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How to Prep Wood For a Staining Job, Painting Adds New Life Without Spending Much, Add a Skylight to Vent Heat and Add Pizzazz, 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: Standing by to help you take on your home improvement project. We want to help solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? We want to make sure you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer by taking a step in the wrong direction. Call us; we can help, 888-666-3974. This is what we do. We’re here to listen, we’re here to diagnose, we’re here to give you good solutions that you can either take on yourself or get the right pro to do the job for you.

    And speaking of projects that a lot of folks are doing this time of year, one of them is staining. If you want to do a staining project and get it done right, the key is proper prep. We’re going to talk about how to get the wood ready – maybe you’re doing decks or furniture – to make sure that stain can stick. And if you do it right, you’re going to get a very long-lasting and good-looking finish for years to come.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, one of the simplest home improvement projects that really has the biggest bang for your buck is painting. And a good friend of mine from an old project I used to work on – maybe you’ve heard of it? Trading Spaces? Well, Paige Davis is joining us to talk about this simple rejuvenation.

    TOM: And also ahead, do you have a room in your house that has excessive amount of heat? A skylight might be one way to vent it and add some pizzazz. But is this a project that you could or should do yourself? Are there less expensive alternatives to skylights that do the same thing? Well, there are. Good answers to all those questions. We’ll share those, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, one caller is going to get the latest technology in lighting. It’s a GLOWr system. Now, these are really cool, illuminating discs that you can put anywhere, inside or out. It sounds like something Henry would just love. If it lights up, my five-year-old wants it.

    TOM: It’s a prize package worth 30 bucks, so give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Rick in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICK: When our house was built, in place of the usual wooden boards that are used to trim around the edges of the roofs and around the bottom of the house, they used a plastic composite-type material.

    TOM: OK.

    RICK: And it’s used in place of wood and it’s maintenance-free, lasts forever, that kind of stuff. With the exception that any place this wood is – this composite material is cut, it becomes kind of a haven for mold and mildew. And you get green growth there and it’s – you spend a lot of time and effort continually pressure-washing to clean it out. So, what I’m looking for is some means of sealing – is there some way of sealing this to prevent this mold growth on what is otherwise a maintenance-free material?

    TOM: Well, if it’s composite, it may be a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And that’s paintable. And so you could paint those areas and that might tend to seal it in a bit more. Because I think what you’re saying is that the cut areas are probably more absorbent than the surface areas and so you’re getting a little more moisture. Maybe it’s a trap. There’s a little rougher surface there that might be a trap for dirt that feeds mildew or algae and that sort of thing.

    So, what comes to mind right away is that you simply could paint it. But of course, you know what comes after paint: repaint.

    RICK: Exactly. It takes away the maintenance-free aspect of it.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RICK: But is there a type of paint that would be more conducive or last longer, like an epoxy-type paint or something like that?

    TOM: Not for a surface like that. No, you would just use an exterior paint and you would probably prime it first.

    RICK: So it wouldn’t be latex. It would be an enamel?

    TOM: No, you would use a 100-percent acrylic latex paint. That’s what AZEK recommends be used. And you also might want to take a look at Sherwin-Williams for the paint manufacturers. I know that they have paints that are specifically made for vinyl or PVC products, which is what that product is. AZEK is simply an extruded cellular PVC.

    LESLIE: Not everybody does this but some contractors tend to skip the step of filling holes when it comes to a composite trimming. You know, they’re like, “Eh, you can’t see it. It’s OK.” But this could give you the opportunity – if you’re going to paint the trim, as well – to go ahead and fill any nail holes. And that’ll really give it almost a more natural wood look, the brushstrokes. It could be a good thing.

    RICK: OK. Thank you very much. That’s a great idea.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Maryann in Virginia is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you today?

    MARYANN: We had a terrible windstorm here about a month ago and it just wreaked havoc to the roof. There were a lot of loose tiles and …

    TOM: What kind of roof do you have, Maryann?

    MARYANN: It’s just the basic asphalt roof right now?

    TOM: Asphalt-shingle roof? OK. Yeah, you said tiles; I just want to make sure we knew what kind of shingle you had, OK?

    MARYANN: Yeah. Right. And there’s just like one layer of shingles on and so the question that I have, really, is – the roof is only 17 years old and I know, just from living there 16 of those years, that we’re going to get these windstorms. And what I would like to know is what would be a good roof to replace this with or should we put a second roof on top of it or a metal roof?

    TOM: OK. So, kind of a multi-part question.

    First of all, let me ask you, how long do you expect to stay in the house, Maryann?

    MARYANN: Oh, a good while.

    TOM: Like a good while, like the entire life of the new roof?

    MARYANN: Sure.

    TOM: OK. So, here’s what I would suggest. First of all, if you’re going to be in the house a long time, we always recommend removing the first layer of shingles, not putting a second layer on. And here’s why: if you put a second layer of shingles on, because the first layer is underneath, it tends to act as sort of a heat sink; and because it stays hotter and warmer longer, it more quickly evaporates the oils and different materials that are in the shingles and causes them to fail quicker. So, the cooler the roof, the better. Take off the first layer of shingles.

    And so far as making sure that the roof is not going to blow off, there are high wind-resistant shingles that you can buy.

    LESLIE: And Owens Corning, they make a very attractive, sort of dimensional-looking asphalt shingle that I want to say goes up to 120 miles. So I – an hour. I would start off with their website. But you definitely want to get a roofing shingle that’s made to withstand high winds.

    And there are even some that will maintain higher wind gusts there if, say, you’re in Miami-Dade County. But I don’t think you need to be that crazy.

    MARYANN: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Maryann. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question or quite frankly, whatever you are working on at your money pit. We can lend a hand. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, have you ever taken on a staining project only to find out that the only stain that comes out perfectly is the one you dripped on your clothes? Well, we’re going to have some tips on the secrets to successful staining, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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 we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to win something that will make their life a bit brighter and safer, thanks to the GLOWr Illuminating Discs we’re giving away. These need no batteries or bulbs. Just 8 minutes of daylight delivers 48 hours of glow, so these are a great, sort of green way to add some light to dark sidewalks, driveways and decks.

    They’re worth 30 bucks, so give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win that prize package from GLOWr.

    LESLIE: David in Colorado needs some help installing some French doors. What can we do for you today?

    DAVID: We have a house with a really, really – it’s got to be 4 feet by 4 feet sliding glass. And we don’t like it, so we wanted to put French doors in there. And I didn’t know if we had to have a special permit or a special person do that. Or can I do it myself with the right instruction? And I’m pretty handy.

    TOM: So this is an exterior door?

    DAVID: Yes.

    TOM: And right now it’s a sliding-glass door and you want to convert it to a French door?

    DAVID: Yes.

    TOM: So, OK – so, a question. First question: “Do I need a permit or do I not need a permit?” I think if it’s a repair, which is a replacement of a door, I’m pretty sure you do not need a permit for that. But you should check, just in case.

    DAVID: Yep.

    TOM: Can you do it yourself? Have you ever replaced a door before?

    DAVID: Just once with the three hinges and just that. Nothing that big.

    TOM: It’s not a hard job, OK? But it can be a tricky job if it doesn’t go well. Because it’s super-important to get the whole door in there, attached properly to the frame, hung straight so that there’s no twisting or bending. And while it’s difficult to install a regular exterior door – a single-hung exterior door – it’s even more difficult to do a French door where you have two doors that close in on themselves. It’s not impossible but it’s sort of – it’s not Carpentry 101; it’s a little more advanced.

    DAVID: You guys know a resource that does that?

    TOM: Where are you located?

    DAVID: Colorado Springs.

    TOM: I’ll tell you the best way to find a contractor in Colorado Springs and that is to go to AngiesList.com and sign up for a membership. Not very expensive. And they’ve got great, real reviews of contractors all across the country. You’ll be able to find one that services your area and one that will deliver a really good work product, OK?

    DAVID: I appreciate that. You guys are great to listen to when I’m in your area. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, staining is a very popular summer project and it’s really not a difficult job. But if you want to do it right, you need to take the time to do the proper prep work. We’ve got some tips on how to do just that, presented by the experts at Flood, the wood-care specialists.

    TOM: Now, assuming you’re working on a big project like a deck, you really need to make sure that you’ve got enough time to get the project done with the weather. You want to make sure you’ve got at least a few days to tackle that project with no rain predicted and when temps also are not excessively hot. Timing is critical.

    Now, the wood also needs to be clean. If it’s not clean, it won’t take the stain evenly. So for that, what you want to use is Flood’s Cleaner and Brightener. This is a product that will remove any dirt that stands between you and a good staining result.

    LESLIE: Now, you can apply the cleaner uniformly all over your wood and let it sit there wet for about 20 or 30 minutes. Now, if it starts to dry, you just add some more water. After it sets, you rinse it with pressure from a hose. And you might really be shocked at just how clean and bright that wood has become.

    After that, you really need to wait a couple of days, just to be sure that the wood is good and dry. But once it is dry, you can go forward with your staining project. And when you see the results, you’re going to be so happy that you actually took the time to prep it correctly.

    TOM: That’s right. Patience is key. And you can see an instructional prepping video at Flood.com. While you’re there, check out all the different stains. They’ve got a full range, from opaque to natural colors. That website, again, is Flood – F-l-o-o-d – .com.

    LESLIE: Rose in Pennsylvania is on the line who has a problem – and I’m sorry to say in this horrific, hot summer – cooling her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROSE: Well, actually, it’s just one room. The house is air conditioned but we have a room addition that was put on over a concrete porch and below that, a basement. And I was told that we couldn’t get a duct or an outlet into this room. And I heard Richard Trethewey from This Old House talking. He was going to talk about heating and air-conditioning a room without ducts. And unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to listen to it and I wondered if you could tell me about that.

    TOM: Yeah. What Richard was talking about is something that we call “mini-split ductless.”

    Now, in a situation like this, a mini-split ductless system would be perfect. Because, like the name, you don’t have any ducts, so you don’t have to have a traditional air handler and then ducts that extend into the space.

    A mini-split ductless consists of a compressor that’s outside and then the air handler, which hangs on the wall inside your addition. And there’s a refrigerant tube and electrical wires that go from one to the next. And when the thermostat tells it to come on, the mini-split ductless system will come on. It will cool your house and it will also – could potentially warm it, as well, because you can get a mini-split ductless system that’s set up as a heat pump, as well as just an air conditioner. So you could have additional heat in that space, as well as cooling.

    They’re made by a wide variety of manufacturers. You could take a look at, for example, Mitsubishi.

    ROSE: OK.

    TOM: Mr. Slim makes one. Fujitsu makes one.

    And I have one in my office – actually, in my studio. And I have one in the studio because it’s so quiet, we can be on the radio even with the mini-split ductless running.

    ROSE: Well, that’s great. And the – if it had heating, obviously that would be an electrical heating, right?

    TOM: Well, it’s a heat pump.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. Because we have oil heat for the house and air conditioning but just this one room …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s electrical, yeah. But it’s a heat-pump system. Basically, the difference between heating and cooling, when you’re using this, is a heat pump reverses the refrigeration cycle so that you get warm air inside, as opposed to cold air.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. And are there any estimates, like just starting out, what price might be? I know it depends on, I imagine, the – how large a room is. But I just wondered, into the thousands, of course?

    TOM: Yeah, it will be into the thousands. I’m going to say probably a couple of thousand dollars.

    ROSE: For the unit plus installation?

    TOM: Right, exactly. Yeah. It’s not inexpensive but it’s a real problem-solver.

    ROSE: Right.

    TOM: And once you have it, you’ll be so much more comfortable. And you’ll get the use out of that room, you know? Right now, you can’t use the room too much, so you’ll get the use out of it.

    ROSE: Well, we have the door open and the air and the cool – heat comes in somewhat but you need a fan. In the winter, you need a little heater to add to it.

    TOM: Yeah, this is a perfect solution for you, Rose. Take a look at the mini-split ductless systems. They have to be professionally installed but it’s going to make you much more comfortable in that space.

    ROSE: OK. Well, thanks a lot and I do enjoy listening to you every week.

    TOM: Thanks, Rose.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Phil in Mississippi who has a lumber question. What can we do for you?

    PHIL: Hey. I recently – an opportunity to acquire about 500 treated 4x4x8 timbers.


    PHIL: And I’m fixing to start a new home construction in about the next 30 days and the only way I figure I’m ever going to be made of money is out of my sweat equity. So I was going to saw these in half and turn them into the 2x4s that I would use to – for my studs for my walls. But I was not sure if anything in those treated 4×4 timbers would leach out into the house over the years and cause any kind of harm due to the chemicals.

    TOM: Interesting question. Not that I can think of because we do use treated lumber for sill plates all the time and I’ve never heard an issue related to that. But boy, it’s going to be a lot of work for you to saw those 4x4s down to 2x4s because …

    LESLIE: Tom, any concern about the integrity of the lumber? Is there – because posts – well, traditional studs are kiln-dried and these are more wet from the chemicals that are used?

    TOM: Yeah. You may have a lot more movement inside the walls, that’s true. So you could get a lot more twisting as a result of this. I mean 4x4s are typically very wet and even if they look dry on the outside, once you cut them they could, basically, twist like a pretzel. So you may find that you frame walls with them and then you find out that the walls have all kinds of bows when it’s way too late to fix them.

    So, listen, the cost of 2x4s as part of the entire home construction budget is fairly minimal. So I would really think twice about whether or not it makes sense to do this. You might just want to hold onto them, use them for a retaining wall, use them for landscaping projects, that sort of thing. I don’t think, if it was me, I would consider this a good use.

    PHIL: OK. Well, that’s exactly what I needed because I had not even thought about them not being kiln-dry. I just assumed they were just like 2x4s, so that’s a good point.

    LESLIE: No, they’re so wet.

    TOM: Yeah, they twist like crazy. I’ve seen them twist 90 degrees sometimes; it’s really nuts.

    PHIL: Oh, wow. OK. Well, guys, I do appreciate it. You might have just saved me a major headache 20 years from now.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we’re so happy we could. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lotus in California is on the line with a sliding-door question. How can we help you today?

    LOTUS: Well, I’m very interested in finding out how to make my sliding-glass door – we have two of them but one of them gets a lot of usage. And all of a sudden, it’s just almost impossible to open and close.

    TOM: OK.

    LOTUS: So rather than replacing it, is there a way that I can fix it and not spend the money in replacing the door?

    TOM: Well, why is it hard to open and close it? Is it dragging on the bottom?

    LOTUS: It seems to be dragging on the bottom and it’s the last 4 or 5 inches when I try to close it that is really hard to push.

    TOM: So, if you look along the bottom of the sliding part of the door, there’s usually some pegs or plastic buttons that cover the wheel mechanism that’s under the door. And if you pop those out, sometimes you can stick in a screwdriver or an Allen wrench and adjust the height of the wheels. The wheels under the door move up and down and with a couple of clicks of a screwdriver or an Allen wrench, you could move those wheels.

    If those are accessible, you may try raising the door a bit to get it up off the ground. Because they may have worn and now the door bottom is actually dragging across the aluminum sill. But if you make the wheels a little deeper, you’ll get that clearance again. That’s the first thing I would try.

    LOTUS: I see, I see. So it’s a matter of pushing those up so that the door sits up higher, is what you’re telling me.

    TOM: Correct. That’s it.

    LOTUS: OK. I got it. Good. Well, thank you for your help.

    TOM: 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.

    Hey, you want to breathe some new life into a room without spending a ton of dough? We’re joined by Paige Davis with some tips on how you can do that, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And home improvement spending is going to surge this year by as much as 20 percent, according to one survey. But before you spend a dime, you want to make sure the projects are going to give you the most bang for your buck.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And one very inexpensive project that you can do in a weekend, that has huge impact, is new paint. And here to tell us more is my old friend, Paige Davis. She’s not old; she’s gorgeous. We’ve just known each other a long time.

    PAIGE: Yes. Like who are you calling “old,” Leslie?

    But yes, we go way back and it’s really great to be talking to you now.

    LESLIE: Well, Paige, now you’re the host of Home Made Simple on the OWN Network, which is very exciting.

    PAIGE: It is exciting. It’s a great, great show. It’s very similar to Trading Spaces in that I go with a team of experts into people’s homes. And we help them with all kinds of things, whether it’s design or cooking or organizing. All different things.

    TOM: Well, I’m surrounded by two home decorating divas, so let’s talk about that.

    Paige, I’ve been hearing Leslie’s two cents on this for many, many years but why don’t you talk about how do you get started with a room makeover project? Because you guys on TV, you make it look so easy but there’s a lot that happens behind the camera that we never see. So, for the rest of us mortals, how do we get started?

    PAIGE: Well, one of the things that happens behind the cameras, that a lot of people don’t see, is there’s a tremendous amount of preparation. What people should realize is that, of course, we have the proper tools on hand, we have the proper tape on hand, we have drop cloths on hand, we have spackle for fixing holes on hand.

    So when you’re getting ready to start a project, one of the best things to do is to make sure that you think it all through. Think ahead of time, “What am I going to need?” And if you don’t know, ask the person at the store, “What am I going to need? What are some of the pitfalls I might encounter?” So that when you begin the process, it’s a lot less stressful.

    LESLIE: And I think it’s interesting. You’re so right about paint being just a huge impact for very little money. But we’ve always, on the home makeover shows, used paint, I think, in an unusual way by applying colors in unexpected places. Is that sort of still the trend of what’s going on?

    PAIGE: Oh, absolutely. I mean the thing is is that on these shows that we’ve always done, don’t you feel like all the homeowners, when you go in and you talk to them, they say, “Well, I really just like natural colors and neutrals”? And the great thing about this survey is we’re finding out that people really do want color, which is exciting. And that’s why I’ve teamed with Sherwin-Williams to get the word out and to get excited about National Painting Week and everything.

    But you’re right. If painting all your walls is still a little too daunting for you, something that we’ve always done on these shows is we’ll paint pieces of furniture. You could pick a buffet, whether it’s one you already own or even something you pick up cheap at a thrift store. You sand that thing, you prime it and you paint it a bright red lacquer and you’ve got a statement piece in your room. Even if the rest of your room is all neutrals, the whole room will come to life in a way that it wouldn’t if it were just a pine buffet.

    But you can also just paint trim or just paint a banister or just paint the back of a bookshelf. There’s so many different ways to add color in just little ways.

    TOM: We’re talking to Paige Davis. She is the host of OWN’s Home Made Simple and the former host of TV’s Trading Spaces on TLC, another network that was well-populated by our co-host, Leslie Segrete, on While You Were Out and Trading Spaces.

    So, let me ask you guys both this question. I hear this time and time again. People think that any time you do something dark in a room, it makes the room look smaller. I know my wife, for example, was always – initially, until I influenced her – was afraid to put anything other than off-white on the walls. Because, as many people do, they think that any time you put a darker color on the wall, it makes the room look smaller. But don’t you think that just one dark wall as an accent can really give the room depth?

    PAIGE: You know, a wonderful place to get ideas – we just wrapped up National Painting Week. And you can go to NationalPaintingWeek.com. And on there, there’s all these bloggers who are talking about their projects and what they’ve done. So you can get advice, certainly, and also get inspiration. Maybe one of them has actually done a project where they paint their walls a dark color.

    I really think it’s a misnomer that it makes a room look smaller. I think it just gives room dimension, it gives it character. If anything, maybe it makes it cozier, which some people might think is smaller but I just think it’s exciting.

    When walls are just white, the eye has no place to go. And when the eye has no place to go, I think it’s like all the possibilities are gone. When the eye has a place to land, everything comes into focus and just makes a room come to life.

    LESLIE: Well, Paige, as always, you are on trend with what is going on in the painting field and making rooms feel more homey and of course, gorgeous. And we thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    And of course, you can catch Paige, now, as the host of Home Made Simple on OWN.

    Paige, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    PAIGE: Oh, my pleasure. Great to talk to you, Leslie.

    LESLIE: You, too.

    PAIGE: You, too, Tom.

    TOM: OK. Thanks, Paige.

    LESLIE: Alright. Always so good to catch up with Paige Davis.

    Thanks so much, Paige.

    Hey, guys, are you looking to redo a space and maybe add some more light and just refresh the look of a room? Well, why not consider a skylight? We’re going to have some tips on how you can choose the best one for your home, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.

    TOM: Making good homes better, that’s what we do. 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT so you can be part of the fun.

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to get a chance to win a new breakthrough in green lighting called the GLOWr. Now, these are actually lighting discs that only need about 8 minutes of daylight to sort of charge up and then they’re going to glow for 48 hours. They don’t need any batteries or bulbs. They’re a great, affordable alternative to electrical lighting and it’s worth 30 bucks.

    TOM: Yeah. You’ve got to check out these GLOWrs. They’re pretty cool. Then they spell GLOWr – G-L-O-W-r. In fact, if you just Google GLOWr – G-L-O-W-r – it’ll take you over to their website and you can take a look yourself.

    Cool prize going to one lucky caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Helen in Indiana is on the line with a driveway-sealing question. How can we help you today?

    HELEN: I have an asphalt driveway that when I purchased the home had some cracks in it. But it’s gotten worse and I now have a pothole.

    TOM: And it’s officially grown to be a pothole, huh?

    HELEN: Yeah. That’s what happens in the Midwest.

    TOM: Alright.

    HELEN: I’ve had some estimates and they’re way out of my budget. So what can I do to prolong the life and make it look a lot better?

    TOM: So there’s lots of stuff that you can do yourself.

    First of all, you do need to patch that hole. And at your local home center, you can find blacktop patch. It comes in a bucket – either a small, 1-gallon bucket or something even as big as a 5-gallon bucket – where it has some stone in it and it has the blacktop material. And it’s usually latex-based these days, too, which is good news.

    And you simply clean out the hole that you’re trying to fill, you trowel in the new stuff, you tamp it down. And you can do that with a board or something like that or – if you don’t happen to have a tamping iron.

    And then once you have the holes filled, then you want to work on the cracks. And as far as the cracks are concerned, the driveway sealers and crack fillers, there are some that come in actually caulking-like tubes that you can use to sort of roll into those cracks.

    So you seal those all up and then the last thing you do is to apply the asphalt sealer. And that comes in 5-gallon buckets and you buy an application tool for it. It’s kind of like a big squeegee. You start at one end and you squeegee it on, work down towards the other and you’re done.

    So it’s totally a do-it-yourself project. The best time to do this is when the weather gets to be around 50 degrees or so, on average. You don’t want to do it when it’s really hot out because it’s a difficult job and …

    HELEN: Like now.

    TOM: Yeah, like now. And it doesn’t dry that well. So you wait for slightly cooler weather and you can totally reseal that yourself. And then once you get all the cracks filled and the sealer on, then next year maybe you just do another coat of sealer and it’ll be really easy.

    HELEN: So it’s a three-step process.

    TOM: Pretty much. Patch the holes, patch the cracks, apply the sealer. That’s it.

    HELEN: I think that’s something I can do.

    TOM: Well, we’ve all got a room in our home that’s maybe a little dark, maybe a little dreary, one that really lacks any drama. And one way to remedy that is by installing a skylight.

    I like skylights because they can make rooms seem much larger than they are. You could use them strategically to vent excess heat and you can even do a bit of stargazing from your favorite indoor spot. But before you call up the contractor to install one, you first need to know which kind to get. Because there’s a – there are a number of choices that you have to make.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, skylights are available as either vented or non-vented units. Vented units are going to open and can even be programmed to do that automatically when the heat gets above a certain temperature range.

    Now, the type of glass in the skylight is another very important consideration that you need to think about. We would recommend the most energy-efficient glass possible, as this will really reflect the heat in the summer and not add to your home’s cooling requirements.

    TOM: Now, installing skylights is really a pretty big construction project. I’m not going to kid you. It’s something that you should not tackle on your own or certainly not unless you’re very experienced. Because aside from cutting the hole in the roof for the skylight, you also need to frame in sort of the well, which is the light shaft that connects the skylight in the roof to your ceiling below.

    There is another option, though. If you want to add a lot of natural light, though, without the major construction project, you can also consider something called a Solatube. Now, this is a tubular skylight. It’s really easy to install at the roof and then you have this mirrored, lined tube that goes down through the attic and connects to a lens that’s mounted on the ceiling below. Basically, it brings in very natural light and it can be installed in just a couple of hours, at a lot less expense than what it would take for a traditional skylight.

    So, those are some options. Definitely a great project to tackle this time of year. And I tell you, once you bring that extra light into your room, you’ll really wonder how you lived for so long without it.

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

    SUSAN: I have recently purchased a home and there are three areas in the home that seem to emit a cat-urine odor when it gets very …

    TOM: Eww. Yuck.

    SUSAN: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So, is it on – is it carpet? What kind of flooring you got there?

    SUSAN: Actually, I’m finding it in the garage, on concrete.

    TOM: Oh, OK. OK.

    SUSAN: And around the front door – which there’s a brick exterior and it’s a metal door. But then it also – have discovered that there’s an area in the bedroom. It seems to be under a window. So maybe on the drywall? The carpeting has been replaced.

    TOM: OK.

    SUSAN: The home – and when I purchased the home, the carpeting had been – all had been replaced.

    TOM: Well, here’s the thing. Let’s take it one area at a time. If it’s the garage and you have a concrete floor there, that could have absorbed some of that unpleasant liquid. What I would suggest you do is take the opportunity to add a new epoxy garage-floor paint to that surface. Very easy to do. Comes in kits. Made by lots of different manufacturers. QUIKRETE makes it, Rust-Oleum makes it. And basically, you mix up the paint and the hardener and it takes about 45 minutes to apply it and then a couple of hours for it to dry and probably the next day, you’re moving the car back in.

    SUSAN: Wonderful. That’d be a great idea.

    TOM: So I would definitely put an epoxy paint down. That will seal in any type of odor that’s there.

    Now, as far as that bedroom is concerned, my fear is that they pulled up the nasty carpet, put down new carpet but didn’t fix the problem underneath. But if there was dog or cat activity on that floor underneath, it should have been primed with an oil-based primer.

    LESLIE: And it could be that the padding wasn’t replaced, as gross as that sounds. But I mean that’s a possibility; you never know that.

    But Tom is right. If you have an odor issue associated with the carpet, when you pull up that carpet, that subfloor, whatever it is, does have to be painted with an oil-based primer just pretty much to seal in whatever is there.

    Now, at this point, I hate to tell you you’ve got to go back down to that point and do it but that’s really probably going to be the only way. Because come cooler months, you’re not going to notice it as much but add moisture, high temps, humidity, you’re going to get that scent back again.

    So, it’s possible that the same piece of carpeting can be reused but I would definitely look into making sure that that padding was replaced. If not, do it – and painting that subfloor.

    TOM: I would think that the carpet could definitely be reused. You basically just have to pull it back up, pull the padding up. If the padding is not new, it should be replaced. And if it is new, just peel it back, prime that whole area of the floor and then put it back together. So you’ll need a carpet installer to help you with this, because it has to be tacked in properly. But you can absolutely do it without damaging the existing carpet, OK, Sue?

    SUSAN: OK. Can I use just any oil base or do I need to use like a …?

    TOM: I would use KILZ – K-I-L-Z – or B-I-N.

    SUSAN: OK. Oh, OK.

    TOM: As long as it’s oil-based, I think it will do a good job of sealing it out.

    SUSAN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Sue, 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.

    Well, garages can be a really great location to tackle your home improvement projects but if they’re not properly insulated, they can also be driving up both your home heating and cooling costs. We’re going to have some tips to correct that, after this.

    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 guys should always be on the lookout for new and exciting things happening at MoneyPit.com. And of course, you can always head on over to the Community section where you can post your questions or just talk about what you’re working on.

    But Jack from Mississippi had this question to ask: “I recently redid my kitchen. I have a new stove and new everything.” Oh, that’s very exciting. “I seem to have more of a greasy film on everything after I cook. Is this a ventilation problem? Would installing a better fan help? Thanks for your answer.”

    I guess this is a new problem he wasn’t dealing with before.

    TOM: Yeah. And he’s probably using too much olive oil or something.

    LESLIE: He’s excited. It sounds like he’s cheffing (ph) it up.

    TOM: Exactly. You know, one of the things to consider with kitchens is the ventilation fan. And there are a wide range of qualities in terms of what – how much air that pulls out of there. It’s measured in cubic feet per minute. And a weaker fan is not going to do a very good job of reaching into the area where the grease is released to it and capturing that and directing it outside. And certainly, a recirculating fan would not do a very good job.

    So, one thing that you might want to think about doing is to upgrade the quality of the exhaust fan. Take a look, for example, at the exhaust fans that are made by Broan-NuTone. Very good-quality exhaust fans available in a wide variety of sort of capabilities. And I think you’ll find that if you use a really good-quality exhaust fan, you’re not going to have this issue in your house, Jack.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got a quick question here from Betty in California who writes: “How often are you supposed to pump out your septic tank? I’m wondering if it’s supposed to be every one year or three years. I’m getting duped by my contractor. Please help.”

    TOM: You really don’t have to pump your septic tank very often. Generally, you do it every five years or so and it’s only to sort of clean out solids that accumulate in the bottom of the tank, that aren’t deteriorated by the bacteria that’s in there. So I don’t think it’s an annual thing. It’s not like it fills up and overflows with solids. They will naturally disintegrate and go in the leach field and disappear. So every few years is my answer to that question, Betty.

    LESLIE: Alright, Betty. I hope that helps you make the right decision with your pro.

    TOM: Well, if you’re struggling to keep your home cool this summer, you might want to consider your attached garage because that can add to the struggle. Leslie has tips on how to reduce those cooling costs by improving your garage, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, keeping your garage as cool as possible is not just about giving your cars a luxurious environment to kind of hang out in. That is, if you actually put your cars in the garage. My garage has never seen a car and I doubt it ever will. But I mean if you guys have been in there in the warmer months, as I’m sure all of us DIY addicts out there are constantly in this improvement space, you know that your garage can become super-hot in the summer. And that can send heat into your home.

    Now, to stop this, it’s really important that all of the walls in the garage are insulated. A lot of homeowners think that the garage itself has insulation but not really. You should also insulate the ceiling overhead and the additional exterior walls that are in that space.

    Now, if you’re well-insulated and still reaching record temps in there, it might be worth adding some air conditioning. You can go with a split ductless system; it’s really the best way to go. It’s an air handler that mounts on the wall inside the garage, with a smallish compressor positioned outside.

    Tom and I both have one of these. It’s rectangular; it’s not gigantic, the compressor; it doesn’t take up a ton of space. And they really can be perfectly sized for your average two-car garage. And some of the more efficient models that you can get will even qualify for tax credits, so shop around. And consider it if you do have this void of a hot and cold that’s affecting the heating conditions and cooling conditions for your home.

    TOM: And speaking of garages, one of the ways that you can fix up your garage is by painting the floor. There are a lot of garage-floor paint systems out there and we’re going to tell you how to pick the best one for your home, 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 2013 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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