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Budget Your Home Improvements, Deck vs. Patio, Backup Power in Case of Power Outage and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Time to pick up the tools and get to work. We know there’s a home improvement project on your to-do list. Let’s get it done together. Pick up the phone and call us; we will help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, you can forget just about everything you think you know about budgeting for your home improvement projects. Sometimes, the biggest bargain doesn’t pay and sometimes, that big-ticket item will pay for itself before you realize. We’re going to have tips this hour on how to sort all that out, by showing you how you can stretch your home improvement dollars.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, adding an outdoor room, it’s a great way to add value to your home. But what is the best base to build on: a deck or a patio? We’re going to help you figure out which one is going to work best for you, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And many of you have seen more than your fair share of wicked weather this spring, I mean from tornadoes to heavy thunderstorms. We’ve heard about softball-sized hail and especially power outages. But power is the one thing that you should not have to go without, if you have a standby generator. We’re going to tell you about the most affordable and compact automatic standby generators on the market today, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got 100 brand new CARBIDE blades from Stanley. And these blades are tougher and last longer than those traditional carbon utility blades. Plus, you are going to get a FatMax Utility Knife to use them with, so it’s a great prize.

    TOM: On the cutting edge of home improvement. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Cindy in Virginia needs some help getting her deck ready for the season. What can we do for you?

    CINDY: Yes. I painted my deck white. It was previously stained and it keeps getting this blackish-like mold or substance on it. And I’ve tried Krud Kutter and siding cleaner and soap-and-water and it just will not keep it off of there. Can you tell me what it is or what I can do about it?

    TOM: This is a wood deck?

    CINDY: It is.

    TOM: Have you used a deck cleaner?

    CINDY: I have and it still keeps coming back.

    TOM: Did you use one that had oxygenated bleach in it?

    LESLIE: Or even just bleach and water or OxiClean?

    CINDY: I’ve tried OxiClean, as well, yes. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And so it doesn’t lighten it up at all? There’s a product out …

    CINDY: It whitens it up but it just keeps coming back.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: OK.

    CINDY: It just – like it covers it up for a day or two and then it comes right back.

    TOM: It comes back in a day or two?

    CINDY: Well, it seems like a day or two. Maybe it’s a little longer.

    TOM: Seems like a day or two. It could be a month or two but it seems like a day or two.

    Let’s talk about the area that this deck – is it very shady?

    CINDY: We have a tree hanging over the deck.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s clearly contributing to it. Because you get tree droppings and you also add the shade. The shade blocks the sun and the sun is the best mildicide out there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the deck is an organic material, so everything that’s on there – you get the shade, you get the moisture, you get the wood deck and all of a sudden, you’ve got mold or mildew growth right there.

    CINDY: Well, I get this morning sun but the afternoon and evening, it’s definitely shaded.

    LESLIE: Hmm. I would – if I were you, Cindy – I would try to really work at it with some bleach and water and a good amount of elbow grease. But I think what you’re going to see is if you mix up some bleach and water – maybe 50/50 – pour it on the area, let it sit for 10 or so minutes. Do this in the morning time when you’ve got the sun on that area and you’ll see that that’s going to really cut down on that mold and get rid of it.

    And then once it’s gone, I would – it’s always going to come back if you don’t try to get some sun on it for a larger portion of the day. Is there an area of the tree that you can trim back? Can you do something to get more sunlight on this?

    And then once you’ve killed off whatever is there – I don’t know how long ago you painted it. Maybe it’s time to prime and paint again so that you’re sealing in whatever’s there that you’ve cleaned and killed. And then starting from scratch, if you will, and getting some more sunlight on it, that should help you right there.

    CINDY: OK. I’ll give that a try.

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

    LESLIE: Jeff in North Carolina needs some help up in the attic. What can we do for you?

    JEFF: Well, my question is this. I have a 1,600-square-foot ranch house and I have vents at both eaves. And a friend of mine was over and he said that I could save some money on my electric bill if, under the soffits, I would install vents to kind of help the house to breathe. Instead of just using the two end eave vents, it would have more places for the house to breathe. I was wondering, is that a good idea? And if so, what kind of spacing should I put these vents in the soffit?

    TOM: Well, Jeff, you have a very smart friend. He’s giving you excellent advice.

    JEFF: Well, how would that work and how should I space these vents and what would be the trick? Should I use a hole saw, like what you’d use for a door set or what would be the way to kind of go about that?

    TOM: No, the best ventilation system is when you have continuous ridge and soffit venting. So what kinds of roof vents do you have right now?

    JEFF: It’s just two at the eaves. You know, just two louvered vents that …

    TOM: Yeah. OK. So here’s the best way to capitalize on a straight gable roof. You add a continuous soffit vent, which means you remove the soffit material that’s there right now and replace it with perforated soffit material. So it’s not just a matter of cutting holes into that soffit. You’re …

    LESLIE: It’s a continuous vent.

    TOM: It’s a continuous, wide-open vent. And then, you install what’s called a ridge vent. Basically, you cut a slot in the top ridge of the roof and put a vent right over it. And so now you have a continuous ridge and soffit vent and here’s why that’s a good idea. Because as the wind blows over the roof, it depressurizes the ridge and sucks the warm air from the attic, the moist air from the attic. Everything you want to vent from the attic gets sucked out of that ridge through the depressurization that happens through the normal wind sort of cycle. And then the soffits is where the wind blows against the house and it goes up under it.

    So think about it. Air enters at the soffit, goes up under the sheathing, carries out the moisture, carries out the heat and exits at the ridge. And that cycle repeats 24-7. And the last step, after you have continuous soffit and continuous ridge vents, is to go in the attic and close up the gable vents. Because those original vents will interrupt the flow that you’ve now created with the continuous ridge and soffit.

    JEFF: Very nice, very nice. Well, I appreciate the advice and that’s one project I can get on here at the end of the spring, before it gets a little too hot to get up in there. So, thank you guys so much for the tips.

    TOM: It’s a perfect time to do just that. Jeff, you’re very welcome. 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 join in on the fun, so pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement, repair, décor, design. Whatever you need, we are here to help you with all of those questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We never sleep and when we do, we dream home improvement. Believe me, it’s true. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, DIY-ing it is great but not when it costs you more money than hiring a pro. We’re going to dispel that and other home improvement myths, to help you save money on your next home improvement project, 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: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love to have you be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, we’re going to help you with your home improvement projects but we’re also going to give one of you a great prize. And this hour, we’ve got up for grabs 100 new Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades with a Stanley FatMax Retractable Knife. And I really challenge you to use 100 blades in your lifetime, unless you’re a drywall hanger.

    TOM: That will be tough. That would be tough.

    LESLIE: Then maybe.

    TOM: And it’s also a good time to be giving this away because, apparently, it is the 75th anniversary of the utility knife. Who knew?

    LESLIE: Who knew? I mean it’s a great tool; you sort of just take it for granted that it’s been around forever and ever. But it’s actually 75 years young, so respect it because it’s awesome.

    And the new CARBIDE blade, it’s the sharpest, strongest, longest-lasting utility blade that Stanley has ever had. And it’s unbreakable under normal working conditions. And if you’ve ever worked with cutting drywall, you know that you go through blades pretty quickly.

    So this new Stanley CARBIDE blade, it’s awesome. It doesn’t require changing as often, so it’s going to save you time and money. So give us a call for your chance to win, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you’re ready to pick up the hammer or pick up the saw and tackle a home improvement project, you want to try to get the most out of that and save as much money as possible. So let’s talk about some popular ways to do that.

    First of all, let’s deal with this myth: it’s not always cheaper to do it yourself. If you’re going to tackle a project by yourself and you want it to be a money-saver, you need to ask yourself if you’ve really got the experience, if you’ve got the tools and if you’ve got the time to do the work. If you end up having to call in a pro halfway through, not to mention the embarrassment, you’ll likely end up spending more than if the pro had done the job in the first place.

    Sometimes, it’s OK to do a project yourself and even when it costs more. Like for example, I built a shed from scratch with my kids because I wanted a fun family project to do.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: And yes, I know it took longer and it cost more money than if I went out and bought a pre-fab shed or purchased it a number of other ways. I just wanted the experience of doing it myself with my kids – instilling those values, instilling those skills – but we paid for it. But we did that willingly; we did that with the knowledge that we would not be saving money doing this.

    However, most people figure everything they do is going to save them money. It’s not always the case, so you’ve really got to do a cost/benefit analysis.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what else you need to consider, if you’re making big-ticket purchases – like products, perhaps, like appliances, windows, even doors – you need to keep in mind that these items, they could actually pay for themselves in no time flat. Because if you invest in high-efficiency products, they’re always going to pay off, even if they do cost a little bit more up front.

    TOM: That’s right. And you want to remember to do your product research and take time to comparison shop for the best prices on fixtures and finishes, especially. You might be tempted to skimp on the supplies but you’ll definitely get what you pay for when you invest in quality. And you’re also going to get better longevity and that also improves the ROI or the return on investment. So, select very, very carefully and you’ll enjoy extended product life, better integrity for the product and improved appearance at the same time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what else you can consider, keep in mind that salvage materials are there. You can use them and they really make for some beautiful options. Recycling is going to save unique, usable goods from the landfills and it can actually save you money.

    Bottom line: careful planning and research are the key ingredients when you’re budgeting your home improvements. Keeping these ideas in mind are going to help you save money, even if it’s in the long run. All good things, though, to consider.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you should consider dialing for the answer to your home improvement question. Let’s get back and do just that.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Joanna in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JOANNA: Well, what I have is two large septic tanks and I used RID-X for the last 15 years on these particular two tanks. I’ve never had to have them cleaned. Don’t have any problem with them but the question I have is: would it be advisable just to go ahead and have them cleaned or should I continue with what I’m doing and wait until the time comes?

    TOM: Now, it is advisable to have your septic tanks pumped and cleaned probably about every five years. So if you’ve not done that, it’s not a bad idea for you to do that now.

    JOANNA: Uh-huh. OK. Well, I was a little concerned about that. And then, would you recommend using the liquid or the granules? Liquid is something new that they have come out with and I always like to stick with what I’ve – what works, you know?

    TOM: Well and you’re doing pretty well with it. So, I think companies come up with products just so they have another SKU to sell, another item to sell.

    JOANNA: Right.

    TOM: But if it’s working, why change it?

    LESLIE:Doug in Iowa,you’ve got TheMoney Pit. What can we help you with today?

    DOUG: Yes. I was wondering if you – if there’s a paint or is there a product out there that can cover up the water membrane on the outside of your house?

    TOM: Is there a paint that can cover up the water membrane? What water membrane are you talking about?

    DOUG: Well, when they put the product on the outside of the house, to keep the water away from sort of leaking into the basement?

    TOM: Oh, the barrier. OK.

    DOUG: Yes.

    TOM: Right.

    DOUG: And I’ve got – it’s exposed in our house here. It’s about 2 foot above my grade level and so all we see is this black …

    TOM: Oh, it’s the black, tar-like stuff is what you’re talking about.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s over the foundation wall.

    DOUG: Yes.

    TOM: Oh. Can you cover that? Yeah. I think you could probably paint it. I would use an epoxy paint.

    DOUG: An epoxy paint.

    TOM: Yeah. You’re going to get the best adhesion.

    LESLIE: Because that’ll stick to anything.

    DOUG: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, that’ll do it. That’ll do it. Yep. And make sure – it sounds to me like the grade has settled a lot. So, you’re going to paint, I would make sure I paint first and then I might add more grade to it and make sure it slopes away from the wall.

    DOUG: Yes.

    TOM: Because otherwise, you are, at some point, perhaps going to develop a leak in that basement that you didn’t expect.

    DOUG: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in Pennsylvania is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    MARY: Yes. I’m calling because we have spruce hardwood floors in cherry. The house is eight years old and I do have tinted windows in my morning room but over time, the floor has begun to fade. And I want to know if there’s anything I can do to bring it back to its natural color. It still has the shine, it still has the luster but you can tell that it’s beginning to fade.

    TOM: Is it a stained floor? Is it a darker floor? A lighter floor? What color is it now?

    MARY: It’s cherry and it’s like the pre-fab hardwood. So yes, it is stained and it’s cherry.

    TOM: Right. Hmm. Well, nothing short of restaining it is probably going to bring it back up to the luster that you would like. Was this a prefinished product when it was first put down?

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: And do you know how thick it is?

    MARY: It’s three-quarters or more.

    TOM: Well, then, I don’t see why you couldn’t sand it. You’re just going to have refinish the entire floor.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: So there’s no easy way to put – to add more color when you have all this UV degradation. But if it’s a full ¾-inch thick, then you could have it sanded. If it wasn’t a color issue, there is an easy way to refinish a hardwood floor if it’s just the sheen. But since it’s a coloring issue, then you have to go down to raw wood and restain it.

    MARY: Alright. And I was hoping to avoid that because that’s – my entire first floor is the hardwood. So I’m afraid that if you do one section, you’re going to have to end up doing the entire floor.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Some prefinished floors are very, very difficult to refinish, especially if they have a joint where it’s a groove, because there’s a lot of handwork associated with that.

    If it turns out that that’s the situation and you want to put a new floor down, take a look at Lumber Liquidators. They have engineered floors that could actually go down on top of that and would only add about 3/8 of an inch to the floor height. And the durability of the new, prefinished floors is far superior to what was available when that original floor was put down.

    MARY: OK. And it doesn’t look like a pre-fab kind of floor?

    TOM: Absolutely not. It’s gorgeous stuff. Take a look at it online at LumberLiquidators.com.

    MARY: OK. Great. Alright. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bobby in North Carolina is dealing with a water-pressure issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    BOBBY: Yes. I live out in a rural area and have a well and I’m having low pressure coming into the kitchen faucet only.

    TOM: It’s only the kitchen faucet? OK, well, that’s important to know and that’s actually good news, because that means it’s the problem with the plumbing associated with the kitchen faucet and not the well.

    Have you tried to remove – I want to start with the easy things first. Have you tried to remove the aerator?

    LESLIE: The tip of the faucet.

    BOBBY: Yes. I’ve removed that off and cleaned that screen out.

    TOM: Well, if you remove it and turn the water on, do you have good flow or not?

    BOBBY: Yeah but it’s not as strong as the other areas.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then we have to look beyond that; we have to look at the plumbing valves. I would check and make sure that the water lines, the valves are fully opened, because sometimes they get stuck partially-closed.

    BOBBY: Is that within the faucet itself?

    TOM: Well, it’s probably in the – it’s not in the faucet itself but it’s probably in the supply lines right under the faucet, like in the kitchen-sink cabinet. And sort of trace the plumbing back. It’s getting restricted somewhere but if the water pressure is good everywhere else, it’s a problem associated with the valves or with the water lines feeding that particular faucet. And if you can solve that, you’re going to solve your pressure problem.

    BOBBY: Very good.

    TOM: Bobby, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still to come, has severe spring weather been causing power outages in your neck of the woods? The most compact and affordable automatic standby generators are on the market and they are making it very easy to keep your home powered in a blackout. We will tell you all about that product, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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 you’ve heard us recommend backup power, especially to your essential appliances, to protect you in case of an outage. Well, there has never been a better time to get in on that peace of mind. I’ve got a backup generator at home; I’ve got one at the studio. I would never go without it. It’s kind of like the appliance that you never had. I always compare it to the garbage disposer. I mean there’s millions of folks that don’t have disposers. Once they get one, they never want to own a house that doesn’t have one.

    A generator is just like that. Once you get a generator and have a power failure and have all the lights come back on the house within seconds of the utility company going down, that’s it, you’re committed for life.

    LESLIE: And that’s right. There’s actually been several occasions where The Money Pit would have not even made it on the air had it not been for our Generac generator. So that’s why we’re so happy to have a long-time partnership with Generac, because they’re the market leaders in generators. And they’ve created the most compact and affordable automatic, home standby generator that’s available on the market today.

    So here to tell us more is Craig MacDonald, the owner of Suburban Services Group. And they’re an authorized Generac dealer and he is an expert in home standby power.

    Welcome, Craig.

    CRAIG: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate this opportunity.

    TOM: Well, thanks for stopping by. Tell us about the renewed interest in backup power. For a long time, I think it was seen as a luxury but now, the prices have come down and the grid has gotten less reliable. So as a result, it seems that more and more folks are interested in vesting in it.

    CRAIG: You’re right. For a long time, they were not affordable. When Generac came out with the prewired systems, they became affordable for the normal homeowner in a moderate-sized house. The people are tired of either long-term power failures or even the nuisance power failures that they’re – they’ve been having and they’re looking for a solution.

    LESLIE: That’s really great. It’s definitely something that can change your life for the better when you get one in your home. And they almost should be an appliance that you think about having, you know, on the offset, when you do become a homeowner.

    Now, geographically, as we look across the country, are there areas of the country where generators have just been more longer accepted?

    CRAIG: I’m thinking they’ve been more accepted in the southern states or near the shoreline, where they have hurricanes come onto them suddenly or even announced. But up here in northern New York, we’ve been having our share of ice storms, wind storms, different type of storms that just knock the power out for a period of time. And people really like to have convenience, which is one of the reasons that these are very well-accepted.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think the other thing that people really sort of get hung up upon when they think about a generator is everybody thinks about the portable market. And they’re kind of inconvenient because should the power go out, you might not be able to get the fuel for the item and then there’s the whole host of safety issues. So sort of talk us through what the standby generator does over the portable and why it’s a so much better choice.

    CRAIG: When you’ve got the portable, you need to be home. You have to get it pulled out of the garage, you have to have gas in it, you have to have run it once in a while just to see that it works. With the automatic standby generator, if you’ve got a couple that are both working or some folks that are on vacation – perhaps they’re snowbirds – the unit turns itself on. It actually checks itself weekly. You don’t even have to be home. Turns on, powers the circuits that you are looking for and then it turns back off after this episode is over.

    TOM: We’re talking to Craig MacDonald. He’s the owner of Suburban Services Group and an expert in standby generators.

    Now, Craig, Generac just came out with the 7-kilowatt CorePower Series. Talk about affordable. A 7kW unit – 1,799 and it comes packaged with a transfer switch. That’s a pretty good deal.

    CRAIG: That is a good deal and it is so close to some of the portable generators. It really makes sense to look at one of these and have it installed so that it runs itself and takes care of things when you’re not even home.

    TOM: Yeah. Think about the things that this would cover: your refrigerator, your sump pump, your heating system. This generator – which, let’s face it, is pretty affordable at under 2,000 bucks – could really save you tens of thousands of dollars in potential damage to your home.

    CRAIG: I see an occasional home where the sump pump has failed; they haven’t had any backup source of electricity. And the damage that is done in the home is sometimes two to three times the price of a generator. When you end up talking to these people after the episode that they’ve been through, there’s no doubt that they wish they had a generator that would have solved that problem.

    TOM: Well, it’s because of folks like you, Craig, that these are becoming more affordable and easier to install. Thank you so much for taking some time to fill us in. Craig MacDonald, owner of Suburban Services, an authorized Generac dealer and an expert in backup power. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit, Craig.

    CRAIG: Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, are you thinking of creating an outdoor space at your home? Well, if you do, it’s definitely going to increase your home’s value but are you going to get the same ROI with a deck or a patio? We’ll find out, next.

    (theme song)

    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: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a gift package consisting of 100 new Stanley CARBIDE Utility Blades. And it also includes a Stanley FatMax Retractable Knife. But the story here is, in these CARBIDE blades brand new from Stanley, they are the longest-lasting blades ever.

    And Stanley is also celebrating 75 years of being on that cutting edge, because they were the first to market with the utility blades. So, kind of a cool anniversary for the Stanley company and a cool innovation, these new CARBIDE Utility Blades.

    If you’d like to win that gift pack, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you out with what you’re working on and perhaps you’re thinking about creating an outdoor living space.

    Well, if you are, you’re not alone because it’s certainly gaining ground as one of the most popular home improvement projects out there. Whether it’s an outdoor room, a patio, a deck, whatever you choose, it’s the least-expensive way to extend your living space.

    And installing a patio is an easier do-it-yourself project than actually building a deck. Now, you can go with brick, natural stone or even cement pavers. However, keep this in mind: a regular-shaped natural stone is going to be the hardest to work with, because it’s like basically assembling a huge jigsaw puzzle.

    TOM: Yeah, you never find that piece you need when you need it.

    LESLIE: I know. And then you end up sort of chipping away at things and oops, I made it too small. So it really can be a trouble but it looks beautiful if you take on that challenge.

    Now, when you’re laying out your patio, you want to plan for drainage. Then you need to take the time to properly excavate, level and line that patio area for best results. Now, the most common paver-patio mistakes come from not properly prepping the base and believe me, you will pay for it over time.

    TOM: Not a step you want to skip.

    Now, the cost and the looks of decks can also vary widely due to the choice of the decking material. Wood decks, absolutely the least expensive but they can also be troublesome to maintain. If you’ve got a little extra money in the budget, you might want to consider composite decking. That requires very little maintenance in the long run but it’s a little more expensive up front.

    Now, whatever the decking surface and railing material are that you choose, you’re typically going to use pressure-treated lumber for the structural part of the deck because you’re not going to see that once it’s underneath all of that. It does a really good job. It’s a strong material; it’s going to last an awfully long time.

    Also keep in mind that either project, be it a deck or a patio, is going to require a building permit, so don’t forget that. And if you’re wondering which one adds more value – a patio or a deck – well, the answer’s actually both. In fact, some studies have shown the ROI to be about 106 percent on patios and decks. So, build that outdoor room. Get out there, enjoy the summer and add some value to your house at the same time.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Julie in West Virginia on the line who’s dealing with a mysterious stain on the floor. Ooh. Tell us what’s going on.

    JULIE: Yes. We have the Christmas bubble lights that were dropped on the floor this past Christmas and they immediately left a bright orange stain on the new linoleum. We can’t get it out. We’ve used a paint thinner-based stain remover and it didn’t do anything but barely fade it.

    LESLIE: I bet it’s not a stain. How long were these lights sitting on the floor?

    JULIE: We removed this instantly and wiped it up but it didn’t do any good.

    TOM: Hmm. What kind of lights were they that broke?

    LESLIE: Weird.

    JULIE: The bubble lights?

    LESLIE: The ones that have the liquid in it that sort of go blub-blub-blub-blub-blub as it – as they heat up.

    JULIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Oh, I bet you it was a chemical reaction.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I thought maybe it was a heat thing but if you picked them up right away – did they break?

    JULIE: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK. That’s got to be what it is.

    TOM: It’s got to be because it’s not a stain because otherwise, it would have come right up. You know, vinyl floors and the linoleum before that – we call them linoleum but they’re probably vinyl – they’re very reactive to certain situations.

    Like, for example, you know how many people put a rubber-backed carpet piece right near the sink and stand on it because it’s more comfortable?

    LESLIE: Like a bath mat.

    TOM: Like a bath mat, right. Well, those – that rubber reacts with the vinyl and causes it to oxidize and discolor. So you pick it up, you see a stain and think it’s dirt; it’s not. It’s the physical changing of the color of the vinyl itself.

    I suspect that’s probably what happened here and you’re not going to be able to get it up.

    LESLIE: It’s got to be. Mm-mm.

    JULIE: OK. So without changing the linoleum, it’s there forever.

    TOM: Right. Unless you can find a very nice, strategic throw rug for it, Julie.

    JULIE: OK. It’s at the bottom of the steps. Maybe that’s what I should do.

    TOM: That will be a good place for it. Just be – put an anti-slip carpet underneath it.

    LESLIE: Like an anti-skid mat.

    TOM: Anti-skid mat right underneath it, so nobody gets hurt.

    JULIE: OK. We can do that. Thanks very much.

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

    LESLIE: Tom, I wonder since the product is already damaged and discolored, at this point, does it make any sense to ever try those markers that are meant – if the floor is like a wood look?

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LESLIE: You know the markers that are meant to sort of color in when you get a discoloration on furnishings or flooring? I wonder if it’s …

    TOM: Can’t imagine doing that with vinyl, though.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You don’t think it would adhere or …?

    TOM: No, I don’t think so.

    LESLIE: I mean I always feel like it’s worth a shot for something if you’re just going to cover it up anyway.

    TOM: Yeah. I hear you but I think an area rug’s probably her best bet.

    LESLIE:Mike in Illinois,you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    MIKE: I got a 12×24 patio deck and it’s concrete and I got a dip in the middle that’s 3 foot by 6 foot, that’s got a dip in it that holds water. And I’d like to see how to eliminate that so I can put carpet over it.

    LESLIE: Why do you want to put carpet on the concrete?

    TOM: Why would you want to put carpet?

    MIKE: Well, outdoor carpet.

    LESLIE: Still, why? I’m sorry.

    MIKE: I guess – I don’t know. That’s just what they want to do, so …

    TOM: Is this your wife or something that wants to do this?

    MIKE: No, my neighbor.

    TOM: Oh, your neighbor. OK.

    MIKE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, we would try to talk you out of it.

    MIKE: OK.

    TOM: Because once you put down an outdoor carpet, it’s hard to get back up and it’s never going to look like real grass.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re going to have to use glue. It’s not going to be pretty, unless you go totally crazy and go like electric blue. But I wouldn’t do it. First of all, let’s fix the dip in it. That can be easily done with an epoxy patching compound. You can get one from a website called Abatron.com. And you want to make sure that you use epoxy, because you want it to stick to the concrete.

    Now, if you insist on using an outdoor rug, please, please, please do not glue one down permanently because someday you’re going to want this off and there’s going to be glue and it’s going to be a mess and it’s just going to be horrible.

    TOM: Yeah, like next year.

    LESLIE: Oh, like next week.

    There is a company called FLOR – F-L-O-R – and they make carpet tiles that you can sort of stick together and just throw outside. And they have a whole exterior line and there’s one – oh gosh, it’s got a crazy name. If you go to their website and just look up “outdoor carpets,” you’ll find a whole bunch of different ideas. But they have one that’s sort of like – it has big circles cut out of it; it almost looks like Swiss cheese and it’s kind of modern and it’s kind of fun. I think if you’re going to be cheeky and make a design choice with it and make it removable, then fine. But don’t – I would not install carpet on concrete.

    MIKE: So a lot more ….

    TOM: Yeah, there are some other things that you can do. You could use epoxy paint, which gives very good adhesion to concrete surfaces. You could do a painted rug using stenciling, which can be quite attractive. But I don’t think you want to go wall-to-wall outdoor carpet; that would be a bad idea. So, hopefully we’ve talked you out of that. But in terms of the dip, no problem; just use an epoxy patching compound. That will fix it the proper way.

    MIKE: Okie-dokie. I appreciate it and thank you.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up, they are some of the toughest materials around but although brick and stone are built to last, they do need occasional maintenance. Find out what you need to know to take care of your brick and stone surfaces, after this.

    (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 on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And if you’ve got nothing to do, why not head on over to MoneyPit.com, because I know you’re thinking about your next home improvement project. And while you’re there, check out the Community section. It’s a great area to go to. You’re going to get advice, you’re going to get information from a ton of people online who are do-it-yourselfers just like you and then, of course, Tom and I are going to throw in our expert advice, as well.

    All you have to do is join The Money Pit community to post a question, write a blog, even share your own before or after photos from the projects you’re working on. It’s all right there at MoneyPit.com.

    And I’ve got some questions here that people posted recently and this one is from Richard in Morristown, New Jersey who writes: “How can I remove or lighten a dark smoke stain on the fascia of a white brick, not-painted fireplace?” 

    TOM: Hmm. Well, if it’s not painted, what I would suggest is a product called TSP – trisodium phosphate. You can buy it in the paint aisle of the hardware store, typically. It’s used for paint prep.

    But essentially, what you do is you mix it up and you apply it to the brick. You let it sit there for a bit of time and it should draw out some of that smoke stain and brighten it up again. I would try it selectively in a smaller area where it’s not so noticeable to begin with, because it may lighten it up so much that it – that now you’ll have sort of a white rash, you know, on the brick and you don’t want to have that, either.

    So give it a test first. If it seems to work OK, go ahead and apply it to the smoke stain.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next I’ve got a question posted by Jim in Valley Cottage, New York who wrote: “Would like to improve the look of regular concrete steps. I found a system that either uses a stamped overlay or a stenciled finish. Do you know anything about this or the durability of this type of work?”

    TOM: Well, I mean you used to do a lot of concrete-patio stenciling on While You Were Out, didn’t you?

    LESLIE: We did but that’s a process that really needs to be done with paints or stains that are truly made for concrete. And it takes a little bit of work but you can find enormous concrete stencils online. And the stamped concrete patterns, that really works well when you’re putting that concrete out for the first time. Either way, it makes an unusual and gorgeous finish for a concrete surface.

    TOM: Yeah but the second time – these are existing steps. I’d be concerned about the stamped overlay because we want to make sure that it adheres properly.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I don’t think it would stick.

    TOM: Well, when you are doing it yourself, it helps to have the right tools to get the job done. It’s best that you’ve got a tool that can also multi-task. So to save you some money and some room in your toolbox, Leslie has got a tool that can do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right, Tom. And we are talking about the Skil Power Cutter. And it’s really a very versatile tool that you’re just going to love.

    Now, the Skil Power Cutter has a precision blade, a 3.6-volt lithium-ion battery and a really comfortable grip. And it can cut through almost anything, including wallpaper, vinyl flooring, vinyl siding, carpet, carpet padding. Whatever you’ve got, it really makes it the perfect tool for your home improvement projects.

    Now, the bonus is it can also be a go-to cutter for all of your household jobs, too, because it cuts through denim, leather, card stock, old credit cards and of course, with kids in the house, that frustrating clamshell packaging that just seems to be on everything. And you can never get anything open without slicing your hand open. So, no more will you have a trouble with all of those frustrating plastic packages.

    It’s got a super-powerful, lithium-ion-technology battery and an auto-sharp blade system and it’s super-lightweight. It’s a great power cutter that’s going to soon become your most favorite tool, too. It looks sharp; it cuts sharp. It’s the Skil Power Cutter and I recommend it fully. Get out there, get your hands on one, give it a try and see what you can do this weekend.

    TOM: On the cutting edge of home improvement, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, it’s spring and that means it’s peak home improvement season. There are new products that are making their way to stores near you.

    But before they do, they are rolled out and introduced at an industry trade show called the National Hardware Show. It’s a very fun place for us to be. We’re going to learn about all those innovations and bring them to you, live from the show floor, 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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    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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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