Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Beach Condo Renovation: Part 1

By: Danny Lipford

My wife, Sharon, and I recently bought a condominium in Orange Beach, Ala., where our family loves to vacation.

In part 1 of our condo renovation, we tackled quite a few projects, including updating the cabinets and countertops, removing the carpet, demolishing the ceramic tile, installing crown molding throughout the condo, and hanging the wall-mounted TVs.

Check out the episode article to learn more.

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DANNY LIPFORD: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re renovating a small living space with a tremendous view.

SHARON: I came here this weekend wanting to see results. And all I’ve seen is destruction.

DANNY: Orange Beach, Alabama, is a beautiful spot where my family loves to vacation.

We’ve decided to buy a condominium unit there, so that we can use it a few weeks a year and then rent it out the rest of the year to cover the cost of ownership.

SHARON: I just love the beach. And the gulf is so close to us.

DANNY: From a rental stand point, it just seems to be easier to rent around the beach. Everybody wants to go the beach, so it makes a lot of sense from the investment standpoint. You really have to look at that from a standpoint of choosing the right materials that are durable, but still attractive. And, that kind of plays into every decision you make. And also, you know, as a condo owner, this particular condo has, like, 74 units, so, essentially, we’re 1/74th owner in the building.

That means we’re also responsible for maintenance fees and assessments to keep up the facilities, but aside from that, it’s much like buying a house including buyer’s remorse.

This is a lot uglier than what I remember.

SHARON: Yes.

DANNY: Ah, why did they ever do this, I wonder.

SHARON: Don’t know, but all the old condos seem to have that.

DANNY: Well, that definitely will go.

And I assume white appliances are completely out now.

SHARON: Oh, yeah.

DANNY: Even though these look great.

SHARON: No, they don’t, Danny.

DANNY: They look great.

SHARON: No, they don’t. Stains.

DANNY: This is a problem.

SHARON: Yeah.

DANNY: So, we have to go stainless.

SHARON: Stainless.

DANNY: So we can save the sink.

SHARON: Mmm, no, because we’re getting granite and…

DANNY: What about the floor? This carpet has seen its better days.

SHARON: Yeah, definitely. It has to go.

DANNY: I would like the same type of flooring going all the way through.

SHARON: You wanna ask me what I want?

DANNY: What do you want? What?

SHARON: I’ve been looking at that, and, I don’t know, it’s some kind of vinyl. And it looks like wood, it’s like planks. I’ve seen it in commercial areas, and so I think it must be very durable.

DANNY: Yeah.

SHARON: What’s it called?

DANNY: That might work.

SHARON: What’s it called?

DANNY: It’s a vinyl plank flooring.

SHARON: Mmm-hmm.

DANNY: So.

SHARON: Well, I would like that.

DANNY: And I can’t believe they rented this thing out with a carpet like this.

SHARON: I know, but look at the view. I mean, that probably makes up for it.

DANNY: People love wicker. We’re not gonna get rid of that, are we?

SHARON: Do you know anybody that loves wicker?

DANNY: No, I don’t like it, but I thought.

SHARON: The headboard has to go, the nightstands have to go.

DANNY: I can say that the lamp has to go.

SHARON: We want our condo to stand out when people are looking at pictures of, maybe, 73 other condos that look almost the same. We want ours to stand out and to be more attractive.

DANNY: A lot of these places don’t have any crown mold, and I think the crown mold would be perfect in here.

SHARON: I think that will make it look a lot better.

DANNY: Yeah. And the rest of the trim’s fine, I mean, you know. That’ll be fine.

SHARON: What about the ceiling fan?

DANNY: That’s pretty bad.

SHARON: Might have to order one, right?

DANNY: Yeah. You know, I bet you will.

Uh, this is one place that’s going to need a lot of work. First of all.

SHARON: Oh, wow!

DANNY: I can’t believe they would still put four-inch tile down.

SHARON: Oh, well, it’s probably original.

DANNY: I Know. Saving? Or throwing it away?

SHARON: Ooh-la-la. I think it’s going.

DANNY: Okay, we agree on that. We agree on that. And I wish we didn’t have to put up with this thing.

SHARON: I know.

DANNY: But it’s okay. It’s okay, maybe we can change the trim.

SHARON: Yeah, I plan on it.

DANNY: Yeah.

DANNY: Besides the dated plumbing, trim and flooring, we’re also updating the cabinets, the mirrors, and the light fixtures in all of the bathrooms. Really, the outdoor space is the only area we won’t be touching.

This is probably the biggest balcony I’ve really seen on any of the ones we’ve looked at.

SHARON: This is the best. It really is. This is great.

DANNY: We don’t have to do anything we this.

SHARON: Well, except buy some furniture.

DANNY: Yeah, buy some furniture. But you know what? There’s a lot of work in there. A lot more, I think, than I thought, but, it’s going to be fun.

SHARON: Yeah, it will be.

DANNY: Okay.

SHARON: We’ll do it.

DANNY: All right, it’s time to get to work.

SHARON: All right.

DANNY: So the following week, Allen and some guys from my construction crew arrived with tools and materials, including lots of crown molding.

DANNY: It’s primed and painted with the top coat.

ALLEN: Oh, nice. Nice.

DANNY: So once we shoot it up with the guns, a little bit of caulking and then one more coat. So they should be able to get all of this up today.

ALLEN: So all this has to go up three flights?

DANNY: All of this, and a whole lot more stuff.

ALLEN: Oh, boy! All right.

DANNY: This is awesome, isn’t it? Cool.

DANNY: But before the work can begin.

SHARON: Anything wicker goes.

ALLEN: Anything wicker.

DANNY: Everything wicker goes.

DANNY: It’s all going down to the parking lot to wait for pick-up by a local consignment shop.

SHARON: I knew that the consignment store was there, and I wanted to see what they had. And they had a lot of similar things to what we wanted to get rid of in the condo. Then I asked if they might be interested in what I had. And he said, “Send me pictures.” And he took almost everything that was in the condo.

DANNY: Yep.

SHARON: I think it’s great that I can make some money off it.

DANNY: I like it. Sounds good.

You know, this is so great that Sharon was able to find this consignment dealer that’s going to be able to come and pick
all of the stuff up that we want to get out of the condo, ’cause it’s so hard to sell this kind of stuff. But with someone set up with a consignment shop, and will come pick it up? Hey, we got it made!

JOE TRUINI: All you need to do to maintain hardwood floors is sweep them occasionally to remove the dust and dirt. But if you have scuff marks from black-soled shoes, you can’t simply sweep them away, but you can erase them using a tennis ball. The felt, the thick felt surface of a brand new tennis ball is great for removing the scuff mark. See that? How quick is that?

And because you’re not using a cleaner or cleanser abrasive, there’s no way you’re gonna damage the floor with the tennis ball. But if you have scuff marks on your floor frequently, you don’t want to be spending time on your hands and knees scrubbing them, so what I would recommend is that you take a utility knife and you cut an X in the tennis ball, then simply stick it
on the end of your broom handle.

Now, as you are going around sweeping the floor, if you see a scuff mark, simply turn the broom over and erase the scuff mark
without having to kneel over.

ALLEN: It may be. It may be good, but it makes me really uncomfortable.

DANNY: Coming up, find out what’s making Allen so squeamish.

DANNY: My wife, Sharon, and I are updating a beach-front condo we just bought for family vacations, and to rent out as an investment. This is a big job. In fact, it’ll take us two episodes to cover it. But we’ve gotten a good start by moving out the worn, dated furnishings.

ALLEN: That’s clever!

DANNY: Downstairs.

SHARON: Okay, guys, all of this goes.

DANNY: Sharon is supervising the pickup of the old furnishings by the consignment company. We, actually, maybe make a little money out of them, you know.

SHARON: Yeah. Well, um. Danny, you know that I went there and bought something.

DANNY: Oh.

Now, it’s time to get started with the improvements.

You know, any time you’re hanging crown mold, it’s always great to have the longest pieces possible. Naturally, they will be cutting them down a little bit, but this is awfully nice, having the 16 foot lengths when we’re handing them up the balcony like this.

DANNY: Once we get the material inside, Mark and Mike are handling the installation. And these guys are masters. They’re creating coat joints from all of the inside corners which is difficult to do well, but they make it look so easy. And the results are tight joints that look incredible.

MARK: Oh, beautiful.

DANNY: They’re even custom-cutting the crown around the wall-mounted air conditioning vents. But this job is not without its challenges.

ALLEN: They’re working with 16 foot pieces, and the rooms are only 14 feet long. So they’ll just be able to navigate that big piece of crown and get it in place. They’re doing just a slap-bang good job.

DANNY: Meanwhile, Sharon is removing those ugly cabinet doors, so we can replace them with new ones we’ve ordered from a local cabinet shop.

You know, it looks better. Without them, you may not even want any cabinet doors.

SHARON: Oh, yes.

DANNY: That’s a new trend.

SHARON: No, it’s not. You’re just trying to save money.

DANNY: Hold on, just a second, I want you to look at this.

SHARON: Okay.

DANNY: That’s probably too big, just step back a little bit more. That’s too big in there.

SHARON: Well, I was just wondering what if we set it down on that lip. I think I would like that better.

DANNY: Ah, this profile.

SHARON: Oh, you think?

DANNY: Since the new doors were re-painted and glazed, we’ll order some smaller crown molding and give it the same treatment
before we install it.

ALLEN: I like the fact that Danny’s got some of his crew in to do the big major work, but there’s a lot of little things that are typical for home owners all over the place. Uh, one, is hanging some televisions, some flat-screen televisions on the wall.

DANNY: Okay, I’m ready. Hold it. Level. Level with the top.

SHARON: Level with the trio?

DANNY: Down.

SHARON: Okay.

DANNY: Down an inch. Down an inch. Okay, bring it down. Bring it down.

SHARON: I think that looks good right there.

ALLEN: If I’m hanging a TV, I go by what my tape measure tells me. Danny’s method, it may be. It may be good, but it makes me really uncomfortable.

DANNY: What do you think, Allen?

ALLEN: Well, I’m not laying on the bed with you to find out.

DANNY: And I appreciate that.

Once we determine the TV’s location, we can plan the path for getting the cable and power up to it through the wall. Then we can hang the mount.

ALLEN: But the challenge here is that we’re dealing with a condominium, and I’ve got metal studs. This could be tricky.

DANNY: Okay, pull it out.

DANNY: We got four. Let’s go. Gee, well, look at this. Look at my wall. Jeez! Oh, my wall.

ALLEN: I’m looking at.

DANNY: Don’t get all.

ALLEN: Don’t take the hammer, don’t be so aggressive!

DANNY: Well, it’s got to be a metal stud.

ALLEN: All the way across. I mean, I’m hitting on every one of these.

DANNY: That’s tricky.

ALLEN: And you’re sure it’s not concrete.

DANNY: Fortunately, it’s not, so the mount goes up quickly. Then we cut the hole for a new box so we can pull the wiring up from the lower one.

Can I put my foot up on your chest?

ALLEN: No, please don’t! Please don’t.

DANNY: Okay. I don’t understand what’s going on.

ALLEN: You see which way you’re. Where you going, buddy?

DANNY: Straight down towards you.

ALLEN: Yeah.

DANNY: It’s called tracking behind the wall.

ALLEN: Okay. And you think you’re gonna hit this on the first shot, huh?

DANNY: Yup. There it is. Oops, that went down to the second floor.

JODY MARKS: An impact driver is great to use, especially if you’ve got long screws or you’re going through some really tough hard wood. But downside of that, though, is that you might strip out your fasteners. Well, take a look at this. This is the Makita. 21-piece ultra-magnetic driver bit set. And this thing is pretty much the gold standard in biz. These bits will last 10 times longer than a standard bit. Now, let me show you this. It comes with a little sleeve here. I’ve got a bit already in there inside the bit holder. This removable piece right here, that’s actually the magnet, and it is two times stronger than the standard magnet that you would find on a bit set. But what I like best is, take a look at this, with this fastener, I put it in place. I can now use one hand to drive it. But look how this has a little bit of flex in it. This flex allows you to take the force off of the tip of the bit, so you’re not stripping out your fasteners. So if you’re in the market for bits, Makita’s got a good deal going on right here.

ALLEN: Uh, I haven’t enjoyed that at all, and it’s not going to happen anymore.

DANNY: After the break, I put my foot down.

ALLEN: That’s what I have to say!

DANNY: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re renovating a small living space with a tremendous view.

SHARON: I came here this weekend, wanting to see results. And all I’ve seen is destruction.

DANNY: The two-part renovation of our beach-front condominium is well underway. And now it’s time for the serious demolition to begin.

So, you hated the tile so bad, I thought you should take the first whack at it. Because either this is going to come up, all of it will come up in an hour, or it’s gonna take like a month.

Well, there’s certainly a lot to be said about being considerate of the neighbors when the neighbors are all around you. And we’re going to be taking up a lot of ceramic floor which is going to be loud,
no matter how we do it. Especially, if we have to break out our chipping hammer.

Put your glasses on.

SHARON: So, can I do a little girly whack first?

DANNY: Yeah, do a girly whack and then do whatever you want to do on it. But just hit it right about there.

SHARON: Well, you better stay out.

DANNY: Yeah, no, I’m backing up. You go ahead.

SHARON: Where, right about here?

DANNY: Yeah. Yeah. Just somewhere around in that corner right there.

SHARON: This is heavy. Ooh! I need to work on that, don’t I? Yeah. A little bit more.

DANNY: Oh, this is going to be fun. Okay, you got it cracked. Hit it some more. Neighbors are loving it. Go ahead. Okay.

SHARON: Gee, that’s hard, isn’t it?

DANNY: Too late to turn back now.

Once the tile cracks, we can begin breaking it loose with a scraper.

SHARON: So are those prowl marks from the glue?

DANNY: Yeah, that’s the glue. That might be the hardest thing to get up to put that final plate floor down.

SHARON: Wow!

DANNY: It’s gonna take a while.

Some of the tile comes up in large pieces, but the thin-set adhesive is really stuck to the slab. So all you can do is just whittle away at it. You know,I have chipped up a lot of ceramic over the years, and you never know what’s really going to work the best. I mean, this would probably do it, but it would take a long time and it’ll completely rip your hands up. And I’ve also found that a lot of times you need to break out the machinery. So, Tim, it’s all yours.

DANNY: Tim is using a chipping hammer to pop the tiles loose and shave up the adhesive. This is essentially a small electric jack hammer. Now, while you probably don’t need one in your toolbox every day, it’s certainly worth the price of a day’s rental for a job like this.

Well, there is chaos in the condo right now. Sharon and Allen are finishing up the first TV mount, I’m going to help Keith with a little bit of the dry wall. And Mark and Mike are finishing up all of the crown molding. Really, really close on that. And Tim is making enough noise to make the neighbors just really enjoy the whole process. You know what? I love this atmosphere.

DANNY: When the crown molding is complete and the salt table is removed, we begin pulling up the old stained carpet, cutting it into small sections. It is always a good idea, but especially in a situation like this, where disposal is a little more challenging.

SHARON: Hey, Danny.

DANNY: Yeah.

SHARON: Look, at this. Look, you can tell. You can tell the path.

DANNY: It’s actual sand?

SHARON: Yes, you could tell the path everybody took in from the beach.

DANNY: Ah!

SHARON: Look, you know. Well, isn’t that weird?

DANNY: That’s a good reason not to put carpet back now.

SHARON: I don’t know.

DANNY: It always amazes me what can get through a carpet with enough time and traffic. I’m equally amazed with the progress we’re making, but, unfortunately, my wife doesn’t quite feel the same way.

SHARON: I came here this weekend, wanting to see results. Wanting to see new faucets. Wanting to see new light fixtures. And all I’ve seen is destruction. I bought the ceiling fans and I bought light fixtures, and I really expected to see those go up today. So that I could see something put in.

DANNY: It’s not even painted.

SHARON: Something pretty.

DANNY: They’re still painting.

SHARON: They’re not painting the ceiling! Put ceiling fans up.

DANNY: I mean, buying bedspreads and pictures, and then putting them right in the way of everything when we’re trying to tear out carpet, trying to tear out all of that. I haven’t enjoyed that at all, and it’s not going to happen anymore.

SHARON: That’s what I have to say!

DANNY: Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to win that battle, when the counter-top fabricator, Evan, arrives, I’m determined to get the last word.

SHARON: I would like to. I don’t.

DANNY: Let’s go two more inches. Yeah, there you go.

EVAN: You see 12, you’re now talking about, you know, an 18 inch bar.

DANNY: Yeah, I think that’s good.

EVAN: Okay.

DANNY: He and I think that’s good. You don’t like this?

SHARON: No, he recommended the other. So you go like this. He said, “Ten inch”. Ten. See, look, how nice that is.

DANNY: Yeah. It’s not enough. My knees hurt just looking at that.

Eventually, I win out.

SHARON; I’ll just let y’all talk it out.

DANNY: And Evan gets started creating a template of the kitchen for the new counter-tops. Meanwhile, the dry wall and painting work continue, including the application of oil primer and top-coat to all of the cabinets.

Hey, I’m trying to get the last coat on the face of the cabinets because I’m picking up the cabinet doors tomorrow. So, this is oil paint, I need to at least let it dry overnight. And then I’ll be able
to install these two doors, the drawer fronts, put the countertop on, paint this. We’re on our way.

Early the next day, before Sharon gets to the condo, the cabinet doors arrive, along with the matching panel for the front of the bar. That panel requires most of the work, but once it is installed the concealed hinges go on the doors so that they can start going up.

SHARON: I guess, I’m a little nervous about the cabinet doors. Um, you know, we had to paint the cabinets and then we had the doors made. So, we had two different people working on it. And I was worried that it would not blend well and look good.

DANNY: I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. As these doors start going up, it becomes obvious to me that this renovation is headed in the right direction. Let’s hope Sharon agrees.

People with older homes often ask how they can update and upgrade the interior trim inexpensively. One of the best ways is to add casings around windows that only have dry wall returns. First replace both the existing window stool and apron at the bottom of the window. The new pieces will need to be slightly wider to accommodate the case molding you’ll add on the side. Choose new case moldings that matches the material used elsewhere in the room- around doors or cased openings.

The top piece of molding has a 45-degree miter-cut on each side that matches up with the two side pieces. The side pieces will have a square cut at the bottom, where they can meet the stool and a 45-degree miter-cut at the top. It’s best to leave a little of the dry wall showing inside the molding to disguise any variations in it. This is called ‘A reveal’. Once the dry wall is painted along with the new molding, no one will know it isn’t a fully-cased window.

DANNY: The condo unit we just bought for our family has seen some wear-and-tear. Besides being obvious that it was decorated in the 90s, the carpets were worn, the grout was stained, and the cabinets made it look more like a roadside motel than a home. The inside just didn’t live up to the view it offered from the balcony. To make it more attractive for our family and potential renters, we’re giving it a total facelift.

The carpet and tile are gone, we painted and added crown molding to all of the rooms, and those ugly cabinet doors have been replaced by new ones that, at least to me, make the kitchen look a lot more warm and inviting. But the question is, ”What will Sharon think?”

SHARON: Oh, my.

DANNY: Hey, there you go.

ALLEN: Oh, hey. Just perfect timing.

SHARON: Those look great!

DANNY: Hey, come on here, though, I want you to see it from over here. You remember how dull and ugly that was.

SHARON: Oh, yeah.

DANNY: You know, we’ve got the supports for the granite. This.

SHARON: Oh, that’s beautiful. When that granite goes in.

DANNY: Oh, yeah.

SHARON: That’s really going to be something.

ALLEN: I need your help here.

SHARON: Okay!

DANNY: Hey, that’s a pretty good reaction. And I’ll tell you, all of this is really going to look so much better once that granite’s on and it already looks a lot better than the laminate front counter-tops. It was so out of date. And I’ll tell you what, we have so much work we’re doing on this project, it’s really taking us two different shows in order to show you all the different elements, but it’s coming together next week. Now, a lot of times it can be very overwhelming, even for someone like me that does this all the time, when you have so many loose ends going on. But I know that it can come together very quickly. And I hope you’ll join us next week here on Today’s Homeowner as we put it all together.



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