- Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets: Find out affordable DIY options to refinish drab kitchen cabinets.
- Chimney Safety: Before starting a cozy fire this season, see if you need a chimney liner to keep things safe.
- Tile Stain Removal: Cleaning tile floors can be challenging, but we’ve got tips on how to remove the most stubborn tile stains.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Attic Space: Limited access to the attic makes it impossible to install insulation. We’ll tell Mark how to cut the drywall to make the attic openings bigger.
- Air Cleaners: Too much dust? Ann learns an electronic air cleaner for her HVAC system will be more effective than fiberglass filters for reducing the dust and pollen in her home.
- Driveway Stains: Tom’s truck left oil stains on his unsealed concrete driveway. He can use TSP to clean the driveway stains without having to pressure wash.
- Hot Water Pressure: Brrrrr! Elsie gets a jolt each time her hot water turns cold in the shower. She needs a new pressure-balanced valve to maintain the water temperature.
- Bathroom Condensation: There’s lots of moisture in the bathrooms, even with vented exhaust fans and dampers. We advise Eddie to install a humidistat timer to keep the air moving long enough to dry things out.
- Carpet Cleaning: Yuck! It looks like mold is growing on the carpeting on Sue’s concrete slab porch. We think it’s just algae that can be cleared up by using a steam cleaner.
- Asbestos Siding: Iron in the well water has left an unappealing golden glow on the asbestos concrete siding. Using TSP to clean it won’t be enough and Louis will have to paint the siding to cover the stains.
- Plaster Walls: Cynthia’s got questions about the plaster walls in her old house from 1896. We explain the history of wall materials through the years.
- Painting Cabinets: What’s the best way to paint wood bathroom cabinets that have been stained? Carol gets step-by-step tips on refinishing the cabinets and what products to use.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on the projects you want to get done around your house. If you’ve got a project that you’ve been thinking about doing – maybe you’re planning it for the year ahead, which is right around the corner – now would be a great time to reach out to us for some tips. We can help you shorten that project up, get you started on the right foot, make sure that you don’t take the wrong path and get yourself into a hole that maybe then we have to help you get out of.
But we’re pretty good at this; we’ve been doing this a long time. And we would love to share some of our knowledge with you to help make those projects go quicker, go faster, come out exactly like you want them to be. So you can do it once, do it right so you get back to just enjoying and relaxing in your home. If you’ve got a question, you can reach out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve ever felt like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab and dull, new cabinets are not the only option. You can save that expense because we’re going to highlight options for refacing or refinishing your cabinets without breaking the bank, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you’ve been enjoying warm fires so far this chilly season, now is the right time to make sure that your chimney is safe.
TOM: And with lots of cleaning going on this month with all the holiday visits happening, one of the hardest surfaces to get clean is tile and specifically, tile floors. So we’re going to share some quick cleaning tips to help you get tile bright and cheery in no time at all.
LESLIE: And whether you live in a house, a condo or an apartment, we can help you with answers to your questions about remodeling, renovation or décor. I know now is the busy time of year with all your family and friends and the holidays a’ happening. So maybe you’re planning something for the new year or maybe you’re trying to get something done quick before the guests arrive. Whatever it is, give us a call. We’re standing by to help.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. Or better yet, go to MoneyPit.com and click the blue microphone button.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mark in Tennessee needs some help adding some insulation to the attic space.
Tell us about the project.
MARK: What I have is a 23-year-old, split-level home. And I’ve got about 800 square feet over the bedrooms and the two bathrooms upstairs, with only very, very limited access to the attic area. There’s one hole that’s 18×12, which was put in the original house and the other is an outside gable vent, which is 18×18. And those are the only two ways that I can get into to add insulation. Neither one would be good for a blower or the rolls couldn’t get through the holes. Help me, help me.
TOM: Put a bigger attic access in there. It’s a very easy thing to do. You simply have to cut more of the drywall out. In the same way that that access point was put in to begin with, you could certainly put a larger one in. Just cut the drywall back along the ceiling joist. You need to sort of frame it out so it’s square on the ends. And then you can make a panel that drops in there to keep it closed. Best place to do that, of course, is in a closet where it’s not very obvious.
Now, do you have much height in that attic? Would it be worth putting a stair – an attic stair – in?
MARK: Well, it would be too tight for a stair. And the current access is located in a shallow closet anyway.
TOM: Can that be opened up and made larger?
MARK: Not the depth of the closet, no. I could go width of the closet but I’m guessing I’m going to be hitting some trusses.
TOM: Well, the thing is you’re going to work around the trusses. If you’ve got trusses, they’re probably 24 inches on center. That’s where most trusses are set. So, make the width of the opening 24 inches and make the depth of it about 36. And that would be plenty big enough to get a ladder up into that hole and get yourself up there and anything else that you need to get up there, as well.
MARK: Well, outstanding. That’s why I listen and that’s why I call.
TOM: Good luck, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in Georgia on the line calling in with an air-conditioning question.
How can we help you?
ANN: What happens is there is an excessive amount of dust in the house.
ANN: I mean it’s huge. So I just rake my finger across a table and you can see long particles, long hair-type – it’s not hair but it’s like long string. And it’s really, really thick. And when the pollen was really bad down here in the spring, when it was yellow pollen outside, you could – it was in the house.
TOM: Let me ask you some basic questions, Ann. First of all, you’re talking about a fan. What kind of heating system do you have in this house to begin with?
ANN: It’s a heating pump.
TOM: OK. It’s forced-air. It’s a forced-air system, right?
ANN: Yes, yes.
TOM: Alright. So, the best type of air-filtration system would be an electronic air cleaner. An electronic air cleaner would be installed on the return side of the air handler, so it would clean the air as it goes back to the air handler. And good-quality electronic air cleaners can take out all of that dust, all of that pollen, right down to virus-size particles.
Most of us rely on the fiberglass filters, which are very inexpensive; they cost maybe $1 apiece. But they don’t do very much, you know? We call them “pebble stoppers” because everything else goes right through them.
So, if you really want to clean up your house and reduce the amount of dust, you simply need a better filtration system on your HVAC system. And so, an electronic air cleaner would be that. You could take a look at models by Trane or by Aprilaire. And there are a number of others, as well.
But don’t be confused by electrostatic versus electronic. You want an electronic air cleaner because these work. And some of them charge the particles so that they have sort of magnetic attraction to the filter material. Some of them combine electronic cleaning with filtration cleaning. But either of those two brands – either Trane or Aprilaire – make very good-quality electronic air cleaners. And you’ll see a huge difference. But it’s the kind of thing that you have to have an HVAC technician professionally install. It’s not a do-it-yourself project.
ANN: OK. Sounds great. OK. Thanks so much.
LESLIE: We’ve got a great reason for you to reach out to Team Money Pit today. We are giving away an awesome prize. We’ve got the Cordless 5-in-1 Professional Staple and Nail Gun from Arrow Fastener.
This is a great tool for upholstery, woodworking, insulation, crafting projects. It fires five different types of fasteners, so you’re going to be able to tackle a ton of projects. And it’s really compact and cordless, so you can get into all those tight spots and finish that project, no problemo.
It’s available for 75 bucks at stores but it could be yours for free.
TOM: That Arrow Cordless 5-in-1 Professional Staple and Nail Gun, along with a year’s supply of brad nails and staples, is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Tom in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a driveway-cleaning project.
What’s going on?
TOM IN TEXAS: I’ve got a driveway – a concrete driveway – that I put in about 10 years ago. And it’s maybe 60-plus feet, a couple of car lengths wide – a couple of car widths wide. And I had an oil leak in the truck and really wasn’t paying much attention to it until one day I noticed it. And there was quite a bit of staining down there, so I got some Oil-Dri, started putting it down. And it held but there’s still some staining there.
I never sealed it. And then I also get – from leaves and stuff. So, I just was wondering – I was thinking about getting a power cleaner and maybe some kind of detergent and clean it up. Or do I just live with it?
TOM: What you can do to try to clean this is to use a product called TSP – trisodium phosphate. It’s available at home centers and hardware stores, usually in the painting aisle. You mix it up into sort of a paste-like consistency, apply it to the stain, let it sit there for a little while and then you can rinse it off. And that will tend to draw the oil out of it. It’s not a miracle cure but it does a pretty good job of cleaning up oil stains.
TOM IN TEXAS: But do I need a power washer or just hose it off?
TOM: No, you just hose it off. A lot of pressure is not your friend here. It’s really just having the right products on that oil to kind of draw it out.
LESLIE: Yeah. And once – when you’re in the paint aisle getting the TSP, right next to it you can get a paint-tray liner and just maybe slide that under the truck for a little while.
TOM: There you go.
TOM IN TEXAS: I should probably just attach something under there.
TOM: Yeah, attach it and then you can set up a couple of traffic cones. And then every day when you come home, you pull up to the cones, you know that the pan under the car will be directly aligned with the leak and that’ll be it.
TOM IN TEXAS: Alright. Very good. Well, OK. I will take all that into consideration. Thank you all very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elsie in California on the line who’s dealing with a shower that goes from hot to cold and all over.
That doesn’t sound very pleasurable, Elsie. What’s going on?
ELSIE: Oh, it sure isn’t. It’s very shocking.
I live in a ranch-style house. The water heater is in the garage at one end of the house and the two bathrooms are at the other end of the house. And whenever someone flushes the toilet or turns on the tap or the sprinkling or drip system comes on, the water will go from hot to pure cold and I’ll have to readjust it.
TOM: And the reason that happens is because the pressures are imbalanced. In other words, you adjust the temperature in your shower and that’s based on the pressure of water that’s coming from the hot and coming from the cold. And once that’s locked in, the temperature stays where you want it. But when someone down the line, say, spills off some of the cold water because now they’re flushing a toilet or washing their hands, then the – there is going to be less cold water going into that same mix, which means the water temperature is going to get higher or hotter.
And so, the solution is a new valve for the shower and it’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” And what a pressure-balance valve does is it maintains the mix in spite of the pressure differential. So, what could happen in that scenario is if you adjusted it and then someone flushed the toilet, you may get less pressure overall. So the shower may be not quite as strong but the temperature won’t change, the mix won’t change. The mix is locked in; it’s set right there, regardless of how much pressure variation you have on the hot water and the cold water coming into it.
So, common problem, straightforward solution. It’s called a “pressure-balance valve.”
ELSIE: OK. Well, thank you so much. I listen to your program every week. I have your book and I’ve learned so much from both of you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, kitchens are one place in your house where most of us do spend a lot of time. But if you ever feel like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab, maybe even dull, it might not be your favorite room.
TOM: Well, the good news is that there are options for getting a new look without breaking the bank. Kitchen cabinets can be replaced, refaced or just refinished.
LESLIE: So, Tom, let’s start by talking about what refacing is versing (ph) replacing. What’s the best way to kind of determine whether refacing is going to do the job or you’re in need of a full-blown replacement of your cabinets?
TOM: Well, replacing, of course, is just that: you tear it out and start again. Replace when you want to reconfigure the layout or when the existing cabinets are kind of junky and not worth really doing anything with.
Refacing is when you have some decent cabinets and you just want to reface the surfaces of those cabinets, as well as add new doors or drawer fronts or hardware. That’s a lot less expensive and can actually make a pretty dramatic difference without going overboard on the budget. But remember, you can’t make a lot of changes; you’re pretty much stuck with the layout that you have right now. So if it’s just the cabinet surface and the doors that you don’t like, that’s a great choice.
LESLIE: Yeah. And there are a few things that you need to consider when determining if your kitchen is a candidate for refacing. First of all, you have to be happy, like Tom said, with the existing configuration because it’s not going to change. You’re not adding new cabinets, you’re not moving things around. It’s exactly the same; it just looks different.
And your cabinets should be good quality when we’re talking about the structure. If you’ve got some old or not-so-well-made cabinets where the boxes themselves aren’t in the best shape, then it doesn’t make sense the spend the money doing that. So you’ve got to kind of figure those two factors in when you’re deciding.
TOM: Now, refinishing the cabinet is probably your most cost-effective move, since repainting or restaining is really a great DIY project that delivers great results. Plus, guess what? Painted kitchen cabinets, they are all the rage right now. Folks are paying more for painted kitchen cabinets than they used to pay for stained cabinets. It’s kind of crazy. So it’s a good time to do that.
But you have to remember that if you’re going to take on that project, the most important step is to make sure you have the right primer. There is a type of primer called a “bonding primer.” It’s a primer that has high adhesive qualities and it really sticks to those old finishes. And that’s really the first step. After the bonding primer, you can put on a topcoat. But if you don’t have that primer that sticks, you’re going to be very sad because you’re going to find that paint peels off. But if you do it well, that could be a cabinet finish that really lasts for decades.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eddie in Delaware on the line who is dealing with a moisture situation going on.
Tell us about it.
EDDIE: I’m having a moisture problem with two out of the three bathrooms. It’s a three-bathroom home. And each bathroom has an in-line exhaust fan. And this occurred last season – last winter season – and we got a really severe winter and we’re getting a lot of condensation.
I have dampers in two of the bathrooms, at the ceiling. And last season – the last winter season – I installed an additional damper after the exhaust fan – after the in-line fan in the ceiling – and I was still getting a lot of moisture, actually, at the ceiling where the sheetrock was actually falling apart. That’s how much moisture we got.
TOM: OK. First of all, right above this space, is there an attic? What’s above it?
EDDIE: Yeah. It’s an attic, yeah.
TOM: Alright. And how much insulation do you have in that attic?
EDDIE: The home is only 8 years old.
TOM: So, first of all, bathrooms are sources of warm, moist air. If the temperature of the drywall is chilly, it’s going to condense and cause condensation. So you want to make sure that the attic above it, that you’ve got at least 15 to 20 inches of insulation in there. That’s really important.
EDDIE: Oh, there is. There definitely is. And what I also did was – when I started having this problem, I replaced the flexible ductwork, which was originally R6, to the maximum of R8. And I’m still getting the problem. And these two bathrooms that I’m having the problem, they are not used for showers or bathing of any sort.
TOM: The second thing I want to suggest to you is – you mentioned that you have exhaust fans in two of the three?
EDDIE: No, no. All three have their own individual, in-line exhaust fans, yes.
TOM: OK. So in-line – in other words, it’s ducted out somewhere? They’re all connected together and ducted out at once, at one point?
EDDIE: No, no. They’re not connected together; they’re all different.
TOM: They all vent on their own out the building?
TOM: And you can confirm that the vents are working? So if you turn the fan on and you go outside, you’ll see the flapper?
TOM: So, hooking them up to a humidistat/timer might not be a bad idea. Because this way, when the humidity gets high in the room it’ll automatically come on. Leviton makes such a switch, designed specifically for bath fans. And I think that might be the next step. I think we need to move air – more air – through these rooms.
The second thing is, what’s underneath these bathrooms? Are these on the second floor or first floor? Are they over a slab?
EDDIE: It’s a ranch home.
TOM: And what’s underneath?
EDDIE: A crawlspace.
TOM: Crawlspace? OK. Does the crawlspace have a high humidity problem?
TOM: I would recommend that you replace that existing fan switch with a humidistatically-controlled fan switch.
EDDIE: Yeah, OK. I’ll try.
LESLIE: Sue in Ohio needs some help cleaning a carpet. Tell us what’s going on.
SUE: I have a concrete sun-porch slab that has – had been covered with black carpeting. And it’s – we had a very muggy summer this year and green mold started to grow on it. And though I tried washing it off and rinsing it off – and it just won’t take care of it. And I know that you had helped other people with mold problems, with 10-percent bleach. But I wouldn’t dare put bleach on that black carpet and I wondered if there’s something else that will kill that mold.
TOM: Well, how do we know it’s mold? It sounds like algae.
SUE: Could it be?
TOM: It could be, yeah. What I would do is I would simply – if the carpet’s that dirty, I would simply go out and rent a steam cleaner – rent a carpet cleaner. Those carpet cleaners are pretty darn effective. I rented one myself at The Home Depot just a few weeks ago for a couple of rooms in an apartment, that we own, that was getting a new tenant. And I’m always astounded with what a phenomenal job those steam cleaners do on what looks like carpet that has to be torn out.
But when you steam-clean it with the right materials, use the chemicals that come with the machine, it does a really good job. You’ve just got to take your time. Usually have to go over it a couple of times and it takes a little bit of work but it really does a great job. So I wouldn’t try to do this any other way.
The way the steam cleaners work is water is injected into the carpet and then almost at the same time, a very strong vacuum pulls that water back out with the dirt and debris attached to it.
SUE: Oh. So the steam kills the algae.
TOM: Yes. It’ll clean it. And then if you dry it really well after that, it should stop it from coming back.
SUE: OK. OK. Well, that’ll help me, yeah.
TOM: Alright? And that won’t damage the color.
SUE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Louis from Michigan on the line with a roofing question.
What can we do for you?
LOUIS: The house was built in 1929. The siding – it’s a siding question. The siding is asbestos concrete shingles. We have iron in our well water. When spring – the flowers – the water has accumulated, over the years, on the shingles. Now, one wall of the house now has a golden glow. Any recommendations for removing the iron-golden glow?
TOM: Well, if it’s siding, you’re going to have to clean it and paint it. That’s the only thing you can really do. You could wash this house down, you can use a TSP – trisodium phosphate. That will tend to take out some of that. But you’re going to end up having to paint this siding.
The nice thing about asbestos is it lasts forever. The not-so-nice thing about it is it has to be painted forever. But it’s a non-organic product, so it will not rot, it will not fall apart organically. But it doesn’t look very nice and it does absorb a stain and needs to be constantly maintained.
Because the asbestos is held inside of a cement binder, it’s not a safety risk; it’s just really a maintenance headache.
LOUIS: Appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, if you have an older home, you probably have an older chimney. And an older chimney usually doesn’t have a liner and that can be unsafe. So here’s what you need to know.
TOM: Now, first, think about what a liner actually does. It lines, literally, the inside of a masonry fireplace and chimney. And it’s really important for containing the byproducts of combustion, including the parts of combustion that can be dangerous for you, like creosote. It’s also very important to contain the heat of the fire itself so that the fireplace works efficiently.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the liners can be made of clay or metal or they can be cast in place. And there’s advantages to each type.
So, with a clay liner, they’re inexpensive and they work well for open fireplace chimneys that are properly maintained. Metal liners, they’re most used for retrofitting into an older, unlined fireplace. And this can help make an older, unlined chimney safer for woodburning. And these liners are also useful.
Now, cast-in-place chimneys liners, they’re lightweight, they’re castable, they’re cement-like products that are installed inside the chimney, forming a smooth, seamless insulated passageway for the flue gasses. I mean you’re really creating a barrier with this liner and that’s super important.
TOM: And another advantage of cast-in-place that a lot of folks don’t realize is that it can actually improve the structural integrity of an old chimney. Because they’re permanent liners that are really suitable for all fuels.
LESLIE: Yeah. So how do you know, Tom, when it’s time to actually add or replace that liner?
TOM: Well, the best way to know is with a chimney inspection. And if you have a reputable chimney sweep or a home inspector – better yet – who has a camera, they can actually physically show you any problems. There’s a way to snake a camera down the entire length of the chimney, just the same way you can have a camera that goes into a drainpipe.
And this is something you ought to be doing occasionally – maybe once a season – if you intend to use your fireplace regularly, just to make sure that no cracks or any type of deterioration is formed in that chimney liner. Because if it’s intact and in place, it’s going to be safe and it’ll be easy to maintain going forward.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cynthia from South Dakota on the line who’s got a question about a fire wall.
Tell us what you’re working on.
CYNTHIA: I have an old house and I’ve been ripping out the plaster walls. And I found, along this one wall – see, the whole entire house is this pretty durable and tough plaster-board stuff. And I was wondering if that is a fire wall, because that seems to be where all the cold-air returns and stuff are and if I should or should not rip it out. And if I do rip it out, is there a certain kind of drywall that I should use there?
TOM: Where is this wall located exactly?
CYNTHIA: It could have been on the outside of the house at one point but it’s under the furnace.
TOM: Well, first of all, the only place that you typically would have a fire wall – in other words, a fire-rated wall with a certain rating – is between the garage and the house. All the other walls and ceilings inside the homes are – usually have traditional, ½-inch drywall. If it’s an exterior – an interior/exterior wall – an inside surface of an exterior wall, like a garage wall, then you would use a 5/8-inch-thick, fire-rated drywall. But all of the other places in the house, you’d have regular plaster board – I’m sorry, regular drywall.
CYNTHIA: OK. Have you ever seen this plaster board before?
TOM: Well, sure. Now, how old is the house?
CYNTHIA: I believe it was built in 1896?
TOM: See, there’s different stages of wall construction. In 1896, you would have had something called “wood lath,” so there would be wood strips on the wall and then plaster put on top of that.
CYNTHIA: Yep. That’s on most of the walls. But this one particular wall – which could have been an outside wall at one point; I’m not sure exactly – it’s like in 2-foot strips.
TOM: Yeah, OK. So that’s a later addition. And what they did with that is when they stopped using wood lath, they started using rock lath or – you would think of sheetrock in those 2-foot-wide strips? They put that on and then covered that with wet plaster. So that’s just a more modern version of the way walls were constructed. So it went from wood lath to rock lath to sheetrock. That’s, essentially, the progression of wall construction over, roughly, the last hundred years.
CYNTHIA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: A little lesson on building history. Hope that clears it up for you.
CYNTHIA: Yeah. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
If you’ve got some tools on your wish list this holiday season, you just might want to reach out to us with your question right now. Because one listener, drawn at random, is going to win the Cordless 5-in-1 Professional Staple and Nail Gun from Arrow Fastener.
It’s great for upholstery, woodworking, insulation, crafts and hanging holiday decorations, I’m sure. It features 5 different types of fasteners and it fires over 1,000 shots on one full charge.
It’s worth 75 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions on MoneyPit.com by clicking the blue microphone button.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is working on a painting project.
How can we lend a hand?
CAROL: We are painting our bathroom cabinets. They are – they were put in the bathroom in 1980-something. I’m not sure about the date. We bought this house – the people lived in it 28 years and we’ve been here almost 9 years. And they’re kind of a maple color and they’re not very attractive. I’ve used that Orange Glo on them trying to make them look better. I don’t know what they used on them. Probably Liquid Gold or something trying to bring out the sheen.
But it’s just almost beyond the point. And I’d like to have new cabinets but when we do, we’re probably going to have to redo the whole bathroom, so we decided we would paint them kind of an off-white color.
What we want to know is: what’s the approach to making that paint stay on?
LESLIE: Now, you said that the cabinets are a maple color. Are they actually wood and they’re stained?
CAROL: Yeah, that’s the stain on them. They’re stained.
LESLIE: So they’re stained wood. It’s not like a Thermofoil that looks like wood or a laminate? It’s wood.
CAROL: No, it’s real wood. They’re real wood cabinets.
LESLIE: Now, if they’ve been stained and restained over the course of a couple of years and you’ve got a lot of coatings of a cleaner on there, your best bet would be – and this is how I would kind of tackle it. I would remove the doors and the drawer fronts, being very careful about labeling which goes where, you know? A little piece of painter’s tape on the back side and a little piece on the hinge saying, “A-A,” or “1-1,” just so you know exactly where things go back.
And I would leave the hinges either on the door or on the box. It’s kind of easier to leave them on the box, just for painting issues. And this way, you know exactly where everything goes back; that just kind of keeps things tidy.
And then, you really need to get some of that sheen off. So you could do it a couple of different ways. You could use something that’s like a liquid sandpaper that you wipe on, that gets rid of some of that sheen. But if it’s a super-high gloss and they’ve been oiled or polished over the years and they’re very sort of gunked up, almost, with a lot of finish on them, you may want to sand them down a little bit. Because you need to get down to something that’s a little bit not so glossy and so built up from years of cleaning and just the yuck that happens in the bathroom, just so that you’ve got a surface that the paint’s going to stick to.
And once you’ve done that to the doors or drawer fronts and the boxes themselves in the bathroom, you need to prime it very well with a high-quality primer. I would use KILZ or Zinsser – one of those that’ll stick very, very well – let that dry very thoroughly and then go ahead with your topcoat paint. And because it’s in a bathroom and because it’s a high-moisture area and it’s something that you’re going to want to be cleaning a lot, I would go with a glossy finish and an oil base if I can get my hands on one. If not, a glossy latex will do the trick but more durable, of course, would be the oil base.
CAROL: Thank you and I appreciate your help.
TOM: Carol, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, this time of year, there’s a lot of cleaning going on and a lot of holiday visits happening. And one of the harder surfaces to get clean are tile floors. Have you ever noticed that the tile floors almost never look as good as the day you put them down?
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s so true. It feels like it just gets more dingy-looking over time and you can almost never get that beautiful, new look back. So we rounded up some tips on how you can remove the top six stubborn stains from ceramic tile.
Now, this usually happens around the holidays: gum, wax, sticky substances. You’ve got kids over. They’re eating candy, they’re making big messes. Candles are burning. You can get wax on the floor. So here’s a couple of ways to handle these kind of sticky situations.
You want to place some ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag and then lay that ice pack on top of that sticky stain and leave it there until that sticky residue is solidified. Then you can carefully chip it away using a popsicle stick or something else that won’t scratch your tile. I’ve also done this when I’ve gotten gum on a pair of pants. I actually just put the pants right in the freezer.
TOM: Oh. Good trick. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Definitely a good trick.
Now, blood: bleach is the key here. So you want to mix up a diluted solution to lift that stain and then make sure you rinse the tile really, really well.
Now, with coffee, tea or juice stains, you want to wash that stain first with detergent and soap. And then you can use that same diluted-bleach solution to just kind of rinse the area and clean it off.
TOM: Now, if you’ve got grease or fat-based stains, that’s a little different story. You want to mix up a non-abrasive floor cleaner, like maybe Soft Scrub, with club soda or carbonated water. And then work it into the stain and then rinse. And if we’re talking about ink or clothing dye, diluted bleach will help here, too. But you could step up the strength by soaking a cloth in the bleach, place it on top of the ink stain and then leave the cloth in place until the stain has dissolved. And then rinse the tile well.
LESLIE: Yeah. Nail polish. I swear, when we first moved into the house, a whole bottle of nail polish fell out of the bathroom medicine cabinet and just shattered everywhere. So, it’s a tricky stain. So if you do spill it, try using that nail-polish remover right away to lift off the nail polish. But if the stain is remaining on the tile, you can try a diluted-bleach solution and kind of just sit it on that nail polish. It’ll kind of break it down in the same way and that should lift it right off.
TOM: If you missed any of that, we’ve got a great post on MoneyPit.com about stain-removing secrets. You’ll find that online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Greg wrote in to The Money Pit and he says, “My wife and I are in the process of buying a home.” Alright. Congrats, Greg. “We’ve decided to have an inspection and a radon test done. The inspection came out fine but the radon test came in at 18, which is more than four times the safe level. What should I do?”
TOM: Yeah. That’s true. Four picocuries per liter of air is the guideline for action. And so if you’re at 18, yeah, that’s pretty high. But there’s no need to panic. Radon gas is a soil gas. And to remove it, you put in a radon-mitigation system, which is sort of like a ventilation system.
And the way it generally works is – let’s say you have a basement. Typically, what a radon-mitigating company would do is they would seal the gap around the slab and then they would basically drill a fairly sizable hole into the concrete floor, usually about a 5-inch-wide hole for a pipe. And they would insert this radon vent pipe in that hole and they would hook up a fan to it. And then it would basically be turned on, run 24/7. It will pull the gas out from underneath the slab and vent it to the outside. And you’d be very surprised. By simply doing that, you can take those radon gases – those radon-gas levels – down to practically zero.
So, it’s very common in certain parts of the country to do this. It doesn’t mean you have a bad house or a house that has been in any way contaminated. It’s just something that Mother Nature has in the soil, in some places more than others, and there’s a very simple way to get rid of it.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Maureen from New Jersey wrote in saying she needs to order carpet for – “my double set of stairs with a landing in between and a hallway upstairs with odd-shaped nooks and corners.” “I don’t want to be short or pay for extra that I don’t need. What’s the best way to measure carpet for this type of space?”
TOM: Well, generally speaking, you count 1 square yard of carpet for every step you have. So that’s one way you can start. And then you can measure the distances of those – the lengths and widths of those landings and then add that in. But since it’s a fairly complicated stair with all those landings, I’d just have a carpet guy come and give you an estimate for that.
Or you can do what I did. I just had to run carpet up a set of stairs with two landings. I just took pictures. I took some pictures and I did a video walking up the stairs and I went into my carpet store and said, “This is what I’ve got to do.” And they were like, “Yep, got it, no problem.” And they gave me a price right on the spot. Seemed fair, so I just said yes and we were done.
LESLIE: I mean really, it is kind of best to have the pro come in. Because then they’re going to give you tips and tricks of which way you’re going to install it, what the pattern does, how well it’s going to wear. So, it’ll help you stay sort of right on budget with how much you want to spend and get the right amount.
TOM: There’s actually a number of varieties, in terms of how you can carpet a stair, by the way. You can carpet – in my house, I have just the tread carpeted, almost like a runner up the middle. Because the wood of the tread itself is nice and we finished it and stained it and it looks really attractive that way. But in the new stair that we just did, it was an old what’s called a “box stair.” It was kind of closed in on both sides.
So in that case, we just basically covered the entire tread and riser. We left the side part of the stair itself, because I think it looks tacky when you do the stringers on the inside. It just doesn’t look right. Looked kind of chintzy. It was (inaudible) easy to do. But I knew it was going to wear very well because it was tucked in on both sides of the tread.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show in the jolly time of the year when we’re all taking on ho-ho-home improvement projects. Get it? Well, maybe not. Maybe you’re just chilling right now and enjoying yourself. We hope you are because you’ve got a lot of work to do next year. We know it and we’re going to be here to help you take – tackle those projects.
In fact, I saw a recent survey, Leslie: 60 percent of American homeowners are planning on taking on their own home maintenance chores next year.
So we will be there with you to help you get those done every step of the way. Until then, Happy Holidays, everybody. 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.
(Copyright 2022 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.)