How to Water Your Lawn Efficiently, Keep Kids Safe from Summer Drowning, Create a DIY Paved Walkway and more
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: Here to help you with your summertime home improvement projects. So, for whatever you’re working on, let us help you pick up the slack. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Look around your house. Think about all those areas that you want to improve. Think about that ever-present to-do list. Maybe it’s a honey-do list that somebody made for you. That’s OK. Give us a call; we will help you take that first step at 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, we’re going to have tips on how you can keep kids safe from the number-one summer danger, which is drowning. Safety needs to be top of mind as young kids spend lots of time in and around backyard pools. And it really depends on the layers of protection that you set up. We’re going to cover those, step by step, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you love a lush lawn but think watering is a waste of time and money, we’ve got tips to help you water efficiently, for a lush lawn and a green wallet.
TOM: Plus, are you thinking about an outdoor project this summer? Adding a paved walk can be quick and easy with a new product called WalkMaker that just hit the market. We’ll have details on that.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a signed copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random, so give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Robert in North Carolina is on the line and is dealing with a dryer that – guess what? – just is not drying. That’s the worst. Tell us what’s going on.
ROBERT: Well, I’ve got a dryer; it’s about five or six years old. And here, lately, for about the past six or eight months, it’s taken sometimes three cycles to dry a medium-to-large size load of clothes.
TOM: Oh, that makes no sense.
ROBERT: Yeah. And the heating element was replaced maybe a year-and-a-half, two years ago. We just don’t know what’s going on with it.
TOM: Do you get good airflow when the dryer runs, where it’s pushing warm air out the exhaust duct?
ROBERT: Yeah. I went up to the roof one time when it was running and it was coming out of there fairly decent and the air was warm.
TOM: You just may have uncovered one problem. When you take a dryer vent and you push it up against gravity – and so it’s driving all the way up to the roof from, I presume, the second floor – a dryer is not really designed to do that. And I know that a lot of times, folks install them that way but trying to force that hot air to go up all of that distance to the roof can sometimes be problematic.
Look, if your dryer’s not heating properly, there’s only a few things that could be causing that. One is the heating element. So, let’s presume that this is working correctly, although it certainly seems – sounds like it’s not. There could be multiple heating elements and one could be burned out. This is a reason you feel some warm air.
The next thing is the ductwork and you want to make sure that that’s clean. Not only the external ductwork but even internally. Sometimes, if you get something stuck in the internal ductwork in the dryer, that can block some of the airflow itself.
TOM: And the other thing that can happen is sometimes it can overheat and then cycle. So, if it’s overheating, what’ll happen is it’ll get really hot and then it’ll overheat and the heating element will go off. And then it’ll cool down and then it’ll come on again, it’ll get really hot and it’ll go off. And that kind of cycling of a thermostat can be a problem, as well.
I mean at this point, it sounds to me like you’ve done almost everything that you can do on your own. You might want to either replace it or get it serviced.
How old is the dryer?
ROBERT: Probably no more than six years.
TOM: Yeah, well, you know, six to eight years is not a terribly short period of time for a dryer. So, you might want to think about replacing it or getting a pro to fix it. Because I think it’s probably one of those three things that’s causing the issue.
ROBERT: Yeah. And another thing, it’s got about between 20, 25 feet of – it has the corrugated duct. And we were thinking about changing that to the smooth, stovepipe kind of duct. Would that help, also?
TOM: Where is this 20, 25 feet? You mean from the discharge port all the way up to the attic where it discharges?
TOM: That’s a long way and certainly a solid metal duct is going to be better. Can you go up into the attic and then go sort of across the attic floor and down towards the soffit and install a vent right there?
ROBERT: It’s possible. It’s just a single-story house, so I’m sure I could do that. But the laundry room is in the middle of the house.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, even if you had that venting perfectly, three – running this thing for three loads to dry one load of clothes sounds like it’s something else and not necessarily totally venting.
ROBERT: OK. Yeah, we were thinking about – just don’t think it’s worth it to call somebody out there to fix it. We’ve got – we found a fairly decent dryer. We know somebody that runs a childcare center and uses the one we’re thinking about getting. And they run it five, six times a day and they’ve had theirs for three years.
TOM: I think that makes sense. Unfortunately, these products today are almost disposable because the cost of repair is so high. I will give you one other suggestion. There’s a website called RepairClinic.com that’s pretty good at helping you identify problems with appliances and then selling you the parts you need to fix it.
So, you may want to take a look at that. They have a little tool there where you can put in your model number and it’ll walk you through the scenarios. And who knows? It might be a common problem with that particular model.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.
And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that. But I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?
TOM: How long have you been in this house?
DREAMA: Thirteen years.
LESLIE: And this is new.
DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.
TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low-cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.
The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.
TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.
The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.
TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” – and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.
Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.
I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year, because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.
DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.
TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.
So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?
DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Dreama. 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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever you are working on, we’re here to lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Do you know the number-one summer danger for young kids? It’s drowning. Setting up layers of protection can help keep them safe. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to get a graffiti-strewn copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
LESLIE: That’s right. It’s full of great ideas. It’s got tips and advice for every nook and cranny of your money pit.
Pick up the phone and give us a call, so we can help you get your house in tip-top shape, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Daniel in Washington is in love with his older home’s windows but needs some help working on them. What can we do for you?
DANIEL: I want to know how I can remove them without destroying them or having to cut off the weights and letting them fall in the wall, as I was told that’s what I have to do.
TOM: Well, why do you want to preserve the weights, Dan?
DANIEL: Well, I just – my biggest fear is they’re upstairs windows and I don’t want them to cause any damage when I cut them loose. And I just want to pull them out intact, I guess, for seeing what exactly they are. They’re being used for weights.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t have to worry too much about that. How old is your house, Dan?
DANIEL: It was built in 1900.
TOM: OK. So, the weights themselves are these sort of round, tubular pieces of solid cast metal. And I wouldn’t worry about letting them drop. They’re only going to drop to sort of the bottom of the wall cavity. They’re not really going to do any damage. They’ll drop down a couple of feet and stop. But what you do is cut those cords or disconnect the chains, let the weights drop, pull out the pulleys, take out the upper and the lower sash and then you insert the replacement window into the rest of the wood, sort of old window frame that’s left.
That’s the smart move because it’s very easy to do. You don’t have to tear up any siding or anything like that. You basically just take apart the operable sashes and slip the new replacement windows inside, which you can do because all replacement windows are basically built to fit. That’s the way the technology is designed to work. If you put in an order for replacement windows, they put all the numbers into a computer and it spits out the window at the other end of the assembly line. And you just slip them in and you’re done. It’s a very easy installation.
You need to be really careful in the measuring, though. And I would have the company that you’re buying the windows from do the measuring to make sure you get it right. But not to worry about the weights. Not a big deal.
DANIEL: And it’s funny you mention that. He actually did come out and look at them and he told me that he wouldn’t be able to give me the measurements to get the windows myself. Because when he – they order them, the guys that install them have to do any work that’s needed to make them fit properly. Because he just takes a rough measurement.
TOM: So was he just giving you an estimate? Was he there to measure for an estimate?
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean that makes sense. Plus, I’ve got to tell you, every company does it a little bit different. So if you buy it from Manufacturer A, they may measure one way and Manufacturer B might measure it slightly differently. So whoever you buy these from, they have to do the exact measurements. He may have just been measuring so he knows how to price the order. But it may have to be measured again before you actually do the order.
LESLIE: Plus, they’re – the numbers are really guarded. He might be thinking that if he gives you the exact measurements, you’re going to turn around and go to another company or order them yourself and try to do it yourself.
TOM: Which you really couldn’t do because what if he has the numbers wrong? You’ll end up paying for windows that don’t fit.
DANIEL: So if we already did – I measured the frame on the windows, not the window itself. And we did just put the order in. So I could be in trouble here.
TOM: Are you going to put them in yourself?
DANIEL: Yeah. Because it’s – half the cost of the windows was the labor to put them in.
TOM: Well, how did you know how to measure them? Did you get advice from who you bought the windows from?
DANIEL: Yeah. He told me to measure the frame – not the window, not the part of the window that moves – but he said the frame itself.
DANIEL: And he said that’s the number that they would use if they sent somebody out.
DANIEL: And then he offered, because it was free, and when – to send somebody out. And when the guy showed up, he did the kind of – “Whoa, hold on. I just kind of give them rough numbers and they do what they need to do to make them fit from there.”
TOM: What I would do, if I were normally ordering windows, is I would get the advice on how exactly they need to be ordered. I would make – take the measurements and order them to fit. If that’s what you did and you followed their instructions, you should be OK. The thing is, if you’ve got it wrong, you’re going to get a window that doesn’t fit and you’re going to have a problem. But as long as you followed their instructions, then you should be OK.
DANIEL: Alright. It just kind of made me worry when the guy that showed up here gave me a different story than the guy down at the store.
TOM: Yep. Yeah, well, they’re all experts; they all have their way.
LESLIE: And clearly they’re not talking to each other.
DANIEL: Yeah. Like I said, that was the part that scared me and why I wanted to get some advice on this.
TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that helps you out, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that drowning is the number-one cause of death for young children? It is and summertime means lots of time spent in and around swimming pools, which can be dangerous if you don’t have properly designed pool fencing.
TOM: Yep, that’s right. Pool fences need to be at least 4 feet high and designed to be non-climbable. That means that with chain-link fencing, for example, the mesh opening should be an inch-and-a-quarter or less: too small for a toddler to get a toe-hold on.
And with iron fences, the spacing between those vertical bars has to be no more than 4 inches. And the horizontal supports have to be mounted facing the pool and spaced greater than 45 inches apart so they can’t get on top of that fence and climb over it.
LESLIE: That’s true. Now, the weakest link in all pool fencing has got to be the gate. Gates have to be self-closing and self-latching so that they slam shut if they’re inadvertently left open. And gate latches should be mounted at least 54 inches off the ground and have childproof release mechanisms.
TOM: And baby fencing is a secondary fence that is installed closer to the pool’s edge. It’s also an option for homes where fences might enclose the yard but not the pool. Baby fencing may keep young kids out of harm’s way but they’re not going to work for toddlers that climb. But it still does add yet another layer of protection for your pool-protection scheme.
Remember, fences, alarms, gates that close automatically, these are all important layers that will keep your kids safe. So, please, take an assessment of your house, if you’ve got a pool, and make sure that everything is in place to keep those kids safe.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gwen in Virginia on the line who needs some help protecting her kitchen wall. How can we help you?
GWEN: I actually saw this product at a show: an invention – female inventors’ show that was being aired – was being taped in Chicago. And this lady, she had a product that you take it and it just sort of sticks to the wall. She had it in different colors, that it would blend in with your kitchen wall or if you wanted to have a stainless-steel look – but it was just a piece of material that went behind the trash can, that when you hit – when you would step on the flip tops, it would hit up against that area and would not damage the wall.
And then when you decided that you want to either move your trash can to another area in the house or you were tired of that particular pattern, you could just peel it off. It didn’t mess up the paint but it protected the wall.
LESLIE: So it was like a sticker.
TOM: That’s interesting. I’ve got a couple of ideas for you on that.
First of all, you don’t need an invention; you could simply put a small piece of clear Plexiglas on the wall using double-sided tape. Or the second thing you could do, which is even easier, is you could add a bumper to the top of the garbage can so that when it comes up, it doesn’t scuff the wall. You could use a felt-tip bumper on it.
LESLIE: Or even if you go to childproofing – in the childproofing section of any baby store, you’ll find that rubber edging that you can put on coffee tables and things. And you could put a piece like that right on the edge of the garbage can.
GWEN: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Gwen, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, are you building a beautiful, new, paver-style patio or walkway in your home? Well, that project just got a lot easier. We’re going to share some tips on a new product that helps you achieve a professional job on a do-it-yourself budget, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, a beautiful, well-made walkway can enrich the natural landscape of a backyard and compliment the exterior look of your home. Now, you might be thinking this is a project best left to the pros but that can be expensive. Fortunately, there is an easy and affordable and customizable alternative to building a path or patio with pavers or stones. And here to tell us about that is Mike Major. He is with QUIKRETE.
Welcome to the program, Mike.
MIKE: Hey, it’s good to be with you guys. How are you today?
TOM: We’re well. Now, you guys have a product out: a new product called WalkMaker Forms. Walk us through it. I mean these sound pretty easy to use for even a very basic DIYer.
MIKE: It is extremely easy to use. The WalkMaker Form is – what it is, it’s a 2 foot by 2 foot plastic form that’s made out of recycled plastic. And you lay this on the surface of the dirt where you’re going and you just fill it with concrete. You smooth the surface of it and then you lift the form away. And what you leave is a patterned path.
We have four different patterns to this. One of them is a country stone, one of them is a basket-weave brick, one of them is a running-bond brick and one of them is a European block. And they’re beautiful patterns and they just are real simple to do.
TOM: Now, if you were going to place this right on the soil, aren’t you concerned about cracking? How do you recommend prepping that soil before you place the forms in place?
MIKE: Well, you can do several different things. And we’ve had people that’ll take this to all extremes. You can, you know, smooth the surface, put down a bed of sand if you would like. That way, it’ll make sure that these are floating. But because they are only 2 foot by 2 foot, they’re not going to be accustomed to doing the cracking that you’ve seen in some of the other concrete [long slab] (ph).
TOM: So they sort of ride up and down with the freeze/thaw cycle.
MIKE: It certainly will. And the great part about it is – like with our country stone, actually there are nine stones in the country-stone pattern. And they are actual – each individually stone. So, it will move up and down with the surface; you won’t have any problem with that.
Now, people ask, “Well, what do we do with the area that’s in between those stones?” And there are several different options. We’ve had some people that’ll sweep sand into those – basically, let’s call them “grout joints.” And you can sweep sand into them. You can sweep dirt into them.
We had a beautiful application done up in the mountains that – where they had taken dirt and swept into those. And then they took some moss from some rocks, mixed it with a medium. What they used was a yogurt. They mixed it into a blender with yogurt and poured it over those joints. And what happened was the moss grows and it grows to just the very, very minimal height.
TOM: The yogurt was the food in that instance.
MIKE: Exactly right. Yes, sir. Oh, it was a beautiful path.
And these things are very customizable. So you can do either a straight path; you can do a curved path; and you can do round, circular obstacles. Say you wanted to do something around a tree bed or something along those lines.
TOM: Now, which concrete product do you recommend that you mix with to create the WalkMaker? Do you use standard – a standard bag of concrete? Do you use crack-resistant concrete? And can you color that concrete? Can you add a dye to it to get some effect?
MIKE: Absolutely. You can color the product. And what we recommend is you use a crack-resistant concrete.
MIKE: And the reason that we do that is you’re going 2 inches thick, so you don’t have a tremendous amount of thickness there. So if you would run over it with, say, your lawn mower or something along those lines, you might have a tendency to chip off some corners or chip off some edges. Using the crack-resistant concrete, it’ll eliminate that and you won’t have that problem.
You can use our liquid colors. We have liquid cement colors that are available in five standard colors that are in all your home centers, all across the country. So you can make these to just whatever color and pattern – we’ve had people that’ll take our country stone and will press leaves into it to make little patterns on the surface.
I even had a family that used it as a human growth chart. This is great; you’ll love this. They took the country stone – and they had three kids. And they had the kids put their handprints in the stone. And every year, they came back and popped up those three stones and they would put down a fresh one. And they would let the kids put their hands in it. And you could see their kids’ growth from infancy all the way up.
TOM: The product is called WalkMaker Forms. It is a product of the QUIKRETE Company. Great, innovative way for you to create a beautiful stone or a brick-looking path using QUIKRETE’s Crack-Resistant Concrete product.
Mike Major from QUIKRETE, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you’d like more information, you can go to the QUIKRETE website at QUIKRETE.com. That’s spelled Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
MIKE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Well, if you think that watering the lawn is a waste of money and resources, think again. We’ve got some tips for lawn watering that will help you save both.
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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a super-useful and very entertaining book, I might add. It is My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
In it, you’re going to find lots of great advice, tips and information, just like we give you here on the radio show every week.
TOM: It’s like having Leslie and I at your fingertips for every do-it-yourself adventure. We will sign that book, send it off to you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine in Arizona who needs some help with a paneling decorating project. Welcome, Lorraine.
LORRAINE: We have an older home that has two walls that have paneling on. And I was told that if we took the paneling off, it would probably damage the drywall. So I was considering maybe trying to put something over top of the paneling to give it a different look and wanted some suggestions.
LESLIE: Well, it depends. It depends on how it’s attached to whatever is behind it. There may not be any drywall behind it; it might just be the paneling attached directly to the studs, in which case you would have to put drywall up. It could be that the paneling was glued to the drywall. Then you would never get it off without completely destroying the drywall. Or it could be that it was just nailed on. You’re not really going to know until you sort of peer at a corner or an area where you can take off a little bit of trim work and see what exactly is going on before you make a decision. So that’s probably best-step number one.
Now, if you find out that there’s really no removing it and your choices are to deal with the paneling and make it look better or cover over it with ¼-inch drywall, you can do that. It depends on how much work you want to do.
Painting paneling certainly is an excellent option. It creates a totally different look when you paint paneling a crisp, glossy white or an off-white or something that really just poses a good, neutral backdrop and just sort of go with it.
LORRAINE: OK. This is very light paneling anyway.
LESLIE: And are you at a point where you just want to see it be darker, different or gone?
LESLIE: Painting it really does look nice. It doesn’t have to be something that, in the end, you’re going to think, “Ooh, that doesn’t look good.” You just have to make sure that you clean it, you prime it well and then you give it a good top coat.
Now, I would really start by just taking off a piece of trimming and door frame and seeing how it’s attached. And if you want to truly start with just a fresh look, you can absolutely cover over the entire space with ¼-inch drywall without losing too much space. You’re just going to have to sort of bump out your electrical boxes, your switches, your trim work, et cetera which, for a handy person, isn’t that big of a deal. So it could be a project you could do on your own. Or to hire somebody wouldn’t be that expensive.
LORRAINE: OK. Sounds good.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.
TOM: Well, if you think watering your lawn is wasteful, it doesn’t have to be. When, where and how much water you use on your lawn can really mean the difference between a lush lawn or an empty wallet.
LESLIE: So, here’s what you need to remember. You have to water your lawn early in the day and that’s going to prevent the water from evaporating. If you water at night and leave the lawn wet, your grass could develop a fungus disease.
Also, you’ve got to make sure that you adjust the sprinklers to avoid wasting water. Make sure it actually points to the lawn and not your driveways and sidewalks.
TOM: And use timers on your sprinklers to limit water usage to only what’s needed. You don’t need to water every day; two or three times a week is better. And a good rule of thumb is just to make sure your lawn receives 1 inch of water a week, depending on where you live and what type of grass you have.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project.
LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you?
ELAINE: I’m mainly concerned about the fact that I have some rescue animals and some kids. And every time I try to think of what I can do – when I lift up this rug and put a surface down, I need something durable. And I thought of wood and then I thought of Pergo and everybody says, “No, the dog will scratch it or the kids will scratch it.” And then I saw something at a hospital the other day – actually, you know, like an x-ray area, where it takes a lot of traffic?
ELAINE: And it looked like a heavy-duty plastic, plasticized type of imitation wood. And I tried to find out where they got it from but it’s nothing I can find in going to the local shops, like Lowe’s and Home Depot.
TOM: Right. It might have been luxury vinyl, although I doubt that in a hospital. What I think you might want to consider is laminate. Pergo is just one brand of laminate. But remember that there are different finishes on these floors and you want to find one that has a commercial finish.
LESLIE: That will make it the most durable.
TOM: Yeah, really super-durable.
I think the best option here and the one that’s most accessible is to think about using laminate flooring. Laminate flooring can look like wood, it can look like tile, it can look like vinyl. And if you get one that has a commercial-grade finish on it, it can clearly stand up to the kids and the dogs.
ELAINE: I appreciate that very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Elaine. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Roland in North Carolina on the line who needs some help removing some rust. What can we do for you today?
ROLAND: I have some exposed I-beams in my basement that support a poured-floor garage above. And during construction, obviously they experienced some rust. And they’re 20 feet long, 12 inches high, so I’ve got about 400 square feet, if you will, of rusted steel. And I’m looking to paint them or finish them off a little bit.
And I was looking at the Rust-Oleum products and figuring I would go through 15 or 20 cans just to cover that amount of space. So I was wondering if you guys had a better idea and how much prep I should do. Should I just – they haven’t rusted since the house has been finished but it does have a coating of rust on there. Is there a better way? And how should I be concerned about prepping them before painting?
TOM: Well, a light sanding would be important to remove any of that loose rust – that loose surface rust. And it’s not deep; it’s just on the surface.
ROLAND: That’s right.
TOM: And then using a Rust-Oleum primer would be the next step. Not the surface paint but the primer. Now, instead of using individual spray cans, why don’t you buy the gallons of Rust-Oleum and rent a sprayer if you have to: a paint sprayer from a rental yard? It would make it super-easy.
ROLAND: Right. That’s the best way to go?
LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, you’re inside and using a can of spray paint is not going to make you feel very well and it’s certainly going to make the house stink up a storm. While certainly easy for application, it’s not really the best approach for an interior project. If you’re using regular paint through a sprayer – as long as you protect everything and cover up your ceiling from overspray and the floor, et cetera – you’re going to be in great shape.
TOM: What I like to do is to try to depressurize a room when I’m spraying in it. So how would you do that? Very simply. You’d open up a window, stick a window fan in it, make sure it points out and then open up another window or door on the other side of the room and get some cross-ventilation. This way, you’re always moving the air outside the house, replacing it with fresh air.
ROLAND: Sounds good. Is there any concern with the rust coming back through?
TOM: Not if you prime it. If you don’t prime it, it can definitely come right through. But if you prime it, especially with a rust-inhibiting primer like Rust-Oleum, it’s going to kind of lock that in place. And as long as you don’t have any kind of serious leakage or something like that, I don’t expect it to come back through.
ROLAND: Super. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, building a backyard play set or a deck? Well, the type of wood that you use can make sure your surfaces are safe for kids and can stand up to the test of time. We’re going to give you the best options, next.
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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.
OK, so what’s the most annoying thing about mowing your lawn? Well, it turns out that most homeowners say it’s the sound. So to help with that, Craftsman has come up with a quiet, front-wheel-drive lawn mower. You can actually hear your kids playing or even carry on a conversation while it’s running. Imagine that.
TOM: And here’s the really great news: you could win the Craftsman Quiet-Drive Lawn Mower if you enter our Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes. It’s a prize worth $420. Just visit our Facebook page, click the “Like” button and fill in the information form. You can share the sweeps to earn bonus entries, as well. Just go to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. It’s just one of three great prizes we’re giving away in our Dog Days of Summer Sweeps. Check it out.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s jump into our community e-mails now. We’ve got one from Marty in Minnesota who writes: “How do you add insulation to a home built in 1907 with slate siding? You can’t drill holes and blow it in and I don’t know if it could be removed without breaking it. Sounds expensive to me either way.”
TOM: Well, I think it is expensive. But here’s what I would do, Marty. I would prioritize the areas of my home that I’m insulating.
So, I would start by making sure I have enough insulation in the attic. Of course, in Minnesota, you can never have too much insulation in your attic. But really, you need 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass. Better yet, consider spray-foam insulation as a way to both insulate and seal that attic space at the same time.
Second to that, I would take a look at the box beam at the foundation perimeter. This is right at the edge of the floor. That area is often under-insulated or not even insulated at all. And if you seal that and insulate that, you will find a dramatic difference in the amount of air that leaks into your house.
And thirdly, if you do want to tackle those walls, you can blow insulation into them. You will have to do it from the inside, where a plaster or drywall wall is a lot easier to patch than slate siding.
So, in that case, you would work with a company that would do a survey of those walls using an infrared camera. They would identify where the bays are: the areas of the wall that are hollow and uninsulated. They would drill holes. It’s only about a 1-inch hole or so that gets drilled in a couple of places in each section of the wall. They would fill that bay with probably cellulose insulation, which blows well into those sections and compacts nicely. And then you can spackle that spot and paint and be done. Yes, you are going to have to repaint your walls but that’s the best way to get them insulated.
But again, I would make sure I prioritize this by doing the attic first, the box beam in the floor second and the walls third.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it really – you know, you’ll end up with a fresh coat of paint and a much warmer winter.
TOM: Well, if you have room for it, a play set or a deck is a great addition to your backyard. But if you’re going to build one yourself, you want to make sure you use the right type of wood. Leslie tells us why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you’re thinking about building a deck or a backyard play set this summer season, you want to make sure that you use a sturdy wood that’s resistant to decay and to pests. Because both of those can actually wreak a lot of havoc on anything that you’re building out of that lumber.
But you want to be cautious in the lumber that you choose, because chemicals in treated wood can actually leach out and then pollute the surrounding ground and possibly could endanger your family’s health.
So, for decks and playground equipment, you want to consider reclaimed cedar or redwood. And both of those are naturally resistant to fungus and insects. You can even opt for recycled plastic lumber, which is great for the environment because you’re not cutting down any new trees but you’ll still get a sturdy, durable product.
So get out there, build some projects and enjoy your yard this season.
TOM: Good advice.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Happy to take your questions, 24-7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about kitchen islands. They don’t have to be costly, they don’t have to be complicated. With just a little creativity, you could actually build your own kitchen island using repurposed furniture. We’ll have the step-by-step, 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.