'Tis the season for home improvement projects, and weekend warriors will soon be visiting home supply retailers to buy everything from paint to plywood. There are many advantages to making home improvements on your own, including the opportunity to test your mettle at projects big and small.
Many a novice DIYer has learned the ups and downs of home improvement through trial and error. But the following are a handful of lessons first-timers can heed before beginning their maiden voyages into the world of DIY home improvements.
• Measure twice, cut once. Perhaps this is the best-known mantra of home improvement, yet many still ignore it. Whether you're anxious to get started or simply because you still cannot convert metric to standard formula, you must take the time to measure twice before cutting. Learning that you're a hair too short later will be prove frustrating and time-consuming and often necessitates a last-minute run to the store for more materials. Always measure multiple times before making cuts.
• Enlist a helper. Having a partner helping with the work is the most efficient way to tackle a project. This person can assist you with heavy lifting or moving things or by holding the ladder or simply passing tools your way. He or she also can manage work while you make another run to the home center for more supplies. Having a helper around also provides companionship during tedious projects.
• Lighten the load. You run the risk of injury, both to yourself and your belongings, if you attempt to move heavy items on your own. When moving heavy items, take steps to lighten your load. For example, empty or remove drawers from desks and dressers before moving them. Rely on sliding pads when moving furniture so items can be slid into place instead of lifted. Always ask a buddy to help move especially heavy items.
• Prime before painting. Painting can be a time-consuming task. In an effort to save time, some people will look for painting shortcuts, and these may include skipping the priming portion of painting. Priming helps to cover existing paint color and prevent bleed-through of stains or darker hues to the next coat of paint. Failure to use a primer could mean having to paint coat after coat, which can become costly and take up a significant amount of time. Always rely on a priming product, or look for a paint that blends a primer within to achieve better coverage. And while you are ensuring a proper paint job, remember to use painter's tape or an edging product to help keep paint off of moldings and trim.
• Use the right tools. The right tools make work safer and easier. Think about how much faster you can cut through a tree trunk with a chainsaw rather than a handsaw. Improvising or using the wrong tools for the job can cost you time and increase your risk of injury.
• Turn electricity off at the panel box. Be especially cautious when working with electricity, turning off the current. This means shutting down the power on the breaker box. A live wire can provide a minor shock or lead to serious injury. Take the extra time to ensure the power is off before working with any exposed wiring.
• Expect the unexpected. Although many renovation projects go off without a hitch, you never know what you might uncover when you embark on repairs or remodels. Homeowners have come across all sorts of hidden problems when doing seemingly minor repairs. Removal of drywall may uncover insect damage in beams or indications of water infiltration. Some people take down old paneling, only to discover it was covering heavily damaged walls beneath. One repair project can run into another when home improvements are being made. Always leave breathing room in your budget and schedule extra time for unforeseen tasks as well.