10 DIY Projects for Your New Home

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- If you have moved recently, preparing the home to suit your tastes and fixing minor damages is undoubtedly a stressful and expensive process. And after shelling out money for a down payment, you may not have enough cash left for a major gut-renovation. However, a few DIY projects here and there can certainly tailor your home to fit your style and frugally take care of small home repairs. From painting to flooring to installing lighting fixtures and kitchen faucets, we asked experts to share step-by-step tips on completing some fast and easy DIY projects.

1. Fixing Broken Floor Tiles

Upon moving in, you may notice slight damage to some of the floor tiles, and if the original owner isn't willing to fix or replace them, the job is now up to you.

"If the floor below has a structural problem, there is no easy fix, and the floor should be properly repaired by a professional company," says Frank Foti, business management advisor for Mr. Handyman.

But if we're talking about a minor chip or scratch in the tile, Foti tells us repairing the crack may be the best solution for a homeowner in a bind.

"For this you'll need paint that matches your broken tile and tile filler (which can be purchased at any home center). Mix the two together, fill the crack and gently wipe the area with a damp sponge or cloth. The crack may not completely disappear, but if done correctly it should be virtually unnoticeable from a distance," he says.

2. Sprucing Up Kitchen Appliances

Unless you're moving into a new construction, chances are the appliances have been used before. But if they're still working properly, there's no need to replace them -- you can clean them and fix the scratches or dents. Steve Ash, senior repairman at PartSelect.com, shares these tips on getting those kitchen appliances into shape:

  • Replace your refrigerator's water dispenser and ice maker filters as soon as you move in. You never know how old the current filter is. For most models, this is as easy as turning the filter one quarter inch and popping it out or locking it in place.
  • Cover scratches and dings on your appliances with manufacturer-recommended touch-up paint, but pay attention to colors! There’s a surprising difference between "Bisque" and "Almond."
  • Look for areas on your dishwasher racks where the vinyl coating is worn, exposing the metal wire underneath, as this can cause the racks to rust. Use a vinyl repair kit to re-coat the damaged areas before they become full of rust. Dishwasher racks are typically expensive, so maintaining the coating can help save money.
  • Clean your range hood with dish soap. Vinegar and baking soda can also make a great abrasive cleaner.

3. Cabinet Scratches

Even though kitchen cabinets are subject to wear and tear, you can still extend the life of the cabinets with some quick maintenance.

"At home improvement stores, you'll notice a few products available to cover chips and scratches in cabinets. These products are basically 'crayons' that allow you to 'color in' the problematic areas in your cabinets," advises Foti.

He suggests using the 'crayon' by simply filling in the chip or scratch. "It won't make the problem go away, but it will make the chip or scratch much less noticeable."
 
4. Cabinet Knobs

Who knew cabinet knobs could be this complex, but here's Foti's explanation: "There are two types of cabinet knobs: A knob with a screw attached to it and a knob with a hole attached. Repairing a broken knob with a screw attached to it is relatively simple."

He says the cause of the problem is that the hole has become too big for the screw and the threads have nothing to grip to. Foti says the solution to repair the hole is simple:

  • Take the ends of a matchstick or two and cut them to size
  • Glue them into the hole
  • Once the glue is dry, screw the knob back into the cabinet.

5. Cabinet Doors

If your home inspector overlooked a broken cabinet door, hiring someone to fix it will add up. "When a cabinet doors breaks, the first step is to diagnose exactly what broke. Is it the hinge, or the cabinet door itself? If it's the hinge, this needs to be replaced. Most home centers have a wide assortment of different cabinet hinges in stock," Foti tells MainStreet.

In the event you can't find the proper hinge in the store, Foti recommends contacting the cabinet company to see if you can purchase a new hinge.
 
6.  Painting a Trim
 
When painting, it's the smaller areas that matter -- like the door trims, which can be rather difficult to paint. Joe Kowalski, training manager at Glidden, offers the following tips for creating the perfect look for your door:

  • Give the door a quick wash and rinse -- be sure the area dries completely before you start painting.
  • Cover the metal hinges to prevent them from getting covered in paint –- a few coats of rubber cement should do the trick. Use tape to protect the doorknob, lock and any other hardware as well.
  • Begin by painting the frame, making sure to work up from the inside bottom, across the top and down the other side.
  • This is done best with a 2" to 2.5" angled brush. When you start on the door, use a 4" brush or foam roller.
  • Kowalski also recommends the use of quality nylon or polyester bristle brushes.
     

7. Table Legs

When moving into a new home, you may have worked out a deal with the previous homeowner where they'll throw in some of their furniture. And while free furniture is great for the new owner, there's no guarantee the furniture will be in tip-top shape. Foti offers some simple instructions for fixing a damaged table leg:

  • Determine where the gap is occurring between the floor and the leg. Measure the distance between the two. Most professional handymen will recommend using a wine cork to fill in the gap, since it won't scratch the floor.
  • Cut the cork to the size of the gap
  • Finally, use wood glue to fasten the cork onto the leg

8. Correcting Termite Damage

While you've probably had a termite inspection before signing the contract of your new home, this doesn't mean areas of the house are free of past termite damage. Jackie Johnson, technical service specialist at Bondo Brands offers the following tips for fixing wood doors and frames from termite damage:

  • Clean the surface with warm, soapy water to remove dirt, wax, oil and grease. Allow this area to dry.
  • Sand the area to remove all primer, paint, loose rotted wood or rust extending one to two inches beyond the damaged area. Remove all dust created from sanding. Re-clean the surface as advised in the previous step.
  • Use the wood filler to spread an initial thin layer of filler over the repair area and allow ten minutes for the filler to dry.
  • Sand and shape the filled area to the contour of the surface. Feather the edge of the area until the surface is smooth.
  • Prime, paint or apply wood stain to the area per the manufacturer's recommendation.
  • Clean tools with acetone or lacquer thinner.

9. Re-Caulking

The bathroom is another area of the home that's easily susceptible to damage. Replacing old caulk is a simple and cost effective way to freshen up a sink, bathtub or shower.

"When you are replacing caulk in an area with water (a tub or shower), be sure to use waterproof or silicone caulk," advises Foti.

Additionally, Foti offers these simple suggestions for completing this caulking DIY project:

  • Properly remove the old caulk. Use a putty knife or razor blade to remove the bulk of it, then utilize mineral spirits and a scrubbing brush to remove any remaining caulk. Allow this area to dry completely.
  • Apply the new caulk with a smooth and steady motion being careful to not create buildup in any area. Wet your finger and run it
    over the bead with the same smooth motion to make it uniform in appearance.
  • Allow the caulk to dry for 24 hours.

10. Bathroom Fixtures
 
Replacing a damaged or old lighting fixture is an inexpensive, yet impactful way to update your bathroom. Manja Swanson, chief creative officer of Lamps Plus shares these tips with MainStreet:

  • For a quick fix replacing a bathroom light, select the same type, or at least a similar size as the existing fixture in order to avoid the cost of hiring an electrician.
  • Make sure to choose two wall sconces or a bath bar light (light above the mirror) that is large enough to illuminate both sides of your face evenly.
  • Position wall sconces or the bath bar light three to six inches above or to the side of the mirror, while being mindful of the mirror's height and your own height.

--By Scott Gamm

Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC and CNN. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.

Show Comments

Back to Top