How to Replace an Old, Nasty Doorbell

If your doorbell has seen better days or you’d just like an updated version, it’s an easy fix. Perhaps you’ve gotten new door hardware and now your doorbell doesn’t match. Or maybe you’re putting your house on the market and want your home’s first impression to be a good one. Either way, it’s an easy process. Ladies, you can do this!!

Here’s what my old doorbell looked like. Besides the fact that it’s just worn out, I wanted one with a light. And I recently painted my front door, which made the bell-from-hell look even worse.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Like many builder-grade doorbells, mine was a non-recessed one–meaning it’s basically a box that sits on top of the siding, with the “guts” of the doorbell inside of it.

The new one I chose is a recessed one, that sits flat against the siding with the guts recessed into the wall. I picked this one up at Lowe’s.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A couple of things to consider if you’re shopping for a replacement doorbell, are the location of your current screw holes, and the type of doorbell you currently have.

Lowe’s had a gorgeous, round, ornate doorbell that I fell in love with, but I knew by looking at it that it wouldn’t cover the screw holes I currently had. Chances are, new screw holes aren’t going to match up to old ones, and that’s ok as long as they’re covered by the doorbell itself. Since I didn’t want an empty screw hole on my vinyl siding next to my brand new doorbell, I had to go with my second choice. My point is, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between your current screw holes before you shop so that you can be sure the new doorbell will cover them.

As far as what type of doorbell to get, there are the two types I mentioned already. Most of the super-awesome, fancier ones seemed to have a recessed mount. Meaning that the “guts” of the doorbell sit back into the wall instead of on top of it. You can see through the packaging that this one is recessed. You can see the guts sticking out the back.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Either type of doorbell can be installed regardless of your current doorbell’s type. It just adds an extra step if you go from a non-recessed to a recessed one like I did. Here’s how.

Before you begin, find the breaker that goes to your doorbell and shut off the power. Next remove the screws that hold your doorbell onto your house. You should end up with something that looks like this.

 How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Loosen the screws that are holding the wires, and remove the wires from behind the screws. Now throw that nasty, old doorbell in the garbage.

Hold the new doorbell up to the hole in your house where the wire is coming out. The hole will probably be too small to accommodate your new guts (as is in my case in the next photo). If you already have a recessed doorbell, your new doorbell should fit into the existing hole. If it does, congratulations and skip this next step. Also, congrats if you chose a standard, non-recessed doorbell because that will work no matter what. If not, this is where the extra step comes in. Well worth it for the doorbell of your dreams in my opinion.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The hole has to be made bigger, so here’s what I used. My can’t-live-without-it Dremel moto-tool. If you don’t have one, buy one. I promise you’ll use it for all sorts of things.

Being very careful not to nick the wire, I whittled away the vinyl siding to a 5/8″ diameter hole. If you don’t have a moto-tool, you might be able to use a sharp utility knife to shave off some siding. However, when I replaced a doorbell at my last house, I also had to go through OSB that was underneath the siding. Not a big deal, as OSB was no match for my great and powerful Dremel, but you may have to resort to Swiss-cheesing the OSB with a small drill bit if you don’t have a moto-tool.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I felt the hole was big enough, I loosened the screws on the new doorbell.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then placed the wires around the new screws and tightened them. It doesn’t matter on a doorbell which wire goes on which screw. Honestly, you can’t screw this up.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I pushed the wires and guts into the wall.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I turned the breaker back on so I could test the doorbell before I went any further, just in case…And it worked! A doorbell never sounded so good.

Of course, as I expected, the new holes didn’t match up with the old ones.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I drilled two new holes and screwed the doorbell to the siding. Soooo much better!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is at night.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a simple thing to do to make your entry look nice. There were only three steps in the instructions, for heaven’s sake. You can do this!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Changing out this doorbell took me between 15 and 20 minutes from start to finish, and was well worth the $15.00 it cost. The most time-consuming part was figuring out which breaker to shut off, which is a real treat if you’re doing this by yourself and have to go up and down a flight of stairs.

And just for kicks, here’s my freshly painted, sunny yellow front door with my new doorbell in tow. The door was white before and very, very dirty. Now my entry says, “Hello!”

Yellow Front Door/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch

If you’re thinking about building a screened-in porch and are looking for a creative way to finish the interior, look no further. Shiplap is a beautiful way to go if you are a fan of farmhouse or cottage-style decorating.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I moved to a cute little house in need of some TLC this past winter, and waited (impatiently) for spring to arrive so I could have the existing screened porch removed and re-built. Here are before and after photos of the exterior.

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–Real landscaping will come next year.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My builder and I discussed several possible ways to finish the inside of the porch–all the usual ways. I scoured the internet hoping to find something not “usual”, but no luck.

I wanted the space to have the feel of an interior room—something quaint and cozy, and I was looking for something I could put nails into, to hang mirrors, clocks, pictures, hooks, etc…without feeling like I just destroyed something new. I like to move things around a lot, resulting in a Swiss-cheese type wall finish.

If you look closely at the before pictures at the beginning of this post, you can see that the inside walls had the exterior house siding on them. Not conducive to nails, and not very homey or interior-roomish looking in my opinion.

So here we are under construction in the next photo. I wanted a partial wall on the bottom half of the porch (as opposed to just window screen) not only for privacy reasons since I live in the city, but also to keep out as much of the weather as possible. Needless to say, construction began with no idea of how to finish the inside.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We got about to this stage in construction, and my builder was ever-so-patiently waiting for me to figure out what to do with the inside, when then the shiplap idea came to me in a wave that made my heart flutter just a bit.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I told my builder about my idea, and after he looked at me sort of funny, he called his lumber supplier to see if they carried shiplap. The response on the other end of the phone was, “Does this lady watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”  I thought, “Who on the planet doesn’t watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”, but I kept that to myself because based on the blank look on my builder’s face, he was, in fact, that one person on the planet.

This is what shiplap looks like. It’s not tongue and groove, but rather the edges are notched as you can see here.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The price of cedar shiplap made me laugh, so we went with pine. I asked my builder about the possibility of installing a faux shiplap by running treated 1 x 8 boards horizontally, in order to keep the budget down. We decided against it because as treated wood dries, it separates quite a bit, leaving gaps between the boards. And who wants to look at Tyvek lettering, right? So I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties and went with the real deal.

In an attempt to make the wood last as long as possible, I primed and painted all the surfaces of the boards, not just the side that would be visible. I paint for a living, and my new porch isn’t all that big, but I’m here to tell you that I nearly lost my mind before I got all the sides and surfaces primed and painted–three times. And of course the notches added some extra brushwork too.

So after a coat of primer and a coat of paint, I had to repaint again after installation in order to cover smudges and nail heads.  If you decide to paint your own boards, you’ll need a lot of patience, a lot of space, a lot of time and perhaps an engineering degree in order to figure out how to stack all the boards so they can dry and not stick together.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I should have done differently. I used an exterior primer, but the primer I used wasn’t strong enough to seal knots, and the knots bled through my primer and my two coats of exterior paint. Here’s how the knots looked when they reared their ugly heads. Irritating brownish dots. Everywhere. Shiplap with chicken pox wasn’t what I had in mind.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So if you decide to use pine shiplap, do yourself a favor and seal the knots first–before you prime and paint–with a primer that’s meant to keep knots from bleeding through. The product I purchased to seal the knots, was for sealing only the knots and not the entire board. This worked for me because I had already primed my boards, but I would recommend searching for a product that can be used on the knots as well as the rest of the board (assuming there is such a product) so you don’t have to seal all the knots, and then prime the rest of the boards with another product afterwards. Here’s what I used to seal the knots only.

As of this writing, roughly three months after construction, the knots are slightly starting to bleed through the paint again. I’m guessing it’s because the sealer was applied over paint and primer rather than directly on the bare knots. A heavy duty primer is worth paying for.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For my 14 x 16 porch, the shiplap cost around $800. I had enough leftover to build some planter boxes too! (See them here.) So here’s my shiplap porch all complete. I love the look of it, and the practicality of being able to nail into it with no worries. If I want to move the nails, I can leave the holes for a distressed look or I can fill them with putty and make them disappear. I could also just pound them in and leave them.

Welcome to my happy place.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is the gable end.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added some corbels that I bought years ago at an architectural salvage warehouse to the windows.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A very kind and thoughtful neighbor who is an electrician, installed an outlet for me as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift.

 Shiplap In a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t see shiplap as a fad or something trendy that will be dated in 10 years–I don’t do trendy. I think it’s classic, timeless and lovely. Shiplap adds a relaxed, cottagey feel to a space. Thank you, Chip and Joanna. (I even watch your re-runs.)

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.