Staining a Wood Deck, Choosing Composite Decking, Patio Furniture and Accessories and more
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We know there’s something you want to do this weekend, right now. Get outside; take advantage of the time off to take care of your money pit, because we are in the money pit-prevention business.
We all love our homes but we know that they do have those money pit moments, when something goes wrong or maybe we just want to improve them by adding a deck, building a patio, redoing the kitchen. Maybe you need to do it on a budget. Maybe you are fortunate enough to have an unlimited source of cash, in which case we would like to help you spend it. (Leslie chuckles) Give us a call right now. We’ll give you some ideas. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up this hour, we’ve got tips to help you enjoy the outdoors – you know, that big, extra room that you have outside your house called your yard? First up, we’re going to have some tips to help you spruce up your wood deck by staining it. You know, staining it every few years will help it look great and stay in good structural shape. And to help us with that, we’ve got general contractor, Tom Silva, from This Old House stopping by with his tricks of the trade on how to do that project.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know, with wood decks, they’re great but if you don’t want the maintenance that comes with them, you might want to consider composite decking. Now, the new generation of composite decking really looks just exactly like wood but requires almost zero maintenance. So we’re going to tell you all about it, in a few minutes.
TOM: And also ahead, we’ve got tips on patioscaping. What’s that, you say? Well, it’s going to help you take your patio up to the next level with seating and accessories to make it look both relaxing and functional.
LESLIE: And speaking of relaxing, we’ve got a great prize this hour. We’re giving away a golf organizer from Suncast and CSNSheds.com and it’s a great way to keep your clubs handy all year. And it’s worth 70 bucks.
TOM: Well, we really are covering the outdoor life. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, for your chance to win. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Maureen in New York needs some help refinishing a bathtub. What can we do for you?
MAUREEN: Hi. My question is – we’re going to replace the bathtub we have and we found an old, clawfoot tub that was taken out of the house. It’s in pretty nice shape but it does need some kind of help. It’s rusted and whatnot and I don’t know if it’s too much work to refinish that or how you go about refinishing that. Or is it better to buy the new, plastic tubs that they have, kind of? The newer ones are really light.
TOM: Well, I love those old, cast-iron tubs. I mean, they’re …
LESLIE: That’s like fantasy bath time to me.
MAUREEN: (overlapping voices) Yeah, really. I agree.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Exactly.
LESLIE: That’s all I dream out.
TOM: That’s the last time they made a bathtub big enough for me to fit in. (Leslie and Maureen chuckle)
LESLIE: And like you could soak up to your shoulders and feel completely relaxed.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Exactly.
MAUREEN: (overlapping voices) Absolutely.
TOM: Yeah, I know. It’s like a pool.
LESLIE: I would – I mean, if I could, in my own life and the bathroom could support it and I was ready for it, I would absolutely have a vintage, clawfoot tub or a reproduction thereof that is also cast-iron.
Since you’ve got one that needs some work, you’re better off probably giving it to a pro and having them completely reglaze it. It’ll last a long time; almost as long as if you bought a new one. It’ll be durable. It will hold the temperature on your water fantastic. You will have a hot bath from the moment you get in until the moment you get out.
MAUREEN: Oh, that’s great. Do you have any idea what that runs or what it would cost to have somebody refinish it?
TOM: I would guess it would probably be in sort of the $200 to $500 range.
MAUREEN: Oh, that’s fine.
LESLIE: But it’s worth it.
TOM: And it’s definitely going to be worth it because they’ve they got the tools and the equipment to do this so that it really stays on. There are a lot of sort of do-it-yourself glazing kits out there but they’re sort of glorified paint and they just don’t stick around.
MAUREEN: (overlapping voices) Yeah. OK. Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. If you did that, would it even hold up?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. No.
LESLIE: Probably not.
TOM: I wouldn’t do it myself.
MAUREEN: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Glenn in Illinois is dealing with a leaky water heater. It’s leaking into the furnace? What’s going on?
GLENN: Well, no. It’s actually – it’s leaning. It’s [inaudible at 0:04:16.4].
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, leaning. OK.
GLENN: It’s stressing me out. The water heater is leaning and the furnace is next to it.
GLENN: And there is like – together, they’re the leaning Tower of Pisas, towards each other. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: Oh, good Lord.
GLENN: Apparently, whoever did the furnace or the water heater, they cut the floor joists …
TOM: Oh, no.
GLENN: … in the crawlspace, so ….
TOM: Oh, man. What a mess. So you’ve got a water heater problem; you’ve got a structural problem.
LESLIE: And a furnace problem.
TOM: And so the reason it’s leaning is because the floor joist is cut underneath it?
GLENN: And I’ve gotten under there and put in a couple of – what do they call those things that screw up underneath and kind of support it?
TOM: Oh, like some jacks?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s like a jack.
GLENN: Yeah, a jack. Exactly.
TOM: Hmm. Alright.
GLENN: I put a couple of those under there but it seems to be making it worse.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, if you have a cut floor joist, you have to sister it; you have to put a new one next to it. And sometimes that’s a little bit tricky but that’s the only way to properly reinforce it. In terms of the sag …
GLENN: Do you have to jack it above the …?
TOM: You don’t have to necessarily jack it; you have to put it side-by-side. What I was going to tell you is that once a floor sags, it’s really hard to get it back in place. Sometimes, you can pick it up a little bit and then you attach this new floor joist across the cut one and then that ends up carrying the load, so to speak. And you would glue it and screw it or nail it together or even bolt it. It’s called a sister joist. Think of it as a splint over the broken one and that’s …
GLENN: Oh, do you have to take the weight off of it in order to do that?
TOM: No. No, no. You leave everything that’s there; you just sort of work this one up next to it. Sometimes, you might have pipes or wires in the way that have to be adjusted or temporarily removed to get it in there but in a perfect situation, you’re going to want to go from the foundation wall all the way to the girder – if it’s that kind of a floor joist – so that you cover it with as long a piece as possible.
So, I would also caution you that (chuckles) if you try to straighten out the water heater, it may go from a leaning water heater to a leaky water heater (Leslie chuckles) because you’ll be putting stress on the pipes. So, you might just want to kind of leave everything where it is but reinforce that joist so it doesn’t cause any further damage.
GLENN: Hmm. OK. Excellent. OK.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can be part of The Money Pit by picking up the phone and giving us a call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, composite decking. It looks better than ever and it’s more durable, as well. We’re going to give you tips on how to get the look of real wood without any of the work needed to maintain it.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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. It’s time to get those clubs out and hit the green and this hour, we’re giving away a prize that can help you do just that. We have got the Suncast Golf Organizer worth $69.99. It is made of heavy-duty metal construction; it’ll stand up great in the shed or the garage. It stores two golf bags and standard golf equipment. The top bin holds loose balls, tees and accessories and the adjustable feet allow for leveling.
More info at CSN.com or give us a call right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you are thinking of ways to enjoy your great outdoors. You know, the weather is finally warming up. We all want to start using the backyards and actually, a deck can be your most important and your most-enjoyed outdoor living space. It actually adds square footage to your home without an actual remodeling project, so it’s really a win-win situation.
And making your deck beautiful brings value to your home. You know, there’s no such thing as a no-maintenance deck. So when you’re choosing what material you’re going to build your deck out of, remember there’s a big difference between wood and alternative materials like composites and PVCs.
TOM: That’s right. You know, water, sun and insects can really wreak havoc on unprotected wood decks. You won’t have those kinds of problems with composite decking. The brand that we have used here on The Money Pit is Horizon by Fiberon. They’re one of our sponsors. The product looks like real wood down to the texture, which simulates the wood’s grain.
They’ve got great colors; it includes tropical hardwoods like rosewood and ipe. It really is just stunning and Horizon doesn’t have any of the drawbacks of older composites. There’s no staining, no fading, no scratching and it’s totally mold-resistant. In fact, Fiberon has one of the best warranties in the business. It’s the industry’s first-ever, 10-year stain-and-fade warranty.
So, if you’re thinking about building a deck, look into all the options. Check out Fiberon as one of the composites that you consider. It’s a great product. If you want more information, you can visit them at FiberonDecking.com.
And if you need some help planning your deck project or perhaps even a patio project, pick up the phone right now and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Annie in South Dakota has got a noisy house. Tell us what’s going on there.
ANNIE: My house is around 13 years old and our master bathroom shares a wall with another bedroom in the house. And a lot of noise can be heard through the wall, if you get what I mean.
TOM: I do. (Leslie laughs)
ANNIE: I was wondering (chuckles), is there some way of insulating that wall without being too destructive?
TOM: Well, insulation would only help to some extent. You could do blown-in insulation. Probably a better thing to do is to put a second layer of drywall on it with an insulating glue in between, called Green Glue.
ANNIE: Green Glue?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s made to deaden noise.
TOM: Specifically designed for this particular purpose.
TOM: OK? Because what it does is – as Leslie said, it makes a deadening – sort of a deadened space where the vibration can be absorbed between the layers of drywall. You don’t have to use full, half-inch drywall; you can use three-eighths. But that will make a big difference, especially if you do it on both sides of the wall; you’ll find that the walls are a lot quieter.
ANNIE: Oh, OK.
ANNIE: Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Don in Pennsylvania is getting ready for the warm weather and looking to buy an A/C. How can we help?
DON: Yes. My central air conditioner is 22 years old and we’ve been doing a lot of looking on the internet. All the air conditioners are good; all the air conditioners are bad. How do you choose the right – a good one?
TOM: Mm-hmm. Very simple. Right now, what you want to do is choose one that qualifies for the federal energy tax credit. And the reason I say that is because that’s the highest efficiency standard right now. Not only will you get a good-quality air conditioner that’s very efficient, you will also qualify for the tax credit, which can refund you up to $1,500 off of the taxes you’ll owe the government in 2011, if you buy it before the end of 2010.
So as long as you stick to the Energy Star models that qualify for the federal tax credit, I think you’ll be assured of getting a good-quality unit.
DON: OK. And another thing what they’re doing – they’re pushing a heat pump over central air and we already have forced natural gas.
TOM: Well, you don’t need a heat pump then. The only reason you would get a heat pump is if you had electric heat and you wanted to spend a little bit less and a heat pump is going to be less expensive than straight electric heat. But if you already have a gas furnace, I would not get rid of …
LESLIE: Which is affordable and very good.
TOM: Yeah. I would not get rid of natural gas to install a heat pump. No way, no how.
DON: Well, that’s the – actually, they said they could tie it in where the heat pump could actually ride …
TOM: Why would you want to supplement a less-expensive heating source with a more expensive …?
LESLIE: With a more expensive.
DON: Well, that’s what we were trying to figure out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Plus, here’s what you – here’s what they don’t tell you about heat pumps. As a matter of fact, Leslie just learned this because she’s got one in her basement right now.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. I mean, totally.
TOM: Heat pumps don’t put out heat at the same temperature a gas furnace puts out heat. So, while the gas furnace may put out heat at, say, 115 degrees/120 degrees on the dot …
LESLIE: And you feel it and it’s all nice and toasty.
LESLIE: You stand next to the heat pump and you’re like, “Why is cool air coming out of here? It’s supposed to be warm.”
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. And the truth is it’s not really cool but it’s more like 90, 95 degrees, so it feels cool to you. So, I would never replace a gas furnace with a heat pump. I would just get a real efficient, central air conditioning unit.
You know who makes a really good one is Trane. T-r-a-n-e. Take a look at those and again, buy one that qualifies for the tax credit. All the manufacturers today will tell you which models qualify for the tax credit. But do it now, before the end of the year, because this is not going to be around forever. These tax credits are going to run out as fast as the clunker program did.
LESLIE: And you know what? When you’re shopping for an installer, make sure that they help you do all of that paperwork and research and get all of what you need to hand to the accountant, together. Because when we put in the central A/C, our guy handed us a booklet at the end and was like, “Here’s everything you need. Please give this to your accountant.” It made it completely easy.
DON: OK. OK. Well, that’s plenty to know. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Don. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bev in West Virginia needs some help with a gutter situation. What’s going on?
BEV: Hi. I have a 1904 bungalow and my gutters, every fall, get filled with leaves and they’re too high for our ladder to climb up in, so we have to have someone to come and do that for us.
BEV: What I was wondering is, is there some sort of a gutter guard or some kind of screening or something that would be good to use in a situation like this?
TOM: Bev, there are a bunch of options out there. You could start with gutter screens and they’ll do a pretty good job of keeping out the majority of the leaves and debris. But eventually, the leaves will sort of rot and they need to be – the screens pulled out and then the gutters cleaned anyway.
There are also a bunch of gutter guards out there. Some work better than others but basically, the way they work is they allow the leaves to wash over the gutters and onto the ground but the water, through the force of surface tension, actually goes into the gutter. I put some of those on my dad’s house and they worked pretty good for quite a long period of time. I think that’s probably the best option and I’d probably go with a gutter guard over a gutter screen.
BEV: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bev. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sylvia in California needs some help with a kitchen counter project. What’s going on?
SYLVIA: Hi, I’m calling because we’re interested in changing out our countertops and right now, the counters that are there are ceramic tile. They’ve been there since the condo was built in 1983.
SYLVIA: And so the grout is kind of coming up and it just doesn’t look very good. And I’ve heard you say, in a previous show, that you have to do the – refinish granite every year?
TOM: Yeah, granite is beautiful but granite requires an awful lot of maintenance. Now, do you want to continue with a tile countertop or do you want to completely change?
SYLVIA: Well, I do like the ceramic tile but I was wondering if there are any other options out there that are as durable or – but we’d also like to do the installation ourselves.
TOM: Well, certainly a ceramic tile countertop is one of the easiest ones to do as a do-it-yourself project.
LESLIE: But there are also granite tiles. Now, you can get remnants of granite at your local stone guy that could be 12×12. You can even find them at the local home centers and lay that as you would tile. You can either do a grout line or I prefer, if you’re dealing with such a large granite tile, not to do a grout line and sort of butt everything together.
And as you mentioned with granite, the only thing that you need to do annually is sort of reseal them. And you can kind of let it go to every two years but if you do let it go to every two years, you’ll notice that in areas – when they cut the granite to make it for the countertop; when they sort of slice it into the thicknesses that’ll work for them, what happens is they get these little pocks and spaces that just the stone sort of pops out of and then they put – is it like a resin over it, Tom?
TOM: To seal it?
LESLIE: Yeah, they put some sort of like – it’s almost like a resin and it fills in those spaces. And over time, from your cleaning and your usage of the countertop, those spaces that were missing stone, that filled in with resin, kind of pop out. You’ll notice it on the edge that you cut into the granite.
So you want to – if you’re doing granite, just every year or so make sure it’s resealed just so that it maintains its durability. I mean, it can be a pain but it doesn’t have to be. So if you want to do something yourself, you’re not going to be able to do a solid granite but you can do these granite tiles and they’re beautiful.
SYLVIA: Yeah. OK. Well, great. Thank you very much for the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sylvia. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And working on those kitchens in a tight economy, very, very good investment. You’ll get about a 75-percent return when it comes time to sell the house.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, we’ve got simple, step-by-step advice on how to stain your wood deck so it stays around for a lot of years to come.
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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 you know, Leslie, the saying “April showers bring May flowers.” But I add to that “also wet basements, at the same time.” (Leslie chuckles) Not that I’m being a downer but I’ve got to tell you, we get more calls this time of year about flooded basements and crawlspaces than any other time of the year. And the truth of the matter is, it’s easy to fix. Doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Go to our website; search on the solution for wet basements at MoneyPit.com and you will find it and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to make it dry up once and for all.
LESLIE: Corbin in Iowa is working on a tiling project. How can we help you?
CORBIN: Yeah. I have an old, cinder-block shower and I’m remodeling my bathroom and it’s got paint – I mean, layers and layers and years of paint – and I tried sanding it off and it’s pretty much impossible. It smells terrible. I just was wondering if the mastic – a real good mastic would be good enough?
TOM: Well, so, it’s a cinder-block wall right now?
CORBIN: Right. It’s a complete cinder-block shower.
TOM: I see.
CORBIN: And I’m just going to make it a tile shower.
TOM: Alright. So you just want to kind of spruce it up a bit and you’re wondering what your options are to get the tile on that block. Have you got off as much of the glue – I mean, as much of the paint as you possibly could?
CORBIN: Well, I started with an angle grinder and – I mean, I was kind of worried about what could be in one of these layers of paint.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t blame you because you could be breathing in lead paint.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
CORBIN: Right, right.
TOM: But I mean, the paint that’s on there is not loose? I mean, it’s really well-adhered to the block?
CORBIN: Yeah. Very well.
TOM: Then I think you could apply a tile mastic and go right on top of that.
CORBIN: That’s what I was hoping, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, as long as it’s not peeling, because you can’t put the glue over the paint; otherwise, it’s all going to fall off. But if it’s on there really well, I don’t see why you couldn’t just mastic right over that.
CORBIN: Right. Excellent, excellent. And I thought maybe I’d do maybe a little extra on the actual floor to make sure I get good adhesion down there, you know.
LESLIE: Now, there’s a new product – well, I don’t know how new it is but it’s different, certainly. There’s something called SnapStone. Have you heard of this? It’s a floating, porcelain tile floor and it’s basically a porcelain tile that’s on some sort of like a plastic base.
And then they all snap together, so you don’t use any adhesive but you use a specialized sort of flexible grout once you’ve got that in place. And they come in large sizes but they also come in, I think, 6×6 squares which could be kind of nice for a bathroom shower floor. I mean, it’s worth it; this way you don’t have to worry about adhesion there.
TOM: That’s a good point.
CORBIN: Yeah. Well, thanks a lot, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome, Corbin. Good luck with that project. Let us know how it comes out, would you?
CORBIN: Yeah, I will.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a wood deck at your money pit, now is the time of year to get out there and start enjoying it. But if it’s looking a little worse for the wear, you can actually extend its life by giving it a really good cleaning and then re-staining it. Do it now and then you don’t have to do it again for another couple of years.
And it’s not a really terrible project, right?
TOM: Absolutely not. And here with some tips to help make sure your staining job sticks around and it looks great is This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor, and the show’s general contractor, Tom Silva.
And guys, this is a very doable project for a weekend warrior, isn’t it?
KEVIN: Staining a deck is a great do-it-yourself, home improvement project. It’ll extend the life of your deck, it’ll dramatically improve your curb appeal and it doesn’t cost a lot.
But what’s the key to a properly stained deck, Tom?
TOM SILVA: Like any painting and staining project, preparation is the key. First, wash the deck by applying a deck wash, using a pump sprayer. Scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush and then rinse it off.
For the most part, I don’t like pressure washers; they can damage the surface of the deck. I also like to use a fungicide and a mildew preventer, usually made from borate. You can apply that with a pump sprayer but you don’t want to wash this off; let it soak into the wood.
When the wood is dry, you can then apply the stain. Now, what I like to do – if you use an oil-based stain – I like to take and mix a little bit of polyurethane or varnish in with the stain; about a half a pint per gallon.
KEVIN: And how many coats of stain do you recommend?
TOM SILVA: Well, usually it takes two because the wood gets pretty dry.
KEVIN: Alright. Well, if you want more information, you can watch a video about how to stain a deck on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, Tom. Nice to be here.
KEVIN: Nice to be here, Tom.
LESLIE: You know – and if you’re looking for a quick, little fix that really doesn’t require a lot of work – say, if your deck is only kind of looking bad in a couple of sections – go to those damaged boards, flip them over and then reattach them and it really will look fantastic.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
LESLIE: And then you can go ahead and stain the entire deck and it’s going to look great.
TOM: Good point.
Well, if you want more information from Tommy and Kevin, be sure to watch them on This Old House, which is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
Up next, we’ve got tips to help create the perfect patio with the right furnishings, lighting and accessories. It’s all coming up, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 and the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it is springtime. The birds are chirping and the grass is green, which can only mean one thing: time to get your golf clubs out. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: You know, I’m not a golfer but people who play golf, they love it and they live for this time of year.
TOM: (overlapping voices) They can’t wait.
LESLIE: So we’ve got a great prize for you golfers/home improver out there. We’re giving away some golf equipment that will keep all of your golf items organized. We’ve got the Suncast Golf Organizer worth $69.00 from CSNSheds.com. It’s got a heavy-duty metal construction. It’s going to stand up great in your shed or your garage or your bedroom, depending on where you like to keep your golf clubs, because I know people are very attached.
TOM: I’m thinking that the bedroom thing isn’t going to work out too well. I mean, don’t you think …?
LESLIE: No, people are attached to their golf clubs. I don’t know.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, the couple would both have to be into it. Otherwise, like …
LESLIE: Well, it holds two golf bags, so you’re good. (Tom chuckles) So, it’s a great prize. If you’re looking for some home improvement advice, give us a call. We’ll answer your home improvement question on the air, plus one lucky caller is going to win. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: I think if I put that in my bedroom, my wife would try to hang me on it.
LESLIE: But you’re also not a golfer, see? (Tom laughs) See? I think I’m onto something here.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Pam in North Carolina, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
PAM: I have a house that was built in 1972 and it’s built on slab. The entire center of the house is an atrium and it has a slate floor.
PAM: And under the atrium part, the – well, all the ductwork is galvanized and …
TOM: Does it go through the slab, through the cement floor?
PAM: Yes. Yes, it is.
PAM: And in the atrium part – we have narrowed it down to the atrium – there are pretty large holes in the galvanized ductwork and when we have rain, the rain seeps in and sometimes it’s almost to the level of the cement and we have to pump it out.
PAM: And I was wondering if there’s anything you can recommend to seal these galvanized ductwork areas.
TOM: Pam, unfortunately this is a fairly common problem that a lot of people complain about and there’s really not a lot that you can do but I’m going to give you two tips that could help.
TOM: First of all, we want to try to see if we can reduce the amount of water that’s finding its way up into those ducts. And the solution here is the same advice that we would give you if you were calling about a flooded crawlspace or a flooded basement. If you get a lot of water that collects in those areas when the rain is heavy, you want to try to take the steps to get the water away from the foundation perimeter.
So, for example, the gutter system. You want to take a look at the gutter system that’s closest to this atrium area and make sure that they’re clean and free-flowing and the downspouts are extending way away from the foundation. Also, you want to look at the grade – the angle of the soil – as it slopes away from the outside walls. Those two things will help manage a lot of the storm water and keep it away from the duct space.
TOM: Typically, what ends up happening here is people give up on the ducts and then put in some other type of heating system. You can use the ducts as chases to run PEX tubing; for example, if you wanted to, say, take this portion of the house and convert it to a hot water system or you could, you know, use some other system or run ducts above it and try to push the heat down which is, frankly, challenging to do but, sometimes, when you have these heating systems in the slab it’s your only option.
But I hope that gives you at least some place to start with it. It’s not uncommon and unfortunately, it ends up with them rotting out and filling up with water.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Rodney in Kansas who needs some help with new windows. What can we do for you?
RODNEY: Well, I’ve got some Pella casement-style windows that are, oh, 28 years old.
RODNEY: Fixed outer pane. They have a removable inner pane that’s a storm panel. Oh and they have holes drilled in the sash for in between the two panes of glass, to let air in, so that they won’t fog up in the wintertime.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Yep. They were good windows. They were state-of-the-art back then.
RODNEY: They were. (chuckles) Well, they’re not real efficient at this point in time.
TOM: Yeah, well, that’s true. And the new ones – I mean, technology has changed so much. Today, the Energy Star glass packages that qualify for the federal tax credit are just, you know, light years more efficient. And so, how can we help you? You’re thinking about buying some new ones? You want some tips on where to go? What to get?
RODNEY: That might be a good idea. Is there a way that I can just replace glass? Have a glass contractor? Or do I need to go frames clear down to the rough opening?
TOM: Nah, you pretty much need to tear the whole thing out. You can’t just replace old glass with new glass and have it be energy-efficient. It certainly wouldn’t be cost-effective and it also, most likely, wouldn’t qualify you for any of the tax credits that are available, if you do the project between now and the end of the year.
So, what I would suggest you do is – we actually wrote a new chapter for our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure and it’s called “Your Complete Replacement Window Guide.” It’s available for free download online at MoneyPit.com or just simply Google “Money Pit Replacement Window Guide” (Leslie chuckles) and you will find it.
Sign up; download it. It will walk you through all of the options that you have for choosing new replacement windows for your house, from the differences in the types of glass to how to work with a contractor. All the information is in there and it’s completely free.
RODNEY: I’ll try it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with the project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s a great time right now to get outside and spruce up your patio. And if you’re thinking that your patio is a bit plain, perhaps a bit boring, you can spruce it up with the right furniture and accessories and create a really terrific backyard getaway, just steps from your home.
You know, patioscaping is a trend that is here to stay and there are a few things to keep in mind, if you’d like to do this for your patio. First, if you like to entertain, you want to consider planning a food-prep area or a built-in counter to serve as a buffet or a serving place. Now, you can create this yourself. You can build an outdoor bar yourself that could do this and really start to frame in the whole area and it really can look fantastic.
Now, if you want to just lounge and hang out there, you might want to think about a hammock, chaise lounges, wooden benches perhaps with some pillows covered in durable, outdoor fabrics. And I think the fabrics really add a lot because you’re talking about a really hard space. Add some soft fabrics, some nice cushions; really makes it look very, very decorative.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s important – if you’re bringing in anything that’s made with outdoor fabrics, you want to make sure that you use a water-resistant foam or filler for whatever cushions, things that you’re using outside. Otherwise, if you put that outdoor fabric around – you know, regular foam from the fabric store – you’re going to get mold, mildew; it’s going to be gross; it’s never going to dry out. So choose outdoor foams, as well, when you’re doing that.
TOM: Now what about lighting?
LESLIE: Lighting is fantastic. You know, solar lights are a fantastic way. It’s a really inexpensive way to add a lot of atmosphere to your outdoor patio space. And accent lighting is really key; it helps you utilize all of those spaces.
Now, string lights – you can get them anywhere. You can get them in a ton of different shapes and sizes. They come in …
TOM: And they’re not just for holidays anymore.
LESLIE: Not at all. (Tom chuckles) And you know what? They come in festive colors and little, fun shapes; even little bamboo sort of lantern-y looking things. They really add just a festive feeling and some drama to the space. It looks great.
You can even accent trees with lights that are at the ground level or put a light up in the branches. You know, there’s also nothing more beautiful than candlelight outdoors but you want to make sure that if you choose candles, you want to use sturdy candle holders so nothing blows over and starts an accidental fire.
And now, many families – they’re also using the patio as a place to use playground equipment; you know, toys, swings, basketball hoops, even wading pools in the summer months. So, remember, keep your yard organized, add a clean storage area to protect your bikes and toys when they’re not in use and then let the adults enjoy the space. And just have fun out there.
TOM: Good tip.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up next, more often than not, a home improvement project turns up surprises. Now sometimes, they are great surprises like a hardwood floor under that wall-to-wall carpeting. So we’re going to talk about how to restore those old, wood floors that have been protected by those wonderful drop cloths that have been down for 20 or 30 years, called carpeting, 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. And we love to call you “friends,” here in our own minds. We like to say you’re our friends over here at The Money Pit. But we really want you to be our friend, so why not head on over to Facebook? We’ve got a great page over there. It’s filled with lots of excellent information and we are always writing new stuff there that gets sent right to you, if you are a friend.
So why not fan us by texting “Fan TheMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 right from your cell phone and you will instantly be added as a fan or a friend on our Facebook page and we’re happy to have you. And while you’re snooping around on the web, head on over to MoneyPit.com and you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon.
And I’ve got one here from Bill who writes: “I own a 1955 home. I pulled up a corner of the carpet and padding to find wood floors but there seems to be some padding sticking to the floor and the nail holes from the nail strips around the outside edges. I read that many people have gone back to their underlying hardwoods. Is this a big or expensive project?”
TOM: Not necessarily and I’ve got to tell you, a 1955 home is a really good year for houses. I’ll tell you why because – first of all, you’ve got the hardwood floor standard in the house. It’s good-quality hardwood floor.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) What were they using around that time period?
TOM: For what? For floors?
LESLIE: For flooring, yeah.
TOM: Oak. Oak. English red oak, mostly. And if you look at the quality of it, you know, long pieces; not a lot of knots, that kind of stuff. High quality. And then they immediately covered it up with carpet, which I never got but that’s just the way they did it. But thank goodness because now it’s been covered by that great drop cloth for all these years. (Leslie chuckles)
So you pull it up and you find that you’ve got some old, rubber padding that’s sticking to it and that sort of thing. You’ve got to scrape it up; I mean, any way you can get that old padding up, just do it. Scrape it as much – as best you can. Then, have a crew come in and sand the floor. Don’t do it yourself; don’t rent the sander unless you handle a belt sander, a floor belt sander, every single day, with expertise.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) With expertise.
TOM: You will not be happy; you will ruin the floor. But somebody does it every day will sand that floor for around a dollar a square foot, maybe a little more in some areas of the country, and it’s definitely worth it. And then you can finish it yourself.
And as far as those holes around the edge, just get some oak filler and fill them in. That’s from the tackless, which is that nailing strip that the carpet is attached to.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Which holds the carpet, yeah.
TOM: And that carpet – I mean, that wood floor can look fantastic. When we moved into our house, there was an orange shag carpet that had been down forever. I don’t know what my folks were thinking when they put this down.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) You can’t blame anybody else; it was your family’s house.
TOM: It’s a family house but as soon as they left, headed down the street, I yanked it out. (chuckles) I found this gorgeous Douglas fir floor underneath. So, much like the hardwood floor except it’s actually a soft wood; we were able to totally refinish it and it looks great.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Connie who writes: “My roof is only about three years old. I’ve noticed moss and my husband said the shingles are starting to lift up because of the moss. We have gotten a lot of advice on what to do but they’re not sure about the best way to remove it.”
Would it lift up a shingle if you’ve got severe moss growth?
TOM: (overlapping voices) You know, if it grows thick enough, it can push the shingle up and break the shingle. It rarely causes any damage; it’s more of a visual thing than anything else.
But there are a couple of things that you need to do, Connie. First of all, if you’ve got a lot of moss on the roof, I’m going to suspect that you have a lot of shade. So you do want to trim back trees because sunlight is the best mildicide out there, in terms of keeping that in check. So trim back trees so you have more sunshine there.
Then, you’re going to want to treat the entire roof surface with an oxygenated bleach, because that will kill the moss. Spray it on there. A pump-up sprayer works really good; a garden sprayer. Let it sit for 10, 15 minutes and then rinse it off. You might need to gently brush it like with a broom but, of course, remember, we’re talking about a potentially slippery solution here on a sloping roof and we have the whole gravity thing to consider. So you need to be very careful about how you do this. But when you’re done, you’ll have a very clean roof.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And once it’s clean, like Tom said, the sunlight is the best way to prevent it from coming back. So good luck with that new roof. You shouldn’t have to replace it already; it’s only three.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve shared a single tip or two (Leslie chuckles) that can help you improve your money pit; turning it from house to home to castle.
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 2010 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.)