Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
Add Home Entrance and Driveway to Improve Curb Appeal
By: Danny Lipford
See how we improved the curb appeal on this house by adding:
- Protruding brick entranceway
- Raised brick planters
- Asphalt circular driveway bordered with brick
- Landscaping for front yard.
Read episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner it’s all about creating curb appeal, and we found the house that can certainly use some. We’ll change the hardscape, the landscape, and the house itself to give this place some character. So stay with us, you don’t want to miss this transformation.
You hear the term curb appeal all the time now and it simply means a very pleasant and inviting look when you drive up to the front of a house just like you have when you drive up in front of this beautiful place. Now, this was quite a transformation that took place several years ago that changed the house considerably, and that’s exactly what we’re about to do with this house.
It really needs a little care to make it a little more appealing. What we plan on doing is a whole new circular driveway, a new entryway and a number of other things just to make it look a little more pleasant. It’ll include some landscaping once all of the main part of the work is complete. Let’s get this thing going right now.
It’s a good thing that our marking paint for the new drive is waterproof because the sudden rain showers slows down work for a little while, but once it passes, we can continue with the removal of some trees, shrubs and other old landscaping that will be in the path of the new driveway. There’s also an old walkway that doesn’t fit into the new plan, so it has to come out too. While all of this is going on, we’re going to step inside for a bit and talk to the homeowner about what she hopes to accomplish here.
Sally Mostellar: We really wanted to start this project because we really needed some curb appeal. You know, we fell in love with the house, it really was not very attractive when we bought it but we had a vision, and you know, thought there was some real potential out there to make it a really beautiful front.
Lucy Mostellar: I want to see grass because we don’t have any right now, and I want to have somewhere to play in, and not just the dirt, grass.
Sally Mostellar: We wanted to come up with a very functional plan. We wanted to be able to park in front of the house and we wanted a parking bay area so that you can pull up to the house, park in the parking bay, and someone can pull behind you. We thought it would be really beautiful to use asphalt because the color change from the green to the black is pretty and we just thought it would add a lot to the front of the house.
Danny Lipford: Before we get to Sally’s driveway and that lawn that Lucy wants, we’re going to add a little interest to the house itself by adding a new entry porch. These concrete blocks will form the perimeter of the porch which will be filled with concrete and then eventually be covered with bricks that match the rest of the house.
Because the front of the house is so flat, adding a couple columns and a small roof to shelter the door will really give this house some character. The outside of the walls will get the same bricks we’re using on the porch, while the inside gets stucco.
If you have a very plain, simple looking house, you can certainly benefit from having a simple roof structure like this build over your front door. It’ll serve as a focal point and a very distinctive feature, a very important element in having the right kind of curb appeal.
Now, this one will look great once we have stucco here, bricks here, and the bricks leading right out onto the driveway should look perfect. Now if you have the right style house, you can even build a much larger front porch so that you can have your friends and neighbors all gathering on the old front porch. But you can also achieve that same distinctive look on the front of your house by simply changing your front door.
Joe Truini: Now, when you go shopping for a front door, you’re going to find three different kinds. Wood, steel and fiberglass. And while all three can be finished to resemble wood, for many homeowners, nothing beats the natural beauty and warmth of a real wood door, which is what I have here. I’m just prepping it for staining. Now, when you consider a wood door, you have to remember that you have to protect it against the elements.
Now, the finish will help, but in this case, we have a head start. This door by JELD-WEN has an AuraLast treatment. Now that’s distinctive in two ways. First, the treatment goes all the way through the wood for 100% protection against moisture, decay and termites. Secondly, unlike other treatments, wood treatments, this one will not affect the color of the stain. So no matter what color you choose, the way it comes out of the can is what you’re going to see when you’re done.
Now, after staining, it’s really important to make sure the stain is totally dry, then you need to apply two, maybe three coats, of a high quality exterior grade clear topcoat finish.
Danny Lipford: While Joe finishes prepping his door, the brick masons have arrived on our project to begin wrapping the new front porch with bricks. Matching the bricks used on an older house like this is never an easy chore but it makes all the difference in the world if you want the new construction to blend in with the old.
Besides the porch, the columns and the steps, the bricks will also be used to create two planters on either side of the porch along the front wall of the house. You can see that these guys have plenty of bricks to lay. So while they do that, let’s check back in with Joe for this week’s Simple Solution.
Joe Truini: When sprucing up the outside of your house, especially one with a tall gable like this one, you’re eventually going to end up working on an extension ladder. Now it’s really important to protect yourself while working on a ladder, and it’s equally important to protect the house from the ladder itself, and here’s why. Take a close look at the end of the ladder. Those have some hard sharp corners and edges, and if you don’t protect them or cover them in some way, when you lean the ladder up against the house, you’re going to damage the siding or scratch off the paint.
Now, here’s a really cool Simple Solution that will solve that problem. Get some carpet scraps, this happens to be an old car floor mat, and cover the ends of the ladder. Then just secure it with some duct tape. Now you want to make sure you go around here three or four times because you don’t want them slipping off. Just tear off the tape. And obviously we want to cover that side as well. Okay. Now, next time you go to use the ladder, not only will it protect the siding, but it will also keep the ladder from sliding as easy for an extra measure of safety for you.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re working to add some much needed curb appeal to this home. The owners really love the house but it isn’t very eye catching from the street. So, we’re making some changes to give it a little more character.
We’ve extended the front porch just a few feet to break up the home’s long, horizontal lines and create a more formal, inviting entry point. It wasn’t pretty going up, but once we started to wrap the structure with bricks, it really started to take shape. And, the brick planters on each side will make a big difference.
As soon as our brick masons completed all of their work on all of our raised beds, we did a little bit of cleanup, and we were able to turn the project over to the landscaper who invaded the place and started putting some fresh topsoil to backfill the beds. And he planted all these many plants, put straw down as mulch and really already has improved the curb appeal of this house considerably.
You know, it might seem a little premature that the landscaper is out here at this point in the project before we ever even get the driveway completed, but what he wanted to do was to minimize the amount of trips that we would we would have to take. Foot traffic as well as all the wheelbarrow trips to go from one side of the new driveway to the other side. So putting all of this in before the driveway is in place really makes a lot of sense.
Now, when you’re selecting material for a driveway, it’s a pretty important decision because it dominates a lot of what you will see from the front of your house. Now we found a way to put asphalt down and even make it look good.
The first step is setting the form boards. That’s right. Form boards. If you’ve ever seen an asphalt driveway put down, you probably realize that this isn’t usually part of the process. But in this case, we’re going to be creating a brick border around the asphalt, and since that’s not a very common practice, our guys were scratching their heads a bit about which should come first, the asphalt or the bricks. They chose the bricks.
So after the forms go in, they’ll pour a little concrete footing outside of them to lay the bricks on top of. When the brick masons return to lay this border or roll lock as it’s often called, they not only add mortar beneath and between the bricks, but also between the bricks and the form boards. Allen checked in with our foreman Mark to see how everything was going.
Allen Lyle: Mark, I know that one of the hurdles of adding curb appeal is of course finding something that’s unique to a home that really sets it apart but the driveway, as I understand it, what’s, what’s the nice word, has been a challenge for you?
Mark Bufkin: Oh, yes, it’s been a challenge in finding a contractor that wants to do the asphalt up against the brick. All of them just didn’t want to do it just because of the roller you know. So we finally got an asphalt man that says he can handle it and so we, we’re about ready to get started.
Allen Lyle: Well how often have you seen it? Because I’ll be honest, I’ve seen the brick roll lock on a cement driveway but I’ve never seen it on an asphalt.
Mark Bufkin: I’ve only seen it a couple of times and the guy that did do it said the brick was done first and that way you get a cleaner line instead of trying to chip the asphalt to lay the brick up against, you lay the brick and that gets rid of all your mess, and then you lay the asphalt up against it and he says it works out good.
Allen Lyle: So the obvious question then is how you’re going to keep the asphalt off the brick.
Mark Bufkin: They’re just going to go through there and hand work everything and whenever they get the roller up there, they’re going to put plywood on top of this brick roll lock to keep the roller from actually crushing it and pushing the asphalt on top of it.
Allen Lyle: All right. Now, what are the guys up to now, before they start.
Mark Bufkin: They’re doing a final grade of about the third time because of the rain and everything but they’re doing the final grade and here in just a little bit they’re going to be laying some asphalt
Allen Lyle: Well, once they get it down let’s find out what it looks like.
Danny Lipford: That final grading Mark mentioned is important because the asphalt will follow the contour of the ground beneath it, and we don’t want that to include any humps, bumps or dips. When the crew is satisfied that the ground is ready, the asphalt is dumped from the delivery truck into a hopper on the paving machine to be evenly distributed over the driveway. This process makes the bulk of the paving go very quickly because it results in a smooth, even surface where the asphalt has a consistent thickness throughout.
That works for most of the drive, but the machine can’t quite get up next to the brick border and the curve so the crew uses shovels and rakes to level out the asphalt and blend it in with the adjacent area laid by the machine. This is the time consuming, labor intensive part of the job. They also have to do some of the compacting by hand with a tamp. This is really slow work around the perimeter of a drive this size. But, eventually, it’s ready for the roller which completes the compacting process and begins cooling the pavement down so that it’ll become stable.
Alright I’ll have to say it’s probably the best looking asphalt driveway I’ve ever seen. Boy the bricks add so much to the look of this driveway but of course adds a little bit to the budget as well. But it’s very functional in that it supports the edge of the asphalt which has a tendency to crumble if it doesn’t have something that’s retaining that edge. So looks great and also very, very functional.
Now as far as maintenance on an asphalt driveway, once you install a driveway like this you don’t really have to do anything for several years, but after a few years it will start getting a little porous and you’ll have to seal it about every two to three years. Very easy just to clean the driveway thoroughly and then correct any little cracks or little divots that you may have in the surface of the driveway, and then apply the sealer every couple of years and it’ll last virtually forever. You know, it’s getting pretty warm out here so why don’t we head inside for our Best New Product of the week.
Jodi Marks: You may not think an outdoor furniture set is anything new and you’re right. But there are a couple of reasons why I want to show you this one. First of all, it comes from Thomasville. They’ve been making home furnishings for more than a century, so I think they know what they’re doing. But this is the first time they’ve made an outdoor line of furniture. Of course, I realize that who makes it may not be important to you, but here’s something that’s going to affect us all. This is the nature’s retreat collection, and it’s made with FSC certified eucalyptus and all weather wicker.
The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council which is an independent, not for profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forest. Using the fast growing eucalyptus helps preserve other trees for present and future generations and you definitely won’t sacrifice style here. You’ve got solid wood construction and living room style for your patio or deck. And the rich espresso finish complements most decors. So go ahead and enjoy the great outdoors in style with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re also helping to preserve it.
Danny Lipford: Everyday the curb appeal of this house is improving. The driveway is complete. All of the brick work is in place, and, as I mentioned earlier, our landscaper got out and put all of the plants in place right by the front of the house before the driveway was installed so that we would not have to go back and forth over the driveway with wheelbarrows, foot traffic and the equipment that he’s using now. Landscape there looks great. This area is about to look just as nice.
Most of this area between the drive and the street will be getting that grass that Lucy told us she wanted earlier. But before that can go down, our landscaper Tony Seymour has to remove all of the excess dirt left over from the grating of the driveway and smooth out the area for sod and the other planting that will be done here. We talked to him earlier to get some tips for people who may be contemplating a landscape makeover of their own.
Tony Seymour: Whether you’re doing it yourself, whether you have a professional do it, it’s very easy to get into a problem if you do not have a complete plan. If you decide you’re going to plant one portion of your yard, and at a later date decide, well it’s do this on this time of year, you need to start with a whole plan.
On any given job, it has to be thought through and if you’re fortunate enough to be able to work with the gentleman also that did the hardscape in this case, I’d try to coordinate to where I know when he is going to be laying brick, when he is going to be pouring concrete.
That allows me the opportunity to put empty pipes in under the ground which will allow us to, to run from one portion of the yard to another. It is a must. You do not want to come in after this new brickwork and asphalt and try to bore underneath or actually cut across the asphalt.
Preparation takes 85% of the time that we spend on a job. If it’s not prepared right, yes it may look very nice for a short period of time, but in the end result, the plan is going to be lacking what it needs to grow successfully to look like a beautiful plant.
Danny Lipford: Once Tony and his crew complete their work, it’s time to see how Sally and Lucy are reacting to it.
Well I’m sure you guys are happy to get rid of all the dirt and all the dozens of workers that’s been occupying the front of your house here all these last few weeks.
Sally Mostellar: We are. We’re really glad that it’s over. It’s been a good process but we’re glad to have it complete.
Danny Lipford: Well you had to make a lot of decisions though. That really frustrates a lot of homeowners because you know in a curb appeal type of approach like this, there’s a lot of different options. I know that you chose asphalt and then chose the border to go around, a little bit of a challenge and a little more expensive but how do you think? How’s everything working for you?
Sally Mostellar: I think it looks great. We’re very happy with the asphalt. I like the black contrast with the green. I think the best part is that we trimmed it in brick and it really sets it off.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it kind of ties it into the house real well.
Sally Mostellar: It is. It just kind of completes the whole front. We’re happy.
Danny Lipford: Now I know one of the things that Lucy wanted was to make sure we had some grass out here and everything. So, you have a lot more grass than you had before didn’t you?
Lucy Mostellar: Yes.
Danny Lipford: Well good, good. Now, neighbors always have a few comments here and there and they always have some recommendations on different things. What’s been the response of the neighbors here, because you’re on kind of a busy street here.
Sally Mostellar: Well, everyone’s been very positive, and we’ve gotten a lot of really, really great comments from our neighbors, and this is a busy area all the cars from the neighborhood come right in. This is the only house that you see as you come in the street, and everyone has been really, really, you know, supportive and happy and, you know, enjoy it.
Danny Lipford: Well good, maybe it will even motivate them to do a few things to their yards.
Sally Mostellar: Maybe.
Danny Lipford: Sometimes Thinking Green can be taken quite literally. For example, nothing can make your yard or garden greener naturally than by using compost. You want to use a good mix of ground materials like dead leaves and greens like grass clippings, but if you really want to speed up the process, here’s the secret. Worms! Red worms, or wigglers are perfect because they will eat and process their own bodyweight every day.
That may sound kind of unpleasant, but it will create some of the best compost in the neighborhood. Add other things like coffee grounds, tea bags and crushed egg shells, and mix the pile once a week to introduce oxygen and cover it up to help keep in the moisture and the heat. Within three months or so, you’ll not only have a rich compost pile to feed your garden, but you’ll have some healthy bait for the fishing hole.
We began this week with a home that was seriously lacking in curb appeal. The lone horizontal lines of the house and lack of structure and landscape just made it an easy house to forget. The first step was adding the small front porch to break up those lines and create a focal point at the home’s entry. For a bit more interest, these planters were added on each side and just so that it wouldn’t get too symmetrical, we added a curved section to the lower one.
The drive came next and Sally’s idea of combining asphalt with a brick border turned out beautifully, even if it was a bit of a challenge for the crew to pull off. Finally, Tony’s landscape plan and execution pulled it all together.
I just love projects like this. What a big change. But it took a lot of coordination between the carpenters, landscapers, brick masons, asphalt contractor, everybody had to work together on this one. And as Sally mentioned earlier, the neighbors have applauded all the effort that went in to making this house look like one of the best ones on the block.
And the bottom line is it’s increased the sellability of this house, which means the value of the house has gone up. That’s real important these days.
Hey, I’m Danny Lipford. Thanks for being with us. We’ll see you next week.
Next week, it’s all about developing outdoor living areas on any budget.