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Red Carpet Makeover for Your Home in time for Academy Awards, Garage Heating Tips, New Adhesive from Trusted Brand, Hints for a Happy Laundry Room and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you’ve got a project in mind, before you pick up the hammer, before you pick up the saw, pick up the phone and call us at 888-666-3974.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And it’s Oscar season right now and so not to leave any possible home improvement connection unaccounted for, you might actually be thinking about a glamorous, new look for your house. So we’re going to have some advice this hour on red-carpet makeovers that can bring that Hollywood glitz to your very own money pit.

    And if you’re into more practical makeovers, we’ve also got info on how you can heat your garage to get some more year-round use out of it. Plus, we’ve got the inside scoop on a brand-new adhesive that can really simplify all of your woodworking projects.

    And we’re giving away $500 this hour worth of custom cellular shades from Simple Fit. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Keith in Delaware is on the line with a fireplace-decorating question. Tell us what’s going on.

    KEITH: I have a 2×2-foot chimney system, concrete block with a terracotta flue in it. And it’s in the garage. And on the living room side of the wall is a red-brick fireplace that’s 4 feet wide and floor to ceiling. And the hearth in front of it is also 4 feet wide and sticks into the room about 6 feet. And the end of it is a radius to the (inaudible at 0:02:10), kind of like a popsicle stick.

    And we don’t really – it originally had a wood stove on it, so there’s an 8-inch flue about 2 feet up off the floor. We’d like to change it over to some sort of decorative stone but since some of it’s probably attached to drywall, some of it’s attached to concrete block, do we take it down? Can we attach to it? Will it stay up? And then what do we do with the hearth? Should we try to chip some of the brick off and then put a stone on?

    TOM: So you’re never really going to use this hearth for a fireplace?

    KEITH: Well, it was originally for a wood stove. There was never a fireplace. We’d like to put a wood stove back eventually.

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to put something back, then you don’t want to destroy what’s there.

    KEITH: Is there some sort of product that’s thin enough that it doesn’t make it too big and bulky in appearance once we cover it over with some sort of a stone?

    TOM: Keith, you know, there’s a product on the market that’s pretty new. It’s called AirStone and their website is AirStone.com. And it’s an easy-to-apply stone veneer. You might want to take a look at that, because you could actually attach that to the top of the brick and come up with a totally new look to it.

    KEITH: OK.

    TOM: In fact, they’ve got some photographs of some folks that have done sort of fireplace makeovers on their website, in their blog section at AirStone.com/Blog.

    KEITH: We had thought about painting it but we didn’t really care for the painted approach. I guess we’d have to use muriatic acid and all that to be able to cover it properly. We are committed to changing it, whether it be paint or stone. We’re just trying to refresh the room and give it an updated appearance and the brick is just an older, dingy, reddish color.

    TOM: Right. Now, I don’t want you to ignore the fact that painting this room with an appropriate color shade could change the look of it, as well. Right now, it sounds like the focus is on the fireplace.

    But Leslie, if he was to choose some complementary colors to kind of bring this all together, I think it could make an impact, as well, don’t you think?

    LESLIE: I mean it can but with the brick playing such a predominant role, you’ve got to feel comfortable with it and the colors that will work.

    Now, with a red, your complementary colors to it are going to be sort of in the green/brown tones that will sort of work well in the color wheel. It really depends on what your aesthetics are and what the look of the space is.

    And have you thought about using a slate or a bluestone, some sort of different approach to sort of sheathing it?

    KEITH: We had thought about that. In fact, on the hearth, that would probably be a good choice, because it would be easier to sit a wood stove on.

    LESLIE: Right. Just on the hearth and then leaving the rest brick. And then that way – I’m not sure how close to the wood stove you might be but you could do some interesting floor cushions to give yourself a little seating area around it or some cute benches.

    There’s even, I’ve seen – I’m not sure who makes them but I’ve seen some bronze-legged, little benches that would surround a fireplace hearth, that are upholstered on top and they’re sort of built into the hearth itself to create a surround?

    KEITH: Oh, that’s a neat idea.

    LESLIE: Since it does take up so much space and you could then utilize it.

    KEITH: Alright. Those are some great ideas.

    TOM: Hope that helps you out, Keith. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Margie in Maryland needs some help with a kitchen incident gone awry. What happened?

    MARGIE: What happened is – it’s sort of like a barbecue gone bad inside my house.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGIE: I had some deer meat in a big pot on the stove. It was – it had a cover on it. And it – I stepped out for a while and I came back and there was smoke everywhere in my house. And we opened everything; we opened all the windows and doors and all of that. And what I need is to find out how to get rid of the smoke smell. It is just disgusting; it’s terrible.

    And I – we’ve done what we can. I’m washing – my poor washing machine is going nuts. I just wash, wash, wash everything. And we Febrezed on the furniture and – but my wood furniture, I don’t know what to do about and my walls and my painted woodwork because the day that it happened, I washed up the floor with vinegar and water. But it seems like the longer it goes – that it’s getting harder on the surfaces that it’s touched. And I just need some help to figure out how to clean it up, especially on the wood furniture, the walls and the painted woodwork.

    TOM: Well, on the furniture, on the woodwork, I think something like Murphy’s Oil Soap would be a good choice. That’s a mild solution that smells pleasant and it’s designed specifically to clean wood surfaces.

    However, I suspect that the source of most of the smell is going to be in – because of materials that are harder to clean, like fabrics, rugs, couches, upholstery, the pillows, that sort of thing. And for those, you really need to have a professional company come in and clean them. There are companies like – I think ServiceMaster is one of them that specialize in fire-and-smoke cleaning and water cleanup. And they have the right equipment with the right types of chemicals to take the odors out of those sorts of things. What you can do is clean those hard surfaces on your own.

    As far as the walls are concerned, I would mix up a fairly weak TSP solution – trisodium phosphate. You can pick that up in the painting section of any hardware store or home center and wash the walls down with that. OK?

    MARGIE: Yes. Thank you so very, very much. I really appreciate it.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’ve got options for heating your garage so that you can make it into a year-round room that is perfect for kids, for pets or even a man cave.

    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: And we would love for you to give us a call right now with a home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we want to give you the answer to that question and we want to toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and perhaps award to you, at the end of today’s program, $500 worth of cellular shades from Simple Fit. That’s what we’ve got to give away.

    These shades install in 30 minutes with no tools. They come in 5 fabric styles and 30 different colors. Plus, there are no cords, so they’re very safe to use, especially if you’ve got young children, because you use fingertip control to raise and lower them.

    You can check them out at SimpleFitCustomShades.com. And call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Carol in Arkansas is on the line with a septic-system question. How can we help you today?

    CAROL: OK. I have a septic system and we’ve had a lot of rain here. Oh, probably the last maybe three months or so it’s been a lot of rain. And I’m in the kind of the rice land of Arkansas. It’s very wet ground. OK.

    So, anyway, I was having trouble. When I would flush the commode, it – now, it never ran over, which I’m very grateful for. But the water wasn’t going down, OK? And I mean it would go down eventually but maybe take 20 minutes or more.

    TOM: OK. Does everything else in your house drain normally? Is it only the commode that you’re having a problem with?

    CAROL: Well, the commode and the sink in the bathroom.

    TOM: But do we know that it’s the septic system? There could be an obstruction in the drain and that’s the first thing I’d look at.

    CAROL: OK. I did have some fellows out and – a reputable company – and they did pump out 120 gallons.

    TOM: Well, that’s – but you’re always going to have 120 gallons. The septic tank fills up with water, it overflows into the field. So, pumping out 120 gallons doesn’t really tell me anything. What I want you to do is to have the lines checked, because I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your septic, that you may have an obstruction.

    Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a toilet that was having a slow drain problem. This guy was having a party and was doing this big cleanup for – before all the relatives showed up the next day. And so the toilet backed up and so he figured out that he thought it was a root problem.

    And so he got up early the next morning and dug this huge hole in his ground to get down to this pipe and then snaked it one way, snaked it the other way, couldn’t find any roots in the way. Went back into the bathroom, decided that the obstruction had to be between the hole that he had dug in his ground and the bottom of the toilet. And so he took the toilet tank off of the floor and looked down into it and tried to snake that out and couldn’t find a problem. But in the process of taking the toilet off the floor, he happened to look into the bottom of the toilet and noticed that there was something blue there.

    Now, there’s nothing that’s really supposed to be blue that’s in a toilet. It turns out that his darling son had dropped a toy phone down the toilet and that’s what was slowing the whole thing down. So, this guy had dug up his whole yard, took his toilet apart, all to try to find out what was causing this problem and hurried to get it done before all the relatives showed up. And it turned out to be a toy that was stuck in the toilet itself.

    So, I’d say that guy was a real idiot and that guy was me.

    CAROL: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: I’m like, “I’ve heard this story before.” I’m like, “Why do I think this was you, Tom?”

    TOM: I was completely wrong on why I thought that – I figured I was smarter than the average homeowner and knew that it – thought it was the willow tree that had clogged the pipes. It had nothing to do with that.

    CAROL: Alright.

    TOM: It was just a simple toy that was stuck in the crux of the toilet that I couldn’t see and finally got that off, put the whole thing back together, threw the dirt back in the hole and then headed off to get ready for the party. So you never know why your toilet is clogging.

    CAROL: Well, that’s true.

    TOM: And I wouldn’t always think it’s the most expensive possible thing, which is your septic system. Have the lines checked.

    CAROL: OK.

    TOM: Who knows? And maybe you’ll find something that got stuck in there.

    CAROL: Alright. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, today’s garage is much more than a space for storage or for parking your car. You might be using your garage as a laundry room, a workshop, a playroom or perhaps even a haven for your pets. But while the garage has become an extension of our family living space, cold temps and drafty structures make them very uncomfortable during winter months.

    The solution is to add heat and it’s not that hard to do. There are several different types. You can add a forced-air garage heater. They deliver instant heat much like a conventional furnace. You could also install an infrared garage heater. Now, an infrared heater will radiate the heat out rather than using a conventional blower and fan. And basically, infrared heaters heat you, not the stuff around you. Then finally, you might consider just a portable electric heater and they require very little maintenance.

    But before you use any heater, I would also encourage you to think about adding some insulation to the garage, because here’s why: when builders construct garages, the only wall they insulate is the wall between the garage and the house. The other walls are left uninsulated, because why would they want to spend another nickel on that if it’s not going to add to the bottom line of the house in terms of the money they’re making?

    So make sure you spend that nickel and pick up some insulation to insulate those remaining exterior walls. This will make the heat far more effective and you’ll definitely be able to create a more comfortable space and get that year-round use that you’re shooting for.

    LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    SUSAN: I was calling because I have a large room that was converted from a garage into a living room but it’s got some dark, ugly paneling on it. And what’s the best way to remove it or how do you undo paneling?

    LESLIE: I mean it really depends on how much work you want to do and how that paneling that’s there was attached to the existing structure.

    Now, it was the garage previously?

    SUSAN: Yes. And it was ridiculous. It was paneled and – like it was a really elite garage when we moved in. It was crazy.

    LESLIE: Now, do you know, is the paneling just attached directly to the studs of the wall? Or is it attached by glue to drywall? Have you had any clue what’s behind it?

    SUSAN: I don’t.

    LESLIE: I wonder if there’s a place where you can lift up a piece of trim or remove a switch plate and see what’s sort of going on with that? Because it could be that it was a garage. It could just be that the paneling was put directly onto those studs and then you could pull that off and have a clean slate and just go ahead and put some drywall up. And while you’re at it, add some insulation. Because if it was a garage, there’s a good chance there wasn’t any there before.

    Now, if you do find that it was attached to some drywall, it’s probably glued on and everything behind it’s going to be a mess. So you’ve got two choices there. You can either just make that paneling look attractive by painting it. And you know what? When paneling is painted like a glossy white or a glossy neutral color, it actually doesn’t look so bad. It can kind of be that great, interesting base texture with sort of a modern country feel, if that makes sense.

    But if that’s something that you’re like, “Oh, God, no, I don’t even want to see it,” you can easily go over it with ¼-inch drywall. The only thing is where you’ve got switches or outlets or trimming, those things are going to have to bump out a little bit. So that requires a little bit of carpentry but it’s not the end of the world and it is a do-it-yourself project.

    SUSAN: OK. So it really depends on what it’s over.

    LESLIE: Depends on what it’s over, how it’s attached and how involved you want to get.

    SUSAN: OK. Well, I guess the first thing I will need to do then is take a piece off or figure that out and go from there.

    LESLIE: Don’t sound so down; it’s not a difficult project.

    SUSAN: OK. Well, I appreciate the advice.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David from Michigan on the line who’s dealing with a leaky spigot.

    DAVID: I put these things on. I swept the copper into them on the – inside the house and put the copper – ½-inch copper pipe into them and sweating them on.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And every spring, I have a leaker. The last three springs, really, I replaced four of them but I haven’t told my wife I had to do one last August, too. She thinks – and I get all my ideas and tips from you guys and she thinks I’m a home improvement guru, so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s see if we can help you maintain your reputation there.

    So the spigot itself is leaking. If I understand your problem correctly, when the hose bibb is turned on and the spigot outside is turned off, it leaks, correct?

    DAVID: Correct.

    TOM: So, what you typically need to do is replace the valve stem.

    DAVID: That’s the – it runs all the way down the center of it?

    TOM: Well, what you would do is – there’s a nut that’s underneath the handle of the faucet.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: Of course, turn the water off first, right?

    DAVID: Yep.

    TOM: And if you unscrew that nut, then you can pull the valve stem right out of the hose bibb itself. And then if you take the valve stem apart, you’re going to find it’s got a washer on it; it’s called the “faucet washer.” And if you replace that faucet washer and put it all back together, then that should solve it. It’s really just that washer that leaks.

    Now, I wonder if by virtue of the way you keep soldering on new ones of these, if you’re somehow damaging that washer in the process, maybe overheating the pipe or something like that. Just speculating that might be the cause. But that washer is all it takes to have a leak-free hose bibb.

    DAVID: That’s awesome. That should get me back on the top of the ladder there.

    TOM: Alright.

    You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are you looking for a glue with gorilla strength that delivers less mess? Up next, we’ve got the inside scoop on a brand-new acrylic adhesive that’s just out from Elmer’s and does just that.

    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: And if you’ve got a project that needs glue, you want a product that works, works fast and doesn’t create a bigger mess than the one you started with. Elmer’s is out with a new adhesive that does just that. It’s actually an acrylic product called Elmer’s ProBond Advanced. It’s strong enough to glue pretty much almost anything, with a clean look. Here to tell us more is Emily von Stein, a brand manager for Elmer’s.

    Welcome, Emily.

    EMILY: Hi. How are you?

    TOM: We are well.

    So, one of the most popular types of glue on the market today are these polyurethane adhesives. They’re kind of honey-colored and they’re super-strong but when they dry, they kind of do a rather strange thing, don’t they? They expand out of the joint and they get foamy and it could be a real mess. But it sounds like you’ve kind of addressed that with this newest product.

    EMILY: Yeah, definitely. So, our new product, Elmer’s ProBond Advanced, is the first and only adhesive on the market that will deliver professional-strength bonding and versatility without the foam and mess of a polyurethane glue.

    TOM: Yeah. And so it’s just as strong as the poly glue but it doesn’t expand? It pretty much stays where you put it?

    EMILY: Correct. I know we’ve talked to a ton of people and I’m sure you have a ton of your listeners, as well, who either don’t know it’s going to foam when they get that polyurethane. Or even if you do know it’s going to foam, you get the project, you get it done, you think, “Oh great, I can check it off my to-do list,” and then you go back and you realize, “What has happened to my project?”

    So, we know that they’re great; they’re really strong glues. But we wanted to come to the market with a product that would still deliver that strength but you wouldn’t have to go back and have to re-chisel off all that foam or have to deal with that final product. You can just check it off your list and say, “I’m done with that project. Let’s move on to the next.”

    TOM: Well, I can tell you, I’ve got a pair of work pants that still have the polyurethane glue stuck to them. I understand this product is acrylic, though, so does that mean it’s water cleanup?

    EMILY: Yes, you can. While it’s still wet, you can easily wipe it up with water. It’s also non-toxic, which is a great advantage over the polyurethane in the market, as well.

    TOM: So, let me ask you this. There are so many adhesives out there. How does a consumer sort out the difference between the white glues, the yellow glues, the poly glues and this new product? How do they go about making the right decision when they’re staring at this wide array of products on the store shelf, as to what they really need for their particular project?

    EMILY: You know, that is one of the best questions and I know it’s a question we get all the time here at Elmer’s. We obviously have glues for all different ages and all different projects. And we actually have a very helpful glue guide on Elmers.com, so feel free to have your listeners and you, as well, check it out.

    But what we always say is if it’s a yellow glue, it’s typically a wood glue. They are the strongest glues on wood; they’re the best glues to use on wood. You have your white glues, which are pretty standard. Elmer’s is pretty known for its white glue. It’s a great, multi-purpose glue but really should only be used for interior projects. And then you have your kind of interior/exterior glues, which is where this polyurethane sits, as well as where ProBond Advanced sits.

    And polyurethanes, they still do have a place in the market. If you need the foaming to fill the gaps, that you’re building a landscaping brick and you have two stones that don’t quite match, polyurethane is a great glue for that. But if you’re looking for something that’s easy, that’s quick, you don’t want to have to worry about the foaming, the pieces mate together, ProBond Advanced is a great multipurpose, multi-surface glue that you can use in the meantime.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s always kind of a surprise moment when you use the polyurethane, because we’re so accustomed to putting on just enough glue to fill the seam but not squirt out. So you do that, you think you do a good job and then you come back an hour later and there’s glue squirted all over the place. So it’s really hard to manage that. It’s almost like you have to under-apply it to get it to fill just right.

    EMILY: Yeah.

    TOM: You guys actually have a cool clamp product out called Clamp Tape. Why don’t you talk about that just a bit?

    EMILY: There’s obviously a variety of projects that you have around the house, a variety of different things you need to clamp together. And it always seems like you never have the right clamp for the job.

    TOM: Right.

    EMILY: So our Clamp Tape is great, because it’s a stretchy tape that you can just wipe or wrap around. It adheres to itself; it doesn’t adhere to the project. And it’s great for those awkward or misaligned pieces that you can’t get your standard bar clamp on or if you just don’t even have that bar clamp.

    TOM: Yeah, I like it, because I used to use – I would use a rubber band if it was small and I would use a rope if it was big and kind of make a tourniquet. And Clamp Tape fits right in the middle of those two extremes and is perfect for fixing chair legs and things like that. Because you’re right: you do need the pressure on it and you can’t sit there and hold it for an hour. So it’s a great product.

    And this Elmer’s ProBond Advanced sounds like, as the name applies, a pretty advanced formulation that really is going to earn its place as a core adhesive product moving forward.

    So, is this your first foray into acrylics?

    EMILY: First ever for acrylics, yes.

    TOM: That’s terrific.

    EMILY: And it is a patent-pending formula, so we want to make sure that we get the best out on the market. It’s been something that we’ve been working on for a couple of years here at the Elmer’s factory.

    TOM: Emily von Stein, Brand Manager for Elmer’s Glue. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Still to come, we’ve got tips to deliver Hollywood-style glamour for your home, just in time for the Oscars. The Money Pit continues, after this.

    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: Hey, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller to the show today is going to win a set of Simple Fit cellular shades. These are shades that can be installed in less than a minute, with no tools. And they come in 5 fabrics and 30 different colors.

    The prize package is worth $500. You can check them out at SimpleFitCustomShades.com or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Rich in Kentucky on the line who’s dealing with a condensation issue.

    Rich, how can we help you?

    RICH: Went in the crawlspace last year to run some wire and I got all this water. And it’s on the heating and air ducts. And it’s nice, fresh, clean water dripping on the vapor barrier. When I bought the house, the two vents that are down there are blocked. They might have did that when they put in the radon vapor-barrier system.

    So, basically, I was mopping it up with a towel and putting it in the bucket to get it out of there and I was just – same thing’s going to happen this summer when I run the air condition, I guess.

    TOM: This is a crawlspace that’s unfinished and you have a radon ventilation system in the crawlspace or it’s a basement?

    RICH: The radon’s in the basement but I thought there was a tube going into the …

    TOM: OK. Because it typically – here’s what you’re going to do. With a radon system, the basement, if it’s finishable, it’s going to be sealed and have a ventilation system installed into it. The crawlspace is usually – you never put a radon system in a crawlspace, because a crawlspace is always vented.

    And if the crawlspace is open to the basement, then if anything, you might seal off the space between the crawlspace and the basement to create two separate and distinct areas that have their respective levels of ventilation. Does that make sense?

    RICH: Yeah, I think it’s pretty much blocked off. I guess the radon doesn’t go in there then.

    TOM: So now let’s talk about your moisture problem. Now, what you’re seeing in the ductwork is condensation, because the ducts get cold when you run air conditioning. And you have warm, moist air in the crawlspace area and that condenses on the outside surfaces of the ducts and they drain. Basically, they drip.

    So, what can you do about that? Couple of things. First of all, we can take some steps to reduce the amount of humidity that you have in the crawlspace. So how do we do that? Well, number one, I want you to look at your gutters outside. Make sure that the gutters are clean, free-flowing and discharging away from the house. We want no water collecting anywhere near the first 4 to 6 feet away from that foundation.

    LESLIE: Because that’s just going to find its way right back into your crawlspace.

    TOM: Exactly. Big U-turn.

    RICH: OK.

    TOM: Then, look at the slope of the soil and make sure that the soil slopes away. And make sure the gutters are finally clean. So if all that water from the rain is moving away from the house, that’s good.

    The next thing that you can do is you can make – that those ventilate – that those vents are open in the crawlspace. And then thirdly, you can add a dehumidifier. Take a look at the Santa Fe dehumidifiers. They’re best in the business; they are Energy Star-rated, so they’re not going to cost you an arm and a leg to operate; and they’re going to totally dry out that crawlspace. And then the fourth thing that you can do is insulate the ducts.

    So, drainage on the outside, open up the vents, get a Santa Fe dehumidifier and then insulate the ducts. And that will stop the problem.

    RICH: OK. That’ll work. Thanks for the answer.

    TOM: Well, it’s Oscar time and if the red-carpet looks of Hollywood’s A-listers have you looking for ways to incorporate a bit of glitz and glamour into your very own home, we’ve got a few suggestions for you.

    First off, mirrors that are placed to bounce light around the room can not only add some drama, they can also make the rooms look bigger. Another option is to add cut glass or crystal in the form of light fixtures, candle holders and picture frames. And these can bring extra bling to your space.

    And in terms of color, think about rich, jewel-toned hues like plum and burgundy and even bring in some luxurious fabrics, like faux fur or velvet or silk.

    By taking the cue from the red carpet, your home can definitely feel more glamorous in no time. And it’s pretty simple to accomplish that, whether you want to decorate for the long haul or just for your very own Oscar party.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lavonne in Iowa on the line with a floor-refinishing question. How can we help you today?

    LAVONNE: Yes. I have 1,350 square feet of engineered hardwood floor. It has been refinished twice and you know what? It’s looking pretty tough. And I want to refinish it again and I’ve thought about doing a gel with a lacquer over the top of it but I’m afraid if I sand it any more, I’m going to be into the plywood.

    TOM: It’s very unusual that you’ve been able to refinish it once. Engineered floors have factory-applied finishes and they’re very difficult to refinish, which you may have discovered.

    One thing I can suggest, Lavonne, is this. Is the floor physically damaged or is it really just the finish is kind of worn a little bit?

    LAVONNE: You know what? There is some physical damage because of water issues, like where I had my Christmas tree, right? The ring, where it – because it wasn’t a very thick poly on it, I think.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LAVONNE: And then there’s scratches, of course.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s what you could do. What you could do is you could rent not a sander but a floor buffer. And you get a floor buffer with a sanding screen. So it’s a very fine screen that takes the place of sort of the buffing pads. And it will take off just the upper surface of the floor finish and kind of dull it out and smooth it out. And then on top of that, you can refinish it. So it doesn’t really sand the wood; it really just sands the finish, so to speak.

    LAVONNE: Right.

    TOM: And that might be enough for you to get a new finish to take. But I’ve got to tell you, you should just count your blessings because having refinished this two and now maybe three times, with engineered you’re really far exceeding what it’s designed to do. You’re treating this like it’s a solid hardwood and not an engineered hardwood.

    LAVONNE: I know and you know what? I’ve priced out laying new over the top of it, engineered, because to – the cost to remove what’s already there, the existing, is out of this – out of the – you know, it’s just out of the roof. And to lay over the top of it, is that wise to lay another engineered over the top of it?

    TOM: But that said, I don’t understand why somebody wants to charge you so much to take out what’s there. It’s not attached to the floor underneath. It’s not glued down, is it?

    LAVONNE: You know what? That’s what I don’t know. It’s the unknown.

    TOM: In most cases, you would not glue down engineered floor; it would float. And so if it’s floating, all you would do to remove it is you would set the depth of a circular saw to the thickness of the floor, you’d put a bunch of cuts across the floor in a grid-like pattern, you start prying it up and throwing it away. The only thing that’s hard to get out is where it gets to the edges under the molding. But it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to take up engineered floor, as long as it’s not glued.

    That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer over that.

    LAVONNE: So would you lay something in between? Would you float the floor or would you staple it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s always floated; engineered always floats. And a lot of engineered hardwoods today have a backer on them already, so they’re kind of cushiony.

    LAVONNE: We’re thinking about – we’re going to list the house. It’s a 5,800-square-foot house. It’s huge and it’s just my husband and I rattling around in this thing and so – you want to do something …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to list the house, you’re never going to return on investment by replacing the floor. My advice is to sand the floors with a floor buffer and a sanding screen, put another coat of urethane on it and then put the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, OK?

    LAVONNE: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got James on the line. What can we help you with today?

    JAMES: Spent a little bit more money this time and I used a Western redcedar for my fence. And I was wondering if you recommend I put some kind of stain on that or just let it run its normal color.

    TOM: Well, its normal color is not going to be red; it’s going to be dark gray to black.

    LESLIE: It’s like silvery gray, even.

    TOM: Even though it’s cedar and naturally insect-resistant, it’s not going to keep that cedar color. The color will fade pretty quickly. So if you want to keep the color, you do have to stain it and I would use a solid-color stain on top of that.

    JAMES: OK.

    TOM: Solid-color exterior stain. And make sure you get the edges of the boards. Otherwise, it will rot, especially from the bottom on up.

    JAMES: Alright.

    LESLIE: And with cedar, a lot of manufacturers recommend leaving it unfinished for 6 to 12 months but that’s not true with cedar. Cedar you should finish right away; this way, it stays really nice.

    JAMES: OK. Should I get a product with a seal in it or a sealer in it or just the color?

    TOM: Exterior stains have sealers built into them, James.

    JAMES: OK.

    TOM: So, that’s going to protect it. Just an exterior siding stain.

    JAMES: Great. Well, I appreciate it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, the secret to a happy laundry room is good bones. We’re going to tell you how to keep your washer and dryer humming along, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: Standing by for your call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chris on the line who needs some help cleaning a laminate floor. Tell us what’s going on there.

    CHRIS: Yes, good evening. I have a laminate floor throughout most of my house and I’ve heard yay and nay on whether or not you can use a steam mop. And the other half of the question, I’m going to redo a kitchen and I’ve heard that there’s a new kind of laminate out that you can use with a possible water application. I don’t know if it’s got gaskets on the connectors or if you put glue in there or what. I’d like some information on that.

    TOM: Well, laminate floors are good for damp locations. You know, I wouldn’t necessarily put it in the shower but it’s good for a damp location. And the better floors with the longer warranties are the most appropriate choices.

    I know, for example, with Armstrong floor, when it comes to installing it in a damp location, they recommend that you glue the boards together. Even though they are click-together boards, they recommend that you glue them.

    LESLIE: Just giving it that extra grip.

    TOM: Right, together. So I don’t see any issues …

    CHRIS: OK. Well, this is in the kitchen.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see any – well, I don’t see any issues with that. As far as the steam mop, yeah, I think a steam mop is fine but just don’t – try to limit the water and the heat. As long as you keep moving, I think it’ll do a great job on the laminates.

    CHRIS: OK. Alright. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, happy laundry rooms start with good bones: basic, functional systems that work the way they should and prevent disasters. If you’d like to give your bones a checkup to make sure they are good to go, Leslie has got that checklist, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. When it comes to your laundry room, you want to make sure that you start with the basics: your water-supply hoses.

    Now, typical, rubber-based, water-supply lines have a tendency to swell and then what happens? They burst. So we recommend replacing those hoses with braided-steel ones. And you also want to make sure that you install an automatic shut-off valve. Even if you don’t go automatic, make sure you have a shut-off valve. This way, when you’re not using the washing machine, you turn off that water supply. Then in the event something does happen, you’re not going to end up with a ton of water.

    But these automatic shut-off valves, they’ll detect an out-of-the-ordinary water flow before it turns into an all-out flood. And while you’re at it, get familiar with the location of all of your water valves in your home. You’ll want to know where they are in the event of a problem. Then you want to make sure that once you know where they are, that they’re all accessible and they’re functional. And if you’ve got separate water valves for hot and cold water, take the opportunity to upgrade to that single-lever, turn-off valve, which is going to turn off both that hot and cold water supply at the same exact time.

    Finally, when it comes to your dryer, make sure you clean out your dryer vent – I’m not talking about the lint catcher within the dryer; I’m talking about the whole vent that goes from the back of the dryer to the outside of your house – once every six months. Because lint that collects in that dryer exhaust duct is responsible for multiple deaths and nearly 15,000 dryer fires annually.

    It’s not a difficult chore. Tom and I both have that Gardus LintEater, I think is the name of it.

    TOM: Yeah, the dryer-duct brush works very well.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. It attaches to your normal power-driver. You go from the outside of your house, you sort of – you snake it through your dryer vent and it pulls out more lint than you’ve ever seen in your life. And if you do it regularly, you’ll see less and less. But if you have a year or two since the last time you’ve done it, you’ll see so much lint, it’s amazing. I always know when I see tumble-lint in my driveway it’s time to do it, which means I’m not doing it as often as I should.

    But it’s a fun chore and really, you and your neighbors can invest in one and share the chore and they’re not expensive. Just make sure you do this maintenance because the laundry room, if you’re like us, you use it practically every day, so take good care of it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com, where we’re also standing by, 24-7, for your home improvement question. If you couldn’t get into today’s show, please pick up the phone and call us any time of the day or night. If we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.

    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 2013 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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