- Staining a wood deck is a popular summer project. We share how to get that project done in a weekend, plus we review new high efficiency airless paint sprayers that can cut project time by as much as a third.
- Summer marks the riskiest time of year for pool drownings, the leading cause of death to young children! We share a pool safety approach called layers of protection, the best way to backup parental supervision and keep kids safe.
- Now that the AC season is in full swing, have you thought about changing your air filter? If you have a forced air system, that filter plays an important role in keeping your cooling system operational. We’ll explain why and highlight a new type of filter that can keep your system clean for a full year.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Pam from Missouri wants to install an automatic sensor onto her dimmer light.
- Dan wants to know how to deflect heat from his tin roof.
- Heather in Texas needs help getting rid of black mold in her bathroom.
- Max called in asking, what the best joist size for composite decking?
- Lorraine from Vermont has an ant invasion in her home.
- Brandon in California is having water hammer issues with his shower.
- Pat from Iowa wants to know the best way to paint aluminum siding.
- Bob in Tennessee wants to know if cell service is impacted by a metal roof.
- Mary from Wisconsin wants to know an alternative to rubber back carpeting for her basement.
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 so glad you’re here with us. Hope it’s a beautiful weekend in your part of the country, that you’re maybe celebrating Father’s Day with dear, old Dad, maybe helping him do some projects around the house. Or maybe you’re just using this weekend to take on some projects around your house. Whatever it is – his house, your house – we are here to help you get those projects done.
Help yourself first, though, by reaching out to us. Couple of ways to do just that. The best way is to click on the microphone button on MoneyPit.com. That blue microphone button will show up on every single page. And record your message, record your question and then send it to us through the site. Or you could call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, summer marks the riskiest time of year for pool drownings, which is actually the leading cause of death to young children. We’re going to share a pool safety approach, called Layers of Protection, which is actually the best way to back up parental supervision and keep those kiddies safe.
LESLIE: And now that it’s air-conditioning season – and it’s really been hot, so I’m sure your A/C is working hard – have you thought about changing your air filter? Well, if you have a forced-air system, that filter plays an important role in keeping your cooling system operational. We’re going to explain why and highlight a new type of filter that can keep your system clean for a year.
TOM: And the summer is filled with long weekends that let us get bigger projects done around the house. And the three-day July 4th weekend is not too far ahead. And that’s why now is a good time to stain your deck: a projects that’s gotten a lot easier thanks to a new line of high-efficiency airless paint sprayers, that are now out from Wagner, that could cut project time by as much as a third. We’re going to share the step-by-step tips for a freshly-stained deck, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to help you create your best home ever. So help yourself first by reaching out with your home improvement question, your home improvement dreams, your ideal home improvement gift for your dad. Whatever is going on, we are here to lend a hand. So post your question, email or give us a call 24/7.
TOM: Click on the blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com, record your question and shoot it to us. We’ll get back to you on the next show.
So let’s get to it. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line and has a question about installing a dimmer, a great do-it-yourself project.
How can we help you, Pam?
PAM: I have a room that has fluorescent lighting in it and there’s two entries into that room. So there’s a light switch on each door, so it’s a two-way switch. Can I put a sensor on that so that when you walk in and walk out, the lights come on and go off?
TOM: Are you asking me if you can? Can you put a sensor on that?
TOM: Is your concern that you want the lights to come on automatically or is your concern that you don’t want people to leave the lights on when no one is in the room?
TOM: Well, I guess you could use an occupancy-sensor switch there but you would need to set it in vacancy mode, not occupancy mode. See, in occupancy mode, the light comes on when there’s motion. So, if you had a three-way, what could happen is you walk in the room, the switch closest to you picks up your motion, turns the lights on. You continue halfway through the room until the one on the other side picks it up and turns the lights off, so that wouldn’t work too well.
A better option might be to just replace one side of it – just one of the switches – with an occupancy sensor but set it in what’s called the “vacancy mode.” So what that means is you manually turn the light switch on but if there’s no motion in the room, it will automatically go off.
So we use these, for example, in the bedrooms upstairs at our house because kids turn lights on but as we all know, kids don’t turn the lights off. So, if you set it in the vacancy mode, they can turn the lights on but then they’ll go off, depending on the period of monitoring you set. They’ll either go off 1, 5, 15 or 30 minutes later.
PAM: Oh, OK. Alright. That would work. Thank you.
TOM: Hope that helps you out. And thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DAN: I have a screen porch on the back of my house. It has a tin roof and it gets extremely hot in the summer. So hot that it just radiates heat down. I was wondering, is there something I can put on that tin roof to deflect the heat that comes from the sun?
TOM: Yeah, I bet that metal roof gets super hot. What you can do, Dan, is you can apply a radiant barrier. It’s like a paint. And there’s different types: there’s aluminum-colored radiant barrier, there’s white. There’s a product called SUNSHIELD that you find at Home Depot that’s a radiant barrier. And it’s often used, not only on porches – it’s even used on RVs. So, this can be applied right to the top of the roof and it will help reflect some of the UV radiation back off the roof so it won’t all absorb.
And that ought to make you a bit more comfortable under that roof in the summer. When the sun’s full bore like that, it’ll help to bounce some of that heat back off again.
LESLIE: Heather in Texas is dealing with a mold situation.
Tell us what’s going on.
HEATHER: Well, I have black spots in my restroom and I’m not sure if that’s mold. And I would like to know: how can he fix it?
TOM: Without seeing it, I can’t tell you but if they’re black spots, it probably is mold. And where are these spots? Is it on the wall, shower curtain, tile? Where? A ceiling?
HEATHER: In the wall.
TOM: On the wall? Do you have wallpaper on the wall?
TOM: What you might want to do is mix up a bleach-and-water solution, about 10- to 15-percent bleach and the rest water. Spray it on those spots, let it sit for a bit of time and then wipe it down with fresh water. So if there is mold there, that will kill it.
The reason we usually get mold in bathrooms is because they’re wet and damp all the time. A couple of things that you can do there is – do you have a bath exhaust fan in this room?
TOM: Well, you should have one. And this is one of the reasons you should have one, because it will draw air out of that room when it gets damp, especially if you hook it up to a humidistat so it’s only running when there’s moisture in the room. If you don’t have that, then the only thing that you could do is just get into the practice of wiping down walls or using a squeegee to wipe most of the water off the bath, the shower walls, that sort of thing every single time and leaving the door open. But if you don’t have a bath exhaust fan, you’re always going to be fighting this.
When you do repaint next time, make sure you use a paint that has a mildicide built into it because that can also further reduce the chance of developing mold. OK, Heather?
HEATHER: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Well, we’re all spending a bunch of time outside right now but if you’ve noticed that your porch or your patio needs an update, we are giving away a great product that can help. It’s from Daich Coatings and it’s called the SpreadStone Decorative Concrete Resurfacing Kit.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, this kit is a premixed, factory-tinted, stone-coating system that locks onto your concrete and it’s going to produce a surface that’s both attractive and durable.
And it’s super easy to apply yourself. You don’t have to be an artist. You just roll on the coatings for a beautiful, new stone surface. And it comes in five great colors, so whatever your landscaping or your home style is, you’re going to find a Daich Coating for the SpreadStone that’s going to work.
TOM: It retails for 150 bucks and it can cover 100 square feet of space. Check it out at DaichCoatings.com – D-a-i-c-h – Coatings.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Max who needs some help with a deck project.
What’s going on? Tell us about it.
MAX: Yeah. So I was looking at putting on a Trex deck. And I was checking to see if the floor joists should be 16 on center, 12 on center or 24 on center. What is the best for putting Trex on top?
TOM: That’s a great question, Max. What I have found is that with composite decking, you need a tighter spacing on joists than you would if it was a wood decking. Composite decking, for all of its amazing qualities, is more flexible than its wood counterpart. So I would think – and I’m sure that you can go onto Trex.com. They have a specification for every product. They’ll tell you exactly what they recommend. But I would suspect it’s going to be 16 inches, if not 12. Most likely, it’ll be 16 inches on center.
So, if you’re doing what I call a “deck-over project,” where you’re taking off the old decking and putting on a new one, you may have to add some additional floor joists in between. But you’re better off doing it that way because, otherwise, what’ll happen is if you get that deck – that new deck – on and you’re sort of standing back and looking at it from the side, you might see that it’s kind of wavy in between the floor joists. And that’s just not a good look after all that work and expense.
Tighter spacing of the floor joists is required but all in all, it is a really great choice.
LESLIE: Well, if you have kids and you have a pool, you know that pool safety is a big job. While nothing can be a substitute for keeping a close eye on your kids while they’re using the pool – and even just being around the pool – there is one very thing that you can do to back up parental supervision.
Now, this is an approach called Layers of Protection. And it’s essentially just that: multiple ways to keep kids away from the pool when no one is watching. And that includes fences, pool covers, alarms, a whole host of things.
TOM: Yeah. So let’s start by talking about fences. Because when they’re properly designed and installed, pool fences are definitely the most effective deterrent against drowning. But you’ve got to know that a pool fence is actually a lot different than another type of fence, like a yard fence.
They have to be four-sided, they have to be completely surrounding the pool and at least 4 feet tall.
And this is really important: they have to be non-climbable. For example, you can’t use a standard chain-link fence because the squares between the wire are big enough for a kid’s foot to get a toe-hold in. Instead, you need a special type of chain-link with smaller openings.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to your fence, that weakest link in all of that pool fencing is the gate. The gate’s got to be self-closing and self-latching so that they slam shut if you leave them open. And moreover, those gate latches should be mounted at least 54 inches off the ground and have childproof release mechanisms. You don’t want a kid able to reach that opening and just let themselves in. I mean it’s always kind of cute when you see the kid struggling to reach but it’s that way for a purpose.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, another thing you should think about are alarms. There are pool alarms, door alarms and fence alarms. And the high-tech advances in these really make them a must for every home with a pool.
Now, let’s talk first about the door alarm. It’s a battery-powered alarm. It’s installed on the exterior doors that lead to a pool. So if you have a yard where, say, three sides of the pool are covered by a fence and the fourth side is covered by the back wall of the house, this is absolutely critical.
And the way the alarms work is they have a reset button that’s, again, mounted high enough that the kids can’t reach it. But if you don’t hit that button when you open and close the door, you’re going to get an alarm within 7 seconds. And it’s going to stay on until it’s disabled by a taller adult. It’s also effective in preventing an adult from leaving a door open which, of course, does happen. Because if the door is left open for more than 10 seconds, it’s just going to alarm again. So, it’s definitely a good deterrent to open doors when that backside of your house forms sort of one of the protective walls of the pool.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, there’s also fence alarms and these work just like the door alarm. But they’re designed to be used on fence gates for an added layer of protection.
Now, a pool alarm, these are designed to detect the splash that occurs if a child falls in a pool. A CPSC study looking at three types of pool alarms found that the best performers were underwater alarms, compared to the less-reliable options of floating pool alarms or wrist-band alarms worn by the kids themselves.
Now, when purchasing a pool alarm, you always want to buy the type that includes a remote receiver alarm so that you can monitor the pool if you’re inside the house, even if you’ve got the door closed or the air conditioning on. Because even if you don’t mean for that child to be out there on their own, they can find their way out there and you need to be notified if you’re not nearby.
TOM: That’s right. So, even if you have pool alarms and fence alarms and door alarms and proper fencing and gates, there’s no substitute for parental supervision. But all these things just serve the purpose of backing you up in cases of momentary loss of concentration and perhaps avoid a tragedy.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine from Vermont on the line who’s got some ants invading her money pit.
How can we help you today?
LORRAINE: I have them out in my flower beds. I have them on my front and back lawn. There’s a lot of sand here around my house.
LORRAINE: And I am wondering what I could do to get rid of them.
TOM: Are they getting into the house, as well?
LORRAINE: No, they are not in the house.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s good news.
So, look, there are ways that you can work with this using sort of over-the-counter products. But I would recommend a different direction. The insecticides today have become so sophisticated and so accurate and so able to target, specifically, the insect that you’re dealing with that it’s really worthwhile having a professional apply these insecticides. One in particular that, actually, we just used at my mom’s house – well, not we; I mean I hired somebody to do this – it’s called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. And I’m very familiar with this insecticide because it’s one that is part of a class called an “undetectable.”
So, the way it works is – in the old days, we’d spray insecticides that would repel the ants or kill them on sight. And they would sort of know it was there, so it was detectable. Well, these new insecticides are undetectable. So, as a result, the ants go through the insecticide and then they get it on their bodies and they bring it back to the nest. And then they share it with the other insects in the nest. So just getting some ants to go through it basically takes it back to the nest and wipes out the whole nest. So it’s a very effective way to try to control the ant populations around your house.
I don’t know that I would go so far as to do it in my whole yard unless it was really bothering me. But generally, you do this right around your – the perimeter of your home to try to minimize them in that area and stop them from potentially going in the house. You haven’t seen them yet but if you’ve got that many, I can almost guarantee that they’re in the house.
Alright, Lorraine. Does that help you out?
LORRAINE: That does. I actually tried – someone had told me to use Borax and sugar?
TOM: Yeah, that’s one of the home remedies that I mentioned. And Borax does work but it’s just not nearly as effective as a product like Termidor.
Good luck with the project.
LORRAINE: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Brandon in California has been taking some cold showers. Well, not intentionally, anyway.
How can we help you with that?
BRANDON: My old water valve, when I – it just happens just to the cold water. If I turn on the hot water, it doesn’t have the problem. But when I turn on the cold, it does this knocking or like a bang in the wall and the pressure is reduced significantly. And it just will – it’ll come out really low pressure unless I really turn it on. And then the pressure comes back but I don’t know what – I don’t know if that’s called “knocking” or “hammer-knocking” or something like that but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s called “water hammer.”
BRANDON: Water hammer. Is that what that is?
BRANDON: OK. It’s not like a continual knocking, though.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, when you open up the faucet and all the water kind of runs forward towards it, that has a lot of force with it and that will bang the pipe sometimes. And if the pipe – especially if it’s not attached well to the floor joist or whatever it happens to go through, makes that banging sound. That’s why we call it “water hammer.” It can be lessened or completely repaired with some plumbing work. But it may or may not be worth it, because it doesn’t really damage the pipe; it’s really just more of an annoyance.
Now, in terms of the pressure issue – so the water comes on fast and then trickles out after that? Is that what’s going on?
BRANDON: Well, it comes out normal but then it just seems like someone’s in the wall kinking the line. And it’s just coming out – like it comes out still; it’s not like trickling out, like drips.
TOM: Is it one faucet in the shower? What about the sink that’s right next to it?
BRANDON: No, there’s the three. One on the left is the hot, the center transitions it from the bathtub to the showerhead and the one on the right is the cold water.
TOM: What about your sink? Does it do the same thing at the sink?
BRANDON: No, it’s just in the shower.
TOM: So, what I would do is I would install a pressure-balance valve in the shower. The pressure-balance valve, essentially – and it’s not going to address the water hammering but what it’ll do is it’ll keep the pressure even between hot and cold – keep the mix even between hot and cold so that you don’t get any sort of shell shock when you step in the shower and somebody runs a fixture somewhere else and it changes the temperature.
LESLIE: Yeah. So no more pranksters flushing the toilet and getting a super-scalding shower.
TOM: And the fact this is only happening at the shower means it’s a problem with the valves; it’s not a problem with the plumbing lines. Otherwise, it would be happening at the sink, as well.
BRANDON: OK. That kind of makes sense. Because sometimes it’s just – sometimes it’s hard to balance when we’re in the shower. It’s like, “Oh, man, this is just scalding hot.”
BRANDON: And we’ve really got to crank up that cold to get it kind of balanced out right.
TOM: Yep. That’s what you need: a pressure-balance valve.
BRANDON: Alright. Perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brandon. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Right now, guys, you can enter the LL Flooring Floof Proof Pet Sweepstakes on MoneyPit.com to win a $1,000 gift card from LL Flooring and a brand-new $400 vacuum to pick up all of that pet hair. If you’ve got a floofy pet, that means they’ve got a lot of a hair, they’re super fluffy and really stinking cute. And we want to see them.
So go ahead, post your pet’s picture on Instagram with the #LLFloofProof. That’s #LLFloofProof. Or you can enter at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes, send us a picture of your pup or your kitty, your adorable little floofy pet and we will pick somebody to win this amazing prize. And if you enter through MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes, you’ll also find some ways to earn bonus entries. So good luck, guys.
Pat in Iowa is on the line with a question about painting.
What can we do for you today?
PAT: Yes. I would like to paint my aluminum siding on my home. I can’t afford to side it right now and I was wondering if it’s possible to paint aluminum siding.
TOM: Absolutely. There’s no reason you can’t paint aluminum siding. What you want to do is clean the house really well, power-wash it perhaps. And then you’re going to have to prime that siding. That’s really important.
LESLIE: Otherwise, nothing is going to stick.
TOM: Exactly. So you need to do a primer coat.
PAT: OK. Well, what kind of primer?
TOM: Well, you’re going to use a primer that’s designed to work with the paint that you select.
So, for example, if you’re going to work with the Benjamin Moore family of paints, you’re going to use a Benjamin Moore primer.
TOM: And the primer is the glue; it’s the adhesive coat. That’s what makes the paint stick. And then you put the topcoat on top of that.
PAT: Now, will this peel on the south side where the sun hits?
TOM: No, not if you do a good job on the prep. You know, that’s why we’re telling you to prime it. And because the siding is metal, that paint job should last you a good 8 to 10 years. It lasts less if it’s an organic material, like wood siding. But with metal siding, it can last a long time if it’s done well.
PAT: Oh, good. That’s a good thing to know. OK. I wasn’t sure I could even do it. I thought maybe it would just peel right off.
Now, the power wash, is that with – I’d have to hire somebody to probably do that.
TOM: Yeah, unless you happen to have your own pressure washer, yeah, you’d have to hire somebody to do that. And they’ll use a detergent and clean off any dirt and debris and algae and so on that’s on the metal. Then you let it dry really, really well. Then you prime, then you paint.
It’s a big project, Pat. If you’re not comfortable with 10-foot and 20-foot ladders, depending on how high your house is, you might want to hire a painter to do this.
PAT: No, I’d probably hire someone else to do it but do you think it’d be real expensive? Or would I be better off to find a good vinyl-siding man to put …?
TOM: Well, I think that you don’t have to side the house. You don’t have to put siding. You can paint this house and paint it successfully and I think it will be less expensive than siding.
PAT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Pat. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that the A/C season is in full swing, have you thought about changing your air filter? “Air filter? I’m supposed to do that?” Yes, you’re supposed to change those air filters. I swear, I have to set an alarm because it’s the first chore that I forget all the time.
TOM: I think people remember it in the winter because they don’t want the house to be dusty. And maybe in the spring. But when it comes to summer, it just goes to back of mind.
LESLIE: It really does. It’s so bizarre. So I definitely have to set an alarm. I need to do it on the regular; otherwise, I totally forget. Because if you have a forced-air system, that filter plays an important role in keeping that cooling system operational.
Now, central A/C systems pass air through something called the “evaporator coil.” If that filter is dirty, that coil can become clogged. And when that happens, the compressor may be under so much strain and stress that it’s going to break. And that can leave you with a repair bill that averages between $5,000 and $7,500 across the country. That’s a huge repair bill.
But we often think that changing these filters in the winter. A lot of us do it; we want to make sure the house looks clean. We forget in the summer. We just totally don’t think about it. I don’t know why. Maybe we’re not in the house, so we forget. But this is one reason we’re happy to tell you about Castle Filters. They are super, super special.
TOM: Yeah. They make a very unique filter. It’s unique because it holds 10 times more dust than traditional pleated filters. And it lasts for a full year because it doesn’t obstruct the airflow. It’s really smart the way it’s built. It uses a new, proprietary filtering-media technology that actually performs better than pleated filters.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s really amazing. Now, the cost of the Castle Filter is initially higher than the pleated filter but you’re installing just one per year. And with the pleated filters, you need to change them about 5 to 8 times a year to last that same amount of time that you’re getting with one Castle Filter.
TOM: Castle Filters help you protect home, wallet and the environment. They’re made in the U.S.A. and guaranteed. You’ll get improved air quality all year long and your heating-and-cooling system will be protected from breakdowns that can result in very costly repair bills.
Learn more at CastleFilters.com.
LESLIE: Well, we are all spending a lot of time outside right now. But if your concrete porch or patio is in need of an update, we’ve got a great prize to give away this hour that can definitely help.
TOM: That’s right. We’ve got the SpreadStone Decorative Concrete Resurfacing Kit from our friends at Daich Coatings. Now, this is a premixed, factory-tinted, stone-coating system that locks onto your concrete and products a surface that is attractive and durable.
Application is super easy. It’s fast and simple and you don’t need to be an artist. You just roll on the coatings for a beautiful, new stone surface. It’s available in five colors. It retails for about 150 bucks and can cover 100 square feet of space.
Check it out at DaichCoatings.com. That’s D-a-i-c-h – Coatings.com.
LESLIE: That’s right. The SpreadStone Decorative Concrete Resurfacing Kit from Daich Coatings is going out to one listener drawn at random.
Bob in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BOB: I have a friend who has a house with a metal roof on it. Their cell service is pretty severely impacted every time somebody tries to call him on his cell phone when he’s inside his house.
TOM: First off, your cell is probably always – very frequently, I should say – inside buildings that have metal roofs. Think about it: your church, your post office, your bank, restaurants. There’s a lot of metal roofs out there. And if he’s having a problem just in his own house, I would suspect that the signal is weak to begin with. And I think the solution is a little device called a “cell-phone booster.”
A booster can be basically plugged into the house – inside of the house – and it can double or triple the range of the phone. So if I was having that issue, I would just get a cell-phone booster, install it in my house – it’s not a very expensive piece of equipment – and solve my problem once and for all.
BOB: OK. Interesting. Well, I just wondered about that.
LESLIE: Well, the long Fourth of July weekend is going to be here soon and it’s a great time to take on a big painting project, like perhaps staining a deck. But as challenging as that size job sounds, it’s actually much easier to accomplish thanks to the new, high-efficiency Wagner Control Pro Airless Sprayers. Now, these sprayers are perfect for DIYers who are just learning about airless spraying. And they’re a great choice for staining a deck.
TOM: Now, the first step is to power-wash and clean your deck boards before staining. This is going to help strip away dirt or moss or algae. Now, if you find any rough spots or chipping paint or stain, you need to sand those areas beforehand.
Wagner actually makes a very handy tool with a great name, by the way, Leslie. It’s called the PaintEATER. And it definitely helps. It strips paint pretty easily without damaging the wood that’s underneath. And that’s key.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start the staining process. It’s a good idea to stain the railings first, then the deck boards and gradually work your way to the stairs. Working from the top down is preferred because you’re not going to step in any wet stain. Now, the goal here is complete coverage but keep in mind that if a deck hasn’t been stained in the last few years, some areas might need more stain than others.
Now, generally speaking, it’s always better to apply the stain in multiple, thinner layers than all at one time. Because that way, you’re going to end up with drips and it’s going to dry unevenly. So, slow and steady. Thin layers and lots of them.
TOM: Now, the Control Pro High-Efficiency Airless Sprayers are a great tool to use for staining a deck. Spraying gives you a smooth, professional finish. And I love that it helps you get into all those little nooks and crannies, like around the railings and between the deck boards and the railings. Just be sure to choose the right tip for the material you’re spraying.
There are a number of models to choose from. I have been using the Control Pro 170 because it can pull paint or stain from either a 1-gallon or a 5-gallon bucket, so I don’t have to stop and reload paint.
Now, once you’re done, it’s smart to give the deck a few days to thoroughly dry before you load it back up with furniture, especially if you live in a damp location.
LESLIE: Now, the Wagner Control Pro Paint Sprayer makes it easier to paint like a pro. You can find the Control Pro 170 available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
TOM: And you can see the complete line of Wagner products at WagnerSprayTech.com.
LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?
TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.
So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”
Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.
MARY: I really like the carpet down there.
LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.
TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. Things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.
MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?
TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.
MARY: OK, thank you.
LESLIE: Hey, guys, right now you can enter the LL Flooring Floof Proof Pet Sweepstakes on MoneyPit.com or you can win a $1,000 gift card from LL Flooring and a brand-new $400 vacuum to help pick up all that fluffy pet hair.
TOM: Just post your pet’s picture on Instagram with the #LLFloofProof. That’s #LLFloofProof. Or you can enter it on MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes, where you’ll also find ways to earn bonus entries.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re jumping into some questions here and Linda wants to know: “What kind of engineer should I be contacting about foundation problems? I mean this could be a big problem or it could be superficial, so where do you start?”
TOM: Yeah. Well, if you’ve got a significant crack – and by the way, Linda, all foundations have minor cracks. But if you’ve got a crack that is really starting to open up, you’re going to want to try to locate a structural engineer or a civil engineer. Not just a contractor that says they do basement repairs, because most contractors are not engineers and it’s really important you have a professional look at this.
And here’s why. Because any contractor can try to throw a fix at this. But when it comes time to sell your house, you want to make sure that you can prove that that fix was designed by a licensed design professional, otherwise known as an engineer. The engineer will inspect it and write up a report that says exactly what it is and what needs to be done to fix it. And then you can take that report and hire a contractor to follow the engineer’s instructions and get the job done.
And if you’re really smart, you’ll have the engineer come back and check the contractor’s work and then do another report that says, “Yup, it was all done right.” This way, when you go to sell your house, you’re sort of protecting the value and the integrity of the building by being able to prove that the engineer reviewed it and ultimately certified that the crack was repaired correctly.
LESLIE: I think that’s so great. You’re sort of creating this pedigree for your home that’s good for you while you’re living there. But coming down the road, when it’s time to sell, you’ve got all of this information that you can pass onto that buyer. And immediately, it makes you a more trustworthy seller, so it’s a win-win for everybody.
TOM: Well, did you know that one of the most used light fixtures in your home is actually located outside? Leslie explains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, porches are making a comeback in building design and actually provide an opportunity to lower electricity costs, as well. Now, according to ENERGY STAR, the outdoor porch light is one of your home’s most used fixtures. And that’s why it makes sense to switch to a porch light that is ENERGY STAR-rated.
Now, ENERGY STAR-certified fixtures use 70- to 90-percent less energy and come in a variety of styles and finishes, so there’s something for every style. And a lot of them will include features such as a motion sensor or automatic daylight-shutoff switch. Besides their impact on a porch light, replacing your home’s five most frequently-used light fixtures – or at least the bulbs in them – with ENERGY STAR models can save you $40 per year on energy costs. That’s some big savings right there, you guys.
TOM: Absolutely. Plus, with these more modern fixtures, a lot of them use LED bulbs. You won’t find that you’re replacing bulbs very often. Because one of the things about porch lights, that we’ve learned over the years, is that whenever you have a light out there, it tends to go off a lot, it tends to burn out a lot – those bulbs – because of the vibration of you opening and closing the door. That’s what does it. It gives you a really short life expectancy on those bulbs. So, by using the ENERGY STAR fixtures, especially the ones with built-in LEDs, that’s no longer going to be an issue.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And if you think the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set the mower as low as possible so you don’t have to mow as often – if that’s your strategy, you’re going to be surprised to find out that it can actually end up being a lot more work in the long run. We’re going to share some time-saving tips to keep your lawn in the best shape possible, 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.
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