Don’t think you’ve got the time to tackle a home-improvement project? Think again. Here’s a list of 10 quick DIY home-improvements and repairs that take about 10 minutes each to complete. That’s right, in just 10 minutes you can improve your home and then get on with your life. So, how many of these 10 quick and easy DIY improvements can you do this weekend? Let’s get started!
1 Bedroom Shade Upgrade—Add a little style to your bedroom—and block out morning light—by installing new blackout cellular shades to each window. The shades come in a wide variety of colors to complement any décor and can be custom cut to fit virtually any window. But best of all, blackout shades feature a layer of light-blocking fabric that keeps bedrooms dark and cozy for more restful mornings.
Each shade comes with all the necessary hardware for mounting it to either the window’s vertical side jambs or horizontal head jamb. Simply screw the mounting brackets to the jamb, then slide the upper rail of the shade into the brackets. (The WORX 4-volt XTD Xtended-Reach Screwdriver, shown above, is perfectly suited for this task.)
Some shades are secured in place by tightening a screw on each bracket, but most shades simply snap into place, making installation incredibly quick and easy. And when you go shopping for cellular shades, check out the cordless models, which you can raise and lower without the hassle of yanking on cords.
2 Childproof Your Kitchen—The modern kitchen is where people gather to prepare meals, eat, do homework, entertain friends, and relax after a long day. As a result, more and more children are spending time in the kitchen, which exposes them to hot stoves, sharp knives, breakable glassware, scalding liquids, and hard, slippery surfaces. Here are four quick improvements that you can make to keep kids safe:
- Secure base-cabinet doors with either adjustable slide locks or safety latches. Slide locks are more secure, but safety latches are easier for adults to operate.
- To prevent a child from turning on the stove, install plastic safety covers. The oversized, slip-on covers are difficult for kids to manage, but adults can still operate the stove.
- Install childproof safety straps on the doors of ovens, refrigerators and trash compactors.
- Securely screw in place the kitchen range to prevent it from toppling over should a child open the oven door and then climb onto it. All ranges come with anti-tip hardware. If you don’t have it, contact the manufacturer.
3 Remove Old Caulk—Today’s caulks and sealants are specially formulated to be durable and tenacious, which is great, unless you need to remove them. So, next time you have to remove old, hardened caulk from around a tub or sink, put down the putty knife and reach for an oscillating multi-tool.
Install a sharpened steel scraper blade and use it to slice through the hardest, most-stubborn caulk. Start in the middle of the old bead of caulk, and work your way out in each direction toward the corners. That’s easier than starting in a corner. Don’t apply too much force; let the high-speed oscillating power of the tool do the work for you. And if the scraper becomes dull, sharpen it with a file or bench grinder.
4 Insulate Attic Entry—Most attics have an access panel, hatch, fold-back door or pull-down staircase. It’s important to insulate above these access points to block the flow of heated or cooled air into the attic. The fastest approach is simply to lay insulation right on top of the access opening. But for better results, buy an insulated attic door or attic stair cover. These ready-to-install products provide a quick, easy way to create an airtight seal over the attic access, which can cut energy costs all year round.
5 Install a Slide-Bar Shower—To create a safer, more pleasant showering experience, replace your old showerhead with a sleek, new slide-bar shower. A slide-bar shower consists of a handheld showerhead that snaps onto an adjustable cradle. The cradle, in turn, is attached to a vertical bar. The cradle has a locking knob for positioning the spray head anywhere along the bar to accommodate people of various heights or physical abilities. And the handheld showerhead can be removed from the bar for easily rinsing off soap and shampoo. Here’s how to install a slide-bar shower in about 10 minutes:
Use a pipe wrench to remove the old showerhead and pipe that’s protruding from the wall. Wrap Teflon tape around both ends of a short brass nipple. Thread the nipple into the wall and tighten with a wrench. Take the wall-supply elbow that came with the slide-bar shower and thread it onto the nipple.
Hold the vertical slide bar against the shower wall and about 52 in. above the bottom of the shower or tub. Mark the bar’s screw-mounting holes onto the shower wall. Drill holes through the wall using a cordless drill and carbide-tipped masonry bit, if boring through tile or stone. Use a standard twist-drill bit to bore through acrylic or solid-surface shower walls. Apply a little silicone sealant around each hole, and then attach the slide-bar using hollow-wall anchors. If you happen to hit a wood stud when drilling the mounting holes, attach the bar with stainless steel wood screws.
Finish by threading the flexible shower hose onto the wall-supply elbow, and then clipping the showerhead into the slide-lock mechanism.
6 Add an Electronic Deadbolt—Add an extra level of security to your home by replacing an old mechanical deadbolt with a high-tech electronic deadbolt. Electronic deadbolts provide keyless entry via a personal pass code that you punch into the lock’s keypad. You can also issue permanent or temporary pass codes to other people.
Some ultra-smart models feature Bluetooth connectivity that permits you to operate the deadbolt remotely via your smart phone or tablet from virtually anywhere in the world. However, the really great thing about this quick DIY project is that electronic deadbolts can be installed into the same hole as the old, mechanical deadbolt. There’s no need to alter the door in any way. Simply unscrew and remove the old deadbolt, and slide the new electronic one into place. Tighten the screws and insert a battery into the interior side of the deadbolt. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for programming in your new pass code.
7 Fix Drafty Windows—Double-hung windows are notorious for allowing cold winter air to leak in along the meeting rail, which is the point where the two sashes come together or meet. Most double-hung windows have a single latch positioned in the middle that locks the two sashes together. If that’s the case with your drafty window, try this easy home fix:
Go to a home center and buy a new window latch that matches the old latch. If you can’t find the same style latch, buy two new latches. Then, install the latches about one-third of the way in from the each edge of the sash. For example, if the window is 30 in. wide, install a latch 10 in. from each side jamb. Now, when you engage both latches, the two sash will lock together tightly to seal out drafts.
8 Perfect Picture Hanging—Hanging a framed picture on a wall isn’t a particularly difficult home-improvement project, but as with most things, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. The two most common problems include pinpointing the nail location, so the picture hangs exactly where you want it; and hanging it perfectly level, so you’re not constantly straightening out crooked frames. Here are a couple of quick tips to solve both problems:
To pinpoint the exact-right nail placement, hold the picture against the wall at the desired height, then draw a short pencil line along the top, center of the frame and onto the wall. Next, hook a measuring tape onto the hanging wire attached to the back of the frame. Pull the wire tight and measure the distance to the top edge of the frame. Now simply measure down from the pencil line on the wall that same distance, and drive in the nail. The picture will hang precisely where you want it.
If you’re tired of straightening out crooked pictures, try this simple trick: Go to a home center store and buy a package of small rubber bumpers, the kind with peel-and-stick adhesive backing. Take the offending picture and place it face down on a covered surface. Stick one bumper onto each bottom, rear corner of the frame, then re-hang the picture.
The rubber bumpers will provide a little traction and help hold the picture straight and level. And as a bonus, the bumpers create air space behind the picture, which prevents dust and dirt from collecting and creating “shadows” on the wall.
9 Increase Sink-Cabinet Storage—Here’s a quick way to nearly double the storage capacity of your kitchen sink cabinet. Use a circular saw to cut a 1×10 shelf about an inch or so shorter than the inside of the cabinet. Then cut two short 1×10 legs, making each about 8 in. long. Next, use a cordless drill/driver and 1 5/8-in. drywall screws to fasten one vertical leg to each end of the shelf. Be sure to bore pilot holes to prevent the screws from splitting the shelf. Slip the assembled shelf inside the cabinet and stand it up on its legs. Now you’ve got two-tier storage, allowing you to place items on both the bottom of the cabinet and the newly installed 1×10 shelf.
10 No-Slip Steps—Reduce dangerous slips and falls on stairs by placing strips of stick-on abrasive tape to the treads. The rough-surface tape is sold at hardware stores and home centers, and comes in various widths. The tape is suitable for use indoors or out, and is perfect for basement, deck and porch stairs. Also consider using it on steps leading to a hot tub or swimming pool, where wet surfaces are sometimes slippery.
To apply, clean the surface really well, then peel off the backing and stick down the abrasive strip. And keep each strip about an inch back from the nosing, or front edge of the treads.