I'm all about encouraging home sellers to stage their own homes!

According to Family Handyman Magazine, staged homes spend up to 90% less time on the market than unstaged homes do.

That's an impressive figure. It translates into money in your pocket, because there are always carrying costs when a home sits on the market -- costs like insurance, taxes, mortgage payments, and maintenance expenses.

But I always remind people that staging a home involves more than adding some toss pillows and hiding family photos. Often it calls for tedious jobs, some dirty work, or even heavy lifting.

Experienced professional stagers know how to take precautions to make sure no one gets hurt. Here are the most common mistakes I've seen inexperienced DIY-ers make. I want you to stay safe when you stage. Because getting hurt is no fun!

Not dressing right 

Protect yourself. Protect your wardrobe. Wear what will keep you safe, save you time, and help you do a better job. I've blogged about how to dress for yardwork and how to dress for painting projects.

Always wear closed-toe shoes, never flip-flops, slippers, clogs, or sandals, when you tackle a home repair or furniture moving job. Invest in some comfortable shoes, support your ankles, and prevent slips and trips. 

A pair of safety glasses will protect your eyes when you deal with scraping popcorn ceilings, pruning shrubbery, or using power tools. I like mine because they have a warm tint to them, so I see the world literally with rose-colored glasses when I wear them!

I keep gloves for every chore -- latex ones for wet work, nitrile ones for painting, and heavy-weight but flexible gloves for demolition work. It's a joke in my family that I never saw a pair of gloves I didn't like. The right gloves will give you a better grip, and protect your hands from injury, and (horrors!) a ruined manicure.

Fasteners like nails, screws, tacks, and bolts cause 30% of all injuries that happen when people are doing home improvement projects. Keep your work area clean and organized as you work. If you do get a puncture wound, you should get a tetanus shot.
You might not enjoy wearing it,
but it's going to keep you safe.
Photo: YourGloveSource
A particulate mask will protect you from dust particles but you need something more serious if you are going to be using epoxy paints and glues, oil-based primers, or strong cleaning products. You need a full-face respirator. Yes, it will cost you, but it will protect your precious lungs and keep toxins from circulating through your system. Ventilate your work area to avoid the dangers that things like mold and spray paints present.

Be aware of where lead paint and asbestos can lurk, and don't disturb these substances by sanding or removing them.

Incorrect ladder use

Slip and fall injuries can happen easily in your home while you're doing work you're not accustomed to doing, like climbing ladders.

Most likely you will use a 6-foot stepladder to do things like paint walls, clean a ceiling fan, install drapery hardware, or hang a large painting. Be sure the ladder is on a level surface and that it doesn't have any slippery, loose, or broken steps. Don't use the top rung as a step. Don't use a metal ladder when working with electricity. If possible, have someone spot you or hold the bottom of the ladder while you work.

Chances are you won't be using an extension ladder for home staging, but in case you need to clean out gutters or do some high work, be careful! Have a spotter stand on the ground but with both feet braced against the ladder's bottom legs. Make sure the ground is level and stable. Follow the "four-one" rule. For every four feet of ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from a wall or structure.

No matter what kind of ladder you use, don't over-reach while standing on it. Instead, climb down the ladder and move it.
I love a ladder like this for all kinds of
household tasks. It stores well, is safe,
and is super-versatile. Photo: Support Plus

Poor lifting style 

Avoid lifting furniture if possible. In my eBook on furniture arranging, I recommend using gliders to place under the feet of furniture. They make a world of difference when you're not exactly sure where you want furnishings to go and you need to see a few variations. These small, inexpensive devices are game-changers.

If you must lift a piece of furniture, hold it close to your body, and at or below waist level with your elbows tucked in. Don't bend from the waist. Instead, crouch with your knees bent to avoid back injuries.

If upright, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to distribute the weight of the furniture more evenly. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed as you work rearranging things. This will give you more control and reduce the chance of hurting yourself or the furniture.

Pace yourself, and don't try to move heavier pieces on your own. Even if it seems silly to ask for help with a lighter piece, it's far better to have a buddy than to be out of commission when a job needs to be done, or to do damage to furniture or walls or door casings.

Gliders under furniture pieces will protect your
floors when you are moving things around,
as well as make your job easier.

Leaving valuables visible

Besides putting yourself in danger of bodily harm, there's also the possibility of emotional or financial harm. These days, you can't be naive. Be defensive. Get proactive about staying safe.

If you are alone in an unoccupied or vacant house and working on staging it, don't be obvious about it to passersby. Keep the doors locked, even if you have a helper or two. Keep your phone on your person. Most women Realtors and professional house cleaners keep pepper spray with them because they are usually working alone or even in teams and know they could be victimized easily.

When you are living in the house, failing to protect your valuables and personal information when you stage and list your home leaves you susceptible to trouble once people start touring your home. Realtors cannot accompany every person to every room when showing your house. Thieves operate as couples. Some scumbags schedule tours of homes just so they can survey a place and then come back to burglarize it when no one is there.

Jewelry, electronics, and small antiques should be kept out of view. Larger valuables, such as artwork or expensive gadgets, should also be secured or removed before your home is photographed and listed.

Keep your personal or professional paperwork stored safely, never visible. In the wrong hands, your financial information could do long-term damage to your whole family.

Remove personal items like sports trophies and family photos, as well. These can be off-putting to buyers and could make your children vulnerable to being targeted.

Of course, you'll remove prescription drugs from the premises. Even if people are genuine buyers on a serious home tour, seeing something that's valuable or useful can be tempting. People can be impulsive. Don't give them any excuse to take advantage of you.

Get the look, get the book 

I hope these reminders will encourage you to stay safe while staging. And I hope you take advantage of my home staging eBooks to sell your home quickly and for a good price! They will help you stage your home to make prospective buyers feel like they are walking into anyone's version of paradise -- even if your property isn't a paradise like Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands!

It's winter and I am dreaming of a getaway!
Photo: Magnum Helicopters