By Gene And Katie Hamilton
Visitors to DIYORNOT have issues, homeowner issues, that is. While the site editors focus on the cost of home improvements and repairs, the visitors contribute their solutions to pesky problems doing upgrade to their home. Of the more than 300 tips we took at look at the most popular hints from homeowners who are in the DIY trenches taking care of annoying little repairs and planning new projects. We're not talking rocket science here these are common sense quick fixes and clever solutions that are easy on the budget.
1. Make your own gutter scoop. Cleaning gutters and downspouts is not a favorite job of anyone because it involves dragging out a ladder to remove soggy dead leaves and debris that accumulate and stop the flow of rainwater. That damages the foundation and encourage the growth of mildew especially on the not-so-sunny side of a house.
TIP: You can buy a plastic scoop to clean out gutters but a cheaper way is to make one using a quart milk bottle that has a handle.
2. Remove grout haze. The final step of tiling any surface is applying grout to seal the space between tiles and provide a waterproof surface. That last phase can complete the job nicely or but often the grout looks more like a hazy bonding than a neat cutline.
TIP: To clean up most grout haze wait until the next day and polish with an old white or non-colored T-shirt. As long as it is cotton material it will work great.
3. Fence building by the code. Once you’ve made this mistake you’ll promote it with every homeowner you know who is considering building a fence to enclose their property. Plan ahead and take this advice.
TIP: Before planning for a new fence and digging fence post holes, check with your local building department to find out what the required depth for post holes is. The depth depends on the frost line (how deep the ground freezes) in your area. There may be other restrictions about the height of the fence or how close it can be to your neighbor's property so get the information before you begin.
4. Cheap garden path. You’re not creating a walkway through a primrose path, you just want a durable walking surface maybe to the garbage cans or garage. You don’t need a lovely brick walkway, you want a serviceable path that doesn’t cost a fortune. Here’s one reader’s success story.
TIP: We bought broken up concrete for $75.00 a dump load and used it like flagstones - absolutely beautiful and cheap.
5. Sizing a deck. This might seem like a simple idea but it’s not. Here’s a way to visualize a deck before you take the next step of building a deck or having one built by a contractor. While this may seem kinda silly and your neighbors will wonder what you’re doing (ours did) you’ll be surprised what a simple way this is to help you visualize a deck and all the furnishings you’re considering.
TIP: To help visualize how a deck will look use some low-tech visual aids like garden hoses and rope to outline the area you're planning. Put furniture, grill and anything else within the outline and see if the space is big enough to pull out chairs and move around.
6. Recycle sheets for drop cloths. If you have painting projects – anything from a small piece of furniture to the walls and ceilings in a room – you can’t have enough drop cloths. While those you buy are nice and heavy, they’re pricey too. Old sheets can be a good substitute to protect a surrounding surface or drape over bushes and plantings if you’re working outdoors.
TIP: When we're painting I use old bed sheets and lightweight blankets for dropcloths inside the house to protect furniture and
7. Stop pests with foam. Foam insulation in a spray can is designed to seal gaps to prevent cold or warm air from infiltrating into cracks and crevices of a house. That sealing power also works to discourage spiders, bugs and other unwanted pests.
TIP: I was having spiders, ants and mice invade my garage and stopped them with an insulating foam sealer at the cracks and gaps.
8. Lube for garage door. It’s big, it’s heavy and it’s very annoying when it doesn’t operate property. Just like the Tin Man, a garage door need a few squirts of lubricant to keep it opening and closing.
TIP: Keep a garage door chain and hinges working with a lithium grease lubricant because it will stick to the mechanism better than a mult-use lubricant.
9. Remove wallpaper in tight spots. A scraper designed to remove large sections of wallpaper makes the job go surprisingly fast, but the devil is in the detail. What about getting at the corners and tight spaces of wallpaper where it’s difficult to reach.
TIP: To remove wallpaper from hard to reach areas, use a hand-held spray bottle to wet the wallpaper. Squirt water on the paper to soak the area. You may have to do this a few times until the paper loosens and you can get a scraper under it to scrape it off the wall.
10. Prevent weeds between bricks. Weeds growing between the bricks of a patio or walkway can be an ongoing problem. Their roots are deeply embedded in the soil and often it seems hopeless to remove them. Here’s an earth-friendly solution without harmful chemicals.
TIP: In the spring I keep weeds from growing between the bricks in my patio with a dusting of 20 Mule Team Borax. I sweep it offI sweep it off the bricks and into the grooves. I try to do it right before it rains so the powder seeps in and soaks into the soil.