DIY Home Improvement
Amazing Repair Products
Sometimes all it takes is the right product to make a quick and easy fix.
Two-part filler has to be mixed and it doesn’t rinse off with water, so it’s not as user friendly as other fillers. However, it’s much tougher and a much better choice for any hole bigger than a nail head, especially outdoors. And it’s not just for wood—you can patch metal, fiberglass—even concrete.
Natural or stained woodwork is beautiful, but scratches can really stand out—especially with darker stains. You can make these scratches disappear by touching them up with a stain marker. It’s simple to use, and much cheaper than buying whole cans of stain. Start with a lighter color, and if the scratch still shows, go over it with a darker shade. Unless the varnish is in bad shape and needs to be recoated, that’s usually all you have to do to make older woodwork look almost new again. If you need to replace whole pieces, learn how to finish and match the stain.
Texture Spray Cans
Sooner or later, every sprayed ceiling is going to get a water stain or a scrape. Spray texture in a can won’t perfectly match every ceiling texture, but it’s usually close, and a lot easier than respraying a whole ceiling. Before spraying, seal the patch with a stain-blocking primer, cover the floor and furniture, and practice your technique on scrap plywood or cardboard.
Two-part epoxy glue is rock-hard, fills huge gaps, bonds to almost anything and dries very quickly. Some brands now come with an applicator tip that automatically mixes the two parts so you can spread it like a regular glue, without mixing. It’s perfect for gluing irregular shapes and dissimilar materials to each other. Most epoxies set in five minutes, but you can buy quicker-setting types that allow you to just hold pieces in place for a minute, without any clamping.
Blend Fillers to Patch Laminate
If your laminate floor has a few chips, gouges or deep scratches, you’ll like this good news: Home centers carry fillers especially for laminate floors. There are colors intended for specific brands of flooring, but you don’t have to run around hunting for an exact match. With a little experimentation, you can blend colors for a nearly perfect patch. Different areas of the floor may require different mixes. Apply the filler with a plastic putty knife to avoid scratching the floor.
Self-Sticking Hole Patch
Rethreader in a Can
Murphy’s Law says you’re going to strip the threads on the last fastener of your latest repair project. Sure, you can get a larger fastener and drill and tap your way to the finish line. Or, you can clean the botched threads and fill the hole with 3M’s new Bondo Metal Fill No. 00256 ($15 at home centers and auto parts stores). Just jam the fastener into the filled hole and let the filler harden. Presto! Instant threads. Or you can completely fill the hole and start fresh by drilling and tapping new threads.
Epoxy Putty for Wood Repairs
This epoxy putty is perfect for small repairs to furniture or cabinets. It’s easy to use and makes a strong repair. Just slice off a chunk and knead it until it’s a uniform color. Then press the putty into the damaged spot. Let it harden a bit, usually about 15 minutes, until it’s about the consistency of soap. Then carve or shape it with a knife, rasp or sandpaper. After it fully hardens in about 60 minutes, you can sand the repair and finish it with paint or stain. KwikWood and Quickwood are two brands. You’ll find this repair putty at home centers and hardware stores for about $5 a tube.
The Glue-Anything Glue
Loctite GO2 Glue is an all-purpose glue that’s impact-, shock- and water-resistant and bonds most porous and nonporous surfaces. But it works best when at least one surface is porous. We gave the product a real-world test on a garage cabinet. The hinge screws had pulled completely out of the particleboard. We cleaned out the chipped area, peeled back the vinyl covering and filled the area with GO2 Glue. Then we set the screws into the glue and taped everything in place. Once the glue cured, we rehung the cabinet door and gave it a whirl. The hinge was like a rock. A 1.75-oz. bottle costs about $7 at hardware stores and home centers.
Deck Remodel in a Can
Epoxy Fillers Are Worth the Hassle
With so many one-part epoxy wood fillers to choose from, why mess with a two-part product? Stability, structural strength, adhesion, and most important—shrinkage. Unlike most one-part fillers, epoxy doesn’t shrink as it hardens. That means you can fill a deep crater or even rebuild a missing part without shrinkage cracks or adding layers of filler. So time spent mixing actually saves time later—and gives you better results. Products include Elmer’s Structural Wood Repair (elmers.com), WoodEpox (abatron.com) and Wood Restore Premium Epoxy Putty (jbweld.com). All of them are expensive ($25 for 12 oz.) and available at home centers. Most home centers also carry two-part fillers that are similar to auto body filler; they’re not a true epoxy. Like epoxy, they don’t shrink. But they’re harder to mix, harder to apply and much harder to sand.
Spray-On Crack Fix
If you’ve spackled, caulked, taped and skim-coated cracks in plaster walls and they still come back, try Good-Bye Cracks. Fill the cracks with joint compound, spray on three coats of Good-Bye Cracks to form an elastic “skin,” and then prime and paint. In our tests it has already lasted twice as long as anything else we’ve tried. If you don’t find it at a home center, just search online ($5 for a 4-oz. can).
Silicone Repair Tape
This tape is unique. It has no adhesive; it’s just pure silicone. When you wrap it around something, the silicone essentially welds to itself to form a single flexible unit. No gaps, no slipping and no end to come undone. Silicone tape is amazing stuff: It’s an electrical insulator and it resists just about everything (oil, solvents, acids, salt water). It’s heat-proof to 500 degrees F and flexible at arctic temperatures. You can use it to fix electrical cords, wrap cables on a trailer and make a heat-proof grip for a frying pan. There are stories of people using it to make gaskets, repair high-pressure hoses, and even make an emergency fan belt by wrapping the tape around rope. In short, it’s a miracle worker. It has only one drawback: the price. A 12-ft. roll, 1 in. wide, is about 10 bucks. One brand is Rescue Tape and it’s available online.
Quick-Setting Mud for Speedy Repairs
Keep a bag of this 20-minute setting-type joint compound around for patching and repairs. It’s great for small jobs because it sets up fast enough for you to apply two or three coats in a few hours. Unlike regular joint compound, which has to dry to harden, this stuff hardens by a chemical reaction that starts when you add the water. And within 15 or 20 minutes, it’s hard enough to shape with a rasp or coarse sandpaper, and recoat. It’s also handy for filling holes that are too deep to fill with regular joint compound. You’ll find 20-minute joint compound at home centers and drywall suppliers. It costs about $7 for an 18-lb. bag.
Long-Life Work Boots
If you’re a serious tradesman, you don’t buy a pair of boots because they’re on sale—you buy the boots that treat your feet the best, and sometimes that’s not cheap. Tuff Toe is a polyurethane adhesive that’s chemical- and water-resistant. It protects the toes of your boots from getting chewed up on rough surfaces like concrete or shingles. Tuff Toe is fast and easy to apply, and let’s face it—a comfortable pair of work boots is a construction worker’s best friend. If you could extend the life of your best buddies for only $20, you’d be crazy not to. Buy a kit and watch the application video at tufftoe.com.
Time-Saving Wall Patch
The last thing to be done on most remodel projects is to touch up the dings in the walls left by errant boards, tools and boots. It’s not a hard job: Slap on a little spackling compound, sand it down and hit it with a paint roller. The problem is, most spackling compound is so porous that you need two coats of paint to hide the patch, and who’s got time to watch paint dry? You can cut your downtime with 3M’s Patch Plus, a spackle/primer in one. It dries hard in 30 minutes, doesn’t shrink and requires only one coat of paint. As a bonus, it comes in a square 8-oz. container, perfect for a 3-in. putty knife. Buy it for $6 at home centers.