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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement projects? Need some help solving that do-it-yourself dilemma? Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, it’s been a great, great year here at The Money Pit and we actually have been keeping track of all the things people want to talk about. You know what the number one topic is?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s flooring, I think.
TOM: Floors. Floors. Other …
LESLIE: Floors …
TOM: Other top topics: kitchen and bath, of course.
TOM: HVAC. You know your heating, your cooling.
LESLIE: Where do roofs rank in there?
TOM: Roofs are actually in the top 10 but down the bottom. I think it’s about number eight or so; which means apparently all the instructions we’ve been offering on the show over the years are working because people are having fewer and fewer roof links. They’re pushing down as the type of question that we’re asked very frequently; even though it’s been a fairly wet year.
LESLIE: You know, I think people really are listening and they’re taking the advice and they’re taking good precautions. And they’re listening to us just to get project ideas. So it’s working. So ’06 was excellent for The Money Pit.
TOM: And we’re so glad that you listen to us because our families don’t. (chuckling)
We’ve got a great show in store for you today. First up, is your laundry room cluttered and dark? That could mean that it’s also dangerous. You wouldn’t want a bottle of bleach falling on you, would you?
LESLIE: No, my eyes! (chuckling)
TOM: This hour we’ve got some great tips on laundry room storage that will keep you safe.
LESLIE: Alright. And our regular listeners know about my carpet in the basement fiasco. (whines) I now know that that’s really not such a great idea. But did you know that you can have hardwood floors even in the dampest of conditions, like your basement? We’re going to tell you how.
TOM: And with three kids, I know that there are accidents just waiting to happen around the house. (chuckling) Our good friend Bob Vila is going to join us in just a few minutes with some tips on baby and kid-proofing all around the house.
LESLIE: Plus we’re going to be giving away a great prize. It’s the Ryobi 7.2-volt drill. It’s worth $30. And it’s a brand new drill from those folks and it’s the result of extensive engineering by Ryobi’s research and design team. And they’ve made it more compact and more comfortable to operate. So it’s really a great prize that can be used by anyone. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. We could pick you.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Well, we’re on our way to Ohio and talking to Charles. How can we help you?
CHARLES: Hey, hi. I was looking at the – my drywall (clears throat) – excuse me. And I noticed I have a lot of nails starting to make themselves noticeable. And I didn’t know if there’s something out there that I can, upon nailing them back, to keep these little guys from coming back; that I can put over.
TOM: Yeah, the dreaded nail pop.
LESLIE: Dreaded nail pop. (chuckling)
CHARLES: Yes, the dreaded – I tell you, I’m starting to have nightmares about that, guys.
LESLIE: You can see it lifting up the paper and you see that nailhead sort of trying to pop through. Yeah, they’re trying to say hello. (chuckling)
Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do. Tom and I always recommend you can either put another nail directly next to that first nail and hammer it in so that second head is bringing that first head flush. What’s happening is it’s drying out and it’s backing its way out of the wood and then out of the drywall itself. And then there’s a way you can do it with a screw.
TOM: Yeah, you simply back the old nail out and use a drywall screw to put it in because, you know, that will never back out. In fact, a lot of the contractors today don’t use drywall nails anymore because of this very issue. They use the drywall screws.
The important thing for you to know though, Charles, is that this is not a structural problem. This is a very …
LESLIE: It’s more cosmetic.
TOM: More cosmetic. You know, there’s hundreds of nails in those boards and although it seems like a lot are coming out, it doesn’t mean that your house is doing anything unusual. What’s happened is that the wood expands and contracts and then newer wood dries out; it tends to push the nail out. See those nails are coated with glue.
TOM: And the way they’re supposed to work is as you drive them in, the friction of driving them in is supposed to …
LESLIE: Heat them up.
TOM: … loosen the glue and then it’s supposed to get set in place. But the truth is it doesn’t work that way and very often it will back out.
So those are your options: a second nail on top of that one so you cover the heads; or use a drywall screw.
CHARLES: Hey, I’m glad you guys are around so we can – us homeowners ask you questions like this.
TOM: Alright, Charles. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, alright. Our next caller is a podcaster from Virginia. Jeff, how can we help you?
JEFF: I’m a contractor and I have a client of mine who has a 1950s-era house. And they are in a situation where they want to replace the flooring in their basement area. And they’re pretty certain that the flooring down there is asbestos tile.
JEFF: Oh hey, Tom.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, we’re both with you.
JEFF: And they were talking about possibly putting down a laminate tile. And it’s currently carpet on top of the asbestos tile. And I was wondering if there was any concern with pulling up the carpet – creating a situation where the stuff might become airborne – and any – the best way to approach putting down the flooring; whether I should leave the flooring in its existing location – if it’s stuck well to the concrete – or whether I should work on contacting a professional for removing existing asbestos tile.
TOM: Well, it’s good of you to call, Jeff, before you tackle this project for this client. I personally don’t have any concern about asbestos floor tiles. That asbestos is contained inside of a binder. And you know, there’s different types of vinyl binders that’s used in there. But the risk of any kind of exposure issue from that could only happen if it was broken and …
LESLIE: Yeah, if you’re breaking them up and they’re becoming powdery and – that’s when it becomes airborne. Is that carpet glued down to the asbestos? Is it sort of just resting on top?
JEFF: It’s resting on top …
JEFF: … and they’ve got the rubber strips or the carpet strips.
TOM: I would say that probably what I would do in that situation is I would take the carpet up; I’d remove the tackless; you know, try to minimize the damage to the tile. But again, remember, it’s not going to become airborne unless it gets really broken up. And then if it’s relatively in decent shape, I would go ahead and put the underlayment down on top of that and then put the laminate floor over that. The laminate floors today all lock together and if you want to do an extra good job, you could use some good on each piece. And basically, the laminate floor becomes a one-piece unit that floats on top of that old subfloor. And so, once you’re done, all you need to do is trim the edges and that’ll be it. I think that’s probably the best way to handle that. I wouldn’t – I don’t see any reason to remove it. Because you’re just kind of opening up a can of worms.
JEFF: Yeah, I thought so, too. I was a little concerned about creating an airborne situation for either my guys or the people living there.
TOM: And by the way, if you were calling me about siding on the outside and it was an asbestos siding, I would tell you to remove that because I don’t like the fact that a lot of contractors put vinyl siding on top of asbestos and nail through it and therefore …
LESLIE: But Tom’s got a good trick for taking down those asbestos tiles.
TOM: Yeah, create a problem. Yeah, what I generally recommend is taking a nail set and driving the nail through the tile. Because you could actually puncture the two or three nails in each tile then the whole thing pops right out.
JEFF: That being for the siding.
TOM: Yeah, for siding. But as far as the floor, I’d leave it right in place.
TOM: Alright, Jeff?
JEFF: Yeah, that’s kind of the consensus. And I’m just glad to be able to touch base with the experts and I just wanted to – appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and I love your show. I’ve listened to all your archived ones and look forward to future ones.
LESLIE: Thanks, Jeff.
TOM: Well thank you very much, Jeff. Very kind of you to say.
LESLIE: Donald in Virginia, what’s going on at your house?
DONALD: In the spring of the year, I have trouble with several bats that are kind of making their home behind my shutters on a two-level home.
DONALD: So I was hoping maybe somebody might have some solutions or something to offer that might help or retard them from roosting there.
TOM: Well, they’re outside your house? They’re just between the shutter and the wall?
DONALD: Yes, I have shutters that more or less have slats in them. They’re not solid.
LESLIE: Are they decorative or do you actually use the shutters?
DONALD: More or less decorative. Yes.
LESLIE: Because I’m thinking why not use some sort of chicken wire to create a barrier in that space; almost frame out behind that shutter between the house to make it like a cage so that they can’t get in.
TOM: There’s probably a gap between the shutter. And the same thing – you could use chicken wire or even steel wool that you’ve pressed in around the outside of the shutter edge or maybe even some copper or something like that that’s not going to rust and basically fill that gap around the shutter edge. And that will prevent them from being able to get in there.
You know, the other things that folks use is there are these ultrasonic devices, which some people say work and some don’t work. They’re not very expensive. You could probably buy one and plug it in and see what happens.
LESLIE: Even you could use bird netting.
TOM: Yeah or bird netting. Yeah, that would work as well, too.
DONALD: I had wondered something about like the maybe chicken wire or bird netting …
DONALD: … and I wondered if it would make a better [grasp hold] (ph) to roost on. You know, just – they usually come early in the spring and they’re there until, oh, maybe like a month or so gone. I guess the colder weather drives them on.
LESLIE: And if they like your house, they’ll find their way back every year.
DONALD: They seem like they’ve made permanent residence and maybe bringing a couple of cousins or uncles with them. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, are they making much of a mess there or …?
DONALD: Yes, you get bat residue and …
TOM: Yeah, and that stuff can make you really sick. So, yeah.
Well, those are a couple of things you could try. You know, if worse comes to worse, you could call a wildlife exterminator and they could put out some professional products that would probably keep them away permanently.
Alright Donald, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, need help keeping your home improvement New Year’s resolutions? Well, that’s what we’re here for. You can call in your home repair or your home improvement question or even whatever’s on your mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You know how to reach us. 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, is your laundry room a dark, dingy place where you can never find what you’re looking for? The AARP says if your laundry room is organized it’ll work better for you and keep you safe. We’ll give you some tips, next.
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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Alright, we’re talking about that dark, scary place down in the bottom of your home – the basement, where most likely you’ve got your laundry room. Ranch dwellers, you’ve got your laundry room somewhere else but I bet you it could still be cluttered and dark and messy and unorganized.
Well, the AARP has some tips that are going to help you see the light when it comes to that dark laundry room. You want to make sure that your supplies are always within easy reach. Store them in low shelves or wire baskets so you have easy accessibility to everything; so you’re not reaching up too high in case something’s going to fall on you and you’re not bending down to pick up a heavy jug of laundry detergent. You know, with these super price mart places, you end up with this enormous washing bucket of detergent that weighs a ton. So keep it somewhere that’s easy to get to.
And if you’ve got the room, think about using a rolling cart. It’s going to help you sort your clothes and if your space is limited, why not attach a fold-down shelf to the wall so that you can fold your clothes there, even iron on top of there. Just make things easy.
TOM: Yeah, speaking of hardware, you know, some hardware could help. For example, an ironing board hanger. We’ve got one on the wall. We have it – actually keeping it …
LESLIE: I never know how to put the iron on them.
TOM: Oh. Well, you don’t put the iron on it. (chuckling) Put the ironing board on it. See, there’s the problem? (laughing)
LESLIE: (laughing) That’s the problem.
TOM: Yeah, we put it up on the door so when we close the door there’s a little bit of – there’s actually about a six-inch gap behind the door, so it’s perfect. It totally hides it away; keeps the board flat; it’s kind of totally out of the way when we’re not using it. If you might find that it’s more convenient to attach a pull-down ironing board to the wall, you can do that. Then you won’t have to fold and unfold the board every single time which, of course, could be a strain on your back.
LESLIE: Yeah, and not to mention that horrible (screeching) screeching sound when you close that up.
TOM: Oh, you know, I hate that. Why can’t they make an ironing board that doesn’t screech when you open it?
LESLIE: And there is no amount of WD40 that’s going to fix that. It just screeches.
TOM: (chuckling) Exactly.
Well hey, if you want more great tips on how to make your laundry room life a little bit easier, you can log on to the website for the AARP. It’s simply AARP.org/UniversalHome. That’s AARP.org/UniversalHome.
LESLIE: Alright, well if you like our advice, why not think about cataloging our advice and reaching into the Money Pit library and perhaps downloading it to your computer or podcasting it. Well, we like to give you information and we like to give it to you for free, which is just like what we’re going to do if you choose to download our podcast. And you can access the entire library of everything Tom and I have ever said. So if you’re thinking floors, type in floors and you will find it by the topic. Just go to MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Yeah, you know when I want my kids to pick up something, I record that; put that as part of the library so when they say I didn’t say it (chuckling), I can just have them download the podcast. So far it’s not working out so well but I thought I’d give it a shot.
LESLIE: Yeah, like we’ve got 70,000 podcasts per month. (chuckling) None of them are my family’s. Oh wait, one’s mine. (laughing)
TOM: (laughing) Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You could win a 7.2-volt cordless drill from Ryobi. It’s the result of lots of research by the Ryobi design people to create a comfortable and powerful compact drill. It’s got a center handle with plenty of power. It’s got a grip overmold that provides unmatched balance and an extraordinarily comfortable feel in your hand.
LESLIE: Yeah and because of the shape and size of these drills, they’re perfect for homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, crafters and people who are looking for a smaller, a more comfortable tool but still packs a lot of punch power wise. It’s got a lot of user-friendly features. It’s only 30 bucks but it could be yours for free if we pick you out of our lucky callers this hour.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: On our way to Texas now. Steve, what are you working on?
STEVE: I’ve got about a 24-foot span that I’m wanting to take a wall out and was wondering how big a beam do I need to support that much weight. It’s a one-story house built in the 50s and it has a – it’s on a slab. It’s a foundation but it has a subfloor in it. Back then, they put 2x4s kind of into a black tar type of deal …
STEVE: … with plywood over the top of that.
TOM: So, there’s a slab foundation but then there’s wood on top of the floor? Is this wall that you want to take out a bearing wall?
TOM: Then I think you need a big honking beam there. Probably what you’re going to need is a steel I beam. And the specific answer to what size beam that you has to – that you need for that, is going to come from the span tables of a code book. And it’s not something that I can give you verbatim over the phone, but I will tell you that with that level of span, that’s an awfully long span and I can’t imagine that any wood beam or a wood beam with a metal flinch plate that’s like sandwiched in between is going to be strong enough for that.
The other important thing to consider here, Steve, is where that beam is bearing. The ends of that beam – whereas right now the wall may be supported by a continuous footing under that whole space, if now you’re going to point load all of that weight just on the two ends of the beam, then that area has to be strong enough to handle that because the weight’s going to come down the beam, go across, then be distributed down to the columns. So you have to have a substantial foundation to be able to support that.
So the specific answer is going to be determined by consulting the spanning tables in the code books. And if you don’t have one, you can get one at the local building department or you can consult an architect or engineer or even the manufacturers for these beams will be able to tell you what they’re rated for. But I don’t think you’ll be able to do it with a wood beam.
Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That also doesn’t seem very much like a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: No, I don’t think – I definitely don’t think it is. So, good point.
LESLIE: I mean and then what do you do – as you go taking out this load-bearing wall, what do you do to temporarily support that weight before you go ahead and get – to back it all up?
TOM: Well, that’s an excellent question and what you did is you build a temporary wall next to the wall that you’re taking apart. So, let’s say that you have a wall – let’s assume it’s a ranch and it’s going down the middle of the building. Well, you’d build another wall next to the bearing wall and this would temporarily support the weight of whatever’s above that. Then you would disassemble the bearing wall, install the new beam and then once everything is done, then you take out the temporary wall. It’s a very complicated project.
LESLIE: So you definitely have to replace this wall with whatever support system in the exact location because it was made to withstand that weight at that one point.
TOM: Exactly. And you’ve got to do it in the right order. If you mess up, it could be a disaster. And it’s not something that insurance – insurance is not going to cover your screw-ups if you make your own roof collapse. So, it’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project. Get some professional help.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: It’s time for chimney chat with Robert in West Virginia. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: Hello. Yes, I have a chimney and the facing of the bricks on the chimney are spalling off. They – just little bits at a time but it’s been happening over the last year. And I wanted to know if there was any kind of sealer or sealant that I could put on there to stop this from happening.
TOM: Well, couple things come to mind. First of all, Robert, if your bricks are spalling, generally what that means is that you’re getting a lot of water in there. So I would start my inspection on top of the chimney. Assuming it’s a standard brick chimney with a terracotta clay flue liner, then the cement needs to – the chimney cap needs to be inspected and that’s the cement between the flue liner and the edge of the brick. Make sure it doesn’t have any big cracks or broken off chunks of it because it actually leaves a lot of water to get into the brick itself. The next thing to look at is the mortar joints. If the mortar joints are breaking down and deteriorating, that’s going to allow water to get into it.
In terms of a brick sealer, you can use a masonry sealer but it’s critical to use one that’s vapor permeable; one that’s designed to breathe because, otherwise, the water will still get in the bricks because you’re never going to seal it all out. But if it can’t get out, it’s going to freeze and they’re going to spall even worse. What you’re describing is sort of a normal wear and tear pattern on a brick, but it’s aggravated by the volume of water that gets in there. And that’s why you need to start at the top by looking at the chimney cap to make sure it’s intact between the liner and the edge of the chimney.
ROBERT: Yeah, I just had – I just had somebody pour a new chimney cap on there but they said they couldn’t do anything about the bricks spalling.
TOM: Well, if you just poured on there I bet that’s going to slow it down, that’s for sure.
ROBERT: That’s all it’ll do. There’s nothing I can do, then, to seal the water from getting in there.
TOM: You can seal it but, again, it’s got to be a vapor permeable sealer. And also keep in mind that when you put the sealer on the bricks, it’s going to change the color.
ROBERT: OK, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, from crawlers to toddlers, babies are naturally curious. Their little hands are always reaching up where they shouldn’t. Up next, we’re going to get some baby-proofing tips from our good friend Bob Vila.
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: 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: Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your calls, your questions. What are doing? What are you working on? Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about it. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. The Money Pit. Making good homes better.
So Leslie, you know with three of my own kids, I can tell you that children are innately curious. It’s how they learn about the world around them, which is why …
LESLIE: Just like monkeys.
TOM: (laughing) I’m sure the kids will feel really good about that comparison. (laughing) Nice. But you know, that’s why it’s so important to be vigilant when it comes to baby-proofing your house. Because you just can’t rely on what they’re going to do. I mean the things that they learn to do one day, easily those skills totally get surpassed the next day. They could – you know, a fence works great on day one. The next day, they’re right over the top.
LESLIE: Well, it’s true. Because the thing about kids is that one day they’re crawling and then you turn your back for a second and suddenly they’re standing and now they’re whole able to reach all these new levels of dangers and you never know what they’re going to get their hands into.
TOM: Right. So joining us today is our good friend Bob Vila with some great baby-proofing advice.
Hi, Bob. Welcome to the program.
BOB: Thank you. It’s good to be with you again. You know, you’re talking about toddlers there but the time to get ready and to really take care of them is just as they’re getting ready to be born and to come home for the first time.
LESLIE: Well, I always find it so interesting Bob that whenever I get invited to a baby shower and I look at the list of gifts, you know the first thing people buy are all of the cutesy, fun clothing and fun toys. And I’m always the one who shows up with like the baby monitors and the plug covers. (chuckling) I guess it’s because I’m in the home improvement business but I feel like …
BOB: And smoke detectors and all of those good things.
LESLIE: … you know, you have to be practical.
BOB: Yes. No, it’s very important to kid-proof your house when they’re toddlers but it’s also just as important to take into consideration the dangers that are present in many houses for an infant that’s still just, you know, basically in swaddling and in a crib.
TOM: Let’s talk about some of those dangers, kind of from the perspective of that child. Do you start on the bottom? Do you get on your hands and knees and look up and then work from there?
BOB: Oh, just remember that a baby is breathing at an alarmingly faster rate than an adult. The airways are smaller. They just have to – you know, they breathe faster and they breathe more stuff in. And they’re smaller and more susceptible to what they’re breathing. And in many cases, homes are furnished and finished out with manmade products that emit gasses. They outgas things that can be damaging to a child. So when you’re thinking about redoing a room as a nursery, which is one of the projects we’ve just done on the Bob Vila show, you’ve got to think about using natural, friendly kind of products; paints with low volatile organic compounds, low VOC rates. Avoid any kind of manmade paneling that’s going to outgas from the types of glues that are used. You know, use natural fibers like cotton and wool for floor coverings and don’t put wall-to-wall down; put the kind of cover that – you know, small rugs and carpets that can be easily picked up and washed. All these are simple things that you don’t think about but they make a big difference in terms of the actual atmospheric conditions around that crib.
LESLIE: What about even the bedding for – in the crib, for example?
BOB: Well, you know, it – again, it’s – natural is always better. And we featured some natural rubber products on the show that are a little bit more expensive than what you might find, you know, in the marketplace; but again, they make a huge difference in that environment surrounding a little infant, as well as the bedding. I mean there is nothing better than 100 percent pure cotton.
TOM: You know, Bob, it sounds like we’re talking about green construction here and really, the same construction that’s good for the environment is really great for kids.
BOB: Exactly. It’s absolutely true. It’s good for everybody. But getting – you know, getting into the areas when they do start to toddle and crawl, you do have to make sure that you take lots of precautions. I mean we’ve demonstrated not just the types of gates, for example, that can be utilized to close off staircases and parts of houses but you also have to be aware that, you know, doorknobs and windows can be a source of danger; appliances – and by that I mean, you know, stoves and refrigerators and everything. You can – you could buy knob protectors; you can buy doorknob mittens that make it impossible for a little one to really mess around with a door.
And there’s a lot of things that you just pick up and you need to install yourself and so obviously you need to have some tools. And I’m always trying to make sure that people are empowered to be able to do their own installations and not have to call contractors in.
TOM: That’s right. I was on your website today – BobVila.com; it’s B-o-b-V-i-l-a.com – and Bob, you know, you’re talking about windows. And on your website I was reading about the Levolor cellular shades. I really like that product because they don’t have the cords that kids can get tangled up into. They have a little lift on the bottom rail where you can simply move it up and down.
BOB: Yeah, exactly. It’s a simple solution. It’s not something you think about. But the fact is that any kind of dangling cords in the environment of a youngster, a baby around a crib or a toddler, can be a source of danger and tragedy. So, whatever you can do to minimize that is good. Blinds like this work. You also – we’re demonstrating some windows that we’ve installed that are …
LESLIE: Yeah, those new Pella designer series windows.
BOB: Well, the Pellas, yeah.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They’re actually functional and beautiful.
BOB: The ones that have the shades built in between the two layers of glass …
BOB: … so that you can operate them with a magnetic switch kind of thing. But you know, again, you don’t have shades; you don’t have the additional thing. And also shades – it’s not just that they’re dangerous from the point of view of a cord, should it happen, but they also collect more dust and dust is something you want to keep to a minimum.
LESLIE: More airborne particulates.
TOM: We’re talking to Bob Vila, home improvement expert. And Bob’s website is BobVila.com.
Bob, let’s talk about furnishings, wall hangings, shelves, things like that. You know, especially now, moving into the winter, kids are looking to climb and that’s not a place we want them to climb. But if they do sneak up there, how do we secure those items in the house so they don’t get hurt; they don’t fall over on them?
BOB: Yeah, I mean, you know, there’s a lot of common sense involved in what you’re doing in a nursery or a little kid’s room. But you know that they want to climb and so you don’t put anything that would allow them to climb up near a window. You just – you know, if you’re going to have a rocking chair or an easy chair or a sofa in the nursery, you make sure that it’s in a position where it’s not going to allow a toddler to get into – you know, into trouble.
LESLIE: You know, Bob, we know how important it is to control the amount of light that comes in because of early bedtimes and napping, but how important is sound quality and quietness.
BOB: Extremely important. And it works both ways because you also want to contain the noise that the kid might be making.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You mean the screeching.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. Help the parents.
BOB: (overlapping voices) And you know, sometimes the best way to listen in is with a two-way, you know, baby monitoring device. But we demonstrated a number of products that can be used, including sound – you know, sound attenuation products from Owens Corning that are specifically designed so that you can contain the noise both from within and from without. We showed their SOLSERENE ceiling system which is an acoustic ceiling system that stretches a fabric – a textile material – so that it creates a truly beautiful ceiling that you barely are aware of until you’re in the room and then you realize that everything is kind of helping to deaden the sound and make the nursery more cozy.
TOM: Terrific. Bob Vila, home improvement expert, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
BOB: Great to be with you. Continued success.
TOM: For more information, you can log on to Bob’s website at BobVila.com.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Up next, hardwood floors for your basement?
TOM: Not possible.
LESLIE: Well, yes. No, yes. (chuckling) You can do. Well, we’re going to have some tips on how you and your beautiful basement can have wonderful hardwood floors that can even stand up to the dampest conditions. So stick around.
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, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Leslie, I thought I’d offer a helpful travel tip for those that are scurrying about this holiday season.
LESLIE: OK, what is it?
TOM: Caulking guns. You can’t take them on the airplane.
LESLIE: Yeah, no you don’t want to. (chuckling) Not only are they probably too large for your carry-on, but they look a little suspicious. Plus, what are you going to caulk on the plane?
TOM: Well, there’s always things to caulk. Like the talkative guy …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You can glue somebody to the seat.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Like the talkative guy that always sits next to you (laughing) but you really don’t want to talk. (inaudible) adjustments. (laughing)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, but that would mean trying to get him to keep his mouth closed long enough so the caulk would set, which is, you know, a good five, ten minutes.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s our definition of caulk talk. (chuckling)
Well, let’s talk about hardwood floors. We know that they’re a bad idea in a basement; at least the solid hardwoods are because they can warp and twist. But if you want hardwood floors in your basement, you can do it. You can have the same beauty of solid hardwoods in your basement by using its high-tech sister. It’s called engineered hardwood. It’s 100 percent genuine wood. It’s made up of alternating layers of hardwood that provide that dimensional stability that you need if you’re going to use a hardwood in a damp space.
LESLIE: Yeah, and engineered hardwoods – they’re not only strong but they’re darn beautiful and they come with these super tough finishes that will last a very, very, very long time. They’re very durable. If you want some more information on any flooring choices from laminates to vinyls to engineered hardwoods, there’s a great website that has a complete guide to flooring and it’s Armstrong.com. Go to their site. Snoop around. You can even pick a room and then say, hmm, living room and see what it looks like with that flooring. So it’s a really good resource guide.
TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Speaking of hardwoods, you know there are two other options for flooring that can look just like their natural counterparts – be it stone or hardwood or tile – but without the cost of the real stuff. Learn about those options in the next edition of The Money Pit e-newsletter. Our newsletter is free and comes to you every Friday morning into your inbox. Sign up now at MoneyPit.com. While there you can e-mail us your home improvement or home repair question.
LESLIE: Or you’re not in an e-mailing type of mood, you can call in your question right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. And you could win a really great prize. It’s a 7.2-volt cordless drill from the folks at Ryobi. And they’ve done a ton of research by their design team to create a really comfortable, super powerful and compact drill. It’s got a center handle drill. It provides a super grip. It’s got a grip overmold that’s going to give you good balance and make it feel really comfortable in your hands. So no blisters from doing a lot of work.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It could be yours free if we pick your name from the Money Pit hardhat.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Curtis in Indiana, you’re up. What can we do for you?
CURTIS: Hey, I have a quick question for you. I have this problem that – it’s an older home and the people that owned the house informed me – or whatever – they put the furnace upstairs in the house and also the cold air return is upstairs. So more or less, my heat is circulating through the second story of my house and it’s extremely tough to efficiently heat the bottom floor.
TOM: So you have supply ducts on the first floor but you don’t have any return ducts on the first floor. Is that correct?
CURTIS: Right. So of course the heating vents are in the ceilings of the first floor (inaudible).
LESLIE: And you know heat rises.
TOM: Ah, that’s – oh, that’s a really bad design. Heat rises. Whenever you put heating ducts on the ceiling – we used to see that occasionally in a development (ph) near me in the years I spent in the home inspection business. They used to take air conditioning systems and convert them to heating systems, but all the supply ducts were in the ceiling.
LESLIE: Are upstairs.
TOM: So, you’re going to need some redesign of this duct system, Curtis, in order to get this to balance right. Even putting a return on the first floor is not going to help you. When you’re supplying heat at the ceiling, it’s going to stay at the ceiling. So you’re definitely going to need to consult with an HVAC contractor to redesign that system in the least destructive way possible.
LESLIE: What about in the interim getting those duct fans that would sort of help push that air down?
TOM: You know, you could put a duct booster in there but, again, you’re pushing it down from the ceiling and that’s going to be a – you’re pushing against gravity, Curtis. That’s the problem.
CURTIS: So really, what you’re saying pretty much is about the only way that actually solves all this problem is to go ahead and have those ducts rearranged underneath the house and push it through the floor.
TOM: Well, have them – have such additional ducts. You may want to leave the ones that are in place but you certainly are going to want to drop a couple of ducts down a wall somewhere to get some heat coming out lower and then also put in a return duct.
CURTIS: Being this is already winter time and a big project like this probably will not happen this winter, I’m looking for a good way of just to subdue myself for this winter that wouldn’t be real costly. I know, for example, the little electric space heaters don’t work very well and that sort of thing. I was kind of looking for a good idea …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to provide some backup heat, then – and again, this is temporary – I would use an electric baseboard – permanently installed electric baseboard on its own thermostat where you can control the supplemental heat with a thermostat and only turn it on when you need it. The advantage of it is it’s inexpensive to put in. Now, the disadvantage is it’s costly to run. But if you’re using it just as supplemental heat on those cold days, then it’s a good solution.
CURTIS: Hey, that sounds great. I do appreciate your time.
LESLIE: Are you living in a time warp? Does your kitchen scream 1950s? Well, up next we’re going to answer a question about covering the biggest kitchen decorating trend of the 50s – Formica. You know you’ve got it, so stick around.
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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Let us help make your good home better. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or log on to the website at MoneyPit.com. This is where work and fun meet. So, you can call us or you can e-mail us. And let’s jump into that e-mail bag right now.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got one right here from Paul in Rockledge, Florida who writes: ‘We have a glossy Formica laminate on our kitchen doors, edges, et cetera. What are the options for updating at a low cost? We’re probably going to laminate or tile over the countertops. Please help.’
TOM: Well, that’s a good question and you know, it surprises me how many people write us, Leslie, and ask if they can paint …
LESLIE: Oh, don’t paint it.
TOM: … a laminate countertop. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Do not paint it.
TOM: No can do-ski. Not going to work.
LESLIE: There used to be – wasn’t there some sort of like a foil coating that was like heated on with a heat gun to a Formica surface? It has a …
TOM: I think that that’s not for laminate countertops. I think that’s for cabinets. I think that there’s …
LESLIE: Right, because he also has Formica cabinets, he’s saying.
TOM: Yeah well, hmm. You know, if you’ve got laminate, the only thing you can do is relaminate it; which you can do, by the way.
LESLIE: What about – can you iron on a wood veneer?
TOM: You know, that’s a good question. I don’t see why you couldn’t …
LESLIE: As long as you scuff up the laminate surface so that adhesive’s got something to stick on.
TOM: Well, let’s think about this. You could – a lot of wood veneers go on with contact cement.
TOM: So there’s no reason that you couldn’t basically laminate wood veneer on top of a laminate surface. I don’t see any reason you couldn’t do that.
LESLIE: And you can get veneer in any style of wood. I mean if you want ebony, if you want tiger’s wood, you can get it. I mean the prices, of course, are going to vary from pine to like a maple. You know, it’s really going to be different, depending on what you like. But those are options that are out there.
TOM: And that’s essentially what kitchen refacers do. You know, they keep the existing cabinets and put new faces and new doors on them.
You know, I generally only recommend that when you don’t want to make any physical changes to the cabinets.
TOM: Because that’s where refacing can’t really help you out. If you need to add some cabinets or maybe you’re taking out a wall oven and you’ve got to do something with that space, it’s kind of tricky when you’re refacing it. You’re better off going new.
LESLIE: But maybe Paul’s kitchen is kind of kitchy and fun and maybe they have a rooster theme or a vineyard theme. And you want to take interesting pictures from, say, magazines or picture books and then you could decoupage them onto the cabinet doors as well. As long as you put a good sealer over it that makes it durable, it’ll be nice.
TOM: You know, the other things that you can do simply, too, is change all the hardware. You change the hardware on the cabinets, we call that a bling …
LESLIE: Oh my God, it makes it look so different.
TOM: Yeah, bling for your kitchen. It definitely makes a big difference.
LESLIE: So there’s a lot of options for you, Paul. So don’t feel all upset. Those kitchen cabinets, doors, countertops are going to be gorgeous and tiling is a great idea for that counter.
TOM: Well, we’re always helping folks out of sticky situations but there is one time where you really do want a sticky situation. Leslie tells us what that is in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, Tom. Well, we’re talking about wallpaper. And in fact, when dealing with wallpaper, the stickier the better; especially when you’re hanging it, not just when you’re rolling around in it. And your bathtub can be a great tool when tackling a wallpaper project. You can wet prepasted wallpaper in a warm bath that’s going to help really soften up the glue. And a good trick is to double the paper over and rub the adhesive sides together before hanging it. This is going to maximize the glue’s effectiveness. If you’re doing any research on wallpapering and you find out and you come across a word that’s called bookmarking, that’s what they mean. Fold the paper over onto itself so you’ve got the two sticky sides together. That’s just going to make that glue really, really work. Because when you’re hanging wallpaper, sticky is something that you really want. So it’s OK. Find yourself in a sticky situation and enjoy that wallpaper. It’s in again.
TOM: Yeah, just don’t use the contact cement when you’re putting up the wallpaper.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: That would be a big mistake. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh my gosh, don’t do it. It smells really bad.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better.
Well, if you’re a regular listener of the show, you know that we are always encouraging you to make good home improvement investments that are going to pay off. And replacing your windows is definitely one of them. But you don’t want to spend money if you don’t have to. So how do you know when it’s time to start shopping for some new windows? And if you are shopping for some new windows, how do you sort out all of those manufacturer claims? That’s what we’re going to teach you 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.)