TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show

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I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I am Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here to help you with your fall home improvement projects. What are you working on on this beautiful fall day? Are you enjoying all of the colors of the leaves? Do you wish the leaves would stay on the trees, though, and not land in your gutters? Do you wish you didn’t have to do quite so much raking?

Maybe you’ve got a project you’d like to take on this time of year, to finish up a few things on the outside or turn your attention to the inside. Whatever is on your to-do list, give us a call because we’d love to help you out. Whether it’s a job you’re going to do yourself or one you’re going to hire a pro for, we are here to help you get it done once, get it done right and not have to do it again. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Coming up this hour, fall is an amazing season for beautiful colors and lots of fun activities. But it is also the start of fire season. That’s right. Turn on all those heating systems, firing up the fireplace. Now is when the fires begin. We’re going to highlight, though, some fire-prevention risks you may not have thought of and give you some tips to eliminate those risks today.

LESLIE: And fall is also the time of year to plant next year’s flowering bulbs. So we’ve got steps that you can take right now for your best and brightest garden yet.

TOM: And are you thinking of painting the exterior of your home, to recharge or refresh and generally boost its curb appeal? It’s also an important job to make sure your home is protected from the elements. We’re going to share some pro tips to help you hire the best painters for the project, just ahead.

LESLIE: But first, we want to hear all about your home projects. Give us a call for tips or the answer to a décor, remodeling, home fix-up, even an improvement question. Whatever project you are working on, we’re here to lend a hand.

TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it.

LESLIE: Preston in Kentucky is on the line who needs some help with a painting project. What’s going on at your money pit?

PRESTON: I was just curious why – I’ve gotten a few estimates on getting the inside of my home painted. And I was curious why they – why there’s such a wide gap in between the prices that I’ve gotten. Is one job different than the other?

TOM: Well, it depends. When the first painter comes, did you have sort of your blue jeans on and dirty shirt and when the second guy came, you were all dressed up in a suit and tie like you had just walked out of the bank?

LESLIE: Dressed from work?

TOM: They bid you as much as they bid the job.

LESLIE: Briefcase handcuffed to your wrist?

TOM: Yeah. Yeah, don’t wear the fake Rolex now when the guy comes over to give you a price.

Listen, the thing is what you want to do is make sure they’re comparing apples to apples on these estimates. So there could be a lot of things that they’re doing differently. I would check that first, starting with the brand of paint, because the better paint is going to be worth it; it’s going to be more scrubbable. How many coats they’re going to apply.

LESLIE: Are they priming? What’s the prep work? Is it plaster? Do they need to skim-coat? Is there any repair work that needs to be done to the existing drywall?

TOM: And also, you’re just going to have to – because it’s so labor-intensive, you’re absolutely going to positively have to do your homework on all these guys and get references and talk to people that they did work for recently.

And I like to ask people for references of somebody that they worked for at least a year ago, so we can see over time what their reputation has been. Because you definitely need to have someone who’s careful about their – working inside your house and who’s also a skilled painter. So I would dig in on the references and I would make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples in terms of what the project is that they’re actually doing.

And then another thing that you can do is always go online. And I like to search “complaints against” and the name of the business. And believe me, if there is anybody who’s had a problem, they’re going to pop up in a Google search. So if you search the word “complaints” and the name of the vendor, you’ll find out right away.

And keep in mind, there are complaint sites out there. The only reason people go to them is to complain, so you don’t always get a balanced view. But if you see a lot of complaints on a lot of different sites, then you know maybe it’s an issue and you should steer clear. Does that make sense?

PRESTON: OK, great.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a wet crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on there.

ANN: Hey. I have a question about my house. It was built a long time ago and of course, back then they didn’t put a house off the ground. And it’s very low. And I’m just wondering how I can protect it from dampness and rot. I don’t have a lot of money to work with and I’ve heard a few things but I’m really not sure of what I can do.

TOM: OK. So right now, you’re on a crawlspace and the crawlspace, is it accessible? Can you get in there?

ANN: Through one small door.

TOM: OK, fine. It’s not a pleasant project but it is a project that you can do yourself, Ann.

So, a couple of things. First of all, you want to take steps to reduce the amount of moisture that collects at the outside of the foundation. You do that by making sure you have gutters, the gutters are clean and free-flowing and dumping water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation. That’s the most – single most important thing to do is a good gutter system.

Second to that is to make sure the soil around the house slopes away. You don’t want soil that’s settled and is very flat and holds water against the foundation; you want it to slope away. So you could have some clean fill dirt delivered very inexpensive. Basically just carry – pay for the truck to carry it out there. And then grade that to slope away from the walls on all four sides. Over the fill dirt, you could put some topsoil and some seed or stone or whatever you want to do to control erosion.

Then the third thing you do is go in that crawlspace and cover all of the open soil with plastic. Get some large rolls of sheet plastic with as few seams as possible. Cover all of the soil with plastic. That stops a lot of the moisture from evaporating up into the air.

And those three things together will make a big difference.

ANN: Do I need a certain thickness?

TOM: The thicker the plastic the better, because it just – it’s easier to put down. You end up having to crawl on it and you won’t poke through.

ANN: Oh, OK. And does it need to be anchored in any way?

TOM: Nope. You can lay it right over the soil.

ANN: Really? I like that; don’t like the crawl part.

TOM: Yep. OK. Alright.

ANN: It’s just, ugh, scary under there.

TOM: Yeah, it’s a little – like I said, it’s not the most pleasant job but it’s not hard and you can do it yourself. Get a really good friend to keep you company and do it together.

LESLIE: One who likes squishing bugs and giving you support.

ANN: OK. I appreciate it. That answers my question.

TOM: Good luck, Ann. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home décor question. We’re here, standing by, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

TOM: Just ahead, fall marks the start of fire season. We’re going to highlight the hazards you’re probably overlooking, when The Money Pit continues.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What’s your home improvement question? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at

LESLIE: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: My fall fix-up project this weekend, Leslie, was pressure-washing Mom’s sidewalks. They were really, really black.

LESLIE: And you did everybody’s on the block.

TOM: Well, no. You know what? The funny thing is I offered to do the neighbor but I think that maybe he didn’t recognize me and thought I was just some guy who was trying to talk him into – “Hey, I’m in the neighborhood. Can I do …?” I’m like, “No, no. I’m Joanne’s son.” He’s like, “No, no. It’s OK.”

LESLIE: “I also can coat your driveway.”

TOM: Yeah, exactly, right? But it was funny. My mom was inside. She doesn’t get around that easily. And so, while she wasn’t looking, I carved, with the pressure washer, “Hi, Mom” into the sidewalk. So I went inside, took a picture. I said, “Mom, I got all that I could get done today. I’ll be back next spring to finish,” and then I showed her the picture. She got a kick out of that.

LESLIE: When I was a kid, the one thing that I carved my name into – and I didn’t even carve my name in. But I remember taking some house keys and carving “Mom” into whatever finish was on the front of a microwave.

TOM: Right.

LESLIE: This is like 1977, 1978. And I remember carving “Mom.” And everybody was so mad and my dad was like, “Did you do this?” And I was like, “No. It says, ‘Mom.’” And they were like, “Yeah, that’s not her actual name.”

TOM: That’s pretty funny. Yeah. Well, you really carved. I mean you dug in. I just sort of strategically pressure-washed the letters to form the “Hi, Mom.”

LESLIE: You cleaned the spot. I get it, I get it.

TOM: Exactly.

Alright. So whether you are cleaning, whether you’re repairing, whether you’re decorating, whether you’re painting, whatever is on your project list, give us a call. We’d love to help you out. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Missouri on the line who needs some help choosing a kitchen sink. Tell us what you’re working on.

BILL: Well, I’m having a kind of a tough time trying to decide on these new materials and stuff that they’re making the kitchen sinks out of now.

TOM: Yep.

BILL: And my wife didn’t want a stainless-steel sink and she wanted one that was colored or white: one that would be easy to keep clean and wouldn’t show scratches or cracks or anything like that.


BILL: And I was trying to keep away from the cast iron, because that’s what we have in there right now. Those things weigh a ton. And they’ve got some new ones that we were looking at over at the Lowe’s store and it’s called a Swanstone, which is a man-made product. And I don’t know how good those are.

TOM: I’ve had some experience with those composite products and I will say if she’s accustomed to a cast-iron, porcelain sink, she’s not going to be happy with a composite sink because they are a lot harder to keep clean. I’ve got one that’s sort of like the undermount sink that’s made of the – like sort of one of the Corian-wannabe products. And whenever we put wine in it or tomato sauce or something like that, it does leave a stain and we have to get the Bon Ami out and sort of scour the bottom to keep it clean.

You know, there’s – if you’re used to a cast-iron sink – and that is definitely the easiest one to keep clean, I’ve got to tell you.

BILL: The one we’ve got hasn’t been that easy and it’s shown scratch marks where the pots had scratched it and I just thought, “Well, we’ll just get something easier to clean.”

TOM: Right. But it has a nice, smooth, cleanable surface that doesn’t stain; that’s the nice thing about cast.

I was telling Leslie last week on the show that I just replaced a sink for my mom that was an Americast product – an American Standard product.

BILL: Yeah.

TOM: And it was actually covered by a lifetime warranty. So it had started to rust and chip in one corner and 17 years after she bought it, American Standard gave her a brand-new sink.

BILL: Wow.

TOM: And it was a cast-iron – like a porcelain, enameled kind of a sink. And she had a beige one that we took out and they gave us a new beige one, almost the same configuration 17 years later and popped it back in.

BILL: Well, I wanted to tell you thank you for taking my call and I really enjoy your shows.

TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.

LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.

JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.

TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?

JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.

TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that upfront cost of running the heating ducts.

If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.

Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates, because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.

So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant upfront cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?

JULIE: OK. Sounds good.

TOM: Well, October is Fire Safety Month and it’s the perfect time to make sure your family is safe from fires, which cause about 3,000 deaths every year. It’s not as simple as just changing your smoke-detector batteries. I can tell you, as a former home inspector, I’ve been through thousands of homes and there are a lot of obvious and also not-so-obvious sources of house fires that you could be missing.

LESLIE: Yeah. So, first, let’s talk about your heating equipment. Now, it keeps your home and your family warm but it can also be the source of fires from a variety of causes. So, you’ve got to make sure that you service your furnaces, your water heaters and boilers to keep them safe. Gas, oil, propane-burning appliances, whatever fuel source you use, they get especially dirty and they do have to be professionally cleaned every single year.

TOM: Yeah. And the same goes for your fireplaces and chimneys. They get combustion deposits that will build up. And those can lead to some pretty serious chimney fires. So have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep before the season gets underway.

And when you’re using the fireplace, always burn hardwood logs. Because the softwoods, like pine or cedar, they kind of burn sort of wet. And they can clog your chimney. They leave a lot more deposits on than the dried-out hardwood.

And also, you want to steer clear of burning paper or branches, which release a lot of embers that could also ignite your roof.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what else? Portable heaters. They’re increasingly popular for keeping your rooms warm but they also pose a very serious fire risk. So, before you use a heater, you want to make sure you read and study those manufacturer instructions. And be very careful not to place that heater where it can be knocked over. And keep it away from clothing, paper, furniture, anything else around your house that’s a combustible. And believe me, there are a lot of them at home.

TOM: And also, when you’re refueling those heaters, make sure you let them cool down completely. Don’t ever mix or substitute fuels, like gas and kerosene. Portable heaters are designed for one fuel and one fuel only. And if you mix it, you could have a very serious fire situation on your hands.

If you’d like more tips on how to get more out of your heating system and stay safe from fire, they are online, right now, at

LESLIE: Sam in Idaho, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

SAM: I have a [life of] (ph) cedar fencing someone gave me. I’m going to plan it. It’s 10 or 12 years old, never been in the ground. I’m just curious if you would recommend treating the post.

TOM: Well, you can treat the posts if you want to put like a wood life on it and make sure you get it into the end grain. It’ll help a little bit.

But the best way to stop that post from rotting is more about the installation. And what I would recommend is this: I would use a post-hole digger to dig it – the hole – just slightly wider than the post itself. I would put about 4 inches of gray gravel stone in the bottom of the hole, set the post on top of that stone and then use the rest of the stone to fill around the post and tamp it down.

Now, you can use a tamping iron or if you don’t have a tamping iron, you can use the butt end of a 2×4 to do the same thing. But do not concrete those posts into the ground, because the concrete will hold a lot of water against the post. It will cause rapid deterioration. If you just put the stone in, it’ll be really, really strong and it’ll drain well. So, that’s the best way to preserve it.

SAM: OK, guys. Thank you.

TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Donna in Arkansas is on the line and has a noise issue. How noisy is that place?

DONNA: Well, I don’t know. My son and his roommate live in a duplex. And the common wall between their living rooms, they can hear the neighbors and so I’m sure the neighbors can hear them. They were just wondering what they could do on that wall to block some of the noise.

TOM: What they would need to do requires a pretty significant addition to the existing wall. What they would do is they would have to put a second layer of drywall over the existing layer.

And there’s two options here. You can use a noise-resistant drywall; there’s a couple of different brands of this out there. And basically, it has some sound-deadening built into it. Or you can use a product called Green Glue, which is sort of like a gelatin-like adhesive. And you would apply that to the old wall and then you would put new drywall over that. And that creates a noise barrier.

And you also have to be very careful around the outlets and any openings in the wall. And they have to be sealed properly. And even after you do all of that, you will still probably get some sound through that wall.

Unfortunately, soundproofing is not – is harder to do after the fact than it is to do when you’re building it from scratch. So, not always the answer, exactly, that you want to hear but that’s really what it takes to try to soundproof the rooms in this situation.

DONNA: Alright. Well, we sure appreciate you taking our call and thank you very much.

TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: You can give us a call anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, fall is the time of year to plant next year’s flowering bulbs. We’re going to tell you what you need to do now to have the very best garden ever come spring, when The Money Pit continues.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where David is on the line. What can we do for you today?

DAVID: Yes, thanks for taking my call. I just had my 120-year-old house sided with new vinyl siding. I got relatively new vinyl windows. And I’m curious, do I caulk between the J-channel and the window frame on the outside?

TOM: No, you don’t have to.

DAVID: OK. That’s not necessary?

TOM: Nah, it’s not necessary. It should be watertight the way – if the installers put it in correctly, it should be watertight as it is. If they need – if it needed to be caulked, they would have done that. I know it looks like there’s a big gap there but that’s pretty typical. And you generally don’t have to caulk between the back of the J-channel and the side of the window.

DAVID: Yeah, I was just worried about if it rains from a certain angle it’s going to wick down through that gap and then run behind the siding?

TOM: Usually, that’s pretty tight and it won’t happen. I mean there’s no reason you can’t caulk it but I don’t necessarily think you have to do it.

DAVID: OK. That’s all I wanted to know.

TOM: OK. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to have the best flower garden ever, come springtime, now is the time to take an important first step and that’s actually planting the bulbs.

Now, to set yourself up for success when the weather turns warm again, here’s a few things that you’ve got to remember. Now, you want to make sure that you follow the basic rules of thumb.

Now, first of all, you want to dig a hole that’s three times as deep as that bulb is high. Then you want to go ahead and add bone meal into the hole itself or you can substitute that with some sort of squirrel deterrent. Because trust me, you’ll plant those bulbs. If they’re not deep enough and if you don’t take an extra step, you’re going to turn around and find a squirrel just sitting on your lawn eating those big, juicy bulbs. And they’ll be like, “Thanks. I see there’s 50 more that I can have for the next few weeks.”

And then, when you plant it, make sure you plant that bulb with the tip side up because, obviously, it’s going to grow up and out of the dirt. So those are the few things you’ve got to start with.

TOM: Now, let’s talk about timing. In general, the bulbs should be planted about six weeks before the first ground-freezing frost. Now, the ideal date is going to vary by local climate. The USDA has a plant-hardiness zone map that can give you some more tips on what’s right for your area.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you also want to make sure that you plant enough bulbs for the size of your garden. You should discuss the amount of bulbs per square foot of soil for various flowers. You know, for example, it’s six to eight tulips per square foot. And then adjust based on that bulb size. The bigger the bulb, the larger the flower.

And then try layering the bulbs. Think about planting different bulb types at different depths in the same hole. This way, you’re going to get staggered blooms.

TOM: Now, let’s say, maybe, you procrastinated a bit too long and the ground’s already gotten hard. Is there anything you can do with the pile of bulbs you’ve got on hand? Well, the answer is maybe. If the ground is frozen or wet from rain, you could wait for a thaw or dry weather and plant the bulbs deeper than you otherwise would. This is going to help protect them, especially the roots, from the cold.

And in the alternative, the bulbs can also be planted in pots and stored over the winter in a cool, though not freezing, dark place like maybe down in your basement. And then water it sparingly during that winter period. In the spring, the pots can be brought outside once again.

LESLIE: Valerie in Washington is on the line and has a question about outdoor décor. What’s going on?

VALERIE: I have a simple railing on my front porch and it’s cedar. Part of it’s stained to keep it from deteriorating, so it’s orange-colored. And the rest is just naturally-aged cedar-silvery. And I want it to be white to match the rest of my trim. So, there’s two different colors and do I do an undercoat – a primer? And is it oil-based? And can I get a stain – a pure-white stain – for it?

TOM: So, you probably can. What I would suggest is a two-fold approach. I would prime it first and then I would use a solid-color stain. Because I think that will give you the sort of more natural look that you seem to be looking for. But you should prime it and then apply the solid-color stain.

Now, because this is off-color orange, as you describe it, if you don’t prime it, you may get some of that that comes through. That’s why I want you to prime it first. You’d use an exterior-grade primer and you’d use a solid-color stain. If you buy both the primer and the stain from the same manufacturer, you can be sure that they’ll work well together.

VALERIE: OK. Does this matter if it’s oil-based or not?

TOM: I would probably recommend an oil-based primer, only because you’re going to get better coverage over that darker color. But in terms of the stain itself, that could be latex-based.

VALERIE: Oh. OK, then. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it and I enjoy your program.

TOM: Well, thank you very much, 888-666-3974.                    

LESLIE: Remember, you can reach us anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home improvement or your décor question or whatever it is you’re working on right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, is the outside of your home ready for a fresh coat of paint? If you’ve got 2 weeks, a 30-foot ladder and some experience, this makes an excellent DIY project. For the rest of us, a pro will get it done faster and with a much better result. We’re going to have tips to take on that project, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Andrew in Texas has had something very unfortunate happen to a pool: the steps broke? What happened?

ANDREW: Well, we were just chilling out in the pool one night and it’s got a brand-new liner in it. In East Texas, they use salt-water pools, so you have to line them. And my buddy was getting out of the pool. He stepped on the fiberglass steps, which were not brand-new. And unfortunately, his foot went through the steps.

LESLIE: Now, the fiberglass steps are underneath your liner or these sort of sit on top as like an attachment?

ANDREW: It’s an attachment to the liner. They’re two separate entities that are underwater.

TOM: OK. Can the fiberglass steps be removed from the pool for repair purposes?

ANDREW: I believe so. I have not tried it. In all honesty, looking at the degradation of the steps, the shape that they’re in, I think it’d be easier to just do a quick patch right now, if that’s possible, or just entirely remove the steps. But can I do that without sacrificing the liner?

TOM: Yeah, if you can get the steps out of the pool, like disconnecting them out of the pool, the easy way to do that patch is with more fiberglass. You can go to an auto-repair store – like a Pep Boys or a place like that that sells, perhaps, auto-body supplies – and you can buy fiberglass.

You could buy the fiberglass resin and you can buy fiberglass material itself. And you apply the resin to the step, you press the material in place, you let it dry and then you would add more resin on top of that and then more – and then gelcoat to finish it off.

Now, it’s not going to match, color-wise, but it could be very strong and perhaps, next time, your friend won’t step right through them.

ANDREW: An easy fix is an easy fix, right?

TOM: Yeah. But the easiest thing is to get it out of the water so that you don’t have to drain the water. And you could do that repair on your – maybe in your garage, on a workbench or something like that, and then just put the whole assembly back in after it’s nice and dry and strong again.

Andrew, does that help you out?

ANDREW: Very much so. I sure do appreciate the help. You all have a wonderful evening and God bless, alright?

LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to paint the exterior of your home to boost its curb appeal, change a color you don’t like or refresh a dilapidated paint job, fall is the perfect time to get this project done. But painting an entire home is a big project that requires proper planning, preparation and tools. And in most cases, it’s best left to a pro. We’ve got some tips and a few factors that will affect your project’s budget, in today’s Pro Project presented by

TOM: Now, first, keep in mind that painting an average house runs typically between about $1,000 and $6,000. That would cover, say, between a 1,500- and 2,500-square-foot house.

Now, pros are going to provide estimates primarily based on the area of walls or the siding that they’re going to paint, not so much the home’s square footage because that doesn’t really apply.

Now, the pricing, though, is going to be based on a few factors, including the type of siding and the height of the building. Now, wood and vinyl generally cost less than brick and stucco to paint. And the taller the building, the higher the price is going to be, as well, because the building’s got more harder-to-reach areas, it requires extra equipment and it takes more setup and cleanup time, all which are going to add to those costs.

LESLIE: Now, like many projects, however, there are a lot more things that you need to consider other than price. I think the biggest one is the quality of the finished job. That’s going to depend heavily on the quality of the workmanship and the quality of the materials.

You know, painters that take a lot of shortcuts on the required prep work, like scraping and sanding away the old finish, they’re going to find that a job is going to last a fraction of the time that it should.

TOM: Yeah. Likewise, failing to use primer, as well as choosing a cheaper paint, can also result in a lower-quality finish that’s just not going to last. It just won’t stand up. With paint, the labor is the biggest part of the expense, so make sure you always insist on using the best-quality paint so you get the longest-lasting finish. It’s actually a very small part of the overall budget.

And finally, get cost estimates. Never take a quote without the pro visiting your home. Always get at least three quotes. You want to ask for references and check painter reviews. And also take the time to inspect their previous work, including the recent work and also work that was done years ago. I mean it would be nice if you could see a product they did five years ago and find out that the paint job is actually still standing up. That’s really going to tell you whether or not this is a pro you should be considering or not.

LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a good point.

And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, 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 the best local pros.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jenise (sp) in Kansas on the line who’s got a question about grout. What can we do for you today?

JENISE (sp): I had installed a porcelain tile. It’s a heavy-duty tile. So I used epoxy grout on the floor and all throughout the shower, the floors, the ceiling, the walls. And what I’m wondering is, do I need to seal it? If I need to seal it, what kind of sealer should I use on an epoxy grout?

TOM: I don’t think you need to seal epoxy grout, because the epoxy is going to prevent things from soaking into it. It’s really the sand grouts that we want to seal.

JENISE (sp): Well, I’ve already noticed some discoloration. It was white grout and it’s already sort of a brownish tint.

TOM: Oh, is that right? That’s probably water stains.

JENISE (sp): Oh, OK.

TOM: Yeah, that – usually, that’s mineral salts that dry out. So, try to wipe it down with a white-vinegar solution – white vinegar and water. That might clear it up.

JENISE (sp): Was that a good choice to use epoxy, do you think, or …?

TOM: I think so, yeah. Absolutely. For a bathroom? Perfect location for that.

JENISE (sp): Thank you so much. I appreciate it. You have a good day now.

TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Dave in Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

DAVE: I’ve got a multi-family unit that I own and I’m having trouble with the floor. The major – the floor is – it’s a three-story building, the bottom floor being ground – or below ground level. Sort of like a garden apartment, the windows are at level.

The second and third floor, the floor is – it’s cement poured over – I think it’s plywood underneath it. But right inside the door, there’s a large area that’s completely shattered. And it dips down in sections, maybe as much as an inch, when you step on it. I’m just wondering how to repair this. Would I need to remove the whole floor?

TOM: What I think you’re describing is the fire retardant that is used in multi-family construction. So to repair this, what you need to do is to remove that surface that looks like concrete. I don’t believe it’s actually concrete; I believe it’s a product called Gyp-Crete – G-y-p-C-r-e-t-e. It basically goes on as a liquid and then it dries. And it looks like concrete but it’s really a fire retardant.

So you would tear out the old material. You’d repair the floor, which is obviously water-damaged being near a door. And then you would restore it with new Gyp-Crete to fill that area in. And if you do it in that order, you won’t disturb the fire retardancy of the floor construction but you’ll get the solidity back that you’re losing because of the rot.

DAVE: And the Gyp-Crete would be the same thickness? Because it’s almost 2 inches thick.

TOM: Yeah, you actually mix it up and you trowel it on.


TOM: So you’d mix it to fit.

DAVE: You say I’d have to repair the subfloor underneath it. So remove the plywood, go back to the joists and lay new plywood. OK.

TOM: Exactly. Yep. That would be a standard carpentry repair there. But you’re adding new Gyp-Crete on top of it to restore the fire protection.

DAVE: OK. Excellent. That’s what I’ll have to do.

LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

Remember, you can reach us with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Still to come, can mold grow on insulation? The answer is a definite maybe. We’ll explain, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement, décor or decorating project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. And you can do that, just like James in Delaware did.

Now, James writes: “I have moisture in my attic. Just my attic. I’m worried I’m going to get mold on my insulation. Any idea how the moisture is getting there or how do I get rid of it?”

TOM: Yep. Good question.

So, first of all, generally, if you’ve got too much humidity, too much moisture in your attic, James, the reason for that is because you have not enough ventilation. You know, the moisture inside your house, all that vapor pressure is going to get up in that attic space. You really can’t stop it. The key is, though, that once it gets there, how do we vent it out?

Now, most older homes may have gable vents. They could have an occasional roof vent. Sometimes, they have soffit vents. Very often, the soffit vents are blocked or they’re inadequate, there’s just not enough of them. But the best venting system is when you have a fully opened soffit vent and then a fully opened ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof. Because that basically lets air in the attic from down low around the soffits. It runs it up under the roof sheathing and then out that ridge. And in doing so, it kind of dries out any moisture that might collect on the roof sheathing.

Sometimes, when I go up into attics – especially in the years I was home inspecting – I could see, very clearly, the mold growing on the underside of the roof sheathing. And I knew that – in those days, you weren’t so much concerned about the health effects. But I knew that when that roof had to be replaced, that sheathing was going to have to be pulled off, as well – which really adds to the price of it – because it was just going to rot away. And sometimes, when it was really bad, you would actually see the sheathing delaminate, again, because there just wasn’t enough ventilation.

And also, surprisingly, you would think that mold can’t grow on insulation but I actually proved that it could. Some years ago, I was doing a sick-house investigation and we found that there was mold that was growing in insulation because this particular house had some recessed light fixtures, where there was airflow getting through those fixtures into the mold. And you know what the airflow was pulling into the insulation that was organic and could be mold food? Dust.

LESLIE: Oh, that’s interesting.

TOM: Yeah, the dust got trapped in the fiberglass just the same way it would if it was a filter. And then the mold was growing on the dust. So, that ended up being the cause of this problem and they had to literally take the roof off this house and strip out all the insulation, clean it real well and then put the whole thing back together again. So, for all those reasons, you do want to keep the attic as well-ventilated as possible.

And incidentally, there’s one type of insulation, though, that you do not have to ventilate an attic with and that’s spray foam. Because with spray-foam insulation, the attic becomes a conditioned space. It gets, essentially, sealed in.

And I tell you, we have a really old house and we did the spray foam to our attic. It was amazing the transformation. It always used to be hot as heck up there in the summer and super cold in the winter. Now, it’s pretty much just an even temperature all year long.

So, unless you have spray foam, though, you do need to increase your ventilation and that will reduce that moisture significantly.

LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project, James.

Next up, we’ve got Christy in Pennsylvania who writes: “I’m in the market for a new home. Can you tell me if there are any telltale signs that there’s been water in the basement? I know it’s supposed to be disclosed but I want to just make sure.”

TOM: Well, a good home inspector will have an eye for this. But for example, I saw a house not too long ago that had all sorts of gutter extensions on it. And I could see that they were trying to try to keep water away from the house. And I knew darn well the only reason they would be going through all those steps was if they had an ongoing water problem. And then, of course, going down to the basement, I could see mineral-salt deposits on the walls, especially where those downspouts had been backing up.

So, usually, homes that have water problems in the basement are going to have some telltale signs. And an experienced professional home inspector could detect those for you. And I think that’s really an important thing for you to do if you’re buying a house. Don’t ever buy one without a good-quality home inspection done.

LESLIE: No. You really need it. It could help you save so much money and actually give you an educated look at what you’re getting yourself into.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your beautiful fall day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and advice and ideas to take on projects around your home. If you’ve got questions, remember, you can always reach out to us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at

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 2019 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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