In this episode…
Porches are the perfect space to enjoy the outdoors, relax and even visit with neighbors from a socially acceptable distance! This may be why front porches are making a big comeback and we’ve got tips on how you can make the most of yours! Plus…
- With generally blistering heat across the nation, are you wondering how to avoid having your yard turn into a dead, dry wasteland? We’ll have the tips on how you can conserve water, restore dead patches and still have a beautiful lawn in summer including the ONE thing you should never do!
- Have you ever found a leak after a major rainstorm but just can’t seem to pinpoint where it’s coming from? We’ll share some tricks of the trade to help you find the sources of roof leaks BEFORE they lead to any serious damage.
- Dishwashers do a great job of cleaning your dishes but dishwashers can turn stinky quickly if they are not properly maintained. We walk you through that project.
- Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, about installing a dedicated electrical outlet, making an attic space livable, repairing a popcorn ceiling, getting rid of grubs in your lawn, repairing a sticking door.
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 so glad to be here today to help you take on projects around your house. This is Episode 2012 and we’ve got a lot of great stuff to cover.
First up, with all the frenzy of modern life, are you longing for the days of past when all we did is sat outside and chatted with neighbors and enjoyed an ice-cold lemonade in a rocker on a porch? Well, if you think about it, porches are the perfect way to socially-distantly communicate with neighbors that are walking by, right? Because you’re keeping the distance. But it’s a fun place to be. And it turns out that a lot of folks now are redoing those porches. They’re becoming more and more popular, maybe driven on by COVID and maybe not. But we’ve got some tips if you’d like to give your porch an update.
LESLIE: And with the generally blistering heat across the nation, are you wondering how to avoid having your yard turn into a dead, dry wasteland? We’ve got tips on how you can conserve water, restore dead patches and still have a beautiful lawn, including the one thing you should never do.
TOM: And have you ever found a leak after a big rainstorm but you can’t seem to pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from? We’re going share some tricks of the trade to help you find sources of roof leaks before they lead to serious damage.
LESLIE: But first, this show is really about you, so we want to hear what you’re working on. Let us know how we can lend a hand.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. No matter when you’re hearing this show, you can always call us, 24/7. We are standing by to take your questions. And if we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
So let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Karen in Texas is on the line with a driveway that is just cracking up. What’s going on?
KAREN: My home was built in the late 1970s. And that’s what’s going on – is my driveway has just gotten full of cracks and everything. So, when I was looking into replacing – tearing it out and replacing the concrete – I had someone suggest to me that there’s some newer products on the market that you can overlay over top of the concrete.
TOM: Yeah. So, this is a concrete surface, right? We’re not talking about asphalt. It’s definitely concrete?
KAREN: Definitely concrete.
TOM: Alright. Now, the cracks that you’re seeing, is the driveway sagging or is it – just have these sort of fissures in it? I’m asking you this question because I want to know if it’s structurally unstable. Because no matter what you put over it, if it’s got a weak base, it’s just going to continue to move and crack. It’ll look better but it’ll still do that.
KAREN: I wouldn’t say it’s unstable. There are quite a few that run. They’re not small, short ones. I mean they’ve gotten pretty big. There is one area at the bottom of the driveway, by the street, that seems to have had a little bit of a collapse.
TOM: Shift? Yeah.
KAREN: Nothing you can’t – yeah. Nothing that can’t be dealt with.
TOM: Alright. So, here’s what I would do. There’s a new product out just this year from QUIKRETE. It’s called Re-Cap. And it’s a really interesting product because they’ve designed a project that will absolutely bind to old concrete and not separate.
And it’s fairly simple to apply. You put it on. You wet the – you clean the concrete, you put it on. And when the concrete’s wet – and you work it, smooth it out. You trowel it out. You can use a squeegee. You can use a broom to give it a bit of a broom finish. And then the whole thing dries in just a few hours. I think that would be a great addition.
In terms of the end of the driveway, where it reaches the street, that’s the part we call the “apron.” What I would recommend you do there is to go ahead and tear that out. You can pick up a few bags of QUIKRETE and mix it up in a wheelbarrow and repour that. And this way, you can make sure it’s nice and thick and structurally stable. And then even sort of extend the Re-Cap color onto that so it’ll all look like one piece when it’s all done.
But I think that that’s probably the best. Because if the concrete continues to move – and by that I mean sort of shift a little bit, expand and contract, freeze/thaw cycle, whatever – those cracks will show back up. But most of them will be filled in by the Re-Cap product and I think you’ll like how it works.
KAREN: Awesome. That was what I was hoping to hear, because it’s got to be a whole lot less expensive than having it torn out and completely repoured.
TOM: Well, absolutely. And by the way, there’s one other option, too. If you’d love to have a paver driveway, there’s a new paver out from Pavestone. It’s called Milano. And what’s cool about these Milano pavers is they’re half the thickness of a normal paver. And they’re designed specifically to go over old concrete patio and driveway surfaces.
So, you could look into those, as well. Probably a little more expensive – ah, probably a lot more expensive – than the Re-Cap product. But it looks absolutely gorgeous when it’s done and you really can’t tell that it’s not a full-thickness paver when you see it.
So there’s two options for you.
KAREN: OK. Awesome. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Richard in Tennessee is on the line and has an interesting question involving an antique soda machine. Tell us about it.
RICHARD: Well, I bought an antique soda machine that actually worked. And I wanted to put the old quarter in and slide the bottle out. But I took it and put it in the garage, plugged it in. And as soon as the compressor kicked on, it tripped the GFCI breaker or the GFCI circuit on the plug. So, I reset it and it wouldn’t stay reset.
TOM: Well, that is totally expected because refrigerators, when they kick on, have a very big draw of current. And that’s necessary to get them going and then it kind of goes down after that. But refrigerators are not supposed to be installed on ground-fault circuits. And as a result, yours is going to keep tripping as it has.
So, your proper solution would be to run a circuit just for that machine. And if it’s just for that machine, it does not have to be ground-fault protected. The reason it’s ground-fault protected – the circuit in the garage is ground-fault protected – is because it’s a wet location. But for a dedicated service to one machine, it would not have to be. You’ll have to have an electrician do that.
I would not, you know, disconnect the current ground fault, because that covers the rest of the outlets in the garage. It could even cover outside outlets or bathroom outlets. Sometimes, that circuit can wind its way through the house. But I would put it in a dedicated outlet just for that machine and then your problem should go away.
RICHARD: Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That sounds kind of fun to have that in the house.
TOM: It does, yeah. Well, like everything, you think, “I’ve got the machine. I’m good to go. All I’ve got to do is plug it in.” Ah, not so quick. There’s other expenses to making sure it works right. When that machine was common, you didn’t have to worry about ground faults because we didn’t have them yet.
TOM: So, never had the issue. Today we do and so, now you’ve got to …
LESLIE: They were far more dangerous then.
TOM: Yeah. Now you’ve got to add the circuit.
LESLIE: Randy in Texas needs some help with some yard work. Tell us what’s going on.
RANDY: Yes, ma’am. What I’ve got, I’ve got a 30-foot by 15-foot pressure-treated deck on the back of my house. And where the wood has shrank or shrunk and given me gaps between the 2×6 boards, I’ve had leaves fall in there and I can’t get – I have no way to get them out without taking the deck up, which I don’t want to do. Is there some way that I can put some kind of organic matter or something in there to break down the leaves so I don’t have sprouts coming up?
TOM: So you’re saying that you have organic matter that’s stuck between the 2×6 floorboards of the deck and they’re starting to grow?
RANDY: The deck itself is sitting on a concrete patio. And then I’ve got 2x4s laid on edge and that’s what I built the deck on.
TOM: Oh, so it’s basically a wood platform, like a pallet on top of a patio.
RANDY: There you go.
TOM: Yeah. No wonder it’s so moist. Well, listen, I mean that’s a real unusual assembly and there’s good reason for doing it – not doing it that way, because of what you’re seeing. You’ve got a lot of moisture issues here.
I don’t have a good solution for you, because it’s just a non-traditional way to assemble a deck.
RANDY: Without having – it had to be that way, otherwise it wouldn’t match up with the floor. I’d be elevated above my floor, my elevation of the house itself.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.
RANDY: I’ve heard putting dry molasses. Would that help?
TOM: I have no idea.
LESLIE: I don’t know. I feel like that might attract some critters of some sort.
TOM: Yeah, some ants. Definitely ants and stuff.
You have a wood-framed deck that’s basically built flat on top of a concrete surface. The concrete is going to stay really moist and damp, which is one of the reasons that it’s such – so it’s perfect, almost greenhouse-like conditions for you to grow plants through there.
One of the things that you could do is you could use a product like Roundup, which is a herbicide that will – you know, once you spray it, it will stop – it will kill things and stop it from coming back.
LESLIE: Kills a lot of things.
And you also might want to try Spray & Forget.
TOM: So, Spray & Forget also has the ability to stop mold and mildew and lichen and algae. And it may be just enough to stop the growth of whatever is happening between those boards. But you can find that at home centers nationwide. It’s a great product and it has sort of a residual effect.
Now, it’s not an instant-gratification kind of deal. You spray it on there and you let the sun and the wind and the rain get to it. And very slowly, over time, it breaks down all of those materials and stops it from coming back. So, you’re going to have to do something like that to try to maintain this.
TOM: But in terms of stopping the material from getting in between the cracks, that I don’t have a solution for you on, OK?
RANDY: OK. Alright, sir.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for that call. Appreciate your question and good luck with the project.
Well, are you looking for a few extra feet for storage or relaxation or maybe for an entertainment center or maybe a guest bed? Well, the solution might already be right under your nose and maybe even under your roof. It’s a porch.
LESLIE: That’s right. Porches are making a big comeback, showing up in a growing number of new construction projects. And they’re suitable spaces for much more than an old porch rocker.
Now, new porches are being equipped with radiant-heat panels in the flooring, glare-proof mesh instead of traditional screens and other features that not only make them comfortable but fit for year-round use.
TOM: Now, if you’ve already got a porch and it’s looking a bit worn, there are a lot of new, low-maintenance materials that you can use. Well, I shouldn’t say they’re new. A lot of them have been around for a long time but there are some new ones. But the nice thing is that they don’t need anywhere near the amount of work to take care of than the traditional wood components that most porches have been built out.
For example, you can replace your wood porch floors with composites. You can use synthetic railings and spindles, which’ll need pretty much zero paint to maintain. Just make sure you evaluate that structure under all that porch floor before you remove and replace the boards you’re walking on. Because if the joists are having any issues, you need to deal with the structures first. And we don’t want you to work on just the cosmetic stuff unless you know it is solid and secure.
LESLIE: Now, once you’re all done with the update, you can add from a growing variety of weatherproofing features and appliances, like TVs, couches, all these sort of unexpected interior touches. Believe it or not, those things are all also made for outdoor use. So you just have to make sure that you find pieces that are made for outdoor use. You don’t want to put a regular sofa outside. You want to find one that’s made with sort of polypropylene materials for the frame and then waterproof materials and foam for the cushions.
So look for things that are properly rated for outdoor usage – even electronics, lighting, everything – and you can have just a beautifully-designed space.
TOM: If you’d like some more tips on updating your porch, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “porch repair.” We’ve got a couple of great posts on just that.
LESLIE: Taylor in Michigan is having issues with a door. What’s going on?
TAYLOR: We were having some swelling around our door. And so it sticks when you shut it. And we were wondering if, besides sanding it, if there’s anything that you can do to help fix that issue.
LESLIE: Well, you’ve got to really figure out where it’s sticking, because that’s going to determine how you fix it. So have you kind of figured out – is the door leaning and maybe one part is rubbing? Is it at the lock point? Where are you noticing the stick?
TAYLOR: Yeah. On both of our doors that have that issue, we’ve noticed it towards the top of the door. So that part might be leaning a little bit, I think.
LESLIE: And have you tightened the screws in the hinges just to see, maybe, it’s sort of loosened in its fitting in the jamb itself?
TAYLOR: Yeah, we have tried that.
TOM: Typically, if the door is not closing properly, it’s not adjusted properly.
TOM: And the door can only move so many ways. And what we typically find is that if you pay attention to the reveal as the door closes and you look for unevenness there, it’s going to signal to you what has to happen. So, for example, if the door is rubbing on the top, then typically that hinge – the opposite hinge – has to be set deeper into the jamb so it opens up.
Look, you can sand this, you can cut this. But you’re better off adjusting the door because, invariably, it did close properly once and it’s just moved a little bit.
LESLIE: Right. And that’s expected over time.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes, you can pull a screw out that’s going into the jamb and replace it with a longer one that reaches through the stud. And just by doing that one thing and driving it in with an impact wrench or a drill driver, it will suck that whole jamb over and fix the door with one screw.
TOM: OK? But that’s what you need to pay attention to.
Taylor, we did a video for Yale, to teach folks how to align the door for smart locks. And the same advice, actually, applies. It’s called “DIY Door Alignment for Smart Locks.” It’s on YouTube and it’s also on MoneyPit.com. So just search for the door-alignment video and we will walk you through, step by step, all the different ways you can adjust a door, OK?
TAYLOR: Awesome. Great. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Andrew in Iowa, what can we do for you today?
ANDREW: I have a roof that was redone with [vent ridge] (ph). And I’m getting snow in my attic and I want to make the attic a livable space. I’ve been kind of redoing with drywall and I don’t know if I should kind of redo the [vent ridge] (ph) or if I can do spray-foam insulation before I do it or kind of what my next step would be.
TOM: And you’re asking a couple of different questions, so let me kind of break them down.
First of all, to stop the snow from coming into your attic, that’s a common thing that happens with ridge vents. There’s a type of vent called a “filter vent.” It’s made by CertainTeed. Their brand is called Air Vent. That’s their website: AirVent.com. And the filter vent has this mesh inside that lets air pass in and out but stops the snow and the rain from doing the same. So, that’s just the factor of having the right type of vent product.
Now, in terms of making that a livable space, I will say, as someone who owns a home where we had the attic completely sprayed with spray foam, I was very, very impressed with the results. The attic is really quite pleasant now. And we only use it for storage. I did it for insulation, not for finishing. But the attic is very pleasant in the summer. It’s not hot in the winter. It’s not cold. It’s always ambient temperature up there.
And if you do use spray-foam insulation, then you would actually block off all of your vents. You would take them out. You don’t need to vent a roof if you’re going to spray the underside of it with spray foam. It’s a ventless system by its design.
So, that’s an option that you can choose. Or you could just put the filter vent in and finish it as it is. But I will say that the spray foam will give you better insulation up there in that space than you could get by using a fiberglass batt, simply because the rafters aren’t very deep in most cases and you can’t get enough inches of insulation in there.
ANDREW: Alright. Well, perfect. Thank you. I have a lower and upper attic, so it’s a lot of space. So I just wanted to make sure I had the right plan before I went. So, it sounds like the spray-foam insulation is, so thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Michelle in Michigan is on the line with a question about moles. That’s a lot of Ms, Michelle. What’s going on?
MICHELLE: Well, I have about an acre-and-a-half of backyard. Well, actually an acre, not quite a half. But I have moles constantly coming from my neighbor’s yard and tearing up. And they’re living under my patio.
LESLIE: Well, you know why they’re coming to your yard is because your yard is serving up a tasty treat that they really like. So, the reason why moles show up is because your property probably has grubs. And you might not see them. They’re living in the dirt underneath the lawn. But that’s what the moles are eating. So the trick to getting rid of the moles is to get rid of the grubs.
MICHELLE: Now, how would I go about by doing that? Because I’ve done everything I could possibly think of – spraying, putting things down, even a few homeopathic things – but nothing seems to be working.
LESLIE: There’s a couple of different products that you can use that will, I guess, treat the grub situation. One of them that you can find at your local home center is GrubEx. And that’s an application that you’ll put on the lawn and that will get rid of the grubs. It won’t happen instantaneously but it’ll start to get rid of the grubs. And then the moles will figure out that you don’t have the tasty treats in the lawn anymore and they’ll start moving elsewhere.
Have you tried anything like that?
MICHELLE: No, I haven’t tried anything like that. My neighbor down the street told me to poke little holes in the ground and put bubblegum in there. And they might be confused thinking it might be a grub or a worm and they might not want to come back. I was trying to do something where I wouldn’t hurt them but they’re really hurting my yard.
TOM: That’s right. It’s really simple. If you eliminate their food source, they’re going to go try to find it somewhere else. So, the grubs are the food. If you eliminate the grubs, you’ll eliminate the moles.
MICHELLE: OK. Well, great. Then I’ll have to give that a try.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with the hot weather and some areas of the nation seeing water shortages, some homeowners are wondering how to avoid having their yards turn into a dead, dry wasteland. Well, it’s possible to preserve and maintain your lawn, even through dry spells, and still have a beautiful yard.
TOM: Yep. So here’s a few tips to get started.
It all begins with the soil. Now, you can add an amendment to your soil so that the plants don’t need nearly as much water. That’s just a fancy word for something you mix into the soil to improve it. If you’ve got, for example, sandy or gravelly or decomposed granite kind of soil, you can help it hold water and nutrients by adding some well decomposed materials, like compost or manure or peat. But if you’ve got a soil that’s got a lot of clay in it, you can improve the aeration, which is also important, and then add something that’s more fibrous, like composted wood chips or peat moss or straw.
LESLIE: Next, it really helps to understand your soil’s pH. Now, pH controls how available nutrients are for a plant to use. The ideal soil pH is usually considered to be 6.5. Now, you can add lime to raise soil pH and sulfur to lower it. For about 20 bucks, you can get a soil test from your state’s cooperative extension service. That’s going to cover pH, as well as a bunch of other categories all designed to help you get to know the soil in your yard.
TOM: Well, exactly. Now, once you know you’ve got good soil, what you want to do next is choose plants that are a little on the less-thirsty side. You can do that by picking those that are, number one, native to your region and also able to thrive in your area’s heat zone. The native plants are more likely to withstand those drought conditions and not suffer, really, any significant damage. So, definitely stay native. Don’t import when it’s getting really hot out.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to watering, it’s really important to make sure that the water you give your plants will be as effective as possible. So you want to use drip irrigation rather than overhead watering.
Now, plants take in water more efficiently when it’s applied to their roots rather than their leaves. Watering directly at the root is also going to conserve water that you’re going to lose to evaporation or runoff during the overhead watering.
Watering towards the evening really isn’t great because if a plant sort of goes to bed wet – it becomes nighttime – there’s a really good chance that it could get a fungus disease just from having too much moisture in the root system. The sun in the day really helps sort of keep that water where it needs to be and in use for the duration of the day. At night, it just kind of sits there.
You want to also make sure that you water deeply but infrequently. A good soaking once or twice a week really is all you need.
TOM: Now, here’s a kind of an important trick. You know, if we get drought conditions and if your lawn turns brown, you would naturally think that maybe the lawn has died. The truth is it has not; it has just gone dormant. But it’s really important that when it does go dormant you do not walk on it, because it’s very fragile. If you don’t walk on it, you just let it sit there in all of its brownness, once the rain comes back or you can start watering again, it will sort of re-green and continue on its merry way to grow to the point where you’ve got to drag that lawn mower out again.
But if you walk on it and sort of tramp it down, that will damage the plant. And that’s going to take a whole season to come back. So, try to stay off it when it gets really hot out and it will come back very, very quickly.
LESLIE: Now I’ve got Nancy in Arkansas on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?
NANCY: Calling on behalf of my mom and she has an older home. And there – she has a lot of – she has a popcorn ceiling. And she has a lot of cobwebs and stuff. And I’m just wondering, what would be the best way of removing those to eliminate as much debris falling in the carpet and that sort of thing and to give it a fresh look?
LESLIE: Well, I think with a popcorn ceiling, number one, you’re fighting the texture. So everything kind of wants to get stuck up there.
So, first off is I would start with one of those Swiffers that look like a feather duster, just to get all of that dust and that – the cobwebs down so that you’ve got a clean surface. And if that looks OK, then you might want to stop there.
You can’t really clean a popcorn ceiling because the way you remove a popcorn ceiling is to spray it with water and then you scrape it off. So if you try to clean it with any sort of cleanser or moisture, you’re going to start to disintegrate the popcorn and make that come off, if it’s truly a popcorn ceiling and not a textured stucco or something like that. So I think once you get the spiderwebs and things off of it, you might be better off just painting it and giving it a fresh coat to just sort of freshen up the ceiling space a little bit.
But if you do decide to paint the popcorn ceiling, you have to get a very specialized roller. It looks like a – it’s a foam roller that has a spiral cut to it. And that will open up to sort of accommodate the popcorn-ceiling texture. If you use a regular roller, it’s going to paint it and then pull the texture off. So you have to be careful in your application. But that’ll do a great job of freshening it up.
NANCY: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever had a leak during a rainstorm and you can’t find the source, we know it can be really frustrating. But there are a couple of tricks that we can share to help you narrow it down.
TOM: First, most roof leaks, well, you’d think they’d come straight through the shingles but they don’t. Instead, they usually come through the places where different roofs intersect, as well as places where stuff comes through your roof, like a plumbing vent or a chimney. So you really want to start your inspection there.
And when I say inspection, you don’t have to go on the roof. Most of this work can be done from the ground using a pair of binoculars or a camera with even a telephoto lens. Anywhere you can get a close look at these areas is the place to start.
Very often, I will grab a binocular or a camera with a long lens and look at the chimney flashing. And if it’s separated or pulling away from the chimney, I don’t have to be on the roof to find that. You can see it from the ground.
LESLIE: Now, if the leak still isn’t obvious and you’re comfortable and competent climbing up on your roof, you can check for leaks by wetting down the roof with a hose and then having a helper in the attic below look for those leaks. Now, if you go with this method, it’s important to work your way from the lowest section of the roof to the highest instead of that entire roof at once. This way, you’re going to be able to spot the leak and narrow down the area it’s coming from.
And remember, don’t blast water under the shingles because if you do that, you can actually cause leaks to happen. Also, remember not to stand on the wet parts, because you don’t want to slip. Roofs, slipping, water, all terrible.
TOM: Yeah. Only do this from the roof if you’re really confident working in a space like that. If not, hire a pro.
Now, if you do find a leak, no matter how small, you need to repair it as quickly as you can. The repair complexity is going to vary based on the problem. And in many cases, you may need to hire a roofer to get it done just right. But remember, many times we have unfortunately heard of roofers trying to turn small repairs into a major roof-replacement project. You rarely need to replace the entire roof if you’re just dealing with one leak like that. They mostly can be fixed. So, don’t think that you’re always going to have to go for a big, complete roof-over when you’re just dealing with one leak in one location.
And you know what? If you still have questions, you can always reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Joe in Iowa wants to talk decking. How can we help you?
JOE: Well, I’ve got a small problem with my decks. They’re pressure-treated lumber, about 18-year-old decks. One faces north and one faces south. And I watched a neighbor – they’re getting – both are getting bad. And I watched a neighbor use one of those products where you paint it on and it’s supposed to renew or restore your deck. I watched them pressure-wash it twice and dry it and buy the special applicators with two coats. Over the winter, one winter, it started peeling off.
TOM: Yeah. I heard that time and time again. It looks good in the store but it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick. And you get this really thick coat of – I think they call it a “restorer.” It just peels right off. It’s like the worst peeling paint project you’ve ever seen.
So, Joe, have you thought about doing sort of a deck makeover where perhaps you keep the structure but you replace the deck boards with composite or something like that?
JOE: That’s what I was wondering. I’ve seen where they’ve got these thinner composites you just put over the top of your boards, where they don’t stand up, or just take all the deck boards off and put all new composite boards on.
TOM: First thing I would do is I would do a thorough inspection of the structure, because we don’t want you to put – do anything to this if it’s not structurally sound. It’s got to be well attached to the house. The floor joists have to be solid without major cracks or shifting, properly reinforced, properly braced. You know, if this thing is rock-solid and the structure is good, then you could proceed. I would remove the decking boards because there’s no structural integrity to the decking boards. I would pull the decking boards off and I would put simply composite right on top of that.
Lots of great choices out there in composite. You can take a look at the composite products made by Veranda at The Home Depot, for example. Really good stuff. Goes on very easily. And once that’s down, you’ll never have to worry about a split, a crack or picking up a paintbrush again.
JOE: Or getting a splinter in your foot when you go out to check the grill.
TOM: Nope. That’s right. Not at all. Yeah. And they have some composite components for the railing system, as well, if you want to go that far.
JOE: That’s what I was wondering: what’d be the best line to go with.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a lot of choices out there but I – it’s kind of personal preference but I’ve worked with the Veranda products, which are made by some of the same manufacturers that make the more name brands. And they work great. So take a look at those and go from there.
JOE: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Remember, there are a couple of ways to get in touch with us. You can post your question at MoneyPit.com and that is what Carl did. Carl is in Massachusetts and he says, “We recently moved into a new home and one of my first jobs was to install a dishwasher. My problem is the dishwasher has developed a foul odor. We have cleaned and sanitized the washer several times. Still is quite stinky. Did a mess something up during the install? Help me make my wife happy.”
Well, OK. How can we turn that down, Leslie? It sounds like he’s dealing with what we call “biogas,” right? I mean these are little, tiny bits of food that get stuck inside spray arms sometimes and then they decay and then they can have an awful odor. And they can also form on the backside of the rubber seal around the door.
But I would look to see if you could disassemble the spray arm. That’s usually what does it. These spray arms have little ports in them and sometimes, they get clogged and they get gross. You’ll see a black gel or a goo that comes – sometimes will attach to them. You’ve got to flush that all out. Just use super-hot water, soak them in a solution of water with a bit of bleach. And make sure you thoroughly wipe down those door seals with a bleach-and-water solution, as well. And that ought to help you out a lot.
There’s also a product by Glisten, I believe, that’s a dishwasher sanitizer that you can put in and run it through a cycle empty. And it does a pretty good job of cleaning some of those spaces you may have missed.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Sylvie in Kansas posted a question. Now, she writes: “Is it OK to paint over wallpaper? The previous owners of my home put wallpaper straight on the drywall with no primer, which is making it really difficult to remove. What’s the worst that could happen if I do paint over it?”
TOM: I don’t know. What’s your two cents on that? I helped out a friend of mine this week. His mom’s house was going to be sold and she had used wallpaper on half the rooms in the place. And I’m like, “Oh, man, it would be nice if you could just paint over it, because taking the wallpaper down in half the rooms in a house is a monstrous job.” What do you think?
LESLIE: I don’t know. I don’t like painting over it because I feel like, eventually, the glue behind the seams is going to give out and it’ll start to peel. I don’t think the seams ever really go away when you paint over it, even if you were to tape or spackle or do something to kind of hide it. It’s not going to be a long-term fix. And then, when you want to eventually remove the wallpaper, it’s a heck of a lot harder.
I think it’s worth it to go for the elbow grease and get the paper down or put another layer of drywall over it. You’re going to be so much happier with the end result when you take the time to do it the right way. I just – I’m not a fan of painting over it. I think it’d be bad.
TOM: The other thing, though, is if you are going to take this down, my gosh, don’t do it without renting a steamer. A wallpaper steamer is the only way to go. You’ll have the best chance of loosening up that adhesive if you use a wallpaper steamer.
There’s also a little tool called a “paper tiger” that you roll over the surface and it puts these tiny holes in the paper. That helps that steam get behind the paper. So you roll it and perforate it with the paper tiger. Then you use the steamer to try to separate it. And maybe you’ll get lucky; maybe it won’t be so terrible when you use the right tools to get the job done.
LESLIE: You know, a friend was asking about removing wallpaper and they kept saying, “I get the paper claw.” And I said, “You mean the paper tiger.” And they go, “Nah, I got a knockoff one.” It made me laugh so hard.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of this summer day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas to maybe have a little less perspiration when you try to tackle those inspirations.
If you have questions, don’t get frustrated. Write us, call us – 888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7 – or post your questions to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com.
Until next time, 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.)