One of the advantages of being a do-it-yourselfer (DIYer) is the ability to fix and repair minor home problems without having to spend your hard-earned money on a professional contractor. Follow this handyman’s guide, learn how to do four of the most common DIY home repairs, and save yourself time and money.
1. Buff Scratches Out of Your Stainless Steel Appliances
Stainless steel appliances are sleek and modern, but they can sometimes develop scratches, marring their appearance and giving them an unsightly, worn-out appearance. Fortunately, it’s an easy and inexpensive fix with the right tools.
Necessary general tools from stores like Contractors Direct & equipment needed:
- Sandpaper (600-grit, 500-grit, and 400-grit)
- Sanding fluid
- Sanding block
- Stainless steel polish
Observe your appliances closely to discern the fine lines on the surface and determine the stainless steel’s grain direction. If they appear vertical, your appliance has a vertical grain.
Once you know your grain direction, apply a small quantity of sanding fluid directly over the scratched area. Then use the finest sandpaper you have (highest grit number) and start sanding your appliance, following the grain direction. Sand over a small area first and double-check every few minutes to see whether the scratch is disappearing. If it isn’t, switch to coarse sandpaper (lower grit number) and try again until the scratch disappears. After buffing the scratches out, sand the rest of the surface until it blends with the spot you’ve sanded down, and then apply some stainless steel polish to restore your appliance’s shine.
2. Clean Your Gutters
Rain gutters protect your house foundations from rainwater damage. However, gutters frequently trap leaves, sticks, dirt, and other debris, forming clogs and allowing rainwater to creep under your roof, endangering your foundation. You should clean your gutters at least once a year. The best time to do so is between fall and winter after the trees have lost their leaves but before ice dams have a chance to form.
- Protecting equipment: long-sleeved shirt, protective gloves
- Extendable ladder
- Plastic gutter scoop or kitchen spatula
- Garden hose
Begin by placing a tarp on the ground, under your gutter. The tarp collects gutter debris, allowing you to throw it away without damaging your lawn. Ensure you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of protective gloves, and then install your extendable ladder at the correct height. Climb onto your ladder and use a plastic kitchen spatula or a gutter scoop to scoop the debris out and throw it into the tarp without scratching or damaging your gutter. After clearing your gutter, use a garden hose to flush what remains with water, and then dispose of the gutter waste in your compost bin.
3. Recaulk Your Bathtub
Caulk is a sealant that can fill small gaps and cracks between walls and furniture, preventing air and moisture from penetrating and causing damage. However, caulk only lasts about five years on average. If the caulk around your bathtub appears dark, discolored, or cracked, or has missing chunks, you need to recaulk it before it becomes a breeding ground for mold or mildew.
Equipment essentials include:
- Utility knife
- Putty knife
- Caulk gun and bathroom caulk
- Soft sponge
- Lint-free rag
- White vinegar
- Painter’s tape
- Ice cubes
Use a putty knife to scrape off the old caulk. Be careful and precise to avoid scratching your bathtub. Apply white vinegar onto your soft sponge and clean any remaining caulk residue. The vinegar breaks the caulk down, making it much easier to scrub away. Dry the working surface with a lint-free rag, and then let it sit overnight. Don’t reintroduce moisture to the bathtub; it must be as dry as possible before you start recaulking it. Use painter’s tape around the areas you plan to recaulk, leaving approximately ⅛” of space on either side. The tape will guide you and make cleanup easier. Insert the bathroom caulk into your caulk gun, and then start applying it to your seam.
Move at a steady pace and apply constant pressure, ensuring you deposit an even stream of caulk. If you move too slowly or apply too much pressure, the caulk may pool. However, if you go too fast, your caulk stream may break. Smooth out the caulk using an ice cube until the caulk looks concave and flush with your working surface. Caulk does not stick to ice, so it’s ideal for helping the caulk adapt to your joint’s shape. Remove the tape and wait 24 hours before using your bathtub again, giving the caulk enough time to cure.
4. Replace Cracked Floor Tiles
Have you spotted a chipped, cracked, or damaged tile on your floor? You can fix this yourself with a little time, a steady hand, and the right set of tile tools.
- Safety glasses
- Grout scraper
- Painter’s tape
- Drill/driver with 0.25″ bit
- Narrow chisel (⅜”) or a flat-head screwdriver
- Wide chisel (2″)
- Matching tile
- Adhesives: thinset mortar and pre-mixed grout
- Notched trowel (¼” square-notch)
- Grout float
- Grout sponge
Put on your safety glasses and use your grout scraper to remove the grout surrounding the damaged tile. Be careful not to gouge out undamaged tiles, especially if your grout channel is thin or if your flooring has small tiles. After de-grouting the damaged tile, use painter’s tape around the edges to protect the surrounding tiles. Use your drill to cut evenly spaced holes into each of the broken tile sections. Using your narrow chisel (or a flat-head screwdriver) and your hammer, tap the broken tile pieces out gently, starting from the center and working your way to the edges. Remove all tile chips and debris, and then use your wide chisel to scrape the old thinset from the substrate.
After cleaning up the broken tile emplacement, apply a small quantity of thinset mortar, just as you would in a regular tiling job. Use your notched trowel to spread and comb it down, and then set your fresh tile in place, pressing down as firmly as possible until it’s level with the other tiles. Let the thinset cure for approximately two hours. Once the thinset is dry and cured, apply fresh grout around the new tile with your grout float, wait 15 to 25 minutes to let it cure, and then clean off the excess with a grout sponge. Avoid disturbing the tile for approximately 24 hours, during which the grout will finish drying.
Become a Home Handyman
Developing your DIY skills lets you repair all kinds of minor issues in your home without breaking the bank. With the right tools, a bit of time, and a careful touch, you may find it surprising how straightforward these basic home repairs can be. DIY home repairs don’t just save you money; they also boost your confidence in your home maintenance skills.