Five Smart Outdoor Summer Projects, How to Extend Your Swimming Pool Season, Advice on Preparing for Severe Weather 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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. What are you working on? Pick up the phone – that’s your first project – and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Working outside? Working inside? Thinking ahead to projects you want to tackle this fall, this summer, this holiday season? Put them on our to-do list. Give us a call; let’s help you take that all-important first step.

    And speaking of first steps, there’s only a few weeks of summer left but plenty of time to take on one of our five smart summer outdoor projects. We’ve got some very doable, do-it-yourself ideas that will step up your backyard for this season and beyond.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, in a couple of weeks, you’re going to be getting ready to close up that pool for the winter. But there are ways that you can extend your pool season. We’re going to tell you how you can use solar power to heat your pool, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, late summer is a peak time of year for severe weather. Are you ready? We’ll hear from Army General Russel Honoré. And if that name is familiar, it might just be because he was the guy who was tasked with bringing the Gulf Coast back from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We’re going to find out why he says it is everyone’s responsibility to be their own first responder and what you can do to help yourself, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep, including the new Quick-Clean Disinfectant.

    TOM: And that prize pack is worth $50. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ben in Illinois on the line with a popcorn-ceiling question. How can we help you today?

    BEN: Got a probably 70s ranch-style home.

    TOM: 1970 was a very good year for popcorn.

    BEN: Yes, it was. They had this popcorn ceiling all the way in the TV room, uninterrupted, that goes through the kitchen.

    TOM: OK.

    BEN: And uninterrupted flow goes all the way down the hallway.

    TOM: OK. So what happened? Did you have a leak or something?

    BEN: Had some wind damage to some shingles and it came down through the attic. And it stained some of the popcorn ceiling in the TV room. I since put a new roof on but it – yeah, it stained it and some of the popcorn stuff came off.

    TOM: So, is the popcorn physically damaged except for losing a few kernels, so to speak?

    BEN: Well, there’s still a little bit of staining on the stuff that didn’t fall. But there’s some sections that did.

    TOM: You’re going to have to repaint the popcorn ceiling. And it’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job but it can be done. The key here is this: you want to use a very, very thick roller and one that’s slit. The rollers are about ¾-inch or even an inch thick and they have a slice, kind of, in them every inch or so. And so it uses a lot of paint.

    And the key thing is you’re going to want to use a primer first. Don’t just do this with topcoat, because that leak stain will come right through. So you prime the popcorn ceiling first and then you paint it.

    Now, if you’re missing a bunch of area of popcorn and you want to touch that up, there are a number of companies that make popcorn-repair products. One of it’s called Homax – H-o-m-a-x. And they have a spray where it’s as easy as using an aerosol spray-can that you basically shoot up there and it will replace the texture. So you can kind of fill in the area where some of that material has come off. And then, since you’re painting, you paint the whole thing over again.

    Now, whether you go from end to end in the house is up to you or whether you, you know, just kind of decide where you’re going to stop painting. That’s your call. Maybe there’s a natural place for that, maybe there’s not. But you have to paint it; that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get this to look normal again.

    And by the way, one final thing, when you do paint it with the topcoat, make sure you use flat ceiling paint.

    BEN: Gotcha. And I guess a two-prong question here, if I still have time. To fill in those spots where the popcorn ceiling came off, how do I avoid this major overlap if I use this aerosol spray that’s supposed to fill in?

    TOM: Well, you’re just going to kind of thin it out in the areas where it already exists and then go a little bit heavier. You have some control over it. It’s not going to look like a patch. It will be whiter than everything else but you’re going to paint this whole thing, anyway, when you’re done. So, what we want to do is really just replace the texture and then you’re going to paint everything. And so it’ll all blend in nicely when it’s done.

    BEN: OK. And I would plan on doing a transition: maybe a fancy wood deal that goes over to block that TV room ceiling off from where it goes into the kitchen. And I could connect it to the kitchen counters that extend out a little bit. That way I wouldn’t have to do the non-damaged sections and repaint them, as well.

    TOM: Why don’t you do that after you paint the section that’s damaged and see how you like it? Because you’re going to – you’ll be surprised with how dirty and dingy that ceiling has gotten when it has some new paint against it. It’s going to look pretty fresh and clean and might inspire you to do the whole thing.

    BEN: And that just might. That’s a very good point. I appreciate that very much, Tom.

    TOM: Three most expensive words in home improvement, my friend: might as well.

    BEN: You got it right, brother. OK. Well, you got me motivated.

    TOM: Sounds good. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Darlene in Iowa is on the line who’s got a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.

    DARLENE: I have got a three-season room that was built onto the house that I purchased and it was attached to the original home. And I’ve been fighting with a leak in that area. And I used some Black Jack for a sealant where the shingles come over onto the three-season room area. It’s a flat roof.

    TOM: So, I think that what’s happened here, Darlene, is that the junction between the three-season room and the roof was probably not correctly done. The Black Jack stuff you are talking about is, obviously, a temporary, coal-tar patch type of a product. And that might give you a short-term solution but it definitely will not give you a long-term solution.

    If you’re having this kind of a long-term problem, what I would do is I would take the roof apart at the intersection between the three-season room and the main roof and then I would reinstall it, making sure that I address whatever the imperfection is.

    So, I suspect that since it might have been added after the fact, that it wasn’t flashed correctly. So, if you were to pull that off and use ice-and-water shield, which is like this rubberized material, under that junction between the three-season room and then the main roof and go up from there and make sure everything overlaps properly so that the water runs down and not back up, that will solve it.

    But short of doing that, you’re only going to be making very small gains in terms of slowing down this leak. So I would encourage you to stop using the temporary patch material, to take the roof apart and then fix it right so that you won’t have to be bothered with it again. Because if you don’t, there could be long-term problems: it could cause rot to the roof sheathing, as well. Even though you don’t see the water below, it could be leaking very slowly into the roof sheathing. So that’s the way to fix it once, fix it right and not have to worry about it again.

    Darlene, 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 Now, you can call in your home repair, your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’d love to give you hand with whatever you are working on at your money pit. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, sad to see the days spent by the pool coming to an end? Learn how to use the sun to heat your pool and extend that swimming season just a few more weeks. We’ll have that information, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at

    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: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and you’ll get your name tossed into The Money Pit hard hat for our giveaway this hour: the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial. It features Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose home cleaning product that you can use on most nonporous surfaces. And it’s going to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and kills most viruses in under 2 minutes, making it perfect for the kitchen and bathroom.

    Visit and you can learn more about it. The number to call here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Laurie in Illinois is on the line and needs some help cleaning a bathtub. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAURIE: We have had problems cleaning the surface – the bottom surface – of our bathtub since we moved in. All of our bathtubs have a rough surface. And I’ve tried every product I can think of and we cannot clean them.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: So I need some help with that.

    TOM: OK. So, is the surface still rough now or is it – just seems to be stained?

    LAURIE: No, it’s rough.

    TOM: It’s rough. Is it textured or do you think it’s like an adhesive kind of a roughness?

    LAURIE: Well, it’s – I think it’s textured.

    TOM: What you might be seeing here, Laurie, is a change in the color of the porcelain just from years of sort of wear and tear.


    TOM: Sometimes, it will look like a stain but in reality, the surface is really just worn. And you can clean until the cows come home and it’s not going to get any brighter.


    TOM: So what are your options? So, you could refinish the tub but when you try to refinish a tub in place, it’s kind of a temporary fix. It can look bright and clean for a while but the refinishing just doesn’t last as long as the original porcelain.


    TOM: Or you can consider a process like Bath Fitter, where they come into your house and in one day, they sort of create a whole new tub for you by dropping a custom-formed insert into that tub.

    LAURIE: Right.

    TOM: It covers all of the surfaces kind of like a glove. They seal the walls. It’s all one piece. It looks great and it’s kind of easy to clean and you’re pretty much done with it after that.

    LAURIE: OK. So there’s no cleaner that would actually clean it, you don’t think?

    TOM: And the reason – because I don’t think it’s dirt. I think it’s most likely to be evidence of the finish itself wearing.

    LAURIE: OK, OK. Well, I guess that I’ll have to go that route, then. And I certainly thank you for your help and I’ll see what I can do.

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

    LAURIE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Tennessee on the line who needs help with some sinkholes.

    Bill, tell us what’s going on.

    BILL: I’ve got a patio in the backyard and at the end of my patio, I’ve got two huge sinkholes and then another sinkhole at the corner of my house. And this has been going on for about a year, year-and-a-half. They’re about 5 feet deep and – I don’t know – the circumference of about a manhole cover.

    And just wanted to know what’s the cheapest and best way to take care of it where it doesn’t keep on happening. My patio is actually cracking where it’s sinking down a little bit.

    TOM: So over the course of a year, these holes have revealed themselves?

    BILL: For about the last year-and-a-half is when they started happening.

    TOM: So very slowly but surely. And how old is this house?

    BILL: About 15 years old.

    TOM: Well, I mean it could be the result of loose fill that was put in these areas around the house when the home was finished – created, when it was done.

    BILL: Right.

    TOM: It could be the result of that. It could also be the result of some decaying material, like old trees or things like that that are in there.

    Do you have any concern about it continuing to happen or do you think it’s pretty much done?

    BILL: It’s pretty much done, it looks like, and …

    TOM: So what I would do is I would fill those areas with clean fill dirt and that’s the most inexpensive dirt that you can buy. And then, you want to tamp it down really well. So you put a little bit in, you tamp it, you put some more in, you tamp it. And then you finish it off with topsoil. And because it’s a sunken area, I would almost overfill it a little bit, because it’s going to settle down flat.

    BILL: And what if it – like a year from now, it starts happening again?

    TOM: Yeah, well, if that’s the case and it starts happening again, then at that point I would have to recommend that you got an engineer in to take a look at it, to see if we could figure out what was going on with the soils. You may need to do some borings around there to try to determine what’s in the ground and why it’s sinking.

    BILL: OK. Well, that sounds great.

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

    Well, if you have a pool, you already know that nothing keeps the water warmer than the power of the sun. But there’s a lot more that you can do to exploit that 100-percent-free solar power, especially as the weather gets a bit cooler.

    LESLIE: Yeah. One way is by using a solar pool cover that can hold in the heat during the night when evaporative losses can actually cool the water temperature. And solar pool covers can increase the average temperature of your pool by 4 to 5 degrees. That’s a lot.

    TOM: It is. And it’s also a good idea to expose your pool to full sunlight during the day. So if you look around your yard and you find that the trees are casting a bit of shade in the pool, it’s a good idea to trim those trees to reduce those shadows.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you want to invest in something that’s long-term, you can consider an electric pool heater that will use solar energy to actually power the heater. And this kind of system is a relatively new way of heating pools but it’s really growing in popularity.

    TOM: You have a pool, you got a patio question, you got any question, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Betty in South Carolina has got a concrete issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    BETTY: We have a 5/8-inch crack between our concrete garage floor and the concrete turnaround outside – the apron outside the garage.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    BETTY: It has nothing to do with the garage door. Thirty-nine years ago, when the house was built, we think that they used a fiberboard of some type in this joint because – for expansion and contraction. Now, that has deteriorated down, maybe down about an inch or so. And we would like to fill that crack. What do we fill that with?

    TOM: OK. So it’s not really a crack; it’s really just a gap where you had a separation between the two different pieces.

    BETTY: Yes. It was built that way.

    TOM: Right, OK. So, you’re going to use a flowable crack filler. And QUIKRETE makes those – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. Their website is

    Basically, what you do is you clean out that space. You’re going to get it down an inch or two and then if it – then what you would probably do is put a backer rod in it, which is sort of this foam tube that will hold the filler exactly where you want it. And then you apply the filler on top and it flows to be nice and even across that gap. And then it dries in about 24 hours and that’s all there is to it. It’s really a pretty simple home improvement project.

    BETTY: OK.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to North Carolina where Reba is dealing with a spider problem. Blah. What’s going on?

    REBA: I have moved into a brand-new set of apartments and there are just spiders everywhere. They have a lot of mulch around our apartments and – where they’ve planted new flowers and such. But there are some tiny spiders that are little black spiders and then there’s brown spiders that are as big as quarters. They’re the fastest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life.

    TOM: Oh, boy. And the brown spiders that are as big as quarters, they sound like brown recluse spiders, which can bite. So those we don’t like at all.

    REBA: Right. But I have tried – I have bought stuff from Lowe’s. I’ve sprayed all kinds of stuff all inside my house and all around the outside but they’re impossible to get rid of.

    TOM: So, I hate to say this but have you considered hiring a professional? I know you’re probably saving some money. But whenever I hear somebody is buying lots and lots of pesticide and spraying it inside the house and spraying it outside the house, I’m kind of of the opinion that by the time you do all that, you’ve exposed yourself to so much excess pesticide that you would have been better off just having a pro come in, because they can buy stuff that you can’t buy.

    Plus, they’re specifically trained on where to put the insecticide, how much to put. And also, the insecticides today are very specific and they remove only the insects that they’re supposed to remove. And they don’t remove the beneficial insects that you want to leave behind.

    So if you’re having that much of an infestation, I would stop shopping for my own pesticide and call a pro and have them treat the house. And once you get the populations down to where they’re manageable, kind of more normal, then you could try to use some of those other products just on a maintenance basis. Does that make sense?

    REBA: It sure does. But here’s the only question: when everybody else is having the same problem and the mulch is all around the whole entire neighborhood, is just me spraying going to help? Is it going to stop it?

    TOM: Well, yeah, it’ll create sort of a barrier around your place. But let me ask you, is this an apartment you rent or is this a townhouse? What’s the form?

    REBA: This is like – they just built this whole neighborhood of new apartments. There’s like 43 apartments.

    TOM: So they’re rental apartments?

    REBA: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So, if you get the exterminator out there and they tell you that you’ve got something like a brown recluse spider there and you bring that to the attention of the rental agent, I’d think you’d give them plenty of reason to treat the whole apartment complex and not ignore them to the point where people and kids start getting bitten.

    REBA: OK. I thank you for your information.

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

    LESLIE: Well, summer brings severe weather in many forms and you’ve got to love all of them. Tornadoes, hurricanes, even just a bad thunderstorm, those can damage your homes and it can even knock out power.

    TOM: Learn what you can do to be prepared for severe weather, from one of the most knowledgeable experts in the nation: General Russel Honoré, the very guy who helped bring back the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, it’s summer storm season and no matter where you live, everyone is susceptible to severe storms. Hurricanes, tornadoes and even bad thunderstorms can cause damage and knock out power.

    TOM: Our next guest knows very well what Mother Nature is capable of. General Russel Honoré led Task Force Katrina after the devastating Gulf Coast hurricane in 2005. And he joins us now on behalf of KOHLER Generators.

    So, General, you say that you are your own first responder. What does that exactly mean?

    RUSSEL: Well, as we saw during Katrina and we saw during Hurricane Sandy and numerous other events, from earthquakes out in California to tsunamis in Japan, for those first days and hours, in many cases you had to take care of yourself. So I tell people to prepare prior to a disaster like you’re going to be your own first responder. Because the life you may save is your own and that of your neighbor. So being prepared is key to understanding that on any given day, Mother Nature can break anything built by man.

    TOM: That’s a great point because I think we tend to get a bit lackadaisical about that prep. And of course, we very often don’t have any warning or very little warning to be able to do that after the fact.

    So, let’s talk about short-term and long-term. In terms of long-term preparations, I know that you’re representing KOHLER Generators. Leslie and I are both big believers in standby power. Since Hurricane Katrina, these devices have become far more accessible and affordable to the general public, right?

    RUSSEL: If you have a generator, you may be able to do something that – what I think is the ultimate human experience. And that’s not only to save your family’s life but you could save someone else’s life who has a serious medical condition. And these are following a bad disaster. And because when we lose power today, it sets back the way we live 100 years. You know, 100 years ago, most families didn’t – many families didn’t have power. But they weren’t as dependent, the ones that did.

    Today, many of our people – because we live in big cities and urban areas, we’re dependent on power. In many cases, many of the windows don’t open in buildings we live in and even in some homes on the upper floors. So, to have a standby generator will give you that capacity to shelter in place. So it is a part of the investment that you put in your home if you’re just talking about, well, living in this house. But if you want to make it a home, you ought to be able to shelter in it.

    And it ought to – it should be a part of your plan to have a capacity to live in your home with the generator power. Because we put a man on the moon but we haven’t developed a transformer that a squirrel can’t trip. I mean we can sit there and the power could go out. And I say that with humor but we know the big things that happen – like in Katrina, we didn’t have power from Florida all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. And that was a devastating event.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And we were greatly affected by Sandy here in the Northeast, where both Tom and I live. And personally, we were without power for 18 days, which doesn’t seem like a long time. But I had just come home with a newborn and it’s a lot when there is no power in your home and you’re trying to take care of a baby and a small child. It’s difficult.

    So a standby generator – Tom and I both have KOHLER units ourselves. And having a standby generator in the home – granted, I haven’t had it kick on but knowing that it’s there and knowing that I have the peace of mind is a huge comfort. It really is so comforting to know that we’ll be OK. Plus, I’ve told all of my friends, “Buy an air mattress. You are more than welcome.”

    TOM: And I’m just north of where Ground Zero was for Hurricane Sandy and we were without power for, well, quite a while. But not – but I was with power. I had – my standby generator basically ran 9 days straight, 24/7, and kept the house powered, kept the studio powered, as well, so that we were able to stay on the air and speak to our listeners that needed our help.

    RUSSEL: And having one in the family is a big deal. Because anybody that’s around can come to you, as well as friends, and you can be a help to other people. And at the end of the day, it’s good for your family and good for the people that know you that have one. Because with that one generator, you can bring a lot of comfort and in some cases save people’s lives, because they can’t live without assistance from air and to keep their medicine safe.

    TOM: We’re talking to General Russel Honoré. He led Task Force Katrina after the devastating Gulf Coast hurricane in 2005.

    General, aside from having the generator, you also recommend a few first steps to get yourself prepared for a weather disaster. First off is to think ahead in terms of your evacuation route.

    RUSSEL: Think about evacuation, because the best place to be when a storm’s coming is somewhere else. So figure out how you’re going to get away from it. But you have to listen to local authorities, too. And if you’re not in that cone of uncertainty there – get out of it if you are and move away from it. It’s best to move away if you can.

    But in many cases, we’ve got to stay because the threat isn’t that big. But even a Category 1 storm can turn the lights out. When Sandy came ashore, it wasn’t even a Category 1; it’d been downgraded to a superstorm. But they can turn the lights out. And when the lights go out, it’s a game changer because – as well as will close the roads. Because up in the Northeast, I don’t think you all ever saw a tree you didn’t like. And trees and power lines don’t get along too good. And the – when the power goes out, it goes from an inconvenience to a disaster within hours.

    LESLIE: I mean you’re right. The other thing that I think people don’t keep in consideration, especially in areas where we’re not that used to having storms or long durations of being without power, is supplies that you might need, being it food and water. So how many days do we need to think about having supplies on hand to eat and be hydrated? And how much per person?

    RUSSEL: Well, the conventional wisdom is three to five days’ supply of food and water and there are many estimates. I like the Red Cross one. If you got to, everybody else kind of follows what they do. And they’ve been at this a long time advising people. And that’s where I would go. And again, its That’s who I help and volunteer with in my spare time. And they have a great list of products that one may look at, with great suggestions.

    And of course, with the internet, they’re based on the time of the year for winter time and very (inaudible at 0:27:13) you ought to restock your kit, make sure you have – and then when your car – because, as you probably saw or some of you listeners might have experienced, those Northeasterners that you all get and the ice storms can get you trapped out on the road for many days.

    So, it’s not just the home. We’ve got to be thinking about this where we live, where we work and in between.

    TOM: Well, that’s terrific advice. We’re talking to General Russel Honoré. He led Task Force Katrina after the devastating Gulf Coast hurricane in 2005.

    General, we’re coming up on the almost 10-year anniversary here for Hurricane Katrina. I’ve got to ask you, what was it like those first few days you were on site?

    RUSSEL: It was a very, very emotional thing to see this happen in our country, where this act of Mother Nature had basically paralyzed the whole region by two things: we had flood, we had over a quarter-million homes in and around New Orleans underwater and there was no electricity from Florida and all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Along the coast, I used to fly it every night. There were no lights on. And the impact of that caused even the first responders themselves to be victims. And that’s the multiplying effect of a major disaster is when the first responders become victims, because then they can’t take care of themselves because they’re taking care of the families. Which is the ultimate thing that can happen in a major disaster.

    TOM: And as you said, it’s important to be your own first responder and certainly, getting a backup generator by KOHLER is a great way to start.

    General Honoré, thank you for your service, sir. And thank you so much for taking some time with us today.

    RUSSEL: And thanks for taking the message to the people. Let’s get ready. On any given day, Mother Nature can bring us something.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, we’re going to give you guys some advice on five top summer smart projects that will help you take your backyard out of the atmosphere. We’re talking a really cool backyard space with some very simple ideas, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want to hear what you are working on, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, we can give you a hand with what you’re working on but we’re also going to put your name into The Money Pit hard hat for our giveaway this hour. And we’ve got up for grabs the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial. And it features Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.

    TOM: The Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose home cleaning product that you can use on most nonporous surfaces. It kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and it kills most viruses in under 2 minutes, making it perfect for the kitchen and the bath.

    LESLIE: Visit and you can learn more there. And of course, the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT,

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: So if you’ve been enjoying the summer season in your backyard and perhaps thinking about some improvements that you can make to really take advantage of your outdoor space, we’ve got five smart summer projects to help. All of them perfectly do-it-yourself friendly.

    TOM: And the first one is to consider building a paver patio. These have become so much more accessible because you can buy brick pavers, you can use natural stone and even cement pavers. And they’re all do-it-yourself projects.

    They’re simple to install. The key is to create a really solid base of stone and sand. You simply excavate that area, add the stone – usually a mixed gravel – and tamp it down really well. Add a little bit of sand, put the pavers on top of that and then you fill it in with some sand between the joints. So it’s really not difficult. It does take several hours but it’s easy to do and it really looks terrific.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you rent a commercial tamper, those things are awesome and they work fantastic.

    Alright. Now that you’ve got that space set up and you’ve defined your outdoor area, why not think about making that space more comfortable? More like an outdoor room with some furnishings and accessories.

    The key here is to look for all-season furnishings – upholstered and weather-resistant fabrics and weather-resistant foam on the interior, as well – decorative pillows, outdoor rugs. There’s accents such as artwork, mirrors, even statuary and water features: so many things that are made specifically for your outdoor space that will thrive in the exterior spaces.

    TOM: Now, you can also design an easy-care vegetable garden. You can use a compact raised bed or a collection of containers, if you’re space-limited, to create that vegetable garden. And that will give you a bounty of fresh produce. Fall veggies also work well if it’s not too late to plant cabbage and squashes, like even pumpkins.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You can also get creative with exterior lightscaping. You know, a well-designed exterior lighting scheme will light up your yard’s best features while also extending your time outdoors and of course, enhancing your home security. You want to look for low-voltage units made of durable materials, like copper or brass.

    TOM: And finally, think about adding a fireplace, which has really become the centerpiece of outdoor living. Lots of options. You can go with something that’s like a simple, portable fire pit or you can do a custom-built structure. A fireplace is really going to be that one element that lends ambiance and creates a focal point for gatherings.

    And we would love to gather with you, right here, on The Money Pit Radio Show. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Coming up, we talked about how cool it would be to have an outdoor fireplace but what do you do with your indoor fireplace during the off-season? Well, you can dress it up, of course, so you’ve got something beautiful to look at when that fire isn’t roaring. We’re going to tell you how, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Raid. The Raid Defense System uses a combination of products and tips that work together to better battle bugs in your home. Each system is customized so you can confidently attack, control, and prevent bugs. Visit

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And Tom and I make up the official Money Pit team but we want you to be part of The Money Pit community. We want to hear all about your great project ideas. We’ve got information and advice from your fellow do-it-yourselfers posted there. Tom and I are always contributing. So you can get a lot of great information from The Money Pit community. And you can also post pictures that you can share on Facebook. It’s all in the Community section of

    And of course, you can post your question in the Community section, just like Lisa in Nebraska did who writes: “I am a new, first-time homeowner. I’m going to change all the paint colors inside and I can’t figure out what finishes to use. I have kids who love to make messes” – join the club – “and which finish is the easiest to clean?”

    TOM: Before we answer the finish question, Lisa, I have to just throw this out there, because I spent 20 years as a home inspector and I met lots and lots of first-time homeowners. And the tendency is to go into a house and change everything about it. All the reasons you bought it, just change it all; paint the whole thing.

    I would suggest that you just do maybe one room at a time, because two things will happen: either the desire to change will get stronger and you’ll do it or you’re going to save yourself a boatload of work.

    Now, if you’re going to paint you basically have four choices: flat, high-gloss, semi-gloss and eggshell. So, two things. Number one, buy the best paint you can afford. Really important to use good paint. Don’t buy cheap paint; you will really regret it. And secondly, with kids, on all the walls I would use a low-luster paint – eggshell or a low-luster like that – because it’s more cleanable. The least I would do is use scrubbable flat but that’s kind of what – that’s just a very minor amount of sheen. Don’t use to much sheen or you’ll see every single defect in the wall.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Lisa? Invest in magic erasers. They are a messy child’s best friend.

    TOM: So, you’ve been staring at that big, black hole that is your fireplace all summer and you just can’t figure out how to make it more appealing to look at without that roaring fire. You know, just because you’re not using your fireplace doesn’t mean it can’t look good. Leslie has tips to dress up your hearth, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. A fireplace that’s not being used can sometimes just become an eyesore in your space. But there are some great ways that you can dress it up and then make it part of your décor scheme. So, why not think of replacing those logs with a group of large pillar candles or even a stylish candle holder? Even when they’re not lit, the candles will just add a nice touch. I like to sort of stagger them in height and width and really make an interesting grouping. And if you do burn them, sort of let the wax kind of drip over and look kind of messy, because I think that could look also pretty cool.

    Now, you can also think about putting fresh flowers or a nice plant in there. Ferns will do well in the shade and they also add a punch of life to your room. And of course, I love green. Green is a great accent color to any space. So take advantage of bringing some beautiful, seasonal greenery into your house, into a space that’s normally just a dark hole.

    And finally, consider a really beautiful fireplace screen. Now, you can make a screen with plywood and paint and you can personalize it any way that you like. I actually, for an episode of Hotel Impossible, in the off-season, found a great fireplace screen at a local store that had these little holders built all around the front for little votive candles. And I took the glass holder and instead of putting just a votive in there for the off-season, I actually filled it with a little bit of dirt and a really small fern. And so there ended up being 9 or 12 of them over the 4 panels. And it looked really interesting and fresh and bright.

    So if you think of doing something seasonal rather than something dreary with that space during the off-season, you can have something really beautiful in a space that you just might overlook this time of year.

    TOM: Great advice. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, the original bath vanity consisted of a piece of furniture with a bowl on top. Now, this look is making a big comeback. We’re going to have tips on how you can create this type of bath vanity from found pieces on a budget, next time on 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.


    (Copyright 2014 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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