- With Spring just ahead, is your deck ready? Sun, rain and even insects can damage your deck’s surface, but a good finish can help keep Mother Nature from ruining your deck surface. Tom & Leslie walk you through the project.
- These days, we spend more time than ever in home offices. We’ll share a couple simple and affordable updates to make your home office space comfortable and productive.
- It’s almost tax time again – while we’re not tax experts we DO have a pretty good handle on which improvements are tax deductible and will share suggestions.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Karen in Nebraska has bathroom tile that is has grout falling out of it.
- Dave from Arizona has a kitchen sink that was installed into his countertop that is starting to fall into the countertop.
- Nicole needs a solution for returning her grout to its bright white color.
- Brian from Iowa has a crack in his bedroom wall that’s keeps coming back and needs a permanent solution.
- Ruth in Michigan wants to know if she can put shutters over her vinyl siding and if so how to do it.
- Tom from Missouri has a garage that was pulled away from his house and wants to know restore it to the way it was.
- Trish in New Jersey wants to know if it’s worth it to move a load bearing wall.
- Donna from Tennessee has an odor in her guest home that won’t go away and needs a solution.
- Steve in Arizona has a gas firepit that is lacking in heat, what can he do to make the fire a little stronger.
- Dot from Wisconsin wants to know how to put a trench into and drain her driveway.
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 it’s time to get to work. It’s spring and time to pick up the tools, start those projects, get outside, spruce up your space. Whether it’s the lawn, the garden, whether it’s a new deck, whether you’re cleaning a patio, whether you’re painting, whatever project’s on your to-do list – and even if you’re still working inside – we are here to help you get those projects done with the right information. If you’ve got a problem, if you’re stuck in the middle of a project, reach out to us. We’ve got years and years of experience diagnosing the stuff that happens to you in your house. And as unusual as it is to you, we’ve probably seen it dozens of times before, maybe hundreds of times before. And we are here to share that knowledge with you to help you create you best home ever.
If you’ve got questions, reach out to us in a couple of different ways. The preferred way is to go to go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, download The Money Pit app and record your question. You’ll be sending it right to the production team and we answer those questions first. Or you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, now that spring is here, is your deck ready? You know, sun, rain, bugs, they can damage your deck’s surface but a good finish can help keep Mother Nature from ruining your deck and protect it for the whole season. So we’ll have tips on how to tackle that job, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And these days, we spend more time than ever in our home offices but improving the space doesn’t require spending a ton of money. We’re going to share a couple simple updates to make your home office space comfortable and productive.
TOM: And it’s almost tax time again. And while we’re not tax experts, we do have a pretty good handle on which improvements are tax-deductible. We’ll share those suggestions.
LESLIE: But first, give us a call, let us know what you are working on. We’ve got a great show for this first weekend of spring. I hope the weather is sunny and wonderful wherever you are and it’s really giving you a hint of what’s to come. So let us help get your money pit in tip-top shape.
But give us a call, post a question. However you want, you can reach us.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Karen in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Yes. I had a tile floor put in my bathroom. And where you walk in, the tile has – the grout has chipped out. And so I called the tile guy and he came and he took that piece of tile out and regrouted it and it’s happening again. Is there something I can use just to seal that up or do we have to regrout it a third time?
TOM: Well, if the grout is falling out, then sealing it is not going to change anything. It sounds like the grout might have been not mixed correctly, perhaps it was too dry. Is it falling out in the same place that it fell out the first time?
LESLIE: Karen, is it a small tile or a large tile?
KAREN: I think it’s 12×12.
LESLIE: And you’re not seeing any cracks in the tile? It’s just strictly on the grout?
KAREN: Yeah, just the grout is chipping out. And it’s just in the one place: the same place he replaced it.
TOM: Well, when you say he replaced it, did he just sort of fill in the missing areas or did he actually really physically take out all the old grout?
KAREN: He took out the old grout and put in a new tile.
TOM: You’re going to have to have the tile guy come back again, pull out the grout and try it one more time. But have him look this time, carefully, to see if there’s any movement in the floor there that’s causing this to happen. Because I agree with Leslie on this: I definitely think something’s going on there that’s causing it to loosen up. It shouldn’t be happening.
If the grout was not fully removed the first time, then I would think that maybe it just wasn’t adhering. But if it’s completely totally and completely removed and it’s still coming up, then I think that there’s something unstable about that floor surface and that’s why it’s popping up. You’re going to have to get the tile guy involved again. It’s definitely not a maintenance issue.
KAREN: OK. Well, I will do that for sure then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Dave is on the line and has a question about a kitchen sink.
Tell us what the problem is.
DAVE: I have a kitchen sink that is mounted underneath the quartz countertop. The sink was mounted using wood blocks that were glued to the quartz countertop. These wood blocks are now starting to separate from the quartz countertop. The glue is no longer holding the blocks. The kitchen sink is now dropping. I was wondering if this is a DIY project and how I might go about remounting this kitchen sink using a more permanent solution.
TOM: I wonder how long that sink has taken to fail like this. But I feel like probably the best thing to do – I mean the way it was mounted, by gluing blocks to the underside of the quartz top, was not unusual. So, what I think I would do if I was you is I would take out the old sink completely. And it is a bit of a hassle but I would remove it completely. And then I would remove those blocks.
Now, if they’re already loose, this should by pretty easy. If they’re not already loose, you may have to – I probably would use a back saw and cut, basically, between the quartz and the wood block to kind of free it up. A back saw is a saw that’s fairly flat. Or you could use a regular wood saw, as well, as long as you keep it flat to the underside of the surface to separate that. But you get those wood blocks over – off and then you start again.
And in terms of the best material or adherent, I think I would use good, old-fashioned contact cement. I’d put probably two coats of contact cement on the wood block and on the sink. I would get that block positioned right where I want it, contact it. I might even put a clamp on it for a little while, just to make sure it holds really well because it dries pretty fast.
And then, once you put the sink in, you can reattach it, secure it to those wood blocks that you’ve replaced. But I think that you’re going to have to start from scratch. This isn’t kind of a repair as much as it’s just sort of a take it apart, replace what’s there and start over again.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk grout cleaning so things don’t look so yucky with Nicole.
Tell us what’s going on.
NICOLE: I have had trouble trying to get my grout in my bathroom to look white again. And I’ve tried a bunch of different cleaners. I heard that lemon juice and water can work well. Can you suggest anything that would make the grout on my bathroom tiles look brighter and much less dingy?
TOM: As much as we love to suggest very natural cleaners, like lemon juice, when it comes to really dingy grout it’s just not going to cut it.
So, Leslie, I’m thinking this is a situation where you need to use a professional grout cleaner or an even tougher product, which is called a “grout stripper.” That is probably the best material that will really strip into that sort of dinginess and try to get it out.
I had recently needed to regrout a shower. And I found that it also had gotten quite dingy. And I found no matter how hard we cleaned it, we just couldn’t get it white again. So what I did is I used a grout saw and kind of scraped away most of that old grout and then regrouted it. And once again, it looks bright. But I found you never can get it quite as bright as the day it was put in.
What’s your experience been?
LESLIE: It’s just tough to keep white grout looking white and bright. Because you use the space, there’s water, there’s product, there’s all kinds of things. And the grout, when not sealed, is just so porous. So, you’re right. Grout cleaner is definitely the place to start. A grout stripper, that’s the more aggressive of the two.
But with – Tom, with the grout stripper, does it take away such a significant layer that you’d need to reapply any grout? Or is it just a little bit so that you can still work with it and then seal?
TOM: No, it’s a little – right, it doesn’t really disintegrate the grout but it does tend to allow you to get below that first surface of it to get it back to white.
We could avoid all of this if we just create a grout color called “dingy.” And then you’d never, ever have to clean your grout, you know? Look at that.
LESLIE: Oh, I would like the dingy grout, please.
TOM: It’s pre-stained.
LESLIE: That’s wonderful. Could you imagine bringing home that little stick that looks dirty?
TOM: Perfect. It’s like prewashed jeans. Got a little fade to it.
LESLIE: I’ll take it.
TOM: And you pay more for it, by the way.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Iowa where Brian has a crack on the wall that keeps on coming back.
Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Well, yeah, I built this home about 6 years ago and noticed it within the first year, really, that in just one of my bedrooms, I have a crack that comes up from my bedroom going into my bathroom door. And it kind of almost goes up probably close to 2½ feet, 3 feet. And it comes and goes, depending on the year. I’ve finished over it a couple of times on both sides of the wall, into the bathroom and here, and have tried to refinish over it and it keeps coming back. And my builder looked at it. Can’t quite figure it out and …
TOM: This is what we call a Groundhog Day home improvement project, Brian, because it just keeps happening over and over again, right?
BRIAN: Yeah, yeah. It just – you know, I just – originally, I just tried to cover it up and make it look better and …
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s the thing. You’ve got a very normal crack in a wall there. Cracks often form over doors, like exactly what you’re describing there, because that’s a weaker part of the wall. And for whatever reason, you had some settlement in your house and it caused this crack to open up. The fact that you’re spackling it is not going to solve it. It solves it for a season but it won’t solve it permanently.
What you need to do is you need to sand the area of the crack pretty well, because I want you to get out – get rid of all that extra spackle you’ve been putting on there. Then I want you to add a layer of fiberglass drywall tape, which is sort of like a netting. It’s a bit sticky-backed. And then I want you to spackle over the fiberglass netting – over the fiberglass tape – on both sides. Start with a narrow bead of spackle and then open it up wider and wider and wider. And that, on both sides of the wall, will make that wall strong enough to stand up to the movement that will happen the next time the wall expands or contracts.
You can’t just spackle it, because you’re not really doing anything to bridge that gap. You bridge that gap with the tape, spackle over the tape, now you’ve got a permanent repair. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: Yeah, that makes sense.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, staining a deck is a great do-it-yourself, home improvement project. It’s going to extend the life of the deck, dramatically improve the curb appeal of your home and best of all, it doesn’t cost a lot. We explain how, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
First, like any painting or staining project, preparation is key. You want to wash the deck first by applying a deck-wash solution with a pump sprayer. Scrub it in with a soft-bristle brush and then rinse it off.
TOM: Great points. But for the most part, I don’t like pressure washers because they can damage the surface of the deck. So, you want to try to avoid that if you can. Or if you are going to use one, make sure it’s on the lowest pressure setting.
Another suggestion I can offer is to always a fungicide or a mildew preventer. Usually it’s made from borate and you can apply it with a pump sprayer. But don’t wash it off; just kind of let it soak into the wood.
And when the deck is dry, you can go ahead and apply the stain. If you want to make sure that stain actually sticks around a little bit longer, try this little trick of the trade. You want to mix in a little bit of polyurethane. I’d say maybe about a pint of it per gallon of stain. Now, if your stain is latex, make sure the polyurethane is latex and vice versa. Otherwise, you’re going to have a problem where oil and water just doesn’t mix.
LESLIE: Alright. And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Earn three-percent cash back on online shopping. Apply at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line.
How can we help you today?
RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?
TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.
You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?
RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Tom in Missouri is calling in with a pretty crazy question. His garage is pulling away from the house.
Tell us what’s going on.
TOM IN MISSOURI: My garage is pulling away from the side of my house. And we determined it was a gutter-overflow problem and we got that rectified. And now I’m wondering how to get my garage back up where that it’s not pulling away from the house. It’s pulled away an inch or so.
TOM: OK. Once a building moves, because there is water that got under the foundation or whatever caused it to rotate, you can’t shove it back to kind of close that gap. So, you need to get used to it in its present position.
But tell me this: is the gap that’s opened up, is that a problem from a weather perspective? Is water getting into the building?
TOM IN MISSOURI: Yes.
TOM: Does the roof of the garage attach to the side of the building above it or next to it? Is that where the leakage issue is?
TOM IN MISSOURI: Yes.
TOM: Alright. So what you’re going to need to do is you’re going to need to reflash that: essentially take apart the roofing in that area and replace it, reroof that 1- to 2-foot strip between the garage roof and the adjoining building. Because that’s pulled apart, I can only imagine that all of the flashing is extended and there’s lots of places for water to get in there. If you don’t do that, during driving rain the water will get down between the garage roof and the second-floor side wall of your house. And that’s going to cause leaks and rot and all kinds of problems.
So you’re going to have to tear out the roof where it joins the building and replace it. But now that you’ve fixed the gutter problem, you’ve got the foundation stable again, that should really take care of it for the long run.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Trish in New Jersey on the line who’s got a remodeling question.
What are you working on?
TRISH: I have a wall that goes between the kitchen and there’s a set of steps that go down to the basement.
TRISH: My question is – that it’s also a bearing wall. Is it worth it for me to go through the expense of taking this wall out? And then what do I do about the – when you take the wall out, it’s going to drop down to the basement steps right there.
TOM: Right. So, OK, it’s a big project, Trish. Really big project. Because when you take a wall out like that, you have to reinforce all the structure above it first. And you build the reinforcement, then you take the wall out. You reassemble it with different types of structural members – like laminated beams, for example – that run that span and allow you to have that sort of open space.
Now, you raise another good question, like, “OK, what happens to the basement stair?” Well, obviously, you’re going to need a railing there. So, it’s a really big project. I don’t know if that’s going to be worth it for you in terms of what you’re going to get out of this. What are you trying to achieve, from a design perspective?
TRISH: To have an open concept. But here’s another idea. There’s another wall that goes between the kitchen and the dining room and that’s just a small wall, because there’s a doorway there.
LESLIE: Trish, there are some other ways that you can actually make the rooms feel larger. Considering I don’t know the exact floor plan or the situation of the space – but if you’ve got some windows in, say, your dining room, on the wall opposite it, why not put a really large mirror over, perhaps, a service area or some sort of great storage cabinet? Because the mirror will sort of help bounce the light around and open up the space and make it feel larger. Using paint-color tricks, where you slightly change one wall color to a lighter hue in the same family, can make the space feel larger, as well.
Mirrors really are a huge help. I’m not talking about mirroring an entire wall but I am talking about – perhaps some strategically placed, really decorative mirrors will do the trick, as well.
These are all ways – furniture layout. If you can sort of keep the flow more open to encourage a good pass-through, that can help make the space feel larger, as well. So there are ways without taking on major construction projects.
TOM: That’ll make it look so much bigger.
Trish, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guesthouse. Let’s just call it that.
What’s going on, Donna?
DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for 2½ years. And when we purchased the property, the guesthouse had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that, instead of fading over time, is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.
LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?
DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.
TOM: Have you done any painting yet?
DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?
TOM: Yeah. So, you get more moisture and sometimes there could be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.
DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?
TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.
DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …
TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.
DONNA: Hmm. OK.
TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.
DONNA: OK. Very good.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, these days, we spend more time than ever in our home offices. But improving that space to make it great doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot. We’re going to share a couple of simple updates to make your home office space comfortable and productive.
Now, first of all, comfort is key. You can’t be productive unless you’ve got a comfortable chair with good back support. And that doesn’t mean you need to buy some expensive, ergonomic office chair to do so. You can try something as simple as using a foam cushion that’s designed for lumbar support or even a small, decorative pillow that you’ve got around. Or fold up a blanket or roll a towel. Just give yourself some added support around your back, at the back of the chair. You kind of just want to feel supported when you’re sitting for so long.
TOM: Next, it’s a good idea to raise your screen. Not only do we all look better avoiding the chin shot, looking down kind of puts some stress on your upper spine. So, as a rule of thumb, your eyes should be roughly level with the top edge of your monitor. And there are actually lots of inexpensive computer stands out there on the market that make this really easy.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, let’s talk about lighting. You want to review the lighting source that you’re already working with and then look for ways to make those things brighter, lighter, happier. The gold standard here is definitely natural light, which is great for your mood. And some studies even show that it makes you more productive. Bottom line: the brighter the better, whether it’s natural light or manufactured light. Whatever it is, get that space well lit.
TOM: Yeah. And the better light is actually going to make sure that you are Zoom-ready for any video calls. So, make sure you’re facing a light source when you log on. You just want to make sure there’s no bright light behind or all of your Zoom friends are going to see a darkened shadow of your former self. You might even try out a small ring light. But if you want something portable, that’s going to let you be camera-ready from anywhere in your house.
LESLIE: Now, here’s another tip. You don’t want to rely just on your computer and its speakers to be heard. You want to pick up some headphones, if you haven’t already. And choose a pair with a microphone. It’s going to be so much easier for your coworkers to understand what you’re saying when they’re not competing with the background noise. You want to get that mic close to your mouth, because that definitely helps people hear you loud and clear.
TOM: Yeah. And lastly, here’s a tip from doing years of television: make sure what others see in your video looks clean, neat and organized, even if the rest of the space is a total disaster. How many times have folks said, “Oh, your house looks so beautiful,” you know, when we’re doing a segment? And no, it’s actually because I moved all the crap out of the way of the camera shot.
LESLIE: Don’t pan right. Don’t pan right. You’re going to see a big mess.
Steve in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: Yeah, we’ve got a square fire pit out in the backyard. It’s really nice. We bought it about a year ago. It’s got nice, Southern tile on top. And in the middle of it, it’s got a round Lazy Susan. And you take off the Lazy Susan and it’s a fire pit with a stainless-steel fire ring. And we’ve got a bunch of fire glass in there. It’s really nice.
And the – one of the things that we’re disappointed in somewhat is that the flame isn’t really very high on the thing. It’s really a nice kind of romantic, low fire but we’d like to figure out if we could find some way to make that a little more robust. And I’m thinking about just drilling out the holes in the fire ring to – and I’m wondering if that might solve the problem or if I’d be creating more problems than solving.
TOM: Generally, you don’t want to modify a gas burner like that. Was this a manufactured unit that you purchased and installed?
STEVE: Yes. Yeah, it was – it all just came – all we really had to do was just pretty much plunk the thing down and hook up the gas.
TOM: Well, you certainly don’t want to mess with the manufacturer’s design, because that was very specifically designed to do a certain job. And if you start drilling bigger holes in it, you could create something that’s very dangerous.
But let me just ask you this: is this natural gas or propane?
STEVE: It’s natural gas. Yeah, when we landscaped the yard, we had a natural-gas line run out to the area of the yard. Then we poured a really nice, big, oh, 18-circular-foot pad out there. And then the – and then stubbed it right in the middle, so that’s where the fire pit is.
TOM: Alright. Have you checked the gas pressure to make sure that it’s where you expect it to be?
STEVE: No. I’m not really sure, no.
TOM: I would have a plumber check the gas pressure to make sure that the gas pressure is correct. If you have low gas pressure, that could account for the low flame.
The other thing I would do is contact the manufacturer to find out what flame level that’s designed for, because it might be doing exactly what it’s intended to do. And if you add more – if you try to modify that, it could be, certainly, dangerous. So we’d not encourage you to drill out the burner or anything of that nature. I would encourage you to check the gas level – the gas-pressure level – as well as the valves that service it, because something is partially closed or you just don’t have enough pressure coming through that line, for whatever reason. That could also be the solution, as well.
Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s almost tax time again. Hooray. Everybody’s cheering wildly. I mean everybody dreads this time of year but you’ve got to do it. So, while we are not tax experts, we do suffer through this just like everybody else. And one question that we’re frequently asked about, that we do have a really good handle on, is which improvements are tax-deductible.
Now, like everything with our tax system, it’s complicated with plenty of if, ands or buts. However, the basic idea is this: if you’ve made an improvement to your home that adds to its value, prolongs its life or adapts it for a new use, you can add those costs of those additions and improvements to the base value of your home when it comes time to sell, which can reduce the taxes you owe.
TOM: Yeah. Now, some examples of those improvements would include additions – like if you added a bedroom or a bathroom or a deck – or new mechanical systems: heating or cooling or wiring or security or sometimes even a lawn-sprinkler system. You could add some windows, some doors, some siding. Or if you updated your kitchen appliances, wall-to-wall carpet, insulation, those are all potentially deductible expenses.
LESLIE: That’s awesome. Now, here are some things that you cannot deduct: any cost of repairs or maintenance that are necessary to keep your home in good condition that don’t add to its value or prolong its life. That’s something like painting – whether it’s inside or outside – fixing leaks, filling holes or cracks, replacing broken hardware: the normal, day-to-day maintenance stuff and things that just keep it looking nice. That you can’t deduct.
TOM: Now, whichever way you go, be sure to keep good records of what you’ve done and what you’ve spent, because these improvements can help you enjoy your home and reduce your taxes when it comes time to sell.
LESLIE: Dot, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOT: A couple of years ago, we had a driveway put in. We have a house with an attached garage. And they had, oh, graded the driveway, they said, properly so the water would drain away from the house and into the lawn. And we get standing water in our driveway still. And I was just wondering the steps to – the proper steps to put a trench in our driveway and possibly a drain.
TOM: OK. So, it would seem to me that if – you’re talking about water that’s collecting on the driveway itself or on the side of the driveway? There’s a distinction.
DOT: In the driveway and also close to the house and where the driveway meets. And then there’s an attached garage there, also.
TOM: If we were to stop the water from collecting on the side of the driveway, would the top of the driveway still be flooded?
DOT: I think so. Apparently, they graded it …
TOM: Alright. Because it’s easier to put in a curtain drain along the side of the driveway than it is to slice the driveway and insert a drain. Because if you want to try to drain what’s on the driveway, essentially you have to cut a slice into the driveway. It’s not something that you could do; it requires specialized tools. And then a drain is inserted and it’s kind of like a very narrow grate, almost like a box, that’s dropped into the driveway. The driveway is graded to the top of it so that the water can sort of roll in and then fill up the drain and then run out.
If, in fact, that this water is collecting along the side of the driveway, it would be easier, kind of from a do-it-yourself perspective, to add in a curtain drain. The way that works is you would dig a trench that was maybe a foot wide, maybe a foot deep. You’d put some stone in the bottom of that and then you’d put a perforated PVC pipe. You continue to fill that up with stone all around it. You’d add some filter cloth over that and then you would regrade and you would be – it would be completely invisible when it’s done. And of course, it has to be pitched properly and discharged properly, as well.
So, the curtain drain on the side of the driveway is easier than sort of the trench drain where you have to cut the driveway. I would tend to say do the curtain drain first and see how it goes.
LESLIE: Charlie writes in and Charles says, “The wood floors in my home are squeaking, cracking, and popping. What would be the best way to strengthen them? And is spray foam an option?”
TOM: You know, that’s a really interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that as a suggested solution but I kind of know where you’re going with that. Because when you do spray-foam insulation – and this is going to presume that we’re talking about an unfinished basement or a crawlspace that you’re kind of shooting up to get to the other side of the floor. When you use spray foam, it has a big expansion ratio. It expands usually about 100-to-1 when you spray it. And so, that has the sort of effect of not only insulating that space but it also can make it a little more structurally rigid.
That said, it wouldn’t be my first choice for securing loose floors that are making that kind of noise. My first choice would be to pull up the floor covering, which hopefully is carpet and it can be easily put back down. And then, typically, when homes are built, they use nails to secure the plywood to the floor joist. What I would do is I would drive a 2½-inch screw pretty much next to every single nail. Because while the nails can loosen and pull up and they can make quite a racket, the screws never will and they can be driven in place with a screw gun or with a drill with a Phillips tip on it. So it’s definitely a pretty easy project to do once you have that floor covering removed.
But spray foam? Look, if you want to insulate the floor at the same time, sure, why not? I think it’ll definitely help.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got one from Jen who says, “We’re planning to update the look of our home with new siding but we want to select a low-maintenance, long-lasting material. Any suggestions?”
TOM: Yeah. I think the best low-maintenance siding selection for your home is one that is a match for the climate and the geography of your property. Now, vinyl is obviously a super-popular material. It definitely has most of those elements covered and it’s reasonably inexpensive.
But another option that’s going to cost a little bit more, but actually makes your home look pretty amazing, is fiber-cement siding. Products like HardiePlank – the lap siding – or the HardieShingle siding, they’re gorgeous. And in addition, they’re really easy to care for.
I was telling a friend of mine the other day about the HardieShingle siding I put on my garage. Those shingles have been on for (inaudible) probably 25 years and I have never painted that garage. Never had to. It looks as good as the day it was put on. Now, if that was a wood shingle, I would’ve painted it probably three times already.
LESLIE: Maybe. Maybe five.
TOM: Yeah. Because it’s fiber cement, I haven’t had to paint it at all. So I mean if you want to spend a little bit more money, then I think those are good options. But probably the least basic – the least expensive, basic option would be vinyl siding.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Jen? With the vinyl siding, you get a lot of color choices, so you do have some options there. And there’s a lot of accessories to sort of finish up those spaces that match that color vinyl. And with the fiber cement, every so often I just hit our house with the power washer and it cleans some stuff off. But for the most part, I’m at 14 years, I think, with my HardieShingles and they look fantastic. So definitely consider that. Both are a very different look, so it depends on what your house looks like. But I promise you, Jen, you’ll be thrilled.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve been informative in giving you some good ideas for projects to do around your house. If we didn’t get to your question, you can always post it at MoneyPit.com/Ask on the new Money Pit app. It allows you to quickly record your question and send it direct to our production studio. And we will get to those questions first the next time we produce the program.
Until then, 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 2022 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.)