Find out how we improved the look of the front of this house by:

  • Cleaning the brick and trim with a pressure washer.
  • Sanding and painting the wrought iron railings.
  • Painting the entry door bright yellow.
  • Landscaping the front yard.
  • Adding a stepping stone walk.

Watch the video above to find out more.


Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re generating some curb appeal on a budget. With a little hard work and a little bit of cash, we’re making a big difference in this little house. You’ll have to stick around to see it.

Mary Lee Montgomery: You better get to work.

Danny Lipford: This home belongs to Mary Lee Montgomery. She’s been here for 13 years, and she loves the place. But from the street, it isn’t looking so loved. So our challenge this week is to give it a little budget curb appeal. What were some of the things that, uh, you’ve thought about over the years?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, um, just sprucing things up, making things brighter.

Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Um, it’s all just gotten kind of dull.

Danny Lipford: Well, it’s hard to keep it clean, I would imagine, with all of these oak trees hanging over. That’s an easy fix, to pressure wash everything out front here. That’ll make a difference and, what about some of the landscaping here? You know, this isn’t unusual for border grass or monkey grass just to go crazy.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: What about taking a good bit of that up? You know, leaving a nice, uniform border along the edge. And then maybe, I don’t know, using the rest of that somewhere else.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, that’d be perfect. That’d be great.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: A little paint here wouldn’t hurt.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah, I guess so.

Danny Lipford: You think going back with a gloss black?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah, I think that’d look really nice.

Danny Lipford: What about the front door? You know, it’s always the statement of a house, and, of course, a black door like that’s pretty popular. Uh, what do you think on that?

Mary Lee Montgomery: I really want to brighten that up.

Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Every year I put a Christmas wreath on there, and you can never see it.

Danny Lipford: Oh, it disappears.

Mary Lee Montgomery: It just fades to black, literally. So, I was thinking a nice, bright, happy color.

Danny Lipford: All right. Cool. And of course we can trim, you know, all of that. That’s going to make a big difference, right there. I wondered, um, when I walked up to the house, I wondered, do you have many people coming to the front door?

Mary Lee Montgomery: No. Not really.

Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Um, it’s just not… Inviting.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Yeah.

Mary Lee Montgomery: You know, so…

Danny Lipford: There’s several different ways to go, like stepping stones.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: You know, will define it. It’s not a very long area. So maybe we can look at that. But another thing I wondered about is, of course, you’ve got these beautiful oak trees out here. And in terms of being able to do something with this oak tree, it seems like it would look pretty neat. I’m not a landscaper or anything, but to remove all of this and then get a nice, uniform border around it.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Perfect.

Danny Lipford: Is it sounding pretty good?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: And I know you’re trying to work this out… You mentioned $400 or $500.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: To try to do it. To tell you the truth, I know we’ll have to total it up, but a lot of the things we’re talking about here are things that really don’t cost a lot of money. It’s very little materials. A little sweat equity here.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Mmm. Yeah.

Danny Lipford: So, we’ll have a little bit of that to do. But I think, in a couple days, we can have all of it done. If the weather will leave us alone. And I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll call Allen at the office, see if he can get the pressure washer and a couple things and get on out here, and we’ll go to work on it.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Excellent.

Danny Lipford: Okay. All right. Let me see if I can catch him. Allen. So while Allen is rounding up some tools, Mary Lee and I start with some of the small stuff before we begin to thin out and divide this border grass that’s gone crazy. It doesn’t matter how much you cut back, it’s going to end up growing back really soon.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Really?

Danny Lipford: Yes, it grows, and grows, and grows.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, good.

Danny Lipford: Cause you can’t really get the roots out of there, hardly.

Mary Lee Montgomery: This is kind of hurting my heart, seeing you chop at it.

Danny Lipford: Don’t worry about that. You’ll never miss it.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay.

Danny Lipford: There really is nothing to worry about here because this stuff is hearty and it’ll grow back quickly. Hey, there’s Allen right here. Let me introduce you to him.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, okay. All right.

Danny Lipford: Glad you could make it. Hey. Allen, I want you to meet Mary Lee.

Allen Lyle: Hey, Mary Lee. Love your house.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Hey. Oh, thank you.

Danny Lipford: Going to be perfect. A little bit of clean-up here and there.

Allen Lyle: Well, I got everything you said. Ah, I understand you’re sticking me with the pressure washer.

Danny Lipford: You’d be good for the pressure washer. We have some other things we need to do.

Allen Lyle: I understand. So, I got just the smaller pressure washer.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s perfect. Yeah. What is that? Like 1200?

Allen Lyle: About 1200 PSI.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s plenty. That’s plenty.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Danny Lipford: All right. We can get started on this thing.

Allen Lyle: Sounds good.

Danny Lipford: When you’re cleaning a house, you want to start at the top and work down like Allen is doing here.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Look at that.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, Mary Lee and I are working from the ground up. Now, see, that would make… I’ve seen something like that where they nail it on the wall.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: Here, let me see what it would look like.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay.

Danny Lipford: There you go. Yeah. Better than shutters.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Uh-huh.

Allen Lyle: Gee whiz, this smells bad.

Danny Lipford: Once Allen is past the awning, he fires up the pressure washer to really speed up this cleaning process. Alright. How’s that working out?

Allen Lyle: Oh, I guess it’s just…

Danny Lipford: Man, oh, man, it’s cutting well in the brick.

Allen Lyle: Oh, yeah. It’s real good on the brick. And even here, you can see where I just stopped right here. I’m hitting a real snag with this canvas awning. I’ve scrubbed it twice. Uh, I think it’s going to take a third scrubbing.

Danny Lipford: What? It’s just kind of, like, soaked in?

Allen Lyle: Well, it’s a canvas. It’s not vinyl, it’s canvas. The very edge you can see there’s a little bit of vinyl coating on it.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I see.

Allen Lyle: But this is canvas. And there’s several years of that lichen growing on it. Particularly out of this big old oak tree…

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Yeah. It’s going to be a tough one. Well, it looks good, though, man. You almost got it.

Allen Lyle: Almost got most of it.

Danny Lipford: Take you what? About an hour and a half to do the whole front?

Allen Lyle: Oh, yeah. With the awning, yeah.

Danny Lipford: That’s perfect.

Allen Lyle: About an hour and a half.

Danny Lipford: Well, I thought I was giving you the hard job. Got to get digging.

Allen Lyle: Get that shovel going. Let me know if you find my glasses.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, okay.

Allen Lyle: They’re somewhere.

Danny Lipford: Unfortunately for Allen, with progress there’s always a few casualties. Hey, Allen.

Allen Lyle: Hey.

Danny Lipford: Uh, found them. Found your glasses.

Allen Lyle: Great.

Danny Lipford: No problem. You don’t owe me anything.

Allen Lyle: Thanks a lot. These are my favorite… These are the ones I bragged about. Thanks a lot. Gah.

Danny Lipford: While we keep things moving around here, Joe has a simple solution that may help you if you’re sprucing up things around your place.

Joe Truini: Painting neatly, especially around window panes, requires more patience than I have. And so I used to painstakingly mask off the glass with strips of tape every time I’d paint it. And you can imagine, you have a window this size and you’re doing two or three windows, a lot of time—you spend way more time masking the glass than actually painting the window.

So, I finally decided to forgo masking all together, and I would just paint it. If the paint got on the glass, it got on the glass. I wasn’t going to worry about it. What I’d learned is that it wound up being a much faster way to paint in the end. So, what I did here—here’s a couple I just started. You can see the paint kind of got splashed out onto the glass a little bit. I didn’t even worry about it.

I’m just going to take a knife—a 6-inch wide putty knife—and a window scraper. This is just, you can get this at any hardware store, and put in a nice straight blade razor. I’m just going to scrape the paint right off the glass. There, you see after just a few seconds how nice and clean that comes out.

Using this trick, you don’t have to worry about being such a sloppy painter, because in the end you save time and get a much neater job.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re helping Mary Lee Montgomery create some curb appeal on a budget. Allen’s removing years of dirt and mildew, while Mary Lee and I clean up the landscape. All right, I think that will pretty well get us to the point where we’re ready for that pine straw. While our shovels are warmed up, let’s go ahead and tackle that front bed out there around those oak trees.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay.

Danny Lipford: There you go.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, thank you, sir. Oh, man, Allen, that is looking terrific!

Allen Lyle: Oh, thanks.

Danny Lipford: So, you’re still okay with getting rid of the elephant ears here, huh?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, yeah!

Danny Lipford: Okay.

Mary Lee Montgomery: It’s just, kind of, getting out of control.

Danny Lipford: All right. Well, that’s easy to get rid of those. Now, as far as the bed, the circle bed here, circle bed here, you still good with that?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Well, I actually was thinking that maybe we could do the circle around the big oak, and just bring it around the pine and make this a bed, or put pine straw in here. And later on, I can plant some flowers, when, uh…

Danny Lipford: Getting fancy, huh?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah, oh, yeah!

Danny Lipford: And heck, it’s just about centered on the house. I think it’s a great idea. Yeah.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, good!

Danny Lipford: Let’s attack these things here, then. All right. I think we can cut those just off with…

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, heavens.

Danny Lipford: So, after some chopping, and more digging, and more raking, we’re ready to lay out the planting bed. If I can make that happen here. Here, I’m working around some obstacles, like this root, but otherwise this kind of bed can be as free flowing as you want it to be. Let it float right back. There.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Perfect. I think that’s going to be really nice. I think that’s a great idea.

Danny Lipford: It’s a really good idea. Acting like a real landscaper. This is really weird. Now we can dig a small trench along the line to transplant our border grass. Is that working out? Yeah, it’s perfect.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, Allen has finished washing the wrought iron and moving on to prepping it for paint. But we still have some planting to do. Tell you what, it is pretty cool, us being able

to reuse all this stuff.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, I love that concept.

Danny Lipford: I think what we should do is take some of this and kind of allocate it, since this is the only place we’re using it. We just, kind of, drop it maybe about a foot apart. All right, I think we’re in pretty good shape here. Some of these, you may want to, kind of, elongate just a little.

Allen Lyle: Are you sorry yet that you stuck me with the power washing? Looks like y’all got the short end of the stick here.

Danny Lipford: This is creative. I appreciate you coming over to help out.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: Yeah. I got the wrought iron finished, so…

Danny Lipford: Yeah, it looks great. Or, it looks bad right now.

Allen Lyle: It’s ready for paint.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, with all that white color you threw there, but, uh, you’ll be able to get that painted tomorrow. What we wanted to try before we wrap up today is if we can get all of this in here, Mary Lee can water it tonight, and, we’re on our way.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yahoo! This is a good day.

Allen Lyle: Isn’t that a song?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, don’t, please don’t start singing.

Danny Lipford: While we wrap up this chore and day one of our budget curb appeal makeover, why don’t you check out Jodi’s Best New Product segment for this week?

Jodi Marks: You know painting the outside of your house, especially if you have to get up on a ladder, is a pretty daunting task. But there are some things that you can do to make your project go a lot faster, especially if you’ve got to remove the old peeling or cracked paint. So you might want to check out one of these.

Now, this is Wagner’s PaintEater, and this is a perfect way to remove the cracked or the peeling paint that you need to get off the side of the house before you prime and paint it and make it look all nice again. The one thing that I like the best about this—check out this wheel, it is sturdy and it is going to take that paint down. If you do need to remove the paint, you can use the side. If you need to feather the surface, this is perfect for that application.

You know, so many times though we can attach these wheels to, say like, our power drills, but those are very wobbly and hard to control, especially if you’re, say, 10 feet or more off the ground on your ladder. But look at this, with this feature right here, you just press in these buttons, and this handle pops right out, and you’re going to get more control when you do use the sander.

So it’s effective, it’s efficient, and best of all, when you’re up on that ladder, it’s safe.

Danny Lipford: Day two of our budget curb appeal makeover with homeowner Mary Lee Montgomery has her choosing a brand new color for her front door at the local Home Depot.

Mary Lee Montgomery: I just want a little pop of color. Hmm, I like this a lot.

Shea Pettaway: The yellow gold?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Mmm-hmm. That’s really bright. Oh, look at that.

Shea Pettaway: Ain’t that pretty?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Shea Pettaway: You picked out a nice color.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, I think that’s going to be great.

Shea Pettaway: Doesn’t it look nice?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Uh-huh. Look at that.

Danny Lipford: She’s also picking out pavers for that new walkway…

Mary Lee Montgomery: Everything needs lots of sun, and I have tons of shade.

Danny Lipford: And plants to round out the landscaping. And we’re ready to get back to work. Did you find everything?

Mary Lee Montgomery: I did, I did. We got some beautiful mums for the front porch…

Danny Lipford: Now, those look great.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Aren’t they pretty?

Danny Lipford: So we have everything we need to complete everything today?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yup!

Danny Lipford: Just a little bit of work.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yes.

Danny Lipford: Well, do you need any help unloading things?

Mary Lee Montgomery: No, I can get it.

Danny Lipford: All right, great. I’m going to start on the front door.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Excellent.

Danny Lipford: Hey, if you’re about finished there, could you help me get this door up here?

Allen Lyle: Yeah, no problem.

Danny Lipford: The easiest way to get a good finish on a door is to remove it so that you can paint it horizontally. Good. Perfect. And if you want it to last, it’s crucial to prep it thoroughly before you apply the new paint.

Mary Lee Montgomery: I hope you like it.

Danny Lipford: Ooh.

Mary Lee Montgomery: It’s yellow, hmm?

Danny Lipford: Hmm, what do you think, Allen, you ready for mustard on your hotdog?

Allen Lyle: That is yellow!

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah, isn’t it?

Allen Lyle: I like it, though. I like it. Actually, I think that color’s going to complement the house very well.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Now, this looks golder to me than that.

Danny Lipford: Well, that one coat and that black shining through is going to influence that some.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: It’s pretty close. I think once you get that second coat it’s going to be closer to that. While we let him do that, I’ve got this plant stand over here I thought you might want to put a coat on.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay.

Allen Lyle: What’s special about this?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Well, you know, they’re not beautiful or anything, but my mother had these on our front porch for years and years, and so they have a lot of sentimental value for me.

Allen Lyle: Well, I think it’s going to look really good. I figured you’d want the same gloss black that’s on your handrail.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Exactly.

Allen Lyle: I’ll let you do the honors.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh! Thanks.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Danny Lipford: After she finishes up on the plant stand, Mary Lee takes over from me on the door painting. And while that’s drying, we get back to landscaping. All right. You’re ready to do the planting, huh?

Mary Lee Montgomery: I think I am.

Danny Lipford: Well, I’ve got this, I think, leveled up enough. I’ll get a little more of these pieces of grass and stuff out…

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay.

Danny Lipford: and you just place them where you want them, I’ll help you plant them.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, okay.

Danny Lipford: So you’re on your own there.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Uh-oh! All right.

Danny Lipford: Hey, Allen’s doing a pretty good job over there. Look at the handrails.

Mary Lee Montgomery: I know!

Danny Lipford: He’ll do anything to get out of planting things, I’ll tell you. Mary Lee has a good idea of what she wants this bed to look like, so all I have to do is move a few plants and dig some holes. Is that right? You want that close together there?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Um… Well, we can respace them, I guess, if we need to.

Danny Lipford: Okay.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Come on, little baby.

Danny Lipford: Since so much of landscaping is about the owner’s personality, this part of the project is all about Mary Lee. If I could interrupt you for just a minute, I need to get an executive decision over here.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, all right!

Danny Lipford: We’re about to start placing the stones, we got about 12 of them to go there, matter of fact.

Allen Lyle: Got one here.

Danny Lipford: There’s one there. I’m just assuming. So just put it in there somewhere, but the key is, do you want it to turn straight, or do you want it to arch a little bit…

Mary Lee Montgomery: I’d like a little bit of an arch. You think it should arch in or arch out?

Danny Lipford: Normally it would arch out.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Okay. About here, or a little closer?

Danny Lipford: Yeah, probably…

Mary Lee Montgomery: Here.

Danny Lipford: That probably looks pretty good.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. That looks great. Okay. Just put the prettiest side on the top.

Danny Lipford: Okey-doke.

Mary Lee Montgomery: You can tell what pretty is, can’t you, Allen?

Allen Lyle: Anything that’s not Danny is pretty. That’s my gauge.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. And I’ll tell you, if you and I can keep talking a few more minutes, he’ll have all those things unloaded, so…

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: So let’s talk about something. Nice plants!

Mary Lee Montgomery: You better get to work.

Allen Lyle: Let me demonstrate. Here, look. Look here. Pretty, not, pretty, not.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mary Lee Montgomery: All right, you two.

Danny Lipford: The best way to do this is just lay out the stones on top of the grass and then dig each one of them in place. And I’ll go ahead and get in the middle of this thing here. Well, when you put out pine straw, it’s kind of like the job is nearing its end, and it’s strange that something like pine straw can make a flower bed look so good.

Another thing that’s going to make this house look great is when we get the door installed. But as you can see, we have it here, we’ve already put two coats of paint on it, we need a little drying time, we’re trying to speed that up with the fan. But right now, think I’ll try to help Allen with the rest of the pine straw. Border grass looking good over there!

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, thanks.

Danny Lipford: When you get this close to completing a project, the energy really starts to pick back up, even though it’s been two long days. Finally, the door’s ready for the hardware, so we can put the last piece of this puzzle in place.

Danny Lipford: Well, she said she wanted a bold statement, and I think she got it.

Allen Lyle: She did, and I got to say, I like it!

Danny Lipford: It’s growing on me.

Allen Lyle: Goes with the house.

Danny Lipford: Jeremy asks, “What can I do to seal the cracks in my asphalt driveway?”

The first step in repairing those cracks is to remove any debris or vegetation that you may have already in the crack. Get that out of the way, take a screwdriver and groove out the crack a little bit, and then blast that debris away using a leaf blower. It works great.

Then break out a good quality crack filler, and fill in every crack you can find, and you may have to put a couple coats on in order to completely surface all of the cracks out. Now, with the larger potholes you’ll want to dig it out and put some crushed gravel in, pack it out real well, then use the asphalt patch to surface out and get it nice and even with the top surface of your asphalt driveway.

Then, for the icing on the cake, after everything’s dried, put on a complete coat of asphalt sealer, two coats if you want it to last a long time.

Danny Lipford: Our goal this week was to give Mary Lee Montgomery’s house some much-needed curb appeal, and do it on a tiny budget. With a few simple chores, we’ve made a big difference. Every surface on the front of the house has been thoroughly cleaned, the handrails have been completely repainted, and the new front door adds tons of color.

The landscaping around the porch is much cleaner, so it shows off the house rather than hiding it. And the pathway we added creates a warm welcome for Mary Lee’s guests.

Boy, I love all that color. This adds so much, having these mums right here.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Isn’t it beautiful? My mother would be so proud of these little planters.

Danny Lipford: Now, I know you’re trying to stay under $500 as far as the overall cost. You went to the home center this morning. How did it come out for you?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Well, I have the receipt right here…

Danny Lipford: Okay.

Mary Lee Montgomery: …and it came to a grand total of… Rounding up, $315.

Danny Lipford: Oh, is that right?

Mary Lee Montgomery: Yeah!

Allen Lyle: All right!

Danny Lipford: You got a little extra money, then, to spend on something.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Absolutely, yeah. Y’all have just so inspired me.

Allen Lyle: Good. Now, I know earlier you mentioned you wanted the front more inviting. You’ve got your pavers now that lead up to this grand color. But just to help out, we’ve got one other thing that we wanted to give to you.

Mary Lee Montgomery: That’s right. What is that?

Allen Lyle: Look at that.

Mary Lee Montgomery: Oh, look at that! We definitely want it more welcoming. Y’all are so sweet!

Allen Lyle: How do you like that?

Mary Lee Montgomery: That’s fabulous! That is just the perfect touch. Yeah. I love it. I really, really appreciate it.

Danny Lipford: Oh, our pleasure. It’s been great working with you, and you can see, you can take just a little bit of money and go a long, long way with a couple days of fairly enjoyable but hard work, and it made a big difference on the front of this house.

Hey, I’m Danny Lipford, Allen Lyle, we’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner. Boy, this guy sure gets dirty when he works, doesn’t he?

Allen Lyle: Man! What can I say? I get into my work. I get into it.

Danny Lipford: I’m thinking about a hot dog, for some reason.

Mary Lee Montgomery: That’s what people will say when they drive up. “Hot dog!”

Further Information

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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