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11 home improvement projects you can do yourself instead of hiring a professional

11 home improvement projects you can do yourself instead of hiring a professional

There's no better time to DIY

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a job well done – and these DIY projects will boost your handyman status. They are simple enough to do on your own without spending a lot of cash on tools and supplies. Fasten that tool belt and get started!

General painting

“Some DIY projects can be done by homeowners with a small investment in the right tools and a little patience. Painting is a great way to give your home a face lift, and it’s not difficult if you do some research and take your time,” says Newell Slade, general contractor. No one wants to paint a room twice, so paint like the pros and buy high quality rollers and paint and choose a paint that has a primer already in it to save time and money. “Painting can be fun and relaxing if you just let yourself take the time to do it right.”

Patch and prime

There’s plenty of thrifty painting tricks you can use, starting with prepping the wall for optimal coverage. You need a smooth surface for the walls to be blemish free. Even larger holes can easily be repaired with wall patch kits found at home improvement stores. The steps are quite simple and will give your new painted walls a beautiful, smooth finish. “Using a spackle knife, fill in each hole with lightweight putty and scrape the excess off the walls. Wait for the putty to dry and sand down the spot until it’s smooth. Then, prime and paint the repaired spots,” says J.B. Sassano, president of a home improvement franchise.

Peel-and-stick floor

Looking for an inexpensive home improvement that will make a big impact? It doesn’t get much easier than peel-and-stick flooring. “This specific tile is easier to work with and prevents adhesive from oozing through the cracks between the tiles. It can even be installed over concrete if the concrete is clean, smooth and dry,” says Monica Mangin, host of DIY series, The Weekender. If you’re feeling creative, it’s easy to create bold patterns or borders with different using a variety of patterns and colours.

Peel-and-stick panels

Panelled rooms are making a comeback. This time around, the trend is usually horizontal and installation doesn’t require a hammer and nails, even though the panels are made from wood. “Creating a wood accent wall offers a great way to add personality and texture to your space. You can customise your look by playing with thickness and pre-stained colours,” says Mangin. “Mixing and matching the colours and styles will provide an eye-catching piece that pop.”

Penny tile

A tired and worn splashback can be replaced in a day. “Penny tile is a really affordable option, especially when it comes in white, which is one of the more standard colours,” says Mangin. But you don’t necessarily have to buy more tiles to get the colours you want. Mangin says you can customise this DIY home improvement by using enamel paints to colour individual tiles and bake them in the oven to fully cure. “After the white sheets are up on the wall, decide which tiles you want to pop out and then just pop in your DIY coloured tile,” says Mangin. Plus, these tiles don’t require a tile cutter, just a utility knife to cut the mesh sheets to fit the area.


It’s been said that fences make good neighbours, but the price shock of hiring a pro seems worse than the dog next door who likes to do his business in your yard every morning. Whether you want privacy or need to replace a worn-out fence, it’s a project that Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal says you can do if you remember to do two important things: get a survey done to identify the correct property lines, and mark for pipes if you have underground sprinklers. However, there are certain fences that are friendlier for a DIY home improvement. “Based on my experience the easier types of fencing to install are the black aluminium-based products made to look like wrought iron,” says Clayton. “However, for fencing styles such as chain link and solid vinyl panels, I would not recommend doing it yourself – there’s quite a bit of a learning curve associated with getting them just right.”

A lasting first impression

A faded, outdated, or squeaky door doesn’t make a good first impression and it may not provide much in the line of security or keeping out drafts. Luckily you can create a more welcoming entrance by replacing your old door with a new one. Exterior doors are available pre-hung in a weatherstripped frame so all you need are a few tools and basic carpentry tools to install it. Depending on your budget, you can choose from steel doors which require little maintenance, or fibreglass doors that require almost none. Going with steel or fibreglass can save you money over wood, and they won’t rot or warp; the more expensive ones look just like real wood.

Window screen

Using packing tape may be a quick remedy for a hole or tear in the screen, but it’s not a permanent fix. Small patch kits are sold at home improvement stores and a small hole can easily be repaired in just a few minutes with the patch and a hair dryer. Larger screen tears, like from your dog’s excitement over an online delivery, can be a DIY project too, as long as the frame is in good shape. The most popular replacement material for screens is fibreglass because of its flexibility. Since you’re replacing the screen anyway you may want to get the sun-shading fabric which blocks more sun and – bonus – is stronger than fibreglass and aluminium so it’s great for pets.

Light fixtures and plumbing fixtures

“As long as you familiarise yourself with the basics of proper safety procedures such as turning off electricity and water when working, these are DIY home improvements worth doing,” says Brian C. McHugh, owner of McHugh Construction. For lighting, the key is knowing how much space you have to house a new light fixture. For example, ceiling fans come in various blade sizes to suit the size of your room. If you’re replacing a bathroom tap, you’ll want to buy a tap that matches the existing holes in the sink. If you don’t feel confident in your DIY skills, though, it’s better to just do the choosing yourself and leave the installation to the professionals.

Caulk it up

Inspecting and repairing caulk is a project you should do yearly, according to Sassano. “Using caulk to seal cracks and gaps serves multiple purposes: It lowers heating and air conditioning bills by reducing air flow into and out of the home; it prevents moisture that can cause wood rot, mould, mildew and water damage, and it keeps insects and other pests out,” he says. The project will determine which type of caulk. For example, silicone is best for the bathtub and shower area. Start by removing the old caulk, cleaning the surface, and then apply new caulk. Caulk removal tools and solutions make the project even easier.


Creating a backyard oasis can be a great way to express your creativity. A raised garden bed, adding new paver stones, or creating a perennial flower garden involves more sweat equity than expertise. You can still get some help for the heavy lifting. “Ask your local landscape supply to deliver your materials instead of renting trucks or equipment,” says McHugh. “The tools for most jobs such as shovels, rakes and a wheelbarrow are things you probably already have in your garage.”

Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.

Image: Getty Images

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