- Are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? We’ll share tips to help you catch up and get started on a healthy green lawn.
- In their first ever State of the Pro Report, Lowes polled their pros to learn which projects are in demand for 2022, shifts in projects being completed by DIY vs. Pros. The result offer a great roadmap for both pros and the consumers who are planning projects this year
- Spring cleaning isn’t just for indoor rooms. Now is also the time to spruce up a favorite outdoor room—your deck, we share deck cleaning tips.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Rob in Iowa has a cedar trim deck that he is trying to paint and is considered about the boards not matching the rest of the deck.
- Sandy from Pennsylvania is trying to figure out which is the best type of garage to build with her colonial.
- Steven in Texas is looking for a formaldehyde and VOC free kitchen cabinets.
- Merilyn from Louisiana found pet stains under her carpeting and needs advice cleaning them.
- Gary in Hawaii wants to split electricity between two fixtures.
- Hugo wants to know the best HVAC to replace his 30 year old one.
Add your transcript here.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And welcome to Episode 2203 of The Money Pit. You can listen when you want when you follow the show at MoneyPit.com/Podcast.
Hey, it’s a beautiful day here in my part of the country. I’m in New Jersey and it’s one of those weekends where there’s already a line, I’m sure, at the home center and the garden centers. And people are getting out there and they’re planting and they’re enjoying and they’re planning.
And if you’re planning a project this weekend and maybe you need some help, you don’t know what products to buy, you don’t know how to get started or whether you can do it yourself or whether it’s a big problem or a little problem – sometimes we get calls from folks that see a roof leak and think the whole roof’s got to go. And maybe a contractor told them that but it turns out it’s, you know, maybe a $10 fix. Any kind of projects like that that are on your to-do list, we can put them onto our to-do list by answering those questions. We get you a good solution, take that stress away. But you’ve got to help yourself first.
Now, the way you do that is you reach out to us by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask – A-s-k. So MoneyPit.com/Ask. Download The Money Podcast and post your question right there. You actually record it into the app. It comes right to the studio and you’ll be among the first to get an answer. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with that question.
Got a great show planned for you. Starting off, are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, that green lawn didn’t happen by magic. We’re going to share tips to help you get started on a healthy, green lawn. We’re going to talk about what you need to do to prep that soil so it comes in fast and strong and stays that way all summer long.
LESLIE: And coming up, Lowe’s just released a new study called the State of the Pro Report, which highlights the most popular projects for the year. We’re going to share projects that are in top demand and suggest tips for working with the pros for getting them done.
TOM: And spring cleaning isn’t just for indoor rooms. Now is also the time to spruce up a favorite outdoor room: your deck. We’re going to have a spring-cleaning deck recipe that will get that deck sparkling clean, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we want to hear about your spring projects. Plus, we’ve got a great tool to give away today to one listener drawn at random. It’s the GT30LI Cordless Glue Gun made by Arrow Fastener.
TOM: Now, that’s available at Lowe’s but we’ve got one here to give away to one listener drawn at random. So make that you. Reach out to us with your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask. That’s MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Rob in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROB: Calling to get you guys’ opinions on the – I’m having my deck partially repaired and it’s got some cedar trim and cedar boards that have gone bad, so they’re going to be replaced. So they’re going to look newer compared to the rest of the deck. I was looking into getting one of the epoxy, composite-type, deck-coating systems. Rust-Oleum Restore is one brand. Behr makes one, too. I’m just curious what you guys think about these products. And are they worth it?
TOM: How many decking boards are deteriorated, Rob?
ROB: Well, oh, it’s the majority of the steps. It’s a cedar deck with a green, treated wood underneath baseboard support. The cedar is just dying out on me and it’s about 7 years old. The railings are going bad, too, so we’re looking at replacing a lot of the boards on the steps and the railing. But up to the same platform are those main boards. They are doing fine. So it’s mainly the steps up.
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily consider completely sealing in all of that cedar with a product like that.
Here’s what I would do. First of all, the deck boards that are cracked or checked or deteriorated, one thing to try is to flip them over. Because the underside of those deck boards is usually as good as the day it went down. Even though it’s cracked on top, the side that was not exposed to the sun is usually in pretty good condition. So you try to do that as much as you can. For ones that are really bad – just have to be replaced. Just replace those with new cedar decking boards. And yes, it’s not going to match.
And then once all the repair has been done, then you want to use a deck-washing product, like the one that makes – that Flood Wood Care makes. You run a deck wash across everything and then you want to hit it with at least two coats of solid stain. So not paint but solid stain. Not semi-transparent, not transparent but solid-color stain. And a good-quality solid-color stain, that’s going to look all the same. It’s going to maintain its wood quality, so you’ll see the grain through the stain and it’ll look perfect.
So, I don’t think you need to go with some sort of really thick – super-thick – coating right now. I think you just need to do some basic repairs.
ROB: OK. What stains would you recommend that …?
TOM: Good-quality stain. So, yeah, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams. A good-quality stain like that.
ROB: Alright, alright. OK. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Sandy in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SANDY: Yes, I was calling to ask about building a garage. My husband and I just bought a home. It’s a two-story Colonial but there’s no garage and we’re trying to decide detached, attached, with or without a breezeway. We know we want it to be oversized but we’re trying to decide which would be the most efficient and convenient choice to go with.
TOM: So, it’s as much an architectural question as it is a structural question, because you’re trying to figure out what’s going to fit best with the property. So that amount – that involves looking at the house itself in terms of its design and also looking at the neighborhood to determine what’s going to fit in well. Because it’s OK to have the nicest house on the block but it’s not OK if it’s that much nicer that the rest of the neighborhood pulls it down in value. Does that make sense?
SANDY: Yes. And I think the rest of the homes are very, very similar except they have garages.
TOM: OK. Well, then that’s a good model for you to follow.
TOM: Now, if you have the breezeway, then obviously you’re going to have more functional space. So I’m not quite sure what we can do to help you with this question, because it’s really a design that you have to kind of agree on with your husband and then set apart building it. When it does get built, it obviously has to be built by a pro, in accordance with all of the local regulations, which are going to probably require that you have a set of architectural plans.
TOM: So, you might just want to start with that because an architect – architects can help you look at the options very easily with the computer programming they use today and give you a chance to look at it from several different angles, both outside and inside, in terms of available storage space and in different configurations.
SANDY: OK. Also, we need to replace the roof on the home, so I was thinking making it an attached or with a breezeway kind of makes it a little bit more efficient. As we replace the roof on the home, we’d be putting the roof on the garage, as well.
TOM: OK. Well, it would make sense for you to do the entire roof and have that folded into the same project. And then you could, in fact, fold it into the same financing, too, if you’re financing the project. So, yeah, I’m all for planning those projects to be done together. Because when the roofing team is on site, that’ll be the most cost-effective way to get it all done.
TOM: And to have it match.
TOM: We did our roof in the last year and we did everything but the garage. And the garage really didn’t need it but seeing that brand-new, beautiful roof on the house, I just decided that I would ignore the fact that I had a few years of life left on my garage roof. And we did that, as well, which is why we always say that the three most expensive words in home improvement are “might as well.”
SANDY: Right. Right.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Give us a call, let us know what you are working on. Whatever it is for this summer season, if you’re getting ready for wonderful outdoor hangouts or perhaps you’re working on an indoor project, we’re here to lend a hand. Give us a call because we’re going to help you out but we’re also going to give you one of my favorite tools: an amazing glue gun from Arrow Fastener. We’ve got the GT30LI Cordless Glue Gun. It’s available at Lowe’s and this is going to go out to one lucky listener.
Now, this is Arrow’s first fully cordless glue gun. It’s going to heat up super quick, like in a minute, and then run for 30 minutes. So you can tackle a ton of projects in that time. And it’s going to shut down after 10 minutes, so you’re not going to waste that battery life if you walk away for a moment.
It’s valued at 29.98. Can find it at Lowe’s and Lowes.com but it’s going out to one lucky listener.
TOM: Make that you. Call us now with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or better yet, post your question to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas needs some help with a cabinet project.
What can we do for you?
STEVEN: Yes. So my wife has challenges with chemicals, like formaldehydes and glues and paints that they put in kitchen cabinets, the new ones. And I was wondering if you had any idea what a person could use that you could get away from those types of chemicals in cabinets.
TOM: So you’re looking for a cabinet manufacturer that is sort of formaldehyde-free and VOC-free? Is that correct?
STEVEN: Yeah, that’d be right. Yes.
TOM: Steve, that’s an interesting question because when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so many of the products that go into kitchen cabinets have the potential to have VOCs or volatile organic compounds in them. Because you could start with the boards that are used to build the cabinets. If they’re a pressboard or a composite board of some sort, that may have formaldehyde in it, for example. Then you have the finishes and on and on and on.
I think what you want to do is you want to look for kitchen cabinetry that is built to meet the new CARB2 standard. That’s C-A-R-B-2 standard. That stands for the California Air Resources Board and that’s a standard that measures the level of those types of toxins in cabinetry. And so if you search for kitchen cabinets that meet that standard, I think that’s a good place to start.
STEVEN: Would you have any idea – like maybe some metal cabinets that would look nice in a kitchen. Would you have any ideas on something like that?
TOM: Well, you’d still have finishes on metal cabinets that would have some of the same issues.
TOM: I haven’t seen metal cabinets in a kitchen in forever. The Gladiator folks at Whirlpool are doing a really good job these days with metal cabinetry for laundry rooms and utility areas and spaces like that. But I don’t know if that cabinet line is going to extend to the point where you’d have enough flexibility to do it in a kitchen.
LESLIE: Well, I can share with you a vendor of a no-formaldehyde-added cabinetry. They’re actually beautiful, handmade, wooden cabinets. I’m not sure of their price point but I am familiar with the fact that they are not adding any chemicals to it. And they are very responsible in how they utilize the wood and the products that they use to make their cabinets. It’s a company out of Portland and their name is Neil Kelly. And it’s N-e-i-l-K-e-l-l-y.
And then, there was a metal-cabinet manufacturer that I was familiar with a while ago. It’s Fillip Metal and it’s F-i-l-l-i-p. It’s sort of this new revival of some interesting, repurposed materials. And you might want to check them out, as well.
STEVEN: OK. Well, thank you very much for the information. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, that lawn didn’t happen by magic.
TOM: That’s right. It actually takes a lot of work to create and maintain a beautiful lawn. And one of the necessary steps is fertilizing. In fact, over the course of a season, there are really three things we need to add to a lawn to make it thick and green: grass seed, fertilizer and depending on the acidity of the soil, lime.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, all lawn fertilizers contain three main nutrients listed, in this order, on the packages: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium or NPK for short. Now, NPK indicates the percentage, by weight, of each of these three nutrients.
For example, if the fertilizer is labeled 10-10-10, that means the bag contains an NPK ratio of 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium.
TOM: Now, if you’re wondering what these three very specific ingredients do for your lawn, the nitrogen promotes rapid growth and a lush, green color. Phosphorus helps develop a healthy root system. And the potassium, well, that boosts the overall health of your grass.
So to figure out what kind of fertilizer your lawn needs, it’s important to test the soil and then choose your fertilizer accordingly.
LESLIE: Now, to apply the fertilizer, you want to walk behind a drop spreader. This helps apply the fertilizer evenly across your lawn. And then be sure to water thoroughly. And I promise that green lawn is not too far behind.
LESLIE: Marilyn in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARILYN: Hello. I have moved into an old home that has unfinished and some finished wooden floors that were carpeted. Unfortunately, in taking that carpet up, former pets that were here have left their mark all over the floors.
TOM: Oh, no.
MARILYN: There are stains and there is a dreadful, dreadful odor throughout the house. The dogs that I have brought in have continued that process and now have to live outside. My question is: what do I do? What can I do to get the odor out of these wooden floors?
TOM: What I would do, Marilyn, is I would sand the floors. This is the one time where I think it makes a lot of sense to do a thorough sanding of these floors.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’ve got to completely refinish.
TOM: Yeah, especially if you’re saying that some of the floors were unfinished to begin with. So I would sand all the floors to take off some material, vacuum up that sawdust and then I would add three coats of polyurethane.
Now, I’m sorry, let me back up. Before you polyurethane, if they’re still stained, then I would add some wood stain to the floor to darken the color a little bit and hide any of those remaining marks. Because if you try to go totally natural, the stains will obviously show up. But if you add – you know, it’s like a slight tinting to – a tinted stain. Like, say, one of the colors that I use a lot is called Early American, which is like a very light-brown color. That looks really nice and does hide some of those stains that could be in the wood. And then add the three coats of urethane.
LESLIE: A big trend is dark gray, almost even like an ebonized wood floor. Dark wood floors, even if it’s a super-dark chocolate or almost on the black/gray scale, really are impactful and beautiful and that could hide a lot, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And well, that’s a good point. I mean you could – you don’t have to go dark is what I’m trying to say. You could just go just very fairly lightly. But from there, I think you’ll be good to go. I think once you put the urethane coating on it, you’ll no longer have the odor issues.
MARILYN: Love your show. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Heading out west to Hawaii where Gary has an electrical question.
Aloha, Gary. How can we help you?
GARY: Aloha. Thank you, guys, very much. I have a situation in my bathroom where I actually want to take an existing wall light and I want to remove it and then create a situation where I have a light on either side of the mirror. So I’ve got this one electrical feed coming out of the wall. And what I want to do is I want to kind of splice it so that I could take one wire off to the left and one wire off to the right of the mirror. And I’m trying to find out if there’s an easy way to do that or if, basically, there’s a kit that might help me do that because I’m not an electrical genius here.
TOM: So, because you’re not an electrical genius, I don’t want you to try this yourself, OK?
TOM: But I will tell you that it’s a fairly easy project that any electrician could do this for you. Since you have power going to the one fixture, it’s very easy to split that off into two separate fixtures and use the same switch that the other fixture was on. So it’s a really simple project but I don’t want you doing it yourself. Because if you want to tackle a plumbing project, you can get wet; if you want to tackle an electrical project, you could get dead. So, we don’t want you to try that yourself, alright? You’ve got to use common sense.
GARY: OK. OK. Very good. I appreciate the advice, yeah. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Lowe’s is a company that is exceptionally well tuned in to the pro customers they serve. In their first ever State of the Pro Report, Lowe’s polled their pros to learn which projects are in demand for 2022 and to learn shifts in projects being completed by DIY versus pros and much more, all thanks to getting a real intel from real home improvement pros and homeowners.
LESLIE: That’s right. And the results provide a great roadmap for both pros and the consumers who are planning projects for the year. With us to talk about what they learned is Gerardo Soto, Director of Brand Marketing for Lowe’s.
GERARDO: Thank you so much, Leslie. Pleasure to be here with you.
TOM: So, Gerardo, this is the first time you’ve ever done this type of a study. It seems pretty complete. You really dug in to what’s happening in the marketplace, which I think is a very unique time given that we’re coming out of COVID, perhaps still facing some supply-chain issues, rising gas prices and so on. So what did you learn?
GERARDO: Well, there was plenty of learning here. But I think when we look at the main learning from the State of the Pro Report is the fact that pros believe that they are still in a great position for 2022 when it comes to work. And that’s important for us, as you can imagine. And so, a lot of them are very optimistic about what’s coming in 2022 and the projects that they’re going to be serving for the consumers. And so, that was the main takeaway, I would say, from here aside from understanding, you know, more details of where they see that work going.
LESLIE: Now, your survey with the pros was saying that they’re expecting an increase in 5 projects across 2022, with 66 percent being energy-efficiency updates. Do you think this is sort of driven by the desire to find improved comfort or save money? What do you think is driving that end?
GERARDO: It’s very interesting when we look at energy efficiency, right? And the simple fact that people are staying in their homes longer now and there’s new work environment where everybody’s now pretty much working from home, right? And it’s – I think it’s something that’s here to stay. You can understand how customers are looking to not just update their homes but make them more efficient when it comes to energy, because it saves them money at the end of the day.
TOM: Now, you also noted that 62 percent say that updates for families will keep them busy. What does that include, Gerardo, when you say updates for families? What kinds of projects are we talking about in that category?
GERARDO: The majority of pros I’ve seen – people wanting to entertain at home, being able to be more comfortable. And we’re seeing younger generations also getting into older homes and I think they want to make sure that their homes are well built to have a fantastic family environment inside.
And so, there are things that the same consumers are saying that they’re looking to do, right? And that is improvements around their bathrooms, their kitchens, because you know kitchens have become a central location of the family nucleus. And even – and when you have people over, as well, it becomes an important part of any reunion.
And so, those are part of the different projects that people are looking to make. And I think that’s the trend that pros are obviously looking and seeing as one of the top priorities.
TOM: Gerardo, I notice here in your findings that you did also note a shift in those folks that are doing DIY projects. And you asked them: whether or not the next time it comes around, would they still do the work themselves? And over half said no. So, I don’t know if that means they learned their lesson or they got in over their heads. But it’s interesting that they’re trying to sort of establish what their capabilities are and willing now and think it’s smart – which, of course, it is – to turn some of these projects over to pros.
GERARDO: Yeah, I think that’s a great point that you noticed in the State of the Pro. And yes, a lot of them are absolutely noticing that there could be hidden costs in themselves taking on some of these projects, right? And that’s why you’re seeing that over 50 percent of them saying they may not be doing it. And it could be that they simply overestimated their own ability to complete a project. Sometimes, it’s a matter of time, right? How long does this actually take you to get it done? And so, they end up hiring a professional at the end of the day.
And I think that’s the key message here. There’s definitely a DIY trend that will continue but you can absolutely count on professionals to be called on a lot more to make sure that those jobs get done and they get done well. Because I can tell you my wife has asked several times for me to take on certain jobs and I’ll avoid that risk at all cost. I’ll just call a professional and get that done.
TOM: You’re a wise man, both in terms of the work and keeping your wife happy, sir.
I’ve got to tell you, Gerardo, I was as professional home inspector for 20 years. Folks wonder how do we get all this knowledge so we can answer all these questions on our program. Well, it’s because we’ve been there.
And one of the things that I think is really detracting from a home is when we see projects that were not done by professionals. You can tell when you see something that was not standard, maybe a bit amateurish. It really stands out and kind of makes you shake your head, because they weren’t doing themselves a favor by not bringing pros into a project where all the ceramic tile ends up being put up crooked or electrical panels completely mis-wired. Some of that stuff can be downright dangerous.
So we think it’s really important for folks to remember to work within their ability and not to exceed it. No matter how easy the YouTube video makes it look, you’re going to probably run into some surprises you don’t know how to handle.
GERARDO: You are 100-percent right. And this is the reason why Lowe’s also offers installation services, because we understand how difficult it may be. And you may come into our store thinking that you’re ready to do it but the reality is that your ability may not be there simply because you’re not trained for it, not because you couldn’t actually do it eventually.
But you know what? That’s why there are professionals. And I think it’s a great opportunity for all consumers to understand that sometimes, what seems easy and relatively cheap to do yourself ends up not being so. And a professional can actually deliver the value that you’re looking in the time that you’re looking to do it.
And so, regardless, if you use a company like ours to hire those professional services or if you have your own professional that you know or have been provided to you by a friend, that’s the right route. And I think pros now are seen better by customers. Customers understand that it takes skill to do that trade and they’re gaining a lot more respect for that perspective now, that everybody felt – in a way or not having to look for that type of service.
LESLIE: I mean that’s all really great that you found this out. And I’m wondering, did you find that because people have been spending so much time at home the past 2 years that there were a lot of design- or style-driven projects happening, because people just are tired of looking at what they’ve got?
GERARDO: You know, I think that is one of the factors. That people are looking at newer houses and potentially not in a position to buy a new house. And so, absolutely, right? Styles change and people want to update their homes to make them more comfortable to – so that they are proud of the homes that they live in, right?
And so, when you look at their motivation, actually, design and style is the number one. And so, I think that’s what we found out, as well, through that survey.
TOM: Very interesting. The survey was called State of the Pro. You can read it yourself at Lowes.com/StateOfThePro, Lowes.com/StateOfThePro.
Gerardo Soto, Vice President of Brand Marketing for Lowe’s. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today, Gerardo. And best of luck for continued success with Lowe’s.
GERARDO: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
TOM: Hey, if you want to get a project done, a great tool to help you do that is a glue gun. And we’ve got one to give away from Arrow today. It’s the Arrow Fastener GT30LI Cordless Glue Gun. Cordless Glue Gun. It’s available at Lowe’s and it’s Arrow’s first fully cordless glue gun. So it is super convenient. In fact, it heats up in just a minute, runs for up to 30 minutes. It’s got an auto-shutdown feature and it’s worth 29.98.
Available, again, at Lowe’s and Lowes.com but we’ve got one to give away to one lucky listener. Make that you. Reach out to us with your question. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and perhaps send you that new cordless glue gun from Arrow.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Hugo on the line.
What’s going on at your money pit and how can we help?
HUGO: I’ve got to put a new furnace in. I had a Lennox for 30 years and it’s done good but 30 years is pretty good for a furnace.
HUGO: And they want to put in a Trane. Is that any good or is there a better one or what?
TOM: Yep. Oh, yeah. No, that’s a very good – it’s a very good product. Trane as in T-r-a-n-e. They are a very good HVAC manufacturer. Got lots of good products that – [what I usually] (ph) find is that HVAC contractors get used to one or two brands. They like to work with them a lot. They have a good experience with them, which means they don’t – haven’t gotten a lot of callbacks on them.
So, if you’re comfortable with your contractor and they are recommending Trane, I see no reason not to go with that.
HUGO: They’ve been doing my furnace work for 15 years and they’ve always been honest and up-front.
TOM: Well, I think you should stick with them then.
TOM: That sounds like a good company.
Well, is your wood deck looking a bit worn? Powdered laundry detergent can be used for more than just your laundry. If you mix it with hot water, it actually makes a pretty handy deck cleaner.
LESLIE: Yeah. So here’s the recipe. You want to start with a 5-gallon bucket, mix 3 quarts of water, 1 quart of bleach and a ½-cup of detergent. Now, guys, super important: you have to be sure that the detergent does not contain ammonia. Because if you mix ammonia and bleach, it can form a very, very dangerous gas. So don’t do it.
TOM: Now, you want to mix the solution in the bucket and then apply it to the deck using a stiff floor brush. Let it sit there for a few minutes and let it dry on the surface. That’ll be the key. Keep it wet but then rinse it off thoroughly. And be sure to cover nearby vegetation before using this method, because we don’t want to splash this on the leaves of the plants. I don’t think it will hurt so much the root structure but I know if you hit some of the leaves on the bushes and plants, it could be damaging to them.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, for extra cleaning power, it’s OK to use a pressure washer for extra cleaning but you have to be careful. If you use too much pressure, you can damage the soft wood surfaces. And if your pressure washer offers multiple settings, you want to use the selection for washing a car. That’s usually pretty gentle and it’s not going to carve into the wood.
TOM: Now, when planning your deck-cleaning project, try and work in cooler conditions. So, for example, early in the morning or later afternoon. Cleaning a hot deck is a lot more difficult because the mixture might dry before it actually has time to work.
So, cool weather, a big bucket and some laundry detergent and you’ve got everything you need to scrub your deck super clean.
Sherry has an interesting question, Leslie. She says, “We made our painted concrete patio bigger using pavers.” So I guess they had a concrete patio. They put pavers on top of it. “But it also had 4×4 posts that were removed. My contractor filled the 4×4 post holes with polymeric sand and now that doesn’t match. I want to know if I can paint the polymeric sand. Or is there a better option?”
So, a couple of things have gone wrong here. I mean putting pavers on the concrete was good. Polymeric sand, for those that are not familiar with it, is a special sand designed to go in between pavers that will solidify and …
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like a sandy grout that kind of makes them stick together.
TOM: Right, exactly. And so, the problem is you can’t use that to fill in a whole 4×4 post, though. That was a big no-no on the part of the contractor. So a 4-inch-square hole probably, what, 2 inches thick. He used that sand? Well, he must have had a lot left in the bag. That’s not what it’s designed for.
So, what he should have done – and what I encourage you to do right now – is to scrape out all that sand and then to cut a paver to fit the hole – size of that hole. So, you know, if you had a standard brick size, you can either buy a square brick or cut a rectangular brick to fit in that hole and then you could put polymeric sand around the joint. But you can’t fill it up with sand; that is just not going to last.
LESLIE: Alright. Fran wrote in to us for some advice about crown molding. And she says, “I can’t cut all those fancy corners myself. Do you have any ideas?”
TOM: Yeah. You can use foam crown molding. It is great stuff. You basically put it in, you cut it with a normal handsaw. The corners are pre-cut and you adhere it to the walls with painter’s caulk. So, really simple. Avoids all the hassles of having to cut those compound miters if you use wood crown. No nailing. It’s very lightweight and it just goes in really quickly. And you could paint it and it looks perfect when it’s all done.
LESLIE: Yeah. You really cannot tell and it looks really, really great. And you’ll be so proud that you did it yourself.
TOM: Well, it’s the time of year when we get to trade in our snow shovels for a rake and get to work on a garden. But if you’re short on space, there are still ways to exercise your green thumb. Leslie has tips, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is amazing. We’ve been talking about vertical wall gardens for quite some time but they are truly just now cropping up everywhere, from airport lounges, shopping malls, restaurants, nightclubs. You name it, I’ve seen them there and they are so beautiful. Even in office spaces.
And let me tell you, they’re not just for public spaces. A wall garden can actually soften a modern apartment, as well. And you can use a trellis or a grid or a plant, any kind of vine that you like, and that really achieves the same look.
Now, another idea is a community garden. People are transforming unused pieces of land in their neighborhood into these gourmet gardens of fresh produce. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, because everybody takes a turn at tending the garden. And then everybody reaps the harvest.
Now, another thing: a roof garden. They are gaining popularity everywhere. Not only are roof gardens a great way to create urban microclimates, they also create an oasis in the city.
And finally, hanging potted plants are definitely back. You can hang these on a balcony or a porch and you can hold things like strawberries or tomatoes or beautiful flowers. Totally up to you.
For more ideas, just head to MoneyPit.com for an archive full of gardening ideas for your home and apartments.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, outdoor-living spaces have never been more popular and that includes outdoor kitchens. We’re going to share recipes to help you build out your own outdoor kitchen, 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.
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