In this episode…
Did you know that Fall is the busiest season of the year for flooring projects? Well, it turns out that flooring is not being used for just floors anymore. Designers are using floor materials in some very unexpected and beautiful ways. Tom & Leslie have tips for this trending project. Plus…
- Pretty soon it’ll be time to take out your window screens for the season. Before that happens there’s one thing, you’ll need to do to make sure they last though winter storage and are good to go next spring. We’ll share that step, just ahead.
- Ceramic tiles are durable and easy to care for, but what happens if one breaks and you can’t find a replacement? We’ll share some fast fixups for tile projects.
- Are you saving half-filled cans of leftover paint from a project? We’ll share step by step tips for storing paintthat’ll make it last TWICE what the manufacturers say it should.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, installing a vapor barrier, choosing a kitchen sink, repairing pool steps, improving driveway drainage.
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 welcome to the fall home improvement season. It is beautiful out. It’s just the right temperature to take on projects inside and out. If you’ve got something you’d like to get done, we would love to help you with some tips, some ideas, some suggestions to help you move that project along and create your best home ever.
Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about flooring projects first up. Did you know that flooring is a fall-season project? It is. It’s the busiest season of the year for floors. And it turns out, though, that flooring is not just being used for floors. There are a lot of designers now that are using flooring on walls, so we’re going to talk about some of those trends.
LESLIE: And pretty soon, it’s going to be time to take out your window screens for the entire season. And before that happens, there’s one thing that you really need to do to make sure that they’re going to last through the winter storage and be ready to go next spring. So we’re going to share those steps, in just a bit.
TOM: And ceramic tiles are a very durable and easy-to-care-for surface. But has this ever happened to you? You broke a tile – either from misuse, it fell off the wall, it got cracked on the floor – and of course, the tile project, at this point, is years old perhaps and you don’t have any extra tiles? We’re going to share a solution with you on how to find those missing tiles so it looks like they’d never left.
LESLIE: But first, what’s on your fall to-do list, guys? Are you thinking about a project that you’d like to get done while the weather is pleasant and beautiful? Or maybe you’d like some of those fall colors into the design of your home? Well, let us know. We are here to help, so give us a call. We’re standing by to help you guys out.
TOM: That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And if you call us with your question, we will also add your name to the hat for a chance at winning a cool set of clamps from Pony Jorgensen. These are called the E-Z Hold Bar Clamps and they are the perfect clamp for dozens of home improvement projects. Kind of like having an extra set of hands around when you want to get something done.
So, give us a call right now. Let’s get to it. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Judy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JUDY: I’m in a house that my father built back in 1990.
JUDY: And while they lived there, they experienced black spots coming through on the drywall.
JUDY: And they called in a painter; a painter came in. He went over everything with KILZ first and painted it. Well, since then, they’ve both passed away and so I purchased the house.
JUDY: I had a friend take a look up in the attic and he told me, “Oh, I can’t believe that your father wrapped all this in plastic. Your house can’t breathe. We need to get up here and slice this plastic, let the house breathe and you won’t get any more of these black spots.”
TOM: So does he think the black spots are mold?
JUDY: I don’t know.
LESLIE: And what room were you seeing it in?
JUDY: Every different room. Yeah.
JUDY: It’s almost like it’s the nail heads are getting wet or something.
TOM: OK. So, up in the attic – let’s talk about that area. And you say he wrapped it in plastic. What exactly are you seeing?
JUDY: Well, I didn’t; I haven’t been up there.
TOM: Oh, your friend saw it.
JUDY: My neighbor went up.
TOM: Alright. Well, look, when it comes to vapor barrier, here’s the rule: the vapor barrier goes towards the heated side of the house. So a common mistake, for example, up in attics, is to put the insulation in backwards where they have the vapor barrier sort of facing up as you’re in the attic looking down.
And the solution to that is to cut the vapor barrier. I’ve seen that in crawlspaces, too, where they put the vapor barrier because it has the nailing flange on it – nailing tab on it – at the edge of the beams and it’s on the wrong side. So, as long as the vapor barrier is between the ceiling and the insulation, it’s done correctly. If not, then yes, you can go up and slice the vapor barrier and let it breathe more.
The other thing to do is to make sure that your attic has adequate ventilation. And the best ventilation is a continuous ridge vent, which goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang.
JUDY: OK. That’s what I needed to know.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Missouri on the line who needs some help choosing a kitchen sink. Tell us what you’re working on.
BILL: Well, I’m having a kind of a tough time trying to decide on these new materials and stuff that they’re making the kitchen sinks out of now.
BILL: And my wife didn’t want a stainless-steel sink and she wanted one that was colored or white: one that would be easy to keep clean and wouldn’t show scratches or cracks or anything like that.
TOM: OK. OK.
BILL: And I was trying to keep away from the cast iron, because that’s what we have in there right now. Those things weigh a ton. And they’ve got some new ones that we were looking at over at the Lowe’s store and it’s called a Swanstone, which is a man-made product. And I don’t know how good those are.
TOM: I’ve had some experience with those composite products and I will say if she’s accustomed to a cast-iron, porcelain sink, she’s not going to be happy with a composite sink because they are a lot harder to keep clean. I’ve got one that’s sort of like the undermount sink that’s made of the – like sort of one of the Corian-wannabe products. And whenever we put wine in it or tomato sauce or something like that, it does leave a stain and we have to get the Bon Ami out and sort of scour the bottom to keep it clean.
You know, there’s – if you’re used to a cast-iron sink – and that is definitely the easiest one to keep clean, I’ve got to tell you.
BILL: The one we’ve got hasn’t been that easy and it’s shown scratch marks where the pots had scratched it and I just thought, “Well, we’ll just get something easier to clean.”
TOM: Right. But it has a nice, smooth, cleanable surface that doesn’t stain; that’s the nice thing about cast.
I was telling Leslie, last week on the show, that I just replaced a sink for my mom that was an Americast product – an American Standard product.
TOM: And it was actually covered by a lifetime warranty. So it had started to rust and chip in one corner and 17 years after she bought it, American Standard gave her a brand-new sink.
TOM: And it was a cast-iron – like a porcelain, enameled kind of a sink. And she had a beige one that we took out and they gave us a new beige one, almost the same configuration 17 years later and popped it back in.
BILL: Well, I wanted to tell you thank you for taking my call and I really enjoy your shows.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Susan in Montana is having some drainage issues with the driveway. Tell us what’s going on.
SUSAN: I had my office driveway resurfaced with asphalt. And I thought that the people did a really excellent job until we got a monsoon (ph) rain and all the water was collecting. And I had to leave to go down to Colorado and I got a frantic phone call from my husband telling me that the water was backing up into the house and it was like a big pool. And I called the asphalt people and they’re not responding to me.
TOM: Well, listen, if they just resurfaced the driveway, they’re not going to do anything to change the pitch.
SUSAN: That’s true. They did do it but they deliberately – supposedly, they had the pitch so that it would drain off into the lawn.
TOM: And they didn’t quite get that right. So how do you fix that?
TOM: If the water is draining down the driveway back towards the building – so in other words, it’s never really draining off to the lawn anywhere – then what you have to do is you have to put a curtain drain in the driveway itself.
And in a driveway, basically it’s a job where the driveway is essentially sliced in half. They slice out a chunk of driveway that’s maybe 6 inches wide. And you drop this trough into it so that as the water falls down the driveway, it drops into the trough – there’s a grade on top – and then it runs out the bottom of the trough. And of course, that requires some additional plumbing, so to speak, because you have to hook it up to a drainpipe to take it to the lowest place on the property to get rid of the water. But that’s how you drain a driveway that’s not pitched properly.
And typically, that’s put right near the house or right near the garage lip or something like that so that it catches the water at the lowest possible spot.
SUSAN: So who would I call for something like that? A plumber?
TOM: You’re going to need a general contractor that can install that for you. I mean a driveway-sealing company is not going to do it. A general contractor that could do that – it’s kind of a handyman project. It’s not a difficult project, it’s not a really time-consuming project but you essentially have to cut into that driveway and install a drain. You’ve got to catch that water and you’ve got to manage it. And that’s the only way to do it, Susan.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT. In addition to getting help with your home improvement projects, we give away great prizes. And this hour, we have the Jorgensen E-Z Hold Expandable Bar-Clamp Package.
Now, it’s pretty great because these are really handy clamps. So you’re going to be able to tackle a lot of projects with just one hand. And you can actually join them together to actually help you with the bigger projects.
TOM: You get a set of eight clamps – including 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-inch clamps – worth 170 bucks. You can learn more at PonyJorgensen.com. We’re going to give that package out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone, post your question at MoneyPit.com or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re welcoming Tim from Illinois to The Money Pit with a water-heating question. What’s going on?
TIM: Oh, I have a nine-year-old water tank and I’m trying to get the rod that collects all the minerals out. And it didn’t want to come, so I was afraid to have busted some pipes. So I was curious, should I just – should leave it alone? And with it being nine years old, it’s almost at the end of its life as far as the water tank. Because I understand that water tanks are usually from 8 to 12 years for a replacement?
TOM: Yeah. So you’re – you’ve been trying to replace the anode and having a hard time getting it out, correct?
TIM: Yeah. I think it’s rusted in or I …
TOM: Sometimes, you have to put – get a little leverage on the wrench to do that. And once you get the wrench on the anode, sometimes you have to kind of extend that wrench handle to really get that out. It’s a bit of a tricky job. But considering the age of the tank, I probably wouldn’t spend much money on it because I think you’re right: 10, 12 years is a pretty average life expectancy for a standard water heater.
And when it comes time to replace the water heater, you might even decide to upgrade it and go with a tankless water heater, which is going to last you a lot longer and be far more efficient.
TIM: And that might be a good choice for me, because I’m single and no one else lives in the household and I’m gone most of the time.
TOM: Yeah, well, that’s the difference between a tankless water heater and a standard water heater: the water heater is kind of dumb. It just – it heats the water, 24/7, whether you need it or not. And when the water cools down, it comes back on and heats it some more.
A tankless water heater is going to heat on demand. And so, because that’s going to be a lot more efficient for a single guy – but even a big family with teenage daughters, for example, that don’t know the meaning of a short shower, they never run out of hot water when they have tankless. Could just – works very well in both extremes.
TIM: So how much is something like – cost for installation and so forth?
TOM: Well, if you compare it against a high-efficiency, tanked water heater, it’s similar. But if you compare it against a standard, sort of low-efficiency, it’s probably going to be about twice as much. But it will last longer, too, and you’re going to save money on the energy bills, too.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that fall is the busiest season of the year for flooring projects? And you know what? It turns out that flooring isn’t just being used for floors anymore. A lot of interior designers out there are actually using flooring materials in some very unexpected and really beautiful ways. And with as little as 100 square feet of flooring, you can step up that style in any room of your home by using floor boards to create accent walls.
TOM: I think this is an awesome idea because if you think about it, what are your other options, right? You’ve got wainscoting – that doesn’t really fit in a bedroom, for example, or a living room – you’ve got wallpaper and you’ve got paint. So, this is a whole ‘nother direction you can go and it works well in bedrooms, in bathrooms. It works well in family rooms and basements.
And it looks really, really cool. It’s very, very trendy. You can do it in a weekend. It delivers a big impact for a relatively small expense, because you don’t need that much flooring to do this. You can choose from pretty much all the flooring materials that are available: so hardwood, bamboo, the wood-look tile, the luxury vinyl or even laminate. That all works well and looks great on a wall.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? It really depends on the type of flooring that you pick as to how you’ll secure it to the wall.
So, for example, if you pick a plank, you put that to the wall using nails, glue or even just wood-flooring tape. I mean it really depends on the weight of that product, the size of that product. So you sort of have to gauge it depending on what you pick.
Now, you also want to make sure – and this is with flooring, in general – when you get that product, you want to let it acclimate in your home for a few days before you actually start that project.
And then to get the best layout, think about arranging those planks side by side on the floor first. That’s going to help you balance out the color and the grain. So this way, if you’re getting any weird patterns or you’re trying to achieve a pattern, you can really plan that out before you put them on the wall.
TOM: And when you’re ready to go, you install the first plank pretty much the same way you would do if it’s on the floor. You start in one corner, usually the bottom-left corner of the wall area, and then sort of work your way up left to right.
And make sure you leave about a ¼- to ½-inch gap between the planks and the ceiling and the floor. This leaves a bit of room for the flooring to naturally sort of expand and contract. Then you can easily cover that up with some molding.
LESLIE: Paul in Connecticut, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PAUL: We’re working on a paint job where we were covering rough-cut cedar clapboards with Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT Solid Stain that’s self-priming. We painted over the same product that was previously sprayed probably about, I’m guessing, 7 to 8 years ago. And what we’re running into with – just on one side of the house where we’re getting bubbles, like moisture bubbles. It’s morning sun on that side of the house but we’ve never seen a stain – you know, a solid stain – bubble up like that. I’ve seen it with paint but not with the solid stain.
TOM: Well, cedar has to breathe and sometimes when they install cedar siding, they don’t leave enough space under it for it to breathe. And so it tends to get clogged with moisture and I’ve seen that lift stain before.
You mentioned that you’re using a product that both primes and stains. I am not a fan of doing that with a staining product. I just, in fact, repainted my entire cedar-sided house and I did it the same way we did it over a dozen years ago and that was we oil-primed it first. We used an oil-based primer first because we had good adhesion with the oil-based primer. And it really stuck well to the cedar. And then we put the solid stain on top of that.
So, once the paint starts to bubble, any time you have a failure of adhesion, there’s no way to put that back together. If that continues to get worse or if it looks bad enough already, you’re going to have to take that stain off and start again. Because you’re just – it’s never – you can’t stick good paint over bad paint. And if there’s moisture in there, it’s just going to lift that paint right off again.
So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I wouldn’t have done it that way. I would have used an oil-based primer first and then I would have put a solid-color stain on top of it.
PAUL: Right. We’re getting that just on one side of the house.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe it’ll just end up being on one side of the house, for whatever reason. But at least on that side of the house, you have to pull that stain off and start again. And scrape, prime – scrape it and prime it properly with an oil-based primer and then you can stain on top of that.
PAUL: What would you suggest for an oil-based primer?
TOM: I think if you stay within one family of products, I would use the same oil-based primer that that particular manufacturer makes for solid stain but as long as it’s oil-based and not acrylic or water or latex-based.
PAUL: So, now, to remove that stain that’s on there now, that – you’re going to lose that rough-cut finish.
TOM: Well, if you wire-brush it, perhaps not. You may be able to pull it off with a pressure washer. It depends on how well-adhered it is.
When we did my project, we had an unusual problem with the shutters. We were using a product that the manufacturer said did not need to be primed. And it worked well but it took a long time to cure. And so some of the shutters were sitting around for an extra week before we put them back up. And all the paint peeled off of those. And so we had to actually strip all that paint off and start again. So it even happens to the pros. But once that paint separates, you’ve got to pull it off; there’s just no way to save it.
PAUL: Alright. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Paul, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Texas has had something very unfortunate happen to a pool: the steps broke? What happened?
ANDREW: Well, we were just chilling out in the pool one night and it’s got a brand-new liner in it. In East Texas, they use salt-water pools, so you have to line them. And my buddy was getting out of the pool. He stepped on the fiberglass steps, which were not brand-new. And unfortunately, his foot went through the steps.
LESLIE: Now, the fiberglass steps are underneath your liner or these sort of sit on top as like an attachment?
ANDREW: It’s an attachment to the liner. They’re two separate entities that are underwater.
TOM: OK. Can the fiberglass steps be removed from the pool for repair purposes?
ANDREW: I believe so. I have not tried it. In all honesty, looking at the degradation of the steps, the shape that they’re in, I think it’d be easier to just do a quick patch right now, if that’s possible, or just entirely remove the steps. But can I do that without sacrificing the liner?
TOM: Yeah, if you can get the steps out of the pool, like disconnecting them out of the pool, the easy way to do that patch is with more fiberglass. You can go to an auto-repair store – like a Pep Boys or a place like that that sells, perhaps, auto-body supplies – and you can buy fiberglass.
You could buy the fiberglass resin and you can buy fiberglass material itself. And you apply the resin to the step, you press the material in place, you let it dry and then you would add more resin on top of that and then more – and then gelcoat to finish it off.
Now, it’s not going to match, color-wise, but it could be very strong and perhaps, next time, your friend won’t step right through them.
ANDREW: An easy fix is an easy fix, right?
TOM: Yeah. But the easiest thing is to get it out of the water so that you don’t have to drain the water. And you could do that repair on your – maybe in your garage, on a workbench or something like that, and then just put the whole assembly back in after it’s nice and dry and strong again.
Andrew, does that help you out?
ANDREW: Very much so. I sure do appreciate the help. You all have a wonderful evening and God bless, alright?
TOM: Well, pretty soon, it’s going to be time to take out those window screens for the season. But before winter sets in and the weather begins to get super cold, it’s a really good idea to clean your window screens so you can make them last.
LESLIE: Yeah. You think about it. The screens have been on the window all summer long. They’ve got a lot of sun exposure. They’ve got just a lot of dirt and dust from all the lawn and yardwork. So I mean they really do need some help before you store them away.
So make sure you remove those screens and then put them on a flat surface. Your driveway is going to work best for that. Then use a mild soap-and-water solution and apply it with a soft-bristle brush. That’s going to remove all of that dirt and the grime. And you want to make sure that you clean both sides of that window screen and around the interior and exterior of that frame. Then rinse off the window screens with lukewarm water.
TOM: So, next, you want to allow those screens to dry completely before you replace them in the window. And don’t even think about using a pressure washer on them while your windows are closed and they are still in the frames, because you could damage them and the window, not to mention those – leaking water you’re going to squirt right through those windows, into the house.
LESLIE: Now, you can put those screens back in or if you prefer, you can store the screens during the winter months. You want to make sure, though, that you keep them upright or flat. And do not lean anything against them or put anything on top of them, because those screens can get damaged so easily.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, if you are dropping storm windows into place to keep cold air out, now is also a good time to clean those windows and clean and lubricate the tracks. And for all windows, take the opportunity to check the exterior spaces between the trim and the siding, because this is where you get cracks and gaps that will let a lot of cold air in. So recaulk those, as needed, to keep the elements away.
We’ve got a video that walks you through how to clean and store your screens, on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.
JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.
TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?
JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.
TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that up-front cost of running the heating ducts.
If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.
Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates, because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.
So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant up-front cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?
JULIE: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You can always call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you might just win our weekly giveaway. And today, we’ve got the Jorgensen E-Z Hold Expandable Bar-Clamp Package to give away to one listener.
Now, clamping tools are really the only products that Pony Jorgensen makes and they do it really well. I mean they’ve been doing this for more than 100 years. And I like these E-Z Hold Clamps. I’ve got a set of them myself. And they make it easy to take on projects when you just have a single hand to kind of grab the clamp on something and it gives you that extra set of hands, that extra set of hold.
I’ve been working on a makeover. I was just telling my team here, off-air, I found a very old tricycle from the early 80s, I believe it was. And it used to belong to my nephew, who had babies, and now we’re going to redo it for his kids. And we found that it needed a total makeover, so it’s like a little body shop in my garage right now for this little tricycle.
LESLIE: That is a great project.
TOM: And I’m using my E-Z Hold Clamps to hold things down while I bang them apart, put them back together and so on.
That set of clamps is worth 170 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lee in Maryland is on the line with a concrete question. What can we do for you today?
LEE: House was built 30 years ago. And I’ve been told by several contractors that – my slab is 16×18 that I’m going to pour. I’ve been told by several contractors that I should put rebar into the house and connect it to the house. And then I’ve been told by other contractors that I should just put expansion joints in. And I don’t know what to do.
TOM: OK. So this slab is for the garage?
LEE: No. It’s off the side of my deck.
TOM: Oh, OK. So a patio. Is that what you’re saying?
LEE: Yeah. It’ll be right up against the house, so …
TOM: OK. Yeah, listen, putting the rebar in and tying into the house is a good, solid way to do that. But if you prep the soil right underneath it, I tend to think you probably don’t have to do that. Most people, where they go wrong is they don’t prep the soil, they don’t prep the base. And if that soil is compressible – if it’s topsoil, if it’s mulch – if it’s not flattened out and really tamped down, mechanically, with a machine tamper then you’re going to have all kinds of movement in that slab. And that’s where you get in trouble.
So, if it’s just a matter of being concerned about it dropping, you know, I guess with all the work you’re doing it wouldn’t hurt to run the rebar into the house. You’d have to drill holes, set it inside the block wall and then run the rebar into the slab itself. But you want to make sure that slab is properly reinforced. If it’s 16×8, you’re probably going to want to put a seam in it to give it some room to move without cracking.
But I think it’s not terribly necessary but I don’t think you can go wrong by doing it. But again, the most important thing is to tamp that base under where you’re going to pour the slab really, really well. Because invariably, that’s what causes the problems with slabs. And make sure you have a good pitch away from the house so that you don’t trap any water against the house, you don’t force water to run back into the house even when it settles, OK?
LEE: OK. It had a base of concrete backwash tamped down really good and it was starting to set up pretty good. But I was going to bring in some more 57 limestone and then pack it down. You think that would be ample or a good choice of rock to use?
TOM: Yep. I would go through the trouble of renting a mechanical tamper and using a mechanical tamper. Because I tell you what, when you put that base in and you tamp it mechanically, it itself becomes hard as concrete.
TOM: Thanks, Lee. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, ceramic surfaces are durable and really easy to care for. But from time to time, you might encounter the need to make a repair to that ceramic-tile surface.
Now, those repairs can vary from a grouting issue or to even replacing a cracked tile. Now, the problem with replacing cracked tiles is that more often than not, you don’t have a matching tile handy. Well, we’ve got some magic tricks to make them reappear.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And something that happens a lot when you set out to do a bath remodel – because it’s not always possible with an older house. Even a 10-year-old tile can sometimes be really hard to find. But when replacing any tile, it’s really always first choice best to use ones left over from the original installation. Then you can be sure that the replacement tile is going to perfectly match the existing ones.
But if you don’t have any squirreled away, bring the broken pieces to a well-stocked tile store and you might be able to find a new one that is a close substitute.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? You can also consider stealing one from an area that’s not very visible. Maybe you’ve got that tile surface in a closet or it’s under a refrigerator or the dishwasher. Removing that old tile can be a bit tricky but it’s definitely possible.
And another option, which tends to be a little bit costly, is that you can have tiles made to order, custom glazes mixed exactly to match. The only thing is you’ve got to make sure that if you’re having a tile made – and say it’s for a floor versus a wall – you have to make sure that that surface has all of those standards that you would see when you’re purchasing a ceramic-tile for a floor. Because they have different ratings on them so they’re not as slippery, et cetera. So you have to make sure, if you’re having one made, that it’s going to do the same thing.
TOM: Now, here’s my favorite option, because it’s the least expensive and 9 out of 10 times, no one is going to know exactly what you did. Let’s say despite your best efforts, you can’t find the replacement, you don’t want to have one made, it’s too expensive, whatever. Well, you could just forget about trying to match the tile altogether and fill the spot with an accent tile.
An accent tile could be a tile of a different color or a different texture. In that case, you might even want to randomly replace a handful of tiles, around the floor or the wall, to make the fix blend in with the rest of the field.
I’ve used this approach a number of times over the years and it’s always interesting that you get so many nice compliments about the pattern after you’re done. And folks really have no idea that was done to solve a problem; they thought it was just intentional to have the mixed tiles. And they looked fantastic.
So, lots of options there if you do have to replace a broken tile and don’t have one around. There are some ways to get it done.
You can call us with your home improvement question or you could post it to The Money Pit website, which is exactly what George in New Jersey did.
LESLIE: That’s right. And George writes: “After painting, I have two partially used cans of latex paint. Can the shelf life be improved if all the air in the cans to be stored were replaced with water to displace all the air?”
TOM: Well, that’s an interesting idea, George. I don’t think it’s going to work because with latex paint, the water is just going to mix in with the latex paint itself. And you’ll have soupy paint when you go to open it up again.
LESLIE: Yeah. The paint will be terrible.
TOM: I do have a few other suggestions for you that you may find helpful.
When it comes to storing paint, the life expectancy of leftover paint – most manufacturers are going to tell you it’s about 2 years. My personal experience is it could last at least twice that long. But the success depends not only on where the paint is stored – like a cool, dry area – but even more importantly, the condition of the can, the condition of that seal between the paint lid and the paint can.
Now, as you pointed out, the enemy of storing paint is simply air. So the more air that gets into that can, the shorter the life of the paint. So, the seal is the key. Here’s how you can make sure it’s as tight as possible. First up, when you open a new can of paint, kind of most of us do this: we use a screwdriver, right?
TOM: Well, that’s probably not the best tool because you can deform that paint lid and then impact the seal. The better option is to use a paint can-opener tool. You’ve probably seen this at the paint store. It has a little bit of a wide lip on it and it grabs the paint-can lid and opens it up without damaging it.
Now, once you have it open, it’s OK to use the screwdriver if you need to poke some drainage holes in the bottom of that channel inside the can. But don’t use it to pry that lid off initially.
Now, when you’re done with the paint, you want to use the brush to clean that seam as much as possible. Get all that old paint out of it and then you can use a rag to wipe the opposing seam on the lid. Because paint that dries in either area, either on the lid or in that can lip, is going to prevent that lid from sealing completely.
Now, in addition, paint that sits in the seam can cause rust, which can discolor the paint. A lesson, Leslie, I learned the hard way. You know, a few years ago I tried to touch-up some woodwork in my home using paint from the same can that I initially had painted the wood with. And once the paint dried, I noticed it was a different color. It was more of a – it had sort of a tea stain to it. And I was like, “What the heck? I know it’s the right paint.” Well, it turned out that some rust had fallen into that paint and it had totally changed the color from white to a little bit of off-white. And it was very obvious when I did the touch-up. So, learn that lesson from me.
Now, when it comes time to seal that paint can up, what I like to do is to seal it first with a piece of clear plastic wrap, like Saran Wrap. This kind of helps act as a gasket. And then you can place that lid on top. And tap it down gently at first so you get it set just right, get the seating just right. Use a rubber mallet if you have one. If you’ve got to use a hammer, do it gently. You want to make sure it’s an evenly distributed weight all across the top of that seam.
Then what you can do – and this is the best tip ever – take a rag and lay it over the top of the can and bang it down through the rag. Why are you doing that? First of all, you’re not denting the can. But if you left any drips of paint in that lip, it doesn’t shoot out in all directions and cover you and the whole area you’re working in in paint drippage. I’ve stored paint this way and had it last five years, so I know it works. Just take your time and this way, you’ll be able to use it again and again and again.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks for spending part of your fall weekend with us. We hope we’ve inspired you to take on some projects around your house. If you’ve got questions about those projects, remember, you can always reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we promise 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.)
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