Episode #2006: #1 Way to Keep Kids Safe Around Pools | DIY Tips for New Blinds |One Simple Project to Increase Home Value

In this episode…

Summer marks the riskiest time of year for pool drownings, which is actually the leading cause of death to young children! In this episode, expert hosts Tom & Leslie explain the best way to backup parental supervision and keep kids safe. It’s a pool safety approach called layers of protection. Plus…

Replacing your front door is a project that can increase your home’s value and increase its curb appeal. We’ll share tips on how to get that project done.If you’re ready for an easy indoor décor project, adding new blinds can be just that. But when you measure your windows to order, there are two mounting options to consider; inside vs outside mount. Both look great but one may be a better choice for you. We’ll tell you how to decide.

Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, things to consider before purchasing a house, preparing a small garden in your backyard, best flooring for a garage, installing dimmer switches, toilet replacement.

Do you have a home improvement or decor question? Call the show 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT (888-666-3974) or post your question here.

Read Transcript

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 take on your summer projects. If there’s a DIY on your to-do list, give us a call. Let’s talk about it. We’ll help you get it done once, help you get it done right and you can just move on with the rest of your summer day. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. You can also post your question at MoneyPit.com or on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

Well, summer marks the riskiest time of year for pool drownings, which is actually the leading cause of death with young children. So we want to do something about that today by explaining the best way to back up parental supervision and keep your kids safe. It’s a pool-safety approach called Layers of Protection and we’ll review it, in just a bit.

LESLIE: Plus, replacing your front door is a project that can increase both your home’s value and its curb appeal. We’re going to share some tips on how you can get that project done.

TOM: And if you’re ready for an easy indoor-décor project, adding new blinds can be just that. But when you measure your windows to order, there are two mounting options to consider: inside versus outside. Both look great but one might be a better choice for you. We’ll tell you how to decide.

LESLIE: And you guys, this is the last week to enter our DIY Dad Giveaway. We’ve got 10 sets of tools from Arrow to give away to 10 lucky winners. Check out all the details at MoneyPit.com.

TOM: But first, we want to know what you want to know, so give us a call right now. Let’s talk about your home improvement, your home décor, your home remodeling project. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Kay from South Carolina is on the line joining us and needs some help renovating an older home. Tell us about it.

KAY: We have a property that in the neighborhood, it’s going through a regentrification. The home hasn’t been lived in in over 7 years. And I’m trying to troubleshoot what will it take to get that house back up and running.

TOM: OK.

KAY: What steps do I need to check – to take to start to evaluate where my costs are going to be?

TOM: So you say nobody’s in it now. Have the utilities been on or is it – been completely vacant with no utilities?

KAY: Completely vacant, no utilities.

TOM: There’s a number of a things that you want to do with a house at this stage. The first thing I might consider doing – to kind of give you just a good, overall sense as to what it’s going to take – is to hire a professional home inspector to do an inspection of that home. And explain that you’re trying to identify what kinds of work it’s going to need so that you could either remodel it yourself or sell it or whatever your intentions are for this place.

LESLIE: Can you do that at this point, Tom, with none of the utilities on?

TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s going to be challenging, because part of the issue is going to be – you know, utilities are off. Do we know if it was – all the pipes were properly drained before that happened? Or are we going to have big surprises when the water is turned back on or the gas is turned back on?

So, yes, the inspector is not going to be able to tell you everything. But considering that this house has been vacant for so long, I think you might be able to get a good sense as to where you’re going, in terms of next steps, and identify what the biggest projects are.

And then, once you kind of know where you’re going with that, you could consider hiring an architect to help you plan the renovation. If it needs a lot of work, I would recommend that because an architect can look at big picture and make sure that whatever you’re going to do to that is going to be consistent with whatever budget you want to put out for it. And then also, of course, you need to have a sense as to what the value is so you can make that cost analysis, in terms of whether it’s worthy of putting in whatever – however number of dollars you have to put in there to kind of fix this place up.

But just to kind of get you started, since you don’t really have a baseline here, I think it’ll be well worth the $300 or $400 to hire a professional home inspector. I would recommend that you go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That is – HomeInspector.org is their website.

And those guys, if they’re certified members of ASHI – is the acronym, the American Society of Home Inspectors – that’s going to be sort of the cream of the crop, the better inspectors in your area. You can enter a zip code and get presented with a list of inspectors. And you could call and speak with them and find one that you feel like you connect with, that can address this issue. But then you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re getting involved with here. You won’t know it all but I think you’ll be much farther along.

KAY: OK. Well, thank you so much.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Darryl from New Jersey on the line who’s got a question about a porch. What’s going on?

DARRYL: We have – so this house has a wraparound porch. And I’m redoing the porch because a lot of it’s rotted. It’s probably about 3 feet off the ground. Do I need to add in any kind of vapor barrier underneath the porch?

TOM: You don’t have to add a vapor barrier under a porch. You have to – it’s wise to put a vapor barrier in a crawlspace. But under a porch, it’s usually wide open anyway. And I don’t know how you’re going to finish off the outside but if you’re going to use lattice or skirting …

DARRYL: Yeah, it’s lattice.

TOM: When it comes to lattice, if you purchase a wood lattice, that can be very time-consuming to maintain. There’s a product out, that’s fairly new, by Trex. Their website is TrexLatticeWorks, plural. TrexLatticeWorks.com. And what’s cool about this stuff is it’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s made of composite, which means it’s never going to need to be painted. It comes in white and black. It comes in the sort of standard checkerboard look and also has some different patterns.

And if I was redoing my porch today, that’s what I would use because that lattice is a tough area to have to maintain, because it’s close to the ground and because it’s damp down there. So I think composites are a really good choice for that and it would be worth investing in a product like that.

DARRYL: Great. Thank you so much. Love your show. Really appreciate the help.

LESLIE: Well, to celebrate Dad, we’ve got our sweepstakes: DIY Dad Giveaway. And this is the last week you can enter to win some tools for Dad.

We’ve got 10 sets of tools from Arrow to give away to 10 lucky winners.

TOM: Each set’s worth 120 bucks. It includes both a T50 and a PT50 Arrow Staple Gun, as well as an Arrow GT300 High-Temp Glue Gun. These tools are perfect for taking on dozens of projects around the house and they’re going to give your dad years of use.

LESLIE: That’s right. You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com. And be sure to take advantage of the many ways that you can earn some extra entries, by subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media.

TOM: Now, the sweepstakes ends Sunday night at midnight, so enter now at MoneyPit.com.

LESLIE: Jackie in Illinois is looking for some small garden-décor tips. What’s going on? Tell us about your space.

JACKIE: I just purchased my home. It’ll be a year the second of next month. And my yard is big enough for me but yet small enough for anybody else. What I would like to do is put a garden area up along the west side of my fence without having to dig the yard up and make the yard look real tacky. Do you have any hints, suggestions, ideas?

LESLIE: So, you have a fence along this one wall. You want to put a garden or a flower bed in front of that. What is the rest of the space?

JACKIE: Well, it’s – my backyard is fenced in.

LESLIE: OK.

JACKIE: And from my garage, which is on the east side of the property, clean clear to the west side, I get plenty of sunlight.

LESLIE: OK. But is it grass? Is it patio?

JACKIE: The biggest portion of the yard is grass. I’ve got a small patio area right next to the garage. And if I could just put a flower bed or a place that I can put a small garden, it’s what I would like to do. I’d kind of like to use the landscape lumber but I don’t know how much to get or how to go about putting it up.

LESLIE: Alright. Well, my first thought, since you’ve got this patio area in front of the garage and the garage is probably just a blank wall of whatever the siding material is, my first thought is to do a great, little seating area in front of there.

And you need to think about – you know, are you looking to sit at a table or do you want to sit at a small settee, a little couch area with a chair? So think about how you would like to use that space. Are you looking for eating and entertaining or more like lounging and relaxing?

JACKIE: Mainly eating and entertaining.

LESLIE: Yeah. So definitely a table, umbrella, some chairs there. That’s great and does not have to cost a ton of money. I mean you can find some at home centers, department stores that specialize in home décor, for very affordable amounts.

Now, on that back wall with the garage that’s kind of lackluster, you can either do a trellis with some potted plants on either side, with a climber, like a clematis or an ivy or a night-blooming jasmine, something that will sort of grow up and out of the pots and onto the trellis.

I did this on the side of my garage with two potted clematis and I have this beautiful, wrought-iron trellis that I found that I’ve put twinkling white Christmas lights on and the clematis sort of takes over it in the summer months and blooms and smells fantastic. And it’s just lovely to sit in front of. You can do something like that very inexpensively and very easily, as well.

Now, as far as a flower bed on the opposite side, you’re really not going to sacrifice that much yard space if you do dig up a portion of that lawn. And that really is the best way to do it to create a flower bed.

And what you can do is you can use either that landscaping lumber or even stones – river rock or fieldstones – stacked up to create a little wall for a flower bed. Just remove that layer of grass, fill it in with potting soil and plant away. And that really is a great way to create a flower bed. And if you go sort of creatively with your shape and edge it a bit, you’re not giving up that much lawn space.

JACKIE: I thank you so much for your help and I greatly appreciate it.

LESLIE: Well, if you have kids and you have a pool, you know that pool safety is a big job. And while nothing can be a substitute for you keeping a close eye on your kids around the pool, there is one very important thing that you can do to back up parental supervision.

Now, it’s an approach that’s called Layers of Protection. And it’s essentially just that: it’s multiple ways to keep your kids away from the pool when no one is watching. And it includes fences, pool covers and alarms.

TOM: Yep. So, first, let’s talk about fences. Because when they’re properly designed and installed they are, by far, the most effective deterrent against drowning. But a pool fence, it’s actually quite different than any other type of fence.

First, it’s got to be four-sided, of course, completely surround the pool and be at least 4 feet high. But it also must be what’s called “non-climbable.” Because, for example, you can’t use a standard chain-link fence because the holes – the squares, the space – it’s just too big and kids can slip a toe in there and climb it. Instead, you need a special type of chain-link with smaller openings. So, these fences are designed specifically to be around pools and they – whether they’re chain-link or whether they’re another type of fence, they are designed so kids cannot climb them. Very important.

LESLIE: Now, that’s super important. And especially when it comes to a fence, you’ve got to have a gate and the gate tends to be the weakest link in all of that pool fencing. So, your gate has to be self-closing and self-latching. That means it’s going to slam shut if it’s left open. And those gate latches should be mounted at least 54 inches off the ground and have childproof release mechanisms so that the kid can’t just reach up and let themselves in.

Now, pool covers, those are also really good at giving you maximum amounts of protection, really, next to the fence. Now, your best option is an automatic pool cover. And you can use it between swims rather than only at the end of the season. The covers are motor-driven and with the flick of a switch, they automatically creep across the pool and seal out access to the water.

TOM: So let’s shift now to talk about the alarms. There are pool alarms, door alarms and fence alarms and they’re all very, very important. So, let’s talk about a combination that works for you.

First off, the door alarms. These are battery-powered. They’re installed on exterior doors leading to the pool. Now, if the door is opened without depressing this childproof’s bypass button that they all have, the alarm is going to sound within 7 seconds. And it stays on until it’s disabled by an adult. The alarm is also effective in preventing an adult from leaving a door open. If the door is open for more than 10 seconds, it’s also going to ring.

So, they’re very, very important, especially in cases where you don’t have a fence on four sides. Sometimes, folks only have a fence on three sides of the house and the house, itself, becomes that fourth wall of the fence. Well, if it’s going to be a fence, it’s got to be alarmed, right? Very important.

LESLIE: Now, aside from those door alarms, that gate on your fence, that should also be alarmed. And they make those for the fence gates, as well. And that’s going to give you an added layer of protection and function the same way. If it’s opened, it’s going to sound.

Now, another alarm you can have is a pool alarm. And pool alarms are designed to detect the splash that occurs if a child falls into the pool. Now, a CPSC study is looking at three types of pool alarms and found that the best performers were underwater alarms, compared to the less reliable options of floating pool alarms or wrist-band alarms that are worn by the children.

Now, when you’re purchasing a pool alarm, you always want to buy the type that includes a remote receiver alarm so that you can monitor the pool from inside your home, even with the door closed or the air conditioning on.

TOM: Now, just keep in mind that while pool alarms might provide emergency notification if a kid does fall in, none of these are substitutes for fences or covers or any other type of protective measure, including you. You are the number-one protective measure for keeping kids safe. So while these are great backups, you really need to focus on your ability to keep an eye on those kids when they are around those pools.

888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We’d love to chat with you about your next home improvement project.

LESLIE: Thurman in Massachusetts is on the line and needs some help with a garage floor.

What’s going on, Thurman?

THURMAN: Well, yes. I’ve seen some interesting pictures of very snazzy-looking tiling on a floor of the garage. Of course, this wouldn’t be ceramic tile. These are special – they’re usually rather – actually, rather thin tiles. And I just wondered if you’ve experienced any experience with them or had any recommendations of what to look for.

TOM: Sure. I actually put garage-floor tile down in my garage, which sort of doubles as my studio, last summer. And I used a product called Lock-Tile. It looks a bit like a puzzle piece. They have – they’re about 20×20 and they have a puzzle edge on them. And you lay them down on top of the concrete floor. They snap together, so to speak, and there’s a transition strip for where the door goes.

I’m really happy with the look and the durability of them. I did have one issue with what’s called “flashing,” which means when they make the tile, they over-poured some of the joints. So you have a little bit of extra material that comes out that you have to clean off. So that took me a little while, in terms of the installation. But I think the product worked very well.

You know, that’s one option for garage floors. You also have different types of mats – some are more durable than others – that you can lay down. And then, of course, you’ve got a wide range of epoxy floorings to choose from. And that’s – those are really the options.

What are you using this floor, mostly? Is it a space that you’re working in or are you just looking for a place for the car or …?

THURMAN: It really is a garage and I have a lot of other things in there. But I just thought it would look nice because they do have – the garage is – actually has a ceiling and it’s painted. And they know it looks kind of nice anyway, so I thought I would just snazz it up.

TOM: Do you actually keep your car in there?

THURMAN: Yes, I actually do.

TOM: Alright. There you go. You’re unlike many across the country, including myself, who do more work in the garage than keep our cars in there. I will tell you that with some of the tile products, you have to also put a finish over them, because they can react with the rubber tires. So you want to make sure that you read carefully all the options for the different tile products. And make sure it’s one that can stand up to hot tires, especially, which you’ll get in the summer.

THURMAN: I see, OK. Now, so the Lock-Tile is not an epoxy approach. That’s …

TOM: No, that’s a puzzle piece. It is a physical tile that you snap together. Their website is LockTileUSA.com. You can start there. There are others. I just happened to find them and liked the product and was – and did sort of a two-tone approach.

And if you also – if you go to MoneyPit.com and search “garage floor,” we actually put a time-lapse video of the actual tile installation on that site, as well.

THURMAN: Oh. Oh, sure. OK. Great. I see. Well, thanks very much.

TOM: OK? Good luck, Thurman. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line and has a question about installing a dimmer, a great do-it-yourself project.

How can we help you, Pam?

PAM: I have a room that has fluorescent lighting in it and there’s two entries into that room. So there’s a light switch on each door, so it’s a two-way switch. Can I put a sensor on that so that when you walk in and walk out, the lights come on and go off?

TOM: Are you asking me if you can? Can you put a sensor on that?

PAM: Yes.

TOM: Is your concern that you want the lights to come on automatically or is your concern that you don’t want people to leave the lights on when no one is in the room?

PAM: Both.

TOM: Well, I guess you could use an occupancy-sensor switch there but you would need to set it in vacancy mode, not occupancy mode. See, in occupancy mode, the light comes on when there’s motion. So, if you had a three-way, what could happen is you walk in the room, the switch closest to you picks up your motion, turns the lights on. You continue halfway through the room until the one on the other side picks it up and turns the lights off, so that wouldn’t work too well.

A better option might be to just replace one side of it – just one of the switches – with an occupancy sensor but set it in what’s called the “vacancy mode.” So what that means is you manually turn the light switch on but if there’s no motion in the room, it will automatically go off.

So we use these, for example, in the bedrooms upstairs at our house because kids turn lights on but as we all know, kids don’t turn the lights off. So, if you set it in the vacancy mode, they can turn the lights on but then they’ll go off, depending on the period of monitoring you set. They’ll either go off 1, 5, 15 or 30 minutes later.

PAM: Oh, OK. Alright. That would work. Thank you.

TOM: Hope that helps you out. And thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to take on one remodeling project that can increase the value of your home and improve curb appeal for years to come, installing a new front-entry door can do both.

TOM: Yep. And there have been surveys that show that when you install a new front entry to your home, you can get a pretty dramatic boost in what home buyers think your home is worth, which leads to a lot more interest at the time of sale. There’s a perceived value of about $25,000 that gets added, on average, to a house that’s got a beautiful, new entry. So it’s kind of crazy but it’s really important. And it’s going to get people to stop, not only at your door if they’re driving by but just as important, they’ll be able to pay attention to your house if the photo of it is in a listing online which so many people, of course, use first to scan houses.

LESLIE: That’s true.

Now, when you look for a new door, you have to remember that they’re available in a bunch of different materials, like wood or steel. But new fiberglass entry doors can really look so much like the real wood that it’s hard to tell the difference. And I find that with the fiberglass doors, they’re far more energy-efficient than both the wood or steel options. And they often come with multi-point locks that make them almost impossible to break into.

TOM: We’ve had two – our front and our back door are both fiberglass and they are absolutely beautiful. And they look just like wood. And I’ve had them now for, gosh, probably 10 years. And they just look good. They just don’t wear. So, really happy with the fiberglass.

Now, when it comes to installation, it is not for the inexperienced DIYer. Certainly not a do-it-yourself job, perhaps, at all, especially if it’s a larger door. I think it would be better for you to hire a pro for that particular project, because removing the old door is going to open your house to the elements. You’ve got to make sure, of course, that everything is going to fit properly.

Speaking of which, too, measuring is going to be critical here. So if you do work with a window-and-door supplier, they’ll do the measuring for you. This way, they’ll make sure that the door is going to fit inside that opening without any additional work.

But it’s a great project. It’s going to add value to your house and make it look so much better from the outside.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Paul coming up to The Money Pit. What is going on at your house and how can we help?

PAUL: I just bought a house. It’s about 110 years old and it has cedar shingles on the outside. And it probably hasn’t been painted in at least 20 years.

So, we’re repainting the house. And I started working on – I didn’t know how much of the paint should be removed. I’ve seen different things online and I didn’t know how much work to put in before we repaint it.

TOM: So, first of all, congratulations. For Leslie and I, that’s a baby. We have older houses. It’s still a younger one.

But actually, I have cedar shingles and they’ve been on the house for – well, we went through – at one point, we took off three layers of siding. I mean the house is 130-something years old now and we restored the cedar shingles over 40 years ago. And since then, it’s gone through, I think, only two paint jobs. So the paint, for us, has been lasting a long time.

And here’s why. What we do is when we – first of all, we don’t use paint; we use stain. If your house was already a painted one rather than stained, the difference is the paint sort of sits on top of the shingles and the paint – the stain sort of soaks in. But if you already are dealing with a paint job, you’re kind of stuck and you have to paint it again because you’re not going to be able to get it all off.

But in terms of how much you take off, you really want to make sure you’re taking off everything that’s loose. And so, if you’re scraping it and you’re wire-brushing it and you’re loosening up as much of that as you can, that’s all you can do. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint, so you have to get the loose stuff off.

And the next thing that I would recommend you do, which is really an important step, is to make sure you prime it and not just put another coat of paint on it. Because the primer is – think of it as the adhesive. It’s the glue that makes the paint stick. So, you want to prime it properly and then you put a paint on top of the primer. It will come out so much better and last a lot longer if you prime it.

So you don’t want to skip that step. I would not recommend a primer-and-paint-in-one for this particular project. Whatever brand you use, I would use a name brand. You know, I would use a Benjamin Moore or a Sherwin-Williams. I would stick within their line for whatever primer they recommend with a particular finish that you choose. And if you prime it and paint it, I think you can get a paint job that’s going to last you, hopefully, 8 to 10 years.

Well, to help celebrate Dad, we have launched a sweepstakes. Today is the – what, we’re getting on almost the last few days here to help you win tools for Dad. It’s the last weekend. It’s called the DIY Dad Giveaway and we’ve got 10 sets of tools – 10 – from Arrow to give away. Each one is worth 120 bucks. Going out to 10 lucky winners.

LESLIE: That’s right. Each set includes both a T50 and a PT50 Arrow Stapler, as well as an Arrow GT300 High-Temp Glue Gun. And these are the perfect tools for taking on dozens of projects around the house. And they’re going to give your dad years of use.

TOM: Now, the sweepstakes ends Sunday at midnight, so enter once a day at MoneyPit.com. And be sure to take advantage of the many, many ways you can earn extra entries, by subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media.

LESLIE: Betty in California needs some help with a toilet question. What can we do for you today?

BETTY: I’m interested in the high-rise toilet and I’d like the pros and con and possibly a brand. Because our plumber is thinking of using KOHLER – the quick flush – and we’re on well water and that’s it.

TOM: Well, there’s really no cons of using – a “comfort-height toilet” is what’s that called. Not a high-rise but comfort-height. They’re a bit higher than a standard toilet. And in terms of brands, one that I can recommend is called American Champion 4. I’ve got American Champion comfort-height toilets in our house. And it really doesn’t matter what age you are, they are just easier to use. And the other benefit is that they use very little water and they don’t clog.

So I would take a look at the American Standard Champion 4 toilets and just get the accessible size and you’ll be good to go.

Alright, Betty? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, adding new blinds is a great way to spruce up the inside of your home. It’s an easy DIY project to get done, too.

In fact, Leslie, you just went through this entire process with SelectBlinds.com. So I wanted to talk about that experience and especially, how do you know whether you should go with an inside- or outside-mounted blind? Because I think people get confused about that.

LESLIE: Yeah. I did. I actually ordered some fabric shades – some Roman shades – for our dining room, because I changed the whole look of the window treatments in there, and some new shades for my son, Charlie’s, room.

Now, for the boys I went with blackout shades and for the dining room, I went with something that was a little bit more airy and lighter but still kind of clean and modern-looking. Which, for me, is just a simple, modern Roman shade.

And I loved that while I was like, “Oh, I’m just going to get white” – and then I looked on the website and there were 100,000 different shades of white fabrics. And I was like, “I’m going to order 15 samples and then I will decide.” So, that was hugely helpful because I got to hold the fabrics in my hand, put them up next to the drape, make sure I liked how it was going to look. And that made the selection process super easy.

Now, I knew I wanted inside mount because I like to see the frame on the window. My windows are very large. I like the architectural feel of that. I feel like when I do an inside mount, it feels very clean and crisp. And then, if I do an outside mount, it’s because I want it to feel a little bit more traditional or maybe I’m going with more of a decorative style of shade, something that has a valance or a little bit more of a soft – not such a stiff Roman but more of a soft fold to it. So it depends on what type of shade I’m getting and what I want to see on that window.

Now, I will say I did go with inside mount for Charlie’s room with a blackout shade. And I just get the slightest, little bit of light bleed on the sides because they make it just a drop smaller to fit into the inside mount. So, it doesn’t bother us. He’s sleeping fantastically. So it’s a personal preference. If you want a fully blackout shade in the room, definitely go with an outside mount, because that will just cover up everything. But we had no problems with the inside mount.

And you also have to be really careful when you’re measuring, because so many windows are slightly different. You might have a run of windows and one is ½-inch bigger or a ¼-inch smaller, stuff like that.

So, the system on their website I liked about SelectBlinds was that as I was ordering each window, I could label Charlie’s room Window 1 so that when everything came, even if they were slightly off I was able to know exactly which window to install it in. So you want to make sure you measure for an inside mount inside the window frame, along the top where the mounting brackets are going to go. And give them the exact measurement of that inside mount. And they’ll shorten it and make it more appropriate to fit.

And you also have to look – if you’re looking at a wood blind or a different type of shade, make sure that the depth of that product will fit in the depth of your window. Because if you go with something that’s way too deep and you have sort of a shallow jamb in that window, it’s not going to work; that bracket’s not going to fit. So look at all of those measurements and then look specifically at that product. And that will help you find the right one for your room.

TOM: Now, both inside and outside mounts can work and work well. And SelectBlinds.com walks you through the measurement process with videos and a step-by-step worksheet. So you’re going to pretty much get everything that you need to know.

And today’s tip was presented by SelectBlinds.com, providing all the inspiration, tools and expert advice you need to choose, order and install the right product and style to meet your needs while saving you hundreds and a lot of time, too. SelectBlinds will even ship you a kit with 15 free samples, so you’ll get a chance to see the quality of the blinds and make sure the color works before you place the order. And you’ll always get at least 40 percent off with daily deals and discounts and always free shipping and delivery on everything. So you never have to wait for a sale.

Check out SelectBlinds.com. They really make it easy and convenient to order new blinds or shades for your home. And they save you time and money.

Pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. That’s where Elaine finds us.

LESLIE: That’s right. Elaine writes: “I have a newly-installed bathroom vanity, laminate countertop, drop-in sink. The plumber caulked around the sink, which looks very nice. Is there a product that I can apply over the caulk to keep it snow white? Maybe a crystal-clear acrylic?”

TOM: That’s a really interesting question, Elaine, and it’s one I don’t think we’ve ever been asked before. Is there a way to keep caulk its pretty color – its pretty, bright shade – when it’s first installed? And the answer is no.

LESLIE: Constantly dry your countertop. Clean it all the time.

TOM: Yeah.

LESLIE: I mean it’s a bathroom. So things are just inherently going to get mold and get mildew and get a little grimy. Even I find the mold – even I find the caulk that’s antimicrobial, I feel like it still looks a little dingy over time. I think it’s just a matter of keeping down the water that’s on that counter surface.

TOM: I think you’re absolutely right. And I’ve – you know, I’ve always been a little bit distrustful of the claims of being guaranteed mold-proof, because it does just get a little dingy no matter what you do.

LESLIE: It’s just so much water.

TOM: Now, I just actually tried a brand-new one in my bathroom. And I won’t tell you the name of it but if it works out, I will. Because I had a huge – I had to replace the – well, it’s one of those projects where it starts slow and just builds from there. I wanted to regrout the tile because it was getting a little dingy and there were some chunks of grout falling out. Of course, that turned into regrouting everything and also recaulking. And now I’m like, “I think we need new hardware in the cabinets.” So I bought new hardware but the cabinets’ hinges, the new ones don’t fit the old ones. They fit but they’re off just half – no, a half a screw hole, right?

LESLIE: You did a lot of projects off of one?

TOM: You know how – when you know you get it close but it’s just off that little bit, so that when you put the screw in it’s going to pull the wrong way?

LESLIE: Uh-huh.

TOM: So, of course, that turned to me filling every hole in the cabinet doors and drawers now to be able to do these again. So, it’s climbing.

But anyway, with respect to the caulk, no, you do not have to seal it. Just enjoy it. Keep it dry, as dry as possible. That will cut back on the mold and the mildew. And perhaps maybe take a look at your bath-exhaust fan. Make sure it’s on a humidistat so that the moisture always – when it’s always high, the moisture will keep it running. And when it dries out, it’ll stop.

LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.

Now we’ve got a post here from Hudson in New Jersey who writes: “We’re planning to gut our ranch and redo the entire interior. I want to come up with some layouts before calling a contractor. And I realize I can’t mess with those load-bearing walls. But how do I know which ones are the load-bearing walls?”

TOM: Well, first of all, it’s a technical question. And if you’re gutting your home, I would definitely hire an architect before you hire a contractor, because that’s the architect’s job. They’re going to understand the design options and the way to save some money more than you will. I appreciate the fact that you want to sort of mess with some layouts and that’s not a bad idea. But even before you get the contractor in, if it’s that level of a project I would hire an architect to kind of work through those details.

Now, in terms of bearing walls, you can mess with them, so to speak, but you have to do it right. You can take a bearing wall and you can open it up and you can have different types of girders and beams that support that load. It’s just a little more complicated, so it’s a cost consideration. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

If you want one rule of thumb – and let’s say we’re talking about a Colonial or a ranch, a pretty typical house – the bearing wall is usually the wall in the middle that’s parallel with the front and the back wall.

LESLIE: Yeah. And Hudson, this is a big project. So if you get a pro involved early, like an architect, they’re going to help you figure out what the best layout is. And they’ll help you avoid those load-bearing walls unless you absolutely need to for the space. But definitely go with a pro so that you get this done right.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of this beautiful summer day. I don’t think it’s officially summer yet but heck, we’re going to consider that it is because we are all here in the summer mood. And we are taking on our summer projects and we assume – and we sure you are, as well.

Remember, you can reach out to us with questions about those projects, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and always on MoneyPit.com.

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 2020 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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