How to Create Your Own Backyard Water Feature, Summer Storm Prep Tips, Using Concrete Stain to Spruce Up Outdoor Spaces and mo

  • 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: Happy to be here to help you with your home improvement projects. If you’re just getting started, you are just in time to get our help making sure that you take the right first step. If you’re stuck in the middle of a project, we understand. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve made mistakes. So put our experience to work for you. Give us a call, right now, and we’ll get you out of that hole. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you’re just dreaming about a project and you want to know which way to go on it, give us a call; we can talk about that, as well, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, it’s the time of year to get outside and get to it. So if you’re thinking about an outdoor project, we’ve got some great ideas coming up.

    LESLIE: That’s right. For example, if you love the sound of a babbling brook, we’re going to tell you how to create your very own water feature for your yard.

    TOM: Plus, we’ve got advice on how to bring some color to your hardscapes – that would be your concrete driveways, walkways – with concrete stain. It’s not that hard to use and we’re going to tell you what you need to know.

    LESLIE: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of three Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron worth 90 bucks.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number again: 888-MONEY-PIT. And for those of you that just hate spelling out those letters on the phone: 888-666-3974.

    Leslie who’s first?

    LESLIE: Richard in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICHARD: Yeah, I have a lift pump that’s making an unusual noise. Like it’ll fire off and then it makes a harmonic noise about halfway through the pumping station.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And hoping it’ll be like a check valve that needs replaced in there or if it’s – if you need more background, it’s a replacement pump for one I had in there. I had a ¼-horse in there before and now it’s got a ½-horse. It’s actually a bigger lift pump than the one I had before.

    TOM: Generally, when I hear a squealing noise, I consider whether or not it’s an issue with the bearings.

    It could also be an issue with the valve itself, perhaps the check valve. Because sometimes as the water streams through that, it’s vibrating against the valve and then that vibration can transmit. I mean plumbing pipes are really pretty good transmitters of sound, so it can transmit and amplify and sound really bad.

    If it’s still working and it’s not slowing down flow or anything like that, I guess I would think probably not to worry about it too much. But my concern is that if it is a wear-and-tear issue and something’s going to seize up, you may end up with a surprise repair.

    This is not your main bathroom, is it? This is an additional bathroom?

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’s an addition that was put on later on, so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, if it breaks down, it breaks down; at least you’re not out of luck. But my concern is that it might be a precursor of worse things to come.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: So I would keep an eye on it and see what happens, OK?

    RICHARD: Alright.

    LESLIE: Tara in Pennsylvania is on the line with an insect question. How can we help you?

    TARA: Hi. I was just wondering – we have a bunch of earwigs that’s up underneath our siding.

    And it seems like they’re always there and we were just wondering, what can we do to get rid of them? Is there anything that’s attracting them there?

    TOM: Well, look, they’re probably looking for food, so something is landing on that siding and attracting them. Generally, when they’re not up high like that, it’s advisable to trap them. Like a trapping program will reduce their population. But if they’re up on the side and crawling on the building, I’d probably go straight to a pesticide-management program, some sort of chemical control.

    The University of California recommends a pesticide called Spinosad – S-p-i-n-o-s-a-d. And there’s a number of commercial products that are available that have that in it. And that should be probably the best way to control them and stop them from coming back and encourage them to go to somebody else’s house to infest.

    TARA: It would be helpful. Oh, along those lines, as far as insects go, we get crickets down in our basement every …

    LESLIE: Spider crickets.

    TARA: I have – I guess they’re spider crickets; I’m not sure. Little black crickets. But every year, they drive me crazy because my bedroom is downstairs.

    TOM: Why don’t you call a pest-control operator, like Orkin, and have them just do a general spraying for insects? So you can probably, you know, put just the right pesticide in and around your home in a safe and effective way that will reduce both problems – stop the earwigs and stop the crickets – and just get you a lot more comfortable.

    TARA: Oh, that would be great.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Tara? With the cave crickets, we get them where I live on Long Island, in the basement. And I always feel bad when my sister and brother-in-law sleep over, because they’ll sleep on an air mattress in my basement and I’m like, “The spider crickets are going to leap on you.” Because they totally gross me out. But if you take some double-stick tape and just put it around the perimeter of the room, in the interim while you’re waiting to treat, they do tend to congregate there. And they’ll get stuck and then you can just pick it up and toss it in the morning.

    TARA: Oh, that’s a good idea. I was just using some indoor spray every year when they come around and then I’m sucking up the crickets constantly – dead crickets – everywhere. And along with them and stink bugs, it hasn’t been fun.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet. Tara, when it comes to making decisions to whether or not you should go with a professional or use the sort of the do-it-yourself approach, I always feel that if you go with a pro, they’re actually going to use less pesticide than you’re applying yourself. And it’ll be done in exactly the right manner, with just the right amount, to take care of the problem. I think people tend to overspray when it comes to the over-the-counter pesticides.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at

    Well, it is the first official weekend of the summer season and we hope that you are enjoying yourselves. And maybe you’re working on a home improvement project or two. So let us give you a hand. We are here to help you out at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And along with the summer season are summer storms, in which case you could find yourself with water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. We’re going to teach you how to get ready for those big storms, with tips on how to store water safely in case of emergency, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, 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. Pick up the phone and give us a call. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky home improvers out there listening to the show this hour could win a set of three Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron, which will allow you to enjoy the flexibility of being able to adjust your lighting levels while still saving energy. Plus, they are perfectly compatible with both CFLs and LEDs, so no confusion about which bulb will dim.

    TOM: Learn more about the Diva C•L Dimmer from Lutron at And call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Eddie in Mississippi is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    EDDIE: I’m just wondering if spray-foam insulation will cause any moisture problems or any other problems that I’m going to expect?

    TOM: No, absolutely not. In fact, a sealed crawlspace is one very sensible approach that you could do with spray-foam insulation. A product like Icynene would work perfect for an area like that. If you have fiberglass insulation, then you have to ventilate the foundation area in that crawlspace and that’s a different approach. But if you’re using foam insulation, the entire surface becomes totally sealed and you will find that it remains very dry.

    EDDIE: OK. I have another question. How thick would you suggest that I put the spray foam?

    LESLIE: I don’t think it’s something you do yourself.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t think it is something …

    EDDIE: The contractor said that they normally do like an inch-and-a-half or they could put it however thick I’d like. I just wondered how thick it’s normally applied.

    TOM: That’s going to depend on the type of foam insulation that the contractor is working with. Every manufacturer’s insulation is going to have a different R-factor per inch. But what you – the number you really want to focus on is not how many inches it’s thick but what’s required to give you an R-19 level of insulation.

    EDDIE: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

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

    LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about two years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?

    And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?

    TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.

    I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.

    So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.

    LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?

    TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.

    LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.

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

    Well, when the forecast calls for severe weather, you want to make sure you’re ready for the storm. Here’s a tip, presented by KOHLER Generators, that can help you do just that.

    Now, if you’re on a well-water system, you’re going to want to store water. Start with drinking water. Use clean containers, fill them at a gallon per person per day and also fill all of your bathtubs. This water can be used for flushing the toilet if necessary.

    LESLIE: Now, when the power does come back on, you’re going to need to shut off the well electrical breakers first and then have a plumber refill and start the well system. One way that you can avoid all of that is with a standby generator.

    TOM: And this Severe Weather Tip is presented by KOHLER Generators. Running on clean propane or natural gas, a KOHLER standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and comes on automatically within seconds of a power outage. Learn more at

    LESLIE: Jeff in Pennsylvania is on the line and has a question about the order of things when it comes to a roofing project. What can we do for you?

    JEFF: Wanted to check with a neutral third party to see if they have any recommendations or if you’d have any recommendations on putting a heavy, architectural shingle over top of an existing three-tab that’s very thin, very flat.

    TOM: Well, first of all, we generally don’t like to put – recommend you put a second layer of roofing shingles on it but it comes down to economics. Yeah, we’ll say this: if you put a second layer on, the second layer doesn’t usually last as long as the first layer. Because the first layer holds a lot of heat and that can, over the long haul, wear out the second layer because that heat is the enemy of the asphalt shingle. It forces more oil to evaporate out of it and more of the materials that make it pliable and watertight. And so, second layers generally don’t last as long as the first layers.

    The other thing to consider is how long you’re going to be in the house, because you’ll probably have a shortened roof life. If it’s a short-term house for you, maybe you don’t care or you’re trying to save some cash, then maybe you want to go ahead and put a second layer on.

    But the best way to roof a house is to tear off the old layers and put on a second layer. Weight is not an issue, if that’s what you’re concerned about. Can it handle it? Yeah, it certainly can handle a second layer. But it’s just not good building practice.

    JEFF: OK. I thank you much.

    TOM: Good luck, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re talking to Georgia in Texas who’s got a question about tile flooring. How can we help you with your project?

    GEORGIA: Yes. I live in a house that my grandparents originally built back in 1950. The flooring in the kitchen is what I refer to as the old linoleum. A rubber-topped linoleum is what I thought. But it is crumbling and someone at a tile place told me it is probably asbestos, because of the age of it. So, I have been told, yes, I can it rip it up and it’s OK or no, don’t mess with it and put something over it, like cement board, and then retile.

    TOM: So, this tile floor is located where?

    GEORGIA: In the kitchen.

    TOM: And how old is the tile floor?

    GEORGIA: It was put in in 1950.

    TOM: Well, if you want to determine whether there’s asbestos in it, you’d have to take a piece of tile and have it tested.


    TOM: But if it’s the original floor and you want to put a different floor over it, there’s really no reason not to. I mean laminate floor, for example, would be a good choice for a kitchen. And there’s no reason you can’t lay that right over the existing tile.

    GEORGIA: Well, no, it is literally cracking and crumbling. I trip over it every day and another new piece goes flying across the floor.

    TOM: Again, what I would do is I would probably not – tell you not to tear it up. It’s most likely simply vinyl tile. But if you want to be safe, just leave it in place and go ahead and floor right over it.

    GEORGIA: OK. Well, I wasn’t sure, you know? The flooring underneath it – the wood underneath it – is still good. So, yeah, I just wasn’t sure which way to go or how to go about it, if I should go to the expense to put down the cement boarding and then put the – on top of the floor, screw it down and then put tile over on that.

    TOM: Well, why are you going to put the cement floor down? Are you going to put ceramic tile down?

    GEORGIA: It’d be nice. I grew up calling it “Mexican tile” or tile that’s made in Mexico.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    GEORGIA: And it’s heavy and you’ve got to putty it and you’ve got to work with it and stuff.

    TOM: Well, certainly, if you’re going to do it that way, you could put the board underneath the tile, right on top of the floor. There’s no reason you couldn’t do that, as well, OK?

    GEORGIA: OK. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to help Bud in Oregon avoid a hair-raising electrical situation.

    What’s going on, Bud?

    BUD: I’ve got 3 banks of the 2 bulbs each, 4-foot long mounted up in the ceiling, built into a box directly over my cooktop. And during the summertime, when the humidity is higher, if I get any moisture up there, it can take sometimes days before those lights will come on reliably on the first flip of the switch.

    Now, in the winter, when I’m burning a wood stove, which means I’ve got lower humidity inside the house, if I’m cooking on the cooktop and don’t turn the lights on before, I get the same problem. Except as soon as the moisture stops going up there and I’ve got 10, 15 minutes, then the lights will start coming back on regularly and be reliable again.

    So, what I need to know from you, if you’ve got some suggestions, is before I get up there and start looking for how to do something, I want to know what I need to have in stock. Is there something – a lubricant, a cleanser or whatever – to do something with contacts or got any suggestions?

    TOM: I would give up on those fixtures.

    BUD: I would, too. I think you’re right.

    TOM: I would just give up on them. They don’t sound safe to me. I’m not quite sure what exactly is going wrong with them but they certainly shouldn’t be behaving that way. And I would worry about them getting worse and potentially causing a fire.

    The cost of a 4-foot, doable fluorescent fixture is not very much today. And so I would simply take this on as a project and replace each and every one of them. I wouldn’t try to change the ballast out, I wouldn’t try to clean it, I wouldn’t try to do anything like that. I would just replace them. It’s just not worth it.

    BUD: It’s not what I wanted to hear but it’s a good thing and it’s probably cheaper in the long run to spend the $8, $10 per what you – put up 3 brand-new ones.

    TOM: Exactly.

    BUD: OK. I’ll just look for a good time when I can do it without breaking my neck.

    TOM: That’s always important. Bud, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, the sound of water is probably the most tranquil and relaxing thing that you can listen to. And you can actually create that calming effect at your home with a water feature in your very own backyard.

    TOM: We’ve got expert advice from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook on how to build your own water feature, after this.

    JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor wood-staining project? Get it done the simple way with Flood Wood Care. With products like Flood CWF-UV, you get long-lasting quality at a great value, plus guidance to help make the whole process easier. Get started at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are getting ready to kick off another great Facebook sweepstakes at We call this one the Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Sweeps. Our prizes include a set of ceiling fans from Hunter, as well as a Craftsman Quiet Lawn Mower. Visit our Facebook page and follow us now so you can get in on all of these great giveaways. It’s and look for our summer sweepstakes in just a few days.

    LESLIE: Water features like ponds or waterfalls can help turn your landscape into something special. And it also provides a focal point and it can help attract wildlife.

    TOM: To dive into the details of water features, we welcome This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook. Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks. Dive in. I get it, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, let’s dive in. You know, there is something very nice about the relaxing sound of a water feature. It’s very comforting to people, so is this something that’s difficult to achieve? Are there a lot of options? Is it always a big project?

    ROGER: It can be as difficult as you want or as simple as you want, depending on which piece you pick to go in the yard. There are garden centers everywhere that have assemblies that are premade that all you do, literally, is bring them to your house, plug them in, put a little water in and you have a little water feature.

    There are others that we do that may be ponds that are 20 feet x 20 feet or bigger. And it all depends what you’re looking for.

    TOM: So let’s talk about those bigger ponds. I think that’s what a lot of folks dream of. How do you build those? How do you keep the water in? It sounds like it’s putting in a swimming pool.

    ROGER: Well, it is. Some of them are gunited, which is what they do when they do a pool and that’s primarily so that they can control it during the winter.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: We have some that we heat all winter. And it’s unbelievable to have the place all snow, no footprints and just a circular body of water and the fish swimming around in it.

    LESLIE: Now…

    ROGER: Sorry. The majority of them, they use their liners for the ponds and you can get those any size you want. And once you do your excavation and you line that with sand and then put the liner in, you go from there.

    LESLIE: Now, do you use a preformed liner? I’ve seen a lot of those at the home centers: these random, blackened misshapened things that are like, “Ooh, it’s a kidney-shaped water feature.” Is it best to use one of those or are you kind of better to just sort of free-form one and then use the soft liner?

    ROGER: Again, it all depends how much work you want to do. You dig a hole, you set in the kidney-shaped pool or (inaudible at 0:22:01) and it’s done.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Right.

    ROGER: But the liner, you have to do more excavation, you have to put some material in, like sand, for it to set on and then put rocks all around it to hold it in place and cover it up. So it’s more work.

    The ones that you’re talking about – the plastic ones? – you can change that shape a little bit by taking some boulders and laying them over the edge so you don’t see the edge. And then you can take some of that roundness off of them.

    LESLIE: Well, I wouldn’t want to see the edge.

    ROGER: You wouldn’t?

    LESLIE: Not at all. I mean it’s essentially like taking a kiddie pool – minus the octopuses and the little, fancy sea animals on it – and sticking it in the ground.

    We used to build these water features all the time on While You Were Out. It was always a fun project to do when we worked with our outdoor-landscaping guy, Peter BonSey. And he would say, “I want a cactus and I want water shooting out of the top,” and we’d have to figure out how to fabricate this cactus and then figure out what pump size to actually get the volume of water that we want to come out of the places that we want. And truly, the directions on the box of the pump say, “Oh, well, move this much water and blah, blah, blah.” And we would just buy three and plug them all in and see which one would do the best.

    ROGER: Which one works, yep. That’s a great way to go.

    The other thing is I always upsize them and sometimes they’ll have a dial on them so you can throttle them down a little bit. And that, to me, is always the best way because some people like it real loud, some people like a nice flow, so you can actually change it without changing the whole pump.

    But my mind, water features should look natural, not with a cactus squirting water out of the top of it. I love to have nice lilies and things in the pond that look natural. Add some koi, add some fish, frogs will come. You’ll have a whole bunch of different things.

    TOM: Now, if you are going to put fish in that pond, I guess that means it has to be deeper and heated.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: A little more complicated to build that?

    ROGER: There’s a couple tricks to get around that. Number one, you want to create a hole that’s maybe 3 to 4 feet deep. At least 3 feet deep. And that won’t freeze. And all the fish will congregate there.

    Then we put out what’s called cattle heaters and they’re about 6 inches around. And they’ll heat the water just enough to let air exchange with the water on below. Sometimes, if it freezes over, then the fish can be killed.

    TOM: Then you can put your mittens on, your hat and your warm, woolen jacket and go out and feed them.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    ROGER: No, no, no.

    TOM: No, you don’t have to?

    ROGER: No, you don’t. Don’t want to feed them. Once the temperature gets below 50 degrees, they won’t process the food and they’ll die.

    TOM: Oh, OK. There you go.

    ROGER: So that’s the key.

    LESLIE: Well, I can remember when we lived in the city, the house next door to us had a water feature in their backyard at the brownstone. And it seemed to almost totally freeze over and I’m sure, like you suggested, they had that deeper area. But we would always watch this interesting, orange sort of gathering that would happen and last all winter long. And you’d be wondering like, “Oh, they’re not going to make it until the spring.” And then sure enough, there would be the thaw and they’d all be swimming around again.

    TOM: And really, really hungry.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    ROGER: Yeah, they’re hardier than you think. But some people – I have a guy in North Dakota I know who takes all the fish in, brings them in his cellar in a big tank and then puts them back out in the spring because I don’t care how deep the pool in North Dakota…

    LESLIE: It gets much colder there.

    TOM: North Dakota?

    ROGER: Oh, man, you’re going to have frozen sushi.

    TOM: Well, great advice, great tips. Roger Cook, the landscaping contract on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is proudly brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Mitsubishi, live better.

    Still to come, is gray concrete boring you? We’ve got advice on an easy outdoor project you can do yourself to add some pizzazz to your concrete surfaces, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more 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. Pick up the phone and give us a call. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky callers on the show this hour is going to win a set of three Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron.

    Now, these dimmers give you the flexibility to adjust your lighting levels. You will still save energy and the best part is that these dimmers are perfectly compatible with energy-efficient bulbs. So, you get the beauty of adjustable light with the energy efficiency of light bulbs.

    TOM: Learn more about the Diva C•L Dimmer from Lutron at And call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Well, now is the perfect time to tackle outdoor projects so you can enjoy your outdoor spaces all summer long. We’ve got an idea for a quick and easy hardscape makeover, presented courtesy of QUIKRETE.

    TOM: Now, staining an older concrete patio or walk to update the look is a great project that’s actually pretty easy to do. If you’ve got walkways or a patio or even a pool deck that’s made of concrete, you can achieve a whole new color with QUIKRETE Translucent Concrete Stain.

    Now, here’s how it works. It’s a water-based, polymer-bonded, UV-resistant formula that comes in lots of colors, including terra cotta, golden wheat, light gray, and even blue. Blue concrete, that would be really cool.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a lot of good choices.

    Now, you can also use this on new concrete, as well. You just have to make sure that it’s cured for at least four weeks. And the great thing about this product is that the semitransparent look highlights the natural variations that you see in concrete and masonry surfaces.

    Now, you can even use this in multiple color combinations to achieve a very unique multi-tone, layered appearance. So, you’re going to not be limited by anything other than your creativity.

    TOM: Now, before you begin, just make sure the surface is free of dirt, dust, grease and oil. Follow the complete directions on the packaging.

    But basically, you simply spread it on the surface with a brush or a sponge and you need to be careful not to over-apply it or let it puddle. Then you add a second coat four hours later, you give it a couple of days to fully cure before subjecting it to heavy foot traffic or driving on it and you’ll be good to go.

    QUIKRETE Translucent Concrete Stain can also be used on interior concrete surfaces, like basements. Visit for more details. That’s for more details.

    And Leslie, a little factoid. It’s actually a fact from my home improvement knowledge. You know which famous American architect was very famous for using colored concrete in his designs?

    LESLIE: Frank Lloyd Wright.

    TOM: Frank Lloyd Wright. See, I knew you’d get that right. I can’t fool you at all. Yeah, he used to mix the dye in with the concrete when it was poured and he was the first architect to ever do that. So, look, with the QUIKRETE product, you can have a floor as beautiful as those designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

    LESLIE: And you know what? I have to say, Frank Lloyd Wright, genius architect, but very ballsy because he would build furnishings out of concrete that were built into the exact location that he decided where they would go. So if you were moving into a Frank Lloyd Wright property, you better darn well like his layout. Because you were stuck with it.

    TOM: Yeah. You couldn’t move it around much.

    LESLIE: No. And I mean he was a genius, so of course you would.

    Kyle in Iowa needs some help installing some trim. Tell us what you’re working on.

    KYLE: We just put in some new Willamette (ph) wood floors a couple weeks ago and we decided to rip out all the old – you know, the construction trim that comes with the newer homes and …

    TOM: Baseboard molding?

    KYLE: Yeah, the baseboard molding. And we’ve decided to upgrade to – I think it’s about a 5¼-inch tall, almost ½-inch-thick baseboard, to kind of upgrade the look around the house.

    And I’m just having a hard time. I’m using my buddy’s miter saw and it’s not tall enough to do a vertical cut for my outside corners. And every time I lay it horizontally and try to tilt the miter saw to cut it, there’s no real clamping mechanism on it to hold the boards in place. And every time I push the miter saw into it, it moves it just slight enough to where my angles for when I try to do a scarfing or an outside corner – it just kind of pushes my angles off on it just a little bit and it’s making the process harder.

    TOM: Well, let me ask you this: when you’re making your baseboard cuts for an inside corner, are you mitering it?

    KYLE: For the inside corner, I’m doing a cope.

    TOM: Oh, good. OK. That’s what I was concerned about.

    KYLE: And the coping turns out to be easier than the outside corners for me, so …

    TOM: Now, actually, when you do the outside corner, the only part of the miter that’s got to be perfect is the top edge of that board. As long as you have a straight line, if you end up taking up a little bit too much wood on the inside of that cut, nobody is ever going to see that. In fact, many times, when I’m doing that type of a corner, I’ll sometimes cope out the back of the miter cut, take a little bit extra meat out of that so that it kind of gets out of the way and I can pull it together really nicely, tightly at the corner. As long as I have a crisp line that pulls together on the corner, then I’m happy with that.

    I understand you’ve got challenges with your tools. I’m not going to be able to give you a solution, because you don’t have the right tools. What you really need is a compound miter saw that’s sort of half miter saw, half radial arm saw. And that will give you the exact capabilities that you’re looking for. But to do this by hand with a regular hand miter box is just going to be a challenge.

    KYLE: So, it’d be easier maybe to try to find someone to borrow a compound one from?

    TOM: I think so. Yep. Yeah, you’ll be very happy. Because it sounds like you’ve got the skills. If you know how to cope a joint, then you’ve got the skills.

    And for those that have no idea what we’re talking about, when you put up baseboard molding or any kind of molding or even crown molding in a house, you don’t cut a 45-degree angle much like you would for a picture frame. You actually put one piece in whole and square it to the wall and the other piece, you cut that 45 as if it was going to be a miter but you take a coping saw and cut out the back of all of that wood, except for that crisp line that’s on the front of the angle of the miter. When you push that together, you get what appears to be a perfect, mitered cut but it’s actually not; it’s actually a butt joint but it looks like a miter.

    And it’s the best way to work with trim because it allows you to work with a house that’s not quite straight, because none of them are. And the other trick is I like to cut those boards just a little bit longer than what you need, because then it puts additional pressure on the joint and brings it together nice and tightly.

    So I think you’re on the right road. You just need to get some better tools to help you get there, OK?

    KYLE: OK. Thank you, guys.

    TOM: Good luck, Kyle.

    LESLIE: Still to come, are you getting estimates for some work to be done on your home? Well, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you head on over to and sign up for our free e-newsletter, you’ll get great tips and ideas in every issue and you’ll get direct access to our podcast. It’s all free and we do not share your e-mail address with anyone.

    I (inaudible at 0:33:38) response this week: “Hey, can you share your e-mail addresses?” I said, “No way. Absolutely,  positively not. You’re not going to get it.” So, believe me, we are very serious about this. Your e-mail address will be secure.

    LESLIE: One thing we will do, however, with your e-mails is actually answer the questions on the air. And I’ve got one from Vicky living in the most horrible place in the world: Hawaii.

    She writes: “We are about to interview two different contractors who are willing to build our house. What are important questions that I should know when meeting with these contractors? We already know that they build the whole house and it comes with everything from the floors to the roof, appliances, kitchen, bath, electrical, plumbing, et cetera. I want to be able to compare the bids equally.”

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a great question and a really terrific attitude, Vicky, because you are going to avoid a trap that so many people find themselves in. And that is when they’re sitting down to compare these bids, they really have no basis to compare them because they’re just so different.

    So here’s how you control this part of the process. You do not rely on the contractors for any of the design or specifications for your project. You invest, and I do mean invest, in a good-quality architect and do that before the contractor comes in. Why would you do this? And some people are hesitant to spend it; they see it as extra money. No, it is money well-spent. Trust me, you’re spending this money anyway. And you’re going to waste it with a contractor by making mistakes if you don’t take this step.

    Get an architect to design your addition, to design your project right down to the faucet brand, the model, the appliance, the paint color, everything. Put it all in there. Then you have a complete set of specifications that you can present to two or three qualified, competent contractors. And you know they’re all bidding on the same project.

    Otherwise, you got one contractor that’s bidding on one brand of cabinet, another one that’s choosing another brand of faucet. You don’t know what you’re going to get. You know, a cabinet is not a cabinet, a fixture is not a fixture. You need to eliminate those inconsistencies and the way you do that is by getting good design advice from an architect and making sure that everyone is literally bidding apples to apples.

    LESLIE: And Vicky, another thing that’s going to be super-helpful is that, a lot of times, if you’re prepared with what tile that you want and you know how much it costs, you really can be sure that you’re getting the look that you want. And if you know that the tile is going to be maybe a little bit too much, you can sort of substitute it with a close second.

    So I feel like it’s always good to have all of these ideas sort of sorted out. Flooring materials, wall covering materials, paint colors, paint brand, paint finish. Even though your builder is getting those things for you, it’s helpful if you know what your mindset is as far as the design and the décor and the look. This way, you are on the same page as far as what that look is, the builders aren’t trying to force you into something to up their end and you’re not making any decisions on the fly, which can be stressful. And then you might end up worrying the whole duration of the construction project that you’re going to like it, not like it.

    So, just as Tom said, be prepared and you’ll be super-happy. Plus, you live in Hawaii, so what’s bad about that?

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas, some tips, some inspiration, some suggestions, some great ways to improve your money pit this weekend. If you’ve got questions, remember, we are available 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT. Well, not me, but I do make Leslie stay up and answer all those questions.

    LESLIE: I’ve got small kids. I never sleep. It’s fine.

    TOM: That’s right. She never sleeps. Or you can go to our Facebook page,, and post your question right there. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    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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