- Container Gardens: Craving fresh veggies in winter? Save money and eat healthy all year by growing vegetables in a container garden.
- Soundproofing: Find out how to avoid sleepless nights and distractions at home by blocking out all those annoying outside noises.
- Decorating Ideas: Repurposing an old fireplace mantel can add a great focal point to your home décor, even if you don’t have a real fireplace.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Bathroom Remodeling: What are the best materials for remodeling a bathroom? Jim can either use a simple and affordable DIY shower liner or gut and renovate the bathroom with a waterproof shower kit that can be customized.
- Bathroom Flooring: Bathroom flooring can take a beating with young boys at home. Michelle should look into tile, laminate, or water-resistant fabricated flooring that’s durable, cleanable, and won’t absorb moisture and stains.
- Fireplace Cleaning: Do you really need to have your fireplace cleaned annually? It depends on how much John is using it, since fireplaces should be cleaned once for each cord of wood that’s burned.
- Water Heaters: Should Colleen replace her old conventional water heaters with tankless models? Electric tankless water heaters aren’t very efficient, so we suggest either a heat pump or a great new water heater with outstanding features.
- Window Replacement: The seals in old dual-pane tinted windows are starting to fail. George should replace them with ENERGY STAR-rated windows that have the right glass and the right coating to reduce his air conditioning costs.
- Sagging Floor: A broken beam under the house is making the kitchen floor sag. Diana learns about installing a new beam next to the existing one to shore it up instead of trying to raise the house.
- Faded Wood Floors: After pulling up an area rug, Ty saw the sun damage that faded the wood floor around it. If he’s patient, time will fade the darker flooring to match and he won’t have to strip and refinish the whole floor.
- Cold Floors: How can you warm up the flooring above an unheated crawlspace? By adding insulation to the pipes and the floor joists, Christine will see an amazing difference.
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 the projects you want to get done around your house. Is there a project on your to-do list? You need help solving a problem? You’ve got a DIY dilemma, a decor dilemma, a challenge you don’t know which way to go? Well, we are here to take on those projects and so much more. But the first step is for you to reach out to us with your questions. So pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com by clicking the blue microphone button.
Coming up on today’s show, you know, the colder it gets, the more expensive it is to pick up some fresh herbs and veggies. But you can have fresh, healthy foods year-round by growing your own with a veggie container garden. That’s right, container gardens aren’t just limited to houseplants; you can grow veggies in them all winter long. We’re going to tell you the plants that grow best and more, just ahead.
LESLIE: And are outside noises disturbing your sleep or your work? Well, you can minimize those sounds, whether it’s traffic noise, the train, noisy neighbors or loud plumbing. We’re going to have some tips to help you get back your peace and quiet.
TOM: And as we head into the chilliest part of winter, we’ve got some ideas to give your fireplace a custom look with some easy-to-build surrounds to add some vintage charm.
LESLIE: But first, The Money Pit is about helping you. So whether you live in a house or an apartment, whether you’re dealing with a repair or dreaming about a renovation, we can help you tackle your to-dos with confidence and have a little fun along the way.
TOM: So let’s get started. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT; that’s 888-666-3974. Or post your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Heading out to Delaware where Jim has got a question about renovating a bathroom.
What’s going on, Jim?
JIM: Trying to find the best way to replace my shower. The floor is really dirty. I’ve got the white – I need to replace – I need to know what you recommend as far as material. I’m getting debates about acrylic versus fiberglass, et cetera. But you mentioned a thing – trying to figure out the best way and the cheapest way for me to do it.
LESLIE: Jim, I think it really depends on the level of involvement you’d like in this project and the amount of money you’d like to spend.
Because if you’re looking – I mean truly, right, Tom? When you get to a project like this in a bathroom, it can be inexpensive or it can be very expensive. I think if you’re looking for something simple and affordable and doable in a short amount of time, you’re looking at a liner or something like a Bath Fitter-type thing.
And it doesn’t have to be done by that company. There’s all different kinds of liners or inserts. There are fiberglass ones, there’s waterproof-material ones. There’s even Corian ones that kind of just surround your existing situation and cover it up and it’s like new. Or if you’re going for a complete gut reno, you’re going to be looking at systems to help keep things watertight.
It’s Schluter, right, Tom? They have a good product.
TOM: Yep. Schluter. It’s S-c-h-l-u-t-e-r. Schluter makes a shower kit that is called KERDI – K-E-R-D-I. The nice thing about these kits is what this is is this is an underlayment system so that when you – you would have to remove all of the old tile and all the floor and all of that but now you’re rebuilding from scratch.
The KERDI Kit is basically a system that’s designed to make this whole thing 100-percent waterproof. It takes a lot of the frustration out of doing a shower and having to maintain it, have it be waterproof. This is sort of like a membrane that goes behind the whole thing.
Take a look at the Schluter Systems’ website for the KERDI Shower Kits. You’ll see how all the pieces work together, whether it’s a straight, plain, square shower, whether it’s got curves, whether it has a seat. They’ve got parts for everything. You assemble the parts, you buy the parts that you want and the whole thing lies underneath the tile or whatever your top finish is. And it makes it 100-percent waterproof.
So those are kind of your options. You can do a liner. You can do a panelized system. That’s pretty easy. It’s not going to help you with the shower pan, by the way, because it doesn’t cover that but it’ll cover the walls and make it look a lot nicer.
LESLIE: Fresh and new.
TOM: Yeah. If you want to tear the whole thing out and start from scratch, I’d take a look at the Schluter-KERDI Shower Systems.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Michelle on the line who wants to do a special bathroom for the kids.
Tell us about the project.
MICHELLE: Well, we want to update it, throw up paint. I’ve already got new linen but because I have boys – young boys …
LESLIE: I have the same.
MICHELLE: I’m wondering what kind of flooring we should put in there, because of overspills from the tub.
LESLIE: Oh, you were very kind in mentioning that first.
TOM: Leslie, I don’t know if it’s possible to have a totally little boy-proof floor.
LESLIE: I don’t know. Something without grout lines that absorbs every scent of everything? I’m telling you, the boy-bathroom issue is a problem and it grosses me out every day – every darn day.
So, for bathroom floors, your first bet is obviously something that’s waterproof or at least water-resistant. So, tile, people tend to go to first but there’s also laminates or EVPs or water-resistant sort of fabricated floorings that can look like a variety of things.
Now, if you are going to go with a tile, please make sure it’s glazed and not unglazed, because that will just absorb everything and be an issue.
And you also want to try – I know with grout lines on the floor, they tend to go wider with the sanded grout because of the floor. But if there’s any way to avoid them being so wide or be sure to seal them immediately so that anything that spills on the floor, whether it comes from the tub or from the human children, does not get absorbed into the floor and cause an issue. It really depends on the look that you’re going for but the main thing we’re looking at here is durability and cleanability.
MICHELLE: Yes. Those are my issues because, right now, we’ve got linoleum tile in the bathroom and it’s – we just – it just needs to be replaced.
TOM: Michelle, I just recently got a chance to check out a new product from LL Flooring that’s called Duravana. And it’s a composite flooring. Now, I’d never seen a composite-flooring product before, so I was interested. Now, this stuff is only about 4 bucks a square foot. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m really impressed with its durability. First of all, it’s 100-percent waterproof.
But this is what I do to test flooring. I did some – a little bit of work in The Money Pit test lab. First of all, I took a hammer and I swung it full force five or six times and I couldn’t dent the stuff. So, that’s good, right? Next, I took a piece of sandpaper, 120 grit. I put it on the bottom of my vibrating sander and I tried to sand the finish. So if you can imagine years of dirt being ground into floors, I thought that was a pretty fair test. And it didn’t take off the finish. Didn’t even affect it at one iota. And finally, I took a utility knife, brand new – I did a little video on this and I showed me using it to cut sandpaper in one swipe. Then I must’ve swiped it across this floor about 20 times and the scratches didn’t show at all.
So I was really impressed with this stuff, especially at the price and the fact it’s 100-percent waterproof. It’s not out just at this moment but it’s coming out very soon, so you might want to take a look at that as an inexpensive flooring option for this bathroom.
MICHELLE: Great. Do we just get it at our local hardware stores?
TOM: No. It’s an LL Flooring product, so you can go to LLFlooring.com or to one of the LL Flooring stores. They’ve got about 400 or so odd stores across the country.
LESLIE: I wish you good luck. I’d like to say it gets easier. I have a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old and it’s still terrible.
MICHELLE: Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: John in Arkansas has got a question about fireplaces.
What’s going on?
JOHN: It’s getting pretty cold around here and we have a fireplace. And we’ve had it serviced before where they come in and do the work they do to prepare it. And I’m wondering, is that something I really need to pay for every single year? Or are some of these products you see in the stores where you can burn something and it kind of cleans a little bit the crystallite? So just wanted to know if this is something I need to do every year or just once every couple of years or what that might be.
LESLIE: You know, John, I think an annual cleaning is beneficial but it really depends on how much you use the fireplace. Because it’s recommended, if you burn a cord of wood, then you should have it cleaned. So if you’re burning a cord of wood multiple times throughout the fire you season, you’re going to need to clean the chimney more often than the once a year. So you really have to base it on usage.
But a lot of people talk about these self-cleaning logs. Tom, I don’t know much about them. They don’t really work, right?
TOM: Well, I guess they probably work to some extent. But the problem is that in certain fireplaces and especially those that are the metal fireplaces that are the zero-clearance, the manufactured fireplaces, those so-called cleaning logs or cleaning sticks are incredibly corrosive. So they can damage the chimney flue just by virtue of the fact that you’re using them.
So I don’t think it’s a smart idea. I would stick to regular fireplace maintenance which, as you said, is once per cord of wood. Now, a cord of wood is a lot of wood. A cord of wood is a pile of wood that’s 4 feet tall, 4 feet deep and 8 feet wide. That’s a lot of wood.
LESLIE: That’s a lot of wood.
TOM: And so – and that just gives you a sense as to how frequently you should be doing that.
So I don’t think you need to do it every year. I think you need to do it based on use. And I would stay away from any of these DIY self-cleaning sticks, because I think that they’re probably more trouble than they’re worth.
LESLIE: Heading out to Ocala, Florida. We’ve got Colleen on the line.
Colleen, what’s going on at your money pit?
COLLEEN: Hi. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. We are in a home that’s fairly large and has two of the regular, conventional water heaters: one on one side of the house and one on the other.
COLLEEN: And the other one is smaller. It’s actually in the ceiling, above the bedroom.
COLLEEN: So it’s a little unnerving. And the other one is in the garage, so that one’s not as bad. But we’ve done a little bit of repair work on that one in the garage. They’re both fairly old. The previous owners – we’ve only been in the house for about a year. Previous owners said that they’re over 20 years old, so it’s probably time to get into a new system before something really bad happens, so …
TOM: OK. Yeah, it sounds wise.
COLLEEN: But we’ve been looking at conventional systems still. And we were thinking about getting a tankless water system but we’ve had some – or a plumber – just one that we’ve gotten a quote from. And they recommended the conventional style over the tankless, saying that they’re not as energy-efficient for the tankless. Wanted to get your opinion on that.
TOM: Sure. Happy to help you with that.
So, first of all, what type of water heater do you have? What type of fuel are you using? Is it an electric water heater or is it gas?
COLLEEN: Yeah, it’s electric.
TOM: OK. So, yeah – so your plumber is correct. When it comes to tankless water heaters, there is no such thing as an electric tankless water heater that is efficient. There are what’s called “heat-pump water heaters,” which are very efficient. But they are a full-size water heater, like a tank – like a regular, any other type of tanked water heater – but they’re also more expensive.
Now, there’s another option that is just out now, that you might want to look at and especially since you have – one of these is going to be right over your bedroom. It is called the Rheem Gladiator Hot-Water Heater. And the Rheem Gladiator Water Heater is unique in a number of ways. First of all, it has a technology built into it that helps it run at peak efficiency. And also, it monitors the system and alerts you on your phone if anything’s going wrong. It can even tell you how much hot water you have left if you want to take a shower.
Now, the other thing that’s really cool is that it’s the first water heater I’ve ever seen that has a built-in leak-protection system. So it has a valve that feeds the water heater. And if there’s any leakage detected at the base of the water heater, this valve automatically shuts off. And when it shuts off, because there’s no incoming water there’s no incoming water pressure. You will get a very minute amount of water that will leak out of that water heater before it’s discovered and can be replaced.
Now, the other challenge you have is you had two locations of water heaters. You have to put back two water heaters; you can’t do this with one. But you mentioned one was near your bedroom. That’s probably the reason that you don’t have to wait so long for water to be hot in the morning. If you just had one water heater and a long run to get to your bedroom, by the time you step in that shower and turn the water on, you’re going to have to wait 15, 20 seconds for that water to turn hot. But the closer that bathroom is to the water heater, the quicker it does actually turn hot, so it’s a little more efficient.
So I think if I were you, I’d definitely agree you should replace them. It’s well – they’re well past their prime. I would take a look at the Rheem Gladiator unit. Just go to Rheem.com/Gladiator. They’ve got a great page there that kind of explains the benefit for that. And that’s R-h-e-e-m – R-h-e-e-m – Rheem.com/Gladiator and you can learn about that. And I think that’s probably giving you the best of all worlds. You’re going to get the same – very similar efficiency, though a heat-pump water heater will cost less. And it’ll certainly be more energy-efficient than what you could do with electric tankless water heaters.
And again, if it was gas I’d say go with a tankless water heater but that’s because it’s a lot less expensive to run.
COLLEEN: Do I need somebody to put that in for us – install it – or is that something we can do?
TOM: You do, yes.
COLLEEN: We do. OK.
TOM: Yeah. It depends. I mean if you’re – if you and your husband are advanced do-it-yourselfers, maybe you could do that. But for the most part, I think that that is good job for a professional. Because not only do you have to plumb it, you have to wire it properly and I wouldn’t want to see you make any errors on that.
TOM: So I would have a pro do that. But you may know more about the most advanced water heaters on the market now than the pro does. So, you can certainly specify what you want.
TOM: And I know those water heaters are sold at Home Depot, because I bought one there. And you guys should go there and take a look at them, as well.
COLLEEN: OK. That’s great. Oh, I’m so glad I called. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Colleen. Good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out, OK?
COLLEEN: Alright. Will do. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, if you miss having fresh veggies around during those cold winter months, container gardening really is a great solution for growing your own produce right now. If you grow houseplants, you’re actually already doing a form of container gardening. But with the right light, the soil, the pots, you can actually grow herbs and even some veggies all year long.
So, for best results, you’re going to need a location with good lighting. Sometimes you’re going to need as much as 6 hours of direct sunlight; it really depends on what veggies you want to grow. So pay attention to that because you do need the light for that to happen.
You’re also going to need room for containers that are much bigger than those of typical houseplants. They have to be about 18 inches in diameter and at least – at least – 18 inches deep. And you’ve got to come up with a plan for watering, as well. Because no water? They’re not going to grow.
TOM: Now, if you’re wondering what you can plant, there are many, many options for vegetables that will thrive in container gardens. Now, Burpee, the seed company, even has a section of their website which is very handy. It’s called Container-Friendly. It actually breaks out all the veggies that will grow well in that space, like tomatoes, Brussel sprouts and carrots and peppers. So check it out: the Container-Friendly section at Burpee.com.
LESLIE: We’ve got George on the line who’s dealing with a window issue.
What’s going on?
GEORGE: This house was built, that we’re living in – was built in 2002. We just bought it a year ago.
GEORGE: I’ve got one dual pane of glass that is brown – the outside is bronze-tinted glass and the inside is clear and it’s E1.
GEORGE: It’s ruptured, you know. Water inside of it and everything else.
TOM: Right. Yep.
GEORGE: And then the other one, same thing: bronze-tinted, E1, clear glass on the inside. And it doesn’t have water in it but you can tell that it’s ruptured because there’s dust along – inside and along the bottom.
GEORGE: Yeah, we live in Henderson, Nevada. In other words, Las Vegas, where it gets hotter than heck.
TOM: Yeah. You’re right. An area like Henderson, Nevada and the Las Vegas area, it gets really, really hot in the summer. So you need a really good-quality window that’s not going to let that solar gain in and drive up your air-conditioning expenses.
So, what you’re going to want to do is simply this: you’re going to want to replace that with an ENERGY STAR-rated window. Now, the reason I say ENERGY STAR is because it’s going to be thermal pane, it’s going to be insulated gas – it may have argon or another insulated gas inside – and it’s going to have a low-emissivity coating. And that’s really important because the low-emissivity coating is the coating that takes the UV rays of the sun and bounces them right back outside. It does not let them pass into your house. And working together, that’s going to keep your house comfortable at the same time.
So, you do want to replace the glass. You want to make sure it’s an ENERGY STAR-rated window that you put in there. And that’s going to solve this.
GEORGE: On the other window, all the windows in that side of the house we put a bronze tint – not a bronze tint, a 35-rated tint.
TOM: Well, I think you have tint on them because you were trying to achieve the same thing that the emissivity coating does for you. I don’t think you need the tint necessarily to cut back on the solar gain. If you have the right glass with the right coating, you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to chat with Diana in Arkansas who’s got a super-old house that’s acting a little strangely.
What’s going on?
DIANA: My husband says that there is a main beam underneath this house that is broken. And it is allowing it to settle in my kitchen. My refrigerator has taken a definite list and it’s not too far from that beam. How would we go about raising this house or whatever and replacing that beam?
TOM: OK. So if you have a broken beam, the way that that type of repair is generally done is – first of all, if the beam is just cracked and we want to kind of reinforce it so it doesn’t settle or move, what will often happen is a contractor will put a new beam next to it and bolt it to the old beam. That’s called a “sister beam.” And in that way, you’re not really replacing it as much as you’re just kind of beefing it up. And that’s a smarter way to do that because, frankly, there’s no win by just taking it out.
Now, if the house has settled, you may or may not want to do anything to try to raise those beams. Generally, we recommend you don’t raise the floor because everything’s connected to it – the walls and the pipes and the plumbing and the electrical wires – so you kind of leave it in place.
But reinforcing that beam in place is the best way to attack that. And that’s not a terribly complicated job but you can’t just have anybody do it. You need to have a contractor that really knows what they’re doing, because you’re going to want to get those beams on both sides. You’re going to want to make sure that if there’s any seams in there, that they have to be over a piling, for example, where there’s support. And then you have to have bolts that go all the way through, from the new beam into the old beam and back to the new beam on the other side and then sort of bolted together. And then that’s going to make a really strong repair and reinforcement.
Do you know why the beam cracked in the first place?
DIANA: No. I have no idea. The house was originally just a four-room house and then it has been built on and built on and built on.
DIANA: And so I have no idea. Supposedly …
TOM: Might have skipped a structural step there. Well, I think that by – reinforcing that beam is the right way to do it.
So, thanks so much for calling us. Good luck with that project. And if you have any more questions, let us know.
DIANA: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: So, are you still working from home a lot these days and you’re finding that the outside noises are making it hard for you to focus during the day? Or maybe those noises are giving you a hard time falling asleep at night. Well, whether it’s traffic noise, the train, noisy neighbors, loud plumbing, whatever it is, we’ve got some ideas to help you get back your peace and quiet.
Now, your solution is going to depend on whether you live in a house, a townhouse, an apartment, you rent, you own. And certainly, the options for a new home are definitely easier to plan as part of the construction process. But there are lots of options for existing homes and even you renters out there.
TOM: Yeah, so let’s talk about a few. So, if you’re doing a renovation or you’re building a new house, you should look into rockwool insulation. They have insulation – I think it’s called Safe’n’Sound – that is basically very sound-resistant. It’s very dense insulation. Rockwool is a mineral wool-type of insulation; it’s actually made from melted slag and then re-spun into a wool fiber. And it works very, very well.
For existing homes, you can also consider blown-in cellulose insulation. That can help, as can doubling the drywall. Now, if you’ve just to a room or two that you want to be particularly quiet, you can add another layer of drywall on top of the drywall that’s there, separated by a special type of adhesive called Green Glue. It’s basically a sound-deadening product that goes between the layers of drywall.
And if you don’t want to go through all that work, well, there is actually a sound-reducing drywall product. You can get that deadening in the drywall panels kind of built into it. They kind of have battens that are built in, that are used in commercial applications like recording studios.
And then there’s acoustic ceilings. A lot of those are designed to reduce sound. So to sort the best out, you want to look for two ratings. One is called the Noise Reduction Coefficient – the NRC rating – and the Ceiling Attenuation Class, CAC. NRC tells you how much sound a ceiling panel is going to absorb and CAC rates tell you how much sound will travel to adjacent rooms.
So, there’s a few ways that you can improve your space, right now, by making some easy home improvements.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, if you’re a renter or maybe just don’t want to take on a construction project, there’s actually a lot of less disruptive things that you can do to reduce the level of noise, both inside and out.
Now, the more stuff you have in a room, it’s actually better for sound absorption. But think about it: if you’ve got all leather furniture, that sound is just going to be like, “Ping, ping, ping.” So you have to think about softer fabrics, upholstered pieces that will help absorb that sound.
Now, drapes on your windows – or think about a heavy velvet curtain or some sort of heavier, more voluminous drape that’s made from really heavy fabric. That’s going to help absorb a lot of that sound. It’s also going to give that room a nice elegant and classical feel, so you’re kind of getting two benefits here from that drape.
A lot of different things. You have to just think about how that sound is going to go everywhere. And if you really do have your heart set on that man-cave leather couch, I get it. You like it. Put a throw blanket on it, maybe some pillows. That’ll help absorb that sound.
Alright. Now we’re heading to Tennessee where Ty is on the line.
What’s going on at your money pit?
TY: My wife and I had an area rug in our den. And it was a large area rug. We needed to replace it so we picked it up and there’s sun damage where it’s faded the hardwood floors. So there’s a line of demarcation. And I was wanting to know if there was an easy way to fix that without having to sand the hardwood floors.
TOM: Yeah, time. Time will fix it.
You know, I have hardwood floors in my very old house and I remember once having to do a pretty significant repair where an old floor furnace – remember those old floor furnaces that would sit flush with the floor?
TOM: So I had a big, square hole in the floor. And I had to take that out and put framing in and then replace the flooring. And I actually had to make some of this flooring, because it was an unusual shape. And despite my best efforts, of course, the new flooring was like – it was like the difference between white and brown. It was that distinct. It looked clearly like a patch.
TOM: And I had the same feeling about – well, maybe I can stain it. But I knew that if I just let it alone it would eventually fade. And I’ll tell you what, within a year, it had faded to match the other floor perfectly.
TOM: And I’m so glad that I did not try to mess with it and I just let ultraviolet light and time do its thing. The same way it protected that floor under that carpet, it will eventually fade and be the exact same color as the rest of the floor. So I wouldn’t do a thing.
Leslie, what do you think?
LESLIE: I mean it’s always really interesting when you have a beautiful floor and you want it to look fantastic. So, I think if you give it some time and learn to live with it, you’ll enjoy it.
TY: OK. Well, thank you because I wasn’t sure if you could put a glaze or something on the faded part to try to match the other part. We just didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of re-sanding that whole room and then the dust and all that stuff that goes along with it.
TOM: Sure. Yeah.
LESLIE: It is a big project.
TOM: It’s a very big project.
TOM: So, I really think you should just give it some time and let it fade back. And you give it some time, you’ll save all that money and time and aggravation.
TOM: Because the only way to skip this step is to basically refinish the whole floor.
TOM: And there’s really no reason for that.
LESLIE: Or just cover it up again with another rug.
TY: Right. OK. Yeah, that – we were thinking about covering it up with a smaller rug but that still leaves the line of demarcation.
TY: So, we may just go back with the 8×10 again.
LESLIE: Or a 9×12 until you eventually cover the whole floor.
TY: Well, that’s true, too. OK. So, we may – we’ve lived without the rug on there for 3 or 4 months now, so we may just go for another year.
LESLIE: Well, if you love that look of vintage charm, I mean think about it: period-style light fixtures, wood details in the molding, decorative fireplace screens. That type of stuff. It definitely adds value to your home but it’s hard to get. Well, not really. If you’re living in a fairly new home, you probably don’t have a lot of those special touches that you’re craving. But you can capture that vintage feel without giving up that modern convenience.
So think about it. If you want a fireplace or at least a beautiful mantle, you can add a salvaged antique fireplace mantle, even if you don’t have a real fireplace. You could just put it about in any room and then decorate the fireplace and it becomes a focal point for that space. And they also spruce up an existing fireplace that has no pizzazz.
And they are available at all kinds of spaces. If you’re looking at architectural salvage spots, online, in your city, you can find a lot of really beautiful ones.
TOM: Now, when older homes are renovated or torn down, it’s becoming more popular to save those architectural pieces and sell them to salvage dealers. So you can find gorgeous mantles, clawfoot bathtubs, stained-glass windows, even antique doorknobs. And if you don’t have a salvage dealer close to you, check for one online.
LESLIE: Now, you can even check for individual pieces that have been redone on sites, like Etsy or sometimes even Craigslist. And even though that mantle won’t actually be a working fireplace, it definitely gives that warmth that you’re seeking in the home. So think about adding a lot of details like that. Because that is what’s going to give you that feeling that you’re missing for your space.
TOM: We actually have a fireplace mantle in our home. We have an old house; it’s a family house. We don’t have it out right now but over the years, it’s made its appearances from time to time and then gone into storage from other – in other periods of time. But one thing I like about it, not only is it an old antique, it’s carved – in the front of it is carved: “Well be fall, hearth and hall,” which is just kind of a classic statement for an old fireplace hearth like that.
LESLIE: Where did you find it?
TOM: I don’t know. It was here – it’s been here my entire life. I don’t know where it came from but it’s always been a part of the house.
LESLIE: I love that.
TOM: Yeah. It may have come from the fact that my great-grandfather was a caretaker of homes along the Jersey Shore. And he would often take home pieces of antiques that maybe needed some minor repair to fix them up. Of course, there were some that he never fixed up. It used to be – and they were still in our attic when I think we took over the house. I’m talking about a beautiful – a clawfoot table, except it only had three legs. So, I don’t have the other one. But I never got around to carving one myself.
LESLIE: Christine in Alaska is on the line with a question about insulation.
What’s going on at your money pit, Christina?
CHRISTINE: Actually, my question is: how do I keep my floors above the unheated crawlspace warm? And I was wondering if we could insulate the floor underneath without – but would that cause the pipes that are down there to freeze?
TOM: No, it wouldn’t cause them to freeze. The crawlspace is designed to be an unheated space. But since you’re going to be down there anyway, what I would tell you to do, Christine, would be to insulate those pipes. So, you can do that with pipe insulation that basically is designed to be wrapped around the pipe. And when it comes to the corners, that’s where sometimes people get a little lazy. Make sure you insulate the corners real well by cutting the joints perfectly. They’re made of foam rubber, so you can easily snip them. But I would insulate all the pipes and then I would definitely insulate the floor.
In fact, I’m surprised it’s not insulated now. You want to choose an insulation that is as thick as the floor is deep. So if it’s 2x10s that are your floor beams, make sure you use 10-inch-deep, unfaced fiberglass insulation. Get it up there in between those floor joists and then that can be supported with wire hangers. They’re kind of like thin wires that are a little bit wider than the floor joists are apart. And they sort of stick into the wood on both sides and support that insulation in place. And I think you will see an amazing difference in the warmth of those floors once you do that.
CHRISTINE: That sounds great.
LESLIE: Nicole has reached out to Team Money Pit and she says, “I’m thinking about projects for 2023.” Alright, I love that she’s thinking ahead, planning. And she’s – “Wondering if I’m going to need a new roof. It’s 20 years old now. How do I know when it’s got to go?”
TOM: That’s a great question, Nicole, because it can be a little bit confusing. Because very often, if you have a leak in a roof and you hire a roofer to fix that leak, that roofer is going to take his best shot at trying to sell you a new roof.
But most of the time, roof leaks are reparable and typically, they happen because the roof has a minor fault like, for example, the flashing has gone out of position around a chimney or it has cracked where it intersects the next roof or something like that. Or where a plumbing pipe comes through the roof, the sealant now has worn away, the gasket has worn away. And all of those things are fixable.
But when you get to the situation where the roof shingles themselves are brittle, they have cracks going through them, they have lost a lot of granules and they’re of advanced age – like 20-plus – that’s when I might start thinking about actually replacing the roof. And if I am going to replace the roof, I am most likely going to take off that layer underneath. Because I know that if I leave it there, the next layer is not going to last as long as the first one because it will just hold that much more heat because of the mass.
Now, if I’m only going to be in the house a short period of time, maybe I’m not going to get a payback on that, so I may put a second layer on. But for the most part, if you really want to do the best job, you should always take off the old roof before you put on the new ones.
LESLIE: Alright. Marian wrote in and says, “I have a painted kitchen and bath and they both have painted cabinets with traditional paints. But now I’m hearing about chalk paint and their benefits. I’d like to hear a comparison of traditional to chalk paints, especially as to their prep, adherence and longevity in high-use areas.”
Is she talking about chalk paint, like chalkboard paint? Or chalk as a base of paint?
TOM: I don’t know. I’m thinking about like chalkboard paint but I don’t much about chalk as a base paint. But I do know this about painting kitchen cabinets: it’s not a place to experiment. You really want the best-quality, most durable paints you can find. For my money, I’m always going to go with a good quality, semi-gloss, oil-based paint. It’s really going to stand up to the wear and tear that that kitchen cabinet really will experience every single day.
LESLIE: And I mean I had somebody professionally paint my cabinets. And yes, it was costly. But having had painted so many cabinets in a quick fashion on the home makeover shows I worked on, I do know that they need lots of time to dry. Everything has got to come off. It’s got to be flat. And our painter used some sort of baked-on coating, which feels great, is glossy, it seems super durable. And I knew I couldn’t achieve that on my own, so I’m glad I went that route.
But Marian, if you take this on yourself, I feel a lot of confidence that you can tackle this, you can tackle it well. When you take off the doors and drawers, label everything so you know what goes back where so it doesn’t get confused. Because all of those holes definitely match up to one door and not another. But lots of things. And you can really make it gorgeous. And you can mix and match colors, different color for uppers and lowers and the island can be a color. People are still mixing stuff up and going for rich colors and I definitely love that look.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We hope that everyone is having a really enjoyable holiday season, that you are optimistic and looking forward to the days ahead. We are looking forward to helping you with home improvement projects in the days ahead. You can reach us anytime, 24/7, by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Happy Holidays, everyone. 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.)