Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Six Simple DIY Home Improvement Installation Projects

By: Danny Lipford

Watch this video to find out how to perform these six simple DIY home repairs:

  1. Sealing a garage floor with an epoxy coating.
  2. Installing an outdoor security flood light with motion sensor.
  3. Replacing sliding closet doors with bifold doors.
  4. Refinishing an entry door and replacing the hardware.
  5. Removing and replacing a showerhead.
  6. Tiling the floor of a small room.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: There are tons of common household installations you can do yourself, if you know how, so stick around, because this week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re going to remove the mystery and share some tips and techniques that will make those improvements a breeze.

Hey, welcome to the show this week. You know one of the things about being a homeowner is so many times you’ll be watching television or walking down the aisles of the home center and you’ll see something that would be just perfect if it was installed at your home.

Well so many times homeowners will stop short on a project like this because they’re just unsure of exactly what’s involved in the installation and even if you’ve had the budget to hire a pro, where are you going to find someone that will seal a garage floor like this one?

Well, this week, we’ll be looking at a number of very common do it yourself installations and giving you all the information that you need to make the right decision and the right selections. Now, speaking of sealing a garage floor like this, just recently, a couple of my guys took care of completely revitalizing this floor, and that was somewhat of a text book approach to improving the look of your garage floor.

The first and most obvious step is removing everything from the floor itself so this is really best done in conjunction with a cleaning day or better yet, before you ever even move in to the house. We found an epoxy coating kit that’s designed just for garages but doesn’t work very well if you apply it over other sealers.

So if you think your floor may have been sealed before, test it with water and see if the water beads up. Now after a good sweeping, you’ll need to remove any residue from oil spots. Unless they’re brand new, most all garage floors have at least one or two of these.

Mineral spirits and a stiff brush work well to loosen up the goo on the surface so you can soak up the oil with a rag or paper towels. In order for the epoxy to bond properly, the floor must be completely clean, so this manufacturer provides a mildly acidic cleaner in their kit, which you mix with water to prep the floor. Because it is acidic, a long handled scrub brush is a good idea.

Then you rinse the entire floor down thoroughly with clean water. We used a squeegee to get all of the excess water out of the garage and to really speed up the drying process. This is also a good time to fill in any little small crack that you may have in your slab so that they won’t be obvious in the finished floor.

Concrete repair caulk works well for this, but you want to be sure that it and the floor are completely dry before applying the sealer. Because the sealer is epoxy, it’s a little different than ordinary paint in that you have to mix two different parts together before you use it.

Then, depending on the temperature, it may have to sit for a few minutes before you apply. But once it’s ready, you better be ready too, because after it’s activated, there’s a limited window of time in which the epoxy can be used. If the weather is warm, you may have as little as an hour before the coating becomes unusable, so no coffee breaks during this job. Work steadily completing one four foot by four foot area at a time, always keeping a wet edge.

After the coating is complete you’ll want to let it dry at least overnight before you allow any foot traffic in your garage and at least three to four days of drying time before you bring the minivan in. Now the big advantage of sealing a garage floor is it makes it so much easier to keep clean.

You break out the broom, it just sweeps a whole lot easier, and this particular coating had this little bag of confetti in it that we were able to sprinkle over the top of the finished coating and it gives it a nice finished appearance and it will really hide the dirt.

Now our next installation is outside at the house next door where my buddy Allen Lyle’s in the process of installing a new security light. Now anything electrical, you may want to hire an electrician to take care of that work for you, because it’s kind of intimidating to a lot of people, but this particular installation is fairly easy.

Allen Lyle: Well this is probably what you’d call a classic example of a do-it-yourself project. We just want to take this existing floodlight. We’re going to put in this motion sensor halogen.

And, I’ll be honest with you. We could hire an electrician to do this. But it’s going to cost us anywhere from 80 bucks upwards to 120 or so just to put in this $24 fixture. It’s easy though. We’re going to do it ourselves.

Danny Lipford: And the very first thing you do of course, anytime your working with anything electrical is to turn the power off.

We turned the light on at the switch, and then instead of yelling back and forth, I go to the breaker box with my cell phone while Allen watches the light. Once the power to the circuit is safely off, Allen begins removing the old fixture.

Then he adds a bracket to the box to accommodate the center mounting point of the new fixture. The wiring itself is as simple as connecting black to black, white to white, and ground wire to ground wire. And most outdoor fixtures have a gasket at the base, so be sure that’s fit in place properly so that no moisture can get inside the box.

Allen Lyle: Now once the light fixture’s installed, you want to take the manufacturers booklet to set the sensitivity and of course how long the light stays on.

Joe Truini: If you collect decorative figurines, like this one, you probably are familiar with this scenario, they break really easily because they’re pretty brittle. Now it’s hard to glue them together because there’s no way to clamp it or tape it and keeping them in the right position.

But here’s a trick that works really well using modeling clay. Just take a big glob of it, put it on your workbench, then simply stick in one part of the broken figurine and that works as a clamp sort of to hold it in position. Then take the other piece and just line it up.

Now as you can see by just molding the clay around it, now that’s pretty good right there, it holds the parts exactly in alignment. So once you get it like that, just pull out one piece and add a little instant glue and this stuff is extremely strong so you only need a few drops.

Now this glue cures in ten minutes, not in just ten seconds so that’s why it’s important to keep it held in alignment. Now leave it like that for the full ten minutes and when it’s dry you just pull it out of the clay and it will be as good as new.

Danny Lipford: Hey, this week we’re looking at a number of very common do-it-yourself installations. And if you live in a house that was built maybe back in the 50s, you probably have a pair of these type of doors maybe in one of your bedrooms.

It’s a bypass or sliding closet door, and one of the problems a lot of people have with this type of door is you try to open it, and it jumps right off the track. That can be extremely frustrating, and once you get it open, the other problem is you only have access to half the closet.

You have to almost get a workout to see what’s in the other side of the closet. Well, a very easy solution to something like this is to simply replace these doors with a bi fold closet door. That allows you to stand in the middle of the door, open it completely open, see everything you have in there, and installing a bi fold closet door is fairly easy, but the challenge with working on any older house is finding the door that’ll fit exactly in the opening.

So our first step here is to remove the old door and get an accurate measurement of the opening so that we can find one that size, or in this case, slightly larger. To get it down to size, Allen has to shave the outer edge of each door with a power planer until the width is just right.

Then, he covers the recess track for the old bypass door with a piece of wood trim to create a little header so that he can attach the surface mount track for the new bi fold door. The lower pivot points for the door must be directly below this track, so Allen uses the old plumb bob to locate exactly where they need to be. Then, when the bracket is secure, he sets the door in the lower pivot point and snaps the guide on top of the door into the upper pivot.

Allen Lyle: And I think that’s going to do it, that operates smoothly. Danny mentioned earlier about those pivot points, keep those in line because if you ever need to adjust your door particularly to the right, to the left, you do that by adjusting it on those pivot points.

It’ll get loose over time too. Up top, it’s really easy to get to. You’ve got one screw right there. Loosen it a little bit, you can pull it out, push it in, tighten it back, works great. We do want to make sure it is flush. It’s more than flush. It’s fairly tight all the way down. Looks good.

One thing I will say though, some doors, they tend to be flared out of the bottom because they’re not installed just right. With your door, you’ll get this hardware. These little wings actually fit on the very back of the door so that when the door closes, they interlock just like that, and that keeps the door tight together.

Now, even though the manufacturer recommends you put them on, I’ll be honest, I rarely do because they just get in my way. All that’s left now, finish coat and the homeowner hasn’t decided though if they’re going to paint it or if they’re going to stain it, either way though, it’ll look great. Hey speaking of finishes, that opens up a whole new can of worms, especially if you’re dealing with an entry door.

Danny Lipford: Boy that will certainly improve the function of that closet with the bifold doors that Allen installed, but sometimes installations will just make something look a lot better, and you can see this door needs a little help, a lot of sun damage, all the hardware is all tarnished.

So we’re going to improve the appearance of this door by installing a brand new door knocker, new hardware, and everybody likes a nice brand new kickplate, but before we can install anything, we got to do something to the finish of this door. So we’re going to remove it from it’s hinges. We’re going to completely strip all the existing finish away from it by sanding and a little bit of elbow grease, re stain, reseal and then we can install all the hardware that will make a big difference. Fortunately Allen made it over from the other project to help me get this off the hinges.

Allen Lyle: I thought you already had it off.

Danny Lipford: Oh, come on, give me a hand here.

This kind of work is much easier to do when the door is horizontal, and since there’s a storm door here, it’s really not inconvenient to remove the door. Now you’ll want to put some padding on top of your saw horses so that you don’t scratch it.

When the old hardware is gone, the sanding begins. Now we’re starting with an 80 grit sandpaper because this door is so rough, but after we knock down some of the grain, we’ll go to something a little finer. A coat of stain followed by two coats of polyurethane, and the wood door looks almost new.

The new kickplate and knocker go on while the door is on the saw horses so we can lay them out real carefully, but we put the door back on the hinges to set the lock set and the dead bolt so that we can get to both sides of the door at the same time.

Thread the screws into the new hardware very carefully so that you don’t strip them, and if you use a cordless drill, go real slow so that you don’t scratch up that new hardware or the door itself.

Man that little bit of money and time made a big difference on that door. How much money did you end up spending on everything?

Allen Lyle: Well, when you look at the stain, finish and of course of all the hardware, door handset, knocker, the kick plate down here. About $120.

Danny Lipford: That’s not bad.

Allen Lyle: Not bad at all. But the smartest money we spent was about $5 extra. While we were at the home center I went ahead and had them key this lock to match the existing key for all the locks in the house.

Danny Lipford: That makes it a lot more convenient than having a lot of keys to deal with.

Hey coming up we’re going to show you another very common DIY installation. Removing an existing showerhead and replacing it.

Jodi Marks: Everybody’s probably seen a little wire brush and more than likely even used one to clean rust or remove paint, but here’s something new. This is the Max Grip Pro Series from Hyde Tools. The handle is made from a durable polypropylene instead of wood and it’s got an ergonomic handle to help maximize your grip.

So it eliminates the awkward hold and some of the soreness that you get from using a wood handled brush. Speaking of soreness, check this one out. Now this brush has a built in guard, which protects your fingers from any stray or bent wires. The Max Grip Pro line of wire brushes are professional grade and can be used on most surfaces including wood, metal, concrete, and masonry to remove flaking paint, dirt, rust and corrosion.

The brushes are solvent resistant and easy to clean and they even have a tapered nose for corners and tight spaces. With seven different styles, and a choice of either carbon or a stainless steel wire, you are sure to find a brush for every job you need, whether it’s a detailed work or a large-scale surface prep.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of do it yourself friendly installations. You know those things you see at the home center that you’d love to have at your house? Well one of those things that a lot of homeowners are thinking of changing is their showerhead.

We’re about to change this old one out for the same water-conserving model that Emilie showed us a little bit earlier. Now no matter if you’re upgrading or you have a broken showerhead, first thing you have to do is remove the old one.

And the best tool to do that is a strap wrench like this one because there’s no change of scratching the finish like you would if you used pliers. You know, even wrapping a rag around a fixture won’t guarantee a scratch free job.

Before the new showerhead goes on, throw on a lap or two of Teflon tape is suggested to be sure that the fixture won’t leak. Now while I test this out, Allen’s getting started on a tile setting job.

Well, Allen this will be an easy one. Not a very large area to deal with here.

Allen Lyle: No, this will be a cinch to do. Typically you and I would come in here and pop a chalk line right down the center here, pop a chalk line down the center here, and that little X marks the spot, that’s going to be the start of our tile.

We’re not going to do that, we’re going to do something, something, well we’ll just say it’s easier and because I like it easier on me. What we’re going to do, it’s a closet, let’s face it, so instead of putting it right down the center making it look symmetrical, I’m going to start on one wall and put only on one side a cut tile. The reason why, the clothes are going to hang right over here, you’re not going to see a cut tile on this side of the wall.

Danny Lipford: And that’ll save a lot of materials as well as a lot of time because like Allen said, ordinarily you would divide everything up and have a cut piece on each side of the wall.

And this kind of idea may come in handy if you have a particular kind of bathroom that you want to line up on one wall and move over and hide the cut piece maybe under a vanity, something like that. This should work great, especially with the clothes here.

Allen Lyle: I think it will, what I do want to do though is go ahead and pop a line on this one.

Danny Lipford: Hey, where’s my knee pads?

While Allen begins mixing up the thin set adhesive that we’ll use to glue the tiles in place, I begin laying out and making all those cuts we talked about for the right side of the closet. If you’re only making straight cuts like we are here, a scoring cutter will do the job.

Now if you have more complex interior cuts, you may want to spring for a day’s rental on a wet saw. Back inside, Allen begins putting down the thin set with a notch trial. Now this is a key step because if you get the hang of spreading this stuff, you can lay tile.

The notches also ensure that the thin set is a consistent depth all over the floor so that when the tiles are pressed down, the individual ridges of thinset compress and spread out evenly. A level set across the top of the tiles guarantees that the surfaces are level. And rubber spaces placed between them keep grout lines a consistent size.

Now, speaking of the grout that comes after the tiles have set over night to dry completely. A rubber grout float is the tool for this job, and you drag it across the floor pulling the grout so that you can press down into the grooves without snagging anywhere on the edges.

When the grout starts to set up, it’s time to clean off all the excess with a sponge and a bucket of clean water. If you’re doing a larger area, you’ll need to empty your bucket a few times and get clean water to be sure you remove all of the grout haze from the surface of the tile.

Now Allen I know you’ll agree that a successful ceramic job is really depending upon that perfect cut.

Allen Lyle: I would agree to that. Fortunately, I was able to make it work anyway though. You keep practicing.

This was an easy installation because we put the ceramic tile directly to a concrete slab, now, you may not have that, house may be up on piers if you got a wood floor system, don’t put that tile down on the wood. You need to put down one layer of cement baker board first.

Danny Lipford: You know a question that we get all the time when we’re dealing with ceramic is whether or not you need to put shoe molding around the perimeter of the room. Well you can if you want to, it’s more of a personal preference, but here, our ceramic fit perfectly right under the baseboard. We really didn’t need it at all.

Allen Lyle: Now one other question you may ask yourself is, do I need to seal the grout? Certainly if it’s a high traffic area, particularly if it’s around a lot of moisture such as kitchens, bathroom, or even the foyer.

Danny Lipford: One of my favorite toys as a kid was the superball, but today I’m going to use it as an example of a simple way to think green. One of the best things you can add to your home to save money and energy is a programmable thermostat.

It works by automatically regulating the temperature in your home when you’re away. Think of this as a programmable thermostat, once you set the program, you don’t have to do anything else. When you’re gone the thermostat will raise or lower the temperature in your home, but before you get back it automatically returns the temperature to your comfort level.

Believe it or not, you can save about $180 a year with this one simple device and it’s a change that won’t even affect your daily lives since it all takes place when you’re not even there. Plus it’s always nice having some of those energy dollars bounce right back into your pocket.

Well we covered a lot of ground today. And maybe it’ll make you look at things a little bit different when you head out to the home center and see something you want installed in your house. Now of course it’s very important that you read all of the directions and instructions that are provided by the manufacturer, whether you’re a pro or think you are, it’s well worth the time to see exactly how it should be installed.

And if you run into a situation where you need a helping hand, then recruit a neighbor or one of your friends to help you out so that the job goes just a little smoother. Now, speaking of jobs going a little smoother, you’ll also find from time to time that a little specialty tool may make the job a little easier.

Well instead of spending $50 or $100 for that tool that you may only use once or twice a year, then consider renting it for $10 or $15 a day from the rental center. More than anything, make sure you allow enough time to do the project right, that way you won’t be redoing it again in a month or so. And for more information, of course go to our website at dannylipford.com.

I’m Danny. We’ll see you soon.

Next week’s show is full of some cool ways to make the great outdoors even greater.

If you would like to purchase a DVD copy of this weeks show, visit our website at dannylipford.com or call us at 1-800-946-4420.



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