Easy Gutter Cleaning Ideas #1016171

  • 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: Hey, what are you working on now that we are smack-dab in the middle of fall? Are you working on a project that might save you some energy? Maybe you’re working on a painting project because, you know, pretty soon you’re going to be inside that house for the long winter months ahead and want to get it fixed up. But whatever is going on your to-do list, why don’t you slide it over to ours by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT? We’ll help you get that project started or get you stuck if you’re in the middle of it. The number, again, is 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, while fall can be the most beautiful season of the year, now is about the time when you look up at your gutters and discover they are overflowing with leaves. I mean there’s a reason it’s called “fall,” right?

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: Well, there’s about a dozen reasons these leaves have got to go. And we’re going to share some tips and techniques to make gutter-cleaning go easy, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, if you’re looking forward to having a beautiful, green lawn in spring, the first chance you have to make sure this happens is now. Not only is fall the perfect time to plant a new lawn or seed the one you have, fall is also a great time to get your lawn ready to face the long winter ahead. We’re going to have tips, just ahead, from the lawn care experts at Bonide.

    TOM: And also ahead, the scariest holiday of the season is coming up. We’re going to have some great ideas for easy and inexpensive Halloween-decorating projects that you can do with your kids.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a $65 package of the best tape to have around your house. It’s called T-Rex and it’s ferociously strong tape. It will work anywhere, even places that other tapes just won’t do it, like damp, dirty, even rough surfaces.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions online to The Money Pit’s Community section, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jackie in Colorado is working on a flooring project. How can we lend you a hand?

    JACKIE: I have a battleship linoleum on the floor. I can live with it but it’s starting to crack in front of the door in the furnace. And it was probably put down in 1930 but …

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, those old linoleum floors, they lasted a long time. But I think, Jackie, it’s time for you to consider redecorating.

    JACKIE: There’s no way I’m going to get this floor up.

    TOM: OK.

    JACKIE: I know it’s underneath some old boards and I have a half-a-basement underneath. And when I walk across it, it squeaks, so I know it’s the flooring underneath the linoleum. It’s probably not good.

    TOM: Well, the fact that it squeaks doesn’t mean it’s not good; it just means that it’s dry and there’s – perhaps loose and some boards are rubbing against each other. Quieting the squeaks is one thing; getting a new floor is another. So, let’s just talk about how to quiet the squeaks first.

    And this is something that a pro can do for you.

    Your floor, no matter how old it is, is going to be installed and secured to floor joists below – floor beams below. A pro can identify where those beams are and they can drive screws from the floor, through the subfloor, through the linoleum and into the floor below. Doing that every 12 to 18 inches will stabilize that floor and cause it to squeak less. Be unlikely to expect no squeaks but you’ll definitely quiet it down.

    Now, once that’s done, you could put a new floor on top of that. And one of the easiest, new floors to put down is laminate flooring. Laminate flooring doesn’t actually physically attach to the old floor; it floats over it. The panels all snap together and they are cut up to about a ¼-inch away from the wall. And then you trim the edge that’s left and it looks terrific and it’s incredibly durable. I’m not going to tell you it’s going to last the 80 years that your first floor lasted but I tell you what, I’ve had it in my house for over a decade and it’s worked great. And we brought three kids up on it.

    JACKIE: I went to a department store in Home Depot and he said, well, the only thing he would recommend – he said, “You can’t put tile or anything like that, marble.” He said it will not work. But he said, “We have what they call a ‘floating floor.’”

    TOM: Yeah, that’s the same thing. It’s not attached; it floats on the old floor. But laminate is the type of material that you’re interested in. They sell it at Home Depot. Lots of different types are there. You can also look at a website like LumberLiquidators.com. You can buy this laminate floor from anywhere from about, oh, roughly $3 a square foot to maybe $5 a square foot. So it’s not terribly expensive and it’s beautiful.

    It comes in many different designs. If you want it to look like tile, it can. If you want it to look like old hardwood floors, it can. And if you want it to look like linoleum again, it could do that. So you choose the design that matches the house.

    JACKIE: Sounds good then. So, I just need to go back and tell him I need a floating floor.

    TOM: Yeah, laminate. Laminate is what you’re looking for. And have it installed professionally, OK, Jackie? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    TERRY: I’ve recently laid blacktop down probably about two years ago. Now, I’m starting to get some cracks in there. And some of them might be at least a ½-inch wide to ¼-inch. And I’m curious if you have a new product you’re aware of, that was rated highly, to use now to fill cracks with on blacktop?

    TOM: Well, it’s interesting that the driveway was only two years old and it’s already forming cracks. That can mean one thing and one thing only, Terry, and that is that it wasn’t put down very well to begin with. Perhaps the base wasn’t as solid as it should have been. Is this a project that you had a contractor do for you?

    TERRY: Yes. And you’re absolutely right. What happened – I didn’t get the 3 inches I was guaranteed to get. And I drive a semi and in the wintertime, I’ll back my semi up there to plug it in due to the cold weather. I live in Wisconsin.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: And I got off on the edge a little bit and it pushed it down.

    TOM: OK. So, what you want to do is use a latex asphalt crack filler. And then also use a latex top-coat sealer. The latex products today, the formulation is pretty good and they’re a lot easier to work with. But don’t use the sealer on the cracks until you put the crack filler in first. The crack filler has some depth to it, so it can fill up those voids – those ½-inch voids – that you described. Then after you apply the crack filler and seal those cracks up – because, remember, what the purpose of the crack filler is really is to just keep the water out of it and keep it flush so the water doesn’t get in and freeze and make it worse.

    So use the crack filler first and then put a coat of latex sealer on the whole thing. I would just buy one of the squeegees on – with one side, the broom on the other – kind of application tools. Start on one end, go to the other and then stay off it for a couple of days.

    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 home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: Still ahead, it’s called “fall” for a reason. Gravity-defying ideas to get those leaves out of your gutter are next.

    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’d love to talk with you about your fall fix-up projects. Call us now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    And here’s another great reason to reach out by phone or through The Money Pit community because, this hour, we’re giving away a very fun package. It’s a $65 package full of T-Rex Tape which, I’ve got to tell you, is my new most favorite tape in the world.

    I saw this stuff demonstrated. They took it and they froze it in a block of ice, went outside and then broke the block of ice open, pulled off a piece and then went to work repairing a car with it, just to show you how strong this stuff was.

    LESLIE: OK. Like what parts of a car? Putting a fender back on? What are we doing here?

    TOM: Well, what – there was a piece of the fender that was loose and they were just trying to do a quick repair so it wouldn’t fall off. It was just kind of a demonstration. But the point is outside, damp weather, dirty weather, frozen in ice, the stuff still worked. This is super-durable type of tape and it’s really one of the handiest tools to have around the house.

    It’s designed for intense holding power no matter what the application is. They say it’s ferociously strong; I agree. All sorts of technology put into this. It’s got extra-thick adhesion, it’s got UV-resistant materials, very thick cloth that they use to actually create the tape with. It’s just good stuff.

    And we’ve got a $65 package of T-Rex Tape – that is a lot of tape – going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sandy in Florida is dealing with a squeaky door. Tell us what’s going on.

    SANDY: Well, we’ve had this squeaky door now for three years. We’ve tried putting oil on it, we tried using WD-40 and then we went out and bought three new hinges and put on it. And it still is a squeaky door.

    TOM: Are these hinges sort of standard hinges?

    SANDY: Yes. It’s just three standard hinges.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is go out and buy some ball-bearing hinges. There are some upgraded hinges. They’re often used on heavier doors but they rely on ball bearings to open and close instead of just the metal sitting on top of the metal. There’s actually bearings there that the different sides of the door will ride on. And those will be absolutely quiet and they’ll last forever.

    SANDY: Wow. Where would they carry those?

    TOM: Well, I would expect that you would find them – you may need to go to a home center and order them. Go to the millworks section of a home center, bring an old hinge along and try to order a ball-bearing hinge to match it. Or your hardware store. Or you can probably find them online, as well.

    SANDY: Yeah, that’s what we’ll try. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Mario in Iowa is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you?

    MARIO: I have a frame and obviously, it’s a rectangle. But the top side of that rectangle on the existing frame of the masonry in the bedroom, it’s metal. It’s a metal bar. And I’m replacing my old window with a [Glass Works] (ph) preassembled window.

    TOM: OK.

    MARIO: And the mortar – the manufacturer of the mortar, I contacted them and they say that mortar does not adhere to metal. So, I am going to have a gap between the top side metal bar and the window at about a ½-inch. And I’m curious what your recommendation is: whether I should just seal it or actually try to find some material to bond it, not just seal it.

    TOM: So, the gap is going to be on the top or the bottom? What about the sides?

    MARIO: The sides are OK because they’re masonry; they’re cement. So that’s not a concern. It’s some sort of – there was some sort of reinforcing bar put into the top of the frame, I assume, for some structural reason. So that’s my only real concern. The other three sides are masonry and the mortar works fine there.

    TOM: Is this the kind of thing that maybe you could use pressure-treated lumber – a ½-inch piece of – a ½-inch-thick piece of, say, pressure-treated lumber/plywood or pressure-treated plywood as a shim?

    MARIO: Yes, I would think so, yes.

    TOM: Yeah, because I think that’s what I would probably use, something like that. Because you want to basically close down the opening so that the window can be secured. And you could attach the pressure-treated lumber to the old masonry opening and then attach the window to that.

    MARIO: OK. That’s a very good suggestion. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, if you’re thinking that maybe a few leaves and twigs in your gutters are kind of harmless, no big deal, you might want to reconsider because gutter-cleaning is the single most important way to avoid some pretty major and expensive home repairs.

    I put together a short list to kind of make my point, Leslie. Here’s what we’re talking about. Leaking gutters, right? Everybody gets …

    LESLIE: That’s the biggest point, I think.

    TOM: But that’s why people think the only reason they have to clean their gutters is so they don’t overflow but it’s not, because it gets worse. Cracked foundations. All that water laying in and around your foundation is going to freeze and cause them to crack. Rotten wood, especially right under the gutters. Leaking roofs can happen as the gutters try to back up and get into their spaces there. Slippery sidewalks, right? The water overflows, the sidewalks freeze and get slippery. Cracked driveways, washed-out landscaping and of course, wood-destroying insects. All of those things can happen if you do not clean your gutters.

    LESLIE: That is true. I had a neighbor who one time had plants going out of their gutters and I was like, “Hmm. Do you think it’s time to clean those gutters?”

    TOM: This is a sign. Perhaps.

    LESLIE: But truly, guys, it’s not that difficult. If you follow these simple gutter-cleaning tips, you really can help avoid major and expensive home repairs.

    So, first of all, if you are not comfortable with heights or you don’t use tall ladders regularly, cleaning gutters really isn’t a job for you. You might want to consider hiring a handyman or a service that comes quarterly. Whatever you do, if you do decide to do the gutter-cleaning job yourself, watch out for hidden hazards like electric lines and bees’ nests. You really could run into a whole host of problems there.

    Next of all, cleaning your gutters. You want to use that ladder. You need work gloves and a hose. You can clear the gutters beginning at one end and then move along the gutter to the other. Always work from the ladder and not from the roof. Now, if you find any loose gutter sections while you’re working, you can tighten them up as you go just by adjusting those gutter screws.

    Now, spray spouts. When you get to the end of the gutter, you want to spray the hose down the gutter spout. You’ve got to make sure that it’s clear. If it’s not clear-flowing, that can lead to a whole ‘nother leak somewhere else in the house. If the spout’s clogged, you might need to take that spout apart to clear it. And once the spouts are clear, you want to make sure that the place that they’re discharging the water is extended at least 4 to 6 feet away from your house. If it’s too close, you’re going to get a whole ‘nother set of problems.

    Now, gutter guards. That’s sort of like the last step. Once everything’s clean, you can go ahead and put something on the top to make sure that debris doesn’t get into those gutters again. There’s a whole bunch of different styles on the market. Some work better than others. But if you do install those gutter guards, it’s really best to do it once everything is clean and you’ll avoid a repeat failure in the future of your gutters.

    TOM: Good advice.

    And if you’d like some tips on which gutter guards work best and which you might want to avoid, we’ve got a review online. So just search “gutter guards” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Carol in Texas is working on a painting project. How can we lend a hand?

    CAROL: We are painting our bathroom cabinets. They are – they were put in the bathroom in 1980-something. I’m not sure about the date. We bought this house – the people lived in it 28 years and we’ve been here almost 9 years. And they’re kind of a maple color and they’re not very attractive. I’ve used that Orange Glo on them trying to make them look better. I don’t know what they used on them. Probably Liquid Gold or something trying to bring out the sheen.

    But it’s just almost beyond the point. And I’d like to have new cabinets but when we do, we’re probably going to have to redo the whole bathroom, so we decided we would paint them kind of an off-white color.

    What we want to know is: what’s the approach to making that paint stay on?

    LESLIE: Now, you said that the cabinets are a maple color. Are they actually wood and they’re stained?

    CAROL: Yeah, that’s the stain on them. They’re stained.

    LESLIE: So they’re stained wood. It’s not like a Thermofoil that looks like wood or a laminate? It’s wood.

    CAROL: No, it’s real wood. They’re real wood cabinets.

    LESLIE: Now, if they’ve been stained and restained over the course of a couple of years and you’ve got a lot of coatings of a cleaner on there, your best bet would be – and this is how I would kind of tackle it. I would remove the doors and the drawer fronts, being very careful about labeling which goes where, you know? A little piece of painters tape on the back side and a little piece on the hinge saying, “A-A,” or “1-1,” just so you know exactly where things go back.

    And I would leave the hinges either on the door or on the box. It’s kind of easier to leave them on the box, just for painting issues. And this way, you know exactly where everything goes back; that just kind of keeps things tidy.

    And then, you really need to get some of that sheen off. So you could do it a couple of different ways. You could use something that’s like a liquid sandpaper that you wipe on that gets rid of some of that sheen. But if it’s a super-high gloss and they’ve been oiled or polished over the years and they’re very sort of gunked up, almost, with a lot of finish on them, you may want to sand them down a little bit. Because you need to get down to something that’s a little bit not so glossy and so built up from years of cleaning and just the yuck that happens in the bathroom, just so that you’ve got a surface that the paint’s going to stick to.

    And once you’ve done that to the doors or drawer fronts and the boxes themselves in the bathroom, you need to prime it very well with a high-quality primer. I would use KILZ or Zinsser – one of those that’ll stick very, very well – let that dry very thoroughly and then go ahead with your topcoat paint. And because it’s in a bathroom and because it’s a high-moisture area and it’s something that you’re going to want to be cleaning a lot, I would go with a glossy finish and an oil base if I can get my hands on one. If not, a glossy latex will do the trick but more durable, of course, would be the oil base.

    CAROL: Thank you and I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    If you’re looking forward to having a beautiful, green lawn in the springtime, the first chance you have to make sure that happens is right now. Not only is fall the perfect time to plant a new lawn or seed the one you have, now is the time to get your lawn ready to face the long winter ahead. We’re going to have tips from the experts at Bonide, after this.

    MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by for your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or you may post them to the Community page at MoneyPit.com. And The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you’ll find top-rated home pros you can trust. It’s really the easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    Well, if you’re looking forward to having a beautiful, green lawn in spring, the first chance you have to make sure that happens is now. Because not only is fall the perfect time to plant a new lawn or to seed the one you already have, fall is also the time to get your lawn ready to face that long winter ahead.

    LESLIE: For the step-by-step on how to do just that, we welcome Art Cockett, a lawn-care expert with Bonide. Bonide has been providing lawn-and-garden solutions for the past 80 years.

    So, Art, is fall lawn care something people often really just forget about?

    ART: Well, first of all, thank you, Leslie and Tom, for having me on.

    But yes, sometimes people sometimes overlook the fall lawn care. And if you ask me, it’s actually the beginning of the year, the way I look at it. Sort of like a fiscal year. Now is the time to get started to have a good lawn for next year.

    TOM: So what’s the first thing you need to do if you’re a – you know, a lot of us are just sort of enjoying the remaining pleasant days of weather here before it really starts to get super cold. Then, of course, the winter comes in. What should we be doing right now to kind of determine the right steps to take? Because I think lawn care is something that folks get confused about, especially when it comes to deciding what products you need to apply to it to get rid of the weeds and to make sure your lawn is well fed to survive the months ahead.

    ART: Well, the first thing I suggest is to assess the situation and determine just what your goals need to be, whether it’s a question of if seeding is necessary, if you have bare spaces or if you have a lot of crabgrass that is getting ready to go away for the winter – of course, it dies out soon – or if you just simply need to take care of a few weeds or just normal maintenance, fertilization, that type of thing.

    So, it’s really a question of just how bad a shape your lawn is in and then we would go from there.

    LESLIE: Well, I think a lot of people just assume that springtime is the growing season and that’s when you should do any seeding if the lawn’s in bad shape or has been in bad shape from the previous summer. But should you be doing that now so it’s got the winter to kind of take root?

    ART: Yeah, actually, fall is the best time to plant grass seed because the soil temperatures are warmer. And the seed will germinate sooner and get established more quickly. And it’s the time of year that the roots like to grow.

    So, a lot of people do seed in the spring and frankly, fall is a much better time. Soil temperatures, as I mentioned, but moisture availability. It’s really – the right time to plant grass seed is in the fall.

    LESLIE: Art, if you do need to seed, I mean I imagine there’s probably the right seed for the right situation. And it’s probably difficult to figure out what that seed is. How do you know which seed to put down on your property?

    ART: Well, it’s really not that hard. You can trust Bonide, because we have all the best grass-seed varieties in our different mixes. And we have the appropriate grass types that are in our full sun, sun and shade, dense shade. And we also have high-traffic and a heat-and-drought mixture for difficult situations and when moisture is an issue.

    So, it’s not too hard to pick the right grass seed because we have the right mixtures there. Our grass-seed varieties are second to none. We’ve bred them for color, texture, disease-resistance, rapid establishment and so on so that it’s top-notch grass seed. It’s not too hard to pick it out and go from there.

    After that, it’s a matter of soil prep and proper seed-to-soil contact and making sure that the grass seed is in contact with the soil. If you need to cover it with something like a peat moss or a straw to hold moisture, you’ll have much more success.

    TOM: Art, let me ask you the same question about the weed-killer products that are out there. There are so many different weed killers that are available and they’re different formulas. Some are granules, some are liquid. What do you recommend at Bonide for a weed killer?

    ART: For this time of year, as we’re getting towards the cooler temperatures, Bonide has a product that is unique on the market called Weed Beater Ultra. And it works down to 45 degrees. Most of the broad-leafed weed killers out there need 65-degree weather and rapidly-growing weeds. This time of year, as the weeds are not growing as quickly and the temperatures are lower, the Weed Beater Ultra will do a great job.

    And the other selling point to it is that it will – you can seed within two weeks after you use it. So, other products, you have to wait a lot longer. So, really, you can get some weeds killed now and whenever you kill weeds, you have to be sure to plant some grass seed soon before the next generation of weeds grow in, because there’s always weed seeds waiting to get going.

    So, the Weed Beater Ultra is a liquid and I’d recommend that one as the temperatures cool off. We also have a Weed & Feed if you want to kill two birds with one stone and fertilize while you kill weeds. And then we have a straight lawn weed-killer granule, OK? So that one has no fertilizer in it. And the two granular products work best if the lawn is moist in the morning and has a chance to stick to the weeds.

    So, we have – whatever anyone wants to put down, whether they prefer to go with a granule and put it in the fertilizer spreader or if they would prefer to spray, we have the Weed Beater Ultra in a little trigger sprayer or a hose-end sprayer. Or you can put it in your own sprayer: pump-up type, what-have-you. So, whatever is easier for the homeowner to do, either one will get the job done.

    TOM: We’re talking to Art Cockett. He’s a lawn-care expert with Bonide.

    And Art, what is it that folks usually get wrong when it comes to lawn care?

    ART: Well, there’s a lot of things, I suppose. Simple things as mowing height and how often they mow. You should mow your lawn no more than one-third of the amount of grass at a time, of the length. And then cut it to a good, tall 3 inches or so. Most people like to mow it too short and that makes more opportunity for weed seeds to get a good start. So, I think the number-one thing that seems so simple is proper mowing.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s because they want to try to spread out the time between those mowings. But that’s just really a short thinking right there, because you’re going to have a very unhealthy and very weedy lawn if you keep cutting it down to nubs, right?

    ART: That’s right. And more frequent mowing is definitely the way to go. You don’t want to let it get too tall and then mow it. And it’s much healthier to mow it more often and just take a little bit off at a time.

    LESLIE: Truly, if fall really is the time to seed, is it also the time to fertilize, even if you don’t need seeding?

    ART: Absolutely. So if your lawn is in good shape and you don’t need to seed, then right now is the time, coming up here, to use our Bonide Winterizer, which is a fertilizer for fall that gets the plants prepared for spring and so you have an early spring green up next year. But if you are going to plant grass seed, you’ve got to be sure to use the starter fertilizer, which is a different type of fertilizer that encourages roots instead of the top growth. So, if you are going to seed, as we said, now is the time but there are proper steps to go through.

    TOM: Now, you have, at your website, Bonide.com – it’s B-o-n-i-d-e.com – you have a tool called the Bonide Problem Solver. I took a look at it. This is very, very handy because folks do get confused. But if they go and use that tool, they can get a real good sense as to what might be going on with their lawn.

    I see you also have sort of an Ask the Expert feature. So if folks really have questions that are not covered there, can they write you?

    ART: Absolutely. Go on our website and there’s more than – there’s a few ways to contact us. But that Problem Solver is a great way to check things out for yourself. It’s not just about lawns. What it does is it helps to find problems – diagnose problems. And then from there, it helps with the solutions to all the problems. And that includes, you know, insects in the garden or in the lawn and several different applications that the Problem Solver has.

    TOM: Well, Art, thank you so much for taking some time with us today. I think this is a really important topic.

    Folks, got to get out there and get those lawns ready, right now, to survive the winter ahead. Get the seed planted, get that fertilizer going. Let’s take care of the weeds because next spring, believe me, you will thank us for that advice.

    Art Cockett with Bonide, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ART: Thank you very much, Tom.

    And Leslie, thank you, as well.

    TOM: And if you’d like more information, again, go to their website, Bonide.com – B-o-n-i-d-e.com. And be sure to check out Bonide’s Problem Solver online, right there, on Bonide.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, Art. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Hey, just ahead, ‘tis the season to say, “Boo.” Up next, we’ve got easy and inexpensive Halloween-decorating ideas you can do with your kids, after this.

    TOM: Well, do you have a home improvement project in mind? A fall fix-up job? A do-it-yourself project, perhaps, you’re stuck in the middle of? Well, if you do, you’re in exactly the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you a home-improving weekend warrior? Then have we got a sweepstakes for you. We’ve partnered with The Home Depot on a sweepstakes that’ll make tool hounds drool, with a shot at winning some of the coolest tools from the aisles of The Home Depot.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s $4,500 worth of tools going out to quite a few, actually, winners, because we’ve kind of spread out the wealth, right? If you’re the grand-prize winner, you’re going to take home a Milwaukee 16-Drawer Tool Chest, as well as a Milwaukee M18 Cordless Combo Kit. Beautiful tools there.

    If you are the first-prize winner – and there’s two of these – you can pick up a Husky 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench, a 268-Piece Husky Mechanics Tool Set and a beautiful, new level. And if you are a second-place winner, you could pick up 1 of 10 – count them, 10 – RYOBI 18-Volt Combo Kits. And for all you third-place prize winners, well, we didn’t forget about you. We are going to send out about 27 copies of our book – autographed, that is ­– My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    So we’ve got a boatload of prizes going out, thanks to our friends at The Home Depot. But you’ve got to help yourself first by going to MoneyPit.com and entering the Home-Improving Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes. Now, you can enter once a day and you can even get more entries and more chances to win by sharing the sweeps with your friends at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Well, Halloween can be such a fun time of year and a holiday that you really can get into the spirit of without breaking your decorating or even your energy budget.

    Now, you just have to think a little bit creatively. If you don’t want to go to the store and buy expensive decorations that you’ll just have to find room to store, think DIY. Now, a lot of people are buying crazy, special lights that project things onto the houses. And they look spooky and they’re a lot of fun but they really do drive up your electricity bill.

    Why not cover a window or two, along the front side of your house, with inexpensive black paper? I mean you can buy it by the roll. You can use wrapping paper. You can use pieces of construction paper and just tape it together. Whatever you’ve got in your house, it doesn’t have to be expensive. And then you can cut out spooky shapes. Maybe it’s the silhouette of a witch or a mummy, something totally spooky. And the lights that you have on the inside will really create a great effect to the people outside. And then you can use those cutouts, tape them to your other windows if you want, around the house. You can move it around to freak out the trick-or-treaters. And then when you’re all done, recycle that paper. No storing. Easy peasy.

    Now, if you’re looking for a project for the outside of your house, that isn’t just jack o’lanterns, there are a couple of fun things that you can do. Everybody loves painting rocks and glow-in-the-dark paint is available everywhere. You can do cool, little shapes, cool patterns. You can just paint the whole rock and just sort of scatter them around your yard or make a fun shape on the lawn. And once those rocks have absorbed all of the sun’s energy during the day, in the evening time you’ll have a cool, spooky, glow-y effect.

    Another great project that you can do with the kids is luminaries. You can buy some paper bags at the craft store or even just brown paper bags that you have at home and some battery-operated candles. Those are the only things that you’re going to reuse year after year. And you and the kids can paint cool shapes onto the bags or cut out shapes to make them look like a jack o’lantern. And you can use those to light up your walkway so the trick-or-treaters have an easy way to find your house. And it really does create an extra spooky welcome.

    Still ahead, if you have hardwood floors but they’re looking a bit worn, we’re going to have tips on an easy way to refinish them without the need for major sanding, after this.

    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: Call us now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    LESLIE: But right now, you’ve got two pros ready to help you out with whatever you are working on. And we’re going to jump in from a post in the Community section, where Emily writes – and she’s from Minnesota. She writes: “I’d like to either have my hardwood floors refinished or refinish them myself. They’re faded near the windows from the sun and scratched and worn in other places. What’s the best way to tackle this project?”

    Hire a pro and leave your house for two days.

    TOM: That’s one way to do it.

    LESLIE: End of story.

    TOM: Right. But if you do want to do it yourself – and you say they’re scratched, so I’m thinking that maybe they’re not horribly damaged. Because here’s the thing: you want to avoid having to sand through that finish, down to the raw wood if you can possibly avoid it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But do you think those scratches are just in the surface finish itself and not on the wood?

    TOM: Yeah, most likely. Because it’s a hardwood floor, they may just be in the surface itself. Or even if they’re in the wood a little bit, unless they’re really bad you don’t want to sand off that old finish completely. Because when you do, you take away a lot of life out of that floor.

    Have you seen the sanding machines they use for hardwood floors? They’re like humungous belt sanders. They’re 12 inches wide and they have really course grit on them. And they just tear into that floor. And so, remember, tongue-and-groove floors may be ¾-inch thick but on the groove side of it, you only have about a third of the meat above the tongue. So that basically means you’ve got about a ¼-inch of good wood to work with. Probably even less, because you can’t go down too far. So that’s one, maybe two sandings max. So if you can avoid sanding it, I’d say avoid it.

    Instead, there’s a very handy machine that’s available for rent pretty much everywhere. It’s called a U-Sand machine. It’s four spinning discs underneath sort of a square head with a vacuum attachment so it pulls the dust off.

    LESLIE: Which it’s not shaped like a U and you do it, so it’s not spelled like you. You’re doing it. It’s a silly name but it’s a great tool.

    TOM: Yeah. I think the idea is that you do do it yourself with this thing. But it’s kind of hard to screw it up. The belt sander, if you just happen to scratch your nose while you’re doing it, forget it, you’re going to dig into that floor and make damage you can’t come out of. But the U-Sand machine is pretty handy.

    So, what you could do is, of course, pull all the furniture out, sweep out all the dirt and run the U-Sand machine over it. You’ll just be taking off sort of the upper layer of the finish. Now, when it comes to being right next to the wall, you’re going to have to do that by hand. But get it really, really clean.

    And then what I want you to do is to use polyurethane. And you want to get at least two coats on it but let it thoroughly dry between coats. And as Leslie was sort of alluding to numerously before, sometimes it doesn’t dry very quick. So, you’ve got to really watch the weather. I mean if it’s going to be a damp week, I just wouldn’t do it. But if it looks like it’s going to be a pretty nice, decently dry week, then go ahead and do it. Paint yourself right into that room with the polyurethane.

    And by the way, when it comes to applying it, cut in along the edges with a brush and then use a lambswool applicator. It looks kind of like a wet mop for your kitchen floor. And you just sort of mop on the urethane. Two coats, three at the most is what will do it. And for the first week or two, I’d lay down some rosin paper. It’s this pink paper that comes at building-supply stores and just kind of make sure all the traffic’s on that. Because it does take a while for it to really solidify.

    LESLIE: And you really want to make sure that you allow each coat to dry thoroughly before you put the next coat on. Because if it’s not fully dry, it will never dry and you’ll end up with a really sticky, gook-y mess. So more drying is better.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We want you to know that we are here for you, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can call any time of the day or the night. Whenever a home improvement question crosses your mind, pick up the phone and call it in. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And that includes our podcast audience. Plus, you can always post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com, as well.

    Happy Fall, everybody. Get out there and clean those gutters, will you? 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.)

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