Our team of experts uses just about every tool and material out there. Some of these products become immediate favorites because they work so well to solve common DIY challenges. Here's a collection of our experts' “Top 10” problem-solving tools and materials that every DIYer should know about.
If you're tired of pulling
weeds from between
stones or pavers, here's a solution.
Replace the old sand
with polymeric sand. It's just
sand mixed with a glue-like
polymer. When wetted, the
polymer binds the sand, holding
it in place and creating a weed resistant
barrier. Just be careful to clean the sand off the face of
the pavers or stones before wetting it.
Polymeric sand is available at landscape
suppliers and some home centers for about
$12 for a 50-lb. bag.
Traditional twist-on wire connectors
can be a bother to install. The
wire ends have to be held in perfect
alignment while you twist on the
connector. And then you have to
fit all those wires and connectors
neatly into the box.
Try push-in connectors instead.
They're simple to use and almost
fool-proof. Just strip the wires to the
length recommended on the package
and press each wire end into
a separate hole in the connector.
You'll find push-in
connectors ($25 for 200) at
home centers and online.
Let's face it. Sometimes it's too much
work to remove old exterior paint down
to bare wood. Zinsser's Peel Stop and
XIM's Peel Bond ($22 and $32 a gallon,
respectively) are two clear, binding
primers that are formulated to seal the
edges of paint and prevent peeling. It's
a good solution for painting over an
area that you've scraped, but that has
patches of sound paint you don't want
to peel later.
Is the tire flat every time you go to use your wheelbarrow? Do you use your
wheelbarrow on construction sites where nails can be a problem? If so,
then you need a “flat-free” wheelbarrow tire. Flat-free
tires are filled with foam or made of urethane
so they never need air and won't
go flat if you run over a nail.
You can also buy flat-free tires
to fit lawn mowers, handcarts and lawn
tractors. Expect to
spend about $30 for
a wheelbarrow tire.
Find flat-free tires at
home centers and
Old-fashioned “butterfly”-type toggle bolts are a pain to install.
Toggler brand Snaptoggles is a vast improvement. Just drill a
hole and slip the metal toggle in. Then slide the retainer along
the plastic strips until it's snug to the wall and snap off the
strips. With the metal toggle mounted on the wall, it's easy
to attach whatever you want by simply screwing in the
included bolt. Look for Snaptoggles
(about $1 each) near drywall anchors in home
centers and hardware stores.
Engineered studs are worth the premium price when wavy walls
can wreck your project. Because engineered studs are
made of laminated lumber or finger-jointed lumber,
they're perfectly straight and more stable than
standard studs. Plus, they're available in long
lengths for extra-tall walls. They don't come
cheap, though. An 8-ft. laminated strand
lumber (LSL) stud from LP Building
Products costs about $8. Ask for
engineered studs at your local
lumberyard or home centers.
You may have
An electrical box that can be adjusted
until it's flush with the wall is a perfect
solution when you're thinking
about adding tile or paneling but
aren't sure how thick the finished wall
will be. Turning a screw in the Carlon box shown here
moves the box in and out and allows
you to fine-tune the box position after
you've completed the wall covering.
Adjustable-depth boxes cost a little
more than regular boxes ($2 to $2.50
each) but can be worth every penny.
Premium construction screws have a
few big advantages over the drywall
screws we've all been using for years.
Most have improved head designs: tight-fitting hex, Torx or
Spider head driver bits. This eliminates
the annoying tendency of Phillips head
screws to strip out or slip off the bit.
Premium construction screws are also
less brittle than drywall screws, so they
won't break off as easily, and they're
coated to resist corrosion. There are several brands
including GRK, Spax and FastenMaster.
Nothing beats two-part epoxy wood filler for rebuilding
moldings or other architectural elements that have missing
or damaged parts. The most common brand is Abatron's
WoodEpox. When mixed, WoodEpox has a consistency like
Play-Doh that allows you to hand-mold it into the approximate
shape of the damaged part. It'll stay put and
you can shave it, carve it and when completely cured, sand and plane
it like wood. Find a local WoodEpox retailer or purchase
online from abatron.com.
several modern paints that combine the best advantages of
water-base and oil paints for a smooth finish on woodwork
without fumes or tough clean up.
Two popular examples
and Benjamin Moore's
Interior Alkyd. Like any
superior paint product,
these aren't cheap.
Expect to pay about
$45 a gallon. But if
it's a smooth, durable
paint job you're after,
water-base alkyds are
worth every penny.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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