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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

    • 5
    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...
  • Walking Path Upgrade

    • 8
    Ten years ago, I installed a pathway from my house to my shop using concrete stepping-stones that looked like log cutouts. I never did like the way it turned out, and it was a monster pain to keep the...
  • Sneak Peek: Ingenious Garage Storage Ideas

    • 6
    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...
  • 10 Tips for Dealing With Water Damage, Mold and Mildew

    • 9
    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...
  • 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...
  • 3 Ways for Woodworkers to Save Money

    • 4
    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...
  • Garage Storage: How Much Weight Can Trusses Take?

    • 4
    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...
  • Garage Security: A Burglarproof Door

    • 2
    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...
  • 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...
  • Splice Wires Easily with this Connector

    • 24
    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...
  • How to drywall: A finishing shortcut

    • 6
    Most home improvement shortcuts lead to trouble. But here’s one that makes drywall finishing faster without regrets later: In closets and other low-priority areas, don’t tape and mud inside...
  • 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...
  • Time to Deal with Crabgrass!

    • 2
    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 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...
  • Prevent peeling paint with water repellent preservative

    • 3
    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...
  • Getting the kinks out: Finding a garden hose that actually works

    • 7
    I'm on a quest for the perfect garden hose. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be perfect, just durable, reasonably priced and not weigh a ton. For years, I used a hose that I inherited from my...
  • Avoid Frozen Sump Pump Pipes

    • 5
    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...
  • Instant Kitchen Storage: Two 10-Minute Projects

    • 3
    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...
  • Restore an Aging Deck

    • 10
    Sponsored by Rust-Oleum My friend Julie has a four-year-old deck. It's never been stained or treated, so it's looking old and gray, and the wood is starting to crack and splinter. When she asked...
  • Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

    • 4
    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...
  • Fast Paint Removal: The Metabo Paint Remover

    • 9
    For the past few years, my wife and I have been remodeling our old house. This summer, I finally got around to the exterior paint. To remove 110 years of paint buildup, I tried all the conventional methods...
  • Three Simple Household Repairs That'll Save You Hundreds

    • 9
    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...
  • Removing Screws With Stripped Heads

    • 0
    You did it...you stripped out the Phillips screw that holds your taillight on, and now you're kinda screwed. Here's a simple solution: Grab your favorite rotary tool and turn that Phillips head...
  • Bookcases: Pro Shortcut for DIY Furniture Makers

    • 4
    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...
  • Cheapskate Picket Fence

    • 5
    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...
  • How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

    • 2
    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...
  • How to remove rust from a table saw

    • 1
    It’s guaranteed. One of my pals comes over to my shop and I offer him a brew. I turn my back and before I know it, there’s an ice-cold beer sitting on my cast iron table saw, sweating condensation...
  • 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...
  • Bagster Smarts

    • 3
    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...
  • “Must Have” Portable Table Saw

    • 3
    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...
  • House Insulation: Winter Curtains

    • 11
    by Nelson Lebo for Fix.com Windows provide us with so many benefits – natural daylight, a quaint view. But during the winter months they become holes in the sides of our homes, letting out all our...
  • 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...
  • Sheds: Easy Sliding Doors

    • 5
    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...
  • PVC pipe vs. ABS pipe: How do you choose?

    • 6
    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...
  • Five Easy Ways to Reduce Yard Work

    • 0
    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...
  • Choosing the Right Paint Sheen

    • 2
    I went to the paint store the other day to pick up paint for the bathroom, and the salesperson asked what sheen I wanted. I'm painting woodwork and the walls. Even though I thought I knew the answer...
  • Woodworking Tip: Clamp Without Clamps

    • 4
    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...
  • 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....
  • Create a Bright, Dry Space in a Damp, Gloomy Basement

    • 9
    Yoga mats, dumbbells and exercise bikes. My wife's growing interest in physical fitness had transformed our living room into a gymnasium. And my suggestions to work out downstairs were always met with...
  • 5 Favorite Easy DIY Projects

    • 3
    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...
  • A New Backsplash in Six Hours

    • 10
    I’ve wanted to install a tile backsplash in my kitchen ever since I wrote an article about them almost two years ago. Well, I finally got around to it last weekend—and the results are spectacular...
  • Beat the Heat and Cut Cooling Costs

    • 3
    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...
  • Rain barrel diverters protect your foundation from overflows

    • 2
    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...
  • Cover cracks with wall liner

    • 1
    Home improvement shortcuts usually lead to trouble. But not always. Fifteen years ago, I tore out most of my crumbling plaster walls and replaced them with drywall. By the time I got to the dining room...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Laundry room plumbing: A recessed PVC floor drain

    • 3
    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...
  • Upgrade your Bathroom Fan: Stop Mold, Wood Rot and More

    • 2
    Now's the time to think about upgrading to a quiet bathroom fan. A bathroom fan is your first line of defense against excess winter humidity, which causes a range of problems, from condensation on...
  • 7 Ways to Make Your Home More Functional in the New Year

    • 2
    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...
  • Don't Burn Down Your House: Preventing Clothes Dryer Fires

    • 1
    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...
  • The Greatest Goofs of All Time

    • 2
    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...
  • 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...
  • Insulated Siding is an Easy Sell

    • 8
    Sponsored by Vinyl Siding Institute I worked in the siding business for more than 15 years. I once installed siding on 90 houses in one year, with only a three-man crew! Granted, that was when I had a...
  • My Workshop Space Saver

    • 11
    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...
  • Running PEX water supply lines

    • 7
    I recently replumbed a house with PEX. The house was sitting on a crawl space with nothing but gravel for a floor. Simply resting the PEX on the ground didn't seem like a good idea, but I was a bit...
  • Bathroom ideas: The power of the shower

    • 6
    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...
  • How to Save Money: Replace Brake Rotors

    • 8
    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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Answer the Door Without Opening the Door

    • 4
    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...
  • 10 Tips for Using a Generator

    • 3
    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...
  • 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...
  • Dremel Ultra-Saw Works Great for Building a Planter

    • 4
    Sponsored by The Home Depot I decided to try my hand at building a cast concrete planter as research for a potential magazine story on the subject. The folks at Dremel recently sent us a new tool to try...
  • 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...
  • How I Saved Money This Month: Cleaning Refrigerator Coils

    • 1
    "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...
  • Top iPhone/iPad Home Improvement Apps for DIYers

    • 8
    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...
  • Maintenance-Free Decking: PVC vs. Composite

    • 3
    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...
  • Intermatic Whole-House Surge Protection

    • 0
    Sponsored by Intermatic You know you need a surge protection device for your computer and printer. But most homeowners never think about the need to protect the other electronics in their home. That’s...
  • 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...
  • Lower Your Utility Bills: Better Bath Fan Controls

    • 1
    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...
  • Deck Finishing: From Blah to Beautiful in Half a Day

    • 4
    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...
  • Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Drive® TIMBER Screw

    • 4
    Sponsored by Simpson Strong-Tie® As many of you know, I've been rebuilding our family cottage for a few summers now. I've doubled the floor space and raised the roof, and I'm in the middle...
  • Build an Emergency Kit

    • 3
    Sponsored by The Home Depot 3M First Aid Kit It's been a wet and stormy spring in the Midwest. We've already had two storms that knocked out the power at our house. When the first storm hit, I...
  • Unclog Drains with the Cobra Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool

    • 2
    If you've ever pulled a 2-lb., rodent-like glob of hair (mixed with an odorous combination of toothpaste, nail clippings and nameless slime) from your drain, you've experience the same gaggy feeling...
  • 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...
  • Garage Organization: Finding Space on High

    • 1
    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...
  • Saving money on Dumpsters for rubbish and trash removal

    • 2
    My son ordered a trash container online for a large demo project we were working on. I stayed out of it—until he told me how much he paid: $512 for a 20-yd. container. It seemed like way too much...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Better Windows, Better Value

    • 2
    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...
  • How to install doors faster

    • 3
    I’ve been a contractor for 10 years and have installed lots of doors the traditional way. But I recently discovered this little gem: The Quick Door Hanger is a simple bracket that you screw to the...
  • Big Ball Level

    • 1
    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...
  • 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...
  • Four Tips to Prepare for the Next Ice Storm

    • 2
    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...
  • Build a Storm Shelter

    • 0
    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...
  • Shop Organization: Idea for a Cheap Tool Cabinet

    • 4
    I'm an inveterate scrounger, so when I saw two used file cabinets put out for recycling; I decided to recycle them myself. I needed a larger tool cabinet for my garage shop, and I thought I could make...
  • Organizing a Chest Freezer

    • 0
    My wife recently told me to quit complaining about our dirty, unorganized chest freezer, and do something about it, so I did. Before: My chest freezer was impossible to keep organized. I emptied the whole...
  • Kitchen Ideas: The proper care and feeding of your garbage disposer

    • 4
    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....
  • Concrete sealer: Protect your driveway

    • 5
    The cause of "spalling" or "scaling" concrete is simple. Concrete is porous and soaks up a lot of water. When that water freezes, it expands and breaks up the concrete surface. Prevention...
  • DIY Safety Tips

    • 13
    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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • High-Definition TV Wiring

    • 3
    Several years ago, I made the leap to Hi-Def TV. Got the HD satellite box and TV, surround sound—the whole bit. I have to say I was disappointed. The picture wasn't nearly as good as I remembered...
  • 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...
  • 3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

    • 4
    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...
  • Pros Shop The Home Depot Too

    • 2
    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...
  • Kitchen ideas: How to clean a stinky garbage disposer

    • 0
    I walked into the kitchen yesterday and a really bad smell was lurking over near the sink. That ever happen to you? One day everything’s fine and then suddenly…it’s truly not. The source...
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