In this episode…
We’re all trying to avoid germs more than ever and motion-activated faucets are good for cutting down the spread of germs in public restrooms – but are they a healthy fit for your home? Tom and Leslie share the options
- With freezing weather ahead, now is a good time to make sure a frozen, broken water pipe DOES NOT turn the INSIDE of your home into a Winter Wonderland! One very special type of valve can stop this from happen to you. We’ll explain how.
- What’s the difference between a garage and a home workshop or gym that you can use year-round? Often as little as twenty or thirty degrees! We’ve got tips to help heat your garage so you can find more useable space.
- If you’d like to paint your kitchen cabinets, there’s one very special primer that can make the difference between paint that sticks and paint that flakes away! We’ll share the solution.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, natural way to clean windows, painting a refrigerator, eliminating geese, repairing a concrete driveway, refinishing brick on a fireplace.
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: What’s going on in your neck of the woods? If you are taking on a project as we roll towards the holiday season to get your house in shape for the friends in your bubble – those few that you will permit to visit you during this odd holiday season – hey, look, you’re still going to fix up your house, because we love to have a couple of folks over now and again and we want our house to look clean.
And so whether it’s a project that you need to get done because you’ve got a repair that’s necessary or an update or an improvement you’d like to take on, there’s never been more improvement going on, frankly, than since COVID started because we’re all spending so much darn time in our houses. We’re trying to fix them up. I’m doing that.
Leslie, you’re doing that and …
LESLIE: Oh, we’re all doing it.
TOM: We’re all doing it. So, whatever is on your to-do list, we would love to lend a hand.
Now, there’s a couple of ways that you can get in touch with us. You can head on over to our social-media pages – in particular, Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit – and send us a question that way. You can also post a question through our website, MoneyPit.com. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll take your name, your number, your question and we’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio.
Folks have been doing that all week. We’ve got some great callers that we’re going to connect with for this show. But first, here’s what we’ve got coming up. You know, we’re all trying to avoid germs more than ever right now, which makes it a good time to talk about hands-free, motion-activated faucets. These have been available in the commercial space for years and just over the last 2 or 3 years, they’ve been showing up more in the residential side. And they’re really cool. They’re great for cutting down the spread of germs and they really are a good, healthy fit for your house. So we’re going to fill you in on the different types and what you need to know to put one in your home.
LESLIE: And with the freezing weather coming up, now is a great time to make sure that a frozen or a broken water pipe does not turn the inside of your home into a winter wonderland. One very special type of valve can stop this from happening to you. We’ll explain how.
TOM: I remember when I was a home inspector and pipes had frozen and broken in a house that was vacant, was being managed by a relocation company. It was a winter wonderland but I don’t think they thought it was so wonderful. There were frozen streams of water everywhere. So definitely something you don’t want to happen. We’re going to give you some tips to make sure it doesn’t.
And also ahead, do you ever wonder what the difference was between a garage and a home workshop or a craft room or a gym that you can use year-round? Well, the difference is about 20 or 30 degrees. So we’re going to have tips that you can use to help heat your garage so you can find more usable space year-round.
And we’re launching a brand-new sweepstakes for all of our Money Pit fans. It’s called the Holiday Home Décor Giveaway. It’s presented by Arrow Fastener and they’ve hooked us up with a dozen sets of tools, worth over $125 each, to give away.
TOM: Yep. You get the tools to help with all of your holiday décor and craft projects, including the T21X Wire Stapler, which is great for hanging those holiday lights. Enter now at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
But first, let’s get to your calls and your questions. Again, that number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Marie in Florida is on the line who’s looking for an easier way to clean some windows around the house. What’s going on?
MARIE: Right. Yes, I’m lazy and I’ve been reading the ads and – Spray & Forget. Is there a window cleaner that I can use on the outside, that I could just spray and then forget?
TOM: OK. Yeah. So, Spray & Forget is a fine product and that’s designed to clean mold and mildew and algae and moss off of siding and roofs and surfaces like that and sidewalks. In terms of windows – so, you’re looking for a product you spray on and just does the cleaning for you. And I’m not aware of anything that does exactly that. I think that is a job that is always, once and forever, going to need our own personal touch.
LESLIE: Well, I mean I feel like anything that you’re going to spray on and leave on is going to leave a streak. Because you know it’s – you’ve got to completely remove whatever cleaning formula you put on there. Otherwise, it will streak or cloud or do something unusual. So that’s the issue with cleaning glass. It’s not like a product you can spray on a siding and let it sort of do the work.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a line of products that we like that are cleaning products, including window cleaners, made by a company called JAWS – J-A-W-S. It’s JAWSCleans.com. These are products that – where they sell you the concentrate and a mix in a bottle. And for a fraction of the cost of buying one that’s already mixed up at the store, you can get a dozen or more bottles full of this stuff by mixing it yourself with the concentrate.
And I like it because it doesn’t leave any streaks. And I told the guy that owns the company, who I’ve become friendly with, that I keep a bottle on my desk in my office, because I clean computer screens and glasses with it.
So you might want to take a look at that: JAWSCleans.com. I think there’s a promo code there for The Money Pit that’ll get you 20-percent off if you just enter MONEYPIT in the promo box. And that might be a product that’s so easy to use that it wouldn’t be so bad for you to have to clean those windows yourself.
MARIE: OK. That sounds pretty good. I just – I have 20 windows and I don’t want to clean them.
TOM: You can always hire a pro. There’s folks out there that that’s all they do.
Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at The Money Pit.
MARIE: OK. Thank you.
LESLIE: Len in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
LEN: Well, I have a crawlspace. Now, we’ve got a couple of real bad storms. A lot of rain. It hasn’t flooded over the years that I’ve had the house but with all this rain concentrated in a couple of days, it has collected water. And I’m wondering, what’s the best method to waterproof a crawlspace?
TOM: Well, I have fantastic news for you. This is a really easy project because you’ve told me all I need to know in mentioning that you generally have never had a wet crawlspace before. But with all the heavy rain, you did develop one. Because this points clearly not to a rising water table, which could be complicated to fix, but it points directly to an issue with the gutters around your house and the grading.
There’s too much water landing right around the foundation perimeter. That can happen if your gutters are blocked, if they’re too small or if the downspouts aren’t extended away from the house enough. They need to be, in your case, 4 to 6 feet away to make sure that that water is not doing a U-turn back into that crawlspace.
On top of that, you should take a look at the grade. And if the soil is flat, if it’s sloped into the house, that’s another issue. You need to add clean fill dirt – which is good news, inexpensive – and you could slope it to drop about 4 inches – 4, 5, 6 inches – over 4 feet. It’s just about a 10-degree slope. Tamp it down real well but you have that nice slope maintained. And then on top of that, you could plant grass, you could put stone, whatever you want. But you’ve got to have that base soil sloped properly.
And those two things will make this problem go away. It might take a while because it’s in the crawlspace but it will go away.
LEN: The house sits down from the road about – if you look from the elevation of the sidewalk, it sits off from the road about 8 foot. But as I said, I don’t have this problem generally. It’s pretty dry. I have it inspected every year for termites. And I asked the guys if it’s dry and they said, “Yes, it’s dry.” It’s only been a problem – you know, in Raleigh, we had the hurricane and then we had a lot of rain.
LEN: So, I’m just trying to make sure that – I think the furnace sits on a cinder block – couple of cinder blocks up. It hasn’t – the water hasn’t reached the furnace, so it’s not like it’s a major problem.
TOM: Right. No. And I know that when this happens, people tend to want to speculate and calculate and like you’re saying, “Well, the road’s here and the house is there.” It’s really simple. If you get water in a basement or crawlspace after a heavy rain, it’s always the grading and the gutters. Always. There are no exceptions to that, OK?
TOM: So the solution is just to figure out what part of that is not working in your house, OK?
LEN: You think I should replace gutters with the …?
TOM: No. I think you should clean your gutters and I think you should extend the downspouts 4 to 6 feet away from the house so you don’t have any water coming off that roof that’s not drained those several feet from the house.
LESLIE: Going away from your property.
LEN: I got it. I got it.
LEN: OK. Yep. Thanks a lot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck.
LEN: Appreciate it.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Another example of people always thinking that an expensive problem has an expensive solution. Not when it comes to keeping water out of the below-grade spaces around your house. Very inexpensive solution.
LESLIE: No. And a lot of it is all preventative. If you just get ahead of the problem, there will be no problem.
TOM: Remember you had that wet basement years ago, Leslie? What was it? Was it a tennis ball or a toy or something? Was it one of the downspouts or something …?
LESLIE: No, it was – we had a buried downspout, so I couldn’t see where it deposited.
LESLIE: And at some point, it had disconnected. So, it was going down the downspout but it was going nowhere underground.
LESLIE: And so it was literally just going right against my foundation wall. And it was – the water in the basement wasn’t even anywhere near that wall. I was convinced it was a sprinkler or something. It had to be anything but. Because in the thick of it, you’re just thinking it’s something bigger and it doesn’t always have to be.
TOM: I told you the same thing that we told Len: it’s always the drainage.
LESLIE: I remember immediately taking a mat knife and started cutting out that carpet in the basement. We had just gotten the house and I remember walking downstairs and being like, “Carpet in the basement. That’s a terrible idea.” And the people were like, “It’s cozy.” So, it even happens to us.
Now we’ve got Kathy on the line who’s got a question about painting appliances. Tell us what’s going on.
KATHY: Well, I have an old house with wide pine floors. And my current refrigerator, which is probably somewhere between 34 and 36 years old, is that lovely harvest gold. You probably remember that color.
KATHY: So, when I say harvest gold, you know I’m going back a lot of years. So, I need a refrigerator. The one I have has been dying a slow death. So, I can’t get a colored refrigerator; they just don’t make them. So I wanted to have it painted and I was going to get a white refrigerator.
And I found an auto-body shop that would do it for me but I just wanted to know – I called the company that – I called Whirlpool because that’s the company I’m going to buy the refrigerator from. And they don’t recommend painting a refrigerator. So, I just wanted to know what your opinion was about painting a refrigerator.
TOM: So, if we got this right, you’re saying that you’re going to buy a new refrigerator but you’re going to paint it in a lovely, 1970s harvest gold?
LESLIE: You can get sticky vinyls printed at a variety of places. You can do it online. I bet Staples or a Kinko’s or something near you might also print on a sticky vinyl. And you can color-match that refrigerator to a Pantone color, which is something that they’d be able to pull right up into the computer and get that exact match. And then you can have it printed on a sticky vinyl, almost like an adhesive paper. And you could go right on top of that.
And you can get it in a matte-finish paper, you can get it in a glossy-finish paper. There’s a variety of places online that do it. Just make sure that you get it wide enough so that you’re doing it in one full width across the face of the fridge and to carry around to the sides. And truly, all you need is a steady hand and a squeegee. And it’s better than painting it. And if you get tired of the harvest gold in the future, you can just peel it away.
KATHY: Oh, that sounds wonderful. I hadn’t even thought of Staples.
TOM: Well, there you go. Alright, Kathy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And I’ve got to say, Leslie, that’s the first time we’ve ever had a caller who wanted to keep a 40-year-old paint color.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure.
TOM: Well, hands-free faucets have been around in commercial use for decades. But now they are designed more for the home and they provide quite a few health and safety advantages.
LESLIE: For one, you don’t need to worry about your hands being dirty or soapy or full. And they’re also great for keeping the germ count down, because you’re going to have less hands touching less surfaces.
Now, there are other advantages, as well. You’re going to save water because there’s no running the faucet while you’re soaping up your hands. It’s really great for people who have limited hand mobility. It’s also great for the chef in the house because you’re not reaching for the faucet with those raw, contaminated food hands that you’ve got while you’re cutting up the chicken. And then you’re like, “Ooh, now I need to wash it off my hands. Let me touch the faucet with my hands.” I mean it’s really crazy how dirty those faucets get.
And they’re also great for kids who just can’t reach. You just need to be able to touch or wave at that faucet and the water’s going to come on. So there’s so many benefits of these touch-free faucets. Super great.
TOM: Yeah. And they work pretty much like a regular faucet, in terms of installation. You have to plumb in the hot and the cold lines but they also have a battery pack that operates the touch feature.
Now, you might think that that’s a battery that has to be replaced frequently. It actually doesn’t because it’s only powering a little, tiny LED light. And so, those batteries can last easily over a year. And when it does need to be replaced, well, piece of cake. You just snap open that battery pack and stick in a new battery. It’s as easy as changing a battery in a flashlight.
LESLIE: Rudy in Ohio is on the line with a question about a metal roof. How can we help you today?
RUDY: We had a hailstorm that damaged my roof. And I wanted to replace it with a metal roof and I wanted your opinion on whether this is good to leave the roof on. And there’s a material called a – it’s some kind of bubble-like insulation that can be put on there and then just put the metal right over that versus tearing it off or even using furring strips over it. Just wondered what your opinion would be on that.
TOM: Sure. Well, listen, while you certainly could do that, I would not recommend it and I’d never do that to my own house. I just think it’s penny wise and pound foolish, as my mother always used to say, because you’re going to get the best job if you take that asphalt-shingle roof off. You’re talking about an investment-grade roof here. When you put a metal roof down, this roof’s going to last you 80, 100 years. This is going to outlast you and me. So, you might as well do this right. And I would not trap asphalt shingles between that new metal roof and the house for the next century. I think it’s a really bad way to apply the roof, even though some people will do it that way if they really want to save a little bit of money.
I think you’re better off taking that roof right down to the original sheathing and putting the metal roof on as if it was the first roof that house ever got. That’s going to give you the best job. It’s going to look better, it’ll lay flatter and you’re also going to be more energy-efficient. Because that asphalt-shingle roof will hold a lot of heat and make it more expensive for you to cool your house in the summertime.
You mentioned that there’s some sort of a bubble something or other. All those underlayments that maybe have a tiny bit of air and it may be sold by contractors as an insulator, they offer such an infinitesimally small amount of insulation that I tell you it’s just not worth it. So I would do – I would take it right down to the roof sheathing.
RUDY: I wasn’t thinking about it as so much of an insulation as just something to keep the metal from actually being in contact with the shingles.
TOM: Yeah. One of the issues that – when you put it against asphalt shingles is if those shingles are deformed in any way, it’s going to sort of transmit right through to the metal. So it’s a way of kind of smoothing things out. But it’s just not a good idea. You’re going to get a better installation out of that metal roof if you can just go right to the wood. And just do it once, do it right and you’ll never have to worry about it again, OK? It’s going to add some value to your house, as well.
Take care. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And by the way, if you’re listening to this call and thinking, “Well, does that apply to asphalt-shingle roofs, as well, if you’re putting on a new asphalt-shingle roof?” It absolutely does. You don’t want to put a second layer on for the same reasons: it’s not going to lay right, it’s going to hold a lot of heat, it’s going to raise your cooling costs because it’ll make the attic that much hotter. You’re just going to get a better job, all the way around, if you always remove your old roofing materials first and then put on the new roofing surface after that.
LESLIE: Hey, with the holidays right around the corner, what are you guys doing to get your house all decorated and fun and festive? I bet you’re working on a lot of things: putting up new lights, looking around the house for things to look really cute. Well, have we got a great opportunity for you guys to win some excellent tools for the holiday season.
It’s the Arrow Fastener Holiday Home Décor Giveaway. Twelve winners, guys, are going to receive a set of tools from Arrow Fastener, worth over $125, to help you with your home improvement holiday décor and crafts.
Now, one of the tools in this kit is the P21 Plier Stapler. Now, I really like this because, first of all, you’re going to be baking cookies and all types of baked goods and putting them in those adorable, little bags with the gift tags. This stapler allows you to just go flat across the top, one-handed. No opening anything up. It’s really fantastic. Plus, any gifts that you’re putting in a gift bag, same deal. You can decorate it right away with your plier stapler, get that label on. Super fast, super helpful for the holiday season.
But don’t forget, guys, it’s a huge prize pack worth 125 bucks with four tools. You can enter once a day, so do so today at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
TOM: That’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. Time to get into the ho-ho-home improvement mood.
LESLIE: Eleanor in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ELEANOR: My son has a house in South Carolina that has a floating dock on a pond in the backyard.
ELEANOR: And the geese love to do their business on that deck that …
TOM: I’ll bet they do.
ELEANOR: And we wondered what he could do to let them go somewhere else.
TOM: Well, look, there’s three different sort of categories of repellant. There’s chemical and I honestly don’t know a lot about that. There’s also sound, which can annoy the heck out of your neighbors. There’s different types of motion-activated alarms, so to speak. Some of them sound like gunshots, some of them are like a horn. And when the geese land or fly in the path of the motion detection, it goes off.
And then the third one, I would call them sort of “ornaments.” And we often recommend – for example, with woodpeckers, hanging on the house shiny pie plates and things like that that spin in the breeze. Well, they actually have different types of ornaments. You can find them, for example, on Amazon.com. And you could find the ones that have the best ratings. And essentially, what they are are sort of discs that spin around and they’re shiny and they kind of annoy the birds. And then they kind of stay away from it.
But that’s kind of really the three categories that folks use to try to minimize the amount of geese. They can be a real problem, so I don’t envy what you guys are going through. But that’s kind of what you’ve got to do to try to deal with them. You can either use a sound device, you can use a chemical repellant or you could use one of these ornaments that basically deter them from landing. OK?
ELEANOR: We got pie plates.
TOM: Alright. Well, start with that. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
ELEANOR: Thank you. I love your show.
TOM: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, broken water pipes can cause expensive home headaches and they happen most in the wintertime. That’s because pipes are carrying the water, they freeze, they expand and then they burst. And when the water defrosts or isn’t frozen anymore, it just starts running like crazy all around your house.
Now, ironically, though, the pipe most susceptible to freezing is the outdoor hose faucet. And it’s also the easiest to protect.
TOM: Yeah. All you need to do is replace the traditional hose faucets with frost-proof or freeze-proof faucets. You’ll never have to worry about it freezing and breaking as long as the inside of your home is heated. Now, with a standard faucet, the supply pipe connects to the faucet outside. And yeah, there’s probably a shutoff valve but the problem is that pipe is copper and copper transfers the cold pretty darn well. It transfers it right back into the house, it freezes the pipe, it expands and it breaks. And that is a really bad thing because once it breaks, especially if you’re not home, there is no stopping the water flow.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Do you remember, Tom, years ago I was at Disney with my mom and the boys?
LESLIE: And I got a phone call from my mom’s housekeeper, from the family vacation home. And she was like, “The water is everywhere.”
TOM: Yeah, I do remember that.
LESLIE: And we had several pipes burst and it truly – it was like a waterfall coming from the ceiling which – also, the ceiling was on the floor. So, you know, it’s definitely a huge headache, guys.
TOM: It wasn’t the most magical place on Earth, was it, at that moment?
LESLIE: Oh, no. I was like, “I’m about to get on the Runaway Train. Can I call you right back?” No, it was truly – what a disaster.
But guys, it’s an easy project to replace that faucet outside but it’s not a do-it-yourself project. Because installing one of these faucets involves soldering with a propane torch, so it truly is a project for experienced pros. And you’re going to still need to add a shutoff valve for these faucets on the interior side of the home.
Now, those frost-proof valves, guys, it’s not going to 100-percent say you’re never going to have a broken pipe but it truly is better safe than sorry.
TOM: And by the way, if you’re going to do this project, you want to make sure there’s also a shutoff inside the house, near where the pipe goes out through the wall for your garden hose but inside. And then just remember to shut those off in the wintertime.
And one more step: on the valve itself is a little, tiny brass cap. You should loosen that up and let it drain, because that’s the water that remains in the pipe between the shutoff and the valve outside. Even that 12 inches worth of water in that short pipe can cause the pipe to expand and break.
So, all these little things that we’re suggesting will make sure it does not happen to you. And you know what? There’s one person out there that never, ever, ever forgets to do this and that’s the guy that’s had it happen. Never forget again.
LESLIE: I mean truly.
TOM: Never forget again.
LESLIE: George in Texas is on the line with a driveway question. What can we do for you today?
GEORGE: Well, I was wondering about some – found big cracks in my concrete driveway. There anything to do with that?
TOM: So, are these new cracks, George? Or have they been there for a while?
GEORGE: Yeah, they’ve been there for a while. The concrete’s probably 40 years old.
TOM: OK. And how wide are the cracks? How far open are they?
GEORGE: Maybe a ½-inch.
TOM: Two things. Number one, you can repair these. And QUIKRETE makes a number of products that can help. But one thing that you want to do is, because the cracks are so wide, is you’re going to have to insert what’s called a “backer rod” in there first, which is like a very small foam tube. And you press that down until it’s about a ½-inch below the surface or maybe 3/8-inch below the surface. And then you can use a flowable urethane caulk on top of that. And the reason you’re putting the backer rod in there is so that you don’t lose a lot of the joint-sealing material down all the way down to the ground.
And once you do this and if you do it right, then that seal will expand and contract and it won’t crack again, OK? So you stuff the crack with the backer rod and then you repair it with a urethane sealant.
GEORGE: OK. What is it I’m putting first in the crack?
TOM: It’s called a “backer rod.” It’s like a foam tube.
GEORGE: Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s like a Styrofoam tube. It comes in different diameters.
LESLIE: To fill the gap.
TOM: It’s just to fill the gap.
GEORGE: I see. OK. And then all those smaller ones just don’t do that? Put the second item in there?
TOM: And then you apply the flowable urethane, OK? And that ought to do it.
GEORGE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re an avid DIYer and happen to have a garage, you can bet that there are many projects that get worked on in that space. But in winter, that gets a lot tougher as the garage is that one place under the roof which isn’t heated typically. But today, garages are just likely to serve as laundry rooms, workshops, play areas or even spaces for your pets. So, adding garage heating is a task that can become a very popular project, especially since so few of us use that space for actually putting a car in.
TOM: Yeah. Now, if this is a project you want to explore, the most common option is a forced-air heater. You’ve got options. These will deliver instant heat like a conventional furnace and they’re designed to solve any outdoor-heating need, which technically this is because it’s an unheated space. They’re available in gas or electric. They’re easy to use and reasonably easy to install. And they’re a great way to warm up an entire garage.
Now, if you’re using a gas-fired unit, of course you do need a gas line. You need an electrical outlet. The size depends on how much space you need to heat and where you are in the country.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, a basic rule of thumb for forced-air garage heaters is that you’re going to need 45,000 BTUs to heat a 2 to 2½-car garage and 60,000 BTUs for a 3-car garage. So you’ve got to keep that in mind by comparison to your home’s heating system, because that’s going to be a lot of extra heating expense.
TOM: Now, one way to cut down on that heating expense is to insulate your garage. Remember that usually only the wall between the house and the garage is likely to contain insulation. And detached garages may have absolutely no insulation. So, insulate all those exterior walls and remember that the doors – the garage doors; those big, old doors – are not insulated for the most part but they’re easy to add insulation to. You can use foam panels and add them to the inside of the garage door. And they can definitely help, as well as reduce noise transfer.
If you’re already considering a new garage door, though, make sure you specify an insulated one because it really adds a very small cost to the overall project.
LESLIE: Lynn in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help with a chimney. What can we do for you?
LYNN: Well, I have a 1980s brick fireplace. It is surrounded by library paneling, so the brick-surface area is just the hearth and a row of bricks on either side of the fireplace and perhaps two rows of bricks above the fireplace until it meets the mantel and the library paneling from there up.
LYNN: I want to give it a façade. And I thought about stucco-ing it or plaster of Paris or perhaps tiling it. I want to attempt to do this myself and I didn’t know if I was overstepping my boundaries.
TOM: Leslie, I think that tiling is kind of a cool idea, because that would be very attractive on a fireplace. I like that a lot better than stucco-ing it. What do you think?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I even like – outside of tiling, you can face it with marble or a granite. And that can really look beautiful and you can do that in a fuller sheet. They almost do it in three pieces and that looks stunning. You can also do it in a faux stone, so it looks like a ledgestone or a river rock. That really gives it some characteristic. It’s gorgeous that way.
LYNN: Could this go directly on top of the brick or would I need to prep the brick? I imagine I would need to fill the brick grout lines to make it a smooth finish, perhaps, before tiling?
TOM: No, because the – well, the tile could pretty much go over that.
LESLIE: Right. And your adhesive.
TOM: It might be a little tricky. Yeah, you would adhere it right to the brick. It might be a little tricky on the grout but I don’t think you have to put any kind of sheathing over it or anything like that.
LYNN: OK. Cool.
LESLIE: I wouldn’t. I think your adhesive is going to be enough. The only instance is if you had a super-uneven surface. I had a very old fireplace that the surface was – it almost was like a coral but it was this old cement stucco that looked like coral, that was all uneven. And I put a cement board over that, just to give me a level playing field. But if you’ve got an even surface, I think that’s the way to go.
LYNN: Wonderful. OK. I’m going to try this.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: What are you working on this almost holiday season? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand. So be sure to post your questions at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, just like Debbie did.
Now, Debbie writes: “We have a 20-year-old home that has the original oak cabinets in the kitchen. Is there a product that we can use that will prep them for painting without all of the sanding? We’re going to be selling soon and don’t want to put in all of the time into them by sanding them.”
TOM: You know, I feel your pain being in a rush and all that but you can’t rush this project. I mean if you do, it’s going to be one big mess. And a lot of times we see homeowners that are just trying to put a whitewash on everything in the house with a quick coat of paint. And I tell you, as a home inspector, that does not bode well for my report. Because I suspect that you should have been paying a little more attention to your home care and maintenance by doing things right.
Now, if you want to take on this project, what you really ought to think about doing is lightly sanding – you don’t have to heavily sand – lightly sanding those surfaces and cleaning them well to remove any grease and grime.
But one thing that will make it easier is to use the right kind of primer. There is a primer, Debbie, called “high-bond primer” or “bonding primer.” And the difference between that and the kind you might use on your walls is it’s designed to stick to the slick surfaces of the cabinets and the oil-based finishes and all that sort of stuff. I would definitely apply a bonding primer followed by a solvent-based or oil-based topcoat, maybe semi-gloss, so that the cabinets become cleanable.
If you do this right and you do it well, they’re going to stand up. You don’t want the paint to start peeling off as new, prospective home buyers are walking through and opening up and looking at every nook and cranny. It could really sour the entire deal if they think that the first thing they’d have to do is replace your kitchen.
LESLIE: And those painted cabinets can be really gorgeous. You’re absolutely right. And you know what? If you do a good job, it’s really going to give you a nice return on your investment.
TOM: Yep. Good point.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Ann in Florida. She writes: “I live in a second-floor condo of a three-story building. The neighbor next to me just discovered that she has black mold growing on several of her walls. I have walls that are adjacent to some of hers. Should I worry?”
TOM: Possibly. I mean Florida is a damp, moist place where you typically get a lot of mold. I think it’s definitely something you have to stay on top of. Because you have a connected wall there, if there was a leak that got, for example, into the wall – maybe even not caused by your neighbor; it could be just a roof leak in the building or something – it may start to grow inside that wall. And it’s not going to respect any property lines, I’ll tell you that. It’s going to come through all sides.
So, I would stay in touch with the neighbor and with the condominium association. Make sure that this is properly addressed which, by the way, doesn’t mean the maintenance guy goes in there with a bottle of bleach. One of the worst things you can do is have an amateur try to clean mold, because you release spores to the air. And if you’re sensitive to that particular type of mold, you’re going to get very, very uncomfortable. So it needs to be taken care of by a professional.
So I would definitely communicate that and especially to the association who is going to have ownership of those common structures, which could be the wall in between you and the neighbor. And do so in writing so that there is a documented record that you made them aware of the problem and asked them to have it properly and professionally fixed.
LESLIE: Alright, Ann. Good luck with that. Remember, the quicker you tackle this problem, the less of an issue it’s going to be. So get right on it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And we want to take a moment just to say thank you – thank you all – for taking time out of your day to listen to this program. We hope that we bring value to your lives. We hope that we bring value to your home improvement and décor projects. And we will be here if something pops up in your money pit and you need a hand. You can always reach us at MoneyPit.com. Post your question right there or through one of our social-media channels or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
But for now, it’s time to go. 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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