- Storage Sheds: Need a new shed to gain some outside storage? Get ideas to suit your style and budget.
- Concrete Crafts: Who knew you could be creative with concrete? We’ve got info about fun and easy craft projects you can create with concrete.
- Removing Ivy: Ivy may look lovely, but it can damage your home’s exterior and attract pests. Here’s how to remove ivy and prevent it from taking root again.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Underground Roofs: Replacing the large roof on a unique underground home may be a challenge. Stan finds out which professionals he should speak with to design specs for the job.
- Basement Flooring: Should Mary install new carpeting in her basement or are there other flooring products she should use instead? We offer tips on better options for basement flooring.
- Garage Door Openers: When Bob’s garage door opener stops working, he wants to know if he should get a surge protector for the circuit board. Tom thinks it’s unusual but trusts the brand he’s considering.
- Floor Joists: Does an old kitchen floor need to be reinforced to support the weight of appliances? Tom tells Laura how to prevent sagging floors.
- Converting to a Gas Dryer: How hard is it to run a gas line to convert from an electric dryer to a gas model? Abram finds out it’s not difficult but should be done by a professional to avoid dangerous risks.
- Home Addition: When is a deck renovation really a home addition? Tom answers Diane’s questions about adding a closet and laundry room off her bedroom.
- Cedar Deck: After Tom builds a new cedar deck, we offer steps on how to preserve it.
- Shallow Roofs: What materials should you use on a shallow roof? Charlene finds out what she should use to replace the existing asphalt shingles on her roof with a shallow pitch.
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 to help you get projects done around your money pit. If you are thinking about getting something done now or want to plan a project for the fall or you’ve got something that’s bugging you – maybe the floor is squeaking or the toilet’s leaking or you want to update the kitchen cabinets or the bathrooms or the countertops or the lighting – hey, now would be a really good time to reach out to us because hey, that’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been doing for over 20 years and we love our job.
I especially love my job because before this, I used to spend a good part of my day crawling through very hot attics and then bellying through very damp, nasty crawlspaces and finding termites and stuff like that. And this is much easier, Leslie, I’ve got to say. You know, just going to the studio, really do appreciate that.
But most importantly, we appreciate you and we love helping you with those projects. So reach out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, hey, are you overflowing with yard tools and pool toys and lawn chairs and kid bikes, wondering what to do with all that stuff when the weather starts to chill? Well, you might be ready to build a shed. Whether you want to do that to just store the overflow or create that perfect man cave or she shed or we shed, these projects are more popular than ever and we’re going to have some pro tips to help you do it right.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, when you think about crafting projects, what comes to mind? Scrapbooking? Needlepoint? How about concrete?
TOM: Yeah, that’s my material of choice for a project: concrete.
LESLIE: Yeah. You can craft with concrete, so we’re going to share some tips …
TOM: You can.
LESLIE: You can. So we’re going to share some tips on a whole new way to create fun and useful craft projects using this very sturdy building material.
TOM: And you might think of ivy as a way to make your home look distinguished. But did you know that it can also wreak some pretty serious havoc on your siding and cause major carpenter-ant problems? We’re going to have tips on the best way to manage those creepy vines.
LESLIE: But first, let us know what you are working on in these last few summer weekends. Maybe you’ve got an outside project, maybe you’re finally making that deck beautiful to enjoy those last few weeks of summer. Well, whatever it is, give us a call, let us lend you a hand.
Plus, we’ve got a great giveaway this hour, courtesy of Trex who just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit at Lowe’s. Now, Trex has provided us a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with that project.
TOM: So, give us a call, right now, with your questions. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you might just win that $500 gift card to Lowe’s. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT; that’s 888-666-3974. Or post your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Stan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STAN: Oh, well, I had just bought a house that was built in 1995. It’s a 4,000-square-foot underground home.
TOM: Wow. That sounds neat.
LESLIE: And it’s not a transformed missile? I’ve been to Oklahoma and I’ve seen these missile-launching areas that have been sort of retaken over and turned into homes.
STAN: No, this is actually an underground concrete structure that was specifically built to be a house.
TOM: Do you get to mow your roof?
STAN: Yes, I do.
TOM: Very cool. So, what can we help you with?
STAN: Well, I knew when I bought this that it had a few leaks. And being that the house is getting close to being 20 years old, I feel that it’s time to probably remove the dirt and expose and probably replace the roof and especially since I have some leaks. And I’m having trouble finding somebody that deals with any kind of underground structure/home and especially in a roof/ceiling of that nature.
And I was curious if – I mean I’m sure this is probably going to be an expensive undertaking. But furthermore, after I go back and get it all done, when I find the contractor to do it, what may be – is there some care/preventative maintenance that – how I care for that underground roof system, so I’m not coming back at a later date and time and going back through the same process.
TOM: There’s no way we could give you the answer to that question but we can give you some advice on how to approach it.
What I would do is I would find an architect to spec out this roof project, because it’s a big project, 4,000-square-foot roof. And I would have an architect or an engineer spec out the project. Let them do the research on what are the most viable materials out there right now, available, to replace this roof with. And have them provide – prepare a specification for that.
It’s worth the investment because then with that spec, you can bring it to qualified contractors. And I would guess, probably, the best contractors would be those that do commercial roofing, not residential roofing. And have them follow this specification exactly. I would not try to find a roofing contractor that has their own personal idea of how to do this, because you’re not going to find somebody that’s experienced in these homes; it’s too unique. But if you find a building professional that could spec this out for you, do the research on the best way to replace that roof, that spec will be very valuable to you.
STAN: Perfect. That’s a great idea. Never even thought of that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Stan.
STAN: Hey, guys, I appreciate it.
TOM: Got to work – we’ve got to work smarter, not harder, right?
STAN: That’s right.
TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
STAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.
LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?
TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.
So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”
Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.
MARY: I really like the carpet down there.
LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.
TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. Things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.
MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?
TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.
MARY: OK, thank you.
TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, how’d you guys like to win a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with some projects? Well, you can do that because we’ve got an amazing giveaway, courtesy of Trex. Now, they just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit at Lowe’s and they’ve given us a $500 Lowe’s gift card to help you get started with that project.
Now, the Trex Transcend Deck Kit includes all the Trex materials required to build a 12×16-foot Trex deck. And that includes Trex’s top of the line Transcend Decking, Trex Fascia and Trex Hideaway Hidden Fasteners. Now, these fasteners are very cool because, essentially, it means you’re not going to see any nails or screws in that beautiful Trex deck surface.
Now, you could order this deck kit, which is one click on Lowes.com. You’ll get all the Trex products you need. They’ll have it ready for pickup or you can ship it directly to your project site.
The Trex Transcend Deck Kit is available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com and that $500 gift card to Lowe’s from Trex is going out to one very, very lucky listener who reaches us with their home improvement question. And yes, you must have a home improvement question in order to qualify for this drawing. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT with that question or head to MoneyPit.com, click the blue microphone button and record your question right there.
LESLIE: Bob in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BOB: Yes, I have a faulty garage-door opener, diagnosed by the manufacturer as having a bad circuit board. And the question I have to have is with regard to surge protection of garage-door openers. And there are two types that I can identify: one like you might use for your electronic equipment and a special garage-door opener made by a company (audio gap) Chamberlain, that has not only protection for the basic motor and the circuit board but also for the control panels.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, are you going to repair the garage-door opener and put the new circuit board in it, Bob?
BOB: Yes. Because it’s under warranty and they will replace the part for free but the labor I have to pay.
TOM: Yeah, that’s kind of an unusual thing to happen. I actually have never heard of a board like that failing but OK. It can happen.
So now what you want to do is – you’re thinking that that could have been caused by an electrical surge and you want to protect from that?
BOB: Most people I talk to do not have surge protectors on their garage-door opener.
TOM: No, most people don’t. And I would be hesitant to probably add one, because I think this is probably an anomaly. But I will say this: if you are going to put this on and Chamberlain makes one, I would definitely trust that brand. I know a lot about that brand and the people behind it and it’s a good brand. They make good products. And so, if they’re offering something that does this, I wouldn’t be hesitant to invest in it.
BOB: Yeah, that sounds good, yeah. All these little devices we have around the house – you have garage-door openers and microwaves and stuff like that – they’re all susceptible to surges of sorts.
TOM: But generally, you put surge protection on your main panel, not on – not necessarily on every appliance. And sometimes you put them on computers and that sort of thing but this is a very unusual circumstance. But if you’re going to put something on and Chamberlain makes a product for that, I would trust it.
BOB: OK. Very good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, homeowners have always had sort of a love/hate relationship with backyard sheds. We love the extra storage space but we hate the way they look. You know, building one is not as easy as it seems and maintaining a shed is a job that feels like it never ends. But whether you’re just a little tight on outside storage or maybe you want to build a she shed or a man cave, there are four important things to consider.
TOM: Yeah. First up is the cost. An average shed today is between about $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the materials you choose and whether you go DIY or you hire a pro to build it for you. But whether you decide to do that or do it alone, there are several basic questions you need to ask yourself first before you start that shopping process.
And first one is, what’s the size and style going to be? Because you need to decide if you need something that’s simple and utilitarian or do you want something that’s really decorative and ornate? There’s just tons of different styles and sizes out there. So evaluate your home, check out the property thoroughly to determine the best style for your needs.
And one trick to make the design fit in, so to speak, is to choose a style that matches your home’s roofline. If it fits the roofline, it’s going to look like it was always there. And if it doesn’t, sometimes it looks totally out of place. For example, if your home has a gable roof, building a shed that’s got a barn-style roof is not going to look right. So, think about that and decide what size and what style you’re going to build.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, budget. If you’ve got a tight budget, you can design a simple shed that’s going to get the job done but not necessarily have all of those frills. If you’ve got a little extra wiggle room, you can look for added features, such as integrated shelving maybe inside, decorative trim on the exterior. Or you can go all out man cave or she shed, add some electricity, heat, plumbing, running water, whatever you want. Let’s make it really awesome in there.
TOM: Yeah. And finally, let’s talk about permits. This is really important. You need to check your local building-property codes to determine if you need a building permit to build a shed on your property.
There are two or three different types that could apply. We could be talking about a building permit, a mechanical permit and a zoning permit, which basically says how many accessory structures or extra buildings you can have on your property. You don’t want to find out if you’ve finished that shed that it’s got to come down because it violated some building codes or a zoning ordinance. So make sure you do that in advance. This way, when it’s complete, you can get to filling it up with all that stuff and you’ll have some great storage space to enjoy in the years to come.
LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line and wants to rearrange the kitchen.
How can we help you?
LAURA: It’s an old house. The house is 100-plus. And right underneath – right underneath – the kitchen floor, there is a portion of the floor that doesn’t have a beam under it. But we would like to put an appliance there. We would like to place an appliance there. So, we just need something that would just support it gently, just in case too much weight.
TOM: So, generally speaking, floor structures are designed to hold a refrigerator. They’re not that heavy. If you wanted to beef up the structure of that area, your kitchen already has existing floor joists. So the girder will go perpendicular to those. It’s not a true girder in the sense that it wouldn’t be supported with its own foundation.
But what sometimes many folks will do is they’ll put a girder-like beam underneath those floor joists, on some Lally columns, maybe supported by a very small foundation that might be a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square pour of concrete, so that you can kind of take the bounce out of the middle of those beams.
Sometimes, if you have long beams in a house or long floor joists in a house, you’ll get kind of a bounce when you walk across the floor. And that can make it feel weak, even though maybe it’s not but it just has more flex than you’re accustomed to. So putting in the additional beam perpendicular to the floor joists can eliminate that. It’s not going to hold up more than that beam, so it doesn’t need to be substantially supported. But I think, still, you could do – a carpenter could do a good, clean job and give you that additional support that’s going to make you feel comfortable. Does that make sense?
LAURA: Oh, yes, it does. OK. Now, if there is a dirt floor, would it be wise to put down a cement foundation?
TOM: So you wouldn’t – you would support it by columns and the bottom of the column would be supported by concrete, not necessarily a complete floor. But what, generally, you’ll do is dig out maybe a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square hole, fill that up with concrete and have the column sit right on top of that.
Again, it’s not the same kind of foundation that you would use to put a beam up that was holding up the entire house. But what you’re really doing here is just sort of taking the bounce out of that floor and giving it a little bit of additional support.
Laura, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Abram in Arizona is on the line looking to run a gas line for a dryer.
How can we help you?
ABRAM: I have a home that has an electric outlet for the dryer.
ABRAM: But I want to run a gas line to it because I have a gas dryer. I’m in Goodyear, Arizona, so it’s not like I desperately need a dryer. I could just set it out (inaudible) and it would dry.
TOM: Yeah, right. Exactly.
ABRAM: But I would like to run a gas line for the heat versus using the electric.
TOM: Now, does the house already have gas hooked up to it?
ABRAM: Yes. The hot-water heater and the kitchen both have gas.
TOM: OK. So, running a gas pipe, you know, is generally a job for a plumber because if you get it wrong, you could cause a serious issue. But essentially, what you’re going to need to do is to tap into that existing gas line at the place that it makes the most sense to do that, depending on the layout of the line. You’re going to need to obviously have a valve before that so you can do this work or you can turn the gas off at the meter to do the work. And then you’re going to have a valve at the end of it. And then you’re going to have a flex gas line that goes from that valve into the dryer itself.
So, it’s not a terribly complicated project to do but if you’ve not worked with gas piping before, it’s not the kind of job that I would generally recommend be your first do-it-yourself project because of the danger of it, getting it wrong.
ABRAM: OK, OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Take care, sir. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Diane in Illinois who needs some extra storage space at her money pit.
How can we help you today?
DIANE: Well, I have a deck off of our master bedroom. And it’s a 12×12 deck and I want to turn it into a walk-in closet. And I want to bring my washer and dryer from the basement upstairs and put it into that closet.
TOM: Well, this sounds like a good project, Diane, but I have to tell you that, generally, when people try to convert a deck into a finished room – I’ve seen it done many, many times, especially in the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector – it just doesn’t work, for a lot of reasons.
And I can understand that you want it to flow nicely into the house and all of that but you’re really talking about an addition here. And if you’re going to build an addition, you typically were going to build it different than a deck. What I would recommend is that even though this is a small project, it’s a complicated project. Because not only do you want a closet, you also want laundry there.
I think this is a great opportunity for you to consult with an architect, because you have a lot to do to get this done correctly. And you also don’t want to make it look like it’s sort of slapped on the outside of your house, because it’s going to detract from your home value.
But every single time I’ve seen somebody try to take a deck and convert it into living space, it’s never worked out too well. It might be that you can preserve some of the framing and maybe incorporate it in there but it’s going to now be living space. It’s going to have to be heated, it’s going to have to be cooled, it’s going to have to have wiring, it’s going to have to have plumbing. It’s an addition; it’s no longer going to be in a deck. So while that space might fit well for it, starting with the existing deck doesn’t always make the most sense, OK?
DIANE: OK. So what would – we would have to just tear that deck down and start over or …?
TOM: You may. But that’s why I say – let’s not speculate on this and let’s not make a wrong step. This is a type of project where you are well advised to hire an architect. It’s not going to be an expensive consulting fee because it’s a small project. But it’s really smart to do that in this situation because you’ll find out what you can save and what you have to tear down. You won’t make a costly mistake.
DIANE: OK. I didn’t want anything falling off the house and tearing the roof apart. And I didn’t want to have to do all of that, so I appreciate your advice.
TOM: Well, concrete is a material we usually think about for heavy-duty uses, like sidewalks or foundations. But it’s actually a really popular product that you can use for fun craft projects.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? This comes from QUIKRETE. They’ve got a bunch of videos on their website with concrete crafting projects. And one I thought was really neat-looking was making concrete vases. And they’re actually super easy to do. Now, QUIKRETE has the step-by-step on their site but generally, here’s how it works.
First, you pick up some QUIKRETE Concrete Countertop Mix. While it’s a high-strength product that’s designed for a countertop, it really does work great for casting projects, like making these vases or even pendant lights. Now, it comes in two colors: gray and white. And it’s designed to flow exactly where you need it to.
So, to make your vase, you take a plastic bottle and drill a hole in the top that’s big enough to fit a pen, candle, test tube, something like that. Really, anything tube-shaped is going to work because the tube will become the hole for your flowers.
Then, just turn that bottle upside-down, cut off the bottom and fill it with the concrete mix. About a day later, you cut away the plastic from the concrete. And at that point, the concrete’s going to be solid but the edges are still going to be soft enough for you to sand away any of the rough spots.
And what you’re left with is a vase in the shape of the inside of the bottle that you used as a mold. And that tube becomes the holder for the beautiful flowers that you’re going to add. I mean it’s really a great project and such an interesting use for such a durable building material. I really like these types of things.
TOM: And the QUIKRETE Countertop Mix is basically all you need to get this done. So everything else you probably can find right around your house.
You can check out the entire video at QUIKRETE.com. Just click on the how-to videos. That’s QUIKRETE.com. QUIKRETE, it’s what America is made of. And if you take on this project, it might be what some beautiful concrete vases will be made of, too.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners, what are you working on this weekend? Well, we can help you get that project done right or maybe even give you a bigger and better project to work on.
We’ve got an amazing giveaway today, courtesy of Trex. Now, they’ve just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit at Lowe’s. So, of course, Trex has provided us with a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with that project.
Now, the Trex Transcend Deck Kit, that’s going to include all the materials that you need to build a 12-foot by 16-foot deck with Trex’s top of the line Transcend Decking, Trex Fascia and Trex Hideaway Hidden Fasteners.
The Trex is high-performance, it’s eco-friendly. It’s made of a composite so it’s super durable and eco-friendly. It’s made primarily from recycled material, so it’s going to retain its beauty for decades and also require very minimal upkeep. This is great. Looks good, easy to take care of. You’ve got to love it. So, guys, you can spend more time enjoying rather than maintaining. That is the benefit of a Trex composite deck.
Now, you can find the Trex Deck Kit exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. But we’ve got a $500 Lowe’s gift card going out to one very lucky listener who reaches out to us with their home improvement question.
TOM: And yes, you’ve got to have a home improvement question. You can’t just say, “I want to be entered into the drawing.” Because we do get some of those.
LESLIE: “I want the kit.”
TOM: “I want the kit. I want the card.” But reach out to us. We want to hear from you. We want to hear about those questions, whether it’s an inside project, an outside project. Maybe you need help planning that deck project. Whatever it is, the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com. Just click the blue microphone button.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Nebraska on the line with a decking question.
How can we help you today?
TOM IN NEBRASKA: I’m building a cedar deck and I’m trying to figure out which products to use in order to preserve the life of it.
TOM: OK. Well, cedar is a good choice because it’s naturally insect-resistant, so you don’t have to worry so much about decay. But if you want to stop it from cracking and checking and splitting, which it’ll do simply from exposure to the sun, then you really need to think about putting a product on it that’s got a UV protectant in it, like a stain.
Now, since it’s brand new, I might suggest, in this particular case, a semi-transparent stain that’s going to give it some UV protection. It’ll help even out the color and it’ll protect it from the cracking and the checking that goes on.
You can pretty much put it on right away but sometimes when people put – build cedar decks, they want to enjoy them for a few months, just until they start to gray a bit and then they’ll stain them. So the choice is yours but a semi-transparent stain would be a good option for you right now.
TOM IN NEBRASKA: OK, cool. I wasn’t sure what to do, you know? I appreciate it, man.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you might think that ivy is a way to make your home look distinguished. But did you know that it can also wreak some serious structural havoc?
TOM: Well, it definitely can. Ivy does look beautiful. It looks distinguished. And I’ll tell you, growing up in an old house with some stone walls, it can be beautiful. But the truth is that ivy can destroy masonry walls. It can attract carpenter ants. And it even can attract rodents, like rats. And if it gets bad enough, it can kill trees.
We had ivy that was strangling one of our trees in our yard. And what I ended up doing was I had to actually take the chainsaw and I cut through the ivy vine, which had grown to be probably about 2 inches in diameter. And then once I did that, of course, everything above it dried out and eventually fell off. Took about 2 years, by the way. But the tree’s doing great as a result.
TOM: It did. Yeah.
LESLIE: My goodness. So we have wisteria and the wisteria – I didn’t plant it. I mean I happened to love it. But it takes over everything, same thing. So when we were doing the driveway and I was trying to clean some stuff up, I was just hacking away at these massive roots. And I’m still kind of waiting to see what parts are going to fall off of what. I’m like, “Does that one look brown? Maybe I got that one. I don’t know.” It’s hard to tell because these things – the ivy, the wisteria – they grow very quickly and very aggressively.
Now, is there a way for us to enjoy ivy or any of these climbing plants like this without them causing any trouble?
TOM: I think the trouble is that you need to basically stay on top of it because it is so aggressive. And when it grows on your house, it has little tendrils that go out and they grab like little fingers; they just really hold on. And even when you pull it off, you see some of this plant material behind. And if your house is the type that needs to be painted, you’ve got to scrape right through all that stuff. So it adds to all that work, too. So I don’t know. It’s a tough plant to have on – to have around your house.
So what I would do is, first of all, I would scrape the siding and remove the dead branches and remove those leaves. Make sure you get those little tendrils off. Those ivy stems that you see, cut them close to the ground with loppers. For trees, this is really effective. Collect that ivy and stuff into trash bags so it doesn’t re-root. And then brush herbicide onto the leaves of an ivy stem. And that actually with soak into the stem and kill the root structure, as well. So it’s a matter of just kind of staying on top of it.
And I’ll tell you, it took literally years of constant work for me to cut back the amount of ivy that we had around our house. I told you about that one big, big vein that was going up the tree. The reason I didn’t pull it off right away is because, first of all, it was locked on there. But as it dried out, it was easier for me to pull it off and I just didn’t see the need to kind of climb up the tree to get it all off manually. But it did come down.
But the other problem was we had ivy that was going along the side of the yard. And I rented a rototiller. I had to keep stopping like every couple of minutes to cut the vines off the blades of the rototiller because it just wouldn’t cut them. It would just sort of run up the rototiller like a spindle.
So, it’s tough stuff. That’s why you’ve really got to stay on top of it to make sure it doesn’t take over your house.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, enjoy it carefully, everyone.
Charlene in Louisiana is on the line with a roofing question.
What are you working on?
CHARLENE: I have a shallow roof on my house. They call it a “2:3 pitch.” It’s not flat but it’s very shallow, OK? Almost no attic, about maybe 2 feet in there. I was interested in an aluminum roof, like a lifetime roof? And I wanted to know which would be better: that or a regular shingle roof, like an architectural roof.
TOM: You don’t have the pitch for an asphalt-shingle roof. You need to have at least a 3:12 or a 4:12 roof to put in shingles.
CHARLENE: Well, I have shingles on it now and they’ve been there for 20 years.
TOM: I’m telling you, you may but it’s not right. You can only put shingles on a roof that’s got a minimum pitch of 3:12 or 4:12. And if you’ve got them on there right now, count your blessings but it shouldn’t have been put on there. And any roofing manufacturer will tell you that.
If you – your options, therefore, are either to do, say, a rolled roofing or a rubber roofing or a metal roof, as long as it’s rated for that low pitch. And I think a metal roof is a great investment if you’re going to be there for the long haul. But that’s what I would invest in because with that low of a pitch, you probably don’t see it very much and you want to make sure that it’s really going to be watertight. And with a low pitch, you just can’t use an architectural shingle; it just won’t work.
LESLIE: John writes: “I recently purchased a home that needs some TLC and I don’t know where to begin.” John says he wants to replace the old furnace and water heater. “One of the bathrooms is in bad shape, but we also need to rip out carpeting and replace hardwood floors. How do you prioritize these projects?”
That’s a good question because you want to do everything at once but financially, it’s overwhelming.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of different sides to that. First of all, this inertia of buying a new place and wanting to change it all at once is something that’s really common. We always tell you to slow down, take on the projects you really want to get done. And this way, the ones that are left, you’ll either get used to it and decide it’s not so bad or you’ll end up doing it anyway. But to try to do it all at once is always a hassle.
But I think the first thing, if you’re buying an old fixer-upper, you want to look at the structure first. Obviously, the foundation and the floor systems. If you got a home inspection done, that should be guidance in terms of that condition. And also the roof. If the roof needs fixing, it’s important to zip up that outside first. And then moving inside, the mechanical systems, because that’s important for the safety and for the efficiency. And then you can take on the kitchens and the baths and the cosmetic improvements, like replacing or refinishing your floors.
But I would make sure that I, first of all, do the structural first, then mechanical and then do all the cosmetic. Now, that might not seem like cosmetic to you but when it comes to a floor versus a heating system that might be old and leaking, you really want to do the heating system first.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I also think with things like bathrooms, you kind of want to live in the space a bit because you might come up with better ideas on how to change that kitchen or the bath or the flow of something. So definitely, structural, mechanical. That’s the way to go.
TOM: Well, if you guys would like to update the look of some dull bedroom furniture, a lacquered dresser or a chest of drawers can do just that. And the sheen doesn’t have to stop there. Leslie has got tips on adding high gloss for some high style, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? What’s your take on lacquered furniture?
LESLIE: I mean I kind of love it. It’s so shiny and when it looks like wet nail polish, it’s just really, really a fantastic finish.
So, even though it’s getting popular again, you have to do a lot of prep work to make sure that you get this done right. You’ve got to sand, you’ve got to seal. You want to make sure, first of all, that you generally give it a good sanding and then thoroughly clean it with tack cloth. The tack cloth is going to get rid of all of those fine sort of sanded particles that are left over from the prep work. And so you’ve got to get rid of that because any sort of little spec really is going to show up in that super-glossy finish. So do that.
Then you want to use only aerosol-spray lacquer. And make sure you protect that work area with drop cloths, newspaper. Make sure that you’re working in a well-ventilated area. And you also want to make sure that if you’re working outside, watch out for the overspray because you may end up with a beautiful outline, just on the concrete next to you because it just got carried away a little bit. So look out for that, as well.
Now, you’re going to want to apply the lacquer slowly and evenly, so hold that spray can about 18 inches from the surface of your project. If you go further than that, you can kind of get an orange-peel dimpled appearance in the lacquer. If you go closer, you’re going to end up with too much lacquer and it’s going to build up, it’s going to run, it’s going to sag. So you kind of have to work slowly, at the right distance and give them even, overlapped sprays. You want to kind of create a pattern, overlap them slightly, several thin coats. Thin coats, guys.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, an energy-efficient home can save homeowners big. But can a home be too tight? Can it be too energy-efficient? We’re going to share how to make sure you’re maintaining a healthy indoor-air environment, on the 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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