Fixing up your house can bring great joy, and also personal satisfaction when you pitch in and DIY some of the tasks. But proper preparation is key to getting things done right. Take a short cut and you’ll likely end up with a project that that takes longer, costs more, looks like it was DIY’d and hurts more than your bank balance along the way.
Measure thrice, cut once
It’s the oldest tip in the book when it comes to renovation and it’s every bit as important as you think it is to make sure you have the right measurements before you start up that power saw. In fairness, the rule is typically, “Measure twice.” But let’s face it: Some of us need a little more assurance. If you’re not super skilled at using power tools, if you have tricky cuts to make, or if you’re doing anything with mitered corners or involving angles, do yourself a favor and take one more look before you slice away.
Buy more materials than you actually need
It can be incredibly tempting to buy only what you think you need when it comes to flooring materials, backsplash tile, or wall coverings, in an effort to save money. But problems can arise for a variety of reasons – some of the tiles are cracked, you cut some of the wallpaper incorrectly, some of the wood for the floors is warped, you didn’t account for all the cuts you have to make when measuring the space – and soon you don’t have enough materials to finish the job.
You can always order more, but now you’re behind schedule. And, you may run into additional problems with your flooring if the new pieces don’t precisely match the existing ones because they’re not from the same batch. That’s why experts recommend that when you purchase your materials, you add 20% to the actual measurements. It may add a few bucks to your bottom line, but it will save your butt in the long run.
Invest in some quality tools
You’re an adult now. You can have a real hammer and a drill and a pair of needle nose pliers. If you’re just setting out on your own or it’s time to do a little tool upgrade, This Old House has some good tips for what tools to buy.
Try it before you install it
The well-meaning contractor who installed this faucet forgot about one thing: The space needed to actually wash your hands. Installing the faucet too close to the sink left insufficient space, so hand-washing is reduced to an awkward placement and cupping/pouring exercise. Before you drill those holes, give it a test run!
Buy the right ladder, and use it properly
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), there are “more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders.” In addition, “Falls from ladders are the leading cause of deaths on construction sites, and, “The number of people who have died from falls from ladders has tripled” over the last decade.
If you’re thinking those falls must have been from a roof or tall commercial building site, here’s more sobering news: “Most ladder deaths are from falls of 10 feet or less.”
You can check the InterNACHI site for basic ladder safety tips, but the most important thing to remember is this: Use your common sense. Use the ladder properly, don’t balance on the paint tray, don’t overextend the weight limit, make sure it’s in proper working order – you know, the basics.
Glove up, glasses on
While we’re talking safety, there are other measures you’ll want to take to protect yourself. The last thing you need is a nail through your hand or your eye or anywhere else, for that matter. Gloves and goggles are basic go-to’s. And if you’re doing your floors, think like a soccer player and get out those knee pads.
Between picture hangers and specialty nails and screws and laser levels, there are so many tools available to help you hang art that we should all have it nailed (pun intended!), right? Yet picture hanging remains one of the most frustrating tasks.
There are numerous tricks and tips that aim to help, but these are a few of our faves:
• “Use a little bit of toothpaste (yes, toothpaste),” said Quick and Dirty Tips. “Place a dab of toothpaste on the back of the frame on the hook or string (whatever will touch the nail). Then hold the frame up to the wall, position it carefully, and press it against the wall. The toothpaste will leave a mark that you can hammer a nail through, then wipe away.”
• “Instead of moving the photos up and down, place the photos on the floor and line up some tape from hanging point to hanging point,” said Diply.com. “Then mark each point with a dot. Next, put the tape on the wall and use a level to make sure it’s straight. Then use those dots to put in your screws, and hang!”
Keep the mess away
We love this easy tip for keeping the site clean when hanging photos or drilling/hammering into walls for any other reason. If you hate having to clean up afterwards…don’t. A sticky note is all you need.