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Spruce Up Any Room with Wainscoting, How to Give Your Roof a Spring Check Up, Use Paint to Give Items New Life 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: Happy Spring, everyone. It’s time for you to spring into those home improvement projects, as well, because this is the season. And after that long, nasty, cold, icy winter we had, I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to get going. I’ve got a long list of to-dos to tackle on the outside of my house. If you’ve got some to do inside or outside of your house, we would love to talk to you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, one area of your home that winter was particularly harsh on was your roof. That’s why we’ll have tips on how to check out the condition of your roof, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And wainscoting can add style to any room but there are many types and styles to choose from. We’ll help you determine which one works best for which room in your house, a little later.

    TOM: Also ahead, are you tired of your old outdoor furniture? Why not give it new life with paint? We’re going to tell you about a brand-new spray paint that can adhere to more surfaces than ever before.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a six-slice convection oven from Black & Decker.

    TOM: It’s large enough for 6 pieces of toast or a 9-inch pizza and it’s worth 70 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random to 1-888-MONEY-PIT, so let’s get started.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kyle in Iowa needs some help installing some trim. Tell us what you’re working on.

    KYLE: We just put in some new Willamette (ph) wood floors a couple weeks ago and we decided to rip out all the old – you know, the construction trim that comes with the newer homes and …

    TOM: Baseboard molding?

    KYLE: Yeah, the baseboard molding. And we’ve decided to upgrade to – I think it’s about a 5¼-inch tall, almost ½-inch thick baseboard, to kind of upgrade the look around the house.

    And I’m just having a hard time. I’m using my buddy’s miter saw and it’s not tall enough to do a vertical cut for my outside corners. And every time I lay it horizontally and try to tilt the miter saw to cut it, there’s no real clamping mechanism on it to hold the boards in place. And every time I push the miter saw into it, it moves it just slight enough to where my angles for when I try to do scarfing or an outside corner – it just kind of pushes my angles off on it just a little bit and it’s making the process harder.

    TOM: Well, let me ask you this: when you’re making your baseboard cuts for an inside corner, are you mitering it?

    KYLE: For the inside corner, I’m doing a cope.

    TOM: Oh, good. OK. That’s what I was concerned about.

    KYLE: And the coping turns out to be easier than the outside corners for me, so …

    TOM: Now, actually, when you do the outside corner, the only part of the miter that’s got to be perfect is the top edge of that board. As long as you have a straight line, if you end up taking up a little bit too much wood on the inside of that cut, nobody is ever going to see that. In fact, many times when I’m doing that type of a corner, I’ll sometimes cope out the back of the miter cut, take a little bit extra meat out of that so that it kind of gets out of the way and I can pull it together really nicely, tightly at the corner. As long as I have a crisp line that pulls together on the corner, then I’m happy with that.

    I understand you’ve got challenges with your tools. I’m not going to be able to give you a solution, because you don’t have the right tools. What you really need is a compound miter saw that’s sort of half miter saw, half radial arm saw. And that will give you the exact capabilities that you’re looking for. But to do this by hand with a regular hand miter box is just going to be a challenge.

    KYLE: So, it’d be easier maybe to try to find someone to borrow a compound one from?

    TOM: I think so. Yep. Yeah, you’ll be very happy. Because it sounds like you’ve got the skills. If you know how to cope a joint, then you’ve got the skills.

    And for those that have no idea what we’re talking about, when you put up baseboard molding or any kind of molding or even crown molding in a house, you don’t cut a 45-degree angle much like you would for a picture frame. You actually put one piece in whole and square it to the wall and the other piece, you cut that 45 as if it was going to be a miter but you take a coping saw and cut out the back of all of that wood, except for that crisp line that’s on the front of the angle of the miter. When you push that together, you get what appears to be a perfect, mitered cut but it’s actually not; it’s actually a butt joint but it looks like a miter.

    And it’s the best way to work with trim because it allows you to work with a house that’s not quite straight, because none of them are. And the other trick is I like to cut those boards just a little bit longer than what you need, because then it puts additional pressure on the joint and brings it together nice and tightly.

    So I think you’re on the right road. You just need to get some better tools to help you get there, OK?

    KYLE: OK. Thank you, guys.

    TOM: Good luck, Kyle.

    LESLIE: Kelly in South Dakota is on the line and wants some help removing wallpaper. What can we do for you?

    KELLY: We primed the walls. This has been about 10 years ago. And when I pulled back on the edges of the wallpaper, it seems as though it’s taking a bit of the drywall with it.

    TOM: So, what you want to do is you want to get a tool called a “paper tiger,” which puts small holes in the surface of the paper. And it helps the wallpaper remover get behind it and loosen up the adhesive.

    Now, in terms of wallpaper remover, you can use fabric softener, which works well, or you could use a commercially available product like DIF – D-I-F. But putting those holes in there is important because, otherwise, it doesn’t saturate the paper.

    Now, if you do that and it still doesn’t loosen up and pull off, then what you need to do is go out and rent a wallpaper steamer. And that will use warm, moist air to separate the paper from the wall.

    No matter how you do it, it is a lot of work. And once that wallpaper is off, you’re going to need to reprime that wall with a good-quality primer so you have a nice surface upon which to put your final color of wall paint.

    KELLY: OK. Do you need to sand that once you get it all done?

    TOM: Well, if it’s a little rough, just lightly sand it. You don’t want to sand it too much, especially because you don’t want to cut into the paper that’s part of the drywall. But a little bit of light abrasion is not a bad thing.

    But the most important thing is a good-quality priming paint applied to that wall surface, because you’re going to have old sizing material and who-knows-what-else stuck to that. And if you put the primer on, it’ll give you a good surface upon which to apply the paint. The paint will flow nicely and it’ll look better when it dries.

    KELLY: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your spring home repairs or even your home improvement questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, after this year’s long, snowy and bitterly cold winter, have you wondered if your roof is ready to stand up to the spring rains ahead? We’re going to have tips to give your roof a thorough checkup, next.

    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 here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT where we will take your home improvement questions. Pick up the phone, give us a call. Because not only will you get the answer, one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Black & Decker 6-Slice Convection Oven worth 70 bucks.

    It offers an energy-efficient approach to cooking and an incredibly large capacity so you can toast, broil and bake more food all at the same time.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You can learn more at BlackAndDeckerAppliances.com. And call for your chance to win one today. Our number? 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Murray in Illinois is on the line and he needs some advice on buying a new water heater. What can we help you with?

    MURRAY: Well, my issue is I have a house full of females and myself and we are having an issue with keeping up with hot water.


    MURRAY: I presently have a 40-gallon, natural-gas water heater and I was wondering if I could get you guys’ opinion. The bathroom they shower in is upstairs and we also have a washing machine up there.

    And I was wondering what you guys thought of the instantaneous water heaters. I’ve seen some small ones that it said would put out 3.3 gallons per minute and I had no idea what an actual shower takes. And I just wondered what you guys thought about that supplement, maybe, to the hot-water heater.

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, we are fans of tankless water-heating technology. And so, we do believe that if your water heater was failing, then that would be an appropriate thing to replace it with.

    In your case, you’re talking about supplementing, which is a bit different because you really have to have your water-heating needs zoned into two separate loops if you want to supplement. Because then you have half on the tank water heater and half on the tankless.

    The issue of your water heater being located a distance from the plumbing fixtures that you want to use most frequently is not going to be solved, regardless of what kind of water heater you have, because the water still has to travel the same distance. But if you’re concerned about running out of hot water, that’s not going to happen with a tankless; it just won’t. And you buy the tankless based on how many bathrooms you have in your house and there’ll be plenty of hot water to keep everybody in those bathrooms showered for as long as they want to stay in there.

    MURRAY: So you’re saying just – it’s best just to replace the natural-gas one I have and get a whole-house tankless?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. How old is that one you have now?

    MURRAY: It’s probably, I’m guessing, five or six years, maybe.

    TOM: Yeah. So it’s still pretty new. I mean they usually last about 10. So you’ve got a decision to make, you know? If you’re running out of hot water, then maybe it’s worth doing.

    MURRAY: OK. I appreciate your help very much. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright, Murray. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading on over to Ohio with Bobbie, who cut down a tree but is now wondering what’s going on with the dirt settling and sidewalk.

    This sounds like it’s got an interesting story, Bobbie. What happened to the tree?

    BOBBIE: Well, it got a disease in it. And they recommended that I cut it down before it falls on my house. So, I had it cut down and they ground out the stump. And now, I was wondering how long do I have to wait for the dirt to settle or if I even have to wait to extend my sidewalk.

    TOM: Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to build a sidewalk on top of all of the ground-out sawdust, because that clearly is going to decay away. I think the best thing to do is to try to add some stone to that stumped area. Maybe rake out all of the sawdust and pack it with stone and then make sure the new sidewalk is poured over that stone or even embed some of the stone into the concrete. Because otherwise, you’re going to build a sidewalk on top of an unstable piece of soil and that could crack.

    Another option there is to have the mason add some reinforcement to the sidewalk. And make sure the reinforcement straddles the weak area of the soil so that, again, if you do get some additional compression, the sidewalk won’t crack and sink in that area.

    You’re wise to raise this question. You do need to work around it and I think a good-quality mason can help you do that.

    BOBBIE: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    Well, spring is here and it’s a great time to make sure your roof has not been damaged by the long, harsh winter that we just had. And the first step is to simply grab a set of binoculars so you can do this inspection safely from the ground.

    What are you looking for? Well, first off, look at those shingles. If you see any that are cracked, that are blistered, that are just missing, that’s an issue. Also, take a look at your flashing. One of the most common causes for leaks is problems around flashing. So take a look at those roof vents, take a look at the plumbing vents where the pipes come through the roof, look at the skylights, look at the chimneys. And lastly, take a look at the valleys of the roof to make sure that they’re free and clear of debris that can add weight to the roof and also act as a barrier to prevent rain from flowing down the roof.

    LESLIE: Next, check the gutter systems to make sure that they’re not clogged with branches, leaves or any other debris. And make sure the gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure so that they don’t cause overflow and build-up and then fall off the fascia board.

    TOM: Because that would be a really bad thing. Take care of your roof and it’ll take care of you all season long.

    And we’re here to take care of you, as well, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Diane in Minnesota has got a steamy bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.

    DIANE: Yes. The exhaust fan, it just does not seem to take the steam out of the bathroom at all. It just doesn’t work, for some reason.

    TOM: Well, where is the exhaust fan mounted? It’s on the ceiling and goes into an attic? Is that correct?

    DIANE: Yeah, it’s in the ceiling. I just live in an apartment, so I’m not exactly sure where it goes but …

    TOM: OK. Well, see, that would be a good place to start. Because you want to make sure when you turn on an exhaust fan that you can see it actually exhaust somewhere. And generally, it’s going to be a vent outside the building somewhere. And you can turn on the exhaust fan and see that vent open. So you need to figure out – or if it’s an apartment, you need to have a super figure out where it’s exhausting. Because it could be obstructed, it could be crushed, it could be blocked, it could be terminated. There could be a lot of things wrong with it.

    And the other thing that you might want to think about – and you may or may not want to do this, because it’s an apartment and not a condominium that you own, but there’s a different type of exhaust fan that’s out now. Broan and NuTone make it. Same company. It’s called ULTRA. And what’s cool about it is it has a moisture-sensing switch built into it – a humidistat – so it runs whenever the room gets moist. So, you can kind of set it and forget it. And you take a shower, it’ll just stay on until all the moisture is evacuated out of the room and then go off again.

    DIANE: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, Diane. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Doug in Illinois is dealing with some water under a deck. Tell us what you’re working on.

    DOUG: Well, I’m interested in a roof or a water drainage system up underneath my deck. I have a 16×40 deck and I saw somewhere on TV that they have some sort of a system that goes up in between the joists. I was wondering if you knew anything about that.

    TOM: Yeah. Is this like a second-floor deck and you guys sit under it or something?

    DOUG: Yeah. There’s this – there’s a full lower level under the deck, yes.

    TOM: Well, those are called “deck drainage systems” and there’s lots and lots and lots of different manufacturers of it. There’s DEK Drain, there’s DrySnap.

    LESLIE: Yeah, there’s something called UnderDeck that seems to be a Depot product.

    TOM: Trex has one that’s called RainEscape.

    So, these are all deck drainage systems. I don’t know enough about them to give you a recommendation of one over the other but that’s what you want is a deck drainage system. They basically – as you say, they fit in between the joists, so they fit under the deck. They’re designed to collect the water and then run it to some sort of traditional gutter and get it away from the house, so that you could have some living space underneath that deck and not have the rain falling on your head.

    DOUG: Absolutely. That’s what I’m looking for. Did you say something about Home Depot?

    LESLIE: Yeah, Depot has a product called UnderDeck, which is basically like – I guess you could call it an “under-joist gutter system.” And it sort of pieces together; it’s modular.

    DOUG: Oh, OK. Wonderful. Well, I sure will check there.

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

    LESLIE: Pat in Louisiana is on the line and needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    PAT: We had our carpet cleaned about a year ago. And in this bedroom, we have a heavy, clear, plastic mat that goes underneath the computer chair.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: Well, recently, I moved it over a bit and I noticed that it was wet underneath it.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: There’s no leak in the roof; water hasn’t come in the house. So only thing that could be is a year ago, the water from the carpet-cleaning service got underneath this mat and it’s been there all this time.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    PAT: So, we cut out a large circle, like a 5-foot circle, and got all the part out that was wet. So we’re going to have to replace the carpet and the pad. But on the concrete – the bare concrete – there are some spots of discoloration, so I don’t know if that’s mold or mildew. My question is: how do I clean that concrete before we have the new carpet installed?

    TOM: The concrete spots, if anything, are mineral-salt deposits; it’s not mold.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: And so, it’s really cosmetic at this point. If you can wash it down with a vinegar-and-water solution, it’ll melt the mineral-salt deposits away.

    But the other thing that occurs to me is, sometimes, concrete will draw moisture into a house. And so if anywhere near that area outside, you’ve got water that’s ponding or collecting, it’s possible for the concrete to sort of draw that moisture up into the slab and across. And it may not have been able to evaporate where the pad was covering the concrete, which is why that area stayed damp, whereas the other area dried out. So there may be a different explanation as to why that stayed wet.

    One of the things that you might want to do, since you have the carpet pulled all the way back, is to paint the concrete. Paint that area with an epoxy paint. That will seal in that concrete and stop some of the evaporation if the moisture is being drawn through it and up into the floor surface.

    PAT: So, should I – we paint the whole room? We don’t have all of the carpet up yet; we just cut out the middle part.

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to take all the carpet up, then paint the whole floor. If you’re only going to take part of it up, then just paint what you can get to. But I would definitely paint the floor.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: That’ll do it. Pat, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you have a bland, boring room? Well, spruce it up with wainscoting. It’s a do-it-yourself-friendly project and it can completely transform any room in your house. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is going to tell us how, after this.

    KEVIN: This is Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, the longest-running home improvement show. And I want to send out a big congrats to Tom and Leslie for the most downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes. Well done, guys.

    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 it’s your last chance to get in on our Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes. We’re giving away 500 bucks in gift cards to The Home Depot just to help you get started on your spring-cleaning projects. Simply pin one of the spring-cleaning tips to your Pinterest page and enter. And share the sweeps with friends; you’ll even get some bonus entries. The sweep ends at the end of the month, so get going right now. It’s all online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Wayne in Iowa is on the line with a septic issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    WAYNE: Well, when I take a bath, I have odor when I drain the tub. If I take a shower, I have no odor when I take – when I take a shower, obviously, I don’t plug the drain. But everything runs through down to one pipe, which goes out to a septic tank. I do know the line is good from the house to the septic tank because I had to dig that up before I ever did any of the plumbing in the house. I did not replumb the drain on the tub but otherwise, the house has new plumbing throughout.

    TOM: So we don’t think that it’s in the drain line. For example, when you talk about sewer odors, the first thing you think of is a missing trap. But if the plumbing has been redone, it’s not likely that that’s the case, correct?

    WAYNE: No, it has a trap. And it doesn’t leak into the basement but I – whenever I take a shower, it works fine. But if I take a tub bath and pull the plug on the drain, I get a sewer odor in the hallway outside the bathroom.

    TOM: Because the other cause of those odors is something called “biogas” – is when you get a lot of bacteria that can form in a drain. And it may not even be the drain of the tub; it could be the drain of the sink. I presume there’s a sink in that same bathroom. And sometimes, even in the overflow channel of the sink, you get this bacterial buildup that can have just an awful odor to it.

    And the solution there is to thoroughly clean it with an oxygenated bleach so that you kill that bacteria, flushing out the overflow channel, scrubbing the drain with almost like a bottle brush to make sure that all of that bacteria is eliminated.

    Biogas can be very pungent and unpleasant to live with but relatively simple to get rid of once you get to the spot where it exists. Will you give that a shot?

    WAYNE: Yes, sir. I most certainly shall.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Well, the raised, decorative panels known as wainscoting and other decorative elements, they can really add personality and sophistication to a room.

    TOM: Yeah. And wainscoting actually goes back to the colonial days. Here to tell us more is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Hey, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: You know, when you think about wainscoting, it really takes the form of several different architectural styles. So, what are some of those elements and most importantly, is this really a do-it-yourself project that homeowners can tackle themselves?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you do have to have some skills, because there’s a lot of carpentry skills in mitering and making the pieces fit.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: There’s all different profiles and different details on simple moldings that you can simply apply to the wall. There’s also raised panels that you can put on a wall; you see a lot of that. And flat panels are pretty easy to do because you can actually let the wall be the panel. And you could put styles and rails and decorate around the interior with the molding detail there. So, there’s all kinds of patterns and details and heights that you can accomplish by applying the wainscoting to the wall.

    LESLIE: Now, Tommy, does it only have to be out of traditional wood or can we look to extruded PVC for something that’s more stable and maybe easier to work with?

    TOM SILVA: I like to use it in areas where it’s damp, like a bathroom, for example. You get a lot of steam and sometimes you get a lot of movement if you’re using a wood, like a poplar or a pine and you’re going to paint it. You get a lot less moving if you use a PVC beadboard or even a wainscoting made out of an MDF for moist or damp areas.

    TOM: It was not too long ago we got a call from a listener who wanted to put wood wainscoting in a bathroom and was concerned that the moisture was too much for it there. So, first, obviously, deal with the moisture issue. Make sure you have proper ventilation. And then, second to that, choose something that’s not wood.

    TOM SILVA: Right. But if you come to a situation and you really want that wood, for example, it needs to be sealed on all six sides before you install it. Because that wood has to be able to – stability. And it can’t take on the moisture.

    LESLIE: Now, what about some other non-traditional materials, especially if you’re just trying to create a lower area on a wall and then maybe just cap it off with trim? Have you ever seen tin ceiling tiles? I mean is that a possibility?

    TOM SILVA: Sure. People have taken tin ceiling and they have applied it to the wall. There’s hundreds of different patterns that you can use. The trick with tin is that it can dent easy. So sometimes what you want to do is you want to put the tin over plywood, because it will dent. But you also want to butter up the back with something like a joint compound. You’ve got to be careful that you don’t use anything that is brittle and will fall apart.

    So, a joint compound is always good for that, I think. Because joint compound will stick to anything and it will fill any void.

    TOM: And sometimes, in really old buildings, I’ve even seen it done with ceramic tile. Now, obviously, that’s a tough job but it’s incredibly durable.

    TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. Ceramic tile is great. It comes in a lot of different patterns. And the tile manufacturers make all kinds of moldings and caps and detail, even baseboard, that will finish it off and dress it up really nice.

    You also can use a drywall. There’s an embossed drywall where they basically stamp the gypsum and they make a panel. There is a given size and you have to try to make them fit into a space. So it can be a little bit challenging in some situations.

    TOM: So, if it fits, the embossed drywall is a pretty easy way to go, then.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely.

    TOM: What kind of rooms really lend themselves to wainscoting? Does it really have to be a kitchen or a bathroom or can it really, these days, go anywhere?

    TOM SILVA: Oh, it can go anywhere. A lot of people put them in dining rooms. Lots of times, you’ll see them in a mud room. It might go up like 5 feet, for example, to protect the walls. You see them in pantries. There’s a lot of different spaces – and basements, they sometimes – I see them in basements.

    TOM: And I’ve even seen wainscoting be done with non-traditional materials like, say, an old, wood door or something like that that can be very attractive.

    TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. Yeah, you take an old, wood, four-panel door, for example, and a lot of people take them and they’ll tip them on its side.

    LESLIE: Turn it on its side.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. And it’s pretty.

    TOM: Put a little trim cap on the front of it and you’re done.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we actually did that for an episode of While You Were Out. The only thing that made it tricky was now all of your boxes had to sort of pull away from the wall to accommodate the thickness.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, the thickness.

    LESLIE: So, that was a little bit tricky but it made a really classic look a little bit more easy to do.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: Tom Silva from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Nice to be here, guys. Thanks.

    LESLIE: You can 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 This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Up next, is your outdoor furniture looking a bit beat up? Why not give it new life with a coat of paint? We’ll tell you which kind you need to use, next.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who asks us their question on the air this hour is going to win the Black & Decker 6-Slice Convection Oven worth 70 bucks. It’s got a one-touch function, which will make it really easy to use. You can bake, broil, toast or simply keep food warm. You can even fit a 9-inch pizza in there. And it’s funny because I can fit a 9-inch pizza in my belly. So, no need to fire up that range.

    TOM: Great how that works out, isn’t it? Check it out at BlackAndDeckerAppliances.com. And call us now for your chance to win and the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lynn in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a handrail. How can we help you?

    LYNN: I’m trying to figure out the proper procedure to align and be able to cut the proper angle for the top rail and a bottom rail between two posts.

    TOM: OK. So, are the posts level? Are they straight?

    LYNN: Well, no, not exactly. See, what it is is we took the old, wooden stuff off and we’re replacing it with vinyl. And so, basically, some of the posts are kind of warped a little here, a little there.

    TOM: Alright. So, here’s the way you do this. If the posts were straight, it would be a lot easier because, essentially, what you would do is you would lay the railing on the stairs, put a level – vertical level – up against it and once it’s absolutely straight, use that to determine the cut line. Because that will be, essentially, a vertical cut.

    Now, if the posts are not level – they’re out of level – what I would do is I would take the railing and I would clamp it any way I could to the side of the posts, even if it’s a bit sloppy, just so it’s held approximately in the position that you want and against the side of the posts with some big – maybe wood Jorgensen clamps or bar clamps or something like that.

    And then you can scribe, from the post to the rail, with a pencil that exact cut. You know, you hold the pencil – say, a carpenter’s pencil – flat on the post and then you just basically drag it against the rail. And then add a little bit of extra space, maybe make it a ¼-inch bigger than that. Cut it, put it in place, see how the cut looks. You can adjust if you have to trim it a little bit – I presume you’re using a power miter box – and then you’ll kind of dial it in. But that’s the way to do it, OK?

    LYNN: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Lynn. Happy to help. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, you might be ready to get back outside and start enjoying your outdoor spaces. But are your outdoor spaces ready to be enjoyed just yet? For example, if you’ve got outdoor furniture that looks like it needs a little love, there’s a brand-new paint product from Money Pit partner Krylon that can help.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s called Krylon Dual Superbond. And we’re featuring this product as part of The Money Pit’s Top Products Pavilion at the National Hardware Show this year.

    Now, what’s really cool about this spray paint is it’s got a new, proprietary formula that will ensure it adheres to many surfaces, including laminates and melamine, which have traditionally been super-hard to get paint to stick to. And it’s also great for metal, wood, plastic and already-painted materials.

    TOM: This is a two-in-one product that really preps the surface so you get durability, maximum rust protection and coverage, with no sanding or priming required. It comes in 24 colors, in gloss, satin and flat finishes and at just about 5 bucks a can, this is one investment that is a no-brainer.

    With Krylon, you can make it yours. Visit Krylon.com for more info.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Scott in Iowa on the line who needs help with a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    SCOTT: I just recently bought a rental house and the plaster – it’s an older home and the plaster was falling off the house. Well, the guy I bought it from had repaired it but if you look at it, it’s falling out in some areas and bowing back in in some areas. And I was just wondering, would I have to re-drywall it or is there a cheaper and easier way to fix that?

    TOM: How much of this exists? Is there a lot of this that’s where it’s – the plaster seems to be loose?

    SCOTT: Throughout the whole house.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. So it’s a problem because it’s going to be dangerous.

    What happens is the plaster, when it’s applied, it’s applied over something called wood lath, which are like thin strips of wood. Kind of looks like those sticks we use to hold up garden plants and tomatoes and things like that. And the plaster expands to behind the lath and it sort of locks in place.

    But over the years, with an old house, those keyways, we call them, loosen up and then the plaster is not attached to the wall anymore. So you are looking at a situation where the walls are going to get worse. It’s not going to get better. And if it’s the ceiling that’s loose, it could be dangerous. Because when that plaster falls, it’s really, really heavy. I’ve seen it dent floors and certainly could hurt somebody.

    So now we have – the question is: what’s the best way to deal with this? “Should I tear the plaster out? Should I drywall over?” I’ve done it both ways and I’ve come to the conclusion, after trying it this way for many years, that the best thing to do is to put drywall on top of the plaster, not tear it out, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s less messy. Secondly, that even when you tear out the lath and the plaster, you’ll find that the studs from the old house behind it are not very even. So when you put drywall up, it tends to warp sometimes.

    So what I would do is I would attach new drywall over the plaster. You can use 3/8-inch thick drywall, too; you don’t even need to use ½-inch drywall. And then by attaching from the drywall, through the plaster into the studs, you’ll help secure that loose plaster so you won’t have any further movement in that room. That would be my recommendation.

    SCOTT: That works out.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, have you ever had a leak in your house that was not caused by rain or even a plumbing pipe? The source could be condensation. We’ll tell you how to fix it, next.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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: Get spring-cleaning advice and a chance to win enough dough to help stock your spring-cleaning supplies by visiting our Facebook page, right now, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, where you can start pinning.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got our Pin to Win Sweeps running through the end of this month. And we’re giving away three Home Depot gift cards: a $250 one, a $150 one and a $100 gift card, all up for grabs. Time is running out, so you’ve got to enter today. And if you share the contest with your friends, you can win some bonus entries.

    TOM: And while you’re online, you can post your question in the Community section. That’s what Richard did, who seems to be getting a leak and it’s not from rain.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Richard writes: “The skylight in my kitchen ceiling condensates in the winter, dripping water down the drywall and wrecking the paint around the opening of the skylight. My best solution is to seal off room air from reaching the skylight, with a plastic sheet. It might not look very nice, though. Any suggestions?”

    TOM: Well, Richard, what is going on here – and you’re on the right track – is that skylight is not well-insulated. Now, if it’s a thermal-pane skylight and the seals have failed, that might be the cause. If it’s a single pane, that’s definitely the cause. But it’s not able to separate hot room air from cold outside air.

    Now, air that is warmer holds more moisture. So as that warm, moist air rises and strikes the skylight, it cools and the water condenses; it leaks out of the warm air, into the cold air and that’s where the moisture is forming. So your solution to put another air barrier, essentially, across the bottom of that skylight well is going to be effective and that’s why. But you’re correct in that, obviously, it doesn’t look very nice.

    So, I would say this: you can continue to leave that air barrier there for now but this should be a project that you are planning for the near future. And when you shop for a new skylight, make sure you get, obviously, insulated glass. Make sure you get low-E coated glass because that’s going to reflect the heat of the sun back out of that skylight, so it’s not going to end up really driving your cooling costs up.

    Also make sure you select a skylight manufacturer that has a curbed skylight. So the curbed skylight means that it fits on top of the roof. There’s usually step flashing that goes up the side that makes it watertight and a head-flashing piece on top that completes the seal. Don’t get a flush skylight – one that’s sort of flush with the roof – because they do tend to leak. If you upgrade that skylight, this condensation problem will go away.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question that Phil posted on the Community section of the website. And he writes: “When installing a bath exhaust fan, is it better if the vent exits through an exterior wall or through a roof vent? Thanks so much.”

    I feel like as long as you know it’s venting outside, does it really matter?

    TOM: Yeah, I agree with you.

    But the shortest distance between two points is really the solution, Phil. So, if you have the ability to kind of turn 90 degrees from the ceiling and go right out an exterior wall, the faster you can get that warm, moist air outside, the better. If you have to go some distance, then that’s going to obviously reduce its effectiveness.

    You know, Leslie, there’s an interesting stat about ducting. And this is sort of a ducting question because the vent is sort of a duct. That when you have a 90-degree bend in a duct like that, that’s the same air resistance as 20 straight feet of duct. So, having one bend really adds to the resistance. So you’re correct: shorter distance the better.

    LESLIE: And just as important? Add a timer to that vent fan so you can know that it will run for 15 minutes after you bathe.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful spring day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas, perhaps a bit of inspiration to get started with your home improvement projects.

    If you have a question, 24-7, we’re available at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can call that number any time of the day or night. You will get through to our screeners. If we’re not in the studio, we will take your question, call you back and answer it the next time we record this show. You can also post the question to us on Facebook or even on the Community section at MoneyPit.com.

    Happy Spring, everybody. 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 2014 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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