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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (promo/theme song)

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why would you want to dial that? Well, I’m sure you have a home improvement question. You must have a do-it-yourself dilemma. Something’s going on at your house that you want to change. You know, we just started a home improvement project in our house and it seemed to never end because home improvement …

    LESLIE: That’s because you did every room in the house, Tom.

    TOM: It’s viral. It’s like connect the dots. You start in one room and you work your way around the house. But whether you’re doing the entire house or just one little project – maybe it’s something as simple as a floor squeak or a nail that’s popping through the wall or you’ve got an entire roof to replace – call us right now. We’ll help you get the job done quicker, safer and more economical. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Hey, speaking of roofs, here’s a question for you. When is it a good idea to have a hole in your roof?

    LESLIE: Ooh, a riddle. I love them.

    TOM: Well, when that hole is filled with a skylight (Leslie chuckles) it’s an excellent idea.

    LESLIE: Excellent.

    TOM: We’re going to give you some tips on how to install one, including how to keep the elements out. That’s the trick there. You know, putting skylights in are great but whenever you put a hole in your roof you have another risk of a leak. We’ll tell you how to do it without having a leak problem.

    LESLIE: And you might have heard this very popular term uttered once or twice – curb appeal. And it is essential to get buyers in your door and it can actually increase the perceived value of your home. We’re going to tell you what you can do today that’s going to help give your home the nicest look on the outside and bring those selling dollars up and up.

    TOM: And in a few minutes we’re going to tell you about a new bathroom design that’s not only stylish; it’s extremely practical. They are called barrier-free baths. And with us to talk about that will be the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, Kevin Ireton.

    LESLIE: And this hour we’re giving away a combination automatically winding hose reel and garden sink from NO-CRANK. It’s a great prize. It gets its name from the patented water-powered technology that allows hands-free hose winding. No more muddy hands after you’ve done all that yard work. It’s worth 100 bucks but it could be yours for free.

    TOM: If you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Listening in New Jersey on WABC we’ve got Grace. How can we help you?

    GRACE: We have a house that’s about 120 years old and we moved into it four years ago. Just before we moved into it the house had had a fire. And they had restored the house but they preserved some of it. The hardwood floors on the first floor have these huge cracks in between the panels on the floor; the boards. And they had, at one point, finished them and put, it looks like, plastic wood or something in between but a lot of that …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    GRACE: … [wiped out] (ph). And so we have these – it’s a very big floor. It spans over three rooms and there are large cracks that you can probably fit maybe one or two quarters in between. Is there any way I can like save the floor?

    TOM: If you have a strip floor like that, it’s not designed to have a filler in between. It’s just not. Because each one of those boards is moving and the – anytime you put filler in between it’s going to expand and contract and, you know, kind of chunk up and fall out. You know, generally, those gaps are really sort of, I hate to say it, part of the charm of having the hardwood. If you’re looking for a floor that has no gaps in it, then you’re going to have to replace that.

    GRACE: Right. But as far as the really big gaps, there’s really – other than just leaving them be there’s nothing I can do about it?

    TOM: Well, if you replace sections of the hardwood floor and you’re able to, you know, restore the floor to closer to the way it was when it was originally installed, that’s an option. I had, for example, in my home we had – when we bought this house there was carpet all over the first floor. And we pulled it up we – no, we did find good news. We found gorgeous hardwood floors. The bad news was in the areas around the doorways it had completely worn so badly that you could almost – there was almost no tongue and groove left and the boards were really gapped. So we took up large sections of it but because the floor was so old, I actually had to physically make the hardwood – the new hardwood boards out of stock lumber. I had to physically plane them with the tongues and the grooves to match them in size because they actually were not available.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So that you can match them to the size.

    TOM: So I was able to make it myself, you know, using a table saw and a router and so on.

    GRACE: Right.

    TOM: But you can replace boards in that way and if it’s some, you know, certain sort of limited areas of the room, it’s possible to do that. But short of that kind of a serious repair, it’s either live with it or replace it, Grace.

    GRACE: OK. Thanks.

    TOM: (chuckling) Thanks you think, right? (laughing)

    GRACE: (laughing) No, not really. (laughing) But can you pull up one board at a time or do you have to do a whole section at a time?

    TOM: Well no, you could pull up a couple of boards at a time and the way you would do that is you take a circular and cut that board in half and then it would come up [in pieces] (ph) so the board you want to replace you’d cut with a circular saw.

    GRACE: And what the renovators did by putting that plastic wood in between the cracks, that was not a good thing?

    TOM: Absolutely not.

    LESLIE: And it’s only a temporary fix because eventually it’s going to break up or fall apart.

    TOM: It’s a big maintenance hassle that they caused you by doing that.

    GRACE: And that’s what’s happened here.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s just – it was a completely inappropriate thing to do.

    GRACE: OK. Well. (laughing) (inaudible)

    TOM: Better luck next time, Grace. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    At least she has a sense of humor about it.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) I guess that’s all you can have at that point.

    Joe in New York is looking to get outdoors and enjoy a new deck. How can we help you?

    JOE: Oh, hi! Hi, Leslie. Tom, how are you doing?

    LESLIE: Hi!

    TOM: Terrific! What’s cooking?

    JOE: OK. I built a deck about eight years ago; a pressure-treated deck.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    JOE: In my backyard. And each year I would treat it with like a Thompson water seal. And after like the third or fourth year I noticed the deck – the wood itself was – had excessive cracking in the grains of the wood.

    TOM: Yes.

    JOE: And I was told that was called checking.

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JOE: And I tried to treat it, you know, for another year after that and I just couldn’t get it to stop. And I had a representative come over and look at it, from where I bought the lumber, but the store had gone out of business. So I couldn’t make any claim on it. And he told me that the wood itself, it wasn’t properly treated for the proper length of time under pressure.

    TOM: That sounds like a lot of speculation, Joe. The bottom line is that wood is always going to crack and it’s always going to check. And even though it’s pressure treated, that stops the wood from rotting. It does not stop the wood from cracking.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: That checking and that cracking is normal wear and tear for lumber. That’s what happens. Now, for the most part it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of it …

    LESLIE: But it affects the cosmetics issue of it and it can be …

    TOM: Yeah. Exactly.

    JOE: It looks very, very, you know, like somebody would take a knife and just score it.

    TOM: Yeah. You might be happier if you stopped clear coating it and put a stain on it.

    LESLIE: Well and also I think what you need to do at this point is strip the finish off. Whatever clear coat you have on there from all those years of just putting new – you know, new on top of old and you’re probably not getting the best adhesion, you want to use a chemical stripper – and I say get it down to the bare wood or as close to it as you can …

    JOE: What about pressure-treating it off with some kind of chemical cleaner?

    TOM: Well, you need a combination of chemical cleaner and some muscle. But what Leslie is suggesting is that you use a stripper because with all …

    LESLIE: Which will do the work for you.

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    JOE: Oh.

    LESLIE: And then …

    JOE: But the deck is – the deck is rather large. It’s 36 feet by like 40.

    LESLIE: Well …

    TOM: Home improvements aren’t all simple, Joe. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Yeah, I mean this is going to be a project that’s going to take some time because you can’t do everything in one day and things need time to work and dry in between. But I would say use a chemical stripper. Flood makes a great line of products that are really effective. And take off all the finish that you can …

    JOE: Right.

    LESLIE: … and then once you see what that raw lumber looks like, you know, really assess then how it looks. There’s a lot of different options as far as solid stains or semi-transparents or even translucent stains. And a lot of them – especially the ones from Flood – are treated with a UV resistancy …

    JOE: Oh …

    LESLIE: … so that once you choose whether you want the solid stain – and if the lumber’s not looking so great, go with a solid stain and just choose a color that’s either natural or works with your color scheme or the siding or your shutters. Choose – there’s 60-something choices so pick something that works well for your d

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