- As the weather warms, we’re seeing more and more signs of Spring cropping up everywhere. But along with the flowers, trees and lots of green – there’s a lot of wildlife that cross over that “wild” side right to your yard – and can disrupt your plans for a beautiful landscape and garden. We’ll share tips to keep deer, rabbit and groundhogs out of your yard.
- While new home baths have nearly doubled in size over the past 30 years, the bathrooms in most older homes average about 5- by 8-feet. Short of ripping out walls to increase bathroom space, there are ways to use the space to its fullest potential. We’ll explain the options.
- If your closet is always busting at the seams, there’s a simple reason: MATH! Most of us put more stuff IN to a closet than we take OUT! We’ll share simple steps to keep closet clutter under control.
- If you’d like to add a floor to your basement, hardwood is not the best choice. But a special type of reinforced hardwood might! We’ll share how to enjoy having real wood floors in damp spaces.
- VURBL Station: https://vurbl.com/station/7J5ymLuI7J1/
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about how to clean granite countertops, leveling a basement floor, repair or replace a microwave, repairing drywall cracks, installing a tile floor using a mud base, replacing hot water heater.
EPISODE #2088: Keeping Wildlife Out of Your Garden | Big Ideas for Small Baths | Stopping Closet Clutter | Your Q & A
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, you guys have a project you’d like to get done today, tomorrow, this weekend, the following? We would love to help you with tips and ideas and inspiration so that you can avoid perspiration when you’re getting started on that job. Help yourself first by reaching out to us at MoneyPit.com or calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because that’s what we do. We provide expert advice and content to help you make your best home ever.
Coming up on today’s show, as the weather warms, we’re seeing more and more signs of spring that are cropping up. But along with the flowers and the trees and all that green, there’s a lot of wildlife that cross over that wild side, right into your yard. And they can disrupt your plans for a beautiful landscape and garden, so we’re going to share some tips and personal experience we have with keeping deer and rabbit and groundhogs out of that space.
LESLIE: And while new home baths have nearly doubled in size over the past 30 years, the bathrooms in most older homes average about 5 feet by 8 feet. So, short of ripping out walls to increase space, there are ways to use that small space to its fullest potential. We’re going to explain those options.
TOM: And speaking of spaces, if your closet is always busting at the seams, there is a simple reason for that, Leslie: math. Most of us put more stuff into the closet than we take out. So we’re going to share some steps to keep closet clutter under control.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to help you with your home décor and your home improvement projects. So what is on your to-do list? Well, you can move it over to our to-do list by calling us or posting to MoneyPit.com.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it.
LESLIE: Janet in New York, you have got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JANET: I’ve had a new countertop installed on a newly-built house. And I – my options were granite or granite. And they put – they installed the countertop in the kitchen. And I looked online and I’ve talked to several people and I get so many different options or different ways to keep it clean and to maintain it.
JANET: My biggest thing is this granite seems to be more work than my Formica countertop that I took out.
TOM: Yeah, you’re right about that. You know, everyone thinks, “Well, it’s granite. It’s going to be indestructible.”
TOM: Well, it is but the finish needs a lot of work to maintain. I mean the quartz countertops are a lot easier to maintain than granite but granite is porous by nature. And so, they mill the granite and then they finish it. And that sealer has to be redone from time to time, usually every few years, and you have to stay on top of it with cleaning and polishing. So, you’re right: it is more work than a Formica countertop ever was.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you also have to make sure that whatever cleaning supplies you use are safe for a granite or a natural-material surface, because you don’t want to put something on that could deteriorate the protective coatings on top of it. And be careful with the edging that you select, because an ogee edge, while more decorative, is a little bit more delicate. And when you’re washing the dishes and the buttons on your jeans are rubbing against it, it could eventually wear that away. You just have to be careful but they look great and definitely worth the work.
JANET: Oh. Well, my other question is we have a – there’s a drop sink in it. And I’m kind of concerned because the big thing everybody says is – they’re the experts – is to don’t let water sit. Don’t let any liquid stand for any length of time. What about the lip or the rim underneath the granite, where the sink is? Do you know what I mean? The sink is un underneath one, so there’s a little hang-over.
TOM: It’s not going to deteriorate. It is granite but – and you’re not going to see that spot. So, it’s just a matter of keeping it clean, just so that you don’t get any growth of any mold or fungus in there, because that can smell sometimes.
So I would just stick with good-quality granite cleaners. One we’ve been recommending for years is a line by Stone Care. People seem very happy with that. There’s a cleaner and a polish. You can find that at Amazon and Walmart and places like that. Not too terribly expensive. And just try to stay on top of it.
JANET: Oh, good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out to Michigan where we’ve got Colin on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
COLIN: I’m trying to figure out the best way, given that we kind of have an older house that’s 70 years old, to determine how to level the concrete flooring. It seems like there’s a certain amount of rise over a 10-foot – 8- or 10-foot run. I’d say in the ballpark of a ¼- to ½-inch anywhere – in various spots of the basement. So I’m trying to figure out if I need to do any kind of leveling and how best to determine that, given that I’m going to be installing a vinyl planking with the underlayment already attached.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, keep in mind that your basement floor is not part of the home’s structure. It’s just there covering the dirt. It’s not interconnected with the wall. It’s really the last thing that’s added to a basement.
And because of that, sometimes they’re not put in as well as, say, like a garage slab might be. So the fact that you’ve got some rise and fall in that basement – do you see cracking or deterioration, Colin, in this? Or is it really just the uneven surface you’re dealing with?
COLIN: Just slight cracking, I would say. The worst of it is maybe an 1/8- to 1/16-inch. I don’t think there’s very – and it’s not getting worse.
TOM: OK. So very fine, yeah.
TOM: So here’s what I would do. You have the option of using a floor-leveling compound on that but I’m not so sure you really need it, because it doesn’t seem like it’s got very much of a differentiation. I would work with the flooring company you’re buying this from.
For example, if you were purchasing flooring at Lumber Liquidators, now called LL Flooring, they have experts in the store that can check the specs for the product that you are purchasing and determine how much differentiation over what distance it’s rated for. And if it exceeds that, then you would want to use a floor-leveling compound to try to even that out.
Now, there are products that are designed to go on top of concrete. There are also concrete-leveling products that you can use. You’ll have some choices but that would be the solution if it turns out, in fact, you do need to level it.
COLIN: OK. Yeah, that’s great. That’s kind of exactly what I was hoping for with this project, because I am trying to do it all myself, so …
TOM: Well, congratulations. It’s a great project to take on.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for reaching out to us and let us know how you make out.
COLIN: Will do. You have a great day.
LESLIE: Heading out to Cape Cod, where we’ve got Shari on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
SHARI: Well, hi. I have an Andersen slider door.
SHARI: It never did it when it was new. It’s about 20 years old.
SHARI: That the bottom railing, where the door slides, I think it ices. And right by the door, there’s plywood underneath the carpet. And what it does is moisture turns that carpet a dark brown and I think it’s tannins from the plywood. But lo and behold, it’s that bottom rail that ices and I think that’s where the water’s coming from. Because it’s never wet.
TOM: Well, I mean first of all, Andersen makes a heck of a good sliding-glass door. Of all the doors out there, that’s one of the most durable.
The first thing I would do is I would check the alignment on the door. And you’ll find that on the bottom of that door, there’s going to be two plastic caps: one at one end of the sliding door and one at the other. And when you pull those off, you’ll see that there’s – you could put a screwdriver in there and rotate it. And as you do that, there’s a wheel that will adjust the height of the door on that track. And by turning one or the other, you can adjust alignment. So I would check it to make sure that when that door comes into the jamb, that it is absolutely parallel with the door jamb. Because if it’s off a little bit, then that could be one of the reasons you’re getting some – maybe some moisture or humidity or draft in that space.
And then, also, very often those doors are going to have an extra tiny piece of foam sort of glued to the edge of it so when it closes, it pulls in real tight. You see this on sliding doors; you also see it on regular doors, too. It’s like an extra piece of weather-stripping. It’s only about, you know, an inch-and-a-half square and it’s adhered to the very bottom of the jamb. Usually the jamb, not so much the sliding door, because it stays better that way. And so when that door comes in, it pulls tight and seals it.
So I would look at the alignment there first and then I would try to determine whether or not there’s any gaps. And the last thing I would do is I would go outside and – this is easier to do at night. With a strong flashlight, hold it parallel to the bottom of the door and even under the door. And then, on the inside, have another person see if they can see that light streaming through. Because you may have some gaps under the door that have formed over the years. And if you find those, you can seal those with an expanded foam insulation.
Now, there’s one – Great Stuff makes a number of these. You want to use the one that’s rated for windows and doors, because it’s not quite as stiff and it won’t move that sill plate. It will just sort of fill up the space. Or you could caulk it.
But I would check for gaps, I would check the alignment for the door and I would add that little, tiny piece of weather-stripping. OK?
SHARI: Thank you so much. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, if it seems every year more and more animals – like deer, rabbits or groundhogs – are finding their way into backyards, flower beds and gardens than ever before, now is a good time to take action to limit any damage they might cause. Now, here’s a few options to send the message that the party is over to these unwanted guests, who’ve chosen your yard as their favorite local buffet.
So, you’ve got to talk about repellants. Now, there’s a lot of different homemade remedies out there and commercially-available products that are going to help you keep deer, the rabbits, the groundhogs out of your garden and yard. Now, they work but they do have to be applied about every 3 weeks. Wildlife are creatures of habit and when you apply those repellants, you’re trying to break them of that habit of coming to your yard.
But it’s not a one-and-done thing. If the wildlife learn that sometimes your landscape tastes bad and sometimes it doesn’t, they’re going to keep coming back to check.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about fencing. Physical barriers, like fencing, are definitely the most effective but they’re also the most expensive. And they, of course, can have a negative visual impact on your yard, as well. Plus, let’s face it, deer in particular, did you know they can jump 8 feet? I’ve seen them do it. It’s crazy. Eight feet in the air. So if they really want to get in your yard, they will.
Now, if there are lots of neighborhood food choices, the shorter 4-foot fences can work, especially if you have double fencing. We did this for our garden. It made a big difference. We have 2 – one 3-foot fence and one 4-foot fence – and they rarely bother to go in there. Well, one of the reasons is there’s just a lot of other places in the yard that they could grab.
Now, for rabbits or groundhogs, you want to make sure the fencing also has smaller openings along the bottom 2 feet. Now, for our garden, we used that 4-foot black, wrought iron-style fence. But we attached the black, flexible fencing right along the bottom and it worked well. I use zip ties and that vinyl fencing right along the bottom edge. You don’t even see it from the outside, because it’s black. Which, by the way, if you’ve got to put fences in, black fences rock because they blend in with your landscape. And this one really …
LESLIE: Yeah, they’re kind of invisible.
TOM: Yeah. This one worked really well to keep the critters out.
Next, change up the menu. Some plants and trees are resistant to wildlife. And as the deer population in our area got worse over the years, we actually decided to remove their favorite delicacy, which for us were these bushes called “Euonymus” bushes that they – when we put them in, they were great for many years. But then they just started getting really bad because the deer just would not leave them alone. We tried the repellants and like we said earlier, you’ve got to put this on so frequently. That was a hassle, so we’ve replaced them now with a type of plant that deer just don’t like. The one we used is Green Giant arborvitae. And you can basically trim this just like a hedge. And it was amazingly effective.
We’ve even seen families, Leslie, where the deer walk up to the new bushes, give it a sniff and go, “Nah, let’s just go over to the neighbor’s house.”
LESLIE: They’re like, “I like it better across the street.”
LESLIE: Nick in Iowa is on the line and is doing a tiling project. What can we do for you?
NICK: I did a project in my bathroom, on the second floor, a couple years ago. And I laid ¾-inch tongue-and-groove down.
NICK: Yes. And then I laid down a ¼-inch fiber-cement underlayment that is meant for tile. And I made sure that the seams weren’t in the same spot as the tongue-and-groove.
NICK: And it’s been – like I say, it’s been probably two years and I’ve got just a hairline crack running through all my tile that’s right on that tongue-and-groove seam. And I’m getting ready to start a kitchen project where I’m going to do some tiling. And I guess I want to know if you had any suggestions on where I might have went wrong.
TOM: Well, the very best floor base for a tile project is called a “mud floor.” Do you know what a mud floor is?
NICK: No, I do not.
TOM: So a mud floor is one where you put down tar paper first, then you put down woven wire mesh, then you mix up a sand-and-cement – essentially, mud. It’s a very dry mix; not a lot of water to it. Generally, it’s one bag of Portland cement to about 40 shovels of sand. And when you mix it perfectly, you can kind of hold it and it forms sort of a ball in your hand, right?
Now, you take that mud and that mud mix and you spread it out across the woven wire mesh. And you’ve got to be a pretty good do-it-yourselfer to pull this off, because it’s really a professional tile guy’s way of doing this. But you spread it over the mud. You use a long, straight edge to kind of get it absolutely perfectly flat and you let it dry. And it’s got to be a minimum of maybe 1-inch thick and it could go up to whatever you need it to be.
For example, I have a laundry room in the second floor of my house. Really old house. And we decided to tile that and there’s just no way I could level this floor any other way. And so, we put down a mud floor. It was about 1 inch on one side of the room. By the time we got to the other side of the room, it was about 2½ inches because the floor had that kind of a slope in it. But then when we were done, it was perfectly flat and absolutely rock solid.
If you put a mud floor down, you will never, ever, ever get a crack, if you do it right. That’s the best way to do it. Any of those tile-backer products are subject to expansion and contraction and that may help develop some cracks, not to mention the fact that it can’t really help you level a floor that’s out of level.
Now, when – you said you were doing this in the kitchen. We’ll give you an additional caution: you’ve got to be very careful around the dishwasher. Because if you put a thick floor around that dishwasher, you may not be able to get the dishwasher back in again. Or you can do as this ridiculous tile guy did at my sister’s house. He tiled her dishwasher in. So when the dishwasher had to be replaced, I had to help her take the countertop off of the sink, off of the cabinets, take the sink out, take the countertop up in order to lift the dishwasher out from the cabinets and replace it, which was really ridiculous and very annoying.
NICK: That doesn’t sound like what I want to do, no.
TOM: No. So don’t tile your dishwasher in and watch the thickness of the floor so that you can actually get the dishwasher back in if you take it out.
NICK: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you very much.
TOM: Call us. We’ll give you more work, 888-666-3974. Thanks so much, Nick.
We always say, “Do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.” And that is absolutely true when it comes to putting down tile. If you don’t take the time to put in a proper base, you will ultimately be repeating the process.
LESLIE: Frieda from Ohio is on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
FRIEDA: Hi. My Amana Radarange microwave, it’s mounted above my stove. And on the bottom, the down light that shines down onto the stove, the light bulbs in that keep burning out. And I have to replace them about once a month and they’re getting expensive.
TOM: What kind of light bulb are you using? Just a regular incandescent?
FRIEDA: It’s like the R11, the little appliance bulbs? Forty watt?
TOM: And is this a fairly new problem, this once-a-month burnout, or has it been going on for a long, long time?
FRIEDA: It’s getting worse. We’ve had the microwave in here – it’s probably about 16 years old or – give or take.
TOM: Yeah, that doesn’t really owe you any money. That’s pretty old for a microwave appliance. You’ve pretty much reached the end of a normal life cycle. In fact, I’m kind of surprised it lasted that long, because it’s been my experience that the microwave ovens that are mounted above ranges don’t last nearly as long as a countertop microwave. Because the additional heat from all that cooking has the effect of sort of wearing on those components.
Typically, when you get a bulb that burns out quickly, it’s either because you have a loose connection, you have a loose ground or you have a problem with the voltage that’s going in there.
Sometimes, depending on what’s happening with the power company, you could be getting, say, more than 120 volts. You might be getting 125 or 130 volts, sometimes, because there could be something that is bad down the line with the power supply – the quality of the power supply. So if you have extra volts going into those lights, that is one of the first things that tends to show it. It’s kind of like the canary in the coal mine. When the lights start to go – burn out frequently – like that, it could be an issue with the voltage.
So, have you been thinking about a new microwave?
FRIEDA: Not really.
TOM: What I would suggest is at this point, you really need to have the voltage tested. So I would call the utility company and ask them to meter the voltage going into your house and see if it’s – let’s eliminate that as a possibility.
If that is OK, I would – the second thing I would check is the plug that it’s actually plugged into. I’d check the outlet to make sure it’s properly grounded. And if it’s properly grounded, then I think you’ve exhausted the two things that are the easiest to fix and at that point, you might want to think about replacing the microwave.
FRIEDA: Alright. That sounds good.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, there are a few things all old-house lovers, like me, are familiar with: you know, drafty windows, less-than-perfect plumbing, squeaky floors. And my least favorite, I should say, is small bathrooms.
TOM: I think your small bathroom is the one sort of nemesis in your house. It’s the element you hate the most. Well …
LESLIE: And it’s the only one. So I don’t have a lot of choice.
TOM: Yeah. There you go.
Well, listen, while new home baths have nearly doubled in size over the last 30 years, most of our older bathrooms – and by older, I mean not terribly old. Even homes that were built in the 80s and the 90s. They average 5 foot by 8 foot. And short of ripping out walls to increase space, you might be thinking, “I don’t have too many options.”
But there are a few small home improvements that can help you use that space to its fullest potential.
LESLIE: Yeah. Think about corner sinks and showers, both pedestal-style or wall-mounted. A corner sink looks great and it does free up a ton of floor space in that bathroom.
Likewise, if you’re planning a bigger remodel, curved quadrant-shower units, those can conserve precious real estate in that bath. And mounted into a corner, a curved entry is going to save at least 25 percent of the space that’s needed by a square shower.
TOM: Now, another way to save space is to use a toilet that has a flat tank top. These flat tank tops give you another storage spot, where you can place organizers directly on top of it or take advantage of the wall space above it for hanging a cabinet or shelving.
And Leslie, for you, if the tub space is limited, one option is to look for smaller, deeper tubs. These are often very great soaking tubs with deep-set seating. You can even find small clawfoot tubs that will work for this purpose, as well.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. If I could just sit in a tub, I would be so happy.
Now, let’s talk sinks. Another option you can have there is a vessel sink. And that could be mounted on a scale-down cabinet or another piece of furniture that’s going to give you a bit of storage in the bathroom space. And since the sink is on top of the vanity, you’ve got a lot more space in that cabinet for actually storing stuff.
TOM: And finally, towel storage. If you’ve got a lot of towels around, like we always did in our house, you can mount a hotel-style, multi-tiered rack on the back of the entry door or high up on a bath wall near the ceiling.
Now, in my house, I couldn’t find one that was sort of the right space for our walls, so I made it. Because I’m looking at it thinking, “I could do that with PVC pipe,” and that’s exactly what I did. I made a rack that looks like a hotel-style rack but I did it with small PVC pipe. And then I painted it sort of a bronze-y color and it looks fantastic. And you really can’t tell that it’s not a regular, manufactured rack.
So, there definitely are ways to deal with small spaces in your bath. And if you think about using efficient fixtures and taking advantage of some of that space that you’re not using now – like that space that’s up higher near the ceiling and we did with our towel rack – you can really fit a lot more in without doing major renovations.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Iowa where Brian has a crack on the wall that keeps on coming back. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Well, yeah, I built this home about 6 years ago and noticed it within the first year, really, that in just one of my bedrooms, I have a crack that comes up from my bedroom going into my bathroom door. And it kind of almost goes up probably close to 2½ feet, 3 feet. And it comes and goes, depending on the year. I’ve finished over it a couple of times on both sides of the wall, into the bathroom and here, and have tried to refinish over it and it keeps coming back. And my builder looked at it. Can’t quite figure it out and …
TOM: This is what we call a “Groundhog Day home improvement project,” Brian, because it just keeps happening over and over again, right?
BRIAN: Yeah, yeah. It just – you know, I just – originally, I just tried to cover it up and make it look better and …
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s the thing. You’ve got a very normal crack in a wall there. Cracks often form over doors, like exactly what you’re describing there, because that’s a weaker part of the wall. And for whatever reason, you had some settlement in your house and it caused this crack to open up. The fact that you’re spackling it is not going to solve it. It solves it for a season but it won’t solve it permanently.
What you need to do is you need to sand the area of the crack pretty well, because I want you to get out – get rid of all that extra spackle you’ve been putting on there. Then I want you to add a layer of fiberglass drywall tape, which is sort of like a netting. It’s a bit sticky-backed. And then I want you to spackle over the fiberglass netting – over the fiberglass tape – on both sides. Start with a narrow bead of spackle and then open it up wider and wider and wider. And that, on both sides of the wall, will make that wall strong enough to stand up to the movement that will happen the next time the wall expands or contracts.
You can’t just spackle it, because you’re not really doing anything to bridge that gap. You bridge that gap with the tape, spackle over the tape, now you’ve got a permanent repair. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: Yeah, that makes sense.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Delaware to chat with Ruth, who’s having an issue with water heating. Tell us what’s going on.
RUTH: Our water heater is – I’m guessing it’s around 12 years old. And whenever I use the hot water, it doesn’t seem to last very long. And so a couple months ago, maybe 6 months ago, my husband and his friend – and his friend, I guess that’s what he does for a living. They emptied the water heater and they put two new elements in. But in my opinion, it’s still doing the same thing, like it didn’t – to me, it didn’t change the length how long the hot water lasted.
TOM: And this is an electric water heater?
RUTH: It’s not gas; it’s electric, yes.
TOM: And so, when they replaced the elements, they tested both elements to make sure they actually work?
RUTH: I’m not sure if they did that. I don’t know. He said they put new elements in. I’m assuming they – I guess I could ask them later if they did that.
TOM: Because here’s the thing. When you have a water heater that’s electric and it runs out of hot water quickly, it’s usually because one or the other of the two elements burn out or the control circuit breaks down so that they don’t actually come on. So, what you do, as a technician, is you run a continuity tester on these coils. And it’s a way of determining whether or not they’re working or not.
Electric coils for a water heater is just like a light bulb: it either works or doesn’t work; there’s no in-between. And so, the first thing I would do is check the continuity on both of these coils to make sure they’re both physically working. Because what you’re describing, to me, sounds like one is not and that could be the whole source of the problem, OK?
TOM: Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that over the last 3 years, the average tax refund was over $2,800? For DIYers, that means newfound money to take on projects you might have been putting off.
TOM: To help you make the best use of your hard-earned windfall, we’ve put together a series of projects that will add value to your home and get done without blowing your tax-refund budget.
And today’s Tax Refund Tip is presented by HART Tools, available exclusively at Walmart.
LESLIE: Today’s project: closet clutter-busters. Have you ever noticed that closet clutter is the kind of thing that just sort of creeps up on you?
There’s a good reason for this. It’s math. Most of us put more stuff into a closet than we take out of the closet. Keeping clutter under control, it’s totally possible but you need discipline and a dash of courage.
TOM: Yeah. So, when we say courage, we’re not kidding because step one is to empty your entire closet. Seriously.
LESLIE: Oh, God. Then you have no choice but to do it.
TOM: It’s a bold move but it serves several purposes. First, it allows you to see what you’ve been stuffing into that space and do a quick, fast assessment on whether you really need to either keep it, pack it away or donate it. And once that process is done, it’s time for a little closet reno. So go ahead and fill those holes and prime and paint the space and give yourself a clean start.
And note that it’s often helpful to remove that closet door for this part of the project. Because with a small space like that, the door tends to get in the way. And if it’s so easy to take off, just do just that and it’ll be easier for you to work on it.
LESLIE: Alright. Next comes the fun part: shopping for shelving. There’s really so many amazing shelving systems out there today for your closet, along with accessories galore, like pull-out drawers, shoe racks, even multi-level hanging bars. But you’ve got to find the system that’s right for you and then install it. And it really is an easy DIY project, especially if you have a few HART tools around, like the Cordless Drill Driver.
You can supplement those built-in shelves with rolling storage for hampers or cleaning supplies. And you’re going to have everything you need to put that clutter behind you.
TOM: And finally, take note of the lighting in your closet, too. It’s hard to dress for success when you can’t see the color of your clothes. And if more lighting belongs on that to-do list, check out the wide array of battery-powered LED lighting that’s now available from numerous brands. I have these in several of our own closets and I have been amazed at not only how much light they actually throw off but that the batteries have lasted, in some cases, for over a year.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s really great.
Well, that’s today’s Tax Refund Tip presented by HART Tools, available exclusively at Walmart. Do it with HART. You can learn more at HARTTools.com, where you’ll also find step-by-step plans for dozens of fun projects.
TOM: Including plans for two different types of pegboard organizers.
And Leslie, I spotted a fitness-shelf project on that site. Looks like it can hold a lot of shoes in your newly-remodeled closet.
So check out all the project plans at HARTTools.com.
LESLIE: Anna is reaching out to us from California for help with an insulation project. She writes: “We bought a house in Southern California with vaulted ceilings and no attic. As far as we can tell, there is no insulation in the walls of the house or above the ceilings. Can we install or blow-in insulation into the walls or ceilings and would it be worth it?”
TOM: Well, first off, having no insulation would be very unusual. It might seem that way, because you can’t see it, but I would be shocked if you had absolutely no insulation.
So what I would suggest you do first is an energy audit. Your utility company may offer these for free or you can hire your own independent auditor. Just make sure the auditor is independent of any contractors that sell energy-saving services.
Now, your auditor will be able to do an infrared scan of your walls and ceilings. And that way, you’ll be able to determine if the insulation actually exists, as well as identifying any gaps in that insulation.
Now, for cathedral ceilings, there are really two ways to approach adding insulation. The first and most basic is to insulate between the rafters themselves. But that requires leaving some space between the insulation and the underside of the sheathing so you get good ventilation. And frankly, if your ceiling is finished now, that’s pretty much impossible to do unless you remove the drywall.
The other option is to add insulation on top of your roof. We’ve seen this done more and more, especially in super-insulated homes. When you next replace your roof shingles, you would add a 2- to 3-inch-thick piece of foam insulation on top of the roof and then more plywood. So it becomes a very thick sort of roof sandwich. And then put the new roof on top of that.
But for those that are – want to deal with more traditional insulation in your attic, we do actually have a very detailed insulation guide at MoneyPit.com. We talk about the differences between fiberglass and mineral wall and spray-foam insulation, as well as a great post on how to add attic flooring for more storage without wrecking your roof. And that is all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Phil who writes: “Can I use hardwood planks in my basement? We’ve extended gutters and a French drain, which empties into two different sump pumps. So water isn’t a problem.”
TOM: Well, good job on taking all the measures necessary to keep the basement dry. But that said, you cannot put solid hardwood planks. Because even though you don’t have water, you certainly have high humidity, because it’s a below-grade space. That concrete is eventually going to hold enough moisture and humidity to make those boards want to twist and warp.
If you do want a natural-wood look, the best type of wood flooring – and really, the only type of wood flooring you can put in a basement – is called “engineered hardwood.” And it looks like regular hardwood from the front side but it’s laminated. If you think of plywood, the way it has different layers of wood that are glued together, the engineered hardwood is much like that but the top layer is the hardwood that you have come to know and love. The under layers just make it dimensionally stable.
There are other options, though, like engineered vinyl plank. This EVP flooring is amazing. It looks just like wood and comes in just hundreds of different designs. And that is completely unaffected by any level of moisture, including full floods if that were ever to happen.
But definitely don’t want to put ¾-inch-thick hardwood down there. You will be very unhappy when it starts to twist and warp.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? There’s always the inevitability that water can and possibly will get down to that basement space. You know, you can always do tile that looks like a wood grain or has a wood-plank look to it. That’s always very nice.
And think about it: once you pick your flooring, you can put in an area rug or something that helps it feel super homey downstairs. So don’t feel upset because you can’t have the actual hardwood. You can make it look super nice.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you for spending part of your spring day listening to us. We hope that we’ve been able to give you some fresh ideas to take on projects around your house.
If you’re thinking about projects you want to get done, remember, you can reach out to us at MoneyPit.com or through our social-media sites at any time. And we will get back to you to give you some answers and some direction and maybe even invite you to ask your question on The Money Pit.
Until then, 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.)