- Find out how to step up your outdoor living space with step-by-step tips on how to can build your very own fire pit.
- Has your patio seen better days? We share easy and exciting ways to breathe new life into those crusty concrete patios.
- Small spaces can make your home feel cramped, but with the right floor, the space can instantly feel bigger. Find out the best hardwood floor patterns to open up a room.
- Want to step up the deck around your swimming pool? We share stain that stand up to wet environments.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- What is the best way to replace an asphalt driveway?
- How to repair contracting siding?
- How to repair water pressure caused by a shared well?
- Are wall cracks a serious problem?
- Easy fix sticky sliding doors
- How to keep Squirrels from taking over the bird feeder
- Best way to insulate a garage for a year-round workspace.
- How to stop basement floor leaks for good.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on the projects you’d like to do to create your best home over. So, as you look around your space, whether it’s inside or out, give us a call with your questions. Whether it’s a project you’d like to do yourself or one you want to hire a pro, one that you’d love to do yourself if you only knew where to start or something in between, we would love to give you a hand. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you’re welcome to post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, one of the things that we have loved for many years in our family is our fire pit because we’ve actually – we’re a little crazy for fire pits.
We’ve used them all year long, Leslie.
LESLIE: I mean that’s what they’re there for: to keep you cozy.
TOM: Yeah. Go out there and have the fire going, enjoy a glass of wine. And shockingly, that’s exactly what we do in the summer, too.
But whether you like to enjoy it for a glass of wine or just to do some s’mores, it’s a good time of year to build one. And you can do it yourself. You really can if you just follow a few basic rules of safety. We’re going to walk you through that project, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And speaking of outdoor projects, if you’ve got a concrete patio that’s perfectly functional but the dreary look drags you down, well, you can give that space a facelift. We’re going to share some easy options for updating your patio.
TOM: And if you’re looking for flooring for a small room, we are going to share a simple trick of the trade that can make small rooms look much, much bigger. It is simple, it is effective and you will be amazed at the results.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. Most importantly, guys, what are you working on? How can we lend a hand? It’s June. We’re almost in summer. You’ve got your toe dipping into summer, so help us help you. Give us a call, let us know what you’re working on and we’ll lend you a hand.
TOM: Couple of ways to get in touch. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, leave your question. We will call you back the next time we’re in the studio. Or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Geri in North Carolina needs some help with driveway repair. What is going on?
GERI: Well, I lived in the home I’m currently in for 23 years. And it had just a little pebble driveway when I moved in. About 20 years ago, I had an asphalt driveway put in. And over the years, I’ve done some of the maintenance stuff you’re supposed to have done, like slurry-seal things.
GERI: But probably I let too much time elapse between that a couple of times. And now, I’ve been told by a professional that it’s probably not fixable but I’ll get another few years out of it. But I’ll have to replace it with something. So, my question is: what’s the best, most cost-effective but attractive thing to put in place of an asphalt driveway?
TOM: Right. So, the reason that you want to replace the asphalt driveway, is it cracked?
GERI: It’s got lots of tiny cracks but they’re going to get bigger. And it’s probably going to start crumbling apart in the next few years.
TOM: OK. Is it sunken in in any places or is it just the surface wear and tear and the cracking?
GERI: It’s not sunken in, no.
TOM: Alright. Well, look, if it’s not sunken in, that means they must have done a really good job when they put it down in the first place, because you have no displacement of the driveway base itself.
TOM: And if you were to tear that up and start from scratch, it’s going to be a pretty expensive project.
TOM: The least expensive way to do this would be to add another layer of asphalt on top of it. Now, I’m not talking about just sealing the driveway but actually putting a thin layer over what you have right now.
TOM: And that’s going to look like a new driveway. And because the base is solid and it’s not moving – you know, sometimes we get these calls and it’s sunken, it’s twisted, it’s broken, it’s – because it all settled out. But if it’s relatively solid and all you’re talking about is just the degradation of the surface, another layer of asphalt on top of that might be the hot ticket. It’ll be the least expensive way to go and you’ll have what looks like a brand-new driveway in an afternoon, essentially.
GERI: Well, that sounds awesome because I was thinking I would have to be the one to tear it apart and get rid of it first and then have somebody else come out.
TOM: Yeah. No, we can think of other projects for you to do that same weekend if you like. But this one you don’t have to do.
GERI: OK. Alright. Well, that’s great. I will look into having that quoted and …
TOM: Alright. Good. And remember, when you talk to these contractors, a lot of them will try to talk you into a bigger project than you need. But if it’s structurally sound, I think that’s really all you do need to do.
GERI: OK. Alright. Well, thanks so much.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Noel is joining us with a question about siding.
What’s going on, Noel?
NOEL: When we built our home, we finished the exterior with the Masonite. It’s a horizontal lap siding.
NOEL: Wherever the strips are adjoined, the expansion and contraction is pretty severe. In fact, I have a couple areas where it expands or – I guess it would be contracting at that time. I don’t know. But it has a really big gap. And I can even see into the Tyvek?
TOM: Ah, yeah. It’s pulled complete, yeah.
NOEL: Is there something I could do? Is there some sort of a filler that I could put in there to keep that from happening?
TOM: Well, first of all, I’m sorry to hear that you have a hardboard siding. When I was a home inspector and I would come across the house that would have that material, I used to tell my client, “It’ll be fine as long as you paint it every day before you go to work,” because it’s really not a very durable siding product.
TOM: So, what I’ve – what typically happens is it gets nailed on – almost over-nailed where if that exterior surface of the hardboard is pierced, you’ll find that water will swell up in there and it’ll start – get very weak and worn. So, you do need to keep it watertight. That’s really important.
Now, with these gaps, look, I think you probably could use a silicone caulk in a place like that that would have good expansion and contraction capabilities to try to seal it.
NOEL: I tried that. In fact, I went to the Depot and I said, “What’s your best exterior caulking?” And it still would pull apart and separate.
TOM: How many pieces are we talking about? How many of these gaps are we seeing?
NOEL: It’s west-facing and so the Arizona sun beats really hard on that side. Probably there’s four or five areas where the gaps are just very noticeable.
TOM: Alright. So, here’s an idea and this is – I will put this under the category of a hack. In other words, I just came up with this so it may be great, it may not be.
TOM: But I’m thinking that if you were to put something over that gap, that could expand and contract with the siding, then that might solve it. So, what I’m thinking is if you were to take a piece of flashing – say, aluminum flashing – and you were to sort of cut it to be a little bit deeper than the siding so that, in effect, what it would do is you would slide it up under the siding piece above and then over that gap. And I would only nail it on one side so that now you have a piece that can ride with the siding gap opening and closing.
And if you painted the siding when you were done so everything was painted the same color, I don’t think it would be all that noticeable. And it might – it would definitely give you the weather protection you’re looking for. You follow me?
NOEL: I kind of follow you but if I’m going to slide that metal, that flashing under – I slide it underneath the overlap?
TOM: The piece above, right. So you’d probably take a flat bar, slip it up there. You just pry it off just a little bit.
NOEL: What about the nails that are holding it right there?
TOM: You mean with the piece that’s in already? You need to go up there ½-inch. And if you hit a nail, you could just snip the siding right around that if you had to.
NOEL: Oh, I see what you’re saying then. OK.
TOM: Or you could cut the nail. I’ve taken jobs like that. I’ll take a hacksaw and slide it up between the siding and just cut the nail, keeping it flat to the siding so that it’s not in my way anymore. Then I put another one in above it somewhere.
But if you get that up in that place and secure it but – you understand what I’m saying? But only hold it on one side.
TOM: Because if you try to hold it on two sides and it wants to contract, it’s going to buckle. We don’t want that to happen. We want it to ride over that gap so as the siding expands, it’ll pull one way and as it contracts, it pulls the other way.
TOM: You know, it’s similar to what you do with chimney flashing. With chimney flashing, you have flashing and counterflashing. And they’re not connected but one overlaps the other so that the chimney can move separate from the roof. And that’s kind of what I’m suggesting here.
NOEL: Right, OK.
TOM: It’s like a counterflashing that if you paint everything the same color – and you could maybe caulk and lightly nail that piece on, say, one side of it. You could use an adhesive caulk to seal it to the siding and then paint the whole thing. I think it would work well.
NOEL: OK. I’ll try that. That sounds like a good idea.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
NOEL: Thank you, thank you. Bye.
LESLIE: Krista in Vermont is on the line and is dealing with some very low water pressure. Tell us what’s going on.
KRISTA: I bought my house about a year ago and I’m on a shared well with my two other neighbors. And they both have great water pressure but we have really awful water pressure. It takes 3 hours for the washing machine to run. We cannot use our garden hose. And we’ve had some plumbers come take a look and they said that there must be some kind of restriction in the water pipes, since the other neighbors both have really great water pressure.
TOM: This is not well water. You’re on street water?
KRISTA: We’re on well water.
TOM: You’re on well water. And the well serves all the neighbors?
KRISTA: Yeah, it serves the two neighbors that live north of us.
TOM: OK. Well, they’re right that there could be a restriction. The restriction could be a valve that’s partially closed. It may look open but maybe it’s really closed. It could be, if you have old pipes – do you have old pipes there? How old is the house?
KRISTA: Yeah, it’s from ‘54. Yeah, it is copper.
TOM: Old for plumbing is like 20s, 30s, 40s when they had steel pipes.
TOM: So, ‘54 is going to be copper and decent-quality copper.
So here’s what I would do. I would start testing that water pressure at different points. If you can test it close to where it comes into the house, that’d be the first place to check it.
TOM: You may have to put a tap in the pipe to do that, like an extra little valve to do that. But I would start checking it at different points and see if we can kind of narrow down where the restriction is.
TOM: You have to do a little detective work here. You’re going to find, at some point, it’s restricted. It could be the main water valve, if you’ve got one. Sometimes well systems don’t have those.
KRISTA: Right. The valve in our house was just replaced but I don’t know about the valve at our neighbor’s house, where the well head is. And we were also told by one plumber that we could put a water-pressure tank in the house to fix it. And then another plumber told us that wouldn’t work at all.
TOM: That’s not going to work. You need a – you could – there’s a booster that you could put in. But I would start trying to figure out if this is a problem at the point where the water comes into the house, because that’s going to change the discussion. It’s not your plumbing; it’s the well system. And I imagine you have some rights, since you’re sharing a common well here, to get the same pressure as everybody else.
KRISTA: Yeah. OK.
TOM: And that’s going to have to be a discussion you’ll have with the people that are involved, OK?
TOM: But you’ve got to figure out what you’ve got – you don’t know that yet – and that’s the way to do it. Does that make sense?
KRISTA: Alright. Yes. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: Well, I’m a big hiker. And after a long day on the trail, there’s nothing better than relaxing around a campfire. Now, you can have that campfire feeling all year long if you build one in your very own backyard. But don’t just build a campfire; we want you to first build a fire pit. It’s much safer.
LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. You’ve got to contain the campfire if you want to actually enjoy it and not be terrified.
So, it’s not a very difficult project. And the easiest way to get it done is by using precast outdoor building blocks. So, for example, Pavestone has a brand called RumbleStone. You stack and fit them together super quickly, super easily. They look great.
But your first step is to pick an area that’s far enough away from any other buildings on your property. If it’s too close, your siding can overheat and melt or the embers from the fire could actually land on something with your house and then start a fire. So, the location is super important.
Now, once you’ve landed on the best spot, you need to excavate down a few inches, in the shape of the fire pit you’re making, and then tamp and level that base.
TOM: I can’t tell you how many times, in the years I spent as a home inspector, that I would find those melted areas of vinyl siding when either a fire pit or a barbecue grill was just a little bit too close to the house. It’s a very distinctive pattern. It kind of is like an archway the way it sort of swells up in the middle, leaves big gaps below. And it’s just something you totally have to avoid. It’s the distance that radiant heat travels is amazing. So, get it well away from your house.
Now, once you’ve got that location picked out, the next part is definitely the most fun part: stacking the blocks. So, for a round fire pit that’s about, say, 10 inches high and about 45 inches across, you only need two sizes of those RumbleStone blocks we’re talking about: the mini blocks and the trapezoidal-shaped blocks. And you start by creating a stable, level project area. Then all you need to do is to lay out those trapezoidal and mini blocks in a circle. You alternate each one and they could even be secured with construction adhesive, so you don’t need any mortar. It really couldn’t be any easier.
LESLIE: Yeah. And three layers of the RumbleStone is all you’re going to need.
Now, for the second and third levels, you want to offset those blocks from the layer beneath it. Then, just line the bottom with some sand and you’re ready to fire up the s’mores in no time.
TOM: Pavestone offers RumbleStone fire-pit kits with everything you need, starting at just $250. And they’re available at The Home Depot.
For a complete materials list, instructions, how-to videos and more, visit Pavestone.com.
LESLIE: Vincent in Delaware is on the line with a plaster issue. Tell us what’s cracking up at your money pit.
VINCENT: My cousin has a two-story house. It’s all brick. It was built in the 1930s. Upstairs in the bedroom, there’s a crack going from the ceiling to the floor in both outside corners. And there’s a crack going from the corner to the center of the room. And in front of the house, the brick is separate – pulling away from the molding on the floor, about a ¼-inch.
TOM: So, for a house that was built in the 1930s, that kind of cracking is not all that uncommon. Has it always been this way or do you think this is a more recent development?
VINCENT: I think it’s been recent because he just – last time I was talking with him, he showed me the house. He says, “Look, do you have any idea what’s causing these cracks?” To me, it looked like the walls were separating from the building because – especially in the front.
VINCENT: Between the molding and the outside wall, you can get a flashlight, look down there and see the brick.
TOM: Well, I think if you think it’s recent, then you have two options at this point, one of which would be to hire an ASHI-certified professional home inspector. And that’s a guy who’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s really important because those are the guys that are really the pros in the business.
The second option might be to hire a structural engineer, which is going to be more expensive but it’s something you’ll need if it turns out to be a serious problem. Because the structural engineer will actually specify the repair. You can have it corrected and then you can have the engineer certify that it was done correctly.
If you think it’s active, that’s important information and I would have it looked at by a professional. I wouldn’t mess around with a contractor or anybody like that. I would have it looked at by someone who has nothing to gain from giving you repair advice, only diagnostic advice – an expert diagnostic advice – to determine what’s going on here, OK?
VINCENT: Yes. And what was the abbreviation for that home inspector?
TOM: Yeah, ASHI – A-S-H-I. It stands for American Society of Home Inspectors. If you go to ASHI.org, you can put in your zip code and find a list in your area.
VINCENT: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Vince. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, Leslie, you know that I’ve had the battle of the deer going on here at my money pit.
LESLIE: Oh, yes. But I also know that you just planted new shrubs recently. And do you still have them?
TOM: Well, yes and no. So, we tore out the Manhattan Euonymus, which was our hedge, because they were getting absolutely decimated. You know, you didn’t have to worry about what that plant was called because the deer just reminded you that it was breakfast, lunch and dinner. Literally always chomping at it.
So, we replaced those with Green Giant arborvitaes. That was a brilliant move on our part, I have to say, because now I see the deer hoofprints right up against the arborvitae but they don’t eat it. The thing is, you have to look for the one that says Green Giant.
So we’re feeling pretty emboldened and decided, well, let’s try some of the smaller shrubs. So, we did that and we planted yarrow and lavender. Now, those are two strategic choices because the yarrow plant is kind of coarse and rough and the lavender, of course, has a strong odor to it: two things that the deer don’t like. They don’t like the yarrow, they don’t like the lavender.
And sure enough, right after we planted it, we saw hoofprints all over where we were working. In fact, one of them kind of knocked the plant out, because it was just put in a little bit. But they didn’t eat a leaf, not a single part of it, because we chose those plants correctly.
So, rather than do what we used to do, which was to mix up some sort of a deer-proof treatment that we would spray – it always smelled like rotten eggs; it was a lot of work and a big hassle and if you missed a cycle, then they just started again – we just chose those plants carefully and it really came out great.
So, still feeling like we are one up on the deer, at least this year. Although it could change.
LESLIE: Yeah. But what you don’t know, Tom, is they’re sitting at your fire pit having a glass of wine when you’re sleeping.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s OK.
LESLIE: That’s my guess.
TOM: We’ll socialize with them. We love watching them. We just don’t like when they feed on our yard.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?
TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?
TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40 but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.
And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.
TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Tracy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if your concrete patio has seen better days, you know it can really make your outdoor-living space look not so great. And then – I’m going to say it – it’s going to ruin your summer. So, don’t let it ruin your summer, guys. This is a great time and there are a number of ways that you can give that patio a facelift.
TOM: Definitely. Now, first, if the slab is in good shape – and by that we mean it’s not cracked and broken and heaved. But one really cool option is to add wooden deck tiles on top of the slab. They are made of ipe, which is a Brazilian wood that’s very, very hard. So it’s perfect for outdoor …
LESLIE: They’re super pretty, too.
TOM: Very pretty. So great for outdoor use.
Now, they come with sort of a plastic grid system attached to the bottom. This not only holds the panels together but it also raises them up off the concrete. So this way, air gets below and water can flow through. And you’re not going to get any kind of mildew issue underneath. And they also just lock together. So you line them up, snap them in place and you’re good to go.
LESLIE: Well, that’s a great option but here’s another option. You could actually cover the old patio with brick pavers.
Now, Pavestone makes one called Milano and that’s designed specifically for this purpose. They’re half the thickness of a normal brick paver and can be held in place with construction adhesive.
Now, you’re going to assemble those pavers right on top of the patio. And they all fit together so you don’t see the concrete at all anymore. And you don’t have to worry about any movement in the brick pavers because you’ve got that solid piece of concrete right underneath.
TOM: And if you want a really easy option to update that patio, you can simply apply a stone coating to the concrete surface. For example, Daich Coatings makes a terrazzo product that looks pretty awesome. It’s made from real stone and it can be applied directly on top of the old concrete. And you’ll end up with a slab that looks like terrazzo except this one’s outside your house.
So, lots of ways to dress up those patios. And gosh, that’s a really nice weekend project, right? It won’t take too long and you will have the whole summer to enjoy it.
LESLIE: Yeah, those are my favorite projects when immediately when you’re done, you can start enjoying that space. And it really makes that space so much better.
TOM: Immediate gratification.
LESLIE: Nells in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NELLS: I’ve got a problem with flies. We have three heat pumps in the house and it takes in the air at the base of the windows. And every year, we get flies that come up out of those return ducts. There’s electronic filters down there and I can’t imagine where they’re coming from or …
TOM: Well, they may be nesting in the house and they’re birthing themselves right into existence. And the reason they’re probably hanging out around the return ducts is because that’s where air gets drawn into the furnace and they just might be part of that airflow.
I can’t really diagnose exactly what you need to do to get rid of those but I do know somebody that can. And if you go to the Orkin website, our show expert is a guy named Greg Baumann, who I’ve known for many years. He used to be the expert for the National Pest Management Association; now he’s the director of training for Orkin. They have an expert section on their website and if you post that question there and maybe even put a photo of the flies, I’m sure that you’ll be able to get to the bottom of it very quickly.
NELLS: Great. Okie-dokie.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Priscilla in Massachusetts is on the line and while we all love birdhouses, guess who else likes them? Squirrels. Let’s help her keep them out. What can we do for you today?
PRISCILLA: They’ve chewed away at the holes of it so that they actually have made it – the holes bigger. And because of that, the birds are not going in there because the squirrel can go in there. So, I’ve already tried PVC piping, because I figured that’s something I can put in there – insert it just in the hole – and it’s not too big, kind of narrow.
TOM: Most of the solutions for bird feeders or birdhouses are really in two categories. One, they make it rather unpleasant for the squirrel to be able to get up that high, with things like cones or plastic bottles or slippery pipes or ducts or Slinkies or things like that that slide around and make a lot of noise.
PRISCILLA: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Or simply move it completely away from where squirrels can get to it. So, for example, if you were to string a wire between two trees and not have overhanging branches above, the squirrels would never be able to get to that birdhouse.
PRISCILLA: Could I have – do you know of something I can insert in the hole, though?
TOM: Right. But if you insert it in the hole, the squirrels are still going to hang out in that birdhouse and they might try to chew their way in via another area.
TOM: So that’s why I’m saying that I would not focus on reinforcing the birdhouse as much as I would focus on moving it to an area that’s less likely to be attacked by squirrels.
Priscilla, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it used to be that hardwood floors were only available in very narrow widths. Today, however, wide-width, prefinished hardwood floors are available in a 5-, 6-, 7-, even 8-inch-wide planks and they’re more popular than ever, especially because those wide widths can make an even smaller room look super gigantic and really gorgeous.
You know, with fewer plank seams interrupting the pattern, wide-plank floors create a very open feeling. And that will then make your space feel bigger. Now, a wide plank also offers even more space for the beautiful, natural-grain pattern of that hardwood to shine. And I think that’s super important because depending on what type of hardwood you pick, there’s an inherent sort of grain pattern that goes with it. So you really have a lot of options there to create a very beautiful floor that has a lot of movement and a lot of interest in it. And again, those wide planks will make that space feel so much bigger.
TOM: Now, you might want some visual movement but you don’t want physical movement, right? You want to install them securely. But to do that, the National Wood Flooring Association requires that they both be nailed and glued. You can’t just nail this down; you have to nail it and glue it.
Now, Bostik makes an adhesive that works well for wide-plank flooring. It’s called Pro-MSP. And it’s a hardwood adhesive with moisture vapor protection. And I’ve got to tell you, that is super important because it helps eliminate the potential warping of those wide boards. And it also secures them well so you don’t get creaking noises, you don’t get the nails loosening up and you don’t get gaps forming between the planks.
LESLIE: You can find a large selection of wide-plank flooring and the Bostik Pro-MSP Hardwood Adhesive with moisture vapor protection at LL Flooring stores nationwide and online at LLFlooring.com.
Todd in Utah is on the line and is looking for some help in insulating the garage. Tell us about it.
TODD: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a garage that I work out of. And I like to do woodworking and just all around playing around with whatever project I have. But it gets cold here in Utah and I like using my rafters to put boards and extra equipment, pontoon boats, you know, a little bit of everything out there.
But I want to be able to insulate it to save a little bit of the heat so it’s bearable in the winter. And I was hoping that there would be a way to maybe spray the upper inside of that with a spray foam or a spray insulation. Or what do you suggest would be the best, without having to sheetrock and lose all that space?
TOM: Well, you certainly could use spray-foam insulation. In fact, I personally used Icynene insulation in my attic and we did just that: we sprayed in between the rafters with the insulation, then we coated it with a thermal barrier. And with 8 inches of Icynene insulation, we were able to pick up R-30, which is a substantial amount of insulation.
So, you could hire a local dealer to add spray-foam insulation to the underside of those rafters and seal that in nice and warm. And it also will seal drafts, which is the other benefit of spray-foam insulation.
But remember, you’re also going to have to add some heat. Once you keep that area insulated, you’re going to have to add some heat. Just insulating itself is not going to make it warm enough.
TOM: And then I would expect the weakest link in the house would be around the garage.
TOM: So, you’re going to have – at least have to do some significant weather-stripping to try to keep those drafts down.
TODD: That’s exactly what I want to do. I just – I like to use my time and being retired, I don’t want to look out the window during the winter.
TODD: I’d rather be doing something.
TOM: Alright. Well, that sounds like that’s your man cave.
TODD: Yeah, it is for right now.
TODD: Hey, well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Wisconsin says, “There are cracks in the basement floor of my 1994 house with white powder by them. What’s causing this and what can I do to correct it?”
TOM: So, a basement floor, first off, Andrew, is – the structural integrity of the basement floor is not the same as the walls that are holding up your house, right? It’s just a slab, the same as your garage slab, your driveway slab, your sidewalks. And often, if they’re put in in too large of a section without the proper expansion joints or places where the slabs can kind of do their thing, which is move a little bit, you will get cracks. So I wouldn’t worry so much about the cracks.
What you’re seeing, if you have white powder, that is going to be mineral-salt deposits. So you might be thinking, “Well, how do those get on my concrete floor?” Glad you asked that. The way it happens is if you have damp soil around the foundation of your house – maybe your gutters are clogged, maybe your grading is a little bit off so water is collecting at the foundation perimeter – all those sources of moisture will push moisture down underneath the foundation wall and into the area under the slab. And it will draw back up. And as it does in that slab, the slab is very absorbative, it’s very hydroscopic. When it hits the air, it dries out but it leaves behind the mineral salts that were in that soil, in that water. And that’s the white powder that you’re seeing.
And you can prove it to yourself with a little trick. Just take some white vinegar and wipe it down. You’ll see it’ll dissolve and go away and you’ll be back to just seeing the crack.
Now, you could seal the crack, perhaps, with a silicone or other concrete-sealant product. But if your concrete is showing that kind of absorption, what I would suggest you do is use an epoxy-coating mix. It’s a two-part epoxy product. It goes down on the floor. You can add some color chips in there. It’ll seal in nice and look great and you won’t be seeing that white dust anymore.
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that helps you, Andrew. It’s not such a big deal, right?
Alright. Now we’ve got one from Becca who’s asking, “What’s the best type of stain or paint for a wooden deck that’s around a swimming pool?”
TOM: So, Leslie, I’m thinking it really doesn’t matter that it’s around a swimming pool. I mean the best stain is the best stain, right? So you want to use a really good-quality stain here and you want to make sure the wood is properly prepped to take that stain.
So, I would clean the deck first. You can use a pressure washer for that. And once you do that, though, you want to give it a few days and sunny weather to make sure it’s really dry before you apply the stain.
Now, when it comes to applying the stain, you will have choices. You can buy stain that’s transparent, semi-transparent or solid color. Now, forget the transparent. That’s not going to have any color in it and I’m sure you’re not going to like what you see below, because it’ll just get darker. Semi-transparent and solid color, the difference is how much pigment is in there.
And if you buy the solid color, I think that’s the best choice because more pigment means it’s going to last a long time. But it doesn’t look like paint; it doesn’t have kind of a sheen. You still see the grain through it but you definitely get durability. And I would use a good brand. And by that, I mean a Benjamin Moore, a Sherwin-Williams, that sort of thing. Because it’s so worth paying a little bit more for that stain, because you know it’s going to last. You won’t be doing this again for several years.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think that’s the key. Since it’s such a big project, you want to do it once and make it last for a long time. So definitely listen to Tom. Get a good-quality stain and pick out a fun color. Why not? Have some fun with the pool.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much, guys, for taking this part of this almost-officially summer day to spend a little time with us. We hope that we have given you some tips and ideas to spur on some projects that you’re planning on taking on. If you’ve got some questions, maybe you’ve got some suggestions for something you’d like to hear us cover, please reach out to us, 24/7. You can always call it in at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions, your comments to MoneyPit.com.
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 2021 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.)