Home Improvement Tips & Advice
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete
(Note: The timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio files of the show)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: We are live at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida. The 2006 International Builders Show. We’re here with 100,000 of our closest personal friends (laughing) in the home construction and home building industries.
LESLIE: And you know each and every one of them by name.
TOM: We do. We do. So if your contractor is missing this week, he’s definitely here with us.
LESLIE: (laughing) If you’re not getting a return phone call until Monday morning, you’ll understand why; because everyone’s here. Everybody wants to learn about the new technologies, new products, what’s out there, what’s hot so they can best bring this to the consumer – you.
TOM: And it’s been a very, very important year in the home construction industry. We’ve seen some incredible devastation with Katrina this year and we’re going to learn about some of the newest products and techniques that can help make your home more weather resistant. We’re going to talk to editors, experts in the field. We’re going to talk to researchers. We’re going to talk to people that can help you save energy. We’re here because you can’t be here; this is a show that is only open to professionals. But we come here to learn about all the new products that …
LESLIE: Everything that we can. We come here to be sponges; to absorb everything and then bring it to you so you know what’s out there so you can approach your contractor and say, ‘Hey, I heard about this …’
TOM: Well, this is a good …
LESLIE: … and they’ll know where to get it.
TOM: And that’s why this is a very special edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The website is www.moneypit.com; the telephone number 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Maybe you’d like to know if there’s a product that exists out there to solve your do-it-yourself dilemma; to make your home a little safer, a little more energy efficient. Why don’t you call and ask that question? 888-666-3974.
And we are here broadcasting, today, courtesy of some very good friends of mine from Grace Construction Products. Grace, of course, is a leader in helping to make your home more weather resistant.
LESLIE: Well, it’s true. Grace actually – because of Grace Construction’s gracious support, they’ve allowed us to bring you The Money Pit from their fantastic booth. And you know what? They provide the industry’s leading weather barriers, they protect the whole house from water and storm damage. And here to talk about just that, is Larry Shapiro. He’s the business director for Grace residential building materials. Welcome.
LARRY: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
TOM: Well, thanks for having us, once again. And, Larry, you guys have had an incredible year with a lot of growth. You were telling me earlier there was a 37 percent growth this year?
LARRY: Huge growth this year, yeah.
LARRY: It’s been a great year.
TOM: Now, has a lot of that been driven by the severe storms that we’ve had this year?
LARRY: Absolutely. Any time weather and water getting into your house is in the news, that’s good for business for us. And keeping the water out of your building and keeping the water out of your walls and from coming into your roof – that’s what we do.
LESLIE: And it doesn’t always take a major catastrophe to bring water and moisture into your home. So what are some of the things the consumer who may not live in a storm area can do as well?
LARRY: You know, your roof is subjected to rain if you’re in that part of the world, or snow and ice, routinely, if you’re in northern climes. Or wind-driven rain if you live on the coast. Or storms in general. They happen regularly. And those are all potential insults to the building envelope …
LESLIE: I like that.
LARRY: … the part of your house that keeps the weather out.
TOM: Exactly. The building …
LESLIE: Insults to the building envelope. (laughing) I like that.
TOM: (laughing) You know, these storms really do put the homes through their paces; and, unfortunately, that’s the time when people really determine that weak link. And it occurs to me that your products really are the saving grace – no pun intended (laughing) – to try to keep that water from getting in, in all of the key areas.
TOM: The places that buildings leak; the roofs …
LARRY: Right. Yes.
TOM: … the gutter areas …
TOM: … around the windows, around the doors.
LESLIE: Around the chimney.
LARRY: Yes. Yeah.
TOM: It always amazes me that we start with a building that’s basically Swiss cheese …
LARRY: Right. (laughing)
TOM: … and everything we put into that building is designed to keep the elements out.
LARRY: Correct, but allow the light in so you – every time you put a hole inside of the building or a skylight in the top of the building, that’s a potential problem area if you don’t really do it right.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about some of the products that you guys are famous for. Now, you’ve been doing this for 50 years …
TOM: … and, really, one of your fabulous products is Ice & Water Shield. And that’s a product that we have actually mentioned a number of times on this program.
TOM: Listeners know that we like this product because it is so effective no matter where you live; be it in northern climate or even the southern climate, it keeps out water from your roof. So, now, describe it.
LARRY: (overlapping voices) Right, it helps prevent roof leaks. And that is simply what it does. It’s a membrane that goes on your roof before the shingles or the tile or the metal roof coverings will go on and it, basically, serves to waterproof your roof. So if you’re in the northern climate and you’re protecting against ice dams, you’d put this at the eave; you’d put it in any problem areas such as valleys around dormers …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) This is in vulnerable places.
LARRY: … in vulnerable areas. And if you’re in Florida or in Texas or Louisiana or anyplace prone to hurricanes, you’d cover the whole roof with it in case the wind blows hard …
LESLIE: And knocks the shingles right off.
LARRY: … the shingles or tile blows off.
LARRY: The Ice & Water Shield will stay on your roof. It’s got a wind rating that will allow it to be used in hurricane areas and we had really good experience with this product in Florida and in Louisiana during the last two years where the roof blew off but the Ice & Water Shield stayed where it was, keeping the water out.
TOM: And that’s so important because we know that a lot of the mold problems that we’ve seen are really the result of giving that mold the water that it needs to do its dirty work.
LARRY: And once the water gets in, very tough to let it dry out.
TOM: What do you think the most common roofing mistake is that – when people are having roofs replaced – that contractors make that homeowners might want to be aware of?
LARRY: Well, it’s a matter of … most people, when they have their roof done, will focus on the color or how many years their shingles are supposed to last. But the roof is a system. You need the … if you’re having your roof done, you need to make sure you ask your contractor about what’s going on underneath the part of the roof that you can see; which is just as important as the top surface.
TOM: Yeah, in fact, what you can’t see is even more important …
LESLIE: It’s more important.
TOM: … in terms of keeping the water out.
TOM: Because roofs don’t leak in the middle of the roof.
TOM: They leak at penetrations.
LARRY: They leak at penetration, they leak at detail areas. And roofs are not waterproof. People think, ‘Oh, I have shingles on my roof; my roof’s waterproof.’ No. It only keeps the water out because it lets the water shed; sheds off. So anything that prevents that water from shedding off, really goes beyond what traditional shingles are designed to do.
TOM: Let’s talk about not only Ice & Water Shield but this new product, Tri-Flex 30. Now, I’ve been impressed with this because one of the weak links and one of the most difficult parts of putting a roof together is dealing with tar paper …
TOM: … especially in high winds.
TOM: It’s really quite a fragile product.
LARRY: It is.
TOM: And you guys have really come up with a renovation to really replace that.
LARRY: Right. This is a product that’s a synthetic roofing underlayment. It’s designed to replace felt. It’s very lightweight; it weighs like one-eighth of what felt will weigh. It can be left exposed for six months …
LESLIE: Now, I think that’s amazing because you can, mid-construction, have any sort of weather situation …
LESLIE: … and this can be six months in it and have no sort of problem.
LARRY: Correct. It can be left exposed. And the best thing about it is when you nail it down, it doesn’t absorb water so it won’t wrinkle; and if the wind blows, it won’t blow off. We had this material on roofs in the Hurricane Katrina-affected areas and it stayed in place; did what it was supposed to do.
TOM: Now, is it attached with standard fasteners?
LARRY: It is. It is. So it’s a …
TOM: So it’s very simple to use, then?
LARRY: You use it just like felt.
LESLIE: So you’re only replacing the product; not any of the techniques to put it on …
LESLIE: … or any of the tools you’d be using.
LARRY: Right. No new tools, no new techniques. Just easier; because it’s lighter weight.
LESLIE: And we always talk about the vulnerable points; windows, chimneys, places where the water really can get in. And you have this other new product, the Grace Roof Detail Membrane.
LARRY: Right. Any time you have a dormer or a skylight or a chimney, those are all places where you’re vulnerable to leaks. We call them the danger zones. So this is a membrane that’s relatively narrow, easy to apply in those areas and keeps the water out.
TOM: The danger zones; I like that.
LARRY: The danger zones. Yeah, roofs don’t leak; flashings leak.
LARRY: And so, if you have the right flashing and it’s done properly, you’re just not going to have a problem with roofs.
LARRY: And these products allow it – make it very easy for the roofing contractor to do it right and they don’t add a lot of cost.
TOM: The roofers do it right and the homeowners are happy and the house will stay dry; everybody’s happy. Larry Shapiro …
LESLIE: That sounds like a win-win situation.
TOM: … Business Director for Grace Residential Materials. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and for allowing us to broadcast from your booth at the 2006 International Builders’ Show.
LARRY: Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here.
LESLIE: Thank you.
TOM: It’s a very exciting place to be. A lot of things happening here at the Builders’ Show. And we’re going to take a short break. When we come back, we’re going to celebrate an anniversary.
LESLIE: Yes, I know. It’s very exciting.
TOM: It’s great.
LESLIE: It’s ‘Fine Homebuilding’s’ 25th anniversary, if you can believe that.
TOM: When we come back, we’ll celebrate the past and find out what the future of home construction holds. Right after this.
(theme song, commercials)
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Kenmore, makers of the Kenmore Elite Induction Cooktop which cooks food faster and more efficiently than gas or electric ranges. To learn more, visit your local Sears store or call 1-888-KENMORE. Now, here’s Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Welcome to a very special edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, broadcasting from the 2006 International Builders’ Show where we are celebrating all good things in home construction. All new things.
LESLIE: Yes, and we’re just two of over 100,000 people who will attend this event over the next three days.
TOM: Exactly. And we are going to be joined, now, by somebody who’s having a very special anniversary of …
LESLIE: It’s very exciting.
TOM: … teaching people how to improve their homes. Twenty-five years after it first rolled off the presses, it remains the only home-themed magazine written entirely by practicing experts. Joining us to tell us about the most significant events in homebuilding over the last 25 years and with a look ahead to the future of construction, is editor Kevin Ireton. Hi, Kevin.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
LESLIE: Nice to see you.
KEVIN: It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Well, you have been a regular contributor to The Money Pit, now, for over a year and we always enjoy your reports. And, first of all, congratulations on the anniversary.
KEVIN: Thanks, the amazing thing isn’t that ‘Fine Homebuilding’s’ been around for 25 years but that I’ve been a part of it for as long as I have. (laughing) I can’t believe I’ve surprised.
TOM: You’re looking pretty good.
KEVIN: Well, thanks. I’ve actually been with the magazine for 20 years now.
TOM: Is that right?
KEVIN: A lot of people at the company lost money on that fact, too. (laughing)
TOM: Well, I think it’s fabulous that the magazine is the only one in the industry that’s written totally by practicing experts. And I think that seems to be a real opportunity for you to create a publication that really is to, for and about the people that are doing this for a living.
KEVIN: Day in and day out, that’s what amazes me; is that all of these wonderful builders across the country are willing to share what they’ve learned in the pages of the magazine. We really think of it as a community of people who care about building quality houses.
LESLIE: Well, and it’s shortcuts and secrets and tips to sort of shave off time and make things more efficient and just get things done in a better way.
KEVIN: That’s exactly right. Given the escalating cost of building houses, anything that you can do to save a little time and money is worth gold.
LESLIE: Now, I know in my 25 years – hee hee hee hee (laughing) …
TOM: Of life? (laughing)
LESLIE: … I mean I can remember watching the Jetsons – like I know, like it says in your article – and I really was convinced that we would have flying cars and interesting sort of new structures. So, really, where have we come and what is this future that we’re looking toward?
KEVIN: Well, for this anniversary issue, we decided to look ahead at what houses might be like 25 years from now. And the first thing we started was by looking back 25 years to see, well, how well did we do in the past to predict what the house of the future was going to be like. The truth is we’ve never done very well with that. (laughing) Houses still look a lot like they did 200 years ago, in fact, and we think they’re going to continue to look the same way. They’re going to continue to have gable roofs and chimneys and multi-pane windows. But the insides are likely to keep changing.
TOM: That’s amazing. Kevin Ireton, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Thanks for having me, guys.
LESLIE: Thank you.
TOM: Fabulous. Well, this has been a year when we really have talked a lot about the impact of moisture on homes. And one of the companies that really has been behind making products that are very, very moisture resistant is Georgia-Pacific.
LESLIE: Yeah, they really have. It’s an amazing … it’s amazing what they’ve done. There’s a new product – you and I are both so familiar with it; it’s the DensArmor Plus. It’s fantastic because it’s a drywall that’s water resistant. And I find it just so amazing and they’ve really helped us to come leaps and bounds in changing the whole structure of the inside of your home.
TOM: Joining us to talk about just that is Alan Thielemann; he’s the Vice President of Marketing for Georgia-Pacific. Alan, welcome to the program.
ALAN: Thanks very much. Glad to be here.
TOM: What took so long? (laughing) I mean when you see the horrible images of the mold on all of the drywall in all of the hurricane hit areas this country has had this year, it’s just the perfect time for this product. Is this going to be the future of home construction?
ALAN: Yeah, we really do believe it is. The first question is why did it take so long. Well, wallboard has been wallboard and the way it looks and the way it acts for 50, 60, 70 years; it does have some challenges. And part of the challenges have really come to light in the fact that we tighten up our houses and, when we do that, we force moisture from the inside through the walls; it resides in the stud cavity and, quite frankly, if I have a paper and paper touches moisture, you end up with mold.
LESLIE: And the entire house is a food source for mold.
TOM: It’s really interesting if you think about the history of wall construction. Alright, we started out with plaster … wood lath and plaster. And, of course, the plaster surface itself was inorganic so that didn’t grow mold. So then we went to a plaster lath which was covered with plaster.
TOM: Still, a surface that didn’t grow …
LESLIE: And now the whole thing.
TOM: … right, still a surface, though, that didn’t grow mold. But now we took that leap and we figured out that that plaster lath actually makes a pretty good finish by itself and we call it wallboard. And that’s when we’ve kind of gotten ourselves in trouble. And you guys, now, really have the newest innovation in wall construction than I think we’ve ever seen in all of those years.
ALAN: Well, it is totally different technology. One can say you simply took the paper off the face of the back and put fiberglass, which is true. It’s not an easy process to do – the fiberglass is embedded into the core – but we’ve also totally changed the core. Because, basically, mold feeds off organics. And if you can remove the organics, both in the paper but also in the core – there are starches and pulps and sugars and all sorts of things that you make – it’s like making a cake when you make wallboard; you throw all this stuff in and you mix it up and you end up with a core, mostly gypsum but, again, other products.
So we have totally redone that. In fact, we have to totally shut down our lines and purify the lines before we remake Armor Plus.
LESLIE: So it’s not infiltrated with any of the organic materials.
ALAN: Exactly. We use substitutes for the pulps and the papers and the sugars and we also bring in a heavy dose of silicone. So, actually, the product doesn’t wick; you could put the product in moisture and water and it won’t wick up into the product.
TOM: Because we see that a lot. Let’s say someone has a flooded basement, for example.
TOM: Water is only six inches high but it wicks up – through the force of capillarity – two, three feet; sometimes even more.
ALAN: Exactly. We even had some situations … we had a structure in Louisiana that was flooded. And, afterwards, they were able to clean it and the wallboard was reusable.
LESLIE: Really? So it’s been really tested with the most extremes.
ALAN: It has.
LESLIE: And it finishes in the same way that traditional drywall would?
ALAN: It’s exactly like that. There’s no difference whatsoever except that you have a much higher level of protection. There’s a rating scale for how much a product will attract mold and it rates from one to 10; and this rates a 10. In fact, if you extended that on for multiple weeks, it would probably be a 12. It’s just a terrific product. There’s just no place for mold to grow.
LESLIE: And this product can actually be installed into the home before the exterior walls are up, if you’re in the building process. So they can be exposed to the elements as well.
ALAN: That’s exactly right, Leslie. The advantage is that it’s got a three-month exposure warranty. You can put it up, the rain can come and you’re not going to have any problems whatsoever.
TOM: Now, how is it taped and how is it – is it nailed the same way? How is it taped and spackled? The same way or is that all different?
ALAN: It’s exactly the same. There’s no difference. So any builder who comes in and uses regular drywall – which they all do – can easily use this product and there would be no changes whatsoever.
LESLIE: And it’s already readily accessible. I’ve seen it in The Home Depot.
ALAN: Right. It’s sold in both Home Depot and Lowe’s and all drywall distributors around the country also stock it.
TOM: And you certainly wouldn’t want to use the paper tape on it (laughing); that would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?
ALAN: Well, yes and no. There’s a lot of people who do use paper tape on it because, really, the inside of your building is conditioned space …
ALAN: … so you’re less likely to have problems. The real challenge in wallboard is the backside of the wall which you never see – the stud cavity. There’s a study that says over 70 percent of all our homes have mold on it. And there’s also another study that says of those, 70 percent of that is in the stud cavity. So that’s not the stuff you see. So you may look at your house and say, ‘Gee, it’s fine. It’s perfectly fine; I don’t see any challenges or brown spots or mold,’ but, in fact, if you took the wall and you ripped off the wallboard, you might look behind it and see that you do have some problems. So this …
TOM: It’s what you don’t know and what you can’t see that could hurt you.
ALAN: And that’s the scariest thing. I mean you build a house and you want to live there and you want it safe for your family; you want to ensure that it’s the highest quality you can make it.
TOM: Now, what’s your take on the building industry this year? Happy with the growth?
ALAN: Well, from our standpoint, we make a wide variety of products. We make plywood and lumber and particle board and gypsum products and a host of others; we’ve had a phenomenal year. First of all, the gypsum industry has been blessed with a very, very strong year and strong demand. And our fiberglass products are just going through the roof. We can’t make enough of them. They are being very, very well accepted and growing rapidly. The structural panel marketplace is very, very strong as well. Plywood is kind of seeing a resurgence; it’s really a better product than it’s been given credit for. It has some unique applications.
TOM: Exciting time …
ALAN: It is indeed.
TOM: Exciting time to be in the building industry. Alan Thielemann from Georgia-Pacific. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit. We’re going to take a short break from our broadcast of the 2006 International Builders’ Show. But when we come back, there’s one company in America that has helped consumers save more than $4 million in energy and water costs every single day. Learn what that is, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Reiker Room Conditioners, available at all Menard’s, selected Lowe’s and Home Depots and as a special order in all Lowe’s and Home Depot stores. Or contact Reiker at www.heatingfans.com. Or call 1-866-4-reiker – that’s r-e-i-k-e-r – for additional information.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We are heard coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. And today we are being heard in Orlando, Florida, at the 2006 International Builders’ Show.
LESLIE: Yeah, we’re being heard by the pros who are going to bring all of these new technologies to you when they return back to their home states on Monday.
TOM: Absolutely. And you know, Leslie, it’s become so that I cannot get through a project without one and, usually, several trips …
LESLIE: Several trips. (chuckles)
TOM: … to my local Home Depot. Home Depot is a company that really is a leader in this industry and they stay on top of the wants and needs of consumers.
LESLIE: Yes. Not only do they have every tool and material you’ll need to get just about any job done, they’re always on hand to show you how to use them properly and how to best accomplish your project.
TOM: Joining us to talk about that is Roger Adams; he’s the Senior Vice President of Marketing for The Home Depot. Roger, welcome to the program.
ROGER: Well, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
TOM: I was amazed by these stats. You guys are so in touch with the needs of consumers and you, with your energy saving initiatives, have helped consumers save more than $4 million a day.
ROGER: Well, is energy a concern for you? And that’s kind of a loaded question but …
LESLIE: Seems like it’s a concern for everyone. (laughing)
ROGER: … but we’ve got … we’ve got something that we can supply in almost all categories.
TOM: Yeah, do you think you’re going to pay more for energy this year?
TOM: Everybody says, ‘Yes.’ (laughing)
ROGER: I mean that’s the easiest question to ask.
TOM: It’s the easiest question in the world. And it’s something that really goes right to the heart and it goes right to the wallet. And I always say this is leaky wallet season; when the energy bills just fly right out of your wallet.
ROGER: Well, you know the gas prices have gone up because of the natural disasters we’ve had this year. And people are really facing some of their first heating bills of the season right now.
LESLIE: And they’re high.
ROGER: And so this is a particularly important time of the year to be talking about energy savings.
TOM: Well, let’s talk about that. Do you have some suggestions on what – maybe you could tell us what the top products are that people are purchasing in Home Depots across the country to help cut back on some of those energy costs.
ROGER: Well, one of the things that people have been buying in numbers is compact fluorescent light bulbs but I still think the opportunity for that is huge. There’s probably … the majority of your listeners probably have not made that switch yet. But it provides all the kind of lighting capability that you would want and yet it saves a tremendous amount of money. It can save $60 a year if you just change five light bulbs in your house. So if you think about something very easy to do – an apartment owner could do it as well, the homeowner – that’s one of the things that we’re seeing grow very rapidly, right now, because it’s so easy to do.
LESLIE: And each bulb will last about 10,000 hours so…
ROGER: That is true.
LESLIE: … compare that to your incandescent bulb; you’ll be just throwing money away with those.
ROGER: That’s very true.
TOM: What’s confusing to consumers, too, is that you talk about a 60-watt light bulb …
TOM: … and what people don’t realize is that 60 watts – a watt is a measure of electricity. And so with these compact fluorescents, you’re delivering the equivalent of 60 watts of light but you’re only paying for 16 watts of electricity.
TOM: So a quarter of the electricity to give you the same amount of light.
ROGER: Yeah, I think the packaging is doing a better job of explaining that. So it shows the output …
ROGER: … which is equivalent to 60 watts but you’ll see it’s 16 watts of actual energy. And that’s where the savings comes from. And then, as you point out, Leslie, they’ll last for up to 10 years. So it’s a great investment particularly for a light you’re going to use on a frequent basis.
TOM: Now, I notice that you guys were the 2005 Energy Star Retail Commitment Award winners. Congratulations on that.
LESLIE: That’s excellent.
TOM: You’re selling more and more, obviously, Energy Star appliances in your store. What are the trends on that?
ROGER: Yeah, we’re really making that a real focus because we see … we’re trying to provide consumers what they’re looking for. And they’re looking for ways to save on their home. But we’re doing a lot more of information. We’re doing a lot more in the clinic area. We pride ourselves on know-how. We have clinics – in fact, all this month, on Saturday mornings at 10:00 – that anyone can drop in and just how to save money on energy by changing products out in your home. So it’s something that we try and encourage all of our associates to be knowledgeable about and to get training on.
What we are seeing a big trend in, right now, is people changing out appliances: washer and dryers, refrigerators, those types of things. Because there’s been so many advancements in this area, right now.
TOM: Right. Not because it’s worn out …
TOM: … but because there’s so much the new product has to offer them.
ROGER: Right. And the savings – energy savings – from it is tremendous. And one of the big trends, which may have surprised a lot of people, is the front load washers.
ROGER: Typically, in America, it’s been all top load business and front load, now, is really growing like gangbusters. And the energy savings there are enormous; it’s not just a cosmetic thing. But they use about half as much water as a traditional top load and they’re actually better, in most cases, for your clothes; they don’t agitate.
LESLIE: And they have more capacity.
TOM: Right. And they take so much of that water out of the clothes on the spin cycle that you use less electricity or gas with the dry side.
LESLIE: For the dryer.
ROGER: Right. So here you have a case where d