- If you’ve ever taken on a tiling project, you may know that it’s messy and can take DAYS to wait for the adhesive to set, before you can grout. We’ll show you a trick of the trade to install tile that’s a lot less messy and far faster.
- Do you think the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set the mower as low as possible so you won’t have to mow that often? Well, you might be surprised to find out that can actually end up being MORE work in the long run! Find out why and what length to cut the lawn in Spring, Summer and Fall (and yes, it changes for each season!)
- If you’d love build a firepit, patio or outdoor kitchen, we show you really easy ways to get those projects done by stacking precast, concrete blocks.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Cheryl in Virginia has a concrete porch that is starting to come apart and wants to know the easiest way to repair.
- We’ve got a great solution for Dan from Tennessee who is having carpenter bees eat his way through his fascia board.
- Norma in Delaware wants to update her bath by adding a one-piece shower panel.
- Marty from Mississippi is looking for the best product is to match and seal his brick and mortar wall.
- We help Eleanor in Virginia with easy ways to clean algae off her composite decking
- Stewart from Rhode Island wants to know the best replacement for an oil-fired water heater.
- Sheila in Oklahoma is looking for recommendations on countertop paints and whether they work well.
- Ben from Illinois wants to know how to painting a popcorn ceiling.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on projects you want to get done around your house. So, if you’re working on a deck, if you’re mowing your yard, if you’re fixing up a roof, if you’re planning a project, maybe you’re thinking about this is the time to do a new kitchen or a bathroom or maybe a new bedroom, whatever project is on your to-do list, you can move it right over to ours by reaching out to us with those questions. We’re your coach, we’re your helpers, we’re your therapists if something goes wrong. Whatever you need, we’re here to lend a hand.
Couple of ways to get in touch. The best thing to do is head to MoneyPit.com and click on the blue microphone button which says, “Leave a message.” Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve ever taken on a tiling project, you might know that some of the more inconvenient parts of the project are that it’s messy and it takes days, because you have to wait for the adhesive to set before you can grout. We’re going to show you a trick of the trade to help avoid all that and get the job done far faster.
LESLIE: And if you think the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set the mower as low as possible so you don’t have to mow that often, you might be surprised to find out that that can actually end up being more work in the long run.
TOM: That’s right. And it’s a great time of year for outdoor living. And if you want to step up your space, we’ve got tips on how you can build out your very own fire pit.
LESLIE: Plus, do you have any big paint projects that you’re about to take on? We’ve got a big giveaway that can help. We have a Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer ready to send out to one lucky listener.
TOM: The Control Pro 170 makes it easy for DIYers to tackle paint projects, like decks, fences or even an entire house. It’s worth 379 and it’s going to go out to one listener drawn at random. How do you get in on this? Well, you’ve got to contact us with your home improvement question. Click that blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Cheryl in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.
CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.
Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag and mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.
So if you go to QUIKRETE.com and you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly-damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.
It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.
CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.
TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.
CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Daniel is dealing with carpenter bees and of course, those lovely, perfectly round, bored holes that they love to make all over your wood house.
What’s going on?
DANIEL: Ah, well, I’ve got these carpenter bees that keep drilling holes into my fascia board right there underneath my roof. And I filled them in and I’ve repainted and they keep coming back. I don’t know if there’s maybe something I can do to prevent that or something I can use to paint it with.
TOM: Yeah, a couple of things you can do. First of all, in terms of stopping the bees from coming back, you would have to have the carpenter bees professionally treated with a proper insecticide that will basically exterminate what’s there. Now, even if you did do that, though, they may come back the next season.
A surefire way to make sure they don’t come back is to replace your wood trim with something that’s not wood. I had this exact problem on a garage on our property and I simply replaced the wood trim with AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And there are other brands, as well, but basically, it’s a cellular PVC material that looks like wood, cuts like wood but the carpenter bees can’t eat it. In fact, it was very humorous to me because after I replaced the fascia with AZEK, the bees kept circling it but they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste like wood.
LESLIE: It’s like, “This looks like wood. I don’t understand.”
DANIEL: Yeah, that would actually be absolutely worth doing just to see them circle and …
TOM: In frustration, yeah. Alright? I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Norma from Delaware on the line who wants to know what size pipes you need to get good pressure in the bathroom.
Norma, that sounds like a personal question. What’s going on at your money pit?
NORMA: OK. I’m going to install a shower panel.
NORMA: And in order to get good – the right pressure, how big do the pipes need to be?
TOM: Right. You said you wanted to install a shower panel? So is this one of these units where it comes in and then fans out to multiple spray heads?
NORMA: Yeah, the jets, right.
TOM: How is your water pressure right now?
NORMA: Pretty good. Well, my house is about 8 years old.
TOM: Oh, if it’s only 8 years old and you have pretty good water pressure, you should be OK with this. I will say, though, that the water pressure coming out of multiple showerheads is not going to be as invigorating as coming out of a single showerhead. So, it’s going to give you good coverage but it may not be as strong. And I don’t think there’s much that you can do about that. If you’ve got normal street pressure, that’s how those shower-panel units are designed to work. But just be mindful that it’s not likely to be as strong when it’s going to come out of multiple heads, because you basically just need more water to do that.
NORMA: Oh, OK. Well, I inquired with the builder and he told me that from the basement to the shower floor, I have three-quarter pipes. And then from the floor to the showerhead, ½-inch.
TOM: And that’s typical. That’s typical. So, that doesn’t change anything.
NORMA: Oh, OK. Alright. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: If you guys have a big painting project to take on over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – those 3-day weekends are always great for getting those jobs done – we’ve got a big giveaway that can help.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer. Now, this paint sprayer is going to allow every homeowner out there to take on really big projects themselves instead of hiring a contractor, which is going to save you a bunch of money.
It’s super easy to use. You’re going to find that it applies a high-quality finish that you can really be proud of. I mean you’re going to feel like you’re painting like a pro. Plus, there’s 55-percent less overspray than any other airless sprayer. And it’s three times faster than a roller.
So, quick results, beautiful results and a wonderful prize. But you’ve got to be in it to win it.
TOM: It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement. That Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer is going out to one listener drawn at random. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to reach out with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions by clicking the blue microphone button at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Marty from Mississippi is on the line and he’s got a brick-house question.
How can we help you today?
MARTY: Yes, I’ve recently – about 5 years ago, there’s a house I bought that has red brick with a real light, white-colored grout or mortar. And in the last 5 years, I’ve got a stress crack on each side of the house that goes between the mortar and the brick. And is there a product you can recommend – or multiple products – that could seal that crack up and not lose the look of the brick? I’ve seen people do it with just one solid piece of white-colored caulking. It just looks terrible, the big, white line. Is there something that’s multi-colored that would match up with the brick and the grout to make it look good?
TOM: Marty, if the crack is that big, then you’re definitely not going to use caulk; you’re going to want to use mortar. So, the key here, as you say, though, is to find a mortar that will color-match.
There is a company called Davis Colors that specializes in just this. And they have dozens of different dyes that are mixed into mortars to come up with exactly the match that you need. And they have pretty good distribution across the country. So I would take a look at DavisColors.com. DavisColors.com.
MARTY: Great. I just add those colors to the existing mortar I would mix up here?
TOM: Yes, exactly. Or you buy the appropriate mortar from them already mixed.
MARTY: OK. OK, cool. OK, I knew there had to be something out there. I just wasn’t able to find it, so I appreciate the help.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Glad that you called. Thanks so much for reaching us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever taken on a tiling project, you may know that one of the more inconvenient parts of that project is that it’s messy and it takes days to complete, because you’ve got to wait for the adhesive to set before you can grout. Well, SimpleMat is a product that changes all of that.
SimpleMat, it’s a two-sided adhesive matting and it’s going to replace the need for thinset mortar or any other messy mastic adhesive. It’s the quickest, easiest and cleanest way that you can install tile on backsplashes, on countertops, even on shower walls. You simply apply the SimpleMat to the surface you want to tile, then you add the tile. And that tile is going to bond instantly so that you can start grouting right away.
Now, don’t be a dodo like me and peel off the top adhesive protective layer as you’re reaching across to do the backsplash.
TOM: Not unless you want Leslie stuck to the wall.
LESLIE: Do you remember I glued my belt to that counter?
TOM: I do remember that, yeah.
Hey, I’ll tell you a story. You know, I got a call from a friend of the family: a young woman who just got herself engaged. Congratulating her and her future husband on that. But then they started telling me about this house they bought. And they had a backsplash and the backsplash somehow had a cowboy pattern built into it. And it just wasn’t their taste and wanted to know what they should do about it. They were talking about tearing it all out. I said, “No, don’t do that. You can go right on top of it.” And I started telling them about SimpleMat.
Well, they headed over to Home Depot and they picked up some SimpleMat, they picked up some SimpleGrout and they went home and they – and some tile. They used a mosaic tile, so it was already kind of prearranged for them, in terms of the spacing. And they went back home and they put it all together and grouted it and now it’s good to go. And no more cowboy-tile style under that. It looks bright, it looks cheery, it looks modern. And it was a really easy way to tackle that project.
And that’s why we love SimpleMat. It works on a vertical surface or a horizontal surface. You can use it with SimpleGrout. SimpleGrout is great because it’s premixed; you don’t have to mix up the powder. A backsplash project like that, you really can get it done in just a few hours.
SimpleMat is available at The Home Depot. It’s made by Custom Building Products. No mortar, no mixing, no mess. You can learn more at CustomBuildingProducts.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eleanor in Virginia on the line with a decking question.
How can we help you today?
ELEANOR: The question I have is we have Trex Decking on our – for our deck, which is – and also the porch – screened-in porch. But on the deck – which is not covered by any roof or anything like that; it’s all open to the environment – we have spots on that, which are – it’s a gray-colored decking. And we have these dark spots all over it. Almost kind of looks like a mold. And we do not know what it’s caused by.
My husband has tried to use a power washer with the soap that is recommended for that power washer. Also bleach with a scrub brush. He has – he can get it lightened but not totally gone. And we’re wondering if there’s – if you’ve ever heard of that with Trex Decking and have any suggestions.
TOM: Yeah. Some of the composite materials out there do have some wood-fiber component and they will grow algae, which is most likely what you’re seeing.
Now, one of the treatments that we would recommend is a product called JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. And JOMAX actually has a deck wash. And JOMAX is a detergent that also gets mixed with bleach, gets applied to the deck. You let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then you scrub it off. I would be very careful with the power washer except for just rinsing purposes, because too much pressure can actually ruin that deck.
Now, another possibility is that those black spots are what’s called “artillery fungus.” They kind of look like a shotgun kind of a pellet size. Artillery fungus is particularly difficult to get off. And one of the sources of it is mulch. Do you have mulch around your house or around your yard?
TOM: Well, sometimes, the mulch that’s sort of the ground much – the shredded-bark mulch – will contain artillery fungus. And once that gets out and attaches to surfaces, like decks or sometimes even cars, it’s really, really difficult to get rid of it. So, if that is what’s going on, we would recommend that you don’t do that again. Don’t put the shredded mulch back on. Only use the bark mulch that’s in pieces. That seems to not have the issue. It’s the shredded mulch that attracts and contains artillery fungus.
I would try the JOMAX Deck Wash and Cleaner. I think you’ll have better success with that than you did with straight bleach, OK?
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stuart in Rhode Island has got a water-heating question for us.
What can we do for you today?
STUART: Had an oil-fired, hot-water heater – a separate oil-fired, hot-water heater – separate from the oil burner. And it finally went bad after 13 years. I guess that was a good time period. And my plumber is urging me to replace it with an electric hot-water heater with a timer on it. It’s much more cheaper to do that than buy a – to replace the oil-fired, hot-water heater that I had. But I’m just wondering, are there any negatives to it?
TOM: Well, it’s a little more expensive to run than oil but as you say, it’s a lot less expensive to buy. I’m actually surprised that it only lasted 13 years, because oil-fired water heaters seem to last a lot longer than standard water heaters. If you’ve still got the warranties, the standard water heaters – the electric water heaters – may have a 5-year warranty on the tank, maybe a 10-year warranty on the tank. But I’ve found that oil-fired water heaters last 20 to 25 years on a regular basis. So the fact that it failed at 13 is just plain bad luck.
I have nothing against the idea of you putting an electric water heater and saving some money there, as long as you are using it with a timer. It won’t last probably as long as what I would have thought your oil water heater would have lasted but it will save you some money.
I presume your house also has oil heat. Is that correct?
STUART: It does.
TOM: And is it hot air or hot water?
STUART: It’s hot air.
TOM: It’s hot air. OK. Yeah, so the water heater is completely stand-alone. Yeah, so I think it’s a potential – I don’t really have a strong feeling one way or the other. It’s really a personal preference. But if you want to save some money, there’s no problem putting – there’s no reason not to put the electric water heater as long as it’s sized properly and it is on a timer. Because, of course, you only want that to run when you have to.
Water heaters are dumb; they heat the water, 24-7, whether you use it or not. So you want to make sure that it’s properly insulated and the timer is set up so it’s not running all night long when you don’t really need it running.
STUART: Right. OK. Any idea how many hours I should probably have that shut off?
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would shut it off kind of after you’re done with your evening cleaning tasks, because the water will stay warm for a while. So, if you like to shower and bathe at night, whenever that part of the evening is done, that’s when you want to shut it down. Then bring it on about an hour before you wake up in the morning.
If you leave to go to work on a regular basis, you can turn it off while you’re away at work. But if you’re home or you work from home and you need it on during the day, you might have to skip that cycle. But the key time to have it off is in the middle of the night.
STUART: OK. Very good, then. I think I’ll stick with it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. Do you love posting photos of your four-legged furry friends? I mean who doesn’t and who doesn’t love seeing pictures of puppies and kitties and all sorts of fluffy friends, because they make you so happy?
Well, spread some happiness and post a picture of your floof. But also, you’re going to enter a fantastic contest. We’ve got LL Flooring’s Floof Proof Pet Sweepstakes. You’re going to get a chance to win a $1,000 gift card and more from LL Flooring.
TOM: Yep. All you need to do is post a picture with the #LLFloofProof on Instagram. That’s LLFloofProof. Or you can enter direct at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
Now, you can enter once a day and – and this is important – you can earn bonus entries by sharing the sweeps with friends, following some websites that we recommend and so on. It’s a great way to share your floof and win some great prizes as a result.
LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over.
How can we help you paint those countertops?
SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.
TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably 5 or 8 years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.
I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.
SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product – locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.
TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.
SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?
TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.
SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.
LESLIE: Well, if you think that the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set that mower as low as possible so you won’t have to mow that often, well, you might be surprised to find out that that can actually end up being more work in the long run.
TOM: It seems to make sense but it really doesn’t. There is a method to cutting the grass that if you follow can really improve both the look and the health of your lawn. So, here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s talk about that cutting length. Now, the shorter you cut the lawn, the more chance it has of getting weeds. Longer grass actually creates shade for the rest of the grass that grows around it. That tiny bit of extra shade actually stops the weeds from coming in.
Now, the amount of shade that you need also transitions during the year. So in the spring, it’s OK to cut the grass to a medium-low height. But in the summer, when it’s really hot, that grass needs all the shade it can get. And so you want to make sure that you’re cutting it long when it gets to be really, really warm outside.
LESLIE: Now, for the clippings, if you’re going to try to just leave the clippings, you have to use a mulching blade on that mower. If you just mow your lawn with a regular blade, then you’re just really leaving clumps of grass around. And those clumps are going to kill the lawn that’s underneath it.
Also, you’ve got to remember that mulching mowers don’t mulch well if the grass is wet or if it’s too long. So if that’s the case, you’re still going to have to collect the clippings and then compost them. So you’ve got to plan accordingly if you want to mulch with them.
TOM: Now, in terms of watering, there are a lot of different factors to consider – how sunny or shady your lawn is, the type of lawn, the type of soil – that you have to feel your grass out kind of a little bit and make the decision. But I will say this. The basic rule of thumb: 1 inch of water per week but not all at once. You want to break it up into a couple of waterings – maybe two or more – instead of all at once. This way, that lawn will not be flooded. It’ll get a chance to get a good drink and it will also be encouraged to grow long, deep and healthy roots so it can withstand warm summer days without burning out.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. Do you have a deck or a fence or anything that you’re getting ready to tackle for the next long summer weekend? Well, if you do, we’ve got a big giveaway that can for sure help.
TOM: That’s right. The Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer. It’s perfect if you want to paint a deck or a fence or your entire house. That Control Pro Paint Sprayer allows homeowners to take on big projects themselves instead of hiring a contractor. That’s going to save you some money. You’ll get about 55-percent less overspray than traditional airless sprayers. And it will spray three times faster, so you get the job done quicker. And it’s easy to use. It applies a high-quality finish that you’ll definitely be proud of.
It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
LESLIE: That Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. So give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ben in Illinois on the line with a popcorn-ceiling question.
How can we help you today?
BEN: Got a probably 70s, ranch-style home.
TOM: 1970 was a very good year for popcorn.
BEN: Yes, it was. They had this popcorn ceiling all the way in the TV room, uninterrupted, that goes through the kitchen.
BEN: And uninterrupted flow goes all the way down the hallway.
TOM: OK. So what happened? Did you have a leak or something?
BEN: Had some wind damage to some shingles and it came down through the attic. And it stained some of the popcorn ceiling in the TV room. I since put a new roof on but it – yeah, it stained it and some of the popcorn stuff came off.
TOM: So, is the popcorn physically damaged except for losing a few kernels, so to speak?
BEN: Well, there’s still a little bit of staining on the stuff that didn’t fall. But there’s some sections that did.
TOM: You’re going to have to repaint the popcorn ceiling. And it’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job but it can be done. The key here is this: you want to use a very, very thick roller and one that’s slit. The rollers are about ¾-inch or even an inch thick and they have a slice, kind of, in them every inch or so. And so it uses a lot of paint.
And the key thing is you’re going to want to use a primer first. Don’t just do this with topcoat, because that leak stain will come right through. So you prime the popcorn ceiling first and then you paint it.
Now, if you’re missing a bunch of area of popcorn and you want to touch that up, there are a number of companies that make popcorn-repair products. One of it’s called Homax – H-o-m-a-x. And they have a spray where it’s as easy as using an aerosol spray-can that you basically shoot up there and it will replace the texture. So you can kind of fill in the area where some of that material has come off. And then, since you’re painting, you paint the whole thing over again.
Now, whether you go from end to end in the house is up to you or whether you, you know, just kind of decide where you’re going to stop painting, that’s your call. Maybe there’s a natural place for that, maybe there’s not. But you have to paint it; that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get this to look normal again.
And by the way, one final thing, when you do paint it with the topcoat, make sure you use flat ceiling paint.
BEN: Gotcha. And I guess a two-prong question here, if I still have time. To fill in those spots where the popcorn ceiling came off, how do I avoid this major overlap if I use this aerosol spray that’s supposed to fill in?
TOM: Well, you’re just going to kind of thin it out in the areas where it already exists and then go a little bit heavier. You have some control over it. It’s not going to look like a patch. It will be whiter than everything else but you’re going to paint this whole thing, anyway, when you’re done. So, what we want to do is really just replace the texture and then you’re going to paint everything. And so it’ll all blend in nicely when it’s done.
BEN: OK. And I would plan on doing a transition: maybe a fancy wood deal that goes over to block that TV-room ceiling off from where it goes into the kitchen. And I could connect it to the kitchen counters that extend out a little bit. That way I wouldn’t have to do the non-damaged sections and repaint them, as well.
TOM: Why don’t you do that after you paint the section that’s damaged and see how you like it? Because you’re going to – you’ll be surprised with how dirty and dingy that ceiling has gotten when it has some new paint against it. It’s going to look pretty fresh and clean and might inspire you to do the whole thing.
BEN: And that just might. That’s a very good point. I appreciate that very much, Tom.
TOM: Three most expensive words in home improvement, my friend: might as well.
BEN: You’ve got it right, brother. OK. Well, you got me motivated.
TOM: Sounds good. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, I love to hike. And after a long day on the trail, there is nothing like relaxing around a campfire. Well, you can have that campfire feeling all year long by building your very own fire pit.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s not a difficult project. And the easiest way to get it done is by using precast outdoor building blocks. For example, Pavestone has a brand called RumbleStone that you stack and fit together quickly and easily.
Now, the first step is to pick an area far enough away from any other buildings. If it’s too close, that siding can overheat and melt or embers could actually land and start a fire.
Now, once you’ve picked that location, you want to excavate down a few inches in the shape of the fire pit that you’re building. And then tamp down that surface and level off the base.
TOM: Now, next comes the fun part: stacking the blocks. For a round fire pit – that’s about, say, 10 inches high and about 45 inches across – you only need two sizes of the RumbleStone: the mini-blocks and the trapezoidal-shaped blocks. You start by creating a stable, level project area. Then all you do is lay out the trapezoidal and the mini-blocks in a circle, alternating each one. They can even be secured with construction adhesive, so no mortar is needed whatsoever.
LESLIE: Now, three layers of RumbleStone, that’s all you need. For the second and third level, you want to offset the blocks from the layer beneath it. And then just line the bottom with sand and you’re going to be ready to fire up the s’mores in no time. No matter how hot it is, I always find that s’mores are an excellent summertime treat. So go ahead and get this fire pit going.
Now, Pavestone offers RumbleStone fire-pit kits, with everything that you need, starting at $250. And they’re available at The Home Depot.
For a complete material list, instructions, how-to videos and more, make sure you visit Pavestone.com.
TOM: That’s Pavestone.com.
We’ve got a couple of messages here that came in over email that I wanted to get to, Leslie.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got one here from Lisa who says, “Moles have started to show up in my garden. What can I do to get rid of them? I don’t want to use any kind of pesticide because we grow vegetables.”
TOM: Yeah, that’s definitely a concern. And certainly, while there are pesticides that are acceptable for that use, I think there’s a really easy way to do that and that is by using a type of worm. It’s a microscopic worm that’s called a “nematode.” And I use these in my garden.
Basically, you can order them online. You can get them through Amazon. They are very, very tiny in the sense that they come – the smallest package you can buy these worms in, Leslie, is 5 million. Five million worms which is like a teaspoon, believe it or not, of these things.
But basically, you buy them. They come in a freezer pack. Sometimes they will come with a sprayer or you can use a hose sprayer or a pump-up sprayer. You mix these nematodes in with water and you spray your garden. And basically, these nematodes are predatory worms that will hunt down and kill the insects. But they are safe for people, for pets, for your plants.
We did two applications last year in our garden. And that was after I saw moles in the very first couple of weeks. And I was not going to have them messing with my Jersey tomatoes. So, I laid down two applications of nematodes a couple of weeks apart. And problem was solved. We had the best garden we’ve ever had.
LESLIE: That is amazing. I mean I really love to have a beautiful, fresh garden at home. And if you get an invasion of moles, you can be in deep trouble unless you get on top of it.
TOM: I think it’s funny that the smallest envelope they come in is 5 million but it does go up to 100 million (inaudible) I don’t know.
LESLIE: To 100 million? What is that? A ¼-cup?
TOM: It’s probably like a – yeah, something like that.
LESLIE: That is crazy. How much does that cost, by the by?
TOM: So, I ordered some, again, for this year. And let me see. What did I pay? I think I paid about 45 bucks and I got the 10-million size, which is enough for two applications in my garden.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one here from Ken who’s thinking about installing replacement windows. “I’d like to know how these differ from other kinds of new windows,” he writes.
TOM: They actually differ a lot. See, when you buy new-construction windows, these are designed to go into a wall while it’s being framed and before the siding goes on. So they have a flange that’s around the window, that sort of rests on top of the framed wall. And that’s how it’s physically attached. So it’s usually attached there with nails. And so now once it’s secured in place, then they add the siding – the building paper and then the siding over that.
But if your house is already constructed, removing the siding, you know, would be a disastrous job because you’d never get it all back on the way you want it. So there has to be a better way to make that happen and that’s what replacement windows do. They’re designed to fit inside the old opening, right? So the old jamb.
So they take out the top and the bottom sliding part of the double-hung window and they slide it right in. It’s custom-made to fit right in. Actually happens pretty quickly and you don’t have to mess with the siding. You order it to fit and then it slips right in there. And that’s why replacement windows are the only way for you to go if you’re thinking about replacing your windows in an existing house.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on this, the very first week of summer. Yes, the first official week. We hope that you are enjoying all the beautiful weather, taking some time to enjoy your place, maybe taking some time to get away. But if you’ve got a project on your to-do list, whether it is now or later, we will be here to help you get that job done. All you need to do is reach out to us by clicking on that blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com. We love to help.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. 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 2022 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.)