50 Expert Home Improvement Tips, Tricks, and Ideas
A homeowner's work is never done. Whether something needs to be repaired or it's time for an overall sprucing, there is plenty of projects that keep homeowner's busy. We've rounded up 50 expert home improvement tips and tricks to help make this task a little easier.
1. Have a vision for your finished product.
"Have a good idea about what you would like the whole house to look like once you are finished. Many times we go room by room, and end up with a mix of styles and materials. If you stick to a unified vision, you will end up with a great home." -- Phillippe Diederich, 6 Tips for Home Improvement on a Budget, Mamiverse; Twitter: @MAMIVERSE
2. Seal any gaps between the baseboards and the wall.
"If you notice a crack starting to form at the seam between your wall and baseboard, you shouldn't just paint over the top — that won't fix anything. Instead, add a new layer of caulk to help fill in the gap." -- Lauren Smith, 13 Handy Tutorials Every Homeowner Should Pin Right Now, Good Housekeeping; Twitter: @goodhousemag
3. Install water-saving fixtures.
"Installing water-saving faucets and showerheads will save you gallons of water use. Another energy saver is the use of a two-button dual-flush toilet. These dual flush designs only use a fraction of the water regular toilets use. Faucets, showerheads, and toilets designs are stylish and will definitely move your bathroom design to a new level." -- Bathroom Renovation Trends, Plus DIY Home Improvement Tips, Remodeling Image; Twitter: @AllConstruct
4. Maintain your home's downspouts.
"Make sure that your downspouts on the outside that's attached to the gutters are away from your home and away from the foundation. Otherwise, they're going to start leaking, the water will start dripping and you will have seepage into your basement. So keep it clear and free of debris." -- Sonia Figueroa, 5 Home Improvement Tips for February, SeeSonia; Twitter: @soniafigueroaRE
5. Incorporate fresh flowers.
"Fresh flowers really up the ante of any room, and they feel special. It can be as simple as a $10 bunch of roses from your corner market. They feel so fresh and are perfect for spring. There's something about flowers in a space that elevates a room — and your mood." -- Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, 7 decorating tips from Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent to spruce up your home for spring, Today Show; Twitter: @TODAYshow
6. Increase your storage space.
"More often than not, the older the house the less closet space will be available. The economical answer is to install do-it-yourself closet systems in the bedrooms, entry closets, and pantries. Closetmaid is one example of an Internet site that allows you to redesign your closets online. Large home improvement retail stores will also have tools to help you with these projects, which often do not take more than a weekend." -- Top 10 inexpensive home improvement tips to increase value of your home, Loan City Home Loans; Twitter: @Loan_City
7. Use your tax refund to cover remodel costs.
"For true home remodeling, keep it simple by starting in the bathroom. With your tax refund dollars, you can afford new paint, new flooring, fresh grout, new faucets and perhaps even a stylish new vanity. You'll stay under budget and be proud of the outcome." -- Kate-Lynn Scheib, Reinvest Your Tax Refund Into Your Home With These Home Improvement Tips, 33 Realty; Twitter: @33realty
8. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
"Having a partner helping with the work is the most efficient way to tackle a project. This person can assist you with heavy lifting or moving things or by holding the ladder or simply passing tools your way. He or she also can manage work while you make another run to the home center for more supplies. Having a helper around also provides companionship during tedious projects." -- Home improvement tips learned the hard way.
9. Remove corded window treatments.
"Recalls, regulations, new products and new designs have lessened the dangers, but older existing window cords still pose a threat, and some experts maintain that no corded window treatment— old or new—is completely safe. In addition, some older vinyl blinds present a lead poisoning threat." -- 9 avoidable home improvement hazards, Yellow Pages; Twitter: @Yellow_Pages
10. Refresh your deck.
"If you have a wood deck, start by applying a deck cleaning solution using a pump-up sprayer and clean with a pressure washer or scrub brush. Replace deteriorating boards, and hammer in protruding nails or replace them with deck screws. Finally, apply a clear deck sealer or deck stain to protect the wood." -- Danny Lipford, Simple Steps to Summer Prep, Today's Homeowner; Twitter: @DannyLipford
11. Fix maintenance issues before remodeling.
"Don't put in granite counters if the plumbing or wiring is outdated and needs fixing. You could end up having to rip out what you've done in the near future." -- Simple Home Improvement Tips, Disaster Central
12. Pick the right paint.
"Confused about which paint is best for your project? Don't skip the research. The type of paint you choose is just as important as the color, and can have a major effect on the character of your room." -- Tim McKeough, 5 Major Types Of Paint and How to Choose The Right One, Elle Decor; Twitter: @ELLEDECOR
13. Give carpets a deep clean.
"Simply shampooing the carpets and rugs can make them look brand new again. You can either do them yourself or hire a carpet cleaning machine." -- Anthony Bird, Quick Home Improvement Tips, Riverbank Finance; Twitter: @riverbankGR
14. Ask for references from contractors.
"Bad contractors will be reluctant to share this information and scammers won't wait for you to do your homework. If you can, get references from past customers, both older references to check on the quality of the work and newer references to make sure current employees are up to the task. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other customers have experienced. And always be sure to get a written contract with the price, materials and timeline. The more detail, the better." -- BBB Tip: Home Improvement Scams, Better Business Bureau; Twitter: @bbb_us
15. Freshen up your trim.
"Nothing will make as big of an impact as painting your trim. All you need is paint and a decent amount of patience." -- 10 Home Improvement Ideas: How To Make The Most of What You Already Have!, LiveLoveDIY; Twitter: @livelovediy
16. Replace your garage door.
"One of the biggest returns on your home upgrade investment is to replace your garage door. On average, you recoup 92% on what you spend, according to Remodeling magazine. While custom doors cost a pretty penny, semi-custom will give your home a polished look without the pricey bill. Look for manufacturers that let you customize color, style, and the number of windows as well as the type of closure, but budget at least three times as much as the $430 off-the-shelf basic white hinged garage door you get at big box stores." -- Romana King, Garage and basement renovations for any budget, Money Sense; Twitter: @MoneySense
17. Don't forget about safety.
"Eye goggles will keep your eyes safe from debris, dust and sharp objects. Avoid loose fitting clothing, as it can easily get caught in machinery causing severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries. Properly fitting pants and long sleeve shirts will protect your skin from sun exposure, shooting debris and irritants such as weeds and chemicals. Any exposed skin should be lathered up in sunscreen to prevent sunburn and long-term effects of sun exposure." -- Justin Bright, M.D., Before You DIY: Safety Tips for Home Improvement, Henry Ford Health System; Twitter: @HenryFordNews
18. Choose a neutral color scheme.
"Trends come and go (and can be costly) but if you choose neutral wall colors and timeless, basic pieces they can be dressed up or down into any style or theme you want." -- Laura Richards, 7 Inexpensive Tricks That Made My Home Look Amazing, Country Living; Twitter: @CountryLiving
19. Don't give final payment until you're completely satisfied.
"Release the final payment when you're absolutely certain that you're satisfied with the quality of the work, and no sooner. Hire someone else to examine the work for you, or Review the work yourself over a few days to ensure that you're 100% satisfied with it. See to it the local home improvement service provider has completed the job efficiently and make the final payment only when you're fully satisfied. A paper record of all financial transactions is important for taxes and other purposes, so it is recommended that you avoid cash as a form of payment." -- Tips To Ease Your Difficulties In Finding The Perfect Home Improvement Company, MC Home Improvements; Twitter: @MCHImprovements
20. Vary your lighting choices.
"Layer your lighting sources to create a natural and appealing glow in any space. Mixing and matching table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces and pendants or chandeliers is essential, as each type serves an important yet different task." -- 5 Ways You're Inadvertently Making Your Home Look Cheap, Wayfair; Twitter: @Wayfair
21. Create (and stick to) a budget.
"The truth is not many people enjoy establishing a remodeling budget — and many just don't. Many homeowners prefer to call a remodeling contractor and expect him or her to create the budget for them, which is not the best way to begin." --How to create a remodeling budget, HomeImprovement.com
22. Refresh your bathroom.
"While a kitchen remodel can get pricey pretty quickly, there's a lot of mileage you can get from a bathroom upgrade in the $500 range. Cleaning grout, re-caulking the tub, and replacing an outdated vanity for a granite version can make an outdated bathroom look clean and modern." -- 6 Easy Ways To Boost Your Home's Resale Value, Huffington Post; Twitter: @HuffPost
23. Update appliances.
"Start your green home improvements with energy star appliances because they can save so much energy and help pay for themselves. Additionally, new appliances in the kitchen and laundry room really update the look and appeal of the home. The energy star label makes it easy to select energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, or features." -- Green Home Improvement Tips, Green Werks; Twitter: @greenwerks
24. Don't put off regular maintenance.
"Maintenance is the best way to avoid the most costly home repairs. A few hours on the ladder cleaning out the gutters could save you thousands in foundation repairs. A quick application of sealant on the driveway could buy a few more years before you have to repave the whole thing." -- Dave Roos, 10 Home Repairs That Can Seriously Break the Bank, HowStuffWorks; Twitter: @HowStuffWorks
25. Waterproof exterior walls.
"Even a few inches of water inside your home can cause serious damage to floors, walls, and appliances. Adding waterproof veneer to your home's exterior walls can play a big part in keeping shallow water from seeping into your home." -- 7 More Ways to Prevent Flood Damage to Your Home, HomeOwnerNet; Twitter: @HomeOwnerNet
26. Get an energy audit done.
"Home energy audits provide significant savings over time. Although many utility companies offer free energy audits, professional and certified auditors offer a comprehensive assessment of your home's heating, cooling, ductwork and insulation. Plus, they review your energy bills, which help find savings from, for example, unusually high air-conditioning costs. Companies like GreenHomes America or the Building Performance Institute offer certified auditors." -- Adam Bunyard, Energy audits provide savings on utilities; Twitter: @SnappySvcs
27. Have your HVAC system serviced.
"Have your heating and cooling system cleaned and serviced on the outside of your home. This will ensure it works properly and efficiently." -- 10 Tips to Spruce up your Home for Spring, DiGiorgi Roofing & Siding; Facebook: DiGiorgi Roofing & Siding
28. Be respectful of neighbors.
"Inform the work crew where your property lines are located to prevent materials from being placed in the wrong area." -- 10 Tips for Hiring A Home Improvement Contractor, Fine Line Developments; Twitter: @fineline_dev
29. Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns.
"Many people are apprehensive about mixing patterns, but according to our design expert, mixing patterns is okay so long as you balance scale. So, if you have a large floral, mix it with a smaller floral; a larger geometric pattern paired with a smaller geometric. Find cohesion in the colours within the patterns, rather than the patterns itself." -- 4 Design Rules You Can Break, eieihome; Twitter: @eieihome
30. Don't forget about exterior lighting.
"Exterior lighting makes a home look regal at night. But path lights, flood lights and lampposts also have a safety side benefit: they increase visibility and beef up your home's security. According to a recently released survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 90 percent of homebuyers desire exterior lighting." -- Danielle Blundell, 5 Ways To Increase Your Home's Curb Appeal, Geico; Twitter: @GEICO
31. Evaluate your home's needs.
"Before calling a contractor, come up with a plan. Identify the areas in your home that need some remodeling. Are your windows drafty? What about your living area, Could your entry door be updated? How does your siding look? Start with the most necessary project, and then put the least urgent ones a little down on your list." -- 3 Tips on Prioritizing Home Improvement Projects, Perdue Builders & Supply; Twitter: @PerdueBuilders
32. Have a contingency fund in place.
"If your home builder is good then you will not have to deal with hidden costs because everything should have been put into the contract. One thing that is unavoidable though is when the project scope changes due to unforeseen problems with the home (take for example knob and tube wiring), or you decide to make changes during the project (which happens a lot). It would be wise to allocate an extra 10% contingency to your overall project budget in order to have the funds for if or when the scope changes." -- Ryan Meagher, The Unforeseen Costs of a Home Renovation or Addition, BVM Contracting; Facebook: @BvmContracting
33. Know when to reuse, sell, or replace items.
"This is a great practice, for the most part. It cuts costs, for sure, but sometimes it cuts corners on quality or safety. Before you go writing "Save" on everything, take a second to really think through whether you should reuse an item or replace it." -- Hannah Kasper, How to Save Money on Your Remodel the Smart Way, Fox News; Twitter: @FoxNews
34. Let your flooring be the star.
"If your home is hiding hardwood floors under that carpeting, let them shine if they're in good condition. If you already have hardwood floors but they're looking a little worse for wear, it's time to invest in a good sanding and refinishing. Whether you go the DIY route and rent a sander or pay someone to get it up to snuff, you're looking at a few hundred dollars for like-new floors." -- Kelly O'Reilly, 6 Upgrades Under $1,000 That Give You The Most Bang For Your Buck, Trulia; Twitter: @trulia
35. Install blackout curtains or shades.
"A big chunk of heat loss occurs through windows and blackout curtains or shades can help keep it in. They are also a great for keeping heat out in the summer, allowing you to crank up the thermostat a few degrees and still be comfortable." -- Kelli Cooper, 7 Environmentally Friendly Home Improvement Tips, Naturally Earth Friendly; Twitter: @NatErthFriendly
36. Insulate your home's pipes.
"Copper pipes are great thermal conductors, but they do cause hot water to lose heat as it is transported. By covering these pipes with polystyrene insulating tubing, the pipe will retain its warmth and hot water will stay hotter much longer. In the summer, it will also help cold water to stay cold. Cover as much pipework as possible, including pipes in walls and floors." -- Expert Tips for Household Plumbing, Rona; Twitter: @RONAinc
37. Update your lighting.
"A quality light fixture can burn brightly for decades, but the style can fade. If your lighting fixtures are stuck in the '70s, updating them will instantly transform the look of a room. Plus, switching out old sconces, pendants, or table lamps is easy to do yourself, saving you money on hiring an electrician." -- Anne Reagan, 5 High-Impact Home Improvements for $1,000 or Less, Money; Twitter: @MONEY
38. Improve your water pressure.
"To make sure you're getting all the water pressure you can, clean out the traps in the faucet's end every year. Often, the flow of water is impaired by mineral deposits and other debris stuck in the traps, which looks like a small screen." -- Jim Sulski, A summer maintenance checklist for your home, WECT News; Twitter: @wectnews
39. Enhance your curb appeal.
"Making your entrance eye catching and appealing will increase the value of your home and the homes around you. If your neighbors like your improvements, they may try it themselves and increase the value of the whole neighborhood." -- Superb Tips For Making The Best Home Improvements, Kengtek Solid Home Improvement Advice
40. Spend money to save money.
"Buying a new refrigerator can save you money on electricity. Insulating an attic can save on heating and air-conditioning bills. The improvements you make not only save you money now but may also increase the value of your home." -- Home Improvement Tips, U.S. Bank; Twitter: @usbank
41. Know when to DIY and when to hire a professional.
"Some projects are simple enough to DIY, like swapping out the greenery in the yard. But other projects, like installing solar panels or getting a new water heater, may be outside your wheelhouse and better handled by experts." -- 5 Tips for Tackling a Home Improvement Project, South Florida Times; Twitter: @SFLTimes
42. Visit a potential contractor's current job site.
43. Protect electrical sockets.
"Leaving your wall sockets uncovered leaves the possibility of your kid. You can get small plastic covers from your local store for electric outlets to keep your kid from getting shocked and reaching in." -- Follow These Home Improvement Tips For Your Home, chipdir; Twitter: @Home_Blog
44. Document measurements smart.
"Keep a small roll of masking tape in your pocket and write measurements etc on that. Tear off that measurement and stick it on the doorframe, window, toolbox etc near where you need it. Simple stuff like this that makes life so much easier." -- Mike Edwards, Tips and Hints on Starting a DIY Project, DIY Doctor; Twitter: @DIYDoctor
45. Improve indoor air quality.
"Air quality isn't just about the conditions outdoors. If you have older carpets in your home, they might be hiding contaminants and allergens. The first step to determine if these need replacing is to hire a professional company to test your indoor air quality. If the results prove that your carpets should be replaced, choose environmentally friendly natural products like tile or laminate floors. Hard-surface floors are much easier to keep clean, don't hold odors, give your home an updated look and, in general, are more appealing to buyers." -- 30 Tips for Increasing Your Home's Value, DIY Network; Twitter: @DIYNetwork
46. Don't be afraid to use technology.
"Smartphone apps for home improvement help primarily with the planning and designing phase, making them handy first installations for any home remodeling project." -- Iris Price, 13 handy smartphone apps for home improvement, Clark Howard; Twitter: @ClarkHoward
47. Get rid of popcorn ceilings.
"Used in the late 1950s to '80s, this stucco ceiling became popular to hide imperfections, but in today's housing market it screams outdated — and that's exactly why it has to go." -- Caren Baginski, 8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Home's Value, HGTV; Twitter: @hgtv
48. Weatherproof your exterior doors.
"If your door has fallen out of alignment, take time to make certain your door fits straight before you begin weatherproofing. If you plan to attach a new door bottom with a drip edge, you may have to plane the bottom of the door slightly. You'll want to make certain the strike plate and latches are in alignment." -- Weatherproofing Your Entry Door, Home Depot; Twitter: @HomeDepot
49. Ensure you have the right tools for the job.
"You can't really improve your home much with just your bare hands (you'll need a multi-tool at least!). Equip your toolbox with the essential tools for any minor repair or major project, such as basic plumbing tools. Don't forget your smartphone might be the best DIY tool in your kit, though, and, when all else fails, there's duct tape." -- Melanie Pinola, Top 10 Home Improvement Tips Every Homeowner Should Know, Lifehacker; Twitter: @lifehacker
50. Keep the lines of communication open with your contractor.
"To avoid any problems, you should communicate with your contractor on a regular basis and schedule weekly site meetings. During the renovation process, it is common for homeowners to request changes or additional work. Change orders will affect and delay your project; it's important to have a signed change order for all changes made. Any changes made to the project should be added to your contract." -- Mike Holmes, Planning a Renovation, Make It Right; Twitter: @Make_It_Right