Kitchen Updates for Under $1,000 #1010162

  • Kitchen Tile Backsplash
  • 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: We’d love to talk with you about your home. What are you working on today? Are you working on your roof? Are you painting the walls? Are you planning to do some insulation so you can avoid high heating bills? Are you tackling a kitchen? Many folks are doing that project now so it gets done in time for the holidays. Whatever you’re working on, we can help. But help yourself, first, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, summer may have come to an end but your fresh supply of veggies doesn’t have to. We’ve got some tips on how to turn your summer vegetable garden into a fall vegetable garden, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And are you hoping to sell your home fast? Well, consider updating with must-haves for young buyers who are snatching up homes at lightning speed. Give you the scoop on how to market, decorate and present your house, with these eager millennials in mind, for a quick sale.

    TOM: Plus, kitchen renovations are super popular right now but they are expensive. We’ve got five updates that you can do for under a thousand bucks.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re going to shed some light around your home because we’re giving away the brand-new Mr. Beams. It’s a home safety and security lighting bundle, including the new Mr. Beams LED Spotlight. It’s battery-powered and can light your home for up to a full year.

    TOM: That package is worth 169 bucks but it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bridget in Illinois is on the line. What is going on with that musty odor at your money pit? Tell us about it.

    BRIDGET: So my crawlspace is about a 15×15-foot area and it opens up into my basement.

    TOM: Yep.

    BRIDGET: But I bought an older home and the addition just has the crawlspace.

    TOM: OK.

    BRIDGET: So, right now, it’s just dirt and I see some – they’ve laid some cardboard in there but I heard last week that cardboard breeds mold, from your shows. So I removed the cardboard.

    TOM: Yeah. Not only that but laying directly on the dirt, that is a termite feast waiting to happen there. So, what you need to do is a couple of things. You need to get the cardboard out of the crawlspace and off of that soil. Then you need to lay heavy plastic down, like Visqueen – very thick sheet plastic – down across that whole soil surface. That’s going to stop a lot of the moisture from evaporating up off that soil and getting into the air, which is causing the musty smell in your basement.

    Now, do you have vents in this addition that are open to the outside so that the crawlspace can get some fresh air?

    BRIDGET: Uh-huh.

    TOM: Do you have a door that closes the crawlspace off from the main basement?

    BRIDGET: No, I don’t.

    TOM: OK. So, what you’re going to need to do is to form or construct some sort of a hatchway that closes off that opening between the crawlspace and the basement. They don’t need to be connected and in fact if they are, it’s going to lead to energy loss.

    There’s a couple of ways that you can do that and what you might think about doing, if it’s just sort of a standard opening that maybe is 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall – I don’t know. But if it’s something like that, you could take a piece of 1-inch Styrofoam and put a piece of plywood on the front of that and this way construct, essentially, an insulated hatchway there so that you can really seal that in and keep the cold side on the crawlspace and let the basement be the warm side.

    I think those couple of things are going to solve your musty smell in your basement and it’s also going to make that crawlspace much, much drier, which is important. If you let that moisture continue to evaporate off the soil, what’s going to happen is you’re eventually going to get not only an inefficient situation, because your insulation will be damp, but you could get termites, you could get mold or decay of the floor structure.

    BRIDGET: OK. And my other question is if I put the Visqueen down, how much do I overlap the pieces?

    TOM: Very good question. I would overlap it about 4 feet. You don’t want to put it edge to edge.

    BRIDGET: OK. And then someone told me that maybe I should put lime down underneath, first, to dry out the area in case there’s like serious backdraft?

    TOM: No. You cannot possibly take all the moisture away with lime that’s under that, OK? No. Just cover it with the Visqueen, make sure the vents are open, seal it off from the basement and I think you’ll be good to go.

    And by the way, at that foundation perimeter, you can also reduce the amount of moisture getting in there by making sure you have gutters on the addition, the downspouts are extended 4 to 6 feet from the house and the soil is always sloping away. All that moisture management is going to help.

    BRIDGET: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Bridget. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: James in Illinois is on the line and is looking to make a fire pit at their money pit. What’s going on?

    JAMES: Well, I just want to know what’s the best way to build a fire pit in the ground. Would you use fire brick or would you get like those galvanized rings?

    TOM: You know, there’s a really nice fire-pit kit that’s on the market now at Home Depot that’s made by Pavestone. It’s called a RumbleStone Fire Pit Kit. I like it because it contains everything that you need. It’s got the stone, which you can use to create the round fire pit itself, and then it also has a metal insert and a screen. So, basically everything you need is in the box and you can pick it up and put it together and they’re pretty good about giving the instructions and step-by-step. Why don’t you take a look at that?

    I’ve got to tell you, I have a fire pit now but if I was doing it again, I would pick up the RumbleStone Round Fire Pit Kit at Home Depot.

    JAMES: What would – the metal ring that goes around there? How thick is it? And would it rust and you’d have to replace it in a couple years?

    TOM: I’ve had metal fire pits for a number of years and I find that they’re good for five or six or seven years. So I don’t think it’s an every year kind of thing. And this one, in particular, is made of heavy steel.

    JAMES: And what’s the price of that?

    TOM: I think it’s around 400 bucks, maybe 400 or 450 bucks, something like that. But it includes everything, so it’s all in there: the brick, the stone, the metal ring and so on.

    JAMES: OK. Well, I thank you very much.

    TOM: RumbleStone will work very well.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, eating fresh and local doesn’t have to end once summer does. We’ve got tips to help you transition your summer vegetable garden into a fall harvest, after this.

    ANNOUNCER 1: Football night in my house is a big deal: the whole family, a couple of pizzas and the game on TV. And since I installed the new Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron, it’s even better. I just tap my phone and the lights shift to create the perfect viewing environment. Now if we just win a game, everything would be great.

    ANNOUNCER 2: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart-home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    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: Here to help you with your home improvement or décor projects. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer plus, this hour, we’re giving away a pretty fun product or actually a set of products. It’s the Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle by Mr. Beams, including the Mr. Beams LED Spotlight, which is a battery-powered 200-lumen spotlight.

    It’s so impressive that they’ve got this down now where these spotlights can work off of battery power. Think about this: this means you don’t have to run wiring when you want to hook up a new outside spotlight. You basically hang this on the wall and you are good to go. You want to add lighting? You want to increase security? All you need is the Mr. Beams LED Spotlight to do just that. It’s also got a very cool reflector face, which gives you a very wide coverage area of 600 square feet.

    If you’d like more information, you can visit them at The spotlight itself is worth 29.99 but the entire bundle includes several of Mr. Beams’ lights for a total value of 170 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading over to Illinois. Gail has got an issue with airflow at the roofline. What’s going on?

    GAIL: Well, my home is a pole-barn constructed home, three years old, all metal, on 4 feet up off the ground. And my heating duct and the air-conditioning, it’s all in the ceiling. And I have high ceilings – vaulted ceilings. And I’m having trouble with settlement. It’s settling, as far as I’m concerned, way too much and I don’t know if there’s – in the tape that – from between the duct tape that there are – not the duct tape but the tape in the …

    TOM: Yeah, the drywall tape. Yeah. So you’re getting some cracking and some movement in that ceiling area, Gail?

    GAIL: Oh, yeah. I know I’ve got movement in the house because there’s – you know, it’s all open.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.

    GAIL: And I know there’s not walls. The whole thing’s in place.

    TOM: Yep.

    GAIL: So, therefore, I’m going to get some. But this one that concerns me is in the back because – my son’s in construction and he said, “Well, you don’t have it vented out. It could be a damp problem up there.” I had my contractor come out today and take a look at it and there’s no dampness in because they spray with some kind of a solvent that adheres to the floor – I mean up on the ceiling and around the sides and it seals it in. And my son was concerned that – he says, “Well, where’s the air vent?” I said, “Well, I guess we don’t have one.”

    TOM: OK. So let me give you some background information on this type of an application. So, it sounds like your home has been insulated with spray foam. It’s an excellent product. In fact, I have it in my own house. And when you use a spray-foam application, you do not – do not – vent the attic. You only vent the attic if you’re using a batt insulation, like fiberglass or cellulose or mineral wool. In those cases, you need to vent the attic because it carts moisture out. When you use spray foam, your attic is not an unconditioned attic; it’s become a conditioned attic. And so in that case, you do not vent it.

    I don’t think your problem is a lack of ventilation. In fact, I’m sure of that with a spray-foam house. I think what you’re describing to me is normal expansion and contraction in a newer home. Those types of situations where the drywall tape loosens up and cracks and pulls away, pretty typical in that particular type of scenario.

    Now, the repair on this has to be done in such a way that you’re not just sort of putting back what’s there. You need to pull off the loose tape, all of it. Cut it away. And then you’re going to gently sand that area. And then you’re going to apply a type of drywall tape that’s perforated and made of fiberglass. It looks like netting. And it’s tacky, so you can basically stick it on across the crack. And then you put three coats of spackle over that. And what that tends to do is bridge the gap across that seam much better than just paper tape would and hopefully stop the crack from reforming.

    So you can’t just try to respackle what’s there. It’ll just keep showing through again and again and again. You need to take off the loose tape and replace it with the perforated tape and then refinish it, prime it, paint it and you’re done.

    Gail, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    DARREN: Yes. I’m trying to convert my toilet from regular water in the house to a rain – 265-gallon rain barrel outside. So, piping it in underneath my house I had the CPVC – the smaller stuff. So what I was wondering is: do I have to filter that water? And if I pump it in there, what is the max PSI that I should use?

    TOM: Are you putting a pump on it?

    DARREN: I’m going to have a solar pump on it.

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, no. You don’t have to filter toilet water because it’s waste water. It’s gray water. So it can go straight in.

    Secondly, how much pressure do you need? Well, I guess that’s really going to depend on the toilet but I would think most water pressure in a house is going to be anywhere between 50 and 70 pounds. So that’s probably what your toilet’s used to working with.

    And thirdly, you want to make sure – I know it’s – I mean it’s a great thing you’re doing trying to use rainwater for all this but let’s not forget the obvious: make sure your toilet itself is efficient. Toilets today can use as little as about 1.3 gallons of water per flush. So if you’d have an older toilet, you might want to upgrade it so you’d need even less water for the flushing mechanism.

    DARREN: Alright. Well, that’s something to think about, also.

    TOM: What other green upgrades are you making to the house?

    DARREN: This actually all started with – I put in a drinking system for my pigs.

    TOM: OK. Oh, you’ve got a farm there?

    DARREN: I have a farm. I have a small farm in Damascus, Virginia and we piped, in the stalls, drinking nipples for the pigs because they kept spilling all their water. So now, they are totally self-sufficient. They have a solar-powered pump at 40 PSI going to these nipples and it’s coming off of their roof into a rain barrel that feeds it.

    TOM: Wow. So this is a natural extension of that? And if it’s good enough for the pigs, I guess it’s going to be good enough for your home plumbing system, as well.

    DARREN: Yeah, yeah. I definitely want to try to do as much as I can with Mother Nature before I have to depend on somebody else.

    TOM: Alright. Well, it makes a lot of sense.

    Darren, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, that steady stream of fresh tomatoes from your garden might be coming to an end but you can keep that produce going well into the cooler weather by transitioning your summer vegetable garden into a fall veggie garden.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, beets and turnips, they all grow really well in cooler weather. Now, the key is rejuvenating your soil. You’ve got to replenish all the nutrients that it spent growing those summer veggies.

    TOM: So, first, what you need to do is pull out the plants that are done producing and then yank out any loose weeds or debris. Next, you want to add some compost and mulch and layer some straw or hay on top of it, as well. That’s going to insulate the garden when the temperatures start to drop.

    LESLIE: Now, most fall vegetables can endure a little frost but you can extend their season by up to a month if you simply add a frost blanket right on top of the hay.

    TOM: Just sow one seed every couple of inches and before you know it, you’ll be replacing those store-bought salad fixings with the fresher versions from your very own fall backyard garden.

    888-666-3974. If you are tackling a fresh home improvement project, we’d love to help. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in Texas is on the line with a question about algae on a roof. What’s going on at your money pit?

    BILL: OK. I’ve got a little issue with a lot of this – I would say it was algae. It’s green on the north side of my house.

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: And I have power-washed it in the past but all I used was straight water. And it didn’t take long to come back. I’m looking to paint it here pretty soon and wondered if you have anything in mind that I ought to use.

    TOM: So, first of all, you should understand why it’s happening. North side of the house being the cooler side of the house is where you usually get the most deposit of mold, moss, mildew or algae.

    BILL: I’ve also got a lot of bushes there. I’m sure that’s part of my problem.

    TOM: Yeah, I agree. When you block sunlight, that’s the most natural mildicide out there. When you block sunlight, then you invite that. So, to the extent possible, you should try to thin those bushes out a bit or cut them back a bit at least to let some more air and sunlight get in there.

    Now, in terms of eliminating the problem that you have now, can’t just blast off the algae like you’ve done in the past because, as you’ve seen, it comes right back. What you have to do is you have to use an algaecide that actually kills the algae. And that gets right down into the root of the matter, where it’s attaching to the house, and stops it from regrowing.

    There’s a product called Spray & Forget that works quite well. And you simply apply it and then it will stop the algae from growing itself and basically, it falls away. So Spray & Forget takes a little while for that to happen but it’s very effective. And you can apply it then periodically, say, every three months or so to stop it from growing once again. That would be the best way to get it off and have it stay off. Spray & Forget.

    BILL: Sounds like a plan.

    TOM: Alright, Bill. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    MICHAEL: I have an A/C coil that has an issue with it. It’s positioned at an angle – air handler in my attic. And I believe this is so it will allow condensation to run down the baffles, into a drain pan. But mine doesn’t do that. The condensation simply drops off the baffles, directly into the bottom of the air handler, not into the drain pan.

    Yeah, so I’m wondering if there’s a spray coating or something I can add to it to make it cohesive, where the water will stick to it until it goes to the drain pan. I had the A/C unit serviced last summer and one of technicians told me that the – he said, “The coating has worn off of your baffles and you just need to replace it.”

    TOM: It sounds to me like it’s the kind of thing that’s installed when the product is manufactured, not something that’s added as an after-market.

    So, is all the moisture dripping off of this as opposed to going – is most of the moisture getting to the drain pan or is it all just sort of spilling off all over the place?

    MICHAEL: The drain pan is completely dry. It just drips directly from the coil, from the baffles, into the bottom of the air-handler unit.

    TOM: Rusting everything out, too.

    MICHAEL: It’s rusting and from the air intake down the hall, it finally built up enough where it was basically leaking.

    TOM: And there’s no clog of any of the drainage of this down to that pan? There’s nothing that’s backed up? Because very often, some of that internal plumbing gets backed up.

    MICHAEL: No. There’s nothing in the drain pan to drain out. It’s completely dry. It doesn’t drain down the baffles into the drain pan. It just drips directly into the bottom of the air handler. I wondered if just getting – I mean I looked at – there’s some cleaners you can go on and clean your coil with and things like that. And I suppose that may help – I don’t know – but …

    TOM: It wouldn’t hurt. But the thing is you’re not going to know until next summer.

    MICHAEL: Well, yeah. I could turn the A/C down and check it temporarily but …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of unusual but what would happen is sometimes technicians will see these same units over and over again, because they’re common to a particular area of the country or area of a state. And so they get accustomed to diagnosing this kind of defect over and over again. But unfortunately, I’m not aware of any type of coating that can replace what was probably put on when those blades were made originally.

    MICHAEL: Not the news I was looking for but …

    TOM: Alright. Well, thanks for giving it a shot.

    MICHAEL: Yep. Thanks.

    TOM: You’ve got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Are you looking to sell your house fast? Well, millennials are buying homes at dizzying speeds if you know what they’re looking for. We’re going to share inside tips on selling your house to this active group of home buyers, after this.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on this beautiful fall weekend? We’re here to help. Soup to nuts and floorboards to shingles, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Dane on the line from Tennessee looking to save some dollars on those energy bills. How can we help?

    DANE: I had a $190 electric bill last month. So, I’ve been trying to find ways to save electrical costs, like not having the air conditioner turned down so low during the daytime. But I’ve been trying to look for the perfect kind of bulb to save the most electricity.

    TOM: Well, the LED technology is so rock-solid now that that’s definitely the way to go and the prices have come way down. You can buy LED bulbs. When they first came out, they were 75 bucks each, which was kind of crazy. But now you can find a good LED bulb for under 10 bucks. And the nice thing is that these things last 20 years or more. So it’s not like you’re ever going to have to replace them or certainly not anytime soon.

    So the LED bulbs that are available at home centers and hardware stores, I think, are the way to go. I don’t think that’s going to be the main reason your electrical bill was so high. You mentioned your air conditioning. How is your house heated and cooled? Is it electric heat? Is it gas heat? What have you got?

    DANE: It’s electric heat. I don’t own my own home; I rent. So, I’m probably in the same scenario as a lot of people nowadays who either can’t afford to own their own home or their credit isn’t good enough.

    TOM: Yeah. So let me give you a suggestion. One of the things that I often recommend to renters is that you buy your own thermostat. Now, replacing the existing thermostat in your house is not a very difficult project. And if you were to buy a smart thermostat – like a Nest, for example; I’ve got two of those in my home – you’re going to have the capability to regulate your heating and cooling in a way you never, ever did before.

    There’s a couple advantages to this. So, for example, the Nest thermostats have a geo-fence built into them. What that means is you can choose two temperatures: one for when you’re home and one for when you’re not. And when you leave the house, the fact that your phone is no longer in that house tells that thermostat to go down to a vacation setting, which is a lower temperature than it normally would. When you come back, it starts to cool again.

    You can also set schedules and it also has a motion detector built into it so that if there’s no action in front of the thermostat, it also can go into vacation mode. So these smart thermostats today give you all sorts of ways for you to save energy. And it’s such a simple installation that when you move out, you could replace the old thermostat and take this with you to the next apartment or the next house and then hook it up there.

    DANE: There’s only one issue with that. I’m actually a truck driver and me and my fiancée live here. And we are expecting our first child together.

    TOM: Congratulations.

    DANE: Thank you. So she’s always here. She takes care of the house but a lot of pregnant women, they get a lot hotter during pregnancy, so they tend to use the thermostat quite a bit more.

    TOM: Sure, I understand that. And certainly, we want your fiancée to be as comfortable to be as possible. But this is just a short-term situation. Moving on beyond that, the kind of technology that’s available in smart thermostats and other smart-home products today is inexpensive and really can overall contribute towards a lot of energy savings. So I do encourage you to take a look at that.

    The light bulbs certainly are one thing and the thermostat is another. You know, being strategic with the drapes and the blinds and making sure that the south windows are well covered so that you reduce heat gain, these are things that you, as a renter, can do. And that will have an impact on your energy bill.

    DANE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright, Dane. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and congratulations on your new child.

    Well, if you’re getting ready to sell the home that you’ve spent a good many years in, you might want to consider a few updates to make that home more attractive to a millennial home buyer. These millennials are buying their first home and they’re making up more and more of the market. And if you know how to attract them, the chances are you’ll sell your house quicker and at a much better price.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Here’s the deal: many of these young buyers are just simply leery of purchasing a home that requires a lot of maintenance or repairs. So you want to be sure to schedule a home inspection before you list the house. The resulting report you’re going to get will help you address any worries or fears about non-existent problems.

    TOM: Now, young buyers are also looking for homes with plenty of light and space. So you want to do some smart staging and a few simple, cosmetic improvements to make your house as bright as possible.

    And finally, you want to make your community a part of the marketing, too, because buyers really want to know about the great schools, the recreational amenities and the people that live nearby. All that together will help you move your home quicker to the millennial home buying market.

    LESLIE: Up next, is a new kitchen in your plans this year? What? Not unless you win the lottery? Well, it might not take that kind of windfall. We’ve got five updates for under a grand, after this.

    ANNOUNCER 1: My family’s well-being is what I’m all about. And now with Caseta by Lutron, I’ve got that peace of mind.

    Caseta is a smart-home lighting system I control from my phone. It’s like magic. I was out of town last week and had set the porch lights to come on at dusk. So, my family felt safe, like I was there.

    ANNOUNCER 2: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. Plus, we’re giving away the Mr. Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle. And that includes the Mr. Beams LED Spotlight.

    Now, the spotlight has got a way brighter light and the best part is that it’s battery-powered. And that battery is going to last about a year if it comes on about 8 to 10 times a day, which is pretty average. It’s got a wireless installation, so you can put it anywhere around your home or yard to give you that extra light that you need. And it has a really cool reflector face that creates a wider coverage area of about 600 square feet of light.

    Check it out. The product line is amazing. It’s And you can find the LED Spotlight there for 29.99 but the bundle includes several of Mr. Beams’ lights for a total value of 170 bucks.

    TOM: Going out to one caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Theresa on the line who wants to change her deck from paint to stain. What’s going on at your money pit?

    THERESA: We have a deck. We have replaced half of the deck with – what do you call that? – pretreated lumber?

    TOM: Yep. Treated lumber, OK.

    THERESA: And we got – and I really don’t know what to do because half the deck is now replaced and the other half is still painted with paint, not stain.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Are you planning on replacing the painted lumber, as well, or not?

    THERESA: Well, I was actually wanting to use some type of solid stain, because I think they’ve come out with some new stuff now. So maybe I would use it over all of the deck.

    TOM: Yeah, the thing is since it’s been painted, you’re really going to have to get all that old paint off. You can’t stain over paint because there’s nothing for the stain to soak into unless it’s so worn that it’s exposed sort of the pores of the wood. But you’re talking about solid-color stain. It has a lot of pigment in it. Kind of looks like paint; it just doesn’t have the glaze to it. But it gives it a lot of protection.

    And since the pressure-treated side is brand new, I would tell you to probably wait until next spring to tackle that. Because the first year, there’s a lot of chemicals in that pressure-treated lumber. We like to let them evaporate out a bit first.

    THERESA: Oh, OK. Because I had heard several different things. I was gung-ho ready to go. And you think that the part – see, part of the deck is actually covered. So you think I need to strip that off of there?

    TOM: I’d be concerned because I don’t think the stain is going to stick on top of the paint. I mean the idea of stain is that it soaks into the wood. You can paint over stain but you can’t stain over paint, OK?

    THERESA: OK. So what products are out there that would maybe …

    TOM: Paint. Like I said, paint would work for all of it but then you’d be painting the rest of the deck, unless you just wanted to have it be sort of two-tone or at least one is painted and one is stained. You’re going to see a difference between the two but then maybe you can figure out a way to make that work from a décor perspective.

    THERESA: Well, thank you so, so much. I’ll do that.

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

    LESLIE: Well, kitchens are one of the most popular home improvement projects for fall, especially with everyone trying to get one done before the holidays. While a major kitchen makeover is wonderful, it’s expensive and really time-consuming.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s true. But you don’t have to spend a bundle to give your kitchen a whole new look. There are some updates that you can do for under 1,000 bucks and we’ve got the list, presented by Pergo’s Outlast, Pergo’s new line of water-resistant flooring.

    So, first, let’s talk countertops. Sure, if you go granite, you’re going to pay as much as you would for, say, a used car. But budget-friendly materials, like laminate and tile, can give you a nice, fresh, new look. And don’t exclude laminates. It’s not the same laminates you may have grown up with. They are gorgeous today. And if you do want a stone finish like granite, you can use granite tile, which can be far less expensive and deliver that same beautiful, finished look.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, let’s talk about your kitchen cabinets. You can keep them. Cabinet replacement, it’s expensive. But if your cabinets are in good shape and you’re just not thrilled with their finish, there are so many options to change their appearance.

    First, you can strip off the old finish and stain them any way you like or just paint them and then replace the hardware. Now, small changes, even, like new door handles and drawer pulls, that can make a huge difference in the overall look of your kitchen.

    TOM: Appliances are another area that are easy to update. The dated look of kitchens can often be traced to the appliances. And just like cars, appliances are going to reflect the style of the day. So, changing or repainting can make that kitchen appear 20 years younger, especially if you repaint the walls to match those new colors or compliment those new colors.

    Now, when you do replace, you want to choose an ENERGY STAR-rated appliance. This means that the appliance is going to exceed the Department of Energy’s guidelines for efficiency by at least 10 percent. And that’s going to save you some bucks.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t forget about lighting, which is really just as important in your kitchen as any other room in the house. Again, lots of opinions here. You know, you can add pendant lighting – it’s really popular these days – or take advantage of the many smart-home lighting systems by adding dimmers or bulbs that run off apps. And you can keep them on a schedule.

    TOM: Now, last but not least, you want to replace the kitchen floors. New flooring alone can really change the look of a kitchen and it can be installed with little impact on family life. And Pergo is out now with a new line of water-resistant laminate flooring called Pergo Outlast+ with SpillProtect24. The cool thing is that it’s water-resistant and it’s designed to protect against spills for up to 24 hours. So it’s really a perfect choice for a kitchen.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also very durable against wear, scratches and stains. And the design looks really authentic.

    Now, the flooring actually has a deep texture to it, so that gives it a very realistic appearance. These are stylish, durable floors and they’re going to add charm to your home. Plus, this project is easy and you can easily get your kitchen ready for the holidays.

    TOM: And the price is great, as well: 2.79 a square foot at Home Depot. Pergo Outlast+ with SpillProtect. You can learn more at

    LESLIE: Sam in Tennessee is on the line with a water-pressure question. How can we help you today?

    SAM: Yes, I have just purchased a home that is about 75 years old. And we’re refurbishing it and we’re trying to keep everything as original as we can. I have great water pressure in every room that has water but my bathtub.

    TOM: Sam, does your 75-year-old home have steel water pipes?

    SAM: It has the old – we’re eventually going to replace all the water system. But we’re having to live in part of the home now and redoing the other half while we live here.

    TOM: If you have the original steel water pipes in a 75-year-old home, they are absolutely going to suffer from interior rusting. What happens with steel is it rusts and it expands inward, so it kind of clogs like an artery, so to speak. And the older it is, the more that can occur. It’s possible that that – you may have a bad pipe on the way to that tub and that’s why you have such a slow fill out of that. The other possible issue is the valve itself that’s feeding water.

    In that same bathroom, I presume you have a sink and a toilet. Do you notice any water pressure problems with those appliances?

    SAM: No, sir. We have, like I said, great pressure everywhere except for that one spigot. And it’s the hot and cold runs into one.

    TOM: I mean the other thing it could be is a bad – it also could be a bad faucet on that tub. But if the pressure is pretty good everywhere else, it’s not likely to be rusted just at the bathroom – at the one fixture itself. So, I would suggest that maybe you want to replace that tub – that set of tub valves, because it’s probably obstructing there.

    SAM: Right. Well, actually, it’s got the old-timey butterfly controls on it and we were really wanting to keep it but …

    TOM: You can find those valves today. There’s a lot of sources of antique plumbing. And some of the new fixtures and faucets are designed to basically go – you’d be using a retrofit situation like that. So you can find modern versions that look old.

    SAM: Yes, sir. Thank you.

    TOM: Sam, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Have a great day.

    LESLIE: If a cozy house sounds appealing to you, imagine how it looks to rodents who want to get in. We’re going to share tips to keep critters from joining you indoors this fall, after this.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your questions online at That’s what Nicole did.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Nicole from New Jersey writes: “What’s the best method for cleaning the carpet in my home’s main living areas? Chem dry? Steam? Should it be done sparingly or is it OK to clean them as often as needed?”

    TOM: Well, the best way to preserve your carpets is to vacuum them frequently. Because the one thing that wears them out is the dirt that gets in there – the sand that gets in there. And that really grinds at the fabric – at the fibers, I should say.

    Now, in terms of cleaning them, yes, it’s OK to steam-clean them periodically. And steam-cleaning does a marvelous job of pulling out dirt and debris and stains and leaving them – leave them smelling quite fresh. I’m always impressed – a couple of times, I’ve used a steam cleaner on an apartment that we own and rent over the years. And sometimes – a number of times I’ve gone in there thinking, “I’ve got to replace this carpet but let me try steam-cleaning it first.” And it’s amazing; it pulls it all out of there and doesn’t seem to have any ill effect on the carpet.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jason in Florida who writes: “Did you say that a pasty mixture of salt, vinegar and baking soda is good for polishing brass?”

    TOM: Well, actually, Jason, you’re close. It’s actually salt and lemon juice and it can be used on both brass and copper. The tip here is, though, is to use real lemons, not lemon juice – not the bottled lemon juice.

    In fact, Leslie, I know when you travel with the kids sometimes, they may ask for souvenirs. I did a smart thing, many years ago, when we started getting the pennies out of those penny machines? The flattened pennies?

    LESLIE: Yeah, we always do that.

    TOM: Yeah. Because now that’s a really cheap 51-cent souvenir that we take from all the places we go. And after we do it, if we’re sitting at lunch or something, I’ll grab the lemon out of the glass of iced tea and a little bit of salt, mix it together and clean the penny right there. So I taught the kids how to do that; now they do it, as well. So, yeah, salt and fresh lemon is a really great tarnish remover.

    LESLIE: And you know what? We actually have a whole host of natural recipes for different cleaning things around your house that you probably have all the ingredients for, right now, in your money pit. So head on over to and you just search “natural recipe cleaning” and you’ll find a whole bunch of great stuff.

    TOM: Well, when temperatures drop, mice/rats love to make their way into homes for relief from the chill. But there are ways to keep them out now and in the months to come. Leslie has got tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s not as easy as hanging a no-vacancy sign but you can make changes that’ll keep those mice and critters moving on and away from your house and onto the next warm spot.

    Keep in mind, mice, they can squeeze through spaces smaller than a nickel. So you’ve got to seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metal, steel wool or cement. Keep in mind, guys, expandable foam insulation, sometimes it can be gnawed through. So if you take that route, you want to add steel wool to the mix. Give it a little bit more heft to it.

    And your dog and cat isn’t the only animal that comes running at the smell of pet food. Wet or dry, it’s enticing to rodents, also. So enticing that they’re going to chew through heavy-duty food bags just for a taste. You want to keep dry pet food in sealed metal containers and then rinse out pet-food bowls before heading to bed every single night.

    You also want to give your kitchen counters and tables a wipe-down each evening, too. Those discarded crumbs, that’s an outdoor animal’s feast, guys. So make sure you just wipe everything down.

    And while it doesn’t seem to help their IQ, critters love newspapers and magazines just as much as we do. So get rid of stacks of paper and cardboard that those mice and rodents can turn into really happy nesting sites.

    If you need some more advice to keep your house critter-free, we’ve got solutions for all areas of your home, inside and out, at

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you tired of waiting and waiting for hot water to stream out of your bath, sink or shower in the morning? If so, a hot-water recirculating pump can help and it can save more than 10,000 gallons of water each and every year. We’ll have tips on how to accomplish that project, 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 2016 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