Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Home Entry Makeover: Door and Stair Repair


See how we repaired and improved the look of an entryway, including repairing water damaged siding and step railings, and installing a new entry door and lock. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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Home Entry Makeover: Door and Stair Repair

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Entry to house after makeover with repaired railings, new door, and lighting.

Entry to house after makeover with repaired railings, new door, and lighting.

Watch this video to see how we repaired and improved the look of the entryway of the winners of the Win Danny and His Crew for a Day Contest, including:

  • Replace Siding: Removed water damaged siding and replaced it with fiber cement siding.
  • Repair Handrails: Replaced rotten handrail posts and missing spacer blocks on entryway stairs.
  • Repoint Brick Steps: Repaired missing and cracked mortar joints on brick entry steps.
  • Replace Entry Door: Removed weathered wood entry door and replaced it with a stained fiberglass door.
  • Install Deadbolt: Replaced the existing deadbolt with a touchscreen deadbolt that allows for both keyless and keyed access.
  • Replace Entry Lights: Installed new entry lights on the entry door landing.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: The Today’s Homeowner crew is Jonesboro, Georgia, at the home of one of the winners of our recent Win Danny And His Crew For a Day contest, Vicki and Russ Baker. Their 30-year-old home is in need of some help and we’re here to deliver it.

When we ran the contest asking viewers to send us their list of chores that needed to be done, Vicki Baker of Jonesboro, Georgia, was quick to share hers.

Vicki Baker: One Saturday morning, I was watching Today’s Homeowner and when they said to enter the contest, I got up and went to the computer immediately and entered.

Russ Baker: I really wasn’t sure what she got us into when she said “I won.” I mean, that could be good, that could be bad. So, I think, I said something like, “Exactly what did you win?” And, you know, sometimes things can be said where it sounds better than it is. So, I still wasn’t really sure what I was getting into or what she’d gotten us into.

Danny Lipford: Hopefully, it’s the repair of some issue at their entry way. Damaged siding, a weatherworn front door, missing mortar on the steps and rickety railing.

Russ Baker: Well, I would tell you that the best thing about the railing is probably to start a fire somewhere. I don’t see that as something you want to work with. I’m trusting Vicki’s judgment. I mean she talks about Danny like he is a rock star, so if he thinks he can do something with it, I’m open to, I’m receptive to watching him, hate to say waste his time but…

Danny Lipford: So, with that vote of confidence I arrive one late afternoon to plan the next day’s work.

Vicki Baker: First of all, this is the squirrel damage that was so bad. And we had a pest control company come out and block the areas that the squirrels were getting into.

Danny Lipford: Yeah because when I saw the pictures that had holes all along there and then all of a sudden, what is it? Some kind of metal or something?

Vicki Baker: We don’t know. We were surprised when we came out here and saw that it was already done, but they didn’t leave it very pretty.

Danny Lipford: No. We can definitely address something on that. I understand the handrails need a little work, huh? Look like they’re a little weathered here.

Vicki Baker: Yeah. Actually if y’all need to take them down, you can just blow on them and they’ll come apart for you.

Danny Lipford: Oh! Wow. We’ll have to add a couple of things to our list.

Vicki Baker: One problem that we have no idea how to fix is the grout in between the bricks.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Vicki Baker: And then, of course, the front door is really weathered.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, let’s look at that.

Vicki Baker: And it’s not energy efficient.

Danny Lipford: Oh, right.

Vicki Baker: It’s a very old door.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, boy, that’s really coarse. You can feel– And looks like these kind of oxidized.

Vicki Baker: Oh, yes.

Danny Lipford: You mentioned the possibility of getting some new lights.

Vicki Baker: Are they not just ugly?

Danny Lipford: No, it’s kind of funny, you know, it’s a beautiful front of the house and so forth, but maybe we can improve those lights and do something for the door. Still working out the final list, but what we’re going to do is get the materials this afternoon and then we’ll get here first thing in the morning and get something done.

Russ Baker: Super.

Vicki Baker: What’s first time in the morning?

Danny Lipford: Oh, let’s see. What time is daylight?

Vicki Baker: Not six.

Danny Lipford: No. We’ll be here probably 8, 8:30, something like that. And then get ready for it; we’ll have some fun tomorrow.

Russ Baker: Super, look forward to it.

Danny Lipford: All right. Great.

Russ Baker: Thank you, so much. Yes, sir. Nice to meet you.

Vicki Baker: I’m excited.

Danny Lipford: This will be fun.

Danny Lipford: After reviewing the list with Vicki and Russ yesterday, I realized we got a little bit more than just a day’s worth of work here. But we’re going to hang in here, knock out a lot of the things they want to repair on front of the house. Should make it look a lot better. Right now, while the guys are out getting some of the materials we need, I’m going to head up here and try to tackle the strange siding problem.

It appears that the exterminator’s repairman simply screwed some metal flashing over the damaged siding areas and spray painted it. Looks like they’re just covering that kind of thing up. Idiots.

Now, I have to remove the damaged siding so that we can repair it the right way. And while I’m working, Allen and Tim arrive with the materials I’ll use to replace it.

Allen Lyle: Well, I’ve got the siding here, so, whenever you’re ready just call me out some measurements, we’ll get it cut.

Danny Lipford: The replacement material we’re using is called fiber cement. As the name implies, it’s made mostly of cement and cellulose fibers. So, it won’t decay or be eaten by pests. Including those squirrels who chewed up the old siding.

But because the fiber cement comes in the same size as the hardboard siding that’s on Vicki’s house, our repair should be all but invisible.

Joe Truini: If you don’t have a pressure washer, you have to go out and get one of these machines. They’re great for cleaning any outdoor surface. The problem though is you can damage the surface if you hold the nozzle too tight, because the water comes out of here at extremely high pressure.

So, here’s a way to avoid that. Make a simple little guide. This is just a piece of half-inch PVC that I cut, bent a little bit with heating it with a cigarette lighter. Then I trimmed off the pipe with a hacksaw at this very slight angle. And on the other end, I bolted on a couple of one-and-half-inch diameter casters.

Now with a couple of stainless steel pipe clamps, just hold it right to the wand itself—the spray wand of the pressure washer. And what’s nice about this is it allows you to hold it and set it exactly where you need it.

So, you just slide it a little closer, a little further away; and now you don’t have to hold up the wand. You just roll it on the casters, and you know you’re always at the exact right distance from the surface.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re just outside Atlanta, Georgia, in the town of Jonesboro, helping Russ and Vicki Baker catch up on some exterior repairs. Our labor here is part of their prize as winners in a contest we ran several weeks back.

Allen has been busy, getting us started on the repairs to the rickety front porch handrail. Russ and Vicki felt they were a total loss but as it turns out the major damage was in the lower posts, which had rotted off at the ground level.

So, Allen digs out the concrete footing for the old posts and cuts new ones from pressure-treated four-by-fours. Then we can begin to sturdy up the rails without replacing everything.

Allen Lyle: Look at the entire project, it may be that you don’t need to take everything out and destroy it. In this case, these look bad but they’re still salvageable. So, these I can repair, only the posts need to be replaced, and then, you know, get creative, like we knew we had that little newel on top of this. So, little bit of creative cutting, I’ll drill a hole in the center here and we’ve got identical posts once more.

Danny Lipford: At this point, we just need to attach the existing rails to those new posts he’s created. These screws will hold the post in the proper position. Then, once Tim mixes up some concrete, we’ll fill the hole around the post to make sure it doesn’t move. As the rails take shape some of Russ’ skepticism seems to be diminishing.

Russ Baker: Boy, I got to tell you, I really thought when you got here you would look and say, “Oh, my gosh. Why are we taking this job on?” And it’s like it didn’t faze you. I’m like, “Am I missing something here?”

Danny Lipford: With the posts firmed up, we can spend a few minutes taking care of some of the less structural damage, like missing spacers between the balusters and securing those turned newel caps that Allen rescued earlier. Again, not a lot of work, but we do use a lot of glue.

By the way, if you’re trying this at home, be sure it’s weather-resistant glue like this stuff. While we’ve been working on the siding and railings, Vicki has been busy putting together a great lunch for us, and the break is certainly welcome.

Allen Lyle: You know, we can get, call the Travel Channel, tell Adam Richman he’s got nothing on this. Nothing.

Danny Lipford: How about that lunch, Allen?

Allen Lyle: Probably the best soup I’ve had in ages.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that was perfect. Hey, since you agreed to take care of the door issue, I’ll go ahead and get all of the handrails ready to paint.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And that will involve lots of sanding to smooth out this weathered wood and get it ready for the primer. There is a lot of surface to cover, and thankfully, Russ offers to jump in and help with the work. For that weathered door, Allen has another solution.

Allen Lyle: I got to tell you the front door, it’s not that it’s in bad shape, but it’s on that western side of the house, it’s just getting baked to death. If I sand it down the pores are going to be there, they are so open, they’re so grainy.

What I think I’m going to do is replace this with a fiberglass door. That’s going to take care of the sun issue plus I’ve got this extra hole up here for a deadbolt, I don’t want that. I want to put in a brand new lockset, new lights, make the front look perfect.

Danny Lipford: So, while Allen transfers the hinge and hardware measurements from the old door to the new Jeld-Wen fiberglass door we picked up, there’s plenty of sanding to be done.

Here you go, Russ. I got you fixed up with some automation here. Here you are. Button’s right there.

Russ Baker: Oh, buttons.

Danny Lipford: It’ll make it a little bit easier.

Russ Baker: Wow.

Danny Lipford: And just kind of lightly sand and more of a cleaning than anything else. And we’re not far away from being able to start priming this thing.

Russ Baker: Okay. Oh, wow.

Danny Lipford: Little better, huh?

Russ Baker: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: Obviously this work suits Russ. Meanwhile, I’m using a little imagination to create two new half-newel caps to replace the missing ones at the top of the rail. Pretty good.

And Allen gets the new door hinges mortised and ready to hang. By the time he and Tim get it in place, Allen is ready to drill the lockset.

The sanding is done on the rails, and we’re ready for primer. Once again, Russ gets right in the middle of it and I have to say, the help is welcome.

Russ Baker: Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’m amazed at what you did over there where the squirrels had done their number, that’s amazing. I never thought I’d see that like that again.

Danny Lipford: While we keep priming, and Russ continues his home improvement education, why don’t you check in with Jodi at The Home Depot for this week’s Best New Product.

Jodi Marks: Well, Shea and I are hanging out in the programmable thermostat aisle. And you know what, there are so many innovations when it comes to the newer programmable thermostats now. Now, I want to say, “Hey, is there a smartphone app for that?” And there is.

Shea Pettaway: There is one. Honeywell has done a very good job by doing that. And it’s right at your fingertips.

Jodi Marks: Now, this is the Honeywell programmable thermostat. And like Shea says, everything is at your fingertips, because it is a touch screen. And you can program this up to seven days. And you can record your comings and your goings, so that your temperature will be just the right temperature when you walk through the door. But you and I both know, especially with kids, your life can change on a dime, right?

Shea Pettaway: Sure. That’s right, exactly. When you have that smartphone, at work or you’re on vacation you can actually change the time of the temperature whether or not you need to be heated or cooled.

Jodi Marks: See, and that’s just a great little feature. Because you never know when you just need to kind of, at your fingertips, change something. Another thing too that we were talking about, is this thing is pretty smart because it kind of picks up your habits, doesn’t it?

Shea Pettaway: It does. It’s called the Smart Response Technology. And what it does, it learns the habits in your home, it adjusts the heating and cooling, and it can actually save you 33% on your energy bill.

Jodi Marks: Wow. And who doesn’t want to save? I want to save.

Shea Pettaway: I definitely want to save.

Danny Lipford: Russ and Vicki Baker have made us so welcome here at their Jonesboro, Georgia home. We’ve already completed repairs to damaged siding and some rotten porch rail posts. Plus, we’ve replaced their weathered front door with a brand new fiberglass one, and primed the porch handrails in preparation for painting. Allen got Vicki’s okay on the stain, before we start applying the gel coat stain that will make the fiberglass look like rich wood.

Now, while the primer dries, Tim and I can address the missing mortar on the porch steps. Someone has tried to solve this with caulk, so a little clean up is necessary first. Then we wet down the steps, before mixing up an ordinary bag of Quikrete Mortar Mix to fill in the gaps. This thing is perfect if you get it flowing just right. I’ve never done any pastry work, but it’s much like a pastry bag. And just at steady pressure and you kind of nurse it in there.

Once the gaps are filled, we wash off all of the excess with a sponge and lots of fresh water. Meanwhile, Allen has finished staining the door and is putting a coat on the sidelights. With lots of drying to be done, this seems like a good place to end day one.

Unfortunately, day two starts with heavy fog, which may slow down our progress.

Man, with all this fog, you know what I’m afraid of?

Allen Lyle: Moisture.

Danny Lipford: I’ll tell you what we’ll do, we’ll use that old trick. Tim and I will get the leaf blower out and see if we can dry this out a little bit. About the only other thing, I guess you want to tackle the lights?

Allen Lyle: I’ll get the lights.

Danny Lipford: Okay. All right. Tim, let’s do that. Let’s get the blower. The existing carriage lights on either side of the entry are 30 years old, oxidized and pretty dated in design. So, Allen is installing a pair of much more modern lights that’ll dress up the entry and offer more light.

While Tim tries to speed up the drying process with a leaf blower, I’m tackling some last-minute caulking on the rails. Eventually, the sky begins to clear, the rails dry out and we’re ready for the first coat of paint. Tim, how’s it covering over there?

Tim McCraney: – Seems to be doing all right, but it’s definitely going to need two coats.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. In relatively short order, we’re able to get the first coat of rail paint completed. Then we move on to applying the clear coat polyurethane on the front door.

I think everybody is amazed at how realistic the fiberglass doors look now with all the graining and, you know, either way any time you’re putting some polyurethane on like this it’s always best to go with the grain–go vertical.

A lot of times people will put these out on a sawhorse or whatever, but trying to finish something up like this, this is the easiest way, just go and do it in place. Give it plenty of time to dry before you close it. We’ve got a nice day, so we should be finished here in just a little bit.

The clear coat will also cover the sidelights. And while Tim puts that on, it appears Allen has turned into a landscaper. Hey, man, this is looking pretty good. I know we weren’t planning on doing a lot of landscaping, but a great idea to bring the trimmer.

Allen Lyle: Well, you know, just want to shape it up make it look nice for the entry way. I thought I’d do this one, maybe just clean that up a little bit and square up the hedges at the entry.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. They’re a little, a little overgrown.

Allen Lyle: Little bit.

Danny Lipford: I know Vicki and Russ mentioned landscaping this area a little bit. I’ll tell you, when Tim was up at store earlier, picked up some bails of pine straw, you know, how something as simple as pine straw can really dress out an area. I thought what the heck, if you’re doing this, then I can get Tim to help me just do a simple little bed at least, you know, just like we are doing here. Give them a little more inspiration on some of the things that they can do, so, you do that; I’ll do the raking and kind of shape out where this bed’s going to go.

Allen Lyle: Sounds good.

Danny Lipford: It’s still too early to plant much in the way of new flowers, but this little bit of work will set the stage for Vicki to add some color here later in the spring. Speaking of Vicki, once again she has outdone herself with another outstanding lunch for us. This is the way we eat on the road all the time now. So, we’re glad to have you with us.

Allen Lyle: Are you sure we shouldn’t have some pilgrims and Indians here?

Danny Lipford: I’m telling you. Wow. Now, that I’m good and full and the first coat of paint is dry, I can attack the last coat of paint on the handrails, and Allen can add the crowning touch to the new door.

Danny Lipford: The folks at Schlage have provided us with one of their new touchscreen deadbolts for Russ and Vicki’s house, and this thing is full of features. It gives you keyless entry with up to 30 different codes, so you don’t have to wait for the cable guy or worry about forgetting your key. The lock can even be operated remotely from a computer or smartphone when it’s connected to the Nexia Home Intelligence System. And on top of all of that, the lock includes an alarm that can alert you if someone tampers with it or just let you know when the door has been opened.

Danny Lipford: Barry wants to know, “What’s the best way to locate a roof leak?”

If you have a roof leak that’s caused a water stain on your ceiling, the best way to track it down is to get in the attic directly above the stain, knowing that most likely the leak is not directly above the stain but a little further up the slope of the roof.

So what you want to look for are any telltale signs of where that water may be tracking down. You’ll see some discolored wood or a water trail on the bottom of the decking or the rafter, then you can find out exactly where it’s entering in your attic.

And then you can take care of the repairs. But if you just simply can’t find exactly where the leak’s coming in, then use a good, strong water hose on the outside with someone inside the attic with a nice flashlight. And then you can tell as you move your water hose up the rake of the roof, you’ll see exactly where the water’s coming in.

Danny Lipford: Our work at the home of Russ and Vicki Baker, here in Jonesboro, Georgia is complete. The siding is repaired. We’ve given the porch rails and brick steps some new life and the whole entry looks a lot better thanks to that brand new fiberglass door, lock set, and those carriage lights.

In spite of all the great meals Vicki has fed us, it’s time for our crew to hit the road. Well, I’m glad we were able to take care of some of the repairs around the house here that could’ve really caused some problems later on.

Vicki Baker: Well, it’s been wonderful, absolutely. I cannot tell y’all how much I have enjoyed having you and your entire crew here.

Russ Baker: You know what? I have to say, it really exceeded my expectations. I thought you were going to come in and change your mind. But I’ll tell you what was beautiful, was being able to sit here and see you do it and work with you a little bit. I learned a lot. I really appreciate that. It was great.

Danny Lipford: And of course, the front door, the lights on either side. I’m so glad we’re able to get the Schlage lock in place. But I got to tell you, you guys were a lot of fun to be around. We had an awful lot of fun. And Tim and Allen, they also seemed like they were in pretty good shape.

Allen Lyle: I did. I enjoyed working at your restaurant.

Vicki Baker: Thank you.

Allen Lyle: Well, the food was amazing.

Vicki Baker: We so enjoyed y’all being here, and you had said it was going to be fun–I was skeptical. But you were right, it was a lot of fun, gentlemen.

Danny Lipford: Well, it is a lot of fun, and I hope you guys had a lot of fun on this week’s Today’s Homeowner. We’ll see you next week. You know, really when you get all those plants in…

Allen Lyle: Oh! Right on my finger.

Tim McCraney: You got another one.