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How to Use Color on Your Ceiling, Propane Tank and Gas Grill Safety, Why Prefinished Hardwood Floors are a Good Choice 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: Happy Fourth of July Weekend, everybody. Hope that you are having a very restful and fun weekend, with a little bit of home improvement projects sprinkled in between. If that’s you, we can help, though. Pick up the phone and call us and help yourself first, though. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Before you pick up a paintbrush, pick up the phone. But if you are going to pick up a paintbrush, we’ve got some tips for you this hour about how you use color. If you’re going to paint an interior room this summer, we want to suggest that you consider the fifth wall. What’s the fifth wall, you might ask? Well, it’s your ceiling and it’s a great place to add a shade of color that can really add a layered effect to your total color scheme and give your room some new personality. We’ll have some tips on how you can do that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I love to do that. I always talk my clients into it; they always seem apprehensive but it makes such a beautiful, finished product.

    Well, this weekend, I bet a lot of you guys are using the grill out there, so we’re going to give you some easy tips for grilling safely, including how to make sure that your propane lines, your burners and your tank are all in good shape. We want you to have a good time but we want you to be safe.

    TOM: And later, hardwood floors have come a long way. You know, it used to be that installing, sanding and finishing them required a boatload of work, not to mention some very specialized tools. But now, that is all behind us thanks to major advances in prefinished hardwood floors for your home. We’re going to have some tips on the latest technology, a little later in the program.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a prize pack from our friends over at AM Conservation that’s going to help you save water, energy and money.

    TOM: It’s worth 40 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who has the courage, the fortitude, the determination, the pure DIY joy to pick up the phone and call us right now with their question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    ED: I have an insulated concrete form home and have a dimple fabric – think of an egg carton made into a plastic roll.

    TOM: Great. Right.

    ED: It’s called Platon. And it’s attached with their clip system to the outside of the foundation walls, for waterproofing. That was followed on by a trowel-on coating to transition to the vinyl siding before backfilling. So that sounds all fine and great.

    But as the backfilled earth settled, it pulled on this Platon material, breaking the nice, flat, top-edge seal against the ICF block and tearing that trowel-on coating. So now I no longer have an aesthetically-pleasing transition and mice are actually using the torn spots in this trowel-on coating to gain access to the inside of the house, crumbling up the outside of the home until they get access to the attic, if you can believe that, on a two-story.

    TOM: Wow. Wow.

    ED: So what can I do about this?

    TOM: You can use an epoxy patching compound and put it back together again. That’s what I would use. You can’t – obviously, you can’t use more concrete but you could use an epoxy product.

    LESLIE: And that’s the only thing that’ll cause everything to stick back together.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s a website called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. It has a lot of industrial-strength products like that and you can find one for – that will work in this particular application.

    But how do you like the ICF home? I mean we covered those years and years ago. Insulated concrete form homes, for those of you that are not aware – or I always describe them as sort of LEGO blocks for adults. You stack these hollow blocks up and then they’re filled with concrete and they become the walls and you can get a house that’s pretty well-insulated. Are you finding that you get good energy savings in this home?

    ED: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. It’s 5,200 square feet and my utilities average 130 bucks a month.

    TOM: That’s unbelievable.

    LESLIE: Wow, that’s great.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah. When I saw that technology, I thought to myself, “If I was building another house today, that’s definitely the way I would go.” Insulated concrete form homes are just fantastic. They’re also storm-proof and very, very weather-resistant, as well.

    So, it sounds like one minor maintenance hassle, Ed, that you’ve got to deal with here but I think an epoxy patching compound is your solution.

    ED: So when I apply that, am I trying to repair this trowel-on material with that which actually pulled away from the house or what am I doing? Or am I peeling off that stuff first?

    TOM: Yeah, I think you can repair the material. I think you can also seal in the gaps that have now formed between the trowel-on material and the exterior wall. Because epoxy is a product that has very, very excellent adhesion, so you’ll have a lot of flexibility as to where you can use it.

    ED: OK. I’ll absolutely give that a whirl because prior to calling you guys, I was planning on excavating and reapplying another layer of Platon. This sounds way easier than that.

    TOM: Yeah and let’s try this first because even if you reapply, remember, you’re going to still have the same adhesion issues. And I think you’ll find that the epoxy products are the way to rock on this one.

    ED: Guys, thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ed. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lorraine in Georgia is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    LORRAINE: We are in the process of remodeling a 108-year-old farmhouse and we want to do it right. It was my grandfather’s. We’re going to be renting it, so we’re trying to watch our expenses. In the kitchen, we had to go down to the floor joist and we are going to put back on top of it a subfloor called AdvanTech.

    TOM: OK. Uh-huh.

    LORRAINE: And what we were initially talking about doing was putting cement board on top of that and then doing a 20×20 porcelain tile?

    TOM: OK.

    LORRAINE: But I’ve heard about a product called Schluter-DITRA and they’re saying that tiles won’t ever break if you use that. And I’m trying to watch what we’re putting into this house because it is going to be a rental. But we’re trying to figure what would be better: to put cement board and then the porcelain tiles or the large tile or do the Schluter-DITRA.

    TOM: Lorraine, it’s a good question. The Schluter-DITRA that you’re referring to is essentially a membrane that goes under the tile but it’s pretty complicated to install. Because on top of the plywood subfloor, you would have to put mortar; then you’d have to put the membrane, then more mortar, then the tile.

    Another thing to consider is that if you are going to use 20-inch tile, that floor has to be absolutely rock solid because the bigger the tile, the easier they break. And so if you have any flex whatsoever, you’re going to have broken tiles. And especially since you mentioned that this is going to be a rental situation, you don’t want to have that kind of maintenance.

    So what I would suggest, especially since you’re starting from scratch, is why not just do a standard, old-fashioned but always reliable mud floor where you put in a mud underlayment. It’s reinforced with mesh and then once it dries, it’s rock solid; there’s no bend, there’s no flex and you can put your tiles down right on top of that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I imagine the cost is going to be far less than going for something as high-tech as that substrate you’re talking about.

    LORRAINE: OK, so that might be the better way to go.

    TOM: Alright, Lorraine. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-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, home improvement, whatever-you-are working-on question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, is your ceiling just plain, old white? Well, there are no rules that say your decorating has to stop at the walls. We’re going to teach you how to use that ceiling as a fifth wall that’ll add color to your décor and make the total room pop, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we love to give you great prizes to help you be home improvement savvy, because Tom and I both grew up in homes where our moms would say, “Rinse those dishes, rinse those dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.” And I think it was just a ploy to get us to do more work.

    In fact, up to 6,500 gallons of water a year are wasted pre-rinsing those dishes, Mom. So you don’t have to do that and that’s according to the folks over at Consumer Reports who say there’s no need to pre-rinse those dishes. But if you want to get the excess food off of them, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because this hour, we are giving away a do-it-yourself, deluxe home-energy and water-savings kit.

    And there are all kinds of things in there that you’re going to need to help you out with those projects, like the Dish Squeegee, which is a flexible, silicone scraper that will pre-clean those dishes without water. And the prize pack is worth $40 and it’s great on this Independence Day weekend. Really think about conserving energy and giving back to America.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, paint is a very inexpensive way to update the look of your room, as well as a good way to keep your home maintained. And according to the experts at Behr, the latest trend in paint to consider is your ceiling and using that as what they are calling “the fifth wall.” That means add some color to it; it doesn’t always have to be stark white. If you use the ceiling for a layer of color, it’s a very unique way to accent your home’s personality.

    And you’ve been doing this for quite a while, haven’t you, Leslie?

    LESLIE: It’s always been a decorator’s trick of the trade and it’s not for every client and it’s not for every person. Some people really need some convincing to jump on board with this concept. But if you’re feeling timid about it, generally in a master bedroom, you’re going for a color on a wall that’s really soft and soothing that’s going to help you relax but create a beautiful, tranquil space.

    Now, in a master bedroom like that, especially if I’ve got an amazing chandelier or a fixture in there for lighting that’s dimmable, to set the mood, I’ll paint the ceiling in there a soft, blushy, peachy, pale pink, depending on the wall color. You want to find something that’s in the lightest hue where it’s a like a tinted white almost. And that really does a wonderful job of just softening the lighting that’s cast in that room and really giving you a nice, warm feeling when you’re in that space.

    Now, the same thing goes, if you’re painting, say, a small powder room a really bold color, go ahead and paint the ceiling the same exact color. And you’re going to think, “Ugh. It’s going to make that room feel really small.” You know, it does quite the opposite; it actually enlarges the space and makes it feel much bigger. You just have to have the courage to actually do it, which a lot of people get fearful of, but you can do it.

    And you know what? In the bottom line, if you don’t like it, you can always paint over it. But simply start by working with a color that really compliments your wall color and going in a super-super-super-soft shade. You can go even with something that has a hint of metallic, just to give you a reflecting point for light. Don’t be afraid; choose a great lighting fixture. Always put it on a dimmer and use that ceiling as your fifth wall, because it’s a great opportunity to really personalize your rooms.

    TOM: Now, if you are going to take on that painting project, there are a number of great products that can help. In fact, the latest addition to Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra paint-and-primer-in-one line has some time-saving products you might want to take a look at. Behr’s Stain-Blocking Ceiling Paint, for example, is a great place to start.

    The paint actually features NanoGuard technology and that’s formulated to block most household and water stains, which is a very, very common homeowner complaint; we’ve heard it time and time again. People paint over things and they come back. Well, if you use the NanoGuard technology in the Behr Stain-Blocking Ceiling Paint, that’s just not going to happen.

    This paint is also spatter- and drip-resistant which is – by the way, the reason they call it ceiling paint, it actually doesn’t drip as much. It makes it perfect for use on the ceiling and it dries to form an antimicrobial, mildew-resistant layer, which stops that mold from growing on it and it’s backed by a lifetime guarantee.

    The flat sheen also hides any minor surface imperfections. That can be very important on a ceiling, especially if you have light – a lighting fixture there where light comes on and casts across it. If you have any imperfections, you’re going to see them but if you’ve got a flat sheen, you won’t.

    And of course, to Leslie’s point, it can be tinted in many, many colors.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if color seems fearful for you, Behr has a great ColorSmart feature that’s available as a mobile application. It’s really the first of its kind, because you can take a picture of your room with your iPhone, then use this app and you could touch and tap technology to preview those colors on your own walls, on your ceiling, on your trim to see exactly what your room is going to look like.

    And best of all, it’s free at the Apple App Store, so visit Behr.com for some more great ideas and information today.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call if you need some additional information on how to tackle your next project.

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

    KEN: So I’ve got a house that I want to put a back porch on but I want to have a covered back porch on it.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And I’m looking at a back porch that’s going to be about 40-foot long and about 12-foot deep. And basically, the deck part of it, I don’t have a problem with that but I don’t feel comfortable doing the roof part and tying that into the rest of my roof.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And I guess my questions kind of revolve around – if I go ahead and build the deck myself, do I need to go ahead and put in 4×4 or 6×6 beams that are going to support the roof? Or can I just build the deck and when the guy comes to do the roof, will he just put beams on top of the porch and build it on the existing structure? Or what’s the best way to go about doing that, I guess?

    TOM: The best way to do this is to have a design that incorporates both the deck and the porch-roof structure above it, because what you would do is you would have columns that basically went from grade up, supported the deck and all the way up and supported the girder that will hold the roof.

    KEN: OK.

    TOM: So I would invest some time into getting a design complete that is going to address this whole thing. Alright? Then you frame the whole thing first …

    KEN: OK. So really just go do that ahead of time.

    TOM: Yeah, I know what you’re saying, because you’re comfortable doing the deck; you feel like you have the skill set to do that. You’re asking, “Can you do it in steps?” You can. That’s what most people do because they decide to put the roof on as an afterthought. But if you do have this vision of doing it all, I would definitely build it all at the same time. It’s going to come out a lot better and it’s going to look like it was always supposed to be that way, as opposed to something that was an afterthought.

    KEN: OK, OK. And then let me just follow up on that. What is your take – if I’m building a deck of that size, is it really worth it to go with a composite material?

    TOM: Well, it depends. I mean how do you feel about maintenance? You know, the composite material is going to give you a lot of longevity and it’s come a long way and there’s a lot of options. And I think it’s definitely something to consider.

    KEN: In general, it’s about twice the price, right?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s more expensive but there’s no staining, there’s no sealing, there’s no cracked boards. It looks – 10 years down the line, it looks just as good as the day you put it down.

    KEN: OK, OK. Alright. Well, I think that’s the answer to what I was looking for, then.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Estelle from New Jersey on the line who’s got a brick question. What can we do for you?

    ESTELLE: Yes, I have a 1937 Victorian-style duplex and I’ve had it about four-and-a-half years and it has a red, clay, brick basement.

    TOM: Oh, that’s pretty.

    ESTELLE: Every time I go down there, there’s powder on my shoes that tracks the carpet and it’s sort of powdering off and there’s piles of red clay dust in corners.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s probably mostly efflorescence. You may be getting some moisture that’s getting into those walls and it could be freezing and spalling a little bit at the same time. And so that’s kind of what you’re seeing. And I would address the moisture issues on the outside of your house first, so …

    LESLIE: And that – yeah, Estelle, that’s really easy to tackle. You want to make sure that the house has gutters and that they’re clean and that the downspouts are free-flowing. And you want to look at where those downspouts deposit the water. You want to make sure that it’s not just hitting right next to the foundation wall. You want to go out 3 feet or more, if you can. You want to look at the grading around the perimeter of your house; make sure it slopes away from the house. Just by maintaining those things, you’ll see a much drier basement.

    Now, Tom, can she use a vapor permeable sort of coating or painting: a clear coat on top of that brick on the interior?

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You could use a Thompson’s WaterSeal or a product like that. And what that does is that will help seal in any looseness on the surface but also help prevent some of the normal evaporation of moisture through those walls and out.

    ESTELLE: Oh, OK. That sounds great.

    TOM: But you can’t do one without the other. You really need to start with the drainage issues first, OK?

    ESTELLE: OK. That’s great.

    TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project, Estelle. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got David on the line who’s dealing with a driveway versus a tree scenario. Tell us what’s going on.

    DAVID: Thanks for taking my call, you guys. Yeah, the house was built in 1974 and I’m sure the driveway was probably poured the same time. So it’s a concrete driveway and the problem I’m having is I’ve got beautiful oak trees all along that line the driveway but the driveway is starting to get some buckles, starting to get some cracks.

    The worst places I’ve fixed and there’s no possible way I can match the concrete, so I’m getting this checkerboard – checkerboard is probably a kind word. Just real nasty-looking pattern. I don’t know where I should go from here: if I need to replace the driveway, which I don’t have the money to do, or is there some other alternative that I could be looking at.

    TOM: Do you like your trees?

    DAVID: I do. Yeah, that’s really not part of the scenario and that was part of the (inaudible at 0:19:04).

    TOM: Yeah, this is the price you pay. This is the price you pay. Look, you can keep trying to seal it and fill it and repair it and patch it but it’s just going to look worse and worse and worse and eventually, you’re going to want to just replace it.

    If you do replace it, you might want to think about – you love the trees; it’s going to continue to keep happening. You might want to think about just replacing it with paver bricks, because you can take apart your driveway every few years when the roots get crazy and cut them down a bit and then basically put it all back together again the same way you took it apart.

    DAVID: Alright. Well, thank you guys so much. I greatly, greatly appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, there has never been a question about this, Leslie. Hardwood floors add value to your home.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they sure do.

    TOM: But did you ever ask yourself why? Well, part of the reason is that for decades, they were a very expensive luxury item. But not anymore. Prefinished hardwood floors are here to stay and we’ll have tips on the latest technology in prefinished floors, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    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 I’m sorry to break it to you, folks, but it is allergy season. We are full-blown in the middle of it. Pollen counts are high and those who suffer are suffering big time. You know, seasonal allergies may be hard to deal with but what if you are allergic to dust? That is around 24-7, 365 days a year and twice as much dust. And if you are in a house like mine with three kids in it.

    LESLIE: So, obviously, you invest in tissues if you have any allergies.

    TOM: We do.

    LESLIE: Well and another good idea if you do suffer with dust allergies and even dust-mite allergy sufferers is to get rid of as many fabrics that you have in your home as you can.

    For example, why not replace your wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors? Because not only are you going to cut down on the dust that gets held in by the carpet but it’s actually going to add a valuable and really beautiful look to your room.

    TOM: Now, your only problem is what kind of wood floors should you go with? Well, to find out, we welcome Tom Sullivan. Tom is the founder and chairman of Lumber Liquidators, a one-stop resource for all types of wood and laminate flooring. And he joins us now to tell us about one good option, which is prefinished hardwood.

    Hi, Tom.

    TOM SULLIVAN: Hey, Tom. Hey, Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome to the program.

    TOM SULLIVAN: Thank you.

    TOM: We’ve been talking about hardwood floors. We get more questions about hardwood and flooring than really any other topic on the show and have for quite a few years.

    And back when we started the show 10 years ago, prefinished was just kind of getting its start. And it was hard to draw a distinction – in my mind, at least – between prefinished and on-site finished because they were fairly comparable. But now, completely turned around. The finishes that you guys are putting on floors are unbelievable. They are so incredibly tough that they really are almost lifetime quality, wouldn’t you say?

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yes, definitely. With regular use, you will get a – definitely get a lifetime of use out of them, at least.

    TOM: Now, talk to us about the Bellawood product, in particular, because that one has been getting the most press from you guys.

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah. Bellawood is a line of flooring we’ve carried for a while. It has a lot of exotic flooring in it. The finish is what really separates it from anywhere else, as well as the quality of the wood. But the finish is the big thing; it has a high amount of aluminum oxide in it, which gives it a very strong Taber test.

    And we’ve just – they’ve had a 50-year warranty. And we’ve just increased that to 100-year warranty. We changed some stuff in the finish and our Taber test has always been about double anyone else’s and sometimes triple.

    TOM: Did you say a 100-year warranty?

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah, 100-year warranty and it is transferable.

    TOM: Wow.

    TOM SULLIVAN: So if you buy or put it in your house and you sell your house, you can transfer it to the new buyer.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great.

    TOM SULLIVAN: I believe that is the only warranty in the flooring business that you can do that with.

    TOM: Now, being a flooring guy, you use these terms like we talk about milk and butter, so I want to back you up for a second. And you mentioned Taber test.

    Now, I know what a Taber abrasion test is but I’m willing to bet that most of our listeners don’t know what that is. I think it’s an important point to understand, because it really is the proof of how tough a finish is. Can you explain that process and how it’s used to determine how long the finish can stand up to time?

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah. Basically, what it is, is a wheel that rotates. It has a weighted wheel with sandpaper on it and each rotation is one Taber. And so, typically, ours is around 1,600, which means 600 rotations with that wheel before it goes through the finish into the wood.

    TOM: So a fancy way of saying, “We try our best to sand the finish off and see how long it’ll stand up.”

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah. Yeah, it …

    LESLIE: And now, with your 100-year warranty – which I really think is fantastic, because I mean it’s really unheard of. But you’re right, this transferring option is just the first of its kind because when you do sell the home and you put the product in, it’s sort of like, “Oh, well. Now, you’ve got the product and you’re the new owner but it’s – the warranty doesn’t stand up.”

    So, is there a sort of a strenuous process that the new homeowner is going to have to sort of jump through to make sure that this warranty continues?

    TOM SULLIVAN: No, no, nothing. It just transfers, so they – the next person could just take the warranty and use it. We started seeing a lot of when – in the advertising for people selling their houses, they would put in the – as the features in the house, that it had Bellawood flooring. So we do know it’s a selling point for a house to have hardwood flooring in it and even more so with Bellawood. And now, if we can make it transferable, it’s even a better selling point.

    TOM: Now, Tom, tell me about the UV-resistance of these products, because sometimes we get calls from folks that pick up a throw rug and find a distinctly different-colored floor underneath. And they’re just wondering what they can do about that. That really comes into the UV-resistance issue, doesn’t it?

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah. You’ll get – it has some UV-resistant in it but it’s the wood that’s changing. American cherry, Brazilian cherry and some other woods – Brazilian koa is another one – that when it is exposed to the sun, it will change. It will get those – all those three woods will get darker, much darker. If you could take a piece of that wood, put it outside in the sun, cover half of it and you’ll notice even in a day, that’s a big difference from the part that’s exposed to the sun.

    TOM: So, chalk it up to charm?

    TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah, that – it creates a beautiful color as it ages. The cherries become even nicer. It’s not a defect in the wood; it’s just – it’s a natural product that it will change. And one – we tell people, either – depending on how much sun the room has, you’re going to – when you put it in, it’s going to look very light but when it gets exposed to the sun, it’s going to get darker and you may want to keep the rugs – throw rug – out of that room until it changes.

    But even if you have it there and you move the rug later, you will have a spot there but it’ll all blend in once that exposed area gets exposed to the sun, as well.

    TOM: Good advice, Tom Sullivan, Founder and Chairman of Lumber Liquidators. Thanks so much, Tom, for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SULLIVAN: Sure. Thank you.

    TOM: Take a look at the Bellawood prefinished hardwood product at LumberLiquidators.com. Soon to bear the 100-year warranty.

    LESLIE: Alright, Tom. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Hey, still ahead, are your electric bills sending shockwaves through your wallet? Well, LED bulbs save money in two ways: they actually use less energy and they don’t need to be replaced as often. We’re going to tell you all about it, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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: Hey, did you know that a hidden source of energy loss is through outlets on outside walls? If you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, this hour we’re giving away the DIY, deluxe home-energy and water-saving kit from AM Conservation.

    There are all kinds of things in there to help you out, including the Plug Guard, which is an outlet plate that will seal out drafts and actually act as a child-safety accessory. It’s pretty cool; it’s spring-loaded with doors that slide open when you need them to plug in stuff and then automatically close when you don’t.

    The total kit is worth 40 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random of those we talk to on the air this hour, so pick up the phone and make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. And maybe you are looking for some more energy-saving tips. And another great way to save energy is to use LED bulbs around your house.

    And now, more and more Americans are actually switching to these LED bulbs, which is good news because soon, you’re not going to have a choice. Because incandescent bulbs are not going to be available starting next year; they’re going to phase out gradually but starting next year. In fact, these LED bulbs offer great energy savings, because they use up to 85 percent less energy than those incandescent bulbs that I do love and everybody else loves. But we have to make a change.

    And they also last much longer. They’ll burn for 25,000 hours, which is about 25 times longer, which is huge.

    TOM: Than a normal bulb.

    LESLIE: Right. And LED bulbs don’t contain mercury and they don’t put off ultraviolet rays, so you don’t have to worry about fading your furnishings or your floors.

    And if you were thinking that they only gave off that kind of unnatural-looking color, well, you’re wrong. These LED bulbs, they come in a wide range of color temperatures, which make it super-easy to find that color temperature of lighting that’s going to work for you.

    TOM: Now, The Home Depot has a huge selection of LED bulbs and one of the ones that I like, that’s just rolling out now, is this Philips 12.5-watt light. It’s an ambient LED light bulb in the A19 size. And that’s how you know what fixture it will fit. It’s a 60 …

    LESLIE: And that’s like a regular light bulb.

    TOM: That’s like a regular light bulb, right. And it’s an excellent replacement for a 60-watt light bulb you might have in a table lamp or a ceiling fan. It’s got very soft, white light when it’s on and it’s sort of just like an incandescent bulb. But unlike the incandescent bulb, this thing will save $130 in energy costs over its life.

    LESLIE: Per bulb?

    TOM: A hundred and thirty bucks per bulb over the cost of a regular bulb.

    LESLIE: That’s huge.

    TOM: And it lasts more than 20 years. The Philips 12.5-watt ambient LED A19 is totally dimmable, which is also important.

    LESLIE: Great.

    TOM: And that’s what stopped me from putting as many energy-efficient bulbs in my house, because I have so many dimmable fixtures. I needed to make sure that they could dim.

    LESLIE: Yeah, me too.

    TOM: And that makes it very ideal for ceiling fixtures and pendant lights and things like that. It’s got a very rugged design. There’s no filament that’s very fragile or glass that could easily break.

    And – and this is important – it’s the very first Energy Star-certified light bulb. So, you can visit The Home Depot today, check that out. It’s the Philips A19. I think this product is going to do very, very well and I’m definitely going to pick up some, I think, this weekend for my kitchen. That’s the next room we’re going to convert over.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good for you, Tom.

    TOM: Because we’ve got all these high hats in there that are on dimmers.

    LESLIE: And you know what? The LED – the high-hat bulb, the par can?

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    LESLIE: The LED par can is gorgeous.

    TOM: They’re really good, really cool-looking. Look great on the cabinets.

    LESLIE: Good. Alright. Good luck with that.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright . Now we’ve got Britain (sp) from California on the line who’s got a question about a deck. How can we help you today?

    BRITAIN (sp): Yes, my husband and I bought a house about two years ago and it’s a beautiful deck. However, it looks like it hasn’t been painted in probably 10 to 15 years. It’s white. The paint has been severely weathered and chipped and then on top of that, it’s very intricate. It’s not just a typical, plain wood; it’s ingrained and everything. And my husband and I are trying to figure out how to go about to strip the paint without harming the wood and – so that we can repaint it nice, clean white.

    TOM: Well, first of all, you don’t have to strip it off 100 percent; you just have to get off all the loose stuff. And then after you get the loose stuff off, you can prime it. And the priming is going to take that old paint and really seal it in well and give you a fresh, new surface to put the top coat of paint on.

    And if you do those – that sort of two-step process – with stripping it down and getting rid of all of the loose stuff, then priming and painting, I think you’ll have a deck that can last many, many additional years.

    BRITAIN (sp): Thanks. My follow-up question would be: what’s the best way to go about stripping? It’s a two-tiered deck. I mean it has a lot to just have – be doing it hand – with my hand. Is there another way that I could do it without having to ask a professional?

    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. If you head over to any home center and go into the painting aisle, they’re going to have a professional stripping product, which comes in a can. And you roll it on with a roller and you usually let it sit for whatever time the specified directions tell you on the can itself.

    And then you would go at it with a pressure washer and that’ll take off all of the paint. Or sometimes you have to scrape it off but there’s a lot of different approaches, depending on the type of chemical stripper that you get. And that’s really what you’re going to need; you just want to make sure that you protect any of your plantings around it, because some of it could be caustic to the natural items around it. So you want to make sure that you just do a good job of applying, following the directions and it’ll come right off.

    You may need to do it more than once but it’ll come off.

    BRITAIN (sp): Oh, my gosh. That’s so helpful. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Well, a quick update to a dated kitchen, you know what that is? New countertops. We’re going to give you tips to help you measure and install them yourself, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your question to our Community section, just like Sandra did, who says, “I recently replaced the countertops in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the new backsplash is shorter in length than the old backsplash. Now there’s about a 2-inch gap on the end of the counter. What can I do to cover up the hole?”

    LESLIE: A KitchenAid mixer.

    TOM: I find it really odd that the countertop is OK but the backsplash is not?

    LESLIE: Backsplash is off.

    TOM: Yeah. Large appliance.

    You know, whenever you have a mistake like this in construction, you want to come up with a solution that is so creative that it always looks like it was supposed to be there. So, for example, what if you were to tile the wall above the backsplash? I’m assuming it’s a small backsplash, right? A short one? So what if you were to tile up and around it and fill in those gaps and then center the short piece in between the two walls? Look like it was always supposed to be there and you can get away with it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. No, I think that’s a really good idea. The only issue is if that piece is already affixed to the backsplash but that really makes sense. You want to sort of even it out so that you’re not drawing attention to just one side. And again, in all doubt, a KitchenAid mixer does a great job of hiding a corner.

    Alright. This post is from Elio (sp) who writes: “I have a wooden walkway in front of my Jersey Shore summer home. Because of the flooding, which is common in the area, it keeps coming up and apart. I’ve tried securing it using wooden sticks and rebar. Any other suggestions for securing it?”

    TOM: Well, I’ve seen these homes and whenever you make these wooden walkways, you essentially have to make them in sort of – they’re sort of like movable pallets. And you really have to build them very, very structurally soundly. You have to use long screws to secure them to a solid underside. If you do that, they will ride up and down with the soil.

    But if you just try to throw some 2x4s down the flat and then bank some slats on top of it, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to make them in a modular way, Elio (sp), so that they essentially – they can be picked up in the off-season and then put back down in the summer.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Elio (sp), I hope that Snooki and the rest of the cast of the Jersey Shore don’t end up knocking on your door.

    TOM: Well, every year, over 500 fires are caused by gas grills. And no, we’re not talking about the kind of fires we use to cook the steaks; we’re talking about the unplanned fires. Leslie has got some tips to help keep you safe, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Grilling, while it’s a lot of fun, it can actually be kind of dangerous if you don’t do it correctly and you don’t take some proper steps. So, what you can do to make sure that you stay safe is make sure that you keep your propane gas container upright. You never want to store the spare gas container under or near your grill or indoors.

    And when you run to the gas station for a refill, don’t keep that full container inside your hot car, because the heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which might then open that relief valve and then allow all of that gas to escape.

    Also, you want to keep in mind not to use the grill in your garage, in a breezeway, a carport, your porch or under a surface that can catch fire. And if your propane tank is more than 20 years old, it’s time to replace it.

    Today’s tanks include an overfill protection valve, which is going to prevent excessive pressure from building. And the tanks also come with a built-in check valve to absolutely make sure that there are no leaks on that tank. So it makes a lot of sense. When you go to get it refilled, just swap it out. Most of them do the swap-out program anyway, so participate in that.

    And remember, have a great time, don’t overcook your steaks, don’t turn them until they’re just asking for it. And if you’ve got to pry it off of the top of the grill, it’s not ready to flip yet. Enjoy it and have a great meal.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, hey, if you’ve ever felt that first burst of water from a garden hose that was stretched across your lawn on a sunny day, you know exactly how solar hot-water heating works.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to have tips on how you can use that energy to deliver a virtually never-ending supply of hot water for your home. And no, it doesn’t involve you stretching out a garden hose all across the roof. We have a much more sophisticated way to get the job done. We’ll tell you about that 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 2011 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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