Big Storage Tips for Small Space

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: What are you working on this fine winter day? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your DIY dilemmas, your décor challenges. I just gave Leslie a décor challenge today for Mom’s house. We’re looking for a new floor color for her house.

And Leslie, let me ask you about that because a lot of folks think that if you have a small room, that you have to make everything light: light floor, light walls, light cabinets, light ceilings. But then you don’t get any contrast. Wouldn’t it look better and bigger if you used, say, a darker floor or a darker accent wall and make everything else pop?

LESLIE: I mean I personally love the look of a dark wood floor or a dark laminate or something that sort of replicates a dark look on a floor and then keeping everything else light.

TOM: Right.

LESLIE: Because then I feel the walls feel tall, the room feels big, the ceiling feels far away. I feel like that’s just a good illusion, so I think it really depends on what your cabinet color – are you open to changing a cabinet color to accommodate a darker floor? You’ve got to really look at all the other things. And I can’t wait to dive into those pictures you’ve sent me from your mom’s place.

TOM: Hey, if you’ve got questions just like that, you can post them to our Community page at MoneyPit.com. You could also pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about the many homeowners that are scaling down to smaller homes and facing a simple challenge: where the heck do they put all their storage? We’ve got some great ideas pulled together for some places in your house you may not have thought about, that you can use for hidden storage.

LESLIE: Plus, if you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your electric bill, there’s really nothing better than getting it practically for free. And that’s exactly what can happen if you install a solar-energy system.

Now, it is a project that you can do yourself and you can save a lot of money in the process. So we’re going to have some tips for that, just ahead.

TOM: And with winter about halfway behind us, it’s time to think about making sure your outdoor trees will bloom in the spring. So we’ve got some tips on how you can keep trees alive and have them thrive through the winter.

LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Arrow PT Pneumatic Staple Gun, plus a supply of staples. Now, this is a tool that’s perfect for a huge variety of repair. And I always use it for décor projects, like making a headboard or upholstering furniture or making seat cushions. You can even use it to carpet some stair treads. So much you can do and Arrow, of course, always helps you get those projects done by giving you the step-by-step. So, this is a great prize this hour.

TOM: That Arrow PT Pneumatic Staple Gun, plus a supply of staples, together is worth about 50 bucks and going out to one listener. So pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Loretta in Massachusetts is obviously scarred from such a cold and snowy winter in Massachusetts and needs some help with a heating question.

What can we do for you, Loretta?

LORETTA: Well, I would like to know if it’s going to be cost-effective for me to change a heating system that I have, which is now oil. I do not have heat – gas in my street. And I’d like to make an apartment out of my basement where the boiler and all that – the tank and all of that stuff is.

TOM: OK.

LORETTA: So I was wondering, you know, if – can I – is this something that I can do? I have two floors. The basement would be a third, really. And I don’t know if you can have more than one pellet stove or how this would work. Is it clean?

TOM: So, first of all, you want to add heat to the basement space. Is that what you’re asking us?

LORETTA: Right. I want to get rid of the mess down there: the burner and the oil (inaudible).

TOM: Well, how are you going to heat the rest of the house?

LORETTA: Well, this is what I was – my big question. Can I heat the whole house with pellet stoves?

TOM: No.

LORETTA: OK.

TOM: Not unless you’ve got a little cabin in the woods. You need your central heating system. It would be foolish to remove that. Your house would lose dramatic amounts of value.

If you want to improve the energy-efficiency of it, you may be able to replace the oil burner or replace the boiler itself and pick up a lot of efficiency.

Now, in terms of this apartment, if it is a boiler, therefore a hot-water heating system, it’s easy to add an additional zone and have that zone only heat the basement. That would be the most cost-effective way to do that and that is one big advantage of having a hot-water heating system. Because with a zone valve and with the plumbing being right there, you could easily add an additional zone and heat the basement on its own zone. So this way, it will only heat when that particular thermostat calls for it. But keep the boiler. You’re going to need it for the rest of the house.

Loretta, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Jeff in Michigan is on the line with an ice-damming issue. How can we help you?

JEFF: What we have – we have a house that was built 20 years ago. It’s Cape Cod. And on the front part of the house, during the cold season when we get snow and ice, it seems to be building up ice dams in the front. And it has, oh, probably 18 inches of insulation in the upstairs. So I’ve even tried the electric heat tape to try cutting it back and it still seems to ice up. So I’m just trying to figure out what I can do to solve that problem.

TOM: OK. So the insulation, does that sort of get pressed right up against the underside of the roof sheathing? Or do you allow ventilation to pass over the top of the insulation?

JEFF: What it does is they have Styrofoam ducts up to it, down to the front of the fascia.

TOM: Is there ventilation in the soffit areas that air can pass over that? Because the problem here is this, alright: heat is passing up through that insulation and it’s warming the roof directly above it. And as a result, the overhang is staying super cold, so it’s freezing there and causing that dam to build up. If you have proper ventilation where the air is getting into the soffits, running up underneath the roof sheathing and out at a ridge, that will protect against ice dams. That’s all you can do, really, inside.

From the outside, do you – have you had to do any repairs as a result of these ice dams? Have you actually gotten water leaks or anything like that?

JEFF: No, we have not.

TOM: Because if you do, the good news is that they’re covered by homeowners insurance. And if that was the case, I would have that portion of my roof removed and make sure I have ice-and-water shield installed, up 3 or 4 feet from the roof edge, to make sure I never got any leaks in there again.

JEFF: OK. Alright.

TOM: So I would take a look at the insulation, make sure you’re getting good ventilation above it. And if it does happen again and you ever get a leak, call your homeowners insurance agent, get a claim filed, and then have ice-and-water shield put in so it never happens again, Jeff.

JEFF: OK. Great. I appreciate it.

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

LESLIE: Deborah in Missouri has a question about energy. What can we do for you?

DEBORAH: I have a 1,450-square-foot home and it’s split-level. And our energy bills are like $350 a month. Trying to figure out, basically, where the hole is and how to patch it up.

TOM: Is that consistent across the year? Or is that a winter high or a summer high or what?

DEBORAH: It seems to be a – well, definitely a summer high. We just got through the summer. We’re pretty consistent throughout those three months. In the winter, we usually – most years it’s been around 250 to 300.

TOM: You know, your question is a good one, because a lot of people try to figure out where their home is using the most energy. So I have a couple of suggestions for you. One of which is to contact your local utility company and find out if they have the ability to do an energy audit of your home.

Some utility companies, as part of their licensing requirements, will offer services like this for a small fee or sometimes free, where they’ll have an energy auditor come to your house and look at all of the ways your home is using energy and give you some advice on where you should be concentrating on your improvements.

Short of that, we can always – only talk sort of generically. But the number-one place that you should be trying to make more efficient would be your attic, because most homes don’t have enough insulation. And if you popped your head up in your attic, what we would want you to see is 15 to 20 inches of fluffy insulation. If you don’t see that, then that’s the first place where you’re wasting a lot of energy.

DEBORAH: Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks for the resources.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: Up next, the tiny-home craze has created an exciting and creative movement to live small. But furnishing and decorating those smaller homes require some creative thinking. We’ll share some great ideas that are working for other small households to do just that, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We’d love to help. The number is 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.

Plus, another good reason to call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT is that we are giving away a very fun tool. It’s the Arrow PT50 Pneumatic Staple Gun with a supply of staples. Now, this tool gives you serious pneumatic performance at a price that everybody’s going to love. It’s got great features, like an easy-load magazine, a very comfortable grip and a contact safety. It really has the power and versatility to tackle any home project.

Plus, I love this feature, Leslie, because I know that you do a lot of upholstering and your hand gets really sore. This will bump-fire. For those that don’t know what bump-fire is, talk about it.

LESLIE: So, bump-fire is when you sort of keep the trigger pulled back and then you’re just placing the staple gun down on top of your project repeatedly. So it’s just pressing down on the safety mechanism causing the staple gun to fire, which is really helpful if you’re in a tricky spot or you’re just trying to move along a straight edge of, say, a headboard or the back of a sofa. Not something that I recommend all the time but for the right application, it really does help a lot.

TOM: Now, here’s a project that you could do with that staple gun and the bump-firing mechanism: you can carpet some stair treads. And you know what? That’s one of the projects that ArrowFastener.com has on their website. Just go there – ArrowFastener.com – click on Projects. And I love that they have the step-by-step, the photos, the materials, just everything you need for that particular project and actually, many others. So check it out at ArrowFastener.com.

But for now, if you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you might just be the lucky winner of that pneumatic staple gun, plus staples, worth 50 bucks. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

PAT: Yeah. I have a question about some flooring. Our flooring is about 25 years old. We have carpet and vinyl laminate on about 800 square feet. And I know the subfloor is good but I want to pull up the old carpets and lay some flooring down. And I saw some vinyl – some of the new vinyl-plank stuff.

Now, I’ve laid a laminate floor before that had the backing attached and that wasn’t too bad. And I was just curious – the main floor, I want to do it all together because it all runs together. But it’s got a bathroom. It’s a quarter-bath and a kitchen and a dining room and the family room and a landing in a hall. So there’s lots of corners and stuff like that. And I’m just curious what your opinion is on that new vinyl-plank flooring. Is it easier to install, more durable?

TOM: Yeah. I think you’re talking about the engineered vinyl plank, I think. The EVP?

LESLIE: It’s like the rubberized vinyl. It looks like a plank. Some of them glue together with an overlapped tab that has an adhesive already on it. Some of them, you actually put an adhesive down, almost like a mastic, and then apply it like a tile. So it depends on which kind you’re looking at, because one of them is much thicker than the other and they both then have a different prep and a different adhesion process. So I think you really need to look into which that is.

PAT: Mm-hmm. Now, the one I saw at the home show here, locally, was – it was kind of – it was a vinyl. You could bend it and it looked like a wood grain but it was kind of a click-together installation. But it wasn’t like the solid, the firm laminate flooring that clicks together. It wasn’t soft. You can’t bend that but this vinyl stuff you could bend. And it looked pretty nice.

TOM: Yeah, Pat. You’re talking about a product called EVP or engineered vinyl plank. That’s another type of vinyl flooring much newer to the market. But from what I’ve seen of it, it’s 100-percent waterproof. It does click together much like other types of laminate floor would and the finish on it is super durable. Lumber Liquidators makes one that has a 30-year finish on it and it looks just like wood. So that is definitely another option for you.

PAT: Now, do you – the stuff I’ve laid before already has the backing attached. The click-together laminate? That has backing attached. Now, for something like this, do you just lay it right over the subfloor and the linoleum in the case as long as it’s even and good?

TOM: Yeah. In fact, this is a floating floor much like a regular laminate floor would be. So it’s not adhered to the old floor; it lays on top of it. So, as you say, as long as the floor is flat with no big dips or bumps or humps in it, then it just is going to lock together and lay right there and you’re going to trim it along the edge, against the baseboard molding.

PAT: OK. Well, thank you for your help.

TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.

LESLIE: Well, today, many consumers are choosing to scale down to a smaller home and embracing a simpler life. But finding storage-space solutions requires some creative thinking. Now, here’s some great ideas that are working for other small households.

First of all, you want to try to sketch it out first, if you can. It doesn’t have to be a perfect drawing. It can be any kind of drawing: mechanical, hand-drawn, computerized, whatever it is, however you feel comfortable just sort of communicating that idea. If you can draw out the room in your home first and pencil in your furniture placement, you can see exactly how you can use it before move-in day.

And if you do want to get more technical, I mean there are so many different types of software that you can use. There are simple, easy-to-use ones for an iPad or an iPhone or sort of a tablet solution, where you can just basically put the dimensions of the room in and it sets that space for you and then you drag and drop furniture and adjust their measurements. Or you can go more high-tech, where you’re doing something more in SketchUp or AutoCAD. Those things are really helpful, not as difficult to utilize. There are so many great tutorials online, so don’t be afraid to try the more tech-savvy side of it, as well.

TOM: Yeah. If something’s not going to fit in your room, it’s a good time to figure it out.

LESLIE: Before you’re actually moving it.

TOM: Before you actually move it in, exactly.

Now, another thing you want to be aware of is to choose furniture with hidden storage space. There’s lots of cool furniture out there that does this. We’re talking about fun and unique ottomans and end tables and coffee tables. There’s even some that have a pop-up lid that has some storage area in between. Because you know what? If you can’t see it, the house doesn’t look quite as messy.

LESLIE: Now, another great option is using cubes. Cubes are a great shape because you see them in ottomans and you see them in sort of storage units, as well. So why not sort of combine the two? You can find an ottoman that’s cube-shaped that opens up and you can store things in.

You can find cube-style storage. I’ve seen them in benches, I’ve seen them in low ones that are maybe one cube high by three wide, that you can store shoes in or mittens and hats and keep that in the foyer. I’ve even seen ones that are three, four, five cubes wide by however many cubes high, that you can sort of customize and then sort of build at some of those big-box stores or even some of more of those home décor stores that, say, maybe have a red bullseye outside.

TOM: Yeah.

LESLIE: I’ve seen them all over the place.

TOM: Tarjay.

LESLIE: Exactly. That’s the very fashionable side of Tarjay.

But truly, there are so many different options when it comes to a cube-style storage unit, that you can go big or go small and put things away attractively and concealed. And no one will ever know how much junk you’re hiding.

TOM: And finally, here’s one that we use and that is to use the space under beds. But not just shoving stuff under there, no.

First of all, we have risers on our beds so that they provide a bit more – about 4 inches more – room underneath. And then you can have some of these very handy, slide-out Rubbermaid trays. They have lids on them and you could put sweaters in there, you could put shoes in there. And they have wheels. And I tell you what, there’s a lot of space under a queen-size bed to store stuff like that. Or if you have a twin bed or a king bed, all the better. But put the beds up on risers. You don’t really feel that 4-inch difference when you’re trying to hop on the bed. And it’s not that big of a deal. But the space underneath really helps you store a lot of stuff out of sight and out of mind.

So, just a few ideas. We’ve got a great post online about how to find storage in smaller houses. Head on over to MoneyPit.com because there’s lots more tips just like that.

888-666-3974. Standing by to help you with tips for your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now.

LESLIE: Up next, if you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your electric bill, there’s really nothing better than getting it practically for free. And it’s actually achievable. It actually can happen if you install a solar-energy system. Now, it’s a project that you can do yourself, which might seem surprising. And doing so will save you a lot of money in the process. We’re going to tell you how, 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.

TOM: Well, if you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your electric bill, there’s nothing better than getting it practically for free. And that is exactly what can happen if you install a solar-energy system.

LESLIE: Yes. But if you’ve considered solar but thought it was way too expensive, we’ve got some news for you. It’s actually very affordable if you do it yourself. It’s possible to do just that with the help of our next guest. He’s Zach Stevens. And Zach is an expert with Wholesale Solar.

Welcome, Zach.

ZACH: Thanks for having me on, guys. Excited to be here.

TOM: So, Zach, I think that doing your own solar-system installation is something that not very many people thought was even possible. You guys at Wholesale Solar have been selling direct to DIYers for years. How hard is it to put a system together?

ZACH: For most homeowners that are pretty handy, that have the essential tools in their garage already, it’s not too hard. I mean if you’re comfortable, say, putting in a hot tub or maybe a water heater or building a deck, then solar is going to be just as easy if not easier than doing any of those projects. It’s really not too difficult.

LESLIE: Now, I feel like there are a lot of different types of solar systems for residential houses. So, how do you know where to even start to look and which one might be best suited for you?

ZACH: If you’re a typical home, you’re going to be tied to the utility company. In that situation, what makes the most sense is to just get a grid-tied system which, essentially, means you’re backfeeding your electrical panel with the solar panels. And any excess power that’s generated from the panels flows back out onto the grid, crediting your meter.

TOM: So does that mean you’re kind of selling your electricity, that you made in your very own home, back to the utility company?

ZACH: It’s pretty rare to actually sell it back. There are some programs out there where you can sell back. But for the most part, you’re just getting credit.

TOM: Let’s call it a “merchandise credit.”

ZACH: Sure, sure. That works, yeah. That’s the most popular type of system. If you’re building a house in the middle of nowhere, out in the woods and there’s no access to utility lines or it’s really expensive to bring utility power into the property, then off-grid solar is the solution for you. And that involves batteries and storage.

TOM: Got it. So, for the most part, if you are already on electric utility power, you’re going to be feeding that back, getting a credit and that’s that much electricity you don’t have to pay for from the utility company.

Now, if you’re trying to figure out how much of a system you need – in terms of size and what’s going to work best on your house and whether you have the right orientation, maybe you need to think about cutting back on some large, overhanging trees, those sorts of decisions – can you guys at Wholesale Solar sort of guide a consumer through that, as well?

ZACH: Yeah, we certainly can. Grid-tied solar is pretty basic. It comes down to really three things. Your electrical usage per month. So, let’s say you use 1,000 kilowatt hours per month on average. Well, we can size a system for you that will produce 1,000 kilowatt hours a month on average and offset your bill entirely. You know, then it comes down to, well, can you fit enough panels to produce that much power on your roof? So, we’ll have to get up there or the homeowner will have to get up there and measure the roof to make sure they can fit that many panels. And then, of course, budget comes into play, as well.

LESLIE: Now, what kind of impact do you think that solar would have on someone’s property value? Do you see this as a benefit or does it really depend on where you are in the country?

ZACH: In most cases, it’s a benefit, yeah. It adds value to the house. It’s like putting in an accessory like, say, a hot tub or a nice patio in the backyard, something that adds value to the property. A lot of people will see a solar system on the house and say, “Geez, yeah, that house isn’t going to have an electric bill. I’ll pay a little bit more for that house, sure.”

So, yeah, I’d say it definitely, in most cases, it does add value.

TOM: What kind of savings are we talking about when you do your own system? Typically, you would call a solar-energy contractor and they would come out and give you a pitch. And I think – feel like today it’s pretty confusing, too, because they’re always talking about renewal credits and tax rebates and leases and power-purchase plans. It seems like it’s too hard to buy a system these days. I like the fact that you guys have sort of broken it down and made it really easy. But what kind of savings would a homeowner experience if they did the project themselves, instead of hired out pretty much the whole thing, soup to nuts?

ZACH: Typically, from what I’ve seen, is if you were to hire a solar contractor, it probably will cost you double the price of the equipment. So, if you buy $10,000 worth of solar equipment to put on your house, it would probably cost you $20,000 to have someone come out and put it in.

TOM: Now, what if you purchased the equipment but wanted to have just the installation done? Are there contractors out there that will accept a job like that without providing the equipment? You just want to basically hire them for the labor?

ZACH: Definitely, yeah. A lot of our customers will do that, as well. So I’d say the majority of our customers will take on, I don’t know, probably 80 percent of the job. The racking and actually mounting the panels isn’t too hard for most people, whether it’s on the ground or the roof. From there, all you really need to do is run conduit between the panels and your inverter location, which is typically down next to your electrical panel. And of course, there’s actual physical tie-in to your electrical panel, which most people will hire out an electrician to do that. But typically, for the average-sized job, it’s just a few hours of work to do for an electrician.

TOM: Wow. Yeah, it’s a lot easier than people would think.

We’re talking to Zach Stevens. He is an expert with Wholesale Solar. This is a company that has been selling solar equipment, direct to the public, for many years now. It’s interesting because I think it’s not something that people think – they don’t consider solar as a DIY project.

Zach, how did you guys get into this? And what’s your background?

ZACH: I got into solar working for a contractor. So, when I was out installing professionally for, geez, it was about eight years, I never thought or considered people would do solar on their own, either, until I started working here. But Wholesale Solar started as an installation company and then started designing systems online and selling direct to customers. In 2012, it was sold to the employees, so we’re an employee-owned company and really fun to work here.

LESLIE: Now, when you go ahead and put a solar system onto your home you’re, of course, going to see the benefits of savings in your energy bills. But what about tax credits? I feel like the government is probably giving you a lot of incentives. How do you know where to look to make sure you’re filing the right things or doing so in the right, timely fashion? You don’t want to miss out. So, how do you not get lost?

TOM: There is a 30-percent federal tax credit for solar systems, so that applies to the equipment you purchase. And if you hire, say, an electrician to do the tie-in, you can take their bill and get a 30-percent tax credit on that, as well.

So, there’s an IRS tax form you fill out. We’re not really tax experts here. We typically just inform our customers to say, “Hey, talk to your accountant about it and they’ll help you fill out the forms.” Or say you use TurboTax or one of those online tax websites and you can go that route, too. There is a 30-percent federal tax credit.

TOM: Zach, what if the house doesn’t face south, for example? Is it possible to still have solar if you don’t have the optimal roof angle that you might need?

ZACH: Definitely. There’s plenty of systems out there with panels on the east-facing roof or west-facing roof. It’s just the amount of sun you get is a little bit less. If you want to offset your entire usage, you just need to have more panels to take up that extra power you’re not going to get on a south-facing roof. So, you just need a few more panels, that’s all. But yes, it will still work.

TOM: And could you give a homeowner an idea of kind of what they should expect in terms of that by, say, maybe using Google Earth to take a look at their house from the sky?

ZACH: Yeah. There’s other websites, too, you can look at. Basically, you punch in numbers or you say, “OK. You’re going to have maybe a 10-kilowatt system on your house. If the orientation is 270 degrees west, your solar panels are going to produce this much power in a year.” So it’s pretty easy to figure that out.

TOM: Well, it’s a great time to add solar to your home. It’s not as hard as you think. The folks at Wholesale Solar can help you with the design and the speccing, essentially, of the system. And then you could buy it for about a third or more of what you’d pay for a traditional solar – that there’s no mystery to it.

You lay out, step by step – I was watching, I think, a 20-minute video there on how to actually do the panel installation. It was very informative and very well done. So, good job on that. So, thanks for the work that you guys put into it, because I think it does make a difference to consumers. And I’m sure it helps your business, too.

ZACH: Yeah, yeah, certainly. Thanks. Yeah, it does.

TOM: Zach Stevens, thank you so much, again, for taking some time to educate us today on what it takes to do your own solar system.

ZACH: Not a problem. It was fun to be here.

LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, will the trees in your yard survive winter’s chill? We’re going to have the steps to ensure that the answer is yes, they will, 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: Standing by to help you out with answers to your home improvement question. Help yourself first: call us, right now, 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. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

And if you do call us, we will also toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat, because we’ve got a fun tool we’re giving away from our friends at Arrow. It’s the PT50 Pneumatic Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples.

You’ve used this tool on quite a few projects, Leslie. You like it?

LESLIE: I mean I really do. A staple gun, I find, is so useful for so many different things. And a pneumatic staple gun is super useful for a lot more different things, from molding projects to upholstery projects to décor projects. There’s so much that you can do that almost makes you feel sort of superhero-like in your abilities, because the tool just helps you to do so.

And what’s so great about Arrow is if you go to their website, which is ArrowFastener.com, there’s a whole selection of projects that you can do. And they give you the step-by-step and they really do build your confidence that you’ll be tackling projects in no time, that you just simply didn’t think you could do. So, it’s a great company and it’s a great tool.

TOM: And also taking on lots of projects with that particular tool. And they’re all laid out for you, step-by-step, on ArrowFastener.com’s website, including this week’s featured project which is how to carpet stair treads. All the info step-by-step, photos, illustrations right there at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.

That Arrow PT50 Pneumatic Staple Gun and a supply of staples going out to one listener. Make it you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Kansas on the line who has a sheetrock question. What can we do for you today?

CODY: Well, we’re actually renovating our kitchen and – first renovation; we’ve never done this. We have wood-paneling walls and I’m wondering, can you sheetrock over the wood paneling? Do we need to do a complete teardown and tear it out before we sheetrock?

TOM: You could drywall on top of that but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think you’re better off taking that old – those old, wood walls down. You’re going to get a much cleaner look when you’re done and I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have all that extra material on your wall.

CODY: OK. Is there – should I go with ¼-inch drywall? Should I go with ½-inch?

TOM: Is this regular paneling that’s like an 1/8- or ¼-inch thick?

CODY: Yes.

TOM: Yeah, that should come down fairly quickly. Once you pull all the electrical cover plates off the boxes, you should be able to get that going at the seams and pull that right off. And then just lightly sand the walls, if there’s any imperfections there, and then you can apply new drywall on that.

You could use probably – if you have existing drywall there, you could use 3/8-inch drywall as your second coat. And if you glued it, make sure you can – you’ll need fewer fasteners but make sure you overlap the seams. So don’t use the same exact seams as exists in the original wall. Does that make sense?

CODY: Yes. And the original wall, I believe, is the – it’s lath and plaster; it’s not actual drywall.

TOM: Oh, plaster lath? Yeah. I would definitely go on top of that. I would not pull down the plaster lath. I’ve done that job both ways and it’s a lot cleaner if you just go over it. But keep in mind you’re going to have to extend the electrical boxes and perhaps trim around windows and doors and that sort of thing to compensate for the additional thickness.

CODY: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.

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

Well, with look, what, about half the winter behind us now, it’s a good time to think about making sure your outdoor trees are going to bloom this spring. And there are a few things that you can do, at this time, that’s going to make sure that your trees do survive the colder weather, right?

LESLIE: Yeah. I think first you’ve really got to remember that even though it looks like the trees aren’t doing anything, they’re actually doing a lot of stuff. They’re growing, even though it looks like they’re just laying still. They’ve got to conserve their food and energy. And they’re protecting all their growing parts under those buds that you might see. And those are super vulnerable, so you’ve got to protect the tree.

TOM: Now, you can help keep those trees warmer in the winter just by adding a thin layer of composted organic mulch to the tree’s root surface. So, if it’s starting to show, if you maybe added some mulch and it’s worn away, put some more down because it helps shield those roots from extreme temperatures, which are still entirely possible.

LESLIE: Yeah. Now, also keep in mind if the tree is young or maybe a sapling or you haven’t had it planted very long or it hasn’t developed a corky bark just yet, you’ve got to wrap it. And try to keep those pets and animals away that can do a lot of harm.

TOM: And resist the urge to prune too many dead branches. I know that that’s hard for me because once I get going with pruning, I like to keep going. But those cuts should definitely be made selectively until the weather warms up. It gives the tree just a better chance to survive.

LESLIE: Coming up, breaking the rules is allowed sometimes. We’re going to tell you when you can push the boundaries to get big results and compliments, when we return.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

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

LESLIE: And there’s no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use, HomeAdvisor.com.

TOM: You can post your home improvement question to MoneyPit.com’s Community page, like Kyra did. She says, “I’ve seen a bathtub made completely of tile and wondering how that tile holds water. I love the design and really want to make one of these tiled bathtubs on my own but wonder how it can be waterproof.”

That’s a great question and you know what? The tile is not going to hold water but the material beneath the tile will. When you build a tile bathtub, you’ve got to construct the tub first, then line it with a waterproof material, like fiberglass, and then adhere the tile to the tub. It’s basically what’s done when you construct a shower pan but in this case, you’re doing it on the bathtub.

Well, for all the cutting-edge, high-end design ideas out there, most of us still follow some pretty unwritten design rules: you know, those things that someone at some point decided we should never, ever do. Well, sometimes breaking those rules is needed. And Leslie has got ideas for shaking up the status quo and making big design statements, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie? You’re going to shake it up?

LESLIE: I’m going to try. Sometimes you inherit those design rules from your parents or maybe you just know something to be a rule and never thought about breaking them. Well, it’s time to go rogue on those old design rules. You want to start with one of my favorite ones to break: neutral colors only in small spaces. That is not true, you guys. Even if bold colors do make spaces look smaller, the illusion is worth the added eye candy. And it doesn’t always make the space feel smaller. You can go neutral on the wall and super bold on the furnishings. I mean there’s a way to bring in those colors that truly make that room pop, so don’t be afraid to do that.

Now, also, somewhere along this design timeline, somebody decided that master bedrooms should be serious. Well, toss that rule away, too. Fun décor gives you something exciting and inspiring to wake up to. And it can bring out the kid in all of us. You just don’t want to make it too, too exciting or too much of a bright color that it gives you a hard time going to sleep at night.

Now, here’s another thing with artwork. Are you sort of in the mindset that everything needs to be hung exactly at eye level? Well, think again. Now, you can lean frames and canvases on the floor to give you sort of an art-studio feel. And then you can play around with the height for a distinctly memorable look. It’s something that’s truly unique and you can put a huge canvas on the floor or a really big piece of framed artwork or something more sculptural. Mix up the sizes, mix up the levels. Give yourself that gallery effect at home.

And here’s another one that I really love to break: matching chairs. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. Mismatched chairs in dining rooms, that’s sort of the new take on formal. Chairs and benches? I’m totally cool with that. Mismatched chairs in living rooms? It’s really a great way to show your personality, perhaps show some of your travels, highlight a favorite fabric that you maybe have. There’s so many ways that you can sort of break these rules but still sort of stay within specific design guidelines that make a space fantastic but ultimately your own.

So, don’t be afraid to try something new. Go ahead. Push the comfort zone, guys.

TOM: We were away earlier this – actually, later last year, I should say. I went to a restaurant that we just kind of found through some friends of ours. And all of the tables and chairs were completely mismatched and it was the coolest space. They had furniture that had probably spanned 40, 50 years: everything from the 1950s sort of stainless-steel metal tables and chairs up to the early American of the maybe 70s and 80s and up to today. And it was kind of cool, because everything was really different and just really fun. So that’s a great idea.

LESLIE: And it makes those spaces memorable.

TOM: It really did. See? I remembered it.

LESLIE: Yeah.

TOM: Well, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about a type of lighting called a “pendant.” Pendant lights are a really popular choice these days, especially for kitchens. So we’re going to give you some tips on how to easily add sleek and very stylish pendants to your home lighting plan, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

END HOUR 2 TEXT

(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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