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DIY Advice Blog

Get the latest information on new tools, trends and ideas for your DIY projects from The Family Handyman experts.

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  • 10 Easy Holiday Storage Tips

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    With New Year's Eve just around the corner, you'll soon be thinking about cleaning up after the holidays and getting organized for 2013. Here are 10 of my favorite storage tips to make putting...
  • 10 Tips for Dealing With Water Damage, Mold and Mildew

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    A flooded basement, moldy drywall and mildewed grout are no fun to deal with. Here are tips to help you prevent water damage and mold growth from happening in the first place, and tips for handling these...
  • Sneak Peek: Ingenious Garage Storage Ideas

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    OK, raise your hand if you "store" things on your garage floor or on shelves that are already too full of other stuff. Let's all put our hands down now. I stood in my garage the other day...
  • How I Saved Money: I Made an Old Door Energy Efficient

    • 0
    Save money by sealing your exterior door with aluminum and vinyl weatherstripping. Cut the strips to length with a hacksaw. Then press the vinyl bulb against the door while you drive in the screws. A lot...
  • Splice Wires Easily with this Connector

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    It drives me crazy when I go to replace an outlet or switch and the wires are too short. I've run into wires so short I could barely pull the outlet far enough from the box to loosen the terminal screws...
  • Instant Kitchen Storage: Two 10-Minute Projects

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    Here are two simple projects to organize items in your kitchen. The best part is that each project takes 10 minutes or less to do. Project #1: Super-simple spice storage This storage project will actually...
  • Prevent peeling paint with water repellent preservative

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    How do you prevent peeling paint? Water repellent preservative is the best-kept secret in the world of painting. Decades of university and government studies have shown that WRP adds years to the life...
  • “Must Have” Portable Table Saw

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    Having a fancy cabinet saw is great, but what do you do when you need to go on location? Well, for me the answer is the Ryobi BTS21—a 10-in. table saw with a portable stand. I shopped around, looked...
  • Garage Security: A Burglarproof Door

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    To get real-world garage-security advice, I've spoken with cops, insurance adjusters, even burglars. But one of my most interesting security talks was with a firefighter who routinely busts through...
  • 7 Ways to Make Your Home More Functional in the New Year

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    A brand new year means it's time to reorganize and reprioritize the spaces around your house. The good news is, there are simple ways to gain more storage in the most important rooms in your house...
  • Repair a portable gas heater with a new thermocouple

    • 0
    Portable gas heaters have something in common with gas water heaters. They both depend on a thermocouple. When the thermocouple reaches a certain temperature, it signals the valve to open and let the gas...
  • Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

    • 1
    I'm a yard and garden nut, and there's nothing I love more than digging in the dirt. But I'm also very busy, so I need my yard and garden to thrive without a lot of watering, weeding and fertilizing...
  • Entrance Gates: Replacement Tips

    • 0
    No part of a fence gets more use than the entrance gates. And, if your fence has been in place for a while, chances are the posts are starting to deteriorate and the gates aren't closing properly....
  • Five Easy Ways to Reduce Yard Work

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    If you feel like a slave to your yard trying to keep up with all of its maintenance demands, it's time to set yourself free. Here are some easy ways to reduce or even eliminate basic yard chores so...
  • Slanted Bookshelves

    • 3
    My wife and I enjoy reading, and we seem to acquire a lot of books. A couple of years ago, we ran out of bookshelf space, and since then, piles of books started forming around the house. Before someone...
  • Drip Irrigation for Vegetables

    • 4
    The setup is easy to install and costs less than $50. This raised-bed vegetable garden is watered automatically every three days by a drip watering system. Emitters installed every 12 in. or so provide...
  • Homemade Tool Caddy

    • 0
    I needed a little extra storage space to organize handled tools like shovels, rakes and brooms. My walls were pretty filled up , so I thought I would buy one of those plastic tool caddies that sit on the...
  • My Workshop Space Saver

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    For years I used a store-bought miter saw stand in my workshop. It was light and easy to fold up—great for hauling around in the back of my pickup truck. These days, though, my saw doesn't leave...
  • 5 Favorite Easy DIY Projects

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    Many DIY projects are not ones you would choose. Your house chooses them for you: the clogged toilet, the broken dryer, the lawn that needs to be rescued, etc. But there are also the projects you do because...
  • Beat the Heat and Cut Cooling Costs

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    Ten years ago, I installed central air conditioning in my old house, but the south bedrooms were still too steamy. I thought about reworking the duct system to pump in more cold air, but tried something...
  • Bookcases: Pro Shortcut for DIY Furniture Makers

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    The ideal bookcase has open shelves for items you want to put on display, and enclosed storage space for stuff you don't. But the trouble with enclosed spaces is that they require doors—and making...
  • Don't Burn Down Your House: Preventing Clothes Dryer Fires

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    Lint buildup in a dryer and its vent cuts the dryer's efficiency. Clothes take longer to dry, while your energy bills go up. But the biggest reason to clean out lint is that lint buildup can lead to...
  • Pergola: Add a Fabric Cover for Extra Protection

    • 0
    A pergola is a great way to add a little shade and a sense of privacy to your patio. But the open latticework doesn't provide complete shade or any protection from rain. If you're planning to build...
  • How to Save Money: Replace Brake Rotors

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    A couple weeks ago, I drove my wife's car for the first time in a while. When I applied the brakes from high speeds, the steering wheel shook a lot. I knew it was time to replace the rotors. She has...
  • Sheds: Easy Sliding Doors

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    For several years now, I've been in charge of designing and building our annual shed. The photo here gives you a sneak preview of the shed that will appear in our July/Aug. '12 issue. One of the...
  • Lower Your Utility Bills: Better Bath Fan Controls

    • 0
    A bath fan can save energy or waste it, depending on how long you let it run after a steamy shower. If you don't let it run long enough, a lot of humidity is left in the air, and that forces your air...
  • Top iPhone/iPad Home Improvement Apps for DIYers

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    I'm one of those guys looking for any excuse to buy the latest tools and gadgets to make my workshop complete. Thanks to the computing power of smartphones and tablets, I always carry along a bunch...
  • How I Saved Money This Month: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

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    "The smartest thing you can do for your fridge is to keep the coils clean. It cuts electricity bills and repair bills." Clean refrigerator coils and save money. All it takes is a vacuum, a brush...
  • The Greatest Goofs of All Time

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    Well, of course there's no such thing as the "greatest" goofs, because the best goofs (or worst, depending on your perspective) are always your own. But over the 17 years or so we've...
  • Laundry room plumbing: A recessed PVC floor drain

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    The building code in my area calls for a floor drain in the laundry room. But the laundry room in my house is on a standard wooden floor above the crawl space, not on concrete. So here's the problem...
  • Rain barrel diverters protect your foundation from overflows

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    About three years ago, I built myself a rain barrel from a 55-gallon plastic pickle container. I set it up on concrete blocks about 2 ft. off the ground and placed it directly underneath a sawed-off downspout...
  • Garage Storage: How Much Weight Can Trusses Take?

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    This is the time of year when I bring outdoor stuff indoors and garage storage space gets scarce. My favorite storage solution is to shove more and more stuff "up in the rafters." And that got...
  • Time to Deal with Crabgrass!

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    If you had crabgrass last year, you have thousands of seeds in your lawn just waiting to sprout. And once that happens, you'll likely be looking at crabgrass again all summer. All it takes is one itty...
  • How to Choose a Pond Pump

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    To help you size a pond pump, measure how high the water needs to be lifted. If you're pumping water to reach the top of a fountain, the start of a little river or a waterfall, you have to know how...
  • Four Tips to Prepare for the Next Ice Storm

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    Salt your walks and driveway ahead of time Pick up a bag or container of ice melt or deicing salt at a home center or hardware store and sprinkle it on your sidewalks, steps and driveway. If you have a...
  • Bagster Smarts

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    You buy the Bagster bag, which costs about $30, and Waste Management will pick it up for a collection fee. The fee varies—in our area, it's $70. To find the service and price it, go to thebagster...
  • Bathroom ideas: The power of the shower

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    I've done a lot of remodeling, and I'm pretty sure I'm about to share the absolute fastest and easiest home improvement project I've ever completed. The difference is amazing. On a recent...
  • Using MDF as cheap finished flooring

    • 0
    Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) has a ton of useful applications, but as a finished flooring material? About five years ago, we needed a cheap "temporary" finished flooring solution in our upstairs...
  • Deck Finishing: From Blah to Beautiful in Half a Day

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    If the deck boards on my front porch ever had a finish, it was long gone before I bought the house 10 years ago. The dull gray decking combined with my gray steel siding had to produce an unimpressive...
  • Build a Storm Shelter

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    Do you live in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes? Maybe you've been considering building a storm shelter, also known as a tornado room. It's relatively easy to design a room to do double...
  • 3 Ways for Woodworkers to Save Money

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    Woodworking can be one expensive hobby. High-quality blades, sanding belts and router bits are costly—and worth every penny. Here are three great ways to make these items last. A sharp blade that's...
  • Better Windows, Better Value

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    I've been replacing windows this summer, and pondering change. I've cut out 2x4s in the old walls that aren't much different from what you'd find in any home center today. But the windows—wow...
  • Big Ball Level

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    Looking for a level that’s super easy to read? Check out The 24-in. level uses what’s called an “aviation style ball” instead of the traditional vials for readings. Basically, that’s...
  • Kitchen Ideas: Faux granite countertops that are surprisingly easy and inexpensive

    • 0
    For the June '11 issue of The Family Handyman magazine, we transformed a blah, boring kitchen into something really special with four simple and inexpensive projects. One of these projects was to cover...
  • Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Tips

    • 4
    The period after the hurricane is as dangerous as the storm itself. High winds and storm surges cause a lot of property damage during a hurricane. But more people die in the aftermath of a hurricane than...
  • How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

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    As my buddy walked up the driveway, he noticed my condenser (the exterior unit of my central AC system), which was caked with dirt, grass and even a few dead insects. He gave me a look that said, "You're...
  • Three Simple Household Repairs That'll Save You Hundreds

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    In the past year, I've done three appliance repairs that I'm sure would have cost me three or four hundred dollars if I would have called a repair service. All of these are common problems that...
  • Customize your Flat Screen TV Mount

    • 1
    One of the first things you see when you come in the front door at our house is the side of the flat screen TV. We wanted to hide the wires and mounting hardware so that the TV would be less conspicuous...
  • Husqvarna AWD mower

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    We have a cabin on the banks of the Mississippi River, and the "lawn" is more like a sandbox with a jungle of weeds. And with high water and whatnot, I don't get down to mow as often as I...
  • Simple Workbench in a Day

    • 0
    Looking for a cheap and easy workbench plan? You can find a lot of plans online, but most are for serious woodworkers who don't mind spending hundreds of dollars and several days building a workbench...
  • Frugal Living: Make Your Vacuum Last

    • 3
    A vacuum repairman once told me that he was going to name his new boat "The Bagless" in honor of the vacuums that paid for it. Bagless models don't end up in his shop because they're...
  • Avoid Frozen Sump Pump Pipes

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    Last fall I tackled a little project that could have caused me big problems. The previous spring, I had a drain tile system installed in my basement. The system discharges outside, and I quickly tired...
  • Rose Gardens: My Radical Response to Japanese Beetles

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    My Japanese beetle-bedraggled roses are in the very back row behind the peony (in 2011). Japanese beetles chow down on roses! My North Star cherry was lovely in bloom (before those beetles chomped on it...
  • Stop Roof Leaks Before They Start

    • 0
    Torn rubber and missing nails can allow gallons of water into your house. It's springtime! The snow is gone, and this can only mean one thing: It's time for my yearly roof inspection. Living in...
  • Backyard Structures: Three Projects to Inspire You

    • 0
    Well, it's almost spring again and time to start planning for that backyard structure you've been thinking about. At our house, we've been contemplating a gazebo over the patio and are just...
  • How to Plan for Kitchen Cabinets

    • 4
    Last year, my son and I bought a 25-year-old, rundown foreclosed house, really cheap. Part of the remodel (a.k.a., a complete rebuild) was of course replacing the kitchen. There really wasn't much...
  • Pergolas: How to Build a Pergola

    • 0
    There must be just a little bit of Italian romantic in most of us—even me, a no-nonsense German! What else could explain our love for pergolas? OK, some people call them arbors or gazebos, and the...
  • Save energy and save money: Seal attic air leaks

    • 1
    Even though this winter is milder than usual in many parts of the country, you're probably still paying more than you should to heat your house. Even if you've checked your attic insulation levels...
  • DIY Safety Tips

    • 4
    Being a DIYer isn't especially dangerous, but there are risks when you're using tools and ladders. Every year, emergency rooms report hundreds of thousands of visits for injuries caused by power...
  • Garage Organization: Finding Space on High

    • 0
    I have enough camping gear in my garage to start my own REI store. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my garage organization and storage. One of the most successful was...
  • What The Avengers Can Teach Us About Home Remodeling

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    Photo courtesy of Marvel. Marvel's The Avengers had a record-setting opening weekend of $200.3 million dollars. A lot of us saw the movie, but if you didn't, don't worry, there are no spoilers...
  • Kitchen Ideas: The proper care and feeding of your garbage disposer

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    I came home from work the other day, and there was a plumber's truck out in front of my neighbor's house. Turns out her garbage disposer had once again been the victim of poor decision-making....
  • Answer the Door Without Opening the Door

    • 1
    Sponsored by Vtech You can add all the deadbolts you want, but the second you open your front door to greet an unexpected visitor you expose yourself and your family to some risk. Of course, you can view...
  • Favorite Electrical Tool

    • 2
    Every time I install new electrical cable, I wind up using three tools. First I use a utility knife to slice down the center of the cable jacket and remove the excess jacket. I figure I'm doing well...
  • The Family Handyman: July/August is on sale now!

    • 1
    Whoever wrote, "Summertime and the livin' is easy" must have been living in a simpler time. Most people I know are up to their eyeballs with summer obligations: games and recitals and end...
  • How to get rid of mice

    • 4
    We never have mice in our house in the summer. Apparently the detached garage and stone patio wall are good enough for them during warm weather. But once the temperature dips into the low 60s at night...
  • Dickies Multi-Use Pocket Work Pants

    • 3
    I ask a lot of the pants I wear here at The Family Handyman. First, they have to be ready for me to go back to our shop and spend the day doing carpentry. They also have to be dressy-looking enough that...
  • Pros Shop The Home Depot Too

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    I recently bought a hot tub for the backyard and needed to run electricity to it. I know a little bit about wiring but didn’t feel comfortable adding a new circuit to the panel. Luckily, my neighbor...
  • How to Buy the Perfect Home—for a DIYer

    • 3
    Sponsored by Realtor.com It's home-buying season, and whether you're buying your first or your third home, it's an exciting (and sometimes terrifying) undertaking. The good news is that DIYers...
  • Woodworking Tip: Clamp Without Clamps

    • 3
    Years ago, I was helping a grouchy old cabinetmaker build some small wooden boxes. “These mitered corners are gonna be a nightmare to clamp up,” I said. “No problem,” he muttered...
  • How to Make a Shade Tree Thrive

    • 0
    Shade trees need lots of water but not all at one time. Rule of thumb: Stick your finger in the soil near the tree; if saturated, don't water. I spent part of last weekend digging out two-year-old...
  • Kitchen ideas: A better sink drain

    • 3
    Ninety-nine percent of drain lines under sinks are bound to leak sooner or later. That’s because the parts are made from thin plastic and joined with “slip” joints that slip together...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Generator

    • 2
    Generators can be a real lifesaver. But used improperly, they can be a killer, too. Carbon monoxide and electrocution hazards are real dangers if you don't know what you're doing. Here are a few...
  • Maintenance-Free Decking: PVC vs. Composite

    • 1
    Do you know how to avoid staining a deck? Build it from something other than wood. There are a hundred different low-maintenance decking products on the market, but the two most popular are composite and...
  • How to Build a Deck: Prevent Rot at the Patio Door

    • 1
    Plan on building a deck? Reduce the chance of water infiltration—install the decking a few inches below patio and entry door thresholds. It's true that decking installed at the same level as...
  • Secure, Monitor and Control Your Home from Just About Anywhere

    • 0
    It's easy to buy home security equipment on the Internet. And home energy and automation gear is just as easy to find. But buying the hardware is the easy part. Programming the devices and making the...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Chain Saw

    • 2
    A chain saw is one of the most dangerous tools a do-it-yourselfer will ever handle. One mistake and you can wind up with serious injuries. Here are 10 common sense tips to protect you and your property...
  • 10 Tips to Survive a Blackout

    • 0
    A power outage is more than an inconvenience; it can lead to expensive repairs and may even be dangerous to you and your family. These tips will help you protect yourself, your wallet and maintain some...
  • Best Father's Day Gift Ever

    • 2
    Adam's mother gets him to finish the painting job in Tom Sawyer-like fashion. We had spent every weekend for two months getting ready for our oldest son Sean's high school graduation party. The...
  • Impact Drivers Make Great Drills

    • 3
    Along with a crew of tool testers, I'm working on an article about cordless impact drivers. Before the hands-on testing, most of us figured that impact drivers were great for driving screws, but second...
  • Cheapskate Picket Fence

    • 2
    I needed to make a fence for my new dog. Lady has the dangerous habit of roaming about the busy county road that we live on. I love my dog, but I'm also cheap. I thought I could get by with spending...
  • Monitor Your Energy Consumption

    • 1
    My wife and I were recently going over our monthly bills trying to figure out how we could save a little money. When our electricity bill came to the chopping block, the chest freezer in our garage became...
  • Sharpen a chain saw blade in two minutes with the Oregon PowerSharp

    • 1
    I hate sharpening chain saws. It takes forever and interrupts your woodcutting, and I’m never quite happy with the results. There are all kinds of gimmicks you can buy to make the job easier, but...
  • Dumpster Smarts: Getting Rid of Demolition Trash

    • 4
    I'm in the middle of completely gutting and rehabbing a house. So far, the debris has required two 20-yard trash containers to the tune of $800. When you're talking about trash containers, space...
  • Tools That Make Yard Work Easy: The Big Backpack Blower

    • 3
    I live smack dab in the middle of an oak forest. Believe me, I know all about leaves in the fall —I'm talking 2-ft.-deep drifts over a half acre of driveway and yard. At first I had one of those...
  • Car trim: Repair your car's molding

    • 1
    Carmakers long ago stopped using spring clips to attach car trim and molding. Instead, they use adhesive tape. The tape works well. But chemicals like wax and bug remover can destroy the tape's bond...
  • The perfect clamps for installing kitchen cabinets

    • 1
    I've owned this pair of giant locking Vise-Grip clamps for more than 25 years, and I can't tell you how useful it is when it comes to installing kitchen cabinets . (The real name is Vise-Grip 18...
  • Protect your deck from joist rot

    • 1
    Last summer, I helped a carpenter buddy tear out a rotten deck. The joists were pressure-treated lumber, so I was surprised at how badly decayed they were. But my friend wasn’t. He sees it all the...
  • Easy Repairs With Epoxy

    • 0
    Most of the houses on my block are more than 100 years old, so as you can imagine, they need a lot of maintenance and repair. I was walking the dog the other day and ran into one of my neighbors who owns...
  • My Best Backyard Idea Ever: Eliminate Grass Trimming

    • 2
    Well, I can't really call it my idea. But it is the best little project I've ever done in my backyard because it saves me hours of grass trimming every summer. Here's the idea. Set a row of...
  • Bathroom Ideas: Offset Shower Controls

    • 1
    Centering a shower valve right under the shower head is standard procedure. But I like to offset the valve to one side. That way, the hose from a handheld shower head won't get caught on the handles...
  • Xeriscape Gardening: Growing Plants With Less Water

    • 0
    My zone four xeriscape garden has a succession of blooms from spring through fall including pink soapwort, alliiums, dianthus, artemisias, Russian sage and native grasses. All of these thrive in low water...
  • Water Softener Salt Smarts

    • 1
    Sponsored by Cargill If your water is high in iron, buy pellets formulated for iron removal, like the type shown. Don't skimp by buying cheap rock salt. In the end, the money you save will be far offset...
  • PVC pipe vs. ABS pipe: How do you choose?

    • 4
    Ask a bunch of plumbers which is better and you probably won’t get an answer, just an argument. Some say PVC is best for long-term, leak-free drain lines because it’s stronger. Others say ABS...
  • 3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

    • 2
    According to a study I've been conducting for the past 20 years, almost every home in North America needs at least one of these plumbing repairs. And that's a shame, because each of these plumbing...
  • Garage flooring: Resurfacing and repair tips

    • 4
    Yes, that really is my garage floor pictured to the right. It’s a detached garage—one of those that looks like a little cottage in the back of a small city lot. At one time it was a poured...
  • It's Elementary: Teaching Kids to DIY

    • 2
    When a pipe leaks or a door sticks, some people grab their toolbox. Others grab their phone and call a pro. For that second type of person, home ownership is frustrating and expensive. And I don't...
  • Laundry room storage ideas: A home for hangers

    • 2
    When I remodeled my laundry room, my motto was “a home for everything.” I installed cabinets and shelves and drawers and pegboard… But the nicest little storage feature is this towel...
  • “Green” your lawn with drought-tolerant turf

    • 1
    Here are a couple of eye-opening factoids: — U.S. homeowners spend more to maintain their lawns than the average farmer spends on each acre of crops. — For the average home, 50 to 70 percent...
  • Winter Driving: Tips to Stay Out of the Ditch

    • 1
    Here in Minnesota, we had our first taste of winter driving a few weeks ago when a surprise dusting of snow fell on warm asphalt and froze, turning the roads into a virtual skating rink. Traffic was snarled...
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