Last minute summer DYI tips to improve your curb appeal
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I know summer is coming to a close and like many of us you probably still have a few things on your summer list of improvements to do. I’m really not trying to add to your list and if I do I'm sorry!
We recently purchased a slightly older home that requires a little TLC… and by that I mean it’s super out dated. With most of our money going towards the down payment and furnishings, to say our savings account was “a bit dry” is an understatement.
The front door was the classic boring white, but what really made the front entry even less appealing was the rusted railing and concrete walkway, which was coming apart in small chunks and being tracked back into the house. I did some thinking and discovered a simple solution that turned out pretty great for the cost.
(Nasty front )
What you’ll need:
1. Cheap paint brush (Your local dollar store)
2. Paint trays (dollar store)
3. Concrete purging
4. Bonding agent
5. Trowel X2
6. Top coat finishing options (I used Rust-Oleum Stoneffects coating)
7. BBQ brush
9. Metal paint
11. Rubber gloves
1. First off I sanded the heck out of the rusty railing until I got to the metal. Then I completely repainted the metal railing black. Make sure you prep the area before painting and take your time; you want a good thick coat all over it. The metal paint can be somewhat hard to work with because it’s runny but also thick, so wear gloves and eye protection.
2. Once you have repainted the railing you are ready to prep the steps. Your steps might not even need this step if your concrete is in good shape, but even if it is, it’s not a bad idea to do this anyway. Grab your BBQ brush and scraper and thoroughly go over the concrete, brushing in multiple directions and scraping off big chunks as much as you can. Once you feel it’s good sweep up and clean the area well.
3. Now you need to fill the holes or coat the steps with some concrete patch or parging. Talk to your local Home Depot expert about what you can use and how to mix it right; you may even have to add a bonding agent. Now all you have to do is get a bit dirty: fill the holes or apply an even, thick coat over the area and minimize bumps and anything that would dry to make the area not smooth.
4. Now that the concrete is dry, you can start your finish. I used Rust-Oleum’s Stoneffects, which comes in a 3-part system. There are other products, like epoxy finishes out there, but I liked the looks of Stoneffects. Start by liberally applying the first and second coat of bonding paint evenly over the area you wish to coat and wait for it to dry. Make sure to check the drying time depending on the weather conditions.
5. Now apply your first coat of finishing. Stoneffects has to be applied with a trowel on the flat surfaces, and with your hands on the edges and curved areas (like the steps), so take your time while applying it and make sure to keep your applications light and even; you don't want to leave lines as you apply more so keep a light hand. I would suggest trying one spot first and focusing on leaving a smooth area.
Once you have perfected that and feel confident in your overall personal awesomeness, start on the rest. I started at the door and worked my way backwards. Don't worry if it does not look perfect.
Tips: wetting a brush and lightly going over lines when it’s still wet can smooth imperfections, and using a light back and forth vibrating motion with your trowel also helps. *MAKE SURE* you inspect the area you applied a coat to from all angles before moving on to another area as you won’t have long to fix any imperfections.
Issues: with Stoneffects you have to basically work with the whole area all together at once. What I mean is that other products may need to be applied flat surface first and vertical areas after (walkway and steps), but with Stoneffects don’t! It’s near impossible to blend these areas to seem as one - you’ll always be left with some sort of line. I used my hands and rubbed the “edges” (the curves of the steps) to apply the coating. The trowel is not good for this and tends to remove parts. To apply the coating to the edges wet your gloves and rub the coating on that way.
6. Now apply a second finishing coat and make sure to cover anything that has dried a little thinner. Then apply a last coat and make sure you put it on thicker and clean and apply more to the edges.
7. Before applying the clear coat look for any bumps or little spots and use your scrapper or a sanding block to remove them. Once removed you can apply a dab of the finishing coat and rub it in to the area and use water to smooth it. If you don't when it dries it will stand out and somewhat be lifted. Try to rub it in to the already dried area around it in a circular motion.
8. Now apply your protection coat. You need to apply at least 3 coats but I applied 5. Don't worry: it goes on blue but dries clear. Apply it thick and just roll with a roller and let dry. Check instructions for weather conditions before applying another coat.
9. I painted the door a dark brown and we built a simple flower box out of pressure-treated wood.
General tips: always check and clean the area before doing work or applying coats. When working outside leaves and dust can blow on the surface you’re working with, so always take a few minutes to clean the area before starting.
Once done you will get this look:
Total cost (including the flower bed, soil, plants, door paint & steps): $447.15 Total time 3-5 days
As you can see, this has made a huge difference and drastically improved the look of our front entry. A little bit of work sure goes a long way in improving your curb appeal. Enjoy the rest of your summer!