Using your handyman skills to conquer home improvement projects saves you money and gives you the pride of a job well done. But while you’re busy using your own motivation and elbow grease to increase your home’s value, you will also run into plenty of messes, frustrations and time-wasters.
The right kind of help goes a long way when you’re looking to avoid home improvement headaches. But while “help” from the kids might turn into more mess than progress (see photo), these 5 home improvement tips will help you sail through your next DIY project like a pro, using things you already have around the house.
Read on to see how!
1. How to Install a Cabinet Latch in Just the Right Spot
Everything breaks sooner or later, including the latches on the cabinet doors in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and garage. Buying a new latch is simple enough, but the job can turn into a real annoyance if you don’t line the parts up just right.
Line the “male” and “female” parts up wrong, and you’ll find yourself drilling multiple holes and cursing under your breath.
Here’s a quick, painless way to line the parts up perfectly and get the job done in a jiffy:
What you’ll need:
- A drill
- A new latch kit with screws included
- A basic household sponge
- Lipstick, liquid foundation, or a liquid antacid such as milk of magnesia or Pepto Bismol™
- Hold the “female” part up to the spot on the inside of the cabinet door where you want to attach it, and use a pencil to mark where the insides of the screw holes rest against the door.
- Drill the holes and attach the “female” part to the cabinet door.
- Cut 2 corners off of a basic household sponge (ladies: the sponge tips on cheap eyeshadow applicators also work perfectly).
- Insert the sponge pieces into the holes on the “male” part, with most of the sponge facing towards the side that will attach to the cabinet.
- Connect the “male” and “female” parts.
- Paint the tips of the sponge pieces with the antacid, lipstick or liquid concealer.
- Gently close the cabinet door, then open it again.
Voilà! Now you’ve got clearly visible marks that will show you exactly where you need to drill to attach the latch to your cabinet.
2. Use the “Magic” Straw Trick to Install a Toilet the Right Way
Installing a toilet can be a truly frustrating endeavor. Toilets are heavy and cumbersome, and are often wedged between the sink and the bathtub.
To install a toilet, you have lug the toilet across the bathroom, squeeze yourself into the area where the toilet will go, and then try to line the holes in the base of the toilet up with the screws that stick up from the floor.
It’s extremely difficult to see where the screws are while looking through those tiny holes in the toilet, so you’ll find yourself sweating and straining to hold the thing up while rotating the toilet this way and that, hoping to find the screws. And, if you’re using a wax seal, be prepared to ruin at least 1 or 2 when you don’t set the toilet down just the right way the first time. Argh!!
If this doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, there’s a much simpler way to go. All you need is a simple dinner straw to make your job a thousand times easier.
What you’ll need:
- A drinking straw
- Use the scissors to cut the straw in half.
- Place one straw half over each of the 2 fastener screws that are sticking up from the floor.
- Position the toilet so that the ends of the straws are below the holes in the base of the toilet, and lower the toilet down so that the straws poke up through the holes.
Success! The straws are easy to see, and will make guiding the screws into the holes a piece of cake.
3. Awesome Mess-Saving Painting Tricks
Painting is one of the least expensive ways to completely change the look of a room. Unfortunately, it’s also an easy way to make a huge mess.
Getting paint stuck under your fingernails and in your hair, dripping paint all down the sides of the can, and straining to open a paint can that has been glued shut by dried paint can all make you re-think your decision to start this job.
These painting tricks will help you avoid those pitfalls and make your job a lot easier.
What you’ll need:
- A large rubber band
- Aluminum foil
- Latex gloves
- Lotion, baby oil or cooking oil
- An old ball cap
- Before starting the job, cover your hair with an old ball cap, rub lotion or oil on your arms, and put on latex gloves. This will keep paint from sticking to your hair, skin and fingernails, and make your post-painting shower a snap.
- After you open the paint can, place a narrow band of aluminum foil around the top edges of the can, covering the grooves where the lid will go. This will prevent paint from dripping there and gluing the lid shut.
- Wrap the large rubber band around the can from top to bottom, so that the rubber band spans across the middle of the can’s opening. As you paint, wipe the sides of the paintbrush on the rubber band any time you need to remove excess paint from the brush. This will prevent drips on your trim, and keep paint from getting on the sides of the can (don’t forget to use a drop cloth too, of course).
Now you can re-style a room without making a massive mess. Yes!
4. The Easy Way to Avoid Splintering when Drilling Wood
Your drill is one of the handiest tools in your handyman arsenal. But when you have to drill certain types of wood, especially trim, you can end up with messy splintering around the margins of the hole, and that can really spoil the job.
Here’s a simple way to prevent splintering and get the job done right.
What you’ll need:
- Painter’s tape or masking tape
- Sharp, high-quality drill bits
- Put a piece of tape on the spot where you will be drilling.
- Smooth the tape down well.
- Mark your spot, and drill.
The tape will hold the edges of the hole in place as you drill, and prevent splintering. Problem solved!
5. How to Pound in a Nail without Pounding Your Fingers
Hammering in a nail is one of the most basic DIY skills. Unfortunately, even the most experienced home improvement guru can miss and pound his or her fingers, especially if the nail is in a hard-to-reach spot.
This simple DIY tip will help you save your digits while you hammer in those nails.
What you’ll need:
- A clothespin or a comb
- Wedge the top of the nail, just below the head, in between the comb’s teeth, or pinch it with the clothespin.
- Hold the nail in position with the comb or clothespin as you hammer it in.
Use this simple trick to finish your next home improvement job with 10 pain-free fingers!
And the Bonus Trick…
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(Photo By Aqazi1411)