In this episode…
Kitchen countertops are often the most heavily used work surfaces in the home. But did you know that with a few changes, you can make those surfaces work harder for you instead of the other way around? Tom & Leslie share THREE ways to improve countertops to make them easier to use, including how to build a concrete countertop. Plus…
- A new survey by Lending Tree show single women are far outpacing men in homeownership. We’ll share those surprising stats and explore the reasons behind the trend.
- Turning your master bedroom into a luxurious master suite is generally a great way to add value and style. But a common bedroom remodeling mistake can make the effort worthless! We’ll walk you through what to do to spike up both the luxury and the value just ahead.
- Phone booths have become a thing of the past but a new type of phone booth has emerged that has major companies, malls and rec spaces giving this a 2nd look. We’ll share the cool new designs you’ll start to see popping up.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, eliminating basement mold, temporary fix for leaky windows, insulating a garage door, shifting foundations, space heater efficiency, engineered wood flooring in a 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 what are you planning for this weekend, for this week, for this day? If you’d like to get a home improvement or décor project done, you’re in the right place because we’re here to help you do just that. Need help solving a problem? You need help picking some colors? Need help fixing the squeaky floor, a leaky faucet? Whatever is on your home repair, home décor, home improvement, home remodeling to-do list are all great questions for us, which you can pose by going to MoneyPit.com or calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7. We take your calls at 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about kitchen countertops. You know, that is really the most heavily used work surface in the home. But did you know that with a few changes, you can actually make those surfaces work harder for you instead of the other way around? We’re going to share three ways to improve those countertops, to make them a lot easier on you and your back and your eyesight.
LESLIE: And according to a new survey by Lending Tree, single women are far outpacing men in home ownership. We’re going to share the surprising stats and explore the reasons behind the trend, in just a bit.
TOM: And turning your master bedroom into a luxurious master suite is generally a great way to add value and style. But one common remodeling mistake can make the effort worthless. We’re going to walk you through what you need to do to spike up the luxury and the value.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on, what you’re dreaming of, what you’re thinking of starting or maybe what you need help finishing. Whatever it is, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answers, plus we’ve got a very fun set of tools to give away.
TOM: Yep. From Arrow, we’ve got the T50 Electric Staple Gun and the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun, along with a supply of staples and glue sticks, all the stuff you need to take on lots of projects around your house. That package is worth 95 bucks. Going to one caller drawn at random at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, listen, whenever we have a giveaway on the show, here’s how it works. You can call us, 24/7. And if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are or you can post your question by going to MoneyPit.com. And we’ll draw from that entire pool to give away that prize at random.
So, if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. Let’s have a question. Call us, right now, at 888-666-3974 or go to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Judy on the line.
Judy, what’s going on at your money pit?
JUDY: Well, at our money pit – that money pit – we have a problem in our basement. We have mold and so we have people coming to look at it. And they’re supposed to be working on fixing it. But I was wondering if there’s something we can do instead of having to hire somebody to do it. We put a dehumidifier down there. I’ve cleaned it out as best I can. And so, it’s just an old, 98-year-old house that we love and we don’t want it to do that. So, what can we do?
TOM: So, Judy, first of all, what kinds of folks are you talking to? Are these basement waterproofers?
JUDY: They said they specialize in mold removal and they told us that we had to get everything out of the – it’s got seven different rooms in it. And so they said that the two – we had them redo the gutters first and that seems to really have helped. And we have a dehumidifier still down there. And I’ve cleaned it all out, moved everything out of two of the rooms where they did flashlights or something and figured out that – what the – like a light that detects mold in the ceiling and two of the walls. And so they want to do those two rooms for sure, they said. I don’t know what they do but …
TOM: Well, here’s my concern. First of all, there’s a lot of folks out there that claim to be mold detectives. And the reason I asked you about waterproofers – because that’s a side business for those guys. The things that you did do, in terms of improving the gutter system, will definitely have a big improvement. Because the reason it gets damp down there is because water collects at the foundation perimeter. So clean gutters, extended downspouts and soil that slopes away from the outside walls is the best way to dry out that going forward.
Now, the mold that you are seeing, do you physically, personally see mold or are they just telling you that it’s there? And describe to me what you have seen.
JUDY: I’ve only seen – I mean it’s like – is it the – to me, it looks like the cement blocks, the porous stuff in between …
TOM: Uh-huh. The concrete blocks?
JUDY: In between the concrete blocks. That you can see – it’s almost like they’re not really hard. There’s the places where it’s kind of – it looks like it could decay or whatever you want to call it.
TOM: So, OK. So, yeah. So does it look like white or grayish and kind of crusty?
JUDY: Gray and crusty. There you go. Yep.
TOM: Yeah. See, that’s not mold. This is exactly what I was concerned about. That is not mold. What you are seeing is simply mineral deposits.
When those blocks get wet – and they’re very absorbative; they’re very hydroscopic. The water gets drawn into those walls and then it evaporates and it leaves behind its ground salt. And so, all that stuff that you’re seeing has nothing to do with mold. In fact, mold is not going to grow on concrete blocks, because they’re not organic.
So, I think you are definitely being misled. I would suggest that you not work with a mold-remediation contractor. But if you want a good set of independent eyes on that place – from somebody who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt, so to speak – I would hire a home inspector: a home inspector who’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
TOM: Have them look at the place and let them tell you what they see. It may very well be that you don’t have mold and what you need to do is to dry that basement out and maybe even – once it’s all dried out, you can clean out – clean off that mineral deposit. Usually, it’s – a vinegar-and-water solution will make that disappear.
And then maybe you can paint the walls with damp-proofing paint to stop them from holding as much water, letting the water at least evaporate out. That’s not the first thing you do. It’s the last thing you do, because you’re not going to keep the water out that way. But that will be the last step in terms of making that room as dry as possible.
But I think you can hold your money on the mold guys with the special flashlights that detect mold. I’ve never heard of such a thing. That was kind of a giveaway right there.
JUDY: OK, OK. Well, that is some – but because they had some – not just a flashlight but some little gadget that they were looking on the ceiling. And they said – well, they thought on the wood and the – in the ceiling area, too, that there was something. But maybe there’s not.
So you think a home inspector?
TOM: Yep. You want to go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. And you can use their Find an Inspector tool. You get somebody there. And the nice thing about ASHI inspectors is they have a standard of practice and a code of ethics where they cannot be involved in the repair work of anything on a house that they’re inspecting. So you get complete independence of advice, OK?
JUDY: OK. Sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Judy. You’re very welcome.
JUDY: Thank you. Thank you. Bye.
TOM: And if you do call us with your home improvement question or post the question to MoneyPit.com, we have a handy set of tools we’re going to be giving away to one lucky listener. That includes the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun. The Staple Gun is pro-grade and the Glue Gun heats up really fast. So they’re two great tools that’ll be super useful for many things around the house. You can do crafts, you can do repairs. If you want some ideas and inspiration or some projects, go to ArrowFastener.com.
That prize pack is going out to one listener. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randy in Delaware is on the line doing a bathroom project. Tell us how you’re working on it.
RANDY: So, a shower stall – you know, an old shower stall – was removed with an old pan just all cruddy and moldy and just outdated. So, installing a new shower base. It’s not a mud base; it’s preformed epoxy and cement. And then, I was wondering about what type of flashing you might recommend from the framing members, behind the corners and any of these areas. How susceptible are they to these moisture issues where the corners may, with expansion and contraction, may break open or get some kind of moisture penetration? What’s the extent of the flashing system that you put behind cement board?
TOM: OK. So, when you put on tile backer board, you don’t flash like you would if you were putting up shingles and intersection – intersecting – with siding. Essentially, what you do is you put the pan in, you put the backer board on, you overlap the pan and then you put the adhesive on and the tile right on top of that. That’s sort of the normal procedure for doing a tile job. You don’t really flash the board any further than just making sure it overlaps the prefabricated pan.
Is that what I’m hearing? Are you using a prefabricated, say, a fiberglass tile pan?
RANDY: Right. But a lot of – there are a lot of recommendations out there to run a 6-mil plastic sheet behind the backer board so that any penetration that could occur in the future hits this plastic wall. It overlaps the pan and in front of that, the backer board overlaps it. But anything that penetrates the backer board and the tile and all that hits this plastic and eventually makes its way to the pan, never actually getting to the framing members.
TOM: I don’t have a problem with that. But let me put it to you this way: for many years, the way that tile showers were done is they simply put the green board – the water-resistant drywall – right on top of the studs and that was it; there was nothing more than that. So, by putting on a tile board, you’re already making it a lot more durable. And if you want to put a polyethylene sheet behind that, I have no problem with that. Just make sure that the shower pan that you choose goes up enough to create that good overlap at the bottom so you don’t have water that backs up into it.
RANDY: I think that’s it.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, your kitchen counters are among the hardest working surfaces in the house. But with a few changes, you can make those surfaces work harder for you instead of the other way around. We’ve got three ways to improve their counters to make them do just that.
First off, let’s talk about lowering that counter height. The standard height is around 36 inches from the floor. And if you’re designing a new kitchen, you want to think about adding at least one at a lower level of around 28 to 32 inches high. And you want to do this for two reasons. First, if you’re standing, it’s a better height for kneading or chopping veggies but you’ll also have space underneath for a stool so you can sit down for tasks, which is easier as you age or maybe when your parents visit or if the kids want to pitch in.
Now, if you don’t have space for a new countertop or you’re not ready to do that kind of a major project, why not get a pull-out cutting board or a mobile kitchen cart? They are so popular today. There are so many cool designs for them. And that can really become very, very helpful, as well.
LESLIE: Next up, you’ve got to get rid of the clutter.
Now, you don’t have to spend much but you have to be ruthless. Stop storing seldom-used appliances on your countertops and find a new home for everything. I mean it, guys. In your kitchen you’ve probably got things. I know I’m guilty of it. I put the papers that have just come home from school. I kind of tuck them on the side of the toaster. You’ve got to stop that.
Get file folders, get organizational stuff that puts everything in a spot and make it go to that spot, whether it’s a cute, little platter that you put the salt and pepper and the olive oil on or the vegetable oil right next to the stovetop. At least it’s organized, at least you know it’s got a spot and you’ll put it there. And once you get into the habit of doing so, it will just keep everything organized going forward.
TOM: Now, finally, nothing makes a counter easier to use than good lighting. So, for ceiling fixtures, think about replacing the incandescents or those CFL bulbs with LEDs. If you want to put new fixtures in, check out the integrated LEDs. They are super, super bright today.
You also might want to think about installing lights under all your cabinets. Your eyes are going to feel better and your workspace will be all that much safer.
888-666-3974. If you’ve got a kitchen, a bathroom, a living space, an outdoor-living area, a deck question, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Belinda in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BELINDA: I live in this apartment. It’s a senior complex. It was an old school at one time. It’s three stories. It was completely gutted. Everything’s new on the inside. New double-pane windows. But I’m – it’s in the northeast-corner of the building and I’m having an awful lot of problems with drafts and then cold air coming from the walls, underneath the windows. Because it’s brick and stone on the outside and so there’s the air pocket and the inside wall. And so, at night it’s like living inside a refrigerator and try – really, really. And trying to …
TOM: That does not sound very pleasant.
BELINDA: It’s not. It’s not. I lay in bed at night and I don’t sleep. It’s because I’m just listening – and it’s the heat pump, too, that they put in these. And so it’s going all night long; it never shuts off. And so I’m just wondering if they would – or they probably could, if they would. Because the National Historic Association is also in on this, being it’s an old building.
TOM: So you’re essentially wondering, Belinda, what you can do because you’re a tenant, right? So you don’t own the building.
BELINDA: Right, right.
TOM: You can’t replace the windows. So what are your options? So you have a couple of options.
So, first of all, if you wanted to spend some money, you could order interior storm windows. But of course, your – it’d have to be custom-made to fit the windows and they may be pricey. If you want an inexpensive option, there’s two ways to go. One thing is you could use shrink film, which is basically a window film that gets, essentially, double face-taped to the inside trim and then you use a hair dryer to shrink it so it’s taut and clear.
And the other thing that you can use is weather-stripping – caulk weather-stripping. Basically, it’s a temporary caulk product and it’s clear, like a silicone, but it’s not silicone. And you essentially caulk your windows shut with this temporary caulk. And then, in the spring, you can peel it right off. It comes off like in a rubbery strip.
Now, the only thing bad about using the temporary caulk is that you will not be able to open or close the window once it’s done, because it’s pretty much sealed shut. So you don’t want to do this to your bedroom window where you may have to use it to get out in the event of an emergency.
BELINDA: Actually, they pretty much tried all that. See, the problem is the National Historic Association won’t let them do a lot of stuff. And they hadn’t caulked around the cracks, where the frame of the windows meet the window sill and along the walls. So they came up, they did that.
TOM: So let me say that again, Belinda. We’re not talking about caulking outside the window; we’re talking about caulking inside the window. So, basically, right around the sash, where the sash meets the sill, where the sash meets the jamb, those are the areas that you typically would not caulk, you would never caulk. But if you use the temporary weather-stripping caulk, you can caulk right over those seams where all of the air gets in. And then, again, in the spring, you grab a little end of it and you peel it and it comes off in one – usually one – solid piece.
It works quite well. You may have to order it if you don’t find it on your store shelves. I know Red Devil makes one called Seal ‘N Peel. So you could look at – look up that brand.
Belinda, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I was visiting a friend of mine the other day who just bought an old home. And we were talking about how old it was and he really had no idea. And I was standing in his kitchen looking at a super-old sink and I said, “I can tell you exactly when this house was built.” He was like, “How are you going to do that, Tom?”
Well, you know, old sinks and old toilets have dates that are stamped into the base. In the sinks, they’re usually cast right in. So, I looked into that sink cabinet, turned my little iPhone flashlight on and there it was: 1910. Built in 1910. So, he was pretty amazed.
TOM: But a little trick of the trade there if you’re – if you want to fool your friends and amaze your enemies.
LESLIE: It’s always amazing that those fixtures are still in the houses.
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
LESLIE: That’s the part that amazes me the most.
TOM: Yep. It’s classic. Classic.
LESLIE: Yes, you have an old home but yes, that’s the original toilet.
Cody in Texas is on the line with a garage-door question. How can we help you today?
CODY: I’m interested in insulating the garage door. The garage has insulated ceiling, the walls, everything, except for the door. It’s just that thin, metal panel and I wasn’t sure if it’s worth my money to go ahead and buy a door that’s insulated, like from Overhead Door Company, or if it would be just as good to buy the foam panels from Lowe’s or Home Depot and cut them out and try to fit them into each panel themselves.
TOM: Well, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking the inexpensive route first, because those foam panels are pretty cheap. And yes, if you can fit them securely inside those garage – those existing, metal, garage-door panels, you’re probably going to pick up as much insulation as you would if you replaced the whole thing.
An insulated garage door doesn’t, in and of itself – even if it’s brand new is not going to add that much insulation value to it. So, really, all you have is as much foam as you can squeeze in there.
But remember, just as important as the insulating the door panels is to make sure that you have weather-stripping along the edge of the door and that it’s adjusted so that it sits well against the concrete floor and it sits well against the jambs – both the side jamb and the overhead jamb. Because I would think that wind is probably your biggest enemy in trying to keep that garage warm. And it’s good that you’ve got the rest of it insulated and certainly, insulating the panels will help. But garage doors aren’t really known for their comfort, so whatever you do is going to have a limited effect.
CODY: OK, OK. Good deal. So the bid I got was $880. I think I will go with the foam sheets first because that’s – I’ll probably have $80 total in that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And see how that goes.
CODY: OK. Well, I do appreciate it. I always listen to the show and appreciate the advice.
TOM: Well, thank you so much. Good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
CODY: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, the spring home buying season is just weeks away and a new survey by Lending Tree is pointing out an interesting trend. When you look at America’s 50 largest metro areas, single women own more than 1.5 million more homes than single men.
TOM: Yeah. And even though women apparently earn just 80 cents for every dollar men made in 2019 – which, by the way, is just totally wrong – regardless of job …
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s super wrong.
TOM: I don’t mean it’s incorrect. I mean it’s just ridiculous that that is a fact. But regardless of the job type or the seniority, single women own considerably more homes. On average, they own around 22 percent of the homes while single men own less than 13 percent. So, that is pretty crazy.
And they tend to invest in the value in home ownership more than men. They see it as not just a financial investment but also as a place they can call their own. I think it’s the nesting instinct.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? Caregiving responsibilities could also be another reason. According to the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of children live with their single moms while only 4 percent live with the single dads. And even if the single woman doesn’t have children, she’s likely a caregiver in another way: children over 18 who live with her or maybe they’re caring for an older parent. And it just makes sense to own your space. It’s better to invest in something that you’re putting money into than throwing away money for rent. And I think women really understand that.
TOM: They are smart about stuff like that. And I bet you if we could figure it out, I bet you more women get home inspections on those houses than men. Because men think they know it all but you don’t.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Lauren from Nebraska on the line. What can we do for you today?
LAUREN: I live in an area where it’s all – a lot of clay in the soil. And we have a basement underneath of our house. And the walls have moved in a little bit from the pressure of the earth. And I notice in the summertime, when it’s very dry, the earth pulls away from the house. And sometimes, it’s an almost 2-inch gap of air space that – and I’m just wondering, should a guy put something in there when that pulls away or should he just leave it alone?
TOM: I don’t like to see those big gaps in there. I would be of the mind to tell you to backfill it and add additional soil and tamp it down so that you don’t have those big gaps.
LAUREN: So that wouldn’t add more pressure when it gets – the soil gets earth – or the earth gets wet and it pushes back in?
TOM: No. Because I think it’s going to expand equally in all directions. If it’s not pressing on the walls, as it is now, I don’t think it’s going to do that later.
LAUREN: OK. Well, you’ve answered my question. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Lauren. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, have we got a handy set of tools going out to one listener who calls in their home improvement question or even posts it to MoneyPit.com.
We’ve got, up for grabs, the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer plus the Arrow Dual-Temp Glue Gun, along with a supply of staples and glue sticks, worth 95 bucks. Both super-fantastic tools that you will find a ton of uses for, from crafts to home repairs. If you need some ideas – because, truly, you’re going to get them and find a million ways to use them right off the bat. But if you want some creativity help, check out ArrowFastener.com. There’s dozens of projects, plans right there on their website.
So don’t be afraid. Give us a call. Get your chance to win and get started making some great projects.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Wisconsin has a question about heating. How can we help you stay toasty?
CHERYL: I have a large area downstairs. It’s about one-third – it’s 11×36 feet and about one-third of that we use for a dining and kitchen area, mainly when we have company.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.
CHERYL: And I’m not looking to heat that whole area, just the area where we eat. And I was wondering if one of those oscillating space heaters would be a good idea. One of the taller ones?
TOM: Well, look, here’s the thing. I think your question is about efficiency and most space heaters are not very efficient. They’re only efficient if you’re going to do what you’re doing, which is – that is to isolate the heat to just one very narrow space of the house. But this is a big area. If it’s 30-something feet long, it might be hard to do that. It’s different if it’s like one individual bedroom or something of that nature.
But I will say that, generally speaking, they’re more expensive to run than your heating system on a BTU basis: in other words, comparing the cost to create a BTU in your main heating system versus the space heater.
What kind of heat do you have? What kind of fuel do you use?
CHERYL: Natural gas.
TOM: Yeah. Natural gas is always going to be less expensive than electric space heaters. But if you’ve got an area that’s a little bit chilly and you want to just supplement it on a limited basis, like just when you’re using that room for company or dining, I think it’s OK. But there’s just not very much that – there’s not very much that’s efficient about the use of a space heater.
CHERYL: Yeah. I was just thinking right close to the table in the area where we eat.
TOM: Yeah. But only in those limited circumstances, when you’re using that area, do you want to use the space heater. Then you’ll keep the heat down the rest of the time?
CHERYL: Actually, our basement is so cold. When we have company, we really crank up the heat and the basement is still really cold. You know, we live in Wisconsin.
TOM: Yeah. So even when the heat’s up, it’s chilly.
TOM: So, if you’re just using it on a temporary basis to supplement it only when you’re down there eating, then I think it’s probably OK. But I think your original question: is it efficient? No, it’s just not.
CHERYL: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Cheryl. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking for a great gift or a way to spice things up, a master-bedroom renovation does that and more. Now, turning your master bedroom into a luxurious master suite is generally a great way to add value and maybe even a little romance. But one common remodeling mistake can ruin both, because if you make it your spouse is going to be so mad, that there’s going to be no more action happening for a long time.
TOM: Yeah. And that mistake is knocking down the walls of an adjacent bedroom to combine it into the new master suite, which can actually impact the value of your home negatively, since home value is largely based on the number of rooms and especially the number of bedrooms. If you take that wall out and eliminate a bedroom, it is very unlikely you’re going to get that value back.
But whether you’re adding a space or not, using that space well is really the key to a lush master bedroom. So think about how you’re going to use that space or how you’d like to use the bedroom. And then plan from there.
LESLIE: Yeah. And think about those cozy, little spots that you want to create and how you’re going to use that space well, like a reading nook. Maybe you want to bring in a personal gym. Perhaps you want to put in a beautiful fireplace. Those are all very popular upgrades.
And some couples even swear that adding his-and-her closets is just the boost their marriage needed. Drapes, window dressings, those also add ambience like never before, as can updated lighting and dimmers.
I swear to you a beautiful light fixture in your bedroom will change everything. The ability to adjust that lighting, depending on whether you’re getting dressed or whether you are trying to get ready for an evening out or if you’re just waking up and you need just a little bit of light, it’s really wonderful to have all those options. So, think about adding a really spectacular lighting fixture and then give yourself the world by adding a dimmer.
TOM: I like to keep the lighting low in the morning. It’s less frightening, especially when I look in the mirror.
LESLIE: I mean I wake up at 3:00. And all I have is light on and it is terrifying.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, we’d love to hear about your next home improvement project.
Hey, are you thinking about buying a house when the spring market heats up once again? We can maybe talk you through what kinds of repairs, what kinds of improvements you might want to make to your house, based on the age of homes you’re looking at. But whatever is on your to-do list – that and others – call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jack in Nebraska is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?
JACK: I want to put a new floor in my basement. And I – somebody has told me that some of these new engineered-wood products, like the snap-together floors, they said that some of those are OK for a basement application. Now, is there any truth to that?
TOM: It’s absolutely true. Now, just keep in mind that when it comes to wood flooring, there is prefinished wood flooring, which is solid, and that’s not rated for a basement. And then there is prefinished wood flooring, which is engineered.
Now, engineered flooring is essentially made up of many layers of wood. It’s a bit like plywood in that you have different layers glued together at opposing angles. Except with the engineered-wood flooring, the top layer is hardwood and it looks just like solid hardwood. In fact, once it’s down, you really can’t tell the difference. And because it’s made up of different layers that are glued together at opposing angles, it’s dimensionally stable and it can be exposed to moisture or humidity, like you have in the basement, without swelling and cracking and splitting.
And so, yes, engineered-wood flooring is a perfect choice for a basement. And if you want another option, you could look at laminate floor, also modular in the sense that it locks together. And laminate flooring comes in many, many, many different types of sizes and shapes and colors. In fact, I saw some reclaimed lumber-looking laminate floor recently at a big trade show that was just spectacular. It really looked like the original wood floor.
So, lots of options there for basement flooring. Just don’t go with solid.
JACK: OK. Well, you answered my question. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Post your question, just like Ronnie from New Jersey did. Now, Ronnie writes: “The fan on my bathroom light fixture isn’t working. This is a 20-year-old unit that has three components, with each having its own switch: light, fan and heat light, which has a timer that doesn’t work. What’s the simplest way to get things working again?”
TOM: Tear out the old unit and get a new one.
LESLIE: I’m like, “I haven’t seen one like that probably since the 80s.”
TOM: I know. I think he’s underestimating the age at 20. That sounds like a really old unit.
I’ll tell you what, Ronnie, there are so many amazing improvements in bath ventilation. There are fans now, first of all, that have built-in humidistats so they come on automatically whenever the moisture is in the room. And that means you’re going to have no clouding up of the bathroom mirrors. It also means that it’s going to dry out the room quickly when you’re done, because you’ll leave the fan on and the switch will turn off automatically. And this means you’re going to have less mold buildup.
And the coolest thing is that now, they have got ultraviolet lights. So, basically, they kind of wash the walls with ultraviolet light and that kills germs. So, lots of reasons to pick up a new bath-fan light. Not so sure about the heat-light part of it but the rest of the stuff is definitely worth having.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? Every time I think back to that heat-light thing that we had in our bathroom growing up in the early 80s, which I think is the last time I’ve seen this, is it had that weird red light and it sort of felt like you were at a fast-food restaurant. Like, “I’m a French fry. I’m staying warm for you.”
So weird. Get a new one, Ronnie.
TOM: Well, phone booths have become a thing of the past. But a new type of phone booth has emerged that has major companies and shopping malls and rec spaces giving it a second look. Leslie explains, in this edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? The company is called ROOM and it’s really a fantastic idea, because they make soundproof booths that can easily be added to any office environment or a shopping mall or a recreational space. Basically, any sort of open space where you have a large gathering of people, you can have a moment of privacy. And the best part is that these rooms – or ROOM – are beautifully designed and they’re super functional.
And I mean I know this is always a problem at our offices over at ABC. You know, we’re in big production spaces. A lot of people have to take phone calls with celebrity guests or guests they’re producing or just even something with your kids. And there’s never a place to go to that’s quiet. So, something like this is a great solution for these open-plan office spaces that are so much more common today than they used to be.
Now, the best part about ROOM is that they feature sound insulation. They’ve got 1.6 inches of sound insulation made from recycled materials that will tune out the noise. There’s a built-in desk and a magnetic board, so you’ve got a lot of space if you’re taking a conference call or working on ideas with a client.
They’re ventilated with two ultra-quiet fans that’ll keep you cool. And if you start to get in an argument, it’s going to really help you stay cool. Power outlets. Two outlets so you’ve got everything charged up for your work session. They’re soundproof. They’re designed by leading acoustic experts so private conversations can stay private. And they’re flexible. This adaptive design makes it so that the booth is kind of easy to move around the office or right into the next one.
And they’re also sustainable. The soundproofing materials are made out of recycled plastic bottles, which means no more for the environment. And best of all, you don’t have to worry about having the right amount of change to get that private moment of conversation. You just bring your own phone in there and go for it.
TOM: There you go. You can check them out at ROOM.com.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, hey, we’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of something when poof, the lights go out. It always happens at the worst possible time. We’re going to talk about circuit breakers: why they trip, how you reset them and what you need to do to figure out why it happened, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. All on the 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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