Space is at a premium these days and one area not to overlook is UP, the attic! We highlight several ways to take advantage of the attic space overhead, including how to plan for ceiling height, stairs, heating, cooling and décor.
- If you think back over the years, have you made energy saving or other improvements to your home that upped its “green” factor? Those green home improvements could just help you sell your home more quickly than the competition. Tom & Leslie tell you why, just ahead in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
- Icicles look very pretty hanging from the edge of your roof this time of year… but did you know they may signal a potential problem with your roof that can cause pretty major leaks? We’ll have tips on how to prevent ice dams (and the leaks they cause!)
- After spending so much time at home recently, you’d like to change up your décor but your budget is already strained! There are ways to stretch that budget, along with your creative “muscles”, to create a place you’ll be proud to call home – just by repurposing what you have, or perhaps items your collect from friends or family
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, repairing floorboards, preparing walls for painting, replace windows, best way to heat a small cabin.
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: We hope that we find you well. We hope that we find you relaxed and getting ready for the holidays ahead. I expect that you are nesting with your friends and family in your tight, little bubble. And if you are thinking about making some improvements – because, man, home improvement has gone crazy this year since the quarantine’s started. Everybody’s fixing up their houses and that’s what we’re here to help you do. So if you’ve got some questions, you’ve got some projects in mind, you’d like to get started on something, let us help.
Couple of ways to get in touch with us. You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question online at MoneyPit.com or reach out through Facebook: Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
So, coming up on today’s show, if you think back over the years, have you made energy-saving or other types of improvements to your home that may have upped its sort of green factors? You know, those environmentally-friendly, energy-saving type improvements? Well, it turns out those improvements could actually help you sell your home more quickly than the competition. We’ll explain why and what you need to do to be ready, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And also ahead, icicles. They’re so wintery and they really look very pretty hanging from the edge of your roof this time of year. But did you know that they may signal a potential problem going on with your roof that can cause pretty major leaks? We’re going to have some tips on how you can prevent ice dams and the leaks that they may cause.
TOM: And in most cases, usable space is at a premium these days and any opportunity to add more is definitely tempting. But one area not to overlook is up. We’re talking about the attic. We’re going to highlight several ways you can take advantage of the space overhead, in just a bit.
LESLIE: But most importantly, we want to know what’s going on at your money pit. Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on this holiday season and how we can lend a hand. We’re standing by at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Virgil in South Dakota, what can we do for you today?
VIRGIL: Hi. I’ve got an old home that I am restoring and renovating and remodeling. It’s over a century old. And part of the process has been installation of a relatively high energy-efficient furnace.
VIRGIL: And I just got it started and was away from the home for a while. Came back and everything was froze solid. The exhaust had developed a plug of ice and the furnace would not run.
TOM: Ooh, that’s not good.
VIRGIL: No, that’s for sure. Anyway, the contractor that installed it rerouted the pipe so it would go through a heated room instead of up in the attic.
VIRGIL: And so I have it going above the lay-in ceiling over my bathroom. So I’ve got probably a foot to a foot-and-a-half of an inch-and-a-half exhaust pipe sticking out of the side of the house. And I’m wondering, am I going to have a problem with that? And if so, how can I prevent it from happening again?
TOM: Yeah. That’s a good question. In this situation, I would turn to the manufacturers, making sure that they’re – that you follow the recommended installation instructions for this type of a system. With a high-efficiency furnace, what happens is you take so much heat out of that exhaust gas that what’s left is mostly water vapor. Eighty percent of it or more is water vapor. And so that’s why you have to be able to have a way to deal with that.
Now, if that pipe is in a heated area, if it’s insulated, that’s going to stop the ice from forming. But of course, it’s dangerous if it does form because if you can’t exhaust the gas, then that’s going to shut down the furnace, which is a safety switch, basically.
TOM: So, I – to me, I would make sure first that I’ve – that the contractor has installed that venting consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations, which I’m sure you can find on their website. There are very detailed instructions on that sort of thing. And secondly, I would just watch it now and see what happens. Time is going to tell.
VIRGIL: Kind of a vacation home and I’m not there for a good part of the time. So I can’t be out checking it.
TOM: Right, yeah. Do you have a smart thermostat for that house?
VIRGIL: No. There’s no internet there.
TOM: Ugh. That’s too bad. I was going to suggest that this would be a great application for a smart thermostat that can monitor the temperature in the house. This way, you’ll know if it’s working or not.
VIRGIL: My other choice might be if I put in one of those smart outlets that turns on at 35 and off at 45. And if it turns on at 35, maybe one of the neighbors would see a flashing red light or something.
TOM: See a light, yeah. Exactly. Yeah.
Listen, I think that you need to work with the contractor and the manufacturer to figure out why this was – why this is happening. But I do suspect that that venting has to run – be run through a heated area and it’s got to be better insulated. OK?
VIRGIL: Well, he did have it insulated and it was in the attic, which is totally unheated. So, he did move it down to a heated area. And I can even move the temperature up a little bit by lifting one of the tiles in the lay-in ceiling in the winter.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marilyn, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
MARILYN: We are a military family. My husband’s in the military and I’m a stay-at-home mom to five kids and we home-school. And basically, in the past when we’ve moved, we’ve always bought a house and – basically, thinking that if you pay yourself it’s better than paying someone else. However, we’re moving to Illinois this time and the property taxes are quite excruciatingly high. And we’re just trying to decide if it’s better to buy or to rent this time.
TOM: So do you know how long your husband – well, first of all, thank you for your service and your family’s service. Do you know how long you will be in the Illinois area?
MARILYN: Well, it could be anywhere from two years to three, four, five. You never know with the military.
TOM: Because you know what the risk is if you buy a house and then it turns out you have to move again. If you can’t sell it or if you – if the market turns and it ends up not being worth what you paid for it, you could get underwater pretty quick on that. And so, in circumstances when you’re in the military, I think a lot of times it does make sense to rent. Because the other thing is you don’t want to have to move out of there – “Now I need to carry two houses” – maybe find yourself being a distant landlord to a property. Now, these are all difficult scenarios that you really want to avoid.
Have you spoken with your accountant about the tax consequences of perhaps renting instead of buying? Because there may be some advantages there.
MARILYN: We haven’t yet because we just found out a couple days ago, so …
TOM: And you know what? You can always rent first. Renting is a short-term commitment. I understand that moving is a hassle but you could always rent first, get to know the area, get more comfortable and then make a decision later if it looks like you’re going to stay. You don’t have to do it all in once.
MARILYN: OK. I guess my hesitation with that is that we have five small children. So I’d like to move as little as possible.
TOM: I would think that – better off selling it now, putting it on the market now. Maybe you’ll find a cooperative buyer who can delay the closing date until you guys are ready to move out. But I wouldn’t want to find you stuck not being able to get a buyer, running out of time, while your family needs to move on to the new location. So I think a bird in a hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. So I would try to put that on the market now and hopefully it’ll sell quickly and you’ll be able to take your time getting to the new location.
And by the way, since I can imagine, with five kids, you find the house just chock full with stuff, the best way to get your house ready to sell – there’s a great article on our website at MoneyPit.com about this. But conceptually, what we’d like to see you do is to try to declutter as much as possible, make those rooms look big and bright. Because anybody that’s going to buy your house is going to probably move in from, say, another crowded house or crowded apartment. You want to make sure it looks like your stuff can – their stuff can fit in there. And then if you have any rooms that need to be repainted, just choose neutral colors for the same reason. Make it look open and inviting and that will help you sell the property as quickly as possible.
LESLIE: Heading out to Pennsylvania where Andrew has a question about replacement windows. How can we help you?
ANDREW: I was calling because I had a house that was built like 1850s. And I have 31 windows in the house, ranging anywhere from 32 inches to 58. Some of them are as big as 4 feet by 7 feet. And I’m going to be selling in five years and I was wondering how much equity in the windows replacing them would kind of add towards the house, if it was worth doing.
And because the house was 179,000, I put an addition on it; I only got 6,000 back on it when it reappraised. And I just don’t want to stick a bunch of money into something I don’t think I’ll recoup. And my question is – I have a bunch of estimates and contractors. And I was – so, anyway, I had a bunch of contractors and they all range a lot. But the windows are leaking really bad, so I’m sure it could recoup the cost by replacing them. And they range – the estimates range from $22,000 to $39,000.
So I guess – how much is a fair price to pay? Does it matter who I have to do them? And how do you know a good contractor, because they say – oh, they say different things? You know what I mean? And what’s a good rating to pick on these windows? Should I go triple-pane glass or krypton gas?
TOM: Those are all really great questions. And let me sort of take them one at a time.
First of all, in terms of the cost, how many windows did you say you had? About 40 was it?
ANDREW: Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, something like that. I forget exactly, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So what are we averaging here on a cost per window? Is that around – did I do this right? Is it around 600 bucks?
ANDREW: No, I have 30 windows. I had estimates as high as 39,000.
TOM: Oh, that’s crazy.
ANDREW: Yeah $39,000. I had some of them at like – I think the cheapest one was 22.
TOM: That sounds pretty crazy. So, look, a couple things come to mind. First of all, we want to try to find a way to do this as inexpensively as possible. There are windows that you can buy that are very expensive, that will have a very historic feel to them, but I think that’s not going to be for you.
So what I think you want is that you want a good-quality, sort of minimal but serviceable grade of window. And what I would tell you to do is to go to a major retailer like, for example, The Home Depot. I’ve bought a number of windows there over the years – replacement windows – and I believe they have a measuring service, as well, where they’ll come out and measure the windows for the order.
Now, you don’t have to do these all at once because you wanted to, say, perhaps do this yourself. You can do it yourself. It’s not terribly complicated to do a replacement window. But I would start small by maybe doing a couple of windows in one room till you kind of get the hang of it.
The way it works is you pretty much take out the operable sashes – I presume these are double-hung – so you’ll take out the bottom sash and the top sash. The new window will be built to fit right in what’s left over, essentially. So the jambs of the window and the sill of the window and the head of the window, it’ll fit right inside of that. It will be attached to that, it’ll be caulked in place.
And then the part that gets a little tricky, that you may not have the tools for, is that most of the time the window companies will do one more thing and that is they’ll wrap the sill and the trim outside with aluminum. And so that takes a bit of skill but you might be able to have a siding company come in and do that after the fact. Just do all the wrapping of the trim and the sills kind of en masse and you do all the installation on the windows. That’s, I think, how I might proceed here. Because I think if you go direct to some of these window companies, where they’re trying to do it all themselves, I think this is going to be really expensive.
In terms of the quality in window, how do you tell the difference? There’s a rating called the NFRC rating. It’s the National Fenestration Rating Council. And they have certain standards that they check, like UV transmittance, for example. There’s a number – I think there’s five or six different measures of energy efficiency. You get – the label is on the window. You can compare that against other windows and try to make a decision from there. Does that make sense?
ANDREW: Alright. Hey, I really appreciate that.
TOM: You’ve got it, man. Take care. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, that’s a scene that so many homeowners find themselves in, Leslie. They get these crazy prices where the lowest – the difference between the lowest- and the highest-price bid is twice as much. So, that’s why I always say that some of these contractors bid you and not the job.
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. Are you kidding? Your neighborhood, how you’re dressed, all that stuff.
TOM: I mean this guy’s got all these windows and he’s just trying to get it done right but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. The windows that are available at home centers are actually quite nice. Who do you think makes them? Same windows that – same manufacturers that make the more well-known brand.
LESLIE: And when you think about it, one of the home centers is buying a far greater quantity of windows. They’re able to get you a better price.
TOM: Yeah. And they’re not going to be in business for long if they’re selling you junky windows, right?
Well, if you’ve lived in your home for a number of years, you probably made some improvements to make it more energy-efficient or to cut back on some maintenance. Maybe you chose materials, though, that were produced in a way that limits any negative impact to the environment. And that could be good news, because improvements like these can add to your home’s greenness and are now a valuable consideration for potential home buyers but only if they know about them.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s why it’s smart to create a green inventory of these elements. You want to list every improvement that’s reduced the home’s impact on Mother Earth.
Now, these could be new appliances, faucets that use less water, even LED light bulbs that use less energy. And don’t forget about building materials that last longer and then need less maintenance, like fiber-cement siding or even vinyl siding. Anything other than wood.
TOM: Well, that’s right. So here’s what you should do. Create a green inventory. Document every element, list it out and have that available for review by potential home buyers. You can bet that the neighboring homes you’re competing against are not going to do this. And buyers will be impressed and you might just get the sale, over competing houses that are next door, because you took that step.
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LESLIE: Now we’re going to South Carolina where Caroline is on the phone with a question about oak flooring. What can we do for you today?
CAROLINE: I have an old house built in 1940. Hardwood floors. And I’ve got two almost holes near the living-room door. And on into the hallway here, where each room meets – the hallway is the center – I have this iron grate. It’s about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long and that’s where the return is for the heating and air-conditioning. And the wood seems to be caving a little bit around that. And I was wondering, can he fix that back as good as it – is it possible to fix that back as good as it was the way they built it in 1940? Or will there be a problem around the return?
TOM: Are you still using that return? Is that still an active part of your heating-and-cooling system?
CAROLINE: It is.
TOM: So, yeah. Certainly, when you have worn-out oak floorboards, sometimes they’ll wear through or they’ll become insect-damaged. They absolutely can be rebuilt the same way they were when they were originally installed. It’s a bit of a tricky carpentry job but it’s not too terribly difficult.
What the contractor has to do is he’ll cut out the old board. Usually, he’ll use a circular saw, he’ll plunge-cut down the middle and then use a chisel to kind of break it out. And then putting the new board in is a bit tricky, especially if it’s tongue-and-groove, which most of them are. Because what you have to do is you have to cut the back of the groove piece off so that you can sort of put it in and overlap the older piece with that. Because you can’t use one that’s a full groove because, obviously, you can’t get it in there. It’s like trying to put in a puzzle piece. But you cut the back of the groove side off and then it becomes sort of a lap joint, you drop the new board in.
Now, if there’s one tricky part, it’s really just in the finishing. I had a floor that was much like that where we had an old floor furnace that took up a big space in the middle of the room. And so we were able to frame that out and actually put new hardwood floor in there and sort of feather it, like almost like a finger joint with the original floor. The floors were different colors for a while because they had a natural finish on it. But over the course of about the next year, it sort of faded and darkened and then blended and now you could never tell the difference between the repair and – the new wood that was repaired and the old wood that was there existing.
CAROLINE: OK. I need to have my house checked for termites, I think.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Canada is on the line and needs some help with a painting project. How can we help you?
BOB: I have a drywall – regular drywall wall – that’s been painted, I’m assuming, with regular latex paint. But what has happened is whoever painted it Varathaned (ph) over it. So, I now have to try to figure out what’s the best way to cover it and I’m thinking maybe you folks can tell me the best way to prepare the wall to either repaint it or wallpaper it.
TOM: You have Varathane on top of drywall?
BOB: Yes, sir.
LESLIE: So it’s like a super-shiny surface?
BOB: Yeah. What it was is they did all kinds of different, I guess, sponge painting and feather dusting and all this other wild kind of paint. Actually, one wall, I really like it. It’s a mural but the yellow – the Varathane over the years – I guess it was about 15 years ago they did it and the Varathane is really yellowed. So it’s now – the mural has got this yellow tinge to it. If I could actually get the Varathane off without destroying the mural, I’d like that but I kind of gave up trying different spots here and there. And I’m realizing that painting over Varathane is tough.
TOM: Well, painting straight over it but what do you think, Leslie? As long as it’s got good adhesion, he could prime it?
LESLIE: Yeah. But I’m trying to think of a creative way to just remove that urethane top coating so that you can still get that mural and I …
TOM: That’s the decorator in you not wanting to let it go.
LESLIE: I know. I mean if he likes it, I want to figure out a way to make it stay. A part of me would almost say reach out to a local university that has an art-history or an art-restoration program.
TOM: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Yep, mm-hmm.
LESLIE: And find out what they might do because they’re able to remove layers of paint on masterpieces of work that are hundreds of years old and valuable beyond belief.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s the hot ticket. You need – see, you have to understand that the primer has different qualities than the paint. And so, if you tried to paint it, I wouldn’t expect the paint to stick to that old finish. But if you used a good oil-based primer or solvent-based primer, you should get very good adhesion to that wall surface. And then on top of that, once it dries, then you could use a latex wall paint.
BOB: Ah. Well, I certainly will give that a shot. I really – thank you very – it’s too bad about this mural because it’s the one wall in the whole house that we all agree it’s a really nice, pretty mural. But unfortunately, the Varathane is so yellowed. So maybe I’ll call the University of Windsor here in Ontario and ask them if they can help me out. Maybe they can give me a solution.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Hey, maybe it’s a worthwhile painting you have on there and they’ll be willing to restore it for you.
BOB: Well, you never know. Maybe that university student will someday become famous.
TOM: That’s right. Alright, Bob. Good luck with that project.
BOB: Thank you very much for accepting my call.
TOM: It’s our pleasure. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, having snow on your roof and icicles on the eaves might look pretty but both could mean that you’ve got a problem.
Now, heavy snowfalls followed by warmer days often allow that ice to sort of dam up at the roof’s edge. And that’s going to block the melting snow from coming down and that can lead to some serious leaks inside your home.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s more common in attics that have a lack of insulation and also those that are not properly ventilated. So if you want to prevent ice dams, you need to be sure your roof has the ventilation and I would suggest good soffit and ridge vents and plenty of insulation. And don’t let it block the outside wall of your house. Make sure it has a baffle that sorts of presses it down when it gets to the outside edge, so you get good airflow in the soffits and up under the sheathing and out the ridge.
Now, if you plan to replace your roof soon, you want to be sure to have the contractor install ice-and-water shield. And that is a roofing product that goes from the roof edge up about 3 feet under the roof as sort of an extra layer of protection against ice dams, because that’s where the water leaks happen.
Now, if you live in a southern climate, an ice-and-water shield underlayment can actually help protect you, as well. And it protects against leaks from heavy, wind-driven rain like the type you might get during a hurricane. And seeing this crazy, active hurricane season we’ve just had, you know, this really is a good investment that could help you out a lot.
Now, in that installation, you would put it over the entire roof and then the shingles are installed on top of it, so it helps protect for the entire roofing surface.
TOM: Yeah. And this way, if the shingles get blown off, the ice-and-water shield is still attached and that protects your home until you can get back to fixing it.
LESLIE: Jenny in Maryland is on the line with a squeaky floor. What’s going on?
JENNY: I live in a one-bedroom apartment for 28 years. And I’m on the second floor and the apartment above me is on the third floor and there’s a single family that moved in five years ago. And the floorboards are really squeaking. I called the office manager and she told me – they came and checked the floorboards and she told me that they cannot be fixed. And I want to know if they can be fixed.
TOM: Yeah, they can be fixed. Do you know what kind of floors are up there?
JENNY: They’re just like plywood, like wooden floors. I mean just…
TOM: Are they hardwood floors, by any chance?
JENNY: No, no, no, no.
TOM: Is it plywood that’s under carpet?
JENNY: Right, right. Exactly.
TOM: So, I think the answer is not that they can’t be fixed but she doesn’t want to fix it because here’s what has to happen. The reason you get squeaks in floors is because the board is either rubbing against the beam below or it’s rubbing against another board, if it’s the case of sort of multiple layers of plywood in this scenario. Or the nail that was used to drive the – attach the plywood to the floor joist, sometimes the nail will loosen up and then rub in and out of the floor joist and that will make a sound.
The solution in either case is to re-secure the subfloor and here’s how that has to happen the right way: that is to pull the carpet up and then to go, basically, beam by beam and not nail but screw the subfloor down to the floor joist below. Instead of using flooring nails, you would use, say, a 3-inch drywall screw – a case-hardened screw. And basically, that will secure that plywood and everything below it down to the floor joist. Doing that in every room where it’s squeaking will dramatically reduce the floor movement and hence, dramatically reduce the floor squeaks.
JENNY: Well, I appreciate your time.
TOM: Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, in most homes, usable space is always at a premium, right? You never have enough of it. So, any opportunity to add more space is definitely tempting, which is why the attic can be a great space for remodeling.
But the first thing you need to check is the height. You want to determine sort of that head-banging potential by measuring it from the floor to the highest point. If it’s 7 feet or more, you’ll be able to walk comfortably down the center of the attic and you can probably make a go of it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, if this is a job that you want to take on, it is highly advisable to work with an architect or any other design pro to help you work through the issues and detail exactly what you need to get done.
TOM: Yeah. And beyond that basic design, you do need to plan on improving the attic floor joists, for example, during the conversion by pretty much doubling them up. We call it “sistering” those joists. You put the new one next to the old one. And if they’re properly installed, they can span over load-bearing walls and they can support a normal floor’s worth of traffic.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, you also need to think about stairs. How are you getting up there? Now, if you can only get up there currently by maybe a ladder or a pull-down stairs, you’re going to need some room for a proper staircase for permanent access to that space. And these do take up a lot of room.
Now, you’ll need about 14 feet or so of space to build a straight staircase and much less if you’re looking at some angular configurations.
TOM: Now, the other thing to think about is air conditioning. Hey, heat rises and believe me, it’s going to be as hot as heck up in that attic if you don’t deal with this. You need to have the right kind of heating and ventilation and air-conditioning configuration. And it is not likely that you can add to what you already have. So you have to think about a separate system like, for example, a split-ductless system that could provide both heat and that all-important air conditioning up in that attic space.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, when you’re in the attic, you might be noticing something called your “chimney” and think, “Woah, I never realized this was here.” Well, it does get up to the roof somehow and generally, it’s right through your attic. So you have to figure out what other parts of this mechanical system in your attic can be moved, what can stay there. And something like moving that vent pipe from your bathroom is a lot easier than rerouting that chimney or moving the entire air handler. There’s a lot of stuff that you just kind of have to figure out how to work around.
TOM: And lastly, think about lighting. If you think about it, attic spaces are kind of hard places to light because you don’t always have flat, vertical walls, nor do you have horizontal ceilings, right? You have these angular configurations. So you’ve got to figure out how are you going to light it. It might be a good opportunity for skylights or roof windows and that sort of thing, because it definitely is a bit of a challenge.
But all in, it is a great space to remodel. It’s just a difficult space to remodel. So, some of these things you can do yourself. But the best first step is to work with a pro to kind of lay out the issues and decide if it’s something you want completely done professionally or if you want maybe the pro to handle parts of it.
For example, we talked about the roof height. You know, just because the center beam is high enough, you may not be able to walk to the left or right, so you could have to put in a dormer. So one option might be to have the pro build the dormer and then you do all the finish work. You get the idea. But it’s definitely not a space to be overlooked.
LESLIE: Christy in Delaware is on the line. How can we help you today?
CHRISTY: I have a back porch that is on a concrete slab and I recently installed a storm door. It’s a 36-inch door and the bottom of the door has the built-in weather-stripping. But it was installed and everything’s fine but there’s pieces of that concrete slab, right where the door is, that over time has chipped away and more specifically, in each of the corners. And I’m wondering, what can I do to build it up, fill it in without having to buy a whole bag of Sakrete?
TOM: So you’re going to want to use a patching compound on that. And you’re right: it’s not typical – it’s not a typical, bagged concrete mix. It’s made by the same manufacturers. Take a look at QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have a patching compound. And basically, the difference is the patching compounds are designed to stick to the original concrete surface. So if you have some chips or broken-out sections there, you can repair it with the patching compound. And this way, it’ll stay through the weather.
And in terms of that door that’s not striking properly, what you could do is put a sweep on the outside of that door. They have door sweeps that attach to the outside. And they’re adjustable so that you can have one side be lower than the other. And some of them are rubber where you can actually scroll it – take a marker and trace the uneven concrete surface to the bottom of the door sweep and basically cut it to fit.
CHRISTY: Yeah. Because the problem that I’m having is little critters get in – slugs, crickets, that kind of thing – and it’s really not – it’s just the corners.
TOM: I would do both. I would patch the concrete and if the door sweep is still not in constant contact, I would replace it and then adjust it to fit.
CHRISTY: OK. Great.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Christy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Post your question, just like Louis in Rhode Island did who writes: “There are small moisture spots on the steel support beams in my basement. I’ve tried priming and painting them with Rust-Oleum oil-based primer and paint. I don’t get water in the basement and I run a dehumidifier during the summer months. Can you tell me what’s causing them and what do I do?”
TOM: Yeah, well, it is a water problem but it’s a humidity problem more than anything else. Further evidenced by the fact that you feel you have to run a dehumidifier in the summer.
So, what’s basically happening is you have warm, moist air in the basement and then the beam is colder. So, as the warm, moist air settles against the beam, it condenses and the water droplets start to form on the beam and then rust forms as a result of that.
So, you do have a humidity issue, which means you have a moisture problem even though you don’t have puddles down there. So, you’ve got to start outside by improving the grading, cleaning the gutters and getting those downspouts away from the foundation at least 4 feet. You do those three things, this problem should go away.
LESLIE: Alright. That’s great advice, Tom.
Louis, good luck with your project.
TOM: Well, after spending so much time at home recently, you’d like to probably change up your décor but perhaps your budget is already strained. So what do you do? Well, how about a little creative brainstorming? Leslie has got some ideas to get you started, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, there are ways that you can do that by stretching your budget, along with having some creative muscles to create a place that you’re going to be so proud to call home. And you can do it by repurposing what you’ve got or maybe even collecting some items from friends and family.
Now, the first step is to experiment with what you already have. You can have fun moving things around. You can even pull something from one room and test-drive it in another. And also think about experimenting with creating vignettes.
Now, I always use vignettes as sort of little areas of décor or a little spot where I create a moment with accessories. And I like to do that with uneven numbers of decorative items. So, maybe three or five and it looks cute on top of a chest. Or if you’ve got a dresser as a side table in the living room and you keep your kids’ toys in it – that’s what I do – I’d do a little thing up there. So you can find cute spots.
Now, the key here, guys, to not worry about is matching. Don’t worry about matching. Now, designers, for the most part, we really don’t like sets of furniture. We like to mix and match things. As long as they’re in the same scale and their fabrics can relate to one another and their finishes, as well, then it’s going to work fantastically. You do not need to get a set of furniture. And you’ll still have something that looks personal, homey, really great by just mixing and matching.
Now, you can also carry this idea into the bedroom by buying single sheets, pillowcases, shams, things that are on sale. And then create a custom look for your bed by mixing and matching all of those colors and patterns. You just have to think about what patterns work well. A large-scale one with a small-scale one. Mix it up.
Now, also think about using some baskets. These are great for storage in small spaces and the woven design is going to add some natural texture and some warmth. And this really works great in an apartment if you haven’t been able to paint the walls or you’ve got a lot of off-white and cream in the space. Beautiful look to add in that natural texture there. And you can also get those baskets super cheap at those off-price stores. You can even find some vintage baskets in different shapes and sizes if you head to the flea markets.
Now, if you have just a little bit of imagination and a lot of willingness to bend some rules just a bit, there’s no reason why you can’t have a place that you love spending more time in. We’ve got more tips for budget décor on MoneyPit.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, whether your old furnace is shot or you want a more efficient upgrade, a new furnace should never be an impulse buy. But too often, that is exactly what does happen, especially if your heating system gives out in the middle of winter. We’re going to explain how to shop for furnaces the smart way, 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.)
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