Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Making good homes better every single day. It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea. What are you doing? What are you working on? Call us right now. Let’s talk about your home improvement projects. Need some help solving the do-it-yourself dilemmas in your life? Reach out and touch the experts. Well, not touch the experts. (chuckling) It’s sort of reach out to the experts; figuratively, not literally. And we would love to talk to you about your home improvement projects and help you out; help you get to the next step; help you make the right product decisions; help you out of a jam. We don’t judge. Anything worth starting is worth starting over with us.
LESLIE: And of course, Tom, we want to wish everybody happy holidays. I mean we’re full in the swing of the holiday season, so I’m sure there’s lots of things going on. Maybe you want to keep that in-laws guest room a little bit more quiet. We can help you with that. Anything you need, we’re your holiday helpers.
TOM: Lots of things coming up on the show today. First off, do you have a subterranean laundry room? Are you constantly navigating steep and narrow stairs to get to your washing machine with a full load of wash in your arms? It’s time to bring that laundry room above ground. We’re going to tell you exactly how to do that.
LESLIE: And of course the three most important words in real estate are location, location and, of course, location. Well, we’re going to tell you why that might also be the most important thing when deciding which flooring is right for you, you know. Because the room you’re choosing the floor for is going to help you really make that decision. And that’s up this hour.
TOM: And speaking of flooring, in a few minutes we’re going to talk about the great pretender; laminate flooring. We’re going to talk to you about why laminate flooring is gaining popularity with even the most devout natural flooring fans. It looks so good today that you literally can’t tell the difference.
LESLIE: And of course we’re going to help you decide which type of laminate flooring is the right choice for you.
TOM: Plus this hour we’re giving away a great prize to help shed some light on your current DIY project. It’s called the Wobble Light Jr. It’s a compact and powerful light that will right itself instead of tipping over. And I wish I could get that for my like shoes, you know (chuckling). You know, if I fell over, it’d just right me. Wobble shoes.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I’ve never seen you fall down at all. If anybody needs them it’s me. (chuckling) It’s like who is constantly tripping over their own feet?
TOM: Alright. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Doug’s listening to The Money Pit on KSRO. What’s going on at your house?
DOUG: Well, I live – and it’s fairly new construction – in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. And I live in a three-story home. It’s actually two stories with a walk-out basement. And the top floor has my kids’ bedrooms with its own furnace and air conditioning.
DOUG: And then the main floor has another separate furnace but the lower level walk-out is all hooked into the main floor thermostat.
DOUG: Needless to say, in the winter it’s cold downstairs when it’s nice on the main floor. And the question I had was isn’t there a way that I could break up the lower floor with the main floor on the main floor furnace to get separate heat?
TOM: Do you have – this is a forced air system?
DOUG: Yes, it’s gas forced air.
TOM: You can put zone dampers in but that’s going to require you to put some new ductwork in. You know, much like a hot water system where you have one loop of pipe for one area and that’s called a zone, in a ducted system you can also have a loop of duct and that could be a zone. And then you use a motorized zone damper to control the flow of air to that particular area.
This is a situation where you’re probably not going to have the best possible resolution because the house is already under construction. So let me ask you this. Is the thermostat sort of being fooled into coming on more than it needs to because it’s picking up a temperature in that walk-out space?
DOUG: Well, no. The thermostat’s actually up on – in the main floor in the great room.
DOUG: And so say when I have that at 67 degrees and it’s reached that temperature, if I’m downstairs in the family room, you know, it’s probably a good five, seven, ten degrees cooler down there.
TOM: Is the family room a place where you guys spend most of your time?
DOUG: That’s where we put the kids and all my exercise equipment’s there.
LESLIE: So to even get that to a comfortable temperature you’ve got to crank it up upstairs and then be sweating.
DOUG: Or put in plug-in heaters which, you know, of course I don’t want to do that.
TOM: Well yeah, I was going to say that this is a situation where some additional electric resistance heating units on a thermostat might make sense. Even though it’s an expensive form of heat, it really depends on how much of it you’re going to need to use. You’re going to need supplemental heat. No matter how you look at this, you’re going to need supplemental heat. Even zoning this I’m not so sure is going to do it.
I would say that probably the best steps are this. The first thing that you should do, Doug, is get an HVAC contractor in to determine how difficult it’ll be to zone that area. If it can be zoned successfully without a lot of – without a lot of expense, then go ahead and zone it. You’ll need a separate thermostat and you’ll need to make sure that it’s hooked up, of course, to the zone; the zone damper.
TOM: If that’s not possible, then you have to look at supplemental heat. Your options with supplemental heat would be electric resistance heat hooked up to a clock setback thermostat; not the kind that’s plug-in but the kind that’s permanently installed along the baseboard. Or a through-the-wall heat pump. Now a through-the-wall heat pump is a little bit like the kinds of heating units that you used to see in hotel rooms but they actually look a lot sleeker now. I have a through-the-wall heat pump in a part of my house that is sort of a distance from the rest of the house so it never heats or cools quite right. And the through-the-wall heat pump gives us just that little bit of makeup heat and makeup air conditioning that we need. And it’s about half the price to run that compared to electric resistance heat. A heat pump is an air conditioning unit that runs backwards.
DOUG: OK, OK.
TOM: You know with a wall – with a window air conditioning unit it’s always throwing hot air outside? If you can reverse that refrigeration cycle, now you’ve got a heat pump.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Charles in Alabama, how can we help you in your money pit?
CHARLES: I’ve got vinyl siding on my home and I’ve hit it when mowing; with a lawn mower. A rock – picked up a rock and hit it and put a hole in it. What do you do about that?
TOM: Not much. You have to replace the piece of vinyl siding. Do you happen to have any extra?
CHARLES: No, uh-uh. No, actually it’s a mobile home.
TOM: Oh. Well, I’ll tell you, what you’re – I would suggest that you think about taking a piece off the least visible side of the house and moving it over there; perhaps putting the damaged piece over to that side. You can move pieces around or you could probably search out …
CHARLES: [That’s a good idea.] (ph)
TOM: You could search out for a replacement piece. But siding is not very forgiving in terms of any repair.
LESLIE: Yeah, do you need to remove everything from above it and sort of replace that one piece and then re-tack on or can you patch over it?
TOM: No, there’s a little siding tool that helps you sort of unzip that piece out of it. And you can kind of take it apart in place.
CHARLES: OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Going on now to South Carolina with Banks (ph). What’s your question? Something about wallpaper and a popcorn ceiling? How can we help?
BANKS (ph): Absolutely. We’ve got a situation we just moved into and we’re kind of eyeball (ph) … and we’ve got some hideous wallpaper and some lovely popcorn ceilings that we’re – I’m trying to get rid of altogether. And I just wanted to know, first off …
LESLIE: Banks (ph), if you wait long enough, it’ll come back in style. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, those are antiques. How dare you remove them? (laughing)
BANKS (ph): That’s what my wife was wondering. But I don’t think this particular thing’s going to come back in. And we were just wondering if it’s appropriate to do it all at once; both together in the same room. And then secondly, just some smart methods for making it happen.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you, they’re both messy jobs so I think it does make sense to do it all at once and have it behind you because I can’t imagine we want to break this misery into two projects.
LESLIE: And is it for real a popcorn ceiling? Like, do you feel it like popping off or is it more of like a stiff texture?
BANKS (ph): It’s very stiff.
TOM: OK. Here’s what you’re going to have to do. First of all, let’s talk about the popcorn ceiling because that’s going to probably be the most difficult. What you’re going to want to do is probably wet that down and then scrape off the texture part. You’ll need a spackle knife – a regular spackle blade; the kind you use to apply …
LESLIE: Get like a good wide one.
TOM: Yeah, a good wide one. And dampen it and work it a little bit at a time all the way across the room. The goal here is to take off the texture without too much damaging the drywall underneath it. Once it’s all off, you’re going to need to prime the ceiling. But before you prime the ceiling, let’s tackle that wallpaper because that’s going to need a coat of primer, too. Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah, for the wallpaper the best bet is just rent a steamer. If you can rent a steamer and then really saturate that wallpaper and work in sections and really get that glue behind – you know that adhesive loosened up – you should be able to peel it away in fairly large pieces. You know, you don’t want to get one of those cutting devices that sort of rips it into a million little pieces and then shred it because then you’re pulling off tiny little bits and then you could be damaging whatever is underneath; if it’s the drywall or whatever was the substructure. But just really steam it. It’s going to be wet in there. It’s going to be messy. But if you work together, you can get this room done.
TOM: You know, come to think of it, since you’re going to rent a steamer anyway, that would probably work just as well as wetting down the popcorn. So you may be able to do both projects with the same machine. Basically, it’s getting a lot of humidity and moisture into it that’s going to loosen the material up and make it separate.
But once you get it all done, make sure you prime the ceiling and the wall surfaces so you have something neutral to start the new project with. And on that popcorn ceiling, when you repaint it, make sure you use flat paint; only flat paint. Because if you use anything with a sheen, you’re going to see like every scar with the [flat form] (ph) – where the popcorn used to be.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. We know it’s the holiday time and we know you’re in a frenzy. But add to your list. You know you can always reach us at our secret number. It’s not so secret. You know it. You can call us anytime; 24 hours a day, seven days a week; even on the big holidays. We’re going to help you out with any home improvement dilemma. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. The advice is always worth more than the cost of the phone call. (chuckling)
Hey you know, your laundry room might usually be the least accessible place in your house. Usually you have to go down to the deep, dark dungeon of your basement to get to it. You climb down narrow stairs – often with no handrails. Bad idea – with your hands full of laundry. You can’t even see over the top.
LESLIE: And a kid pulling at your leg.
TOM: And the toys that are on the steps. And it can be a really dangerous thing. Well you know, the AARP says it’s time to bring that laundry room into the 21st century. When we come back, we’re going to give you some tips on how to move that laundry room upstairs; plumbing, washing, dryer and all.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Alright. So the laundry room. I remember when I was a kid our basement was the scariest place in the whole world and I refused to do that chore. At least now where our laundry room is it’s warm and it’s inviting and I don’t mind going down there. But if you’re constantly finding yourself navigating narrow stairs with laundry basket in your arms, it’s time to bring that laundry room upstairs and into the light; onto the main playing field of the house.
You know, more new homes have washers and dryers in the hallways, in kitchens, in bathrooms. And the folks at AARP say it’s never been easier to move your laundry room upstairs. You know, there are so many different styles of washers and dryers that really make this possible. One example is called a stack washer and dryer because the washer and dryer sit on top of one another and the washer tub is on the bottom of the unit and the dryer is on the top. And the stacking unit only takes up about half the space of a standard washer and dryer; sometimes even less. And it’s small enough to fit into a closet. And you see these – if you’ve ever lived in a New York apartment, you’ve seen this before.
TOM: And I’ve got even a better option. I think this is so cool. It’s a combination unit that washes and dries the clothes without any help from you. It looks like a normal washing machine but it does the work of actually two machines. You put your dirty clothes into it and you forget about them. When you return, they’re both clean and dry. You won’t have to move wet clothes from the washer to the dryer because the washer is the dryer and the dryer is the washer.
You also don’t have to vent this unit to the outside, so you can put it anywhere you want. Bring …
LESLIE: How come? Doesn’t it still generate steam and …
TOM: It exhausts – it basically uses the steam to dry the clothes.
LESLIE: That’s very cool.
TOM: So you can basically put it anywhere you want. Bring your laundry room to you instead of having to go to the laundry room. And cleaning your clothes will certainly be less of a chore with either of these options. So get it upstairs folks. You don’t need to leave it down in the deep, dark basement.
If you want more information, you could log onto AARP.org/UniversalHome. That’s AARP.org/UniversalHome.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, do you want to know how to save money on your heating bills without feeling a chill? Well, how about a quick project that costs only a few bucks to save money on all your energy bills? And you can find all of that and more at MoneyPit.com if you go to the Repair and Improve section for tips, ideas and projects that are going to keep your wallet from feeling this winter’s drafts.
And while you’re there, make you sure you shoot us an e-mail with your home improvement question and we’ll answer it for you.
TOM: Or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You could win a Wobble Light Jr. worth 60 bucks. It’s a 360-degree self-righting work light, so you don’t have to worry about – as you’re schlepping stuff around for your home improvement project – if you knock it over, it’ll flip right back up. It’s available at The Home Depot but you could win one today by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Tina in Iowa, you’re next on The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
TINA: Well, I am wanting to know what to use to paint a bathtub.
TOM: Hmm. We don’t recommend painting bathtubs.
TINA: (chuckling) Oh, come on. (chuckling) I want – I’m remodeling my bathroom and I – the bathtub is just – it’s still good.
TOM: Right. Structurally it’s good, right?
TINA: (overlapping voices) The only thing is it’s pink.
TOM: Yeah. Oh, it’s pink? Oh. (chuckling) Well, then we definitely painting a bathtub.
TINA: (chuckling) Thank you.
LESLIE: But you don’t paint it. You have it professionally resealed or recast.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Well, glazed. Re-glazed.
LESLIE: Glazed. Thank you.
TOM: Yeah. And you can – you can – there are like sort of do-it-yourself glazing kits. But they don’t seem to last that long. So you’re going to probably want to contact a glazer.
LESLIE: And you don’t get that smooth look either. When you have it re-glazed, it’s the same like shiny finish that you don’t see any brush strokes; you don’t see how it was applied. It really looks professional and beautiful. If you try to do one of these yourself, you’re going to notice all sorts of user errors, if you will.
TOM: And the other thing you can consider would be a bathtub refitter. This is like an insert that fits inside the bathtub and sort of changes it to be from like a metal tub look to sort of a solid surfacing look. You know what I mean, Leslie? We see these at the home shows all the time.
LESLIE: I’m not a fan.
TOM: You’re not a fan? You don’t like them?
LESLIE: You know, it’s – in some cases, I’ve seen acrylic refitters …
LESLIE: … where they’re actually acrylic with Microban and they’re good materials. And then I’ve seen kind of junky ones. But it’s really – it’s an insert that fits over everything. It’s a cost effective solution. But it does make your tub smaller.
TOM: Yeah, that’s true. Because it is about – oh, at least a half of an inch thick, I think. But those are a couple of options for you. We wouldn’t recommend the do-it-yourself kits. You could probably either go with a pro or consider a refitter. You know, none of them are as good as replacing the whole tub but it might be less expensive that way.
Alright Tina, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, they charge for those refitting projects just slightly less than it would charge – they would charge to totally gut the whole room. I think that’s the idea. You know, they get a little bit less.
LESLIE: I don’t know. I’ve heard mixed things about them. I’ve heard of situations where people have had a weight issue and have gotten in and stepped into a hollow area of the fit-in and cracked right through.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh and – hmm.
LESLIE: I mean I’ve heard mixed things on them. It …
TOM: That’d be pretty darn embarrassing; cracking your own bathtub, huh?
LESLIE: You know, it’s like if it’s a solution that’s necessary, then go for it. They can be attractive. It’s just for me it’s I’d rather get something new and real.
TOM: Good advice.
LESLIE: Grouting in Georgia, that’s what Kim’s doing. How can we help you?
KIM: Yes, we have some tile that was put down about a year ago. And our grout is coming up and I have little holes in it. And I was wanting to know can you grout over that?
TOM: Is it floor tile or a wall tile?
KIM: It’s floor tile.
LESLIE: That sounds like the subfloor is off kilter. Because that seems to be like there’s a lot of movement.
TOM: Yeah, the floor surface is moving. Is it over a wood floor? Was it installed over wood?
KIM: It was wood and then they put some backer board down.
KIM: But I think the person who installed it didn’t let it sit because he did it all in one day.
TOM: Well, that might not be the – it might not be that he didn’t let it sit but it definitely sounds like it doesn’t have any kind of a mud base to it. It’s basically – the reason you’re getting grout that’s breaking is because you have movement in the floor as you walk over it and stuff. So the grout is – basically, it doesn’t bend; it breaks.
LESLIE: I mean you’re lucky it’s not breaking the tiles.
TOM: Yeah. Are these …
TOM: … big, wide tiles or are they smaller tiles?
KIM: They’re the 12×12.
TOM: Well you’re lucky because tiles don’t bend. They crack. So you’re fortunate …
LESLIE: So the movement just seems to be really affecting grout …
LESLIE: … but it’s possible that it could affect the tile and start snapping things.
KIM: Oh, no.
TOM: I’ll give you a solution. Now, this may involve removing all of the grout. Well now, actually I’m going to back out. You know what I was thinking, Leslie? There is a – there’s a tile product that is called Edge Flooring and it’s sold in Lowe’s. And it’s basically tile on a fiberboard backer. And what’s cool about the system is that the grout that you put in, it comes in a can that looks like a Cheez Whiz can. So that when you squeeze …
LESLIE: Plus you squeeze it right in.
TOM: You squeeze it in there and it remains just a little bit flexible. But if I had a floor with a lot of movement, that would be a possible solution. But in this case, Kim, I suspect that the – that the floor was not prepped properly. This may be a problem that is like ongoing. And so the best short term solution for you is just to get some grout mix – hopefully find the same color – and continually patch it. Because I’m afraid that even if you do pull it out, it’s just going to happen again. You may just have to stay on top of it. Hopefully, it’s not a lot that’s coming out; just a little bit coming out.
KIM: I really appreciate your answer.
TOM: Alright, Kim. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, is it real or is it laminate? As a professional home inspector, you know I’ve seen many people fooled by laminate floor. I remember one time, Leslie, I was standing in the addition to a home that was built in the 1700s with the realtors and the buyers standing around looking down at the floor and said, ‘What kind of floor do you think this is?’ And they’re going, ‘Well, I think it’s cherry. It’s walnut. It’s …’
LESLIE: Did it match the rest of the house?
TOM: It did. It did. I said, ‘Nope, you’re all wrong. It’s plastic.’ (chuckling) They were like, ‘No way.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ It was plastic. It was laminate floor. Then they’re all like …
LESLIE: You’re like, ‘And it’s original to the home.’ (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah. All these folks were on their hands and knees like scratching it, you know? (chuckling) Like a dog scratching the ground. They were just like, ‘I can’t believe it’s plastic.’
LESLIE: (chuckling) And if they only knew that you were just messing with them. (chuckling)
TOM: I know. Right? It looks just like real wood. Yeah, it actually was wood; I just didn’t want to tell them.
LESLIE: (chuckling) No.
TOM: No. It really did look just like that. I mean laminate floor can look like wood; it can look like stone or tile. But the truth is it costs a lot less and sometimes it wears even better.
LESLIE: Yeah, and up next we’re going to help you decide which kind of laminate flooring is the right choice for you. We’re going to have some help from our friends at Fine Homebuilding magazine. So stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Money Pit. Making good homes better. Reach out and touch the experts. This is where work and fun meet, folks, so call us right now with your home improvement questions. Call us with those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Call us with whatever you’re working on; soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles. Or perhaps you’re working on floors. That’s what we’re going to talk about next.
LESLIE: Yeah, you mentioned floorboards to shingles. And I think flooring has been number one, pretty much, on a lot of our callers’ to-do lists. And laminate flooring is even gaining popularity among the most devout natural flooring fans because it’s durable, it’s easy to install and it can look like almost any flooring surface you can think of.
TOM: Well, joining us right now to talk about the different types of laminate floors is Kevin Ireton. He’s the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine.
Hi, Kevin. Welcome to the program.
LESLIE: Hey, Kevin.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
TOM: So Kevin, I think when we think about laminate, we all hearken back to the old Formica countertop and you – and I think we’ve all had incidents with that. We know it scratches, it cuts, it burns. It doesn’t seem like it would be enough of a durable material for flooring but …
LESLIE: And it’s pretty darn thin.
TOM: Yeah, but the laminate floor is completely – is made completely differently. So why don’t we start by talking about its construction.
KEVIN: Well the process is actually similar but it’s just – it’s just thicker and creates a much more durable finish. And two, I hate to let you get away with dissing laminate counters too much. (chuckling) I mean they hold up remarkably well. But basically, what laminate floors are is – the core is a product called MDF for medium density fiberboard. And then on top of that is a photo layer; I mean it’s actually …
LESLIE: But wait, Kevin. How is it that a flooring like laminate which is known to be in moisture environments – below-grade bathrooms – be made from MDF which you and I both know and Tom knows that if this – if MDF gets wet, it’s like a sponge?
KEVIN: I think that speaks to the ability of these manufacturers, one – to assemble these things so that they snap together incredibly tightly and to put a very durable finish on them.
TOM: Yeah. And I don’t think that the MDF that is used in laminate floor is the same stuff that we’ve seen, for example, that you can buy and make countertops out of. I think it’s a different density. Because I know myself, I’ve taken these laminate planks and soaked them in bathtubs just to make a point and they just are completely impervious to the water. Now the manufacturer never tried to do that but I certainly have tried it just to see how the stuff stands up and it does stand up very well. In fact, one of the advantages of laminate floor is that you can have a floor that looks like wood – you know, even old, antique wood – and you can use that in a bathroom to give it that old look without having any of the concerns of the maintenance of the water getting on the floor.
KEVIN: It’s absolutely true. The durability of these things – I mean they’re very common in kitchens, in rec rooms, in basements. So they’re holding up in places that get a lot of traffic.
LESLIE: I know when people think of laminate floorings, you know, a variety of brand names pop to mind. But people always seem to think that one resonates sound more than the other. How can you tell which product to buy that doesn’t make that hollow, clicking sound when you stomp on it with shoes?
KEVIN: You know, there I think the key is going to be to do your research. There are a lot of places where you can buy these products online and that’s pretty tempting. But you want to at least get those folks to send you some samples ahead of time. If you can, it’s also better to go visit a showroom where you can see an installation and walk around on it.
TOM: And I will say that installing this stuff is easier than ever. You know, Kevin, I think I was sort of the first kid on my block to have laminate floor and I bought it from Formica probably 10 years ago when it first came out. And do you remember when it first came out that you used to have glue each of the planks together and clamp each one in place?
KEVIN: I sure do. A sort of tedious and messy process.
TOM: It was a very, very difficult, very time-consuming process.
LESLIE: Wait, like a pressure clamp across the entire planking?
TOM: You had to take a strap clamp and the strap clamp had like a special claw on the end so it wouldn’t damage the tongue or the groove. And as you put these together – and I had these big two foot by two foot …
LESLIE: So plank by plank and let each one dry?
TOM: Plank by plank. You had to – well, you know, I mean you didn’t have to let them completely dry but you had to use the clamp to pull them tight enough to compress the glue and get it to be a perfectly flat seam. So you’d do a couple one way; you’d do a couple the other way. Then you’d take off clamps and you’d move them. And it was a very time-consuming, very complicated process and certainly nothing that I would have wished on any do-it-yourselfer. But now that’s all changed because now all the planks have different lock together technologies where they sort of snap in place and you really don’t need the glue anymore. In fact, I did a bathroom installation not too long ago and I think that the glue in the bathroom installation was recommended but not required. You really don’t even have to use glue at all as you put these together.
KEVIN: Yeah, most of these floors are absolutely floating floors. They’re not attached. They’re just sitting on top of an underlayment.
LESLIE: And there’s so many choices of underlayment, Kevin. How do you sort through and decide what’s best?
KEVIN: Well, it’s like everything else. I mean money’s a factor but – as are conditions. Some underlayments do a better job at being a vapor barrier and preventing moisture from coming up through. That would be a consideration if you were in a – you know, in a basement, for instance. Others are much more sound resistant, like cork, which is one of the premium underlayments that you can use. And then there are others that sort of combine the best of – the best of all worlds but, of course, you’re paying more a premium for those.
LESLIE: And we’re even seeing the same thing with pricing for the laminate floorings themselves. You see things as low as, you know, $2.00 up to $10.00 per square because you really get what you pay for. You get the better quality product and the better looking product the more you spend.
KEVIN: Yeah, one of the issues with laminate floors – given that they are essentially a photograph of a floor – is, you know, can you lay a floor so that it doesn’t look like, ‘Hey, I’ve got the same board, you know, over here as I’ve got over here’ and that – you know, it sort of gives away the fact that these aren’t real boards. Because no two boards look alike. But different manufacturers will go to much greater lengths to sort of mask that and to make their flooring look more realistic. So, those are the kinds of things that can add cost.
TOM: That’s great advice.
Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, great information on laminate flooring. The issue is on newsstands now or you can log onto their website at FineHomebuilding.com.
Kevin, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Well, while we’re on the topic of laminate flooring, one way to decide if this is the right flooring for you is to determine where in the house you’re thinking of laying it down. Tips on this, next from the folks at Armstrong Floors.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by for your calls, your questions about your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. What are you working on? Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here; you’re there. So call us. We want to talk to you. We want to help you out. We want to help you make your house everything that you want it to be. Making good homes better; that’s what this show is all about.
LESLIE: Well, number one calling topic, Tom, is it floors? That’s correct?
TOM: Flooring. Number one topic on The Money Pit is flooring.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Number one topic. You guys call in; you e-mail us about flooring. So if you’re thinking about installing a new floor, this is for you guys. The most important thing to consider is the location of that floor. Where in the house are you putting this down? And these are some of the most important considerations. Think about if the floor is going to be, say, for a full bathroom you need a floor that can stand up to temperature and humidity differences; you know, it’s going to be really hot, it’s going to be really humid in there and then it’s going to be really cool. And it also has to stand up to pooling liquids. A vinyl sheet floor is perfect for these types of rooms; while others, such as hardwood, you know, really isn’t going to be a good choice with all that moisture. On the other hand, many floors may be used successfully in half baths since the risk against pooling liquids is quite less; which can, you know, really damage the floorings or even damage the seams on flooring. So you want to make sure you choose the right floor for the right location.
TOM: Yeah, the other thing to consider is the grade. While many floors can be installed on any grade level, others are usually not recommended for installation below grade. For example – because that’s where the moisture gets into. For example, we can talk about solid wood. Great stuff above grade. You know, first floor and higher solid wood is perfect. But if it’s below grade, you can still put in wood but not solid wood. You’d have to put in engineered hardwoods, which is basically solid wood that has made – is made up of many layers where the layers criss-cross; much like plywood does but made out of very nice hardwood with good finishes on them. And the finish, by the way, also is super strong because now the wood finishes are aluminum oxide finishes which is the same stuff that sandpaper’s made out of.
LESLIE: Well, and the finish is done in a facility offsite …
LESLIE: … so you know it dries well, it’s cured properly and it’s applied right.
TOM: And of course, the other thing that works great anywhere is really a laminate. Above grade, below grade, you can’t go wrong with a laminate.
So if you want more information on how to choose the right floor for your location, you can log onto Armstrong.com and click on The Complete Guide to Flooring. They really did a nice job on this booklet. It has everything you need to know and it’s available at Armstrong.com.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got a great prize this hour. One caller we’re going to choose today is going to win a Wobble Light Jr. It’s worth 60 bucks and it’s a 360-degree, self-righting work light. It’s pretty cool.
TOM: Yeah it is. It’s got a rounded base and a counterweight so it’s kind of like that childhood toy; you know, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. Well, the Wobble Light’s …
LESLIE: Can I tell you I carry one around in my travel bag; like in my laptop bag …
LESLIE: … because I feel like if I have it on the plane, you know it’s like the plane might wobble but it won’t fall down. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) You’ll always know which way is up.
LESLIE: Well and I had this one since I was a kid so it’s like I’m excited about this lamp.
TOM: Oh, you actually do have one?
LESLIE: Oh yeah, I have my own Weeble from when I was like two.
TOM: Oh, we’re learning – (chuckling) we’re learning – (chuckling) we’re learning new things about the life of Leslie Segrete. She carries around a wobbler.
LESLIE: It’s a Weeble. (laughing)
TOM: A Weeble Wobble. Alright. So the next time that we’re concerned that the plane is, you know, not going quite straight, we’ll just pull out the wobble.
LESLIE: I’ve got the Weeble.
TOM: I’m going to remember that (chuckling) next time we take a flight somewhere together.
LESLIE: You know, it’s funny because this fun lamp, this Wobble Light, I want it to look …
TOM: ‘Excuse me – excuse me – excuse me, Mr. Pilot? I’m afraid that the plane isn’t going quite straight. We know this because Leslie has pulled out the Weeble Wobbler.’
LESLIE: My Weeble tells us we’re tilting at a third-degree angle to the right. (chuckling) How do we correct that?
TOM: Yeah, I wonder why they don’t navigate by the Weeble Wobbler. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Shut up.
TOM: (chuckling) Alrighty. So call us right now if you want to win your own Wobble Light. (chuckling)
LESLIE: But the light doesn’t look a Weeble. The light’s actually quite cool and industrial looking.
TOM: It is. That’s right.
LESLIE: I wish it looked like a Weeble but it’s much cooler.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Are you a do-it-to-yourselfer? Let’s talk. 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: In California you can find The Money Pit on KSRO like Tammy does. And what’s happening at your house?
TAMMY: Well, it’s a bathroom ceiling and it gets a lot of moisture. But the ceiling keeps discoloring and I’ve tried painting it and bleaching it and putting on the kind of paint that prohibits mold and whatever from coming through. And it just keeps coming through. And when moisture builds up on it, the drips that come down actually can be discolored.
TOM: Hmm. Tammy, is this bathroom on the second floor ceiling? Is there a roof above it?
TAMMY: No, it’s a one level house.
TOM: OK. Usually above a bathroom there is going to be a vent pipe that goes out through the roof. And the first thing I want to do is make sure you don’t have an active leak. So you need to check the flashing where the pipe – the vent pipe for the toilet goes through the roof; for the bathroom goes through the roof –
TOM: – and make sure it’s not active.
LESLIE: And do you have a vent fan for this bathroom?
TOM: Yeah, that’s part of the problem. And then the other thing, Leslie, is I think that she needs to prime this.
LESLIE: Yeah, it could just be a reaction from the stain with the paint that you’ve been using. And it might be as simple as applying a primer – generally, an oil based primer – just as a priming solution just to make sure it will really adhere to the stain. And then you can put your topcoat paint of a latex variety on there so you don’t have to worry about continually using the oil base. But that’s really going to stick well and cover that stain.
TAMMY: Unfortunately, I tried the primer and I’ve even gone to some of the big, you know, kind of home improvement places and asked them. Because I tried a primer and then I painted it and it didn’t help. So then (inaudible) …
TOM: It’s still …?
LESLIE: And you used an oil based primer?
TOM: Did you use an oil based primer or a water based primer?
TAMMY: That I don’t know. I told them it was for a bathroom so I don’t know what they gave me.
TOM: What I would recommend you do is go out and buy a gallon of KILZ; oil based KILZ. Not latex.
TAMMY: That’s what I used.
TOM: Not – but make sure it’s oil based.
LESLIE: Oil – I mean KILZ also does a latex, so it could have been either.
TAMMY: Oh, OK.
TOM: They do a latex and oil, OK? And then I want you to prime not only the stain, but the entire ceiling since it’s just the bathroom. And then repaint it. If you continue to get a stain after that, you’ve got an active leak for sure. And the best primer in the world is not going to cure that. You’ve got to fix the leak first. But check the vent pipe where it comes through the roof because they almost always develop leaks around them at one time or another and need to be sealed.
TAMMY: Great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tammy sounded like she was taking notes.
TOM: Yeah, she did. She was being a good home improvement listener.
LESLIE: She’s like, ‘I will make my list and I will check it twice.’
TOM: Well you know, when she said that it keeps coming in above the bathroom, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s got to be the vent pipe’ because they always leak. And they’re easy to fix. You just add some roof mastic right around the pipe. You can seal in that flashing. Because there’s a rubber flashing piece around the vent and it just breaks down. And you can seal it in with some roof cement and then it’ll be fine.
LESLIE: Coming up, we’re going to reach into our e-mail bag to answer a question about a strange odor and who’s responsible for solving the mystery when you’re in a rental. Hmm. We’ll have the answer to that riddle, next.
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you doing? What are you working on? Call us or you can write us, you know? And if you like the tips and advice we give on the show, you can get even more tips and advice if you’ll sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter. It comes to your inbox every single week and in our next issue we’re going to tell you what not to do with the gifts that you’re maybe not thrilled about. Maybe some tips to regift them? No! We’re going to give you the three best ways to make sure you can exchange them without any hassles.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s get right to our e-mail bag. We’ve got one from Brenda in Waldorf, Maryland who writes: ‘I live in a townhouse and I have a problem with a bad odor in my basement. I’d like to know who I would contact to figure out the source of the problem. It might be coming from my neighbor’s house and I’ve had everything in my basement checked that I could think of and there are no problems with the heating, AC, water heater, washer, dryer vent. I’ve had the furnace cleaned and the vents cleaned, caulked the corner of the basement where the odor originated, but nothing. It’s still around. It’s not an old home. It’s only four-and-a-half years old and there’s no water. Help!’
TOM: Ah, you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking like – it’s kind of gross but I’m thinking dead rodent here.
LESLIE: Yeah but wouldn’t that go away? It seems like she’s had this problem a long time.
TOM: Mmm …
LESLIE: She can’t constantly have a dead rat in the wall.
TOM: Nah. Maybe not but it could last quite some time. The other thing is I wonder if she has a floor drain in here. Brenda – and I don’t have that information here – but if you have a floor drain in the basement, typically what happens is they can dry out. And the other thing to check is your plumbing venting system to make sure that there’s no open cleanouts, for example, to your sewer line. Because if that happens, you’re going to get sewage gas that backs up there. I doubt it’s coming from your neighbor’s house. (chuckling) I mean that would be one heck of an odor to come across the neighborhood like that. So I think you just have to keep looking for it; probably in the plumbing system – most common source of those issues.
LESLIE: And we’re not going to tell your neighbor that you think it’s them.
TOM: So Leslie, when I grew up, my mother always had a strange decorating taste. I called it TMC disease.
LESLIE: What is that?
TOM: Too much crap. (laughing)
LESLIE: (chuckling) I kind of thought the crap word was in there.
TOM: Yeah, just like stuff everywhere, you know? And I think a lot of us have a lot of stuff. And one of the things that you might have a lot of are family photos. Well, sometimes it can clutter up the space and make a very chaotic look. But today, on your edition of Leslie’s Last Word, you’ve got some secrets to making that really organized and super nice.
LESLIE: Yeah, because you can really make it look good. And you know, you’re proud of your family and you want to see your loved ones displayed for all to see. But you don’t have to litter the tops of all your side tables with those framed photos to accomplish that. Think about creating a grouping. If you remember that mantra, you’re going to do great. You can paint a block of a complimentary color or a contrasting color on your wall and then hang photos within that painted section. Make it very special. And you can keep them grouped to, say, group them by imagery; whether it’s from a vacation or event. Or you can use different photos in the same frame. This way the frame is the grouping anchor. Just think about keeping one thing constant. You can either blow up a small section of your favorites, like the chubby little foot from a baby picture and frame it in a triptych – which is three photos all framed together that relate to each other.
TOM: You call that a triptych?
TOM: Oh, cool.
LESLIE: It’s a religious art titling. It’s usually a wooden piece that folds out to tell a story from the Bible or different religious events. They’ve called that triptych.
TOM: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about but I never knew that it was called a triptych.
LESLIE: Yes, it’s – well, a three story.
Now, you can also think about displaying your photos under a glass tabletop. This way, anytime you’re sitting down at your favorite coffee table, you’re looking at some nice photos of your family. You know, there’s so many wonderful ideas and it can be really just interesting to look at all of your favorite family photos. So bring them back. You can use them. But use your imagination.
TOM: And that reminds me of one more thing. If you’ve ever had the situation where you tried to remove a photo and it was stuck to the glass, we actually had an e-mailer write us about that some time ago. And we responded to it in great detail with some expert tips on MoneyPit.com. So go to MoneyPit.com; search on Ask Tom and Leslie and you’ll find the tips for removing stuck photos right there.
Well, we’re just about out of time this hour but coming up next week we want to let you know that it is easy being green. We’re going to tell you how you can make it easier on the earth and your wallet when you’re remodeling. Some tips on green homebuilding, next week on the program.
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.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2006 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.)