Installing ceramic tile floors #1002172

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  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement or décor projects. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at

    Coming up on today’s program, one of the most popular DIY projects we get asked about is how to install ceramic-tile floors. We’re going to have some tips for choosing the right product for your project, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And there are plenty of smart-home products out there but which ones are the best ones to invest in that are going to keep you and your family safe? We’re going to have expert tips on the best smart locks, smart smoke detectors and smart security cameras to make you feel more at ease in your home.

    TOM: And if you’re planning a home improvement project, you know you have to budget for materials and the cost of a contractor to help. But did you also know you need to budget for the hidden cost of home improvements, too? We’re going to share some of those money drains and tell you how to prepare.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a fantastic giveaway going out to one lucky caller this hour. And it’s a $200 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: You can use it at any of their nationwide stores or online at It’s going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Reach out to us, right now, at or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    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.

    TOM: Yep.

    BRIDGET: But I bought an older home and the addition just has the crawlspace.

    TOM: OK.

    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?

    BRIDGET: Uh-huh.

    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’ve got it, Bridget. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Time to tackle a decking question with Justin in Iowa. How can we help you?

    JUSTIN: Well, one year ago, I moved into a new house and the deck was just put on the previous year. And right before the owner put it on the market, he stained it with, I think, a semi-transparent stain.

    TOM: OK. So far so good.

    JUSTIN: And I would like to use a solid-color stain, if I could, to redo it.

    TOM: OK.

    JUSTIN: So I’m not sure – can I do that, being that there’s already a stain on there?

    TOM: And in fact, solid color is a good choice. We typically do recommend that because it has more pigment and it tends to last longer. So, you want to make sure that you clean the deck very well, because we want to make sure there’s no moss, mildew or algae attached to that deck. Let it dry equally well and then you could apply the solid-color stain right on top of the semi-transparent stain.

    JUSTIN: Sounds easy enough. I really appreciate it.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Justin. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: And if you’re thinking about taking on a tile project, choosing the right look for your home is only part of the job. We’re going to have tips on how to choose the best type of tile for your project, just ahead.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    LESLIE: And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, check out

    TOM: And hey, here’s another great reason to reach out by phone or to The Money Pit community. We’ve got a great prize we’re giving away: a $200 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.

    And Leslie, you could do a pretty good-sized project with that, huh?

    LESLIE: Oh, for sure. I mean really, depending on which product you select, there is so much you can accomplish, especially with the great prices that Lumber Liquidators has to offer. You can choose from over 400 varieties of first-quality flooring, including prefinished hardwood, bamboo, laminate, vinyl plank and wood-look tile. And you can also use your gift card for the finishing touches, you know, like molding and grilles. And get this, guys: if you’re not a DIY-er, you can use that gift card for installation. You really come out a winner here.

    You want to redeem it at or at any of Lumber Liquidators’ stores nationwide. Give them a call at 1-800-HARDWOOD.

    TOM: Going out to one very fortunate listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: James in Illinois is on the line and is looking to make a fire pit at their money pit. What’s going on?

    JAMES: Well, I just want to know what’s the best way to build a fire pit in the ground. Would you use fire brick or would you get those galvanized rings?

    TOM: There’s a really nice fire-pit kit that’s on the market now at Home Depot that’s made by Pavestone. It’s called a RumbleStone Fire Pit Kit. I like it because it contains everything that you need. It’s got the stone, which you can use to create the round fire pit itself, and then it also has a metal insert and a screen. So, basically everything you need is in the box and you can pick it up and put it together and they’re pretty good about giving the instructions and step-by-step. Why don’t you take a look at that?

    I’ve got to tell you, I have a fire pit now but if I was doing it again, I would pick up the RumbleStone Round Fire Pit Kit at Home Depot.

    JAMES: What would – the metal ring that goes around there? How thick is it? And would it rust and you’d have to replace it in a couple years?

    TOM: I’ve had metal fire pits for a number of years and I find that they’re good for five or six or seven years. So I don’t think it’s an every year kind of thing. And this one, in particular, is made of heavy steel.

    JAMES: And what’s the price of that?

    TOM: I think it’s around 400 bucks, maybe 400 or 450 bucks, something like that. But it includes everything, so it’s all in there: the brick, the stone, the metal ring and so on.

    JAMES: OK. Well, I thank you very much.

    TOM: RumbleStone will work very well.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning a new tiling project, you’re probably going to start by narrowing down your selection. There’s so many tile colors and designs to choose from. But before you even get that far, it’s a really good idea to understand the types of tile that are available. So we’ve got some tips, presented by Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: Now, for most projects, you’ll probably be deciding between two types of tile: ceramic tile and porcelain tile. Here’s the differences. Ceramic tile is made from a mixture of special clays and natural materials that are mined from the earth. Then they’re formed into shapes and then heated in kilns.

    These tiles can be naturally colored, they can be left unglazed – like terracotta, which is one of my favorite tiles – or they can feature color or very designed surfaces which could be glazed. Now, most ceramic tile has either a white- or a red-body coloration underneath the glaze, which is where you get, actually, the color. The top color is the glaze. Everything else is either white or red.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, there’s another one. It’s called “porcelain tile” and that’s actually a form of ceramic tile and it’s extremely popular with homeowners. Now, porcelain tiles are made of fine porcelain clays that are fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles are. And this process makes the porcelain tile much more dense, less porous and much harder and also less prone to moisture and stain absorption than their ceramic counterparts. Those are all reasons most porcelain tiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you’ll find the Avella Wood-Look Porcelain Tile. Avella Wood-Look Porcelain Tile is gorgeous, it’s natural-looking and it combines all the beauty of wood with the durability of waterproof tile. It’s great for high-moisture areas, like bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens but it also works well in living rooms, patio areas and even walls.

    It’s available at Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide and online at

    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.

    TOM: Congratulations.

    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.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ernie in Arkansas on the line who needs some help with a flooring project. What are you working on?

    ERNIE: Well, it’s actually my son’s garage and he has a concrete floor, which is at ground level. And I’m really concerned about what kind of carpeting or wood I should put on that floor because I know concrete, of course, breathes and moisture will come up through it. So I want to make sure that I prevent any potential mold or mildew from putting the wrong thing down. Should I seal it first? So I really don’t know what to do. Or should I put some wood down on top of the concrete? I’m at a loss.

    TOM: So, has this garage been converted to an office already, I mean structurally speaking? What’s it look like now?

    ERNIE: No. It’s actually a 1-car garage – 1½-car garage – and it’s about 45, 50 feet long. So the cars are stacked in at – and the back of the garage actually has two nice-sized windows and a door that leads out to a patio. This is in Charleston, South Carolina. So it’s not unusual for them to have the first floor actually one story up. And that’s the way this is structured. And so we did build a wall about 12 feet out from the back. And our – we framed it in with a wall, I should say. And now I …

    TOM: OK. So you framed in kind of the back corner of the garage, it sounds like. Is that correct?

    ERNIE: Yes. That’s exactly right. The back corner. Correct.

    TOM: And how are you cooling and heating that space?

    ERNIE: Well, the – we are thinking about using a window air unit – heat-and-air unit.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    ERNIE: This is a small space.

    TOM: Well, alright. So, one recommendation I might have for you is to look into a split-ductless because a split-ductless could provide both heat and air conditioning. And you wouldn’t have to give up your window for it. The unit kind of hangs on the wall. There’s a very small compressor that goes outside. Of course, it’s more expensive than a window unit but I think it’s a really good option. I’ve used them for years and they’re so quiet. I even have one in our studio because you just can’t hear it. So that’s an option for that.

    In terms of your flooring question, yeah, I think that you probably do want to be concerned about dampness and humidity. What kind of flooring do you want to put in? You mentioned carpet. Was that correct? Because that’s not a great thing to put on top of concrete.

    ERNIE: We were looking at some of that indoor-outdoor carpeting that they have, that they sell in some of the big-box retail stores.

    TOM: I’d rather see you use a flooring that’s more durable for moisture. So a flooring like laminate flooring or engineered-hardwood flooring. And then if you want to bring in a touch of carpet, find yourself a nice throw rug that can look good, like an area rug.

    Yeah, I think having the carpet against the concrete surface – and even if you were to put a wood floor in there – of course, you’d have a step up to that if you did. Having that carpet in close proximity to that concrete is going to make it moist all the time. You have a lot of organic matter that gets trapped inside the carpet, in addition to insects, like dust mites. And so, environmentally, it’s not the healthiest way to go. You could have mold that would form, as well.

    So I don’t think carpet’s the right choice. I would use a laminate floor or I would use an engineered-hardwood floor. Or I might even use tile, which would be fine, as well. And then add yourself an area rug in there and it’ll look nicer, as well.

    ERNIE: Perfect. That’s what we’ll do. Yeah. We just were – we obviously did all the searches on Google and there were multiple responses to it and just didn’t feel comfortable with any of them. So I thought I’d give you a call.

    TOM: Well, that’s why. Because I think carpet on a – and I don’t ever keep carpet in a basement either, for the same reasons. We have carpet in our home on the second floor and it’s wonderful and it’s great when you get out of bed in the morning and you put your foot down on something soft. But an office space like that, you’re going to have a chair that you’re going to want to drag over it. And so you’re going to have to use one of those liners under the chair. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I would say that laminate is probably the toughest, least expensive way to go.

    LESLIE: Well, there are plenty of smart-home products out there but which ones are the best ones to invest in that are going to keep you and your family safe? We’re going to have expert tips on the best smart locks, smart smoke detectors and smart security cameras, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    You know, there are plenty of smart-home products out there but which ones are the best ones to invest in that will keep you and your family safe?

    TOM: To find out, we welcome Dan DiClerico, the smart-home strategist for HomeAdvisor. Dan has tips on the best smart locks, smart smoke detectors and smart security cameras to make you feel more at ease in your home.

    Welcome, Dan.

    DAN: Hey, great to be here.

    TOM: So, smart home – that business and these products – have just gone nuts over the last 10 years. There’s more and more products out there. Kind of hard for consumers to keep it all straight. Why don’t we jump into this by kind of breaking it down into categories? Let’s talk about smart locks first. It’s no longer necessary to carry a key with you, I guess, right?

    DAN: That’s right, yeah. They’ve done away with keys completely. Any smart technology, what it does is it keeps you in contact with your home when you’re away from it, so that’s absolutely the case with smart locks. You can tell if somebody’s coming in and out of the house. But the biggest thing here is that convenience factor: not having to worry about keys. They work with what we refer to in the industry as a virtual key, so that’s something you can give temporary access to, be it a contractor, a house cleaner, a dog walker or somebody like that. So it’s real peace of mind. It really gives you up-to-the-minute knowledge of who’s coming and going in your home.

    LESLIE: Now, how difficult would a smart lock be to install? I’ve got to hire a pro for this? Are there components of it that are manageable by a do-it-yourselfer or not really?

    DAN: Yeah, not really. Any smart device, there’s not just the install of the hardware. You then have to make sure the software is connected into the home. So it more than likely is a professional job. At HomeAdvisor, we see anywhere from maybe $150 – if a standard lock is going to cost you 75 bucks, you may be in for twice as much, perhaps up to $200 for this kind of job. So that’s something you do need to take into account when you’re planning your budget.

    TOM: Yeah, we should mention that you do have a good resource on your website called the True Cost Guide. Is that based on industry averages around the nation?

    DAN: It’s based on real-time data and I really mean that. It’s updated every day based on projects that are completed in your area, by users of the HomeAdvisor site. So it’s really great data and information for getting a sense of what these projects are going to cost you in your neighborhood.

    TOM: That’s super helpful.

    Alright. Let’s talk now about security cameras. I mean with the advent of Wi-Fi being in everyone’s home, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get a good security system, that works together, installed and hooked up. What are you seeing in that security-camera space? What are consumers really driving towards with that product?

    DAN: Yeah, this category is really booming. It hasn’t had the growth yet that we’ve seen with other products – thermostats, smoke alarms, that sort of thing – but I really think that’s going to change in a big way, because the technology is just getting so much better and so much easier. This is one that there are a lot of really nice do-it-yourself cameras out there, brands like Blink, Arlo, Lyric from Honeywell. All of these devices, you probably can hook up yourself provided you’re not – they’re not going too high up on a wall or into a masonry service – surface, excuse me.

    And the beauty, of course, is this is an extra pair of eyes when you’re away from home or perhaps even when you’re inside your home: baby monitors, that type of thing. We’re really seeing a huge explosion in this space, so this is definitely another smart-home product that I recommend for people who are looking to upgrade the security around the house.

    LESLIE: Now, when it comes to installing any of these Wi-Fi or smart-home home security systems, outside of the ones that are do-it-yourself, you’re really starting to get in-depth. Should you have a pro? You want to make sure everything is talking to each other.

    DAN: You do, you do, yeah. So that’s where a – and they go by different names: a technologist, a custom installer. They do have a few different types of names, the professionals who are really expert in making sure all the connected devices in your home are communicating with each other and back to the router and up into the cloud or wherever all the information is being stored. So it’s always a good idea to bring a professional on board, especially if you’re going across the whole house, really trying to make it a truly smart home with everything, from the cameras to the door locks to the smoke alarms.

    TOM: We’re talking to Dan DiClerico, a home expert and smart-home strategist for HomeAdvisor.

    Dan, you mentioned the connectivity of these products. One product that we definitely want to make sure is connected, specifically interconnected, are our smoke detectors and CO detectors, where one goes off, they all go off so that we get alerted anywhere we are in the house. But I guess because they’re smart, we’d also alert your smartphone, too, right?

    DAN: That’s right, yeah. Really nice peace of mind. I have these throughout my home and I’m on the road a lot. Got a family back home, so it’s really good peace of mind for me when I’m on the road. Got a family back home, so it’s really good peace of mind for me when I’m on the road.

    And yeah, exactly as you described. You’re going to get an alert to your smartphone if there’s any kind of issue in the house, whether smoke’s been detected or there’s a carbon-monoxide leak. The nice thing here on top of that is that you can take care of nuisance alarms. And this is something that we know is a real problem. Upwards of 60 percent of fires that break out in homes occur in homes that don’t have a working smoke-detector device. And we all know how easy and common it is to disable those things because they’re beeping in the middle of the night. So the ability to control those nuisance alarms, just from your smartphone, is a real benefit of the smart product.

    TOM: Well, that’s great advice. Dan DiClerico, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, the smart-home strategist for HomeAdvisor and their home expert.

    Hey, if you’d like to check out some of Dan’s content, you can go to And of course, that’s the place to go if you need to hire a pro to get any project done around your home.

    Thanks, Dan, and have a great day.

    DAN: Thanks, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Dan.

    Hey, if you’re planning a home improvement project, you know you have to budget for materials and the cost of a contractor to help. But did you also know you need to budget for the hidden cost of home improvements, too? We’re going to share some of those money drains and tell you how you can prepare, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, what are you working on? Give us a call with your how-to question, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.

    TOM: And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    Hey, are you a home-improving weekend warrior? Then we have got a fantastic sweepstakes for you. Launching October 1st, we’ve partnered with The Home Depot on a sweepstakes that will clearly make tool hounds drool – at least it did for us – with a shot of winning some of the coolest tools from the aisles of The Home Depot. And there is a lot we are giving away.

    LESLIE: Yeah, The Money Pit Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes features over $4,500 in prizes. First prize up for grabs – we’ve only got one of them – is a beautiful Milwaukee tool set. It’s a 16-Drawer Tool Chest and Rolling Cabinet Set filled with a 6-Tool M18 FUEL 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Combo Kit. That’s massive and this storage kit is awesome. You can store all your tools in there. Everything’s got a place.

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    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: I know the name makes you think you’re going to be working on your car but let me tell you, you will find the right wrench for whatever it is that’s going on at your house.

    We’ve got some third place prizes up for grabs: a RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ System and 25 of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Lots of great prizes up for grabs.

    TOM: Absolutely. Get all the details now and enter at You could even increase your chances of winning by entering once a day and sharing the sweeps on social media with your friends. It’s online, right now, at

    LESLIE: Mike in Georgia is on the line with a question about flooring. What’s going on at your money pit?

    MIKE: Well, Leslie – well, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a problem. We had to pull up some carpet on the floor where it’s kind of L-shaped. Well, the old hound dog is kind of old and kind of urinated right there in one spot. Short of pulling up the floor and replacing all that, what can we do?

    TOM: So, do you want to refinish the floor? And are we talking about hardwood floors here, Mike?

    MIKE: Well, it’s got a blonde finish, more or less translucent.

    TOM: Well, I think if you’re going to refinish the floors and you sand those floors, you’ll be able to get through that surface staining and you want have too much residual. It’s way – we’re way past talking about how to clean it. But what happens is you get acid in there from the pets and that can change the color. But it’s been my experience that a traditional floor sanding will cut through that without too much difficulty.

    So if you’re thinking about refinishing the floors, what I generally recommend is – even if you want to do some of this yourself – is to have a professional do the sanding. Because unless you use a floor sander as part of your day-to-day job, it’s kind of a hard tool to handle. I grew up with tools my entire life. I wouldn’t do my own floor sanding. I’d hire a pro for it so I didn’t ruin my floors. If you sneeze while you’re using that, you’ll dig out of it. And then you could put two or three coats of good-quality polyurethane on top of that but I think a sanding will make that go away.

    MIKE: Alright. Well, I appreciate your advice, sir. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, if you’re planning a home improvement project, you know you have to budget for materials and the cost of the labor to help, right? But did you also know you need to budget for the hidden cost of home improvements, too? We’ve got ideas that can help out, presented by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation.

    LESLIE: Alright, now the first one, guys, is eating out. If your house is down for the count, your kitchen is, too. So that means you are eating out a lot more. From the local pizza place’s number you now know by heart, to the times that you need to escape the mess and just dine outside altogether, that food budget is going to go way, way up. Not to mention your waistline, because all those foods that you prepare out of doors or you get outside are a lot more high in calories. I just always see that.

    TOM: Absolutely. Now, you want to make sure you ask your contractor if any of the home improvements planned are going to require you to leave the home and for how long. For example, when we insulated our home, we used Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. And unlike other spray foams, Icynene is GREENGUARD-certified and it allows you to reoccupy your home just two hours after application. So that means we didn’t have to get out for very long and our lives could pretty much continue as is. So, it’s an important question to ask.

    LESLIE: Yeah, now another thing you need to really think about is whether or not you skip that building permit. Now, you might think that permits are the responsibility of the contractor but that’s not always the case. And skipping that permit can cost you big in construction mistakes that don’t get caught or even problems when it does come time to sell your house.

    TOM: Yep. And lastly, not checking insurance. Before you start your project, it’s important that you make sure anyone working on your property carries workman’s compensation insurance to cover any injuries they may sustain. And if you’re improving your house, you’re driving up the value of your house, right? So you want to make sure your homeowners insurance has the right limits, as well. So be sure to check the insurance.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you want some more tips to save money on your home improvement projects, visit And today’s tip has been presented by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene is an effective, one-step insulation product that insulates, seals and reduces drafts. And those drafts can account for as much as 40 percent of your home’s energy use. With Icynene, you could be saving as much as 40 percent on your monthly heating and cooling bills. Plus, there’s a new product out there that’s ultra low-VOC, meaning you can reoccupy your home in just two hours after it’s sprayed in place.

    TOM: Icynene is really the evolution of insulation. Visit to find your nearest licensed Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation contractor or call 800-758-7325. That’s 800-758-7325.

    LESLIE: Well, the furniture and home décor industry has rounded a corner and have come to realize that a pet-friendly home is a way of life for so many of you. We’re going to tell you about some of the product advances, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And if you’re looking for a pro you can trust right now, email us your question, just like Marsha did who writes: “We bought an older home and the whole house is paneled. Is there a way to fill the gaps in the paneling so you can paint and make it look like regular walls? I’m on a tight budget.”

    TOM: Well, people ask us that question all the time and those gaps in paneling are not meant to be filled. You could try to fill them but it’s just going to look worse than it does right now, so …

    LESLIE: And you’re just going to have to refill them.

    TOM: Yeah, because it’s not going to stick, right? So, I say to either paint it the way it is and accept the fact that it’s going to look like painted paneling or get some drywall and cover it, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, you don’t have you go with the full ½-inch. You can get ¼-inch drywall. Not everybody stocks it but some home centers do. And this way, you don’t have to bump out everything so much, because you will have to account for, you know, switch plates and outlets and all of that just to account for the extra thickness. But that will give you a smooth, beautiful wall surface.

    TOM: Well, if you’re an animal lover like us, you may think that you can’t have stylish décor coexist at the same time. But Leslie says you can and she’s got the tips to get it done, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah, you know what? A lot of us, we all have pets and we love our animals. Sometimes more than we love our kids but I didn’t say that out loud. No. But truly, guys, animals are a big part of everybody’s lives and we want to make sure that you can have beautiful things at home that don’t get ruined, because pets have claws and they climb on things and sometimes they have accidents.

    So, here’s some things we need to consider. First of all, when it comes to painting your wall surfaces, you want to make sure that your paints are easy to clean, that they might have an antimicrobial finish to them. And you want to make sure that whatever you’re using on the walls is truly easier and easier to clean. A lot of companies now have flat paints that are wipeable and that really was only something you could get with a glossy paint finish.

    Beforehand, I also find that my dog – we have a new puppy who’s a rescue from Kuwait – and we’re having a little bit of a challenging settling-in time. And Sherman will rub his collar against the wall, which is making this beautiful, black sort of scratch at dog-collar height all around the walls he can get to in the house. So, luckily, I’ve put on a durable paint finish and so I can wipe that right off with a Magic Eraser or something along those lines. So you want to make sure that you’re accounting for the future of cleaning that might come along with it.

    Now, fabrics, as well. You can find stain-resistant and antimicrobial fibers in a range of styles and soft textures. And you want to look for textiles that are made with nanotechs, which is going to make those fibers stain-resistant and waterproof. And you can find that a lot in commercial-grade fabrics, which you can get through a lot of different fabric vendors. They’re beautifully designed, they’re not that much more expensive and believe me, the commercial fabrics are much, much, much more durable.

    And a lot of people – I mean if you peruse design boards like Pinterest, you’ll find a lot of people are going sort of that extra step in creating these really specialized rooms for their pets. Even in the little triangular space underneath the flight of stairs with a little door just opening up the space, you can create these adorable, little dog rooms. And it’s fun because if you don’t have a little nook that you can turn into as a space for your pet, you can sort of add a pet space to, maybe, your home office or a guest bedroom. We want our animals to feel like they’re part of our family but we also don’t want to sacrifice design. So as long as we go ahead and pick things that are durable and wear well, then we’re all in good shape.

    TOM: Plus, they would double for kids’ rooms, too, right?

    LESLIE: That’s true.

    TOM: Durable and wear well works for me.

    Coming up next time on the program, planting trees of the right size and shape in the right places can deliver energy savings for many years to come. We’re going to have tips to help you plan that project, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2017 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.)

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