By: Deirdre Sullivan
Although some maintenance projects are best left to the pros, these three easy DIY fixes will give you bragging rights.
We turned to three bloggers for ideas on how to tackle some little, but nagging, household wall and floor issues.
A Made-Up Drywall Repair
The problem: Concealing drywall damage is a tricky business that requires a handful of drywall tools and materials to make walls look like new. To fix coin-sized holes, many traditionalists use mesh or paper tape. But not Lesli DeVito, the DIY blogger behind My Old Country House.
The fix: Cosmetic wedges! DeVito first tried patching the two nickel-sized openings with cement board she had lying around, but the pieces didn’t fit as you can see in the picture below (left).
- Make-up sponges
- Putty knife
- Cut the wedges into pieces that are slightly larger than the holes.
- Spackle the drywall and wipe off the excess.
- When the spackle dries, sand the area until it’s smooth.
- Add a fresh coat of paint.
Now DeVito challenges people to find where the holes were; go ahead, take a peek.
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Home Tips, Remodels
By: Stacey Freed
DIY home remodeling is great — until it isn’t. Here’s how to keep it great.
It was their first plumbing project. “It was just a small crack in a pipe,” says Karah Bunde. She and her husband, Joel, had just purchased a fixer-upper they planned to renovate and rent.
They bought a new piece of PVC pipe to replace the cracked one. “We installed it, glued it, gave it 24 hours to cure. The next day we turned on the water and it busted at the seams. We had extra pipe and did it again, this time allowing it to cure for two days. Same story,” says Bunde, an avid DIYer who writes “The Space Between” blog.
The couple returned to the store and started asking questions.
Turns out they had made one of the most common DIY mistakes: choosing the wrong material for the job. “Our downfall was not doing enough research. Turns out we picked PVC pipe for drains and not one that would hold the pressure of water lines,” Bunde says.
Whether you’re choosing tile, flooring, lighting, or cabinets, making the right choice can make or break your success. Get the right materials by doing these five things:
1. Set a Budget for Every Item
Make a budget for every single item you’re purchasing, says architect Todd Miller, owner of QMA Architects & Planners in Linwood, N.J. Otherwise, you may blow it all on a sexy plumbing fixture, but then choose the wrong flooring, for instance, just because it’s cheap and you want to keep on track.
“There are always tradeoffs, but having a budget will help you manage the choices,” Miller says.
2. Shop Where the Pros Shop
Not to dis big-box stores; they’re great for many things. But you have to know what you’re getting into, says Gary Rochman, owner of Rochman Design Build in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Heeding the siren call from the big-box store can oftentimes go wrong. You’re not getting the service and the professional advice you’d need, especially if you’re a DIYer.”
For example, he says, “You might purchase treated lumber for an outdoor deck, but no one tells you the nails you bought aren’t for outdoor purposes. At a lumberyard, they’ll let you know those two items don’t go together.”
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By: Jamie Wiebe
DIY gone wrong is your worst nightmare. Sleep better with these tips to master DIY know-how.
New backsplash? You’ve done it. Upgrading a faucet? No problem. You’re a DIY master. But what about that electrical issue? Or fixing a leaky roof? Even though you (and your BFF, YouTube) have pulled off many DIY projects, you know there are projects you’ve no business trying on your own. But what about those projects that fall somewhere in between “I got this” and “I’m calling the pros”? How can you know if a project is really DIYable for you?
For Lucas Hall, finding that answer has been trial and error. As a “DIY landlord” for more than two years and founder of Landlordology, an online resource for landlords, he’s gutted three homes and renovated countless others.
“I’m just handy enough to be dangerous,” Hall says.
He’s suffered more than his fair share of DIY disasters. With each, he’s learned a valuable lesson about his own limits, as well as how he can do better next time.
Think 10 Steps Ahead
When Hall updated a tiny kitchen in one of his rentals, he installed a brand-new, expensive fridge — and then built a peninsula countertop extension.
“We thought it was the greatest idea,” he says. But adding the peninsula narrowed the space in front of the refrigerator, making it impossible to remove without lifting it entirely up and over the extension. (Ever tried to lift a fridge?)
“I’m just praying the fridge doesn’t die on me, because I’m going to have to hire four or five burly guys to get it out,” Hall says. “Or just Sawzall the thing in half.”
DIY lesson: Measure once, measure twice, measure again, and think through every possible scenario before changing a room’s layout.
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By: Amy Preiser
That tape measure you have? It’s probably all wrong.
Those spare Allen wrenches and $1 tape measure from Ikea aren’t going to cut it if you’re making real home improvements.
Here are the nine essential tools you need to start hammering out great projects:
#1 Two Hammers
You know you need a hammer. Duh.
But Beth Allen, a licensed contractor and DIY instructor, is about to blow your mind: You don’t need a hammer. You need two.
A lightweight hammer is important for more delicate projects, like adding trim to a bookcase (without the fear of splitting said trim) or putting a nail into drywall.
“Heck, I’ve used a shoe for that kind of hammering,” says Allen, which gives you an idea of how lightweight we’re talking. “You can even use the floral hammer that comes in those ‘lady’ toolsets.”
But don’t let that be your only one: You’ll need a heavy-duty hammer for nailing into studs or putting a big anchor in the wall.
She recommends fiberglass over wood for avoiding intense vibrations in your hand while crushing your first project (figuratively, we hope).
#2 A Long, Sturdy Tape Measure
What’s wrong with your trusty Ikea measuring tape? “It must be at least 25 feet!” Allen says.
“That move where you measure partway, run out of tape, and have to use your toe as a placeholder? Nope, nope, nope.”
Take it from a pro: That measurement-fudging dance causes miscalculations that can run you big bucks in mistakes — we’re talking, like, realizing those freshly delivered kitchen appliances don’t actually fit in their designated spots. Whoops.
A grown-up measuring tape that’s long, wide, sturdy, and equipped with a solid locking mechanism.
You want one made of steel, which conveniently is the most widely available option. And make sure to invest in one with red rectangles every 16 inches, which is the standard width between wall studs.
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