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Replacement Window Installation Prep, Paint Your Front Door for Eye Catching Color, How to Mow Your Lawn and More

  • Transcript

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now because we are here to help you with your home improvement questions. We want to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to take every possible objection that you might have to getting something done around your house out, throw it out, gone, totally out of there. We’re here to help you get the job done. No excuses, just energy, effort, inspiration, a little bit of perspiration all put together to get some accomplishments done in your house.

    Coming up this hour, speaking of things to do, it might not be your favorite summer chore but mowing the lawn is an important part of making sure it looks good and stays healthy. But believe it or not, there is both a right way and a wrong way to cut your grass. We’re going to get the dos and don’ts from an expert. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, will be by with those tips, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And you’ve heard us recommend window replacements often here at The Money Pit. You know, it’s a way to cut energy costs and it actually can help make your home more efficient. But have you ever wondered what exactly window replacement entails, like how long are you going to have those gaping holes in your home? We’re going to share those answers, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, have you ever noticed that homes that make you say, “Wow,” often have a great pop of color somewhere on the front façade? In just a couple of minutes, we’re going to teach you how you can get that pop of color on your very own front entryway, to deliver a dramatic look that is totally eye-catching and can add value to your home.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators. That’s a good amount of money. You can get quite a bit of flooring with that, because they’re a fantastic source for all of your flooring needs at amazing prices.

    TOM: Yeah, 250 bucks worth of flooring will get you well on your way to a brand new look for any room of your house. So, do you need some flooring or do you just have a home improvement question? Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: A.J. in Iowa is on the line with an electrical issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    A.J.: Well, I bought a house recently. Moved in April 1st. And when we had the inspection done, the inspector said up in the attic, there was some knob-and-tube wiring.

    TOM: Right.

    A.J.: And he said I should probably get it replaced. I did some of my own research and I was a contractor back in – a subcontractor in college, so I kind of want to do all the work myself.

    TOM: OK.

    A.J.: But I’m kind of wondering if that’s something I should really try to tackle, because my research says that some of it says you can keep it if it’s OK or …

    LESLIE: Knob-and-tube?

    A.J.: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I don’t know if I would keep any of it in function.

    TOM: No. I would definitely not keep knob-and-tube. Let me tell you why. Knob-and-tube wiring is ungrounded and ungroundable.

    A.J.: OK.

    TOM: So that’s why it’s not a good thing to have. And do you know why it’s called knob-and-tube and what the purpose is of the knobs and tubes?

    A.J.: Well, I’ve just – looking at the pictures, I see the little ceramic knobs, I guess, that counteracts the live wires around it.

    TOM: Right. But let me explain to you – let me tell you what’s the reason for that. The reason for knob-and-tube – the structural reason for it – where you have these ceramic knobs that hold the wire away from the beam, that’s because the wires have to air-cool. You need to have air around them because they overheat. And the tubes just protect the beams from catching on fire as the knob runs through it. So these are wires that are designed to run hot. In fact, you cannot even put insulation on top of it.

    So, we would recommend that you deactivate all the knob-and-tube wiring and replace it with modern wiring. It’s just not safe at this point. It’s near 100 years old and I just wouldn’t take a chance.

    A.J.: Oh, is that something that I could probably tackle myself then? I mean I don’t have an extensive electrical background but I …

    TOM: Well, I think that you could probably – if you know how to turn the circuits off, you certainly could rip out the old wiring. But rewiring your entire house? No, I think you need a little more experience for that, A.J.

    A.J.: OK. Well, I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us and I’m glad we helped you out.

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

    ANNA: Well, I have a problem with a painted banister. We have a white staircase – white banister – painted and after a while, we’ve been cleaning it and it gets a lot of dirt into the paint and the paint has become sticky. I need to know what to maybe seal it with or some suggestion.

    TOM: Well, at this point, if you’ve gotten kind of a sticky mess on your hands, there is no sealing. You’re going to have to go back to the …

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve worn through the finish.

    TOM: Right. You’re going to have to go back to the raw wood and get as much of that old paint off as possible. So I would use a paint stripper first. There’s a pretty good product called Rock Miracle that we like, that does a good job. Get as much of that paint off as you possibly can, then use a good-quality primer – oil-based is best – and go up from there. There’s nothing at this point – if you’ve got a goopy, sticky, yucky surface – that you should put on top of that. It’s only going to make the matters worse, Anna.

    ANNA: It’s not (audio gap), it’s more just sticky and it gets grime into it. It’s the only thing I can tell you.

    TOM: Yeah. Right. And …

    ANNA: I was hoping I could maybe save it but it’s an awful lot of stripping.

    TOM: Yeah, I understand that. But the problem is that anything you put on top of that is just going to make it worse right now. When the paint gets to be that – in that kind of condition, you’ve got to really start taking off some layers. You may not have to go down to raw wood but you’ve certainly got to get off the upper couple of layers and go from there.

    ANNA: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, was hoping you had a magic but …

    TOM: Sometimes we do but not always. Sometimes, the only magic is the hard elbow grease that has to go into a project.

    ANNA: OK. And what kind of paint would you suggest? An oil-base, I know that.

    TOM: Well, for priming, yeah. Just an oil-based primer. At least you get better adhesion with it.

    LESLIE: And then it’s better to use a glossy finish, because anything with a glossy finish has more layers of that finish in it to achieve that high gloss or a semi-gloss. And then it’s more cleanable or easily wipeable.

    ANNA: OK. Alright. Thanks so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Anna. 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. You know, Father’s Day is right around the corner so give us a call with your Father’s Day home improvement project. Maybe you’re looking for a good gift for the home improver dad in your life. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you are thinking about replacing old, inefficient windows but a bit concerned that the process will turn your home, at least temporarily, into Swiss cheese – you’ll have the birds flying in and out, the rains getting in. Totally freaked out by it? Well, you don’t have to be, because we’re going to give you the tips you need to make sure the process gets done smoothly and successfully. That’s all coming up, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced, 100-percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain, snow and ice. The line offers long-lasting beauty and excellent durability. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question and you could just win a $250 gift certificate from our pals at Lumber Liquidators. Because they sell brand-name flooring for less, because they buy direct from the mill and cut out the middle man.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s certainly convenient because there are over 200 stores nationwide. And they offer financing and even installation available at every single store. And if you’re wondering where you can find one or maybe you want to order a sample pack or even just look at a catalog or shop right now online, check out their website. It’s LumberLiquidators.com. Or give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, we spoke with our friends over at Simonton Windows about window-installation issues. And they tell me that they have heard it all when it comes to questions about replacement windows, including one from a homeowner who was very worried that birds would fly in the home during a window-replacement project.

    Well, rest easy. Window replacement can be a no-stress, home improvement project because windows are replaced one at a time by skilled professionals. Yes, it seems it would be a very bad idea to take all of the windows out of the house at once.

    LESLIE: You would think.

    TOM: Go on lunch while a storm rolls through the neighborhood.

    But there are actually some things that you can do yourself to make sure the project goes smoothly. For example, you might want to remove all of the existing window treatments, like the shades and the blinds, before the installers arrive so that they can get right to work. Also, take down any decorative ornaments, pictures, stuff like that that are near the windows. And on the day of installation, for safety’s sake, keep the kids and the pets away from the areas where the pros are working.

    LESLIE: And you know what? You should actually discuss a couple of things with your window contractor before the project starts, like where the old windows are going to be stored once they’re removed; what happens if inclement weather shows up; what’s their policy on that for window removals; how much cleanup they’re actually going to be responsible for inside and outside of your house. Because it really varies from contractor to contractor.

    If you want some more ideas or some more details on the actual process of window replacement, you can download the free window-replacement guide that we put together with the help of the experts at Simonton Windows. And it’s available right now for free at MoneyPit.com. So it couldn’t hurt; it’s going to help you a lot if you’re thinking about this project.

    TOM: Absolutely. And that is online at MoneyPit.com, right there on the home page. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Janna in Illinois is calling in with a lawn question. What can we do for you today? 

    JANNA: Hi. I want to get rid of zoysia grass. How is the – what is the best way to get rid of it? 

    LESLIE: Why do you want to get rid of it? Because in all of my experience, zoysia is a super-durable, drought-tolerant, excellent choice for a lawn. 

    JANNA: It is if you’re farther south but we’re up kind of north, up by Iowa and Missouri. 

    TOM: OK.

    JANNA: And I only have a green lawn about two, three months out of the year. 

    LESLIE: Interesting. And you’re watering it adequately? 

    JANNA: Oh, we’ve been getting more rain in the last few years. We’ve only lived in our home for a year but we’ve gotten lots and lots of rain. That should not be an issue. 

    TOM: So is the entire lawn zoysia right now? 

    JANNA: No, it’s kind of working its way over and it’s actually made its way into our neighbor’s yard and I’m sure she’s delighted with that, as well. 

    TOM: Alright. Mm-hmm. Well, I’ll tell you the best way when it really starts to take over your lawn. The best way to get rid of it is do something called a Roundup restoration and this is something that you have to do in the fall.

    But essentially what it means is that you’re going to spray that whole area of lawn with Roundup and you’re going to let it die off and you’re going to wait about two weeks and then you’re going to seed it. And what you’re going to find is that the dead grass holds the seed quite nicely and it will start to germinate and come back up through the dead grass. And next spring, you’ll have a green, completely brand-spanking new, beautiful lawn. 

    JANNA: And just one time with the Roundup ought to take care of all that zoysia? 

    TOM: Yep, yep. One time, yeah.

    LESLIE: It should.

    JANNA: OK.

    TOM: You’re going to freak out your neighbors because they’re going to think what happened to your lawn, because it’s all going to turn brown but …

    JANNA: They’re used to it being brown by now.

    TOM: Yeah but I mean if you do that, that’s the one-step way to get rid of everything that’s in your lawn that you don’t want – the weeds and so on – because it just completely kills it off but it doesn’t hurt the seed. And then you put good-quality, fresh seed in there and it starts to grow back up through the dead grass and really takes hold. And it takes about two seasons to really get into a real thick state but you’ll have a green lawn next year; it’ll just be very fine. 

    JANNA: Great. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. 

    TOM: You’re welcome, Janna. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 

    LESLIE: Now I’ve got John in New Jersey on the line who’s looking to build a ramp. How can we help with that project?

    JOHN: Hi. I’m looking to have an elevated deck off my house and the house is built on a slab, so we’re about a foot above grade. And I’m looking for some advice as to how high I should make it and what the best way would be to get up to it.

    TOM: OK. So you definitely need a ramp to get up to this deck that’s going to be about a foot off grade?

    JOHN: Well, I use a wheelchair or a walker and it would be easier than trying to navigate the steps.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Sure. OK. So, you’re about a – do you think the finished height’s going to be about 12 inches off grade?

    JOHN: Well, that’s where the foundation stops: where the door frame is and so forth.

    TOM: OK. So let me tell you why that’s important to know. Because the ramp – I mean the pitch for the ramp is 1:12. What that means is that to drop an inch, you need to go out 12 inches. So if you need to drop 12 inches, that means you need a 12-foot ramp. So it’s important to know that because now you know how long you have to count for the ramp space.

    So, for example, if you were going to build a deck and then have a ramp be sort of to the end of one side of it, you could have a deck that’s maybe, say, 15 feet deep, 3 feet for sort of a landing. You take the ramp; bring it up the side. You go 12 up with the ramp, another 3 feet for the landing and you’re there. So that’s the kind of thing you need to think of when you’re planning this out. You need a 1-inch drop over 12 inches for a safe ramp height.

    JOHN: OK. So the further I had the deck away from the house, the more gradual the incline should be.

    TOM: Higher. The higher (inaudible at 0:15:42).

    LESLIE: The higher.

    TOM: Yeah, the higher it is on the house, the longer the ramp you’ll need.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think, probably, to accommodate this sort of run of the ramp, you might want to put it on the side rather on the front edge. You know, this way it can sort of run that same length or depth of the deck, if you will.

    JOHN: Right. And the deck itself would absorb some of the run then. OK.

    LESLIE: Well, it would end up being – exactly. It would end up being on the side; this way, you don’t have to have something so much larger along the front edge.

    Now, I wonder, Tom, if you’re expanding a deck like that, do you need any sort of special permitting or variances with the town or your neighbors to …?

    TOM: Well, you certainly need permits, no matter what you do. I would not do this without a permit. And the ramp space itself is going to sort of count towards the maximum decking space. There could be some relief, depending on your situation, but I would definitely start with a call to the Building Department to find out what you’re allowed to do, John, before you just build it.

    JOHN: OK. I will give them a call and we’ll go from there. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Richard in Hawaii has got some noisy heating equipment. Tell us what’s going on.

    RICHARD: Wow. Well, it sings to me when I don’t want it to, it wakes me up at night and …

    TOM: Sings to you.

    RICHARD: Yeah, it sings. It makes all these moaning – loud moaning noises. Let me tell you a little background on it. What I did was – it is a solar system and we have two panels on top of the roof. It has the pump and then it has an 80-gallon storage capacity that also heats.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: But for many years, it hasn’t done anything but just work and work nicely. And it still does work nicely; it heats up and everything. But it just started making these moaning sounds and I have replaced the pop-offs – what do you call it – temperature-control valve on that. I checked all my faucets and everything and everything is open/on all the way. And I’ve tried setting the faucets down all through the house, halfway, to see if that would help but it still makes noise on its own.

    LESLIE: Hmm. And this is mostly at night?

    RICHARD: All through the day. It’d be – even when you’re not using the water.

    TOM: Richard, the most common source of water-heater noises is hard water or mineral-salt deposits that collect on the bottom skins of the water heaters or in this case, the storage tank.

    Have you taken the step of flushing out the water heater?

    RICHARD: No, I have not.

    TOM: That’s an easy thing for you to try to see if it reduces this sound. Because the mineral deposits will accumulate on the bottom skin. They’ll also accumulate in the case of electric water heaters and on the actual heating coils. And if you remove that scale, you may find that it quiets down quite quickly.

    RICHARD: OK. Is there some LIME-A-WAY or whatever you would use on something like that?

    TOM: No. All you need to do is flush the water heater itself; use the flush valve. Hook up a hose to it and flush it. Just remember that the water coming out of there is going to be quite hot, so be very careful as you do that.

    RICHARD: Correct. OK. I’ll give that a shot.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still ahead, lawn mowing, it might not be the most fun job of the summer but there’s actually a right way to do it for healthier grass. We’re going to share some expert tips from This Old Houses Roger Cook, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.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: Take Leslie and me wherever you go when you download The Money Pit iPhone app. You can listen to the show at your convenience. The app is free and it’s available online both in the App Store and at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Well, it might not be your favorite household chore but mowing your lawn is an important part of making sure it looks good and stays healthy.

    TOM: That’s right. And believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to cut your grass. Here to help us sort it out is Roger Cook, the landscaping expert on TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. And let’s face it, it’s not the most popular home maintenance project but that said, I’ve actually heard that it’s not good to cut your lawn too frequently or too low. Is that correct?

    ROGER: Too low is the big thing I see.

    TOM: Now why is that?

    ROGER: Well, when you cut the piece of blade of grass, you actually cut the green off and all that’s left is the exposed stem that has no chlorophyll in it.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So that can either die or take a real long time putting out green again and getting grown.

    TOM: Well, that’s a good point. So the upper part of the blade of grass actually shades the stem below it and that’s really critical.

    ROGER: Exactly. And if you – right. And if you below the growing point, then you have a really hard time.

    LESLIE: So what’s the perfect formula? Do you – for frequency, for height? Or is it based on the type of lawn you have?

    TOM: Yeah, because I think that a lot of people tend to want to cut it low thinking they’re going to get out of having to cut it for the next couple of weeks, yeah.

    LESLIE: Stretch out their chore.

    ROGER: Right. But that’s exactly the wrong reason to cut it low. Every type of grass has a height at which it likes to be cut. And then what they found is in the summer, especially, the longer you leave it, the more it shades itself and the more it keeps the roots from drying out.

    LESLIE: So how do you know what type of lawn you have? Take your blade of grass to your garden center and be like, “What is this?”

    ROGER: Yeah, probably, unless you know. If you know it’s a bluegrass mix, then you can just consult either on the internet or your garden center.

    TOM: Now, Roger, if there’s one thing that gives us lawn-mowing envy is staring at that beautiful criss-cross pattern on the Major League baseball field. How do you get that in your own backyard?

    ROGER: Well, when you watch the World Champion Red Sox, you see how beautiful it is on the field? That’s all done with a roller. That gives it all that pattern. Not how they cut it, how they roll it.

    TOM: OK. So it only happens for world-champion lawn.

    ROGER: Right. World Champion Red Sox, right.

    LESLIE: I was going to say, it’s amazing because when I watch the World Champion Yankees, their lawn is equally fantastic.

    ROGER: I don’t think it’s quite as fantastic.

    You know, we see a lot of patterns and things like that in these big fields. But what I like to see is you mow your lawn in different directions. Now, it’s not going to give you something like the pattern you see on a baseball field but you’ll still get a pattern in the lawn. But what I want you to do is mow it different directions every week.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So, you start in a straight line. The next week, go at a 90 to that and then the next week, do a 45. And that’s going to keep you from getting actual ruts you can get from the lawn mower. I have one lawn that, the fourth week, we actually cut in a circle.

    TOM: It’s a lot to keep track off.

    ROGER: But it’s better for the lawn.

    TOM: Now, Roger, are there any new innovations out there in lawn-mower equipment, either walk-behind or ride-on mowers that make this job, say, a bit easier?

    ROGER: Oh, there’s a bunch of things out there: mulching mowers, battery-powered motors. But the biggest thing I think is the introduction of commercial zero radius-turn mowers into the residential market. So that you have a big lawn with a lot of curves or trees with circle beds around them, it makes it real easy to do the lawn quickly, properly and cut all those radiuses.

    TOM: OK. And that’s a good point, because I remember driving the ride-on tractor that my dad had. We’d always have a pretty big swath around the tree.

    LESLIE: That you couldn’t get to.

    TOM: And you almost ended up kind of spinning out the back tires and digging ruts trying to get tighter than it would really want you to be. So the zero-turn makes a big difference.

    ROGER: They’re designed to make that tight turn without ripping up the turf.

    LESLIE: Now, a neighbor of ours, they’re sort of super-environmentally friendly and they’ve got a push mower, like a hand one, I guess: no power, no electricity. Is that better for the lawn or just better for Mother Nature?

    TOM: Or better for you?

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    ROGER: It’s better for the person doing the work, that’s for sure. It’s for all of the above. It’s a great thing if you can get out there with one of those real mowers and do it. And that’s the way we all started years and years ago, before they introduced power. But think about how great it is for the environment and yourself to be out there doing that.

    LESLIE: Any special maintenance to the blade there? Because I imagine they work a little harder, since you are doing all the work on it.

    ROGER: Well, they – sometimes they need a little more touch-up than your average blade, because they are a different type of blade than that thick blade you have on the bottom of your lawn mower. But if you touch it up, you keep it sharp. And that’s a big thing we didn’t talk about yet: how important it is to have a sharp blade on your mower.

    TOM: Now, how often do you have to sharpen your mower blade?

    ROGER: I tell people I sharpen it – on the lawns that we’re doing – every week and they look at me and laugh. And the guys think it’s a joke. They once gave me a blade that had been grounded down to about 6 inches big.

    It depends on what you hit.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Think of it this way. If you slice that lawn with a sharp blade, it actually heals faster. If you cut it with a dull blade, it gets all these little fragments on the end. In the hot time – the hot season – you can actually see the lawn turn brown afterwards and it’ll take it longer to grow out.

    TOM: So cut it, don’t club it.

    ROGER: Exactly, yeah.

    LESLIE: And what about edging and sort of trimming the lawn? I know that really creates a beautiful, crisp lawn that just looks so professional, whether you have a pro do it or you do it yourself. Do you do it first or do you do it after?

    ROGER: I like to do it afterwards because if there’s a little place that was missed with the mower, I can just use my trimmer to clean that up.

    TOM: Now, Roger, one of the worst moments in the lawn-mowing process is when you go to start it and it doesn’t happen; you pull the cord over and over again or you hit the key and nothing clicks. What’s the best way to maintain your mower between clippings so it’s always in good shape?

    ROGER: The most important thing, beyond doing your spring startup – the spark plug, make sure the air filter is clean and it’s ready to go and it runs properly – is the gas. Too often, people leave the gas sitting around and it gets stale and it won’t fire. No matter how many times you pull on that cord or pull the choke or what you do, it won’t fire.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So either get new gas and make sure it’s fresh or put stabilizer in that gas to make sure it will fire in your mower.

    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: It’s been my pleasure.

    TOM: And for more tips just like that, including a great video on the best way to mow a lawn, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.

    Still to come, we’ve got tips on how you can add a pop of color to the front of your house that makes a nice statement, creates drama and adds value to your home.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement questions. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to lend you a hand. And one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is really going to win a very useful prize.

    We’ve got up for grabs a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators. You could get a lot of flooring with that. And Lumber Liquidators, they sell brand-name flooring for less because they’re buying directly from the mill, they’re cutting out that middle man, so you’re really going to see a huge discount of pricing when you go to Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: And you can go there by visiting over 200 stores nationwide. Financing and installation are always available. If you want to find a store near you, order a sample pack, a catalog or shop online, visit LumberLiquidators.com or pick up the phone and call them at 1-800-HARDWOOD. Or if you’ve got a related hardwood-floor question, you can call us; we’ll solve it for you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, studies prove that when a home has curb appeal, home buyers will actually perceive it to be worth more than it actually is, making exterior home improvements one of the least expensive ways to bring up your home’s value instantly.

    And one way to do this is to add a pop of color to your front door. So why not think about a bright, fire-engine red or a royal blue or forest green or even yellow? And all it’s going to cost you is a can of paint.

    TOM: Now, if you want to add some energy-efficiency to the equation, you might want to consider replacing your wood or your steel front door with a fiberglass door. These are four times more energy-efficient than wood and just as easy to paint any color of the rainbow.

    Therma-Tru has a fantastic door that you should check out. It’s called the Smooth-Star Doors. These come ready to paint with either a smooth finish or a textured finish. And then they’ve got very cool, high-definition panel embossments that make the door look fantastic. You can even change the door’s color as often as you change your mind. And the door can also be stained, which is pretty cool.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And these are the doors that we saw at Builders’ Show in January and I remember looking at that finish and you and I were both amazed. We were like, “These had to be sprayed. You did some sort of professional process.” Nope. Rolled it on; it looked amazing.

    TOM: It really did. If you want more information and check out some pictures of doors, think about how your front entry could look with a new door. Take a look at their website at ThermaTru.com – T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u.com.

    LESLIE: Melinda needs some help painting a floor, which is an unusual concept. What can we help you with?

    MELINDA: Hi. I have a white tile floor in my kitchen and I want to paint it.

    LESLIE: Like a ceramic tile?

    MELINDA: Yes. Ceramic tile.

    TOM: Yeah, you can’t do that. What was your second idea, Melinda?

    MELINDA: I don’t know. I don’t have a second idea. I was – I’ve already bought the stuff. I thought, “Well, I’m just going to through (inaudible at 0:30:29).”

    LESLIE: What?

    TOM: You can’t paint a tile floor. Not going to stick.

    LESLIE: You can try. It’s not going to stay.

    MELINDA: It won’t?

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: No. You’ll be miserable.

    MELINDA: Even with a polyurethane over it to seal it all? No.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: No, no. Melinda, put the paintbrush down and step away from the floor, OK?

    MELINDA: Step away, step back. OK. Well …

    TOM: That’s not the way to solve it.

    LESLIE: Hmm. I mean it …

    TOM: Let’s talk about some other options though, OK? Now, what don’t you like about the floor?

    MELINDA: It’s white.


    TOM: It’s white. OK. And how about the grout?

    MELINDA: The grout’s black.

    TOM: Black, OK.

    MELINDA: It’s supposed to be, I’m sure. I bought my money pit with a white tile floor, black grout.

    TOM: Right. OK. And what color were you hoping to make it?

    MELINDA: I was just going to go a tan, a light off-white, you know? Creamy color.

    TOM: Why don’t you think about this? Why don’t you pick up a laminate floor?

    MELINDA: Yeah.

    TOM: A laminate floor is an easy floor to install. It’s not terribly expensive.

    LESLIE: It goes right on top.

    TOM: It could look like stone, it could look like tile, it could look like hardwood, it could look like anything you want. There’s just – there’s thousands of different patterns now.

    MELINDA: Now, I can lay that right on top of there.

    TOM: Yep. No attachment. It works – the weight of the product holds it in place. You may have to do a little bit of trimming against the wall, just with a little bit of quarter round molding or something like that, a little shoe molding. But other than that, it’s a piece of cake to put in and it looks great.

    MELINDA: Well, that sounds like a plan.

    TOM: Alright. Good.

    MELINDA: Thank you so much.

    TOM: Save your paintbrush for another project.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    MELINDA: I will. I’ll find something to do with it.

    TOM: Alright, Melinda. Good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Man, that never would have stayed.

    TOM: She wanted to paint the tile floor and then because it might not stick, put polyurethane on top.

    LESLIE: You know what? Desperate times call for desperate measures. You really can get so sick of something that you’re like, “That is an amazing idea.”

    We worked on a house in Seattle for $100 Makeover where they kept running out of space to store all their clothes.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And their solution was: “I’ll just buy another shelf and attach it in random, open space.” So they just kept adding shelves. And then when they would get tired of colors, they would just paint around the shelving and the other space, so there was this mish-mosh of everything. You get to a point where you’re like, “I’ll just try it.” But don’t try it.

    TOM: You just don’t care. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Take a moment …

    TOM: Well, we gave Melinda a better solution.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I would think so.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, Duck Tape, it is great for many things but not ducks. Apparently, though, it is excellent for making clothes to fit a very fancy occasion. We’ll tell you about that, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, many of you know that I’ve been sewing my whole life and as a seamstress, I’ve certainly done my share of creating curtains, pillow cases, even super-complicated reupholstering projects. But I have never, in my entire sewing life, made clothing from duct tape.

    TOM: How’d you miss that?

    LESLIE: I guess I must have just missed this trend. Although now that I hear that hundreds of high school kids are doing this every single year, I kind of want in. But they get a chance to win some money for college.

    TOM: That’s right. Kids make both a prom gown and a tuxedo entirely out of duct tape for a chance to win thousands of dollars in college scholarships. The Stuck at Prom contest has been going on over a decade and each year, the outfits get more and more complicated and creative.

    To learn all about it, we welcome to the program Robert Cuthbertson from Duck Brand Tape, the sponsor of the Stuck at Prom contest.

    So, Robert, how much have you guys given out in scholarships?

    ROBERT: Well, we’ve given out over $100,000 in scholarships since 2001, so it’s been a great program to support the kids that participate. But we also support the schools that they attend, so it’s kind of a win-win situation for everybody involved.

    TOM: Alright. Let’s talk about some of these outfits. Tell us about this past year’s winners. I know that the contest is going on now; it’ll be over in just a few days now. But tell us about this past year’s winners. What kinds of outfits are you seeing? Tell me about the colors. How many different tapes are they using? What surprised you most?

    ROBERT: Well, this year it was kind of unique that Ray and Yancy from Gilbert, Arizona, they used a very traditional approach but they used white and turquoise, with an elaborate black kind of decorative trim to it. And it was really just a very classic, very nice look. And while theirs was very nice, the entrants just were just very creative with respect to how they used the tape as a medium, what designs they were using, what inspiration they had. It was incredible and it was actually just a lot of fun to be able to review all of them.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing. And what are actually some of the criteria that you look at? Because I imagine when you’re dealing with such a highly-creative opportunity – making clothing out of duct tape – that requires a lot of creativity. So how do you sort of narrow down what the criteria is and judge everybody equally?

    ROBERT: Yeah, well, we kind of look at the workmanship. We look at originality, also the use of color and accessories. And just a little bit of how much duct tape they used. I mean we definitely want them to be predominantly out of duct tape. Occasionally, there – people have used wire and broomsticks and things to kind of help accentuate their outfits, yeah.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Hold things up.

    Now, I’ve got to ask you a question. The average prom dress, how many rolls of duct tape does it take to make a prom dress?

    ROBERT: It varies but it can vary from 50 to 80.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    ROBERT: Yeah.

    TOM: Fifty to eighty rolls. Now, do some of the contestants – they must be emptying the stock of some of the stores where Duck Tape is sold, to find all of the colors they need and the quantity they need. Do you find supply issues sometimes?

    ROBERT: Well, we’ve been anticipating the demand on this so we’ve been working really closely with the retailers to position stock in the correct colors and in the correct stores, to be able to support the sales.

    LESLIE: And this may be a dumb question but obviously, they back it with something. Otherwise, they’re going to get stuck in their dresses, correct?

    ROBERT: Well, there’s a couple ways to do it. You can either stick the duct tape to itself to kind of make a fabric or you can use a paper pattern kind of, as a seamstress, to kind of mold out the design. Or you can actually use an existing garment as a base and build the garment from there.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: Well, it’s an amazing contest and you’ve got to see the photos. Head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a gallery up of all of last year’s winners and we cannot wait to see this year’s winners.

    Robert, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROBERT: Oh, thank you for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. The contest ends in just a few days, so vote for your favorite formal wear online from June 17 through July 11 at StuckAtProm.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com.

    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 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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