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August 30, 2022  |  Home

Some think you need experience to improve your home; our home improvement expert weighs in

Every homeowner wants their house to be comfortable, beautiful and safe. Unfortunately, whether you’ve moved into an old home that needs major TLC or just have a few items around the house that require updating, home improvement projects can be intimidating if you don’t have much experience doing them yourself.

Our home improvement expert, Beth Allen, a licensed contractor and founder of HIP Chicks, believes all homeowners can take on some DIY projects if they prepare themselves with the right resources and build the necessary skills. 

Check out her tips for dipping your toe into the world of home improvement and learn what tools and supplies DIYers might want on their workbench. 

How to learn about home improvement

If you’ve never done home improvement work before, the idea of picking up a drill may be overwhelming. However, Allen believes it’s just like learning other skills, such as cooking or driving. “A DIY project is like anything else in life. You have to learn the foundation, and then you build your skills upon it,” Allen said.

It all starts with finding good resources that connect with you and the way you learn to build that foundation. Fortunately, you can find DIY home improvement resources across various media to choose those that work best for you.

Videos

For many people, videos are the best way to learn new skills. You can see the steps and techniques needed to complete a DIY project so you know exactly what to do as you go. Allen points to YouTube as a good source for DIY home improvement videos. You can find YouTube video tutorials on everything from installing carpeting to making built-in shelves. 

Books

For others, written instructions are the easiest to follow. This can mean anything from home improvement books to articles on a trusted website. Written instructions often feature photos or diagrams too. These give you a visual of the project and its steps, which can aid in your understanding of the skills needed for a particular job. 

Hands-on learning

If you’re someone who does better when you learn directly from another person, hands-on or side-by-side learning is the best entry into the world of DIY home improvement projects. In order to pick up some of the basics, ask a contractor friend or a family member who’s an experienced DIYer if you can help them — or just watch — when they caulk their bathtub, replace a lighting fixture or assemble a shed. 

Allen also suggests “politely hovering” when professionals come into your home to handle a specific issue. This allows you to ask questions and see what they’re doing, so you can learn and know more for the next project that comes up around the house. 

How to get started with home improvement

Do your homework

Before you start any home improvement project, it’s essential to do research that helps you understand what the task entails and how to handle it. DIY home improvement shows often provide unrealistic expectations about how complicated or time-consuming the work can be, so you will want to know what you can really expect. 

Allen suggests watching at least three YouTube videos on the type of project you plan to undertake. Look for the similarities between the content creators’ tips — this is where you’ll typically find the proper skills and steps for the task. You can compare home improvement books and articles in a similar way to pick out the most valuable information. 

Allen also recommends asking for advice at hardware and home improvement stores, as long as the associates have a background in the type of projects you’re doing. She explained, “If you’re asking for support, you need to make sure that you’re getting it from a person with the proper ability to give you the information.”

Have the right tools

If you want to get a job done right, you must have the proper tools for your project. This can help prevent unnecessary mistakes or damage to parts of your home, and it also ensures you can complete the project more efficiently and easily. Everyone should have basics like a hammer, screwdriver and pliers, but you may need power tools for more complex tasks.

Start small

When you’re new to home improvement projects, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. While you may want to start with a big project like laying down a new laminate floor, it’s best to stick to smaller projects like installing new baseboards. These beginner projects can give you the practice necessary to build skills that will come in handy down the road for more advanced home improvement tasks. 

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth all the effort doing these projects yourself, Allen firmly believes it is. “If you’re willing to put in that little bit of homework and do that research to make sure you’re doing it right, the joy and pride and money savings that come out of it are huge,” Allen said. 

FAQ

Q. What types of home improvement projects can beginners handle?

A. If you’re new to the world of DIY home improvement, Allen suggests starting with small projects like painting, hanging up items, home weatherization and caulking around the house. Light carpentry projects, such as putting up a chair rail or changing baseboards, are also doable tasks for beginners since they’re projects you can’t screw up too much, even if you don’t have much experience. 

Q. What home improvement projects are best left to professionals?

A. Allen believes homeowners shouldn’t attempt any electric or significant plumbing projects unless they have built up an extremely strong skill set and had an expert guide them through the process. Likewise, DIYers should never take down walls unless they’ve consulted an engineer or architect to determine that it isn’t a load-bearing wall. These home improvement tasks can be dangerous and result in serious damage and expense if they go wrong. 

What you need to buy for beginner home improvement projects

Best Home Depot Home Improvement 1-2-3

Home Depot Home Improvement 1-2-3

This textbook-like home improvement guide outlines the steps for more than 600 basic home improvement projects, making it perfect for beginners. It also includes a 90-minute DVD if you prefer video instructions.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Craftsman Home Tool Kit

Craftsman Home Tool Kit

This tool set contains 57 pieces, including basics that every DIYer needs like a fiberglass hammer, two screwdrivers and pliers. All the tools are corrosion-resistant and have a comfort-grip handle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Rockwell 4.2-Amp Sonicrafter F80 Oscillating Multi-Tool and Accessory Kit

Rockwell 4.2-Amp Sonicrafter F80 Oscillating Multi-Tool and Accessory Kit

This powerful oscillating tool is perfect for DIY newbies because it comes with interchangeable blades for many projects. You can use it to cut, sand, scrape, grind and more, and the oscillating design makes it less intimidating than other power tools and saws. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Stanley Fatmax Tape Rule

Stanley Fatmax Tape Rule

This 35-foot tape measure comes in handy for many home improvement projects. It features large, easy-to-read numbers and has a durable case that can withstand high impact.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Tools-DeWalt Cordless Caulking Gun

DeWalt Cordless Caulking Gun

This easy-to-use caulking gun has a variable-speed trigger that provides greater control over its flow. You can set minimum and maximum flow rates and easily change adhesive canisters. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Pro Grade Paint Brushes 6-Pack

Pro Grade 6-Pack Variety Angle Paintbrushes

These paintbrushes work well for nearly any painting project because the thick synthetic bristles hold onto more paint to save time. They also prevent streaks, and the angled design makes it easy to do cut-in work on walls and trim. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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