Many DIY projects are not ones you would choose. Your house chooses them for you: the clogged toilet, the broken dryer, the lawn that needs to be rescued, etc. But there are also the projects you do because you’ll love them. And the best of these DIY projects are fast, cheap and easy. Here are some of our all-time favorites—ones we’ve done in our own homes and among the most popular we’ve ever published:Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
Cabinet Rollouts. No project will add more convenience and organization to your home, short of moving and buying a bigger one. Rollouts actually steal some of your cabinet space, but they make every inch accessible, so the trade-off is well worth it. This is especially true for low cabinets where the stuff in back is essentially gone for good. You can build them for your kitchen, bath, even your workshop and garage, and in a weekend you could build a bunch. Trust me, you’ll fall in love with them—I have! Learn more about cabinet rollouts.
Vinyl Composition Tile. How can you beat a flooring that’s cheap, easy to install and almost bombproof? If you can trowel on adhesive, you can lay vinyl composition tile (VCT). It comes in interesting (though somewhat old-fashioned) colors that you can use to create checkerboard patterns, borders and whatnot. We’ve had it in our kitchen through two boys, a large dog and one somewhat messy cook, and it’s still going strong.
Travis Larson, one of our Senior Editors, has it in his garage shop, where it stands up to brake jobs, fiberglass and other rough work. And if you damage one tile, just pull it up and put in a new one. There’s a reason this stuff is standard-issue in schools and hospitals. It doesn’t hold a shine like modern “no-wax” vinyl, but if you like a matte finish, it’s perfect. Learn how to use VCT to lay a vinyl tile floor.
High Garage Shelf. Most people need more storage space in their garage. And often you can find that space up near the ceiling, all the way around the garage. Just put a shelf there, and you can store all sorts of (fairly light) stuff: holiday decorations, seasonal clothes, sports gear, you name it. You can make the shelves “nice” out of stained plywood with solid wood edging, like these garage storage shelves or make them functional, from 2x2s and inexpensive plywood, like this practical garage organization system.
Here’s a tip: If you need to support the edge of a long shelf, screw eye bolts into the shelf and a truss in the ceiling, and connect them with lightweight chain.
Motion Detector Lights. Everyone knows motion detector lights are good for outdoor security, but they’re great indoors, too. Put one on a laundry room light, so it goes on automatically when you enter with your hands full (and goes off automatically, too). Put one on the switch in a room that you don’t go into much, like a spare bedroom, and it’ll guarantee that the light never gets left on. And my favorite use: lighting up dark stairways, making them much safer. The product I’ve used successfully is called Mr. Beams Stick Anywhere Night Lights. It costs $40, takes only two minutes to install, and could save you or someone you love from a trip to the emergency room.
An Easy Outdoor Bench. Just about everyone can use a small outdoor bench, and you can make one in half a day or so. The design of this inexpensive wooden bench uses only two boards and is a great project to do with a youngster. This garden bench is another one of our favorites. In fact, we have one outside our office and we use it every day. For my tired old back, which has seen both too much lifting and too much sitting, it’s a darned comfortable bench.
— Ken Collier, Editor in Chief