In this episode…
Improving your bathroom is one of best ways to add value and appeal to your home. But if you think those improvements have to be costly, think again – there are plenty of ways to give your bathroom a lift without breaking the bank. We share bath updates you can get done for under $100 bucks.
- If you’re looking for more storage space, finishing an attic is a popular remodeling project that delivers a great ROI – IF it’s done right. We’ll walk you through the options.
- Entryways like mudrooms and foyers are used by every member of the family, not to mention houseguests. We’ll share cool organization ideas for getting all those shoes, umbrellas and jackets off the floor.
- Get tips on the least expensive ways to replace a bathroom floor.
- Find out how to stop a high-efficiency washing machine from vibrating across the floor.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you doing on this beautiful summer day? If you are thinking about working on your house or if you are already deep into a project, you are in exactly the right place because that’s what we do. We are here to help you, to guide you, to give you tips, ideas, inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes time to fixing up your home sweet home. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your question, your DIY dilemma, your decorating challenge, your organizational challenge, your storage challenge or your dream project to get done to your house. Whatever you need to do to make your house the best it can possibly be, we are here to help. The number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you could post your questions online at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, improving your bathroom is one of the best ways to add value and appeal to your home. But if you think those improvements have to be really expensive, well, think again. There are lots of ways to give your bathroom a lift without breaking the bank. We’re going to share bath updates you can get done for under – yes, under – 100 bucks, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you’re looking for some more storage space, finishing an attic is a popular remodeling project that does deliver a great return on investment if you do it right. So we’re going to walk you through the options.
TOM: And entryways, like mudrooms and foyers, are used by every member of the family, not to mention your guests. We’re going to share some cool organizational ideas for getting all those spaces under control. We’ll tell you what to do with those shoes, umbrellas, jackets and stuff, get them off the floor.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, they always end up on the floor.
TOM: Nonetheless. Well, at least you’ll know where to put them up when the kids drop them there.
But first, guys, we want to hear what you are working on. So give us a call, let us know how we can help you finish up your summer projects and get ready for those fall ones. We are standing by, 24/7, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.
TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.
LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?
TRACY: Probably a shower.
LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.
But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.
I would not – would not – call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.
In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?
LESLIE: They did. It was through the Home Builders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.
And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there, as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.
TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.
They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. There’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.
But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?
TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ron in South Dakota who is dealing with a bee situation. What’s going on with these busy bees?
RON: So I’m trying to repair my roof on a cinder-block outbuilding. And these bumblebees are all around and I’m having trouble. I’d like to not kill them but I don’t know. Can I do something to make them relocate?
TOM: Yeah, you can. I think what you’re talking about are not bumblebees but carpenter bees.
RON: Oh, yeah. I’m from Memphis, originally, and we had big bumblebees there and one stung me last year and it felt the same way.
TOM: Well, those are carpenter bees and they’ll bite but they don’t – they’re not as bad as getting stung by a wasp or something like that. But what they do is they look for usually the soft trim, like around a porch or a fascia or a soffit. And they’ll drill into that trim, usually from the edge grain, drill up and then they’ll turn 90 degrees and then kind of go with the grain, go in 2 or 3 inches and nest. And that’s where they’ll actually nest.
So, to get rid of them, a couple of things you can do. Of course, you can have a pest-control pro come out and they can put a powder insecticide in and around where those carpenter bees are and that will take care of the problem.
The second thing you can do is you can actually eliminate some of the wood and replace it with composite. So, for example, on my garage, I had pine fascia board behind the gutters. Started to get a big carpenter-bee problem with them, so – and actually, it had done quite a bit of damage because they didn’t get to it for a while. So I pulled the pine fascia down and I replaced it with AZEK – A-Z-E-K – which is extruded PVC. Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t taste like wood to the carpenter bees. And so they left it alone after that because there was nothing left to eat.
And so, I think you need to figure out where they’re nesting. They’re going to be drilling in somewhere. And the thing is, if you get close to where they’re drilling, you can hear them; they make noise. They kind of make a grinding noise into your porch deck or …
RON: Yeah, I think my wife heard that.
TOM: Yeah, she probably did. So I think that you’ve got a carpenter-bee problem and you can either have them treated or get rid of some of the food source, one way or the other.
RON: OK. They’re going in a small 1×3 opening in the cinder block. There’s not that much wood right there but I’m sure they’re getting into the eave. If you’re …
TOM: Yeah. I think they may be going in and out of that but there’s probably some wood somewhere in that path that they’re traveling, Ron, OK?
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Scott in West Virginia is on the line with a kitchen faucet that’s leaking. Tell us what’s going on.
SCOTT: Well, I’ve got a little problem in my kitchen. My wife is driving me crazy about it and it’s driving me crazy, also.
TOM: Alright. What’s going on?
SCOTT: Most of the time, you have a drippy faucet in your kitchen or something like that. My problem is is that it’s leaking around the handles: the hot and cold. And I’ve never had that to happen before and I’m like, “OK. Do I have to replace the whole thing or is there a kit that I can buy that – to stop this mess?”
TOM: Do you know what manufacturer of the faucet you have?
SCOTT: I knew you were going to ask me that and I thought about looking and I just didn’t. And I believe it’s Delta but I’m not sure about that.
TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you can identify the manufacturer, you can get a rebuild kit with new washers and so on for those faucets. But if you can’t figure it out, do not ever use a generic. Because if you use a generic, even though it looks perfectly, it doesn’t fit.
Now, that said, if it’s an older faucet and you replace it now, the new faucets are going to have ceramic discs – ceramic disc valves – which the older they are, the tighter they get. So they really never leak. So the technology has gotten so much better now with the way faucets are made that you might want to consider just replacing it, rather than trying to take it apart and put it back together and maybe they’ll still leak.
SCOTT: Right. It’s probably, I’d say, 10 or 12 years old, so …
TOM: Yeah. Might be due for a new one.
Hey, listen, we saw one not too long ago that actually is a touch – motion-activated that – Moen makes it. It’s called – I think it’s called MotionSense. And you wave your hand over the top of this thing and it comes on or you bring a dish sort of up to it and automatically it comes on. Or it has a regular …
LESLIE: It’s like, “Look, I’m washing your dish.”
TOM: Or like a regular faucet. Right. It’s like how many times do you walk up to the faucet to fill your cup – coffee cup – up or to rinse it out, I mean? Just by walking up to it, it comes on.
LESLIE: Or with your hands from chicken breasts, you know? It’s like you don’t want to touch the faucet.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that was pretty cool. So I think it’s called MotionSense. It’s by Moen.
SCOTT: OK. That sounds worth looking into.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Scott.
SCOTT: OK. Thanks, you guys, for the info.
TOM: You’re very welcome. And make your wife happy and replace it, will you?
LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line and looking to replace some windows. Tell us about the project.
PAT: I am going to replace some windows in an old house. And I am wondering what type of window to go with: a wooden window, a vinyl or a fiberglass.
TOM: In terms of energy saving?
PAT: That’s right.
TOM: OK. So the answer is it doesn’t much matter, because there’s a lot more to determining what type of window is going to be energy-efficient than just the material it’s made out of.
PAT: I see.
TOM: There could be extremely energy-efficient windows in all of those materials. But there are dozens of things that go into the energy efficiency of the window: not only what the frames are but what the glass is made out of, what the weatherstripping is made out of, what the frames are made out of and so on.
So what I would do is this, Pat. First of all, I would only shop for ENERGY STAR-qualified windows. Secondly, there’s a label on the glass and it’s from the National Fenestration Rating Council – NFRC label. It’s going to have a set of numbers on there. It’s going to measure stuff like how much heat gets through the window and how much insulation the window has and so on. And look at the numbers on the NFRC label and use those to help compare brand to brand to brand.
You stick with a really good-quality window, like an Andersen, just as a new replacement window, for example. It just came out: their Model 400 Series. You really can’t go wrong. But the decision isn’t just what’s the window made out of but it’s the whole package and how that impacts the energy efficiency of your home.
PAT: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, improving your bathroom is one of the best ways that you can add value and appeal to your home. But if you think those improvements have got to be costly, think again. There are plenty of ways to give your bathroom a lift without breaking the bank.
TOM: That’s right. So, start with one improvement that can actually save you some money on medical bills: safety grab bars. Add them around your tubs and toilets to keep people of any age from taking a spill.
Now, you want to go with safety bars that are 1¼ to 1½ inches in diameter. And if you’re nervous that you think it’s going to make the bedroom kind of look like a hospital, you can shop from a lot of different collections for a very customized look. There are many products out there that just look like beautiful towel bars but they happen to be rated to hold 200 pounds or more.
LESLIE: Yeah. And they really do look nice and you have to buy the right thing for that. You don’t want to just try to use any anchor; it’s not going to be the same thing.
Now, you can also change out your bathroom’s lighting. And lighting is key, especially in a powder room with no windows. So, amp up your existing wattage if your fixtures allow for it. And replace older light fixtures with new ones and you’re going to have an all-around better look.
TOM: And finally, you can help your monthly budget and save some water with faucets and accessories that are marked with the WaterSense label. It’s kind of like ENERGY STAR but it’s ENERGY STAR for your plumbing system. They can save you about 500 gallons of water every year. And when you think about the fact that your shower accounts for usually about 20 percent of your household water use, you can see that a high-efficiency showerhead can really pay off. And the cool thing is they’re designed now so they do use less water but they don’t deliver less force, so they’re still pretty invigorating.
LESLIE: Howard in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HOWARD: I built a cedar deck about 10 years ago and I cleaned it and stained it about 4 or 5 years ago. And it needs to be stained again. And I’m just wondering – when I stained it the first time, I washed it. I didn’t sand it; I just washed it really good with deck cleaner and stained it.
Now, I’m wondering if I should wash it and sand it and stain it again or if I should use a darker stain.
LESLIE: Well, you got four years out of it, correct?
LESLIE: And that’s generally – you know, with a good-quality stain on a horizontal surface, you’re going to get three to five years as a duration.
LESLIE: So at this point – and was it a solid-color stain or a sheer or semi-transparent? I’m sorry.
HOWARD: Yeah, I used a semi-transparent stain the first time.
LESLIE: OK. So at this point, I don’t think you need to sand it down. I would do the same thing. I would do a good deck cleaning, get off whatever is loose. If there are some areas that are troublesome or it seems as if the stain is doing something tricky, you could strip it but I don’t think you really need to.
And once you’ve prepped it properly, I would go with a solid-color stain at this point because you’re getting more graying, because you’ve done a semi-transparent before. And a solid-color stain is going to give you a heavier pigmentation but still allow you to see the graining through, to let the natural beauty of the wood show. But it’s going to last you a little bit longer; you’re looking at a five- to seven-year duration if everything is prepped properly.
HOWARD: OK. That’s what I want.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Howard. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Caitlin in Iowa is on the line and needs some help restoring an old bath. Tell us what’s going on.
CAITLIN: Hi. My husband and I moved into our 1917 farmhouse about a year ago. And our main bathroom only has a clawfoot tub and we would like a shower in it. So I was wondering if you had any tips on restoring the clawfoot tub and installing a shower kit.
TOM: So, you want to keep the tub, right? You don’t want to put a separate shower. You just want to basically plumb up a showerhead into that, correct?
TOM: Since it’s a clawfoot tub, if you disconnect the plumbing, then you can get that out of the house. Because the best way to refinish that or resurface that is to send it out to a company that does that. Because if you do it in the house itself, they can come in with acids and they can etch the old finish and they can add a new finish and then they can bring in heat lights and bake it on. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work nearly as well as basically sending it out to a place that’s set up to re-enamel a tub. And then you’re going to have one that really lasts for the long haul.
And after that, installing a shower kit to that is pretty much a plumbing project. Lots of places, like Restoration Hardware, have kits or you can find them online where you could basically plumb up the pipe that comes up and then arcs over for the showerhead. And you need a circular shower curtain – shower bar above it for a curtain – and all that’s easy. But the hard part is getting the tub re-enameled.
CAITLIN: OK. And how costly is re-enameling a tub?
TOM: It’s probably not as expensive as buying a new tub and it’s going to last indefinitely.
CAITLIN: OK. Well, thank you for your advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Patrick on the line who’s got a roofing question. How can we help you today?
PATRICK: I had a question about a metal roof versus a shingle roof. Our roof is about 17 years old and it’s ready for – it’s ready to change.
LESLIE: Now, is it ready to change because you don’t like the way it looks or is it failing in some way?
PATRICK: Oh, no. It’s actually fine; the shingles are fine. But I was kind of wondering about the cost benefit of spending twice as much for a metal roof versus a shingle roof for another – you know what? How long will the shingle – how long should that metal roof last? What’s the gauge of the metal? That kind of thing.
TOM: How long do you plan on staying in the house?
TOM: Forever. OK, that’s important information.
So, if you put a metal roof on this house, I think it can last, for all intents and purposes, forever. The metal roofs of yesteryear, when they were properly maintained, would easily last 50 to 100 years. The metal roofs of today will do the same thing and they can even do it more successfully because of some of the modern elements of technology that are added to it.
For example – you are in Florida? Is that correct?
PATRICK: Yes. Port Charlotte.
TOM: The one nice thing is that metal roofs have a reflective paint; it’s like a low-E paint. And they actually reflect some of that radiant heat back off of the roof. So instead of having a roof that’s like a heat collector, you’re going to have a roof that’s a heat reflector. So there’s also an energy-efficiency element to it, as well.
But I think that metal roofs last literally indefinitely, as long as they’re properly maintained. They don’t need a lot of maintenance. Of course, if there’s a storm and that sort of thing, they stand up a lot better; they don’t fly off like shingles do. And even though it’s twice as expensive, it’ll probably be the last roof you’ll ever have to put on that house.
PATRICK: If I do this $11,000 roof, will I report that to my homeowners insurance and will I get a benefit from that or no?
TOM: That’s a good question for your broker. Certainly, a metal roof is more fire-resistant. I also would look into energy – any energy-efficiency rebates. Because since it’s a low-E roof coating, you may actually qualify for an energy rebate. So I would look into that, as well.
PATRICK: And how would I look into that?
TOM: A good source is the Metal Roofing Alliance. That’s a trade association for the metal-roof industry. Go to MetalRoofing.com. And in fact, they have a section on their website about tax incentives, so they are available for metal roofs.
PATRICK: Alright. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re dreaming of the top floor of your home becoming a serene master suite, maybe a quiet home office or a getaway for the kids, an unfinished attic can become any of those things but not before you have the info that you need to make it happen.
TOM: Yep. It’s a great space to tap into when you’re looking to spread out but the first place to start your planning is with the local building code, because codes can vary by municipality, by county, by state. But most regulations require at least half of a finished attic should be at least 7 feet high and that area has to be a minimum of 7 feet wide and 70 square feet.
Now, there’s actually a rule for this. It’s called the rule of sevens. It’s got to be 7 feet high, 7 feet wide and include at least 70 square feet. And a contractor or a local building official can help you make sure the rule is applied correctly to your space and whether if it doesn’t fit, you can make a modification, like a dormer, to resolve the height issues. And that means that you might only be able to use part of the space. But if that’s the case, you’re better off finding out now than when you’re deep into the project.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Next, you’re going to have to check out the structure of the attic space itself. Now, a finished attic is going to weigh a lot more than just boxes of your off-season clothing. So, hire an engineer to inspect your house’s foundation and the framing to make sure that it can carry the extra load. At a minimum, you might have to strengthen the attic’s floor joists, which are often too shallow or maybe even spaced too far apart to actually be a finished space. So you might have to modify some things.
Alright. Next, you’re going to have to figure out how do you get to the attic. I mean you’re not going to be able to drag out a ladder and crawl up through that attic hatch anymore or bring a bed up there. So, you’ve got to figure out a better way to get up to the attic space. Now, codes are going to vary but most will require a full-size staircase.
Now, if you’re building a staircase from scratch, you want to consider a switchback layout where the stairs split in sort of two halves with a landing. Now, it’s going to need more room than a straight run of stairs but the footprint itself is often going to fit into spaces where a straight run just really can’t go. You just have to make sure the landing is large enough to maneuver furniture upstairs.
And for fire safety, you have to have two ways out: a second staircase, for example, or a window. And I know some places even require sprinklers.
TOM: And finally, you can’t forget to look carefully at the insulation and ventilation issues of a finished attic, because heat rises and this is your chance to stop it. So, if you have existing insulation, by the way, in what will now become the attic floor, I’d leave it. I think there’s no reason to take it out; that’s only going to help preserve some heat that forms from below. But you’ll need to add additional insulation to the roof structure if it’s going to be a finished space up there.
And the best way to do that, in my view, would be to use spray-foam insulation because it can go on in a thinner layer and give you better power – better insulative power. And that’s going to be a lot easier than having to create a deeper sort of rafter bay to fill with fiberglass insulation, because you need also space for ventilation.
If you use foam insulation you don’t have to worry about ventilation; it doesn’t require that. But if you use fiberglass you do; otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of moisture build up in there. And that’s going to lead to potentially rotting out the roof sheathing, which is not good. Just take our word for it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got William from Texas on the line.
William, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
WILLIAM: Well, my daughter bought a house. And the person that she bought the house from smokes cigarettes. And the house – when you walk – as soon as you walk in the door, the cigarette smell hits you. And it was basically throughout the house. And we’re in the process of trying to figure out how we’re going to get all that smell out, short of ripping the walls out.
TOM: Does the house have carpet?
TOM: Then it’s probably got to go.
TOM: You can try steam-cleaning it but it gets into the padding and everything else. The least you have to do is steam-clean it. But what you want to do on the walls is you want to paint the walls with a really good primer. And so an oil-based primer or an alkyd-based primer will seal in that odor.
Clean the walls well, use a TSP – trisodium phosphate – to wash them down and then prime the walls. If you don’t prime the walls, the odor will basically permeate right through the new paint. But if you clean them and you prime them well, that will do a – go a long way towards getting rid of a lot of that odor. That plus removing the carpet or at least steam-cleaning the carpet are the two most important things to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If you do end up removing the carpet, make sure they remove the padding, as well. And if it’s a wood subfloor, you want to paint it again with that same odor-blocking primer because that will do a lot to help with that, as well. And I don’t know if you’ve held on to any of the draperies or any other soft goods from the previous owners. Just get rid of them or really have them cleaned well.
WILLIAM: OK. That will work. I appreciate your answer.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got – calling in from Money Pit territory, we’ve got Diane from New Jersey who’s got a question for heating up a home.
Diane, how can we help you?
DIANE: Yes and thank you. I love your show. And I think I realized most people, when they call their house a “money pit” – even though that’s a bad word.
TOM: Well, for us, Diane, it’s a term of endearment, you know? We love our homes, even though they can be money pits. And we’re here to kind of help take the pain away.
So, how can we help with your house? What’s going on?
DIANE: Well, my mom is 89 years old. And every year, she’s cold and she doesn’t want to put on the heater because – higher because it’ll take too much money. So, I got determined. And last winter, I insulated – it’s a split-level home. So I insulated the basement and I painted the walls – the cement walls. And yet she’s still cold. So I’m wondering, what is it?
TOM: Well, how much insulation do you have in the attic of Mom’s house?
DIANE: There is a plank where you walk. And on either side of the plank, it is insulated. It was done by a modular-home company, so maybe it’s not the best.
TOM: Because here’s the thing: if you’re going to pick one space in a house to insulate, you need to pick the attic. Because heat rises and that’s where you get most of your heat loss.
TOM: So, I would take a look at that attic. And in New Jersey, you need to have 15 to 20 inches, easy, of insulation – of fiberglass insulation. So I – most homes need additional insulation. And you can add that by adding unfaced fiberglass batts. Not with the paper or the foil type of face but just plain, old, raw fiberglass batts. And you lay them perpendicular to the insulation you have right now.
And that’s the single, most effective way to reduce your heating costs and improve your comfort.
TOM: OK? Good luck, Diane. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, entryways, like mudrooms and foyers, are used pretty much by every member of the family, as well as your guests. And it’s a big job for a small space, which is why most of them become a really big mess.
LESLIE: I mean they get messy super fast. I can’t even believe how one second they can be organized and the next second, it’s just like a whirlwind went through there and everything’s all over.
So, think about having the right organization products and those can really help you to keep that space more tidy. For starters, you’ve got to look up. There’s a lot of extra space that you’ve been looking for and it’s on your walls. Now, wall hooks are great for getting coats and purses off of the ground. And shelves, higher up on the walls, you can use to store some off-season stuff or maybe in a little basket of just the correct seasonal items. This way, at least they’re there but out of sight.
TOM: Well, that’s right. But hooks don’t work for junk mail and for sunglasses, which is where cubbies come in. I think cubbies are just one of the best storage options ever. You can have one for every family member. You’ll not only get all those odds and ends out of sight, you’ll know who it belongs to, as well. And the kids seem to take well to that because in a lot of schools, that’s how they sort their stuff when they go into the classroom. In cubbies.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s familiar. They’ll know to put stuff in there.
Now, I think one of the biggest headaches of a mudroom is stuff that you drag in on your feet. Mud, dirt, rain, foliage from outside, all of that stuff comes in with you on your shoes. And you should always take off your shoes the second you walk in the door. I think we’ve all learned this with COVID. You can bring in so much dirt and bacteria. So just get those shoes off immediately and then you can have a rack there that might let you hang those shoes upside-down to dry. That’ll keep the mud and the water off your floor, plus you can also spray them with a disinfectant just to make sure you’re not getting any extra yuck in the house.
TOM: Yeah. Or you could just have a bench, with built-in shoe storage, that’ll keep all those shoes totally out of sight and give you a place to sit down while you are changing them on and off.
You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT but also post your questions at MoneyPit.com, which is exactly what Rachel did.
Rachel says, “We’re remodeling our laundry room, which is also our guest half-bath. The laminate wood flooring – is laminate wood flooring safe under a washing machine or is ceramic tile better? Expense is an issue.”
First off, Rachel, laminate wood flooring – I just want to clarify that there is laminate floor, which is not wood. It’s actually made of laminate plastic and it has a core that’s moisture-proof – or moisture-resistant I should say – the laminate’s adhered to. And then, of course, there is wood flooring and then there’s engineered floor.
So I’m not quite sure what kind of flooring you have. But if it’s laminate, that would be the most cost-effective way to go. And in terms of being under a washing machine, yeah, it should absolutely be a good choice for a laundry or a bath. And it can even be installed on top of old ceramic-tile floor if that’s already done. Just make sure that you do install an overflow pan under the washing machine to protect the floor from floods. This way, if the washer were to leak, it doesn’t become a giant hassle.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I think we’re continuing the laundry-question posts here.
Andrew writes: “The manual for my high-efficiency washer says that I need to reinforce the floor. What does that mean? Is it a new subfloor and how big of a job is this?”
TOM: I’ve heard this before, Andrew, and it really does puzzle me. I mean I can’t imagine any appliance manufacturer trying to encourage its customers to reinforce the structure to hold something that’s so common as a washing machine. Now, I will say that the difference between an old washing machine and a high-efficiency machine is that they spin a lot faster. And what happens is the balance becomes a big issue. It’s always been important to have a washing machine be level. When it’s high-efficiency, if you don’t have it perfectly level, it will vibrate. And if it vibrates, it will walk, it will wobble, it will come with sort of – set on its own path across your floor.
So, if you’re having any issues with that, there’s a really easy thing that you can add and it’s simply called an “anti-vibration pad” or “anti-vibration block.” They come in sets of four. They have a little, recessed area for sort of the foot of the washing machine. And you get it as level as you can and you slip one of these little blocks underneath each one of those feet of the washer. And it helps to absorb any vibration in the machine. And I’ve seen it kind of completely eliminate the walking situation, even in a situation where you have an old house and the floors are like really out of whack, so it’s kind of hard to get them to be exactly level no matter what you do.
But these anti-vibration pads work really, really well. I actually, when I took my full-size washing machine and dryer and decided to stack them – so now I’ve had to lift the full-size dryer on top of the washer to save space – I went ahead and put those anti-vibration pads under it, even though I didn’t have to. And it actually made it quieter, too.
LESLIE: I’m sure.
TOM: You don’t get things like wobbling and banging, you know, and rattling when the machine is spinning. So I highly recommend them. Not very expensive – I think like 15, 20 bucks – so definitely worth doing, as is the expense of making sure you have a good-quality overflow pan to protect yourself from any leaks.
LESLIE: Good luck with all of those projects, Andrew and Rachel. Hopefully, you guys will have some nice, fancy, new laundry rooms happening super fast.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your summer day with us. We hope that we’ve given you some tips, some ideas to help fuel your next home improvement project. If you’ve got questions, you’d like to talk through a task to get done around your money pit, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-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.)