How to Pick the Most Durable Floors #0212181

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, what are you doing on this weekend? Are you working on your house, your condo, your apartment? Maybe hanging some drapes, putting up a new mirror, sprucing up the bathroom, sprucing up the kitchen? If you’ve got a project on your to-do list, you need some help getting it done, you don’t know where to begin or you’re stuck in the middle of it, give us a call. We’d love to help you out at 888-666-3974. That’s 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up today, if you’ve ever thought of adding hardwood floors to your home, you might be surprised to know that some hardwoods are, well, not quite as hard as others. We’re going to have some tips on how to choose the hardest hardwoods for maximum durability, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, is your kitchen giving you a hard time? Well, maybe it’s not your cooking skills that are causing issues in the kitchen but the lighting. You know, the right lighting can make all your dishes turn out great. And that really begins with under-cabinet task lighting. We’re going to have ideas for you when Kevin O’Connor from This Old House stops by.

    TOM: Plus, could you use a good night’s sleep? Man, couldn’t we all. Buying a new mattress can do just that but doing that can be a real hassle and a very expensive one. We’re going to tell you about a new way to buy a mattress that’s got over 60,000 folks raving about the experience and the quality, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Alright. But first, let’s get to work. We want to hear from you on your home improvement, all your décor projects. Whatever you are working on, we are here to lend a hand.

    TOM: Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Rob in California is on the line with an insulation question. What could we do for you?

    ROB: Well, I’ve heard about this spray-foam insulation. And I’ve heard about – from you and others – that when we’re applying insulation in a cathedral-ceiling situation, we have to provide for ventilation between the insulation batts – in a traditional fiberglass-batt insulation, we have to provide for ventilation between the insulation and the roof sheathing.

    TOM: That’s correct.

    ROB: So I’m wondering – yeah, so …

    TOM: But not with spray foam, only with fiberglass.

    ROB: OK. That’s what my questions is, is do I have build that in on – somehow with spray foam? Sounds like no.

    TOM: No. No, because it’s a different system. So the – when you insulate with fiberglass, you have an unconditioned attic space, so to speak, OK? When you insulate with spray foam, you now have a conditioned attic space. Difference being that when it’s unconditioned, you have to ventilate it to carry the moisture out. When you use spray foam, there’s really no – the moisture is really no longer an issue.

    So in my house, when I go up in my attic, my attic is pretty much the same temperature as the rest of the house, within a few degrees, even though it’s not heated or cooled up there. It’s just an old-house attic.

    ROB: Right.

    TOM: And it never used to be that way. Like most attics, it was screaming hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. But now it’s steady.

    In fact, we’ve actually started to use it in new ways. This past holiday season, I was frustrated because the LED strands, even though they were perfect the year before, half of them work and half of them don’t when you take it out again.

    ROB: Yep.

    TOM: And I was spending a lot of time fixing them. And I figured – this year, I got some new lighting. I was just going to put it up in the house attic – as opposed to the garage attic, where it’s always cold – because I figure the temperature being stable is less likely to impact it. So that’s kind of the way we – another way we used it.

    But we think the spray foam, for our family, has worked really well because it’s super comfortable compared to the fiberglass we had before. It’s not for everybody but I would highly recommend it.

    And if I had a cathedral ceiling, I would definitely, definitely use it. Because with a cathedral ceiling, the problem is that you don’t have much depth in the rafter bay, right?

    ROB: Yeah. Right.

    TOM: So you can’t put much insulation in there. Plus, you have to leave it sitting back an inch-and-a-half or so for ventilation. So if you use spray-foam insulation, you can fill it up and it’s going to have a higher R-value per inch than the fiberglass, anyways.

    ROB: Yeah.

    TOM: So that’s – those are some of the reasons I think it’s a good idea.

    We wrote an e-book on it. It’s called The Money Pit Guide to Insulation. It talks about all the different insulations and the pros and cons of each. And that’s on our website at MoneyPit.com.

    ROB: Oh, great.

    TOM: If you click under the section about Listen & Watch, there’s a section there of books. And you can download or read it right there online.

    ROB: Excellent. I will go check that out for sure. It sounds like the spray foam is a much better deal and I didn’t realize that you could spray it right on the back of the roof sheathing. It sounds like it seals it up tight and that sounds wonderful.

    TOM: It does. And that’s the other advantage of it because it both air-seals and it insulates at the same time. So we used Icynene. I’m very happy to recommend it. It’s a great product.

    ROB: Great. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Elaine in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    ELAINE: I have a garage that’s set back. The end of the house is about 24 feet and the garage is set back about half that distance. So in the wintertime, the snow blows down and drops it on there and it piles up really, really thick. Is there a way I can fix that?

    TOM: Well, since we can’t stop the snow from happening, you’re just going to have to get in the process of pulling that snow off. I don’t know if that’s what you’re doing now but if it’s sitting up there, you know what’s going to happen if – especially if it starts to get warm and wet, it gets super heavy and collapse is a risk.

    Now, the easy way to deal with that is with a snow rake. Do you happen to own a snow rake?

    ELAINE: I do and I’ve been trying that. But if it sits there too long, it gets actually kind of hard, too, so …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s why you’ve got to get out quick after the snowfall. Because every day you wait after that, it gets harder and harder and harder because it solidifies, especially when it gets a little warm and then it freezes again.

    ELAINE: Right.

    TOM: It becomes really difficult to get it down. So, unfortunately, I don’t have an easy solution for you there. It sounds like you know what to do and you’re just going to have to try to do the best you can with those circumstances. But I like those snow rakes, you know? They come in sections and they’re 16- to 24-feet long and they’re like a big, iron rake but they’re pretty light.

    ELAINE: Right.

    TOM: And if you kind of get it up there and then pull it down towards you, it keeps that snow to a minimum amount, which I think is so important. I had a friend that had a tragic collapse of a barn and some of his livestock were killed as a result of it, because of – that snow built up in an area like that.

    ELAINE: Ouch.

    TOM: It’s just so important to try to make sure you pull that snow off before it starts to melt and get really heavy, because that’s when the collapses happen.

    ELAINE: Is there anything I could put on the shingles, maybe, to make it slide off a little easier?

    TOM: Nope. No, nothing you can do. I mean metal roofs hold less snow; they’re more slippery. But you can’t do it with shingles.

    ELAINE: So I’d have to switch to a metal roof.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s a pretty big expense.

    ELAINE: Yep, it is.

    TOM: Really big expense. It might – I would just spend a little bit of that money and buy warmer clothes and get out there to the snow.

    ELAINE: Well, that’s what I’ve been doing.

    TOM: Alright, Elaine. Good luck.

    ELAINE: Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Take care.

    ELAINE: Yeah. Bye-bye.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. What’s your how-to or your décor question? Call in now to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    TOM: Just ahead, it may be called “hardwood” but not all hardwoods are the same. In fact, some can be more than twice as hard as others. We’re going to help sort out the difference and help you pick the perfect floor for your next project, after this.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call in your home repair or décor question, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Hey, now that Valentine’s Day is done, why not keep that romance flowing with a potentially romantic home improvement, like new bedding, by entering The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes, presented by Tuft & Needle, makers of the most comfortable mattress on the internet?

    TOM: Yep. There’s over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of a Tuft & Needle mattress, plus pillows and sheets. Enter today at MoneyPit.com and you can also earn even more chances to win by visiting Tuft & Needle’s website at TN.com/MoneyPit or even sharing the sweeps with friends. Enter today at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Tim in Minnesota is on the line and has a question about LED lights. What can we do for you?

    TIM: I just replaced my LED lights in my basement, which I have recessed cans.

    TOM: OK.

    TIM: From time to time, I get – it’s not all the time – so that either you dim a little bit and they start fluctuating. They’ve gone up – didn’t change the dimmer, if the dimmer was – I don’t know if it was equivalent for LED lights but …

    TOM: Right. Yeah, there is. Lutron is the company that actually invented the dimmer way back in the 60s. And they have a product called the C•L Dimmer. It’s designed specifically for dimmable LEDs and halogens and incandescent.

    And I’ve got these in my house and I like them for this reason: there’s a range on these dimmers that you can set. So you can set the minimum power and the maximum power. And that’s important because what happens is if you go down too far, depending on the LED, it will flicker and sort of go out. So you can bring it down and identify the bottom, in terms of the lowest setting. And then, of course, you can bring it up to the top and you could set that range so that you don’t have to worry about that flickering happening. Once you kind of set it, it’s done.

    Then you can also put a mixed lighting load on it. So if you had a situation where you had some LEDs and also some incandescents and CFLs all on the same dimmer – by having that ability to adjust the range, you can make sure that they all go down as low as they can but they don’t go down too far where they start to flicker.

    That said, the LED bulbs themselves have to be listed as dimmable. Some are and some are not. And the ones that are dimmable obviously work a lot better.

    TIM: I know those are dimmable because I knew to ask for that.

    TOM: So then you just need the right kind of dimmer. So you’re looking for a Diva C•L Dimmer by Lutron. You can find them at The Home Depot. They’re not very expensive: 20, 25 bucks, something like that.

    TIM: So does anything with – I also have another issue with the same thing that I can go turn them on and off and I get shocked by the screw for the plate. Does that …?

    TOM: That’s a different issue. Yeah, that’s a big issue. That sounds to me like you might have driven the screw somewhere and nicked the wire. I would have an electrician fix that for you. That’s definitely a problem.

    TIM: I didn’t have an issue when I had incandescents, though. Is it because my house got dry or is it …?

    TOM: Nah, I don’t think it has to do with the bulbs. Nah, wouldn’t believe it. I would get an electrician on that. That sounds dangerous.

    Alright? Hey, listen, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Good luck with that project. And don’t do it yourself. Get a pro to help. Bye.

    LESLIE: Well, it may be called “hardwood” but not all hardwoods are the same. In fact, some can be more than twice as hard as others. We’re going to sort out the differences, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: Now, first, the hardness of wood flooring is determined by what’s known as the “Janka rating.” Now, this is a rating that compares the hardness of different species of woods. And it’s an important number to know because the higher the Janka rating, the harder the floor will be, which means it’s less likely to wear and dent.

    LESLIE: Now, red oak is probably the most common hardwood floor in most homes. And that has a Janka rating of 1,290, which is pretty much the industry benchmark for comparing the relative hardness of different wood species. Now, with older homes, softer woods like southern yellow pine were very common. But that has a Janka rating of 870, which is about a third less of that red oak.

    TOM: Now, for the highest Janka ratings in flooring, you’ve got to look to the exotics. Solid hardwoods, they top the scales. Hardwoods like Brazilian walnut, Cumaru, Brazilian pecan and Brazilian chestnut, these woods have Janka ratings over 3,000. And that makes them more than twice as hard as red oak. And they’re really the most durable selections for a hardwood floor.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators, makers of solid-hardwood flooring. With over 140 varieties of prefinished, domestic and exotic styles, as well as over 40 domestic unfinished options, Lumber Liquidators is sure to have the perfect solid-hardwood flooring choice for your home.

    TOM: You could choose from light or dark hardwoods, smooth or distressed domestic species, like oak and hickory, and exotic species, like Brazilian cherry and Brazilian pecan, by visiting Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide or online at Lumber Liquidators.com.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Cindy in Michigan on the line who wants to talk about reducing energy costs. How can we help you?

    CINDY: Is there a way to lower your electric bills by generating your own electricity? I’ve heard of solar panels and windmills and seems like they cost a lot of money to get them going. And I’m wondering, is it actually feasible, financially, to do something like that?

    TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, the most effective way to cut those energy costs – and especially if we’re talking about heating and cooling energy – is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. And the single most important way or easiest way to do that is by improving insulation. It’s amazing how many people simply don’t have enough insulation. And in a state like Michigan, you’re certainly going to want to have 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic.

    Now, as to your question about generating your own power, there are some programs that are run by state governments and by utility suppliers that include different sorts of rebates and different sorts of purchase – I don’t want to say “schemes” but sort of plans for getting that equipment to your house.

    So, for example, in my part of the country, they have offers where you don’t actually pay for the initial installation there. You partner with an energy company that does the installation of solar panels. And then, as it generates energy, you get to keep some of that and some of that goes back to the utility company and eventually, it pays off the cost of that installation. So I would investigate solar programs in your area and rebates that might be available. Start with the utility companies and go from there.

    Because if there’s a favorable program, that’s the only way it makes them cost-effective. You are correct in that a lot of these things are very expensive and don’t make a lot of economic sense. But if there’s rebate money available – either locally, at the state level or federally – it does make sense.

    CINDY: OK. So you would just call your energy company then?

    TOM: I would start there, with your utility company, or simply do some research online for rebates that are available in your area. OK, Cindy?

    CINDY: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.

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

    ADRIAN: Yes, I have a question about Bermuda seeds. Last year, my lawn was destroyed by armyworms. And I wanted to know what was the best way to reseed my lawn using hybrid Bermuda seeds.

    TOM: So your lawn was destroyed by worms? Is that what you said?

    ADRIAN: Yeah, armyworms. In the South, we get – yeah.

    TOM: Oh, armyworms. Oh, interesting, yeah.

    And what did you do to address the infestation?

    ADRIAN: We used pesticide and …

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Did you kill the lawn in the process?

    ADRIAN: Some of the Bermuda.

    TOM: What you might want to do is do a Roundup restoration. A Roundup restoration is where you treat all of the lawn – and actually, it’s a little bit late now because you would do this in the fall. But you would treat all – the entire lawn, which basically kills the lawn and anything that’s coming up through it, like the weeds and all of that. And then, as that starts to die off – I think you have to wait two weeks or so after doing the application – you actually seed right on top of it or seed through it.

    ADRIAN: OK.

    TOM: The way the process works is the new grass grows up through the old grass. And as the old grass kind of deteriorates away, the new grass comes up but the old grass sort of holds it in place and helps it get going. And if you do it early enough, then you have pretty good root depth by the time the warm summer sun starts to arrive.

    And in terms of selecting that seed – you know, you mentioned a couple of seeds. I’m not quite sure with – whether or not either of those work in your part of the country. I might do some more local research on that. But if you’ve had a diseased lawn in the past, that’s one way to deal with it.

    We did that to our house many, many years ago and what we got – the very first spring, it came up and we had a nice, green lawn. It was thin. It wasn’t really dense because it was the first season.

    ADRIAN: Yes.

    TOM: But by the time we got to the second and the third season, man, I tell you what, it was really thick and beautiful. And I’m very, very happy that we did that because the other option would have been to continually treat every ailment the lawn had with pesticides. And I was very pleased with just having done it once and not had to do it again.

    I will say, though, it’s kind of shocking when your entire lawn turns brown at the same time. Your neighbors kind of wonder what’s going on at your house. But it really did work.

    ADRIAN: Yeah.

    TOM: So it’s called a “Roundup restoration.” I might be tempted to give that a try in this particular situation, Adrian.

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

    LESLIE: The kitchen is one of the best places in your home for task lighting. And one place that it’s usually lacking in your kitchen is under those cabinets. We’re going to have tips to help shine some light on the space you need it most and step up your style, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, whether you’re buying or selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. You can call in your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Cheryl in Wisconsin has a question about heating. How can we help you stay toasty?

    CHERYL: I have a large area downstairs. It’s about one-third – it’s 11×36 feet and about one-third of that we use for a dining and kitchen area, mainly when we have company.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    CHERYL: And I’m not looking to heat that whole area, just the area where we eat. And I was wondering if one of those oscillating space heaters would be a good idea. One of the taller ones?

    TOM: Well, look, here’s the thing. I think your question is about efficiency and most space heaters are not very efficient. They’re only efficient if you’re going to do what you’re doing, which is – that is to isolate the heat to just one very narrow space of the house. But this is a big area. If it’s 30-something feet long, it might be hard to do that. It’s different if it’s like one individual bedroom or something of that nature.

    But I will say that, generally speaking, they’re more expensive to run than your heating system on a BTU basis: in other words, comparing the cost to create a BTU in your main heating system versus the space heater.

    What kind of heat do you have? What kind of fuel do you use?

    CHERYL: Natural gas.

    TOM: Yeah. Natural gas is always going to be less expensive than electric space heaters. But if you’ve got an area that’s a little bit chilly and you want to just supplement it on a limited basis, like just when you’re using that room for company or dining, I think it’s OK. But there’s just not very much that – there’s not very much that’s efficient about the use of a space heater.

    CHERYL: Yeah. I was just thinking right close to the table in the area where we eat.

    TOM: Yeah. But only in those limited circumstances, when you’re using that area, do you want to use the space heater. Then you’ll keep the heat down the rest of the time?

    CHERYL: Actually, our basement is so cold. When we have company, we really crank up the heat and the basement is still really cold. You know, we live in Wisconsin.

    TOM: Yeah. So even when the heat’s up, it’s chilly.

    CHERYL: Yeah.

    TOM: So, if you’re just using it on a temporary basis to supplement it only when you’re down there eating, then I think it’s probably OK. But I think your original question: is it efficient? No, it’s just not.

    CHERYL: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you find that your cakes are tasting salty and your meatloaf is sweet, what you might be lacking is not actually some good cooking skills but the right lighting in your kitchen.

    TOM: That’s right. And the kitchen is one of the best places in your home for task lighting. And one place that’s usually lacking that is under kitchen cabinets. Here to talk about that is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Kevin, welcome to the program.

    KEVIN: Thank you for having me.

    TOM: And it’s always amazing how much we do with so little light in the kitchen.

    KEVIN: Isn’t it? Have you chopped off any fingers lately?

    TOM: Thankfully not. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s – a missing element is that task lighting. And I think a lot of folks don’t realize that. You really need several types of light in a kitchen for it to be truly efficient.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And one great place to add this task lighting is underneath the upper cabinets, “under-mounted lights,” we call them. And think about it: these cabinets go over most of your counter space, which is where you’re doing most of your work. You might be working on an island some of the time but you’re also going to be working on those counters that wrap your kitchen. So this is a great place to add lighting.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think a great place to add dimmer switches, as well, in the kitchen.

    KEVIN: Well, the dimmer switches really get you two lights in one, right? So when you’re doing all of the prep and you’re working in the kitchen, it’s nice and bright, you can see what you’re doing, you save a couple fingers. But then when you’re serving dinner and you’re having a cocktail afterwards, you can turn them down to dim and it just is a good mood lighting throughout the kitchen.

    LESLIE: Or sneaking in for that late-night snack.

    KEVIN: Or sneaking in for the ice cream.

    TOM: Now, what kinds of fixtures do we have to choose from here? Are they all pretty much the same or are there a lot of options, as always?

    KEVIN: Well, no, there’s a lot of options that are out there. And for me, there’s three different kinds: you’ve got the fluorescents, you’ve got the halogen/xenon bulbs or you’ve got LEDs. And they all have different qualities.

    Now, the fluorescents, they burn a little cooler and they use less electricity. And one nice thing about them is that there’s not a lot of heat thrown off of them. So if you put them underneath the cabinet and the peanut butter is up above, the peanut butter is not all soupy when you open up in the morning. But they do produce a particular color light that some people don’t like.

    And I think that’s why some folks go for either the halogen or the xenon bulbs, which is the second option. And they emit a very bright, white light. Halogen is the brightest; xenon burns a little cooler but lasts a little longer. And when you put those in, you just have to know that you need a transformer, generally, to step down the voltage.

    TOM: Now, of all the types of lighting that’s out there, the newest – and what I think is probably my favorite – is LED.

    KEVIN: Yeah, LED is out there and we know these are super-efficient. They’re also cool to the touch so your peanut butter doesn’t become soupy. And while they were new just a few years ago, these days there are a lot of different options out there. Whether it’s a continuous ribbon that you stick to the bottom, whether it’s a traditional fixture that you mount to the bottom of these cabinets, the choices for LED lights are growing with every passing year and they’re a great option.

    TOM: And there are a lot of kits that are out there today with kitchen-cabinet lighting. So, you don’t necessarily need an electrician for this project.

    KEVIN: You don’t. I mean believe it or not, you can actually just plug some of these things right into an existing outlet. But if you don’t want to do that, if you want sort of a cleaner look, you can actually wire them yourselves. They’re pretty easy to do. They often come in these small, little strips that you mount and wire and you’re good to go.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, this is a great project and one that you’re really going to enjoy for many years to come. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a lot of great step-by-step videos on home improvement projects that you can do, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Caséta by Lutron.

    Just ahead, can you use a good night’s sleep? You know, buying a new mattress can do just that but doing so can be a real hassle. We’re going to tell you about a new way to buy a mattress that’s got 60,000 folks raving about the experience and the quality, just ahead.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jack in Nebraska is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?

    JACK: I want to put a new floor in my basement. And I – somebody has told me that some of these new engineered-wood products, like the snap-together floors – they said that some of those are OK for a basement application. Now, is there any truth to that?

    TOM: It’s absolutely true. Now, just keep in mind that when it comes to wood flooring, there is prefinished wood flooring, which is solid and that’s not rated for a basement. And then there is prefinished wood flooring which is engineered.

    Now, engineered flooring is essentially made up of many layers of wood. It’s a bit like plywood in that you have different layers glued together at opposing angles. Except with the engineered-wood flooring, the top layer is hardwood and it looks just like solid hardwood. In fact, once it’s down, you really can’t tell the difference. And because it’s made up of different layers that are glued together at opposing angles, it’s dimensionally stable and it can be exposed to moisture or humidity, like you have in the basement, without swelling and cracking and splitting.

    And so, yes, engineered-wood flooring is a perfect choice for a basement. And if you want another option, you could look at laminate floor, also modular in the sense that it locks together. And laminate flooring comes in many, many, many different types of sizes and shapes and colors. In fact, I saw some reclaimed lumber-looking laminate floor recently at a big trade show that was just spectacular. It really looked like the original wood floor.

    So, lots of options there for basement flooring. Just don’t go with solid.

    JACK: OK. Well, you answered my question. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever shopped for a mattress by going from store to store where high-pressure salespeople try and get you to test the product by lying down for a minute or two and telling you all about that mattress – and you know that mattress has been laid on by a lot of people before you. How gross is that? I bet you’d prefer that there was a better way out there. And you know what, guys? There is and it’s a company called Tuft & Needle. And they’ve really revolutionized the way folks buy bedding.

    TOM: Yeah, they definitely have. Tuft & Needle makes high-quality foam mattresses at an honest price. And they give you 100 days to use it in your home. And if you don’t like it, there’s a complete hassle-free return process so you can make sure it’s absolutely right for you.

    They have totally reinvented the way we used to buy mattresses. And I love this fact: they’ve got over 60,000 reviews on their website, right there. You can go there, right now, and read them if you’ve got hours of free time, from all the sources that you would expect to find reviews: Google and so on. They’re right there at the TN website and you can see for yourself why this company has really done an amazing thing for the mattress industry.

    LESLIE: Now, what’s different here is the Tuft & Needle mattress is made from an open-cell foam that’s infused with graphite and a cooling gel. And that makes sure that you don’t overheat while you’re sleeping. They’ve even invented their own Tuft & Needle adaptive foam to provide the ideal combination of support and pressure relief that constantly adjusts to you.

    TOM: Take a look at their website at TN.com/MoneyPit. The mattress ships quickly, right to your front door, and it’s actually compressed. It’s kind of cool. It’s vacuum-sealed in a box that’s about the size of one of those miniature refrigerators. And it’s perfect for people that are remodeling or moving or just have a busy schedule. You take it to your room, you open up the box, you release the air into the mattress. And man, it just swells up before your eyes into a beautiful mattress, any size you want.

    We’ve got a twin and a queen in our house and we absolutely love it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what else is really cool? I mean you get a hassle-free shopping experience but you get a 10-year warranty. And then on top of it all is Tuft & Needle offers a 100-night-sleep trial with a full refund. So try it out, lay on it in your own home. No one else has laid on it before you. And if you do decide to return that mattress for any reason, Tuft & Needle is going to work with you to donate that returned mattress to those in need, which really is another amazing reason that this company is so well-respected.

    TOM: And the best part is the price. You can pick up a brand-new, queen-sized mattress for only 575 bucks and shipping is free.

    Check it out – Tuft & Needle – today at TN.com/MoneyPit. That’s TN.com/MoneyPit.

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

    DOT: A couple of years ago, we had a driveway put in. We have a house with an attached garage. And they had, oh, graded the driveway, they said, properly so the water would drain away from the house and into the lawn. And we get standing water in our driveway still. And I was just wondering the steps to – the proper steps to put a trench in our driveway and possibly a drain.

    TOM: OK. So, it would seem to me that if – you’re talking about water that’s collecting on the driveway itself or on the side of the driveway? There’s a distinction.

    DOT: In the driveway and also close to the house and where the driveway meets. And then there’s an attached garage there, also.

    TOM: If we were to stop the water from collecting on the side of the driveway, would the top of the driveway still be flooded?

    DOT: I think so. Apparently, they graded it …

    TOM: Alright. Because it’s easier to put in a curtain drain along the side of the driveway than it is to slice the driveway and insert a drain. Because if you want to try to drain what’s on the driveway, essentially you have to cut a slice into the driveway. It’s not something that you could do; it requires specialized tools. And then a drain is inserted and it’s kind of like a very narrow grate, almost like a box, that’s dropped into the driveway. The driveway is graded to the top of it so that the water can sort of roll in and then fill up the drain and then run out.

    If, in fact, that this water is collecting along the side of the driveway, it would be easier, from a do-it-yourself perspective, to add in a curtain drain. The way that works is you would dig a trench that was maybe a foot wide, maybe a foot deep. You’d put some stone in the bottom of that and then you’d put a perforated PVC pipe. You continue to fill that up with stone all around it. You’d add some filter cloth over that and then you would regrade and you would be – it would be completely invisible when it’s done. And of course, it has to be pitched properly and discharged properly, as well.

    So, the curtain drain on the side of the driveway is easier than sort of the trench drain where you have to cut the driveway. I would tend to say do the curtain drain first and see how it goes.

    Dot, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Stick around because we’ve got a lot more great home improvement advice to share with you when we come back.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, with your how-to or décor-dilemma question at 888-MONEY-PIT. Post it online at MoneyPit.com’s Community page, just like our first visitor to the Community page who has the name BeastMode. That’s his user name, BeastMode. I’m guessing CrossFit junkie?

    LESLIE: Either CrossFit junkie or somebody who just really attacks home improvement projects. I’m going to go with that.

    Alright. So BeastMode says, – and I’ve got to say it beast-mode, right? – “I’m getting ready to have a contractor repair and replace the gutters and damaged fascia on my home. He gave me two options. The first option entails repairing, replacing and repainting the fascia and soffit while the second option requires wrapping fascia in metal and the soffit in vinyl. I also worry that if the trim is wrapped, water could get behind it and rot it out.”

    TOM: Yeah, not an issue. The best way to make that trim and that soffit maintenance-free is to go ahead and have it wrapped. It’s pretty typical when you have an older house and the original wood material behind the gutters was pine. And sometimes, over the years, those gutters will back up, they get loose. Water gets behind it and then the fascia rots out. And if you do it right, they’re going to flash it up underneath the roof shingles. So, you’re not going to have leaks that get behind there.

    In terms of the soffit, I’m going to assume that your house is probably in that era where you had solid-wood soffits. You want to make sure they take those down before putting up the vinyl soffits and here’s why: because the vinyl soffits are perforated or should be, at least. And this way, air gets into them and it speeds up the ventilation that’s going on in the attic. So I definitely think that wrapped soffits and fascia are a really good thing. It’ll cut back on a lot of maintenance going forward and I don’t see any really – any downside if it’s done right.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, the post we’ve got here is written by Zubarski (sp) who writes: “I bought a house that was built in 1958. The house has three-prong outlets and GFCIs near all the water. What is the recommendation for grounding the whole house? Would it make sense to put GFCI protection on all outlets in every room? I’ve also heard of GFCI breakers that can be installed into the main panel. What do you recommend?”

    TOM: You’re confusing grounding and ground-fault protection. So, your electrical panel should be grounded. And even back in the 50s and the 60s, those panels were typically grounded to the main water pipe. There’s going to be a lead that goes from the main electrical panel to the main water pipe and that’s where you pick up the ground.

    Now, the ground fault is different. That protects users of the electrical system from getting a shock because of a diversion of current to ground. And that’s why it’s put in water locations, like bathrooms and outsides and garages. You certainly can add those to any outlets that you would like to have them at. But they’re not necessarily have to be added to every single outlet in the house, nor do you have to replace all your breakers with ground fault. Sure, there’s an option for a ground-fault breaker that would protect the whole circuit but in your house and that age, I’d probably put them in the bathrooms and the kitchen and outside in the garage. And I would just make sure that everything else was grounded as it normally would.

    This is not the kind of thing you should be doing yourself, by the way. It’s the kind of thing that takes some practice, some time, some expertise. So I would hire a pro to get it done.

    LESLIE: Alright. David in North Carolina writes: “I purchased my home two years ago. Had the inspection. Everything is fine but the walls are cracking and the nails are popping out of the drywall. What do I do?”

    TOM: Yeah, it might – you might think the house is falling apart but it’s not. That’s pretty much normal wear and tear for any house that was covered with drywall. The nails will expand; they’ll pop out. You want to put a second nail on top of the first one that’s getting loose or take it out completely and replace it with a screw.

    As far as those cracks are concerned, make sure you put some drywall tape on top of them and then spackle over it, prime and paint and you’ll be good to go.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We are always looking to help you with your questions. So if you didn’t get through, please go to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com, click on the Community page, post your question right there. We’d love to get you an answer as quickly as we possibly can.

    But until then, remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (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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