5 DIY projects perfect for beginners – The Washington Post | Hot Mobile Press

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Home improvement projects can save you time and money and leave you with a sense of accomplishment. But if you stretch beyond your skills, they can also leave you with a big mess that you end up having to pay a professional to come in and fix it. Before you begin, it’s important to know what’s doable and what to expect along the way.

Here are four key questions to help you determine if you can handle a specific task, as well as some projects that are good for beginners.

Does this project fit my budget? Tackling a home improvement project can be less expensive than hiring a professional, but budget is still a factor, said Frank Guidry, Lowe’s Clinton, Md.

You can use HomeAdvisor, a home improvement resource that connects homeowners with contractors, to get a rough idea of ​​how much you’re likely to spend on a project. In addition to lists of service providers, the site also has an area where you can estimate costs based on surveys of homeowners. Be sure to factor in the cost of any tools or equipment you may need to buy or rent.

Your local hardware store is another valuable resource. “A knowledgeable employee can help you compare the costs of different materials and get the best bang for your buck,” said Guidry, who suggested bringing photos of your space and showing how you want it to look when finished.

Home improvement projects you can do yourself and ones that should be left to the professionals

Does it match my skills? Staying in your comfort zone with your first home improvement project can relieve stress, so make sure you’re honest about your ability. (After all, you know your limits better than anyone.)

Find step-by-step instructions for your project online and see if you’re comfortable with the tools required. “If you were learning to play the piano, you wouldn’t want to try to play Bach right from the start,” Mitchell Parker said. Senior Editor at Houzz, a home improvement and interior design website. “Same goes for your first DIY home improvement project.”

A smart foundation: “If you know how to do all the steps without Googling, then this is a good entry-level project for your skill,” said David Steckel, a home expert at drawing-pin.com and general contractor.

If you want to stretch your wings a little, learn how to use tools and gadgets through educational programs like DIY-U by Lowe’s, which started this year and includes free workshops with DIY experts. Home Depot also offers webinars with store associates that teach the right safety procedures and skills for specific projects.

Can a mistake significantly damage my home? Some home improvement projects are more risky for home improvement than others. Guidry said it’s best to avoid tasks that require complex electrical, plumbing, or HVAC work. “I would leave these jobs to professionals,” he says.

Steckel agreed. “I’m a practical person, but I would never replace my own toilet because so much can go wrong,” he said.

How long it will take? Consider how many hours you are willing to devote to a project. “Some projects can be completed in an afternoon, while others can take several days or more,” Guidry said. Home Depot has guides to more than 1,100 projects, including estimated duration and difficulty, and many one-day options are available.

5 home improvement projects for beginners

Paint an accent wall. Painting is one of the most popular projects for DIY beginners – and for good reason. “You can always repaint if you mess something up or you’re not happy with the result,” Guidry said.

If you are new, try to start small. (Rather than taking over an entire room, just paint an accent wall.) And while painting is a quick and relatively easy task, don’t skimp on the prep work, Guidry said. “Whether you need to repair wall damage, remove wallpaper, scrape off peeling paint, patch holes, or just clean the walls, it’s important to take the time to complete these steps to ensure that the new paint can be applied as smoothly to a surface as possible,” he said.

Guidry suggests using a roller alongside a small brush that can reach into corners. Use a cloth to protect furniture and any areas you’re not painting, Sarah Fishburne, Home Depot’s director of trend and design, suggested in an email.

Replace kitchen appliances. New cabinet knobs and drawer pulls can give an outdated kitchen a makeover, said Steckel. “It’s also very hard to make a mistake unless you’re drilling new holes,” he said.

Guidry agreed that this is a great DIY project for beginners. “Usually the only tool you need is a screwdriver,” he said. For an easier installation, take one of your current knobs or handles to a hardware store so an expert can help you choose the right size, Guidry said.

Seal gaps around the windows. According to Energy Star, most homes in the United States have significant air leaks. These gaps can skyrocket your home’s heating and cooling bills. The good news: you can usually stop leaks by caulking around windows. To find trouble spots, slowly wave a candle around the windows. If the flame flickers or blows out, you’ve probably discovered a leak. Silicone sealant is moisture resistant, making it an ideal choice for windows.

Dye a deck. Rain and snow can take a toll on wood over time, but staining a wood deck can protect the surface from the elements while bringing out the wood’s rich color and texture. And you can achieve professional-looking results all by yourself. Start with surface preparation: sand the wood, then remove dirt and stains with a wood deck cleaner or pressure washer. Once the wood is smooth and clean, use synthetic brushes to apply two coats of stain for a uniform, polished look.

Replace a shower head. Although plumbing repairs are often best left to professionals, removing a leaking showerhead and installing a new one is generally a quick and easy task. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and unscrew the old shower head. (Some can even be removed by hand.) Then use a wire brush to brush away any rust or mineral deposits on the shower arm, wrap plumbing tape around the arm threads, and screw on the new shower head. If you see leaks when you turn the water on, gently tighten the shower head with an adjustable wrench.

Daniel Bortz is a freelance writer based in Northern Virginia.

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