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 2 TEXT:
Hi, this is Tom Kraeutler and thanks for listening to the show. Hey, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a cool contest we’re running right now with our friends at Therma-Tru. It’s called the Ugliest Door in America contest and two of our listeners could win a brand new, completely installed entry door worth up to $5,000. Entering is super easy, too, at MyUglyDoor.com. So if your front door, back door or patio door is looking a little worse for wear, log onto MyUglyDoor.com and you can enter to win a beautiful new entry door from Therma-Tru. That’s MyUglyDoor.com.
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: Don’t look now but your home improvement projects just got a little bit easier because we’re here to help. Now, we’re not going to come to your house and pick up the tools and do the job with you (Leslie chuckles), but the next best thing; we’re going to talk you through that project if you pick up the phone right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Think of us as your home improvement coaches, your guides for your home improvement adventure. You know, adventures are fun, they’re exhilarating, they’re exciting and they sometimes have an unexpected result; much like home improvement projects that you tackle yourself but we can help eliminate all of those risks if you call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Speaking of risks, coming up this hour, you know we’re going to talk a little bit about automatic garage door openers because they can be quite dangerous if they’re not properly adjusted. We’re going to tell you what to do to make sure yours doesn’t cause a problem around your house.
LESLIE: Plus while you’re out there tackling all of your home improvement projects you might want to take a look at your home’s siding. You know a little TLC is going to keep your siding in great shape and help you avoid a costly repair. We’re going to tell you what you need to know in just a bit.
TOM: And finally, you know the most important part of your home’s curb appeal is probably the front door; the front entryway. Having a good-looking front entry can increase your home’s value. We’re going to tell you a great way that you can figure out which door is right for you.
LESLIE: Or if your front, back or even your patio door is beyond help, we’ve got a great contest for you. We want you to enter Therma-Tru’s Ugliest Door in America contest at MyUglyDoor.com. We’re going to have all the details coming up.
TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re going to be giving away to one caller today the Sync-It outdoor water station from Ames True Temper. It’s worth 50 bucks.
So Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Heading out to Tennessee to talk with Steve about a lush, green lawn. How can we help?
STEVE: Hi, I just recently moved into a house that was built probably about three months ago. The yard, it was – I guess it was planted because there’s a lot of hay on top where the grass is now finally starting to grow through.
STEVE: But it’s not a nice, dark green; it’s not very thick at all. While my neighbors living across the street; it was built around the same time and they’ve got a beautiful yard and I want theirs so how do I get it? (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: OK. Do you have, you know, sort of a different sun exposure on your yard?
STEVE: No, no. They may have a little bit more shade but really not much. It’s across the board front and back their yard is a nice color and some of it’s exposed completely, which is most of my front yard is exposed completely to the sun.
TOM: Right. Well, and this is a brand new house?
TOM: First lawn ever?
TOM: Yeah. Well, you probably need to fertilize it and considering that it’s a brand new lawn, it’s never been done before, you probably, in this case, are going to want to use an extended feed fertilizer that has a phosphorous in it. If your lawn was established we’d tell you to use a phosphorous-free product because the roots would already sort of dig down deep in the soil and grab some phosphorous out of that.
I would head over to Lowe’s and look at the Sta-Green line. It’s made by the Spectrum people and it’s good stuff and I think it’s probably what you’re going to need to get this thing going.
STEVE: OK. Would you recommend any more seeding or just put in a fertilizer?
TOM: Well, they probably have it seeded enough but it would not hurt to seed it again. But follow the instructions for seeding on the fertilizer package because you’ve got to get the order of events correct.
LESLIE: And I have to tell you, my neighbor did the craziest thing that I swear did not think was going to work because it looked like such a disaster for weeks and weeks. But he seeded and then put the largest amount of peat moss I’ve ever seen across the entire front lawn and then like police barricades so that the kids, neighbors, dogs (Tom laughs), no one would go near it and he watered like crazy those first couple of days.
LESLIE: And now, say fast forward two weeks, that lawn is the most beautiful, green lawn I have ever seen and every time I walk by there I’m like, ‘Man, Kevin, I thought you were nutty.’ But it worked fantastically. So sometimes it takes a little bit of figuring out what the soil composition is. Like Tom said, because it’s a new lawn, you definitely want to add some phosphorous.
STEVE: Gotcha. OK. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We won’t judge. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to help, folks.
Well, according to the folks at Consumer Reports, garage doors – the automatic kind – can be pretty darn dangerous and if you want to make sure that yours is safe you’ve got to follow some simple maintenance steps. We’ll tell you what they are, after this.
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, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win the Sync-It outdoor water station plus a coil of hose to go with it from the folks at Ames True Temper. It’s a package worth 50 bucks. Going to go to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT that we pick at random. It could be you. So pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question right now.
LESLIE: Alright, well what are you working on or maybe you’re picking up the phone to give us a call to get some ideas to figure out what you should be working on this time of year. Well, here’s something that you might want to add to your spring maintenance checklist.
You want to make sure that your garage door is safe and operating safely. It’s really super important to keep your door tracks lubricated and those springs properly adjusted. Next, you want to make sure to test the door’s safety reverse mechanism as specified by your garage door’s manufacturer. Doors that don’t reverse when obstructed are a real danger to pets, children, belongings, anything that’s going to get underneath there and they should be immediately replaced.
TOM: Great advice.
888-666-3974. Call us right now if you’ve got a home improvement question that we can help with.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Mark in Indiana is dealing with a siding issue. What’s going on?
MARK: I have cedar siding on the north side of our old farmhouse. It was stained colonial blue and it’s growing like a moss. It almost looks like green paint.
TOM: And now it looks like colonial green. (Leslie chuckles)
MARK: Well, in parts of it it does.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
MARK: It’s not attractive.
MARK: And before I screwed it up or ruined it (Leslie chuckles) I was curious what I would like to do to it.
TOM: Well, you’re going to need to wash it down and you’re going to need to use a mildicide to do that and one good siding wash product that I like is called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x; available at home centers and hardware stores and so on. You mix it up; you spray it on the moss and let it sit for a little bit and then you can sort of scrub it off. I will warn you though that when you do scrub it off you may find that you’re wearing away the stained finish of the siding, so you may – one problem may lead to another. When you clean that moss off you may have to do some new staining on that side of the house.
MARK: You’ve been very helpful. I thank you very much. We just love your program.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Mark.
LESLIE: Thank you, Mark.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roberta in Minnesota, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
ROBERTA: Well, I have a sanitary sewer and I was just wondering instead of using harsh chemicals to clean it out, like with the tree roots and stuff, what can I use?
TOM: Do you know, Roberta, that you do have tree roots in those pipes?
ROBERTA: Years ago there were.
ROBERTA: I’ve got a maple tree out in the front yard.
TOM: And so do you suspect that there still are or you just want to do something preventatively?
TOM: Well, you don’t want to use chemicals for that either. What you would want to do is snake it out. That’s something that a professional could do for you; like, you know, Roto-Rooter or something of that nature because you can’t put enough chemicals in that pipe to kill those roots, believe me. It’s a mechanical repair. You have to run a snake down there and it grabs the roots and it pulls it out.
Now, if you’re just concerned about whether the pipe is in good shape or not, another thing that could be done is a camera inspection and a lot of these plumbers are fully equipped today to run camera lines down those pipes and they can actually see the inside of it and if it turns out that you need any kind of a repair there is also a way to kind of repair it from the inside out without even digging it up. So the technology has gotten a lot smarter for examining, maintaining and repairing those sewer lines as they go from the house to the street.
ROBERTA: So there’s nothing to put in there to get rid of like the toilet paper and stuff that’s in there.
TOM: No, that would not be something I would recommend. And in fact, if you don’t have a problem with it I wouldn’t mess with it.
ROBERTA: OK, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sandra in Utah possibly has a mold situation. Tell us about what’s going on and what you think is happening.
SANDRA: I looked – it’s a bathroom in my basement and I looked underneath the sink; I was getting some stuff out and I noticed down in the bottom right-hand corner there was some black starting to come up on the backside of the wall.
TOM: There’s a good chance that that’s stachybotrys which is a potentially toxic mold, so what we would recommend that you do is to mix up some bleach-and-water solution and spray it. That will kill the mold and then you could clean it but you need to take respiratory protection so that you don’t breathe in the spores as you’re doing this.
Now, the second thing that you really should do is ventilate that space; and so, if this is a bathroom cabinet that it’s occurring in you might want to put some vents in there. You could use like a louvered style vent or something in a less conspicuous place, perhaps on the side, and try to get some air in there because the combination of everything is allowing this to grow.
SANDRA: Do you think there could be mold underneath it against the wall?
TOM: Well, it’s possible but it sounds like a very small amount right now, so I wouldn’t get too panicked about it. I just wouldn’t let it grow anymore.
SANDRA: Do you only need to spray it once?
TOM: Yeah, saturate it; not too wet, you know, and let it sit for 15, 20 minutes and then you can clean it off.
SANDRA: Alright. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Calling in from Rhode Island and listening in on WPRO we’ve got David. What’s happening at your money pit?
DAVID: I just bought this house off my mother in November.
TOM: I hope you gave her a good price. (chuckles)
DAVID: Yeah. No, I did; I did. You know, she was good to me, too. I got the hometown discount.
DAVID: But the bathtub is, I guess, fiberglass and what happened was it cracked in the middle. So it’s kind of a two-part thing. First of all, is there any kind of epoxy that I could just do like a temporary fix on that? But the bigger thing is I want to do – I want to take the tub right out and I want to put in like a shower; no tub at all.
DAVID: And I was talking to somebody and I got a price of like $5,000. It’s kind of they do it in one day, in-and-out type of thing.
DAVID: And then I was talking – I work on a movie set and I was talking to one of the carpenters and he says I should be looking at Corian; would be better.
TOM: Mm-hmm, yep.
DAVID: It might be the same amount. But is that – I’m just trying to get – is that like the going rate for doing something like that?
TOM: Well, it’s probably a going rate for doing a bathroom remodel. Some of these bathroom retrofit companies do have sort of a one-day approach where there’s a lot of action in one day and gets the job done fairly quickly. You know, $5,000 to remodel a bathroom is probably an average price. I don’t know what type of remodeling you’re talking about doing here and I can’t really tell you if it’s a good price or not just a good price.
As to your earlier question about a way to repair a fiberglass tub, you can repair it; it’s not pretty, but what you do is you can go to an autobody store – like a Pep Boys or something like that – and you can buy fiberglass material and the fiberglass resin and actually repair it …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and do the patch yourself.
TOM: Yeah, repair it the same way you would repair a car body or a boat body. I actually have had to do that to a shower basin once that cracked on me that I wasn’t ready to replace yet and it works great. I mean it really is a smelly job but it does work very, very well. So that will certainly get you through it.
TOM: But in terms of the replacement beyond that, yeah, Corian is a gorgeous material …
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know what’s interesting? Corian is one of those solid surface materials and there’s another company that does something similar called Silestone and they actually, at the builders show this past January, introduced a Silestone shower pan and shower walls …
LESLIE: … which come I forget in which sizes but pretty much standard sizes or can be customized to whatever size you might need and they’re really beautiful; they ‘re very, very durable; they’re scratch-resistant; they’re stain-resistant and it works out really well for the prices. It’s not going to be terribly inexpensive but it’s not going to be overly expensive either and it will be a gorgeous bathroom addition.
DAVID: And that’s the thing because I looked at some of the model pictures and it seemed like a one-size-fit-all type of – I’m not even sure what the material was …
DAVID: … and the carpenter said, ‘Look …’ You know? And that’s the thing. I don’t want to do it fast. I want to do it right and I want it – the stone you’re talking about, that’s really what I wanted; a different kind of look like that with like the full-body shower coming down.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it looks very similar. You can get the Corian or the Silestone in a variety of colorations where it almost looks like a terrazzo where there’s like speckling into it or there’s even some that looks like there’s a mirror speckle into it; almost like a granite. It’s really up to you to find something that works. I think they offer something like 40 different choices from Silestone and Corian has something similar to that; so there’s a lot of options.
DAVID: Yeah, I know. I’ve got to actually find the time to get somebody in and – because I don’t want to do it in a hurry, but my main thing is this is the first time I’ve ever owned a house so it’s all new to me and I didn’t really know – trying to get, you know, like – that’s like the going rate, you’re saying; right in that range; like an average thing. I’m sure I could spend a lot more and a lot less.
TOM: Yeah, you certainly could. David, why don’t you do this? Why don’t you go to a kitchen-and-bath showroom and see if you can work with a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. These folks are certified by the Kitchen and Bath Industry Association and can take a look at your bathroom and give you some ideas as to what’s practical; what kind of price range you’re talking about; how long it would take to get the job done and really get you in a position where you can have a good overview of all of the materials and options that are available. Because as you say, you’re not in a hurry; you just want to do it once, do it right and not have to do it again; just be able to enjoy it.
DAVID: That’s a great tip because I didn’t even know those people existed. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: David, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARY: Hi, we have a toilet that when we flush it it gurgles up in the sink and this odd – well, bad smell comes out.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
MARY: And I don’t know what to do about it.
TOM: Well, it’s a venting problem. The problem is that you don’t have enough air getting into the waste pipe. You see, as you flush the toilet you’re going to have, you know, a couple of gallons of water go down the waste pipe very quickly. That water has to be replaced; that volume has to be replaced by air. And so if your toilet is not vented properly, there’s no way for the air to get back in there, it tries to draw the air from the room by sort of gurgling and that’s the bubbles and the gurgling and the sort of the sucking sound that you hear.
LESLIE: It’s gulping for breath.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. It’s starving for air. And so this is a problem that can be solved by a plumber through the installation of an additional vent. If it’s possible to get the vent up through the roof and out that’s fine but there are other ways to install vents to the inside of the house that have sort of ball valves on them so they let air in but they don’t let smell out. But this is a simple venting issue and that’s going to solve it.
MARY: So would it be just venting that toilet or just venting the sink or both or …?
TOM: It actually could be somewhere in the plumbing line because they’re all connected. As you’ve noticed, you hear this bubbling in different places. It could be vented in one of a number of places but it is a venting issue and that’s what has to be done.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And if your house is perfect except for the front door we’ve got a solution. It’s Therma-Tru’s Ugliest Door in America contest available online right now at MyUglyDoor.com. You could win a $5,000 door makeover. Details coming up.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic; the all-natural, super-strong air freshener available in spray and solid form. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and here’s a novel idea, Tom …
LESLIE: … and I know a lot of people are struggling with homes that are on the market – maybe they’ve been sitting there for a while – and I really think they should look outside. Curb appeal; how many times do we have to talk about it? It sells homes and it truly is the one chance you have to make a first impression on a potential buyer and it can be the one factor that brings that potential buyer inside your home; maybe even makes an offer. And in this housing market you don’t want to scare anyone away with a disaster of a front door.
TOM: That’s right, and an upgraded front entry can actually add thousands of dollars in value to your home but you don’t have to spend nearly that much. Here to tell us more about it is Sarah Tice from Therma-Tru.
TOM: You know, I have to tell you a story. You know, Leslie and I have written a book; it’s coming out in August. It’s called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure and when we had it copy-edited, which is one of the stages, our copy editor apparently had an incident with measuring a door.
LESLIE: (chuckling) She had a lot of door incidents. (Sarah chuckles)
TOM: And she said to us, ‘Why can’t you just tell people exactly how to order a door?’ and the truth is that it’s a fairly complicated process because different manufacturers have different ways of measuring doors. What I like about what you guys have done is you’ve created a door designer tool on your website that makes it super-easy to figure out what size door you need.
SARAH: Yes, I think the key to starting any kind of remodeling project is to have a vision and that is so hard when you’re faced with so many different choices. So Therma-Tru launched our online door designer tool for just that reason. You can take several styles of our doors and try them on before you buy.
LESLIE: Now when you’re looking at this door designer tool, do you have the opportunity to use a background, perhaps, of a home that suits a similar architectural style? Because some doors might not match every type of architecture that a home is created in.
SARAH: Exactly. That’s how we designed it. It’s based on 10 different architectural styles and we give a list of recommended door styles that complement that you can also choose from any product in our product line.
TOM: Now it’s been a difficult real estate year and certainly maintaining the value of your home is of primary importance to a lot of people. It’s on our minds and there are things that you can do. You guys did a survey that I thought was interesting by using something that was similar to, I guess, the images that your designer puts out in that you took identical images of homes and on one home you had the standard door and on the other home you had an upgraded Therma-Tru door and you got some pretty dramatic results when you asked people what they thought that home was worth.
SARAH: That’s right. We found that an upgraded entryway can add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of the home and that is at least four times the return on investment.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not nearly that expensive to put a door in these days.
TOM: Now the doors that are out there, you essentially have wood and you have steel and you have, I guess, aluminum doors. But you guys make a fiberglass door and you were the first folks to introduce me to this door technology and I’ve got to tell you I was pretty impressed by it because with your AccuGrain technology it’s really almost impossible to tell the difference appearance-wise between this and wood.
LESLIE: Yeah, the graining is fantastic.
TOM: Yeah, but you get so many more benefits from it, including the energy efficiency and the storm resistance.
SARAH: Right. The beauty about fiberglass it’s not going to rot, crack, split like wood or dent, rust or corrode like steel and you do; you get that beautiful aesthetic graining if you want the wood-like or the steel look with the smooth surface.
LESLIE: And is there any maintenance as far as finish? Because you know with a wood door and even a steel door you’re either repainting or restaining or some sort of sanding. There’s nothing that you have to do over time with the fiberglass?
SARAH: We just recommend reapplying a polyurethane topcoat every three or four years but that’s it and that – you know, that takes only a few minutes.
TOM: Really just to keep the sheen up.
TOM: Now you guys have a contest going on right now that we’re helping you out with called the Ugliest Door in America and it’s the fourth year you’ve run this contest and it’s a pretty cool idea. You ask folks to send in a photo or a video of their door if they don’t like the way it looks and they could win a pretty major makeover.
SARAH: Yes, we’re giving away two entryway makeovers valued at up to $5,000 and all you have to do, like you said, is upload a few pictures, write a creative essay or shoot a minute of your ugly door and your ugly house and tell us why you deserve to be named the winner.
TOM: And it’s pretty interesting. On your website, MyUglyDoor.com, you’ve got some of the past winners and, actually, Leslie and I were a bit surprised. Those doors weren’t quite as ugly as we expected; although there are a couple …
LESLIE: There was one pretty ugly door. (Sarah and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
SARAH: Some of them you have to get up close but they’re ugly, let me tell you.
LESLIE: I love the one that has the crazy – it’s like it really looks like it came out of some sort of Swiss chalet theme restaurant. (Sarah chuckles) The door itself was like red and blue with like buckles on it and there was some sort of shutter accoutrement on the sides. It was really hideous and the end product – you know, the after – is stunning. So I imagine there you’re going to get that full benefit of perceived value. So it really is truly a benefit to the homeowner.
TOM: It’s a great improvement, installing a brand new front entryway; so if you think you have the ugliest door in America go to MyUglyDoor.com and tell Therma-Tru all about it. You might find yourself the proud new owners of a brand new $5,000 entryway makeover from Therma-Tru.
Sarah, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
SARAH: Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: Alright, everybody. Well, good luck in entering that Ugliest Door in America contest. I hope you guys win; all of you, if that were possible.
Well, another part of your home’s exterior that does need regular attention is the siding. With a little preventative maintenance you can save a lot of money that you could be paying on repairs. We’re going to tell you more all about that, coming up.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Go ahead and pick up your phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Tell us what you’re working on; ask us a question on the air and you could win a great prize. This hour we’re giving a great summertime garden fun prize away. It’s the Sync-It outdoor water station from Ames True Temper. It’s great for gardening or even any outdoor project cleanup. It easily installs over any existing outdoor spigot and turns it completely into a work sink and the winner of this prize is also going to get a coil of hose to go with it. It’s a prize worth 50 bucks but it could be yours for free, so pick up the phone to be in it at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now here’s a project that you might want to tackle this time of year: siding. You know it takes a real beating from the weather and it needs a lot of regular TLC to keep it in good shape and you want to do that because if your house looks good it maintains its value. Here’s what you need to do.
First of all, for starters, give your siding an annual washing or a once-over with a long-handled brush and a mild detergent. You can use a pressure washer or you can do it by hand and the result is that the siding is going to look great; it’s going to protect your house for years to come.
Now, you could can also use that power washer, as I said, but make sure, if you do, you don’t use too strong of a setting because you’ll find out very quickly how soft that siding can be. I’ve seen people blast holes in it. So you want to be gentle with that pressure washer if you do choose to use it. But when you’re done your siding’s going to be looking great and it’ll keep your house looking good for at least another year.
Pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Earl out in Los Angeles, California, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
EARL: OK, I have this one specific ceramic tile that everyone stands on when I shave or when my wife is in front of the counter and the grout in this one tile is constantly cracking around all four squares. And I’ve installed it maybe, over the last seven – maybe the last several years maybe four times.
EARL: And eventually it cracks all the time and it’s driving me up the wall.
TOM: Well, the problem is that there’s movement in that floor. What’s the floor made out of under the tile?
EARL: It’s a concrete base.
TOM: Is it a concrete slab?
EARL: Yes, it is.
TOM: But this is not on top of a wood floor?
EARL: It’s not on top of a wood floor. It’s upstairs. It was built in 1988 (ph) and I know the upstairs was concrete.
TOM: OK, if it’s upstairs then obviously – unless your second floor is constructed of concrete, I think what you’re referring to is a mud floor but underneath that there’s some sort of a wood structure. Generally when you get cracking around a grout line it’s because the floor is weak and there’s some flex, some bend; especially in an area where everyone’s standing all the times you’re always going to have a lot of pressure in that area. The tile is obviously loosening up; that’s why the grout joints are cracking.
One of the things that you could try is replacing the sand grout with an epoxy grout but that would require regrouting the entire space. But if the floor is not solid enough, even if it appears to have a mud floor, the tile is going to move because they don’t bend. Right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and the epoxy grout; the good thing about that – even though it’s a big undertaking to use a grout saw and get rid of all the existing grout – is that with movement the epoxy grout is going to sort of bend and go with all of that movement, so you’re not going to get that cracking at all anymore.
TOM: And also it’s not susceptible to staining at all. It’s a grout that’s a little harder to install but it doesn’t stain whatsoever.
EARL: Oh, that’s good to know.
TOM: Earl, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Talking to Janine in Pennsylvania. What’s happening at your money pit?
JANINE: Hi. Yeah, we’re in the middle of redoing our bathroom and actually it’s an investment house and the bathtub is really ugly, Robin-egg blue.
TOM: OK. (Janine chuckles)
LESLIE: Hey, I like that color.
JANINE: It’s nice but not for bathtubs. (chuckles) And not this decade (INAUDIBLE). (Leslie chuckles) We would like to know of a product to cover that.
TOM: Well, you can – you can recoat your bathtub. You can refinish the porcelain on it. But what I’ve found was that most of the products that are commercially available for that, unless you’re taking the tub out and having it completely reglazed, the do-it-yourself products are not that durable.
LESLIE: They look good for patching. But in a big situation it doesn’t really stay as nicely; it doesn’t look as smooth. I mean unless you are like a master applicator of this stuff it really needs to be done by a pro.
TOM: You might be better off trying to decorate around it, you know what I mean? Keeping the blue and changing the colors.
JANINE: (overlapping voices) Oh, it’s bad though. (chuckling)
TOM: That bad, huh?
JANINE: It’s bad.
TOM: Well, you know, replacing your bathroom’s always a good investment. It gives you good resale value. (chuckling) So that might be your next choice.
JANINE: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Janine. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
888-666-3974 is our telephone number or you could log onto MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question. If you’re one of the folks that’s dealing with a dingy deck you want to stick around because that’s what we’re going to talk about when we answer an e-mail question, next.
ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help you save time and money while preserving your home’s exterior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot. 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.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question; call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma or go to MoneyPit.com and send us an e-mail question. MoneyPit.com is a one-stop resource for information, product recommendations and resources. You could even search everything we’ve ever written about home improvement. It’s all there for free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re there click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and shoot us an e-mail with your home improvement question if you’re feeling a little shy to pick up the phone. And we jump into our e-mail bag every hour and we’ve got one here from Gail in Michigan who writes: ‘We’re trying to get our deck spruced up for the summer but the wood is dirty and full of mildew. Can you tell me how to clean it?’
Well, there’s a couple of ways. If you want to use a product there are a variety of them on the market – Flood makes one called DEKSWOOD – but head to any home center and you’ll find a deck-cleaning product available. And you want to go ahead and wet down the deck then apply the cleanser in the method that the manufacturer is recommending; let it sit on the surface, do it’s job; then lightly, with a pressure washer – not too aggressively because you don’t want the fibers on the deck, on the wood itself, to stand up and become more splintery and blistery – wash all of that product off and you should get good results. If you find you have some areas where you’re getting some resistance from mold or mildew, a little bleach and water with a stiff bristle brush and some elbow grease should get rid of that right away.
TOM: Alright, we’ve got another e-mail here from Jim in Valley Cottage, New York. Jim says: ‘We would like to improve the look of regular concrete steps. We found a system that uses either a stamped overlay or a stenciled finish. Do you know anything about the durability of this type of work?’
Well Jim, there are lots of things that you can do with concrete steps and concrete patios to change their finish. Now Leslie, you’ve had quite a bit of experience with stenciling over patios. You can actually create a painted rug. So I imagine if you can do that on a slab you could certainly do something very similar on concrete steps.
LESLIE: Absolutely. The trick, Jim, is to use products that are made specifically for concrete and prep the concrete very well. Clean it; get it nice and free of any dirt and debris, then make sure it’s super dry before you apply anything.
TOM: Hey, how’d you like to create an outdoor space that’s really an extension of the space inside your home? You can let your indoor accessories be the inspiration for setting that mood and to prove it, Leslie has got these tips in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, well with all this beautiful, warm, seasonal weather that we’ve been experiencing and those lovely summer nights to come, you might be thinking about dining outside alfresco. Well, when you do that, think about adding some romantic lighting to really help you set the mood outdoors. You can create a candle chandelier or buy one at your favorite hobby shop, craft store, home decorating center and then hang it above your dining table. This is going to create the perfect outdoor setting. Or if you don’t feel like being crafty or using some candlelight, you can bring other indoor d