How To Stop Wood from Cracking in the Sun #0528172

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here to help you with whatever project you are working on or wish to work on or wish to hire somebody to get done and just don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you’re in the middle of it, you’re kind of stuck wondering if you go this way or that way. Give us a call. We’d love to talk about your house, your home, your castle, your apartment, your condo, your tiny home on wheels. Whatever you call home, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and let’s talk about that project.

Coming up on today’s show, this is a time of year that wood decks and trim and fencing take a real beating from the intense sun. So we’re going to give you some tips on how to pick the perfect stain or brightener to have it stand up to the season ahead.

LESLIE: Plus, have you ever noticed weeds popping up seemingly overnight from cracks in your driveway and sidewalks or even between bricks in your patio? Well, there’s an easy and all-natural way to deal with that unwanted greenery and we’ll have tips, just ahead.

TOM: And are you thinking about adding a pool to your backyard but you just don’t have the space? Well, there may be a solution and it’s called a “spool.” It might just be the perfect fit you need. We’ll tell you how to figure out if a spool is the right fit for you.

So give us a call right now. We’re here to talk about your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Geri in North Carolina needs some help with driveway repair. What is going on?

GERI: Well, I lived in the home I’m currently in for 23 years. And it had just a little pebble driveway when I moved in. About 20 years ago, I had an asphalt driveway put in. And over the years, I’ve done some of the maintenance stuff you’re supposed to have done, like slurry-seal things.

TOM: Right.

GERI: But probably I let too much time elapse between that a couple of times. And now, I’ve been told by a professional that it’s probably not fixable but I’ll get another few years out of it. But I’ll have to replace it with something. So, my question is: what’s the best, most cost-effective but attractive thing to put in place of an asphalt driveway?

TOM: Right. So, the reason that you want to replace the asphalt driveway, is it cracked?

GERI: It’s got lots of tiny cracks but they’re going to get bigger. And it’s probably going to start crumbling apart in the next few years.

TOM: OK. Is it sunken in in any places or is it just the surface wear and tear and the cracking?

GERI: It’s not sunken in, no.

TOM: Alright. Well, look, if it’s not sunken in, that means they must have done a really good job when they put it down in the first place, because you have no displacement of the driveway base itself.


TOM: And if you were to tear that up and start from scratch, it’s going to be a pretty expensive project.


TOM: The least expensive way to do this would be to add another layer of asphalt on top of it. Now, I’m not talking about just sealing the driveway but actually putting a thin layer over what you have right now.


TOM: And that’s going to look like a new driveway. And because the base is solid and it’s not moving – you know, sometimes we get these calls and it’s sunken, it’s twisted, it’s broken, it’s – because it all settled out. But if it’s relatively solid and all you’re talking about is just the degradation of the surface, another layer of asphalt on top of that might be the hot ticket. It’ll be the least expensive way to go and you’ll have what looks like a brand-new driveway in an afternoon, essentially.

GERI: Well, that sounds awesome because I was thinking I would have to be the one to tear it apart and get rid of it first and then have somebody else come out.

TOM: Yeah. No, we can think of other projects for you to do that same weekend if you like. But this one you don’t have to do.

GERI: OK. Alright. Well, that’s great. I will look into having that quoted and …

TOM: Alright. Good. And remember, when you talk to these contractors, a lot of them will try to talk you into a bigger project than you need. But if it’s structurally sound, I think that’s really all you do need to do.

GERI: OK. Alright. Well, thanks so much.

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

LESLIE: Paul in Pennsylvania is on the line and needs some help heating and cooling. What can we do for you?

PAUL: We had an add-on about 30 years ago in this house. It’s actually my childhood home we bought and it’s – but we are changing the – what used to be a mud room into a laundry room and a bathroom.


PAUL: With all that plumbing that’s going on in there, we’re trying to find the best way to heat it. The house is on central with a furnace – gas furnace. But I’m unable to get the ducting out there.

TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.

PAUL: Is there another way that might be better than just an electric-baseboard heating?

TOM: So this is just for the laundry room and it’s where – on the end of the house or something, where you don’t have ducts that go that far? Or why is it hard to get them out there? Just explain the layout to me.

PAUL: Floor is actually technically about 10 inches lower than where the foundation is for the house. It’s where it was poured about 10 – or about 30 years ago or so. And the only access point I have outside of the house with that is actually taken up with the drainage and the waste drainage and then also the water.

TOM: Got it. So you really need something that’s an independent system here is what it sounds like.

PAUL: Yeah.

TOM: And how big is this laundry-room space?

PAUL: The whole area, bathroom and that, is about 14×14.

TOM: I’ll tell you what, even though we rarely recommend this, the least expensive way for you to add what I think is just going to be supplemental heat is electric. If you were to put electric baseboard in there on a thermostat that was a timer thermostat, right, one where you could do a setback to it so that you only had that come on when you really needed it – electric heat is the most expensive but you’re talking about a really small space. And anything else that you do there – like we could talk about a mini-split ductless, for example – that’s going to be $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 by the time you’re done putting a compressor outside and a mini-split ductless up on the ceiling – up on the wall I mean.

PAUL: Yeah.

TOM: And it may not – it may be overkill for that small space. So I think if I just had a 14×14-foot space there – 150, 160 square feet, whatever that works out to be – that’s probably perfect for electric baseboard.

PAUL: Yeah. And I should probably not – with that, I shouldn’t even have to really worry too much about pipes bursting or anything. They’re PEX but …

TOM: Right. And you know what? The other thing that you could do is – what’s the bathroom situation now? Do you have a tile floor down? Or what kind of flooring do you have?

PAUL: We actually don’t have any flooring down right now. We just got the floor joists and the ceiling joists in. We’re finishing up the plumbing currently.

TOM: Why don’t you put electric radiant heat under the floor? Put it under the floor of the bathroom and the floor of the laundry room if it’s not done yet. And if you put it in right, again, it’ll be a very pleasant experience. And if it’s on the right kind of thermostat, you’re not going to have to worry about those costs getting out of control. And boy, there’s nothing better than having a warm floor when it’s chilly.

PAUL: Yeah.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find top-rated home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: Just ahead, before summer heat peaks, it’s a good time to make sure your deck and your fencing, your wood trim are ready to stand up. We’ll have staining tips to help you get this job done quickly and easily, next.

Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here to help you with your how-to or décor projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

LESLIE: Shirley in Nebraska is on the line and has some issues with heating water. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve had 4 in 28 years? That is an amazing turnover rate and not in a good way.

SHIRLEY: No, it’s not a good one. It’s not. And when I talked to someone from our gas company – we have a maintenance thing with the gas company. And they said, “Well, the one thing is maybe” – I said, “I thought with a water softener, you were supposed to be able to prolong the life of your appliances.” And he said, “Well, maybe your salt level is too high.”

Our plumber does not think so, so I just kind of wondered what your take was on it.

TOM: OK. First of all, if you have city water, then you shouldn’t need a water softener; you should just be able to work with that water right out of the tap. I think you’ve had extraordinarily bad luck having to replace the 4 water heaters in 28 years. If you feel that the water, even the city water, is a little bit hard then, of course, you can use a water softener. And you might want to consider using one that is a no-salt water softener, if corrosion is a concern.

There’s a product called EasyWater that uses electricity to polarize the hard-water minerals inside and force them to not stick to the sides of pipes and faucets and fixtures. So, that’s another option, as well.

But the next time you buy a water heater, I would look for one that’s got the best warranty, because you haven’t had very good luck with this and at least it’ll be covered.

SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you.

TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Luke in Illinois is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

LUKE: So I have gotten a few people to – estimates. I want to put steel roofing on my house. And one guy will tell me that I need to sheet it and the next guy will say that I can put it over the shingles. And I didn’t know what the standard process for that is. And now, I was also told by the same contractor, “Well, every few years, you have to replace the screws.” And that – I had never heard that before.

LESLIE: Yeah, that’s something we’ve never heard.

Now, when it comes to whether or not to remove the existing roof or shingles, I should say, before you go ahead and put on a metal roof – I mean in this instance, a metal roof is expensive. They’re very long-lasting, up to 50 years, and they’re beautiful. And I think the situation would be that you would want to remove the existing shingles, just to give yourself nice, smooth sheathing to go on top of – less weight on the roof, less heat being trapped and best usage of your money and use of the metal roof.

TOM: Luke, what kind of a roof do you have now? Under the asphalt shingles, do you have solid sheathing?

LUKE: Only on part. I have a house that’s over, probably, 200 years old. And it has – what they did – I’d say a shifty contractor put tar paper over the – where the slats were for the shake.

TOM: Did you have original, wood cedar shakes underneath that?

LUKE: No, it’s just – they just tore all the shake off and just put tar paper over it.

TOM: OK, look, the best thing for you to do here, as Leslie said, is to strip down to those rafters, re-sheathe the roof, then put the metal roof on top of that. Yeah, it’ll be less expensive to put the metal roof over the asphalt but you’re not going to get as clean or neat of a job.

And there’s really no point in adding to the way it’s been assembled right now, in kind of the inappropriate way it’s been assembled now, by sandwiching those shingles forever underneath that metal roof. I would take it completely down. And the guy that’s telling you to do that is, I think, giving you the best advice.

LUKE: Alright. Well, thank you very much for answering my questions.

TOM: You’re welcome, Luke. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, there’s nothing like the beauty of real wood for decks and fences, as well as siding and trim. But if you want to keep it looking that way, you need to protect it with a good coat of exterior wood stain. Here’s what you need to know to get that done.

First of all, if you’re working on new wood, it needs time to dry out. You can’t just build it and then slap something on it and think it’s going to stay there forever. You need the time to allow the pores in the wood to open and receive the stain. To test, you want to pour a cup of water on the wood. If it’s absorbed in 30 seconds, it’s ready. If not, give it more time.

Now, if the wood is older, it’s important that that surface is clean and free of dirt, mildew, algae, all of that. If there’s dirt on it, a pressure washer is going to work really well. But keep that pressure low to avoid damaging the wood. For mold and mildew, you want to use an application of Spray & Forget to eliminate the growth. Now, either way that you clean it, it’s wet just because you’ve made it wet. So, again, let it dry out before you apply anything to it.

TOM: Now, keep in mind that there are several levels of transparency when it comes to outdoor wood stain. You have clear stain, which is called “transparent,” you have semi-transparent and then you have solid color.

Now, if you really want to have stain that stands around for a long time, use solid color. It has more pigment in it. You still see the grain of wood and it’s not like paint. You’ll still see the grain but it has more titanium dioxide in it, which is the colorant that really gives that wood the rich tones.

So, I prefer always to use solid-color stain. In fact, I’m going to do a new fence project in just a couple of weeks. And always, always, always I use solid-color stain because the last one lasted 12 years. So, I know from which I speak.

Also, keep in mind the weather. Don’t start the project if it’s going to be in sunlight and temperatures of 80 degrees or higher right after you finish. It’s best to do this early in the morning, when it’s cool out, so that it dries well before the sun comes in and bakes it. Otherwise, it actually dries too fast and never really soaks into the wood.

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

CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.


CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.

TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.

Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag and mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.

So if you go to and you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.

It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.

CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.

TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.

CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So Thank you so much.

TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a new home. How can we help you with that?

BILL: My brother-in-law purchased a home lived in by a smoker of 13 years, a heavy smoker. Inundated the home with – considerably with the smoke. And we had mentioned some options to him, which was KILZ, take out the rug and sanitize his ductwork. Well, he’s done two of those three things, except for the sanitation of the ductwork and the vent system. And there’s still a preponderance of smell in there. And I was just wondering, are there any other mitigating things that we haven’t considered that we could provide to him to help him out?

LESLIE: Did you do anything to the subfloor that was underneath the padding?

BILL: He did nothing to the subfloor. I know that for a fact.

TOM: OK. It would be a very good idea to prime that.

BILL: He’s not a man of means, so to pull the rug up and put it back down is probably not going to be an option for him.

LESLIE: Are you sure that filters have been changed in the ductwork and in the cooling system itself?

BILL: OK, I know the filters have been changed because I changed them myself when I showed them to him. He has not had the ductwork cleaned and one of the recommendations we’re making is that he hire someone to get in there and clean it. And when you take out the big intake vent, there’s just yellow corrosion all around that foam as it leads up into the roof of the property. So I’ve recommended that he might want to have that foam pulled out.

But again, depending on the expense, I don’t know if he can do that. Is that something you guys would recommend?

TOM: Well, here’s another step that you could take in the meanwhile and that is that 3M has a filter that just came out on the market that is a carbon-based filter. So it’s designed to not only filter the air, in terms of dust particles, but it’s also designed to remove odors from the air. So you might want to think about replacing the HVAC filters with the 3M Filtrete Odor-Reduction Filters.

The carbon in there is pretty significant; it’s about five or six times more than what the nearest competitor has. It really is quite a lot and I think it might help a little bit in this case.

Cleaning the ducts when they’re that dirty and that gross is going to be probably a good move. But you might just want to replace the filter with one that’s designed to absorb odor in the meantime.

BILL: Well, I appreciate the assistance. We’ll try the filters and we’ll just go from there.

TOM: Try the filter. It’s not very expensive. You know, it’s probably $25, $30 and it’d be worth a shot.

BILL: OK. Hey, thanks for your time, guys. Good show. Appreciate it.

TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Just ahead, speaking of green, there’s one kind of green that we all really want to avoid these days and that is weeds. We’re going to tell you the one thing that you should be doing, right now, that will keep your lawn weed-free all summer, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Well, if you’re looking forward to having a lush, green, healthy lawn, preventing weeds from taking over is essential. But considering that a single dandelion plant can make up to 15,000 weed seeds, it’s a wonder any of us win at this battle.

TOM: Yep. But with the right tools, tips and products, you can take back control of your lawn and enjoy that lush, green space this summer. With us to talk about that is Jim Wood with Bonide Products.

Welcome, Jim.

JIM: Thank you, Tom and Leslie. Glad to be with you this morning.

TOM: As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. But that’s not all they bring. The weeds get working. And if you don’t stop them early in the season, you can lose that battle. You guys have been in this business for darn near 100 years. What’s the most common mistake people make when it comes to weed control?

JIM: Well, the most common mistake is they don’t get a jump on it early enough in the season. They tend to wait until they get a large influx of weeds and then they go out and try and get it under control. And it’s an ongoing process, Tom. The one application sometimes will control most of the weeds but it doesn’t do 100-percent control, so they have to come back and do a second application in most instances.

LESLIE: So, Jim, when is the ideal time? Are we thinking sometime around Mother’s Day? Is it after the frost is done? When do we know, actually, when to apply weed killer?

JIM: Well, the best time would be once we get consistent air temperatures above 45 or 50 degrees. Bonide makes Weed Beater Ultra, which is a premium lawn weed killer, which gives the homeowner the opportunity to get out early in the season, when air temperatures are about 45 degrees or higher, and get control of some of the hardest weeds to control, which are clover, henbit, wild onion, wild garlic and a few others. And then later in the season, as dandelions come up, most people will spray their lawn when the dandelions are in bloom.

TOM: Right.

JIM: Well, the dandelions are there prior to the bloom.

TOM: Right.

JIM: So when you spray earlier in the season with Weed Beater Ultra, you’ll get control of the non-blooming dandelions that are in a homeowner’s lawn.

TOM: So this product actually stops the weeds from blooming; it basically halts their growth. And then the grass comes up normally without the weeds in between everything?

JIM: Correct. It stops the growth of the weed. And the homeowner normally sees results in about 24 to 48 hours after application. And within two to three weeks, all the weeds are gone.

TOM: Now, you often reseed in the spring to fill in those bare spots and any damage that may have happened since the fall. Typically, with weed killers, don’t you have to wait about a month for that?

JIM: Most standard lawn weed killers that homeowners have access to prevent the homeowner from reseeding for about four weeks.


JIM: That is a true statement. Weed Beater Ultra, because it’s minus a particular herbicide that’s in all the traditional lawn weed killers, allows the homeowner to reseed their lawn in two weeks after they make an application of this particular product.

TOM: Well, that makes a big difference. Because the earlier you get that seed in, the more time you have for the roots to grow and be nice and deep and healthy before it starts to really heat up in the summer.

JIM: Correct. It’s an ideal time. When they make the application of the Weed Beater Ultra, they wait about two, two-and-a-half weeks, put down the grass seed. And normally, if they apply the weed killer early enough, Tom, they have an opportunity to get a good, strong growth of the grass seed that they put down. Because the longer they wait to put down an herbicide – and then they have to wait the additional two weeks after that – now you’re encroaching into the warmer months of summer. And that’s not the ideal time to plant grass seed.

LESLIE: Jim, any application tips to make sure that we apply it correctly or at the correct rate or the correct amount?

JIM: Well, in most instances, Leslie, depending on the means of application that the homeowner decides upon, they can use a ready-to-use, which is just the spot spray, OK? That’s for those homeowners that have a minimal amount of lawn weeds. Then we also have a concentrate where they can mix it in a tank-type sprayer and apply it that way. And then they can also purchase a hose-end product to treat the larger area of their lawn if they have a big problem with lawn weeds.

The thing that I tell most homeowners is a term called “spray to wet.” All they need to do is spray to wet the foliage. They don’t need to get it dripping off the foliage. All they need to do is spray to wet. And that’s the ideal thing to do with this particular product.

TOM: We’re talking to Jim Wood – he’s an expert with Bonide Products – about how to have a weed-free lawn.

So, Jim, if we do get out early, if we use the Ultra product and we prevent weeds from coming up, as the season goes on, is there any further application of weed products that we need to apply?

JIM: Well, when you get further on into the season, depending on how the year goes – and it varies from year to year – there might be an opportunity later in late spring/early summer where the homeowner may need to make an application of a liquid crabgrass-control product. Because a rainy spring sometimes washes away the crabgrass preemergent they put down, so they might have to come in and touch up later in the season.

You may also get a later germinating, broad-leaf weed in a homeowner’s lawn. And all the homeowner would need to do is just touch it up with Weed Beater Ultra.

TOM: Jim, where is the Weed Beater Ultra product available?

JIM: Homeowners can find that at independent lawn-and-garden centers, they can find it at farm-feed stores and they can also find it at hardware stores. Basically, the independent owners of those particular stores, you know, are supporting Bonide and we support them, as well. And they’ll find these types of products on their shelf.

TOM: So, the secret is this: get out early, apply the Weed Beater Ultra and enjoy a green, lush lawn all summer long.

Jim Wood with Bonide, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

JIM: Thank you, Tom.

LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about adding a pool to your backyard but you don’t have the space? Well, there’s another option called a “spool” and it just might be perfect for your yard. We’ll tell you how to know if a spool is right for your yard, next. We’ll also tell you what a spool is.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your how-to or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find the top-rated pros.

TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use.

Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement or décor question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

JEFF: Hi. I am calling because I have a house that’s about 16 years old.


JEFF: And where the brick front matches up to the vinyl siding, the sealant is starting to crack. And I’m not sure if it’s caulk that’s drying out or mortar that’s just cracked. So, I guess the question is: what’s the right kind of sealant to put between that brick front and the vinyl siding?

TOM: Yeah, I’m sure it’s caulk, because the caulk’s not going to last 16 years.

JEFF: Right.

TOM: So, what you need to do is to scrape out the old stuff and then recaulk it. And to do that, you’re just going to use a good-quality exterior caulk. I might suggest that you consider using silicone for this because that’s going to give you the best, probably, long-term durability. A little bit harder to use, Jeff, but it will last the longest.

JEFF: Now, I notice that the gap, in some places, is somewhere between half and a full inch. Do I need to put something behind it once I clean that?

TOM: Ooh, that’s huge. That’s really big. That’s not caulkable. You can only caulk with maybe a ¼- to 3/8-inch. Is that entire space filled up with some material now?

JEFF: Yes. And that’s – and it’s hard as a rock. That’s why I wondered if it was mortar behind the brick going into that.

TOM: Oh, it might not be caulk. There are different types of urethane sealants and I can’t really be sure. Here’s what I suggest you do, Jeff. Would you take a photograph of this and post it in the Community section at We’ll take a look at it and then get back to you with a recommendation. Does that make sense?

JEFF: OK. That’s great. I appreciate it.

TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, you thinking about adding a pool to your backyard but maybe you don’t have the space? Or maybe you’ve got the room but you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of maintaining a huge pool. If that’s you, a spool just might be the perfect solution.

LESLIE: Wait. What does sewing have to do with swimming? It’s very confusing.

Not really, guys. Spools are a hybrid pool of sorts. You know, it combines the word “spa” and “pool.” And as you might have guessed, it’s bigger than a spa or hot tub but smaller than a traditional inground swimming pool.

Here’s how you know if a spool is what you need in your yard. Say you’ve been thinking about it and you’re really still torn between a pool and a hot tub. With a spool, you’ve got both.

Now, if you’re not ready to commit to the level of maintenance that’s required by a full-sized pool – maybe you just don’t have the time or you really just don’t want to or you don’t want to hire somebody to do it – you’re not going to deal with that huge amount of maintenance that you see with a pool with a spool.

Also, if you’re intrigued by the idea of designing your spool so that it’s not just a recreational space but perhaps an attractive water feature, as well, you’ve got that opportunity there. And maybe you also like the versatility of just being able to adjust that water temperature quickly. With a smaller-size spool, you can do that. You can enjoy the perks of water jets, built in benches. Those are the things that you can add to your spool and then you can heat it up and cool it down and swim however you like in your spool.

TOM: I’ve seen some beautiful spool installations down in Florida, where folks have patios and those sort of screened rooms that cover them. Absolutely gorgeous. So, if you’re thinking about it, take a look at the spools.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the full article we wrote on this topic: “Spool Pool: The Hot, New Trend for Cooling Down.” It’s online, right now, on

LESLIE: Rose in New Jersey is on the line and she has a very busy tree that’s causing lots of problems with roots.

What’s going on, Rose?

ROSE: Well, the tree, the roots are ruining the lawn. And they suggest I have the tree taken down. But it’s so beautiful I don’t want to take it down. So they’re suggesting I wait until September and have topsoil put down. And I was just wondering, what do you think I should do?

TOM: Well, I mean they’re correct. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You can’t trim back the roots. You can trim back other things on a tree but you can’t trim back the roots. So, you have to either cover those roots with more topsoil or wood chips or anything else, depending on how you – what you want it to look like. Or you’ve got to say bye-bye to the tree.

It’s funny you mention this because just today, I had to take out a big maple tree in my yard, which I was really sad about because I love the tree. But it was just dying from the inside and it was getting dangerous. And so the tree company I hired ground out the stump for me and left about 6 inches or 8 inches of wood chips sort of flush with the soil. So I had to – I took three barrels – wheelbarrows – of wood chips out of this hole, filled it all with topsoil and planted seed. That was my project for today.

So, I do feel your pain. If you love this tree, you want to save it, you’re going to have to put up with those roots and you’re going to have to cover it. And if you’re – if they’re telling you to wait until September so the grass grows – but the other thing is if you’ve got a big tree, you’re going to have a hard time getting the grass to grow. So, you might want to think of another type of plant – a shade plant – that could sustain itself there. Because right under that tree, it’s not going to be easy for the grass to grow.

ROSE: Oh. Because the tree is so big. It’s about 25 years old. Beautiful tree.

TOM: Yeah. Well, then just keep it and enjoy it. Deal with the roots. You’re going to have to cover it with something.

ROSE: So you think I ought to have the topsoil put down and have it reseeded?

TOM: Well, you can do that but like I said, I don’t know that you’re going to get much grass to grow under a big, old tree. The sun can’t get there. So you might want to think about a shade plant, like Pachysandra, for example.

ROSE: OK. Well, thank you so much for taking my call.

TOM: You’re welcome.

LESLIE: When it comes to your home, every inch and every penny counts. So don’t waste them where they’re not needed. Design trends it’s time to ditch, when The Money Pit continues.

TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question 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. That’s online at

LESLIE: Alright. But you can call in your question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online at, just like Margo in South Dakota did.

Now, Margo writes: “My home has textured walls. I don’t like it. What can I do about it?”

TOM: You could move.

Well, you know, you could scrape the textured walls but it’s a heck of a lot of work. If it’s really textured, you’re never going to get it all off. And even if you paint it, we’d tell you to use a flat paint because it hides as much as possible. Use anything that’s got a finish to it, you’ll see it with every bounce of the light.

But you may end up having to actually re-cover those walls with new drywall. You can use thin drywall, like 3/8-inch drywall. Put a second layer on it and then spackle the seams. It’ll hide it completely. And it won’t really impact the size of the room too much because it’s only a little bit of space there. But that might be the best solution if you really want smooth walls. You cannot possibly get all of that off.

LESLIE: No. And I think the only thing you’d have to adjust is maybe your outlets. You’d have to pull them out a little bit and the light switches and things, just to even up with the edge. But that’s an easy project.

TOM: Well, have you ever made a design decision and very quickly thereafter had a bit of buyer’s remorse or decorator’s remorse, I guess, in this case? Well, you’re probably in good company because some common upgrades are actually a big waste of space and money.

Leslie has tips on design decisions you’d think twice about, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie, this has never happened to you, has it?

LESLIE: Yeah. I find I get design schizophrenia. I work with so many different designers on so many different shows and so many different types of styles that suddenly, something I loved maybe a few months ago – not that I’m over it. I just love something else and want that, too.

But here, truly, are some things, guys, that have just come and gone the way of the design dodo, if you will. One thing that I feel like everybody loved for a long time was kitchen desks: the ones that are built in. And maybe about 20 years ago, they started popping up and they’ve really been a staple since. But with laptops and tablets, those really are the computers of today and you can work wherever you want, so you don’t really need a desk. And then they end up just being a mess. People stack up their papers and bills and it really just isn’t necessary. So ditch that kitchen desk, add more counter space, more storage. Keep your paperwork in your office or bedroom, anywhere else. Just keep that kitchen a little less cluttered.

Now, whirlpool tubs, those are another must-have of the past 20 years or so. But as any whirlpool-tub owner knows, they’re just more likely to be filled with dust than with water. So ditch that whirlpool tub and install a his-and-her vanity, a spacious shower, a regular soaking tub that’s not quite as big instead but you can still get your whole body in. Really, think about it: you end up with things that you’re just not using.

And a microwave over your kitchen range, that really seems like an obvious choice but it’s actually kind of dangerous and also silly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heated up a bowl of soup for the kids and I can barely get it out of the microwave. And now I’m using pot holders and I’m picking it up over my head and I’m always wondering if I’m going to burn myself. Why not install your next microwave in a drawer under your countertop? It saves a ton of space. They look really cool. And it just helps you save a lot of steps and a lot of trips to the hospital or at least to the cold water because you burned your hands.

Lots of fun things give you more space.

TOM: And you’re not exactly installing it in an existing drawer.

LESLIE: No, no.

TOM: You’re talking about a drawer-style microwave, right?

LESLIE: Correct. It looks like a drawer but it’s really a microwave. The front – the door, instead of swinging out, it slides in and out like a drawer. And then when you put things in, you kind of drop it into it – not drop it, place.

TOM: That’s got to be so much easier on your back, too, right? Because when you have your arms extended and you’re carrying something that’s really heavy, that puts a lot of stress on your back. So, makes a lot of sense.

Hey, coming up next time on The Money Pit, are you thinking about adding a central air-conditioning system just before the summer gets super hot? But maybe you’re afraid the construction needed to run those ducts is going to make a real mess of your house? There’s a type of A/C system called “mini-ducts” and it might be the answer. We’ll explain, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


(Copyright 2018 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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