In this episode…
Adding flooring to your attic can make it a perfect place for storage. But doing so the wrong way means that you could weaken your structure, squash your insulation, or find yourself with one foot planted firmly through the ceiling below! Tom & Leslie share tips on attic flooring that works well.
- Wouldn’t it be nice to have home experts available by phone or chat whenever you need them to walk you through a project? We tell you about a new subscription service that puts knowledgeable, impartial experts just a call or click away to give you the answers you need.
- With all the recent summer storms, did you need to have a tree or two taken down? What about the STUMP? We’ll share 4 easy options to make it disappear.
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: Hey, are you in the midst of a home improvement project? Are you kind of stuck? Don’t know what to do next? Don’t know if you should do it yourself or you need to get some help? Well, we are here to pick up the slack, give you some ideas, some direction, some tips to help you save money, save time, save hassle and get those jobs done. Help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about attic flooring. You know, adding the right flooring to your attic can make it a great place for storage. Then we do a lot of sort of shifting of stuff as we move towards fall, right? We get rid of the summer stuff, start to pull out the winter stuff and the fall stuff. And if you need a floor in your attic because you don’t have enough space, that is awesome. But if you try to work on this floor and you do it the wrong way, you could weaken the structure and squash your insulation and find yourself with one foot planted firmly through the ceiling below. We don’t want that to happen, so we’re going to have some tips for you on how to install attic flooring that works and works well.
LESLIE: Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to have home experts available whenever you need them, to help walk you through a project or maybe help you find a pro to get that job done?
TOM: Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that what we do?
LESLIE: Well, yes and no.
We’re going to talk to you about a new subscription service that puts knowledgeable, impartial experts just a click or a call away to help you get the answers that you need.
TOM: And with all the recent summer storms, did you have a tree or two taken down? Well, what about the stump? We’re going to share four easy options to make it disappear.
LESLIE: But most importantly, we are here to help you with all of your home improvement projects, your décor projects, your planning projects. Whatever it is you’ve got in mind for your money pit, we are here to lend a hand. So give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ed in Delaware is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
ED: I’ve got a house built at about 1950. It’s masonry brick and there’s about a 1-inch air gap between the inner part of the masonry and the drywall. No insulation. Obviously, I want to insulate that but I have a couple of questions around it. One would be since it’s a true masonry house, it’s not bricks over a stud frame. It’s brick.
ED: The joists rest in pockets in the brick. If I put insulation around there, am I going to have rot problems on the end of a joist?
TOM: How are you going to insulate the wall?
ED: With a low-pressure foam.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Well …
ED: Or such was my thought.
ED: It’s very rough in there, so I don’t think I can do any kind of blown-in insulation.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right, yeah. You don’t have a whole lot of space.
I’ve got to tell you, typically, believe it or not, those spaces are not insulated where you have that just very narrow space in a brick wall. And what folks typically concentrate on would be insulating the attic extra well, so to speak. I mean having 15 to 20, 25 inches of insulation in the attic is actually far more effective because that’s where most of the heat loss occurs.
To your original question, whether that will contribute to any degradation of the joists that are sitting in pockets, I doubt it. But I just don’t think you’re going to get much of a return by trying to insulate that space, because you don’t have that much cavity to insulate. And it means the amount of R-value you’re going to get in there is going to be pretty small to begin with.
ED: That’s true. Part of the issue – and I can solve this by sealing the basement and the attic, which I haven’t gotten completed yet – is that there’s literally a breeze that blows up and down there depending on the direction that the wind blows.
ED: So, at the very least, I want to close that off so I don’t get air infiltration, for example, through the few plugs that are in the outer wall.
TOM: Well, that makes sense. I think that’s a good idea.
ED: But I was thinking, even if I can only get an inch in there, that’s an inch versus nothing.
TOM: If they’re not rotting now, I don’t think it’s going to happen when you insulate it. You’re not going to be doing anything that’s going to contribute to any moisture there. I just think that if you were to seal those drafts from below and focus on insulating in the attic the areas you can get to – I don’t feel like you’re going to get a lot of return from what’s left, which is just this very narrow space in that exterior wall that’s solid masonry, otherwise.
TOM: So why not do it in stages? Why not just do the – seal the drafts first and see what happens?
TOM: Because the hardest part of this is, obviously, getting into that wall. But if you seal the drafts and you find out that maybe you don’t have such an issue anymore, you will have saved yourself a lot of aggravation.
ED: Well, that is true, particularly since the wall is open at each joist. So I’d have to cut into the ceiling and seal that anyway, otherwise I would be insulating the floor, which does make it …
TOM: Right, exactly. That’s a lot of work, so I would hit in stages and see what the result is.
LESLIE: Joan in Massachusetts is on the line with a mysterious radio crackling that could be connected to an LED light. What’s going on at your Money Pit?
JOAN: Oh, I’m so happy to talk to both of you. I learn so much from listening to your show every week, so hoping you can answer my question.
TOM: Well, thank you.
JOAN: I’m going to be moving into a house and I had an electrician install Lotus Super Thin LED lights in my ceilings, in four rooms – actually five. And then they’re tied into Ariadni C•L 150-Watt Lutron Dimmer Switches. And when I turn the radios on in any of those rooms with – and into an AM station so I can listen to your show, I get static. And so the electrician had never heard of that before and so I’m kind of looking for some helpful information to correct the situation.
TOM: What kind of radio do you use? Is it a portable radio? Or is it – or your stereo or …?
JOAN: I’ve got one portable one that I’ve carried around just to see if that’s affected and that is, too. But then I’ve got just kind of AM/FM radios in the different rooms, because I like to listen to AM radio most of the time.
TOM: Usually, if you have a static like that or an interference with any kind of appliance, it’s usually the ground. There’s usually something that’s off with the grounding system for the electrical panel or the circuits themselves, so that’d be the first thing I would check.
JOAN: OK. So it could affect every room if the ground is off in the panel?
TOM: Yeah, right or if somehow it’s disconnected. And that actually could potentially – be potentially unsafe, as well, so I would start by looking at the ground.
JOAN: And look at the ground wires in each room, too, or …?
TOM: Yeah. And right – and one thing that you could do that’s really easy is you could use an outlet tester to check all the outlets in those rooms. And that’s a really simple way to tell if it’s grounded or not grounded, because there’s a light sequence that comes on. And if it’s not grounded, you’ll see it immediately.
JOAN: Yeah. So could it be anything to do with the dimmer switches?
TOM: No, I don’t think it’s the switches themselves, because these are all made consistent and I don’t have anybody else across the country that’s complaining about this kind of odd thing.
JOAN: Hmm. And that …
TOM: But I would suggest that you check for grounding and that almost always will do it. If it’s a metal box, it might be shielded if it’s not grounded. So, it really needs to have that element checked out. Alright?
JOAN: Yeah, because even if I go in the cellar – I had him install a couple of those fluorescent lights and it happens down there, too.
TOM: It’s not just where you have these dimmer products.
JOAN: Right. OK. Alright. Well, great.
TOM: Yeah. The other thing that you could do is you could get an outside AM antenna and get the radios working from that antenna instead of the one that’s built in, so there’s another option there.
Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Alaska is on the line with a question about a foundation. What can we do for you?
DAVID: Yes. What I’ve got is a daylight basement. It’s made out of Quad-Lock with a porch slab. And I’m getting a lot of moisture in on the – coming in from the outside. I put the BITUTHENE over the Quad-Lock and over the footing and I’m still getting a lot of water inside the house. In the wintertime – so when it’s bad, we have to run at least one, maybe two, dehumidifiers (inaudible). Yeah, dehumidifiers.
TOM: Does it seem to be consistent with maybe the warmer temperatures in the winter, like where maybe it’s starting to melt a little bit? Or is it the same all the time?
DAVID: Yeah, pretty much the same all the time. And the BITUTHENE was sealed with a heat gun all the way down over the footing. But I don’t know if that’s where my problem’s at – that the house is close to 20 years old.
TOM: Typically, when you get high humidity and high moisture like that, it’s because of drainage. The water has to melt, the snow has to melt, then it gets into the concrete one way or the other. And it gets drawn through because concrete is very hydroscopic. It really soaks up a lot of moisture and then it evaporates to the inside spaces.
If your drainage is in good condition on the outside – in other words, in the spring or the summer, you want to make sure that your soil around the house, if at all possible, has a good slope away. So that when that snow starts to melt, that water runs in that direction; it doesn’t fall down along the foundation where it could become drawn into the house. And then, of course, you also want to make sure that your gutters are clear and free-flowing and all that. Doesn’t sound like that’s as much of an issue for you in particular.
Now, you mentioned you were running a dehumidifier. What kind of heat do you have in this house? Is it forced air or what kind of heat is it?
DAVID: [For your stove?]
TOM: So it’s not – you don’t have a furnace – you don’t have warm air that’s blowing through it. It’s not ducted?
TOM: What I would recommend in that basement space is a better-quality dehumidifier.
David, take a look online at the dehumidifiers that are made by Therma-Stor – T-h-e-r-m-a-S-t-o-r. They have two brands. One is called Ultra-Aire and the other one’s called Santa Fe. They’re either free-standing or they’re designed to be suspended from the ceiling. I have one – I have an Ultra-Aire that I use in my basement, which tends to get damp even though I have good drainage conditions on the outside. And it’s been very effective for us. And it basically drains into a sump pump and it takes out a surprising amount of moisture from that space every single day.
So, that might be a good solution for you. I just asked you those earlier questions to make sure that anything that you can do physically to make sure water’s not collecting around the house is done. And it sounds like that might be the case. So the next step would to be install a good-quality dehumidifier. OK?
DAVID: OK. Is it energy-efficient?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. Yes, absolutely. Alright, David? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the right flooring can make your attic the perfect place for storing stuff. But the wrong flooring could lead to a collapse. Now, if you’d like to take on this project, here are a couple of things you’ve got to keep in mind.
First of all, for the most part, attics are not designed to be used as storage spaces. They’re part of that raw, underbelly structure of a home that keeps the whole house together and then protects it and you from the elements. Now, because of this, installing a floor to an attic always involves some level of disturbance of that structure, so you’ve got to be smart about how you do that.
TOM: That’s right. So, first up, keep in mind that the platforms – the flooring – doesn’t not have to be plywood. You know, if you think about it, trying to maneuver those big 4×8 sheets of plywood or oriented strand board – the OSB – up to an unfinished attic is kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So, to make the job easier, what I like to do is to use a circ saw and cut the plywood sheet in half first, so I have two 2-foot by 8-foot strips, which are a lot easier to handle.
Now, the other option is to skip the plywood flooring altogether and use dimensional lumber. For example, you can pick up 1×6 Number 3 spruce. It’s kind of a step up from what I would call the pallet-quality wood but it makes a fine, usable, sturdy floor in an unfinished attic space. You may have a board or two that you kind of have to work around, a big knot, that kind of stuff. But it’s really inexpensive and so easy to maneuver.
LESLIE: Now, putting flooring in an attic is also going to require some level of trade-off between the areas that you floor and your attic’s insulation. Now, most homes are going to have insulation that’s piled higher than those floor joists, which is good. But you need to understand that this insulation can’t be squished or it’s just not going to do the same job insulating. So, one option is to floor an area less than the entire attic: just a small section around your attic-door opening. This way, you can preserve that maximum amount of attic insulation in the rest of the space.
Now, another innovative option is specifically designed for use as attic flooring and it’s called Attic Dek. Now, Attic Dek is specifically designed to be an attic-floor system. And it consists of 16-inch of 24-inch squares that attach to the top of your ceiling joists.
TOM: Yeah, I like this option. The sections are durable, they’re lightweight, they’re easy to handle. They kind of look like flooring grates but they provide plenty of ventilation, which is good for the insulation below. And they attach with just a few screws and pretty much give you a safe, secure storage platform in just half-a-day’s worth of work.
So, lots of options. But remember, as the saying goes for physicians, first do no harm, I think it applies to attic carpenters, as well. Don’t go up there and start cutting beams and cutting floors and cutting stuff out of the way. You’ve got to work with what you have. Just don’t make it worse by squishing the insulation or damaging part of the structure.
LESLIE: Sean in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SEAN: I have black kind of like peel-and-stick tile but it’s real thick. It’s real thick and it’s real brittle. And it’s on a concrete floor and I cannot get it up. I’ve tried a scraper and everything, a chisel and a hammer. And I didn’t know if there was an easy way to get it off.
TOM: Why are you trying to get it off the concrete floor? Can I ask what the finished floor is going to be?
SEAN: I have no idea but this tile is pitch black and my entire house is cedar on the inside.
TOM: OK. Because it may not be worth the aggravation of getting it off. What you might want to do is to put another floor over that. For example, laminate floor is beautiful. It comes in hundreds – hundreds – of different patterns. And some of the patterns can look like tile or stone or marble and a lot of the patterns can look like hardwood. And it’s a floating floor and it could lay right on top of that old, nasty-looking black tile. And you might just be better off doing that.
I don’t see what you’re going to gain from taking that tile off. You’re right: the adhesives are very, very hard to release, because they get imbedded in the concrete. You’ll end up with a rough, nasty surface. Even if you were to get it off, I don’t know what you would do with it. So if it was my house, I would leave it alone and put a new floor right on top of it.
SEAN: So, yeah. And we had put the floating floor in the living room. And I asked my wife if she wanted it in the kitchen and she said no. She wanted me to take up the old tile. OK. So I’m all about happy wife, happy life, right? So I thought, “Yeah. Ain’t no problem. I know just the person to call.”
TOM: Yeah. Well, tell her that we gave you some good advice, which is that you should really think about a floating floor in the kitchen, as well. And take a look at the laminate.
Or you know what? If she doesn’t like the laminate, there’s another thing you could do and that’s called “engineered hardwood.” So engineered hardwood is suitable for a kitchen because the way it’s built is instead of being sort of solid hardwood, it’s kind of like plywood in that it’s made of different layers. But from the top surface, it looks just like a solid board of oak or maple or whatever kind you choose. And that’s another way you could have a real wood floor in that kitchen and be absolutely beautiful.
Just make sure that you pay attention to the durability ratings on it. I would probably go for one that’s rated commercial, just because the kitchen’s going to take so much punishment. But you don’t have to worry about spills and things like that. Because it’s engineered, it’s never going to swell up on you.
SEAN: OK. What about the – she had brought up the idea of ceramic tile. Can I put that over it maybe?
TOM: You possibly could if you use the right adhesive and if that existing tile is really adhered well to the old concrete floor. You could potentially go right on top of that with a ceramic tile. But remember, it’s going to be pretty cold and that’s why the wood floor or the laminate floor – which could, by the way, look like ceramic tile – would be a much more warmer kind of feel underfoot.
SEAN: Awesome. Thank you so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you have questions about your home projects, you can always reach out to us. And some number of you will get through and get your answer. But for the rest that don’t, we’ve got a great service to tell you about. It is called Dwelling and it is the brainchild of our next guest, Nick Ornitz and his partner, Shannon. They are both Harvard MBA students and thought, “Hey, we’ve got questions about how to fix stuff around the house. I bet other people do.” So they figured out a way to set up a subscription service to provide those answers.
NICK: Thank you very much, Tom. It’s a pleasure to be on the show today.
TOM: So, great idea that you guys are doing this, because there’s a lot of folks that need a little bit of direction. And it’s hard to get expert, independent advice. Is that what you’re hoping to provide?
NICK: Exactly right. We’re looking to enable homeowners to connect with professionals virtually, to get advice as to what is truly wrong with an issue at home and how they can fix it themselves.
LESLIE: Now, how did you come up with this idea? I mean I imagine coronavirus had something to do with this. Not so sure about people wanting to come into their houses. But this is like telemedicine for the house. Where did this come from?
NICK: Exactly right, Leslie. The idea actually came before coronavirus. And with coronavirus, we accelerated our offering in expanding it to more homeowners. But the idea really started out when I was a kid. And at home, I was helping with home maintenance issues and looking for guidance on how to fix those issues but not having an easy source or easy way to connect with pros, other than having them come in person.
And then, when I started working I looked into how technology is changing in the home. And it’s changing a lot of aspects, from smart appliances to even how you answer your doorbell, but not the way that you connect with a professional.
TOM: Now, what’s the pain point that most of the folks that use your service are trying to solve, Nick? Is it they just don’t know where to start?
NICK: It’s really two things. One, where to start, like you mentioned. And the second is the cost of actually having a pro come in person, getting help first virtually to diagnose an issue and solving things on their own, giving them the power to do that.
LESLIE: So, now, how does this work? Whatever the problem is, you now connect with somebody. Am I just constantly showing you what’s going on through my camera on my phone? What’s the process?
NICK: A great question. So, the process is you first go to our website and then you have an option to submit either a written request or schedule time for a video chat. And if you submit a written request, you’ll take photos and a picture or video of an issue. Then a qualified professional will review it, give you guidance as to what is wrong and how to fix it yourself, even including information around the parts and tools you might need. Or if you schedule the video chat, you can have that discussion one on one, live, with the pro.
TOM: How do you select your pros for this project? I think one of the values of a service that does help with the diagnosis, before the actual pro is dispatched, is the fact that there’s somewhat of an independence. You know, if you call a plumber, you’re going to get a solution that requires a plumber. If you call a carpenter, you’re going to get a solution that requires a carpenter. How do you help provide that expert, independent guidance to really zero in on what’s necessary for this project?
NICK: Yeah, great question. The first piece is that all the pros that provide virtual advice through Dwelling don’t recommend themselves for any in-person advice. And so their job is really to try to recommend solutions virtually and not be biased to saying, “You need myself to come in person.”
And then where we find pros to work with us is through a job request online, as well as reaching out to qualified vendors for professionals that then apply. They do a diagnostics test through our platform and then a short interview to understand their skills and background, as well as what trades they specialize: if they’re plumbers, appliance technicians, general handyperson or other.
LESLIE: What are some examples of projects that you’ve seen these pros help out with?
NICK: They really range from small issues to big and some that actually have been showcased (ph) on your show. Small examples includes issues with a running toilet or leaky faucet. And then some larger examples include appliances that are malfunctioning or even the hot water that’s not working. Some outside-of-the-box examples include a homeowner that was having an ant infestation and wanted to know how to remove them humanely. Or another example is a homeowner that had even killed their grass by leaving the yoga mat out and wanted to know what to do.
TOM: As shocking, as you can believe, even I’ve done this myself. I’ve left the trash-can lid on the grass for all of 20 minutes and completely wiped out a 2-foot-square circle.
NICK: It’s a terrifying sight but luckily, it grows back pretty quickly.
TOM: That definitely happens, yeah.
Well, it’s a cool service. Can you talk to us about the sort of the subscription model and what it costs to participate, Nick?
NICK: So, today, homeowners have the option to either sign up for a subscription to a monthly plan at $15 a month or an annual plan where you pay $10 a month. With those plans, you get unlimited either written or video-chat requests. And then if you’d prefer not to have a subscription, we do enable homeowners to do one-off requests in our pay-as-you-go option, which is $25 for each request.
TOM: That’s awesome.
Hey, Leslie, I think this could be our retirement job.
NICK: We’d be honored to have you.
LESLIE: I’m like a little after-hours project.
TOM: Exactly. We’d get paid for all of our friends and family that call us after hours. We were just talking today about all of the questions we’ve gotten from people that know us, just between the time we got – between now and the last time we recorded a show together. It’s crazy.
Alright. So, Nick, this is a great idea. Thanks for stopping by and telling us about it. Best of luck. I think it’s really admirable that you guys are both Harvard MBA students and working on that MBA now, and are venturing out to try to identify a real pain point for homeowners and find a viable solution. It sounds affordable. It sounds like it makes a lot of sense for you guys and for the homeowners and others that take advantage of it. So, thanks. Good job.
NICK: Thank you very much, Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Nick Ornitz, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and good luck with Dwelling. It’s a great service.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the Dwelling website. It’s at HelloDwelling.com. That’s HelloDwelling.com.
LESLIE: Well, a tree in your landscape can be a thing of beauty. But after it’s gone, the stump it leaves behind really isn’t that nice. Now, it’s a tripping hazard, it can damage your lawn mower as you try to go around it, it’ll attract insects. And let’s face it, sawn-off trunks just don’t look great. So, stump removal really is your only option.
Now, there’s nothing easy about stump removal but if you’re willing to trade-off waiting time for expense, there are a number of ways to eliminate those stumps for very little cost. Here are a few different methods that you can choose from.
TOM: Now, the most common method of stump removal is grinding. But that job is about as far away from DIY as you can possibly get. You need to hire a tree service. They use a very specialized machine called a “stump grinder.” It kind of resembles a scary machine from a horror movie. It’s really an awfully big, strong machine. Basically, it features sort of side-by-side spinning, circular grinding blades that are plunged into the ground again and again and again. They chew up the stump and reduce it to sawdust. It happens fast but it’s expensive. The average cost for getting a stump ground out is about 300 bucks and it can go as high as 1,000 or so. And if you’ve got several stumps to deal with, you can pay an hourly rate but it’s pretty expensive.
Another option for the hearty do-it-yourselfer, of course, is to dig out a medium- to small-size stump themselves in an afternoon. You want to dig around the stump. You can use a pointed shovel to expose the roots and extend the hole a few feet out from the stump to give yourself room to maneuver. You cut through all those exposed roots. And it helps to have a variety of tools on hand to get through that compacted soil, because you’re going to have different-sized roots. Good tools for this part of the project would be a lopper, a pruning saw, an ax, a digging bar and a lot of sweat equity. It’s going to really be a lot of work to get it out but you could eventually do it.
Now, you’ve got to continue until the root ball is cut free. And then you’ve got to fill the hole, which is now six times the size you started with, with soil and regrade it. So, an upside, in terms of less expensive but a lot of work and a lot of disturbance.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, there is another option. You can use a liquid stump-removal product. And these generally contain potassium nitrate, which will speed up the microbial process of decomposition. Now, they may be in liquid form or in a powder, to which you’re going to add water. And you want to make sure that you keep kids and pets away while this chemical is doing its work.
So, you purchase the product, you take a chain saw and then cut off the stump as close to the ground as possible. And then drill multiple 1-inch holes, 10 inches deep into the top of the stump. And drill a few more holes slanting inward from the side of the trunk. These are going to provide air to help fuel that decomposition. Then go ahead and pour the chemical into those top holes according to the directions of the product that you’ve got. Then go ahead and cover that stump with a tarp and you’re going to wait about 4 to 6 weeks, because that’s how long it’s going to take for that stump in the wood to become spongy.
TOM: Yeah. And then you just chop out the softened wood with an ax and you fill the hole with soil. Depending on the size of the stump, you might need to repeat the steps.
Now, I did this successfully the last time I had to get rid of a stump. But I had one added expense I didn’t count on. I totally burned out my 20-volt DeWALT drill, because it probably was a bit undersized for drilling those 1-inch holes.
LESLIE: Oh. Those are big holes into …
TOM: Yeah. I probably pushed it, you know. I didn’t go 10 inches deep but I went pretty deep. And it just complained and all of a sudden, I noticed that there was an odd smell and there were sparks coming out of my tool. So, I figured, well, that was that. I did put it to good use, though.
LESLIE: Kathy in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KATHY: In our rental, we have a big wall of brick where the fireplace is. And it’s a dark corner. And I was wondering if we would be able to paint that brick without a whole lot of trouble, to brighten it up in that corner?
TOM: You can paint it but you’d better be sure it’s what you want to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean painting brick is – it’s kind of irreversible. Once you put the paint on, because the brick is so porous it’s just going to get sucked into every little interior nook and cranny of that brick. So should you ever decide that you would like it to be brick again, it’s a lot of stripping and sandblasting. It’s a big to-do. So you want to make sure that that’s something you really want to do. If it’s just the ugliest brick ever, I get it.
KATHY: Well, it’s the only way to lighten up that area that I can think of.
LESLIE: It’s a corner?
KATHY: It’s a corner of the living room but it’s one wall of the living room. It’s the whole wall right up next to the sliding-glass door. So all the way over to the sliding-glass door it’s all brick, from floor to ceiling.
LESLIE: Have you thought about putting mirrors, like an assorted group of mirrors, or adding a different light fixture? There are ways that you can brighten the space with decoration.
KATHY: I hadn’t thought of the mirrors. That might be a good idea.
LESLIE: If you do a cute cluster, almost like a little gallery grouping of different size and shape mirrors and mixing metals and doing something really purposeful and fun and creating a moment, that’s a great way to do it.
KATHY: There’s no electrical in the ceiling.
LESLIE: You don’t need electrical in the ceiling. There are plenty of pendant lamps that plug into an outlet that you can use as swag that – is that what it’s called, “swag”?
KATHY: It’s still called “swag”? Yeah.
LESLIE: Right? Swag [the word] (ph)?
TOM: Yeah, I think so.
LESLIE: You can do something like that and there are really great ways to do that. So you plug in a light fixture and then suddenly, you have a beautiful mini-chandelier or something. There are so many. If you look online for a decorative light fixture with a plug-in, with a plug, you’ll find so many.
LESLIE: And then make sure you can get one of those things that looks like a scrunchie, that you wrap over the electrical cord itself so it hides just the wiring. It’s really easy to do.
KATHY: Alright. I’ll think on those lines, yep. Easier than painting.
LESLIE: There’s even sconces that are plug-in. So you can create a whole, little gallery thing with mirrors and plug-in sconces and really brighten up that space.
KATHY: OK. Thank you, guys.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, Steven posted a question and he writes: “My door has a metal threshold that was previously connected to the cement foundation using glue. The threshold has come loose and there’s a large crack in the cement that expands the entire width of the door, from jamb to jamb. I’d like to avoid buying a whole new door just for the threshold.”
TOM: Yeah, I get that. You know what? If he does buy a whole new door, the screws will probably still line up with the crack, right?
So, what I would do first is I would fill that crack. You want to make sure that you use the appropriate product for that. You could probably use QUIKRETE’s Re-Cap for that, which is super strong and it basically sticks very, very well to old concrete. So, take the saddle out and fill the damaged concrete first.
And then after that, what you should probably do is add some fasteners to secure that down. And even if you have to drill some new holes in a different place in the saddle, what you could use is a type of fastener called a “Tapcon fastener.” It’s kind of like a screw for concrete. When you buy Tapcon fasteners, they usually come with a masonry bit. And you drill out the concrete with that size bit and you’ll use a different bit, by the way, to go through the aluminum, not the masonry bit. And then you use the screw and screw it right into the concrete. And with a sill like that, you could probably use a pan-head screw and it will tighten it right down to that concrete surface. And you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: And you know what, Steven? They’re so handy, Tapcons. I mean this is sort of really replacing, you know, no other way other than lead shields of putting something up in concrete, into a floor that’s concrete or stone, into brick. This truly will give you a good grip into those surfaces without having a lot of extra steps.
Now, I know this has happened to me before. And Tom, correct me. I put wire in to sort of really help it adhere into that screw hole. Is that correct?
TOM: Well, if the hole gets too wide sometimes because of the masonry bit, sometimes you have to fill it with something. And putting a small piece of wire in there, it works just perfectly for that.
LESLIE: Alright. Good.
Good luck with that, Steven.
TOM: After the long summer, is your outside furniture looking a bit dirty or moldy? Leslie has tips for the easiest way to clean away the dirt and grime, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? There’s going to be a specific approach, depending on the material of the furnishings that you have outdoors.
So, let’s start with plastic furniture. They can get stained pretty easily and they do end up looking really just nasty. So, what you need to do here is you can make a really great cleaning solution yourself. And you might even have all of the stuff, right now, in your house. So, you want to mix dish soap, Borax, and a ½-cup of peroxide into 1 gallon of water. Then go ahead and use a nylon brush. And this way, you can scrub down those furnishings and rinse them well. And that does a really good job of getting rid of all that grime off of the plastic furniture.
Now, if you have metal furniture, it’s really just going to be soapy water and some elbow grease. It’s going to take a lot of your personal strength there to help with that cleaning, so you do have to put in some effort. Now, you can also remove any rust and stains with sandpaper or even a wire brush. And then go ahead and prime the furniture and repaint those spots. And this will help you avoiding any further rusting that occurred just on those spots.
Now, wood furnishing, you really do want to wash that with oil soap, like Murphy’s Oil Soap, and then let it dry really well.
And you know what? You can do it right now, at the end of the season, and then store it away. So as soon as the warm weather comes back, that furniture is going to look great.
TOM: Excellent advice.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about facts versus fiction. When it comes to home improvement projects, there is always a lot of myths that are out there. But in our view, they lead to myth-stakes (ph). So we’re going to straighten out some of those common ones, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)