As a homeowner, there are probably several projects you would love to undertake in your home without having to call a contractor. However, you may feel like you don’t have the necessary skills to get the job done right yourself.
There’s no need to worry—below we’ve listed our favorite tips and tricks to help you master the art of DIY home improvements with ease!
Get all the required tools
No DIY project is possible without the right tools. Every beginning DIYer should have a basic toolkit for the various projects around the house. Make sure to be equipped with these common tools:
- 20-inch handsaw – There are many types of hand saws to choose from. Go for a general purpose one that will be suitable for almost all kinds of jobs.
- Claw hammer – The weight will depend on the type of work, but a 16-ounce hammer will handle tasks of medium weight. You can pick a lighter or heavier hammer if the need arises.
- Stanley knife – This type of knife is razor sharp and will typically get the job done. Always make sure the blade is sharp and that you have spare blade ready.
- Junior hacksaw – It will be useful for sawing wood or metal. E.g., trimming window blinds and metal pipes.
- Carpenter’s pencil – You can use it for marking out to avoid mistakes. The pencil should always be sharp to ensure accurate markings.
- Set of screwdrivers – One screwdriver can’t tackle every job. You’ll need 5 or 6 of them, each for a particular crew size. The common types of screwdrivers you should have include phillips head, flat head and an allen wrench. The torx drive and Robertson are less common, so they can be left out of basic tool kits.
- Cable cutters and strippers –Cable cutters will come in handy when you want to cut wires and you can use the strippers to strip electrical cables.
Carpentry DIY Tips and Tricks
Carpentry skills will be required for a fair amount of home projects. We might not be able to transform everyone into a professional carpenter, but we can share our favorite advice and tips to make the job a bit easier.
Make a Simple Bench With Materials on Hand
When you use a miter saw to cut unsupported stock, you are going to face a lot of problems because the saw will move all over the place. You can choose to buy a miter bench, but it can be expensive and not very user-friendly. The alternative is to build your own customized miter table.
The main parts include a plywood base for the miter saw to be placed and two spacers, each on either side of the miter saw to hold it into place.
You’ll also need: Miter saw, circular saw, jack plane, screws, clamps, screw countersink bit and a tape measure and lumber: 5/8″x4’x8′ sheet of pine plywood and 1″x6″x8’ pine.
- Measure the plywood tops and base and cut – Make sure the table is wide enough to accommodate the saw. Also, ensure that the distance of the gap between the right side and left side spacers is equal to the length of the saw.
- Cut the spacers – Measure the distance between the miter saw bed and the plywood bottom. The distance should be equal to the height of the space boards.
- Screw in the spacers on the plywood base – Screw in the right side spacer first. Place the miter saw on the table pushing it against the right side spacer. Screw in the left side spacer against the saw such that it allows space for removing the saw but not enough space for it to wiggle.
A Simple Framing Formula
Estimating the framing materials that you will need for walls doesn’t need to be rocket science. Regardless of the number of doors, corners or windows the wall will have, you will never go wrong with these steps.
- Measure one wall from corner to corner on the floor plan. Make sure to use the right scale factor.
- To get the measurements in inches, multiply the total number of feet in the wall by 12.
- To get the number of studs you will need for the wall, divide the number you get above by either 24 or 16 (this will depend on the stud spacing you will use) and add one stud to accommodate the end of the wall.
- For every window or door opening, add four more studs.
- Repeat the entire process for the remaining wall.
Use Nippers When Pulling Nails
Whenever you are doing trim carpentry, it is important to have nippers on hand. Finish trim is very valuable, and it is important to preserve it at all costs. You should, therefore, pull the nails out from the back side to minimize damage to the trim. All you need to do is grab the back side of the nail with the nippers and then level the nail out.
It’s easy for exact measurements to slip your mind when completing a DIY project. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to forget these crucial details in carpentry. A simple way to keep your measurements in one place is to jot down the measurements on a piece of masking tape and stick it on your tape measure.
Use Your Pencil Instead of Tape
Use your tape measure only when you have to when preparing trim. Measuring is good, but there can be a high chance of you making mistakes. Instead of measuring, you can hold the trim in the position you intend to place it and use a pencil to mark the point to cut. You can also use this method when laying shingles, siding and framing.
Painting techniques and tips
A good paint job can update the look of your home and is simple enough to do yourself. However, achieving the perfect professional finish can be quite elusive. The following tips and techniques will go a long way in ensuring that your work goes a lot faster and smoother.
Avoid Ugly Stripe Marks
When you roll over partially dry paint, ugly lines will appear due to the uneven layers of paint. These are referred to as stripe marks. The secret to avoiding them is keeping a “wet edge” to ensure that a stroke overlaps the preceding one before the paint starts to dry.
If you want to maintain a wet edge, begin painting near a corner making sure to roll up and down along the entire height of the wall. Move over slightly after each stroke. You can still move backwards if some thick runs or spots need to be evened out. The open side of the roller frame should be facing the painted area always. It minimizes the pressure exerted on that side thus avoiding paint ridges.
Mix Several Cans of Paint in a Large Bucket
Each can of paint may have a slightly different color than the next. If you plan to use several cans of paint in a single room, the inconsistency is easily noticeable. Mixing all the paint in a single bucket will eliminate the problem. This technique is referred to as boxing. If it’s not easy to estimate the amount of paint, you can use more instead of less since the excess can still be poured back into the can.
Never Paint Over Dirty Surfaces
Dirty or oily surfaces lead to poor adhesion, which leads paint to easily peel in time. Before painting, clean the soiled areas using a heavy-duty cleaner designed for pre-paint cleaning or a de-glosser. They can clean varnished, painted or enameled surfaces. They can also clean up greasy and oily areas.
Sand Trim Before Applying Another Coat
Applying a layer of paint over another won’t necessarily hide the previous coat on trim. If you don’t smoothen the surface before applying another coat of paint, you will have a grainy finish. Use a sanding sponge to make sure to sand trim before adding another coat of paint to maintain a smooth finish. It will enable you to reach the crevices sand paper cannot.
All homes can use an update every once in awhile. Mastering the art of DIY home improvements will allow you to complete more projects for less, while giving you the satisfaction of perfecting your home yourself. Quickly become a DIY pro with our tips and tricks—and don’t forget to stop by any of our locations for more expert advice for your specific project!