Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Replacing an Entry Door and Mailbox to Improve Curb Appeal

By: Danny Lipford
House after replacing front entry door and trimming trees and shrubs.

House after replacing front entry door and trimming trees and shrubs.

Ali and Mark Thackeray’s home in Sandy, Utah, has a beautiful mountain backdrop, but the front of the house could use some improvements to enhance the curb appeal.

Projects to enhance curb appeal include:

  • Entry Door: Installing a new, energy efficient entry door and sidelights from Window World.
  • Mailbox: Replacing the mailbox with a locking security mailbox from Architectural Mailboxes.
  • Porch Floor: Cleaning the concrete porch floor, and staining it with concrete stain.
  • Light Fixtures: Replacing the exterior light fixtures with new LED fixtures from Hampton Bay.
  • Flag Bracket: Repairing the sagging flag bracket using lead anchors and epoxy glue.
  • Pruning: Trimming the front hedge and pruning tree limbs.
  • Flower Bed: Planting flowers in the flower bed in the front of the house.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re giving this home some curb appeal worthy of its awesome mountain backdrop and the family that lives here.

We always hesitate to point out things on certain houses. Is this something you’re fond of?

Mark and Ali Thackeray live in this Sandy, Utah, home with their three daughters, Siri, Jane, and Ruby. Like most young families, their daily life is pretty busy keeping up with the girls, Mark’s photography business, and making improvements to their 30-year-old home. So recently, Ali entered the Window World What’s Your Front Door View contest on our website.

I thought maybe I’d win like a new doorknob or a doormat or something like that, but not the grand prize winner. So, I got an e-mail, then I got that followed up by a phone call, and blown away that I won.

Because, first, I don’t really enter contests and I don’t typically win. And something this big, I’ve never won something like that before.

Until it actually happened and Doug came, I still was kind of waiting. I’ll believe it when I see it, and now I believe it.

Danny Lipford: Doug is the local Window World dealer who came out several weeks ago to measure for the new front door they had won. Now we need to figure out what else we can do to help boost this home’s curb appeal.

Well, first of all, congratulations on winning the contest.

Mark Thackeray: Thank you.

Danny Lipford: I know a new front door on the front of this house is going to look pretty nice.

Ali Thackeray: We’re really excited. I never thought that we would win.

Danny Lipford: Well, this will be great. And, you know, a lot of times, a door like that will be a catalyst for, you know, a few other things that we can do to make the house look good. But how long have you guys been in the house?

Mark Thackeray: Oh, it’s been about two years now.

Danny Lipford: OK. Did you have to do a whole lot before you moved in? Or have you done a lot since you moved in?

Mark Thackeray: Yeah, we’ve mostly focused interior-wise, you know, cosmetics. And we re-did the floors and scraped off the ceiling. We had the popcorn ceiling that actually had asbestos. And so, got the jumpsuit on in the middle of July.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s a lot of fun! That’s a lot of fun.

Mark Thackeray: No, homeownership has been kind of a wild ride in that aspect. You know, we never really had done any of that work ourselves. And that was the exciting part to me is because I love learning that stuff, I’ve always wanted to.

Ali Thackeray: But it was totally different doing whatever we wanted on the inside, because we’ve always lived in other people’s houses. You couldn’t put pictures where you wanted to, let alone rip out toilets and put in new flooring.

Mark Thackeray: Change walls and…

Ali Thackeray: So, it was all new for us.

Mark Thackeray: Yeah. So, we ended up doing all that stuff for the first time. You know, tiling, tiling the fireplace, multiple bathrooms, putting in the wood on the floors.

Ali Thackeray: The basement bathroom got done last. That tile looks great.

Mark Thackeray: I know, that’s the best one. And of course, it’s the one we never see. But it’s been cool, too, just because it’s stuff that we felt like we should have known by now that we didn’t.

You know, so we got to learn all those things and just made us, I think, more well rounded in that regard.

Ali Thackeray: And much more appreciative.

Mark Thackeray: Yeah, that, too.

Danny Lipford: But I don’t know how you’ve been able to get anything done with as busy as you guys are. You’ve got three little girls there to take care of.

Ali Thackeray: Sometimes I forget to even water the flowers. So, it’s been neglected outside, and we’d really love to try to take care of that now that we’ve done the inside.

Mark Thackeray: Well, one thing that we’ve always wanted to change about our house was just that front entryway. You know, when we first purchased the house, there was kind of this ugly, worn-out brown. You know, we changed that. We painted that in a gray.

But ever since then, it’s still—the whole porch and the whole front view of our house was kind of, kind of gloomy, wouldn’t you say?

Ali Thackeray: And dated. Gloomy and dated. Yellow stained glass on the sides of the front door. So it just doesn’t—didn’t reflect who we are.

We have a little stain there from paint that dropped onto the concrete.

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Ali Thackeray: So I thought maybe if we could stain it? I’ve heard you can do that. We’ve never tried it before, but maybe if we stained the concrete or added a little more color that way.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s a great way to do it. What are some of the other ideas you had?

Ali Thackeray: Well, I thought maybe if we got some more flower pots out here.

Mark Thackeray: That’s good, yeah. Some more color around here, too, would be nice.

Ali Thackeray: Maybe besides the lights.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, now, we always hesitate to point out things on certain houses, because you never know if someone’s like really fond of a particular thing. Is this something you’re fond of?

Mark Thackeray: Well, it’s nice, because then when Halloween rolls around, that’s when we really turn it on.

Ali Thackeray: We don’t even have to decorate!

Mark Thackeray: Other than that, we actually keep them off, because…

Danny Lipford: Wow. Those are pretty dated, aren’t they?

Ali Thackeray: Yeah, they were a priority at first, those light fixtures, because that’s the first thing you see. But as we started to do the inside, I noticed those less, and you notice the inside more.

And it’s enough just to keep the lawn mowed and the kids clothed and clean. And so it went on the back burner. And moneywise, we’ve spent most of our money on the inside. And it just kind of wasn’t a priority anymore. As long as we could keep the weeds down.

Mark Thackeray: Yeah, our whole goal, our whole goal that first year was not to kill the grass.

Ali Thackeray: Yeah, yeah.

Mark Thackeray: And if we did that, we were stoked on that. We were pretty excited.

Danny Lipford: The grass seems to be doing fine, but their mailbox? Well, it’s seen its better days.

Ali Thackeray: Oh, that mailbox. I’m just glad it’s still standing, actually.

Mark Thackeray: Yeah.

Ali Thackeray: It’s great that it’s still standing. We’ve had to replace the numbers, because the numbers have worn away. And with him doing so much business from home, we’d love to have something that’s more secure.

So anything with a lock would be great, and especially something that looks any better than what’s already out there would be an improvement.

Danny Lipford: This will be a lot of fun, though, taking care of these few little things and you guys being able to work with us on that, and our friends from Window World installing the front door.

I’ll tell you what, the next two or three days, I think we can make a pretty big difference here.

Mark Thackeray: Hey, sounds great.
Danny Lipford: OK, good.

Joe Truini: Nails and screws are now sold in these one-pound boxes, which is great because they’re affordable, and if you only need to buy a few screws or nails, this is the way to go. But storing them is a problem, because after a while, you’re going to end up with dozens of these boxes.

But I noticed that the boxes are three-and-a-half inches wide, which is the same thickness as a two-by-four wall stud. So if you have exposed studs in your shop, as we do here, you can utilize the space for storing the nails and the screws.

What I did is I took a shelf and made it out of a one-by-four—screwed it through the ends. You can use a two-by-four as well, if that’s what you have. Then I took a piece of lath and just screwed it across the studs, and that’s just to hold the boxes in place.

Then, you can just slip these in. And even though the space is only three-and-a-half inches deep, you have plenty of room for all these boxes, even cans of spray paint, a brad point drill set, hand tools—like this stapler.

So if you have exposed studs in your shop, try this trick. You’ll be surprised how much storage you get out of such a limited space.

Danny Lipford: Besides being busy parents and active home improvers, Mark and Ali Thackeray are also contest winners. They won a new front door from Window World as part of a contest they entered on our website. And that’s the catalyst for our curb appeal adventure.

The local window world dealer Doug Llewellyn caught onto that theme and is also replacing the two dated single-pane windows on either side of the door.

The fit on these windows is just right, and Mark seems to be impressed with the progress. Like a glove. Like a glove. While all of this is going on, Chelsea’s getting to know Mark and Ali’s daughters.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Going to tickle you!

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, Zac and Chris have started removing that old, dark door unit that started this whole project in the first place.

Because of the age of this home, replacing the whole unit, not just the door itself, will ensure a much better fit. Ali wanted a door with style and eye-catching color.

Ali Thackeray: I love it!

Danny Lipford: And it looks like she isn’t disappointed. But she’ll also have a much more energy efficient door because of this unit’s integrated weatherstripping and threshold, not to mention the insulated core.

Now the unit just needs to be secured so it’s plumb, level, and square.

Zac Llewellyn: You can’t go off what the house says. If the house is out of level, you don’t want to go off what the trim is, otherwise your door’s not going to work correctly. So, plumb it up, square it up. Don’t worry about the outside of the house, because you can fix that with trim.

Danny Lipford: In no time, they have it where they want it.

Chris: Man, that’s nice.

Danny Lipford: Now they can begin sealing around the edges and installing the new hardware for the door.

You know, it always surprises homeowners when we’re doing a window or door replacement that it takes so little time. When it’s measured right, you got the right crew, it goes pretty quickly. These guys have been out here for less than a half a day.

Doug, it looks like you’re well on your way to finishing this. And I notice you have the major components in and you have the expandable foam around here. I bet you don’t find a lot of that foam when you’re tearing doors and windows out.

Doug Llewellyn: That’s right, Danny. A lot of the jobs we do, you know, are older homes. And so, a lot of the technology and the products weren’t available when the homes were built.

So we put in the new windows and the door. We’ve sealed all the way around them, and we’re not only being able to help with the energy efficiency, the look of the home, and we’re able to identify any problems we might find along the way as well.

Danny Lipford: And I bet you do find a few problems.

Doug Llewellyn: We find a few things. This house had a unique situation down here on the bottom with the threshold. So, when I came out originally, the flooring was actually sticking out the outside underneath the threshold itself.

Danny Lipford: That’s real attractive.

Doug Llewellyn: So, we were able to cut the flooring back and move the door back in where it should go. It’s still sitting up a little bit right now, but it’s the right height on the inside. We’ll seal around it on the bottom, add a little bit of trim on the outside, and we should be good to go.

Danny Lipford: Man, that’s perfect. Now, talking about the trim, what exactly are you using? I see a couple different pieces here.

Doug Llewellyn: So because we had, you know, a cedar, a wood cedar siding on the trim here on the inside. We painted some trim with cedar…

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that looks great.

Doug Llewellyn: …to try and match the color of the windows and kind of keep a little bit of consistency that way. And then around the door itself, we use a traditional brick mold. This is a composite brick mold.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I’ve got you. Great.

Doug Llewellyn: We painted it, again, to match the other trim. She’s eventually going to want to add a storm door on here. So by doing that, we’ll be able to put the storm door on. The colors should match. The entryway should pop, and we should have a happy homeowner when we’re done.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to look real good. And I have to say, the red door, it makes quite a statement.

So, while Doug and his crew start trimming out the windows and door, let’s take a break and check in with Jodi at The Home Depot.

Jodi Marks: You know, no matter what your project is around the house, there’s probably a ladder for that. Whether you’re cleaning out the gutters or getting on your roof, you’ve got an extension ladder. Or you’re just wanting to put things higher up than you can reach, you’ve got a stepstool.

What if you’ve got to work around the house, and you’re going to be working over your head, like putting in a ceiling fan or things like that? Take a look at this. This is the Werner podium ladder, and I just love this bad boy.

Look down here at the bottom. It’s got wide bracing, so that it’s very sturdy. And up here you have a large platform area for your feet, so you’re not just standing on the top rung.

So I’m going to go upstairs, and we’re going to see what’s up here that I like to talk about. See, look at this. I’ve got now four times the range when I’m working on this ladder. So I’ve got my area here that I can work. I can then turn and work here if I need to, or if I have to work over here and over here, all without moving my ladder.

And I’ve got a little storage place right here. This, of course, creates a guard. There’s also a toe guard so my foot doesn’t slip off. But I can hold my tools, and it’s got a magnet, too, so I can keep my bits there.

So this is just a great ladder all the way around.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re turning up the curb appeal of Mark and Ali Thackeray’s home in Utah. We’ve gotten a great start with an eye-catching new door that’s also a lot more energy efficient.

Mark and Ali’s daughter, Jane, is even getting into the act as the final trimwork is being completed inside.

And outside, Allen and Mark just wanted to replace that sad, old mailbox with something more secure.

Mark Thackeray: You feel like it’s…

Allen Lyle: Oh, feel like it’s got to be, I mean it’s got to be in concrete. OK, and, all right, I got the top half. Will you get the bottom half?

Mark Thackeray: Yeah!

Allen Lyle: Go ahead!

Mark Thackeray: Yeah!

Danny Lipford: OK, is that the kind of door that you imagined right there, Ali?

Ali Thackeray: I love it. It looks so good.

Danny Lipford: You talked about the concrete stain. I think you guys need to head to the store and buy what we need for that.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I can make a list right here.

Danny Lipford: OK. Spend some time in the nursery there to figure out exactly—the garden center—to see exactly what kind of plants you guys want for the containers as well as that.

And while you’re gone, I’m going to change out your classy light fixtures.

Once Mark and Allen get the old post out, there’s more digging to be done, because the new security mailbox is not only better looking, it’s also larger. So, they’ll have some concrete to mix up.

Once the concrete they’re pouring around the post dries, they can add the decorative collar and install the mailbox itself onto the bracket. This thing is both beautiful and sturdy.

Allen Lyle: All right, last chance. You sure you don’t want to put this back?

Mark Thackeray: See it’s got some character. Look at that.

Allen Lyle: It’s got character, all right.

Danny Lipford: Once the old torch lights are gone, I can install the new LED fixtures to replace them. This is a pretty easy process, just remember to turn the breaker off first.

Meanwhile, Ali, Chelsea, and their helpers have made it to The Home Depot to pick up the supplies we need and plot the color palette for the front flower bed.

Ali Thackeray: This white? What about the orange? No. OK, so, I think we should get a red, and it’ll match our new door.

Danny Lipford: With the new fixtures in place, I can wrap up the day by prepping the front porch. I’m using some paint stripper to loosen the paint stains so that I can scrub them all up. Then we’ll let it dry overnight so we’re ready for concrete stain in the morning.

We’re in great shape. You guys are getting your gloves on. Ali, if you’ll do the paint brush. Chelsea, you do the roller. I’ll take some masking tape across the front. We’ll get this done in no time.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: All right.

Allen Lyle: I’m going to tell you a great way to enhance curb appeal, add a little color to the house is by adding a flag. Unless, of course, the holder looks like this. Mark, you got a problem with this.

Mark Thackeray: I know. My Elmer’s glue didn’t stick too well.

Allen Lyle: Yeah. Well, it’s a common problem. I’ve got these plastic anchors here. They just don’t last. I’ve got some things that we picked up at the home center. We’re going to fix this.

Ruby, you going to help me with this? We’re going to have some fun with this.

Danny Lipford: So while I’m masking, and Ali is cutting around the edges, Mark and Allen are drilling out the existing holes in the brick for lead anchors, which are coated with epoxy. So when they attach the flag mount, it’s rock-solid.

Meanwhile, Chelsea makes quick work of this porch with the roller.

Allen Lyle: You have that beautiful red door now, but it’s partially obscured. So, what do you think about you and I tackling the hedge, maybe cutting it down just–maybe just in the center there. Maybe prune a few tree branches?

Mark Thackeray: I think that would be great. I think it would really open up everything.

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Allen is showing Mark the three-step pruning process.

Allen Lyle: Hand me the saw. We’re going to come out about, oh, six, eight inches. And my first cut is actually going to be from the bottom. Second cut, we’re going to go further down the line, right about here, and we’re going to cut this one all the way through. All right?

That relief cut there is in case that bark tried to peel back. It’s going to stop the peel right there. Because if it continues, that’s where you’re going to get disease entering the tree. Now third one, right where the flare is. See where it flares out to the branch?

Mark Thackeray: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: You come to the flare and just straight down. There we go.

Mark Thackeray: So I did have a question, too. So, when is the best time of year to be pruning trees like this?

Allen Lyle: Any tree, really…

Mark Thackeray: OK.

Allen Lyle: …best time is late fall, even in the dead of winter.

Danny Lipford: Allen has handed over the tree climbing duties to Mark, while he gives that fir hedge a haircut.

At last, we can actually see his home from the street. Now it’s time to tackle the makeover of that front flower bed, and it’s all hands on deck. But make no mistake, Ali’s in charge of this project.

Ali Thackeray: So, Mark, if you want to—after you’re done unloading that, maybe you could go get the rest of the flower pots that we couldn’t figure out what to do with up on the porch here. Yeah, bring these, maybe bring these up here.

Mark Thackeray: OK.

Ali Thackeray: And then, let’s just start—maybe let’s get a rake and we can rake out all the leaves. And let’s put—let’s try to move this. We can keep that. Let’s move it over here. OK, so we’ll start a hole here. We’re going to contain those there.

We’ll move this save. Let’s rake out all the leaves. But we’ll keep this, just turn it the other way, since it looks so much better on the other side.

Danny Lipford: She had us cleaning and weeding, planting and transplanting. I think all Ali needed was a little motivation and a few strong backs.

Ali Thackeray: It’s like going to look like plants are supposed to be there on purpose instead of falling from the sky.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Reviving a weathered wood entry door isn’t a difficult process, but it is time consuming. It’s made easier if you remove it from its hinges and take off all of the hardware.

Again, by sanding away all the loose or rough finish with 100-grit sandpaper. In most cases, this will mean sanding all the way down to the bare wood so the new finish is consistent.

Then use a finer-grit paper, like 150 or 220, to sand out the grain of the wood before you apply a fresh coat of stain. You’ll want to match the old color unless you have removed every trace of it.

Once the stain dries, apply two to three coats of spar varnish to the surface, using a very fine sandpaper or steel wool to continue smoothing the surface between coats. With a little patience and elbow grease, your door can look like new.

Mark and Ali Thackeray have a beautiful family and they have a beautiful home, but it didn’t represent them very well. This is a warm and welcoming family, but the entry to their home was anything but. It was dark and a little gloomy. That is, of course, if you could even see it. And that was a bit of a challenge from the street.

But with the addition of new windows, trim, and a stylish new door in breathtaking red, this entry comes alive with color and warmth just like the people who live inside.

The porch floor is neat and clean. And Ali’s flower bed makeover and the new container plants make you excited about the visit as you near the house.

And even if you never get closer than the street, you get the feeling this is a family worth getting to know.

We’ve had a lot of fun here. I tell you what, we’ve had a tremendous week here in Utah visiting with the Thackeray family in helping them improve the curb appeal of their home.

I hope we’ve been able to share some ideas that can help you around your home. And of course, there’s more information on our website at TodaysHomeowner.com.

I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner.

Scott Gardner: Looks like that shot just got ruined by a boom operator. And who’s the boom operator? Oh, yeah.

All: Who I stand for? What do I stand for?

Danny Lipford: I don’t know the song.

All: I don’t know.



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