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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We know there’s a project on the to-do list. Look around your house. Come on, that’s you. Yep, look around. What do you see? Now remember how many times your spouse or significant other has bugged you to get it done. Let’s make a commitment right now; let’s get to it, right? The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Don’t pick up the tools just yet, though. Pick up the phone first and call us because we will help you get your spouse off your case. The number is 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a big program coming up, Leslie. We’re going to talk about first about sprucing up your home with a new coat of exterior paint. But when you do, don’t make the most expensive mistake possible and that is buying cheap paint. Because in the long run, it’s going to cost you a lot more. We will show you how to do that math and why it makes sense to buy the best paint, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also ahead this hour, now your car, it might have already gotten its post-winter tune-up. Because I know where I live, the potholes are doing some damage in my neck of the woods and my car has really been feeling the brunt of the wintertime. But what about your lawn mower? You know, it needs some attention before you fire it up for the lawn-mowing season, so we’re going to give you some basic maintenance tips, coming up.
TOM: Plus, a new survey is out that confirms what we’ve known for a while: home improvement never goes out of style. In fact, two-thirds of homeowners asked say they’ll be spending money to renovate their homes this spring. We’re going to find out what projects pay off, a little bit later, when we interview Leah Gerstner, who is the head of communications for American Express and the person in charge of collecting all of this cool data.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also this hour, we’re giving away something that can really help with your home recycling efforts: it’s the Easy Pull Can Crusher with Collection Bin. And it’s a great way to save space while you’re doing Mother Nature’s good duty of recycling.
TOM: It’s worth almost 40 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
LESLIE: Ken in New Mexico needs some help with yard work. What can we do for you today?
KEN: Yes. I’ve got a problem. The front yard always – every year, this time of the year, these broad-leaf leaves – weeds – keep coming up and I don’t want to plant 6 inches of concrete. I know that’ll solve the problem, right?
TOM: Yes, it will.
KEN: I’ve heard that you can use vinegar – white vinegar. Just spray that and it should kill the weeds. And I have Russian sage and I have trees there but I’m trying to figure out, once I kill the weeds, what should I use – the best thing to kill the weeds that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg? And then what can I put on the ground to – that doesn’t require maintenance all the time? I know a little bit of maintenance but I don’t want to have to be spending all my weekends here pulling weeds. Any suggestions?
TOM: So you have grass here in between the weeds, Ken?
KEN: No, I just have – it’s just dirt and weeds come up through that. I’ve been frustrated trying to figure out what to do with that area of the front of the house.
KEN: The back of the house, I’ve got all gravel and desertscape, so that’s taking care of – that’s about a 1/6 of an acre.
TOM: I see.
KEN: But the front of the house, I’d like to have something that gives a little bit of curb appeal rather than stark stones.
TOM: Sure. Well, first of all, in terms of getting rid of the weeds, I would recommend a product called Roundup. Very effective. Just spray the weeds and it’s a systemic product so it will go down into the root of the plant and kill it and it won’t come back. If you just try to pull them up or if you try to use something like an old wives’ tale like vinegar, I don’t see how that’s going to do. The only good that will do is if you’re going to take those weeds up and use them in your salad. But other than that, I don’t think it’s going to kill them. So I would use Roundup and that will kill the weeds.
And in terms of some hard-scaping ideas for this area, Leslie, what do you think?
LESLIE: Well, I mean pavers are gorgeous and available in different colors and sizes and shapes.
LESLIE: And you can really be creative with pavers and, I think, cost-effective. And it’s definitely a do-it-yourself project, if you feel like doing some digging. And then once you’ve got a little patio, it really gives you an opportunity to have a wonderful, sitting/resting area, a reading area, a dining area. You can really extend your indoor décor outdoors to create an exterior room that you’ll use, perhaps, for many seasons of the year.
KEN: Hmm. OK. Well, great. Thank you very much. I (audio gap).
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you out today?
BEVERLY: I was listening to your show and it was suggested to someone to look into the Rinnai water heater. And I am interested in Rinnai water heaters and tried, previously, to do that and was told that there would be a problem venting it in a pre-existing home. And I also will be needing to purchase a new heat system in the next year or so.
TOM: OK. OK.
BEVERLY: And so, my question is: is there a way to make these new technologies happen in a pre-existing home? Are there new, non-vent things or better ways of venting than they knew a few ways ago? Because I’ve not looked into it in the last couple of years.
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you didn’t talk to the right guys. Because I tell you what, it’s easier than ever to vent a high-efficiency furnace or a high-efficiency water heater, because the vent pipes can be direct-vented, which means they don’t have to go into chimneys; they can go right through the exterior wall. So, I don’t know why you were told that it’s a problem to vent but it’s really not.
BEVERLY: It’s not? See, I’m surprised because they said, oh, we had to go all the way through to the roof and then I wound up buying giant, big, 50-gallon water heaters again.
TOM: Yeah, well, you may have been – you may have found yourself a situation, Beverly, where you got a contractor that wanted to sell you a project to go in one direction and not the way that you wanted it to go.
TOM: But it’s not hard to vent high-efficiency; it’s actually easier because it can go through the side wall of the house and out.
BEVERLY: OK. And if your system is not at the end of the house, it’s in the – more in the center of the basement, is that a problem or not?
TOM: If it’s in the center of the basement, the pipes would have to go across the basement and then out. But you know what’s cool about high-efficiency is it takes so much heat out of the gases that what’s left can run through a plastic pipe.
BEVERLY: Wow. OK. That’s great because I thought, “Gee, if she can do this, maybe I can, too.”
TOM: Yeah. No, I think you can. I would talk to a couple of different contractors. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice there, Beverly.
BEVERLY: Thank you. I’m glad to know that. I’m sure many other people are and I love your show.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can join in on the home improvement fun by picking up the phone and giving us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with all of your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if your lawn mower isn’t quite doing the job, we can help. We’re going to have some step-by-step tips on how to give your lawn mower a spring tune-up that’ll help it spring back into action.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Easy Pull Can Crusher. That just sounds like fun, you know? A can crusher?
LESLIE: And it’s not your hand to your forehead?
TOM: Yeah, like you used to do it in college? It’s got a collection bin somehow built into it, too. It’s worth 37 bucks. It’s a great way to get rid of all your aluminum cans. You can crush them down and save some space in your recycle bin. The aluminum can actually be recycled back into beverage cans within 60 days. I didn’t know that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s pretty fast, the turnover.
TOM: But it must be true because it says so right here: “Easy Pull Can Crusher can do just that.”
Anyway, if you want to win it, it sounds pretty cool. It’s worth 40 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us on the line at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you want to see this thing in action, you can go to CanCrusher.com.
Isn’t it amazing no one else had that URL? CanCrusher.com.
LESLIE: That’s pretty cool, unless this person’s been sitting on it for years, waiting.
TOM: Yeah, right. Probably reserved it and then invented the product later.
LESLIE: And by the way, the video that you’ll see is Tom crushing a can on his forehead, from college. It’s quite entertaining, so check it out today.
TOM: Alright. Let’s get right to it.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Well, this time of year, we’re all starting to tend to the yard a little bit more. Winter is gone, thank goodness. Snow has cleared for the most of us, I hope, everywhere in the northern parts of the country. You don’t have any more snow kicking around.
But if you’ve yet to pull out your lawn mower for that first seasonal cut, you might be getting to the point where your grass just can’t take it any longer and maybe the neighbors are picking up the phone or knocking on the door, being like, “Hey, Safari Stan. Let’s mow the lawn.” Alright, folks?
So, here are a few steps that could help you with that lawn mower. First of all, before you start it up, you want to check the spark-plug wire connection. You want to check the blade and with that blade, you want to sharpen it with any areas that you might find some dullness, with a file. Then you want to clean the entire thing inside and out. You want to lubricate all moving parts, including the wheels. And don’t use last year’s gasoline. Empty out the tank and start fresh.
And here’s a heads-up: you can actually do the same, basic maintenance in the fall before you go and store the mower away for the winter, which will then save time come springtime because you know it’ll all be in tip-top shape.
TOM: You know what I always do? I always put gas stabilizer in it and then run it dry. This way, any gas that kind of stays behind doesn’t get all gooey and gunky-up.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really helps. And the stabilizer even only extends the gas to what is it, 30 days?
TOM: No, no. No, it lasts for 30 days unless you put the stabilizer. And the stabilizer can actually extend it for about a year.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s great to know because you really want to make sure that you’ve got the fuel in the machine and that it’s running well. Because if it does go bad, it will gunk up the entire inner workings, so take good care of those parts.
TOM: Yeah. It turns into varnish.
LESLIE: It really does.
TOM: It never runs too well. Alright. So now you know how to get it started and there’s no more excuses. Let’s get it fired up, get out there and cut the grass. And yes, we’re talking to you, Safari Stan. That’s right, you. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: David in Rhode Island has got a tricky toilet. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: Well, listen, every time – not every time but many times when I flush the toilet, I detect a pocket of air; there’s a big bubble that comes up. And then we’ll say that it doesn’t flush completely.
DAVID: Sometimes, I have to wait until it recycles and then I’ll flush it again and then it’ll be gone.
TOM: Hmm. Sounds like there’s a partial obstruction.
DAVID: That could very well be.
TOM: That would cause that.
DAVID: Any quick ideas?
TOM: Well, hmm. Have you had to plunge it at all to get it moving again?
DAVID: No, no. It’s never been quite that bad, no.
TOM: Yeah. I have a feeling that there’s a partial obstruction here. I can’t begin to speculate what that obstruction is but when you have something that’s not flushing all the way like that, that’s generally what happens.
I mean I had a situation once where I had a toilet that broke down right before a big family party, so I was absolutely positive that it was the willow tree outside had – the roots had grown into the drain pipe. So I got up really early, dug this big hole in my ground and tried to find these roots and get them out. But then I got the pipe open and there were no roots in there. A long story short, I ended up taking the toilet off the floor, turned it upside down and found a little, blue toy phone in it.
DAVID: Oh, wow.
TOM: So, some home improvement expert. I tore up the whole yard and it turned out to be an obstruction right in the toilet itself.
DAVID: Right in the toilet itself then? Gee.
TOM: So I suspect that – yeah, the smallest, little thing falling in that toilet can cause this condition. So I would probably take the toilet off, try to snake it out and look inside the trap of the toilet itself – that’s the curved part that’s sort of underneath the bowl – and see if you can figure out what the obstruction is. Because I have a feeling that’s what causing this, David.
DAVID: Alright then. Tom, thanks for your time.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Yes, do as I say, not as I do or did.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to chat with Sarah in Texas who’s got an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
SARAH: I bought a home about a year ago and it’s a 1970s home. And we have pretty good insulation in the house already but we were wanting to put in a new layer. There were a bunch of critters that used to live up in the attic; there’s carcasses and stuff.
TOM: Oh, no.
SARAH: And I didn’t know whether it was OK just to kind of layer over it and blow in new insulation. Would we still get the same benefits or is it better to start from scratch?
TOM: Well, in this situation where you’ve got some insulation that was damaged or certainly infested by small animals, I would not recommend putting a second layer down. I would take the opportunity to pull out what you have.
That said, if the insulation is in good condition up there – it’s still fluffy, it’s still doing its job – there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer. But if it’s been infested, I wouldn’t want you to trap all that under. The animals may have stirred it up; they may have compressed it by walking on it. And insulation is not going to work unless it’s fluffy and full of air.
Now, in terms of the amount of insulation, Owens Corning recommends that you have 19 inches of batt insulation or 22 inches of blown-in insulation. They have a good website called InsulateAndSave.com that you can go to and get tips on how to actually do the installation of the insulation yourself. It’s not a difficult project. It’s very inexpensive and in fact, you may find that you qualify for federal energy tax credits by installing insulation and other energy-saving improvements to your house.
SARAH: Absolutely. Cool. That’s what I thought, so I just wanted to take the best route to ensure the longevity of the new layer that we put in.
TOM: Yeah, I think in this situation, since you had those critters up there, I would get rid of the old stuff and start new. You’ll get a really well-insulated house that’s going to make you more comfortable, more energy-efficient and it’s going to save you some money.
That website, again, is InsulateAndSave.com. They’ve got a zip-code tool there that will help you find a retailer in your area and also a way of calculating how much you can save on your monthly energy bill.
SARAH: One question, though. Would you recommend having professionals come in to remove the old insulation?
TOM: Not necessarily.
SARAH: Because being up there, it’s a pretty – there’s some pretty tight corners and …
TOM: Well, not necessarily, in the sense that you can do it yourself. It’s not a hard-to-do but if you find it difficult to work around the attic space because it is difficult to access, then certainly it’s something you could hire a pro to. But if you do work in the attic, just remember the age-old carpenter adage. Know what that is? Walk on wood.
TOM: Walk on wood.
LESLIE: Or end up in ceiling of bedroom below.
TOM: That’s right. And watch out for the nails in the roof. Sounds like you’ve got all the information you need to do this job yourself. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rocky in Texas is dealing with a messy driveway. What happened?
ROCKY: Hi there. I purchased this house. Apparently it belonged to a mechanic or something. And I am assuming that he hadn’t sealed the concrete driveway and it’s got a whole bunch of patches of (audio gap) looks like hydraulic fluid and some regular oil, car oil. And I tried a couple of things and it didn’t bring them out.
TOM: Well, if it suffered years of abuse at the hands of a mechanic who did lots and lots of oil changes there, Rocky, you’re going to have a heck of a time getting any of that out. I mean if it’s a fresh oil stain, we usually recommend a paste of TSP – trisodium phosphate. In your case, I think we’re well beyond that.
So your option right now would probably to resurface the driveway with an epoxy patch – with an epoxy paint or an epoxy patching compound and basically start over again. The epoxy will stick very, very well to the driveway surface and it’ll look a lot better. And if this oil stain is very old like that, I don’t have any issues about you covering it.
ROCKY: Oh, OK. So any kind – is there any preparation that I have to do before or I can just wash it off on …?
TOM: There’s generally – sometimes there’s a – yeah, sometimes there’s a neutralizer that has to go on first. I’ll tell you a good website for it because you want a professional product; it’s Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n – .com. And in fact, you can contact those folks and they’ll direct you to the exact product you want to use. But they have some really good epoxy coatings that you can put on that driveway and it’ll last for a good number of years.
ROCKY: Perfect. Thank you for your wisdom.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rocky. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Joe in Massachusetts who is finding some cracks in the foundation. Tell us about the problem.
JOE: No, I just – what I’d like to know is – I do have some cracks in my foundation that – they’re not major but I did put on a two-car garage and also a Florida room on my house. And I was wondering about cracks in the foundation.
TOM: Well, if you added laterally to the house – in other words, you didn’t put a second story on or something like that – I doubt that the – adding the garage on or the Florida room caused these cracks to occur.
JOE: No. Yeah.
TOM: Cracks do form over time in masonry foundations usually because moisture gets in there, Joe, and the foundations will either expand and crack. Or if you have a lot of water that pools around the foundation area, you can get some settlement. So if these are minor cracks, are they – would you consider them hairline?
JOE: Right, exactly.
TOM: Well, if they’re minor cracks, then it’s very, very typical of you to have those in foundations. If, sometimes, you can – they crack so much that you can see through them – perhaps if it’s part of the wall that goes through to the other side of the garage or something of that nature – you could always caulk them with a silicone caulk. But minor foundation cracks are pretty typical and not much to worry about.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, home improvement is still top of mind with homeowners. A new survey finds that nearly two-thirds of you are planning a spring project. Find out what people are taking on, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Alright, guys. It is National Home Improvement Month. Hooray!
TOM: Finally a holiday we can name after ourselves.
LESLIE: I know. And one that we celebrate on a daily basis.
Well, if fixing up your money pit still is on the top of your list of spring to-dos this year, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker Report, you fit right into that, because nearly two-thirds of homeowners say that they will invest in projects this year to renovate their homes.
TOM: And that is smart spending money. Here to tell us more about the findings from the Spending and Saving Trackers is Leah Gerstner from American Express.
LEAH: Hello there. How are you guys?
TOM: Now, you guys do this survey every single year. What are you seeing that’s new about the past year’s spending habits?
LEAH: We do. So we do this survey every year and in 2010, we actually looked across the board and found that nearly two-thirds of homeowners also said that home improvement was on their to-do list, so not much of a change there. But what is different is that we’re finding people are going to be spending just a little bit less in 2011 on home improvement.
TOM: Still not quite sure that that recession is totally over and being a bit cautious about the selection of projects. What kinds of projects do you think folks are tackling?
LEAH: Well, we’re seeing projects across the board. Definitely, indoor projects are the most popular and bathrooms are topping the list there and kitchen is coming in second. Certainly seeing a fair amount of people wanting to do cosmetic work, such as painting and redoing rooms. And then, there are some who are looking at landscaping as an outdoor renovation project. And then there’s a few people that are going to tackle the deck and patio, kind of as a secondary option there.
But mostly, indoor is going to be where the focus is of spending habits, it seems. And bathroom is topping that list, which is interesting.
LESLIE: Well, it seems like, at this point, we’re all conserving our finances and really spending a lot of time indoors. And I know I’m wanting to make changes to my home, just because I’m sick and tired of looking at the same stuff for so much time. So it’s really an interesting trend that it’s sort of, you know, stacking up that way nationally.
What about environmentally-friendly home purchases? Are people really looking into that type of field when they’re making their renovations?
LEAH: They are. When we surveyed homeowners, we actually found that about one-third of homeowners say they’re going to be investing in green improvements. And we think that that’s because – and we asked them why. And we think it’s because it is a long-term, cost-savings benefit for them. They’re really looking at all different ways to save and going green is one of the long-term ways that they can really get a return on their investment. So it’s a great opportunity for homeowners to invest in green this year.
TOM: And that return on investment has never been more important.
Now, Leah, one of the core groups of folks that we talk to all the time are those hard-core DIYers, the people that like to pick up the paint brush, pick up the saw and really do all of the work, soup-to-nuts, themselves. What kinds of findings did you guys discover when you looked at just the DIYers, in terms of the projects that they’re tackling?
LEAH: Well, we actually found that – we asked homeowners how much of the work that they’re going to be doing this year will they be doing on their own or how much of it will be maybe asking contractors or family and friends to help with. We actually found that two-thirds of homeowners are just like your audience; they’re DIYers and they want to take on at least some of the home improvement work themselves.
Some of them will actually be recruiting some family and friends to help out, 30 percent. I know I would fall into that category. And then 20 percent will be relying on a contractor to do all or some of the work. And really, we see DIY as a trend that’s popping in really, again, in that sense of how can I save money this year? How can I spend smart? And taking on some of the work on your own is certainly an easy way – easier way to do that.
TOM: We’re talking to Leah Gerstner from American Express about AMEX’s Spending and Savings Tracker Report, just out in time for National Home Improvement Month.
And most importantly, Leah, what can you buy for your home improvement projects with American Express points?
LEAH: You can buy so many things and I think one of the best is gift cards. So, we are – we have lots of great gift cards with all of the major home improvement stores out there. And it’s a great opportunity to convert your points and then use that for whatever you might need for your home renovation projects.
LESLIE: That’s great. I know we do.
Leah Gerstner, from American Express, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And we’re going to now hoard all of our points so that we can hire our next home improvement pro on and pay them with points.
LEAH: That sounds like a great idea.
TOM: OK, Leah. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LEAH: Thank you so much for having me.
LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, are you thinking about getting the outside of your home repainted this spring season? Well, if you are, do not skimp on the paint’s quality, because we’re going to tell you why cheap paint is never the bargain you think it’s going to be, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love to hear what you are working on, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, this hour, we’re giving away the Easy Pull Can Crusher and Collection Bin. It’s worth $37 and it’s really a great way to get all of your aluminum cans crushed way down in your recycling bin, because it’s going to help you save space so that you can recycle more. Plus, here’s the bonus: if you’ve got kids in the house, this is the best chore you can give them. “Here, crush all the cans with this one toy.”
And it’s really excellent, because the bin holds up to 48 crushed cans. Check it out. Go to their website: it’s EasyCanCrusher.com. It’ll show you how it works and then it’ll get you really excited to pick up the phone and give us a call for your chance to win, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when the budget is tight, we all look for ways to cut back on expense. But if you’re thinking about having a contractor apply a cheap paint to the outside of your house to try to save a few bucks, you might want to reconsider. In the long run, it’s actually less expensive to apply the very best-quality paint, even if it costs a lot more money.
You know, most of the cost of the exterior painting goes for labor, not for the paint. So paying for top-quality paint is not going to make a huge difference in the overall cost of the job but it will greatly extend the life of the paint job. And you’re going to find out that your cost per year is a lot less.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. In fact, field tests at the Paint Quality Institute actually show that ordinary exterior paint lasts about four years but if you go with a top-quality, 100-percent acrylic latex paint, that can actually last 10 years or more when it’s applied to a properly prepped surface. You’ve got to prep the surface, guys.
So make sure that your exterior painting is done right. This way, you’re not going to have to worry about doing it again for a long, long time. Because you know how expensive it is and you know what comes after painting? Repainting.
LESLIE: If you want some more ideas, go ahead and Google “money pit cheap paint costs more” and you’ll get a ton of great information there.
TOM: 888-666-3974. We are here with great information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Steve in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: Well, we’ve got a house that was built in 1964 and we really love it. It’s got all the original interior finishes and that includes some really nice, knotty-pine paneling.
TOM: Yes, that was very popular back in 1964.
STEVE: Well, yeah. And plus, this is some of the best knotty pine I’ve ever seen after how many, 47 years?
STEVE: There’s no warping and none of the knots have flopped.
STEVE: So it’s (audio gap) stuff but one of the rooms where we spend a lot of time is on the north side of the house and it tends to be a little dark. And so we have two options: you could pull it off and put up sheetrock or paint it.
Now, I’ve done that before with knotty pine in the past and eventually, the knots show through the paint.
LESLIE: Oh, they love to sneak out.
STEVE: They do. I guess it’s the resin or something. And I’m wondering, is there anything we can do to prep it so that that won’t happen or is our only choice to replace with sheetrock?
TOM: Well, you have to prime it. It’s very critical that you prime the paneling before you paint it. And I would use an oil-based primer for this. That will stop the knots from popping out again.
But there is one other option. Have you considered sanding the existing paneling?
STEVE: No, no I hadn’t. That’s really such a big job but …
TOM: Yeah, it could be a big job. But I mean if you really like it, you could sand off the finish and start again.
STEVE: Sand off the finish and start again how?
TOM: Well, you can …
LESLIE: With a new stain.
TOM: Right, with new stain. You could sand – it’s probably going to be pretty brittle to finish because it’s so old, so you could probably get a half-sheet, vibrating sander and start working your way around the room and see how quickly it comes off. You may be able to get enough off where it lightens up and you’ll be happy with it again.
And in fact, if you’re going to paint it anyway, why not give it an hour or two with a sander and see how quickly it comes off?
STEVE: That’s a great idea. I might try that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? When it goes to the stain – when it comes time to stain – you don’t have to go with something in a traditional wood tone. There are so many tinted stains out there in beautiful colors that if you wanted to stain it a color so that you get the appearance of a tint on the wall without laying the paint on top of it – because it is a beautiful paneling and it’s not often people want to keep it. So if you enjoy it, enhance it and really live with it.
STEVE: Yeah. Well, that’s a great idea. If we decide to go the other way and put a primer, do we just use a regular, standard primer for the – that you would use for sheetrock or something else?
TOM: Yep. Yeah. No, it would be a good-quality primer. Usually, you choose the same primer and paint from the same manufacturer. But if there’s an option, use an oil-based primer because that’s going to give you the best adhesion and the best coverage.
STEVE: Yeah. Well, that sounds like great advice.
TOM: Alright, Steve. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nancy in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NANCY: My problem is the shower floor in the basement. My washer drains into the shower floor and then when it backs up, until it starts draining back down, it sits there for a while.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
NANCY: And I suppose the soap and all the residue from the shower water or from the washer water – but anyway, when my husband tiled, put ceramic tile on the walls, he also put ceramic tile on the floor.
NANCY: And the water, of course, gathering underneath that ceramic tile, made it real musty and moldy and that’s when we had to take that up.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.
NANCY: And he painted it and of course the paint peeled.
TOM: Yeah, you’re fighting a losing battle there, Nancy. There’s no way you’re going to get paint to stick under water, which is essentially what’s happening. It’s not the right way to drain a washing machine. You know, you’re sort of cheating, so to speak, by trying to dump it into a shower fixture. If you had a proper drain, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But if it’s going to be wet all the time like that, there’s no way that it’s going to not peel and rather quickly because the base – is it a concrete base?
TOM: Yeah, so that’s very hydroscopic. It’s like trying to paint a sponge; it just ain’t going to happen.
NANCY: Yeah. So there isn’t any product then that they make that could be put on there.
TOM: No, an epoxy paint – if you got it really, really dry – might work better than, say, a floor paint.
LESLIE: Well, it’ll adhere better but you still have to get it super-dry.
TOM: Yeah. An epoxy paint might be the only shot you have but I still think it’s probably going to peel.
LESLIE: Eventually pick away.
TOM: Eventually. Alright?
NANCY: Some of the hospitals, where they have their showers, have something on the floor. I don’t exactly know what it is. I was kind of wondering if something like that would work.
TOM: Yeah, I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to but in your situation, you’re talking about a concrete surface, you’re trying to paint it. Almost an impossible situation. You might want to talk with a plumber about another way to drain that washer.
Are you on a septic system?
TOM: You’re on city water?
NANCY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Well, there ought to be place where you can get to a waste pipe and drain that washer. That’s really the key.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s the best solution.
NANCY: Yeah. OK. OK.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, termites are on the move this time of year but most of us will never see them. The damage they do, however, is visible to your wallet. In fact, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair. That’s why, coming up, we’re going to tell you what you need to do to make sure your house is off the termite menu.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pest problems are very common this time of year. You’ve got problems with termites and bigger critters but for the solution, we’ve got it all online at MoneyPit.com. In fact, everything we’ve ever written about solving those pest problems, whether the wildlife is eating your roses or the bed bugs are making your nights a nightmare, it’s all there online, for free, at MoneyPit.com.
And we do get many pest-control questions this time of year, like this one from David in Pennsylvania.
LESLIE: Alright. David writes: “I’m looking for home pest protection inside and out. What can I use for self-application of insect and termite protection? I have two homes, in Pennsylvania and Florida. I hear so many ads but can’t I do it myself?”
TOM: No and I’ll tell you why. And if you think about it, David, it makes sense. First of all, the science behind keeping these insects at bay has gone leaps and bounds into the future in terms of its accuracy.
Today, the pesticides that are created are designed specifically for one insect. Years ago, we put down something that was very powerful, we’d kill all the insects but it was also very harmful to potentially to people and the environment. Today, it’s a completely different approach. These pesticides are very systemic; they attack only the insect that they’re intended to do harm to.
Now, for termites, you want to particularly make sure you use a professional because if you don’t do it right, you can get a lot of damage. The state-of-the-art with termite insecticides today are those that are undetectable. In other words, these go into the soil, into the foundation around the house. The termites, since they live in the dirt, they pass through it, they get it on their bodies, they take it back to the nest, they pass it to all their termite friends and then it takes – it kills off the entire colony. This is the kind of thing that you can’t do yourself, because you can’t buy the chemicals and you wouldn’t know how to apply it if you did.
So, this is a situation where you’re just so much better off hiring a pro; have them do it once, do it right and you won’t have to deal with it again. And you’ll know that it’s done accurately and safely and it really does the job of controlling the insect population in and around the house.
LESLIE: Alright, David. Sorry, this is one project you can’t do yourself. You’d better leave it to the pros.
TOM: Well, one of the more popular home improvement projects we’re asked about every single week is a project having to do with redoing your kitchen or your bathroom. It can be expensive but if you’re counting every dollar, not to worry. There’s actually a sneaky, little trick that can help you save money on the tiling. And Leslie has that tip in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. Just because you might be low on the budget end of things doesn’t mean that you can’t be high on your design dreams. But here’s the trick so that you can achieve everything that you envision for your space: you want to choose a simple and therefore inexpensive tile, which is going to cover the main-field portion of, say, your kitchen backsplash or maybe a bathroom wall, because that’s going to be the most square footage. So buy something that’s affordable there.
Then, when you want to add some pizzazz and really go for that design style that you love, why not mix in a few beautiful, decorative tiles? They could be rich in color, they could have a ton of great style and that’s going to create visual interest for you. And since you’re using this decorative detail in small quantities, you can actually really splurge for something that’s super-special.
Another great idea is to splurge on tile details, like a decorative border accent, and that’ll just go along one run below the top edge of your backsplash. And that’s a really great way to add detail there, as well. And then you can bring in a little bling in the right spot in your bathroom, say, with going with a tile that’s got a little bit of glass or a sparkle in it. And that can really make the bathroom space seem like a luxurious escape. You don’t have to spend a ton of money but you can create a beautiful tile detail in any space of your home, on your budget.
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to have tips on how you can make simple repairs to masonry and paving stones. If you’re not having a good base into those stones, that can lead to sinking later on. We’ll teach you how to fix that problem and many more that could be plaguing your patios, next week on 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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(Copyright 2011 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.)