Spring Gardening Basics, How to Lay a Stepping Stone Path, and Outdoor Living Trends for 2015
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: What are you working on today? We’d like to help. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a busy show planned for you. Lots of great tips and advice.
First up, can’t wait for all those spring flowers to bloom? Well, we’ll help with tips on how to get a color-filled garden going immediately, no matter where you live.
LESLIE: And speaking of gardens, stepping-stone pathways make gardens easier to get to and can save your grass from all that foot traffic. But laying a stone path, it’s not as easy as it looks. So, we’ve got landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House stopping by to help you do it.
TOM: And wondering what’s hot in pools, yards and patios? We’re going to tell you about the outdoor-living trends that are popping up everywhere in 2015. And new this year is a focus on health for the environment and the homeowner.
LESLIE: And one caller this hour wins a Brillo Prize Pack. You can get rid of all of those mops and brooms, once and for all, because the Brillo Sweep & Mop Prize Pack comes with all of that cleaning power packed into one fantastic tool.
TOM: It’s a prize pack worth $50. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you have a home improvement question, we want to hear from you right now.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk with Dot in Wisconsin who’s got a decking question. How can we help you with your project?
DOT: Yes. My deck is located on the south side of my house and every year, we’ve been putting a paint on it. And it’s where we get a lot of sun. And I’m wondering if there’s a special kind of paint I should use, because it peels a lot.
TOM: So, there are special paints for decks. And if you’re continuing to put more coats of paint on the old deck, my concern is that you’re never going to get good adhesion. You may have too many coats of paint on that now.
Are you using paint or stain, Dot?
DOT: I believe it’s a paint.
TOM: I’m afraid, at this point, what you really need to do is to remove that paint so you can get down to the original wood. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s going to continue to peel. And once you get down to that wood, then you should prime it and then paint it.
But if you’re able to get most of the paint off – and perhaps you can because, apparently, it’s not sticking well, where you really don’t have too much left – then I would recommend not using paint on it. I would use solid-color stain. It’s still going to give you a continuous color but it’s going to absorb better into the wood and it’ll kind of fade rather than peel. And I think that’s what you’re shooting for.
DOT: OK. Is there a certain type of product to remove the stuff that’s on there now?
TOM: Yeah, there’s a wide variety of paint strippers out there. I would look for one of the citrus-based products and try that. You’re going to – you may have to try a couple of them until you find the one that works best with your particular deck.
DOT: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Iowa is on the line with a flood that just sounds like a disaster.
What happened, Bob?
BOB: A contractor upstairs. And he was remodeling our upstairs bathroom. We completely gutted it and started over. And they had put a subwall in for the walk-in shower and they figured out that they had to move it ¾-inch. They pulled all the screws out and moved it over. A couple hours later, they went to go downstairs to go to lunch and the downstairs bathroom was flooded clear out into the hall. Hardwood is in the hallway.
TOM: Oh, no.
BOB: So he panicked and ran down to the basement to shut the water off and there was water all over the floor down there. So …
TOM: Yeah, gravity being what it is, that happens.
BOB: Yeah. And they just remodeled the man cave the winter before. And so they quickly fixed that before the boss came around. And now it kind of took them a long time to get around to get back to me for the downstairs bathroom. I finally had to put the pressure on them to say, “When are you going to do this one?”
TOM: Yeah. But if they damaged that bathroom, you just moved to the top of the priority pile, as far as I’m concerned.
BOB: Well, I kind of thought so, too, but – and you almost have to schedule a year-and-a-half to two years ahead to get in.
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
BOB: And I’ve used him for years. He’s fabulous, he’s meticulous. You know, I couldn’t – don’t think you could find a better carpenter.
TOM: OK. So where are we at now and how can we help?
BOB: Well, he finally got around and he came over and he gave me a quote. And I was kind of thinking it seemed awful high.
TOM: So, wait a minute. You’re remodeling this downstairs bathroom because of the leak damage caused by the upstairs bathroom?
TOM: So, why is he giving you a quote as opposed to just fixing the damage that his guys caused?
BOB: Well, he wanted to just come in and cut the old tape out and spackle over some of the bad spots and repaint it. And I said, “No. I don’t know if there’s mold behind it or whether the insulation has been ruined or anything.” I said, “That’s all going to be taken off and replaced.”
TOM: OK, look, the problem is that you’re mixing two things here, OK? He’s not responsible for – if the guy caused the leak upstairs, which it sounds like he did, he’s not responsible for more than just the damage that it caused. If you, on the other hand, want a completely remodeled bathroom, now you’ve got sort of two things going on here.
On one hand, what he owes you is just a ceiling repair. On the other hand, what you want is a complete bathroom remodel, which is an upgrade. So, you’re mixing the two, which is making this a very complicated sort of business arrangement.
If you were to keep it really clean and just say, “I want just the leak damage fixed,” then that’s a pretty simple discussion. But if you want the leak damage fixed and “oh, by the way, while you’re at it, I want my bathroom completely remodeled,” then yeah, he’s going to charge you for that.
So, I don’t know what to tell you, Bob. You’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot. You’ve got to decide what you want out of the guy.
BOB: Oh, I’m paying for the materials for this shower and the tile and everything and paying the – those contractors to do the job. All he’s doing is ripping the drywall out and putting it back.
TOM: Well, if it’s just the drywall part of it, then maybe he’ll give you some consideration on that. But you understand what I’m saying. You’re taking one project and you’re making it much bigger, so there’s going to be a cost at some point.
BOB: Well, he’s not doing any of that work, though. I am. I’m paying for that with the other contractor.
TOM: Well, are you having him take out more drywall than he would normally have had to take out?
BOB: The whole bathroom had to go because there’s cracks in every square inch of all the walls and everywhere there was a screw, there’s a big popped-out mark.
TOM: Well, look, if you make it really super-clear that your line of demarcation is drywall damage, that he has to be responsible for removing and replacing all of the drywall and any insulation that was damaged behind that and that you’re doing everything else, then I think it’s fair to take that position.
Bob, 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. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
So as you are getting ready to enjoy the spring season and get your house looking in tip-top shape, I’m sure you’re coming across some things that you’re like, “How do I do this? How do I get that clean?” Well, we can help. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you ready to see some signs of spring? Well, so are we. We’ll have tips to help you jump-start your garden and get those flowers blooming fast, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Vigoro. The Vigoro brand offers quality products for your lawn and garden at the ultimate value. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Visit your local store today.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Could your house use a little sprucing up? Well, then you’ll love this hour’s giveaway. It can help you with your spring cleaning. It’s a pack of Brillo products worth 50 bucks.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s full of supplies that’ll do the job right, including the new Brillo Sweep & Mop.
Now, it’s got a 3-in-1 technology that’s completely going to change the way you clean your floors.
TOM: Learn more at Brillo.com and give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Washington State where Sabrina is dealing with some grout that’s cracking up. And it’s not laughing; it’s falling apart. Tell us what’s going on.
SABRINA: So I had some grout installed quite some time ago. And they’re about 18-inch tile pieces. And what I’m noticing now is there are several places – it’s kind of happening all over – where the grout is actually cracking. And I’m not sure what to do.
TOM: So, is it a fine crack or is it a big crack?
SABRINA: The grout is cracking and now some of the tile pieces are cracking.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a problem. It sounds to me like the tile was not put down on a base that was solid enough. When you use a big tile like that, you need to have a really strong base. So you have to have a mud base or you have to have a tile base. And you may even have to have an expansion material underneath that so that you don’t get this kind of cracking. If you don’t get good support across an 18-inch tile and you get a little bit of movement in the floor, it cracks very quickly.
So, I think this – at this point, it’s going to be something you’re going to have to manage. And if it gets really bad, you’re going to end up taking those tiles out and replacing them. It’s very hard to recover from this when the tile job was potentially not done right to begin with.
SABRINA: Yeah. And I was wondering if it has anything to do with – I’ve heard a couple of people tell me that the underlayment – and maybe you said that – the underlayment wasn’t secured down properly or whatnot.
TOM: It wasn’t strong enough, right. It wasn’t strong enough. You see, if there’s more – if there’s flex in the floor, the tile is not going to bend, it’s going to crack. And so that’s why the tile – what’s under that tile has to be really solid. With a – bigger the tile, the wider the tile, the less forgiving it is. If you put mosaic down, it can move all day long and you’re never going to see those cracks. But when you put a big, 18-inch square tile down, it’s got nowhere to go.
SABRINA: It’s got nowhere to go.
SABRINA: And what is your recommendation for my – for correcting it?
TOM: Unfortunately, there’s no easy recommendation. If the tile project was done wrong to begin with, there’s nothing I can tell you to do that’s going to fix it at this point in time. It’s really going to be something that you’re going to have to tolerate and eventually, you’re going to end up replacing them. And this time, you’re going to do the proper job with putting the floor down.
How long have these tiles been down?
SABRINA: About five years.
TOM: I was going to say, whoever put them down didn’t really do the job right. You’re going to end up having to tear it out and do it again.
SABRINA: That’s OK. Well, thank you guys. I just wanted to talk to some professionals. And I heard your show and I really appreciate you guys giving me the advice.
TOM: You got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina is on the line and needs some help defining different types of insulation. Tell us what’s going on.
MARK: I put some Icynene in my house and then I heard someone say that closed-cell was better. And then I’ve heard that open-cell was better. Can you explain to me the advantages and disadvantages of, for my home now, choosing either closed-cell or open-cell insulation?
TOM: What type of Icynene did you put in? Is it open-cell insulation?
MARK: Yes, it was open-cell.
TOM: You know, there’s a lot of debate as to which one is better and I think that both have good qualities. Open-cell has a good insulating value. It’s more susceptible to moisture than closed-cell but it still gives you the benefit of being not only an insulator but an air barrier. So it protects you against drafts that are going to try to get into the house. The other advantage of open-cell is it has better sound-absorption qualities. So it’s a little bit of a quieter house and it tends to be more economical to apply.
So I don’t think you made a bad choice and Icynene is a good product.
MARK: OK. What would be a reason I would choose closed-cell?
TOM: That’s a good question. I would say that if you were in a very high-moisture area, like seaside, then you may want to consider closed-cell.
MARK: Alright. Well, you guys have a great show and thank you for your time and your help.
TOM: Well, it’s spring and time to plant the seeds that will become the beautiful blooms of summer. But if you’re eager to get things going instantly, there is a solution. We’ve got advice on spring planting in this week’s Lawn-and-Garden Tip, presented by Vigoro.
LESLIE: Nothing says spring like colorful, flowering plants right in your very own yard. Well, if you can’t want for seeds to sprout, you can actually plant live blooms for an instant pop of color.
Now, the key is selecting the right type of flowers for your region. And this is actually a pretty specific science. Now, the country’s divided into 11 different plant-hardiness zones. And you can find out what your zone is and then choose plants that are compatible with your zone. You can find your zone on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness-Zone Map and that’s really going to help.
TOM: Now, preparing your soil for flowers is also very important. You must have healthy soil and the correct pH level for the types of flowers you’re planting. Test your soil with a kit and then add organic matter, if necessary. You can also add peat moss, sawdust, sand, manure, ground bark or a homemade compost.
LESLIE: And make sure to water as directed to keep your soil moist and your flowers healthy.
And that’s your Lawn-and-Garden Tip, presented by Vigoro. Vigoro brand has a wide and beautiful selection of annuals, perennials and shrubs. And new for 2015, Vigoro is introducing fruit trees and fruit bushes. Fruits, plants and shrub type are going to vary by region.
TOM: Visit your local Home Depot, the only place to get Vigoro products, for a great selection of Vigoro live goods. And check them out online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Tony in North Carolina is on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you today?
TONY: My wife and I are in the process of – I guess we’re trying to gather as much information as we can. About to build another home in the next few months and we very much are interested in some of the ENERGY STAR features that we are – have been seeing.
Just wondering, is it feasible for us – there’s only four of us in the home – to install the tankless water heater or would we be wasting money there?
TOM: A tankless water heater is an excellent option for a family of four or even more. You buy the tankless water heater based on the number of bathrooms in the house. And the advantage is that you’re only using it to heat the water as you need it. A tank water heater keeps all of that water hot, 24-7, whether you’re using it or not. A tankless water heater fires on demand and heats water as it passes across its heat exchanger, essentially. So I do think that a tankless water heater is a good technology for you to consider.
And how perfect that you’re building a home now and can plan it. One of the most common complaints we get – that you might want to consider, Tony – is people complain that it takes too long for their water to get hot in the morning. So, the reason that happens is because the water heater is very far away from the bathroom. That is a condition that would continue even with a tankless but the advantage is that since the tankless water heaters are very small and can also be direct-vented through the exterior siding, that you could actually have the water heater more centrally located to the bathrooms. So that when you do turn the water on in the morning, you’re not waiting very long for that water to actually get there.
TONY: OK. I thank you so much for it.
LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.
JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.
LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?
JO: No. Everything else is padded.
LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.
JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And bare wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.
TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?
JO: Clear finish.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.
JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.
TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …
TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.
JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”
TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.
LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – “clear coats,” as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super-shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.
Well, they’re easy on the eyes but not always quite so easy to install. We’ve got tips on laying a stepping-stone path in your yard or garden, wherever you choose, when The Money Pit continues.
JOHN: Hi, this is John Ratzenberger. Played the bar know-it-all on Cheers and I’m behind the Made in the U.S.A. movement. You know what was probably made right here? Tom, Leslie and The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. That’s right. And I tell the truth.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, the birds are tweeting this spring and you should be, too. Head to Twitter and mention @MoneyPit. We’ll keep an eye out for your home improvement question and Twitter will let you know when we answer it.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Delaware where Margie has a crawlspace question. What can we help you with?
MARGIE: I’d like to know if you should put plastic on the ground underneath your house. We have a 3-foot – you can climb under there. Should we lay plastic on that for a barrier – for a moisture barrier? Underneath a ranch house.
LESLIE: What’s the – is it underneath the entire house or is it just under a certain area?
MARGIE: No, it’s underneath the entire house. You can crawl under and someone said you should put plastic on top of the dirt.
LESLIE: Now, are you having any moisture issues inside the house?
MARGIE: Not really. We were just thinking it would be a good idea to do that.
LESLIE: Now, generally, with an enclosed crawlspace or one that’s smaller scale to an entire home, we would always recommend putting down sort of a plastic sheathing. And you want to fill the entire space. And in areas where you do have to have seams, you want to make sure that you overlap a good foot or two so that it really lays down nicely.
Now, Tom, would you do that if it’s under the entire house?
TOM: Yeah, I’d put it down across the crawlspace floor, along the entire house, because it stops the moisture in the soil from wicking up and evaporating up into the air and then getting the insulation damp and making it ineffective. So, it’s always a good idea to have – it’s called a “vapor barrier” and have that down on top of that soil surface.
You also want to check the exterior, though, to make sure that your gutters are clean, the downspouts are extended. It’s part of a moisture-management solution.
LESLIE: You want to make sure you’re limiting the amount of moisture that actually gets to that – the dirt or the soil underneath the crawlspace. So if you make sure that your gutters are extending away from the house a good 3 feet or so and not depositing the water back towards that crawlspace – any sort of plant-embedded areas, you want to make sure that that soil slopes away. You just want to do your best that you can to move the moisture away.
MARGIE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, one of our favorite events is almost here. It’s the annual National Hardware Show in Vegas.
Now, it’s not just about nuts and bolts and it’s not open to the public. But that’s exactly why Leslie and I are going to be your eyes and ears. We’ll bring you the hottest, new products from our Top Products Pavilion right on the hardware-show floor, products like Krylon’s new SUPERMAXX with no sanding or priming required. Krylon’s SUPERMAXX is everything you expect from a premium paint and more. Make it yours with Krylon, a brand of spray paints that will help you transform the ordinary to extraordinary.
LESLIE: Now, I know you’re feeling sad but don’t worry, because we want you to see all of these great finds for yourself. So just follow along on Twitter for photos and more. You can head to Twitter.com where you can search the hashtag #TopProductsNHS.
TOM: And check it out online in our Top Products Gallery at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Chuck in Rhode Island needs some help cleaning something. What’s going on at your money pit?
CHUCK: How would you suggest I go about removing blood stains from carpeting?
LESLIE: Well, I’m assuming since you’re calling in, it’s nothing that we want to hide or cover up, correct?
CHUCK: No, no. Oh, no, no. No, no, no, no.
TOM: Alright. Have they been down there a long time?
CHUCK: Yeah, about six months.
TOM: Alright. So, there’s a couple of different things that you can try. One of which is to make a paste out of salt. And so you take a bowl of cold water and you put enough salt in to make a bit of a paste. And then you apply that to the carpet, let it sit a bit. Brush it in with a small brush, like a small hairbrush or a toothbrush, and see if it starts to lift the stains away. You can dab it with water to kind of thin out the salt.
Then after it dries, you can vacuum it and that’ll pull all the rest of the salt off of it.
CHUCK: Uh-huh. OK.
TOM: So that’s one way to do it. The other way to do it is to try to make a mixture of hydrogen peroxide up and water. This hydrogen peroxide will also clean up blood. I always say to try this, though, in an area that’s inconspicuous because it also has somewhat of a bleaching effect. We don’t want to have you bleach out the carpet.
So you can try it in a corner, under furniture, in a closet, wherever you have a less visible area.
CHUCK: What ratio of the peroxide to water?
TOM: Well, no, actually, you can just put the peroxide on without water. Just put like 3-percent hydrogen peroxide.
CHUCK: OK. I’ll try those items and see what happens.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, a stepping-stone path can be a beautiful addition to a yard or garden. Even better, it can help limit foot-traffic damage to your lawn. But while it may seem like you can just plop down a few stones and call it “done,” it’s really not that easy.
TOM: Absolutely. In fact, this project requires just as much care and work as a paver patio. Here to talk to us about laying a stepping-stone path the right way is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.
ROGER: Time to get down with some stones, huh?
TOM: Yeah, let’s do that. And I think people think it’s really a simple project. Because let’s face it: you’re just throwing down a rock and walking on it. But if you want it to look good for the long haul, you really have to do it the right way. Where do we begin?
ROGER: Well, it begins with probably buying some of the stones that you want to put down. Because we’re going to put up a string line first to get our grade, then we’re going to set those stones down and make them look comfortable and curvy and completely natural.
And once you get them above ground, set in the right spot, we’re going to take an edger. We’re going to cut around the stones, tracing it and then pop the stone out of the way and dig out 2½, 3 inches deep. We’re going to take and mix up some stone dust with water and set it in there and then put the stone back on top and hit it down in. And that wet mixture of stone dust will hold that stone in place so it doesn’t wiggle.
TOM: Now, that’s really interesting, because it’s almost like you’re making a foundation for each individual stepping stone.
ROGER: It is. If it’s in grass, you’re going to leave a nice ribbon of grass that’ll show up in between the stepping stones. If it’s not in grass, you can take that out and you could do something called “stepables,” which is a type of plant that can grow over the edge and you’d step on them. Lemon thyme is one of the great ones.
LESLIE: There’s some really cute ones in the stepable section.
ROGER: Yeah, yeah. It’s a lot of good stuff that will fill in …
LESLIE: See, I spend a lot of time in the gardening section; I just don’t actually do any of it because I kill everything.
ROGER: You’ve got to learn to go for it here, you know?
TOM: You’ve just got to do it. You’ve just got to do it.
LESLIE: Geez Louise.
ROGER: The best thing is to get stones that are thick – 2 to 2½-inches thick – so they’ll stand up over time. Some people use that real thin slate. It’s about ½-inch thick and it’ll spall; it’ll actually blow apart over time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
ROGER: If you’re going to do the walkway, invest some time. Get good material and it’ll stand up for a long time.
TOM: And is the best thing to put, in and around that walkway, the stepables? Because if you put grass there, you’re kind of fighting a losing battle. Aren’t you always going to be killing it?
ROGER: It’s going to be hard to cut and trim. I don’t like to have grass in the joints but sometimes, if we’re winding through a lawn area to get to another area, I will leave the grass in place.
ROGER: I generally prefer to do the stepables or some sort of groundcover in there.
LESLIE: Now, in addition to the thickness of the stone that you select, is there one choice that’s better than the other, as far as – I imagine things could get slippery.
ROGER: Yeah. You want a surface that’s not real smooth. You want something that has a little grit to it. I mean some pieces of granite, you can buy a thermaled (ph) on the top so that they are permanently etched so that it won’t be slippery.
ROGER: But then when you pick the stones, there’s bluestone and things like that. They have a natural cleft on them that are not slippery, either.
TOM: Now, what about flagstone? Is that the same as bluestone?
ROGER: Flagstone is in the bluestone family, yeah. It’s a step above slate and a step below bluestone but it’ll work well.
TOM: It kind of looks like it’s layering, like layers.
ROGER: Right, right. But it’s …
TOM: And then I’ve seen that sort of separate apart sometimes.
ROGER: It will. And it’s all part of the freeze/thaw cycle. It absorbs water, it gets in there and then generally, over time – Mother Nature has no rush; she’ll break it a little bit every year.
I just find the natural stone native to the area and usually you’ll do pretty well.
TOM: Well, if you can get Roger Cook, hire Roger Cook. For the rest of us, at least now we know how to do it ourselves.
I’m sure it won’t come out nearly as well as if you did it, Roger, but we’ll do our best.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice on how to set up a stepping-stone path.
ROGER: I’m sure you’ll do great.
TOM: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.
Up next, the weather is not the only thing that’s heating up. Hot outdoor trends to look for this spring and summer when The Money Pit continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: When you’re ready to search for a home, start at Realtor.com. Realtor.com is the most accurate home search site. And be sure to work with a realtor to help you through the process. Realtor.com and realtors. Together, we make home happen.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And the weather is warming up. So if you haven’t already, you probably want to finish up your spring cleaning so you can get to do the things you really want to do right now.
LESLIE: And you know what? The new Brillo Sweep & Mop can help. Its 3-in-1 technology means no more separate broom and separate mop and no more getting down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor. We are giving one away this week in our Brillo Prize Pack, which also comes with three Sweep & Mop refills.
TOM: It’s a prize pack worth $50 and it can be yours if we answer your question on the air. You can learn more at Brillo.com. But give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Darlene in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DARLENE: Well, we heat our house with wood and our fireplace bricks are real cream – light-cream colored and they’re very roughly textured. My question is the soot – above the fireplace doors, soot gets in the brick and embedded in there. And I’ve tried to scrub it out with everything I can think of, other than muriatic acid. And I know I can’t use that in the house. Do you have any suggestions?
LESLIE: Have you tried TSP, which stands for trisodium phosphate? And it’s sort of like a cleaning prep step when you’ve got some really sticky stuff that won’t come off.
DARLENE: I think I did some time back but maybe I should use a stronger solution instead of – it says not to use it the way it comes out of the bottle.
LESLIE: Well, what you can do with TSP is it comes in a powder format and it’s available in the clean – well, in the painting aisle, generally, of the home stores. And I would just mix it up so that it’s more of a paste than a liquid and apply it that way. And let it sit there and give it some time to do its job.
DARLENE: Alright. That sounds great.
LESLIE: You know, some things about summer never change: warm sun, cool water and hopefully as little work as possible. But you can always expect a few new outdoor-living trends each year and this year is no exception.
TOM: That’s right. Spending time outside isn’t just about fun and games this year. It’s about raising the bar on health and happiness.
Now, according to Garden Media Group’s annual trend report, more and more consumers want outdoor-living products that are good for their well-being, their community and the environment.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So when you’re walking around your neighborhood, you can expect to see unconventional gardens, pools that incorporate nature and bigger and better kids’ playsets made of sustainable or even salvaged materials.
TOM: And you can also expect to see more people. With decks, patios and porches hitting a fever pitch, even traditionally indoor activities, like surfing the web or watching TV, are more likely to happen outside or at least out in the fresh air.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David in New Mexico who has bubbles in the toilet? What? What’s going on?
DAVID: The only time that – when you flush it, you get a bubble in it that comes up.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Starving for air.
DAVID: That’s what it’s doing, OK.
TOM: For whatever reason, you don’t have enough ventilation; you don’t have enough make-up air getting into that toilet. Because if you think about it, when you drop all that water in the drainpipe and it pushes down, it’s got to be replaced by air somewhere. You’ve got to let air in sort of through the top of that so it doesn’t gurgle and bubble. And you don’t have enough ventilation.
If the toilet’s working well and it’s flushing OK, you’re not getting a lot of backups and that kind of thing, it’s just kind of an annoyance but I wouldn’t worry about it. If you start having problems with it not flushing correctly, then you might need to get a plumber in to add an additional vent to that waste line so that it does flow as it should.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Keeping your deck clean, that’s hard enough when you’ve got proper drainage. But what do you do when there’s not? We’ll tell you, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, it was home to the King of Rock and Roll; now it’s home to The Money Pit. We want to take a moment to welcome a brand-new Money Pit affiliate in Tennessee: KWAM in Memphis. They’re at 990 on the dial.
Welcome to The Money Pit family, KWAM.
LESLIE: And thank you, thank you very much for listening.
Alright, guys. Now that you are new to The Money Pit family and all of our great listeners that we already have, you guys know we’ve got an excellent online community, so you can post your questions there.
And I’ve got a post here from Justin in Massachusetts who wrote: “My composite deck boards were not spaced properly. They all butt together, leaving no room for drainage. Water and dirt build up, making it a real cleaning headache. The boards were nailed in and I already broke one attempting to take it out. Any suggestions?”
TOM: Hmm. It’s kind of hard to undo that. You know, most manufacturers use a spacing tool to eliminate the problem. But since it’s too late, I can suggest a work-around idea to you that might eliminate all that buildup.
I assume that the deck boards have been put down straight. So what you might do is take a circular saw, set the blade depth to be just a hair more than the thickness of the decking and run it right down the joint between each board. The kerf or width of the saw-blade cut of each piece will not be as wide as what the manufacturer recommends but it’s better than no space at all. And it might be just the amount of room you need to drain that deck and get rid of the water.
LESLIE: Tom, any tips on making sure you’re making a straight cut? Because, essentially, you’re cutting into one of the boards and you don’t want to get all zig-zaggy.
TOM: Well, first of all, you have to assume that the board was put down straight. And you can check that with a string.
Now, if it was put down straight, what you can do is set yourself up with a temporary fence. That would be another board laid alongside of the place you’re trying to cut, that’s set exactly the distance between the blade and the edge of the table on the circular saw. And then you run it against that all the way down, keeping it nice and straight and then move it as you go.
Now, to attach that fence to the deck, you may have to put a couple of small screw holes in there. But you’ll probably not notice them when you’re all said and done.
LESLIE: Alright. Good tip.
Next up, we’ve got a post from Stephanie in North Carolina who writes: “The product I use for my self-cleaning oven spilled into my white Corian sink and left yellow stains. Is there any way to get rid of them?”
TOM: Because Corian is solid all the way through, it’s always easy to renew its original appearance. But if the damage is minor, I wouldn’t recommend an abrasive cleanser or a product like a scrubby pad.
A product like Bon Ami works well. That’s what we use when we have a solid-surface, built-in sort of Corian type of sink in our home. And yes, it does stain but if you use the Bon Ami on it, it kind of has like a bleaching effect. But if it’s really bad, you can actually sand it with about a 400-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper. And that can actually cut through the surface. But remember, you don’t want to make that your sort of daily deal for getting rid of stains. The cleansers will work pretty well and the sooner you get to those stains, the better.
Another trick of the trade is sometimes I’ll dampen the sink, put on the cleanser and let it sit there for a few minutes. Like I said before …
LESLIE: Oh, like a paste?
TOM: Yeah. It tends to have a bleaching effect.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, Stephanie, maybe next time you clean the oven – well, first of all, how dare you clean the oven? But next time, be more careful, Steph, alright?
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show always on air and online at MoneyPit.com. That’s about all the time we have for this portion of the program but it does continue online at MoneyPit.com, where we are standing by for your questions at 1-888-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.
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(Copyright 2015 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.)