Building a Retaining Wall, Kitchen Countertop Solutions and More
NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 – because we can leap whole houses in a single bound. (Leslie chuckles) We’re like the home improvement supermen out there; here to help you tackle those seemingly insurmountable projects around your house. We’ve got the answers, we’ve got the ideas, we’ve got the solutions; but you need to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Well, as technology continues to make its way into just about every aspect of our lives, we’re starting to see differences in the way we build homes. It’s changing very rapidly and we’re going to tell you about those changes and what it means to you, in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: Yeah, and with all of those technological advances, it comes with a lot of extra gadgets – about two dozen, to be exact – and that’s how many the average family owns, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. So we’re going to help you find a way to store all of those gadgets, which just seem to be multiplying every time you turn your back. Coming up.
TOM: And also ahead, we’ve got some tips to help you gain a level playing field in your yard; step-by-step hints for building a retaining wall, from our friend and This Old House general contractor, Roger Cook. Roger will be by in just a few minutes to teach us how to do that.
LESLIE: That’s right. And this hour, we’re giving away a brushed stainless steel sink from Blanco.
TOM: So, if a kitchen renovation is in your future, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s worth 300 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who comes on the air with us today. The number again, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to it. The phones are lighting up.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Stephanie in Hawaii, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEPHANIE: Yes, I’m interested in PaperStone countertop.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep. Yeah.
STEPHANIE: And I was going to pour a cement floor from my inside to the outside on the porches all through it and paint it and make it into an art project with all kinds of stains and painting into the cement.
LESLIE: That sounds beautiful.
STEPHANIE: So then I thought about your stone thing and I thought, “Well, maybe it’s better than the cement” [for pours] (ph).
LESLIE: Well, PaperStone is made of recycled cardboard and I mean it’s processed in a way – it’s very environmentally friendly and it’s very hard and it’s super durable and it ends up being like a 3/4, a 1-inch or an 1-1/4-thick sheet that’s then like 4×8. I’ve heard of it being used mostly for countertops or partitions or windowsills; even paneling or chair rail embellishment. I’ve never heard of it as an application for a large-scale floor but I mean it is water-resistant, it’s fire-rated, it’s anti-scratch. I mean the thing is very, very, very durable. So I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be able to cut it up and use it in a floor application.
TOM: Yeah. Although I don’t think that that’s what it’s generally intended for.
LESLIE: It’s not.
TOM: You mentioned that you wanted to paint your floor. What you might want to think about, since this is new concrete, is you could dye the concrete or you could stain the concrete. And you can get a lot of very, very attractive colors and patterns. In fact, there’s a website called ConcreteNetwork.com. It’s got a lot of good articles about how to dye concrete and how to stain it; how to get different sorts of effects. You might want to take a look at that as well.
LESLIE: And you know what, Stephanie? If you want some more information on the PaperStone, their website is PaperStone Products.com.
TOM: Stephanie, good luck with that project.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, it should be intense. (chuckles)
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT; your source for the solution to intense home improvement projects.
LESLIE: Dennis in Virginia needs some help refinishing a basement. What can we do for you today?
DENNIS: I am getting ready to – well, I’ve already built a bedroom and I’ve built a bathroom and I want to finish the rest of the basement. I want to put in more square footage. Would it be best to put in a sheetrock or a drop ceiling?
TOM: Hmm. Well, for square footage, it’s clearly better to do a drywall ceiling. The disadvantage is, of course, you can’t get up there for access to any of the plumbing or electrical work but you’re definitely going to save yourself at least four to six inches, even in the tightest possible scenario, of headroom because the sheetrock can go right up.
Now, you’ve got to take a look, though, at the framing and the piping and the plumbing work because sometimes in basements they let too much of it hang down below the edge of the floor joist and you need to do a little bit of carpentry to cover that up. But definitely, drywalling that
ceiling will give you more headroom.
DENNIS: OK, on the drywalling, how much clearance should there be between the drywall and, say, a water line?
TOM: None. Doesn’t matter. Can go right up against it.
DENNIS: OK, great. Well, that was the main question I needed and that will help me out a lot. And a lot of tips I get off your show have really been helping me a lot.
TOM: OK, Dennis. Well, we’re glad to help out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Please call back again.
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 your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, the high-tech home; is it for you? We’ll find out, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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.
TOM: Pick up the phone; give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and an opportunity to win a prize we’re giving away this hour which is the Blanco Stellar sink. It’s an 18-gauge, stainless steel sink in a refined brush finish. It’s an under-mount sink that comes in single and double; a prize worth 300 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well pick up the phone and give us a call. We’ve got a lot of great information to share with you this hour; especially because this is the time of the year that we start getting some of those headlines out of the consumer electronics show, which happened in January in Las Vegas. And it’s held every year and, you know, this is the event where we hear about the latest gadgets and just the coolest gizmos. And the big headline this year is a lot of technology that just recently became a household staple is becoming extinct, if you could believe it or not.
You know, it wasn’t that long ago that PCs were an unheard of item in your house and now everybody’s got at least one, if not more. You know, this is kind of like what happened with TVs in the 50s. But there were very few PCs to be seen at this year’s show and, in fact, the idea of a family PC may be coming to an end because now, many of us browse the web on our phones or even our laptops.
TOM: And even going bye-bye of course are landline phones, answering machines and anything that’s not a flatscreen TV. In fact, we just tossed out the very last tube television set.
LESLIE: You did?
TOM: You know, the one that you keep in the rec room that you almost never watch?
TOM: Well, it finally went on the blink and it’s toast now so we brought in another flatscreen because they just got so inexpensive it doesn’t make sense to not have them wherever you want to enjoy them in your house.
So I guess for all of you that have a big TV armoire in your family or bedroom, you probably now own a dinosaur. Chop it up, use it for firewood but you’re not going to use it for a television set anymore.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement projects. Let’s get right back to it. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Greg in Illinois is having an issue with termites. How can we help you today?
GREG: Hi, I’m trying to get ready to insulate my crawlspace and I’d love to do it with spray foam insulation.
GREG: We’ve had some termites about three years ago. I had them come out and treat. They said it’d be good for 10 years. So, should I spray foam; should I go another route? What are your suggestions?
TOM: Yeah, what did you treat the termites with?
GREG: I had a rather well-known pest company come out and they did the whole drill a hole every 12 inches on the outside of the foundation wall and fill it up with whatever chemical they use.
TOM: OK, do you know if they used a product called Termidor?
GREG: I don’t.
TOM: OK. Well, you ought to find out what pesticide was used but it was probably an undetectable termidicide, which is good because the termites don’t know it’s there and they pass through it and get it on their bodies and then go back down to the nest and spread it to all their termites friends and that takes care of the whole colony.
As far as the insulation is concerned, you’re talking about like a product such as isonene or a product of that nature where you spray it on and it expands. It’s good stuff. It really seals in as well as insulates; but you know, at the same token, it might be a little bit overkill. You could probably get a decent amount of insulation and still have accessibility to those critical structural areas if you used just some pink insulation.
GREG: OK. OK.
TOM: But I would fill in the batt; fill in the space between the joist with large, deep batts. Use as much insulation as you can. You’re going to support it with wires that actually sort of support that piece of insulation up inside the floor space.
GREG: Is it enough to do that or do the foundation walls?
TOM: Well, you can actually do both.
TOM: Yeah, you could use the foam panels for the walls, but definitely do the floor with the batt insulation. Make sure it’s unfaced fiberglass batts and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Dan in Arkansas needs some help tackling a deck project. What can we help you with?
DAN: We have just recently purchased a home. It has a very expansive wood deck; approximately it’s 15×93, which would be 1,400 …
LESLIE: That’s huge.
TOM: That’s an aircraft carrier.
DAN: Yes, yes. You have to pack a lunch to get to one end. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) The wood is unknown but I’m guessing it’s going to be pine or treated pine.
DAN: The deck has been painted with probably a latex exterior or latex stain and it’s flaking off very badly. We’re tracking it into the house; we’re afraid about the dogs breathing it. Some contractors suggested powerwashing; others said that would break up the surface of the wood. And so there we are. Can’t afford to replace the decking, we don’t think, at 1,400 square foot. If we remove the deck, the first step is 15 feet to the ground. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: Yeah. Well …
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you it’s an enormous project to get the old paint off. They’re correct in saying that pressure washing could potentially damage the deck. Pressure washing really only should be used for rinsing. I mean the tool is fine but if you make it too strong, what happens is you wear out the soft summer growth which is the thick part of the ring of the tree.
DAN: (overlapping voices) Right.
TOM: You sort of groove that out and it definitely takes some life out of the deck. Probably the only way you’re going to be able to get this off is a chemical stripper and even that by itself is a big job with 1,400 square feet.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you’re going to have to work in sections because you have to apply it as per manufacturer directions; you know, with a roller or with sort of like a mop applicator and then you let it sit on that section for 10 minutes or so before it dries but you want it to sort of sit there and saturate and do its job of breaking up the paint. And then you would lightly pressure wash it away; you know, get rid of the product and get rid of the paint that comes off with it. You wouldn’t want to just pressure wash because, as Tom said, it would just be detrimental to the health of the lumber.
But it’s going to be a big undertaking but you will be able to get it down to raw wood; which, at that point, you could then apply, depending on the condition of the lumber – you know, is it checking; is it splintery; does it look OK. You know, depending on if it looks great, then you can go with a semi-transparent. If it looks a little worse for the wear or you had a hard time getting off a lot of the paint in some areas where it just really stuck, you might have to go with a solid stain, which is different from a paint because it still sort of saturates the wood itself so you can see some of the grain but you get that pigmentation. And you can go with a natural tone in a solid color.
TOM: You know, another option here, Dan, is – and I know you say you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this – you don’t necessarily have to replace the entire deck. You can just do a deck makeover by pulling off the decking boards themselves and replacing them with a composite product like Fiberon. That is sort of the half-price way of getting a brand new deck. Because the structure is fine, you won’t have to deal with that. And another thing that you could think about doing is take a look at the underside of the deck and if you’ve got some bad boards or maybe they’re not painted on the bottom, you could pull them up and flip them over.
DAN: OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Hope we gave you some options. Appreciate the call.
LESLIE: Sherry in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SHERRY: We’ve lived in this house for six years and it was new construction at the time and in our pantry, we have a [white-faced] (ph) enamel paint.
SHERRY: And in our cabinet, we have like a stain with a lacquer base. But we are tasting lacquer or the way lacquer smells in our food.
TOM: What’s it taste like? (laughs)
SHERRY: The way lacquer smells. (laughs)
TOM: Not good, huh?
SHERRY: I didn’t realize it until I took, you know, some crackers – anything that’s stored in a box or a bag, like chips. And I took it to work and somebody said something about how funny it tastes and I didn’t realize it tasted bad.
TOM: Oh, no.
SHERRY: So I was wondering if there’s anything I could do in the cabinets to cover that smell. We’ve tried to keep the cabinet doors open but it’s not working.
LESLIE: Yeah, but you’ve been in there six years. I imagine, at this point, it should have off-gassed entirely at this point.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah.
SHERRY: Yes. It has a really bad taste to it.
LESLIE: And now you notice it in everything, I’m sure.
SHERRY: Yes; except for like canned stuff. But I just wondered if there was something we could paint over it or redo it or whatever.
TOM: Well, there’s no reason that you can’t prime the inside of the cabinets. If you wanted them to be dark in color, you could tint the primer. And if you used a good-quality primer, no matter what’s underneath it’s going to seal it in.
SHERRY: OK, OK. Well, I just was shocked. The builder said, “Oh, just leave the cabinet doors open.” Well, that didn’t work.
LESLIE: No, I would paint them.
TOM: And I think you bought cabinets that you didn’t have to keep open. (chuckles) Right.
SHERRY: Right, exactly.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s what cabinets are for.
TOM: Yeah. Why don’t you do that to one or two of the cabinets and see if you like it better?
SHERRY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
What a strange problem.
LESLIE: Seriously. I’ve never heard of such a thing.
Nick in Alaska needs some help with a bathroom project. What can we do for you?
NICK: Hey, there. I have a dry cabin right now and so I’ve got no running water at all.
NICK: I’m looking at putting a bathroom in; you know, kitchen and all of that in. And so I was curious what steps I might need to take to ensure that the pipes don’t freeze and would a foundation be a solution to help that.
TOM: You could install those pipes in South Carolina and not have a problem. (Leslie and Nick chuckle) Yeah, a little tough there in Alaska.
So you’re on a crawlspace right now?
NICK: Yeah, just on like four posts, basically.
TOM: Alright, so it’s up off of the ground. Is it enclosed at all?
NICK: Outside of the house? No, so it needs to be at least skirted, I would think.
TOM: I would think it should be at least skirted. And is the floor insulated?
TOM: OK. So yeah, it at least needs to be skirted or the floor needs to be covered. I would also use pipe insulation on all of the pipes that are down there. Be careful to insulate it right down and into and around the main water pipe. That’s going to be really important because you’ve got to keep those pipes warm or they will freeze and break.
Now is this a cabin that you don’t use all the time or what?
NICK: No, I live there all the time.
TOM: Oh, you live there all the time. OK. Alright. Well, I mean I think that’s all you need to do: insulate the pipes and insulate around the pipes with fiberglass; close the whole thing in and you should be good to go.
TOM: Alright? Now, some people put electrical tape on there, too, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.
NICK: You don’t think like the E-Tape (inaudible at 0:17:29.4)?
TOM: No, because it’s not supposed to be used inside of insulation.
TOM: It could be a fire hazard. OK? So, if it turns out that you’ve got some pipes that freeze, let’s just deal with that separately. You may have to do a better job insulating. But I would definitely not put electrical tape on there at that time.
NICK: Is that the same thing that you’re talking about as heat tape? That’s the same thing?
TOM: Yeah, heat tape. Yep.
NICK: OK. Alright. Well, cool. I guess that’s it then.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: What happens? Does it shorten and get like electrocuted?
TOM: Yeah, don’t use the electrical tape or the heat tape. What happens is it’s designed to be air-cooled. In fact, you’re not even supposed to wrap it over itself; like by twirling it around the pipe. You just put it on one side.
TOM: And if you cover that with insulation, it just gets too hot and it’ll burn the insulation. So I’ve seen a lot of people put that on their pipes in situations like that and it’s just never a good idea.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, level the playing field in your yard with a retaining wall. We’re going to share the step-by-step, right after this.
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.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s one of those things that really makes you grossed out and you don’t even want to think about it. We’re talking about bedbug infestations. They are on the rise.
TOM: If you wonder if you have them or not – well, I guess you probably know if you have them. (Leslie chuckles) But if you want to know how to get rid of them, I just put up a great article on MoneyPit.com on how to find and kill the bugs in your bed. That’s online right now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Sandy in North Carolina needs some help removing wallpaper. How far into the process are you, Sandy?
SANDY: Well, I’ve already done one room but my biggest issue was that there was a lot of the glue residue left on the walls.
LESLIE: Have you tried fabric softener and water? I know it sounds weird but it’s an excellent wallpaper paste remover.
SANDY: Oh, yeah? No, I haven’t tried that.
LESLIE: It’s worth a shot. I mean, otherwise, if it’s not too, too much and you’re just dealing with like a little bit of texture and residue, you could lightly sand that away, too.
TOM: Yeah, and you know, if you use the fabric softener on your walls, it smells lemony-fresh. (Leslie chuckles)
SANDY: And that won’t sink into the sheetrock and stuff that’s under the …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, I’m not saying like super-saturate it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, don’t saturate it. Don’t saturate it. But you can spray it on – some people do a dilute solution of it – and get more of the paste off. And then a light sanding with a very fine sandpaper; like 200, 220-grit. And then you want to prime the wall with a good-quality, oil-based primer and then you can paint it. And if you follow those steps, it’s not as smooth as new drywall but it’ll be acceptable.
LESLIE: It’ll get there. And then don’t pick a paint that has any sort of a sheen if you don’t get it super-smooth. Because if you pick something – you know, I wouldn’t even go eggshell; I would go like flat.
TOM: Yeah, just get good-quality flat; otherwise, any little bump in the wall, when the light hits it, it’ll show.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You’ll see everything.
SANDY: Right. So it’ll show the imperfections more with that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. If you use something that’s got a shine to it, it’ll show the imperfections.
SANDY: OK. OK, sounds great.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Sandy.
SANDY: OK, thanks. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you have a sloped property, the best way to increase your level space is by adding a retaining wall.
TOM: That’s right. It’s a great project and you can do it in a couple of different ways. Here to tell us more is This Old House’s Kevin O’Connor and lawn-and-garden expert, Roger Cook.
And Kevin, let’s start by talking about how a retaining wall can help you find a little extra space in that yard.
KEVIN: Retaining walls are an important part of landscaping because they allow you to level out a yard and that provides more usable space. And on a really steep slope, you can use multiple retaining walls. That’s going to create terraces and that’s going to give you a lot of space for plantings.
Roger, you have built a ton of these.
ROGER: I have, Kevin, and there’s two types of walls that the DIY-er can really get into to: one is a timber wall, which is made up of 4×4 or 6×6 pressure-treated timbers; and the other is a concrete block wall.
Now in the timber wall, you’re going to lay your first course in the ground. You’re going to drill a hole and you’re going to bang rerod down in the ground to anchor that first piece in place. The concrete walls are made so that you set the first piece level and every piece gets put right on top of it to build a wall.
KEVIN: And so what about additional support for either of these walls?
ROGER: Well, when a timber wall gets up above two feet tall, you have to put in deadmen. Those are tiebacks. They tie back the wall into the soil to keep it from leaning forward. The concrete blocks are made to go up to four feet. Once you get up to four feet, you have to put in a reinforcing grid behind the wall if you’re going to go any taller.
KEVIN: And we’ve got some good how-to videos about this.
ROGER: We do. We’ve got videos that show you both in every detail on how to build a wall at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: So would you guys say if you could handle building blocks as a kid, that you could build a retaining wall?
ROGER: I think the guy who designed them, that’s how he got started.
TOM: (laughs) Roger Cook, Kevin O’Connor, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Our pleasure.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know it really is an easy project and, in fact, a terraced yard, it just looks so beautiful. It really is gorgeous to have one in your backyard. And you know, we’re huge fans of making the outside of your house just as beautiful as the inside.
TOM: It’s a very worthwhile project and I tell you, when you need it, you absolutely need it because it’s the only way you’re going to get that usable space in your house.
If you’d like more tips on that project and so many others, head on over to ThisOldHouse.com and check out the great work of our friends Kevin O’Connor and Roger Cook. And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.
Well, up next we’ve got some ideas to help you store all those gadgets that seem to be piling up day by day in your house. We’ll give you some tips on how you can hide the clutter, after this. Let’s think about it. I’ve got a Blackberry.
LESLIE: Flat-screen TV.
LESLIE: Palm Pilot.
TOM: Couple of Game Boys.
LESLIE: Ugh, that’s a lot. (Tom chuckles)
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now because you’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question. But if you give us a call, you are going to get in on our weekly prize giveaway and this hour you could win the Stellar Sink by Blanco America. It’s an 18-gauge, stainless steel, under-mount sink. It comes in single or double. It’s worth 300 bucks. You want to check them out; visit BlancoAmerica.com. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.
TOM: Well, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average American family has no less than two dozen technological gadgets at home. And with the whole family toting around phones and music players and digital cameras and so much more …
LESLIE: Oh, God; we forgot cameras, even.
TOM: That’s right. How do you keep your wires from getting crossed? Couple of tips.
First, label all of your chargers so they don’t get mixed up. A label maker works great but so does tape and a marker. Think about plugging all your charges into a single surge protector that can be turned off when it’s not in use and this way you can prevent that vampire power leakage that’s always sort of trickling out and running up your electric bill. And also, use sections organizers to hold all the stuff; like a canvas shoe organizer works really well – with lots of pockets, it’s just perfect to store away all those little gadgets; all neatly in a place you’ll know where to find them next time you need to, I don’t know, send an e-mail message or whip out your DS and play a game with your kids.
LESLIE: (chuckles) Oh, my goodness.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you organize your home improvement project. Give us a call right now.
LESLIE: David in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is working on a tiling project. How can we help you get the job done?
DAVID: Well, first off, let me say I really enjoy your show. I’ve gotten a lot of good tips through the years.
TOM: Thanks, Dave.
DAVID: But what I’ve got is a concrete floor …
DAVID: … and it’s got some minor cracks in it; 1/8-inch cracks to 3/16 (inaudible at 0:26:41.1) crack in the concrete. One crack runs the length of the slab. And I built these things in 1996 but will they crack anymore or do you think the settling is done? And I’m leaning towards painting a membrane on them and the specs say about 30 mils thick, which is about the thickness of a credit card. Or there’s a roll of plastic type crack guard and another that’s rubber, that’s self-adhesive. Which is the best or are they all about the same to go over the existing cracks so that it doesn’t crack anymore?
TOM: Alright, so the membranes you’re looking at are specifically designed as anti-fracture membranes, correct?
DAVID: Yes, that’s correct.
TOM: OK. Well, the thing is that the floor is probably not going to crack anymore but it is going to expand and contract.
TOM: And that movement by itself can open up the tile joints. So it is a good idea to put down an anti-cracking, anti-fracture membrane. I am not familiar with the liquid type that you roll on. I’m more familiar with the sheet products.
TOM: And they do seem to work quite well and are definitely recommended when you’re going over a floor like that where you expect some movement.
DAVID: OK, let me ask you another question. Some people said I could leave the old vinyl down as long as I roughed it up and just took up what was loose and that would act as a crack guard. But I’m kind of the old school; I think you need to take it down to the concrete and then do a preventive [same way] (ph).
TOM: I wouldn’t want to trust the adhesive on the vinyl to hold my tile down. Because if you glue the tile to the vinyl and the vinyl adhesive releases, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to have tiles popping up all over the place. So you don’t want to mess with that. I think you want to make sure you have a really secure installation. So I’m kind of with you. In this case, I would pull up the tile til I got to a solid surface and then build it up from there.
DAVID: OK, I think that’s kind of the answer to the question. I know I need to protect that floor from those cracks, so I’ll go ahead and do what I need to do.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to head over to Tennessee and chat with Kenny about a roofing question. How can we help you?
KENNY: Hi. We live in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Get a lot of rain and snow and wind and …
KENNY: … we’re looking at replacing 15-year-old asphalt shingles on our roof within the next year or so.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
KENNY: Our question is a lot of people in our area have been replacing their shingles with metal roofing and we’re wondering what the advantages would be or if we need to just stick with what we’ve got.
TOM: Well, metal roofing is really what’s called investment-grade roofing. It lasts a lifetime. It’s very, very expensive; I’ll just tell you that. But it’s beautiful. It also can be more energy-efficient for your home because there are low-e coatings in the paint that actually reflects the sunlight; so in an area like Tennessee it will keep it a lot cooler in the summer.
LESLIE: And it can be cost-effective in the way that because the metal roof itself is so lightweight, you’re not going to have to remove the existing shingle underneath it – you can go right on top of that; where if you were to go with another asphalt shingle, depending on layers and depending on how long you’re going to be in the house, you would have to get rid of everything that was there.
TOM: Now, on the flip side, there’s nothing wrong with the asphalt shingles. If you’re concerned about storm-resistance, you can put in a shingle that’s wind-resistant. Owens Corning makes a shingle that can stand up to 130 mile-per-hour wind.
LESLIE: Now, do you happen to know what the lifespan is of the roof you already have up there? Because I know some of the asphalt shingles are 20, 30, 40, lifetime.
KENNY: These were 20-year.
KENNY: And they’ve held up fairly well. We have had a couple of winters that blew off several of them, you know, that we had to replace; so it’s kind of unsightly in those areas because of the fading of the color.
TOM: Alright. Well, it doesn’t sound like it’s an emergency at this stage.
TOM: You know, if you like the look of metal roofing and you want to make the investment, it’s great stuff. But if you’re just concerned about shingles and keeping them from blowing away, then I would use a better-quality shingle that’s designed to stand up that way.
KENNY: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: You know what? Before we let you go, just check out a website. It’s called MetalRoofing.com and that’s by the Metal Roofing Alliance and you can see their different installers, what it can look like, the different colors out available, learn about their energy efficiency. So, just you might want to visit there real fast before you make your decision.
KENNY: I’ll do that and thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, the new roof goes a long way to protect your home from the elements and help you conserve energy. Just make sure your contractor knows what they’re doing. We’re going to tell you what to look for when hiring a roofing pro, after this.
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: Hey, why not follow us on Facebook. We put lots of tips and advice and articles up on our Facebook fan page. Over 1,000 fans on that page right now and we really haven’t had it up all that long. We’d love for you to join us. It’s very simple. You simply text “Fan TheMoneyPit” – and “TheMoneyPit” is one word. Simply text “Fan TheMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 from your cell phone or your Blackberry or your iPhone and you will be instantly added as a fan to the Money Pit’s fan page.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Mm-hmm, more gadgets that we’re talking about now.
TOM: Yet another gadget. Well, we know you’ve got them, right? What did we say; two dozen is the average family household?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Two dozen each. My goodness.
And while you’re online, why not head on over to MoneyPit.com and you can e-mail us your question and I’ve got some here. We’ve got an e-mail from Francis who writes: “Recently, I had my roof redone with a 30-year, architectural-style shingle. After the roofing company completed the project, I noticed nails protruding along the eaves of my entire house on the underside of the roof. I assume that they used nails that were too long. My concern is rusting nails and also will there be any issues I need to be concerned about?”
TOM: No, and actually they probably could have used shorter ones there; so it’s just a little sloppiness on the part of the roofing contractor. But Francis, up in the attic space, those nails that are – it’s typical for the nails to protrude through the roof sheathing but I know you’re talking about an eave here. But if you spot these nails up in the attic space, those nails can actually be an indicator of whether or not you have too much moisture in the attic. Because in the 20-plus years I spent as a home inspector, we often would look at those nail tips to see if they were rusty because if they were, it was an indication that there was too much moisture in the attic and that perhaps you needed some additional attic ventilation. So they can actually be a bit of a moisture-detector as well. But just a bit of sloppy work there and nothing to worry about though. There are really no ill effects except for the cosmetics.
LESLIE: Alright, Chad from Iowa writes: “I purchased a farm house that was built in 1900. It has four rooms that appear to be added onto the home because they do not have the basement or any cement foundation under them; just dirt. The rooms are nearly useless because they are too hot and humid in the summer and way too cold in the winter. One of the rooms is a laundry room and the pipes always freeze. How do I make these rooms feel like rooms and the rest of the house?”
TOM: Yeah. Well, you’ve got quite a project in front of you there, Chad. Very often, in the old homes when they sort of patched on a room and patched on a room and patched on a room, you end up with the kind of messy situation that you have right now. What I would recommend is the best thing to do is to start with an energy audit. These are available, typically, from your local utility company or from an independent auditor and there are even tax credits available to help pay for them where a professional energy auditor can come in and really look at the structure, the way the rooms are set up, and give you some very specific recommendations on how you can make these rooms more comfortable. Because that’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about comfort so that it feels good; it doesn’t feel too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter; that your pipes don’t freeze.
Better to do that than just to start kind of going off willy-nilly and just tackling anything you think needs to be done because you may waste time, waste money doing a project that’s not as important to the end game here, which is to make that room more comfortable. So you can go to EnergyStar.gov; get lots more information on energy auditors. But again, contact your local utility company. That’s definitely the best place to start.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Don who writes: “I was wondering if it’s acceptable to drill a 6-1/2-inch hole through my rim joist to vent my new tankless water heater. It’s a direct-vent water heater and I was told that the person installing it needs to drill this large hole through the rim joist.”
TOM: That’s funny. You know, Leslie, when you build a new house, you know when you get your structural inspection done; your framing inspection? After the plumber leaves. (chuckles)
TOM: Because they love to drill holes in the different parts of the house. In this case, though, in a band joist or rim joist, I don’t think it’s a problem. And yes, with a direct-vent water heater, that is the appropriate thing to do; is to bring it out right through the side of the wall. And make sure you don’t terminate that vent anywhere near windows – there are rules about that – because you don’t want the gases to go back up into the house.
LESLIE: Alright, Don, I hope you enjoy that endless supply of hot water.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s about all the time we have. The show continues online, though, at MoneyPit.com.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2010 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 Prioductions, Inc.