3 Common Problems - Chrysler Town & Country

We have recently become the new owners of a Chrysler town and country.  We bought a 2007 with 85,000 miles.  We are really happy with the minivan it drives well and is in great shape. Also we really like the flip down seats and all the space available in the back.  I really like the fact that a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood fits perfectly.

chrysler town and country, common problems, fix

There were 3 problems though after we purchase the van which needed to be fixed.  And after reading online about the Town and Country we realize that both problems are very common.  I also learned that both the Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan are the exact same vehicle.  I think they are made in the same factory and then they just replace different panels and slap a different logo badge on the hood.  But all the parts and inner workings of the minivan are the exact same part.  So everything i describe below is exactly the same whether you have a Town and Country or a Caravan.

Here’s a video i made showing the three problems and how to fix them.  But for more details and additional pictures, continue reading.

Chrysler Town & Country - 3 Common Problems and How to Fix

Problem 1
The first problem we had was with one of the sliding doors.  The electric push button didn’t work.  Some people said they experienced problems where the sliding door would go part way, stop, and reverse.  Other people had the same problem we did, where the door wouldn’t move at all when you pressed the button.  It didn’t matter if you pressed the button on the remote or on the dashboard, the door would not move.  We could hear the auto door locks engage and disengage when the button was pressed, but there is no sound or movement from the door or sliding door motor.  We knew it wasn’t with the remote, relay, fuse, or switch since the passenger side door opened and operated just fine. (as long as it was unlocked…see problem 3)

So after reading some more we determined that it could be a few possible causes.  Some people said they needed to replace inner motors or switches inside the door panel.  But by far the most popular cause for the door not working was a broken wire.  With the sliding doors there is a bundle of wires which run in a plastic chain at the bottom of the door.  It’s a crummy design where all of these wires coil and on coil as the doors open and shut.  It seems to go bad for most people between 50,000 and 70,000 miles.  For us it was the driver side door which didn’t work, I guess that means in a few years the same problem will happen with the passenger side door.

You can see from the diagram how the plastic chain coils up as the door closes.

I forgot to take a picture of the actual break in wire, but here’s another person who had the same problem.  Luckily they only had to remove a few links of the plastic chain to find the break.

The fix is to crack open part of that plastic chain and look in the bundle of about 10 wires for the break.  The first time I tried looking for the broken wire I didn’t find one.  I only opened about five or six links of the chain and didn’t see anything. But after reading more about it I knew that one of those wires had to be broken inside.  And sure enough after I removed every link of the plastic chain I noticed one large wire which appeared to be solid, but as it was bent there was a clear break in the copper wire.  So I used electrical pliers and stripped the casing off the wire.  Here’s what it looked like after i removed casing on both sides of the break.
chrysler town and country, sliding door won't work, won't open
Next I slid on plastic shrink wrap tubing which would protect the fix after I was done.  I usually forget this step and have to wrap it in electrical tape.
chrysler town and country, how to fix sliding door

I then got out my spool of solder, flux and soldering iron.  I used an old piece of concrete board to protect the other wires and give me easy access to where I would be working.  Remembering to coat the wires in flux, i then soldered the two wires together.   It wasn’t pretty but it held together well.
minivan sliding door won't open, won't work, button

Now at this point since I remembered to put on that heat shrink tubing before I began I was able to slide the tubing over the damaged area and used a lighter to seal everything up.  Very professional looking.
car electrical wire fix, properly, heat shrink tube, solder

Here’s what those heat shrink wrap tubes look like.  For electrical connections that might get water into them, they are great.
electrical heat shrink tube

I did realize that this ‘rigid’ point in the wiring could be a perfect place for it to break again.  It’s possible that in a few years it will snap at the exact same point and I would have do the same repair.  But it’s much easier and cheaper than some people who replaced the entire wire harness.

The funny thing is that Karrie’s father has the exact same van and had the exact same problem with the sliding door.  One day when he was over I found the break in a completely different wire, soldered it together, and fixed theirs in about 10 minutes.

Problem 2
The next problem we had with our Chrysler Town and Country was with the interior dome light. There’s two lights right above the driver and passenger seats. Neither of those two lights worked, even when we pressed the switch.  For this it could’ve been a fuse, but I looked in the owners manual and checked the fuse box and everything seemed to be fine.  Also there wasn’t a specific use for that overhead dome light and nothing else in the car was out.  If it was the fuse not only would the overhead light have been out also the radio and some switches on the dashboard.

So we watched a video on how to remove the clear plastic cover plates.  They said to use a plastic shim and pop the plastic cover plates from the front not the rear.  At the rear there is a plastic tab which is where the cover rotates.  I got this little plastic shim tool several years ago and i’ve used it tons of times when working on the car.  It’s rigid enough that you can use it as a prying tool, but it doesn’t leave a mark and damage anything.  I use it later in ‘Problem 3’ to remove the door panel, but it was also the right tool for the job of removing the dome light cover.
plastic car trim removal tool

Once we remove the cover we pulled the light bulb down and noticed that they were burned out.  It was a bit tricky when we went to try and buy these light bulbs.  None of the auto parts stores had them in stock.  Even when Karrie went to the dealership they didn’t even have them on file.  But luckily the guy noticed them on a shelf in back, he had 2 left.  We looked online and Amazon did have them for five dollars each, but it doesn’t sound like a very popular part, even though they’re in thousands of Chrysler and Dodge minivans.  It seems strange.

The part was Phillips 3M PC579. 
chrysler town and country, dodge caravan, dome light, light bulb, model phillips 3m pc579

It was a little tricky to install the light bulb.  On the sides there is a plastic wedge that needs to lock into place.  I found that it takes quite a bit of force to push and turn the light bulb before it actually locks to where it should be.  I was almost twisting to the point where I thought it would break the plastic before it settled into its correct location.  You will hear a snap, or click when it locks.  

The other funny thing is that Karrie’s father also had this same problem too.  However his light bulbs were not burned out they were just loose in their connection.  I poped the cover plate off and noticed that they were loose in the socket.  I had to really twist before the light bulbs snapped into place.  Another bad design and common problem for the van.

Problem 3
The last problem we had is another common problem with the Chrysler Town and Country, and also the Dodge Caravan, the automatic door lock.  It’s technically called the door lock actuator.  Specifically it’s the “motor” which moves the locking mechanism up and down.

We didn’t realize it until after we owned the van for a month, but the lock on the passenger side sliding door didn’t work.  It didn’t matter if we pressed the button on the remote or on the door.  All of the other doors would lock and unlock, but that door did nothing.  A big problem with that is you think the doors are all locked but someone could just come up and open the door.  Also if you manually press the lock button, then press the button to open the sliding door, nothing happens.  You have to manually lift the lock button for the sliding door motor to work. 

I probably should have gotten out the multimeter and checked the fuse, relay, wiring, etc.  But after reading how common it is for the actuator to break, i figured that it was the broken part.  The bad thing was that the actuator was $50-$60.  Fortunately Karrie had a 35% off coupon for Advanced Auto Parts, so she ordered the actuator.  Normally it was $60 but she picked it up for just under $40.

Here’s what it looks like.  The white plastic piece is something you have to switch depending on whether you are replacing the drivers side or passenger side door.
chrysler town and country, dodge caravan, door lock actuator, sliding, rear, drivers side, passenger side

To figure out how to actually do the repair i did what i normally do, i looked for a video on Youtube.  There was only one where the guy replaced the actuator, and it was only on the driver side sliding door.  It looked pretty simple, remove the door panel, unscrew the actuator, install the new one, put the panel back on.

So one afternoon i started working.  I removed the door panel with my little plastic panel tool.  The same one i used to pop off the dome light cover.  I told you it’s really useful.
plastic car trim removal tool

The panel and trim piece came off fairly easily.  Although i always think that i’m going to break the plastic when i’m doing it.  Here’s what the door looked like at that point.
chrysler town and country, dodge caravan, remove door panel

The actuator was located at the rear of the door, it had lots of cables and wires going to it.  It’s kind of covered up in the picture above, but it’s on the far right side.

Again i tried pressing the lock/unlock to see if maybe something was just jammed.  But just like we noticed before, there was no sound or movement.  Then i figured, before i go any further, i should connect the new actuator and see if it works.  If i connected the new part, pressed the button, and nothing happened, then i would know that it wasn’t the actuator that was broken.

So i unplugged the wire harness and plugged it into the new actuator.  This time when i pressed the lock/unlock the actuator lever moved back and forth. Here you can see the new actuator dangling down, just for testing.
chrysler town and country, dodge caravan, fix broken door lock, sliding, won't open

It was good knowing that we were right and it was the actuator that was bad.  Now i just had to install the new part and i’d be done.  Easy, right?  Unfortunately it was more complicated then i originally thought.

In the video the guy was able to remove the actuator after he took out 1 screw.  There was an access hole in my door panel, but the screw head was not visible.  I looked with a flashlight at every side and every angle but could not find the screw to remove.  I tried to pull off the old actuator but it was definitely held on somehow.

I realized that my only option was to remove the entire metal bracket which held the actuator, cables and door latch. All of those wires and cables go to the metal bracket.  I had to remove all that to get to the screw to remove the actuator.
chrysler town and country, dodge caravan, door actuator, lock

That meant that i had to go out of the van and remove 3 big bolts at the end of the door.  This is the point in the job when you are like “I think i’m getting in over my head.”
remove sliding minivan door lock bracket, metal, won't lock

I was a bit nervous removing the entire thing, not sure if i could get it back together.  But after i got the whole bracket off i was able to see and get to the small screw holding the actuator in place.  I guess they just put the access hole in the wrong spot on this van or something.  Here’s the old and new actuator.
dodge caravan, chrysler town and country, sliding door lock, actuator, fix, broken, won't open

I put the new actuator on and put in and then the screw.  At this point i missed something, but didn’t notice it until later.  So i reattached the metal bracket and put the door panel back on.  Happy with the work i’d done, i wanted to test the lock to see if it worked.  So i pressed the button to lock and unlock the door.  It sort of worked, but the latch wasn’t moving very far.  It seemed like it was caught on something. 

That meant that i had to remove the door panel again and figure out what was wrong.  It turned out that there’s a metal pin that has to fit inside of a plastic channel.  When i slid the actuator into place, i forgot to make sure the pin was in the channel. The gold pin on the left should be inside that oval track.  Installing it properly meant that i had to do everything over again.
sliding door actuator, lock not in place, moving

So i had to remove the entire bracket again, remove the small screw again, reset the actuator with the pin in place, then put it all back together again.  This time it worked perfectly.  It was a little more work then i thought it would be, but not super hard.  Now the door locks and unlocks like new.  I’m glad that the 3 main things wrong with the van that we fixed weren’t too difficult. 

So if you know anybody is complaining about either of these three problems you can tell them it’s very common quite a fix.

Car Window Regulator Track Fix


Car Window Regulator Track Fix

A quick summary of some of the things i’ve fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:

One day while driving home from work I rolled down all the windows in the car to get some fresh air.   After the inside of the car cooled down a bit I pushed the switches to rol lup the windows and heard a terrible grinding noise from the rear passenger door.   I knew something was wrong, there was a definite metal grinding noise and the window was jamming.   When I got home I left the car running and went to check the window.   Everything seemed fine but when I pushed the switch to roll it back down there was another grinding noise and the window didn’t seem to be sliding very well.  I pushed the switch to slide it back up and there was more grinding coming from inside the door.   Even using my hands to help raise the window didn’t work, it was stuck in place.  I thought that I had broken the window motor.  I knew it wasn’t the broken switch, fuse, or electrical problem because it was obviously trying to work.

So I went inside and started doing some research on Youtube, as always.  It wasn’t very clear as to what could be the problem, it didn’t sound like a very common thing to happen on cars.  Some people complained about loose wires or faulty motor.  But I was pretty certain that I wasn’t having the same problem they were describing with my window, motor or track.  So to fully understand what was going on I had to remove the inner door panel, so that i could get a look at the inner workings.

Here’s the full video of what i did, over a couple of days, in an effort to fix my electric window.  I eventually got it fixed, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap.

Fix Car Window Regulator Track - GM


I’ve removed the inner door panel of my car before.   A year ago I replaced the side mirror on Karrie’s car.   She also has a Pontiac Grand Prix and to fix the mirror i had to remove the front drivers side door panel.   It’s like everything when it comes to working on cars, the first time you try to fix something takes 5 times longer than the 2nd or 3rd time.  

For the Grand Prix’s you have to pop off a plastic cover plate, remove 2 bolts, then use a thin plastic tool to work your way around the outside of the panel, wedging and popping the metal clips.  There’s about 8 or 10 butterfly wedges which snap into the metal door.  Popping off those wedges is the hardest part.   You know you have to pop them off, but don’t want to break the plastic panel.  You just have to work your way around the door, pushing and wedging plastic tool in, until you hear a pop sound and the door panel is loosened. Here’s what it looked like after the door panel is removed and the plastic dust cover is peeled down.

Just a note, if you’re doing this on a hot day, that black tar sealant is really sticky and you wouldn’t want to get it on anything. It’s best to just completely remove the cover and get it out your way.

how to fix a broken car window, won't work, motor, regulator

There wasn’t a lot of space to see what was the problem.  But I eventually noticed that the wire connection which lifted the window had broken from its plastic mount. You can see that this white plastic piece in the back should be attached at the top of the metal frame, instead it was all the way down in the center of the frame.

car electric window won't work, roll up or down

I wasn’t 100% sure that it was the only thing broken so I checked the other rear door.   I took off that door panel and plastic cover.  That’s when I was sure that the only broken part was the white plastic piece and wire which was attached.

Here’s another view of what it looks like.  The white plastic pies wasn’t really attached to anything here.  It should be securely attached to the top of the metal frame.  You can see the residue where the plastic piece used to be attached at the end.

broken window track, regulator, wire, plastic, gm, pontiac

I decided that there was no way to fix it while it was in place.   I could barley see the broken part, let alone fix it inside the door.  So I had to remove the door track and motor from the inside of the door panel.  The first step was to loosen the bolts and padding which attached the track system to the glass window.  The window track system is technically called the window regulator.  Once those bolts were loosened the window was able to slide up and down freely.  But you want to make sure not to drop it or the window will slide down and break inside the door frame.   So I used masking tape to hold the window in the fully up position, out of the way.

Next I removed all the bolts which held the window regulator in place and was able to remove it from the door frame.  You don’t want to leave just the masking tape holding your window up for 2 reasons.  First is that the tape could tear and the window could fall and break.  The second is that people will know that there’s a problem with the window and could just break right into your car.  So I used a piece of 2x4 to wedge the window up in place inside of the door panel.  And a couple pieces of duct tape were used to hold the 2x4 in place.

how to remove car door panel, clip, plastic, window, motor, switch

At the center of the regulator was the electric motor which attaches to a plastic housing.  Inside that round plastic housing is a spool in which the two wires coil around.   As the switch is pressed for the window to go up or down, the motor turns and the wires are spooled in opposite directions.  Those wires pull the metal track up or down and the window, which is attached, is raised or lowered.

The problem I had is that the plastic piece which attaches to the wire at one end had broken.  It’s amazing how much of this window track system is made of plastic.  With all the torque being put on the window, the motor, and the wires, it seemed like this little plastic piece was a weak point.  I thought I would be able to repair it but had problems fixing to the wire spool.  I had to go in the basement and completely disassemble the plastic spool and the motor.  Inside the wires were all tangled up.  So i had to completely undo the wires just to have enough slack on the wire that needed to be fixed.  Only then was I finally able to latch the broken plastic piece and glue it in place.  I wasn’t sure how well the the glue would hold the plastic to metal.  Here’s what my quick fix looked like.

fix broken window regulator, wire, plastic, motor

Before putting it back into the door frame I decided to give it a try to see if it worked.  I wasn’t sure if I reassembled the motor spool and wires correctly and I wanted to make sure that everything traveled freely before I went to all the hassle of bolting it back in place.  This is the point at which I made a really dumb mistake.  

I had the car ignition turned on and the window regulator plugged in, but when I flipped the switch nothing happened. I didn’t realize that I had the child security window lock switched to the ‘ON’ position and there was no way to operate the window with the rear door switch.  At the time I just figured that I screwed up when I reassembled the electric motor.  So I was settled with the fact that I needed to buy a whole new window regulator system, $70 later I ended up with this.

gm window regulator, pontiac, rear, drivers side

The new window regulator is on the left and the old one is on the right.  Again before bolting in the new window track system I wanted to check to see that it would travel up and down correctly.  I plugged it in, pressed the switch and again, nothing happened.  The only thing I could think of was that I blew a fuse or damaged something else more seriously than I thought.  This is when I need to remember that the simplest answer is always the right answer.   I only realized what was wrong when I walked to the drivers side door and saw that the child window switch was locked on.  After switching it off the window motor worked and the track moved up and down.

I felt like a bit of an idiot spending $70 on a new regulator which didn’t need to be replaced.  I knew that I would eventually be installing the new track system, but I wanted to see if my fix would have actually worked.   So I reconnected the electrical cable to the original regulator system that I glued back together.  When I pressed the switch the track did move down, however when I tried to raise the track, the wires in the plastic spool became all tangled.  A few more attempts to raise and lower the window and the regulator was completely seized again.  I felt a little better knowing that I would have had to buy a new window track system anyways.

I unplugged the old broken window regulator and began installing the new one into the car door frame.  It only needs 3 bolts to attach the regulator to the frame.  Then 2 tensioning bolts at the bottom, which attached the regulator to the window.  With everything in place I replaced the plastic cover and inner door panel.  

Now it all works perfectly, just like it did before.   Sometimes when working on cars you can replace a single part, but in this case it’s an entire “sealed” unit that you have to replace.

Monroe Quick Struts Install


Monroe Quick Struts Install

A quick summary of some of the things i’ve fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:

Back in 2013 John and i  replaced the struts on my 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix.  The rear suspension of my car rode like it needed to be replaced, it was scraping the ground and I heard banging noises when I hit potholes.  I ordered the Monroe quick struts through the website Rock Auto.  It seemed like the QuickStruts were the way to go for me, it meant that i didn’t have to use a spring compressor.

Back then the struts were $120 each and shipping was another $20 each.  I did notice at the time that the new spring was different to the spring that originally came in my car.  The new spring had several additional coils which were variable in space. I thought that this must be a new and upgraded spring and installed them on my car. 

factory struts, monroe struts, compare

I won’t get into the details, if you want to see all the pictures of that first time installing the new struts, click on Replace Pontiac Rear Struts from 2013.  It was quite an ordeal which involved snapping a rusty sway bar link bolt. 

During the past year I haven’t really noticed that much of an improvement with the new struts.  It seemed better at first, but after while the car was still bottoming out, maybe even worse than it was originally.  If I put any weight like luggage in the trunk there would be a banging noise when I went over any bump.

Fast forward to a month ago.  I tried contacting Monro, the company who made the QuickStruts.  I sent them an e-mail saying that the struts i bought had collapsed and asked if they would replace them under their warranty.  I waited a few weeks but did not hear any reply. So I decided to contact Rock Auto, which is where i actually bought them through.  Luckily they responded that same day saying the parts were under warranty and they would facilitate the replacement through the manufacturer.  Rock Auto was great.  

The process worked where I would order the new parts, replace them on my car, and ship back the old ones.  The only minor downside is that I had to pay for the $40 to ship the parts back and forth. But I figured I was getting off cheap since I was getting brand-new struts on my car for the cost of shipping.

How to Install Car Struts - Monroe Quick Strut


When the new struts came I was glad to see that the spring which was used, was this same spring which was on my car originally.  Not that variable height spring which they shipped me the first time.

repair struts on pontiac grand prix, 2005, monroe

You can see from the picture that the spring on the left is the part which is less than a year old.  The gap at the bottom of the variable spring when on the car was even closer than it is shown here.  At some points the spring coils were touching each other.

compare monroe struts, quick strut, shocks, old, new, rusted, collapsed

So I went to work removing struts by myself in the garage.  One big advantage I had was learning from the lessons that John and I went through the first time.  I knew that using the jack stand to lift swing arm at the knuckle helped to remove strut bolts at the top.  It applied just enough pressure on the spring so that the bolts wouldn’t bink.   Also this time around i remembered to spray lots of WD-40 and JB Weld thread loosener on the sway bar link bolt.  Then I also used a wire brush to clean off the threads.  When it came time to remove the bolt, I was able to remove one side with the air impact wrench, but the other side required the big breaker bar.

how to remove rusted strut bolts, shocks, suspension, large,

Here’s a picture of the two large bolts which hold the strut in place.  These both support the entire weight the rear of the car.  It took a big hammer to loosen them to where they could be removed.

how to remove rusted strut bolts, shocks, suspension, large,

It is nice having air tools to do this type of job.  I didn’t have all this nice equipment a year ago and we had to do it all by hand.  It just makes it a lot easier removing rusted on bolts and getting into tight places.  Although for most of this job I did use basic hand tools.

Here’s what the new strut look like after it was installed. You can see that with the new spring there was plenty of space in between the coils.

install new struts, pontiac grand prix, rear monroe struts, shocks

To attach the top of the strut to the car i needed to climb into the trunk and access the 3 bolts which were under the carpet covering.  It’s definitely bit of a tight squeeze to get in there.  This picture doesn’t do justice to how type of fit it really is. Using a 90° impact, wrench, and socket wrench it was a bit of work to remove the three bolts.

trunk access bolts, struts, shocks, springs

Even this picture makes it look like there is plenty of room.  But a normal socket wrench doesn’t fit over the nut and clear the metal frame.

how to remove rear car struts, bolts, trunk, 3 bolts

Here’s another picture of the new strut and old one that i removed.  It’s amazing that they look this bad after less than one year.  The coils are all rusted and collapsed.

worn struts, car, monroe quick struts, rusted, warranty

The new struts went one on the same way as before.  Although I did make a big screw-up when I was reinserting those two large bolts.  I was using a big hammer to drive them in and I accidentally hit and cracked the ABS sensor on the hub.  I was hoping it wasn’t broken but when i started the car some warning lights appeared.  It’s annoying when you set about to fix something on the car and end up breaking something completely different.  One bad swing of the hammer and i had to replace the rear hub.  It was completely fine, but the ABS sensor was cracked and the warning light wouldn’t go away.

I’ll have to write up everything that went into replacing the hub and put a link to it here.  I’ve replaced the front hub and wheel bearings on the front tires of my car.

Anyway the ride is much better with the new struts on,  Now it’s not bottoming out like it did before. Once I get the new hub in the mail I have to post more pictures of how I installed that. 

One last thing is that i found out later that after replacing the struts and hub i did cause the rear tires to be out of alignment.  It’s not serious, just that your tires will wear unevenly and possibly wear out sooner.  So there’s another $70 to get an alignment that you need to spend.  I saw online that you could sort of do it with a piece of string, but the camber and heel/toe part seemed too complicated for me to do myself.

Easy Baseboard Install

How to install baseboard in a room to really make an improvement

Baby Room Remodel Idea

Baby Room Remodel Idea

Here is the full video we made while remodeling the baby room.  I tried to clarify as much as i could but the pictures and write-up below probably does the best job of explanation.


A big step in getting ready for a new baby is preparing the room.  We decided to convert one of the spare bedrooms in our house into being the new baby room.  It’s approximately 12’ x 12’ and you can see from this picture that has hardwood flooring, ceiling fan, and a window.

baby room remodel, wood floor, paint, fan, curtains

We installed the new ceiling fan a few months ago.  Here’s what the room looked like before we began.  The walls were taupe, the wood frame around the window was painted white, while the baseboard and frame around the closet and door were a dark brown color.

how to prepare a baby room, remodel paint color

The first step was to remove the old baseboard. We still have 200’+ of white baseboard that we bought from the Gibraltar home auction.

It’s a nice touch to put in new baseboard, it really makes the room look more modern.  So using a hammer, crowbar, and a couple of flat bladed screwdriver’s I was able to pry the old baseboard off the wall.  You can see the different layers of paint on the top edge, which also added to it’s ugly look.

how to remove base board, install baseboard

We decided that instead of having mixed matched brown and white trim we should just make everything white.  The new baseboard was already white, but that meant we needed to paint the door trim then remove the closet doors and paint them white as well.  The clear finish on the doors meant that it would require a few coats of white paint before the brown was invisible anymore.

easy room remodel, freshen up, paint, white

Karrie had been looking for ideas on Pinterest.   She ended up liking the idea of painting chevrons, or a zigzag pattern on one of the walls.  We watched a few videos on how it should be done and then went started to work.  The first step was to paint the wall white.  That would also be the base course for the zigzag pattern.

how to paint chevron on wall, zig zag

Here’s what that wall looked like after two coats of white paint.  It didn’t matter that we got too much paint on the walls to the left and right because we would be painting over those walls with a different color.

white wall base, coat, color, chevron, zigzag

We also used that same white paint for the ceilings, doors and closet trim pieces.  Again neatness was not an issue since all the walls would be repainted.

paint baby room

You can see from this picture the type of coverage that white paint had on the room door and closet doors.  The closet doors in the back have had two coats of paint by this point, whereas the bedroom door has only had one coat.

easy free baby room, paint color

Before we begin laying out our grid pattern on the walls, I measured the room and drew everything on AutoCAD.  Then I drew several different chevron designs on the wall.  I showed carried the different designs and let her pick the one she liked best.

chevron zigzag wall design, pattern grid, how to

To paint the zig-zag wall pattern you first have to create a grid on the wall.  Then you basically connect the ‘+’ with angled lines.  You don’t want the lines you draw for the grid pattern to be permanent so you use chalk, which can be wiped off later.  Another tip that Karrie found was that instead of measuring every square, we could use a piece of cardboard as a template.  Since every square on the wall was the same size the cardboard template could be traced in a repeating pattern vertically and horizontally.   Once the cardboard was traced with chalk the intersection points were marked, Karrie was able to use green frog masking tape to lay out the zigzag chevron pattern.  Since it’s important to have really crisp straight paint lines, we decided not to skimp and bought the expensive masking tape.  It did a good job of not allowing the paint to bleed through.

grid for chevron, how to paint a zig zag wall

Here’s a close-up of what the wall looked like at this point.  You can see that we used yellow chalk to lay out the grid.  The yellow chalk did a good job of being visible up close but not too dark that it would ruin the white paint as we wiped it off with a wet sponge.

easy chevron wall pattern, zig zag wall paint design, tips, how to

Another tip we learned while doing this was to use a laser level.  We were lucky enough to have a rotary laser level and this laser level which attaches to the wall.  It helped us in getting a nice vertical and horizontal lines.  We also realized that instead of tracing around the entire box, the intersection point is the only thing that we really needed.

zig zag wall paint

Karrie decided to add another step in between the chalk lines and the masking tape.  She used a straight edge and a pencil to draw the diagonal zigzag lines.  This isn’t really needed but helped us to make sure the layout was correct.

baby room zig zag wall paint pattern

Again here is what the wall looked like at this point.  If we did this again we would skip the step of drawing the pencil lines, but since it was our first time we didn’t want to use the entire roll of tape before realizing that we screwed up.

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While Karrie was working on that wall I started painting the other three.  We picked this blue color for the other walls in the baby room.

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By the end of day two we were already at this point.  The first coat of blue paint on the walls and the zig-zag pattern was all laid out with tape.

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You can see from this close-up, that the chalk marks were still on the walls.  We would wipe it off before we started painting.  Also Karrie wrote the letter ‘P’ in the areas where we would be painting gray.

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Here is another close-up of the wall and door trim.  Remember from the earlier picture where I painted all the door trim white then afterwards I put masking tape on the edge so the blue paint would be nice and straight.  However after removing the masking tape it didn’t tear as nicely as I hoped.  We were left with this horrible jagged at edge.

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That’s when I remembered we had a special tool for painting corners and trim.  It’s a red plastic pad with rollers on its edge, the rollers allow it to get close to the trim without leaving streaks.   Next time i’ll have to remember to forget the masking tape and just use the red painting tool.  It does a much better job and it’s a lot quicker, not having to tape everything off first.

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While I was working on the trim Karrie began painting the gray chevron pattern.  She found that using a small roller was the best tool.

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It took some time to paint the entire wall since she had to go slowly and make sure not to roll over the 1 inch green masking tape.

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Another close-up of what the wall, paint, and tape looked like.  You can see that the critical edge is the inside one where we would peel the tape away.

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This is what it looked like as we were finishing up the first coat of gray.  We had to paint part of the cold air return cover as well since it landed the gray section of the wall.  Luckily the outlet covers landed in the white portion so we left those white.

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We put on the second coat before removing the masking tape.  Then here’s what it looked like as we peeled away the green frog tape masking tape. You can see that the line was pretty crisp, although we still needed erase the chalk line and pencil lines.

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After all the tape was removed, the chalk marks were wiped off, and the pencil lines were erased, this is what the wall looked like.  You can see from here that only one small corner of the cold air return was painted white and one small corner of the coaxial cable cover was painted gray.  The bottom of the wall was left rough because it would be covered up by white baseboard.

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And here is what it looks like up close again.

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Not all areas turned out perfect.  Here was the very first corner we did. Obviously this needed a second coat of white paint to cover up a rough mark and pencil lines.

fix a bad paint job

But when it was all done it looked really good.  The contrast between the gray, white and blue walls looked a bit much when the room was empty, but with all the furniture in the room was perfect.

After all the painting was done it was time to add the white base board.  The first few times I had to install baseboard I used a hand miter saw, a hammer, and a box of nails.  It didn’t turn out very well and took a long time.  But since then I’ve purchased a few nail guns, an air compressor, and the power of miter saw.  These new tools make installing baseboard a whole lot easier.  My cuts with a miter saw are much more precise and attaching the baseboard to the wall and nail gun’s takes just a few seconds.

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Here was the first board I attached.  In the corners you need to cut the boards at a 45° angle however at the door jam it just needs a straight cut.

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Not all of the joints were perfect.  Even though I cut them at 90° I’ve learned that the walls in our house are not 90°.  Corners in our house range between 88° and 93°.  That’s where spackling comes in.  Another thing I’m really glad we did was install new outlets, switches, and cover plates.  Instead of leaving the 50-year-old electrical plugs, we decided to switch them with new ones.  We started doing this when we remodeled our family room.

The great thing about replacing them is that they only cost only a few dollars, but make a huge difference. The outlets are only $.50 each, cover plates are even less, and the light switch is something like $1.00. But when you’re all done really makes the room look like new.

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Here’s the new lights switch we put in.  After making sure the power was turned off at the circuit breaker, I removed the old switch and screwed in wires to this new one.  The whole process took about 3 minutes.

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Here’s another finishing touch, putting sealant caulk along the baseboard edge.  It’s these small details that make a lot of difference.  Had we not done this you would have seen a black line running around the room at the top of the baseboard.  But by adding the caulk it doesn’t show any seam at all.

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And while we were spackling the corners of the baseboard we also filled in the nail holes.  After the spackling dries you just need to use a slightly damp rag to wipe it flush.  I used to use sandpaper but a damp rag is quicker, easier, and leaves no mess.

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Depending on where you shop, curtains and curtain rods can be quite expensive.  We learned this lesson after buying hundreds of dollars worth of curtain supplies at Bed Bath and Beyond.  The prices there were crazy, everything was $30 or more.  So if you needed 2 curtains and a curtain rod it would cost you close to $100.  So instead of going there, this time we got curtains and a curtain rod at Homegoods.   They don’t have the same variety and you never know what they will have in stock, but if you get lucky you can find something for 1/4 of the price.  When hanging the brackets I try to attach screws directly into the studs.  But sometimes that’s not possible and you have to use those plastic anchors.

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The gray curtains on the outside were ones we took from our dining room.  The sheer curtains center were once we got for around $10 from Homegoods.  For a baby room we knew it was important to block out as much light as possible for when the baby sleeps during the day.  With the dark gray curtains pulled shut it does a pretty good job of blocking the light.

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Here’s what it looks like from a different angle showing zigzag wall and the baseboard.

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We decided to assemble the crib and try to figure out where we were going to place it in the room.  We got this Fisher-Price crib on sale at Meijer.  It also came with a free changing table, which we have on the first floor.

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It was slightly more complicated to set up than I thought it would be, but still only took about 45 minutes to put together.

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Here it is about two thirds of the way through the assembly process.  It seems sturdy enough, especially after adding the steel frame to the inner portion.

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We ended up liking the crib in the center of the room.  That gave us space on either side for a chair and other things.

crib in baby room

Next we put in the wood dresser.  It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but the dresser is a really nice one we got from Craigslist.  The woman said she paid $300 for it new, but she was selling it for just $75.

Originally we figured that we would have to purchase an ordinary dresser and tried to make it work in the baby’s room.  But we got super lucky with this one, it’s really nice and even has the platform to put a changing pad on top.

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This is what the room looks like with a little more furniture in it.  The basket on the left is for odds and ends, the rocking chair and nightstand are in the other corner.  The rug in the center of the room is real nice and soft, we also got it fairly cheep at Homegoods.  Both of the blankets in this picture are ones we made. The blanket on the chair was made by “knotting” together two pieces of fleece.  That blanket was quite easy to make and only took about an hour.  However the blanket on the crib took several weeks.  First we had to look on YouTube to learn how to crochet.  It’s made of two - 1 pound spools of yarn.  We messed up a lot while making it but it turned out really nice.

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Here’s another angle of the room as we were setting up.  You can see that with all the furniture and curtains in the room the chevron wall isn’t as bold as it was when the room was empty.

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We were both really happy with how the baby room turned out.  I was expecting the whole process to take a few weeks, but it only took a total of five or six days.  We worked all day on the weekend then at night after work.  As people are giving us gifts and things for the baby room is filling up with lots more stuff.  We might have to make shelves in the closet to hold everything.

The big day is now about three months away.  Even though the room is done we still don’t feel like we’re ready.

20% Off at Lowe's and Home Depot


20% Off at Lowe’s and Home Depot

Like most people, we go to Lowe’s and Home Depot to buy everything we needed for project around the house.  The past year we have done several projects big projects which cost quite a bit.  Here’s some of the projects we’ve done recently.

Family Room Remodel
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Tile Bathrooms Saved
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But luckily we learned that there is a way to save more than 20% on your total purchase … every time.   This is a really easy 2 part process.  The first step is picking up a 10% off coupon and the second is buying gift cards at 7% - 12% off the full price.  So here’s how it’s done.

Part 1  -  The 10% off Coupon Price Match
The first step is to go to the nearest Post Office and asked for a “change of address packet”.  They have these behind the counter and will hand them to you in a second.  Inside the envelope are a bunch of coupons, one of them being 10% off your total purchase at Lowe’s. They look like this

lowe's 10% off coupon, post office, change of address

The great thing about that is that Home Depot honors Lowe’s coupons.  They said they won’t match any computer print outs, but any real coupon that they can scan, they will honor.  So right there, any purchase you make from those 2 stores you are getting 10% off your total purchase.  Although Home Depot will only honor the coupon up to $50 off.

Also sometimes Home Depot and Lowe’s will price match the Harbor Freight 20% off coupon.  

harbor freight 20% off coupon, price match

Sometimes they will price match it (usually if you are buying tools) and sometimes they won’t accept it.  I did hear that recently a memo went out to some stores saying that they will not accept Harbor Freight’s coupon.

Part 2  -  The 10% off Gift Card
This step takes a little more time.  Online there are stores that act as middle-men between people buying and selling gift cards.  For example someone may have a $100 gift card to Lowe’s.  That person will sell the cart to one of these websites for $80 cash.  Then that site turns around and sells it to someone else for $95.  There’s lots of websites which have this system:

Here a screenshot of CardExchang’s website (although they all look the same) and this is just a few of all the store gift cards they sell.  You can see Home Depot is 7% off and Lowe’s is 5%.  There are lots more stores and restaurants which have an even better rate, like JCPenney’s at 20% and Jo-Ann Fabric at 15%.

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But to get an even better deal than the 7% off we went to SlickDeals.com.  Every month or so SlickDeals posts a Promo Code for one of these gift card stores.  Using that code at check-out we were able to get a total of 11% off the total price.

For example, when we needed to buy tile and the materials needed to redo our bathrooms, we bought 2 - $200 gift cards.  The total value of the cards was $400, but we only spent $365.  The total price at the check-out line at Home Depot was right at $500.  We handed them the Lowe’s 10% off coupon, they price matched it and the total became $450.   Then we swiped our two gift cards, saving us another 11%, then paid the difference with the credit card.  The total savings of our $500 purchase was $105.

When we purchased new carpet from Home Depot for our living room and dining room we did the same thing, except we needed a lot more gift cards.  We were a little nervous, but we bought $1100 in Home Depot gift cards, which cost us $979.  Normally at check out they limit the Lowe’s 10% off card to a maximum of $50 off.  But after talking to the manager, we somehow got lucky and they changed it to 10% off the total purchase.  The total we would have spent was around $1,400 but we only spent $1,000.  A savings of $400.  Not bad.

Now this isn’t something we do all the time.  In fact we’ve only bought the gift cards 3 times.  But if you are planning to purchase anything over $100 i would say that it’s definitely worth it to stop into the Post Office and pick up the change of address packet.  As long as you don’t have to stand in line for too long, it’s definitely worth it.

10% Online  -  The Lowe’s Promo Code Generator
One final note is that if you are purchasing something from Lowe’s, there is also something called a  Promo Code Generator.  It’s a script that someone wrote which generates possible promo codes for Lowe’s.  It turns out that the promo codes that Lowe’s creates are very similar.  They are usually a 15-digit number series usually something like 4700xx072xxxx34. 

Here is the direct link to the Coupon Code Generator itself.  Just click on the link and the code is generated for you.

Here’s a SlickDeals Lowe’s Coupon Code Thread which has a lot more discussion about the generator and more promo codes are posted as they become available.

slickdeals lowe's, promo code generator

So good luck with your future purchases.  Hopefully this will save you some money next time you need to visit Lowe’s or Home Depot.