Sump Pump Maintenance, Fall Fix Ups, DIY Hardscaping and more
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 Labor Day Weekend, everybody. To us, that means you get an extra day to labor on a home improvement project. We can make that labor a bit easier if you call us first at 888-666-3974. Because that’s what we do. We’re here to help you get those jobs done. And we will have some suggestions on the best way to approach these projects, perhaps some advice on the right products to use to get them done and generally how to make your life a bit easier when it comes to taking care of your house.
Coming up, also, on today’s program, have you ever noticed that the storms that are late in summer about now and early on in the fall can be the worst? Well, that’s why now is the best time to make sure your house is storm-ready. We’ll have some tips on how to do just that, including how to make sure your sump pump is ready to handle that wet weather.
LESLIE: And also ahead, have you dreamed of hiring a pro to create a beautifully landscaped backyard patio but you wake up at the thought of the cost? Well, you can create a professional look, on a budget, with the right stone products. We’ll tell you what they are, a little later.
TOM: And Labor Day signals the end of summer as we know it but the cooler temperatures and free weekends also make it the perfect time to take on some fall fix-ups, perhaps, that you’ve been putting off. We’re going to have some tips on which ones save money and help you get your home ready for winter, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep, including the new Quick-Clean Disinfectant.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $50. Going out to one caller that reaches us on today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, so let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Bob in Illinois is on the line and working on a kitchen makeover. What can we do for you?
BOB: Oh, we’ve got kitchen cabinets – they’re probably close to 30 years old – and we’re wanting to remodel our kitchen and I’m wanting to strip them down. And I was just wondering what was the best way – what to use to do it with.
TOM: Well, the good news is that 30-year-old cabinets are usually very, very well-built. You can’t really strip down a 10-year-old cabinet, because they pretty much fall apart. But if it’s a 30-year-old plywood cabinet, you can definitely strip it.
Now, what do you want to do after you strip it? Do you want to paint it or do you want to go with like a clear coating?
BOB: I’d like to go with a clear coating on it. Maybe put a pecan finish on it or something.
LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Are they just stained or are they painted?
BOB: No, they’re just stained.
TOM: It’s hard to change the color of a stained cabinet. I’m just telling you just be prepared for that. But what you might want to do is use a good-quality stripper. Like Rock Miracle, for example, is a good one.
LESLIE: Yeah. Another thing that’s good to do is head over to your local mom-and-pop paint shop, because sometimes there are newer products that are out there.
I was just getting some wallpaper paste but in that section, there were some really nice paint strippers. They apply a little differently, they go on more easily, they work more quickly. So I always just pop into the shop to sort of see what they’ve got in there that they’ve worked with.
But Tom and I have both used Rock Miracle and I like that because it goes on more like a paste, so you can really see where it is, you can see it start to work. And I guess it depends on how much stain is on there, how dirty they are.
I would start by giving them a good cleaning. Then make sure they’re dried very well, then put the stripper on them. Follow the directions. And you’re going to want to use a wire brush and a paint scraper. And that’s going to get that finish off of there.
Now, it’s important to work on them on a flat surface, so take all the doors and drawer fronts off. Label them as you take them down, with a piece of tape on the back side of the cabinet door and one on the cabinet box itself so that you know exactly where things go. Leave the hinges on the box sides so that you can have the doors flat. These are things that are just tricks of the trade that will help you be more successful.
And if your doors are full overlay – are they or are they not?
BOB: Are they what now?
LESLIE: When your cabinet door closes, do you see any of the cabinet box around it, like a frame? Or does the door cover it?
BOB: Yeah, it does; it flushes up against the frame of the cabinet.
LESLIE: So, that’s a blessing and a curse. Because then you can ignore the box or you can also work on the box while it’s in place, to strip that down, as well. And in that case, the Rock Miracle is really good because it’s really thick, so it’ll stay on in a vertical position, as well. So, those are some good things.
And you may have to apply it more than once, depending on how well-adhered your stain currently is. I mean you’ve really got to see. And then keep in mind that depending on the species of wood, the type of color that you might get from the stain that you’ve selected to go on there might be a little different. So you might want to work on a back side or a smaller area, just so you can see how it will react and what color you’ll actually end up with.
BOB: Thank you, then.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pam in Vermont is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
PAM: I have an oak staircase. You walk in my front door and the slate – there’s a slate walk with an entryway and then there’s an oak staircase going upstairs. It’s really pretty but I’m scared to death kids are going to just slide right down the whole staircase and end up on the rock. I found some spray stuff. And it looks like they put sand in clear paint. And I’m wondering, if I put that on, am I going to ruin the staircase?
TOM: There’s a line of products called SlipDoctor and they make products for wood, for vinyl, for stone. And with any of those products, what I would suggest you do – because you want to make sure that it’s going to clean well after it’s on, it’s not going to attract dirt. So, try it in an inconspicuous area, like maybe your neighbor’s house?
PAM: I could do that.
TOM: And see how it works. No, try it like, I don’t know, in a closet or even take – get a board, finish it with urethane and spray it on the board, see what it looks like. And really test it out before you commit your staircase to it.
LESLIE: Yeah, my concern is that – how difficult would it be to clean? It’s like you’re taking, oh, a shiny, wood surface and now making it textured. Is dust and dirt going to stick in there? But it’s a staircase, so how much do you get there? You’ve really got to give it a test run.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky all the time, you know? You wouldn’t be able to dust.
PAM: No, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky but I also want to make sure that they – my kids are barefoot half the time, too, so I want to make sure they can still walk on it.
TOM: Yeah. And the other thing that you can consider doing, though, is you could add a carpet runner right down the middle of the stairs. Have it professionally installed so that the center of the step has a carpet runner on it and the sides are still exposed. That’s kind of the way we did our staircase in an 1800s house and it takes that issue away. It’s not slippery. You walk up the carpet in the middle of the stairs and you can still see the finished railing on the edge of the step – the edge of the treads.
PAM: Yeah. So I think maybe that would be a good solution if the other doesn’t work.
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 home repair or your home improvement question 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Whenever you have a question about what you are working on, we can give you a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, storms that pop up late summer and early fall can be the most severe and also the most damaging, as we learned right here when Hurricane Sandy struck. We’ll have some tips on how you can stay storm-ready well into the season, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
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: Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and you’ll get your name tossed into The Money Pit hard hat. Because we’re giving away the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial. It also features the Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.
LESLIE: That’s right. You’re going to get the Quick-Clean Disinfectant, which is an all-purpose home cleaning product that you can use on most non-porous surfaces. It’s going to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and kills most viruses in under 2 minutes, which makes it perfect for the kitchen and bath. You can visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Nebraska where Dan is on the line with a mold situation. What’s going on?
DAN: So I put up a pole building three years ago, and it’s a 48×36 and 10-foot sidewall. And I finished off about 700 square feet on the inside and sheetrocked it, put R30 in the ceiling, R19 on the walls. And it’s got a 4-inch slab concrete base to it.
And this spring, I went out there and I had mold all over everything. And I don’t know what’s causing that. The first two years I never had a bit of problem.
TOM: Well, it’s been a very wet year. Now, you have no heat in this building, I presume?
DAN: I heat the bathroom, which is about 8×10 during the winter here in Nebraska, and the rest I don’t heat.
TOM: Well, look, mold needs three things to survive: it needs moisture, it needs air and it needs food. And all those things are available in that pole building. Your walls are made of drywall, I presume?
DAN: Yes, sir. Sheetrock. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah, right. Drywall, yeah. So the paper facing, that is terrific mold food. And you have moisture there and you have plenty of air and you’re not heating it, so the humidity is always pretty high. And that’s why you’re growing mold. So, you need to at least ventilate that building. If you’re not going to heat it, just keep moving the air through it so it doesn’t – the humidity doesn’t become quite as high. But at this point, if you’ve got all that mold, that has to be treated.
DAN: Yeah. And I’ve done that. I’ve gotten that all out of there, right now, but I – and I put a dehumidifier in there just to …
TOM: OK. Well, that will help.
DAN: And it took me like 2½ days and I got it down to like 30 percent, so it came right down. Do I need to seal the floor? The concrete floor in there?
TOM: I don’t think that that’s necessarily the cause of the problem. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to seal the floor but I think that this is just a condition of the fact that you’ve got a damp building there with no central heating system, with plenty of drywall, plenty of moisture and plenty of air. So, just because of the conditions, the mold is going to grow.
Now, there were other ways that you could have constructed these walls. For example, there’s a product called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall that’s specifically designed not to grow mold, because it’s not organic. But with paper-face, in an un-heating building like that, I’m not surprised that it grew. Well, I am surprised it took two years but it might just be that it was just so moist this last year that it really took off.
DAN: How do I go ahead and vent that though?
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would probably have a fan in there that was based on the humidistats so when the humidity got really high, that it would kick on and draw air out of that building. Kind of like having an attic fan but on a humidistat instead of the thermostat, right?
That plus the dehumidifier should help you keep the moisture to a minimum.
But keep an eye out for mold because, you know, once it gets started, then it really can take off quickly and it sounds like that’s happened in this case. So if you catch it sooner than later, you’re going to be much better off.
DAN: Yes. I want to try to eliminate it completely, so I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. And when you do find the mold, when it gets there, you make sure you treat it properly so that you kill the mold spores. Don’t just try to scrub it off, because it’ll come right back. You’ve got to treat it to kill the mold spores, then clean off the rest.
Alright, Dan? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, homeowners across much of the country have experienced heavy rains and some flooding this summer. And when the forecast calls for severe weather, it’s important to make sure that you’re ready for the storm. Here’s a tip to help you do just that, presented by KOHLER Generators.
TOM: Homes with basements should have sump pumps. And they should have the sump pumps installed so that you can remove the excessive groundwater that often forms after a storm. But it’s also important to make sure that system is in working order before the storm strikes.
Now, in some cases, the sump pump may not have run for months, maybe years. Which is a good thing unless, of course, you need it.
So one thing you might want to do is test your sump pump. So, fill the sump with water from a hose and make sure that sump actually comes on – that pump actually comes on – and does the job it’s supposed to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, a failed system in the middle of a heavy rain could actually result in a flooded basement, which could cause damage to the floor or the walls or a whole host of personal items that, of course, you’re storing down there. And most sump pumps are going to run on electricity, so battery backup is an excellent idea. But most backup batteries are only going to run for a limited time. But a standby generator is going to keep your sump pump running if a major storm knocks out power for an extended period of time.
TOM: Yeah, that’s why we strongly recommend standby generators. It really takes care of not only your sump pump but your refrigerator, your lights, all the important things that you need to operate when your power gets knocked out.
And this Severe Weather Tip is presented by KOHLER Generators. Running on clean propane or natural gas, a KOHLER Standby Generator is permanently installed outside your home and comes on automatically within seconds of a power outage. To learn more, visit KOHLERGenerators.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Norma from Delaware on the line who wants to know what size pipes you need to get good pressure in the bathroom.
Norma, that sounds like a personal question. What’s going on at your money pit?
NORMA: OK. I’m going to install a shower panel.
NORMA: And in order to get good – the right pressure, how big do the pipes need to be?
TOM: Right. You said you wanted to install a shower panel? So is this one of these units where it comes in and then fans out to multiple spray heads?
NORMA: Yeah, the jets, right.
TOM: How is your water pressure right now?
NORMA: Pretty good. Well, my house is about eight years old.
TOM: Oh, if it’s only eight years old and you have pretty good water pressure, you should be OK with this. I will say, though, that the water pressure coming out of multiple showerheads is not going to be as invigorating as coming out of a single showerhead. So, it’s going to give you good coverage but it may not be as strong.
And I don’t think there’s much that you can do about that. If you’ve got normal street pressure, that’s how those shower-panel units are designed to work. But just be mindful that it’s not likely to be as strong when it’s going to come out of multiple heads, because you basically just need more water to do that.
NORMA: Oh, OK. Well, I inquired with the builder and he told me that from the basement to the shower floor, I have three-quarter pipes. And then from the floor to the showerhead, ½-inch.
TOM: And that’s typical. That’s typical. So, that doesn’t change anything.
NORMA: Oh, OK. Alright. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lester in Tennessee is on the line with a squeaky, noisy floor situation. Tell us what’s going on.
LESTER: Well, I’ve got some – a split-level house. And the master bedroom and the garage are on the ground floor and right above the – on the second floor, the floorboards squeak when you walk. It’s carpeted flooring and as you walk across the floor, you can tell exactly where that person is heading and what they’re doing, based on the squeak in the floor.
And because it’s over the master bedroom, my wife has a hard time sleeping when I’m upstairs walking around and vice versa. So we need a resolution.
LESLIE: So, now, the reason why you’re getting a squeaky noise is because there’s some movement between the subfloor and the joist. So when somebody steps now, you’ve got nails that have backed up and you’ve got the subfloor and the joist sort of rubbing together, which is giving you that squeaky sound.
Now, with the carpet, totally not the end of the world. You do need to be able to identify, though, where those squeaks are coming from. And you’ll sort of have to do this in tandem: one person in the master bedroom, one person upstairs sort of stepping so you can kind of isolate where the sound is.
And once you know where that sound is coming from, now you have to locate exactly where that joist is under the carpet and under the subfloor, because what you need to do is reattach that subfloor to that joist. And you can do that, once you know exactly where everything is, with a nail. That’s totally fine and you’ll have to use a nail, unfortunately, because of the carpet situation.
And you’ll hammer it, actually, through the carpet, reattaching the joist and the sheathing. And then once you’ve got that all put together, you sort of grab the rug by the nap and lift up and you’ll sort of pop that nail through the carpet and just – it’ll still do its job of connecting the joist to the underlayment. Does that make sense?
TOM: And the type of nail that you use is important. You want to use a galvanized finish nail. Galvanized because it’s rough on the outside and has more holding power. And finish nail because it has the smallest kind of head. And this way, the nail can be driven through the carpet or the carpet can be pulled up through the nail head and you won’t see it when it’s done.
And one more tip. When you’re looking for that floor joist, you could use one of the newer – like the Stanley stud sensors that are available today. Super-accurate and they can go pretty deep into a floor. So they’ll go through the carpet, through the subfloor to locate exactly where those joists are. Because it’s really critical that when you place that nail, you know that you’re going to hit the floor joist underneath.
LESTER: OK, great. And those are new on the market? Because I have some older ones. You think I need to buy something or rent something?
TOM: The stud sensors?
TOM: Yeah, well, they’re new and they’re pretty expensive – they start at about 20 bucks – but you can certainly try the one you have. And if you – if it doesn’t work, then you can go out and pick up a new one.
LESTER: Twenty bucks is probably worth the sleeping my wife’s not getting.
TOM: Exactly. Lester, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, are you envious of those terraced backyards with several levels of entertainment possibilities? Are you thinking that they just cost a fortune? Not if you do the work yourself. We’re going to teach you how, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America’s made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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 we are here to help you with your home improvement project, so help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Last summer, I repainted the exterior of my house and I used quite a few nails to kind of shore up some different things. I also fixed a window. And after I repainted, I used galvanized nails. But this year, I already have a lot of bleeding of rust from the nails coming through. So I also did some caulking between the pieces of wood and that seems to be peeling out already. So I was just wondering if there was something that I could, you know, go over the heads of the nails with: something quick, something that I didn’t have to redo the whole side of the house.
TOM: When you did the side of the house last summer, did you prime it or did you just put the paint over the old paint?
BRIAN: I put lots of primer.
TOM: Lots of primer?
TOM: What kind of primer? Like a – was it a latex primer? Oil primer? What was it?
BRIAN: Gosh, I don’t know that. I didn’t buy the paint but we put a …
TOM: But you did prime. You primed over those nail heads?
BRIAN: Yes, we did. Yes.
TOM: And it’s coming through. Because, generally – well, you say you used galvanized, so that’s good. Was this cedar siding?
BRIAN: No. It’s just conventional (inaudible at 0:21:08).
TOM: Standard. Well, unfortunately, it seems like the nails – the galvanized coating on the nails – didn’t really stand up very well. But generally, the advice is this: when you finish nailing off that, you need to spot-prime those nail heads. But if you’re telling me you’ve already spot-primed them and the stain’s coming right through, then I’m not really sure that we have any other suggestions for you.
There are differences in the quality of primers. I would always recommend an oil-based primer over a latex primer when I have a stain issue to deal with, because it tends to seal it in better. So, that’s the only additional thing you might want to try is to sand those down to the heads and then touch them up with an oil-based primer and paint them again.
BRIAN: Alright. Well, I guess that answered my question.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Maryland is on the line with wood-eating bees. Aaah!
Mary, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
MARY: My porch is being attacked by wood bees and it has been under this attack for, actually, a couple years now.
MARY: And there’s sawdust on the floor and there’s holes in the ceiling. And I would like to know if there’s some way that I could get rid of them without actually killing them.
TOM: Have you tried to ask nicely?
MARY: I have. I really have. In fact, I even took some mosquito spray out and thought maybe if I just sprayed around the holes, they wouldn’t like that and would go away but …
TOM: Yeah, well, unfortunately, the answer is no. What you’re talking about is carpenter bees. And once they find a place that they like, they will come back there over and over and over again, because it’s very tasty.
So, your options are to have them sprayed with an insecticide. They use a powdery insecticide that they spray into the holes that will permanently discourage them from coming back, because it will kill them. But there’s nests in there and that’s what – that’s why they’re going in. They’re drilling those holes to go in and lay eggs, so they’re going to keep coming back.
The other thing to think about doing is if you want to do some construction work – because you can change the wood areas of the – that they’re eating to a composite material, like AZEK. I did that on a garage that we have on our property. It looks like wood; it looks like sort of that white pine trim that we see around but it’s a composite. It’s made out of CPC: the same kind of plastic that plumbing pipes are made out of. But it’s got air cells in it, so it really cuts and looks like wood. You can even paint it.
And once I did that, it was funny: the carpenter bees kept going back to it because they thought it was wood, too. But I can imagine they’re thinking, “Looks like wood. Doesn’t taste like wood.” And once they figured out that it wasn’t wood, they never came back again.
MARY: Oh, wow. Well, that’s a good thing.
TOM: Alright? So check it out online. It’s AZEK – A-Z-E-K – .com. And thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Florida has an interesting question that probably has an equally interesting story that goes with it.
How on Earth did you spill a milkshake on your television, sir?
BILL: Well, it’s not a – you know the old folks’ drink, Ensure?
BILL: OK. It’s called – and it’s a chocolate mix. And I’m sitting here on my recliner. About a week ago, I had some before I went to bed and I had about a ¼-inch back in the glass and it was on the table. And somehow, during the night, the glass went over and it hit the floor, it splattered all in front of the TV and then it splattered up onto the TV screen. As I explained, I think it’s an Emerson. I’m not sure if it is or not; I don’t have the book on it. It was given to me, the TV, about a year ago from my son, who brought it down from Pennsylvania in his van.
It’s a beautiful set. It must weigh 300 or 400 pounds on wheels.
TOM: Wow. So it’s really old, it’s really heavy and the manufacturer, you don’t think maybe they’re going to be any help with any cleaning tips on this?
BILL: I have no idea. I don’t have the book.
TOM: So, look, with the internet being what it is, what I’d first do is try to Google the set, see if there is – you’d be surprised how many owner’s manuals there are out for old appliances.
I was looking, for example, last week – I have a phone system at my house and I had – was looking for the manual on it because I needed to reprogram something and it’s 10, 12 years old. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I found it online, piece of cake. People there – apparently, there are people out there that do nothing but copy paper manuals and turn them into PDFs where you can find them online. So I’d first search for it online or try to get in touch with the manufacturer, because this is an unusual situation.
BILL: Yeah, I’ll see if I can tie down the manufacturer.
TOM: And that’s the best way to try to get to the bottom of it and make the best decision on what you can possibly use here.
Does this screen detach from the TV at all?
BILL: If it does, I don’t know how.
TOM: OK. Well, I would start by trying to find the owner’s manual, see if there’s cleaning instructions there. Get in touch with the manufacturer and take it from there, OK, Bill?
BILL: OK. I’ll do that. I appreciate your call back and I’ll follow up with that.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, do you have a sloped yard that perhaps makes landscaping a problem? Well you won’t have to worry if you add a retaining wall. We’ll have tips on how to do this yourself, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and you’ll get your name tossed into the hard hat for our giveaway this hour. We’ve got the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial, which features the Zep Quick Clean and other great Zep home cleaning products.
LESLIE: Yeah. The Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose home cleaning product that you can use on most non-porous surfaces. And it’s going to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and kills most viruses in under 2 minutes, so it’s perfect for your kitchen and your bathroom.
TOM: Visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more. The number to call here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jenny in Kentucky on the line with a tiling question. How can we help you?
JENNY: I wanted to know if I could put my ceramic tile right down on top of my linoleum. Because when I watch all those DIY shows, it looks like they put some type of mat underneath the linoleum – or underneath the tile. And so I thought I could save that step and just use the …
TOM: No, no, no, no, no. No, nice try but no, not quite so easy. You have to put down a tile backer. And so you can put a tile backer down on top of the linoleum; you don’t have to tear linoleum out. Of course, it’s all – it all builds up and it all counts in terms of thickness. But you have to put a tile backer down first and then you could put the tile on top – the ceramic tile on top of that.
JENNY: OK. But I don’t need to tear it up?
LESLIE: If you’ve got the clearance, Jenny, meaning in your kitchen or wherever you’re putting this, you’ve got room with the toe-kick of your counters – I mean of your cabinets and your dishwasher and your refrigerator – to add the extra thickness of that tile backer, the adhesive and then the tile, then absolutely you can go right on top of the linoleum. But if it seems like that inch to 2 inches is going to get tricky, you might need to rip up what’s there.
JENNY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Jenny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, have you ever spotted a good-looking backyard that makes you green with envy? Perhaps it’s got some beautifully terraced landscaping, some retaining walls or some raised planters with flowers and shrubs in full bloom? Well, you can have that professional look in your landscaping plan without a pro and without spending a boatload of cash. You just need the right products and a little guidance.
LESLIE: That’s right. That’s where our sponsor Pavestone comes in. They’ve got a product called the Windsor Stone Retaining-Wall System. It’s a low-maintenance, easy-to-install wall block, which are really a beautiful solution for projects, from gardens and tree rings to curved walls and terraces.
TOM: Yep. And when you visit Pavetone.com, you’ll find detailed how-to videos with step-by-step installation instructions. Basically, what you need to do is prep the sight. You prepare the base, you lay the stones. You first – you mark off the area with spray paint, which helps you kind of visualize what the space is going to look like. Then you stake out the area, you run a string for the height. Use a string level. It’s really pretty simple stuff.
LESLIE: Yeah. And if your finished wall is going to be taller than three layers, that first layer should be completely buried. Now, if it’s going to be less than three layers tall, only bury about 2 to 3 inches of that first layer of stone. You can dig out a trench, tamp down the area and prepare the base by pouring some sand. Then use a level to make sure that that base is even. And when laying the stones, you want to stagger them so that your joints don’t line up.
TOM: Yep. And your yard will be the envy of everyone. You can learn more about the Windsor Stone Retaining-Wall System at Pavestone.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Michigan where Roger has got a door problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
ROGER: Yeah, I have a mid-70s, ranch-style house. It has all maple doors on the interior. And we’re just putting paint on here for the first time. It’s been white all along and I’m putting color into it and these doors just don’t look right. And I wondered what kind of alternative I have to making them look different, besides swapping them out for six panels or whatever and exchanging it all out. But I don’t want to go to that expense.
TOM: OK. So the doors are wood doors. And have they ever been painted before or are they finished clear?
ROGER: No, they’re finished, though, with maple – they’re maple-pressed doors or whatever or – I don’t know what they called them back then but …
TOM: And so, you say they don’t look right against the painted walls? Is that your concern?
ROGER: They might to somebody but I just – I’m doing the trim in bright white and it just doesn’t look right with the colors on the walls and everything.
TOM: Typically, you would not do the trim; the trim would be natural, as well.
ROGER: Well, it would have been, yeah, but that’s not how the house was originated. Yeah, that would be a way to do it is just change out the trim but that’s not …
TOM: Well, that’s a lot less work than changing out the doors. And you would have a lot of options if you were to change out the trim.
So, it may not look right to you because you have painted trim and you have a clear-finish door. But if the trim is really the missing perimeter to this that’s going to frame it all in there nicely, why don’t – you could do this. Why don’t you go pick up a couple of pieces of trim and lightly tack them around the door, without even taking off the old stuff. Just kind of stick it up there, step back, take a look at it and see if it starts to make more sense to you visually.
ROGER: That’s a good idea.
TOM: Alright? Take small steps that way.
And the other thing to keep in mind when you’re doing a project like this, Gene, is just remember once you paint, it’s going to look different. So that’s going to take a certain amount of getting used to.
ROGER: You’re right about that, also.
TOM: Alright? So I would go out and pick up some trim, tack it up there, see how it looks. Maybe try a complimentary color? You could do a two-tone, something like that. And see if that does the trick for you, OK?
ROGER: That’s a good idea.
TOM: And good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, you enjoyed a summer of kicking back and now it’s time to get back on that DIY wagon. We’re going to give you some fall fix-ups that you should be thinking about now, after this.
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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: Give us a call, right now, or post your question in The Money Pit’s Community section, just like Colin did.
LESLIE: Alright. And Colin writes, “I’m putting my house on the market in a few months. It’s in pretty good shape and I’ll be following all of the advice about cleaning and decluttering. I’ve got about $1,500 set aside for any additional improvements. My question is this: should I use that money to fix up an aging deck, replace the kitchen counters with natural stone or replace a bath vanity and sink that are dated and somewhat deteriorated? My deck is about 12×20 and I only have about 20 linear feet of kitchen counter space.”
Twenty linear feet of kitchen counter space is going to be way over $1,500 if you’re going with the natural stone. I mean that’s usually anywhere between $30 to $50 a linear foot installed, and that’s a conservative estimate, I think.
TOM: Yeah. So I tell you what, I’m not sure I would rush out and do anything, right now, except for the cleaning and decluttering and perhaps painting. You want to make sure your house looks clean, looks neutral so that a new buyer can appreciate having their stuff in that space. So, I wouldn’t think about maybe doing any repairs right now.
I would just try to clean it up and make it look as good as you can. Because after the new buyer’s home inspector comes in, there may be some things that they want to request you do. In that case, you can fix them if they’re repair-oriented.
Now, in terms of the outside, I would spend some time fixing up that deck and making it look inviting. Because remember, outdoor living is really big with home buyers these days, so I think it’s definitely worth taking some time to getting that space looking good. And that’s not going to cost you anywhere near 1,500 bucks.
LESLIE: Yeah. Really, if you give your deck a good cleaning, clean up any sort of peeling paints, maybe put a new coat of finish on it once everything dries out, that could really be the boost there that makes the outdoor space look fantastic. If you have some money left over, if you spring for a couple of outdoor seating options just to make it look cozy, that should do the trick.
TOM: So the weather’s cooling down, your calendar is opening up and you’re looking around at everything that needs to be done before the winter chill sets in? Well, Leslie has some tips on weekend projects that make the most of September’s mild temperatures, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, temperature-wise, September is the perfect month for tackling projects indoors and out. But you’ve got the whole month, so resist the urge to let Labor Day live up to its name. Use the holiday to just kick back, relax. But once Labor Day is over, game on.
Now, the weekend after Labor Day is ideal for making sure that your water heater is good for hot showers all winter long. So to keep it running efficiently, you want to drain two gallons of water from your tank heater twice a year. Don’t tackle this, though, without making sure the heater is not only powered off but you give it a full hour to cool down. Then, if you want, you head over to MoneyPit.com and search “September weekend projects.” We’re going to give you a whole list of safety tips there.
Now, by mid-September, your heating bills are right around the corner and a fresh furnace filter is key to keeping those bills low and temperatures high. And if you haven’t done so in a while, now is the time to get on a schedule. Furnace filters need to be changed monthly. Set an alarm, write it on the calendar. I don’t care what form you use, just make sure it gets done.
And since you’re going to be closing those windows and doors for good, use the end of September to clean your house the natural way. Vinegar and water work great on windows and wood floors. Salt and baking soda, you can make a paste with that and you can use it as a scouring cleanser. Olive oil and lemon juice is a great chemical-free furniture polish.
So get cleaning, get ready. Because before you know it, we’re going to be talking snow removal.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, is your old toilet wasting water with every flush? You can actually change it out for a more efficient model without calling a plumber. We’ll have tips on replacing the toilet yourself, on the next edition of The 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 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.)