5 Fast Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal & More

  • curb appeal
  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On a beautiful spring weekend, we’re here to help you take on your home improvement projects, your décor projects, your outdoor living, kitchen remodeling, bath updating, sprinkler tuning. Whatever project is on your to-do list, we’d love to help you get it done, especially if you’ve got questions, you’re not sure what to do, what happens first, how to hire a pro. “Can I do it myself?” Pick up the phone and let’s start a conversation. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, are you looking for a fun and easy spring project that can add some instant curb appeal to your space? We’re going to have five that’ll do just that, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And have you ever opened an electric bill and been shocked? Well, you’re thinking, “How can this be possible and where is all that electricity going?” We’re going to share tips on a new product that can help you figure out a lot about how you’re using your electricity and how you can use less of it.

    TOM: And as you look around your home, are cracks and holes and nail pops taking away from your otherwise well-maintained space? It might be just giving away your home’s age. We’re going to have some tips on how to fix those, once and for all, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And if you’re doing your share of spring cleaning, we’re giving away a great tool that can help blast dirt and grime. It’s the new Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer. It’s available at Lowe’s for $169 but we’ve got one to give away, right now, to one lucky listener who calls in with their home improvement question. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to it. Leslie, who’s first?

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

    KELLY: Yeah, I have a Craftsman-style home and it has ridge vents. But I had an energy audit just this spring and the energy audit said, “Kelly, you don’t have any soffit vents in your – around your eaves.”

    TOM: Yeah. Hmm.

    KELLY: Well, I don’t really have eaves. All of my roof ends in these exposed rafters. It does have gables and so he said, “You need to vent this house. Your house – your attic is not properly ventilated because you don’t have any way for the air to get in the bottom.”

    TOM: OK. So you have no soffit. Is that correct? Basically, it terminates?

    KELLY: That’s correct.

    TOM: So here’s the solution, OK? There’s a type of vent called a drip-edge vent. And what a drip-edge vent does is it essentially extends the roof line by all of about 2 inches. And that 2 inch becomes an overhang at the edge that provides the intake ventilation for the soffit.

    So, if you go the website for AirVent.com – it’s the Air Vent Corporation – take a look at the product selection there. Look at the Drip-Edge Vent and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

    Now, to do this, you’re going to end up taking off the bottom course of shingles and maybe even putting two shingles in its place, because you’re going to have to actually physically extend the roof by a couple of inches. But done right, you will install that soffit that you don’t have and you won’t notice it from the outside. So you’re not going to physically notice a difference in terms of the architectural style of your house but you will provide that all-important space for intake ventilation.

    KELLY: OK. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lavonne in Iowa on the line with a floor-refinishing question. How can we help you today?

    LAVONNE: Yes. I have 1,350 square feet of engineered-hardwood floor. It has been refinished twice and you know what? It’s looking pretty tough. And I want to refinish it again and I’ve thought about doing a gel with a lacquer over the top of it. But I’m afraid if I sand it any more, I’m going to be into the plywood.

    TOM: You know, it’s very unusual that you’ve been able to refinish it once. Engineered floors have factory-applied finishes and they’re very difficult to refinish, which you may have discovered.

    One thing I can suggest, Lavonne, is this. Is the floor physically damaged or is it really just the finish is kind of worn a little bit?

    LAVONNE: You know what? There is some physical damage because of water issues, like where I had my Christmas tree, right? The ring, where it – because it wasn’t a very thick poly on it, I think.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LAVONNE: And then there’s scratches, of course.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s what you could do. What you could do is you could rent not a sander but a floor buffer. And you get a floor buffer with a sanding screen. So it’s a very fine screen that takes the place of sort of the buffing pads. And it will take off just the upper surface of the floor finish and kind of dull it out and smooth it out. And then on top of that, you can refinish it. So it doesn’t really sand the wood; it really just sands the finish, so to speak.

    LAVONNE: Right.

    TOM: And that might be enough for you to get a new finish to take. But I’ve got to tell you, you should just count your blessings because having refinished this two and now maybe three times, with engineered you’re really far exceeding what it’s designed to do. You’re treating this like it’s a solid hardwood and not an engineered hardwood.

    LAVONNE: I know. And you know what? I’ve priced out laying new over the top of it, engineered, because to – the cost to remove what’s already there, the existing, is out of this – out of the – it’s just out of the roof. And to lay over the top of it, is that wise to lay another engineered over the top of it?

    TOM: But that said, I don’t understand why somebody wants to charge you so much to take out what’s there. It’s not attached to the floor underneath. It’s not glued down, is it?

    LAVONNE: You know what? That’s what I don’t know. It’s the unknown.

    TOM: In most cases, you would not glue down engineered floor; it would float. And so if it’s floating, all you would do to remove it is you would set the depth of a circular saw to the thickness of the floor, you’d put a bunch of cuts across the floor in a grid-like pattern, you start prying it up and throwing it away. The only thing that’s hard to get out is where it gets to the edges under the molding. But it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to take up engineered floor, as long as it’s not glued.

    That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer over that.

    LAVONNE: So would you lay something in between? Would you float the floor or would you staple it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s always floated; engineered always floats. And a lot of engineered hardwoods today have a backer on them already, so they’re kind of cushiony.

    LAVONNE: We’re thinking about – we’re going to list the house. It’s a 5,800-square-foot house. It’s huge and it’s just my husband and I rattling around in this thing and so – you want to do something …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to list the house, you’re never going to return an investment by replacing the floor. My advice is to sand the floors with a floor buffer and a sanding screen, put another coat of urethane on it and then put the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, OK?

    LAVONNE: Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. 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. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: Just ahead, we’ve got five fast and easy makeovers you can do to give your home instant curb appeal. And that’s all coming up, after this.

    Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, it is officially the spring-cleaning season and it’s time to blast away all that dirt and grime that’s built up over the winter. So, we’re giving away a great tool to help you do just that. It’s the new Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer. And it’s available at Lowe’s for $169.

    TOM: Yeah, this is a great tool. It’s super convenient to use and it’s got a lot of very helpful features including, first of all, its cleaning power. It’s got a 13-amp motor and that delivers 1.1 gallons of water a minute. So, that’s a lot of water. It comes with five quick-connect nozzles and they store on board, which I love because those nozzles are so easy to lose. But with the quick-connect and the onboard storage, that’s just perfect. And this way, you can choose the perfect nozzle for whatever you’re cleaning.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The other thing that I like is that it has an onboard soap tank, also, so it makes it really easy to add the detergent. And the detergent really helps you with a lot of those cleaning projects, like the driveway and the deck, patios, walkways, your siding. You can even wash your car.

    Now, you’re going to find the Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer for the everyday price of $169 at your local Lowe’s home improvement store. But we are giving one away, right now, to one listener drawn at random. Make that you.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home décor or home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you might just be the winner of the new Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer.

    LESLIE: Tim in Virginia is dealing with some stuck windows. Tell us what’s going on.

    TIM: Hi. Run into an issue a lot of times, with some of the older homes that I have, with the windows. For some reason, they are painted shut or nailed shut. But I’d like to know how I can resolve that, as well as some of these windows being dual-pane windows with condensation already in them. Next to replacing them, what can I do to resolve that problem?

    TOM: Alright. Two separate issues. First of all, I presume we’re talking about old, wood windows being painted shut? Is that correct?

    TIM: That is correct.

    TOM: You’re going to need three things. You’re going to need a putty knife, a wood block and a hammer.

    Here’s what you do. First of all, you take the putty knife and you run it in between the wood window sash and the frame, all the way around, as many places as you can. Wherever you can get that in there, wiggle it in there, that will free it up.

    And you take the block of wood and from the inside, you put it on top of the sash and you take the hammer and you take a – make a quick rap. We’re actually driving the window down, as if you’re trying to close it more. Do that on both sides, on both ends. And what that quick rap does is it tends to break the paint seam that’s sticking it to the sides. So if you run the putty knife around and you take the block of wood, give it a quick rap downward, that should free up the bottom sash.

    A lot of people try to get their hands under the window and push up. That tends to pull the wood frame of the window apart. But if you give it a shot down, which is somewhat counterintuitive, that works very well.

    Now, as far as the windows that you’re dealing with that are thermal-pane and the seals are failed, can’t do anything about that. When they’re failed, they’re failed. And those windows would have to be replaced if you want them to be clear again.

    TIM: OK, OK. Alright. I will certainly put that to use, probably within the next week or so, with the new unit that I just purchased. Thank you so very much.

    TOM: Well, we all know curb appeal is king, so always a good idea for spring fix-ups, especially with the longer days and the warmer weather we’re all enjoying this time of year. So, if you want some ideas where to start, we’ve got a list of five quick and easy makeovers that you can take on this weekend.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, let’s talk about your front door. Now, it’s the main focal point for curb appeal, so you want to make sure that it sparkles with welcome. You can repaint it or refinish the surface, replace the hardware – the knobs, the locks – touch up all the surrounding trim. That’s a really easy list of fix-ups that can just boost those first impressions.

    TOM: Now, the next thing you can do is accessorize. You want to freshen your home’s first impression with an up-to-date doormat, maybe a stylish address plate or maybe some new house numbers and a brand-new mailbox. You could also think about adding a small container garden. I mean it might be as simple as a few containers right around the door. Add some bright, green bushes like arborvitaes and maybe some flowering plants. It really makes a beautiful and very organic welcome to your home.

    LESLIE: Now, next, let’s talk about lighting. You have to make sure you’ve got a well-lit pathway and you can do that with a very simple lighting kit. If porch lighting is starting to look tired, you can replace those fixtures with modern classics that maybe have the wattage you need to enhance safety but also highlight the façade and features.

    Next, go ahead and spruce up your landscape by adding some seasonal color. You know, it doesn’t have to be everywhere; it can be strategic plantings that add interest and create focal points. You also want to be sure that you shop for species that are native to your climate zone and that are more drought-resistant.

    TOM: Finally, keep that lawn lush. For green throughout the season, make sure you reseed your lawn’s rough patches and fertilize them. And if you’re dealing with weeds, just apply Bonide’s Weed B Gon and be sure to water that new landscape with an irrigation system or sprinklers, driven by a digital timer. That’s going to help you create a very water-wise routine, not waste a lot of water and assure that the grass gets just what it needs to grow healthy and green.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Pat in Georgia who needs some help with a cleaning project. What’s going on?

    PAT: I have granite countertops. And I am wondering if there is an advantage to using the store-bought cleaners versus a homemade cleaner. And what would the homemade cleaner be?

    TOM: So I guess you don’t have a recipe for a homemade cleaner. Is that what you’re saying?

    PAT: No, I don’t.

    TOM: If you happen to run across one that you like, tell us about it because I have not found one. But I will say that the commercial cleaners are usually very well-developed and are designed to give you a longer-term protection than you can probably get out of anything that you could mix up on your own countertop.

    There’s a website called StoneCare.com that specializes in these types of products. And our listeners have always had good success with them, so I would take a look at that website.

    But the thing about granite tops is a lot of folks buy them and think, “Well, it’s stone. I’m not going to have to do much work to the top.” But the truth is it’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Pat?

    PAT: It very certainly is.

    TOM: It really is. And if you don’t stay on top of it, it gets pretty nasty-looking. So, you are going to have to invest in some regular cleaning and I would just buy a good-quality product from a good brand manufacturer and just accept it as reality, OK?

    PAT: Thank you so very much.

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

    LESLIE: Richard in Ohio is living in a pretty drafty house. Join the club. Tell me what’s going on.

    RICHARD: Insulation contractor came and blew cellulose insulation in the walls. Left a lot of voids in it, which caused forced drafts. I had infrared-camera work done and the floors are like 31 degrees and about 45 degrees waist-high. And I can’t seem to figure out what’s going on here or what to do about it. However, I found a physics teacher that restores old homes. She told me that if you leave a void in an insulation – insulated wall– it will cause a forced draft. [Be creating] (ph) quite a few forced drafts in here.

    TOM: Well, maybe, maybe not but here’s the thing. First of all, you had blown-in insulation done and you followed that up with an infrared-camera inspection. I’m guessing you didn’t do that right after the installer was done, correct? You did this later on to try to figure out why it was still cold in the house?

    RICHARD: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s very difficult to install blown-in insulation in a wall and do it correctly, so we’ve heard this before. The best installers will take a long time to make sure it gets in just right. They put in just the right amount and they knew how to get it in every bay and then they use an infrared camera to figure out if they’ve missed anything. So it sounds to me like now we’ve got a real mess in the outside wall. We don’t know what’s insulated, what’s not insulated.

    Let’s set that aside for right now and cover two other very important basics. Number one is the attic. You want to make sure that you have enough insulation in your attic because if you can trap the heat from escaping from the attic, which is where most of the heat leaves the house, you may find that it’s going to make you more comfortable.

    In the attics of Ohio, where you’re located, you’re going to need at least 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation. Most people don’t have that much. But that is what the Department of Energy would recommend. So if you don’t have that much insulation, the first thing I want you to do is add insulation to your attic.

    The second thing – you mentioned you’re on a crawlspace. Your floor has got to be insulated. Again, unfaced fiberglass batts. If it’s a standard 2×10 floor joist, you want to fill that up with a full 10 inches of insulation. If you can insulate the floor and the attic – two areas that are accessible and easy to access – you’re kind of halfway there.

    Now, what are we going to do about the exterior wall? Well, short of taking it apart, we’re not going to easily solve this problem with a blown-in. If you had an insulation company that could work with the camera and add additional blown-in, they might be able to fill it in. But that’s going to be expensive and I don’t know that you’re going to get a good return on investment.

    So what I would suggest you do is everything else that you can do to stop the drafts. So that means sealing around windows and doors and outlets and light switches, especially, to make sure that we get as many of those gaps closed as possible.

    And then from a decorating perspective, very often – Leslie, you jump right in because I’ve heard you recommend heavy drapes over these windows, too, to try to short-circuit those drafts that are sort of falling around the windows.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you can do it sort of two-fold. You know, we have drafty windows. Unfortunately, the previous owners installed not the greatest of windows and they were poorly installed. So, short of doing a major project here, I’ve gotten creative. I’ve done a sort of double-lined fabric shade that’s up against the glass portion of the window itself. And I’ll draw those down during the colder times. And then I have a heavier drape that I use in the winter, as well, that’s lined that I will just close up to make sure that I’m keeping those drafts out.

    Also, if you’ve got baseboard heating in that room, you want to make sure that nothing is blocking those baseboards. Your furniture – you’ve got to pull away from the walls. Think about giving it some air, just sort of circulate the heat around the room a little bit better. But really, heavy fabrics, heavy draperies, that really does make a huge difference.

    TOM: Richard, I hope that advice helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, have you ever opened an electric bill and wondered where the heck all that electricity is going to? Well, there’s a new product on the market that can help you figure out a lot about how you’re using your electricity and how you can use less of it. We’ll tell you all about it, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Hey, Leslie, talking about needing a pro, I understand there was a dishwasher incident at Casa Segrete this week.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s an ongoing thing that I want to pick your brain on.

    So, normally, I mean you know I leave for the studio so early in the morning, at 3:30, 4:00 in the morning.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So I don’t always empty the dishwasher, so the babysitter usually does it.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: So, come weekend time, I go to empty the dishwasher and I realized the little rug right outside of the sink/dishwasher area feels damp. And I’m like, “That’s really weird.” And I thought maybe as I’m emptying something, I was – water overflowed. So the next night, I made sure that when I put on the dishwasher, I stood there and watched it for a bit.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And all of a sudden, I hear it and much like I thought, water is just sort of pouring out of that left lower corner.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: And so, I turn off the cycle. I actually let it finish. I just put a Tupperware under there; I’m not going to lie. I collected the water as best I could. I just sort of rolled with it.

    But I cleaned off the gasket, I checked to make sure that there’s a good seal. That all seems to be working and now I don’t know if I just should replace the seal. I’m not really sure where to go with it.

    TOM: Well, it may not be the seal at all. Because what happens is through all the food particles, it can kind of jam up the drain inside the dishwasher or it could affect the float inside the dishwasher. And if they get clogged with food particles, the bottom of the dishwasher actually overflows. So it’s not like you’re just trying to stop a leak in a dam or something like that.

    LESLIE: It’s not like rain that goes in every direction and like wind-driven rain. This is like a flooding, you think.

    TOM: Right. It may actually just be filling up. So I would take a look again at that bottom area of the dishwasher. And sometimes, you have to kind of look. It is hard to see. You may need a light. But take a good, hard look in there. And sometimes, you have to disassemble some of the washer arms to really get to everything.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: And I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. If you can get it exposed and you’re wondering, “How do I clean out all these little, tiny portals and stuff,” grab a wet/dry vacuum. Put it on the smallest nozzle and then use that to suck all the particles right out there. You can do that with a dishwasher. You could also do it with a drain that’s clogged, by the way, too. Doesn’t hurt a thing. And then try it again.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because I went in there and I cleaned the gasket to make sure that that was sealing properly. And then all those little gunk collectors underneath the elements, I took that all out, I rinsed all those off.

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: I really was looking at every single part that I could get to and easily remove. But I didn’t think about going as far as all of the washing arms and everything in there.

    TOM: Yep. That might be what’s going on. So, give it a shot.

    LESLIE: So get in the dishwasher.

    TOM: There you go. Get in there.

    LESLIE: So as soon as we’re done with The Money Pit, climb into the dishwasher is basically what you’re saying.

    TOM: You’ve got to de-gunk everything.

    888-666-3974. Hey, if you’ve got an appliance question or any other single project on your to-do list, give us a call right now. We’ll swing it on over to ours. And if we pick your name out of The Money Pit hard hat, you might just win this hour’s prize, which is fantastic. It’s the Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer.

    LESLIE: Have you ever opened an electric bill and wondered where all that electricity is going? Well, there’s a new product on the market that can help you figure out a lot about how you’re using your electricity and how you can use less of it.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s called the Sense Home Energy Monitor and I just installed one in my home a couple of weeks ago. It’s very cool. You can see how it works at GetSense.com.

    But it’s pretty amazing. It works kind of like a fitness tracker for your home. And it tells you what’s on, what’s off and how much energy it’s using. So, you can figure out where all that juice is going and you can save money and you can make your home more sustainable at the same time.

    Now, the installation is pretty straightforward. It installs to your home’s main electric panel and then it monitors all that electrical use in real time through an app. That’s going to let you see exactly what’s going on. And it can even tell you how much it costs daily, weekly and even monthly to run your coffee pot or your air conditioner or your dishwasher or your refrigerator. It basically tracks everything. And you might even be able to spot energy guzzlers before they show up in the form of a big electric bill.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Sense is also going to help you look after your family by tracking your home’s activity and device use.

    For example, in that Sense app, you can see if you’ve turned off your clothing dryer before you leave the house. And you can also set alerts to tell you if the coffee maker, for some reason, still happens to be on.

    Now, Sense can also help you avoid problems by identifying unusual activity in your home. And it’s all happening in real time and before it becomes an issue, because it can look for unusual patterns like, say, your refrigerator that’s running constantly because its filter is clogged or a sump pump that runs more than usual because the water heater broke and your basement’s flooded. It really gives you a clue to what is going on.

    TOM: It’s really an incredible and helpful and very smart device that can save you money and make your home more efficient and sustainable. Check it out at GetSense.com. That’s GetSense.com.

    LESLIE: Up next, are you tired of staring at walls full of cracks, dings or nail pops? Well, drywall repairs are a common headache for homeowners but easy for a pro to handle. We’re going to tell you what’s involved, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we want to talk to you about your money pit. What’s going on in your house? We’re here to help you get those projects done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and that’s presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    LESLIE: Teddy in Oregon is dealing with a wet foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    TEDDY: Well, I am blessed with rain and clay soil here in Western Oregon. And I have a crawlspace that is wet. I lift up the plastic and there is mold and salamanders and slugs under there.

    And so I did discover a crack in the foundation, which explains a lot of this moisture.

    TOM: Well, yes and no. Concrete foundations and brick foundations are very porous. The fact that you have a crack doesn’t mean that that’s the only way water is getting through. What this does mean is that you have way too much water collecting on the outside of your house.

    So what you need to do is to very carefully improve the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter so that soil slopes away from the house. And even more important than that is to clean your gutter system and extend those downspouts away from the house. That’s really critical. If you do that, you will find that it makes a big difference on the amount of water that’s getting into that space and it will dry up quite nicely and frankly, quite quickly.

    TEDDY: Oh, OK. I believe that the gutter system is all – has pipes out to the street.

    TOM: Yep. You need to be sure about that and you need to be sure that they’re not disconnected or clogged.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Especially if you’ve got something underground that you can’t monitor or see if it’s, in fact, free-flowing. You’ve got to make sure that it’s actually going somewhere, it’s connected. Because the smallest amount of a clog can produce a huge amount of water, in comparison to the amount of a clog, inside your house.

    TEDDY: Oh, OK. OK. So, I’ll work on that and grade the soil away from the house.

    Now, right now, I have – I was all set to buy a dehumidifier and then someone told me, “No, that won’t do you any good.” So, I put a fan on either end – one blowing in and one blowing out – so it could go out the vents.

    TOM: But look, the solution here is not to try to get rid of the moisture that’s there; it’s to stop it from going there in the first place. So you need to follow our advice on this, which is specifically to improve the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. There’s advice on how to do this, online, at MoneyPit.com. It’s one of the most common questions we get asked and the solution is really quite simple, OK?

    TEDDY: OK. Yeah.

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

    LESLIE: Well, here’s a project that pros and non-pros have to deal with all the time and especially this time of year. I’m talking about spring cleaning. You know, this really is the time of year we take advantage of a good, strong cleaning system to get rid of all of that winter’s dirt and grime. And it just so happens that we have an awesome prize this hour to help you do just that. It’s the new Greenworks 1,800-PSI Electric Pressure Washer and it’s available at Lowe’s for 169 bucks.

    TOM: Yep. Great tool. Very fun to use. Lots of cleaning power. Thirteen-amp motor delivers over a gallon of water a minute. It’s got five quick-connect nozzles that store on board; you’re never going to lose them.

    So think about all the things you could do with this: your driveway, your deck, your patios, your walkways, your siding or even washing your car. I mean my favorite thing to do around the car is to clean those rims, because they’re just impossible to do any other way. But with a pressure washer, they come out like they just came off the lot.

    So, it’s the Greenworks 1,800-PSI Pressure Washer going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Craig in Pennsylvania is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    CRAIG: I had an exterior concrete porch and I enclosed it. And I’m trying to make it part of the house now. But the floor itself, I said, is concrete. It’s all cracked and it’s breaking up. Is there some easy way or some way I can smooth it out or do something with it to make it look like an interior room now to this part of the house?

    TOM: Absolutely. First of all, if the surface is deteriorated, you’re going to have to use a patching compound on it. And I would recommend the premixed QUIKRETE Concrete Patch Compound. It comes in a tub and you simply apply it to the surface. You can fill in all of those areas that are deteriorated; you can fill over the cracks.

    And the reason you’re using a patching compound is because it’s designed specifically to stick to the concrete. If you use regular concrete, you’re going to have a problem with that because it won’t stick; it’ll just split off again. Alright? But if you use a concrete patching compound, it will adhere.

    CRAIG: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, drywall repairs are probably one of the most common home maintenance chores that we have to take on as homeowners. But if you don’t do them right, you’re going to be doing them again and again and again. So, to avoid those pitfalls, it helps to have a pro and you’ve got to plan carefully. We’re going to share some tips on how to do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Now, the three most common types of repairs needed are nail pops, holes and cracks. Now, DIYers that take on these projects often find themselves doing them over and over again, because the cracks or the holes keep coming back. But pros just seem to get them right the first time. But there are some key tricks here.

    Now, first of all, let’s talk about nail pops. These result from a nail that has loosened and started to back its way out of the drywall. But tapping them back in isn’t enough to prevent a repeat. Instead, pros are adding an additional fastener on top of the loose one and that secures it in place. And then they spackle and sand to make that entire repair virtually invisible.

    TOM: Now, repairing wall or ceiling cracks is another kind of tricky job. The best way to fix a wall or ceiling crack is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. It’s usually yellow and has kind of a mesh look to it. It’s got large squares and almost looks kind of like netting.

    Now, a pro is going to apply this first and that’s going to bridge the gap in the crack. And then they use a skilled hand to spackle over the tape. And it takes multiple thin coats, so it could be sanded, primed and painted in just a day or two. Most commonly, DIYers make the mistake of putting too much spackle on. And even the spackle looks terrible or they have to sand the heck out of it and it just gets all over the place. So that’s why the pros have the skills to get that done in a very short timeframe.

    LESLIE: Now, filling holes in drywall, that’s kind of a bigger job. For that, you’re going to need a scrap of drywall, a leftover piece of window screening, some joint compound and a few common tools.

    Now, pros are going to know the best way to patch a hole is to cut the hole to fit the patch and not the other way around, even if it means that you’ve got to make that hole a little bit bigger. Next, they’re going to apply two or three thin coats of spackle. And once painted, that hole is no more.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Well, outdoor lighting is in full swing as we all spend more time outside. But the right lighting does more than just brighten the space. We’re going to tell you how to add low-voltage lights for dramatic results, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help out with your home improvement projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project, all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, everybody seems to have this warmer weather and staying outdoors on their minds, with these questions we’re seeing online. So, Robin in New Jersey posted: “Does my wood deck need to be sealed every year?” Well, I mean it shouldn’t if you’re taking pretty decent care of it, I would hope.

    Right, Tom?

    TOM: Well, yeah. And also, if you’re using good products and you’re following good procedure in actually applying this sealer correctly or stain. If it’s in really bad shape, Robin, the one option you might want to consider is replacing the decking and the railing with composite. If you do that, you’re never going to have to seal or stain again.

    Now, you can leave the structure, right? If it’s all pressure-treated, it’s secure, the structure’s not rotted, it’s well attached to the house – that’s really important because we hear about deck collapses every summer, because they pull away from the house. But if the structure is good, you could pull off those boards and replace just those. We call it a “deck makeover.” It’s a lot less expensive than doing the entire deck from scratch and it really looks absolutely gorgeous. So that’s definitely a good option for you.

    But if you do need to stain it again, just make sure you strip off all that old sealer before you apply the new coat. It should last you three to five years.

    Now, if you want your backyard landscaping to really stand out, the key is the very subtle and dramatic look that low-voltage lighting can bring. Leslie has tips on how to achieve just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    And you’re a big fan of low-voltage lighting, right?

    LESLIE: You know, I am. It really is so simple to install and it can make such a big difference in an outdoor space. It doesn’t cost a lot to operate and it really is a confidence booster as far as a do-it-yourself project goes. You really just have to know where you’re starting and know where you’re going and find a fixture you like. So, to start, you really have to gauge how much lighting you need and how long you want that investment to last. Now, the shorter you stay in your present home, the simpler the lighting plan should be.

    Now, the next question is: where do you put those lights? Well, there are a few easy outdoor-landscaping lighting techniques that always deliver beautiful effects at night. First of all, you want to mimic some downlighting. You’re trying to create light that comes from above. That will give you the feeling of natural light that you get when you’re sitting in the moonlight. And it can be also used as safety lighting for pathways, driveways and stairs. But downlighting can also be an effective way to light decks and accent paths and flower beds. It all depends on the fixture, the size, the scale, the placement. But that’s one effect you want from one type of lighting fixture.

    Another is uplighting. Now, that’s going to add depth to your trees, the landscaping and any home features by lighting it from below. And that creates a dramatic effect. If you place lights at an angle, the texture of the fence and the walls can also be accented. But you want to avoid placing those lights anywhere where you’re going to get a glare and have difficulty seeing some areas of the space.

    And I think another option is backlighting. Now, silhouetting an object of interest – like a tree, a shrub – against another lit surface, it’s a really beautiful, indirect lighting effect. And you achieve it by angling the light against a wall or a fence behind that object. These are a couple of tricks that the pros are going to use to really create a fully and beautifully lit yard.

    Now, you can install low-voltage lighting systems because they don’t require extensive electrical knowledge. But you have to be sure that you follow all of those installation guidelines. Also, bear in mind you’re going to get what you pay for. So, some of those outdoor-landscaping lighting sets can run as low as $50 but they may not weather well and they can rarely last more than a couple of years.

    So just buyer beware. Pick something you like, pick something durable. And remember, it’s a project called “lightscaping,” so have some fun, enjoy the light and spend more evenings outdoors.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, when you open your windows to bring in fresh air, does a bunch of noise come with it? Well, This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook is going to be by with a natural solution for some peace and quiet.

    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 2019 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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