A light hearted look at the wonderful world of doing it yourself

Handy DIY Hints

by Chantal King

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Have you ever seen a room makeover on television and said to yourself, "I could do that"? Do you notice the crown moldings or the killer hardwood floors more than the plot of the movie your date dragged you to? Do you spend more at the hardware store than the grocery store? You may be a closet DIY handyman or do-it-yourselfer.

Here are some hints that you might be a DIY handyman:

  1. The television is automatically set on HGTV (the Home and Garden channel).

  2. You find yourself taking notes when an instructional video is playing.

  3. A visit to Lowe's or Home Depot is like Christmas morning.

  4. Tools get you excited.

  5. You find yourself arguing the merits of Phillips head vs. flathead screwdrivers.

  6. Your garage is more organized than your house.

  7. The best gift for your birthday was a year's subscription to "House Beautiful."

Okay, I could go on, but I think you know what I'm talking about. The initials DIY are a badge of honor. You would rather tackle a project than pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to do it professionally.

Yet there are some pitfalls enthusiastic DIY can plunge into faster than a burst water heater. Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you reach for the reciprocating saw:

  • Plan your project thoroughly before beginning.

  • Read all of the instructions first. Seriously. Those are not just "extra" parts left over from your latest kit.

  • Gather all the tools and materials you'll need before starting. Preparation is key.

  • Turn off the electricity before starting, unless you're up for an enlightening experience.

  • Avoid gluing your hands to the project with Super Glue, especially if you are alone.

  • Resist the urge to buy cheap paint. It will not cover as well, last as long, or stand up to everyday cleaning. And you'll be repainting much sooner than you'd like.

  • Don't pay outrageous fees for an interior decorator. Instead, call me. Seriously.

  • Unless you like lacy curtains or John Wayne memorabilia, don't let your spouse pick the theme. Find a theme you will both love.

  • Avoid dripping hot glue on any body parts.

  • Don't paint yourself into a corner. It's not so funny when it happens to you.

  • Do not staple yourself with an industrial stapler. It is hard to explain in the emergency room.

  • Be careful where you point a nail gun. (See above hint.)

  • Unless you feel like making a claim on your flood insurance, be sure to turn the water off before loosening the pipes under the sink.

  • Measure, measure, measure. Your tape measure is your friend.

  • Make sure you have the right tools and supplies for the job.

  • Get the proper permits before beginning a large project.

  • Don't skimp on materials to save a few dollars. You may have to pay big bucks later.

  • Prepare the walls before beginning to paint. Filling holes, sanding and priming are the basic steps to a quality paint job. It will last longer and look much better.

  • Never work in unsafe conditions.

  • Don't tackle a project that is beyond your limits. Know when to call in the pros.

Finishing a home improvement project on your own can be a satisfying experience. By following these tips, brought to you from personal experience, you can become an expert DIY handyman. Meet you at Home Depot! I've been drooling over a reciprocating saw there.

Take the Next Step:

  • Home improvements can be costly. For many projects, we can help you save. Just visit the Home Improvement section of the Dollar Stretcher Library before you start that next project.

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