In This Episode…
Whether you’re creating a kid’s room for a new arrival or updating a space for kids who insist they’re not little anymore, working on a child’s room can be a fun, creative adventure. Tom and Leslie walk through the key design considerations for this important space. Plus…
- Spring showers and melting snow can leave your yard a soggy mess. We show you how to dry up those wet and soggy yards so you can enjoy them all spring and summer long.
- Basements are one place that get damp and can become hard to finish. But an ingenious new floor product can put some distance between you and the damp – we’ll share that tip.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions including, clothes dryer that don’t dry, cracked door frames, installing split ductless heating and A/C, pros of laminate flooring, water damaged ceilings, cleaning rusty water stains and plaster wall repair.
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 welcome to this episode. If you’ve got a home, we know you’ve got home improvements on your to-do list. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but maybe for the weeks and months ahead. If you’ve got a project you’d like to take on, you are in the right place because we are here for one reason and that’s to help you get the job done as quickly, efficiently and economically as possible. You’ve got to help yourself first, though. Pick up the phone and call us with that question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You can also go to MoneyPit.com and post your questions there.
Coming up on today’s show, whether you are creating a kid’s room for a new arrival or updating a space for kids who insist that they’re just not little anymore, working on a child’s room can be a very fun, creative adventure for both you and your child. So we’re going to have some tips that can help with that project, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, spring showers and melting snow can leave your yard a soggy mess. We’re going to show you how to dry up those yards so that you can enjoy them all spring and summer long.
TOM: And speaking of moisture, basements are one place that get damp and can become really hard to finish. But now there’s an ingenious new floor product that can actually put some distance between you and that damp floor. We’ll share that tip, in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on. It’s almost spring. I’m going with it. Maybe the weather’s going to turn really soon and everybody’s going to get outside and start enjoying themselves. So, what can we do to help you get your money pit ready for a fantastic spring and summer season? We’re standing by, so give us a call.
TOM: I think we can call it “pre-spring.” That’s our new season. We’re in the pre-spring season.
LESLIE: I’m going for it.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Robert in North Carolina is on the line and is dealing with a dryer that – guess what? – just is not drying. That’s the worst. Tell us what’s going on.
ROBERT: Well, I’ve got a dryer; it’s about five or six years old. And here, lately, for about the past six or eight months, it’s taken sometimes three cycles to dry a medium-to-large size load of clothes.
TOM: Oh, that makes no sense.
ROBERT: Yeah. And the heating element was replaced maybe a year-and-a-half, two years ago. We just don’t know what’s going on with it.
TOM: Do you get good airflow when the dryer runs, where it’s pushing warm air out the exhaust duct?
ROBERT: Yeah. I went up to the roof one time when it was running and it was coming out of there fairly decent and the air was warm.
TOM: You just may have uncovered one problem. When you take a dryer vent and you push it up against gravity – and so it’s driving all the way up to the roof from, I presume, the second floor – a dryer is not really designed to do that. And I know that a lot of times, folks install them that way but trying to force that hot air to go up all of that distance to the roof can sometimes be problematic.
Look, if your dryer’s not heating properly, there’s only a few things that could be causing that. One is the heating element. So, let’s presume that this is working correctly, although it certainly seems – sounds like it’s not. There could be multiple heating elements and one could be burned out. This is a reason you feel some warm air.
The next thing is the ductwork and you want to make sure that that’s clean. Not only the external ductwork but even internally. Sometimes, if you get something stuck in the internal ductwork in the dryer, that can block some of the airflow itself.
TOM: And the other thing that can happen is sometimes it can overheat and then cycle. So, if it’s overheating, what’ll happen is it’ll get really hot and then it’ll overheat and the heating element will go off. And then it’ll cool down and then it’ll come on again, it’ll get really hot and it’ll go off. And that kind of cycling of a thermostat can be a problem, as well.
I mean at this point, it sounds to me like you’ve done almost everything that you can do on your own. You might want to either replace it or get it serviced.
How old is the dryer?
ROBERT: Probably no more than six years.
TOM: Yeah, well, you know, six to eight years is not a terribly short period of time for a dryer. So, you might want to think about replacing it or getting a pro to fix it. Because I think it’s probably one of those three things that’s causing the issue.
ROBERT: Yeah. And another thing, it’s got about between 20, 25 feet of – it has the corrugated duct. And we were thinking about changing that to the smooth, stovepipe kind of duct. Would that help, also?
TOM: Where is this 20, 25 feet? You mean from the discharge port all the way up to the attic where it discharges?
TOM: That’s a long way and certainly, a solid metal duct is going to be better. Can you go up into the attic and then go sort of across the attic floor and down towards the soffit and install a vent right there?
ROBERT: It’s possible. It’s just a single-story house, so I’m sure I could do that. But the laundry room is in the middle of the house.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, even if you had that venting perfectly, three – running this thing for three loads to dry one load of clothes sounds like it’s something else and not necessarily totally venting.
ROBERT: OK. Yeah, we were thinking about – just don’t think it’s worth it to call somebody out there to fix it. We’ve got – we found a fairly decent dryer. We know somebody that runs a childcare center and uses the one we’re thinking about getting. And they run it five, six times a day and they’ve had theirs for three years.
TOM: I think that makes sense. Unfortunately, these products today are almost disposable because the cost of repair is so high. I will give you one other suggestion. There’s a website called RepairClinic.com that’s pretty good at helping you identify problems with appliances and then selling you the parts you need to fix it.
So, you may want to take a look at that. They have a little tool there where you can put in your model number and it’ll walk you through the scenarios. And who knows? It might be a common problem with that particular model.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Betty in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BETTY: We live in a ranch-style home and we have several bedrooms and bathrooms where the door frames – up above the door frames on just one side – are cracking. And we have repeatedly had contract workers out here to repair them and it has not held.
TOM: You feel like it’s Groundhog Day? You’re fixing the same thing over and over again?
Yeah, it’s pretty common. Around the door frame and around windows, those are the weakest portions of the wall. So if you have some movement from the normal expansion and contraction, that’s where it’s going to show. Typically, what happens is you’ll have a painter or a handyman come out and they’ll spackle the crack and paint it and it seems to go away for a while. But of course, as soon as the wall moves again, it shows up.
What you really have to do here is sand down the area around the crack.
TOM: And then you have to cover it with a perforated spackle tape. And that usually looks like netting and it’s a little sticky. You put it across the crack and then you spackle over the tape. And that does a permanent repair, because it actually sort of melds one side of the wall with the other and it should not separate again the next time the wall moves.
BETTY: OK. Well, that sounds wonderful. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Barry in North Carolina is on the line and looking for some help with a sunroom. Tell us what you’re working on.
BARRY: Well, we’ve got a 12×15 sunroom and it’s just – it gets cold and it gets hot. It’s double-pane glass, insulated. And it’s about 2 inches thick for the bottom part. But it’s like all metal, all aluminum and it’s just cold and hot. And I just want to know – and it is ducted; there’s an air duct out there.
BARRY: And is there anything I can do to make it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer?
TOM: Well, what’s going on here, Barry, is you are not putting enough cool air or warm air in that space to deal with the heat loss that’s going on. So, I presume now this – what you did is extended your HVAC system into this space? Is that how it’s ducted, when you say it’s ducted?
TOM: Alright. And this is typical. The HVAC system is not sized correctly for that area and for the heat loss in that area and for the heat gain in the summer. This is a perfect scenario, though, for you to add a kind of system called a “mini-split ductless.” A mini-split ductless is basically three pieces: you have an indoor unit that hangs on the wall; you have an outdoor unit that’s a very small, very quiet, very efficient compressor; and you have copper tubing that connects the two.
And you would buy one that’s just big enough for this sunroom and what it would do is supplement the central heat or cold air that’s coming through the duct systems and balance it out. It can have its own thermostat and can supply warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer and make that room totally comfortable. There’s little else that you can do to insulate the structure. It’s just a very cold structure by its very nature, a sunroom. But a mini-split ductless is a good product to install to balance this out.
You might want to take a look at this website: ConstantComfort.com. That’s the website for the Fujitsu Company. I personally have a Fujitsu mini-split ductless in my office because the room, just like you say, it’s too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. And it’s been the perfect addition to my HVAC plan, because it really makes this space comfortable.
BARRY: I’ve seen those units mounted before but usually they’re mounted up high.
BARRY: Can they be mounted down low?
TOM: You know, I believe they can. But the higher the better, especially for the cold air so it falls.
BARRY: But there’s only like 2½ feet of solid piece down below; the rest of it is all window.
TOM: Well, what about the wall against the house where the ducts come through?
BARRY: That’s a point. I hadn’t thought about that.
TOM: Yeah, see, it doesn’t have to be on the exterior wall.
TOM: It can – and in fact, you would want to have it on the interior wall – against the house, where the ducts come through – and mounted up high. And you’ll be amazed at how comfortable that space will be.
That website, again, is ConstantComfort.com. You can check out the Fujitsus there. And they also have an energy-efficiency calculator so you can figure out pretty much how much energy you save.
Problem is that we build these spaces and we add them on to our house. We try to extend the heating and cooling systems …
LESLIE: And it just puts too much pressure on the system.
TOM: Yeah, it’s just not enough.
BARRY: OK. Very good. That answers my question then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Call us, right now, at 888-666-3974. Now, you can call us any time of the day or the night. If you’re hearing the radio show, if you’re hearing our podcast, 888-MONEY-PIT is basically staffed, 24/7, with folks that are there just to help you with your projects by taking that call, taking that question. And then we will try to call you back the next time we are on the air. So, if you’ve got something that you need to get done, we’d love to help.
LESLIE: Dottie in Nebraska is on the line and needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you today?
DOTTIE: I’m replacing – will be replacing a vinyl floor in the kitchen. And I’ve never had a wood floor. I love the look of wood but I’m confused as to whether to go with wood or with laminate, because I want easy care.
LESLIE: OK. And this is strictly for your kitchen or does it …?
DOTTIE: We will be going into the dining room, too, we’ve decided. We’ll be taking up carpet in there to extend into the dining room.
LESLIE: OK. So it’s – is it an open plan or is there a threshold or is there a division between these two spaces?
DOTTIE: There is a counter between the two.
LESLIE: OK. Now, for kitchens, hardwood floors are beautiful but generally, even if they have a commercial type of coating on them, they’re not really meant to stand up to the wear and tear and perhaps the moisture that could occur in a kitchen environment. I think a laminate is probably a better choice for you, just because of the way they are made. And the finishes on top of them make them more easy to clean, easier to deal with any spills that might occur and certainly more durable and of course, can look like anything.
I actually just put a laminate, in a home I redid in California, that was a 6-inch-wide plank that had a hand-scraped finish on it. So it certainly had that warmth and look and a quality of a traditional hardwood that you’re probably looking for. And depending on the quality of laminate, you could get kind of close to a hardwood price but I think you can still keep it in your price range.
LESLIE: But you can find, certainly, beautiful options in the laminate. I think that’s probably the way you want to go for a kitchen.
DOTTIE: OK. And see if you agree with this: I’ve been told that we have oak cabinets that are OK and not to try to match those. Is that right to go lighter or darker?
LESLIE: Absolutely. What color is the oak? Is it sort of natural? Has it been stained a different tone?
DOTTIE: It’s pretty typical, warm oak: kind of a golden – kind of a medium brown.
LESLIE: I like the idea of a darker floor in a kitchen. I feel like it’s more forgiving. I feel like it makes the cabinets sort of jump off and create a more put-together look for a kitchen space. I think with a lighter floor, you’re always going to be trying to clean it and care for it, cover it up.
DOTTIE: OK. And as far – I have a friend who put – I think she said hers is cherry but I love the look. It’s kind of a – the planks are a different shade; they’re not all the same color. Is that something you think that I could find or would that look nice with the oak?
LESLIE: Now when you say different shades, is it strikingly different? Does it look sort of patchwork-y or is it more tonal?
DOTTIE: No. No. More subtle than that.
LESLIE: More subtle. I mean I think it could be a very good look if you’ve got the right look for your kitchen. That tends to be a more – not a hippie-dippie but Bohemian, free-spirited sort of eclectic look that’s very popular right now. So if you’ve got that look going in your lighting fixtures and in your tile work and in your countertops, then it could really tie it all in together.
DOTTIE: OK. And one last question. That floor that I like is laid on the diagonal. Do you do that much and do you recommend that?
LESLIE: Depends on the size of the space. Because if it’s a tighter or a narrow kitchen, it could look very busy. But if you’ve got a good expanse and the kitchen is fairly wide, then it could play very nicely.
DOTTIE: Well, that’s wonderful. That’s what I wanted to know. I thought probably the laminate was better. I want it to look beautiful; I don’t want it to look fake.
TOM: I’ll tell you, Dottie, I have laminate in my kitchen and I’ve had it for about 10 years now.
TOM: It looks like a stone floor and it’s beautiful.
DOTTIE: Wonderful. OK. And no particular brand tips or anything like that? Maybe you can’t do that. I’m really a novice here.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, you might just want to – a good place just to kind of shop for it is LumberLiquidators.com, only because they have good prices and they have a whole bunch of manufacturers there on their website.
TOM: So that might be a good place to start.
DOTTIE: OK. I will do it. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Dottie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, whether you’re creating a kid’s room for a new arrival or you’re updating a space for kids who just are insisting they’re not little anymore – I had one of those. It was a very dramatic request. It involved a lot of tears and frustration but she decided it was time. And I said, “Hey, no problem.” And we made-over the room.
But listen, no matter what state your kids are in – whether they’re ready for a new room or they’re just entering this beautiful life – making over that room is a great opportunity for you to really put in some of the personality that you and your children share. So we’re going to have some tips to help make that project a success.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the first trick really is to go into this project knowing the parameters of what you can spend, the smarts of material selection and how to make that space safe, healthy and adaptable as your junior designer starts to grow.
Now, believe it or not, it’s possible to combine coolness and practicality, safety and organization. All of these things will make a room that both you and your kid are going to love.
Now, next up, you’ve got to think through how many kids are using this space now and how many will be in the near future. Maybe it’s the next two to five years, something like that. What are those kids’ ages? What age landmarks are they going to be hitting in the next few years while they’re in this space? So think maybe baby to preschooler or grade-schooler to tween, tween to teen, all of that. Because you want to sort of make that space, you know, work for both of those age ranges so that you’re not reducing the amount of time that they can actually enjoy the space.
TOM: Yeah. And I think part of that space planning is really thinking through the activities that are going to happen there. Sleeping and homework are the two obvious, although hated necessities, I would say. At least they were in my house. Playing, arts and crafts, sporting-goods storage, those sorts of things all have to be considered, as well as what you feel comfortable allowing in the kids’ zone versus the family zone. So you need to think through these ideas with your kids and maybe even include them in the decisions. That can help make sure the room works well for the entire family.
For more tips, check out our post, “Create a Kid’s Room That Will Grow with Your Child.” That’s on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leroy on the line who’s got a painting question. How can we help you today?
LEROY: Yes, I had some water damage on my ceiling. It has left a stain on the ceiling in the bedroom. I was wondering, what can I do to repair that? I paint over it and it still comes through.
TOM: Yeah, if you don’t prime it first, Leroy, it will come through. So the key is that you have to prime the stain spots. Because the chemical reaction that occurs in the stained area absolutely has a way of pulling right through the topcoat of paint. So if you prime it and then paint over it, you’ll be OK.
Now, I will say this: if you spot-prime it and then flat-paint over it, you may see a slightly different sheen, even though it’s a flat sheen, because the absorption rate is going to be different on the primed versus the non-primed spot. If you really want to do it right, you would prime the entire ceiling and then repaint the entire ceiling and then it would be completely invisible. But if you don’t prime it, you will see the stains pull through.
LEROY: Great. Hey, thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when spring comes around, a combination of snow melt and rain can spell disaster for your basement and landscaping. And that water can no doubt cause a lot of damage if it goes where it shouldn’t.
TOM: Yep. Yard drainage is the topic that most folks only deal with when it causes a big problem, like a flood. But it can definitely impact landscaping and also make the yard just hard to use.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, here’s where you have to start, really. First of all, your number-one defense against water is cleaning out your gutters. Now, those gutters really do a fantastic job of getting the water away from the foundation. So, even if your property is graded correctly, water pouring right against that roofline of the house can and will find its way into the cellar. If it’s possible to, it goes the craziest route and creeps along things and finds its way. I promise you that stuff can happen.
So, you’ve got to make sure that you either have a gutter extension or a splash block at the base of each gutter. This way, when the water comes out, it’s directed away from that foundation.
TOM: Now, once you’ve covered your bases in terms of the gutter runoff, it’s time to take a look at the grading. The grade around your yard should slope away from the house, not towards it. The 10 feet of ground that’s closest to the house should really drop by at least about 6 inches in order to keep that water away from the foundation. That pooling water can definitely suffocate plants and deprive their roots of oxygen. So you have to also make sure that your gardens are draining properly.
LESLIE: Now, that’s going to handle any water that pools around the foundation. But if your yard does get soggy, you might need another solution and that’s something called a “curtain drain.” And I think people get confused about what the functionality of a curtain drain is.
TOM: Yeah, they have a lot of different names: curtain drains and French drains and such. But basically, it’s a trench with a pipe in it that you can’t see.
So, a curtain drain basically is installed at the lowest part of the yard, where the water pools. And the way it’s installed is a trench is dug. It’s usually about 12 inches wide and about 12 inches deep. Typically, you put 2 or 3 inches of stone in it and then a perforated pipe. And then you run that pipe sort of all the way around the house or whichever direction you have to go to get to the low point. Because water is going to collect at that low point, enter the pipe and then discharge out the other end.
So, it’s a lot of work to do it but it does really do a good job of drying out yards that are soggy. And they’re not soggy right up against the house; they’re soggy kind of in the middle of the yard. And this way, you can use that space.
LESLIE: I mean is that really what a dry well is? A space for that water to go to?
TOM: Yeah, it is. And so, that’s a good question. So, sometimes, folks that are trying to keep – they don’t have a place to discharge the water. They’ll essentially dig a hole about the size of a 55-gallon barrel, frankly. And that gets filled with stone and then the discharge pipe – if it’s from your sump pump or from a downspout or an underground drain – will go into that dry well. And what that does is sort of collects the water and then lets it seep more slowly back into the soil beneath, as opposed to just ponding on top.
Think about it. Water that – it’s in a puddle; it’s always going to drain eventually. But if you drop it into the dry well, then it just does that draining, basically, below grade.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine in Arizona who needs some help with a paneling decorating project.
LORRAINE: We have an older home that has two walls that has paneling on. And I was told that if we took the paneling off, it would probably damage the drywall. So I was considering maybe trying to put something over top of the paneling to give it a different look and wanted some suggestions.
LESLIE: Well, it depends. It depends on how it’s attached to whatever is behind it. There may not be any drywall behind it; it might just be the paneling attached directly to the studs, in which case you would have to put drywall up. It could be that the paneling was glued to the drywall. Then you would never get it off without completely destroying the drywall. Or it could be that it was just nailed on. You’re not really going to know until you sort of peer at a corner or an area where you can take off a little bit of trim work and see what exactly is going on before you make a decision. So that’s probably best step number one.
Now, if you find out that there’s really no removing it and your choices are to deal with the paneling and make it look better or cover over it with ¼-inch drywall, you can do that. It depends on how much work you want to do.
Painting paneling certainly is an excellent option. It creates a totally different look when you paint paneling a crisp, glossy white or an off-white or something that really just poses a good, neutral backdrop and just sort of go with it.
LORRAINE: OK. This is very light paneling anyway.
LESLIE: And are you at a point where you just want to see it be darker, different or gone?
LESLIE: Painting it really does look nice. It doesn’t have to be something that, in the end, you’re going to think, “Ooh, that doesn’t look good.” You just have to make sure that you clean it, you prime it well and then you give it a good topcoat.
Now, I would really start by just taking off a piece of trimming and door frame and seeing how it’s attached. And if you want to truly start with just a fresh look, you can absolutely cover over the entire space with ¼-inch drywall without losing too much space. You’re just going to have to sort of bump-out your electrical boxes, your switches, your trim work, et cetera which, for a handy person, isn’t that big of a deal. So it could be a project you could do on your own. Or to hire somebody wouldn’t be that expensive.
LORRAINE: OK. Sounds good.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in Oregon is on the line and is having an issue with some plaster walls at his home. How can we help you?
ROBERT: Well, I was finishing a room in my bedroom and after applying the plaster, some of the plaster was coming off after I painted it. But originally, I did the living room, which was my first job, and I mixed it – a bunch of the plaster – Imperial plaster. And of course, I mixed too much and it got hard, you know? So I learned not to mix so much, because it only – you can only use so much during a certain time before it sets up.
So, anyway, in the next room, I drywalled it, finished it and then I used a product called Plaster-Weld, which is supposed to be a primer for the plaster.
TOM: Right. Plaster-Weld is a bonding agent.
TOM: And you used this on top of drywall? Is that correct?
TOM: Was it new drywall?
ROBERT: Yeah, new drywall.
ROBERT: But I’d primed the walls first and then put the Plaster-Weld over that.
TOM: OK. Hmm. OK.
ROBERT: And then mixed up my plaster – it was Imperial plaster – and applied it and finished it all up and troweled it to the texture I wanted. And then we went back – my wife and I – and touched up a few spots and then let it dry overnight. Then we put a primer on it and while putting the primer on it, some of the plaster was coming off.
TOM: First of all, I would not have primed the drywall. I don’t really see a reason to do that. You prime the drywall to control adhesion and to stop the absorption, I should say, of the new paint – the top coat of paint – and to get an even sheen. But you weren’t really concerned about sheen because you intended to do a plaster coat.
You were basically building what’s called “plaster lath.” This is the way homes were done in the 50s, where you have a drywall base and then you put a plaster coat on top of that. The bonding agent was the right thing to do but that should have gone directly onto the drywall. Now you put the drywall on, then you put a primer over that and then you put the bonding agent on top of that. So now you have to get the bonding agent to stick to the primer and that’s a little more difficult than getting it to stick to the raw drywall.
So I think you’ve got a situation now where you’re going to have this problem potentially repeating itself. So I hate to tell you this but what I might do is put another layer of drywall over this – a real thin layer – and start again. You don’t have to use ½-inch; you can use ¼-inch just to skim it. And then put the plaster over that.
ROBERT: Alright. Thanks.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you have a basement or maybe a split-level where the lower floor is below grade, it might feel like you’re constantly battling a damp space. And one of the reasons it feels that way is that the concrete is always releasing moisture. But when it comes to your floor, there’s an innovative, new product that can help make that space warm and comfortable.
TOM: Yeah. It’s called DRICORE and it’s basically an engineered-subfloor solution. It comes as a 2-foot by 2-foot square tile. And it goes down first before the finished floor. And in doing so, it creates a raised moisture barrier. And it covers that cold, damp concrete and also protects and insulates and sort of cushions your finished floors.
The DRICORE subfloor panels have an air gap technology which protects against moisture. And that can help prevent mold and mildew. And they also insulate against the cold concrete and that’s why the floors are going to feel warmer and softer even to walk on.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. That’s definitely what those DRICORE panels are doing. And as a bonus, they’re easy to install and you can leave them as is or you can put another type of flooring over them, like maybe an engineered hardwood, a laminate, even a vinyl plank. There’s so many flooring choices and you can install almost any of them over the DRICORE.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s not expensive. It runs about $1.56 a square foot and it’s available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards. If you’re going to do a basement floor, you’ve got to put down DRICORE first. Check it out at DRICORE.com – D-R-I-C-O-R-E.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got James on the line. What can we help you with today?
JAMES: Spent a little bit more money this time and I used a Western redcedar for my fence. And I was wondering if you recommend I put some kind of stain on that or just let it run its normal color.
TOM: Well, its normal color is not going to be red; it’s going to be dark gray to black.
LESLIE: It’s like silvery gray, even.
TOM: Even though it’s cedar and naturally insect-resistant, it’s not going to keep that cedar color. The color will fade pretty quickly. So if you want to keep the color, you do have to stain it and I would use a solid-color stain on top of that.
TOM: Solid-color exterior stain. And make sure you get the edges of the boards. Otherwise, it will rot, especially from the bottom on up.
LESLIE: And with cedar, a lot of manufacturers recommend leaving it unfinished for 6 to 12 months but that’s not true with cedar. Cedar you should finish right away; this way, it stays really nice.
JAMES: OK. Should I get a product with a seal in it or a sealer in it or just the color?
TOM: Exterior stains have sealers built into them, James.
TOM: So, that’s going to protect it. Just an exterior siding stain.
JAMES: Great. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: You can head to MoneyPit.com and post your home improvement question. That’s what Jack did. Jack is in California.
LESLIE: That’s right. Jack writes: “We have a house at our property that is 105 years old. No one’s living there right now but we still have the electricity and plumbing turned on. What would be the best way to put this house in a vacant or storage mode to minimize the damage while it sits empty?”
TOM: Very good question, Jack. And a lot of folks think that you can pretty much moth-ball a home in its entirety. But if you do that – if you turn everything off, especially if you turn the heat off completely – you’re going to find that the home will do some very weird things. The walls will get damp, they can grow mold. Wallpaper can fall off. Carpets can, you know, get mold in them. You can actually get more allergens that will form. The doors can swell, the walls will crack. So you never want to do that.
What you want to do is this. First of all, yes, of course, turn off the water, drain all of the pipes. If you have water that remains in the toilet bowls or in the traps, you can just take some antifreeze – just regular car antifreeze is fine – and pour a little bit in every location. And this way, that water will never freeze and break the fixture.
You, of course, want to make sure that the home is completely secure. But most importantly, set the heat at a reasonable temperature like, perhaps, around 60 degrees. I would not let it go much colder than that. Because if you do, all that weird stuff is going to happen.
And finally, remember that you don’t want it to look totally vacant, because you could get some crime, some breaking-and-entering into that house. So invest in one of the many types of smart outlets or smart lighting switches that have random patterns now where lights can come on and off. And it makes it appear like, perhaps, there’s a little bit of activity in their house.
But follow those steps and I think you will be good to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jessica in New Jersey who writes: “I’m restoring the wood floors throughout my home and most of the floor looks great. But one large stain, in particular, seems to go quite deep so I just can’t sand it out. Is there something I can treat this wood with? Or maybe a dark stain will make that stain less noticeable.”
TOM: Well, let’s see. I mean I’m not quite sure how you know that it’s that deep. If you were to sand it out, you may have to sand significantly but it would probably get to the bottom of the stain at some point. Then you’d have to refinish, probably, the whole floor.
The idea of restaining on top of that or maybe trying to darken the areas around it, a little risky because it’s never going to take exactly as you expect it. So I think if it was my house and I really had nice hardwood floors, I would not want to make them all dark, because I think that’s going to take away from it. I would probably have them all resanded.
Now, you can hire out at least this part of the job to a professional refinishing company and have them at least do the sanding if you want to do the finish yourself. The sanding is key, though, because it involves some very specialized equipment that although you can rent, I don’t recommend it. Because it’s the kind of thing that you need to have some skill and some practice and some experience with. Otherwise, you could absolutely, totally ruin those floors.
LESLIE: They really have a mind of their own if you can’t control them. Those sanders can go.
TOM: Yeah. They’re basically 12-inch belt sanders with really big motors. And if you don’t hold it just right, it can really take you for a ride. And if you just – if you cough or sneeze and you twist the thing a little bit, it’ll dig right into that floor and you will never get that little ding out.
So, not a DIY project sanding a floor. But I’ll tell you what, if that doesn’t work and you’re not ready for all that, there’s always the area rug. Just cover it up.
LESLIE: It’s a good tip.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and we are so glad that you took a small part of your day to do just that. We hope we’ve been able to give you some great ideas, some tips, some inspiration to maybe – to avoid some perspiration when it comes time to take on your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project.
Once again, you can reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT any time of the day or night. We will take your information and call you back the next time we are in the studio.
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 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)
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