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Fixing Your Home for the Visually Impaired, Home Repairs in Less Than 30 Minutes, How To Tackle a Woodworking Project 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: Welcome to this hour of the program. Pick up the phone and let us help you get your homework done. And we’re not talking about the stuff that you do after school, if you’re still in some sort of a school. No, we’re talking about the real homework: the work that’s required to take care of your home and to make sure it doesn’t become a real-life money pit. Pick up the phone and call us and let’s talk about your projects. 888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number, 888-666-3974.

    Well, you know, it’s leap year and because it’s leap year, we gain an entire extra day on the calendar. How many times have you wished for that, right? Just one more day to get it done? We figure that you probably should use that day to become an avid DIYer. So, this hour, we’re going to give you some simple, guaranteed-successful projects that you can do, even if you’ve never picked up a tool before, even if you wonder which end of the hammer you strike with. Not to worry, we’re going to help you get going with your projects, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: And if you live in an older home, you might have plaster walls. They can be beautiful but we all know that while they can last for decades, they do need some extra TLC from time to time. So we are going to have This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva, because he has seen his fair share of plaster repairs and then some. He’s going to join us a little later with some tips on plaster care and maintenance.

    TOM: And are you planning to have guests over to watch the Academy Awards but perhaps your house is not exactly Oscar-ready? Not a problem. We’re going to have some tips to help you lay out your own red-carpet welcome, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great solution to both your seating and storage problems. It’s a ClosetMaid bench, along with fabric drawer bins, that neatly tuck inside and then can hide shoes, clutter, whatever you want. Nobody’s looking. And it’s a prize worth $81.

    TOM: It’s a really cool product. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us this hour with their home improvement question. So, pick up the phone and make that caller you. The number is 888-666-3974. Let’s get started.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Roger in Michigan is on the line and he’s dealing with some issues with the siding on his home. How can we help you?

    ROGER: Yes. I have a problem that I think is a severe case of condensation. But I am getting dripping on the siding that starts almost at the very top and it drips down, in severe cases, all the way down to the bottom, close to the ground. There are weep holes, obviously, in the siding but it appears as though it’s occurring in places that are – where there are no weep holes.

    TOM: Yeah. It sounds to me like the wall isn’t very well insulated, too, because you’re getting warm, moist air behind the siding, which is cooling and then condensing and then releasing its moisture.

    ROGER: Right. No, the wall does have bad insulation and it is a 6-inch wall. However, obviously, if it’s condensation – but my main concern is: is this going to be causing rot eventually?

    TOM: Hmm. Wow. Well, what’s under the wall right now? What kind of vapor barrier do you have?

    ROGER: None.

    TOM: None. Hmm. Well, then the wall’s getting wet. So the answer is, yes, potentially it could cause decay, it could cause mold. It depends on how much moisture is getting in there.

    This is a very odd situation and one that’s going to need some further investigation, Roger. I’m going to make a suggestion to you and that is that you consider researching to find the best home inspector in your area and have what’s called a partial inspection done of this one problem.

    Now, I’ll tell you how to do that. Go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. They have an inspector locator there. Put in your zip code and you’ll get returned to you a group of inspectors. You want to make sure that you find the most experienced inspectors in that group. I think they call them “certified members.” And call two or three of those guys, tell them what’s going on and ask them if it’s the kind of thing that they could diagnose for you and perhaps prescribe a solution.

    Because for some reason, we’re getting moisture and humidity behind that wall. You say it’s a thick wall, you say it’s an insulated wall. I can guarantee you that there’s some defect in the way that wall was put together and at least you’ll get to the bottom of it and figure out what your next step is. Because if there is no vapor barrier, it is going to be an issue and we want to try to address that.

    And it might be that you have to replace the siding but I don’t want to start telling you to do things until we get some eyes on the ground there looking exactly at that wall.

    ROGER: Alright.

    TOM: OK?

    ROGER: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Ann in Georgia, you are on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ANN: Well, my house was built back in the 60s and I know now when they put up drywall, they use drywall screws.

    TOM: Yep.

    ANN: But back then, they used a hammer.

    TOM: Yep. And nails, mm-hmm.

    ANN: And I’ve got these dings on the walls and the ceiling. And I’ve tried to put spackle over the top of them and scrape it off and sand it and then paint it and there they are; they come right back again. Is there anything I can do to sort of cover it or do I have to take down all the drywall?

    LESLIE: No, no. Are you sure it’s a hammer ding and not a nail pop? Does it seem like it’s raised or does it seem like it’s recessed?

    ANN: They’re recessed.

    TOM: They’re recessed. OK.

    So, the solution here is spackling but it’s not just a one-shot thing. What you want to do is put multiple coats of spackle on, Ann. So you start – and you can go out to a home center or a hardware store and you can buy plastic spackle knives that are basically disposable.

    So you start out with one that’s about 2 inches, then you go to one that’s about 4 or 5 inches, then you go with one that’s like 6 or 8-inches wide. And if you put on three layers like that, you’ll fill it in, it’ll be absolutely flat.

    But you can’t just stop there. If you’re going to start doing this around the house, you’re going to have to repaint all of those surfaces and you should prime them first. Because if not, you’re going to get different absorption between the areas that were newly spackled and the old ones. And that will result in sort of like a weird kind of glazing or sort of shade difference with the way the paint kind of takes.

    ANN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Alright? Now, if you have one that looks like it’s cracked – what Leslie was talking about are called “nail pops” – and frankly, that’s much more likely than the dents you’re describing, unless you just happen to have a really over-aggressive guy with a hammer that put that thing together back in the 60s.

    LESLIE: Those dents are haunting you 50 years later.

    ANN: I know.

    TOM: Yeah. The nail pops, you could put another nail next to the one that’s sort of stuck out and drive it in. And that – the second nail will hold in the first nail. But remember, it’s really key that you sand, prime and paint to make this all go away.

    And lastly, the type of paint you use is critical. Make sure you use flat paint; do not use anything with a sheen. Because when you put something with a sheen on a wall, any defect in the wall becomes magnified when the light hits it.

    ANN: Well, that’s great advice.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you with all of your home improvement moments, projects, disasters. Whatever is going on at your money pit, we are here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is this you: your ceiling’s leaking, your paint is chipping, your gutters are falling off? Well, if it is, it’s time to take the leap. Use this leap year to leap into DIY projects. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you pick up the phone and dial that number, 888-666-3974, you might just win a great storage solution that we’re giving away this hour from ClosetMaid. It’s the ClosetMaid Cubeicals 3-Cube Storage Bench. It comes with three fabric bins. It’s great for the front door or even the end of the bed.

    It’s worth 81 bucks. Going to go out to one caller, though, that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Cecily in Iowa is on the line with a wallpaper conundrum. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CECILY: Well, I have a probably 24-year-old townhome that I think the paper has been on the wall since – for that long.

    TOM: It was popular back then.

    CECILY: Yeah, yeah. Back then.

    I’m just wondering – person I had in here tried to, where the wallpaper butts up against the ceiling, there’s – it looks like a bad job and there’s some marks. And he thought he could wipe it down and everywhere he wiped it down, there’s like a watermark all along where he – looks like icicles: an uneven line of watermark.

    And I don’t know if it can – I’ve been told you can paint over it. I mean we have vaulted ceilings; it’s a lot of paper. And I don’t know how you would – if what – they took it off. There’s actually some posts papered with it and I don’t know what’s underneath.

    TOM: I think the answer is you can remove it. It’s a lot of work, like any type of wallpaper.

    CECILY: Right.

    TOM: If you want to paint over it, it’s going to look like the wallpaper underneath.

    LESLIE: Textured paint.

    TOM: It’s going to look textured underneath. So, if you want to do like a really inexpensive, short-term fix, you could paint over it. I would recommend that you use a very thick roller on that because otherwise, it’s going to be very hard to get the paint in where it has to go. And maybe you might even need to use a slitted roller: the kind of roller that we use on textured ceilings where it has actually sort of slots in it. Because it really gets in and around and thick and will sort of fill out that whole surface with paint.

    CECILY: Mm-hmm. Is it terribly difficult to remove?

    LESLIE: It depends on how long it’s been there, what the prep process was to the wall below the paper. All of those can add up to an easy job or a tremendously difficult job. And it’s one of those things that you don’t know until you try. And there are ways to do it.

    Now, with a textured wall covering like this, whether it’s grass cloth or the string cloth, you can try to use a store-bought wallpaper remover, you can use a steamer, you can do homemade concoctions. One is white vinegar and hot water, another is fabric softener and hot water. Both situations, you super-saturate the walls and just sort of let it sit there for a few minutes. I’ve even heard of clothing starch with hot water and making a paste onto the wallpaper.

    And I’ve used the fabric softener and that does work. That was a traditional vinyl, which I had to score first. But I’ve also heard with grass cloths, that you can take a paint scraper and scrape the actual string cloth or the grass cloth off of the backing, so that might make it easier to remove. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of work and you never know what’s behind it. You could get everything off and the wall could be so textured and dinged up that you end up having to put a layer of drywall over it anyway.

    CECILY: Ah, OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. That’s very helpful and I’m glad I called.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s leap year and that means a whole host of things: let’s see, the Summer Olympics, a presidential election and an extra day for most people. But for us, it’s an extra chance for us to encourage you to leap into home improvement.

    Now, if you’re still cutting your teeth – you know, learning your ways around the tool shed – here are some things that you can do yourself that are going to help you save some big money. You can repair a leaking toilet. The supplies are only going to cost you a few dollars and save tons on your water bill.

    Also, you can think about installing water-efficient bathroom devices, like a dual-flush system. And these aren’t hard at all to put in and your savings will be immediate.

    TOM: And there are those things that you really should be doing but maybe haven’t done in a while. For example, why not make this the week you change your HVAC filter?

    Now, in all the years I was a professional home inspector, Leslie, this scenario used to always come up: I would open up the furnace to inspect it and all the dust would just fall out into a cloud but they’d have a really nice, neat, new, shining filter. You see, you don’t just change the filter when the inspector is showing up. No, you have to change the filter every month. Once a month, especially if you have those fiberglass filters.

    And it’s really easy to do. You just need to be careful when you put it back in. Take a look. There’s a little arrow on the filter that points in the direction of airflow. Make sure you get that done correct. Another thing that needs to be cleaned is your dryer-exhaust duct. The lint piles up in there and it can be super-dangerous.

    So, another simple project that you could take on and maybe you can use this weekend as a chance to go a bit more green in your house. Why not take out some of those inefficient incandescent bulbs and switch out a few fixtures with some energy-efficient LEDs or CFL bulbs?

    See? Very simple. Break it down into little, bite-sized pieces and anybody can be a DIYer. It’s as easy as that. If you want some more tips and ways to get into the DIY lifestyle, just Google “money pit easy home renovations.” Got lots of tips, lots of ideas right there on our website.

    LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina is on the line with a showerhead question. What can we do for you?

    MARK: Yes. My wife has been after me for several years. She said that the pressure coming out of our shower nozzle just can’t get the shampoo out of her hair. And I put four different shower nozzles on there. I had a plumber that actually went out to the line out at the street, where we tapped into the line, and they’re all saying there’s nothing I can do. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    TOM: Mark, do you have hard water?

    MARK: I don’t know. How do you know if you have hard water?

    TOM: Because you have hard water, that’s exactly what it would feel like: it would feel like you can’t get your …

    LESLIE: It makes it feel like you can’t get the shampoo or the soap off.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Do you have well water or do you have city water?

    MARK: City water.

    TOM: Are there any other showers in the house that she uses and seems to work fine?

    MARK: No. She went to the other shower and said that didn’t work either. So I kept changing out the shower nozzles. Nothing seems to work.

    TOM: Yeah, you might want to get a water test done, because that’s exactly the symptom of a hard-water problem that you described.

    MARK: Hard water. OK.

    TOM: Yeah. And then you could – there’s a number of ways that you could put water softeners in and that will make that go away.

    Now, in terms of the showerhead itself, yeah, the newer, water-efficient showerheads, there are some folks that complain about not having enough water in there.

    MARK: Yeah.

    TOM: But I will say that the better ones seem to have engineered that out.

    Like, for example, I know Moen has a couple of different ones that are available, that have multiple settings. And they’ve engineered these so that you get a good spread of water across the showerhead but you still have the water savings.

    MARK: OK. Moen. Got that.

    TOM: Yeah. Check the hardware out. Then take a look at the better showerheads, like the ones by Moen. Those are really terrific. And I’ve got one, actually, in a shower upstairs that’s like a rain shower, kind of wide head. And it works great.

    MARK: Well, that’s a good suggestion. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Jeannie in Colorado is working on a construction project. How can we help?

    JEANNIE: Hi. We sure are. We’re putting all-new windows in and we’ve got them – hello, by the way.

    TOM: Well, that’s exciting.

    LESLIE: Great.

    JEANNIE: Sorry about that.

    TOM: Hello.

    LESLIE: Hi.

    JEANNIE: So we put windows all around but in the living room, which is a large window, we were thinking about one of those – I guess it’s not a bay window but the kind that extend out, like a garden window?

    TOM: OK.

    JEANNIE: And it’d be so nice to have a little window seat there but I am wondering, does that need to actually have a foundation poured then if you do something like that?

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Hmm. Depends on how big your butt is.

    JEANNIE: Four hundred pounds, yes.

    TOM: No, you don’t have – you don’t need a foundation for that. You can – there’s an L-bracket that will come from the house siding, up underneath the window, that supports a bay window like that.

    JEANNIE: Yes, I’ve seen that. That’d be enough?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm and …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Well, I’m sure you’ll have to use a sufficient amount to cover the weight that you’re expecting but I also think it’s a good opportunity for you to think about using that space to create window seating that may have storage underneath, tops that open up, so you can tuck away a couple of off-season items in there or toys or whatever you might need extra space. And then, of course, think about using foam and upholstery and creating a really great, comfy, little space that you can enjoy.

    JEANNIE: That is the plan. We have two, little-bitty grandkids.

    TOM: Oh, terrific.

    JEANNIE: One’s a year-and-a-half and the other one’s younger. And I thought, “Wouldn’t that be nice?” Maybe it’d be a little bed for them, too, inside there. What do you think about that?

    LESLIE: That could be great. I mean they’re so little, they’ll snuggle up in there no problem. Just make sure, if you’re doing this yourself and you’re going to put storage underneath, with small kids like that, you want to – on the hinge, there’s going to be a stop mechanism so that if the kids open it up and then let go, it’ll softly close or hold that top open so it doesn’t come slamming down on them.

    JEANNIE: Got that down. OK. We’ll have to do some shopping, I know, but I was afraid if it needed new foundation and everything really like that, we couldn’t do it. But with brackets supporting – which we could put several, like you say, to support the weight – that’d be wonderful.

    Well, thank you so much. That gives me hope.

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

    LESLIE: Well, older homes are built tough but even the best-made homes will eventually start to show cracks in those plaster walls. Coming up, expert advice on maintenance, from This Old House general contractor, Tommy Silva.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House feature is presented by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills the gaps other insulations miss, giving you up to 50-percent energy savings. We’ll learn more on how to take care of your walls in your house, with tips from Tom Silva, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, older homes have plaster-and-lath walls. They’re built to last and even homes, though, that are 200 years old will have plaster in good condition. But plaster does need maintenance.

    LESLIE: That’s right. So coming up in just a few minutes, Tom Silva is joining us to tell us how to deal with plaster walls.

    Now, our This Old House segment feature this hour is presented by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills those spaces that other insulations just simply miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings.

    TOM: And you could win $500 from Icynene – that’s money you could use to install it – by simply sending an e-mail to us at StayWarm@MoneyPit.com. You’ll enter our Stay Warm with Icynene Giveaway just by e-mailing StayWarm@MoneyPit.com. You will be automatically entered and perhaps we might be sending a $500 Visa gift card, courtesy of Icynene, to you if you e-mail us at StayWarm@MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Britt in California is on the line and needs some help with a skylight. What can we do for you?

    BRITT: My husband and I are considering putting in the skylights in our home.

    TOM: OK.

    BRITT: OK. Are we better off to put a round skylight, a square skylight? Are we better off to put it toward the middle of the roof line or at where it’s opened up on the deck?

    TOM: OK. So you have a couple of options with skylights.

    First of all, you can use a physical skylight, which is a hole in your roof with a glass skylight inserted into it. There’s another type of skylight kind of thing; it’s called a sun tunnel. It’s a lot easier to install. And basically you put in this tube that goes into the roof and opens up the roof. And then you connect a flex duct from it down to the ceiling of the room that you want to light and that actually brings a lot of natural light into the room. It’s called a sun tunnel. So you have skylight or sun tunnel.

    A sun tunnel is going to be a lot less expensive than a skylight. If you’re going to go with the skylight, you probably want to – you have to position it in the room where it’s going to look the best, so that would probably be in the middle. But the expense is creating the light shaft; that’s what you create, you construct from the point of the roof, down to the ceiling level. And that’s kind of the more expensive, complicated part about putting the skylight in. Cutting it through the roof is really pretty easy.

    What I would recommend is that you use a good-quality skylight. I like Andersen skylights, Pella skylights, VELUX – V-E-L-U-X. All good-quality skylights because they’re curbed: they sit up off the roof and they have flashing that makes the seal between the skylight and the roof itself.

    And I’ve had, for example, a VELUX – V-E-L-U-X – skylight that’s been in my house for 20-plus years. Never had a problem with leaking through many a storm. So it’s definitely worth putting in a good-quality skylight but those are your options. I hope that helps you out and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, in older homes with plaster, one thing that you’re probably going to see at some point is cracking.

    Now, plaster can last a good 200 years and that’s pretty much as long as it’s been around.

    TOM: Well, that’s correct. But to get to that ripe old age, it definitely needs some TLC from time to time. Joining us now is a guy with the knowledge to do just that: it’s our friend, Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    And Tommy, there’s hardly an old house that doesn’t have cracks in the walls. This is something that’s pretty normal but how do we stop it from getting so bad where those cracks start to develop into chunks of plaster that could rain down on our heads?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’re not going to stop the plaster from cracking. It’s an old house; they get a lot of movement. A windy night, the house is shifting around. You get temperature changes, expansion and contraction. It’s going to crack.

    But how do you fix a crack is a different situation. You can net it, go over it, glue it back to the lath.

    TOM: Lath, mm-hmm.

    TOM SILVA: Because the keyway behind that plaster wall will break from the vibration of the house, from the wind and the movement.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about that. You mentioned the keyway; I think that’s important to understand. Because old homes typically have wood lath, so that’s wood sticks and I think they look like tomato stakes. And they’re attached to the wall and then the plaster, when it’s first put on, it pushes through that lath and then spreads out and sort of locks behind it. So that, in effect, is the key.

    TOM SILVA: That makes the key, yeah.

    TOM: That’s the keyway. And those keys actually wear over time.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Because of – the house is shaking. Think of it: on a windy night, that house is moving. Or if your kids are playing and you’re bouncing on the floor, the house is moving; it’s shaking. I mean you can see it if you’re sitting in a room and knew someone who walked across the room or feel it, you can actually feel the – well, think of – wind will do the same thing on your side walls.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So you’ve got to basically know now what you’re going to do, how bad is the crack and how do you fix it? You could simply, in some cases, just drag a little – if you had like a little screwdriver or old beer-can openers with the V-notch, you can drag a little bit out and you could put some plaster or patch in the wall and then paint it; it’d be fine.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: But if it’s really bad, you may have to cut a piece of the old plaster out and insert a piece of wallboard into the plaster laths. In that case, you’re going to need a thinner piece, like 3/8-inch, because you don’t want to be too thick. And then you can feather it out around it with a piece of – with some joint compound. But I always like to take a piece of screening wire and cut it much bigger than my patch and blend it right into the wall and then hide it that way.

    TOM: So the screening wire is kind of like that perforated drywall tape that we have today, right? It’s sort of a …

    TOM SILVA: That’s right. You get – what I sometimes – what I’ll do is I’ll go to the hardware store and I’ll get a roll of plastic – what do you call – vinyl screening wire.

    TOM: Window screen.

    TOM SILVA: Window screen.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: And I can have a big piece, so I can actually do a whole wall.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So are you almost creating a netting in the event of delamination?

    TOM SILVA: Yep. Yep. Yeah. And that netting will bridge any gaps and that netting gets stuck onto wet drywall. So the easiest way to do it is – if the plaster is really loose, you put these plaster buttons in and you can fasten it back to the wall or you sometimes …

    TOM: So that’s kind of like a washer, almost, that pulls it back in.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, a perforated washer, right.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: And you screw it down. You screw it in gently because you don’t want to break the big – you don’t want to break out a chunk of plaster so you defeat your purpose.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: There’s also a product that you can glue the plaster back to the lath by drilling a series of small holes next to the crack and inject it with a caulking gun.

    LESLIE: And sort of injecting it in?

    TOM SILVA: And that basically is an acrylic adhesive that you have to wait overnight. Use these big plastic rings and you screw the plaster gently back to the lath. And you’ll see the adhesive come out all the little holes that you drilled. You leave it for 24 hours, sand it lightly and then you wire it or tape it, go over it with joint compound.

    TOM: Now, let me ask you about the joint compound, because these are originally plaster walls. You can get plaster and mix that up, you can buy standard spackling and joint compound out of the bucket. Does one do a better job than the other when you’re going over old plaster?

    TOM SILVA: No. I’ve actually taken – joint compound is amazing stuff; it’ll stick to anything. I know; I’ve got it on my shoes.

    But no, it’ll stick to anything; it’s fantastic for that kind of stuff. So you don’t have to worry about doing too much scraping and sanding. It won’t stick to dry – I don’t – I wouldn’t go over wallpaper or anything like that, because the wallpaper will delaminate.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: But lots of times when I’m trying to patch an old plaster wall and I’m worrying about it sticking, I actually take plaster – dried, powdered plaster – and mix it with my joint compound. Now you’ve got two things that are going to basically dry up differently. The plaster is going to set up and harden.

    TOM: A lot quicker, yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, a lot quicker. So you want to make sure that you use a faster-setting joint compound or you can use the pre-mixed. A faster setting means that you can get a 20-minute, a 45-minute or a 90-minute. It comes in a powder; you mix it with water or you mix it into the water. And then you can mix your plaster into that.

    So you – now you’ve got great adhesion, you’ve got a material that will go on easy and your plaster will dry harder than the joint compound. So the problem is is you’ve got to make sure that you can sand it. So you may have to sand it smooth if you don’t trowel it off.

    TOM: What a great trick of the trade. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by and helping us keep those old plaster walls in great shape.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, some great step-by-step videos on this project and others, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next – and the Oscar goes to you for having an amazing Oscar party. We’re going to have tips on how to plan and prepare for that event, after this.

    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 you should give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re helping you with all of your home improvement problems today. And one lucky caller this hour is going to walk away with a great solution to their seating and storage problems. We’ve got up for grabs a ClosetMaid Cubeicals 3-Cube Bench that’s got 3 neat, little fabric bins that fit right underneath.

    And you can stash all sorts of things in there out of sight. It’s perfect for your closet, your entryway, your mud room, your garage, even your bedroom. And it’s worth 81 bucks but it could be yours for free, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood on Oscar night may seem out of place in your home but you can play the part of an award-winning party host, if you plan your party right.

    Now, for an Oscar party – or any party, for that matter – you want to start with the rooms that your guests are most likely going to congregate in, like the living room, your dining room and most likely, the kitchen. I mean that’s where everybody ends up.

    So you want to try to create a fluid traffic-flow pattern. You want to make sure that you’ve got plenty of places for your guests to put down their plates and their glasses. Now, to do this, you’ll probably have to clear some clutter that, you know, as a homeowner and a person who lives in that house, you kind of overlook.

    TOM: Also, you want to make sure your seating areas are easy to access. Perhaps you want to move the coffee table to the side, add some extra chairs. And by the way, we know you love your guests but let’s face it, somebody is going to spill something. So why not plan for this in advance …?

    LESLIE: Yeah, don’t freak out.

    TOM: That’s right. So why not plan for this in advance and have stain-removing products on hand to handle it gracefully, like some extra towels to blot and baking soda to soak up spills?

    And by the way, on our website, we have got all of the stain-removal tips you need. So if it does happen, head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ll tell you how to take it away, whether it’s wine, ketchup, mustard. You name it, we’ve got tips on how to clean that up.

    LESLIE: Or caviar for your Oscar party, of course.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t know if we have caviar cleaning tips. Somehow, that didn’t make the list.

    But the bottom line is that getting your home truly ready beforehand is going to give you more time to enjoy your own party and that is always the goal.

    888-666-3974. It is our goal to help you with your home improvement projects, so give us a call right now.

    LESLIE: Karen in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KAREN: Hi. We have a house with a daylight basement that has an apartment in it. And we were wondering if you could give any tips on soundproofing, short of taking the ceiling down and – I don’t know. What do you suggest?

    TOM: Well, you could add a second layer of drywall and you could use a soundproofing glue in between, which is called Green Glue. And if you put a second layer of drywall in there, isolated by the Green Glue, that does a pretty good job of quieting down that space.

    KAREN: OK. So, you don’t think any acoustic tiles like they use in theater rooms or anything?

    TOM: You could.

    LESLIE: Yeah but those are all going to be suspended ceilings, right, Tom?

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    LESLIE: So you’re going to lose quite a bit of space in the basement.

    KAREN: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It could be as little as 6 inches but it could be more.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: With the additional layer of drywall and the Green Glue, you’re really only dealing with ¾-inch additional space there. Yes, you have to deal with moving some lighting fixtures and electrical components just down but it really does a great job.

    KAREN: OK. How much would it help if we took down the existing ceiling and put up insulation?

    TOM: It will a little bit but I think that’s so much work that I would much rather see you simply add a second layer of drywall rather than take everything down there.

    KAREN: Alright. Thanks so much for your help.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, has your bathtub caulk seen better days? Is it falling out? Is it turning green or black or some other nasty color? Well, not to worry. Recaulking a tub is a very easy DIY project if you have the right know-how and the right supplies. Can’t help you with the supplies but we’ll have the know-how for you, 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.

    Hey, have you guys seen our new panel of experts in the Community section on our Money Pit website? All you have to do is head on over to MoneyPit.com and ask a question about your projects.

    Now, you are going to get answers from top names in their field. And again, you can find that all at the Community section of MoneyPit.com. It’s a great resource. You’re going to get a ton of ideas, lots of inspiration and of course, help with your home improvement project.

    And if you’re looking for some help, post your question. And we’ve got one here from New York who wrote: “What should I be using to caulk around the tub where the tile meets: silicone or latex? I heard that the two do not mix. If I already have one type, should I not apply a different one?”

    TOM: Well, let’s kind of take a step back here with this tiling question. Because I think that the caulking process of tubs does confuse people a lot but it’s really pretty straightforward. So let me kind of give you the steps here, Caulk Crazy.

    First, you want to do this: you want to remove all of the old caulk. And there actually is a product that is called “caulk remover” and it works kind of like a paint remover does, except it’s not nearly as caustic. And you can put it on your tub and this makes sure you can kind of get rid of all the old caulk that’s there. And that’s really important because you don’t want to put new caulk over the old caulk because, obviously, it’s not going to stick properly.

    So once you get the old stuff out – and you’ve got to scrape it out and pull it out and clean it up really good – the next step is to take a bleach-and-water solution and wipe down that whole ledge, make sure it’s nice and clean. And the bleach helps kill any mold that may be lingering behind.

    Once that’s done, super-dry, the next thing that you’re going to do is caulk, right? Wrong. That’s what most people think. You don’t caulk next. The next thing you do is you fill up the tub with water all the way to the overflow.

    LESLIE: And then get in. No.

    TOM: No, you don’t have to get in. But you do fill the tub up with water and of course, you keep the stopper in so it stays nice and full. Why do you do that? Because we want to caulk a tub when it’s really heavy and settled down into the floor. Because then, once you caulk and the caulk dries, you can let the water out. The tub sort of comes back up and then when you get into it to take a shower, you’re not kind of stretching it over and over again, which tends to weaken the caulk seams. So always caulk the tub when it’s full, after it’s properly prepared.

    Now, as for the product choice, you do have options of either going with silicone or with latex. But I’ve got to tell you, the latex is so well-made today and it has additives that will prevent mold from growing and it’s just so much easier to handle and comes out that much neater, that I would use latex every single time when I’m caulking a tub. Just make sure that you buy a kitchen- and bath-rated caulk, because it does have the mildicide in it and won’t grow to that gunky sort of blackish, greenish stage, which is kind of where you’re at right now.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Marge in Florida who writes: “What is the recommendation for cleaning electronic air filters? How often and what’s the best process?”

    TOM: Well, you know, we’ve talked about the fact that with fiberglass filters, you have to replace them once a month but it’s a good question. How often do you have to clean the more permanent electronic air filters?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because the filters are very different.

    TOM: Yeah, they are. Completely different technology.

    The answer is generally it’s going to depend on the manufacturer. But typically, it’s every six months to a year. How do you clean those is going to vary by manufacturer but for the most part, you can take that and stick it right in the dishwasher and 30, 45 minutes later it’ll be clean.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a good tip, Tom. But if you find when you open up your electronic air cleaner, if you’ve got one of those fibrous, electronic-media filters, those you simply take out and replace. And that’s generally once a year. And those get pretty dirty, I promise you that.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Available, also, 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT, which basically means any time of the day or night you are inspired to ask us your home improvement question, we will be inspired to be there to help you out.

    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 2012 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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