Best Tips for Below Grade Spaces #0724172

More in:
  • Play room in a  white basement living room
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement, your décor projects. Give us a call right now. What are you working on? We want to hear about it at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question online, right now, to the Community page at

    Coming up on today’s show, do you want to finish a space that’s below grade? Maybe it’s so hot, you’re kind of hanging out in the basement now just to kind of catch a little bit of chillier temperature. And if you want to finish that space, though, you’ve got to be careful. Because what happens with below-grade spaces? They get damp, they get wet, so you’ve got to choose the materials carefully. We’re going to tell you what you need to know about finding materials that can survive that environment and look beautiful to boot.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And since your basement is a cool place to go, what’s the other place we like to enjoy during the summer months? Your outdoor spaces. And outdoor living is more popular than ever and it’s causing a big uptick in the number of people who want to build out their patios by adding built-in barbecues, fire pits and even outdoor kitchens. We’re going to have tips on how to tackle those projects, in a bit.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Rick in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICK: When our house was built, in place of the usual wooden boards that are used to trim around the edges of the roofs and around the bottom of the house, they used a plastic composite-type material.

    TOM: OK.

    RICK: And it’s used in place of wood and it’s maintenance-free, lasts forever, that kind of stuff. With the exception that any place this wood is – this composite material is cut, it becomes kind of a haven for mold and mildew. And you get green growth there and it’s – you spend a lot of time and effort continually pressure-washing to clean it out. So, what I’m looking for is some means of sealing – is there some way of sealing this to prevent this mold growth on what is otherwise a maintenance-free material?

    TOM: Well, if it’s composite, it may be a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And that’s paintable. And so you could paint those areas and that might tend to seal it in a bit more. Because I think what you’re saying is that the cut areas are probably more absorbent than the surface areas and so you’re getting a little more moisture. Maybe it’s a trap. There’s a little rougher surface there that might be a trap for dirt that feeds mildew or algae and that sort of thing.

    So, what comes to mind right away is that you simply could paint it. But of course, you know what comes after paint: repaint.

    RICK: Exactly. It takes away the maintenance-free aspect of it.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RICK: But is there a type of paint that would be more conducive or last longer, like an epoxy-type paint or something like that?

    TOM: Not for a surface like that. No, you would just use an exterior paint and you would probably prime it first.

    RICK: So it wouldn’t be latex. It would be an enamel?

    TOM: No, you would use a 100-percent acrylic latex paint. That’s what AZEK recommends be used. And you also might want to take a look at Sherwin-Williams for the paint manufacturer. I know that they have paints that are specifically made for vinyl or PVC products, which is what that product is. AZEK is simply an extruded cellular PVC.

    LESLIE: Not everybody does this but some contractors tend to skip the step of filling holes when it comes to a composite trimming. You know, they’re like, “Eh, you can’t see it. It’s OK.” But this could give you the opportunity – if you’re going to paint the trim, as well – to go ahead and fill any nail holes. And that’ll really give it almost a more natural wood look, the brushstrokes. It could be a good thing.

    RICK: OK. Thank you very much. That’s a great idea.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Dorothy in Wisconsin on the line who has a Wizard of Oz-themed garden and needs some help with her characters.

    How exciting. Have they blown away many times? Is the house on the witch? What’s going on?

    DOROTHY: Dorothy and my scarecrow have costumes on them and they’re made of cotton, I believe. And I’m looking for a product that is water-repellent and sun-resistant.

    LESLIE: I’m not sure about the UV-rating but there are many products that are made for camping equipment, like tents and sleeping bags, that you would spray on that make the fabric water-resistant. There’s one called KIWI Camp Dry and it’s a heavy-duty waterproofing spray. It’s good for tents and boots. I just don’t know if they’re UV-rated but they definitely do keep things – clothing – water-resistant.

    DOROTHY: Right. I’m trying to find a product that is also UV-protectant.

    LESLIE: You know what? If you head on over to the Trek website – and it’s actually – I just quickly popped over there and I looked at their Aqua Armor product. And it says it’s UV-activated.

    DOROTHY: Oh, I thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Todd in Mississippi on the line who’s got a wood floor that was installed after Katrina. And it’s starting to buckle.

    Welcome, Todd. How can we help you?

    TODD: Hey. Yes, that’s exactly right. I had a hardwood floor installed in my home after Katrina. My home was flooded by Katrina, so we had – it was completely gutted. And my home is on a concrete slab and we actually had professionals come in and install the hardwood floors after Katrina, probably – it was probably about – actually, it’s probably close to a year after Katrina had hit.

    And so – but anyway, we had moved into the house after the – well, after the flooring had been installed. Probably November of ‘06 we had moved in and started living in the house. And about a year into it, after moving back into the house, the floors just started buckling in several different places. And I was unsure of why it was doing that.

    TOM: So this is solid hardwood that was installed on top of a concrete slab?

    TODD: It’s engineered hardwood. It’s over a concrete slab. And of course, before they installed it over the slab, they had put down – they had used Bostik’s BEST Adhesive and put all of that down. And it’s supposed to have the moisture barrier and what-have-you built into the adhesive.

    But after a year of probably living in the house, we noticed in different areas it started buckling. Actually, some were worse than others and it’s just only gotten worse.

    TOM: Do we know that this is swelling and not any movement of the floor that’s causing this?

    TODD: I think it’s just swelling. I don’t think there’s any moving of the floor. I mean in most areas, it seems pretty intact and tight. And a friend of mine had said, “Well, maybe they didn’t leave enough space in between the walls.” And we checked that and of course, there’s enough gap in between the walls for natural expansion and what-have-you with the levels of humidity. But it’s just actually buckling in quite a few places. In some areas, you almost trip over it, it’s buckled so bad.

    TOM: Yeah, I’m surprised to hear that because engineered hardwood is supposed to be dimensionally stable. It’s not supposed to do what it’s doing. Did you, by any chance, reach out to the manufacturer for any suggestions as to why this might be happening?

    TODD: No, I have not. Actually, I have not done that. And I didn’t know if I should reach out to them or also, I didn’t know, as far as on the Bostik’s BEST because it was supposed to have the built-in moisture barrier, as well. And so I didn’t really know who to reach out to but …

    TOM: I would start with the floor manufacturer. But look, the answer I’m going to give you is the answer you don’t want to hear and that is it’s not repairable. This is a situation where you’re going to have to cut the floor out and start again.

    TODD: OK. Well, that’s not necessarily the news I wanted to hear but I can start there and I can – like I said, I can get with the manufacturer and check on that.

    TOM: Todd, 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 Give us a call now for the answer to your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros that you can trust for any home improvement project. And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, you should be checking out, too.

    TOM: Still ahead, would you love to finish your below-grade space but don’t know which materials can survive the dampness? We’ll review the options for basement floors that can take it, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: If you’d like to enjoy quality, good-tasting water all summer long, you’ve got to check out the water-quality solutions at The Home Depot. We’ve been talking about all the fantastic products they have to help improve the taste and clarity of your water for a while now. And we’re also giving away some of these same products. This hour, we’re going to be featuring the Brita 10-Cup Filtered Water Pitcher and pitcher replacement filters.

    These reduce chlorine taste and odor, zinc, copper, mercury and cadmium. And they have an advanced filtration system with activated carbon and an ion-exchange resin. It’s a BPA-free pitcher. It’s got an easy fill, locking lid and a comfort-grip handle. Available at The Home Depot and Worth 50 bucks and 94 cents.

    We’re going to give out a water-quality solution from The Home Depot, just like that, to one lucky caller. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you can’t get through on the phone lines, you can always post your question to the Community page at and you will be eligible, as well.

    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.

    TOM: OK.

    NORMA: And in order to get, you know, 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: Well, if you’re planning a basement makeover, the number-one question that you should be asking yourself when you’re choosing materials for that basement space is: does this dry out? Carpet, for example, the answer there is no, yet everybody seems to think that carpet is the best choice for a basement space. We know it really does warm up the space, it feels great on your footsies but it will hold all that moisture. And then it becomes a breeding ground for allergens, like dust, mold, mildew. I promise, no matter how dry your basement is, it’s still going to get damp.

    TOM: You know what loves to live in carpet in the basement? Dust mites. They’ve got everything they need to survive, right? So, just don’t do it. And with some of the new finishes available, you might want to think about just plain, old concrete.

    Now, it’s not just going to look like a garage floor, right? Because you can get concrete that’s stained or stamped. You can have beautiful finishes. The epoxy finishes are gorgeous. You can put a couple of area rugs on top of that – not carpet, not wall-to-wall but just an area rug – that you could easily roll up and clean now and again. And it really can work well.

    Another good option is laminate floor. Laminate floor can take that kind of dampness, plus it can look like wood or vinyl or tile or marble. And it’s really, really durable. So if it’s a playroom, perfect choice.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another option for those basement spaces is hardwood flooring but not that kind of hardwood flooring that you put in the spaces above grade. For a basement, you can use engineered hardwood.

    Now, you’ve probably heard that term before and it’s real hardwood but it’s made of so many layers, so it kind of looks like plywood. And then the topmost layer is actually the wood that you select and the finish you select. So it looks really pretty but it’s structurally and dimensionally stable, which makes it perfect for a below-grade space.

    TOM: Now, of course, tile is always a favorite but if you install it, remember the floor has to be really, really flat because tile doesn’t bend. It cracks. So make sure it’s nice and flat. Use a good installer for that. You could also think about linoleum.

    Now, that’s an old favorite that’s kind of coming back for a lot of good reasons. It’s a sustainable product because it’s made of linseed oil, it doesn’t emit toxins and it really is available in rich, bold and beautiful colors. So lots of options for basement floors. Just choose them carefully because they’ve got to stand up to that dampness.

    LESLIE: Jason in Iowa is dealing with some asbestos removal, a topic I’m very familiar with these days.

    Jason, what’s going on at your money pit?

    JASON: Well, we bought a house. And in the basement, the ductwork has crumbling asbestos tape around all the seams. And I didn’t know it was asbestos at first. A gentleman – a friend of mine – kind of told me that it was, which was good to know because I would have just started tearing it off there.

    But I know that it can be dangerous. And I’ve been told to put on a good HEPA-filter mask and wet the filters and such and you can take it off and wear gloves and be careful. But is that really the case? Do I have to legally hire a professional to come in and remove something like that?

    TOM: It’s definitely the smart thing to do, Jason. Because the problem with asbestos is it’s very, very fine. It’s finer than smoke. If you were to release asbestos particles and assuming there was no wind, it would take eight hours for them to hit the floor; that’s how fine they are.

    So what you are seeing is only part of the problem. What you’re physically seeing, those chunks, is only part of it. This is a situation where you really can’t do it yourself.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the other part of the equation is the disposal. It’s like you can’t just take it and put it in a trash bag and stick it outside.

    JASON: Right.

    LESLIE: I’m in the process of having asbestos shingles removed from my home, on the exterior. And they have to be not only properly taken down and packed up in a certain manner but they have to be completely driven off to another state and certified that they’ve been disposed of in a proper manner. Now, I’m sure with just the tape wrapping the piping, that’s not going to be the extreme case there but you do have to make sure that it’s disposed of properly. You don’t want to get in any trouble.

    TOM: And by the way, Jason, you know, you can’t visually identify asbestos. So the very first thing you should do is to have some – a sample of the material tested to confirm that it is, in fact, asbestos.

    JASON: And who would do that?

    TOM: An asbestos lab.

    Leslie, you just had asbestos testing done. Who did you use for that? Was it a local lab?

    LESLIE: It was a local company that also does the removal. But there are several companies. I would just look locally at asbestos removal. And it was fairly simple and the test took about two days. And it gives you a percentage of asbestos found in the item and it’s interesting.

    JASON: Well, thanks so much for your time and hopefully, it won’t be too costly that I have to call it a “money pit.”

    TOM: OK, Jason. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, did you guys hear about this new, awesome sweepstakes that we’re doing with Speed Queen? That’s right. We’ve got the Speed Queen Lovin’ My Laundry Sweepstakes happening right now. And you can enter at And that’s L-o-v-i-n – And get this: we’ve got two grand prizes up for grabs. And those grand-prize winners are going to receive a Speed Queen washer/dryer set.

    Now, that includes the delivery and the hookup and it’s worth over $2,000.

    TOM: Now, that is a reason to love your laundry: two brand-new Speed Queen machines. Do you know that over 25 years, the average homeowner does more than 10,000 loads of laundry?

    Pretty sure you do more than that, though, Leslie, with those two boys.

    LESLIE: They’re so messy. No one told you that. No one says, “Hey, you’ve got boys. You’re going to be doing more laundry than you’ve ever thought in your entire life.”

    TOM: Well, the problem is that the machines don’t last but Speed Queen, not an average machine. They’ve got over 100 years of commercial reliability. It’s extreme factory testing and really, the best industry warranty. So those machines are going to last two to three times longer than other brands. That’s a big load off your mind. So it would be fantastic for us to send out a set of Speed Queen washers and dryers to you and you because we’ve got two to give away.

    LESLIE: Not feeling like the luckiest person thinking you’re worth the grand prize? Well, there’s 10 first-prize winners and they’re going to get laundry gift baskets, including the basket, clothespins, laundry sack and a $200 Amazon gift card. And we’ve also got up for grabs 40 runner-up prizes. And those runner-ups are going to get a $50 Amazon gift card. So you can get all the laundry detergent you need, probably, for the whole year.

    TOM: So let’s do the math. We’ve got 40 runner-up prizes, 10 first-place prizes and 2 grand prizes.

    LESLIE: That’s a lot of prizes.

    TOM: That’s 52 prizes going out for the Lovin’ My Laundry Sweepstakes. Enter now: You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot of laundry to get done to gain.

    Coming up, have you ever thought about building out your outdoor patio by adding, perhaps, a barbecue pit, a fire pit or even an outdoor kitchen? We’re going to tell you how, next.

    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: Well, today, outdoor living is more popular than ever and it’s causing a big uptick in the number of people who want to build out their patios by adding beautiful built-in barbecues, fire pits and even outdoor kitchens.

    LESLIE: Bill Karau is the VP of marketing for Pavestone and joins us now with info on a new product called SplitRock that helps you do all of that with ease. It’s a system that combines a natural, rough texture with the ability to stack the rocks to form lots of really super-cool outdoor structures.

    Bill, this is like the dream Lego for adults, right?

    BILL: That’s exactly right. It’s building on the experience we had and the great reception we had for our RumbleStone line of products, which is a smooth-faced tumbled block that looks like weathered-cut stone. And SplitRock is a completely different look. It’s got a rougher, more rustic face on the blocks. And it really shows off the veining when you split the block and really looks like natural stone but of course, has the big advantage that it’s manufactured to exact specifications, which makes these blocks very easy to stack up and build all sorts of creative structures with.

    TOM: And that’s the key. It’s modular construction. So once you had the different units, the number of things you can construct with this, there’s really no limit.

    Now, I’ve seen some fire pits built with this. Very easy to do by corralling these in an arch. I’ve seen you use these to kind of stack up and enclose a barbecue, which makes it look like someone built a big masonry structure around it but it really was these blocks that stacked up. And it looks really super attractive.

    What were some of the other uses that folks are doing with these modular products, like SplitRock and RumbleStone?

    BILL: Well, we’ve got a range in applications, as you mentioned, from the very simple projects, like a fire pit. And we’re not mortaring these blocks. They’re glued together with polyurethane construction adhesive. So this is very fast. You can build a fire pit with 2 people in 10 minutes, something that will be very durable and will be – the concrete’s stronger 10 years from now than it is today. There’s simple projects like that and we have much more extensive projects up to and including fireplaces, which consume about 10,000 pounds of concrete. So this is a very substantial 7-foot wide, 7-foot high structure.

    And in SplitRock and RumbleStone, we’re on the cusp of rolling out a very exciting system to make this outdoor kitchen really a reachable thing for the DIYer. Previously, that ends up with frequently with contractors and a lot of expense and internal frames and external veneers. And things just get very complicated. And we’ve worked out a number of very exciting modular designs to use either of these blocks to – building grills, refrigerators, external burners, other elements of an outdoor kitchen in the layout that you want but sort of taking Legos up to the next level.

    We’ll take a grill module and connect it to a refrigerator module and connect that to an angle. And you can sort of reposition these things on a piece of paper and decide what the best configuration for your setup is. And then generate a layer-by-layer build plan to stack the blocks up and make that all happen.

    LESLIE: Bill, this is like Minecraft for adults, right?

    BILL: A little bit.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s really what it sounds like. My children are obsessed with Minecraft. They’re using different blocks to build different structures and design different things and that’s exactly what the SplitRock is.

    Now, what you’ve designed is so beautifully crafted. Tell me a little bit about the coloration process because there are so many colors blends that you can use to really enhance your yard, your landscape, the exterior of your home. How is that coloration process done? Do we ever need to touch it up or will it always look that good?

    BILL: No, that color is integral, so the color is mixed into the concrete. We use inorganic iron-oxide pigments and those are color-fast. Unlike organic pigments, they don’t fade, even with extended UV exposure. So, that color is permanent and it’s throughout the material; it’s not on the surface of the material. It’s a very durable, very long-lasting material. It’s not going to weather, it’s not going to rot. It’s going to hold up for years and years. And concrete – may not know the concrete actually gets stronger over time. That Portland cement continues to hydrate over a long period of time and it just becomes stronger and stronger as the years go by.

    TOM: We’re talking to Bill Karau. He is the senior vice president of marketing for Pavestone, which now has a beautiful, new product out called SplitRock that allows you to build pretty much any outdoor structure you’d like to on top of your patio or in the middle of your lawn, like a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, surround your barbecue. You name it, you can build it with this very modular product.

    Bill, you also have a Pavestone app that – what does that bring to the table?

    BILL: We do. It’s a simple app that just allows you to flip through our product portfolio and get an idea of the wide variety of blocks we offer for many applications, including edgers, retaining-wall blocks, paving stones and then, of course, these outdoor-living blocks, which are very handy for making vertical structures.

    TOM: Bill Karau, the senior vice president of marketing for Pavestone. Thank you so much, Bill, for stopping by The Money Pit. And best of luck with the new SplitRock product. I’ve seen it. It’s absolutely beautiful.

    And if you’ve got a project that you’d like to create to enhance your outdoor living, take a look at the SplitRock product at

    Thanks, Bill.

    BILL: Thanks very much.

    LESLIE: Alright, Bill. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. I bet everybody is super excited to get started on their patio projects. You make it sound so easy.

    TOM: Just ahead, if you live in an area where you have hard water, you know it pretty much makes everything hard inside when it comes to cleaning your clothes, your countertops and even you. Well, there’s a simple plumbing-free solution that can help. We’ll tell you all about it, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by You can find top-rated home improvement pros that you can trust. And if you’re a local pro who wants to grow your business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. What are you working on? We want to help.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Illinois on the line and she’s got a question about a vaulted ceiling. What can we do for you?

    KATHLEEN: I’m calling about a renovation project that we are trying to do on a three-season sun porch. And it’s a 12×27 room. We did tackle doing window replacement by ourselves and we managed to do that. They’re vinyl-clad windows, the tilt-in kind and everything. But the ceiling right now is 12-inch tiles that are – they seem to be glued up to the ceiling. They’re not on a grid system; they’re just up there. And we want to put faux-tin ceilings. And we’re wondering if that’s a project that we could tackle or is that something best left to professionals or – we’re looking for your advice.

    We had some damage from rain on the roof and we’ve had the roof replaced. But I even painted over where the water stains were with Zinsser Stain Stop. And you can still see the – it did not cover it, so we need to change the ceiling.

    TOM: Hey, they make these tiles that are a drop-ceiling type of a tile that looks just like tin. Have you seen those, Kathleen?

    KATHLEEN: Yes, we have. And we thought that those were very cool and we didn’t know – do you think just LIQUID NAILS or something to put it up over these existing tiles?

    TOM: What’s underneath the tiles? Plywood sheathing?

    KATHLEEN: I don’t know. It feels really solid when you push a …

    TOM: I would try to figure out what’s underneath it. You could take some pieces of the old tiles apart, see how thick that is. I would prefer to have a mechanical attachment, like a staple or something like that, than just simply the glue. The glue is OK.

    LESLIE: I mean I would use LIQUID NAILS and something else.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    KATHLEEN: Uh-huh. And you don’t think it would – I don’t want it to look uneven, you know, how they – you see sometimes those grid systems where the tiles kind of droop and sloop and look …

    TOM: No, if it’s done really well, it looks great. We’ve seen them at really high-end décor showrooms, where you have some really upscale decorating done and they look fantastic.

    KATHLEEN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project, Kathleen and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you live in an area where hard water is a problem, there’s a new product at The Home Depot that can really help you out. It’s called the ScaleBlaster Electronic Water Conditioner. And it’s an innovative, computerized water-conditioning system that solves hard-water problems without the need of chemicals, salt or even maintenance. It doesn’t get any easier.

    TOM: Yeah. And installation is pretty much a do-it-yourself project because there’s no plumbing required. And I love that. You’re not even going to get wet putting this thing together, right?

    Now, the way it works is interesting because it prevents the limescale from forming. And it removes it from existing deposits forever, because it has a signal that actually hits the calcium molecules that are in the water. And that stops them from sticking together. I think of these are sort of magnetic, right, where positive sides repel and if they’re opposite, they attract? It kind of makes them all positive, right? So they just sort of float out there in the water, they don’t stick together and that makes the hard water pretty much a moot point.

    LESLIE: That is true. And I think when we talk about hard water, it’s really the limescale deposits that are causing the poor water pressure, the formation of soap scum. It all can increase your water-heating expenses and give you a lack of hot water. All of it really just makes for a pretty uncomfortable water experience in your home. I’ve even had it in hotels when I’ve been traveling with all of my home makeover shows. And you know it if you’ve got hard water. It just feels weird.

    So that ScaleBlaster really will help you out. It’s going to protect your appliances. And it’s going to make everything operate a lot more efficiently.

    TOM: Yep. Now, the ScaleBlaster Electronic Water Conditioner is available for $179 at The Home Depot and, which is your source for a comprehensive set of water-quality solutions.

    LESLIE: David in Mississippi is on the line with some cracks in the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    DAVID: My house is eight years old or nine years old this year. But I’ve got ceramic tile and it keeps cracking my ceramic tile.

    TOM: So we’re talking about cracks in the floor, David?

    DAVID: Yes. I hadn’t seen none in the walls or nothing, just in the floors with ceramic tile. And it’s in different rooms, too, so I know it’s more than one crack. I just – the only thing I can think is it’s stress cracks from the concrete foundation.

    TOM: Well, it may or it may not be. Now, when you put ceramic tile on a concrete floor like that and especially in a large surface, there is an isolation membrane that works well to go down in between the concrete and the tile. And that helps to prevent the condition that you’re seeing.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this. There’s no inexpensive way to stop a floor from cracking if, potentially, it was installed improperly to begin with. The only general advice we can give you is to make sure you try to keep it as dry as possible down there, because moisture is going to make the slab move more.

    DAVID: Well, let me ask you a question. What if I took the ceramic tile up and put some hardwood floors in?

    TOM: Well, you couldn’t put solid-hardwood floor because the moisture will cause it to warp. But what you could put in is engineered-hardwood floor. And in fact, if you wanted to put engineered-hardwood flooring, you don’t really have to take the ceramic tile up. You could leave it down there and just go on top of it because it’s not connected to the floor; it pretty much rides. It’s a floating floor; it rides right on that surface.

    You’d put down a very thin underlayment underneath it. It’s a very thin foam, like underlayment, like maybe a ¼-inch thick. Then the boards are snapped together and they sit on top of that. You just leave a gap at the edges of the room.

    DAVID: OK. I sure appreciate it. I listen to you all’s show all the time. Sure appreciate all the information I can get from you all.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you looking to take on a painting project and you want to make sure it comes out right the first time? Well, there’s just three things to do. Get ready, write it down: preparation, preparation, preparation. We know it all sounds familiar but it really does make a big difference. We’re going to tell you how to get that done quickly, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. Hey, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Alright, you guys. You could always call in your question to 888-MONEY-PIT but you can also post your question online at the Community section. And I’ve got one here that Marian posted. And she says, “I’m about to tackle my first interior-painting project and don’t want to wind up with the same rough-looking results I’ve seen in other homes. What painting-prep steps do I need to take to make sure my interior-painting project turns out well?”

    TOM: Great question. Three things you need to do: all prep, prep, prep. First, you want to clean the surfaces. That’s really the first step.

    Now, you can use liquid sandpaper. You can use a trisodium phosphate solution, which you can mix up. You find that in the paint aisle of home centers and hardware stores. Clean those walls really good. Then you want to smooth everything out. If you’ve got any nail pops, you’ve got any dings or dents in the wall, fill those holes and cracks. Give it a thorough sanding. Then you’ve got to mask everything. Mask everywhere you don’t want that paint to appear and leave it there until the paint is dry and you will be good to go.

    Good luck, Marian.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? She’s halfway there with just wanting to do prep work so that it comes out nice.

    I mean really, good job, Marian.

    TOM: Got to own up to the problem.

    Well, would you like a one-of-a-kind kitchen but you don’t have a big budget? Leslie has got tips on how you can get that great look for a very small price, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
    Leslie? You’re so good at getting these things done on a dime.

    LESLIE: Well, I’ve had a lot of experience with getting design projects done with practically little to no money. So, you come up with some creative solutions sometimes and you really have to. You know, I always find that I think for somebody to really enjoy the design and feel like a space belongs to them is to make the design process your own. Know what you like, know how you use the space and then find ways to bring the things you like into that space.

    Now, when it comes to the kitchen, you want it to be beautiful but I feel like everything in the kitchen starts to add up and becomes really expensive, especially if you’re doing a full-blown renovation. So if you’re looking for ways to bring in your personality without spending a ton of money – whether it’s a full renovation or a small, little update – think about these kinds of things.

    Now, if you’re using traditional tile for your backsplash and it’s getting up there in the price range and you’re kind of stuck because there’s so many choices and it’s expensive – tile can be expensive – why not use a vinyl wallpaper for your backsplash instead?

    Now, here’s the benefits of it: it’s affordable, you’re not going to need that much, there’s some really beautiful vinyl papers that will be durable, washable, super easy to apply, it stands up to heat and humidity and so many color and pattern and texture options that you’re going to find something that works for you. And your kitchen isn’t going to look like anybody else’s on the block.

    Now, you can find the designs that will compliment your countertops or your cabinet. Now, the vinyl paper isn’t that easy to cut because it’s so thick and it’s vinyl coat and it’s made to be durable. So a mat knife, a blade, super-sharp scissors, those are going to be your friends when it comes to putting up the wallpaper. And it’s pretty easy to install because vinyl’s not going to stick to vinyl. So you want to make sure you make your cuts within a ½-inch overlay. You’ve got to move the papers around until you get it where you want. And then use special vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive that you can order online or at any wallpaper store.

    Now, if you go with something a little crazy that you just love, don’t worry. It’s not that difficult to take down. But you’ll want to take it down if you plan on selling the house. But while you’re living there, live it up. Go crazy. Make it your own because the only people you have to please are the residents of that house and that’s you guys. And you know what you like.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Speaking of saving a few bucks, it is midsummer, right? But pretty soon, the fall will be here and you’ll start to pay those high heating bills again. If you’ve thought about replacing your windows, the total-replacement option – of course, it’s pretty attractive but it’s also pretty expensive. We’re going to have tips, though, on how you can actually restore and reclaim at least a good part of the energy efficiency in the process. We’ll have all those options 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.


    (Copyright 2017 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.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!