In this episode…
Kitchens renos can be costly but updating dated, drab and dull cabinets doesn’t have to be. Tom and Leslie walk you through options to replaced, refaced or just refinish kitchen cabinets and save a ton of money!
- Plus, concrete is a pretty permanent building material but if yours looks pitted or cracked, we’ve got a great solution for resurfacing concrete that you can do yourself with amazing results.
- Now that we have reached September, it’s a good time to make sure your gutters are ready for the fall season ahead. We’ll walk you through the step by step and to make sure things keep flowing smoothly.
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 working on as we roll towards the end of summer? There must be a project or two on your to-do list, because that’s why we are here: to help you get those jobs done. If there’s a project you’d like to tackle, you don’t know where to start, you don’t know if you should do it yourself or go with a pro, if you’re stuck in the middle give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to help get you going again.
Coming up on today’s show – you know, Leslie, I was talking to a friend this week who told me he and his wife were planning to replace their concrete driveway with asphalt. Which I mean they’re both nice driveways. But let’s face it, I think concrete driveways are a lot nicer than asphalt. And so I was kind of wondering why he was going to do that. And he said that the surface was worn, it was pitted and he kind of got tired of looking at it. So, I gave him a driveway solution that he totally didn’t expect and now he’s keeping the driveway. It looks fantastic. And I’ll tell you what did the trick, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. Can’t wait to hear it.
And guys, kitchens are the one place in your house where most of us really do spend an awful lot of time. But if you ever feel like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab, even dull, it may not always be your favorite room to be in. Well, the good news is that there are options for getting a new look without breaking the bank. Kitchen cabinets can be replaced, refaced or just refinished. We’re going to help you sort out those options.
TOM: And now that we’ve reached September, it’s a good time to take a good look at your gutters. They are key to more than just keeping water from overflowing. If yours are in bad shape, there are a few serious structural problems that can result.
LESLIE: Alright. But first, guys, we want to know what you are working on. How can we help you get ready for the fall season and of course, the winter behind it? We want your money pits to be in top shape as everything starts to cool down. So give us a call.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to the phones. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Hi, Fred. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
FRED: I have a standard toilet. House was built in ‘29, so it’s, what, 80 years old? It’s the type where the tank hangs on the wall and then you have an L and then you have, I guess – what do you call that? The bowl?
And it started to leak and so the old metal was pretty corroded and everything. So we took everything out. We took the tank off the wall, we – I say we, that I, the plumber who I’ve been using for many years – cleaned everything up. Went to the hardware store that handles these kind of fittings and we just cannot get this thing to work. It leaks.
TOM: Where does it leak? Does it leak at the – where at – the base of the tank where the pipe connects?
FRED: In both, yeah. Well, one time we did it, it leaked at the bottom of the tank. The other time, it leaked when it went into the bowl.
TOM: What kind of a washer are you using? What kind of a gasket or seal are you using in those two places?
FRED: Well, I don’t know the technical names of it. The guy at the – they look like the same stuff we took off. I’m a musician; I don’t know all these things.
TOM: Well, this shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish and it sounds like whatever they’re using in that gasket space right there is not working. And look, if all else fails, you can simply use silicone here. You could apply the silicone in – as you put this together, you could – you seal all of those joints with silicone. Let it dry. Try not to touch it until it dries. And then you can take a razor blade and cut off the excess, nice and neat, and essentially make your own gasket.
FRED: Yeah, the plumber mentioned something. He said the only thing is if that thing fails and I’m not home, I’m going to have a house full of water.
TOM: That’s true. But the thing is, if it – once it works, it usually works continuously. It’s not – it doesn’t usually fail. If you get it right, it’s not going to fail, OK?
FRED: Yes. So, in other words, unless I can see some chips or damage on the porcelain or something like that, which I don’t see, it should work.
TOM: But I would take it apart and I would seal, with silicone, each connection as it goes together so that you end up with a good compression of silicone around that. That’s the solution, OK? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stephanie in California is having a heating-and-cooling issue. Well, specifically, a cooling issue in the bedroom. What’s going on?
STEPHANIE: Oh, we don’t know. Right now, we live in a four-bedroom house. Every room in the house, except for the master bedroom, gets cool in the summer. We have not done a winter yet. This bedroom – the master bedroom – is at least 5 to 7 degrees warmer than any part of the house.
TOM: OK. Well, there could be a number of reasons for that. First of all, what side of the house is it on?
STEPHANIE: It would be on the south side of the house.
TOM: The more sun, the more cooling you need. So it’s not unusual for a room on the south or the west side to need more cooling power.
So let’s talk about what you could do to try to improve this. First of all, I would check the airflow at the registers to make sure you’re getting good airflow at all of the A/C registers. In some cases, systems can be balanced so that they supply more air to one room and less air to another.
Just as important is to check the return registers, Stephanie, because not only do you have to push cold air into the room, you have to pull the air back so it can be recooled. If you don’t have a return in the bedroom itself, it’s going to be a central return, like in the hallway, perhaps, outside of the bedroom. If that’s the case, you want to make sure that when you close the door of the bedroom, that there’s at least a 1-inch gap under the door. Because that’s how the air gets pulled back and again, recirculated.
Other things that you can do would be to increase insulation over this particular room. So if there’s an attic access above, for example, you could double up the insulation over that and that would also help to keep it cooler.
So I would speak with your HVAC professional, initially, to try to get the balance working a little bit better. And then if that doesn’t work, think about adding some additional insulation. And if that doesn’t work at all, the other thing that you could do is you could add supplemental cooling to that.
I have a room, for example, in my house where I have a split-ductless system because it happens to be on the west side, in my case, and it overheats. It’s far away from the air conditioning-system supply and so I never quite get enough cooling air into this one room to make it comfortable. So we have a split-ductless system in there that supplements it.
So those are all good options to help even out the temperature of that room in the house. Stephanie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got James in Massachusetts on the line who is having an issue with an unruly couch.
What’s going on, James?
JAMES: About 20 years ago, I bought a beautiful, wooden couch stained a nice, dark walnut color. And where you sit on it were cushions that were covered in a fabric.
LESLIE: Were they loose cushions or were they attached to the frame?
JAMES: They were not attached to the frame; they were loose. The frame is quite beautiful. You’d walk all the way around the couches. It’s probably best seen from behind, where you can see the structure of the wood. It’s a very nice couch. But after about 16 years, the cushion fabric wore out so I had this brilliant idea that I was going to cover the cushions in a faux leather.
And now, four years on, I find that the cushions stick to the wood. Somehow, the faux leather – Naugahyde, whatever it might be – is leaching the stain right out of the wood. The rest of the wood, where the cushions don’t touch it, is still as beautiful as it ever was. But where the cushions touch it, now it is all tacky. It does not transfer onto the cushions themselves. I can touch the cushions and they do not feel sticky. Is there a solution besides taking this thing down to bare wood?
LESLIE: It’s possible. And that’s probably because of the same reason you’d see it in the kitchen, which is moisture. Not saying that the cushions are wet but because the cushions have a texture to them that is also smooth – if that makes sense? You know how leather or even artificial leather, when you sit on it, it gets warmed up and then you kind of stick to it? I feel like you’re probably getting the same thing, just in the area where you’re getting the contact from the finish to the actual fabric itself.
Now, what you could do, if you are committing to a specific side of the cushion that will always be the top, you could sew something almost like a canvas or a moleskin or something on the bottom that gives it more movement but is also more of a breathable fabric. The only issue is it might come sliding off. But it won’t stick.
JAMES: Oh, that’s an excellent idea. So, half the cushion would be fabric and the part that’s touching the wood?
LESLIE: Right. The bottom side would be a fabric that’s more of a backer or a base, like a canvas or a duck cloth.
JAMES: Now, these are – not only is the bottom cushion but also the back that touches wood, as well. So, fabric all the way where it touches the wood. Is there anything that can salvage the finish of the wood without just taking it down to bare wood?
LESLIE: Do you find that when you have the cushions off for some time that it sort of re-solidifies or re-cures or no?
JAMES: No, it doesn’t. It remains tacky, although I have to admit I’ve not tested that out for a great length of time. I mean like a month or something.
LESLIE: It might be worth it just to do – not to take it all the way down to bare wood but to get something like a liquid sander. It comes in a bottle. You’ll find it in any home center in that paint-and-stain aisle.
And then just put that on. You sort of brush it on or wipe it on in the area and just let it have a little bit of tack to it. And maybe just then hand-sand it a little bit with a sanding sponge and then just apply your stain or your finish to that exact spot or do that whole railing. It sounds to me like you have a slatted back and a slatted seat, perhaps. So I would just do the boards that have the issues to it, not the rest of the frame.
JAMES: Sounds like an excellent idea. So, liquid sander and fabric on the back of the cushion.
LESLIE: It’s worth a shot.
JAMES: Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wendy in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WENDY: I have a mobile home. So there’s no attic space. And recently, I had a leak in my roof, in my bedroom, and it started out just a water stain on the ceiling. It’s approximately 12 inches wide, 24 inches long.
But here, recently, in the past few weeks, it looks like it’s growing mold. It’s a spot about the size of a dinner plate that – it’s real dark, black mold. So I’m concerned that it may be black mold and I don’t know if – is there something that I can do to fix this with primer or paint and maybe bleach or something to kill the mold? Or is it something – am I going to have to replace the sheetrock in the ceiling?
TOM: Well, first of all, do you think that you’ve dealt with the leak? That there’s no longer a leak there?
WENDY: Well, I have a metal roof and I think what has happened is the rain became a really, really bad storm and it was blowing all different directions. And I think the water actually blew under – it blew up under the metal on the roof. I don’t think it’s actually a leak, because I haven’t ever had any more problems.
TOM: Alright. So here’s what you need to know: if your ceiling gets stained like that from a leak, you can’t just paint over it because the stain will come through. So what you have to do first is you have to prime it. So get an alkyd-based primer or an oil-based primer – water- or oil-based, it doesn’t matter – and paint over that spot. Then once you’ve painted over with the primer, then you can paint – put the finish coat on top of that. But the primer has to be done first.
If you’re concerned that it’s mold and you want to make sure it’s not, then I would take about a 15- to 20-percent bleach solution – so maybe 1 part bleach, 3 parts water, something like that; you can make it a bit stronger – spray it down in that moldy area, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then clean it off. And then proceed with the primer and the paint.
WENDY: OK. Like I said, I’m concerned I can’t see the other side of the sheetrock because there is no attic space.
TOM: Well, right now, it’s a fairly small spot, so let’s just deal with that and then move on. I wouldn’t make a bigger problem out of it just yet. If we think the leak was a one-time situation, so now we just have to deal with this. It’s most likely a leak stain that you’re looking at and not mold.
WENDY: I’m pretty sure it’s mold. It’s one spot. It does look fuzzy-like. It’s a white …
LESLIE: There is a product called a 5-Minute Mold Test and it’s actually a swab within almost like a little tube-y thing and you just swab the area that you think is mold and pop it in there. And you’ll actually get a reading within five minutes telling you if it’s mold.
And I think – does it also tell you the type of mold, Tom?
TOM: I think it might and they have a consulting service, too, that they’ll follow up with you on the result and tell you what they recommend you do about it.
WENDY: OK. Well, great. That certainly helps. I’ll give it a try.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve got a worn out or a cracked or just a generally kind of yucky-looking concrete driveway, walkway or a patio – that yucky is a technical term; I just want to make that clear.
LESLIE: It’s highly technical.
TOM: It may seem, at first, that the only option you have is to totally tear it out and replace it. But that is not the case.
So, my buddy had a concrete driveway that was cracked and it was spalled. Spalling is where the surface kind of wears off and it usually happens …
LESLIE: So you see a lot of the aggregate?
TOM: Yeah, you start to see the stone. And usually, it happens because of the rock salt that they use on the roadways. Because he wasn’t really using any kind of corrosive salt in the winter at his house but it drips off the car. So, wherever you are, if they’re using any kind of corrosive salt, it’s going to drip on your driveway. And anyway, the surface had just kind of worn and it was really looking nasty and his wife was kind of bugging him about it. She didn’t like to look at it, either.
So, he was ready to tear it out and go with asphalt. I said, “Wait a minute. The concrete is structurally sound. It’s got a few minor cracks and that surface, we can fix.” And I told him about that new QUIKRETE product called Re-Cap. Pretty amazing stuff. It sticks to concrete like crazy and he was able to put a whole new surface on it in literally one day. And now it looks fantastic. Saved him a bunch of money and he’s still got the concrete driveway.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, Re-Cap is a great solution if you want to renew any sort of old or worn-looking concrete patios, sidewalks, even driveways with a permanent, wear-resistant surface at truly a fraction of the cost to replace it. It’s a DIY-friendly project. You just mix, pour and then spread the concrete resurfacer over that surface, as long as it’s cleaned with a 3,500-PSI pressure washer. And you should let it dry out, too.
TOM: Yeah. And the key here is Re-Cap’s uncanny ability to bond to the old concrete. It’s actually four times stronger than the concrete itself. This means that whatever you have resurfaced with Re-Cap – whether it’s a patio, a sidewalk or a driveway – it’s going to last a really, really long time and you won’t have to replace it.
So, good stuff. Highly recommend it for all of those yucky concrete surfaces.
LESLIE: Kathy in Arizona is on the line and needs some help cleaning the garage. What can we do for you?
KATHY: Well, we bought this house last fall and the garage floor is, I’m sure, grease from the cars but I don’t know how to clean it up. I’m just wondering if I can do that myself or if I’ve got to hire somebody to do that.
TOM: I think you can do it yourself. What you want to do is pick up some trisodium phosphate. It’s known as TSP. You’ll see it in the hardware store or paint aisle of a home center. Mix that up into a paste-like consistency and cover the area of the stain. Let it sit for a while and then wash it out. Now, old oil stains are among the most difficult to take up but it will brighten it up a bit.
And if you want it to be cleaner than that, what I would do is I would wash the floor, let it dry really well and then paint it. You could use an epoxy painting – garage-floor painting system. It’s a two-part epoxy that’s chemical-cured. So you mix the two parts of the paint together, you apply it to the floor, then you wait an hour or two and it basically hardens right up for you. And then it’ll be a lot easier to clean after that.
KATHY: OK. So I can still put that epoxy over if I don’t get all this grease up?
TOM: No. Once you clean up the grease, as I mentioned, you may – it may – the grease may be up but it might still be stained. And if you wanted to make it look nicer, then you could paint it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Because the beginning part of this kit is usually like an etching compound that sort of prepares the floor to receive the coating. So if you can just get the actual grease off, even though the stain is there, it’ll prepare it so that it will adhere to it.
KATHY: Alright. OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: So, Leslie, I’ve got this new line of products I’ve been checking out from Sunday. It’s at GetSunday.com. They make non-toxic lawn-care products. And I love it because they ship you exactly what you need. You go to their website, put in your address. They actually instantly find your house in all of the – from all the satellite services across the country.
LESLIE: It’s really cool. You put in your address …
TOM: Scary cool, right? Yeah.
LESLIE: And you’re like, “Wait a second. That’s my house. Oh, wait. I told you that was my house.”
TOM: “There’s my kids playing in the backyard.” You know what I mean? It’s like …
LESLIE: “There’s my house.”
TOM: But it’s really cool because they can figure out the lawn coverage, so you don’t have to measure it. And then they send you exactly what you need to dress up your lawn.
And this summer has been so hot, I’ve been browning out a lot. So, I put it on about two weeks ago now, actually, and it’s really starting to brighten things up. It looks really good. It’s getting that fresh, green look all over again.
So, they’re giving our listeners a $20-off coupon, too. If you go to GetSunday.com and you enter promo code MONEYPIT, you’ll get 20 bucks off. So, I recommend you guys check it out because I’m pretty impressed with this company. They’re really doing it right. And again, non-toxic products.
When I used to have a lawn service, they would put those little flags that say, “Keep pets off the lawn,” for so many days and things like that. Not with this stuff. Pets and kids can play on the lawn immediately. There’s nothing there harmful. Totally non-toxic and it works really, really well.
LESLIE: Well, new kitchens are expensive but restoring older cabinets so they look new isn’t. Now, as long as your cabinets are structurally sound – you don’t want them dented or delaminated or anything like that. But if they’re in good shape, they’re a good candidate for refacing or painting. So, let’s talk about those options.
Now, kitchen-cabinet refacing, that involves replacing the doors and the veneer on existing laminate or wood boxes. And it’s really a job for a pro but it truly is less expensive than getting brand-new cabinets. And the quality of the existing cabinetry and the new materials applied also will impact the end product. So if you have really solid original cabinets, this truly could be a great option for you.
TOM: And a lot of older cabinets, actually, are built far better than newer ones, so that’s why that is such an attractive option.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure.
TOM: I love those old birch cabinets. They don’t look so great but man, they are rock-solid.
Now, in addition to refacing, you could also simply refinish or paint. And it’s becoming more popular now than ever before. I love the fact that there are so many new cabinet designs that are based not on just a clear finish and a beautiful wood tone but to a nice white or a Colonial Blue or a beautiful color like that.
And you can take those old cabinets that were maybe stained and paint them. Or if you want to restain them, you can. But the first thing you need to do is just kind of check the structure, make sure they’re good-quality cabinets so you can sand them without anything happening, like them falling apart or you cutting through a really ridiculously thin veneer or finding that it’s delaminating and you have some other issue to deal with.
But once you get them sanded down, you can prime them. And I do recommend you use a type of primer called a “high-bond primer.” Basically, it means it sticks really well. High bond – in other words, it bonds to the surface perfectly. And then I would use an oil-based finish or a solvent-based finish for the topcoats, only because it’s basically more durable, it’s harder, it doesn’t chip as easily.
And you can redo all of those cabinets, literally, in a weekend or two. What I would suggest you do is take all the drawers out, take the cabinet doors off and basically paint the boxes separate from the doors and the drawers. And again, make sure that you sand them well, you prime them properly. And you can have a beautiful, new kitchen without nearly the expense of reno-ing all those cabinets.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? Once that’s done, you can even go further and give the cabinets a little bit more pizzazz. Add some new hardware. Think about a different finish. It’s OK to mix metals: brass and that sort of brushed bronze. It’s really beautiful in a kitchen space and I think it sort of modernizes it. So you can actually take a more traditional cabinet and put a more interesting hardware on it. And suddenly, it’s a completely different look in addition to the new color or the new face on it.
So, don’t stop with just redoing those cabinets. Really give it that next step.
TOM: Excellent advice.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where David is on the line. What can we do for you today?
DAVID: Yes, thanks for taking my call. I just had my 120-year-old house sided with new vinyl siding. I got relatively new vinyl windows. And I’m curious, do I caulk between the J-channel and the window frame on the outside?
TOM: No, you don’t have to.
DAVID: OK. That’s not necessary?
TOM: Nah, it’s not necessary. It should be watertight the way – if the installers put it in correctly, it should be watertight as it is. If they need – if it needed to be caulked, they would have done that. I know it looks like there’s a big gap there but that’s pretty typical. And you generally don’t have to caulk between the back of the J-channel and the side of the window.
DAVID: Yeah, I was just worried about if it rains from a certain angle it’s going to wick down through that gap and then run behind the siding?
TOM: Usually, that’s pretty tight and it won’t happen. I mean there’s no reason you can’t caulk it but I don’t necessarily think you have to do it.
DAVID: OK. That’s all I wanted to know.
TOM: OK. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tom in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?
TOM IN NEW JERSEY: We have a problem here. We have double-pane windows and the seal broke in one of them. And I was wondering if I could repair it myself by using clear caulk around the entire perimeter when the window becomes clear, as it sometimes does. If that does not work, would I make it – this will go for a professional to replace the window – the entire window – by doing what – you know, the caulking job?
TOM: So, what’s happening here is you have a thermal-pane window and the seal, which is called “swiggle,” deteriorated and let moisture in and that’s why you have the fogging. And the reason that sometimes it fogs and sometimes it’s clear is because it really depends on what the temperature is inside and outside and whether it’s got condensation there or not. It can’t be repaired, as you’ve described.
Could you try to seal that when it happens to be clear? Would that have maybe some minor effect? It could but I just don’t think you’re going to stop it and I wouldn’t even bother trying with it. Your choices are to either live with it – because the good news is that while it’s unattractive, it doesn’t significantly impact its energy efficiency – or you could replace the window or just the glass itself.
But I think if you were to order new glass for that window, you may find it to be almost as expensive as doing the window itself. So, I would probably tell you just to live with it or replace the window. But to try to – to caulk it, I don’t think it’s going to have any impact whatsoever.
Actually, that’s a great idea, though. No one’s ever asked me that question, so kudos for the effort. 888-666-3974.
Well, fall is ahead and now is the time to take a good look at your gutters, because they’re actually a really important component that could prevent serious structural problems from starting. And I think that gutters don’t get appreciated enough for this but we’re going to walk you through the best options for new and improved gutters, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, gutters perform one duty and that’s controlling the water around your home. But if gutters are missing, disconnected or clogged, you could be facing major and expensive home repairs.
Now, not managing the water around your home can cause flooded basements, cracked foundations and sidewalks, leaky roofs and even lead to wood-destroying insects finding a meal in your home.
TOM: Yep, that’s right. So when you’re picking out new gutters, the most common types are vinyl and aluminum. Now, the vinyl gutters are going to range in price from around 4 to 8 bucks a linear foot. And the least expensive vinyl gutters can be very thin, so they can sag and become brittle in extreme temperatures. So, you might as well pay a little bit more for better-quality vinyl gutters.
Now, these gutters also tend to leak more than aluminum gutters, so you may be facing some frequent repairs. So while they could be potentially a bit easier to install because they’re more sectional, there are some downsides to it.
LESLIE: Now, aluminum gutters tend to be much more durable. They’re going to range in price from $6 to $12 per linear foot but they’re going to stand up to so much more.
Now, aluminum gutters are installed by pros who will custom-build a single gutter for each roof section and then plan for the appropriate amount of downspouts, to make sure that those gutters don’t back up during a very heavy rainfall.
TOM: Yeah. And the fact that they can back up, that’s what leads to all the structural problems. Because if you think about it, you get wet basements, you get flooded foundations, you get slippery sidewalks, all sorts of bad things. So, really important to keep them in good shape.
Now, once the gutters are installed, they do need to be kept clean. The do-it-yourself gutter cleaning is simple enough but it can be a dangerous job for the untrained weekend warrior. So in the alternative, there are many types of gutter-guard systems on the market to choose from. And all of them offer some sort of protection for your gutter, at varying costs.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Find top local pros, book and even pay for over 100 everyday projects with clear, up-front pricing on the HomeAdvisor app. To get started, download the HomeAdvisor app today.
Linda in Ohio is on the line and needs some advice on purchasing a generator. How can we help you? By the way, great idea.
LINDA: Is it possible to use a generator when you live in an apartment?
TOM: So are you talking about what kind of generator – like a portable generator or a standby generator?
LINDA: Maybe some standby if my power goes out.
TOM: So, for an apartment, you have to understand that a standby generator or a whole-house generator is something that’s permanently installed, Linda. So the answer would be no. That said, you could use a portable generator but of course, you’d have to run wires – extension cords – from the generator itself into the house. So it’s not very convenient.
There is something called a “transfer switch” that can work for a portable generator where it’s kind of like having a mini-electrical panel inside. But again, it’s something that requires some installation. And generally, when it’s an apartment, you can’t do that. So, the only thing you could really do would be to have a portable generator: one that you took out of storage, put outside – because you can’t run it in the apartment – and then run extension cords in to try to deal with that short-term, hopefully, power outage.
LINDA: Wow. That sounds like it would be difficult.
TOM: Yeah. It’s not the best answer but it’s – see, because generators are something that are permanently installed into the building’s sort of core electrical system? And that’s why it’s real important that they be done correctly. You can’t – when you install these transfer switches inside, they have technology built into them to prevent what’s called a “backfeed,” so that electricity doesn’t go back through the wiring and can hurt a lineman, for example, that’s working on the power lines. So, you can’t really run it without the transfer switch and that has to be permanently installed. And the generator itself is a very big appliance. That said, a portable generator is much smaller.
Now, if you just want to power a couple of things, you could use a very small generator. Generac has one that’s called the iQ that’s 2,000 watts. That’s under 1,000 bucks and will power a fair number of household items: small appliances, lights, that sort of thing. But you have some options there. But again, you have to use an extension cord.
LINDA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Maureen in Nebraska writes: “I live in Nebraska with extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter. I have a cement patio that I would like to repaint but I’m looking for the best paint options and wondering if they make an outdoor epoxy finish. I did etch the cement before the first time. I painted it and I plan on sanding it before I repaint.”
TOM: Yeah. I mean you don’t really need to remove the old finish for concrete. As long as it’s well-adhered, you can paint over that.
Now, there are epoxy finishes that work well for patios. And it’s the same epoxy finish that you would use on a garage. These epoxy floor finishes are essentially two parts. They’re mixed together. And then once they’re mixed, you have a set amount of working time to get them applied. Usually an hour to two hours. So, sometimes you have to work in sections.
But one very good manufacturer is Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. Not a product you will find at the home centers; one you will buy online. The company’s been around forever and just really good at what they do. And they have a set of epoxy finishes that’s super durable. They also have options for different types of decorative elements that you can add to them.
The only thing that you can’t do, Leslie, I think, in a situation like this is paint one of your fancy rug patterns on it, right? To make it look like an outdoor carpet?
LESLIE: No, I think this is more of one color. Or if you’re doing a very large pattern, that’s more of a large, overscale checkerboard-type. You can’t really get super creative with these.
TOM: Right. But they’re super durable and they adhere very well, which is key especially, Maureen, living in Nebraska. You’ve got a rough winter there and that’s when that finish can really get an attack.
So, give it a shot. I think it will come out very well.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Deborah. Now, Deb writes: “I have a dog whom I cannot keep from jumping and scratching the inside of my front and back doors. They’ve been refinished twice and she continues to damage them. I would like to either refinish them again or replace them but I cannot think of clever, practical or decorative ways to protect my doors. Any suggestions?”
TOM: I guess getting rid of the dog is out, huh?
LESLIE: Right. But I wonder, is it called a “kickplate”? That beautiful piece of brass or any other kind of metal that’s sort of on the bottom 6 inches or so of the door?
TOM: Right. Yeah.
LESLIE: I wonder if that’s enough. I don’t know where her dog is sort of scratching on.
TOM: I was thinking similarly, except I was thinking that you could use a piece of Lexan, which is the really most durable type of Plexiglas, and maybe just have it cover the bottom half of the door. And attach it to the door so the dog would be scratching the plastic – the Lexan – and not scratching the door. And if it gets really scratched up, then you could just replace the plastic and the door still looks really good.
So I think we’re on kind of the same theme on that. So if we can’t train the dog – and perhaps there is a way to train the dog not to do that. But if not, you’ve got to think of a covering like that. And there’s no finish we can tell you that’s going to stand up to that kind of punishment from the dog. So I think you’re looking at some sort of a protective cover that you could add to that, Deborah. So I think something clear, like the Lexan, would work.
LESLIE: Or maybe one that looks like a cat and it’ll scare the dog away. You never know.
TOM: There you go.
You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much for spending this early September weekend with us. We hope that you’ve picked up a trick or two about a project you’d like to get done around your house. If you visit MoneyPit.com, we’ve always got lots of resources there to help with a wide range of projects around your space.
If you’ve got a project you’re planning for the future and you don’t know how to get started, you don’t know where to get started, you don’t know if you can do it yourself or not, pick up the phone anytime and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
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.)