In this episode…
Having a hard time maintaining a lush green lawn in the heat of summer. Tom & Leslie share you need to know to make it past the brown and back to green.
- Are cooling costs driving up your electric bills? Get tips for low cost to no cost ways to keep you cool during these hottest days of the summer season.
- If you’d like your home to feel open and airy but don’t have the budget for a major remodel, we’ve got smart tips to help open up the space without emptying your bank account in the process.
- For all the cutting-edge design ideas out there, most of us still follow unwritten design rules. We’ve got ideas for shaking up status quo and making big design statements.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home projects. Whatever you need to get done to take your home from house to home to castle, we are here as your team. We’re here to help you make the best decisions to get this done, to take the right steps, to get the right materials, to save you time, save you money, save you hassle and make sure it all comes out good on the other side. We’d love to have you participate in that because this is a participation show. Call us, right now, with those questions. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, coming up on today’s show, we are officially in the hottest part of the summer. And if you find that your lawn is having a hard time keeping up, turned a bit brown, good news is that’s probably OK if you know how to protect it. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make it past the brown and back to the green, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, are cooling costs driving up your electric bills? We’ve got tips for low-cost to no-cost ways that you can keep your cool during these hot, hot, super-ridiculously hot last few days of summer.
TOM: Plus, if you’d like your home to feel open and airy but don’t have the budget for a major remodel, we’re going to have some smart tips to help you open up the space without emptying your bank account in the process.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you working on, trying to get done before Labor Day, trying to get done before the fall weather hits us? Which we’re all going to be so thankful when it’s not so stinking hot anymore. So whatever you are working on, let us know so we can help you get it done right.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Plus, if you do give us a call, we’ve got some tools to give away to one lucky listener. We’ve got a T50 Staple Gun and a T25X WireMate, both made by Arrow Fastener, worth about 50 bucks going out. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Illinois is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
MARY: I want to paint a fireplace that’s brick and just want to know if there’s – if you can do that, first of all, and if there’s a certain kind of paint you need to use.
LESLIE: Has it been painted before or is it natural brick?
MARY: No. It’s natural brick – original brick.
TOM: Well, you certainly can paint it but I would think very carefully before you do this. Because once you paint, you have to repaint eventually. And fireplaces tend to get very dirty and very smoky and they’re hard to keep clean. If it’s just the color that you don’t like, there may be some ways to sort of decorate around that color. But I would really hesitate to tell you to paint it.
We get a lot of calls from folks that are not happy with a painted fireplace and they want to know how to do the exact opposite, which is get the paint off. And once you paint it, it’s just really hard to do that.
MARY: OK. I was kind of worried about whether it would peel or – when you say just to – you just have to keep repainting because of …
LESLIE: Well, paint, over time, is going to crack and dry out. And it will get so dirty, just from the exhaust and the use of the fireplace, that you’ll get sort of that haze around the upper portion of it regardless of what type of screen you have.
Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that since this will be its first time being painted, the brick is so porous that you’re going to put a lot of time into priming, because it’s just going to absorb all of that primer. And you want to get a good-quality primer, you want to make sure that you brush in the grout lines, roll on the surfaces of the brick, brush again. So it’s a lot of steps. It can be done.
But as Tom said, if you want to take that paint off, it’s now a chemical stripper. And because that brick is so porous, it’s going to have sucked in all of that color and so it’ll never get back to that original brick look again. It’ll have that sort of hue of whatever color it was.
MARY: Uh-huh. OK. OK. Great. Well, thank you for your help. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Illinois is on the line and working on a kitchen makeover. What can we do for you?
BOB: Oh, we’ve got kitchen cabinets – they’re probably close to 30 years old – and we’re wanting to remodel our kitchen and I’m wanting to strip them down. And I was just wondering what was the best way – what to use to do it with.
TOM: Well, the good news is that 30-year-old cabinets are usually very, very well-built. You can’t really strip down a 10-year-old cabinet, because they pretty much fall apart. But if it’s a 30-year-old plywood cabinet, you can definitely strip it.
Now, what do you want to do after you strip it? Do you want to paint it or do you want to go with a clear coating?
BOB: I’d like to go with a clear coating on it. Maybe put a pecan finish on it or something.
LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Are they just stained or are they painted?
BOB: No, they’re just stained.
TOM: It’s hard to change the color of a stained cabinet. I’m just telling you just be prepared for that. But what you might want to do is use a good-quality stripper. Rock Miracle, for example, is a good one.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, another thing that’s good to do is head over to your local mom-and-pop paint shop, because sometimes there are newer products that are out there.
I was just getting some wallpaper paste but in that section, there were some really nice paint strippers. They apply a little differently, they go on more easily, they work more quickly. So I always just pop into the shop to sort of see what they’ve got in there that they’ve worked with.
But Tom and I have both used Rock Miracle and I like that because it goes on more like a paste, so you can really see where it is, you can see it start to work. And I guess it depends on how much stain is on there, how dirty they are.
I would start by giving them a good cleaning. Then make sure they’re dried very well, then put the stripper on them. Follow the directions. And you’re going to want to use a wire brush and a paint scraper. And that’s going to get that finish off of there.
Now, it’s important to work on them on a flat surface, so take all the doors and drawer fronts off. Label them as you take them down, with a piece of tape on the back side of the cabinet door and one on the cabinet box itself so that you know exactly where things go. And leave the hinges on the box sides so that you can have the doors flat. These are things that are just tricks of the trade that will help you be more successful.
And if your doors are full overlay – are they or are they not?
BOB: Are they what now?
LESLIE: When your cabinet door closes, do you see any of the cabinet box around it, like a frame? Or does the door cover it?
BOB: Yeah, it does; it flushes up against the frame of the cabinet.
LESLIE: So, that’s a blessing and a curse. Because then you can ignore the box or you can also work on the box while it’s in place, to strip that down, as well. And in that case, the Rock Miracle is really good because it’s really thick, so it’ll stay on in a vertical position, as well. So, those are some good things.
And you may have to apply it more than once, depending on how well-adhered your stain currently is. I mean you’ve really got to see. And then keep in mind that depending on the species of wood, the type of color that you might get from the stain that you’ve selected to go on there might be a little different. So you might want to work on a back side or a smaller area, just so you can see how it will react and what color you’ll actually end up with.
BOB: Thank you, then.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Nebraska where Dan is on the line with a mold situation. What’s going on?
DAN: So I put up a pole building three years ago, and it’s a 48×36 and 10-foot side walls. And I finished off about 700 square feet on the inside and sheetrocked it, put R30 in the ceiling, R19 on the walls. And it’s got a 4-inch slab concrete base to it.
And this spring, I went out there and I had mold all over everything. And I don’t know what’s causing that. The first two years I never had a bit of problem.
TOM: Well, it’s been a very wet year. Now, you have no heat in this building, I presume?
DAN: I heat the bathroom, which is about 8×10, during the winter here in Nebraska. And the rest I don’t heat.
TOM: Well, look, mold needs three things to survive: it needs moisture, it needs air and it needs food. And all those things are available in that pole building. Your walls are made of drywall, I presume?
DAN: Yes, sir. Sheetrock. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah, right. Drywall, yeah. So the paper facing, that is terrific mold food. And you have moisture there and you have plenty of air and you’re not heating it, so the humidity is always pretty high. And that’s why you’re growing mold. So, you need to at least ventilate that building if you’re not going to heat it, to keep moving the air through it so it doesn’t – the humidity doesn’t become quite as high. But at this point, if you’ve got all that mold, that has to be treated.
DAN: Yeah. And I’ve done that. I’ve gotten that all out of there, right now, but I – and I put a dehumidifier in there just to …
TOM: OK. Well, that will help.
DAN: And it took me 2½ days and I got it down to 30 percent, so it came right down. Do I need to seal the floor? The concrete floor in there?
TOM: I don’t think that that’s necessarily the cause of the problem. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to seal the floor but I think that this is just a condition of the fact that you’ve got a damp building there with no central heating system, with plenty of drywall, plenty of moisture and plenty of air. So, just because of the conditions, the mold is going to grow.
Now, there were other ways that you could have constructed these walls. For example, there’s a product called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall that’s specifically designed not to grow mold, because it’s not organic. But with paper-face, in an un-heating building like that, I’m not surprised that it grew. Well, I am surprised it took two years but it might just be that it was just so moist this last year that it really took off.
DAN: How do I go ahead and vent that, though?
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would probably have a fan in there that was based on a humidistat so when the humidity got really high, that it would kick on and draw air out of that building. Kind of like having an attic fan but on a humidistat instead of a thermostat, right?
That plus the dehumidifier should help you keep the moisture to a minimum.
But keep an eye out for mold because once it gets started, then it really can take off quickly and it sounds like that’s happened in this case. So if you catch it sooner than later, you’re going to be much better off.
DAN: Yes. I want to try to eliminate it completely, so I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. And when you do find the mold, when it gets there, you make sure you treat it properly so that you kill the mold spores. Don’t just try to scrub it off, because it’ll come right back. You’ve got to treat it to kill the mold spores, then clean off the rest.
Alright, Dan? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
What are you working on this warm summer weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in the right place. Give us a call with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, we’re going to give you the chance to win a great set of tools from our friends at Arrow Fastener.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got up for grabs the Arrow T25X WireMate and Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, plus staples. I mean the T50 is America’s best-selling staple gun, and you will have this tool for pretty much your entire lifetime and then anybody else’s lifetime that you’d love to give it to them. They’re so well made and these are two of the handiest tools, I think, to have sort of at your home because you’ll find tons of projects, whether they’re creating something from scratch or repairing something that you’ll be able to use these for.
And if you head on over to Arrow.com, there’s a whole project section there where you can look up a ton of different things that you can be doing with your Arrow tools. So just a really great resource anyway but we’ve got some tools up for grabs.
TOM: You know, one of the projects I was looking at this week is they’ve got the step-by-step on how to do a home movie screen for those backyard screenings.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s so great.
TOM: Very fun. So check that out at ArrowFastener.com. Click on Projects.
LESLIE: We’ve got Rebecca from Kansas on the line. What can we do for you today?
REBECCA: We have a room that has the old wood paneling in it with the grooves and such that we’d really like to not remove it. But is there some way we can get the drywall look without putting up drywall, with putting on mud by hand or splattering it and kind of doing a knockdown? Or would it stick or – what do we need to do?
LESLIE: Well, I feel like whatever you put on top of it, whether you fill it with mud or you use something to make the grooves go away and then try to smooth out the surface, you’re going to get so much movement from the walls, just in general. Not that your house is moving but it does. And it gets a lot of movement just from people walking by that none of that’s going to stick in there. And it’s going to end up falling off and looking weird and you’re going to have to do it again.
So, my suggestion is either embrace the paneling look, as far as the grooves, and paint it to give it a different effect or put a ½-inch drywall over it.
REBECCA: If you painted it, would you have to put some kind of a primer so it’ll stick or would you need to do a light sand on it or …?
LESLIE: Yes and yes. You want to make sure that the surface is clean, obviously.
LESLIE: So if there’s anything sticky or gross on it, you want to give it a good cleaning. You could use something like TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s a good wall-prep product. Or you can give it a light sanding. But if you give it a nice – if there’s a sheen to it, you may want to give it a light sanding but not necessarily.
And then I would use a really good, heavy-duty primer: something perhaps like a B-I-N or a Zinsser; something that’s hard-core that’s going to stick to anything. And then let that dry and once that’s done, you can go ahead and put a latex topcoat on it.
REBECCA: OK. If we elected to do the ½-inch drywall, we’d just treat it like a normal drywall: tape it, put the mud on and sand it and paint it.
LESLIE: Absolutely. The only thing to consider is that any electrical outlets – your boxes, things like that – are going to have to be pulled out a little bit.
REBECCA: Oh, we’re going to have to bring them out.
LESLIE: Yeah. Trim, as well.
REBECCA: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve ever watched your lawn fade from luscious green to sort of a wheat-field brown during these warm days, you might feel like there’s nothing that you can do to stop the destruction. But that brown grass does not automatically mean your lawn is dead; it more likely means your lawn is dormant. And if you take a few steps or more importantly, don’t take a few steps, it will come back very quickly.
LESLIE: Yeah. I think this one people would be like, “What?” We’re telling you not to mow the lawn so much, guys. Definitely cut back on the mowing because that’s going to help your summer grass survive. It’s best to keep the grass a little bit longer in the height of the summer heat. Cutting it too much can actually cause that grass to lose more moisture from the cut tips.
Now, if your lawn is healthy, you can allow your grass to go into a semi-dormant state by cutting back on the watering and then not worry so much that it won’t come back to green in the cooler weather.
TOM: One thing I’ve learned about the height of the lawn is that the taller lawns actually create shade for the base of the plant. So, if you cut it down to where you’re seeing the dirt, you have no more shade. And therefore, it has a much greater chance of being completely dried out and could die.
Now, if you’re not facing water restrictions, you want to remember to water very early in the morning. Give that lawn a chance to dry. That’s going to discourage any problems with bugs and diseases.
For more tips on summer-lawn survival, read our post, “7 Tips for Healthy Lawns in Hot Summers.” It’s on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Peter in Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?
PETER: Well, I’m having trouble with my soil stack at my house, the vent – the main vent – going out. In the wintertime, it freezes solid and I don’t know what to do about it.
TOM: Let’s see. Tell me about the structure of your house. So the soil vent goes from your bathroom, up through your attic into – though the roof and out?
PETER: Correct. And it’s a two-story house. It’s very well insulated. I have R-32 walls and R-83 ceiling and I have double walls in my house. And the attic is vented along the ridge and it also has gable vents.
TOM: And is it freezing over it, across the top of the vent?
PETER: No. It’s down a little bit and my vent is up high. I got it about 4 feet down from the peak of the roof and it stands about 4 foot up from the roof.
TOM: I wonder if you were to insulate that soil pipe, whether it would be warm enough to prevent the freezing from forming down deep in it, if you were to insulate it right up to the point where it exits the roof.
PETER: I thought about that. I did that for our vent that’s over the stove, because I thought of the heat going up through there might condensate with the cold metal. So I did insulate that. So I was thinking maybe that would work. I don’t know.
TOM: I would. That’s a really easy thing to do. I would definitely think about giving that a shot. Because the moisture that’s getting out there is obviously a lot of water vapor. And if we can keep that pipe from freezing, the less chance you’re going to have to get that ice buildup. And then probably what happens is you get gurgle-y pipes because you’re not getting any air out of it. Things don’t flush right and all that.
PETER: Exactly. Yeah, we’re concerned about it. And everything is heated, you know? Our toilets are hot water.
TOM: I would try that. I would insulate it. It’s a very easy thing to do and you’ve already got a terrifically insulated house, so why not just extend it up the other side of the roof?
PETER: Yeah. Alright. Thank you very much. I’ll try that.
LESLIE: Valerie in Washington is on the line and has a question about outdoor décor. What’s going on?
VALERIE: I have a simple railing on my front porch and it’s cedar. Part of it’s stained to keep it from deteriorating, so it’s orange-colored. And the rest is just naturally-aged cedar-silvery. And I want it to be white to match the rest of my trim. So, there’s two different colors and do I do an undercoat – a primer? And is it oil-based? And can I get a stain – a pure-white stain – for it?
TOM: So, you probably can. What I would suggest is a two-fold approach. I would prime it first and then I would use a solid-color stain, because I think that will give you the sort of more natural look that you seem to be looking for. But you should prime it and then apply the solid-color stain.
Now, because this is off-color orange, as you describe it, if you don’t prime it, you may get some of that that comes through. That’s why I want you to prime it first. You’d use an exterior-grade primer and you’d use a solid-color stain. If you buy both the primer and the stain from the same manufacturer, you can be sure that they’ll work well together.
VALERIE: OK. Does this matter if it’s oil-based or not?
TOM: I would probably recommend an oil-based primer, only because you’re going to get better coverage over that darker color. But in terms of the stain itself, that could be latex-based.
VALERIE: Oh. OK, then. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it and I enjoy your program.
TOM: Well, thank you very much, 888-666-3974.
Well, if you’ve been feeling your A/C is running overtime in your house, it just isn’t getting as cool and comfortable as it could, you may be right because right now, there’s a lot of things that happen in terms of wasting energy. And you don’t sense it because it’s wasted cooling energy. In the winter, we always feel like we’re wasting energy when you feel drafts in the winter through the windows. But in the summer, you just run that A/C 24/7 and you don’t really see that as a big waste and it really is. Just take a peek at this month’s electric bill if you don’t believe me.
LESLIE: Now, there are a few things that you can do to not only cool off more quickly but cut those costs, as well.
Now, to keep the heat out, here’s some things you can do. You can increase your attic insulation, you can use drapes and blinds on the windows that get a lot of sun in and you can consider upgrading your roofing and your windows.
Now, you can also keep the cool in. And to do that, you need to seal and insulate those cooling ducts in the attic and seal gaps, cracks, any leaks that you find around your home. Also, keep your cooling system efficient by properly maintaining it every year and close off vents in any unused rooms. And finally, why not add a ceiling fan here and there to help keep that cool moving around the space?
TOM: Yeah. And make sure that ceiling fan is pointed in the right direction, because they’re all reversible. There’s a little switch on the side. And in the summer, you want them to pull cold air up and in the winter, you want them to push warm air down.
If you want some more ways to stay cool and save energy, go to ENERGYSTAR.gov. They’ve got great tips and advice on how to do just that.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Randy from Maryland on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?
RANDY: I just put a brand-new deck on the back of my house. The house was actually built in 1988, so it’s good and settled. I just wondered how soon I could treat it. I’ve heard two months, three months. I’ve heard a whole season. I don’t want to wait too long but I don’t want to do it too early.
TOM: Randy, what’s the material the deck is made out of? Is it pressure-treated lumber or cedar or redwood? What?
RANDY: Yeah. It’s pressure-treated lumber.
TOM: OK. So what I would do at this point is I would wait until next spring. Let it be exposed to the environment for a while. It is true that the lumber, when it first goes in, is very moist. And by waiting maybe six months in your case, you’re going to find that it’s going to dry out a bit. And it’ll be ready to sort of take a stain better than taking it right now. So I would certainly let it sit for a while and then stain it before next summer, when it gets sort of cool and dry out.
And then in terms of the stain itself, I would recommend that you choose a solid-color stain. It will still show the grain through but it’ll have more pigment in it and it’ll last longer. Does that help you out?
RANDY: I think so. So basically, say, wait a full season then?
TOM: Yeah. I would wait a full season and then I would stain it after that.
TOM: Thanks, Randy. I hope that helps you out. We appreciate you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And if you do give us a call, we’ve got some tools to give away to one lucky listener. We’ve got the Arrow T25X WireMate and the Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun. Both great tools to have on hand for dozens and dozens of projects. That T50 is America’s best-selling staple gun. It’s been around for generations. I know that I proudly use the T50 that was my father’s and it – the thing just keeps going and going. It doesn’t wear out. It’s very, very dependable.
So we’ve got one of those and the WireMate to give away to one lucky caller, plus staples. So give us a call right now. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tammy in Arkansas is on the line and is having an issue with the bricks on her home. What’s going on?
TAMMY: OK. I’ve got a home that sits on a concrete slab. They’re made out of the cinder blocks. And the cracks are beginning to crack on the outside and the inside. And somebody told me to use concrete with it and I’m wanting to do it myself. So what do I need to do to seal those cracks?
TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to use concrete, because concrete is not going to fill cracks very well. Are we talking about sort of hairline or fairly thin cracks here, Tammy?
TAMMY: Well, maybe a ½-inch. They’re kind of separating there but they’re separating into seams of the block.
TOM: But you really think it’s a full ½-inch? That’s an awfully big crack.
TAMMY: Well, you can put your finger up to it. It’s pretty deep. You can see on the outside and you can see on the inside.
TOM: OK. Well, listen, if you’re getting that kind of movement in the wall, you need to have this looked at by an expert. I would have a professional home inspector or a structural engineer look at it, because that’s a huge crack in the building. A ½-inch crack is really big if it’s pulling apart. That means that the house is sliding apart at that wall or settling on one end of the building, causing that to crack. And I would like to know why that’s happening.
Are those cracks new or have they always been there?
TAMMY: No, no, no, no. They just started, because the place was built in 1969.
TOM: Yep. You’ve got to get to the bottom of it, Tammy, because there’s something wrong with the house for those cracks to occur like that.
Now, you’re not talking about mortar that fell out, are you? You’re talking about physical cracks; all the mortar is still there. It’s just separated.
TAMMY: It’s just separating. It’s all it is. The mortar is still there.
TOM: Yeah. I would – here’s what I would do, Tammy: I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. Find a certified home inspector in your area or have a structural engineer look at it, get their recommendations and then you can take it from there. If the cracks are that big, I want to stop the building from moving before we begin to think about sealing them up, OK?
TAMMY: OK. OK. I sure appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, while older homes have charm and character, the thing that they often lack is an open floor plan and some things that more and more modern families are looking for. So, the good news here, guys, is that you don’t have to stick with the layout that’s offered in your older home.
TOM: Now, one way to create an open feel in a very closed-in space is to build a pass-through between rooms. It’s not a DIYer first-time project. It involves a lot of knowledge and a lot of tools. But start with the most important thing first: determine if the wall can be opened up by figuring out of it’s a load-bearing wall.
Now, if possible, go to a floor below, perhaps into a basement or crawlspace, and look at how the floor joists are running. They’re either going to be parallel or perpendicular to the wall. If they’re perpendicular, that wall may be load-bearing, so you need to get an expert to help if you’re not sure. If the wall is load-bearing, you can still add a pass-through. But I’ve got to tell you that the level of complexity goes up, because you have to support the weight that’s on top of that wall before you reconfigure what’s below.
LESLIE: Yeah. So maybe best left to the pros.
LESLIE: Now, if the wall is not load-bearing, you can cut out a pass-through. But before you do go all in, it’s smart to do some exploratory surgery first. You’ve got to see what’s going on in those walls.
TOM: A little wall surgery. See what’s there, yeah.
LESLIE: So, first, you want to figure out where this pass-through is going to be and trace a template so that you can see exactly where it’s going. Now, try and line up the template so that the left or right side starts on a stud. Now, this is going to make that framing a lot easier. If you’ve got a room and can lay this out so it’s in between the studs, it’s even better because you’re not going to have to frame anything around that opening.
Next, you’ve got to make sure that you turn off all electrical circuits on that wall and then go ahead and use a reciprocating saw, cutting only through the thickness of the wallboard. So you’re not going into the studs just yet. You want to get the drywall off in the shape of your pass-through. Does that make sense?
TOM: Yeah. And the reason you do that is because it’s really hard to patch a small section of drywall. It really always shows. So what I try to do is only cut away the drywall I absolutely have to and sort of work within that open area to kind of frame in around it. It’s totally possible to do that. And this way, you’re not doing a lot of patching. Now, once you see the inside, it’s a lot easier to double-check that, of course, it’s not load-bearing and that you don’t have wiring in the way.
And then once you frame it all out, put a little sill there, you’re going to find that that kind of a thing just really opens up the room. And if you happen to extend it so it overhangs on one side, you can even have room to pull up a little barstool or something and have a little breakfast area. So it’s a really good way to open up a space and provide that sort of visual distance so you’re seeing right through the wall. And it really makes the whole thing feel that much bigger.
LESLIE: Patrick in Wyoming is on the line with a question about cracking drywall. Tell us what’s going on.
PATRICK: I have a recurring problem with cracks in the walls. And I’ve spackled them four or five times and I’ve spread the spray rubber sealant over them and they just keep returning.
LESLIE: And when you’re talking about cracks on the wall, do you mean by the door, by trim work, by windows or smack in the middle of the wall?
PATRICK: Both. I have one by a front door that keeps recurring and then I have one stair – going down a set of stairs.
TOM: Well, by the stairs is pretty typical because you get a lot of movement and by doors.
LESLIE: And the front door, too.
TOM: Yeah, a lot of movement in that space. So, I think he’s just not fixing it right, Leslie.
LESLIE: And the issue is, Patrick, whatever you do to fix them, it’s not a once-and-for-all thing. Because you’re dealing with movement that continually, over time, could eventually lead to whatever you’ve used to fix that crack to dry out. So, there’s got to be a way to fix it.
PATRICK: Yeah, the hardware store sold me this rubber-spray compound that’s supposed to flex and give with the wall. And it doesn’t seem to work. I’m just wondering what’s the best solution. Paneling?
LESLIE: No, I’ve never used a rubber-spray compound but what I have done, in areas where I have a crack or any sort of seaming, instead of using a paper tape like you would do when you’re putting two sheets of drywall together, I use a fiberglass tape. And it looks almost like a sticky mesh. And you use that to go over your crack and then you put the compound over it and feather it out.
Try to make it smooth and then let it dry and sand it. And you do a couple of applications of that, allowing it to super dry, sand it smooth, add another layer. And that does the trick because that fiberglass tape that’s sort of mesh-y looking does its best to span the crack, spread the surface over it and makes it adhere much better than you would with a paper tape or no tape at all. And that should give you a much longer time.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Don’t forget you can post your questions online, just like John did who writes: “I have a leak from my ceiling in my hallway below a rusted air duct. I had the rusted duct removed and replaced. Then just a couple of months ago, the drips started again just as it did before. What do you suggest?”
TOM: From this description, Leslie, it seems to fit the pattern of a condensation leak that’s caused simply by the warm, humid air striking that cold air-conditioning duct. You know, it doesn’t always happen but given that it’s been such an extraordinarily warm summer, it’s happening a lot. So I think it’s surprising folks.
What you need to do here, John, is you need to get up in that attic space, right above the ceiling, and insulate those ducts. I would insulate all the ducts. Make sure that they are completely surrounded by insulation because there, if you do that, you’re not going to have that warm air striking the cold surface, you’re not going to get the condensation and you’re not going to get the leak.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, John. Good luck with it.
TOM: Well, for all the cutting-edge design ideas out there, most of us still follow some unwritten design rules: those things that someone, at some point, decided we should never, ever do. Well, sometimes breaking the rules is a necessity. Leslie has got ideas for shaking up that status quo and making some big, bold design statements, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, I feel like a lot of people sort of get stuck on these old design rules. They’re like, “Oh, well my parents did it. So I should do it, also.” But that’s not true. You’ve got to break these rules sometimes.
And here’s a good one: neutral colors. You’ve got to use them in small spaces. Only neutral. Even if bold colors can make a space seem smaller at times, the illusion of having a bright, bold color in a small room or even a bright, bold wall covering in a small space is outstanding and definitely creates a room that’s eye-catching and interesting and sort of becomes a showpiece. So there’s ways to have fun in those smaller spaces.
Now, somewhere, somebody said, “Your master bedroom has got to be a serious space.” Well, get rid of that rule, too. Fun décor can give you something exciting and inspiring to wake up to and then it brings out the kid in all of us. So I’m not saying go cutesy but have fun, be playful, use color, use interesting textures. Do something that seems a little bit out of the ordinary to make it have some fun.
Now, when it comes to hanging artwork, are you like, “Ah, I’ve got to hang it at eye-level”? Well, think again. You can lean a frame or a canvas, of the right size or even smaller, from staggered heights on the floor. And that gives you sort of an art-studio vibe. And then really play around with the different heights, different types of images and sort of layer this in certain areas of the space. And that’s super eye-catching and interesting.
And who said chairs have to match? I mean everybody loved the show Friends and I don’t think they ever had a chair that matched. So you can mismatch chairs in dining rooms. You can do a bench on one side and matching chairs on the other. You can mismatch chairs in a seated room. Maybe do the same frame with different fabrics. There’s so many great ways to mix and match that I don’t want you to be afraid.
Definitely try to do some of these fun things. And if you’re too nervous to actually just do it to start, look at some pictures online, cut things out, put them together with one another. Get fabric swatches, get paint swatches until you feel that comfort level. And then go for it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, kitchens are the one place in the house where most of spend a lot of time. And if you’ve ever felt like the kitchen cabinets are dated, drab and dull, it might not always be your favorite room. The good news is there are options for getting a new look without spending a lot of money. Kitchen cabinets can be replaced, refaced or just refinished. We’ll sort out the best options for your situation, 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.
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