Fastest Way to Get Bright Spring Blooms

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  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor projects. If there’s a project on your to-do list, give us a call right now. If it’s one that you’re having a little trouble getting done, we can help get you out of a jam. Or if you’re thinking about hiring a pro to get a job done, we can tell you exactly how to find the best one and what to make sure you ask for when you sign that home improvement contract. Whatever is on your to-do list can be on ours if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, now that it’s spring and we are starting to see all those spring flowers fully bloom – but you know what? I’m a bit impatient. I want to see them bloom right away. I’m kind of tired of waiting for them. It’s like they’re teasing, you know? And it turns out that the speed with which those flowers bloom is determined by what the Department of Agriculture calls the “hardiness zone.” So we’re going to share some tips on the fastest way to get a color-filled garden going, no matter where you live and where you fall on that map.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, one of the hardest tasks that homeowners encounter when they’re trying to have a quality lawn is getting rid of weeds. Now, it’s an age-old problem that’s made more complicated by the fact that there are over 200 types of weeds that love your lawn as much as you do. And they kind of want to stick around, so we’re going to share some solutions in a bit.

    TOM: Plus, are you planning a project to improve your outdoor living but you want to be confident the project is actually a good investment? We’re going to share the details on a project that can deliver years of enjoyment and one of the most valuable returns on an investment when it comes time for you to sell.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to hear about projects that are filling your spring days, inside and out, floorboards to shingles, whatever it is you are working on. I know we’re still cleaning up from our messy winter. Even though it wasn’t very snowy, it did a number on our yard. So, that’s what’s been occupying my weekends. What are you guys working on?

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, let’s get to those spring projects. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Mary in Massachusetts is on the line with a ridge-vent question. How can we help you today?

    MARY: My house is 70 years old. In time, it needed to be re-shingled. So the roofer explained now they use ridge vent and they opened the center of the roof. And it (audio gap) great and I was happy with the shingles but I do not like that ridge vent (audio gap). It’s like having an open window. Is there a way I can close that?

    TOM: No. That is doing exactly what it’s intended to do and exactly what it has to do, Mary. We all grew up with homes that were grossly under-ventilated. But if your attic is ventilated perfectly, it should be the same temperature as the outside. It is not a conditioned space; it is unconditioned. So the heat is trapped at the floor level where you have insulation but the ridge vent is designed to let air out of the attic where it’s most likely to exit. 

    So, for example, if your house is ventilated perfectly, the wind is going to blow over the roof, it’s going to depressurize the ridge and pull air out of the attic from that space. It pulls out moisture in the wintertime, it pulls out heat in the summertime. 

    And the other half of that are soffit vents at the overhang. These work together to properly ventilate a roof. So you’ve just never experienced a properly ventilated attic but that is exactly what ridge vents are supposed to do. And I would not change them because if you do, you’re going to have a number of issues to crop up. 

    Number one, you’ll have moisture that will build up in the attic. And what that will do is make the insulation far less effective. If you add just 2-percent moisture to fiberglass insulation, it loses about a third of its resistance to heat loss. Secondly, in the summertime, you’ll have excessive heat, which will make cooling the house that much more expensive. So, I wouldn’t do a thing.

    MARY: Hmm. OK. I was curious. I’m not thrilled with it but I guess I have to live with it.

    TOM: Yep. Get used to it. It’s doing its job, Mary, OK? 

    MARY: Thank you.

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

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

    JAMES: The other day, I was sitting in my living room when all of a sudden, this real loud whistle sound came out of my water-heater heater room. I opened it up. I’d just never heard this before and it did this for a few minutes. And then it just stopped.

    TOM: You didn’t see any water come out of the overflow, did you?

    JAMES: No. No. That’s what I can’t figure out.

    TOM: How old is the water heater, James?

    JAMES: About four or five years ago, I put in all electric – that was gas before – but all electric. I put a Trane heater in and there was another brand that they put in with the water heater. And it seems like now – I haven’t heard that since. Now, when I use the water – the faucet – in the kitchen, right after I turn it off, a couple minutes later I hear this noise that’s like a clicking noise or something in the water heater.

    TOM: So, that clicking noise is probably the pipes expanding and contracting as they heat up and cool down. It tends to amplify itself because of the nature of the copper pipes. But everything that you’re telling me doesn’t signal that I’m thinking you’re having any kind of problem. Just sometimes, as the water expands and contracts, it will make some odd noises to it.

    JAMES: Do I have to drain the heater at all or …?

    TOM: Do you have hard water there?

    JAMES: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: So if you have hard water, sometimes you get mineral deposits along the bottom of the water heater. But that wouldn’t really impact an electric water heater, because the coils are up in the middle of the water. They’re immersed right into the middle of the tank, so it’s not going to make them less efficient. So you could but I don’t think it’ll have any effect.

    If you have a gas water heater, the heating element’s at the bottom. And sometimes, if you get mineral deposits that sit over the bottom of the water tank, it’s kind of like an insulator and it makes it harder to heat the water. But in the case of electric water heater, the heating elements are embedded up in the water heater, usually a foot from the bottom and a foot down from the top. So that wouldn’t affect it.

    JAMES: Well, I thought there’s – isn’t there one at the top and the bottom?

    TOM: Yes. But it’s immersed in the middle of the tank. It sticks through the tank, kind of at a right angle. And there’s one about a foot down from the top and one that’s about a foot up from the bottom. So you’re not going to have any settling of mineral-salt deposits on it.

    JAMES: What’s the life expectancy of one of these things?

    TOM: About 10 years – 10 to 12 years.

    JAMES: Ten years and that’s it. And when can I guess the elements go, usually?

    TOM: Well, if the elements go, they can be replaced. But the tanks tend to leak after 10-plus years.

    JAMES: Wow. And where should I keep an eye – where does it – they leak in the bottom? They just leak water all over the place?

    TOM: The best thing to do is if you’re going away, right, you should always turn off your main water valve. And also, turn off the water heater, because it won’t waste a lot of electricity by heating up water in the house that you’re not using.

    JAMES: Listen, let me tell you something, I love you guys. You guys have a really very wholesome – a great show. Because there’s a lot of talk shows on and different things but you guys help a lot of people.

    TOM: We try. Thank you so much, James. We really appreciate that. Good luck with the project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, let us know what you are working on. We’re standing by at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    Just ahead, are you ready to see more signs of spring? Well, so are we. We’re going to have some tips to jump-start your garden and get those flowers blooming fast, next. Plus, more of your calls right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    Now we’ve got Frank on the line who’s having an issue with paint on his siding.

    What’s going on, Frank?

    FRANK: It’s all – and first of all, it’s all coming off. It’s like no one ever primed it before or anything and I don’t know if they used paint or stain. And I’m not really sure what to go back with, if you have to prime it. I’m really – I don’t know. I’m lost.

    TOM: So we’re talking about siding shingles here, not roofing shingles, correct?

    FRANK: Right. Cedar shingles – white cedar shingles.

    TOM: So the paint’s coming off after you’re power-washed them, so you probably didn’t have good adhesion to begin with.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But paint is going to come off when you pressure-wash. That’s just how it goes.

    TOM: Well, that’s true and – well, depending on the ferocity of the pressure washer. But also, if paint wasn’t applied well, if it wasn’t primed properly, then it will come off even that much more quicker. So what I would recommend you do is to get rid of any loose paint that’s left behind. You’re probably going to have to abrade those shingles, probably brush them with a wire brush. Make sure you really get anything that’s loose off of that.

    Then you’re going to need to prime the entire shingle surface with an oil-based primer, because that’s going to give you maximum adhesion. The primer – one of the qualities of the primer is that it really sticks to the substrate. And then after it’s primed, then you can put a topcoat of paint over that. But that’s the process and there’s just no shortcutting it, especially if you’ve got adhesion problems with the paint that you’ve taken off. You can’t put good paint over bad paint. You’ve got to get rid of all the bad paint, prime it properly and then repaint it and you’ll be good to go, Frank.

    FRANK: OK. Because I’ve had some people telling me that you could use stain.

    TOM: Well, you could use stain, as well, but only if all of the old paint is off. Otherwise, it’s going to look pretty bad.

    Now, if you use stain, you still have to prime it. I’ve got cedar shingles on my home and I primed it first and then used a solid-color stain over that. And between the two of them – the last time I did it this way, it lasted about 15 or 17 years. But you’ve got to prime it. No matter what you do, you’ve got to prime it.

    FRANK: OK. And an oil-based primer. OK. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Frank. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Deborah in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    DEBORAH: OK. I’m purchasing a home that has a couple of stains on the ceiling. And it turns out the stains are located directly under the vents. I don’t know any other way to explain it but they’re like these tubes on the outside where the roof is. So, I was told by the inspection that those rubber-stopper things that go around them need to be replaced.

    TOM: OK. Yeah. So, the plumbing-vent flashing is what is leaking here. And the plumbing-vent flashing consists of an aluminum piece of flash material that goes underneath the roof shingles and a rubber boot that is designed to fit over the plumbing pipe. And they very often – that rubber boot will very often crack and deteriorate and does have to be replaced.

    Not a terribly complicated job. A roofer or a carpenter can do it in about 10 or 15 minutes. They just basically have to peel up a roof shingle or two right around there. You can do that with a flat bar. You can actually put the flat bar under the roof shingle, get it right up to where the nail is and kind of wiggle it back and forth. That nail will come right out. You can kind of disassemble the roof one shingle at a time, replace the flashing vent and put it back together.

    So, pretty easy, straightforward repair project and not the least bit unusual, Deborah. OK?

    DEBORAH: OK. Well, I appreciate you taking my call. Thank you.

    TOM: Yeah. You’re welcome. Good luck, Deborah. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, nothing says spring like colorful, flowering plants in your yard. And now that we’re well into spring, it’s time to plant the seeds that will become those beautiful blooms of summer. But if you can’t wait for seeds to sprout, you can plant live blooms for an instant pop of color.

    Now, the key here is selecting the right type of flowers for your region and that’s actually a pretty specific science.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. Now, the country is divided into 11 different plant-hardiness zones. That’s determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant-Hardiness Zone Map. And it lays out exactly where you are on that map and that determines which plants can grow or are most likely to thrive at that particular location. If you try to choose a plant that’s outside of your zone, it’s going to take longer or it may not actually grow at all.

    LESLIE: That’s why preparing the soil for those flowers is really important, as well. Now, you have to have healthy soil and the correct pH levels for the type of flowers that you’re planting. You want to make sure you test the soil with a kit and then add organic matter if it’s needed. You can add peat moss, sawdust, sand, manure, ground bark, a homemade compost. What you add is going to depend on what those results you get. So it’s really important to test that soil. You want to give those plants the best chance to thrive and this really is a good way to do it.

    TOM: It’s also important that, of course, you water as directed. Now, it’s possible that you could have too little water but it’s just as possible you could have too much water and flood out those plants. You want to try to strive it – strive to get just the right amount so that the plants can actually survive and thrive.

    And if you can keep it in the zone and you water it properly and you make good use of that information, you are very likely to get those blooms quickly and be able to enjoy that spring garden that much sooner.

    LESLIE: Steven in Texas needs some help with a cabinet project. What can we do for you?

    STEVEN: Yes. So my wife has challenges with chemicals, like formaldehydes and glues and paints that they put in kitchen cabinets, the new ones. And I was wondering if you had any idea what a person could use that you could get away from those types of chemicals in cabinets.

    TOM: So you’re looking for a cabinet manufacturer that is sort of formaldehyde-free and VOC-free? Is that correct?

    STEVEN: Yeah, that’d be right. Yes.

    TOM: Steve, that’s an interesting question because when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so many of the products that go into kitchen cabinets have the potential to have VOCs or volatile organic compounds in them. Because you could start with the boards that are used to build the cabinets. If they’re a pressboard or a composite board of some sort, that may have formaldehyde in it, for example. Then you have the finishes and on and on and on.

    I think what you want to do is you want to look for kitchen cabinetry that is built to meet the new CARB 2 standard. That’s C-A-R-B – 2 standard. That stands for the California Air Resources Board and that’s a standard that measures the level of those types of toxins in cabinetry. And so if you search for kitchen cabinets that meet that standard, I think that’s a good place to start.

    STEVEN: Well, generally, I do like maybe some metal cabinets, you know. That would look nice in a kitchen. Would you have any ideas on something like that?

    TOM: Well, you’d still have finishes on metal cabinets that would have some of the same issues.

    STEVEN: Yeah.

    TOM: I haven’t seen metal cabinets in a kitchen in forever. The Gladiator folks at Whirlpool are doing a really good job these days with metal cabinetry for laundry rooms and utility areas and spaces like that. But I don’t know if that cabinet line is going to extend to the point where you’d have enough flexibility to do it in a kitchen.

    LESLIE: Well, I can share with you a vendor of a no-formaldehyde-added cabinetry. They’re actually beautiful, handmade, wooden cabinets. I’m not sure of their price point but I am familiar with the fact that they are not adding any chemicals to it. And they are very responsible in how they utilize the wood and the products that they use to make their cabinets. It’s a company out of Portland and their name is Neil Kelly. And it’s N-e-i-l-K-e-l-l-y.

    And then, there was a metal-cabinet manufacturer that I was familiar with a while ago. It’s Fillip Metal and it’s F-i-l-l-i-p. It’s sort of this new revival of some interesting, repurposed materials. And you might want to check them out, as well.

    STEVEN: OK. Well, thank you very much for the information. I appreciate it.

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

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

    SANDY: Yes, I was calling to ask about building a garage. My husband and I just bought a home. It’s a two-story Colonial but there’s no garage and we’re trying to decide detached, attached, with or without a breezeway. We know we want it to be oversized but we’re trying to decide which would be the most efficient and convenient choice to go with.

    TOM: So, it’s as much an architectural question as it is a structural question, because you’re trying to figure out what’s going to fit best with the property. So that amount – that involves looking at the house itself in terms of its design and also looking at the neighborhood to determine what’s going to fit in well. Because it’s OK to have the nicest house on the block but it’s not OK if it’s that much nicer that the rest of the neighborhood pulls it down in value. Does that make sense?

    SANDY: Yes. And I think the rest of the homes are very, very similar except they have garages.

    TOM: OK. Well, then that’s a good model for you to follow.

    SANDY: OK.

    TOM: Now, if you have the breezeway, then obviously you’re going to have more functional space. So I’m not quite sure what we can do to help you with this question, because it’s really a design that you have to kind of agree on with your husband and then set apart building it. When it does get built, it obviously has to be built by a pro, in accordance with all of the local regulations, which are going to probably require that you have a set of architectural plans.

    SANDY: OK.

    TOM: So, you might just want to start with that because an architect – architects can help you look at the options very easily with the computer programming they use today and give you a chance to look at it from several different angles, both outside and inside, in terms of available storage space and in different configurations.

    SANDY: OK. Also, we need to replace the roof on the home, so I was thinking making it an attached or with a breezeway kind of makes it a little bit more efficient. As we replace the roof on the home, we’d be putting the roof on the garage, as well.

    TOM: OK. Well, it would make sense for you to do the entire roof and have that folded into the same project. And then you could, in fact, fold it into the same financing, too, if you’re financing the project. So, yeah, I’m all for planning those projects to be done together. Because when the roofing team is on site, that’ll be the most cost-effective way to get it all done.

    SANDY: OK.

    TOM: And to have it match.

    SANDY: OK.

    TOM: We did our roof in the last year and we did everything but the garage. And the garage really didn’t need it but seeing that brand-new, beautiful roof on the house, I just decided that I would ignore the fact that I had a few years of life left on my garage roof. And we did that, as well, which is why we always say that the three most expensive words in home improvement are “might as well.”

    SANDY: Right. Right.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, one of the hardest tasks homeowners encounter when they’re trying to have a quality lawn is getting rid of weeds. We’re going to have tips to make sure your weeds lose the lawn battle, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, one of the hardest tasks that homeowners encounter when trying to have a quality lawn is getting rid of the weeds. You know, it’s an age-old problem that’s made more complicated by the fact that there are over 200 types of weeds that love your lawn as much as you do, maybe even more.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, to help us get a handle on the problem and the solutions, we welcome lawn-care expert Jim Wood from Bonide, a company that’s been helping homeowners beat back those weeds now for over 90 years.

    Welcome, Jim.

    JIM: Thank you, Tom and Leslie. Glad to be on your show.

    TOM: So this has got to be a question – you’re the guy that wherever you are, whether you’re – I don’t know – at the mall, the doctor’s office, having a lunch at the local diner, people know you’re a lawn-care expert. People probably come up to you all the time and ask you, “How do we get rid of the darn weeds in the lawn?” Is it always the same answer or does it really depend on what kind of lawn they have and what kind of weeds they have?

    JIM: Well, it pretty much depends, Tom, on the time of the year and also how much stress the lawn is under. As we get into late spring and summer, there’s a variety of factors that come into play in controlling weeds in lawns.

    TOM: When you say lawn stress, it seems like an oxymoron. I always think of the lawn as being very chill.

    LESLIE: Super relaxing.

    TOM: Yeah, a place you want to relax. But how does a lawn get stressed?

    JIM: Well, the lawn gets stressed simply because of drought. Warm temperatures will put stress on cool-season grasses. Heavy wind dries out the lawn, creates the drought scenario, which creates the stress on the plant.

    And one of the things about weed control is in order to get control of weeds, they need to be actively growing. So, when a plant is under stress, it is not actively growing. So the homeowner will not see the results that they fully expert.

    TOM: So, do the weeds get an opportunity, when the plant’s under stress like that, to kind of grab hold?

    JIM: Oh, they can, depending on the type of weed plant. Some will germinate in stress conditions. But the biggest thing is they definitely are very, very hard to control when the turf grass or the targeted weed is under stress.

    LESLIE: Now, do you have to know what type of weed it is before you go and select that weed treatment? Or is there sort of a one type for all?

    JIM: Well, if your targeted weeds are living in your turf-grass area, your lawn area, yes, you can go out and get yourself a broadleaf lawn-weed killer, such as Weed Beater Ultra, which will control up to 200-plus weeds that a homeowner is going to find on their lawn. That particular product can be applied early in the year: April, early May into mid-May. It can be applied into June. You start to get into July and August, you’ve got to back off a little bit because it’s getting too hot. And then you can reapply it again sometime in September through November.

    So, it opens up a very large window of opportunity for a homeowner to control broadleaf weeds in their lawns.

    TOM: Now, Jim, a lot of these weed products come in a concentrate. I think sometimes people get confused about how to mix properly. Is this particular product also available in a ready-to-use formula, like the kind that you can just sort of screw your hose to and go?

    JIM: It’s available in a ready-to-spray. It is what – the terminology we use for a hose-end applicator. It’s very easy to do. The homeowner just basically hooks it up to their hose, walks to the furthest point in their yard and then works and sprays walking, basically, backwards so they’re not walking through the wet, treated area. And then it’s also available in a ready-to-use, which is used for spot treatment here and there.

    TOM: We’re talking to Jim Wood – he’s the lawn-care expert with Bonide – about how to control weeds in our yard.

    So, Jim, aside from the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer, I think sometimes folks can actually make themselves a target for additional weeds by the way they cut their lawn. People are in a hurry to want to try to lessen the number of times they’ve got to push that lawn mower over the grass. So, sometimes they cut it too short. That can have an effect, too, right?

    JIM: Tom, that’s very true. And that’s one of the contributors to having a weed-infested lawn. Cutting the grass too short stresses the lawn. So what happens is it gives an opportunity for weed seeds to germinate and to grow. The ideal scenario is to cut their lawn at about 3 to 3½-inches tall. And that will shade the soil and prevent weed-seed germination.

    TOM: Perfect. Jim Wood from Bonide, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like to learn more about the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer, where you can find it, how it works and a lot of the other fine products that Bonide makes, head on over to their website at Bonide – B-o-n-i-d-e – .com.

    Thanks, Jim.

    JIM: Thank you, Tom and Leslie.

    LESLIE: Coming up, are you planning a project to improve your outdoor living but need to be confident that that project is a good investment? We’re going to share the details on a project that can deliver years of enjoyment and good ROI when you sell, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You never have to worry about overpaying for a job. With HomeAdvisor, you can use their True Cost Guide and see what others paid for similar projects and then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free. That’s at

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Scott in Iowa on the line who needs help with a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    SCOTT: I just recently bought a rental house and the plaster – it’s an older home and the plaster was falling off the house. Well, the guy I bought it from had repaired it but if you look at it, it’s falling out in some areas and bowing back in in some areas. And I was just wondering, would I have to re-drywall it or is there a cheaper and easier way to fix that?

    TOM: How much of this exists? Is there a lot of this that’s where it’s – the plaster seems to be loose?

    SCOTT: Throughout the whole house.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. So it’s a problem because it’s going to be dangerous.

    What happens is the plaster, when it’s applied, it’s applied over something called “wood lath,” which are like thin strips of wood. Kind of looks like those sticks we use to hold up garden plants and tomatoes and things like that. And the plaster expands to behind the lath and it sort of locks in place.

    But over the years, with an old house, those “keyways,” we call them, loosen up and then the plaster is not attached to the wall anymore. So you are looking at a situation where the walls are going to get worse. It’s not going to get better. And if it’s the ceiling that’s loose, it could be dangerous. Because when that plaster falls, it’s really, really heavy. I’ve seen it dent floors and certainly could hurt somebody.

    So now we have – the question is: what’s the best way to deal with this? “Should I tear the plaster out? Should I drywall over?” I’ve done it both ways and I’ve come to the conclusion, after trying it this way for many years, that the best thing to do is to put drywall on top of the plaster, not tear it out, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s less messy. Secondly, that even when you tear out the lath and the plaster, you’ll find that the studs from the old house behind it are not very even. So when you put drywall up, it tends to warp sometimes.

    So what I would do is I would attach new drywall over the plaster. You can use 3/8-inch-thick drywall, too; you don’t even need to use ½-inch drywall. And then by attaching from the drywall, through the plaster into the studs, you’ll help secure that loose plaster so you won’t have any further movement in that room. That would be my recommendation.

    SCOTT: That works out.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: As you enjoy the warmer weather, are you one of the millions of homeowners that starts thinking about ways to further improve those outdoor spaces? If you are, it’s smart to mind the ROI and that’s return on investment. Because not all home improvements deliver a return on investment that you can count on. One that does, though, is building a deck. But your deck not only has to be well-designed to be attractive, it also has to be well-designed to be safe. And that’s why this is a project best left to a pro. We’ve got some tips to help you get that project done, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    TOM: OK. So, first, let’s talk about cost. Now, according to HomeAdvisor’s most recent True Cost Report, the national average cost for a deck is just over about 7,000 bucks. But those costs can vary widely based on the size of the deck, the number of levels the deck has and the material.

    For example, decks that are made of pressure-treated lumber start at around 2,500 bucks while those built using composite lumber are going to begin upwards of 8,000. So, it really depends on all of those factors.

    LESLIE: Now, regardless, a deck does deliver one of the best returns on your remodeling investment when it does come time to sell.

    Now, building a deck also helps your home stand out in the marketplace. It makes it much more of a desirable home to buy. Now, this is going to increase buyer competition for your home and result in a sale at the highest possible price.

    TOM: Now, before you hire a pro, we obviously recommend getting estimates from at least two or three contractors before you finalize one pro to do the project. Make sure you read reviews from others that have had similar projects done by the same contractor, as well. It’s so important to read those reviews and make sure this sounds like somebody that you can work with.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You also want to spend a lot of time upfront on the design. And don’t be shy about talking with your pro about ways to save money on the project. Sometimes, small design changes that you make early on can actually have a big impact on the final cost of the job. So speak up.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Rhode Island who’s doing some decorating and needs some help choosing floors. How can we help you?

    KATHLEEN: Ah, there are so many choices. We’re looking at laminate, engineered and hardwood. What do you suggest? I have one concrete floor, which is the walk-out basement. And then it’s the first and the second floor. First is main living area and second is bedroom.

    TOM: Well, in the basement, you can’t use solid hardwood; you can only use engineered hardwood or the laminate because it’s too damp.

    LESLIE: Right. And the laminate’s probably the better choice.

    KATHLEEN: But what about wear and tear? That’s the other thing. I mean laminate cannot ever be sanded. You need to rip it out and redo it when engineered can be.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got probably 10 years on the laminate floor in my kitchen and 3 kids that grew up on it. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s pretty tough stuff.

    KATHLEEN: And now there are different degrees of laminate, too, no?

    TOM: There’s different finishes, there’s different durability. There’s a test called a Taber Abrasion Test that’s done on laminate surfaces. It’s also done on the finish of hardwood surfaces. And that’s what determines how durable they are.

    So, as long as you – if there’s an option in the quality of finish from something that’s maybe designed for residential or commercial, I’d always go with the tougher one.

    LESLIE: Right. Well, Kathleen, in my home, our basement is where my kids hang out, it’s my workspace. And I put a laminate floor down there and I chose one that has a beautiful grain to it. It looks like a hardwood. And then I’ve used area rugs to sort of warm it up and make it feel more homey. But it’s super durable. I had a plumbing issue go awry and lots of water underneath it and it didn’t buckle, bend. I was able to dry it all out and keep it really, really in good shape. So I’m all for a laminate in a lower level.

    Now, when it comes to your main floor and your bedroom area, I’d be more inclined to lean toward an engineered hardwood or a hardwood, depending on your budget and depending on the aesthetic. You can go with – if your concern is wear and tear and refinishing, you can go with a commercial-grade finish. It’s going to be a little bit more costly but it’s going to allow that hardwood to really stand up.

    The other option to consider is in your entrance foyers or places where you come in and out, like a mud room, go laminate again in there or do a tile or a marble or something that will be more easily cleanable, more durable, just to handle that type of wear and – wear situation.

    Now, I personally, on a second floor and even in living spaces – you say you’re by the salt water. I imagine you have a certain sort of design style that could be sort of – I’m guessing like a traditional but contemporary at the same time, since you’re on the water. And wider planks are very popular now.

    KATHLEEN: Yes, I agree. They’re very attractive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re very attractive. You can go for a plank that has some sort of a hand-scraping detail to it that looks a little more age-y and more worn and – but still be durable.

    KATHLEEN: OK. And so you’re comfortable with that for a full living space? The laminate.

    TOM: Alright, good, we talked you into it.

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

    Up next, green home improvement options seem to be multiplying lately but it isn’t always clear how much you’re actually helping the planet and yourself with the choices that you’re making. We’re going to have tips to help you make the right choice for both, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on this fine spring weekend? We’d love to hear from you. If it’s a home improvement project that maybe you need some help with, help yourself first, though, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what that project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.

    TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use,

    LESLIE: Don’t forget, while you’re online, to head on over to and post your questions in the Community section. And I’ve got one here from Julie in Wisconsin who writes: “I want to replace a light fixture with a ceiling fan. Is there anything special I have to do, like new wiring?”

    TOM: Hey, that’s a good question and that’s a really fun project, Julie. So it really is – there’s really two parts to that. One is the electrical part and one is kind of the mechanical/structural part.

    Now, depending on how that box is installed, a ceiling fan is far more heavy than a light fixture. So, there are some special brackets that need to go into the ceiling structure to support that and the wobbly vibration that it’s going to cause and the additional weight. So that’s really important.

    In terms of the wiring, most lighting circuits can certainly power a ceiling fan. It’s kind of a one-for-one when you add that wiring. In other words, you’re going to have a black wire, white wire and a ground wire. And you’re going to have a black wire, white wire, ground wire on the fan most of the time, so it’s usually a one-to-one kind of connection.

    But with all electrical projects, you definitely want to get an electrician if it’s not something you’ve done before, because you could get seriously hurt. But remember, make sure it’s installed solidly and wired properly and you’ll have many, many years of happy use with it.

    LESLIE: Alright, Julie. Good luck with that. Ceiling fans are so great on warm summer nights.

    TOM: Well, green home improvement options seem to be multiplying lately and it’s not always clear how much you’re actually helping the planet and helping yourself with the choices you make. Leslie has some tips to help you sort it out, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie, it seems like green, organic and healthy are terms that are way overused these days. How do we make sure we’re getting what we think we are?

    LESLIE: Those are a lot of terms that you’re seeing thrown around in a lot of places and it does get confusing. I mean there’s a term for it; it’s called “greenwashing.” You know, it’s – you’re just getting bombarded with all this terminology that you’re not really sure what that real value is.

    Now, if you’re planning to purchase a home improvement-related product and you want to ensure that it’s environmentally friendly, there are a few things to look at, beyond those advertising claims, to determine if the product is truly green.

    You want to start by considering the basics. Now, I’m talking about the raw materials that go into that product and where they come from. You’ve got to remember that anything that’s got to be transported a long way brings other precious resources into that equation. Then you’ve got to look at the adhesives, the coatings, the finishes that are used to make that product viable and whether or not the manufacturing process leads to release of harmful substances. And next, you’ve got to consider the product packaging and the likelihood that that product is going to release VOCs – those volatile organic compounds – into your home environment during and after installation.

    Now, a product’s afterlife has also got to be a big factor in determining the greenness of it. Just as there are benefits to selecting a product made from sustainable ingredients, you need to know that those ingredients can be recycled, reclaimed, repurposed, whatever it is when that product’s time with you is over. All good things must come to an end and when that does happen, a green one is much preferred.

    So do your research. Don’t be confused by the terminology and I’m sure you will find great eco-friendly products to bring into your home.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, coming up next time on the program, have you ever noticed a crack in a wall or foundation and wondered if it’s serious or not? Well, Tom Silva, the general contractor from This Old House, is going to stop by with answers to that question and more, on the very 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 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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