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How to Stucco a Shed

I live in a neighborhood of Mediterranean-style homes. According to our homeowners association, all buildings on lots must be of this style. I have a new  storage shed that I need to alter to meet these HOA standards. I plan to use WonderBoard to frame it out and stucco as the finish with paint to match the house. It will be on a concrete base against a 6' rock wall on the back side. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to attach the Wonderboard to the shed, and problems to anticipate. Thanks.

Our Answer

The foremost thing to keep in mind: If you're going to cover your shed with stucco, the shed needs to be dimensionally stable.  You can’t have movement in the walls, because the stucco will crack and fall off.  Preventing this starts at the foundation – you need a good stone base and concrete footings so when the job's complete, the shed is rock solid. 

Second, I’d recommend against using the WonderBoard for the same reason. This product is not designed to to be used as sheathing. For the best results, use plywood, cover the surface with tar paper and wire mesh, and then stucco it.  If those walls are not solid, the stucco will crack, which will make you, your HOA and your neighbors unhappy Good luck and please post photos to Money Pit's Facebook page!

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Peeling Porch Stain

I use a weatherproof satin on my porch every year . The product says you only need to redo every 3 to 5 years but yet it comes off every year. Why is this?

Our Answer

Sometimes multiple layers of paint or stain reach a point where the layers simply won't stay together. Give the history, the best approach is the completely strip all old stain/paint off the porch.  Then, after it is thoroughly dry, apply an oil-based primer, and then two top coats of stain.  I say use oil-based primer because it has the best adhesion.

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basement, window, leak

Basement Windows Flooded & Filling with Water

Recently bought a house and we have problems with the basement windows sills along the driveway filling with water when it rains. The previous owners sealed the glass brick windows pretty well, but still, some water slowly seeps in when it rains. We have pumps with automatic switches in each window to pump out any water that gets in. Our basement does not have a sump pump but has a drain. From what we can tell there's no drainage in the windows. Not sure what we should do!

Our Answer


This is a very common problem as is the attempted solution you've described.  Unfortunately, it wont work.  No matter how water tight we try and make basement windows, they're not going to turn into fishbowls when the window wells fill up from the outside!

Even though you are not seeing visible water in your basement, you can be certain that too much water is collecting around those foundation walls, which can lead to a host of structural problems. The solution here is surprisingly simple, and detailed in my post about fixing wet basements.  

In short, you need to improve your roof and surface drainage conditions. Gutters must exist, be clean and properly sized, and most importantly, spots must discharge 4 to 6 feet from the house.  Likewise, grading around the foundation perimeter must slope away from the house.  

As for your driveway, that's a bit more complicated as you cannot easily change the pitch and I suspect from your description that it at least somewhat dips toward the house.  Start with the gutter corrections I describe in the post and make sure the gutter discharge is not contributing to the problem. If they do drain in this area, take steps to reroute them so that doesn't happen. Add window well covers, which will help reduce water that collects from direct rainfall.  If all else fails, you can install a curtain drain in the driveway to try and intercept the runoff, or of course, replace the driveway with one that is properly sloped.


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paint, prep, paint brush, choosing the right paint brush

Removing Mold and Mildew From Siding

There's growth on my painted wood siding.  I'm pretty sure it's either mold or mildew.  What is the best way to remove this? I heard there is a product i can spray on the siding and thats all I have to do, but I have a hard time believing it could be that easy!

Our Answer

Rest easy: Mold and mildew on siding are common, and nothing to be terribly concerned about.  But it does need to be managed.  What you want to use is a mildewcide.  There are a great numbers of commercial  and DIY options available, from mixing bleach and water to using professional products but we like Spray and Forget the best simply apply and let them sit, and they prevent further mold.  The other treatments can have a detrimental effect or grass, plants, and other growth.  Now, you mentioned your siding is painted.  If you're ever getting ready to repaint it, it's really important you thoroughly remove that mold and mildew first. 

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rain, storm, flood

Storm Damage: How to Fix Holes in Soil

I live in Arkansas and we just had some pretty bad and heavy storms for close to a week straight. Around my house, some of the soil has washed out in areas. Some of it is near the back patio and some of it is randomly around my house. You may see a dip in the soil, and then there isn't another one for a few feet.    I realize I need to fix my drainage, but can I just add topsoil to those spots where it is missing? I didn't know if it was that simple or not.   Thanks!

Our Answer

Hey Jacob,

Restoring the holes in soil may be that easy but it really depends on how deep of a pit it left.  If it's more than a 3 or 4 inches, you should first fill it in with clean fill dirt, and then add top-soil and plant grass, or use another covering to stop erosion.  

Top soil is just that, meant to be the top layer or dirt.  It's rich in organic matter and designed to support root growth.  For everything deeper, use the clean fill dirt, which is available from a landscape supply hour.  Be sure to tamp it as yo go, and add more than you need because it will settle over the first few rain storms.

Hope this helps!

Tom Kraeutler

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bbq, grill, outdoor living

Can I Use Natural Gas in a Propane Grill?

We bought a propane grill a year before selling our home, and only used it once. When we moved into our new home, the prior owners left their grill attached to a natural gas line.  It was old, but instead of using our new one, we used it. It worked great and I loved not having to worry about running out of propane.

After a few years of use, it started to rust.  We decided to get rid of it and hook up our propane grill which had been in our basement, unused, for 4 years.  Without thinking we hooked up this gas grill to the natural gas line.  It didnt work at first but then it started to work and then not work.  So I went to Home Depot and the guy there said exactly what you are all thinking now: "You cannot hook a propane gas grill to a natural gas grill.  You have to buy a converter. " We looked in the manual to see if they have a converter for this brand and it didnt say anything about one.  I dont even think the company is still in business.  My husband did some research and decided to drill a bigger hole in the orifice.  We tried it and it worked for a little bit but would not stay lit.  Is there a way of fixing this problem or should I just count this as a lose and throw it in the garbage?  We paid almost $400 for this grill and I'd hate to throw it out and then find out there was a solution.

Our Answer

Its time for a new grill!  The guy at Home Depot was right - you can't use natural gas in a propane grill.  The size of the burners is different, as is the flow of gas.  Considering its age and the cost and hassle of converting it, I think you're best to chalk this one up to experience and buy a new natural gas grill. 

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EVP, floor, bathroom, laminate

What’s the Best Bathroom Flooring?

What is the best kind of laminate flooring to use in a bathroom?

Our Answer

Hey Karen, that's a great question. There have been many changes in laminate flooring over the last few years with one being that more and more laminate is now designed for wet locations like bathrooms.  That said, even water-resistant laminate is not capable of taking a prolonged soaking. The good news is that there are several other new and equally affordable options to consider.  

Engineered Vinyl Plank: Waterproof, kid-proof, pet-proof! Engineered vinyl plank (EVP) has a vinyl veneer with a rigid PVC core which makes it even easier to install. Plus the designs it is available in look as much like wood as the real thing.

Click Ceramic Plank: Whether your master bathroom is ready for a remodel or your kitchen needs a makeover, NEW Click Ceramic Plank (CCP) is ideal for any room in your home! These quick-locking ceramic based planks are easy to install – no grout or mortar needed. CCP is great for DIYers and the easy maintenance is a bonus.

These new vinyl and ceramic products look so much like the real thing, I'd skip laminate for a bathroom space and consider them instead.

Tom Kraeutler

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Artificial Grass vs Real Grass

What are the benefits of artificial vs real grass, considering cost, watering, sitting/playing on it, and mowing.

Our Answer

Sharlene, Artificial grass has obviously been around for a long time for sport fields, but it hardly looked like a lawn. Today, however, there are new products on the market in this space that look a lot like the real thing.  You've stated some of the advantages in your question, like maintenance (you'd never have to even OWN a lawn mower again!).  Artificial is also a good choice for areas where drought is common too, or even rooftop gardens for that matter.  

The downsides of an artificial lawn are that its expensive, and many homeowners claim it gets really hot and is uncomfortable to walk on, or even lounge out on in a lawn chair as the heat tends to radiate up on a hot day. It also need profesional installation.  Like anything there are good products and there are cheap products but there are no good cheap products! I'd also consider how it impacts resale value.  While artificial lawn may be a good choice for you, you could be hard-pressed to find a buyer who agrees.

It all comes down to personal preference.  Having a beautiful, fresh smelling, natural lawn surround your is as American as apple pie.  Plus, for me it'd look pretty weird having a green lawn in my neighborhood come January!

Tom Kraeutler

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Help! Overrun with House Flies!

Our home is overrun with house flies.  There is no apparent cause such as open trash, food being out or even Jimmy Hoffa (ha!).  I kill up to 25-30 flies *per day*, no kidding.  The worst part is the next day there are that many right back. The only thing I can think of is that our cat's box is maybe 12' from our door in the garage but we keep that cleaned out every 4-5 days so as to eliminate this as a possible cause.

Can you guys suggest either a fix or a possible cause for this?  It's about to drive me absolutely nuts!

Thanks and I love this show!

Daniel Ledford

Louisville, KY

Our Answer

Wow! That does sound like a lot of house flies.  Animal waste and garbage are actually both excellent breeding material for flies.  A fly can go from pupa to adult in eight days, so there does seem to be some reproduction going on in your home.  If you think you are doing a good job of keeping the litter box clean and garbage cans covered, then there may be some other breeding site.  For example, a missed bit of pet waste that is in a corner somewhere?  Keep doors and windows closed to exclude any breeding site that's INSIDE your home. 

Also, try to figure out what kind of flies these are.  If they are tiny gnat-like flies they could be fruit flies, also known as drain or sewer flies because they breed off of biofilm in your household drains.  Once you figure out which type of flies you have and find and clean the breeding site, you should be able to eliminate the problem.

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Should I Replace My Roof Before Adding Solar Panels?

I have asphalt shingles on my home that are 30 years old.  I have no leaks - just some moss/mildew on the current shingles as I live in a moist environment (Hawaii).  I am considering putting solar panels on the roof and have been advised to re-roof beforehand due to the roof's age.

The roofer I consulted advised me that I could save money by simply covering the existing shingles with a layer of new asphalt shingles.  Is this advisable? What do you suggest?

Our Answer

Congratulations on adding solar to your home!  Especially in a tropical area of intense sun like the one where you live, you'll certainly take advantage of all the power you'll collect.  That said, given the fact that your roof is 30 years old, it is extremely wise to replace it as opposed to simply adding a second layer of shingles.  Remove and replace the existing roof entirely.  By adding a second layer, you'll only accelerate deterioration - and replacing that roof becomes an even bigger headache once the solar panels are installed.  Good luck!

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outdoor cleaning

Spray & Forget vs Wet & Forget

I'm trying to determine the difference between Spray & Forget and Wet & Forget. I've heard experts from both products on your show over the years. It sounds like they do pretty much the same thing. So why choose Wet & Forget or Spray & Forget over the other?

Our Answer

That's a great question and you're right, both claim to do the same thing, which is to remove mold, mildew and algae growth.  But there are some significant differences.  

Spray & Forget has been out since 2002, and therefore has had the longest history of effectiveness.  Its also 3x more concentrated right out of the bottle, which delivers about 40% more product overall.  Spray & Forget lasts longer too, and it performs better on tough stains.  Finally of the two products, only Spray & Forget is made here in the USA.

Spray & Forget has been a consistent innovator in the no-rinse cleaning category, with more application options than other manufacturers.  They also continue to enhance and add to their formulations to increase performance and address new needs that homeowners want.

Check out the interview we did with Scott Dudjak, the President of Spray & Forget, below.

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Rotten Porch Posts: How to Repair

We bought a rustic style home in a wooded environment last year.  We have been fixing issues that stem from years of neglect including issues that were caused by moisture, including rotten porch posts.

Our front porch is poured concrete and has 6x6 wooden beams supporting the porch roof.  Over time, some of those beams have sustained wood rot at the base and are no longer touching the concrete in places.  How can we safely fix or replace those beams and try to avoid the same wood rot issues in the future?

Our Answer

Hi Christina! This is a very typical problem and really just mother nature's way of disposing of dead trees.  Unfortunately, one of those trees happens to be holding up your house!  Wood which stays damp and moist develops decay.  The post sitting directly on the concrete accelerates this process because both the wood post and the concrete are very hydroscopic, meaning they can soak up a heck of a lot of water!

While in some cases you can cut away and rebuild the bottom of the porch column, most commonly these posts need to be replaced.  The process involves installing temporary supports under the porch roof to support the structure while you repair or completely replace the wood post. You can reduce the chances of reoccurrence in a couple of ways.  First, use a pressure treated wood post.  These may not look very attractive, but they can be wrapped after they are installed with a wood trim of aluminum cladding to improve their appearance.

Second, you should make sure that the new post is siting on a post base, which is a metal plate designed to keep the wood off the concrete, thereby allowing it to stay dry.  There are many available, from a simples aluminum plate that is nailed to the bottom of the post to one that can be bolted to the post and the foundation to prevent uplift.

Finally, you might consider replacing the posts with fiberglass columns.  These can be both beautiful and sturdy -- plus you'l never have to worry about rot again!

Good luck with the project and post your pics here when you're done!. 

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silicone caulk

Window Replacement Cost

I have condensation issues and was advised by an inspector that I did indeed need new windows. Andersen gave me a quote of $8000 for five windows and two doors. Should I look for another quote or is this somewhat in line with other reputable window people. Is it wise to put this much $$ into my older home from the 50's?  Seems to me I do need to maintain my home, but it certainly is pricey to do so. What do you think? Judy

Our Answer

According to the 2017 Cost vs. Value report done by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling Magazine, installing vinyl replacement windows in your home returns just under 75% of their cost if the home is sold.  That's a pretty good return on investment, regardless of the home's age.  That said, the window replacement cost estimate you received of $1,600 per window sounds very high.   I'd suggest using a service like Home Advisor to find a local, highly rated pro, and seek competitive estimates.  Andersen makes a good window but there are many others to consider, that are well made, but perhaps not as well known.  I'd also check your local Home Depot as they sell a very good quality replacement window, the prices are fair and installation is usually available.

Also, remember that you are looking for "replacement" windows, not "new construction" windows.  These are designed to fit inside the frame of the old window and are less expensive, as well as easier to install.   

Lastly, if the condensation you report is what is forming between the glass panes of the old windows, that is the result of a failed seal and while it can be unsightly, doesn't impact the windows efficiency at a level worth spending $8,000 to fix.

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Split Wood Post Supports Roof: How to Repair?

I had new 6x6 posts installed to support on my porch roof overhang last fall. Now there are vertical splits on 1 post. Should I drive long screws to minimize the splitting?

Our Answer

Cracks in wood support columns are very common and seldom weaken the post to the point where a structural repair or replacement is needed.   Is this a pressure treated post? Those will crack like crazy as they dry out. Other than the cosmetics, they cracked wood posts or timbers rarely need repair.

Now if the post is so badly cracked and deformed that it is not supporting the roof, then I'd replace it.  Again, if it's made out of pressure treated lumber, expect cracks and plan to wrap the post with aluminum cladding, pine or composite to make it presentable.  

The idea of driving a screw through the post to  slow down or prevent further cracking is interesting, but I doubt it'd have much impact.  Wood that is drying out will crack, twist, turn and basically do what it wants to do and a few screws will probably not change that.

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Laminate Floor Separating at Joints

I recently renovated my basement. The concrete floor slants toward a drain in the floor. We installed laminate flooring, and in order to have the laminate flooring leveled - we had to place several sheets of underlayment around the drain so that it would "build" the concrete up so that it was level. I then installed the laminate flooring on top. Unfortunately in that area, laminate floor separating has happened as the boards have come apart. I had two questions:

  1. Is it okay that I covered the drain with the laminate flooring?
  2. What's an easy way to reattach laminate flooring that has become disconnected without having to remove the trim and disassemble the laminate flooring and connect it again.

thank you!

Our Answer

The problem you've described is not likely to have been caused by having built up the basement floor and covered the drain.  It more likely the result of exceeding the laminate floor manufactures specifications for moisture levels in that space.  

The solution is two-fold. First, its critical you take steps to reduce basement moisture.  Even without seeing visible water, high humidity can be just a damaging to a laminate floor installation and result in the separating of the boards you describe.  We're talking about things like cleaning gutters, extending downspouts, improving the grade at the foundation perimeter so it  that slopes away from the house and a good quality dehumidifier.

To repair the separated boards, you'll need to replace them with new flooring pieces.  Since most modern laminate flooring is glueless, I'll assume this is what you have. Here are the steps you'll need to repair laminate floor separating boards that are near a wall, as well as those that may be separated in the middle of a room.  

To replace boards that are situated close to walls or moldings, follow these steps:

1. Start by removing the baseboard or molding. Do this carefully so as not to damage the molding.

2. Remove the boards starting from the molding until the damaged board is accessible.

3. Replace the damaged board and then the rest of the boards you removed, by clicking them back in place.

4. Replace the molding.

The process of repairing a laminate floorboard closer to the center of the room is more detailed and time consuming. The process involves removing the damaged board utilizing a saw or router, then replacing the board utilizing a sufficient water resistant adhesive. Contact a professional installer or follow these steps.

1) Mark the damaged board 1-1/2″ from ends and side. Drill 3/16″ holes at corners of marked area.

2) Cut along lines between the drilled holes and remove the center section. Then cut remaining piece in the center on both sides and remove.

Repair 1

3) Prepare a replacement board by cutting and removing the factory tongue along the long and short end of the board. The figure below represents the two common types of locking systems available.

Repair 2
4) Apply a resinous (PVA) adhesive to the cut edges and replace the board by aligning the groove on the replacement board with the tongue of the abutting board, and snap back into place.

5) Make sure all edges are even on either side of the joints. Utilize a heavy object to apply pressure for at least 24 hours. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed across the new piece.

Prevention is better than cure.  So be sure to keep the basement space as dry as possible to prevent a reoccurrence.