- Types of Insulation: Find out how to identify the best insulation options for your house to cut costs and improve comfort.
- Saving Space: You don’t need to downsize to save space. We’ve got tips on living more simply and affordably.
- Saving Water: Installing the right plumbing fixtures makes it easy to save water and money. Here’s what to look for.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Replacement Windows: Are triple-pane windows better than double-pane? ENERGY STAR-rated double-pane replacement windows should be efficient enough for Jane Ellen’s home.
- Structural Issues: The front wall of Richard’s home has been bowed for decades. It hasn’t been a problem, but he needs a structural engineer to assess it before he ever tries to sell the house.
- Garage Doors: The garage door is not operating properly and shimmies when it opens and closes. The ball-bearing door rollers are failing and it would be best for Nancy to replace the garage door and opener.
- Subflooring: A leaky toilet rotted the bathroom subfloor in Chris’ home. We’ve got tips on the best way to replace the subfloor and adhere new flooring.
- Kitchen Renovation: Joan wants to know where to begin with a kitchen renovation. Planning makes perfect and we suggest visiting a home center or speaking with a kitchen and bath designer to get ideas.
- Foundation Walls: The paint on Jodi’s cement block foundation is starting to peel because of the surrounding moisture. She must either strip off the paint or have a mason attach wire mesh and re-stucco the foundation.
- Gas Connection: Should Ken hook up a gas stove by using the same gas regulators as the water heater and furnace? That’s not a good idea because the pressures could be different, and he should call a professional to do the job.
- Painting Tile: Can you paint over outdated bathroom tile? Christine can, but it’s an extensive process that requires an oil-based primer. She might try decorating around the tile colors instead.
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: Welcome to Episode 2281. If you’ve got a project in mind for this weekend, you are in the right place because we’re not doing anything. We thought, “Hey, what the heck? Why don’t we see who we can help out with some tips and advice in how to get those projects done quickly, efficiently, easily, so you can get back to enjoying your home?”
Maybe your project is a repair. Maybe it’s a décor project. Maybe it’s painting or decorating or fixing a squeaky floor or a leaky toilet. Whatever is on that to-do list, you can slide it right over to ours when you reach out to us with your questions. Couple of ways to do that: you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, now that we are smack dab in the middle of winter, adding some more insulation is one of the single most cost-effective ways to cut heating costs and improve your comfort. But there are now many, many options, so we’re going to help you identify the one that’s best for you.
LESLIE: And downsizing is a big trend these days. But if living small isn’t for you, we’re going to have some tips on ways that you can make life simpler and more affordable without shrinking your space.
TOM: And saving water is something often easier said than done. But rather than rely on your family to use less water, we’re going to highlight some new plumbing fixtures that actually do the water-saving for you.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. What are you guys working on? Is it a big fix? Is it a quick fix? Are you fixing a project that went awry? Whatever it might be, we can help you save time, money and hassles. So give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT; that’s 888-666-3974. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com. Just click the microphone button. You can record your question right there. It will come right to our studio and we’ll get a chance to answer it on the air.
But for now, let’s get to it. We’ve got some callers lined up. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows.
How can we help you make that decision?
JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.
TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes, it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass is insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.
It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.
JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?
JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.
Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and blows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.
TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?
JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.
LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of 5 degrees, Tom?
LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.
TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?
LESLIE: It’s like summer.
TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a structural issue in the basement and a bowing wall.
Tell us what’s going on.
RICHARD: OK. My wife and I built our own house and it is a pretty good-size house. But anyhow, we just got the thing dry to the weather and got 14 inches of rain in 2 days. And anyhow, the front wall buckled in a little bit. What do you know about these outfits that claim that they can jack walls out?
TOM: OK. So, is this a home that you’ve just completed, Richard? You say you just got it closed to the weather.
RICHARD: Well, about 40 years ago.
TOM: OK. Now, that we have the timeline correctly – so you have a 40-year-old home and you’ve got a wall – a front wall – that’s buckling in due to heavy rain. Is this something that happened slowly over time or does it seem like it happened all at once?
RICHARD: Well, no, it happened – this happened 40 years ago when we built the thing. We just got the thing dry to the weather and got 14 inches of rain in 2 days.
TOM: I see. So it’s been sitting like that, in the buckled position, for 40 years?
RICHARD: Yeah. And it’s not going anyplace.
TOM: I think if the wall has stayed in that position for all of those years, then there’s not much for you to worry about, with the single exception of: what are you going to do when it comes time to sell the house? It will no doubt come up as an issue in a home inspection report or an engineering report.
What you could do, just to kind of make sure that you have all bases covered – you asked me about contractors that claimed to push walls back. I would not – repeat not – hire a contractor as my first step. My first step would be to bring in a structural engineer. Contractors are not qualified to make those types of assessments.
You have a structural engineer look at that wall and if it needs to be modified or reinforced in any way, you let the engineer design that. He or she will design that fix. And then you take that design to the contractor and say, “This is exactly what I want done.” You do not leave it up to the contractor, because they’re not qualified to make that structural assessment.
And in doing it that way, when it comes time to sell the house, if you have the engineer come back and inspect the work when it’s complete and basically certify that, you know, he analyzed it, he designed the repair and the repair was properly constructed, that’s kind of like having a pedigree on the effectiveness of that repair. And if it turns out that it doesn’t need any work, well, he can put that in writing, as well.
But I would not hire a contractor that’s going to claim to do something to that wall. Because first of all, it stood like that for 40 years. It’s not getting any worse, so certainly it’s not an immediate problem. But just to protect yourself in the future – and especially if it comes time to sell the house, Richard – I would have it looked at by a structural engineer and then follow his or her advice.
Richard, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nancy in Massachusetts is dealing with a garage that’s got other plans than closing.
What’s going on there?
NANCY: I have a dilemma about what to do about the door. It’s just not closing properly and sometimes, it doesn’t even want to go up and down, never mind when it comes down it wiggles left to right, left to right until it gets to the bottom.
TOM: This is on a garage-door opener?
NANCY: Oh, oh, yes, yes.
TOM: So when it goes up and down, it shimmies in the opening?
NANCY: Yes. And the closing.
TOM: So, generally, the rollers on the side of the garage door are failing when that occurs. They’re ball-bearing rollers and when they get stuck, then they get sort of hung up on the way down and that’s what makes the door sort of vibrate and puts a lot of resistance on it, too. And that may be the reason it’s not closing all the way or closing evenly.
It sounds like the door is pretty old. And your options are to replace all the hardware and try to realign the door to get it working right or just replace the door and the door opener. If it’s that old and that sort of rickety, I might lean towards just a replacement. The new doors today are actually a lot lighter than the old doors and they work really smoothly.
I just put 2 on in the garage, I guess, about 8, 9 months ago now and I’m really happy with them. And I used to have really heavy, hardboard doors on this garage and now I have nice, factory-painted steel doors that look really good, really sharp and just close flawlessly every single time.
NANCY: Well, this is one of those metal doors.
TOM: It is? OK. But it’s an older metal door?
NANCY: Yeah. And I put Boeshield on the tracks to try to get it to roll down properly.
TOM: Yeah. But if the hardware has failed – even if you’re lubricating the tracks, if the hardware has failed, it’s not going to work right.
NANCY: So what would you recommend? A new door or just get somebody over to do the hardware?
TOM: I’d get a new door and a new opener.
NANCY: Yeah, OK. I don’t want to put good money after bad.
TOM: Exactly. I think – who knows if you could find the old hardware to match and everything? I’d just get a new door and a new opener. I think it’d be worth it.
NANCY: OK. Very good advice. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: Thank you, Nancy. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that adding insulation is the single most effective way to cut heating costs and improve your home’s comfort? There are several different types of insulation that you can choose from and each has its own benefits and applications.
So, to choose the best type of insulation, you should first determine where you want or need to add the insulation – or even install insulation for the first time – and the recommended R-values for the area that you want to insulate.
TOM: Definitely. So, let’s look at the most common types.
OK, so first of all, the most common type of all is fiberglass-batt insulation. It’s best for unfinished walls, including foundation walls, floors and ceilings. It’s a totally DIY project. The fiberglass batts are suited for standard stud and joist spacing. Very inexpensive. And they can be added to existing insulation, which is common. Sometimes you have insulation that’s many years old and it settles and it sags. And you can add new fiberglass-batt insulation on top of the old.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, the next option is cellulose or you can call it “loose fill.” Now, this is best for enclosed, existing wall cavities. It’s blown into place using very special equipment and it’s sometimes even poured in.
Now, it’s usually done by a pro but some manufacturers will rent you the equipment so that you can do your own blown-in insulation installation. Now, it’s also good for adding insulation to existed finish areas, irregularly-shaped rooms, around obstructions in the wall like plumbing. So it’s definitely a good choice if your home is all buttoned up.
TOM: Now, the next option is called “stone wool.” This is sort of an upgrade to the old ROCKWOOL insulation. It’s very fire-resistant and it’s also a great sound barrier.
I just did an installation of Thermafiber, which is the Owens Corning stone-wool product. And I did it in my crawlspace because my crawlspace is unheated. It’s a little damp. And it’s an old house, so I wanted to make sure I used the most fire-resistant product possible. And we’re super happy with the results.
And then finally, in my view, one of the best options, if you have the opportunity to use it, is spray-foam insulation. It’s great for open walls or unfinished attics. It has to be applied by a specialist. It basically is a two-part mix that when it gets mixed together, it expands. And the fact that it expands means that it’s also going to seal the gaps in the framing of the house and it’s going to insulate at the same time.
So in our house, we did spray foam on the underside of our roof. When we did a new roofing project, we used spray foam there. And it’s so nice now to go up in the attic year-round. It’s always an ambient temperature. So it’s never too hot, never too cold. And the difference on our heating and cooling bills has been nothing short of stunning.
In fact, if you go to MoneyPit.com and download the Money Pit Insulation Guide, you will see the story of that project, including copies of the before-and-after utility costs. And it really is undeniably a very, very super-efficient way to insulate your house. So you’ve got lots of options.
But listen, even if you just go up in your attic this weekend, maybe you measure it and you find that you don’t have enough, add a second layer. Six or eight inches of unfaced fiberglass-batt insulation and you will be so much more comfortable the next time it gets cold in your area.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to North Carolina where Chris has a question on flooring.
What can we help you with today?
CHRIS: I had a leaking toilet that rotted my wood subfloor. I ripped it all up and I put the new pieces of wood back down.
CHRIS: Well, my cuts weren’t exactly perfect and there’s some spacing in between, like maybe three-sixteenths.
TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty good.
CHRIS: OK. It’s just in some sections. And I’m going to put down the ¼-inch cement board to put tile down here.
CHRIS: And I just wanted to know: what type of mortar do I use to put the cement board down onto this wood subfloor? And then once the cement board is down and it’s screwed in, do I have to put some type of mesh tape to put the boards together and then mortar the tape?
TOM: No. So, first of all, if you’re going to put down Durock, which is sort of that cement board that you’re describing, generally, that’s screwed down. So you would screw that down to the floor. And then on top of that, you would apply the adhesive for the tile. And you’d glue the tile right to the board.
TOM: You know, having those gaps in the plywood repair is no big deal because that’s all going to be covered over. Just make sure that when you put the cement board down that you don’t align the seams of the board with any of the old seams of the plywood below it.
TOM: Everything should overlap.
CHRIS: Do I still have to put the mesh tape, though, for the boards – the cement boards – or no?
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think so.
TOM: I think you can go right on top of that. As long as you have good adhesion of those boards down, they’re secured well in place, they shouldn’t move.
CHRIS: OK, great.
TOM: Chris, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joan in California needs some help with a kitchen remodel.
How’s it going?
JOAN: Yes, well, we haven’t started yet and I just need some advice on how to get started. Do you start with an architect or what do you do?
TOM: That’s a good question. So, planning makes perfect. You want to start with a plan. Now, are you essentially going to replace the kitchen in sort of the same layout that you have right now, Joan? Or are you thinking about really changing things up a lot?
JOAN: Well, it’s a very small kitchen and I just want to know how to maximize everything.
TOM: Alright. So if it’s a small kitchen, you can probably do this inexpensively by perhaps starting with a home center. A lot of the home centers have designers that work on the – work on designing kitchens for the cabinetry that they sell. And for a very small fee, they can help you lay that out and take advantage of all of the latest options.
If you want to do more than that, what you’re going to do is hire a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. But this is sort of like hiring an interior decorator that works just on kitchens and baths. And that’s going to cost you a few bucks.
But if you want to just do this an easy way, I would start with a home center, in the kitchen department, and see if they’ll lay out some options for you using the type of cabinets that they sell. Those cabinets are usually pretty affordable at that level and they’ll be able to give you some ideas on things, perhaps, you haven’t thought about.
LESLIE: You know what, Joan? I think it’s really smart to keep a notepad in the kitchen. And everybody and anybody, yourself and your family who use the space, as you walk through and notice little areas where you’re tripping over one another or things that just don’t make sense or you wish that X was here and not there, sort of jot all of those down. So when you do go sit down with – whether it’s a certified kitchen-and-bath designer or someone in the home center, you sort of have all of these issues that could be addressed or might be able to be addressed.
JOAN: One thing I really want is more electrical outlets, so that’ll have to definitely be in the plan.
TOM: Well, it’s definitely in the plan and you’ll do these things in order. The first thing you’ll do is rip out the old cabinets and the next thing you’ll do would be to rough-in new wiring and new plumbing to have it exactly where you want it. And then, of course, you’ll start the installation of the new cabinetry as almost the last step.
It’s also a good time to think about universal design in the kitchen, maybe having countertops of different height. So as you get older, you could sit down and work at the kitchen counter as opposed to just standing up. So, think of the sort of accessibility issues when you design this kitchen, as well.
JOAN: How much time should I allow for something like this?
TOM: Well, it depends on whether you have sort of all your ducks in a row. Sometimes it takes a while to get all the cabinets delivered. But if everything is accessible and on site, you can tear out this kitchen and rebuild it inside of a week.
JOAN: Oh, wow.
TOM: If you have everybody lined up and everybody is there when they need to be there and the plumber shows up on time, the electrician shows up on time and so on, sure, I don’t see any reason you can’t get it done in a week.
JOAN: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Jody in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JODY: I actually have a problem with my foundation. It’s an exposed foundation; about 3 feet high around the whole footprint of the house is exposed. The cement-block foundation that had parging on it originally – and the parging was cracking, so it was recommended by a masonary (ph) contractor to put DRYLOK over it.
So, this is what I did. I put on – it’s a – they add color to the DRYLOK. So I put it over the whole foundation and it started to crack and peel and bubble.
TOM: Yeah, it didn’t adhere properly.
First of all, isn’t DRYLOK usually an interior masonry paint, not an exterior masonry paint?
JODY: Well, this particular masonary (ph) guy told me that he’s actually used it on the bottom of swimming pools, so he thought that it would work. And when he saw it later, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen it do that.”
TOM: Yeah. How about that? He just experimented with your house.
JODY: I did call the DRYLOK people, too, and talked to them.
JODY: And they told me to try to power-wash it, try scraping it. But it’s just become a huge mess, you know? I mean it peels in some places. Some places, it adhered.
TOM: Yeah, the problem is that now that you’ve got that on there, you’ve got to get it off because you can’t put any – you can’t put new stuff over the bad, old stuff. It just will continue to peel.
JODY: Yeah. The problem is is that we are on filled-in marshland – is where the – and so, we’re on clay and sand. And the cement block, it sort of leaches up through there, so it’s always sort of damp coming up from the ground anyway.
TOM: Yeah. That’s what I was going to – that’s what I was kind of thinking. I was thinking that the block wall might have been wet when you applied it. It might not have been visibly wet but see, those block walls are hydroscopic. They absorb water really, really well. And so, if it’s on a moist situation, that water is going to draw up, get behind that paint. And nothing causes paint to peel faster than water.
So, unfortunately, at this stage, you’re going to have to strip that off.
JODY: Oh, my gosh. And we’re right on the water, you know what I mean? We’re on the bay. So I’m always worried about things that are not environmentally friendly.
TOM: The other thing that I think you probably could do – and this is a big job in and of itself, though – is you could have a mason attach a woven-wire mesh to that foundation and re-stucco it. And in that case, it could go right on top of the old, junky paint because you’re not really sticking to the foundation; you’re sticking to the mesh. So that’s another possibility.
JODY: I gotcha, yeah. Yeah. Because, I guess, in some places that was used before, underneath the parging.
TOM: Well, the parging is simply a stucco coat that goes on top of the block wall and it’s typical for the parging to crack. And usually, it cracks along the lines of the masonry block.
JODY: Yep. That’s what it did.
TOM: And that’s not necessarily a defect. That’s pretty much just the way it goes with that stuff, especially if they don’t put it on thick enough.
So, I would consider, if you really want to have it to look like a traditional masonry foundation, I would consider having mesh put up there and then properly re-stuccoed. If not, you’re just going to have to peel that paint off any way you can. You would – I might take a look at some of the citrus-based paint strippers if you have some that’s really hard to get off.
JODY: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Sorry we don’t have better news. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, savings and simplicity definitely fuel the need for downsizing, with more and more homeowners moving into smaller homes. But if your goal is simply to make life less expensive and more relaxing, there’s a lot of ways to do that without going super small.
LESLIE: Now, first of all, you can lighten the load. Assess your current belongings, from furnishings to all of that stuff that is tucked into those very backs of your closets. I’m talking to you guys. I know what’s in there. You’re shoving stuff all the way back there, so take it all out. Then edit it all down to what you really need and what you want to have around you, which will uncover both living and storage space that you probably didn’t even realize you had.
Now, after you do whittle down your collection – this is your new downsized belongings to just the essentials – you might even make a little cash by selling the excess in a yard sale or a garage sale or online. Whichever way you like best.
TOM: Now, once you’ve sort of gone through all that stuff and figured out what you’re going to save, think about reorganizing what’s left. You want to revamp those closets and other storage areas for more efficiency. And then think about adding maybe some do-it-yourself shelving or modular storage solutions. You’ll find tons and tons of those, especially at key times of the year, like in the colder weather. It’s when we seem to focus on our homes a lot.
I was just in Home Depot the other day and I could not believe how many options they had for storage now. And you know that’s popular because they always push it to the front of the store. They had storage bins so big I wouldn’t be able to lift it if I filled it up.
LESLIE: Once it’s full, for sure.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a lot available. And you can add some convenience. You can find double-duty furnishings where you have furniture pieces that have storage built in and that sort of thing. But take advantage of that. And this way, ones you’re keeping, you can make sure you organize it and then store it safely for the next time you can use it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And now, once you’ve got everything sort of organized and you know what’s left, do some staging. You can arrange your favorite furnishings for a very welcoming, clutter-free feel. And put smart pieces, like nesting tables and convertible seating to work in those busy living areas. So it kind of clears up space when you need the space and then opens up for use when you need those things.
TOM: Good advice.
You want more tips, we’ve got a lot of content about how to better organize your spaces, your closets, your kitchens, your bedrooms, on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ken in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KEN: Hooking up a gas stove.
KEN: And I’ve got a gas hot-water heater and a furnace. And I was just wondering if I can use the same regulator.
TOM: I wouldn’t. I would get a brand-new regulator for that brand-new gas stove because the pressures could be different.
KEN: OK. How do I plumb that then in the house? Just put a splitter on the high end there?
TOM: Well, I’m uncomfortable giving you specific gas piping/plumbing advice because I don’t know your skill set. It’s really not a beginner do-it-yourself sort of project, Ken. And so, if you’re unfamiliar with it, then I really think you should get some professional help because I don’t want you to do it wrong and end up causing an unsafe situation.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, saving water is becoming more and more important. But rather than relying on your kids and family to just simply use less water, updating your plumbing fixtures can actually do the water-saving for you. It’s actually a super-simple pro-plumbing project.
TOM: We’ve got a few tips on how to find faucets and toilets and showers and sprinklers that can do the job.
So, first, let’s talk about those toilets. They can last for decades and that makes them one of the most durable plumbing fixtures in the house. But while they don’t really wear out, old toilets can waste plenty of water with every flush. So, instead, switch to WaterSense-certified toilets.
LESLIE: Yeah. WaterSense is a program that’s run by the EPA. And just like the ENERGY STAR program, it helps consumers find products that save energy. Now, WaterSense is designed to help those consumers identify the projects that will save water. And to qualify, a product must be certified to use at least 20-percent less water, save energy and perform as well or even better than the regular models.
TOM: Now, aside from toilets, if you were to also replace your bathroom faucets and your showerhead, the EPA reports you can save 26,000 gallons of water a year, create 380 fewer pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce your utility bills by 250 bucks, which sounds pretty good to me.
LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of utility bills, if you use less water, you also use less natural gas and electricity – however you heat that water – so it all adds up. Plus, besides bathrooms and kitchens, WaterSense fixtures are also available for outdoors, like your lawn sprinklers, rain controllers. All those other irrigation products can be updated to help you avoid wasting water while you still enjoy that beautiful landscape.
Chris in Arkansas is on the line with a painting question.
How can we help you today?
CHRIS: Well, I bought a house and it has two bathrooms. And the tile – sink and tubs are baby pink and baby blue.
TOM: What’s wrong with that?
CHRIS: Well, it’s not exactly what I had in mind. But I was wondering if you can successfully – until I get to redo the bathrooms, if you can successively paint over them without it looking terrible.
LESLIE: Yes and no. I mean you can. There’s quite an extensive process to it to make sure that you get proper adhesion and it sticks very well. However, whenever you’re dealing with a painted surface and water is involved and areas that you have to clean, as well, you’re going to get some wear and tear. So I don’t think it’s the best idea.
There are kits that you can buy online. Basically, if you want to do it without a kit – and of course, then you don’t want to paint the grout. But a lot of people do paint the grout and then that looks weird, also. So you’ve got to think about all these things. But you’re going to want to use a very, very durable oil-based primer. And of course, you’ve got to clean those tiles very, very well before you even think about putting a drop of primer on them.
TOM: And I think Sherwin-Williams actually makes a primer that is super, super adhesive. And the reason I know about this is because the way they demo’d it was by painting it on tile and then putting a second layer of paint on it. But even though it’s a really adhesive paint, I agree with you completely that eventually – in a very short period of time, especially if you’re cleaning the surface – you’re going to start wearing through it.
CHRIS: OK. And like I said, not knowing if I could or not, I just was thinking if I could buy myself some time and just paint it until I can redo – or maybe it’s sounding like I should just wait until I can redo.
TOM: Well, you know, the bad news about those old tile bathrooms is that they have these very traditional, 1960s-like colors. The good news is that the tile quality is usually really good and the way it’s installed is really solid. And that’s why, if at all possible, maybe you could think about decorating around this tile.
So you said that you had – is it pink and blue?
LESLIE: With the pink, I think we’re seeing such a big trend in pink really making a comeback in bathroom spaces. You could go overload on the pink, you can add in florals, you can add in different tones of pink. So you can sort of tone in down with neutral beiges and grays and hints of gold and sort of make it glamorous and more girly. There are ways you can do that.
Blue tile, I feel like, is just a poor choice. Blue tile is blue tile.
CHRIS: I totally agree with you.
LESLIE: Maybe everything else goes super clean. But I just feel like if you attempt to paint the tile, you’re going to be sad in the long run. And it’s going to – it will perhaps motivate you to do the permanent work more quickly.
CHRIS: OK. Well, exactly that and that’s why I called. I just wasn’t sure if there was some miracle cure that I – “Hey, this works great” or not. And I am trying my best at decorating around but the pink, yes, has worked better than the blue.
TOM: At least we solved half the problem, Christine.
CHRIS: I appreciate it. I appreciate it so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Larry wrote in saying, “We had our 200-foot driveway asphalted last spring. All year so far, it’s looked great. But our first real cold spell got down to the 20s and we noticed a crack. How do I repair this so it doesn’t get worse?”
Now, is that unusual? Would you see something like that so early on or is that a fault in the prep?
TOM: Well, look, when you put a driveway down, there’s so many ways to do this. And the durability is directly proportional to how thick of a base you put in and what kind of asphalt you selected.
So, if you put in a fairly thin layer of base, maybe 3 inches or something like that, that’s not going to be very sturdy. If you put in 6 or 7 or 8 inches and then you compress it, you compact it, that’s like concrete. And it’s so hard. Even though it’s stone, it’s so hard. And then it’s not as likely to move. Plus, the fact that it’s 200 feet – that’s an awfully long driveway. And I would’ve thought they would’ve put some expansion joints on that.
But all said, you were kind enough, Larry, to send me a photograph of that crack. It’s not terribly big. So I would simply seal it with an asphalt-caulk patching compound. It will expand and contract with that crack.
Now, if those who are listening have a bigger crack, what you want to do is fill it with a piece of foam first. There’s a foam rod that will go into the bottom of the crack. And then you can sort of caulk over that or put a urethane – flowable urethane –on top of that. And this way, you’ll keep the water out, because that’s really what does the damage. If water gets in there, starts to expand, it moves the driveway and then you’ve got a big mess on your hands.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out because we don’t want this to get any worse.
TOM: Well, are you about to throw out that old chair or dresser? Well, not so fast. Leslie has got some great tips for bringing new life to old furniture, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? I think the word is upcycling, right, when we do this?
LESLIE: Yeah, totally. You shouldn’t ever judge a book by its cover; it’s like a diamond in the rough. So don’t do that with furniture, either. You can refinish furniture, you can do upholstery. These are all DIY projects that can create statement pieces out of furniture that’s old and weathered or maybe ready to go to the recycling area. But it’s faded into the background but you can give it new life to become an awesome piece in your home.
So, first of all, you’ve got to assess the piece of furniture that you want to refinish, because different materials require different treatments. Now, the better the original material, the better the ultimate results. Unless that piece of furniture is chipped or maybe loaded with layers of old paint and finish, a simple sanding should do the trick. Now, if a piece does require stripping, though, you should consider outsourcing it. Or you can get a product from the home center that will strip off that existing finish, then a light sand and then it should be good to go.
Now, if you want to outsource it or maybe you need to outsource an upholsterer, I always sort of go to Angie’s List to look for somebody in the area. I also go to social media, to people – like your town’s Mom and Dad’s page or your town’s page online. And then you can sort of ask the people in your community, “Hey, who do you use?” Because they’re very quick to share opinions on who they like and who they don’t. So definitely a good place to sort of crowdsource information about good vendors in your area.
I mean definitely take the time to look at the piece, see how it’s built structurally. Is it sturdy? Is it ready to refinish? Does adding the fabric or the new color really bring it around? And you will be surprised how much of a huge difference you can make for not a ton of money.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, paint. It’s a really remarkable material. If you think about it, it’s cheap. Anybody can use it. It can completely transform whatever it’s applied to. But what do you do if you can’t get the darn stuff to stick? Because there are definitely some notoriously difficult surfaces to paint. The truth is it can be done with the right approach. We will walk you through, step-by-step, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
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 2023 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.)
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