Get a load of this transformation! See Millie’s Remodel and her exterior front reveal. Plus, I’m sharing tips to help you keep your home protected from termites when landscaping.

Millie’s Remodel Update: Exterior Front Reveal

This update of the Millie’s Remodel project is sponsored by Corteva, the makers of Sentricon. I’m grateful to have Sentricon on board as a Millie’s Remodel sponsor!

Although I still have a lot to catch you up on inside the Millie’s Remodel house, the exterior siding, brick, and front door has been painted. I chose a pretty bright blue for the front door. It’s Loyal Blue from Sherwin Williams.

I built the shutters using leftover tongue and groove planks from the porch overhangs. I promise to share a tutorial for you in the near future.

And I added a modern address plaque beside the door. Also, a DIY I’ll share a tutorial for later.

Although the shutters have been hung and the house numbers look amazing, I feel like something is missing. The house feels a bit naked from the waist down if you catch my drift. It needs some landscaping!

Unfortunately, I’m a little over budget on all the renovations at Millie’s Remodel, so I need to save some money on the landscaping. I decided to plant a few bushes out front and call it done.

Budget Landscaping for a Mid-Century Modern House:

With my budget being under $200, I was able to put in some foundation plantings and one feature plant to give Millie a more finished look outside.

I planted three Fatsio Japonica bushes (the wider bushes with bigger leaves).

Between the Japonicas, I planted two Golden Ticket privet bushes. They should fill in a little over time, but for now, they certainly help ground the house.

For the feature item, I chose a pretty yellow Amber Gold arborvitae for the small bed between the front door and the driveway. I like the color and the tall skinny look of this tree. When full-grown it may be up to 5′ wide and 10′ tall. But, hopefully, it won’t reach full width and can stay a little narrower. I’ll have to keep an eye on it and trim the sides if it starts to get too big.

Luckily, I had a pile of wood chips in the backyard where I had to take out a large rotted tree that was hanging over the house. I was able to use the chips as fresh mulch around the plantings.

Although it’s hard to tell, in the above photo, I kept a barrier of bare earth (and no wood chips) against the foundation of the house. Why? Let me take a moment to talk about how to landscape while keeping your house protected from termites.

Landscaping While Keeping Your Home Termite Free:

I know we live in an area that is overpopulated with termites, so I’m very careful about protecting my homes from conditions that could lead to a termite infestation. Most plants need moisture to stay alive, but unfortunately, termites love wet mushy wood because it’s easier to chew and more tempting! For that reason, it’s important to pay attention to moisture around your home’s foundation. All the tips below will help you reduce the likelihood that termites will find your home tasty.

  • When spreading mulch around plantings, keep it away from the house. Leave at least a one-foot perimeter along the foundation clear of mulch and other organic matter
  • Plant bushes so as to maintain a three-foot clearance from your home (be sure to look at the mature height and width information on new plantings)
  • Never pile firewood, lumber, mulch, soil, or other “termite-friendly” matter against your house
  • Don’t use wood timbers or lumber to create garden beds against your house
  • Install gutters and use downspouts to move water away from the foundation
  • Always make sure your land is graded with a slope away from your house
  • Keep gutters clear of debris to prevent them from overflowing.
  • Contract with a good termite treatment company (you can read how I chose Sentricon in this post.)
  • Keep up with scheduled inspections with your termite company.

My local termite company that installed the Sentricon system came back two weeks ago to check on the system to see if there was any termite activity and inspect the bait stations to see if they needed to be replaced. My technician was able to find most of the bait stations from the map he created during installation.

But, if the stations were buried, he could use the detector to find them.

You can learn more about the Sentricon system and how it’s installed by watching my previous video:

We saw some minor evidence that they had found the stations. This is good because it means they are feeding off the bait stations and taking it back to the colony.

Unfortunately, the memory card in my camera was corrupt, or I’d show you the bait station after almost a year. Luckily, Sarah has an excellent photo of her Sentricon bait station after being in the ground for almost a year.

A Look Back at Millie’s Front Exterior Transformation:

Together, I think the landscaping (although only 6 plants and some mulch) and painting made a big difference. We should look back to when I first bought the house. Remember how she looked? The greenery you see was all weeds!

Then, after painting, she looks great, but still needs some architectural pizzazz.

Finally, the shutters and painted front door made a big difference, but she was a tad naked around her base.

Now she has some beautiful modern greenery out front.

Did I do okay on my minimal budget?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Corteva, the makers of Sentricon. I was provided complimentary termite protection for a year and was compensated for my time and efforts to promote Sentricon. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? You are not alone. Many factors can contribute to this problem. Let’s learn how fixing common door problems can be easy.

Fixing common door problems pin this image

Fixing Common Door Problems

Do you have a door that sticks or doesn’t close properly? Or maybe your door rubs, squeaks, or is drafty. Regardless of the problem, I’m going to show you how to fix your most common door problems! But first, a big thank you to Schlage, the 100-year-old leading door hardware company, for sponsoring this article.

If you have common door problems, you are not alone. Many factors can contribute to them: house movement, humidity, dry air, improper installation, slamming doors, or kids swinging on them (true story). Without being able to control many of these factors, it’s important to know how to fix your door problems – as your door is often a main focal point of the room and/or entryway.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Door Not Latching:

A door that doesn’t latch properly is usually a simple fix. Lean down until you are at eye-level with your doorknob. Look at the gap between the door and the door frame. Is the latch centered on the strike plate?

latch too low on strike plate

If not, that’s why your door doesn’t latch. Here’s how to fix it. Determine the center of the latch. Remove the strike plate and move it to center on the latch.  Mark the new location of the strike plate. Chisel the door frame as needed.

chisel strike plate area out

Reattach the strike plate and test the door. You can see in the photo below the latch is now centered with the strike plate and the latch can now slide into the strike plate properly.

Latch and strike plate lined up

(Like the knob above? It’s a Schlage Plymouth in Bright Brass, but comes in a variety of finishes.)

Door Not Closing Tight Against Stop:

If your door rattles loose in the frame and doesn’t close properly against the stop, it can be as simple as moving the strike plate closer to the stop.

Important: If this problem happens on a door between the garage and the house, it could be a potential safety issue! The door between the garage and the house must protect the residents from carbon monoxide gases potentially leaking in from a car’s exhaust. With this in mind, it’s important to fix this problem immediately!

Luckily, fixing a door that doesn’t close tightly is a simple one to remedy. But, there are two solutions depending on your type of strike plate. (Is your strike plate adjustable or non-adjustable?)

door won't shut tight vs. door closes against stop

If You Have an Adjustable Strike Plate:

Look closely, does your door strike plate have a small screw holding a sliding tab to the strike plate? If this looks like your strike plate, the solution is simple.

common door problems strike plate

Loosen this screw and adjust the tab closer to the door stop.

door problems adjust latch

Tighten the screw and try closing your door again. Continue to adjust the tab until your door shuts properly and stays closed.

If You Have a Non-Adjustable Strike Plate:

Non-adjustable strike plates don’t have an adjustable tab, but your fix is still easy. Remove the strike plate and reposition it closer to the stop.

moved strike plate

Sticking Doors or Doors that Won’t Close

Look at the space around the door. Is there a gap at the top or bottom? Normally, the door will stick at the top corner opposite of the hinges because over time the weight of the door will pull away from top hinges.

To fix a door that sticks or rubs in the frame, you can try one of these fixes:

  • Tighten screws
  • Add longer screws
  • Add a shim behind a lower hinge

Let’s take a look at this french door. The door rubs at the top when trying to close it.

french doors rubbing at top

Open the door and look at the hinges. Do any of them need to be tightened? Well look at that! This door is missing a screw.

missing screw in hinge

Try to tighten the screws. If they just spin, the wood has been stripped. You can either add longer screws or fill in the holes with toothpicks.

Replace with Longer Screws

Remove the hinge screws and use longer screws that drive through the door jamb and into the framing.

long and short screw in hand

How to Fix Stripped Screw Holes:

Remove the screws from one hinge at a time. Squeeze some wood glue onto several toothpicks. Pack the hole with toothpicks.

insert toothpicks into stripped screw holes

Let the glue dry. Cut off the excess toothpick with a utility knife (or use a chisel if you don’t have your knife with you.)

chisel off extra toothpick

Drive screws back into the hinges.

drive longer screws into door hinge

Better yet, replace the screws with longer ones that will grip into the framing behind the door jamb.

Hopefully this will fix your door. You can see below the door shuts and the spacing is even between the french doors.

Is Your Door Out of Alignment?

Door still rubbing? Occasionally a door will get out of alignment. To fix this, first, look at the door and determine where the gaps are bigger.

For the door above, try simply loosening the screws from the top hinge 1/4 turn or more. If this doesn’t work, try tightening the screws into the hinges at the bottom. If it’s still not fixed, you’ll need to try shimming the door hinge.

Shimming Door Hinges:

Sometimes a door hinge needs to be shimmed to adjust the door in the frame. If the spacing is tight behind one hinge, you can adjust it slightly to correct uneven spacing around the door.

common door problem fixes

The door above still shows a tight spot near the top right hinge. To shim it slightly, add a piece of chipboard (cereal box cardboard) behind the hinge.

door problems shim hinges

If you need a thicker shim, you can use the end of a wood shim.

add shim behind hinge

Replace the screws in the hinge and test your door. Is it still rubbing?

replace door hinge screws

Recessing a Hinge:

Occasionally, you might need to set a hinge deeper into the door or the frame. You can use a chisel to remove a small amount of material from the jamb or the door. If you don’t have a chisel or are worried about taking out too much, use the small sanding bit on a Dremel.

dremel door hinges

Door Rubbing on Top:

Have a door that swells when the temperature or humidity changes? To fix a door that rubs along the top in different seasons, you’ll want to sand or plane the top. This doesn’t involve buying a ticket or boarding an airplane. Planing is removing material from the edge of wood. You can try using sandpaper with a coarse grit to sand it down, but if that doesn’t work, reach for a hand planer.

plane top of door

As you run the planer across the top of the door it literally shaves off some of the wood. Simple design, but very effective.

Door Scraping on the Floor:

door scraping floor

A door that rubs on the floor or carpet is not only annoying, but it can scratch your floors. Time to fix this problem!

Get a helper to assist with removing the door. Close the door completely.

Position a scraper or flat pry bar just under the hinge pin head. Gently tap the end of the pry bar with a hammer to raise the hinge pin. Remove the hinge pin from the top and bottom hinges first.

remove hinge pin

Remove the middle hinge pin last but have your assistant nearby to hold the door in the frame. As the assistant opens the door, be ready to lift it off the hinges.

Lay the door on sawhorses. Tape the button of the door with painter’s tape to protect from chipping.

cut off bottom of door

Use a circular saw, track saw, or power planer to remove a portion of the bottom of the door.

Plane doors from the edge to center

Replace the door and check to see if it still rubs.

Exterior Door is Hard to Open:

If your exterior door is hard to open, it might be from a loosened threshold piece. You can try to tighten the threshold screws or replace the threshold and sweep at the same time.

driving screws into door threshold

Also check to see if the door sweep has lowered. Unscrew the sweep and raise it on the door. Tighten the screws.

raise door sweep

Door Latch Sticks in the Door

If the latch is sticking in the door, you can try one of three fixes:

  • Loosen the screws on the doorknob. (Tightening the screws on your doorknob too much can cause the knobs to bind.)
  • Remove the knobs, spray a little lubricant onto the latch inside the door. Replace the knobs and turn them to distribute the lubricant.
  • Finally if all else fails, it might be time to replace the doorknobs. Believe it or not this is a quick fix and can be done in five minutes.

Save yourself the headache of doorknobs that stop working smoothly and purchase Schlage brand door hardware from the start. Schlage has been producing high-quality door hardware in a variety of types, looks, and finishes for more than a century and will continue to do so in the years to come. Whether traditional, modern, or technology, Schlage products offer a limited lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and a three-year limited electronics warranty.

How to Replace Door Knobs | Pretty Handy Girl

Squeaking Doors

Doors that squeak mean the hinges need lubrication. Simply spray a lubricant like WD-40 just under the top of the hinge pin. Be sure to have a rag handy to catch any drips.

Fixing Common Screen Door Problems | Pretty Handy Girl

Open and close the door several times to help the lubricant work its way down the hinge. Your door should be squeak free now.

Door Knob Hits the Wall

Door knobs that hit a wall can put dents or holes in the wall if left alone. The solution is quick. Either add a door stop behind the door at the baseboard…

door stop behind door at baseboard

…or add a hinge pin adjustable door stopper to the top door hinge.

hinge pin adjustable door stopper

Drafty Doors

Cold drafts wafting in around your door? The solution is as simple as installing (or adjusting) the weatherstripping. If you can see light coming in around your door, it’s guaranteed to let drafts in too!

Adding Foam Weatherstripping | Pretty Handy Girl

Simply adding adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping around the door will stop those drafts in their tracks.

Look Ma, no more light, no more drafts!

Adding Foam Weatherstripping | Pretty Handy Girl

Adding a door sweep to the bottom of the door will keep out drafts from the bottom of the door. In addition, a well-fitted sweep will also keep insects and spiders from making an entrance under your door.

white door sweep on yellow door

That pretty much sums up fixing common door problems. Next time you have an issue with your door, you can fix it yourself!


Disclosure: This article has been sponsored by Schlage. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m very particular about the brands I work with. I only recommend products and brands that I use myself. I was compensated for my time, but I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own.

Pin for later!

How to Fix common Door Problems

Today’s tip is one that is gentle on your washer (HE and regular), but most importantly it will save you money! If you’ve ever looked at the cost of laundry detergent, you may have choked at the cost. I have a wonderful recipe to make your own Liquid Laundry Detergent for only $1.25 per year! And the detergent is low suds and low residue which will keep your washer and clothes cleaner.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

How to Make DIY Laundry Detergent

If you think this detergent couldn’t possibly work on dirty clothes, think again. I can tell you that in addition to our regular clothing, I’ve been using this recipe for 9 years on my boys’ clothes, on my own work clothes, and my husband’s karate clothing. And it really works. Whatever stains don’t come out in the wash are no match for my DIY Miracle Stain Remover.

The ingredients for the laundry detergent are simple and can be purchased at your grocery store. Just look on the high or low shelves in the laundry detergent aisle. If you can’t find them there, you can also look at your local hardware or home improvement store.

To make the detergent, you only need about 15 minutes and then let the detergent sit overnight. The next morning, you stir, add more water and you are done! Do you think that’s too much time to devote to making laundry detergent? What if I told you that this batch lasts our family of four (did I mention two of them are young boys) six months or more.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Click Here to Download the Printable Version of the Recipe

Laundry Detergent for $1.25 a Year

Several of you asked me to make a video showing how I make my own detergent. For your convenience you can watch the video, then scroll down to read the directions.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Please note, you can purchase these items cheaper at your local grocery store or hardware store. The links are here to help you see what the box looks like or to order if you can’t get to the store.

Optional: Essential Oil for Scent (see below for scent ideas)


  1. Cut Fels Naptha Bar in quarters. Grate one quarter of the Fels Naptha Bar using a fine cheese grater.
  2. Boil 1 cup of water. Pour grated Fel Naptha into pan of boiling water. Stir continuously until the soap has dissolved. Meanwhile, pour 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water into a large container or bucket. Pour dissolved Fels Naptha into the bucket of water. Stir.
  3. Add 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda and 2 TBSP Borax to the bucket.
  4. Add 2 1/2 quarts more water and stir.
  5. Cover the mixture and let is sit overnight out of reach of pets or children. Uncover the bucket and stir the gelatinous mix.
  6. Add 5 Quarts (20 cups) of water to the bucket. Stir.
  7. Add 15-30 drops of essential oil of your choice.

Some essential oil scents you may like:

Citrus scents: lemon, lime, orange, bergamot, or grapefruit
Herbs scents: peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, basil
Other scents to try: Eucalyptus, chamomile, cypress, lemongrass
Want to fight mold & mildew? Use Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)

Blends to try:

  • basil & lemon
  • lavendar & lemon
  • orange, bergamot, and lemon
  • chamomile, lavender, and orange
  • lemon & tea tree

Miracle Stain Remover Recipe:

If your clothing gets stained, try soaking in this miracle stain remover a day or two before laundering. You’ll be amazed how the stain lifts out effortlessly.

miracle stain remover

How did I figure out my cost per year?

I had to do a little guestimating to figure out my cost. In the nine years I’ve been making this recipe, I’m only on my second box of Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.

Each batch of DIY laundry detergent consists of at least 4o cups. If you use the required 1/4 cup per load (do not use more, as more detergent won’t get your clothing cleaner) you can easily get 160 loads from each batch.

All this to say, I came up with a very conservative estimate that I pay $1.25 for laundry detergent per year!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Storing Your Laundry Detergent:

When I first started making this recipe, I used my empty laundry detergent container. But, it was often too small for the batch size. Next, I used an empty 2.5 Gallon Water Jug. But, several years ago I bought a big glass drink dispenser and a smaller bottle with a flip top stopper. The smaller bottle is filled and used for dispensing detergent into the 1/4 cup measuring cup and then added to the washer. The large drink dispenser holds all the excess detergent. This is a prettier solution to storing all the detergent.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Pretty Handy Girl

Gift Idea:

Once you try this DIY laundry detergent, I know you’ll love it. And then you’ll want to share this recipe with everyone you know! I like to share the recipe with a small sample amount in a laundry themed basket.

DIY Laundry Detergent |Pretty Handy Girl

If you want more uses for that big box of Borax, check out my 2 Ingredient Ant Killer!


Pin this page for later!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year


Don’t miss a single tip! Sign up to get all the tips in your email:

Sign Up for Email Subscription

This is the next update in the Millie’s Remodel series. Recently I had to decide whether I needed to replace the HVAC unit for Millie. Although it was an expensive proposition, the decision on brand was an easy one for me.

Millie’s Remodel: HVAC Update + How to Extend the Life of Your HVAC System

Thank you for your patience with the Millie’s Remodel series. Today I have the next update and this one could actually save you money and the dread of replacing your HVAC unit sooner than you want to.

Just so you know, TRANE is a Millie’s Remodel project sponsor. But, if you’ve been around my website for a while, you know I don’t promote just any brands. If I’m going to mention a brand, you can be sure I’d recommend them to my best friend or my own mother. Now that we’re past the legal disclosure stuff, read on to find out why I like TRANE so much and how to extend the life of your HVAC system!

Millie’s Remodel Inspection:

During the home inspection at Millie’s Remodel, the inspector told me the exhaust fan for the gas furnace was no longer functioning in the unit. Given the age of the HVAC, he recommended replacing it instead of fixing it. Plus, the unit was incredibly loud and sounded like a helicopter! I knew it would need to be replaced.

When TRANE contacted me about being a Millie’s Remodel sponsor, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to share how we decided to purchase a TRANE in the past and how long it lasted.

Back in Time:

The year was 2001 and Pretty Handsome Guy and I had just moved to Raleigh. The Dot Com bubble had burst and we were left without full-time jobs. We had just purchased our first house—needless-to-say—money was tight. We were surviving, but money was still not flowing in. Despite our financial situation, we decided to host a party for some of our new friends. Midway through the party, I looked at our friend Jaye, who was 8 months pregnant. Sweat ran off her forehead and I suddenly realized it was a bit hot in the house. I kept turning the thermostat lower, but each time I checked it, the temperature was climbing instead of going down.

After the party, I walked outside and discovered the unit was covered in ice. I knew enough to know that was not a good sign. We called a few HVAC companies and got the news that it was probably best to replace our old HVAC.

Although we were cash-strapped, we knew we didn’t want to make a poor decision on a major system for our home. After a lot of research, we decided to purchase a TRANE unit. Little did I know that this same unit would still be pumping conditioned air almost two decades later. Our rationale for choosing a TRANE was: if we chose less than stellar HVAC equipment we could be looking at replacing it within 10 years. Whereas, if we chose a TRANE, we could expect to have the same unit for 15+ years. It made sense to spend a little more money now, and hopefully, only have to replace the HVAC twice over 30 years versus paying for three systems in the same time frame? Now doesn’t it make sense to spend a little more up front to save you money in the future?

Guess what! Our rationale was correct. In case you weren’t aware, we moved in 2007 to the house across the street from our first home. Over the years we’ve watched three families move into our old house. Recently I was talking to the current owner and I asked her if she still had the TRANE unit we installed. She told me yes, she did, and it’s still working perfectly! Here it is:

Deciding what brand HVAC system to buy for Millie, is obviously an easy decision. After seeing the old TRANE we put in at our old house still pumping heat and cool air after more than 18 years, why would I choose anything else!

How to Select a New HVAC System:

Ask around. Find out from friends, family, or neighbors which system they installed and who installed it. Ask how old their system is and if they’ve had any issues with the equipment. When I mentioned I was having a TRANE installed at Millie’s Remodel I received several messages from my followers who were also happy TRANE owners:


How to Hire an HVAC contractor:

I recommend finding local TRANE contractors in your area by going to the TRANE website. Then look up the recommended contractors on Better Business Bureau and search for Google or Yelp reviews. When you call, ask for references and call the references. (Not sure what to ask? I have a great article on How to Hire Contractors with suggested questions to help you get the most information from references.)

The HVAC Installation:

Once the day arrived to install the new HVAC system at Millie’s Remodel, the contractors removed the old unit. I was not sad to see that eyesore and earsore go! (It was incredibly loud.)

Luckily the ductwork was almost brand new, so we all agreed to keep it so I could save a little money. The contractors did remove the old pad and put down a new one.

Tip: Always make sure your contractor levels the new pad. Non-level pads can put undue stress on your unit. Do not let them throw mulch or leaves (compostable materials) under the pad to level. They need dirt or gravel or other non-composting material. If you have eagle eyes, you may have noticed a piece of lumber leveling the old unit. This is not an acceptable way to level your HVAC pad.

While the guys were installing the new TRANE unit (I chose the TRANE XR14c which is not a top of the line model, but is still energy-efficient and quiet.) I asked the foreman a question after he finished installing the unit. I specifically asked him what he saw in terms of age of units when removing old HVAC equipment specifically TRANE units vs. other brands. Watch the video to hear his unscripted response:

How to Keep Your HVAC System Running Smoothly:

If you only do one thing to prolong the life of your HVAC unit, it would be to change the filters regularly. Whether that means monthly or up to three months will depend on your home’s dust levels (and any pets you have.) Keep an eye on your filters. If they are showing more dust and hair before three months is up, change them more regularly.

Did you know TRANE has filters specifically designed to meet the balance of reducing dust and lint while keeping your HVAC system running longer? Best of all, you can order them from Walmart and receive them the next day!

If your home is going through a renovation, it’s important to change the filters after a lot of debris has been released into the air. The day after my drywall contractors finished sanding, I replaced the filters. And immediately after the floor refinishers sanded the floors, I replaced the filter. When the renovations are complete I’ll replace them again.

Other things you can do to keep your HVAC system running smoothly is to keep vegetation and landscaping at least 18 inches away from the unit. There needs to be proper airflow around the unit for it to work efficiently.

Call for a maintenance tune-up and check on your system in the Spring and Fall. Don’t wait for temperature extremes to find out your system was stressed and you are now without heating or cooling.

For more maintenance tips and ways to keep your system running a lot longer, read these maintenance tips from TRANE.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this nice, quiet, and efficient new HVAC system from TRANE!

Do you have any TRANE stories? Have a system that proves the saying, “It’s hard to stop a Trane.” Please share in the comments!

Have a great holiday, I’ll be back in January with the next Millie’s Remodel update!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for TRANE. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

After over two years of general contracting, I’ve finally transformed my truck into the perfect contractor’s truck. Whether you’re a woodworker, a contractor, a remodeler, or a serial DIYer, you’ll find this article about the Anatomy of the Perfect Contractor’s Truck beneficial for discovering accessories to make your truck more practical for hauling tools and lumber.

Back at the start of the Saving Etta project, it became clear I’d need a pickup truck to assist me with hauling materials and my tools. I purchased an old white pick up truck for $4,500.

Although the truck got me through the project, it wasn’t without a fair amount of headaches. Frankly, I felt like the truck and I didn’t get along. Twice the truck locked me out. One time the keys were in the ignition and the engine was still running! Little annoying things kept breaking on the truck (like the back door latches one after the other) and then the ABS brakes (which actually control the regular brakes too) went out to the tune of $900. I replaced them, but was always wary of the possibility of them dying on me again.  Between the rising repair costs and the fear of being locked out, I decided it was time for another used truck after I sold the Saving Etta house. This time I had a much clearer vision of what I needed in a general contractor’s truck. And I think you’ll appreciate my new-to-me truck and how it really is the perfect contractor’s truck! Keep reading to find out the accessories that make it perfect and how I’m planning on keeping this truck running smoothly for me.

This is a sponsored post for Gumout. I was provided complimentary products and was compensated for my time and efforts to promote Gumout. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

The Search for the Perfect Contractor’s Truck:

When I searched the internet for ideas for what I should look for in a general contractor truck, all I found were links to truck accessory websites. Then I looked on YouTube and discovered lots of ideas for beautiful custom-built tool storage in a truck bed. Besides not having the time to build something for my truck, I also knew it would limit the flexibility and storage capacity in it.

The other options I found were true work trucks with more storage than I wanted. For example, the truck below is outfitted with storage compartments, but you usually give up valuable real estate when built-in storage is added. I knew I needed the flexibility of a full pick up truck bed sometimes. Therefore I nixed the idea of built-in storage compartments.

Before searching for another truck, I made a list of must-haves and “would be nice” options on a contractor truck.

Contractor Truck Must Haves:

  • Safe (and Weather-Proof) Place to Store Tools
  • Ability to Haul Lumber
  • Flexibility to Carry Cargo like Appliances
  • Back Seat for Passengers (and Dog)
  • Additional Storage Space in the Back Seat
  • Truck Bed Large Enough for a Sheet Goods
  • Locking Cover for Truck Bed
  • Tow Hitch
  • Strong Engine for Hauling Trailers

Contractor Truck Optional Features (not Necessities):

  • Back Window that Opened
  • Additional Storage Bins inside Cab
  • Radio/Bluetooth Stereo
  • USB Port
  • Truck Bed Rubber Mat
  • Easy Cleaning Floor Mats inside Cab
  • Leather or Vinyl Seats
  • Back Up Camera
  • Power Outlet

With my list made, I began searching for used pickup trucks that would meet my criteria. I purposely didn’t look at new trucks because I knew I’d be putting this truck through the paces and I didn’t want to cry over a scratch or dent on a new truck.

Ultimately, I narrowed my search to 4-5 year old used trucks because I didn’t want to buy an older model again.

Must Have Features in a Contractor’s Truck

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve been using this truck for almost a year now and it fits my specific needs as a general contractor perfectly. I perform a lot of my own labor, so I load my truck with the tools I’ll use for the week and remove the ones I don’t need that week.

Tool Storage:

While using the old white truck, I purchased several utility bins to keep tools and equipment organized in the bed area. This system worked so well, I decided to continue to use the bins in my new navy truck.

The nice thing about the bins is they keep my tools out of sight and drier than just sitting loose in the truck bed. Plus, the raised edges on the bin lids let me set things on top of the bins and they won’t slide around.

Inside one bin is my safety gear. The other bin holds my smaller power tools, batteries, and bits for my drills.

The utility bins are easy to maneuver, move, or remove when I need the space in the truck bed.

Hand tools, small nails, screws, and other tools fit neatly in the connect toolboxes. I purchased two connectable toolboxes and joined them to create one large toolbox.

Hauling Lumber and Materials:

(Please Note: the photos below are for illustration purposes only. Be sure to secure and tie down your lumber and material loads before transporting them.)

Traditionally I try to have lumber and supplies delivered to the job site. But, there are definitely times when it’s easier for me to pick up lumber at the last minute. With the old white truck, I had an operable back window but made the mistake of hauling big pressure-treated 2x10s and resting them on the dashboard. The first bump I hit, I cracked my dashboard.  Lesson learned—and for that reason—I decided to purchase a headache rack for my new truck.

For those occasions when I want to haul long lengths of trim and lightweight lumber, I can rest stacks on the rails of the rack and feed them through the open back window. But, I never let the lumber touch the dashboard or the windshield. (No need to risk damaging them.)

Another way I use the headache rack is to haul materials over the truck cab. Normally I don’t run the lumber at this extreme an angle, but as long as it’s not going to snap and is tied down, this system works well.

If I have to transport long boards or extension ladders, I add the bed extender. You can see it below (the bar attaches to the hitch.) The bed extender I bought also has the option to be reconfigured to support lumber extended directly from the truck bed.

If I need to haul a trailer, I can remove the bed extender and insert a towing ball mount. This feature comes in handy for hauling everything from open to closed trailers.

Security and Weather Protection:

My old white truck had a hard tonneau cover on it. The cover was great for weather protection and security, but it didn’t offer full use of the bed. If I had to remove it, it was a literal pain in the neck trying to crawl under the cover to get to the clamps and remove items from the back of the bed. If I needed to haul appliances I had to get help removing the hard cover. It was definitely not a quick or easy process.

spruce trees loaded into back of truck

After purchasing my new truck, I visited our local truck accessory shop and talked at length with the salespeople there. I explained all the requirements I had for my new truck and specifically asked for alternatives to the hard tonneau cover. They pointed me in the direction of the rolling tonneau cover. This is by far my favorite addition to the truck!

I can roll it open and closed one-handed and it gives me access to the entire truck bed. Once closed, the cover won’t open until the tailgate is opened. If you want it locked, just lock your tailgate! The cover will rest nicely on top of sheet goods that don’t fit inside the truck bed.

And when I need to haul appliances, I can quickly roll the cover open and load in tall appliances (unlike the old hard cover on my old truck.) For carrying appliances, the headache rack doubles as a tie-down anchor for safely transporting appliances or other cargo.

If I had any complaints about the rolling tonneau cover, they are minimal. The first is the aluminum underside gets very hot when it’s in the sun. But, I quickly learned to only touch the black felt strips when rolling the cover.

My second complaint is, the cover isn’t 100% weatherproof. A heavy rain will allow some water to seep into the truck bed at the four corners of the cover. But, I store my tools in the storage bins, so this isn’t a huge deal for me.

Miscellaneous Interior Storage and Contractor’s Mobile Office:

Inside the cab of my truck are all the things I need on a day-to-day basis. I store materials I don’t want to be exposed to the weather inside. My navy truck has a lot of compartments, but my favorite is the sunglasses compartment where I keep my favorite safety glasses inside to prevent them from getting scratched.

The center console has lots of additional storage areas for my tape measure, business cards, my favorite utility knife, and more.

Pens and pencils are close at hand in this pen grip holder which attaches to the visor in my truck.

In the backseat, I have a file bin that holds all the files I need to reference throughout the day. For safety, I keep it buckled up because I wouldn’t want to get hit in the head by the metal bin. Ouch.

One of my most miserable memories from working on the Saving Etta project was the day it was cold and rainy. After that experience, I always keep a change of clothes in my truck. My washable coveralls are also stored in the bag. I tend to spend a fair amount of time in attics and crawlspaces and the cloth coveralls are more comfortable (and form-fitting) than the disposable ones. A clean pair of boots are also a necessity. Did I tell you about the time I had to go see my son’s teacher at school and my boots were so muddy I had to leave them at the front entrance and walk through the school in my socks? True story.

Any contractor knows receipts are plentiful while working on a project. I keep my receipts organized in the accordion file in the passenger seatback pocket. I never have to hunt for receipts again and they don’t get scattered all over.

Protecting My Perfect Contractor’s Truck:

My navy truck and I are definitely working well as a team. It hasn’t locked me out once and there aren’t random things breaking on my truck. I’m determined to keep this truck for a long time and I want to protect it from excessive wear and tear. Therefore when Gumout approached me about talking about their products, I was all in!

To keep my truck running smoothly and let me have a dependable ride, I make sure I keep up with regular maintenance like oil changes on my truck. I also started protecting the engine by adding a bottle of Gumout All-in-One Fuel System Cleaner every 3,000 miles.

Gumout All-in-One is protecting my truck specifically in these ways:

  • Helps improve fuel economy and horsepower
  • Cleans and protects engine parts
  • Helps keep your engine running smoothly
  • Fights the damaging effects of ethanol
  • Guards against deposits and wear that can prematurely age an engine
  • Helps keep your engine running longer and stronger
  • Helps your car maintain peak performance

To protect your vehicle, add one bottle to a nearly empty gasoline tank. Refill the gas tank with up to 35 gallons of gasoline. For best results, do not refill the tank until near empty. Repeat every 3,000 miles.

My truck has about 60,000 miles on it, but next year that odometer will likely roll over to 75,000 miles. When that happens, I’ll be switching to the Gumout Regane High Mileage Fuel System Cleaner.

The Gumout Regane High Mileage Fuel System Cleaner benefits higher mileage automobiles in these ways:

  • Cleans your entire fuel system
  • Helps restore engine performance
  • Helps extend the life of your engine
  • Help add years to your car in just seconds
  • Prevents and removes deposits that compromise fuel economy
  • Prevents excess friction and reduces carbon deposits

Now I’m curious, do you have any accessories or options I should add to my perfect contractor’s truck? Or let me know how you protect your automobile or truck? I definitely love my truck.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Gumout. I was provided complimentary products and was compensated for my time and efforts to promote Gumout. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

Let’s take a few minutes to learn What You Need in Your Disaster Preparedness Emergency Kit. It might save your life!

Pack These in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit Immediately | Pretty Handy GirlWhat You Need in Your Disaster Preparedness Emergency Kit

Intense weather patterns are becoming much more common. Sadly it’s becoming a new normal. Are you ready in case of a disaster? What are the dangerous weather formations in your area? Are you at risk from a tornado, a flood, earthquake, mudslide, avalanche, hurricane, or other natural disasters? Regardless of where you live, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. You want to be prepared for anything Mother Nature dishes out plus a man-made disaster.

Our town has been hit by a few hurricanes, ice storms and a tornado over the past few years. Several of these events left us without power for several days. When we first moved to North Carolina, we had no idea that we needed a Disaster Preparedness Kit. Then 9/11 happened and I found myself taking a class at the Red Cross on how to prepare for a disaster. Now that we’ve lived through it, our family has an emergency kit made up in case disaster strikes. We keep it under the stairs in a closet (which is the ideal place for us to go in case of hurricane or tornados.

Emergencies can strike at any time. Chances are you may be away from home when they do strike, so having an emergency kit in your car is important.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Car Emergency Kit:

You can order a pre-made auto emergency kit, but be forewarned that there are many additional items you should include.

Car Emergency Kit | Pretty Handy Girl

Disaster Preparedness Kit Necessities:

If you want to save yourself the time of putting together a home kit, you could purchase a pre-made emergency kit, like this one:

Pack These in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit Immediately | Pretty Handy Girl

This will provide you with the bare necessities, but I encourage you to read further because there are a lot of items that are not included in a pre-packaged kit.

Good Additional Items:

  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Tarp – good for emergency roof repair or shelter
  • Sand bags (if in flood zone)
  • Extra Prescription Medications and Medical supplies (i.e. hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Sleeping Bag(s)
  • Change of Clothes
  • Sturdy Pair of Shoes
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Local Road Maps
  • Tea light candles
  • Soap
  • Feminine Hygiene products
  • Mess Kit (Add utensils if not included. Make sure the items are metal for cooking over fire if needed.)
  • Paper & Pencil
  • Activities: Books, Games, Deck of Cards
  • Copies of: ID, Insurance Policies, Bank Account Records
  • Empty Gas Can
  • Axe
  • Chlorine Bleach with eye dropper (Use 1 part bleach : 9 parts H20 as a disinfectant. Use 16 drops bleach : 1 gallon of H20 for emergency drinking water.)
  • Aqua purification tablets or LifeStraw
  • Extra set of house and car keys
  • Towels
  • Work Gloves

For Babies:

  • Baby Wipes
  • Diapers (for infants)
  • Formula (for infants)
  • Bottles

For Your Pets:

Cover All Your Bases:

Now that you know what to store in your Emergency Preparedness Kit, I recommend taking some time to compile the items. If purchasing all of them at once is too expensive, purchase a few items over the course of a year.

Annual checks:

Be sure to check your kit once a year and restock any items you used or that have expired.

How to Safely Use and Store a Generator | Pretty Handy Girl

If you purchase a generator, learn how to use it safely and store it properly. It’s also a good idea to start it up once or twice a year to make sure it is in good condition.

Make sure your kit is stored where it will stay clean, dry and ready for an emergency.

Where to store your emergency kit?

You should determine a good place to store your kit. Ideally this is the spot you will be sheltering in place. For us, tornados and hurricanes are the major threat. We don’t have a basement, so an interior room away from windows is the ideal shelter. Under our stairway is a closet where we go in case of extreme weather. Our Disaster Kit is stored in a waterproof storage bin like this one. But honestly you can buy one for less after the holidays when retailers are competing your your dollars as you try to store all the Christmas loot and decorations. Just make sure to buy one with a lid. A flat top bin will allow you to store additional blankets and supplies on top.

Prepare Your Family:

Talk to your family members about the emergency kits and where they are located. Urge kids not to play or eat the contents.

Take time at least once a year to discuss plans in case of fire, storms, or if you are separated. Have a designated meeting place if you have to leave the house in case of fire or other disaster. Our kids know we have a meeting tree away from the house. We practice going there during our own little fire drill. We also talk to them about where to go if there is a “bad storm” outside. Know where the safe shelter spots in your home are. A basement, cellar or crawlspace are ideal. If you don’t have those, in interior room with no windows like a bathroom or under the stairs is a good alternative. A bathtub on the ground floor with a mattress on top is another option.

Finally, if you have to evacuate your neighborhood or town, do you have a designated meeting place to meet your spouse or other family members? We know to go to our friend’s house that lives in another county.

I hope you never have to use your Disaster Preparedness Kit, but if you do I’ll be glad you were prepared. Have a safe year!

How to Stretch Tight ShoesHow to Stretch Tight Shoes

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because they were super cute, but they were a tad too tight. If you’re like me, you probably bought them and thought, “They’ll stretch out if I wear them enough.” Then a year or two later you put them on and remember why you don’t wear those shoes. They are just too tight. Frankly life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes!  I’m sure you are thinking, “Are you telling me to get rid of my uncomfortable shoes?” On the contrary, most too tight shoes can be stretched. Today I’ll show you how to Stretch those Tight Shoes and start wearing them comfortably!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

shoe stretcher materials


I created this short video for you to see how easy it is to stretch your own shoes. Let me know if you have any questions after watching the video.

Step 1: Determine Tight Areas

Determine where the tight areas on your shoe are. If your shoe stretchers have plugs, you can add them to the stretchers for maximum stretching in those areas.

Step 2: Use Stretcher

To loosen leather shoes, you may want to use a Shoe Stretching spray. Spray inside the shoe. Turn the knob on the stretcher to adjust the heel stretcher. Insert the shoe stretchers into your shoe. Tighten the heel knob. Then turn the metal rod until the stretchers are as wide as they can get in your shoes.

Step 3: Set in Warm Area and Wait

Set the shoes in the sun or leave them in a warm area for 24 – 48 hours. It’s a good idea to check your shoes after 24 hours. After 24 hours my shoes were still a little big snug. I left the stretches in for another 24 hours and set them in the sun because the heat helps stretch leather.

Step 4: Try Them On Again

Time to try your shoes on. If they are still too tight. Spray the stretching spray and turn the shoe stretchers to stretch more. Wait another 24 hours.

silver clogs on table

I’m so happy I can wear these clogs comfortably! And now I can stretch any future cute shoes I buy (within reason.)

Do you have a pair of tight shoes you want to try this on? Get to it, those shoes want to be worn.

To keep our cast iron fixtures looking new, I have a never-fail formula to clean and remove all those scuffs and scratches! Here’s how I clean our cast iron sinks and bathtubs.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub

How to Clean Cast Iron Sinks and Bathtubs

While I was helping my client get her house ready to sell she said they were committed to replacing the cast iron bathtub in their boys’ bathroom because it was scratched and stained. I told her to hold off because I knew How to Clean Cast Iron Sinks and Bathtubs to look new again.

I use this same technique on our own cast iron sink every few weeks when the scuffs and scratches get noticeable. And if we get any scratches in our bathtub I clean it the exact same way.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Let’s get started and turn back time on your dirty, dingy, scratched cast iron sink or tub. It will look new when we are done. Promise!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub Instructions:

For your convenience, I made a video to show you exactly how I clean our sink. Feel free to watch the video or keep reading.

Rinse any food debris out of the sink. Next, sprinkle baking soda liberally in the sink and on a scrubber sponge. (If your sink is really dirty you can add a drop of dish detergent onto the sponge.)

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Scrub the sink using a little muscle. Pour vinegar onto your sponge and in the sink. Use the sponge to wipe and clean the baking soda out of the sink. Rinse the sink with water.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Your cast iron sink (or tub) should be clean now, but you might still have some scratches and marks on the surface. That’s okay, because it’s time to break out the Kohler Cast Iron Sink Cleaner. This is a miracle in a bottle!

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

This is the cleaner recommended by our kitchen designer. Honestly, if I didn’t know about this cleaner, I would have been disappointed with our farmhouse sink a long time ago because it does get a fair amount of scratches from cast iron pots and pans. (Want to know if I’d buy a farmhouse sink again? I’ll answer that and tell you what no one tells you about owning a farmhouse sink in this post.)

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Pour a small amount directly onto marks and discolorations. Use a clean dry paper towel to buff the cleanser into the scratches.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Rinse the sink with water and look…the marks disappeared! If you look closely you can see that the scratches are still in the sink, but they visually disappear.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Remember those marks before:

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

And after:

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub | Pretty Handy Girl

Hope this cleaning method helps prevent you from ripping out a perfectly good cast iron sink or tub! Keeping them looking great is as simple as knowing How to Clean Cast Iron Sinks and Bathtubs to look new again. Be sure to share this post with a friend. 😉

How to Clean a Cast Iron Sink or Tub

You might also want to read this post on What No One Will Tell You about Farmhouse Sinks.

What No One Tells You About Farmhouse Sinks | Pretty Handy Girl

How and Why You Should Install a Smart Lock on Your DoorHow and Why You Should Install a Smart Lock on Your Door

Smart locks have been around for a while, but I’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon and install a smart lock. I worried they might be tricky to install and had heard stories of the technology being glitchy (although I can’t find a lot of concrete evidence beyond this firmware update glitch that left 500 LockState locks completely useless.) However, after installing a Schlage smart lock on the Saving Etta house, I am a converted technophobe.

If you’ve never installed or used a smart lock before I have some considerations for you when deciding How and Why You Should Install a Smart Lock on Your Door.

Why are Smart Locks are a Good Investment?

If you’ve ever had the unfortunately situation of locking yourself out of your home, with a smart lock this is a thing of the past! You only need to remember your code! Do you hire contractors or cleaning people to work at your house? Now you don’t have to take off work or give them a key if you aren’t home. Set up a temporary code for each person and remove the code when they are done. The same can be done for guests or for an AirBnB property.

Do you have kids old enough to let themselves in after school? Why not give them a code so you don’t have to worry about them losing a key and you can keep track of when they got home.

Finally, if you’ve ever had that nagging feeling that you left the door unlocked, you can rest easy by simply checking or locking the door remotely from your smart phone.

What if I told you a smart lock can also help lower your homeowner’s insurance and could be a selling feature when you sell your home? Is there really any reason  you wouldn’t want a smart lock? There may be, so read on.

Some Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart Lock:

  • Do the centers of your deadbolt and door knob holes have at least 5 ½” between them? (If not the interior circuit and alarm unit may not fit.)
  • Does your deadbolt hole equal 2 1/8″ in diameter?
  • Does the deadbolt and door knob hole backsets equal 2 3/8″ or 2 3/4″ from the edge of the door to the center of the holes?
  • Is your door thickness 1 3/8 – 1 3/4″ wide?
  • Is the latch bore hole in the door frame at least 1/2″ – 7/8″ deep?

If you couldn’t answer yes to all of these questions, a smart lock may not be right for your current door.

If you have a door that requires you to push hard, pull up, or hip check it, you will need to make adjustments to your door before installation. Why? A smart lock is activated by an electronic mechanism. The deadbolt needs to move freely into the frame to work properly.

Do you have a smart phone? If you don’t, you can still use a smart lock, but understand that you can’t take advantage of all the remote features.

Most smart lock run on batteries, but many needs Wifi or Bluetooth to handle features performed on your phone remotely. Obviously these functions may not be available if the power is out in your home. For this reason, it’s always good to carry a back up key on your keychain.

Some experts say smart locks can be hacked, but most standard locks can be picked or opened with brute force. Both have their limitations. I’d recommend doing further research if you are concerned about smart lock security.

Finally, there is the cost to consider. Smart locks aren’t cheap, but as I mentioned above, they can save you money on insurance or give you more money in your pocket when it’s time to sell.

How Hard is it to Install a Smart Lock?

Installing a smart lock to your entry door may seem like a hassle, but it’s actually a fairly simple installation anyone can accomplish.

For some reason I thought the install would be more difficult, which is why I installed the ho-hum satin nickel knob and deadbolt on the Saving Etta house door. Sadly, it stayed on the door for months. As the completion date neared, I thought I’d need to clear an hour or so to install the Schlage Smart Sense lock. Boy was I mistaken, it took less than 30 minutes!

Let’s give your home a smart upgrade by installing a smart lock today. Here’s how to install the Schlage Smart Sense Deadbolt in thirty minutes or less.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

How to Install a Schlage Smart Sense Deadbolt:

Remove the Smart Sense Deadbolt from the box and make sure you have the booklet included. This booklet has the programming codes and must be kept in a safe place. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY!



First check to make sure your deadbolt engages freely into the door frame and deadbolt strike plate.

Remove the existing hardware.

Also remove the existing strike plate from the door frame. Then install the reinforcement plate into the door frame using the longer reinforcement screws. (Pay attention to the wording on the reinforcement plate telling you which way to orient the plate.)

Install the new strike plate on top of the reinforcement plate.

Insert the new bolt into the door (if you have a circular faceplate in the door, you’ll have to swap the rectangular plate with the round one in your kit and use the hammer and block to tap the bolt in.) Secure the bolt to the door.

Close the door and use the flat head screwdriver to test the locking mechanism. Does the deadbolt seat properly in the door? If yes, move on. If not, make any adjustments to your door now.

My door needed some adjusting (a shim behind one of the hinges to square up the door) before the deadbolt could open and close freely. 

Now that the bolt seats properly, add the keypad to the outside of your door (be sure to feed the cable through the door and under the bolt as you seat the keypad.)

The cable should be positioned under bolt and exit on the interior side the door.

Add the support mount to the interior of the door using the mounting screws provided. The support mount is stamped with the words TOP and AGAINST DOOR. Be sure to orient the support accordingly. Make sure the support mount and keypad are straight and plumb before tightening the screws.

Remove the top cover on the alarm unit.

Attach the cable to the back of the interior alarm unit.

Carefully attach the alarm unit to the support plate. You may have to turn the knob to line up the slot in the back of the alarm unit with the tab in the bolt.

Secure to the mounting plate with a screw in the middle of the until and a second screw above the circuit board. (Please note: Schlage recommends using a hand held screwdriver instead of a drill. I’m a rebel, what can I say?)

Remove the battery tray inside the alarm and insert four AA batteries.

Replace the battery tray with the batteries facing the door. Re-attach the battery connector.

Make sure not to turn the deadbolt knob until you set up the keypad. Replace the cover.

Now it’s time to test your keypad. Grab the brochure and locate the default codes on the sticker. Press the Schlage logo. The keypad should light up.

Enter the default code and the deadbolt should go through a set up routine. Let it finish, then close the door from inside the house and test the lock using the thumb turn. The bolt should still be able to open and close freely. (If not, make any adjustments to your lock or door as necessary.)

Now you can test the keypad entry. Take a key with you as you step outside. Close the door and press the Schlage logo. The door should lock.

Press the Schlage logo again (the door should stay locked.) Now enter one of the default codes and the green check mark should illuminate and unlock the door.

Your new Schlage Smart Sense deadbolt lock is now set up.

To manage your new smart lock, download the Schlage Smart Sense app on your smart phone and follow the instructions. You can also set up new codes, or lock and unlock it remotely.

Schlage has an installation video if you have any questions about this installation. Watch it below:

The Schlage Smart Sense Deadbolt was fantastic to have on the Saving Etta house. I was able to program temporary codes for the subcontractors and deactivate them after they finished their work.

I will definitely be looking into adding one of the Schlage Smart Sense Deadbolts  to my own home. Especially because my boys are always misplacing their keys. 😉

Disclosure: As a sponsor of the Saving Etta project, Schlage sent me the Smart Sense Lock for the house. I was not told what to write, all opinions are my own. 

Pin this image to help others learn more about smart locks!


Want to learn how to drill new door knobs holes?

How to Drill New Holes for Door Knobs

Or maybe you want to learn how to replace the other door knobs in your home:

How to Replace Door Knobs and Deadbolts | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Drill New Holes for Door KnobsHow to Drill New Holes for Door Knobs

Every once in a while, you might find yourself with a new (or old) door that needs a hole drilled into it for a door knob (or a deadbolt). Today I have the perfect tutorial to ease your mind and help you learn how to drill a new hole for door knobs in your door.

While working on restoring the original 1900 portion of the Saving Etta house, I removed the original bedroom doors and took them to a local workshop to have the lead paint stripped off the doors. It was a pricey decision, especially because I didn’t know what the doors would look like when they were stripped. But, as you can probably tell from the photos, they came back more beautiful than I could have imagined! In fact they were so pretty, I didn’t stain them. They just got a clear sealant to protect them. The restoration company had to do some “surgery” on one of the doors, basically adding a new stile. When I received the door it didn’t have a door knob hole. But, I knew I could drill a new hole (if I could stop drooling over the beauty of the wood grain).

bedroom with 1900 wood door and glass door knob in the background

Doors this gorgeous needed exceptional door hardware. For that reason, I reached out to Schlage and asked them to be a Saving Etta sponsor. Luckily, they responded that they would be thrilled to send me door knobs and hinges for the whole house.

Two Schlage Hobson Door Knobs

While perusing the Schlage door knob selection, I was halted by these classic Schlage Hobson round glass knobs. The beauty in these knobs was unique and captivating. For an old look, I decided to pair them with the oil-rubbed bronze Century backplate trim.

with intricate details in the glass knob

The coolest thing about these knobs (besides the intricate detail inside the glass), is you can purchase a variety of backplates to compliment your style:Schlage Hobson Knobs with other Backplate trims

I loved the look of the round and square backplates, but felt the rectangle was more fitting for a historic house.

Reclaimed wood door with round glass door knob

Ready to learn how to drill new door knob holes in your door? Luckily, I’ve drilled holes for knobs in many a door and each time I’m amazed at how simple it is to accomplish with a good door knob jig. Ready to learn how to drill a new door knob hole? Watch this video or read the step-by-step tutorial below!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Measure the height of the door knobs on other doors in your house. Transfer this measurement onto your slab door.

Measure and mark door knob heights

Be sure to select the backset for your door knobs on the jig before you begin.

Selecting setback on Irwin Door Knob Hole Jig

Locate the latch face plate screws with your door knob. Use these screws to secure the door knob hole jig to your door.

Removing Door Knob Hole Jig

Grab your drill and insert the 2 ⅛” hole saw into the drill. Apply firm pressure as you drill the hole into the door making sure the hole saw is flat and not angled as it goes through the door.

Once the center bit protrudes through the door, stop and switch sides. Continued drilling through the opposite side until you complete the door knob hole in the door.

Small center bit hole drilled through door, switch sides to drill door knob hole

Now find the 1” hole saw and insert it into your drill. Drill through the edge of your door to create the hole for the latch. Use the same firm pressure and make sure the drill is perfectly perpendicular to the door edge.

Drilling 1" hole for latch

Sweep out any sawdust in your door knob holes. Remove your face plate screws from the jig and set them down nearby. Remove the jig.

Attach the face plate to the door using the same screws you used on the jig.

Attach face plate onto door edge

Using your utility knife, carefully score a line around the face plate.

using utility knife to score around latch plate

Remove the face plate. Use your chisel and a hammer to remove some of the wood material inside the marks you made.

Chisel out area for latch face plate

Now you are ready to add your door knobs and latch assembly. I have another video showing you how to install door knobs in five minutes or less!

Add New Door Knob Hardware

Feel free to watch that tutorial below:

Please excuse me while I drool over these gorgeous glass knobs I installed on the doors in the Saving Etta house. They have to be the most beautiful door knobs I’ve ever seen!


Sun glinting off glass door knob on raw wood door

Gorgeous Schlage Hobson Glass Door Knob

Door opening with ocean painting showing. Glass door knob with sun glinting on it.

Wasn’t drilling a door knob hole easy? I know you can do this (assuming you have a wood door of course.)

Disclosure: As a sponsor of the Saving Etta project, Schlage sent me the door hardware for the doors. I was not told what to write, all opinions are my own. 

 If you haven’t done so already, be sure to *subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

*My followers on YouTube get sneak peeks of some of the projects I’m working on, so subscribe today!