Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Affordable Family Room Update


We’re taking on a DIY-friendly interior remodeling project to give new life to a dated family room. Projects include replacing carpet with laminate flooring, adding new molding, painting the walls and trim, putting in a new entry door, and updating the brick fireplace. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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Affordable Family Room Update

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We’re taking on a DIY-friendly interior remodeling project to give new life to a dated family room. Improvements include:

  • Flooring: Replace old carpeting with new laminate flooring.
  • Fireplace: Cover brick fireplace wall with drywall.
  • Molding: Add crown molding and window and door trim molding.
  • Painting: Paint walls and trim of family room.
  • Entry Door: Replace entry door with fiberglass unit.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This house is going on the market, but we’re about to make some small changes that will make it worth a lot more.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford. The voice of home improvement with projects, tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to decide to sell their house and realize they have a few things to finish before they can put their house on the market. Now these homeowners have done a great job in updating most of the house. But they saved this area for last because they had some very ambitions plans including raising the ceiling, tearing out a large section of the wall to tie it in to the adjacent den. But a lot of times those dollars spent just won’t come back to you when you sell your house.

So we’re making some very realistic, practical recommendations for this room that will guarantee they’ll get their money back. Some of those ideas are replacing the front door with a newer door with more glass for natural light in this area. Also, we have a few repairs like this red flag here with a crack that runs all the way down the room. We’ll be repairing that as well as finishing the paint job, crown molding, dressing up this large front feature window with some trim and replacing the floor. But one of our challenges is figuring out exactly what to do with this old, out-of-date fireplace, that strangely enough has never even been used. Now all of these little ideas that we’re going to share with you this week are things that you can do around your house to improve the value. And I know it will help these homeowners get the most for their dollar when they put that for sale sign out front.

Danny Lipford: I love this kind of remodeling project where you can make such a difference in a short amount of time and without spending a whole lot of money. Now for us to get started, we’ll need to remove the rest of the furniture that the homeowners haven’t moved out of the house yet. And we’ll have to get rid of this old, stained carpet. Then we can attack this ugly fireplace. Here we go, Tim.

Once the furniture is cleared out, we can go to work on the carpet. This stuff has been down on these floors for years, so it’s full of stains and odors. That’s not what you want a perspective buyer to see and smell when they come to look at a house. Now since the carpet is in such bad shape, we know it won’t be reused. So we can be pretty ruthless with it. Because we won’t be putting down more carpet, the tack strips along the wall are coming up too.

In business, they say, “Eliminate your liabilities and protect your assets.” And that’s exactly what we’re doing. The carpet goes, but the laminate flooring in the dining area and the tile at the entry way are staying. So Tim is covering them up to prevent any damage while we’re working. Before we can set new trim around the window, the old window stool has to be removed. That proves to be a bigger chore than expected. Over on the fireplace, we’re only removing part of the raised hearth, so Tim starts breaking bricks just to the left of the firebox. If anything dates this home, it’s these long, old funky bricks. Seeing them go is a real pleasure.

Well, we thought of a number of ways to improve the look of our ugly fireplace we have in here. And what we decided is to cover all of the bricks with drywall. So we have a few sheets of drywall ready to go. We plan on covering every bit of it except just a small margin right around the firebox itself and the hearth. Then we’ll cover that up with a ceramic we used in other parts of this house.

Now, when you’re covering masonry with drywall, usually you’re dealing with an outside wall, like this or a basement wall. In those cases it’s so important to put a vapor barrier up first, like a 6 mil plastic. Then come back with some type of furring strip like a 1×4. Then you can install your drywall over that. But here, we have a different situation. This is an interior wall and the backside of the fireplace is also an interior wall, so we don’t have any worries at all about masonry. We’re going to use a trick to attach the drywall that a drywall finisher showed me a few years ago that works perfect in a situation just like this.

Once the first piece is measured and cut to size, we flip it over and start plopping down globs of ordinary drywall joint compound on it. Basically we’re using the joint compound as glue to hold the board in place once we lift it up on the wall. But like most adhesives it won’t hold immediately, so Tim and I are adding just a few masonry nails to keep it in position until the joint compound dries. It takes a lot of this stuff to make one of these boards stick. But the beauty is that drywall mud is pretty inexpensive and really effective because it’s designed to make a permanent bond with the wallboard anyway. The biggest challenge of this job is driving all the nails into the mortar instead of into studs.

After Tim cuts out the firebox opening, he measures and cuts out the space around it where the tile will be installed. Then our drywall-finishing guru, Mark, stops by to smooth out the joints and fill in the nail holes. At this point, this is just like finishing any drywall surface, lots of mud and lots of patience.

I knew putting this drywall up over these bricks would make this room seem a lot larger. And it’s definitely done that. Mark is almost finished with all of the drywall finishing. What do you have left, Mark?

Mark: Just finish up the angles, a little sanding, and we’re done.

Danny Lipford: But before he leaves, one other thing he’s going to take care of for us is another problem a lot of homeowners have with their homes. And we know that because we get a lot of emails and questions about what to do with a crack running right down the middle of a room. When we come back, Mark’s going to share with you some ideas and techniques on how to take care of a problem like that. Right after our Simple Solution.

Announcer: Time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert, Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: This is one of those small annoyances that can happen in any home regardless of its age. That’s the sound of an ill-fitting door rattling within the frame. Now sometimes it will happen when winds blowing through the house, or when someone walks just right past the door. The reason that happens is the spring-loaded lock that slips into this strike plate is not making contact with the metal tab you see inside there. All you need to do to fix the problem is reach inside with a screwdriver and straighten that tab out. Bend it in a little bit. You want to be careful about prying too much because the screws are relatively short, you don’t want to split the jam. If you need to, you can remove the strike plate, and straighten out that tab with a hammer. Ok, let’s try it. If we need to, we can always straighten that out a little bit more. But let’s see how that works. There you go. You’ve got a nice, tight-fitting door. And when the wind blows, you won’t hear a thing.

Danny Lipford: We’re right in the middle of an interior renovation in this room where we’re really making some very simple changes that are making a big difference in the overall look. One thing we’ve done that’s working out great is installing drywall over this wall of this old, out-of-date brick. And later we’ll really dress out the fireplace with a little ceramic tile. But Mark, our drywall finisher is handling something right now that a lot of people have problems with, and that’s a large crack right down the middle of a room.  Now the reason for a crack like this, in this case, is the house is about 50 years old. So probably a little settlement has taken place, and expansion and contraction that will cause this to happen. But Mark’s dealt with this before. Mark, what are you going to do to make this disappear? What’s the best way to handle this?

Mark: I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to go back through here and put caulk in because it’s obvious that someone had done that before and here I am fixing it again. So what we’re going to do today is score it or scrape it off with my 6 inch knife to get anything loose like loose paint or plaster. And then from there I’m going to use a mesh tape. I prefer it over paper tape. It sticks, but when I mud it, the mud goes directly to the plaster, to the surface. It holds a lot better, and I’ve had a lot of good success with it over the years.

Danny Lipford: I guess if any of it is really loose, you’d have to put some screws in it. I know in this case, this is a type of plaster, so it’s pretty rigid. But with drywall, sometimes you have to put in a few screws.

Mark: Absolutely. Sometimes with sheetrock, you definitely have to put in some screws or maybe put some dead wood behind it. But for a plaster ceiling, I’ve found I do prefer the mesh tape over the paper. No air can get behind the mesh like it does with paper and then I don’t have to come back.

Danny Lipford: Alright, great. Well we’ll go ahead and let you take care of that, but let me know if I can help you in any way.

Mark: Yeah, right.

Danny Lipford: Mark knows mudding drywall is not one of my favorite jobs, but truthfully, using his advice, almost any do-it-yourselfer can tackle this job. A couple of drywall knifes, a pan, some joint compound, and that mesh tape and you’re in business. But with that said, sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and watch a pro work. They make it look so easy. No doubt they get it done a lot faster than I would. And it’s pretty hard to argue with the kind of results Mark gave us on this ceiling repair.

Let’s see Tim, looks like we’re going to need a 10-footer for that one. Well our drywall finishing is all completed and now we can move into the trim stage.  And we’re going to make a big difference in this room for not a lot of money. One of the things we’ll be doing is dressing out this window with smooth wood here, casing around the perimeter of the window, a new wider windowsill and an apron on the bottom. That will make this window look a lot better. We also have a little base molding we’ll have to put in here and there. We’ll put in a wood mantle that will dress up that old ugly fireplace. And we’ll be continuing the crown molding we have in the dining room right into this main area.

Now the way we did this crown molding is about the easiest way you can possibly imagine to install crown because we use these decorative corners. Then you’re able to just cut the crown molding with regular square cuts and you don’t have to do any mitering. And that’s real important when you get to the outside corners like we have here because that’s really difficult for some homeowners to cut in around a corner. Here you can just cut it square and butt it right into these little pieces. Plus, like I said, it adds a decorative element to it. Actually, installing crown molding this way is so easy, I think even Tim can do it.

Ordinarily, installing crown molding involves making precise mitered or coat cuts in the corners with careful placement of each piece so these joints will line up properly with the next piece. But these corner blocks couldn’t be easier. You just nail them in place and then make ordinary square cuts on pieces of crown to fill in between them. Plus the job also goes a lot quicker this way and that’s almost always an issue when you’re trying to sell a house.

Now, a new paint job is another thing that many homes get just before it goes on the market. And the key here is choosing a color that will appeal to everyone, not just your tastes. The conservative approach is also a good idea when selecting things like this mantle kit. The owners found this one online for a little over one hundred bucks. And it’s the perfect addition to the fireplace and the room. As you can see Tim is putting a coat of paint on the brand new mantle kit we installed. And this is the last little bit of painting that we have to do before we attack this big stack of flooring. Now the flooring will put us one step closer to having this house on the market. But first, check out this week’s Best New Product.

Danny Lipford: One of the things that homeowner rarely think about is the fact that over time water supply hoses can become very brittle and burst. Leaving you with a mess and other damage, including water damage and possibly mold. Now this is the Watts FloodSafe auto shutoff connector. And it’s designed to protect your home from water damage caused by burst, broken or ruptured water supply hoses and fittings. Basically it’s a flexible stainless hose with a built-in shutoff device on the inlet. Water going threw the unit is limited to a factory preset rate of flow. If the water exceeds that flow, the device assumes there’s a rupture and the flow of water is shut off. This makes a lot of sense for things like washing machines or dishwashers that you use all the time. Installing the connector is very, very easy. You just shut off the water supply at the shut off valve and replace the old hose with the new one, placing the FloodSafe device at the end, near the shutoff valve. Then you can slowly turn the water back on and use the fixture like you normally would. That’s great peace of mind for just a few bucks.

To get good, reliable information for your home, visit us online at todayshomeowner.com. You’ll find details of on-air projects, weekly contests, and streaming video to help you improve your home at todayshomeowner.com.

Danny Lipford: Hey, we’re back out on our interior renovation. And we’re getting ready to install a ton of laminate floor to get us a step closer to having this house ready to put on the market. You know when you’re doing any kind of interior renovation, flooring is usually the one thing that costs the most, especially when you have a fairly large area like this. But many homeowners are finding that laminate floor is so easy to install and they can save a lot of money by installing it themselves. Now this particular floor looks very much like real wood, but it’s a plastic laminate material. It has a little snap lock on one edge that makes it very easy to install without any adhesive or glue. And it has this backing attached to each piece that’s kind of a sound-deadening barrier. So as you walk across the floor, it doesn’t make quite as much noise as another might. But very easy to install and it won’t take us long to continue the floor that was installed several months ago in this little dining area. And we’ll carry it right on across the rest of the living room. But first we have to put down a vapor barrier to make sure no moisture finds its way up through the slab.

If this house were built on a wood floor system, the vapor barrier would be unnecessary. But since it’s concrete, we’re using a little spray adhesive to keep the plastic in place while we work. The tongue side of the new piece locks into the groove side of the existing flooring, and we’re off and running. As you reach a wall, you measure the space, cut a piece to fit, and snap it right into place. It’s easy enough, but there are a few other rules you have to follow. This kind of floor floats, so you have to leave a small gap of about a quarter inch between the floor and the wall, which is later covered by molding. Otherwise, when the material expands, it will warp or bow. We also discovered it works best to line up the short side of the planks, then snap the long sides together so you can work your way across the floor. Of course, we had to buy exactly the same material that was used before so all of this would work. But that was fairly easy since the owners saved an extra box of flooring. Now it cost a little less than 4 dollars per square foot for the materials, but the real beauty is because it’s so do-it-yourself-friendly you don’t have to pay for installation, which is typically half the cost of a flooring project.

Boy our laminate floor looks great. And the good thing about it, it’s completely finished. We don’t have to worry about any stain or sealer. Now our next task is to replace the existing front door. What we have in mind is a fiberglass door so it’s weather-resistant but it’s stained to look like real wood. And it has a large oval pane of glass in it that will allow a lot natural light to flood right into the foyer. We’re going to head to the home center and see what they have.

There’s a huge variety of these low-maintenance, fiberglass doors. But when we look closer, a large oval window is a little too formal for this house. What we settled on was a narrow arch design that seemed to compliment the home pretty well. This is a pre-hung door unit, so Tim has to remove the old door casing and the old jam before we can install the new one. You can buy the door alone, which is commonly called a slab, but it often has to be ordered special. And it costs as much or more than a pre-hung unit. While Tim is working on the door, the tile-setter shows up and starts wrapping the fireplace. We bought a single black tile and cut it into a keystone pattern for the surround. Besides that purchase, everything else was leftover from tiling the entryway a few months back. Now over there, the door is in and the only detail left is installing the door hardware.

I’m not even sure I use a regular screwdriver anymore because I use these cordless tools so much. Well, what do you think? We have a brand new door unit that really looks great. And it was all pre-finished with the stain on it, which saved us a lot of time, but it also saved us a fair amount of money. The homeowners set aside $500 to buy door. We were able to buy the door and have enough money left over to buy a brand new lock set. You know, I just hate to put an old tarnished lock back on a brand new door. So, putting a brand new lock set on here really made a difference both inside and out. Another thing you need to think about, if you’re doing the same thing as here, is to take your old key with you and have the new lock keyed the same way. That way, you don’t end up with all those keys on your key ring. When we come back right after our Around the Yard segment, we’ll show you all the changes we made in this area that made a big difference in how it looks. And I guarantee you it will make it a lot easier to sell this house.

Tricia Craven Worley: Every homeowner wants their home to be safe and secure. Certainly one way to do this is by installing lighting. We have a flood light here in this eave and that is great. But something that would make it even better is to have a motion detector sensor. That way is there is any movement out here it will be picked up. We have carriage lights around our front doors, and on paths, sometimes we have path lighting. Something that is also a good idea is to have low-voltage lighting along the sides or at the riser of your stairs.

That will illuminate the treads and people won’t trip going up and down. Something a lot of people overlook is the effect of greenery around the outside of their house. This is a beautiful azalea, but look how it’s hiding this window. If we cut this down just a little bit, it’s going to let more light enter the room and make the window visible from the outside. It will also increase the safety because then there won’t be a place for an intruder to obscure themselves. So think about that around your house. Give those a trim and increase your security.

Danny Lipford: I love when we complete a project, especially one that’s turned out like this. It seems like everything came together in less two weeks, and I can’t believe this wall looks as good as it does now because it had that ugly brick on it. This is one of my favorite parts of this project. The old bricks that were here not only dated the room, but they made this end of the room real dark and heavy. The new fireplace has a much more contemporary feel and covering the bricks with drywall has done wonders for the whole place. Adding the trim around the feature window and extending the crown molding throughout the area has raised the level of finish. Without a doubt, the most striking change was extending the laminate floors from the dining room all the way through the living room. And that new door out front should bring in plenty of prospective buyers. Now all of the work that was completed in this room was done so that we could get this out in the front yard. Not only have we made this whole house appealing to a prospective buyer, we’ve increased the value of the home. If you’d like a few more tips on how you can increase the value of your home without spending a lot of money, whether you’re selling it or not, drop by our website at todayshomeowner.com. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week.

Next week as hurricane season approaches, we’ll turn to coastal Mississippi to see how the rebuilding is going.