, a sander. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Yeah, to get as much of that paint off as you can and once you get that surface as clean as possible, then you can go ahead and apply your stain.
VICTORIA: Well, I was thinking of keeping the inside as it is, painted, because it's in very good condition ...
VICTORIA: ... and just have all the outside refinished. Does that sound crazy or ...
TOM: No, not in the least. You could do that. In fact, you could do something sort of halfway in-between too. If you are not terribly upset about having some of it be painted, you could leave the outside of the cabinet boxes painted and then perhaps just refinish the doors, maybe just ...
LESLIE: The doors themselves.
VICTORIA: Strip the - yeah.
TOM: ... strip the doors and the drawer fronts ...
TOM: ... of the old paint and have them be natural and have everything else ...
VICTORIA: Well ...
TOM: ... be painted in neutral to match.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and the number one call that you folks give us a jingle with is about your flooring: cleaning, ordering, what type to choose. And the right flooring can actually mean the difference between adorable design element that will last a lifetime and just a worn-out mess that's going to lose its luster long before you would actually like it to.
When we come back, we're going to have flooring tips just for you.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:01.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.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 hey, do you need to seal up your home for the winter? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because up for grabs is a $200 prize pack from the fine folks at DAP. It's got all the weatherstripping and caulk that you need to make your house nice and tight and warm for the entire winter. One caller who gets on the air with us this hour wins. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Let us know what you're working on. Maybe you've got a flooring project going on at your house. We know a lot of you do work on your floors because it is one of the top questions we get here at the program. And I mean, it's an important topic; after all, you spend a lot of time on the floors in your home, using and abusing them.
So when you're selecting new flooring for your home, you want to think ahead to the number of years and the life stages that you and your family are going to go through so that you figure out what kind of flooring you need to enjoy over this duration of your family's lifetime. You know, a smooth, stable, slip-resistant surface such as laminate, hardwood, tile or even vinyl - they are fantastic, durable choices.
You also want to consider how many pets and kids are in the picture for your family. I know you're like, 'Whoa, I'm just thinking about a floor and all of a sudden you're talking to me about kids. Yikes.' But it really is important because hardwood floors - if you're going to have a lot of kids rolling around on it with toys and wheely things or pets with their long, scratchy nails - hardwood floors, they're prone to scratches but they can be refinished. So you know, six of one, half a dozen of the other.
You can also get a laminate flooring that's made to look like wood or you can look at something called an engineered hardwood. Those are great choices - very adorable, good for high-moisture areas. You want to also consider safety when you're thinking about your flooring: choices, design, layout, installation. Think about those areas - you know, the transitions from room to room. Think about getting no-step thresholds; you want something that's smooth and easy. This way, if you've got a stroller or somebody comes to visit with a wheelchair or a walker, they don't have to worry about going up and over this threshold.
Wall-to-wall carpeting - it can look great, it certainly is cozy; but remember, it can also be a trip and fall hazard. So take into consideration all of these things when you're thinking about your flooring choice, in addition to how it looks and what you like. Just think about the big picture and you'll make a great choice for you and your family.
TOM: And if all that's just a bit too much to remember while you're driving about today, head on over to MoneyPit.com/flooring and you can read all about it right there.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Alright. Now to take a cleaning question from Julie. What's going on? It sounds like it's busy at your house.
JULIE: Hi, I'm just wondering about granite countertops. I haven't had them before and I'm not sure what to clean them with. Somehow I missed the day where they explained how to clean those granite countertops. I'm nervous to scratch them.
TOM: You were absent from school that day. (chuckles)
LESLIE: They usually don't explain it either. (chuckles) They usually are like, 'Here's your beautiful, fancy, expensive countertop. Best of luck.'
JULIE: Yes, exactly.
LESLIE: You really want to make sure because you don't want to use harsh chemicals on it. There are several stone-cleansing products that are available. You can even go to any sort of store. I know Target has, you know, that Method brand which is all natural and very organic. They have a granite-cleansing product, even a wipe. But if you're looking for something maybe that you've already got in your house, you can use like a dish soap solution with water and just a wet sponge and then a dry cloth.
LESLIE: Or if you find that you get a stain on it, I mean it's not porous and it is sealed so you're going to find that stains really aren't going to soak into it. But if you do find that you get some stains on it that are giving you a tough time, you can mix a paste of flour with dishwashing liquid and water and make it sort of like a paste and let it sit on the stain.
And if that's not working or if you find that the stain is oil-based - you know, like a grease or oil - you can use - instead of the dishwashing liquid, you can use hydrogen peroxide and the flour.
JULIE: Oh. OK.
LESLIE: And those are sort of natural solutions that'll work really well on the granite countertops and they do recommend resealing your granite countertop every year. However, I find it takes more than like a year or two to notice some imperfections in the granite surface you might find. You might find some pocking or some areas where the solution that they put on top to seal everything starts to pock out.
LESLIE: Once it gets to that point, you definitely need to reseal it. So I wouldn't go every year but pay attention to it and do use special care on the products you put on it.
JULIE: And I can just get that sealer just at a supply store? Like Home Depot or something or ...
TOM: There's a good website called Stonecare.com and they ...
LESLIE: Oh, that's a great site.
TOM: And they have all sorts of granite cleaning and sealing products there.
TOM: They've been around for a long time and seem to make a pretty good product.
JULIE: OK. Oh, I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome, Julie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Georgia, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BILL: I have a deck that's about six years old. The wood has never been treated and I wanted to know - it's not cup (ph), it's got a little checking - and I wanted to know if I could save a little money by flipping the boards over and then doing like a colored stain on top of it so I don't have to buy all brand-new wood.
TOM: Deck flipping. We love deck flipping.
LESLIE: I mean it really is an economic solution. Would you be flipping all boards or just the checked boards?
BILL: I think most of the boards but I think some of them may have shrunk or may be a little bit short, so I'd have to put some new ones in there somewhere.
TOM: I don't think there's any reason not to do it. When you take them out - is this five-quarter by six?
TOM: OK. What you might want to do is pick up a handy little tool called a cat's paw. No cats are harmed, by the way, in the manufacture of these tools. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: I'm like, 'Is it a keychain?' (chuckles)
TOM: No, it's a cat's paw. Have you ever seen one?
BILL: Looks like a pry bar.
TOM: It's like a pry bar but it has a little curve, sort of like a claw, at the end of it and you can drive it right under the nail and bend it and it pulls the nail right out. And if I was going to pull a lot of those boards out, I would use a cat's paw because it's easy to get started and then you can run the pry bar underneath it, flip it out. Because the thing is, you only want to damage the top of the board as you're pulling it apart.
TOM: This will leave the bottom of the board in perfect shape. You can flip it over; use the same nail holes to secure it right down again and you know, you're still going to have some checking but it will look a lot better than the original upside of it.
LESLIE: And the only thing is, Bill, if you're going to replace some boards with new boards, you have to let the new boards cure about six months with pressure-treated - or at least a season before you apply a finish. So if you're going to go ahead, I would say flip the boards now, put the new boards in, wait the winter and then go ahead and refinish in the spring.
BILL: OK. Thanks for the advice.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit. Hey, when you're at your home center, do you ever see in the tile section, you know, a sign - floor tile, wall tile - and you think, 'Hmm, tile's tile. Does it really make a difference?'
Well, it actually does. The wrong type of tile can affect how the tile itself is going to wear. When we come back, we're going to help a listener with an e-mail question about that very topic, so stick around.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Owens Corning. It's easy to insulate your home and save money. What's stopping you? Learn more at InsulateAndSave.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 Krauetler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And did you know that it's National Kitchen and Bath Month? Leslie, did you send me a card?
LESLIE: Of course I did. It's in the mail right now. (chuckles)
TOM: Well, if you'd like to celebrate by perhaps replacing your kitchen and bath and you want to know what's hot and what's not, I've got your trends from the National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Trends Competition coming up in my next column on AOL. That's available at MoneyPit.AOL.com.
LESLIE: Hey, and while you're surfing around the internet maybe looking for that perfect National Kitchen and Bath Month card - I think you're going to have to make your own there, though - head on over to MoneyPit.com and you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon.
And we jump into our e-mail bag right now as we do every week at this part of the show and we've got one here from Kristin in Marco Island, Florida who writes: 'The tile on the floor of our shower is cracked because we used wall tile. Can we tile over it using floor tile this time?'
TOM: Wall tile is a really bad thing to use on your floor, Kristin, because it's slippery.
LESLIE: It's super-slippery. I mean, it's not made to be installed on a flooring surface. That's why when you're in the tile aisle or at the tile center - wherever you're shopping for your tile - there is a difference between floor and wall tile. Number one, the slip-resistancy - it's way more slippery on a wall tile than it is made for a floor tile. You've really got to look at the difference there because it could be dangerous.
But also the tile themselves - they are much, much thinner for the wall surface than they are for the floor surface, so it's probably why are you getting some cracking. You could also be getting some cracking from perhaps an instable sub-floor underneath, you know, depending on what you went on top of.
TOM: I think you can go on top of it but I would make sure that the tiles are not loose. If the tiles seem to be loose, I would break them out and pull all the old tile out. But if they're fairly solid - they just happen to have some very thin cracks - you can put another layer of tile on top of that without having any problem, Kristin.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project. We've got another one here from Joan in Warwick, Rhode Island. She writes: 'I'd like to know what I can do to stain or apply something to a concrete patio so that it will be uniform. In the past, I have painted cement and the results over time were a disaster. I want something that's not going to chip. Is there a stain that can do this?'
TOM: Well, certainly there are concrete stains that will not chip because they're very absorbent. Now, I'm going to presume here, Joan, that the patio you're asking about has not been previously painted because if it was, you couldn't stain it. But if it is an unpainted patio, you certain can stain it and there are a couple of techniques to do that. Probably the trickiest one, Leslie, I would say is acid staining.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Acid staining - it's a little bit complicated. You can find directions online; you can even find kits online. And it uses a different type of chemical to cause a different coloration to the concrete. So you would mix and match and sort of try all these different techniques. And you can get a uniform color, you can get shades and tones, you can even do patterns. And when done right, acid staining can be beautiful.
You can also get concrete stains. They're available in sort of, you know, a semi-transparent or even a heavily saturated color or concrete paints; it really depends on what the situation is with your concrete. You want to make sure if you use a paint, that you prime and make sure that the concrete is dry; do it on several dry days. Don't do it, you know, the day after a rainstorm; otherwise, nothing is going to adhere.
TOM: Now, if you do decide to paint, though, you could also consider using stencils to create ...
TOM: ... all kinds of cool patterns around the edge. I've seen some patios that were so nicely painted, they really look like an outside rug.
LESLIE: Yeah, and also I mean you don't have to just think about rugs. You can use tape. I mean, get yourself a couple of variety of thicknesses of painters' tape and lay out a tile pattern, you know, with a grout line ...
LESLIE: ... or maybe a smaller tile in the center. You can make it look terracotta with a natural concrete color in between to look like the grout. So think about it. You can do a bunch of different things to make it look, you know, more detailed and more involved than just a simple gray concrete slab patio that you might have out there. There's lots of things. Do the prep work, Joan, and I guarantee you'll get that paint to stay.
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 where you can also sign up to play the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes and maybe win 5,000 bucks to help you with your next home improvement project.
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 2008 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.)