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Organize Your Basement, Soundproof Your Home and Virtually Invisible Fencing

  • Transcript

    (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: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We are here to help you with your do-it-yourself dilemmas, get those projects done. Again, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    Hey, if getting organized was one of your New Year’s resolutions but it took you the entire month so far to take down those holiday lights and decorations, it might not be (Leslie chuckles) working out that well for you. But it couldn’t – it may not be your fault; it could be your storage system. So this hour, we’ve got some tips on how to keep all your stored items dry, safe and easily accessible all-year round.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know, they say good fences make good neighbors but if you don’t like the look of a fence, we’re going to share with you an option that will give you security without being too obvious.
    TOM: And also ahead, we’ve got tips to help you soundproof rooms in your home. It’s a question that keeps coming up more often on the show. And there are some things that you can do to make your home office quieter or just keep the kids’ playroom noise to a minimum. We’re going to learn more about that later this hour.
    LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure to one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour.
    TOM: So give us a call right now; the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to those phones.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Paul in New York needs some help finishing a basement floor. Tell us about the project.
    PAUL: I’m finishing my basement and I wanted to know if I should stain my concrete floor first and then polish or polish and then stain.
    LESLIE: I feel like if you polish it, you’re going to be putting a sort of resistance zone, if you will, between the floor itself – which is very porous – and the stain that you want to apply that you want to be absorbed into the concrete, rather than just sit on top; otherwise, it’s going to flake off.
    Now, there are several different things you can do. There are epoxy coatings, which are like a paint that would go on a concrete but sort of a curing system that will be very, very durable but more like a solid color.
    Then there’s acid staining. QUIKRETE makes one that’s interior or exterior. It comes in four different colors, which is a very easy process to follow. If you do some research online, you can find different acid-staining kits that, you know, depending on how you mix it and what additives you put in, you can get a variety of colors and you can apply in a whole host of ways to make something that looks like marbling, full patterns.
    I mean, there are a lot of options out there but once you get what you want it to look like, then I would seal it and polish it and get it finished.
    PAUL: Awesome. Thank you very much.
    LESLIE: Good luck.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Debbie in Indiana is having some issues with paint and siding. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
    DEBBIE: Hi. We have an older, two-story home. It was built, I think, like in 1918 and there is siding on it; aluminum siding. But any time it rains, on the south side of our house, the paint is peeling off.
    TOM: Over the – only the south side of the aluminum siding?
    DEBBIE: Yes.
    TOM: Alright, so here’s why that’s happening. On the south side of your house you have the most sun.
    TOM: More sun, more deterioration, more UV radiation, quicker deterioration of the paint surface. Apparently it’s gotten bad enough where the paint now is delaminated from the siding itself.
    TOM: This condition will continue to get worse over the next several years as the paint gets equally worn out on the other side.
    Now the good news is that you can repaint aluminum siding but you do have to strip the oldest stuff off first because you’ve got to have a good, you know, base to adhere to. And the single best way to paint that aluminum siding is not with a brush, not with a roller but with a sprayer.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) With a sprayer.
    DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
    TOM: You want to go out and rent a sprayer. You know, when …
    LESLIE: And it’s really fun, Debbie. (Debbie chuckles)
    TOM: It’s fun but when you use the sprayer you’ve got to do – spend a lot of time on the prep. So don’t forget to mask everything, including …
    DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK. And how do you take the paint off then?
    TOM: Well, you’re going to want to probably abrade that off. You’re probably going to want to sand it, wire brush it to get all the loose stuff off.
    DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
    TOM: You can leave some of it on if it’s well-adhered but if it’s loose, that’s what you’ve got to get off.
    DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
    TOM: Remember, you’ve got to mask everything down; including the car and your kids. Alright? (Leslie chuckles) Because, otherwise, they’re going to get covered when you whip out that sprayer.
    DEBBIE: (chuckling) Alright.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And get yourself one of those little pink suits; like get that little white zip-up suit thing at the home center. You’ll be really happy you did.
    DEBBIE: OK, great.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. And hang out a little sign that you’re a painter and you’ll get some work from your neighbors.
    DEBBIE: (laughing) OK, thank you so much.
    TOM: Alright, Debbie. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    LESLIE: Kenny in South Carolina has got a leaky roof. What can we do for you?
    KENNY: I’ve got a problem with the twirly-bird fans that sit on top of the roof.
    TOM: The twirly-bird fans.
    KENNY: And they seem to be leaking when either one of two things: either we have no wind whatsoever, which is almost never …
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
    KENNY: … or when we have a really, really, really hard rain.
    TOM: OK. Is it your sense that the rain is blowing through the fan or is it a leak where the fan attaches to the roof?
    KENNY: It’s blowing through the fan.
    TOM: Through the fan. OK. Well, first of all, those spinny, fan types of vent devices don’t really work that well as a venting strategy. You’re almost better off not having them …
    KENNY: Wow. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: … and instead, having something called a ridge-and-soffit-vent system, where the peak of the roof essentially becomes the vent.
    KENNY: Right.
    TOM: Those vents are just not that efficient at really doing what they’re supposed to do, which is to carry heat out of the roof in the summer and moisture out of the roof in the winter.
    LESLIE: Wait and won’t those turbine vents not even work unless you have a soffit vent as well?
    TOM: Right, because they have to pull air from somewhere, you know; otherwise they’re just going to exhaust in between themselves, so to speak, from one to the next. So, if they’re giving you a hard time, I would suggest that you think about replacing them and go with either a plain, square-roof vent or, better yet, with a ridge vent.
    KENNY: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie. I really appreciate this.
    TOM: You’ve very, very welcome, Kenny.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Our pleasure.
    TOM: 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. We are always puttering around our money pits, (Leslie and Tom chuckle) so we know you are, too; so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, basement storage smarts to keep your belongings safe and dry. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.

    (theme song)
    TOM: Making good homes better, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with any home improvement project that’s on your to-do list. And we’ve got a great prize to help you do that, even when we’re not around. It’s sort of like the portable Tom and Leslie.
    LESLIE: Indeed.
    TOM: It’s the copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure. Going to go out to one caller.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? It’s packed with the same kind of great advice that we give you on the radio each week and we know that you’re going to just leaf through it again and again, search the projects you’re working on, get all the information you need. It’s full of great advice and it could be yours if you are our lucky caller this hour. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. And right from page 78 of our book, some basement storage smarts. You might just have to put away all of your holiday stuff down there. And if you’ve noticed that it could use a little bit of sprucing up, here are some tips to help you do that.
    Make sure that you first mine the moisture areas of the basement. You want to make sure wherever you store is as dry as possible. You want to use galvanized metal or the fabricated plastic shelving because both resist wear and moisture. And make sure the lowest shelf is at least six inches off the ground. Always think up and use as much available space as you can towards the ceiling.
    And store items in well-labeled, clear plastic bins. And if you’re dealing with limited storage space, rotate the items so that the next season’s decorations are always at the ready, at the front of the shelf when it’s time to unpack them. We do just that, except we don’t do it in the basement; we do it in the attic.
    LESLIE: Mmm. Our attic is a little tricky now that we’ve got the fun central air but I do have the tiniest little closet in the basement that is my holiday décor zone. And I do that.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) And you need every square inch. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: James in Texas is dealing with an odor from a heat pump. Tell us about the problem.

    JAMES: Well, it’s just that occasionally there is a bad odor that comes out of the heating vent and I’ve been told that it’s called the Wet Sock Syndrome. (Tom laughs) Stinky Sock Syndrome.
    TOM: It’s called the Wet Sock or the Dirty Sock Syndrome; more accurately, it’s musty.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Gross.
    TOM: It’s like a musty coil syndrome. What happens is the coil – which is the evaporator coil; it’s on top of the furnace – gets covered with a fungus and that fungus is what has the awful odor. So what has to happen here is it has to be cleaned and so you’re going to have to have a heating pro come in and probably do this. It’s a little bit difficult to do it yourself but it has to be cleaned. It needs to be sprayed down with a mildicide or perhaps even bleach would work.
    And that’ll kill the fungus and then it should be clean so that if there’s any – there’s actually like a brush that can go in there and clean this out, so that you get rid of any fungus parts that are sort of left behind. And that should make the place smell a whole heck of a lot better, James.
    JAMES: OK.
    TOM: It’s a growth. It’s a very moist, damp area so it’s a common place for it to grow.
    JAMES: Yeah, they said otherwise they have to replace the coil like for $3,000.
    TOM: Nah, I don’t think you have to replace it, James; I think just a little housekeeping here will do the trick.
    JAMES: Alrighty.
    TOM: You know who might be able to do this for you? A duct cleaning company, come to think of it. They may be able to do it as well, because they have the equipment to really get in there. But it does have to be treated with a mildicide; I just want to caution you about that.
    JAMES: OK. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re welcome, James. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to head over to Michigan and chat with Mary. What can we do for you today?
    MARY: Yes. We recently updated our kitchen and we put in a high-definition laminate and I put in stone backsplash.
    TOM: OK.
    MARY: And I’d like the backsplash to have a little more shine to it. Is there anything I can put on it?
    TOM: You could use a stone sealer for that. Do you have any kind of a finish on the stone at all right now?
    MARY: Yes. It’s all been sealed with a sealer.
    TOM: It has been sealed. But you…
    MARY: Yes.
    TOM: Because you have high-def laminate, you now basically have a fairly rich-looking countertop surface but the natural (chuckles) – actually, the laminate looks better than the natural.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It dulls the stone.
    TOM: (chuckling) Exactly.
    MARY: Right.
    TOM: Mary, the sealer that was put on the first time, did you guys put that on or did you have somebody else do that?
    MARY: I had it installed, so they did that.
    TOM: OK. Can you find out what manufacturer they used? And here’s why: sealers are available in different finishes and for the most part, people are going to apply a semi-gloss sealer…
    LESLIE: Or even a satin.
    TOM: … or even a satin one because they don’t want to have a lot of shine. In your situation, you want to have a lot of shine; you want a high gloss. Now, there are plenty of good-quality, high-gloss sealers on the market. I know DuPont makes a good one called StoneTech. The problem is that they don’t recommend that you put it over another product, so the fact that you have a sealer on there makes it difficult for you to put another manufacturer’s product over it, certainly, without voiding their warranty.
    So that’s why I suggest that you go back to the original installers and find out what manufacturer’s product that they used. That manufacturer will probably have a product that’s available in high-gloss which can go on top of the semi-gloss or the satin finish that you have on right now. Does that make sense?
    MARY: That makes sense.
    TOM: And I think that’ll do it.
    MARY: (overlapping voices) I thank you very much and I will do that.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and enjoy that new kitchen countertop.
    LESLIE: Chris needs some help with weatherproofing. What can we do for you?
    CHRIS: I just recently had my attic have a radiant, spray-on barrier put in in the attic and also I had a ridgeline vent put in to improve the energy efficiency of the home.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. OK.
    CHRIS: And now I’ve recently heard that you can get this Icynene foam spray for your attic which then makes it airtight up there and that approach would be they would want to do away with any attic vents, make it super airtight and to prevent the hot air coming in and improve energy efficiency. Are you familiar with that type of an approach for attic insulation?
    TOM: Yeah, you’re talking about Icynene. It’s an excellent product. It’s an expandable foam.
    LESLIE: And man, does it expand.
    TOM: Yeah, expands like crazy. And not only is it insulation; it’s an air barrier as well. The ventilation that’s up there now is not going to hurt or help if you use an Icynene type of insulation. You basically would have to remove all the existing fiberglass and then it’s sprayed across the ceiling and completely insulates and seals that ceiling from the rest of the house, which cuts back on drafts and that sort of thing. So you wouldn’t have to be concerned about the ridge vent that you put in there if you want to go that route.
    You didn’t mention what kind of insulation you have right now. What are we looking at there?
    CHRIS: Just the typical spray-in, I guess.
    TOM: Blown-in?
    CHRIS: Yeah, blown-in. Yes.
    TOM: How many inches of it?
    CHRIS: Oh, I’m up to about 24 inches.
    TOM: Well, that sounds like it’s a pretty well-insulated space. You’ve got 24 inches of insulation, it’s well-ventilated and you’ve got a radiant barrier. You know, I think you’re doing a great job there, Chris.
    CHRIS: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, very good.
    TOM: Chris, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Jennifer in Utah, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    JENNIFER: Well, I have oil-based paint in my entire kitchen.
    TOM: OK.
    JENNIFER: And I hate the color. I just barely moved in. I hate the color. I don’t like the shine. It’s like fully glaring in my kitchen. (Leslie chuckles) And I don’t…
    LESLIE: But it’s probably easy to clean.
    JENNIFER: It is easy to clean (Leslie chuckles) but I don’t want to sand the whole thing. I’ve heard you have to sand it to paint over oil-base. Is that true?
    TOM: Well, you have to certainly clean it. You’ll want to get any type of debris that’s on that surface off. It is a good idea to go lightly over it with sandpaper. But what I would do, as the most important step, Jennifer, is I would apply an oil-based primer on top of that. Applying an oil-based primer is going to give you maximum adhesion to whatever is underneath it and that’s very, very critical. Once you have the oil-based primer over the old surface, then you can put latex paint right over that – any color that you wish – and you know it’s going to seal well, it’s going to stick well and it’s going to flow nicely and it’ll be great.
    JENNIFER: Nice. OK.
    TOM: Alright? So you don’t have to take it all off. You just have to rough it up a little bit, abrade it, make sure it’s nice and clean. Go on top of it with the oil-based primer and then you can go use latex paint after that.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And for the kitchen you want to make sure that you do go with some sort of a sheen just because if you go with a matte finish, everything is going to stick to it; it’s going to be hard to clean.
    JENNIFER: (overlapping voices) And it’s really hard to clean, yeah.
    LESLIE: Even if you want to go for something that’s not very shiny, make sure you choose something that’s scrubbable, something that’s made for the kitchen area; you know, good to stand up to the moisture and just the grease that ends up all throughout the space.
    JENNIFER: Uh-huh. OK, well thank you.
    LESLIE: Horace in Texas needs some help with a countertop. What can we do for you?
    HORACE: Well, I have a bubble in that countertop. I don’t know what caused it. It’s about the size of what would be a silver dollar.
    LESLIE: OK, and…
    TOM: Oh, boy.
    HORACE: Anything I can do without having to replace the whole thing?
    LESLIE: And this is a laminate countertop?
    HORACE: Yes, it is.
    TOM: And where is the bubble located? Is it in sort of the middle of the surface?
    HORACE: It’s just about an inch from – about three inches from the edge.
    TOM: OK. You can pick up a solvent for contact cement and very carefully sort of work it into the edge. Because what you want to do is get it to the point where you can actually peel off the laminate back those two or three inches.
    HORACE: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
    TOM: And then after it’s all sort of peeled back, stick something in there to hold it up. Let it dry really well and then reapply new contact cement to that, Horace.
    TOM: Make sure you put it to the bottom and the top. Use the solvent-based contact cement; don’t use the latex-based. And then very carefully sort of roll that top back down, get good pressure on it. You know, if you were doing laminate work professionally, you’d have something that looks like a rolling pin.
    HORACE: Yes.
    TOM: It actually rolls it across and really presses it down.
    LESLIE: It smoothes out all those bubbles.
    TOM: If you don’t have one of those, you can use a regular rolling pin.
    HORACE: Yeah.
    TOM: You just put a towel down first and get it real good and flat. But remember, when you put that solvent against that contact cement, it will separate. And so whatever you separate – if you’re a little sloppy, get some on the edge, whatever – you’re going to have to reglue that. But use good-quality contact cement; you can put that back down together and it won’t come up again.
    HORACE: Sure, OK. Very good, then.
    TOM: Alright, Horace. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    You know, are household noises distracting you from trying to get your work done in your home office or maybe the kids’ playroom is the noisiest room in the house and then that sort of filters into every other part of your home? Well, up next, we’re going to share with you some great advice on how you can soundproof some of the noisiest rooms in your home.

    (theme song)
    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.
    TOM: And one solution that you may like to have for your house is how do I quiet down those noisy rooms? And we’ve all got them: whether it’s a playroom, whether it’s the living room, the bedroom, the dining room. Whatever room in your house is bugging you because it’s way too noisy, well, there are some things that you can do about it.
    First, realize this: when a house is built, it’s really not built to be noise-proof because everything is solidly connected together; the drywall is connected solidly to the studs. So there’s really no give and take; there’s no way for the sound to be absorbed.
    But if you want to try to take a room and quiet it down, an easy way to do that is to add a second layer of drywall on top of the original layer. Now, why does that help? Well, it’s a lot heavier and it’s a lot denser and there’s one key component you must use: it’s called Green Glue. It’s an acoustical sealant. It goes in between the two layers of drywall and it creates sort of an isolation between those two boards and helps absorb the sound. So that’s an easy way to take any room and quiet it down.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But now that you’ve sort of quieted that one room by adding this extra layer of drywall with the Green Glue, now you’re dealing with, say, a door that separates your home office from your kids’ playroom and you know, generally, when you do doors on the interior of your home, they are those hollow core doors, which are going to be noisy as all heck.
    TOM: Exactly.
    LESLIE: So, what you want to do is replace that hollow door and go with either a solid wood door or an exterior door; because they’re going to be much heavier, much denser, they’ll help stop that noise. And then what you can also do is one extra layer. You know, imagine noise as like an energy leak, if you will, and then use weatherstripping or gaskets all around the edges in a sweep at the bottom to sort of give you that little extra oomph to stop that sound from coming and going between rooms. And if you add some textured materials – you know, maybe a texture on the wall; a texture on the ceiling; lots of fabric; lots of rough materials because smooth materials bounce that sound back and forth – you’ll really help to quiet down your space.
    TOM: If you want more tips, you can head on over to Green Glue’s website at GreenGlueCompany.com.
    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
    LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina needs some help revamping some concrete steps. How can we help you today?
    MARK: Listen, my house is about 90 years old and I have a three-step rise to my front porch. And the concrete is original, as far as I can tell. And about four years ago, they started to look a little cheesy so I put a skim coat over them. Now that has started to crack off and my wife and I have talked about it and we thought about putting brick pavers on the steps. And I need to know what I need to do to prepare the concrete to take them and what I need to do to put them down, make them stick and make them stay.
    TOM: Well, first of all, if you add brick pavers to the steps you’re going to pick it up by about two inches. Isn’t that going to result in a very uneven step at the top and the bottom?
    MARK: No, actually, what I’m going to do is take out the whole front walk and have it re-poured at the bottom. It will increase the top step just a little bit but I can take off a little bit of the top step to accommodate that.
    TOM: Right. OK. Well, you’re going to probably have to break off some of the concrete that’s at the top surface of the step. Now you said pavers but, realistically, you may want to just use regular brick with mortar to hold them in place, because pavers are put in without any mortar.
    MARK: Oh, OK.
    TOM: And because you’re putting them on a step, you’re probably going to want to use regular brick and you’re going to rough up the step and then you’re going to basically add another layer of brick on top of that with the …
    MARK: I would have to take off a great amount of those steps to actually accommodate the brick.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you’re going to have to score it up, rough it up in order to be able to get you good – to get good adhesion.
    MARK: Yeah.
    TOM: And there may be like an epoxy additive that you can put into the mortar mix that will give you a little more of a sticky solution but you’re probably going to want in regular brick there. And then you’re going to want to, basically, mortar in between the joints.
    MARK: Right.
    TOM: Because I think that’s going to stay together better. If you put in pavers – remember, a paver is exactly twice as long as it is wide; a regular brick is not because it’s a little narrower because it leaves space for the mortar joint, Mark.
    MARK: Right.
    TOM: And so that’s probably what you’re going to want to do.
    MARK: OK. Well, I certainly do appreciate the advice. We’re still looking at what we need to do for the aesthetics of it and that’s – it’s not a necessary project; it’s just aesthetics.
    TOM: Well, brick is certainly very beautiful and I think you’ll enjoy it for a long, long time.
    MARK: Alright, sir. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate the advice.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit.
    Up next, you know they say good fences make good neighbors. Well, that’s only true if your fence actually looks good. (Tom chuckles) When we come back, we’re going to tell you how to make a good-looking fence that you and the neighbors will love.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bondera Tile Mat Set; the fast, easy way to add the style and value of tile to your home. For more information, visit BonderaTileMatSet.com.
    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: Got a do-it-yourself dilemma? A home improvement how-to? Just give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now and if we take your question on the air, you’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure. It is packed full of useful info to help you save money and get your project done right the first time. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, give us a call if you want the protection of a fence but you don’t really like the look of a fence. Well, get this: black fences – they are back and they are a great solution. Now, a black fence – they’re usually made from wrought-iron or aluminum and in fact, black-metal fences offer near-invisible security. They’re less obvious than white metal or even those PVC fences as well as wood fences, which can deteriorate over time.
    Now, you can continue the illusion by adding a row of greens or bushes right in front of the fence and you’ve heard us say that an attractive exterior adds tons of value to your home. So if a fence is what you’re looking for, a black-metal one might be the perfect option because they’re very eye-appealing and with the right landscaping, it can really look charming.
    TOM: And we know it’s mid-winter now but if you’re thinking about putting in a pool when it gets warmer for next summer, black fencing is perfect because it really is somewhat invisible and it really shines the landscape and the water and everything that’s behind it. So remember that little trick-of-the-trade; it makes a big difference.
    888-666-3974. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is not having a strong enough shower and that will just not do. How can we help you?
    MARY: Hi. Thanks for taking my call. Like you said, our problem is that the shower in the master bathroom doesn’t have enough pressure.
    TOM: Mary, has it always been that way or does it seem to have gotten worse?
    MARY: No, it’s always been that way.
    TOM: Here’s what I want you to try to do. I want you to take off the showerhead that you have right now and then turn the water on full-blast. See what kind of water flies out of that pipe. That way you pull the shower head off. If you’ve got good flow then your problem is not the plumbing; then the problem is the shower head.
    That being said, now it’s time to look for a new shower head. I think you ought to take a look at the shower heads that are offered by the major manufacturers. Like Moen has some really good shower heads where you get a really good, comfortable shower without sacrificing a lot of extra water. In fact, they’ve got one called Enliven – E-n-l-i-v-e-n – that we put up in our house. That was about like – I think it was like 25 bucks in Target and it did really, really well. It’s got like a spiral shower sort of pattern to it.
    MARY: OK.
    TOM: And you know, did a good job; didn’t use a lot of water and actually got us super-clean and comfortable. And it wakes you up in the morning.
    LESLIE: And you know what? This whole WaterSense rating that, you know, its main concern is water usage, what they’ve done is there’s sort of a new aeration technology that adds more air to the water as it’s coming out; so even though it’s using less water it feels highly pressurized so you don’t realize that there’s less water coming out. Hence, you’re saving the environment but you’re still getting a good wash.
    MARY: Well, that sounds great. So you don’t think it would be a more major problem like a leak or anything like that?
    TOM: Not at all, not at all. And I think you’re going to prove that to yourself, Mary, when you take the shower head off and turn on the shower and watch how much water comes out of that pipe. I think you’ll be amazed.
    MARY: OK. Well, thank you so much.
    TOM: Alright, Mary. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: John in New York is working on a decking project. How can we help you?
    JOHN: I am currently – I have my deck framed out and I’m ready to put the finished product on top.
    JOHN: I live on Long Island and, weather being a factor, I’d like to know what is the best decking that I should go with. I’m pondering a composite deck, TimberTech; either a treated wood or like a mahogany-type of wood. My wife and I like the natural wood look but we don’t want to go too crazy with the maintenance on it.
    TOM: Well, certainly, if you choose a natural product, you are going to have to maintain it; perhaps not every season but definitely every other season.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But every other season.
    TOM: But coincidentally, Leslie also lives on Long Island and…
    LESLIE: I do.
    TOM: … and you actually put in a new composite deck. You put in the Fiberon product. How’s it working out for you?
    LESLIE: We did, John. My family has a house out on the east end of the island – on the north fork – so it gets a lot of snow and rain and moisture and saltwater in the air and we’re dealing with, you know, a climate that sort of changes seasonally; you know, one extreme to the other. And we had had a pressure-treated lumber decking surface there for 20 years. Every other year it was my job to strip it, sand it down, restain it; you know, do all of that maintenance.
    Well, when time came to spruce it up, we went with a composite and we chose Fiberon. And the reason I went with Fiberon is because we also love the look of mahogany and they had a composite that looks beautifully like mahogany. There’s a wonderful grain built into it so it has that richness and that texture that the natural mahogany would have. And it doesn’t need any maintenance except the occasional just light cleaning to get any sort of moisture buildup or dirt that might be on there from a season’s worth of falling leaves and just walking across it.
    It looks fantastic. We’ve had it one season. It looks exactly the same as it went down. There is never going to be any warping or twisting, so it really is a beautiful product that’s worth the expense because it will save you the chore of taking care of it and all of that work that you would need to do annually or every other year to make sure that that wood deck stays in excellent condition. And it really will last and last, you know, given the climate that we face on the island.
    TOM: Yeah, the website is FiberonDecking.com. That’s Fiberon – F-i-b-e-r-o-n – Decking.com. Check it out.
    JOHN: Decking.com. OK. I appreciate your help very much. You’ve been very informative. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Heading over to Washington to help Vicki deal with a countertop situation. Tell us what’s going on.
    VICKI: I had countertops installed. They’re 12×12 tiles that are 3/8-inch thick. And when they finished them, they put some sealer on that didn’t seem to work at all and now I can’t even get a drop of water on it because it’s so porous. I would like to know what product to use to strip it – if that’s necessary – and what is the best product to seal it. It’s surrounded by wood trim, so I wouldn’t want to damage that.
    LESLIE: Have you tried to deal with the installer and get them to do the whole project again?
    VICKI: Yes, I have but since they already had their money they were not very…
    LESLIE: Less than happy to help you? (Vicki chuckles)
    TOM: Well, OK. So you’re kind of back to doing this yourself. There’s going to be a couple of things you have to do. First of all, insofar as that wood trim is concerned, you’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to preserve that. It might be easier to mask it off or to remove it and replace it after this process.
    VICKI: OK.
    TOM: What you’re going to need to do is to strip off as much of the old sealer as you can – using a stripper designed for that purpose – and then you’re going to want to reseal it. DuPont has a line of products called StoneTech that are professional sealers for stone surfaces. They come in different glosses.
    And you’re going to have to go get the old stuff off first and once you do, you’re going to apply this new sealer and you’re going to need multiple coats in order to get it to the point where it’s not going to be so porous anymore and make it easy for you to maintain it.
    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, avoiding cold tootsies; yes, we’re talking about (Leslie chuckles) warming up the floor in your house. I’m sure we’ve all had those floors in the house that are just really, really cold all the time, especially first thing in the morning like when you head down to the kitchen. Ever wonder what the easy way is to warm that space up? We’re going to tell you, next.

    (theme song)
    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.
    Well, you’ve heard us talk about it before and the latest cost-versus-value report confirms what we’ve been saying for years: that curb appeal is king. It is one of the least expensive home improvements with the hugest payoff. All you need to do is visit MoneyPit.com and click on Home Spaces, then Exteriors. And right now you will find some great ideas that will help you increase your home’s curb appeal, so you can see some big bucks on your sales return.
    TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us your e-mail, just like Jim did from South Carolina.
    LESLIE: Alright, Jim writes: “We have a 40-year-old house with a heating unit in the attic. The unheated basement is not insulated and the floors remain cold during the winter. I want to put insulation in the basement ceiling floor joists and then a suspended ceiling. Should I use unbacked insulation and would you foresee any problem with this type of insulation project?”
    TOM: No, not necessarily. I’m assuming that the basement is unheated but, even if it is, it’s not a problem to do this. What you want to do to warm a chilly floor is to add unfaced insulation, not – any type of faced insulation is a bad thing because it’s going to trap moisture. But unfaced is the way to go.
    And there are insulation wires that get inserted between the floor joists; they’re cut to be just a little bit longer than the floor joists are wide. You can install them there. They’ll hold the insulation up and in place and it’ll make a huge difference, especially on those chilly, chilly mornings when you come down and stand on that floor, to warm it right up.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright. We’ve got one here from Bonnie who writes: “My husband and I work opposite shifts. Is it worth us for us to keep readjusting the thermostat or does the fluctuation use more energy?”
    TOM: Bonnie, we have the technology, (Leslie chuckles) I’m happy to report; it’s called a clock setback thermostat. A lot of people get confused by how to use these but they really are pretty easy. What you want to do is write down your work schedule and figure out those periods of times when either you or your husband are in the house or not in the house and also those periods of time where you’re asleep and then set the clock setback thermostat to do all that movement for you.
    It can do it more evenly, more consistently. It’s going to save you money in the long run. Won’t save you as much if you’re both on the same 9-to-5 schedule but still well worth doing. Just buy the right clock setback thermostat to make that happen; some of the cheap ones may only have a couple of setbacks. You want four or five different setback points or better yet, buy a digital one that will do this all for you. Once you set it, you can literally forget it and you’ll be saving lots of energy in the long run.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if the instructions seem too complicated, I’m sure if you found a 10-year-old, it would probably be easy (Tom laughs) to figure it out for you. It always seems that the youngest kids know how to handle all this technical stuff. I feel like I’m turning into a senior citizen by the day. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    Alright. I hope that helps, Bonnie.
    TOM: Well, they are plentiful, pretty and free. Leslie has got the lowdown on where to find some natural fire starters for your fireplace in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, you can buy those fire starters – they’re expensive; they work great – but you don’t have to buy them. Now, if you’ve got a pine tree in your yard, dried-out pinecones, they make a great, natural fire starter for your fireplace or even your wood stove.
    Now, if you’re feeling really creative, you can also dip them in some wax. All you need to do is melt up some of your old candle stubs that smell really fantastic, in a double-pan boiler; you know, you’ve got boiling water in one and then another pot sitting inside of that one to melt your wax down. Then dip those pinecones in it and you can put those right in the fireplace, because they’re a great way to add some nice, wonderful scent to the space and get your fire going. And really, it’s wonderful to add that extra layer of ambiance and romance, if you will, to your lovely fireplace enjoyment.
    So think creatively. Start your fires without spending a ton of money and enjoy the relaxation.
    TOM: And fires go along very nicely with hardwood floors. You like that segue?
    LESLIE: I do like that.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) So next week on the program, we’re going to have some tips on dealing with those squeaky hardwood floors. If you like to leave the squeaks so you know when your teenagers come home at night, that’s fine; but for those of us that find them annoying, we’re going to have the solutions 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.

    (theme song)
    (Copyright 2009 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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