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Avoiding Mold, Maintaining Exterior Wood Surfaces, Proper Painting Tools and More

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here for you. We are here to help you improve your homes to make them more comfortable, more energy-efficient; to answer the questions that you have so that you can build, you can create, you can remodel, you can order up the home that you want: the one that you want, that you desire, that you love, that you know you can have but for just a few simple home improvement tips. But we’re going to solve that right now by opening up our phone lines. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. So pick up the phone and call us right now and we will get to work for you.

    Hey, coming up this hour, it might be hot, it might be dry but that does not mean you can avoid mold. You know, new studies have found that some of the most susceptible states actually have very arid climates. We’re talking about states like Nevada and Arizona, by the way. So we’re going to tell you why, later this hour, that mold is a problem even in those dry climates and what you need to do about it no matter where you live, to keep you and your family safe.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead this hour, summer sun, it’s especially hard on your outdoor woodwork, like your trim, your railings and even your shutters. So we’re going to have tips on how you can give those areas of your home a little TLC, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And painting is one of the most popular but certainly the least understood home improvement projects that we’re asked about here on The Money Pit. But both the project and the paint go on much smoother with the right painting tools. So we’re going to tell you about a brand new one: it’s a roller that can make your next painting project so much easier.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a very special giveaway this hour. Every caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to get a Citrus Magic prize pack worth 25 bucks.

    TOM: Citrus Magic cleaners and fresheners are made with 100-percent natural ingredients, including the peels from citrus fruits. And they have given us a boatload of these gift packs to give away. So if you would like one, simply pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Louella in Oregon needs some help with attic insulation. Tell us what you’re thinking about using.

    LOUELLA: Oh, I don’t know. That’s the reason I’m calling you; I don’t know what to use.

    LESLIE: Alright, how can we help?

    TOM: Alright, how can we help you and what are you considering?

    LOUELLA: Well, my east roof is made of – if it were made of glass, this time of year, with all those fall-colored leaves, one could see a giant Scotch Tartan muffler from – of russet green and gold – stretched from Canada to Mexico for as far as eyes can behold.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    LOUELLA: But how do I divorce the intense heat of summer and the cold of winter? Everything up there now is the back side of the roof. You can’t see that beautiful view and I want to know how to make it into glass.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, is this roof over an attic? So do you have space for insulation?

    LOUELLA: It’s in an attic.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.

    LOUELLA: But that would block out my view, wouldn’t it?

    TOM: Well, what are you seeing now? You’re talking about installing some skylights? Is that what you’d like to do?

    LOUELLA: Well, I just want to be able to see that view and all I can see now is the back side of a bunch of boards.

    TOM: Alright, well – alright, so here’s what you need to do. You need to install skylights and you have lots of options with skylights. We would recommend that you use a curbed skylight and that means that it sits up off the roof by about four inches. It’s easier to make it watertight.

    And once you put that in, then you have to build what’s called a well – which is sort of a light shaft that goes from the skylight through to the ceiling – and then that’s all covered with drywall. So when you’re done, you can look up and you can look out. And depending on the angle of your roof, sometimes if you have a very steep roof, you put in something called a roof window where you can actually even open it up. So that’s an option.

    While you’re working up in there, though, I would make sure that you add some insulation because that’s what’s going to keep the rest of that hot, radiant heat coming through the roof from getting down into your house and warming it up in the summer. And the skylight that you put in, it should be – have low-e glass: high-performance glass that actually reflects the heat of the sun back out. If you do that, you can have your view, you can watch your birds and you can stay cool in the summer.

    Louella, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dan in Illinois needs some help with hardwood flooring. What can we do for you?

    DAN: I live in a bi-level house.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: We have carpeting on the stairs and we want to get rid of it and I’d like to put a hard wood. And I’d like to know what material I should use, whether I should use regular hardwood flooring that they put in bedrooms and hallways or …

    TOM: To replace the stair treads?

    DAN: Just to – not to replace them but to replace the carpeting.

    TOM: Hmm. It’s difficult to add hardwoods to a staircase. There is a type of sort of end cap, if it’s a half-open stair, where you could have sort of – you cut off the old nosing at the edge of the stair and you put in an end cap, so it looks like it’s a hardwood floor there. But you have to have carpet for the rest of it. You’ll still need sort of a carpet runner in the middle.

    But it’s not easy – yeah, it’s not easy to put hardwood on top of stairs just because of the way the tread is shaped. Is it a pine staircase?

    DAN: Yes.

    TOM: OK. And have you thought just about finishing the pine? Because I mean I did that in my house; it looked pretty good.

    DAN: Yeah, this is not very good-looking wood.

    TOM: Well, you can stain it and you can fill in the gaps and things like that; try to get the color even. You could paint the railing, you could paint the balusters for some two-tone look and put a nice, rich runner down the middle of it. There’s not much wood left when you do that.

    And I took a 100-year-old staircase that had about 14 coats of paint on it. Got down to the real wood, stained it back to the natural finish, painted the balusters and stained the railing and it looked great.

    DAN: Well, I’m really trying to get away from the carpeting.

    LESLIE: You could paint a runner instead of carpeting.

    DAN: Oh, that’s a thought.

    LESLIE: And that actually can look really pretty and allow you to be super-duper-duper creative. I’ve seen, many times in design magazines, a great carpet application but then I’ve seen it painted sort of as a knockoff where there’s sort of a variegated-size stripe that runs the length of the stairs, as if it were going down the staircase in a fun mix of colors, sort of like a goldy-yellow or red, a robin’s egg blue, some black, some green, some orange, at assorted sizes sort of – there’s a designer, Small Pit – Paul Smith, rather – who does that sort of striping on all of his packaging and it’s almost a knockoff of that.

    And you can paint that right down the step itself and it looks really fun and kind of beach-y and fresh.

    DAN: Well, that’s a – that really sounds like it would take some creativity, alright.

    LESLIE: Well and it could be a good day’s project.

    DAN: I’m sure. OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, do you think your hot, dry climate means mold is the last thing you need to worry about? Well, think again. Mold, it turns out, is actually more of a problem in desert states like Arizona. We’re going to tell you why and what you need to do about it no matter where you live, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Founded in 1841 by a family of painters, Flood is the wood-care specialist, so you don’t have to be. Flood offers a full line of exterior wood stains and cleaners to protect, preserve and beautify your investment. Visit Flood.com for more information.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And every caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win $25 worth of Citrus Magic products, which is the perfect mix of natural products for cleaning and eliminating odors around the house. You’re going to get the odor-absorbing solid air freshener, the odor-eliminating spray air freshener and the grease-cutter all-purpose cleaner. It’s going to go out to every caller that comes on the air with us and asks a home improvement question, so don’t be shy. Pick up the phone and dial us up at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone; we’d love to hear what you’re working on. And we love to talk about home improvement and Tom and I are always reading what’s going on and who’s studying what and what’s happening in different parts of the country.

    Well, several studies have actually confirmed it: wet and damp climates, they are not the only ones who are susceptible to mold. Get this: states with dry climates, like Nevada and Arizona, have made it onto the top 10 list for mold risk. On the other hand, even some Gulf states, they didn’t even come close and that’s after the hurricanes have hit the area.

    Now, drier climates, they’re often at risk for mold because they are constantly hot. Think Phoenix, Arizona. And your house, it is continuously sealed off from the heat, your A/C is continually running non-stop. Add in cooking, bathing, all of that? Prime conditions for mold, moisture, you name it.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, why is this important? Well, for one reason, insurance companies are actually becoming wise to the whole mold issue. And mold damage is now typically excluded or severely limited on standard property insurance. There are, however, several things that you can do to control mold in your house.

    First off, control the humidity. We’re talking about things as simple as improving your gutters and your grading around the house foundation to keep the water from collecting there and making your basement damp and humid and that moisture working its way up through the entire house. Think about installing a whole-home dehumidifier into your HVAC system.

    You want to avoid mold food. What’s mold food? Anything that’s organic, including carpet, like in a basement? Really bad idea because the mold will just fester right there. You want to keep those mold-prone areas clean.

    You know, several years ago, we were doing a story on a family that was sick from mold and I discovered mold in the oddest places like, for example, window air-conditioning unit. On the exhaust side of that, where – sending the cold air into the room right over the baby’s crib? Guess what I found inside that exhaust?

    LESLIE: A ton of mold?

    TOM: Mold spores. A ton of mold spores, that’s right. So it’s …

    LESLIE: Was it on the dust that sort of gathers in there?

    TOM: No, it was actually trapped – it was trapped to the plastic; it was growing right there.

    LESLIE: Oh, that sounds terrible.

    TOM: It was Cladosporium and every time the air conditioning came on, it was spewing those spores out right into the area where the baby was sleeping and breathing, so …

    LESLIE: And that’s a high cause of asthma.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So you’ve really got to be very, very careful to pay attention to things like that. And finally, if you get any leaks in the house, you want to fix them very quickly. If you fix the leaks fast, you’re never going to give them a chance to grow that mold.

    If you want more tips on how to control mold in your home, just visit us at MoneyPit.com. Got lots and lots of great stories and tips and article features on the website to teach you how to do just that.

    LESLIE: Lena in Missouri is on the line with an old home with uneven floors. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    LENA: Hi. My money pit, it’s a 120-year-old Victorian home, one story.

    TOM: OK.

    LENA: And the floors are terribly slanted.

    TOM: Right.

    LENA: And I would dearly love to know how to fix that problem.

    TOM: Well, Lena, by the time you get to be 120 years old, you’re going to be slanted and uneven, as well, OK?

    LENA: I imagine I will.

    TOM: I wouldn’t worry too much about it. That’s sort of natural for an older house for lots of reasons. And you can’t really straighten it out, so to speak, because if you do, you’ll end up causing more damage than it’s worth. It takes a lot of years for it to get into that condition. If you try to, say, level a floor that’s sloped, you may stretch a wire or break a pipe or something like that. So I would not try to fix that; I would work around it.

    Now, if you had one room, like a kitchen or something, and you really wanted it to be a lot less sloped than it was, then I would float that with a leveling compound – a floor-leveling compound – and bring it up that way. But I would not get involved with jacking up things or anything of that nature, OK?

    LENA: OK, OK.

    TOM: Consider it charm, Lena. Consider it charm.

    LENA: Thank you. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: It’s so funny. In our house, whenever our son rolls something underneath our bedroom – like if he’s playing with a ball and it rolls under the bed – I’m like, “Just give it a second and it’ll come right back to you.”

    Dave in Alabama, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DAVE: I have a crawlspace that’s humid and I was thinking of putting down some gravel and plastic sheeting and I was wondering whether the plastic sheeting should go on top of the gravel or below the gravel or forego the plastic sheeting altogether.

    TOM: What’s the purpose of the gravel?

    DAVE: The purpose of the gravel was either to protect the sheeting or I was thinking to keep it drier underneath the plastic.

    TOM: Well, what kind of a surface do you have on the crawlspace floor right now, David?

    DAVE: I just have dirt.

    TOM: Just dirt? And all you need to do is to put the plastic sheeting on top of the dirt. The gravel is not really necessary. What you’re doing is just you’re basically stopping the evaporation of moisture off the soil up into the rest of the house. So what you want to do is you want to use very good-quality, thick plastic sheeting; you want as few seams as possible. And just lay it out there across the soil and you’ll see an immediate difference.

    DAVE: OK. They do talk about gravel, though. Do you just find it doesn’t help at all?

    TOM: It doesn’t really help at all. It doesn’t serve any purpose. You want to stop water from evaporating off the soil and getting into the air and making the crawlspace damp and moist. So, to do that, all you need to do is to cover that surface with plastic sheets.

    LESLIE: And keep the moisture below it.

    TOM: There’s no value to stone in this equation. No value whatsoever, OK? This is an easier project than what you were thinking.

    DAVE: Yeah, it is.

    TOM: And a lot easier on your back, too.

    DAVE: Yeah.

    TOM: Think about all of the money you’re going to save in chiropractic visits. Alright, David? Good luck with that project. Go get to it, alright?

    DAVE: Alright.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Thanks so much for calling us.

    LESLIE: Carolyn in Texas is having some issues with a sink. Tell us what’s going on with it.

    CAROLYN: Well, it’s an old – it’s probably 40 years old, man-made marble and the sink is separate from the countertops and there’s two large countertops in there. And I had a man look at it but he said he would just leave it. But it’s stained and it’s real porous and I’m – I was just wondering if there’s something that you knew of that we could seal it off with. I even thought about using car wax and see if that would help any. But I just didn’t know if there was something that …

    LESLIE: And you say that it’s marble?

    CAROLYN: Uh-huh. It’s the man-made marble: you know, the poured countertops like they use now all the time but this is – usually that’s poured all in one piece and this is in two pieces. The sink is separate and they don’t do that anymore; at least they don’t here.

    TOM: Right.

    CAROLYN: And so I – and he said, “I would just seal it off,” but I don’t know anything to seal it with and he didn’t either.

    LESLIE: Have you tried – well, if you seal it, you’re just going to be sealing in those stains. I mean are you able to get it to a point where it’s clean enough that you could seal it?

    CAROLYN: I’ve gotten it pretty good but not – and if I thought there was something I could seal it with, I would try even a little bit – I used a liquid cleaner, Mean Green, and then I used bleach and that kind of thing. And I’ve got it pretty good and I dry it out every time I use it but that’s just a temporary thing. So I thought it needs to have a sealer over it at some point.

    TOM: How about a stone sealer?

    LESLIE: Yeah, if you go to a website, StoneCare.com, and …

    CAROLYN: StoneCare.com?

    LESLIE: StoneCare.com. And treat the surface as if it were actual marble, because you’re dealing with something as porous as traditional marble. And they’ll have a sealer on their website that you can easily apply to that sink. But you have to make sure that you’re super-happy with the cleanliness of it because once that sealer is on, those stains are in.

    CAROLYN: OK, yeah. Well, yeah, I knew that, so – OK, well, I’ll do that then.

    LESLIE: And remember, the lighter the color of the marble, the more often that it needs to be sealed.

    CAROLYN: More often it needs to be sealed?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So if it’s a light color, you’re looking at every two years whereas if it were a darker color, it’s probably every five.

    CAROLYN: OK. OK, OK. Alright. Well, that helps me. I’ll try that.

    TOM: Good luck with that project, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: John in West Virginia is doing some work in the bath. What can we help you with?

    JOHN: Well, got a slight problem and don’t know how to resolve it. There’s a yellow stain right in front of the shower stall. It’s a single shower stall, (inaudible at 0:18:56).

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: And it’s on the outside of the step into the pan?

    JOHN: Yes. And right beside of it, there’s a commode and the – beside of that is your sink and your mirror and …

    LESLIE: Hey, John, you know what you should try, there’s actually a great product for cleaning the bath. It works great on shower heads, it works great on soapy buildups in the tub, so it could work on this mystery stain. Try CLR; it’s Calcium Lime Rust. And you can pretty much get it at any home center, I think.

    JOHN: OK. Well, I appreciate it. We’ll try it and see what happens.

    TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead this hour, we’re going to help you take some of the hard work out of your painting projects by giving you the right tools. We’ll tell you which ones are best, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And painting is one of the most popular projects we get asked about here on The Money Pit. And it all comes down to having the right tools and taking the right steps. Painting seems like it should be an easy project but if you make some critical mistakes in the selection of materials and the selection of tools, you quickly find out that all that work that you put into the project may have to be repeated.

    However, right now, we’re going to get some tips on the best tools and prep material to use to get your project done, make sure it comes out right every single time.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got Mark Ksiezyk, who is the brand manager for Purdy, joining us.

    Mark, welcome to The Money Pit.

    MARK: Thank you. How are you both doing today?

    TOM: We’re doing well. And Mark, you guys make a full line of preparation tools and do you agree that people seem to always love to skip that prep step?

    MARK: They sure do and I’ll tell you, that’s a big mistake. Because the amount of prep or the right amount of prep really will dictate the type of job that you have and the type of finish that you’re going to have.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the duration that it’s going to last, as well.

    MARK: Absolutely. You don’t want to be redoing it every year because you didn’t prep the surface properly.

    TOM: Well, exactly. If you don’t have the surface prepared properly, the paint just doesn’t stick and it doesn’t last nearly as long. And we all know that the work in painting is the application of the materials. If you don’t get that right, it’s just not going to last. The cost of the materials is fairly minor compared to the hard work it takes to get it on the wall.

    LESLIE: It is hard work.

    MARK: Yeah. You know, people know it’s a must-do but they often try to skip through it or not do it appropriately.

    TOM: Alright. Let’s start at the beginning: brush selection, something that folks get pretty confused about. You have natural-bristle brushes, you have China-bristle brushes, some better for latex, some better for oil-based. What’s the best all-around brush for a consumer to choose today?

    MARK: Well, it really depends, like you said, on the type of coating that they’re using. But there are filament brushes today that are good for both latex and oil-base. Purdy makes one; it’s our XL series.

    TOM: OK.

    MARK: And it’s our most versatile brush, which means that it could be used on oil-base and latex paints and stains, both.

    TOM: What’s your take on those foam brushes that are out? They’re tempting because if you have a very small painting project, it’s a very easy, disposable, throwaway product to pick up. Can you get a decent paint job out of one of those?

    MARK: It depends what you’re using them for. They tend to start to wear away very quickly. On a very small surface, they probably could give you a pretty decent finish, though.

    LESLIE: What about storing brushes? I really do take excellent care because I do buy a high-quality brush and want to hold onto it. Do you just – I mean I usually use a little dish soap if I’m using a latex brush and really just clean up all the old paint, make sure I splash out all the water and then store it upright. But am I storing it the right way? What’s the proper way to clean it and maintain those brushes?

    MARK: Yeah, that’s a great question and again, I think that’s where a lot of people may miss the importance of doing so.

    A brush can last you a long time and Purdy is made with the highest-quality materials. And the proper way to clean the brush, though, is like you said. If it’s latex-base paint, you want to make sure that you’re getting all of the excess paint out of the brush. You want to wash it with warm water and you can use a detergent, like you mentioned. You want to make sure you wring it out and then you also want to put it back in the brush keeper. Our brush keepers are actually designed to be part of the tool, so it helps to hold it and keep that shape of the brush.

    TOM: Now, the brush keeper, of course, is the box that the brush comes in.

    MARK: Yeah. And then if you’re using oil-base paints, obviously you want to use a mineral spirits or a paint thinner to get all the paint out.

    And another neat trick that a lot of people aren’t aware of is using a brush comb. And it actually looks a comb. You don’t want to use it, though, on your hair but you can actually help to remove the dried paint that’s in the brush filament or bristles.

    TOM: Now, that’s neat, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brush comb. And I was going to ask you, is it OK to sort of pull apart the bristles as you’re trying to get the water down deep into the knurled part of the brush handle?

    MARK: Yeah. It’s better to use the comb and it does look like a comb. And instead of – it actually has metal tines and they’re pretty sharp, so you have to be careful. But it actually will get right through the filament or bristle and just help to really get that paint out of there. So you can get them at any paint or home improvement store.

    TOM: That sounds like a very, very handy tool.

    We’re talking to Mark Ksiezyk. He’s a brand manager with Purdy and an expert in preparation tools.

    And Mark, you’ve got a tool out called the 6-in-1 Painter’s Tool I want to ask you about. Very inexpensive tool; I think it’s what, 5.99 or 6.99? But it seems to do an awful lot.

    MARK: Yeah, it absolutely does. It can really help you with your job, whether it’s scraping a surface or removing caulk from corners. And it actually has a rounded end to it where you can use it to scrape off the excess paint off of roller covers. So it really is a useful tool throughout the whole job.

    LESLIE: Mark, is that the sixth tool? Because I’ve always heard of these things being called 5-in-1 tools. And when I see “6-in-1,” I’m thinking, “Wow, what’s the extra one?”

    MARK: Yeah, in our case, there’s also a hammerhead end. So if you’re working with nail holes or popping up paint off the surface, you can actually use that, as well, too. So there’s another use for you.

    TOM: Mark Ksiezyk from Purdy, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. For more tips, Mark, where can we go?

    MARK: You can go to PurdyCorp.com.

    TOM: That’s PurdyCorp.com – P-u-r-d-y-C-o-r-p.com. Mark, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    MARK: Thank you both. Have a good day.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, wood trim, railings and shutters, they’re easy to overlook but taking good care of them before they’re weathered beyond repair is super-important. We’ll tell you the steps to take to keep them in tip-top shape, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we would love if you would pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because not only will you get the answer to your home improvement question, every caller that we speak to this hour on the show, courtesy of our friends at Citrus Magic, is going to win $25 worth of those products. It’s a gift pack from Citrus Magic, which includes the perfect mix of natural products for cleaning and eliminating the odors around your house.

    You will get the odor-absorbing solid air freshener, the odor-eliminating spray air freshener and the grease-cutter all-purpose cleaner. To qualify, you must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with all of your home improvement projects.

    Now, say you’re working on your home, you’re looking at the outside. Now, natural-wood railings, your trimmings and your shutters, they can give your home a great, seaside-cottage feeling but the experts at Flood remind us that they do need some maintenance from time to time to keep them from weathering too much.

    Now, Flood has several products that can actually help you with that, like a wood cleaner that cleans and brightens exterior wood surfaces that have become gray and dirty from exposure to all that sun, dirt, rain, everything that Mother Nature can dish up. And unlike bleach-based deck cleaners, this wood cleaner removes surface and the ground-in dirt without actually damaging the sensitive wood fibers or your wood’s natural color.

    Now, once you clean the wood, you’re going to have a great starting point for your stain or your paint, whatever you plan on putting on there. Or you can use a clear finish that’s going to help you retain the natural look of the wood but protect it at the same time. Why don’t you head on over to their website? It’s Flood.com. They’re going to give you step-by-step instructions, product information, everything you need to know to create a beautiful-looking exterior of your home.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. If you do, you’ll get the answer and a gift pack of Citrus Magic products that will help your house smell very, very fresh. So you could make a mess or make a big stink and clean it up and have it smelling nicely, with both our answer to your question and the Citrus Magic gift pack that’s going out to every caller that reaches out to us this hour on The Money Pit. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Karen in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What project can we help you with?

    KAREN: Well, I – back in the mid-90s, they made a wallboard paneling that was decorative. It kind of had a vinyl finish with – sometimes it was embossed.

    TOM: OK.

    KAREN: And my question is – you know, I’m tired of it now. And can I paint over that or would it be better to put sheetrock over it?

    TOM: Well, I mean you can paint it. You need to prime it. If you’re going to paint it, you have to prime it. And so I would use a very good-quality primer first – an oil-based primer – so that you get good adhesion of the top surface of the paint. The finish, on the other hand, is not going to be the same as if it was a wall but it might be acceptable. So it could be an easy, inexpensive way to get a new look for that particular room.

    KAREN: And also, the joints don’t butt up very close and so there’s a gap. And what they did was they would put a taping, basically, over that – a decorative taping – but that pulls away. So how would I cover that up? Would I use a putty or a caulk of some sort?

    TOM: Well, nah. I’ve got to tell you, if the walls are in that kind of condition, you may just be better off covering the whole thing with drywall. You don’t need to use ½-inch drywall; you could use 3/8.

    KAREN: Well, I was thinking about ¼-inch. Would that – because there’s solid wood wall behind that. It’s an old, old house.

    TOM: Right. You could do that, too. The reason I say 3/8 – because it becomes a little – it’s a little hard to handle those ¼-inch sheets. They’re awfully floppy.

    KAREN: OK. Uh-huh. OK.

    TOM: But you certainly could put that up and then tape and spackle the joints and then you’ll have a really clean, obviously new surface.

    KAREN: OK, OK. Alright. Alright, well thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tim in Illinois needs some help with a foundation issue. What’s happening?

    TIM: Well, we had 10 or 12 inches of rain not too long ago and I had an old brick foundation that caved in. And I want to go back in and replace it with cement block and I was wondering if you guys have ever heard of surface-bonded concrete, where you dry-stack the blocks. Then you put on this fiber-reinforced mortar mix on the sides.

    TOM: Yeah, I have heard of that but why do that for a repair like this? Why not just do something very traditional, very standard and very solid? I mean that’s the kind of thing that you typically don’t see as a repair. That’s just a foundation system that usually when you’re doing the entire foundation from scratch, you could do that. I’d much prefer to see you just kind of rebuild what you had.

    TIM: Well, it was brick before, not cement block. And we’re having to take out the entire wall.

    TOM: OK.

    TIM: So it’d be the entire wall that’s taken out.

    TOM: So why not just put cement block back and put it up in a typical fashion where you mortar each block in place?

    TIM: Well, one of the things I read about on the literature at the website was that it’s also very good for waterproofing. And one part of the foundation they had done with block and mortar, it leaked.

    TOM: That may be one of the touted benefits of the product but that’s not the solution to a water problem in a basement. If you have a water problem in the basement – by the way, did that water problem lead to the collapse of this wall?

    TIM: It’s a separate wall. I think gutters being full, actually, I think is what the problem was.

    TOM: Yeah, well, see, managing the water is really the issue. You want to make sure that your gutters stay clean and that your downspouts are extended well away from the house, like 4 to 6 feet. And you want to make sure that the soil slopes away. Those three things will protect the foundation from leakage, so you don’t need to install a system of special types of block to keep the water out.

    Because guess what? That block wall could be waterproof and the water will still find a way around it or under it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’ll just go to the spot right next to it.

    TIM: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, are you looking for flooring options for your basement? Well, there are lots to choose from. We’ll give you those options, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And, Tom, you know that myself and my son were totally addicted to our iPods.

    TOM: Yes. Yes.

    LESLIE: So it’s so funny because I’ve downloaded our podcast. I’ve got the iPhone app, so I always get all this information coming in, which is great, you guys. It’s totally free and available at MoneyPit.com.

    But if I’ve got it on shuffle, it’s the funniest thing. I’ll be listening to music on a train or something and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Hey, I’m Tom Kraeutler,” and I’ll be like, “Ah! What are we doing in my ears?”

    But it’s so great. If you’re working outside or if you’ve got a project or you’re on your mobile device a lot, download The Money Pit iPhone app. It’s free, it’s super-user friendly. You can listen to the shows there, you can search topics. It’s a really great and useful tool for any do-it-yourselfer, so download yours today at MoneyPit.com.

    And while you’re there, if you want to ask us a question, why not post it in the Community section? And I’ve got one here from Andrew in New York who wrote: “I want to install a wood laminate or something similar in my finished basement. The room is below-grade but so far, we’ve had no moisture. We do find that the floor gets very cold, particularly to bare feet. The current floor has a double pad and a Berber carpet. What can I use for a subfloor that I can insulate under the floor somehow?”

    TOM: Hmm. Well, laminate flooring does go over a quasi-insulating type of an underlayment. It’s usually a thin foam pad. And you will find that it’s going to be a lot warmer than any type of concrete surface that you had in the past.

    And if you want to go hardwood, you can do that, certainly, as well. You can’t do solid but you can do engineered hardwood and that – because it’s made up of different layers of hardwood that are glued together criss-cross, it’s dimensionally stable. So I think that you will find that either of those types of floors will be dramatically warmer than what you had in the past and I don’t think you really need to go any further.

    LESLIE: Hmm. Alright. Well, good luck.

    TOM: The other thing is that – make sure that you also add some supplemental heat to the basement because, typically, basements are not heated. But there’s always a couple of months in the winter when you really do need that extra heat and that could make a huge difference, too.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And an area rug will definitely keep your tootsies nice and toasty in the areas that you do use.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Alright. I’ve got one here from Jim who posted: “There are several loose tiles on the floor of our church foyer. We don’t have any spare. I don’t think I can get them to match. Is there a way to secure the loose ones without taking them up or can I take them up and reset them successfully?”

    That’s a toughie.

    TOM: Well, it is. If they’re loose, then there’s no big deal about taking them up. I would – if they were loose, I would pop them up and then I would use new tile adhesive to seal them down. If they’re not totally, totally coming apart, one thing that you might want to try to do is you could use an adhesive caulk, if you could squirt some in under a loose edge or something like that. Because adhesive caulk is really pretty sticky, in terms of the adhesive power, but it’s water cleanup. So if you spill it on top, no big deal.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, Jim, and good – really nice of you helping out at the local church and giving a hand. I hope that works out for you.

    TOM: And Jim, if it doesn’t always work, you could just pray for divine intervention and that’ll sure solve it.

    Well, is your A/C running 24-7 these days but the house just doesn’t seem to be getting cool? Leslie has a quick way to check that everything is working correctly, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Does your air conditioning seem to be on the blink? Are you wondering whether your A/C is performing up to snuff? Well, if you are, there is a quick way to test it without picking up the phone and calling in a pro.

    Well, here’s what you need to do. You want to take a thermometer and measure the air temperature at the supply and the air temperature at the return duct that’s nearest to the blower. Now, the temperature difference between the two should be around 12 to 20 degrees. If it’s not, your system is not running efficiently and probably needs some refrigerant and that can easily be added by calling in your local HVAC pro.

    So fear not. It doesn’t always have to be as difficult as you think and you’ll be cooling off in no time.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on the program, are you just a killer gardener? And I don’t mean that in the cool way. If everything in your yard tends to die, it might be due to the microclimate that surrounds those plants. We’re going to have tips on how you might go green again, though, on the 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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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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