attach keypad

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. 

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How to Fix Cracks in Door Panels - An Easy RepairHow to Fix Cracks in Door Panels without Taking the Door Apart

Wooden doors will develop cracks over time, especially if the panels aren’t free to expand and contract. Most of the time, years of paint or caulking the seams around the panels will cause the wood to stick and not allow the panel to expand and contract with the weather. The result is a big vertical crack along the wood grain. Today I’m going to show you how to repair the crack without taking the door apart!

You may remember right before I purchased the Saving Etta house, I discovered a discarded door by the dumpster behind our local grocery store. It had a big crack in the panel and was very dirty. But, otherwise, it appeared to be structurally sound. Pretty Handsome Guy and I salvaged the door on a late night rescue mission, and had a good laugh about it afterwards.

The door sat in the garage until the addition was framed and rough openings were created at the Saving Etta house. With the windows set to arrive, I knew I had to take a day out of my busy schedule to repair the cracked door and prepare it for installation.

Dirty Front Door found in the Trash

First the door got a good cleaning with soapy water.

Cleaning Front Door with sponge and soapy water Looking better already!

Cleaned front doo

Now it was time to fix the door. Let’s learn how to repair a cracked door panel without taking the door apart.


(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.)


Lay the door on a flat surface like a workbench or saw horses.

burgundy side of dumpster found door

Using the Dremel with a cut off wheel, clean up the crack and open it to the width of your wood spline.

Open door panel crack with dremel cutting wheel

Sand smooth any jagged edges along the crack and any dings on the rest of the door.

Sanding door smooth

Test fit the spline into the crack. Make any adjustments to the crack as needed or cut a narrower spline on a table saw.

Insert wood spline into door crack

The spline should fit snuggly in the crack.

Test fit wood spline in door crack

Remove the spline and apply a liberal amount of wood glue into the crack.

Add lots of wood glue to door crack

Insert the spline and clamp the door until the glue hardens.

Clamp door repair overnight.

Chisel off the excess spline (you don’t need to get it perfect, but you’ll want to remove as much of the spline that protrudes beyond the door panel.)

Chisel off excess wood spline

Sand the repaired crack until the spline is even with the rest of the door panel.

Sand fixed door crack smooth

There will probably still be some minor cracks or voids, but these can be repaired with putty. Mix up a small amount of Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty (just add water!) Apply along the repaired crack and fill in any small holes or dings on the door. Let the putty cure.

Use Durham wood hardener to smooth imperfections

Flip the door over and repeat the process of removing the excess spline material and adding the wood putty.

Add Durham Wood Hardener on back side of door repair

After the putty has dried, sand until smooth. Start with a 120 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 220 grit.

Sand cracked door panel repair smooth

Clean the door of any sanding dust. Tape off the window edges (if applicable). Prime the door on both sides (allowing one side to dry before priming the other side.)

Prime repaired door with KILZ 2 primer

Paint your door any color you like!

Paint repaired door with Magnolia Home Magnolia Green paint

Want to Stain Your Door Instead?

If you prefer the natural wood look on your door, be sure to choose a spline that matches your door’s wood species and skip the wood putty step.

Installing the Door:

Back at the house, my framers had some fun with the house wrap at the front door.

After I added an exterior door frame kit to my repaired door, the framers hung it in the rough opening.

Because I didn’t paint the exterior of the door yet, you can barely see the repair above. But, after a fresh coat of paint, I challenge you to spot the repaired crack!

Do you like the color I painted the door? You might remember my decision making process when selecting the exterior color scheme. Ultimately I chose Magnolia Green and Locally Sown in the Magnolia Paint line.

Magnolia Green Door with Locally Sown Magnolia Home Paint on Siding

And just in case you thought I was only good at saving doors, apparently now I’m also a house saver! The Saving Etta house received her plaque denoting her name as it’s registered in the list of National Historic Properties.

Saving Etta: 1900 Home Saved from Demolition and restored into a beautiful Triple A construction modern farmhouse.

Hopefully she’ll last another one hundred plus years!

A funny story about the green door: Originally I was going to hang the door with the handle on the opposite side, but made a last minute change. The interior of the door was supposed to get painted gray to match the rest of the doors in the house (minus the salvaged 1900 doors shown above. They were left raw to show off the original wood grain and square peg construction.)

Many of you loved the green color and voted on Instagram to keep the front door green on both sides. Which is why Etta has a green front door inside and out!

Saving Etta: 1900 Home Saved from Demolition and restored into a beautiful Triple A construction modern farmhouse.

What do you think? Do you like the double-sided green door? Do you have a cracked door panel in need of repair? I know you can fix it.

It’s been a decade since we bought our front-loading HE washer and I’ve managed to keep it smelling clean for 10 years! With just three simple steps, you too can banish the funky, mildew, and moldy smelling clothes washer. Here’s How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer and Laundry Smelling Clean!

How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer Smelling Clean

How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer Mold Free for 10+ Years

We all know the HE (High Efficiency) washer uses a lot less water than the old top load clothes washers. And, they cut down on drying times with a super spin cycle that leaves clothes damp not wet. With all those positives, you’d think everyone would be clamoring for an HE washer. Unfortunately, HE washers can start to stink if they grow mold or mildew inside. What would you say if I told you that after 10 years I’ve cleaned the inside of my clothes washer twice? It’s true, the only times I had to clean it was once when the washer sat in our garage for over a month closed up during renovations. And the second time is when we had a house guest who didn’t know to do three things to keep the washer clean and smelling fresh.

Do These 3 Things After Every Load of Laundry:

  • Wipe out the gasket
  • Leave door open to dry
  • Open detergent drawer (or remove to let it drip dry.)

Here’s how to keep your HE front loading washer clean and fresh like the day you bought it:

1. ALWAYS wipe the door off after each load.

he washer freshness cleaning window

2. ALWAYS wipe out the gasket (top to bottom) to remove any water and moisture. This is the main area that will get mildewy first. Gently pull the gasket toward you to wipe inside and behind the gasket. Wipe especially well around the drain holes at the bottom.

washing machine clean upkeep rubber seals

3. Leave the door open after your wash is done to thoroughly air out your washer. Obviously if you have a closet instead of a laundry room, this can be a problem. Your best bet will be to invest in a top load HE washer when it comes time to replace your washer. Until then, try your best to keep the washer open about 30 minutes after you’ve washed a load.

he washer airing out to keep clean

4. Open or remove the detergent drawer to allow it to air out.

Pulling Out detergent drawer on clothes washer

If you still have odors or smelly laundry, try some of these remedies:

Visible mildew

Inspect inside and around the gasket for signs of mildew (usually black spots.)

he washer mildew cleaning bleach, toothbrush and container

Mix a small amount of bleach and water in a container. Dip an old scrub brush or old toothbrush into the mixture. Scrub mildew spots with the brush. Wipe clean with a clean rag dipped in water to remove the bleach mixture. Repeat as necessary. When the mildew has been removed, wipe dry with a clean rag.

smelly washer cleaning using old toothbrush

Smelly Washer:

Does your washer smell like a locker room. To eliminate smells, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda inside the drum. Add a cup of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser.  Press start to run the washer empty on the hot water setting.

If this doesn’t eliminate all the odors, you can run the washer empty again but this time put 1/2 cup of bleach in the detergent dispenser.

Remember to open the washer immediately, wipe out any moisture, and leave the door open to air dry.  (I can’t stress how crucial it is to do this after EVERY LOAD.)

Smelly Clothes:

Do your clothes, or more likely your towels, come out of the washer smelling like a locker room? Believe it or not, you could be using too much detergent. Liquid detergent is often the culprit. Particles from the soap don’t wash out of your clothes completely and bacteria from sweat and more end up sticking to the fabric. Try switching to a powdered detergent or use this DIY laundry detergent which is low sudsing (and also costs pennies). You can also try this Smelly Towel Cleaner (affiliate link) additive to your laundry, that I use when our towels start to get a little funky (especially the dog towels.) It helps get the odor out.

Remember: Never use more detergent than is called for (even if the item you are laundering looks like this jacket.)

super dirty jacket. Clean clothes in he washing machine tips

Speaking of dirty clothes. I must share this hands down BEST Stain Remover recipe with you:

Miracle Stain Remover

I’d love to hear if these tips helped Keep your HE Clothes Washer and Laundry Smelling Clean!

he washing machine cleaning pretty handy girl

Like this post? You’ll definitely want to learn how to prevent dryer fires:

prevent fires replace dryer hose

And don’t miss How to Clean Out Your Dryer Ducts to Prevent Fires.

how to clean out your dryer ducts


How to Install a New Window

Installing new windows on your home isn’t rocket science, but it is recommended that you have some construction experience before tackling this project. If you have the skills, the install should only take an hour or less. Today I’ll show you How to Install a New Construction Window in your home.

How to Install a New Window

Installing a New Construction Ply Gem Mira Window:

If you read my article on ordering new windows, you’re probably ready to install that new window. Today I’ll take the mystique out of this process. To install new windows (as opposed to replacement windows) you need to start with the correct rough opening. Ply Gem makes it super simple to figure out the rough opening size for your new window with their downloadable window size guides(This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Ply Gem Windows.) 

After your rough openings are cut and ready, it’s time to gather a few supplies.


(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.)


Check that the rough opening is level and plumb. If it isn’t, have some wood shims nearby to help adjust the window after it is set in the opening.

level and plumb rough opening

Cut the first piece of flashing tape slightly wider than the window width. Peel off the backing and attach it one inch below the window opening.

window rough opening

Cut a second piece of flashing tape about 8″ wider than your window opening. Center it on the sill of the window opening. Line up the inside edge of the tape along the inside of the framing (allowing the excess to hang out on the exterior side of the window (as shown below). Press the flashing tape along the sill and up the sides of the window. Cut along the corners of the excess tape. Fold the tape out and down, securing it to the outside of the house sheathing as shown below.

flashing new window for installation

Cut two smaller pieces of flashing tape to cover the corners of the tape you secured above. Cut a slit in the tape where it overlaps the opening. Fold the flaps into the window opening and press your hand firmly on all the tape seams to secure.flashing window around bottom of rough opening Time to install the window! Run a generous bead of silicone along the inside of the nail fin frame.  Be sure to add additional silicone at the diagonal corner seams of the nail fin.

Have an assistant help you lift the window into the rough opening from the exterior of the house. (For upper story windows, you can feed the window out from the inside of the house. Make sure one person is outside to prevent the window from falling.) Check the diagonal measurements of your window to make sure they are the same. This will indicate if your window is square or not.

check window diagonals for plumb and level

Use your level to check if the window is level and plumb in the opening. If not, make adjustments by inserting shims from the inside of the house.

Once the window is square, level, and plumb, secure it to the house sheathing with roofing nails. (For added weather protection, the nail fin should go over the Tyvek house wrap for the sides and bottom. Along the top, lift the house wrap and nail the fin directly to the house sheathing.) The top flap of Tyvek will be secured later.

Continue adding nails to every hole in the nail fin. Your window is now securely installed. Time to add the exterior flashing.

(2.) Cut another piece of flashing slightly wider than the width of the window. Remove the backing and press firmly over the bottom nail fin.

flashing new window

(3.) Cut two pieces of flashing slightly taller than the height of the window. Press the flashing tape over both sides of the nail fin (taking care to overlap it over the bottom piece of flashing.) (4.) Lift the top house wrap flap out of the way. Then add one piece of flashing on the top nail fin (again, take care to overlap the top piece over the side pieces.)

Let the house wrap flap overlap the top piece of flashing. Secure it in place with a piece of Tyvek tape.

Flap of house wrap overlaps top of window flashing.

Congratulations! Your window is installed and ready for trim and siding.

Tell me the truth, isn’t this one of the most beautiful windows you’ve ever seen? The grilles look great on this 1900 house.

New Plygem Mira Window Installed

Even up close, they look like true divided light windows. The grilles I chose are the 7/8″ SDL style grilles available on Ply Gem’s Mira Windows.

On the back of the house, I installed a bank of windows and sliding glass doors to maximize the view of the big yard. The homeowners will love all the natural light pouring in from their beautiful Plygem Mira Windows.

Plygem Mira doors and windows on cream house

If you like this tutorial, share the knowledge with a friend by pinning this image:

How to Install a New Window

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored post for Ply Gem. It was written as part of their sponsorship of the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to write. All words and opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands I work with, and only partner with companies that provide quality materials and/or services.