20 do-it-yourself jobs that take 20 minutes
Some weekend projects are daunting, but tackle any one of these easy tasks and you'll have made a difference at home, with time left over for football and the family.
1. Jazz up the cabinets
One of the quickest, most affordable ways to update the appearance of a kitchen or bathroom is to upgrade all the knobs and drawer pulls.
But before you head out to buy the new hardware, remove the existing pulls and carefully note their size and screw positions. The replacements of two-screw handles should have the same space between holes. If you can't find pulls to match existing holes in the drawer fronts or doors, find hardware that has a decorative escutcheon or back plate to cover up the old holes.
Before installing the new hardware, give the doors and drawer faces a good scrubbing. It'll be much harder to clean them after the knobs and pulls are installed.
2. Quiet rattling doors
When latched interior doors rattle, it's usually because of a poor fit between the lock set, strike plate and doorstop molding.
Silence the noise by bending out the strike plate's tab, which rests against the latch when the door is closed. The adjustment holds the door tightly against the doorstop molding and ends the rattling. Try using a slotted screwdriver to pry out the tab in the doorjamb. But it's usually easier to unscrew the strike plate, bend the tab with pliers and reinstall the plate. You may have to bend the tab two or three times to get an exact fit.
3. Silence squeaky hinges
Few sounds are as irritating as a squeaky door hinge. Fortunately, silence can be yours in minutes.
First, remove one of the hinge pins with a hammer and a small screwdriver or nail set, then buff it smooth with 120-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand off all rust, dried paint and caked-on gunk. Next, spray the pin with a light coating of silicone lubricant. Tap the newly buffed pin back into place and repeat for the remaining hinge pins.
4. Keep cabinet doors closed
Most kitchen cabinet doors have self-closing hinges. But once the leaf springs inside these hinges fail, the doors won't stay closed. Rather than replacing the hinges, simply install a double-roller catch.
Screw the roller part of the catch to the cabinet wall. Attach the catch's strike plate to the back of the door, aligning it precisely with the roller catch. When you shut the door, the strike plate slides between the two spring-loaded rollers, which hold the door closed.
An even easier alternative is a magnetic catch. Substitute the magnetic piece for the roller and follow the instructions above. Miami-based interior designer Keith Briggs prefers magnetic catches to roller catches. "Magnetic catches have no moving parts to break or wear out," Briggs says, "and the alignment between the magnet and the steel strike plate doesn't have to be perfect for the catch to work."
5. Hang pictures perfectly
Tired of straightening picture frames that hang askew? Permanently place framed paintings or mirrors with a 12-pack of 1/2-inch-diameter, stick-on vinyl bumpers. Affix the bumpers to the rear lower corners of every frame; the bumpers' soft, anti-skid rubber keeps the frames from sliding out of position.
6. Get felt on your legs
Save your wood floors from scratches with a round of felt pads for every bare furniture leg in the house -- tables, chairs and sofas. To make the fix permanent, juice up the pads' adhesive with a dab of polyurethane glue.
7. Nonskid steps
Reduce the risk of slips and falls on stairs by placing strips of stick-on abrasive tape on the treads. The rough-surface tape's various widths are perfect for indoor unfinished basement stairs or exterior deck and porch stairs often traversed in the dark. Remember the pool and hot tub, too. Don't let a slick step ruin a good soak.
8. Straighten sagging shelves
It seems every bookcase has a shelf sagging under the weight of too many volumes. A permanently bowed shelf is not only unattractive, it's potentially dangerous: If the shelf fails, it can slough off an avalanche of books.
Here's one solution: Support it with a vertical divider cut from 3/4-inch plywood, fitted between shelves and oriented like a large book. Make the divider tall enough to prop up the shelf to its original, level height. Conceal the exposed plywood edge with veneer edge banding, or, if you're feeling crafty, a tailored book jacket. To provide proper support for upper shelves and eliminate additional sagging, the lowest divider must rest on the bottom of the bookcase.
Briggs offers an alternative: "To add rigidity, glue and nail a 3/4-inch-thick by 1 1/2-inch-wide piece of hardwood board to the front edge of the shelf. Then support the rear edge with a shelf peg drilled into the back of the cabinet."
9. Recess your rolls
Even well-designed baths can be short on space near the toilet. Save yourself a few inches by recessing a toilet-paper holder into the wall.
Locate a convenient stud, then use a drywall saw to make a neat cut in the adjacent drywall. Drill two 1/8-inch holes through the side of the holder and stud. To hold the frame tight on all four sides, run silicone adhesive around the back of the frame. Mount it to the stud with 1 1/2-inch drywall screws.
10. Freshen the toilet seat
It's surprising how much a new toilet seat improves the look of a bathroom.
To remove the old seat, close the toilet lid and pry open the covers that conceal the mounting bolts' heads. Reach under the bowl flange and get a good grip on the nut below, then loosen it with a few turns of a slotted screwdriver in the bolt above. Repeat for the other bolt.
These bolts are usually plastic, but if they're steel -- and rusted -- cut through them with a hacksaw blade. First, wrap the blade halfway down its length with masking tape to give yourself a safe grip. Protect the porcelain by placing a scrap of cardboard between the toilet and blade, then make the cut. Set the new seat on top of the toilet, flip open the plastic caps and insert the bolts. Reach underneath and thread the nuts onto the bolts. With a hand holding the nut, tighten the bolts from above using the slotted screwdriver. Snap-close the covers to hide the bolt heads.