11 Helpful Tips for Homeowners and DIYers
These DIY tips will help you fix it, maintain it and improve it.
A better way to replant
When I bring home new flowers or shrubs for my garden, I avoid yanking them out of their plastic pots by the stems because it can hurt the plants. Instead, I use a sharp knife to cut down two or more sides of each pot to free the plant, being careful not to tear the roots when separating the soil from the container. — Leslie Poehler
Finding a place to hang a caulk gun on some ladders can be tough. And if you move the ladder a teeny bit, the caulk gun starts to swing and falls to the floor. I had a C-clamp handy, so I attached it to my ladder—now I have the perfect spot for my caulk gun. — Doug Whiting
Wire in the hole!
If you've ever used masonry screws to attach something to a block wall, you know you have to predrill holes for the screws. But concrete block is hollow and crumbly, and sometimes a screw won't tighten; it just spins inside the hole. To fix the problem, I back out the screw and put a piece of insulated wire inside the hole and drive the screw alongside it. Then I snip off the excess wire. Makes a nice, tight connection! — Josiah Grunwald
Wine rack towel holder
I have very little space to store fresh towels in my bathroom, so I used a wine rack. The wall over my toilet was pretty much wasted space, and the wine rack fits there perfectly. Plus, it looks really cool! Christy Beling
Hands-Free Door Trick
Need to go in and out the same door a bunch of times while carrying stuff? To keep the door from latching shut, I loop a rubber band around one doorknob or handle, then twist it once and loop it around the other knob. The rubber band holds the latch in. Now if the door closes, I can push it back open with my body whenever my hands are full. — Nick Paone
Easier vegetable planting
We have a really big vegetable garden and I'm getting older, so the less time I have to spend hunched over on my hands and knees, the better. When I'm ready to plant new vegetables, I set aside my trowel and grab my posthole digger. Just one or two plunges into the soil for each plant and I've got perfectly sized holes for all my crops! — Barbara McGrew
Protect Your Floor During Remodeling
Whenever you're remodeling, it's important to protect any uncarpeted floors from demolition debris and dropped tools. When canvas drop cloths aren't enough, I use 4 x 8-ft. sheets of 1/8-in. tempered hardboard, commonly called Masonite. Start by thoroughly vacuuming the floors so grit doesn't scratch the flooring under the hardboard. Then cut and lay down the hardboard and duct-tape the pieces together at the seams. If you'll be running the HVAC system during the remodel, be sure you don't cover grilles or registers. Finally, seal around the perimeter with masking tape so grit can't get underneath the hardboard at the edges. A sheet of 1/8-in. hardboard costs about $5 at home centers. — Gary Wentz, Editor-in-Chief For more on removing walls and windows, as well as other demolition tips, go to tfhmag.com/demotips
PVC pipe cement for PVC trim?
A reader asked whether you can use PVC plumbing cement to glue PVC trim boards together. You certainly can, but for some situations, there's a better option. The cement used for plastic plumbing pipes sets up in seconds, while PVC cement made specifically for trim takes several minutes to fuse—a major plus if you have a complicated glue-up and need more "open time" to get all your parts aligned and assembled. You probably won't find PVC trim cement at a local home center, but AZEK and Kleer are among the brands available at professional lumberyards and online.
Fix a broken phone charger
Charger cables for cell phones usually last only a few years before the insulation starts fraying on the ends. Replacement cables cost $8 to $30, but there's a cheaper solution. If the insulation is cracked but the copper wire inside is still intact, try covering the crack with a couple of layers of liquid electrical tape ($5 to $10 per bottle). Performix and Gardner Bender are two brands that get lots of positive reviews online. Just be sure not to let the cable touch anything until the liquid tape dries completely.
All-in-one paint and primer
Ever wonder if it's OK to skip the primer and use a "paint and primer in one"? The answer is yes for about 90 percent of DIY painting projects, according to John Gilbert at Behr. All-in-one products are not simply primer and paint mixed in a can. Special polymers were developed to make them sticky enough to use without a separate primer. Traditional primer is still best for metal, plastics and substrates like drywall and plaster with water stains or smoke damage. It's also recommended for woods like redwood or oak that contain tannins that might bleed through.
Are factory-reconditioned tools any good?
If you're looking to save money on power tools, consider going the "factory-reconditioned" route. Most of the time they're good-quality tools that somebody just changed their mind about after they opened the box, or they returned it because of a defect. These tools are sent back to the manufacturers, who fix whatever's wrong with them and then sell them again at a discount. "The product is good and often comes with a warranty," says Jason Swanson of Techtronic Industries, makers of Ryobi and Ridgid power tools. "All of our refurbished tools are inspected and rebuilt as needed by trained technicians." You'll find factory-reconditioned tools online at sites like cpooutlets.com, directtoolsoutlet.com and acmetools.com.
Misfiring gas nailer
If you own a cordless gas nailer, you know how convenient it is. But that convenience quickly gives way to aggravation when it starts acting up. If you can hear the fan running on your nailer, but it only fires intermittently when you pull the trigger, don't take it to the repair shop—new gas may be all you need! Fuel cells have a "best used before" date printed right on the can. Old fuel cells lose internal pressure over time, so manufacturers recommend buying only as much fuel as you need to finish the job. You can buy new ones for about $12 to $15 at home centers.