In this episode…
This can be a challenging time for many things and that includes selling your house! If you are planning to do that this summer, Tom and Leslie share the key improvements that need to get done first to nail a quick sale at the highest possible price. Plus…
- This summer, most of us will be spending more time at home and enjoying our outdoor spaces. And for DIY’rs, there’s more interest than ever in updating and maintaining lawns. We get expert tips to help from the team at Troy-Bilt, a company that’s has been around since 1937 — when they invented the first gas powered rototiller (and if you are a gardener you are probably sure glad they did!)
- Wet basements are a problem all across the United States, in every climate and every type of home. But while many people think that fixing leaky or damp basement is expensive and complicated – it’s NOT! The easy fix is just ahead.
- One fun kitchen project that can deliver a big impact AND get done in a single weekend, is a new kitchen backsplash. We share ideas on how to do that with tile.
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 thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of our show. If you’ve got a project you’d like to get done, if you want to work inside your house, outside your house – do you want to do something small, easy and quick to spruce it up or you want to take on a big project or plan for one in your future? We would love to help you do just that and make your home its best ever self. Call us, right now, so that we can get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, we all know that it’s been a challenging time for so many things and if you find yourself in a position where you are planning on selling your house through all this, we have some ideas that might be able to help. We’re going to share some key improvements that need to get done first if you do plan to try to nail a quick sale at the highest possible price sometime this summer.
LESLIE: And this summer, most of us will be spending more time at home and enjoying our own outdoor spaces. And for do-it-yourselfers, there’s more interest than ever in updating and maintaining your lawn. We’re going to get expert tips to help from the team at Troy-Bilt, a company that’s been around since 1937 when they invented the first gas-powered rototiller. And if you’re a gardener, you’re probably sure glad they did.
TOM: Oh, my gosh, I am so happy they did. I used a gas-powered rototiller to get rid of all kinds of ivy that was attacking sort of the back of our yard, along it’s sort of perimeter. And I cannot imagine ever having to do that job without that machine. So, thank you very much, Troy-Bilt. We will find out more about their lawn-and-garden tips, in just a bit.
Another thing that’s happening now, because we’ve had so much rain, is we’re getting more and more calls about wet basements and wet crawlspaces. They are a problem throughout the United States and pretty much every climate. But while most folks think that fixing them is an expensive and a complicated process, it is not. We will give you the easy fix, in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you working on? What are your plans? And how can we help you? Give us a call with your home repair, your home improvement question now and you’ll get the answer.
Plus, today, you’re going to get a chance at winning the QUIKRETE Walkmaker. It’s an easy and affordable way to add a beautiful, durable, concrete walkway or patio to your home.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Craig in Rhode Island is on the line and he needs some help with a bathroom makeover. What are you working on?
CRAIG: Well, actually, my second bathroom in my master, it’s kind of old. It has a Symmons water mixer – a shut-off valve. And actually, I’m looking to replace it. It’s cracked, it has some issues. But I can’t get behind the shower to open the wall up to replace it because it’s actually adjacent to my first bathroom shower. It’s a fiberglass, one-piece pop-in.
My first thought is take the insert out, tile it. But then I have to put a shower pan in. I’d have to do a lot more extra work and money. And then I heard possibly cutting the hole bigger and they have bigger back plates. But I mean I don’t want it to look awkward, as well, you know?
TOM: So what exactly is wrong with the valve you have there now?
CRAIG: Well, see, I don’t think the mixing valve – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But the plate on the shut-off valve, it’s cracked. I also have well water. I know it’s been taking a toll on the pipes. The home is 20 years old. I’m pretty sure it’s original to the home, as well. I’ve only owned it for about coming up on two years now and …
TOM: So you basically are telling me that it’s a cosmetic piece?
CRAIG: It is, it is. But I’m redoing the bathroom and I want to update the fixtures. And like I said, it’s kind of your typical apartment, Symmons, very like a chrome – the kind of cheap, chrome finish.
TOM: Well, look, you have the most impossible scenario because you have back-to-back plumbing walls. And typically, you design bathrooms so that one side of the wall’s a closet where you can go and tear out the back wall and then you can get to the valves. But in your case, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, because you either have to take apart the fiberglass shower or you’ve got to take apart the shower that’s basically getting you started here.
And I don’t really have a good solution for you. I was asking you about the existing valves because I was wondering if maybe – sometimes, plumbers can rebuild all the working parts of that from the action side, from the inside, and maybe pick up some additional faucets that will look like they’ll work in there. I wouldn’t go to the tear-out without at least exploring that.
I, for example, recently had a new shower valve that had to really be replaced. And it turned out that the valves were plastic – inside, some of the valve components were plastic. The seats? And we tore them out and we replaced them with brass. And we were able to find those at a plumbing-supply store. And so I didn’t have to actually replace the faucet.
CRAIG: My next step is going to – I’m going to go to a plumbing supply and see if they just have an updated kind of – updated Symmons where I could keep that valve in and everything is kind of pieced together, as well.
TOM: Right. I think that’s a smart thing. What you want to do is take some pictures of that and go talk to a knowledgeable guy behind the counter and figure out what your options are.
CRAIG: Yeah, yeah. That’s my next step and it’s not a – I guess I’ll be tiling a new shower.
TOM: Yeah. If you can figure out a way to make it passable, I think you should do that because you know what?
TOM: Nobody’s going to see that space and I’d hate to see you spend a few thousand bucks redoing it if all you’re trying to get is new valves.
CRAIG: That’s what I’m trying to stay away from. Well, thank you, guys, very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Minnesota is on the line with a moisture issue. What’s going on?
JUDY: Our house is about 40 years old. And it has – in the room that we’re talking about, we’re painting it. We painted it once before without a primer. And it turned out really – I thought it looked really nice. But now we repainted it a different color. And on the inside, then, is that rough paneling. And it’s separated by – it’s got the insulation in there with a plastic on it. And we noticed now – and we’re going to paint it – that there’s moisture halfway down on the paneling. We think that’s caused by condensation.
TOM: It may very well be if it’s a damp space.
Now, there are some things that you can do to reduce condensation in below-grade spaces. It’s kind of the same steps that you would take if you were having an actual flood. You want to make sure that your exterior drainage is set up so that no moisture is being trapped against the outside foundation wall. And that means making sure the gutters are clean, the downspouts are extended and the soil slopes away from the walls.
If you’ve done all those things, then the next thing I would do is I would install a dehumidifier in that space. And try to find one that has a built-in condensate pump so that it collects water and pumps it out. Otherwise, you’ll be emptying buckets upon buckets of water.
And then, finally, it’s also possible to install a whole-home dehumidifier, which is an appliance that is attached to your HVAC system. These are highly effective at pulling moisture out. In fact, most of them will take 99 or 100 pints of water out a day. So, those are three different ways that you can reduce moisture in that space.
Judy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT and two things will happen. One, we’ll do our best to give you the answer to your home improvement question, your décor dilemma. And two, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we are giving away, from QUIKRETE, the Walkmaker.
The Walkmaker forms are very cool. I know that you have used these, Leslie, and they are so easy to create a patio with.
LESLIE: I mean it’s really fantastic how easy they are. There are forms in a couple of different shapes. You fill them with the concrete, you let it sort of solidify a bit and slide the form off, rinse it off, do it again. And depending on how many you use and how they interlock, you can make a great pathway or a patio. They’re really beautiful and it’s definitely a do-it-yourself project.
Be sure to check it out over at QUIKRETE.com. It’s definitely a cool project.
TOM: We’ve got the QUIKRETE Walkmaker going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Texas is on the line and has a question about a roof. What’s going on?
BOB: Well, we’ve had a long drought out here in West Texas. And we finally got some rain and lo and behold, I have a leak. And I remember tuning into your show some time ago where you guys mentioned a product that was clear, that could be applied with a paintbrush, that would penetrate through the roof and then seal it. And I could not or I did – I couldn’t remember the name of the product. And I’ve been trying to find it here in Lubbock, Texas and having no luck at all. And I just thought, “Well, I just need to call you guys and see if you can remember that and tell me what it is.”
TOM: Well, Bob, that’s going to be a bit of a mystery to me because it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that we would recommend for roof leaks. But let me just ask you more about this leak. Do you know where it’s occurring? Do you know if it’s coming through, say, a cracked shingle or is it coming around a chimney? Is it coming around a pipe? What do you know about it?
BOB: Where the slope of my roof joins my patio. And the patio roof is flat. So, I’m thinking probably what’s happening is it’s backing into the den past the wall but …
TOM: Right. Yeah. That’s a tough spot to flash. And it’s also a tough spot to do a sort of an easy patch repair to it.
You know, all these types of roof products that you apply after the fact, they’re usually asphalt roof cement. And they’ll work for a while but they tend to dry up pretty quickly. When you have an intersection like that where you have a pitched roof that comes into a low-slope or a flat roof, you’re right: the water can back up there and due to the force of kind of against gravity – and due to that force can actually sort of work its way up into the roof surface.
The right way to flash that – and you’re not going to want to hear this but the right way to flash that is to have the flat roof basically go right up and under the roof shingles. So the flat-roof material would go to that intersection and then up and under the roof shingles and probably up maybe 3 feet under them. And then the roof shingles would continue over that, creating a big overlap there where it would be virtually impossible for any water to back into it. And I would start that project with a product called “ice-and-water shield,” which is sort of a tacky, 3-foot-wide, roll-on sheet that literally glues itself to the deck surface and will stop all water from getting through. So that’s the best way to do a permanent repair to that.
Short of that, it’s OK for you to use an asphalt-cement product to try to patch it. But I’m just concerned that it’s something you may end up having to do time and time again. If it does develop that way, then maybe you could choose to make the bigger repair later.
BOB: And you say that that is ice-and-water shield?
TOM: Yes, ice-and-water shield. Yep. That’s the right first step for that and that goes underneath the roof shingles. Nice thing about that, too, is if you ever have roof shingles that blow off, your roof still won’t leak because it remains watertight.
BOB: Well, I certainly appreciate your help with that.
TOM: Alright, Bob. Well, thanks so much for calling.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning to sell your home, creating curb appeal is key to a quick sale. Today, however, curb appeal doesn’t just mean looking good for a drive-by of the potential buyer, it means looking good online, as well. And it’s all the more reason to take steps to spruce up your home’s first impression before it goes on the market.
Now, landscaping is one of the easiest ways to make a good impression for very little cost. Even just planting colorful flowers and landscaping beds, grooming a lush lawn and adding greenery and potted plants create a drastic transformation. And it’s enough to give you a higher perceived value.
TOM: Now, next, you want to check the exterior surfaces for wear and tear. Now, if you spot some flaky paint, some moss, some mold and mildew, it’s got to go because it really freaks people out. And while you’re at it, make sure that the service records are up to date on all your mechanical systems. We’re talking about heating, cooling, other systems that need regular TLC.
I spent 20 years as a home inspector and I can tell you that if a home hasn’t kept up these systems, it shows. Especially when the one time you do change your air-conditioning filter is right before the home inspector comes through and we get into the system and we notice that everything is thoroughly caked with dust, except it’s got a brand-spanking-new fiberglass filter. So, it kind of says to us you’re not really taking care of things and you made this last-ditch effort to kind of hide that by throwing in a clean filter.
So, we definitely can figure that out, so it’s really important to get them serviced. So go through around with all of your contractors making sure your heating system’s serviced, your HVAC totally good to go so that you can show those records to the prospective buyers.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now finally, guys, according to the National Association of Realtors, 80 percent of potential home buyers start their search online, so good photos are a must. Go ahead, hire a pro to take yours. Or just make sure if you’re doing it, you choose a clear but kind of overcast day because that’s going to give you the best results when taking your own.
And I tell you, Tom, I feel like I’m always on the sites looking at houses. It’s my favorite pastime.
LESLIE: And you can tell when like a nice agency came in and did the photographs and then you can tell when a homeowner’s sort of shoved into a corner, trying to take a picture of the home office and things look kind of weird. And you’re like, “Aww.”
TOM: They’ve got to – right, they’ve got to look good. And listen, since they’re digital these days, take a bunch, right? And just – you may get lucky.
I take a lot of photos when I’m walking about – we do a lot of walks in the neighborhood and I take a lot of photos sometimes. And my wife gets annoyed with me – and my family does, too, if I’m outside with them doing something – because I’ll see a house and it’ll be something wrong with it. Not like I like the house but like, “Oh, look! There’s trees growing out of that gutter! That’s going to be a great photo when I write about how to stop leaking basements. You can’t have trees growing out of your gutters!”
LESLIE: Oh, [that’s funny] (ph).
TOM: So I try to get as close as I can without being annoying. And if nobody’s home I’ll go up too close to the house. And they just want to run and hide while I’m doing this, you know?
LESLIE: My boy’s the same. We’ve been riding our bicycles so much throughout the quarantine that we’ve taken different blocks and different ways around town and all different sections of town.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: And I’ll stop with my phone and be like, “Oh, I like this house. Here’s the address.”
LESLIE: And then I go home and I look up the previous listing of the house from however many years ago.
TOM: Yeah. Right.
LESLIE: I’m obsessed; I can’t stop.
TOM: Look, it’s really important to take those photos and take them well, because that’s what gets those buyers coming right to your door. So spend some time on it and make your place look great.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got D.R. on the line who needs some help with a project. What’s going on?
D.R.: OK. I’d like to know the best way to remove moss from a shingle roof.
TOM: Is the moss on the roof concentrated on one side or the other of your house?
D.R.: Both. Both sides.
TOM: Both sides, OK. And you have a very fairly shady lot?
D.R.: Yes. But that’s really in a sunny area.
TOM: Hmm. That’s interesting, OK.
So, couple of things. First of all, sun is the best mildicide you can get. So if there’s anything that can you do to thin out trees to get more sunshine on the roof, that’s going to give you long-term resistance to this happening again.
So what you need to do is to first clean the roof and to clean it, you can use a product like JOMAX, which is made by Zinsser. And it’s a product that you mix with bleach. You can apply it with a pressure washer where it has an applicator attachment that applies the material. Let it sit for a while – 15, 20 minutes – then you rinse it off. That starts to break down that moss.
Then I’ll give you a little trick of the trade and that is at the peak of the roof – that’s the top, the apex of the roof – if you were to line that part of the roof with a long strip of copper – you can buy copper flashing that’s about 8 inches in width and it comes in a long roll. And if you slip it under that top shingle and let most of it stick out on both sides, what happens is when it rains it hits that copper and the copper releases a little bit of the metal into the water as it runs down the roof. And that acts as another mildicide.
And that’s why sometimes when you see roofs that have streaks on them right under chimneys, it’s because it’s the rainwater reacting with the flashing on the chimney. So if you add that strip of copper, it will release some of the metals and that will also help to clean the roof. So, cut back on the trees, clean the roof with a good product and then add the copper strip and then you’ll have a long-time benefit from that, OK?
D.R.: OK. I thank you very much.
TOM: Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, this summer, most of us will be spending more time at home and enjoying our outdoor spaces. And for do-it-yourselfers, there’s more interest than ever in updating and maintaining those spaces, starting with the lawn.
TOM: That’s right. And one company that’s been helping DIYers and pros take care of outdoor space for decades is Troy-Bilt. The company says they were born from dirt, literally, because they got their start by introducing the first residential rototiller back in 1937. And for those of us that have ever had to rototill, we are so glad that they did. With us to talk about lawn care today is Troy-Bilt Brand Manager Barbara Roueche.
Barbara, welcome to The Money Pit.
BARBARA: Well, thank you. I’m so happy to be here with you today.
TOM: So, one of the things I like about your company is that you’ve always been pretty good communicators. And right now, you’re answering a lot of homeowners’ questions, I imagine, about their lawns and the tools that are needed to maintain them. Have you seen a big uptick in that Q&A since the COVID-19 crisis began?
BARBARA: Oh, we certainly have. People like being out in their yard, in general, and Troy-Bilt’s always tried to be there to inspire people to care and enjoy the outdoors. So, during this COVID-19 period, the uptick in interest in gardening and in particular, vegetable gardening, in the tillers which, quite frankly, had not really been a growing interest for a number of years. People have moved to container gardening, they support local farmers’ markets, things of that nature.
The COVID-19 has just really sparked a tremendous interest in growing your own food in larger quantities, maybe, than you were used to in the past. So, that’s been really interesting to see and really fun, because there’s so much you can do with vegetable gardening. Not just for yourself but for your neighborhood.
LESLIE: Now, that’s really smart. I mean this way, you can contribute to the folks who have a harder time getting out. And you can help bring over some of the veggies that you and your family have grown. Of course, maintaining social distancing and following all the rules. But I think that’s also why folks are really looking to improve their outdoor spaces or at least learn to maintain them themselves.
And there’s probably a ton of questions about proper lawn care. What do you do? Are you seeing a lot of that?
BARBARA: Oh, sure. There’s always a lot of questions about not just how to take care of your lawn but – “What kind of equipment do I need to take care of my lawn? What should I buy first? I’m the new homeowner.”
TOM: So, let’s talk about some of that. You guys make a very wide range of lawn mowers, both push mowers and tractors. How do you know what’s right for your yard? What kinds of questions should you be asking yourself or considering when you’re thinking about buying a new lawn mower?
BARBARA: Well, typically, you should think about the size of the yard that you’re going to mow. Bigger yards require bigger mowing decks and that will also make it quicker to get your mowing done. So any what we call “walk-behind mowers,” which you think of as the traditional push mower – walk-behind mowers, those are really nice for the smaller yards, up to half-acre or so, flat.
The other thing you want to think about, other than the size of your yard, is what type of yard do you have. Is it flat? Does it have hills? Is it kind of uneven and it’s got kind of dips and places to get through? Because there is equipment that’ll help you deal with those sorts of challenges if you have those in your yard. So, those would be the two biggest things to think about.
And then budget, of course, is always top of mind for many folks. So, how much do you have to invest? How important are the features that you need? Maybe you have a really big yard and has a lot of obstacles. So you might want to consider a more expensive riding mower or even a zero-turn riding mower. And kind of balance out and see what suits your need.
TOM: Yeah. And the most important question is: are you really cutting it yourself or do you have teenagers?
BARBARA: That’s right.
TOM: And you guys also some smart-home apps that you’ve developed for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. And I was reading that these apps can suggest the best time to cut the lawn based on weather?
BARBARA: It does. It’s very cool. It’s based on the weather in your area and also connects to your Google calendar. So, it looks to see when you have available time. Many of us now don’t – maybe don’t have as much on their calendar as we used to. But certainly, as we get back to more activities, people have – children have sports events to get to and you’ve got meetings and different activities and places to be. So, with the “mow scheduler” as we call it …
TOM: The mow scheduler. That’s funny.
BARBARA: The mow scheduler. You can Alexa or Google, “Hey, when’s the best time for me to mow?” And it will cross-reference the weather that’s coming and your schedule and suggest a time and date, put it on your schedule. And it will also monitor the weather as it leads up to that date. So if it sees a change in the forecast, you’ll get a notification that says, “Hey, it looks like it’s going to rain on Wednesday. You have an hour free on Tuesday. How about Tuesday at 2:00?” So, yeah, it’s a fun way to keep track of things. And I know if I don’t …
TOM: So it makes an appointment for you with your lawn mower, Leslie.
BARBARA: Exactly, exactly.
LESLIE: Now, Barbara, if there was a way to make sure that the mower was quiet, maybe you could do your Zoom calls while mowing. And then you could have a whole new way of cross-referencing your calendars.
TOM: Yeah, let’s talk about that. That’s one of the complaints that people have about gas-powered equipment, Barbara, is the noise. Is that changing now as mowers are getting more sophisticated?
BARBARA: To an extent, certainly, the battery-powered mowers are much quieter than gas-powered mowers. Price points on battery mowers, though, are typically a little higher. They’re not – they’re used a lot more in Europe than they are in America but it’s certainly a growing interest and need in the United States, as well.
We don’t currently offer any battery products with Troy-Bilt but our parent company is very involved with battery mowers, even including robotic mowers, so no one has to get up to mow the lawn. But those are kind of further up the line for Troy-Bilt. I think the power and the performance that you get from a gas-powered lawn mower is still the most consistent and delivers you an over – consistent cut and a good-quality cut with the least amount of investment.
LESLIE: What about mowing mistakes? I know I really enjoy mowing the lawn but I find that maybe I cut it too short or I’m cutting it at the wrong time. Do you find that a lot of people are coming to you with sort of correction process like, “Oh, no. I really messed up.”
BARBARA: The question we get asked the most – or a lot of customers’ sentiment is not so much around the result of mowing but it’s more about the equipment and keeping their equipment starting and running so that they’re reliable, right? There’s nothing worse than going out to mow your grass and your lawn mower doesn’t start.
So we do spend a lot of time talking to consumers about the proper way to care for your lawn mower. Use that fuel stabilizer, use good fuel, change the spark plug, you know? Do that little bit of pre-season and post-season maintenance. And it makes all the difference in the world how easily then you can get back into the mowing season when it finally arrives for you. The results of mowing, putting stripes in your yard or how high should I mow my grass, those are perennial questions, as well.
We typically – I’d say a good average height, if you don’t know what kind of grass you have in your yard, is 2 to 3 inches. Probably 2½ inches for most grasses. That’s the optimum height. You don’t want to get it too long because that encourages pests to breed in your yard, right? Grubs and other critters can hide in there. You also don’t want to mow it too short because then it’ll burn out.
TOM: Well, good advice. The website is Troy-Bilt and that’s spelled Troy – T-R-O-Y – Bilt – B-I-L-T. TroyBilt.com. Take a look at the website, take a look at the homeowners’ Q&A section and all the different equipment that’s made by this fine company. They’ve been doing it since – was it 1937, I think?
Thanks for inventing the rototiller. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that that piece of equipment exists, because I have lots of ivy and vines that I’ve been attacking for years. And the rototiller always wipes it out. So, glad that – glad you guys got to start out with that.
Barbara Roueche is the brand manager for Troy-Bilt. Thanks for stopping by and good luck this spring with all of your mowing needs.
If you’ve got a home improvement question, give us a call, right now, because we’d love to help you with that. Plus, we’d love to give you a chance to win a set of the QUIKRETE Walkmaker Forms. They are an easy and affordable way to add a beautiful and durable concrete walkway to your patio or your home.
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LESLIE: Well, if your home is built on a crawlspace or a basement, the best way to keep those spaces bone dry is going to start outside of your house. The surprising fact, guys, is that damp, leaking or even fully-flooded basements are easy to fix. Yep, I said easy. Unfortunately, there are way too many contractors out there that want you to think otherwise and are going to offer expensive fixes instead of the simple solutions.
TOM: Yeah, so here’s what you need to know. The secret to keeping you basement or your crawlspace dry – and by dry, I’m not just addressing basements that are flooding but even ones that are damp – is to simply keep the water that rolls off your roof away from your home’s foundation.
We get so many calls from listeners concerned about so-called high water tables when the cause is almost always that rainwater seeps into the foundation perimeter due to very poor gutter installation and maintenance. So keeping that moisture away from the foundation is easy to do when you have the right preventative measures in play at your house.
LESLIE: Now, first of all, you need to make sure that your home has gutters. Then, you’ve got to make sure that those gutters and their downspouts are staying clean and free-flowing. Next, you want to look at where that water is being deposited when it exits those downspouts. And if it’s pouring out right next to your foundation, you are definitely going to end up with water in the basement at some point.
Now, ideally, those downspouts should deposit rainwater 3 to 6 feet away from your home’s foundation. You’ve got to get it away from the house.
TOM: Yeah. And then if you get the gutters right, the last thing you want to do is make sure that the soil around the foundation slopes away from the house. We’re looking for a grade of about 6 inches over about 4 feet. So not a drastic drop but just enough water to get that water moving away from your house.
If you take these steps, you will end with a dry space underfoot that you could actually use for storage or that you could remodel and turn into a beautiful basement living room or something like that or a bedroom. You know, so many folks would love to remodel those below-grade spaces but they’re afraid to because they fear the flooding. We can take that fear away. It’s really quite a simple thing to do.
And one more thing to keep in mind is if you’re wondering, “Well, do I know this is going to work?” here’s the test. If your basement or crawlspace gets damp or floods after heavy rainfall or snowmelt, it is definitely, definitely, definitely happening at the surface perimeter. It’s happening because of those gutters and the grading. Fix that and it will be dry once again.
You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question, which is what John in Montana did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, John in Montana writes: “We recently purchased a home that needs some TLC. We want to replace the aging furnace and water heater. We also need to rip out carpeting, replace with hardwood floors. And finally, one of the bathrooms is in bad shape. How do you prioritize these projects? We want to have them completed over the next two years.”
TOM: So, structural is always first. So if you have any issues on the exterior, like roofs or foundation issues, that has to be done first. Secondly, the mechanical system should be addressed. And thirdly, the bathroom, if it’s in bad shape but it’s working, that could be done now or it could be done later. And the very last thing is the cosmetics, which is the carpeting and other flooring issues.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’ve got to prioritize the stuff that’s really important before you start getting to the décor stuff. I know that’s fun and you want to do that first but let’s get everything in order before we do that.
TOM: Well, one fun kitchen project that can deliver a big impact and get done in a single weekend is a new kitchen backsplash. Leslie has got some ideas on how to take on that project, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, those kitchen backsplashes, they do double duty, guys. They’ve got a bunch of jobs. They protect those walls but they also express your decorative style. And they can make a big statement or just simply coordinate more quietly with your cabinets and countertop. But here are five trends that are putting a fresh spin on a traditional backsplash.
First of all, take a plain tile but install it in an interesting pattern. Horizontal subway tiles are pretty standard but it’s far from the only tile layout option you’ve got with those. So why not try herringbone or a chevron pattern? Same thing; people call those the same. They’re sort of that arrow-looking pieces that go up and down. It’s really gorgeous. And another popular choice, right now, is a backsplash of long, thin tiles but that are arranged vertically.
Now, here’s another idea: you can stick to one tile for the entire backsplash. Backsplashes with borders or accent tiles or complicated mosaics, they’re not really in style anymore and things are turning towards more minimalistic, one-tile design. Why create an intricate pattern that’s only going to be hidden or become disjointed once your countertop, appliances, canisters, all your countertop stuff gets in place? Instead, go for something clean, simple, consistent. It’s going to look chic and uncluttered.
Now, here’s another idea, guys: forget tile altogether and go for a laminate. It’s beautiful, tile – it really is – but it does pose some cleaning challenges. That grout’s going to get dirty, they’re going to become discolored. If you’re looking for a very easy-to-install, low-maintenance material, laminate cannot be beat. You can get it in a ton of different looks, so it can look like anything: natural or space-age or fun or bright or colorful. And it’s also very budget-friendly.
Now, another idea is chalkboard paint. You can use that for certain areas of the kitchen maybe if you’ve got a little breakfast bar against one kitchen area that has a small backsplash, somewhere that’s more easily accessible for the family so that they can write notes to each other. I wouldn’t do this by a sink because chalkboard paint getting wet isn’t great. I wouldn’t do it by a stove because I don’t want kids working over there. But the chalkboard paint in key spots in a kitchen, where you would have a traditional backsplash, could really be something fun for the entire family.
And another option is if you’ve got a spot, put that backsplash all the way up to the ceiling. This looks great with a single slab of a natural stone or again, tile all the way up or a laminate. I mean it’s really fantastic and can be totally striking and enhance the height of the room. So get creative. Look at some ideas online but think of something out of the box for your backsplash and you’ll be thrilled.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you for spending part of your day with us. Coming up next time on the program, before you can add new, you’ve got to get rid of the old. And that can be a very costly part of any home renovation process. We’re going to share tips to help lighten the load and cut demolition costs, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(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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