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How to Pick the Perfect Paintbrush, Affordable and Energy Saving Custom Window Treatments, Learn What Household Trash You can Recycle, Tips to Help Your Refrigerator Run Efficiently 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project question. We want to solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. If you’re thinking about doing a project yourself, you’re a do-it-yourselfer. What we want to do is prevent you from becoming a do-it-to-yourselfer by taking the wrong steps. So we can help you, whatever is going on, soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles, 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    This is that final push week where people are getting the projects done that they want to accomplish before the holidays officially kick off around Thanksgiving, right? So painting, fix-up, hoping that bathroom hardware will show up so you can put the toilet back? Stuff like that, you know? Give us a call, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, if you’re thinking about painting a room or two for the holidays, before you choose your color you want to know how to choose the right paintbrush for the project. If you don’t choose the right brush, the project will not come out very well. We’re going to tell you what you need to know.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re redecorating, you may be in the market for some new window coverings. But before you stop at the store to choose something off the rack, you should consider custom window treatments. You might be thinking that they’re too pricey but we’ve got options for affordable window coverings for professional custom designs on a budget.

    TOM: Plus, with all of that holiday trash getting ready to pile up, you might be thinking about what you need to do to get rid of waste in a smart way. We’ll have advice on just that on what you can recycle. It’s actually much, much more than you think. There are many products around your house, that we use every day, that you would never think you could recycle and you can. We’ll tell you what you need to know, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a GelPro Comfort Mat. It’s going to reduce pain on your feet when you’re standing for long periods. It’s almost like having orthotic inserts for your shoes.

    TOM: It’s worth $120. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Scott in New Jersey is on the line with a flooring question. Tell us about your project.

    SCOTT: Hi. I’m just moving into my first house on Monday; we’re closing on it.

    TOM: Very exciting. Congratulations.

    SCOTT: Thank you very much.

    But during the home inspection – it’s got tile throughout the whole bottom floor. It’s on a slab. And the home inspector said that it’s 3-percent asbestos and we want to put a hardwood floor. And for most of it – and then tiles on the kitchen area. So half the people I talk to say that we need to remove the asbestos; other people say just build over it.

    TOM: OK. So is this tiles that are on – it’s on a slab?

    SCOTT: Yes.

    TOM: Well, first of all, you should not be putting solid hardwood down on top of the slab.

    SCOTT: That’s another – that was my next part. (inaudible at 0:03:24).

    TOM: Yeah, if you put solid hardwood down, it’s going to twist and warp and swell. So what I would do is I would recommend you use engineered hardwood, which will be indistinguishable visually. I mean it’s going to look exactly like prefinished hardwood but it’s very – it’s much easier to install and it has lock-together capabilities, as well. So you can snap these tiles together, lay it in place. And I see no reason why you can’t leave the asbestos there and put the hardwood floor right – the engineered hardwood floor right on top of it.

    You know, the risk is disturbing anything that has asbestos in it. If it’s not friable, it’s not deteriorated – and in a vinyl tile – on a vinyl asbestos tile, it certainly isn’t. I wouldn’t take it up; I’d leave it right there.

    SCOTT: It’s chipping in certain areas.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s minor, though. And even those chips, that asbestos is contained inside the vinyl. So I would tend just to leave it alone and I would put engineered hardwood right on top of that. Very frequently, you’ll put an underlayment in between. And I think that will do the trick.

    SCOTT: Mm-hmm. Alright. Thanks so much.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Barb in Iowa on the line who’s got a heating question. How can we help you today?

    BARB: Yes. My son recently purchased a house and it has the hot-water heat. And was wondering about if we replace that, if you’d suggest staying with that system or going with maybe the forced-air natural gas?

    TOM: Oh, no, I would – well, first of all, is it a gas-fired heating system? It’s just heated by hot water instead of ducts?

    BARB: Yeah, it has kind of – the radiators along the …

    TOM: Oh, listen, Barb, you’ve got the best heating system available. So, you definitely don’t want to take – never take apart a radiant system.

    Now, if you want to add air conditioning, you add a separate set of ducts for that. But you never disable that hot-water baseboard system because it delivers warm, moist heat. Now, most builders today don’t put these in because they’re too expensive. But if you bought a house that’s got one, you definitely want to keep it and enjoy it.

    BARB: OK. And then if – just repair it if it would need any …

    TOM: Well, I mean hot-water systems rarely need repair; it’s just that the boiler needs maintenance. But most hot-water, gas-fired boilers will last 25 or 30 years.

    BARB: OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement, your home design, décor, architectural, windows, whatever. We can help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, you may already recycle food packaging, including cans and plastic bottles, but did you know you can recycle items from just about every room of your house? Find out how to reduce waste from going to your local landfill, next.

    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 Chamberlain.com.

    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: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and this hour, we’re giving away a GelPro Comfort Mat worth $120. It’s a great mat for use in areas that have you on your feet for long periods – like in front of the stove, the sink or the workbench – because it offers dual-comfort technology.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You’ll get both the soothing, proprietary gel and an energy-return foam for a cool, soothing effect that’s going to cut down on the discomfort caused from standing for long periods of time. The mat features a stain-resistant, waterproof surface and it sort of molds to your feet to give you maximum support and stability. The GelPro Comfort Mat comes in several colors, so it’ll match your décor.

    TOM: It’s available at select Bed Bath & Beyond stores. Visit GelPro.com to learn more and give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    KATHY: I have a problem – not I but my daughter has a problem with her sliding doors.


    KATHY: In winter, it’s awfully drafty. And on a previous show, you mentioned a product to put on that you can peel off in springtime very easily and that seals the doors and windows. But I did not get the name, so that’s why I’m calling back, if you remember that or if you can help me with this problem?

    LESLIE: Now, Kathy, it’s a very common product that we talk about often. DAP has one; it’s called Seal ‘N Peel Caulk. A lot of different manufacturers make one. But once she seals this door, it’s not something that you’re going to want to peel off and reapply. Is this a door that she uses often or could she call this doorway closed for the season?

    KATHY: No, she doesn’t use it in winter at all.

    TOM: OK. So then you could seal it off for the winter, as long as – and the thing that concerns me, though, in telling you this is while you can seal it off for the winter, you’re also sort of sealing it shut. So if this is an emergency exit out of the house, in the event of a fire or something like that, you might not want to do this. But the product is a weatherstripping caulk. It’s clear; it looks like silicone but it’s not. And you essentially caulk drafty windows or doors. And then in the spring, you peel it off and it doesn’t damage the underlying door.

    But like I said, because it’s a door, we don’t recommend that you seal it shut because then you won’t be able to get out.

    LESLIE: And that’s a good option if the draft is coming in from around the door, like in the operable parts, the doorway itself, for lack of a better area to describe? If you feel that the draft is coming from the glass itself, there’s also those clear sheetings that you can attach, in addition to sealing off the other part, that you sort of blow-dry in place, that sort of seals off an additional layer if the draft is coming through the glass, as well. And a combination of those two things might work.

    TOM: It’s shrink film and it would attach to the outside frame of the door. It sort of has like a double-face tape attachment and then you heat it with a hair dryer and it shrinks and pulls really tight and taut. And of course, that would stop the drafts but in the event you had to get out in an emergency, you just break through and go on out.

    Alright, Kathy? So I hope that those are some good ideas that help you and your daughter out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Robert in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. I understand you’ve got a countertop question for us.

    ROBERT: My Formica countertops are starting to come unglued. And I’m trying to find out what a good glue would be to use to make sure that they are fully cemented back into place. It’s not a large section. It goes up about 8 to 12 inches at a time. I do have some C-clamps that I can use to fasten them down.

    TOM: As long as it’s the countertop that’s coming unglued and not you, Robert, we can help.

    What you want to do is use contact cement. Now, the area that is separated, with contact cement what you want to do is try to actually separate that area as much as you can because you’re going to kind of work in there. So if you can peel up the loose area, maybe put a piece of wood in there or something as a spacer to really have some area in there, do that.

    And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to pick up some contact cement. And contact cement is available as – in either water-based or solvent-based. The solvent-based works a lot better. So a small container of contact cement – not rubber cement, by the way – contact cement, specifically used for laminate. You brush it in there and as the name implied, it dries on contact. So you keep it separated while it’s drying, OK?

    And then once it’s dry – which just takes 15, 20 minutes – then you will pull out your spacers and press that laminate back down in place, working from back to the front. And you can put a towel over it or even a rolling pin works good and roll it down really, really good and really, really tight and that’ll hold it. But the contact cement is what you need. Any other type of adhesive that you – will not work.

    ROBERT: OK. So nothing like maybe LIQUID NAILS or anything like that would …

    TOM: No. In a pinch, for a tiny edge, yes. But if you have a separation like that, contact cement. That’s what it was done originally and that’s what will work. Just make sure you clean it, remove any debris that’s in there and be generous with the cement. Don’t make it lumpy but get good coverage, OK?

    ROBERT: OK, great. Thanks a lot for your help.

    TOM: Well, never to miss a holiday here on The Money Pit, you should know that on November 15th, we celebrate America Recycles Day. It’s a day that’s dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and a good time for tips about some of the household packaging that can be recycled, as we’ve learned from the experts at Plastics Make it Possible.

    LESLIE: Well, a wide variety of the food packaging that you use every day can be recycled in many of our curbside programs across the country. So, this includes milk and juice jugs, beverage bottles, yogurt and cottage-cheese containers, condiment containers and more.

    TOM: Now, recyclables are not limited to the kitchen, though. We can recycle shampoo and conditioner bottles, mouthwash bottles, hand-soap bottles, detergent bottles, bleach bottles and even more.

    LESLIE: Even plastic bags, films and wraps can be recycled by returning them to participating grocery-store locations. You just have to look for the recycling symbol on all of your packaging and then check with local programs to see what you can contribute.

    TOM: And to make sure you’re recycling everything you can, visit Earth911.com or IWantToBeRecycled.org and you’ll find out what’s accepted for recycling in your community.

    And this tip was presented by Plastics Make it Possible. For more information, visit PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.

    LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.

    JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.

    TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?

    JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.

    TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that upfront cost of running the heating ducts.

    If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.

    Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates. Because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.

    So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant upfront cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?

    JULIE: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Dottie in Nebraska is on the line and needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you today?

    DOTTIE: I’m replacing – will be replacing a vinyl floor in the kitchen. And I’ve never had a wood floor. I love the look of wood but I’m confused as to whether to go with wood or with laminate, because I want easy care.

    LESLIE: OK. And this is strictly for your kitchen or does it …?

    DOTTIE: We will be going into the dining room, too, we’ve decided. We’ll be taking up carpet in there to extend into the dining room.

    LESLIE: OK. So it’s – is it an open plan or is there a threshold or is there a division between these two spaces?

    DOTTIE: There is a counter between the two.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, for kitchens, hardwood floors are beautiful but generally, even if they have a commercial type of coating on them, they’re not really meant to stand up to the wear and tear and perhaps the moisture that could occur in a kitchen environment. I think a laminate is probably a better choice for you, just because of the way they are made. And the finishes on top of them make them more easy to clean, easier to deal with any spills that might occur and certainly more durable and of course, can look like anything.

    I actually just put a laminate, in a home I redid in California, that was a 6-inch-wide plank that had a hand-scraped finish on it. So it certainly had that warmth and look and a quality of a traditional hardwood that you’re probably looking for. And depending on the quality of laminate, you could get kind of close to a hardwood price but I think you can still keep it in your price range.

    DOTTIE: Yes.

    LESLIE: But you can find, certainly, beautiful options in the laminate. I think that’s probably the way you want to go for a kitchen.

    DOTTIE: OK. And see if you agree with this: I’ve been told that we have oak cabinets that are OK and not to try to match those. Is that right to go lighter or darker?

    LESLIE: Absolutely. What color is the oak? Is it sort of natural? Has it been stained a different tone?

    DOTTIE: It’s pretty typical, warm oak: kind of a golden – kind of a medium brown.

    LESLIE: I like the idea of a darker floor in a kitchen. I feel like it’s more forgiving. I feel like it makes the cabinets sort of jump off and create a more, you know, put-together look for a kitchen space. I think with a lighter floor, you’re always going to be trying to clean it and care for it, cover it up.

    DOTTIE: OK. And as far – I have a friend who put – I think she said hers is cherry but I love the look. It’s kind of a – the planks are a different shade; they’re not all the same color. Is that something you think that I could find or would that look nice with the oak?

    LESLIE: Now when you say “different shades,” is it strikingly different? Does it look sort of patchwork-y or is it more tonal?

    DOTTIE: No. No. More subtle than that.

    LESLIE: More subtle. I mean I think it could be a very good look if you’ve got the right look for your kitchen. That tends to be a more – not a hippie-dippie but Bohemian, free-spirited sort of eclectic look that’s very popular right now. So if you’ve got that look going in your lighting fixtures and in your tile work and in your countertops, then it could really tie it all in together.

    DOTTIE: OK. And one last question. That floor that I like is laid on the diagonal. Do you do that much and do you recommend that?

    LESLIE: Depends on the size of the space. Because if it’s a tighter or a narrow kitchen, it could look very busy. But if you’ve got a good expanse and the kitchen is fairly wide, then it could play very nicely.

    DOTTIE: Well, that’s wonderful. That’s what I wanted to know. I thought probably the laminate was better. I want it to look beautiful; I don’t want it to look fake.

    TOM: I’ll tell you, Dottie, I have laminate in my kitchen and I’ve had it for about 10 years now.


    TOM: It looks like a stone floor and it’s beautiful.

    DOTTIE: Wonderful. OK. And no particular brand tips or anything like that? Maybe you can’t do that. I’m really a novice here.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, you might just want to – a good place just to kind of shop for it is LumberLiquidators.com, only because they have good prices and they have a whole bunch of manufacturers there on their website.

    DOTTIE: Sure.

    TOM: So that might be a good place to start.

    DOTTIE: OK. I will do it.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you love the high-end, designer look of custom window treatments that you see in all those beautiful magazines and showrooms? Well, you can actually have that professional look without breaking the bank. We’re going to tell you how, 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 LutronSensors.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: And when it comes to window coverings, a lot of homeowners will buy something off the rack, so to speak, and call it a day. But by taking such little interest in your window treatments, you’re really doing yourself and your home a disservice.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s true. Only custom window coverings are going to give you the right fit, the right look, function and feel. Plus, the right covering can actually help save money on energy bills. And if you think the prices are not within reach, you couldn’t be more wrong. Blindsgalore.com offers custom treatments at every budget, so here to tell us more is Katie, the Blindsgalore designer.

    Hey, Katie.

    KATIE: Hi.

    TOM: So, thanks so much for spending some time with us. And I’ve got to tell you, is this one of those projects that people feel unnecessarily intimated by? You know, it’s like picking the right paint color kind of thing? People get paralyzed in the aisle of the store or staring at a screen online and just can’t make a decision? It’s not that hard, is it?

    KATIE: It’s really not. We do our best to make it really easy. We offer really easy-to-follow, step-by-step measuring directions. We have installation instructions to take any of the guesswork out of the ordering process. We offer measuring videos on our site that are a really great visual tool, yeah.

    We have an outstanding customer-care team and they’re always available to help with technical questions, whether it be measuring or installation or even design questions, if you just want another opinion on if this Roman shade will look great in your dining room or not.

    LESLIE: So, Katie, I think it’s interesting because window treatments tend to come and go in fashion as to what’s in style. So what’s in style, right now, that people are shopping for?

    KATIE: Sure. Well, lighter woods are actually becoming really popular, as well as drapery treatments in really bold colors, like really dark blues and purples. And we offer all of those.

    TOM: Now, it’s getting into the colder months now and a lot of folks are feeling drafts through their windows. If they can’t go for complete window replacements right now, cellular shades can offer some comfort. Are they popular, as well?

    KATIE: Absolutely. Cellular shades are really the best option when it comes to insulation. They’re the workhorse of window treatments when it comes to energy costs. They’re also referred to as “honeycomb shades.” That’s how some people recognize them.

    And they come in every color under the rainbow, in lots of different styles and many options. They can be cordless, they can be motorized, top down/bottom up. They’re great for windows and even skylights, which a lot of heat escapes through the windows in your ceiling. So, that’s another option. And they’re also good for sliding-glass doors.

    TOM: Now, how does that work? Because they’re sort of a – is there sort of a track that the cellular shade runs along when you’re using it on a skylight, which is almost a horizontal surface?

    KATIE: Correct. Yes. There are two tracks on either side. And then it can be lifted with a pole, operated.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s really great. Now, I think it’s interesting because people get very intimated. There are so many choices and you rattled them off very fluidly: top down/bottom up, motorized, all of these different things. So, as a homeowner, do you sort of assess what your needs are for that space? Or is there sort of a guideline to help you decide what’s the right shade or window-treatment solution?

    KATIE: Sure. Most customers have a general idea but that’s also what our customer-care team is for. If you really have no idea, feel free to call them. And if you’re more concerned with a look that you want, then they’ll help you with that. Or if you’re more concerned with functionality or child safety with a cordless treatment, there are so many different options that they’re very happy to help out with.

    TOM: And that website is Blindsgalore.com. It is a fantastic place to shop for window coverings, door coverings, skylight coverings. All sorts of blinds are there at Blindsgalore.com. Plus, you’ve got Katie there on site to help you with those important design decisions.

    Really enjoy your blog on Blindsgalore.com, Katie.

    Plus, the first 25 listeners who select Money Pit at checkout will get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So check it out today. Blindsgalore.com.

    Katie, thank you so much.

    KATIE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, tips to pick the perfect paintbrush for any project and how to say a lot of Ps without cracking yourself up, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, 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. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This hour, we’re giving away a GelPro Comfort Mat worth $120. Now, this is a great mat for areas that you have to be on your feet for long periods of time. And with the holiday season on us, we’re looking for lots of time spent in front of the stove, sink or if you’re a home improver, even the workbench. It’s going to offer dual-comfort technology; the soothing, proprietary gel; and an energy-return foam. So you’re going to get a cool, comforting effect when you are standing for those long periods of time.

    TOM: It’s available at select Bed Bath & Beyond stores. Visit GelPro.com for more info and check out the colors and the patterns available.

    Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Michael in North Carolina is on the line with a water heater that’s making some curious sounds. Tell us what’s going on.

    MICHAEL: Recently, the last four to six weeks, I’ve been noticing – it sounds like a bubbling and a popping noise inside of the water heater. I’ve read several things on the internet but I can’t quite put my finger on it and I’m worried that either the vessel is getting ready to go or – I’m not sure, at this point.

    TOM: How old is the water heater?

    MICHAEL: It looks to be of considerable age. I’m guessing between six and eight years.

    TOM: Well, water heaters generally go about 10 to 12 years, so that’s not – that’s kind of middle-aged; it’s not too terrible. By the way, if you look at the data plate on that water heater, usually there’s a date stamp sort of buried into the serial number. Sometimes, it’ll actually say what the date of the manufacture is or at the least, it’s going to have a gas standard in terms of which code it was built to and it’ll give you a year there. So you can get an actual sense of what the age of the water heater is.

    The noise is usually caused by a sediment buildup on the bottom of the tank. So, if you drain the tank occasionally, that will usually stop that. Have you ever drained your tank?

    MICHAEL: In the eight months I’ve been there, no. But I’d read something somewhere along the lines that you have to be very careful with – it’s got a plastic drain valve on it. And when you have a water heater that’s a little bit older, I guess they get – become brittle. And I’m worried about breaking that and making things much worse immediately.

    TOM: Well, you could very carefully try to drain the water heater. You simply hook up a garden hose to that spout; it’s designed to be drained. And let some of the water out of it and try to spill off some sediment with that. You get sediment on the bottom of the tank and that does tend to make it pretty noisy sometimes.

    MICHAEL: OK. Is there any chance that I have the temperature turned up too high and it’s causing – well, I guess not at 125 degrees. It wouldn’t cause a boiling, would it?

    TOM: No, it wouldn’t. And 125 degrees, though, is pretty hot. You really want it to be more like 110.


    TOM: Just for safety’s sake, if nothing else.

    LESLIE: Yeah, because you could easily get scalded.

    MICHAEL: OK. Alright. I’ll give that a shot.

    TOM: Well, painting is the one do-it-yourself project that probably seems the simplest to do. I mean how hard can it be to dip a brush in a can and shmear (ph) it on a wall? But that’s exactly why it’s even more frustrating when a seemingly simple project, like painting, comes out badly. And that’s what happens if you start with the wrong paintbrush.

    So, how do you choose the right brush for your project?

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, it all starts with choosing the right bristles. And that’s going to depend on the type of paint, stain or finish that you’re working with. Natural-bristle brushes or China bristles are designed for oil-based paints. These are going to give you a finish that are sturdy enough to clean with paint thinner or turpentine.

    Now, you can’t use natural bristles, however, for latex paints because they tend to soak up the water, lose their springiness and they’re just not going to perform well.

    TOM: That’s right. So, for latex paints or finishes, you want to use synthetic bristles. They’re really the best choice. And when it comes to brushes, you do get what you pay for. So, better brushes have more bristles and the bristles are of differing lengths and the bristles have split ends, enabling them to hold more paint. So, remember, split ends, bad for hair, good for paintbrushes. Lower-quality brushes can also leave ridges in the paint, as well as thin spots.

    So, hope that helps sort out what you need to know about choosing the perfect paintbrush. If you’d like more painting tips, we’ve got them online at MoneyPit.com.

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

    DANA: Well, I have a shelf that needs to be cut down so it’ll fit in the base of our A-frame cabin that we just bought in the Ozarks. And so it’s about 20 inches tall and it’s about 3 feet long and it kind of has those baskets that fit in it. And so, what I’d like to do is I’d like to cut it at an angle so that it fits back in there and it’s not just sticking out into the flooring space.

    LESLIE: So, Dana, what you need to do is that – really what you have to do is sort of resize this piece so that it will fit into that open-bay portion so that it’s not, as you say, sticking out into the room. And you really need to be creative with the angles to sort of figure out what needs to come out of where.

    Can you tell me a little bit more about this A-frame and the size of the shelf?

    DANA: Well, the A-frame is just a regular A-frame; it goes all the way from the top to the peak, all the way to the ground level. And so I was trying to figure out, how do you figure the angle so that I know what angle to cut this shelf on?

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a tool that you’re going to want to get: T-bevel.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: And it’s like a plastic handle with this sort of a tic-tac, oval-shaped blade that’s got a slide set in the middle of it.

    TOM: Blade. Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And you’re going to open that up. You can get that at any tool area at the home center.

    DANA: OK.

    LESLIE: And you’re going to want to open it up and you put that right in the corner at the angle and then lock it in that position. And then you go ahead and put that at your T-square and that’s going to tell you exactly the angle that you need to cut at. Or you can then take that T-bevel and go right up to the bottom of your shelf, put it exactly where you’re going to want to put that cut and mark that line.

    DANA: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s like an adjustable square and it’s called a T-bevel. And you should be able to find an inexpensive one, like Leslie said, at home center.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really is going to save your day and make this the easiest project.

    DANA: Ours …

    TOM: I use that all the time for different types of fancy mitering cuts in, too, because there’s a couple of tricks of the trade where you can measure an angle and then divide it so that you can make a miter that ends up perfect on both sides.

    And we also use it sometimes to set the angle on saw blades, so I think you’ll find that it’d be a very handy tool for this particular project. OK, Dana?

    DANA: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gary in Georgia on the line who wants to save the rainwater. What can we do for you?

    GARY: Yes, I do. My wife and I have a lot of grass to water during the summertime. And in Georgia, it gets like drought weather all the time. And we’ve noticed that during this – these months – we actually have a lot of water running off the house. And we wanted to know if there’s a way that we could create a water reservoir to save that water that’s coming off of our house.

    TOM: Yeah, you definitely can collect that rainwater. What you want is simply a rainwater harvesting collection system. And there are a lot of modern ones that are available. In fact, we wrote a story about this on MoneyPit.com. If you go to MoneyPit.com and just type in the search box “rainwater collection system,” you’ll see an article.

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you install it but again, there’s a wide variety of collectors that are out there. There are some that look they’re traditional barrels; there’s even one that looks like a half-barrel that’s got a hose spigot on the end, on the bottom of it. So it collects water off the spouts and then you feed it from the hose.

    So, it’s definitely a good system, a good idea. And there’s a lot of options out there and we encourage you to do that.

    GARY: And is this an easy project that I could do probably over the weekend?

    TOM: Yeah, clearly. You definitely just need to position this. Yeah, you’re going to have to – may have to rework your spouts a little bit to feed it but it’s definitely a very simple installation.

    GARY: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    And that article, again, is called “Rainwater Harvesting Collection System” and it’s online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Still to come, all that holiday cooking is sure to mean a bounty of holiday leftovers. We’re going to help make sure that your fridge can handle it without working too hard, with refrigerator-efficiency tips when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, 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 LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you can get The Money Pit direct to your ears when you subscribe to The Money Pit podcast. Pick up our latest show, delivered directly to you each week. Just click on the Radio and Podcast section on the home page of MoneyPit.com.

    And in addition to our weekly radio show, you can also subscribe to feeds of new articles, videos, blogs, you’ve got it. It’s on MoneyPit.com. Check it out today.

    LESLIE: Alright. And post your question in the Community section, just like Bronwen did who writes: “I have one cement step leading from a cement walk going up to our house. I want to install a railing. Can I put the bottom post on the cement base, the walkway, rather than on our first step? Would I damage the top step by drilling four holes in it?”

    TOM: Well, you should probably put it on the walkway because this way, it is down further. That’s actually where it belongs. And if you drill holes in it and you add screws – what I would do is I like to put a bit of silicone caulk into the holes when I’m drilling into masonry, because it helps seal them up. You don’t want water to get in there because it’ll cause that space to expand and crack and the railing will get loose. So that’s the way I would attach it to that cement walkway. I’d also attach it to the house, at the top.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Bronwen, you want to make sure that if you’re attaching into the concrete, you want to look at a fastener called Tapcons. They usually come with their own drill bit that’ll go right into the concrete. And it’s made specifically to drive the Tapcon into the cement, which will actually be the proper way to store it.

    And then the top railing, why don’t you put that, actually, into the house itself rather than the concrete?

    TOM: Well, Thanksgiving means turkey and all the trimmings, as well as my favorite: a whole lot of leftovers. I think turkey tastes better the second day, personally. Perhaps you agree.

    LESLIE: Me too.

    TOM: When it comes to keeping those leftovers around, though, for another meal, a refrigerator that is running at its best is key. So Leslie has advice on how you can improve your refrigerator’s efficiency, with this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, presented by Blindsgalore.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I’m with you, Tom. I always think the turkey tastes better on the second day. I don’t know if it’s because it’s had a chance to sort of get more tasty or you’re just over the fact that you spent five hours cooking for – that you can actually enjoy it.

    But here’s the deal: you need to make sure that your refrigerator is running optimally so that you can actually enjoy those leftovers. And first of all, you want to make sure that it’s not too cold. You’ve got to keep the temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. Also, you want to make sure that the seal is airtight so that the cold air isn’t escaping.

    Now, the best way to test this is with a dollar bill inserted into your door. Close the door. If you can slip it out easily when the door is closed, that gasket just is not working right. And you can replace those door gaskets and it’ll give you a better seal.

    Here’s another idea which you might not have considered. If you want to reduce the cost, be sure you cover your food. Why? Well, uncovered foods and liquids are going to release moisture, which makes your refrigerator work harder. And it might seem counterintuitive but a near-empty fridge uses more power than a full one. Here’s the deal: foods and liquids are going to collect and store the cold, so your fridge works harder to maintain that cold temperature when there’s less items in it.

    You also might want to take into consideration how much food you actually store. And if it’s not that much, you could consider downsizing to a smaller fridge. And that’s going to save you a bundle.

    TOM: Great ideas. And today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word was presented by Blindsgalore.com. For free samples, free shipping, free window expertise and truly amazing prices, go to Blindsgalore.com.

    And the first 25 listeners who select Money Pit at checkout will get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit. So go to Blindsgalore.com right now.

    And coming up next time on The Money Pit, much more than storage for just pots and pans, your kitchen cabinets define your kitchen’s style. So, if you’re in the market for a new kitchen, how do you decide? We’ll have advice on the different types, styles and materials that make up the best kitchen cabinets, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (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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