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    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 with your home improvement projects, so pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. It is the fall fix-up season, so we know you’ve got a fix-up project on your to-do list. Let’s put it on the done list. Call us and we’ll help take that first step. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, October is here and it’s National Fire Prevention Month and a good time to think about things like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and the fire-resistance of the building materials in your home. One type of insulation, for example, could play a key role in stopping the spread of fire and we’ll tell you about that, coming up.

    LESLIE: And even seasoned do-it-yourselfers shy away from replacing doors. It’s sometimes hard to retrofit a new door into an old opening but there are a few tricks of the trade that can help. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is stopping by and he’s going to walk you through it.

    TOM: Also ahead this hour, one relatively easy way to dramatically change the look of your kitchen is to simply replace the countertop. But there are dozens of materials to choose from these days, so we’re going to sort out the strengths and weaknesses of each to help you make the right decision.

    LESLIE: And no homeowner is a stranger to a clogged drain; we all get them. One caller this hour is going to be prepared for the next one. We’re giving away Liquid-Plumr Double Impact Snake + Gel System. The winner is also going to get a $50 gift card to The Home Depot.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Betsy in Georgia needs some help tackling a ceiling project. What’s going on?

    BETSY: My question is how to remove popcorn ceiling. We have a bonus room above our garage that the popcorn ceiling was falling down in spots.

    TOM: OK.

    BETSY: And we scraped and scraped and we weren’t getting very far with it and we damaged the drywall with gouges from being scraped. So my husband put stippling on the ceiling to cover up the gouges and I don’t think it looks good at all.

    TOM: OK.

    BETSY: It looks dumb.

    TOM: So he kind of put more texture back on where he had the old texture?

    BETSY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. So now do you have to remove the stippling, which was probably done with the spackle, correct?

    BETSY: Yes.

    TOM: Ugh. Boy, I tell you what, you made it – it went from bad to worse. You know what I would do if I wanted a really clean ceiling and that was the situation? I would knock down as much of that as was physically possible, so it’s nice and flat, make sure as much of the popcorn is gone as possible and then I would put a second layer of drywall over the whole thing. Tape it, prime it, paint it and be done with it. You’ll have a brand-new ceiling.

    LESLIE: Bury it. Hide it.

    TOM: I’m like, “Bury it.” Because that drywall is probably so damaged now from the scraping off of the old popcorn to the adding of the stipple. And then you’re going to have to sand and get rid of that. I just don’t think that – all the work that’s going to be worth you putting into that is just not worth it. You’re just not going to get a really clean look. So why don’t you just put a second layer of drywall over it? It’s really clean, easy to do and it will look much, much better in the long run.

    BETSY: Right. And then we – our other ceilings have popcorn but we haven’t tackled that. So is there an easier way to get it off?

    TOM: Well, here’s the right way to do it – is that you would dampen it and then you would scrape it.

    LESLIE: So you use a paint sprayer or a garden pump sprayer and then you just lightly spray that on the ceiling. You know, get it wet. You’re going to have to cover everything; it is a messy job. And then you just scrape it away with a spackle knife.

    TOM: And by the way, though, if you want to buy yourself some time and maybe – what happens with the popcorn, it gets dirty and grungy-looking. You can actually paint that. There’s a special type of roller that’s a very thick roller that’s got sort of slits in it and presses the paint up inside the sort of the pieces of popcorn. And you can get a nice bright, clean look to it. So, it is possible to paint that and have it look a lot nicer and a lot cleaner.

    BETSY: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rick in Pennsylvania who needs some help getting candle wax out of a wood deck. So was it an awesome party?

    RICK: No, it was just a silly mistake. I was actually carrying a citronella candle and I dropped it and it splashed back on myself and the deck.

    LESLIE: Well, are you OK?

    RICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, this was a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t. Wax all over me, in my eyes and it was not pleasant.

    LESLIE: Oh, what a mess.

    TOM: Oh, man. That was a mess.

    RICK: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So, it splashed all over the wood deck. It’s soaking into the wood, I presume?

    RICK: Yeah, I scraped off what I could but a lot of it did go into the deck. It’s a brand-new deck and I did not seal it or stain it or anything. I was letting the wood dry.

    TOM: Well, there is a trick of the trade for pulling wax out of wood that you could give a shot to.

    LESLIE: Pulling wax out of anything.

    TOM: Really anything, yeah.

    LESLIE: If you get wax on fabric, a tablecloth, on your clothing, this is the way to get rid of it.

    RICK: OK.

    TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is get a clothes iron and a paper bag. And you put the paper bag over the deck and then you put the hot iron on top of the paper bag.

    LESLIE: No steam. Just a hot iron.

    TOM: Just a hot iron. And what it does is it melts the wax and it soaks up into the paper bag.

    LESLIE: Yeah, somehow it magically sticks to the paper bag but not to anything else.

    TOM: It sort of blots up, yeah. But just make sure it’s a paper bag and not a plastic bag or you’ll get the opposite result.

    RICK: Right, right.

    TOM: You’ll be calling for a bigger problem.

    RICK: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it can be a grocery-store bag or a lunch sack or a shopping bag. Like any kind of brown bag.

    RICK: OK. And just melt it? I mean it’ll suck right up into the bag. Alright.

    TOM: Now, I suspect that once you do that and you wait another season or so before you’re ready to stain or treat the deck, I would just wire-brush that area right over the – where the wax soaked in, before you stain. And I think it’ll just go right in there; I don’t think it’s going to block the stain. Those two tricks will help. OK?

    RICK: I was kind of worried about that but yeah, well, great. I appreciate you guys helping me out.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rick. 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, we are two weeks from the most awesomest holiday: Halloween. So if you haven’t already spookified your house, we are here to give you a hand with that. Or maybe you’ve got Thanksgiving on the brain; I always do. And this year, I am not hosting. Have to have a baby to not host but apparently, it’s worth it. I’m psyched to go to my sister’s.

    But we’re here to give you guys a hand, get your home ready for the busy holiday season ahead of us. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Besides going into the busy holiday season, it is also the season for fire. That’s why October is National Fire Prevention Month and a good time to ask yourself the question: “Am I doing everything I can to protect my family from a house fire?” Well, there is a building material that can add to your safety. It’s a type of insulation and we’ll share that tip, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellant and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations, www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.

    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: Give us a call right now, 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a way to keep your cool the next time you get a clogged drain, because we’re giving away Liquid-Plumr’s Double Impact Snake + Gel System, along with a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. The snake dislodges the gunk that causes blockage and the gel flushes away the rest of it. Call us right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    EVELYN: Yes, ma’am. I have wanted to redo my – you know, they call it a living room now but it’s mostly your front room? And I wanted to know if I wanted to have it made over – the whole room – do you have any suggestions about how I could go about getting that done? The exception is I have this really big, huge desk that I have to keep in the room.

    TOM: So you’re looking for a decorator to help you sort of redo the room. Is that correct?

    EVELYN: Yes.

    LESLIE: Well, there is an association of interior decorators; it’s ASID. And these are folks that are registered with the Interior Decorating Society. And they’re listed by zip code. You can go to the website, ASID – I don’t know if it’s .org, .com. And that way, you can find a decorator in your area.

    I will let you know that pricing ranges from decorator to decorator. Some will do an hourly consulting fee, some will do a flat fee, some will do a percentage of the items ordered. It really depends on the project. I think if you start at that website and start looking for people in your area, visit their websites, take a look at the style of work that they do, this way you can find somebody that matches your décor. And then that’s a good way to find somebody that’ll fit well.

    EVELYN: OK. Well, listen, that was what I wanted to know. You think that would be worth the while?

    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. I think it makes sense to start that way.

    EVELYN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Matt in Wisconsin who’s dealing with a splashy toilet. That is the worst: constantly cleaning a toilet seat. Tell us what’s going on.

    MATT: Well, when we flush the toilet, a good portion of air comes up through the trap, forcefully enough to cause the water to splash up onto the seat or the inside of the lid if it’s closed.

    TOM: Well, what really causes that, Matt, is a venting problem. Is this a new problem or has it always been this way?

    MATT: No, it’s just within the last couple of months.

    TOM: OK. So then what I suspect is that you’ve got a blockage somewhere. If your vent for that toilet is partially blocked, then the drain line is being starved with air. And if it’s starved with air, it’s going to try to gulp that air from somewhere else and that’s what’s causing the bubbles.

    MATT: OK.

    TOM: So, what you need to do is try to figure out where that obstruction is. And it’s going to be somewhere in the vent that is connected to the waste line under the toilet, if that helps you narrow it down a bit.

    MATT: Yes, it does. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s the time of year that we urge our listeners to check out their attic insulation and make sure that there’s enough up there. The right amount of insulation is really key to keeping your house warm. But did you know that it can also be key to keeping your family safe?

    TOM: Stone-wool insulation is a product that is made by one of the newest sponsors here at The Money Pit: a company called Roxul. And it’s interesting because it combines natural rock and recycled slag: two materials that can greatly slow the spread of flames.

    LESLIE: And slag is metal, right?

    TOM: Slag is actually what’s left over when you make steel. So from steel plants, the sort of one of the byproducts is slag. So it’s a product that’s actually already been heated to thousands of degrees of temperature and that’s one of the reasons that it won’t burn inside your house. In fact, this Roxul product can stand up to temperatures of over 2000 degrees and that’s how it will actually slowly stop the spread or at least reduce the spread of flames in your house.

    So, this is a good type of insulation to think about for a lot of reasons. First of all, it will slow the spread of flames, especially if you put it inside your interior walls, as well as your attic. But it also has some other types of benefits, too. In fact, they make two types: one’s called ComfortBatt, which is for outside walls and that is designed specifically to stop the cold air from coming in; and then the version for inside walls is called Safe’n’Sound for inside walls and what that does is slows the spread of flame. And it’s also a sound-resistant product, as well, so it’ll keep those rooms quiet.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And another advantage of stone wool is that it repels water. That means if you have any leaks, it won’t affect the R-value, because Roxul insulation does not absorb the water. It’s not going to sag or lose its shape. It’s going to also keep its R-value indefinitely and that’s a big money-saver, because you won’t ever have to reinstall it. Plus, it’s also completely resistant to rot, mildew, mold and bacteria growth.

    TOM: And finally, stone wool is an excellent thermal insulator, so that will help your home stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. You can get Roxul ComfortBatt and the Roxul Safe’n’Sound product at The Home Depot and Lowe’s and – as well as many lumber-yard locations around the country.

    It is a product you can install yourself. If you’d like more information, you can check out their website. It’s DIYWithRoxul.com and Roxul is spelled R-o-x-u-l. So that’s DIYWithRoxul.com.

    LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line and dealing with a basement crack in the wall. Tell us what’s going on. Is it in cinder block? Is it in your foundation wall? Where do you see this?

    SHERRY: It’s in the wall of the foundation. It’s poured cement. And just recently, I noticed that there is a – not a straight but kind of a curved crack. And it looks like maybe a little bit of dust or water has come through it.

    TOM: OK. Sherry, is it a vertical crack or is it a horizontal crack?

    SHERRY: Kind of vertical but it kind of curves.

    TOM: OK. And it’s a poured concrete foundation, so has the crack always been there or is it something that’s very recent?

    SHERRY: It’s not actually in the floor; it’s in the wall. It’s actually a basement wall and yes, it’s poured.

    TOM: Right. Has it always been there or is it something that just recently popped up?

    SHERRY: I think it’s pretty recent. I don’t remember seeing it before.

    TOM: Well, cracks in foundation walls are really pretty typical and that includes poured concrete walls – poured foundation walls. So what I would do is not panic. If it’s a minor crack like that, I would simply seal it with a masonry caulk or a silicone caulk. And all you’re doing is really keeping the water from the outside ground from kind of leaking back through the wall. But a minor crack like that is generally caused by a little bit of shift in the foundation, perhaps some settlement or some shrinkage in the wall itself.

    So are we talking about a hairline crack here, I presume?

    SHERRY: Yeah, it’s a very – yes, it’s very, very (inaudible at 0:14:38) but it looks like something has seeped through that I guess that’s what worried me the most.

    TOM: Right. It might be water. And what happens – if you get ground water that gets through and then it evaporates, it leaves its mineral salts behind and that might be the dust that you’re seeing. It’s sort of like a whitish/grayish dust and that’s the minerals in the water when it leaks through and then evaporates.

    SHERRY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: So just sweep that out before you put the caulk in and I think that’s all you need to do right now.

    SHERRY: Well, thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Pat in Pennsylvania is on the line with a leak in a garage roof. What can we do for you today?

    PAT: Well, I have an attached garage to my house and right down at the end where the – near the garage door is there – right where the soffit meets the shingles, I have a leak there. And I was just wondering how I could try to fix that, if I could just put some of that BLACK JACK in there and try to fix it or …

    TOM: How long do you want it fixed for? A week or like forever? Because if you just use the tar, it’s going to be a very short-term repair.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: Tell me where exactly the leak is evidencing itself.

    PAT: Well, it’s just a little bit of a water spot there right at the garage door and it seems like the shingles are lifted up a little bit. But my – we built our home only nine years ago, so I wasn’t sure if it was the shingles or …

    TOM: OK. So you’re not even sure if it’s the shingles themselves that are cracking. So if you built your home nine years ago, you’ve got a fiberglass-based asphalt shingle. And one of the ways that fiberglass-based asphalt shingles wear is they actually develop sort of fissures or cracks in them. So if you put a ladder against the front of the garage and you kind of go up and look down on the shingle itself and if you see cracks that go through them, that could be the source of the water.

    Now, if you’ve just got one or two shingles that are pushed up like that, usually that’s because a nail is actually backing up through the roof. And you can put a flat bar in there and kind of tap that nail down. And yeah, if you want to put a little bit of asphalt sealing under the tab just to kind of hold it in place, then that would be OK.

    But in terms of leak prevention, that type of sealant is not the way to fix the leak. If it turns out that the shingles are cracked, I don’t want you to tar them; I want you to take them off and replace them.

    PAT: OK. So that’s not a permanent fix then, I guess, is what you’re saying.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. It’s not going to be a permanent fix. If the shingles are cracked, then you should pull off the shingles that are damaged and replace them and you can do that with a flat bar. You can actually sort of extract – sort of surgically remove a shingle from the middle of a roof and put a new one back in its place.

    PAT: OK. You wouldn’t think after nine years, though, that the shingles would be cracked already, would you, or …?

    TOM: I have seen it happen quicker than that.

    PAT: Oh, really? OK.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s why – see, that’s kind of the way those shingles wear. It depends on a lot of factors. But I would take a very careful look at that and see if that’s what’s causing it.

    PAT: OK. Well, that sounds good. I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got René in North Carolina looking to talk about duct work. What can we do for you today?

    RENÉ: I have some older rental properties. And I noticed on one there was maybe seven duct lines – air-conditioning and heating duct lines – and about half of them were insulated. I wanted to know if I should insulate those that weren’t and what the impact is, maybe, on the bills for the tenant.

    TOM: I see you’re in North Carolina. Do any of these ducts run through a finished basement or crawlspace or any place where condensation on the ducts could be a problem for you?

    RENÉ: They’re in crawlspaces.

    TOM: OK. Well, insulating the duct does make it more efficient. And typically, today, when you install new ducts, you use an insulated flex duct, so the insulation is kind of already built in. When you have air-conditioning ducts that run through very damp spaces like crawlspaces, the other advantage of having insulation is that you don’t get the condensation, which can be quite dramatic. You can really build up quite a bit of water in a damp crawlspace by running a cold duct through it.

    So, if it’s already insulated, I don’t feel any need for you to take that off. Do you have to insulate any ducts that are not? I’d say at a case-by-case basis I would make that decision.

    RENÉ: OK. And what’s the impact of that? Would they – do they feel an effect of that with the bill – with the heating bill?

    TOM: I think there’ll be some effect. Whether it will be dramatic, I doubt but I think it will be somewhat effective.

    RENÉ: OK. So all in all, it’s a good thing?

    TOM: Yeah, all in all, it’s a good thing. If you’ve got the insulation, I would leave it. If you don’t have insulation, I wouldn’t necessarily add it. Does that make sense?

    RENÉ: OK. I gotcha.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, your house will never look great if you’ve got a shabby looking front door. Well, replacing it, even if it’s a different size, is not as hard as you might think. We’re going to tell you about it, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America. Now enjoy 10-percent off all special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot, including the Andersen 400 Series Double-Hung Replacement Window, making it easy to replace your old windows. Valid through October 17. See The Home Depot for details.

    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, if it’s been a while since you put down a new floor, let me tell you, things have definitely changed. There are a ton of options available today, there are a ton of price ranges and we can help you pick the one that’s right for you. If you simply go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “flooring guide,” we walk you through the pros and the cons of the nine most popular options. That’s online at MoneyPit.com. Just search “flooring guide.”

    LESLIE: Mike in Florida is on the line and needs help with a stucco project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    MIKE: I recently bought a house. Well, I bought it, actually, about a year ago. I moved here from Virginia and I’d looked around for just the right house, you know? Just finding the right house for the right money, then got a great deal on the house.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: Very sound house. Have virtually remodeled the whole interior on the house to my liking. I’m very happy with that.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: But the outside of the house has a very coarse stucco finish to it. If you rubbed up against it, it’d probably take the skin off of you; it’s that coarse. And I’m just curious, is there anything I can do to reduce the coarseness or take that stucco off without damaging the cinder block underneath? And it is cinder block, of course.

    TOM: OK. So it’s a masonry stucco on top of cinder block, correct?

    MIKE: Correct.

    TOM: So I mean you could add additional stucco to it and put a different finish on it but it’s a heck of a big project, Mike, for what you’re going to accomplish. And the adhesion is really important, so it has to be done right. They usually use a very stickier mix of stucco to get it to grab onto the old stuff. If it’s very rough like that, that can actually help you with the adhesion, help it hold on. But you’re going to have to have a mason come in and re-stucco the entire house to get that done.

    MIKE: Well, it would have to be – in order to take up all of this, I would say there was going to be anywhere from an inch to an inch-and-a-half of stucco additional.

    TOM: And you know what that’s going to do to your windows and doors, don’t you? You’re going to – all the window and door wells are going to be that much deeper.

    MIKE: Yeah.

    TOM: You know what this sounds to me like? It sounds to me like the kind of outside you’re going to have to get used to. So, I might think about a décor solution, I might think about changing the color, I might think about changing the landscaping. But the stucco itself, I’d probably leave just like it is.

    MIKE: Yeah, yeah. Maybe I’ll just – maybe at the other – a paint scheme of some sort would soften it.

    TOM: Exactly.

    MIKE: OK. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, your home’s doors are the lifeblood of the daily activity in your house. Opening and closing again and again over many, many, many years, they break themselves in and then they end up fitting like your favorite, comfortable, old pair of jeans.

    TOM: Ah, yes. But what if you’re ready for a change and are faced with the task of getting a new door to fit into the old opening? For that, you need a few tricks of the trade, which we’ll get now from our friend, Tom Silva, the general contractor of TV’s This Old House.

    Hey, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Hey, guys. How are you?

    TOM: Now, is it easier to make the door fit the space or to make the space fit the door?

    TOM SILVA: I would say, usually, easier to make the door fit the space because if – you don’t want to take the whole jamb and trim off and rehang it to make it square and true and plumb and level and all those good things.

    TOM: Because the deeper you get, the more complicated the repair can be, right?

    TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, you’re going to end up having to repaint or restain the whole jamb and all the trim and probably patch the wall because you’ve ruined that and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, you want the door – you want to cut the door so it fits. And you want to make sure that it – the space around the door is even. You’ve got to follow the angle of the header and also the threshold.

    TOM: Now, that’s a good point because over years, those openings actually can become – and frankly, frequently are out of square.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly. The house moves; it settles.

    LESLIE: And you’re going to end up with a door that’s perfectly square.

    TOM SILVA: Hopefully, if it’s a new door, yeah.

    LESLIE: So, how do you make one fit into the other when things have sort of shimmied and shifted?

    TOM SILVA: You’ve got to figure out what’s what. I like to take a level and I measure from – I take the level and I mark right across the door frame – anywhere around it at all, I just put a level line usually at my eye sight so I don’t have to bend down, because I’m kind of lazy.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: So I have a level line across the door jamb. I measure from the line on the left up to the inside of the jamb and down to the threshold. I take the same measurement on the other side and measure up to the jamb and down to the threshold.

    TOM: Interesting. So you create your own reference point with a level line and then you measure the offset from there.

    TOM SILVA: Right. And then I do the same thing on the door: put my square line across the door and I measure those four reference points.

    TOM: Got it.

    TOM SILVA: And now I have both angles ready to be cut all at once.

    TOM: And you know it’s going to fit.

    TOM SILVA: Right. Well, I have to subtract a little bit because I want to allow for play.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So on the top, I want to be able to fit a nickel or a quarter in there. In the bottom, I may need a little more space in the bottom if I have a rug or something like that that I want to go over.

    TOM: So this is probably a situation where you want to actually measure more than twice before you cut once.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. And then now I want to check the distance down on the door. I want to also make sure that I look at the door. You want to eyeball the door. I suppose I should have said this first of all.

    You want to make sure that you’re setting the door in the opening the correct way. If you look at the edge of a door and you look down on it from a bird’s eye view, one side of the door has an angle to it. And that angle always goes into the opening first.

    TOM: Are you talking about the edge of the door?

    TOM SILVA: Edge of the door. And that angle is the allowance for the thickness of the door. So when the door swings into the opening, that beveled edge will just go by the edge of the jamb and the space on the side will be correct.

    TOM: And clear nicely.

    TOM SILVA: Yes.

    LESLIE: Now, when it comes time to make the necessary cuts to the door, I mean generally, you’re dealing with a beautifully made piece of lumber and a really gorgeous door. How do you ensure that your cuts don’t splinter and wreck it?

    TOM SILVA: Well, first of all, you want to make sure that you have a good-quality saw blade. A fine-cutting saw blade is very important. Now you want to prep the door. So you can run a nice layer of tape right across the edge where you want to cut. You want to put all your marks on the tape, score it with a utility knife. I like to score right through the tape, leaving the tape into position, and then cut it with a straight edge and my saw follow my mark.

    TOM: And that’s going to make sure that, really, no feathering is left behind.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly.

    TOM: Now, what if we have an old door and maybe we don’t want to replace it but we – it’s just not closing well. How do you actually identify where the door is sticking and do something about it.

    TOM SILVA: Well, you can, lots of times, see where it’s scraping on the trim, on the jamb or even on the edge of the door. There may be some lines or squaring – a wearing of paint.

    And so now you can simply plane it with a hand plane. You can use a block plane if you wanted to or some kind of a plane. If you don’t have that, you could take a block of wood with some coarse sandpaper and sand it. But you also want to make sure that there’s no lead paint on the door. So you don’t want to sand it or cut it with the lead paint. If there is, you want to make sure you protected yourself and the space.

    And then also, be very careful, again, to make sure that you have the correct bevel on the edge and on the top so that it will swing into the opening correct.

    TOM: So that’s a good point. You won’t actually lean towards the inside of the door a little bit so that you create a little bit more space on that side. And the outer edge is just the minimal amount of space. And if we get that just right, though, that door is going to swing smoothly once again.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly. Now, the key to keeping that door in the opening so that it won’t go tight again is once you’ve cleaned off the paint and you’ve made it fit and you’ve allowed for the gap, you want to make sure that you prime and paint all six sides of the door. And that means behind the hinges, too.

    TOM: Good point. And people are going, “Six sides of a door? There’s only two sides of a door.” Nope. You’ve got to remember all the edges; they count. And if you don’t get them right, if you don’t seal them properly, the door is going to move.

    TOM SILVA: It is absolutely going to move.

    TOM: It’s going to swell, it’s going to twist and you’re going to be back where you started.

    TOM SILVA: Yep, yep.

    TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva, from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    He’s one guy that can make a square peg fit in a round hole, any time of the day.

    TOM SILVA: I have a big enough hammer I can do that.

    LESLIE: We like to call those “The Great Persuader.”

    TOM SILVA: Ooh.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some really great step-by-step videos on home improvement projects that you can tackle, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by Home Depot. More savings, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    Up next, as heating season rolls into full swing, you might be thinking about replacing your windows. If so, should you go with vinyl windows or wood windows? We’ll help you figure that out, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, replacement windows are a great way to increase your home’s energy efficiency, value and curb appeal. But there are lots of choices when it comes to windows and it can be confusing and maybe even a bit intimidating when you are faced with all of the styles and types of windows to choose from.

    LESLIE: That’s right. So to take some of the guesswork out, we’ve got information on two specific window types. We’re talking vinyl versus wood. So to help you decide which one is going to work for you, we’ve got a great guest. We’ve got David Nix joining us from Andersen Windows.

    Welcome, David.

    DAVID: Well, hello. Great to be with you.

    TOM: Well, nice to have you back on the program, David. And when it does come to choosing windows, it is a bit confusing because there are just so many options available. But one of the most basic is: what kind of material do you really want for your window? So what do you tell folks that are trying to make that initial decision as to whether or not they should go with vinyl or wood?

    DAVID: Well, I’ll tell you what, one of the first stops when people start shopping for windows is – the question comes up quickly. You’re looking at a lot of different window styles, like casement or double-hung, so that’s confusing. But really, one of the basic decision factors is: what do I want my home to look like from the interior or the exterior? And what you run into is, just like you said, you have a couple basic choices: a wood window on the interior or a vinyl window.

    So, really, what it boils down to there is deciding kind of what your vision is for your home and maybe what’s in your home today.

    TOM: Now, is there a difference in energy efficiency between a wood-style window verses a vinyl-style window? Or can they both be just as energy-efficient?

    DAVID: You know, I get that question a lot and the thing to remember is wood windows, vinyl windows, no matter what you choose offer great energy savings and energy efficiency. They also offer you low-maintenance features that older windows don’t have. And I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that have windows like I’ve had that maybe don’t even open or are hard to open and don’t operate very well. A great upgrade.

    LESLIE: So, David, I think a lot of people get confused when we’re talking about replacement windows. How are replacement windows different from new-construction windows?

    DAVID: Hey, that’s a great question. Well, if you think about new-construction windows – like if you were doing a new room addition, you’re starting with studs, you’re putting on some exterior sheathing and you’ve got to put a window in that rough opening, as it’s called. That’s a new-construction window and you’ve got a little flange around that you screw or nail into.

    A replacement window, which are most of the applications in the marketplace today for existing homes, is specifically designed to go into an existing opening. So you really don’t have to disrupt your home from the interior or the exterior, because that’s where you spend a lot of time and money.

    So, at the end of the day, replacement windows are really an easy choice for a homeowner if you’re a DIYer. If you’re sitting in your home and you’ve got beautiful wood interiors, yeah, you just have to envision what it’s going to look like if I replace my beautiful wood windows with wood or replace them with vinyl. It’ll give you a very different look.

    If you’re on a tight budget and you want to get great bang for your buck, a vinyl window might give you a good choice. But at the end of the day, as we said earlier, both of them can add great energy efficiency, improve the weather tightness and improve your operation of your windows, make them easy to open and close.

    TOM: Great advice. David Nix, Senior Marketing Manager for Andersen Windows and Doors, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    DAVID: Well, thank you.

    TOM: If you’d like more information, you can visit the Andersen Windows website at AndersenWindows.com or head on over to your local Home Depot.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, when it comes to choosing kitchen counters, there are many options. And granite is still a very desirable one but it can be pricey. We’re going to go over some of the pros and cons of granite and give you some options, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America. Now enjoy 10-percent off all special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot, including the Andersen 400 Series Double-Hung Replacement Window, making it easy to replace your old windows. Valid through October 17. See The Home Depot for details.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And hey, have you guys found out about Pinterest yet? This is like a fantastic, new social-media site that actually lets you pin interesting articles or projects or pictures so that anybody who’s following you – your Pinterest page – can take a look at what you’re working on. It’s totally addictive. It’s a great way to get inspiration on different projects and just new products that are out there. It’s really awesome.

    And The Money Pit is on Pinterest and we are pinning cool and money-saving home improvement ideas. So follow us and happy pinning. I guarantee you are going to love it.

    And while you’re online, you can post a question in The Money Pit Community section. And I’ve got one here from Lacey in Oregon who writes: “I’m having a hard time deciding on a type of counter for my kitchen. I know granite adds value to a home, which I want, but I’ve had friends tell me it hangs onto germs and is very hard to clean. I also want a light color. Any advice?”

    TOM: You know, DuPont actually just came out with a product that is specifically a sanitizer for granite countertops. Because the problem with granite countertops is they do require a lot of maintenance. They have to be sealed. And then when you use the traditional kitchen cleaners on them, that can actually break down the sealers.

    So, I know DuPont just came out with a sanitizer that you kind of spray on. You have to leave it for a minute. And you can either wipe it off or you can just let it dry and it kills all sorts of germs. So if you really love granite, that’s great. But remember, granite is a lot of work. It is absorbent, so it has to be sealed. And of course, it also has to be sanitized, much like butcher block. That’s a material, also, that’s beautiful. Of course, not as hard as granite but does need to be sanitized on a regular – yeah, often, on a regular basis.

    LESLIE: Often.

    TOM: But I mean there are other options, as well, and I don’t think that using a solid surfacing material like, for example, a Corian or something like that is going to bring less value than using a laminate. They’re just different looks. I would be hard-pressed to think, though, that any particular countertop is going to make a dramatic difference in home value. It really comes down to the look and the feel and what you want to get out of your kitchen, right?

    LESLIE: I will say, Lacey, that as far as the color goes, with the lighter color, you’re going to end up having to seal it more often because of the light color and its tendency to absorb any type of stain. With a lighter-color granite, if you spill oil or red wine or anything – tomato sauce – you’ve got to clean that stuff up right away.

    I wouldn’t let that discourage you. I would definitely not choose a marble for a kitchen countertop, because they are super-more porous than a granite. Again, if it’s something that you want and you’re willing to do the upkeep, then marble’s a great choice for you. But granite, you can go light or dark; you just have to really commit to the upkeep of it.

    And the price point. I think it’s worth it. I find that granite, from a designer perspective and a real estate perspective – people walk in, they see a granite countertop, as long as it’s not something bizarre, they’re really into it.

    TOM: Leslie, there is a website called TheStoneBroker.com, which is an interesting service. It’s a remnant service for stone countertops. So if you enter into The Stone Broker the specs as to what you’re looking for, they help you find remnant slabs of granite countertops that are much less expensive than traditional going right into the shop. And then they charge a markup – I think it’s a flat markup; it might be $200 – on no matter what size you buy. So you actually can end up buying these granite tops for about 50 percent less expensive through a site like The Stone Broker.

    LESLIE: And I think that could be great if you’ve got a smaller countertop and don’t require a large slab and can just work with a part of a piece. I think it’s a great idea.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show available 24-7, 365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and always online at MoneyPit.com, because we never take a break, we never sleep. We’re just here to answer your questions, so reach out any time of the day or night. Well, I actually sleep but Leslie, she doesn’t; she just stays up. At least until that baby shows up. Then she’ll make up for all the sleep.

    LESLIE: Yeah, right. I’m going to be staying up even more.

    TOM: Thanks for stopping by.

    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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