- During summer’s hottest months, buying a pool may seem like a pretty good idea. But several pool pitfalls that can lead to a real financial soaking. Tom & Leslie share dos and don’ts.
- If you’ve ever picked up lumber for a project that measure 2 by anything (like 2×4, 2×8 and so on) did you ever notice that the wood actually measures a lot less? We’ll share what happens to all that missing wood you thought you were paying for.
- Homeowners insurance is an important way to protect yourself from financial disaster. But you might be surprised to learn the most common things that are NOT covered. We share how to make sure your totally covered.
- One incredibly common home improvement tool sends hundreds of people to emergency rooms every year. Learn what this is and how to stay safe
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Bill is trying to decide between a concrete patio or wood deck and wants to know how much to budget for the project and which one lasts longer?
- Lorraine needs help getting rid of ants which are attacking her outdoor space.
- Beverly wants to know how the best way to clean a fence.
- Robert is ready to take on building a retaining wall – Options for retaining wall blocks and tips for building a successful one.
- Jenny wants to know how to know how to install a handicap accessible bath chair in a shower.
- William needs to know how to remove mold that forming in a vacation cabin.
- Steve wants to know if adding insulation under vinyl siding actually really helps save energy.
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: How are you guys doing today? We hope that you are enjoying summer in your part of the country. We are here.
You know, I still like doing outside projects when it’s summer, Leslie, but I have to be a lot more strategic. I took some old shelving that was out of our basement, because we’re redoing it, and I brought it outside to clean it up. And I found that I had to sort of move my work location so I was a little under the trees a little bit, picking up a little bit of shade and maybe working a little bit later in the day, after 4:00, since we have a lot of daylight here to get it done. But it was sure pleasant to do that, even in these warm summer days. So, sometimes, you’ve got to change your routine a little bit as you take on those projects.
If you guys are thinking about taking on a project and you don’t know where to begin, a good place to begin is right here. Reach out to us with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been slogging through the heat in your part of the nation, buying a pool might seem like a pretty darn good idea right about now. But before you do, there are some definite pitfalls to avoid that can lead to a real financial soaking, so we’re going to share those dos and don’ts, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’ve ever picked up lumber for a project that included 2 by anything – like a 2×4, a 2×8 and so on – did you ever notice that that wood actually measures a lot less than what you’re calling it? We’re going to share what happens to all that missing wood that you thought you were paying for.
TOM: And buying homeowners insurance is an important way to protect yourself from financial disaster if your home suffers serious damage. But you might be surprised to learn the most common things that are not covered by that insurance. We’re going to share what they are and how to make sure you are totally protected.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to help you create your best home ever. So whether that’s a quick fix or a pretty big project, we’re going to help you save time, money and hassles.
TOM: But we’re also here to give you some free tools. We’ve got a pneumatic brad nailer from Arrow Fastener to give away on today’s show worth 55 bucks. So, if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it by picking up the phone and calling us with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting them to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Bill from Pensacola, Florida is on the line and has been wanting to take on an outdoor project. What are you working on, Bill?
BILL: Me and the wife are talking about doing a concrete patio or a wooden patio. What would you say was the least expensive way to go with it? Haven’t hit the Florida lottery yet but we’re wanting to do something out in the backyard.
TOM: Well, Bill, that’s a good question and certainly a wooden deck or a patio will be, I think, similar in price. But more importantly, you have to ask yourself, “What’s going to wear better?”
And given the fact that you’re in Florida, I think you absolutely have to go with a patio because you’re going to build that deck at basically at grade, right on the lawn, essentially. And even if you leave it up 6 inches or so, it’s going to be a lot more work to take care of. It’s going to be a lot more likely to get moss and algae on there. The boards can become cracked and checked, so I’m thinking that that’s probably not the best solution for your part of the country.
Leslie, what do you think about the paver idea, though? The Milano pavers that go on top of concrete. That’s an option, too. It looks pretty good.
LESLIE: I mean the pavers are lovely and you can sort of interlock together in a variety of shapes, patterns. And they’re super simple to use if you’ve got that level sort of concrete patio to start with. And I think for your climate, I feel like the concrete’s way more manageable than dealing with a wood deck.
TOM: Absolutely. So, hopefully, that gives you some good options, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine from Vermont on the line who’s got some ants invading her money pit. How can we help you today?
LORRAINE: I have them out in my flower beds, I have them on my front and back lawn. There’s a lot of sand here around my house.
LORRAINE: And I am wondering what I could do to get rid of them.
TOM: Are they getting into the house, as well?
LORRAINE: No, they are not in the house.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s good news.
So, look, there are ways that you can work with this using sort of over-the-counter products. But I would recommend a different direction. The insecticides today have become so sophisticated and so accurate and so able to target, specifically, the insect that you’re dealing with that it’s really worthwhile having a professional apply these insecticides. One in particular that, actually, we just used at my mom’s house – well, not we; I hired somebody to do this – it’s called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. And I’m very familiar with this insecticide because it’s one that is part of a class called an “undetectable.”
So, the way it works is – in the old days, we’d spray insecticides that would repel the ants or kill them on sight. And they would sort of know it was there, so it was detectable. Well, these new insecticides are undetectable. So, as a result, the ants go through the insecticide and then they get it on their bodies and they bring it back to the nest. And then they share it with the other insects in the nest. So just getting some ants to go through it basically takes it back to the nest and wipes out the whole nest. So it’s a very effective way to try to control the ant populations around your house.
I don’t know that I would go so far as to do it in my whole yard unless it was really bothering me. But generally, you do this right around your – the perimeter of your home to try to minimize them in that area and stop them from potentially going in the house. You haven’t seen them yet but if you’ve got that many, I can almost guarantee that they’re in the house.
Alright, Lorraine. Does that help you out?
LORRAINE: That does. I actually tried – someone had told me to use Borax and sugar?
TOM: Yeah, that’s one of the home remedies that I mentioned. And Borax does work but it’s just not nearly as effective as a product like Termidor.
Good luck with the project.
LORRAINE: Thank you so much.
TOM: Hey, if you guys love tools, you’ll be very happy to know that today we’ve got a great tool to give away to one lucky listener. We’ve got a pneumatic brad nailer from our friends at Arrow Fastener, plus a supply of nails to get you started.
It’s a great tool for lots of trim and molding and small woodworking projects. It’s easy to handle, it’s durable. Reloading is super simple. It’s available at Walmart, Amazon or Ace Hardware for 55 bucks but we’ve got one to give away on today’s show. So if you want to be in it, you’ve got to call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your questions or post them to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Beverly in Ohio is on the line. How can we help you today?
BEVERLY: I have a problem with my white vinyl fence. And I’m trying to see if you have any ideas as to what I can use to clean it. It’s got black marks all over it from a youth that used to mail my – used to mow my grass. And I’ve had it power-cleaned twice. I’ve tried Mr. Clean it. Now I’m at a loss as to what I can do, because it’s an expensive …
TOM: Have you tried to use one of those green Scotch pads on it? That has just a minor amount of abrasion. I’m trying to think what actually could be making these black marks. If it’s something that’s on top of the vinyl, then you should be able to remove it.
The other thing is if it happens to be something that is solvent-based, like tar or rubber or something of that nature, another thing that you could try to do is you could try to spray that with some WD-40. That has a pretty good ability of breaking down those types of substances. Just a little bit, perhaps, on that green scrubby pad. Rub it over that surface and see if that lifts it off. I think the key is to try to figure out what that black mark is and then what’s going to take it off from there. But I would try it in those – in that order. See how you make out, Beverly.
BEVERLY: Yeah, yeah. Some of it’s from the road and some of it is from them taking their lawn mower and trying to mow the grass right up against it.
TOM: Well, I mean that would throw dirt and stones of it – against it. But that should be clean. As long as the whatever – as long as this vinyl fence is white all the way through, it’s got to be something that’s on top of it. And that’s why I say you have to find the right cleaner and the right tool to remove that.
Beverly, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in Washington is on the line and needs some help building a retaining wall. Tell us about your project.
ROBERT: Fifty feet of retaining wall. It’s tapered. It’s 8 feet on one end and 4 feet on the other. And I’m comparing – trying to compare the engineered blocks – the 1,000-pound blocks – in price to cast in place. And I really haven’t found any place to give me a good idea.
TOM: So, Robert, I think that trying to decide between those very, very heavy retaining-wall block structures and poured concrete is going to kind of be a wash. I think that the blocks, actually, can be more attractive and probably a little bit less work to install. But also, there are other options. You could build wood retaining walls that can be, structurally, very, very sound if they’re done right. And you could use smaller, lighter-weight blocks – landscaping bricks – that again, they’re not 1,000 pounds but they’re probably 75. And you can stack those up in the right way.
The most important thing is really the structure of this wall and how you grade to it. Because you have to make sure that you have stone behind it for drainage. You have to make sure that the soil at the top slopes away from it. Most retaining walls fall – fail – not because the material is wrong but because the installation was bad. So as long as it’s installed well, following the best building practices for retaining walls, you’re going to have success with this.
For example, with wood walls, there’s a technique called a “dead man,” which is basically when you put pieces of railroad tie or 6×6 or 8×8 timber that go back into the retaining wall, into the dirt itself, to kind of tie the wall together. So, sometimes, we don’t see enough of those installed and that makes the walls fail.
With block or brick, sometimes we see people build them absolutely vertical instead of tilting back into the wall. So that whenever there’s a frost heave, because there’s not enough drainage behind it, it will push the wall and cause it to buckle. So, the techniques that you use to build this wall are even more important than the selection of the material itself.
Well, buying a pool is something that most people probably do only once in their lives, which means most pool buyers are actually pretty wet behind the ears, so to speak.
LESLIE: I like what you did there. That’s why, guys, it’s …
TOM: You like that? You heard that, huh?
LESLIE: I did. I was listening. Yeah, that’s why it’s super important that you don’t let your lack of experience get the best of you. You have to ask yourself a few key questions before you fork over any money and before you break any ground.
TOM: Yeah, now the first question is: how long do you expect to be in your home? Because some potential home buyers see pools as a risk, which means they don’t always increase your home’s resale value. Now, if you’re looking for an investment with solid returns, a pool definitely is not it. So make sure the enjoyment you’ll get from the pool is worth the price, especially if you live in an area where pools are not all that common for those reasons.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? Pools are expensive to put in, so when you’re thinking of the cost, ask yourself how often are you going to use it. The pool does make for a great day outside but if, say, you and your family are only able to squeeze in 5 or 6 days of the summer, a membership to your local pool club might make more sense.
TOM: Yeah. And speaking of costs, there’s the while-you’re-at-it factor that always adds on projects that you didn’t think of.
For example, if you’re going to install the pool, you need also a pool fence. And that’s a specialized type of fence that is non-climbable and designed to keep your guests, your kids, other kids in the neighborhood safe. So, things like that – automatic pool covers, other prevention accessories – they all need to be purchased. They all add to the cost. So don’t forget to add in all of those extras so there’s no surprises before you’re ready to jump in.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Mel in Arkansas who’s got a question about a shower. What can we do for you today?
MEL: Well, we need to change a tub into a shower. And it is for a handicapped person that uses a shower chair. And everything that we are finding so far is a fiberglass-type stuff that is not rated for the person’s weight that’s going to have to be using it. And they use a shower chair. Any suggestions on how to stabilize it so that it’s not going to break through when the shower chair goes in it?
TOM: You’re looking at zero-threshold showers that basically are flush with the floor?
MEL: Not necessarily. It doesn’t have to be the zero-threshold but it needs to be a shower, not a tub.
TOM: Right. OK. So, when you put in a fiberglass shower pan, you’re right: sometimes there’s flex underneath of it. But there’s an easy trick of the trade to deal with that. And that is that you can mix up a concrete mix or a cement mix or mortar mix and basically, you put it underneath the pan while it’s wet and then you press the pan down into it. And what that does is that takes out all of the space between the pan itself and the floor. It provides a rock-solid base to that fiberglass shower stall. Does that make sense?
TOM: Alright, Mel? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: William in North Carolina is on the line with a mold question. What can we do for you today?
WILLIAM: Mold and mildew. How do you eradicate it? And I’ve got it on the walls, on the ceiling, which I’m going to pull that out. But I’ve been told different things. I mean can you simply try to bleach it off of walls or …?
TOM: Alright. Hey, William, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me about this mold that you’re seeing. Tell me what kind of house you have, how old your house is, where you’re finding the mold, how long it’s been going on and that sort thing, OK? Talk to us.
WILLIAM: Sure. It’s a cabin out in the woods. And it is in the shade. It was built in 1960. And it is a wooden structure. The walls on the inside are both wood – knotty pine – and it’s beautiful. And then the bathroom is where the real concentration is. That is a stucco-type wall.
TOM: Alright. So you have a cabin. Does the cabin have heating?
WILLIAM: It does, yes.
TOM: Yeah, OK. But it’s not used year-round?
WILLIAM: It’s not. And unfortunately, I let someone stay here for the past year. And I don’t think they maintained it.
TOM: Well, typically, when you have cabins such as the one that you described, it will grow mold more quickly than a place that has a more typical HVAC system that’s properly maintained. And usually, what you have to do is go in and thoroughly clean it.
Now, there are lots of different products to do that but it definitely has to be done. And you have to also be very careful because as you’re doing this, you could risk releasing those mold spores and also breathing them, which could make you sick. So you need proper cleaning materials and you need proper ventilation materials so that you are not breathing that back in.
WILLIAM: A mask, yeah, certainly.
TOM: A mask and ventilation techniques like, for example, depressurizing the cabin while you’re doing the work because, otherwise, the mold spores get released to the air.
TOM: Honestly, it’s not a do-it-yourself job although I know a lot of folks that have hunting cabins and that sort of thing will do it themselves. But you’ve got to be really careful the way you go about this, because you could make it worse.
WILLIAM: OK. So, what are the materials that are typically used? Is it a bleach type?
TOM: Yeah. Usually, there’s a bleach-type material. It’s an oxygenated bleach type of a product or it’s a diluted bleach. There are a number of commercial products that are like that that are out there. 30 SECONDS Cleaner is one of them. And you have to apply it and you have to let it sit, because it will kill the mold spores and then you rinse it off.
But it’s a process and there’s a lot of elbow grease involved. And then you have to maintain it. But if you do it once and do it right, some of these products will also have an inhibitor as part of them so that it won’t grow mold as quickly in the future.
WILLIAM: OK. Yeah, the situation I have is because it is so deep in the woods that it really does not get any sunlight during the day.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. I get that. Mm-hmm.
WILLIAM: Yeah. So, yeah. And the way it has been raining here in North Carolina, I think that’s just exasperated the situation.
TOM: Yeah, no doubt. Well, you’ve just got to – you’re just going to have to do a little more maintenance to try to keep that at bay. But like I say, that those – the new products have inhibitors in them so that hopefully that will slow it down.
TOM: So Leslie, the garden, which we planted in spring, has totally blossomed. It’s taking over large parts of the space that we allotted for it, mostly because we have cucumbers. And they have been the most aggressive plant I have ever seen. I don’t know where we got this seed …
LESLIE: That’s a low vine, yes?
TOM: Yeah. But it climbs. So it’s always reaching for something to grab onto. So, so far, it’s spread out across this sort of quarter of the garden and then it started to reach up onto the cedar shingles and sort of grabbed there, so I put up trellises. And I noticed that if you take them off, you can sort of aim them at other things you want them to climb – because I didn’t want them getting all smashed in with the cedar.
LESLIE: I believe they call that “training” them. You train them.
TOM: I didn’t know that. Well, I’ve been training my cucumbers. We haven’t gotten any fruit yet but I have a feeling that we’re going to be in cucumber heaven when that actually happens.
LESLIE: When does that happen? When are cucumbers’ time of year?
TOM: I think pretty soon. We’re starting to see some little ones. But I understand that you can’t let them get too big because they turn bitter. And the more you pick them, the more they grow. So we’re going to see.
Every year, it seems like one plant or another sort of takes over. Last year, it was tomatoes. They were growing so frequently, we had so many tomatoes. And the big Jersey tomatoes. Now, my garden is on the end of the house and I have a gutter that’s right above it there. So I actually went up to the gutter and tied off some of the larger, heavy tomato branches with rope so they would grow up higher, because that was actually higher than the trellises I had put in there. And I didn’t want them to fall down. So, we got lots of tomatoes last year. Looked kind of crappy but it worked. It was just sort of a hack that I had to do in a short minute.
LESLIE: You know what I grew very successfully this summer?
LESLIE: Poison ivy.
TOM: Oh, really? That’s lovely.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. We had so much of it. And it’s funny. With my son being a Boy Scout and you being a Scout, I should know exactly what poison ivy looks like.
LESLIE: Well, I had no idea that this was actually poison ivy.
TOM: Don’t tell me you found out the hard way.
LESLIE: No, I didn’t. I was walking the dog and a neighbor was like, “Hey, you know, you’ve got poison ivy over there.” And then Henry walked by and he was like, “Yeah, Ma. It’s everywhere.” I was like, “What? What?”
TOM: Yeah, he’s the Boy Scout. He knows.
LESLIE: Yeah. He’s the Scout.
So, it took a lot of persistence and a lot of gloves and long sleeves and garbage bags but I may have accomplished getting rid of it? And so far, no itchies. So, good stuff.
TOM: Excellent. Excellent, yeah. So, yeah. No matter whether you’re growing something you want to keep or something you want to get rid of, we can probably help you because we’ve been there, we’ve done that. So give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re just getting started in home improvements, you might be confused by the way that lumber is sold. Because you actually get a little bit less wood than you think what you’re paying for. We’re going to explain why, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
So, for example, guys, let’s say you’re getting ready to build a shed and you’ve purchased some 2x4s for the walls. Now, you’re expecting that they’re going to measure 2 inches by 4 inches but what you actually find is that even though they’re called “2x4s,” they actually measure 1-5/8 inches by 3½ inches. Now, the same goes for a 1×6. You’d expect that it would measure 1 inches by 6 inches but what you’re going to find is that it really only measures ¾-inch by 5½ inches. So, what the heck is happening to all that missing lumber that you think you’re buying and paying for?
TOM: Well, there’s actually a good reason for it and it’s the effects of modern lumber production that you’re seeing here. If you’ve ever seen a 2×4 in a really old house, you’ll notice that it is actually 2 inches by a full 4 inches. But now, when a tree is cut up into lumber, those boards still start at 2×4 but when they’re dried – which actually makes them stronger, so it’s a good thing and then planes remove all the saw curves and the rough stuff – what you’re left with is less. So that 2×4 is now 1½x3½ and a 2×6 is 1½x5½ and so on.
LESLIE: Yeah. So the lumber industry uses two forms of measurement: dimensional and nominal. And dimensional is that size of the board when it’s first milled at the lumberyard and the nominal number is the size after it’s dried and planed. And that’s what you ultimately find in the lumberyard.
TOM: Yeah. But the good news is that the length is always the length. So an 8-foot 2×4 is really 8 feet long but 1½ inches thick and 3½ inches wide. Well, though, except for if you buy something called a “2×4 stud,” which is actually 93 inches long. Any guesses why that is?
LESLIE: Because you’re accounting for the floor plate and the ceiling plate. And you don’t have to cut anything.
TOM: Right. Because if a wall’s going to be 8 feet tall when it’s done, you have to put a plate, or another 2×4, at the end of the stud and also at the bottom. So, 1½ plus 1½ plus 93 equals 96, which is 8 feet. And that’s why when you buy studs they’re shorter than typical 8-foot-long 2x4s.
LESLIE: Jeez, Louise. It is a lot to keep track of but it’s super fun to shop for lumber, so definitely head to the home center and take on your next project knowing exactly what you’re getting.
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.
Hey, do you guys like tools? We do. And if you do, you’ll be happy that we’ve got a great one to give away today.
LESLIE: Yeah, we’ve got up for grabs a pneumatic brad nailer from Arrow Fastener, plus a whole supply of nails to get you started. It really is a great tool for some small trim and interior-molding projects, which are definitely a DIY project. It’s easy to handle, it’s durable. Reloading those nails is super simple. Plus, it features a non-marring rubber tip. So whatever you’re working on, you’re not going to mark it up as you’re getting ready to fire that nail in. And it has a safety mechanism that’s going to prevent misfires. So, it’s definitely a great tool to have.
It’s worth 55 bucks. You can find it at Walmart, Amazon, even Ace Hardware. But one of you lucky listeners out there is going to win one today.
TOM: Make that you. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve from Illinois who’s looking to do an outside project. I mean we’ve all been spending a lot of time outdoors, so definitely a great place to start.
Steve, what are you working on?
STEVE: I’m wanting to put a front porch on the front of my house and I had to take off some of the vinyl siding. And I’m wondering if I put up some 1-inch boards of insulation underneath the siding when I come back with it, if that is possible.
LESLIE: That’s a good question and we hear that question a lot.
But I don’t know, Tom. Does insulating that little underneath the siding actually make that much of a difference?
TOM: You know, they sell vinyl siding with and without those insulation backers and frankly, I really don’t think it makes any difference that’s worthwhile. Certainly not worth whatever the up expense is to do that.
Now, if you’ve got all the siding off and you’re looking at sheathing and you want to put something on there – you talked about wanting Styrofoam – there’s another type of foam sheathing that you can use that’s an isocyanurate foam board. It usually has foil that faces both sides, so it helps control the radiant energy. But the problem with that is it’s an inch thick and that means that everything changes on the front of the house. So if your windows were flush with the siding before, now they’re going to be recessed because you’re pulling that wall out an inch or whatever the thickness is.
So, I’ve got to say that I probably don’t think it’s worth the extra effort. I would just go ahead and complete the front-porch work and then put the siding back exactly the way it is. If you want to make the house a little more weathertight while you’re doing it, make sure you seal caulk around all the windows, do that sort of thing. But I don’t think putting that extra inch of Styrofoam on is going to make all that much difference to you.
STEVE: Thank you. Bye.
TOM: Well, guys, check this out. If you own a home or a condo and you bought homeowners insurance to make sure your investment is totally protected, you might be surprised to learn the most common things that are actually not protected by standard homeowners insurance.
LESLIE: Yeah. According to a survey by Hearth, there are three things that cause the most confusion.
Natural disasters, let’s start there. It’s not always sunny. In fact, in many states, natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, wind damage, fires and more are common occurrences. Now, the resulting damages are often not covered by your homeowners insurance unless – now, you’ve got to have a special addendum to your homeowners policy that’s called a “rider” or a separate policy that specifically covers that. In some states, mortgage companies will require, for example, that you have flood insurance if your area is in an area prone to flooding.
TOM: Another thing that’s not covered is wear and tear. It’s bound to happen but insurance doesn’t cover anything that it deems as negligence. So, if you had a leak and you let it go on for a long time and it cause mold and rot damage, that’s on you. That’s not on the insurance company. If you get a sewer backup or maybe if a tree drops a big branch, it may be covered but it’s not always clear. So make sure you understand what is and isn’t considered normal wear and tear.
LESLIE: Now, another thing is infestations. We all know that those bugs were here first but who really wants to share a house with them? So, insurance companies, they’re not going to help you out when it comes to termites, other bugs, even animal infestations or any of the damages that they might cause.
TOM: So, if you need advice on dealing with the wear and tear or the infestations, I guess you’re just stuck with us. So reach out to us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll do our best to get you straightened out.
LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground. What can we do for you?
ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?
ERIN: I believe so, yes.
TOM: Because pressure-treated lumber has sort of fallen out of favor as a playset, because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.
But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.
You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.
ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?
TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.
ERIN: And the same – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.
TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.
Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?
ERIN: It’s about the same age. I believe it is.
TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.
ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Reach out and post a question. Mike did that and he writes: “I need some help with my pool deck. It’s always the rocks are coming loose around the pool and I feel like it’s time to put in a new covering. What is the best from a cost and longevity standpoint?”
TOM: You know, that’s a really common area for that kind of wear and tear. And while you can repair the concrete, it’s probably not worth it. I’ve got a much better solution for you. There is a really good product out there that’s designed exactly for that scenario. It’s called SpreadStone. It’s a decorative concrete resurfacing kit.
And what’s cool about it is it’s factory-tinted, so it looks really nice and it has a system that absolutely locks onto the concrete and that’s the key. If you have any kind of a covering there that doesn’t attach to the concrete, it’s just going to peel off again. But this locks on. It looks good. It’s a beautiful surface. It’s not going to separate and it’s do-it-yourself. So you pretty much just roll it on.
It’s made by Daich Coatings – D-a-i-c-h. And that is their website: DaichCoatings.com. So check that out, Mike. I think that is exactly the solution to this situation for you.
LESLIE: I mean I think it’s super important. You have to remember even when you’re staining a deck, same with concrete: it’s got to permeate through that surface and sort of bond to the material itself, which is what’s going to make that last. And definitely something you want to work on, because it’s always terrible when you get all those little rocks and they fall in the pool and then you can scratch the liner or even tear it. So many things happen when one thing starts to fail, so definitely take care of that pool surface.
TOM: Well, hey, guys. If you fall off a ladder, you can get seriously injured. In fact, ladder falls will send hundreds of people to emergency rooms every year. To help, though, Leslie has got some tips to make sure you are not one of them, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you’re heading outside for some home repairs that are up high, a sturdy ladder is a help. But you’ve got to understand how to use it probably to make sure that gravity does not get the best of you. Now, ladder falls send hundreds of people to the emergency room every year and some of those falls can even be fatal.
So, here’s the biggest mistake that you can make and that’s taking shortcuts. In order to be safe, a ladder needs to remain stationary. For an extension ladder, you need to level the feet by digging out the ground or by using ladder levelers. On hard, dry ground, you want to rest those feet flat. Never put the ladder on top of slippery, plastic tarps. And you want to make sure that the textured, rubber pads are on and intact. If you’re on grass or soft ground, you want to flip the feet up. They’re going to have spikes on the end there and you want to drive those right into the ground.
Next, you have to think about where you place that ladder because the position is key. So you’ve got to set it so that the distance from its base to the wall is one quarter of the height of the ladder at its resting point. So you’re creating a 75-degree angle there. If you want a quick check on the angle of your ladder, you want to stand facing it with your feet touching its feet and your arms extended. Your palms should rest on a rung at shoulder height.
And finally, you have to look up, guys. Before you put that ladder up, look up. Make sure there are no overhead wires before you carry or set up that ladder. And never rest an extension ladder against a tree or a pole because there it can rotate and fall.
So, I know you think, “It’s a ladder. I open it up and I climb on it.” It is not as simple. You need to take care because simple mistakes can happen and you can get super hurt. So take extra caution, guys.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about window screens. They allow us to open our windows and let that fresh air in. But if your screens look worn and tattered, there’s now a new variety of really durable materials out there for rescreening them to make them last longer than ever before. We’ll share those tips on 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.
(Copyright 2021 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.)