- Your house is your biggest investment – but how much, exactly, should you set aside for the cost of home maintenance? We share a simple formula to help you determine what that is.
- Floors need to handle wear and tear and be easy to clean. But when you have pets, that durability raises to a whole new level! We’ll share what you need to know to choose pet friendly floors that can handle that kind of traffic.
- Painting the exterior of your home is one of the most important types of home maintenance. And while many homeowners choose to hire a painting contractor, new technology in paint sprayers makes this one project you may be able to tackle yourself.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Joe from Iowa isn’t happy with his deck and asks if it should be repaired or replaced with composite decking? We walk him through the pros and cons.
- Linda from Florida needs a really tough paint for the floor of an airport hangar! We share options for concrete finish that can take the punishment.
- Don in Illinois needs help fixing a sinking foundation in his very old farmhouse.
- Bonnie in Pennsylvania has a sagging driveway to repair and wants to know how to fill in the low spots or if she needs to tear it out and start again.
- Darren from Virginia want to save water by routing rainwater from a barrel to help fill his toilet.
- Kay in Arkansas wants to know how to make a plain masonry wall look more appealing.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com.
So, hey, DIYers. What are you working on? Maybe you’re not a DIYer. Maybe you need some help getting a project done. Maybe you want to hire a pro. But I bet there’s a project on your to-do list or one that you dream of getting done that you need just a little help to get started with. Well, that’s why we are here. We are your coaches, we are your cheerleaders. We’re here to help you get that project done, get that project started, kind of solve a problem for you if you’re in the middle of it.
But the first thing you need to do is call us because this is a participation sport. You’ve got to pick up the phone, call us with your questions or post them at MoneyPit.com. Or post them to our social-media pages, because we are here to help you get it done.
Coming up on today’s show, your house is obviously your biggest investment, so it makes sense to take care of it. But here’s a question: how much exactly should you set aside for maintenance? There happens to be a simple formula that we will give you to help determine what that number is. So we’re going to share that info, just ahead, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And the floors in our homes need to handle wear and tear, they’ve got to be easy to clean and they need to not easily be damaged by the day-to-day activity of home life. But when you’ve got pets, that durability raises to a whole new level. So we’re going to share what you need to know to choose floors that can handle that kind of traffic.
TOM: And painting your house is one of the most important types of home maintenance. And while many homeowners will choose to hire a pro for this, with a few tips you can get this project done yourself. We’re going to walk you through that, in a bit.
LESLIE: And we’re here to help you create your best home ever. So whether that’s a quick fix or kind of a big project, we can help you save time, money and hassles. So give us a call so we can help you get that job done right the first time.
TOM: The number here is 888-666-3974, which happens to spell 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joe in Iowa wants to talk decking. How can we help you?
JOE: Well, I’ve got a small problem with my decks. They’re pressure-treated lumber, about 18-year-old decks. One faces north and one faces south. And I watched a neighbor – they’re getting – both are getting bad. And I watched a neighbor use one of those products where you paint it on and it’s supposed to renew or restore your deck. I watched them pressure-wash it twice and dry it and buy the special applicators with two coats. Over the winter, one winter, it started peeling off.
TOM: Yeah. I heard that time and time again. It looks good in the store but it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick. And you get this really thick coat of – I think they call it a “restorer.” It just peels right off. It’s like the worst peeling paint project you’ve ever seen.
So, Joe, have you thought about doing sort of a deck makeover where perhaps you keep the structure but you replace the deck boards with composite or something like that?
JOE: That’s what I was wondering. I’ve seen where they’ve got these thinner composites you just put over the top of your boards, where they don’t stand up, or just take all the deck boards off and put all new composite boards on.
TOM: First thing I would do is I would do a thorough inspection of the structure, because we don’t want you to put – do anything to this if it’s not structurally sound. It’s got to be well attached to the house. The floor joists have to be solid without major cracks or shifting, properly reinforced, properly braced. You know, if this thing is rock-solid and the structure is good, then you could proceed. I would remove the decking boards because there’s no structural integrity to the decking boards. I would pull the decking boards off and I would put simply composite right on top of that.
Lots of great choices out there in composite. You can take a look at the composite products made by Veranda at The Home Depot, for example. Really good stuff. Goes on very easily. And once that’s down, you’ll never have to worry about a split, a crack or picking up a paintbrush again.
JOE: Or getting a splinter in your foot when you go out to check the grill.
TOM: Nope. That’s right. Not at all. Yeah. And they have some composite components for the railing system, as well, if you want to go that far.
JOE: That’s what I was wondering: what’d be the best line to go with.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a lot of choices out there but I – it’s kind of personal preference but I’ve worked with the Veranda products, which are made by some of the same manufacturers that make the more name brands. And they work great. So take a look at those and go from there.
JOE: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Linda on the line calling in from Florida. How can we help you today?
LINDA: I have a cement floor that was originally stained. And then it was painted over with, supposedly, a really good stuff. And now, not doing well. And we want to take care of it but we don’t want to have to remove all that’s there. We just want to know if you have something we could put over it that will – it has heavy machinery in it and there’s gas and oil and all that sort of stuff there.
TOM: So this is where? In the garage?
LINDA: Actually it’s in a hangar.
TOM: Oh, it’s in a hangar? Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah. So, usually, the best kind of floor for an industrial location like that is epoxy paint. And the way epoxy paint works is it’s a two-part paint. So when you purchase it, it probably comes in larger quantities, depending on how many square feet you want to apply. But typically, for a house, it would come in a gallon-size container. Except that when you open the gallon up, it’s only filled up about three-quarters of the way because you also get a quart of hardener. And the idea is you mix the two together. And then the chemical reaction is what gives you the durability and the drying of that epoxy surface.
Now, because it was stained I’m not as concerned. Because it was painted, you will need to at least get off any loose paint material that’s there now. Because if you put good paint over bad paint, you’re still going to have flaking. Because the bad paint acts kind of as the Teflon there and it won’t let the new paint get into the floor itself. So you are going to have to pressure-wash that floor, you’re going to have to abrade that floor. You’ve got to get as much of that old paint off as you can so that you have a good surface.
But I think the solution is epoxy paint. And they also have sort of a coloring fleck that can be added to that paint that gives it kind of a texture and helps sort of hide the dirt. So if you’re looking for a reasonably easy, inexpensive way to give that floor a whole new look and new life, I would recommend epoxy paint.
LINDA: Well, thank you so much. I enjoy listening to you.
TOM: Well, thank you, Linda. We appreciate the call.
LESLIE: Hey, we’ve got a great set of products to give away, this hour, from The Original Super Glue Corporation and that includes Total Tape.
Now, Total Tape, it’s super strong – I mean like a construction adhesive – but it’s in the form of a tape. And you can use it on all types of materials and in all weather conditions. Super easy, clean results. You’re going to love it.
Don in Illinois is on the line with a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?
DON: Yes. I’ve got an old farmhouse. They started building it back in the 1800s and the foundation is red brick on a crawlspace. And it’s sinking in one area real bad. And I had a guy tell me that I – because I can’t dig a footing tier because there’s an old system back here, also. He said that I could pour a large pad, go underneath the house and come out and make it like a sidewalk along the edge of the house and then pour – actually pour – the wall up as high as I could and then possibly either put, as a last row, a block in. Is that possible to do something like that?
TOM: Maybe, maybe not. You’re talking about a major structural piece of work here, Don. And the problem with this is – I’m going to presume you’re not a licensed structural engineer. If you start doing this kind of work on your own and then sometime in the future you want to sell this house and you’ve not had the right kind of professionals involved in this kind of a major repair, that’s going to be a huge red flag. That could make it very difficult for you to sell the house.
I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector, Don. And when I saw houses like this that had these kind of issues, I always recommended that the homeowner spend a little bit of money to have an engineer look at it and design a specific repair for that situation. Because this way, when you go to sell the house and if it becomes an issue, you can show that you had a professional review it and tell you exactly what to do and then you took action on that. And you can even have them come back and sort of certify that it was done right. Then you end up having sort of a pedigree on the quality of that repair, because this is not something to do yourself and get wrong. You could make it worse and you can devalue your house in a very major way.
DON: That’s what I was kind of wondering. It sounded kind of farfetched to me, in a way and I was just like, “Well, I’ve been listening to you guys. I’m going to give it a shot, give you a call and see what you guys have got to say.”
TOM: Yeah. We’re glad you did and that will get you on the road to recovery, OK?
DON: OK. I know a couple engineers. I’ll see if I can get one out here. I appreciate the information.
TOM: Well, hey, guys, if you love pets like we do, we’re in the last week now of the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest and it is pawsented (ph) by LL Flooring.
LESLIE: To enter, all you’ve got to do is post a picture of your pet and write a short description. And then you share your entry and then invite your friends to vote. Now, the top three vote-getters are going to receive a $1,000 gift card from LL Flooring, as well as a $50 gift card from Chewy. And you can choose from any of LL Flooring’s beautiful styles, including scratch-resistant flooring, even water-resistant laminate, waterproof tile or waterproof vinyl.
TOM: Enter today at MoneyPit.com/Contest. That’s the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest – the last week – at MoneyPit.com/Contest.
LESLIE: Bonnie in Pennsylvania is on the line with a dippy driveway. Tell us what’s going on.
BONNIE: Well, our driveway was asphalt originally and it’s probably 30, 40 years ago. And there really isn’t much left to it now. But it – most of it is fine. It stays solid. But there’s one part – two parts, actually, have great, big dips in them so you kind of go down in. And the water collects in there. So I was wondering what we could fill that in with. It’s not left the driveway. It’s kind of non-existent now but it’s not a …
TOM: Well, at least you have a speed bump built into your driveway, you know?
TOM: Probably safer that way.
TOM: If you’ve got a 30- or 40-year-old driveway, that driveway doesn’t really owe you any money. You can patch it. You can have it professionally patched with more asphalt material. But my concern is that whatever’s causing that dip is an underlying problem and it’s just going to reform over and over again. Once you start to get a dip, of course, the water gets in there and it sort of exacerbates it.
But I think your options are to topcoat that driveway, which you could do with more asphalt material. It’s a professional project; it’s not one you can do yourself. Or if you want to go ahead and invest the time and the money right now, you could just tear it out and build it again. When it gets to be that age, it really does have to be replaced. If you think about it, roads have to be replaced far more frequently than that. But if you’ve got a 30- or 40-year-old driveway, it’s probably reached the end of a normal life cycle and it’s time for it to be torn out and completely replaced, not topcoated. But you could buy yourself some time by doing the topcoat application.
BONNIE: Could you just fill it in with stone or something for now or no?
TOM: No, because it’s just going to fall out. It’s not really a do-it-yourself project. You have to put more asphalt mixed with stone, under pressure, rolled over it. But my concern about recoating a driveway that’s that old is it’s just not going to last that long.
BONNIE: Yeah. There’s nothing much left to recoat it.
TOM: Right. Yeah. So it’s not worth it, OK, Bonnie?
BONNIE: OK, thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re tightening your belt, you might be thinking about slashing you home maintenance budget. But that could be a very expensive mistake, because it’s not a good idea to slack off on taking care of your house. But the question is: how much should you spend? We’re going to share a simple trick for planning that budget, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: Alright. First, let’s talk about a realistic budget. Now, for most homes, it’s one percent of the home’s value. So if you’ve got a home that’s worth, say, $250,000, you should budget $2,500 for maintenance.
Now, the first step: you’ve got to break it up into its smallest pieces. And one idea is to make three lists. You’ve got to have must to-dos, should to-dos, and the would like to-dos.
TOM: Yeah. My problem is that my would like to-dos list is really, really long.
LESLIE: I know, right? There’s so much that we’d all like to do.
TOM: Well, some jobs, you’ll need a pro to tackle while others you could definitely do yourself. So, for example, you might need a pro for heating-and-cooling-system maintenance or a plumber to fix a leak or an electrician to take care of things that don’t work.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also important to focus on the exterior of the house, not only for curb appeal but also to protect the structural elements and the energy efficiency. You need to immediately address any water-related home maintenance issues, like leaking windows or doors, clogged gutters or grading that’s going to keep the water near the structure. And again, some of this you can do yourselves but all in, a one-percent budget should cover it.
TOM: Now, for bigger repairs like, say, replacing your heating or air-conditioning system, you want to keep track of the unit’s age. Because the older it gets, the more likely you’re going to need to replace it.
Just make sure you keep up that one-percent rule for maintenance and repair. And if there’s any left, carry over that balance until the next year.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Darren in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DARREN: Yes. I’m trying to convert my toilet from regular water in the house to a rain – 265-gallon rain barrel outside. So, piping it in underneath my house I had the CPVC, the smaller stuff. So what I was wondering is: do I have to filter that water? And if I pump it in there, what is the max PSI that I should use?
TOM: Are you putting a pump on it?
DARREN: I’m going to have a solar pump on it.
TOM: Alright. So, first of all, no, you don’t have to filter toilet water because it’s wastewater. It’s gray water. So it can go straight in.
Secondly, how much pressure do you need? Well, I guess that’s really going to depend on the toilet but I would think most water pressure in a house is going to be anywhere between 50 and 70 pounds. So that’s probably what your toilet’s used to working with.
And thirdly, you want to make sure – I know it’s – I mean it’s a great thing you’re doing trying to use rainwater for all this but let’s not forget the obvious: make sure your toilet itself is efficient. Toilets today can use as little as about 1.3 gallons of water per flush. So if you’d have an older toilet, you might want to upgrade it so you’d need even less water for the flushing mechanism.
DARREN: Alright. Well, that’s something to think about, also.
TOM: What other green upgrades are you making to the house?
DARREN: This actually all started with – I put in a drinking system for my pigs.
TOM: OK. Oh, you’ve got a farm there?
DARREN: I have a farm. I have a small farm in Damascus, Virginia and we piped, in the stalls, drinking nipples for the pigs because they kept spilling all their water. So now, they are totally self-sufficient. They have a solar-powered pump at 40 PSI going to these nipples and it’s coming off of their roof into a rain barrel that feeds it.
TOM: Wow. So this is a natural extension of that? And if it’s good enough for the pigs, I guess it’s going to be good enough for your home plumbing system, as well.
DARREN: Yeah, yeah. I definitely want to try to do as much as I can with Mother Nature before I have to depend on somebody else.
TOM: Alright. Well, it makes a lot of sense.
Darren, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kay in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help changing a wall surface.
What’s going on, Kay?
KAY: Well, it is a sturdy home. Cinder block. Probably just that thick but it has the brick on the outside. But the inside, I would just like something a little more pleasant to look at.
TOM: OK. That makes sense. So, are we talking about a basement here?
KAY: Nope. This is an above-ground. It is a cabin on the lake property.
TOM: So you need a paint that can cover the masonry-block walls.
KAY: Well, a paint or a stucco or something that gives it a different texture than a cinder-block look.
TOM: Kay, the process of coating the interior walls isn’t as much stucco as it is plastering. So what has to happen is that wall surface has to be covered with a layer of plaster, much in the same way they used to build plaster walls many, many years ago in, say, the 30s or the 40s. In fact, in the late 40s, they used to plaster right over drywall and that was one of the best wall constructions ever. So those are the options that you have to choose from.
Doing the plaster is probably not the job you want to do as your first DIY project. But if you work with a plastering company – somebody who does this every day – they would have the skills to make the plaster look nice and smooth and have an attractive surface without really taking up much space, in terms of it getting too thick.
KAY: Right, right. So that’s strange. I have plaster walls on my house at home.
TOM: Oh, well, maybe they’re going to follow you to the new house.
KAY: Yeah. OK.
TOM: Kay, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the floors in our home need to be both tough and beautiful, they need to handle wear and tear, they’ve got to be easy to clean and not easily damaged by the day-to-day activity of home life. But when you’ve got pets, that durability raises to a whole new level.
TOM: That’s right. Between spills and splashes and muddy paw prints and more, pets can do a number to our floors. And that’s why you need to choose floors that can handle that kind of traffic.
Don Tuttle of LL Flooring is a guy that’s been guiding consumers to the right products for years and joins us now with tips.
DON: Thanks, Tom and Leslie. I appreciate being on with you today.
TOM: So, you’re the category manager for both vinyl and tile at LL Flooring. Tell me, what goes into creating a new product that’s truly pet-friendly? When you’re sort of at the drawing board, you’re starting fresh. What do you consider and how do you get there?
DON: Well, first, it’s good that I have pets. I have a big dog, I have a cat. And so I know what can happen with scratches and with stains. So I’m always thinking about – what do we need to add to this floor to make sure the durability is going to last if you have a Saint Bernard or a cat, that maybe is aged, like I did? And there’s always risk of staining from that circumstance.
So we look carefully at what the surface layer is going to be, because you can – that varies a great deal across floors. And we look at how the floor protects against stain and water and ensure that we provide only the best of both.
LESLIE: So I think there can be some confusion, because you look at things – I know this always happens when I go buy the kids a raincoat. If something says water-resistant and something says waterproof, I never know which one is the better one. So how do you determine your needs when it comes to flooring and pets?
DON: Yeah, that’s a great question, Leslie. One we get a lot.
And the difference, really, between waterproof and water-resistance in a floor is time. You can spill water on a hardwood floor as long as you clean it up right away. But floors that are water-resistant buy you some additional time. And then a waterproof floor – even better for times where maybe you’re away for the weekend and can’t get the spill cleaned up. It’s great for homes with kids, pets or as I often say, it’s great for homes where people live.
TOM: Right. Exactly.
Now, same question but what about scratch-resistance? How are we getting the durability on the surface? You’ve got the – the flooring looks great, it’s beautiful, it comes in hundreds of different styles and colors. But that last surface is what stands between the pet and floor. So how do you get that level of scratch-resistance to it?
DON: So, in tile – which is really the best floor for almost everything, right? It’s intrinsically hard, it’s very difficult to stain and scratch. So that just comes as a natural byproduct of stone tile.
In vinyl and laminate, the other waterproof and water-resistant categories, there’s a surface that’s put on. And usually, it’s a wear layer followed by a coating of some sort that makes it super scratchproof.
And there are a couple different measurements out there you’ll see that will tell you the scratch-resistance of a floor. We measure them all and we put them right there under the floors, in our store, so you can look at the tag and tell what you’re going to get.
But yeah, I was down at the factory for a new line we have coming out, Americana, and I watched this ultraviolet coating get put on that you can’t do in your home. You can only do that in a factory setting, so a prefinished floor is the only way to get that.
TOM: Yeah. As one of the tests – I think I remember it – it’s called the “Taber abrasion test” where they sort of spin – it’s almost like a sanding disk into it to see how many rotations it takes before it breaks through.
DON: Yeah. Now, Tom, you’ll get me geeked on this.
So, you know, the Taber test is – we replace the sandpaper every so many cycles.
DON: And a number of cycles that makes it through – and you can visualize this. And it’s thousands, by the way.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
DON: For a good floor, it’s thousands of cycles. So it takes a long time to test. The longer the better.
TOM: Yeah. Well, just imagine – in my house, since I’m a home improver, I can see one of my kids picking up a piece of sandpaper and scratching the floor to see how well it works. But if it was one of your floors, they wouldn’t get too far because of a test like that.
Alright. So, you mentioned Americana. That’s a new line that you have coming out that is both kid- and pet-friendly. Tell me about that. Is it – what type of floor is it?
DON: Yeah. It’s a vinyl floor and yeah, it’s waterproof. In other words, you can take a plank of this floor and put it in your pool and take it out 24 hours later and you could still install it. It doesn’t swell with water. So that’s really what makes a waterproof plank floor: it can withstand water over time.
This group of floors, we really went out looking for something. A, we wanted something from America, right? So we’re buying it from a plant, the one I was just at, down in Georgia. And we’re really excited about that because so much vinyl flooring comes from overseas. And we wanted to get a good, broad range of colors and styles so that we can – if someone wants a floor that’s from here and they have a certain décor they’re looking for, we’re going to cover the spectrum with eight floors to start in that collection. But we’re going to grow it from there over time.
TOM: Now, this is part of the CoreLuxe line, correct?
DON: That’s right. CoreLuxe brand of vinyl flooring.
TOM: Yeah. I want to give you some cred on that, because I chose the CoreLuxe for a floor for my mom’s house. And first of all, it’s very affordable. It looked like an aged sort of barn kind of floor. And we’ve had it in for now well over a year. And with chairs dragging back and forth – like you might scuff your chair getting in and out of the kitchen table when you’re trying to move your chair up – it shows no wear at all. It’s really amazing.
And I was at Mom’s just last week and she had dropped a bottle of water on it and she was very upset about it. I said, “Ma, don’t worry about it. No problem. You can’t kill this stuff.” I mean truly, it has no effect whatsoever. So it’s a really durable and good-looking product, so well done on that.
DON: Yeah. Thank you for making the purchase, first of all, Tom. And yeah, it sounds like there’s a couple floors that sound like the one you picked. Urban Loft Ash is a likely candidate. And we get great reviews on that on our website. Customers just seem to love it.
LESLIE: You know, another point I think that people really struggle with when they’re making a big decision, like a flooring surface – that they kind of struggle with how things are going to look in their home. So how is it that LL Flooring is helping homeowners sort of visualize how things might look once it’s installed in their place?
DON: Yeah, we have this amazing tool on our website and we’re really excited about it. We call it “Picture It.” And literally, you take a picture of your room that you’re going to put a floor in – you may already have a picture on your computer – and go to our website on your phone or on your computer. You easily upload it. It’s just a button you press. You upload that photo and then you can take a test drive of every floor in our over 500-floor assortment and see what it’ll look like in your room.
So it’s not like the old days where you had to make that expensive purchase and get it home to find out whether you like it or not. You’ll know. You’ll have a great preview. We really like to call it the “test drive for your floor.”
TOM: Yeah, that makes it so much easier. And also, it makes it easier to be confident about your floor purchase. You’re not just making the decision based on one small sample; you can really see what it’s going to look like in the entire floor.
Now, if you don’t want to do your own installation, I know you have a lot of resources to help DIYers. And these products, many of them are not difficult to install. But if you need a pro, can LL Flooring connect folks with pros to get the job done?
DON: Absolutely. We can arrange installation with our vetted partners. And as a bonus, we can finance the whole thing on an LL Flooring card to spread out that project over time. Usually, it’s difficult to get your installation financed from most other retailers. But because we have a unique relationship with our installation teams, we put the whole thing on the card and you can spread it depending on what the financing offer of the day is. And we have them all the time.
That’s Don Tuttle from LL Flooring. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
And if you’d like more information on the pet-friendly products at LL Flooring, log onto LLFlooring.com. That’s LLFlooring.com.
DON: Thank you, Tom and Leslie. It’s been a pleasure.
TOM: Well, painting the exterior home is one of the most important types of home maintenance. And while many homeowners are going to hire a painting contractor, this is one project you might be able to tackle yourself. We’ll walk you through the key steps in this painting project, presented by the Wagner Control Pro High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayers.
LESLIE: Now, there are really only four key steps to successful exterior painting and you’ve got to keep these tips in mind. And if you do so, you’re going to get a great-looking exterior paint job that’s going to last for years.
So, first up, we’re talking about very careful surface prep. Now, a lot of times, inexperienced painters, they just can’t wait to begin applying the paint. But a pro knows that it’s what you do before you put on that paint that can spell success or failure when it comes to exterior home painting.
First of all, you’ve got to make sure that the surface is clean and free of dirt and chalk. You want to remove any loose or flaking or peeling paint by scraping, wire brushing, sanding, whatever it is. Maybe even a pressure washer. And if you see any bare wood, you need to make sure to spot-prime those areas.
TOM: And next, this is a tip which is going to save you a whole lot of heartache: buy good-quality paint. Be willing to pay for the best paint because you cannot afford to cut corners here, because good paint goes on easier and it lasts longer. And think about it: since most of this project is labor – it’s very labor-intensive – you sure don’t want to have to do it again for a very long time. And if you buy good paint, it’s going to get you there.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you also need to make sure that you use good-quality brushes and good-quality tools. Now, the best tools and accessories not only help you apply a thicker, more uniform coat of paint to the exterior of your home but they’re also going to make your work easier.
So you want to choose well-balanced brushes with tightly-packed bristles that feel springy when you run an open hand across them. And you want to invest in a good paint sprayer. Not only is it going to save you a bunch of time but it’s just easier to get into all the nooks and crannies when you spray the paint. Plus, if you use a paint sprayer, like the Wagner Control Pro, you’re going to find that you get great coverage. And it’s really easy to clean when the job is done, so you’ll be good to go for the next project.
TOM: Yup. And lastly, paint in the right weather conditions. Exterior painting is not a foul-weather sport. In fact, if you brave bad weather, you might actually compromise the quality and the long-term performance, in terms of how long that exterior paint is going to last. So you want to make sure you paint in moderate weather when temperatures are no warmer than about 85 degrees and with not very much wind. Otherwise, you may get a lot of paint back in your face.
These conditions are going to permit your paint to form a very durable and protective film that will last for years. If it’s too hot, basically paint doesn’t flow. It dries too fast. And so you don’t get that smooth finish that everyone loves to have.
LESLIE: Well, that’s today’s Painting Project Tip presented by Wagner Control Pro High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayers. These sprayers produce up to 55-percent less overspray, which makes it easy for homeowners to transform big projects, like home exteriors, decks, fencing and more.
TOM: The Wagner Control Pro 130 is available at all major retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Menards and Amazon. Learn more at WagnerSprayTech.com.
LESLIE: Jen reached out and says, “I have to recaulk the tub a couple of times a year, maybe three times. I clean out the old caulk before I caulk again. I’ve used oyster grout from the tube and I’ve tried silicone. Is there something else that I can do or is this normal?”
TOM: Wow. I think you’re working way too hard on this. Well, you know, a caulked tub is not going to last for years. It certainly will last maybe a couple years. But you shouldn’t be doing this three times a year.
LESLIE: Yeah, definitely not multiple times a year.
TOM: Let’s do a total reset here, Jen.
So, the first thing we want you to do is to remove all of the material between the caulk and the tile that’s there now. If you can’t get it all out, there is a product called a “caulk softener,” which will sort of help melt that caulk. Get it all out.
Next, I want you to wipe that joint clean with some bleach and maybe a little bit of water mixed in. You can brush it in there if you have to. That’s going to kill any mold or mildew that’s stuck in there.
And the third thing you’re going to do is fill the tub with water and I’ll tell you why in a minute. But while it’s filled with water, then you recaulk the tub. You want to use a kitchen-and-bath caulk that has a mildicide built into it. Latex will be a lot easier to handle than the silicone. And finally, let the water out of the tub. Because by filling it up, you pull the tub down. When it comes back up, it compresses the caulk and it won’t fall out nearly as quickly again.
And I think you’re going to find it will last you a couple of years.
LESLIE: Geez, Louise. Definitely more than a third of a year. So, already an improvement.
TOM: Definitely more than 3 or 4 months.
Well, if you own an older home, you probably wish its walls could talk. Well, there are no talking walls needed. Leslie has got ways you can learn about your home’s past. And it can help you avoid future problems and make you more aware of previous ones, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? You have the crystal ball out there?
LESLIE: Oh, yes. I’ve got my mind-reading abilities very well set to the home. Tell me exactly how old you are.
Come on, guys. You know that knowing your home’s exact age is very valuable but it is not exactly a metaphysical science here, guys. There’s actually some things that you can look at in your home that will help you determine how old your house is.
So, if you’ve got an architecture book or two, most homeowners can actually narrow down their home with a core style and sort of help you find the time period.
Now, also, public records, these are going to hold key information about your home, in particular. And researching public home records is a good idea if you’re the prospective owner of a home, so you know what changes could’ve taken place over the years before you buy it. So to do that, you want to visit your local building department, the tax assessor or the registrar of deeds to find the deeds, the maps, plot plans, building permits. All of which are going to help you fill in a piece of that home’s history.
Now, maps that are used by insurance companies since the mid-1800s are also a great way to find out more about your house. They’re used to catalogue buildings in the area and give excellent descriptions of size, layouts, materials that were used for construction. A lot of great information there.
Now, in the house, you can actually learn a lot by just looking at the materials in the home and how it was built. Say you see knob-and-tube wiring and maybe steel plumbing pipes. Well, those were very common from 1900 to 1940, whereas small fuse-type electrical systems and plaster-lath walls, those are from 1940 to 1960. So you’ve got to sort of see – how was it built? What are the assemblies? What are sort of the systems of the house? And that’s going to really help you narrow down to a specific time frame.
And finally, you want to take a good look around, because you might be lucky enough to find dates actually stamped on plumbing fixtures, like a toilet or a sink. And if these are the original fixtures to your house, you can actually bet that the home was built just after these are made.
And knowing more about your home’s past can definitely help you plan for your home’s future.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, painting is the one DIY project that probably seems the simplest but it can be very frustrating when it comes out badly. We’re going to tell you how to make sure that doesn’t happen, in the very next edition of The Money Pit.
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.
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