- Farmhouse décor is more popular than ever. Tom & Leslie help you get started with ideas for eco-friendly farmhouse fix ups.
- Is your family growing? Before you hear the pitter patter of little feet – It’s smart to make sure home sweet home is safe as can be for kids. We’ve got everything you need to know about baby proofing your money pit, coming up.
- While many young adults return home to save money, a basement may be a good choice for a bedroom and a bit of privacy. But building codes demand some special requirements for sleeping spaces below grade. We explain why and help you determine if basement bedroom renovationsmake sense for your home.
- Want to get rid of popcorn ceilings? If you’re tired of flakes falling on your face, food, and clothes, or just grossed out by the dust and dirt it collects, we explain the easiest ways to make popcorn ceilings disappear.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, replacing older windows, heating your home with a wood stove, floor patchingbefore installing engineered flooring,hiring a home inspector.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, do you have a house that you love, yet still needs some care and feeding? Well, then you have a money pit, just like us. And we are here to help you spend as little money as possible on taking care of that house. So whether it’s a fix-up, a renovation, a décor project, we would love to help you get that job done. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, decorating is a very fun and important step to make your house feel like home but there are dozens of décor styles to choose from. And farmhouse décor is one that is shooting to the top. It’s more popular than ever, so we’re going to help you get started with some ideas for eco-friendly farmhouse fix-ups.
LESLIE: And also ahead, is your family growing? Well, before you hear the pitter-patter of little feet, it’s smart to make sure that your home-sweet-home is safe as can be. We’ve got everything that you need to know about babyproofing your money pit, coming up.
TOM: And while many young adults are returning home to save money, a basement may be a good choice for a bedroom and a bit of privacy. But building codes demand some very special treatment of space like that if you’re going to sleep in it. So we’re going to sort out these to see if it makes sense for you.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on. Whether you’re dealing with a repair or you’re dreaming about a renovation, we are here to help.
TOM: That’s right. So you can consider us your coach, your helper or your home improvement therapist. If you’ve got a question about remodeling or décor or fix-up, you’re in the right place. Give us a call, right now, and we will help. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, let’s get to it. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.
And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that but I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?
TOM: How long have you been in this house?
DREAMA: Thirteen years.
LESLIE: And this is new.
DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.
TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.
The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.
TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.
The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.
TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.
Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.
I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year, because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.
DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.
TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.
So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?
DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Dreama. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Texas is dealing with a dangerous situation. You’ve got water leaking through a light in your kitchen?
KEVIN: I actually live in an apartment but nevertheless, my concerns are obviously valid for my health and so forth. All of a sudden, water started coming through the light fixture in the kitchen. And I threw down buckets and went up and knocked on the gentleman upstairs’ door and it turned out his washing machine had gone crazy and had put a bunch of water in my ceiling that – most of which came right through the light fixture, point of least resistance.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
KEVIN: However, I can tell that it got into the rest of the ceiling. There’s a place where this living room is bowed in with the stain, so I know that it got wet up inside there. And furthermore, the guy, when he was made aware of it, apparently thought that it wouldn’t act up anymore and actually turned on his washing machine again and went and stepped into the shower. And so it just leaked profusely until we could finally get his attention, between me and Maintenance.
TOM: Oh, my God.
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean we’re sitting there with shop vac, buckets and mops and just shaking our heads.
KEVIN: So it was a one-time event, so it wasn’t an ongoing leak. And I was wondering what my risks are of black mold. Is there a test? Is there a preventative? What’s the story with that?
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. But here’s the good news: a single leak like that that happened and then dried out is not going to become an ongoing mold problem. If it stays wet for a long, long time and especially if it’s in an unheated place, it’s more likely to become a mold problem. But a single leak like that is not.
And also, one more point and that is you mentioned that your ceiling bowed. If – and I hope it doesn’t – but if that ever happens to you again, what you want to do is somewhat counterintuitive but that is to poke a hole in the ceiling wherever you see that water starting to form.
TOM: Because it’s easier to fix a hole than it is to replace the entire ceiling, which is probably what’ll end up having to be done. But when you see water coming through like that, what you should do is grab a screwdriver and just poke a couple of holes until you find the spot where the water just starts dripping out.
TOM: The quicker you can empty that ceiling of water, the better off you’re going to be.
And we had a problem like that not too long ago because of a piece of flashing that blew off our roof. And the first thing I did was took a Phillips screwdriver and poked three or four holes until I found the right spot. All that water drained right out and all I had to do was fix those holes. And it didn’t even have a stain on the ceiling when we were done.
KEVIN: Wow, yeah. That’s good advice there. I guess I should have thought of that but when you’re renting, you’re a little bit reluctant to do that.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t know. And that’s why I always take the opportunity to mention it, because it’s – first of all, you don’t have the experience because, thankfully, people don’t get these kinds of leaks. But secondly, it’s very counterintuitive because you don’t want to damage your ceiling. Well, it’s already damaged once that water is behind it and it’s going to get a lot worse really fast unless you poke a hole in it.
KEVIN: Good point, though. Good point. Alright. Thank you, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Renee in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RENEE: Yes, mine is kind of like a double question. I have about a 30-year-old, connected-on-both-sides townhome, two levels.
TOM: OK. OK.
RENEE: And I heard a crack a couple months back. Well, you know, it was one of the support beams and it just – like a big, strong branch just cracked.
TOM: Did you actually see the cracked beam somewhere?
RENEE: No, I didn’t see that but I have begun to have cracks along on that same side of the house, in the corners of the wall?
RENEE: Down the corners where it’s breaking apart. But at the same time, I’ve noticed that the house has become unlevel. And that’s a little part because it’s old and it’s connected on both sides but I’m in Texas and we have big droughts and it kind of shifts a little bit.
RENEE: My concern is when I get the support beam fixed and the foundation fixed, I’ve seen on the DIY shows that suddenly they go back and they look and the house or the chimney has just been trashed. What can I do to prevent that?
TOM: Why do you say it’s been trashed? Because it shifted?
RENEE: Right. When they did the – when they put in – when I’ve watched the DIY shows, they go and they fix the foundation and the foundation’s fine. And of course, they shift everything up and now there is …
TOM: Yeah. That’s why you have to be very, very careful when you do anything that changes the angle that the house has sort of settled into. Because if you don’t, once you bring a foundation up, everything else moves. Yeah, in a wood house, if you try to straighten a slopy floor, for example, all the wires and the plumbing can get stretched and twisted and so on. So it’s not just foundations that are of concern.
I’m concerned, though, about this crack that you say that you’ve heard. But you’ve seen cracks in your walls but you’ve not physically seen the structural crack, correct?
TOM: Alright. Now, you said it’s a townhouse. Is there an association that …?
TOM: OK. So in an association form of ownership, typically you don’t own the structure. So the structure – if the structure was to fail, that’s typically the responsibility of the association to address. Is that your understanding?
RENEE: I can double-check on that.
TOM: But in a typical condominium form of ownership, what you own is inside wall to inside wall. In some cases, you own the …
LESLIE: And then what’s beyond that wall is not yours.
TOM: Right. In some cases, you own the drywall; in some cases, you don’t. So, for example, if there was a fire, God forbid, and the whole place burned down, you would be paying for the drywall, the kitchen cabinets, the appliances, stuff like that. And the association would be rebuilding everything else, including the related infrastructure.
So you need to figure out, if there’s a structural problem, who’s responsible for it. I suspect you’re going to find it’s the association that’s responsible for it, which is good news for you. And then I would bring that to their attention and ask them to address it.
Now, as far as the cracks in the corners of the wall are concerned, I have to tell you that that’s pretty typical and that by itself doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a structural problem. The way to fix that, though, is important and that is that you want to sand down the drywall in that area. And then you want to add some additional tape and the type of drywall tape you use would be the perforated type. It looks like a netting; it’s like a sticky netting. You put that on and then you spackle through that three coats: one, two, three coats; each one thin but three coats. And that type …
LESLIE: And allowing each one to dry and be sanded in between.
TOM: Yeah. And that type of repair typically will last.
Now, after you do the spackle repair, you’ll have to prime the wall. You can’t just paint on top of it; you’ll have to prime it and then paint it.
TOM: So I would address the structure with the association, I would fix the cracks on your own and then see what happens.
RENEE: OK. So just one more question. Let’s say that if it’s not in the association, that I do have to go into it, not only am I concerned about my roof but how much of a problem will I have with my neighbors on both sides of me?
TOM: Depends on where the crack is, if it exists at all. If that’s the case, then I would suggest you hire a professional home inspector and have the inspector do what’s called a “partial inspection,” which is usually a single-item inspection, and investigate this crack and see what’s going on in the structure. And then we’ll know how far it’s gone and what needs to be done about it.
RENEE: Yeah, that’s cool. Thank you, guys. I appreciate your time.
LESLIE: Well, if you like the look of a farmhouse décor, wood is definitely a key component of the farmhouse aesthetic. Now, you might think that all wood is eco-friendly since it’s a naturally-occurring resource. Actually, only specific types of wood meet eco-friendly requirements.
So, first, let’s talk about reclaimed wood, because it’s one of the most eco-friendliest materials out there. Technically, reclaimed wood can be any type of wood but what makes it eco-friendly is the fact that it’s salvaged from a previous project.
Now, if the wood has been used before and you use it again for a different project, then you can classify that wood as reclaimed. Now, pinewood from a demolished building and driftwood from the ocean, those are both examples of reclaimed lumber.
TOM: Now, there’s also a label that you can check for. Wood that’s stamped by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, is more commonly used in home construction than in decoration but it can still be used in décor.
For example, FSC wood is great for building furniture or other fixtures that need to be really sturdy. That designation of FSC wood means that the manufacturer has followed sustainability practices, like not using pesticides and preserving the natural habitats.
LESLIE: And finally, if you’re looking to add a deck, porch or outdoor furniture to your farmhouse, teakwood is the eco-friendly choice.
Now, teak has long been used for outdoor projects due to its durability. And naturally, teak has a high oil content and that makes it rot-resistant and super durable.
TOM: And it’s absolutely a beautiful, beautiful surface, especially for a deck tacked onto the back of your farmhouse-styled home.
LESLIE: Mark in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARK: Well, I am going to be putting down an engineered-hardwood floor.
MARK: And I’ve got the manufacturer’s instructions and I’m going to tell you, the tolerances for the floor are really tight. They want the floor – so the plywood subfloor, off-grade house – they want the floor to be no more than 3/16-inch over 10 feet or an 1/8-inch over 6 feet deflection.
TOM: I haven’t seen a house yet that has that little deflection, right?
MARK: I know. Exactly. Yes.
Anyway, my question is – I’ve taken a 10-foot 2×8 and confirmed it was straight and put it on the floor.
MARK: And I’ve got a Sharpie and I’m kind of marking off what is within tolerance. And there are some sections that are and ones not in tolerance. So my question to you is: how do you meet that specification that they call out for? For instance, some of the load-bearing walls, you can see where the subfloor has actually dipped down from the weight of the home. The house is about 23 years old. And I’m just wondering, how do you meet that? It’s extremely tight.
TOM: How close are you, Mark?
MARK: It depends. Some of the areas, we’re talking probably half – maybe a ½-inch in some of the bad places.
TOM: OK. So what you want to do in those areas is you’re going to fill in with a floor-leveling compound. You don’t have to do the entire floor but if you have the areas that are really down, you can fill those in.
The thing here is you want it to be reasonably flat. And the reason it wants to be reasonably flat is because with engineered-hardwood floor, the panels lock together. You know, I’ve got an 1886 house and I put in a laminate floor when it sort of first came on the market. And this is similar to the engineered-hardwood floor except that when laminate floor first came on, you had to glue it together; it didn’t lock together.
And so I was able to glue this together. It actually worked in my favor because by gluing it together, it had a lot more ability to stretch and bend and twist over my very roly-poly floors. But if you’re just going to rely on the joint of the hardwood floor to lock together, then you can’t really stress it that much. If you try to twist it, it could crack or pop up.
MARK: I see.
TOM: And so, what I would do is I would get floor-leveling compound. DAP makes one that works very well. It’s called Flexible Floor Patch and Leveler.
TOM: And so, if you go to the DAP website at DAP.com – D-A-P.com – just search for the Flexible Floor Patch. You’ll see a picture of it there; you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. And then you can order that from, I’m sure, your home center or your hardware store or find it online. And that’s designed specifically to work on wood floors or under wood floors and level them out.
LESLIE: On subfloors, especially.
MARK: OK. Well, great. Thank you very much. I really enjoy your show.
LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?
JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.
TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes, it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass is insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.
It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.
JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?
JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.
Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and blows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.
TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?
JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.
LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of 5 degrees, Tom?
LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.
TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?
LESLIE: It’s like summer.
TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when it comes to protecting our kids, there is nothing short of a rubber room that can be completely child-safe. But with some common sense, you will be able to remove the most worrisome hazards.
LESLIE: So, first of all, let’s talk about your windows. Now, they might look completely harmless but if your window blinds still have cords, know that they’re one of the most dangerous items in your house for babies and young kids. So you want to shorten all long cords and tie them up and away from the reach of those little hands. You can actually Google “Window Covering Safety Council” and they’ve got some info on a free tassel-shortening kit than can really save lives.
TOM: Now, another concern is furniture-tipping, because kids are climbers. So anybody that thinks shelving is going to be an attractive product, make sure it’s secured. We’re also talking about bookcases, large TV stands and other climbable furniture. These all have to be anchored to the wall.
And here’s something that you wouldn’t usually think of as a tipping hazard but it absolutely is: your oven, your range. Because what happens is kids pull that door open and then they climb on the door. And if that range is not secured, it will tilt over.
Now, newer ranges, when you buy them, they have a special device that screws into the floor and then the range slips under it to kind of lock it in place.
LESLIE: Oh, it’s like a cleat.
TOM: It’s like a cleat, exactly. It’s like a piece of hardware. And so, if you don’t have that on, your range can actually be very, very tippy, so be careful with that.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s really a good point.
Now, another thing is squeaky-clean sliding doors. That can be huge trouble, as well. Kids sometimes will forget that the door is there and then walk, or worse, run right into it. And if that glass breaks, serious injury can result. So, there’s actually some decorative details that you can add to the door – right at the kids’ height, right at their eye level – so it kind of always lets them know that the door is there and it’s closed.
TOM: And lastly, you want to make sure you check your stairs and your railings. The railings – in all the years I spent as a building inspector, I used to find these done wrong all the time. They have to be at least 36 inches tall and they can have no more than a 6-inch space between any of the spindles. At the same time, make sure those handrails are in place for all stairs and make sure they have a closed end. The handrails that don’t wrap around to the wall can catch loose sleeves and cause a fall by themselves.
We’ve got the complete guide to babyproofing your home, right now, online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Greg in Washington is on the line and wants to heat his home with a wood stove. Tell us about your money pit.
GREG: Well, sure. I heat my home with a wood stove and it’s about 10 years old, the stove is. And it’s a pretty good-quality stove. And it’s the main source of heat for my house but I’ve been really disappointed in it. The house is drafty and when the fire dies down, the house cools down in a hurry.
And I had the insulation checked out, so it’s well-insulated. And I think the problem is the wood stove. Right now, the air intake for the combustion chamber is at the bottom of the stove. And so it’s taking in room air and I think that’s causing a draft. And I’ve talked to a lot of our neighbors – where we live, there’s lots of wood, so a lot of people heat with wood – and they all say that it would make a big difference if I were to hook up the stove to an outside source. I’ll be taking, you know, cold air from the outside in.
So I went down to our dealer where I bought the stove and basically, he told me he could sell me what I’m looking for but I’m going to be disappointed. And his reason is that, right now, we’re taking air into the combustion chamber that’s about 60 degrees or so. And if I add the outside intake, I’ll be taking air in that’s, say, 20 or 30 degrees in temperature. And I’ll be spending a lot of energy just heating the air from the outside. And he recommended not to do it.
So my question is: is it your opinion this would be worthwhile to do or not?
TOM: Most modern fireplace and wood-stove systems include a combustion-air intake. In fact, in some cases, it’s required. So, I wouldn’t necessarily take the dealer’s advice on this. I know that if you improve energy efficiency, it’s always going to include a combustion-air intake. Because otherwise, you’ve paid to heat all of that air sort of once and now you’re going to pay to heat it again because you’re taking it up the chimney. Does that make sense?
GREG: Yeah, sure does. Yes.
TOM: So, if there’s a way that you can put a combustion-air intake there, I would definitely do that. Because you’re right: that wood stove will depressurize the house and frankly, it’s probably pulling more air in from the outside anyway. You’re probably pulling that cold air in anyway; you’re just pulling it through all the gaps around your doors and windows and other spaces like that.
GREG: Right. It’s really drafty by the doors and windows. You’re right.
TOM: Yeah. Because it’s depressurizing. So, why not just give it the combustion air and see what happens?
GREG: OK. Because it – I’ve estimated it would cost about $600 to do this. And probably means it’d cost $800 by the time I’m done, so I didn’t know if it’d really be much difference.
TOM: I think it will probably make you a lot more comfortable.
GREG: OK. I think I’ll try that then.
LESLIE: While many young adults are returning home to save money, a basement provides other benefits as they transition. For one, basements really give them the sense of privacy for these young adults that they don’t find living in the upstairs main part of the house. Now, some basements can even offer all of the advantages of apartment living but truly at a fraction of the cost.
While the lifestyle might not create total living independence, a successful basement-remodeling project does help establish an important first step toward that goal.
TOM: Now, building out a basement living space is not quite as simple as putting together a bed frame, popping a mattress on it and plugging in the second refrigerator. If you want to stay safe, it’s really important that the basement remodeling meet current building codes. And the most critical of that is a way to provide egress: a way to get out in the event of an emergency.
LESLIE: Now, a proper egress is not only for the benefit of the occupants, compliance with the standard is also essential for firefighters and other emergency-rescue personnel who may need to carry backpacks with gear or oxygen tanks into a basement in the event of a fire.
TOM: Yeah. And while typical basement windows provide plenty of light and minimal amounts of ventilation and doors can provide weather-resistance and security, specially-designed egress window wells or basement doors are available that meet the modern building-code standards for that emergency exit.
It’s really important that these exist. You can’t just put a bed down there and call it a day because if you don’t have this egress, it could be very, very dangerous. You’re only leaving yourself one way out. And if there’s fire and smoke, that’s not going to be a very safe situation.
So, having the young adults return home to live with Mom and Dad, back to the nest one more time – that’s why we call it the “boomerang generation” – is fun but it may not be the most preferable arrangement if the basement is not a safe space.
LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about two years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?
And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?
TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.
I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.
So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.
LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?
TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.
LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got a question here from Kevin who’s writing: “We have a deck off of our master bedroom. It sits on top of our garage, which is becoming a problem because the deck is constantly leaking into the garage. We’ve tried adding drains and covered the deck in outdoor tile but that hasn’t helped. Should we just enclose the deck and solve the problem altogether?”
TOM: Seems pretty drastic, doesn’t it?
TOM: I mean adding drains, OK, but that doesn’t stop a leak. And certainly, tile is not waterproof, so that’s not going to stop a leak.
Look, I had a lot of experience with outside decks along the Eastern Shore. And I found that the only thing that really stands up to the driving rain is a fiberglass deck, when all those old surfaces are pulled apart and fiberglass is basically used as the waterproof decking material. It can have a grit finish to it, so it’s slip-resistant even if it gets icy and snowy. But it absolutely, positively doesn’t leak. The key is to make sure it goes up and over the door sills. It’s going to go under the siding, like regular flashing, but up and over the door sills.
And it’s kind of like – if you think about it, it’s like a shower pan. Once it’s in, it doesn’t leak and never – is never going to leak. And you don’t have to worry about any maintenance issues after that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then you can still actually enjoy the outside and not just be hiding from it.
TOM: Well, do you love popcorn? How about popcorn ceilings? One is tasty; the other not so much. Leslie has got three ways to make that old décor go away for good, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you are tired of the flakes falling onto your face, in your food, on your clothing or maybe you’re just grossed out by the dust and dirt that it can collect, it’s probably time to get rid of your home’s popcorn ceilings.
Now, there are three ways to do that but the first step is you have to test it for asbestos. Now, it was used in ceilings until the 1970s but it has also turned up in homes built even in the 1980s. Now, if the test says you’re good to go with your popcorn-removal project, there are three options: the wet scrape, the dry scrape or covering it.
Now, wet scrape or dry scrape, they’re pretty much the same thing except that with the wet approach, you spray the surface down with the water first from a garden-pump sprayer. This is going to keep the dust to a minimum and it can make it easier to scrape off large chunks of it right off of your ceiling.
Now, regardless of which scrape method you are choosing, unfortunately, you’re not going to be left with a smooth, paint-ready ceiling just by doing all that scraping, since you’re very likely going to be left with an uneven surface with some small dings and some gouges. These are all things you’re going to have to fix. At minimum, you’re going to want to take a pole sander and hit those rougher spots.
Then you need to make sure that you prime and paint the surface using a flat paint. And any paint that you put on there with even the slightest sheen – any sort of sheen is just going to highlight any imperfections that might be left by your removal of that popcorn ceiling. So, flat is your friend when it comes to an uneven surface.
Now, if you don’t want to deal with the mess of the removal, the second most popular approach to removing popcorn ceilings is simply to just cover it. This also won’t break the bank, since drywall or gypsum board – so whatever you want to call it – a bucket of screws and some drywall mud are only going to cost a couple hundred of dollars.
Depending on the size of the room, option is going to take a little bit more time but it definitely is very much a do-it-yourself project. You just need a buddy, because those sheets of drywall are kind of heavy. So to be lifting them over your head on your own and trying to adhere them, definitely grab a friend. This is project you’re only going to do with a friend.
TOM: When it’s all done, you can celebrate with a bucket of fresh, popped popcorn, too.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, filters for your heating-and-cooling system can help remove allergens, because that season is pretty close to almost being here. But there are many, many, many filters to choose from. Which really do the job? We’re going to tell you about a rating system that will let you know the info you need on which filter can keep your air the cleanest, 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 2021 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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