- Standby Generators: When the power goes out, should you have a portable generator or a standby generator? We’ll discuss both.
- Exterior Home Improvements: What are the best exterior projects to improve curb appeal and provide a return on your investment? Find out from an expert.
- Leaf Disposal: How can you get rid of all those autumn leaves that are covering your yard? We’ll talk about a few easy options.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Refinishing a Deck: Half of Teresa’s deck is made of new pressure-treated lumber and the other half is painted. We suggest she waits a while before prepping and painting the whole deck.
- Energy Efficiency: How can Dane save money on his rising energy bills? Simple DIY tips like buying LED bulbs, installing a smart thermostat, and using drapes and blinds to block the sun are some solutions.
- Log Home: Is there a way to fill cracks on the inside walls of Nina’s log home? Wood fillers may help for a while, but the cracks are common for a log home’s rustic look.
- Asphalt Driveway: Nelson wants to seal his new asphalt driveway, but it’s too soon. Using a latex-based sealant next year is a better idea.
- Crawlspace Moisture: There’s just dirt, a layer of cardboard, and a musty smell in Bridget’s crawlspace. She needs to remove the cardboard to prevent mold and termites, cover the soil, and make sure there’s enough ventilation.
- Whole House Fans: What is the best location to install a whole house fan? Mike gets advice on where to place it to ventilate his house properly.
- Plaster Walls: The sturdy cinderblock walls on Kay’s home are covered with brick on the outside but unsightly inside. We’ll discuss using a layer of plaster to create a smooth new surface.
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: And we are here for you, specifically to help you with projects you’d like to get done around your house. Whether you are building a new house, remodeling an existing house or just fixing up some small projects around your house, we can help you with tips, with ideas, with sources for products, with information to help you avoid the perspiration that often happens when it comes to taking on home improvements. The first thing you need to do is help yourself by reaching out to us with your questions.
Two ways to do that. Go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, click on the blue microphone button and record your question for us. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – and we’ll get back to you the next time we’re in the studio.
Got a great show planned for you. Coming up today, if you’ve been shopping for a generator, you might know there are two types – standby and portable – and wondered what type would be best for your house. So we’re going to explain the pros and the cons of each to help you figure out what’s going to work.
LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, curb appeal has a huge impact on how much prospective buyers are willing to spend on a home. But not all home improvements will deliver that same return on investment. So we’re going to share which exterior home renovations provide the best ROI and deliver that curb appeal to your house.
TOM: And fall’s upon us. But all those leaves falling from the trees, what’s the best way to get rid of them? We’re going to have some answers.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on. We want to lend you a hand. Plus, we want to give you a great prize. Up for grabs, to one lucky listener this hour, is the Arrow 5-in-1 Manual Staple Gun. It’s good for a whole host of projects and it fires a ton of different fasteners. So it’s a great prize for a great fall season. So give us a call.
TOM: If you want to win it, you’ve got to reach out to us with your home improvement questions. We’ll take all of those that did just that, toss you in the Money Pit hard hat and send out that Arrow 5-in-1 Manual Staple Gun to one lucky winner. Make that you. The number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or go to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Theresa on the line who wants to change her deck from paint to stain.
What’s going on at your money pit?
THERESA: We have a deck. We have replaced half of the deck with – what do you call that? – pretreated lumber?
TOM: Yep. Treated lumber, OK.
THERESA: And we got – and I really don’t know what to do because half the deck is now, you know, replaced and the other half is still painted with paint, not stain.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Are you planning on replacing the painted lumber, as well, or not?
THERESA: Well, I was actually wanting to use some type of solid stain, because I think they’ve come out with some new stuff now. So maybe I would use it over all of the deck.
TOM: Yeah, the thing is since it’s been painted, you’re really going to have to get that old paint off. You can’t stain over paint because there’s nothing for the stain to soak into unless it’s so worn that it’s exposed sort of the pores of the wood. But you’re talking about solid-color stain. It has a lot of pigment in it. Kind of looks like paint; it just doesn’t have the glaze to it. But it gives it a lot of protection.
And since the pressure-treated side is brand new, I would tell you to probably wait until next spring to tackle that. Because the first year, there’s a lot of chemicals in that pressure-treated lumber. We like to let them evaporate out a bit first.
THERESA: Oh, OK. Because I had heard several different things. I was gung-ho ready to go. And you think that the part – see, part of the deck is actually covered. So, you think I need to strip that off of there?
TOM: I’d be concerned because I don’t think the stain is going to stick on top of the paint. I mean the idea of stain is it soaks into the wood. You can paint over stain but you can’t stain over paint, OK?
THERESA: OK. So what products are out there that would maybe …
TOM: Paint. Like I said, paint would work for all of it but then you’d be painting the rest of the deck, unless you just wanted to have it be sort of two-tone or at least one is painted and one is stained. You’re going to see a difference between the two but maybe you can figure out a way to make that work from a décor perspective.
THERESA: Well, thank you so, so much. I’ll do that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got Dane on the line from Tennessee looking to save some dollars on those energy bills.
How can we help?
DANE: I had a $190 electric bill last month. So, I’ve been trying to find ways to save electrical costs, like not having the air conditioner turned down so low during the daytime. But I’ve been trying to look for the perfect kind of bulb to save the most electricity.
TOM: Well, the LED technology is so rock-solid now that that’s definitely the way to go and the prices have come way down. You can buy LED bulbs. When they first came out, they were 75 bucks each, which was kind of crazy. But now you can find a good LED bulb for under 10 bucks. And the nice thing is that these things last 20 years or more. So it’s not like you’re ever going to have to replace them or certainly not anytime soon.
So the LED bulbs that are available at home centers and hardware stores, I think, are the way to go. I don’t think that’s going to be the main reason your electrical bill was so high. You mentioned your air conditioning. How is your house heated and cooled? Is it electric heat? Is it gas heat? What have you got?
DANE: It’s electric heat. I don’t own my own home; I rent. So, I’m probably in the same scenario as a lot of people nowadays who either can’t afford to own their own home or their credit isn’t good enough.
TOM: Yeah. So let me give you a suggestion. One of the things that I often recommend to renters is that you buy your own thermostat. Now, replacing the existing thermostat in your house is not a very difficult project. And if you were to buy a smart thermostat – like a Nest, for example; I’ve got two of those in my home – you’re going to have the capability to regulate your heating and cooling in a way you never, ever did before.
There’s a couple advantages to this. So, for example, the Nest thermostats have a geo-fence built into them. What that means is you can choose two temperatures: one for when you’re home and one for when you’re not. And when you leave the house, the fact that your phone is no longer in that house tells that thermostat to go down to a vacation setting, which is a lower temperature than it normally would. When you come back, it starts to cool again.
You can also set schedules and it also has a motion detector built into it so that if there’s no action in front of the thermostat, it also can go into vacation mode. So these smart thermostats today give you all sorts of ways for you to save energy. And it’s such a simple installation that when you move out, you could replace the old thermostat and take this with you to the next apartment or the next house and then hook it up there.
DANE: There’s only one issue with that. I’m actually a truck driver and me and my fiancée live here. And we are expecting our first child together.
DANE: Thank you. So she’s always here. She takes care of the house but a lot of pregnant women, they get a lot hotter during pregnancy, so they tend to use the thermostat quite a bit more.
TOM: Sure, I understand that. And certainly, we want your fiancée to be as comfortable as possible. But this is just a short-term situation. Moving on beyond that, the kind of technology that’s available in smart thermostats and other smart-home products today is inexpensive and really can overall contribute towards a lot of energy savings. So I do encourage you to take a look at that.
The light bulbs certainly are one thing and the thermostat is another. You know, being strategic with the drapes and the blinds and making sure that the south windows are well covered so that you reduce heat gain, these are things that you, as a renter, can do. And that will have an impact on your energy bill.
DANE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Dane. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and congratulations on your new child.
Hey, if you guys could use some tools to help you get projects done around the house, we’ve got the Arrow Fastener T501 to give away today. It’s a 5-in-1 manual staple gun.
Leslie, I feel like you can never have enough of these things because of all the different types of projects you do, especially going into holiday decorating.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure. And depending on the type of fastener you need for the type of project. So you always end up with a whole host of different staple guns to really make those projects happen. But what’s so awesome about the 5-in-1 Staple Gun is that it drives 5 different types of fasteners, so you can always go for the same tool rather than digging through your toolbox.
It’s a great, great tool. Totally great for all different kinds of projects: upholstery, installing insulation, craft projects, holiday projects. You name it, you’re going to find something to do with it.
TOM: It retails for 75 bucks but going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Nina in Arizona has got a log home that’s cracking up.
What’s going on?
NINA: My husband and I bought a log home. And the exterior walls, on the inside, are cracked. The logs are cracked. What can we do to fill that in and make that look better?
TOM: You can fill them in with – there’s various types of wood filler out there that can be colored and stained to match that. But I think you’re going to be chasing it over and over and over again. So, you might want to proceed cautiously.
NINA: Oh, wow, OK. So there’s really no solution for it?
TOM: I think you’re better off kind of accepting that that’s what that’s supposed to do. It’s not like finished hardwood furniture or something. It’s a log, so it’s supposed to have that rustic look to it.
NINA: OK. That’s what – that’s kind of what my husband said, so …
TOM: Oh, you see? You should have listened to him, Nina. You just thought he was trying to get out of work, didn’t you?
NINA: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: So glad we could solve that spat.
LESLIE: Nelson in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on?
NELSON: Well, I have asphalt paving. Actually, about 2,200 square feet of it.
TOM: Wow. OK.
NELSON: And I just had it put in 6 weeks ago.
NELSON: And my question is – seal coating. Do I use a water base or an oil base? I’ve heard …
TOM: Well, if it’s only 6 weeks old, it sounds like it’s a little early for you to be seal-coating it. It might be that you want to go ahead and just let this go until next year and give it a seal coating either in the spring or the fall then. And at that point – I think the formulations on these have evolved to the point where you can do a really nice job with a latex-based product. And what you want to do is pick up the seal coat and pick up the tools to apply it with at the home center. And then start in one corner and work your way across.
But since it’s so new, I would let it bake in the sun a little bit. You’re going to have a lot of solvents in that material that’s going to bake out for a while. So I think it’s kind of early for you to seal it. I think you should just hold off, perhaps, for about a year and then seal it before maybe we go into the next winter. Does that make sense?
NELSON: Yeah, it does. That’s good.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Nelson.
Well, guys, if you’ve been shopping for a generator, you may know there are two types to consider: standby generators and portable generators. But what type is best for your particular house? We’re going to explain, in today’s Power Tip of the Day presented by Kohler Residential Standby Generators.
LESLIE: Now, if you follow the news, from California on to the East, more and more utility companies are having a lot of trouble staying up with the demand. That’s why now is a really good time to take a close look at your option in generators.
TOM: Yeah. So, first, let’s take a look at portable generators. Now, portable generators are recommended for short-term use and specifically short-term outside use, like camping or tailgating. Or if you’re in construction and you’re powering some tools, you’re charging your batteries but you’re working outside, it works for that.
Now, they can be easily moved around; they’re pretty portable. But they have to be refueled with gas. And that can be really hard to get after a storm when there’s no power to pump the gas. They’re also going to require manual starting and stopping. And portable generators also need extension cords; you’ve got to connect them to your appliances. So they’re not all that convenient.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, standby generators, on the other hand, are recommended for longer outages, like those that come with severe weather. And unlike the portables, standby generators are permanently installed outside of your home and they don’t require manual refueling or even manual starting and stopping. The standbys do run on natural gas or propane. And depending on the size you install, they really can provide enough power to power up your entire home.
TOM: Yeah. Now, for example, Leslie, you and I both have the 20kW Kohler Generators, right? And they handle the house, they handle the central air conditioning. Everything works just fine. They even keep our studios powered up. So, my recommendation would be to get the size you need because installing – that’s the cost. The installation is the cost. It’s pretty much the same for any size standby. So there’s really not a lot of sense in picking one that’s going to be too small.
LESLIE: Yeah. And now’s a good time to pick one up, too, because Kohler has a great offer for Money Pit listeners. If you order a unit before November 18th, you’re going to get a free 10-year extended warranty that’s worth up to $995. Plus, you can also save up to 750 bucks on select models.
TOM: To learn more and find a dealer near you, just go to PoweredByKohler.com today. That’s PoweredByKohler – K-o-h-l-e-r – .com. Kohler Generators, backup power from a name you can trust.
LESLIE: Bridget in Illinois is on the line.
What is going on with that musty odor at your money pit? Tell us about it.
BRIDGET: So my crawlspace is about a 15×15-foot area and it opens up into my basement.
BRIDGET: But I bought an older home and the addition just has the crawlspace.
BRIDGET: So, right now, it’s just dirt and I see some – they’ve laid some cardboard in there but I heard last week that cardboard breeds mold, from your shows. So I removed the cardboard.
TOM: Yeah. Not only that but laying directly on the dirt, that is a termite feast waiting to happen there. So, what you need to do are a couple of things. You need to get the cardboard out of the crawlspace and off of that soil. Then you need to lay heavy plastic down, like Visqueen – very thick sheet plastic – down across that whole soil surface. That’s going to stop a lot of the moisture from evaporating up off that soil and getting into the air, which is causing the musty smell in your basement.
Now, do you have vents in this addition that are open to the outside so that the crawlspace can get some fresh air?
TOM: Do you have a door that closes the crawlspace off from the main basement?
BRIDGET: No, I don’t.
TOM: OK. So, what you’re going to need to do is to form or construct some sort of a hatchway that closes off that opening between the crawlspace and the basement. They don’t need to be connected and in fact, if they are, it’s going to lead to energy loss.
There’s a couple of ways that you can do that and what you might think about doing, if it’s just sort of a standard opening that maybe is 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall – I don’t know. But if it’s something like that, you could take a piece of 1-inch Styrofoam and put a piece of plywood on the front of that and this way construct, essentially, an insulated hatchway there so that you can really seal that in and keep the cold side on the crawlspace and let the basement be the warm side.
I think those couple of things are going to solve your musty smell in your basement and it’s also going to make that crawlspace much, much drier, which is important. If you let that moisture continue to evaporate off the soil, what’s going to happen is you’re eventually going to get not only an inefficient situation, because your insulation will be damp, but you could get termites, you could get mold or decay of the floor structure.
BRIDGET: OK. And my other question is if I put the Visqueen down, how much do I overlap the pieces?
TOM: Very good question. I would overlap it about 4 feet. You don’t want to put it edge to edge.
BRIDGET: OK. And then someone told me that maybe I should put lime down underneath, first, to dry out the area in case there’s like serious backdraft?
TOM: No. You cannot possibly take all the moisture away with lime that’s under that, OK? No. Just cover it with the Visqueen, make sure the vents are open, seal it off from the basement and I think you’ll be good to go.
And by the way, at that foundation perimeter, you can also reduce the amount of moisture getting in there by making sure you have gutters on the addition, the downspouts are extended 4 to 6 feet from the house and the soil is always sloping away. All that moisture management is going to help.
BRIDGET: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You got it, Bridget. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, curb appeal has a huge impact on how much prospective buyers are willing to spend on a home. But not all home improvements deliver that same return on investment.
TOM: Steve Booz is the vice president for marketing and product management for Westlake Royal Building Products. And he joins us now with tips on which exterior home renovations will provide the best ROI to homeowners and deliver that curb appeal to your home.
STEVE: Hi, Tom. How are you today?
TOM: We are excellent. And I tell you what, we focus a lot on exterior home renovations on this program. And the need for good curb appeal has never been greater. The market has been good for home sales and people are making those decision on drive-bys or, more importantly, even on photographs of the exteriors. So, what do you think are the keys to making sure your exterior always shows well?
STEVE: Well, as you said, curb appeal is the first impression that a home makes. And it’s really largely related to the design of the home. And really, the beauty of the entire home is exterior. So, not just the look of the siding or the shutters and how they work together from a color perspective but also the landscaping that may be there.
LESLIE: So, how does it work? When we’re looking at cost versus value, especially with the remodeling report that comes out every year, how do you now? Is it always exterior projects tend to sort of top the charts at the biggest return on investments?
STEVE: It seems to be that way. You know, for the last 10 years or so, at least, that I’ve been tracking this, most of those high ROI projects have been exterior renovations, whether it’s new siding or siding replacements, among other things.
TOM: So, how do you determine that return on investment? I mean, usually, it’s a percent of the expense of the project that you can hope to get back upon the sale of the home, correct? What kinds of numbers are we looking at?
STEVE: The most recent 2022 Cost Versus Value Report listed new vinyl siding as a 67-percent return to the sale of the home. So if you spent $10,000 on re-siding your house, you could anticipate increasing your home’s value by that roughly $6,700.
TOM: You actually have a number of vinyl-siding products on your website at WestlakeRoyalBuildingProducts.com. I’m particularly impressed by some of the wider vinyl-siding products. It really is a beautiful profile that makes a big difference when you compare it to the standard profiles, which are far more narrow. Is that popular for you guys?
STEVE: It really is. And vinyl siding has come a long way. I’ve been in this industry – let’s just say a long time. And when I came in, 3- and 4-inch lap were by far the most popular and you can’t even buy a 3-inch lap anymore. It’s really been moving towards 5, 6 and even 7 inches. And through increases in technology, material science, we have been able to get that wider look established. And it’s been super successful for us.
LESLIE: And I think it’s interesting. Because at Westlake Royal Building Products, you guys really are committed to finding the latest trending building materials, as far as the colors and the shades and the look. How do you guys stay on top of this?
STEVE: We have some great people on the team, for sure, that spend a lot of time in the marketplace talking to contractors, talking to homeowners, talking to architects and designers, as well as staying on top of other color trends. Recently, we’ve added five new colors, between our Royal siding and our Exterior Portfolio siding. And everything’s been inspired by what we’re seeing in nature. The grays and the blue-grays and the browns and greens have really been reflective upon modern home design and where homeowners want to take their siding colors.
TOM: We’re talking to Steve Booz – he’s the vice president of marketing and product management for Westlake Royal Building Products – about the improvements that deliver the best ROI to your home.
Steve, we’ve talked about siding. Let’s talk about some of the other improvements that folks find very valuable. These days, we certainly don’t have much time to maintain our homes. There is, unfortunately, a shortage of contractors around the country and folks getting into the trades. So, having a home that is virtually maintenance-free is important and that has to include not only the siding but also the columns and the trim and that sort of thing. Do you see those products increasing in popularity and are they also contributing to the return you get when you sell your home?
STEVE: We sure do. The report may not call it out specifically but it’s being able to make your house a little bit different and stand out in the marketplace as much as possible. So, upgrading simple things like window surrounds or surrounds around your door or as you mentioned, the column wraps that we have recently launched. It gives your entire exterior an instant facelift and it’s an easy way to really upgrade the porch to a cleaner, more modern look. If somebody has an old, wrought-iron porch post or something like that, you could easily take our column wraps, put it around that and instantly upgrade the look and the curb appeal.
And to your point, in a low-maintenance way. People do not want a weekend project. They want to be able to do their project and then get on with their life.
TOM: It really is important. I’ve seen studies where folks have done surveys where they take a home and they do two versions of it – two photographic versions of it: one with just sort of the basics and one with a brand-new, beautiful front door. And the interesting thing is when you ask folks what do they think the home is worth, the numbers that come back on the homes with the fairly minor improvements like that are astounding. Like 5 to 10 times what it costs to do that improvement. So those sorts of things really do make a difference.
Well, Steve, you certainly have lots of products to help us improve the curb appeal of our homes.
You ought to check out all the products that Westlake Royal Building Products make. Check out their website: WestlakeRoyalBuildingProducts.com. WestlakeRoyalBuildingProducts.com.
Steve, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great information.
STEVE: That was fun to be on. Thank you.
TOM: Hey, do you have some projects to tackle around your house but you don’t have the tools to get it done? Well, we can help with the Arrow Fastener 5-in-1 Manual Staple Gun. We’ve got one to give away today.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got, up for grabs, a 5-in-1 manual stapler, which means that it’s going to drive 5 different types of fasteners. So whatever project you’ve got on the list of to-dos for the weekend, this Arrow 5-in-1 will help you do just that. It’s worth 75 bucks but it could be yours for free with the right questions.
TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Michigan is on the line with a question about installing a whole house fan. What’s going on there, Mike? What’s your situation?
LESLIE: Mike in Michigan is on the line with a question about installing a whole-house fan.
What’s going on there, Mike? What’s your situation?
MIKE: I’ve got a brand picked out. It’s the Tamarack I think that you guys – I’ve seen on This Old House videos. And my question is the location. Does it need to be installed at a central location and at the highest point for that? For us, that’s a great room. It gets warmest. It includes the kitchen. It’s got vaulted ceilings. But that portion is at an angle on the roof. And I’m wondering if that – if it’s not recommended. I don’t have the unit but I’m wondering if it can be installed on an angle or if installing something like that on a kitchen – in a kitchen – is a poor idea.
Another variable is that next year, we’ll be doing a kitchen remodel. We don’t have a range hood. We just have the microwave version of that. And if I should instead get a proper range hood that exhausts out of the house and then find a different location for the whole-house fan. What is it that you guys suggest?
TOM: Alright. Let’s break this up into pieces here. So, first of all, your question is: where does the whole-house fan go? It can’t go on a cathedral ceiling, which is what you’re describing to us. It has to go on a flat ceiling where there’s an attic space above. Because in that attic space, you have to have exhaust venting. Basically, it pulls the air from your house up into the attic space. Usually goes out through some very large gable vents down at the end of the building, because you can’t too terribly pressurize that attic space.
So it’s not going to work in the great room that you’ve described. I thought maybe you were going to tell me that you had a little bit of an attic above that but it sounds like you have no attic. So it’s really not designed for that particular type of installation. Because you have to get plenty of exhaust ventilation in that space or it’s not going to work.
Now, you do bring up a good point with what’s the effect of this whole-house fan on a kitchen and other ventilation systems. If you’re not careful, you can depressurize the whole house and that can certainly take not only the kitchen smoke and stuff – take it out through the fans but I’ve seen it depressurize a house so much that it reverses the draft on the heating system which is, of course, really bad because now you’re pulling your combustion gases into the house.
So, it’s the kind of thing that you really need to approach carefully, maybe get some expert help to make sure you’re not overdoing it in finding the right place for that. But typically, you’re going to put that in a second-floor hallway. Or if it’s in a ranch, somewhere near the bedrooms. And the way you use that, of course, is you’ve got to have some windows or doors open in different parts of the house when that fan kicks on so that you’re pulling a breeze through. Otherwise, you’ll just depressurize the house and that could lead to all sorts of issues.
MIKE: Yeah, that’s fantastically helpful. So you would not recommend putting it in that area, even if I was to open a window? You say don’t put it in the cathedral-ceiling portion of the home?
TOM: Depends on how big that attic is. If I had a really small attic that was just barely big enough to fit that fan, I probably wouldn’t do it.
Well, fall is upon us. And with all those leaves falling from the trees, have you ever noticed how many people like to burn those leaves, Les?
LESLIE: I mean it’s amazing that a lot of people really do. But it’s not really the best idea because flames can easily spread. Plus, you’re giving up all the nutrients that may have helped feed your yard.
Now, a much safer option is to toss those leaves into a compost bin. And that can nurture flowers and vegetable gardens come springtime. Now, if you do have a lawn mower that’s suited for mulching, you can also run it over the leaves. And those chopped-up pieces will help feed the grass as it remains dormant throughout the winter months.
TOM: Yeah. And of course, if your town offers leaf pickup, lucky you; you’ll be able to just rake them to the curb. And here’s a trick for that, though. Lay out a tarp on the grass and rake the leaves onto the tarp. Then drag the tarp to the curb. It is totally so much easier and faster than having to rake them all the way to the curb or put them even in a smaller wheelbarrow and move them. Just throw them on the tarp and then drag the tarp and then pull the tarp out from under it and you will be good to go.
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: Jumping into some emails, we’ve got Jim in New Jersey who says, “I’ve recently had a new roof installed and now I am noticing nail pops on the ceiling. Can I drive the nails back through and patch and paint over?”
TOM: A-ha. Yeah, that’s what most people try to do with nail pops. Nail pop, by the way, if you’re not familiar with this, it’s when you have a nail that sort of backs out of the drywall and sort of takes a little bit of the spackle with it. Usually it’s about the diameter of a quarter. Now, if you try to drive it back in, it’s just going to come back out again.
What you want to do is take another nail and overlap the head of the loose nail. Don’t even take the loose nail out. Just overlap it and drive it in. This way, you’re kind of going into some fresh wood with that new nail.
Now, if you do take it out, you could replace it with a drywall screw. Either way, you’re going to have to spackle and spot-prime and you should be good to go. And by the way, seeing nail pops does not mean you have a big structural problem. A lot of people freak out when they see that. It’s pretty much normal. Normal expansion and contraction and normal movement of the house causes that to occur.
LESLIE: And Jim, nail pops are often confused with Hanson’s newest song. “Nail pop, bop-pop, doo-bop. Paint the ceiling, nail pop, hmm-hmm.”
Oh, was that wrong? That was not right.
TOM: I don’t know. I think it should be.
LESLIE: Right? Alright, Hanson, if you write that, I get some of the royalties.
TOM: Well, did you know that the sheets you sleep in can have a big impact on whether or not you’re getting a full night’s sleep? Leslie has tips on the best bedding for getting some shut-eye, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Luxury bedding does go a long way toward a good night’s sleep but it takes a lot to sort through all of those options. There’s thread counts and fabrics. It’s so much to just even make you tired reading all about it. But before you go dropping the dollars in upscale linens, you need to know exactly what each one is offering and what their drawbacks are.
Now, bamboo sheets aren’t just soft, they are super-ridiculously soft. A lot of people will say, “Oh, my goodness, they feel like cashmere. And the more you wash them, the softer they get.” But if they’re from China – and a lot of these bamboo sheets are – there’s a chance that they come from an uncertified factory. So, skip bamboo sheets if all of this uncertainty about where they come from is going to keep you awake at night. But I tell you, they are super-duper-duper soft.
Now, organic Egyptian cotton sheets, they’re also very sought-after and with good reason. They’re soft, they’re durable, they’re breathable. They really are good for anyone who gets warm in the middle of the night. But if you love the sight of a crisp bed, you’re not going to love the look of Egyptian cotton because they wrinkle very easily. And then the bed always kind of looks messy, no matter how neatly you make the bed. So, if you’re like me and you want your bed to look super crisp, this is going to drive you a little nutty. But boy, do they feel good.
Now, when it comes to luxury sheets, again, cultivated silk sheets, these are the ultimate in softness. But even if you can afford to splurge on these expensive sheets, the long-term costs might be more than you bargained for because silk sheets are going to easily be damaged by, say, a jagged toenail or a fingernail or just rough skin on your feet or your elbows. And forget about that washer/dryer to clean them. You have to handwash them and then hang them out to dry or dry-clean them. So, it’s a lot of work. But boy, do they feel good. And they’re supposed to make your hair feel really nice in the morning and not get all knotty. And your skin gets better.
I mean I don’t know. There’s a lot of hullabaloo about sheets. I just need to find a good pillow. So, let’s start with pillows and bedding and really help us get a good night’s rest.
TOM: There you go.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’re a DIYer and you have a garage, you can bet there are many projects that get worked on in that space. But in winter, that gets a lot more difficult. We’re going to share the best options for adding heat to your garage, 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.
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