Tips for Tile & Paint #0213171
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Tips for Tile & Paint #0213171

  • DIY 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: And we are here for you, to give you help with your home improvement endeavors. Whatever is going on in your money pit, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Hey, do you want make it more energy-efficient? More comfortable? Got a décor project in mind? Thinking of picking up the paintbrush or redoing your kitchen? All great questions. Let’s talk about it on today’s show, 888-666-3974.
    Coming up, speaking of kitchen design, you know, one of the questions you have to wrestle with when you’re doing that project is the counter: counter material and counter height. We’re going to have some tips on some design options for kitchen counters that you might find pretty interesting if that’s a project on your to-do list.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you’re thinking about taking on a tiling project, the most important part of that project isn’t the tile, it’s what goes under the tile to make sure that it lasts. Tommy Silva from This Old House is stopping by with tips on that project.

    TOM: And if painting is on your to-do list, the hardest part of the paint project is not the prep or the paint, it’s picking the color, right? Well, we’ve got some cool ideas for helping you simplify that part of the project. But give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Gail in Ontario is on the line. How can we help you today?

    GAIL: We just had a high-efficiency energy furnace and central air installed in our house. And I have a ranch-style house crawlspace. It’s all insulated. And they installed the furnace in the laundry room and they’ve got the condensate pipe from the furnace and the central air dripping into a bucket into the ground of the crawlspace. And there’s limestone in the bucket. And we’re at odds whether this is a good thing or not.

    TOM: So you say it’s dripping into a bucket. Is this a sump pump, like a sump pit? Or is this just a bucket on the ground in the crawlspace? I mean kind of describe it for me.

    GAIL: Yeah, it’s just a bucket with limestone in it. They cut a hole in my plastic that’s running along the bottom of the crawlspace and they’ve got the bucket over the – where they cut it. And yeah, the pipe is just dripping into the bucket, going through the limestone and in the ground.

    TOM: They’re basically just dumping the water under the – underneath the vapor barrier. No, I don’t think that’s a very god idea at all. It’s really sloppy. What you should be doing in this case is you should – or they should, more accurately, have installed a condensate pump.

    Now, a condensate pump is a small pump. It sits near the furnace and near the air handler. And then the moisture goes into that pump. And once it fills up, a float starts the pump up and then pumps that condensate up through usually a clear plastic tube or a small pipe and then outside. So you basically run it outside your house the same way you might discharge your gutter. For example, in my house, I have a condensate pump that discharges into the same splash block as my gutter downspout and it takes that water outside.

    I don’t like the idea at all of just dumping it into the crawlspace soil, which is essentially what they’re doing here.

    GAIL: Yeah, I’ll tell them that. Yeah. Like I was – we were – it was really bothering us because we didn’t think it was a good thing, because I’m thinking all that water going under there? It’s defeating the purpose of insulating the crawlspace.

    TOM: Yeah. No, your intuition is spot-on, OK? So you call that Ontario, Canada contractor back and get him to fix that, OK?

    GAIL: And thank you so much for calling me.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Brad on the line. Brad, what can we do with you today at The Money Pit?

    BRAD: I have a knee wall between our – in our bedroom upstairs and I’m planning to box out the eaves. Now, the knee wall is currently insulated and I was wondering if I box all the eaves, do I need to remove the insulation from that wall? Obviously, I’m going to insulate above the box and the back of the box but do I need to remove the insulation from the wall?

    TOM: So this is the knee wall in the attic, between the floor and the exterior?

    BRAD: Yes. The knee wall – yeah, it splits the eaves from the bedroom.

    TOM: Right. So the back of that wall is technically an exterior wall so, yes, that should be insulated.

    BRAD: If I box it out with sheetrock and insulate on the outside of that sheetrock area, should I remove the insulation from the wall because that wall is no longer now an exterior wall? Or is it still an exterior wall?

    TOM: So when you say the – so you removed it from the wall. So this short wall is – on the other side of that, you would basically be an unfinished attic space, correct?

    BRAD: Yes. And if I finish it, yeah.

    TOM: Right. You can’t go wrong having insulation in that wall because, basically, once you get to the other side of that, you’d have the rafter bays, right? The roof rafters? And so the roof rafters don’t have insulation in them. But then you have the ceiling joists below that and they would have insulation in them. So that adds to the exterior skin of the home. So, yes, you do need to insulate the back of that.

    BRAD: Great. OK. That’s all I needed to know.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at

    Hey, what’d you guys do for your big, romantic Valentine’s Day? Did you work on some sort of home improvement project as a special gift? Did you mess it up? If you did, we’re here to give you a hand. Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to talk kitchen design. One of the many choices you’ll have to make is what kind of countertop should you have. We’re going to have some tips on those options, after this.

    TOM: Did you know having a well-insulated home is the single most cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs? Spray-foam insulation can also air-seal and reduce drafts, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of energy use. Late winter and early spring is a great time to prepare for the hot months ahead.

    Icynene’s Classic Max high-performance, ultra-low-VOC product both insulates and air-seals. Plus, it allows homeowners to reoccupy their home just two hours after installation. Find your local Icynene licensed contractor today at That’s

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation, an effective one-step insulation product that insulates, air-seals and reduces drafts that can save as much as 40 percent on your heating and cooling bills. Learn more about Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation today by visiting

    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 Leslie, isn’t this about the time when schools start taking their winter breaks?

    LESLIE: Oh, for sure. And we are looking forward to it. Everybody gets a week off.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you know what else winter break means? Plumbing disasters, right?

    LESLIE: Oh, for sure.

    TOM: When you’re away.

    LESLIE: A lot of people go away this time and I don’t think they take the proper precautions or any of the steps necessary to make sure that the house stays well.

    TOM: Yeah. So, very simple thing to do there is to turn off your main water valve if you’re going away for an extended vacation or frankly, even a long weekend. Because if your main water valve is off and you do get a pipe that freezes and breaks or just leaks for some other reason, all the water that’s going to come out of that is only what’s in the pipe. You’re not going to have this complete gusher to come back to or maybe your whole lower level is flooded with water. So turn the main water valve off before you take your winter break.

    LESLIE: I think the other thing to keep in mind, guys, is while you’re out of town, other people may be noticing you’re out of town. So make sure you cancel your newspaper, have somebody bring your packages inside, have some lighting on different timers, even put a TV or two on timers. If it looks like the house is busy, the chances of somebody taking over your home while you’re away are very less likely than they would be.

    TOM: We’re going to get busy, right now, with some answers to your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    MAYOR: Moved into a house about a year ago. It was built in 2007. And all the windows – they say on the windows Andersen Windows and I know which type they are. And all the windows only open very little until they get stuck. Then if you try to open it, it gets so stuck that I can’t even close it.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, the fact that you have Andersen windows tells me that I seriously doubt there’s anything wrong with the window itself. I suspect what happened here, Mayor, is there’s a problem with the installation. And if the jambs, which are the side pieces that the windows slide up and down on, if they were installed wrong so that there’s pressure pushing them inward, that can cause the condition that you’re describing.

    I’ll tell you one way that that often happens: sometimes installers will use a spray-foam insulation, like the kind that’s polyurethane that expands and gets really, really hard. Something as simple as that can bend those jambs in and make it hard to open the windows. But I think what you’ve got here is definitely an installation problem and not a problem with that window.

    So, to try to get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to probably open up the trim on that window, from either the outside or the inside, to make sure the window was installed correctly. If it’s too tight in that opening or if there’s insulation pressing on it or if there are shims there that were put in too aggressively and bent those jambs inward, that would cause the condition that you’re describing.

    I mean the good news is that an Andersen window is a very good window, so that’s why I suspect this has nothing to do with the window and has more to do with the way they were installed.

    MAYOR: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Naomi in Florida is on the line with a question about solar panels. How can we help you today?

    NAOMI: Well, I was wondering if I should change the shingles – get new shingles before I put the panels on? We’ve had them about 10 years now and I didn’t know whether to replace them first or just go ahead and put the solar panels up there. And will it be saving a lot of energy for electric, you know?

    TOM: OK. Well, to the first question, if your roof is going to need to replaced in the next few years, I’d probably replace it before I put the solar array on there. If you think you’ve got another 10, 15 years out of that roof, based on its condition and – you might want to have it inspected by someone independent of a roofer, by the way. Because a roofer is always going to tell you you need a roof. But you could have it inspected by somebody you trust. And if it seems like it’s going to be durable enough then sure, go ahead and put the solar panels on top of that.

    Now, in terms of whether or not the solar panels are going to help you save money or not, there’s a lot of ends to that economic question. Depends on whether you’re buying them or you’re renting them, how long you have them. Are you leasing them from the solar company? There’s a lot of economic factors. I would just say that there’s too many for me to sort out for you on the radio but to look very carefully at what the expense is of having these installed. And look at the different options, because there’s as many ways to get solar on your home today as you can imagine. So, just proceed carefully.

    Work with somebody who maybe has had a good history of doing this for your neighbors and demand that they give you references. And then do something that most people don’t do: actually call those references. And I know it can be uncomfortable to call people you don’t know but do it. Call and say, “Listen, I’m Naomi and I got your name from this solar company. They listed you as a reference. I’m just wondering what your experience has been.”

    And ask questions like, “How long have you had this system? Have you noticed the savings in your energy bill? Did they do any damage to the property? What was it like working with them? Did they show up on time? Did they keep their appointments? Did you have any repairs that were necessary after it was installed?” Ask those tough questions. And I’ll tell you, if you do that carefully, the cream is going to rise to the top and you’re going to find the right company to do this project with.

    NAOMI: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about a kitchen-remodeling project for your home, one of the many decisions that you’re going to have to make has to do with the countertops and specifically, countertop height. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, you can decide that?” Yes, you can decide that. So here are a couple of tips to help and they’re presented by

    First of all, the standard countertop height is 36 inches but building in a range of comfortable working heights really does make a lot of sense. For example, you can include a surface that’s 28 to 32 inches high because that’ll be a great area for your kids to work. And it really gives your kids the opportunity to help at a comfortable height. It’s also more comfortable for chopping and prepping and it really could work out well for you.

    TOM: Now, another good option that you’ll appreciate over the life of your kitchen is a sit-down workstation. Who says you have to stand up to work in the kitchen, right? You can make a sit-down space that’s about 30 inches wide and about 27 inches high. And that will give you really comfortable access for the kitchen chair or even a wheelchair, if you ever get disabled in the future or perhaps you have someone that has a limitation in your family right now. That’s a good height for that.

    And finally, I think multiple countertop heights kind of look cool, Leslie. They give it a very sort of unique look because there’s not just one continuous, flat surface. What do you think?

    LESLIE: It really does make for an interesting kitchen space. The other thing that I find works so well with these multi-level sort of different heights of countertops is different counter materials, as well. It’s another thing to keep in mind. If you have a standalone island, maybe with a bi-level surface or a different height there, you can go with a different countertop completely. And that, with the range of different heights of the counters, really does make for a well-designed and interesting kitchen. And today’s Kitchen Design Tip has been presented by CliqStudios.

    If you’d like more design ideas just like this, head to and download the kitchen-cabinet design guide, which is written by none other than the editors at This Old House. It’s full of fantastic design ideas and it’s really going to help you understand cabinet construction, features and styles, as well as what to look for when you’re comparing cabinetry brands.

    TOM: It’s available free at That’s And while you’re there, you can also sign up for their free, no-obligation cabinet-design service. Again, that’s at And Cliq is spelled C-l-i-q – Studios, with an S –

    LESLIE: Scott in Georgia is on the line with a question about an attic fan. How can we help you today?

    SCOTT: Well, I have a house that has a ridge vent in it. And the temperature in the attic gets to be somewhere around 115 to120 degrees during the summer and it gets pretty warm. So, to help with some of the, I guess, the insulation and I guess, some of the heat up there in the attic, I want to put in maybe an attic ventilator to help assist with the removal of some of that heat, get more airflow up there. But my concern is if I do that with a ridge vent, am I going to pulling air from the outside in through the ridge vent into the attic only to be evacuated again by the power ventilator?

    LESLIE: And generally you’re going to – I mean that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And then you’ll be also pulling whatever conditioned air from whatever leaks or spaces you have within the house into the attic space and then back out. So you’re kind of not achieving what you want to achieve there. However, you’ve got the ridge vent. Do you have soffit vents in play at your house?

    SCOTT: Soffit. Yes, I do. I do have soffits. Yes.

    LESLIE: And they’re not blocked by any insulation or …?

    SCOTT: No, I’ve checked most of that. In some of the areas, I had to push the insulation down just to be sure there was a clear path. So, I would say, overall, probably maybe 90, 95 percent of it is unobstructed.

    TOM: It sounds like you’re doing the right things. When was your house built, Scott? How old is it?

    SCOTT: The house is about 10 years old. Now, it sits out and there’s no trees, there’s no shade or anything in the area. And of course, South Georgia, in the summer as we get 100, 110 degrees so …

    TOM: Because the thing is, even though it’s getting hot in that attic space, it is at ambient temperature, so that’s kind of – you’re not going to get it much cooler than that if you’ve got unobstructed soffit vents, you’ve got good soffit ventilation on both sides of the house, you have a really good ridge vent.

    Now, sometimes I see ridge vents that are not very open there, especially the kind that I see that are corrugated-looking like. They don’t let enough air out. So, it might be worth looking at the type of ridge vent that you have.

    The CertainTeed ridge vents – the company’s called Air Vent or the brand is called Air Vent. I think it’s You’ll see that they have these metal ridge vents that have a folded edge on one side of it. That actually depressurizes the ridge and makes it more efficient, in terms of pulling air to of it. So you may not be getting as much air out of that ridge vent as you would like to.

    Do you have gable vents on the end walls, as well?

    SCOTT: Yes. Actually, I do.

    TOM: So that – if the ridge vent and the soffit vent are set up correctly, you actually don’t need those gable vents. They actually can tend to make that structure inefficient because it kind of messes with the airflow. So I would look at the ridge vent that I have and make sure I’m getting plenty of air that is exhausting out of that. But as Leslie said, putting in an attic fan next to that is going to be like a dog chasing its tail. You’re not really going to be very efficient and it could pull up air-conditioned air from your house and actually raise the cooling bill.

    SCOTT: OK. That was my concern. I was just kind of thinking about that in my head and going, “Gee, whiz, would that ever happen?” But OK, because I’ve seen some houses around here that look like they have an attic ventilator but then they also look like maybe at least part of the roof or a section of the roof has a ridge vent so …

    TOM: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of people that just do that because they don’t know what else to do. But the problem with attic fans is that your house has all types of little gaps in it that connect the attic to the inside. Think about the framed wall and the outlet, for example. That’s an opening, right? And if your attic is depressurized, it’s going to want to suck air up from anywhere it can find. And that’s going to include the conditioned air – that expensive comfortable, conditioned air – that’s inside your house. That’s why passive ventilation is always a better option.

    SCOTT: OK, OK. So probably a CertainTeed would be a good brand or a good type of ridge vent?

    TOM: Yeah, take a look at and look at the one that’s called a Multi-Pitch FilterVent. It’s a metal vent – ridge vent – that sits on top of your roof and it has an air foil to the side of it. And I know that that air foil speeds up the depressurization and makes it much more effective.

    SCOTT: OK. So a multi-vent. OK.

    TOM: It’s called a Multi-Pitch FilterVent and it’s in the Ridge Vent section.

    SCOTT: It’s OK. I’ll do that. Good.

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

    Hey, if your home has tiled bathroom walls and floors, letting the water get behind those surfaces can lead to a host of rot and mold problems. We’re going to have tips on how to make tiles watertight, next.

    KEVIN: Hi. I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House on PBS. From floorboards to shingles, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show with Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Did you know having a well-insulated home is the single most cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs? Spray-foam insulation can also air-seal and reduce drafts, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of energy use. Late winter and early spring is a great time to prepare for the hot months ahead.

    Icynene’s Classic Max high-performance, ultra-low-VOC product both insulates and air-seals. Plus, it allows homeowners to reoccupy their home just two hours after installation. Find your local Icynene licensed contractor today at That’s

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor. Find trusted home improvement pros for any project at

    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: And hey, if you are lucky enough to be enjoying these final weeks of winter, perhaps in front of a roaring fire, there is a super-easy way to get that fire started. And it’s all-natural if you know where to look. Just pick up some pinecones, dry them out and they make for a great, natural fire starter for your fireplace or your wood stove. And if you’re feeling super creative, you can also dip them in wax before you use them and that helps keep the fire going and fills your home with a pleasant scent.

    LESLIE: Renovating a bathroom is a great way to update the look, function and feel of the space. Now, some gorgeous tiles can really take a blah bath and make it an outstanding room in your home.

    TOM: Good point. But the key to making sure tiles last is making sure the surfaces are waterproof. And any water getting behind those tiles can not only cause your new tile project to fall apart, it can also lead to mold and mildew and decay. Here to tell us how to make sure those tiles are watertight is Tom Silva, the general contractor on This Old House.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s always a pleasure to be here.

    TOM: And the name of the game is watertightness. You want to make sure that water does not get behind those tiles. I think people forget that the tiles are not the waterproof part of that installation.

    TOM SILVA: Water is the enemy.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Water is the enemy.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM SILVA: Water will definitely permeate the joints of the tile. In some cases, it will go through the tile.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But you need water when you’re bathing.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So this – we’ve got to solve this problem.

    TOM SILVA: I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that.

    TOM: So let’s start, then, in the shower. If you’re building those tile walls, how do you make sure we keep those watertight?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’ve got to think about the backer board that you’re using. A lot of people think if they use a cement board, that’s waterproof. Oh, it isn’t. You have to put a membrane over that, whether it’s a trowel-on type or a type that – almost like wallpapering the wall. I like that type there where you take – first, you have to do is cut the pieces to fit your size first. And they don’t have to be exact. They can have a little gap on each corner.

    But the first thing you want to do after your pieces are cut is wet the wall down with a sponge so that you can then apply a dry-set mortar over that board. You cover the entire wall with it wet. Then you take a trowel – a V-notch trowel – usually a 1/16-inch V-notched. And then you scrape the trowel over the mastic and then you have a V-notch that you can now lay the membrane on.

    Once you lay the membrane on, you have to make sure that it’s flat, so you take a flat part of the trowel and you work it in, taking all the bubbles off. Bring it in tight to the corner.

    TOM: So that V-notch trowel is key because that actually gives you the grooves in the surface to be able to get good adhesion from the membrane to the wall.

    TOM SILVA: Good adhesion. Exactly.

    TOM: Got it.

    TOM SILVA: Now, you’ve got to put your next layer on. You want to make sure that your joints are overlapped by a couple of inches and you want to make sure that the mastic or the adhesive – the dry-set mortar – goes down onto that sheet so that they glue each sheet to the sheet on that joint, along with the wall.

    Once it’s on the wall and everything’s flat and you’ve got your corners that have a little bit of a crack in it, there’s a strip that you buy that comes with the kit and you can now put your mastic into the corner. And then you put your – just like taping joint compound but you’re only going to use this spun fabric that is basically waterproof. And you put it right over the corner. Then you work all the bubbles out, make it flat and then put your floor on. Once you’ve done all that, you tape all the corners – inside corners, outside corners, whatever they have – all these little pieces of tape that will form to just about anything you want.

    TOM: So the work is getting ready for the tile. It’s not the tile part of it. It’s all …

    LESLIE: It’s always all in the prep.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s like anything. If you don’t do the right prep work, the finished product’s not going to last.

    LESLIE: Now, because there’s so many layers of these different membranes and different layers of mastic, are you allowing each sort of step of the process to dry or cure before you then put whatever adhesive over the membrane?

    TOM SILVA: Well, yeah, you want the mastic underneath the dry-set mortar – it goes on. It’s kind of loose. You’ve got to – because you’ve got to work this stuff like wallpaper.

    You put it on. You don’t have to be that fussy with it as you do with wallpaper because you’re not lining up a pattern.

    LESLIE: Wallpaper is fussy.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. And this is not that fussy. It’s pretty user-friendly.

    You want it to be flat. You don’t want to have any air gaps under it. And you want to make sure that it’s tight. You want to let it dry overnight before you put your tile on. Actually, once it is dry, you can actually use the shower without any tile. It’s waterproof.

    LESLIE: That could be the way I get around renovating my one-bathroom house.

    TOM: There you go.

    TOM SILVA: And you will have …

    TOM: That’s not actually a bathroom unless it’s tile, right?

    TOM SILVA: If you like the orange-y walls, they’ll look great.

    TOM: Exactly.

    We’re talking to Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House.

    So, Tom, you’ve explained the right way to tile a shower or a bath. Let’s talk about what I would consider the wrong way and that is with green board. Incredibly common material. I wish it was never invented because it doesn’t seem to last at all. But we see a lot of it.

    TOM SILVA: Oh, we see a lot of it because people think it’s waterproof. It’s not waterproof. It’s water-resistant. If you’re going to use green board and you want to feel good about it, put it in the part of the bathroom that’s not the shower.

    LESLIE: Would you use it like a kitchen backsplash even, maybe?

    TOM SILVA: You could. But it’s really not any need to do it. I mean you could put it behind the stove, for example. But if you’re using the membrane that I said or just talked about, you can put that wall board in a shower. It will keep the drywall – the moisture board – from getting wet.

    TOM: Yeah. Good point. It’s water-resistant drywall. It’s not waterproof drywall.

    TOM SILVA: Right. They do make a waterproof drywall but it’s usually used on the exterior of buildings. It’s yellow in color and it’s 5/8-inch thick. Very heavy.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about that membrane. Is that also something that you would use on a floor, say, perhaps not in a bathroom? Would you use it because it gives tile more stability in parts of the house?

    TOM SILVA: They have a product that will give the tile more stability and it actually – you trowel it right on and you go over that and it keeps the tile areas more stable. There’s less chance of cracking.

    TOM: Similar application.

    TOM SILVA: Similar applications, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. Right. That’s great.

    Now, what about the shower pan or the bottom of the shower stall? You know, for decades upon decades, that was always a lead pan. There’s not much lead shower pans out there anymore.

    TOM SILVA: Lead, copper, even galvanized.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Galvanized would rot but when people want a mud job – true mud job – we will put in a copper pan.

    TOM: Right. Copper pan.

    TOM SILVA: And then the key is the copper pan should have a little bit of pitch to it, also, so that if the tile should ever weep or leak over, say, years later, you don’t want that water to lay in that pan. So I like to pitch the pan using shingles around the perimeter and lay the pan on that.

    But with this system that I’m talking about, they actually make a tapered-foam shower pan that basically lays on the floor. You don’t need anything under it except for the adhesive, a bigger notch trowel. You push it right in and then you go over that with the membrane to waterproof it.

    TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Always a pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue. For the toughest jobs on Planet Earth.

    Up next, if you have a hard time picking out colors when it comes to choosing paint, we’ve got a super-easy tip that’ll help, after this.

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    The new Comfort Tracker app by Owens Corning can help you locate problem areas throughout the home. The Comfort Tracker app works with the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera, which attaches to your iPhone, iPad or Android device. By visiting, you can learn more and download the Owens Corning Comfort Tracker app free for your iOS or Android device. Room by room, you’ll have a prioritized master plan to improve your home’s energy efficiency, ensuring comfortable temperatures all season long.

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    (theme song)

    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: And we would love to talk with you about your home improvement projects. So look around the house. We know there’s something – maybe more than one thing – on your to-do list. And if it’s not on yours, perhaps it’s on the to-do list of your significant other. Wouldn’t it be nice if you helped out by picking up the phone and calling us for the answer as to how to get that job done? We’ll give you some ideas to get it done once, get it done right and then you won’t have to deal with it for a very long time. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, when it comes to painting, for some, the hardest paint of the project isn’t the prep or even the painting. You know what it is? It’s picking colors. If that’s you, we’ve got a tip for a really easy way to get the color just right.

    LESLIE: Oh, for sure. I would say the first thing that people say to me – even if they don’t recognize me for my TV shows or they just know that I work in this genre of work, the first thing is, “Can you help me pick a paint color for whatever it is that I’m working on?” Sure. Paint is such a strongly personal preference and I can suggest colors that I think would work well with the space. But your opinion and my opinion could vary greatly.

    So, I think it’s very important for people to understand that there’s a couple of things that you need to work off of within your space in choosing those colors. Maybe it’s a print in a pillow. Maybe it’s a small fabric – a small print in that fabric – that you can pull a color out of. Or a color out of a rug pattern. Something like that. Or even a contrasting color to your sofa fabric. There’s all these different things that you work off of to select a color.

    But once you kind of land in the color palette that you’re searching through, forget about those little color chips that you see at the home center or the hardware store. It’s really impossible to envision what that’s going to look like in your entire space. And paint colors in the store are affected by the lights in the store and of course, even the lighting in your own home. It’s really just too small of a sample to know how it’s going to work on your walls.

    So instead, narrow down your color choices. You can work off of those small chips but then kind of determine maybe three, four colors. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too many options. And then you can actually buy a sample of each. Some of the home centers will even sell a couple of ounces, a very tiny one. You don’t even have to go up to a quart. But you can. That’s a $9 investment a quart. But some of them will sell small, little, few-ounce sample jars.

    Then paint a 2-foot square on your wall in your home in the room you want to work on. And put them near each other, all the different colors you’re looking on. And then watch those colors over the next few days. You’re going to see that as the daylight transitions into nighttime and the lighting comes on in your rooms, you’re going to see those paint colors really do take on a life of their own. And you’ll see that they’ll change how they look throughout the day.

    That will help you make a better choice without painting an entire room and then being very surprised when that gray you picked looks beautifully gray in the morning but then in the evening takes on a lavender issue, which is awesome if you know it’s coming. So just take the time …

    TOM: If that was part of the plan.

    LESLIE: Exactly. If you knew it was going to happen and you’re OK with that. So, really, just take the time, invest in some more samples and then you’ll really be thrilled.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, for some advice on your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Terry in Ohio is on the line and dealing with a stinky, hot-water smell.

    Terry, does it smell like rotten eggs?

    TERRY: It’s only happening in one bathroom. My husband replaced our electric hot-water heater two years ago with a gas. And it actually has been happening almost since that switch occurred. But the smell is only in the upstairs bathroom. And so I don’t know why we’re getting this smell. We’ve put bleach down in the tank and tried to clean out the tank but we continue to get this smell back.

    TOM: When you say the tank, you’re putting bleach in the water heater itself?

    TERRY: It’s very diluted. Just a little bit.

    TOM: Yeah. OK. Well, a couple of things. First of all, if the water smells throughout the entire house, then that’s usually caused by a problem with the anode rod in the water heater itself. But since it’s only two years old, I’m thinking that that’s probably not the case. It’s more likely a problem with biogas. And that could simply be something in the drain in that particular bathroom that’s causing this issue. Because you’ll get these microbes that will grow inside the drain and they can really smell terribly.

    So, what you need to do in a case like that is to – the best thing to do is to take the drain apart, if you can get under the sink, and take it apart and clean it really thoroughly in another sink somewhere. And get a bottle brush down there and scrub it with a good, strong bleach solution or you can use some oxygenated bleach, even better yet. And that will kill those microbes that are there.

    And then once you put it back together, I want you to fill the sink up to the point where you have that water goes down the overflow, which is usually built into the sink body. And make sure you put some bleach in the hot water, too, so that it will slowly trickle down that overflow for a bit of a time. So this way, if there’s any organic matter in that overflow, it will also be eliminated. So I suspect it’s in the drain as opposed to being a problem with the water heater. Because if it was a problem with the water heater, every single sink would smell the same way.

    TERRY: That’s kind of what I figured but we couldn’t figure it out. So, I thought – I listen to you guys every Saturday, so I thought I’d give you a call.

    TOM: Yeah, well, you know, it’s hard because it doesn’t – it only happens to – sometimes to – once a lifetime. But we hear about this all the time, so we’ve got a pretty good idea where to look for the problem, OK?

    TERRY: Oh, great. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, frost on the outside of your windows is a cheery sign of winter. Frost on the inside, however, isn’t quite as welcome. We’re going to explain why that happens and what you can do about it, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, in the new year, are you guys working on a big project? Well, it might be such a big project that you’re wondering where you’re going to start to need the advice of an architect. Or is it just better to play along directly with the builder?

    TOM: That’s a great question and it’s one we hear a lot, because it is tempting just to work just with the builder on everything, including the design. But my personal preference is always to use a separate design professional. Here’s why: I’d rather hash out all of the issues about my project – all the materials I’m going to choose, whether or not we’re going to move walls, add windows, add doors – hash all of that out with a design professional.

    And then once I’m really satisfied with the design, then and only then would I go to try to hire a builder or remodeler. Because this way, the contractors are all going to be bidding apples to apples because the design is pretty much locked down. If you work directly just with one remodeler or with one builder, you make changes, it’s kind of hard to stop that project creep, which can add expenses to the job. And sometimes you can ask for something and they go, “Sure.” But you don’t know you just added 10 grand to the project. That kind of thing can all be avoided if you work with a design professional up front.

    So, I think sometimes people are hesitant to spend a little money on that but I do think it’s a terrific idea.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s the best investment that you can make towards your project. The other thing is that while builders will know things about codes and permits, an architect is really going to know about what your village or your town or your municipality, whatever it is, demands. And there could be variances, there could be certain paperwork that needs to be applied for that a builder might not know about. And then you could end up in a heap of trouble.

    So it just makes more sense to go with a pro, an architect who knows your area where you live in, so they know really how to build – how to deal with the building department. And that’s going to save you a ton of time and a ton of headache throughout the whole process.

    TOM: Absolutely. Alright. Let’s get to the posts that came into our blog this week. First up from Alan in Pennsylvania.

    LESLIE: Alright. Alan writes: “My replacement windows are about 10 years old. I notice that they freeze or frost up about a ½-inch on the bottom of the top window. Every year, the area seems to get a little bit bigger. Is there a moisture problem or a window problem or no problem at all?”

    TOM: Boy, I’ll tell you what, frost on the outside of your window is really nice and pleasant and a cheery sign of the season. But inside? It’s trouble with your windows, as you’ve discovered, Alan. The reason this is happening is because the windows and probably the thermal panes have lost all of their insulating ability. And so what’s going on is that the window is so cold that the warm, moist air that naturally accumulates inside your house is condensing on that glass, probably dripping down, then turning to icicles at the bottom.

    And there’s not an easy fix for this. You do need new windows. That’s pretty clear because if this is happening, you’re also losing a lot of energy. That’s just one small sign of the fact that these things are not efficient. And if that’s going on in that one window, I’m sure the other windows are not too far behind. So, this may be a project you’re going to have to think about taking on in the coming year.

    And you know what? You don’t have to do the whole house at once. With replacement windows, you can do, say, one side a year or a couple sides of the house of the year and just kind of get it done over the next few years.

    LESLIE: And I think we’re still in a timeframe where – well, not for this – not for last year’s taxes. But what you can do is you can determine if there are any sort of incentives that would give you the benefit of having a more energy-efficient window, maybe even some rebates.

    There’s some steps that you can take to look and see what’s being offered in your area and find out the right paperwork and find out the windows that would go along with that. And that would help you determine if what you get back from the government at the end of next year’s fiscal year would work out well for you.

    TOM: And you know what? Alan may not even know how uncomfortable he is right now because he’s used to the temperatures – he’s used to the energy bills.

    LESLIE: Right. Until it’s fixed.

    TOM: And once it’s fixed, you know, it’s going to be a much more comfortable house.

    LESLIE: Good point.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and advice and ideas that will inspire your next home improvement project. We’ve got great resources online at where you can also subscribe to The Money Pit’s podcast.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2017 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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