In this episode….
Renting your first apartment is a big step that’s both exciting and terrifying all at the same time! Tom & Leslie share expert tips on what to look for before signing a lease to make sure you get all your security deposits back. Plus..
- If you love gardening and landscaping, you might not think there’s much new to know about one of the most common landscaping tools – the shovel. Well, all shovels are not created equal, we’ll explain how they’re made and how to spot a good shovel from a piece of junk.
- If your concrete sidewalks, steps or patio are showing signs of cracks – now would be a great time to get those sealed up while the weather is warm. We’ll have tips on how to what products really stick meaning you won’t have to make the repair again and again, and which won’t – just ahead.
- When it comes to choosing materials for home improvements, building materials that need little to ZERO maintenance is definitely the preferred way to go! We share tips for products that virtually take care of themselves.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, about eliminating mold from decks, kitchen cabinets, determining if a bearing wall is holding up your design plans, broken seals on windows, which type of paint is best for which project
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 make your home your best home ever, to help you improve your happy place, your happy space. Whether it’s inside or out, we are here to give you a hand to serve as your guidance, your advisors, your coaches, because we know you can do it and with us you don’t have to do it alone. So, give us a call, right now, with those questions. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, are you getting ready to rent your first apartment? Well, congrats. And by the way, it’s a big step. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, it’s probably all at the same time. But one of the scariest parts of that process is what happens early on and that is signing that very first lease. So we’re going to tell you what to look for to make sure you are protected.
LESLIE: And if you love gardening and landscaping, you might not think that there’s much new to know about one of the most common landscaping tools: the shovel. Well, all shovels are not created equal. We’re going to explain how they’re made and how to spot a good one from a piece of junk.
TOM: And if you’ve noticed that your concrete sidewalks or steps or patios are showing signs of cracks, now would be a very good time to get those sealed up while the weather is nice and warm. We’re going to have tips on how to repair them, what products to use, what products really stick, meaning you won’t have to make the repair again and again and again. That’s what we call a “Groundhog Day repair,” right? It just never stays around and you have to keep repeating it?
TOM: Well, we’ll tell you what you need to know, in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, we really want to hear from you. What are you guys working on? What are your reno plans for the summer season? How can we help turn your money pit into the money pit of your dreams? Because, you know, it’s a good term. I love my money pit. Everybody loves their money pit. You’re just doing the work to make it the best you can be and we’re here to help. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Rena in Massachusetts is on the line who’s doing some painting projects. How can we help?
RENA: Hi. Well, I just bought a new house. And well, it’s new to me but it’s about – I don’t know – 60 years old? Sixty-two?
TOM: Well, that’s a new house because my house is twice as old as that. So, I have a high standard for new versus old.
RENA: OK. Well, that makes me feel better. Basically, I took down all – there was the same vinyl wallpaper throughout the house.
RENA: It’s only a thousand square feet.
RENA: Yeah, yeah, it was quite a nice floor.
So I took it down and you can imagine – well, there was never – the walls were never painted. And there was – the walls are in fairly good condition. So, spending so much time scrubbing it, getting the glue off and all of that.
RENA: Well, I had a family member help me. And he went ahead and painted the ceiling with – we found out there was latex paint on it. So we got a bare ceiling paint and he went around the perimeter of the ceiling and just went in and painted all around in the two bedrooms.
TOM: Is the paint on the wall or is the paint on the ceilings?
RENA: On both. Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t very clear about that.
TOM: OK. OK.
RENA: So just what he did – because then, of course, he rolled the middle part …
TOM: That’s what we call “cutting in.” So you cut in with a brush and then you roll the bigger sections, right? OK.
RENA: Yes. So he did cut in but he also cut over onto the wall. And I was told that the walls should be primed with oil prime to seal it and do two coats. And then, of course, I could do latex over that. But I was getting confused because I thought, “Oh, what about that top 2 inches now?” Is that going to be a problem going oil over the latex?
TOM: OK. Alright. First of all, congratulations on getting the entire house stripped of vinyl wallpaper. I know that that was probably a really massive job. Now that you’ve done that – and aside from this question about this room or two that’s already had the ceiling painted – what I would recommend is that you do use a primer. I would use a KILZ or similar.
RENA: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: And I would use – they have a latex-based and an oil-based. I would use the oil-based or what’s called “solvent-based,” because it just does a better job of covering up an historic surface like that. We don’t know what that’s been exposed to over the years. And whatever it is, it’s just going to seal it in and it’s going to stick really, really well. And then, once that dries, you can use latex on top of that which, of course, is a lot easier on the cleanup.
Given that it’s an older house, you want to pay careful attention to the sheen or the shine of the paint that you choose. Because the shinier the paint, the more defects you’ll see in the walls. So if you use anything that has any kind of sheen to it, like a semi-gloss, that would be a big mistake because you’ll see all kinds of imperfections that you didn’t know were there. So I would definitely use a flat paint or at the most, maybe in the bathroom, I might use an eggshell, which has just got a tiny bit of sheen to it. And I would use the best-quality paint that you can find, so Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. Good, top-quality brands like that.
And I think that if you prime them, you’ll also find that the paint will go on easier, it will go on smoother, it will seek a nice, even level. But if you try to just paint straight over those old walls without priming first, it’s not going to be nearly as nice. You’ll probably use a lot more paint, as well.
Now, to what you originally called about, which was whether you can go on top of that sort of small section of wall that was cut in, yeah, I don’t see an issue with that. And if the ceiling is OK, it’s already done and seems like it’s holding up, then I would not repaint it. It’s just that you’re better off going forward to prime everything first. So, I would mask off the ceiling and then I would prime from the top corner all the way down. And then once that’s all done and set and dry, then you can put whatever topcoat you want over that, OK?
RENA: OK. Thank you, Tom, so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with the project. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Brian in Illinois is tackling a perfect summer project: working on a deck. What’s going on?
BRIAN: We have a Trex deck that I installed 25 years ago.
BRIAN: And it’s on the north side of the house. I used all stainless-steel fasteners. It is as perfect as the day it was put in. I have one problem, though.
BRIAN: It likes to grow mold and mildew because it’s on the north side of the house.
BRIAN: Is there something that I can do after I clean Trex, in order to kind of prevent that from coming back?
TOM: There’s two things that you can do. First of all, the number-one enemy of mold, moss, mildew and algae is sunlight. So, if there’s anything that you can do, in terms of trim trees or let more sunlight get into that space – I know that that may be virtually impossible; I don’t know what your lot looks like. But that is a permanent fix. I can guarantee that.
Now, if you’re looking for some recommendations on products that can keep it somewhat cleaner, there’s a couple of ways you can go. There are a series of products that are very slow-acting but effective and you apply them, usually, every month or two. And essentially, what they do is when the mold and the mildew starts to grow, it kills it. And when it gets killed, the rainfall then washes it off the surface and it kind of naturally keeps clean. So I’m talking about products like Spray & Forget, for example.
The other way to go is with a deck cleaner. One that I’ve been using for a long time is JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. It’s made by the Zinsser Company. And it’s a product that you mix along with some bleach and it’s a very effective way of cleaning the deck.
But if you get more light there, you’re going to have less mold and moss and all of that stuff growing. If you want something that you can put on and just – and you don’t mind the fact that it works slowly or maybe you clean it once thoroughly and then you apply this a month later to kind of keep it from growing, then you can go with a Spray & Forget or a Wet & Forget. But if you want to get it done, you know, one day, even quicker, a couple of hours with a stiff broom and a good solution, then you can use the JOMAX. Those are your options right there, Brian.
TOM: And I’m glad to hear that the deck is standing up because I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing that really goes wrong with it. Twenty-five years. I remember when they first built a seaside boardwalk near me. That boardwalk is at least that old and it’s been taking all of the punishment from the Atlantic Ocean for those years. The stuff really stands up.
BRIAN: It does. It was one of the best investments we’ve ever made in our home.
Thank you so much. I appreciate your solution.
TOM: You got it. Take care now.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Caroline in Pennsylvania on the line who’s doing some organizing and finding a stubborn cabinet odor. What’s going on?
CAROLINE: Well, yes. What we have is a cabinet in our kitchen. It is underneath our countertop – we have a granite countertop – and it’s our lazy Susan. It’s the cabinet in the corner.
CAROLINE: And about a year-and-a-half ago we had – we moved temporarily out of state for my husband’s job. And apparently I might have, right before leaving, cleaned a dish and put it in that cabinet and maybe, I’m assuming, it wasn’t completely dry all the way.
CAROLINE: And then, when we returned from our three months away, lo and behold, every time we’d come into the kitchen, my husband said, “There’s some kind of a smell here.”
CAROLINE: And then we ended up opening this cabinet and lo and behold, there was a little green, just haze on – and it was mold inside the cabinet.
TOM: Right, OK.
CAROLINE: We were like, “Ahhh!” And so I had my head in that cabinet for at least three days cleaning it with bleach, water and the whole nine yards. So, there’s no more mold in it but there’s still this sort of lingering kind of a musty smell.
TOM: And when you close that cabinet up, if you have some humidity it’s going to react and you’ll get that kind of musty odor. Plus, I’m sure you were hypersensitive to it, as well, right now having gone through that entire process.
One of the things, one of the areas that you might want to check is the kickboard. So, that’s the area underneath the cabinet. And I’ll tell you a way that you can do that. If you take a mirror like you might have in a makeup compact, hold it on top of the floor with the mirror facing up and then use a flashlight aimed at that mirror. You will see the underside of the kickboard without having to like put your face on the floor.
LESLIE: Oh, I feel like it’s going to be gross under there.
TOM: Yeah. Sometimes, you will get some of that mold or that moss which will actually grow on the underside of the kickboard. And you’ll never see it unless you’re looking for it. And that could be the entire source of the odor that you’re smelling right now.
It’s very – it’s actually fairly common because if you think about it, you’re splashing water around the floor when you mop it and there’s a lot of dirt and dust that comes off your feet. And that’s what the kickboard’s for, right? It’s where you stick your feet under as you’re working on that countertop. So it’s actually a tricky spot that you could find some of that growth and I might take a look right there.
And the other thing that you might want to do since you cleaned all that out and the cabinet, I presume, is super, super dry – I wouldn’t be hesitant about applying a clear finish into the inside of that, just for the purpose of sealing it in. I might use a latex polyurethane – a clear polyurethane – just to give it some sort of a sealant. Or even prime it with a product like KILZ that will seal in anything that might be coming off of that material.
If you were to have a fire and you had some smoke damage, if you put a primer on it, that’s what they do to seal that in. So I’m just thinking that it might be an option to seal in some of the odors that you may still be smelling from that cabinet. Of course, it’s going to smell like paint for a few days but that will eventually wear away.
TOM: But do a little further investigation to see if there might be some spots where you missed some of that growth. And start with that.
CAROLINE: Yeah, because of the inserts where the lazy Susan – it kind of turns around the turntable, in other words.
CAROLINE: I kind of did my best but yeah. And the kickboard – well, thank you very much. That’s great. Great idea.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
CAROLINE: Thank you.
TOM: Well, if you’re renting your first apartment, that is a very big step. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying and it usually is both those things at the same time. And one of the most difficult parts is signing the lease. So it’s really important to be sure that you don’t miss out any important details before you sign your name on the dotted line.
LESLIE: Well, first, when you get the lease, you’ve got to read it. Yes, all of it, every single line. You know, reading that lease is going to prevent you from getting stuck with unreasonable rules that you don’t want to live with.
And not only that, that first lease is negotiable. If you see problems, talk it through with your landlord. Often, they’re going to be willing to make reasonable changes to help you get moved in. And if they aren’t willing to make those changes and the circumstances of the lease don’t work for you, pick a different apartment. You don’t want to get stuck.
Next, you’re going to want to take pictures of everything. When you move into your first apartment, you’re going to be expected to pay a damage deposit. Now, ethical landlords are going to give that back to you if you don’t cause damage to the apartment before you move out. Unfortunately, not every landlord is eager to turn over that deposit. So if you’ve got proof that says this was there when I moved in and this is now, that really helps your case to get that money back.
TOM: Absolutely. And you also want to be sure to document the way the apartment looks before you move in so if there are already problems, you’ve got photographic evidence that it was not your fault. For a complete list of what to do and what not to do when renting your first apartment, check out “8 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Your First Apartment” on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Charlie in Tennessee is on the line and looking to do some renovating at his money pit. How can we help you today?
CHARLIE: I have a small kitchen that – I’m trying to knock out the walls to increase space, to make my kitchen and my dining room one big room. My dilemma is the fact that I don’t know whether the wall that I’m knocking down is a load-bearing wall or not.
LESLIE: Well, step away from the project and don’t knock it down just yet.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, what kind of house do you have, Charlie? Is it a ranch? Is it a Colonial? Describe it to us.
CHARLIE: It’s a wood-frame home.
TOM: OK. One story or two?
CHARLIE: One story.
TOM: And the roof peaks in the middle? Goes up from the front, goes up from the back, peaks in the middle?
CHARLIE: Kind of. It’s L-shaped.
CHARLIE: And where the wall would be would be pretty much right where the two meet.
TOM: Yeah. So you’re in the middle there; you’re not quite sure. And the dining room and the kitchen are side by side? Is it aligned front to back on the house or is it aligned end to end, so to speak?
CHARLIE: It would be – that wall would be parallel for the front to back.
TOM: So, it’s aligned front to back. OK. I would say that in most cases, that is a bearing wall. That doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water; it just means it’s a little more complicated for you to open this up. Because if it’s a bearing wall, you have to support the structure while it’s disassembled and then you have to put a new beam in to carry that load in the new, open-plan design.
It’s not something that you would do yourself. It’s not like – I don’t want you to – like, “Hey, I’ve never done home improvement but today, I’m thinking about tearing down a bearing wall.” Bad idea, OK?
TOM: So you need to know what you’re doing or get some people to help you to know what you’re doing or hire a pro. And get a building permit.
And basically, the way it works is temporary walls are built on either side of the bearing wall and this holds up the structure that they’re supposed to be holding. Then the bearing wall is taken apart. The bearing wall is reconstructed but now you would use a girder. And it could be a wood girder, it could be a metal girder, it could be a combination wood-and-metal girder that goes the whole span. It could be a girder that sits below the ceiling or it could be a girder that’s actually flush with the ceiling so when it’s all done, it’s invisible.
But one way or the other, you’ll need this beam to carry the load above that. And then once it’s all put back together, you’re really not going to know that it’s there. But you’ve got just to do it right so that you don’t damage your house in the process, OK?
CHARLIE: Yes, sir. Thank you. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlie. Good luck with that project. Now, put the saw down, OK?
CHARLIE: No problem. Thank you. I appreciate …
TOM: So, Leslie, I found some ants crawling on my bay window. I have a lot of plants in our office, on the bay window. And I took all the plants out and said, “Alright, let me clean this all out,” right? And I sprayed them with a pesticide. I got the little cracks around the window molding. I figured that’s it. I said, “Well, let’s put the plants outside.” I watered them real good, let them sit outside in the sunshine.
Now, I’m putting it all back together and I go to separate the big plant I had from the clay tray – the clay pot – the bottom of it.
TOM: And as I did that, I discovered the nest. The nest wasn’t outside the window, it was inside the house. They had nested between the clay pot and the dish underneath. It was a fully populated ants’ nest.
So, they kind of went nuts when I did that, so I quickly put it back together and now it’s a permanent part of my patio.
LESLIE: Geez, Louise.
TOM: How about that?
LESLIE: I keep finding a random ant here and there and of course, one night, one was on my arm in my bed and I was like, “Blah! How did this get up here?”
TOM: Yuck. Yeah.
LESLIE: Ah, it’s terrible.
Alright. Now we’ve got Dorothy in Wisconsin on the line who has a Wizard of Oz-themed garden and needs some help with her characters.
How exciting. Have they blown away many times? Is the house on the witch? What’s going on?
DOROTHY: Dorothy and my scarecrow have costumes on them and they’re made of cotton, I believe. And I’m looking for a product that is water-repellent and sun-resistant.
LESLIE: I’m not sure about the UV-rating but there are many products that are made for camping equipment, like tents and sleeping bags, that you would spray on that make the fabric water-resistant. There’s one called KIWI Camp Dry and it’s a heavy-duty waterproofing spray. It’s good for tents and boots. I just don’t know if they’re UV-rated but they definitely do keep things – clothing – water-resistant.
DOROTHY: Right. I’m trying to find a product that is also UV-protectant.
LESLIE: You know what? If you head on over to the Trek website – and it’s actually Trek7.com – T-r-e-k-7.com. I just quickly popped over there and I looked at their Aqua Armor product. And it says it’s UV-activated.
DOROTHY: Oh, I thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you love to work in your yard, maybe plant a bush or a tree or if you’re building something, part of that is digging a hole. And you’re thinking, “Well, that’s going to be the easiest part.” But as it turns out, all shovels are not created equal. And having the right shovel will make the job much quicker and easier.
TOM: That’s right. So let’s start with the classic wooden-handled shovel that everyone probably has in their garage. Is it a good digging tool? Well, not really and I’ll tell you why. The wooden handle can split and it can check and it can develop cracks from the winter cold. And where the handle goes into the blade, it’s usually held in by a single rivet and that’s a weak point. And the other weak point is that when you drive a wooden-handled shovel into the ground and you hit a rock or you wedge it up, you can snap it right in half.
Don’t ask me how I know that. It’s happened to me.
LESLIE: So, what’s a step up then from your basic, wooden-handled shovel?
TOM: Well, I think if you’ve still got one of these old relics, it may be time to treat yourself to a fiberglass-handled shovel. They’re not subjected to rot or weathering. And unlike those wooden handles, they’re not going to shrink, they’re not going to expand with variations in humidity. They’re also a lot less likely than the wooden handles to break as a result of impact.
And if you’re looking for really serious durability, you don’t just want any fiberglass shovel, you want to make sure those handles are made of heavy, heavy fiberglass resin. And that most important part is the connection. The shovels have what’s called a “ferrule” that’s pressed down over the shovel to hold it on tight. And that’s never going to fail. If you hit a root or you hit a rock, you can simply wedge it right out of the ground without breaking that handle.
LESLIE: Alright, now lastly, let’s talk about the blade because there really are different blades on a shovel for different types of jobs.
TOM: Yeah. There’s really just two types of blades and they each have a distinct purpose and it’s easy to remember. You use a pointed shovel to dig holes and a square-bladed shovel to move material. So, if you’re digging, you want to use the point and if you’re moving dirt or moving stone, then you want to use a square blade.
And I’ll tell you, I went to, actually, a shovel-making factory once and it was really, really cool to see. And you know how when they have the shovels and they have sort of like a textured surface to them, where they look a little bit worn before they’re painted? Sort of like a pebbly surface?
TOM: I was amazed at how they did that. They took the shovels after they were basically manufactured in these huge presses, where they were basically heated up and folded. And they put them in this big bin that looked like a cement mixer and they spun them and they banged against each other. And that’s how they got that sort of patina-worn look.
LESLIE: That’s so crazy.
TOM: It’s like putting shovels in a concrete truck. Yeah, it was pretty cool.
LESLIE: Pam in Maryland you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PAM: Off of my master bedroom, it has a small deck out there. Apparently, the seal has broken. It’s two pieces of glass that had some sort of, I don’t know, some sort of thing inside of it. And it’s now looking really milky. I’m wondering if I can replace it by getting another glass door or can I replace the glass alone?
TOM: OK. So what’s happening is you have insulated glass and that seal between the panes of glass is called “swiggle.” And when the swiggle fails, then moisture gets in there between the panes of glass and then you get condensation, which is that white, milky, yucky appearance to the glass.
Now, it impacts the energy efficiency in some way but other than that, it’s pretty much just cosmetic. And I say that because it’s not an easy fix. You have to replace the sliding-glass door or replace the glass. And it’s probably less expensive to simply replace the door itself. You get a good-quality Pella or Andersen sliding-glass door there and you’re not going to have to worry about glass that fails for a very, very, very long time. And I think that that is probably the best way to attack that problem. Either live with it and accept the fact that it’s going to be yucky-looking or replace it with a new, good-quality slider.
PAM: OK. Sounds good. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project, Pam. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve noticed that your concrete sidewalks, steps or patio are showing signs of cracks, now would be a great time to get those sealed up while the weather is warm. It’s easy to work outside and the sealants you’ll use flow very nicely into those cracks.
Now, the goal here is to seal the crack to prevent further deterioration from water, which can cause it to get bigger. Step one, you’ve got to clean out the crack from any loose concrete or dirt and then use a chisel and hammer. You’ve got to widen that crack to a minimum of a ¼-inch. Once you’ve done that, remove the loose material. You know, an easy way to do that is with a brush and a wet/dry vac.
TOM: Now, once that’s done, you’ll need to choose your sealant. I always use the QUIKRETE Polyurethane Crack Sealant. I do because it doesn’t sag. It’s also flexible. So as the seasons change, the sealant’s going to expand and contract. And that’s important because that will won’t let the water get past it, which is the whole point of the project. If the water gets past it, it’s going to allow that concrete to freeze and – it’ll freeze and expand in the concrete, I should say, and then it will reform the crack. The water’s going to get back, it’ll get through it, it’ll do the same thing over and over again. And the other thing is it doesn’t sag when you put it in vertical surfaces. There’s nothing worse than trying to clean up that stuff when it drips out.
Now, if you’ve got cracks that are over a ½-inch deep or a ½-inch wide, you want to do one extra step and that is to add something called a “backer rod.” It’s kind of like a foam rope. I think of it as a miniature pool noodle. It’s that same sort of thing but it’s very, very narrow. It comes in different sizes. I think it starts around a ½-inch and goes up to maybe an inch or an inch-and-a-half.
And what you do is you push that into the crack first and so it’s below the surface where you want the sealant to end up. You want to leave maybe a ¼-inch or ½-inch depth for the sealant. And you just push that pool-noodle kind of type of material down so it holds that caulk up higher. You know what I’m saying? And then, when you go ahead and cut the nozzle on the polyurethane sealant, cut it at an angle that matches the width of the crack and load it into a standard caulk gun and start filling the crack.
Now, I am about to do this exact same project on my house because between my garage main slab and the apron in front of it – so I have an asphalt driveway, then I have a 3-foot concrete apron, then we have the garage. But the garage is just slightly higher and there is a gap between that apron and the garage. And I’d say it’s probably about ¾-inch to an inch wide in some places. And it’s pretty deep because it’s the full depth of the slab.
So, I just started to clean that all out. I cleaned it out kind of with a screwdriver and a wet/dry vac, then got it all cleaned out. Letting it dry. Then I’m going to press the backer rod into that and I’m going to flow the QUIKRETE Polyurethane Crack Sealant right on top of that. And that should make it a nice, even seal. And I won’t get stuff that gets stuck down in it, because that’s also what happens. You get tree saplings and stuff will grow out of this because it gets stuck in that moist, damp space.
So, that’s the way to seal those big cracks up and you’ve got to have the right product to make it work.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? The QUIKRETE Polyurethane Crack Sealant is going to be tack-free in about an hour. That’s dependent on the temperature, the humidity, the crack depth. But I mean really, within an hour, you’re going to find this to be tack-free. So that’s going to help a lot with that.
And QUIKRETE has a complete line of commercial-grade, environmentally-friendly sealants and adhesives that are going to suit any concrete or masonry-repair need that you’ve got. And they’re available at home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S.
TOM: They’ve got a great website, great videos with step-by-step instructions on all of the most common concrete projects. You can check that out at QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
LESLIE: David in Mississippi is on the line with some cracks in the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: My house is eight years old or nine years old this year. But I’ve got ceramic tile and it keeps cracking my ceramic tile.
TOM: So we’re talking about cracks in the floor, David?
DAVID: Yes. I hadn’t seen none in the walls or nothing, just in the floors with ceramic tile. And it’s in different rooms, too, so I know it’s more than one crack. I just – the only thing I can think is it’s stress cracks from the concrete foundation.
TOM: Well, it may or it may not be. Now, when you put ceramic tile on a concrete floor like that and especially in a large surface, there is an isolation membrane that works well to go down in between the concrete and the tile. And that helps to prevent the condition that you’re seeing.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this. There’s no inexpensive way to stop a floor from cracking if, potentially, it was installed improperly to begin with. The only general advice we can give you is to make sure you try to keep it as dry as possible down there, because moisture is going to make the slab move more.
DAVID: Well, let me ask you a question. What if I took the ceramic tile up and put some hardwood floors in?
TOM: Well, you couldn’t put solid-hardwood floor because the moisture will cause it to warp. But what you could put in is engineered-hardwood floor. And in fact, if you wanted to put engineered-hardwood flooring, you don’t really have to take the ceramic tile up. You could leave it down there and just go on top of it because it’s not connected to the floor; it pretty much rides. It’s a floating floor; it rides right on that surface.
You’d put down a very thin underlayment underneath it. It’s a very thin foam-like underlayment, like maybe a ¼-inch thick. Then the boards are snapped together and they sit on top of that. You just leave a gap at the edges of the room.
DAVID: OK. I sure appreciate it. I listen to you all’s show all the time. Sure appreciate all the information I can get from you all.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, Bob posted a question here from Chicago and he writes: “We’re planning to update the look of our home with new siding but we want to select a low-maintenance, long-lasting material. Any suggestions?”
TOM: Yeah. So, there’s a lot of choices in siding, obviously. And a lot of homes, when they were first constructed, were using – they were using a material that was – it required a fair amount of maintenance. So, wood siding, of course, requires the most maintenance. So if you have to have brick, that’s great. But what if you could have a siding that was built with a masonry-like material that didn’t rot and also didn’t need paint nearly as much? And you could do that if you choose a product like Tando or a product like HardiePlank.
A HardiePlank is sort of a cementitious material and because it’s not organic, I love the fact that it holds paint like nothing else. My garage shop, which is sort of our shop/studio workshop, my garage is sided with a HardieShingle which is like – HardiePlank’s like the stuff that looks like clapboard and HardieShingle looks like shingle. It’s made by the James Hardie Company. And these shingles look just like the shingles that are on our 1886 house.
So they have the wood-shingle appearance and when you see the home from the outside, you don’t pick up – and sometimes I can pick up very clearly – “Hey, this looks completely different even though the manufacturer says it looks like wood.” Well, this actually really does.
And I also like the fact, Leslie, that because they’re not organic, they hold paint. So, I’m not going to have to worry about painting this every seven or eight or nine years. These shingles were put on probably 20 years ago and the paint has not faded, because it was painted at the factory, as well.
LESLIE: It’s like made into it and it’s on all sides.
LESLIE: We have the HardieShingles, as well, on our house. And I think we’re approaching year seven or eight with them on the side.
LESLIE: And I did all of the AZEK trim.
LESLIE: So, I have not painted, done a thing except power-wash some areas that get dirty. It’s fantastic.
TOM: Yeah. And the trim is a good point. So, there’s a lot of synthetic materials that are available today, from companies like AZEK and Fypon, where this trim that used to be all wood and required a ton of maintenance – and by the way, that was a hard thing to paint.
TOM: You’d get up on a ladder and paint your fascia and paint your soffit and paint your trim and then …
LESLIE: And sometimes, if the water got behind the fascia it would rot out.
LESLIE: I mean it’s just – it’s a host of problems. I will tell you, though, the carpenter bees are very confused around my house.
TOM: Yeah, I know, because they still think it’s wood. But I remember pulling a gutter down to make a minor repair and then it turns into a major deal because you get the fascia off, you figure out that the roof rafters rotted.
TOM: And what should have been a 2-hour job becomes a 2-day job.
So, there’s just a lot of great choices today. I’m telling you, if you’re going to do an exterior improvement, think about those materials, think about the fiber-cement products, think about the synthetic trims, think about the fiberglass doors. They look great. You can’t tell that they’re not wood. It just doesn’t make sense to use anything else today, because you’re going to do this once and you’re not going to have to worry about doing it again probably for the life of the house.
LESLIE: Yeah, it really is worth it. So good luck with that project, Bob. It seems like a big one but it’s going to be awesome and you’ll be so happy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much for taking a part of your day to listen to us. We hope that we’ve given you a few good ideas to get some projects done and avoid the perspiration that usually associates and the anxiety that associates trying to get into something new.
You know, you can do it yourself and we can help. If you’ve got questions, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or always post your questions on our website at 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 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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